Friday, November 8, 2019

New administrative team hard at work for RSU14

Christine Frost-Bertinet and Christopher Howell
By Elizabeth Richards

On July 1st, 2019, a new administrative team took the reins at RSU 14. Christopher Howell stepped up from the assistant superintendent position he had held for a year to become the district’s Superintendent and Christine Frost-Bertinet stepped into the role of assistant superintendent.

Howell has a long history in the district, having been in several positions throughout the district since 1996. “This is just a great opportunity to now lead a district that I’ve been a part of for so, so long,” he said.

His history with the community made the transition easier since he didn’t need time to learn who people were, what the community is all about, or time to understand the community issues, Howell said.  His awareness of certain issues and scope of work made it possible for him to move forward a little faster than if he’d come into a new community, he said. 

Frost-Bertinet worked in both RSU57 and the Gorham School District prior to becoming assistant superintendent for RSU14. Her experience includes five years as an elementary school principal, as well roles as an assistant principal and as a teacher of English Language Arts at the middle and high school levels. 

Because she was new to the district, Frost-Bertinet spent much of her summer meeting people and making connections. “I could tell from the onset of starting in July that this was a very child centered, learner centered school community of bright, caring innovative educators,” she said. 

“I was overwhelmed by the welcome I received. So many people reached out from a variety of roles within the district and the community to say welcome, which says a lot about the pride and the dedication to making sure this is a wonderful school community,” she added. of the things Howell has been working on recently is the Windham Middle School building project. The district is fifth on the list of state projects. RSU14 has already begun the visioning process, Howell said.

Staff from both Windham Middle School and Jordan Small Middle School have worked together to determine a vision for middle school education in the district.  Being clear about the vision, which is being developed with the help of a national expert, will guide the building design, Howell said.  

“We’re trying to get as much work done prior to official working with major construction project so we’ll be ready to go – that’s why we chose to do the visioning now,” Howell said.  With continued growth on the horizon, careful planning of space in the building is essential.

Frost-Bertinet has been working from the current strategic plan, which is in its final year, with a focus on the design for learning and the environment for learning.

On the environment for learning side, social-emotional learning has been a big part of the conversation. The district has come together as a team, with community representatives, board representatives, and teachers from all levels coming to the table to talk about current practices, areas of growth needed for social-emotional learning, and what the next steps should be.  “We’re going to be working on that throughout the year, and that work will inform the next strategic plan,” she said. 

This is the first time that the district has come together with many voices at the table to examine the work already done and plan the direction for making sure each child is getting their academic, social and emotional developmental needs met, she said.  “We’re examining great practice and looking to go to the next level.”

On the design for learning side, she added, they are working as an administrative team through a grant that involves many districts. “Our team is really examining what are those instructional practices that speak to the design for learning part of the district’s strategic plan,” she said.

Howell said it’s important for the community to know that the administrative team loves working with their students. “I know that Windham and Raymond are very special places to raise kids,” he said. “We really enjoy being a part of that process. We’re going to do whatever we can to make sure that every kid has every opportunity to be successful,” he said.

He added that in RSU14, they take instruction seriously. “We want to make sure that what happens in our classrooms is best practice, and those best practices then lead to opportunities. We want kids, when they leave this district, to have choice.”, he said, he wants people to know that “We don’t always get things right, but when we don’t we want to hear about it so we have the opportunity to fix it.” Feedback helps the district look at policies and practice, and they are open to making changes if necessary.  “We want to be kid focused, we want to make sure that their needs are being met, because that’s why we’re here,” Howell said.

Outside of work, both Howell and Frost-Bertinet have a passion for the outdoors, albeit in different ways. Howell spends time rebuilding and refurbishing old boats and getting them on the water, while Frost-Bertinet loves camping and hiking. Both have children of their own, as well. 

Howell, who lives in West Cumberland, has three sons. Being a visible, present part of their lives is important, he said. Frost-Bertinet, who lives in Gorham, has two children, one who graduated from high school last year, and one who is a senior. Being involved in their lives and helping them get to their next phase is a big focus presently, she said.

Howell said the combination of their experiences make he and Frost-Bertinet a great team. With experience at different levels of education, they can be more efficient, he said.  They both appreciate the opportunity to work in the district, and feel the community support they receive, he added.

