Friday, December 30, 2022

2022 Year in Review (Part Two)



Project relocates blacksmith shop to RCHS museum

The Raymond Casco Historical Society has disassembled and will restore the Watkins Blacksmith Shop at the society’s museum in Casco.

During a special ceremony on Sept. 17, Windham Fire Chief
Brent Libby honored the efforts of Lowe's employees, 
community residents and public safety personnel in saving
the life of a man who collapsed in the Lowe's parking lot
in July suffering from cardiac arrest. Their quick actions
saved the man's life and he was on hand to thank his
rescuers for their kindness. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE      
Steeped in history, the blacksmith shop is quite possibly the oldest blacksmith shop still in existence in Maine, first opened in the 1850s by William Watkins and was in use right up until the 1940s. Footage of the blacksmith’s forge and shop was included in a 1922 silent movie called “Timothy’s Quest” and it once was part of a thriving rural community in Casco, but over the past eight decades, the building has slowly become a crumbling relic of Maine’s past. That is, until an idea about moving the building was pitched to Frank McDermott, president of the historical society.

“For the first time in nearly two hundred years, those traveling across Quaker Ridge in Casco will no longer start their journey with the familiar view of William Watkin’s Blacksmith Shop sitting on its knoll overlooking the village,” McDermott said.

According to McDermott, the project was launched last fall when Steve Linne, the owner of the blacksmith shop, offered to give it to the Raymond-Casco Historical Society if it could be moved by Aug. 1 of this year. McDermott, the former Raymond Schools superintendent, who has led the historical society for the past four years, immediately saw the potential of moving the blacksmith shop to the society’s museum on Watkins Farm in Casco, restoring it and using it for live demonstrations for the public.

“I haven't been as enthusiastic about a project in many years as I am about this,” said McDermott. “I see this as the reincarnation of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society, and the reason I say that’s because I see us moving from a static museum where you go and stand and look, to rather a place where you go to both do and learn something.”

He pitched the idea to the historical society’s board of directors, and they liked the idea of relocating and turning it into a working blacksmith shop. Over the next several months, new rough-cut hemlock flooring will be installed, the unique split stone foundation will be painstakingly reassembled on its own frost wall, and the ox lift will be hoisted back into place to await further restoration, McDermott said. Further, he said that once the building has been made weather tight, work will commence to recreate the interior of the shop.

Windham dedicates new Public Safety Building

During a special dedication ceremony on July 13, Windham town officials, construction crews and town residents heard about what went into the decision to renovate and expand the Windham Public Safety Building on Gray Road and celebrated its completion.

The construction work for the $4.3 million expansion and building renovation was performed by Great Falls Construction of Gorham and began with groundbreaking in July 2021. It added a 15,247-square foot renovation to the existing 17,000-square-foot Public Safety building which houses space for first responders for both the Windham Fire Department and the Windham Police Department.

During the project, workers finished a two-story 5,840-square-foot addition that houses five apparatus bays, a new public safety decontamination space, bunk rooms, kitchen, and offices for the Windham Fire Department, created a new 1,305-square-foot standalone three-bay space for vehicle and evidence storage for the Windham Police Department, and installed a second elevator for the building.

Remodeling work was also performed throughout the entire building as workers installed HVAC and lighting upgrades to increase building efficiency and updated other areas during the project, including a revised locker room space; created an additional 10 new public parking spaces and addition of a new 1,305-square-foot, single-story secured evidence locker for police; additional employee parking; an outdoor patio space; a new dumpster area; and installation of a new generator for the reconfigured facility.

Back in 2020, Windham residents approved up to $4.9 million in bonds during the Annual Town Meeting for capital improvement projects, and that included funding the expansion for the town’s Public Safety Building. The additional funding for the building’s renovation was derived from town impact fees for new town residential developments and new commercial buildings.

“The need for this was obvious,” said Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts during the dedication event. “This building needed to be worked on. We chose not to tear it down, but to remodel it and make it work for the future.” The existing structure was originally built in 1988 at a time when none of the town’s firefighters were full-time staff members and Windham only had about 15 or so police officers on duty. The town now employs 20 professional firefighters while the town’s police force has doubled in size to 30 officers. <

Town of Raymond puts donated school bus to good use

Last fall, RSU 14 donated a 2012 International school bus from its fleet to the Raymond Parks and Recreation Department and it’s a substantial gift that town residents should take pride in. Raymond Parks and Recreation Director Joe Crocker says the idea to acquire a bus for the town came about after exploring ways to get skiers to Shawnee Peak for a recreational trip.

“We looked into renting a bus, but the quotes we received were very high,” Crocker said. “That’s when we started looking into obtaining an old school bus to lower the costs.”

Crocker said Raymond’s Public Works Director Nathan White spoke with RSU 14 transportation officials and rather than send the aging bus to salvage, the school district chose to donate it to the town.

Once acquired, the vehicle was repainted in Gorham and then earlier this summer, Raymond Parks and Recreation graphics were applied by Time4Printing of Windham.

“It didn’t take very long at all for them to do that, in fact, we probably got it back in about a day,” Crocker said. “They did an amazing job.”

The bus has about 120,000 miles on it and the bus itself is probably worth between $10,000 and $20,000. Obtaining this vehicle gives the Raymond Parks and Recreation Department plenty of flexibility and the town now all exterior and mechanical maintenance on it, keeping expenses down.

The community will see almost immediate results from the bus including partnering with the Windham Raymond School Age Child Care Program to help out with after school transportation needs in Raymond and using the bus at Tassel Top Park.

“Just having this bus now opens up many different possibilities for the Parks and Recreation department,” he said. “We can plan ski trips, shopping trips and use the bus for so many events that we couldn’t offer previously.”

Crocker says Raymond residents are grateful to RSU 14 for the bus donation and it demonstrates how successfully that the school district and the town can work together on behalf of the entire community. <


Windham teen wins prestigious pageant

Rosie Haibon of Windham set off to accomplish competing in a pageant and winning it. She entered the ‘Young American Women of Service Teen’ pageant at the DoubleTree Hotel in South Portland and was thrilled to be declared as the winner. When Haibon was crowned Miss Maine Teen a little more than a year ago, she signed a contract that stipulated she would have to compete in the ‘Young American Women of Service Teen’ pageant and became the first Windham woman to win the title.

Over the span of the week-long competition, Haibon participated in the pageant rehearsals and fun parties. In total, there were about 100 women competing and all varying in age and origin and from different countries. Each participant had gone through a state pageant and had won for their division. There were girls from almost every state, and a few girls from Canada and South America.

“This was the final tier in our pageant system, I am officially at the top of our pyramid. Our prize package is huge and is so incredible,” says Haibon. “I will receive a scholarship for school, modeling opportunities, and various other surprises throughout the year! Our director really likes keeping our gifts a secret.”

Haibon says that anyone can do pageants, no matter your physical or mental state.

“Everyone can do well in pageants, and I think it should be something you do once in your life. It’s such a blast to do and it gives you a family of sisters like no other. I was crowned as someone who is a size 12 dress, and as someone with autism. If you had told me when I was little that I would be an international titleholder, I never would have believed you. But here I am today,” she says.

She believes that everyone should do pageants, not just for the crown or title, but for the experience that you get when you do this.

“This is so amazing and something that Maine and the United States should be very proud of! I was selected out of girls from different areas of the world. I’m so excited to have this honor and to be this representative,” Haibon said. “I’m so proud to be representing Maine like this and to bring this honor to our state. Thank you to everyone who has supported me during this incredible journey, I could not have done this without your love and support. Remember to love who you are, you’re beautiful and perfect just the way you are.” <

Windham’s Keddy Mill site to be cleaned up, demolished

An agreement has been reached to clean up and demolish the old Keddy Mill site in South Windham under an initiative to protect human health and the environment.

Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ITT LLC, the company responsible for the 6.93-acre site and structure off Depot Street in South Windham, say that the former industrial building on the site will be razed and contaminated materials there will be removed. Testing has determined that the two-story concrete industrial structure on the property contains elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, and other contaminants known to pose a risk to human health and the environment.

Located at 7 Depot St., the crumbling two-story concrete building at the site is thought to have been built in the early 20th century, although mill operations at that location date to the mid-1800s. Throughout the site’s history, several buildings have been constructed there and added to the mill complex.

Originally the mill was used as a grist and carding mill before being converted to a pulp mill, a box-board manufacturing facility and a steel mill. The site is in a mixed commercial/residential area in South Windham and is bounded by Depot Street to the north, a former Maine Central Railroad right-of-way to the east, and undeveloped property and the Presumpscot River to the south, and by Route 202/Main Street and an operational hydroelectric facility to the west.

Use of the site for various industrial activities began in 1875, with its primary industrial use being for metal fabrication starting in 1945. The Keddy Mill Company began a metal manufacturing operation there in the 1960s which continued into the 1970s. Through the process of transforming scrap metal into products, electrical capacitors and transformers containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were used there. The building sits on a concrete/soil foundation and contains a full basement. The EPA reports that no wells or known private drinking water sources are situated close to the location.

