Friday, December 30, 2022

2022 Year in Review (Part Two)



Project relocates blacksmith shop to RCHS museum

The Raymond Casco Historical Society has disassembled and will restore the Watkins Blacksmith Shop at the society’s museum in Casco.

During a special ceremony on Sept. 17, Windham Fire Chief
Brent Libby honored the efforts of Lowe's employees, 
community residents and public safety personnel in saving
the life of a man who collapsed in the Lowe's parking lot
in July suffering from cardiac arrest. Their quick actions
saved the man's life and he was on hand to thank his
rescuers for their kindness. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE      
Steeped in history, the blacksmith shop is quite possibly the oldest blacksmith shop still in existence in Maine, first opened in the 1850s by William Watkins and was in use right up until the 1940s. Footage of the blacksmith’s forge and shop was included in a 1922 silent movie called “Timothy’s Quest” and it once was part of a thriving rural community in Casco, but over the past eight decades, the building has slowly become a crumbling relic of Maine’s past. That is, until an idea about moving the building was pitched to Frank McDermott, president of the historical society.

“For the first time in nearly two hundred years, those traveling across Quaker Ridge in Casco will no longer start their journey with the familiar view of William Watkin’s Blacksmith Shop sitting on its knoll overlooking the village,” McDermott said.

According to McDermott, the project was launched last fall when Steve Linne, the owner of the blacksmith shop, offered to give it to the Raymond-Casco Historical Society if it could be moved by Aug. 1 of this year. McDermott, the former Raymond Schools superintendent, who has led the historical society for the past four years, immediately saw the potential of moving the blacksmith shop to the society’s museum on Watkins Farm in Casco, restoring it and using it for live demonstrations for the public.

“I haven't been as enthusiastic about a project in many years as I am about this,” said McDermott. “I see this as the reincarnation of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society, and the reason I say that’s because I see us moving from a static museum where you go and stand and look, to rather a place where you go to both do and learn something.”

He pitched the idea to the historical society’s board of directors, and they liked the idea of relocating and turning it into a working blacksmith shop. Over the next several months, new rough-cut hemlock flooring will be installed, the unique split stone foundation will be painstakingly reassembled on its own frost wall, and the ox lift will be hoisted back into place to await further restoration, McDermott said. Further, he said that once the building has been made weather tight, work will commence to recreate the interior of the shop.

Windham dedicates new Public Safety Building

During a special dedication ceremony on July 13, Windham town officials, construction crews and town residents heard about what went into the decision to renovate and expand the Windham Public Safety Building on Gray Road and celebrated its completion.

The construction work for the $4.3 million expansion and building renovation was performed by Great Falls Construction of Gorham and began with groundbreaking in July 2021. It added a 15,247-square foot renovation to the existing 17,000-square-foot Public Safety building which houses space for first responders for both the Windham Fire Department and the Windham Police Department.

During the project, workers finished a two-story 5,840-square-foot addition that houses five apparatus bays, a new public safety decontamination space, bunk rooms, kitchen, and offices for the Windham Fire Department, created a new 1,305-square-foot standalone three-bay space for vehicle and evidence storage for the Windham Police Department, and installed a second elevator for the building.

Remodeling work was also performed throughout the entire building as workers installed HVAC and lighting upgrades to increase building efficiency and updated other areas during the project, including a revised locker room space; created an additional 10 new public parking spaces and addition of a new 1,305-square-foot, single-story secured evidence locker for police; additional employee parking; an outdoor patio space; a new dumpster area; and installation of a new generator for the reconfigured facility.

Back in 2020, Windham residents approved up to $4.9 million in bonds during the Annual Town Meeting for capital improvement projects, and that included funding the expansion for the town’s Public Safety Building. The additional funding for the building’s renovation was derived from town impact fees for new town residential developments and new commercial buildings.

“The need for this was obvious,” said Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts during the dedication event. “This building needed to be worked on. We chose not to tear it down, but to remodel it and make it work for the future.” The existing structure was originally built in 1988 at a time when none of the town’s firefighters were full-time staff members and Windham only had about 15 or so police officers on duty. The town now employs 20 professional firefighters while the town’s police force has doubled in size to 30 officers. <

Town of Raymond puts donated school bus to good use

Last fall, RSU 14 donated a 2012 International school bus from its fleet to the Raymond Parks and Recreation Department and it’s a substantial gift that town residents should take pride in. Raymond Parks and Recreation Director Joe Crocker says the idea to acquire a bus for the town came about after exploring ways to get skiers to Shawnee Peak for a recreational trip.

