Friday, December 6, 2019

Highlighting the Town of Windham successes

Anglers Road expansion on Route 302
By Lorraine Glowczak

“We rarely celebrate the projects that have been completed and have successfully taken place by the Town [of Windham],” stated the Director of Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Thomas Bartell. “For example, we never had a ribbon cutting for the Anglers Road Project that has promoted recent profitable business and development expansions which have contributed to the town’s recent successes.”

The truth is, as a society, we often find fault in municipality efforts but rarely take a moment to focus on the accomplishments that contribute to a socially, financially, culturally and environmentally healthy community. It is for this reason we take the time to celebrate a few accomplishments that have occurred in recent years in Windham, often with the help of civic minded volunteers. 

http://seniorsonthego.com/Although there are many successes to highlight, such as the headway Windham has made in supporting the water/lake quality improvements of which The Windham Eagle and other local newspapers have reported, the focus of this article will be on the following: Brand Road improvement, LED streetlights and economic development as a result of the Angler Road project.

Brand Road Improvement:
Windham is a small, rural town that is growing and expanding. In order to keep up with the growth, roadways must keep up as well. Although there are many roadways that need to be considered, Brand Road has been a challenge for the Town of Windham for many years. Thirty years to be exact.
Brand Road is a town road located in North Windham between two major thoroughfares, Routes 115 and 202. As such, Brand Road is travelled by many motorists as a shortcut between the two routes. Having to withstand heavy travel, Brand Road became unsafe and, especially during the winter months, impassable.

Windham citizen, Mike O’Brien, purchased property on Brand Road in 1985 and has lived there since 1989 – when it was a small dirt road. He has been a long-time advocate to improve the road’s safety.
https://balsamridgechristmas.com/index.php“During the 1990s, as more homes were being built on the road, there was significantly more traffic  
and it was becoming problematic,” O’Brien explained. “Not only were there potholes but there were many dangerous incidents that included a town sand truck that slid off the side of the road and spilled sand and salt. Unfortunately, the salt killed trees along that lined the side of the road.” O’Brien also added that there were many incidents that involved school buses as well.

It was a that point that O’Brien looked to the Town Council to improve the roadway for safety reasons. “I was told in not so kind words to forget about it,” he said. That was his first attempt 30 years ago.

But O’Brien didn’t stop there. He collected signatures and submitted petitions – not once, not twice but three times -to no avail. It wasn’t until 2014 when he approached the then new Town Councilor, Jarrod Maxfield that O’Brien’s persistence paid off.

“Mike called me up soon after I was elected in my first election,” began Maxfield. “I invited experienced Town Councilor, Dave Nadeau, to join me in talking to Mike. We went to his house and sat in his garage with a neighbor on a Saturday morning and had a conversation. After listening to his story, we told him we would do what we could to improve Brand Road.”

Town Councilors David Nadeau (L) and Jarrod Maxfield (R)
stand on the improved and more safe Rand Road
with Windham resident and advocate Mike O'Brien
Fast forward to today; Brand Road has been widened and paved. “Kids are able to ride their bikes and
people can walk their dogs on the road safely now,” O’Brien stated. “I can never thank Jarrod and Dave enough. When they sat with me in my garage and listened to me – they promised they would not drop the ball. And they didn’t. They stayed with me the whole way to get this road improved for safe travel. Jarrod and Dave would calm me down when I felt upset and they kept me informed. Again, I can never thank them enough.”

LED streetlights:
The Town of Windham is working with the communities of Raymond, Gorham and Standish to cut costs that stem from energy and electricity consumption produced through essential streetlights by converting them to LED street technology.

The towns are working with a consulting firm, RealTerm Energy, a company that works closely with municipalities to install reliable and affordable LED lighting upgrades, often providing the service to groups of towns working together. In this case, the collective buying will be a result of the collaboration between the four Lakes Region towns.

https://www.miracle-ear.com/locations/windham-me/?utm_source=Print&utm_campaign=Links&utm_medium=Short+URLsAlthough the exact cost savings is still being analyzed, it is determined that the upgrade to LED
stoplights will cut cost significantly. “Based on RealTerm’s analysis, the Town could see a potential 77% savings in its annual streetlight costs, and a five to six-year payback on the initial capital investment to purchase the LED lights,” stated Gretchen Anderson, Stormwater Compliance Officer.

Anderson also stated there are other benefits in addition to the cost savings. “Converting to LED streetlights has multiple benefits. The Town has the ability to reduce its energy consumption by 71% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70%, while improving visibility and public safety. Furthermore, the town can make the most of the streetlight conversion by utilizing Smart Control technology.”

According to axiomtec.com, Smart Control technology allows a city to schedule lights on or off easily and set dimming levels of lights so a city can provide the right level of lighting intelligently. 

Smart street lighting control systems accurately detect light failure and other maintenance problems in real time so malfunctions can be fixed quickly. This intelligent system provides the operator with web access for automatic or manual monitoring and control over illumination performance. 

