Friday, June 30, 2017

Community mourns the passing of a “Windham Institution” – Kay Soldier dies at 79 by Walter Lunt

Kathleen Evelyn Kelley Whirlwind-Soldier, a prominent and highly-respected resident of Windham, passed away peacefully Monday, June 26, following a brief illness. She was 79.

Soldier was widely known as a local historian and a news reporter, editor and columnist for several weekly newspapers; including the Courier Free Press and the Suburban and Lakes Region newspapers.

Born in Windham, Kay was the oldest of six children and grew up on Webb Road and Chute Road during the unique period between the greatest generation and the baby boomers. Through her weekly columns, she shared with faithful readers, the many childhood experiences of the days before television/technology. Kay often reflected on the neighborhood and family life in a time of gravel roads, child-oriented play, frugality, limited transportation and the growing pains of the town she loved. 

Of the early times, Kay’s sister Ellen Kelley remembers how Kathleen always wanted to be the boss.
“When my mother would let her, she would arrange the living room into a one-room schoolhouse. We (the brothers and sisters) were the students. Kathleen would always be the teacher.” highly skilled researcher and board member of the Windham Historical Society, Kay was for decades, the town historian. Former society President Linda Griffin said Kay would personally answer the many queries presented to the society. Some she could answer from personal knowledge, others might require days of tenacious research and telephone calls.

“Kay would run our office, curate and file the artifacts, put out our newsletter, handle all the publicity and create WHS fliers. It now takes three of us to do what she did.”

One personal quality mentioned by many who knew her, was her unusual sense of humor. She was known for the quick and thoughtful comeback, usually tinged with sarcasm. If, for example, a conversation turned silly, or the questions too philosophically “far out,” she would listen, pause and say, “The more we talk about that, the less interested I get.”
Kay graduated valedictorian of the Windham High School class of 1955. The “Windonian” Yearbook, of which she was editor, published a senior class poll. Kay was voted most conspicuous girl, most witty and humorous, most intelligent and most talkative. Apparently because no one could imagine such an occurrence, one classmate mused, “What if Kathleen Kelley was at a loss for words?” As her foremost ambition, Kay wrote, “To meet (movie star) Tony Curtis.”

Kay left Windham soon after high school. “Unless you get married or go into nursing or teaching, what else was there to do?” she once said. She performed secretarial work at Canal Bank in Portland and later for a law firm in New York. The big cities afforded Kay opportunities to visit science and fine arts museums and to pursue courses in her many and varied interests: anthropology, archaeology, literature, poetry and painting. Although she avoided prominent displays of her work, family members said Kay was accomplished in sketch artistry. Several examples of her early work can be seen in the 1955 high school yearbook.

“I loved New York. Especially Greenwich Village and the jazz music,” she once said. She loved it so much that, in addition to her full-time day job, she accepted a $1.25 per hour, evening job as a hostess at The Jazz Workshop.

It was during her time in New York that she met and married George Whirlwind-Soldier. The two moved to Rosebud (Sioux) Reservation in South Dakota where they lived with George’s extended family. “I thought Maine winters were cold,” Kay would later observe, “but they’re nothing like the winter’s out there.”

Following a divorce in the late 1960s, Kay moved, with her adopted son David, back to Windham, where she found employment at the L.C. Andrew lumber yard in South Windham. She was also hired by the town to transcribe the minutes of the town council and planning board meetings, a position she called “the official town scribe.”

By the 1980s, Kay’s writing and office talents had attracted the attention of publishers. Windham had grown to a point where it could support local weekly newspapers. She became the chief reporter and editor of the Courier Free Press and later The Suburban News. Publisher Bill Diamond remembers Kay as the creator of the local paper that was “. . . totally devoted to Windham and all of its past and current treasures. It can be said that Kay Soldier was the true core of our town, someone who loved Windham more than her own self.”

One of Kay’s early hires was Michelle Libby, later the editor of The Windham Eagle. “I learned some wonderful lessons from Kay that have stuck by me to this day,” says Libby, “this is where my philosophy of positive news comes from. Write positive stories so when something bad happens the people already trust you and are more willing to help with the bad news coverage.”

Longtime Windham resident Jerry Black said the town has lost a great resource and historian. “She was always there to help the veteran’s center.”

Echoing the sentiment, resident and historical society member Bruce Elder commented, “She was our treasure – the town was so lucky to have her. Irreplaceable!”

