Friday, July 19, 2024

Local musicians visit home following Nashville success

By Lorraine Glowczak

What began as three Windham High School friends jamming together for fun has grown into a thriving musical career. David Young (Class of 2017), his younger brother, Deven Young (Class of 2019), and their friend Seth Martin (Class of 2017) have turned their shared passion for music into a professional success story.

With concerts scheduled in Naples,
Rumford and on Channel 6's '207 Show,'
David Young and the Interstate Kings 
are eager to perform a homecoming
show at Lenny's in Westbrook on 
July 31 as it is where they first honed
their performance skills. At left is 
David Young, top is Seth Martin and 
right is Deven Young, all of Windham.
The trio, David Young and the Interstate Kings is now a Nashville-based band that "serves up vintage American music with a modern indie focus." They have recently embarked on their first “Vintage American Tour” which includes a stop in their home state of Maine.

The folk/rock group are performing songs on the tour from their latest album recorded in Nashville entitled “Vintage American.” Upcoming tour dates will see the Interstate Kings play in cities throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, Upstate New York, Illinois, and Kentucky, including a stop in Kansas City, renowned for its blues legacy. However, the stop they are most looking forward to is their “homecoming performances.”

“We are pumped to be coming home to play for all of our friends and family again – all those who loved our music and believed in us,” said David Young, guitarist, vocalist, and lyricist.

With concerts scheduled in Naples, Rumford, and on Channel 6’s 207 show, they are eager to perform their homecoming show at Lenny’s in Westbrook on July 31; the venue where the band perfected their performance skills.

“We are especially excited to do the show at Lenny’s,” Deven Young, the drummer, said. “We played there several times over the years, and it was there where we honed our sound as a band.”

Bill Umbel, the owner of Lenny’s, said he is looking forward to their return.

“It means a lot for everybody to have them back,” Umbel said. “The first time they performed for us was over five years ago, they were young high school kids. Our booking manager, Bucky Mitchell, booked them to play a gig for us and I wasn’t sure what to expect. When they began playing, I turned to Bucky and said, ‘Wow! These kids are pretty good.’ Not only were they talented, but they were professional musicians by interacting with the audience, which is paramount in the business of music. I knew these kids were going to go far.”

It was the Interstate King’s biggest fans, Charlie and Peggy Applin, who played a pivotal role in their early success by encouraging Umbel and Mitchell to book the musicians.

“Charlie and I followed David and The Interstate Kings whenever they played in the greater Portland area,” Peggy Applin said. “We often frequented Lenny’s to listen to the music and told Bill he should hire the band to play there. We promised he wouldn’t regret it. And here they are, over five years later and The Interstate Kings are coming home as professionals from Nashville to play at this popular venue again.”

Applin and many other Interstate Kings’ fans say they are looking forward to the band’s homecoming, including Dr. Richard Nickerson, the trio’s former music teacher at WHS.

“All three were in my music theory class,” Nickerson said. “Seth and the brothers had already started their band then, and I got to witness their professionalism and talent at an early age. I saw that they had good chemistry and respected one another. They knew how to have fun, but they also knew how to work hard. It’s very common for youth to start a band while in high school, but very rare to see the same lineup occurring professionally years later. I think their chemistry, hard work, and respect for one another may have something to do with that.”

Nickerson also spoke about their incredible talent.

“David also took my Guitar for Beginners class, but he was already at an advanced level,” Nickerson said. “I wasn’t sure what I could offer him, so we focused on the musical aspects of the guitar instead.”

Nickerson said that David Young’s advanced musical level comes with no ego. “As talented as he is, he is humble,” Nickerson said. “His creativity is genuine.”

Nickerson and other fans of the Interstate Kings agree that Deven Young and Seth Martin also have a creative depth that contributes to the band’s success. Deven’s contribution as a drummer is more about feeling than words.

“I approach our music by asking, ‘How is this song going to feel,’” Deven Young said. “There is a certain feeling the drum gives and I translate that feeling into rhythm.”

Seth Martin’s creativity doesn’t stop at the bass guitar. He is also the band’s marketing master.

“I design our advertisement, posters, etc. that convey our band’s sound,” Martin said. “It’s about visual branding, and since we write and perform old-school sounds of blues, rock, and folk, I work to capture that in vintage-looking posters and images.”

Martin said that music is their passion and dream, but to be successful, they also must be serious about music as a business.

Nickerson said that he is proud of his former students’ professionalism, hard work, and success.

“As a teacher, you always want your students to do well, and to watch these three work hard and flourish in the music industry is the best.”

Umbel echoed that sentiment.

“I look forward to seeing them perform again at Lenny’s.” he said. “And it is quite possible, the next time I see them, they will be bigwigs performing on the big stage.”

To learn more about David Young and the Interstate Kings on their Vintage American Tour, visit <

Puleo settles in as Windham’s new Planning Director

By Kaysa Jalbert

The Town of Windham has a new planning director, Stephen Puleo, who plans to approach his job with transparency and high standards when it comes to reviewing and approving project developments in Windham and aims to help make Windham the crown jewel of the coastal communities in Maine.

Stephen Puleo is the new Planning Director for the Town of
Windham and he is responsible for coordinating Planning
Department activities and overseeing the review and 
approval process for the town's Planning Board and 
ensuring that developments in Windham comply with
the local, state and federal land use laws.
As planning director, Puleo’s role is to coordinate planning and developments in the town of Windham. Puelo says his approach to this new role, “is to bring an open and transparent review and approval process on the planning board and the staff review committee for developments in Windham, and to ensure that all approvals have gone through an exhaustive compliance analysis to comply with the local, state and federal land use laws.”

Puleo’s goal as planning director is to be sure that these laws are implemented and to achieve a very high standard for the projects that are approved by the town planning board and staff review committee.

“I have always felt that’s it is important that we have an open and transparent process that nobody in the community as well as the applicants as well as staff feel like any of the process is being hidden from them, that there are agreements that are being made some place that are not in the light of day, and that all of the standards are being met by the applicants,” he said.

Puleo and the planning board have been working to complete some of the conditions of approval on several developments in Windham, one being the Windham Village Apartments, a 172-unit apartment complex that is on about a 9-acre lot along Tandberg Trail behind the Shaw’s Plaza.

Associated with this apartment complex is going to be a town-owned sewer pump station that will be the collection point for much of the sewer collection system that is currently being installed.

According to Puleo, what's unique about this plan is that the disposal system of this sewer treatment plant is the first of its kind in the state being permitted by the wastewater disposal division. In addition, this system can treat water to a drinkable level when it comes out the other end of the pipe. The plan is not to drink the water, however, it is to drip it into the groundwater of Sebago Lake, stopping uncontrolled wastewater from going into groundwater and replacing it with clean water through the new system.

The Windham Town Council entered into an agreement with Portland Water District in 2021 to design a reliable, technologically advanced wastewater treatment system that will improve and protect North Windham’s water quality. The funding for this project comes entirely from state loans and grants and is set to be operational by January 2026.

Prior to working as a municipal planner, Puleo was a tree care specialist, then owned and operated his own small business until moving on to work as an apple orchard manager. Since then, he has held a position as municipal planner in South Portland as well as in Windham for about 20 years.

He has a degree in urban forestry, which is where he fulfilled his tree specialist work, and an environmental science and policy degree from the University of Southern Maine and a masters’ degree in community land use development from the Muskie School at USM.

“I am really excited for the future of Windham. I see us as the top of the crown here in Southern Maine and I want people to see Windham for what it has to offer,” says Puleo. “We have plans to make Windham an even more attractive and beautiful community." <

Friday, July 12, 2024

Gathering in Raymond showcases American freedom for Darfurian immigrants

By Nicole Levine

This summer, Raymond’s Roberta “Bobbie” Gordon and her husband George once again opened their home to Darfurian immigrants for their annual July 4th celebration.

