Friday, December 20, 2019

Maine Indoor Air Quality Council working to fix radon problems in Sebago Lake region this winter

Workers install a radon mitigation system which
involves trapping radon from the basement or
crawl space and piping it outside using
a fan system.
By Lorraine Glowczak

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the number two cause of this deadly disease in smokers nationwide. According to the State of Maine Radiation Control Program, high levels of radon gas occur naturally in Maine soil and water due to the normal decay of radium in the bedrock and can move up into a house from the ground. 

Radon is colorless, odorless, tasteless and gets trapped in buildings, causing one in three Maine homes likely to have a radon problem. That number rises to one in two homes in southwestern Maine—especially the area around Sebago Lake.

Scientists estimate that 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year are related to radon.  “Although the statistics are frightening, there is good news,” says Christine Crocker, executive director of the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council (MIAQC) located in Augusta.  “There are easy solutions available to homeowners that can rectify this major health concern.” is for this reason that the MIAQC has recently reached out to AmeriCorp Organizer, Elissa Kane at St. Joseph’s College who is directing and leading area organizations (Raymond Village Library, Raymond Village Community Church, Age Friendly Raymond) in a Window Dressers event to install window inserts to improve a home’s warmth, reduce CO2 emissions and lower heating costs. This Window Dressers event helps eligible families and individuals living in the greater Sebago Lakes region to include the towns of Raymond, Windham, Standish, Westbrook and more.

The mission of Window Dressers also includes bringing volunteers together to help in their endeavors assisting those in need. MIAQC has asked to share in those volunteer efforts.

“We can be a part of the solution to help people test their homes for radon,” began Crocker. “And if the tests come back with elevated levels of this dangerous gas, we will then install a radon mitigation system – for free- for those who have been identified as financially eligible homeowners receiving the window inserts, also for free.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that all homeowners test their homes for radon in air.  (Homes with private wells should also test their well water.)  The EPA further recommends fixing your home if the results of one long-term test or the average of two short-term tests show radon in air levels are at or above 4.0 picocuries per liter.

Although the costs of installing radon systems can vary depending upon many variables (type and size of home, type of foundation or basement), the average cost to install a radon air mitigation system is approximately $1,500 to $2,000. “We are expecting to test approximately 12 low-income homes in the Windham and Raymond areas this winter,” Crocker said. “Of those tested, it is likely that between four and eight homes will test at or above the EPA action level.  Radon systems can be costly for low income Mainers, and no other resources are available to protect families. That is why we are here.”

But in order to do so, funds need to be raised to help those in need. Fundraising is essential.  “Online registration is now open for the 2020 Indoor Insanity 5K event scheduled for Sunday, January 12, 2020 at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham,” stated Crocker, who is a paid staff member but who volunteers and donates her time to the success of this 5K event. “One hundred percent of the funds raised by the race will be used to install radon gas treatment systems in low income homes – including those right here in Windham, Raymond and Standish. This 5K is for everyone - elite runners who are looking to be timed in preparation for summer races, slow runners, walkers and those who just simply want to have fun exercising indoors during the winter while providing a service at the same time.”

cstlouis@spurwink.orgCrocker explained that free, long-sleeve cotton t-shirts will be available for those whose registrations are received by Saturday, December 21, 2019.

She also provided details of the 5K fundraiser. “Registration and warm-ups open at 7:00 a.m.., with the first heat starting at 8 a.m. The event ends by 11 a.m. and there will be an after-race party scheduled at Sebago Brewing with free food and 5K beers ($3.10 for a draft pour).”

But there is more. For those who are professional contractors wanting to learn more about how to combat radon in the home in new residential or renovation construction, the Council is hosting a four-part comprehensive training series on practical and cost-effective strategies for construction and renovation of healthy energy efficient homes. There will be certification available for the professionals who want to have an advantage and expertise above and beyond other competing contractors.

This four-part series will be held at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish beginning on Friday, January 24, 2020. For more details or to register for this class, visit

To learn more about the window insert event collaboration or to volunteer, contact Elissa Kane at or by phone at 207-893-7783.

For more information and to register for the Indoor Insanity 5K, visit the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council’s website at and click on events.  Also, find and “like” the Indoor Insanity 5K Facebook page for race updates, photos, and more! 

Windham Clothes Closet: A hidden gem offering resources to many communities

The Windham Clothes Closet is located at 377 Gray Road
(Route 202) in the same building as the Windham Food Pantry.
The building sits between the Police/Fire Station and the
Windham Community Garden.
By Lorraine Glowczak

This story began as an ordinary everyday text message early Monday, December 9 from area Windham community volunteer and RSU14 Board Member, Marge Govoni. “Call me when you have a chance. I think I have a great story idea for you to write about.”

I called her. “I wonder if you might want to highlight the Windham Clothes Closet,” she began. “It seems very few people are aware of its existence and I think more people need to know about it.”

I took note of her suggestion and believed it might make a great story for our end-of-year/Christmas Windham Eagle newspaper edition. But that is when the ordinary transformed into a magical Christmas experience 24 hours later.

