Monday, October 26, 2015

Octoberfest draws thousands to Feed the Need - By Michelle Libby

This year Octoberfest, a part of the Feed the Need outreach by the Sebago Lakes Chamber of Commerce, moved to Camp William Hinds in Raymond to offer more space, parking and activities on the shore of Panther Pond. 
We see the event as a phenomenal success. We do feel we had a large increase in participation this year at our new location and feedback from participants has been extremely positive,” said Sebago Lakes Chamber of Commerce executive director Amiee Senatore.

It was estimated that between 3,000 and 4,000 people enjoyed time at Camp Hinds. 

Feed the Need helps raise money for the 11 food pantries in the 10 communities it serves. Feed the Need encompasses Octoberfest and the Community Coin Challenge, which raised close to $18,000 last year. This year they plan to reach $20,000 after all of the money is counted.  

The Feed the Need Initiative has several components to it from a fundraising perspective...and the Coin Challenge will continue to be a part of that. We will continue to grow the event and expand our ways to "give",” said Senatore.

People who attended the event were asked to make donations for activities and items that were given away. Many things like food, the helicopter rides and seaplane rides has a minimum suggested amount. The seaplane and helicopter were donated by Matthew McFadden of Naples Seaplane Adventures and Dick Dyke from Windham Weaponry. 

The Sebago Lake Rotary Club held its annual chili and chowder cook off at Octoberfest and crowned Rustlers from Windham the chili winner and Saint Joseph’s College (Pearson’s CafĂ©) the chowder winner. A portion of those proceeds went to Feed the Need. The Rotary also donated through their Feet for Food Walk. 

“The chamber looks to create a charitable foundation before next year’s event so that businesses can use charitable funds instead of money from their marketing budgets. I think that change will allow us to raise a lot more because we can introduce crowd funding as well,” said Senatore. 

Thank yous go out to presenting sponsors Allen Faraday from Windham Weaponry and Sheri Huff from Lee’s Family Trailer Sales, Eric Tarbox and Tucker Adams from the Pine Tree Council and Camp Hinds for their help with the location. Community champions were Pine Tree Council, DownEast Energy, Mechanics Savings Bank, Gorham Savings Bank, ServPro of Portland, Tricia Zwirner State Farm, Sebago Lake Rotary Club. Final thanks go to all the volunteers and exhibitors who worked so hard to make the day a huge success, said Senatore.

Public Works looks to November referendum to solve its space issue - By Michelle Libby

This November Windham Public Works department will be on the ballot, looking for $7.7 million to build a new building on the same property to share with the RSU14 transportation department. It is the number one priority for the town at this time. 
“We need this to help us maintain the town’s infrastructure to the best of our ability - this building puts so many constraints on us,” said public works director Doug Fortier.
The need for this upgrade was apparent 15 years ago when it was put on the ballot and defeated by a four to five margin due in part to the need for upgrades and expansion of Windham High School, said town manager Tony Plante. “This is not a new need.” 

In 2013 a property condition assessment was conducted and it failed each component. According to the information handed out by the town the obvious issues were, the site circulation conflicts between public works, school and public users, lack of security, lack of storm water management/treatment, inadequate employee/public parking, undersized fuel storage tanks, no indoor vehicle wash bay, not ADA accessible and inadequate storage. 

What the public works crews and the RSU14 transportation team are working with is outdated space for a job that has become more demanding and regulations more stringent. The existing building was opened in 1980 and then had two additional bays built over the next four years. The school transportation office was moved into portables, then trailers, and now is in a modular building. The crews from the two entities shared space where there really wasn’t any space for them. The lunch and break tables are located just inside the public works office door. The public works crew has lockers crammed into a closet sized space taken from parts storage, but nowhere to take off boots or to dry wet clothing after plowing all night. Sixteen employees work out of the public works building presently. 

“This building is basically one-third the size it needs to be,” said Plante. After discussing needs with each department it was determined that a new facility would need to be 23,000 square feet just for public works. The school department adds on an additional 8,000 square feet. The existing space is 11,200 square feet. 

On November 3, 2015, if voters approve the referendum, official plans will be created, the work will go out to bid and then building will begin, according to Fortier. He anticipates the move in date to be in 2017 or 2018. 

“Rebuilding is not an option. Public works can’t take the year off while construction is going on,” said Plante. If construction is taking place on the other side of the lot, then they can continue to operate.
With the new plan, traffic and workflow will be better and the entire property will have a better footprint. The work will meet or exceed current standards, said Plante. There are two retention ponds in the new plan which will help to clean the run off of grease and oils before it goes into the Pleasant River. The new building will also be further away from the river creating a smaller environmental footprint, said Plante. 

“The building was never designed for what it does now,” he said. 

The new building will be a class 4 structure that can withstand hurricanes and tornados. “We still will need to work out of it,” said Fortier. The cost however does go up when building a more structurally sound structure. 

