Friday, January 15, 2021

Community helps solve photo mystery on Pettingill Pond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Raymond fisherman competes in Toyota Series Bass Championships

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

By Ed Pierce

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memorable and challenging 

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chamber announces business awards; recognizes community successes

By Lorraine Glowczak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Business of the Year: Congratulations to Octagon Cleaning and Restoration


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

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

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

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

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

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

Deadline for applications May 15

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

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

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

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

Scholarship Details:

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

Application Requirements:

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

 

Maine residents can use SNAP for online food purchases during pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proposed balanced budget for state invests in pandemic response

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 8, 2021

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

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

By Lorraine Glowczak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raymond Public Works completes town roadwork projects for season

By Brianna Bizier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHS Robotics Team takes second in Thomas College Virtual Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lin agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The office hours are as follows:

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

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

Monday, Saturday and Sunday – Closed

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

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

Corey to serve on several legislative committees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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