Showing posts with label Bill Diamond. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bill Diamond. Show all posts

Friday, November 18, 2022

Veterans Day observance honors Windham residents who served

By Ed Pierce

Windham has a long and proud tradition of honoring those who served in the military and on Friday, Nov. 11, once again the community gathered at the Windham Veterans Center to say thanks to local veterans for their sacrifices while in uniform.

American Legion Field-Allen Post 148
bugler Linwood Bailey plays 'Taps' during
a ceremony on Friday, Nov. 11 to commemorate
Veterans Day at the Windham Veterans Center.
During a ceremony led by VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman, local veterans were recognized for their contributions and treated to a lunch donated by area businesses.

“Veterans Day honors the duty, sacrifice and service of our veterans,” Goodman said. “We cannot ever forget what they have given our nation.”

Goodman then introduced guest speaker Kevin Demmons of East Winthrop, an inspiring Afghanistan veteran and a former U.S. Army paratrooper who uses his military background to help others as a strength and conditioning coach, a life skills coach, and a motivational speaker in the Bangor area.

“Like many combat soldiers when I came home, I brought back some baggage,” Demmons said. “You don’t just forget about that feeling when you think you are going to die, or even worse the sights and smells of your brothers dying.”

He joined the Army in January 2011 and later that year saw combat against the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Paktia province and saw many people, both soldiers, civilians and the enemy lose their lives, leading to his ongoing sense of unhappiness and depression.

“It was war, it was hard times and there are things you don’t forget,” Demmons said. “I had a lot of things to work through when I got home. I thought I couldn’t be happy. I carried that victim mentality for a long time.”

Demmons described arriving at a village in Afghanistan shortly after a suicide bomber had exploded an incendiary device that killed U.S. soldiers who had simply stopped to give out candy to Afghan children as a gesture of friendship. It was something that Demmons said that he had little time to process as he had to load dead bodies onto a truck and drive a wounded soldier for emergency treatment and then he returned home to Maine the very next day.

After struggling personally and professionally in civilian life back home and out of the Army, Demmons said he came to a profound realization with the help of a therapist.

“I decided to live in spite of the fallen,” he said. “I decided to live in honor of them. Trying to be successful for yourself gives you a sense of purpose.”

Demmons said he focused on what gave him his greatest release from reliving his wartime experiences and that was his ability to train and exercise.

“I chose a path of fitness, nutrition, work and changing my mindset to live a better life.”

That epiphany led him to healthier relationships with his wife and family and a much happier life.

The Veterans Day observance included a performance by the Windham Chamber Singers and the presentation of the flag and colors by Windham Boy Scout Troop 805.

On hand for the observance were State Senator Bill Diamond, incoming State Senator Tim Nangle, State Representatives Mark Bryant and Patrick Corey, and Windham Town Councilor David Nadeau. Former State Senator and State Representative Gary Plummer also attended the event.

Following the VFW observance, a ceremony marking Veterans Day was held in the Windham Veterans Center courtyard by American Legion Post 148 where a wreath was placed remembering all veterans from Windham who served.

Placing the wreath was American Legion Post 148 Commander Tom Theriault and VFW Commander Goodman, accompanied by Windham’s sole remaining World War II veteran Carroll McDonald as American Legion bugler Linwood Bailey played "Taps." <

Friday, January 7, 2022

Plummer to seek return to Maine State Senate

By Ed Pierce

A familiar face has thrown his hat in the ring to succeed Bill Diamond in representing Windham in the Maine State Senate.

Republican Gary Plummer has announced his intention to campaign for Windham’s District 26 Senate seat this fall to replace incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Diamond, who is term limited. Plummer has extensive experience serving in the Maine Legislature, including as a state representative and a state senator.

Former State Rep. and State Sen. Gary Plummer, a Republican,
will seek Windham's District 26 State Senate seat this fall, in
an election to replace Sen. Bill Diamond, who is term limited.
“A year ago, I didn’t want to run, I’m retired,” Plummer said. “My wife told me I needed to run for Maine Senate. I can bring something there, which is experience. I know the system and I know the people. Deciding to run has been a slow process for me, but I can do it and I’m in it to win.”

A 1964 graduate of Windham High School, Plummer says he first became interested in politics while attending Dirigo Boys State as a high school junior in 1963. After graduation, he went on to earn a degree in education from Gorham State Teachers College and spent 13 years teaching in Standish before joining Manchester School as an elementary school teacher in 1982.

Plummer was asked by his former biology teacher at Windham High, Bob Hunt, to help serve on a committee examining if Windham should establish its own police force in the mid-1970s and it gave him insight into the workings of town government.

That knowledge expanded further when a referendum converting Windham government to the Council-Town Manager system was passed by voters. Hunt suggested to Plummer that he should run for town council, and he was elected to a council seat in November 1974.

“I loved being a town councilor,” Plummer said. “I liked building and creating the town government we know today. I cast the deciding vote breaking a 3-3 tie to create the Windham Police Department. But after serving eight years on the council things became more routine and the excitement of doing something new started to go away.”

He then ran for Cumberland County Commission and was elected for several four-year terms as a county commissioner.

“It was an enjoyable experience, and I learned a great deal about public safety,” Plummer said. “During my time as a commissioner, we helped transition the position of corrections officer to a career rather than just be a stepping stone to other law enforcement positions.”

His friend, State Rep. David Tobin of Windham, informed Plummer that he would not be running for re-election and Plummer, who had retired as a teacher by then, campaigned and won election as State Representative for Windham in 2004, serving eight years in that role before running and serving one term as Windham’s state senator from 2012 to 2014.

“It was an honor I never took lightly,” Plummer said. “It was a steep learning curve at first. Going from dealing with issues in town government to the politics in Augusta was challenging. My first term was an eye-opening experience. I didn’t expect everything to be so political. But I learned to work with people to get things done.”

Plummer says his willingness to work with others to accomplish legislation that benefits the residents of Windham and everyone in Maine is needed in Augusta and having someone with experience is critical right now.

“I can work with just about everyone,” Plummer said.