Additional smart automation systems such as temperature and pollution sensors, traffic signals, security, fire detection, visibility conditions and traffic sensors may be integrated and supported easily.

https://bgperennials.com/As Anderson stated, LED and Smart Control technology can further increase energy and maintenance
savings, decrease light pollution, and increase safety on Town streets.”

The completion of this street-light conversion is still being determined and the timeline is forthcoming.

Economic Development as a result of Anglers Road Project:

In approximately 2008, the Town had a vision to develop the land behind Bob’s Seafood at the intersections of Route 302 and Anglers Road with the purpose of business and economic growth. There was one challenge, however, in that plan. Angler’s Road is a private road, and as such, state and federal transportation funding would not be available to expand Angler’s Road to accommodate traffic.

“As a result, we (WEDC) had to purchase the land in order to give the town the right of way, making it a public roadway,” explained Windham Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC) Director, Thomas Bartell. “This purchase facilitated the construction and allowed for Federal and State DOT participation in the funding of the project.”

https://www.egcu.org/autoAs Bartell explained in this week’s Real Estate column, the Windham Town Council provided the “patient capital” to finance the purchase of the land via a low-interest loan through the Tax-Increment Financing program. The “patient capital” was vitally important to the success of this project which ended up being ten years in the making.

Bartell explained in an interview that there was much that had to happen in 10 years in order for the
project to be completed successfully. “There was a lot involved such as the planning and design process and market evaluations – all that simply takes time.”

Although it did take some time, the property is now all sold, and the town is paid back what is due to it, including interest.

The original vision of 10 years ago is now a reality. As Bartell stated, the Angler’s Road intersection has been upgraded, Bob’s Seafood has been transformed into a full-scale restaurant, bar and seafood with a 2,000 square foot expansion – adding 25 new jobs, the addition of the community-based Momentum organization as well as the newly built 42 unit condos. Plus, there is more coming in the near future.

And speaking of the future, perhaps it will be good to stop from time to time and recognize the accomplishments that do take place within the town. Whether you are or have been a town manager, a town councilor, town staff or a town volunteer – we take this moment to say thank you for a job well done. Of course, there is always room for improvement….but for now….let us focus on the good that has been accomplished so that we, as a town, can move forward in a positive and solution-based manner.

Windham Christian Academy students juggle many “Maine Adventures”

WCA students have the privilege of being featured in a Reny's
commercial.
By Lorraine Glowczak

If you have lived in Maine long enough, there is one commercial jingle that plays in the minds of everyone, young and old alike. In fact, if asked to sing a tune associated with Renys Department Store, without hesitation the sing-song response would be an immediate, “…..a Maine Adventure”.

But perhaps what some may not know is that the commercials are performed by Mainers who simply
send in a commercial clip to the Renys website and are chosen upon their level of enthusiasm and creativity. “Refined musical talent is good… but not as important as enthusiasm,” the Renys website states. “Keep it real. Get creative. We like creative. Have fun! The better it looks and sounds and the more creative, the more airplay is likely.”

http://www.richardsonsby.com/Default.aspThe seventh and eighth grade students at Windham Christian Academy (WCA), who also happen to be talented jugglers, must have enthusiasm, authenticity and creativity as a part of their juggling
repertoire. Their Principal, Jackie Sands, recorded the young WCA students as they each managed tossing tennis balls, clubs, machetes and battle axes while singing the well-known Renys’ advertising jingle and sent it in for airplay consideration.

“I submitted the video clip onto their website and was waiting to hear back from them,” stated Sands. “But they just started running it in their commercials. One of our student’s parents saw it on TV and informed us that the students were on the air.”

So now, it should be duly noted that we have twelve famed personalities right here in the Windham and Raymond communities.

When asked if they’ve been spotted by others in their recent Renys commercial debut, eighth-grade student Grace Hawley admitted that their fame hasn’t been noticed quite yet. “Well, except for my grandmother. She thinks I’m famous,” Hawley joked.

Lillia Freeman juggling battle axes
But the Renys commercial is only the beginning of what the talented young jugglers can do.
The students provide a variety of performances throughout the state and beyond. In this past fall semester, the WCA jugglers have performed at the Barron Center and the Root Cellar in Portland, The Veteran’s Home in South Portland and the Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in Augusta, to name just a few organizations.

They will also be performing this spring at other Christian schools and church services throughout the state with end of the year performances in Burlington, VT as they participate in the Memorial Day Parade there. Their four-day Vermont excursion will also include an invitation to perform at a Methodist Church in Essex Junction.

The titles of their juggling performances include: “David and Goliath” (includes juggling on stilts), “The Prodigal Juggler” and “The Wise and Foolish Builder”.

“It is a form of ministry our seventh and eighth-grade students present to spread the gospel in a fun and engaging way,” explained WCA Middle School Teacher, Rick Hagerstrom, who has been juggling since the age of 14.

Hagerstrom has been juggling on a personal and performance level at various venues for 44 years. “It all began when I was a teenager watching an episode of ‘M*A*S*H’”, Hagerstrom explained. 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1125044117685794/“Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) was juggling in one show and as I watched him, I wanted to do it - and
I knew I could do it.”

