Friday, June 16, 2017

Military and donors gather to open the new dining facility at Camp William Hinds in Raymond By Michelle Libby

Using the scissors from a special Pine Tree Council camp’s pocket knife, invited guests, donors and members of the military cut a red, white and blue ribbon to officially open the new Camp William Hinds dining facility. 
 
“We have the most beautiful outdoor learning center in the country,” said Scout Executive Eric Tarbox. 

Four years into the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) project, developments at all four of the Pine Tree Council Boy Scout camps (Raymond, Belgrade, Sabattus and Acton) have been completed or are almost complete. There are still projects on the schedule however the dining facility in Raymond is by far the largest. The over 21,000 square foot building provides room for 500 people at a time, and the walk out basement has classrooms used by the RSU14 Katahdin School during the school year and houses the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) program during the summer. 

“We look forward to staying here until it no longer makes sense,” said Katahdin School principal Rich Meserve. 
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IRT started back during the Clinton “Rebuild America” days. The military was tasked with “finding innovative ways to help the US by giving them real world opportunities servicing the communities we serve,” said Chief Master Sergeant Todd Jones. Having the IRT program in communities gives people, who don’t have exposure to the military or the IRT, a chance to experience military life, he said. 

Mid-April the military began the buildup in Raymond, putting up a tent city to be ready when the troops were deployed on April 22. This year over 250 military members from the Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and United States Marine Corps have worked on projects at the camps. This year alone the military is completing work on the dining facility, made road improvements, did ditch grading, upgraded a staff cabin with plumbing and electrical, did camp maintenance and will complete a fire pond that will benefit Camp Hinds, Kingsley Pines and all homes on Plains Road. 

“We’ll be hitting it hard moving some dirt,” said Jones, discussing the fire pond work. The pond, which was breached in 2005 during the Patriot’s Day Storm, will be six to eight feet deep when completed and will have a fire hydrant on Plains Road. 

“This is a win/win for the community and the military members,” said Jones. 

On the camp property, the Scout Community has stepped in to help fill in any gaps not provided by the military. 

“This is truly a civilian/military experience,” said Tarbox. The work has all been done by service members who serve on a “brand new crew every two weeks. The crew has never met or worked together and all of this happened over a period of years,” he added. The troops have come from Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Royal Marines from England and Maine for their two weeks a year training in their field of service. 

“Over $5 million of construction value was added to our camps,” said Tarbox.

The new dining hall has a new kitchen thanks to the “scrappiness and pluck of the Messers”, who saved ovens, serving lines and refrigerators from UNUM, when that company remodeled years ago.

President of Pine Tree Council, Jeff Messer, stored the items in trailers until they were needed, on the thought that someday there would be a new dining hall, Tarbox told the group. 

“I’m very impressed with what they’ve done here with the resources they’ve been given,” said Air Force Chief Master Sergeant, Cathy Dugas, the highest ranking Air Force member in attendance. It was her first time at Camp Hinds. 

The driving force behind the IRT project has been past Pine Tree Council President and Eagle Scout, Horace Horton. 

“When we started the IRT there was nothing on this site. We’re just so proud,” Horton told the guests. “What a transformation this has made.” 

Each family and business that was a major contributor to the project was recognized during the ceremony; from the design work and construction material donations, to the old dining hall and the naming of the health lodge, to the Ellen K. Stinston Health Lodge. 

“I was a little taken a back,” said former school nurse Ellen Stinston, who the health lodge was named for. “It was totally unexpected. I suggested helping the health lodge. It didn’t know it would be named after me. I probably would never have done it if I’d known.” 

https://www.egcu.org/militaryThe ceremonies renaming other properties at Camp Hinds will take place on June 24 starting at noon. Pine Tree Council Vice President of Properties, Walt Stinson has his signature on many projects in the council. Bill and Jackie Thornton gave money for the STEAM center and so many more contributed to the projects. From Internet hardware to electrical design and window donations, to monetary donations, the project will serve a large number of scouts for many, many years. 

The one person holding everything together for the council is camp ranger Scott Martin, who has worked with the IRT, collaborated with other property owners and has done much of the finish work on the various projects at camp. 

With a strategic vision the key players in the projects, especially the dining facility have upgraded Camp Hinds to a destination summer camp, where scouts from all over the region and even the world come to experience Maine. This year 40 scouts from Egypt will attend Camp Hinds, adding to the 10.6 percent increase in Boy Scouts and Venture Scouts attending camp this summer. 