District 26 has been redrawn by the Maine Legislature and now encompasses Casco, Frye Island, Windham, Raymond, and now a portion of Westbrook. Currently no other challengers have stepped forward to run for the Republican nomination for the state senate seat, but if there is, a primary election will be conducted in June.

He lives in Windham with his wife Betty in a home his grandparents built on land they bought in 1910. His first wife died and between them, he and Betty have four children, five grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

His interests include antique automobiles and Plummer is the proud owner of 1965 Ford Mustang and a 1949 Ford F-150 pickup truck, close to the one he learned to drive on as a teen in his father’s hayfield.

“I like just about anything regarding history,” he said. “I volunteer with the Windham Historical Society and helped to establish the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Program.”

Plummer said that he has spoken with Diamond about continuing to champion child welfare issues in the state and if elected, he would also focus on resolving domestic violence issues in Maine.

“A lot needs to be done,” he said. “I am also looking to help address the drug issues in our state and making sure the right individuals are chosen to serve as school resource officers.” <  

Friday, October 22, 2021

Neighbors Helping Neighbors organization preparing for another heating assistance season

Watch for information about Windham Neighbors Helping 
Neighbors online auction which will help provide funds
for heating assistance for local families. If you would like
to donate, go to
 By Ed Pierce

If you ask Bill Diamond what’s been one of the most rewarding feelings that he’s ever experienced, he’ll tell you it’s his association with the Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors program.

Diamond, a state senator representing Windham and former Maine Secretary of State, helped co-found Neighbors Helping Neighbors, which helps area residents in need stay warm during some of the coldest months of the year. He served as the organization’s president for 13 years before deciding to let new leaders steer the group.

But Neighbors Helping Neighbors is a source of pride for Diamond and remains a relevant and viable resource in the community as Windham and Raymond approach another winter heating season.

“The community has become totally supportive, much more so than I ever expected which is evidenced by the routine unsolicited donations we receive throughout the year,” Diamond said.

The program provides one-time emergency heating fuel assistance to Windham residents and helps to direct individuals in need to find appropriate resources and to promote a culture of neighbors helping neighbors in the community.

“The community believes in our cause, and we have become the default local charity when groups or individuals want to donate to a good local cause,” Diamond said. “Hopefully the organization will continue to grow and nurture the solid reputation that has been achieved. I have no doubt that will be the case.”

Windham’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors organization was founded in October 2007 by Diamond, Representative Mark Bryant, and former Representative Gary Plummer. It is a 501c3 non-profit and is made up of Windham volunteers who have come together to provide one-time emergency assistance to those Windham residents who require immediate heating fuel.

Patrick Corey is currently serving as the president of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

The organization itself has no overhead costs whatsoever and all funding goes directly to helping those in desperate need. Every penny that is donated goes for heating fuel and 100 percent of fundraising efforts are used for the purchase of fuel for those who are in dire need.

Diamond says the organization focuses its resources on those who may have fallen through the cracks and either don’t qualify or are in a bureaucratic process waiting for heating assistance from other agencies.

“The most striking and unforgettable case that we helped involved a single mom with two kids and she had serious physical challenges,” Diamond said. “We heard about her needs, so we visited her home in January and discovered she was totally out of heating fuel and in an effort to keep her family warm, she had placed blankets on the doorways surrounding the kitchen, had a small electric heater and they all slept and lived in that space.”

He said that the family slept closely together at night using their body heat to keep them warm.

“This was happening in our own town, not some poverty-stricken country, and it was heartbreaking to see and realize that the struggle to obtain the basics of survival exist here in Windham and no doubt in other towns as well,” Diamond said. “I’ll never forget the expression on her face when we told her we would provide heating fuel for her family, which we did that day. That experience was my motivating force to make Neighbors a highly respected organization that would exist indefinitely for those in our town that need help.”

The heating assistance can be a lifeline for those struggling to stay warm in winter.

“In many cases, Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors help people heat their homes safely without needing to choose between basic needs like heat, rent, medications and food,” Diamond said.

Recipients receive 100 gallons of fuel, and their need can be attributed to many different circumstances. Some are elderly and living on fixed incomes, others may have lost a job or be out of work and trying to reestablish their lives, while some may just have a temporary emergency situation that requires an immediate solution.

The program is confidential and harkens back to a time when neighbors banded together to pitch in and help their neighbors when it was needed the most.

The Neighbors Helping Neighbors organization lines up deliveries to recipients. It provides heating oil, but assistance also can be rendered for those with KI and propane systems or through Bio-Bricks for homes using wood-burning heat.

During the first year of operations for Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a total of 17 families were helped. By 2014, that number grew to 101 families, and that total has since stabilized at about 75 families locally each winter.

The organization continues to serve the community because of countless donations of labor, hours, ideas and funding through contributions of money and goods from concerned individuals and businesses, Diamond said.

For more details about Neighbors Helping Neighbors, visit or call 207-1336. To make a financial donation to the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program, go to To apply for assistance, go to

Friday, August 6, 2021

She touched many lives: Windham and Raymond remember educator Jani Cummings

 By Brian Bizier

Longtime educator taught first grade and second grade for
38 years at Raymond Elementary School and later became
a member of the RSU 14 Board of Directors. A memorial
service will be held on Sunday afternoon at Jordan-Small
Middle School for Cummings, who died in April of 
respiratory failure at age 67. COURTESY PHOTO 
Every town holds its share of inspiring citizens who seem to know everyone, who manage to stay in touch with friends and relatives all over the world, and who have a gift for bringing the community together. For Windham and Raymond, Janis Elizabeth Cummings was that amazing person.

Born April 9, 1954 in Beaufort, South Carolina to Samuel Cummings and Lou Nerren, who were both U.S. Marines, Janis, known to her friends and family as Jani, and her brother, grew up traveling all over the world. Her family eventually settled in Raymond, and Jani attended Windham High School, where she was very active in drama productions. Upon graduation, she enrolled at Westbrook College and the University of Southern Maine, where she received her teaching degree.

For Jani, teaching meant following in her family’s footsteps.

