Friday, January 29, 2021

South Windham parade salutes World War II veteran’s 98th birthday

By Ed Pierce

Of the 16 million Americans who wore the uniform of the United States during World War II, Bob Miele of South Windham remains proud of his service, his family and the community he treasures. And as he celebrated his 98th birthday on Jan. 25, Miele was honored with a parade, greetings from Windham’s police chief, a gift from Windham’s American Legion post and cheers from more than three dozen friends and family members.

Drafted in the U.S. Army, Miele joined his brother Ralph in uniform and served from 1941 to 1945 in the U.S. Army’s European Theater in England, France and Germany. He worked as a T5 Signal Corps Early Warning Radar Operator tracking enemy aircraft and German V-1 buzz bombs.

World War II veteran Bob Miele of South Windham, far right,
waves to vehicles participating in a parade marking his 98th 
birthday on Jan. 25. More than 50 vehicles were in the parade
and a crowd of more than three dozen of Miele's family and 
friends attended the event. Miele owned and operated
'Patsy's' store for many years in South Windham and served
as a radar operator in England, France and Germany during
World War II. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
The parade included more than 50 vehicles, police cruisers, veterans, Shriners, and fire trucks filled with well-wishers who turned out wanting to say happy birthday to Miele. The parade stretched all the way from the old Windham Fire Station to the new fire station on Route 202.

His grandson, Tim Pomerleau of Raymond, said it is the first time he can ever remember a parade in which Bob was not a participant.

“My grandfather was a Shriner Crazy Cop for many years and made Shriner trips to the circus, parades and Canada and I used to love going with him to those,” he said.

After his military service ended, Miele returned to Windham and eventually took over operation of his father’s store, Patsy’s, located directly across from the old fire station in South Windham.
 
“He was actually a volunteer firefighter back in those days too,” said David Tanguay, adjutant for American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham. “He lived above Patsy’s and when he heard the fire alarm go off, he got dressed and ran across the street to the fire station. He was always the first one to report for duty there.”

His daughter, Tina Pomerleau of Falmouth, said she was surprised by the outpouring of love and support for her father as he celebrated his birthday.

“It’s just amazing,” she said. “I don’t know how it happened, but he has received almost 100 birthday cards in the mail coming from all across the country too. He’s very happy today.”

Tanguay said his family kept the parade a secret from him until it was time to go outside to watch it as it drove near his condominium on Depot Street.

“He was only told he had to be in the condo lobby at 10 a.m. for some member of his church who wanted to wish him a happy birthday,” Tanguay said. “When he stepped out of the building, he was met with accolades and well wishes by dozens of family and friends.”

After the parade, Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield thanked Miele for his service to the nation and to the community and he presented him with a “Challenge Coin” and a Windham Police patch.

Schofield said he was humbled to be included in the parade and to meet Miele.

“It’s quite an honor for a living member of the Greatest Generation,” Schofield said. “This means a lot to his family and for me, it’s an honor to be a part of this.”

Tanguay also gave Miele a special “Eagle Cane” and a citation from the American Legion marking his 98th birthday.

The Eagle Cane Project originated in Oklahoma and was introduced in Maine in 2008. Woodcarver Jack Nitz of Tulsa, Oklahoma launched the Eagle Cane Program after watching an ABC News television segment in 2004 about post-Sept. 11 veterans. Nitz, who served in the Navy from 1948 to 1957, said he realized there was "a little something" that he, as a woodcarver and cane maker, could do to let injured veterans know they had support from people in their community and to also honor them for their service.

The Eagle Cane program has now spread to 32 different states, including Maine, and is a collaborative initiative that awards quality hand-carved personalized Eagle Head canes to deserving veterans in recognition for their service to the United States.

Miele, whose wife of 53 years, Alys, died in 2016, said he was overwhelmed by all of the attention for his birthday and said he remembers when annual Fourth of July parades took the same route as this one did years ago.

“This one seemed to be larger than those parades were,” he said. “I’ve never had a parade in my honor before and it feels remarkable.” <


Local dog groomer relates story of kindness on Kelly Clarkson Show

Lavish Dog Day Spa owner Caitlyn Brundage, left, appeared
with Kelly Perry and her son, Carter, on the Jan. 21 edition of
the Kelly Clarkson Show on television and was interviewed by
host Kelly Clarkson about an act of kindness that the dog
grooming business performed for Carter last summer. An
employee of Lavish Dog Day Spa found Carter's lost 'Stuffy
Puppy' named 'Cheese Puff' and gave him a bath and comb-out
before contacting the family to return it to them.
COURTESY PHOTO 
By Ed Pierce

A genuine act of kindness has garnered national attention for the owner of Lavish Dog Day Spa in Standish and Raymond and led to her appearance on the Kelly Clarkson television program last week.

Caitlyn Brundage was contacted by a producer of “The Kelly Clarkson Show” back in October about a lost stuffed puppy that a member of her staff, Bri Long, found last summer outside the business in Standish. They gave the lost stuffed animal a spa treatment before it was returned to its owner, a 7-year-old named Carter.

Carter's grandmother, Karin Hopkins Dickson, had posted a message on Facebook in the Standish Maine Community Page pleading for members to be on the lookout for Carter’s lost “Stuffy Puppy” he calls “Cheese Puff” that was last seen near a local restaurant and a barbershop in Standish.

