Friday, January 15, 2021

Community helps solve photo mystery on Pettingill Pond

Steve Herbert of Windham is happy to be reunited with
several photos of himself that were left behind years ago 
when his family moved out of their home on Pettengill
Pond. The home's current owner, Matt Brooks, found them
in 2017 replacing a heater and tracked down Herbert and
gave the photos back to him. SUBMITTED PHOTO   
By Daniel Gray

Back in 2017, Matt Brooks discovered something a bit peculiar in his new lakeside residence on Pettingill Pond in Windham. He and a friend were replacing an old heater and, upon moving it, Brooks discovered photographs of a child from the 1960s or 1970s.

There was no name or date on the back of the photograph, and it was housed in a golden frame along with another photo of a baby. Brooks then launched a long and heartwarming journey to find the owner of the photographs and return them.

At first, Brooks did attempt to find the child in the photo through the internet. He had posted a question on Facebook seeking answers to who might be in the photo, but there had been no bites or clues rendered by his friends as to who the photo owner might be or to the identity of the child depicted in the photo.

Not being able to learn who the photos belong to, Brooks tried to donate the photo and frame to Goodwill later in 2017, although fate had something else in store for him and his fiancé.

When attempting to put it in the donation pile at Goodwill, a sign notified them that the thrift store had frozen pipes and a broken door. Brooks interpreted that as bad luck omen and scrubbed his attempt to donate it.

Brooks and his fiancé then decided to hang the frame along with their own family photos in their home as a good luck charm, hoping that one day they would be able to successfully reunite the photos with their rightful owners.

Three years later in 2020, Brooks was finally able to put an end to the mysterious photos hanging on his wall.


"Originally, I posted it on another Facebook page, but enough people encouraged me to try the
Windham Community Board Facebook Page again,” Brooks said. “Giving this another go, people had it solved within 15 minutes."

Posters suggested that a local man named Steve Herbert, who had been living in that house back in the 1970s might know who was in the photographs.

With the community's help, Brooks reached out to Herbert and, after years of mystery and intrigue, the photographs were finally returned to their rightful owner.

Herbert said that he was unsure about how any of his family photographs had slipped behind the water heater in such a way, when he lived in the house, but he was nevertheless overjoyed when he was alerted to the post on the Windham Community Board on Facebook by his friends.

"I had about 10 text messages screenshotting the post,” Herbert said. “It was pretty special."

When he was growing up, Herbert recalled that a number of issues led to many family photographs and memories being discarded, and he grew up without many photographs at all.

Herbert said that now that these photographs have been rediscovered thanks to Brooks, to him and his family, these photos mean a lot and they'll be cherished for a very long time. <


Raymond fisherman competes in Toyota Series Bass Championships

Jason Kervin of Raymond competed against some
of the top bass fishermen in the world during the 
2020 Toyota Series Championships held in early
December on Lake Cumberland near Burnside,
Kentucky. He qualified for the championships by
placing in the Top 10 in tournaments in the Northern
United States last year. SUBMITTED PHOTO    
Kentucky event draws more than 221 participants

By Ed Pierce

Jason Kervin of Raymond believes that if people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.

Kervin, 41, traveled to Kentucky in December to compete in the 2020 Toyota Series Championship at Lake Cumberland. The three-day tournament featured a field of 221 boaters and co-anglers from each of the eight Toyota Series divisions and tournament winners of the past year and included the top professional fishermen and co-anglers from the FLW International Division.

He qualified for the FLW Toyota Series Championship by fishing the Toyota Series Opens in the Northern division during 2020, finishing all three tournaments in the series and placing 25th or better in points at the end of the season. Kervin finished 21st overall in 2020 in the tournaments he fished, making the top-10 during a tournament on Lake Erie in Sandusky Ohio.

“I have been fishing since I can remember, age 7 or 8 maybe,” Kervin said. “I’ve been fishing bass tournaments since 2010 and started out with a small bass club, Rocky Hill Bass Anglers, out of Brunswick.”

Having lived in Raymond for just over a year, Kervin says that his favorite local spot to fish is Panther Pond and Androscoggin Lake is his absolute favorite place to fish in Maine.

“It's a beautiful, largely undeveloped shoreline lake, full of quality sized bass,” he said. “The early season high water also makes for some really fun fishing, allowing me to get my boat back in the brush areas to fish the shallow water that is usually marsh or dry land.”

Memorable and challenging 

According to Kervin, competing in the 2020 Toyota Series Championships was memorable, but challenging. 

“Lake Cumberland is very scenic but is a very different lake than anything in the North. They draw the
lake down 30 feet in the winter, and that is when we fished it,” Kervin said. “It's also a flooded reservoir with a huge dam at one end so the shoreline features are very dramatic. It has 1,255 miles of shoreline, covers 65,530 acres, and has an average depth of 90 feet. Coming down for a week to figure things out is no easy task given the size.”

His initial practices on Lake Cumberland were very difficult and Kervin only managed a few fish each day which didn't tell him much about fishing there.

“The tournament went pretty much the same. I finished 200th out of 232 anglers but I didn't bother weighing my fish on the last day,” he said. There was nothing to gain except for a few places, so I tossed it back.” 

Although he was disappointed, just reaching the championships for the year made the trip to Kentucky worthwhile, Kervin said.

“The timing for the tournament was very poor and the fish were not cooperating which made practice very difficult. What fish were up near the bank, were very finicky and didn't stay where you saw them. I learned that I should have been covering more water with a reaction bait to increase my odds but found that out too late,” he said. “Many of the anglers that did reasonably well were moving very fast just trying to get in front of as many fish as they could hoping for a bite. Not the way any of us wanted to fish. Needless to say, it was a disappointing trip for me, but just making the championships achieved a big goal. In the opens, we fish against some of the best anglers in the world who fish professional circuits every year and know these lakes very well. When I can show up and compete at any tournament, I think it's a success.”

On the water

To be at the top of his game each time out in tournament fishing, Kervin said that he needs to spend a lot of time on the water.

“Having a family, a job, and losing four to five months due to frozen water up north, I can only expect to achieve so much,” he said. “I don't believe I will ever stop tournament fishing though. I love the competition and bass fishing too much.”

He works as a service manager at Goodwin Chevy Buick in Oxford and besides fishing in the Toyota
championships in December, Kervin had another important event happen. He and his fiancé Beth had their first child, a daughter, named Brynlee who was born Dec. 30.

To date the largest bass that Kervin has caught was a 6.8-pound smallmouth bass on Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River.

“It was caught on a drop shot in 20 feet of water using a Xzone slammer in green pumpkin purple
flake,” he said. “It was caught during practice for an event and released. I didn't find it again during the tournament, but I looked like hell.” 

His dream is to someday become a professional bass fisherman and tournament fishing offers Kervin an opportunity to achieve that dream.

“I did receive an invitation to join the FLW Pro Circuit in 2019, but I was not ready at the time. I would have needed to secure sponsorship in a short time frame as well as being able to pay the bills around the house. It's possible and someday I will be able to make it work, but financially it's just too much having a family and so much in my life in place. If I were able to secure a win at an open, things may change in a hurry. The recognition with sponsors and the added money in the bank would help tremendously.”

But for right now, Kervin says he’s content to just enjoy fishing, being on the water and visiting different lakes to take in an amazing view of nature.

“Our lakes in Maine are some of the most beautiful and scenic places in the world. The serenity and peace I find while fishing is something that I haven't experienced doing any other activity,” he said. “Fishing in tournaments is a bit different given the frantic and intense nature of being on the hunt, but the scenery remains the same and the experience is always a memorable one. I fish a lot of the time with my good friend Shane Hatch here at home. He also fishes in the tournaments and we lodge together and help each other figure places out. That camaraderie is also an aspect I really enjoy.” <  

Chamber announces business awards; recognizes community successes

By Lorraine Glowczak

Customarily it is an evening of networking between business owners, entrepreneurs and community members that includes an ideally prepared menu and a special guest speaker – all of which is located at a venue within one of the 10 towns the chamber represents. But, because of the required social distancing due to COVID, the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce’s (SLRCC) annual meeting was held this year via Zoom from 8 to 9 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7. 
Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce 
President Zachary Conley personally delivered
the annual chamber awards to this year's award
winners at their annual meeting on Jan. 7. 
Congratulations to Conley, left, who was elected
chamber president for the third consecutive year
and to Community Service Leader, Richard 
'Richie' Vraux of Better Homes & Gardens
Real Estate - The Premier Team.
SUBMITTED PHOTO    

The challenges presented throughout 2020 did not prevent the Chamber from celebrating a successful, albeit a very challenging year and to announce the annual leadership award winners.

“I am proud of not only the chamber and board members who spent hours of time helping businesses and community members, I also want to congratulate the community itself for all we’ve done together throughout this crazy year we call 2020,” said SLRCC President, Zachary Conley of Modern Woodmen of America. “We’ve seen businesses help other businesses and we’ve seen grocery stores open earlier to accommodate the medically vulnerable and elderly.”

Before announcing the annual award winners, SLRCC Executive Director Robin Mullins presented her annual report. She shared the work the chamber has done for area business communities to support them throughout 2020. As a result of their efforts and support, there was an increase in chamber memberships this year, from 266 in 2019 to 285 today.

As always, one of the highlights of the annual meeting is the announcements of the Community Service Leader, Frank Koenig Chamber Hall of Fame, and the Business of the Year Awards.

The winners were presented their plaques in person by chamber members and are as follows:

Community Service Leader Award: Congratulation to Richard “Richie” Vraux.

Vraux, is a REALTOR® with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Premier Team and he was
nominated by Deb McPhail of Gorham Savings Bank. He volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, Consumer Affairs with the Greater Portland Board of Realtors, Preble Street Soup Kitchen, Windham and Raymond Food Pantries, Cystic Fibrosis of Northern Maine-Rockland, 911 Memorial Scholarship Fund-Gorham and Hands Around the Cove Committee – United Way.

“I am really happy to present this award to Richie, a dear friend,” McPhail said. “Whether it’s for the Chamber of Commerce, Sebago Lakes Rotary, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, the Windham Food Pantry, Windham Veterans Center or any other deserving non-profit or person in the community, Richie is silently helping out. He is not the face you see or the voice you hear. He is the quiet one behind the scenes giving back to his community in any way he can. He has a positive attitude and is always willing to help anyone in need.”

Frank Koenig Chamber Hall of Fame Award: Congratulations to Ruth York

Ruth York is a Group Sales and Special Events Director of Point Sebago Resort and she was nominated by Ed Getty of Getty Real Estate Services.

“Ruth has been with the Chamber for 15 years (give or take),” Getty said. “During that time, she has given of herself in both time and resources. She has been very active as a Board Director, committee member and committee chair. Her leadership and forward thinking have helped to take an idea (i.e., Sebago Spirits fundraiser) and turn it into a successful event that the Chamber will hopefully have for many years to come. And, although she is retiring from the SLRCC board, she has committed to staying on as the committee liaison for Point Sebago (and other future events, including Sebago Spirits). Her dedication to the SLRCC is to be commended and recognized.”

Business of the Year: Congratulations to Octagon Cleaning and Restoration


Rob and Kathy York, owners of Octagon Cleaning and Restoration, were nominated by Josh Fifield of Clark Insurance. This is the fourth year this business has been nominated.