Hagerstrom has shared his love of juggling with the WCA middle school students for the past 11 years.

According to jugglefit.com, there are many benefits to juggling. A few of those advantages include the following: sharpening focus and concentration, acting as a stress reliever, improving coordination, helping to ward off cravings and best of all – anyone can do it.

Student Anna Seavey explained the progression of learning how to juggle. “You begin juggling with tennis balls,” she explained. “Once you successfully get 100 throws in, you move onto clubs, then machetes, then battle axes – and then onto fire.”

“It’s like braiding your hair,” stated student Lillia Freeman. “Once you get the hang of it, your muscles remember how to do it. It’s like your muscles remember how to flow with it.”

Fellow juggler, Malakai Amero concurred with Freeman, adding, “Once you get the rhythm of juggling and pacing yourself, then you can juggle effortlessly.”

The students do admit that it takes time and persistence to learn. “The first time, I was really nervous and really didn’t think I could do it,” explained Zech Otte. “But it becomes easier with experience and I surprised myself that I could actually juggle.”

The WCA juggling students are always looking to perform in and around the Lakes Region community. They are willing to perform on a donation basis. “It is the way we raise funds for our four-day trip to Vermont in the spring,” stated Hagerstrom.

If you or your organization is interested in booking these talented (and now famous) student jugglers, contact Hagerstrom or Sands at 207-892-2244 or by emailing at office@windhamchristian.org.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

New trail opens in Raymond Community Forest

At the ribbon cutting. The trail, "Grape Expectations",
is named for the wild grapes the grow abundantly in the area
By Briana Bizier

A cold, wintery mix of rain and sleet didn’t stop a group of devoted outdoors-loving hikers and bikers from celebrating the opening of a new trail with a joyful ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday, November 24. The new trail is part of Loon Echo Land Trust’s Raymond Community Forest, a 356 acre permanently conserved area off Conesca Road in Raymond, and it is open to pedestrians and mountain bikes.

This may not be the best weather,” said Jon Evans, Loon Echo’s Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator. “But this is a great day for Loon Echo Land Trust.”

https://www.facebook.com/events/1125044117685794/Most of the trails on Loon Echo’s land have been inherited from the land’s previous uses, Evans told the crowd. Being able to design and build a trail from the ground up was a very exciting opportunity. This new trail adds a pleasant one-mile extension to the existing Spiller Homestead Loop, a flat and mild trail in the lower Raymond Community Forest that’s easily accessible for even the tamest hikers. 
The new trail expands on the previous loop and offers several bridges over marshy sections of the
community forest.

As the crowd applauded, Evans handed a wooden plaque to Dave Dowler, who spearheaded the trail building efforts. Dowler turned the plaque over and revealed the name of the new trail: Grape Expectations.

When Loon Echo Land Trust analyzed the potential trail site, Evans explained, they discovered an abundance of summer grape, a native grape species. Raymond is on the far northern edge of the wild grape’s habitat, so the trail builders took care to conserve the wild grape vines. In addition to providing a clever name for the trail, these native grapes are an important food source for wildlife.

http://www.autopartintl.com/Grape Expectations was designed to accommodate pedestrians and mountain bikes alike, with gentle curves and plenty of scenic appeal. Evans voiced his hopes that members of the community would make the trip to the Raymond Community Forest to visit the new trail.

Riding season is not over,” Evans said, as the crowd assembled for the ribbon cutting ceremony. “Fat tire bikes are welcome, mountain bikes are welcome, anything without a motor is welcome here.”

The new trail begins roughly a hundred yards from the parking lot on the Spiller Homestead Loop, and it ends on the Spiller Homestead Loop as well. As the audience of volunteers and Loon Echo Land Trust supporters clustered beneath Grape Expectation’s trail blaze - a yellow diamond with a black circle in the center - Evans spread a red ribbon over the new trailhead. Dowler cut the ribbon, and the crowd applauded.

Welcome to the coolest new pedestrian trail in the state of Maine,” Evans announced.

http://betheinfluencewrw.org/index.htmlIn the name of journalism, my five-year-old assistant and I inspected the entire trail. We discovered that Grape Expectations is an easy, enchanting hike that winds through the forest for slightly over a mile, crossing several bridges, climbing gentle hills, and circling a beautiful pool that was just closing over with ice. The ease of following this new trail, even in less than ideal conditions, belies the tremendous effort that must have gone into building the loop. There’s a section cut into a hillside that
is especially beautifully done, and that looks like it would be a heck of a lot of fun on a mountain bike. It would also make a wonderful, family friendly post-Thanksgiving stroll, or the perfect way to avoid the crowds on Black Friday.

If you’d like to check out the coolest new pedestrian trail in the state of Maine, head north from Route 85 on Raymond Hill Road. Turn north on Conesca Road. The trailhead for Raymond Community Forest is just past Hancock Road. Be sure to wear your blaze orange if you hike the trail in November, as hunting is allowed in Raymond Community Forest.

