Friday, March 31, 2023

Windham student to represent USA at world dog agility competition in England

By Ed Pierce

A Windham student is walking on air this week after learning that she’s been selected by the American Kennel Club to compete with two of her dogs in the 2023 AKC Junior Open Agility Championships in England this July.

Annaka Miller of Windham, 16, has been
selected to represent the USA by the
American Kennel Club as a competitor
in the 2023 AKC Junior Open Agility
Championships in two events with her
dogs Shamu, left, and Cody. The 
competition will be held in England in
July and Miller needs to raise $9,000
to make the trip.
Annaka Miller, 16, will compete as an alternate on the USA team in the Small Dog category with her Corgi, Shamu, and she also earned a place on the USA team in the Intermediate Dog category with her border collie, Cody. Miller is a sophomore at Gray New Gloucester High School.

She’s one of 24 junior dog handlers and their K-9 companions to earn a position on the USA Junior Team for the global competition which tests teen competitors at the highest level of dog agility.

“Training daily and traveling the world to compete at the highest level of dog agility takes mental and physical skills, commitment, dedication and heart”, said USA Coach Susan Cochran. “The Junior Open Agility World Championships is just as spectacular as the Olympics.”

Competitors in the world championships and their handlers undergo two rounds of testing at the event measuring jumping ability and agility. USA team members represent 14 states across America including Maine, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Miller said that she first learned about the competition at a boundless junior agility camp from some previous participants.

"I’ve been working with dogs for about 13 years since I was 3 ½ when I started,” she said. “I have six dogs of all different breeds.”

According to Miller, she’s been training with Shamu and Cody over the winter months to get ready for England and she believes the standard event in the Junior World Agility Competition will be the hardest for her.

“The most difficult event to train for is the Standard course and I think there are more things that could go wrong in the standard course because it has more of a variety of obstacles,” she said. “It changes by week usually in the winter less due to snow, usually we train each dog at least an hour on different things not always agility related.”

“Working with dogs in general can pose a significant challenge all in itself”, Miller said.

“I think a lot of the time it can be hard to focus and deal with distractions,” she said.

To best prepare for the competition, Miller says that she’s been perfecting everything for the agility courses and sharpening skills that she and her dogs already have.

“It takes a lot of time, hard work, and perseverance to get ready for this and build the connection we need,” she said.

Spending time with her dogs getting ready to compete makes all her hours of training worthwhile.

“Cody is 7 and Shamu is 10. They both have two personalities, crazy when they are getting ready to run, and snuggly before and after,” she said. “They both adapt to various places well.”

Miller, who is interested in pursuing a career in radiology while continuing to work with dogs in the future, says she’s excited about visiting England and the opportunity to experience a different culture there.

“I’m not sure what to expect but I’m hoping to have a good time and doing my best and hoping the dogs do too,” Miller said. “My friends at school don't really seem to understand what the competition is but they are happy for me. Friends at shows and family are super excited and really proud, just ready to see and hear about the whole thing.”

To get to the event, Miller figures she has to raise about $9,000. Unlike the Olympics, these junior competitors do not have sponsors and are responsible for funding their trip.

Cochran said the public can help them through donations which go directly to the USA Team, a specific handler such as Miller or a dog breed. Donations may be made through the Team’s PayPal account: PAYPAL.ME/AGILITYJUNIORS

Miller said that she also will be doing various fundraising at some local events in the near future to help defray her expenses for the trip. <

Hopkins Dam key to erosion prevention on Little Sebago Lake

By Abby Wilson

Little Sebago Lake has many special features, including an outlet dam that regulates the water level to mitigate erosion and prevent lakeside property damage. Hopkins Dam is owned by the Little Sebago Lake Association and Rod Bernier has managed the dam since 1996.

Hopkins Dam was built on Little Sebago
Lake in 1890 and continues to regulate
water levels on the lake to prevent erosion
and mitigate water damage to lakeside
As the dam keeper there, his basic role is to operate and maintain the dam, says Bernier, and his regular duties include checking water level and regulating outflow.

Hopkins Dam is an outlet dam, so Bernier pays careful attention to the water level because the state mandates that the lake be kept at a certain level from April 15 to October 15.

The dam keeper must also develop emergency plans with the state and Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District in case the dam fails.

The last time a dam failed on Little Sebago Lake was in 1861.

“After a period of heavy rain, it washed out everything between here and the ocean,” says Bernier. There were reports of the Presumpscot River flowing backwards due to flooding.

A new dam was built in 1890, and Bernier says it has “certainly stood and held to the test of time.”

