Friday, August 26, 2016

Flip to a Different Eagle Section

Pleasant River Bridge undergoes load test - By Stephen Signor

It was just a few days ago drivers in Windham were being encouraged to avoid the bridge over the Pleasant River on Windham Center Road for the purpose of load testing the span. As Scott, a second year research engineer with the University of Maine explained, “This is part of ongoing research being conducted as a result of a multi-year contract with the University of Maine system and the MDOT for the purpose of establishing a bridge’s efficiency.”

The University’s participation stems from its Advanced Structures and Composites Center which provides research, education and economic development encompassing material sciences, manufacturing and engineering of composites and structures. And while a successful test is the obvious goal, the results at this point in the test are not conclusive. “Further analysis of the data takes about a year”, Scott said.

Click for RSU14 bus routesTo accomplish this load test, “a full day is needed to carefully and precisely set up sensors that will be located in key point locations underneath the bridge”, said Josh Simpson, E.I.T., a 3-year assistant engineer and bridge inspector for MDOT. What happens next is that on the following day “two fully loaded dump trucks, containing a standard load of sand and gravel and provided by the MDOT, are then parked on predetermined marked locations. These two trucks will then move just inches back and forth in the proximity of where sensors are located the bridge, their wheels stopping periodically on the markers. As a static load this will provide valuable information on structural integrity,” explained Simpson. 

Using a laptop this information is uploaded for immediate review. “If the numbers are within a
certain range, then four trucks will be used to complete the test. If the numbers should not fall within the required results this sends up a red flag,” Simpson continued. He also brought home the point that, “Codes are established initially as conservative for safety reasons. Tests like this one then gives the department a real number to justify the conservative numbers.”

In the planning of the load test motorist considerations were also taken into account. Something as simple as a spray paint was used. Scott indicated, “Using spray paint, marks are made on the road service to indicate the placement of the dump trucks wheels. Since there are several marks for accurate test results doing it this way is time saving as opposed to using a tape measure for each individual mark before moving on to the next spot.
According to the Maine Department of Transportation website this bridge was built in 1950. The bridge was last inspected in December of 2012, at which time it received a Federal Sufficiency Rating of 66.7 out of a possible 100. Those results were posted in a report dated 07/17/2013.
In the coming months similar tests will be performed statewide to insure that Maine’s infrastructure is maintained to provide safe and worry free traveling.

Fresh, local food high priority for RSU14 school nutrition program - By Elizabeth Richards

The school year hasn’t yet begun, but RSU14 Chef and School Nutrition & Wellness Coordinator Samantha Cowens-Gasbarro, along with other members of the school nutrition team, are already hard at work preparing for a year of healthy lunches. 

As the district moves towards using local products, and cooking from scratch as much as possible, the work behind the scenes increases. On a recent summer morning, Gasbarro-Cowens was busy roasting, pureeing and freezing 500 pounds of tomatoes from Hancock Family Farm, an organic produce farm in Casco.

Cowens-Gasbarro said they are trying to bring more local produce into the schools. Not only does this mean better flavor and higher nutrition, but forming relationships with local farmers can also help the bottom line.
The produce available from local distributors is higher quality as well – in the 500 pounds of tomatoes received from Hancock Family Farms, only around eight of those tomatoes were unusable said Cowens-Gasbarro.

“Eating local and in season is so important because when you freeze these vegetables at the peak of their ripeness all the nutrients are there,” she said. “Often in the winter it’s better to eat a frozen vegetable than to eat one that came from Guatemala.” 

It’s not just the tomatoes that are sourced locally. The district is committed to getting a lot of their food from local sources, including meat from Maine Family Farms and Maine-ly Chicken. They have also purchased produce from Chipman Farms as well as Hancock Family Farm.

The school gardens are also being used to supplement meals. At Jordan-Small Middle School, for instance, everything was planted late in the season so they could use the produce during the upcoming school year. Cowens-Gasbarro has already processed kale from its gardens, and will use the garden to bridge the gap with the students. “If they feel it, touch it, taste it and cook with it, they are way more likely to eat it on the flip side,” she said.

Cowens-Gasbarro exposes kids to new foods through cooking club and taste testing, and can teach them the value of local ingredients when she visits their classrooms. A great way to illustrate the difference between local and food from far away is apples, Cowens-Gasbarro said. Children have gone to an orchard and picked an apple fresh from the tree. “They all know how great that tastes, and they all know how unsatisfactory an apple in June tastes – They get that,” she said.

Another major consideration in preparing healthier meals is paying attention to sodium. Canned foods – especially tomatoes, chicken broth, and beans, add high amounts of sodium to the meal. “If at the same cost we could get canned tomatoes we can buy these local, fresh delicious tomatoes and freeze them ourselves – economically it works out and makes sense for us,” said Cowens-Gasbarro. 

“This year I’m on a mission to make life a little easier for everyone in the district. When they go to season food or a recipe doesn’t taste as great, salt is a little frowned upon but it’s only because of the processed foods.” Taking out the “sodium heavy hitters,” she said, allows for the use of the right kind of salt to get the desired flavor. 

In addition to the tomatoes, Cowens-Gasbarro will be making and freezing chicken broth from scratch, shredding and freezing the chicken meat. Dried beans will be cooked and frozen to reduce the use of canned beans throughout the year.

 “What we’re trying to do is just give the kids better nutritional value in their food, make our bottom line better, lower the sodium . Our mission here is real whole foods, and that’s a transition for everyone,” said Cowens-Gasbarro. 

Education for both children and families is essential, Cowens-Gasbarro said. “If we’re going to make a dent in the food culture of our country and really change the way our children eat and what they prioritize buying as they grow up, school lunch is the place to do it,” she added. 

There are many false impressions as well, perpetuated by videos on social media that suggest that other countries are doing school lunch better. This simply isn’t true, she said. “Just like here in North America, some schools are hitting home runs and some schools are struggling to figure out how to do that. Instead of bashing those schools, ask how you can help.”

In RSU14, it’s all about finding ways to continue improving the quality of food.  Recently, a homemade herb roasted potato recipe won a contest, bringing in $2,000 which will be used to help buy equipment for the kitchens to further that goal.

Windham Raymond Adult Ed launches fall season - By Lorraine Glowczak
As fall makes its fast approach, it brings with it thoughts of apple picking, football, and the anticipation that comes with the beginning of another school year. For the Windham Raymond Adult Education, 406 Gray Road in Windham, things are no different as they plan a new and exciting school year of educational opportunities and fascinating enrichment courses.

For those who may be thinking about changing careers, wishing to complete their high school diploma or want to learn a new skill, Windham Raymond Adult Ed will be hosting an Open House on Wednesday, August 31st from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Stacia Dugas, secretary, invites the public, “Come by and check out all our offerings and learn about all the courses and services that we provide, plus it will be a great time to meet some of our instructors and staff.” and instructors include Tom Nash, director as well as Tina Christophersen, Career Pathways Coordinator, Shelli Pride, College Transitions Coordinator and Cathy Giuffre-Renaud, Adult Basic Education Coordinator.  Besides Dugas, other office staff who offer assistance and act as the first point of contact include the evening secretaries, Donna Dunham and Kelly Bragdon. 

Windham Raymond Adult Ed is dedicated to student success and community enrichment for adult learners in the great lakes region and beyond. They provide quality and diverse educational opportunities for those in pursuit of career advancement, a new career path, specialized training, or an alternative to high school graduation with preparation for college or full-time employment.