About Loon Echo Land Trust:

Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) was formed in 1987 to protect land in the northern Sebago Lake region to conserve its natural resources and character for future generations. LELT protects over 6,700 acres in Raymond, Bridgton, Naples, Casco, Sebago, Denmark and Harrison through land acquisition and conservation easements. LELT is a community supported non-profit organization.

New Interim Town Manger believes Windham has encouraging future ahead

Barry Tibbetts
By Lorraine Glowczak

It was officially announced on Thursday, November 21 by the Windham Town Council that Mr. Barry A. Tibbetts will be filling in as the Interim Town Manager beginning Dec. 19th.  The contract with Mr. Tibbetts will be on the agenda of the December 10th Council meeting for approval with the intention that his role as Interim Manager will end in March 2020.

As stated in the press release, Tibbetts has 25 years of municipal experience, previously leading   His broad experience in local government, administrative operations, budgeting, regulatory functions, and community relations will serve the Windham Council in moving forward with the leadership of the town. Tibbetts is not new to the Windham area as he and his family have enjoyed spending many summer vacations on Little Sebago and Sebago Lake for many years.
Kennebunk in multiple progressive capacities through mid-2017.

His wife of 35 years, Joanne (Irace) Tibbetts, was previously a first and second grade teacher at Field-Allen and John Andrew Schools (now known as Windham Middle School) so, as a result, serving the Windham Council and community “is a unique opportunity,” Tibbetts said in the press release.

http://www.lavishdogdayspa.com/Mr. Tibbetts took time this past Saturday morning, November 23rd to meet at a coffee shop in Westbrook with The Windham Eagle newspaper. His down-to-earth and approachable demeanor
created a relaxed and positive interview where much was learned about his excitement to assist Windham to move in an encouraging and decisive way.

Tibbetts stated that he looks to the Council for direction and plans to listen and learn from the them as well as from town staff and community members about the goals, desires and  opportunities for Windham.

“I believe it is important to listen first, then work with the Council and staff (team) finding consensus, planning and the appropriate support mechanisms to move forward,” Tibbetts said. “From what I have heard and read, Windham has tremendous potential and the Council is looking to move the community forward.”
http://www.eaglesushi.com/
As the Town Manager of Kennebunk, he is known and appreciated for developing and reinventing the
downtown area. He, along with elected officials and the community, collaborated to increase the
town’s economic development, producing over 700 jobs during his tenure.

Windham also has a vision to increase business and job opportunities. From his own experience, Tibbetts sees potential growth happening in Windham, in its own way.

Tibbetts knows a thing or two about town and economic growth. For example, there is the well-publicized ice-skating rink that it now known at the Waterhouse Center in Kennebunk that turned the downtown village into a small-town gathering mecca.

“We knew the downtown area of Kennebunk was oversaturated with gas stations and wanted to provide something more to help improve the downtown area,” Tibbetts said.

https://www.facebook.com/merrifieldfarm/According to the Kennebunk website, the story goes like this: “In 2010, the town [of Kennebunk] was redeveloping the downtown and had the opportunity to purchase one of four gas stations on Main
Street downtown Kennebunk. The Town voted to purchase the former Mobil Gas Station at 51 Main Street for $280,000. The Town was awarded a Brownfield Grant to clean the site and sought options for commercial development.

In the meantime, the Town filled the space with the Farmers’ Market, Artisans’ Night Market, festival events, winter ice skating, and community events, while seeking a developer for the property.

A citizen-initiated petition to keep the property for Town use, won by a 3 to 1 margin.

The Town was fortunate to have a local resident, Geraldine Waterhouse and her granddaughter, Paige Hill, offer to preserve the ice skating and other activities for the community with a $1.5 million dollar endowment. The community responded by raising over $630,000 to construct a 100’ x 120’ open sided, four season pavilion for youth and family events, festivals and activities. The pavilion also includes a 60’x90’ winter ice skating rink.

 At a meeting in the spring of 2014, the Board of Selectmen voted to name the pavilion “The Waterhouse Center."
cstlouis@spurwink.org
Tibbetts explained that the endowment program provides annual operating support to the facility for a number of year-round activities. The combination of this central location and ongoing program
support will ensure that its mission ‘to support the betterment of children’ is fulfilled.
Tibbetts views the same potential in Windham, and he pointed out the many prospective development options.

“There is good residential growth which fosters business growth, diverse age population with a young family component, high traffic volumes of tourism as well as a very good school system in the Town of Windham,” Tibbetts explained. “I am very impressed with the many work/materials concerning Windham such as the 21st Century plan, the Comp Plan and much more. No vision succeeds without a blueprint in mind and Windham seems to have detailed plans to create a future that will affect everyone in a concise and encouraging way – for both individuals and businesses alike.”

