Friday, March 17, 2017

Time at school with a Japanese exchange student by Stephen Signor


On March 9, I was afforded the opportunity to shadow a Japanese exchange student, who arrived in the United States two weeks ago. This was part of the ongoing efforts through Greenheart and its dedicated High School Programs Department to connect students with other nations and promote leaders - through a collection of programs and initiatives. Keishi Goya, a 16 year old freshman from Okinawa, was here in the United States for the first time, which is not always the case. Visiting students have a pretty good handle on the English language, but not always. 

Japanese exchange student, Keishi Goya, studies using laptop
During the first week here, as an introduction to American culture and the education system, all of the Japanese exchange students, and some host parents, went to Boston. “There were also year-long exchange students who attended the trip too, with their host sisters and brothers. They went to Harvard and toured the iconic school with its alumni and also had lunch with them,” shared Skylyn Vokey, a junior at Windham High and President of the International Club. They also got to ask a board of Harvard students questions as well. In addition to Harvard, the exchange students enjoyed a little free time to see some sights. They went to the Old North Church and Quincy Market to which Goya indicated, “I like Quincy Market very much”.

For this enthusiastic student it was a chance of a lifetime. When it comes to learning, one of the first things he shared was about the access to technology. “School is different here. We don’t have laptops back home in the classroom.” 

But that is just a small difference. In Japan the length of a school day can be as long as 11 hours. “The day starts at 7:30 a.m. and classes end at 4:00 p.m. Then there are mandatory activities and chores like cleaning the school,” continued Goya. With two hours a day of homework on top of that, sleep is at a premium and leaves students tired every day. In addition to long hours the school year is lengthier in Japan. “We start school in April and finish the following March,” shared Goya. Only a one month vacation during the summer and two shorter ones makes vacation seem shorter for them.
During Social Studies class, Vokey served as a chaperone and organizer alongside a team leader from Japan, Koki Keiko - while Goya listened intently. Teacher, Brandon Champion later shared, “This is my second year teaching here so this is the first time I have had foreign exchange students. I had quite a few that came into my fourth period class. Nation Emerges, a class which students learn the first part of US history, touches on the development of tariffs. So I took the opportunity to relate and talk about taxes/tariffs on Japanese cars. It was very good.”

Goya and the other exchange students left Windham High School on Friday March 10; but did not leave the United States. Their next stop is New York City where they will become tourists and take in additional American culture. On March 17, they will begin the long journey home. When asked if he missed Okinawa, Goya replied, “No, I want to live in the America. I like it.”

Legislative Forum a step in the right direction by Lorraine Glowczak



The Legislative Forum presented on Saturday, March 11 by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce (SLRCC) and St. Joseph’s College, was a successful morning of discussions, questions and answers among local business owners and individuals with their Lake Region Delegation.

The event began at 10:00 a.m. with networking opportunities among the 45 to 50 local business professionals who attended, followed by respectful and solution focused dialogue from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Rep. Jessica Fay
“I was extremely pleased with the turnout and the diversity of businesses represented,” stated Executive Director of SLRCC, Aimee Senatore. “I was encouraged by how civil and respectful the discussion was and am grateful we were able to cover several key issues impacting our local businesses. I believe that those in attendance were also encouraged and several key connections were made.”

Brad Pollard, owner of Cole Farms Restaurant and Pub in Gray, was the first to address the legislative panel, sharing his concern regarding the passage of the Question 4 initiative. “The minimum wage increase that passed in November will have a devastating effect on the wait staff’s income,” Pollard explained. He stated that if the referendum is not adjusted to accommodate servers, they will soon see a wage decrease. Pollard further explained that it is the tips they rely upon for the bulk of their income and is what allows them to support their families. With the referendum as it stands now, the decrease in tips will have detrimental effects on the quality of their lives.

Dave Pollard, co-owner of Spring Meadows Golf Club in Gray expressed his concern regarding the expansion of the sales tax to recreational businesses. He explained to the panel that 70 percent of his customer base comes from hardworking Mainers who do not have a lot of disposable income. The tax increase will demand that he increase green fees, which he has not done in eight years. Dave Pollard also stated that, although he understands the need for controlled pesticides, the bills that limit pesticide use, influences the course itself. He reminded the panel that golf courses have trained professionals who apply the pesticides.