“Robert started his business in 2002, then called Maine Cleaning Services. His office was his car and his cell phone, and he alone spent nights cleaning office buildings. In 2008 he took the business in a new direction and changed to Octagon Cleaning and Restoration - a business focused on air quality dealing with mold, water, and fire restoration and carpet cleaning. Robert grew the company every year since its inception providing additional jobs to the community and advancement opportunities for those team members that excel,” Fifield said. “Fast forward to 2020 and the company has grown to 30 employees, 22 vehicles and has added air duct cleaning, asbestos removal, and infection control to the list of services with offices in Maine and New Hampshire. In this year of COVID19, Octagon was utilized by government officials and facilities to combat influenza, coronavirus, and other types of contaminants that require aggressive sanitization in the indoor environment.

“At a time when many businesses have struggled, Octagon has flourished hiring nine new people to keep up with the demand. Another area of innovation for the company has been its use of solar energy,” Fifield said. “Solar panels have been installed in the Windham office (with plans to expand). The Octagon team realizes how blessed they have been, that is why they developed Octagon’s Give Back program. Each quarter they choose a deserving family (families are nominated by the community and chosen based on need) to receive up to ten thousand dollars in restoration services. They have also donated several thousand dollars to animal shelters, soup kitchens, and veteran charities during the pandemic.”

It is true that 2020 may go down in history as one of the most challenging times, but despite it all, it may also be remembered as one of the most transformative years of the 21st century.

It is really cool to see how fast people came together in the face of adversity,” Conley said, referring to the business and community members SLRCC represents. “That’s what we all did in 2020. We came together.” <

SeniorCare.com reminds college students to apply for the Aging Matters Scholarship

Deadline for applications May 15

SeniorCare.com is dedicated to helping seniors and their families in their quest for a better life. Aging impacts everyone and as the aging population explodes over the next 30 years, SeniorCare.com wants to bring more awareness to the key issues we face. We will be awarding an annual college scholarship to an individual that best demonstrates to us why "Aging Matters" to them.

The $1,500 SeniorCare.com Aging Matters Scholarship is given annually to a selected college student that currently cares for an aging loved one, works within the senior community, or intends to pursue a career that will have an impact on the elder population.

Any existing student (or incoming freshman), in good academic standing, at a two- or four- year accredited college can apply for this scholarship. The recipient will demonstrate a unique and admirable understanding and desire to show us that "Aging Matters" to them.

Scholarship awards of $1,500 can be applied toward tuition, books, board and other expenses.

Scholarship Details:

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Duration: One-Time Payment
  • Number of Recipients: one per year
  • Applications accepted beginning June 15 for awards the following year
  • Deadline Date: May 15, 2021
  • Selection Date: June 15, 2021
  • Announcement Date: As soon as the recipient is contacted, and their eligibility confirmed.

Application Requirements:

  • An existing college student or incoming freshman (to be enrolled in the Fall 2021 in good academic standing)
  • Attending any two-year or four-year accredited college or university as a full-time student
  • Complete and submit the application form.
  • Judging will be based on the submission quality of the application, which will include a short, 1,000 word or less essay on why Aging Matters to the applicant.
  • Apply at http://www.seniorcare.com/scholarship/The SeniorCare.com <

 

Maine residents can use SNAP for online food purchases during pandemic

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced approval of a request from Maine to provide online purchasing of food to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households.

This approval will allow Maine to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time. Maine’s SNAP participation is more than 144,000 individuals, more than 78,000 households, and totals $204 million annually in federal benefits.

SNAP online purchasing has been authorized by USDA’s Food Nutrition Service (FNS) for a number of online retailers including ALDI, Amazon, Walmart, and others.

Multiple stakeholders – notably, state agencies, their third-party processor, and any retailers that wish to participate – must work together to implement online purchasing using SNAP benefits. To ease the process, FNS put together a simplified template for states that want to operate online purchasing and provided guidance to interested retailers, which is available online.

USDA continues to provide significant technical assistance to all interested stakeholders to ensure implementation plans are thorough and appropriate preliminary testing is conducted to avoid compromising the state’s entire benefit system. Each state, EBT processor, and retailer presents their own mix of challenges so FNS is providing customer service based on each of their specific needs.

Until states are prepared to operate the pilot, USDA recommends utilizing other options that retailers may already provide, such as Pay at Pick-up (also known as “Click and Collect”), where SNAP cardholders can shop online and then pay for their purchase using their EBT card at pick-up. Grocery pickup is already an option that these retailers offer beyond SNAP so they are already thinking through how they can provide a safe environment to do so with the concerns around social distancing.

For up to date information and to learn more about flexibilities being used in FNS nutrition programs, please visit the FNS website. <

Proposed balanced budget for state invests in pandemic response

Maine's governor is proposing a 
supplemental state budget that invests 
in pandemic response funding and
preserves safety net funds for the poor.
FILE PHOTO  
AUGUSTA – Maine Gov. Janet Mills has proposed a supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021 and a biennial budget for Fiscal Years 2022 to 2023 that protect the health and wellbeing of Maine people by investing in Maine’s COVID-19 response, continuing to rebuild public health infrastructure, and preserving life-saving health care and safety net services.

Despite the challenges of the nearly yearlong pandemic response and current fiscal climate, the Department of Health and Human Services’ budget, a central component of the Governor’s proposals, bolsters the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, continues critical reforms, maintains access to vital programs and services such as MaineCare, and reduces costs through efficiencies and accessing federal funding.

“Over the last year, COVID-19 has altered the lives and livelihoods of Maine people in innumerable ways,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “These budget proposals are a measure of our dedication to containing the pandemic as well as our objectives beyond the pandemic -- advancing public health, improving the safety and wellbeing of our most vulnerable residents, and making sure Maine people have affordable, high-quality health care.”

The funding priorities that Mills has identified for DHHS include an additional:

**  $5 million for Maine CDC for COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and support services for people who need to stay in isolation and quarantine (supplemental); 

**  $3 million for the Maine CDC for additional capacity at the Health and Environmental Testing Lab, the Health Inspection Program, the Maine Immunization Program, and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program (biennial); 

**  $6 million to fund Section 29 services for adults with developmental disabilities in their homes and communities by an additional 30 slots per month (biennial);

**  $45 million for MaineCare rate increases for nursing facilities, residential facilities for children and older Mainers, Section 21 and 29 services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and other providers per state and federal requirements (biennial); 

**  $7.5 million for community mental health and substance use disorder services, including funds
for new crisis services in Cumberland County, helping individuals get appropriate treatment in the community; new MaineCare coverage for mental health intensive outpatient treatment; to promote the OPTIONS (Overdose Prevention Through Intensive Outreach, Naloxone and Safety) Initiative to dispatch mobile response teams to communities with high rates of drug overdoses and connect Mainers to local treatment; and a new Justice and Health team of intensive case managers around the state who help prevent incarceration (biennial);

** $6.8 million for continued child welfare improvements focused on preventing abuse and neglect and modernizing the core information technology system (supplemental; biennial).

DHHS additionally limits the impact of potential future shortfalls and ensures access to health care for Maine people by dedicating $25.5 million to the Medicaid Stabilization Fund to plan responsibly for potential MaineCare expenses, such as higher enrollment and costs due to persistent unemployment, federal restrictions on a nearly two decades-old funding source, and implementation of recommendations from the MaineCare rate system evaluation.

At a time when affordable and comprehensive health coverage has never been more important, Maine has reached a milestone in MaineCare enrollment. As of today, 70,689 Maine people now have coverage through the MaineCare expansion initiated by Governor Mills on her first day in office, surpassing initial enrollment estimates and representing an increase of more than 60 percent since February 2020.

While economic realities mean additional savings and reductions were necessary, DHHS’s proposal maximizes available funding sources including federal Medicaid match and prescription drug rebates, zeroes in on efficiencies that preserve services and programs, ensures compliance with federal requirements, and standardizes MaineCare rates for some similar services, Lambrew said. <

Friday, January 8, 2021

Community rallies to support 8-year-old Windham boy struggling with leukemia

Dominic Desalle of Windham, who turned 8
on Christmas Eve, was officially diagnosed
with acute myeloid leukemia a few days after
Thanksgiving. A GoFundMe page has been
set up to help the family with his medical bills.
There will also be a Red Cross Blood Drive
conducted that will provide special blood
platelet donation's to meet Dominic's needs
this coming week. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE SOUGHT ALONG WITH BLOOD PLATELET AND BONE MARROW DONATIONS

By Lorraine Glowczak

No parent or grandparent wants to learn that their child or grandchild has cancer. It is, in fact, their worst nightmare. But strength of spirit and love of community helps the Desalle-Strehlke family stay strong as they face together the leukemia diagnosis of their son and grandson, Dominic Desalle of Windham, who turned 8 on Christmas Eve. He was officially diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) a few days after Thanksgiving.

“It all began about three weeks before Thanksgiving,” said Dominic’s grandmother, Carol Desalle. “He was experiencing a fever, fatigue, vomiting, exhaustion and sensitivity to light, so I took him to Mercy Express Care in Westbrook. They tested him for COVID and everything came back negative, except tests showed Dominic had a mild case of strep throat.”

Carol Desalle brought Dominic back home with her to nurse him back to health. Dominic considers his grandmother’s house his second home. Dominic’s father, Joshua Desalle has just completed a certification program and is currently a surgical technician. He shares custody with Dominic’s mother, Kylie Strehlke, who works full-time as a certified nursing assistant. Dominic also has a younger brother, Landon.

“Dom’s fever and the other symptoms continued despite the medication we received,” Carol Desalle said. “When Dom’s mother brought him and Landon over the day before for Thanksgiving – I had planned the day for making pies - it is our holiday tradition.  Dominic said he couldn’t do it. He kept asking to go upstairs. I thought that was odd behavior for his personality.”

By 2:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Dominic’s symptoms had not only increased but included the loss of coordination. He was unable to put his hands together to wash them and found it difficult to stand up straight and walk in a steady manner.

“I looked at his nail beds and they were completely drained of color. I knew I had to rush him to the emergency room. I called his mother and she met us at the ER.”

It was there that spinal and bone marrow tests were completed and the diagnosis was confirmed.

Dominic is now receiving his first round of cancer treatments. He and his family are now in a “wait and
see” mode since further treatment is determined by how Dominic’s body reacts to the medication therapy. In addition to this, Dominic faces a few hurdles that add to the emotional and physical difficulties of cancer.

“One challenge Dominic faces is that his body carries a gene that will cause a relapse,” Carol Desalle said. “Due to this fact, it is deemed he will have to have a bone marrow transplant and thus will have to find a donor.”

A bone marrow transplant is not the only thing needed as part of Dominic’s healing.

“He also needs blood platelets,” said Carol Desalle. “What surprised me the most is that platelets are not readily available because very few people donate them. Dom and another young girl that was in the hospital at the same time had to wait over 12 hours before platelets were given to them.”

There is a way the community can help and be there for Dominic and his family. One such individual is a friend of the family, Jennifer Harmon. She established a GoFundMe page immediately upon hearing the news.

“Josh's parents, Carol and Tony [Desalle], have always been people who want to help others,” Harmon said. “They opened their home to my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. My grandson Matthew was just an infant when Dom was just a year old. Soon, they became best buddies over the next several years. I felt that starting the GoFundMe page was the right thing to do.”

Harmon continued, “I know how compassionate we are, especially for our children. Josh and Kylie need to be able to focus on Dominic without the stress of covering their expenses to be with him. I don't want them ever to feel like they can't be with him while he goes through his treatments.”