“It’s amazing all of the contributions and coordination,” said former scout and retired Navy man Tim Gallant, Maine Staff Assistant to Rep. Bruce Poliquin. “This shows that Scouting is alive and well. All these Scoutmasters are unbelievably amazing,” he added. 

For more information about Pine Tree Council, visit www.PineTree BSA.org or to find out more about the IRT, visit IRT.Defense.Gov.

A team of fifth-graders from Jordan Small Middle School heads to Washington DC by Elizabeth Richards

Five fifth-graders, and their teacher, will receive the red carpet treatment in Washington DC next week. They will be recognized at an awards assembly on Capitol Hill for finishing eighth in the country in the SIFMA Foundation’s 14th Annual Stock Market Game- Capitol Hill Challenge (CHC). 
 
The Capitol Hill Challenge is one element of the SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game, a curriculum-based program where student teams, in grades 4-12, learn about the global marketplace, long-term saving and investing fundamentals by using a hypothetical brokerage account. 

A SIFMA press release described the program as follows: “This 14-week challenge organizes teams of middle and high school students by congressional district and state and teaches the importance of saving and investing, while simultaneously promoting a better understanding of our government. Teams invest a hypothetical $100,000 in listed stocks, bonds, and mutual funds and learn the value of the capital markets as they work together to maximize the return of their portfolios.”

Jordan Small Middle School (JSMS) teacher Jack Fitch has led students in the challenge since it began in 2004. Before now, the school’s best team landed in fourteenth place, narrowly missing the top ten and a trip to Washington DC. “This year, this group of boys got together and they played the game great,” he said. “It’s a down market over the last three months, and they outperformed the market with their stock choices.” The JSMS team is the only team from New England and the only middle school team to make the top ten. 

In previous years, only two teams from Maine have made it to Washington DC. Fitch said their team has talked with Jim Ford from the SIFMA Foundation, who was the coach for the Oak Hill teams who made it to the top ten. He has filled them in on what to expect – and that is the “red carpet treatment,” Fitch said. While they won’t have their full itinerary until they reach Washington DC, they know they will meet Chellie Pingree, who was their congressional partner for the game, on the first day. They hope to also meet Angus King while they are there. The awards ceremony is on the afternoon of June 21.

At the ceremony, the boys will be able to hear ideas from other teams and share their own ideas. While only the top three teams speak at the luncheon, the JSMS team will be interviewed several times over the course of the three days. 

The JSMS team is made up of Lucas Oldershaw, Brian Mank, Brandon Mank, Jacob Goslant, and Noah Mains. The boys formed their own team after participating in other stock market games throughout the year. Oldershaw said that he came in first in the year-long game, and Mains came in first in the fall. “We wanted to put this team together because we were all doing really good in our other ones,” he said.

http://www.windhampowersports.com/The three-month CHC began in February. Fitch said the boys worked well as a team, researching and discussing possible stocks to buy or sell. Oldershaw handled the actual buying and selling in the game. Fitch said the team studied their stocks’ 52-week highs and lows, tried to buy low and sell high, and sometimes picked stocks he would not have chosen. “It’s a three-month game, and so they don’t diversify a portfolio a lot. They put a lot of shares into one stock, and if a stock goes up they make a lot of money.”  

The boys said they didn’t argue much while making decisions, but that didn’t mean there were no challenges in the process. One of those challenges was when they lost money. Brian Mank said, “That was a real difficulty. Sometimes, the stocks just slipped right under our nose.”  

Another challenge, according to Brandon Mank, was getting the whole group to decide whether to buy or sell a stock. Mains said that to make decisions, the group got together to talk about things.    “If three of us wanted it, we would do it,” added Oldershaw.

Fitch said the first 15 minutes of each math class were spent on the challenge. As the end of the challenge drew near, and they saw themselves rising in the standings, the anticipation built and they spent more time monitoring their stocks. Fitch said that three days before the challenge was over, the boys made $7,000 in one day, which put them in the top ten.

When asked what they were most looking forward to as they made the trip, the boys showed enthusiasm for the food, the plane ride, the limousine, and seeing the White House. “I’m looking forward to meeting all of Maine’s representatives and maybe, hopefully, the President,” said Brian Mank.

Goslant echoed his thoughts. “I’m looking forward to the food, going to the White House, and I’m hopeful I can see the president,” he said.

Brandon Mank said he thinks the trip will be a blast. “It’s going to be really exciting because we’re the first fifth-grade and the first people from Jordan Small Middle School to go,” he said. None of the boys have been to Washington DC before.

When asked how it felt to be the number eighth team in the country, Brian Mank said, “Being in eighth is a real honor, I never thought we would make it this far.”

Friday, June 9, 2017

An ailing dog and a box of cough drops credited with the founding of landmark Patsy’s store By Walter Lunt

"Windham Then and Now” - The fifth in a series of historical topics about Windham’s unique history and heritage

Patsy’s, once a fixture in South Windham, was the consummate neighborhood corner store that offered tasty food and good fellowship for more than 50 years; a destination known for its zesty Italian sandwiches. 

Pasqualee Miele at work in Patsy's Store in the 1950's
Located on the corner of Depot and Main Streets, Patsy’s came to be in 1938. Pasquale and Josephine Miele moved their family from Needham, Massachusetts to Windham, Maine under the most unusual of circumstances. Their son, Bob, who took over proprietorship of Patsy’s from his father in 1958, remembers the story of its founding: a tale involving a sick dog and cough drops. More on that later.

Born in Elena, Italy in 1887, Pasquale Miele emigrated to the United States in 1902. Unschooled but afflicted with a strong entrepreneurial and  tenacious spirit, the young man of just 15 years, set out to do what most new citizens of Italian heritage did best: own and run a store featuring homeland cuisine. Pasquale arrived under the sponsorship of an uncle and soon taught himself to read and write. 

Later, settled with a home and business in Needham, Massachusetts, family members would remember Pasquale’s mantra: “Education is everything.” Copies of Country Gentleman and National Geographic were all around the house, along with numerous seed catalogs.

Ambitious and smart, Pasquale opened a spacious country store named Home Market in Needham. It was the thriving 1920s. Business grew and expansion included the acquisition of five covered Model-T delivery trucks.

Then, financial collapse. The stock market crash of ’29 brought severe hardship. The charitable Pasquale, who had extended credit to hundreds of his customers, found he could not survive the aftermath of Black Tuesday. Son Bob, then 10 years old, remembers riding in the old delivery truck with his dad, depositing bills in customers’ mail boxes. By 1932, under the crushing load of $22,000 credit debt, Home Market closed. Pasquale went to work managing a competing store for the next six years; which brings us to the dog and the cough drops.
 
http://www.pongratzlaw.com/In 1938, the Miele’s were in Raymond, Maine visiting relatives whose dog had fallen ill. At that time of year most local veterinarians were tending animals at county fairs, so Fido was taken to Cornish for treatment. On the return trip, Pasquale’s throat became sore and dry. He requested a stop at store in Standish for cough drops. It was there, to everyone’s surprise, he met his wife’s brother who he hadn’t seen in many years. Uncle Sully, it seems, owned stores in Standish and South Windham. The latter was for sale, and the rest, as they say, is history.

By later that same year, the Miele’s were the proud proprietors of South Windham Grocery Store. Pasquale had taken up where he’d left off six years earlier in Needham, Massachusetts.

The Miele’s rented the “Weeks House” on the corner of Webber (now Alweber) and Highland Cliff Roads in Windham for $4.00 a week (see: House for Sale, some disassembly required - The Windham Eagle, Oct. 9, 2015).

Pasquale and Josephine’s store prospered with the help of the family, brothers Ralph and Bob and daughter Jean. When Bob returned from the war in 1945 he suggested the name of the store be changed to Patsy’s, the Italian nick-name for Pasquale. His father rejected the idea but Bob persisted.
In the presence of his father, Bob quizzed store patrons, “What do you say when you’re coming to
this store? I’m going to South Windham Grocery Store?” 

“No,” they would all reply, “I just say I’m going’ to Patsy’s.”

Now: in honor of Patsy's
Soon, a new sign went up at the familiar corner store near the mills in South Windham: Patsy’s.
Also around this time, Pasquale and Josephine could realize their long held dream of home ownership. They would purchase a 1794 cape on River Road, near the store, that was once the home of Thomas Smith, son of Windham’s (Parson) Peter Thatcher Smith. It remains in the family to this day.

Upon Pasqualee’s retirement in 1958, Bob and wife Alys took over the reins of Patsy’s store. Old timers and baby boomers soon came to associate Patsy’s with Bob’s newest creation, the fresh and tasty Italian sandwich - many of the ingredients originating from the large garden at the River Road farm.

Jean still lives at the family homestead. She and Bob reminisced about the old neighborhood.
They and longtime resident Dave Tobin observed, “We never locked our doors.”
Neighborhood patrons and workers from the nearby mills and reformatory (correctional center) were like family.