It was Wednesday, December 11 when another Windham area community volunteer walked into the Windham Eagle newspaper office. “George Bartlett is here to talk with you,” Time4Printing and Windham Eagle Office Manager, Tricia Griffin said to me through the speaker on the office phone. “He has a story idea you might be interested in writing.” walk downstairs to the reception area and greeted Bartlett, who is a board member of the Sebago Lakes Rotary Club and owner of Busy Bee Laundry. “I have a great story for you,” he said. “You know the Windham Resource Center, right?” he asked.

Remembering the early conversation with Govoni, I asked, “Is it the Clothes Closet you have in mind?”

Bartlett appeared surprised, hesitated and then said, “Why, yes.” as in ‘how did you know’ but quickly continued. “You do realize many people in the area are unaware that we have a Clothes Closet in town where people can get clothes and other items for free?”

The Christmas magic of the story is that Govini and Bartlett, although known to one another, were not acting in collaboration to spread the word about the Windham Clothes Closet. It was all unplanned, with each not knowing that the other shared the same message.

Bartlett explained that he had just come from the Closet. “Every three to six months, I take clothes that are left at the laundromat and deliver them to the Windham Clothes Closet. And some of the clothes are really nice. But thing is, very few people know about this small-town gem.” Bartlett does his best to reach out to his customers, but often – there is no contact information and he eventually runs out of space to save clothing left behind.

With Christmas spirit in mind and intent on spreading the joy Govoni and Bartlett instigated, I visited the Windham Clothes Closet last Thursday and spoke to closet volunteer, Pat Vigue.

She has volunteered at the Closet for approximately 12 years and eagerly welcomed me to the downstairs store, located in the same building as the Windham Food Pantry, 377 Gray Road. It was filled to the brim, but very neatly organized with not only infant, children and adult clothing but also shoes, blankets, afghans, coats, curtains, books, sheets, decorative pillows and much more.

While giving me a tour, I asked Vigue why she thought many people were unaware of the Windham Clothes Closet. “There are potentially many reasons,” she began, “But a couple of major explanations might be that it is not very well advertised – but worse yet - people are embarrassed to come in. Also, the hours are not necessarily conducive for working parents.”  

Currently, the closet hours are every Monday and Tuesday (except holidays) from 10 a.m. to noon. Govoni, who is also on the Human Advisory Committee appointed by the Town Council stated that there was an attempt a couple of years ago to add hours, accommodating those who work on Monday and Tuesday. “For a while, we opened one Saturday a month and one evening during the week, but no one visited during those hours. However,” Govoni continued. “If there were requests to expand hours today – we would definitely consider and accommodate as much as possible.”

Rene Daniels, the town’s General Assistance Coordinator concurred. “We will do our best to accommodate the needs of those who require clothes, mittens, coats, shoes and other important necessities.”

Daniels also stated that both the Windham Food Pantry and the Clothes Closet are hidden gems and realized that concept even more during the construction of the new maintenance building when the trash/recycling containers were moved to the Windham Resource Center’s Parking lot.

“I was amazed when the receptacles were relocated to our parking lot. I don’t know how many people told us they didn’t know the Food Pantry and Clothes Closet existed. Having the trash bins moved to our location during the construction was probably the best advertisement we received.”

The Windham Clothes Closet, which is visited by 100 people per month, is available for everyone, not only those who live in Windham. “We also provide free clothing for the other surrounding towns,” Vigue said. “This includes Westbrook, Gray, Gorham, Raymond, Standish, and other towns that touch the boundary of Windham.”

Vigue also said that the clothes are free and there are no questions asked regarding financial status. “We do ask that people sign in just so we can get a count of who is using our services, but that is it.”

Although the clothes and other items are free for the taking, it is requested that an individual take on an as needed basis, remembering there are others who have needs as well.

For those who may be hesitant about visiting the Windham Clothes Closet, both Vigue and Govoni offer words of encouragement. “This is not necessarily a place for those who are in dire need,” Govoni said. “The clothes closet is useful for those in temporary and extenuating circumstances such as changing jobs. Using the closet should not negatively reflect on any one individual.”

As for the Christmas spirit, Govoni suggested that Vigue was most likely the best giving and loving individual on the planet – and thus a quiet and humble assistant to Santa. “Pat goes out of her way to help people,” she said. “Pat will take requests and accommodate those who are in need. In fact, Pat epitomizes the word ‘volunteer’. She has passion for what she does and without her dedication to at the Windham Clothes Closet, the town (and surrounding areas), possibly there would not be this resource available.”

Vigue’s response is humble. “We also have another dedicated volunteer. Her name is Suzanne and she should be honored, too.”

The Windham Clothes Closet is an example of the Christmas magic in full swing and is a gift giving service to everyone - the whole year long.

For more information or for special requests, call 207-892-7192.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Area elected officials work to increase safety at dangerous intersections in Windham

Windham Delegation are teaming up with others to make
Windham intersections safe
By Lorraine Glowczak

In late November, Windham’s Legislators met with Chief Kevin Schofield and Captain Andrew Williams of the Windham Police Department along with Town Council Chair Jarrod Maxfield and members of MaineDOT (Department of Transportation) and the owners of All In One Insulation, for an on-site visit at the dangerous intersection of Route 302 and Albion Road.

