Friday, July 28, 2017

As Windham Community Garden grows so does the need for new committee members by Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Community Garden, located on Route 202 next to the Windham Safety Building and public skate park, celebrated its seventh year by hosting a Morning in the Garden on Saturday, July 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. With donuts and coffee available, area Windham residents had the opportunity to stop by and take a look at the success of the gardens’ growth and discover ways to become involved as a community gardener as well.
Established in 2010, the Windham Community Garden was the vision of a few forward thinking individuals who thought that a community garden in Windham was needed and would be well received. “The first year, we had four gardeners but by the next year in 2011, we had 37 gardeners,” stated Pricilla Payne, who was one of the core group members to initiate the garden and serves as the secretary of the garden committee. “Now there are over 50 gardeners with 75 beds being used.” order to keep up with the success and growth of the garden, new members are being sought out to help with a variety of tasks. “As always, the garden committee is looking for new members,” Payne said. “There is always lots of maintenance to be done at the garden, especially in the spring when we are getting ready for the opening and in the fall when closing for the winter. If anyone has an interest in becoming involved we would love to talk to them.”

The benefits of having and being involved in a community garden are endless. The Parks and Recreation Department from St. Paul, MN took time and listed the many advantages of a community garden, like the one in Windham. Some benefits from that list include the following:

Increase a sense of community ownership and stewardship.
Foster the development of a community identity and spirit.
Bring people together from a wide variety of backgrounds (age, race, culture, social class).
Community gardening is recognized by the many police departments as an effective community crime prevention strategy.
Provide inter-generational exposure to cultural traditions.
It is a healthy, inexpensive activity for youth that can bring them closer to nature and allow them to interact with each other in a socially meaningful and physically productive way.
Add beauty to the community and heighten people's awareness and appreciation for living things.

And, of course, the ultimate benefit of a community garden is healthy food production, not only for
the individual but for others in society as well.

“In the past seven years, we have donated over 7,000 pounds of food to the food pantry,” Payne said. “And we always encourage all gardeners to give their overproduction to the pantry.” 

The committee works diligently to adhere to its mission to create a garden following organic practices, provide affordable garden plots, support a community of gardeners and to help promote a green and sustainable Windham. In order to do so, they participate in regular meetings, organize and execute fundraising efforts, write grant applications and spend a lot of time in the garden helping others. They also solicit donations on behalf of the garden.

“Our next goal is to place solar panels on the greenhouse so we can grow produce year round,” said Donna Walter, also a garden committee member. 

To obtain a solar panel, members will work on fundraising and grant writing efforts to name a few. “If there is anyone in the community who wishes to donate or make a contribution towards the solar panel and its installation, we will always accept that as well,” Walter continued.

The garden committee stated that the community has been very helpful in contributing to the garden’s   break from the heat while attending to their beds,” said Payne. “Also, Girl Scout Troop #1518 has two beds at the garden and one of those beds is growing carrots for the MSSPA horse rescue farm here in Windham.”
success. “We like to thank the Shelter Man who generously donated a canopy and frame so that we have a nice place for gardeners to take

Other community organizations that the committee has identified as making contributions include Blue Seal Feeds, Inc. and Skillins Greenhouse, which have either donated or discounted a number of items to include seeds and hay. “We also have the Town of Windham to thank for a multitude of things,” stated Marge Govoni, garden committee member. “They supply us with a water source (Fire Department), wood chips, mowing the area around the exterior of the garden and lastly, allowing us to use this land which benefits us all as a community.”

Payne stated that committee member, Rachel Michaud, has gone above and beyond her role as a garden member “for rehabbing and repainting our sign and being our Master Social Media expert.”
The intertwining community effort and support is among the community garden’s greatest strengths. “This garden is a huge asset to the community and to the folks that garden here,” Payne said. “There is so much satisfaction in raising your own organic produce.” Windham Garden Community will start taking reservations for the 2018 season in late fall. The cost for one plot on an annual basis is $30. For more information, visit the garden website at

Reid Stories helps to build a better world at Windham Public Library by Jennifer Davis

Reid Stories - To the Windham Library staff and the families who visit, this is a well-known and very important name. Reid Stories is the chicken that has been visiting the Windham Public Library this summer, back from college. Reid likes to find new hiding spots within the library each day, changing floors each week, where children and families can go on a search to find him.  The reward is a surprise from the magic treasure box.
Reid is not a real chicken, of course, but has been part of the summer activities at the Windham Library for the past ten years. He is welcomed each year during Windham Summerfest, arriving on the Windham Library float during the parade. This lets kids and families know that the search is on for the summer. 

