Wednesday, June 26, 2013

SummerFest: This Weekend by Michelle Libby

Starting and ending with a disco theme, is the way Summerfest coordinator Kelly Mank described the event that will take place this Saturday, despite much controversy in March when the Town of Windham cancelled Summerfest.

“It’s going to be an amazing event and what makes it even better is that we were able to pull the community together in a fraction of the time that it usually takes to organize Summerfest,” said Mank. “It shows that the community can come together.”

“We have a new fresh group of dedicated people,” said Ron Eby, who has coordinated in past years and this year is acting as a consultant and detail keeper. “The community support was always there. It just takes leaders to step up,” he said.

The day kicks off at 7:30 a.m. with registration for the 4th Annual Duane Clark Scholarship Car Show, featuring 20 classes of competition. At 9 a.m., join the Lion’s Club pancake breakfast and a 5K run and kids run which starts at the Windham High School track and then mosey across Windham Center Road where the Windham Historical Society begins its Artisan on the Green exhibit, featuring many crafters showing their skills and products.

At 10 a.m., take a helicopter ride, ride the carnival rides and the car show begins, followed by the food and game booths, which open at 11 a.m.

The parade, organized by Clarence Wisecup, which still taking additions to the parade at the time of press, starts at noon. “We were down about 20 entrants, but they’re still coming in,” he said. There will be two Shrine units and the Shaw Brothers are bringing the biggest piece of equipment in the world, and it’s less than one month old, Wisecup said.

“There’s a lot of local stuff,” he said. Of course, the Camp Sunshine monster fire truck will be showcased and a new addition, The Blue Star Ladies, who are mothers of active service members, will march with the veterans.

Kathy Varney organized the booths as she has done in past years. There will be 45 food, games and community booths ready to tempt those passing by. “There are a lot of new people joining this year than before,” said Varney. She attributes that to the visibility of the event with press coverage and an updated Facebook page.

“I’m really excited about the mix this year. It’s nice to see the new people, or the old people doing new things,” she said.

No two booths sell the same food item, she said.

“Our mission behind the food booths and games is to allow non-profit groups exposure to highlight their cause and an opportunity to raise money for their passion,” Varney said. Do to the lack of preparation time, some organizations couldn’t get their booth ready in time, she said. This mostly impacted the business expo, which was only expected to have five booths, but has 10 signed up.

“Economic times haven’t changed,” Varney said, explaining why some businesses couldn’t afford to have a booth. Adding to the fact that the Windham Economic Development Corporation, which usually gives out scholarships to businesses, was not able to do that this year, made the entry fee more than some could spend. Varney worked with Rick Sanborn on the business expo. The business expo gives companies the opportunity “to promote and showcase their businesses. We encourage each one to do a drawing, giveaways, games or something to interact with people,” Sanborn said.

Events start on the main stage at 1:30 p.m. Featuring singers, a K-9 demonstration by Sergeant Bill Andrew and Fourniers Karate demonstration. At 3:15 p.m. things really get hopping with the ever popular frog jumping contest.

From 4 p.m. until the spectacular fireworks around 9:15 p.m., the main stage rocks with Johnny the K, DeBreeze & Keys and headliner Motor Booty Affair. 

The fireworks, donated by Central Maine Pyrotechnics, will be set off by Chris Howell and his team at dusk for the grand finale to the day.

“When the fireworks goes off, you look around and see how many people start to congregate. Then you really know you’ve done what you set out to do,” said Eby. “When the first fireworks go off, there’s a collective sigh of relief (from the committee),” he said. 

 “The day of it’s a little overwhelming. I hope the community realizes how close they were to losing it,” Eby said. The sponsorships have been amazing and without them Summerfest wouldn’t have happened, Eby said. “This is all done for others. They can’t focus on personal gain – it’s for others.”

None of the events could be held if not for the fundraising that was done to help pay for entertainment, power, rentals, advertising and more. Robert York and Robin Mullins were tasked with the job of raising enough money to cover this year’s festivities and have $5,000 seed money left over for next year’s committee.