“Cheese Puff” is a small brown stuffed dog with green and blue droopy ears, a blue nose and a prominent green eye. As it turned out, the restaurant and area where “Cheese Puff” was lost is adjacent to the Lavish Dog Day Spa and was where Long discovered Carter’s stuffed animal.

Once rescued by Lavish Dog Day Spa, the “Stuffy Puppy” was pampered by staff members as if it were a real canine complete with a bubble bath, a luxurious combing and then had a light blue bow tied around his neck. Brundage notified Carter’s mother, Kelly Perry, that “Cheese Puff” had been found and was ready to be reunited with Carter.

Once word of the act of kindness shown to “Cheese Puff” and Carter’s family by Lavish Dog Day Spa got out, members of the media thought it was a great story to tell their audiences. The story was filmed for different television segments that aired on News Center Maine, CBS This Morning and CNN.

The news also reached the desks of “The Kelly Clarkson Show” producers early last fall and they inquired if the dog groomers would be interested in doing another segment for their daytime program.

To be considered for an appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show, Brundage did a preliminary Zoom interview with Kelly Clarkson’s producers and agreed to be on the program with Carter and his mother.

“We filmed on Jan. 13 and it aired on Jan. 21,” Brundage said. “It was a Skype call from my house.”

She was not paid for being on the show but said that the segment they were featured on partnered with a company gifting $1,000, so she received $500 and the boy and his mother also received $500.

“I was pretty nervous since it is airing nationally, but I handled it well I think,” Brundage said. “I did get to practice with a producer beforehand which was very helpful. Everyone I dealt with during the experience was fantastic to work with.”

According to Brundage, who started her local dog grooming business in Windham before moving it to Standish and then acquired a second location in Raymond taking over when Julie Chouinard of Dog-Gone Grooming retired in December, she is pleased that her family living out of state did get to watch her appearance on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” when it aired nationally.

“I will obviously remember talking with Kelly Clarkson,” Brundage said. “And it was great to talk with Carter and his mom Kelly as well.”

She says appearing on the Kelly Clarkson Show was a wonderful experience and her advice for those about to appear on television coast to coast is rather simple.

“Just try to relax and enjoy the experience,” Brundage said. “It is easier said than done for sure, though.”

Brundage said that she hopes that the Lavish Dog Day Spa’s rescue of “Cheese Puff” also inspires others to be kind to others.

“I just love how something so simple and fun that we did is turning into such an inspirational story,” she said. <

Eagle Scout builds information kiosk at Tassel Top to benefit park and trail users

By Lorraine Glowczak

Jonah Martin stands beside the informational
kiosk he built for the Raymond Parks and 
Recreation Department as his Eagle Scout
Service Project. The kiosk, located at Tassel
Top Park off Route 302 just after the gated
entrance there, will provide trail information
and post town news and events.
SUBMITTED PHOTO
It has been said that Eagle Scouts will say the most rewarding requirement of becoming an Eagle - the highest achievement attainable in BSA (Boy Scouts of America) – is their service project. Although considered the most rewarding part of the BSA experience, very few members work toward the honorable rank. Jonah Martin of Raymond’s Troop 800 is among the special few, choosing to serve the Town of Raymond to fulfill his Scout Project requirements.

“Only about 8 percent of Scouts in the U.S. received their badge and became an Eagle Scout in 2019,” said Martin, who is a member of the 2021 graduating class at Windham High School.

Not only did Martin want to reach the Eagle rank because he was inspired to do so, but he lightheartedly admitted there was a little competition involved.

“Both of my brothers received the rank of Eagle, so I had to show them that I could do it too,” Martin said.

Although Martin speaks with jest about his service project, the process of obtaining an Eagle rank is an arduous one. Not only must an Eagle demonstrate proficiency in many different areas to include a leadership role within the local troop, but the Scout must also work on the project while continuing with schoolwork and other school-related activities.

The decision to reach out to the Town of Raymond was an easy one for Martin, first approaching the Public Works Department. “I wanted to do a project that would benefit Raymond because my experience living in this town has been a very positive one for me,” Martin said.

The public works department directed Martin to the Raymond Parks and Recreation Department’s (RPR) Director, Joseph Crocker. Since the RPR is newly created, becoming an official department of the town early last year in February 2020, officials at public works thought that recreation could benefit more from Martin’s Eagle Service proposal.

“There are a few small projects we have been considering, so I was very happy that Jonah reached out to the town,” Crocker said. “Public use of the trails through the wooded areas at Tassel Top have been extensive and we wanted to improve the user’s experience. After Jonah and I discussed some possibilities, we agreed an informational kiosk that could provide trail information and post town news and events would be beneficial for both Raymond and people who use the trails.”

Once the decision was made, then Martin quickly got to work which included raising funds needed for the building materials. “Jonah did a remarkable job with his fundraising efforts,” Crocker said. “We certainly worked together to bring the vision of a kiosk to life, but other than that – he did all the fundraising and physical work. He successfully made the kiosk happen and we are very happy with the outcome.”

Crocker and Martin wish to thank the Raymond Public Works Department for expanding the parking area near the kiosk, which is located off Route 302 and immediately after the gated entrance to the park.

Not only did Martin create a project that will be enjoyed by those who live in the area at the present time but will be appreciated for many generations to come.