She would often include her email address and phone number in the newspaper columns she wrote. And that kept her busy. Callers, particularly seniors, would ask for help wading through the red tape associated with Medicare or want to know where to get assistance with tax issues. No call for help went unanswered, even it meant hours of research. great interest and concern to Kay were the twin issues of prejudice and the underprivileged. On the topic of Windham’s aborigine population and the subsequent intrusion by white settlers, Kay would ask, “So, in this case, who do you think were the savages?”- referring to the term used by early Windham historians to describe the native tribes. When discussion arose regarding support for the poor, Kay would recount the story of the widow Hannah Starbird who, in the 1790s, appeared in Windham with no means of support. Ultimately, Starbird was “struck off” to the lowest bidder who would agree to keep her in “victuals and clothes” until her place of origin could be determined. Kay wanted to know, “Was this the proper care for Starbird? How should we treat the downtrodden?”
Soldier would rarely follow her questions with a debate. She would change the subject or walk away, preferring folks just think about her questions.

Reaction to Kay Soldier’s death is universal sadness. Words of description, used to reference her included: dynamic, treasured, irreplaceable, gifted, revered and an institution.

But perhaps Diamond summed it up best, “Kay Soldier was a special gift to Windham. She can never be replaced – only remembered and praised as we send her our most sincere “thank you.”  

However, regarding the comments about her, Soldier, who was not one to appreciate compliments or praise, would probably say something like, “The more you talk, the less interested I get.” 

Supporting America’s military caregivers by Sen. Susan Collins

The effects of military service often do not end with a tour of duty. For some veterans and their families, the journey may extend for a lifetime. For those veterans bearing both the visible and invisible scars of conflict, the transition home is often not easy. Recovery, too, can take decades. Along the way, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, and other family members and friends step in to serve.

Military caregivers, heroes in plain clothes, are serving in American cities and towns every single day. In
the United States, there are 5.5 million military caregivers. These family members and loved ones provide care on a constant and routine basis to veterans. They are often vital in assisting veterans to make the transition all the way home. Military caregivers improve recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration of wounded, injured, and disabled veterans.

The number of military caregivers has been on the rise as veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan return home. Approximately 20 percent of military caregivers today are caring for a post-9/11 veteran. The needs and experiences of post-9/11 veterans differ from those of pre-9/11 veterans. While veterans from past conflicts and wars are aging and facing age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular diseases, post-9/11 veterans tend to be younger and face higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance abuse, and traumatic brain injury.

As chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, I recently held a hearing to examine the unique needs of military caregivers and how to better support them. needs were powerfully described by one of our witnesses from Maine, Melanie Swoboda. Melanie and her husband retired Army Sergeant First Class Joe Swoboda, live in Levant, near Bangor. Joe is a three-time combat veteran of Iraq who twice sustained severe injuries in explosions, in 2003 and 2005, but who continued to serve. It was not until years later that the extent of his traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder were recognized.

Melanie lovingly took on the role as one of America’s hidden heroes, providing her husband’s care, raising their children, and managing the family’s finances. As she put it, “All of the tasks I was doing were the ones you’ll hear any caregiver talking about.” In fact, like so many caregivers, Melanie never thought of herself as one. To her, that’s just what a wife and mother does.

She enrolled in the VA Caregiver Program, which provides a stipend and respite support for post-9/11 veterans, which she said has been crucial for her family. She urged my Senate colleagues to support legislation I introduced with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act, which would extend this service to veterans and caregivers of all eras.

Melanie also praised the Dole Caregiver Fellowship, a network of knowledgeable caregivers who provide invaluable support. This outstanding initiative was launched by another witness, former Senator Elizabeth Dole, whose husband, former Senator Bob Dole, is a World War II veteran.

When her husband was hospitalized at Walter Reed in 2011, Senator Dole became friends with families caring for many wounded, ill, or injured veterans. Many of these young spouses were in their 20’s and early 30’s. Realizing they had a lifetime of caregiving in front of them, and understanding the critical role caregivers play in helping our wounded warriors recover, she established the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to raise awareness of the importance of supporting these selfless individuals. The Foundation’s “Hidden Heroes” campaign is leading the way in developing solutions to this major challenge.

Our military caregivers, like all caregivers, make many personal and financial sacrifices to ensure that their loved ones have the care they need. They may have to miss work, turn down promotions, or even leave the workforce, creating enormous financial strain for families. 

In addition to the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act, I have introduced bipartisan legislation that would better serve caregivers, including military caregivers. The RAISE Family Caregivers Act would require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a national strategy to recognize and support our more than 40 million family caregivers. And the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act would authorize $15 million per year over the next five years to allow full-time caregivers to take a temporary break from their responsibilities. This respite care is critical. It protects the health of caregivers, decreases the need for professional long-term care, and allows individuals who require care to remain at home.