Under the Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent reached between the EPA and the responsible party, the cleanup work will be done in compliance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly known as the "Superfund," and ensures that the cleanup will protect human health and the environment. Cleanup work is expected to be phased, initially consisting of pre-design investigation activities, beginning this year. <

Windham fifth on®’s Hottest ZIP Codes list

Windham, one of the communities served by members of the The Greater Portland Board of REALTORS® has been ranked No. 5 out of 29,000 ZIP Codes analyzed in the eighth annual® Hottest ZIP Codes Report released in August.

In the top 10 ZIPs, homes sold in just over a week (eight days) and received nearly four times (3.7) more buyer views than a typical U.S. listing.

A key theme of this year’s ranking is demand from out-of-ZIP home shoppers, driven by factors including relative affordability and convenient travel to bigger economic and population centers.

“Windham has grown so much. I remember saying to my business partner about 10 years ago, 'just wait and see, Windham is the next hotspot.' I could tell by watching the other local markets spill over into this area. Windham has a very tight community between the residents and businesses who care about each other, said Lisa DiBiase, co-owner and broker of Landing Real Estate with Matt DiBiase.

She said that Windham has something to appeal to almost everyone. "Windham has so much to offer with lakes of all sizes for everyone including a downtown area with a ton of locally owned shops mixed with large shopping, restaurants, annual Summerfest, golfing nearby. What’s not to love!” Lisa DiBiase said.

With rising inflation and mortgage rates squeezing monthly housing budgets, this year’s determined buyers are breathing new life into competition for homes in these top 10 ZIPs, said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for®. <


Windham veteran to lead American Legion as National Commander

A Windham resident who understands that freedom requires a huge commitment and responsibility is now leading the American Legion veteran’s organization as its National Commander. Vincent “Jim” Troiola was elected to the position during the 103rd American Legion National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin earlier this month. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1971 as a Boatswain Mate aboard the USS Nitro, an Ammunition Auxiliary Ship, when it was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea as part of the Sixth Fleet, and then as a reservist until being honorably discharged in 1974.

“I joined the American Legion Post 1682 in New City, New York in 1993,” Troiola said. “At the time I was involved in activities at my daughter’s elementary school and one of my friends whose daughter also went to the same school asked me to join the Sons of the American Legion, a program of the American Legion. The SAL is for sons or grandsons of veterans that have served. I actively participated in their programs and was approached by the Post Commander and was asked if I was a veteran. He recruited me to join the American Legion.”

After a year of membership, Troiola became 2nd Vice Commander of the Post and then in 1997 was elected Post Commander, a position he held for two years. “I became very active in many committees and programs in higher levels of the American Legion including County Commander, District Commander, Department (State) Commander (2010-2011) and National Vice Commander (2016-2017),” he said. “I also chaired many committees and commissions at all levels. At the Department level, I served on the faculty of the New York American Legion college, Membership Chairman, and the centennial task force for the future. At the National level, I served as Chairman of the Veterans Employment and Education Commission and the National Legislative Commission. I wanted to be involved.”

He was elected National Commander for a one-year term Sept. 1 and that requires 330 days of travel during that time.

“I will visit all 55 departments to include 50 states, Department of Mexico, Department of France, Department of Puerto Rico, Department of the Philippines and the Department of District of Columbia. In December I will embark on a Far East Trip to Okinawa, Philippines, Guam and Hawaii to participate at the Pearl Harbor Day Ceremonies. In June 2023, I will travel to Normandy Beach for D-Day ceremonies, Paris, France, the birthplace of the American Legion, Bastogne, Belgium, and Ramstein Air Base in Germany to meet the troops.”

His daughter, Laura, and her husband, Michael, moved to Falmouth about 2012 before Troiola and his wife, Saveria, moved to Maine.

“They were in New Hampshire where Michael did his residency at Dartmouth. We decided in 2015 to move to Maine to be closer to our two grandchildren at the time, now three grandchildren. Laura works from home, and we felt we were able to help with the kids, one of which has special needs,” Troiola said. “We shopped for a new home for about two months and came across a new construction home in the Sebago Heights subdivision. We purchased the house and moved in January 2016. We love the neighborhood and living in the Lakes Region.” <

Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach earns 200th win

Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach Deb Lebel has been coaching at Windham since 2011 and on Sept. 3 in Windham’s opening game, Lebel earned her 200th career win with a 10-0 victory over Westbrook.

Her varsity coaching career began at Falmouth in 2005 and over the years she has accomplished a lot, including being honored with a plaque marking her milestone accomplishment on Thursday, Sept. 8 at Windham. She is a six-time state championship winner which includes Windham wins in 2013, 2014 and 2021. She won three state championships while at Falmouth and was honored as the Southern Maine Activities Association Maine Coach of the Year and New England Coach of the Year in 2021.

“These 200 wins I feel I’ve been blessed with a ton of talent,” said Lebel. “At Falmouth I felt like this gift had been dropped in my lap. I think that in the 2013 and 2014 years [at Windham], I wouldn't have been successful if they hadn't won states. They were just so talented. This is a tiny bit me, but so much of them.”

Lebel began coaching at the Fay School in Southborough, Massachusetts in 1999. She taught physical education and health and coached soccer, basketball and lacrosse. In 2005, Lebel came to Windham High School where she began teaching biology. She accepted her first varsity coaching position as the girls’ soccer coach at Falmouth High School where she coached for four years.

In 2009, she left Falmouth and began coaching girls’ lacrosse at Windham until 2013. In 2011, she started coaching varsity girls’ soccer in Windham.

Lowe's ceremony honors life-saving heroes

For those who believe that one person’s kindness can save a life, an event at the Lowe’s in Windham on Sept. 17 is confirmation of that fact. Back on Saturday, July 23, Thomas and Tammy O’Connell drove from their home in South Portland to the Lowe’s store in Windham to purchase a new grill. Thomas, 65, was loading the grill into the back of his truck in the Lowe’s parking lot when he collapsed, clutching his chest, and falling to the ground. To his wife’s horror, he was unresponsive and barely breathing as she cried out desperately for someone to help.

Fortunately for the O’Connells, Lowe’s employees Andrew Tanguay and Stephen Sargent were outside in the parking lot and saw what had happened. Tanguay tried to help Thomas up while Sargent ran into the Lowe’s store to obtain an AED defibrillator. Sargent had received training on use of the device three or four months earlier during a Lowe’s employee training session. Store employees called for emergency assistance and while waiting for help, Tanguay and Sargent worked to revive Thomas with the AED while a bystander started CPR on him. Seeing what was taking place and hearing Tammy O’Connell’s screams, a nurse from Windham who had just pulled into the Lowe’s parking lot, Danielle Dunnam, ran to assist and took over CPR compressions until Windham Police Officer Ernie MacVane and Sgt. Rob Hunt arrived at the scene and assisted with CPR.

Dunnam, who was at Lowe’s to buy trim for new flooring, performed CPR for three or four minutes on Thomas before MacVane and Hunt got there. Moments later, a crew from the Windham Fire Department including firefighter/paramedic Max Newton, firefighter/paramedic Mike Dube, firefighter/paramedic Tony Cataldi, firefighter/paramedic Paul Silva, firefighter/emergency medical technician Advanced Josh Merrill, firefighter/emergency medical technician Advanced Steve Bishop, and firefighter/emergency medical technician Grace Sawyer, all worked on Thomas to save his life and prepared him to be transported to Maine Medical Center for emergency treatment as he clung to life.

After 10 days in the hospital for what was described by doctors as a “cardiac episode,” Thomas was able to go home, thanks to the heroic efforts of everyone involved that day.

Windham Fire Chief Brent Libby said the quick actions of the Lowe’s employees and by Dunnam and the professionalism the first responders are responsible for Thomas still being alive today. “It shows that it takes a village,” Libby said. “For Mr. O’Connell, the Lowe’s staff and people in the parking lot recognized there was a problem and helped. It shows how everybody can work together in a time of need.” <


Parking facility aims to revitalize South Windham

The Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District’s new parking lot at 35 Main St. in South Windham is a collaborative effort between Cumberland County, the Soil and Water Conservation District and the Town of Windham.

The town approached the Soil and Water Conservation District several years ago with the idea that a multi-use parking lot could benefit all interests in South Windham. The old parking lot has been transformed this fall into parking for tenants of the Soil and Water Conservation District building, for hikers using nearby trails, for nearby businesses and for the town, which shares a driveway with the district for the South Windham Fire Station.

“Back when we first looked at this, we originally looked at entrance issues in that area,” Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said. “We thought we could work a partnership short-term, to fix the entrance problems and repave the driveway for parking but it turned out to be so much more.”

The town applied for a Community Development Block Grant through Cumberland County in 2020 for the parking lot and then went back a second time for additional funding. Eventually, Cumberland County contributed $205,295 to the project for surfaces and materials and the rest is history. As a result of the improved entrance and the redesigned parking lot, soon a new restaurant and brew house will be able to set up shop in the old South Windham Fire Station on Main Street. Hikers will be able to park safely and securely in the lot, and new tenants of the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District will be able to park there too.

Tibbetts said this new parking lot is an accomplishment that all residents of Windham can be proud of.

“It has substantial long term benefits and we’re pleased at how this all has turned out,” he said. “We owe a lot of thanks to the multitudes of people who worked on this project, and we certainly appreciate all of the efforts to help from county government.” <

Windham sends contract zone request to planning board

The owners of the Northeastern Motel at 322 Roosevelt Trail in Windham have asked the town for a contract zone so the property of the existing motel can be redeveloped into residential dwelling units.
The 3.8-acre site is located on Route 302 and the northwest corner of Nash Road in Windham and the owners, 322 Roosevelt Trail LLC, say to achieve their vision for the property zoning changes will need to be made. The property is currently zoned as “F” for farming zone district.

Owners are asking that zoning for the site be changed to allow Dwelling, Multifamily as a permitted use. Under current “F” zoning requirements multifamily dwellings are only allowed for the conversion of an existing dwelling or accessory building that was in existence prior to May 13, 1986, and no more than three dwelling units may be created per lot.

A zoning change would allow the property owners up to 23 dwelling units on the property, which differs from the only two dwellings currently allowed there. The nine-unit motel with an attached owner’s unit building existed prior to Windham’s adoption of zoning ordinances on July 8, 1976. On Nov. 5, 1987, the town’s Board of Appeals granted permission to expand the non-conforming use “Suburban Pines Motel” to double the size and a 13-unit adjacent building was constructed on the property in 1988. Windham’s Planning Board approved a subdivision of the property into five lots on April 23, 1990, and over the past 32 years has been further reduced to its current 3.8-acre configuration.

The zoning change request is the second time that a contract zone has been requested for this property. In 2016, the previous property owner requested a contract zone to permit Motels and Multifamily Dwellings and increase density there. On July 12, 2016, a vote by the Windham Town Council failed to send the application to the Planning Board for review and recommendation.

By a general consensus of approval, town councilors sent the contract zone request to the Windham Planning Board for review. <

‘Triple B’ celebration honors RTT’s important work

For the first time since 2019, people gathered together in person to celebrate Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center’s 14th Annual Triple B ~ Boots, Band & BBQ on Saturday, Oct. 22 in Windham.

The excitement was palpable as attendees were welcomed back into the arena, some for the first time since before the pandemic. The joy of friends dancing together once again was matched only by the outpouring of support for RTT’s programs – with the evening topping more than $200,000 to benefit the clients, horses, and programs of Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT).

This year’s event was a celebration of the community’s support of and devotion to RTT’s mission through the pandemic. It welcomed back many familiar faces.

Popular local band Under The Covers, auctioneer Elizabeth Holmstrom, and emcee Michelle Taylor of 99.9 The Wolf, all returned to donate their time and engage the attendees in enthusiastic bidding. Schilly’s Catering and Food Services offered delicious barbeque to the hungry crowd and St. Joseph’s baseball team put their base running skills to good use, collecting bid cards as hands shot into the air.

There was no greater example of the power of being present at RTT than those set by the two keynote speakers.

Debbie Hutchinson, a RTT client, shared her story and the role that RTT’s horses have played in her journey navigating Multiple Sclerosis – detailing not only the differences that riding has made to her physical health, but also how her relationship with RTT’s Paxton has improved her emotional health. Janis Childs, a RTT volunteer and board member, took the microphone next, moving herself and the crowd to tears as she discussed the power of working with riders like Hutchinson and how the impact that the horses have on clients is always more than is known. She highlighted this with stories she was told by people after RTT had to say goodbye to a beloved member of the herd, Luke, this past summer.

Childs ended her speech by galvanizing the crowd gathered for the auction, pointing out that money is like manure – “spread it around and good things grow.” <


VFW recognizes ‘Patriot’s Pen’ and ‘Voice of Democracy’ winners

VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman honored three Windham students as this year’s winners of the “Patriot’s Pen” essay competition and the “Voice of Democracy” audio essay contest sponsored by the VFW post. The annual competition encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society. It provides them with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money.

Goodman said that Hunter Edson, a Windham Christian Academy senior, submitted the winning audio-essay. He was presented with a certificate for his achievement and a check for $250 at an event at the Windham Veterans Center and qualifies to compete in the district-level “Voice of Democracy” competition.

Edson said he was shocked and amazed that his audio-essay was chosen as this year’s VFW Post 10643 winner.

“Having the opportunity to go to that amazing event at the Windham Veterans Center was truly breathtaking. I am very grateful for our veterans and the people at the VFW for giving students around the country this amazing opportunity,” he said. “It makes me feel like I’m a part of something greater, I mean ‘Voice of Democracy,’ that’s saying a lot in and of itself. But I for one am just very happy that I get to be a part of that voice. Winning this year has been a great experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

During the awards presentation on Veterans Day, Goodman also honored this year’s “Patriot’s Pen” winner, Evangeline Williams and second-place winner, Lance Lake. Williams is a sixth grader at Windham Christian Academy and received a certificate and a check for $200 for her winning essay. Lake also is a sixth-grade student at Windham Christian Academy and received a certificate and a check for $150 for his second-place essay. <

Voters elect newcomers to legislative seats

In the Nov. 8 general election, two three-year positions on the RSU 14 Board of Directors representing Windham will be filled by former board member Christina Small, and newcomer Caitlynn Downs. Small had 4,301 votes, while Downs had 3,245 votes. Incumbent Marge Govoni finished third in the race with 3,055 votes.

For the State Senate District 26 seat representing Windham, Raymond, Casco, Frye Island and part of Westbrook, former Windham Town Councilor Tim Nangle, a Democrat, defeated former State Senator and State Representative Gary Plummer, a Republican. Nangle tallied 9,695 votes to Plummer's 9,358 votes.

In the newly renamed Maine House District 106, Barbara Bagshaw, a Republican, edged newcomer Dana Reed, with 2,372 votes to Reed's 2,348 votes after a state-mandated recount. In the newly renamed Maine House District 107, former State Representative Jane Pringle will be returning to Augusta as she defeated newcomer Michael Hall, a Republican. Pringle had 2,343 votes to Hall's 2,209 votes.

Incumbent Jessica Fay, a Democrat, won re-election in a newly redrawn and renumbered House District 86 representing Raymond, Casco, and Poland. Fay has 2,397 votes to Republican Greg Foster's 2,313 votes.

Newcomer John Henry won an At-Large position on Windham's Town Council for a three-year term. <

Windham to convert to automated trash removal

After months of negotiation and discussion with Casella Waste Systems, also known as Pine Tree Waste, the basic framework for an agreement to convert Windham to automated trash removal has been reached.

Although some contractual details have yet to be worked out, members of the Windham Town Council voted unanimously at a meeting to move ahead with the proposal. It means that by next fall, Windham residents will no longer use the Pay As You Throw (PAYT) system, eliminating the purchase of blue bags, and switching to a cart system with trash picked-up curbside by a driver using an automated retrieval system. Under the current system, trash and recyclables are manually collected at the roadside which requires a driver and a laborer and services about 5,400 stops in the town.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told councilors that the proposed contract allows flexibility for the town to either purchase trash carts from Casella or to join in an initiative with other nearby towns to purchase receptacles separately and save money by purchasing them in bulk. Tibbetts said Windham’s 2022-2023 budget included $600,000 funding for a trash cart purchase for residents.

Homes in Windham would be issued two carts, one for trash and the other for recycling. The new contract calls for residential pick-up service scheduled once a week Monday through Thursday using designated routes and should a pick-up fall on a legal holiday or on a storm day, the schedule would be pushed back one day.

Casella Market Manager Chris McHale said all routes in Windham will be evaluated before the new system is implemented. McHale said Casella may purchase and deploy a smaller trash truck to service roads not accessible by the new automated trash vehicle. He stressed that the company intends to work with residents to provide the best service possible, but because of rising operational costs and advances in technology, the trash removal industry is converting to automated systems and can no longer continue to provide a similar system as currently used in Windham.

The initial contract will be for five years from July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2028. <


Windham to wait to apply for some bond funding

Windham voters approved a $6.9 million bond for various projects during the Annual Town Meeting in June, but upon the recommendation of the town’s bonding agent, the town will wait before seeking some of that funding. During a discussion at a December Windham Town Council meeting, Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts briefed town councilors about the bond application status of eight different projects.

Tibbetts said from a financial standpoint, it would save money by waiting to apply for bonding for some of the projects by avoiding paying bond interest and associated fees in the coming year. According to Tibbetts, the bonding agent thinks bond interest rates could fall in the months ahead and not paying additional interest and processing fees to bond issuers in 2023 on projects not scheduled to start until 2024 would result in significant savings for the town.

“Financially that’s a really smart move for us to get to where we want to be,” Tibbetts said.

