Friday, September 17, 2021

Holiday lighting project seeks volunteers

PowerServe is seeking up to 60 volunteers for a project in
partnership with the Town of Windham next month to do prep 
work for lighting the trees in the 202/302 rotary in Windham
this Christmas. FILE PHOTO
By Ed Pierce

The calendar says September, but a local volunteer group is already making plans to lay the groundwork for lighting up the 202/302 rotary in Windham this Christmas.

In previous years, PowerServe, a youth volunteer event program, has partnered with businesses like Gorham Savings, Windham Rental, and many more, to help others in the town of Windham with outside projects and to be a light in the community.

“This year we have decided to focus on one project, the rotary on 202/302, and to partner with the town to help to bring more light to the trees there this Christmas and beyond,” said Samantha Patton of PowerServe.

Patton said that PowerServe is a YoungLife Sebago organized one-day event where volunteers serve Windham area organizations and individuals who need assistance with various tasks from painting, yard work, repairs, and much more.

“The first PowerServe event in 2016, originally began as a one-time occurrence in the spring of 2016 to honor a Windham High School student, Shane Donnelly, who had passed away suddenly,” she said. “After the initial volunteer effort, there were many requests for the event to happen on an ongoing basis. Through hundreds of volunteers and the sponsorship of local businesses such as Gorham Savings Bank, Windham Rental, Shaw EarthWorks, Home Depot, Sherwin Williams, and many more, it has now become an annual event.”

In 2019, PowerServe had about 230 volunteers working on 30 projects. 

According to Patton, about 60 teen and adult volunteers are needed for this year’s project which is set for Sunday, Oct. 3 at the 202/302 rotary.
“We need your help. We will be doing the prep work to be able to light up the trees in the 202/302 Rotary in Windham,” she said. “We need 60 people to help dig, rake, glue, and assemble. If you are willing to help, we can find a job for you. Our goal is to lay the groundwork for licensed electricians to provide outlets for lighting up the trees. This project is a partnership with the Town of Windham.”

She said that two three-hour volunteer shifts are available between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Oct. 3.

The goal of the project is to have an outlet at each outer ring tree of 10 and three outlets in the center of the trees in the center of the rotary which can also possibly provide a beautiful site to view during other seasons of the year, Patton said.

“PowerServe volunteers will do the ground prep work then the town’s specialists will take over from there at a later time. With the health concerns in 2020, we were not able to meet so we wanted to make sure this year we stayed mindful of everyone's health; physical and mental, and decided to choose one project that will do just that,” she said. “With everything going on, we need light and hope surrounding our community. What better way to do that than partner with the Town of Windham to upgrade the long-term electricity to the rotary off 302 and light up the trees for all to see. This project includes digging the trenches, gluing, and laying conduit, and backfilling.” 

Young Life Sebago is a Christian-based outreach to teenagers that provides four basic things to kids.

First, they provide positive adult role models to go through life with young people. Second, they provide fun and positive ways to spend time through weekly programs and a summer camp, Patton said.

“Thirdly, they guide them through finding practical everyday tools and resources that they can use as they grow and become stronger in the community and in life,” she said. “Finally, YoungLife provides the basis of the Christian faith in a way that allows students of any background to hear about faith and then make their own decisions about what to do with that information.”

For more details about this year’s PowerServe project or to sign up to volunteer or become a sponsor, visit www.powerserve.me. <

Never forget: Veterans remember 9/11 victims and those who have died in Afghanistan

Veterans from American Legion Post 148 and
VFW Post 10643 gathered at the Windham
Public Safety Building on Saturday, Sept. 11
to remember those lost on 9/11 and in
Afghanistan and pay tribute to first
responders in Windham. COURTESY PHOTO 
By Collette Hayes

The late U.S. President John F. Kennedy once said, “The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it.” On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States last Saturday, veterans from American Legion Post 148 and VFW Post 10643 in Windham gathered at the Public Safety Building on Gray Road and stood in tribute to those who have paid the high price of freedom.

A contingent of veterans stood in silence for 15 minutes to reflect and to remember service members lost in the 20-year war including the 13 service members fallen in the recent events in Afghanistan and for those first responders lost in the tragic moments when the Twin Towers fell in New York City on 9/11.

On the solemn 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, veterans as well as representatives from Windham’s local police and fire departments gathered outside the Windham Public Safety Building to honor those fallen while serving to protect America’s freedom.