“I had a running joke with Jonah,” Crocker said. “I told him that one day he will leave to explore the world and eventually meet that special someone. He will get married, have children and come back to Raymond to live, visiting Tassel Top from time to time, proudly and constantly reminding his children every time they visit, ‘Yep - I built that kiosk when I was a young.’”

After graduation this June, Martin will join the U.S. Coast Guard, and attend basic training this summer. He also plans to obtain his Emergency Medical Technician certification and be trained to work in the health services division of the Coast Guard.<

Spring Birdhouse Raffle a new fundraiser for Raymond Village Library

By Daniel Gray

Examples of birdhouses on display at the Raymond
Village Library are shown. A total of 20 pre-made
birdhouses have been handed out so far as 
part of a new fundraiser for the library. 
SUBMITTED PHOTO   
So far this year, there have been many new beginnings for residents and businesses alike. While the snow thaws early with hopes of more being blanketed across the state, Raymond has been creating some fun new traditions of their own so far this January.

Earlier this month, Raymond's Village Library located off Meadow Road, announced a new event they will be hosting aimed specifically toward crafters in the area. 

The Spring Birdhouse Raffle is a fun activity that the whole family can partake in to create a beautiful bird house to be a bird's future home, library officials said. Not only are the birdhouses designed fully by their creators, but the money made from the raffle is for a good cause. 

Casco resident and Raymond Village Library Director Allison Griffin said the library welcomes new initiatives such as the Spring Birdhouse Raffle.

"The birdhouse project is a new fundraiser for us this year. We have had a lot of positive feedback so far and are hopeful the raffle will be successful,” Griffin said. “In addition to raising funds to support library programs and services, we also hope the project will provide a fun activity for our patrons and community members.! We look forward to displaying all the creative designs in the library for our patrons to enjoy."

While this fundraiser is new to the library, people have already been flocking there to get themselves a birdhouse to decorate, along with viewing the birdhouses that have already been designed and returned to be viewed.

As of this week, a total of 20 pre-made birdhouses have been handed out, already reaching past the initial goal Griffin and the library staff had established.

 

According to Griffin, the birdhouses being handed out to the public have been voluntarily made by the Maine Wood Carvers Association.

 

The birdhouse raffle asks that creations be returned to the library by March 1, where they will be displayed to the public and then raffled out afterward.

The raffle tickets are $1 each with a deal of six tickets for $5. Each ticket can be placed toward a specific birdhouse in the raffle.  Winners will be notified via phone or email on April 4.

The Raymond Village Library's hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Griffin said that anyone is welcome to drop in to grab a book to read and a birdhouse to decorate.

 

She said that even though they have pre-made birdhouses on hand, the public is encouraged to create and submit a design of their own if they have the know-how and materials to do so.

 

For more information about the Spring Birdhouse Raffle, please visit www.raymondvillagelibrary.org.<

Windham Fire Department grateful for Hovercraft donation

Lee's Family Trailer Sales and Service donated this
four-passenger Neoteric Hovercraft to the Windham Fire
Department. It will allow fire and  rescue crews to be better 
able to respond to emergencies on and around bodies of
water. COURTESY PHOTO, DANIEL CRAFFEY  
By Elizabeth Richards

In a community with an abundance of recreational water bodies, safety can be a top concern. Through the donation of a four-passenger Neoteric Hovercraft, the Windham Fire Department will be more able to respond to emergencies on and around these bodies of water.

Daniel Craffey, the owner of Lee’s Family Trailer Sales and Service in Windham, said that they received the vehicle as a trade in. While they initially considered reselling it, he said, after looking online and seeing that it could be used for ice rescues, they quickly decided to donate it to the fire department instead.

This isn’t the first time that the company has donated a valuable resource to the community’s public safety personnel. They’ve also rebuilt a trailer, free of charge, for the police department.

“We’ve got some great employees here and they all live in the area,” Craffey said. “Windham’s been a great place to do business and we like to do stuff like that.”

The business has grown substantially, Craffey said, since he took over in 2017. “We’re doing really well here, and we want to pass it on,” he said.

A hovercraft vehicle is a machine that can operate on land, water, and even broken-up ice. A fan forces air under the machine, lifting it to float up to 9 inches above the surface on a cushion of air, according to the Neoteric website.

Windham Fire Chief Brent Libby said that until last year, the department hadn’t had a marine resource for several years. Last year, the department partnered with the Maine Forest Service, housing a 16-foot aluminum boat in return for access to that boat.

The hovercraft, he said, provides an additional marine resource that will be useful not only on open water, but especially on ice. Currently, if an incident occurs on the ice, the department would either need to get an airboat from the warden service or walk out in their gear, which could take a significant amount of time to reach someone in need of assistance.

Because a hovercraft is a specialized machine, training is required to operate it safely. Libby said that the department has reached out to Neoteric and are coordinating with them to have a representative come and do in-service training.

Libby said that the purchase of a hovercraft probably wouldn’t have been a direction the department went. Before partnering with the Forest Service, the department’s capital plan included acquisition of a boat.

“It’s maybe not something we would have gone for normally, but it will certainly be a huge asset to the community and the marine areas we have,” he said.  “It will take us a bit of time to get trained and comfortable with its operation, especially to function in emergency response, but it certainly will fill a void for us and I’m sure for our neighboring communities as well.”