The Hopkins Dam was purchased by the Little Sebago Lake Association in 1952 from the S.D. Warren Paper Mill for $2,500 plus $400 to cover surveying costs.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Little Sebago Lake Association can receive funding through donations. Memberships are not required from residents but annual donations have been able to cover most expenses including operation of the dam and water quality testing.

The association tests for water clarity and oxygen and with the help of students at Saint Joseph’s College, they also test for chlorophyll and phosphorous.

Lake Association President, Pam Wilkinson, says “membership has been great.” In fact, last year the gate mechanism needed an upgrade and $76,000 was raised. Lake side residents contributed largely to this project, as well as the towns of Gray and Windham.

This gate mechanism is very important for regulating the water level of the dam but is also key in allowing fish to pass through. There are no salmon species in Little Sebago Lake, so the dam does not have migrating fish, however, year-round, a small area (about 4 inches) is left open for freshwater fish to exit and go downstream.

There is a gauge installed on the face of the dam and Bernier must watch this gauge very closely. Ideally, the gauge remains at 0 during the summer. As of March 14, the gauge measured 19 inches below 0.

In the later winter months, water levels should be low to account for spring rain and snowmelt. Keeping the water level low in winter will prevent flooding and “preserve the shoreline so the ice doesn’t compromise it,” says Wilkinson. When ice melts, it tears the shoreline up as it retreats. This causes erosion of the banks and destruction of property.

The lake association has noticed changes due to climate change. When there is less spring rain or snowmelt and more summer droughts, it results in a low lake level and a higher water temperature. Also, sunlight reaches lower and plants grow where they shouldn’t.

A low lake level affects recreation. As the lake lowers, more bottom-dwelling glacially formed rocks are exposed and are often hit by boat propellers.

Wilkinson said, “Some summers residents tell me ‘that rock grew.’”

Bernier says that as dam keeper he gets many requests.

“People ask me to let water in and open the dam,” he said.

This is of course not possible since Hopkins Dam is an outlet dam and it only can let water out.

It can be tricky to predict these seasonal rain and snow events.

To account for climate change, it seems the dam could just let less water out but Bernier says, “We can’t take the chance with flooding and the number one concern is safety of people downflow, so even if summer levels are low, we can’t take the risk.”

The Little Sebago Lake Association’s mission is “To protect, restore, and improve our lake’s water quality and fragile ecosystem.” The lakeside residents are a huge help in this effort and Bernier says Little Sebago is a “beautiful lake and great community.” Wilkinson speaks of a large rock that many people enjoy jumping into the water from and says “It’s a right-of-passage.”

When Wilkinson asks for volunteers and donations for projects or just general support for the 30 miles of shoreline they manage, the people of Little Sebago Lake show that they care.

“The Little Sebago Lake community is such a special community. We do have people that are concerned and support us,” she said. “This is the way it should be. We have a mission and we hold true to that.”

To learn more about the Hopkins Dam and the Little Sebago Lake Association, visit<

Friday, March 24, 2023

Windham third grader’s fundraiser makes big difference for community

By Matt Pascarella

Windham third-grader Eva Doughty really likes helping people. When the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry visited her class, she became inspired. She wanted to help those in need have food and clothes during the cold winter. She decided to organize a fundraiser and created her own Polar Dip event at Sebago Lake on Tuesday, Jan. 24 where about 25 people attended.

Eva Doughty, left, Harper Maxfield and Troy Doughty hold
up the check from Eva's Polar Dip fundraiser from which 
she was able to donate more than $2,200 to the Windham
Food Pantry and the Windham Clothes Closet during the
Windham Town Council meeting on Tuesday, March 21.
At that event, Doughty and several other students from her neighborhood took the plunge into the icy lake waters.

Through determination and persistence, Doughty was able to raise more than $2,200 for the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry at her Polar Dip.

On Tuesday, March 21 during a Windham Town Council meeting, she presented a check to Collette Gagnon, Windham Social Services Administrative Assistant and operator of the Windham Clothes Closet, and Windham’s General Assistance Manager Rene Daniel.

“I decided to do the Polar Dip because I was always curious what it would feel like to jump into the ice-cold water in the winter,” said Doughty. “I thought it was crazy enough that people would donate to me for doing it.”

In creating the event, she distributed flyers around her neighborhood and Doughty and her family also created a flier that was posted to Facebook from which she received additional donations from her friends and family.

When the donations first started coming in, Doughty said that she felt grateful that people were helping and recalled how was happy she was raising money for a good cause.

Eva’s parents, Chris and Sara Doughty, said it was really great to know that their community was so willing to help other families and support the efforts of their daughter to help those experiencing tough times.

Her parents say that they are very proud of Eva and that she took the initiative to come up with the concept and idea for the Polar Dip and followed through to make an impact in the community. They say she is a thoughtful and generous person with a very kind heart.