Reid has helped with this summer’s theme Build a Better World, showing up in a construction outfit ready to work. You never know where you may find Reid, but you can be sure his hiding spot will be interesting. “My favorite story about a hiding spot was when he was hidden on top of one of our ceiling fan blades,” Jennifer Alvino, Library Director said.  “Someone forgot the chicken was hidden there and turned the fan on. The chicken learned how to fly that day!”

On average, about 20 kids come to the library to look for the chicken each day. His presence ignites excitement in families and brings them to the library, opening a door to reading.  We wanted the kids to feel comfortable here and the chicken has turned into something the kids really look forward to each summer,” said Alvino.  “I think it's one of those things that the kids will talk about when they are older and remember that the library is a safe, fun and exciting place to visit.” know it is hard to believe, but summer is nearing its end. With the start of a new school year, Reid will be heading back to college. This will be his last week at the library, so if you can get in to see him this weekend, it would be worth the trip. 

While you are at the library, look for information about the library’s upcoming events such as: the summer reading program (there is still time to sign up), annual pet show, eclipse activities, story hour, crafts, book discussions, letterboxing and writing club. Plus you can find passes to several local attractions such as Dundee Park, Maine Wildlife Park, Children’s Museum and Southworth Planetarium. 

Oh yeah, once you find Reid, don’t forget to wish him well on his upcoming school year.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mushroom Discovery Walk confirms increased interest in mushroom studies by Lorraine Glowczak

Alan Seamans teaches mushroom identification
Approximately 25 amateur mycologists, gathered together at the Black Brook Preserve in Windham on Saturday, July 15 from 10 a.m. to noon to walk and explore the trails and learn about the diversity of mushrooms.

Hosted by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust (PRLT) and led by Alan Seamans of the Maine   
Mycological Association, participants discovered the array of mushrooms available in the area, learned the importance of mushrooms to forest ecology and learned how to identify the variety of species with a discussion on the edible variety.

It was not long into the walk before the participants discovered that the forest was a host to a beautiful collection of fungi. It truly was a science lab waiting to be discovered and to offer its knowledge to all 25 individuals.

With the help of Seamans, the participants identified a number of colorful fungi with names such as Chanterelle, Brittle Gill, Painted Bolete, Puff Balls, American Caesar and Amanita rubescens, to name a few. Seamans pointed out that the Amanita rubescens is also known as "The Blusher" because it develops ruddy discoloration when handled. identifying may get easier as one becomes more knowledgeable, it is always helpful to
have a book along with you to determine the species name. Many books are available to help one with identification but it is difficult to find one book that has all the varieties. “There are thousands upon thousands of mushroom species,” Seamans said. “No book has a list of all them.” In fact, Seamans stated that there are still many mushroom varieties that have yet to be identified.

Seamans also shared how important mushrooms are to the forest’s health. He stated that mushrooms play a variety of roles including that of decayers that remove rotting wood and provide nutrients to the forest floor. Mushrooms also play the role of a parasite which eliminates diseased and weakened trees. Mushrooms also live in a symbiotic relationship with the forest. “The tree and the mushroom work together in conjunction with each other, living together in close proximity so both receive benefits,” Seamans explained in detail about symbiosis. “One cannot survive without the other.”

Also, one cannot hike a mushroom discovery walk without including discussion of the edible
mushrooms available. “Any mushroom is edible,” Seamans began the conversation but then warned with humor; “At least once.”

There are mushrooms that are safe and healthy to eat if you are able to identify them correctly, but Seamans’ rule of thumb regarding the forage of mushrooms to eat is, “Is it worth it?” Is it worth the time, effort and taste? Chanterelles are one of the most safe and edible variety in the area but he advises to stay away from any fungi from the Amanitas family because almost any mushroom from this group can be deadly.

“However, for those safe mushrooms – they are much like milk and nuts, some people may have a sensitivity to edible mushrooms,” Seamans advised. “Always keep a mushroom aside in case of an emergency, so it can be identified.”

One participant in the discovery walk forages for mushrooms to eat with his meals. Stephen Signor, who is self-taught and has studied mycology for the past five years, incorporates wild mushrooms in many of his recipes. He tests his mushrooms using spore prints and samples to determine if it is safe to eat. “I incorporate wild mushrooms in my soups, stews, steak sandwiches or use it as a basic side dish,” Signor said. “I even make mushroom omelets.”