Rep. Mark Bryant explained that the on-site visit was requested by the Windham Legislative Delegation.  “We reviewed crash data and discussed short- and long-term solutions to improve safety at this dangerous intersection as well as other roads in Windham,” Bryant state. 

Diane and I have lived in our home on the Albion Road for over 30 years and have come upon many accidents at the dangerous intersection of route 302 and Albion Road, as well as the dangerous intersection of Route 202 and Falmouth Road. There have been many improvements to both intersections over the years, but the population of Greater Windham has grown. The increase in traffic warrants immediate corrective action to promote the safety of our community on our roads. We are also working to speed up the implementation of the scheduled improvements to Route 202 and Falmouth Road.”

The crash rate at the Route 302/Albion Road intersection is higher than the statewide average, presently at .83 where the statewide average is .14 which alerts the need for change and safety. to Chief Schofield, there have been 25 crashes at that location in the past five years. “Twenty-four out of those 25 had some level of personal injury,” he said.

At the Monday meeting last month, MaineDOT continued to review the traffic and crash data to determine the best resolution to improve safety. Possible long-term solutions discussed included whether or not a traffic signal or a flashing beacon be best warranted at this location. 

Meghan Russo, Manager of Legislative and Constituent Services stated , “There were a few near future items the MaineDOT State Traffic Engineer, Steve Landry, believed could be beneficial. Those included extending one of the medians on Route 302 and painting both medians green as well as installing tubular markers on both Route 302 islands.  It also included moving the stop bar on one of the Albion Road approaches, extending the edge lines on Route 302 through the intersection to define it better, and painting ‘Stop Ahead’ on the Albion Road approach with the hill.”

“The Albion Road and 302 intersection has been a concern for many of my constituents for some time,” stated Rep. Patrick Corey. “Recent trends in residential development have and will continue to increase the number of folks using that intersection to access a major thoroughfare. Windham’s people will be safer with these necessary improvements initiated by Windham’s Legislative Delegation and our ongoing work with the town and MDOT.” Rep. Bryant mentioned, there has also been a focus on the intersection of Route 202 and Falmouth Road. Senator Bill Diamond stated that there has been updated discussions with MDOT to expedite an implementation date for the traffic lights that have been DOT approved at this intersection. “The most recent accident at that ‘high crash’ intersection only accentuates the need for it to be upgraded as soon as possible,” Diamond said. “Mark, Patrick and I have been raising the level of urgency with DOT and I talked with the Commissioner last Thursday and the staff is looking at the possibility of a new implementation timeline.”

Jarrod Maxfield, Chair of the Windham Town Council stated that road safety is of concern to the Council, as they receive many calls from Windham residents. Maxfield explained that from a town council perspective, Route 302 is a state road. “We can definitely make our concerns known to the state, but in the end, it is a state road and a state decision. But I have to give a lot of credit to Rep. Bryant and the Windham delegation for getting all the parties together in the same room to get the ball rolling and make this intersection safer.”

Diamond continued, “Having MDOT safety officials actually come to Windham to see firsthand the dangerous intersections like Route 302 and Albion Road and the Falmouth Road and Route 202 makes a big difference in securing safety improvements. The Windham Legislative Delegation works as a team and we will continue to engage state agencies whenever necessary to protect the safety of our citizens.”  

Cool kids on the block: Raymond shines brighter with new LED streetlamps

By Lorraine Glowczak

By the time The Windham Eagle newspaper hits mailboxes this Friday, the Town of Raymond will be the first municipality in the greater Windham/Gorham and Standish communities to be lit up by Light Emitting Diodes streetlamps – otherwise known as LEDs. A total of 110 pole mounted cobra head streetlamps will be converted to the new technology by the weekend. The 69 decorative lights along Route 302 are not a part of the present project but are under review for a future technology upgrade, cost permitting.

These highly energy efficient streetlamps not only produce double the energy proficiency than the
older standard compact florescent lamps but their lifespan lasts much longer - 100,000 hours to be exact – thus being more cost-effective and requiring less maintenance.

But that’s not all. LED streetlamps are known to reduce carbon emissions and do not contain toxic chemicals like mercury that is found in traditional sodium and mercury vapor lamps. This makes it a Win-Win situation: a win for the residents of Raymond to keep cost to a minimum and a win for the environment. addition to cost savings and energy efficiency, LED lights provide directional lighting which puts the actual light where it is needed for public safety and also reduces night sky light pollution. Another major factor is that the new lights are programmable. “We will be able to program a specific streetlamp for light intensity or perhaps to blink at the location of an accident.” Town Manager Don Willard stated in a previous interview. “I don’t know if we will want or choose to do all that, but the point is, we could if we want to with an LED lighting system for additional energy savings or public

Known as “smart controls technology”, there are many other ways in which LED lighting can work to the benefit of municipalities like Raymond. Some towns and cities use a number of techniques and capabilities such as increasing in brightness when a pedestrian walks by, getting traffic counts at intersections, and even taking pictures of street surfaces to alert municipalities where pavement and sidewalk improvements need to take place, thus creating a more effective pavement maintenance program and elevating personal safety.