“They were an unbelievably diverse group,” said Jean. “Russian, Czechoslovakian, several Jewish families, Italian, Irish and so many others. Country [of origin] never mattered - they were people - wonderful friends, and we supported each other. [I was just a kid and] It was the greatest upbringing you could have.”

By the mid-1970s the mills had closed. Much of the village fell into disrepair. Patsy’s closed in 1978. New owners operated the store into the early 1990s, when the building was converted into apartments. Declared unsafe and torn down around 2015, the deteriorating structure was replaced by a 4-unit apartment building, which opened to occupants last November. Builder Jim Cummings commemorated the historic spot with a new sign: Patsy’s Corner.

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“It was a very good thing for him to do,” said Bob Miele, “I was very pleased. I went right down there and took a picture.” Sister Jean Phillips called the sign a heartwarming gesture.

Long before the demise of Patsy’s and other public places in South Windham, the economic engines that once ran on manufacturing had turned over to tourism. The gateway and the “new Main Street” would be North Windham.

Today, any reference to South Windham is usually couched in terms of revitalization. It’s no longer the mills, diverse businesses, patriotic parades, or Patsy’s.

Raymond Village Library offers third Biennial Garden Tour in late June by Elizabeth Richards


On Saturday, June 24, eight private gardens in Raymond will be open to visitors on a self-guided tour as part of the Raymond Garden Tour, a fundraiser held every other year for the Raymond Village Library. Garden designers will be on hand to talk with gardening enthusiasts about their creative process in cultivating the inviting spaces. The drive between farms showcases the rural countryside and scenic waterfronts of Raymond. 
 
Elissa Gifford, who helps organize the tour and will open her own garden to the public this year, said that different gardens are featured on each tour to allow guests to experience a new array each time. 

Though gardeners generally agree that no garden is ever finished, Gifford said, participating in the tour provides a goal with a deadline by which to complete and implement their gardening ideas. “My garden has evolved to the point where we can confidently invite visitors believing they will enjoy the experience. Yes, there are unfinished areas, weeds here and there, and things needing pruning or deadheading but that’s the everyday reality of an ornamental garden,” Gifford said.

Mulberry Farms, a certified organic vegetable garden owned by Frank and Deb Pecararo, will also be featured on the tour. The Pecararos purchased the property in 2014 and have been renovating ever since, including rebuilding the farmhouse and putting landscaping in place.   

In 2015, said Deb, the farm operation began on a cash only basis with a couple of tables under a canopy and limited hours during fair weather. They began with some perennial produce: strawberries; blueberries; raspberries; fruit trees; and asparagus, as well as some annual crops. 

Since then, they have built a permanent farm stand, and the perennial and annual plantings have expanded each year.

View of Mulberry Farms
History is important at Mulberry Farms. The house has been rebuilt to look like the original house from the 1700s. A stone wall built from the granite that was the foundation of the old house is incorporated into the landscaping, and plant varieties that have been used around farm houses for generations were chosen. We are participating [in the garden tour] in part to honor the history of the property, previously a dairy farm, and the Edwards family who owned it since the early 1900s.

Carleton, Dorothy and Berenice were all very active in the community,” said Deb. “Additionally, we want to let folks know that Raymond has a MOFGA Certified Organic farm and educate them about how we grow in the hoop houses as well as the fields,” she added.

Gifford said the eight gardens on this year’s tour are an eclectic mix of ornamental and working vegetable and fruit gardens, with locations ranging from waterside to inland steep slopes to the Raymond Community Garden, another program of the Raymond Village Library. “We are excited to offer such variety, and feel certain there is something for everyone on this Tour,” she said.

The Raymond Garden Tour is an important fund raiser for the Raymond Village Library, Gifford said.

“Sponsors, library trustees and staff, and community volunteers team up to organize and run this event, all proceeds from which directly benefit the library and its programs,” she said. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased at the Raymond Village Library, or online at www.raymondvillagelibrary.org. Raffle tickets for an original painting by local artist Donna Kantor, which is on display at the library, will be on sale as well. The rain date for the garden tour is Sunday, June 25.

The tour begins at the library at 9 a.m. Visitors can tour at their own pace, using a brochure and map available at the library. The tour is designed to take a full day. Participants are encouraged to visit several gardens in the morning, break for lunch at one of the surrounding businesses also featured on the map, and continue their tour in the afternoon, finishing by 3 p.m. 

But the fun doesn’t end at the last garden. After the tour, the Historic Hawthorne House will hold their annual Strawberry Festival, featuring homemade shortcake and fresh strawberries. This event, which begins at 3:30 p.m., features a talk by Jeanne Christie, Executive Director of the Association of State Wet Land Managers. Christie will speak on “Gardening for Bumble Bees and Other Native Pollinators.” 

This topic complements the goals of the garden tour. “Each of Raymond’s tours is created around the belief that exposure to a variety of gardens and gardening techniques fosters an interest in sustainability. Living as we do in Raymond, near and on bodies of water, reminds us of the responsibility we have to make the best gardening choices possible to keep the water clean and keep pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, alive,” said Gifford.

Admission to the Strawberry Festival is $10 for adults, $5 for children 8 and under. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are appreciated. Reservations can be made by at: jmanoush@twc.com.

The Raymond Garden Tour will be preceded by a gardening talk at the library. Authors and horticulturists Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto will talk about their book, “The Life in Your Garden: Gardening for Biodiversity”, on Wednesday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit: www.raymondvillagelibrary.org.

Friday, June 2, 2017

League of Women Voters of Maine assisted new citizens to register to vote at the Windham Veterans Center by Peg Balano


The League of Women Voters of Maine (LWVME) has been honored over the last four years, to attend Naturalization Ceremonies throughout the state, handing out information to our newest citizens about voting in Maine. We are also there to register them to vote if they have time after the ceremony. Each ceremony is different. Some are held in judicial courtrooms, some in elementary schools. The ceremony on Friday, May 26 at the Windham Veterans Center was special in its location and recognition of military personnel. 

On this day, there were 28 new American citizens, and we were able to register half of them to vote. One of the most poignant parts of the ceremony for me is when each candidate is asked to stand when their country of origin is called. They then all remain standing with right hand raised, and repeat in unison, their pledge to become American Citizens. I am always amazed by the number of countries represented at each event, and the range of experiences and cultures the new citizens bring to our communities. On this day, our new citizens were from 22 different countries: Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ghana, Guatemala, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Malta, Pakistan, People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Somalia, Sudan, United Kingdom and Vietnam.
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In the words of Tiffany Greco, one of our league volunteers that day, “Volunteering with the League of Women Voters affords me the invaluable opportunity to attend Naturalization Ceremonies and register new citizens to vote. Today's quaint ceremony at the Windham Veteran's Center was full of all the best stuff of this country. The community welcomed 28 new citizens from 22 countries. It was beautiful and incredibly moving. The room could barely contain all of the joy, love, and pride. A family member of a new citizen offered cupcakes to us all. It was a good morning of people being kind and welcoming to all.”  

To learn more about the League of Women Voters of Maine, visit: www.lwvme.org.  The bottom of that page also provides links to read about our work and volunteer opportunities.  We are also found at: www.facebook.com/LWVME/.

Windham High School physics teacher Wayne Rathbun inducted into University of Maine Francis Crowe Society by Elizabeth Richards

Rathbun on the right accepting his award
Wayne Rathbun, who teaches physics at Windham High School (WHS), was recently recognized for the impact he has made on students, inspiring them to pursue studies in engineering. On Tuesday, May 23, University of Maine College of Engineering Dean, Dana Humphrey was at Windham High School to induct Rathbun into the University’s Francis Crowe Society.


According to the University of Maine College of Engineering website, one purpose of the Francis Crowe Society is to recognize individuals who have made considerable engineering contributions and honored the profession. The society’s namesake, Francis Crowe, was the chief engineer of the Hoover Dam. He graduated from the University of Maine in 1905 with a degree in civil engineering. 

According to a university press release, selection for this recognition is made through a survey of first-year engineering students. Students are asked to name one person who has impacted their schooling and their decision to study engineering in a significant way. The two most often mentioned names are selected for induction into the society.
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Rathbun has been teaching for 19 years, and teaching physics at WHS for the past nine years.  Rathbun earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Gordon College and a Masters in Arts and Teaching degree from the University of New Hampshire. At WHS, Rathbun has taught astronomy and all levels of physics.   
      
WHS principal Christopher Howell said he is not surprised that Rathbun was recognized. “Mr. Rathbun is a talented teacher who knows how to take the theoretical and make it practical for students.  His classes provide multiple opportunities for students to interact with materials in a way that is relevant to them,” Howell said. 

The curriculum Rathbun has developed, allows students to fully explore the important concepts of physics in a deep and meaningful way, according to Howell. “His classes are filled with multiple real world examples of practical applications of how concepts are applied. The ability to apply physics to real world examples is also reinforced through Wayne’s personal experiences of applying ‘Yankee ingenuity’ to solve problems.”

https://www.egcu.org/boatHowell said that through Rathbun’s classes, students are exposed to many different vocational opportunities that fall under the engineering umbrella. “Through the high level of interest that he generates, I am not surprised that students want to pursue a major in this area,” Howell said.  We are fortunate to have him as a teacher at Windham High School.”

Rathbun said he is honored to receive the award, and is thrilled that it was based on input from former students.  “I have been fortunate to work with such high-quality students and to have the support of the RSU 14 School District, administrators and other science faculty,” he said.

Becoming United States citizens - with help from the American Legion Auxiliary by Michelle Libby


“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;”

Twenty-eight people gave the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America on Friday morning at the Windham Veterans Center. The ceremony hosted by American Legion Auxiliary Unit 148 (ALA) was the second the unit had planned. 

“It’s an awesome, life changing event for these people and I’m happy to witness it,” said ALA member Pat Learned. 

From over 20 countries like Cambodia, Canada, Columbia, Ghana, Guatemala, Italy, Russia, Malta and the People’s Republic of China, the new citizens personally demonstrated, under oath, their desires to become citizens. 

http://www.ymcaofsouthernmaine.org/camp“It’s about time. I’ve been here for 20 plus years,” said Sarom Grover, 37, originally from Cambodia and a Windham resident. “I always put it off. My priorities were going to school and starting a family.” Now she sees the differences in the country since the 1980s and she wants to be more involved in the changes. “I feel so loved. I seriously didn’t picture this being so big and important to others as it is to me,” she said. 

The children in attendance and the families of the honored were able to see how the military and citizenship are intertwined. “Our purpose is to promote patriotism and Americanism,” said ALA president Pam Whynot. “Freedom is not free. The military works hard for our citizens, for all of us.”
The master of ceremony was Kim Colson-Hoffman, Immigration Services Officer. She welcomed everyone and introduced the third grade chorus from Windham Primary School who sang the National Anthem and other patriotic selections. Being Memorial Day weekend, the event was even more poignant for the attendees. 

“Bringing in the local people from the area make this more special. The keynote speaker is a Windham resident and the Legion Auxiliary brings pride to the community,” said Immigration Services Officer Kurt Pelletier, who lives in Raymond. “With it being Memorial Day weekend, what could be more American than that?”

Nkrumah Kingsley is an Army National Guard member from Westbrook who became a citizen on Friday. “I look at America setting other countries free. I want to be part of the US citizens helping people in bondage, sacrificing my life for people,” he said. 

Twenty year Army veteran Sgt. First Class Keri Karsten gave welcoming remarks. “I learned and loved to selflessly serve,” she told the audience. She described traveling to other countries and learning about the customs, languages and food, and how that changed her. 

For Windham resident Cindy O’Brien, it was time to become a citizen. “My alien card was getting tattered and I started getting detained. I decided to take the plunge,” she said. O’Brien moved from Canada to the United States when she was 4 years old.  

At this ceremony, four of the new citizens were from Windham: Grover, O’Brien, Michael Popov and Viktor Yurkevich. Two of the new citizens had military ties: Kingsley the National Guard member, and Selina Ripley, who is the spouse of a retired Air Force member. 


Maine Senator Bill Diamond was the keynote speaker. He has a long history of service to the community and state, Pelletier said. 

“It is very, very special. In all of Windham, we are very proud to have your ceremony here,” Diamond said. “You can tell a lot about a country by the numbers of people who want to get in.” He spoke about his son-in-law, who will become an American citizen in June. “That makes my family even more connected to you. We were here on day number one of your citizenship.”

Luis Juarez said that becoming a citizen means “everything” to him. “It changed my life being here. I grow my kids here, safe. There are lots of opportunities here. Everything is changing. I’ve got to do it right now,” he said. Juarez and his 16-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter are from Portland. His daughter just graduated from Smith College with plans to become a doctor. 

http://www.windhammaine.us/Grade schooler Alexander Momot from Windham read an essay he wrote. “Veterans are true heroes and will always be in my heart. Their patriotism shows us that this country is worth fighting for,” he read.

At the end of the ceremony, the new citizens were given the opportunity to register to vote by the League of Women Voters. 

“There’s so much here. It’s so rich,” said Representative Mark Bryant. “It’s a civic blessing all by itself. It takes a village and we have a good village.”  

“These guys have worked so hard to be citizens. We are so blessed to be natural born citizens,” said ALA member Nancylou Stiles.