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Friday, June 21, 2019

Ron’s Mexican Cantina and Grill will continue to make a positive impact in the community under new ownership

Ron's Mexican Cantina at its new location.
By Elizabeth Richards
When Ron Eby of Windham Automotive built Ron’s Mexican Cantina and Grill for the first Summerfest celebration in Windham, he never imagined it would be a catalyst for raising nearly $700,000 dollars for Camp Sunshine. But in the years since he created the food cart, that’s exactly what has happened. And although the cart has now been sold, new owner Jose Chavez of A La Mexicana plans to continue the tradition of giving.

Eby said that when he built the Cantina his goal was to build something that would inspire others as they worked to get Summerfest started.  He then decided that the proceeds raised from the cart would go to support Camp Sunshine. Over the years, the Cantina became somewhat of an icon in the area. 
“It was a huge success,” Eby said. In recent years, however, it hadn’t seen much use. Eby came to a point when it was time to move forward and do something different, he said, so he decided to sell the Cantina.

https://www.egcu.orgWhen Chavez expressed interest, Eby said, “I told him I’d love to see it still used in some capacity to raise money for Camp Sunshine.”

Chavez said that continuing to support Camp Sunshine is in their plan, but they haven’t yet determined exactly how that will happen. He added that he wants to help the community, especially since they have helped him so much.  “I want to give back a little bit too,” he said.

As for Eby, he stated he will continue to raise money in other ways.  “It’s come time to move on and do something different,” he said. 

Eby has been honored for his efforts as a 6 Who Care recipient, and he was one of four finalists for the NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian of the Year award in 2012. That honor came with a $25,000 donation to Camp Sunshine.

The move to A La Mexicana was a great one for the cantina, Eby said. “I probably couldn’t have asked for a better destination,” he said.  He believes the cantina will be beneficial to both the restaurant and the community and he hopes that it will evolve in a way that grows awareness of Camp Sunshine and the work that they do.

Eby said that he’s been able to make a greater impact than he ever imagined. The Cantina started a “ripple effect,” he said.  “That drop was started, and those ripples continue to this day. If it can continue with Jose, that would be special,” he said.

Eby called Camp Sunshine a “diamond in our own back yard.” People don’t realize the national and even international impact the camp has for families, he added.  Being able to make such an impact makes him step back and say “wow”, Eby said. “It started with a little idea, and a little dream.”

World War II pilot’s remains found after 75 years: Memorial services to be held in Windham on Tuesday

Burleigh Curtis
By Lorraine Glowczak

Pearl Grant, a resident of Windham for the past 93 years feels some closure now that her cousin, Burleigh Curtis, can be laid to rest in Windham, next to his parents – 75 years after his death.

According to a DPAA (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency) Public Affairs press release, “Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Burleigh E. Curtis, killed during World War II, was accounted for on December 13, 2018.”

The press release continued by stating that Curtis, a member of the 377th Fighter Squadron, 362nd Fighter Group, piloted a P-47D aircraft on June 13, 1944. On that date, he was assigned to a dive-bomb attack near Briouze, France but, unfortunately, he crashed in a nearby field of the target. 
“Witness reported that he was not seen bailing out of the aircraft prior to the crash,” the press release stated.

“The last time I saw Burleigh was when he graduated from high school in 1939,” Grant said, who spent summers with her cousin and other family members on the family farm on Highland Cliff Road in Windham. “We all had fun. We played games, joked, laughed – a completely pleasurable experience on the farm as a family,” Grant said.

rita.theriault@raymondmaine.orgCurtis was born in Freeport, ME and lived there until the Great Depression required his family to move to Massachusetts where his father obtained a job – which was a stroke of “luck” during the hard and difficult times of the late 1920s and early 1930s. “But Burleigh along with his parents, two sisters and two brothers would always come back to Windham on summer vacations to spend time with us on our grandparents’ farm,” recalled Grant. “I don’t have any specific memories – for me it
was just a time with family, and it was something I always looked forward to.”

Grant and Curtis’s grandparents were Fred and Lida Cobb. Curtis’s sister, 94-year-old Madelyn Curtis Klose of Antrim, MA recalls her own memories of life with her brother on their grandparents’ Highland Cliff Farm:

“My grandparents had a total of 13 grandchildren, but there were ten of us who would spend the summers together on the farm in Windham,” Klose began. “One memory I have is the times when our grandfather came home from work at night, he would take all of us to the lower potato field and let us pick the very tiny fresh potatoes to eat raw. They were almost like eating peanuts.” 