All the money she raised was donated directly to the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry and will benefit Windham residents in need.

Gagnon said she gets a lot of requests for items such as milk and eggs and the money raised through the Polar Dip fundraiser will make it easier for the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry to provide these necessities as needed.

“I am totally amazed by the generosity of Eva Doughty wanting to organize this fundraiser,” she said. “She’s a wonderful citizen and a great leader. For a third grader to think of and execute a fundraiser like this makes her ahead of her years.”

Windham Town Councilor Jarrod Maxfield agrees.

“It important to recognize Eva and the other kids because they deserve it for stepping up and doing a fairly difficult thing for such a great cause,” Maxfield said. “A third grader inspired a small group to do a big thing which is an example to all of us in town of how to step up and help your community because that’s what it’s all about.”

Eva Doughty said she’s pleased that people donated to her fundraiser and helped it to become a success.

“I felt really happy that my Polar Dip could help less fortunate families have meals and clothes for the winter that they might not have had otherwise,” she said. “I want to help people the same way every year and I want to get the event bigger and bigger so I can help even more people.” <

WHS’ Kindness Crew strives to break down stigma

By Jolene Bailey

Extracurricular and afterschool clubs hold numerous involvement opportunities for students to put their best foot forward and engage in subjects in which they take interest.

Members of Windham High School's Mental
Health Advocacy Club gather at the school.
Commonly known as the 'Kindness Crew,'
the club's mission is to spread kindness 
among students while creating a safe and
welcoming environment for everyone.

Windham High School’s Mental Health Advocacy Club is commonly known as the Kindness Crew. Their mission is to spread kindness among peers while creating a safe, welcoming environment for anyone to attend. Students acquire strategies to support mental health while breaking down stigmas associated with it.

Meetings take place on Thursday mornings during a PRIDE block in school, from 7:35 to 8:05 a.m. It is an open space for anyone to interact and start conversations with people in the club that they may never have met. Peers spend this time being introduced to new plans or ideas that the club could address.

Kindness Crew advisor Melissa Dubois, who has been working at Windham High School for 24 years, regularly provides students with an agenda, with an activity or a surprise. The point behind this strategy is to keep students engaged and to spread kindness.

“We have had guest speakers and have attended summits with Be The Influence. Some seniors have taken on a leadership role, such as Delana Perkins and Gwen Kim, with organizing events and PRIDE activities,” said Dubois.

Dubois has been running the Kindness Crew for two years. This school year there are about 30 to 40 members who are all active participants while learning about stigma.

Stigma prevents people from speaking up and getting support for issues they are dealing with. Statistics show, just in the farming industry, men represent 95.9 percent of suicide deaths, with a mean age of 57 at the time of death.

“The club was the idea of a former graduate, Hannah McFarland, who wanted to draw attention to mental health issues. I feel it has been successful as the club has doubled in size, not to mention the strategies shared and the opportunities to grow,” said Dubois.

Along with discussing mental health topics openly, students also engage in community service. This school year, Kindness Crew students have planned activities, while taking leadership in others. Some activities they worked on earlier in the school year include the annual Trunk or Treat, youth summits, and participating in last month’s Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Polar Dip.

Delana Perkins is a Windham High School senior who has been a member of the Kindness Crew since her junior year. She joined instead of spending time with her friends in the morning to help others in the community.

“My favorite part about this club is the bond we have, between fellow high schoolers and the community. The club brings awareness about mental health, where everyone finds many people have their own struggles, making people realize they are not alone,” said Perkins.

Spring is a busy season for the Kindness Crew members. Upcoming events for the students include the Smashing Stigma Campaign, the Yellow Tulip Project and a variety of Windham Parks and Recreation experiences.

The hope for students participating in these events is to help people of all kinds to feel more comfortable and willing to talk openly about mental health, while spreading awareness and being kind.

The Kindness Crew is all about promoting resilience and mental stamina to help enhance communication within, Dubois said.

Those are one of many ways shown they can interact with the community to spread positivity, she said.

Mental health can have a large impact on a person’s daily life. Whether it’s giving someone a thank you letter or listening to a person who wants to be heard, kindness can go a long way. <

Friday, March 17, 2023

RSU 14 students attempt to 'eat their way through alphabet'

By Masha Yurkevich

From a young age, children can remember being told to eat their vegetables, and RSU 14 wants to introduce children to fruits, vegetables and healthy grains that may be new to them during March Madness nutrition month.

RSU 14 is celebrating March Madness by introducing
children and their families to a wide variety of fruits and
vegetables and giving them the opportunity to try new
flavors and recipes and promote healthy eating.
Jeanne Reilly is the Director of School Nutrition at RSU14 and is responsible for the of all aspects of the district’s school nutrition program including developing a budget, writing monthly menus within the USDA Federal School Nutrition Guidelines, staffing the six school kitchens and training the teams, procurement and purchasing, and maintaining operations within all of the federal school nutrition program regulations.