Tibbetts stated that before he offers advice based upon his own experience, he wants to hear what the Town of Windham has to say about their version of success. “Having a proactive plan, good leadership, and a bit of luck all work towards a successful end.,” he began. “Every town and village center have some central synergies while at the same time each area is uniquely different and embracing those attributes is essential towards being successful.  

https://www.facebook.com/StAnnsEpiscopalWindhamME04062/Windham Town Council Chair, Jarrod Maxfield commented on behalf of the Council in the official press release that they are pleased to have Barry’s experience in continuing to move the community
forward in the coming months. “His broad experience in local government, administrative operations, budgeting, regulatory functions, and community relations will serve the Council in moving forward with the leadership of Windham,” is stated in the press release.
Maxfield added in a phone interview that the Council was impressed by Tibbetts past successes.

“What is impressive is his ability to work with the community and elected officials of Kennebunk to create a very active and progressive downtown that most New England families would admire,” stated Maxfield. “We look forward to his advice and guidance during his tenure as Interim Town Manager.”
http://windhamhillucc.org/
Tibbetts stated that working in government is a unique opportunity to serve the public, provide essential quality services, and potentially enhance the quality of life for the residents. After retiring from his post in Kennebunk, travelling with his family and serving in other arenas, Tibbetts is looking  
forward to getting back into the municipality workforce.

“After 25 years of service in town government, I needed to shake up/change my outlook,” Tibbetts explained upon his retirement as Kennebunk Town Manger. “I have always enjoyed challenges and moving the “ball” forward.  So, I decided to venture into the energy startup world (that company is now in the process of being acquired), I also worked with several other businesses in the energy industry while consulting in the governmental field. Government work has many great characteristics/attributes as I mentioned and can be a-lot of fun. I am once again exploring that unique opportunity. “

Prior to accepting the interim position here in Windham and after his retirement as Kennebunk Town Manager, Tibbetts has traveled with his wife, worked with a small energy start up, and developed a consulting business in energy and governmental services. Tibbetts received his undergraduate degree from USM, credentialed certifications from the ICMA and MCTMA, then obtaining his MBA later in his career.

Don Gerrish, who has been Interim Town Manager for over a year, will continue assisting the Council in the search process for the permanent replacement during the first quarter of 2020.  Mr. Gerrish’s last day, handing over the role of Interim Town Manager to Tibbetts will be Wednesday December 18th.

Friday, November 22, 2019

The last lesson: Daughter shares wisdom from former Raymond Boston Cane Award recipient

Betty Stetson at the age of 24 with her son in 1942
By Lorraine Glowczak

It was officially announced at last Tuesday evening’s Raymond’s Select Board meeting that Teresa M. Ingraham of Raymond was awarded the Boston Cane Award. As we and the Town of Raymond schedule to meet up with Ms. Ingraham for a future interview, staff at The Windham Eagle thought it would be good to offer an honorary farewell to the previous Raymond award recipient, Elizabeth “Betty” Stetson, who passed away last month at the age of 101.

We met up with Stetson’s daughter, Becky Almstrom, also of Raymond who shared some of her mother’s life lesson that family and friends have incorporated into their own lives. Stetson, who moved to Maine from New Hampshire, made her home with Becky and her husband, Bob for the past 18 years.

“There were many things our mother and grandmother taught us,” began Becky. “One lesson was the importance of food, family, friendship and hospitality. She always believed that there should be enough food in the house for unexpected visitors. And, she never failed to spontaneously host a wonderful spread of food if guests stopped by. As a result, she taught me well and I always have plenty of food in my pantry for any guest I may find at my doorstep.”

http://www.lavishdogdayspa.com/In a memory book filled with old photos and letters, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren shared the gifts that their matriarch imparted. Letters indicating a life well-lived with family and friends that included: movies to the theater in a New Hampshire town square, Easter egg hunts, snowmobiling with the family, long afternoon walks, teaching rug hooking, singing in the choir, Sunday dinners and trips to Europe that included Stetson’s home country of the Czech Republic. But the fond memories always returned to food and drink such as the memories of the ‘horrible tasting slivovitz” [Eastern Europe Brandy] and the delightfully homemade kolaky [Czech sweet rolls].

Betty Stetson at the age of 100
in 2018 posing with her
Boston Cane Award
In an interview with us last March 2018 when she was awarded received the Boston Cane Award, Stetson provided a bit of advice, which of course, included food. “For longevity - make sure you eat your greens,” she smiled. “Oh! And fruit. Fruit is good for you too.”

But if anyone had the opportunity to spend even just an hour with Stetson, one quickly realized that eating healthy was not the only thing that has contributed to her long life. Happiness and laughter fill the air in her presence.

Part of her laughter, during that interview a little over a year ago, stemmed from the fact that she loved to play jokes on her family. Her favorite holiday, it turned out, was April Fool’s Day and so for the past 18 years, Becky and Bob learned to be prepared for whatever Stetson had up her sleeve.

But the greatest lessons came to Stetson’s family in the last days of her life. Diagnosed with bladder cancer this fall and given six months to live, Stetson asked her daughter that any and all family differences come to an end and to remain a cohesive and close unit.