America’s military caregivers enable veterans living with visible and invisible injuries to recover, remain involved with their communities, and enjoy fuller lives. Despite their sacrifice, military caregivers typically do not receive awards and other recognitions for the work that they do. They deserve our support and recognition. We must never forget our military caregivers, who are also true heroes.

Windham Summerfest 2017 enjoys another successful year by Stephen Signor

While no one really knows how long the Summerfest has been celebrated, there was one person on hand who did shed some light on its history. Tom Tyler, who was working/helping at the Windham Republicans’ booth selling hotdogs, and who was involved in the original festival shared, “All Home Days, as it was called back then was started by the North Windham Fire Company and was held at the old Manchester Camp Ground. It was moved down where the Manchester School is now and then eventually where Home Depot is currently situated.”
After a few years of successful growth, the Windham Jaycees got involved, and this resulted in a joint venture of running Home Days for the next twenty years. “Unlike the Summerfest as we know it today, it was a five day event, running from Wednesday to Sunday. From there the summer celebration became the Lakes Region Salmon Festival, for what would be the last couple of years. As it continued to keep growing and as the fire company became busier and busier with its main cause, interest and attendance began to decrease and eventually it would close down. It wasn’t too many years that a decision was made to bring it here to the high school,” continued Tyler.

That being said, nothing says summer like a myriad of outdoor activities that includes music, games and of course, the unmistakable fragrance coming from numerous food vendors. All of this and much more could be found at one location last Saturday when the Windham High School hosted yet another Summerfest. On a day that began with overcast skies and despite the unpredictability of Maine’s weather, Windhamites ventured the short distance from the preceding parade to take part in this summer tradition. 

With 2017’s version of this community and town sponsored event under way, people of all ages were moved or otherwise coaxed by the musical antics of Flamin Raymond & Sizzlin Susan to engage in a hoola-hoop contest. Giving testament was Jen from Windham, who was there with her two children Laura age 5 and Callan age 2, who showed no hesitance in participating. “I didn’t have a choice in being a participant, he (Flamin Raymond) approached me” she said laughingly. 
The fun lasted throughout the day, with events that included but were not limited to: a frog jumping contest, corn-hole toss and the ever popular sack race. For music lovers there was no shortage of tunes to be moved by. The State Street Traditional Jazz Band got things going, but not before the special presentation to Windham High alumni and this year’s Grand Marshall, Samantha Frank. 

Frank graduated in 2014 where she exhibited her prowess as a wrestler on the varsity level. Now a nursing student, she continues to wrestle at the University of Maine where she is also currently on the Dean’s List. 

A special presentation also went to the Primary School Music Director, Nancy Cash-Cobb for her contributions to the department as Educator of the Year. On hand to present these awards were Senator Bill Diamond and District Five, Representative Patrick Corey.
As always, the carnival midway lured those adventurous enough to test their luck as well as their skills; and for children of all sizes - the rides. The Windham Parks and Recreation sponsored a half-price ticket booklet to the first 100 people to purchase a ticket booklet between the hours of 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Congratulations go to Chrystal Biggs, who was the winner of a free booklet drawn from among those 100 who posted to Facebook. 

Not far away was the Duane Clark Memorial Car Show to benefit Duane Clark Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Windham Veterans Center. If looking at tricked out or classic vehicles was not of interest, there was also demonstrations occurring at the Windham Police Department K-9 Division and a martial arts demo by The Greater Portland School of Jakado.

Following no shortage of activities and an endless supply of refreshment provided by local business and charities, Summer Fest 2017 would culminate with the ever popular music of Motor Booty Affair, with an encore of the traditional epic fireworks display.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Graduates of the Windham/Raymond Adult Ed Program to “write their own story” by Lorraine Glowczak

The auditorium at Windham High School was the setting of another pomp and circumstance on Thursday evening, June 15. Slightly different than the more traditional graduation, eleven of the eighteen students who participated in the Windham/Raymond Adult Education Program marched across the stage to receive their diplomas and thus move on to new and hopeful beginnings.
Most of the graduates believed they would never see this day or participate in their graduation ceremony. Many had to overcome significant obstacles, reaching deep for courage to take this non-traditional route to attain their educational goals. 

Windham/Raymond Adult Education provides the opportunity for students whose lives, for whatever reasons and challenges, make the traditional path to graduation unattainable. Through the Adult Ed Program, students have an opportunity to earn their high school diploma or equivalence certificate (referred to as HiSET) through classes offered at various times including evening courses.