There are many courses and pathways that can meet the need of almost every resident in the Windham and Raymond communities. The multiple options include but are not limited to welding, school bus driver training, automotive technology, corporate training and conversational English. For those seeking a fun enrichment opportunity, courses such as vintage holiday signage, a hunter safety course and cooking classes are also available. As for the most popular classes, Dugas stated there were many favorites, but watercolor and yoga seem to be among the most popular selections.“Windham Raymond Adult Education also offers High School Diploma credential opportunities. An individual can take classes and earn credits toward completing their high school diploma. We have traditional classroom or small group instruction, self-study and even on-site computer-based learning opportunities or take the HiSET®, which is the High School Equivalency Test, formerly the GED®,” Dugas said.

For those seeking post-secondary education or dream of obtaining a college degree, Windham Raymond Adult Ed offers many services including advising, Accuplacer testing, developmental courses, financial aid workshops, campus tours and application assistance.

If an individual is seeking to share their knowledge and experiences and wishes to teach a specific skill, enrichment opportunity, or specialized course, contact the office. Windham Raymond Adult Ed is always striving to provide new learning and enrichment opportunities.

Fall classes begin on Monday, September 12th. For those who are interested in registering, Dugas said, “Contact our office and we will connect the prospective student with one of our coordinators.” General enrichment students can register with anyone in the office. To reach one of the coordinators or secretarial staff, call Windham/Raymond Adult Ed at 207-892-1819.

To all individuals wishing to reach set goals, the office staff and instructors have a motto they share and express, “Branch out and explore your world at Windham Raymond Adult Education and make that dream come true!” 

For a full list of classes offered, check out the website at

Friday, August 19, 2016

Flip to a Different Eagle Section

Honor Flight makes veterans feel like stars - By Michelle Libby

Jerry Black served in the Navy at the end of World War II and in Korea. Although it was close to 60 years ago, he remembers details like they happened yesterday. “I was a teenager at the end of World War II. In the Navy, I coasted the Mediterranean because communists were trying to take over those countries,” Black said. Travel has always been a part of his life and that of his wife, Mildred. In July he traveled to Washington, D.C. on an Honor Flight Maine trip to see the World War II monument, the Korean Monument and many other sights in the capital city. As an Honor Flight guest of honor, Black and 27 other veterans were given the royal treatment from the sendoff party to the return celebration at the Portland Jetport.

“It was awesome, as the young people would say,” Black said. 

According to the website, “Honor Flight Maine is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s Veterans for all their service and sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to tour, experience and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to our most frail veterans – terminally ill veterans of all conflicts and World War II survivors. Korean and Vietnam Veterans are also transported on a first-come, first-served, space-available basis.”
The Honor Flights are supported by donations from organizations and individuals, except World War II veterans who have not attended an Honor Flight trip. 

Black, a member of the local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations, applied last fall for the Honor Flight. He will be 88 years old in October and he wanted to go to Washington, D.C. some place he had never been. While in the Navy, Black held two ranks, one for engineering as a machinist working on the diesel engines on boats and then as a barber on board ship.

“It was like I was just there when I get to talking about it,” he said.

He told a story about an inspection where he cut most of the men’s hair and the officer inspecting the troops commented on it and said what a good job he was doing. During his four years of service, he traveled extensively and made a good name for himself. When he left the Navy, he attended Gorham Teacher’s College. He became an industrial arts teacher. 

Honor Flight Maine gave Black two weeks to get ready, to find an escort and get excited. “They told me to bring my wheelchair…don’t need one. They told me to bring my cane…don’t need one. At 88, I was younger than all of them on the trip,” he said. found the perfect escort in Benjamin Emmons, who was a paratrooper in Afghanistan and a neighbor. Black has known the Emmons family since 1955, when the neighbor boy was Ben’s father. Having Emmons with him was the right choice, he said. “We were the odd couple and had a good time,” Black added. Emmons was one of the last ones on and one of the first ones off to help with wheelchairs and other things for the veterans. 

