Friday, January 26, 2024

Sebago Lakes Region Chamber welcomes new board chair and recognizes award recipients

By Kaysa Jalbert

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce celebrated 60 years with the theme “Honoring the Past, Treasuring the Present & Shaping the Future” at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner held on Thursday, Jan. 18 at Camp Sunshine in Casco.

From left, Vickie Bartlett, Jane Bartlett, President/CEO Robin
Mullins and Board Chair Jonathan Priest gather during the
Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce's annual
meeting and awards ceremony on Jan. 18 at Camp Sunshine
in Casco. The Bartletts attended the ceremony representing
the Bartlett family as the late George Bartlett was honored
with the Frank Koenig Chamber Hall of Fame Award.
“We shared a video on the Chamber’s incredible history and discussed how the organization continues to thrive and evolve as the region changes,” said Robin Mullins, President of the Sebago Lakes Region of Commerce. A table at the event highlighted the 60 years of the Chamber’s history, including regional guides and photo albums.

Two new Board Members were added to the chamber’s leadership team for 2024. Tricia Zwirner of the Nominating Committee introduced the new board members, Maureen LaSalle of Northern Lights Mechanical, and Maureen Mazur of Taro Health.

The Chamber Board also voted Jonathan Priest of J. Priest Insurance to succeed Jennifer Arsenault of Edward Jones as the new Board Chair. Arsenault was awarded a plaque to commemorate her term of service as Board Chair.

The Annual Meeting also included a social hour, a buffet dinner, a business meeting, and ended by recognizing the following award recipients:

Dave Pollard presented the Chamber’s Community Service Leadership Award to Lacy Antonson for her work in Gray, especially at the Gray Wild Blueberry Festival. Mullins said that the Community Service Leadership Award recognizes a civic-minded individual or group that has made a significant contribution to the quality of life in the Sebago Lakes Region. Nominees are passionate about a cause and work tirelessly for the greater good and to inspire others to become involved in their community.

The Chamber’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award is presented annually to a Chamber member operating in the Lakes Region whose innovation and creativity have succeeded in starting their own successful business while opening new economic opportunities for the Sebago Lakes Region. This member has donated their time and/or resources unselfishly for the good of their local community, Mullins said. This year, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented to Shaw Dwight of Paul's Boutique in Windham. He thanked his team, his father, and his wife for helping him become successful.

Richie Vraux presented the Business of the Year Award to Kenny Cianchette and his team at Erik's Church in Windham. “This award is presented to a Chamber member operating in the region that has set an example in leadership, innovation, and quality, and has provided noteworthy economic opportunity to the people of the Sebago Lakes Region,” said Mullins. “This business should also have donated their time and/or resources unselfishly for the good of their local community.”

Mullins announced the winner of the Frank Koenig Chamber Hall of Fame Award. This specific award is presented to an individual whose commitment of time, resources and talent have made the Sebago Lakes Region a better place to pursue one’s livelihood and dreams.

“Frank Koenig was passionate about the chamber and worked tirelessly for the betterment of our region and his local Chamber of Commerce,” says Mullins. “Like Frank, the recipient should have a history of passionate and active contributions to the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. This person should have made an impact on the chamber and the local community all while maintaining the highest of integrity. The award is presented posthumously to George Bartlett, who we sadly lost in July of 2023.”

The Frank Koenig Chamber Hall of Fame Award given to Bartlett was accepted by his wife, Jane, and his daughter, Vickie, who spoke on behalf of the family, expressing their gratitude for recognizing how much George meant to the community, and how much he would have loved this award.

Mullins said that the Chamber looks forward to another busy year of events in 2024 such as the monthly Business Breaks, the Polar Dip in February, Member Appreciation Week in May, the Scholarship Golf Open in June, the Golf Ball Drop at Summerfest, a Pancake Breakfast at the Gray Wild Blueberry Festival, community Trunk or Treats, the Sebago Spirits Festival, and other community holiday events including the Bid of Christmas.

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce was launched 60 years ago by a group of innovative business owners and was called the North Windham Business Association and is now made up of 14 Board Directors and seven officers whose mission is to foster economic growth and prosperity throughout the region. <

Raymond residents oppose solar farm installation in neighborhood

By Ed Pierce

Residents living in the Pulpit Rock Road and Twin Pines neighborhood near Thomas Pond off Route 302 in Raymond are hoping the Raymond Planning Board rejects a proposal when it meets in March to install a 996 kWac ground mounted solar power generation facility on a property near their homes.

The Wallace home at 30 Pulpit Rock Road is in sight of the 
fence line of a proposed solar farm project in Raymond.

Allen Solar, LLC submitted the proposal to the Raymond Planning Board in October and seeks to locate the Mainely Solar facility on Roosevelt Trail on a lot owned by Scott and Aimme Allen with access to the project area through a lot owned by Scott Allen using the existing Raymond Marine entrance to Roosevelt Trail. The project lots amount to 17,817 square feet and intend to occupy about 6.8 acres located within the town’s Rural Residential District and portions are within the Shoreland Zone, Limited Residential/Recreation District.

The project will also require approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers filling a small 325-square-foot wetland to support project access. The solar company says the property will be fenced and buffers and setbacks will be deployed to minimize visual impact.


Laurie Wallace, whose property abuts the proposed project, says that acreage for the proposed site is hilly, heavily wooded and filled with vernal pools, critical wetlands and streams that run downhill directly into Thomas Pond.

“It is the habitat of many birds, four-legged animals, and amphibians,” she said. “We support energy sources other than fossil fuels. But placing a commercial solar farm in this sensitive ecosystem can ultimately do more harm than good. Raymond is considering making commitments to an industry that could, if unchecked, harm the pristine environment in which we’ve chosen to live. If this specific project is allowed to move forward, it could set a dangerous precedent in Raymond and the Lakes Region.”

Wallace said the Thomas Pond watershed feeds directly into Sebago Lake, the source of drinking water for thousands in the Greater Portland region.

Dave Hall, another abutter to the proposed solar farm who lives at 32 Pulpit Rock Road, said this project doesn’t fit in that neighborhood.

“My family has lived in the neighborhood since the houses were built in 1983. What I object to about the proposed solar project is leasing the land for a commercial project does not seem like something that should happen in a residential neighborhood,” Hall said. “The planning board seems to have allowed solar projects in residential zones with no safeguards to protect the surrounding property owners. They did not create reasonable setbacks or other rules that would have kept this project from being planned to have seven acres of solar panels start 150 feet from a person’s house. The property is a watershed of Thomas Pond, just below the project is a stream running into Thomas Pond. We are concerned our property values will go down with an industrial business venture going on behind our houses. The town’s comprehensive plan states that proposals and projects should not impact way of life and property values. When asked at the public forum the planning board said," that is not the basis of decision making. " It seems like it should be. Our neighborhoods are in danger from plans like this. We keep saying this is the wrong property for a project like this.”

Jennifer Danzig also lives in a home which abuts the project. She and her husband have lived there since 1998 and raised three children and says she taught her children to be good stewards of the environment and the community and for those reasons she opposes the project.

“The proposed solar project is a private, for-profit, commercial solar farm which requires clearing 7-plus acres of forest land designated as rural residential located in between Route 302 and the shoreland zone of Thomas Pond. It is an environmentally sensitive area that just isn’t the right location for this project,” Danzig said. “This forested area is the home to many birds, four-legged animals, and amphibians that will be displaced which will impact the local ecosystem. In addition, the proposed site is hilly and full of vernal pools, wetlands, and streams that run downhill directly into Thomas Pond.”

Danzig says without the current acreage of forested canopy in this area providing protection against increasingly severe rain and windstorms that residents there could experience even more runoff and potential flooding.

“The Thomas Pond watershed feeds directly into the Sebago Lake watershed which provides drinking water to local residents, and to the City of Portland. So not only will this project severely impact the privacy and serenity of the Thomas Pond residents, but health and safety issues could arise, and property values could be adversely impacted,” she said. “Many other Maine towns have moratoriums on these projects until more research becomes available regarding all of the unintended consequences of such installations. Raymond Waterways Protective Association states all of the lakes, ponds, and brooks in Raymond are physically connected; consequently, many people in Raymond and neighboring towns beyond those on Thomas Pond could be affected by this proposed project. If allowed to move forward, it could set a dangerous precedent for this type of installation in other rural residential neighborhoods around the lakes in our community.”

Company response

Dave Fowler of Mainely Solar says that his company has more than 22 years of experience developing responsible renewable energy projects across Maine and that the proposed Allen Solar project is a 1MW solar facility that will help ensure that Maine reaches its goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2040.

“Landowner rights are among the most important aspects to consider when developing any project. The town has adopted a solar ordinance that allows the use in the Town of Raymond to ensure those rights don’t burden the neighbors,” Fowler said. “Our project meets all of the land use standards that Raymond has adopted. Given the feedback from the planning board process, we have voluntarily agreed to increase the setback from the abutting property line. While we will be clearing approximately 4.5 acres of land for the solar panels, equal to 2 to 3 house lots, the environmental and life safety impacts will be significantly less.”

Fowler said the field will be mowed no more than two times per year, compared to lawns, which are mowed as frequently as needed and that minimizes runoff.

“We will not be using any fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides frequently used by many of the homes in the Thomas Pond watershed,” he said. “Stormwater from the project’s impervious surface and the existing impervious and developed areas will be captured, treated, and discharged at the same peak flow rate as it does today. To further protect Thomas Pond's water quality, a site-specific erosion and sedimentation control plan has been developed for construction. The seed mix used will be pollinator-friendly and fire-resistant.”

According to Fowler, the project will include a fire suppression system consisting of a 10,000 cistern and a network of piping and fire standpipes and the fence surrounding the project will include multiple gates with knock boxes, allowing Raymond Fire and Rescue to respond to emergencies.

He refuted objections about lowered property values, saying numerous studies show that solar projects of this size do not impact property values.

“At the same time, you can undoubtedly find studies on the internet that have contradictory opinions. There is no study with conclusive findings of adverse impact,” Fowler said. “We understand that there are concerns regarding impacts to the environmental resource. All protected natural resources within the parcel have been identified by licensed professional scientists in accordance with Maine DEP and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers standards. The project has been designed to avoid and minimize impacts to these resources to the greatest extent, meeting all local, Maine DEP, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rules and standards. The local code enforcement officer, the local civil engineer, and the fire department have reviewed the project. Many abutting lot owners who have expressed concerns, enjoy using the Allen property without verbal or written permission. That is expected to continue except for the 4.5 acres that will be fenced.”

