Saturday, July 18, 2015

New Windham Parks and Recreation director Linda Brooks - By Elizabeth Richards

Linda Brooks, the new Parks and Recreation Director for Windham, is no stranger to this work. For 21 years she was the Parks and Recreation Director in Standish. On June 15th, she jumped into her new position in Windham at one of the busiest times of year.
Brooks has a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from the University of Connecticut. She worked in that field for a time before taking on the job in Standish, which began as part-time out of her home and built to full time over the years. In that position, she worked with the parks and recreation committee closely to meet the needs of the residents in the community. Accomplishments include building a skate park, two playgrounds, and an outdoor skating rink.
Brooks said the Windham opportunity presented itself at the right time in life. Her five children are mostly grown, and the Windham position presents new challenges and different opportunities while still being close to her Standish home. 

Parks and Recreation is bustling in the summer months, and Brooks has jumped in with both feet. There are some projects already in motion that the department is looking at to determine the next best steps, including a forest management plan for the Lowell Preserve, which has had some controversy surrounding it, Brooks said. The skate park is also on the radar. Brooks used Windham’s skate park as a model when working on the one in Standish. The skate park has been a great resource to the community, she said, but is in need of some attention and enhancement. Other programs were up and running smoothly when she arrived, she said, such as the summer camp program and Dundee Park. Long term and returning staff in both programs made the transition very smooth for this time of year, said Brooks.

 Another project that was in progress when she arrived is the new playground at Donnabeth Lippman Park. “There are some great Eagle Scout projects already underway there, so that’s nice to see,” said Brooks.

Looking forward, Brooks can see many opportunities to build upon. Sports programs are mainly run by private entities, a model Brooks said she likes. “The recreation department has many things that they can be accomplishing. I always feel it’s good to collaborate with those youth sports organizations,” she said. “We need to look at what those sports organizations might need from us and how we can assist.”
Finding space to locate desired programming is an issue in any community, said Brooks. “I’m kind of thinking outside the box about where those programs might be able to be offered and how,” she said. There has already been an expressed desire for a community center, and that is something the town has considered. 

“It’s nice to think about where the department could go if that resource were available,” said Brooks. “The possibilities are endless when you have a place to bring people together.”

Because the town is so vast, Brooks finds herself venturing out to explore all the recreational opportunities the town has to offer. With people spread out on both ends of town, finding ways to bring them together is a passion of hers, she said. “I like finding that way that families and kids can recreate together and feel like they’re contributing.”

Brooks said they are also looking at re-establishing the recreation committee. There is already a Dundee Park advisory committee, but this would be a general recreation advisory committee. “I can see the value of that,” she said. “I think that much of what we were able to accomplish in Standish was with very valued volunteers. They are the heart of the community and can bring about so much more accomplishment when we are working together as a team. I look forward to getting that back in place,” she said.

Family is very important to Brooks. Her five children are nearing adulthood, she said and they all enjoy family time together, particularly in the outdoors. They also recently bought a house in the center of Bridgton, and much of their spare time will be spent doing renovations.

Annie Get Your Gun premiers on local stage - By Michelle Libby

Last weekend Schoolhouse Arts Center opened the curtain on Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun. The musical featured the tale of Annie Oakley as she became known as the “best shot around” by beating Frank Butler, the featured act in Colonel Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and taking over as the star in the show, hoping to increase the show’s bottom line. A romance between Annie and Frank blossoms, but Frank has a hard time when Annie shows him up with a gun. 
If you’re not familiar with the show, you still might recognize songs like “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly”, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “Anything You Can Do”. The show is a fun, musical experience in the cool comfort of the recently remodeled Schoolhouse theater. 

Under the direction of Rob Juergens, the show showcases the talent of local residents, especially Dorothy Stickney as Annie Oakley and Ryan Lane as Frank Butler. 
“Some people have this idea that the director is a type of dictator that bends the actors and crew to his will, ultimately reproducing his exact image upon the stage. Right…Everyone has his or her input,” said Juergens. 

Stickney played the uneducated and unsocialized Annie with an unapologetic innocence that I only can imagine took some time to perfect. Her song “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun” had the audience laughing at the fun play on words like “pistol packing mamas”. She made Annie Oakley come alive on the stage so much that my husband went home to look up the Oakley story when we arrived home. 

Lane was terrific as Frank Butler. He conquered his large portion of the songs like a professional with a strong voice. His attitude when he was beat by Annie rang true for the time period. This was his first time performing at the Schoolhouse. 

Other great performances were given by Clare McKelway at Dolly Take, who was in love with Frank Butler and did not like Annie. Chief Sitting Bull played by Michael Wozich provided color and humor. Annie’s siblings were great, often switching out to play other roles, were John Malcolm Lowell Ulmer, Corinne Sophia Ulmer, Phoebe Johnston and Meghan Elizabeth Reidy. Danny Gay also had numerous roles, which he portrayed well.  

All in all I would not hesitate to recommend this show to anyone looking for a night out with great live entertainment. The show will run through August 2 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 5 p.m. Adult tickets are $18. Seniors and students are $16. Visit for more detailed information or contact the Schoolhouse Arts Center at Schoolhouse Arts Center is located at 16 Richville Road (Route 114) in Standish.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Quarter-gunner Daniel S. Milliken honored - By David Tanguay

July 4th, 8 a.m., Riverside Cemetery, Raymond. Cars arrive discharging their passengers. Some are in heavy woolen Civil War uniforms with muskets and swords. Some are in bright white US Navy summer uniforms, some in suit and tie, others in more casual attire befitting the summer day. 