The graduation ceremony began with Tom Nash, Director of Windham/Raymond Adult Ed, who welcomed and congratulated family and friends in the audience for their support and encouragement; noting that it made the difficult road to success less challenging for the students. most traditional graduation ceremonies, this one also came with inductions into the honor society and special awards. Graduates Charlana Hamilton, Kaitlyn McAllister, Ashley Patterson and Victoria Wormwood were inducted into the National Adult Education Honor Society, by Cathy Renaud, Adult Education Coordinator. Also inducted were Negin Ahadzadeh, Mako Bile, Kaylyn Lorrain, Osman Ahmed, Patience Deah and Marjorie Lougee.  A Courage to Grow Scholarship was awarded to Christopher Terron McCourt from Central Maine Community College as well.

Two graduates, Kaitlyn McAllister and Christopher Terron McCourt were the student speakers for the evening. Each spoke briefly about their personal journeys on the path to graduation. “It took me a very long thirteen years to get here and I’m so grateful for today,” McAllister shared in her speech.

Rachael O’Donnell, licensed clinical social worker and licensed alcohol-drug counselor from Gorham, was the guest speaker. O’Donnell began with sharing her own life story, which included the same path the 2017 graduates have taken, obtaining her equivalence certificate before going on to college to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Her inspiring talk included many words of encouragement. “Continue to write your own story and choose your destiny, despite the hardships you may face,” she stated.

Superintendent of Schools, Sanford Prince, provided the closing remarks. He honored the students for their tenacity and focus, both of which it took to complete their programs. Prince also reminded the audience that living life a little differently is an acceptable way to obtain personal goals. He ended his remarks and the ceremony with, “We all learn differently, we all travel at different paces . . . and that’s okay.” 

Best of luck to the 2017 Adult Ed Graduates as they begin their new lives and continue to “write their own story.”

The graduates are as follows:
Hudson Adams
Jessica Alexander
Alexander Armstrong
Hayley Cushing
Neal Gomes
Charlana Hamilton
Kaitlyn McAllister
Christopher Terron McCourt
Larissa Needham
Stephen Olsen
Ariezshania Ortega
Ashley L. Patterson
Jessica Remington
Jacob Smith
Aaron Spiller
Ryan Stuart
Francis G. Wall
Victoria Wormwood

Outdoor exploration and adventure available to families with Story Walk by Jennifer Davis

Now that summer is officially under way, it is the perfect opportunity to get out and explore the great outdoors. What better place to start than your own town.

Windham Parks and Recreation is excited to announce the opening of a new Story Walk, located at 45 Falmouth Road in Windham, with the trail entrance located behind at the East Windham Fire Station. 

Historically, one may be familiar with Lowell Preserve as it offers several walking and ATV trails, a small playground and some ball fields. However, on Saturday, June 10, this new addition to the trails officially opened. My family took the opportunity to explore the Story Walk this past weekend on Father’s Day and it did not disappoint.   

 “This is the second Story Walk that Windham Parks and Recreation has established,” Sarah Davenport from Windham Parks and Recreation said. “The first one is at Donnabeth Lippman Park in North Windham, and it opened in 2014. We have a rotating set of stories for both of these trails, and are continuing to grow our library of stories every year.” 

 The story walk begins about 100 yards from the trail entrance and is clearly marked on the left side off of the main trail. Once you enter the Story Walk, you become part of the story and searching for the next page becomes an adventure to find out the next piece of the story. This continues along the path until you reach the end of the story and end up back on the main hiking trail.  

My two sons, six year old Lincoln and three year old Grant, could not wait to reach each page of the book to see what happened next as we moved along the trail. The hike is an easy walk for all ages. It offers shade for the majority of the hike, keeping the walk fairly cool.  

“Story Walks are a unique way for families and individuals to enjoy both the great outdoors and great children’s stories,” Davenport stated. “Our purpose in creating these spaces is to provide opportunities for children and families to connect with and explore our parks.” 

The book currently featured at the Lowell Story Walk is “Sheep on a Hike” and will remain until the beginning of July.  

The Windham Public Library and Parks and Recreation will be working together this summer with the next event occurring on July 12 at Lippman Park from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. where a new book will be introduced: “Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site.” is a great book for children of all ages and their families, and it is a regular read at our home. “We will be walking through and reading the story together, and everyone is encouraged to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy afterwards,” stated Davenport  

I encourage everyone to get out and explore this new addition to Lowell Park and the next Story Walk at Donnabeth Lippman Park. While you are there, take a few minutes to look around; there is much to explore. When you add family time, nature, literature and a picnic lunch together, you have the perfect combination for a great summer day in Maine.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Military and donors gather to open the new dining facility at Camp William Hinds in Raymond By Michelle Libby

Using the scissors from a special Pine Tree Council camp’s pocket knife, invited guests, donors and members of the military cut a red, white and blue ribbon to officially open the new Camp William Hinds dining facility. 
“We have the most beautiful outdoor learning center in the country,” said Scout Executive Eric Tarbox. 