“Overall we’re meeting our goals,” said York. Fundraising efforts involved a bottle drive, donation drive, selling advertising in the Summerfest flyer, and in a little under two months the funds were raised.

“I got involved because of the lack of interest. It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of time when you’re busy at work, but it’s something my kids really enjoy,” York said.

“I’m pleased at how generous people have been,” said Mullins. “We want to thank the town for being extremely generous. To hit a goal that one time seemed impossible…”

The final fundraiser for this event is a silent auction at Summerfest. Tickets will be sold and people put them in a jar in front of the item they want. Since Summerfest has reached its goal, the money from the auction will be given to the Windham Primary School playground fund. Items will still accepted until the last minute and no item is too big or too small, said Mullins. To donate, call 310-8578 or email 
“In this age of electronics, computers, iPads, cellphone, getting people out in the fresh air to see people who live next door to them and interact face to face, that’s what’s important,” said Varney. “It’s people being with people and unplugging from technology.”

RSU 14 chooses iPads for Grades 7 and 8 by Leah Hoenen

Students, staff, administrators and board members of RSU 14 gave the thumbs up to iPads for next year’s seventh and eighth grade classes.

The groups met with Apple and HP vendors in May, said board member Mike Duffy. “The overwhelmingly favored application was the iPad,” he told board members Wednesday, June 12. “Everyone in the room said the iPad is the way to go,” he said.

Duffy said the state was offering the choice of HP or Apple products.

Students will receive iPads and teachers will receive iBooks and Apple televisions for their classrooms, said Duffy.

District technology director Bob Hickey said middle schools strongly favored the intuitive interface of a tablet. He said the Apple iPad is a cheaper tablet and comes with the largest number of installed base applications for education.

“The local cost will be zero,” said Hickey. The computers are funded for four years, he said.
The high school has Dell netbook computers which are on lease for another year, said Hickey. He said that gives the district time to do research and consider what the best technology option is for the high school moving forward.

“It would be optimal to have teachers and students on the same platform,” he said.
The iPads will be in the hands of seventh and eighth graders at the start of the next school year, Hickey said.

Egyptian dongs come to Maine looking for forever homes by Michelle Libby

Dinsmore is a cute little puppy, full of energy and he romps and plays with his older doggy siblings, but 12-week-old Dinsmore is special.

Windham resident and father of five Jim Hoar loves his animals. He was told by his wife, Debbie, that he could not have any more dogs, so he volunteered as a rescue dog transporter. He picks up dogs and drives them sometimes 100 miles to the next volunteer as one leg of a journey that takes a dog to its forever home.

“I was surfing the Facebook sites and came across ‘Save Aurora!!!’ It showed cute little puppies. Tough guy, Mr. Macho started crying,” he said of himself. The puppies, who were only weeks old, had lost their mom and were looking for new homes, but that was only the beginning of the story.

The mom was a full-blooded German Shepard and when she got pregnant by an Egyptian street dog called a Baladi, her human parents kicked her out of the house to fend for herself. She had the puppies the garden at an older woman’s house. She called the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals. While waiting for placement at the ESMA, boys from the town tried to steal the puppies and when the mom growled at the boys, one of the boy’s fathers poisoned her. Seven little puppies were left orphaned.

 Phaedra Al-Masri, an Egyptian model and soap opera star, is also an animal activist and she started the Facebook page. It was Al-Masri that Hoar contacted about transporting three of the puppies from JFK airport in New York City to Maine to meet with two ladies from Canada who were adopting the puppies. That was on May 21. Al-Masri asked Hoar if he would like one of the puppies as a gift for helping. He declined.

“I thought I could foster one, I have two other dogs,” he said. But on the ride home in driving rain at midnight, Dinsmore snuggled up to him and said, “Yeah, I’ll adopt you. I’ll rescue you,” Hoar said.
“I have become an international foster failure,” Hoar laughed.

He thought this would be a onetime thing for him. He didn’t see himself driving to JFK more than once, but Dinsmore had more brothers who needed forever homes.

“Every dog deserves a chance to make a difference in a human’s life,” Hoar said and four more needed homes. These dogs have no chance of being adopted overseas, so they turn to the US.