As of this printing, the GoFundMe page for Dominic has raised $5,450 out of a $10,000 goal. The GoFundMe web address is www.gofundme.com/f/dominics-leukemia-fight

In addition to financial donations, there will be a Red Cross Blood Drive that will provide special blood
platelet donations to meet Dominic’s needs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the Clarion Hotel,
1230 Congress St. in Portland. Reservations are required. To schedule an appointment, visit redcrossblood.org and use the sponsor code: Dominic.

If one wishes to see if they are a bone marrow match for Dominic, visit the Be The Match website at https://bethematch.org//

In whatever way you feel called to support this 8-year-old’s way back to health, any and all assistance is appreciated. But perhaps Jennifer Harmon says it best, “Let's help the Desalle-Strehlke family while Dom kicks cancer’s butt. #DomoStrong!” <

Raymond Public Works completes town roadwork projects for season

By Brianna Bizier

Maine winters are hard on just about everything. Birds fly south or spend the winter trying to find enough food to stay warm. Many animals hibernate, grow thick winter coats, or bundle up in layers of wool and down jackets. After a long Maine winter of freezing temperatures, sleet, snow, and salt, even our residential roads need some serious TLC. So, while Ben Franklin might have said the only certainties in life are death and taxes, for Mainers there are at least three certainties: death, taxes, and road construction.

Following reconstruction of a section of Mountain Road by
the Raymond Public Works Department, new stop signs have
been added at the intersection of Tenny Hill Road and
Mountain Road. PHOTO BY BRIANA BIZIER 
Raymond’s residents and visitors can drive a bit easier now that several major road improvement projects have been completed. The Raymond Public Works Department finished surface paving and shoulder work on Brown and Gore Roads, two residential spur roads that branch off busy Route 85. Shaw Road on Raymond Cape was also reconstructed with subsurface pavement, ditching improvements, and tree work.

This tree work is an essential part of maintaining roads here in the Pine Tree State. Almost 90 percent of the state of Maine is forest, making us the most-forested state in the nation. While Mainers do love our trees, those picturesque overhanging branches can become hazards if they start to block visibility by making it harder for drivers to see other vehicles, pedestrians, or even some of the local wildlife going for a stroll along the side of the road. Pruning back these trees also allows more sunlight to hit the road and melt another one of Maine’s major driving hazards: ice.

Raymond’s Public Words Department also completed a substantial reconstruction last year on the section of Mountain Road which stretches from Tenny Hill Road to Conesca Road, near the popular Raymond Community Forest. This picturesque, steep, and winding residential road received new culverts, re-ditching to enhance drainage, and major tree work to improve visibility for drivers and pedestrians and to allow sunlight to reach the road. Finally, two stop signs were added to the intersection of Tenny Hill Road and Mountain Road.

“That was a major project,” said Nathan White, the Public Works Director in Raymond. Because the

stop signs change the traffic flow in Raymond, White had to consult with the Maine Department of Transportation Engineers before adding the stop signs.

“I think it was an overdue safety upgrade,” White said.

He explained that, over the years, several drivers had blown right through that particular intersection and ended up either in the ditch or in the front yard across Tenny Hill Road. In response to those incidents, as well as several complaints and concerns from local residents, Raymond’s newest stop signs were erected this past year to make sure drivers come to a full stop before entering Tenny Hill Road from Mountain Road.

Although road construction season is over for the moment, Raymond’s Public Works Department is already looking ahead to 2021.

“Every year we plan to improve at least one public road,” White said.

This coming summer, White and the Public Works Department are proposing a large “reclaiming” of Main Street in Raymond. This massive project, which would be completed with the help of a grant from the Maine Department of Transportation, would involve grinding up the existing road, improving the drainage, and repaving the road. Finally, this coming year’s proposed reconstruction of Main Street is also slated to add sidewalks for pedestrians.

“Traffic in Raymond is heavier than it’s ever been,” White said, “so sidewalks are more important than ever.”

These new sidewalks will stretch the full length of Main Street, from Route 302 to the Raymond Village Library.

As Raymond and Windham residents know, keeping everyone safe while staying one step ahead of winter, and the toll our frequently dramatic weather can take on our local infrastructure, is a constant challenge. It’s a challenge Raymond Public Works tackles every single year to make sure our roads are as safe as possible for our drivers, walkers, and wildlife. <

WHS Robotics Team takes second in Thomas College Virtual Challenge

Members of Windham High School's Robotics Team are,
from left, Victoria Lin, Pyper Harris, Dillon Foley, Waylon
McDonald, and Julian Howard. The team will be participating
in further robotics competitions at Thomas College later
this month. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
By Elizabeth Richards

In an unusual year, the Windham High School Robotics Team is taking on new challenges and learning new skills.  Recently, three of the five members of the team participated in the Thomas College Coding and Innovation challenge. Their entry tied for second place.

Windham High School Computer/Tech teacher Michelle Lane, who started the Robotics Team at WHS last year, made a last-minute decision to sign them up for the challenge, which was to recreate a children’s book using building and coding in Minecraft. Team members Victoria Lin, Pyper Harris and Julian Howard chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and dove into the challenge. 

Their video had to be created in one week, and the three did not have prior experience coding in Minecraft. They met the challenge head on, working together, despite technical difficulties, to put the project together. 

Harris said that server problems prevented her from joining the game with Lin and Howard.  The students ended up working on their own pieces of the story and Lin edited it together using iMovie to create their video submission.

One of the biggest challenges, Lin said, was that they had a lot of work to do in very little time.

This was the first time the team had participated in this kind of challenge, and each member came out of the experience having learned something.  Though Harris said the technical issues prevented her from learning how to code due to time constraints, she said she learned how to use Minecraft better through this experience.

“I think I’ve learned a bit about how we can use the coding blocks in a very different kind of way,”
Howard said.

He said he was able to look at how the process of block coding, where, lines of code are put into blocks that can be stacked into a program, can change between different engines or software. 

“[It is] very interesting, how one can take a concept and shift it into something new with a new environment,” Howard said.

Lin said being able to code made the repetitive building much easier than having to do it all manually.

Having a limited amount of time to work with made the experience stressful, Harris said. 

“I think we would have been able to do better if we had more time,” she said.  

Howard said he was shocked that they tied for second place.

“We had a lot of technical issues, but we somehow did very good, and I’m proud of that, even if the result was shocking,” he said.

The team is part of VEX VRC Robotics. The season looks different this year, but Lane said she has been able to get pieces so they can begin building their robot for this year’s game. 

There will be virtual competitions that the team can participate in, Lane said.

“It’s more individual than it was but hopefully we’ll be able to start doing something by the end of January,” she said.

Traditionally, Thomas College has offered an in-person overnight challenge called the Thomas Cup.  This year, there are several smaller virtual challenges, free and open to all high school students in teams of three to five. 

At the end of January, they’ll hold the “Thomas Cup in a Box,” a 12-hour virtual event that consists of all the challenges. Teams can choose a twelve-hour block, either 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. in which to participate, according to the Thomas College website.

Lane said the team also participated in the CSI Challenge, getting an honorable mention.  They will do the Esports challenge in early January, and probably participate in the Robotics challenge as well, she said.

She’d also like them to participate in the “Thomas Cup in a Box” event at the end of January.

Team members said that they are interested in participating in challenges like this again now that they have some experience.

I feel like there was a lot of missed opportunity to delve more into the code to create something more,” Howard said.

Lin agreed.

“It was a great learning experience,” she said, “and a nice thing to do when we’re stuck at home.” <

Raymond Parks and Recreation seeks equipment donations for winter sports loan program

Raymond Parks and Recreation is asking for donations of 
used skis, ice skates and aluminum snowshoes so they can
offer an equipment loan program to residents. Donations
can be dropped off at the Raymond Town Office, 401 Webb
Mills Road during business hours. COURTESY PHOTO  
By Lorraine Glowczak

Raymond residents who enjoy winter sports but do not have easy access to equipment can plan to soon take advantage of a sports equipment loan program that will be offered through Raymond Parks and Recreation.

But before lending out winter gear becomes a reality; the department needs to acquire the equipment first. As a result, they are reaching out to the community for used winter equipment contributions.

“We are asking for donations of used skis, ice skates and aluminum snowshoes so we can offer a winter equipment loan program to residents,” said Joseph Crocker, Raymond Parks and Recreation Director. “We want people to enjoy all the outdoor possibilities Raymond has to offer and we are making it our goal to create opportunities for those who do not have the skis, snowshoes or skates to make that happen.”

For those who appreciate the peaceful and rhythmic feeling ice skating can offer, Raymond Beach off Route 302, is the perfect place to hone those senses.

“As soon as the waters are frozen, we will prepare Raymond Beach for ice skating,” Crocker said. “And we want as many Raymond residents as possible who do not own ice skates to have that experience and visit the [Sebago] lake during the winter months.”

There are also two hidden gems often overlooked during the winter – Tassel Top Park and Raymond Community Forest.

“What a lot of people do not know is that Tassel Top offers more than summertime fun,” Crocker said. “The established trail located there is perfect for beginning snowshoers and cross-country skiers.” 

Tassel Top Park has a 0.90-mile flat trail that beautifully meanders through acres of Maine woods and is clearly marked with points of interest and has benches to offer moments of relaxation. The park is located off Route 302 in Raymond across from the Raymond Shopping Center, and behind Jordan Bay Veterinary Hospital.

The Raymond Community Forest is a 356-acre preserve owned by Loon Echo Land Trust. According to
its website, the community forest contains four miles of multi-use trails and offers exceptional views of and from Pismire Mountain. 

“There are four trails to choose from at Raymond Community Forest, two of which are perfect for snowshoeing and offer opportunities for the more advanced cross-country skier,” Crocker said.

The two trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing that Crocker refer to include the “Spiller Homestead Loop” and “Grape Expectations”. Both are about 1.1 miles in length.

“To have a winter equipment loan program is a great way for Raymond residents to explore outdoors and enjoy the natural recreation Raymond has to offer,” Crocker said. “The benefits are many - fresh air, quiet time in nature while providing a low impact workout. All we need is the equipment to make the lending program happen. We hope people in the area who are no longer using their skis, snowshoes or ice skates would consider donating them to us so others can have opportunities to do so.”

If anyone is interested in donating used (or new) skis, aluminum snowshoes or ice skates, they can do so by dropping the equipment off at the Raymond Town Office, 401 Webb Mills Road during business hours.

The office hours are as follows:

Tuesday - 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Wednesday through Friday - 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Saturday and Sunday – Closed

Once established, the equipment loan program will be free of charge. There will be a deposit required in an amount yet to be determined and the deposit will be refunded if equipment is returned in the same condition after use.

For more information about donating winter sports equipment, contact Crocker at joseph.crocker@raymondmaine.org or 207-655-4742 option 2. <

Corey to serve on several legislative committees

AUGUSTA -- State Representative Patrick W. Corey, a Republican representing part of Windham, has been appointed to the 130th Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs.

Patrick Corey
Corey also will serve on the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs. These two committees are among the most sought-after legislative assignments in Maine.

Members of the Appropriations Committee review the governor’s budget submissions and recommend changes to the full state legislature.

“State spending, budget and tax policy directly affects every Maine citizen,” Corey said. “The pandemic has complicated an already difficult budget situation, with massive, projected revenue shortfalls in the foreseeable future. We will need to work together to set priorities and protect our most vulnerable citizens without raising taxes on people, businesses and families struggling to survive because of the pandemic.”

A self-employed creative director and marketer, Corey is serving his fourth term representing District 25, encompassing part of Windham.

He previously served on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization and Implementation.

Corey’s also a member of the Maine Marijuana Advisory Commission. <

Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020: Year in Review



As compiled by The Windham Eagle staff

The year 2020 opened with such promise for many in Windham and Raymond, but it became clear by late February and early March that we all were living through extraordinary times. The global COVID-19 pandemic forced its way into almost every aspect of our lives, from students and teachers making a transition to remote schooling to not being able to dine at our favorite restaurants, go to see a movie at the theater or hug our grandparents in the nursing home.

With job losses mounting, deaths from the virus climbing at area hospitals, local businesses struggling from a statewide restriction on tourism, prep sports forced to cancel and many popular events such as Windham’s Summerfest moved online, by summer the reality of the pandemic was entrenched in the Sebago Lakes region.

Daily lives were altered as mask wearing in public was mandatory, frequent hand washing and sales of bottles of hand sanitizer skyrocketed. Toilet paper and meat became scarce commodities in the grocery stores, which opened earlier to seniors shopping during the COVID crisis. To avoid interacting with crowds, more shoppers placed grocery orders online and then picked them up curbside. Increased demands placed upon online retailers like Amazon and Ebay kept delivery of items by U.S. postal carriers, UPS, and FedEx steady throughout the summer and well into the fall and Christmas seasons.

After Labor Day, the towns of Windham and Raymond prepared for local elections and on Nov. 3, poll workers saw record turnouts driven by a hotly contested presidential election.

As 2021 unfolds, we all have great optimism that the distribution of effective vaccines will allow life locally to slowly return to normal and hopefully by next fall, the threat posed by the greatest health hazard in modern memory will be relegated to the history books and stories told to generations that follow us.

But before we close the chapter permanently on 2020, here’s a quick look back at an unforgettable year unlike one any of us have previously experienced.

After a careful review of all issues of the newspaper in 2020, we’ve chosen to highlight the top three stories for each month as featured in The Windham Eagle and wishing everyone a better year ahead in 2021:


JANUARY

Robin Mullins to lead Sebago Lakes Chamber as Executive Director

Zachary Conley, President of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce (SLRCC) announced at the chamber’s annual meeting on Jan. 16 that Robin Mullins has been named the new Executive Director for the organization. 

Mullins is no stranger to the Chamber or to the Sebago Lakes Region. She grew up in Windham, graduated from Windham High School, and she and her husband, John, live in Windham with their two daughters, Cassidy and Ainsley (both of whom also graduated from Windham High School). 

She grew up camping every summer in Naples at Kay’s Family Circle Campground, which is now Loon’s Haven Campground, and her family now enjoys boating on Lake Long and Brandy Pond, in Naples, every chance they get in the summer. 

The new Director worked as the Chamber Office Manager for two years from 2015 to 2017. She returned in February 2019 as she missed the position and the people. “We were thrilled to have her back,” stated Conley. “We needed an Office Manager and she stepped back in like she had never been gone.” <

Young Windham actors play roles in ‘Little Women’

The latest movie of “Little Women,” directed by Greta Gerwig and currently showing in theaters, is the seventh film adaptation of the 1898 novel of the same name, written by Louisa May Alcott. What makes this recent movie version so special for one Windham family is that siblings Gracie and Lincoln Rulman were picked to play small parts, acting with Hollywood celebrities such as Emma Watson and Laura Dern.

“Lincoln acted as one of the four King children whose nanny is Meg, played by Emma Watson,” explained Sarah Rulman, the actors’ mother. “Unfortunately, his scene was cut due to timing, but Gracie’s scene remained in the movie. She played a church goer and a child in the Town Square on Christmas Day while actors Emma Watson and Laura Dern walked by, performing their scenes.

Their acting debut all started when Sarah answered a simple ad in the Portland Press Herald last spring. The ad was from a casting agency asking for young actors to apply as extras for the film. She applied and within a few weeks, 9-year-old Lincoln was the first to get the call back, with 10-year-old Gracie receiving a call shortly thereafter.

The Rulman family had many exciting experiences that included being on a professional movie set, filming on location and riding in a limousine to a nondisclosed location. <

Windham’s new public works building is cost-effectively increasing safety, efficiency and morale

Public facilities are important to municipalities and their citizens as they ensure basic needs are met with the goal that it is done so in the most affordable manner. The new public works building, located on 185 Windham Center Road, officially opened its doors in April 2019, and is already demonstrating the positive economic impacts to the Town of Windham. With that comes other important contributions to both the residents and its employees.

“Since we’ve been in this new building, we’ve seen an increase in efficiency, safety – and even morale,” stated Doug Fortier, Public Works Director.

Fortier further explained that with the 30,000 square foot building which includes, but is not limited to, the wash bay, maintenance garage, men and women’s locker room, RSU14 and Public Works offices have improved productivity in more ways than one.

For example, Highway Supervisor, Michael Constantine’s major focus for the winter is the plow trucks. He explained how the addition of the garage has contributed to quicker response time during the start of snowstorms.

“Before the new building, we had to first load the trucks with salt, let the truck idle to warm up and defrost the windows and clean the snow off the truck,” began Constantine. “With the new building, we can have the salt loaded and parked in the bay. As soon as we get in to work, all we need to do is start the truck and leave. It could take up to or over an hour before the new building, but now we can get on the road much more quickly and do so without wasting diesel fuel by idling the trucks or damaging cold hydraulic systems. It’s a win-win situation.” <

FEBRUARY

Windham resident to begin co-hosting on Coast 93.1 early morning radio program

What started as an opportunity to promote her business turned into a brand-new career for Windham resident Kelly Towle, who was recently selected to join the morning show for Coast 93.1.

Towle founded Plucked Fresh Salsa with her husband Jason, and their business partner Chris Fawcett joined them in late 2015.  Building a brand is difficult, she said, especially when they were doing everything themselves, including sales and marketing; accounting; the production of 3-6,000 pounds of salsa per week; and labeling, filling and packing the jars. “I’m always trying to get our name out there,” Towle said. 

Towle, who regularly listens to Coast 93.1, heard them talking about filling Eva’s seat while Eva was on vacation. She thought that would be a good opportunity to advertise the company while also having a good time and embracing her love for music.

She was selected as one of the participants and spent four hours on air with Blake. As she was leaving that morning, she said, a couple of the managers approached her to say she’d done a great job, was funny, and seemed to have good chemistry with Blake.

After a few weeks of going through the interview process along with other candidates, Towle was hired to join the show. She’ll be on the air Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., along with doing appearances and endorsements, she said. <

Raymond man raises awareness about the importance of AEDs after surviving cardiac arrest at daughter’s wedding

Mary Bowie could have lost her father on one of the happiest days of her life. On Memorial Day 2019, at Bowie’s wedding reception, Tom Wiley collapsed on the dance floor. Fortunately, the right help was available, and he survived the ordeal.

"Without the aid of trained people who know CPR and an AED at the reception, I may not be here now” said Wiley. While three men at the wedding who had CPR training (the bride’s uncle Danny; her new father-in-law Chris; and one of the groomsmen, Tyler) sprang into action, that alone may not have been enough to save Wiley. Fortunately, the reception site, Camp Ketcha in Scarborough, had an automatic external defibrillator (AED) on site. The men were able to revive Wiley before EMS arrived.

Wiley didn’t have any symptoms of heart trouble like chest pain, headache, nausea or vomiting that day.  “I was dancing, and then I wasn’t. I don’t remember anything from beginning to dance to being outside going in the ambulance,” he said.

Since then, he has learned a lot about the heart, he said.  He has a defibrillator, does a rehab program, and will meet with a genetics cardiologist soon. He said he’s had a good support system with family, church members, and co-workers. “I’m very lucky, and I want to spread the news,” he said.

Before his experience, Wiley said, he didn’t understand the importance of the AED. He works for the city of South Portland and when they purchased some AEDs a few years ago, he wondered why they were necessary, especially since there was a fire station right next door. 

There is also a fire station right across from Camp Ketcha, he said, but the ambulance sent for him came from somewhere else. “I was told that I was the third cardiac arrest that day in Scarborough, and I was the only one that survived,” Wiley said.  Later, when he was in the hospital, Wiley received a visit from the Scarborough EMS chief who told him, “I don’t usually get to talk to survivors.” <

Raymond welcomes new Recreation Department Director

Raymond residents are eagerly anticipating the latest addition to their town: a new Recreation Department headed by a new Recreation Director. Joseph Crocker, the Town of Raymond’s most recent hire, will begin his tenure leading Raymond’s newly-created Recreation Department later this month.

“We’re really excited about this opportunity,” said Don Willard, Raymond’s Town Manager. “It’s an

enormous step forward for the town.”

Originally from Old Orchard Beach, Joseph attended Saint Joseph’s College, where he earned a degree in Exercise Science. He then continued his studies at New England College in New Hampshire, earning an MBA in Sports and Recreation Management. Although he grew up on the Maine coast, Joseph has always felt a connection to the Lakes Region.

“My family has been camping in the Lakes Region for 28 years,” Crocker said. “It’s been a special place in my life. I love the area and the community.”

Crocker started his position as the Director of Raymond’s new Recreation Department on Feb. 18. <

MARCH

2016 WHS graduate a top student and valedictorian at UMaine

“I did it, Mom! I did it! But please don’t tell anyone.”

That was the humble plea of Sierra Yost, a 2016 Windham High School (WHS) graduate, during a recent phone conversation with her mother, Marla Pettinelli. Sierra had just discovered she was selected as the number one 2020 academic and Valedictorian student graduating at the University of Maine (UMaine) and called her mother to notify her.

The fact that Sierra is on the front page of today’s Windham Eagle newspaper is an indication that her mother, as well as Sierra’s father, Rick Yost, did not heed her pleas about this exciting news. But since the cat is out of the bag, we will share Sierra’s story despite her preferences for keeping this news on the down and low.

In alignment with her well-mannered personality, Sierra has honored her parents’ requests and took the time to speak with The Windham Eagle newspaper. She shared how the selection process for the top student works at UMaine. “There are 10 nominations,” she began. “Two top students are nominated from each college [there are five separate colleges in the UMaine system]. I was selected as one of the top students in the Department of Engineering. A Teachers’ Council of professors then select from the submitted essays of these 10 students. From there, they nominate the number one student and send it to the President for approval. I’m very happy that they selected me and that I was approved by the President.” Sierra’s degree is in Chemical Engineering.

In fact, this is not the first time Sierra has received media attention. As a Windham Middle School eighth-grade student, the motivated and innovative 14-year was a house-hold name in the Associated Press after watching the film, “Bag It.”

As for school itself, Sierra is glad she chose UMaine. “Don’t knock your state school,” she advises future WHS graduates. “At first, I really didn’t want to attend UMaine, but I discovered I have received the best education possible. The faculty wants everyone to succeed and help you become qualified for the next step in your life.” <

Local poet creates framed poetry display for National Poetry Month

Bob Clark’s interest in poetry was piqued when he was a student at Windham High School.  A teacher there took the time to really examine poetry and the different ways it could be interpreted.
That initial interest returned later in life, and inspired Clark to begin offering a display of his work to public libraries during April, which is National Poetry Month. He is scheduled to display his work for the tenth consecutive year at the Windham Public Library next month.

In notes that will accompany his 2020 display, Clark wrote, “Making reader connections has become my lead effort, just as it had been years ago in grade school when we were invited to think about a “deeper meaning” that an author could be intending. It was fascinating!”

For several years, Clark had month-long displays in two different libraries. He has now backed off to only displaying his work in Windham.

Clark’s poetry reflects what he sees in New England, much like that of Robert Frost or Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, he said. “To write is to feel freedom, a freedom to use words as images and images as expressions of comfort and joy, as well as concern or unease,” Clark said in his 2020 display notes. “The ‘story’ of many poems furnishes a friendly New England gesture to relax and read with a serene sense of enjoyment. Those on display welcome patrons to recall something similar in or from our unique natural maritime and forest landscapes and work heritage,” he added.

Clark’s 2020 display is titled “Carriage Lane,” and features works from his two books, “The Hitching Post”, and “Tenerife Island”. Along with the display, Clark will offer free bookmarks, and a booklet of poems for sale. <

Windham couple make it to final round to win a ‘Real Maine Wedding’ with plans to donate to Windham Food Pantry

Since 2011, the publishers of Real Maine Weddings magazine have hosted a fun competition for couples getting ready to tie the knot for a chance to win a $100,000 wedding prize at a beautiful Maine venue. Past host communities have been located in idyllic Maine locations such as Rockport, Kennebunkport, Peaks Island and Ogunquit to name a few. This year, the lucky winning couple will have their wedding celebrations in Bath and Phippsburg.

Windham natives and 2012 Windham High School graduates, Stephanie Frost and Mitchell Hodge, who became engaged to be married on Oct. 19, 2019 entered the contest and have made it to the top three finalists.

Frost stated that she and her fiancé were encouraged to enter the contest by her grandmother. “My grandmother knew the couple that won last year,” Frost began. “She believed we had an interesting story and history to share so she thought we would be good candidates for this year’s Real Maine Wedding competition. So, we thought we’d give it a try and go for it.”

Hodge and Frost grew up in Windham and although they knew one another while in high school, it wasn’t until they became friends at Keene College in New Hampshire that their love blossomed during their sophomore year.

After receiving their degrees - Frost in communication; Hodge in theater with a minor is psychology - they returned to live and work in Windham, becoming engaged about three years later.

The couple are active community members, giving back in multiple ways including coaching youth in soccer (Hodge) and basketball (Frost). But giving back to their hometown does not stop there. In a recent Facebook post, Hodge wrote the following:

“For every vote we receive throughout the final round of voting, we will donate 10 cents. The money raised will be donated to the Windham Food Pantry. Steph and I want to give back and help the people around us, whether we win the contest or not. We will be giving back to our community. That's the real win.” <

APRIL

Windham High School graduate participates in unique Navy exercise

Though Hunter Anderson didn’t join the Navy with the goal of joining a submarine team, he’s glad that that’s where he ended up. Recently, being part of this team offered Anderson an opportunity to participate in a multinational maritime ice exercise (ICEX) in the Arctic Ocean.

An article by Geoff Ziezulewiz in the Navy Times said ICEX “helps boat crews stay sharp in an Arctic region that officials believe is becoming increasingly vital to national security.”

The exercise, held every two years, was based out of Camp Seadragon, a temporary military outpost on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean.

Two U.S. boats participated in ICEX 2020: the Connecticut, based out of Bremerton, WA and the Toledo (Anderson’s boat), based in Groton, Connecticut.

Working on a submarine presents some unique challenges, Anderson said, and it takes a certain type of person to handle the working environment and close quarters. It’s difficult, he said, to get into the submarine force and stay in, making it an undermanned part of the Navy. The upside, he said, is that you know that the people you are working with have been through extensive training, have the necessary knowledge, and won’t crack under pressure.

“You’re working with, hands down, the best people in the Navy,” he said. The downside, he added, is that you are constantly busy because there are so many things only the submarine force can do, and so few people to do them.

Anderson is a 2017 graduate of Windham High School, and his family still lives in Windham. His mother, Vicky Anderson, said she was excited that Hunter had a chance to experience ICEX 2020. “Not many people can say that they’ve been on a submarine, and not many people can say they’ve been on a submarine above the arctic circle,” she said. <

Windham ASL Interpreter for Maine CDC briefings draws interest

Dr. Regan Thibodeau, ASL Instructor at the University of Southern Maine’s ASL Lab and a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) and Translator, is committed to helping the Deaf community get all the resources and support they need. This is apparent in her interpreting for the Maine CDC briefings on COVID-19 as well as in the work she has done throughout her life.

Thibodeau has garnered a lot of attention recently for the expressive way she interprets at the Maine CDC briefings. In a conversation with Jeff Parsons published on wjbq.com, she explained the importance of using such animated expression in her interpretation.  “…most of our ASL grammar such as punctuation, intonation, tensing, transitions, even run-ons, occur within the face and head tilting. Shoulder shifting shows dialogue, for example. If you covered a signer’s face and only had their hands shown, it would not mean anything.”  Interpreters who sign smaller and use less expression typically are those for whom ASL is a second language, and didn’t grow up using sign language, she added.  “This means we will miss getting this critical information to a huge group of people that need ASL access.”

Thibodeau is also involved in a project with dpan.tv on Facebook, to be sure that CDIs are provided for white house briefings. This project has very limited funding, she said, and they don’t know what will happen when that runs out. “Really, the White House should be paying for it,” she said. “We are so lucky that MEMA and the State of Maine recognizes the use of CDIs!”

Thibodeau is bilingual, fluent in both spoken English and ASL. Typically, she works with a Hearing Interpreter who interprets the spoken English to her. She then interprets that expressed signing to her team.

Born deaf, Thibodeau has been a member of the Deaf community since childhood. Throughout her life, she has encountered many different signing styles and skills. “This is an asset to my job as it gives me language flexibility to meet my clients at their place of understanding and their world view to better connect the two people using me to communicate with each other,” she said. 

Thibodeau co-wrote a bill with Karen Hopkins of Scarborough to help the State of Maine pass legislation on Kindergarten Readiness for D/HH/DB Children last year. 

She said she is excited to have recently submitted a final version of the world’s first textbook chapter on CDIs in the K-12 settings.

Thibodeau and her family have lived in the Forest Lake community since 2007. There are many things she likes about living there, she said, including the privacy of the roads which makes it safer for her to run, having the lake right there, and the summer people who make the place come alive with a different energy.

Of her many accomplishments in life, Thibodeau said some proud moments for her include getting her BA while working 60 hours a week, going to school full time, and dealing with the effects and aftermath of a toxic relationship; giving her commencement speech at the Multi-cultural graduation ceremony; and running the Beach to Beacon for the first time despite having suffered back injuries. Now, she added, it makes her happy to be able to do home projects such as replacing her own kitchen sink. “And when my family says I pulled off a good dinner,” she added.  <

Windham High School senior produces inspirational video message for the Class of 2020

Knowing they won’t return to school for the remainder of the year is a major adjustment for all students, teachers and families. But for high school seniors, it’s heartbreaking to hear that they will not walk the halls with their friends one last time.

WHS senior Anthony Gugliuzza created a video that he shared via YouTube early last week.  Now, with distance learning continuing through the end of the year, the video is even more poignant and relevant.

Gugliuzza said he’d been thinking a lot about senior year and the uncertainty that surrounded it.

Looking at pictures of teachers and friends on his phone made him smile, he said, and inspired him to create the video to share. “I thought that if I put something together for the whole class, it would be a means to helping everyone through such tough times. I wanted people not only in our school but throughout the community to know that we will get through this together, even if it means [that] right now we have to be apart.”

The news that school would not reopen this year was tough, Gugliuzza said.  “Our school is like family, the kids, the faculty, we all care about one another. However, I know our school system is filled with some amazing individuals who will find a way to make our senior year special,” he said. “Sometimes you need to lose something to know what you have. Although it's not ideal to lose your

senior year, there is always a plan. Things seem to have a funny way of working out,” he added. <

MAY

Chamber and town collaborate with restaurants to provide free food for Windham seniors

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Windham Parks and Recreation Department, Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce have joined forces with local restaurants to offer free meals to-go for senior residents ages 65 and above in the Windham community.

The prepared meals began Friday, May 8 with curbside pick up from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Windham Town Hall, 8 School Road, and continued every Friday into the summer.

“The intention of the free senior meal to-go program is to give our seniors citizens in need a healthy food option while at the same time, help Windham restaurants keep working and stay busy,” stated Linda Brooks, Director of the Windham Parks and Recreation Department. She further explained the town has scholarship money set aside for senior programming. Following the lead from the Saco Parks and Recreation Department, who has started a similar free food plan, Brooks thought offering something similar in Windham would be a great option for the community.

“When I approached Tom Bartell, Director of the WEDC and Robin Mullins, Director of the Chamber about this idea, they both thought it was a perfect way to use the scholarships funds to assist both seniors and area businesses,” Brooks said.

Each week, a participating restaurant will be selected to make the meals. The Elbow Room Bistro will be the first to offer toward the food-to-go program and the initial menu item to be offered will be Shephard’s Pie with gravy. Next Friday’s meal, offered by Franco’s Bistro, will include either lasagna or fettuccine with meatballs.

Brooks noted that the free curb-side meal to go for seniors will follow social distancing recommendations. Individuals will be able to easily pick-up meal’s curbside in the town’s parking lot. <

Windham launches new way to celebrate Summerfest, but event spirit remains

The good news: the Summerfest Committee is committed to having fireworks and a celebration at a later date, once it is safe to do so.

The other news: Last month, because of the pandemic, the Summerfest Committee made the decision Summerfest will be a virtual event held on the Summerfest Facebook page.

Previously known as Old Home Days, Summerfest has always been a great way for residents to celebrate Windham. This free, family-friendly event lets everyone gather to kick off the start of summer.

Due to Covid-19, public events of more than 50 people are prohibited into June, July and August under Governor Janet Mills’ timeline to reopen the state.

“We decided to err on the side of caution and try a virtual event,” said committee co-chair Robin Mullins.

The Windham Parks and Recreation Department’s mission is to create a sense of community and unity through people, parks and programs. Like many of us, since the pandemic, the department has had to change the way they do things, but they haven’t stopped doing them.

Some of the events and activities included the Hometown Hero award, viewing old videos and footage of past Summerfests and weekly photo contests.

“Summerfest’s mission is Bringing Unity to the Community,” said the liaison for vendors and crafts Barb Maurais. “The committee felt that it was important that we continue our Summerfest tradition and celebration even with the social distancing restrictions. Since we wouldn’t be able to gather, the Virtual Summerfest will be our way of bringing Windham residents together especially during the celebration of Maine’s Bicentennial.” < 

Windham to keep taxes flat for the next fiscal year 

The most recent word in today’s repertoire is ‘flatten’ – as in ‘flatten the curve’ relating to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Town of Windham is using the term as it relates to the town’s budget. 

“The town’s municipal budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year will have a zero increase as a result of the pandemic,” said Barry Tibbetts, Windham Town Manager. “Basically, the town’s fiscal budget will remain flat and the majority of planned building remodels and additions, paving and improvements to dirt roads along with other needed items have been placed on hold. There will be no tax increases from the town’s municipal budget.” 

The town has postponed the hiring of additional needed staff as well as building renovations and expansions necessary at the Town Hall. A few much-needed items will be purchased and be obtained, and the public safety building located on Windham Center Road will undergo some expansion, but residents will not see an increase in taxes this year or the future for that project.

