Showing posts with label Polar Dip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Polar Dip. Show all posts

Friday, April 19, 2024

Late-season Polar Dip raises $5K for Sebago Lakes Chamber's 'Feed the Need' Program

By Masha Yurkevich

About three months behind schedule, Polar Dip participants of the annual Polar Dip rushed into 38-degree water at Raymond Beach, all for a great cause.

Seven participants take the plunge during the annual Sebago
Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce's Polar Dip at
Raymond Beach on Saturday, April 13. Funds raised
benefit 'Feed the Need,' a program that supports food
pantries in the Lakes Region.
Sponsored by Maine State Credit Union, the event is typically held in February at Raymond Beach where a hole is cut in the ice and participants jump into the water from the edge of the hole. But this year the Sebago Lake ice wasn't thick enough for participants to safely hold people in February, so the decision was made to postpone it until April when all the ice was completely melted.

As a result, instead of jumping in, participants would run in from the beach, said Robin Mullins, President and CEO of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.

The Polar Dip previously was around for many years as part of the Sebago Lake Rotary's Ice Fishing Derby. The Maine Children's Cancer Network was the benefactor of the Polar Dip for many years. The chamber took over the Polar Dip portion in 2021.

“In 2020, I was approached by my fellow Sebago Lake Rotarian, George Bartlett,” says Mullins. “He was a huge proponent of the ‘dip’ and wanted to bring it back as part of the 2021 Ice Fishing Derby, and he wanted to know if I would help. I immediately said I would and asked if the proceeds could benefit the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Charitable Trust, or what we call ’Feed the Need.’ Food insecurity is a concern in the region and the ‘trust’ was started in 2016 to address that need.”

February 2021 was the first time the chamber hosted the Polar Dip as part of the Ice Fishing Derby. Mullins said it was a great opportunity during the pandemic to plan a fun, outdoor activity in partnership with the Sebago Lake Rotary Club while helping to alleviate hunger in the Sebago Lake Region.

“Participants of the Polar Dip get pledges,” says Mullins. “And 100 percent goes directly to Feed the Need. We partner with the town of Raymond and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department. They provide assistance in traffic control, onsite emergency personnel, and divers in wetsuits who stay in the water to ensure participant safety.

Participants of the Polar Dip can be any age, young or old and everyone in between, who wants to brave the cold and raise money to help alleviate food insecurity.

“We did have several teams who were signed up in February who could not make it on April 13,” says Mullins. “We have learned the start of April vacation is not the best time for the Polar Dip.”

So, while participant numbers were down slightly this year, Mullins decided at 7 p.m. on Friday night, just 16 hours before the event, that she herself, for the first time, would take the plunge if she could get her family and friends to donate $250 on her behalf.

“Not only did I meet the $250 goal,” says Mullins, “but thanks to my Lakes Region BNI group, the Sebago Lake Rotary, members of the chamber board and a few of my fellow Windham High School 1986 graduates, I crushed it, bringing in an amazing $1,450.”

Because of the lack of ice in April, instead of jumping in, participants would run in from the beach.

The event brought in just over $5,000 from the eight participants, which included Mullins, two people from the Town of Standish, Dr. Mark Wasowski of Windham Chiropractic, a representative from Gorham Savings Bank, two representatives from Maine State Credit Union and a representative from Camp Skylemar.

Mullins said the $5,000 raised will be added to the $13,000 that has been raised over the last year and checks will be going out soon to the 12 food pantries in the Lakes Region including those in the towns of Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham.

“A huge thank you to our participants, our volunteers and sponsors from Maine State Credit Union, Raymond Fire and Rescue, the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department, and Richie Vraux and Jonathan Priest from the chamber board,” Mullins said.

Pledges and donations can still be made. Please visit the chamber website at for more details.

“Sadly, we lost our great community partner George Bartlett last year,” said Mullins. “In his honor, we will be renaming the dip to the George Bartlett Memorial Sebago Lake Polar Dip. He loved the Polar Dip and poured his heart and soul into it.”

The date for next year’s Polar Dip is set for Sunday, Feb. 16, 2025, at Tassel Top Beach in Raymond. <

Friday, March 24, 2023

Windham third grader’s fundraiser makes big difference for community

By Matt Pascarella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Windham Town Councilor Jarrod Maxfield agrees.

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

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

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

Friday, February 24, 2023

Polar Dip participants plunge into Sebago Lake

By Ed Pierce

It takes a special mentality to fully appreciate the benefits of diving into 33-degree water, but more than three dozen individuals tried it out last Saturday when they plunged into chilly Sebago Lake as part of the annual Polar Dip off Raymond Beach.

A team from Hannaford Supermarket in Standish braves the
icy waters of Sebago Lake during the Polar Dip fundraiser
to benefit food pantries across the Lakes Region on Feb. 18
near Raymond Beach. More than $5,000 was raised by
participants at the event. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE   
Sponsored by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the popular event is the largest fundraiser staged every year for “Feed the Need,” an initiative that donates to 12 different food pantries in the Lakes Region of Maine.

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

“It’s really freezing,” said Abigail Cormier, 15, a student at Bonny Eagle High School. “I expected where we jumped in to be deeper, but the water was unbelievably cold.”

Cormier, a sophomore, was part of a team of students called the “Mother Teresa Club” which leaped into Sebago Lake on Saturday after hearing about the event from members of the school’s Key Club.

Chamber organizers had put out the word earlier this month seeking student teams to participate and the group of jumpers on Saturday included two different teams from Windham High School.

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

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

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

“Saturday was certainly eventful. Usually, we can all go out to the hole and watch the jumpers and the heated trailers are right there to change in,” said Robin Mullins, executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. “Not this year. I had to walk each team out individually to keep the weight on the ice low.”

Mullins said the Polar Dip typically has one or two Cumberland County Sherriff’s deputies from the dive team suited up in case of an emergency, but this year there were two from deputies and two from the Raymond Fire Department.

“The ice did break up a bit, but it managed to stay together enough to get all 10 teams, or 35 jumpers, into the water,” Mullins said. “The good thing was the water was only about 3 feet deep, so if anyone went in unexpectedly it wasn't too deep.”

Mullins says that preliminary figures from the event show that it raised $5,000 for Fed the Need.

“The word that comes to mind for me this year is community. The Sebago Lake Polar Dip raises money for the Sebago Lake Region Charitable Trust or what we call Feed the Need,” she said. “The trust donates money annually to the 12 food pantries in Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham.”

According to Mullins, this is the third year that the chamber has conducted the Polar Dip and up until this year, it’s usually the same organizations participating.

“This year the Mental Health Advocacy Club from Windham High School challenged other clubs at WHS as well as the other high schools in our region, Gray New Gloucester, Lake Region, and Bonny Eagle,” she said. “The WHS Student Council and the Bonny Eagle Key Club both stepped up to meet that challenge. It was so good to see the friendly competition from our young residents for such a great cause. Food insecurity is real and it is an issue even in our region.”

This year’s Polar Dip included teams from Hannaford Supermarket in Standish, the Optimist Club in Gray-New Gloucester, Bangor Savings Bank in Windham, a family from Gray, Team Poulin, Busy Bee Laundry in Windham, Terry Stackhouse from WMTW, and the highest fundraising team from Alchemy Chiropractic office in Falmouth.

“How appropriate that our Signature Sponsor this year was Maine Community Bank. We’re so grateful for their continued support of the chamber,” Mullins said. “A huge thank you to George Bartlett and David Mair from Busy Bee Laundry and Nathan White and his team from the Town of Raymond for all the help with set-up and take down of the event. Lastly, the crews from Cumberland and Raymond Fire and Rescue were amazing. It is all thanks to them that all of the jumpers were able to take the plunge safely.” <

Friday, February 17, 2023

Polar Dip participants prepare for leap into Sebago Lake


By Ed Pierce

Determined ice fishing enthusiasts will have to alter their plans some, but the Cumberland County Ice Fishing Derby remains on after officials canceled the Sebago Lake portion of the event because of unsafe ice conditions earlier this week.

Jason Abildgaard of Raymond Public Works uses a chain saw
to cut through the ice on Sebago Lake in preparation for
Saturday's Polar Dip event sponsored by the Sebago Lakes
Region Chamber of Commerce to raise money for area
food pantries. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
With a Grand Prize of $5,000 available, the annual event, sponsored by the Sebago Lake Rotary Club, has grown through the years to become one of the most popular fishing derbies in Maine each winter. Milder temperatures this year have left Sebago Lake ice thinner than usual with the currently ice depth stands between just 4 and 6 inches.

With thousands expected to be out fishing on Sebago Lake this weekend, derby officials could not ensure participant safety and recommended fishermen and families find other nearby lakes with thicker ice as part of the Cumberland County Ice Fishing Derby.

One big event that will still take place on Sebago Lake on Saturday is the Polar Dip, sponsored by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce as a fundraiser for food pantries throughout the Lakes Region.

