Friday, January 27, 2023

Raymond resident launches military career as U.S. Marine

By Ed Pierce

If boot camp is a strong indication of the direction that his military career may take, Austin Goslant of Raymond is off to a promising start.

Private First Class Austin Goslant of Raymond
was honored as one of five Honor Graduates
during the Jan. 134 graduation ceremony for
new recruits at the U.S. Marine Corps boot
camp at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Goslant, a 2022 graduate of Windham High School, said that he decided to become a United States Marine because it’s always been a childhood dream and he knew it wouldn’t be easy. Never one to back down from a challenge, Goslant left the Lakes Region on Oct. 22, determined to excel at the 13-week test of moral, mental and physical strength at the U.S. Marine Corps boot camp and recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Awakened at 4 a.m. by the sound of a bugle called “Reveille,” Marine Corps recruits present themselves for accountability and following a regimen of personal hygiene and morning clean-up, they undergo rigorous physical training from Monday through Saturdays. After a morning meal, the recruits begin the day's scheduled training, which typically includes classes, drills, or martial arts. On Sundays, recruits are offered the morning to attend various religious services and take personal time for personal activities such as writing letters, working out, doing laundry, or preparing uniforms and equipment.

“Some training and activities I did were obstacle courses, shooting range, marching and drilling, push-ups, pull-ups, planks, a lot of running, learning how to use tourniquets, how to read a map and compass, combat maneuvers and formations, and Marine Corps knowledge and customs,” Goslant said. “What I enjoyed most about boot camp was the constant exercise and being surrounded by other Marines and recruits who have similar goals to me. The brother and sisterhood you form doesn’t compare to any friendship from high school and earlier.”

He said what he disliked the most about boot camp were recruits that didn’t want to improve themselves and not try as hard as everyone else.

“They would hold us back constantly. I also had a hard time being away from my family,” he said.

Embracing each new challenge that came his way at boot camp as an opportunity, Goslant turned out to be a standout Marine Corps recruit at Parris Island.

“I became the Guide and Honor Graduate for my platoon because the original dudes that were in charge didn’t cut it. The guide before me ran out of the gas chamber and cried like a baby,” Goslant said. ”I showed my Drill Instructors how much I wanted to be the leader of the platoon by how badly I wanted to earn the title United States Marine, by getting good test scores, shooting high expert at the range, and having high first class Physical Fitness and Combat Fitness test scores.”

He said that the platoon guide has to be the picture perfect recruit and Marine, always trying to do the

right thing and be a good example for the rest of the platoon to follow.

“I originally went to boot camp not wanting to be one of those guys that stands out from everyone else because everyone told me to keep my head down, but I noticed how important it was for me to step up and build my leadership skills so I could be a better leader in the future,” Goslant said. “Boot camp really made me reflect on my past, thinking about my entire outlook on life and how to interact with others changed. I can say I improved as a man because of what I went through on Parris Island.”

On Jan. 13, Goslant graduated from the U.S. Marine Corps boot camp, leading his platoon across the parade deck as one of five Honor Graduates out of a graduating class of 264 Marines.

It was a moment of great pride for him as his family and friends were able to travel to Parris Island to watch the graduation ceremony.

“I had a big group at graduation. My mom Tammy, my dad Albert, my brother Jake, grandmother, aunt, and uncle, and my second family, the Morteros, were there,” he said. “It was an emotional experience seeing my loved ones again.”

He’s a Private First Class, E-2, currently stationed with his recruiters in Scarborough, Auburn, and Brunswick until February when he will be attending the U.S. Marine Corps School of Infantry at Camp Geiger in North Carolina.

“ I have a five- year Infantry contract and I’m hoping to be a 0311 (Rifleman),” Goslant said. “Some

things I look forward to doing during my career are to become a better leader and person, travel the world, meet good people, go to college, and keep our country, community, and my loved ones safe.”

Now that boot camp is in his rear view mirror, Goslant says in his spare time he likes spending time with his family, working out, playing video games, listening to music, and playing guitar.

“Some advice I would give to anyone who wants to earn the title United States Marine or join any of the branches is to be comfortable being uncomfortable and strive to be better every day,” he said. “Everything in the Marine Corps is a competition so you should set goals to make yourself better than those around you. A strong mind leads to a strong body.” <

Windham veteran on walk to visit all four corners of America

By Ed Pierce

By the time Matt Dyer of Windham finishes his journey across America, he is hoping to accomplish something nobody else has ever done before – walk to all four corners of America in one trip.