Willard explained that Raymond has been working in conjunction with Windham, Standish and Gorham to provide more cost effective and energy saving street lighting by installing the LED lighting. “As a part of the cost saving efforts, we have been working with consultant REALTERM Energy, a company that works closely with municipalities to install reliable and affordable LED lighting upgrades, often providing the service to groups of towns working together.” In this case, the collective buying will be a result of the collaboration between the four Lakes Region towns. The cost of the project for the Town of Raymond is $78,936 with a payback period of 4.8 years. a phone interview Tuesday afternoon, Willard couldn’t contain his excitement regarding this latest, cost-effective and environmentally friendly upgrade. “The streetlamp outside of my office [at Raymond Town Hall] was converted today,” he began. “It will be coming on in a minute and I can’t wait to see what it looks like.”

Other towns in Maine that have converted to or are in the process of converting to LED lamp lighting include Presque Ise, Biddeford, Portland, South Portland, Wells, Dover-Foxcroft, Fort Kent, Houlton, Rockland, Falmouth and Caribou to name just a few. All these municipalities worked with REALTERM Energy.

In a previous interview, Kaela Gonzalez, Administrative Assistant to Willard,  joked “All the cool kids use LED and I think we should consider using it, too.” Well, it seems Raymond has moved forward and is now one of the cool kids on the block.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Highlighting the Town of Windham successes

Anglers Road expansion on Route 302
By Lorraine Glowczak

“We rarely celebrate the projects that have been completed and have successfully taken place by the Town [of Windham],” stated the Director of Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Thomas Bartell. “For example, we never had a ribbon cutting for the Anglers Road Project that has promoted recent profitable business and development expansions which have contributed to the town’s recent successes.”

The truth is, as a society, we often find fault in municipality efforts but rarely take a moment to focus on the accomplishments that contribute to a socially, financially, culturally and environmentally healthy community. It is for this reason we take the time to celebrate a few accomplishments that have occurred in recent years in Windham, often with the help of civic minded volunteers. there are many successes to highlight, such as the headway Windham has made in supporting the water/lake quality improvements of which The Windham Eagle and other local newspapers have reported, the focus of this article will be on the following: Brand Road improvement, LED streetlights and economic development as a result of the Angler Road project.

Brand Road Improvement:
Windham is a small, rural town that is growing and expanding. In order to keep up with the growth, roadways must keep up as well. Although there are many roadways that need to be considered, Brand Road has been a challenge for the Town of Windham for many years. Thirty years to be exact.
Brand Road is a town road located in North Windham between two major thoroughfares, Routes 115 and 202. As such, Brand Road is travelled by many motorists as a shortcut between the two routes. Having to withstand heavy travel, Brand Road became unsafe and, especially during the winter months, impassable.

Windham citizen, Mike O’Brien, purchased property on Brand Road in 1985 and has lived there since 1989 – when it was a small dirt road. He has been a long-time advocate to improve the road’s safety.“During the 1990s, as more homes were being built on the road, there was significantly more traffic  
and it was becoming problematic,” O’Brien explained. “Not only were there potholes but there were many dangerous incidents that included a town sand truck that slid off the side of the road and spilled sand and salt. Unfortunately, the salt killed trees along that lined the side of the road.” O’Brien also added that there were many incidents that involved school buses as well.

It was a that point that O’Brien looked to the Town Council to improve the roadway for safety reasons. “I was told in not so kind words to forget about it,” he said. That was his first attempt 30 years ago.

But O’Brien didn’t stop there. He collected signatures and submitted petitions – not once, not twice but three times -to no avail. It wasn’t until 2014 when he approached the then new Town Councilor, Jarrod Maxfield that O’Brien’s persistence paid off.

“Mike called me up soon after I was elected in my first election,” began Maxfield. “I invited experienced Town Councilor, Dave Nadeau, to join me in talking to Mike. We went to his house and sat in his garage with a neighbor on a Saturday morning and had a conversation. After listening to his story, we told him we would do what we could to improve Brand Road.”

Town Councilors David Nadeau (L) and Jarrod Maxfield (R)
stand on the improved and more safe Rand Road
with Windham resident and advocate Mike O'Brien
Fast forward to today; Brand Road has been widened and paved. “Kids are able to ride their bikes and
people can walk their dogs on the road safely now,” O’Brien stated. “I can never thank Jarrod and Dave enough. When they sat with me in my garage and listened to me – they promised they would not drop the ball. And they didn’t. They stayed with me the whole way to get this road improved for safe travel. Jarrod and Dave would calm me down when I felt upset and they kept me informed. Again, I can never thank them enough.”

LED streetlights:
The Town of Windham is working with the communities of Raymond, Gorham and Standish to cut costs that stem from energy and electricity consumption produced through essential streetlights by converting them to LED street technology.

The towns are working with a consulting firm, RealTerm Energy, a company that works closely with municipalities to install reliable and affordable LED lighting upgrades, often providing the service to groups of towns working together. In this case, the collective buying will be a result of the collaboration between the four Lakes Region towns. the exact cost savings is still being analyzed, it is determined that the upgrade to LED
stoplights will cut cost significantly. “Based on RealTerm’s analysis, the Town could see a potential 77% savings in its annual streetlight costs, and a five to six-year payback on the initial capital investment to purchase the LED lights,” stated Gretchen Anderson, Stormwater Compliance Officer.