The Raymond Planning Board will meet on March 13 to discuss the proposal. <

Friday, January 19, 2024

Raymond Select Board appoints Look permanent town manager

By Ed Pierce

Pending working out specific details of a contract, the Town of Raymond has a new Town Manager after the Raymond Select Board offered Susan L. Look the position during a Select Board meeting on Jan. 9.

Members of the Raymond Select Board have
appointed Susan Look as the new Raymond
Town Manager. Look had been serving in
the role since July 2023 on an interim basis
after longtime Town Manager Don Willard
went on Paid Family Medical Leave and 
then officially retired Jan. 2. FILE PHOTO
Look, who also serves as Raymond’s Town Clerk and Registrar of Voters, has been filling the Town Manager position on an interim basis since July 2023. Coming out of an Executive Session during the meeting, members of the Select Board voted unanimously to offer Look the permanent job as Raymond Town Manager.

Don Willard had served as the Raymond Town Manager for more than 22 years when he left on Paid Family Medical Leave in July 2023, and he officially retired on Jan. 2. When Willard went out on leave last year, the Raymond Select Board then asked Look to stand in for Willard until his situation was resolved.

“From my perspective Sue, you have done a spectacular job in the last 6 ½ months,” said Joe Bruno, Raymond Select Board chair. “You’ve earned this. Well deserved. You’ve stepped up and it’s really appreciated.”

Prior to stepping in to act as the Interim Town Manager, Look’s service as Raymond Town Clerk and Registrar of Voters were not the only duties she had undertaken in her role with the town since she came to work there almost decade ago.

Through the years she has organized the Raymond Select Board’s monthly meetings, taken the Select Board meeting minutes, coordinated with all the people who want to be in the meeting and compiled requests for items to be placed on the agenda. In addition to organizing the town’s scheduled monthly Select Board meetings, and an occasional as-needed emergency meeting, Look has also prepared the warrant for Raymond’s Annual Town Meeting held on the first Tuesday in June every year.

As detailed in an August 2021 profile of her in The Windham Eagle, Look’s history of organizing and planning extends well beyond her time working in elections at the state level and although she was born in Maine, Look has lived all over the east coast and gained valuable experience along the way.

“My dad was in the woolen industry, and we followed the mill closings north,” Look said.

Altogether Look said in 2021 that she moved 40 times before settling into her current home. “I can pack out a kitchen quick,” she said. “And every time I moved, I would always make sure the beds were made before we finished for the day.”

The skills needed to pack up a household and keep calm while moving have helped Look obtain plenty of confidence needed to succeed in her new role as the Raymond Town Manager.

Look was born in Lewiston and has worked for the Town of Raymond since July 2014. She formerly served as the Town Clerk for the Town of West Bath and she was originally hired by Willard to replace longtime town clerk Louise Lester, who was retiring at the time.

Her father grew up in New Gloucester, and she has family connections in both Raymond and Windham. She is married and has two married daughters and two grandchildren, and lives in Richmond.

During her professional career, Look worked for L.L. Bean for 15 years and was promoted to manage the company’s customer name and address filing system. She was appointed as the Town Clerk in West Bath in 2004 and served in that role for five years before working for the Maine Division of Elections for another five years.

According to Bruno, the Raymond Select Board is currently formulating a transition plan to appoint a new Town Clerk and Registrar of Voters to succeed Look in those roles. <

New director settles into leadership role for BTI

By Kaysa Jalbert

Windham’s Be The Influence Coalition has welcomed a new Director, Patrice Leary-Forrey, to the team as it enters year eight of a 10-year grant awarded by the Drug Free Communities to help prevent youth substance abuse in the towns of Windham and Raymond.

Patrice Leary-Forrey is the new director
of the Be The Influence Coalition. She
will lead BTI initiatives in Windham and
Raymond to help deter substance abuse
by youth in the community.
“It’s been amazing so far,” says Leary-Forrey. “The community has been so welcoming and responsive to the program over the years. We have a great leadership team, and I am excited to work with everyone.”

Leary-Forrey says she has been working with other members of the leadership program to carry out on-going initiatives by the coalition in efforts to raise more awareness about substance abuse to the community’s youth, however the new director has some ideas of her own to implement as well.

“I would like to hone-in on prevention of protecting kids from access to substances,” she said. “A new initiative would be to offer lock boxes for families during the Drug Take Back Days that the public safety hosts.”

Drug Take Back Day, according to the official DEA website, encourages the public to remove unneeded medications from their homes as a measure of preventing medication misuse and opioid addiction. It also acts as a reminder to keep medications out of reach of children and locked away.

The lock box initiative would allow parents, grandparents, and guardians to keep personal products and medications locked and secure out of the hands of toddlers and teenagers.

“I'm going to be working hopefully with poison control and Maine CDC to help support that initiative and bring that opportunity to families,” says Leary-Forrey.

Until then, Leary-Forrey plans to focus on executing projects that are already in the works alongside her leadership team. Along with Crystal Aldrich, the Project Coordinator for BTI, they are working together on a youth mattering initiative with the Maine Resiliency Building Network, a program that focuses on community involvement in promoting mental health and well-being amongst young people.

Another plan includes a sequel event to the Jammin’ for Mental Health through the Arts event that was held in May 2023. Be The Influence organizes this event annually with community partners Maine Behavioral Healthcare and RSU 14.

BTI and partners have been hosting a series of “Arts of Prevention” events for years using different forms of art such as painting, music, film, and theater to help the youth express themselves and find healthy coping outlets.

“We will be there hosting other not-for-profits and Maine Health and we will be providing information and support to the families who might need resources in the community,” said Leary-Forrey.

The new director is now in week four of her BTI leadership role and has been keeping busy handling grant requirements, meeting folks in the community, and attending meetings. This week’s mission is to attend club meetings such as Youth Leadership at Windham High School as a means to meet the students and explore ways to support them in their everyday activities at school and to provide prevention education regarding substance use and advice about how to make good choices for themselves.

Leary-Forrey said she hopes to soon meet with the health teachers at Windham High School to bring in some evidence-based programming education into the health classes.

“I am so excited to meet the kids and to work with them and support them in their initiatives,” she said.

Prior to this new role, Leary-Forrey worked as a director for a nonprofit in York County for prevention of child abuse and neglect. She explains it was similar work just with a different focus but also required supporting parents and kids in schools.

According to Leary-Forrey, Be The Influence community coalition meetings will be held on the second Tuesday of the month at 10 a.m. in the training room at the Windham Public Safety building. It is open to the public to hear updates from the community and what BTI is currently working on.

Leary-Forrey grew up in a small rural town in Southern New Hampshire in the Monadnock Region called Fitzwilliam.

“It was a great place to grow up and shares many similarities to Southern Maine,” she says.

She attended high school at Gould Academy and later pursued her undergraduate degree in Psychology and English at New England College. Afterward, Leary-Forrey moved to California to study at Pepperdine University before transferring to Argosy University in Chicago where she obtained a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.

Now, she is a mother of four daughters who are living in Charlotte, North Carolina; Montreal, Canada; and Paris, France. In her free time, Leary-Forrey says she enjoys lots of outdoor activities and sports, watercolor painting, vegetable gardening in the summer and listening to a variety of music and podcasts. <

Friday, January 12, 2024

Apparel Impact bins aim to recycle textile waste from Windham

By Ed Pierce

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American consumer throws away more than 81.5 pounds of unwanted clothing every year resulting an estimated 17 million tons of textile waste entering U.S. landfills every year. It’s an environmental nightmare that does have a solution and Joe Whitten’s for-profit company, Apparel Impact, has arrived in Windham and is addressing the problem one town at a time.

Apparel Impact, which diverted 10 million pounds of
textiles from landfills in New England last year, is 
expanding into Windham and aims to help resolve
textile waste problems through recycling and giving
away to nonprofit organizations in the community.
Last year alone Apparel Impact diverted 10 million pounds of textiles from landfills in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York for recycling and Whitten continues to expand his business to help resolve the textile waste problem.

“I was in software business development for many years but searching for an industry that I felt made both an environmental and community impact,” Whitten said. “When I was told about textile recycling, I did research on the industry and learned that in many ways it could improve. I felt that it was a perfect industry to enter and make a difference. “It can take up to three generations for a non-biodegradable T-shirt to decompose in a landfill. That means any clothing made of polyester, rayon, spandex, or nylon.”

Whitten said that nearly 80 percent of all clothing, shoes, and accessories across the U.S. are thrown out and enter the waste stream. Apparel Impact provides people the opportunity to recycle their clothing instead of throwing it out.

“We provide easily accessible recycling bins across New England and New York that give people the opportunity to see their clothing, reused, upcycled, or downcycled,” he said. “Aside from our primary mission of being a clothing reuse and clothing recycler, we also have an entire division dedicated to providing free clothing to those most in need within the communities we provide service to. In 2023, we provided clothing, shoes, and other resources to over 4,000 people and families.”

Apparel Impact is known for providing more clothing than any other for-profit or non-profit in New England, Whitten said.

“All of the schools that host Apparel Impact bins have access to an outreach link where they can request needed items for students,” he said. “As we grow in Windham, we hope to expand our reach within Windham schools and the surrounding towns. “We are launching the first-ever educational comic-book, Team Impact! It's an entertaining comic-book that involves educating kids on textile waste while also providing great stories of Team Impact superheroes. It comes with a Lesson Plan and Teachers guide as well.”

The expansion into Windham includes partners in Apparel Impact’s efforts to divert textile waste and provide community support.

Current partners have recycling bins at Shaw's Plaza, 770 Roosevelt Trail in Windham; Rustler’s Steakhouse, 61 Tandberg Trail in Windham; Maine’s Auto Connection, 653 Roosevelt Trail in Windham; and at Windham Community Park, 363 Gray Road in Windham.

“We service all of our sites a minimum of once weekly, but the majority of the sites in and around Windham are serviced two to five times weekly,” Whitten said. “We view any business, non-profit, school, government entity or municipality that hosts Apparel Impact bins as our partner. We have nearly 1,200 partners and will approach 1,500 by the end of 2024. These partners are essential to divert as many textiles as possible because they provide the space to locate an Apparel Impact recycling bin, which offers people the opportunity to use it.”

The company accepts all clothing, shoes, accessories, and household linens and has an Acceptable Items List available on its website at that is always updated and available.