The two hour mushroom tour was over quickly and Seamans was thanked profusely by the participants for sharing his knowledge.
“Alan was a fantastic event leader as he was extremely knowledgeable about mushrooms on every level - from identifying groups and individual species to discussing the broad importance of fungi in the forest ecosystem,” stated Toby Jacobs, Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator for the PRLT. “He was great at relating all of that knowledge to a beginner audience in an accessible way. The 20 plus participants who came to the event showed great interest in both Alan's talk and the Preserve itself, and it was encouraging to see a lot of people out who had never visited the Black Brook Preserve before. We hope to have another walk like this in the future.”

For those who want to delve further into the world of mushroom education and/or foraging, Seamans suggested the book, “Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada: A Photographic Guidebook to Finding and Using Key Species” by David Spahr.

For those who wish to learn more about Black Brook Preserve or to volunteer and become a member with the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, visit their website at

The Little Women are welcomed with open arms at MSSPA by Jennifer Davis

The term, The Little Women, often invokes sweet memories of the March sisters from the novel of the same name written by Louisa May Alcott. However, the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals (MSSPA), located at 279 River Road in Windham, has recently welcomed a group of seven beautiful donkeys that the staff pleasantly refers to as The Little Women.

The Little Women arrived at MSSPA at the end of June. For over 40 years, MSSPA has been providing a home for horses that have been neglected or abused in Maine and nurses them back to health and then can hopefully be adopted. Having donkeys is a new experience for MSSPA, but these donkeys were welcomed with open arms.

Abby, Star, Lilly, Cindy, Buttercup, Kit, and Martina are the names of the seven donkeys currently living among the many horses at MSSPA. I had a chance to visit The Little Women this past week, when I was met by Jessica Braun and given a tour of the donkeys and the MSSPA facility. 

“The donkeys arrived at the MSSPA at the end of June,” Braun said. “They will remain in quarantine
for 28 days to ensure that they do have anything contagious that could spread to the rest of the herd.”  
Braun could not provide specifics as to exactly why the donkeys came to MSSPA. “The MSSPA do not share specifics regarding any animal's arrival at the farm and the circumstances that lead to their seizure or surrender,” Braun said. “This is for confidentiality and legal reasons.”  No matter what the reasoning for the donkeys’ arrival, they are already loved by the staff.

Upon admission to MSSPA, each donkey had a checkup and a plan was put in place for their care and hopeful adoption. If the donkeys, or any other animal are not adopted, they remain at MSSPA for the remainder of their lives where they will be cared for there by the staff and the many volunteers.  

“Upon arrival, each donkey was seen by a vet and farrier [a specialist in equine hoof care],” Braun said. “In conjunction with the barn manager, Jeff Greenleaf, individualized plans were created. Following quarantine, the donkeys may stay however long it takes to get healthy. It is at the discretion of the vet and barn manager to determine if and when any animal is fit to leave the farm to join a family.”  

The MSSPA has an in-depth adoption process for the animals in their facility to ensure the perfect home for each animal. The Little Women are about nineteen years old but have plenty of life and love to share with a family, as donkeys have an average lifespan of thirty or more years. 

“The adoption process begins by interested people completing the preliminary adoption application found on the MSSPA website,” Braun states. “The adoption committee meets regularly to review applications. They conduct interviews, check references and perform site visits to the potential home. The goal of adoption is to find the best fit for the animal and the adopter.” is open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day in June, July, and August and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily for the remainder of the year. Anyone can visit during these times. MSSPA is also available to set up group tours with a staff member who can share a little bit about each animal and the facility.

Fifth annual church "Lobstah Bake" by Lorraine Glowczak

Zimmer-Rankin's daughter, Madison catches her first lobster
What began six years ago with a nurse caring for a patient from Vinalhaven, who was at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, turned into a fundraising event at Faith Lutheran Church in Windham. With all its twist and turns from that one simple meeting between nurse and patient, the members of Faith Lutheran, located at 988 Roosevelt Trail, are elated to announce their fifth annual fundraising “Lobstah Bake” on Sunday, August 6 with two different seating’s available at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

The nurse Melinda Zimmer-Rankin, also a member of Faith Lutheran, who is now a nurse anesthetist employed for a different organization, helped care for a patient she refers to as Charlie. “Charlie had been my patient at CMMC and was very appreciative of all the care the staff in the heart and vascular institute at CMMC provided for him. To show his gratitude, he invited the medical team to stay with him on his property on Vinalhaven, offering the cabins he also owned.”