According to Libby, area departments rely on each other for support, equipment and personnel in any major incident.

“This will just be another tool in that toolbox for all of us to have access to and utilize,” he said.

While they haven’t run the hovercraft yet to see what it can do, Libby said, the previous owner had used it on mud flats. The Windham fire department also reached out to other departments in the country to be sure it would be helpful for emergency response.

“Those agencies we spoke with have found it beneficial as well. We extend our appreciation and thanks to Lee’s Family Trailer for thinking of us, when they came across the piece of equipment, and recognizing that it might be helpful to us and the community,” Libby said. “We certainly appreciate that and their generosity in donating it to us.” <

Maine family seeks help with World War II photographs

U.S. Army Tech Sergeant Richard
Perkins of Maine is shown at
Fort Shafter, Hawaii during
World War II. When Perkins 
died at age 92 in 2014, he left
behind a trove of photos taken
of servicemen that his family
is trying to identify and share
with them. COURTESY PHOTO  
When U.S. Army veteran Richard Perkins of Maine passed away at the age of 92 in 2014, he left behind a treasure trove of hundreds of photos he took while stationed in Hawaii after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Perkins was a radio operator who was stationed at Fort Shafter in Honolulu, and he worked at an underground base inside of Diamond Head. Except for a few brief stories, he never talked much about his service to his family.

While cleaning out his house after he died, his daughter Alice Smith and his son Dana Perkins came across a large tin container full of rolls of film negatives that had been developed, but never converted into photographic prints.

Dana Perkins painstakingly scanned the negatives into his computer and converted them into hundreds of never-before-seen historical photos.

The people in the photos include veterans of the Army, Navy and Marines, as well as USO performers, civilians and children who lived in the area around the Army base of Fort Shafter. 

Alice and Dana have spent the last few years learning as much as possible about the people and locations in the photos. They have received a tremendous amount of help from Milton Migita, a curator at the Army Museum in Hawaii, as well as from the general public through online social media groups.

Their goal is to make all of the photos available to the public by compiling them in a book or through a website. The original negatives, photos, and three photo albums will then be donated to either the Army Museum or the National Park Service in Hawaii.

There are still a lot of people in the photos remaining to be identified. It is Alice and Dana's hope that someone in Maine will recognize their father, grandfather, uncle, mother, grandmother, aunt, or some other friend or relative in the photos. The photos can be viewed online at: www.WW2PacificVeteransProject.org

If you recognize anyone, please contact Alice Smith or Dana Perkins through the website, or by writing to them at: World War 2 Pacific Veterans Project, PO Box 789, Biddeford, ME 04005. <

Friday, January 22, 2021

RSU 14 families show support for remote learning

By Elizabeth Richards

Third-grader Kai Welch of Windham, left, is joined by his 
brother Harbor Welch, as they participate in remote learning
lessons at home offered by RSU 14 teachers. Kai's third-grade
classroom is taught by Jessica Melcher and has 27 students
from both Windham and Raymond.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SKYLAR WELCH 
Remote learning in RSU 14 is set up so that students have a teacher and a classroom community that they engage with daily. As the halfway mark approaches for the 2020-21 school year for the district, families from Jessica Melcher’s classroom shared their perspective on the experiences their children have had in the remote learning format.

Melcher teaches remote students in third grade with academic support from Wendy Bland.  The classroom has 27 students from both Windham and Raymond.

There were many factors that went into the decision to have their children learn remotely, families said.

Amber Carey, who has three school-aged children, said that they opted to go remote out of an abundance of caution and consideration for people in their lives in high-risk categories with whom they wanted to maintain contact.

Skylar Welch said her mother, who is a retired teacher, was providing after school care.

She’s high risk, so wouldn’t have been able to continue if the children were in school, Welch said. 

Now, her mother is helping Welch’s two children, who are in kindergarten and third grade, with their remote learning.

Consistency was another factor for families. Ashley Dorney said she remembered how hard it was to adjust last spring and felt like if her son got used to being at school again and they had to close, it would be harder than being home from the beginning.

“Especially now that there have been more and more cases at the schools, I’m no longer questioning if I made the right choice,” she said.

Jessica Dyer’s family had health considerations, and she also said they knew that there were many students with IEPs and learning differences who truly needed to be in person.

“We wanted to make sure that we left space for those children who did need the one on one,” she said.  “If I kept him home, that allowed one more space for another child to be there.”

Families and students from Melcher’s remote classroom say that the year has gone much better than many of them had anticipated.

Nicole Warner said she was worried after last spring, when her son didn’t do any schoolwork at all after March.  This year has been a much different experience, she said.

“It has been phenomenal,” she said.  “We have had nothing but a great experience thus far.”

Other parents of students who are remote learning agree.

“I have been surprised at how great it’s been going,” Welch said. “While of course I wish my kids were in school, I know that they’re home and they’re safe, they’re healthy. Having that peace of mind has been really important for me as a parent.”

Dyer also went into the year concerned after having issues last spring, including not having access to a computer.  This year, however, everyone was better prepared, and computers and supplies were distributed so they had everything they needed ahead of time, she said.

“It’s been much more organized and more of a steady flow,” she said.

Carey said that Windham Primary School, in particular, has provided a very effective model for remote learners.

