Friday, April 16, 2021

Young Windham actor and his father selected by George Clooney for roles in ‘The Tender Bar’

By Lorraine Glowczak

Windham actor Lincoln Rulman, 10, has
a speaking role in the film 'The Tender
Bar,' a coming of age drama directed by
George Clooney to be out in a few months.
COURTESY OF STEWART SMITH
PHOTOGRAPHY  
“Both your child and his father are considered for the classroom scenes in ‘The Tender Bar’ movie. This film is directed by George Clooney and he is handpicking each person.”

This is the message Sarah Adams Rulman of Windham received about two months ago from the casting crew regarding her son, Lincoln and her husband, Chris. It was only a few days later when she received the news that the son and father duo were selected by Clooney himself to play a role in the film.

Briefly, “The Tender Bar” is an American coming-of-age drama directed by Clooney and is an adaptation of the 2005 memoir of the same name by J. R. Moehringer. The film, starring Ben Affleck and Christopher Lloyd, will be released in the coming months.

“Lincoln and Chris were super excited to be in a scene with Christopher Lloyd,” Sarah said. “He is a childhood icon for Chris, and he was really excited to sit at the same table as him. There was another kiddo sitting at the table and Christopher Llyod asked him what he knew about time travel, and Chris said, ‘1.21 gigawatts,’ and Christopher pointed to him and said, ‘that’s right.’

“When they arrived on the set Lincoln noticed a man shooting hoops in the gym, and he said to Chris, ‘dad, that’s George Clooney’ and Chris didn’t believe him until he turned around and saw that it was.”

Although a first for his father, this is not the first time Lincoln, 10, a fifth grader attending Manchester School in Windham, was selected to play in well-known films. Lincoln, along with his sisters Gracie and Libby, has acted in the most recent film of “Little Women” starring Emma Stone and Meryl Streep. He has also performed in an Apple TV+ miniseries, “Defending Jacob” starring Chris Evans (Captain America) and Michelle Dockery (Mary Crawley of Downton Abbey). 

“In ‘The Tender Bar,’ Lincoln is in a scene where he asks the teacher for something,” Sarah said. “Hopefully that will be in the film, but you never know what they decide to keep.”

Lincoln shared with his mother his favorite moments and experiences of working on the set of Clooney’s latest film.

“His favorite moment was talking to George Clooney and seeing Christopher Lloyd,” Sarah said. “Lincoln was super excited that George Clooney came over to him in between takes and read something that Lincoln had written about baseball, and he asked him what position he played and if he was a righty or lefty. Oh! And, also the money! His least favorite part was the seven COVID tests that he had to take, although they got paid $100 per test!”

Sarah said that Lincoln is now a pro at taking COVID tests and an expert at “real life” acting.

“Lincoln said re-doing scenes can be really boring because it’s the same thing over and over again. He actually dropped a fork in one scene, and they had to redo it. The movie takes place in the 1970s and 1980s, so he thought the old cars and the old clothes were really cool! He told me has to wear these weird pants with lines in them. I laughed and told him they are called corduroys.”

Now that Lincoln has a few acting experiences under his belt, he provides a few bits of guidance for other youth who may want to get in the field or make a career in the performing arts.

“His advice to young actors is to be really good on set and be professional. Also, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a role, there is always another one,” he said.

When he is not acting, Lincoln is playing baseball, drawing and gaming. He also has just started modeling in his first photo shoot for LL Bean.

“He had a photo shoot last week for LL Bean and loved modeling,” Sarah said. “It was his first shoot and he loved that he could have fun and be himself. They had him dancing and being silly, something that is very different from being on a movie set.”

Although Lincoln seems to be doing well in the acting and modeling business, he is still a small-town boy who you will find riding his bike down to the lake to fish and swim with friends. He and his family are enjoying life as it comes and hold no expectations for the future.

“We all go with Lincoln on his endeavors and support him,” Sarah said. “You never know when this will all be over, so we are enjoying it and making the most of every opportunity. And those opportunities include everyday life experiences with family and friends.”  <

RSU 14 adds alternating Fridays to in-person instruction schedule

By Ed Pierce

Following a vote by the RSU 14 Board of Directors on
April 7, students will be returning to the classroom for
in-person instruction on alternating Fridays through the
end of the school year. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE 

When RSU 14 students return to the classroom on alternating Fridays following spring break, it will be another step on the path back to some resemblance of normalcy in their school routine disrupted by the pandemic.

Meeting on April 7, the RSU 14 Board of Directors voted to approve alternating Friday schedule starting April 30. Under the plan, students will remain in assigned cohorts and the school calendar will be updated to reflect the change.

Last August the district adopted a hybrid instructional model to ensure the safety, equity and accessibility for all Windham and Raymond students as COVID-19 cases spread throughout Maine. Since then, students have been 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 days when students are not in school, they have been expected to be following up online with their teachers to the best extent possible on Fridays.

In a letter to the community following the meeting, RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools Christopher Howell acknowledged concerns and opinions about how to proceed expressed by parents, staff and students in formulating the decision to add alternating Fridays to the schedule.