Matt Dyer of Windham is one his way to walk to all four
corners of America and hopes to reach Miami by July.
From there he will walk to San Diego and then north to
Olympia, Washington by July 2024.
Dyer is an Army veteran who started his epic trek Dec. 30 and hopes to complete the long trip by July 2024. He’s walking the entire way pulling a cart of supplies and a tent and the adventure is something that Dyer will treasure forever.

“To my knowledge, no one has ever done this. I'm challenging myself. My cause is to exercise, unplug and be in nature, test the limits of my body and to have resiliency and the mental toughness to never tap-out and do something never done before,” he said. “I am sharing my journey for one, to prove I did it; two, to inspire people to do something outside of your comfort zone; and three, for self-exploration. I am clearing my head and taking it all in. The people I am meeting are making a lifelong impact on me so now my purpose is to share people's stories.

He's been averaging about 11.6 miles per day and at this pace, he expects to reach Miami by the end of May, and then San Diego by the end of February. From there he will head north to Olympia, Washington.

"The trip should be finished by July 6, 2024, the fifth-year anniversary of my father's death,” Dyer said. He lived in Windham from 1988 to 2019.”

If the walk itself wasn’t enough of a challenge, Dyer is hauling a cart filled with a tent, a 10-degree mummy bag, a Coleman hunting cot, two sets of wet weather clothes, sleeping clothes and walking clothes, and a ton of socks. He’s also brought along five pairs of gloves, two sets of outer reflective vests, a headlamp, miscellaneous tools, a machete, and a ton of empty carb foods like cereal, pop tarts, and gummies.

“I have 10 pounds of Whey Protein, beef jerkey, protein bars, and trail mix,” he said. “I carry at least 4 gallons of water. One is open, three reserve and electrolyte powders like Pedialyte and Gatorade.

He served in the Army from June 2012 to December 2017 as a Human Intelligence Collector for the intelligence sector and graduated from Windham High School in 2011. After his military service ended, Dyer became a Department of Defense contractor in Afghanistan starting in January 2018 for a year. His second deployment was from January 2020 to January 2021 supporting special forces (SOJTF/NATO Special Operations Component Command) as a Counterintelligence Analyst.

He and his late wife Marinna both attended Windham High School and Dyer was a member of the 2009 WHS state championship football squad.

According to Dyer, walking across America is nothing short of amazing.

“I haven't had a day where I've woke up saying ‘’Ugh. I don't want to walk today.’ I'm having a blast meeting people of all walks of life and the tranquility of walking alone down an empty road at night,” he said.

The most memorable sight he’s seen so far has been a shooting star that he observed in the Orion constellation while he was walking in Suffield, Connecticut.

“I actually have Orion tattooed on my wrist as my wife loved it,” Dyer said. I bought her a star in that constellation for Valentine’s Day in 2014.”

The most memorable place he’s passed through so far is Barre, Massachusetts,” he said.

“The walk into Barre was the toughest walk yet, 15 miles in the pouring rain. The final mile was a hill that ranks in the top five of the whole trip and I was so determined to climb it, all alone in the rain at 3 a.m.,” Dyer said. “Cooks Canyon where I slept was beautiful. There's nothing like sleeping with a babbling brook right outside your tent. In the morning I met Randy Marsden and his dog Emmitt, and I sat with them and Randy's wife, Laurie, for six hours talking about life in their kitchen, while Laurie washed and dried my stuff. Amazing people.”

While on his journey he’s noticed he’s not alone out there. He heard coyotes throughout the night in

Massachusetts and Connecticut.

“There was a skunk on the shoulder in East Granby, Connecticut who was more afraid of me than I of him so we didn't have a close encounter,” Dyer said. “I found some very cool animal bones yesterday in Canton, Connecticut that there's a nice picture of on my Facebook page.”

He said people he’s met in Connecticut have warned him to watch out for bears while walking.

“But Google, ‘Matt Dyer bear attack’ and you'll find that a man with my same name, from Maine has already been attacked by a bear and survived,” Dyer said. “So, I'm safe right?”

Logistics for his journey were reviewed in advance of his departure, where he went over possible thoroughfares and some other technical issues.

