Search

Showing posts with label Newspaper. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Newspaper. Show all posts

Friday, March 22, 2024

Newspaper surpasses 11-year anniversary in community

For not knowing much about journalism or the publishing industry when first creating a newspaper, the owners of The Windham Eagle are celebrating their 11th anniversary this month and continue to believe their work is essential and needed by the residents of Windham and Raymond.

The first edition of The Windham Eagle newspaper was
published March 1, 2013 and the publication remains
a positive and solutions-based newspaper covering
the communities of Windham and Raymond and
supported by local businesses in the area.
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE 
Kelly and Niels Mank published the first edition of The Windham Eagle on March 1, 2013, and now more than a decade later, the couple remains focused on delivering positive and solutions-based news to readers. Headquartered in Windham at 585 Roosevelt Trail, the newspaper publishes 51 weekly editions every year along with a popular Summer Guide for the Sebago Lakes Region and serves as a host for the Eagle Choice Awards every summer.

“When we first started The Windham Eagle, we felt there was a need for a community publication to tell positive stories about our local residents,” Kelly Mank said. “There are so many negative things about this community that are publicized elsewhere but having a newspaper that emphasizes positive achievements and solutions-based news is a necessity and has led to our success.”

She said she had never thought about creating a newspaper before starting The Windham Eagle in 2013 but knew it had to be different for it to succeed.

“I remember talking about it initially and remarking that if we are going to do it, it is going to be different,” Mank said. “We wanted to create a publication that all ages could find something of interest in, and that would contain positive articles focused on the communities of Windham and Raymond. It would spotlight the youth and their accomplishments as they are the future, we would highlight the veterans and their history for their dedication to our community and we would partner with local businesses to help create a thriving local economy.”

According to Mank, many people were skeptical that such a newspaper could be sustainable. They told her that newspapers across America are dying, and that positive news isn’t real news and couldn’t work.

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

Advertising Director Melissa Carter joined The Windham Eagle in October 2013, having worked at other publications for many years, and said that the greatest misconception people may have about the paper is that it operates with much more of a crew than it actually does.

“Unlike most other publications, we are very a small staff. We do not have a large team of employees but manage to put out more pages on a weekly basis than any other single newspaper in Maine,” Carter said. “Readers may not realize that 100 percent of the newspaper’s revenue comes from supporting advertisers which is why we ask all our readers to support the local businesses they see in the paper.”

Carter said she loves her work with The Windham Eagle. She said she is passionate about working with local businesses, new and old, to help market and brand them so they can grow and succeed. As both the advertising director and designer Carter can deliver a level of service and expertise not found with other publications.

“Being able to get creative and come up with ideas to contribute to their overall success is challenging and rewarding,” she said. “I am not your average ‘salesperson’, in fact I went to school for graphic design and that is where much of my passion lies.”

Managing Editor Ed Pierce is the third of three different editors who have led the newspaper, following Michelle Libby and Lorraine Glowczak in that role.

Pierce has been with the newspaper since May 2020 and says working for a positive and solutions-based publication is refreshing.

“I started out in journalism in 1975 and one of my favorite jobs in my 49-year career was working for a small community newspaper,” he said. “This newspaper really is a throwback because once again I am telling stories about schools, churches, businesses, clubs, people with interesting hobbies and veterans who sacrificed everything so we can live in freedom.”

He said not writing about crime or politics allows him to focus on finding compelling articles that might not otherwise be published elsewhere or even heard about for that matter.

“Every day somebody sends me an email or calls us with a human interest story idea for the newspaper,” Pierce said. “I also enjoy working with our freelance writers to keep The Windham Eagle filled with great positive stories about this community.”

Carter said that The Windham Eagle is the only publication in the area that is direct mailed to every home and business in Windham and Raymond, making it an invaluable resource to the community.

“We saturate the market more efficiently than any other advertising source. I believe in our paper so much and wouldn’t be able to sell it to businesses if I didn’t,” she said. “We’re able to mail copies of the newspaper to every home because of the support of our advertisers. Because we circulate to 13,000 homes and businesses, there is no question as to who your ad will reach. We bring feel-good stories to the readers that they will not find anywhere else. When people see their neighbors, friends, family, and students in the paper, it creates a personal connection and is what makes us so unique and highly read. And our customers make us successful. Without them we would not be able to pay the high cost of mailing and printing so many copies. We have a loyal base that supports us week after week and for that I am grateful. The trust I have built with my clients is amazing.”

Lisa DiBase, a broker and the owner of Landing Real Estate in Windham, said having an outlet like The Windham Eagle has been invaluable for her company.

“This platform has served as a powerful channel through which we can reach our target audience and effectively communicate our brand message,” DiBiase said. “The Windham Eagle provides us with a local presence, allowing us to connect directly with members of our community. This localized approach is crucial for a real estate agency like ours, as building trust and rapport within the community is essential for attracting clients and closing deals.”

She said The Windham Eagle enhances Landing Real Estate’s credibility and visibility among potential clients.

“When individuals see our name and listings regularly in a reputable local publication, it reinforces the perception that we are a reliable and reputable real estate agency worthy of their consideration,” DiBiase said. “The Windham Eagle serves as a positive and reliable source of information for community events, news, and developments. By being present in such a publication, we not only promote our business but also demonstrate our commitment to staying informed and engaged with the local community. The Windham Eagle has provided us with a platform to effectively promote our business, showcase our listings and agents, and engage with the community. It has been instrumental in driving awareness, generating leads, and ultimately contributing to the success and growth of Landing Real Estate.”

Linda Manchester, the owner of The Good Life Market and Swift River Coffee Roasters in Raymond, says the newspaper has been a huge supporter of her businesses since they first opened, doing feature stories about them to let the community know what and who we were, and consistently coming up with creative and beautiful content for their advertising.

“The personal connection we’ve had with the staff at the paper has been amazing, it feels like they are truly in our corner, wanting to see us succeed,” Manchester said. “It’s meaningful that The Windham Eagle gives back to the community by doing fundraising ads, and highlighting the achievements of local people, organizations, and businesses. The fact that the paper shows up in every mailbox gives readers an effortless connection to each other, to the community, and to a simpler time, and reminds us that we’re all still here for each other. I love working with your paper, because I know and love this region, and I truly believe The Windham Eagle does, too.”

Chris McDonald, the owner of Windham Powersports, says he’s a believer in what The Windham Eagle newspaper does for his business.

"You can have the best product in the world and if no one knows about it, it won’t sell,” McDonald said. “The Windham Eagle has helped me get my brand out to their huge local audience. Customer Service is Key in business and Melissa at The Windham Eagle has provided top-notch service for me and my business. She has offered unique and creative advertising on a weekly basis for nearly a decade. Melissa and The Windham Eagle are like having an ace up your sleeve, helping you win with sales and customer relationships. Thank you to Melissa, and The Windham Eagle, for all you've done for Windham Powersports over the years."

The newspaper’s annual Eagle Choice Awards, where readers cast votes for their favorite and most trusted businesses in the region, remains as popular now as when it started, culminating with a gathering of award recipients hosted by The Windham Eagle. Last summer’s Eagle Choice Awards celebration was held for the first time at Erik’s Church in Windham and drew its largest crowd of several hundred people since the awards were launched in 2015.

The newspaper also sponsors regular advertising initiatives specifically intended to raise funds for local nonprofits and various charitable activities.

The Windham Eagle staff would like to thank their readers and advertisers for their ongoing support. See our celebration pages inside with a salute to more than 100 local businesses. Here’s to 11 more years. <

Friday, March 10, 2023

Newspaper reaches 10-year milestone in region

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020: Year in Review



As compiled by The Windham Eagle staff

The year 2020 opened with such promise for many in Windham and Raymond, but it became clear by late February and early March that we all were living through extraordinary times. The global COVID-19 pandemic forced its way into almost every aspect of our lives, from students and teachers making a transition to remote schooling to not being able to dine at our favorite restaurants, go to see a movie at the theater or hug our grandparents in the nursing home.