Immigrants from Darfur join friends from America in
celebrating July 4 with a picnic and gathering at the
Raymond home of Roberta 'Bobbie' Gordon, right. Gordon
has been instrumental in helping Darfurians to overcome
obstacles to enjoy a new life in the United States.
The Gordons have been hosting this gathering most summers on Independence Day since 2008. Bobbie currently runs an independent group that was started by her and her colleague Roberta Zuckerman. The group was originally funded by the National Council of Jewish Women to support Darfurian immigrants in helping them learn to speak English and to assimilate into American culture.

Through Bobbie’s program, members speak locally to spread awareness and raise funds to help immigrants coming to the U.S from Darfur. Through their efforts they have generated support and resources enabling them to provide stoves powered by the sun to Chad, where many Darfurians are living during the ongoing violence in Sudan.

In each annual celebration, Bobbie and George offer their guests traditional 4th of July barbeque food, books and toys for the children, and a place to gather for all Darfurians. Many of the guests in attendance bring traditional side dishes that originated in their country. Together, the group plays games to learn English and sing American themed songs, while the children play in the lake.

Bobbie Gordon explained how her favorite aspect of this event is “everybody’s exuberance and happiness” despite how the country of Sudan is currently in turmoil with tragedies occurring daily. Each of the immigrants in attendance have their own unique story in their journey to America.

“Look at the spirit, despite what is happening in the country right now,” she said.

The atmosphere was incredibly welcoming and gracious. At one point, Arafah, an immigrant from Darfur, who now works as a mathematician, rushes up to hug her, both with smiles on their faces that stretch from ear-to-ear.

In an instant, it is clear to see the effect that the Gordons have had on so many individuals. Throughout the party, many people kept coming up to her to express their gratitude for the influential environment she has been able to create and maintain.

One man in attendance named Abu, had immigrated to the United States from Sudan. He spent two years in Jordan, before coming to America, and has currently been here for eight years. He said that his first year in the U.S. was incredibly difficult for him. He did not speak English very well, and it was an entirely different and foreign culture.

Abu shared how that had all changed when he met El-Fadel Arbab, the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Fur Cultural Revival, and someone Bobbie Gordon had mentored. Following this introduction, Abu was introduced to the community of Darfurian immigrants right here in Maine. He discussed how this group significantly helped him feel more comfortable, and entirely changed his experience in the U.S.

When reflecting on what these July 4th celebrations mean to him, he said, “I feel like one of the people. I feel the freedom and the happiness.”

Since 2003, it’s estimated that 2.7 million Darfuri have been displaced from their homes in Darfur, a region of west Sudan. Hundreds of thousands have sought refuge in refugee camps throughout Africa, after fleeing what has been called a campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide directed at non-Arab groups in Darfur. Some have applied for and gone through the legal process of becoming American citizens, settling here in Maine.

Zahra, another person the Gordons have mentored, talked about how her children have found success in the US. One has graduated from Bowdoin College, another is currently attending the University of West Virginia as a Division 1 soccer player, and two are grade-school students at Waynflete Academy in Portland. Zahra said she is extremely grateful for the opportunity that she and her children have had since being in the U.S.

As for future gatherings, Bobbie Gordon says she will be continuing her inspirational efforts, and has plans to jumpstart a one-on-one teaching program for Darfurian immigrants to learn English and become acclimated to their new lives in Maine. Her group also plans to establish a curriculum for her lessons offered to Darfurian immigrants and is hoping to begin offering swimming lessons.

Gordon said that she believes volunteering to tutor and mentor immigrants is a great way to become one community, while encouraging Americans to find a way to help the cause in any way that they can.

Each individual attending this July 4th celebration in Raymond was radiating with positive energy. The magic of this event transcends cultural differences and has brought people together from another part of the world to appreciate the freedom that we have in the United States. <

Mullins steps down from Sebago Lakes Chamber leadership role

By Ed Pierce

As President/CEO of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Robin Mullins has poured her heart and soul into promoting the community and local businesses but as it’s been said before, every good thing must eventually come to an end.

Robin Mullins is stepping down from
her position as President/CEO of the
Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of
Commerce after five years of leading the
organization. FILE PHOTO
Mullins, who has led the chamber since 2019, will step down from her chamber position to focus on her new role as Marketing Manager for Octagon Cleaning & Restoration in Windham.

“Now seems like the right time to leave my chamber President/CEO role as I was offered a position too good to turn down,” Mullins said. “It was hard turning down no more nights or weekends for a bit more money and a company car. What I love about my current role is all of the relationships I have built and the marketing I have done for the region. In my new position I will do what I love and continue to build and foster relationships, and instead of marketing hundreds of businesses in eight communities, I will be able to focus all of my efforts on just one company.”

She said she has worked for Octagon before, so she knows the business.

“The coolest part is that it is a family business and my family,” Mullins said. “My brother and sister-in-law, Robert and Kathy York, own the business and my dad, nephew and cousin all work there.”

She grew up in Windham and graduated from Windham High School in 1986. Although she earned a degree in elementary education, Mullins has spent most of her career working for Hannaford Supermarkets in both retail and corporate environments. She worked 22 years at Hannaford and the company paid for Mullins to obtain a master’s degree in training and development while giving her experience in every aspect of human resources management.

Mullins left Hannaford to spend more time with her family and then became the part-time HR Director for Octagon Cleaning & Restoration. She later joined the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce as its part-time office manager and in 2019, Mullins assumed the full-time role as SLRCC’s President/CEO. Her last day leading the chamber will be July 12.

SLRCC Board Chair Jonathan Priest said that Mullins has left an indelible positive stamp upon the chamber.

“I am excited for her in her new role, but I know we will all miss her boundless energy, her giant heart, and her passion for the people and businesses of our region,” Priest said. “She has worked tirelessly during her time with the chamber to support our area businesses, grow our membership, expand chamber member benefits, boost attendance at our Business Breaks, and raise money for worthy causes like Feed the Need.”

Priest said that her membership in various organizations like MAACE, the Gray New Gloucester Optimist Club and the Sebago Lake Rotary Club allowed her positive energy, sharp mind and articulate voice to be seen and heard by business owners, state and federal representatives and community leaders. And, he said that Mullins attended many trainings and conferences to make sure she always had the most accurate and up-to-date information for the chamber board and communities she served.

For her efforts on behalf of the chamber, Mullins was honored last fall as the 2023 Maine State Chamber Professional of the Year.

According to Mullins, her family including husband John and daughters Cassidy and Ainsely, are proud of what she’s accomplished during her time working for the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and excited about her new job.

The people are what Mullins says that she will the most about working for the chamber.

“I have an amazing Office Manager, Denise Dyer. I will miss working with her every day. I will miss the SLRCC Board of Directors, especially our Board Chair, Jonathan Priest,” she said. “But you know, as I think about it, I am not going that far away. I will still be in Windham. Octagon is a member of the chamber, so I'll still participate in chamber events. And all of those relationships I have will not go away. They will just change. Don't get me wrong, I do not wish water or fire damage on anyone. However, if it should happen, I know an amazing restoration company that can take care of anyone I have come to know and adore in my role as chamber President/CEO.”

Above everything else, Mullins says the thing she’s learned the most about herself from her time working for the chamber is fundamental.

“I hate to sound like a broken record, but it is all about relationships. I have learned how much relationships mean and how the relationships I formed in the past continue to benefit me today,” she said. “I have always told my girls to be nice to everyone and to never burn bridges. You never know when someone will come back into your life and how you might need them or they you. So many of the people I have known from other roles in my life have proven to be extremely valuable in my chamber President/CEO position and will continue to be in my new role as Marketing Manager at Octagon Cleaning & Restoration.” <

Friday, July 5, 2024

Windham athlete finishes seventh nationally in Triple Jump competition

By Kaysa Jalbert

Many are familiar with the term “adulting” to describe the mundane responsibilities that make up the daily life of an adult, but there’s not a term to describe the lives of teenagers whose days are packed with classes, homework, practices, and work, while maintaining a social life and preparing for their futures full of adulting. Some call this overachieving, but in the eyes of most teens today, it’s simply what it means to be a teen.