“I've only had one instance where my phone died. My fellow Windham friends James Conant and Dylan Nelson killed my battery video chatting,” he said. “I charge during the day while I eat and plan my route for the day.”

He’s not collecting donations for the trip and supports himself from a VA disability check and a survivor benefit from the death of his wife.

“If you skim my Facebook page, you'll see the jokes about the ‘no-cause cause.’ You will not find a donation link, and I am not asking for donations,” he said. “People have supported me by helping fix a flat tire, doing laundry, etc.”

As far as the trip goes, Dyer said he wants everyone to know that he’s a competitor.

“I want people to know that I want to do something never done before. I want to put myself through

anguish mentally and physically and become stronger and tougher. People don't seem to take that as an answer to the question ‘Why are you doing this?’ I truly believe that I can't be stopped by life and I'm proving it to myself. When I'm done, no matter what it is I want to do with my life, I'll say to myself, ‘I just walked around America and slept outside for 18 months, I can do anything.’”

As he continues to meet people across America on his walk and being impacted continuously by the interactions, he said he wants to use his platform to do good.

“I am filling the internet with good stories. I am coming up with ways to give back,” he said.

You can follow Dyer’s journey across America by visiting his Facebook page at 2023walkusa. <

Friday, January 20, 2023

Windham restructures bonds to save town $45,000

By Ed Pierce

Acting upon advice from a bonding agent, members of the Windham Town Council have voted unanimously to restructure some existing bonds which will save the town $45,000 by the time the bonds are eventually paid off.

The Windham Town Council has voted to restructure a
general obligation bond from 2003 to realize savings of
$45,000 for the town. PHOTO BY KEITH MANK
During a Windham Town Council meeting on Jan. 10, councilors were briefed by Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts about the potential for significant savings under a proposed bond restructuring plan.

The original bond of $36,333 million was approved by town councilors in 2003 and was used to pay construction costs for a new addition and renovation project at Windham High School. That general obligation bond was refinanced by the town in 2011 for the purpose of realizing debt service savings to the town at that time.

“When we were going through our current bond approvals, our bonding agent looked at it and we have just two payments left on that bond,” Tibbetts said. “But in refinancing it now, the net effect to us is that we can save $45,000 on this bond.”

The refinanced bond amounts to a total of $3,025 million, according to Moors & Cabot, Inc., the town’s municipal advisor for the issuance of the bond, and an investor has been secured for the restructured bonds.

Municipal bonds are a type of debt security issued by local, county, and state governments. They are commonly offered to pay for capital expenditures such as highway construction or for bridges, or schools. The bonds act like loans, with bondholders becoming creditors of the municipality.

In exchange for the borrowed capital, bondholders and investors are promised interest on the principal balance by being repaid by the municipality by the time of the bond’s maturity date. The bonds are often exempt from most federal and state taxes, which makes them attractive as an investment to those in higher income tax brackets.

Types of municipal bonds include general government obligation and revenue bonds. In Windham’s

case, these specific general obligation bonds were issued by a governmental entity and were not backed by revenue from a specific project, such as from a toll road. Some of Windham’s general obligation bonds are backed by dedicated property taxes, while others are payable from the town’s general funds.

Typically, the interest rate of most municipal bonds is paid at a fixed rate and this rate doesn't change over the life of the bond. However, the underlying price of a particular bond will fluctuate in the secondary market due to market conditions and changes in interest rates and interest rate expectations are generally the primary factors involved in municipal bond secondary market prices.

When interest rates fall, newly issued bonds will pay a lower yield than existing issues, which makes the older bonds more attractive. Investors who want the higher yield may be willing to pay more to get it, and a town such as Windham may weigh refinancing a bond to yield savings, such as for this bond.

All bonds must be approved by the Windham Town Council, and some are voted upon by residents during Windham’s Annual Town Meeting every June.

Windham previously issued $19,045 million in advance refunding general obligations bonds on Dec. 15, 2011, as authorized by the Windham Town Council to refinance the debt owed on the 2003 bonds.

This is fantastic,” said Windham Town Council Chair Mark Morrison. “If we can save $45,000, it’s a no brainer.”

Following a brief discussion, Windham town councilors voted unanimously to approve restructuring the bonds as proposed by the bonding agent to realize the savings.

The restructured bond is expected to be paid in full by Nov. 1, 2033. <

100-year-old Windham resident has no plans on slowing down

By Ed Pierce

Phyllis Coffin of Windham marked a milestone that was a century in the making last month when she celebrated her 100th birthday on Dec. 10.