“We greatly appreciate the 375 individuals who attended the meeting, the 2,210 staff, parents, and students who submitted feedback, and the 78 individuals who submitted questions and comments following the April 1 meeting when each of the proposals to increase in-person instruction was reviewed and discussed,” Howell wrote. “The decision was not an easy one but was based on what the board felt was best for our students given the complexities of schedules, capacity when working within Maine CDC social distancing guidelines, and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in our communities.”

He wrote that the high level of participation and interest in the RSU 14 Board of Directors difficult decision serves to highlight the extraordinary investment everyone has in the school community.

“I am grateful for your feedback and support as we navigate this difficult school year and can assure you that I will continue to collaborate with district staff on behalf of every child in Windham and Raymond schools.”

For education statewide, Maine Gov. Janet Mills released an update earlier this month to its color-coded Health Advisory System that classifies counties’ relative risk of COVID-19 transmission to assist schools as they continue with their plans to deliver instruction and support students safely.

Mills said that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention continue to review evidence that indicates lower transmission of COVID-19 in schools compared to the general population. She pointed out that during March, the rate of new cases for school staff members or students is 30 per 10,000, or about 25 percent lower than a new case rate of 41 per 10,000 for the general population. 

A survey was sent out to all students, families, and staff on April 1 to gather information to help the RSU 14 board reach a consensus about how to proceed. It had been determined that if additional in-person instructional days were approved, building administrators would be directed to work with school staff to ensure appropriate social distancing guidelines continue to be met and that spaces are conducive to engaged learning. It also directs school administrators to ensure adequate staff coverage for all classrooms. 

In adding the alternating Friday schedule through the remainder of the school year and the resulting increase in in-person instructional days, Howell said that RSU 14 will continue to offer students a remote-only learning option if families do not feel comfortable sending their children for in-person lessons on Fridays.  

Students currently using remote learning are free to return to classroom instruction, but do not have to make the transition if their families wish to keep using the remote option through the end of the school year in June.  

Information on the RSU 14 website says that the school district will provide transportation for families who are unable to transport students to school on alternating Fridays.

 

Prior to the April 7 meeting, the RSU 14 Board of Directors reviewed several different options and proposals about adding in-person instructional days to the district schedule. The board said any increase in in-person instruction was in response to expressed community needs for children to return to schools for as much in-person instruction as possible while maintaining adherence to social distancing and health/safety guidelines, as well as the academic, social, and emotional needs of students.

 

“We understand that this has been an extraordinarily challenging year for all staff, students, administrators, and community members. These are difficult decisions. It is important that we maintain a focus on student needs and then respond to challenges that staff are facing as we collaboratively problem solve the myriad of issues that this year has presented,” a board statement read. “As more educators are vaccinated, school districts are examining possible schedule shifts to meet the needs of students and the community.

 

The RSU 14 Board of Directors has been kept abreast of building-level needs and challenges in response to COVID social distancing guidelines throughout the 2020-2021 school year,” the statement read. “Classroom spacing, furniture needs, social distancing protocols, instructional shifts, social emotional and academic planning, etc., are all being carefully examined and would be presented to the board for their input and consideration, as well. Every decision made by the RSU 14 Board of Directors is made following a thorough review of multiple perspectives.” <

Friday, April 9, 2021

Racial tolerance, acceptance objectives of Windham Middle School's Civil Rights Team

Dyan Pallozzi, an eighth-grader at Windham Middle School, 
helps install a 'Welcome' banner in the school's main hallway
while participating in a WMS Civil Rights Team activity.
SUBMITTED PHOTO 
By Ed Pierce

Windham Middle School Civil Rights Team students may be young, but it hasn’t stopped them from being engaged in the social justice movement and working to make their school and their community a more accepting and safer place for everyone.

The Civil Rights Team at WMS can trace its roots back to at least the early 2000s, under faculty advisors Bill Wescott and Eliza Adams and continues today under the guidance of JMG Specialist Fernando Hinojoso. More than 30 students participate in WMS Civil Rights Team activities, both in-person and remotely.

 

Team meetings are 30 minutes long and on Fridays via Zoom. They also meet Monday and Tuesday afternoons and Wednesdays and Thursday mornings in-person at the school.

Hinojoso said he believes that the Civil Rights Team is an essential activity at WMS for a number of reasons, including civic duty and workforce readiness.

 

“CRT students understand that the ongoing injustices in our country demand a civic duty from us: we must respond, however we can, to support those in our world who are victims of injustice by initiating conversations about the underlying issues perpetuating these inequalities,” Hinojoso said. “Employers are looking for applicants who are able to communicate effectively with diverse populations. We are failing our students by not providing opportunities to develop fluency with the various identities with whom the world will expect them to work with.”

 

The WMS Civil Rights Team engages in various activities focused on outreach, such as the creation of a 16-foot “Welcome” banner at thew school and installing a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mural with a quote to adorn the school’s main hallway.

 

“We are also in the process of finalizing various projects, including our school-wide observance of National Day of Silence on April 12 and April 13, a student-led protest for raising awareness about the bullying, harassment and erasure of LGBTQ youth in schools,” Hinojoso said.

WMS Principal Drew Patin said that CRT participants are making great strides in creating an atmosphere of acceptance and opening a dialogue about important issues facing students in 2021. 

“For me, it is all about ‘all are welcome here.’ All students should feel as though they belong to the school community and should never feel any differently than that based on our differences,” Patin said. “The Civil Rights Team works to fulfill this goal and promise through awareness, action, and support.”

Sixth-grader Ashlynn Cuthbert said that she wanted to be a part of the Civil Rights Team because she wanted to make a difference in the world that she thought was unfair.

“I want the Civil Rights Team to help students of all ages to acknowledge the problems that still exist today and help to prevent those problems from hurting them or others,” Cuthbert said. “Students are better equipped to make a difference by participating in the Civil Rights Team because the CRT provides resources that students might not find on their own, and it gives a community that can help you to find new and better ways to change the world. It gives students the chance to meet people that believe in the same things that you believe in, and those people can help you and give you even more strength than if you were doing it alone.”

Cuthbert says social justice should be on the minds of students at WMS because they are the next generation, and if we change doesn’t happen now, the years and years of tradition and unequal social justice will continue.

Maddy Beckwith, an eighth-grader, said that WMS students who join the Civil Rights Team get a better glance of the issues happening in school.

“I think social justice issues should be on the mind of students at WMS because if students aren't aware of them, then for example they could accidentally make a racist comment that affects one of their fellow classmates,” she said.

Seventh-graders Eva Schroeder and Cynthia Flaherty say they joined the Civil Rights Team to support equality for everyone.

Schroeder said she wants to stand up for people that can't do so for themselves.

“I think it's stupid to judge people based on the color of their skin. I think people are just looking for drama or someone to make fun of sometimes, and it's not right,” she said.

Flaherty said she’s optimistic the WMS Civil Rights Team can open some eyes and change minds.

“I would like to see them change the minds of the people that believe others are lower than them, and because I believe that everyone should be in a safe place that they know they won’t get bullied for,” she said. ”If things are still flawed now, then they will become worse over time; so if they fix it now it could better things.”

Sixth-graders Preston Smith and Ali Albair say they have each encountered racism in the community and that they hope groups such as the Civil Rights Team can educate everyone about the harm that racist acts and slurs cause to others.

“I joined to help every kid be proud of who they are,” Smith said. “My dad and I have both experienced racism first-hand and it’s really sad and mean and also enraging.”

Albair said that he wanted to participate in CRT activities to make people of different skin colors, gender preferences, gender identity, body size, disability and religion feel comfortable at Windham Middle School.

“As for social justice, everyone should have the same privileges, not based on their race, their gender preferences, or anything in between. If one person has the right do to something like take a train or go shopping other people should too,” Albair said. “I think that people should never use slurs, especially if its offending to people.” 

Hunter Gibson, an eighth-grader, said he has wanted to be a part of the Civil Right Team for as long as he can remember.

“I see them expanding greatly and then getting everyone to see each other as equals,” Gibson said. “It's a shame we are going in the right direction but not fast enough.”

Sixth-grader Moriah Layton said she joined the Civil Rights Team to help ensure that everyone feels safe in school.

“Kids can make a difference in the world,” she said. “They know what’s going on and can come up with ways to fix it.”

Hinojoso said he believes that the greatest obstacle facing America right now in the area of race and social justice is language.

“The American people do not have a shared narrative about our past and present, not to mention the language with which to discuss it,” he said. “When we lack the words in common with which to have the conversations we utterly need to have, we inevitably see division in our communities.”

He said he’s spoken to many who believe that racism ended with Martin Luther King Jr.’s voting rights marches, or others who dismiss the harassment of LGBTQ students in schools and that is why student groups such as the WMS Civil Rights Team are vital to the community.

“We believe that we can create a significant impact by simply educating our community about these issues and reinforcing the fact that they exist,” Hinojoso said. <

RSU 14 explores adding in-person instruction days for students

RSU 14 students, teachers, and staff will find out this week
if students in the district will return to in-person instruction
four or five days per week. Under the current hybrid plan, 
they are only attending in-person two days a week because
of the pandemic. The RSU 14 Board of Directors is expected
to make an announcement about it this week.
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE   
By Ed Pierce

Students in RSU 14 could soon be back in the classroom two or three additional days a week if school administrators and school board members approve a plan to return in-person instruction four days a week.

Last August, RSU 14 Schools Superintendent Christopher Howell recommended that the school district adopt a hybrid model for the start of the school year for students in Windham and Raymond. Since last September, RSU 14 students have been 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 days when students are not in school, they have been expected to be following up online with their teachers to the best extent possible.

He said that the foundation of the hybrid proposal was to ensure the safety, equity and accessibility for all Windham and Raymond students.

Along with students, the pandemic has been hard on families, teachers, school staff members and school custodians, who have been putting in long hours because of the associated additional cleaning requirements for schools as a result of COVID-19. School cafeteria workers have also been challenged to provide different scenarios for student lunches, ranging from eating in the classroom to finding larger spaces in the schools for lunchrooms to accommodate social distancing mandates.

Using the hybrid schools plan, Howell said many CDC social distancing mandates were met by reducing the number of students in RSU 14 schools daily.

If the district increases in-person instructional days, Howell said that RSU 14 also is planning to continue to offer students a remote-only learning option if families do not feel comfortable with the proposed in-person plan for the remainder of the school year.