Other concerns and issues expressed by attendees included: the 3 percent surtax due to the passage of the Question 2 initiative, the legalization of marijuana, the access to broadband internet, zoning and building codes as it relates to the “tiny home” movement, as well as the flexible code enforcement that varies from town to town.

The legislative panel addressed each issue and concern as it was expressed and informed everyone present as to what actions are being taken in Augusta regarding the subjects expressed.
Rep. Patrick Corey and Sen. Bill Diamond
Rep. Patrick Corey (R-Windham and Sen. Bill Diamond (D)-District 26, reiterated that party politics play a very small role in their work together. Rep Jessica Fay (D)-Raymond, Casco, Poland invited everyone to speak to their representatives. “Come to us and tell your story,” Fay said.

The success of this event was due, in part, through the work of SLRCC. “The toughest challenge with organizing these types of forums is securing the legislators,” Senatore stated.  “Because they are so busy and often in Augusta - finding one day and time that works for all is very difficult. Representative Fay of Raymond/Casco/Poland deserves a lot of credit for organizing the Lakes Region Delegation which met for the first time in Augusta on February 15th.  I was lucky enough to be invited to the meeting and was thrilled that everyone present was motivated to get this forum scheduled as priority. Less than a month later, here we are!”

The legislative panel included Phyllis Ginzler (R), Susan Austin (R), Mark Bryant (D), Patrick Corey (R), Dale Denno (D), Jessica Fay (D), Lester Ordway (R), and Bill Diamond (D).  Ellie Espling (R) and Richard Cebra (R) were unable to attend due to a conflict.

“We will definitely be scheduling another forum of this type in the coming months,” Senatore continued. “In addition, the Government Affairs Committee of the chamber will be working on an economic development tour of our region to take place this summer. The delegation will be invited to tour economic development sites, visit with key local businesses, and get a greater feel for how they can help the region prosper.”

As for the legislative forum that occurred on Saturday, it seems it was viewed as a step in the right direction. “It’s always a good thing to get people in a room and start a conversation,” expressed Fran Monroe of the Community Economic Development in Gray.

Those that want to be included in future announcements should follow the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce on Facebook or sign up for their e-newsletter on the homepage of their website: www.SebagoLakesChamber.com

PowerServe will provide community services once again in memory of those who have passed by Elizabeth Richards


PowerServe Saturday - a morning of community service organized by Young Life Sebago, will be held on Saturday, May 13th.  This is the second year for the community-wide event.

Genevieve Delano, director of PowerServe and a junior at Windham High School, said that the event was initially planned as a one-time thing, but there were many requests that it happen again after last year’s event. “One hundred percent of the people we got survey results from, wanted to do it again,” she said.

That was exciting for the committee of organizers, who started planning for this year’s event at the beginning of the school year. PowerServe has a main sponsor, Gorham Savings Bank, and the committee is currently reaching out to other potential sponsors. “We’re really excited to do it again,” Delano said.

Students from last year's event
Last year, PowerServe was dedicated to Shane Donnelly, a classmate who passed away. This year, Delano said, the event is dedicated to the overall community and making that community better - but also acknowledge both Shane and another classmate, Kelly, who passed away when she was in fifth grade and would have been graduating with the senior class this year. “The senior class is doing a lot, with graduation especially, as a tribute to Shane and Kelly,” Delano said. The PowerServe committee wanted to do something similar in support of their families, moving negative energy and sadness into positive energy that can be used towards making the community better, she said. 

Participation last year was over and above what the committee expected, with close to 300 participants and 18 different projects completed.  “We had a great turnout and everybody loved it,” Delano said.  

Last year, most projects took place on the school campus and included: Planting, gardening, building bridges on the cross country trail, and painting dugouts.  This year, similar projects are planned, but the group also hopes to expand projects, to have a wider impact in the communities of Windham, Raymond and Gorham, Delano said.  One new project for this year is to partner with the police department in Windham to fix up the outside of the station, and do some planting in the K9 memorial garden, Delano said. 

Anyone with a project idea can contact the committee at: powerserve@yahoo.com. Projects might include yardwork for veterans or people who may need assistance, park clean up, and “Anything that people can tap into that we might have missed,” Delano said. 

The committee encourages people to register in advance if they plan to attend, so that teams can be organized, and people can be placed on a project that coincides with their skills and interests.
Registration is free, and can be done online at: www.sebago.younglife.org. The first 250 registrants will receive a free t-shirt. The event begins at 8:30 a.m. and a complimentary lunch will be served at noon.

Delano emphasized that PowerServe is a community service event, not a fundraiser. Sponsors support the event, but there is not an effort to raise funds, beyond what is needed to successfully complete the planned projects, provide t-shirts, and provide lunch. The flyer promoting the event succinctly described the overall goal with this statement: “Serving our community and each other is a powerful way to connect with others and find significance and joy in our own lives. By coming together as a community from all walks of life with many different skills and voices, we can make a difference.

This May, we invite you to PowerServe as we remember those no longer with us.”


Friday, March 10, 2017

Safety and security improvements to be made to Raymond Elementary School Playground by Lorraine Glowczak



The Windham/Raymond Schools, RSU14, have announced the construction of a new playground space in order to improve safety and security at Raymond Elementary School (RES).  Through a long-term application process with the U.S. Department of Defense, RSU #14 and RES are the recipients of the military’s Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) to help with the building of the playground space. The Maine National Guard will begin their two-week training, making many of the necessary improvements beginning in June of 2017.

Adding soil to the playground
From the discovery of the needs of additional playground space to the present has been a six-year process. A preliminary design of a small ball field was developed in 2011 and this remained a concept until the fall of 2014 when a dedicated group of administrators, staff and parents began the process of change for the RES playground space.

Alissa Messer has been an instrumental parent involved in the RES playground space project.  Messer was concerned that the RES playground had many deficiencies. “The school’s playground has a significant sloping hill that creates numerous problems, like falls and injuries during recess time”, Messer explained. “In addition, the playground had no fence to secure the area. Located adjacent to a wooded forest, it’s concerning to have children run after balls into to woods out of clear sight, picking up ticks in the wooded area and securing the area from unwanted visitors such as wildlife and hunters.”

As a parent, Messer could have easily requested that a change be made and put all the work on an already over worked school and district staff.  Messer became the change she wanted to see, working alongside school officials to make the needed safety and security modifications.

With the support of the RSU #14 School Board and Superintendent Sanford Prince, Messer reached out to Eric Tarbox, Scout Executive/CEO of the Pine Tree Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which had recently been the recipient of the military’s IRT. “I asked Eric if he thought the playground improvement project would fit within the scope of the IRT.”  Messer explained that she was grateful for Tarbox's advice and recognized he was of great assistance in the process for the RES playground IRT submission.

Per the website of the Department of Defense: “Innovative Readiness Training builds mutually beneficial civil-military partnerships between US communities and the Department of Defense (DOD) to provide high quality, mission-essential training for Active, Guard, and Reserve support personnel and units, deliver military readiness and partnership capacity to serve when the nation calls, at home or abroad and contribute to American prosperity by meeting public and civil-society needs.” (www.irt.defense.gov/)

Although Messer is a change maker, she calls attention to the fact she did not do this alone. In fact, other parents, teachers, administrators and even the students jumped on board to make the change happen.  It was really important to Messer to have this be a team project. From the  third grade student Oscar Horowitz, who designed the logo for the project with his Grandfather Rudy, to the now sixth grade students who helped in applying for a grant, the “Drive for Education Grant” established by Berlin City Auto. “Together, the students created a ‘Where’s Phil’ video skit highlighting the dangers of the playground and the need for ‘fill’ to even out the soil variations on the play field,” Messer said.
Playground before soil added

The video and grant proposal was submitted in the fall of 2015. The grant proposal was accepted and an award of $1,750 was received on December 8, 2015.
Other funding sources include generous donations from a variety of local businesses.
Community fundraisers have included working with local businesses such as the Good Life Market for holiday pies, ongoing Hannaford gift card sales, as well as continuing support from Pickle Ball Games at the RES. 

A true example and as a result of resilience (RES motto for this year) and being the change one wishes to see in the world, the playground will become not only a safer environment, but secure as well,” Messer stated. “The project will benefit our students and community by creating a level playing field for the students to enjoy, reducing exposure to ticks, adding security and provide an enhanced learning situation when kids can use the recess time as an outlet and management for energy throughout the day. This play area is not only for school time use, but often community families can be found utilizing the space after hours and throughout the summer.”

The Maine National Guard will begin the first phase of many towards the improvement of the playground and will make the RES their home for two weeks, sleeping in the gymnasiums and utilizing the Jordan-Small Middle School kitchen.  Look for more information on the military drill in future communications.

"I am so excited the Raymond Elementary School Playground Expansion is progressing for the students, staff and community,” Vice Principal Hutchinson stated. “I wish to publicly thank Alissa Messer for her commitment and dedication to this project. We would not have been able to accomplish this without her!"

“Break-a-leg” carries literal meaning for star in Windham Center Stage’s “Wizard of Oz” by Walter Lunt

No one expresses those classic theatrical words of encouragement, “break-a-leg” to Olivia Elder who plays the leading role of Dorothy Gale in Windham Center Stage’s “Wizard of Oz”. She already did.
Olivia, 13, had secured one of two cast roles of Dorothy and had learned her lines when she helped her brother clear snow from a high deck at their home. When they finished, both jumped off into the pile of snow.

“He landed okay, but I hit where the snow was soft and my leg broke in two places,” she stated.
It was just before the start of rehearsals for “The Wizard of Oz”, Young Performers Edition - when director Diane Hancock got the call from Olivia’s mom.
“Olivia was devastated and assumed she would have to give up the role”, said Hancock. But not so fast - If Olivia was willing, the production staff, the cast and the family would all pull together to “make it work.”

“I learned a lot about myself,” said Olivia, “I never had a leading role before (so) I had to push myself. Mostly, I was worried that I would let down my cast.”

As it turned out, she didn’t. The performance was reblocked (stage maneuvers) to support Olivia’s crutches. And the 39 other cast members, second through eighth graders, stepped forward to accommodate; giving special meaning to the phrase “supporting cast.”

“Oz, For Young Performers” is the adaptation of the classic 1939 musical drama about young Dorothy of Kansas who dreams of what’s over the rainbow.  Her adventures begin when a twister carries her and her dog, Toto, off to see the wizard via the yellow brick road. In her dream world, she meets: Scarecrow (If I only had a brain), the Tinman (If I only had a heart), the Cowardly Lion (If I only had the nerve) and, of course, the Wicked Witch.

“These kids sing beautifully,” says Hancock, “and it’s because of the music teachers in the school system and the directors of area music venues, who foster excitement and passion about m
Cast A
usic.”
“Oz” is performed by two separate casts (distinguished by cast A and cast B), each consisting of 40 young performers, ages 7 to 13. There are 12 performances on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from March 10 (Opening Night) to March 26.

“We had lots of new kids auditioning this year.” said Hancock, “Kids from Greely, Waynflete, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Gorham, as well as Windham and Raymond; and more boys than usual. I think that’s because this isn’t a ‘princess show’. It’s a classic from our childhood.”
Annika Mocciola, who plays Dorothy in cast A, said she let out a scream of joy upon learning she had landed the leading role.

“My friends called me out of a music lesson at school and we all danced (in celebration).”
The angelic voices of both Dorothy’s give a smooth and stirring rendition of the show’s famous, “Over the Rainbow”.

Cast A’s Wicked Witch is played by Lucy Hatch, 12. “I just finished playing a villain in another play - now I’m a villain again. They loved my cackle (during the audition).”
Gianna Stevens, the cast B Witch, joked, “I get to be not myself,” adding with a flourish of her arms, “obviously, I’m not wicked.” Stevens worries about her Witch’s laugh. “I practice it all the time and ask people if it sounds okay.”

Emma Chase, 12, describes her role as the Scarecrow in cast A, as “…floppy, clumsy, goofy and happy. A fun role from a movie we grew up with.”
Cast B Scarecrow, Hannah Perfetti, was more introspective, “I’ve been shy my whole life and this allowed me to step out more.”

Maddie Hancock, 12, said her part as the cast A, Lion “…was the one I wanted because it was a challenge. I worked with the staff on voice and delivery so I wasn’t just a middle schooler on stage.”
The Lion in cast B, is Kate Ramseyer, who feels hers is “One of the most fun roles. Lion is whiny, annoying (but) comedic, and I like making people laugh.”

The Tinman posed a challenge for the actors in both casts. Daphne Cyr, 12, in cast A, characterized the role as, “Amazing! It taught me so much about acting (especially) the ‘tin walk.’ I was nervous (because) it’s hard to stay in character all the time.”
 
Cast B
“I had to up my game,” said cast B Tinman, Alex Robbins, a fifth grader. “Before, I just had ensemble or bit parts. I was surprised (to get a leading part); lots a’ lines - kind a’ hard.”