Local volunteer project part of nationwide Celebration of Service campaign for improving the homes and lives of veterans

On Friday, November 1, The Home Depot Foundation partnered with the Windham Veterans Association to transform the Windham Veterans Center, which serves local veterans and the community as a whole. More than six members of Team Depot, The Home Depot’s associate-led volunteer force, supported the project on their day off.

The repairs to the Windham Veterans Center have upgraded the building so that it is more attractive
Thanks to the volunteers!
for the community to host various events and functions in the space. The venue rentals will in turn support the association’s mission to help local veterans and provide scholarships to youth in the community.

This project in Windham is part of The Home Depot Foundation’s ninth annual Celebration of Service season to improve the homes and lives of U.S. military veterans and aid communities affected by natural disasters. From September 19 to Veterans Day, members of Team Depot are pledging 100,000 hours of service and planning to activate more than 600 volunteer projects across the country.

“I would just like to convey what an honor it is to work for a company that makes it a priority to give back to its community and the veterans we have, and continue to make it possible for us to safely live and operate our businesses this country every day,” stated Bruce Calmes, the Team Depot Store Captain and Store Manager of North Windham’s Home Depot. “This project at the Windham Veterans Center is particularly important to our community and the Veterans it serves, as this facility houses three separate Veterans Organizations and the local Scouting Troop.  The building serves as home for the American Legion Post 148, Ladies Auxiliary Post 148,  VFW Post 10643, Boy Scouts Troop 805 and also serves the Lions Club and Sebago Rotary as well as other smaller community organizations.
Calmes continued. “Due to the extent that this building serves the community, coupled with the aging membership and limited funds these organizations traditionally have, made it a great venue to have a Celebration of Service Team Depot project this year.  We sincerely appreciate the service that these men, women and families have given to our country and hope that this small effort and investment in our community helps them continue to serve this community in which we live.  I encourage all the members of this community, and others, to join our Home Depot associates in giving back at our next Team Depot event.”

cstlouis@spurwink.orgThis year, the Foundation is unveiling a new theme – Operation Surprise – that celebrates the selfless spirit of our veterans by surprising them with life-changing moments. The community is invited to visit to nominate a deserving veteran to receive a home repair grant for up to $25,000. The winner will be announced Veterans Day.

Since 2011, The Home Depot Foundation has transformed more than 45,000 homes and facilities for veterans across the country. Giving back to veterans is personal to The Home Depot, as more than 35,000 of the company’s associates have served in the military.

The Veteran’s Center is also in need of a new roof. The estimated cost to replace the roof is between $16,000 to $17,000 of which $9,000 has been generously donated by current American Legion members. To make a donation, one can send a check or money order made out to WVA/Roof and send to P.O. Box 1776, Windham, ME 04062 or call Mel Greenier at 207-892-7449. Be sure to check out the fundraising efforts by local businesses on pages 12 and 13 of this week’s publication.

Friday, November 1, 2019

A local tale of a Maine moose hunt

By David Field

Being drawn for the moose hunt is like winning the lottery to those chosen. After being drawn this past June for the second season moose hunt for Zone 11, the planning began. First, I called a butcher to reserve my spot. This is a necessary action as a lot of butchers only take so many animals in a season.

Secondly, I got my team assembled. We have a group of guys that has the moose hunting challenge down to a T, no matter who holds the permit. So, besides me, I had my long-time friend and moose magnet, Cliff Knight as my sub-permittee, Ron Richards of Windham and Todd Hunter of Raymond. The four of us previously did a moose hunt in 2017 and brought home a 675-pound bull on Ron Richards’ permit.

Thirdly, the scouting began. I follow Maine Moose Hunting on Facebook and it amazes me at the number of hunters asking for moose locations before and during the hunt. Accommodations weren’t an issue as we have a hunting camp in the zone. and I went to camp in June and deployed a handful of game cameras. We made trips north every few weeks during the summer to collect photos, assess activity and develop our plans.

We went up to the camp the last weekend in September to assess rutting activity and signs and to hopefully nab a grouse or 2. We didn’t nab grouse, but we did learn some things. In the area of the camp, we encountered 5 moose hunters looking to fill their tags. In the first season for Zone 11, only 11 out of 25 tags were filled. I attribute this to a handful of reasons. 1) The rut hadn’t really started, 2) plenty of food in the woods (is your yard filled with acorns?) 3) hunters were driving the roads hoping to fill their tag and not actually hunting the woods.