Zimmer-Rankin accepted Charlie’s invitation and that’s when the idea of a fundraising event began to It just so happened that Charlie was a lobsterman by trade. “We [Faith Lutheran] had been talking about doing a unique fundraiser for quite a while,” explained Zimmer-Rankin. “And that’s when I got the idea about going lobster fishing with Charlie.” Charlie liked Zimmer-Rankin’s idea and offered to charge her the shore price to help contribute to the fundraising efforts. And thus, the birth of the lobster bake at Faith Lutheran became reality.

Zimmer-Rankin and her family set sail the following year with Charlie on his lobster boat to fish his 300 traps in the Down East region of Maine. “I was seasick the first time I went,” she said. But that didn’t stop Zimmer-Rankin who has been devoted to lobstering for her church the past five years.
Every first weekend in August she drives the 2 hours to Rockland and takes the 1 ½ hour ferry ride to Vinalhaven and then fishes for eight hours on Saturday. Zimmer-Rankin wakes up early Sunday morning, wraps the lobsters in seaweed, and packs them in ice and then heads for the ferry back to the mainland at 7 a.m., arriving in Windham just in time, so members of the Windham/Raymond community and beyond can have access to fresh Maine lobster.

“This is a team effort,” Zimmer-Rankin says of her church family. “Once church is let out at 11 a.m., we all transform the parking lot into a festive Lobstah Bake, with our first guests beginning to arrive around 12:30 p.m.

Unfortunately, two people have passed away since last year’s lobster bake. Charlie passed away 6 months ago but his son Ira continues his father’s tradition. “In addition to loosing Charlie we have also lost our faithful fire tender and cook, Robert Rankin who passed away this spring,” stated Zimmer-Rankin.  “This year, my daughter and I will fish in memory of these two men.” fundraiser is more than a church occasion. “This fundraiser is really an event for the whole Windham community--not just the members of our church,” stated Jane Field, Pastor of Faith Lutheran. “It's a chance for old friends to reconnect and for new friendships to form as people gather under the tents to enjoy delicious lobster caught just hours before in Vinalhaven. Everyone in our congregation gets involved in putting this on, and you can really see the incredible spirit of hospitality and welcome that is at the very heart of their faith.  The money we raise goes to support the work of the church, including our ongoing involvement in the Monday Meals Program and our extraordinary music leadership program for teen artists, led by our beloved and phenomenally talented Music Director, David Hansen, and our audio and technology expert, David Muise. The sign out in front of our church says ‘All Are Welcome,’ and that's true every Sunday--but it's especially true on Sunday, August 6, when all are truly welcome to join us in enjoying great lobster and supporting a good cause."

The Faith Lutheran “Lobstah Bake” includes one lobster, ½ pound of steamers, corn on the cob, potatoes, coleslaw, blueberry cobbler, and lemonade. This meal is $20. The same meal with two lobsters is $25. A hotdog or a hamburger meal, with the same side options, is also available for $10. Single lobsters to take home are also available upon special order for $5 each.

To place your order for either the “Lobstah Bake” or for single lobsters to take home, contact Melinda Zimmer-Rankin before July 31 at 749-9503.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Community icon retires from Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals by Lorraine Glowczak

Marilyn Goodreau
If a gathering can be both merry and heartrending at the same time, then that is exactly the sense one had at the Wednesday, June 21 board meeting of the Maine State Society of Protection of Animals (MSSPA.) Board members said farewell with a surprise retirement celebration for Marilyn Goodreau, who after 45 years at MSSPA, has decided to step down from her role as president and chairperson of the board. Goodreau, who is widely recognized and admired, has devoted many years of service to the greater community and provided salvation to thousands of animals.

The evening began with gifts of appreciation, a catered dinner, as well as joyous moments of reminiscing the life and dedication of this icon.

Goodreau has been a part of MSSPA since 1972, when her professional and life partner, Lawrence J. Keddy, became president of the organization. When she and Keddy took on their active roles with MSSPA, the organization was simply an office on Exchange Street in Portland. Although the work and activism the organization provided on behalf of animal welfare was admirable, Keddy and Goodreau wanted to expand its services to do more.
Doing more meant finding an actual location to provide a haven for abused and neglected horses. At the time, there were no shelters or rehabilitation centers for horses in the state, so Goodreau and Keddy set out to find the perfect location and become that safe haven. 