With job losses mounting, deaths from the virus climbing at area hospitals, local businesses struggling from a statewide restriction on tourism, prep sports forced to cancel and many popular events such as Windham’s Summerfest moved online, by summer the reality of the pandemic was entrenched in the Sebago Lakes region.

Daily lives were altered as mask wearing in public was mandatory, frequent hand washing and sales of bottles of hand sanitizer skyrocketed. Toilet paper and meat became scarce commodities in the grocery stores, which opened earlier to seniors shopping during the COVID crisis. To avoid interacting with crowds, more shoppers placed grocery orders online and then picked them up curbside. Increased demands placed upon online retailers like Amazon and Ebay kept delivery of items by U.S. postal carriers, UPS, and FedEx steady throughout the summer and well into the fall and Christmas seasons.

After Labor Day, the towns of Windham and Raymond prepared for local elections and on Nov. 3, poll workers saw record turnouts driven by a hotly contested presidential election.

As 2021 unfolds, we all have great optimism that the distribution of effective vaccines will allow life locally to slowly return to normal and hopefully by next fall, the threat posed by the greatest health hazard in modern memory will be relegated to the history books and stories told to generations that follow us.

But before we close the chapter permanently on 2020, here’s a quick look back at an unforgettable year unlike one any of us have previously experienced.

After a careful review of all issues of the newspaper in 2020, we’ve chosen to highlight the top three stories for each month as featured in The Windham Eagle and wishing everyone a better year ahead in 2021:


JANUARY

Robin Mullins to lead Sebago Lakes Chamber as Executive Director

Zachary Conley, President of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce (SLRCC) announced at the chamber’s annual meeting on Jan. 16 that Robin Mullins has been named the new Executive Director for the organization. 

Mullins is no stranger to the Chamber or to the Sebago Lakes Region. She grew up in Windham, graduated from Windham High School, and she and her husband, John, live in Windham with their two daughters, Cassidy and Ainsley (both of whom also graduated from Windham High School). 

She grew up camping every summer in Naples at Kay’s Family Circle Campground, which is now Loon’s Haven Campground, and her family now enjoys boating on Lake Long and Brandy Pond, in Naples, every chance they get in the summer. 

The new Director worked as the Chamber Office Manager for two years from 2015 to 2017. She returned in February 2019 as she missed the position and the people. “We were thrilled to have her back,” stated Conley. “We needed an Office Manager and she stepped back in like she had never been gone.” <

Young Windham actors play roles in ‘Little Women’

The latest movie of “Little Women,” directed by Greta Gerwig and currently showing in theaters, is the seventh film adaptation of the 1898 novel of the same name, written by Louisa May Alcott. What makes this recent movie version so special for one Windham family is that siblings Gracie and Lincoln Rulman were picked to play small parts, acting with Hollywood celebrities such as Emma Watson and Laura Dern.

“Lincoln acted as one of the four King children whose nanny is Meg, played by Emma Watson,” explained Sarah Rulman, the actors’ mother. “Unfortunately, his scene was cut due to timing, but Gracie’s scene remained in the movie. She played a church goer and a child in the Town Square on Christmas Day while actors Emma Watson and Laura Dern walked by, performing their scenes.

Their acting debut all started when Sarah answered a simple ad in the Portland Press Herald last spring. The ad was from a casting agency asking for young actors to apply as extras for the film. She applied and within a few weeks, 9-year-old Lincoln was the first to get the call back, with 10-year-old Gracie receiving a call shortly thereafter.

The Rulman family had many exciting experiences that included being on a professional movie set, filming on location and riding in a limousine to a nondisclosed location. <

Windham’s new public works building is cost-effectively increasing safety, efficiency and morale

Public facilities are important to municipalities and their citizens as they ensure basic needs are met with the goal that it is done so in the most affordable manner. The new public works building, located on 185 Windham Center Road, officially opened its doors in April 2019, and is already demonstrating the positive economic impacts to the Town of Windham. With that comes other important contributions to both the residents and its employees.

“Since we’ve been in this new building, we’ve seen an increase in efficiency, safety – and even morale,” stated Doug Fortier, Public Works Director.

Fortier further explained that with the 30,000 square foot building which includes, but is not limited to, the wash bay, maintenance garage, men and women’s locker room, RSU14 and Public Works offices have improved productivity in more ways than one.

For example, Highway Supervisor, Michael Constantine’s major focus for the winter is the plow trucks. He explained how the addition of the garage has contributed to quicker response time during the start of snowstorms.

“Before the new building, we had to first load the trucks with salt, let the truck idle to warm up and defrost the windows and clean the snow off the truck,” began Constantine. “With the new building, we can have the salt loaded and parked in the bay. As soon as we get in to work, all we need to do is start the truck and leave. It could take up to or over an hour before the new building, but now we can get on the road much more quickly and do so without wasting diesel fuel by idling the trucks or damaging cold hydraulic systems. It’s a win-win situation.” <

FEBRUARY

Windham resident to begin co-hosting on Coast 93.1 early morning radio program

What started as an opportunity to promote her business turned into a brand-new career for Windham resident Kelly Towle, who was recently selected to join the morning show for Coast 93.1.

Towle founded Plucked Fresh Salsa with her husband Jason, and their business partner Chris Fawcett joined them in late 2015.  Building a brand is difficult, she said, especially when they were doing everything themselves, including sales and marketing; accounting; the production of 3-6,000 pounds of salsa per week; and labeling, filling and packing the jars. “I’m always trying to get our name out there,” Towle said. 

Towle, who regularly listens to Coast 93.1, heard them talking about filling Eva’s seat while Eva was on vacation. She thought that would be a good opportunity to advertise the company while also having a good time and embracing her love for music.

She was selected as one of the participants and spent four hours on air with Blake. As she was leaving that morning, she said, a couple of the managers approached her to say she’d done a great job, was funny, and seemed to have good chemistry with Blake.

After a few weeks of going through the interview process along with other candidates, Towle was hired to join the show. She’ll be on the air Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., along with doing appearances and endorsements, she said. <

Raymond man raises awareness about the importance of AEDs after surviving cardiac arrest at daughter’s wedding

Mary Bowie could have lost her father on one of the happiest days of her life. On Memorial Day 2019, at Bowie’s wedding reception, Tom Wiley collapsed on the dance floor. Fortunately, the right help was available, and he survived the ordeal.

"Without the aid of trained people who know CPR and an AED at the reception, I may not be here now” said Wiley. While three men at the wedding who had CPR training (the bride’s uncle Danny; her new father-in-law Chris; and one of the groomsmen, Tyler) sprang into action, that alone may not have been enough to save Wiley. Fortunately, the reception site, Camp Ketcha in Scarborough, had an automatic external defibrillator (AED) on site. The men were able to revive Wiley before EMS arrived.

Wiley didn’t have any symptoms of heart trouble like chest pain, headache, nausea or vomiting that day.  “I was dancing, and then I wasn’t. I don’t remember anything from beginning to dance to being outside going in the ambulance,” he said.

Since then, he has learned a lot about the heart, he said.  He has a defibrillator, does a rehab program, and will meet with a genetics cardiologist soon. He said he’s had a good support system with family, church members, and co-workers. “I’m very lucky, and I want to spread the news,” he said.

Before his experience, Wiley said, he didn’t understand the importance of the AED. He works for the city of South Portland and when they purchased some AEDs a few years ago, he wondered why they were necessary, especially since there was a fire station right next door. 

There is also a fire station right across from Camp Ketcha, he said, but the ambulance sent for him came from somewhere else. “I was told that I was the third cardiac arrest that day in Scarborough, and I was the only one that survived,” Wiley said.  Later, when he was in the hospital, Wiley received a visit from the Scarborough EMS chief who told him, “I don’t usually get to talk to survivors.” <

Raymond welcomes new Recreation Department Director

Raymond residents are eagerly anticipating the latest addition to their town: a new Recreation Department headed by a new Recreation Director. Joseph Crocker, the Town of Raymond’s most recent hire, will begin his tenure leading Raymond’s newly-created Recreation Department later this month.

“We’re really excited about this opportunity,” said Don Willard, Raymond’s Town Manager. “It’s an

enormous step forward for the town.”

Originally from Old Orchard Beach, Joseph attended Saint Joseph’s College, where he earned a degree in Exercise Science. He then continued his studies at New England College in New Hampshire, earning an MBA in Sports and Recreation Management. Although he grew up on the Maine coast, Joseph has always felt a connection to the Lakes Region.

“My family has been camping in the Lakes Region for 28 years,” Crocker said. “It’s been a special place in my life. I love the area and the community.”

Crocker started his position as the Director of Raymond’s new Recreation Department on Feb. 18. <

MARCH

2016 WHS graduate a top student and valedictorian at UMaine

“I did it, Mom! I did it! But please don’t tell anyone.”

That was the humble plea of Sierra Yost, a 2016 Windham High School (WHS) graduate, during a recent phone conversation with her mother, Marla Pettinelli. Sierra had just discovered she was selected as the number one 2020 academic and Valedictorian student graduating at the University of Maine (UMaine) and called her mother to notify her.

The fact that Sierra is on the front page of today’s Windham Eagle newspaper is an indication that her mother, as well as Sierra’s father, Rick Yost, did not heed her pleas about this exciting news. But since the cat is out of the bag, we will share Sierra’s story despite her preferences for keeping this news on the down and low.

In alignment with her well-mannered personality, Sierra has honored her parents’ requests and took the time to speak with The Windham Eagle newspaper. She shared how the selection process for the top student works at UMaine. “There are 10 nominations,” she began. “Two top students are nominated from each college [there are five separate colleges in the UMaine system]. I was selected as one of the top students in the Department of Engineering. A Teachers’ Council of professors then select from the submitted essays of these 10 students. From there, they nominate the number one student and send it to the President for approval. I’m very happy that they selected me and that I was approved by the President.” Sierra’s degree is in Chemical Engineering.

In fact, this is not the first time Sierra has received media attention. As a Windham Middle School eighth-grade student, the motivated and innovative 14-year was a house-hold name in the Associated Press after watching the film, “Bag It.”

As for school itself, Sierra is glad she chose UMaine. “Don’t knock your state school,” she advises future WHS graduates. “At first, I really didn’t want to attend UMaine, but I discovered I have received the best education possible. The faculty wants everyone to succeed and help you become qualified for the next step in your life.” <

Local poet creates framed poetry display for National Poetry Month

Bob Clark’s interest in poetry was piqued when he was a student at Windham High School.  A teacher there took the time to really examine poetry and the different ways it could be interpreted.
That initial interest returned later in life, and inspired Clark to begin offering a display of his work to public libraries during April, which is National Poetry Month. He is scheduled to display his work for the tenth consecutive year at the Windham Public Library next month.

In notes that will accompany his 2020 display, Clark wrote, “Making reader connections has become my lead effort, just as it had been years ago in grade school when we were invited to think about a “deeper meaning” that an author could be intending. It was fascinating!”

For several years, Clark had month-long displays in two different libraries. He has now backed off to only displaying his work in Windham.

Clark’s poetry reflects what he sees in New England, much like that of Robert Frost or Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, he said. “To write is to feel freedom, a freedom to use words as images and images as expressions of comfort and joy, as well as concern or unease,” Clark said in his 2020 display notes. “The ‘story’ of many poems furnishes a friendly New England gesture to relax and read with a serene sense of enjoyment. Those on display welcome patrons to recall something similar in or from our unique natural maritime and forest landscapes and work heritage,” he added.

Clark’s 2020 display is titled “Carriage Lane,” and features works from his two books, “The Hitching Post”, and “Tenerife Island”. Along with the display, Clark will offer free bookmarks, and a booklet of poems for sale. <

Windham couple make it to final round to win a ‘Real Maine Wedding’ with plans to donate to Windham Food Pantry

Since 2011, the publishers of Real Maine Weddings magazine have hosted a fun competition for couples getting ready to tie the knot for a chance to win a $100,000 wedding prize at a beautiful Maine venue. Past host communities have been located in idyllic Maine locations such as Rockport, Kennebunkport, Peaks Island and Ogunquit to name a few. This year, the lucky winning couple will have their wedding celebrations in Bath and Phippsburg.

Windham natives and 2012 Windham High School graduates, Stephanie Frost and Mitchell Hodge, who became engaged to be married on Oct. 19, 2019 entered the contest and have made it to the top three finalists.

Frost stated that she and her fiancĂ© were encouraged to enter the contest by her grandmother. “My grandmother knew the couple that won last year,” Frost began. “She believed we had an interesting story and history to share so she thought we would be good candidates for this year’s Real Maine Wedding competition. So, we thought we’d give it a try and go for it.”

Hodge and Frost grew up in Windham and although they knew one another while in high school, it wasn’t until they became friends at Keene College in New Hampshire that their love blossomed during their sophomore year.

After receiving their degrees - Frost in communication; Hodge in theater with a minor is psychology - they returned to live and work in Windham, becoming engaged about three years later.

The couple are active community members, giving back in multiple ways including coaching youth in soccer (Hodge) and basketball (Frost). But giving back to their hometown does not stop there. In a recent Facebook post, Hodge wrote the following:

“For every vote we receive throughout the final round of voting, we will donate 10 cents. The money raised will be donated to the Windham Food Pantry. Steph and I want to give back and help the people around us, whether we win the contest or not. We will be giving back to our community. That's the real win.” <

APRIL

Windham High School graduate participates in unique Navy exercise

Though Hunter Anderson didn’t join the Navy with the goal of joining a submarine team, he’s glad that that’s where he ended up. Recently, being part of this team offered Anderson an opportunity to participate in a multinational maritime ice exercise (ICEX) in the Arctic Ocean.

An article by Geoff Ziezulewiz in the Navy Times said ICEX “helps boat crews stay sharp in an Arctic region that officials believe is becoming increasingly vital to national security.”

The exercise, held every two years, was based out of Camp Seadragon, a temporary military outpost on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean.

Two U.S. boats participated in ICEX 2020: the Connecticut, based out of Bremerton, WA and the Toledo (Anderson’s boat), based in Groton, Connecticut.

Working on a submarine presents some unique challenges, Anderson said, and it takes a certain type of person to handle the working environment and close quarters. It’s difficult, he said, to get into the submarine force and stay in, making it an undermanned part of the Navy. The upside, he said, is that you know that the people you are working with have been through extensive training, have the necessary knowledge, and won’t crack under pressure.

“You’re working with, hands down, the best people in the Navy,” he said. The downside, he added, is that you are constantly busy because there are so many things only the submarine force can do, and so few people to do them.

Anderson is a 2017 graduate of Windham High School, and his family still lives in Windham. His mother, Vicky Anderson, said she was excited that Hunter had a chance to experience ICEX 2020. “Not many people can say that they’ve been on a submarine, and not many people can say they’ve been on a submarine above the arctic circle,” she said. <

Windham ASL Interpreter for Maine CDC briefings draws interest

Dr. Regan Thibodeau, ASL Instructor at the University of Southern Maine’s ASL Lab and a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) and Translator, is committed to helping the Deaf community get all the resources and support they need. This is apparent in her interpreting for the Maine CDC briefings on COVID-19 as well as in the work she has done throughout her life.

Thibodeau has garnered a lot of attention recently for the expressive way she interprets at the Maine CDC briefings. In a conversation with Jeff Parsons published on wjbq.com, she explained the importance of using such animated expression in her interpretation.  “…most of our ASL grammar such as punctuation, intonation, tensing, transitions, even run-ons, occur within the face and head tilting. Shoulder shifting shows dialogue, for example. If you covered a signer’s face and only had their hands shown, it would not mean anything.”  Interpreters who sign smaller and use less expression typically are those for whom ASL is a second language, and didn’t grow up using sign language, she added.  “This means we will miss getting this critical information to a huge group of people that need ASL access.”

Thibodeau is also involved in a project with dpan.tv on Facebook, to be sure that CDIs are provided for white house briefings. This project has very limited funding, she said, and they don’t know what will happen when that runs out. “Really, the White House should be paying for it,” she said. “We are so lucky that MEMA and the State of Maine recognizes the use of CDIs!”

Thibodeau is bilingual, fluent in both spoken English and ASL. Typically, she works with a Hearing Interpreter who interprets the spoken English to her. She then interprets that expressed signing to her team.

Born deaf, Thibodeau has been a member of the Deaf community since childhood. Throughout her life, she has encountered many different signing styles and skills. “This is an asset to my job as it gives me language flexibility to meet my clients at their place of understanding and their world view to better connect the two people using me to communicate with each other,” she said. 

Thibodeau co-wrote a bill with Karen Hopkins of Scarborough to help the State of Maine pass legislation on Kindergarten Readiness for D/HH/DB Children last year. 

She said she is excited to have recently submitted a final version of the world’s first textbook chapter on CDIs in the K-12 settings.

Thibodeau and her family have lived in the Forest Lake community since 2007. There are many things she likes about living there, she said, including the privacy of the roads which makes it safer for her to run, having the lake right there, and the summer people who make the place come alive with a different energy.

Of her many accomplishments in life, Thibodeau said some proud moments for her include getting her BA while working 60 hours a week, going to school full time, and dealing with the effects and aftermath of a toxic relationship; giving her commencement speech at the Multi-cultural graduation ceremony; and running the Beach to Beacon for the first time despite having suffered back injuries. Now, she added, it makes her happy to be able to do home projects such as replacing her own kitchen sink. “And when my family says I pulled off a good dinner,” she added.  <

Windham High School senior produces inspirational video message for the Class of 2020

Knowing they won’t return to school for the remainder of the year is a major adjustment for all students, teachers and families. But for high school seniors, it’s heartbreaking to hear that they will not walk the halls with their friends one last time.

WHS senior Anthony Gugliuzza created a video that he shared via YouTube early last week.  Now, with distance learning continuing through the end of the year, the video is even more poignant and relevant.

Gugliuzza said he’d been thinking a lot about senior year and the uncertainty that surrounded it.

Looking at pictures of teachers and friends on his phone made him smile, he said, and inspired him to create the video to share. “I thought that if I put something together for the whole class, it would be a means to helping everyone through such tough times. I wanted people not only in our school but throughout the community to know that we will get through this together, even if it means [that] right now we have to be apart.”

The news that school would not reopen this year was tough, Gugliuzza said.  “Our school is like family, the kids, the faculty, we all care about one another. However, I know our school system is filled with some amazing individuals who will find a way to make our senior year special,” he said. “Sometimes you need to lose something to know what you have. Although it's not ideal to lose your

senior year, there is always a plan. Things seem to have a funny way of working out,” he added. <

MAY

Chamber and town collaborate with restaurants to provide free food for Windham seniors

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Windham Parks and Recreation Department, Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce have joined forces with local restaurants to offer free meals to-go for senior residents ages 65 and above in the Windham community.

The prepared meals began Friday, May 8 with curbside pick up from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Windham Town Hall, 8 School Road, and continued every Friday into the summer.

“The intention of the free senior meal to-go program is to give our seniors citizens in need a healthy food option while at the same time, help Windham restaurants keep working and stay busy,” stated Linda Brooks, Director of the Windham Parks and Recreation Department. She further explained the town has scholarship money set aside for senior programming. Following the lead from the Saco Parks and Recreation Department, who has started a similar free food plan, Brooks thought offering something similar in Windham would be a great option for the community.

“When I approached Tom Bartell, Director of the WEDC and Robin Mullins, Director of the Chamber about this idea, they both thought it was a perfect way to use the scholarships funds to assist both seniors and area businesses,” Brooks said.

Each week, a participating restaurant will be selected to make the meals. The Elbow Room Bistro will be the first to offer toward the food-to-go program and the initial menu item to be offered will be Shephard’s Pie with gravy. Next Friday’s meal, offered by Franco’s Bistro, will include either lasagna or fettuccine with meatballs.

Brooks noted that the free curb-side meal to go for seniors will follow social distancing recommendations. Individuals will be able to easily pick-up meal’s curbside in the town’s parking lot. <

Windham launches new way to celebrate Summerfest, but event spirit remains

The good news: the Summerfest Committee is committed to having fireworks and a celebration at a later date, once it is safe to do so.

The other news: Last month, because of the pandemic, the Summerfest Committee made the decision Summerfest will be a virtual event held on the Summerfest Facebook page.

Previously known as Old Home Days, Summerfest has always been a great way for residents to celebrate Windham. This free, family-friendly event lets everyone gather to kick off the start of summer.

Due to Covid-19, public events of more than 50 people are prohibited into June, July and August under Governor Janet Mills’ timeline to reopen the state.

“We decided to err on the side of caution and try a virtual event,” said committee co-chair Robin Mullins.

The Windham Parks and Recreation Department’s mission is to create a sense of community and unity through people, parks and programs. Like many of us, since the pandemic, the department has had to change the way they do things, but they haven’t stopped doing them.

Some of the events and activities included the Hometown Hero award, viewing old videos and footage of past Summerfests and weekly photo contests.

“Summerfest’s mission is Bringing Unity to the Community,” said the liaison for vendors and crafts Barb Maurais. “The committee felt that it was important that we continue our Summerfest tradition and celebration even with the social distancing restrictions. Since we wouldn’t be able to gather, the Virtual Summerfest will be our way of bringing Windham residents together especially during the celebration of Maine’s Bicentennial.” < 

Windham to keep taxes flat for the next fiscal year 

The most recent word in today’s repertoire is ‘flatten’ – as in ‘flatten the curve’ relating to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Town of Windham is using the term as it relates to the town’s budget. 

“The town’s municipal budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year will have a zero increase as a result of the pandemic,” said Barry Tibbetts, Windham Town Manager. “Basically, the town’s fiscal budget will remain flat and the majority of planned building remodels and additions, paving and improvements to dirt roads along with other needed items have been placed on hold. There will be no tax increases from the town’s municipal budget.” 

The town has postponed the hiring of additional needed staff as well as building renovations and expansions necessary at the Town Hall. A few much-needed items will be purchased and be obtained, and the public safety building located on Windham Center Road will undergo some expansion, but residents will not see an increase in taxes this year or the future for that project.

“We will be purchasing one pickup and a smaller dump truck, a new ambulance and must make necessary additions/remodeling to the public safety building in order to comply with the safety regulations as a result of COVID-19,” Tibbets said. “When the public safety building was built in 1989, there were only 22 employees. Now, we have more than doubled the number of staff with 48 employees and the officer and emergency medical providers are extremely cramped and unsafe. These modifications to the building with the new addition will be absorbed within the budget by using a bond. There will not be an increase in the mill rate or the town’s taxes, as a result.”

The projected mil rate increase for the RSU budget, should it be approved, will be 47 cents while the County impact will be 4 cents. Another quick way to calculate that for individual impact would be a $51 increase per $100,000 in valuation. <

JUNE

Lucky streak: Windham Public Works driver discovers patch of four-leaf clovers

Dave Rampino isn’t much of a betting man, but maybe he should be. On June 4, the Windham Public Works Department truck driver hit the jackpot in finding something many search a lifetime for -- a four-leaf clover.

Rampino, who’s worked for the Town of Windham for 17 years, was moving a snowplow at the Public Works facility when he saw a patch of clover near the curb. Stopping to look through the clover patch, he found not one, two, three, but actually four four-leaf clovers and one five-leaf clover in a span of about five minutes. 

“I was doing a walk-around of my plow truck when I saw the clover patch,” Rampino said. “I always looked for four-leaf clovers as a kid and thought I’d look over there too.”

Legend has it that St. Patrick of Ireland once found a four-leaf clover and gave it to his friends telling them that it was put there by God with the first three leaves representing faith, hope and love and the fourth leaf representing luck. St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, or three-leaf clover, to his followers to describe God’s Holy Trinity.

Ancient Celtic priests of Ireland believed that by carrying a three-leaf clover or shamrocks, they could ward off evil spirits and in time the shamrock became forever associated as a symbol associated Ireland and the Irish people. Four-leaf clovers were described in Celtic literature as “magical” and capable of producing instantly good fortune if discovered and finding a five-leaf signified that enormous wealth was coming your way.

The website www.thescienceexploer.com estimates that the odds of finding a four-leaf clover at 10,000 to 1 and lists the odds of finding a five-leaf clover at more than 1 million to 1. Scientists say because clover plants do not naturally produce four-leaf plants genetically, that’s what makes four-leaf clovers a rarity.

According to Rampino, the morning of June 4 was the first time he looked through the patch of clover near the truck yard since the Windham Public Works Department moved into a new 30,000 square-foot facility on Windham Center Road last year.

“I think all this dirt was brought in here and the area was reshaped. I don’t know what they used to seed it with,” he said. “This particular patch might actually be wild clover coming out of the nearby woods, but I’m really not sure about that.” < 

Raymond safely opens public places and town hall, returning to normal business hours 

The Town of Raymond’s municipal office has opened their doors to the public to continue providing services, while at the same time, protecting members of the community and office personnel COVID-19 exposure. 

The town hall’s office hours are Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. As for the public places, Raymond Beach and Veterans Memorial Park are open, but Tassel Top Park is closed until further notice.  

The Town of Raymond is asking patrons to practice proper social distancing when using these public spaces by remaining 6 feet from others. Also, it is asked that people not use any playground equipment or sit at picnic tables as they are not being sanitized after each use and pose a risk of spreading the virus. 

Although the town offices are reopened, staff continued to provide municipal services during the couple months they were closed. Much like other organizations, the town has had to be innovative, overcoming challenges the pandemic has created. 

Employees have adjusted well and kept things moving forward in a timely manner. 

“I wish to give a word of thanks to all town staff and employees,” said Town Manager Don Willard. “We have continued to provide services, working remotely from home, and everyone has been very happy to do so. The Town’s Select Board has been supportive and right there with us. We have all worked very well together and have done so under unusual circumstances.”

Working together includes the collaborative efforts with the town’s patrons to ensure a certain level of safety as their doors open to the public. < 

Raymond banners pay tribute to town’s graduating seniors 

It was a year like no other in history for high school students this year, but a kind gesture has lifted spirits and inspired some lasting memories for 49 graduating seniors from the Town of Raymond. 

Starting on the weekend following graduation, motorists driving through town on Route 302 found individual banners containing the names of all 49 of the town’s graduating seniors affixed to light posts throughout Raymond.

During a recent Raymond Select Board meeting, a proposal was made to do something different this year to recognize graduates from the town after traditional rites of passage for graduating seniors such as the Senior Prom and the annual commencement ceremony were scrapped as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We felt these graduates needed something after everything that’s happened in the past few months because of the coronavirus,” said Teresa Sadak of the Raymond Select Board. “And we wanted it to be for all graduating seniors from our town and not just those who graduated from Windham High School. We first looked at having signs made, but signs seemed rather ordinary. The banners were a better idea and the select board members agreed.”

In all, the town had 51 sturdy vinyl banners produced by Time4Printing in Windham, with the two additional signs saluting the Class of 2020 placed on utility poles on Route 302 near the town lines with Casco and Windham entering Raymond.

Names of the graduates were confirmed by town officials and then double-checked to ensure that they were spelled properly prior to the production process. It only took Time4Printing employees about week to create the banners and then give them to the town to be unfurled on graduation weekend. 

“These young people are indeed our future and they have worked 12 or 13 years to reach this point in school,” Sadak said. “It’s just a shame that they had to go through this and miss so many school activities before their graduation. This small gesture by the town is intended to show them that we have noticed all of their hard work to get to where they are today, and we wanted to honor and recognize them with something they would always remember.” <

JULY

Peaceful protest inspires education and awareness on social justice 

Over 100 area residents came out to participate in a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest held in Windham on June 25, walking from the Windham High School to the Windham Public Safety Building along Route 202 and back with a 15- to 20-minute opportunity for expressions on social justice. 

The event was organized by Zach DeFosse and Celine Baker, both 2017 WHS graduates. Their main goal was to educate and inspire awareness surrounding the current social justice concerns – and to do so without violence.

“Throughout the process of planning our protest, Zach and I agreed that our intention was to educate and bring awareness,” Baker said. “Neither Zach or I wanted any harm, destruction, or violence to come of our protest and thankfully everyone that attended helped us achieve that goal.”

DeFosse, who is concerned about social justice, was inspired to create this event after he attended the peaceful protest in Gorham.

“I was, and still am, deeply disturbed at the recent events happening in this country, especially after such a long history of racism that still exists today,” DeFosse said. “I had attended a peaceful protest in Gorham that went very smoothly, and I wanted something like that to take place in Windham as well. Since no one else seemed to be stepping up to do something here, I decided I would take it on myself. I reached out to Celine, who is an event planner, to help me make it actually happen.”

Others had a moment to express their thoughts including Portland author Abdi Nor Iftin who was invited to attend and speak at the event. He shared his story on social justice as an immigrant and then asked:

“Where do we start with social justice? We read, we write, we walk, we talk.” <

 

Voters approve RSU 14 school budget, establish candidate field for general election 

In-person turnout was light for the Maine State Primary in both Windham and Raymond, but nevertheless, important and significant issues were decided at the polls by voters Tuesday, July 14.  

Linda Morell, Windham Town Clerk, oversaw voting in Windham’s District 24 and District 25 at Windham High School and the counting of absentee ballots, which saw a record number requested this election cycle because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morell said that during a typical election, about 500 absentee ballots are requested from the town’s Registrar of Voters, but more than 2,700 voters chose to vote by the absentee option this time. Storms and heavy rain in the area may have also kept some voters away from the polling place. 

“Voting has been light here at Windham High School, but we always strive to handle each election with the utmost integrity for all voters,” Morrell said. 

Both Morrell and Raymond Town Clerk Sue Look spent weeks leading up to the primary making sure that voting machines were operational and that every voter that requested an absentee ballot received one in a timely fashion.      

On the Raymond ballot, incumbent Select Board members Samuel Gifford and Lawrence A. Taylor III ran unopposed for reelection Tuesday for the three-year terms. Gilford received 799 votes and Taylor tallied 757 votes. 

Voters in Raymond also were asked to select individuals by write-in for two different three-year seats on the town’s Budget-Finance Committee. Two incumbents serving on that board, Dana Desjardins and Crystal Rogers, did not choose to run for reelection and no other candidates filed at the deadline to run for those positions.

Look said that Joe Bruno, who already is a member of the Budget-Finance Committee, received the highest number of write-in votes with six. Kaela Gonzalez, who is already a town employee received four write-in votes. < 

Windham marijuana ordinance in full swing 

The approved town ordinance on the sale of Recreational Adult-Use and Medical Marijuana Storefront facilities as well as business and personal marijuana outdoor cultivation that was voted on, approved, and adopted by the Windham Town Council on May 26 officially took effect on Friday, June 26. 

The deadline, however, for business applications occurred July 27 and will be forwarded in a month to the Windham Town Council for consideration. A special Windham Town Council meeting will be called on the first or second week of September to review and address the applications. 

A four- to five-year process in the making, the Town of Windham has considered this new business and perhaps controversial model for a while. All the while, the town itself has seen retail marijuana storefronts increase to the present number of nine businesses. Some see this as economic development while others view this as a moral or youth-based use issue. Whatever the case may be, the Windham Town Council has diligently considered both perspectives in the past four years. 

“Marijuana vendors began to build their businesses in 2016-2017,” said current Town Council Chair, Jarrod Maxfield. “Council members at that time – along with the Windham delegation, toured the facilities that were established. The vendors built their businesses immediately following the vote to approve medical marijuana at a time when there were no state regulations.” 

“The fees will go toward substance use education and prevention, but the parameters and specifics have yet to be determined,” said Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts. “The town council will discuss and consider these factors in the near future.”

Town Council Chair Maxfield said that the intention of the ordinance is to limit storefronts to a total of two adult-use and four medical storefronts. 

“Currently, there are nine storefronts,” said Maxfield. “These storefronts are grandfathered in.  When a marijuana business decides to close, it will not be replaced. At this point – there will only be a total of six marijuana businesses in Windham – limited to two recreational adult use and four medical marijuana storefronts.”

“Neither side, for or against, is happy with the ordinance outcome,” Maxfield said.

“But for me, this is a positive thing. That indicates to me the Council found a middle of the road answer while regulating and putting some control on the expansion of the marijuana industry in our town while at the same time addressing the concerns of Windham residents who believe we have too many marijuana businesses in a such a small town.” <

AUGUST

Windham TV returns to airwaves and moving to Channel 5

One of the few stations on cable television where Windham residents can find true diversity of opinion, civic engagement, entertainment, children’s programming and spirited community dialogue and discussion is back on the air and looking to become a favorite once again among local viewers.

Windham TV, formerly known as WCCG TV-7, resumed broadcasting in July after being on hiatus since March because of COVID-19 restrictions and technical issues. As the home of long running popular programs such as “Speak Out,” hosted by Representative Patrick Corey, the public access channel had been moved from its traditional site on Channel 7 by Spectrum to Channel 1303 in 2017 but is now being dual-illuminated on Channel 7 while awaiting a permanent move to Channel 5.   

Last year a Maine law was upheld by a federal judge that requires cable television providers to relocate public access channels to their former low-channel positions to make them easier for area viewers to find.

“Our viewers will still be able to find Windham Town Council meetings, Windham Planning Board meetings, RSU 14 meetings and Windham Zoning Board meetings on our broadcasts,” said Brad Saucier, Windham TV program manager. “But want everyone to know that our programming is so much more than merely local meeting coverage.”

Saucier has been working for the public access Windham TV station for the past 18 years and says that the channel’s main programming runs 18 hours each day with a continuously-running Community Bulletin Board filling the overnight hours. <

RSU 14 proposes hybrid plan for school reopening

In the wake of COVID-19 restrictions, RSU 14 Schools Superintendent Christopher Howell has recommended that the school district adopt a hybrid model for the start of the school year for students in Windham and Raymond.

In a Zoom presentation made to the RSU 14 Board of Directors on Aug. 5, Howell proposed starting in-person instruction for students in Grades 1 to 9 on Sept. 1, with students in Grade 10 through 12 starting in-person classes on Sept. 2.

Using the hybrid model, students would be grouped alphabetically with last names from A to K having in-person classes in school on Mondays and Wednesdays and those with last names from L to Z attending in-person classes in school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On the days when students are not in school, they will be following up online with their teachers to the best extent possible,

Howell told the board that making the decision about proposing a hybrid model was not easy and took into account that Maine Center for Disease Control health restrictions limiting the number students on school buses to 26 and no more than 50 students in a group factored in this decision. Typically, about 60 students are transported aboard each bus for the trip to school.

“When the state announced its model for reopening schools, it was released prior to health considerations issued by the Maine CDC,” Howell said.   

On July 31, Maine’s Department of Education recommended that all school districts in the state could reopen for in-person instruction if health and safety guidelines were adhered to.  <

Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub to open in Windham

The owners of a popular Westbrook restaurant will open a second location in Windham in the fall. Dan Drouin, who operates the Stockhouse Restaurant & Sports Pub in Westbrook, hopes the new location will be open by sometime in October.

Drouin and his wife, Jennifer, will operate the new location under a slightly different name, and with a different slant. Instead of a sports pub theme, Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub is intended to highlight its location in the Lakes Region, having a little fun with the theme to create a “lake vibe,” Drouin said.

Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub will go into the space formerly occupied by Buck’s Naked BBQ, which closed in late May after indoor dining was delayed in Maine due to the pandemic. Drouin said he is leasing the space, with an agreement to purchase down the road. “It probably wouldn’t be an easy venture right now as a restaurant to purchase a building,” he said.

The new restaurant will employ between 25 and 30 people.  Drouin said that the current permit allows for 130 seats inside, though during COVID restrictions there will be less indoor seating.

“We’ll lose anything I can’t socially distance,” he said, estimating that they would end up with about 75 seats indoors.

According to Drouin, there are 20 seats outside on the deck and he is also asking for the permit to be extended to the front porch, which would offer approximately 20 additional outdoor seats.

He said if they can get on the agenda for the next Windham Town Council meeting on Sept. 8, they   Either way, he said, the restaurant should be open by Nov. 1 and he hopes to open early in October.

“I can’t think that we would not be open by then,” Drouin said.

Drouin has looked at other locations for a second restaurant in the past few years, he said. He chose the space in Windham because he liked the building and enjoys the community. Drouin lives on the Windham/Standish line off White’s Bridge Road. <

SEPTEMBER

Windham awards two retail marijuana licenses at special town council meeting

Capping a long application process and review, the Windham Town Council awarded two adult marijuana retail licenses at a special council meeting on Sept. 15.

Following a two-hour discussion and lengthy examination of seven different applications and a council vote to clarify the term “retail” as outlined in Windham’s marijuana ordinance, councilors scored each application based upon operational plan, security measures, safety, experience, product handling, any violations on record and other specific criteria.  The top two businesses scoring the highest, Paul’s Boutique and CannaRX Windham RSL, were then awarded provisional one-year retail licenses pending verification of the collection of sales taxes in other communities.

Before any scoring was unveiled, Councilor Clayton Haskell said he would abstain from voting or scoring applicants. 

Prior to scoring each application for the adult-use licenses, each applicant was given three minutes on Zoom to present their last-minute arguments for why they should be awarded a license by the council

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said that each application was well over 100 pages and that the review process was extensive and time consuming.

“Hours were spent reading through them,” Tibbetts said. “Councilors spent more than two days reading applications and I want the public to know that a tremendous amount of work and effort went into getting us to this point tonight.”

In October the license for Windham RSL CannaRX was called into question. During a public hearing, Councilors Jarrod Maxfield, David Nadeau, Nicholas Kalogerakis and David Douglass voted 4-0 for a finding of fact that without the submission of a master lease or sublease in the application of Windham RSL, the original vote on Sept. 15 was rescinded and the next highest finisher in their adult-use marijuana retail license scoring system, JAR Cannabis Co., should be awarded the license instead. <

Raymond Elementary School adds new outdoor classrooms 

Going back to school looks different this fall across the entire country. For Raymond Elementary School students, this year’s “back to school” means adjusting to a hybrid schedule of attending school two days a week, wearing face coverings, and utilizing three new outdoor classrooms.

In an email to parents in late August, Raymond Elementary School Principal Beth Peavey announced the creation of three beautiful outdoor classrooms along the school’s popular Frog Pond trail. 

Set along the banks of Frog Pond, these new outdoor classrooms feature semicircles of socially distanced wooden benches made from large tree stumps interspersed with maple saplings and granite boulders.

“It’s such a beautiful spot, and I’m such a firm believer that kids should be learning from experience and being outdoors,” said Raymond parent Kaitlin LaCasse, who spearheaded the movement toward creating an outdoor classroom at the school.

Well before COVID-19 entered our vocabulary, LaCasse attended a lecture by Richard Louv, journalist and author of the national bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Louv is now leading a national charge to get students back outdoors.

It’s so important for our whole wellbeing to be outside more,” LaCasse said. “And you can’t assume just because we’re in a rural area that kids are getting outside.”

LaCasse approached Raymond Elementary School in the fall of 2019 to ask about the possibility of constructing an outdoor classroom. As part of her research, LaCasse visited several outdoor classrooms across the state, sent a survey to the RES staff asking what teachers would like to see in an outdoor space, and met with the school board.

When the project was approved, local scout Brogan Danzig volunteered to build a free-standing outdoor classroom with a roof, floor, and benches as his Eagle Scout Project. <

Raymond seeks feedback as initial RSU 14 withdrawal proposal approved 

In May 2018, Raymond resident Teresa Sadak began circulating a petition among the town’s registered voters to begin a process to withdraw from RSU14. She collected 353 signatures and presented those signatures and the petition to the Raymond Select Board on June 19 of that same year. The select board voted to accept the request and move forward on the withdrawal effort at that time. 

In early September, the Maine Department of Education gave its initial approval to Raymond for its withdrawal plan, which now moves forward to a process of public hearings and workshops prior to a town referendum vote on the issue on the November ballot. 

“I have been very concerned about Raymond’s level of input and the lack of local control we have had regarding the school district’s decisions,” said Sadak, who is also a member of the Raymond Select Board. “When the new Windham Public Works Building was voted on two years ago and is now newly built, we as members of the RSU were not given a say on how that would increase Raymond’s school funding. Additionally, Jordan-Small has plenty of space to share with Windham students and the RSU is not making use of space available to them. Instead, they are placing portable buildings to address overcrowding in the Windham schools which increases tax revenue. These are my concerns and I think it is time to be self-sufficient, having control over our own schools.”

Sadak’s petition was the first step in a 22-step process required by the State of Maine’s Department of Education. All municipalities must adhere to this process as part of a withdrawal from a regional school unit or school administrative district.  

After about two years of meetings with direction from Educational Consultant, Dr. Mark Eastman and Town Attorney Dan Stockford, members of the RSU Withdrawal Committee are ready for step number 17. 

Under the proposed withdrawal plan, Raymond, which first consolidated with Windham schools in 2008, would form a new school board, hire a superintendent and administer Raymond Elementary School and Jordan-Small Middle School. Raymond students could choose the high school they want to attend if the new high school district is able to accept the new Raymond district’s tuition payment. Right now, a total of more than 80 percent of high school students in Raymond are attending Windham High School.      

The 18th step will take place during the Nov. 3 general election which will provide Raymond residents with the opportunity to vote for or against the RSU 14 withdrawal. < 

OCTOBER

Windham responds to community regarding Lowell Preserve and clarifies misunderstandings 

The Town of Windham Parks and Recreation Department hopes to correct the misperceptions that were the result of a Facebook post written on Wednesday, Oct. 7. In that post, the department was looking for information about who built a bridge over a small stream at Lowell Preserve.

If you were involved with constructing this bridge and/or attempting to create trails in Lowell Preserve, or if you have any information about those who were, please contact Windham Parks and Recreation,” is a portion of the post written.

The response from the community were many and often comprised of misapprehensions. They included a variety of concerns with more popular comments stating the department did not express gratitude for the person who built the bridge, or the supplies donated. But Linda Brooks, Director of Windham Parks and Recreation said they are always appreciative of any help they receive.

“We are most grateful for any assistance individuals or groups are willing to provide and will often provide supplies or materials for any larger projects that need to be accomplished,” Brooks said. “In the past few years, we have worked with several entities to assist us in maintaining or improving our trail network, including local scout groups, civic organizations, church groups, trail groups and trail enthusiasts. We are grateful to be working with Boy Scout Troop 51 on a Community Service project scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 17.”< 

Postal worker wraps up 35-year career in Windham

For nearly 35 years Kerry Dyer has worn the uniform of the U.S. Postal Service and during that span he estimates that he’s handled more than a million pieces of mail.

Dyer, 65, has spent all but about one month of his postal career working for the Windham Post Office and is a familiar face behind the counter, checking in packages for delivery and selling books of stamps to longtime residents and customers, but he has decided to retire and his last day on the job was Oct. 1.

His first day as a postal worker was Jan. 2, 1986 and Dyer, a resident of Standish, said he remembers it like it was yesterday.

“I knew people who worked here at the time and they told me about an opening,” he said. “I applied and got the job.”

After several months of processing and sorting mail, Dyer started as a substitute rural carrier and that led to a permanent position as a rural carrier delivering mail to much of the outlying areas of Windham for more than 10 years.

But after sustaining an injury, he returned to work at the Windham Post Office and was assigned to the front counter, where he has greeted thousands of customers through the years.

“I certainly will miss the people, serving the customers and most of all, my co-workers,” Dyer said.

The only time he worked anywhere else for the U.S. Postal Service other than in Windham was a month-long stint at the New Gloucester Post Office about five years ago.  He graduated from Bonny Eagle High School and attended the University of Maine at Orono before choosing to pursue a career as a postman.  

Married to his wife, Denise, and the father of two grown sons, Dyer said he has definite plans on how to spend his retirement.< 

Windham finds new life for repurposed town vehicles

The typical knock regarding municipalities in Maine is that they’re not often frugal stewards of public spending, yet the town of Windham aims to alter that perception with a program that repurposes older serviceable town vehicles.

An example of that frugality are two low-mileage Ford Explorers, a 2017 and a 2016, that had been used by the Windham Police Department that have been transferred for use by the Windham Assessors Office.

Instead of soliciting bids to purchase new vehicles for the town’s Assessors Office, Windham retained the older police vehicles and reassigned them for use by the assessing office staff, saving the taxpayers the expense of buying new vehicles for them. 

“We rotate vehicles through the departments as newer ones come on line,” said Barry A. Tibbetts, Windham Town Manager. “In the police department we usually rotate two new vehicles in per year and those coming off the front-line service 24/7 are repurposed to another department that may need a vehicle.”

Tibbetts said that the latest rotation saw two former police cars rewrapped with a new design scheme and then moved to the Windham Assessing Department in the past few weeks for continued use.

“The wrap for the vehicle is much less expensive than a new paint application,” Tibbetts said.

According to Tibbetts, the repurposed vehicle is clearly identified as a Windham Assessing vehicle for home and site inspections.

“Prior to this we often had staff indicating residents thought it was a police vehicle coming to visit,” he said. “This wrap on the vehicle allows for much better identification of staff in the assessing office.”

The Windham Assessor's Office is responsible for the valuation of all taxable property in Windham, both real estate and personal property. It is also a center of information for property owners, title companies, real estate brokers and appraisers, attorneys, and other departments and agencies in the community.

The Assessors’ Office maintains historical information as well as current data about properties such as ownership, deeds, inventories of land and structures, property characteristics, and town maps. The office also administers any property tax exemption programs enacted by the Maine Legislature such as veterans, blind, and homestead exemptions. <

NOVEMBER

Windham Historical Society relocates storied Old Grocery museum

Windham’s landmark Old Grocery museum has a new address. For the second time in its 182-plus year history, the wood frame structure, adorned with historic ornaments, one of Windham’s oldest commercial buildings, was plucked from its granite stone foundation on the southwest corner of route 202 and Windham Center Road and moved north about 1,000 feet, presumably to its last neighborhood inside the Windham Historical Society’s Village Green history park.

The process of transporting the 36-foot by 20-foot building involved the use of steel I-beams and wheels. “We literally built a trailer under (the building),” said Cole Watson, who coordinated the move. The procedure took about two hours with minimal interruption of traffic.

Preparations began weeks before the move. Builder Dave Johnson said logistics, permits and site work (including the frost wall at the Village Green site) seemed never-ending. He is credited by everyone involved with the move as performing with extraordinary foresight and workmanship. Fragile antiquities were packed and removed from the building; unbreakable items remained inside and moved with the building to the history park.

The move has been in the making for a long time. Windham Historical Society President Sue Simonson says traffic and congestion prompted the decision to relocate the building.

An attached shed, or annex, which was not part of the original structure, did not travel with the museum, but instead was razed several days ago due to its deteriorating condition. The annex had housed the town’s historic horse-drawn hearse (dating back to the late 19th century) which was moved to the Village Green. 

The cost of the building’s relocation, one of the most ambitious Windham Historical Society projects in recent history, exceeded $40,000. That was not an amount, according to Simonson, for which the non-profit could just write a check. It was the result of fundraising.

“One of our wonderful members, Dorothy Samuelson, came forward and offered to head the fundraising project,” Simonson said. “Her love and enthusiasm for history, the society and this building is just what we needed. She raised (the money) from generous individuals from our community.”

The vacant lot at Windham Center is owned by the historical society. Its Board of Directors has indicated no use for the space and will probably sell it.  <

Windham’s famed ‘Tuskegee Airman’ a genuine champion for equality

As a trailblazing member of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, Fred Williams of Windham wasn’t content to let racism stop him from achieving his dreams. As the first black attorney to ever practice law in Maine, a former Windham Town Council member, a Baptist minister and a law professor at Saint Joseph’s College, Williams continued to shatter stereotypes right up until his death last weekend at the age of 98.

Born in 1922, Williams dreamed of someday attending flight school and was the first member of his family to ever be issued a birth certificate. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps upon graduation from high school in New York City, but because of the enforced segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces at that time, Williams was assigned as a cadet in a new pilot training program for African Americans at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Nearly 1.000 black pilots and about 15,000 black air support personnel trained in the program and became known as the Tuskegee Airmen, the only black pilots to fly combat missions during World War II. They flew more than 15,000 individual missions in North Africa and Europe during the war, earning more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses for valor and paving the way for the eventual intergration of the U.S. military.    

"I wanted to be in a bomber, especially a B-17,” Williams told members of Windham’s American Legion Field-Allen Post and VFW Post 10643 during a memorable visit with local veterans at the Windham Veterans Center in 2017. “It was hell getting in, but we were proud.”

Williams told the audience how the Tuskegee Airmen never saw their race as an impediment or barrier to defending their nation in wartime.

Williams was recalled to military service for the Korean War and then returned to New York City once he was discharged, where he studied and earned degrees from the City College of New York and the New York Law School. He also worked as a U.S. Federal Treasury Department agent.

Moving to Maine, he passed the bar exam and in doing so, Williams became the first black lawyer ever in the state in 1969, beginning first as an attorney for Casco Bank and then going on to launch his own private practice. Later he served as the president of the Bar Association for the State of Maine.

Making his home for decades in Windham with his wife, Laura, and their four sons, he was elected to serve on the Windham Town Council in 1971 and also was a proud member of the Windham Lions Club, where he eventually served as a district governor for the Lions International organization.

Williams is survived by his four sons and their wives including Manuel (Jill), Fredrick, II (Roxanne), Keith (Arlene), and Kenneth Williams; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. His wife Laura passed away in 1988. <

Voters make preferences known during general election

Significant choices made by voters during the Nov. 3 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.      

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. < 

DECEMBER 

Windham delegation announces traffic signal delay for Route 202, Falmouth Road intersection

AUGUSTA – Windham’s legislative delegation has announced a delay of the installment of a traffic signal at the intersection of Route 202 and Falmouth Road in Windham, previously scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31.

The delay comes after a contractor installed inadequate components, which now must be replaced. The project’s new completion date is set for Feb. 1, 2021.

The intersection has been designated as a high-crash location by the Maine Department of Transportation. This means that over a three-year period, the intersection had eight or more crashes and a higher rate of crashes than similar locations across the state.

“I’m disappointed that there has been another delay, but it’s critical that the improvements we make to this intersection meet our high standards,” said Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham. “As senate chair of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, I know how critical it is that we have safe, working roadways. This traffic light will go a long way to ensuring the safe flow of traffic.”

State Rep Mark Bryant, D-Windham agreed.

“Although the delayed construction at the Windham intersection is unfortunate, it is a testament to the Department of Transportation’s commitment to quality work and dedication to keeping us all safe on the roads,” Bryant said. “I’m grateful for DOT’s thorough work and look forward to seeing the final product and continued modernization of Maine's traffic systems.” < 

Windham Chamber Singers adapt to digital holiday performance

It wasn’t easy to shift from performing their popular “An American Family Holiday” Christmas concert live to streaming a You Tube event, but the Windham Chamber Singers are pleased with the result.

 

In early October, ongoing pandemic restrictions Chamber Singers Director Dr. Richard Nickerson announced the change with the first performance available online Dec. 5.

 

To many in the community, "An American Family Holiday," is a traditional Windham Chamber Singers event that happens every year featuring various holiday songs and guest stars in the Windham High School auditorium. But the pandemic couldn’t stop that yearly tradition, it just led to the concert being performed digitally. And for this year, the concert was renamed "A Maine Family Holiday" to celebrate Maine's bicentennial celebration.

 

To pull it off, each student filmed their part separately, and then sent the file to Nickerson to splice them all together.

 

During the hour-long video, host Kim Block showcased the Windham Chamber Singers along with special guests John Cariani, Con Fullam, and our own U.S. Senator, Angus King. For musical accompaniments, the Chamber Singers were joined with Daniel Strange and his wife Ashley Liberty, Robyn Hurder and Clyde Alves, Travis James Humphrey, and some former WHS Chamber Singers that lent their voices to the concert. Even the beautiful dancers at Maine State Ballet were included making for a gorgeous show for us at home.

 

According to Nickerson, all around, it was an amazing performance and a wonderful job of everyone who was involved and added their talents and stories.


With the holiday concert serving as the Windham Chamber Singers only fundraiser for the whole year, things were a bit different with the introduction of an entirely free video on the internet. <

 

Windham draft of Open Space Master Plan unveiled 

A draft of the Windham Open Space Master Plan was completed and was made available on www.windhamopenspace.com for public comment.

 A series of videos that summarize the plan and three specific policy areas are now available on the website along with the draft plan.   

The plan’s Executive Summary says, “Windham is fortunate to have acquired over time, a large network of open space properties that have become significant assets to the community. This Open Space Master Plan highlights the importance of these assets to the community for both the recreational and environmental benefits, while also serving as a guide for the management and enhancement of the open space network in Windham.” 

According to Windham Planning Director Amanda L. Lessard, part of the motivation for the Open Space Master Plan was concern about preserving Windham’s rural places.  

“There was a lot of concern about development happening in rural areas…the plan focuses a bit on these rural protection areas and what the town should be doing in those areas,” she said. 

In June, Lessard discussed the specific importance of rural areas to Windham in general during an interview with The Windham Eagle newspaper.

“Rural character is central to Windham’s identity as a community. Being proactive about open space in the face of strong residential growth pressures will help preserve community character and ensure that Windham’s most important open spaces will remain available for future Windham residents,” she said.

Thinking about how to best manage and develop Windham’s current open spaces will add value for today’s residents, Lessard said. <