The Polar Dip currently has about 16 teams of jumpers confirmed for Saturday and about 35 people total lined up so far to dive into Sebago Lake. The jumpers will be diving into an 8- by 30-foot hole cut into the ice about 300 feet off Raymond Beach starting at noon Saturday.

George Bartlett, who heads up the staging for the Polar Dip every February, said that the lack of ice has moved the event closer to the shoreline this time.

“The temperature on Friday night is expected to get down to about 10 degrees,” Bartlett said. “If we are at about 4 inches right now, with the thermometer dropping that low, we could add as much as 2 more inches of ice by Saturday morning.”

Polar Dip participants receive pledges to brave the freezing lake waters and last year more than $10,000 was raised for “Feed the Need” which provides financial assistance for food pantries in Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham.

The Cumberland County Ice Fishing Derby is in its 22nd year in 2023 and despite participants not being able to fish on Sebago Lake, the Rotary reminds everyone that there are more than 20 other lakes available in Cumberland County to fish on. The fishing derby runs Feb. 18 and Feb. 19 with hundreds of perch and pickerel fish pool prizes and community gift cards drawings up for grabs.

The Sebago Lake Rotary Club uses proceeds from the Ice Fishing Derby for charitable donations across the community throughout the year. 2023 Derby sweatshirts will be on sale this weekend at each of the weigh stations and fish collected will be sent for processing and donated to local food pantries.

Last year more than 800 participants tried their luck in fishing holes all over Sebago Lake and fishing ponds across Cumberland County. Fewer fish were caught in 2022 as fishermen mentioned the togue out of Sebago seemed to be thinner and fewer were biting.

But derby fishermen continued to donate much of what they were able to catch. Those donations were delivered to Nova Seafood in Portland for processing and then delivered to assist in feeding the homeless and those facing food insecurity.

According to Cyndy Bell of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club, the exact number and weight of fish donated from the derby was about 7,500 pounds of fish which was collected, flash-frozen and donated to food pantries in the Greater Portland area.

The credit for coming up with the idea for the annual Ice Fishing Derby is Tom Noonan, a Sebago Lake Rotary Club member, who proposed staging the contest in 2001 in cooperation with the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department.

Since then, the event has grown substantially to become the Sebago Lake Rotary Club’s largest annual fundraising initiative and has supported hundreds of charities over the past two decades, with more than $1 million donated to local causes since its inception. The derby gained additional national notoriety as one of only four fishing derbies in the United States to be featured in a television program filmed for the National Geographic Channel that aired in June 2014.<

Friday, December 31, 2021

2021: Year in Review (Part One)

Windham Police Officer Ernest MacVane received the 2021
Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award during the
Maine American legion's 102nd Annual Convention in
Brewer on Saturday, June 12. Presenting the award to
MacVane are Department of Maine American Legion
Commander Matthew Jaubaut, left, and Maine American
Legion 2nd Vice Commander Kurt Thurston. 
Recovery and rebirth for Windham and Raymond communities

Residents of the Lakes Region of Maine continued to experience the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2021 as the virus permeated through the area affecting all our lives in many unique and different ways. While experiencing everything from product shortages to a lack of job applicants and workers, residents learned to adjust to an extraordinary new reality and to realize that it will take time and a community working together to restore life to pre-pandemic norms.      

Students were physically able to return to classes in local schools following the summer break in the fall but remain under a mask mandate for health safety reasons. For many area children and their parents, being back in the classroom remains preferable to remote and distance learning options stemming from the pandemic. A field of six RSU 14 Board of Directors candidates vied in November for two available seats with both a newcomer and an incumbent being eventually elected by voters to positions on the school board.

School athletes also returned to local playing fields in the fall after a lost season in 2020 because of the pandemic and they dazzled fans with their talent and pursuit of victory in various sports. Windham High School’s varsity football team reached the Class B championship game, falling by a point, 14-13, to Marshwood at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland in November.  Windham’s varsity girls’ soccer team rolled through the season undefeated and captured the Class A state title by knocking off Brunswick, 3-1, in Waterboro. In July, Windham Little League’s softball All-Stars won the state championship and advanced to the Eastern Regional Tournament in Bristol, Connecticut before being eliminated.

Many popular events such as Windham’s annual Summerfest and the Memorial Day Parade in Windham remained significantly affected by the pandemic and scaled back events for safety and to protect public health. Summer visitors and tourists did return to the Sebago Lake area this summer, boosting local businesses and prompting optimism for the local economy moving forward.

As 2022 begins, the future is still cloudy and uncertain as variants of COVID-19 continue to emerge and hospitalizations in Maine are showing a record-pace. The distribution of effective vaccines and an emphasis on new testing techniques do show promise and inspire hope that in the coming year the threat posed by the greatest health hazard in modern memory will be relegated to the history books and a memory for generations that follow us.

But before we close the chapter permanently for 2021, here’s a quick look back at another unforgettable year filled with ups and downs unlike any of us have experienced before.

Following a thorough review of all issues of The Windham Eagle from 2021, we’ve chosen to highlight the top three stories for each month as featured in the newspaper and we wish everyone a better year ahead in 2022:


Windham teacher, Manchester School wins big in Dunkin’ sweepstakes


A Windham teacher and her school received a huge surprise when Megan Juhase-Nehez was honored as a grand prize winner in the “Dunkin’ Raise a Cup to Teachers” sweepstakes.


Juhase-Nehez, a special education teacher at Manchester School, was chosen from more than 6,000 sweepstakes nominations in Maine for Dunkin’s grand prize of $5,000, a new computer, free Dunkin’ coffee for a year, and $10 Dunkin’ gift cards for her students. Manchester School was also awarded $5,000 by Dunkin.’


The promotion asked Mainers to nominate deserving teachers in their community to help shine a light on the invaluable role they play in children’s lives both in and out of the classroom. Juhase-Nehez was nominated by Casey Melanson of Windham whose son had the teacher in her class last year.


“She is the kind of teacher that figures out what works best for each student and then adapts her teaching to them,” Melanson said about Juhase-Nehez. “She gave him the confidence to know he could do anything he put his mind to. She always has her students’ well-being in mind and encourages them to aim high.”


Overall, Juhase-Nehez has been a teacher for 13 years and has taught special education at Manchester School for three years. She says the new computer will be used by her children for remote learning sessions.

Juhase-Nehez was one of two “Dunkin’ Raise a Cup to Teachers” grand prize winners in Maine. <

Dog groomer relates story of kindness on Kelly Clarkson show

A genuine act of kindness garnered national attention for the owner of Lavish Dog Day Spa in Standish and Raymond and led to her appearance on the Kelly Clarkson television program. Caitlyn Brundage was contacted by a producer of “The Kelly Clarkson Show” about a lost stuffed puppy that a member of her staff, Bri Long, found last summer outside the business in Standish. They gave the lost stuffed animal a spa treatment before it was returned to its owner, a 7-year-old named Carter.

Carter's grandmother, Karin Hopkins Dickson, had posted a message on Facebook in the Standish Maine Community Page pleading for members to be on the lookout for Carter’s lost “Stuffy Puppy” he calls “Cheese Puff” that was last seen near a local restaurant and a barbershop in Standish. “Cheese Puff” is a small brown stuffed dog with green and blue droopy ears, a blue nose and a prominent green eye. As it turned out, the restaurant and area where “Cheese Puff” was lost is adjacent to the Lavish Dog Day Spa and it was where Long discovered Carter’s stuffed animal.

Once rescued by Lavish Dog Day Spa, the “Stuffy Puppy” was pampered by staff members as if it was a real canine complete with a bubble bath, a luxurious combing and then had a light blue bow tied around his neck. Brundage notified Carter’s mother, Kelly Perry, that “Cheese Puff” had been found and was ready to be reunited with Carter.

Once word of the act of kindness shown to “Cheese Puff” and Carter’s family by Lavish Dog Day Spa got out, members of the media thought it was a great story to tell their audiences. The story was filmed for different television segments that aired on News Center Maine, CBS This Morning and CNN. The news also reached the desks of “The Kelly Clarkson Show” producers and they inquired if the dog groomers would be interested in doing another segment for their daytime program.

“We filmed on Jan. 13, and it aired on Jan. 21,” Brundage said. “It was a Skype call from my house.”

She was not paid for being on the show but said that the segment they were featured on partnered with a company gifting $1,000, so she received $500, and the boy and his mother also received $500.

“I was pretty nervous since it is airing nationally, but I handled it well I think,” Brundage said. “I did get to practice with a producer beforehand which was very helpful. Everyone I dealt with during the experience was fantastic to work with.”

“I will obviously remember talking with Kelly Clarkson,” Brundage said. “And it was great to talk with Carter and his mom Kelly as well.”

She says appearing on the Kelly Clarkson Show was a wonderful experience and her advice for those about to appear on television coast to coast is rather simple.

“Just try to relax and enjoy the experience,” Brundage said. “It is easier said than done for sure, though.” <

Special parade salutes World War II veteran’s 98th birthday

Bob Miele of South Windham remains proud of his military service during World War II and as he celebrated his 98th birthday on Jan. 25, Miele was honored with a parade, greetings from Windham’s police chief, a gift from Windham’s American Legion post and cheers from more than three dozen friends and family members.

Drafted in the U.S. Army, Miele joined his brother Ralph in uniform and served from 1941 to 1945 in the U.S. Army’s European Theater in England, France, and Germany. He worked as a T5 Signal Corps Early Warning Radar Operator tracking enemy aircraft and German V-1 buzz bombs. 

The parade included more than 50 vehicles, police cruisers, veterans, Shriners, and fire trucks filled with well-wishers who turned out wanting to say happy birthday to Miele. The parade stretched all the way from the old Windham Fire Station to the new fire station on Route 202.

His grandson, Tim Pomerleau of Raymond, said it is the first time he can ever remember a parade in which Bob was not a participant.

“My grandfather was a Shriner Crazy Cop for many years and made Shriner trips to the circus, parades and Canada and I used to love going with him to those,” he said.

After his military service ended, Miele returned to Windham and eventually took over operation of his father’s store, Patsy’s, located directly across from the old fire station in South Windham.

“He was actually a volunteer firefighter back in those days too,” said David Tanguay, adjutant for American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham. “He lived above Patsy’s and when he heard the fire alarm go off, he got dressed and ran across the street to the fire station. He was always the first one to report for duty there.” 

His daughter, Tina Pomerleau of Falmouth, said she was surprised by the outpouring of love and support for her father as he celebrated his birthday.

“It’s just amazing,” she said. “I don’t know how it happened, but he has received almost 100 birthday cards in the mail coming from across the country too. He’s very happy today.”

Tanguay said his family kept the parade a secret from him until it was time to go outside to watch it as it drove near his condominium on Depot Street.

After the parade, Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield thanked Miele for his service to the nation and to the community and he presented him with a “Challenge Coin” and a Windham Police patch.

Schofield said he was humbled to be included in the parade and to meet Miele.

“It’s quite an honor for a living member of the Greatest Generation,” Schofield said. “This means a lot to his family and for me, it’s an honor to be a part of this.”

Tanguay also gave Miele a special “Eagle Cane” and a citation from the American Legion marking his 98th birthday.

Miele, whose wife of 53 years, Alys, died in 2016, said he was overwhelmed by all the attention for his birthday and said he remembers when annual Fourth of July parades took the same route as this one did years ago.

“This one seemed to be larger than those parades were,” he said. “I’ve never had a parade in my honor before and it feels remarkable.” <


Polar Dip plungers plummet into Sebago Lake for ‘Feed the Need’

Plunging into the icy waters of Sebago Lake in February isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but for some intrepid individuals, diving into the lake on Feb. 20 was a moment of fun they simply couldn’t pass up.

Swimmers and a crowd of volunteers gathered on Sebago Lake near Raymond Beach on Saturday for the Polar Dip, hosted by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and the Sebago Lakes Rotary Club. Proceeds from the event raised more than $5,000 to benefit “Feed the Need,” which benefits food pantries in the Sebago Lakes Region in Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish, and Windham. 

Jumping into a large rectangular hole cut into the foot-thick ice and 34-degree water, swimmers took pledges to take the plunge and one team went beyond that and took pledges for how long they could stay in the near-freezing water. 

“Although COVID-19 limited the number of jumpers we could have at this year's Polar Dip, it didn't limit the generosity or the spirit of the people in the Sebago Lakes region,” said Robin Mullins, executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. “From the Sebago Lakes Rotary, especially George Bartlett, who partnered with us on this event, to the volunteers who helped set up, to the folks who came to watch, and to the brave souls who took the plunge into the 34-degree Sebago Lake, I say, ‘Thank You’ and I feel so blessed to live and work in such a great region where people come together to help one another.”

This marked the first time that the chamber has hosted the Polar Dip and Mullins said the opportunity to stage a fun outdoor event safely during the pandemic while helping alleviate hunger in the Sebago Lakes Region made it a perfect match for the chamber.

“George Bartlett from Busy Bee Laundry in Windham is a member of the Sebago Lakes Rotary Club and wanted to bring the Polar Dip back as part of the Sebago Lakes Rotary Fishing Derby for 2021, Mullins said. “He approached me and asked if I would help. I quickly jumped at that and asked if proceeds could benefit the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber's Charitable Trust, or what we call ‘Feed The Need.’ Food insecurity in our communities is at an all-time high and the $5,000 the event brought in will go a long way in helping the 11 food pantries in Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham.”

Sam Speirs of Portland heard about the Polar Dip event through a friend and said she immediately knew that she wanted to be a jumper.

“I’ve done the Lobster Dip in Old Orchard Beach to help the Special Olympics every year, but that was done virtually this year because of COVID-19,” Speirs said. “For this, I was able to raise about $60 through pledges from my friends and that’s why I’m out here today.”

Bartlett said he was pleased to see so many people show up for a good cause and thanked participants, the chamber and everyone who helped stage the Polar Dip.

“Everything out here today was set up by volunteers and they deserve a lot of gratitude,” he said. “We had a heater for the changing tents for the jumpers donated and the tents themselves were also donated. We also are appreciative for public safety personnel who are out here today standing by to assist if needed.”

Several members of Raymond Fire and Rescue were on hand and wore thermal-insulated wet suits just in case of an emergency. Volunteer crews also directed traffic into the Raymond Beach Boat Launch off Route 302 so participants and their families could park safely.

A group of five women from South Portland calling themselves the “Even Keel Committee” wore colorful Mardi Gras costumes when they took the plunge and despite the chilly temperatures, remained in the water for 10 minutes. Members of the group said they have been swimming in the ocean throughout the winter and that was ideal experience to prepare for the Polar Dip. They actually took in pledges for how long they could stay in the lake during the event.  

Zach Conley of Raymond said he wasn’t expecting to be the final jumper of the event, but as it turned out, he was.

Conley serves as president of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and when asked to be a participant, he politely declined.

“I was asked months ago to jump in the lake, and I told them there’s no way I’m going to do that,” he said. “But they came up with some challenges for me that were hard to say no to, especially when it came to increasing the amount raised to more than $1,000. I received a text message last week that they had surpassed that amount, so here I am. I’ve never really done anything like this before but it’s for a good cause and just a few minutes of my time to help others.”

He bounced in and out of the water wearing a thermal shirt and a bathing suit and afterward said he could sum up his experience in two words.

“Really cold,” Conley said as he dried off. < 

RSU 14 staffer earns Maine’s ‘School Psychologist of the Year’ honor

For more than two decades, school psychologist Lisa Backman has devoted her career to improving the lives of RSU 14 students in Windham and Raymond. In February, all of Backman’s hard work and care paid off in a big way as the Maine Association of School Psychologists honored Backman as the Maine School Psychologist of the Year.

The award acknowledges a member of the Maine Association of School Psychologists who demonstrates excellence in school psychology practice, and leadership in the profession.

“Beyond the role of evaluators, school psychologists fill a crucial role in school communities providing consultation and collaboration in intervention systems and supporting school staff through professional development and technical assistance,” said Erin Frazier, Maine Department of Education Director of Special Services. “These individuals are critical to SAUs efforts to provide a continuum of services to all children.”

Backman has been providing psychological services to RSU 14 since 1999 and she also serves as an adjunct professor at Saint Joseph’s College.

Frazier said that Backman is a trusted professional within her school community among students, staff, and families.

“Maine Department of Education recognizes there is a critical shortage of school psychologists in the state that is long standing,” Frazier said. “These positions are critical to fulfill child find responsibilities and support effective programming for students.”

A nationally certified school psychologist, Backman is a native of Maine and has lived most of her life in the Sebago Lake Region. After attending high school, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in communication from the University of Southern Maine and then went on to obtain a master’s degree in school psychology. She works with children in kindergarten through fifth grade in Windham and Raymond schools.

Backman said that her primary role for the district involves serving as part of the special education team at Windham Primary School and Manchester School and evaluating students in kindergarten through Grade 5 for special education eligibility.

“My daily work schedule is vast, which requires a lot of flexibility. Each day is different as I could be observing in the learning environments, consulting with special and regular education teachers, developing behavioral/social-emotional intervention plans, report writing, and attending Response to Intervention or IEP meetings,” Backman said. “Ultimately, the best part is meeting one-on-one with students through the evaluation process.”

Backman said her family is thrilled to see her honored with the award.

It was very special to see them during the remote announcement while I was still at work. They are proud and loved the MASP plaque. My youngest felt it should be hung at our camp. When Windham/Raymond consolidated, I was lucky to have an opportunity to work in their schools for a few years,” she said. “While they may not be able to explain what I do every day, they could share stories like the many times I (and other school psych friends) used them to practice new tests. My fondest memory was a story a colleague/school psychologist shared with me. She was in my son’s middle-school classroom observing a student on her caseload. My son said hello to her, as she entered. The student that she was observing asked my son why she was in their classroom. He replied, ‘Oh that is my mom’s friend. She sends her in to check on me sometimes.’ We had a good laugh.”

Christopher Howell, RSU 14 Schools Superintendent, said that Backman is highly deserving of this honor.

“What’s special about the work Mrs. Backman does with students is her comprehensive approach to support,” Howell said. “She is an integral member of her school teams and can look at the whole child from the perspective of someone who really knows the evaluation data within a practical context to make recommendations to support children she works with.”

Howell said Backman exemplifies exactly what RSU 14 is striving to achieve.

“She is dedicated, efficient and committed. Lisa contributes broadly to the profession by leading student-centered teams within each of her schools, supporting best practices in Special Education for the Maine Department of Education, inspiring new teachers at the college level, and providing leadership within her professional organization of School Psychologists,” Howell said. We are very fortunate to have her level of knowledge and passion supporting the educators, families and professionals in RSU 14.” <

Developers plan brew house, restaurant for South Windham Fire Station

Ownership of the South Windham Fire Station will pass to a Gorham company who plan to redevelop the building and convert it into a new brew house and restaurant.

During the Windham Town Council’s final meeting of 2020 on Dec. 22, councilors unanimously voted to sell the old vacant fire station for $125,000 to Great Falls Construction of Gorham, owned by Jon and Cindy Smith. At the same meeting, the council awarded a contract up to $4.3 million to Great Falls Construction to renovate the Windham Police Department building and to construct a new fire station at 375 Gray Road in Windham.

Closing for the sale of the old South Main Fire Station is expected by June. Located at 8 Main St. on Route 202 near the town line with Gorham, the single-story former South Windham Fire Station sits on 0.3 acres along the Presumpscot River. It features 3,500-square feet of space, four bays, with offices and storage areas in the rear of the structure.

When the town council requested bids for the building and property in September 2020, councilors said that the desired outcome was to redevelop the former fire station “into a vibrant commercial and/or mixed-use property that will act as a catalyst in the revitalization of the South Windham Village.”

Before it was decommissioned in 2017, the South Windham Fire Station was one of four fire stations within the Windham Fire-Rescue Department. The original South Windham Fire Department was founded in 1913 and consisted of a house for storing fire hose near what is now the Little Falls Landing Retirement community. A functional hydrant system for firefighters was created using water pumped from Sebago Lake.

By 1934, the South Windham hose house had been upgraded to a larger dedicated fire house using bricks supplied by the men’s reformatory on River Road in Windham and labor from the U.S. government’s Works Progress Administration. Two years later, in 1936, that structure was heavily damaged by a fire and was reconstructed. In 1966, Windham built the four-bay regional fire station that it shared with Gorham for almost five decades before being deemed too small and unsuitable for expansion.

Great Falls Construction was one of two companies bidding to acquire the old fire station and has successfully redeveloped numerous buildings and structures in Maine, including Station Square in Gorham.

Windham Town Manager Barry A. Tibbetts told the council that the taxes that would accumulate from this parcel would go into a future TIF to be established and those funds will be used for future sidewalks, road improvements, lighting and general upgrading of infrastructure in the South Windham area. Voters had approved a bond financing the Windham Central Fire Station expansion project earlier in 2020.

In its presentation letter to the Windham Town Council, Great Falls Construction officials said the company is currently in the process of developing an 11-acre parcel in the center of Berwick, at the site of the former Prime Tanning Lot now renamed as “The Edge at Berwick” among several others it is working on in the state.

“If successful with the South Windham Fire Station redevelopment proposal, we will seek to create a suitable space for local residents to enjoy that will act as the stimulator for the revitalization of other spaces in this village center,” the presentation letter reads.

The letter goes on to say that “once the construction is complete, our commitment to quality and community fit does not stop. The same values are carried forward with our property management company, JCS Property Management. We currently own and operate over 100 commercial and residential units throughout Southern Maine.”

The Great Falls Construction presentation to Windham town councilors proposed a renovation and update of the old South Windham Fire Station facility to create a family-friendly neighborhood craft brewery and restaurant combination at that site.

“We see this property as the ideal place for families to enjoy dining and gathering while riverside and are confident in a craft brewery/restaurant’s ability to provide local skilled labor and stimulate the surrounding village’s economy to best prepare it for future vibrancy,” the presentation letter reads. “This unique property located along the river creates a pleasing spot and lends itself perfectly for a nice afternoon out to lunch or dinner with family and friends. Our intention is to create a vibrant commercial property that will anchor and stimulate the development of the South Windham Village as it continues to improve as a community orientated, walkable place to gather.”

Details for the Great Falls property redevelopment plan is to connect with the current footpaths to promote continued foot traffic and allow for maximization of parking onsite and along the adjacent street.

“We have considered the changes in design in this COVID-19 world and are confident in the sustainability of the model which includes extensive outdoor seating and garage doors that open for extensive ventilation. We also intend to display the natural beauty of the river by creating ample gazing opportunities whether inside the craft brewery restaurant or out. The river is a treasure we’re excited to responsibly unveil for patrons and community members to enjoy while dining or gathering with family and friends.
The public benefit is top of mind as we developed this concept plan as we only succeed if the community accepts and enjoys the space. We are confident in the positive community benefits this local option will create for the South Windham Village,” the presentation reads. <


Windham could add two new districts through rezoning

Based upon recommendations from the town’s Long Range Planning Committee developed following a public webinar on March 3, the Windham Town Council could vote later this spring on a proposal to add two new zoning districts.

During the March 3 rezoning webinar conducted on Zoom, Windham residents were asked to comment on creating a new Village Residential District and a Windham Center District. The Windham Long Range Planning Committee is charged with implementation of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan and mapping out where growth and changes are desired and where they are not desired as a central component of comprehensive planning.

“The Future Land Use Map in the plan shows the general areas of Windham that should be targeted for growth and those that are important to the community to keep at low development levels,” said Amanda L. Lessard, Windham Planning Director. “Windham Center is one of the identified growth areas and is described in the plan as an area serving as the civic core of the community and as such, more walkable, connected residential development should be encouraged in this area.”

Lessard said that the Windham Center Growth Area is mostly currently zoned as Farm District and Farm Residential District and these rural areas are zones that the town wants to direct growth away from. “A specific Comp Plan goal is to amend local ordinances to clearly define the desired scale, intensity, and location of future development using the descriptions provided in the Future Land Use Plan,” Lessard said. “Additionally, state law requires that a municipal zoning ordinance must be pursuant to and consistent with a comprehensive plan adopted by the municipal legislative body.”

She said that the LRPC reviewed the current zoning in other growth areas and determined that based on the existing lot sizes and land uses in the area and the Vision for Windham described in the comprehensive plan that Windham Center is different from other growth areas and should have its own zoning standards that are distinct on either side of the Pleasant River.

Another aspect of changes the council may be asked to approve are refining affordable housing standards, Lessard said.

“One of the Comp Plan goals is to encourage the development of affordable/workforce housing in Growth Areas,” she said. “The proposed standards would apply in the zoning districts that align with growth areas shown on the future land use map: Commercial 1 (C1) and Commercial 2 (C2) in the North Windham Growth Area, Medium-Density Residential (RM) in the Residential Growth Area, Village Commercial (VC) in the South Windham Growth Area, and the proposed Windham Center (WC) District in the Windham Center Growth Area.”

Lessard said that the proposed standards would allow for increases in residential density and height and decrease lot size, frontage and setbacks for developments that are served by public water and meet federal Median Family Income standards for affordability.

“The affordability of the units must also be maintained for 10 years for ownership units, or 30 years for rental units,” she said.

Under the proposal that the council could take up would be the Village Residential District, to the west of the Pleasant River which could be intended to be a residential area with a limited number of small businesses.

“The proposed zone slightly reduces minimum lot sizes and road frontages to allow for more residential development that is consistent with the older subdivision developments in the area,” Lessard said. “The Windham Center District, to the east of the Pleasant River, is intended to be the primarily residential civic village with a mixture of uses intended to complement the cultural, public, and institutional uses with other small business that meet local neighborhood needs.”

This proposed zone further reduces minimum lot sizes and road frontages (to be the same as the Town’s current Medium-Density Residential zone and proposes to allow additional commercial uses that are limited in size, Lessard said.

“Both districts are proposed to require pitched rooflines, all new streets must be public streets, and new development on existing public streets must provide sidewalks along the frontage of the lot,” she said.

It will be several months before Windham town councilors could vote on the rezoning proposal as there is a process to follow.

“The LRPC will consider revisions to the proposal based on public input and make a recommendation to the Windham Town Council,” Lessard said. “The Land Use Ordinance specifies the process for amendments, so the Council will forward the proposal to the Planning Board for review and recommendation.”

As part of the process, a public hearing will be held as part of the Windham Planning Board’s review. The board’s recommendation will be sent back to the Windham Town Council for discussion and a public hearing before a vote is held.

Windham’s Comprehensive Plan Update was adopted in June 2017 and included numerous policy and implementation strategies to achieve the vision for Windham in the next 10-plus years.

“These were distilled into the 4 Big Things, one of which was ‘Change the game for Windham’s Growth Areas: North Windham, Windham Center, South Windham.,’” Lessard said. “This zoning change would expand the range of options available in Windham by allowing for different types and scales of neighborhood development and provide more options for people to choose from when considering Windham for a home or a place to start or expand a business.” <

State highway work plan includes Windham-area projects

Roads and bridges do not automatically upgrade or repair and rebuild themselves and that’s why each year, state legislators collaborate with the Maine Department of Transportation to prioritize projects that make our commute safer and smoother.

Maine DOT’s Three-Year Work Plan outlines the efforts and initiatives that the department intends to perform over the next three-year span. It is calendar year-based and includes all Maine DOT work activities across the state.

While projects and activities listed for Calendar Year 2021 have the most definite schedules and estimates, those for Calendar Years 2022 and 2023 may be more subject to change and depending upon available state funding.

In March, State Representative Patrick Corey, a Republican representing Windham, announced that the Maine Department of Transportation’s Work Plan for Calendar Years 2021, 2022 and 2023 is available and includes specific highway improvement projects to be conducted in the community.

Statewide, the estimated value of work performed as outlined in the plan totals more than 2,180 individual work items with a total value of $2.71 billion. MDOT estimates that from 2021 to 2023, it will invest in more than 100 miles of highway construction and rehabilitation; 893 miles of pavement preservation; 2,175 miles of light capital paving for roads and highways; 222 safety and spot improvements; and 166 different bridge projects.

Corey said that the three-year MDOT Work Plan for Windham from 2021 to 2023 includes seven different projects totaling more than $2.5 million.

He said that this work includes numerous improvements to Route 302 in Windham such as rehabilitation and construction to the roundabout as well as safety improvements made possible through the municipal partnership initiative program.

“MDOT Work Plan projects will benefit our local communities in many ways,” Corey said in a press release. “I am pleased to see several MDOT projects scheduled for the next three years in our area. They will make our roads safer and benefit the local economy.”

Among the planned MDOT projects Corey announced for Windham for 2021 are:

** Route 115. A project will be replacing joints, applying sealer to wearing surface, and repair abutment to the Narrows Bridge over Ditch Brook, located 260 feet west of Running Brook Road in Windham. The cost of this project is $150,000.

** William Knight Road. A specific planning and outreach project will examine replacement of Varney's Bridge over the Pleasant River located 0.44 of a mile northwest of Route 4. The cost of this project is $25,000.

** Falmouth Road. Crews will pave the roadway surface beginning 0.03 of a mile south of Stevens Road and extending south 0.79 of a mile to Route 202. The cost of this project is $32,000.

** Route 302. MDOT will join the Town of Windham in the Municipal Partnership Initiative Program and fund the installation of adaptive traffic signaling systems at various intersections. The adaptive signal control technology will feature the timing of red, yellow and green lights to accommodate changing traffic patterns and ease traffic congestion along Route 302. The main benefits of adaptive signal control technology over conventional signal systems currently in place are that it will be able to continuously distribute green-light time equitably for all traffic movement, improve travel time reliability by progressively moving vehicles through green lights, reduce congestion by creating smoother flow, and prolong the effectiveness of traffic signal timing. The adaptive signal project will begin at Route 115 and extend northwest 1.14 miles to Trails End Road. The cost of this project is $1.45 million.

** Route 302. MDOT will join the Planning Partnership Initiative Program to conduct a feasibility study for alleviating traffic congestion on the route through town. The project begins at Route 202 and extends north 6.32 miles through Windham. The cost of the project is $150,000.

Corey also announced two projects that are planned to take place in 2022:

** Route 302. Highway rehabilitation as state crews remove and replace the wearing course to reset the deterioration process of the highway surface. The project will begin 0.45 of a mile west of Outpost Drive and extend west 0.14 of a mile, including the roundabout intersection of Route 302 with Route 202. The cost of the highway rehabilitation project is $585,000.

** Route 302. Highway safety improvements will be made to the intersection of Route 302 and Albion Road. The total cost of this project is $120,000. <

American Legion Field-Allen Post obtains digital bugle

In Maine and, especially in Windham, there is a deep love for those who have served in the military. We honor those who have fought for our country in various ways including holidays, special ceremonies and even discounts at some stores. There are even community centers and posts created to help service local veterans in various aspects and these veteran centers are a great addition to any community, but our own local post has some exciting news.

The American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham has been chartered since the 1930s and its goal has been to provide to local veterans, whether that be a hot meal, activities or simple social gatherings. The post also performs funeral and other ceremonies for veterans, with the Color Guard and Honor Guard teams.

After each ceremony, the final song that is played is “Taps,” a song created by Union General Daniel Butterfield in July 1862. The story is that Butterfield asked his bugle player, Oliver Norton, to help compose a piece. The somber and longer notes of “Taps” are said to reflect on Butterfield's mood after over 600 of his men were killed after the Battle of Gaines Mill.

“Taps” is a very important song to play, the piece being a tradition for any form of military. To this day, it is performed throughout the country during ceremonies to honor our veterans with its beautiful, striking notes. It is also tradition to have this song played specifically on a bugle, which can lead to a small problem.

Bugle players are very hard to come by these days, so the post always had to have someone from the community play the instrument for them. David Tanguay, a member of the Post for 26 years and currently the post's adjutant, said a number of players have worked with them over the years.

"Over the period, the post has relied on a few outside sources to provide this honor including the Boy Scouts, Windham High School Band members, an organization called Bugles Across Maine (America) and the respective military service personnel when they are available."

Due to a lack of bugle players among post members, the organization has always had to outsource. Sometimes schedules do not always align, making gaps in where they needed a bugle player for events. To combat this, the post had been using a recording of “Taps” at the end of ceremonies.

However, the recording was less than ideal for the post.

"At the May 2020 small Memorial Day ceremony at the WVC there was not a bugler available," Tanguay said. "Likewise, during the November Veterans Day Ceremony held at the WVC, the plan for the Veterans Day event was to use a tape recording of ‘Taps’ at the ceremony’s conclusion after the rifle salute. Unfortunately, the equipment used for the sound system faltered and the ceremony ended on a sour note, so to speak. "

Tanguay said that many people could not hear the final song used to end the ceremony, which was something the post did not want to repeat for upcoming events. Ditching the recording and the sound systems that malfunctioned, they instead took a modern solution to their problem, which was a digital bugle.

A digital bugle is similar to a regular, classic bugle. The only difference is that in the bell-end part of the instrument, there is a digital device with a speaker that can play certain songs without the player having to blow into it.

With a click of a button, the instrument will sound as if the person is playing it themselves. It's an easy solution and, this way, anyone can pick the bugle up and play it like a pro. The device plays “Taps” and several other selections. The bugle with the device was $565 and was purchased online.

Tanguay said the importance of the post's digital bugle purchase is how it reflects a sense of independence.

"It is important for the HG to be able to provide a complete service for our fallen vets when the traditional service Honor Guard is not available. The Post Honor Guard can fold and present the American flag, conduct rifle salute, and now play ‘Taps.’ The bugle adds to the Honor Guard’s capabilities." <


Young Windham actor and his father selected for roles in new film

"Both your child and his father are considered for the classroom scenes in ‘The Tender Bar’ movie. This film is directed by George Clooney, and he is handpicking each person.” This is the message Sarah Adams Rulman of Windham received from the casting crew regarding her son, Lincoln and her husband, Chris.

In April she received the news that the son and father duo were selected by Clooney himself to play a role in the film.

Briefly, “The Tender Bar” is an American coming-of-age drama directed by Clooney and is an adaptation of the 2005 memoir of the same name by J. R. Moehringer. The film, starring Ben Affleck and Christopher Lloyd, will be released in the coming months.

“Lincoln and Chris were super excited to be in a scene with Christopher Lloyd,” Sarah said. “He is a childhood icon for Chris, and he was really excited to sit at the same table as him. There was another kiddo sitting at the table and Christopher Llyod asked him what he knew about time travel, and Chris said, ‘1.21 gigawatts,’ and Christopher pointed to him and said, ‘that’s right.’

“When they arrived on the set Lincoln noticed a man shooting hoops in the gym, and he said to Chris, ‘dad, that’s George Clooney’ and Chris didn’t believe him until he turned around and saw that it was.”

Although a first for his father, this is not the first time Lincoln, 10, a fifth grader attending Manchester School in Windham, was selected to play in well-known films. Lincoln, along with his sisters Gracie and Libby, has acted in the most recent film of “Little Women” starring Emma Stone and Meryl Streep. He has also performed in an Apple TV+ miniseries, “Defending Jacob” starring Chris Evans (Captain America) and Michelle Dockery (Mary Crawley of Downton Abbey). 