Four years into the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) project, developments at all four of the Pine Tree Council Boy Scout camps (Raymond, Belgrade, Sabattus and Acton) have been completed or are almost complete. There are still projects on the schedule however the dining facility in Raymond is by far the largest. The over 21,000 square foot building provides room for 500 people at a time, and the walk out basement has classrooms used by the RSU14 Katahdin School during the school year and houses the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) program during the summer. 

“We look forward to staying here until it no longer makes sense,” said Katahdin School principal Rich Meserve.
IRT started back during the Clinton “Rebuild America” days. The military was tasked with “finding innovative ways to help the US by giving them real world opportunities servicing the communities we serve,” said Chief Master Sergeant Todd Jones. Having the IRT program in communities gives people, who don’t have exposure to the military or the IRT, a chance to experience military life, he said. 

Mid-April the military began the buildup in Raymond, putting up a tent city to be ready when the troops were deployed on April 22. This year over 250 military members from the Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and United States Marine Corps have worked on projects at the camps. This year alone the military is completing work on the dining facility, made road improvements, did ditch grading, upgraded a staff cabin with plumbing and electrical, did camp maintenance and will complete a fire pond that will benefit Camp Hinds, Kingsley Pines and all homes on Plains Road. 

“We’ll be hitting it hard moving some dirt,” said Jones, discussing the fire pond work. The pond, which was breached in 2005 during the Patriot’s Day Storm, will be six to eight feet deep when completed and will have a fire hydrant on Plains Road. 

“This is a win/win for the community and the military members,” said Jones. 

On the camp property, the Scout Community has stepped in to help fill in any gaps not provided by the military. 

“This is truly a civilian/military experience,” said Tarbox. The work has all been done by service members who serve on a “brand new crew every two weeks. The crew has never met or worked together and all of this happened over a period of years,” he added. The troops have come from Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Royal Marines from England and Maine for their two weeks a year training in their field of service. 

“Over $5 million of construction value was added to our camps,” said Tarbox.

The new dining hall has a new kitchen thanks to the “scrappiness and pluck of the Messers”, who saved ovens, serving lines and refrigerators from UNUM, when that company remodeled years ago.

President of Pine Tree Council, Jeff Messer, stored the items in trailers until they were needed, on the thought that someday there would be a new dining hall, Tarbox told the group. 

“I’m very impressed with what they’ve done here with the resources they’ve been given,” said Air Force Chief Master Sergeant, Cathy Dugas, the highest ranking Air Force member in attendance. It was her first time at Camp Hinds. 

The driving force behind the IRT project has been past Pine Tree Council President and Eagle Scout, Horace Horton. 

“When we started the IRT there was nothing on this site. We’re just so proud,” Horton told the guests. “What a transformation this has made.” 

Each family and business that was a major contributor to the project was recognized during the ceremony; from the design work and construction material donations, to the old dining hall and the naming of the health lodge, to the Ellen K. Stinston Health Lodge. 

“I was a little taken a back,” said former school nurse Ellen Stinston, who the health lodge was named for. “It was totally unexpected. I suggested helping the health lodge. It didn’t know it would be named after me. I probably would never have done it if I’d known.” ceremonies renaming other properties at Camp Hinds will take place on June 24 starting at noon. Pine Tree Council Vice President of Properties, Walt Stinson has his signature on many projects in the council. Bill and Jackie Thornton gave money for the STEAM center and so many more contributed to the projects. From Internet hardware to electrical design and window donations, to monetary donations, the project will serve a large number of scouts for many, many years. 

The one person holding everything together for the council is camp ranger Scott Martin, who has worked with the IRT, collaborated with other property owners and has done much of the finish work on the various projects at camp. 

With a strategic vision the key players in the projects, especially the dining facility have upgraded Camp Hinds to a destination summer camp, where scouts from all over the region and even the world come to experience Maine. This year 40 scouts from Egypt will attend Camp Hinds, adding to the 10.6 percent increase in Boy Scouts and Venture Scouts attending camp this summer. 

“It’s amazing all of the contributions and coordination,” said former scout and retired Navy man Tim Gallant, Maine Staff Assistant to Rep. Bruce Poliquin. “This shows that Scouting is alive and well. All these Scoutmasters are unbelievably amazing,” he added. 

For more information about Pine Tree Council, visit www.PineTree or to find out more about the IRT, visit IRT.Defense.Gov.