Anderson also stated there are other benefits in addition to the cost savings. “Converting to LED streetlights has multiple benefits. The Town has the ability to reduce its energy consumption by 71% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70%, while improving visibility and public safety. Furthermore, the town can make the most of the streetlight conversion by utilizing Smart Control technology.”

According to, Smart Control technology allows a city to schedule lights on or off easily and set dimming levels of lights so a city can provide the right level of lighting intelligently. 

Smart street lighting control systems accurately detect light failure and other maintenance problems in real time so malfunctions can be fixed quickly. This intelligent system provides the operator with web access for automatic or manual monitoring and control over illumination performance. 

Additional smart automation systems such as temperature and pollution sensors, traffic signals, security, fire detection, visibility conditions and traffic sensors may be integrated and supported easily. Anderson stated, LED and Smart Control technology can further increase energy and maintenance
savings, decrease light pollution, and increase safety on Town streets.”

The completion of this street-light conversion is still being determined and the timeline is forthcoming.

Economic Development as a result of Anglers Road Project:

In approximately 2008, the Town had a vision to develop the land behind Bob’s Seafood at the intersections of Route 302 and Anglers Road with the purpose of business and economic growth. There was one challenge, however, in that plan. Angler’s Road is a private road, and as such, state and federal transportation funding would not be available to expand Angler’s Road to accommodate traffic.

“As a result, we (WEDC) had to purchase the land in order to give the town the right of way, making it a public roadway,” explained Windham Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC) Director, Thomas Bartell. “This purchase facilitated the construction and allowed for Federal and State DOT participation in the funding of the project.” Bartell explained in this week’s Real Estate column, the Windham Town Council provided the “patient capital” to finance the purchase of the land via a low-interest loan through the Tax-Increment Financing program. The “patient capital” was vitally important to the success of this project which ended up being ten years in the making.

Bartell explained in an interview that there was much that had to happen in 10 years in order for the
project to be completed successfully. “There was a lot involved such as the planning and design process and market evaluations – all that simply takes time.”

Although it did take some time, the property is now all sold, and the town is paid back what is due to it, including interest.

The original vision of 10 years ago is now a reality. As Bartell stated, the Angler’s Road intersection has been upgraded, Bob’s Seafood has been transformed into a full-scale restaurant, bar and seafood with a 2,000 square foot expansion – adding 25 new jobs, the addition of the community-based Momentum organization as well as the newly built 42 unit condos. Plus, there is more coming in the near future.

And speaking of the future, perhaps it will be good to stop from time to time and recognize the accomplishments that do take place within the town. Whether you are or have been a town manager, a town councilor, town staff or a town volunteer – we take this moment to say thank you for a job well done. Of course, there is always room for improvement….but for now….let us focus on the good that has been accomplished so that we, as a town, can move forward in a positive and solution-based manner.

Windham Christian Academy students juggle many “Maine Adventures”

WCA students have the privilege of being featured in a Reny's
By Lorraine Glowczak

If you have lived in Maine long enough, there is one commercial jingle that plays in the minds of everyone, young and old alike. In fact, if asked to sing a tune associated with Renys Department Store, without hesitation the sing-song response would be an immediate, “…..a Maine Adventure”.

But perhaps what some may not know is that the commercials are performed by Mainers who simply
send in a commercial clip to the Renys website and are chosen upon their level of enthusiasm and creativity. “Refined musical talent is good… but not as important as enthusiasm,” the Renys website states. “Keep it real. Get creative. We like creative. Have fun! The better it looks and sounds and the more creative, the more airplay is likely.” seventh and eighth grade students at Windham Christian Academy (WCA), who also happen to be talented jugglers, must have enthusiasm, authenticity and creativity as a part of their juggling
repertoire. Their Principal, Jackie Sands, recorded the young WCA students as they each managed tossing tennis balls, clubs, machetes and battle axes while singing the well-known Renys’ advertising jingle and sent it in for airplay consideration.

“I submitted the video clip onto their website and was waiting to hear back from them,” stated Sands. “But they just started running it in their commercials. One of our student’s parents saw it on TV and informed us that the students were on the air.”

So now, it should be duly noted that we have twelve famed personalities right here in the Windham and Raymond communities.

When asked if they’ve been spotted by others in their recent Renys commercial debut, eighth-grade student Grace Hawley admitted that their fame hasn’t been noticed quite yet. “Well, except for my grandmother. She thinks I’m famous,” Hawley joked.

Lillia Freeman juggling battle axes
But the Renys commercial is only the beginning of what the talented young jugglers can do.
The students provide a variety of performances throughout the state and beyond. In this past fall semester, the WCA jugglers have performed at the Barron Center and the Root Cellar in Portland, The Veteran’s Home in South Portland and the Riverview Psychiatric Hospital in Augusta, to name just a few organizations.

They will also be performing this spring at other Christian schools and church services throughout the state with end of the year performances in Burlington, VT as they participate in the Memorial Day Parade there. Their four-day Vermont excursion will also include an invitation to perform at a Methodist Church in Essex Junction.

The titles of their juggling performances include: “David and Goliath” (includes juggling on stilts), “The Prodigal Juggler” and “The Wise and Foolish Builder”.

“It is a form of ministry our seventh and eighth-grade students present to spread the gospel in a fun and engaging way,” explained WCA Middle School Teacher, Rick Hagerstrom, who has been juggling since the age of 14.

Hagerstrom has been juggling on a personal and performance level at various venues for 44 years. “It all began when I was a teenager watching an episode of ‘M*A*S*H’”, Hagerstrom explained.“Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) was juggling in one show and as I watched him, I wanted to do it - and
I knew I could do it.”

Hagerstrom has shared his love of juggling with the WCA middle school students for the past 11 years.

According to, there are many benefits to juggling. A few of those advantages include the following: sharpening focus and concentration, acting as a stress reliever, improving coordination, helping to ward off cravings and best of all – anyone can do it.

Student Anna Seavey explained the progression of learning how to juggle. “You begin juggling with tennis balls,” she explained. “Once you successfully get 100 throws in, you move onto clubs, then machetes, then battle axes – and then onto fire.”

“It’s like braiding your hair,” stated student Lillia Freeman. “Once you get the hang of it, your muscles remember how to do it. It’s like your muscles remember how to flow with it.”

Fellow juggler, Malakai Amero concurred with Freeman, adding, “Once you get the rhythm of juggling and pacing yourself, then you can juggle effortlessly.”

The students do admit that it takes time and persistence to learn. “The first time, I was really nervous and really didn’t think I could do it,” explained Zech Otte. “But it becomes easier with experience and I surprised myself that I could actually juggle.”

The WCA juggling students are always looking to perform in and around the Lakes Region community. They are willing to perform on a donation basis. “It is the way we raise funds for our four-day trip to Vermont in the spring,” stated Hagerstrom.

If you or your organization is interested in booking these talented (and now famous) student jugglers, contact Hagerstrom or Sands at 207-892-2244 or by emailing at

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

New trail opens in Raymond Community Forest

At the ribbon cutting. The trail, "Grape Expectations",
is named for the wild grapes the grow abundantly in the area
By Briana Bizier

A cold, wintery mix of rain and sleet didn’t stop a group of devoted outdoors-loving hikers and bikers from celebrating the opening of a new trail with a joyful ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday, November 24. The new trail is part of Loon Echo Land Trust’s Raymond Community Forest, a 356 acre permanently conserved area off Conesca Road in Raymond, and it is open to pedestrians and mountain bikes.

This may not be the best weather,” said Jon Evans, Loon Echo’s Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator. “But this is a great day for Loon Echo Land Trust.” of the trails on Loon Echo’s land have been inherited from the land’s previous uses, Evans told the crowd. Being able to design and build a trail from the ground up was a very exciting opportunity. This new trail adds a pleasant one-mile extension to the existing Spiller Homestead Loop, a flat and mild trail in the lower Raymond Community Forest that’s easily accessible for even the tamest hikers. 
The new trail expands on the previous loop and offers several bridges over marshy sections of the
community forest.

As the crowd applauded, Evans handed a wooden plaque to Dave Dowler, who spearheaded the trail building efforts. Dowler turned the plaque over and revealed the name of the new trail: Grape Expectations.

When Loon Echo Land Trust analyzed the potential trail site, Evans explained, they discovered an abundance of summer grape, a native grape species. Raymond is on the far northern edge of the wild grape’s habitat, so the trail builders took care to conserve the wild grape vines. In addition to providing a clever name for the trail, these native grapes are an important food source for wildlife. Expectations was designed to accommodate pedestrians and mountain bikes alike, with gentle curves and plenty of scenic appeal. Evans voiced his hopes that members of the community would make the trip to the Raymond Community Forest to visit the new trail.

Riding season is not over,” Evans said, as the crowd assembled for the ribbon cutting ceremony. “Fat tire bikes are welcome, mountain bikes are welcome, anything without a motor is welcome here.”

The new trail begins roughly a hundred yards from the parking lot on the Spiller Homestead Loop, and it ends on the Spiller Homestead Loop as well. As the audience of volunteers and Loon Echo Land Trust supporters clustered beneath Grape Expectation’s trail blaze - a yellow diamond with a black circle in the center - Evans spread a red ribbon over the new trailhead. Dowler cut the ribbon, and the crowd applauded.

Welcome to the coolest new pedestrian trail in the state of Maine,” Evans announced. the name of journalism, my five-year-old assistant and I inspected the entire trail. We discovered that Grape Expectations is an easy, enchanting hike that winds through the forest for slightly over a mile, crossing several bridges, climbing gentle hills, and circling a beautiful pool that was just closing over with ice. The ease of following this new trail, even in less than ideal conditions, belies the tremendous effort that must have gone into building the loop. There’s a section cut into a hillside that
is especially beautifully done, and that looks like it would be a heck of a lot of fun on a mountain bike. It would also make a wonderful, family friendly post-Thanksgiving stroll, or the perfect way to avoid the crowds on Black Friday.

If you’d like to check out the coolest new pedestrian trail in the state of Maine, head north from Route 85 on Raymond Hill Road. Turn north on Conesca Road. The trailhead for Raymond Community Forest is just past Hancock Road. Be sure to wear your blaze orange if you hike the trail in November, as hunting is allowed in Raymond Community Forest.

About Loon Echo Land Trust:

Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) was formed in 1987 to protect land in the northern Sebago Lake region to conserve its natural resources and character for future generations. LELT protects over 6,700 acres in Raymond, Bridgton, Naples, Casco, Sebago, Denmark and Harrison through land acquisition and conservation easements. LELT is a community supported non-profit organization.

New Interim Town Manger believes Windham has encouraging future ahead

Barry Tibbetts
By Lorraine Glowczak

It was officially announced on Thursday, November 21 by the Windham Town Council that Mr. Barry A. Tibbetts will be filling in as the Interim Town Manager beginning Dec. 19th.  The contract with Mr. Tibbetts will be on the agenda of the December 10th Council meeting for approval with the intention that his role as Interim Manager will end in March 2020.

As stated in the press release, Tibbetts has 25 years of municipal experience, previously leading   His broad experience in local government, administrative operations, budgeting, regulatory functions, and community relations will serve the Windham Council in moving forward with the leadership of the town. Tibbetts is not new to the Windham area as he and his family have enjoyed spending many summer vacations on Little Sebago and Sebago Lake for many years.
Kennebunk in multiple progressive capacities through mid-2017.

His wife of 35 years, Joanne (Irace) Tibbetts, was previously a first and second grade teacher at Field-Allen and John Andrew Schools (now known as Windham Middle School) so, as a result, serving the Windham Council and community “is a unique opportunity,” Tibbetts said in the press release. Tibbetts took time this past Saturday morning, November 23rd to meet at a coffee shop in Westbrook with The Windham Eagle newspaper. His down-to-earth and approachable demeanor
created a relaxed and positive interview where much was learned about his excitement to assist Windham to move in an encouraging and decisive way.

Tibbetts stated that he looks to the Council for direction and plans to listen and learn from the them as well as from town staff and community members about the goals, desires and  opportunities for Windham.

“I believe it is important to listen first, then work with the Council and staff (team) finding consensus, planning and the appropriate support mechanisms to move forward,” Tibbetts said. “From what I have heard and read, Windham has tremendous potential and the Council is looking to move the community forward.”
As the Town Manager of Kennebunk, he is known and appreciated for developing and reinventing the
downtown area. He, along with elected officials and the community, collaborated to increase the
town’s economic development, producing over 700 jobs during his tenure.

Windham also has a vision to increase business and job opportunities. From his own experience, Tibbetts sees potential growth happening in Windham, in its own way.

Tibbetts knows a thing or two about town and economic growth. For example, there is the well-publicized ice-skating rink that it now known at the Waterhouse Center in Kennebunk that turned the downtown village into a small-town gathering mecca.

“We knew the downtown area of Kennebunk was oversaturated with gas stations and wanted to provide something more to help improve the downtown area,” Tibbetts said. to the Kennebunk website, the story goes like this: “In 2010, the town [of Kennebunk] was redeveloping the downtown and had the opportunity to purchase one of four gas stations on Main
Street downtown Kennebunk. The Town voted to purchase the former Mobil Gas Station at 51 Main Street for $280,000. The Town was awarded a Brownfield Grant to clean the site and sought options for commercial development.

In the meantime, the Town filled the space with the Farmers’ Market, Artisans’ Night Market, festival events, winter ice skating, and community events, while seeking a developer for the property.

A citizen-initiated petition to keep the property for Town use, won by a 3 to 1 margin.

The Town was fortunate to have a local resident, Geraldine Waterhouse and her granddaughter, Paige Hill, offer to preserve the ice skating and other activities for the community with a $1.5 million dollar endowment. The community responded by raising over $630,000 to construct a 100’ x 120’ open sided, four season pavilion for youth and family events, festivals and activities. The pavilion also includes a 60’x90’ winter ice skating rink.

 At a meeting in the spring of 2014, the Board of Selectmen voted to name the pavilion “The Waterhouse Center."
Tibbetts explained that the endowment program provides annual operating support to the facility for a number of year-round activities. The combination of this central location and ongoing program
support will ensure that its mission ‘to support the betterment of children’ is fulfilled.
Tibbetts views the same potential in Windham, and he pointed out the many prospective development options.

“There is good residential growth which fosters business growth, diverse age population with a young family component, high traffic volumes of tourism as well as a very good school system in the Town of Windham,” Tibbetts explained. “I am very impressed with the many work/materials concerning Windham such as the 21st Century plan, the Comp Plan and much more. No vision succeeds without a blueprint in mind and Windham seems to have detailed plans to create a future that will affect everyone in a concise and encouraging way – for both individuals and businesses alike.”

Tibbetts stated that before he offers advice based upon his own experience, he wants to hear what the Town of Windham has to say about their version of success. “Having a proactive plan, good leadership, and a bit of luck all work towards a successful end.,” he began. “Every town and village center have some central synergies while at the same time each area is uniquely different and embracing those attributes is essential towards being successful. Town Council Chair, Jarrod Maxfield commented on behalf of the Council in the official press release that they are pleased to have Barry’s experience in continuing to move the community
forward in the coming months. “His broad experience in local government, administrative operations, budgeting, regulatory functions, and community relations will serve the Council in moving forward with the leadership of Windham,” is stated in the press release.
Maxfield added in a phone interview that the Council was impressed by Tibbetts past successes.

“What is impressive is his ability to work with the community and elected officials of Kennebunk to create a very active and progressive downtown that most New England families would admire,” stated Maxfield. “We look forward to his advice and guidance during his tenure as Interim Town Manager.”
Tibbetts stated that working in government is a unique opportunity to serve the public, provide essential quality services, and potentially enhance the quality of life for the residents. After retiring from his post in Kennebunk, travelling with his family and serving in other arenas, Tibbetts is looking  
forward to getting back into the municipality workforce.

“After 25 years of service in town government, I needed to shake up/change my outlook,” Tibbetts explained upon his retirement as Kennebunk Town Manger. “I have always enjoyed challenges and moving the “ball” forward.  So, I decided to venture into the energy startup world (that company is now in the process of being acquired), I also worked with several other businesses in the energy industry while consulting in the governmental field. Government work has many great characteristics/attributes as I mentioned and can be a-lot of fun. I am once again exploring that unique opportunity. “

Prior to accepting the interim position here in Windham and after his retirement as Kennebunk Town Manager, Tibbetts has traveled with his wife, worked with a small energy start up, and developed a consulting business in energy and governmental services. Tibbetts received his undergraduate degree from USM, credentialed certifications from the ICMA and MCTMA, then obtaining his MBA later in his career.

Don Gerrish, who has been Interim Town Manager for over a year, will continue assisting the Council in the search process for the permanent replacement during the first quarter of 2020.  Mr. Gerrish’s last day, handing over the role of Interim Town Manager to Tibbetts will be Wednesday December 18th.

Friday, November 22, 2019

The last lesson: Daughter shares wisdom from former Raymond Boston Cane Award recipient

Betty Stetson at the age of 24 with her son in 1942
By Lorraine Glowczak

It was officially announced at last Tuesday evening’s Raymond’s Select Board meeting that Teresa M. Ingraham of Raymond was awarded the Boston Cane Award. As we and the Town of Raymond schedule to meet up with Ms. Ingraham for a future interview, staff at The Windham Eagle thought it would be good to offer an honorary farewell to the previous Raymond award recipient, Elizabeth “Betty” Stetson, who passed away last month at the age of 101.

We met up with Stetson’s daughter, Becky Almstrom, also of Raymond who shared some of her mother’s life lesson that family and friends have incorporated into their own lives. Stetson, who moved to Maine from New Hampshire, made her home with Becky and her husband, Bob for the past 18 years.

“There were many things our mother and grandmother taught us,” began Becky. “One lesson was the importance of food, family, friendship and hospitality. She always believed that there should be enough food in the house for unexpected visitors. And, she never failed to spontaneously host a wonderful spread of food if guests stopped by. As a result, she taught me well and I always have plenty of food in my pantry for any guest I may find at my doorstep.” a memory book filled with old photos and letters, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren shared the gifts that their matriarch imparted. Letters indicating a life well-lived with family and friends that included: movies to the theater in a New Hampshire town square, Easter egg hunts, snowmobiling with the family, long afternoon walks, teaching rug hooking, singing in the choir, Sunday dinners and trips to Europe that included Stetson’s home country of the Czech Republic. But the fond memories always returned to food and drink such as the memories of the ‘horrible tasting slivovitz” [Eastern Europe Brandy] and the delightfully homemade kolaky [Czech sweet rolls].

Betty Stetson at the age of 100
in 2018 posing with her
Boston Cane Award
In an interview with us last March 2018 when she was awarded received the Boston Cane Award, Stetson provided a bit of advice, which of course, included food. “For longevity - make sure you eat your greens,” she smiled. “Oh! And fruit. Fruit is good for you too.”

But if anyone had the opportunity to spend even just an hour with Stetson, one quickly realized that eating healthy was not the only thing that has contributed to her long life. Happiness and laughter fill the air in her presence.

Part of her laughter, during that interview a little over a year ago, stemmed from the fact that she loved to play jokes on her family. Her favorite holiday, it turned out, was April Fool’s Day and so for the past 18 years, Becky and Bob learned to be prepared for whatever Stetson had up her sleeve.

But the greatest lessons came to Stetson’s family in the last days of her life. Diagnosed with bladder cancer this fall and given six months to live, Stetson asked her daughter that any and all family differences come to an end and to remain a cohesive and close unit.

“After I promised her that I would do my best, it was only a day later that she had a stroke and she was taken to hospice,” explained Becky. “It was her last few days in hospice care that I believe she provided her last bits of wisdom.”
While she lay unconscious with her family by her side, she would become alert enough to say her goodbyes. “At one point, she woke up and with eyes wide open – almost with a look of happiness. She took my hand and lifted it up and pointed to the ceiling,” began Becky. “I asked, ‘Mom? What do you need?’ It was at that moment my son-in-law pointed out that she might be telling us that she ‘sees a light’.”

Becky realized her mother may have offered her last lesson. “I think she was telling us that there is always hope that there is life after death. I saw it with my own eyes and heart.”

Stetson easily and readily slipped into that very possible next life on October 3, 2019. But she left this life – sprinkling it with joy, laughter, adventure and love for family and friends. And a lesson or two. Not only for her family, but for anyone who might listen and learn from a women who lived a long and eventful life.