“Being veteran-owned and partnering with and supporting veterans' organizations is essential to Apparel Impact's mission,” Whitten said. “We are partners with Windham Veterans Center and are currently looking to partner with the American Legion in Windham as well. Our mission is simple. We exist to divert textiles from landfills, support those in need and to continue our efforts in spreading the word on who we are and what we do.”

He says the majority of local, county, and state officials are excited about Apparel Impact's services within Maine.

“Textiles are the fastest-growing waste stream in America, and the need to divert the waste and instead focus on reuse and recycling is at an all-time high,” Whitten said. “We've saved Maine taxpayers over $300,000 in 2023 alone, diverted nearly 4 million pounds of textiles from Maine, and provided hundreds of people with much-needed clothing.”

Some clothing, shoes and other textiles collected by Apparel Impact are given to U.S. non-profit organizations, clothing graders or clothing recyclers that are looking to use these items as a way to fund their causes and to help their communities. Some materials are sent to foreign marketplaces where families can buy, sell and trade to support their families. We also provide our own local outreaches to support local families and people in need.

“We're a family owned, veteran-owned, local business, so word of mouth and personal connections are essential,” Whitten said. “The public can assist in two ways; they can use the Apparel Impact bins to help divert waste and provide community outreach and they can contact us if they know of a public location that may be suitable to host an Apparel Impact bin.”

To learn more about Apparel Impact and the difference it is making across New England and beyond, visit <

Windham Middle School actors launch a new production: Seussical Jr.

By Masha Yurkevich

Maine winters can be long and dark, but if you’re looking to beat the winter depression, the Windham Middle School has prepared something for just that: the Seussical Jr. production.

The Windham Middle School production of
Seussical Jr. opens Friday, Jan. 12 and runs
through Sunday, Jan. 21 at the Windham High
School Performing Arts Center. Performance
times are 7 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
If you are wondering what Seussical Jr. will be like, Beth Gaudet, a show producer, sums it all up by saying: “Think of all the Dr. Seuss books mashed into a musical!”

As the producer, Gaudet is responsible for organizing everything related to the production, from getting schedules out, building the sets, to getting other parents involved in the process.

“This production is unique because it has numerous lead roles, providing ample opportunities for the kids to showcase their talent,” says Gaudet. “I am always amazed to see how the production develops from start to finish. Our director, April Monte, has a special way of working with the kids that brings out the absolute best in each and every one of them.”

For Gaudet, her favorite part of this musical is watching the fun, colorful, and happy story come to life on stage.

“The show is exceptionally entertaining with its magnificent set design and costumes,” says Gaudet.

Monte, the director, is head of the theater program at WMS and is also the choreographer, helps build set designs, works with lighting designers and sound designers, comes up with all the dancing in the show, and tells the students where to stand on stage when they’re saying their lines.

“This show is kind of crazy because everything is to music, so the children have a lot to learn when it comes to choreography,” says Monte. “It’s like Shakespeare for kids because it’s all rhymes; it’s basically Shakespeare but with Dr. Seuss lyrics. It’s been a very big challenge for the kids because the music is not easy either so they’re learning a lot but are also having a good time.”

For Monte, she has many favorite parts to the show.

“If I had to choose one, I would probably say the opening number is my favorite,” she says. “I also love the end when they all dance to Green Eggs and Ham.”

Seussical Jr. is a one-act musical comedy and is based upon the successful Broadway production written by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. The plot draws heavily from the stories of popular children’s author Dr. Seuss, including Gertrude McFuzz, Horton Hears A Who! and Horton Hatches the Egg among many other Seuss tales.

Annabelle Riley plays the Cat in the Hat in the WMS production and has been acting since she was 5 years old.

“This is my first lead role,” she says. “When I was cast as the Cat in the Hat, I was completely surprised. There are so many talented kids in the cast, and I am really grateful that the director chose me. Our wonderful director definitely knows what she’s doing and respects everyone in the room.”

Riley's favorite part about this musical is hearing everyone’s voices and how different they are, and seeing how all their hard work has really paid off.

All performances will be held in the Windham High School Performing Arts Center and shows start Friday, Jan. 12 and run through Sunday, Jan. 21. Performance times are 7 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are priced at $12 for seniors and students and $14 for adults.

Everyone is invited to see a wonderful show and leave in a great mood.

“Come see the show if you want to have a really good, fun time,” Monte said. “You’re not going to leave without a smile on your face, I can promise you that.” <

Friday, January 5, 2024

Year in Review 2023 (Part Two)

2023: A year of collaboration, connection, and community


EPA unveils plan to clean up Keddy Mill site in Windham

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unveiled its proposal and plan to clean up the Keddy Mill Superfund Site, located on Depot Street in South Windham.

Longtime businessman and community
leader George Bartlett died July 21
after a short illness. Bartlett will be
remembered for his dedication to
local charitable causes and his kind and
jovial nature. COURTESY PHOTO
The proposed plan details measures EPA will take to clean up the soil, sediment (inclusive of fish tissue), and groundwater at the site. This cleanup will be comprehensive and protective of human health and the environment. EPA will also accept public comments on the proposed plan for 30 days and will hold a public information meeting and public hearing on the proposed plan.

"This proposed cleanup plan reflects EPA's recommendations on how to best address contaminated soil, sediment, and groundwater at the Keddy Mills site," said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "This is an important step bringing the Windham community closer to an effective cleanup of the site. EPA is eager to get input from the community and other interested stakeholders on this proposed plan."

EPA's proposed plan summarizes risks posed by contamination at the site and presents an evaluation of cleanup options. EPA also identifies the agency's preferred cleanup alternative along with the other cleanup options considered.

The EPA's preferred alternative in the proposed plan, which would be implemented following the substantial completion of an EPA-authorized "Non-Time-Critical Removal Action" to demolish the mill complex and associated structures, generally includes excavation and off-site disposal of about 22,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil; targeted treatment of soil excavations with amendments in support of groundwater cleanup; groundwater treatment; excavation and off-site disposal of approximately 320 cubic yards of contaminated sediments from the Presumpscot River; site restoration including riverbed, riverbank, wetland and floodplain habitat; land use restrictions (called "Institutional Controls" or ICs) to prevent exposure to site-related contaminants in groundwater and fish tissue until cleanup levels are met; inspections and limited operation and maintenance (O&M); monitoring of groundwater and fish tissue to evaluate the achievement of cleanup levels; and Five-Year Reviews to assess the protectiveness of the remedy. <

Windham mourns loss of business leader, community champion Bartlett

George H. Bartlett Jr., 84, the owner of the Busy Bee Laundromat in Windham for 38 years and someone who was heavily involved in the activities of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and the Sebago Lake Rotary Club died Friday, July 21 after a short illness. Since the 1990s, he also served as an international ambassador for the Rotary Club, making numerous trips to Romania representing Maine and making treasured friendships with Romanians.

His father owned the Bartlett Radio Company and while helping at his father’s business after school, young George developed an interest in mechanics, and he went on to become a mechanical engineer and have a business of his own launching Busy Bee Laundromat in 1985.

“My father was in business for many years, and he gave me some great advice,” Bartlett said. “He told me that a business goes through ups and downs and the best way to keep a business going is to serve the people,” Bartlett said. “That’s exactly what we do here.”

According to Robin Mullins, the President and CEO of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Bartlett was well-liked by nearly everyone he met.

Mullins said that Bartlett was a member and huge supporter of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce for years.

“The two things that stand out the most for me were first, he hosted many of the chamber’s After Hour events, or what we call Business Breaks,” she said. “During the Business Breaks we have 50/50 raffles for local charities. George would offer to squeeze himself into a dryer at the laundromat if folks gave extra dollars to the charities. We made lots of extra money for charity because of this. Second, George was a Rotarian who came to me and asked what I thought would be a great local charity to benefit from the Polar Dip, which was part of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club's Annual Ice Fishing Derby. I, of course, recommended the chamber's charitable trust, ‘Feed The Need.’ We started the Sebago Lakes Region Polar Dip for Feed the Need in 2021 and have raised over $22,000 for the 12 food pantries in the Sebago Lakes Region thanks to George.” <

Equus Foundation honors MSSPA as 2023 Mentor

The Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals in Windham was recognized in July as an Equus Foundation 2023 Mentor.

The EQUUS Foundation is the only national charity in the United States 100 percent dedicated to ensuring the welfare of America's horses and fostering the horse-human bond. EQUUS awards Mentor status to its Guardian charities that have met the foundation’s highest standards for business and equine welfare practices.

Eligible nonprofits include those that:

** Shelter and rehabilitate equines that have been subjected to mistreatment;

** Retrain and re-home equines in transition with careers as athletes, companions, teachers, and healers;

** Provide peaceful and humane retirement and end of life care for aged equines that ensures that they are able to live out their lives in comfort and with dignity;

** Provide mutually beneficial opportunities for people and equines to partner for the purpose of contributing positively to cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being.

Mentor representatives also have the opportunity to serve as members of the EQUUS Foundation Equine Welfare Advisory Group, established to help identify challenges, long term goals, and emerging trends that could affect America’s horses, and explore ways that Mentor organizations can assist other organizations seeking to operate at the highest standards for business and equine welfare practices.

Based in Windham, the mission of the MSSPA is to provide refuge, rehabilitation, and placement of seized equines. MSSPA does not charge for its shelter services and seeks no reimbursement from any public source. Horses cared for by the MSSPA come from Maine law enforcement officials and most of them have been abused or neglected.

The MSSPA was originally formed in 1872 to protect the horses who pulled Portland’s streetcars and fire engines. It now offers shelter services for equines across Maine with access to veterinary medical care and maintains dozens of equines at its South Windham facility. <


Windham USOA Pageant contestant a champion for women's equality

Windham attorney Katie Winchenbach is not afraid to fail, but she is afraid not to try. That sense of self confidence and a champion for women’s equality has led her to become an official contestant in the 2024 United States of America Pageant in Augusta.

Winchenbach will represent the community as Mrs. Windham in the pageant which is designed to encourage women to strive to achieve their hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations, while making them feel confident and beautiful inside and out. The pageant’s motto is to empower women, inspire others, and uplift everyone and it focuses on women empowerment, promoting positive self-image and advocating a platform of community service, which allows contestants to rise by lifting others up.

She’s a corporate attorney and nonprofit leader who is a passionate advocate for women’s equality and is dedicated to finding ways to inspire and empower women across the United States. Winchenbach currently serves as the Program Director for Ms. JD, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the success of aspiring and early career women lawyers.

She said that the pageant will challenge her in new ways that she hasn’t experienced previously.

“I'm looking to be able to show up and support my community as the best version of myself,” Winchenbach said. “Upon starting this journey, I was surprised by how much it pushed me outside of my comfort zone and how many opportunities there were for me to grow as a person. Already, I've been able to become more confident in the way I carry myself and in the way I speak publicly. I work as a corporate attorney and a nonprofit program director, so these are skills that are going to help me immensely even once the pageant is over.”

She said empowering women will be the cause she will champion if she wins the state title.

“I believe in empowering and inspiring women to dream bigger and boldly pursue these dreams,” Winchenbach said.

She went on to win the USOA Pageant for Maine in October and advances to compete in the 2024 USOA Mrs. America Pageant this July in San Antonio, Texas.

RTT rider’s determination to overcome MS leads to 2023 Adult Equestrian of the Year award

Debbie Hutchinson has not let Multiple Sclerosis get her down and riding horses at Riding To The Top in Windham has improved her physical heath and her relationship with a horse at the facility has boosted her emotional well-being. Hutchinson’s efforts to overcome MS at RTT led to her being honored in July by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International as its 2023 Adult Equestrian of the Year.

Hutchinson has been dealing with MS for 30 years and has been a client of RTT for the past three years. She’s experienced struggles with balance and spasticity which affect her ability to walk, but something magical began to happen to her when she was partnered with an RTT mare named Paxton.

“When I’m riding Paxton, I don’t have MS,” she said.

According to Hutchinson, working with Paxton at RTT has not only helped her to deal with her MS more effectively and has also given her a new support network to deal with MS through the friendships that she’s forged with the staff and volunteers at RTT.

Multiple Sclerosis is an immune-mediated disease producing an abnormal response of the body’s immune system which attacks the central nervous system by mistake. The immune system attack damages the body’s myelin, the substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers and the cells that make it. Without myelin to protect nerve fibers, they are also damaged. This can lead to a range of unpredictable symptoms such as tingling, numbness, pain, fatigue, memory problems and paralysis.

Hutchinson’s efforts to not let MS control her life drew notice and admiration from everyone she has worked with at RTT.

"I’ve had the pleasure of working with Debbie for several years. She performs her pre-ride warm up with tenacity, enthusiasm, and determination to assure a successful lesson,” said Susan Layton, RTT team member. “She deals with the stress of her condition daily, but when she is sitting high on her horse, her focus is on establishing a close connection with her horse, achieving horsemanship skills, and the pure joy of riding. Her constant smile says it all." <

State approves funding to complete final segment of Rail Trail project

The final pieces of the puzzle are coming together in the creation of a recreational rail trail from Portland to Fryeburg including a five-mile section passing through Windham, Gorham and Standish that has been underway for the past year.

According to Doug Smith of Windham, vice president of the Mountain Trail Alliance, once completed this section of rail trail will run from Route 202 in Windham to Westbrook and is part of several Active Transportation projects and legislation sponsored for rail trails in other parts of the state. In July, Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed into law a bill authorizing the Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner to construct a multi-use “Trail Until Rail” from Standish to Fryeburg.

“I am a long-time resident of Windham who bikes and walks the Mountain Division Rail Trail several times a week,” he said. “I joined the Mountain Trail Alliance organization to advocate for building out the rail trail from Portland to Fryeburg.”

Advocates for the new rail trail say that it is the least expensive method to expand recreational opportunities in Maine and will provide the most direct and lasting economic and health benefits for residents along the rail corridor.

Smith said that The Mountain Division Trail will spur economic growth and connect Maine communities with a safe, car-free, multi-use trail. The previously completed Eastern Trail, is arguably Maine’s most popular rail trail, and has spurred millions of dollars of economic impact, according to recent studies.

Once work on the section running to Fryeburg is finished, this Mountain Division Trail section in western Maine will be a continuous 40-mile, paved trail, running from Route 202 in South Windham to Fryeburg. Over time it will connect with trails from Portland to North Conway, New Hampshire.

The completed five-mile local section, created just over 15 years ago, runs about halfway through Gorham and halfway through Windham. This is the most used trail west of Portland because it is accessible to all, with a gentle grade, wide trail width and paved.

The next five miles east from Route 202 in Windham to East Bridge Street in Westbrook is in the planning phase. Funding provided by the Maine Department of Transportation, the Town of Windham, and the City of Westbrook has provided a year-long planning and design study. <


MTCCA awards recognize contributions of Windham Town Clerk, Deputy Clerk

It was a clean sweep for Windham as Town Clerk Linda Morrell and Deputy Town Clerk Judy Vance were honored for their exceptional service to the community during the Maine Town and City Clerk Association’s 28th Networking Day and Annual Meeting held at the Augusta Civic Center on Sept. 12.

Morrell was presented with the 2023 MTCCA Town Clerk of the Year Award while Vance received the 2023 MTCCA Deputy Town Clerk of the Year Award. The award program was established in 1991 to recognize excellence both in their contributions to their community as well as to the profession of the municipal clerk and deputy town clerk and are the highest honors awarded by the MTCCA.

Moving with her parents to Windham at age 14 while in her freshman year in high school, Morrell graduated from Windham High School in 1978. She started working as a deputy clerk for the Town of Windham and following seven years of serving in that position, she has spent the last 29 years as the Windham Town Clerk.

Among her duties as Town Clerk, Morrell serves as Windham’s Supervisor of Elections, be it municipal, county, state, or presidential elections. She also oversees two full-time and one part-time town clerk’s office staff members and she’s responsible for the town’s dog registrations; the sales of hunting and fishing licenses; officiating weddings; maintaining the town’s vital statistics; overseeing state boat and automobile registrations; providing notary service; swearing elected municipal officials into office; helping collect tax payments for the town; and serving as the secretary for the Windham Town Council.

Vance is a Windham native who has worked for the Windham Town Clerk’s office for 26 years, serving as the town’s registrar of voters and a Deputy Town Clerk.

Among her many duties, Vance processes all vital records for Windham along with hunting, fishing, and business licenses, and administers two elections per year, with an occasional special election. Her department also helps as needed with processing registrations for motor vehicles, boats, ATVs, and snowmobiles, as well as processing taxes.

Raised in Windham and a graduate of Windham High School and the University of Southern Maine, Vance married her high school sweetheart, and they live in Windham, where they have raised two daughters. <

Togue Derby anglers post record hauls

The Sebago Lake Anglers’ Association successfully concluded their 8th annual Sebago Lake Togue Derby on Sept. 10, and the popular two-day event remains the largest open water derby in the state of Maine.

This year there were 97 individuals who had signed up for the derby and they caught 182 togue to receive a ticket for the Togue Lottery prizes.

The top fish was caught by Bruce Elliott from Naples and weighed 13.67 pounds. He caught it on the Saturday of the event, and it held up to win the overall first prize on Sunday. This is the second year in a row this has happened to the derby’s leading angler and it netted Elliott a $600 payday.

During the event, there were several nice-sized fish caught and lots of togue that fishermen brought in that they did not want to take home. These were distributed to a church and prepared for a fish fry. Other fish went home with SLAA club members, and no fish or entrails were left at Sebago Lake State Park.

The most abundant catches during the derby were turned in by Jesse Maltier and Lea Schwarz. On Saturday, they offloaded 57 fish and as if that wasn’t enough, on Sunday they brought in 33 additional fish for a total two-day catch of 90 fish. Many experienced anglers could not believe anyone could catch so many fish with just two anglers within the time limits of the derby, which ran from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Maltier was no amateur though. He cleaned up his boat and all his terminal tackle was placed out of sight before he came in. He did share the fact that he found a hole and fished it almost exclusively with a small jig (3/16 ounce) dressed with a sparse bucktail, and no bait as a sweetener, as several fisherman had said.

In all more than $2,300 in prize money was dispensed at the awards ceremony or winners were mailed their prizes. <

Longtime RWPA leaders to take on new roles

The dedicated Raymond couple Peg and Neil Jensen announced they will be taking on new, but perhaps less intense, roles on the Raymond Waterways Protection Association (RWPA) Board.

Peggy Jensen, outgoing President, first got to know Raymond’s waters as a child when her Sunday school held its annual picnic and swim every June at Camp Hinds. In later years, Peggy came to love Raymond as a seasonal resident, and finally, in 2008, as a year-rounder.

After earning degrees in math and counseling, Peggy welcomed opportunities to learn about lakes and watersheds from such great teachers as Charlie Turner, Phil Boissonneault, Prof. Holly Ewing, and the staff at Lake Stewards of Maine and Maine DEP. Convinced that understanding the science of our lakes helps visitors and residents want to take care of these resources, Peggy became active in the Panther Pond Association and in RWPA, taking on leadership roles and volunteering for projects -- from installing erosion control practices to identifying aquatic plants, from hand digging invasive milfoil to ferrying supplies to the RWPA divers working to rid invasives.

Neil Jensen, who has served as past RWPA President and Treasurer, and has been an active member of the Panther Pond Association as well, was born in Maine and has spent his summers on Panther Pond since 1950. Through the last decades, Neil has sampled water for testing, created a topographical map of Panther Pond’s bottom, correcting the state’s map, written grant applications, reports, and newsletters, trained as a milfoil diver, and helped lakefront owners install erosion control mechanisms. Neil has built websites for PPA and RWPA; managed the Courtesy Boat Inspection Program and the DASH program; designed and captained the DASH boat, deploying benthic barriers, and ridding waterways of invasive milfoil.

Both Peggy and Neil will continue as RWPA members in the forthcoming years as liaisons to various state and local organizations, as volunteer consultants, and as an “institutional memory” for the board and the organization. <


Windham author realizes dream with publishing of new children’s book

For Donald Osborne of Windham, there was always something missing in his life. Growing up near Lewiston, he loved writing in school as a child and felt he had many stories that he wanted to tell, but life intervened and had other plans for him. He became a father, a stepdad and then a grandfather and his work as a lab processing technician kept him constantly busy. Somehow though, he found the time to write and publish poetry and that inspired him to try writing a children’s book, and the rest is history.

Osborne’s newly published book “The Turtle Who Wanted To Fly” is what he hopes is the first of many stories to come and many more books he will write.

“I have lived my whole life in Maine, so it was wonderful to be able to include some of its natural beauty in this book,” Osborne said. “I love reading stories to my five beautiful grandchildren. It warms my heart when they ask me to read them one of my many stories. I love the imagination of kids.”

The most challenging aspect of his work on the self-published book was working with the illustrator while attempting to match their artwork to his vision of what the story of “The Turtle Who Wanted To Fly” depicts.

