Friday, October 21, 2016

Windham Chamber Singers rock with Queen Tribute band - By Stephen Signor

A clear October night, a full moon beckoned those with the urge to display their wild side. They showed up at Windham Performing Arts Center for a concert that featured Master Stroke, a Queen Tribute band, along with the Windham Chamber Singers lead by conductor Richard Nickerson. The show, billed as “A Night with the Choir,” was based on the success of Sean Slaughter’s Queen Tribute Shows at Port City Music Hall. Slaughter, a veteran of the Portland music, scene put together an all-star lineup that promised to rock the house. Master Stroke’s billing was a collaborative effort. “Rick got in touch with me after he saw us at another show and asked if we would be willing to put on this one,” Slaughter said. 

In a release prior to the show Slaughter shared, "We have heard so many fantastic things about the Windham Chamber Singers! We are honored and flattered that we have been invited to perform with them! Most importantly, we want to rock Windham!" 

Nickerson also commented beforehand, “We are thrilled that we have the opportunity to share the stage with Sean and his band, Master Stroke. We are excited to continue our tradition of bringing the highest quality performers to Windham. This will certainly be the Windham Chamber Singers as you have never heard them before.”

A capacity crowd of every age group packed the house, each with their own agenda. “I was in the choir last year and years prior,” said Derek Barnhouse, a recent graduate of WHS and a fan of Queen. “But I’m here for both. My favorite song by Queen is ‘Somebody to Love’,” he continued.
Janet, another local resident was anxious to see a family member sing along with Stroke. “My grandson is in backup for the choir,” stated Janet. Like others this night she was getting the best of both worlds. “My favorite Queen song is ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’,” she shared.

When the lights faded the crowd responded as the Windham Chamber Singers made their way onto the stage. Master Stroke would soon follow. The ear plugs that were handed out at the door proved to be very useful, from the opening musical note until the very end, over two hours later.
During the first set the crowd was transported back in time to the tune of hits that included “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, “Under Pressure”, “Bicycle Race”, “Killer Queen” and “Flat Bottom Girls.” The Windham Chamber Singers presence on the stage was electrifying. And when they were not singing they were moving to the beat. The combination seemed to feed off one another and the fans responded. During the break the hallway was buzzing. Donna, a postal worker was not surprised. “I just saw Stroke three weeks ago and they were amazing then, too,” she said.

After the break, Stroke opened up with “Another One Bites the Dust.” This is all the crowd would need to reignite their senses. Following up with top ten hits that included, “Somebody to Love” and “We Are The Champions”, the show would end with an encore performance of “We Will Rock You” and a very grateful thanks to the Windham Chamber Singers. Together they all lined up along the stage for their accolades. 

“The crowd was awesome! This venue is incredible. It’s the largest stage in Maine so it’s the largest I’ve played on. When I first came here I was blown away how beautiful this room is and how awesome the program is. The acoustics are amazing,” said Slaughter.

In regard to having the choir on stage Slaughter said “With Rick and everyone involved in the arts program you can tell they really know what they’re doing. He’s done a great job here.”

“It was such thrills to see months of hard work culminate last night on that stage. There was an amazing energy in the auditorium last night from both the performers and audience. I don't ever remember a concert that had audience members literally dancing in the aisles! It was thrilling to see all of the different age groups come together and bring this music to life. We are so thankful for the support that we receive from our community. Last night was another great night for the Town of Windham,” said Nickerson.

The choir was in total agreement. “I had a wonderful time combining two things that I love, choral singing and the music of Queen!” said junior Libby McBride. She wasn’t the only one. “Performing with the band was one of the coolest experiences ever! I had such a fun time,” said sophomore Anne Stevens.”

”I don’t have anything booked with band right now. This is only our third show,” said Slaughter. Explaining the short time to success, he added, “All the people that play in this band are top notch musicians.”

However Slaughter is playing locally with his other band. “The original band I was in, John Hughes Radio is having a Halloween themed concert at the Empire in Portland on October 28th. There will be a costume party with contest and will show local made horror short films during the 15 minute or so break in between the two other bands, Holy Smoke and Diabligato, that will be playing,” he shared. 

Meanwhile, the Windham Chamber Singers are also gearing up for another performance. The winter concert, “An American Family Holiday,” will be held Saturday December 3rd at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The concert will feature special guests Lindsay Mendez and Daniel Strange.

For more information on these events, visit and                      

Local Clark University student expands learning in Columbia - By Elizabeth Richards

In early June 2016, Sydney Tanguay took advantage of an educational opportunity that allowed her to visit another country, feed her love of gardening, and expand her views on entrepreneurial start-ups. The 21-year old senior at Clark University applied for funding through the University’s Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP) program, and was awarded $2,000 towards the 10 day trip.

Tanguay, a Windham native and 2013 Windham High School graduate, is in an accelerated master’s program, working towards an MBA with a concentration in sustainability. Tanguay saw the trip advertised by her professor, John Dobson, who accompanied her and three other students to Bogotá, Colombia. Tanguay said she applied because she had never been out of the country. 

“Declaring my MBA this semester I was looking forward to experiencing cultural differences and a new view on entrepreneurial start-ups,” she said. The research project in urban agriculture also coincided with the love of gardening Tanguay developed as a young girl working in the family gardens with her mother. 

The students worked with Fundación Mujeres Empresarias Marie Poussepin, a nonprofit organization that works to train women head of households as entrepreneurs in urban agriculture and ecological art. 
The organization helps women establish backyard gardens where they can grow organic produce. The students from Clark also collaborated with students from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Bogotá.

Tanguay said some highlights of the trip included experiencing Columbian hospitality and seeing the passion the women had for improving their lives with known skills, community needs, and their love of gardening. “The food was absolutely to die for and the women never let us go hungry!” she added.
On their first day in Bogotá, the students took an eco-tour through the mountains to get a feel for how rich the volcanic soil was. Tanguay described the outing as “just like mudding in Maine, but the scenery was entirely different and just as beautiful!” the days that followed, the students toured gardens at the home of the women entrepreneurs, met with students from Javeriana, performed a market analysis, and formulated methods designed by their professor to help improve the women’s businesses by creating new markets and increasing profitability. Additionally, the students reconstructed a garden for one of the women, Señora Olmeira. “Today the garden is flourishing with wonderful fruits, vegetables, and flowers for both ornamental and medicinal usage,” said Tanguay. 

The Clark University students rounded out their trip by visiting Cartegna for two days, enjoying the beach and another aspect of Colombia’s culture, Tanguay said. 

Tanguay said the only challenge she experienced was a language barrier. She grew up learning French, but had no experience with Spanish. “I strived to be able to talk to everyone face to face rather than through other students who would translate for me,” Tanguay said. “Everyone was very patient with me and I greatly appreciated their acceptance of my lack of knowledge. I just wish I could have connected more with the women in that way.”

Tanguay said her role on the trip was “to learn and observe multicultural business development and
[act] as an advisor to their organization to expand their passions and establishment towards greater profitability.” She was pleased with the collaboration between all parties, and said, “I hope to visit within the next two years to continue work with them and the professor to gain more knowledge of urban agriculture and share advancements in my personal and professional life. I've come to make great friends and possible global business connections because of this opportunity and I am grateful for such an exciting adventure.”

Friday, October 14, 2016

New director of Raymond Village Library looking to enrich programming - By Lorraine Glowczak

This past Monday, October 10th, The Raymond Village Library (RVL) hosted an open house to introduce the public to and welcome their new director, Allison Griffin. Formerly the director of the Bridgton Public Library, Griffin brings to her new post many years of experience that began at an early age.

“I volunteered at the Casco Public Library when I was a teenager and discovered how much I enjoyed the information and technology field,” Griffin explained. Upon learning how much she appreciated the job, combined with the fact that she loved both reading and technology, it became clear to Griffin that work in library science would be her vocation. 

Griffin began her career at the Jordan-Small Middle School as the Library Media Specialist and District Library Director. While working there, she completed her degree. Upon receiving her Masters in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin, Griffin decided to transition into the public library sector. She applied, was offered and accepted the technology resource librarian position and later the director’s position at the Bridgton Public Library, a position she held for the past year before returning to the Raymond community to make RVL her new home.
Griffin has a few plans in mind to add to the already amazing programs and services that are offered at RVL. “I am working on adding additional adult enrichment programs such as resume and career seminars, as well as poetry and writing workshops.” She also plans to add more tech support services and technology classes as well. 

The new director is also working closely with the youth services coordinator, Karen Perry, to increase opportunities to an already remarkable children and teen program. Presently offered are such programs as toddler and preschool story times, Lego Club and Make and Take Craft days. Discussion between Perry and Griffin include adding and providing a Maker Space and incorporating more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) enrichment programs.“Raymond Village Library offers many adult and youth enrichment series, which we will be more actively promoting within the community,” Griffin stated with reflection on recent conversations she’s had with library patrons she has encountered thus far. “Many people I have met are unaware of all the programs and services that are available on a weekly basis.” These programs include book clubs, author visits and a variety of enrichment workshops.