“We will be purchasing one pickup and a smaller dump truck, a new ambulance and must make necessary additions/remodeling to the public safety building in order to comply with the safety regulations as a result of COVID-19,” Tibbets said. “When the public safety building was built in 1989, there were only 22 employees. Now, we have more than doubled the number of staff with 48 employees and the officer and emergency medical providers are extremely cramped and unsafe. These modifications to the building with the new addition will be absorbed within the budget by using a bond. There will not be an increase in the mill rate or the town’s taxes, as a result.”

The projected mil rate increase for the RSU budget, should it be approved, will be 47 cents while the County impact will be 4 cents. Another quick way to calculate that for individual impact would be a $51 increase per $100,000 in valuation. <

JUNE

Lucky streak: Windham Public Works driver discovers patch of four-leaf clovers

Dave Rampino isn’t much of a betting man, but maybe he should be. On June 4, the Windham Public Works Department truck driver hit the jackpot in finding something many search a lifetime for -- a four-leaf clover.

Rampino, who’s worked for the Town of Windham for 17 years, was moving a snowplow at the Public Works facility when he saw a patch of clover near the curb. Stopping to look through the clover patch, he found not one, two, three, but actually four four-leaf clovers and one five-leaf clover in a span of about five minutes. 

“I was doing a walk-around of my plow truck when I saw the clover patch,” Rampino said. “I always looked for four-leaf clovers as a kid and thought I’d look over there too.”

Legend has it that St. Patrick of Ireland once found a four-leaf clover and gave it to his friends telling them that it was put there by God with the first three leaves representing faith, hope and love and the fourth leaf representing luck. St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, or three-leaf clover, to his followers to describe God’s Holy Trinity.

Ancient Celtic priests of Ireland believed that by carrying a three-leaf clover or shamrocks, they could ward off evil spirits and in time the shamrock became forever associated as a symbol associated Ireland and the Irish people. Four-leaf clovers were described in Celtic literature as “magical” and capable of producing instantly good fortune if discovered and finding a five-leaf signified that enormous wealth was coming your way.

The website www.thescienceexploer.com estimates that the odds of finding a four-leaf clover at 10,000 to 1 and lists the odds of finding a five-leaf clover at more than 1 million to 1. Scientists say because clover plants do not naturally produce four-leaf plants genetically, that’s what makes four-leaf clovers a rarity.

According to Rampino, the morning of June 4 was the first time he looked through the patch of clover near the truck yard since the Windham Public Works Department moved into a new 30,000 square-foot facility on Windham Center Road last year.

“I think all this dirt was brought in here and the area was reshaped. I don’t know what they used to seed it with,” he said. “This particular patch might actually be wild clover coming out of the nearby woods, but I’m really not sure about that.” < 

Raymond safely opens public places and town hall, returning to normal business hours 

The Town of Raymond’s municipal office has opened their doors to the public to continue providing services, while at the same time, protecting members of the community and office personnel COVID-19 exposure. 

The town hall’s office hours are Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. As for the public places, Raymond Beach and Veterans Memorial Park are open, but Tassel Top Park is closed until further notice.  

The Town of Raymond is asking patrons to practice proper social distancing when using these public spaces by remaining 6 feet from others. Also, it is asked that people not use any playground equipment or sit at picnic tables as they are not being sanitized after each use and pose a risk of spreading the virus. 

Although the town offices are reopened, staff continued to provide municipal services during the couple months they were closed. Much like other organizations, the town has had to be innovative, overcoming challenges the pandemic has created. 

Employees have adjusted well and kept things moving forward in a timely manner. 

“I wish to give a word of thanks to all town staff and employees,” said Town Manager Don Willard. “We have continued to provide services, working remotely from home, and everyone has been very happy to do so. The Town’s Select Board has been supportive and right there with us. We have all worked very well together and have done so under unusual circumstances.”

Working together includes the collaborative efforts with the town’s patrons to ensure a certain level of safety as their doors open to the public. < 

Raymond banners pay tribute to town’s graduating seniors 

It was a year like no other in history for high school students this year, but a kind gesture has lifted spirits and inspired some lasting memories for 49 graduating seniors from the Town of Raymond. 

Starting on the weekend following graduation, motorists driving through town on Route 302 found individual banners containing the names of all 49 of the town’s graduating seniors affixed to light posts throughout Raymond.

During a recent Raymond Select Board meeting, a proposal was made to do something different this year to recognize graduates from the town after traditional rites of passage for graduating seniors such as the Senior Prom and the annual commencement ceremony were scrapped as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We felt these graduates needed something after everything that’s happened in the past few months because of the coronavirus,” said Teresa Sadak of the Raymond Select Board. “And we wanted it to be for all graduating seniors from our town and not just those who graduated from Windham High School. We first looked at having signs made, but signs seemed rather ordinary. The banners were a better idea and the select board members agreed.”

In all, the town had 51 sturdy vinyl banners produced by Time4Printing in Windham, with the two additional signs saluting the Class of 2020 placed on utility poles on Route 302 near the town lines with Casco and Windham entering Raymond.

Names of the graduates were confirmed by town officials and then double-checked to ensure that they were spelled properly prior to the production process. It only took Time4Printing employees about week to create the banners and then give them to the town to be unfurled on graduation weekend. 

“These young people are indeed our future and they have worked 12 or 13 years to reach this point in school,” Sadak said. “It’s just a shame that they had to go through this and miss so many school activities before their graduation. This small gesture by the town is intended to show them that we have noticed all of their hard work to get to where they are today, and we wanted to honor and recognize them with something they would always remember.” <

JULY

Peaceful protest inspires education and awareness on social justice 

Over 100 area residents came out to participate in a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest held in Windham on June 25, walking from the Windham High School to the Windham Public Safety Building along Route 202 and back with a 15- to 20-minute opportunity for expressions on social justice. 

The event was organized by Zach DeFosse and Celine Baker, both 2017 WHS graduates. Their main goal was to educate and inspire awareness surrounding the current social justice concerns – and to do so without violence.

“Throughout the process of planning our protest, Zach and I agreed that our intention was to educate and bring awareness,” Baker said. “Neither Zach or I wanted any harm, destruction, or violence to come of our protest and thankfully everyone that attended helped us achieve that goal.”

DeFosse, who is concerned about social justice, was inspired to create this event after he attended the peaceful protest in Gorham.

“I was, and still am, deeply disturbed at the recent events happening in this country, especially after such a long history of racism that still exists today,” DeFosse said. “I had attended a peaceful protest in Gorham that went very smoothly, and I wanted something like that to take place in Windham as well. Since no one else seemed to be stepping up to do something here, I decided I would take it on myself. I reached out to Celine, who is an event planner, to help me make it actually happen.”

Others had a moment to express their thoughts including Portland author Abdi Nor Iftin who was invited to attend and speak at the event. He shared his story on social justice as an immigrant and then asked:

“Where do we start with social justice? We read, we write, we walk, we talk.” <

 

Voters approve RSU 14 school budget, establish candidate field for general election 

In-person turnout was light for the Maine State Primary in both Windham and Raymond, but nevertheless, important and significant issues were decided at the polls by voters Tuesday, July 14.  

Linda Morell, Windham Town Clerk, oversaw voting in Windham’s District 24 and District 25 at Windham High School and the counting of absentee ballots, which saw a record number requested this election cycle because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morell said that during a typical election, about 500 absentee ballots are requested from the town’s Registrar of Voters, but more than 2,700 voters chose to vote by the absentee option this time. Storms and heavy rain in the area may have also kept some voters away from the polling place. 

“Voting has been light here at Windham High School, but we always strive to handle each election with the utmost integrity for all voters,” Morrell said. 

Both Morrell and Raymond Town Clerk Sue Look spent weeks leading up to the primary making sure that voting machines were operational and that every voter that requested an absentee ballot received one in a timely fashion.      

On the Raymond ballot, incumbent Select Board members Samuel Gifford and Lawrence A. Taylor III ran unopposed for reelection Tuesday for the three-year terms. Gilford received 799 votes and Taylor tallied 757 votes. 

Voters in Raymond also were asked to select individuals by write-in for two different three-year seats on the town’s Budget-Finance Committee. Two incumbents serving on that board, Dana Desjardins and Crystal Rogers, did not choose to run for reelection and no other candidates filed at the deadline to run for those positions.

Look said that Joe Bruno, who already is a member of the Budget-Finance Committee, received the highest number of write-in votes with six. Kaela Gonzalez, who is already a town employee received four write-in votes. < 

Windham marijuana ordinance in full swing 

The approved town ordinance on the sale of Recreational Adult-Use and Medical Marijuana Storefront facilities as well as business and personal marijuana outdoor cultivation that was voted on, approved, and adopted by the Windham Town Council on May 26 officially took effect on Friday, June 26. 

The deadline, however, for business applications occurred July 27 and will be forwarded in a month to the Windham Town Council for consideration. A special Windham Town Council meeting will be called on the first or second week of September to review and address the applications. 

A four- to five-year process in the making, the Town of Windham has considered this new business and perhaps controversial model for a while. All the while, the town itself has seen retail marijuana storefronts increase to the present number of nine businesses. Some see this as economic development while others view this as a moral or youth-based use issue. Whatever the case may be, the Windham Town Council has diligently considered both perspectives in the past four years. 

“Marijuana vendors began to build their businesses in 2016-2017,” said current Town Council Chair, Jarrod Maxfield. “Council members at that time – along with the Windham delegation, toured the facilities that were established. The vendors built their businesses immediately following the vote to approve medical marijuana at a time when there were no state regulations.” 

“The fees will go toward substance use education and prevention, but the parameters and specifics have yet to be determined,” said Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts. “The town council will discuss and consider these factors in the near future.”

Town Council Chair Maxfield said that the intention of the ordinance is to limit storefronts to a total of two adult-use and four medical storefronts. 

“Currently, there are nine storefronts,” said Maxfield. “These storefronts are grandfathered in.  When a marijuana business decides to close, it will not be replaced. At this point – there will only be a total of six marijuana businesses in Windham – limited to two recreational adult use and four medical marijuana storefronts.”

“Neither side, for or against, is happy with the ordinance outcome,” Maxfield said.

“But for me, this is a positive thing. That indicates to me the Council found a middle of the road answer while regulating and putting some control on the expansion of the marijuana industry in our town while at the same time addressing the concerns of Windham residents who believe we have too many marijuana businesses in a such a small town.” <

AUGUST

Windham TV returns to airwaves and moving to Channel 5

One of the few stations on cable television where Windham residents can find true diversity of opinion, civic engagement, entertainment, children’s programming and spirited community dialogue and discussion is back on the air and looking to become a favorite once again among local viewers.

Windham TV, formerly known as WCCG TV-7, resumed broadcasting in July after being on hiatus since March because of COVID-19 restrictions and technical issues. As the home of long running popular programs such as “Speak Out,” hosted by Representative Patrick Corey, the public access channel had been moved from its traditional site on Channel 7 by Spectrum to Channel 1303 in 2017 but is now being dual-illuminated on Channel 7 while awaiting a permanent move to Channel 5.   

Last year a Maine law was upheld by a federal judge that requires cable television providers to relocate public access channels to their former low-channel positions to make them easier for area viewers to find.

“Our viewers will still be able to find Windham Town Council meetings, Windham Planning Board meetings, RSU 14 meetings and Windham Zoning Board meetings on our broadcasts,” said Brad Saucier, Windham TV program manager. “But want everyone to know that our programming is so much more than merely local meeting coverage.”

Saucier has been working for the public access Windham TV station for the past 18 years and says that the channel’s main programming runs 18 hours each day with a continuously-running Community Bulletin Board filling the overnight hours. <

RSU 14 proposes hybrid plan for school reopening

In the wake of COVID-19 restrictions, RSU 14 Schools Superintendent Christopher Howell has recommended that the school district adopt a hybrid model for the start of the school year for students in Windham and Raymond.

In a Zoom presentation made to the RSU 14 Board of Directors on Aug. 5, Howell proposed starting in-person instruction for students in Grades 1 to 9 on Sept. 1, with students in Grade 10 through 12 starting in-person classes on Sept. 2.

Using the hybrid model, students would be grouped alphabetically with last names from A to K having in-person classes in school on Mondays and Wednesdays and those with last names from L to Z attending in-person classes in school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On the days when students are not in school, they will be following up online with their teachers to the best extent possible,

Howell told the board that making the decision about proposing a hybrid model was not easy and took into account that Maine Center for Disease Control health restrictions limiting the number students on school buses to 26 and no more than 50 students in a group factored in this decision. Typically, about 60 students are transported aboard each bus for the trip to school.

“When the state announced its model for reopening schools, it was released prior to health considerations issued by the Maine CDC,” Howell said.   

On July 31, Maine’s Department of Education recommended that all school districts in the state could reopen for in-person instruction if health and safety guidelines were adhered to.  <

Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub to open in Windham

The owners of a popular Westbrook restaurant will open a second location in Windham in the fall. Dan Drouin, who operates the Stockhouse Restaurant & Sports Pub in Westbrook, hopes the new location will be open by sometime in October.

Drouin and his wife, Jennifer, will operate the new location under a slightly different name, and with a different slant. Instead of a sports pub theme, Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub is intended to highlight its location in the Lakes Region, having a little fun with the theme to create a “lake vibe,” Drouin said.

Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub will go into the space formerly occupied by Buck’s Naked BBQ, which closed in late May after indoor dining was delayed in Maine due to the pandemic. Drouin said he is leasing the space, with an agreement to purchase down the road. “It probably wouldn’t be an easy venture right now as a restaurant to purchase a building,” he said.

The new restaurant will employ between 25 and 30 people.  Drouin said that the current permit allows for 130 seats inside, though during COVID restrictions there will be less indoor seating.

“We’ll lose anything I can’t socially distance,” he said, estimating that they would end up with about 75 seats indoors.

According to Drouin, there are 20 seats outside on the deck and he is also asking for the permit to be extended to the front porch, which would offer approximately 20 additional outdoor seats.

He said if they can get on the agenda for the next Windham Town Council meeting on Sept. 8, they   Either way, he said, the restaurant should be open by Nov. 1 and he hopes to open early in October.

“I can’t think that we would not be open by then,” Drouin said.

Drouin has looked at other locations for a second restaurant in the past few years, he said. He chose the space in Windham because he liked the building and enjoys the community. Drouin lives on the Windham/Standish line off White’s Bridge Road. <

SEPTEMBER

Windham awards two retail marijuana licenses at special town council meeting

Capping a long application process and review, the Windham Town Council awarded two adult marijuana retail licenses at a special council meeting on Sept. 15.

Following a two-hour discussion and lengthy examination of seven different applications and a council vote to clarify the term “retail” as outlined in Windham’s marijuana ordinance, councilors scored each application based upon operational plan, security measures, safety, experience, product handling, any violations on record and other specific criteria.  The top two businesses scoring the highest, Paul’s Boutique and CannaRX Windham RSL, were then awarded provisional one-year retail licenses pending verification of the collection of sales taxes in other communities.

Before any scoring was unveiled, Councilor Clayton Haskell said he would abstain from voting or scoring applicants. 

Prior to scoring each application for the adult-use licenses, each applicant was given three minutes on Zoom to present their last-minute arguments for why they should be awarded a license by the council

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said that each application was well over 100 pages and that the review process was extensive and time consuming.

“Hours were spent reading through them,” Tibbetts said. “Councilors spent more than two days reading applications and I want the public to know that a tremendous amount of work and effort went into getting us to this point tonight.”

In October the license for Windham RSL CannaRX was called into question. During a public hearing, Councilors Jarrod Maxfield, David Nadeau, Nicholas Kalogerakis and David Douglass voted 4-0 for a finding of fact that without the submission of a master lease or sublease in the application of Windham RSL, the original vote on Sept. 15 was rescinded and the next highest finisher in their adult-use marijuana retail license scoring system, JAR Cannabis Co., should be awarded the license instead. <

Raymond Elementary School adds new outdoor classrooms 

Going back to school looks different this fall across the entire country. For Raymond Elementary School students, this year’s “back to school” means adjusting to a hybrid schedule of attending school two days a week, wearing face coverings, and utilizing three new outdoor classrooms.

In an email to parents in late August, Raymond Elementary School Principal Beth Peavey announced the creation of three beautiful outdoor classrooms along the school’s popular Frog Pond trail. 

Set along the banks of Frog Pond, these new outdoor classrooms feature semicircles of socially distanced wooden benches made from large tree stumps interspersed with maple saplings and granite boulders.

“It’s such a beautiful spot, and I’m such a firm believer that kids should be learning from experience and being outdoors,” said Raymond parent Kaitlin LaCasse, who spearheaded the movement toward creating an outdoor classroom at the school.

Well before COVID-19 entered our vocabulary, LaCasse attended a lecture by Richard Louv, journalist and author of the national bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Louv is now leading a national charge to get students back outdoors.

It’s so important for our whole wellbeing to be outside more,” LaCasse said. “And you can’t assume just because we’re in a rural area that kids are getting outside.”

LaCasse approached Raymond Elementary School in the fall of 2019 to ask about the possibility of constructing an outdoor classroom. As part of her research, LaCasse visited several outdoor classrooms across the state, sent a survey to the RES staff asking what teachers would like to see in an outdoor space, and met with the school board.

When the project was approved, local scout Brogan Danzig volunteered to build a free-standing outdoor classroom with a roof, floor, and benches as his Eagle Scout Project. <

Raymond seeks feedback as initial RSU 14 withdrawal proposal approved 

In May 2018, Raymond resident Teresa Sadak began circulating a petition among the town’s registered voters to begin a process to withdraw from RSU14. She collected 353 signatures and presented those signatures and the petition to the Raymond Select Board on June 19 of that same year. The select board voted to accept the request and move forward on the withdrawal effort at that time. 

In early September, the Maine Department of Education gave its initial approval to Raymond for its withdrawal plan, which now moves forward to a process of public hearings and workshops prior to a town referendum vote on the issue on the November ballot. 

“I have been very concerned about Raymond’s level of input and the lack of local control we have had regarding the school district’s decisions,” said Sadak, who is also a member of the Raymond Select Board. “When the new Windham Public Works Building was voted on two years ago and is now newly built, we as members of the RSU were not given a say on how that would increase Raymond’s school funding. Additionally, Jordan-Small has plenty of space to share with Windham students and the RSU is not making use of space available to them. Instead, they are placing portable buildings to address overcrowding in the Windham schools which increases tax revenue. These are my concerns and I think it is time to be self-sufficient, having control over our own schools.”

Sadak’s petition was the first step in a 22-step process required by the State of Maine’s Department of Education. All municipalities must adhere to this process as part of a withdrawal from a regional school unit or school administrative district.  

After about two years of meetings with direction from Educational Consultant, Dr. Mark Eastman and Town Attorney Dan Stockford, members of the RSU Withdrawal Committee are ready for step number 17. 

Under the proposed withdrawal plan, Raymond, which first consolidated with Windham schools in 2008, would form a new school board, hire a superintendent and administer Raymond Elementary School and Jordan-Small Middle School. Raymond students could choose the high school they want to attend if the new high school district is able to accept the new Raymond district’s tuition payment. Right now, a total of more than 80 percent of high school students in Raymond are attending Windham High School.      

The 18th step will take place during the Nov. 3 general election which will provide Raymond residents with the opportunity to vote for or against the RSU 14 withdrawal. < 

OCTOBER

Windham responds to community regarding Lowell Preserve and clarifies misunderstandings 

The Town of Windham Parks and Recreation Department hopes to correct the misperceptions that were the result of a Facebook post written on Wednesday, Oct. 7. In that post, the department was looking for information about who built a bridge over a small stream at Lowell Preserve.

If you were involved with constructing this bridge and/or attempting to create trails in Lowell Preserve, or if you have any information about those who were, please contact Windham Parks and Recreation,” is a portion of the post written.

The response from the community were many and often comprised of misapprehensions. They included a variety of concerns with more popular comments stating the department did not express gratitude for the person who built the bridge, or the supplies donated. But Linda Brooks, Director of Windham Parks and Recreation said they are always appreciative of any help they receive.

“We are most grateful for any assistance individuals or groups are willing to provide and will often provide supplies or materials for any larger projects that need to be accomplished,” Brooks said. “In the past few years, we have worked with several entities to assist us in maintaining or improving our trail network, including local scout groups, civic organizations, church groups, trail groups and trail enthusiasts. We are grateful to be working with Boy Scout Troop 51 on a Community Service project scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 17.”< 

Postal worker wraps up 35-year career in Windham

For nearly 35 years Kerry Dyer has worn the uniform of the U.S. Postal Service and during that span he estimates that he’s handled more than a million pieces of mail.

Dyer, 65, has spent all but about one month of his postal career working for the Windham Post Office and is a familiar face behind the counter, checking in packages for delivery and selling books of stamps to longtime residents and customers, but he has decided to retire and his last day on the job was Oct. 1.

His first day as a postal worker was Jan. 2, 1986 and Dyer, a resident of Standish, said he remembers it like it was yesterday.

“I knew people who worked here at the time and they told me about an opening,” he said. “I applied and got the job.”

After several months of processing and sorting mail, Dyer started as a substitute rural carrier and that led to a permanent position as a rural carrier delivering mail to much of the outlying areas of Windham for more than 10 years.

But after sustaining an injury, he returned to work at the Windham Post Office and was assigned to the front counter, where he has greeted thousands of customers through the years.

“I certainly will miss the people, serving the customers and most of all, my co-workers,” Dyer said.

The only time he worked anywhere else for the U.S. Postal Service other than in Windham was a month-long stint at the New Gloucester Post Office about five years ago.  He graduated from Bonny Eagle High School and attended the University of Maine at Orono before choosing to pursue a career as a postman.  

Married to his wife, Denise, and the father of two grown sons, Dyer said he has definite plans on how to spend his retirement.< 

Windham finds new life for repurposed town vehicles

The typical knock regarding municipalities in Maine is that they’re not often frugal stewards of public spending, yet the town of Windham aims to alter that perception with a program that repurposes older serviceable town vehicles.

An example of that frugality are two low-mileage Ford Explorers, a 2017 and a 2016, that had been used by the Windham Police Department that have been transferred for use by the Windham Assessors Office.

Instead of soliciting bids to purchase new vehicles for the town’s Assessors Office, Windham retained the older police vehicles and reassigned them for use by the assessing office staff, saving the taxpayers the expense of buying new vehicles for them. 

“We rotate vehicles through the departments as newer ones come on line,” said Barry A. Tibbetts, Windham Town Manager. “In the police department we usually rotate two new vehicles in per year and those coming off the front-line service 24/7 are repurposed to another department that may need a vehicle.”

Tibbetts said that the latest rotation saw two former police cars rewrapped with a new design scheme and then moved to the Windham Assessing Department in the past few weeks for continued use.

“The wrap for the vehicle is much less expensive than a new paint application,” Tibbetts said.

According to Tibbetts, the repurposed vehicle is clearly identified as a Windham Assessing vehicle for home and site inspections.

“Prior to this we often had staff indicating residents thought it was a police vehicle coming to visit,” he said. “This wrap on the vehicle allows for much better identification of staff in the assessing office.”

The Windham Assessor's Office is responsible for the valuation of all taxable property in Windham, both real estate and personal property. It is also a center of information for property owners, title companies, real estate brokers and appraisers, attorneys, and other departments and agencies in the community.

The Assessors’ Office maintains historical information as well as current data about properties such as ownership, deeds, inventories of land and structures, property characteristics, and town maps. The office also administers any property tax exemption programs enacted by the Maine Legislature such as veterans, blind, and homestead exemptions. <

NOVEMBER

Windham Historical Society relocates storied Old Grocery museum

Windham’s landmark Old Grocery museum has a new address. For the second time in its 182-plus year history, the wood frame structure, adorned with historic ornaments, one of Windham’s oldest commercial buildings, was plucked from its granite stone foundation on the southwest corner of route 202 and Windham Center Road and moved north about 1,000 feet, presumably to its last neighborhood inside the Windham Historical Society’s Village Green history park.

The process of transporting the 36-foot by 20-foot building involved the use of steel I-beams and wheels. “We literally built a trailer under (the building),” said Cole Watson, who coordinated the move. The procedure took about two hours with minimal interruption of traffic.

Preparations began weeks before the move. Builder Dave Johnson said logistics, permits and site work (including the frost wall at the Village Green site) seemed never-ending. He is credited by everyone involved with the move as performing with extraordinary foresight and workmanship. Fragile antiquities were packed and removed from the building; unbreakable items remained inside and moved with the building to the history park.

The move has been in the making for a long time. Windham Historical Society President Sue Simonson says traffic and congestion prompted the decision to relocate the building.

An attached shed, or annex, which was not part of the original structure, did not travel with the museum, but instead was razed several days ago due to its deteriorating condition. The annex had housed the town’s historic horse-drawn hearse (dating back to the late 19th century) which was moved to the Village Green. 

The cost of the building’s relocation, one of the most ambitious Windham Historical Society projects in recent history, exceeded $40,000. That was not an amount, according to Simonson, for which the non-profit could just write a check. It was the result of fundraising.

“One of our wonderful members, Dorothy Samuelson, came forward and offered to head the fundraising project,” Simonson said. “Her love and enthusiasm for history, the society and this building is just what we needed. She raised (the money) from generous individuals from our community.”

The vacant lot at Windham Center is owned by the historical society. Its Board of Directors has indicated no use for the space and will probably sell it.  <

Windham’s famed ‘Tuskegee Airman’ a genuine champion for equality

As a trailblazing member of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, Fred Williams of Windham wasn’t content to let racism stop him from achieving his dreams. As the first black attorney to ever practice law in Maine, a former Windham Town Council member, a Baptist minister and a law professor at Saint Joseph’s College, Williams continued to shatter stereotypes right up until his death last weekend at the age of 98.

Born in 1922, Williams dreamed of someday attending flight school and was the first member of his family to ever be issued a birth certificate. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps upon graduation from high school in New York City, but because of the enforced segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces at that time, Williams was assigned as a cadet in a new pilot training program for African Americans at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Nearly 1.000 black pilots and about 15,000 black air support personnel trained in the program and became known as the Tuskegee Airmen, the only black pilots to fly combat missions during World War II. They flew more than 15,000 individual missions in North Africa and Europe during the war, earning more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses for valor and paving the way for the eventual intergration of the U.S. military.    

"I wanted to be in a bomber, especially a B-17,” Williams told members of Windham’s American Legion Field-Allen Post and VFW Post 10643 during a memorable visit with local veterans at the Windham Veterans Center in 2017. “It was hell getting in, but we were proud.”

Williams told the audience how the Tuskegee Airmen never saw their race as an impediment or barrier to defending their nation in wartime.

Williams was recalled to military service for the Korean War and then returned to New York City once he was discharged, where he studied and earned degrees from the City College of New York and the New York Law School. He also worked as a U.S. Federal Treasury Department agent.

Moving to Maine, he passed the bar exam and in doing so, Williams became the first black lawyer ever in the state in 1969, beginning first as an attorney for Casco Bank and then going on to launch his own private practice. Later he served as the president of the Bar Association for the State of Maine.

Making his home for decades in Windham with his wife, Laura, and their four sons, he was elected to serve on the Windham Town Council in 1971 and also was a proud member of the Windham Lions Club, where he eventually served as a district governor for the Lions International organization.

Williams is survived by his four sons and their wives including Manuel (Jill), Fredrick, II (Roxanne), Keith (Arlene), and Kenneth Williams; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. His wife Laura passed away in 1988. <

Voters make preferences known during general election

Significant choices made by voters during the Nov. 3 general election will shape the direction of the Windham and Raymond communities for the near future.

Through in-person voting, mail-in and absentee balloting, area voters decided the fate of a special referendum in Raymond to withdraw from RSU 14 and chose elected officials to represent Windham and Raymond in the Maine Legislature, the Maine Senate, on the RSU 14 Windham School Board and picked two councilors to serve on the Windham Town Council.      

The Raymond referendum asking residents if they should withdraw from RSU 14 was defeated with 2,048 votes to 1,018 supporting the proposal.

The referendum was initiated over an ongoing concern from some Raymond residents regarding the town’s level of input and the lack of local control about the school district’s decisions and it was part of a 22-step process required by the State Department of Education to set up a new school district. But those opposed to the withdrawal said it would do more harm to students than good and the voters agreed by voting no on the referendum.

Voting for Maine House District 66, representing part of Raymond, part of Casco and part of Poland, incumbent Democrat Jessica Fay received 1,251 votes from Raymond residents to Republican Gregory Foster’s 1,060 votes. Overall, Fay won the seat with 2,884 votes to Gregory Foster’s 2,745 votes.

In Windham, Town Clerk Linda S. Morrell said results of Tuesday’s election are official.

Morrell said that in voting for Maine House District 24 representing part of Windham, incumbent Democrat Mark Bryant ran unopposed and received 4,638 votes, while incumbent Republican Patrick Corey also ran unopposed and retained his seat representing District 25 by picking up 4,334 votes.

In balloting for State Senate District 26 representing Baldwin, Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish and Windham, Democrat Bill Diamond received 7,426 votes in Windham to Republican Karen Lockwood’s 3,784 votes. Voters in Raymond cast 1,779 votes for Diamond to Lockwood’s 1,289 votes and overall, Diamond retained his seat in the Maine Senate.

Voters chose businessman Mark Morrison to serve a three-year term as the At-Large position on the Windham Town Council over former town councilor Robert Muir. Morrison received 5,521 votes to Muir’s 3,739 votes.

In the race for a three-year term representing Windham’s East District on the town council, Brett Jones received 5,102 votes to political newcomer Harrison Deah’s 3,621 voters.

Also elected during Tuesday’s voting were incumbents Kathyrn Brix and Pete Heansler to three-year terms on the RSU 14 Windham School Board. Brix received 6,864 votes and Heansler tallied 4,315 votes.

Voters also elected Christina Small of Windham to serve a one-year term on the RSU 14 Windham School Board. Small had been appointed to serve on the board earlier this year following the resignation of Dawn Dillon. She tallied 8,570 votes. < 

DECEMBER 

Windham delegation announces traffic signal delay for Route 202, Falmouth Road intersection

AUGUSTA – Windham’s legislative delegation has announced a delay of the installment of a traffic signal at the intersection of Route 202 and Falmouth Road in Windham, previously scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31.

The delay comes after a contractor installed inadequate components, which now must be replaced. The project’s new completion date is set for Feb. 1, 2021.

The intersection has been designated as a high-crash location by the Maine Department of Transportation. This means that over a three-year period, the intersection had eight or more crashes and a higher rate of crashes than similar locations across the state.

“I’m disappointed that there has been another delay, but it’s critical that the improvements we make to this intersection meet our high standards,” said Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham. “As senate chair of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, I know how critical it is that we have safe, working roadways. This traffic light will go a long way to ensuring the safe flow of traffic.”

State Rep Mark Bryant, D-Windham agreed.

“Although the delayed construction at the Windham intersection is unfortunate, it is a testament to the Department of Transportation’s commitment to quality work and dedication to keeping us all safe on the roads,” Bryant said. “I’m grateful for DOT’s thorough work and look forward to seeing the final product and continued modernization of Maine's traffic systems.” < 

Windham Chamber Singers adapt to digital holiday performance

It wasn’t easy to shift from performing their popular “An American Family Holiday” Christmas concert live to streaming a You Tube event, but the Windham Chamber Singers are pleased with the result.

 

In early October, ongoing pandemic restrictions Chamber Singers Director Dr. Richard Nickerson announced the change with the first performance available online Dec. 5.

 

To many in the community, "An American Family Holiday," is a traditional Windham Chamber Singers event that happens every year featuring various holiday songs and guest stars in the Windham High School auditorium. But the pandemic couldn’t stop that yearly tradition, it just led to the concert being performed digitally. And for this year, the concert was renamed "A Maine Family Holiday" to celebrate Maine's bicentennial celebration.

 

To pull it off, each student filmed their part separately, and then sent the file to Nickerson to splice them all together.

 

During the hour-long video, host Kim Block showcased the Windham Chamber Singers along with special guests John Cariani, Con Fullam, and our own U.S. Senator, Angus King. For musical accompaniments, the Chamber Singers were joined with Daniel Strange and his wife Ashley Liberty, Robyn Hurder and Clyde Alves, Travis James Humphrey, and some former WHS Chamber Singers that lent their voices to the concert. Even the beautiful dancers at Maine State Ballet were included making for a gorgeous show for us at home.

 

According to Nickerson, all around, it was an amazing performance and a wonderful job of everyone who was involved and added their talents and stories.


With the holiday concert serving as the Windham Chamber Singers only fundraiser for the whole year, things were a bit different with the introduction of an entirely free video on the internet. <

 

Windham draft of Open Space Master Plan unveiled 

A draft of the Windham Open Space Master Plan was completed and was made available on www.windhamopenspace.com for public comment.

 A series of videos that summarize the plan and three specific policy areas are now available on the website along with the draft plan.   

The plan’s Executive Summary says, “Windham is fortunate to have acquired over time, a large network of open space properties that have become significant assets to the community. This Open Space Master Plan highlights the importance of these assets to the community for both the recreational and environmental benefits, while also serving as a guide for the management and enhancement of the open space network in Windham.” 

According to Windham Planning Director Amanda L. Lessard, part of the motivation for the Open Space Master Plan was concern about preserving Windham’s rural places.  

“There was a lot of concern about development happening in rural areas…the plan focuses a bit on these rural protection areas and what the town should be doing in those areas,” she said. 

In June, Lessard discussed the specific importance of rural areas to Windham in general during an interview with The Windham Eagle newspaper.

“Rural character is central to Windham’s identity as a community. Being proactive about open space in the face of strong residential growth pressures will help preserve community character and ensure that Windham’s most important open spaces will remain available for future Windham residents,” she said.

Thinking about how to best manage and develop Windham’s current open spaces will add value for today’s residents, Lessard said. <