A team of fifth-graders from Jordan Small Middle School heads to Washington DC by Elizabeth Richards

Five fifth-graders, and their teacher, will receive the red carpet treatment in Washington DC next week. They will be recognized at an awards assembly on Capitol Hill for finishing eighth in the country in the SIFMA Foundation’s 14th Annual Stock Market Game- Capitol Hill Challenge (CHC). 
The Capitol Hill Challenge is one element of the SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game, a curriculum-based program where student teams, in grades 4-12, learn about the global marketplace, long-term saving and investing fundamentals by using a hypothetical brokerage account. 

A SIFMA press release described the program as follows: “This 14-week challenge organizes teams of middle and high school students by congressional district and state and teaches the importance of saving and investing, while simultaneously promoting a better understanding of our government. Teams invest a hypothetical $100,000 in listed stocks, bonds, and mutual funds and learn the value of the capital markets as they work together to maximize the return of their portfolios.”

Jordan Small Middle School (JSMS) teacher Jack Fitch has led students in the challenge since it began in 2004. Before now, the school’s best team landed in fourteenth place, narrowly missing the top ten and a trip to Washington DC. “This year, this group of boys got together and they played the game great,” he said. “It’s a down market over the last three months, and they outperformed the market with their stock choices.” The JSMS team is the only team from New England and the only middle school team to make the top ten. 

In previous years, only two teams from Maine have made it to Washington DC. Fitch said their team has talked with Jim Ford from the SIFMA Foundation, who was the coach for the Oak Hill teams who made it to the top ten. He has filled them in on what to expect – and that is the “red carpet treatment,” Fitch said. While they won’t have their full itinerary until they reach Washington DC, they know they will meet Chellie Pingree, who was their congressional partner for the game, on the first day. They hope to also meet Angus King while they are there. The awards ceremony is on the afternoon of June 21.

At the ceremony, the boys will be able to hear ideas from other teams and share their own ideas. While only the top three teams speak at the luncheon, the JSMS team will be interviewed several times over the course of the three days. 

The JSMS team is made up of Lucas Oldershaw, Brian Mank, Brandon Mank, Jacob Goslant, and Noah Mains. The boys formed their own team after participating in other stock market games throughout the year. Oldershaw said that he came in first in the year-long game, and Mains came in first in the fall. “We wanted to put this team together because we were all doing really good in our other ones,” he said. three-month CHC began in February. Fitch said the boys worked well as a team, researching and discussing possible stocks to buy or sell. Oldershaw handled the actual buying and selling in the game. Fitch said the team studied their stocks’ 52-week highs and lows, tried to buy low and sell high, and sometimes picked stocks he would not have chosen. “It’s a three-month game, and so they don’t diversify a portfolio a lot. They put a lot of shares into one stock, and if a stock goes up they make a lot of money.”  

The boys said they didn’t argue much while making decisions, but that didn’t mean there were no challenges in the process. One of those challenges was when they lost money. Brian Mank said, “That was a real difficulty. Sometimes, the stocks just slipped right under our nose.”  

Another challenge, according to Brandon Mank, was getting the whole group to decide whether to buy or sell a stock. Mains said that to make decisions, the group got together to talk about things.    “If three of us wanted it, we would do it,” added Oldershaw.

Fitch said the first 15 minutes of each math class were spent on the challenge. As the end of the challenge drew near, and they saw themselves rising in the standings, the anticipation built and they spent more time monitoring their stocks. Fitch said that three days before the challenge was over, the boys made $7,000 in one day, which put them in the top ten.

When asked what they were most looking forward to as they made the trip, the boys showed enthusiasm for the food, the plane ride, the limousine, and seeing the White House. “I’m looking forward to meeting all of Maine’s representatives and maybe, hopefully, the President,” said Brian Mank.

Goslant echoed his thoughts. “I’m looking forward to the food, going to the White House, and I’m hopeful I can see the president,” he said.

Brandon Mank said he thinks the trip will be a blast. “It’s going to be really exciting because we’re the first fifth-grade and the first people from Jordan Small Middle School to go,” he said. None of the boys have been to Washington DC before.

When asked how it felt to be the number eighth team in the country, Brian Mank said, “Being in eighth is a real honor, I never thought we would make it this far.”

Friday, June 9, 2017

An ailing dog and a box of cough drops credited with the founding of landmark Patsy’s store By Walter Lunt

"Windham Then and Now” - The fifth in a series of historical topics about Windham’s unique history and heritage

Patsy’s, once a fixture in South Windham, was the consummate neighborhood corner store that offered tasty food and good fellowship for more than 50 years; a destination known for its zesty Italian sandwiches. 