Klose continued fondly, “We would play in the barn, sliding in the hay, making a mess of my
Pearl Grant of Windham holds a collage of photographs
 of her grandparent's farm  on Highland Cliff Road
where she spent summers with Burleigh
and her other cousins
grandparents' barn. We would pick bushels of blueberries on their farm and sell them. They would let us keep some of the money and all of us cousins would go shopping in Portland and buy our clothes for the school year. I remember once playing football with Burleigh. He grabbed the ball and ran into my stomach and knocked the wind of me - he wasn't rough or violent - just playing football.  I remember eating around the supper table together every night...and Burleigh sat right next to me....and he loved his mashed potatoes.”

A specific memory Klose shared about her brother is that Burleigh was rather quiet, gentle, thoughtful, she said. “He was just a nice boy. He was popular at school...voted as vice-president of his class all through his high school years.”

In an interview with the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript of Peterborough, NH, Klose stated that Curtis married his high school sweetheart before he was stationed in England, but never returned to her. Initially, it was believed the plane Curtis was piloting had been hit by its own bomb, but the family believes the bomb came from another plane based upon what they have been told from officials. Klose is also stated as saying in that article, “[Curtis] was missing in action for a whole year and then they automatically pronounced him dead, but they didn’t produce any of his remains.”

That is, until the non-profit History Flight took on Curtis’s case in 2017. As stated in the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, the History Flight “embarked on an archaeological dig of which his plane went down.”

https://www.orangecircuitfitness.com/The story in the above-mentioned article detailed that once Curtis’ plane crashed behind enemy lines,
a French cabinet maker who witnessed the accident went to the field and reportedly buried what remains he could find. Those remains are believed to have been dug up by the Army at a later point and buried in a military cemetery in France. Scientists used anthropological analysis as well as historical and material evidence to successfully identify Curtis’ remains.

Klose and her 100-year-old brother, Donald, who lives in California, are the only remaining siblings of Curtis – and now the family can finally lay their brother to rest.

Curtis’ name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Brittany American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Montijoie Saint Martine, France, along with the others missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

“The family has heard from several people in France, thanking us for Burleigh’s sacrifice,” stated Grant. “In fact, one person from France plans to be at the memorial.”

Everyone is invited to a memorial service that will be held at Highland Cliff Advent Christian Church, 96 Highland Cliff Road in Windham at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25. Interment at Chase Cemetery, next to the church. The community is invited to attend the memorial service to honor a great local hero.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Raymond Garden Tour: Nestled in the verdant forests off Raymond Hill Road lies a true oasis

By Briana Bizier
April Fey’s garden, which has been a labor of love for the past thirty years, is an enchanting space filled with flowers, birds, unique artwork, and the sound of running water. On Saturday, June 22, for the first time ever, Fey will join the biennial Raymond Garden Tour and open her garden to the public to benefit the Raymond Village Library.

Her decision to join the Garden Tour all started with a simple Facebook post. “When we finished the
dry stream bed in my garden, I posted a picture of it on Facebook,” Fey explains. “Sharon Dodson saw it and asked if I’d like to join the Raymond Garden Tour!”

Her garden, Fey told me, is inspired by her family’s globe-spanning travels. Her husband Robert is a pilot, and their family loves to travel. Many features from the sites that they have enjoyed during their many excursions have found their way home to join her beautiful garden.

Fey built her stone stream bed, which leads from a dry well near her porch and is home to three cheerful salmon sculptures, after admiring similar features in gardens during a trip to Japan. The colorful glass balls grouped near her rose bushes were inspired by a Chihuly exhibition, and the tiki statue she decorated herself is an homage to her family’s love of the Hawaiian Islands.

http://buttscommercialbrokers.com/Several other sculptures adorn Fey’s garden, including a cheerful metal silhouette of three children. “That sculpture was a Mother’s Day present,” Fey explains. “Our three children are grown now, but the sculpture is right next to the path they used to walk to school.”

Although Fey’s children are now adults, her yard is still home to a young gardener. Fey’s two-year-
old grandson visits frequently to play with the miniature barn and farm animals in her flower bed or to move Fey’s collection of ceramic mushrooms. During my visit, the mushrooms were clustered artistically behind an enormous fern in what must have been the perfect place for a two-year-old to practice his own garden design.

Fey’s magnificent garden, which now wraps around her house and contains hundreds of flowers, all began with a muddy bank. “The slope in front of our house was a mess,” Fey explains. “My husband and I took apart an old rock wall to build a terrace, and that was our first garden bed.”