“American Legion stands for 100 percent Americanism and to remember all wars,” said David Tanguay, American Legion District Two Adjutant and Field-Allen Post 148 Adjutant. “We are here to honor those first responders to the 9/11 attacks who did not run from the tragic events but ran forward to save lives. Each day we should thank our first responders for their sacrifice and for protecting our communities. The cry at the time of the 9/11 event was ‘We shall never forget.’ I pray that on this 20th anniversary of the attacks, the nation will again come together and remember.”

The group recalled all first responders that lost their lives when they entered the twin towers and more than 300 others who have perished as a result of lingering health issues from that day.

“We are honored that American Legion veterans are thinking of us on the 20-year anniversary of 9/11,” said Brent Libby, Fire and Rescue Chief for the Town of Windham. “Three Hundred Forty-Three firefighters and over 72 police officers gave their lives. These individuals should definitely be acknowledged and remembered for their sacrifice.”

Throughout the tribute, 13 veterans stood in a flag line holding United States flags in memory of the most recent fallen.

“I would like to take a moment to remember the 13 service members lost on the last days of the drawdown of troops in the protracted war in Afghanistan,” Tanguay said. “The flag line today is in place to remember their service as well as to honor all service members lost in the 20-year war as well. I ask the flag line to stand in silence for the next 15 minutes,” he said. “We would like to honor this time with prayer, reflection and remembrance for their sacrifice and also to remember their families in this time of grief.”

Navy Seal Jeff Cook, now retired after 26 years of military service, was 40 years old when he first went to Afghanistan.

“I was part of the group that was sent to build the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan which was the epicenter of the war against the Tailban and al-Queda for 20 years,” he said. “During this time, many military service young men and women tasked with this job, died. It is important that we remember them for their sacrifice.”

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, those attending the event reflected, remembered and honored all Americans who have acknowledged that freedom isn’t free and responded to President Kennedy’s request to “Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” <

Friday, September 10, 2021

Windham resident striving to make a difference in our communities

Windham resident Chelsie Potter is a team
captain for the Out of the Darkness Greater Portland
Area Walk to promote suicide awareness on Sept.
19 in Portland. She's also heading up a bottle
drive to raise money for the American
Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
SUBMITTED PHOTO  
By Collette Hayes

Windham resident Chelsie Potter has been participating in charity work for most of her life. She has participated in bottle drives, food pantries, soup kitchens, a number of charity walks, fundraisers and local events to support local and national non-profit organizations and currently she is a team captain for the Out of the Darkness Greater Portland Area Walk to promote suicide awareness.

The event will be held Sept. 19 in the Fort Allen Park, Eastern Promenade in Portland. The walk is in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s bold goal of reducing suicide by 20 percent by 2025.

Potter is collecting donations for the event as well as sponsoring a glass bottle donation fundraiser. The deadline for making a donation to her initiative is Sept. 16 and she says that 100 percent of the money received will be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

She’s continually looking for ways to personally improve herself so she can make a positive contribution to the lives of others. A few years ago, Potter completed training to become a Personal Support Specialist, allowing her to provide in home care and companionship to a number of senior citizens.

In addition, she has participated in training and has completed several walks and fundraisers for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Foundation as well as the Alzheimer’s Foundation and the Red Cross. Recently, Potter completed suicide prevention training from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and decided to collect donations for the foundation.

The Maine Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention focuses on innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs and reaching out to those who have lost someone to suicide.

According to Potter, a goal of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is to teach individuals how to start a needed conversation that might be difficult.

“If you feel someone might be struggling in some way, it is important not to be afraid to ask how they are doing beyond how are you,” Potter said. “Normalizing difficult conversations provides hope to those struggling. We have to dig deeper and connect with people on a more emotional level. Being willing to be vulnerable and to have those needed conversations might save a life.”

Many times, suicide is the result of the response to a traumatic event, Potter said.

“Often times individuals have no idea how to handle a situation when something goes horribly wrong like losing a loved one, experiencing a tragic accident or when one is being left behind,” she said. “During those challenging life events, individuals need resources for coping and a strong external support system available to them.”

Everyday events such as returning to school for students this fall during the Covid-19 pandemic, can increase fear, stress and worry for many parents and students, Potter said.

Teachers can help children with the transition from home to school by promoting social and emotional learning in the classroom. With the right educational support system including well-established and consistent daily procedures and routines that support expectations, students can become part of a strong classroom community where they feel safe to learn new things and thrive.