“We currently provide adult enrichment programming on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m,” Griffin said. 

This past Wednesday, October 12th, RVL welcomed local specialist Ingrid LeVasseur to speak about thermal imaging (thermography) and its use in breast cancer screening. On Wednesday, October 19th, RVL will host Maine author Brenda Buchanan. Buchanan is the author of the Joe Gale Mystery Series, set in the greater Portland area. She will discuss her third book in the series, Truth Beat. 

Griffin has enjoyed meeting community members and library patrons alike. “It’s been such a lovely transition,” she stated with pleasure. “The staff and board of trustees have been very welcoming and supportive.”

Feel free to stop by the Raymond Village Library to welcome the new director and share thoughts for the library’s future success. To read more about the various programs offered, the library itself or to sign up for a weekly newsletter, please visit the RVL website at or call 207-655-4283.

World karate champion looks to repreat in 2017 - By Lorraine Glowczak

For some, it takes years to discover their passion and find a way to make it happen in the world. However, for 10-year-old Jordan Roberts, formerly of Windham, the enthusiasm for martial arts began at the young age of 6. His desire for the art of karate has led him to become a world champion in the United Fighting Arts Federation (UFAF), an organization founded by Chuck Norris. But Jordan’s personal achievement was not an overnight success. Hard work and much dedication were needed to reach his dream and goals.

His interest in the martial arts was sparked by the Disney show “Kicking It” and other super hero movies that used various forms of karate. “I liked the idea of knowing how to protect myself from harm and I loved the art of karate itself,” Jordan explained. Observing and then mimicking the forms and motions portrayed in the films, Jordan began practicing on his own. It wasn’t long before Jordan was determined to learn more and asked his parents if he could become professionally trained. After a year of making his request, his father who works in advertising shared Jordan’s passion with a client. That client was a karate teacher Cub Lewis. Sensei Cub Lewis (as he is known by his students) is a fourth degree black belt, teaching young and adults alike for over 37 years. Lewis owns and operates Krav Maga Force Maine. Krav Maga Force Maine, previously located in Falmouth, is now established in Brunswick. “Once we met Sensei Cub Lewis, everything just fell into place” Jordan stated as he shared his excitement about this special form of Karate.
“Krav Maga is an Israeli style of self-defense and is of the most efficient forms of martial arts,” said Jordan’s father, Bill Roberts. Jordan began training with Lewis at the age of seven. Within two years, Jordan became a red belt and traveled to Las Vegas in July 2015 to compete in the World Championship, where he received first place. He returned again this past July where, this time, he fought against black belts. Despite obtaining an eye injury during the first competition that caused some temporary vision impairment, he continued to participate and received fourth place. Jordan’s goal is to return to Las Vegas for a third year in July 2017 to compete at the black belt level with the hope of obtaining the world championship title once again.
“There are three points to the competition,” Jordan began as he described the three areas. The competitions include forms, weaponry (Jordan fights with the bo staff) and hand to hand combat. In addition to the competition portion of the championship, training is provided with advanced and diverse individuals, including the children of Chuck Norris. This experience allows Jordan the opportunity for self-improvement as he progresses toward more advanced degrees.

Getting to Las Vegas and being part of the competition and training requires funds that are difficult to obtain. The first year, Jordan discovered that their year-long savings for the 2015 event was not quite enough for the unexpected costs that they endured such as extra hotel costs and purchasing the correct karate suite (known as a Gi.) As a result, Jordan and his father set out to raise funds for his 2016 competition this past July. Through door to door efforts, partial funding from his Sensei (teacher), a gofundme website, and year-long personal savings – both Jordan and his father were able to return to Las Vegas despite any unexpected costs.
“We’ve already begun saving for the 2017 competition,” Jordan said. He hopes that enough funds will be raised this year so his mother, Rhonda and sister, Aaliyah can go too. “It is really important to me that people who support me all year long can be present and watch me at the 2017 UFAF competitions.” Jordan also hopes that his close friends, Kate Barter, Torin Svedlow, and Aiden Hanson who are always there to support and encourage him can go as well.