Tayla Pelletier of Windham High School
finished seventh in the nation in the triple
jump at the Adidas Nationals at North
Carolina Agricultural and Technical State
University in Greensboro, N.C. in June
after winning the Maine state
championship and the New England 
championship this spring. She will be
a senior at WHS this fall.
Tayla Pelletier is one of these busy teens, as a soon-to-be senior at Windham High School, an honors student, working two part-time jobs and on top of it all, a competitor in the National Track and Field Championships. To her, all of this is what it means to be trying your best.

Earlier this spring, Pelletier won the Triple Jump event at the Maine State Championships at Thornton Academy on Saturday June 1 and went on to win the New England Championships at the University of New Hampshire on Saturday June 8 in the triple jump.

She then traveled out of state to compete in the Adidas Nationals at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina where she competed in the 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles and the triple jump events.

“Competing in sports has definitely shown how hard I can be on myself,” Pelletier said. “I set very high expectations and always strive to do my best.”

Leading up to competing for a title, Pelletier said she focuses her thoughts on trying her best and staying patient in the air and not getting upset with herself over a bad jump, but to instead focus on the next one.

When she’s not in school, or practicing her triple jump, she can be found at one of her two part-time jobs. Somedays she is serving scoops at the Ice Cream Dugout in Windham, and on other days she works at Beacon Pizza in Raymond.

Pelletier started working at the age of 15 during the summer of her sophomore year. She has held her job at the Ice Cream Dugout for three years and started working at two different jobs last year.

“I wanted to get my first job because I liked the idea of having my own money and being able to get the things I wanted by myself without parents help,” she said. “I wanted to be more independent and to rely less on my parents for everything especially with having five siblings.”

At this point, Pelletier says that she’s undecided in what she wants to do as a future career, but she is certain she wants to continue participating in track into college while studying.

Pelletier started competing in the triple jump during the spring season of her freshman year.

“What interests me most about track is the environment. The team supports one another, and even those you compete against are super friendly,” said Pelletier. “What I like most about being an athlete is the goals I am able to set for myself, and the team and coaches who push me to and support me with achieving these goals.”

Pelletier says that balancing two jobs, school and sports can be a lot at times, especially while taking anatomy and physiology, and honors classes, and there is a lot of work that comes with it.

“My weeks are busy, and nights can be long but it’s all worth it in the end,” she said. “Having a busy schedule can be exhausting, but you just have to find a way to manage it all. And when you get days off then you need to enjoy them and use them as a day off and one to relax.”

Ever since she got into track Tayla has started watching past Olympic competitions or world track and field meets. Through this, she said she gathers a sense of how she can improve on her form and gain inspiration to keep working and never stop giving it her all.

“I enjoy competing because it allows me to not only prove myself but it’s something I can control,” said Pelletier. “I enjoy the competition and have found a lot of joy in this sport and am always looking forward to meet days, especially when it comes to the competition. This fuels my energy and as long as I have the right mindset, I know I can perform.”

She says competing at the Adidas Nationals was a great experience, and she was happy with her times in both the 100-meter hurdle and 400-meter hurdle events, considering it was her first time running the 400-meter hurdles. As for her triple jump, she started the event seeded ninth and came out of finals placed seventh overall. Pelletier attended the Adidas Nationals in North Carolina accompanied by her mom and grandmother.

At home, Pelletier’s hard work makes her a role model for her two sisters and three brothers, all younger than she is.

“My siblings are extremely supportive and are always excited to know how I do,” she said. <

Racing remains at forefront for Windham’s Derek Kneeland

By Ed Pierce

For Windham auto racer Derek Kneeland, the only way to define your limits is by going beyond them.

Kneeland, 38, continues to be a busy man in auto racing this year, trying to find time to race his own car at local tracks, driving part-time for Mike Bryant Racing in super late model select events, and serving as a spotter for Kyle Busch, Austin Hill xfinity, Nick Sanchez trucks in NASCAR events.

Derek Kneeland of Windham has been racing since he was
8 and now works for Richard Childress Racing as a 
spotter in NASCAR events. He also finds time to compete
on local tracks in his super modified racecar, finishing fifth
in a race at Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire
on June 22. COURTESY PHOTO   
Racing runs in Kneeland’s blood as his father Jeff competed in the 1970s and his grandfather was the general manager of Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough at one time. Derek started racing go-karts when he was 8 years old, and it ignited a dream of one day taking the checkered flag at a NASCAR race.

As costs to compete in NASCAR rose sharply, Kneeland found another avenue to become involved at that level and he took on the job as a spotter during a race in Pennsylvania 16 years ago. Those spotter duties grew over time and Kneeland now has served as a spotter for drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the ARCA Menards Series.

“Bristol is my favorite race as a spotter,” Kneeland said. “It’s busy, there’s a lot going on, a lot of information, it’s loud and an exciting environment. Keeping up with the differences in divisions I spot is the hardest thing, different drivers, different vehicles, the job itself is still the same, give info, and try to describe the things I see the best way I can to be a valuable asset to my drivers and teams.”

He is currently working for Richard Childress Racing as a spotter and typically is out on the road for 38 weeks every year. That can be an exhausting schedule and doesn’t leave much time, but he is planning on racing his own car this summer at Lee Speedway in New Hampshire on July 26, Oxford Speedway in Maine on Aug. 4, Berlin Raceway in Michigan on Aug. 7, and possibly the Oxford 250 on Aug. 25 and the Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway in Florida.

As a NASCAR spotter, Kneeland relays information to the driver of the team he works for, keeping them alert of what is occurring on the track. To get a complete look at the racetrack, he is usually positioned on top of one of the grandstands or support buildings.

“For me I think the hardest part is I don’t get to race weekly like most do because of traveling around the country working my NASCAR duties, so there are a few things I need to clean up to figure out such as how to go faster and be better as a driver. And money obviously, it takes a lot of money to race these cars and be competitive.”

He said racing his own car is more of a hobby than something he calls his career.

“I love it, done it since I was 8 years old,” Kneeland said. “I’m just fortunate to be able to do it a handful of times a year with my busy schedule.”

According to Kneeland, his greatest fans are his family, including his wife, Carley, his two stepsons Kolby and Logan, his parents Jeff and Kelly Kneeland, and his sister, Tasha.

He said all his family and friends have been supportive of his life in racing.

“My dad and my cousin Rusty Poland and my good buddy, Nick Brown, we all work together on my car and Rusty’s,” Kneeland said. “It’s definitely a family sport. My parents and my wife every weekend tune into the NASCAR app to listen to me spot for my drivers as well. They love it all whether it’s getting to watch me behind the wheel or listen to me do my job on a weekly basis.”

His proudest moments in racing include his first Cup win at Michigan with Kyle Larson, being a part of an Xfinity championship with Tyler Reddick and a Superspeedway win with Kyle Busch.

His career as spotter has taken him to NASCAR tracks all over the nation and as a driver, Kneeland has raced in Maine, New Hampshire, Michigan, North Carolina, and Florida. He says the biggest race he’s competed in is the Oxford 250 because he raced against NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski in that event.

“I still have a couple things left to check off my list,” Kneeland said. “And they are tough ones. A cup championship and a Daytona 500 win.” <

Friday, June 28, 2024

Windham veterinarian creates Tooth Fairy Fund for police K-9s

By Ed Pierce

A vital member of the law enforcement community in Maine will soon be feeling better thanks to the determined efforts of Windham’s Mainely Veterinary Dentistry practice.