Potter said that she is sponsoring a glass bottle donation as well as collecting donations for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. If you are interested in donating to this cause, text her  at 207-699-6339.

To learn more about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, call Shamera Simpson at 603-318-6517. Maine provides a Crisis Hotline for those needing immediate help, 1-888-568-1112. <

Slate of candidates set for Windham town election in November

The field of declared candidates has been finalized for
Windham's town and state election to be held on Tuesday,
Nov. 2 in the Windham High School Auxiliary Gym. Voters
will fill three town council seats, two RSU 14 Board of 
Directors positions and the Windham Town Clerk position
in the election. FILE PHOTO  
By Ed Pierce

The list of candidates for public office in Windham has been finalized and includes a few incumbents seeking re-election and some new faces hoping to obtain enough votes to be elected to available positions.

After filing paperwork with the town clerk’s office by the established deadline of Sept. 3, the candidates will now embark upon their campaigns after being officially placed on the ballot by Windham Town Clerk Linda S. Morrell.

The election will be on Tuesday, Nov. 2 in the Auxiliary Gym at Windham High School. Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Morrell said that as of Tuesday, there are 14,447 registered voters in Windham, but she’s not expecting a large turnout for this election.

“I would expect between the absentees and in-person voting at the polls about 2,500 to 3,800 votes which has been the turnout in the past,” Morrell said. “If anything brings them out, it will be Question 1 on the state ballot. I don’t think the candidate ballot will generate too much interest.”

Question 1 on the state ballot asks voters if they want to ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region and to require the Maine Legislature to approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land.

Local candidates on the November ballot include incumbent David J. Nadeau, who is running unopposed for the Windham Town Council’s At-Large seat for a three-year term.    

Nadeau currently serves as the chair of the Windham Town Council and has been a town councilor for 10 years and previously spent 10 years as a member of Windham’s Planning Board. He was a recipient of the Maine Planners Association’s Citizen Award in 2020 for his long-term vision for the community, volunteerism, mentoring other volunteers and elected officials as well as going above and beyond in understanding planning initiatives and goals of Windham’s future success.

Incumbent Edward M. Ohmott is seeking a one-year term on the council for an At-Large position.

Ohmott was appointed to fill the At-Large vacancy on the council during a meeting on May 25 following the resignation of Councilor David Douglass.

He previously served on Windham’s Smith Cemetery Committee and Long-Range Planning Committee. Since his appointment to the council, Ohmott has been a member of the town’s Marijuana License Fee Committee.

He’s the former president of Champion Cordage, an industrial supplies and equipment firm in California.

No declared candidate filed paperwork for the Windham Town Council’s West District for a three-year term. The position is currently held by Timothy Nangle, but he did not file papers for re-election. Nangle has been serving as the council’s parliamentarian. 

Morrell, Windham’s longtime Town Clerk, filed paperwork seeking re-election to the position. Morrell originally spent eight years as a ballot clerk during Windham elections, then worked as a deputy clerk for the Town of Windham for seven years. She has served the last 27 years as Windham’s Town Clerk overseeing elections and the town clerk’s office at the Windham Town Hall. 

Incumbents Jennie Butler and Christina Small are seeking re-election for three-year terms as RSU 14 board directors. Two seats on the board are up for grabs with six declared candidates.

Butler taught math at the high school level for 31 years and part-time at the University of Southern Maine. She has formerly been a candidate for the Maine Legislature.

She’s known for her belief that Maine needs to provide a well-rounded education for jobs which will bring young families to Windham and says an excellent education is needed for good paying jobs which include skilled trades and for jobs that don’t exist yet.    

Small was appointed to the school board in early 2020 and is a stay-at-home mom who has lived in Windham for eight years.

Small says she believes public education is an investment and was proud to work with the board to create a responsible budget that voters approved even amid the economic uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.  Her priorities include helping to align RSU 14’s procedures with ever-changing regulatory guidelines, and continuation of the district’s Social Emotional Learning work.  

Also vying for seats on the board are Barbara Bagshaw; Jessica M.H. Bridges; Carrie S. Grant; and Michael Pasquini.

The Windham Eagle will offer an in-depth look of all declared candidates prior to the election. <

Friday, September 3, 2021

Tu Casa Childcare kids learn the power of positive thinking and taking action

Children in Guatemala react online after receiving Eugene 
and Quinton Harmon's drawings that were sent with needed
money to buy groceries for a struggling family there through
a donation program launched by Tu Casa Childcare in
Raymond. SUBMITTED PHOTO
By Collette Hayes

Tu Casa Childcare kids and families are now leaders in making a difference in the Raymond community and in the small town of Ciudad Vieja in Guatemala.