That first terrace is now home to poppies, daylilies, columbines, and a hops vine inspired by an urban garden in Portland that Fey visited for her daughter’s wedding. It’s also home to a few surprise volunteers.

I didn’t even plant these,” Fey tells me, gesturing to a thriving clump of purple columbine flowers. “That’s another gift from Mother Nature.”

https://www.egcu.orgFey’s original terrace garden has now been joined by many more flowerbeds. In addition to her roses and a garden by the shed filled entirely with divides from her many perennials, Fey has a bed devoted
entirely to lavender, another bed for cutting flowers, and several high bush blueberries.

We come out in the morning with a bowl of cereal and pick blueberries for it,” Fey told me.
Even the old swing set in Fey’s backyard is host to an unusual variety of forsythia with red flowers that came from the Botanical Gardens in Boothbay as well as a container overflowing with purple blossoms. “This spot just needed a bit of color,” Fey explained.

Fey’s garden also includes a whimsical bottle tree, which Fey calls, “the easiest plant I grow.” From what this journalist can tell, Fey’s entire garden looks like it grows beautifully, although she laughed at the compliment.

I’m a big believer in mulch,” Fey tells me, with a smile. “I just plant what I like, and I don’t worry too much about it.”

If you’d like to see Fey’s garden as well as the other featured gardens, the Raymond Garden Tour will take place this Saturday, June 22, with a rain date of Sunday, June 23. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the tour, and they can be purchased at Raymond Village Library. All proceeds will benefit the library.

So long, farewell and good luck to Superintendent Sandy Prince

By Lorraine Glowczak

In about two weeks and after 16 years at the helm, RSU14 Superintendent Sandy Prince will move on to new territory and adventures, handing the baton to Assistant Principal, Chris Howell.

Prince has spent the past 39 years of his career in education, first obtaining his degree in education at the University of Maine in Farmington. His initial foray in education, a vocation near and dear to his heart, was at the Spurwink School in Portland, working with students with special needs. At that time, Brown Elementary School, which was (and still is) part of the South Portland School System, rented classrooms from Spurwink, so Prince gained additional experiences in the public special education sector.

“While I was there, I picked up six college credits towards a master’s where I finally obtained my graduated degree in Exceptional Student Education at USM,” Prince said, further explaining that ‘Exceptional’ Education’ was the term used for Special Education at that time.

Soon upon his completion of his master’s, he taught educational leadership courses at the University of New England. In 1981, he was hired as Windham’s first full-time kindergarten special education teacher. “Sue Gendron was the teaching principal at that time, and she was like a mentor to me,” 

stated Prince. “I learned so much from her - I was only 26 years old. She was a great thinker and had a sensible approach to educational administration. I admired her ability to work with people and not micromanage them. I have always tried to emulate her leadership style.” Gendron eventually became the RSU14 Superintendent of Schools until Prince took her place 16 years ago.

http://www.windhammaine.us/After about four years in his teaching role, he became Director of Special Education services in Gorham. “I was hired by Dr. Connie Goldman,” stated Prince. “Connie led by example where she always made her decisions based on what was right for students. She hired some of the best educators and everyone admired Dr. Goldman who was a Harvard graduate.” 

While with the Gorham school system, Prince filled the role of principal at Rock [elementary] School as well as Gorham Falls, a kindergarten center. He also held the role of interim middle school principal for approximately three years. 

It was during his time there that he once again experienced and witnessed great leadership in action with Tim McCormick, who replaced Dr. Goldman. “He could not only think well and have great vision, but he was a genius at implementing that vision. It’s one thing to say you will execute an idea, but it is quite another to carry through and do it well.”

Prince moved on to Portland where he was the Principal of Lyseth Elementary for a couple of years and then accepted the position of Assistant Director of Educational Planning at Portland’s central office. Once again, he was guided by great leadership who helped pave the way to his own role as superintendent. “In Portland, MaryJane McCallum was the superintendent who hired me to be Principal of Lyseth School. An amazing leader who had great vision and was able to build a K- Adult school system that was well aligned for the 21st century.”

http://www.genest-concrete.com/ After 16 years, he returned to Windham where, he has admitted is the “home of his soul.”
When asked about fond memories of the community he stated that he loved working in special
education and really enjoyed his contact with both students and parents. As far as successes, he points to the teachers and staff who made the biggest impact on students’ educational achievements. “I have been amazed at the high quality and passionate educators, staff and parents who provide a fun, learning atmosphere for our students,” he said. “I’m truly amazed and grateful.”

Prince admitted that it is the nature of the job to take a hit once in a while. “But I have always tried to make the best decision for kids – and I always tried to listen and respond with understanding in challenging circumstances.”

As Howell steps forward this fall, Prince offers a few words of wisdom. “First, I must say I am wicked excited for Chris,” he began and then continued. “As for advice I would remind him to also stay focused on the children and do what you morally believe is right. I know without a doubt that he will do well as the new superintendent – and will take it further, creating more successes.”

Next fall, Prince will take on a temporary position at the Scarborough School District. As far as retirement? “I’m keeping my options open.”

Good luck and farewell, Mr. Prince – and thank you for your dedication to the Windham and Raymond students. You will be missed.

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Maine Blues Festival celebrates its fourteenth year

 Blues band, Poke Chop and the Other White Meats
will be one among the many musicians to provide entertainment
By Lorraine Glowczak

If there is anything the Windham and Raymond community loves, it is listening to good music and supporting local musicians - and the 14th annual Maine Blues Festival in Naples happening Friday, June 14 to Sunday, June 16 – is an anticipated yearly event.

Beginning in the winter of 2006, the concept to have a festival started as just an idea between two friends while talking over a couple of beers. Kevin Kimball was visiting his friend Mike Bray, who was the owner of the former pub, Bray’s, in Naples (currently Gary’s Old Towne Tavern). “If we are really going to do this, we need to make it happen,” Kimball recalled Bray telling him. “We had been discussing this for awhile and we both realized that it was time to take action with this blues festival idea.”

The original vision was just to have a small mini-festival in Bray’s Beer Garden. “But then word got out, and various local businesses were asking if they could join in,” Kimball explained. “It mushroomed beyond our wildest dreams. To be honest, we were scared out of our wits.”

https://bbcultivation.com/On the day of the first event, Kimball also recalled that the crowd of people came out in droves and
as the first band was being introduced, Bray -feeling awed by the attendance and interests - leaned over to Kimball and said, “This has become a runaway train. Here we go. Either we will succeed big or fail horribly.”

Fourteen years later, we all know that the runaway train has become a huge success with over 40 Maine blues bands coming together every Father’s Day weekend, performing for three days at 10 venues – including five cruise performances on the Songo River Queen II.

Mark Persky, known as the voice of the airways and former WBLM DJ, has been the official emcee of the event since 2008. “I’ve always been astounded at the quality of music that comes from the musicians in Maine. When I first moved to Maine and heard the talent, it blew me away.”

Persky, who loves all genres of music and attended the first Woodstock event in 1969, is especially fond of the Maine Blues Festival and the fun, family friendly atmosphere it has become. “There is this real warmth and a small town feel at the event. I get to meet and become friends with people, children – and dogs, too! It’s just an overall enjoyable occasion for everyone. It reminds me of the atmosphere of Woodstock. Everyone just enjoying the music, having fun and creating friendships.”

Ron Gill, local blues musician who has made an annual appearance, playing with his band Poke Chop and the Other White Meats since 2007, concurs with Persky’s sentiments. “This is a premier event for Maine-based blues acts. It really the opening of summer in Naples," Gill stated. "It's great to see so many well-behaved fans every year at this event. I've been honored to have been a part of this for
some 12 years or so now. Kevin Kimball and his committee do a crack up job of attending to the myriad of details associated with putting this festival on. Performing for an invested, rollicking crowd is a thrill every year. I see so many musician friends each year  -it turns into a celebration for us.

https://www.egcu.org/boatKimball stated that a new feature of the Maine Blues Festival has been added and this is the inclusion of the First Maine Cigar Box Guitar Festival, a sort of festival-within-a-festival, and the first of its kind in New England. Taking place on Saturday on the Naples Village Green, this event will showcase both performers and makers of cigar-box guitars (CBG’s). CBG’s are hand-crafted instruments literally built around wooden cigar boxes with anywhere from one to six strings (most commonly three or four), and are considered by many to be the seminal instrument of the blues.

Celebrate Maine’s musical talent with other liked-minded spirits who enjoy the soulful melody of blues– and make a friend or two as well. There are also fun activities for the young, and perhaps, future blues artists. For more information on vendors, venues, list of entertainers and activities or to purchase tickets, check out their website at www.mainebluesfestival.com/

Free monthly holistic care services for veterans begin Monday at the Windham Veterans Center

Reiki energy work will be one of the services provided
By Lorraine Glowczak

We celebrate our veterans upon their return home from war or conflict, relieved that they arrive on American soil safe and sound. However, statistics indicate that although they survived battle in other lands, the trauma from the experience has proved to be more deadly than the frontline itself. Many return with scars unseen, suffering silently with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other health issues. This often leads to drug/alcohol abuse, homelessness – and worse yet – suicide.

Although there may be no magic that can take away the atrocious and unspeakable experiences many veterans faced at war - and continue to live with, there may be options that might help calm and relax an individual for at least a moment in time, letting them known they do not have to suffer alone.

Beginning this Monday, June 10, a group of area holistic practitioners will provide therapeutic massage, reflexology, reiki, polarity, meditation practices and more on a monthly basis (second Monday of each month) to all Lakes Region area veterans for free from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Windham Veterans Center, 35 Veterans Memorial Drive in Windham.

http://www.genest-concrete.com/“I have been wanting to do something like this for some time,” stated Bob Beane, an Air Force
Veteran during the Vietnam War area and brainchild of this newly established free holistic service. “The idea began in 1990 when I supervised a crew of workers during the 1990 census. I was living in Brownfield at the time and we all worked together for approximately 10 weeks to gather the required information for the census. This work included the towns of Brownfield, Fryeburg, Porter, Hiram and Kezar Falls. During that time, we discovered eight veterans who had created cave-like living dwellings in conspicuous places for themselves, hiding from society. I knew at that point, I needed to do something.”

Yes, these eight veterans were officially homeless but not in the sense that the word “homelessness” conjures up for most people (that is another topic that needs to be addressed and understood, much like this subject matter). They are there because PTSD and other illnesses propelled them to be alone – not wanting to be a part of a society in which they once felt called as a personal vocation to protect and serve.

“It’s called agoraphobia,” Beane said.

According to MayoClinic.com, agoraphobia is “a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed. You fear an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd.”

https://www.egcu.org/homeBeane, a retired Lieutenant with the Portland Fire Department who is currently a certified reiki master, shaman, druid and earth angel, stated that he also suffers from PTSD as well as other various
physical symptoms. When asked how his work with holistic healthcare helped him in his own personal journey, which included being diagnosed with aggressive cancer in 2008, Beane admitted that he still suffers a lot of pain. “I’m nearly 70 years old, but I still get up every day feeling grateful despite the physical pain. I get up and work every day. I continue to learn by taking classes, reading, studying – and writing every morning. It’s not always easy, but my work keeps me alive and engaged with life. I attribute my energy and approach to life with my holistic work and lifestyle.”

Rebecca LaWind, owner of Ways to Wellness Center, is a licensed massage therapist, certified yoga teacher, reiki and energy practitioner who will be among the many individuals offering therapeutic services to veterans.  “My intention is to support people to relax and calm amidst full and sometimes stressful lifestyles,” LaWind stated. “Emotions can be held and stored in the body and with massage or intentional positive touch, they can become aware of, soften and even release, leaving one feeling lighter and less stressed.”

She has personally faced her own challenges in life and LaWind stated that her practice has helped her feel more grounded, open, relaxed - experiencing less pain, both physically and emotionally. “It can take time and patience,” she said. “It is my hope that this monthly, consistent Holistic Share for Veterans will provide people a safe space to relax in as they may carry residual feelings of trauma, fear, isolation, etc.” 

https://goodwillnne.org/jobs/Lisa Defosse, certified reiki master teacher, licensed massage therapist, Bowen practitioner, and myofascial release therapist stated that reiki helps to release old patterns and stuck memories and brings in light and new possibilities. “With the help of a Reiki Practitioner, the veteran can calm the mind and begin to feel again,” DeFosse said. “Reiki is beneficial for those with PTSD as it harnesses the inner healing inside each person and allows them to experience a feeling of peace.

All veterans are invited to experience the relief they deserve. Beane stated that all individuals will
feel safe and there will be no pressure or questions. Just acceptance as they experience a safe and healing space for a while.

For those who are holistic practitioners who need to take a break and care for themselves, LaWind and others gather together for monthly reiki shares on the last Tuesday of each month. All are invited. For more information, contact LaWind at  www.waystowellnesscenter.com. For more information regarding the monthly holistic care services at the Windham Veteran Center contact Beane at 207-749-1857 or sebagojourney@yahoo.com.