So, with the second weekend of October upon me, I begin packing. The trailer gets loaded with a 300-foot spool of rope, the 4-wheeler, propane tank, water, coolers full of food and of course, clothing and guns. At camp, we use an old Sears John-Boat to haul moose out of the woods. Very effective tool.

We get to camp and check the cameras for the almost final time. The camera located in the spot we call Moose Alley has 3 different bulls on it. Another camera has 2 bulls on it and a third has a cow. Another location has a moose wallow and becomes our Number 2 spot. Moose Alley is number one. 

Sunday afternoon to sunset, we go and check a few spots out. We had a cow moose come out at Moose Alley after sunset. I was so pumped for the 12 hours to pass!

The author, David Field and Cliff Knight with
the 680 pound bull.
Sunrise Monday morning finds us at Moose Alley. 33 degrees. We hear a bull grunt in the distance and the excitement jacks up a notch. We enter the woods and begin calling. We get a response, but from a different direction. The bull answers the call, but doesn’t come in. We stay in place until late morning. Frustrated, we head to camp for lunch. We try our second spot after lunch. Bright sunshine a stiff south breeze and 64 degrees are the conditions. We are set up at a T location of logging roads. I was on the south side of the truck when a bull appeared on the north side 20 minutes after arriving. I didn’t have a shot and the bull took off. We pursued but he escaped deep into the woods. We went to another spot and did some calling and then went back to Moose Alley to finish the afternoon. A day in the books and we were facing an incoming weather system on Thursday that we didn’t want to hunt in.

Tuesday morning, we went back to the spot that we were at Monday afternoon. We parked away from the area where the bull appeared. Again, walking in, we heard a bull grunt off in the distance. We set up and began calling. After a few hours, we explored. We walked down a logging trail that became a wide-open field. The beaten down path through the field showed the animals had been there. After exploring, I got a text from Todd to “Get Back ASAP”.  Ron and Todd had stayed back while Cliff and I explored the field. When I got the text, we got back and the guys told us that they heard a bull grunt 4 times off to the southwest. We worked our way back up the trail. About two-thirds of the way back, Ron made a grunt on the can call. There was a response that seemed to come from the road we had started on, very close. I worked up to the road and peeked up and down. Empty. A few more calls and the bull had gone silent. With the late morning approaching lunch, we headed back to camp to reassess.

So, Cliff and I decided to go back in the early afternoon and Ron and Todd would drive and scout with the rendezvous to be around 4pm at Moose Alley. We stuck to the plan. No action at the first stop, then back to Moose Alley. We set up in our parking spot. I had a feeling that the moose would be out and about this area as opposed to deeper in the woods where we had been on Monday., Todd and Ron took turns with cow calls and bull calls. Every 10-15 minutes, a new chorus and answers would occur. Forty minutes later, about 300 yards away, the young cow we saw Sunday night emerges from the woods. She is followed by the crotch-horn we had on camera from the previous week. In a bolt, we jog/creep down the road doing our best to stay out of sight. We get to 75 yards from the animals and the cow takes off. The small bull seems oblivious and slowly meanders to the cutting on our left. Sighted in on him, there is movement to the right. A much larger bull appears and the focus changes. One shot and the bull dropped just feet from the logging road. A final shot finishes him off.

With the easy part of the hunt done, the work begins. Ron goes to camp to get the trailer, tow strap and beverages. I have my gutting kit with me and change clothes and ready the knives. I use a forked branch to hold the rear leg out of the way and we tie off the front leg to Cliff’s truck. Todd watches me in amazement as I eviscerate the beast. He quickly nicknamed me the “Ginsu-Man”. As I am finishing the gutting, Ron returns with the trailer and goodies. We quickly fashion a drag to pull the moose up into the trailer. It took us 2 hours from time of shot to driving off with the bull to get this done.

So, the final weight was 680 pounds. I netted just over 300 pounds of meat. The final harvest for Zone 11 was 32 moose out of 50 permits issued.

Many thanks to my friends on this trip. Couldn’t have done it without them and the memories! Until next time.