Through the Tu Casa Cares donation program, Tu Casa Childcare kids and parents have been invested in helping to pay off the school lunch debt at Raymond Elementary School as well as provide groceries for Guatemalan families who are having a hard time making ends meet.

Tu Casa Childcare is located in Raymond and is nestled among a natural playground environment filled with trees, boulders, vibrant plants and a well-mannered little stream. In English “tu casa” means your house. That is exactly how it feels walking down the stone path to the front door and being greeted by Grace Emery-Freyre the owner, a teacher and the creator of the Tu Casa Cares donation program. Sunlight filters in through the large windows of Tu Casa warming each interest area in the learning environment. The setting is ideal for children who want to explore, create, experiment, and pursue individual interests.

Sitting in a student size chair next to a colorful community gathering carpet, Freyre talked of her love for the outdoors, integrating art into science, the jungles of Costa Rica and the children and families of Guatemala. As she talked, she reflected about how she incorporated these interests into creating the Tu Casa Cares program.

“The main objective of the Tu Casa Cares program is to get children involved in their community and to provide the children with a sense of global awareness,” Freyre said. “Tu Casa kids are participating as pen pals by sending messages and their art work to children in Guatemala along with the funds being sent to buy groceries and needed items.”

 Tu Casa Cares is a donation program receiving donations from Tu Casa Childcare parents as well as local businesses in Raymond. Recently, half the donations were targeted to Raymond Elementary School in RSU 14 to help pay lunch debt. According to Freyre, children in RSU 14 schools will receive free lunch again this year, but in many of these schools there is still outstanding lunch debt from previous years.

The other half of the donations are aimed at Guatemalan families who are struggling to make ends meet. 

According to Freyre, Andrea del Rosario Castillo, a volunteer firefighter, paramedic student, and mother who lives in Guatemala, has agreed to receive funds wired to them on a monthly basis.

“She buys groceries, prints drawings and messages from the Tu Casa Childcare kids, packs goods in baskets purchased at the local artisan markets and distributes the goods to families that are having a difficult time making ends meet,” Freyre said. “She provides crayons and paper for the children in the Guatemalan families to send drawings back to the children at Tu Casa Childcare. She is thrilled and thankful for this opportunity to make a difference.”

Ciudad Vieja is a town and municipality in the Guatemalan department of Sacatepéquez. According to the 2018 census, Ciudad Vieja has a population of 32,802 and the municipality has a population of 33,405. It was the second site of Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, the colonial capital of the country.

With the help of Cathy Gosselin, Deputy Chief at Raymond Fire and Rescue Department, the next phase of the Tu Casa Cares program will provide local support to members of the community.

“It is an exciting next step for us in making Tu Casa a place that provides for the community in a variety of ways while teaching the children the power of positive thinking and action,” Freyre said. “Gosselin will provide information about Raymond community members in need and Tu Casa parents, their children and other volunteers will help to meet those needs which could be anything from shoveling sidewalks, preparing meals to grocery shopping. We would like to get others in the community involved as well. The more funds we generate, the more we can do.”

If you would like to help support Tu Casa Cares, send an email to tucasachilcare@gmail.com or give Grace Freyre a call at 207-396-0256. < 

 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Teacher reaches four-decade milestone as a Windham educator

By Ed Pierce

If the purpose of life is finding your gift to give to others, Nancy Cash-Cobb has certainly found her calling.  After more than 40 years as a teacher in Windham, she’s eager to get started for yet another school year, inspiring students through music at Windham Primary School.

Growing up in Portland, Cash-Cobb developed an appreciation for music at an early age thanks to her parents.

Nancy Cash-Cobb has been teaching RSU 14 students for more
than 40 years and is currently the music teacher at Windham
Primary School. She has taught music there since the school 
first opened about two decades ago. SUBMITTED PHOTO 

“We sang in the car a lot,” Cash-Cobb said. “My dad played piano and violin by ear and my mom played piano and sang in choirs all of her life. I spent my childhood attending concerts and musicals. We loved it.”