“We looked into renting a bus, but the quotes we received were very high,” Crocker said. “That’s when we started looking into obtaining an old school bus to lower the costs.”

Crocker said Raymond’s Public Works Director Nathan White spoke with RSU 14 transportation officials and rather than send the aging bus to salvage, the school district chose to donate it to the town.

Once acquired, the vehicle was repainted in Gorham and then earlier this summer, Raymond Parks and Recreation graphics were applied by Time4Printing of Windham.

“It didn’t take very long at all for them to do that, in fact, we probably got it back in about a day,” Crocker said. “They did an amazing job.”

The bus has about 120,000 miles on it and the bus itself is probably worth between $10,000 and $20,000. Obtaining this vehicle gives the Raymond Parks and Recreation Department plenty of flexibility and the town now all exterior and mechanical maintenance on it, keeping expenses down.

The community will see almost immediate results from the bus including partnering with the Windham Raymond School Age Child Care Program to help out with after school transportation needs in Raymond and using the bus at Tassel Top Park.

“Just having this bus now opens up many different possibilities for the Parks and Recreation department,” he said. “We can plan ski trips, shopping trips and use the bus for so many events that we couldn’t offer previously.”

Crocker says Raymond residents are grateful to RSU 14 for the bus donation and it demonstrates how successfully that the school district and the town can work together on behalf of the entire community. <


Windham teen wins prestigious pageant

Rosie Haibon of Windham set off to accomplish competing in a pageant and winning it. She entered the ‘Young American Women of Service Teen’ pageant at the DoubleTree Hotel in South Portland and was thrilled to be declared as the winner. When Haibon was crowned Miss Maine Teen a little more than a year ago, she signed a contract that stipulated she would have to compete in the ‘Young American Women of Service Teen’ pageant and became the first Windham woman to win the title.

Over the span of the week-long competition, Haibon participated in the pageant rehearsals and fun parties. In total, there were about 100 women competing and all varying in age and origin and from different countries. Each participant had gone through a state pageant and had won for their division. There were girls from almost every state, and a few girls from Canada and South America.

“This was the final tier in our pageant system, I am officially at the top of our pyramid. Our prize package is huge and is so incredible,” says Haibon. “I will receive a scholarship for school, modeling opportunities, and various other surprises throughout the year! Our director really likes keeping our gifts a secret.”

Haibon says that anyone can do pageants, no matter your physical or mental state.

“Everyone can do well in pageants, and I think it should be something you do once in your life. It’s such a blast to do and it gives you a family of sisters like no other. I was crowned as someone who is a size 12 dress, and as someone with autism. If you had told me when I was little that I would be an international titleholder, I never would have believed you. But here I am today,” she says.

She believes that everyone should do pageants, not just for the crown or title, but for the experience that you get when you do this.

“This is so amazing and something that Maine and the United States should be very proud of! I was selected out of girls from different areas of the world. I’m so excited to have this honor and to be this representative,” Haibon said. “I’m so proud to be representing Maine like this and to bring this honor to our state. Thank you to everyone who has supported me during this incredible journey, I could not have done this without your love and support. Remember to love who you are, you’re beautiful and perfect just the way you are.” <

Windham’s Keddy Mill site to be cleaned up, demolished

An agreement has been reached to clean up and demolish the old Keddy Mill site in South Windham under an initiative to protect human health and the environment.

Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ITT LLC, the company responsible for the 6.93-acre site and structure off Depot Street in South Windham, say that the former industrial building on the site will be razed and contaminated materials there will be removed. Testing has determined that the two-story concrete industrial structure on the property contains elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, and other contaminants known to pose a risk to human health and the environment.

Located at 7 Depot St., the crumbling two-story concrete building at the site is thought to have been built in the early 20th century, although mill operations at that location date to the mid-1800s. Throughout the site’s history, several buildings have been constructed there and added to the mill complex.

Originally the mill was used as a grist and carding mill before being converted to a pulp mill, a box-board manufacturing facility and a steel mill. The site is in a mixed commercial/residential area in South Windham and is bounded by Depot Street to the north, a former Maine Central Railroad right-of-way to the east, and undeveloped property and the Presumpscot River to the south, and by Route 202/Main Street and an operational hydroelectric facility to the west.