Hoar has been in touch with the Seeds of Peace camp offering Dinsmore as a “canine ambassador”. “Animals thrive when people come together. Even from foreign countries wondrous things can happen,” Hoar said. Dinsmore is also being sponsored by the Gray-New Gloucester Animal Hospital for all of his shots and vaccinations, according to Hoar.

Never again, happened last Friday, when Hoar returned to JFK to pick up four more puppies. However, this trip didn’t go quite as smooth. On the way home at 11 p.m., Hoar tried to change lanes and realized too late that he was being passed on the right by a tractor trailer truck. He over corrected and went off the left side of the road, totaling his wife’s 2010 SUV. The dogs were in crates and they were fine, one crate opened, but the puppy was found under the passenger seat, by Tim Riley, from Haverhill, Mass. Fire Department, who was one of the first responders on scene. Only weeks before he had put his St. Bernard to sleep, and his co-workers seeing Riley hold two of the puppies told him, “You’re wife was going to get you a new dog for Father’s Day,” they said. “These two need homes.” So Riley, who was only responding to a call, walked away with two new puppies for his 7-year-old twins, said Hoar. “You couldn’t ask for a stranger, more coincidental thing. Rescued by this rescuer,” he said. The other two puppies went to homes in Lowell, Mass. and Canada.

The story should end there for Jim Hoar and his Egyptian puppies, but it doesn’t.

“With Phaedra and a German lady paying to send them over, this system is really going to work,” Hoar said. There are three more German Shepard puppies waiting to come to the US and there are more.

The puppies are free to good homes. Each dog is fully-vetted and has a vet certificate from Egypt. Hoar does home inspections and talks with the families, who sign a contract saying they will care for the dogs and love them. If a family is interested in one of the Egyptian puppies, email 

There is no cost involved to adopt one of the dogs.

“It’s amazing how these things just work out,” Hoar said.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Relay for Life laces up for a sleepless night by Michelle Libby

Walking around the Windham High School track for 12 hours doesn’t sound like a good idea, until it’s walking around the track to raise money for the Relay for Life Sebago Lakes. The Relay for Life organization, which raises money for the American Cancer Society, plans walks nationwide and to date has raised over $4 billion toward finding a cure for cancer. This year’s Relay for Life in Windham takes place starting Saturday, June 29 and ends on Sunday, June 30, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. This year the walkers are celebrating the 100th year of the American Cancer Society.

“As a cancer survivor, the Relay for Life is an event that I look forward to every year. It feels great to be a part of such a great community event, and to know with the money raised we are making a difference,” said Windham resident and co-chair Janet Copp.

The relay began in 1985, when Dr. Gordy Klatt from Tacoma, Washington decided to walk to raise money. That night he raised $27,000. The thought behind the all-night walk is that cancer never sleeps.

Five years ago the relay came to Windham. It had been held in Falmouth before that, but they built a turf field and couldn’t hold it any longer.

“(Windham’s) a great site,” said Copp.

“Two out of three people are survivors and we need to make it three out of three,” said Copp. “The survivors…that’s why we walk.” Each year there is a survivor/caregiver reception at 4:30 p.m. An invitation goes out to all of the survivors in the area. This year’s reception is sponsored by Hope Lodge, which provides free lodging for people going through treatment and patient support.

“The survivor reception when all the survivors and caregivers get together is an awesome experience. When you participate in the survivor/caregiver lap and all the other participants line the track to cheer you on, the feeling is unbelievable and you know that you are not in this alone,” said Copp.

Most years the Sebago Lakes relay has between 500 and 600 participants. Not all walk, but they are at the track to sell items, cheer on their team or to help organize. The other co-chair is Becky Driscoll.
Throughout the night laps are themed, from a beach party to silly hats, each lap gives the participants something fun to do. Music blares all night and at 3 a.m. there is a Zumba class.

Another part of the night is the lighting of the luminaria, paper bags bought in memory of a loved one who has passed or who is fighting with cancer. Each bag is decorated in honor of one person. When they are lit, members from each team read a list of people the luminarias were made for.