“In ‘The Tender Bar,’ Lincoln is in a scene where he asks the teacher for something,” Sarah said. “Hopefully that will be in the film, but you never know what they decide to keep.”

Lincoln shared with his mother his favorite moments and experiences of working on the set of Clooney’s latest film.

“His favorite moment was talking to George Clooney and seeing Christopher Lloyd,” Sarah said. “Lincoln was super excited that George Clooney came over to him in between takes and read something that Lincoln had written about baseball, and he asked him what position he played and if he was a righty or lefty. Oh! And also the money! His least favorite part was the seven COVID tests that he had to take, although they got paid $100 per test!”

Sarah said that Lincoln is now a pro at taking COVID tests and an expert at “real life” acting.

“Lincoln said redoing scenes can be really boring because it’s the same thing over and over again. He actually dropped a fork in one scene, and they had to redo it. The movie takes place in the 1970s and 1980s, so he thought the old cars and the old clothes were really cool! He told me he has to wear these weird pants with lines in them. I laughed and told him they are called corduroys.”

Now that Lincoln has a few acting experiences under his belt, he provides a few bits of guidance for other youth who may want to get in the field or make a career in the performing arts.

“His advice to young actors is to be really good on set and be professional. Also, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a role, there is always another one,” he said.

When he is not acting, Lincoln is playing baseball, drawing and gaming. He also has just started modeling in his first photo shoot for LL Bean.

“He had a photo shoot last week for LL Bean and loved modeling,” Sarah said. “It was his first shoot and he loved that he could have fun and be himself. They had him dancing and being silly, something that is very different from being on a movie set.”

Although Lincoln seems to be doing well in the acting and modeling business, he is still a small-town boy who you will find riding his bike down to the lake to fish and swim with friends. He and his family are enjoying life as it comes and hold no expectations for the future.

“We all go with Lincoln on his endeavors and support him,” Sarah said. “You never know when this will all be over, so we are enjoying it and making the most of every opportunity. And those opportunities include everyday life experiences with family and friends.”  <

Solar array expects to produce 684,000 hours of clean energy annually 

Through the generation of electricity from solar panels, the Town of Windham is aiming to slash its monthly electric bill and find a new purpose for an old, capped landfill.

On April 15, Windham officials joined a team from South Portland-based ReVision Energy in dedicating a new 504-kilowatt solar array at the old town landfill on Enterprise Drive. The array consists of 1,344 photovoltaic panels that are expected to produce 684,000 hours of clean solar energy every year.      

According to Windham’s Sustainability Coordinator Gretchen Anderson, this new solar array is equivalent to removing 105 passenger cars from the road or planting 8,000 tree seedlings.

The Town of Windham was excited to pursue this project to boost energy efficiency and realize significant savings in electricity costs over time,” “By utilizing the closed landfill for the solar array, the project creates the opportunity to give otherwise unusable land a new life by converting it into a site to generate solar energy and revenue,” Anderson said. “Additionally, our residential energy efficiency campaign will help Windham resident’s reduce energy consumption and save money.”

She said that the initiative will power all of the town’s municipal buildings and drastically cut Windham’s overall electric bill and the savings can be applied somewhere else in the town’s budget in years to come and it also helps to reduce the town’s carbon footprint.  

The projected generation of 684,892 hours of clean solar electricity is enough to offset more than 617,000 pounds of CO2 emissions.

“It’s a real honor to have partnered with ReVision Energy on this project,” said Barry Tibbetts, Windham’s town manager. “This is the second project Windham has worked on with them and this one is 18 times larger.”

The first solar project the town worked on with ReVision was for the East Windham Fire Station on Falmouth Road in October 2013. That project generates enough photovoltaic power to offset electricity used at that facility and at the North Windham Fire Station as well.

Nick Sampson of ReVision Energy said that the town was great to work with and their strong commitment to the project is refreshing and a great example of how municipalities can creatively pursue practical solutions in the 21st century.

“It’s been a great experience working with the Town of Windham,” Sampson said. “It’s really exciting to see a town take advantage of a capped landfill and we appreciate this opportunity. Already about 200 kilowatt hours of electricity has been generated here.”

Tibbetts said by using the solar array, the town will receive credits for its electric bill on all buildings and miscellaneous electricity it is billed for, including traffic lights, streetlights and a range of other electric expenses.

“Put simply, this program will reduce our budget and that will result in less taxes,” Tibbetts said.

A solar array is a collection of multiple solar panels that generate electricity as a system. When sunlight hits the solar panels in an array, it produces direct current (DC) electricity. The array is connected to an inverter system and the inverter converts the DC electricity to usable alternating current (AC) electricity.

From an environmental standpoint, the advantages of solar energy systems are that they do not produce air pollutants or carbon dioxide and they also have minimal effects upon nature in general where they are placed.

Sampson said that the solar panels at the old landfill site on Enterprise Drive in North Windham are pitched at a 35- to 40-degree angle to maximize production of solar energy.

“They have been installed using a fixed ground mount system and have a lifespan of 40 years or longer,” he said. “They are built to sustain hurricane-type wind speeds of up to 120 mph and snowfall will not bother their production. The entire cost of this project is about $1.25 million.”

Anderson said that this solar project is part of the town’s long range sustainability planning that includes everything from the purchase of electric vehicles to replacing light bulbs with efficient LED lighting to generating its own electricity through solar panels to engaging residents in tangible work to boost residential energy efficiency.

The site for this new solar array was used as a landfill from the 1960s until it was closed in 1988. With the approval of the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection, the landfill was capped in 1992.

There was no upfront cost for Windham to construct the solar array because of a power purchase agreement with ReVision Energy that was approved by members of the Windham Town Council in October 2019.  That agreement contracts a price for purchasing energy from the system at a rate lower than the Central Maine Power rate for 25 years.

After five years, Windham will have the option to purchase the system if it so chooses. <

New owner unravels history of old boat built in Windham

The generations of owners of an old Windham boat take nothing for granted and are proud of the fact it shows the history of the town, not to mention the character of a local boat builder who had such an impact on multiple Windham families.


Windham in the early 1950s was much different than the town today. While we do know our neighbors today, the town was much smaller then, and people knew one another more intimately. One such person who lived in Windham was a man named Owen F. Staples, a great guy who loved to keep his hands busy.


Staples would build various sizes of gorgeous boats in his shop that was once located at 644 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. Sadly, those days are in the past, and Staples passed in October 2001. Despite this, some of his hand-crafted boats still live on to this day, and one remains in very good condition.


That boat, a wooden howler made of plywood and oak, was built in 1956. It can seat six people and is beautifully varnished around the exterior. The motor originally and still attached is a 35- horsepower Johnson motor. The boat isn't considered an antique, but at 65 years old, it looks almost brand new.

About 10 years after building the boat, Staples sold it to Clayton Crumnett in 1967. It had been well used on Little Sebago for years in the Crumnett family, constantly being on the local lakes during the summers.

Crumnett's daughter, Sharon Campbell, said that the boat and Owen's old shop drew quite a lot of attention back then.


"Owen would make these large boats in his shops and then put them out on the lawn for passing cars to take an interest. At the time, this was across the street from the old Windham drive-in theatre, so quite a lot of people would see the boats he built,” she said. “It was a real cute boat, so my dad got it and he would speed around Little Sebago in it at his camp for years."

The boat got many years of love from the family, traversing through Little Sebago, Big Sebago, and even Moosehead Lake. However, as Crumnnett grew older and eventually passed away in February 2020, he had made a final decision in 2017 to sell the boat to Nathan Sawyer, another Windham local who had a close tie with the family.

Years passed with the boat now in Sawyer’s hands and he had found himself growing more and more curious about the original builder. A small sticker plaque gave him the clue about who had built it without much other information.

Sawyer reached out online and eventually connected with one of Owen's family members, Fred Staples in April.

"Windham is a small town so usually somebody will know something about the history and the people,” Sawyer said. “We reached out online since surely someone knew more about the boat and the builder, and we're really glad we did."

Fred Staples said that he was pleasantly surprised when Sawyer called him asking about the old boat and was happy to give any information that he could use. He even went as far as offering to give old parts for some boats that Owen had given to him years prior, along with telling Sawyer more about his uncle in the meantime.

"My uncle was a great guy,” Fred Staples said. “Around the time he was building these handmade boats I was about 6 years old. I remember he would work on two at once in his two-car garage-turned-workshop."

Owen Staples was historically one of a few boat builders in Windham, not including the boat manufacturer that soon opened near his little business. He had a good heart and truly cared about the people in his community, his nephew said.

"If he heard someone was having boat issues around the boating season, he would go out and fix it himself," Fred Staples said. "And that was whether or not it was a boat he had built himself or not. He cared about boats and he cared about people, too. He was an incredible guy."