Her interest in music grew when she sang in the chorus and played in the orchestras at Longfellow Elementary School, Lincoln Junior High School and Deering High School. She made the decision to attend college and wanted to follow in the footsteps of her teachers by becoming one herself.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in music education and a master’s degree from the University of Southern Maine.

Her first teaching job was for two years in Sacopee Valley in Western Maine, but in 1981 she landed a job as an elementary school teacher in Windham, and she’s been here ever since.

“When I first came to Windham I taught K-4 at Manchester School, then Arlington School, Field Allen School, John Andrew School and the Kindergarten Center,” Cash-Cobb said. “I helped design the music rooms at Windham Primary School and have taught there since it opened.”

Through the years, Cash-Cobb has been a champion for music education in the school district.

“Music enhances our lives and has the power to fill our hearts with joy as no other medium can,” she said. “Music improves connections in the developing brain and helps our problem-solving skills. Music is truly the heart in education.”

She’s Orff music education certified from Long Island University, Hamline University and the University of Illinois, and helped found the Maine Chapter of The American Orff-Schulwerk Association in 1987. That’s an organization of American music educators dedicated to using, advancing, and preserving Orff-Schulwerk, a developmental learning approach to music education created by composer Carl Orff and German music educator Gunild Keetman.

Cash-Cobb has been an active member of the Maine Music Educators Association Executive Board for 35 years and in 1999 was honored as Maine Music Educator of the Year. She’s currently serving as the Co-Conference Chair of the Maine Music Educators Association and is a longtime member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 148 in Windham. In fact, the Maine American Legion honored her at their annual convention in 2017 as “Maine American Legion Educator of the Year for 2017.”

According to Cash-Cobb, professional development offered by the school district has helped her sustain her career as an educator.

“In my opinion, the secret to my teaching so long in one place is professional development and keeping current and up to date with the best teaching practices,” she said.

In a lengthy career filled with memorable moments, Cash-Cobb says that she’s extremely proud of her work with younger students and opening their eyes to a lifetime of music.

“I still get teary eyed when I hear my students singing,” she said. “My favorite concerts have been the exchange concerts that we do within the district, especially the third-grade chorus with the Windham Chamber Singers. We have been doing that one for probably 30-plus years.”

Under her direction, student concerts at Windham Primary School are the stuff of legends, with three nights of Christmas concerts performed each year. WPS students at each grade level also perform annual concerts of their own with first, second and third grade concerts taking place in March and the annual kindergarten concert performed each May. 

As for her own musical ability, Cash-Cobb will admit to preferring vocals above all else.

“I am first and foremost a singer,” she said. “I play guitar and piano. I grew up playing the violin.”

In case anyone is wondering, her current favorite song to teach to her students is "Elephants have Wrinkles.”

She said there are too many school administrators to choose from to thank for helping her during her career, but she’s grateful for all of their assistance and understanding.

As far as her own favorite musicians, Cash-Cobb said one immediately comes to mind.

“John Denver is my all-time favorite composer and performer,” she said. “I have performed many of his songs at weddings and other events. I also enjoy performing Christian music.”

Family and faith in God have also been instrumental in her long and distinguished musical career. She and her husband, Jerry Cobb, enjoy being actively involved in music for their church and their daughter Sara is a pediatric registered nurse.

The family supports her work as a teacher and when school is out for the summer they enjoy traveling together, especially to Disney World in Florida and to visit relatives out of state.

Besides music, Cash-Cobb also likes swimming or kayaking on the lake and spending time with her 2 ½-year-old grandson, Jacob.

“His father is 6-foot-4 and Jacob is nearly as tall right now as I am,” she said.

Her current principal at Windham Primary School, Dr. Kyle Rhoads, said that Cash-Cobb has left an indelible impression upon her students over the past four decades teaching in Windham.

“Even after 40 years, Mrs. Cash-Cobb’s energy and enthusiasm for learners loving music remains at an unbelievable level,” Rhoads said. “Her passion and care for them shines brightly. A mark of a wonderful educator. What a legacy our learners have had by her teaching.”

RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools Christopher Howell said that Cash-Cobb can take pride in what she has accomplished as a teacher and playing a part in their educational development while leading them to  an appreciation of music.

“We are proud of the work that Nancy has done over her 40 years in our district. I am truly in awe of the number of students that she has taught and inspired over her career as an elementary music teacher,” Howell said. “She has worked throughout her career to develop and foster a strong musical foundation in her students. Her dedication has set the groundwork that ultimately develops into the talented musicians that RSU 14 is known for.” <