Friday, January 20, 2017

Windham Police Department pursues organizational restructuring By Stephen Signor

On April 20th, 2015, Kevin Schofield became chief of the Windham Police Department. Since then it has been established that there is a more effective way to run his department. Last Tuesday, at the town council meeting, Schofield and Lieutenant James Boudreau presented a proposal for departmental restructuring that would potentially eliminate the need for overtime, increase efficiency and provide an improved, safer environment for patrol officers; all with little or no cost to the town.

To accomplish this, a Strengths, Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis of the department was developed. “Shortly after becoming chief, I began assessing the police department from several different aspects, to include the organizational rank structure. During my first couple of months, I met with people meeting one-on-one with many of the staff to go over what areas they can improve, what new projects/functions they should do, what are their strengths and what current functions can they do away with,” Schofield explained.

The current administrative structure of the chief and the lieutenant was developed in 1982. “I’m not saying it’s not valid but the world has changed in 35 years; and most certainly the Windham Police Department,” acknowledged Schofield.

So what does it take to run a police department?  “In my ten years of managerial experience in three different communities, it changes significantly. Those changes revolve around updating mandated policy, mandated training, mandated regulatory issues and grant preparation for acquiring the tools necessary to perform their duties. These take a lot of man hours,” Schofield said.

To this end, an internal methodology committee was born, to get more detailed feedback. “The committee I formed consist of Lieutenant Boudreau, Sergeant David Bonneau, Detective Paul Cox and Officer Jason Burke and charged to render feedback through the use of a survey so that we all have a buy-in to put input into the department,” said Schofield. facets of the organization were represented. “We had a good cross section of the department which then developed a survey to distribute to the rest of the staff,” continued Schofield. This committee was then charged with reviewing, making recommendations, and then generating a report.
The end result was the recommendation to create a two-assistant-to-deputy chief structure, where one person would be in charge of patrol operations and the other would support investigations and support services. “With this recommendation is the elimination of our currently hourly administrative sergeant position,” said Schofield.

The span of control and areas of responsibility of the administrative sergeant position is deemed as far too broad. “Currently the administrative sergeant supervises six various positions and also performs several administrative functions including but not limited to scheduling, vehicle inventory and maintenance as well as property procurement,” explained Schofield.

The second facet of the proposal was to create a detective sergeant position that would maintain a level of investigative responsibilities. This position would also perform first line supervision such as case management review and also functioning as department court liaison officer.

“The advantages of doing this (is) that it would clearly define administrative roles as they pertain to each division of the department, creates a defined chain of command, helps alleviate (the) amount of current paperwork, creates more managerial capacity within the department and opens opportunities for nationally recognized opportunities like the FBI and NA (National Academy),” said Schofield.

“What’s real important to me, and a goal I hope to achieve is create more managerial opportunities in the department. Someday when I decide to hang it up for good, nothing would satisfy me more than to have one of the officers in this room to be able to sit at my desk,” concluded Schofield.

Little time was wasted in digesting this proposal. Without hesitation, council chair Donna Chapman said, “I think it looks like we should be putting this into the upcoming budget. I support this because we’ve grown as a community and the police department hasn’t grown to keep up with that.”

Like any restructuring, it is difficult to forecast what the budgetary implications would be. To this end, councilman Tim Nangle raised the question of the potential financial obligation to the town.“Based on prior experience and the fact this change does not add a sergeant position, I would anticipate the impact on the budget to be negligible in either direction,” responded Schofield.  To further reiterate, “My intent is to utilize internal personnel. As far as an added cost, my proposal would eliminate the sergeant position. Somebody would be promoted which would require an increase in base salary, but with the potential loss of need for overtime, that amount would be decreased or eliminated altogether,” continued Schofield.

It was agreed by all council members, that Chief Schofield put together a worst case scenario of potential financial obligations that the town may need to absorb. A February 7th meeting was tentatively scheduled for further discussion and to review information requested by the council that could be presented to the finance committee.
“Our goal tonight was simply to share these ideas with you to give you the opportunity to ask questions, not to look for any conclusions or consensus. It may take more time for people to process this. The plan at this point would be to do what we did with the budget for last year (which) is to use the strategic plan as a starting point,” concluded town manager Tony Plante.

Lion King Jr. roars with talent By Stephen Signor

Emma Bennet (sitting) plays the role of Nala
On an afternoon following a successful opening night, director Mary Wassick stood center stage at the Windham Performing Arts Center. She was to greet yet another impressive turnout for this lively stage adaptation of the Academy Award-winning, 1994 Disney film Lion King, Jr., presented by the Windham Middle School. Made possible by the cast, staff and the community, there was good reason to pre-empt the show with many words of thanks. With 160 rehearsal hours and 58 plus volunteers, there was much praise to give.

“The cast has worked very hard, having begun preparing for this show back in October, and I’m so happy to see the continued support from our community,” said Wassick. With nearly 80 overall volunteers, many of them without children in the middle school, contributing to productions like this one, there was plenty of thanks to go around. those numerous volunteers, were four Windham High School students who were part of an all important crew. One of them was assistant director Libby McBride, a junior who had been asked by Wassick if she would like to help with the show.

“I grew up doing plays with Mary at WCST (Windham Community Stage Theater) in middle school,” shared McBride. “I’ve never been a director or anything like that, so when asked, I was beyond excited! I have always been an actor, singer; always on the stage. To be behind the scenes was great! It’s been really fun. I’ve really enjoyed it,” she continued.

When the curtain rose it was immediately obvious that the cast of characters were enjoying

themselves and feeling quite comfortable in costumes made possible by volunteer Becky Merriman. Her 300 to 400 hours of time investment was obvious. “I started collecting materials for the costumes in June of last year immediately after the conclusion of the Shrek show,” shared Merriman.“This production was probably the most complicated with a cast of 40, that task was obviously daunting,” she said. There are 170 costumes and that doesn’t count how many pieces are involved in each one. There are a lot of moving parts,” confirmed Merriman. Has it been worth it? “It’s been a great time! I love working with Mary and Angela.” the first act it was evident the players were in their comfort zone, feeding off the numerous responses of laughter and applause after each and every exit for quick set changes. The set was built by middle school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teacher Jason Lanoie; another dedicated volunteer who spent his time off from teaching during school vacations to work on the set. 

“It was the only time available to do this, but I enjoyed being part of the show,” said Lanoie.
In the audience was Nicky Calden, mother of Molly who played Timon. Now 13, “Molly has been doing this at multiple theaters since the age of eight, most recently as the donkey in Shrek,” said Calden. The character of Timon requires a comedic demeanor and according to crowd response, Molly’s previous role as Donkey paid off.

With intermission came time for a look behind the scenes. Back stage cast and crew were preparing for costume changes that involved face painting as well as garments. The transformation was seamless and not without a little age-typical banter and a willingness to share their thoughts.

In particular, were 11-year-old Morgan Wing (young Simba), Chloe Allen (one of the hyenas) and Daphne Cyr (Zazu) who shared their young passion for the theater and the fun they have working together.

“This is a lot of fun. I enjoy doing this and performing with the other kids,” said Wing. They all agreed, as they will be performing together again in the upcoming junior version of The Wizard of Oz.

After the show and a well deserved standing ovation, Wassick would reveal the nature of a successful weekend. “As for opening night, it was fabulous! Probably one of the best I’ve seen.” And she should know, having been involved in theater for 19 years; nine of those with Windham Middle School. The total count for the first two days hovered around 700.

“I just want to thank Windham Middle School for keeping the drama program alive and giving all of these great kids an outlet to express themselves and have fun. I have a tremendous amount of support. It makes me thankful everyday that Windham has such a strong regard for the arts,” said Wassick.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Sawyer’s Variety Store closes By Walter Lunt

From trolley stop to the 21st century, the “South Windham Landmark” concludes 107 years and four generations of the Sawyer family.
Sawyer's Variety was a primary trolley stop when it opened in 1910.

A handwritten sign on the storefront window of Sawyer’s Variety in the Little Falls neighborhood of Gorham/South Windham announceed, simply and sadly, the end of a familiar and beloved institution; patronized by generations of residents who needed a few groceries, a cup of coffee or conversation. 

“If there’s anything you wanted, they had it,” said long-time South Windham resident Dave Tobin.
The aging wood frame building “on the Gorham side of the bridge in South Windham,” as many residents referred to the location, has a long and storied history. Founded by Cora Sawyer in 1910, it was known as much for being the neighborhood gathering spot for local news, gossip and storytelling, as it was for the general merchandise sold there.

Tobin said the original building may have been moved there, possibly from Windham. It served as the “waiting room” for travelers using the Portland-Westbrook-Windham trolley before the age of buses. “Originally it was supposed to go into South Windham, but it never got all the way there,” according to Tobin.

Co-owners Kelly Finocchietti and her brother Craig Sawyer said the times are changing and the business was getting to be “a little too much.”

“It feels like the local ma and pa stores are dying,” said Kelly, who has worked at the store for over 20 years. She cited difficulties with vendors who now require minimum merchandise orders far above what small variety stores can handle. And, she added that some have stopped deliveries outside their normal route. She said a major construction project on Main Street/Gray Road in front of the store several years ago caused a precipitous drop in customers, “And we never really got that business back. Closing is bitter sweet. We’ve had a hard time letting go,” said Kelly, referring to the closing. “I get kind of emotional (thinking about it). I locked the door for the last time on January 3. Then I (hid) behind the counter for a while just to recover.”

Tears emerged again as she reminisced about earlier times and the subsequent closure. What’s next? Kelly said she hopes to find something where she won’t have to work weekends. Craig has found work in Windham.

Tobin said he remembers Cora Sawyer, who opened the store almost 107 years ago, still running the store in the 1930s. “Cora, like everyone else back then, was frugal. She sold peanuts by the pound. When she’d weighed them out, if it was just a little bit over (the requested weight) she’d snap a peanut in half and eat it.” Eventually, her son, Hall Sawyer, Sr. ran the business until the 1950s. By 1956, Hall Jr. had taken over and hired John Mayberry and Harry Ingells to build an addition, nearly doubling the store space, and seemingly tripling the amount of merchandise. A sign on the store front advertised: Pipes, Ammunition, Clocks & Watches, Popcorn and Tintex; the latter item being a brand name for a fabric dye used heavily during World War II. Tobin remembers mothers coloring non-burlap grain bags and converting them into clothing.

Arlo Guthrie’s lyric, “You can get anything you want…” would indeed have been a fit description for the goods and wares at Sawyer’s Variety in the mid-20th century. Family members recall everything from fresh garden vegetables and homemade jams to clothing, penny candy, popcorn and ice cream.

Richard Nickerson Scholarship Concert showcases alumni talent By Elizabeth Richards

Despite snowy weather, the 20th annual Richard Nickerson Scholarship Concert on Saturday, January 7 was a rousing success, with 13 acts featuring solos, duets or trios, and three numbers by the largest alumni chorus to date.

Not only was this the 20th anniversary, but the excitement of Dr. Nickerson being recognized as one of 10 national finalists for the Music Educator Award made it a truly special evening.
Energy was high onstage, and the enthusiasm of the audience was apparent throughout the concert, with frequent comments on the talent of the performers overheard.

This anniversary concert drew one third of prior scholarship recipients to the stage, including the very first recipient, Dr. Elisabeth Marshall, who performed the solo in Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum” with the alumni chorus.

Master of ceremonies Kim McBride kept the concert flowing smoothly with witty commentary as she introduced each performer. The acts were well balanced between upbeat and ballads, serious and silly themes. Although performers select their own material the goal each year is to offer a variety of styles, according to producer Janelle LoSciuto. “We do try to balance it out so that there’s a little bit of something for everyone,” she said.

This year’s concert did just that. All of the performances were well done, particularly since some of the alumni no longer perform on a regular basis. Celli Spaulding showed off her considerable talents, which include songwriting, guitar and vocal performance, with a sorrowful original song titled “Hollow Love.” Two songs from the immensely popular “Hamilton” stood out, including a touching rendition of “Dear Theodosia” performed by Jameson McBride and Avery Topel, and a lively rap “My Shot” performed by Kevin MacKaye. Matthew Scala’s animated performance of Andrew Byrne’s “A Contemporary Musical Theater Song” accentuated the silly nature of the song and prompted laughter in the audience at the start of the show.

The alumni chorus had over two dozen participants this year. Listening to their performance, it was hard to believe that they came together for just one rehearsal prior to the day of the concert.
The sound they produced spoke to the talent of Windham High School music alumni and to Dr. Nickerson’s ability to bring a group together through his enthusiastic conducting. The group performed not only the Mozart piece, but a beautiful rendition of “Voyager’s Promise” and an upbeat, toe-tapping, hand-clapping version of “Aquarius (Let the Sunshine In).”

The Richard Nickerson Scholarship fund was started by parents of the Windham Chamber Singers in 1997 in appreciation of Dr. Richard Nickerson, director of choral activities at Windham High School. Each year, a $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a graduating senior who plans to pursue music in some way during his or her college experience. The Richard Nickerson Scholarship Committee has awarded nearly $20,000 in scholarships to 26 graduates, who all continue to be involved with music in their lives.

Putting together the concert was a task that started early this year. “I started in February, knowing it would be the 20th anniversary, which we wanted to be really special,” LoSciuto said.
She began with an email to all alumni who had received the scholarship, which resulted in a great turnout of recipients. In September, she emailed other alumni to fill out the show, which she said ideally includes about 16 solos, duets or ensembles in addition to the alumni chorus.

Because it was a special year, the choral pieces were selected by Dr. Nickerson this time around.
“Everyone who came, and everyone who is not here, is pulling for him. They all know what an honor it is, and they understand 100 percent why he was selected,” LoSciuto said. The winner of the award will be announced in February.

LoSciuto would like to invite other members of the community to get involved in next year’s show by joining the scholarship committee. In addition, she said, “I want people to mark their calendar for next year. We are always the first Saturday in January. I want that place packed!”

Friday, January 6, 2017

A new way to look at resolutions By Elizabeth Richards

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. There was a time, long ago, when I jumped on the bandwagon along with everyone else every New Year’s Eve, promising to lose a certain amount of weight, complete a big project I’d been putting off, or exercise every day. Inevitably, along with most other Americans who make resolutions, these lofty goals would fail. A recent article in Forbes Magazine said that only 8 percent of Americans who make New Year’s Resolutions achieve the intended results. 

But feelings of frustration about failed resolutions aren’t the reason I don’t make them anymore. Failure is one of the best ways to learn. And one thing I learned from the failure of New Year’s resolutions is that there’s a better way to set goals. Instead of waiting for one specific night each year, why not set goals all year long?

The beginning of a new year can seem like the perfect time to start something new – and it can be, but so can any other day of the year. Timing is far less important than methods, and the most important thing is to have a plan. Resolutions, after all, are simply words. But a plan is more concrete. A plan has words and actions. And when you lay out a plan with specific steps, you aren’t frustrated when you don’t reach the end goal quickly.

Which brings me to another issue I have with resolutions, they often focus on the end results rather than the journey. But the steps along the way are so much more important than the overall outcome. If I am only focused on losing ten pounds, I might not be able to celebrate the fact that I’m choosing fruit over cookies, my energy levels are much higher, and my jeans are fitting better.
Finally, while resolutions are typically an individual thing, goals can be shared with a group of like-minded people all setting the same intention for their lives. I am incredibly fortunate to have an amazing group of people who help keep me motivated, push me when I need it, hold me up when I need support, and never let me give up. 

It’s a group I found accidentally, when I set the solitary goal of taking up jogging. A friend got wind of my plan, and told me to join a group at the track. “It will be fun,” she said. That first day, it was anything but fun. I arrived and they were doing sprints. Trying to do sprints on the first day of running is like trying to finish writing a novel in a day – totally unrealistic and somewhat crazy to attempt. If I had been on my own out there, I likely would have walked away, telling myself once again that running is just something I can’t do. 

Instead, I found encouragement. I ran a quarter of the way around the track, and was celebrated. I heard people calling my name, and had a coach there telling me I could, indeed, do it. Support makes all the difference. Three and a half years later, I regularly run in 5K races. Running races was never part of my original goal, but it has been an amazing part of the journey.
It really all comes down to commitment. A resolution is easy to say – following through on a goal is hard to do. And when you choose when to begin, you can be sure you are truly ready, instead of trying to force it because it happens to be January first.

None of the goals I’ve set for myself in recent years have been too ambitious, requiring huge amounts of time, special equipment, memberships or money. Instead of pressure to follow through (and guilt if I don’t) I give myself the gift of patience, of persistence and commitment. I know that if I take a step backwards, all is not lost. I can begin moving forward again the next day. And that’s better than empty words any day.

Glowczak takes the helm by Michelle Libby

Glowczak takes the helm at The Windham Eagle
By Michelle Libby

On January first, Lorraine Glowczak became the managing editor of The Windham Eagle, replacing editor-in-chief Michelle Libby, who left to pursue other opportunities. Glowczak who is originally from Kansas has lived in Maine for 19 years and in Windham for two years. She became a staff writer for The Windham Eagle last year. 

“Lorraine is very thoughtful and energetic,” said publisher Kelly Mank. “She is a great addition to our team.” 

“The more I’m exposed to the Windham and Raymond community, the more I see the people here are really amazing. I really enjoy the people I’ve met,” Glowczak said. Her goal in taking on this new role was the opportunity to become a part of the community and to expand her writing opportunities. 

Glowczak prepares for her first Windham Eagle publication.
She has no immediate plans to make big changes to the newspaper. “As I become more acclimated to the paper, I might see things that need a small change or tweaking,” she said. She is willing to listen to the community and what they, and The Windham Eagle team, agree is a positive direction for the paper. 

Glowczak has a degree in leadership and organizational studies, but has wanted to publish her stories for a while. Last year she wrote a beekeeping series for The Windham Eagle depicting the challenges she faced as a beekeeper. “I liked going to Italy, but I did not like being an Italian beekeeper,” she said with a laugh. 

When asked what she’d bring to the position, she answered, “My enthusiasm about getting to know the community as well as my love of the written word and keeping it positive.”

The Windham Eagle is looking for columnists and writers who have a passion to report on what is happening in the community. To be a staff writer, send a resume and clips to Glowczak.

“As a managing editor, my approach is supporting, motivating and encouraging reporters to write what they are passionate about."

When Glowczak is not at The Windham Eagle, she enjoys reading, walking and anything in nature. She loves to explore not only Maine, but all of New England.

“I enjoy being with friends and family and spending quality time with the people I love.” Glowczak has been married for 15 years and just adopted a beagle mix from Maine Lab Rescue.

“The small cottage on the lake where we live feels like home. I feel like I’m finally home in Windham.”

To send a letter to the editor, offer story suggestions or any other business, email Glowczak at