Public comments highlight need to prioritize maintaining private roads in Highland Lake watershed

Heather True-Huntt speaking to members of Highland Lake
By Lorraine Glowczak

Approximately 15 Highland Lake residents, two Windham Town Council members, (Jarrod Maxfield and David Nadeau – also a Highland Lake resident) and a Planning Board member (Nick Kalogerakis) attended the Highland Lake Watershed Management Plan meeting and presentation that occurred last Wednesday, October 23 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Cornerstone Church, 48 Cottage Road.

Heather True-Huntt from the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District (CCSWCD) who is also member of the Highland Lake Leadership Team explained to all present, “The purpose of this public meeting is to gather feedback from residents regarding the proposed Action Items of a 10 year Watershed Based Management Plan for Highland Lake.”  

First, a brief reminder about the environmental concerns regarding the health of Highland Lake. In 2017 it was brought to the attention of the Towns of Windham and Falmouth as well as to the Highland Lake residents that Highland Lake was experiencing a sudden change in water clarity. The culprit had been identified as a form of algae. Although these algae are microscopic, they are growing in such large populations that they drastically reduce water clarity, thus not only causing detrimental environmental impacts and quality of the water, but a grave financial effect on both the town itself as well as to property owners.
It was from that point that immediate and sincere efforts have been made to safeguard the lake – and thus the financial investments of all who live in the greater Windham area. The concern was what Highland Lake was/is experiencing and its potential impacts on other lakes in the Sebago Lakes region including Sebago Lake - the source of drinking water for the Greater Portland area and beyond.

In order to safeguard the lake and the financial investments of property owners, the Highland Lake Leadership Team was developed, with support of the Windham and Falmouth Town Councils. Windham Town Councilor, Donna Chapman, along with other town officials and Highland Lake leaders, lead the charge to identify the reasons for the recurring algae bloom and to rectify potential hazards.  

In 2018, the HLA conducted a Watershed Survey, which documented sources of erosion in the water shed.  The Watershed Management Plan, once adopted, will serve as a road map for applying to the EPA for funding to remediate problematic erosion sites within the HL watershed. 

For the past 2 years, the Highland Lake Association in collaboration with  the Department of Environmental Protection, University of Southern Maine, University of New Hampshire, University of Maine – Orono and Bigelow Labs have gathered extensive data in the effort to discern the causes of the picocyanobacterial blooms – a phenomenon unique to lakes in  Maine. 

Huntt invited attendees to give feedback to the action items “We want to know thoughts: Do you think we’ve captured it all? Is there more we could do? What might we have missed? Where should we focus first?” Councilor, David Nadeau focused on the steps that the Town of Windham has taken in the effort to preserve Highland Lake including the institution of a point system for all development in the Highland Lake watershed.  He then engaged the group with the complex, and yet absolute prioritization of the need for private roads to be maintained – as private roads are a major contributor to erosion into Highland Lake. Councilor Nadeau has a proposal in front of the council, already accepted, that would require any public easement road plowed by the town to put the equivalent cost of plowing into road maintenance every year. The figures were presented to the council and these roads should be hearing from the town in the spring. The details are being worked out. The costs are defunded for each road in the proposal. If you have questions, contact councilor Nadeau at 892-7192.

The issue of septic systems and how they may impact Highland Lake is also of concern. Real Estate Broker, Nicole Foster stated that it is Maine law that all septic tanks be inspected during a real estate transaction. The bill (LD 216), entitled, “An Act to Protect Water Quality by Standardizing the Law Concerning Septic Inspection in the Shoreland Zone” will be enacted on January 1, 2020.

“An expansion of the already existing requirements has been extended to include inland shoreland areas as well,” stated Foster. “As of January 1, 2020, buyers for properties where septic systems are located within a shoreland area will be required to hold a septic inspection by completed by a person who is certified by the Department of Health and Human Services to do so. Exceptions will be available if there is evidence this inspection was done by the seller or the system was replaced within the previous 3 years. If the weather conditions do not allow for the inspection to be completed prior to purchasing, the buyers will be responsible for holding the inspection within 9 months of the transfer. If the inspection finds that the system is malfunctioning the system must be repaired or replaced within one year of transfer.” consideration was suggested that the HLA help raise funds for individuals who might need financial assistance in the case of septic tank repair or replacement.