“In my first year of teaching, Jani’s mother, Lou Cummings, was also a teacher,” said Bill Diamond, Maine State Senator’s from Windham. “Lou was a former Marine, she was someone I respected, and I always did whatever she told me.”

Upon earning her teaching degree, Jani joined Raymond Elementary School, where she taught first and second grade students for 38 years. She was a beloved teacher with a gift for bringing community members into her classrooms and interacting with students.

“She had this amazing way of getting you outside your comfort zone and encouraging you to just be better, in a way,” said Jessica Fay, a Maine State Representative from Raymond. “Jani was one of the first people that I met after we moved here and I opened the flower shop, so we met because of flowers. She loved flowers, and I was a florist. I didn’t have a lot of experience with young children, but one of the things that she did, is she said, ‘I would love for you to come to my class and teach Japanese floral design to my first-graders.’ Which was terrifying! She encouraged me, she kind of told me that this was something she’d really like to have happen.”

Eventually, Fay did agree to join Jani’s classroom.

“I did it,” Fay said. “I went into the class and taught the kids while they were studying Japan. That was how Jani taught. She was a teacher of young students, but she was also a teacher for the adults around her.”

Diamond shared similar memories of Jani’s classroom.

“She was a teacher in Raymond when I was Maine Secretary of State,” Diamond said. “And she’d invite me down to talk to the students. Even when I finished as secretary, I kept visiting her class.”

Fay recounted that Jani was an amazing teacher.

“She had this way with kids, and adults too, and their parents,” she said. “I think a teacher needs to be able to have a relationship with an entire family, and she really did.”

Deborah Hutchinson, former principal of Raymond Elementary School, agrees with Fay’s assessment.

“She could make the school come alive,” Hutchinson said.

Jani’s ability to form relationships extended far beyond the walls of Raymond Elementary School.

“Something that was super sweet with Jani, on a personal note was that out of the blue, you’d get a note from Jani that she was thinking of you or just wanted to encourage you” said Chris Howell, RSU 14 Schools Superintendent. “She really cared about those personal relationships and did all she could to foster them.”

For Jani, those personal relationships took many forms. She was very active in the local Democratic Party, and very supportive of women in politics.

“I can’t remember who encouraged who to run for office, but she was always very supportive of and encouraging of me when I decided to run, and when she decided to run for School Board,” Fay said.

For many, Jani was also a part of many Raymond residents’ more romantic moments.

“She was a notary public, so she married many of the people in town,” Hutchinson said. “She married my daughter and her husband and she performed the ceremony.”

Once she retired from teaching, Jani opened a bed and breakfast in her Victorian home, which was across the street from the Raymond Village Library. She loved connecting to visitors from around the world, and she also loved welcoming Raymond’s children into her yard on Halloween.

“Halloween will never be the same down in the village,” Hutchinson said. “Jani would have 300 or more kids come to her house, and she always made sure she had enough candy for everyone.”

Jani also continued her involvement in education by becoming an active and vital member of the RSU 14 School Board following her retirement.

“She had an absolute love of children,” Howell said. “She would do anything possible in her power to help a kid out and to make sure that a kid succeeded and, to go along with that, to make sure the teachers had everything they needed. It didn’t matter if it was in her classroom or doing policy and procedures for the School Board.”

Her commitment to caring for others continued throughout her entire life, even toward the end. Howell described School Board leadership meetings on Zoom which Jani attended from the ICU when she became ill.

“She couldn’t speak, because she was on a ventilator,” Howell said. “So, she wrote messages on a whiteboard.”

Jani also expressed concern for the hospital’s staff during her stay.

“Even in the ICU, Jani was thinking about the staff at the hospital,” Hutchinson said. “She asked me if I would go out and get some ‘fancy candy’ for them. So, I got a couple dozen boxes of fancy candy and passed them out.”

Jani Cummings passed away on April 24 after a courageous battle with respiratory failure. She was 67 years old.

“Jani was our conscience,” said Diamond. “No matter who you were, she was a consistent conscience for all of us. She was an example of how to live right and care for others. When she passed away, and I think a lot of people feel the same way, we lost a piece of what’s really good.”

Fay agrees.

“It’s very difficult for me to imagine Raymond without her,” Fay said.
“She really was one of those people who connected different people in different parts of the community and brought them together. She taught us the importance of community and connection. I think when we are committed to each other, and to our community, we’re honoring her.”

Howell said that he’ll miss Jani’s dry sense of humor, which he appreciated.

“I’ve heard, since her passing, just countless people in the community who’ve said she was able to touch their lives over the years,” he said. “She was wonderful presence for both communities, Windham and Raymond. I definitely will cherish the time that I had with her. And I miss her.”

A celebration of Jani’s life will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8 at Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond. The event is open to the public, and everyone is invited.

Additionally, Jessica Fay is inviting members of the community to donate flowers from their garden to make community flower arrangements to honor Jani Cummings through the flowers that she so dearly loved. Please call Fay at 415-4218 if you have flowers to share. <

Friday, June 18, 2021

Voters approve Windham’s 2021-2022 budget during annual town meeting

By Matt Pascarella

In the annual meeting at Windham High School on Saturday, June 12 residents voted to approve the 2021–2022 municipal town budget of $35,115,270 and RSU 14’s $52,233,221 budget. Senator Bill Diamond was chosen as this year’s moderator at the meeting.

Senator Bill Diamond takes the podium to preside
as moderator over the Annual Windham Town 
Meeting at Windham High School on Saturday, 
June 12 to approve the municipal town budget and
the RSU schools budget. PHOTO BY
All warrant articles brought to the town meeting were approved by those in attendance.

Some of the approved funds in the municipal budget will create a new parking lot and paving at Lowell Park next to the East Windham Fire Station for $240,000; general paving in Windham for $2,600,000; new playing fields at Manchester School for $1,350,000; and $550,000 to complete the purchase of Engine 7 for the Windham Fire Department.

Windham Town Manager Barry A. Tibbetts said this budget represented the needs of the community going forward. He calls this a flat budget, meaning the municipal budget did not increase.

With the flat budget, taxes from the municipal side stay flat. Tibbetts believes the school budget will have a very slight tax increase.

Will there be a tax increase to residents? Tibbetts does not anticipate a mil rate increase. He said holding all things current to last year, taxes should remain the same or at best go down.

However, the town is doing a property revaluation, so depending on home values some property taxes might go up.

“I am very satisfied. I think they did a lot of hard work and I think it’s reflected in how smoothly the town meeting went,” said Windham resident Lisa Bartell.

Windham resident Len West thought they went through the meeting pretty quick. He is concerned about a tax increase and while they made it a point to say there is no mill rate increase, West said they didn’t say anything about the increase in home values.

“I think it went very well; I think it illustrated the trust that people have in our town council and town manager, and I think that’s positive,” said Diamond. “I think it’s a nice reflection of where we are in the town of Windham.” <

Friday, February 5, 2021

Diamond announces MDOT work plan for state projects in district

In the newly released MDOT Three-Year Plan, 
light capital paving for Falmouth Road will run from 
0.03 of a mile south of Stevens Road and extend south
0.79 of a mile to Route 202 in Windham. FILE PHOTO
AUGUSTA – Sen. Bill Diamond, a Democrat from Windham, has shared the details of Maine’s three-year transportation infrastructure work plan, and what it means for Baldwin, Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish and Windham.

The plan is released annually with an outline of the Maine Department of Transportation’s strategy for road, bridge and other transportation upgrades and maintenance projects.

“Safe and easy-to-use roads, bridges, rail and ferries are essential to daily life for the people who live here and for the millions of people who visit Maine every year,” said Diamond. “As senate chair of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, I know there is always more work to be done in improving our infrastructure. I’m thankful to the MDOT for all the work that they have done in creating this three-year plan.”

According to the MDOT, the work plan covers about $2.71 billion worth of construction and maintenance, which includes 2,180 work items. The three-year plan estimates MDOT will invest in 100 miles of highway construction and rehabilitation; 893 miles of pavement preservation; 2,175 miles of light capital paving for roads and highways; 222 safety and spot improvements; and 166 bridge projects.

The following breakdown is the planned capital and maintenance work for the communities in Senate District 26 in 2021:

Bridge Work:
In Windham, replacing joints, applying sealer to wearing surface, and repairing abutment on Narrows Bridge over Ditch Brook located 260 feet west of Running Brook Road.

Drainage Maintenance:
In Buxton and Standish, drainage improvements along Route 35 beginning at Long Plains Road in Buxton and extending east 3.19 miles to Standish compact line, located 0.24 of a mile west of Apple Lane in Standish.
In Casco, improvement of the large culvert on Route 302 located 0.1 of a mile north of the Bramble Hill Road.

Highway Paving:
In Gorham and Windham, 1 ¼-inch overlay of Route 202 beginning at Route 25 and extending north 3.76 miles, not including Deguio Mill Bridge.
In Gray and Raymond, light capital paving of Egypt Road beginning at North Raymond Road and extending west 4.00 miles to Route 85.
In Raymond, light capital paving of Route 121 beginning at Route 35 and extending north 2.07 miles.
In Raymond, light capital paving of Route 85 beginning at Route 302 and extending northeast 3.78 miles to Raymond Hill Road.
In Standish, light capital paving of Saco Road beginning 0.17 of a mile north of Cape Road and extending north 1.79 miles.
In Windham, light capital paving on Falmouth Road beginning 0.03 of a mile south of Stevens Road and extending south 0.79 of a mile to Route 202.

Highway Safety and Spot Improvements:
In Windham, installation of adaptive traffic signaling systems at various intersections along Route 302, beginning at Route 115 and extending northwest 1.14 miles to Trails End Road. Municipal Partnership Initiative Program.

Policy, Planning and Research:

In Windham, feasibility study of Route 302 beginning at Route 202 and extending north 6.32 miles. Planning Partnership Initiative Program.
In Windham, planning for Varney's Bridge over Pleasant River. Located 0.44 of a mile northwest of Route 4.

Ferry Service
Capital improvements to the Frye Island Ferry Service between Raymond and Frye Island.

The entire MDOT three-year work plan can be viewed here. <

Friday, November 20, 2020

Diamond proposes bill to set standards for vanity plates

Senator Bill Diamond of Windham has
introduced a bill to strengthen the standards
used by the Maine Secretary of State's office
in issuing vanity license plates and to reject
applications for those that are vulgar,
contain hate speech or include language
that refer to drugs.
Senator Bill Diamond of Windham has introduced a bill to strengthen the standards that Maine’s Secretary of State uses to issue vanity license plates.

Diamond’s bill will allow the Secretary of State to reject applications for plates that are vulgar, contain hate speech or that include language referring to drugs.

“As a former Maine Secretary of State, I know that these additional standards are badly needed,” Diamond said. “Some of the plates I see when I’m out on the road today provide strong evidence that the Legislature must create more thorough guidance.”

He served as Maine’s Secretary of State from 1989 to 1997, during which time Maine’s vanity plate program was first implemented. Maine law currently prohibits plates that encourage violence, may result in an act of violence or spur other unlawful activities.

In 2015, Maine repealed restrictions on license plates that could be considered obscene, contemptuous, profane or prejudicial, or which promoted abusive or unlawful activity.

“As the Secretary of State who began the vanity plate program, I never imagined that plates would be used to make such vulgar statements as the ones we’re seeing today,” Diamond said.  “Vanity plates are a fun part of driving in Maine, and have even become a tradition here, but we need to have some limitations when it comes to making public statements on state property (vanity plates) if for no other reason than to demonstrate to our youth that with life comes certain boundaries. Setting some clear standards will make sure everyone is on the same page about what is and is not appropriate for our roadways.”

The bill will now undergo further work in committee.

The 130th Maine Legislature will be sworn in on Dec. 2. <

Friday, November 6, 2020

High voter turnout determines elections results

By Ed Pierce

Significant choices made by voters during Tuesday’s general election will shape the direction of the Windham and Raymond communities for the near future.

Through in-person voting, mail-in and absentee balloting, area voters decided the fate of a special referendum in Raymond to withdraw from RSU 14 and chose elected officials to represent Windham and Raymond in the Maine Legislature, the Maine Senate, on the RSU 14 Windham School Board and picked two councilors to serve on the Windham Town Council.      

In Raymond, Town Clerk Sue Look said that a total of 3,149 voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s election.

The Raymond referendum asking residents if they should withdraw from RSU 14 was defeated with 2,048 votes to 1,018 supporting the proposal.

The referendum was initiated over an ongoing concern from some Raymond residents regarding the town’s level of input and the lack of local control about the school district’s decisions and it was part of a 22-step process required by the State Department of Education to set up a new school district. But those opposed to the withdrawal said it would do more harm to students than good and the voters agreed by voting no on the referendum.

In balloting for Maine House District 67 representing part of Gray, part of Casco, Frye Island and a portion of Raymond, incumbent Sue Austin, a Republican, received 354 votes in Raymond, while Democrat Susan Accardi received 328 votes and Independent Mark Grover tallied 80. Austin won the
seat overall with a total of 3,085 votes to Susan Accardi’s 1,669 and Mark Grover’s 913 votes.

Voting for Maine House District 66, representing part of Raymond, part of Casco and part of Poland, incumbent Democrat Jessica Fay received 1,251 votes from Raymond residents to Republican Gregory Foster’s 1,060 votes. Overall, Fay won the seat with 2,884 votes to Gregory Foster’s 2,745 votes.

“I am grateful to everyone who came out and voted today, and in particular to everyone who worked so incredibly hard to make a day with record breaking turnout run smoothly,” Fay said. “We ran a completely positive campaign focused on ideas and collaboration and I am so proud of that. Maine will face serious challenges in the next two years, and I am ready to help us meet them, together."

In Windham, Town Clerk Linda S. Morrell said results of Tuesday’s election are official.

Morrell said that in voting for Maine House District 24 representing part of Windham, incumbent Democrat Mark Bryant ran unopposed and received 4,638 votes, while incumbent Republican Patrick Corey also ran unopposed and retained his seat representing District 25 by picking up 4,334 votes.

In balloting for State Senate District 26 representing Baldwin, Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish and Windham, Democrat Bill Diamond received 7,426 votes in Windham to Republican Karen Lockwood’s 3,784 votes. Voters in Raymond cast 1,779 votes for Diamond to Lockwood’s 1,289 votes and overall, Diamond retained his seat in the Maine Senate.

"I want to congratulate my opponent, Ms. Lockwood, for running a thoughtful and positive campaign.
Mostly, I want to thank the voters of Windham, Raymond, Standish, Casco, Baldwin and Frye Island for your overwhelming support at the polls,” Diamond said. “Once again I’m humbled by your tremendous endorsement of confidence." 

Voters chose businessman Mark Morrison to serve a three-year term as the At-Large position on the Windham Town Council over former town councilor Robert Muir. Morrison received 5,521 votes to Muir’s 3,739 votes.

In the race for a three-year term representing Windham’s East District on the town council, Brett Jones received 5,102 votes to political newcomer Harrison Deah’s 3,621 voters. Jones, a captain in the Old Orchard Beach Fire Department and a longtime Windham resident,  was appointed by the town council in April to fill the remaining months of the East District seat vacated by the resignation of Councilor Rebecca Cummings in February.

“First of all, I’d like to thank all those who supported me,” Jones said. “I am extremely honored to be able to serve the citizens of Windham and I am excited to continue the work of moving Windham forward.”

Also elected during Tuesday’s voting were incumbents Kathyrn Brix and Pete Heansler to three-year terms on the RSU 14 Windham School Board. Brix received 6,864 votes and Heansler tallied 4,315 votes.

Voters also elected Christina Small of Windham to serve a one-year term on the RSU 14 Windham School Board. Small had been appointed to serve on the board earlier this year following the resignation of Dawn Dillon. She tallied 8,570 votes.

“My priorities for this year will be helping to align our procedures with ever changing regulatory guidelines, the improvement of our distance learning program and continuation of our Social Emotional Learning work,” Small wrote about her candidacy in a letter to the editor last month. <

Friday, October 23, 2020

Windham Legislative Delegation honors late union official

The Windham Legislative Delegation presented a Legislative Sentiment in Memoriam to honor Wayne Russell Poland, Southern Maine Labor Council’s beloved and long-time treasurer who died in August. 

They are shown presenting this honor to Wayne's widow, and SMLC Vice-President, Doris Poland, with family members and members of SMLC's Executive Board members in attendance. 

Such presentation ceremonies are typically held at the State House, but because of the pandemic, it was instead held in the Poland's back yard in Windham. 

From left are Senator Bill Diamond, Representative Patrick Corey, Representative Mark Bryant, and Doris Poland.


Friday, July 31, 2020

Heating assistance program counting on donations to offset loss of annual fundraising gala

Three of the founders of the Windham
Neighbors Helping Neighbors initiative
presented the Helpful Neighbor Award
to Dennis Dyer of K & D Countertop
last fall for their outstanding support of
the Windham Neighbors' mission. From
left are Mark Bryant, Dennis Dyer, Gary
Plummer and Bill Diamond.

By Ed Pierce
Since its inception, the Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors Program has made a significant difference in the lives of local residents and intends to keep on doing so despite the loss of its only major fundraising event this year.
The program provides one-time emergency heating fuel assistance to Windham residents and helps to direct individuals in need to find appropriate resources and to promote a culture of neighbors helping neighbors in the community. But COVID-19 restrictions have forced the non-profit organization to forego plans for its annual gala fundraiser held each summer at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish.    
“This is an organization that came out of nowhere,” said co-founder Senator Bill Diamond. “We’ve been very successful through the years but are very concerned about the gala being canceled.”
The Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors group was founded in October 2007 by Diamond, Representative Mark Bryant and former Representative Gary Plummer. 
https://www.schoolspring.comIt is a 501c3 non-profit and is made up of Windham volunteers who have come together to provide one-time emergency assistance to those Windham residents who require immediate heating fuel.
Diamond said Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors has no overhead costs whatsoever and that all of its funding goes directly to helping those in desperate need.
“Every penny goes for heating fuel,” Diamond said. “100 percent of what is donated to Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors is used for the purchase of fuel for those who are in dire need.”
He said the organization focuses its resources toward those who may have fallen through the cracks and either don’t qualify or are in a bureaucratic process waiting for assistance from other agencies.
Last winter, heating a house with oil cost an average of $1,700, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Diamond said that the heating assistance can be a lifeline for those struggling to stay warm in winter.
“In many cases, Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors help people heat their homes safely without needing to choose between basic needs like heat, rent, medications and food,” Diamond said.
Recipients who have been helped receive 100 gallons of fuel and their need can be attributed to many different circumstances. Some are elderly and living on fixed incomes, some have lost a job and trying to reestablish their life, and others may just have a temporary situation that requires an immediate solution.  
The program is confidential and harkens back to a time when neighbors banded together to pitch in and help their neighbors when it was needed the most.
The Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors organization will line up deliveries to recipients, and connect    
Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors assists with one-time delivery of fuel. In addition to providing heating oil, assistance also can be given for those with KI and propane systems or through Bio-Bricks for homes uing wood-burning heat.
Diamond said that during the first year of operation for Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a total of 17 families were helped. By 2014, that number grew to 101 families and has since stabilized at about 75 families each winter.
The organization continues to serve the community because of countless donations of labor, hours, ideas and funding through contributions of money and goods from concerned individuals and businesses.
Not conducting the annual summer fundraiser is significant, but Diamond believes that the foundation of Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors lies in the generous spirit of the community.
“We have no administrative costs because those are administered by a fund that was established with a gift of $1,000 that was made to us by the Windham High School Class of 2010,” Diamond said. “And every donation that is made to Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors stays right here in our community to help those who truly need help the most.” 
Diamond said he’s confident that like in years past, the community will rise to the occasion and help the organization fund its worthwhile mission.
“We gratefully accept all donations and are accepting unsolicited donations,” he said. “Everything we collect will go to keeping Windham families stay warm during the coldest months of the year.”
For more information about the Windham Neighbors Helping neighbors Program, to volunteer to help or to make a financial donation, call 207-892-8941 or visit  <

Friday, September 13, 2019

Senator Bill Diamond helps to pass law to keep hands on the wheel

Pat Moody of AAA, Sen. Diamond and Rep. Mark Bryant.
Can you tell the difference if the driver of this car
was intoxicated or intexticated
By Matt Pascarella

Distracted driving is unsafe and has been a problem for a while. And it’s only getting worse. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA) website, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injures 1,000 every day.

Recently, Senator Bill Diamond introduced and passed LD 165, a bill “To Prohibit the Use of Handheld Phones and Devices While Driving.” This bill will go into effect on September 19, 2019.
The bill was created out of a similar law that Senator Diamond sponsored in 2011, that made texting while driving illegal. However, while it was illegal to text and drive, it was not illegal to use your phone or have it in your hand.“We talked with law enforcement and the biggest problem is texting while driving; the crashes, the injuries are just exponentially increasing,” stated Senator Diamond. “What this says is you cannot have your phone or device in your hand. Everything in this bill is all about hands-free. You look down for two seconds, often times it’s three or four seconds – and in that short amount of time a lot can happen. And that’s a problem. This fixes it.”

This bill allows law enforcement to stop an individual if they are holding a phone in their hand, no matter what they’re doing. Diamond reminds the reader that you can attach your phone to your dash with a clip and if a call comes in, tap the button and talk or talk through Bluetooth.

We use the phone for so much more than calling people, and the temptation is there to use it. Senator Diamond goes on to say, “Just like we did with seatbelts; when we passed the seatbelt law people said, ‘you can’t make people put on a seatbelt.’ With public awareness and education, we did. It’s to the point now where, if you’re in a car without a seatbelt, most of us feel weird, and secondly, we got kids in the car who say, ‘hey dad, you don’t have your seatbelt on.’” Like the seatbelt law, this hands-free device while driving law is a cultural change.

What happens if you still do it? The first time is a $50 fine and every time after that is a $250 fine.
 “All Law Enforcement is going at this full speed; they’ve all become frustrated with the needless accidents because someone was distracted; and most of that distraction was with a phone,” added Senator Diamond. “It’s going to be very aggressive, and people need to know this. If they can break this culture, break this habit, they’re going to literally save lives.”

Pat Moody, Manager of Public Affairs for AAA of Northern New England has met with Senator Diamond and AAA has a campaign centered around not driving ‘intexticated’.

“AAA is an advocate for traffic safety. We do a lot of research on distraction in all facets of driver safety, we survey our members, then we also do research through the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety to better understand those aspects of driver safety. Specifically, we’ve done some work on distracted driving...the one big thing that comes out of this is that cognitive distraction is real. With this specific law it’s going to get that device out of their hands, so people are less likely to do things like Snapchat, check Facebook, send a text message – all those things that take your eyes off the road.”

The essence of AAA’s slogan; ‘Don’t drive intoxicated, don’t drive intexticated’ is both these driving behaviors end up with the same result. “A lot of people would never think of drinking and driving; dropping the kids to school and taking a sip of beer but they don’t think twice about sending a text,” added Moody. Texting and driving have become a habit, and come September 19th, people are going to have to think twice when they’re in their vehicle. driver and 16 year old junior at Windham High, Hayleigh Moody stated, “You will be hard pressed to find a teen without a cellphone these days. When your phone “pings” and you know you have a text, it is really temping to take a quick peek and check it. Unfortunately, it only takes a glance away from the road for really bad things to happen. I think parents are key; the more they demonstrate that texting while driving isn’t appropriate then their kids will be more likely to follow their example. My dad uses the “do not disturb while driving” feature of his cell phone so it temporarily holds text messages until he is parked. The new “hands free” law...will help change behavior of adult drivers and when a teen sees that their parents are less distracted by their phones while driving, hopefully they will follow their example.”

“This is one of the most important bills I’ve ever passed because of the result of saving lives and injuries. I’m proud of this because I think it’s one of those things where an immediate difference can be made,” concluded Senator Diamond.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Kick Off Day begins the 200th anniversary and year-long celebration of Maine’s statehood

Sen. Bill Diamond, Gov. Janet Mills, Portland Mayor
Ethan Strimling
By Matt Pascarella

Governor Janet Mills joined the Maine Bicentennial Commission, a committee in charge of planning and coordinating programs in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Maine voting to leave Massachusetts. The events launched the commemoration of the State of Maine’s bicentennial at four communities across the state on Tuesday, July 30, 2019. Governor Mills and the Commission, of which Senator Bill Diamond is the Chairman, visited Presque Isle, Bangor, Portland and Augusta. 

They raised the bicentennial flag, dedicated commemorative pine groves and announced programs
and events for Maine’s 200th anniversary of Statehood.

As stated in the recent press release, “Bicentennial Kickoff Day coincides with the 200th anniversary of the affirmative vote to separate the District of Maine from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in July of 1819.”
Mayor Ethan Strimling opened the Portland ceremony, which took place in Deering Oaks Park. “As we celebrate our 200 years of history it’s important we recognize all of those who have come to build our state and those who will come in the future...we would not be as strong as we are today if not for
everyone that’s come here.”

Senator Bill Diamond spoke shortly after and began by thanking members of the Bicentennial Commission for all the time and work they have put in. Diamond mentioned some of the spectacular events that would be happening in 2020 all around the state; including the arrival of the tall ships, parades and the sealing of the time capsule.

He added that the goal of the Commission was, “To provide communities, cities and towns with resources so they can put together their own celebrations.” Money has been raised and communities can apply for community grants. Senator Diamond added the Commission wants to fund as many as they can. “We’re really looking forward to making this the celebration that it should be, 200 years; and we’re going to try and do it just as right as we can.”

Governor Mills, Senator Diamond and Mayor Strimling then each grabbed their shovels and dedicated commemorative pine groves. Janet Mills spoke next and stated she was honored to join the Bicentennial Commission chair, Bill Diamond, Mayor Strimling and so many other in launching the commemoration of Maine’s 200th anniversary statehood. “Maine has a proud and storied history and our bicentennial offers us the opportunity to recommit ourselves to the values that shaped us as a state and as a people,” Governor Mills declared. “This unique place we call home offers so much to so many. “Maine is not just about
natural beauty...but it’s about its people. For more than 200 years sons and daughters of Maine with courage in their souls and kindness in their hearts...have built this state and lead the nation.” Maine is made up of all kinds of people “they make Maine as great as it is.”

A few facts about Maine:
*Maine was the 23rd state to join the Union and did so in 1820.

*With its 16 counties, 3,500 miles of coastline and 17 million acres of forest, the Pine Tree state is a place many are proud to call home.

*Some famous Mainers include author Stephen King, actress Anna Kendrick, author E.B. White, actor Patrick Dempsey and Olympic athlete Joan Benoit Samuelson as well as children’s singer/songwriter Rick Charette (just to name a very small amount).

According to the website
*Bangor claims to be the birthplace of Paul Bunyan. A titan-size statue in the city is one of the largest in the country, rivaled only by Akeley, Minnesota, reminding Bangor residents of their connection to this character of American legend.

*Portland is home to the International Cryptozoology Museum, showcasing Yetis, Bigfoots and other well-known oddities. It’s located by Thompson’s Point in Portland.

“Wherever you go, whatever you do, whomever you are with, tell them about the great place you come from...we will always greet you with a hearty hug and a ‘welcome home,’” concluded Governor Mills.

The Sebago Lakes Region communities are making their plans for Maine’s bicentennial celebrations,
including right here in Windham. Some upcoming events include:

  • A kick-off event in October 2019 – possibly in conjunction with the widely attended Public Safety Fair – that helps “get the party started”
  • A celebration in March 2020 that commemorates the date that Maine became a state. The Windham Public Library will likely host a Bicentennial themed tea with birthday cake or some other type of birthday party type event
·       Summerfest 2020 will have the bicentennial as the theme and there will be a Windham History bus tour is in the works for Summerfest as well. For more information on Maine’s milestone and events happening throughout the year please visit

Friday, May 17, 2019

Maine’s future and the opiate crisis

Rotarians Ingo Hartig, Goerge Bartlett, Mark Morris and
Peter Garland
By Craig Bailey

On Thursday March 9, Windham Middle School’s seventh-grade students hosted an event to share the outcome of their project: Taking Back Maine’s Future: Ending the Opiate Crisis. In attendance were parents, children, law enforcement, Rotary Club members and Senator Bill Diamond.

With a $1,200 donation from the Sebago Lake Rotary Club, the students were able to include the DeLorean replica as it was seen in the 1980s film, “Back to the Future”. The project is the brainchild of RSU14 school personnel Doug Elder, Lee Leroy, AJ Ruth and Gwen Roberts and required students to travel through time, via research and evaluation of current data and statistics, bringing newspaper articles back from the future: some from the bright promising future where Maine has defeated the epidemic. Others from a dark and dangerous future where the epidemic persists. Elder opened the school cafeteria doors the public was welcomed to visit both of these possible futures. One side of the cafeteria was dark, with litter strewn about, mock drugs and syringes on tables along with would-be news articles sharing the state of affairs if the epidemic goes unchecked. The students clearly demonstrated their concern and what the future could hold.

Students shared their concerns and the results of what they learned from the project. Maggie Whiting stated, “Opiates are a real problem. If this issue is not solved, Maine could go very wrong due to increased overdoses and deaths.” This was reinforced by headlines of news articles on display, including: “Child Overdoses on Mother’s Fentanyl.”

Dakota Woodall concurred by adding, “Maine will come to an end as we know it if we don’t do something. People need to listen to what we are saying.”

Another student, Nathan Jordan was very clear when he said that the possibility of a bleak future is not a fantasy. “It is based on what could happen if things continue as is,” he said. “We need to educate to avoid this future.”

Traveling to the bright future the public observed thoughtful ideas and positive outcomes that could result from pragmatic approaches to battling the epidemic.

Cate Culbovich expressed what he learned from the project, “We need more treatment centers where people can get help.”

Julia Mazerolle had an idea that may be helpful in eradicating addiction. “A prescription drink, wearable patch or chewable could be developed to cure opiate addiction. If we can prevent addiction there will be a better future for everyone.”
Elexis Crommett reinforced, “We need to take action that will result in fewer overdoses.”
Sasha Funk proposed, “Scientists could come up with a vaccination which prevents addiction.”
Another scientific approach was offered by John Ulmer. “Scientists could extract the addictive components from prescription drugs.”

Haley Blethen stated that education is imperative, making people aware of the many side effects of addiction. “When a baby is born to an addict, the baby immediately goes through withdrawals. The doctor must give the baby the correct dose of opioids and continue to reduce until they are off the drug. However, the baby remains an addict as ‘once an addict, always an addict’ since the drug rewires your brain,” she said.

The Windham Police Department was also present, and Patrol Captain William Andrews stated that he was impressed with the data collected by the students. “It is refreshing that the youth are taking interest in this epidemic. I’m impressed with their ideas, figures and statistics.”

Rotarian George Bartlett was enthusiastic about the project stating, “this gets the kids involved in the community to help with a very real problem.”

The students were overwhelmingly positive about what they learned which required multi-week investments of time. Ulmer indicated this included, “practicing the Socratic method to answering questions in preparation for this event.”

“We are all at risk as an ‘unlikely addict.”, Elder stated. “It could start simply from an injury, after being prescribed an opioid. One thing leads to another. I just read an article on a police officer dying of an overdose. The problem is so stark and pressing. The students extrapolated the cold hard facts. If the trends don’t change, Maine will become a wasteland. The tide is turning, though, as we are beginning to see companies and doctors held accountable.”

The project was also aided by Be the Influence Coalition, which is a collaborative group of Windham and Raymond community leaders who are working to raise awareness and address concerns caused by substance use and abuse in area communities.

The replica DeLorean was provided by Bill and Patrick Shea of Hubbardston, MA.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Legislative Forum a step in the right direction by Lorraine Glowczak

Rep. Jessica Fay
The Legislative Forum presented on Saturday, March 11 by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce (SLRCC) and St. Joseph’s College, was a successful morning of discussions, questions and answers among local business owners and individuals with their Lake Region Delegation.

The event began at 10:00 a.m. with networking opportunities among the 45 to 50 local business professionals who attended, followed by respectful and solution focused dialogue from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

“I was extremely pleased with the turnout and the diversity of businesses represented,” stated Executive Director of SLRCC, Aimee Senatore. “I was encouraged by how civil and respectful the discussion was and am grateful we were able to cover several key issues impacting our local businesses. I believe that those in attendance were also encouraged and several key connections were made.” Pollard, owner of Cole Farms Restaurant and Pub in Gray, was the first to address the legislative panel, sharing his concern regarding the passage of the Question 4 initiative. “The minimum wage increase that passed in November will have a devastating effect on the wait staff’s income,” Pollard explained. He stated that if the referendum is not adjusted to accommodate servers, they will soon see a wage decrease. Pollard further explained that it is the tips they rely upon for the bulk of their income and is what allows them to support their families. With the referendum as it stands now, the decrease in tips will have detrimental effects on the quality of their lives.

Dave Pollard, co-owner of Spring Meadows Golf Club in Gray expressed his concern regarding the expansion of the sales tax to recreational businesses. He explained to the panel that 70 percent of his customer base comes from hardworking Mainers who do not have a lot of disposable income. The tax increase will demand that he increase green fees, which he has not done in eight years. Dave Pollard also stated that, although he understands the need for controlled pesticides, the bills that limit pesticide use, influences the course itself. He reminded the panel that golf courses have trained professionals who apply the pesticides.

Other concerns and issues expressed by attendees included: the 3 percent surtax due to the passage of the Question 2 initiative, the legalization of marijuana, the access to broadband internet, zoning and building codes as it relates to the “tiny home” movement, as well as the flexible code enforcement that varies from town to town.

The legislative panel addressed each issue and concern as it was expressed and informed everyone present as to what actions are being taken in Augusta regarding the subjects expressed.
Rep. Patrick Corey and Sen. Bill Diamond
Rep. Patrick Corey (R-Windham and Sen. Bill Diamond (D)-District 26, reiterated that party politics play a very small role in their work together. Rep Jessica Fay (D)-Raymond, Casco, Poland invited everyone to speak to their representatives. “Come to us and tell your story,” Fay said.

The success of this event was due, in part, through the work of SLRCC. “The toughest challenge with organizing these types of forums is securing the legislators,” Senatore stated.  “Because they are so busy and often in Augusta - finding one day and time that works for all is very difficult. Representative Fay of Raymond/Casco/Poland deserves a lot of credit for organizing the Lakes Region Delegation which met for the first time in Augusta on February 15th.  I was lucky enough to be invited to the meeting and was thrilled that everyone present was motivated to get this forum scheduled as priority. Less than a month later, here we are!”

The legislative panel included Phyllis Ginzler (R), Susan Austin (R), Mark Bryant (D), Patrick Corey (R), Dale Denno (D), Jessica Fay (D), Lester Ordway (R), and Bill Diamond (D).  Ellie Espling (R) and Richard Cebra (R) were unable to attend due to a conflict.“We will definitely be scheduling another forum of this type in the coming months,” Senatore continued. “In addition, the Government Affairs Committee of the chamber will be working on an economic development tour of our region to take place this summer. The delegation will be invited to tour economic development sites, visit with key local businesses, and get a greater feel for how they can help the region prosper.”

As for the legislative forum that occurred on Saturday, it seems it was viewed as a step in the right direction. “It’s always a good thing to get people in a room and start a conversation,” expressed Fran Monroe of the Community Economic Development in Gray.

Those that want to be included in future announcements should follow the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce on Facebook or sign up for their e-newsletter on the homepage of their website: