Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pearson's Cafe, volunteers aim for and exceed goal for most pies

It’s been an annual tradition at Saint Joseph’s College for the past six years: A few days before Thanksgiving, the college community makes pies for Catherine’s Cupboard Food Pantry. The tradition continued this year, but with two slight changes. In addition to providing Thanksgiving pies for Catherine’s Cupboard, the reach would expand to area food pantries. Secondly, the college—with help from students, faculty, staff, alumni, and neighbors—would attempt to break a world record for the most pies made and lined up end to end.
On Monday, November 24, after more than eight hours of work in Pearson’s Café, the final tally of apple pies came in shortly after 9 p.m. A total of 1,548 apple pies had been assembled and lined up, covering 56 tables. Pending verification from Guinness World Records officials, this breaks the previous record of 1,477 pies, set in 2013 in Germany.

This goal, which Pearson’s Café general manager Stuart Leckie set in November 2013, represents a year of planning, collaboration and teamwork.

After the final pies had been counted, documented, and the achievement celebrated, the pies were placed into individual boxes, which were folded one at a time with the assistance of the college’s baseball team. On Tuesday, the pies were distributed to area food pantries just in time for Thanksgiving.

Assisted by Portland's Wayside Food Programs, the pies were distributed as follows:
400 to Catherine's Cupboard Food Pantry
300 to Westbrook Food Pantry
300 to The Root Cellar
50 to the Salvation Army
100 to Wayside Food Programs
100 to other area pantries

Remaining pies were split between Preble Street Resource Center and Sacred Heart Food Pantry.

Windham Chamber Singers put everyone in the holiday mood - By Michelle Libby

The holidays do not start in Windham and Raymond until after the Windham Chamber Singers An American Family Holiday concert, which took place Saturday. With two sold out shows, the chamber singers and special guests Rachel York, Ashley Liberty and Daniel Strange entertained with holiday classics, fun numbers and a story read by Channel 13s Kim Block at both the afternoon and evening concerts. Block acted as the master of ceremony. The majority of the concert was based around music from classic holiday stories. 
“I think this show is better than the Magic of Christmas,” said Carolyn Hoppe of Gray. “I love how the kids are into it. Dr. Nickerson allows them to be uninhibited.” 

The singers put a lot of work into the show each year with early morning practices and new songs to learn each year. “We’re happy to give joy to the community, and the community gives it back to us,” said chamber singer Gardner Reed.  

Strange and Liberty, who now live in Florida with their 2-year-old son Harrison, return year after year to perform for their hometown crowd, having grown up in Windham and Gray. This year the pair performed two world premiere numbers, “It Takes Time” performed with the Windham Chamber Singers and “Beneath the Star at Midnight” featuring Liberty on electric violin in the vein of Mannheim Steamroller.
“I get into the zone,” said Strange about his fingers flying over the piano keys. “I’m feeling everything you guys are feeling, all the moments.”

The audience enjoyed the concert with frequent standing ovations. 

“This is my sixth concert. What’s not to like?” asked Bill Dreyer of Windham. “I like the whole thing from the beginning to the end.”

This was York’s first trip to Maine, she told the evening audience. “It’s like a picture postcard,” said the Broadway actress who has performed in 11 shows to date. 

York entertained the audience with her versatile and powerful version of “I Will Always Love You” written by Dolly Parton. She sang it in the voices of different “divas” showing her range and talent.
Carly, Jill and Nealie Morey were on the computer to get their tickets when they first went on sale in October, scoring second row center seats. The mother and daughters had never been to the concert before but were drawn by Rachel York’s reputation. “I’m enjoying Rachel York. She’s got a lot of spunk,” Jill said. 
Windham Chamber Singers director Rick Nickerson was elated when both concerts were over. “We are hoping to get through it. That’s why we surround ourselves with professionals. This concert epitomizes to me what this community is all about,” Nickerson said. 

American Family Holiday is a concert not to be missed. Year after year the talent in Windham raises the bar and puts on a show that rivals all other holiday concerts. 

“As Kim says, ‘It’s a great way to start off the holiday season’,” Herb Hoppe of Gray said. 

Community groups place wreaths on Veteran graves throughout Windham - By Michelle Libby

For the second year, Libby Sawyer coordinated local Scouts and Veterans from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion to gather on the first Saturday in December to place wreaths with red, white and blue bows on each Veteran’s grave. The program called Everlasting Gratitude is based on the Wreaths Across America program where wreaths are laid on graves at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Libby, who owns Studio Flora, makes sure that each of the 800 Veteran’s graves in town receives recognition. She teamed up again with Sebago Gardens and The Little Log Cabin Montessori School to raise money to pull off this feat.   

“I’m so thankful that people are willing to do this with us. It’s been amazing all around. There are two Boy Scout Troops and Girl Scout Troops and one troop helped make the bows,” said Sawyer. 

Saturday was a rainy, cold day, but that didn’t stop the boys from Troops 805 and 51 and the girls from Troop 193 from Windham and Troop 1741 of Raymond. 

“I heard it was going on and I wanted to do that. The veterans need recognition even after they’re gone,” said Sophey Potter, from Troop 1741. 

Several girls from the Raymond troop have relatives buried in Arlington Cemetery. “That was very personal for our girls,” said troop leaders Caj MacDonald and Jennifer Potter. 

For those who would like to donate to the cause, visit or drop off checks at Studio Flora, 889 Roosevelt Trail in Windham.

The girls from GS Troop 1741, Chelsea Welch, Lindsey MacDonald, Mya Bolk and Sophey Potter, whose  great, great Uncle was also buried in the cemetery, clean off the headstone of Barry Lombard, a Veteran who died a year ago.

Boy Scout Troop 805, Girl Scout Troop 1741 and organizers of the event pose after laying wreaths at Arlington Cemetery last Saturday.

Carbon monoxide education vital issue for area fire departments - by Michelle Libby

Last Thursday, fire chiefs from area departments and the local legislative delegation gathered at the Windham Public Safety building to discuss Carbon Monoxide (CO), its dangers and symptoms and ways to keep families safe this winter. 
“We want to send out the message for other communities on education and awareness,” said State Senator Bill Diamond, who moderated the press conference. “Carbon Monoxide detectors haven’t caught on like they should.” 

“Any fossil fuels you burn can generate carbon monoxide,” said Fire Chief Brent Libby from Standish. The symptoms of CO poisoning are headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. “Know and respond to the symptoms,” he added. 

There were 170 deaths nationwide between the years 2005 to 2011 due to CO poisoning. Twenty of those deaths were in Maine. Over 800 people were taken to the ER with CO symptoms.
Carbon Monoxide mixes with air and people breathe it in causing them to have symptoms because of the misplaced oxygen. They fall asleep and never wake up. 
In 2011, Raymond experienced a double fatality because of CO. The home had a properly installed generator, but it had not been maintained and there were no CO alarms in the home, said Raymond Fire Chief Bruce Tupper. 

Public buildings are not exempt from the danger of CO poisoning. Raymond Elementary School had to be evacuated because of a CO incident last winter, said Tupper. No one was injured in that incident.
Carbon Monoxide detectors can be battery operated, or hard wired if it’s plugged into a wall outlet with the battery backup.   

CO poisoning is preventable if there is a detector in all sleeping areas in a home, said Chief Jason Moen from Casco. “Change batteries every daylight savings time,” he added. It’s not just for smoke detectors anymore. He also recommended that homeowners have their chimneys cleaned once a year and clean power vents in pellet stoves. 

Cars, snowmobiles and other engines should never be left running in the garage. People can quickly be overcome by the CO from the exhaust. Generators should be run outside of a home at least 20 feet from any building. 

South Portland Captain Mike Williams is the second district vice president of the Professional Firefighters of Maine, a group that works with 28 units or departments and personnel, discussed legislature that is being addressed to make CO detectors more regulated in places like hotels and inns, as well as in multi-family dwellings. At this time CO detectors are required to be added to a home before it is sold or if it is a new construction or a rental. 

“Change does not happen until a tragedy happens. Why should we wait until someone dies to take action?” Williams asked. There is a financial cost, approximately $35, associated with purchasing a detector, but putting a price on a life makes the cost justifiable. It is recommended that there be a CO detector on every floor of a home. The legislature plans to use a common sense approach to CO detectors. They don’t want to mandate them for everyone, but strongly recommend them. 

Windham is not without its tragedies. A father and son were using a Salamander heater during a power outage. The CO level in the home was 800 to 900 parts per million. The first responders “rushed in to rescue the victims and were overcome in a short period of time. They were hospitalized overnight,” Windham Chief Charlie Hammond said. “It mixes really well with air. You can’t taste it, smell it or see it.”

Windham has been handing out CO detectors purchased through a grant since last year and still have a few left. “We handed them out to people who can’t afford them,” said Hammond. “What we’re doing today could save a life.” 

Rep. Mark Bryant has seen the effects of CO poisoning in our community. “We’re here to support that legislation. It’s not just a little town problem,” Bryant said. “It’s a silent killer.”

A CO detector is equally as effective as a smoke detector as long as it is plugged in. 

Fire departments have brochures to help educate the public and will continue to encourage other districts to spread the word about the dangers of this gas. 

All of the chiefs agreed that awareness and education are the key ingredients to keeping residents safe this heating season.