Dorothy’s faithful dog, Toto, is played by Monica Farley (A) and Autumn Wood (B) – both fourth graders. The Toto’s are scrappy, fun and full of stage energy. While most cast members admitted that they hoped for the part of Dorothy (but settled happily for the role they got), Farley said she was going out for the part of Toto; “When they closed the door (at the audition), I dropped to my knees and acted like a dog.”

Wood said she loves playing Toto. “I’ve got two dogs at my house – I watched and studied them (to get into the role).”

“These kids make my job easy,” says Hancock, “they’re talented. They’re excited. We don’t have to push them. And one of the coolest dynamics of all our shows is the social environment. The younger children admire and emulate the older, more experienced kids. Then the younger ones become the mentors to a new generation of performers.”

Dorothy and her friends are complemented by: The Munchkins, Trees, Winkies, Flying Monkeys, Ozians and more. “Oz” is a youthful blend of music and comedy set amidst the classic conflict of good and evil.

“Oz” is directed by Diane Hancock with musical direction by Patrick Martin and choreography by Andrea Levinsky.

Why see it? Hancock says, “Because it’s a classic and the kids are awesome!”
And all the performances promise to “break-a-leg”.

For show times and more information visit: windhamtheater.org/Shows/wizardofoz.htm <

Friday, March 3, 2017

Refuge church finds a home in Windham By Stephen Signor

After an extensive, exhausting search for a venue, the Reverend Adam Herald and his wife Tanya have found, at least temporarily, a home for the next three months to startup their new church - The Refuge. Just days ago the Heralds and their dream team were setting up and rehearsing for their inaugural day of worship at the Windham High School auditorium that commences this Sunday March 5 at 10 a.m.

Pastor Adam Herald rehearsing at WHS auditorium
Their names may be familiar having gained some exposure through what they call, interest hangouts. To incite awareness in their church, the Heralds have been conducting information services at locations like the Dugout, the Veterans Center, the library and for a few weeks at Pats Pizza, since moving here from Illinois just 7 months ago. As time passed, interest grew and helped set the stage for their ultimate goal of conveying a message.  “With a last name that means ‘messenger’, it’s part of who I am. As a youth pastor for 12 years and having attended Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, there was always the desire to be a church planner”, shared Herald.

The name Refuge came as a message from the obvious point that is found in the book of Psalms: Chapter 91. “The whole passage talks about refuge, but not just refuge, but making God our Refuge. He becomes that place we can run to during the storms of our lives. Our battle cry is: Never be overtaken. It’s a good mantra to have based on scripture. You can’t go wrong in my opinion,” stated Herald.  

http://www.pongratzlaw.com/Expect the unexpected. First impressions are important. To this end, as part of what they call a dream team, a first impression team, or parking lot crew for the layman; they will be there to greet church goers. “So many churches put all of the emphasis on the music and on the message. But what happens from street to seat, is the most important part of our first impression team,” explained Tanya Herald. To emphasize her point she added, “We tell the team - you are not parking cars, you’re parking people. By the time they’ve made it into the service, they will have made enough connections to gain our trust and listen to what we have to say. Their first impression will be made within the first 11 minutes.”

But that’s just the beginning. With a simple stage design and lighting, there is just enough to enhance the worship experience. “We know that people are used to the boring standup, sit down experience and we wanted to bring something that’s alive,” explained Adam Herald. “It’s to interact with all the senses. So many times when you go to church it’s just auditory. So if we can add visual, they start to connect and feel things more,” added Tanya Herald.

To dispel and disperse any fear out there that the Refuge may even remotely resembles a cult, Tanya explained, “Cults are more about their own agenda and we are not about that. We have credibility through our church planning organization Association of Related Churches (ARC) that has funded us, trained us and released us to this area.” ARC has planted over 600 churches in its 15 year existence all over the country. This is the first church planned through ARC in the state of Maine.
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Furthermore, like most services this service is geared for everyone regardless of age. But unlike most services, the Refuge offers designated spaces by age. “We have rented the auditorium for the Bigs (adults), the cafeteria or Eagles Nest for the Middles (grades K to 5) and two class rooms for the Littles (ages 3 to 5),” shared Adam. “This is done so that parents can relax. There is no role at the Refuge that is not the most important role. To insure this, the ‘team’ has been trained for weeks and undergone background checks, done through the state of Maine; we’re going by the state of Maine regulations of adult to child care ratio. We also have different policies and procedures in place, plus there are first responders on site at all times. We’re not here to make a new church; we are here to make a new culture. We want people to say this is a church for people who don’t do church.” added Tanya Herald. 