Pasqualee Miele at work in Patsy's Store in the 1950's
Located on the corner of Depot and Main Streets, Patsy’s came to be in 1938. Pasquale and Josephine Miele moved their family from Needham, Massachusetts to Windham, Maine under the most unusual of circumstances. Their son, Bob, who took over proprietorship of Patsy’s from his father in 1958, remembers the story of its founding: a tale involving a sick dog and cough drops. More on that later.

Born in Elena, Italy in 1887, Pasquale Miele emigrated to the United States in 1902. Unschooled but afflicted with a strong entrepreneurial and  tenacious spirit, the young man of just 15 years, set out to do what most new citizens of Italian heritage did best: own and run a store featuring homeland cuisine. Pasquale arrived under the sponsorship of an uncle and soon taught himself to read and write. 

Later, settled with a home and business in Needham, Massachusetts, family members would remember Pasquale’s mantra: “Education is everything.” Copies of Country Gentleman and National Geographic were all around the house, along with numerous seed catalogs.

Ambitious and smart, Pasquale opened a spacious country store named Home Market in Needham. It was the thriving 1920s. Business grew and expansion included the acquisition of five covered Model-T delivery trucks.

Then, financial collapse. The stock market crash of ’29 brought severe hardship. The charitable Pasquale, who had extended credit to hundreds of his customers, found he could not survive the aftermath of Black Tuesday. Son Bob, then 10 years old, remembers riding in the old delivery truck with his dad, depositing bills in customers’ mail boxes. By 1932, under the crushing load of $22,000 credit debt, Home Market closed. Pasquale went to work managing a competing store for the next six years; which brings us to the dog and the cough drops. 1938, the Miele’s were in Raymond, Maine visiting relatives whose dog had fallen ill. At that time of year most local veterinarians were tending animals at county fairs, so Fido was taken to Cornish for treatment. On the return trip, Pasquale’s throat became sore and dry. He requested a stop at store in Standish for cough drops. It was there, to everyone’s surprise, he met his wife’s brother who he hadn’t seen in many years. Uncle Sully, it seems, owned stores in Standish and South Windham. The latter was for sale, and the rest, as they say, is history.

By later that same year, the Miele’s were the proud proprietors of South Windham Grocery Store. Pasquale had taken up where he’d left off six years earlier in Needham, Massachusetts.

The Miele’s rented the “Weeks House” on the corner of Webber (now Alweber) and Highland Cliff Roads in Windham for $4.00 a week (see: House for Sale, some disassembly required - The Windham Eagle, Oct. 9, 2015).

Pasquale and Josephine’s store prospered with the help of the family, brothers Ralph and Bob and daughter Jean. When Bob returned from the war in 1945 he suggested the name of the store be changed to Patsy’s, the Italian nick-name for Pasquale. His father rejected the idea but Bob persisted.
In the presence of his father, Bob quizzed store patrons, “What do you say when you’re coming to
this store? I’m going to South Windham Grocery Store?” 

“No,” they would all reply, “I just say I’m going’ to Patsy’s.”

Now: in honor of Patsy's
Soon, a new sign went up at the familiar corner store near the mills in South Windham: Patsy’s.
Also around this time, Pasquale and Josephine could realize their long held dream of home ownership. They would purchase a 1794 cape on River Road, near the store, that was once the home of Thomas Smith, son of Windham’s (Parson) Peter Thatcher Smith. It remains in the family to this day.

Upon Pasqualee’s retirement in 1958, Bob and wife Alys took over the reins of Patsy’s store. Old timers and baby boomers soon came to associate Patsy’s with Bob’s newest creation, the fresh and tasty Italian sandwich - many of the ingredients originating from the large garden at the River Road farm.

Jean still lives at the family homestead. She and Bob reminisced about the old neighborhood.
They and longtime resident Dave Tobin observed, “We never locked our doors.”
Neighborhood patrons and workers from the nearby mills and reformatory (correctional center) were like family.

“They were an unbelievably diverse group,” said Jean. “Russian, Czechoslovakian, several Jewish families, Italian, Irish and so many others. Country [of origin] never mattered - they were people - wonderful friends, and we supported each other. [I was just a kid and] It was the greatest upbringing you could have.”

By the mid-1970s the mills had closed. Much of the village fell into disrepair. Patsy’s closed in 1978. New owners operated the store into the early 1990s, when the building was converted into apartments. Declared unsafe and torn down around 2015, the deteriorating structure was replaced by a 4-unit apartment building, which opened to occupants last November. Builder Jim Cummings commemorated the historic spot with a new sign: Patsy’s Corner.
“It was a very good thing for him to do,” said Bob Miele, “I was very pleased. I went right down there and took a picture.” Sister Jean Phillips called the sign a heartwarming gesture.