“It’s so cool. All the lights are off and just the bags are lit. For me it’s the coolest part of the night,” said Copp.

“We are creating survivors and fighting against cancer,” said Copp. There is an open invitation to the community to come and check the event out. “Once you do, you’ll be back, she said.

The goal for the event is to raise $75,000.

To donate or walk with a team, visit www. or email

Oklahoma Connection by Michelle Libby

Sometimes one doesn’t have to be in the affected area to be affected by a tornado. Shelley and Chris Chappell recently moved to Gray from the area in Oklahoma devastated by a tornado in May. In under one hour, 38,000 people were displaced out of the 58,000 people in Moore, Oklahoma and damage totals more than $1.5 billion, according to Shelley.

“It’s a really sad situation,” she said.

In 2003, the Chappell’s lived in that area and helped rebuild when a tornado took virtually the same path through the town. They still own a house in Oklahoma City. Even though they now live in Maine, they still wanted to help their friends and family who live in Oklahoma.

Shelley created the foundation “Bears, Backpacks & Blessings” to collect and deliver donations for the children of Oklahoma who “desperately need all our help.”

“Within 90 minutes we were up and running and snowballing really fast,” Shelley said.
“We have family members, friends and deep roots of love and commitment to the State of Oklahoma,” Shelley said. “However, this is our home now,” she said. “It makes me proud to live here and help there.”

The goal of the foundation is to assemble and deliver 500 to 1,000 backpacks filled with new items for six- to 12-year-olds. She suggested stuffed animals, coloring books, sticker books, Leap Frog systems and games, $25 gift cards to Target, Staples and Walmart for clothing as well as hygiene supplies and other educational technology. She is hoping to raise $15,000 to buy bikes, electronics and necessities for the children in Moore.

They plan to deliver the filled backpacks on July 6. They have volunteers from Maine who will drive a snowmobile trailer filled with supplies to Moore. They are also receiving help from the American Legion in Windham. One hundred percent of all donations will be given to the children of Oklahoma affected by the May 2013 tornado.

Businesses are beginning to get involved with fundraising. UNO Chicago Grills in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire are fundraising until July 7, to support the “Bears, Backpacks & Blessings” mission. Customers need to have a ticket that says 20 percent of the meal is to be donated to “Bears, Backpacks & Blessings,” Shelley said. Bring the ticket found in The Windham Eagle June 14 edition with you. The nearest UNOs is next to the Maine Mall in South Portland. A woman from Connecticut shipped beanie babies to be given away. Paula Sparks is donating 500 hand-quilted pillowcases. MSAD 15 schools have agreed to help by putting boxes in each building to collect items.

West coast comedian Elijah Tindall is touring Oklahoma, Arkansas, Arizona and California with his Moore Laughs Comedy Benefit Tour, where all proceeds will go to “Bears, Backpacks & Blessings.”
“People have just called us from all over,” Shelley said.

Shelley intends to keep the foundation going even after the shipment is delivered. Her goal is to make this a State of Maine foundation that sends hope to children and even elderly people when there is tragedy and devastation in Maine first and then other areas affected by tornado devastation. Shelley feels that getting a backpack will help cheer people up and make them know that someone cares.

“We need more people in the State of Maine to get involved and get behind what we’re doing,” Shelley said.

To donate items or money, visit To date they have raised $1,700 toward the goal of $15,000. Gift cards can be dropped off at MSAD 15 offices and by contacting Shelley at

“This shows the power of what one person can do,” she said. “We just had to do our part.”

Windham music teacher named as quarterfinalist for GRAMMY Foundation award by Elizabeth Richards

Dr. Richard Nickerson, Director of Choral Activities at Windham High School, has been named a quarterfinalist for the first Music Educator Award to be presented by the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation. 

The award was created to recognize educators from K through college in public or private schools “who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education, and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools,” according to a news release from the Grammy Foundation.  The award, announced on the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, was open to all current US music teachers.  Nominated teachers were notified and invited to fill out an application.

There were 217 music teachers from 45 states selected as quarterfinalists, from over 30,000 nominations submitted.  The award recipient will be selected from 10 finalists, and the award will be presented for the first time at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony during Grammy Week 2014.  Semifinalists will be named in August.

Windham produced 'Skeeter Skidaddler keeps bugs at bay by Leah Hoenen

From Maine’s North Woods to the Amazon jungle, the planet’s most feared swarms of biting insects have met their match. What’s stopping them is ‘Skeeter Skidaddler, a pleasant-smelling blend of herbal extracts developed and made in Windham.

In 2007, Windham resident Allen Pollock, co-founded the Lakes Region Farmers Market, where he planned to sell organic produce. “When you do market gardening, it’s all the time. You’ve got to be out there,” said Pollock, who is allergic to insect bites.

Ready to grow produce for the market and wary of the bugs, he started looking for an effective insect repellant with a nice fragrance, but couldn’t find one he liked. He wanted to avoid DEET, and had questions about some commonly-used herbal oils. For example, rosemary oil is mildly toxic, Pollock said, and citronella is relatively ineffective.

So, Pollock did some research and started to create his own product, which he decided to sell at the market alongside his produce. “Some essential oils that seemed to be benign were not being used,” he said. One such oil was eucalyptus.

Pollock had recalled a bit of information his father, a veteran of the Second World War in Asia, shared with him years before when he was growing up in San Jose, California. “He knew I was allergic to bugs. He was a subtle man. At the time, I liked the smell of eucalyptus and would put it in my hair. He said to me, ‘You’ll notice there are not a lot of mosquitoes in a eucalyptus grove.’ I remembered that,” Pollock said.

The first year ‘Skeeter Skidaddler was offered for sale, he pasted photocopied labels on purchased bottles. “I sold 85 bottles the first year and realized people are coming back to buy this. It’s not just a one-time thing,” he said.

Pollock used the spray, and sent some to his brother who lives in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. “He said it was good stuff,” said Pollock.

Sales went up the second year ‘Skeeter Skidaddler was at the farmers’ market. Pollock describes himself as conservative when it comes to risk, so he developed his business slowly. In 2009, he sold 180 bottles at the market. “I’m making far more money selling this at the market than I am selling radishes or lettuce,” he said. At the end of that year, Pollock quit the market because he couldn’t produce and sell the bug spray and grow and sell vegetables.

Since then, he’s begun selling wholesale to retailers and has purchased some used processing equipment. Pollock built his own filler, and mixes the batches and labels the bottles by hand. It can make for a long day, since Pollock also works with computers at Maine Medical Center. Logging the hours necessary to build a business is what makes an entrepreneur successful, he said. Recently, he and his wife, Elaine, traveled to Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina promoting ‘Skeeter Skidaddler.

“It’s not just a product for northern species. I’ve had people use it in Haiti, the Amazon jungle, Bali, Vietnam, and it works just as well there as in northern area like Minnesota or Maine,” said Pollock.
‘Skeeter Skidaddler is made of essential oils mixed with organic sunflower oil. Pollock is careful to buy from suppliers that name the sources of their oils and buys nothing from China. “The Chinese have a culture of having absolutely no responsibility for what they’re selling. They think that’s your problem, not their problem,” said Pollock.

Oils in ‘Skeeter Skidaddler come from Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia. The cedarwood oil is sourced in the United States. “None are organic as in the sense of being labeled organic, but they’re steam distilled. There’s no hexane used,” said Pollock.

He noted that there are no genetically-engineered sunflowers, and that the sunflower oil he uses is processed in Denmark from Romanian seeds. “One of the good things about E.U. is they generally have to play safe. I wouldn’t use anything from Ukraine because of the radioactivity. Concentrates can have much more toxicity per unit, because it’s concentrated. Why expose anybody to that?” said Pollock.

In the formulation of ‘Skeeter Skidaddler, Pollock has put his concern for safety first and foremost. “I didn’t want to assume it’s all good until somebody proves otherwise,” said Pollock. That’s why he avoided oils, such as rosemary, which are known to be toxic and to accumulate in fatty tissue.
And, because people like to spend time with their dogs outside, Pollock formulated a dog version of ‘Skeeter Skidaddler which does not include cedarwood oil which can irritate dogs’ skin. “I was concerned that people would use the human product on dogs and it would cause dermatitis,” he said.
‘Skeeter Skidaddler is available in its original formulation, in the pet-friendly version or without patchouli.

“It’s in a small bottle and it’s concentrated essential oils. There is no water and no propellant, so you get the maximum benefit of the oil,” said Pollock.

Look for the small silver bottles for sale in stores around the lakes region. Further information and a list of retailers may be found online at

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Remodeled Raymond fire station rededication by Leah Hoenen

With the uncoupling of a pair of fire hoses, officers of the Raymond Fire Rescue Department officially reopened the District 2 station, which has just undergone an interior remodel.

The department held an open house on Wednesday, May 22, during Emergency Medical Services week, to give community members and those involved in the project a chance to see the final product, visit with department members and tour fire trucks and an ambulance.

The building was originally constructed in the late 1970s and remained largely unchanged since, said Cathy Gosselin, Deputy Chief of the Raymond Fire Rescue Department. “We completely remodeled the living quarters,” she said. While the station does not house live-in staff, the living apartment is available for storm coverage and other big events during which personnel may need to stay, she said.
A team of volunteers donated time and material to the project, said department Chief Bruce Tupper. Because of their contributions, the cost of the project remained low and the department was able to save some expenses.

“I think the project came out very well. We are thankful to the town and selectmen for their support,” said Tupper.

Gosselin said the walls and ceilings were all repainted and a former office is now a living area, while new heating was installed along with an exhaust system to clear fumes from the building when vehicles are started inside. With cream-colored walls and light wood cabinets, the area is bright and welcoming. Floor tiles and a range were donated to the project, she said.

Tupper said the project was very much the result of a community effort, and he thanked volunteers for hundreds of hours spent painting, cleaning, wiring and doing other work to move the project ahead while keeping costs to the town low. “Our folks did a lot of work,” he said, noting that the building was originally constructed by volunteers.

Standing before the Webbs Mills Road building and its new sign, the officers rededicated the building to the memory of department member Joel Bennett, who was 16 years old when he died driving fire apparatus in 1957.

Tupper said the department wants to collect the names of as many people who have been involved with the department as possible. The fire service sees periodic turnover in personnel, he said, and sometimes people’s work and contributions are forgotten. This summer, the department plans to solicit information from the community to help reverse that trend, said Tupper.

The Raymond Fire Rescue Department has 35 members in its on-call company along with four full-time paramedic/firefighter positions, said Gosselin. The department has a Fire Rescue Association which is open to all community members, not only firefighters.

Correctional Center opens showroom in Windham by Leah Hoenen

The Maine Correctional Showroom has opened a new retail store along Route 302 where handmade furniture, woodworks, gifts and more are for sale.

The center formerly sold goods made by inmates of the Maine Correctional Center in Windham at its outlet store on Mallison Road.

On a rainy Saturday morning, cars streamed into the store’s parking lot minutes after opening and soon Bob Walden, Industries Program Director, was speaking with a customer about the importance of meaningful work.

Customers milled around the showroom, inspecting novelties and gifts, birdhouses and wooden toys, and a variety of furniture pieces. The corrections department hopes the new facility will allow it to greatly expand offerings.

Industrial programs are common in correctional facilities across the country, but none are as diversified as this one, said Walden, standing before shelf after shelf of handmade products. Behind glossy turned wooden bowls sits a model of the U.S.S. Constitution, which he said took more than 300 hours to create.

The Correctional Center in Windham has had an industries program for about a decade, said Walden.
“There has been an industries program in all five adult facilities dating to 1824,” he said. The revenue from retail helps offset the cost of running the program, he said, and the corrections department tries to offer as many positions in the industries programs as possible. Currently, 220 inmates work in industries programs statewide, spending six to eight hours a day learning and improving their skills, said Walden.

To be eligible to participate, inmates must maintain a clean disciplinary record and follow their case plans, Walden said. Industrial programs include woodworking, textiles and machining.

The program offers industrial training and chances for advancement within the system, Walden said.
Inmates earn between 35 cents and $3 an hour depending on their skills and responsibilities, he said. They must save money and what they earn helps pay debts, such as crime restitution and child support, Walden said. “They have to make good on their financial responsibilities on the street first,” he said, noting that any additional money may be spent at the correctional center’s canteen.

“Woodworking has a very therapeutic aspect. A great deal of creativity can come with it once you have the basics. They can be very proud of what they are able to create, and we know there is no limit to what you can create with wood,” Walden said.

Maine has begun to track the recidivism rate of those who worked in industries, but won’t have data for some years to come, said Walden. National data, however, suggests recidivism drops in half for those who participated in industrial programs for two or more years, he said.

The new store is the contact point for anyone interested in having furniture refinished or reupholstered, as well as for those who are looking for custom pieces, said Walden.

Walden said the center is allowed to sell to the public, but strives to not create competition with private business. Instead, he said, the woodshop can enhance local businesses through wholesale or special work for other businesses.

For now, the store will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Eventually, it will be open 7 days a week.

Music with a Mission: Great music supports local causes by Elizabeth Richards

A concert series sponsored by the North Windham Union Church offers members of the community an opportunity to enjoy a variety of high quality musical performances by area talent, while also contributing to local charitable causes.

Jim McBride, chair of the Music with a Mission committee, said inspiration for the series came after the church hosted a concert by Ithacapella, a men’s a capella group from Ithaca College which includes Windham High School graduate Chris Frost. “They packed the place,” said McBride. “It was full of energy, hope and love for terrific music. “ McBride said this concert inspired an idea. If they could get that many people to attend a concert, why not do it every month? Thus, a concert series was born, to support both the church and the programs in the community.

The Music with a Mission committee works hard to promote the concerts through word of mouth, an email list, their website and a Facebook page. “By necessity we’ve been forced to try to keep the advertising low,” said McBride. They are, however, confident that word is getting out.

Though there is no formal benchmark or measuring stick, the series is going well, especially considering that it was put together in just about 30 days, said NWUC Minister of Music Dr. Richard Nickerson. “Our concerts have certainly been successful, especially that first one. We didn’t know what we were getting into, and we just hoped people would show up.” And they did, with close to 180 people attending the first show. The church can hold 300 people, and McBride hopes that some of the upcoming shows will have a full house.

There have been three concerts in the series to date. In addition to raising funds for the church, these three concerts have raised over $1,300 to support local charities. The entertainers for the evening select which local nonprofit will be the beneficiary.

The first concert, An Evening of Bluegrass, benefitted Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors. The second concert, featuring The Squid Jiggers, went to support the Natural Resource Council of Maine’s “Clean Air, Clean Energy,” project. The Bellamy Jazz Band played at the latest concert, held on Saturday, May 25th. The Lewiston Fire Relief Fund, which provides support to families displaced by the recent fires in Lewiston, was the recipient of the funds from this concert. The United Way of Androscoggin County was on hand to speak about the program, and also urged attendees to join their ongoing efforts to combat hunger in Maine, by donating food to local food pantries in their communities.

Though the performers choose the charity, Nickerson said that the goal is to keep these donations local. He added that the selected organization is also given an opportunity to come and share information about their program to those in attendance.

Both McBride and Nickerson are encouraged by the fact that when looking out at the audiences in attendance, there are plenty of people in attendance who are not from the church. “That’s what we want; to bring people in, give them a great evening of music, raise a little money, and expose them to the great work that’s going on in the church,” said McBride.

There are concerts scheduled through October, and the series will continue for as long as there’s energy around it, said McBride. “There’s no shortage of talent. We’ve got a long, long list of entertainers and performers that we would love to have come and showcase their stuff,” he said. “Windham has a community-wide passion for music,” he added. “The challenge for us, frankly, might be finding weekends that we’re not stomping on somebody else’s show.”

The next concert on the schedule is The Milltown Road Show on Friday, June 28. There are five concerts currently scheduled, with more to be added. The current concert schedule and ticket information can be found on the series’ website, The committee can be contacted at