“There is structure and consistency, online and offline assignments, comfort and competency with technology, support in every area, both engaging and activity-based options and enrichment opportunities across the board,” she said.

Students in Mrs. Melcher’s class agree. 

Moira Elder emphasized every syllable as she said, “It is a -ma – zing!”  Some of the things she enjoys about remote learning are the consistent schedule, being able to stay home, getting outside more, and being able to play with her cat whenever she wants.

Samantha Carey said remote learning works for her because she has everything she needs, can interact with others, knows what her assignments are, and “it’s really fun.”

Remote learning won’t work for every child and the experience will be different for each child.  And certainly, families said, the teacher can make all the difference. 

Families agreed that Mrs. Melcher is an excellent educator who gives each child the individual attention they need even with the large group.

“This teacher is amazing,” Warner said.  “She knows every single kiddo.  You can just tell she just knows so much about them.”

Dyer concurs.  Her son has faced some big struggles in previous years, she said, and distance learning has separated him from the negativity and allowed him to find his love for school again. Melcher, she said, took the time to get to know him, understand him, how he operates, and his learning style. 

Families said Melcher and other staff use breakout rooms efficiently to allow students to learn at an appropriate level.     

Moira’s mother, Jodi Elder, said that when things aren’t working, staff changes it. For instance, Moira was struggling in math a little, because she simply wasn’t enjoying it.  Now, Moira said, she works with another teacher one day each week, who “has these great, fun ways to do it.  My favorite was when we were doing multiplication in arrays and groups, she did it with angry cats.”

While families said children miss interacting with friends and peers, the remote team works hard to create experiences to allow for socializing. For Mrs. Melcher’s class, there is a Friday “Social Hour” with activities that change each week.

Remote learning, like all of the options this year, has challenges, but for some families, it’s truly the best option. 

“These teachers have had to completely overhaul, practically reinvent, their core practices,” Carey said.  “When we look at what they’ve done, it’s unbelievable to see the efforts that have been made. The kids are engaged, they’re enthusiastic, they’re happy and they’re doing good,” she said.

“Be it in-school or remote, there are educational challenges throughout,” Carey said. “My kiddos need support, and we aren’t acing it all, but we are doing our best. They won’t come away from this experience having not learned anything; they’ll come away having been enriched with new experiences we hope will foster more flexibility, patience, experience, and appreciation for what they have as it carries into the future of their personal educational journeys.”

Welch said, “It’s a great option for people and I think the school is doing an amazing job at adapting to each of the kids, adapting to the changes and still making it work with what they’re given.”

Perhaps the best endorsement comes from the students themselves.  Samantha Carey said she likes remote learning better than “real” school because she gets more support.

"Remote learning is the best choice for right now,” said Moira Elder.  “It’s a great experience for any child who loves home.” <

Adopt-A-Family organizers grateful for donations to holiday program

By Ed Pierce

Volunteers gather prior to the pick up of gifts for
recipient families of the Adopt-A-Family program
in December. Volunteers included Keith Mank,
Kaila Mank, Kelly Mank, Aaron Pieper, Nicole
Lewis, Meaghan Bisson, Monica Lewis, and 
Kim MacKaye. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
Never let it be said that residents of Windham and Raymond won’t step up to assist those in need. For the second consecutive year, a partnership between The Windham Eagle newspaper and the Windham Maine Community Board on Facebook set a goal to assist area families in need on Christmas and the community’s overwhelming response exceeded all reasonable expectations.

Through generous donations from the public and a financial boost from local businesses, the Adopt-A-Family program collected gifts and identified potential recipient families in late November and early December. Volunteers shopped for gifts and then spent hours sorting and wrapping presents for those in need.

“The 2020 Adopt-A-Family event was a great success this year. We had roughly 40 families that were adopted this year,” said Aaron Pieper of the Windham Maine Community Board on Facebook. “This is around three times as many recipients as the prior year. It was a wonderful thing to be part of and watch take place, with residents and businesses both taking part with either adopting families, through donation services as well as giving of their time.” 

Kelly Mank, publisher of The Windham Eagle, said it was humbling for the newspaper to team up with the Windham Maine Community Board on Facebook to support this year’s Adopt-A-Family program.

“This is such an unselfish, kind and positive community that genuinely cares about its neighbors,” Mank said. “We are truly grateful to everyone who made a donation or contributed to the success of the program in a really difficult year for so many.”

Mank said everyone who took the time to drop off a gift or donated to help purchase gifts or volunteered to help wrap gifts deserves the thanks on behalf of a grateful community.

“Year after year, residents of this community demonstrate compassion for others and kindness toward their neighbors,” Mank said. “It’s truly inspiring to see this effort come together for such a good cause every holiday season.”      

Volunteer Kim MacKaye of Windham said that the Adopt-A-Family initiative is meaningful to both recipients and for everyone who lives here.

“Every community is structured uniquely trickling down to how we already interact and how we can strengthen our connections with each other,” MacKaye said. “I realized two things through my own experience being a community member – there's a welcomed space for a grassroots approach to uplifting our neighbors and lots of community members want to find ways to do this outside traditional social service programs but don't know how. This program is about reaching the community in a boots-to-the-ground, low barrier, neighbor-to-neighbor way. There will always be a neighbor who wants to help and a neighbor who could really use it.”