With Easter the second largest attended service of the year, the strategic timing couldn’t be more perfect, perhaps divine. “We’re starting March 5, so that gives us six weeks until Easter.”

FMI visit: www.arcchurches.com/  and or to pre-register children, visit: refugemaine.church/

Raymond Community Forest offers more than recreational activities By Lorraine Glowczak

A foggy morning stroll
It was a cloudy and foggy winter morning last Saturday, February 25 when Franklin Glowczak of Windham took an early morning walk, in the newly established Raymond Community Forest in Raymond, with his dog Zarah and her four-legged friend, Mallomar.

“This is the first time I have hiked the trails of Raymond Community Forest,” Glowczak stated. “I want to come back this summer and hike it again to see what it looks like in full bloom and without the foot of snow that remains today.”

It was just a year ago, when the Raymond Community Forest was a project - making its transition from the ownership of Hancock Land Company to the stewardship of Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT). With the sale and purchase on June 21, 2016, the 350 acres have been preserved forever and will provide recreational opportunities such as hiking, snowshoeing, biking and hunting.

However, the RCF does not only offer leisure time activities, it also provides Raymond and the surrounding communities, with educational, historical, cultural, environmental and financial advantages too.

“There will be an interpretive trail that offers interesting information, from tree identification to historical and cultural features to watershed quality,” stated Jon Evans, LELT Stewardship Manager. “The Raymond Community Forest will also continue to provide forest products to local mills, supporting the local economy, as it has for decades. Loon Echo elects to pay property taxes on its fee owned lands including Raymond Community Forest.”

Beginning as a dream by local preservationist and members of organizations such as the Raymond
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Conservation Commission and LELT, the preserved land is based upon the community forest model.
Per the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations (FAO), the original concept established in 1978 regarding the community forest model includes, but is not limited to: 1) meeting the basic needs at a rural community level, 2) the provision of environmental stability and 3) the ability to generate income and employment for the rural area with the intent of “active participation of the population, with external involvement being of a supportive rather than management nature.”

In regards to watershed and the environmental impact on the drinking water provided to the towns of both Raymond and Windham (as well as the Greater Portland Area), the LELT places high importance on working with those in the Sebago Lake Region to ensure the high standards and quality of the drinking water remains.

“There are 200,000 people who obtain their drinking water from Sebago Lake,” stated Thomas Perkins, Executive Director of LELT. “We work collaboratively with other organizations such as the Portland Water District as well as home and land owners whose land filters water going into Sebago Lake, to ensure the quality of drinking water for 54,000 households.”

To guarantee not only the quality of southern Maine’s drinking water but to continue the recreational, educational, cultural and financial opportunities for the Raymond and Windham areas, community and monetary support is vital to the Raymond Community Forest’s success.

“Membership is what allows us to be stewards of the properties we’ve been given,” Perkins continued. “We are preserving the landscape and the rural characteristics of this area. Our conservation efforts create jobs. For this and many other reasons, Loon Echo is worth supporting.”

Financial support through donations and memberships are always appreciated. Fifty one percent of the operating revenue for LELT goes toward stewardship and the monitoring of 6,700 acres of property (nineteen conservation easements and nine preserves, including the Raymond Community Forest).

One can also support the organization by volunteering time to maintain not only the trails at the Raymond Community Forest but the many other 31 miles of trails that LELT oversee. Also, an individual can participate in the variety of free events that the organization hosts throughout the year - including the upcoming event on Saturday, March 11. The LELT invites the public to join their staff as they hike Pleasant Mountain 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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We do not need to travel far to get a dose of nature with the many trails at the community’s disposal - having the Raymond Community Forest right in our backyard.

“Maybe the most exciting aspect to consider,” Evan explains, “is that 100 years from now, this wonderful forest will be managed as it is today; for the benefit of animal habitat and water quality, while enhancing the quality of life of those that choose to wander through it.”

To learn more about Raymond Community Forest, to become a member, volunteer and to learn about all the events, visit LELT website:  www.loonecholandtrust.org/