Dr. Jennifer Keaten of Mainely Veterinary Dentistry in
Windham, left, meets with South Portland Police 
Department's Patrol Sergeant Shane Stephenson to
discuss treatment for Ziva, a police dog who fractured
a tooth in the line of duty. Costs for the surgery are being
paid for through the Tooth Fairy Fund, created by Keaten.
Ziva, a 7-year-old female Belgian Malinois, is the partner of South Portland Police Patrol Sergeant Shane Stephenson and has been diagnosed with a fractured tooth.

According to Dr. Jennifer Keaten of Mainely Veterinary Dentistry, she contacted local police departments around the state with K-9s on Canine Veterans Day in March to advocate for oral health for working canines. It was then she was informed that Ziva had sustained a fractured tooth while on duty.

Several weeks ago, Keaten and a Mainely Veterinary Dentistry technician met with Ziva and Stephenson for an examination to determine treatment options for Ziva and her availability for dental surgery.

“Ziva uses her mouth for her work. It is not uncommon for working dogs to break a tooth or wear down their teeth in the process of doing their bite work,” Keaten said. “The prognosis will depend on what dental x-rays tell us. Ziva should be able to return to full work and do so more comfortably after her treatment.”

To help police departments around the state in need of treatment afford complex veterinary surgeries, Keaten recently created what she calls the Tooth Fairy Fund.

“The tooth fairy fund was created to help service dogs maintain good oral health to do their jobs as well as to help community dogs that are experiencing severe oral pain with owners that cannot afford treatment,” Keaten said. “It is designed to help cover as much of the costs as possible, depending on the need.”

The Tooth Fairy Fund will be derived from donations and from sales of pet toys and oral health care products at Mainely Veterinary Dentistry.

Ziva will be the first patient to have the cost paid for through the new fund. All associated costs including surgery and medicines will be covered by the Tooth fairy Fund.

“We will perform a COHAT, a complete oral health assessment and treatment plan on Ziva,” Keaten said. “She will be placed under anesthesia to have dental x-rays taken of all of her teeth and have a full oral exam. Based on the oral exam and x-rays, we will make a treatment plan to improve her oral health. Ziva will have her teeth cleaned above and below the gumline to prevent and treat dental disease. The fractured tooth will either be bonded, or we will perform a root canal depending on the severity of the fracture.”

She said she will not know specifically what the treatment will be until Ziva is under anesthesia and dental x-rays taken, so they will have to be prepared for different treatments depending on what is found during the surgical procedure, which will be scheduled in the next few weeks.

“Ziva should be able to return to duty the next day,” Keaten said. “We are trying to advocate for regular preventive dentistry for dogs to prevent dental disease. This is especially important for these working dogs since we rely on them to use their mouths in the work. If we wait until they are in pain or cannot do their job it is often too late to save a tooth. Good oral health is the gateway to overall health for both people and animals. We recommend a full cleaning and assessment of your pet's teeth at least annually.”

Stephenson said Keaten’s offer to treat Ziva for free through the Tooth Fairy Fund will allow Ziva to best serve the South Portland Police Department while also vital to the police dog’s health.

Under a technicality in Maine state law, funding for K-9 medical expenses cannot be included in police department budgeting.

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to the Tooth Fairy Fund visit or simply go to and click on the link on the homepage. <

Raymond 'Lavender Lady' designs new garden to raise awareness for domestic violence in Maine

By Kendra Raymond

They say it takes “blood, sweat, and tears” to get through certain projects. While for most, this idiom is merely a cliché, for “Lavender Lady” Jenny McCarthy of Raymond, the accomplishment hits closer to home.

An inspirational message rock is highlighted
in front of a lavender plant at Jenny
McCarthy's Domestic Violence Awareness
Garden in Raymond.
For the past three years, McCarthy has spent countless hours preparing, designing, and implementing a domestic violence awareness garden at her Raymond home. As a domestic violence survivor, McCarthy hopes to provide a peaceful, safe, and serene space for anyone to enjoy some quiet time to rest or take in the sweet fragrances of the garden.

McCarthy moved to Raymond in 2020 under the address protection program so she could safely rebuild her life. She is now safe and a veteran of the program.

“I didn’t know anyone, I had no local friends, and I wondered what I could do with my time,” said McCarthy. “What can I do to help the community?”

The garden project essentially sprouted as McCarthy cleared copious amounts of invasive bittersweet from her overgrown property. Admittedly, she knew nothing about gardening or plants at the onset of the project and didn’t realize what she was getting into. McCarthy noticed that the soil was dry and sandy and started researching plants that would grow in those growing conditions.

“I started looking into lavender and found out it loves sand. I also connected with its beauty and relaxing properties,” she said.

McCarthy said that her Raymond Cape neighbors would often stop to offer compliments or support on her progress with the garden spot.

“It was sweet to know I was in a community. They noticed what I was doing and were kind and made me feel comfortable – it was an awesome feeling,” she said.

Lavender is a flowering member of the mint family. It is named after the Latin word “lavare,” meaning “to wash,” and has been used as aromatherapy, culinary settings, medicinal properties, as an ornamental plant, and extensively in soaps, potpourri, and floral arrangements.

“I want the garden to be a calming place to share with everyone, not just for me. People can feel comfortable just stopping by to sit on the purple bench and chairs. They don’t even have to talk to me. I want people to know they can just take a moment here. Anyone can relax, take in the lavender, or just be. I definitely want people to feel welcome,” said McCarthy.

She shared this sentiment on a neighborhood social media page: “My DV dedication lavender garden, three years growing and adding new ideas each year. The English lavender is almost ready to flower, and it smells amazing. This is why I work so hard outside; In memory of those taken too soon and dedicated to all survivors of domestic violence. Blood, sweat, and tears. It’s all worth it.”

Visitors to the garden can expect to see many varieties of lavender plants, ornamental grasses, other blue- and purple-colored plants and flowers, beautiful rocks painted with notes of inspiration, and a purple light which signifies DV awareness.

“The light shines every night, getting its power from the sun,” McCarthy said.

The light is tangentially related to McCarthy’s commitment to being kind to others and sharing her beautiful, safe space.

“I’d like to continue to give back as much as possible. Any way the lavender can help,” she said.

McCarthy is beginning to realize that the end of each season yields a hearty crop of lavender, which provides a multitude of uses. She is seeking some additional support and skills from our community, however. McCarthy said that she honestly has no idea what to do with the stalks that easily dry after the growing season ends. She is seeking the help of anyone with crafting or floral experience that can do something useful with the trimmings.

“I would love to see something made with the lavender,” she said,” even something that could be a gift to the DV shelter.” Dried sprays, scented pillows, or something even more creative that could be sold as a fundraiser for DV awareness would be beneficial. This could serve as a great community service project for likeminded youth, scouts, or retirees.”

According to the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV), in 2022, domestic violence comprised 30 percent of the total assaults reported to law enforcement in Maine. Nationally, more than 90 percent of relationship violence that is instrumental in the maintenance of control, the more systematic, persistent, and injurious type of violence, is perpetrated by men. Globally, as many as 38 percent of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners.

Rebecca Hobbs, Co-executive Director of Through These Doors, a Cumberland County DV Resource Center, said that she is keenly aware of McCarthy’s gardening efforts.

“Jenny‘s DV dedication garden is in honor of and solidarity with people affected by DV. It is an act of generosity and love. It is one example of Jenny‘s openness to sharing her hard -won wisdom with others in an effort to make the world a better place,” said Hobbs.

McCarthy’s inspiration is in high demand. She’s been interviewed by Maine Public Radio to speak about electronic monitoring and domestic violence. Just this week, McCarthy spoke to Waterville law enforcement group as part of a training program.

She has big plans and hopes to expand the garden to engulf her entire yard, which will make the bees very happy and provide larger walking and seating areas. She’s also made a late-season project last year of enlarging her driveway to accommodate visitor’s vehicles.

Maine author and poet May Sarton once said, “Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” Jenny McCarthy certainly embodies that mantra with her courage, dignity, and tenacity. She wears a “Warrior” tattoo on her forearm, perhaps a quiet reminder of her journey, a source of strength, or something else that only she understands.

“It’s about community; It’s not just about me giving back. I feel like there’s a bigger purpose here, said McCarthy.

McCarthy extends an open invitation to our community to visit her DV Awareness Garden, located at 27 Cape Road in Raymond.

To learn more about Through These Doors on their website: or call their 24-Hour Helpline (free & confidential) at 1-800-537-6066 or the Statewide Domestic Abuse Hotline can be reached at 1 866-834-HELP 24 hours a day. <

Friday, June 21, 2024

Community mourns loss of beloved Korean War veteran Walter Braley Jr.

By Ed Pierce

One of the humblest military heroes you’ll ever meet and a genuine friend to everyone who knew him has died at the age of 92.

U.S. Marine Corps and Korean War veteran Walter
Braley Jr. waves to parade vehicles driving by his
home in the Cornerbrook subdivision in Windham
on his 90th birthday on Oct. 10, 2021. Braley
died on Father's Day, June 16, at the age of 92.
Korean War veteran Walter Braley Jr. of Windham passed away peacefully at his home in the Cornerbrook subdivision on Father’s Day, June 16.

Born in Somesville, a village on Mount Desert Island in Maine, as the only child of Walter Sr. and Eva Braley, his family moved to Scarborough when he was 10 so that his parents could work in a shipyard there. He attended schools in Scarborough until he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1947 at the age of 17. Braley completed basic training at Camp Lejune in North Carolina and then was sworn in for active military duty by the late Maine U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith.

He rose to the rank of Sergeant in the Marines and was stationed at bases in Cuba and California and then was sent to South Korea during the Korean War. While in Korea, one of his duties was to patrol the DMZ, the no man’s land separating South Korea from its hostile North Korea neighbor.

“I walked across the DMZ before Donald Trump ever did a few years ago when he did so with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un,” Braley said. “I did it first.”

While stationed at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, Braley was asked to transport up a fellow Marine to the base, and it turned out to be future county music superstar George Jones, who was just about to launch his recording career.

Braley said they became good friends, and he would accompany Jones when he would go out with his friends on weekend leave and perform songs in exchange for drinks.

Years later when Jones was in Maine to perform a concert, he introduced the audience to Braley and asked him where he had been since he last saw him in the 1950s.

“Right here,” Braley is said to have told him.

Because of an injury he sustained in Korea, Braley was discharged from the Marines at the rank of Sergeant and returned home to Maine. He found work with the Delaware Feed Grain Store, as a truck driver for Maine Egg, a dog groomer for Dutton Animal Hospital in Saco and then at the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook, a position from which he retired after 35 years of service. Braley was a longtime pet owner and served as a Maine State Humane Agent and an advocate for suffering animals.

Following his retirement, Braley spent time volunteering for the Bruce Roberts Fund and Meals on Wheels. As a veteran, he became active in Windham Post 10643 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham.

He was a member of the First Baptist Church in Westbrook, holding various board positions and serving on other church committees.

On his 90th birthday in October 2021, a parade was held outside his home to commemorate his birthday and at that event Braley was presented with a Quilt of Honor by Cindy Beaulieu of the Quilts of Honor group.

“First we honor you for your service,” Beaulieu told Braley. “Second, freedom is not free, and we thank you for your service. We hope this quilt brings comfort to you as you are forever in our thoughts and in our hearts.”

Braley said receiving the quilt and having a parade in his honor was one of the most moving experiences of his lifetime.

““I just want to say thanks to everyone for coming out here today and recognizing me in this way,” Braley said. “You’ve made me feel appreciated and you can’t ask for more than that in this life. I’m deeply grateful and to all my fellow Marines, I say Semper Fi.”

Known affectionately to his family as “Junie,” Braley loved to hunt, fish, and spend time with his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at their camp on Thomas Pond.

Surviving Braley are his wife Nina, four daughters, one son, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 22 at the First Baptist Church of Westbrook, 733 Main St. in Westbrook. A graveside ceremony with full military honors will be conducted for Braley at the South Gorham Cemetery on Burnham Road in Gorham. <

Windham Raymond Adult Education graduate shows what determination can do

By Masha Yurkevich

On June 13, Windham Raymond Adult Education celebrated their 2024 graduates who persevered through all the challenges that came their way and who stood strong in their determination, not giving up until they reached their goal.

Through all the challenges and obstacles that came his way,
Matthew Ostiguy's determination led him to finish what he
started and to graduate and follow his dreams. Ostiguy, right,
shows his high school diplomas to Cathy Giuffre-Renaud
of Windham Raymond Adult Education.
Matthew Ostiguy was one of this year’s graduates of the WRAE program and a patient of the Neurorestorative Rehabilitation Clinic of Standish Maine who provided a shining example of determination and willpower.

Ostiguy is originally from Fairhaven, Massachusetts where he lived for 25 years until moving up to Maine.

“During my stay there, I had only made it to junior year in high school before dropping out,” said Ostiguy. “I couldn't say I really had any plan in life yet other than spending time at the skatepark trying to make something of myself thinking I could take that to a level where I could get paid for it.”

Ostiguy chose to complete his education at WRAE because he was feeling left out.

“Seeing most of my friends, my younger cousins, my family and people I looked up to, having degrees and or still completing school made me so much more motivated to buckle down and attain my diploma,” he said. “I felt like I had something to prove by finishing what I had started.”

This promised to be a difficult journey.

During his time in the adult education program, Ostiguy found it extremely challenging to relearn some of things that he was taught because the material felt foreign after being out of school for such a long time.

“I had never thought it would be so difficult to relearn,” said Ostiguy. “It definitely required practice and studying, or I don't think I would've gotten through it at all.”

Ostiguy had many obstacles on his way, but he was determined to finish what he started. He said he was determined to show everyone what he was capable of and that he could actually get it done once he set his mind to it.

“School was always very hard for me, so it came as a surprise to my family and even myself when I decided to start attending the program,” he said.

After graduating, Ostiguy says he couldn't help but feel a great sense of personal accomplishment wash over him as he had completed what he had originally set out to do.

“The fact that I could show everybody that I had completed high school even after 12 years and having a hemorrhagic stroke, relearning basically everything from talking to even being able to walk short distances, and then to go on and finally graduate. I really did feel amazing.”

One of Ostiguy’s favorite parts of acquiring his education was the feeling of regaining knowledge from the past and the feeling of actually attending school again.

“It may sound odd, but it really does feel good to be learning again after a long hiatus. Especially going to a graduation ceremony for the first time, it really was the most rewarding feeling I've experienced in a while.”

After graduation, Ostiguy plans to return to his home state and get a place of his own and look for work until he can acquire a college education, get himself situated and get things in order until he opens the next chapter of his future.

“As for advice to all those who are trying to pursue or already pursuing a high school diploma or thinking about it, I'd really like to try to persuade you to give it your all,” said Ostiguy. “Every little bit of effort is worth the result in the end, and you'll unlock so many doors by doing so. The reward really is worth the cost of commitment everyone puts in. To anyone reading this, know that it is never too late, and there is never going to be any judgement on when or how you accomplished your goals. The point comes down to the fact that you got it done, and that is all that will ever matter.”

Ostiguy is very grateful and thanks his mother, his father, the many therapists he had helping me out from Day One, Cathy Giuffre-Renaud of Windham/Raymond Adult Education, and the many people from Windham/Raymond Adult Education for allowing him to attend the program to achieve my goals.

“I really could not have done any of it if it weren't for the many people who have offered me support of any type, it really meant the world to me,” said Ostiguy. <

Friday, June 14, 2024

New bench in Raymond honors legacy of community champion George Bartlett

By Ed Pierce

For anyone who knew him, the late George Bartlett of Raymond was a tireless community champion and someone who unselfishly gave of his time to others. Now his kind spirit and generous nature will forever be remembered as a new granite bench in his memory has been dedicated at Raymond Veterans Park overlooking Sebago Lake.

The family of late businessman and community supporter
George Bartlett gather at Raymond Veterans Park on 
Saturday, June 8 as a bench was dedicated in his honor
there and was donated by his fellow members of the
Sebago Lake Rotary Club. From left are George's 
grandson, Owen Bartlett, son George Bartlett, wife
Jane Bartlett, and daughter Vicki Bartlett.
Bartlett was 84 when he died last July following a brief illness. He owned and operated the Busy Bee Laundromat in Windham for 38 years and was heavily involved in the activities of both the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and the Sebago Lake Rotary Club where he helped organized events that helped those less fortunate in the area.

To pay tribute to his willingness to step up and help his neighbors and his service as an international ambassador for the Rotary Club, members of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club purchased the granite bench and hosted the dedication event for Bartlett’s family and friends. The ceremony included an American Legion Color Guard and a bagpiper and several of his friends and Rotary colleagues shared stories about working with him.

“George was the epitome of what it is to be a member of Rotary,” said Sebago Lake Rotary Club President Robin Mullins. “George was a Rotarian for 38 years and he accomplished so many good things during that time.”

As an international ambassador for Rotary, starting in 1990 and continuing right up until a few months before his death in 2023, Bartlett made numerous trips to Romania, bringing them greatly needed medical supplies and books for students. During a Rotary International project in 1998, he helped to collect and deliver more than $750,000 worth of dialysis and medical equipment for Romanian hospitals. While in Romania, he lived with Romanian families and developed many long-distance, lasting friendships.

He also was instrumental in establishing Rotary-affiliated Interact Clubs for high school students in Maine. While there, he stayed with his adopted Rotary family, making long-distance, long-term friendships. While visiting Romania, he was directly responsible for launching new Interact Clubs in Ramnicu, Valcea, and other seven cities throughout Romania and he also helped a young student from Romania, Gabriella Saftiou, to visit Maine. Bartlett continued to stay in touch with Saftiou and other Romania families he became close friends with on his trips there right up until his death.

Through operating his business, the Busy Bee Laundromat for 38 years, Bartlett kept his finger on the pulse of the community and knew what was important to residents of the Lakes Region.

“I didn’t know George for as long as some of the other people here today did,” Mullins said. “He was someone I valued though and always made time to see him when he came to my office. Once he asked me what I thought would be a great local charity to benefit from the Polar Dip, which was part of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club's Annual Ice Fishing Derby. I recommended the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce’s charitable trust called ‘Feed The Need’ which benefits food pantries throughout the Lakes Region. We then started the Sebago Lakes Region Polar Dip for Feed the Need in 2021.”

His father owned the Bartlett Radio Company when he was young and while helping at his father’s business after school, he became interested in mechanics, and later earned a college degree in mechanical engineering after a stint in the U.S. Army. Being an adept mechanic helped him maintain and repair washing machines and dryers at the Busy Bee Laundromat, which he opened in 1985 in Windham.

Mullins said that Bartlett’s outgoing personality made it easy for him to make friends and encourage others to lend a hand for charitable projects. His energy seemed to be boundless.

“He was a great partner for me in organizing the Polar Dip,” she said. “My job is to take the volunteers and help them work together on projects to benefit the community. There was nobody better at doing that.”

According to Mullins, Bartlett was also deeply spiritual, and she would ask him to give the invocation before Rotary Club meetings.

“His invocations were always hand-written on little pieces of paper, and somehow he never lost his place,” she said. “His care about others was a result of his spirituality.”

State Rep. Jessica Fay of Raymond said that the new bench is a fitting tribute to Bartlett.

“What a great way to remember our friend who spent his life supporting this community,” Fay said. “He just made people feel comfortable. George Bartlett spent so much of his life giving to others and he would want you to think about volunteering if he were here today.”

Bartlett’s daughter, Vicki Bartlett, said that her family was pleased to learn that a bench would be created in his honor by the Rotary Club.

“It’s such an honor,” she said. “Dad did so many wonderful things with the community. He did it his way, but he would be honored and humbled by this gesture today.”

She said something many people didn’t know about her father was that he loved magic and started performing magic tricks at a young age and was also a puppeteer. <

Windham Summerfest returns June 22 for 34th year

By Kaysa Jalbert

Summerfest makes its way back to Windham on Saturday, June 22 taking on the theme “Summerfest Turns Back Time.” New to this year’s Summerfest is an updated parade route designed to give participants the best views and the best parade experience from start to finish.

The parade route for this year's Summerfest is different and
starts at noon June 22 from Stadium Drive at Windham Center
Road, proceeds up School Road, turns right onto Route 202
and finishes on the Windham High School grounds.
This year’s Summerfest is a free event for everyone to enjoy live music and activities, to support local vendors and non-profit food booths, and is packed with many more features to bring the community together.

Parade floats will be based on this year’s theme. Float-makers can be as creative as they choose, but will be judged on specific criteria such as, best depiction of the 2024 theme, best depiction of Summerfest principle of “Bringing Unity to The Community,” most creative, most entertaining, and the judges’ choice.

The parade kicks off at noon on June 22 from Stadium Drive at Windham Center Road and will proceed up School Road to take a right onto Route 202. Staging areas will be at Public Works and Stadium Drive Parking lot. The parade finishes at 1 p.m. on the Windham High School grounds.

“We are excited about this new route and feel it will make it easier for our guests to enjoy every aspect of this exciting parade,” says Windham Summerfest committee co-chair Deb Matthews.

In addition to announcing the new parade route, Matthews said that this year’s Summerfest Grand Marshal will be Rich Drummond, the athletic director for RSU 14.

All the Summerfest booths will be open for the parade and continue into the evening. There will be community booths for local non-profits to share their good works, and the food booths operated by non-profits as a means of fundraising.

The Summerfest business expo is mostly local, and they provide fun activities for attendees while the crafter vendor area provides a wide variety of items for purchase.

“We have so many amazing sponsors that have provided us the ability to offer this event to our community for free,” said Matthews.

More fun and active features included will be a rock wall, two escape rooms, and an inflatable village.

For special guest entertainment, juggler Jason Tardy will perform and address topics such as what is bullying, the roles bystanders play in bullying, how to become an upstander and help fellow students, and what to do if you are bullied. He will also describe his own personal struggle with bullying and how he overcame it.

Other Summerfest performers will include a magician, balloon twisting, Mad Science, and tons of music. Musical performances include Jimmy Macisso playing on the Main Stage at 1 p.m., the Get on Up Band on the Main Stage from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Dave Debree performing on the George Hall Memorial Stage from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

An Amateur Radio Relay League will be appearing at this year’s Summerfest in which members from the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, WSSM, will be setting-up field day operations in the ballfields directly behind the main Summerfest event venue. Throughout the day and evening, anyone, young or old, is welcome to join the team of ham operators to learn more about Amateur Radio and participate in making radio contact with operators in other distant locations.

Summerfest 2024 will also host a 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament that starts at 2 p.m. and is open to anyone between the ages of 5 and 18. In addition, the Golf Ball drop sponsored by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce will start at 5 p.m. To end the evening, fireworks will be launched at 9:30 p.m. from the Main Stage.

“I feel all our events connect with our attendees. It is so important to the Summerfest Committee and me that we offer this to our community as a free family friendly event,” says Matthews. “I want your whole family to attend with you. I want you to spend the day, and if you cannot afford to spend any money pack a picnic lunch and relax. Watching the kids’ faces, seeing how happy the grandparents are to wave to grandchildren while they run and play, seeing Mom and Dad and the joy they get from these sweet moments.”

Every year presents a new challenge to the Summerfest Committee whether in booking all the acts or coordinating with the town, police, fire department and schools, or just hoping for good weather. According to Matthews, however, the biggest challenge remains in fundraising.

“We changed our sponsorship model last year and had great success,” she said. “We also keep an eye on the sky, fingers crossed and pray for sunshine.”

Matthews says the event will be full of vendors and booths and that annual public attendance for Summerfest runs between 2,500 to 4,000 people.

The Windham Summerfest Committee has been working on this year’s celebration since last June and its members include Deb Matthews, Tommy Matthews, Barb Maurais, Jacob Chouinard, Karen Rumo, and Camille Swander. <

Friday, June 7, 2024

Love of flying ignites dream for 2024 WHS graduate

By Ed Pierce

It’s been said that great pilots are made and not born and that those who complete flight training reach their goal through constant practice and experience. Windham High School 2024 graduate Conner Vail may indeed be one of those individuals.

Windham High School 2024 graduate Conner Vail
is working to obtain his pilot's license and would
someday like to become a commercial airline pilot.
He gave up playing sports in his senior year to
work for an aviation company in Portland.
While other graduates may be looking to secure summer employment, Vail, 18, has been working as an aviation line service technician for MAC Air Group in Portland maintaining fueling systems for aircraft. He’s also racked up 33 hours of the required 40 hours for pilot training and hopes to obtain his pilot’s license within the next year.

“My plan following high school is to continue my flight training and become a professional pilot alongside working in aviation,” Vail said. “I plan on taking online classes toward a bachelor’s degree once I am settled in a flying job.”

His passion for flight is nothing new. Vail said he recently looked at a note he wrote while in fourth grade about what he wanted to do when he grew up.

“I wrote that someday I wanted to pilot a Boeing 777 aircraft,” he said. “This is something I’ve really wanted to do for a while and flying professionally has been a longtime dream of mine.”

Conner’s family, including his mother Kathleen, his father Paul, and his older brother Hunter have come to terms with his desire to fly.

“I think my mom was pretty scared at first, but she’s gotten better with it over time,” Vail said. “They all have accepted that flying is what I really want.”

Wanting to be close to aviation played a part in Vail applying to work with MAC Air Group after school during his senior year of high school.

“I have a passion that is hard to come across nowadays and I do everything I can to be around it,” he said. “My goals in life are unlike others and it seems to make me stand out from the rest of my classmates. I gave up playing sports my senior year and that was hard, but I’m farther ahead now of reaching my goal. My job is fun for me so I have never really considered it a chore, but instead a break from the stress that life can bring while in school.”

As far as academics in high school go, Vail says he just tried to stay on track, focusing on his future dreams and giving his best effort always.

“My greatest strength as a student is my ability to think differently than what I may be taught and not be afraid to use it, especially in math,” he said. “Lots of the math and science classes require formulas and lots of steps to find an answer. If I couldn’t make sense of a formula or solve something, I tried to make something for myself.”

He credits his teachers, school guidance counselors and his parents for prioritizing what he needs to be successful in life.

“My mentors in school such as teachers and counselors have helped me get to the point that I'm at now,” Vail said. “They guided me as a student to succeed in what I want for myself. But above all, my parents’ support and dedication to my future has gotten me the farthest and it continues to outside the classroom.”

Vail’s favorite teachers at Windham High School are Alissa James, Peter Small and Jeffrey Neal.

“They all brought passion to the classroom, cared about what they taught and never treated anyone like a stranger,” he said. “Their kindness and enthusiasm are top notch. My favorite class was U.S. History with Mr. Neal. I have always been a fan of history and learning why certain things exist today. Learning about our history as a nation is rewarding and full of interesting stories. That and every class beginning with current events was always a class I looked forward to.”

Vail also credits his sixth-grade teacher at Windham Middle School, Sarah Hopkins, for helping him to reach one of his goals of completing high school.

“I was by no means a great student in sixth grade. She helped me become a better student and taught me how to focus on what I want as I go through high school and to work hard to accomplish it,” he said.

With his high school diploma in hand, Vail says his immediate plan is to continue his flight training and to eventually become a professional pilot working in aviation.

“I plan on taking online classes toward a bachelor’s degree once I am settled in a flying job and my career goal is to fly for Delta,” he said.

Now that his time as a high school student is finished, Vail says his most enduring memory will be passing in his final assignment.

“Years and years of school and thousands of assignments, and that personal finance assignment was the last one,” he said. “I will never forget that feeling. All the hard work and the long nights, early mornings and it was that last one that took all the stress away.” <

Raymond Beautification Committee kicks off 2024 season

By Kendra Raymond

Most anyone traveling through Raymond via Route 302 is certain to notice the colorful gardens and planters scattered throughout the town. The town is fortunate to have a tireless group of volunteers leading the charge to spruce up the community.

Members of the Raymond Beautification
Committee work on a project planting
flowers at Raymond Veterans Park on
Route 302 in Raymond.
The Raymond Beautification Committee coordinates the work and meets once weekly to plant and perform maintenance. Residents may notice these pops of color in public areas throughout Raymond, including the Route 302 business corridor, Raymond Village Library, Raymond Town Office, Veteran’s Memorial Park, as well as multiple planters located throughout the town.

Volunteers began work for the 2024 season about a week ago. Projects include planning, planting, and weeding. The group is small but mighty.

Raymond Beautification Committee co-chair Sharon Dodson said that support and volunteers are always welcome.

“We have from one to three volunteers at a time usually and meet for two to four hours on Friday mornings. We do weeding, planting, and deadheading during that time,” said Dodson.

The committee recently published its yearly fundraising letter, which was posted on various sites and mailed to some residents. “Plant prices are higher every year and the Beautification volunteers need some financial help to keep Raymond blooming with colorful annuals and bulbs.” Dodson said in the letter, “Most funding for plants and bulbs comes from donations, but the town will help if we don’t get enough.”

Aside from financial help, the group would like to see volunteer numbers increase. This could be a great opportunity for students in need of volunteer hours, church or scout groups, retirees, or anyone interested in the visual appeal of our town – no experience required.

“Beautification volunteers usually meet at the Veterans Memorial Park on Friday mornings. We work more often during the planting season. People can also volunteer on their own if our schedule doesn’t work for them,” said Dodson.

The Raymond Beautification Committee started in 2003 following the completion of the Route 302 improvements project. Dodson said that there was no plan for garden maintenance, so she and resident Donna Johnson started weeding the areas with the assistance of Public Works Director Nathan White stepping in to water the gardens when possible.

“The following winter, Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Director Mike McClellan was talking to Raymond Town Manager Don Willard about what the needs are within the community. Together they decided that something needed to be done about the new unmaintained 70-plus garden areas along Route 302. They had seen us out there working and so Mike contacted me, and we pulled together a committee,” said Dodson. “The volunteer work started in an organized fashion early that spring, and we were putting in over 600 hours those first several summers. The town hired Dick Sanborn to mulch the gardens after we had weeded them, but it was a long process to get the out-of-control gardens back to where they had started the year before.”

Public works employee Don McClellan has been part of the effort for the past 12 years, providing heavy labor and debris removal in addition to his regular responsibilities maintaining Veteran’s Memorial Park and the beaches.

Looking to the future, Dodson envisions the town taking responsibility for the pruning and weeding, while the committee would handle planting annuals, bulbs, and maintaining the existing perennials. She said that the lighter scope of work might help attract more volunteers.

Dodson sees the vision of the committee as a partnership between businesses, the town, and volunteers.

“Making things pretty is appealing to volunteers and gives us a sense of gratification,” said Dodson. “We really appreciate your consideration and look forward to continuing our 20-year tradition of making our town just a little more beautiful.”

To learn more or if you are interested in volunteering, contact the committee through their Facebook page at:

Volunteers can also call the Raymod Town Office at (207) 655-4742 or simply show up at Veteran’s Memorial Park Friday mornings at 8am. Just look for the fluorescent green Raymond volunteer shirts – and you have found them. If Fridays don’t work for you, Dodson can set up a time to meet to point out potential projects that can be completed independently.

To donate to the Raymond Beautification Committee, simply drop off or mail a check to: Town of Raymond, 401 Webbs Mills Road, Raymond, Maine 04071, Attn.: Beautification Committee. <

Friday, May 31, 2024

Fairytale house a whimsical landmark in Raymond

By Nicole Levine

Find yourself in a fairytale when traveling down Main Street in Raymond. There lies The House That Jack Built, a peculiar town landmark that transports you into the world of a child's imagination.

An old postcard show The House That Jack Built in its heyday
on Main Street in Raymond Village. The former gift shop and
ice cream parlor is long gone but the building remains and
is a local landmark in the town. COURTESY PHOTO 
The House That Jack Built has a distinctive look that stands out amongst the rest of the houses within Raymond Village. It has playful yellow-colored walls with cyan blue framing around its doorways and windows. The house is built to look crooked, resembling an imperfect, yet magical children’s drawing.

To people passing by, its presence is a mystery. However, to many locals who have lived in Raymond for years, it is a nostalgic memory and sentimental reminder of their past.

The House That Jack Built was not created by Jack but was originally constructed in the 1930s by the Foster family of Raymond. Its fantastical look is inspired by the nursery rhyme that was favored by their daughter, The House That Jack Built.

The Fosters had opened an ice cream parlor and tea shop within the building, where they sold a variety of knick-knacks in their Maine-inspired gift shop. Some of their products included moccasins and maple syrup products. They also had their own soda fountain within the parlor.

Lucy Foster, also a former teacher, was often seen working within the shop. Many today still have very high regard for her heartfelt dedication to her students and her community. Don Foster, who also owned the business, was said to be “quite the character and funny” during his time working in the shop.

This used to be a very popular destination, as Route 302 originally ran past The House That Jack Built, before it was redirected to go by Raymond Beach in 1955.

The ice cream parlor was a favorite spot for teenagers during the time it was open. It was “the place to be” for local teens to hang out and socialize with their friends.

One customer reminiscing about the business, says “It sure was a popular place and one all the teens in the 50’s loved.” Another said, “I had my first banana split there.”

Many of the teens who used to frequent the ice cream parlor would often sign their names on the walls within the interior. The list of those names gives a unique glimpse into the past of those who used to call this their hangout when they were young.

The business within The House That Jack Built was open for around 25 years before it eventually closed. The property was then sold by the Fosters to the Timmons family.

Even though the business that brought so many teenagers fond memories had closed, The House That Jack Built continued to remain in many locals’ hearts.

Alice Bradeen, secretary for the Raymond-Casco Historical Society, grew up right next to the house. She was close with the Timmons family, who were residing on the property at the time. She spent many of her days exploring and playing there.

She described how there was also a wishing well added on to the back of the property. It was something that kids could climb inside and play. The wishing well just created all the more magic to this already fairytale-inspired home.

When describing the inside of The House That Jack Built, Bradeen says it was incredibly “quirky and neat” to go along with its eccentric exterior.

“You could picture how the tables were set up, and there was a bar where they served the ice cream with stools,” she said. It was almost as though she could still visualize what it once had looked like, when it was a thriving town scene. “Because it was something I saw every day, I did not appreciate how unique it was until later on.”

Nowadays many of us pass by this one-of-a-kind treasure, wondering to ourselves, “What is this quirky storybook-like building?”

The truth is, this Town of Raymond gem is truly something magical and serves as a looking glass back into local history.

Today, The House That Jack Built remains in the Timmons family. There has been some discussion of preserving the house as a historical landmark, however its future is unknown.

This charming feature of the town of Raymond brought a fairytale to life, and has created many fond memories for local residents, thanks to the Foster family. <

Public Safety Memorial a tribute to Windham first responders

By Ed Pierce

When Windham’s first responders and public safety members moved into their newly remodeled building on Gray Road in 2022, something was missing. Plans had been underway for several years to create and place a monument outside the building as a tribute to those who render assistance to the public when emergencies arise, put out fires, and keep residents safe 24 hours a day.

The new Windham Public Safety Memorial
was officially dedicated during a ceremony
on Memorial Day outside the Windham
Public Safety Building on Gray Road. The 
black granite monument honors current and 
past first responders, firefighters, police
officers, dispatchers, and emergency medical
technicians who have devoted their lives to
serving the town. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE    
Lengthy delays from the monument company prevented that from happening, but on Memorial Day, Windham’s Public Safety Memorial was unveiled and dedicated outside the facility. The monument recognizes the contributions that police officers and firefighters have made to the town through decades of service and is intended as a permanent way to say thanks to those who have served as a member of Windham Fire/Rescue, Police, Rescue Association, or as a dispatcher for the Town of Windham.

Surrounding the monument is a courtyard made up of benches to sit and reflect and special brick paver stones for families of first responders. The monument itself is black granite and stands 6 feet in height with white lettering and contains logos of the Windham Police and the Windham Fire/Rescue Departments, an eagle, and the American flag. Space is available on the monument to memorialize the names of police officers or firefighters should they perish in the line of duty in the future.

During the dedication event, Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield and Windham Fire/Rescue Chief Brent Libby shared their thoughts about the monument.

“Today’s activities are the culmination of two to two-and-a-half years of work,” Schofield said. “This recognizes people in public service to the community, and it means a great deal to all of us.”

Schofield introduced Karen Lewsen, the wife of the late former Windham Police Chief Richard B. “Rick” Lewsen Jr., whom he replaced as top law enforcement officer for the town in 2015. A granite bench in the courtyard is dedicated to Chief Lewsen, who died in 2022.

“We are grateful for the work that Nancy Graves, Fire Rescue Coordinator for Windham Fire Rescue did on this and for all those who placed the paver stones and worked on this monument,” Schofield said.

Windham Fire/Rescue Chief Brent Libby said the goal of the project has been to salute current and past public safety members, volunteers, and call company members, and hundreds of individuals who have served through the years with the Windham Fire Department and the Windham Police Department.

“Our goal is to dedicate and unveil this monument as a tribute and remembrance,” Libby said. “The space on the monument is reserved for those who give the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, but it hasn’t happened, and we’re committed to keeping it that way.”

Libby also pointed out that another of the black granite benches in the courtyard is inscribed “Honor Valor Sacrifice” and he said that exemplifies the mindset of everyone who serves as a firefighter, police officer, or emergency medical technician in Windham.

“Those are core tenets that police and firefighters live by every day,” Libby said.

Rev. Tim Higgins of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church said he recognizes the courtyard and the new monument at the Windham Public Safety Building as a sacred and meaningful space.

“When you come to this space to be quiet and sit and remember those who came before us, it’s really like visiting a sacred space,” Higgins said. “Sacred space is critical in our community as it is holy.”

Higgins then offered a blessing to those to whom the new monument is dedicated.

“Bless them and bless their safety,” he said. “And bless the holy space.”

He then led those attending the monument dedication in reciting the Firefighters Prayer and the Police Prayer.

Additional paver stones are available for the Public Safety Building courtyard and may be purchased by calling Nancy Graves at 207-892-1911. <