“My partner was a genius,” Goodreau said of Keddy, who passed away in September 2000. “He was aware of the unused space the State of Maine’s Department of Corrections owned on River Road across from Correctional Facility. He knew that space could be used for good, so he approached the governor at the time, Joe Brennan, about leasing the property.”“Keddy first leased and then purchased the property from the State of Maine,” explained Meris J.  Bickford, CEO of MSSPA. “Sale of state land requires gubernatorial consent and he [Gov. Brennan] was supportive of both lease and purchase of what is now the Society’s River Road farm.  Purchase was at fair market value, no discount.”

Once the lease and purchase was in place, a second barn was constructed on the land that is the current home of MSSPA. The first horse that was seized from an abusive situation was a horse named Hannah. Hannah was malnourished to the point she could not stand. Goodreau and veterinarian Dr. David Jefferson spent the next 24 hours making a sling to assist Hannah until she could stand on her own.

“She even slept with Hannah and other horses until they got better,” recalled Jefferson who has worked alongside Keddy and Goodreau since 1975 and is the owner of the Maine Equine Associates in New Gloucester. He is also a member of the board.

“The animal, Thomas, needed to know that someone loved him,” Goodreau said of another horse saved from abuse. “And I wasn’t going to leave him until he knew he was loved.” 

It was this level of concern and dedication that earned her the WCSH 6 Who Care Award in 2015.

Goodreau not only provided deep concern and love for animals but she offered lessons of wisdom to those who worked with her. “The first time I went along with Marilyn to pick up a neglected horse, I was horrified by the condition of the sweet little pony mare and the place she was being kept,” said Bickford. “I was really angry and wanted to confront the owners. Quickly I learned Marilyn’s magic was being able to simply focus on the animal and totally block out the people, just being completely accepting of whatever baloney they were putting out there, blaming the animal, taking no responsibility. Marilyn told me that she always tried to totally tune in with the animal and after a while, she didn’t even hear the people or their excuses. Then I got it – it is about the animal. Get the animal out to safety and worry about the rest later. It was a very useful lesson.”
Goodreau and her devotion, commitment, caring and wisdom will be deeply missed by board members, volunteers, the community and the animals she served. But there comes a time when one needs to step back, rest and enjoy life at a slower pace.

Marilyn tells us that she is tired, her body is tired (she can still carry a 40-pound bale of hay the length of the big barn), and she is tired of the fight to have Maine’s animal welfare laws enforced,” Bickford explains. “She says she wants to stay at home and enjoy the beauty of all she has there, including her beloved animals. Honestly, I think she has earned that and then some.”

Water skiing Santa helps bring Christmas in July to Raymond Food Pantry by Walter Lunt

Skiing Santa on Thomas Pond
Donations to the Raymond Food Pantry are typically down during the summer months. This year, however, an unexpected and unlikely, good samaritan in a red suit, showed up at just the right time. It was Santa! In July! On water skis!
“Donations dip during the summer months,” stated Raymond Lions Club volunteer and Food Pantry director Gary Bibeau “This is going to get me over the hump this season.”

He was referring to a sizable load of food and paper goods from the Thomas Pond Terrace Road Association which arrived quite unexpectedly last Sunday.

Bibeau and other pantry volunteers seemed a bit perplexed over the source of their good fortune until Santa’s helpers arrived with a pickup truck full of pantry donations, and an explanation.

It seems about ten years ago several families decided to have an off-season lakeside Christmas celebration, including a traditional turkey dinner, holiday music, festive clothes and Yankee gift swap. Christmas in July. year, a celebrant donned a Santa suit and water skied around the lake tossing packets of Christmas candy to swimmers and children. It became a yearly tradition.
This year, the group invited the entire Raymond shore to participate by donating to a worthy cause. The Raymond Food Pantry was chosen.

Officials of the Road Association sent notices to all residences saying that they could contribute by placing non-perishable foods and paper goods on their docks after the Santa Candy Run. 

Retrieval of the items was achieved by pontoon boat. Vinny Maietta eased his vessel to within inches of the dozens of donor docks while volunteer Ed Dooley, dressed as Santa, picked up and piled the donations onto the boat.