Long before the demise of Patsy’s and other public places in South Windham, the economic engines that once ran on manufacturing had turned over to tourism. The gateway and the “new Main Street” would be North Windham.

Today, any reference to South Windham is usually couched in terms of revitalization. It’s no longer the mills, diverse businesses, patriotic parades, or Patsy’s.

Raymond Village Library offers third Biennial Garden Tour in late June by Elizabeth Richards

On Saturday, June 24, eight private gardens in Raymond will be open to visitors on a self-guided tour as part of the Raymond Garden Tour, a fundraiser held every other year for the Raymond Village Library. Garden designers will be on hand to talk with gardening enthusiasts about their creative process in cultivating the inviting spaces. The drive between farms showcases the rural countryside and scenic waterfronts of Raymond. 
Elissa Gifford, who helps organize the tour and will open her own garden to the public this year, said that different gardens are featured on each tour to allow guests to experience a new array each time. 

Though gardeners generally agree that no garden is ever finished, Gifford said, participating in the tour provides a goal with a deadline by which to complete and implement their gardening ideas. “My garden has evolved to the point where we can confidently invite visitors believing they will enjoy the experience. Yes, there are unfinished areas, weeds here and there, and things needing pruning or deadheading but that’s the everyday reality of an ornamental garden,” Gifford said.

Mulberry Farms, a certified organic vegetable garden owned by Frank and Deb Pecararo, will also be featured on the tour. The Pecararos purchased the property in 2014 and have been renovating ever since, including rebuilding the farmhouse and putting landscaping in place.   

In 2015, said Deb, the farm operation began on a cash only basis with a couple of tables under a canopy and limited hours during fair weather. They began with some perennial produce: strawberries; blueberries; raspberries; fruit trees; and asparagus, as well as some annual crops. 

Since then, they have built a permanent farm stand, and the perennial and annual plantings have expanded each year.

View of Mulberry Farms
History is important at Mulberry Farms. The house has been rebuilt to look like the original house from the 1700s. A stone wall built from the granite that was the foundation of the old house is incorporated into the landscaping, and plant varieties that have been used around farm houses for generations were chosen. We are participating [in the garden tour] in part to honor the history of the property, previously a dairy farm, and the Edwards family who owned it since the early 1900s.

Carleton, Dorothy and Berenice were all very active in the community,” said Deb. “Additionally, we want to let folks know that Raymond has a MOFGA Certified Organic farm and educate them about how we grow in the hoop houses as well as the fields,” she added.

Gifford said the eight gardens on this year’s tour are an eclectic mix of ornamental and working vegetable and fruit gardens, with locations ranging from waterside to inland steep slopes to the Raymond Community Garden, another program of the Raymond Village Library. “We are excited to offer such variety, and feel certain there is something for everyone on this Tour,” she said.

The Raymond Garden Tour is an important fund raiser for the Raymond Village Library, Gifford said.

“Sponsors, library trustees and staff, and community volunteers team up to organize and run this event, all proceeds from which directly benefit the library and its programs,” she said. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased at the Raymond Village Library, or online at Raffle tickets for an original painting by local artist Donna Kantor, which is on display at the library, will be on sale as well. The rain date for the garden tour is Sunday, June 25.

The tour begins at the library at 9 a.m. Visitors can tour at their own pace, using a brochure and map available at the library. The tour is designed to take a full day. Participants are encouraged to visit several gardens in the morning, break for lunch at one of the surrounding businesses also featured on the map, and continue their tour in the afternoon, finishing by 3 p.m. 

But the fun doesn’t end at the last garden. After the tour, the Historic Hawthorne House will hold their annual Strawberry Festival, featuring homemade shortcake and fresh strawberries. This event, which begins at 3:30 p.m., features a talk by Jeanne Christie, Executive Director of the Association of State Wet Land Managers. Christie will speak on “Gardening for Bumble Bees and Other Native Pollinators.” 

This topic complements the goals of the garden tour. “Each of Raymond’s tours is created around the belief that exposure to a variety of gardens and gardening techniques fosters an interest in sustainability. Living as we do in Raymond, near and on bodies of water, reminds us of the responsibility we have to make the best gardening choices possible to keep the water clean and keep pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, alive,” said Gifford.

Admission to the Strawberry Festival is $10 for adults, $5 for children 8 and under. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are appreciated. Reservations can be made by at:

The Raymond Garden Tour will be preceded by a gardening talk at the library. Authors and horticulturists Reeser Manley and Marjorie Peronto will talk about their book, “The Life in Your Garden: Gardening for Biodiversity”, on Wednesday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit: