Showing posts with label Ed Pierce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ed Pierce. Show all posts

Friday, December 1, 2023

East Windham Conservation Area officially opens Saturday

By Ed Pierce

A dream more than three decades in the making is about to be realized when the East Windham Conservation Area officially opens to the public at noon on Saturday.

Ceremonies for the long anticipated opening of the East 
Windham Conservation Area will be at noon Saturday,
Dec. 2 at the Lowell Preserve Trailhead in Windham. The
site includes 661 acres of forested land and undeveloped
water frontage on Little Duck Pond as shown in this photo.
It also features the 150-acre Deer Wintering Area and the
580-foot Atherton Hill, the tallest hill in Windham.
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.

Creating the conserved area has been accomplished as a partnership between the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and the Town of Windham and a special dedication ceremony will be held at noon Saturday at the Lowell Preserve Trailhead in Windham featuring several guest speakers.

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 will directly abut more than 1,000 acres of other conserved land in Windham and Falmouth, including Lowell Preserve, North Falmouth Community Forest, and Blackstrap Hill Preserve, providing 20 miles of interconnected trails and five trailheads for public access. It will become 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.

A town-wide survey in Windham conducted over a six-month period in 2021 and 2022 concluded that conserving the land to remain undeveloped for wildlife habitat, water quality protection and rural character was the top benefit to be derived from the project. The second-highest ranked community benefit was to provide multiple-use outdoor recreation and create access for the whole community.

Rachelle Curran Apse, executive director of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust says that the outdoor experience offered by the East Windham Conservation Area will make it a destination for walking, hiking, mountain biking, trail running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and bird and wildlife watching.

“This regional scale project, which is both a destination for outdoor recreation and critical for wildlife habitat, has only been possible due to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Land for Maine’s Future Program, the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Town of Windham’s conservation bond, lead business partner Gorham Savings Bank, numerous private foundations, and over 400 local individuals and families donating to make this project a reality.”

Land for Maine’s Future officials say it was exciting to be part of such as expansive and significant conservation project which will provide recreational opportunities for future generations of Mainers.

“We have been excited about this project since the Town of Windham and Presumpscot Regional Land Trust first brought it to our attention in its exploratory phase,” said Steve Walker, Director of the Land for Maine’s Future. “This project embodies the best of public and private partnerships working together to protect the places that support our wildlife, our quality of life, and our economy.”

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

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

Windham’s Open Space Plan identifies developing and maintaining open space partnerships and relationships as key mechanisms to grow conservation efforts in the town. When the Windham Town Council formally adopted the Open Space Plan, 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.

During a Windham Town Council meeting in 2022, Linda Brooks, Windham Parks and Recreation Director, said that the creation of the East Windham Conservation Area would expand the town’s growing tourist economy by creating a new outdoor destination with miles of accessible forested trails and a spectacular 360-degree view from which will be the only observation tower from on top of one of the highest points in the Greater Portland area.

"Four season recreational opportunities will help local business realize benefits from tourists throughout the year,” said Brooks. “Acquisition of this property will protect resources for hiking, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, skiing, mountain biking, picnicking and other recreational activities. In addition to all the recreational benefits for all ages, there are educational benefits to be considered as well. We do have members from RSU 14 who will serve on the steering committee to help us with educational development. The East Windham Conservation Project offers a unique opportunity for K to 12 educational activities in a large and diverse outdoor classroom setting.”

The project will dramatically expand and diversify recreational opportunities in Windham with the purchase and conservation of 661 acres of land. Currently less than 4 percent of Windham is conserved with recreational access.

In addition to holding the conservation easement, the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust will have a shared management agreement for the project land with Windham.

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.

Since the 1990s, Windham residents have identified the East Windham Conservation Area as an important area site to conserve during increasing concerns about local development. It features large undeveloped habitat blocks and superior water quality protection.

Tibbetts said conserving the land ensures that it remains undeveloped as future wildlife habitats and to preserve the town’s rural character while providing a multiple-use outdoor recreation site. <

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Local boxer overcomes crippling injury to win New England Super Welterweight title

By Ed Pierce

All Casey Streeter can do is smile when he thinks about how far he has come in a few short years. He was rising through the ranks as a professional boxer in 2017 and was looking forward to starting a new job as a correctional officer at the Maine Corrections Center in Windham, but on his final day of work as an arborist, he almost lost his life and his right leg in an accident.

Boxer Casey Streeter, left, beat Joe Farina of Massachusetts
to win the New England Super Welterweight title during
a championship fight at the Portland Expo on Nov. 11.
He had to overcome a crippling injury to his right leg
in 2017 from a logging accident to come back and 
continue his professional boxing career.
Originally from Portland, Streeter has been boxing since the age of 9 and turned professional in 2014. He had started in boxing to overcome a challenging and traumatic childhood and was well on his way to achieving his dreams with a record of 9-1 as a professional.

“I became part of Bobby Russo’s Portland Boxing Club in order to have an outlet,” Streeter said. “It literally saved my life.”

But it all came to a screeching halt in August 2017 when a log truck’s grapple suddenly clamped down on his leg.

When the accident happened, Streeter was working dragging logs with a log chain from a ditch in North Yarmouth. He had wrapped one end of the chain around a tree trunk and was walking the other end of the chain up to the log truck’s grapple from a ditch when his co-worker lost sight of him, and the grapple suddenly closed and clamped onto his leg.

His femur and knee were shattered, he sustained a compound fracture, and a chunk of his leg was also torn away by the grapple. Blood erupted from his wound and the grapple’s claw had just missed his femoral artery by a quarter inch. He stumbled down into the ditch and didn’t know if he was going to live. He thought of his wife Abby and his children and wondered if this was the end of his life.

Streeter’s co-worker found him in the ditch, tried calling for help on his cell phone but there was no cell service available. He then ran to a nearby home and used their telephone to summon help.

Rushed to Maine Medical Center, his leg was so mangled that doctors were unsure if they could save it. But his orthopedic trauma surgeon was a military veteran who had worked with soldiers on the battlefield in Iraq. He assured Streeter that he would not lose his leg and reconstructed it carefully using more than 20 metal pins and rods. A severe wound infection and post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the accident also had to be overcome by Streeter.

He then began walking again with the aid of crutches and following months of difficult physical therapy, he felt that he had turned a corner and might be able to box again.

Slowly recovering, Streeter returned to his gym in 2019 at the Portland Boxing Club and started working out for his longtime trainer Russo who had known him for decades. He then vowed if he had made it this far in his recovery, he was bound and determined to win a championship and he adopted a new “Comeback Kid” nickname.

“During a training camp, I work six days a week, up to two to three hours of a workout routine,” Streeter said. “I spar, do mitt work, work on strength and conditioning, and can run multiple miles in a week. This is after I’ve already worked a nine-hour shift.”

On Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Portland Expo in Portland, Streeter, 32, fought Joe Farina of Massachusetts for the New England Super Welterweight title at 154 pounds.

Farina entered the bout with a record of 11-1 and the fight went a full eight rounds. It was a tough fight, but Streeter’s strong combinations came out on top, and judges awarded him a majority decision and the championship belt. His record now stands at 11-2-1 and his professional career is back on track.

“What I like the most about boxing is it’s something that helps keep my mental health in check,” he said. “I like the handwork and dedication and my gym family is what I value most.”

Streeter said that he hopes to fight again early in the New Year but in the meantime, he’s enjoying spending time with his family and reflecting on his title. <

Windham dancers to perform in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City

By Ed Pierce

As millions will be watching on television across America, five girls from Windham will be performing Thursday as part of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Five Windham dancers will be performing in the Macy's
Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on Thursday
as part of a group of 19 dancers from the Drouin Dance
Center in Westbrook. From left are Ellen Woodside,
Autumn Wood, Claire Chartier, Juliana Gagne, and 
The Windham girls will be part of a group of 19 dancers from the Drouin Dance Center in Westbrook who will be joining 680 other dancers from across the country performing a dance routine produced by Spirit of America Productions for the parade.

Ellen Woodside, Autumn Wood, Claire Chartier, Juliana Gagne, and Lily Lundberg are all juniors at Windham High School and say they are excited to travel to New York City to perform with the Drouin Dance Center group.

“We have been rehearsing for the event for the past few weeks, after learning in February that our dancers would be performing in the parade,” said Danielle J. Drouin, the owner and director of Drouin Dance Center. “We are very excited to be part of this monumental event, and our dancers have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and experience.”

She said that performers from Drouin Dance Center were first invited to participate in the 2011 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and have performed in the 2011, 2014, 2017, and 2021 parades prior to this year.

Woodside said that the routine she’s had to learn for this year’s parade performance in New York City has been formidable.

“We have to know every single detail and pinpoint off of it in three different parts,” she said. “It has been so exhausting but so much fun at the same time.”

She is the daughter of Chanda Turner and Ryan Woodside of Windham.

“The thing I like most about dancing is getting to express myself through the movement and the fun of a high energy performance,” Woodside said. “I am most looking forward to seeing Broadway shows with all of my friends as well as getting to meet the 700 dancers we will be working with in the routine.”

Chartier is the daughter of Amanda and Geoff Chartier of Windham.

“I'm most looking forward to seeing the Rockettes at the famous Radio City Music Hall,” she said. “I'm also looking forward to seeing SIX the musical.”

She said the most difficult routine that she’s had to learn so far is the dance she’ll be performing in New York City this week for the parade.

“I had to learn it through a video, and it includes different parts with different choreography,” Chartier said. “What I love about dancing is not only the community surrounding it, but it's also rewarding. I feel accomplished and refreshed after a long day of classes. Ballet is my favorite because the gracefulness and strength it requires is very therapeutic to me.”

Gagne said she’s looking forward to just being in New York City overall, being in all of the busy streets and seeing all of the tall buildings, but also being able to meet 700 other dancers and making friends with people from all over the world.

She is the daughter of Krystal Williams and Thomas Gagne of Windham.

“The thing I like most about dancing is all of the opportunities that come with it like being able to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and having this opportunity to meet choreographers from around the United States and seeing the Rockettes,” Gagne said.

Since she first started dancing, Gagne says the most difficult dance routine she’s had to learn has been the dance used for this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“It has been fun to learn the dance, but it is very stressful because we have to learn it in such a short time,” she said. “We have to have every movement sharp, and we have to learn all of the formations perfectly for when we get to New York so the choreographers can make sure they can make changes if they have to and make sure everyone knows what they are doing.”

Wood is the daughter of Raymond and Irrae Wood of Windham.

She said she loves how dancing has given her such a creative outlet.

“I cannot think back to which routine was the most difficult because with enough practice, one can have the routine as close to perfect as possible,” she said. “I have never been to New York, so I am excited to see everything that I can. The things I am most excited about are the Broadway shows and seeing the balloons in the parade in person.”

Lundberg is the daughter of Gretchen Lundberg of Windham.

She said that she’s most looking forward to seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall during her trip to perform in the parade.

“When I am dancing, I feel like I can express myself in different ways than I could verbally,” Lundberg said. “I also enjoy the friends that I have made from dancing.”

According to Lundberg, one challenging dance routine she’s learned stands out above all the rest.

“The most difficult piece that I have ever had to learn was the 19-minute-long piece choreographed by Barbie Diewald that I learned at the Bates Dance Festival for the Young Dancers Workshop in 2022.”

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the second-oldest Thanksgiving parade in the United States and along with towering balloons and colorful floats, it also features live music and other performances and is broadcast live on NBC Television. <

Friday, November 17, 2023

Windham salutes young ‘Patriot’s Pen’ essay winners during annual Veterans Day observance

By Ed Pierce

Veterans Day is an acknowledgement that those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our nation deserve our admiration and respect and several area students have done just that by submitting this year’s winning essays in the Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy contests sponsored by VFW Post 10643.

The winners of this year's local 'Patriot's Pen' essay contest
for students in Grade 6 to 8 were honored during the VFW
Post 10643's Veterans Day observance at the Windham
Veterans Center on Saturday, Nov. 11. From left are  
first-place recipient Shea Carey, an eight-grade student
at Windham Middle School, and second-place recipient
Lance Lake, a homeschooled seventh grader.
Shea Carey, an eighth grader at Windham Middle School, was honored at the VFW’s Veterans Day observance as this year’s first-place recipient in the local Patriot’s Pen competition. Carey’s 400-word essay on the topic "How are you inspired by America?" was singled out by judges to be the best this year and qualifies her for the upcoming district competition.

The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society.

District winners compete in the VFW’s annual state competition while trying to secure a berth in the national competition with a chance to win thousands of dollars in college scholarships. The first-place VFW state winner also receives a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the national Patriot’s Pen contest.

“I thought it was such an amazing thing to be recognized in this way,” Carey said. “I have always loved writing and because many of my family members served in the Army, I wanted to express my gratitude to them through this essay.”

She said that her best friend Taylor encouraged her to enter the contest and encouraged her as she was writing it.

It took about three days to compose the essay and almost a week to read it over and make revisions before submitting her entry.

“I’m not sure what my chances will be in the state because there are so many amazing writers in Maine,” Carey said. “I am fully committed to doing this and am grateful to have won and to have had a chance to read my essay at this event today.”

Carey said she enjoys writing to express her creativity but thinks she may ultimately pursue a career in teaching and education when she is an adult.

She received a check for $200 for winning the local contest and intends to save the money for when she attends college.

Lance Lake, a seventh grader from Gray who is homeschooled, took home second place in the local Patriot’s Pen competition for the second consecutive year. In 2022, he won second place as a sixth-grade student at Windham Christian Academy.

Lake said it took him about a week to come up with an idea for his essay and he wanted to enter the contest again this year because it has helped him grow as a person.

“It’s important because it proves responsibility and maturity,” Lake said. “I had my grandparents read it before I turned it in though.”

In his essay, Lake mentioned how the sacrifices made by veterans and military members inspire him daily.

“I’d like to serve in the U.S. Air Force someday myself,” he said. “I would like to be a USAF pilot.”

He said that in writing essays for the contest over multiple years, he’s learned that it’s a process that requires effort.

“It takes a lot of patience and a lot of thought put into it,” Lake said.

The VFW Post 10643 winner of this year’s Voice of Democracy contest in Windham is Anna Seavey, a senior attending Windham Christian Academy. Because of a previous commitment, Seavey was unable to attend the event, but her essay was read aloud to the audience attending the VFW Veterans Day festivities and she was awarded a check for $200 from the VFW.

The Voice of Democracy competition is open to all high school students from Windham and Raymond, in Grades 9 to 12, including those who are home-schooled. Students are asked to write and record a 3- to 5-minute essay (on an audio CD) on this year's theme " What are the greatest attributes of our Democracy?"

Like in Carey’s case in the Patriot’s Pen competition, Seavey’s Voice of Democracy audio essay will advance to the district-level and if successful there, she would qualify for the state-level contest hoping to secure a berth in the national Voice of Democracy contest. The first-place VFW state winner earns a four-day trip to Washington, D.C.

Each year, nearly 25,000 students in grades 9 to 12 from across the country enter to win their share of more than $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the Voice of Democracy program.

The first-place winner nationally receives $5,000 for the Patriot's Pen winning essay and the first-place winning essay nationally for the Voice of Democracy receives a $35,000 college scholarship.

Prior to the essay awards, retired Air Force Colonel Bob Chapin delivered the keynote address to those attending the Veterans Day observance.

Chapin told the audience that Veterans Day is more than just a day off from work.

“It’s a day of action,” he said. “Former President Barack Obama said that our debt to these heroes can never be repaid but we can honor their sacrifice, and we must. We must honor it in our own lives by holding their memories close to our hearts and heeding the example they set.”

Members of Windham’s delegation to the Maine Legislature attended the Veterans Day observance including State Senator Tim Nangle and State Representatives Jane Pringle and Barbara Bagshaw. Windham Town Councilors David Nadeau and Bill Reiner were also on hand, as was former State Senator and State Representative Gary Plummer of Windham.

The Windham Chamber Singers under the direction of Dr. Richard Nickerson provided patriotic songs during the observance and scouts from Windham Boy Scout Troop 805 served handed out programs and delivered the colors at the event.

Before concluding the event with a luncheon donated by Chick-fil-A of Westbrook and Kentucky Fried Chicken of Windham, the American Legion Post 148 Honor Guard played “Taps” and fired a 21-gun salute. VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman and Legion Post 148 Commander Tom Theriault placed a wreath in the Windham Veterans Center Memorial Garden to pay tribute to veterans from Windham who have served in the armed forces of the United States through the years. <

Friday, November 10, 2023

Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame inducts Windham racer for three decades of excellence

By Ed Pierce

One could say Bobby Babb Jr. of Windham was meant to be an auto racer. His dad, Bobby Babb Sr., won a feature race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway the very night he was born and passed on his love for racing to his son. That love for racing has led Bobby Babb Jr. to enshrinement in the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Retired auto racer Bobby Babb Jr. of Windham
was enshrined in the Maine Motorsports
Hall of Fame during a ceremony on 
Oct. 22 at the Augusta Civic Center.
Babb's racing career spanned  more than
three decades and included numerous
victories at racetracks in the state.
Babb Jr. was inducted into the Hall of Fame at an event in Augusta on the evening of Oct. 22, capping an illustrious career spanning more than three decades on racetracks in the state. He’s lived his entire life in Windham and graduated from Windham High School in 1981.

“I started racing the night that I turned 16 on July 3, 1979,” Babb Jr. said. “I drove through 2008 and again in 2012. I raced for 31 years, and my son Brad is in my car now.”

With his induction into the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame, Babb Jr. joins his late father who also was inducted for his career accomplishments in 2007. He is the 10th racer from Windham to be inducted into the group of storied racers.

Babb Jr.’s own racing history is the stuff of legends. He raced at the Beech Ridge track in Scarborough from 1979 through 1982, and then competed on the NASCAR North Tour in 1983 and 1984. From 1985 through 1987, he competed at the Oxford Plains Speedway before returning to race at Beech Ridge from 1988 through 2008 and one final time in 2012.

All of Babb Jr.’s races came in the Late Model Sportsman Class, which eventually became what is known today as the Prostock Class. He was no stranger to taking the checkered flag, winning numerous races, and racking up five seasonal championships at Beech Ridge in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2006. Babb Jr. was honored with two “Driver of the Year” titles at Beech Ridge and was awarded as the “Driver of the Decade for the 2000s” there. He was previously inducted as the 50th member of the Beech Ridge Hall of Fame and took home five Maine State Championship NASCAR trophies during his long career.

“My biggest win was every one of them,” Babb Jr. said “It wasn’t easy to win any of them because of the competition. I competed against my father, Dick Wolstenhume, Homer Drew, Ralph Cusack, Bob Randall, Mike Maietta, Mike Johnson, and Bub Bilodeau, to name just a handful of them. They were some of the toughest racers anywhere.”

For role models he credits his father, Bobby Babb Sr., and Dick McCabe, as the inspirations whose path he wanted to follow during his racing career. McCabe is a retired NASCAR Busch Series winner, and he also won the Molson Tour twice and the NASCAR Busch North Series championship twice. He also competed in races at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire and in the Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. During a 30-plus year driving career, Bob Babb Sr. won two track championships at Beech Ridge and finished first in more than 80 feature races through the years at Beech Ridge, Oxford Plains, and the Arundel Speedway.

As a young man, Babb Jr. started working for his father’s business, Robert Babb Logging, in 1981 and he still works there today and is part of the crew team for his son, Brad Babb, who is a Super Modified racer competing at the Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire. His daughter, Kelsey, also has raced at tracks in Maine.

In reflecting upon his career in racing, Babb Jr. says his most rewarding victories came when watching his children, Kelsey and Brad, and his son-in-law, Mike Ordway Jr., win races.

“I miss trying to outthink and outdrive someone for the win, but I still live it now watching Brad going for wins, trying to figure out his next move,” he said.

According to Babb Jr. his induction to the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame was bittersweet.

“Bruce Elder called me last October and told me I was going into the Hall of Fame. It was just over a month after my dad passed away,” he said. “It was very emotional for me that night but my wife Carla had known about the Hall of Fame induction and had let my dad know about it when he was in the hospital. Before he passed, he knew about it, so I want to thank her for that. I’m very proud of being put into the Hall of Fame with my father who was inducted in 2007 and I’m honored to be in the Hall of Fame with McCabe, Drew, Wolstenhume, Seavey, Maietta, Johnson, Randall, Bilodeau, all of them.”

His advice to young drivers looking to launch a racing career is simple.

“Watch and listen to older more experienced drivers, stay focused, be determined to make it and have fun doing it,” Babb Jr. said. <

Newly elected American Legion national commander pays visit to Windham post

By Ed Pierce

Since the National Commander of the American Legion Daniel J. Seehafer of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin was elected to the position on Aug. 31, he’s only slept in his own bed at home for a total of three days. The remainder of his time has been spent on the road attending meetings and visiting posts like on Saturday, Nov. 4, when Seehafer and an entourage of Legion officials stopped in Windham and had lunch with Field-Allen Post 148 members and the Post 148 auxiliary.

The new National Commander of the
American Legion, Daniel J. Seehafer,
visited Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham
on Nov. 4 and had lunch with post and
auxiliary members. He also met with
World War II veteran Carroll McDonald
and Korean War veteran Walter Braley,
both of Windham, during his visit. 
Seehafer is an ordained minister and served in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve as a military chaplain. He’s a longtime Legion member who has spent time in leadership positions at every level, including as national chaplain and as the commander of the Legion’s Department for Wisconsin.

He succeeded Post 148’s Vicent J. “Jim” Troiola as the National Commander for the American Legion and spent time during his visit speaking with World War II veteran Carroll McDonald, 98, and Korean War veterans Walter Braley, 92, both of Windham.

Post 148 members offered Seehafer traditional Maine favorites for lunch including authentic Italian sandwiches from Amato’s, two different kinds of whoopie pies and Moxie soft drinks. He said he enjoyed the sandwiches and whoopie pies but passed on sampling the Moxie.

According to Seehafer, he’s known for many years what his role would be in life and how happy he is to be leading a national veteran’s organization.

