Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Holiday Light Parade prepares to dazzle Windham streets on Sunday

The annual Holiday Light Parade will be held on Sunday,
Nov. 28 in Windham starting at 4:30 p.m. The parade begins
at the Raymond Shopping Center and rolls down Route 302,
eventually ending at the East Windham Fire Station. Bring the
kids outside to wave to Santa and Mrs. Claus and see the 
dazzling array of lights. COURTESY PHOTO
By Ed Pierce

The magic is about to happen all over again. For the second consecutive year, the colorful nighttime celebration welcoming the Christmas season known as the Holiday Light Parade will roll through the streets of Windham.

The parade starts at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28 and is hosted by Windham Fire and Rescue, Windham Police Department, Windham Parks and Recreation Department and the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and organizers say it was so well received the first time around, it’s back to bring more smile sand more joy to those of all ages locally. 

“We received so much positive feedback from everyone last year over the Holiday Light Parade,” said Linda Brooks, Windham Parks and Recreation director. “They expressed a great deal of appreciation for helping them celebrate the holidays in such a fashion.”

The parade replaced the traditional tree lighting event which was formerly held at the Public Safety Building on Gray Road since its inception in 2016.

Brooks said that as the town faced a range of COVID-19 restrictions in 2020, the decision was made to try something new like the Holiday Light Parade, which proved to be popular with residents.  She said that the tree lighting ceremony had grown so much since it was first launched that it was reaching maximum capacity for an event of its kind and that this year, construction work underway at the Public Safety Building prevented it from being held there once more.

Planning for this year’s Holiday Light Parade began not long after last year’s event, Brooks said.

“It seems like we started receiving suggestions the day after last year’s parade,” Brooks said. “We did sit down to meet with the Fire Chief and a captain from the Windham Police Department about this year’s parade in October as we started the actual planning process for this year’s parade.”

The parade will feature brightly decorated fire department trucks and vehicles, along with Windham Police cars, a Windham Parks and Recreation vehicle and possibly a Windham Public Works vehicle, Brooks said.

“And depending upon the weather, Santa and Mrs. Claus, could be riding in the parade in a convertible driven by former State Representative Gary Plummer,” Brooks said. “The fire truck and emergency vehicles will have their sirens blaring and it will be hard to miss what’s going on.”

Each participating Windham vehicle in the Holiday Light Parade will be lit up with hundreds of brilliant electric Christmas bulbs and will include a wide variety of Christmas décor.  

The parade route has been refined from that of a year ago and a new map for the public that shows the specific route that the parade will take in 2021 has been posted on the Parks and Recreation website at

In addition, a special viewing location will be set up near Portland Pie on Route 302 manned by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. At that location, chamber volunteers will hand out free hot chocolate to parade viewers and participants meet Mrs. Windham from the Mrs., America Pageant.

“We hope that you and your family can plan to enjoy the lighted vehicles and wave hello to our favorite North Pole residents,” Brooks said. “People have told us how much they enjoyed last year’s parade and this year’s parade we hope will be even better.”

Brooks said those driving in the parade last year said they appreciated seeing all the happy faces lining the parade route and welcoming the parade vehicles to their neighborhoods. 

For more information about the 2021 Windham Holiday Light Parade, visit or call 207-892-1905. < 

Windham Chamber Singers return to live concerts with ‘An American Family Holiday’

The Windham Chamber Singers will perform 'An American
Family Holiday' with shows at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at
Windham HigH School. Tickets are available online at SUBMITTED PHOTO
By Elizabeth Richards

The Windham Chamber Singers are approaching An American Family Holiday (AmFam), their first live concert in two years, with both excitement and a bit of anxiety.

Director of Choral Activities Dr. Richard Nickerson said that preparing for a live concert feels somewhat surreal. “I haven’t really allowed myself to get excited,” he said.  “I’m expecting disappointment, because that’s really what we’ve had in the last two years.”

As it gets closer, he said, the group is beginning to feel more excited and confident that it will, indeed, happen.  “At the same time, we also realize that we’re one outbreak away from having to shut down,” he said.

Members of the Chamber Singers echoed Nickerson’s sentiments when speaking about the upcoming concert.

Vice President Alice Morrison said this year feels very different than previous live concerts.  “We can’t really allow ourselves to get very excited about it because it could go away at any moment,” she said.

Senior Will Searway, stage manager, has experienced two live AmFam concerts as well as a tour.  But this year, he said, he isn’t really feeling anything.  “It doesn’t feel like AmFam is coming,” he said. “But  I know once it’s here, I’ll love it more than ever. It’s just hard to be festive when there’s so much disappointment all the time,” he added.  Still, he said, he’s being optimistic.  “I love this group, and I love what I do, so it’s going to be great regardless.”

Amy Cropper, assistant conductor, said that they thought that by senior year everything would be back to how it used to be.  Still, she said “Regardless of how many limitations we have to put on what our performances are, I know that we will make the best of it,” she said.

The biggest difference this year, Nickerson said, is that both performers and audience members will need to be masked.  Although the programming choices he made may not be as adventurous as in the past, he added, creating the same family event and warm feelings is what is most important for him.  

Another challenge is the potential for last minute quarantine policy requirements that will change the dynamic of the group. “Someone could get a call after dress rehearsal that says they can’t participate,” Nickerson said.

“In an ensemble like ours it’s pretty devastating when we’re missing even one member because each voice really contributes to the sound,” said Secretary Maddie Hancock.  “It’s a little bit nerve wracking to know that someone could be called out on quarantine, and we’ll be performing with a whole new dynamic different from one we’ve ever rehearsed.”

Despite the challenges, the group is excited to be together again and perform for a live audience.  President Lucy Hatch said she is very excited for AmFam, but it’s also a little overwhelming.

Many group members have never done a live AmFam concert, and those who have were very young, Hatch said.  “Jumping into this leadership role is kind of a lot sometimes, but I couldn’t be more excited to make memories with this group.  I love the people, I love what we’re doing, and the connections we’re making that we haven’t been able to make for so long.”

Hancock was a freshman in the 2019-2020 school year.  While participating virtually last year was fun, she said, it wasn’t the same.  “We’re all super close as a group,” she said, “so not only am I excited to experience this I’m excited to experience it with everyone.”

Morrison said, “I know AmFam brings a lot of people joy, not just us. It’s very exciting to be back together and give that joy to people who have been missing it like we have been missing it.”

Cropper said that performance is as much about the audience as the performers. “Not having an audience to receive it while we were away was really difficult,” she said, and sometimes didn’t even really feel like performing. 

Being back with the “cast” of AmFam is also exciting, Hatch said.  There are those who return every year to be a part of the concert, becoming an important part of the memories the group has made together.  “It’s really comforting to know that we’ll be back with them on stage,” Hatch said.

This year the special guest is Chelsea Williams, a former member of the Chamber Singers and 2008 WHS graduate.  Daniel Strange will be the accompanist, and Kim Block will serve as the host.

Making memories is why AmFam was created in the first place, Nickerson said.  This year, as always, the show will include some surprises, including “an epic opening that we’re really excited about,” Nickerson said.

“We are so excited to be back,” Nickerson said.  “I know I speak for [the students] when I say that if we had the choice between doing another virtual concert and doing a live concert with the restrictions we have, we’ll take the live concert any day.”

An American Family Holiday will be performed with shows at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4. The concert often sells out, so purchasing tickets in advance is advised.

Tickets can be purchased online at  <

Friday, November 19, 2021

Ceremony recalls contributions of local veterans

VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman is flanked
by student essay contest winners during the annual Veterans
Day observance held at the Windham Veterans Center on
Nov. 11. At left is Jacob Williams, who won the VFW's
Patriot's Pen contest, and Jacob's brother, Sam Williams, who
won the VFW's Voice of Democracy contest. Both essay
contest winners attend Windham Christian School.
By Ed Pierce

Every year, America pauses on Nov. 11 to pay respect to those who have worn the military uniform of the United States and right here in Windham, this year’s local Veterans Day observance was hosted at the Windham Veterans Center by VFW Post 10643.

Commander Willie Goodman of the Windham VFW led observance which included the presentation of student essay contest winners and a speech by Dennis Brown, a longtime area veterans advocate.

With State Senator Bill Diamond, State Representatives Patrick Corey and Mark Bryant, and former State Representative and State Senator Gary Plummer in attendance at the observance, Brown related stories of how he became involved with Easterseals and the Veterans Count organizations that assist veterans.

“It’s meant a great deal to work with veterans and to make a difference in their lives,” Brown said. I grew up during the Vietnam era and the treatment of veterans returning from Vietnam bothered me.”

When an opportunity arose for Brown to join Easterseals when he moved to Maine, he said he eagerly volunteered to help because their efforts are directed at improving the lives of veterans in the state. 

“A lot of veterans just need an advocate,” Brown said. “It’s pretty daunting if you don’t know the road about how to get there.

According to Brown, the military’s motto of “never leaving anyone behind” is more important and relevant than ever and that’s why he continues to champion veterans’ causes and fundraisers such as this past summer’s Veterans Count rappelling event in Portland.

“We don’t leave our veterans behind,” Brown said.

Goodman also introduced this year’s 2021 VFW Patriot’s Pen essay winner and 2021 VFW Voice of Democracy essay winner and had them read their essays to the audience.

Goodman said that the Patriot's Pen essay competition is open to all middle school students, including home schoolers, in grades 6 to 8. Students were invited to write a 300- to 400-word essay on this year's theme, "What is Patriotism to Me?

Patriot’s Pen winner Jacob Williams, a seventh grader attending Windham Christian School, won $200 for his essay and will now advance to the district level essay competition.

“Last year I won second place for the town and this year I thought I would try to do it again. Because our class got the VFW assignment late, I was the only one in my class to enter in the contest,” he said. “I chose my topic because my great-grandfather served in the Vietnam War, and I wanted to write a little about him. I plan to put my prize money into savings for in the future if I want to buy a car or save for college.”

Jacob’s brother, Sam Williams, attends Windham Christian School, and won this year’s local Voice of Democracy essay contest.

“For a while now, I have viewed our country with concern. Divisions and apathy have infiltrated America, and we have left the security of our foundation in the Lord and the Bible,” he said. “The thought struck me that I could use flag burning as a symbol for the apathy that, in my opinion, is very dangerous to our country. I have won prizes from the VFW for an essay I wrote three years ago. The topic differed immensely from this year's focus. That year I emphasized the good that is present in our country, which from the topic ‘Why I Honor the American Flag.’ But this year, with the topic ‘America, where do we go from here,’ I decided to be honest about the state of our nation, that we are struggling but not beyond hope.”

Like his brother, Sam Williams will advance to the district level of the Voice of Democracy competition with his essay for high school students.

The observance then moved outside where former American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 Commander and World War II veteran Carroll MacDonald joined post color guard members in placing a commemorative wreath in the veteran’s garden. An honor guard fired a 21-gun salute which was followed by the playing of “Taps” by Roger Timmons of the VFW.

Afterward VFW and American Legion members and their families joined observance participants at a special Veterans Day luncheon at the Windham Veterans Center. <

Friday, November 12, 2021

Christmas craft fairs making dazzling return to local churches

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, local churches
in Windham and Raymond will be hosting Christmas craft
fairs in November and early December for shoppers
searching for unique and meaningful gifts.
By Daniel Gray 

In the last leg of the year, there will always be things to look forward to; Maine winters, sitting by a cozy fire, and craft fair season. Besides the large craft fair held at the high school every year, there are tons of smaller ones scattered around town. Churches are by far the biggest places to find craft fairs.

A few churches that have scheduled holiday craft fairs during November and December are the Windham Friends Meeting Church, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, The First Congregational Church of Gray, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and the North Windham Union Church. Raymond Village Library isn't a church, but they are hosting a craft fair as well.

St. Ann’s Annual Christmas Fair will be from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 4. Christmas wreaths will be available along with 42 gift baskets. A Christmas tree also will be raffled off. For more information, send an email to  

The Windham Friends Meeting's craft fair will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13 at the Friends Meeting House at 374 Gray Road here in Windham, which is right beside the Windham Raymond School District office.

"We are supported by many people in the community who are not members of Windham Friends but are a great help to us throughout the year," said Julianne Moore, treasurer for the Friends Church for more than 20 years.

Their craft fair will have jewelry, ornaments, stockings, knitted goods, lit Christmas trees, baked goods, and more.

"My favorite thing about the fair is working together with our group and The Windham Historical Society," Moore said. "But my favorite thing about the Christmas season is the music and decorating our meetinghouse. We have some antique paper murals of the Nativity that are quite unique and very delicate, but we still manage to get them up every year."

The First Congregational Church of Gray's annual Holly Fair is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20 with face masks required. It's held at the Parish House in Gray, right behind the McDonalds.

Franny Hutchings, a committee member of the church and a churchgoer herself, is very excited for the upcoming Holly Fair.

"With COVID, we were unsure if we would have the Holly Fair this year," Hutchings said. "We're all happy to do it this year and to bring it back. My favorite thing about the Holly Fair is that it puts us in the spirit of Christmas, and we enjoy seeing so many friends coming to shop."

There will be raffle tickets for $50 gift cards when you purchase goods from participating vendors, as well as jewelry, cookies, Rada cutlery, crafts, White Elephant and children activity rooms.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help's Christmas Fair will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, located at the church on Roosevelt Trail in North Windham. There will be a visit from Santa from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a bake sale, knitted items, gift baskets, jewelry, books, and delicious breakfast and lunch served by the Snowflake Café.

At that event, The Knights of Columbus will also have a Yard Sale along with their Annual Christmas Tree sale. The sale for the Christmas trees begins at the church Nov. 27.

The North Windham Union Church will conduct a Christmas craft fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 hosted at the church located off Roosevelt Trail. There will be 12 tables of hand-made crafts from locals along with baked goods, gently used books, Christmas wreaths, and light lunches to-go. Santa may also make an appearance for the kids, but the church is unsure with his busy schedule.

The church is also holding a silent auction through Nov. 16 with items ranging from gift certificates to toys. Visit their Facebook page to find additional information and to view all the items they have up for auction.

Raymond Village Library's holiday craft fair will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13. There will be plenty of items, including knitted and crocheted items, pottery, resin, jewelry, soaps, and gift baskets.

There will also be special items such as photographic works from Jesse MacDonald Photography, honey and herbal products from Bee Blossom Botanicals, alpaca fiber products from Pismire Mountain Fiber Farm, and glass art from Infinitely Fearless Designs.

The Raymond Village Library is happy to support local artists for Raymond residents said Allison Griffin, the director at RVL. She said that she enjoys seeing all the local talent from the community.

"There are so many talented people in the Raymond area, and we are happy to be able to provide a small venue to help promote their work." Griffin said. " While the event raises funds for the library, the primary focus of the fair is to provide a venue where all local crafters and artists are welcome to participate." <

Friday, November 5, 2021

RSU 14’s Christopher Howell named Maine’s 2022 Superintendent of the Year

RSU 14's Christopher Howell was awarded
the 2022 Superintendent of the Year honor
on Wednesday, Oct. 27 by Jim Boothby,
the president of the Maine School
Superintendent Association.
By Lorraine Glowczak

Upon learning the news that Raymond and Windham School district’s Superintendent, Christopher Howell, was named Superintendent of the Year for 2022, local community members posted on social media praising him with accolades such as: “An honored bestowed to one of the best.”, “Truly deserved.”, “Congratulations to the BEST.”, “You certainly have earned this honor.”, “We have a super Super.,” and “RSU 14 is so fortunate.”

, Oct. 27Howell’s award was officially announced on Wednesday, Oct. 27 by Jim Boothby, President of the Maine School Superintendent Association. Upon hearing the news, Howell shared his deep appreciation and response.

“I feel humbled by this special recognition,” he said. “There are so many superintendents in the state who have worked just as hard as I have throughout the pandemic. They also have spent an extraordinary amount of time and commitment to get their school districts through the challenges of COVID. They deserve this award just as much as I do.”

Assistant Superintendent Christine Frost-Bertinet, who works closely with Howell, said that he is at the forefront of all district initiatives, has a deep understanding of school finance, policies, curriculum, strategic planning, facilities, general operations, negotiations, and supervision and evaluation guides – all the while getting the school district through a very trying time.

“Without question, Superintendent Howell leads our district with the highest level of integrity, educational vision, and organizational understanding,” Frost-Bertinet said. “He exudes kindness and a calm, centered approach daily, characteristics that have served to create a remarkably healthy climate and culture across all schools and programs. Superintendent Howell has also fostered positive relationships with town officials and outside organizations, as he sees his work as a school leader to be far-reaching and one that can support the growth of healthier communities where all can thrive.”

Frost-Bertinet also said that Howell, who has worked in education for the last 28 years with the past 25 of those years for the Windham and Raymond school district has been able to work collaboratively with colleagues and local officials to advance critically important work that will have positive and lasting impacts for thousands of learners. His leadership approach is highly inclusive, thought-provoking, and deeply reflective.

His reflective and inclusive approach to youth was recognized by a former mentor, Dave Halligan, a well-known soccer coach in the Falmouth School district. Halligan is the one who encouraged him to go into education as a career.

“I was influenced by Dave while I was in college and was the assistant soccer coach with him,” Howell said. “He told me that education was something I should go into because he thought I’d be good at it. He is the one who pushed me in this direction.”

Halligan is not surprised by Howell’s recognition.

“This award is well deserved,” Halligan said. “Chris is an outstanding individual who is a people person. He can relate to everyone – whether they are a student, a peer, or a parent. He is able to communicate with everyone with ease and really listen to them. These are the reasons why I encouraged him to go into education.”

In terms of Howell’s educational philosophy, he said he believes in developing strong relationships with kids to help them with their future successes.

“When you really get to know them, you can figure out their strengths and weaknesses. From there, you can figure out how you can help them decide what path they will follow after graduation. We need to prepare kids so they can make an authentic choice for their next step when leaving school. It doesn’t matter to me if it is college or a job after school. What matters most is that they are prepared and confident to go in the direction that works best for them. As a result, we as educators must be as creative as we possibly can to meet students’ needs and the multiple pathways that are available for an individual to take.”

Howell’s educational biography is impressive and includes being honored by the New England Secondary School Consortium as a Champion for public education in Maine. He has served the educational community through a variety of positions and support roles that include being a board member and President of the Maine Curriculum Leaders Association as well as an advisory board member for New England Secondary School Consortium and a member of multiple ad hoc committees for the Maine Department of Education.

Howell currently serves on the board for Jobs for Maine’s Graduates and is on the advisory board for the School of Education and Human Development Advisory Committee. He also serves as the President of the Greater Sebago Education Alliance and the Cumberland County School Superintendents Association.

Frost-Bertinet captures the community sentiments when she said that Howell understands the importance of fostering healthy relationships with learners, staff, parents, community members, and outside agencies.

“His outreach to the community has served to support a positive response as the district worked through many of the pandemic-related constraints,” she said. “His presence, whether it be in person or virtually, ignites a shared commitment to doing what is right by the children in our communities.” <

Voter turnout exceeds expectations statewide

Windham Town Clerk Linda S. Morrell, left, and Deputy Clerk
Judy Vance preside over the municipal election conducted
Tuesday at Windham High School. Morrell said about 36
percent of registered voters turned out to vote in the election
which exceed her expectations for a non-presidential
election year. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
By Ed Pierce

As the votes were counted late into the evening on Tuesday, candidates, their families, and supporters were anxious to learn the results of municipal and school board races on Election Day.

Windham Town Clerk Linda S. Morrell said that of Tuesday, there were 14,398 registered voters in Windham. Morrell said between those who voted absentee and those who went to the polls to cast ballots, a total of 5,184 people voted in this election, amounting to a turnout of 36 percent, more than what was expected in a non-presidential election year.

Municipal candidates in the election running unopposed included incumbent David J. Nadeau, the current chair of the Windham Town Council, who received 3,964 votes to secure a three-year term for an At-Large seat on the Windham Town Council, and Town Clerk Linda S. Morrell who received 4,054 votes in her unopposed bid for re-election for a two-year term.

Another Town Council incumbent, Edward M. Ohmott, was unopposed for a one-year term for an At-Large seat on the council. He picked up 3,678 votes to win election in his own right after having by appointed by councilors in May to fill the seat of former Town Councilor David Douglass.

No declared candidate filed paperwork for the Windham Town Council’s West District by the established deadline in September, but write-in candidate William Reiner received 169 write-in votes to win a three-year term on the Town Council representing the West District of Windham. Incumbent Timothy Nangle chose not to run for re-election but did receive 33 write-in votes for that position in Tuesday’s election.

Incumbent Jennie Butler, who taught math at the high school level for 31 years and part-time at the University of Southern Maine, was re-elected for a three-year term on the RSU 14 Board of Directors. Butler was first elected to the school board in 2019.

Newcomer Jessica M.H. Bridges, a resident of Windham for 11 years who has two children attending school in town, received 1,535 votes to win a three-year term on the school board.

Other declared candidates receiving votes in the RSU 14 Board of Directors race were Michael Pasquini (1,199 votes), and Barbara Bagshaw (1,065 votes). Two candidates who had withdrawn from the race earlier, including incumbent Chistina Small and newcomer Carrie Grant, remained on the ballot and received votes on Election Day, with Small picking up 896 votes and Grant tallying 596 votes.

Also on the ballot Tuesday were three statewide referendum questions.

Question 1 asked voters if they wanted to ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region and to require the Maine Legislature to approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land. Windham voters voting Yes were 3,051 and 2,087 voting No. In Raymond, 1,033 votes were recorded for Yes 674 voted No.

Overall statewide, Question 1 had 238,882 voters voting Yes to 164,387 votes of No.

Question 2 asked voters for approval to issue $100 million in general obligation bonds for transportation infrastructure projects, including $85 million for the construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and $15 million for facilities or equipment related to transit, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, ports and harbors, marine transportation, and active transportation projects. In Windham, 3,395 votes were cast for Yes, and 1,725 voting No. In Raymond, 1,150 voted Yes and 552 voted No.

Statewide voters approved Question 2 with 290,142 voting Yes, and 113,007 voting No.

Question 3 asked voters for approval to create a state constitutional amendment to declare that individuals have a "natural, inherent and unalienable right to food," including "the right to save and exchange seeds" and "the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being." In Windham, 2,952 votes were cast for Yes, while 2,133 voted No. In Raymond, 985 voted Yes and 714 voted No.

Voters across the state approved Question 3 with 243,458 voting Yes and 156,796 voting No. <