MacKaye said that the program is an opportunity to reignite the spark every holiday season and beyond and is paving the way for the success of more community projects like this.

“The soul of this program is to remind people that giving back to your community isn't defined as ‘only these people can help and only these people can get help.’ It starts with a few neighbors having ideas and talking to a few more neighbors and you know how quickly word spreads around town,” she said. “Next thing you know, you've helped lift the spirit of a couple of hundred neighbors and from the seed of one idea.”

Pieper thanked MacKaye for pairing families with donors, handling all of the logistics for the program and scheduling drop-offs and pick-ups. He also said he appreciates the work that Mank and the staff at Time4Printing, The Windham Eagle staff, and Mank’s family that organized and kept track of the donations and wrapped gifts.

 

He also praised volunteers Nicole Lewis of Windham and her children who shopped for gifts and helped in wrapping them and Meaghan Bisson of Windham who also helped wrap gifts.

According to Pieper, these local businesses provided donations and helped to make this year’s Adopt-A-Family program a success: The Beacon Pizza; Binga’s Windham; Erik’s Church; McDonald’s; Wendy’s; Dr. Armstrong Advanced Dental Concepts; The Dental Office of Leslie Elston; Dr. Skvorak Pear Tree Dental; Just for Kids Pediatric Dentistry; Bombshell Salon; Crows Nest Barbershop; Janelle No. 5; The ManCave Hair Lounge; Windham Barber Shop; Siochanta Farm; Time4Printing; The Windham Eagle; and Walmart.

The Adopt-A-Family program was open to anyone in need in Windham or Raymond who applied for help. Gifts were picked up during the week of Dec. 14. <

Lifelong learning improves healthy mental wellbeing and inspires happiness

By Lorraine Glowczak

Windham Raymond Adult Education offers more
than 300 various learning opportunities annually
including how to speak English, complete a high
school credential, become a U.S. citizen, prepare
to go on to post-secondary education or training, 
or learn to hunt, paint, cook and many more.
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE  

“I am still learning.”

This quote has been attributed to several well-known geniuses such as Michelangelo and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Although they may have uttered and written those words during their lifetimes, the first known individual to capture the idea and importance of lifelong learning was the Roman philosopher, statesman and dramatist, Seneca. He wrote this often-quoted statement in a Letter to Lucilius, published around the year 65 AD, when he was almost 70 years old.

Although the perception is changing, it is widely believed that learning stops once the diploma, certification or degree is obtained. But this could not be further from the truth. In order to keep up with the ever-changing world, we constantly need to learn. However, there are many who yearn to continue discovering new things because, as studies have indicated, acquiring additional knowledge inspires creativity, promotes innovation, and increases self-confidence. Life-long learning even contributes to happiness and a healthy state of mental wellbeing.

In his research, U.S. News journalist Philip Moeller has written, “Education has been widely documented by researchers as the single variable tied most directly to improved health and longevity. And when people are intensely engaged in doing and learning new things, their well-being and happiness can blossom.”

Continuing to discover about the world around us also helps us learn more about ourselves, establishing a level of inner growth. It also makes us look at our actions in the world and what motives for those actions.

Tom Nash, Director of Windham/Raymond Adult Education, speaks to this idea from firsthand experience.

“Through my 30-plus years of serving various communities providing learning opportunities to people of all ages as a teacher and Director of Adult Education, I have learned some simple and profound truths,” Nash said. “We engage in learning and personally grow from it as a person, when it is relevant, meaningful and timely. We must also reflect upon those experiences and apply them in our lives for us to truly change.”

But what exactly is life-long learning and what does it look like?

“It can encompass so much,” Nash said. “The Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE) provides a clear and comprehensive picture of the state of adult learning and education (ALE) around the world. Aspects of education and lifelong learning they determined were of import to seek, to understand, and/or explore in one’s life included: Critical thinking and problem solving, political knowledge and civic engagement, personal development and human dignity, socio-emotional skills, intercultural dialogue and communication, prevention of violent extremism, community empowerment, gender equality, inclusion and equity, human rights, peace, justice and non-violence, globalization, climate change, disaster risk reduction, environmental protection, biodiversity and conservation, sustainable development.

Catherine Giuffre- Renaud, Adult Basic Education Coordinator, who is also from Windham Raymond Adult Education, added to Nash’s explanation.

Lifelong learning entails a desire to continue the pursuit of knowledge in whatever way that feeds the mind, body and soul. It can happen at any time and in any format, whether individually, in a group setting, in person, or virtually.”

But perhaps most importantly, lifelong learning can include just about anything. Nash encourages one to pursue what gives them joy and fills their cup.

“Read a book, play an instrument, practice and perfect your golf-swing, listen to a podcast, or join a live, on-line discussion group about any topic under the sun, engaging in lifelong, informal or formal learning can only help to enhance one’s life. As Shakespeare quipped, “The world is your oyster!” Explore it and you never know what you will discover. If the pearl is not there, alas don’t give up, but rather dig deeper for one knows not what awaits, but the thrill of the adventure and journey is worth it! Keep on seeking newfound truths and joys!”

There are many organizations right here in the Sebago Lakes Region that can provide opportunities to learn and grow – most of which are either free of charge or come with a nominal fee. The Windham Public and the Raymond Village Libraries are two prime examples. Although programming is currently limited due to the pandemic – one can still check out a book to learn a new skill or read something that challenges your point of view.