“We realize you’re spending money,” said Nadeau. “This is going to last for a long time.” The Town of Windham only has one debt, a combination of a road bond and the high school project. It is estimated that it will be paid off in 2022. 

“In 1978, when this was built, Route 302 was a two lane road. See how much the town has changed,” said Fortier. In 1980, the population of Windham was 11,000, now it is close to 18,000 residents. 

“We keep putting Band-Aids on it,” said highway maintenance supervisor Mike Constantine. 

Some of the additions in the new building will be drive through bays for the trucks and an indoor wash bay to help keep equipment clean in the wintertime, which in turn will slow down corrosion and rust to hydraulic lines and cables. 

“We do premature maintenance and repairs. We know we’re losing life because we can’t wash during the winter,” he added. “We know it. We can’t put a number on it.” Public works takes care not only of the trucks, but police cars, school buses and town vehicles, a total of more than 50 vehicles.  

“It effects reliability and safety at some point,” Plante added. Broken equipment and trucks are not out on the road. 

“The public doesn’t see how the maintenance and mechanics have to coordinate projects,” said Constantine. The team doesn’t have the space to do routine maintenance, only work on trucks and buses that are broken in some way. 

“We don’t have that luxury here,” said Fortier. 

In the new building, all maintenance workers will be able to share equipment and help one another. The building and ground maintenance team doesn’t fit in the existing building and has a shed and space at the Windham Town Hall during the summer months. 

With the proposed conceptual plan for the new building and garage, trucks will be able to get out on the roads an hour earlier during a snow storm because they can be loaded the night before and left inside, requiring no warm up time for hydraulics and other fluids, said town council chairman Dave Nadeau.
In the new plan efficiency and value, productivity, convenience/public access, safety and security and environmental impact are addressed. The life span of the new building is 50 years and it is anticipated that it will serve the town well. 

“We’re one of the more rapidly growing communities in southern Maine. It has to be built to build the population,” said Plante. “The best option is to replace it.” 

There will be an open house at the public works building at 185 Windham Center Road on Saturday, October 24 and October 31. The public is invited to come to the facility to see the equipment, the space, and imagine where the new building would be located.  

“We want them to see the restraints put on us by the facilities,” said Fortier. “We’re doing the best we can because what choice do we have at this time?”

Triple B Party with a purpose kicked up more than its heels - By Michelle Libby

Last Saturday night, close to 400 people gathered to celebrate Riding to the Top, a local therapeutic riding center that helps people with disabilities reach their highest potential through the healing power of horses. 
The Triple b stands for boots, band and BBQ and it lived up to its name. People from all over the area turned out in their western wear, hats and boots included, to eat BBQ from DennyMike’s and dance to live music featuring Under the Covers. In between the dinner and dancing, slide shows featuring the participants in the program and the horses were shown and a mission based auction was held. 

A mission based auction is a different kind of fundraiser where everyone wins for exactly what they want to win for. The biggest winner this night was the riders and the horses. People gave generously starting at $5,000 and incrementally dropping the amount until $50 and lower. 

For the riders, who could be anyone between the ages of three and 83, the attendees raised close to $36,000 and for the 16 horses the total was close to $37,000.  The average cost to take care of the horses, just for well care, is $75,000 for one year.  

A signed, authenticated Tom Brady Patriots jersey was auctioned off in the traditional auction manner and raised $2,100. 

Auctioneer Elizabeth Holmstrom has been holding auctions for Riding to the Top for 15 years. “It’s my absolute favorite event because of the lives they touch and the lives the horses touch,” she told the audience. Her energy, passion for what she was doing was obvious from the creative songs she sang and the jacket she created covered with lights so people could see her better. 

RTT parent Bo Bigelow spoke about his young daughter and the therapy she has received at the farm. “With a child with special needs, there are so many curveballs and because of those never ending curveballs the constants are the parts of life that are not curveballs and we build around those fixed points. RTT is one of those constants.” 

When Tess started at RTT, she could not walk, was non-verbal and each day her father carried her out of the ring. “Gradually something clicked,” he said. Now, a year and a half later, the 5-year-old is walking independently. 

“What are the right words to say to the people who have taught your child to walk?” Bigelow asked. “Thank you for being a constant and a star to navigate by. For seeing my daughter as a whole person, seeing that she has a will and a talent you can tap into.” 

For this one story, there were more families in the audience with their own story, ready to share with anyone who asked. 

There was a boot contest and raffles featuring a Thos. Moser rocker, trips to Sugarloaf, Migis Lodge and more. 

The evening raised close to $115,000.  

“The Triple B is our largest fundraising event of the year. We receive no federal or state funds - our events, volunteers and donors keep our doors open and riders in the saddle. I am humbled by the generous support of our sponsors, donors and volunteers who gave so generously of their time, talent and treasure to make this year’s Triple B the best ever!” said executive director Sarah Bronson.
Donations can be made year round at