Use of the site for various industrial activities began in 1875, with its primary industrial use being for metal fabrication starting in 1945. The Keddy Mill Company began a metal manufacturing operation there in the 1960s which continued into the 1970s. Through the process of transforming scrap metal into products, electrical capacitors and transformers containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were used there. The building sits on a concrete/soil foundation and contains a full basement. The EPA reports that no wells or known private drinking water sources are situated close to the location.

Under the Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent reached between the EPA and the responsible party, the cleanup work will be done in compliance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly known as the "Superfund," and ensures that the cleanup will protect human health and the environment. Cleanup work is expected to be phased, initially consisting of pre-design investigation activities, beginning this year. <

Windham fifth on®’s Hottest ZIP Codes list

Windham, one of the communities served by members of the The Greater Portland Board of REALTORS® has been ranked No. 5 out of 29,000 ZIP Codes analyzed in the eighth annual® Hottest ZIP Codes Report released in August.

In the top 10 ZIPs, homes sold in just over a week (eight days) and received nearly four times (3.7) more buyer views than a typical U.S. listing.

A key theme of this year’s ranking is demand from out-of-ZIP home shoppers, driven by factors including relative affordability and convenient travel to bigger economic and population centers.

“Windham has grown so much. I remember saying to my business partner about 10 years ago, 'just wait and see, Windham is the next hotspot.' I could tell by watching the other local markets spill over into this area. Windham has a very tight community between the residents and businesses who care about each other, said Lisa DiBiase, co-owner and broker of Landing Real Estate with Matt DiBiase.

She said that Windham has something to appeal to almost everyone. "Windham has so much to offer with lakes of all sizes for everyone including a downtown area with a ton of locally owned shops mixed with large shopping, restaurants, annual Summerfest, golfing nearby. What’s not to love!” Lisa DiBiase said.

With rising inflation and mortgage rates squeezing monthly housing budgets, this year’s determined buyers are breathing new life into competition for homes in these top 10 ZIPs, said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for®. <


Windham veteran to lead American Legion as National Commander

A Windham resident who understands that freedom requires a huge commitment and responsibility is now leading the American Legion veteran’s organization as its National Commander. Vincent “Jim” Troiola was elected to the position during the 103rd American Legion National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin earlier this month. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1971 as a Boatswain Mate aboard the USS Nitro, an Ammunition Auxiliary Ship, when it was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea as part of the Sixth Fleet, and then as a reservist until being honorably discharged in 1974.

“I joined the American Legion Post 1682 in New City, New York in 1993,” Troiola said. “At the time I was involved in activities at my daughter’s elementary school and one of my friends whose daughter also went to the same school asked me to join the Sons of the American Legion, a program of the American Legion. The SAL is for sons or grandsons of veterans that have served. I actively participated in their programs and was approached by the Post Commander and was asked if I was a veteran. He recruited me to join the American Legion.”

After a year of membership, Troiola became 2nd Vice Commander of the Post and then in 1997 was elected Post Commander, a position he held for two years. “I became very active in many committees and programs in higher levels of the American Legion including County Commander, District Commander, Department (State) Commander (2010-2011) and National Vice Commander (2016-2017),” he said. “I also chaired many committees and commissions at all levels. At the Department level, I served on the faculty of the New York American Legion college, Membership Chairman, and the centennial task force for the future. At the National level, I served as Chairman of the Veterans Employment and Education Commission and the National Legislative Commission. I wanted to be involved.”

He was elected National Commander for a one-year term Sept. 1 and that requires 330 days of travel during that time.

“I will visit all 55 departments to include 50 states, Department of Mexico, Department of France, Department of Puerto Rico, Department of the Philippines and the Department of District of Columbia. In December I will embark on a Far East Trip to Okinawa, Philippines, Guam and Hawaii to participate at the Pearl Harbor Day Ceremonies. In June 2023, I will travel to Normandy Beach for D-Day ceremonies, Paris, France, the birthplace of the American Legion, Bastogne, Belgium, and Ramstein Air Base in Germany to meet the troops.”

His daughter, Laura, and her husband, Michael, moved to Falmouth about 2012 before Troiola and his wife, Saveria, moved to Maine.