They were given a motorcycle escort from the airport in Baltimore to Washington, D.C. The procession drove by statues honoring nurses and Seabees. Two of the veterans on the trip were nurses and served for 28 years. They stopped at most of the monuments devoted to soldiers and wars.
When the veterans reached the World War II Memorial, they were lined up in the wheelchairs for a photograph. One of the men counted 228 people taking pictures of the 27 veterans. Black was impressed that they drew such a crowd.
Meals were provided and everything else was supplied. “Everything was on time. We always had ice water in our hands,” Black recounted. “If it was half full, they would get another cold one for us.”
Black made sure Emmons got an up close view of the Lincoln Memorial, something he had never seen. “It’s made out of three pieces. I went to the workshop of the man who carved this,” Black said.
Black especially wanted to see the Korean Memorial. In high school he had four friends who did everything together, hunting, fishing and camping. One friend joined the Air Force, and the other two were drafted and sent to Korea. One friend was wounded, came home and then went back to Korea again. He was captured, and as a POW died of malnutrition. 

Jerry and Ben at the Korean Monument

“This has bothered me the rest of my life,” Black said. Going to the memorial meant a lot to Black. He spoke of the memorial and how it had movement unlike some of the other monuments.
However, the most exciting and poignant part of the trip for him was helping to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “They selected me to be leader for the wreath laying. It was fresh from the company that sends wreaths to Washington from Maine. To be honored to do that, if front of everybody and service members. I was really moved,” Black said. The sergeant in charge at the tomb gave commands and Black repeated them to the four men with Black, including Emmons.

“I got weak on my feet. I was really emotional,” he described as he was walking back to the group. “My eyes welled up. You just don’t step up and do those things.” At that moment, he flashed back to all of his friends in high school and college who had been killed. He was doing it for them. 

When Black’s group returned to Maine he was shocked at the number of people who came to the airport to support them. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Masons, family members, ROTC people and more, all appeared to cheer for the returning veterans. “It makes the tears run. I took my hat off to show my appreciation. This was different, moving,” he said. 

He was also given a packet of letters from family and friends thanking him for his service. “It’s really emotional,” he said. 

The trip only lasted three days, but the memories will last the rest of his life.“It had a connection to me. It was just more than a trip for me. That’s why I want to volunteer for Honor Flight Maine. I’d like to see others go.” 

Another Honor Flight trip is scheduled for September with 48 veterans and their guardians. 
For more information about Honor Flight Maine, visit

Windham's Tony Plante honored with manager of the year award - By Michelle Libby

After traveling out of the country for a month, Windham Town Manager Tony Plante returned to Maine in time to be recognized as the Linc Stackpole Manager of the Year by Maine Town, City and Country Management Association last Thursday at a special dinner in Newry. Many of the town officials were in attendance at the event. Including, Phyllis Moss, the assistant town manager, who filled in for Plante while he was on vacation with his family.  

“Tony does amazing work not only for the town, but for the greater Portland and lakes region communities. He is passionate about public service and it’s inspiring,” she said, she told the audience on Thursday night. “He goes from early morning to late at night. It’s amazing,” she added. 

Monday afternoon, town employees surprised Plante with a reception celebrating his award. He was humbled and grateful for the recognition. 

“It’s an unexpected honor and something I hope to live up to,” Plante said. The award has a history behind it, as it is named for a city manager from the early 1970s. “He was the consummate professional and dedicated to the community,” Plante said. He hopes he can live up to that standard.
“Being a town manager is not an easy job, and if anyone switched jobs with him they would find that out in a hurry.  A manager needs to be on top of everything, 24/7.  You need to be dedicated, and Tony is,” said town clerk Linda Morrell. 

“He’s a very easy boss to work for. He gives us a lot of autonomy. He’s very analytical, thoughtful and well spoken,” said Police Chief Kevin Schofield. “He promotes a family atmosphere with in all the departments and employees. 

Plante has worked for the Town of Windham for 20 years as the town manager. 

“For those who put in the nomination packet, I really do appreciate that, and I appreciate all you do every day. I am overwhelmed,” Plante told the employees on Monday. “It’s an unexpected honor and something I hope to live up to. A manager is only as good as the people he has around him.”