Heather’s presentation included the fact that the total estimated cost for the implementation of the Watershed Management Plan over the next 10 years could reach $854,120.  Where is this money going to come from? Nick Kalogerakis, of the Windham Planning Board Member  suggested the following: “Of the 1500 residents who live on the lake watershed, a $50 a year in-kind donation by all the residents is all that is needed to help improve the quality of the lake and meet the financial needs in the next 10 years.” That would only be $10 per month for five months. This could be a simple solution to a complicated environmental issue.

A resident suggested that state representatives may be a potential resource in helping solve the water quality issues at Highland Lake. 

Several emphasized the importance of collaborating with local school districts in the effort to engage young people in ongoing environmental challenges of preserving natural resources. 

“There was an overall very positive response to the Action Items as presented,” commented Rosie Hartzler, President of the HLA.  Rosie is part of the Technical Assistance Committee (TAC) tasked with drafting the Watershed Management Plan, which will be reviewed by the DEP in early 2020.  Once accepted, there will be an application to the EPA for funding which is hoped to come online in 2021. 

“The protection of our natural resources is implicitly tied to the overall economic viability of this community; we all need to continue to participate in the ongoing effort to preserve and protect Highland Lake” said Rosie Hartzler.

New librarian brings love of books and artistic talent to JSMS

Mari Dieumegard with the two
books she has illustrated
By Briana Bizier

Not many librarians can showcase their own work in their library’s collection. Yet this is true for Jordan Small Middle School’s new librarian, Mari Dieumegard, who has also illustrated two children’s books.

I’ve always loved books,” Mari Dieumegard, with a smile. “I love reading young adult books, and I love making children’s books. This job is really the best of both worlds.”

Originally from Alaska, Dieumegard has fond memories of visiting her grandparent’s camp in Monmouth, Maine over the summers. She attended Lewis and Clark College, located in the other Portland, before moving to Maine to attend the Maine College of Art. After graduating with her BFA, Dieumegard began teaching in an independent school in Portland.

My mom was a teacher,” Dieumegard stated, “so working with kids came naturally.”

While teaching, Dieumegard was also developing her career as an independent artist and illustrator. In a process familiar to many who work in the arts, she sent out innumerable query letters and samples of her illustrations to publishers and agents. She also moved away from the independent school in Portland and began working as a substitute teacher in the RSU14 system of Windham and Raymond.

When a position opened up in the Raymond Elementary School library, Dieumegard applied and was hired. Then, three years after sending out her many query letters, Mari was contacted by Islandport Press of Yarmouth. Would she be interested, they wondered, in providing the illustrations for a new children’s book written by Jean Flahive? Dieumegard accepted their offer, and her first publication, “The Old Mainer and the Sea”, was released in October of 2017.

We had a book birthday party at the elementary school,” Dieumegard recalled. “It was really fun.”
My personal Raymond Elementary School insider, Sage Bizier, still remembers this book birthday party, so I can verify that it was indeed very fun. Dieumegard’s collaboration with the author Jean Flahive resulted in a second children’s book, “The Canoe Maker”, which was released earlier this year. Naturally, both books are available at the Jordan-Small Middle School library and the Raymond Elementary School library. You can also find signed copies of both books at Mari’s website:
Although her illustrations focus on children’s books, Dieumegard’s love of young adult literature shines through her thoughtful book recommendations. She gave me a tour of the library while Lisa Schadler, the previous librarian at Jordan-Small Middle School, re-organized the book selection by genre to make it easier for young readers to find the books that appeal to them.
offering several recommendations for the voracious nine-year-old reader at my house.

I personally like fantasy and realistic fiction,” she said, “but I am trying to push my boundaries and read more horror and spooky stories so I can help the kids find what they want.”

Dieumegard also brings her considerable artistic talents to her position as a librarian. As the advisor to the Jordan Small library club, the LitWits, Dieumegard is currently sponsoring a logo design contest for the middle school students. She plans to teach students in the library club how to use Google Draw to create their own logo for the library. In a process that is a bit similar to Dieumegard’s own experiences submitting her illustrations to publishers, the students’ designs will then be posted online, and the school will vote to choose the winner.

This library is really a community space,” Dieumegard said. “Teachers will send their classes down here to work on projects, or students will come down with a library pass.” She smiled as a few young library lovers poked their heads into the sunny, open room.
It’s a job that doesn’t feel like a job.”