“I stopped saying ‘thank you for your service’ to veterans a few years ago,” Seehafer said. “Now I say to veterans ‘thank you for our freedom’ and I truly mean it. I’m grateful to veterans every single day and it’s never too late to tell them how much you appreciate what they have done for this nation.”

The American Legion’s mission of serving veterans and their families is personal to Seehafer and he’s embraced the Legion’s “Be the One” initiative to thwart veteran suicide in America. The national “Be the One” campaign strives to destigmatize veterans asking for mental health support, create opportunities for those with mental health issues to speak freely and get the support that they need; to provide peer to peer support and resources in local communities; and to identify issues affecting veterans and find resources for supporting veterans who may be struggling.

“We know that outreach saves lives,” he said. “Nothing is more important than our effort to reduce the number of veterans who die by suicide. We can’t stop. Not now, not ever.”

Nationally about 17 veterans or active-duty military members die by suicide every day and Seehafer says that number can be fewer if every Legion member makes a concerted effort to stay in touch and listen to veterans they know through the “Be the One” program.

“The life of one veteran saved makes all the difference in the world,” he said. “That gets to the heart of the ‘Be the One’ mission. While the initiative was only launched two years ago, it is already starting to make a difference. Somebody might be having a rough day, but you can change somebody’s life.”

Seehafer says that by helping to build on the momentum of ‘Be the One’ by raising awareness of the issue of veteran suicide, guiding them to resources to help and eliminating the stigma associated with mental health counseling, the veteran suicide rate nationally can be reduced.

“We are not just an organization, we are a family,” Seehafer said. “We’re a family that changes lives and saves lives.”

He also said he was saddened when he first heard about the mass shooting in Lewiston in October that claimed 18 lives.

“You always think that it couldn’t happen here in Maine, but sadly it did,” he said. “We’re doing all we can to assist the families of the victims and praying for the recovery of those who were injured.” After the lunch, Seehafer presented certificates to McDonald and Braley and had his photo taken with them before departing to visit the American Legion Post in Scarborough. <

Friday, November 3, 2023

Windham attorney wins crown in 2024 USOA Mrs. Maine Pageant

By Ed Pierce

Competing in the United States of America’s Mrs. Maine 2024 Pageant on Oct. 21 in Augusta was the realization of a dream for Windham attorney Katie Winchenbach. Her confidence and enthusiasm were on full display as she won the state crown and now advances to compete in 2024 USOA Mrs. America Pageant next July in San Antonio, Texas.

Windham attorney Katie Winchenbach was
crowned as the winner of the 2024 USOA
Mrs. Maine Pageant in Augusta on Oct. 22.
She will represent Maine in the 2024 USOA
Mrs. America Pageant in Texas next July.

As a corporate attorney and a champion for women’s rights, Winchenbach was a first-time pageant participant in the USOA Pageant, which was created to encourage women to strive to achieve their hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations, while making them feel confident and beautiful inside and out.

“I have never done a pageant before,” she said. “When the USOA Pageant Director, Christie Hines, reached out to me to see if I would be interested in competing, I really thought she had the wrong woman. Once I learned how much of the pageant was focused on community involvement and championing causes close to your heart, I knew I had to say yes.”

Winchenbach currently serves as the Program Director for Ms. JD, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the success of aspiring and early career women attorneys. She has also served as the Vice-President of The Maine Women's Conference, where she contributed to the strategic direction and planning of an influential one-day conference to empower and uplift Maine’s women.

Recently Winchenbach joined Women Standing Together, an organization that supports women leaders in various professional fields. Her role with that group will allow her to better advocate for emerging women leaders in Maine's business community. She’s also a published writer with her articles appearing in publications such as Fashion Republic, Gladys Magazine, Marie Claire, Long Island Bride and Groom, and Chicago Style Weddings.

She says that she intends to use her title as USOA Mrs. Maine 2024 to advocate for women’s empowerment, provide critical leadership opportunities, and to break down barriers to women’s success.

"It’s important for me to empower and inspire women to dream bigger and boldly pursue these dreams,” Winchenbach said. “This passion is at the heart of everything I do. I’m honored to be representing Maine as USOA’s Mrs. Maine 2024 and to be able to positively impact Maine’s young women leaders. I believe in empowering and inspiring women to dream bigger and boldly pursue these dreams. As the Program Director for Ms. JD, a national nonprofit dedicated to the success of aspiring and early-career female attorneys, I am able to impact over 800 women per year. More locally, I am partnering with the Compassionate Leadership Project to create a one-day conference for Maine’s emerging female leaders. The conference will provide attendees with access to prominent female leaders from Maine, practical training on key leadership skills, and the opportunity to build their networks. The conference will be live streamed, to provide this critical resource to women from all over the State of Maine, and eventually, across the United States.”

Along with her husband, Jared, Winchenbach moved to Windham two years ago and grew up in Milford, near the University of Maine Orono. She earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Maine, a Juris Doctorate law degree from Quinnipiac University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hofstra University. In her free time, she enjoys paddleboarding, and spending time with her husband and their rescue dog.

She hopes her pageant experience will help her to grow both personally and professionally.

“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,” Winchenbach said. “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 non-profit program director, so these are skills that are going to help me immensely even once the pageant is over.”

Winchenbach said that competing in the USOA Pageant also helped her to honor the memory of her late mother.

“My mom competed in a Mrs. Pageant when she and my dad were just married,” she said. “She passed away from cancer last November, so this is a really nice way for my family to be able to come together again.” <

Friday, October 27, 2023

Windham Town Council approves hire of new Public Works Director with Fortier retirement

By Ed Pierce

A familiar face will be returning to serve the Town of Windham as Jon Earle has been hired as the town’s new Public Works Director, succeeding Doug Fortier, who is retiring in early November.

Jon Earle, left, has been hired by the Town of Windham as
its new Public Works Director. He will succeed Doug Fortier,
right, who is retiring in early November after 31 years
with the department. COURTESY PHOTOS 
Earle emerged as the leading candidate for the job from a field of seven candidates with an interview process held to identify a candidate with the background, skills and experience that would be a good match for the position. The Public Works Director has primary responsibility for the organization, operation, and overall performance of the town’s Public Works Department. Duties include oversight for the department and administration of the departmental budget and the supervision of all department employees.

“Jon worked for the town for a little over two years as Town Engineer,” said Phyllis Moss, the town’s Human Resources Director in a memo to the council. “During that time, I had the opportunity to spend time with Jon and I feel confident he will be successful in the role of Public Works Director. My interaction with him demonstrated that he has the real passion for public works and is a clear communicator, ethical, analytical, and has excellent interpersonal skills. The position of Director of Public Works can be challenging, but I believe he has the background, skills, experience, and personal attributes needed for the position. We would be privileged to have him as part of our team.”

He graduated from the University of Maine with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering and has completed graduate coursework at the University of Southern Maine in Public Administration. Earle currently serves as the Supervisor of Engineering Services for the Maine Water Company and is responsible for capital project delivery and oversight in 12 public water systems serving more than 32,000 customers across the state. Earle also obtained a graduate certificate in Public Management from the Muskie School of Public Service.

His work history includes more than 22 years of progressively responsible public and private sector experience, including nine years in management roles. During his professional career, Earle has been responsible for budget management, personnel hiring and development, in both union and non-union environments. He is also a member his local planning board and is currently a board member of the Maine Society of Professional Engineers.

Earle will be responsible for Highway Maintenance, which includes winter plowing as well as maintaining all town roads, ditches, shoulders, drainage and other infrastructures; vehicle maintenance, which includes maintenance of all equipment from excavators and backhoes down to chain saws and hand compactors, as well as the police and town office vehicles; and Buildings & Grounds, which includes care of over 20 town cemeteries, nine municipal buildings, and two intersections. His duties will include budgeting, seeking grant money for roads, working on capital equipment replacement plans, getting bids for anything from equipment purchase to buying winter sand and salt. Another part of his job is hiring when there are vacancies.

Fortier has served as Windham’s Public Works Director for the past 20 years and has been a member of the town’s Public Works Department for 31 years overall. He was first hired in 1992 as a member of the grounds crew but was almost immediately moved into a truck driver position. In 1999, he was promoted to Equipment Operator where he gained valuable supervisory experience. In 2001, Fortier was promoted to the role of Deputy Public Works Director and then appointed as the town’s Director of Public Works in May 2004.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said Fortier will be missed and what he’s done through the years to help the town is remarkable.

Tibbetts said that Fortier oversaw the construction of the $9.3-million Shared Maintenance Facility which was completed in the fall of 2019 under budget; worked with Gorrill Palmer on the design and bidding and construction for all phases of the Brand Road reconstruction and the Hillcrest Drainage project renewing 28 infiltration bed­ style catch basins; worked with Gorrill Palmer on the design to reconstruct the Route 302 shoulders to create the center turn lane north of the Anglers Road intersection for 7,200 feet and assisted in securing a contractor for the $1.5 million dollar project; secured an additional $50,000 from the Maine Department of Transportation to help with the expense on the Route 302 turn lane; worked with Gorrill Palmer on the design for reconstruction and pedestrian enhancements for Depot Street; and worked with the town engineer in securing a Maine DOT MPI grant of up to $625,000 for the Route 302 North smart signal and intersection improvements, among many projects he has been involved with.

“These accomplishments only touch the surface,” Tibbetts said. “Doug has taken an active role in union negotiations, interviewed, and hired candidates for positions throughout Public Works, provided learning opportunities and encouragement to employees, and let's not forget Merry Christmas Trees, his business located here in Windham. Speaking for the entire town, I would like to thank Doug publicly for his years of dedication and wish him a very merry retirement.” <

Friday, October 20, 2023

Referendum seeks voter approval to build new middle school

By Ed Pierce

With Election Day nearing on Nov. 7, a referendum is asking voters in the towns of Windham and Raymond to approve a proposal to construct the proposed Windham/Raymond Middle School at 61 Windham Center Road in Windham.

A referendum seeking approval for RSU 14's proposed new
Windham/Raymond Middle School will be before voters
on Nov. 7. Clockwise are sketches of the school's outdoor
learning area, front entrance, a classroom and a
team-teaching area. SUBMITTED PHOTOS
The total cost of the new school is estimated to be $171,563,889 and the state of Maine would pick up $131,725 million, or 76.8 percent of that amount. That leaves 23.20 percent, or about $31,870,755 remaining with voters in Windham asked to OK gradually funding 80 percent of what’s left or $25,496 million. Raymond voters will be asked to approve gradually funding 20 percent of the remaining cost or about $6,374 million.

RSU 14 Superintendent Christopher Howell said that if the referendum passes, the school district is anticipating that the Windham/Raymond Middle School project will be financed through either two or three separate bonds during construction.

“The stair step approach to financing will provide a gradual increase to the mil rate in both communities,” Howell said. “With updated interest rates, we are anticipating a 28-cent increase in the first year in Windham and a 33-cent increase in Raymond. In the second year, it would roughly increase an additional 41 cents in Windham and 19 cents in Raymond. This is assuming that town valuations remain the same. If three bonds are issued, the steps towards the final mil impact would take place over three years and not two.”

Howell said the district is seeking voter support because both Windham Middle School and Jordan-Small Middle School are older schools and are both in need of significant upgrades in continue to be used as educational facilities into the future.

“The district has the opportunity to develop a new campus with a new energy efficient and secure building that will cost the local taxpayers far less than a renovation project in both buildings. The opportunity is being provided by the Major Capital Construction Program run by the Department of Education,” he said. “Seventy-four schools were rated by the Maine DOE in 2018 and were placed on a priority list that is based on need. Windham Middle School scored fifth on the list. The high rating for WMS was due to several factors that included structural issues in the roofing system of the classroom wing, outdated/inadequate electrical and HVAC systems, and that the building is undersized with one-third of the student population and several applied arts programs taking place in a separate building.”

According to Howell, besides addressing the shortcomings in the current facilities, the project will also help to address areas of programming that are currently lacking in both buildings.

“This will include a science lab for each science teacher, project spaces for students, classroom spaces for academic interventions and special education, increased safety and security for students and employees, classrooms that meet state requirements for minimum size, adequately equipped technology classroom and art rooms, music and performing arts spaces that match current programming, and additional play and competition space outdoors,” he said. “Outside of the direct impact to the middle level, the change in grade configuration will provide the opportunity for the district to provide universal Pre-k for any families that are interested in accessing this service. The facility will be an asset for both communities in the spaces that are provided. The project includes walking trails as well as access to the neighboring Pringle Preserve. The large gym and auxiliary gym spaces provided by that state will provide additional play spaces for youth and adult sports including an indoor walking track for community use outside of school hours. Lastly, the project includes an auditorium that will be accessed by students participating in the performing arts as well as our local community theater programs. Lastly, the two current buildings are slated to be returned to both towns for future community use. In discussions with the leadership in both communities, there has been interest in turning the two schools into community centers.”

The original Windham Middle School was built in 1977 and intended for a capacity of 483 students. That number has grown in the last year to 555 students this year, with sixth graders being housed for some classes at the adjacent Field Allen School, originally constructed in 1949. Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond was built in 1960 and currently has an enrollment of 184 students.

More than 132 potential 35-plus acre sites were originally identified for review by the RSU 14 WMS Building Committee and then ranked according to transportation accessibility, utility availability, environmental impact, and a range of other factors. The RSU 14 Board of Directors entered into an option-to-purchase agreement with the owner of 61 Windham Center Road in Windham and the owner agreed to take the property off the market for a period of up to two years in 2021.

As part of the proposal to build the new Windham/Raymond Middle School, Windham and Raymond students in Grades 5 to 8 would attend classes there. Windham fifth graders currently attending Manchester School would instead attend the new school, as would Jordan-Small Middle School students from Raymond. The new school is being designed for a capacity of 1,200 students.

Lavallee Brensinger Company of Portland is serving as architects for the construction project and Howell said that the new school is being designed to accommodate teams of two to four staff members.

“The teaming structure will give students the feel of being in a smaller school within the larger school. Each team will have spaces that are dedicated to each of the core subject areas,” he said. “In addition, the building will be structured to allow for the integration of some of the applied arts within the team. The development of the team structure will serve to bring the best possible facilities to each team. In contrast, the original Windham Junior High School, now Windham Middle School was built as a departmentalized Junior High School.”

Howell said that under provisions of the State of Maine Construction Program, school districts must pass a referendum within six months of having the concept for the school approved by the Maine State School Board.

“If a district fails to have a positive referendum within the time frame, the project can be removed from the state funding list,” he said. “The concept for this building project was approved on Sept. 13. In the event of a no vote on this referendum, the building committee and school committee would need to reconvene and look at a revamped project that could be sent out to voters. The additional constraint that we are also working under is the land purchase. Our option to purchase 61 Windham Center Road will expire on Dec. 31 of this year. If a project cannot be passed, any future projects would have to be locally funded.” <

Friday, October 13, 2023

Bubar closing out 2023 racing season in winner’s circle

By Ed Pierce

Auto racer Corey Bubar of Windham is finishing the 2023 season with a flourish by winning the finale for the Granite State Pro Stock Series in New Hampshire on Oct. 1 and will compete Sunday in his final race this year at the Oxford Plains Speedway.

Auto racer Corey Bubar of Windham takes the checkered flag
for winning the Bosowski Properties 150 Pro Series Race,
the final event of the 2023 Granite State Pro Stock Series, at
Lee USA Speedway in Lee, New Hampshire on Oct. 1. 
Bubar's victory earned him a first-place check for $8,500.
In winning the Bosowski Properties 150 Pro Series Race and the $8,500 first-place check at the Lee USA Speedway, Bubar continues to impress after a handful of races there this year. Earlier this summer, he finished third and fourth in the races that he entered there.

“We built a new car this year, so it took a while to figure it out and all of those good finishes were in the last three races there,” Bubar said. “We just have worked really hard on trying to improve it little by little and slowly we kept getting closer to where we needed to be and had a race where everything went our way.”

Bubar, 31, was second in time trials for the Bosowski Properties 150 Pro Series Race in New Hampshire, and that gave him a good feeling about his chances to win the race that night.

“We time trialed second, and I knew we had a good car because I suck at time trialing,” he said. “We had a couple of good battles with Jimmy Renfrew Jr. and Ryan Green but ended up with the big check. Thank you so much to my crew, Dan Bubar, Alan Berry, Karen Salvo Bubar, Dylan Bilodeau, Tinker Doughty, and Michael Landry. We lost a clutch in the second practice, and they all busted their butts to get it changed in time to make it out there for the scuff session. Thank you to Ryan Green for letting us take his spare clutch.”

During the race, Bubar held off challenges from drivers Ryan Green and Jimmy Renfrew Jr. to pull away down the stretch and win his second Granite State Pro Stock Series event.

His passion for racing began at a young age when he started competing in go-kart races at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough in 2004. His father Dan started racing at that track in the 1980s and as his racing career was wrapping up, he stepped up and helped his son launch his own career.

Bubar moved up to auto racing in the Sports Series division in 2007 at Beech Ridge, and then just a year following his graduation from Windham High School, he won the championship in the Sports Series division at the Beech Ridge track in 2011. He raced there in the Pro Series division in 2012 and enjoyed breakout success, winning more NASCAR Night races than any other racer at Beech Ridge and was eventually honored with the “Driver of the Decade Award” at Beech Ridge for the 2010s.

A key to his continued success on the racetrack is his knowledge of mechanics and being able to quickly size up problems with his car as they arise. He started working as a used car mechanic at Lake Region Imports in Westbrook while still in high school and in 2020, Bubar started a new job at Viking-Cives in Lewiston building plow trucks and performing welding there.

By 2021, he had built a solid Bubar Motorsports racing team and Bubar won three different races that year along with his first touring series race. He narrowly missed winning the championship in the last year of racing at the Beech Ridge racetrack, trailing by only four points in the standings. Last season was tough for Bubar, but he’s rebounded in 2023 and appears to be back in business and aiming at another title.

He debuted his new car in April built by Berry Racecars and Customs during a race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and Bubar says he’s grateful to everyone who has helped him get to this point in his career, including his wife, Ashley, and daughters Kinsley and Gracey.

“Thanks to my sponsors, Jef Simpson from J.A. Simpson, Strictly Roofing, Union Wharf Market, and T&L Racing,” he said. “And thanks to Tom Mason, and Alan and Stefanie Berry. Thank you to Robbie Harrison for all the help he's been this year.”

As far as the future goes, Bubar said he takes it one race at a time but will be back racing again next year.

“We don't have plans for next year yet,” he said. “I think we will wait until the schedules come out to decide but we will probably race some at Lee and some at Oxford again.” <

Friday, October 6, 2023

Grand Opening nearing for East Windham Conservation Area

By Ed Pierce

Generations of Mainers will someday look back on efforts made to protect the East Windham Conservation Area as key to preserving recreational lands and ecosystems to be enjoyed in the future. According to officials from the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and the Town of Windham, an area roughly the size of Bradbury Mountain State Park has now been conserved for open space and outdoor recreation and is the largest wildlife habitat filled with sparkling clean water and recreational trail corridor in Greater Portland.

Little Duck Pond in Windham is part of the 700 acres being
preserved and protected in the new East Windham
Conservation Area which will hold a Grand Opening 
Event on Saturday, Dec. 2. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
A Grand Opening Event has been scheduled for the public on Saturday, Dec. 2 for the East Windham Conservation Area and work is proceeding for construction of the area’s parking lot and trails. The Grand Opening Event will serve as the Phase One opening for the project and will include creation of a trailhead parking area, signage, five miles of trails, and views of the western mountains.

The 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.

In June 2022, Windham residents voted during the Annual Town Meeting to allow the town to enter a partnership with Presumpscot Regional Land Trust to purchase and conserve 661 acres near Little Duck Pond in East Windham. The project acquired the forested acreage for recreational opportunities in Windham while also adding 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond, the 150-acre Deer Wintering Area for hunting, and Atherton Hill.

Last year, the Lands for Maine’s Future organization awarded the East Windham Conservation partners $998,000 to help fund the initiative. The project 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, and amounting to one of the largest unfragmented forests in the Greater Portland region. Windham voters also approved a bond to match the LMF award with open space impact fees, so there will be no impact upon the mil rate for local taxpayers.

Once finished, the entire East Windham Conservation Area project will preserve a part of Windham that residents have identified is an important area to conserve during increasing concerns about local development and it offers scenic views of the western mountains and a place for outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

In the development of the town’s Open Space Plan, Windham surveys identified this area of East Windham as important to conserve for its large undeveloped habitat blocks and water quality protection. It also suggested conserving the land so it could remain undeveloped as future wildlife habitats and to preserve the town’s rural character. Another community benefit was identified for the area was to provide multiple-use outdoor recreation and creating access to the land for the community for walking, hiking, visiting an observation tower with 360-degree views, and experiencing scenic views of the White Mountains.

The conserved area includes Atherton Hill, which at nearly 600 feet, is the largest hill in Windham. It also features 2,000 feet of frontage along Little Duck Pond and 1,500 feet of pristine headwater streams that lead to Forest Lake, Highland Lake, and onto the Presumpscot River and an excellent wild brook trout habitat. Lowell Preserve, a 300-acre site owned by the town and for which the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust holds a conservation easement, is adjacent and includes an additional five miles of multi-use trails. The area will provide programming opportunities for school and afterschool groups and create an accessible one-mile trail for people of all ages to walk, push a stroller, and bike to visit Little Duck Pond.

“The purchase of this property and the open space it provides is consistent with our long-term comprehensive plan to preserve Windham’s rural character,” said Windham Town Councilor Brett Jones. “When you combine its 700 acres with other already established preserves, it will provide Windham and surrounding area residences with access to 2,000 acres of unspoiled nature and four seasons of outdoor recreational activities.”

Rachelle Curran Apse, executive director of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust says that the outdoor experience offered by the East Windham Conservation Area will be second to none in this part of Maine, making a destination for walking, hiking, mountain biking, trail running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and bird and wildlife watching.

“This regional scale project, which is both a destination for outdoor recreation and critical for wildlife habitat, has only been possible due to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Land for Maine’s Future Program, the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Town of Windham’s conservation bond, lead business partner Gorham Savings Bank, numerous private foundations, and over 400 local individuals and families donating to make this project a reality.”

Last summer, the land trust received nearly 400 gifts for the East Windham Conservation Project, and the State of Maine also recognized the significance of the conservation project by approving a Lands for Maine’s Future grant which was matched by a bond created by the town.

“We have been excited about this project since the Town of Windham and Presumpscot Regional Land Trust first brought it to our attention in its exploratory phase,” said Steve Walker, Director of the Land for Maine’s Future. “This project embodies the best of public and private partnerships working together to protect the places that support our wildlife, our quality of life, and our economy.”

Linda Brooks, Windham Parks and Recreation Director, said that the town is excited about the multitude of outdoor recreation opportunities being made available by the acquisition and development of the properties creating this conserved area.

“Many partnerships have been formed already to see this project through to completion, and this unique outdoor recreation destination will be such an asset, providing opportunities for walking, hiking, mountain biking, wildlife watching, snowshoeing, hunting, fishing, and cross-country skiing,” Brooks said. “ATV riding and snowmobiling will also be available on designated trails.” <

To learn more about the Grand Opening Event for the East Windham Conservation Area and review an overview of the project, go to and <

Friday, September 22, 2023

MTCCA awards recognize contributions of Windham Town Clerk, Deputy Clerk

By Ed Pierce

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.

Windham Town Clerk Office members display awards
they were presented during the Maine Town and City
Clerk Association's 28th Networking Day and Annual
Meeting on Sept. 12 in Augusta. From left are
MTCCA's 2023 Deputy Clerk of the Year and
MTCCA's 2023 Clerk of the Year Linda Morrell.
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. Before coming to work for the town, Morrell spent eight years as a ballot clerk during elections and was a stay-at-home mother. Her husband was a shift worker and when she was offered the job as deputy clerk over the phone, she eagerly accepted, launching a lengthy career of service to the public in Windham.

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.

She has said that her greatest challenge as Windham Town Clerk is staying knowledgeable about updated rules and regulations and being able to educate the public and training her staff members about those changes, she said.

In 2007, Morrell was awarded lifetime certification for her town clerk duties from the State of Maine at Maine Municipal Association. Through the years, she served the association in various capacities and continues her education to stay current on laws and procedures and completing all lifetime certification requirements. Morrell also met all qualifications and requirements to be enrolled as a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, allowing her to use the title of Certified Municipal Clerk in all 50 states.

With all her duties, Morrell puts in many long hours and late nights on behalf of the town, especially during election season and attending every Windham Town council meeting every other week.

Married and the mother of two grown sons, Morrell lives on a farm in town and has said that her work remains as meaningful to her now as it was the day she started.

“I want everyone to know that we are here for them whenever they need us,” Morrell said. “We all enjoy our jobs here and we try to be friendly all the time. We’re fortunate to have a great staff here and the public really seems to like them. I love my job and it is a privilege to serve this community as the Town Clerk.”

Morrell was nominated for the award by Vance and supported for the MTCCA award by numerous department supervisors of the Town of Windham.

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. Along with their significant others and children, the daughters live in the same neighborhood as Vance and her husband.

Despite all the years of working for the clerk’s office, Vance still finds the job interesting and challenging.

“It seems like every day we’re learning something new,” she said.

She was nominated for the MTCCA Deputy Clerk of the Year Award by Morrell, so those attending the meeting in Augusta said that both Morrell and Vance both knew the other one was getting the award they received but they did not know they were each receiving awards.

The MTCCA Town Clerk of the Year Award is presented annually to a municipal clerk who is nominated by their peers and recognizes excellence both in their contributions to their community as well as to the profession of municipal clerk. Award recipients provide service and contributions beyond just that of the municipality in which they serve by active participation in the state and/or county clerks associations and demonstrate a socially responsible approach toward their community and promoting the cause of good local government.

The MTCCA Deputy Town Clerk of the Year Award is presented annually to a deputy municipal clerk who is nominated by their peers and recognizes excellence both in their contributions to their community as well as to the profession of deputy municipal clerk. Award recipients are honored for their expertise and for work in their Town Clerk’s Office that goes above and beyond what is required by the job title, and they are committed to improving municipal government and their community. <

Friday, September 15, 2023

Windham resident competes for national mullet crown

By Ed Pierce

Move over Joe Exotic, Billy Ray Cyrus and Joe Dirt, you’re about to have some serious competition for the finest looking mullet hairstyle in all of America, and this one is homegrown right here in Windham, Maine.

Jason Putney of Windham, 33, has
been growing his 'rat tail dread
mullet' hairstyle for the past three
years and is a contestant in the 
2023 National Mullet
The iconic “business in the front and party in the back” mens’ hairdo now has a National Mullet Championship contest and Jason Putney of Windham is making a run at this year’s title. Putney has been growing his “rat tail dread mullet” for the past three years and is ready to stand out in the opening round of the competition, sponsored by

The first round of voting ends Sept. 15 and the top 75 competitors will move on to Round 2 of the contest, so there’s still time to vote for Putney’s mullet. All proceeds raised during the contest will go directly to Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors, which helps to provide accessible and mortgage-free homes for disabled military veterans.

“I had a huge afro back in my senior year of high school in 2008,” Putney said. “It took up the entire frame of my senior photo. The afro was truly getting out of hand, and something had to be done about it so I decided to get it dreaded up. My dread journey started 15 years ago and after 12 years of a full head, I asked my barber, Spencer at the Windham Crow’s Nest Barber Shop, to cut everything except the back of my head. Thus the ‘rat tail dread mullet’ was born and I’ve been wearing it for the past three years, much to the dismay of my wife.”

Originally from Calais, Putney, 33, runs a small trucking company called Downeast Shipping. His wife, Shelby LeClair, said that her husband was inspired to join the contest when he saw that it was a cause that supports veterans.

“He normally wouldn’t put himself out there like this, but his father is a veteran of the Air Force,” she said.

Known for a short trim on the top and sides with lengthy locks in the back, the mullet hairstyle first rose to popularity as worn by athletes Andre Agassi and Jose Canseco, actor Patrick Swayze and singer Bono during the 1980s and 1990s, but the hairdo has actually been around since the days of the ancient Greeks. Native American warriors wore the style in the 19th century and now the style is enjoying a revival, with celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Zendaya sporting their own versions of the look.

The mission of Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors is to raise money to build injury-specific, accessible, and mortgage-free homes for our critically injured U.S. military veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. It was founded in 2009 by retired Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen after he returned home from his USO trip to US Military Bases in the Middle East. Allen says that he was moved by the commitment, dedication, and sacrifices that our soldiers make every day to protect our freedom and he wanted to say thank you to every soldier in the only way that he knew how. By embracing the conflict and making a positive life-changing difference in the lives of those who need it most, Allen hopes to make life for wounded vets just a little bit easier.

Allen’s charity was selected as the recipient of proceeds for this year’s mullet championships because of the good work that it does and the fact that Allen himself sported a mullet hairdo throughout his football career.

According to its website, the National Mullet Championships were created several years ago to celebrate the “bold and outrageous hairstyle that is the mullet.” The national competition travels throughout America searching for the wildest mullets and hosts a series of live contests where contestants can show off their mullets to lively audiences. Its’ annual digital contest, which Putney has entered this year, calls for photo submissions in a variety of categories, such as Femullet, Mens Mullet, Kids, Teen and 55-Plus.

Winners receive cash and prizes as donated by contest sponsors. Voting in the first round is only open for three days nationwide and only 75 competitors advance to the next round. The best 25 mullets will then compete for the National Mullet Championship later this fall.

To vote for Putney’s hairstyle, go to and cast a vote for Putney’s “rat tail dread mullet.” < 

Friday, September 8, 2023

WHS Class of 1963 fondly recalls role models

By Ed Pierce

Windham High School’s Class of 1963 gathering Wednesday at the Little Meeting House is something that Carroll McDonald of Windham says he’ll never forget.

Carroll McDonald of Windham displays a wooden replica
of a P-51 aircraft that he flew during World War II. He was
presented with the model as a gift during a gathering of
members of the Windham High School Class of 1963 at
the Little Meeting House on Wednesday afternoon for
being a genuine friend to the class. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE  
McDonald, 98, was himself a graduate of Windham High in 1942, and went on to become a P-51 pilot during World War II. He returned to Windham after the war and became a postal carrier until he retired and then volunteered for years as a Meals on Wheels driver.

Through the years, a special kinship and bond has developed between McDonald and members of the class. McDonald’s son, David, was part of the WHS Class of 1963, and some members of the class performed in the town band with David McDonald and his father.

“Carroll is surely near and dear to all of our hearts,” said Al LaRhette, a member of the Class of 1963. “I remember getting to play in the band with him when we performed at Fenway Park in Boston for the State of Maine Day in 1959.”

LaRhette said Carroll was known as a friend to all the class members and is beloved by everyone who knows him.

“He was just always there for us,” LaRhette said. “He had a way about him. It was like when you were with him, you were the most important person he got to speak to that day. He’s been a cherished friend to all of us throughout all these years since our graduation.”

To commemorate McDonald’s devotion to the WHS Class of 1963, the class invited him to attend their gathering in Windham and then presented him with a wooden P-51 model like the one he flew during World War II and personally engraved to Lt. Carroll McDonald and his original unit, the 487th Fighter Squadron at Page Air Force Base in Ft. Myers, Florida.

“It was a total surprise,” McDonald said. “I will treasure it always. I think it will either have a place on my desk at home or a spot in my front window to show it off to my neighbors.”

McDonald said he’s always liked LaRhette, who was a close friend of his son and now lives in South Weymouth, Massachusetts.

“I remember going to visit them once when David and Al worked construction out in Michigan,” he said.

LaRhette said that he and David worked in construction together after graduation from WHS and the project they worked on was at Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Michigan. Both went on to serve in the U.S. Air Force and David McDonald passed away at the age of 76 from prostate cancer in 2021.

Another special guest at the gathering was Korean War veteran Jerry Black, whose late wife, Mildred, was the faculty advisor for the Class of 1963 at Windham High.

Mildred Black taught history, civics, and social studies to students at Windham High during a long teaching career that began in 1955, while her husband Jerry was an art teacher at Falmouth High School. She passed away in 2017.

“She was our favorite teacher,” LaRhette said. “We just had to invite Jerry to this event today because he was Mildred Black’s arm candy. We miss her greatly.”

To honor his contributions, including being the past president of the Little Meeting House Association where the gathering was held, class members gave Black a replica of a 1918 Model T Fire Engine that he bought and restored as a teenager. Black told the gathering that the fire engine still works today and he still owns it although it’s currently on loan to a museum in Owl’s Head, Maine.

Of the 62 graduates of the WHS Class of 1963, some 34 members and their spouses attended the event and each of them personally shook McDonald’s and Black’s hands and wished them well.

“Like I said, this is something that I’ll never let go of,” McDonald said. “I feel so loved.” <

Rescued couple grateful after boat starts sinking on Sebago Lake

By Ed Pierce

What began as a leisurely sunset cruise on Sebago Lake turned into a dramatic rescue and later an affirmation of the goodness of their fellow man for a Windham couple.

Fire/Rescue crews from Standish, Windham and Raymond
bring Brian and Kathleen March of Windham on board to
safety after their boat began taking on water on Sebago
Lake on Aug. 21. The boat was towed to shore in Standish
and the next day some volunteers from Shaw Acres helped
push it out of the water and up onto a trailer for evaluation
by insurance agents. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
On the evening of Monday, Aug. 21, Brian March and his wife, Kathleeen, took their boat out for the first time this summer after extensive work was performed in May on the 22-foot skiff craft they’ve owned for three years. They cruised to Frye Island, watched the sunset from the lake, took some photographs, and then headed along the shoreline by Saint Joseph’s College in Standish. And that’s when the trouble started.

“The motor stalls and I put it in neutral and it stalls again,” Brian March said. “I started playing with throttle when my wife told me there was water in the boat.”

He looked over and saw water in two corners, opened the bilge and saw that it was flooded with water. They looked up a towing company by cell phone, but as water began filling the boat, the couple decided to immediately call 9-1-1. On board the couple had a small hand pump, but they were more than 100 yards from shore and continuing to take on water.

“We had our life jackets on and waited for help to arrive,” Brian March said. “But we feared the boat was going to sink.”

The couple spent some harrowing minutes together waiting for rescue.

In the nick of time, the new Standish Fire/Rescue boat arrived at the scene and latched onto the March’s vessel with rope. In the coming minutes, several other towns’ fire-rescue crews responded to help as Brian and Kathleen March were taken aboard the rescue watercraft and a secure line was affixed to the bow of their boat for towing.

Standish Fire/Rescue brought it to the nearest beach, a private residence on Burke Street in Standish. The resident there allowed them to keep their boat at the site until they figured out what to do with it and he stayed with the couple until Windham Fire/Rescue Chief Brent Libby arrived to give them a ride back to their truck and trailer at Raymond Beach.

The next morning, the couple called a towing service and was quoted a price of $5,000 to haul it away to be evaluated for insurance purposes.

“I told our insurance agent I was looking at other options,” Brian March said. “I thought if we could pump the water out if we had a sump pump, we could do it ourselves and save that expense.”

Scouting out possible locations to lift the boat out of the water, the launch at Shaw Acres seemed to be a possibility. Near the boat launch, Shaw Acres resident Victor Salome brought the couple into his home and got on the phone and called Ralph Morrison of the Shaw Acres Community Association. They looked over the situation and agreed to help the Marchs.

They found a sump pump and hoses to pump out the boat at Windham Rental and pumped the water out of their boat, then waited 20 to 25 minutes while it filled again but stayed above the waterline.

At that point, they decided to turn the boat around and make a short trip across the lake to Shaw Acres with two hand pumps and an electric pump on board just in case water started pouring in again.

“Through God’s grace, we made it,” Katheen March said.

Over a span of four hours, they had brought the boat to Shaw Acres and with the help of four volunteers from Shaw Acres, the couple pushed the boat to the dock, pumped it out a third time and up and onto a 22-foot trailer to be appraised by their insurance company.

“They were all very pleasant and willing to help,” Kathleen March said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”

To show their gratitude, the Marchs sent Victor and Ralph and the Shaw Acres Association thank-you cards.

“I’m a person of faith and we were blessed that the boat didn’t take on water faster,” Kathleen March said. “We’re blessed that Standish Fire/Rescue had a new boat and it had the power to pull it to shore. We’re blessed that the landowner let us keep our boat there overnight and we’re blessed that the people of Shaw Acres were kind and wanted to help us. Every step of the way we had gifts and blessings.”

She said she feels lucky to be alive and her faith in the goodness of humanity has been strengthened because of their ordeal on the lake.

“Life is short, assess what you invest your time and money in,” Kathleen March said.

Her husband agrees and says in looking back over everything that happened to them, one thing is clear.

“We may have lost a boat but gained some wonderful new friends,” Brian March said. <