“They were in New Hampshire where Michael did his residency at Dartmouth. We decided in 2015 to move to Maine to be closer to our two grandchildren at the time, now three grandchildren. Laura works from home, and we felt we were able to help with the kids, one of which has special needs,” Troiola said. “We shopped for a new home for about two months and came across a new construction home in the Sebago Heights subdivision. We purchased the house and moved in January 2016. We love the neighborhood and living in the Lakes Region.” <

Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach earns 200th win

Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach Deb Lebel has been coaching at Windham since 2011 and on Sept. 3 in Windham’s opening game, Lebel earned her 200th career win with a 10-0 victory over Westbrook.

Her varsity coaching career began at Falmouth in 2005 and over the years she has accomplished a lot, including being honored with a plaque marking her milestone accomplishment on Thursday, Sept. 8 at Windham. She is a six-time state championship winner which includes Windham wins in 2013, 2014 and 2021. She won three state championships while at Falmouth and was honored as the Southern Maine Activities Association Maine Coach of the Year and New England Coach of the Year in 2021.

“These 200 wins I feel I’ve been blessed with a ton of talent,” said Lebel. “At Falmouth I felt like this gift had been dropped in my lap. I think that in the 2013 and 2014 years [at Windham], I wouldn't have been successful if they hadn't won states. They were just so talented. This is a tiny bit me, but so much of them.”

Lebel began coaching at the Fay School in Southborough, Massachusetts in 1999. She taught physical education and health and coached soccer, basketball and lacrosse. In 2005, Lebel came to Windham High School where she began teaching biology. She accepted her first varsity coaching position as the girls’ soccer coach at Falmouth High School where she coached for four years.

In 2009, she left Falmouth and began coaching girls’ lacrosse at Windham until 2013. In 2011, she started coaching varsity girls’ soccer in Windham.

Lowe's ceremony honors life-saving heroes

For those who believe that one person’s kindness can save a life, an event at the Lowe’s in Windham on Sept. 17 is confirmation of that fact. Back on Saturday, July 23, Thomas and Tammy O’Connell drove from their home in South Portland to the Lowe’s store in Windham to purchase a new grill. Thomas, 65, was loading the grill into the back of his truck in the Lowe’s parking lot when he collapsed, clutching his chest, and falling to the ground. To his wife’s horror, he was unresponsive and barely breathing as she cried out desperately for someone to help.

Fortunately for the O’Connells, Lowe’s employees Andrew Tanguay and Stephen Sargent were outside in the parking lot and saw what had happened. Tanguay tried to help Thomas up while Sargent ran into the Lowe’s store to obtain an AED defibrillator. Sargent had received training on use of the device three or four months earlier during a Lowe’s employee training session. Store employees called for emergency assistance and while waiting for help, Tanguay and Sargent worked to revive Thomas with the AED while a bystander started CPR on him. Seeing what was taking place and hearing Tammy O’Connell’s screams, a nurse from Windham who had just pulled into the Lowe’s parking lot, Danielle Dunnam, ran to assist and took over CPR compressions until Windham Police Officer Ernie MacVane and Sgt. Rob Hunt arrived at the scene and assisted with CPR.

Dunnam, who was at Lowe’s to buy trim for new flooring, performed CPR for three or four minutes on Thomas before MacVane and Hunt got there. Moments later, a crew from the Windham Fire Department including firefighter/paramedic Max Newton, firefighter/paramedic Mike Dube, firefighter/paramedic Tony Cataldi, firefighter/paramedic Paul Silva, firefighter/emergency medical technician Advanced Josh Merrill, firefighter/emergency medical technician Advanced Steve Bishop, and firefighter/emergency medical technician Grace Sawyer, all worked on Thomas to save his life and prepared him to be transported to Maine Medical Center for emergency treatment as he clung to life.

After 10 days in the hospital for what was described by doctors as a “cardiac episode,” Thomas was able to go home, thanks to the heroic efforts of everyone involved that day.

Windham Fire Chief Brent Libby said the quick actions of the Lowe’s employees and by Dunnam and the professionalism the first responders are responsible for Thomas still being alive today. “It shows that it takes a village,” Libby said. “For Mr. O’Connell, the Lowe’s staff and people in the parking lot recognized there was a problem and helped. It shows how everybody can work together in a time of need.” <


Parking facility aims to revitalize South Windham

The Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District’s new parking lot at 35 Main St. in South Windham is a collaborative effort between Cumberland County, the Soil and Water Conservation District and the Town of Windham.

The town approached the Soil and Water Conservation District several years ago with the idea that a multi-use parking lot could benefit all interests in South Windham. The old parking lot has been transformed this fall into parking for tenants of the Soil and Water Conservation District building, for hikers using nearby trails, for nearby businesses and for the town, which shares a driveway with the district for the South Windham Fire Station.

“Back when we first looked at this, we originally looked at entrance issues in that area,” Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said. “We thought we could work a partnership short-term, to fix the entrance problems and repave the driveway for parking but it turned out to be so much more.”

The town applied for a Community Development Block Grant through Cumberland County in 2020 for the parking lot and then went back a second time for additional funding. Eventually, Cumberland County contributed $205,295 to the project for surfaces and materials and the rest is history. As a result of the improved entrance and the redesigned parking lot, soon a new restaurant and brew house will be able to set up shop in the old South Windham Fire Station on Main Street. Hikers will be able to park safely and securely in the lot, and new tenants of the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District will be able to park there too.

Tibbetts said this new parking lot is an accomplishment that all residents of Windham can be proud of.

“It has substantial long term benefits and we’re pleased at how this all has turned out,” he said. “We owe a lot of thanks to the multitudes of people who worked on this project, and we certainly appreciate all of the efforts to help from county government.” <

Windham sends contract zone request to planning board

The owners of the Northeastern Motel at 322 Roosevelt Trail in Windham have asked the town for a contract zone so the property of the existing motel can be redeveloped into residential dwelling units.
The 3.8-acre site is located on Route 302 and the northwest corner of Nash Road in Windham and the owners, 322 Roosevelt Trail LLC, say to achieve their vision for the property zoning changes will need to be made. The property is currently zoned as “F” for farming zone district.

Owners are asking that zoning for the site be changed to allow Dwelling, Multifamily as a permitted use. Under current “F” zoning requirements multifamily dwellings are only allowed for the conversion of an existing dwelling or accessory building that was in existence prior to May 13, 1986, and no more than three dwelling units may be created per lot.

A zoning change would allow the property owners up to 23 dwelling units on the property, which differs from the only two dwellings currently allowed there. The nine-unit motel with an attached owner’s unit building existed prior to Windham’s adoption of zoning ordinances on July 8, 1976. On Nov. 5, 1987, the town’s Board of Appeals granted permission to expand the non-conforming use “Suburban Pines Motel” to double the size and a 13-unit adjacent building was constructed on the property in 1988. Windham’s Planning Board approved a subdivision of the property into five lots on April 23, 1990, and over the past 32 years has been further reduced to its current 3.8-acre configuration.

The zoning change request is the second time that a contract zone has been requested for this property. In 2016, the previous property owner requested a contract zone to permit Motels and Multifamily Dwellings and increase density there. On July 12, 2016, a vote by the Windham Town Council failed to send the application to the Planning Board for review and recommendation.

By a general consensus of approval, town councilors sent the contract zone request to the Windham Planning Board for review. <

‘Triple B’ celebration honors RTT’s important work

For the first time since 2019, people gathered together in person to celebrate Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center’s 14th Annual Triple B ~ Boots, Band & BBQ on Saturday, Oct. 22 in Windham.

The excitement was palpable as attendees were welcomed back into the arena, some for the first time since before the pandemic. The joy of friends dancing together once again was matched only by the outpouring of support for RTT’s programs – with the evening topping more than $200,000 to benefit the clients, horses, and programs of Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT).

This year’s event was a celebration of the community’s support of and devotion to RTT’s mission through the pandemic. It welcomed back many familiar faces.

Popular local band Under The Covers, auctioneer Elizabeth Holmstrom, and emcee Michelle Taylor of 99.9 The Wolf, all returned to donate their time and engage the attendees in enthusiastic bidding. Schilly’s Catering and Food Services offered delicious barbeque to the hungry crowd and St. Joseph’s baseball team put their base running skills to good use, collecting bid cards as hands shot into the air.

There was no greater example of the power of being present at RTT than those set by the two keynote speakers.

Debbie Hutchinson, a RTT client, shared her story and the role that RTT’s horses have played in her journey navigating Multiple Sclerosis – detailing not only the differences that riding has made to her physical health, but also how her relationship with RTT’s Paxton has improved her emotional health. Janis Childs, a RTT volunteer and board member, took the microphone next, moving herself and the crowd to tears as she discussed the power of working with riders like Hutchinson and how the impact that the horses have on clients is always more than is known. She highlighted this with stories she was told by people after RTT had to say goodbye to a beloved member of the herd, Luke, this past summer.

Childs ended her speech by galvanizing the crowd gathered for the auction, pointing out that money is like manure – “spread it around and good things grow.” <


VFW recognizes ‘Patriot’s Pen’ and ‘Voice of Democracy’ winners

VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman honored three Windham students as this year’s winners of the “Patriot’s Pen” essay competition and the “Voice of Democracy” audio essay contest sponsored by the VFW post. The annual competition encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society. It provides them with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money.

Goodman said that Hunter Edson, a Windham Christian Academy senior, submitted the winning audio-essay. He was presented with a certificate for his achievement and a check for $250 at an event at the Windham Veterans Center and qualifies to compete in the district-level “Voice of Democracy” competition.

Edson said he was shocked and amazed that his audio-essay was chosen as this year’s VFW Post 10643 winner.

“Having the opportunity to go to that amazing event at the Windham Veterans Center was truly breathtaking. I am very grateful for our veterans and the people at the VFW for giving students around the country this amazing opportunity,” he said. “It makes me feel like I’m a part of something greater, I mean ‘Voice of Democracy,’ that’s saying a lot in and of itself. But I for one am just very happy that I get to be a part of that voice. Winning this year has been a great experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

During the awards presentation on Veterans Day, Goodman also honored this year’s “Patriot’s Pen” winner, Evangeline Williams and second-place winner, Lance Lake. Williams is a sixth grader at Windham Christian Academy and received a certificate and a check for $200 for her winning essay. Lake also is a sixth-grade student at Windham Christian Academy and received a certificate and a check for $150 for his second-place essay. <

Voters elect newcomers to legislative seats

In the Nov. 8 general election, two three-year positions on the RSU 14 Board of Directors representing Windham will be filled by former board member Christina Small, and newcomer Caitlynn Downs. Small had 4,301 votes, while Downs had 3,245 votes. Incumbent Marge Govoni finished third in the race with 3,055 votes.

For the State Senate District 26 seat representing Windham, Raymond, Casco, Frye Island and part of Westbrook, former Windham Town Councilor Tim Nangle, a Democrat, defeated former State Senator and State Representative Gary Plummer, a Republican. Nangle tallied 9,695 votes to Plummer's 9,358 votes.

In the newly renamed Maine House District 106, Barbara Bagshaw, a Republican, edged newcomer Dana Reed, with 2,372 votes to Reed's 2,348 votes after a state-mandated recount. In the newly renamed Maine House District 107, former State Representative Jane Pringle will be returning to Augusta as she defeated newcomer Michael Hall, a Republican. Pringle had 2,343 votes to Hall's 2,209 votes.

Incumbent Jessica Fay, a Democrat, won re-election in a newly redrawn and renumbered House District 86 representing Raymond, Casco, and Poland. Fay has 2,397 votes to Republican Greg Foster's 2,313 votes.

Newcomer John Henry won an At-Large position on Windham's Town Council for a three-year term. <

Windham to convert to automated trash removal

After months of negotiation and discussion with Casella Waste Systems, also known as Pine Tree Waste, the basic framework for an agreement to convert Windham to automated trash removal has been reached.

Although some contractual details have yet to be worked out, members of the Windham Town Council voted unanimously at a meeting to move ahead with the proposal. It means that by next fall, Windham residents will no longer use the Pay As You Throw (PAYT) system, eliminating the purchase of blue bags, and switching to a cart system with trash picked-up curbside by a driver using an automated retrieval system. Under the current system, trash and recyclables are manually collected at the roadside which requires a driver and a laborer and services about 5,400 stops in the town.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told councilors that the proposed contract allows flexibility for the town to either purchase trash carts from Casella or to join in an initiative with other nearby towns to purchase receptacles separately and save money by purchasing them in bulk. Tibbetts said Windham’s 2022-2023 budget included $600,000 funding for a trash cart purchase for residents.

Homes in Windham would be issued two carts, one for trash and the other for recycling. The new contract calls for residential pick-up service scheduled once a week Monday through Thursday using designated routes and should a pick-up fall on a legal holiday or on a storm day, the schedule would be pushed back one day.

Casella Market Manager Chris McHale said all routes in Windham will be evaluated before the new system is implemented. McHale said Casella may purchase and deploy a smaller trash truck to service roads not accessible by the new automated trash vehicle. He stressed that the company intends to work with residents to provide the best service possible, but because of rising operational costs and advances in technology, the trash removal industry is converting to automated systems and can no longer continue to provide a similar system as currently used in Windham.

The initial contract will be for five years from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2028. <


Windham to wait to apply for some bond funding

Windham voters approved a $6.9 million bond for various projects during the Annual Town Meeting in June, but upon the recommendation of the town’s bonding agent, the town will wait before seeking some of that funding. During a discussion at a December Windham Town Council meeting, Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts briefed town councilors about the bond application status of eight different projects.

Tibbetts said from a financial standpoint, it would save money by waiting to apply for bonding for some of the projects by avoiding paying bond interest and associated fees in the coming year. According to Tibbetts, the bonding agent thinks bond interest rates could fall in the months ahead and not paying additional interest and processing fees to bond issuers in 2023 on projects not scheduled to start until 2024 would result in significant savings for the town.

“Financially that’s a really smart move for us to get to where we want to be,” Tibbetts said.

He said that if councilors agree, the town will proceed as originally planned to obtain bond funding for four projects in January for work to begin in 2023 that includes improvements to the Collonwood Drive and Running Brook Drive intersection; adding Merrill Preserve to the East Windham Conservation land; adding open space land abutting the conservation project property at the old Phinney Lumber property; and obtaining trash and recycling carts for town residents.

The total bonding of these four projects for 2023 is $2.95 million, Tibbetts said.

Bonding for four other projects authorized by town voters in June will wait to be applied for until a more favorable time, Tibbetts said.

Those projects include a $775,000 bond for River Road/Route 302 intersection/sidewalk in 2024 or 2025; a $275,000 bond for creation of a sidewalk from Blue Seal Feed on Gray Road to Depot Street in South Windham in 2024 or 2025; a $200,000 bond to create a sidewalk from Boody’s Corner to the Shaw’s supermarket along Router 302; and a $2.5 million bond for land acquisition in North Windham for the purpose of creating new connector roads in 2025 to alleviate traffic congestion on Route 302. <

Months of work result in dazzling AmFam holiday concert

Nothing sparks the holiday spirit for the greater Windham community than the annual and highly anticipated performance of An American Family Holiday (AmFam) concert by the Windham Chamber Singers and they performed two shows in a jam-packed auditorium at Windham High School on Saturday, Dec. 3.

Although this year was the WCS 21st AmFam performance, the group has been performing a holiday-themed show for over 35 years. As those early concerts have progressed to now include prominent musicians such as Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame) and Tony Award-Winning Broadway performer such as Sutton Foster and Norm Lewis, a Tony Award nominee, preparation is imperative to meet annual success and high expectations of concert goers.

WCS Director and WHS and WMS Music/Chorus Teacher Dr. Richard Nickerson said the well-attended AmFam performance is the WCS's one big fundraiser.

“Money made from their work at AmFam covers the expenses for their annual tour around New England in the spring,” Nickerson said. “So, the funds raised pay for the bus, the meals, hotels, and other expenses.”

WCS are grateful for the support from the Windham and Raymond areas and beyond.

“Thank you for helping to make An American Family Holiday such a wonderful event,” they recently posted on their social media webpage. “We wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.”

This spring, the WCS will perform at schools, churches and at other public events throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. <

District 2 Music Festival honors Windham violinist

The violin is one of most difficult musical instruments to learn and master and for the past 12 years, Emily Greene has strived to overcome its unique challenges and perform to the best of her ability. That hard work has paid dividends as Greene has been honored by Maine District 2 Music Festival as 1st violinist and concertmaster for an upcoming concert.

The daughter of Michael Greene and Debbie Bernier, Greene, 17, is a senior at Windham High School and auditioned in October at Lincoln Middle School in Portland to be chosen to play in the music festival. The audition required her to prepare a piece to perform and two scales as she has done in previous years, but this time, Green achieved the results she was seeking, earning the highest score among the young musicians who auditioned.

“I was very excited but a little bit shocked as well,” Greene said. “I’ve auditioned for districts before and never been given the honor of serving as concertmaster.”

The concertmaster is the principal first violin player in an orchestra and after the conductor, is the second-most significant leader among the orchestra musicians.

Greene says that she first became interested in playing the violin at the age of 4 when her mother brought her to a concert that featured one.

“I heard it, and I told her that I wanted to play the violin,” she said.

At Windham High School, she takes music classes taught by Dr. Richard Nickerson and Katherine Herrle and is hoping to study music in college when she graduates this coming June. <

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