Information posted on the RSU 14 website earlier this week said that parents would need to have children attend school following whatever schedule model is directed by the board.

 

The information says remote options are possible, however, it is important to understand that any additional remote requests will be set up with online software and not added to the current remote teams. Students currently using remote learning are free to return to classroom instruction, but do not have to make the transition if their families wish to keep using the remote option through the end of the school year.  

 

“We will work to ensure that all students’ needs are met,” the info reads. “The district will provide transportation for families who are unable to transport.”


A survey was sent out to all students, families, and staff on April 1 to gather information to help the RSU 14 board reach a consensus about how to proceed.

 

The website information also details that if additional in-person instructional days are approved for RSU 14 schools, building administrators will work with staff to ensure appropriate social distancing guidelines are met and that spaces are conducive to engaged learning. And it further explains that building administrators will work to ensure adequate staff coverage for all classrooms. 

 

Whether the proposal adopted by the board is for four days of in-person instruction or for five days, the web statement says teachers would have their duty-free lunch and prep time in any of the proposed options.

 

“We understand that this has been an extraordinarily challenging year for all: staff, students, administrators, and community members. These are difficult decisions. It is important that we maintain a focus on student needs and then respond to challenges that staff are facing as we collaboratively problem solve the myriad of issues that this year has presented,” the statement reads. “Building administrators will work with teachers on a plan to support the transition. Any hourly staff who are asked to work additional hours will be compensated accordingly.”  

 

It says that the proposed increase to in-person instruction at this time is in response to expressed community needs for children to return to schools for as much in-person instruction as possible while maintaining adherence to social distancing and health/safety guidelines, as well as academic, social, and emotional needs of students.

 

“As more educators are vaccinated, school districts are examining possible schedule shifts to meet the needs of students and the community,” the web statement reads. “The RSU 14 Board of Directors has been kept abreast of building-level needs and challenges in response to COVID social distancing guidelines throughout the 2020-2021 school year. The RSU 14 Administrative Team would provide necessary updates to the full Board of Directors in response to any of the proposed options. Classroom spacing, furniture needs, social distancing protocols, instructional shifts, social emotional and academic planning, etc. are all being carefully examined and would be presented to the board for their input and consideration, as well. Every decision made by the RSU 14 Board of Directors is made following a thorough review of multiple perspectives. The board appreciates the feedback they’ve received regarding the proposed options to increasing in-person instruction and is reviewing survey data, emails, and other communication/feedback very carefully in order to make a decision.”

 

The RSU 14 Board of Directors was scheduled to make a final determination about additional in-person instruction days during a meeting on Wednesday evening. 


This article will be updated when information becomes available. < 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Volunteers work to save bird refuge

Seymour's Bird Refuge in Cumberland has struggled
to make ends meet during the pandemic, but recently
has been energized by a GoFundMe initiative created
by a refuge volunteer. The effort has raised money to
help care for and re-home exotic birds through the fall.
COURTESY PHOTO  

By Elizabeth Richards

For more than 20 years, Seymour’s Bird Refuge in Cumberland has both cared for and re-homed birds, but in 2020, the pandemic almost forced the refuge to shut down. 

When the pandemic hit, the on-site bird supplies store that supports the refuge had to shift to curbside service only from March 2020 to July 2020.  Customers began ordering supplies online, diminishing the primary income stream for the refuge, said owner Andrea Tims.

Once they were able to reopen, she said, people were slow to return to the store.

Donna Gerardo, a longtime volunteer for the refuge, was compelled to do something to help.  She organized a GoFundMe page for the rescue, with an initial goal of raising $8000, which would have supported the refuge through the end of March.   


The $8,000 goal was what Tims told Gerardo she needed to pay taxes, order supplies for the store, and other basics just to keep the doors open, Gerardo said.

“I really thought that was pushing it,” she said. But when the fundraising page went live, “money started rolling in,” she said. “We got excited when we met our goal, then we doubled our goal. I want to make it to $20,000 now.”

By March 30, the page had raised $19,400.

“The more donations we receive, the longer the sanctuary can remain open,” Gerardo said.

With the extra funds, Gerardo said, Tims can plan ahead and take care of projects that have been let go, such as a new walkway for wheelchair access.

Tims’ mother started Seymour’s Bird Refuge in 2000.  When she was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, Tims stepped up to both care for her mother and care for the birds.

When her mother passed away in 2011, she took over the rescue “because we had so many, and where do you take them with this many birds?” she said.

Seymour’s is a true labor of love.

“I can’t afford to draw a paycheck and be able to feed the birds,” Tims said.  “Pretty much anything the store does goes right back into the shelter.”

Currently, Tims said, there are about 60 birds in the rescue facility, and she has 10 birds in her home as well.

Seymour’s is the only licensed bird rescue in Maine that adopts birds out. They were the only licensed facility in the state until Siesta Sanctuary in Harmony opened, but Siesta is a retirement home for parrots and does not re-home birds.

There are strict adoption guidelines, Gerardo said, to be sure that those adopting can take care of the bird they request.

Tims said often people come in looking for a parakeet or cockatiel but get distracted by the Macaws they see in the back.

“Tunnel vision sets in, but they don’t have the experience to handle a bird with 500 pounds of bite pressure on its beak,” she said. 

Birds are more difficult than cats or dogs to re-home, she said. 

“They want to be part of the flock, so if you’re on the phone they’re screaming louder. They’re just trying to join the conversation,” she said. “That’s what they would do in nature.”

The rescue is not set up as a non-profit, and Tims prefers not to do fundraising.

“We designed this business to be self-sustaining, so we didn’t have to put our hand out every time you turn around,” she said.

That’s why the impact of the pandemic was so difficult.

 “We are gaining a little bit of ground since the GoFundMe, but we’re not where we were,” Tims said. “The GoFundMe has definitely opened some eyes.”

A story that ran on News Center Maine has also brought some regulars back in, she said.

Tims said that with the current donations, she can keep Seymour’s open into the fall. 

“Once winter hits again and we’re buying fuel oil again, things are going to start really getting tight if we can’t get the foot traffic back where it was,” she said. 

Anyone wishing to help can search the GoFundMe site for Seymour’s Bird Refuge. Bird owners can help by visiting the store and purchasing supplies.  Tims also offers limited short-term boarding for birds when space allows.

For more information on Seymour’s Bird Refuge, visit https://www.seymoursbirdrefuge.com/. <

 

Town of Raymond's budget process in full swing

Proposal aims to keep taxes low, essential services intact

Members of Raymond's Budget-Finance Committee will meet
with members of the Raymond Board of Selectmen and the
town manager during a meeting to review and examine the
town's preliminary budget proposal on April 6. Raymond Town 
Manager Don Willard has submitted an initial budget of 
$17,299,207 for 2021-2022. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE   
By Ed Pierce

As the Town of Raymond’s budgetary process for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 continues to unfold, the focus remains squarely on holding spending in check while maintaining essential services for town residents.

Starting in March, the Raymond Board of Selectmen began preliminary discussions regarding the budget and will meet again with the Town Manager, Town Finance Director and members of the Raymond Budget-Finance Committee on April 6 to continue to come up with a proposal to offer to voters during the annual town meeting in June. Because of the pandemic, it is uncertain if voters will gather for the town meeting, but if not, like in 2020, voters could be asked to approve the budget by referendum.          

According to Raymond Town Manager Don Willard, certain goals and priorities guided town staff in formulating a budget proposal for the coming year.

“We want to maintain or lower the tax rate and continue the commitment to improve and maintain town roads,” Willard said. “We are aware that the town’s undesignated fund balance can be used within existing policy to keep taxes low and that all budget areas are on the table for discussion and review. Lastly, we are aiming for a core-service driven budget.”

Willard said Raymond’s municipal budgets have remained flat for the past few years and he expects that to be the case once more when a final proposal is agreed upon by the Raymond Select Board.

In a letter in February to the Raymond Board of Selectmen and the Raymond Budget-Finance Committee, Willard said a working draft shows only a 2.46 budget increase for 2021-2022 and that figure did not include contributions from the undesignated surplus fund balance.

“New property valuation growth continues to be strong,” Willard wrote in the letter. “The budget does factor an estimated $7.5 million increase in new taxable property valuation that will reduce the impact of any increased spending.”

Willard said several other factors that are beyond the control of the town when formulating the new town budget are the Cumberland County’s budget and the school’s budget. RSU 14 is expected to submit its 2021-2022 budget proposal later this spring. 

In opening the 2021-2022 budget discussion, the Raymond Board of Selectmen and Town Budget-Finance Committee are reviewing Willard’s initial proposal of $17,299,207.  Last year’s budget for Raymond was $18,148,036.

No major equipment purchases such as fire trucks are planned by the town in the coming year, Willard said.

The initial budget proposal under study includes $76,393 for Tassel Top Park, up from $50,195 from last year. Revenues for Tassel Top Park actually rose by 26 percent in the past year and some of the requested increase in funding could be used to hire a split position with the town’s public works department for a parks maintenance foreman.

The new budget proposal also includes additional funding for town election workers as the minimum wage rises; $3,500 to repair broken and leaning old headstones in the Raymond Village Cemetery, and $3,000 requested by the town clerk’s office to conserve and de-acidify some of the oldest town records written on parchment paper more than 250 years ago.

Selectmen and Budget-Finance Committee members could approve a budget proposal to continue to invest in fiber networking infrastructure to eliminate monthly costs of ISP connections for the Town of Raymond’s network and $7,500 to manage town videography services.

The Raymond Public Works Department is requesting $2,000 for road striping service and $50,000 for road paving while Raymond Fire-Rescue is requesting funding for a staffing study to help resolve manpower issues and attract new qualified firefighters and EMTs to the town.

The proposed budget also includes a contribution for the Lakes Region Explorer public transportation system and funding for regional animal control services along with Casco and Naples.

Town debt service from existing municipal bonds under the initial proposed budget remains unchanged from the 2020-2021 budget at $317,800. <       

Friday, March 26, 2021

State three-year highway work plan includes Windham-area projects

The Maine Department of Transportation will contribute $1.45
million to install adaptive traffic signals along Route 302 in
Windham starting at the Route 115 intersection and continuing
through Trails End Road. The signals detect changing traffic
patterns and will continuously distribute green-light time
equitably for all traffic movement, aiming to reduce congestion
by creating smoother traffic flow through the town.
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE   

By Ed Pierce

It’s been said that roads and bridges do not automatically upgrade or repair and rebuild themselves and that's why each year, state legislators collaborate with the Maine Department of Transportation to prioritize projects that make our commutes safer and smoother.

Maine DOT’s Three-Year Work Plan outlines the efforts and initiatives that the department intends to perform over the next three-year span. It is calendar year-based and includes all Maine DOT work activities across the state.

While projects and activities listed for Calendar Year 2021 have the most definite schedules and estimates, those for Calendar Years 2022 and 2023 may be more subject to change and depending upon available state funding.

Earlier this week State Representative Patrick Corey, a Republican representing Windham, announced that the Maine Department of Transportation’s Work Plan for Calendar Years 2021, 2022 and 2023 is available and includes specific highway improvement projects to be conducted in the community.

Statewide, the estimated value of work performed as outlined in the plan totals more than 2,180 individual work items with a total value of $2.71 billion. MDOT estimates that from 2021 to 2023, it will invest in more than 100 miles of highway construction and rehabilitation; 893 miles of pavement preservation; 2,175 miles of light capital paving for roads and highways; 222 safety and spot improvements; and 166 different bridge projects.

Corey said that the three-year MDOT Work Plan for Windham from 2021 to 2023 includes seven different projects totaling more than $2.5 million.

He said that this work includes numerous improvements to Route 302 in Windham such as rehabilitation and construction to the roundabout as well as safety improvements made possible through the municipal partnership initiative program.

“MDOT Work Plan projects will benefit our local communities in many ways,” Corey said in a press release. “I am pleased to see several MDOT projects scheduled for the next three years in our area. They will make our roads safer and benefit the local economy.” 

Among the planned MDOT projects Corey announced for Windham for 2021 are:

** Route 115. A project will be replacing joints, applying sealer to wearing surface, and repair abutment to the Narrows Bridge over Ditch Brook, located 260 feet west of Running Brook Road in Windham. The cost of this project is $150,000.

** William Knight Road. A specific planning and outreach project will examine replacement of Varney's Bridge over the Pleasant River located 0.44 of a mile northwest of Route 4. The cost of this project is $25,000.

** Falmouth Road. Crews will pave the roadway surface beginning 0.03 of a mile south of Stevens Road and extending south 0.79 of a mile to Route 202. The cost of this project is $32,000.

** Route 302. MDOT will join the Town of Windham in the Municipal Partnership Initiative Program and fund the installation of adaptive traffic signaling systems at various intersections. The adaptive signal control technology will feature the timing of red, yellow and green lights to accommodate changing traffic patterns and ease traffic congestion along Route 302. The main benefits of adaptive signal control technology over conventional signal systems currently in place are that it will be able to continuously distribute green-light time equitably for all traffic movement, improve travel time reliability by progressively moving vehicles through green lights, reduce congestion by creating smoother flow, and prolong the effectiveness of traffic signal timing. The adaptive signal project will begin at Route 115 and extend northwest 1.14 miles to Trails End Road. The cost of this project is $1.45 million.

** Route 302. MDOT will join the Planning Partnership Initiative Program to conduct a feasibility study for alleviating traffic congestion on the route through town. The project begins at Route 202 and extends north 6.32 miles through Windham. The cost of the project is $150,000.

Corey also announced two projects that are planned to take place in 2022:

** Route 302. Highway rehabilitation as state crews remove and replace the wearing course to reset the deterioration process of the highway surface. The project will begin 0.45 of a mile west of Outpost Drive and extend west 0.14 of a mile, including the roundabout intersection of Route 302 with Route 202. The cost of the highway rehabilitation project is $585,000.

** Route 302. Highway safety improvements will be made to the intersection of Route 302 and Albion Road. The total cost of this project is $120,000. <

Gofundme benefits beloved Manchester School teacher, husband

Beloved Manchester School fourth-grade
teacher Carol Priebe will accompany her
husband, Paul Priebe, as he receives a lung
transplant at the Cleveland Clinic in 
Cleveland, Ohio. Friends and supporters
of the couple raised more than $5,000
for their expenses through a gofundme
effort. SUBMITTED PHOTO
By Daniel Gray

Have you ever had a teacher that made a huge positive impact on you or a loved one? Teachers are an important role in a child's developmental stages in life, not only for the fact that they teach our kids the knowledge they need, but because they can teach beyond that.

 

Teachers can help develop good moral stand points as well and lessons that stick with us for our entire lives. We need teachers and, sometimes, they need us as well.

Carol Priebe has taught fourth grade at Manchester School in Windham since 2001, and is one of many amazing teachers in the RSU 14 District. She treats her students as if they were her own children and puts her best effort forward when it comes to lessons.

Despite this, Carol has been facing some family medical issues since late 2018. Her husband of eight years, Paul Priebe, has been diagnosed with not one, but three different lung diseases, scleroderma, sarcoidosis, and Raynaud’s disease, a rare trio to be happening all at once.

Carol talks further about the rarity of the diseases as well as what she and her husband went through briefly.

"The doctors said there are only 22 people on Earth that have these same onset diseases at the exact same time,” Priebe said. “You'll treat one symptom for one disease, then the next will pop up from another. In October of 2018, it was almost as if his body said, 'I'm done'."

The last couple of years have not been treating them well either. Carol still teaches in person and online all through 2020 and so far through 2021 but was so nervous during a viral pandemic affecting the lungs. The two have gotten the wonderful news that Paul will be receiving a lung transplant later this month but that would require them going all the way to The Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio for it.

"The parents and the students have been so considerate during these times and completely understand what we've been going through. They have been wonderful during this process of frequent phone calls and some days when I suddenly have to drop a hat to go to a doctor’s appointment for Paul."

One parent in particular said that she was especially understanding of their situation.

When Melissa Carver-Emmons received an email that Carol Priebe would be leaving for her husband's lung transplant, she was full of emotions and couldn't stop thinking of all the troubles they had been through.

"It's obvious that she loves her husband, job, and students and I just felt drawn to help in some small way." Emmons explained, "I put myself in her shoes and knew I would do the same without hesitation but couldn't imagine the emotion around- not only his upcoming high-risk transplant, leaving all the things that you love and that are familiar for the upcoming unknown."

What better way to help than through monetary support? Emmons got to work, setting up a donation pool with a small goal of $5,000. The money would go toward Carol and Paul for anything they needed, whether it be gas, treatments, or just a comfort meal. Anything they could need during this new journey of theirs. She shared the gofundme online and within three days, it had reached its goal.

The donations had eventually brought their way around and, soon enough, the Priebes were notified of what was going on. Carol Priebe said she was utterly surprised upon hearing about the donations.

"A close friend of mine called me to tell me about all these donations. I was so shocked that I just started crying,” she said. “It was so incredible, and I couldn't thank everyone enough for helping me and Paul."

One of 80 donators, Stephanie Lombard, notes just how much Carol means to her family and the community, but along with how important it is to stick with family in the tougher times.

"Right away, you could tell how dedicated she is to her students. She always took the time to teach her students in a way that made learning fun and enjoyable. When I heard the news about her husband, I knew right away I needed to help in any way I could. She is truly a loss to the school department and her students while she takes some much needed time away to be with her husband."

On the behalf of Carol and Paul Priebe, they said they would like to take a moment to just appreciate and send their love out to the people who sent them kind wishes, donated to the gofundme, or even had them in their thoughts. <

Friday, March 19, 2021

Windham budget proposal works toward council vote

The Windham Town Council will receive a proposed budget
for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 of $35,115,270 during a scheduled
meeting on April 6. The budget amount is up slightly from
2020-2021's budget of $35,048,303, yet the proposed mil
rate of 4.4 is the same as last year. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
Town could create new ballfields at Manchester School location

By Ed Pierce

Windham has moved a step closer to formulating a town budget for the next fiscal year following a review of proposed expenditures and funding during a town finance committee meeting on Tuesday evening.

On Zoom, Windham Finance Committee members reviewed and discussed the proposed 2021-2022 budget with the town manager and department heads prior to presenting the proposal to the town council at an upcoming meeting.

Windham Town Councilors are expected to take up the proposed budget in April and make whatever adjustments are required before residents vote on the budget at the annual town meeting on June 12.

During this review, Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told finance committee members that the budget contains funding to create two new ballfields, one for softball, one for baseball and another separate recreational field on unused property behind Manchester School.

Tibbetts said that he’s held discussions with RSU 14 Schools Superintendent Christopher Howell about developing the site, which is adjacent to several existing baseball fields there used by the Windham Softball Association and Windham Little League. Clearing and developing the wooded area would take more than a year and would also lead to the creation of a road that would connect Route 302 and Route 115.

“These new fields would be funded by town impact fees and debt retirement,” Tibbetts said. “There will be no changes to the mil rate in doing this.”

In addition to that project, Tibbetts said the budget proposal also includes funding to expand the Lowell Preserve parking lot.

“We can absorb both of these projects with debt retirement and some impact fees,” he said.

Windham Parks and Recreation Director Linda Brooks said because of COVID, the past year has been a significant challenge as more area residents discovered town parks and trails as a great way to get outdoors and have fun during the pandemic.

“We really brought forward new and unique ways for recreation,” Brooks told the committee members. “More people are using the trails and parks for outdoor activities than ever before. As we move forward in the next fiscal year, we’ve had to decide what new programs to offer and what programs can be sustained.”

Brooks said that because more people are now familiar with Windham’s trails system, she expects trail usage to be even busier in the year ahead.

Brooks was one of several Windham department leaders to present ideas and discuss funding requests and proposals during the Finance Committee meeting. Departments presenting budget proposals at this meeting included Fire and Rescue, Police, Communications, and Public Works.

At a previous Finance Committee meeting on March 10, departments presenting budget requests and proposals included the Town Clerk’s Office, Assessing, Code Enforcement, Planning, Windham Public Library and the Windham Economic Development Corporation.

During Tuesday’s presentations, Tibbetts revealed his list of budget proposal adjustments.

Some of that proposed funding includes $242,673 for Parks and Recreation; $86,729 for Parks and Trails; $12,250 for SummerFest; $2,426,818 for Fire/Rescue, water hydrants and fire/rescue vehicle maintenance; $2,730,346 for Police with $43,104 for Animal Control, and $100,660 for police vehicle maintenance.

Other proposed 2021-2022 funding discussed at Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting includes $445,153 for Communications; $842,760 for highway maintenance; $48,000 for traffic safety devices and equipment; $209,000 for traffic lights and signals; $45,000 for winter highway sand; $129,986 for snow removal; $598,771 for building maintenance and $98,581 for grounds maintenance. The proposed budget also includes $540,399 for vehicle maintenance and fuel costs and $277,250 for waste disposal.

Tibbetts said this budget’s goal is to maintain the services and programs of the town while implementing capital improvements to improve the community.

“In the proposed budget 2021-2022, we are looking to accomplish several objectives; hold the budget increase due to the COVID impacts on residents and businesses, continue with the paving and equipment replacement programs, develop recreational playing fields and playground while expanding parking at Lowell,” Tibbetts said. “The first item is to hold or limit any increases in the budget to the minimum based on the COVID impact to residents and businesses. The municipal budget increase is at 0.33 percent, or flat or no increase to the mil rate.” 

According to Tibbetts, Windham does have some retiring debt from leases and bonds and needs to use that borrowing capacity to address a number of paving projects around the town which were delayed last year.  He said this will also result in no impact to the mil rate.

“We need to address a few personnel positions which will provide better service and position the town for the future,” he said. “Those positions include Fire/Rescue, Assistant Town Manger and additional code enforcement staff. We have several parks projects which will address parking at Lowell field, provide three new fields at Manchester School and we are working with the RSU on this plan, continued improvements at the Community Park and a playground at Lowell.”

Without significant changes made before being discussed and voted on by the Windham Town Council, Tibbetts will propose a budget of $35,115,270 to councilors on April 6. That amount is up marginally from 2020-2021’s budget of $35,048,303 with the mil rate of 4.4 that is  unchanged from last year’s budget.

The RSU 14 school budget has yet to be determined. <

Windham student racks up thousands of hours of reading time

Elijah 'Eli' Souther, a third-grader at
Windham Primary School, has already
spent more than 12,585 hours reading
during this school year. He is among
more than 700 WPS student that are
participating in the school's reading 
incentive program.
COURTESY PHOTO
By Ed Pierce

The intention of the reading incentive program at Windham Primary School is to motivate children to want to read so they will practice reading independently and become fluent readers while launching a lifetime of reading enjoyment.

Currently about 700 WPS students are participating in the school’s “Rocking in our Read Shoes – Pete the Cat’s 2020-2021 WPS Reading Incentive Program.” 

“This year we are presenting an overall theme of Pete the Cat. There are many books and series of books that the students may choose to read. Anything from Clifford to Harry Potter that our learners can read at home independently or in a 1:1 situation counts toward the program,” said Elizabeth Smith, a second-grade WPS teacher who runs the program.

Smith said one of the program’s goals is to have student participants reach 5,000 minutes of reading by the end of the school year and that mark has already been surpassed and shattered by WPS third-grader Elijah “Eli” Souther, who’s already read more than 12,585 minutes since beginning the school year.

“Students earn incentives such as special membership cards, stickers, pencils, a postcard from WPS Principal Dr. Kyle Rhoads sent through the mail, and student pictures posted on the school website,” Smith said. “Of course, they also benefit academically from reading at home. Reading at home in addition to at school, supports cognitive development, improves language skills, increases concentration and discipline, improves imagination and creativity, and cultivates a lifelong love of reading.”

Souther’s third-grade teacher, Amanda Rogers, said that his achievement is exceptional.

“Elijah Souther, or as he prefers to be called Eli, is a fantastic student. He thirsts for knowledge and often finds the answers to his questions in books. While many third-grade boys enjoy playing Minecraft or Fortnite, Eli likes to fight monsters, try new things and be transported to faraway lands, through books,” Rogers said. “He is currently reading the Lord of the Ring series. Through all this reading he has increased his vocabulary, the ability to understand complex characters, and made him a stronger writer as well.”

Rogers says she thinks the main reason Souther reads is for the pure enjoyment of it.

“When Eli is not reading, he enjoys going on hikes, riding his bike or hanging out with his dog, Jax,” she said. “So maybe his extra hours of reading are due to the cold weather, however I don't think so. When the spring and summer comes, you just find him under a tree reading a new book.”

Books for the reading incentive program come from the school’s book room, along with selection from the school library.

Teachers get to know their students well, and that enables them to become familiar with each child’s strengths and interests and it helps them to assist students in selecting books they will enjoy reading themselves. And reading books is a great way to develop students’ fluency and comprehension too.

“The program is used the encourage reading at home. Whether the students are reading alone, or with someone,” Smith said. “With the hybrid model, this year especially, it is so important to encourage the learning to continue at home. We know how challenging it is for families so if just adding reading to their routine is all they can manage, it still greatly benefits their learner.”

Whether in or out of the classroom during the pandemic, reading has been shown to be the most effective way to keep students engaged and focused during an uncertain time. It stimulates their minds and broadens their curiosity about the world while aiding in the continued development of vital and critical thinking, encouraging creativity and boosting comprehension.

The program also helps students like Souther develop resilience and adaptability, overcome adversity, and show flexibility as students like him encounter school and educational activities adjusted as a result of the pandemic. <