“Lots of young children (were) excited to see us,” said Maietta; “Santa Ed was a huge hit with young and old. We got 50 to 60 boxes and bags of mostly food.” And he continued, “(The) Thomas Pond Terrace neighborhood is such a great community. We enjoyed all the thoughtful comments from the donors.”

Ellie Miller lives on the Raymond shore with her parents and remembers waiting for the annual event when she was six years old.

“When I was little I always couldn’t wait for Christmas in July. I got excited for Santa to water ski by and throw candy.”

Bibeau, the pantry director, said he was particularly pleased with the wide variety of items: “…the
baked beans, egg pasta, macaroni and cheese, salad dressings and jellies and jams. These are items not normally available through the USDA distribution program.”

He explained the Raymond Food Pantry is open to Raymond residents and to seniors who qualify for the federal Commodity Supplemental Food Program. Local donations come not only from families and individuals, but also from: churches, civic organizations, Good Shepard Food Bank and local businesses like Good Life Market and Hannaford Supermarkets. Seasonally, fresh produce comes from the Raymond Library garden and from the Jordan Small School garden, which is maintained by students and staff through the summer. 

“Hannaford, in particular, has been very good to us,” said Bibeau.

“Our patrons are the elderly and handicapped, those that are challenged in various ways or have medical issues and families dealing with break-ups or job loss.”

Numbers served in the month of May, the latest figures available, were 69 households that totaled 171 individuals.
The pantry is heavily supported by the Raymond Lions Club, which also sponsors the annual Christmas Tree Lighting (in December) and the U.S. flags along Route 302.

Skiing Santa prefers to remain anonymous, but issued a brief statement to The Windham Eagle: “This year really felt like the spirit of Christmas. Maybe next year we can expand the effort and attract some volunteers on the (town of) Casco side of the lake.”

Ellie Miller, now 13, echoed the sentiment, “I was always excited to get something, but this year was special because I was able to give something.”

Friday, July 7, 2017

Windham Parks and Recreation hires an intern Park Ranger to both educate and share information on the trails By Jennifer Davis

Bennett offers water to a thirsty dog.
There is nothing more rewarding than reaching your dreams or accomplishing your goals.  

Dreams can be big and small, but no matter the size, once it has been achieved the feeling is amazing. Molly Bennett is doing just that. Bennett has been hired for the summer as the Town of Windham’s Park and Recreations Park Ranger. This is a new position for the town and Molly could not be happier to be working in this role for Windham.  

Bennett is a sophomore at the University of Maine at Orono. She is only here for the summer but is very excited about the opportunity. Bennett is studying wildlife ecology at the university and this role is a great place for her to apply what she has learned so far. 

The aspect of the position I’m most excited about, is the opportunity to educate people about the natural world,” Bennett said. “Our livelihoods all depend on it in one way or another, and I think people should know that our community in Windham applies to more than just people. If we can understand the wildlife around us, we can do what’s best for it (and, ultimately, us) in Windham and beyond.”  Bennett is a lifelong Mainer and has enjoyed the outdoors ever since she was a child.

Bennett will be working in some of the parks in the town including Donnabeth Lippman Park located off of Route 302, the Lowell Preserve located off of Falmouth Road and Dundee Park, located off of River Road.  

For those who frequent the nature trails maintained by Windham Parks and Recreation, they may be happy to know that there is a park ranger hiking the trails too; making them even better and answering questions if one happens to meet her on a daily or weekly walk.

 “You can find me out mapping and marking trails at Lippman Park and Lowell Preserve, water sampling at Dundee Park, putting up information in kiosks and around town, and trying to get to know the Windham residents that use our parks and trails, including the four-legged ones,” stated Bennett. “I want to share what I love about Windham by getting more people outdoors and making the outdoor properties in Windham more accessible without detracting from their natural value.”  

“Exploring the outdoors is very important to my family and one of our favorite things to do in the summer. We love to be outside and enjoy finding new ways to explore,” she said. Bennett states, “A few things I’ve been excited about this week are:  the family of snapping turtles living at the Mountain Division Trail, kids using trails at Chaffin Pond through summer camps, and a trail maintenance day/BBQ around the Chaffin Pond trails.” For details on these and other trail activities, stay tuned on the Windham Parks and Recreation Facebook page at
Welcome Molly Bennett

Bennett is excited to make the Windham nature areas better and more accessible to everyone. As she works to accomplish her goals in the park ranger role, keep your eye out for her this summer. She welcomes feedback on how to improve Windham’s parks and make them a place that everyone can explore.  