Also, Windham Raymond Adult Education (WRAE) offers more than 300 various learning opportunities annually. Whether you are seeking to learn how to read or speak English, complete a high school credential, become a U.S. citizen, prepare to go on to post-secondary education or training, learn to be a safe hunter, learn how to paint, prepare an ethnic meal, or take care of your mental and physical health through meditation or exercise classes, WRAE has more than enough opportunities to provide many lifelong learning experiences.

Whichever way one chooses to dive into the adventure of the mind or to uncover new experiences, sit back and watch your life, and your happiness, grow. <

Windham High Honors Society bottle drive boosts scholarship funds

By Daniel Gray

New Year’s Day this year was a special occasion for many globally. It's the start of a new beginning while the negatives of 2020 are sent off. On Jan. 1, many were celebrating in their own unique ways and Windham High School's Honors Society had their own special way to celebrate 2021 as well.

The Windham High School Honors Society is a group of well-rounded teenagers who are dedicated to better helping the community and individuals in it. Every year, they sell beautiful poinsettias during the holidays to raise funds for scholarships for selected classmates, and this year was no different. They sold their poinsettias but felt like there needed to be an addition.

Holden Anderson, the president of the Honors Society and a WHS senior, came up with the idea of creating an additional bottle drive to further raise scholarship funds.

Anderson played hockey in middle school and back then as a fundraiser, the team would go door to door after New Year's asking if people wanted to donate their empty bottles. Thinking back on this, Anderson brought up the idea to try something similar, but conducted at the high school.

His idea took off and soon the Honors Society vice president, Chloe Allen, was announcing it online to bring more attention to the event.

Asking why she promoted the event online on Facebook, Allen said she posted it on the Windham Maine Community Board Page because she though it would help significantly.

“I felt that we have a great community, and that the Windham residents would come help out our group,” Allen said. “I have been a part of the community board for a decent amount of time and knew how many people were in the group. I just knew that we have such a good community that would hear our call for help."

Their group leader and WHS history teacher, Brandon Champion, helped arrange everything and made sure everyone was safe, was practicing social distancing and not overwhelmed by the amount and sheer numbers of the glass bottles they were collecting.

During the drive itself, Champion drove back and forth to Patman's Redemption Center to help create space within the area they were working at the high school. 

They group collected numerous bottles, but their efforts were well worth it, Champion said. All told, the Honors Society earned a total of $550 through the bottle drive that will go toward college scholarships for WHS students.

Everyone connected to the bottle drive said that they were amazed when the news was broken of just how much they had earned through the initiative, especially the honor's society leaders. 

"I had no clue that we would get that much money, I thought $100 would be the maximum amount,” Allen said. “But everyone had bottles to give it seems, and a lot of people heard about our event."

Anderson agreed and said he was grateful to everyone who participated either by volunteering to help or for those who were willing to donate bottles to the effort.

“It's definitely a great feeling and I'm glad I was able to be part of the process,” he said. “College obviously isn't cheap, so even that amount can go a long way in helping a peer have the best experience possible in college."

The Windham High School Honors Society has some more plans for 2021 to do further community work and fundraisers for college scholarships and Anderson said that they will announce those initiatives to the community prior to them being conducted. <

Registration for Senior College classes available through Jan. 27

By Allen Crabtree

The Senior College at Bridgton will offer eight
virtual classes via ZOOM on Tuesdays and 
Thursdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m. from Feb. 2 to
Feb. 25. COURTESY PHOTO
Special to The Windham Eagle

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senior College at Bridgton is offering only limited enrollment ZOOM sessions during the month of February.

Classes for the autumn session are free to paid members and mail-in registrations are due by Jan. 27. 

Eight virtual classes will be offered on Zoom on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m. from Feb. 2 to Feb. 25.

Tuesday, Feb. 2 – 10 a.m.

Maine Turtles and the Turtles of Holt Pond Preserve

The summer of 2020 was like no other, but because of the inability to host public programs, LEA partnered with Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to conduct a 12-day turtle assessment at the Holt Pond Preserve. The data collected was added to a state-wide reptile and amphibian atlas. Learn about Maine turtles and their amazing adaptations all while in the midst of global change. Instructor Alanna Doughty

Thursday, Feb. 4 – 10 a.m.

Global Economic, Market and Geopolitical Outlook.

The instructor is the chief investment officer for R.M Davis wealth management and he will help participants to understand the economic world as it might look during and post pandemic. Instructor John Doughty

Tuesday, Feb. 9 – 10 a.m.

Poems of Spring

When we Mainers, deep in January and February, read the famous Shelley quote, Oh Wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind, we can’t be blamed for feeling that spring could be very far behind. There are, however, a multitude of excellent poems that celebrate the seasonal return of warmth and growth and keep us optimistic in the frigid grip of winter. This class will read and discuss a selection of the more well-known poems about spring and whet our anticipation for the coming months of April and May. The poems will be e-mailed as an attachment to each registrant.  Instructor Ken Gibbs

Thursday, Feb. 11 – 10 a.m.