As we grow closer to the warmer months and the local lakes start to thaw, Sawyer said that he fully intends on getting the boat back into the water as soon as he can. Now armed with the knowledge and history behind the boat, Sawyer said that he has a bit more fondness toward it and the amazing work Owen Staples did crafting it more than 65 years ago. <


Electric vehicle fast-charging station opens in North Windham     

Efficiency Maine’s efforts to install a network of universal, publicly accessible electric vehicle (EV) chargers across the state of Maine arrived in Windham in May with the dedication of a new charging station in town.

Using only funds from the settlement of a federal lawsuit against Volkswagen, this first phase of the initiative has seen the development and installation of high-speed EV chargers (also called “Level 3” chargers or “DC fast chargers”) at a number of locations in the state. Previously, chargers were installed on the Maine Turnpike at the Kennebunk plazas (northbound and southbound); the West Gardiner plaza; as well as in Jackman, Skowhegan, Farmington.

The seventh and final site installation of the initiative is at the Hannaford Supermarket in North Windham. Attending the dedication event were Efficiency Maine Executive Director Michael Stoddard; George Parmenter, a representative from Hannaford Supermarkets; Senator Bill Diamond of Windham, Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts, Raymond Town Manager Don Willard; and Robin Mullins, Executive Director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.

“We deliberately chose these first seven charging locations because of their strategic value for local communities and drivers traveling to and from neighboring states and provinces,” Stoddard said. “In addition to helping Mainers make longer in-state day trips, this fast charger network accommodates the growing number of EV drivers traveling on business or for vacation from Quebec, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and southern New England.”

A high-speed charger typically can add 200 to 250 miles of range per hour to an electric-powered vehicle.

Stoddard said that the new North Windham location is going to open up EV travel to so many great destinations served by Route 302, including all the communities around Sebago Lake, skiers headed to Shawnee Peak, and anyone headed to or from North Conway, the White Mountains, and Montreal.

“As summer approaches and COVID restrictions ease, the timing is great for the commissioning of this new piece of Maine’s clean transportation infrastructure,” Stoddard said.

The installation of charging plugs at the North Windham Hannaford Supermarket is the third Hannaford location to host EV charging plugs. There also are charging stations at the Skowhegan and Farmington stores.

“Having EV charging stations at our stores is just one more way we share the journey of sustainable living with our customers,” said George Parmenter, brand lead of health and sustainability for Hannaford Supermarkets. “We appreciate that so many are looking for convenient ways to live healthier and more responsibly for the world around us. And we’re excited about the collaboration we’ve forged with Redstone, our landlord in North Windham, as well as with Efficiency Maine and ChargePoint.”   

Mullins said the new charging station will be of benefit to both residents and visitors alike. 

“The North Windham Hannaford is a valuable member of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and the local community,” added Robin Mullins, executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. “Installing EV chargers at this Hannaford location makes perfect sense not only for tourism in the region, but also for the residents and businesses in the area. Many visitors already shop in the North Windham supermarket for supplies on their way to their final destinations in the Sebago Lakes region. The EV chargers make the store attractive to more travelers and will hopefully enhance tourism in the region. The chargers will also allow local EV drivers to increase the time they spend in the area doing errands, shopping and dining, which is extremely beneficial to our residents, businesses, and economy.”

Complementing the now-completed first phase of its initiative, Efficiency Maine is turning its attention to extending the high-speed charger network north through Bangor and eastward along U.S Route 1. Just last week, Efficiency Maine closed a request for proposals to serve communities along I-95 from Waterville to Bangor/Brewer; Route 1 from Rockland to Ellsworth; and in Lewiston-Auburn. Awards are expected to be announced by May 12.

Efficiency Maine has been working since October 2018 to minimize the obstacles of electric vehicle adoption by offering grants that support the installation of a network of EV chargers throughout the state and defray the cost of an EV. In 2018, it contracted with ChargePoint to install DC fast charging for the first phase of the initiative. 

“ChargePoint’s mission is to get every driver behind the wheel of an EV by providing a convenient charging experience everywhere drivers go,” said Dedrick Roper, director of Public-Private Partnerships for ChargePoint. “Combined with ChargePoint’s existing network, the 21 active places to charge along some of Maine’s most traveled routes will make driving electric easier than ever and will connect communities that previously had limited access to EV charging with essential solutions. We’re delighted to offer fast-charge solutions at each of these locations along the Maine Turnpike to support the shift to electric transportation, the local business community, and the state of Maine at large.”

In addition to installing these publicly accessible fast chargers, Efficiency Maine also is supporting the expansion of lower-cost, public Level 2 chargers in other strategic locations across the state. Level 2 chargers are most commonly installed in homes, as well as at workplaces and public spaces. These units can provide between 14 and 35 miles of range per hour and are often used when a car can be left plugged in for longer periods of time. All Level 2 chargers have a universal “J” plug and connect to all electric vehicle models.

Adding publicly available Level 2 chargers improves local access and destination charging across the state. These charger plugs serve commuters, local drivers, business people driving to and from meetings and appointments, and overnight guests. To date, Efficiency Maine has helped fund 150 new, public plugs in Maine’s public EV charging network, which has now grown to a total of 114 DC high-speed charging plugs and 375 Level 2 “community” plugs.

Efficiency Maine administers programs to expand availability of EV charging infrastructure and the adoption of electric vehicles in Maine. Its programs provide instant rebates for eligible battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) at participating car dealers in Maine, as well as grants to fund the installation of EV charging infrastructure in public areas, workplaces, and multi-unit dwellings in Maine. <

Land Trust looks to expand trails through Windham

Creating the Sebago to the Sea Trail and extending the Mountain Division rail-trail in our region (which includes Westbrook, Windham, Gorham and Standish), has been a priority for the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust for nearly 20 years and that goal continues today.

According to Rachelle Curran Apse, Presumpscot Regional Land Trust Executive Director, the rail-trail is welcoming, safe, and accessible for all ages to enjoy for walking, running, and biking.

“Right now there is momentum to expand the Mountain Division rail-trail both east and west of the current five-mile Gorham to Windham section, which would also expand the Sebago to the Sea Trail,” Apse said.

The possible Windham to Westbrook expansion would bring the rail-trail five miles east through Windham to downtown Westbrook.

“This section will have a trail next to rail to leave the opportunity for future rail within Greater Portland, Portland, Westbrook, Windham and Gorham, as these towns continue to grow quickly,” Apse said. “At this point Westbrook and Windham are in conversation with Maine DOT about completing the draft feasibility study on this section. We will keep you updated on progress and how you can be involved.”

The land trust is also exploring expansion of the trail from Standish to Fryeburg.

Apse said that Maine DOT has already invested significant transportation funds over the last 20 years to put rail-trail along the Mountain Division rail corridor in two locations with five miles of rail-trail from the Standish/Gorham border through Gorham into Windham in 2003 and four miles of rail-trail from the New Hampshire border east within Fryeburg in 2012.

“Now there is the opportunity to invest in a feasibility study toward expanding the rail-trail that would connect these two sections of rail-trail that exist. The Mountain Division corridor is one of just four statewide rail-trail priorities for the Maine DOT. <

Windham High senior Brady Afthim throws no-hitter

Windham’s varsity baseball team faced Deering in a double-header at home on Saturday, May 22, and it’s a day that senior Brady Afthim will long remember.

Pitching for the Eagles in the first game of the doubleheader, Afthim hurled a no-hitter, striking out 19 Deering batters and leading Windham to a 6-1 victory over the Rams.

Earlier in the season, Windham had scrimmaged Deering and Afthim had success during that scrimmage, so he was excited to be on the mound and very confident going into game one of the double-header.

Afthim pitched all seven innings, only walking one batter during the entire game and allowing one run. He threw a total of 83 pitches during the game.

As the game progressed, Afthim said he knew he had the no-hitter in his reach, but he did not focus on it. Instead, he said that he was trying to get outs as quickly as possible with as few pitches as he could.

“Brady was locked in, took the game pitch by pitch and ended up with a result that most pitchers don’t experience,” Windham Varsity Baseball Coach Cody Dube said. “He will remember that game for a long time.”

Dube said he was happy for Afthim, and it was an awesome game to watch. He said no hitters are rare, especially ones with 19 strikeouts.

“I think every pitcher goes out there hoping to throw one (no-hitter) so it's really cool to have that be the reality for that game and the personal record for strikeouts is just the cherry on top,” said Afthim. <


Raymond voters return Bruno to Select Board seat

Raymond voters made their choices on Tuesday, June 8, casting ballots for a number of town positions and approving a number of municipal warrants for the town budget and the RSU 14 school budget proposal for the coming year.  

Voting was conducted at Jordan-Small Middle School in lieu of the annual Town Meeting because of COVID-19 concerns.  The ballots were four full pages on two sheets of paper and contained budget items and ordinances that would normally have been approved with an in-person vote at the town meeting.

All warrants on the ballot were approved by voters, including funding for Raymond’s Public Safety and Public Works Departments, several land use ordinances and greenlighting the $52 million annual budget for RSU 14.

The most contested race for voters was to elect a candidate for Raymond’s open Board of Selectmen position. When all of the ballots were counted, Joe Bruno earned 204 votes to win the seat, with Abigail Geer receiving 171 votes and Dana DesJardins got 34 votes.   

Kate Levielle was unopposed for a three-year seat on the RSU 14 Board of Directors and received a total of 310 votes.

Robert Gosselin tallied 264 votes and Kevin Oliver received 243 votes to win three-year terms on Raymond’s Budget and Finance Committee.

No candidates were declared or on the ballot to fill two open two-year terms and one three-year term on the town’s Budget and Finance Committee, but Raymond’s Town Clerk Sue Look said candidates receiving write-in votes on Tuesday for these vacant positions, including Dennis Morse, Abigail Geer and Marshall Bullock will be asked if they would be interested in serving on the committee. <

Convention salutes local American Legion members with awards

Veterans from the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham have got to be happy and a bit humbled following the 102nd Maine American Legion Convention in Brewer on June 12. During the convention, Post 148 was recognized with 13 different awards, including two of the most prestigious, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for 2021 and the 2021 Humanitarian Award.

Windham Police Officer Ernest MacVane gratefully accepted the 2021 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award from the Department of Maine American Legion Commander Matthew Jabut during the convention on June 12 as his family watched.

MacVane was nominated for the award by Post 148 Adjutant David Tanguay for his consistent hard work and community engagement with the Windham Police. MacVane was recognized for successfully apprehending a felony drug suspect and executing a search warrant that led to the recovery of stolen property and a stolen firearm.

He also drew praise for his efforts while responding to a reported drug overdose in which his actions most likely saved a life. While off duty in another community, MacVane witnessed an attempted carjacking and leaped in to help, successfully detaining the suspect until local police officers arrived at the scene to make an arrest.

MacVane has 22 years of law enforcement experience and said he was deeply moved by the recognition and that his family was able to attend the event and see him receive the award for his work for the Windham Police Department.                         

Windham resident and Post 148 member Brian McCarthy was honored during the convention with the 2021 Maine Humanitarian Award. McCarthy is a police officer in South Portland and was honored with the award for his continued efforts with the Guardian Ride, a fundraiser for the Maine Army National Guard’s 488th Military Police Family Readiness Group.

McCarthy has served with South Portland Police Department for more than 12 years and has distinguished himself working in patrol, as well as in his additional duties as a member of the Southern Maine Regional SWAT. He served 20 years in the military before retiring and chose to undertake an annual fundraising bike ride to make a difference for members of his former military outfit, the 488th Military Police Unit in Waterville.

For the past three years, McCarthy has taken off from work for a seven-day trek across Maine on his mountain bike, taking pledges for the trip which spans as much as 350 miles at a time. His determination and willingness to help has raised more than $10,000 for the initiative in three years. 

All monies McCarthy collects from his “Guardian Ride” are used by the 488th’s FRG for back-to-school supplies, a summer cookout for unit families and single soldiers alike with water sports and camping, a catered unit Christmas party with a visit from Santa, emergency relief funds for families in need, and for keeping unit families in touch with their soldiers stationed overseas.

Like Officer MacVane, McCarthy was nominated for the Humanitarian Award by Tanguay, who first heard about the Guardian Ride initiative during a function at the post in Windham.   

Three local American Legion members were recognized at the convention for their efforts on behalf of Post 148.

Henry “Chuck” Wynot was honored as Post Service Officer of the Year for 2020, his third such award in five years. Whynot, approached the post adjutant about starting a regular Veterans Social Coffee at the Windham Veterans Center in 2016. He had indicated that he visited four to five “housebound” veterans each week and found that some of them just needed a place outside the home that was safe for them to go.

Initially established and advertised as a drop-off for ambulatory veterans to get out of the house and possibly allowing the veteran’s caregivers a little free time, the Veteran’s Socials are held from 9 to 11 a.m. each Wednesday morning at the Windham Veterans Center. The gathering was considered a success and plans continued for the weekly event which grew over the following years to about three dozen veterans. Many came for the camaraderie and coffee, others developed other interests such as playing cribbage and other board games.

Through the years, strong bonds of friendship have been formed with many of the members and because of the coffee, on average, some 15 new veterans have joined the Field-Allen post and many of them have become integral members of the organization. In March 2020, just two weeks before the fourth anniversary of the coffee, everything was halted because of concerns about the COVID-19 virus spreading in the community. This ended a 203-week run of the Veterans Coffee gathering without ever missing a single Wednesday.

But in early April 2020, an interesting thing happened. Whynot and several of the Veterans Coffee members started coming to the WVC on Wednesday around 9 a.m. and they set up chairs in the parking lot at appropriate social distances to spend some social time together. They brought their own coffee and face masks and the tradition for veterans continues to this day.

Jane Fisher was honored as Post Service Officer of the Year for 2021 at the covention. And David Tanguay himself was honored as Recruiter of the Year for 2021, his second such award in the last four years.

Field-Allen Post also won a number of other American Legion Awards presented during the annual convention including:

** Post Excellence Award for 2020 and 2021 (consecutive honors from 2014 to 2021).

** Americanism And Youth Programs Award for 2020 and 2021, the fifth consecutive award.

** Department of Maine “Goal to Grow” membership award for 2020, the fourth consecutive) award.

** National Membership Award for achieving a “New High” in membership with awards for 2020 and 2021, marking 12 consecutive years of 100 percent-plus membership.

** Post Newsletter First Place Award for 2020 and 2021, for the eighth consecutive year.

** Post Narrative History for 2020 and 2021, First Place.

** Post Yearbook History for 2021, Third Place.

** Post member Ed Pierce, Managing Editor of The Windham Eagle newspaper, was honored with the Fourth Estate Award for 2021 for outstanding coverage of veterans and veterans’ issues in Maine. < 

Catholic parishes in Gorham, Westbrook, and Windham prepare to merge

If you’re Catholic and attend church on a regular basis in Windham, you’re probably aware that Our Lady of Perpetual Help is about to undertake an important step regarding its future.

According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, starting July 1, a canonical merger is going to take place involving current parishes in Gorham, Westbrook, and Windham and will establish the new St. Anthony of Padua Parish. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Windham, St. Anne Church in Gorham, St. Hyacinth Church in Westbrook, and the seasonal chapel of Our Lady of Sebago in East Sebago will form the new St. Anthony of Padua Parish with all worship sites remaining open.

“Over the past six years, the three parishes have worked towards joining together as one community of faith and fellowship,” said Rev.  Louis Phillips, pastor of the new St. Anthony of Padua Parish.

Under a canonical merger, the churches will share the same clergy and pastoral staff members.

“We have established one pastoral center with clergy and staff offices,” said Phillips, who has served in the communities since 2015. “We have formed a united pastoral council and a united finance council. Many parishioners attend masses at more than one of the churches. This announcement may cause some to say, ‘I thought we were already merged.’”

Dave Guthro, communications director for the diocese, said that the name for the new parish was the top choice of parishioners and received approval from Bishop Robert P. Deeley.

“The canonical merger officially transitions the three parishes into one parish with four worship sites,” Guthro said.

Streamlining the operations of the churches involved in the canonical merger will result in one set of financial books, one set of sacramental registers, combined finances, one diocesan reporting mechanism, and one single annual Catholic Appeal goal,” Phillips said.

“Those are just a few of the many administrative advantages that will save money and more efficiently utilize the time and energy of our parish staff,” he said. 

Phillips said that on the weekend of July 16 and July 17, members of the new St. Anthony of Padua Parish will gather together as one to host the inaugural St. Anthony Festival in Windham.

“A Mass of Celebration will be held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, located on 919 Roosevelt Trail, on Friday, July 16, at 7 p.m. The Mass will conclude with a procession of a statue of St. Anthony to an outdoor shrine, after which there will be a reception in the church courtyard,” Phillips said.

The following day, an outdoor festival will begin at 10 a.m. and will feature food, crafts, baked goods, a yard sale, activities for the kids, and live music. The festival will pause for mass at 4 p.m. on Saturday and then resume with a barbecue at 5 p.m.

“All are welcome to attend all or part of the festival,” Phillips said.

The festival will complete the lengthy merger process that featured several informational and feedback sessions with parishioners of the churches involved and a submitted proposal to the bishop who approved the canonical merger after reviewing those discussions, consulting with the Presbyteral Council, and obtaining the consent of both the College of Consultors and the Diocese of Portland’s Finance Council.

Parish leadership identified our top two priorities as fulfilling the social ministry of the church and stewardship for future generations of Catholics,” Phillips said. “A coordinated, collaborative effort as a merged parish can do so much more in promoting the social mission of the church. We also want to do now whatever is necessary to make certain that our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will inherit a vibrant, engaging, and involved Catholic faith community as an act of human stewardship. Through more efficient use of our combined financial and human resources, this is a goal we can best accomplish together rather than separately.” <