She has been working in school nutrition for 25 years, first as the director of school nutrition for Westbrook School Department, then as the director of school nutrition for both Westbrook and Windham, and finally just for RSU 14.

“March is National Nutrition Month, and we have a tradition of celebrating all month long by eating our way through the alphabet,” says Reilly. “We started on March 1, featuring fruits and vegetables that start with the letter A, and will end on March 31 with vegetables ending with Z. We primarily focus on fruits and veggies, but we occasionally add in a healthy grain, such as quinoa on our Q Day, and we just served freekeh on our F Day.”

Reilly said students have done this every year since she’s worked for Windham and Raymond schools.

“The purpose is to introduce children and their families to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and to give them the opportunity to try new flavors and recipes. We want healthy eating to be exciting and fun,” she said.

Reilly has been working in the food and nutrition industry for 40 years, from hospitals to the Women Infants and Children program (WIC), to working as the director of food service for long term care facilities.

“Finally, as I was seeking out a better work life balance, I really found my lifelong passion in school nutrition,” said Reilly. “I truly believe that school nutrition programs, feeding school children breakfast and lunch, have the unique opportunity to influence the eating habits of children. We are building up the next generation of eaters, fueling them for the future and one of our goals is to inspire children to be more adventurous eaters and to develop a love for fruits and vegetables and healthy food.”

According to Reilly, during the "eat your way through the alphabet" program, RSU 14 likes to provide nutrition information, cooking tips and recipes for the fruits and veggies that they are featuring.

“Each day, our social media content (Facebook and Instagram) is filled with posts about what we are doing and providing recipes that families can try at home,” she said.

On a regular day for Reilly, you may find her working at a register during meal service because they always seem to be perpetually short staffed, or planning menus, managing food orders, or checking in with each of their six kitchens to make sure everyone has everything they need to prepare breakfast and lunch as needed. That’s in addition to emails, budgeting, marketing, planning equipment purchases and all of these things are part of a typical workday for Reilly.

Reilly said that in Maine, school meals continue to be available to all school children at no cost and this is a great benefit to families during these trying times, when inflation continues to significantly impact household budgets.

Families can save money on their grocery budgets by having their children eat breakfast and lunch at school, Reilly said.

Studies show that the healthiest meals that children eat are the meals they eat at school, so healthy school meals at no cost is a win/win for families.

Nutrition information, cooking tips, and recipes for the fruits and vegetables that are being featured this month can be found on the Windham Raymond School Nutrition Program’s Facebook page and on Instagram at lunch4kids_rsu14. <

Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing gears up for spring and summer housing repairs

By Lorraine Glowczak

The Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing is getting ready for spring. With its mission to repair homes for older adults and veterans in the Sebago Lakes region who want to age safely in-place, fundraising efforts are in full swing to make those efforts happen successfully. The National Fuller Center refers to this time of year as March Madness.

Sebago Lakes region Fuller Center for Housing volunteers
Ron Koster, left, and Allen Sample work on a project for
a senior citizen in Windham last year. The organization
is seeking volunteers and monetary donations for
upcoming projects in the community this spring.
“Last year, we helped over 18 families with projects ranging from repairing steps and ramps, replacing flooring and sills,” Fuller Center President, Diane Dunton Bruni said. “Our largest project was building a farmer’s porch for Linda and John Gregoire of Windham.”

John was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) 15 years ago and he is confined to a mobile chair and makes his living room his year-round living space with no safe exit out of their home in case of an emergency.

“We built a farmer’s porch with the help of local volunteers and cyclists who came to our community in July,” Bruni said. “John and Linda can enjoy more space and see the beautiful outdoors.”

As a recipient of the Fuller Housing projects Linda Gregoire expressed her gratitude for the work completed at her and her husband’s property.

“I don’t just speak for John and myself, but I hope I speak for everyone you helped,” she said. “I want to start with a quote that epitomizes the spirit of volunteerism by a woman who dedicated her life to helping the unseen. In the words of Mother Teresa, ‘You have not truly lived until you have done something for someone who can do nothing to repay you.’”

Gregoire said that serving the unseen, the elderly, the disabled, and veterans (who are often both), is a worthy calling.

“We should remember the unseen weren’t always unseen,” she said. “They were productive members of our community. So, to have a group of caring people come into your life to fix or build and repair something you used to be able to do but can no longer do is an unbelievable experience and blessing.”

This year, the local Fuller Center has many more projects coming up.