Phyllis Coffin of Windham turned 100 last month and
celebrated with family at a dinner in Portland. She has 
always led an active lifestyle and enjoyed roller skating,
water skiing, dancing, tennis and snow skiing when she
For the occasion, she enjoyed dinner at the Harbor Hotel in Portland with her family, including her children and grandchildren, her twin sister’s two daughters, and friends. Afterward, she was thrilled to converse at home via ZOOM with extended family across the country, while 100 birthday candles lit up the night sky outdoors, and more than 100 birthday cards decorated her porch.

Phyllis was born Dec. 10, 1922, some 10 minutes before her identical twin sister, Frances, in a farmhouse in Clinton, Maine to her parents, Grace Walls Lambertson and William Lambertson. She graduated from Clinton High school as salutatorian in 1940 and went on to attend Westbrook Junior College completing the Commercial Course with studies in bookkeeping, shorthand, law, mathematics of law.

On April 21, 1946, Phyllis married Herbert “Lucky” Coffin and the couple had two children, Jeffrey Coffin, and Gail Hamilton, who both live in Windham.

Her professional career included co-owning Friends Bridal Shop, working as a bookkeeper, and later as a Real Estate Broker.

She says that her most memorable job was when she was a full-time bookkeeper for Eastern Tractor and Equipment in Portland doing what she was trained to do and loved to do, working with numbers. To this day, she still tracks her own finances and signs her own checks to pay bills.

She’s lived an active life ranging from playing high school basketball and roller skating and dancing to

water skiing and snow skiing and in her senior years, playing tennis starting in the 1960s, which she continued until she was 90. Waterskiing became a genuine passion for Phyllis, and she became an AWSA-certified judge and served as the chief judge at numerous waterskiing tournaments throughout New England.

Her cooking was something special too.

“My favorite has always been her Hungarian rolls, which were traditional holiday fare at her house,” said her daughter, Gail Hamilton. “They were so gooey and sweet and made her holiday meals extra special.”

According to Phyllis, advances in technology during her lifetime have been nothing short of amazing, with a few inventions standing out among all the others.

“Telephones because they introduced us to technology,” she said. “And transporting of people from horse and buggy to car and flight and landing someone on the moon.”

She said the biggest historical event to take place in her lifetime is hard to choose because there have been so many.

“Bad things that stand out because they were so horrid,” Phyllis said. “The insurrection at the Capitol

floored me. I couldn’t imagine that happening in our wonderful country. And the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor.”

Her husband passed away in 2012 and her twin sister, who was a huge part of her life, died in 2017. The twins attended the same college in Westbrook for bookkeeping and shared a mutual love for roller skating, performing together in shows at Old Orchard Beach to entertain U.S. servicemen during World War II.

As far as her own longevity in life goes, Phyllis said she credits having constant interests outside of just living, taking good care of her body, and helped by God in maintaining it.

For the future, she wants to continue to watch tennis on television and to do walking and exercises to maintain her mobility. She’s also planning to accompany her daughter to Idaho this coming summer for her grandson’s wedding. <

Friday, January 13, 2023

Sponsorship award humbles Windham auto racer

By Ed Pierce

There are special moments in life we never forget and Saturday, Jan. 7 was one of those memorable occasions for auto racer Bobby Timmons of Windham. In a special ceremony during the 34th Northeast Motorsports Expo at the August Civic Center, Timmons was honored with the 2023 GNG’s Gift Award, a valuable sponsorship presented by the family of the late New England racing legend “Grand National Greg” Peters.

Auto racer Bobby Timmons of Windham is the recipient
of the 2023 GNG's Gift Award, a valuable sponsorship
presented by the family of the late New England racing
legend 'Grand National Greg' Peters.
The award is given annually to a New England auto racer who best exemplifies the qualities of “Grand National Greg” Peters of Westbrook, who won many races over the years at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and the Oxford Plains Speedway before passing away in July 2021. The sponsorship is $5,000.09, with the .09 symbolic of the number that Peters used on his racecar over years of competing as a driver and crew chief in Maine.

“It means the world to me to have won the 2023 GNG's gift sponsorship. Greg and his son John have been friends of mine for as long as I can remember,” Timmons said. “Racing cars was Greg's passion in life and for them to choose me as the one who embodies what he stood for is truly an honor. My girlfriend, Abby, and my sister, Nicole, were with me during the presentation as well as many other of my friends in the racing community. The room was standing room only for the presentation and that was a cool sight.”

Timmons says that he’ll use the sponsorship this season to continue his racing career.

“This year we plan to race around 25 to 30 times this upcoming season, anywhere from Maine to Michigan,” he said. “The funds from GNG's gift will go toward all the expenses we have in racing. Tires, fuel, parts for the car, traveling expenses, and more.”

A third-generation racer, Timmons, who turned 30 on Monday, launched his career while competing in go-karts at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough after watching his father, Bobby Timmons, Jr. and his grandfather, Bobby Timmons, race super modified automobiles at racetrack in both Maine and New Hampshire. His devotion to living up to their legacy has led to numerous racing victories.

He won four races this past season. two at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire where he races weekly. He also won two races on the 350 SMAC touring series in 2022, including one at the Hudson Speedway in Hudson, New Hampshire.

“That one was cool because I am sponsored by Hudson Speedway. The second one on the tour was at Wiscasset Speedway in Wiscasset,” Timmons said. “That one was special to me in the sense that it was the first time I had won a race in the state of Maine since 2014.”

Star Speedway is a one quarter-mile banked track and races there are typically 35 to 60-laps in length.

The racecar that Timmons drives most often is a 350-super modified. It has a 350-cubic inch Chevrolet small block engine that produces a little over 400 horsepower and has 10-inch-wide tires. He’s also competed in the past in an ISMA (International Super Modified Association) super modified car with a 468-cubic inch Chevrolet big block that generates about 800 horsepower and considered to be the fastest short track racecars in America.

"The challenge of trying to make a car go faster than everyone else in the garage and on the track, the friends I've made along the way, and the shear aspect of driving a car that fast are the best things about the sport for me,” Timmons said. “At the last ISMA race I competed in, we were reaching speeds of 150 mph.”

A 2011 graduate of Windham High School, Timmons says that the worst part of auto racing for drivers is the amount of money it takes just to be there, let alone to be competitive, so he said the GNG’s sponsorship is a blessing.

“We are very fortunate to be able to build a lot of the things we need to race in-house, but the costs of everything that we can't build or the things that we have to have continue to go up in price every year,” he said. “We have a couple of small sponsors that help us out with the weekly costs of new tires or fuel, but my dad and I fund the majority of it out of our own pockets.”

He’s worked for his father since he was 12 and is a machinist and a welder at his father’s shop, Timmons Machine & Fabrication Inc. of Windham, when not racing super modified cars.

For the 2023 season, Timmons says he plans to continue racing at the Star Speedway in New Hampshire and on the 350 SMAC Tour with his small block super modified car.

“We have races in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York planned with that car,” Timmons said. “My dad and I built a brand-new big block super modified last season. We plan on racing part time in the New England Super Modified Series and the International Super Modified Association with that car in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and a trip to Berlin, Michigan in July for a special two-day race event.” <

WMS Altitude Program makes a difference through book donations

By Matt Pascarella

Shortly before the beginning of the holiday season’s school vacation, eighth-grade students at Windham Middle School’s Altitude Program, with the help of seventh graders within the program, helped gather a substantial stack of books that were brought by the students to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Windham Middle School Altitude Program eighth graders
back from left, Rylynn Miller, Maddi Nolan, KJ Currier, Cam
Moreau, Izaiah Woodbury, Veronika Sullivan and Madi Cicci
donate books to the Giving Library at the Barbara Bush 
Children's Hospital in South Portland on Tuesday, Dec. 20.
Accepting the donation is Child Life Program Manager
Sharon Granville, front. COURTESY PHOTO 
The Altitude Program is one of service, and experiential learning. It stresses being a significant member of the community and its goal is to create more hands-on learning opportunities. For many of the students in the program the typical school setting can be harder for them, so the Altitude Program is a connector for them academically as well as personally. It aims to help students make relationships, build community and work on social skills and communication.

In early December, Windham Middle School teachers Lisa Anderson, Autumn Carsen Cook and Rich Meserve asked the members of the Altitude Program what they can do to make a difference and show compassion.

The eighth graders came up with the idea to donate books to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center.

“We decorated boxes and put them around Windham Middle School and at the Field-Allen School,” said Windham eighth grader Madi Cicci. “The principal, announced there were boxes for book donations every morning.”

Letters went out to staff and parents informing them of the need to collect new books.

“Giving is kind and thoughtful,” said Windham eighth-grader Izaiah Woodbury. “It felt good to donate the books.”

Woodbury said it gives the kids who aren’t able to go to school the ability to learn through the donated books. If they cannot be visited by their families during the holidays, the books are a gift.

Windham eighth-grader KJ Currier said it felt good to donate the books. It meant a lot that they were able to bring the kids at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital something around the holidays.

“We have some core belief statements for students and some ‘I can’ statements,” said WMS Principal Drew Patin. “One is feeling a part of the community. The book donations fits in terms of being able to see what their impact is on other people.”

Patin said another of the statements is around engagement and seeing themselves in the curriculum but also feeling like what they are doing has a broader impact.

The students say that they are really grateful for being able to learn off campus and out in the community.

“We are really appreciative of their work and generosity and thinking of others,” said Sharon Granville, Child Life Program Manager at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. “It helped us to add books to our Giving Library; we offer a library where families have the opportunity to come and look through different books for different ages of patients and any family that’s staying with us has the opportunity to select a book and use it and thankfully be able to keep it.”

Granville said what’s great about book donations is it allows the hospital to keep up with frequent titles kids are enjoying.

She said that when you are in the hospital, you don’t always have as many choices as you might want so by having a nice book selection, they are able to provide the children with an appropriate choice which allows them to select whatever book they want.

The small actions of the students in the Altitude Program made a big difference for kids who are not feeling well.

“I feel accomplished,” said Windham eighth grader Maddi Nolan. “It made me feel like I did a good deed for the community. It was important because we gave the kids what they needed and deserved. Some kids would not be able to see their families while in the hospital, so I thought this would make them feel happy."

Nolan also said she learned to take a pause and appreciate what she has. <

Friday, January 6, 2023

‘Wreaths Across America’ a transformative experience for WPD officers

By Lorraine Glowczak

After five years volunteering as police escorts for the Wreaths Across America (WAA) caravan, providing safety at intersections as it traveled through Maine, Windham Police Department (WPD) Detective Eugene Gallant and Sergeant Jason Burke received an opportunity this year to participate in the entire six-day convoy that travels to Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington D.C.

Windham Police DCetective Eugene Gallant and Sgt. Jason
Burke helped to lay 247,000 wreaths on the graves of fallen
soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery as part of the annual
Wreaths Across America event. They experienced many
meaningful moments on the trip and say it made a
significant impact on their lives. SUBMITTED PHOTO   
In its 30th year, this annual 730-mile one-way procession begins at the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine where the wreaths are made and then delivered the first week of December. Upon arrival, Det. Gallant and Sgt. Burke helped to lay 247,000 wreaths, transported in 18 semi-trailers, onto the graves of fallen soldiers. They both agreed that laying wreaths and saluting fallen soldiers were very humbling experiences.

“Gene and I thought it was a great way to honor our soldiers and the people who sacrificed their lives for our country and the freedoms offered here,” Burke said. “Since we began escorting for WAA, it became a bucket list item for us to travel to Arlington to show our appreciation, so when the opportunity arose to be a part of this convoy, we jumped at it.”

Gallant and Burke also participated in wreath-laying ceremonies at the William H. Taft Memorial, JFK Memorial, RFK Memorial, USS Maine Memorial, the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They also paid their respects by rendering a salute at the gravesite of fellow WPD officer Justin Hudnor’s grandfather, a World War II veteran. Although there were many significant events that took place during the six-day period, the sergeant and detective shared two meaningful experiences.

“During the trip to D.C., we made many stops along the way at various New England towns,” Gallant said. “At one stop at a War Memorial in New Jersey, a woman approached us and asked us to transport a stone to Arlington. The stone had the name of her son engraved on it. He was stationed in Afghanistan and was on a convoy detail when he was hit and killed by an IED [improvised explosive device]. She asked us to take him. One of the truckers [delivering the wreaths] was a veteran who had a tour in Afghanistan and asked if he could take her son to D.C. with him. Of course, we gave the stone to the trucker to travel with a fellow comrade. This is an experience that Jason and I definitely did not expect. This made a great impact on us.”