For those who made a donation toward the expenses of the July’s competition, Jordan took the time to email each individual with a thank you note along with a picture of himself with both Chuck Norris and Norris’ brother Aaron. Jordan’s note shared his gratitude, “Thank you for your donation to help me get to Las Vegas to compete in the World Championship Karate Competition. This year, for the first time, I went up against black belts (I am a red belt) and one of the black belts took first place. I also battled with an injured eye. I plan on achieving my black belt this year and go back to regain my title. As promised, here is the picture of me with Chuck Norris and Aaron Norris.” Jordan also expressed that the trip was made possible due to the donations and the caring efforts of those who donated.

If one is lucky enough to meet Jordan in person, he/she would be very impressed with his gentle, mature, and caring nature that, no doubt, is a result of the discipline and respect required of those who participate in the martial arts. To continue the opportunity for competition and training at the UFAF in 2017, donations would help tremendously and would be greatly appreciated. Many who know Jordan and have donated in the past will surely be contributing once again to this thoughtful and contributing member of society. Jordan’s father said, “I see Jordan excelling in a program designed to maximize his character and he is bringing it to an amazing level. This development is only going to help make him stronger in the community and an inspiration for those around him.”
To inquire about making a donation to the Jordan Roberts 2017 UFAF competition fund and help to bring a World Karate Champion back to Maine, send an email to

Friday, October 7, 2016

When disaster strikes, AmeriCorps will be there to help - By Michelle Libby

Last Friday, AmeriCorps volunteers gathered at Camp William Hinds in Raymond to train for one of their ancillary responsibilities, running a volunteer reception center to manage the volunteers who step up when a disaster strikes. September was National Preparedness month.

The AmeriCorps volunteers were from two of Maine’s largest programs, the SySTEM REAL AmeriCorps Program and the Goodwill Multilingual Leadership Corps. 

The SySTEM REAL AmeriCorps program places teams of AmeriCorps volunteers in schools throughout the Windham/Raymond school district. Volunteers work to increase student academic achievement, as well as social and emotional learning, by implementing STEM-based and service-learning programming that allows students develop new skills and use them to create a positive impact in their communities.

Goodwill's Multilingual Leadership Corps places AmeriCorps volunteers in Maine schools, housing communities, and nonprofits to engage K-12 English Language Learners through mentoring, goal-setting, school skills support, and community engagement activities.

There are AmeriCorps volunteers in 14 of the 16 counties in Maine. 

“This event will train our community's AmeriCorps volunteers in organizing and facilitating an emergency-response volunteer reception center, through which a community manages its volunteers and coordinates their efforts in times of disaster,” said Fernando Hinojosa, outreach and development director for RSU 14 Katahdin Program. 

“AmeriCorps volunteers are trained to respond to a variety of emergencies within the communities they serve. Should an emergency (such as a natural disaster) arise in Windham, or elsewhere in the Greater Portland area, our AmeriCorps volunteers will be participating in the relief effort,” he added.
When a disaster strikes be it a flood, earthquake, or tornado, volunteers come out of the woodwork to help with clean up and other needs the victims might have. AmeriCorps volunteers spring into action to screen the influx of volunteers and match them up with a need in the area through the reception centers. This screening process allows the people in charge to know what skills the volunteers have and can also discourage those who wouldn’t be helpful. 

“I had no idea what spontaneous volunteering was. It is the overwhelming number of people who want to help,” said Haley McCracken. “Everyone is so flooded with volunteers.”

The trainings help to deal with “unaffiliated volunteers and unsolicited donations,” which sometimes are helpful and other times make the job more difficult, for example if they’re not insured or working through the Red Cross. 

AmeriCorp volunteers sign up to help with a variety of projects all over the country. Jessica Swartz was a stay-at-home mom who had a degree in marketing and advertising and did some substitute teaching at Windham Primary School before she signed up. Now she is the first AmeriCorps volunteer at WPS, coordinating projects like a garden club, STEM learning and animal care and compassion lessons. 

“I developed a love for children. AmeriCorps was a way to leave the world a better place by leaving better children,” she said. AmeriCorps provides a living stipend for some of the volunteers and after a term, they receive a Segal Education Award to be used to pay off student debt or to pay for any higher education that accepts financial aid, according to Michael Ashmore, program development and training officer from the Maine Commission for Community Service, the organization that funds the AmeriCorps grants in the state. 
Terms can be a full year or part time. Full time is 450 hours. The amount of the award is dependent on the term. A 1,700 hour member receives approximately $6,000. Parents or grandparents can give their award to their children or grandchildren, who then will have seven years to use it. 