“After I promised her that I would do my best, it was only a day later that she had a stroke and she was taken to hospice,” explained Becky. “It was her last few days in hospice care that I believe she provided her last bits of wisdom.”
https://www.facebook.com/events/1125044117685794/
While she lay unconscious with her family by her side, she would become alert enough to say her goodbyes. “At one point, she woke up and with eyes wide open – almost with a look of happiness. She took my hand and lifted it up and pointed to the ceiling,” began Becky. “I asked, ‘Mom? What do you need?’ It was at that moment my son-in-law pointed out that she might be telling us that she ‘sees a light’.”

Becky realized her mother may have offered her last lesson. “I think she was telling us that there is always hope that there is life after death. I saw it with my own eyes and heart.”

Stetson easily and readily slipped into that very possible next life on October 3, 2019. But she left this life – sprinkling it with joy, laughter, adventure and love for family and friends. And a lesson or two. Not only for her family, but for anyone who might listen and learn from a women who lived a long and eventful life.


“Sister Act” another win for Windham High School theater

The full cast rocks the stage
By Elizabeth Richards
           
Based on previous experiences, when I attend a performance at Windham High School, my expectations are high. I was not disappointed when I attended the Sunday matinee of “Sister Act” last weekend.

I am consistently impressed with the quality of student productions. It’s obvious that every aspect, both onstage and behind the scenes, is carefully planned to enhance the show – and students are involved every step of the way.

There is, of course, plenty of adult volunteer support, but looking at the listing of production team and backstage crew, it’s clear that there are myriad opportunities for students to get involved.

At intermission, I overheard a woman say “There’s just so much talent in Windham.” The truth of her statement is evident in the quality of the music, sets, costumes, lighting, sound and smooth scene changes.

https://www.facebook.com/merrifieldfarm/Some students who are onstage also take on behind the scenes roles. For instance, Sophey Potter plays Sister Mary Robert, “the shy postulant who finds her voice.” But she is also the assistant director of the show. “Assistant directing has been a welcomed challenge and a wonderful experience,” she said. 

Potter described the show as “hilarious, entertaining and uplifting. An enjoyable show for all ages,” and after seeing it, I agree wholeheartedly. The cast does a great job with timing and delivery, but there are so many subtle jokes throughout the show, you have to be paying close attention or you’ll miss them.

One of the things I love about this show is that there are so many interesting characters, and great songs that highlight the talent of many different cast members. I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite number, but when the nuns are singing, it’s difficult not to tap your feet along with the beat.  

The quirky personality of each character was evident in the way the talented cast portrayed each one. It was obvious that this cast had a great time together and put in the hard work necessary to create a wonderful show. 

https://www.egcu.org/risePotter said, “It has been so much fun to be Mary Robert, a character very different than myself, but in some ways very similar.”  She added, “Over the course of this show, the nuns are virtually always together, as a result we all really have become like ‘sisters’”.

Will Searway, who perfectly portrayed the disheveled, fumbling, shy officer who is trying to break free of his old nickname “Sweaty Eddie,” said “This show will blow your mind. The funny lines, the phenomenal singing, and the dances all make “Sister Act” really stand out.”

He added, “This show has an amazing cast. They are very welcoming, and I am grateful for that.”
Corrinne Ulmer, who plays Deloris, said, “Being able to do “Sister Act” as my last show at Windham High School has truly been a pleasure. I’m so glad I’m able to leave going out with a bang with such a fun and upbeat production.” The role pushed her out of her comfort zone, she said, and opened her up to an entirely new style of music and singing.  “I've been in many productions, but I have not felt this sense of community among a cast and crew in such a long time and I am so glad that I got to finish my senior year with this one,” she said.

“Sister Act” runs for one more weekend, with shows on Friday, November 22nd and Saturday, November 23rd at 7 pm, and Sunday, November 24th at 2 pm.  Reserved tickets are available online at www.whstheater.tix.com. General admission tickets can be purchased at the door.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Eight-year-old Odyssey Angels on the move to raise funds and make a difference

Windham Odyssey Angels, from left to right: Aislin McDonald, 
Harlie Menard, Aubrey Galipeau, Garrett Chandler, Chad Cleaves, 
Lily Cooper, Carrie Menard, Zack Welch, Max Robinson, Madison Daigle.
By Lorraine Glowczak

There is a new group in town that recognizes a recent community problem and is taking action to create change. Known as the Windham Odyssey Angels, this organization consists of seven eight-year olds from Windham Primary School. They are teaming up with the Windham PTA and Raymond PTO to not only help raise awareness about adding stop arms to school buses but are determined to help raise the funds too.
http://www.eaglesushi.com/
Windham Odyssey Angels became an official organization at their first meeting a little over a week ago on Monday, November 4th and they are taking immediate action. In fact, this past Monday, November 11th you may have seen these young students as they hit the ground with their first fundraising launch by going business to business, requesting donations to help purchase 15 extended stop arms for the RSU14 buses. This motivated group of angels began their day at 11 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m., stopping for a bite to eat at Pat’s Pizza.

There is a reason for their enthusiasm. “Right now, the stop signs on the buses only stick out about
two feet,” explained one Windham Odyssey Angel, Harlie Menard, “The stop signs we are trying to raise money for will come out six feet which will make it harder for cars to pass the bus.”

As stated in an article in last week’s edition of The Windham Eagle, children’s safety has become an issue in the Windham and Raymond communities as students wait at the end of their driveways and roadways to enter the buses that take them to school. In recent weeks, parents have recorded on their cell phones and shared on social media – the many drivers who have sped past a stopped school bus.

https://www.egcu.org/riseThe bus, with its blinking lights and stop sign extended, is indicating the driver to stop so young students can cross the road safely and enter the bus. Unfortunately, many drivers have not stopped, as required by law – putting our children’s well-being at risk. 

Windham Odyssey Angel member, Aislin McDonald was one such student. “One morning when the bus came to pick me up, three cars zoomed past before I could get on,” she stated. “If I was younger, I may not have known better and would have walked out in front of the cars – or my brother would have had to grab me and pull me back to keep me safe.”

It is for Aislin’s safety as well as for the safety of all other students in the community that inspire this new group. But what exactly are Odyssey Angels? It is an international program that challenges students to use unique creative problem-solving techniques while at the same time helping some aspect of their community that would otherwise be overlooked.

According to the Odyssey Angels website, anyone can participate in the program. “The only limitation is that one person in the Odyssey Angel group is on an Odyssey of the Mind team. The group can be of any size and made up of any individuals with no age limitations. It can be a family, a class, a team, a group of friends – anyone who wants to help their community.”

The website also states that participating in an Odyssey Angel group gives students a chance to utilize their strengths and help others while learning important lessons in teamwork, compassion, and more.
http://ridingtothetop.org/events.phpMonday’s first fundraising effort was met with success. “After going out ALL day today, the students were able to raise $5,000 for their first time out in their community,” stated Carrie Menard, a parent and one of the sponsors of Windham Odyssey Angels. “This is huge for a group of eight-year olds!”

The group explained that anyone can make any type of donation and it doesn’t necessarily need to be monetary as projects, goods and services can also be contributed. “We will also take objects like
crafts and then raffle them to help make money too,” explained Windham Odyssey Angel, Aubrey Galipeau.

Although the Windham Odyssey Angels are focused on serving their community, making it a safer place to live, there is a possibility that their project could be entered into a competition for creative problem solving. As the national website states, “Odyssey Angel teams will explain their charity project and results. Then one will be chosen that is considers to be not only creative, but beneficial to the community. Up to five representatives of that group will be invited to World Finals as special guests and be able to present its experiences at the Creativity Festival.”

It is a part of their mission that every person in their community become an angel with them. “This is very exciting for the kids,” stated Carrie Menard. “These kids are amazing and want to make a difference in our community. I could not be more proud of them.”

“We want everyone to join us to be an angel; not just us,” Galipeau said.

For more information or to make a donation to the Windham Odyssey Angels, contact the group at Windhamodysseyangels@gmail.com.

WCCG TV-7 offers much more than the average local access television station

Producer, Brad Saucier
By Matt Pascarella

When you think of local access television, what goes through your head? Maybe meetings, meetings and more meetings. Producer of WCCG TV-7, Brad Saucier wants the town of Windham to know that TV-7 isn’t all meetings. There’s children’s programming, cooking shows, movies, even a Maine based paranormal show, along with information and more. There is so much local access can offer the community of Windham.

Saucier has been working for TV-7 for roughly 15 to 16 years. He’s principally responsible for the programming of the station and is the one that puts on the town meetings as well as finds and schedules the programs that appear on TV-7.

In 2014, Saucier reached out to a website called pegmedia.com, that houses shows across the world. He can download a wide variety of programs, from children’s entertainment to political screenings to movies. Saucier changes the programming and the content twice a year. All content comes from pegmedia.com.

“I try to do a broad range on our station,” explains Saucier. “I personally think there are some outstanding shows that we show on our station.”

https://www.egcu.org/helocThere are a variety of programs that appear on TV-7 that can accommodate the whole family that include the following:

A children’s show based on “The Slouch in The Couch” book series.

“Bridging Cultures” - a show based upon English professor, Kathy Najafi, as she introduces viewers to different cultures around the world.

A cooking program entitled “Eat Well Be Happy”.

A show providing education to parents, for children from 18 months to 18 years.

An entertainment piece about the history of television and technology and a paranormal show set in Maine. TV-7 also shows movies.

Saucier offers some of the local access’ regular shows like “Speak out” currently hosted by Representative Patrick Corey, which has been showing in Windham for over 30 years. Saucier now produces the program.

TV-7 is a wealth of information regarding the town, as well. Saucier has a bulletin board that runs all the time. It displays services and events you may not have known were available in Windham.

http://www.thegoodlifemarket.com/“TV-7 can help the average individual get in touch with how the town of Windham works,” explained Saucier. “For people who don’t have that much time, we’re a good conglomerate for that information. If someone needs to know what the town offices do, we have that information playing all the time.”