He said that if councilors agree, the town will proceed as originally planned to obtain bond funding for four projects in January for work to begin in 2023 that includes improvements to the Collonwood Drive and Running Brook Drive intersection; adding Merrill Preserve to the East Windham Conservation land; adding open space land abutting the conservation project property at the old Phinney Lumber property; and obtaining trash and recycling carts for town residents.

The total bonding of these four projects for 2023 is $2.95 million, Tibbetts said.

Bonding for four other projects authorized by town voters in June will wait to be applied for until a more favorable time, Tibbetts said.

Those projects include a $775,000 bond for River Road/Route 302 intersection/sidewalk in 2024 or 2025; a $275,000 bond for creation of a sidewalk from Blue Seal Feed on Gray Road to Depot Street in South Windham in 2024 or 2025; a $200,000 bond to create a sidewalk from Boody’s Corner to the Shaw’s supermarket along Router 302; and a $2.5 million bond for land acquisition in North Windham for the purpose of creating new connector roads in 2025 to alleviate traffic congestion on Route 302. <

Months of work result in dazzling AmFam holiday concert

Nothing sparks the holiday spirit for the greater Windham community than the annual and highly anticipated performance of An American Family Holiday (AmFam) concert by the Windham Chamber Singers and they performed two shows in a jam-packed auditorium at Windham High School on Saturday, Dec. 3.

Although this year was the WCS 21st AmFam performance, the group has been performing a holiday-themed show for over 35 years. As those early concerts have progressed to now include prominent musicians such as Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame) and Tony Award-Winning Broadway performer such as Sutton Foster and Norm Lewis, a Tony Award nominee, preparation is imperative to meet annual success and high expectations of concert goers.

WCS Director and WHS and WMS Music/Chorus Teacher Dr. Richard Nickerson said the well-attended AmFam performance is the WCS's one big fundraiser.

“Money made from their work at AmFam covers the expenses for their annual tour around New England in the spring,” Nickerson said. “So, the funds raised pay for the bus, the meals, hotels, and other expenses.”

WCS are grateful for the support from the Windham and Raymond areas and beyond.

“Thank you for helping to make An American Family Holiday such a wonderful event,” they recently posted on their social media webpage. “We wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.”

This spring, the WCS will perform at schools, churches and at other public events throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. <

District 2 Music Festival honors Windham violinist

The violin is one of most difficult musical instruments to learn and master and for the past 12 years, Emily Greene has strived to overcome its unique challenges and perform to the best of her ability. That hard work has paid dividends as Greene has been honored by Maine District 2 Music Festival as 1st violinist and concertmaster for an upcoming concert.

The daughter of Michael Greene and Debbie Bernier, Greene, 17, is a senior at Windham High School and auditioned in October at Lincoln Middle School in Portland to be chosen to play in the music festival. The audition required her to prepare a piece to perform and two scales as she has done in previous years, but this time, Green achieved the results she was seeking, earning the highest score among the young musicians who auditioned.

“I was very excited but a little bit shocked as well,” Greene said. “I’ve auditioned for districts before and never been given the honor of serving as concertmaster.”

The concertmaster is the principal first violin player in an orchestra and after the conductor, is the second-most significant leader among the orchestra musicians.

Greene says that she first became interested in playing the violin at the age of 4 when her mother brought her to a concert that featured one.

“I heard it, and I told her that I wanted to play the violin,” she said.

At Windham High School, she takes music classes taught by Dr. Richard Nickerson and Katherine Herrle and is hoping to study music in college when she graduates this coming June. <

2022 Year in Review (Part One)


In looking back at the year that was 2022, historians will say it broke new ground for residents of Windham and Raymond and will be remembered as a time of charting new goals for progress for the years ahead and a strong rebound for the Lakes Region emerging from two years of life during a global pandemic.

In the fall, voters in Windham elected an entire new legislative delegation with three new faces representing the town in the Maine Senate and Maine House of Representatives. During a special town referendum in the spring, residents of Windham also approved a proposal to create a sewer and wastewater treatment facility for North Windham.

Volunteer teams took pledges and raised more than $9,000
on Feb. 19 diving into the icy waters of Sebago Lake during
the Polar Dip sponsored by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber
of Commerce to benefit local food pantries in Casco, Gray,
Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and
During a meeting in January, members of the Windham Town Council adopted a report advocating moving forward in the future with potential solutions to alleviating gridlock and improving safety and mobility in North Windham through the creation of access roads to Route 302 in the future.

The RSU 14 Building Committee also continued the screening process to find a suitable site to build the new Windham Middle School by the start of the 2026-2027 school year. Elections in the fall yielded new faces to represent the Lakes Region in the 131st Maine Legislature.

Local businesses showed consistent strength despite inflation concerns as tourists and campers to the area increased as summer travel slowly rebounded following pandemic years.

Before the chapter is closed for 2022, here’s a quick look back at another unforgettable year filled with historical decisions and milestones reached that will resonate in the community for decades to come.

Following a thorough review of all issues of The Windham Eagle from 2022, we’ve chosen to highlight the top three stories for each month as featured in the newspaper and we wish everyone a healthy and prosperous year ahead in 2023.


State group honors Windham teacher for agriculture lessons

Stacey Sanborn, a fourth-grade teacher at Manchester School in Windham, was awarded the Maine Agriculture In The Classroom Teacher of the Year (MAITC) Award for 2022.

The MAITC organization singled out Sanborn as a teacher who incorporates agricultural education in the classroom while at the same time, aligning that subject with core curriculum standards in science, math, social studies, and art. But perhaps just as importantly, Sanborn also introduces the importance of food insecurity and how it affects others’ lives.

This is not the first award Sanborn has received in terms of agriculture and how it can help others who are less fortunate.

“It was while I was in high school and a direct result of my work with a project, the 4-H Hunger Garden that I started, is where my interest in food insecurity began,” Sanborn said.

Her project was recognized for its contribution to the community, and she won her first award, the “America’s Future Award” presented by WCSH Channel 6. She said that this experience made a big impact upon her and became a driving force in her adult life and as a teacher.

“I continue to believe that everyone should have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. This belief has stayed with me during my years teaching at Manchester School and co-coordinating the school gardens,” she said.

In addition to the 12 raised beds for vegetable gardens and a hoop house with three raised beds, the Manchester School campus is also host to six apple trees, three pear trees, and two varieties of grapevines.

“Teaching students about agriculture helps them to develop the understanding of where our food comes from,” she said. “Students can see the importance of protecting a long Maine tradition of farming. It gets them out of the classroom and into the outdoors where the students are motivated learners with plenty of opportunity for fun and hands-on experiences.” <

Windham mother aims to win Mrs. Maine Pageant

Christina Erde hopes that her message of resilience will help win the 2022 Mrs. Maine America Pageant in April in South Portland.

Married and the mother of two children, Erde, 37, became interested in competing for the Mrs. Maine title following a discussion with a former state pageant winner.

“I met former Mrs. Maine 2017, Cynthia Peters, and she encouraged me to enter the pageant,” Erde said. “I have never competed in a pageant before but when she shared her experience and how much she enjoyed it and gained from it, I thought ‘You know what? I’m just gonna go for it!’ Two weeks after meeting her, I sent in an application and was awarded the title of Mrs. Windham to compete in the 2022 Mrs. Maine America Pageant.”

Erde said she saw this as a great opportunity for personal growth as well as a unique platform to promote mental health awareness, a cause that is very near and dear to her heart.

“Four years ago, I was hospitalized after suffering a severe mental breakdown. It took me a long time to feel comfortable talking openly with others about my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I felt that if people knew I had a mental illness it would affect their view of who I am as a person. No one should ever have to feel this way. Just because you have a mental illness doesn’t mean you are less than. If anything, it means you are strong. You are capable. You can live a fulfilling and meaningful life.”

She said that experience has made her resilient and determined to assist others in similar situations. <

Couple creates connections through memories of a special boat

When Roger LeBlanc of Windham inherited a small rundown ski boat in 2009, he was uncertain what to do with it. “I kept it for a while, but eventually, I wasn’t sure if I should just scrap it or refurbish it,” LeBlanc recalls. “But my family reminded me that I would never be able to let it go.”

LeBlanc’s 1972 California Sidewinder wasn’t just any old boat. It came with heartfelt memories of youth and summers well spent on Cape Cod with what became a large, adopted family. The boat and all the experiences that came with those many summers guided LeBlanc’s life, even leading him to the shores of Little Sebago Lake in Windham.

It all began when LeBlanc was 6 years old and met Mrs. Jean McManus while attending Littleton Elementary School in Littleton, Massachusetts. “My second-grade gym teacher, Mrs. McManus, and her husband Warren didn’t have children. However, they wanted to help out families in need, so they ‘fostered’ those students on Saturdays during the summer by taking us to the beach.” LeBlanc, who came from a family of 11 children, said “looking back, I can see now that we were really poor, but my parents did such a good job at raising us and giving us a good life, we had no clue that we were considered a ‘family in need’.”

Eventually, the gym teacher and her husband, a Commissioner of Rehabilitation in Massachusetts at the time, purchased a small cottage along the waters of Cape Cod and the Saturday excursions to the beach became life on Cape Cod all summer long. Eventually, the LeBlanc’s summer experiences at the McManus’ cottage ended when he graduated and went to college and joined the military. However, this did not prevent him from visiting the couple when he came home during winter breaks.

LeBlanc eventually met his wife, Mary Parisi, and his own family grew to include three sons; Joe, Matt, and Roger Jr. and one daughter, Danielle, who now lives in Cumberland. Although his military career led him to Hawaii, he and the McManus couple never lost touch – each visiting one another every year - either in Hawaii or Cape Cod, where his own children got to ski and ride in the old ’72 California Sidewinder.

The McManuses and LeBlanc continued to remain close until Jean’s death at the age of 70 in July 2009 (her husband passed away six years earlier at the age of 65 in 2003). Yearning to be near water again, he and his wife envisioned a retirement home like the McManus cottage and loved the area of Maine where their daughter lived.

“We finally found this perfect home on Little Sebago Lake,” Leblanc said. “It reminds me so much of my childhood experiences.”


WHS graduate fulfills her soul on Broadway

Chelsea Williams lives her dream as an actor, currently performing on a Broadway national tour in the ensemble of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and being an understudy of the Mary Magdalene role. The 2008 Windham High School graduate got her first big break performing in the role of Sophie on the Broadway national tour of “Mamma Mia” in 2013.

At age 12, Williams began taking voice lessons and performing in choirs. She was also a member of the WHS’ Windham Chamber Singers.

Upon graduation from WHS, Williams earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater from Emerson College in Boston in 2012. She remained in Boston, selling pastries at an upscale bakery during the early morning hours and bartending in the evening while performing at local Summer Stock Theaters and other professional theater groups. Although she dreamed of moving to New York City to make her big break, it took confidence and bravery on her part to finally make a move to the Big Apple.

“I was pretty intimidated by the thought of moving to New York,” Williams said. “Between the competition on Broadway and the cost that comes with living there, it seemed like a huge challenge. But I decided to work my tail off to save money; I took deep breaths and small steps toward action.”

For one year, Williams said she would often work her morning shift at the bakery and the evening shift at the bar and then hop on the train to New York for an audition. Within seven months of repeated long-distance auditions, Williams accepted an offer to perform on a Broadway national tour of “Mamma Mia.” She toured for almost two years, playing Sophie in different cities around the U.S.

“Being selected to tour with “Mamma Mia” was the gift that kept on giving,” Williams said. “It was my first national tour and my first show performing in Las Vegas at the Tropicana. Then, toward the end of my second year with the company, I was asked to be in the ensemble and understudy for the role of Sophie on Broadway. It was at this point I finally made my move to act and live in New York.” <

Maine Education Commissioner visits Windham High School

The students and staff at Windham High School hosted a special guest on Monday, Feb. 7, when Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin spent the day with students, educators, and staff as well as teachers and students of the Katahdin Program.

“We are here today to shine a light on the amazing work being done by the educators, school staff, and students in our public schools and to call attention to the need for communities to support schools by volunteering and substituting,” Makin said. The commissioner, who was the principal of the REAL (Regional Education Alternative Learning) school from 2003 to 2014, of which RSU 14 participated, began her day at WHS at 10:45 a.m., arriving with homemade baked goods as a gift to staff to show appreciation for their dedication during challenging times. She was welcomed and greeted by Superintendent Christopher Howell, RSU 14 School Board Chair Kate Brix, and WHS Assistant Principal Phil Rossetti, who acted as her host for the day.

“It was an honor to have her visit WHS to shed some light on the great things happening in our school and RSU 14,” Rossetti said. “Being a former colleague of so many in the district, it was nice for her to reconnect with so many of us and to see her interact with students which is something she excels.”

As Maine Education Commissioner, Makin leads the state agency that administers both state education subsidy and state and federal grant programs; coordinates the authoring of the rules for Maine State education statutes passed by the Maine State Legislature; provides professional development, information, supports and resources, as well as a system for educator credentialing; and leads many collaborative opportunities and partnerships in support of local schools and districts. <

Polar Dip participants brave icy Sebago Lake for ‘Feed the Need’

Adventurous Mainers demonstrated their spirit, courage, and tenacity last Saturday as they jumped into the icy waters of Sebago Lake for “Feed the Need” on Feb. 19. Hosted by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the 2nd Annual Sebago Lake Polar Dip was held on Sebago Lake near Raymond Beach last Saturday. This year, with 12 teams participating, with more than $9,000 pledged to benefit local food pantries in Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham.

According to Robin Mullins, executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, there are still additional donations that have not been received yet. Once all pledges have been turned in, a grand total will be calculated, and this year’s proceeds will be donated to “Feed the Need” which provides support for local food pantries in the area.

To ensure the safety for those participating in the Polar Dip, emergency medical personnel were on hand from the Raymond Fire and Rescue Department as were divers from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. Volunteer crews directed traffic into the Raymond Beach Boat Launch off Route 302 so participants and their families could park safely.

Mullins said on behalf of the entire Sebago Lakes Region Chamber team she wanted to thank all of those participating in this year’s Polar Dip and all the volunteers for helping make the event so exciting. It was just the second time that the Chamber has hosted the Polar Dip. She said volunteers were instrumental in setting up the event as well as donating heated trailers to keep those participating warm before and after their scheduled jump. <


Raymond resident overcomes obstacles to become U.S citizen

Merary “Mae” Paredes Plummer, originally from Honduras and now living in Raymond, officially became a United States citizen on Thursday, March 1 in a quiet, low-key Naturalization Ceremony – an event that is normally attended by supportive family and friends. However, because of the pandemic, the ceremony that took place in South Portland was limited in attendance to the new citizens and officials.

That didn’t stop Mae, her husband Daniel of 17 years, and their 16-year-old son Joshua from celebrating her journey in becoming a citizen with hugs and kisses. In 2004 at the age of 24 while still living in her Central American country, Mae decided to take the week off from work to join her cousin who was attending one of the many colorful and well-known festivals in Copan - an ancient Mayan city located along the Guatemalan border. Little did she know by attending that big event - it would change her life in a big way.

“I met Dan at the festival, and it was love at first sight,” Mae said. “The only thing is, we could not speak each other’s languages. We had to communicate through my cousin who lived in the U.S. for many years and knew how to speak English and Spanish.” They moved fast romantically, despite the fact that her future husband’s vacation was nearing an end and had to return to Raymond and his life in Maine.

In the winter of 2004, Mae arrived in Maine where she could be with the man she loved and start a family. During the pandemic Mae’s visa expired. Due to the temporary closure of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices, Mae wasn’t able to renew her visa. It was through that experience that Mae decided to become a U.S citizen so she would not have to keep renewing her visa to travel back home.

To prepare for the U.S. citizenship exam and to improve her English communication skills, Mae, who works at Chipotle, applied to take courses at Windham/Raymond Adult Education. Through hard work, Mae passed the Adult Ed courses – and the citizenship test - with flying colors. <

Windham nixes moratorium for solar projects

After consuming much of the Windham Town Council’s attention over the course of the past month, the idea of councilors imposing a moratorium for solar projects was voted down by a vote of 4-3 during a lengthy town council meeting on March 8.

At the meeting, supporters and opponents of a moratorium on solar projects were given time to share their thoughts in advance of the Windham Planning Board’s March 14 public hearing and final plan review of a Green Lantern Solar project near Linnell Road in North Windham. The project would abut three residences on Linnell Road, and those residents advocated for the council to impose a moratorium until Windham’s ordinance for solar projects could be reviewed, clarified, and updated.

Louise Densmore lives on Linnell Road and told councilors she didn’t see how the buffer could be defined without a moratorium.

But Green Lantern Solar developer Geoff Sparrow told the council that the project has met all required zoning requirements mandated by the town and clarified what he said were some misconceptions shared on social media prior to the council meeting. Sparrow said that there is no road planned for inside the buffer and no studies have shown that having a solar project near residences reduces property values. He said some mature trees would have to be removed for the project but that would have to be approved by the Windham Planning Board.

Maxfield, along with Councilors David Nadeau, Ed Ohmott and Mark Morrison voted against imposing a moratorium, with Councilors William Reiner, Brett Jones and Kalogerakis voting in favor of a moratorium. <

Female veterans share their stories for Women’s History Month

Two women veterans, Alola Morrison and Phyllis Page, both of Windham, recently shared their achievements, courage and strength as each chose a life in the military while at the same time choosing a life of marriage and motherhood.

Page attended over 13 different schools during her youth, graduating from Windham High School in 1973. In late fall of 1974, she enlisted in the Navy at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.

“I always knew from a young age that I wanted to be a part of the military - I wanted to travel because there were so many other parts of the world I wanted to see,” Page said.

Morrison also grew up in a military family, with a father who enlisted in the Coast Guard. Admiring her father and his dedication, Morrison wanted to follow in his footsteps. Morrison joined The Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which is currently a federal uniformed service of the U.S Public Health Services that encompasses eight uniformed services of the U.S.

Morrison and Page encourage women to join the armed forces if they consider it but recommend talking to other women who have been or still are in the military.

Page and Morrison are both members of American Legion Post 148 in Windham where Morrison is the Second Vice Commander. <


State honors Raymond employee as ‘Parks Professional of Year’

The employee that ensures that Raymond’s Tassel Top Park is a clean, safe, and family friendly destination prefers to work behind the scenes, but on April 10, Barry Alden received well-deserved recognition for his work.

Alden was honored by the Maine Recreation and Parks Association as the organization’s “Parks Professional of the Year.” For nearly two decades now, Alden has displayed a work ethic second to none while keeping Tassel Top Park a place visitors and residents of the Lakes Region want to go.

An awards committee of the Maine Recreation and Parks Association selected Alden for the honor which is presented annually to municipal employees in the state who work in recreation. Alden is just the fourth recipient of the award since its inception in 2018. Keeping the park in great shape is no easy task for Alden. Tassel Top itself is a 38-acre park with a 900-foot sandy beach with a secured swimming area, and includes a popular snack shack, and a hiking and nature trail situated on Jordan Bay of Sebago Lake.

He said he was humbled by the surprise awards ceremony staged in his honor.

“I’m pretty happy about it,” he said. “I’m excited, I’m honored, and I never expected anything like this to happen. I just do my job and I enjoy doing it.”

Raymond Town manager Don Willard said without Alden’s hard work and devotion to the park and his job, Tassel Top Park would not be what it is today. <

Windham volunteer assists Ukrainian refugees in Poland

Watching the invasion of Ukraine unfold and the displacement and suffering of millions of refugees, Renee Darrow of Windham felt she was faced with a choice. She could choose to be affected by the world or she could choose to affect the world. Darrow decided to make a difference and will fly to Poland later this month to volunteer for World Central Kitchen, an organization assisting in the feeding of Ukrainian refugees.

As a volunteer, Darrow will be working in the kitchen and helping directly with refugee meal distribution in Poland.

“I have no direct connection to Ukraine. My husband’s forebears escaped the pogroms in Ukraine over 100 years ago, he believes they were from Odesa,” Darrow said. “The family members that didn’t flee were almost entirely wiped out by pogroms and then the Nazis. Maybe his family received help from strangers on their way to safety; maybe I can be that stranger to others 120-ish years later.”

“When Russia invaded Ukraine, something in me just snapped and I decided that feeling bad and doing nothing was no longer tenable,” Darrow said. “I had to do something constructive, to put my idle hands to use.”

A former information technology recruiter, Darrow moved to Windham three years ago with her husband, who is supportive of her efforts to do something to help the refugees. She does not consider herself heroic by any means but she’s just a caring person who is doing what can she to help.

“I think it’s extreme to do nothing, to not go when I have the means, the time, the energy,” she said. “Doing nothing seems inhumane, a sin of omission.” <

Organizers grateful for support of Cinderella Project event

Hannah McFarland believes that through her actions, she can be an agent of change leading to a better community. And if the first event hosted by her new nonprofit organization is any indication of how much of an impact it is making in Windham, she’s on the right track.

McFarland, a 2016 Windham High School graduate, has created the Compassion Cloud Collective, a nonprofit which conceived and staged a special fundraiser “Oscars Viewing Party” at Smitty’s Cinema in Windham to assist The Cinderella Project of Maine in collecting new and gently used prom attire for teens to make sure every student will have an opportunity to attend their high school prom without the added stress of cost. In all more than four dozen gowns, four suits and a tuxedo along with several shoe and jewelry donations were donated to Windham High School because of the event.

The Compassion Cloud Collective is a multi-mission, nonprofit organization owned and operated by female business owners who seek to find the silver lining in all of life's storms by using the strengths of each of their partners.

According to McFarland, it was necessary for the Compassion Cloud Collective’s first fundraiser to be in Windham.

“It was important to me for the first event of my own nonprofit be in the town that watched me grow into the person I am today,” McFarland said. “My hope is that it starts a wave that people will follow in their own communities and that the CCC can lead by example and possibly collaborate with other non-profits and businesses, in the future,” she said. <


Fate intervenes in kidney donation for best friends in Windham

Jean Bennett, a team leader at Walmart, first struck up a friendship instantly with Michelle Davis when they were both assigned to work together at the Windham store in 2016. They became best friends and Bennett, a divorced mother of two, anguished as Davis, a married mother of four children, experienced kidney failure and then was told she needed a kidney transplant to survive.

“Michelle’s been suffering from kidney disease for the past four and a half years,” Bennett said. “It was really hard to watch my best friend go through that and suffer so much.”

Last year Bennett herself got tested and as unbelievable as it sounds, turned out to be a potential match for Davis. Bennett then underwent immune system testing and blood work last October and that was followed up by a battery of intense and rigorous kidney donation testing in February of this year.

Eventually, Bennett’s donation to Davis was approved and both friends flew to Florida for the kidney transplant surgery, which was performed May 5 at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

“She’s my best friend and she truly helped me through a tough time a few years ago,” Bennett said. “I couldn’t just sit by and let her die, I knew I needed to step up and do something. I told her I would do anything for my best friend and if I can prolong your life, I’m willing to do it.”

Davis said that she’s grateful for meeting someone as wonderful as Bennett.

“I think it was a higher power that put us together working in the same department at Walmart,” Davis said. “I believe in fate and there’s a reason we met. Having her to do this for me is a godsend.” <

Cancer claims life of community leader McAfee

Former Windham High School Principal Deb McAfee would often tell students that “The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind” and that quote seems to best sum up her life and 38-year career as an educator before she passed away from cancer on May 18. Devoted to her community and always encouraging the best from her students, McAfee leaves behind a legacy of service and leadership that will not be forgotten by those who knew her and generations to come.

She joined Windham High School as principal for the 1996-1997 school year and served as Windham principal for 14 years, stepping down in 2010 to undergo treatment for cancer before returning in the fall of 2011 as the school’s assistant principal and held that position for seven years before retiring in 2018.

RSU 14 Superintendent Chris Howell said McAfee played a significant role in the development and construction of Windham High as principal.

“Completing a renovation/addition of a school while it is in session is a very difficult task to complete. In addition to the organizational skills that are required to keep classes going during construction, there is also a need to coordinate the safety needs of a school in the middle of a construction site,” he said. “I doubt that the public is aware of the number of hours that it took for Deb to coordinate all of the moving pieces during the construction of Windham High School.”

Marge Govoni, who served with McAfee on Windham’s Human Services Advisory Committee, said Deb’s drive to help others was enormous.

“She cared for and about everyone, no matter the age, or gender,” Govoni said. “She wanted to help everyone, and she was the kindest individual I ever met. If you needed anyone to step up to help, Deb was your person. There is no one story that speaks to her commitment when she decided to help, whether it was her continued support to her students and there were many, all the work she did with Neighbors Helping Neighbors, her guidance and commitment to the Human Services Advisory Committee and lastly her work with the Age Friendly endeavor that she was helping to lead until now. I don’t think she ever had an unkind word about anyone, and our community has lost a champion that you felt proud to call your friend and she will be missed by many.” <

Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey pays visit to WHS

The Windham High School auditorium was filled to the brim with students and staff on Tuesday, May 24 as actor, director and philanthropist Patrick Dempsey visited the school for a special assembly. The purpose of Dempsey’s visit was to give thanks and celebrate WHS and the Junior Class for winning the statewide Dempsey Challenge high school contest last fall.

In September 2021, WHS students participated in the first ever Dempsey Center High School Challenge, competing with other area high schools to raise funds for the center’s mission – to make life better for people managing the impact of cancer. WHS and the Junior class raised the most money, winning the event by raising $560.

“In the past we have done a food drive or change wars to support local food pantries,” WHS Assistant Principal Phil Rossetti said in a previous interview. “We have several staff and students that have been impacted by cancer and the Dempsey Center has been a great support to many in the RSU community. Rod Nadeau, a counselor in the Katahdin Program, approached us about the opportunity to participate as a school in the Dempsey Challenge. Administration reached out to Pete Small, teacher and coach at WHS, who also helps coordinate homecoming activities to see if this would be a great fit for our school.”

Dempsey, who was born in Lewiston and is a well-known film and television actor, is the founder of the Dempsey Center and he wanted to personally visit the school and thank students for their contributions to such a worthy cause. <


Windham earns near $1 million grant for conservation project

The purchase and conservation of 661 acres of land amounting to the largest block of unfragmented forest in Windham, and one of the largest in the Greater Portland area, inched one step closer to becoming a reality after the Lands for Maine’s Future Program awarded the East Windham Conservation project $998,000.

If a plan is approved by voters at Windham’s Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, June 18, a partnership between the town and the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust would dramatically expand and diversify recreational opportunities in Windham with the purchase and conservation of 661 acres of forested land and 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond. The land also contains the 150-acre Deer Wintering Area, a traditional area for hunting by permission, and the 580-foot Atherton Hill, the tallest hill in Windham. When completed, the project will directly abut more than 1,000 acres of other conserved land in Windham and Falmouth, including Lowell Preserve, North Falmouth Community Forest, and Blackstrap Hill Preserve, providing 20 miles of interconnected trails and five trailheads for public access.

Town residents will be asked to approve a bond at the Annual Town Meeting to match the state grant funds.

“The bond will be paid for with open space impact fees so there will be no impact on the mill rate. Not only does the acquisition of this property preserve a part of Windham that residents have identified as an important area to conserve amidst increasing development pressures, it also provides exceptional scenic views of the western mountains, and the opportunity to recreate close to home,” Lessard said.

Lessard said that Windham has been collaborating with the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust over the past six months to engage the community on developing a vision for this property.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said the town is grateful to the Lands for Maine’s Future organization for helping to fund this project.

“The timing of this land being available to be conserved for the future with recreational usage combined with the state’s renewed commitment to funding with the Land for Maine’s Future program has been ideal,” Tibbetts said. “The LMF Board’s award to grant the town nearly $1 million for the acquisition of this property is an opportunity we can’t afford to pass up.” <

Windham’s Bubar makes great strides on racing circuit

Before he had even reached his teenage years, Windham’s Corey Bubar was racing go-karts at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough in 2004. After doing that for a few years, he moved up to the sports series division in 2007, and then just one year after graduating from Windham High School, Bubar won the championship in the Sports Series division at Beech Ridge in 2011. Following his championship, Bubar moved up to the Pro Series division in 2012 and his overall time in that division was also incredibly successful, winning more NASCAR Night races than any other racer at Beech Ridge and he also won the “Driver of the Decade” award for the 2010s.

“I got into racing because my dad has raced since the 1980s,” said Bubar. “He stopped in the early 2000s and when the opportunity came for me to get started in go-kart racing, we didn’t hesitate and we’ve been at it ever since.”

“Last season was pretty good for us,” said Bubar. “I had a chance at the championship, but ended up in second place, just four points behind. A lot of credit goes to my team, we had a fast car just about every week.”

Following his exceptional season in 2021, Bubar was excited for what this season had in store, but with Beech Ridge Motor Speedway closing at the end of last year, he and his team didn’t enter 2022 with many expectations. Despite the closing, Bubar and his team have competed in some races, and while their luck hasn’t gone their way so far this season, Bubar and his team still have hope for what’s yet to come.

“The results from our season have been a little bit discouraging,” said Bubar. “However, we have still had good speed at a few of the races, so hopefully we can get some good finishes this year. “I don’t really have any higher aspirations for my career. I just like doing what we are doing now,” said Bubar. “I would just like to thank all of my family, crew and sponsors who help me out to be able to keep racing.” <

Beloved RSU 14 music teacher sails into retirement

After inspiring students in music education for 43 years, and 41 years devoted to RSU 14, Nancy Cash-Cobb is shifting her youthful tomfoolery from the classroom to retirement. She plans to spend time with family and friends and her husband, Jerry Cobb, on their lakeshore home on Crescent Lake in Raymond during the summers while hitting the road in their RV to the warmer climates of Florida and Texas during the Maine winters.

“I have a whole list of things I plan to do during my retirement,” said Cash-Cobb, whose small physical demeanor explodes with a big personality. “I plan to meet with friends for lunch, spend time floating on our newly purchased pontoon boat, babysitting my grandson, and exploring the U.S. in the RV my husband and I purchased last fall.”

Her petite but mighty 4-foot-9 presence has impacted the Windham/Raymond community in many ways, including her recent induction into the Maine Music Educators Hall of Fame on May 19 at the Maine Music Educator’s Conference in Orono.

Cash-Cobb said she loves every student she has met and does it with unique joy.

“I have always said that I go to school every day and act like an idiot, and they pay me for it,” she said. “I’m silly. It’s part of my personality. I believe that teaching style brings the kids to the teacher and provides an atmosphere of home in the classroom.”

Her impact has also gone beyond the classroom. She is actively involved in many statewide and national organizations that include the following: the Maine Chapter of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association for music and movement, spent many years as a Sunday School teacher, was a board member of Maine Music Educators, was a Girl Scout leader, taught Vacation Bible School, was a teacher at the New England Suzuki Institute and is the treasurer for the American Legion Auxiliary.

Cash-Cobb, who grew up playing the violin and was part of the Christian folk/rock group “Free Spirits,” graduated from the University of Southern Maine in music education in 1979. She began her career as a music teacher that same year, where she taught Band, Chorus, and General Music at Sacopee Valley for two years before landing a teaching job in Windham.

Dr. Kyle Rhoads, Windham Primary School principal, said that Cash-Cobb will be greatly missed and speaks highly of her role with the students.

“Mrs. Nancy Cash-Cobb has splendidly taught music education at WPS for over 40 years,” he said. “She has touched the lives of generations of Windham students with her enthusiasm for music and her kind soul. As Nancy prepares to retire, she will be greatly missed by the entire Windham community. Thank you, Nancy!” <

Friday, December 16, 2022

District 2 Music Festival honors Windham violinist

By Ed Pierce

The violin is one of most difficult musical instruments to learn and master and for the past 12 years, Emily Greene has strived to overcome its unique challenges and perform to the best of her ability. That hard work has paid dividends as Greene has been honored by Maine District 2 Music Festival as 1st violinist and concertmaster for an upcoming concert.

Violinist Emily Greene, 17, a senior at 
Windham High School, has been chosen
as 1st Violinist and Concertmaster for
the Maine District 2 Music Festival in
February. Greene has been playing the 
violin since she was 5.
The daughter of Michael Greene and Debbie Bernier, Greene, 17, is a senior at Windham High School and auditioned in October at Lincoln Middle School in Portland to be chosen to play in the music festival. The audition required her to prepare a piece to perform and two scales as she has done in previous years, but this time, Greene achieved the results she was seeking, earning the highest score among the young musicians who auditioned.

“I was very excited but a little bit shocked as well,” Greene said. “I’ve auditioned for districts before and never been given the honor of serving as concertmaster.”

The concertmaster is the principal first violin player in an orchestra and after the conductor, is the second-most significant leader among the orchestra musicians.

Greene says that she first became interested in playing the violin at the age of 4 when her mother brought her to a concert that featured one.

“I heard it, and I told her that I wanted to play the violin,” she said.

At just 5 years old, Greene began to take violin lessons from Deirdre Oehrtmann of Windham, and it inspired a passion of music and a potential career in music for her. She also sings and plays the guitar and is teaching herself to play the piano.

With Oehrtmann’s guidance, Greene has studied the violin using the “Suzuki Method,” an educational system that teaches children how to play music with the same ease that they learn to speak their native language. Under this type of instruction, practitioners start early and develop rigorous habits through repeated practice and sequential introduction to classical compositions.

From 2011 to 2015, Greene was a member of the children’s orchestra for "The Magic of Christmas" at Merrill Auditorium and Greene has also performed in some concerts at the Portland Conservatory. She performed in an opera at age 10 and then wrote an opera of her own at the age of 11.

Along with the District 2 violin auditions this fall, Greene auditioned for District 2 vocals as a soprano and achieved that distinction too. She qualified as an All-State selection for both vocals and violin this year but had to choose only one and opted for All-State violin honors. Recently she placed in the top three in a classical voice competition sponsored by the Maine chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

According to Greene, the most difficult music she’s had to learn so far was the audition piece for this year’s All-State festival, Concerto 23 in G Major by Viotti. She lists her favorite music to perform as Gavotte in G Minor by Bach and says that she loves to play Christmas songs on all of her musical instruments.

To master the violin takes years and countless hours of practice and that’s something that Greene embraces. Her practice schedule depends upon the day, but usually she practices for a half-hour each weekday before school and longer every weekend in the morning.

“I like playing the violin because it’s a challenge to get everything right, but I can put my own expression into it,” Greene said. “It’s such a beautiful instrument to play and like a high-pitched extension of my voice.”

At Windham High School, she takes music classes taught by Dr. Richard Nickerson and Katherine Herrle and is hoping to study music in college when she graduates this coming June.

Despite performing since she was small, Greene says she still experiences some jitters before playing for a crowd.

“I get a tiny bit nervous but I’m never nervous on stage,” she said.

Greene credits her parents for their support and her violin teacher Oehrtmann, who she continues to study with, for helping her realize her dreams.

“It’s been very rewarding,” she said. “For me music is going to be a big part of my future.”

The Maine District 2 Music Festival will be held in February at Deering High School in Portland. <

Can We? Project engages students in dialogue with elected officials

By Lorraine Glowczak

About 20 Windham High School students recently participated in three separate day-long retreats called the "Can We? Project." Building up to the third retreat, students learned the skills of ‘listening to understand’ through a series of story exchanges. Then, using what they learned in the first retreat, students could practice their listening skills by discussing divisive topics at the second retreat where students chose political and social issues that they deemed essential.

Windham Town Councilor Dave Nadeau offers his thoughts
after one of the Can We? Project student group presentations
at Windham High School. PHOTO BY GARY HARRIMAN
On the last day of the Can We? Project retreat, Wednesday, Dec. 7, students practiced civic engagement skills by presenting their perspectives on their areas of concern to elected officials from the Windham Town Council and the RSU 14 School Board.

Students shared concerns from a global and local perspective ranging from various social, political, and environmental topics.

The students only had 1 ½ hours to choose from one of the issues established by the group to develop an argument. After their presentations, the elected officials were offered an opportunity to ask questions or give an opposing viewpoint to consider.

WHS English teacher, and Can We? Project liaison Chelsea Scott said four student groups and one teacher group presented to the officials in about an hour.

"The student’s level of courage was admirable,” Scott said. “They transformed feelings of anxiety into action and used the little time they had to prepare to create insightful presentations."

School board member and chair Kate Brix said that she was impressed with the students and the Can We? Project process, saying that it was a powerful example of the importance of student's voice.

“Student engagement is a core belief of RSU 14’s strategic plan, and the students of this project were extremely articulate and respectful as they presented their viewpoint on a topic important to them,” she said. “The students I met clearly illustrated that they care and think deeply about issues that impact all our lives. I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with them and know that the skills they learned will be put to good use beyond their high school years.”

Windham Town Council chair Mark Morrison said the project was timely and a valuable lesson in learning respectful dialogue between people with differing viewpoints.

“We saw the students apply and follow the program process with their presentations which stressed presenting respectfully, listening, and asking questions in a way that did not make the dialogue personal,” Morrison said. “I hope this program continues so the students learn the skills needed to effectively communicate so the focus is on the ideas where the pros and cons can be discussed and measured, not on the person. I hope I’m invited back to participate in another discussion.”

After the presentations, the students had an opportunity to reflect upon what they learned most.

“I realized I need to do more research about my subject,” said senior Teddy Becker.

Junior Mareena Batsungnern said participating in the Can We? Project helped develop her skills in leadership.

“It has also given me the courage and motivation to voice my beliefs to others,” she said.

Junior Griffin Moreau said the Can We? Project taught him something that many of us try to learn in an attempt at deep listening. “The thing I think that I learned the most is, ‘be comfortable with silence.’ It is something that I have struggled with all my life and have only started to realize the answer to and the Can We? project has helped with that.”

Scott said the Can We? Project was instrumental in empowering the students to truly listen to each other and discuss divisive topics with empathy and a desire to understand rather than to react.

“Participants have expressed that they feel supported, surprised, and inspired by this program and that they now have the tools and knowledge to participate in their own democracy,” she said.

The Can We? Project was developed collaboratively between the Third Thought Initiatives for Civic Engagement from Waynflete School and the Maine Policy Institute. The mission is to allow high school students the opportunity to engage in thoughtful dialogue across different perspectives.

All three retreats were held at WHS and guided by John Holdridge, the Director of the Third Thought Initiatives for Civic Engagement, and Jacob Posik, the Director of Communications from the Maine Policy Institute. The 20 students were self-selected to participate and represented a true cross-section of ages, academic foci, family experiences and interests.

Students will have the opportunity to expand their experiences with other high school students across the state who also participated in the project, taking their experiences and practice of civil conversation and dialogue to the next level. In addition, WHS teachers who participated in the retreats plan to incorporate the project as an initiative for the whole school.

A thank you goes to the following elected officials who gave the gift of listening and allowing students to practice skills of civic engagement and dialogue respectfully including Windham Town Council members Mark Morrison, Dave Nadeau, and Nick Kalogerakis, RSU 14 school board members Kate Brix, Kate Leveille, Char Jewell, and Jessica Bridges, and former State Representative Patrick Corey. <

Friday, December 9, 2022

Korean War veteran devotes life to helping others

By Ed Pierce

When Jerry Black closes his eyes, he can still picture the engine room of the USS Johnston, a U.S. destroyer he served on for four years during the Korean War.

Black, 94, enlisted in the U.S. Navy while in high school and received his diploma from Farmington High School while serving as a throttle man on the destroyer in 1949. Over the span of four years, he rose in rank to Petty Officer Second Class and his military service became the springboard to success as a high school teacher and continues to this very day.

At the age of 94, Jerry Black remains active in the community,
serving as vice president of the Little Meetinghouse board of
directors and a member of the American Legion and VFW in
Windham. He served aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer during
the Korean War and taught industrial arts at Falmouth High
School before retiring. He is also an artist in Windham.
“The USS Johnston spent a lot of time in the Mediterranean Sea,” Black said. “The Russians tried to infiltrate ports in Greece, Turkey, Albania, Yugoslavia, and Northern Italy and our job was to block them from doing that and continuing World War II. They say we chased Russian submarines all day and they chased us all night.”

On board ship, Black was known for his knack at cutting sailor’s hair and willingness to pitch in and help solve diesel mechanical problems when challenges arose while at sea. He was also the ship’s master at arms and in charge of drainage control for the destroyer.

When he was discharged, Black returned to Maine to live with his parents in Farmington and briefly worked side by side with his father at a barber shop there. But before long, Black chose to attend college and enrolled at Gorham State Teacher’s College to study industrial arts.

“In my first class, there were 20 students and 11 of us were veterans,” he said. “The toughest part of going to college was transitioning from the military way of life to trying to study for school.”

In 1955, Black met fellow Gorham State Teacher’s College student Mildred Hammond of South Paris, who was two years ahead of him in school. They fell in love and got married that same year. Two years later in 1957, Black graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Gorham State Teacher’s College and applied for a teaching position at Falmouth High School.

“It was a brand-new school that had just been built,” Black said. “I graduated in the spring from college, and they hired me as the industrial arts teacher there for that fall. It was a state-of-the-art school, and everyone called it the Portland Country Club School.”

While he was teaching at Falmouth High, his wife Mildred was launching her own career as a history and social sciences teacher at Windham High School. When Jerry retired from teaching after a 25-year career in 1981, Mildred was still working at Windham High and finished a 26-year career as an educator there before retiring.

After retiring from teaching, Jerry worked as a manager for senior housing in North Windham and both he and Mildred traveled to 36 different countries and across the United States, spending winters in San Diego, California.

More than 25 years ago Jerry Black joined the American Legion and VFW in Windham and served on a committee building the Windham Veterans Center in the 1990s. Mildred and Jerry Black were married

for 62 years before her death at the age of 84 in 2017.

The couple had no children but in traveling the world, they did have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while visiting England. Some friends had invited them to join them for a tea party in the courtyard of Windsor Castle for Boy Scouts and teachers hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

“We met the queen and shook her hand as she stood in a reception line,” Black said. “That was an extraordinary experience.”

It wasn’t the first queen though that Black had met. While serving on board the USS Johnston years earlier, the ship had docked in Athens, Greece, and Black was sent ashore to greet Queen Frederika of Greece and to escort her back to the ship for a luncheon with the USS Johnston’s officers.

And those were not the only world leaders that Black would be so fortunate to meet. While he and Mildred were attending graduate school at the University of Maryland in the 1950s, they learned that U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower was hosting for British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the White House in nearby Washington, D.C. The couple traveled there and somehow made it through the White House gate and then got to shake Churchill’s hand while he met the public on the White House grounds.

Among his many accomplishments in life, Black says that he’s proud of something he was able to do as a teenager that endures to this day.

“While I was going into the 11th grade, I bought a Model T Fire Engine for $45,” he said. “I then spent $45 more on tires that I bought from Montgomery Ward. I fixed it all up and believe it or not, that fire engine is still running today and is on loan to a museum. I have arranged it so it becomes the museum’s permanently when I’m gone.”

According to Black, his proudest moment came in 2018 when he was honored to be chosen to receive an Honor Flight to fly to Washington and got to see the World War II and other memorials there with a group of other Maine veterans.

“I also got to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and that was very moving and

humbling,” he said.

He keeps busy these days by serving as vice president of Windham’s Little Meetinghouse, a restored historical building available to rent for public functions. Initially Black served as the president of the Little Meetinghouse board but has now stepped into the vice president’s role to give others a chance at leadership of the organization.

Black has also helped five young men attend college, the latest of those being James Mannette of Windham, who recently graduated from the US. Air Force Academy.

Mannette says that Black has inspired him to take on bigger challenges in his life.

“Jerry has been an incredible role model to me in that he is like a second father,” said Mannette. “My father passed away when I was in high school, and Jerry helped me learn things that my father would have taught me if he was here.”

Much of his time now is spent with his fellow veterans, joining them for meetings, sharing coffee and at special events.

“Being a part of the American Legion and the VFW is a kind of a brotherhood for me,” Black said. “It’s a team like when I was on board ship. They mean a great deal to me.” <