“We need continued funds to ensure we can continue our efforts,” Bruni said. “Labor is free unless we need specialized services and materials are bought at the lowest cost possible.”

One of the ways the organization does fundraising is by cycling. William Turner, a local cyclist, and Bruni are raising money through their cycling efforts. You can find them at Fuller Center Bike Adventure at

“We certainly could not fulfill our mission of providing adequate shelter and a safe living space for our older adults, like the Gregoires, without the help of area volunteers and businesses,” Bruni said. “Your donations help us help others. Won’t you consider donating to make others stay safely at home?”

To donate go to, the Fuller Center Bike Adventure or contact them at<

Friday, March 10, 2023

Windham's David Field to serve as umpire for Eastern Regional Softball Tournament

By Matt Pascarella

Umpire and Windham resident David Field is about to enter his 24th year as a Little League volunteer and first got involved as a coach when his children were in T-ball. Through the years, he moved through the coaching progressions in Little League Majors softball and on Feb. 23, Field was chosen from over 250 applicants to umpire at the Eastern Region Little League Softball Tournament in Bristol, Connecticut from July 23rd to 28th. The game will be televised on ESPN+.

David Field of Windham was recently selected to umpire at
the Eastern Regional Little League Softball Tournament in
Bristol, Connecticut from July 23 to July 28. The games
will also be televised on ESPN+.
“[Umpiring] is a fun and rewarding experience,” said Field. “Since I began as a coach, I can easily put myself in the coaches’ position. When I make a call, I will sometimes take the extra moment to explain my call to the player and/or coach. The whole experience is to teach kids and coaches and to make it a fun time. Kids beat themselves up enough when they miss a play. I try and take that moment to let them know how to fix the mistake.”

According to Field, there is no better feeling than walking onto a field and have players start whispering “It’s Mr. Field, he is my favorite umpire.”

Field had the privilege to umpire in the District 6 baseball and softball tournaments last year. He’s volunteered for the 11-12-year-old State of Maine Little League Baseball Tournament in Waldoboro and the 9-10-year-old Little League Softball Tournament in Westbrook.

The District 6 administrator, Bill Finley had encouraged Field to put in for the Eastern Region Tournaments in Bristol, Connecticut.

Finley said Field is outstanding as an umpire and is someone who goes above and beyond, working four to five nights a week. Field makes Finley’s job easy. Field helps Finley organize the tournaments on the computer and will umpire just about anywhere he is asked to go. Field is very deliberate with a great strike zone and calm demeanor.

Another aspect that has kept Field coming back year after year are the individuals with whom he works. Field said being an umpire is part of a brotherhood. Communication is key and you need to have each other’s backs on the field. Little League umpires are not paid but get a fair share of hot dogs and hamburgers.

“David is a very experienced umpire of many years,” said fellow umpire Stephen Schwartz. “He knows the rules well and he has a great ability to think on his feet. Dave will not only bring his considerable experience and expertise to the umpires at the tournament, but he is also very personable and really a delightful umpire to have as a partner in a game.”

According to Field, one of the toughest challenges is during the regular season where umpires might do a lot of games by themselves. When it comes to tournament work, umpires may not be used to three or four individuals and the mechanics that entails on the field. The process of working with other umpires can be a big adjustment.

Standish’s Shawn Falkner will also umpire during the Eastern Region Little League Softball Tournament. Field said it will be fun to work with him as well as having exposure to other umpires from the northeast. Depending on how this goes, Field would even consider a Little League World Series Tournament.

“As a coach, I have worked eleven years with Dave Field on both the baseball and softball sides of Windham Little League,” said former Windham Little League coach Stephen Napolitano. “Dave understands age-appropriate situations, and he has never wavered teaching youth players the proper rules and guidelines of the game. Dave brings integrity and incredible experience to represent our Windham community so well in Bristol, Connecticut.”

Field has also worked on the Windham Little League Board of Directors and knows what it takes to run a Little League organization. He said it isn’t easy and anyone who steps forth isn’t given enough credit.

“Hats off to Windham Little League for the work you have done and will continue to do. It is fun, tiring, but totally rewarding,” said Field.

Finley said Field will make the state and district very proud during the Eastern Regional Tournament. <

Newspaper reaches 10-year milestone in region

On March 1, The Windham Eagle newspaper surpassed a decade of publishing success, reaching its 10-year anniversary of serving the Windham and Raymond communities.

Owned by Kelly and Niels Mank, The Windham Eagle published its first edition on March 1, 2013 and remains focused on providing positive and solutions-based news to the Sebago Lakes Region of Maine. The newspaper is headquartered in Windham and recently moved into new offices at 585 Roosevelt Trail.

The first edition of The Windham Eagle newspaper was
published on March 1, 2013. As of this issue, the newspaper
has now published 518 editions since its inception.
Kelly Mank said that she never had any aspirations of owning a newspaper before launching The Windham Eagle.

“When presented with the idea, my initial response was ‘I know nothing about the newspaper industry or journalism.’ I remember sitting in the booth at Bucks Naked BBQ with Michelle Libby, my husband Niels, my father Bob and Dave Debree saying, ‘if we are going to do it, it is going to be different.’ I had no idea what that meant. We thought about it for one week. That next week we met again at Bucks Naked BBQ and said, if we are going to do this, it is going to be something everyone can read… from ages 2 to 102. It will be focused on the positive of our community. We would spotlight the youth and their accomplishments as they are the future, we would highlight the veterans and their history for their dedication to our community and we would partner with local businesses to help create a thriving local economy.”

She said a lot of people told her the paper wouldn’t make it, that newspapers are dying and that positive news isn’t real news and can’t work.

“With a lot of dedication and the commitment we made to ourselves and the community, we have survived,” Mank said. “The newspaper’s success did not come easy or without debt and sacrifice, however, it has proven to be a positive tool and resource for our towns, schools, families, non-profits, organizations and businesses.”

Advertising Director Melissa Carter joined The Windham Eagle in October 2013 and said that the greatest misconception people may have about the paper is that it operates with much more of a crew than it actually does.

“Unlike most other publications, we are basically a two-man army. We don’t have a big team and still manage to put out more pages on a weekly basis than any other newspaper in Maine,” Carter said. “Ed Pierce writes and oversees the stories done by our writers, while I do 95 percent of the ad and page designs and 100 percent of the sales. We do have a couple behind-the-scenes people taking care of billing and administrative duties.”

She said consumers don’t really realize that 100 percent of the newspaper’s revenue comes from supporting advertisers which is why she encourages all readers to support the local businesses they see in the paper.

“I love my job. I like meeting new people and love working with local businesses to help market and brand them so they can grow,” Carter said. “Being able to get creative and come up with ideas to contribute to their overall success is challenging and rewarding. I am not your average ‘salesperson,’ in fact I went to school for graphic design and its where my passion lies.”

Through the years, The Windham Eagle has had three different editors, Michelle Libby, Lorraine Glowczak and currently, Ed Pierce.

Libby said there were some amazing things that happened at the beginning, like a woman who called the paper and told her there's no way there's that much positive stuff going on in Windham.

“She wanted us to stop delivering the paper to her house. I think we've proved her wrong over the years,” Libby said. “The other great thing that happened was after we wrote a story about a woman with a brain tumor. A few weeks after it was published, we received a call from a man in California. He wanted to get in touch with the young woman with the tumor. His family member sent him a birthday present wrapped in The Windham Eagle. It was the edition with the story. He was a brain doctor and had contact with someone who worked with people with her exact type of tumor. We did get them in touch with one another.” 
Libby said she attributes several factors for the newspaper’s success.

“I think one of the reasons the Eagle has been so successful is the team's willingness to keep it positive. We never got involved in drama or created the drama. We provided hyper-local news that people wanted to read about,” she said. “We worked with veterans, the schools, businesses and so many community members who were doing great things. Another thing that makes the Eagle successful is Melissa Carter and her ability to work fast and get great advertising results. Those business partners have been great at letting the paper know when things are happening. Melissa's consistency has been helpful in making the paper look great and keeping the ads and layout fresh.”

Glowczak said there are so many reasons why she loves writing and working for the newspaper.

“I would say that writing for a positive and solution- based newspaper that focuses on all the wonderful aspects the Raymond and Windham communities have to offer gives our readers ‘a breath of fresh air’ in the midst of divisive news reporting. I love being a part of that ‘fresh air.’ If given another number one reason why I love writing for the Eagle is the fact that the publisher and other Eagle staff believed in and supported me while I was learning the ropes of journalism.”

Pierce has served as The Windham Eagle’s Managing Editor since May 2020 and says he finds working with the newspaper’s freelance writers one of the more gratifying aspects of his job.

“After almost 48 years in journalism, I enjoy helping some of these young writers create interesting articles for our readers,” Pierce said. “I appreciate their enthusiasm and their willingness to go above and beyond to keep our publication filled with great positive stories about this community.”

Carter pointed out that The Windham Eagle is the only publication in the area that is direct mailed to every home and business in Windham and Raymond.

“We saturate the market more efficiently than any other advertising source. I believe in our paper so much and wouldn’t be able to sell it to businesses if I didn’t. Because we go to everyone, there is no question as to who your ad will reach. We focus on the good going on in the community. We bring stories to the readers that they will not find anywhere else. When people see their neighbors, friends, family and students in the paper, it creates a personal connection and is what makes us so unique and highly read. And our customers make us successful. Without them we would not be able to pay the high cost of mailing and printing so many copies. We have a loyal base that support us week after week.”

Along the way, the newspaper created the annual Eagle Choice Awards, where readers cast votes for their favorite and most trusted businesses in the Lakes Region. Through the years it has grown to become one of the most popular activities in the area, culminating with a gathering of award recipients hosted by The Windham Eagle. The newspaper also sponsors regular advertising initiatives specifically intended to raise funds for local nonprofits and various charitable activities. These special initiatives directly benefit organizations from throughout the community such as the Special Olympics, the Windham Veterans Association, the Windham High School Boosters Club and other activities helping residents locally.

Mank said that she’s learned a lot about the community in the 10 years of publishing The Windham Eagle.

“One of my biggest eye openers about our community is how many civic, non-profit and community organizations are in and attached to the Windham and Raymond areas,” she said. “There are times that we feel not everyone agrees with or understands the ‘why’ behind our positive and solutions-based mission however, the community support, involvement, and success continues to remind us of the importance of being different and supporting the community that thrives on positivity.

“I have learned that people will challenge and listen, people will question and learn, and people will speak and regret yet at the end of the day we have to understand that acceptance of opinions and views can be respected even when they may not align with personal views,” Mank said. “For me, it is hard not to make everyone happy, and harder not to take things personally however the last 10 years have taught me that we have a choice in how we want to view ideas and challenges and that our mindset is a decision we make every day.” <

Friday, March 3, 2023

WHS robotics teams compete in statewide competition

By Masha Yurkevich

This past Saturday, the Windham High School robotics teams 1810S 1810T competed in the Maine State Championships in South Portland. They had spent months preparing and qualifying for this event, making adjustments to their robot in order for it to perform at its best on the big day.

WHS Team 1810S consists of Francesca Lomonte, Victoria Lin, Pyper Harris, and Rosario Lydon, and WHS Team 1810T consists of Emma Kennedy, Ava Kennedy, and Colby Prescott. The two Windham teams competed with 72 other teams, 48 of which were in the high school division.
Windham High teams 1810S and 1810T competed in the
Maine State Robotics Championships last weekend in
South Portland. Team 1810S members are Francesca 
Lomonte, Victoria Lin, Pyper Harris and Rosario Lydon.
Team 18100T members are Emma Kennedy, Ava Kennedy,
and Colby Prescott. The two Windham teams competed 
against 72 other teams, including 48 from the high school

Michelle Lane is the coach for the WHS robotics teams. She started developing the team five years ago when she started teaching at Windham. She was the Robotics Team coach at the previous school where she taught and wanted to start a team in Windham.

The team was officially formed in the fall of 2019. Lane received a grant that would give the school a robotics kit if they purchased one. This would allow for two groups of students that could compete at the competitions, which was perfect for the five interested students.

All five students only had six weeks to work on one robot for the first competition that they attended in November of 2019, since the other kit did not arrive in time. There have been other students interested in joining, though the team has not been able to reach out due to limited transportation and the amount of robot kits that are available.

“The purpose of the Robotics Team is to have a place where students can apply what they learn in their academic classes and to practice critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork skills all while working on an engaging, hands-on robotics challenge” says Lane. “Team members learn a variety of skills that will help them be successful in life. The main one being able to follow the engineering design process, which can be applied to most issues the students may face in their life.”

The process allows students to understand the importance of researching, developing multiple solutions, analyzing those solutions to choose the best one, creating the solution, and then evaluating their solution. During this process students also learn organization, time management, dependability, adaptability, and communication skills.

The team names, 1810S and 1810T, have an interesting story behind them. When you register a team with VEX Robotics Competition, you need to pick numbers and a letter that will be used to distinguish the teams from one another. At Lane’s previous school, she just used the ending of the school phone number, so it would be easy to remember. She decided to do the same when she went to register the Windham High team, since the number was available.

Lane registered the first team as 1810W, W for Windham. The second kit did not arrive until later in the year, so she let that team choose their own letter, S for superior. When she registered the third team in 2021, she decided to just continue in the alphabet, T. Lane retired the W team, since it was all seniors last year and they helped start the team.

Francesca Lomonte is a sophomore at WHS and is part of the 1810S team. This is her fourth year in robotics. She did two years of robotics at the middle school level. She joined Lego League at the beginning of sixth grade and VRC the beginning of freshman year.

“In robotics, we work together to design, build, and program a robot that can compete in this year's VEX Robotics Competition game,” said Lomonte. “The game this year is called Spin Up, which is like disc golf but with more rules. Using only pieces that are put out by VEX Robotics, we have to find ways to play the game, decide on which one works best in relation to the amount of time we have and the materials we have access to, construct the robot, then program a controller to make the bot work, as well as two autonomous programs.”

Even though the two teams are separate, they work very well together and help each other when needed.

“If someone walked into the wood shop on a Tuesday afternoon, they would probably find seven teenagers laughing and working together to create something great with music playing in the background,” said Lomonte. “We're all able to be casual around each other and everyone on both teams from WHS works well together and you can tell that we really enjoy each other's company. We also have to put together an Engineering Design Notebook which marks all of our progress and work throughout the season and can help to win awards like the Judges Award.”

Though none of the teams ended up qualifying for the world robotics competition, Team 1810S ended up ranking seventh in skills and Team 1810T in 8th and team 1810S brought home the Inspire Award and team 1810T brought home the Judges Award. <

Windham Hill UCC’s historic belfry to be restored by Easter

By Lorraine Glowczak

Windham Hill United Church of Christ at 140 Windham Center Road was recently awarded the maximum grant amount of $20,000 from the Maine Community Foundation’s Belvedere Historical Preservation and Energy Efficiency 2022 Fund for the restoration of its steeple.  

The steeple of Windham Hill United Church of Christ was
built in 1880 with the bell cast at one of Paul Revere's
workshops in Massachusetts. After 143 years of use, the
steeple is starting to crumble and deteriorate, and the
church has received a grant for restorative repairs.
According to the foundation’s website, the purpose of the grant is to “invest in the preservation, restoration, and retrofitting of historic buildings in Maine. Grants from this fund focus on capital investments in historic buildings that serve as civic, cultural, or economic hubs for communities.”

WHUCC certainly meets all the above criteria for its steeple renovations, expected to begin next week, as it has been the civic, cultural, and economic hub since Windham’s inception in 1762.

In New England’s early years, during the 17th and 18th centuries, the law mandated that states enforce religious devotion. Towns could not be legally established without a founding church that supported a minister by levying taxes. Windham’s Congregational Church, as it was named during the early years and now known as Windham Hill United Church of Christ, was that church.

Since the town of Windham was officially incorporated, the Congregational/UCC parishioners have met at different locations throughout the Windham area. But it was in 1834 when the present building was constructed. It remains a community gathering and worshiping location today.

“The steeple was added in 1880, nearly 50 years after the church was built,” said Rebecca Brown, WHUCC member and chair of the Steeple Taskforce. She further said. “What makes this bell so historically significant and unique is that it was cast in Boston at one of Paul Revere’s workshops in Massachusetts.”

After 140 years of use, the steeple that houses the historic bell is starting to crumble and needs important repairs if the bell is to continue to ring.

“The hemlock beams in the tower that hold the steeple in place are original and they have had significant dry rot over the years,” Brown said. “As a result, we are forced to add steel beams onto the hemlock to stabilize the tower which will also enable us to begin ringing the bell again.”

Brown said that the bell hasn’t rung in over six months due to the hemlock rot. In a previous interview, local historian, and member of WHUCC, Laurel Parker said, “Normally, the bell rings every Sunday but is also rung on special occasions for the community with the hope of peace. It was rung at the end of the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and on 9/11.”

The total cost to repair the steeple is approximately $41,000. While the Belvedere grant will provide a large portion of those costs, other funds have been provided to the church.

“We also have been awarded up to 50 percent of the cost of the steeple restoration through the Maine Steeples Fund with an additional $4,000 contributed from the Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ committee on Resourcing the Local Church,” Brown said.

According to its website, The Maine Steeples Fund was established to support local efforts to restore church steeples of historic, cultural, and community significance in small cities and towns in Maine. They have provided financial assistance to over 75 Maine steeples since 2007.

“We are very grateful for all the financial awards and contributions we’ve received from the Belvedere grant, the Maine Steeples Fund, and the Maine Conference of the UCC,” WHUCC Pastor Sharon Rankin said. “This church and the bell that it houses have always been an important part of the community and we want to keep history’s momentum moving forward. This is something to be enjoyed and used for all occasions - for the town and its people. This restoration will keep that secure for years to come.”

Rankin pointed out that the church has always been a cultural, community, and historical building, but that WHUCC is, and always has been, a place to gather for worship – gaining spiritual sustenance in good times and bad.

Brown anticipates that the steeple will be fully restored in time for Easter worship.

"We are hoping against all hope that the restoration will be completed by the end of March and before Easter Sunday, April 9,” Brown said.  “It will be a great way to celebrate – to ring, to announce, and to rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord.”

WHUCC offers in-person, Zoom, and Facebook live options for worship. Sunday services begin at 9:30 am. For more information, contact the church office by phone at 207-892-4217 or by email at <