Another significant experience happened while placing 184 wreaths at the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, a memorial for those who did not survive the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks. Burke said that a Pentagon Police lieutenant explained the monument and what the layout meant.

“The direction of the benches signifies the direction the plane flew into the building,” Burke said. “The names on the benches are laid out so that if you are looking toward the sky, it represents those on the plane. The names on the ground are of people in the building. It is a very powerful and meaningful memorial that Gene and I would encourage all to attend.”

The WAA tradition began in 1992 when the Worcester Wreath Company had a surplus of 5,000 wreaths, and the owner of the company, Morrill Worcester recalled a powerful experience of his own. He knew immediately what he had to do with the extra wreaths.

The story began when Worcester was 12 years old in 1963. He won a trip to Washington D.C. while working as a delivery boy for the Bangor Daily News.

“His first trip to our nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him,” the Worcester Wreath Company website stated. “This experience followed him throughout his life and successful career, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”

So, in 1992, Worcester remembered his boyhood experience at Arlington, and he realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s veterans. “With the aid of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.”

The tradition continued, and in 2007, Wreaths Across America became a non-profit organization.

Although U.S. veterans are honored and remembered on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Sgt. Gallant and Det. Burke understand more profoundly the appreciation the veterans deserve daily.

“We like to encourage others to honor and remember those who have sacrificed so that we may have the freedom to live the life of our dreams,” Gallant said.

For more information about the Worcester Wreath Company, one can peruse the company’s website at To learn more about Wreath Across America go to<

Town hopes sidewalk improvements spur South Windham growth

By Ed Pierce

The revitalization of South Windham is yet another step closer after members of the Windham Town council have endorsed submission of an application for Community Development Block Grant funds to move forward with a concept planning study for sidewalk reconstruction in the area.

A project to rebuild an existing sidewalk along the east side of
Main Street from the Mountain Division Trail to Depot Street
and on the west side from the railroad tracks to Depot Street
is intended to improve safety for pedestrians and help spur
economic growth in South Windham Village.
Town councilors approved the application during a December meeting and the application is expected to be completed and submitted by the end of January. The proposed concept planning study would review the most cost-effective way to reconstruct existing sidewalks and construct new sidewalks running from Depot Street in South Windham to the Mountain Division Trail.

Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told councilors that the proposed sidewalk improvements are intended to improve safety for pedestrians in South Windham and boost economic growth along Main Street there.

According to Tibbetts, the project would rebuild some 1,250 feet of existing sidewalk along the east side of Main Street from the Blue Seal store near the Mountain Division Trail crossing to Depot Street in the center of South Windham Village.

He said other planned improvements would replace old and failing retaining walls along the 1,250-foot section of rebuilt sidewalk on the east side of Main Street and to install pedestrian lighting along that same 1,250-foot section of rebuilt sidewalk.

The project would also create 1,250 feet of new 5-foot-wide paved sidewalk with granite curbing along the west side of Main Street from the Mountain Division Trail crossing to Depot Street in the center of South Windham Village.

During last June’s Annual Town Meeting, Windham voters authorized a $275,000 bond for creation of a sidewalk from Blue Seal Feed on Gray Road to Depot Street in South Windham sometime in 2024 or 2025.

The new sidewalk coincides with a project that was completed last fall that repaved the parking lot at the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District at 35 Main St. in South Windham which shares a driveway with the town’s South Windham Fire Station. Reconfiguring the parking lot was 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. Tenants of the Soil and Water Conservation District building, hikers using nearby trails, individuals using nearby businesses, and the town itself have benefitted from the updated parking lot.

“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.”

Windham councilors unanimously voted in December 2020 to sell the old vacant South Windham Fire Station at 8 Main St. for $125,000 to Great Falls Construction of Gorham, owned by Jon and Cindy Smith. They plan to turn the property into a brewhouse and restaurant.

South Windham Village itself was once a thriving industrial and commercial location because of its access to Maine Central railroad and situated near the Presumpscot River but today the area is mostly residential and town councilors and the Windham Economic Development Corporation are seeking for ways to spur economic growth there.

Last fall, an agreement was announced to clean up and demolish the old Keddy Mill site at 7 Depot St. 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 Keddy Mill site say that the former industrial building on the site will be razed and contaminated materials there will be removed.

In the past year, Windham and Gorham have agreed to collaborate on a master plan focused on developing a community guided vision for the villages of South Windham and Little Falls. <