The best way to watch WCCG TV-7 is to go to: https://www.windhammaine.us/228/WCCG-TV-7; scroll to the bottom and you’ll see an icon that looks like a TV with a play button on it, there you get a live feed of the station itself. If you are a Spectrum Cable subscriber and live within Spectrum’s area in Windham, TV-7 is found on channel 1303.

The town meetings are also on Facebook. Simply, ‘like’ the Town of Windham and you’ll get a notification one minute early, telling you the meeting is available to watch.

Saucier is always looking for people who may want to create content with/on TV-7, whether it be entertainment or information to the town of Windham. “For those people interested in creating their own show, this is a diamond waiting to take place. They should contact me and let’s get some ideas together.”

If you or someone you know may have an idea for a program, contact Saucier programmingTV7@windhammaine.us.

cstlouis@spurwink.org

Friday, November 8, 2019

New administrative team hard at work for RSU14

Christine Frost-Bertinet and Christopher Howell
By Elizabeth Richards

On July 1st, 2019, a new administrative team took the reins at RSU 14. Christopher Howell stepped up from the assistant superintendent position he had held for a year to become the district’s Superintendent and Christine Frost-Bertinet stepped into the role of assistant superintendent.

Howell has a long history in the district, having been in several positions throughout the district since 1996. “This is just a great opportunity to now lead a district that I’ve been a part of for so, so long,” he said.

His history with the community made the transition easier since he didn’t need time to learn who people were, what the community is all about, or time to understand the community issues, Howell said.  His awareness of certain issues and scope of work made it possible for him to move forward a little faster than if he’d come into a new community, he said. 

Frost-Bertinet worked in both RSU57 and the Gorham School District prior to becoming assistant superintendent for RSU14. Her experience includes five years as an elementary school principal, as well roles as an assistant principal and as a teacher of English Language Arts at the middle and high school levels. 

Because she was new to the district, Frost-Bertinet spent much of her summer meeting people and making connections. “I could tell from the onset of starting in July that this was a very child centered, learner centered school community of bright, caring innovative educators,” she said. 

“I was overwhelmed by the welcome I received. So many people reached out from a variety of roles within the district and the community to say welcome, which says a lot about the pride and the dedication to making sure this is a wonderful school community,” she added.

http://www.windhammaine.us/One of the things Howell has been working on recently is the Windham Middle School building project. The district is fifth on the list of state projects. RSU14 has already begun the visioning process, Howell said.

Staff from both Windham Middle School and Jordan Small Middle School have worked together to determine a vision for middle school education in the district.  Being clear about the vision, which is being developed with the help of a national expert, will guide the building design, Howell said.  

“We’re trying to get as much work done prior to official working with major construction project so we’ll be ready to go – that’s why we chose to do the visioning now,” Howell said.  With continued growth on the horizon, careful planning of space in the building is essential.

Frost-Bertinet has been working from the current strategic plan, which is in its final year, with a focus on the design for learning and the environment for learning.

On the environment for learning side, social-emotional learning has been a big part of the conversation. The district has come together as a team, with community representatives, board representatives, and teachers from all levels coming to the table to talk about current practices, areas of growth needed for social-emotional learning, and what the next steps should be.  “We’re going to be working on that throughout the year, and that work will inform the next strategic plan,” she said. 

This is the first time that the district has come together with many voices at the table to examine the work already done and plan the direction for making sure each child is getting their academic, social and emotional developmental needs met, she said.  “We’re examining great practice and looking to go to the next level.”

On the design for learning side, she added, they are working as an administrative team through a grant that involves many districts. “Our team is really examining what are those instructional practices that speak to the design for learning part of the district’s strategic plan,” she said.

Howell said it’s important for the community to know that the administrative team loves working with their students. “I know that Windham and Raymond are very special places to raise kids,” he said. “We really enjoy being a part of that process. We’re going to do whatever we can to make sure that every kid has every opportunity to be successful,” he said.

He added that in RSU14, they take instruction seriously. “We want to make sure that what happens in our classrooms is best practice, and those best practices then lead to opportunities. We want kids, when they leave this district, to have choice.”

https://www.theplayhousekids.com/Finally, he said, he wants people to know that “We don’t always get things right, but when we don’t we want to hear about it so we have the opportunity to fix it.” Feedback helps the district look at policies and practice, and they are open to making changes if necessary.  “We want to be kid focused, we want to make sure that their needs are being met, because that’s why we’re here,” Howell said.

Outside of work, both Howell and Frost-Bertinet have a passion for the outdoors, albeit in different ways. Howell spends time rebuilding and refurbishing old boats and getting them on the water, while Frost-Bertinet loves camping and hiking. Both have children of their own, as well. 

Howell, who lives in West Cumberland, has three sons. Being a visible, present part of their lives is important, he said. Frost-Bertinet, who lives in Gorham, has two children, one who graduated from high school last year, and one who is a senior. Being involved in their lives and helping them get to their next phase is a big focus presently, she said.

Howell said the combination of their experiences make he and Frost-Bertinet a great team. With experience at different levels of education, they can be more efficient, he said.  They both appreciate the opportunity to work in the district, and feel the community support they receive, he added.