Donald Baxter MacMillan, Arctic Explorer

Donald MacMillan spent nearly 50 years exploring the Arctic, from 1908 to 1954. This presentation features highlights from his boyhood in Provincetown, Massachusetts to his daring Arctic expeditions. He played a vital role in Robert Peary’s 1908-09 North Pole explorations plus many trips north in his schooner, the Bowdoin. His long career included pioneering the use of radio and aircraft in the Arctic, contributions to environmental science and cultural understanding of Arctic natives.  Instructor is Mary Morton Cowan.

Tuesday, Feb. 16 - 10 a.m.

Question of Principles

Political events are unique to a particular time and place, but there are underlying principles that are presumed to inform them. We’ll examine some of these principles as they may relate to the 2020 Federal election season.  Instructor Dee Miller.

Thursday, Feb. 18 – 10 a.m.

Tennessee Williams Movie Adaptations

Several of Tennessee Williams’ plays were adapted for movies, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof being two of the most popular. This class will look at how Williams dealt with, and often fought with, the screen writers and the censors that influenced the adapters, directors and producers.  Instructor Will Rhys.

Tuesday, Feb. 23 – 10 a.m.

Realism to Semi-Abstraction

This talk will be a conversation about the questions that an artist has to ask herself when she finds a subject she wants to paint. Will it be a faithful representation of the subject? Or does she wish to move a step or two away from the specifics? Then there is the choice of medium, colors and textures. Using three very different paintings, Evelyn will share the stages of developing each one, the very direct (objective) vs. the round-about (subjective) process of another.  Instructor is Evelyn Dunphy.

Thursday, Feb. 25 – 10 a.m.

Ghosts and Ghost Towns of the White Mountains

Whether or not you believe in ghosts, the legends of spirits who wander the White Mountains of Maine and New Hampshire remain fascinating. So are the tales of the towns where hundreds once labored, but now are no more than memories or sad foundations of buildings. This course will explore some of the many legends of this close-by mountain range. Perhaps, on future trips there, you will be more appreciative of what has gone before.  Instructor is Allen Crabtree.

The Senior College at Bridgton is the hometown program for anyone 50 years or older in Bridgton and surrounding Lakes Region communities to learn new things and meet new friends. Senior College has sessions in the spring, fall and winter each year that are designed to appeal to every interest.  Membership is open to any senior in the Lakes Region.

Reservation Forms are available at the Bridgton Library and at http://www.seniorcollegeatbridgton.org

Everyone should fill out the Reservation Form by Jan. 27 to reserve a space in the class(es) you wish and return the form with a $25 check for 2020-2021 membership to: Senior College at Bridgton, P.O. Box 308, Bridgton, ME 04009.

If you have questions, please contact Kappy Sprenger, Senior College Registration, at 207-647-5593 or by sending an email to seniorcollegebridgton@gmail.com

Class enrollments are limited to 25. Class spots will be allocated in the order your applications are received. A ZOOM link will be provided to those registered before the start of classes in February. <

Late-evening runs of Lakes Region Explorer temporarily halted

By Ed Pierce

The Regional Transportation Program has announced a temporary suspension of late evening runs of the Lakes Region Explorer bus service because of low ridership.

The Lakes Region Explorer bus that typically leaves Bridgton at 7:10 p.m. and the bus that leaves Portland at 8:40 p.m. were temporarily halted in December. The Lakes Region Explorer provides service along Route 302 from Bridgton to Portland, with stops along the way in Naples, Casco, Raymond, Windham, and Westbrook and is operated by the Regional Transportation Program

Low ridership has forced the Regional
Transportation Program to temporarily suspend 
late-evening runs of the Lakes Region Explorer
bus service between Bridgton and Portland. All
other regularly scheduled runs of the Lakes
Region Explorer will continue as usual.
COURTESY OF RTP   
Regular routes and service for the Lakes Region Explorer was curtailed last March because of the pandemic but was reinstated in May.

According to Jack De Beradinis, the executive director of the Regional Transportation Program, prior to the pandemic, the Lakes Region Explorer was providing about 10,500 trips annually.

“The first run leaving Bridgton at 6 a.m. and the return trip leaving Portland at 5:30 p.m. have been the runs most used,” he said.   

The overall bus capacity for the Lakes Region Explorer is 24 ambulatory seats and placements for two wheelchairs, but because of preventative social distancing as a result of the pandemic, the number of passengers has been limited.

“We are restricting ridership between six to 10 riders at one time in order to maintain the minimum 6-foot distance,” De Beradinis said. “In the summer we usually transport more than 15 riders at one time on these two runs.”

A posting on the RTP website indicated that the late evening suspension of Lakes Region Explorer runs will be resumed once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and ridership returns to its usual demand levels.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” the posting reads. “As always, we wish you all to stay safe and healthy!”

ADA transportation for those with disabilities offered by RTP in the Lakes Region has continued since travel restrictions were imposed by the state in March.

“The demand has been very limited, and we use taxis to transport these riders unless an RTP van is required,” De Beradinis said.

The fare for the Lakes Region Explorer for a one-way trip is $3 with discounts for monthly passes, seniors and students. Those who cannot afford the fare can ride free of charge.

Established in 1976, RTP was formed by combining the transportation services provided by the Portland Chapter of the American Red Cross, York-Cumberland Senior Services and the Social Services of the Greater Portland Transit District.

RTP is a United Way agency providing low-cost transportation to the elderly, social service agency clients, economically disadvantaged individuals and persons with disabilities throughout Cumberland County and serves a total of 27 communities. <

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.” <