“That wasn’t easy,” Osborne said. “It took about six months to get it exactly the way I wanted it while working with Amazon Publishing Pros. The story fell together quickly. We tried to make it imaginative but also factual and certainly wanted to highlight the beauty of Maine with it.”

“The Turtle Who Wanted To Fly” is the story of Smalls, a Maine turtle who dreams of flying. He imagines himself soaring across the sky with his friend, Talon, an eagle, who has told him many stories of adventure, secret places, and of the beauty and splendor of Maine. Smalls lives with his family in the small town of Monmouth, Maine and has many friends including a bunny, a squirrel and his best friend, Bare, the fuzziest little black bear you’ve ever seen. In the story, all of his Maine friends come together to make the dream of flying become a reality for Smalls. <

Maine Lab Rescue closing its doors after 11-plus years of helping dogs and cats

Seeing a need and taking it into your own hands is not something everyone can do, but it was something that Erlene LeBorgne of Windham, the founder, owner, and director of Maine Lab Rescue has devoted herself to. But because of many difficulties encountered in the last year, the shelter has decided to close its doors after 11 years of helping dogs and cats.

Maine Lab Rescue was a foster based rescue organization based in Windham and dedicated to helping prevent euthanasia of dogs and cats in kill shelters in the south. It was licensed as a shelter in both Maine and in Georgia, with fosters in both locations. It served as an all-breed dog and cat rescue, with a focus on labs and lab mixes.

“We would rescue dogs and cats from the kill shelters in Georgia and place them in foster care there,” said LeBorgne. “We then would see to any medical needs, provide core vaccination and heartworm and other testing if old enough, spay and neuter them and then transport them here to Maine. The animals would then be available for adoption once their import quarantine was completed. At times we would have more foster availability in Maine than in Georgia; when that happened, we would partner with other rescues in Georgia, as well as Mississippi and Puerto Rico to bring their pets to Maine for adoption.”

In the 11-plus years that MLR was actively rescuing, more than 5,500 dogs and cats were placed in adoptive homes in 14 states and two Canadian provinces. At one time, MLR was one of the state’s largest rescue groups, placing more animals than many smaller shelters.

Deciding to cease rescue operations for Maine Lab Rescue was among the most difficult decisions LeBorgne says that she’s ever had to make, particularly where it meant that she would no longer be helping medically needy animals.

“While the news of our closing will bring sadness to many hearts, please know that your stories, photos of adventures and the love that we have all shared as MLR family are a strong testimony to our shared love of animals and the desire to rescue and adopt those in need,” said LeBorgne. <

Windham’s cross country teams finish extremely strong in regional championships

Pouring rain did not stop the Windham cross country team from showing they were ready to compete in the Class A Regional championship on Saturday, Oct. 21 at Twin Brooks Recreation Area in Cumberland. The Windham girls’ team all qualified for the state championship and the boys earned a 10th place finish; just one team spot shy of going to the state championship.


“We knew it was going to be rough,” said Windham sophomore Sydney Broadbent, who finished second for Windham and 19th with a time of 21:56.44 minutes. “We knew that everybody was running in the same weather and conditions were going to be the same for everybody and in some ways, it could help us because we’ve worked so hard and prepared since July for this. We were ready for it, and we came and fought, and we did it.”

Junior Tayla Peletier finished first for the team with an 18th place finish overall and a 21.56.32 time.

Sophomore Emma Fox finished third for Windham and 47th overall with a 23:40.61 time. Right behind her was senior Elizabeth Bearce with a 23.50.52 finish.

Sophomore Abigail Dumont finished fifth for Windham with a 24:09.41 time; she knocked off more than a minute from her 2022 Regional Championship finish time.


“It’s a good day to race, with the rain, it cools you off, it makes you feel fine,” said Windham junior Andrew Young who finished first for Windham and dropped over 20 seconds off his 2022 Regional Championship time with a 2023 time of 18:04.92. “Definitely a little slippery ... definitely a good race.”

Seniors Graden Joly, Jinqi Li and sophomore Gavin Lawler all dropped times. Joly finished second for the team and 35th overall with a time of 18:32.53. Li finished third for Windham with a 19:41.63 time.

Lawler finished fourth for Windham with a time of 19:42.76. He dropped an entire minute off his previous Regional Championship time.

Freshman Mason Bragdon finished fifth for the team in his first ever Regionals Championship race. He had a fantastic time of 19:56.47. <


Maine State Chamber honors Mullins as ‘Professional of the Year’

As the president and chief executive officer of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Robin Mullins believes passionately in what she does and never knowingly compromises her standards and values. Her determination to constantly strive for excellence has resulted in Mullins being honored as the Maine State Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 “Dana F. Connors Chamber Professional of the Year.”

The award is named in honor of Dana Connors, who is retiring this year after leading the Maine State Chamber of Commerce since 1994. It was created to recognize chamber professionals who exhibit exceptional service and have made a lasting impact upon their community.

The chamber leadership job is non-stop and highly demanding, yet Mullins makes it look easy.

“The most difficult aspect of my job is not overcommitting myself. This position can easily turn into a 24/7 job,” Mullins said. “I work days, nights and weekends. I am responsible for every aspect of the chamber from membership to marketing and event planning to strategic planning. I am often attending meetings, conferences, and seminars, and often asked to participate on committees, boards, and community events. Of course, the cell phone with instant access to texts and emails certainly doesn't help. I have had to learn not to overcommit myself, say no when needed and establish boundaries to ensure I do not get burned out.”

Her first thought when she was told that she was being honored with this award was how wonderful it was to just be recognized.

“We are not a large chamber. We do not have a lot of ‘big’ business in our region. We are mostly small, locally owned businesses,” she said. “We do not have a significant budget where we can have extravagant events, and we are not typically the chamber you see being interviewed on the news. Yet here we are being recognized by the Maine State Chamber. We are clearly making an impact and must be doing some pretty cool things in our small, beautiful part of the state to be recognized, and that means the world to me.” <

Election results matter to Windham, Raymond voters

After tabulating the results in Windham and Raymond from the Nov. 3 municipal and statewide election, Windham Town Clerk Linda Morrell and Raymond Town Clerk Sue Look submitted the unofficial results for certification from the election.

In Windham, incumbent Mark Morrison tallied 4,204 votes to win re-election for a three-year term to the council for an At-Large position. Write-in challenger Zac Eklund received 947 votes. Also in Windham, Morrell was re-elected to a two-year term as Town Clerk and ran unopposed, picking up 5,324 votes. Incumbent Brett Jones also ran unopposed for a three-year Town Council position representing Windham’s East District. Jones received 4,335 votes.

Windham’s Citizen-Initiated Recall Ordinance referendum passed with 3,448 voters in favor of the measure and 2,524 voters opposed to it.

The new Windham/Raymond Middle School construction referendum was strongly supported by Windham voters with 3,769 voting yes and 2,257 voting no in Windham. Raymond residents cast 975 votes opposing the new Windham/Raymond Middle School construction, while 739 voted in favor of the referendum, which passed because of a plurality of voters in the RSU.

Two candidates representing Windham for three-year terms on the RSU 14 Board of Directors were elected from a field of four candidates vying for the positions. Marge Govoni received 2,803 votes to win one of those positions while Joe Kellner tallied 2,574 votes to win the other remaining position. Justin Whynot received 2,306 votes and Dawn Miller received 2,084 votes.

Among state referendums, Question 3, Do you want to create a new power company governed by an elected board to acquire and operate existing for-profit electricity transmission and distribution facilities in Maine did not pass. In Raymond, 1,245 voted no, 485 yes. In Windham, 4,457 voted no, 1,586 yes. Statewide, the measure was rejected with 69 percent voting no and 31 percent voting yes.

Another state referendum, Question 4, Do you want to require vehicle manufacturers to standardize on-board diagnostic systems and provide remote access to those systems and mechanical data to owners and independent repair facilities passed. In Raymond, 1,489 voted yes, 238 no. In Windham, 5,002 voted yes, 1,008 no. Statewide, the measure passed, 84 percent voting yes and 16 percent voting no. <

Town welcomes new pavilion at Windham Community Park

Though Maine summers are not very long, Windham strives to make them as enjoyable as possible. With the new pavilion addition to the Windham Community Park next to the Community Gardens on Gray Road, the park is now more accessible and gather–friendly.

The park is the site of two basketball courts that are also lined for pickleball, two sand volleyball courts, the skatepark and is also adjacent to the Community Gardens. To celebrate the newly constructed pavilion, an open house was held on Monday, Nov. 6.

“We have been adding picnic pavilions to our various park locations in the past few years, and we always intended to add one or two at the Community Park as we continued to add other elements to the park,” says Linda Brooks, Windham Director of Parks and Recreation. “Following a survey administered by the Age Friendly Windham Committee in October of 2019, an action plan was developed that included a goal to increase access to outdoor spaces by providing accessible amenities at our parks. It made sense to design the Community Park pavilion with this goal in mind.”

The process to make the pavilion a reality started in the Spring of 2022 with a group of volunteers from the local community organization PowerServe, who did the preliminary site work and preparation for the pavilion's foundation.

“In June 2022, our project was one of the sites chosen by the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing, with volunteers biking across the country volunteering to assist in projects around the community that benefit senior citizens and veterans,” said Brooks.

Over the course of the summer, volunteers from the local chapter worked to complete the pavilion.

“In May 2023, we were awarded a $10,000 Community Challenge grant from AARP to be used toward the purchase and installation of accessible pathways to the pavilion and three ADA compliant picnic benches, and this final part of the process was completed by employees of the Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments,” Brooks said. <


East Windham Conservation Area opens

The East Windham Conservation Area opened to the public on Saturday, Dec. 2.

Land at the site is 99 percent forested and includes 661 acres with 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond, some 38 acres of wetlands and numerous headwater streams. Through its conservation the area will directly help protect the water quality for Little Duck Pond, Highland Lake, Forest Lake, and the Pleasant River.

About 10 miles of new multi-use trails have been built at the site by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and the land also includes a 150-acre Deer Wintering Area, a traditional site for hunting by permission, and the 580-foot Atherton Hill, the tallest spot in Windham.

With its completion, the East Windham Conservation Area directly abuts 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. It is part of the largest wildlife habitat and trail access corridor in the Greater Portland area, providing 2,000 acres of conserved land and a 30-mile trail network connecting Lowell Preserve, North Falmouth Community Forest, and Blackstrap Hill Preserve.

Funding to create the area was about $3.7 million and included a $1 million grant from the Land for Maine’s Future initiative. In 2021, voters from Windham approved a $1.8 million conservation bond using open space impact fees and another $400,000 raised privately from public donations. A Land and Water Conservation Fund federal grant for $500,000 was obtained to pay for the infrastructure improvements at the site.

Windham reached out to the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust in 2021 to be an open space partner by holding a conservation easement and sharing responsibility for the trail management on the adjacent 308-acre Lowell Preserve.

The East Windham Conservation Area’s Phase Two opening will take place in the fall of 2024 once the remaining five miles of trails are built, including a universal access trail, which can be navigated by those with limited mobility and will lead to the scenic overlook and pond views. A third phase of the project is planned for future years and will include an observation tower. <

Windham’s new Town Assessor committed to equitable assessments for properties, businesses

Windham’s new Town Assessor Joshua Houde is responsible for the valuation of all taxable property in Windham, both real estate and personal property.

“We have a powerful computer-assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) program called Vision that stores the property data for each parcel and allows us to compare and contrast similar properties,” he says. “The ability to run reports in Vision allows us to obtain data such as how many properties we have in the Shoreland Zone, what properties have sold on a specific street, or the total number of parcels in Windham. We also have an AXIS GIS mapping system that allows me to click on parcels in a map view to see its assessment data at a glance.”

Visiting a property in person gives Houde concrete, tangible knowledge of the factors that affect its value.

“My responsibilities include reviewing our assessments for accuracy, responding to property owner inquiries, meeting state requirements on reporting, and providing information to other town departments as needed,” says Houde. “This fall, I have really enjoyed working with individual property owners who had questions about their assessments. By listening to their concerns, and analyzing our sales data, I was able to ensure fair assessments for our residents. For some of them, that resulted in a reduction in their assessed value. For others, it didn’t result in a reduction but did entail a clear explanation of what factors went into their assessment that made it fair.”

Houde works with a great team that includes Assistant Assessor Kara Taylor, and appraisers Patrick Mulligan and Teresa Konczal. Taylor records transfers of ownership, manages the business personal property accounts, and processes exemption applications among other things.

“I enjoy analyzing the data and noticing trends and patterns that I can then apply to create fair assessments,” says Houde. “I enjoy working with individual property owners to answer their questions and ensure fair assessments for their property. I enjoy visiting properties in person to understand the factors at play in their assessment. I enjoy collaborating with my assessing staff and with the other staff here at Town Hall. I appreciate that the overarching objective for my department in the end is very simple: to establish fair and equitable assessments based on market value.” <

Windham’s Katahdin Program a state finalist in 'Solve for Tomorrow' STEM competition

Samsung Electronics America announced Dec. 10 that Windham High School’s Katahdin Program is among six state finalists in the 14th annual “Samsung Solve for Tomorrow” national STEM competition.

Representing the best of more than one thousand competition entrants, each state finalist has won a package of $2,500 in technology and school supplies. The finalist schools now advance to additional stages of the competition that will culminate in three schools being selected in May as National Winners and receive $100,000 prize packages.

The annual Solve for Tomorrow competition challenges public school students in Grades 6 to 12 to explore the role science, technology, engineering, and math (the core STEM subjects) can play in addressing some of the biggest issues in their local communities. The competition is designed to engage students in active, hands-on learning that can be applied to real-world problems, making STEM more tangible and showcasing its value beyond the classroom.

“As a company and as individuals, STEM is incredibly important to Samsung – we depend on STEM-savvy people to envision, implement, and engage with innovative STEM-dependent products and services,” said Michelle Crossan-Matos, Chief Marketing, Citizenship and Communications Officer for Samsung Electronics America. "Between 2019 and 2029, the number of STEM jobs are predicted to grow 8 percent, a higher rate than non-STEM jobs."

She said the Solve for Tomorrow competition was designed to provide schools and teachers with an innovative, problem-based learning approach to STEM education to boost student interest, proficiency, and diversity in STEM.

"This fresh crop of impressive State Finalists is proof that we’re succeeding,” Crossan-Matos said.

The Katahdin Program uses the classroom, the outdoors, and the greater community and provides alternative education programming for students in Grades 9 to 12 attending Windham High School.

Windham’s Katahdin Program joins Camden Hills Regional High School, Falmouth High School, Fort Fairfield Middle High School, Saco Middle School, and South Portland High School as this year’s state finalists for Maine. The Maine State Winners will be announced in mid-February 2024.

State winners will receive a prize of $20,000 in technology and supplies and advance to the next phase of the competition. Each state winner will also be given a video kit to help document their project in action. <

Year in Review 2023 (Part One)

2023: A year of collaboration, connection, and community

Looking back upon the past year is a great opportunity for all of us to assess and reflect on what has been accomplished in the community and to review where the towns of Windham and Raymond and area residents are headed in 2024.

Windham High players celebrate after defeating
Oxford Hills, 3-1, on June 20 in Gorham to win the
Class A State  Softball championship. 
There were plenty of notable achievements and significant milestones to mention in 2023 and much more to come in the new year ahead.

Following a thorough review of all issues of The Windham Eagle from 2023, 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 2024.


Diamond forms foundation to help stop child homicides

Former State Senator Bill Diamond of Windham created a nonprofit foundation to protect children called “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes,” which is duly filed with the Maine Secretary of State and supported and guided by an advisory board consisting of experts in the field of child protection and child welfare.

According to Diamond, the new foundation will help prevent child homicides and the abuse of children who are under the supervision or direct care of the State of Maine or who are or have been associated with the state’s Child Protective System.

“Children associated with state care have been dying at record levels, in fact, as recently as 2021 a record number of children died, many were victims of child homicides,” Diamond said. “The chilling question is: How many more children must die before we make meaningful changes?”

Diamond said he was first made aware of the issues affecting child homicide in Maine and the state’s child protection system in 2001.

“The problem has continued to persist over the past 22 years under four different gubernatorial administrations, Independent, Republican, and Democrat,” he said. “The problems are not partisan based. They are the concern of all of us. This is the most important thing I’ve ever been able to do, nothing comes close.”

To learn more about the issue, Diamond said he’s attended many child-homicide trials and sentencings over the past years and each time he does, he’s made aware of the gruesome and sad details of an abused child dying needlessly. To create and launch this new initiative, Diamond has committed $25,000 of his own money to provide the support necessary to get the foundation functioning without delay.

He’s also assembled a distinguished advisory board for the foundation including former Maine Gov. John Baldacci; former Maine Assistant Attorney General Lou Ann Clifford; former Maine Attorney General Mike Carpenter; Dr. Amanda Brownell, a pediatric physician and Medical Director of the Spurwink Center for Safe and Healthy Families; former State Senator and State Representative Joyce Maker; and the former Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and a national advisor on child safety, Michael Petit.

“It’s time we committed ourselves as citizens, government agencies, legislators, and media to ending these needless child deaths. Too many children keep dying and nothing seems to change,” Diamond said. <

Windham awards new contract to town manager

By virtue of a new contract, the Town of Windham will continue to tap into the experience, expertise, and leadership abilities of Barry Tibbetts as town manager. Tibbetts, who was appointed by the Windham Town Council as the interim town manager in November 2019, assumed duties as the fulltime town manager in March 2020.

In extending a new three-year contract to Tibbetts, councilors authorized him to perform the functions and duties of the town manager and to hold all offices as specified in the town's charter and to complete other duties and functions. Under terms of the contract, Windham will pay Tibbetts an annual base salary of $160,741.80, which Phyllis Moss, the town’s human resources director detailed in a memo for councilors as being in line with compensation for other town managers leading nearby communities.

Based upon the new agreement, Tibbetts would receive cost-of-living adjustments for town employees starting in July 2023 based upon results of his annual performance evaluation. He would also be eligible for a longevity increase should he stay through the third year of the contract in Fiscal Year 2025-2026.

“I truly believe if you had not come to Windham when you did, we would not be in the position that we are in,” Councilor Jarrod Maxfield told Tibbetts. “Windham is getting a lot more than we’re paying for.”

In August 2022, Tibbetts was honored with the Maine Town, City and County Management Association’s 2022 Leadership Award during the association’s annual convention at Sugarloaf. The award is presented to recognize a Public Administrator in the state for a particularly bold and innovative project or for solving an unusually difficult problem and then playing a key role in developing the project as well as in implementing it.

As town manager, Tibbetts has spearheaded efforts to acquire and conserve the East Windham Conservation Area, Windham’s new sewer and wastewater treatment project and to alleviate persistent traffic congestion in North Windham along Route 302 through creation of a system of new access roads and sophisticated high-tech traffic signals. <

Town hopes sidewalk improvements spur South Windham growth

The revitalization of South Windham moved another step closer when 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.

Town councilors approved the application during a meeting and the sidewalk funding 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.

Windham 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.

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.

During the June 2022 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. <


Windham student wins state VFW 2023 ‘Voice of Democracy’ award

An audio essay by Hunter Edson, a Windham Christian Academy senior, was judged as the best in the state in the 2023 Voice of Democracy contest.

Edson had captured the Windham VFW Post 10643 Voice of Democracy title in November and then won the district competition to advance to the state contest, where he was awarded first place at a dinner at the Augusta Civic Center on Jan. 21. Winning the state award means that Edson’s audio essay qualified him for the national VFW Voice of Democracy contest.

The “Voice of Democracy” competition is open to all high school students, grades 9 to 12, including those who are home-schooled. For this year, students were asked to write and record a 3- to 5-minute essay on an audio CD about this year's theme "Why is the Veteran Important?"

In winning the Maine Voice of Democracy contest, Edson also qualifies for a four-day, all-expense paid trip to Washington for the national competition. The annual competition was established in 1947 and encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society and provides students with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money. The national first-place scholarship prize is $35,000, with second- and third-place national winners taking home $21,000 and $15,000 respectfully. Each year more than 25,000 students across America submit audio essays for the competition.

Windham VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman said that Edson’s presentation is worthy of the awards and attention it has received.

“I think Hunter Edson’s Voice of Democracy presentation is so powerful for two reasons,” Goodman said. “First, throughout his speech, Hunter posed questions directly related to the topic which engaged the listeners, and secondly, he provided specific examples and thoughtful, interesting answers to those questions. He gave factual answers about veterans but also went beyond those to give his personal reflections on what the term veteran means to him.” <

Woodbrey confident in leading Windham’s MSSPA

When the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals was looking for a new leader to replace longtime executive director Meris Bickford, it didn’t have to search very far. Kathy Woodbrey of Raymond, who has been part of the leadership team at MSSPA for the last 11 years, has assumed the leadership role for the nonprofit organization and is eager to put what she’s learned through the years to good use.

Woodbrey was born in Pennsylvania and her family moved to the mid-coast of Maine the summer before she entered sixth grade. She graduated from Lincoln Academy in Newcastle and went on to receive an Associate of Science degree in animal medical technology from the University of Maine at Orono. In 2004 and 2005, Woodbrey attended Andover College to study accounting and in 2021 she earned a Non-Profit Management certificate from the University of Southern Maine.

Based in Windham, the mission of the MSSPA is to provide refuge, rehabilitation, and placement of seized equines. MSSPA does not charge for its shelter services and seeks no reimbursement from any public source. Horses cared for by the MSSPA come from Maine law enforcement officials and most of them have been abused or neglected.

The MSSPA’s goal for each horse is rehabilitation and a new home, but if no suitable adoption is found, horses may live out their natural lives at the organization’s farm.

“I have to say that our local community is incredibly supportive of the MSSPA. Members of the local community volunteer at the farm and donate to fundraising campaigns,” she said. “Residents of the Southern Maine Re-entry Facility regularly volunteer and one resident at SMWRC is employed by MSSPA. Students from Windham High School and Windham Middle School volunteer every Friday during the school year. And the Windham Primary School second graders hold a fundraiser for the horses and then come for a field trip each spring. It's a wonderful community and we are glad to be a part of it.” <

Polar Dip participants plunge into Sebago Lake

It takes a special mentality to fully appreciate the benefits of diving into 33-degree water, but more than three dozen individuals tried it out when they plunged into chilly Sebago Lake as part of the annual Polar Dip off Raymond Beach on Feb. 18. Sponsored by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the popular event is the largest fundraiser staged every year for “Feed the Need,” an initiative that donates to 12 different food pantries in the Lakes Region of Maine.

Some of the participants jumped into the lake while wearing costumes and others participated as part of teams representing clubs, organizations, or businesses. But everyone jumping into Sebago Lake for the Polar Dip agreed upon one thing – how cold the water was.

Staging the Polar Dip off Raymond Beach turned out to be a significant undertaking.

A hole was cut in the lake ice about 200 yards off Raymond Beach on the Wednesday prior to the fundraiser and Polar Dip officials expected shelf ice to expand as temperatures dropped to about 18 degrees the night before the event was scheduled to take place. The shelf ice at that location was between 3 and 4 inches when the hole was originally cut, but several days of warmer weather rising to almost 52 degrees later in the week prevented further ice formation and resulted in the loss of about an inch of ice before the fundraiser.

To assure everyone’s safety, the heating trailers for participants were kept on shore and only the teams jumping were led out on the ice and then brought back to the shoreline.

“Saturday was certainly eventful. Usually, we can all go out to the hole and watch the jumpers and the heated trailers are right there to change in,” said Robin Mullins, executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. “Not this year. I had to walk each team out individually to keep the weight on the ice low. The ice did break up a bit, but it managed to stay together enough to get all 10 teams, or 35 jumpers, into the water.” <


Windham third grader’s fundraiser makes big difference for community

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.

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.”

When the donations first started coming in, Doughty said that she felt grateful that people were helping, and 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. <

Town of Raymond to assume milfoil harvesting duties from RWPA volunteers

Responsibility for the Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting Program (DASH) milfoil mitigation program will now be handled by the Town of Raymond instead of the Raymond Waterways Protective Association.

Members of Raymond’s Select Board have voted unanimously to take over this task from the RWPA following a letter sent to the town in December by Peggy Jensen, RWPA president.

“After careful consideration of all the imaginable ways to address the remaining small patches and the inevitable stray plants that may regenerate from even tiny pieces of stem or root, we have decided the best solution is to move the DASH program to the town,” Jensen wrote to Raymond Select Board members.

Jensen said that RWPA has pledged to guide town personnel in taking ownership of the boat and its necessary equipment so that it could be quickly put back into operation and in applying for possibly available grant funds.

“RWPA will continue to monitor and mitigate any invasive aquatic species found in the upper Jordan River, from the Route 302 highway to Mill Street, and Dingley Brook, from Cape Road to Sebago Lake,” Jensen wrote. “We will continue to operate the Courtesy Boat Inspection program at four launch sites in Raymond. We hope to have continuing support from the town for this program.”

The Raymond Waterways Protective Association was created in the early 1970s by Ernest Bickford and Ernest Knight with a mission established to monitor and preserve the water quality of all Raymond lakes.

Bodies of water being monitored by RWPA volunteers include Crescent Lake, Notched Pond, Panther Pond, Raymond Pond, Sebago Lake and Thomas Pond.

“All the smaller lakes and ponds have volunteers who are trained to identify the 11, soon to be 12, invasive aquatic plants that threaten our waters,” said Jensen. “We have spent years finding and removing invasive variable milfoil in Raymond’s waters, with most of it being done by a dive crew as all our divers are trained and certified for SCUBA work and for the specialized work of removing invasive plants.” <

New Windham High softball coach aims to bring fun to team

Darcey Gardiner was named coach of the Windham High varsity softball team and it’s a reunion of sorts. Gardiner, a 2006 Windham High graduate, brings a world of experience to the field as she was a three-sport athlete in high school and a two-sport athlete in college. She began coaching in 2007 in Windham with varsity and middle school softball and middle school basketball.

Gardiner has also coached youth basketball and junior varsity softball for South Portland. She was the assistant women’s softball coach at Bates College in Lewiston, and she’s been an assistant varsity girls’ basketball coach for Edward Little in Auburn. In 2020, she took over the Gray New Gloucester High School softball program, before deciding to come back to Windham.

The Gardiner family is a big baseball family. Gardiner’s grandfather and father were both baseball coaches and her father coached Gardiner through Little League.

Sports are a huge part of her life. Gardiner says she loves sports because of how creative they allow you to be while still giving you a competitive, family-like atmosphere.

“I always knew I wanted to coach sports in my hometown someday,” said Gardiner. “I grew up playing Windham Little League, going to varsity games on the old field and was lucky enough to be the first to play on the new field. Windham sports are home to me.”

Her parents drove Gardiner’s passion for sports. She played soccer, basketball and softball in high school and basketball and softball in college. To this day, she continues to play those sports.

“Between loving sports, my desire to be a positive female leader, and my passion for working with the youth has driven me to a love of coaching. Wanting to be back in Windham is a no-brainer for me,” said Gardiner. “To be able to gain the trust of your athletes and their families is something special that creates life-long bonds and that is something I really cherish when it comes to coaching.” <


Windham’s ‘A Team’ surges to Quiz Bowl State Championship

Acquiring knowledge and putting it to good use should be the goal of every student and members of Windham High School’s “A Team” took that task to heart in winning the National Academic Quiz Team State Championship at Bates College in Lewiston. Team members say that extracurricular activities can be an uplifting experience for most students and are a way to discover passions and spend time doing something you enjoy. The Quiz Team is just one out of many extracurricular activities that Windham students can participate in, and this team has acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience since being created in 2018.

Meeting on Mondays and Fridays after school and in the mornings before classes, Quiz Team members spend a fair amount of time dedicated to learning trivia.

Senior Greta Paulding has been involved with the Quiz Team since her freshman year.

“When the original team graduated at the end of my sophomore year, I took over as team captain. Over the past two years, I have watched us grow from eight to more than 20,” Paulding said. “My teammates are dedicated to not only learning as much as they can, but also supporting each other through good times and bad. We are not only colleagues, we are friends.”

She said that with more students joining the Quiz Team, they were able to creatively pursue knowledge.

“A big takeaway from being part of the team is that to be successful every player needs to be strong,” said Kaitlyn Farrin, a Windham Quiz Team member. “Some teams try to rely on one ‘star player’ in games, but I have found that teams with a more balanced attack where everyone contributes, often do better.”

The National Academic Quiz Bowl’s format contains three bonus questions after each tossup question that only the correct answering team can respond to. During this segment of the competition, questions can feature an assortment of topics, which test the extensive knowledge of contributing teams. <

Windham Odyssey of the Mind team earns spot in world finals

Coming in first place in their division, Windham Primary School and Manchester’s combined Odyssey of the Mind team participated in the Nor’easter Tournament at Sanford High School, landing them invitations to the World Finals.

Odyssey of the Mind’s purpose is to educate all students how to use and develop their pure creativity to solve problems of any kind without fear or high confusion. When competing, the team’s goal is to fit all the required pieces into an eight-minute performance skit. From making props, to coming up with lines, teams do it all by themselves.

During practice, students learn and work on their teamwork and being a quick thinker. The strategy of being fast helps them in the long run with verbal and hands-on spontaneous problem solving.

Windham Primary School’s third graders and Manchester School’s fourth and fifth grades had formed a team of seven members to compete in the Odyssey of the Mind competition. The seven student members range in age from 8 to 11.

During these competitions, students can gain a sense of self confidence while grasping an emphasis on public speaking, teamwork, and time management, all of which are important skills, despite their age.

“They performed in the gym in front of a table of judges and audience. Once they completed their performance, we watched some other teams compete that had the same problem as them as well as some other problems. These kids always like seeing what other teams come up with,” said Windham coach Rebecca Miller, who runs this Odyssey of the Mind engaged team and guided their success in their division at the state competition.

According to Miller, the students had high hopes as they placed third last year and worked hard for a better finish.

“This year, they were really anxious,” Miller said. “When they called third place, then second place, our stomachs were definitely in knots. When they announced we got first place, I was definitely crying tears of pride - they earned it.” <

Windham author publishes new children’s book about lobsters

Mary-Ann Coppersmith of Windham knows a thing or two about lobsters from being part of a lobstering family. The crustaceans have fascinated her so much that she’s written a new children’s book, “The Three Little Lobsters,” drawn from the seafaring experiences of her husband of 46 years and the curiosity of her three grandchildren.

She says she was inspired to write the book after she experienced the fascination that rare crustaceans inspire around the world. Her husband, Capt. Bill Coppermith, sparked a media frenzy when he caught a rare bright orange lobster in 2015 and then discovered an equally rare cotton candy lobster in 2021 while lobstering in Casco Bay Inlet.

“My grandchildren are what finally motivated me to follow my dream of publishing this book,” Mary-Ann Coppersmith said. “I hope this story will be a favorite of many, young and old, as you follow Captain Bill’s adventures of finding this trio.”

The manuscript for the new book took her about a year to complete, from start to finish, and is published by Page Publishing.

“The hardest part of the book was describing the first rare lobsters’ namesake. The other two were named after my grandchildren,” she said.

Coppersmith, a 60-year resident of Windham, said that she did a lot of her best writing for the book early in the day.

“I found my inspiration for writing was best in the morning,” she said. “I kept a notebook with me and when an idea or memory surfaced about the rare crustaceans, I would write it down.”

While the new book was being finished, the lobstering family received some great news that will lead to a sequel soon.

“During the process of publishing the book, our family received exciting news about another grandchild which would be the inspiration for my second book,” Coppersmith said. “Our third grandchild, Liam, would be a big brother to baby Landen. The sequel to my book will be about ‘Liam The Lobster’ and how he guides his brother, baby lobster Landen, through the deep blue sea.” <


Windham High pitcher reaches 500-strikeout milestone

When Windham’s varsity softball team traveled to Thornton Academy in Saco it wasn’t just any game. In the top of the third inning, with the first Thornton Academy batter, junior Brooke Gerry reached the rare prep milestone of 500 strikeouts. Windham went on to beat Thornton Academy 10-1 that day.

When Gerry struck out her 500th batter, the game was stopped. The team and Windham varsity coach Darcey Gardiner rushed onto the field and hugged Gerry. The next day, at home, there was a small ceremony where Gerry was presented with the team ball and a plaque.

“To be honest I never really thought about [reaching 500 strikeouts],” said Gerry. “Not that it’s not a big deal, but you see more players hit 100 hits, not 500 strikeouts. I personally wasn’t expecting it to be as big as it was, but the closer I got, it seemed more real.”

According to Gerry, she gives herself 30 minutes post-game to reflect on her performance; after that she moves on. She learns every time she’s in the circle, whether the game is good or a struggle. Gerry concentrates on the pitch in front of her and tries to not get too high or low during a game.

Gerry started playing softball at 4 years old and began pitching at 6. She played for the 10-Under Flame at 8 but didn’t get to pitch much. She then moved to the Southern Maine River Rats travel team where Gerry pitched more, developed her skills, and she said that’s where her career took off.

“She puts the team first,” said Windham sophomore and catcher Stella Jarvais. “She isn’t selfish when it comes to throwing it for contact and letting the team field, but with her being so good it’s easy for her to strike people out.”

Gerry has committed to the University of Rhode Island to play Division 1 softball and major in prelaw with a concentration in family services. <

Windham EMT receives prestigious Red Cross honor

Rob Parritt of Windham shares an undeniable bond with Windham Fire Rescue Emergency Medical Technician Dustin Andrews and because of it, Parritt is alive today. For his heroism, Andrews received the Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action for his lifesaving efforts presented by Steve Thomas, Executive Director of the Red Cross of Southern Maine at the May 23 Windham Town Council meeting.

On Jan. 24, 2023, Andrews was off duty and traveling home near the Windham and Gorham town line when he observed a vehicle ahead of him driving erratically. Suddenly a bystander appeared in the middle of the road and waved Andrews down, telling him that the erratic driver had accelerated, left the roadway, and crashed into a snowbank.

Parritt says that he was on his way to work that night and remembers very little of that entire day. But what happened to him was he suffered cardiac arrest and passed out, crashing his vehicle.

When Andrews realized what had happened, he radioed for assistance and when approaching the crash scene, he discovered that Parritt was turning different colors inside the vehicle. He realized that Parritt was not breathing and required immediate medical attention. With the help of the bystander, Andrews broke out a window in the vehicle and the two of them pulled Parritt out. Andrews initiated CPR and continued it for about eight to 10 minutes before paramedics arrived at the site to take over and transport Parritt to the hospital.

Because of his training, bravery, ability to perform CPR and quick thinking, Parritt survived the incident and was taken to the hospital, where he spent about a week recovering from the harrowing ordeal. Hospital doctors implanted a defibrillator to monitor his heart rate and put a pacemaker in his chest to stabilize his heartbeat to keep it from beating too slowly and going again into cardiac arrest.

“Thanks to his training and fortitude, Dustin was able to be the bystander we all hope comes to our aid, and the bystander we should all aspire to be,” Thomas said. <

Restored blacksmith shop brings history to life at Raymond-Casco Historical Museum

Steeped in history, the Watkins Blacksmith Shop is one of the oldest blacksmith shops still in existence in Maine, and now visitors to the Raymond-Casco Historical Society Museum will be able to watch blacksmiths take red-hot iron from the fires of the shop’s forge and hammer it into a variety of tools and hardware.

A year-long project to resurrect and preserve the shop and move it to the museum grounds in Casco was completed in May and it will become the centerpiece and star attraction to a revitalized museum of artifacts and antiquities unequaled anywhere in the Lakes Region of Maine. The blacksmith shop was first opened in the 1850s by William Watkins and was in use right up until the 1940s in Casco.

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 slowly became a crumbling relic of Maine’s past. That is, until an idea about moving the building was pitched to Frank McDermott, president of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society. He 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 and now that idea has become a reality.

Carefully disassembling every piece of the old shop, refurbishing them and reassembling that building, the blacksmith shop is now weather tight, and steps have been taken to preserve its interior, particularly the ox-lift. The split stone hearth has been moved and reassembled and the chimney has been reconstructed using period bricks.

A team of advisors assisted the historical society in moving the structure to the museum and that group included Dr. Robert Schmick, Museum Director of 19th Century Curran Village in Orrington, Ed Somers of Bridgton, a specialist in preservation and restoration of buildings of this era, and Kerry Tottle of Limington, who devised a plan for lifting sections of the building over an adjacent building at its original location. <


Dignitaries hail groundbreaking for North Windham Wastewater Treatment Facility

Dedication of the new Wastewater Treatment site on the grounds of Manchester School on June 27 was something many Windham residents didn’t think was possible or could ever happen, but ground has been broken for the new state-of-the art facility and it was an event that drew everyone from U.S. senators to fourth graders.

After decades of proposals, studies, and rejections from voters at the ballot box, Windham residents resoundingly approved a proposed $40.4 million sewer and wastewater treatment project for North Windham in a special referendum. Partnering with the Portland Water District and RSU 14 to create the massive infrastructure project, the Windham Town Council set about to cover the initiative through a combination of grant funding, a $38.9 million award by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and North Windham TIF funding supported by North Windham businesses.

Once completed, a new wastewater treatment facility will be built on the grounds of Manchester School, which will address environmental issues in North Windham by removing 25,000 pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants each year being dumped by septic systems into the aquifer and watershed. The installation of sewers is expected to stimulate significant economic growth in Windham and lead to development in the area by industries and businesses not willing to locate here because of associated septic system issues and costs.

Speakers at the dedication included Windham Town Council Chair Mark Morrison, RSU Schools superintendent Christopher Howell, Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note, Portland Water District General Manager Seth Garrison, Windham Town Councilor Jarrod Maxfield, and Maine U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King.

“Windham is the gateway to Maine’s beautiful lakes region and is a major retail center for the surrounding communities,” said Senator Collins. “This advanced wastewater treatment facility will support continued job and residential growth in Windham while also protecting the environmental health of Sebago Lake, Little Sebago, and other local bodies of water.” <

Windham High softball captures first Class A State Title

For the first time since 1995 when the Lady Eagles’ softball team was Class B, Windham softball has captured the Class A State Championship. Ranked second in Class A South and facing Class A’s No. 1 ranked Oxford Hills, Windham took control of the game early and worked hard to churn out a 3-1 victory at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham on Tuesday, June 20.

“No words can even describe it,” said Windham senior Hannah Heanssler, who dove for an amazing catch early in the game. “It’s the exact way I’ve always wanted my season and my career as a softball player to end and playing for this team has been incredible and I cannot put it into words how amazing it is.”

Oxford Hills put one run on the scoreboard in the first inning to take an early lead, but Windham answered in the bottom of the first when junior Brooke Gerry reached on an error and sophomore Stella Jarvais and junior Jaydn Kimball then walked. Sophomore Kennedy Kimball’s flied out and Gerry scored on a wild pitch. Jarvais was at third base ready to bolt; and bolt she did, scoring her team’s second run. Windham led 2-1 after one inning.

“Our strategy was mental toughness,” said Jarvais. “Knowing the crowd was going to be big we had to dial in and trust each other and focus on pitch by pitch what we were going to do, and I think we did that very well.”

In the third inning, Gerry singled, and freshman Addison Caiazzo walked. Jaydn Kimball singled, scoring Gerry and Windham had a 3-1 lead.

“This is definitely surreal,” said Windham varsity softball coach Darcey Gardiner. “Our willpower earned this win. From Day One we have said one pitch at a time. The focus and the one pitch at a time motto is how we keep that composure to win. Making the adjustments when we’re up to the plate, making the adjustments when we’re on defense, every pitch you are doing something different ... I’m really proud of them for keeping their composure and pulling it out.” <

Raymond students place first in Maine 2023 National InvestWrite® Competition

Two Raymond students, Cadence O’Brion and Kaleb Fitch, were honored for their skill at developing financial portfolios.

O’Brion, a fifth grader, and Fitch, a sixth grader both attend Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond, and they understand how teamwork can translate into building a diversified portfolio geared for long-term financial success. Their exceptional approach led to an extraordinary achievement in the SIFMA Foundation’s Spring InvestWrite competition.

O’Brion competed among thousands of other students around the country to write the best essay about long-term investing and the capital markets in the elementary school division. Fitch competed among thousands of other students around the country to write the best essay about long-term investing and the capital markets in the middle school division. Along with their teacher, Jack Fitch, the students were honored by the SIFMA Foundation during a classroom presentation on June 6.

SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite national essay competition bridges classroom learning in math, social studies, and language arts with the practical research and knowledge required for saving, investing and long-term planning. It also serves as a culminating activity for The Stock Market Game™, a curriculum-based financial education program that challenges students to manage a hypothetical $100,000 online portfolio of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and cash over a semester or school year.

“I am delighted to congratulate Cadence, her teacher and their school,” said Melanie Mortimer, President of the SIFMA Foundation. “The research is clear that social and emotional learning is a critical component to students’ motivation, achievement and wellbeing. By participating in the Stock Market Game and InvestWrite, Cadence has learned how working with a team can offer insights and increase confidence to make informed financial life decisions and achieve better life outcomes.”

Kaleb Fitch said that he was confident about this year’s competition.

“Thanks to the SIFMA Foundation and the different programs they offer to students I have learned a lot about the stock market and how it operates,” he said. “This is my third time that I have participated in the InvestWrite competition, and I found this writing prompt to be an easy one to write about.” <