The Raymond Fire chief arrived in his official blue uniform and with several firemen, two with gleaming, polished axes. Raymond Boy Scout Troop 800 arrived as do members of the Raymond Select Board and office staff. Veterans were there as well, some in Legion and VFW caps, others in remnants of their service uniforms.

At 9 a.m., the participants form up, and the ceremony begins. What is the occasion? A funeral? Not on that day. Instead it was a remembrance of a Civil War Veteran and Medal of Honor recipient buried in Riverside Cemetery with no flag to indicate his status as a Veteran, or a Civil War Navy quarter-gunner and a Medal of Honor recipient. 

With the ceremony all that changed. Master of Ceremony, US Navy CDR (retired) Dave Tanguay, called the group of approximately 50 individuals to focus on what they were witnessing. US Navy Captain (retired) chaplain, Dana Reed, gave an invocation and asked all to remember those who have gone before us on this 4th of July, those that have paved the way for the freedoms we now enjoy.
Dave Tanguay followed with a brief review of the life of Daniel S Milliken, who was born in Saco in 1841 and served in the Union Navy on the USS New Ironsides as a lad in his early twenties. 

He was a Civil War Veteran and a US flag was place on his grave by Town of Raymond, board member, Sam Gifford, also a Veteran during the Korean Conflict.

Tanguay continued with the history of the Battle of Fort Fisher North Carolina in the winter of 1864 and 1865 where Daniel S Milliken, a quarter-gunner on the New Ironsides, manned an 11-inch Dahlgren cannon that laid crippling fire to Fort Fisher. For his actions he is awarded the Medal of Honor in Aug of 1870. He lived out the remainder of his life in and around Raymond, Maine, marrying twice and having no children. In his early fifties, he was hospitalized with consumption and died at age 58 in 1899. He was buried next to his second wife, Francis, in Riverside Cemetery with a plain, white, VA marker that indicates only his name and the date of his passing.

The stone that was dedicated on the fourth of July as a memorial is set as a foot stone. It is white granite with a depiction of the USS New Ironsides flanked by an image of the 1861 Medal of Honor. Below the ship is the name, “Daniel S. Milliken” with the date he received the Medal of Honor.

Milliken was given honors long past due. James Bunting Sr., a WWII veteran and his son James Jr., from Wilmington, NC (and Raymond), were escorted to the memorial stone to place a blue and white Medal of Honor Flag in the holder. Members of Boy Scout Troop 800 of Raymond followed and placed a blue and white carnation wreath at the stone in remembrance.

Raymond select board chairman Mike Reynolds read a town proclamation recognizing Milliken as a Raymond Town Hero and recognized the contributions of the Field-Allen Post in the ceremony. He then presented the proclamation to the American Legion Post 148 Commander, Mel Greenier, who accepted on behalf of the post.

A brief prayer by Chaplain Reed followed. Tanguay then turned the program over to Third Maine Captain David Gowen who rendered military honors from the Civil War period. 

The Fire Department stood at attention with axes at present arms. The veterans in uniform saluted and the remaining crowd uncovered and placed their hand or hat over their heart as a token of honor and remembrance. The Civil War clad infantry rifle squad fired a 3-volley musket salute and was followed by the haunting sound of taps.

Quarter-gunner Daniel S Milliken is now part of the history of Raymond, Maine and will be remembered.
The crowd mingled, and thins; the chairs were quickly swept up. Stillness returned to Riverside Cemetery with a bright blue and white wreath and flag to catch the eye.

All photos by Bob Christie, Post Historian

Windham student attends Congress of Future Medical Leaders - By Elizabeth Richards

In late June, students from all around the country came together for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Boston, MA. Among those attending was Chantai Chevannes, who recently finished her freshman year at Windham High School. 
Chevannes was nominated to represent Maine at the congress by Dr. Connie Mariano, the Medical Director of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, which sponsors the congress. Chevannes said the nomination came as a big surprise. 
“I got a letter in the mail,” she said. “It was totally out of the blue. I never knew I was actually good enough for something like that until now.”

A press release described the congress as an honors-only program for high school students interested in becoming physicians or going into medical research fields. Its purpose is to honor, inspire, motivate and direct these students to stay true to their dream, and also to provide a path, plan and resources after the event to help them reach their goal.

“This is a crucial time in America when we need more doctors and medical scientists who are even better prepared for a future that is changing exponentially,” said Richard Rossi, Executive Director, National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists. “Focused, bright and determined students like Chantai Chevannes are our future and she deserves all the mentoring and guidance we can give her.”

The rigorous schedule included hearing Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science winners speak, advice for participants from Ivy League and top medical school deans on what to expect in medical school, inspiring stories told by patients considered to be modern medical miracles, and teen medical science prodigy speakers, opportunities for questions, and other group activities. 

Chevannes said she enjoyed meeting people from all over the country, and was impressed by the speakers she heard. One of these, Dr. J. Craig Venter, was someone she had written a science report about in eighth grade. 

“It was really cool to see him in person,” she said. Another portion of the Congress that made an impression on her was watching surgeons in action via video chat. This taught her how surgeons use teamwork to perform surgery, she said. 

Chevannes said she has thought about becoming either a genetic engineer or a surgeon. She said she was a little surprised to be selected for the congress, she said that it felt great. “I’ve always known I wanted to do something in the medical field, but after this congress I really feel like I can,” she said. 

On the final day of the Congress, participants took the Hippocratic Oath. “After taking it, it just felt like my future locked into place,” said Chevannes.