If you see Bennett working on one of the trails in Windham during one of your hikes, be sure to welcome her.

Professional flying training company helps performers soar by Elizabeth Richards

Six young performers will take flight in the Schoolhouse Arts Center’s upcoming production of “Peter Pan.” This special effect is just one element of magic the show promises to bring to the community.

Ashley McBreairty of Gorham (Wendy), Reese Madarasz of Brunswick (John) and Ella Tedeschi (Michael) of York thrill to the sensation of flying during training by flight experts Flying by Foy
Learning to fly is no easy task, and several members of the cast and crew spent three recent evenings being trained by the top in the business. Schoolhouse Arts Center partnered with Flying by Foy, a prestigious flying training company, whose global headquarters are in Las Vegas, Nevada. The company also has operations in the United Kingdom and the Eastern US. 

According to their website, “The company was established in 1957 by Peter Foy, whose innovative techniques and patented mechanical inventions revolutionized theatrical flight in the second half of the 20th century, elevating the ancient practice of stage flying to a modern art form.”

Flying by Foy coordinated the 1954 Broadway version of “Peter Pan” with Mary Martin, which is the version Schoolhouse Arts Center is using for their summer production. The company has flown more productions of “Peter Pan” than any other company. They trained Sandy Duncan and Cathy Rigby,
and oversaw the flying for “Peter Pan Live,” which aired on NBC in 2014.  

Schoolhouse Arts Center put on “Peter Pan” several years ago, and that show did include flying, but not to the same extent, said Cristina McBreairty, President of the Board. This time around they have removed the ceiling in the auditorium section so that Peter Pan can fly closer to the audience. “The last time that we did it, it was all behind the curtains, so we’re taking it one step further,” said McBreairty.  

She added that many other “magical” things will be happening throughout the show. The goal for this production is to make the audience feel like they are there, a theater technique known as “breaking the fourth wall,” she said. “Often a show feels very much like its onstage, rather than they [the audiences] are a part of it,” she said.  

Director Zac Stearn is working hard to create this magic, McBreairty said. “We are so lucky to have him. The energy that he brings, the things he is able to get the cast to do – it’s amazing.”

Stearn is a Maine native who currently resides in Connecticut. Stearn studied theater at the University of Southern Maine (USM).  He has been performing since he was seven years old, and played the role of Peter Pan when he was a child. For fifteen years, Stearn has been a professional stand-up comedian, actor and musician. He has also been a guest director for theaters and theatre programs, including at USM, The Theatre Academy of Maine, the Gaslight Theatre Project, and Hall Dale Theatre. 

The long commute Stearn makes from Connecticut to Standish to direct this show, speaks volumes about his commitment to the production and Schoolhouse Arts Center. Stearn said he has many reasons for being involved in the show.  “I love this show,” he said. “Schoolhouse is a great little theater and it has so much to offer. They’ve been very generous with what we are able to do with this,” he said.

The long commute is well worth it, according to Stearn. “When you find a place like this to work, you just want to work here all the time. The drive is nothing compared to the fun that we have over the weekends.” Stearn previously appeared onstage as the candlestick in the Schoolhouse Arts Center production of Beauty and the Beast.

The young actors being trained to fly for the show are: Kaylin Brown of Gorham (Peter Pan), Molly Lemont, also of Gorham (Peter Pan understudy), Ashley McBreairty of Gorham (Wendy), Corinne Ulmer of Windham (Wendy understudy), Reese Madarasz of Brunswick (John) and Ella Tedeschi (Michael) of York.
McBreairty said that unlike some shows where the understudies never get seen onstage, the understudies for this production will perform on Thursdays.

The show has a cast of thirty-two. Captain Hook will be played by Steve Koskinen of Portland, Smee will be played by Jeff McNally of Gorham and Tiger Lily will be played by Emily Thompson of New Gloucester and Elizabeth Olsen of Windham. 

The show opens on Thursday, July 13 and runs through Sunday, July 30th.  Thursday through Saturday performances are at 7 p.m. and Sunday performances begin at 5 p.m. McBreairty said that tickets are already selling fast, in part due to the new online ticketing system that allows people to choose their seats online.  

Norway Savings Bank has contributed generous support to the production of “Peter Pan.” Ticket prices are $19 for adults and $17 for children and seniors. The link to the online reservations system can be found at