The living stipend is just below the poverty level, according to Ashmore. “Part of the experience is to experience what people are living like while you’re serving,” he said. There are currently 400 volunteers serving in the state full and part time. Volunteers can be from 17 to 107. 

“I’ve been put through courses I never would have had the opportunity to take,” Swartz said. “This rounds out your full education.” From trauma training to triggers training, Swartz is proud of the broad scope of programs they participate in.  

Will Smith from Michigan has been with AmeriCorps for two years. Last year he worked with the FEMA Corps, where he did disaster training and worked a disaster in South Carolina. He served 10 to 12 hour days for two weeks, then 10 hour days for a month after the initial disaster. “When I was first deployed there, I had to learn the ropes. Serving with an organization, we had to do on the spot learning,” Smith said. “I felt like there was a lot of dependence on us.”

September 30 was AmeriCorps Stand Down Day, where programs all over the country look at their emergency plans, personal and professional,” said Ashmore. 

“They are on call for responding for natural disasters. They are able and prepared to do it,” Ashmore said. “Count on us. We’re there when you need us to be.” 

For more information on the program or to find out about having AmeriCorps volunteers at your not-for-profit, faith based or government agency, visit or www.

Windham Public Safety Day deemed a success - By Stephen Signor

Last Saturday safety conscious residents flocked to the Windham Public Safety building to celebrate National Safety Day. With a combined effort from AARP, Windham Police Department, Windham Fire and Rescue Department, activities that promoted safety and education were set up around the property.
Among the activities was a K9 demonstration in which Windham Police Dog Vader was on hand to show off his prowess in locating unseen items for retrieval. Vader is a 3-year-old black shepherd that has been trained for numerous police responsibilities. Handler and Officer Steve Stubbs gave an entertaining and informative demonstration. Vader’s actions provided spectators a glimpse of how voice commands play an important role in catching law breakers and finding illegal items that may have been tossed out a vehicle for example. With the assistance of DARE Officer Matt Cyr, Vader also demonstrated the art of attacking and subduing criminals.

Appropriately, the Dalmatian Fire Mascot appeared as did Daren-the-Lion, the mascot for DARE.
The DARE program is taught in the fifth and seventh grades at RSU14. The program is run by Officer Matt Cyr. “Measuring prevention is one of the most difficult things that we do in law enforcement. If someone were to ask me if as a stand-alone [DARE] was the answer, I would look them straight in the eye and say absolutely not,” Cyr said. Has it been successful? “I’ve talked to law enforcement outside our state and they say wow! I can’t believe what you guys are doing. You are the model to follow.” He also expressed, “Windham is fortunate to have what we have. It is a great community. Support for programs such as this comes from all levels within the community. This is not just Windham, it includes Raymond.” 

The take-back prescription drug booth was available for accepting old or unused prescription drugs. A collection area was also in the lobby of the public safety building with high hopes to match last year’s success. 

“The drug take-back has been a very popular program. That collection yielded 12 to 15 boxes or roughly two tons,” explained Windham Detective Eugene Gallant. Collection is not limited to just these types of events. There is a box in the lobby of the public safety building available for drop off every day during business hours. 

“In such a gathering as this where large amounts are involved, it is moved into the evidence cage for security,” stated Gallant. Disposal is usually done by the DEA, however that can change. “The last time there was so much; Officer Cyr and I took the drugs to EcoMaine. They have a secure facility and we had to be present to witness the actual destruction after which we signed off on an official certificate,” said Gallant.

Safety has many faces and The Yellow Dot Program recognizes those of senior citizens. While this program is not specific to them, it is the largest group of users. Originating from Alabama it was developed to aid citizens and first responders in the event of an automobile accident or other medical emergency involving a participant’s vehicle. It was initiated by the Gorham-Windham-Westbrook Triad and with the help of sponsorships the word has gotten out. “It has been here locally for five years and is made up of local law enforcement agencies, businesses and seniors,” said Buffy Houp, who is involved with the program. “Yellow Dot is currently in 30 states and our goal is to get it state-wide here. Our mission is to minimize victimization of seniors in our community,” she continued.

Thanks to the donation by AARP, a Records Management Center truck was offering free document shredding adjacent to the public safety building. The driveway of the Family Resource Center/Food Pantry served as the dropping off point where boxes upon boxes were reduced to shreds protecting the citizens from identity theft. 

Further information on the participating programs, visit,,, and