Showing posts with label Raymond Village Library. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Raymond Village Library. Show all posts

Friday, June 7, 2024

Raymond Beautification Committee kicks off 2024 season

By Kendra Raymond

Most anyone traveling through Raymond via Route 302 is certain to notice the colorful gardens and planters scattered throughout the town. The town is fortunate to have a tireless group of volunteers leading the charge to spruce up the community.

Members of the Raymond Beautification
Committee work on a project planting
flowers at Raymond Veterans Park on
Route 302 in Raymond.
The Raymond Beautification Committee coordinates the work and meets once weekly to plant and perform maintenance. Residents may notice these pops of color in public areas throughout Raymond, including the Route 302 business corridor, Raymond Village Library, Raymond Town Office, Veteran’s Memorial Park, as well as multiple planters located throughout the town.

Volunteers began work for the 2024 season about a week ago. Projects include planning, planting, and weeding. The group is small but mighty.

Raymond Beautification Committee co-chair Sharon Dodson said that support and volunteers are always welcome.

“We have from one to three volunteers at a time usually and meet for two to four hours on Friday mornings. We do weeding, planting, and deadheading during that time,” said Dodson.

The committee recently published its yearly fundraising letter, which was posted on various sites and mailed to some residents. “Plant prices are higher every year and the Beautification volunteers need some financial help to keep Raymond blooming with colorful annuals and bulbs.” Dodson said in the letter, “Most funding for plants and bulbs comes from donations, but the town will help if we don’t get enough.”

Aside from financial help, the group would like to see volunteer numbers increase. This could be a great opportunity for students in need of volunteer hours, church or scout groups, retirees, or anyone interested in the visual appeal of our town – no experience required.

“Beautification volunteers usually meet at the Veterans Memorial Park on Friday mornings. We work more often during the planting season. People can also volunteer on their own if our schedule doesn’t work for them,” said Dodson.

The Raymond Beautification Committee started in 2003 following the completion of the Route 302 improvements project. Dodson said that there was no plan for garden maintenance, so she and resident Donna Johnson started weeding the areas with the assistance of Public Works Director Nathan White stepping in to water the gardens when possible.

“The following winter, Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Director Mike McClellan was talking to Raymond Town Manager Don Willard about what the needs are within the community. Together they decided that something needed to be done about the new unmaintained 70-plus garden areas along Route 302. They had seen us out there working and so Mike contacted me, and we pulled together a committee,” said Dodson. “The volunteer work started in an organized fashion early that spring, and we were putting in over 600 hours those first several summers. The town hired Dick Sanborn to mulch the gardens after we had weeded them, but it was a long process to get the out-of-control gardens back to where they had started the year before.”

Public works employee Don McClellan has been part of the effort for the past 12 years, providing heavy labor and debris removal in addition to his regular responsibilities maintaining Veteran’s Memorial Park and the beaches.

Looking to the future, Dodson envisions the town taking responsibility for the pruning and weeding, while the committee would handle planting annuals, bulbs, and maintaining the existing perennials. She said that the lighter scope of work might help attract more volunteers.

Dodson sees the vision of the committee as a partnership between businesses, the town, and volunteers.

“Making things pretty is appealing to volunteers and gives us a sense of gratification,” said Dodson. “We really appreciate your consideration and look forward to continuing our 20-year tradition of making our town just a little more beautiful.”

To learn more or if you are interested in volunteering, contact the committee through their Facebook page at:

Volunteers can also call the Raymod Town Office at (207) 655-4742 or simply show up at Veteran’s Memorial Park Friday mornings at 8am. Just look for the fluorescent green Raymond volunteer shirts – and you have found them. If Fridays don’t work for you, Dodson can set up a time to meet to point out potential projects that can be completed independently.

To donate to the Raymond Beautification Committee, simply drop off or mail a check to: Town of Raymond, 401 Webbs Mills Road, Raymond, Maine 04071, Attn.: Beautification Committee. <

Friday, November 12, 2021

Christmas craft fairs making dazzling return to local churches

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, local churches
in Windham and Raymond will be hosting Christmas craft
fairs in November and early December for shoppers
searching for unique and meaningful gifts.
By Daniel Gray 

In the last leg of the year, there will always be things to look forward to; Maine winters, sitting by a cozy fire, and craft fair season. Besides the large craft fair held at the high school every year, there are tons of smaller ones scattered around town. Churches are by far the biggest places to find craft fairs.

A few churches that have scheduled holiday craft fairs during November and December are the Windham Friends Meeting Church, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, The First Congregational Church of Gray, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and the North Windham Union Church. Raymond Village Library isn't a church, but they are hosting a craft fair as well.

St. Ann’s Annual Christmas Fair will be from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 4. Christmas wreaths will be available along with 42 gift baskets. A Christmas tree also will be raffled off. For more information, send an email to  

The Windham Friends Meeting's craft fair will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13 at the Friends Meeting House at 374 Gray Road here in Windham, which is right beside the Windham Raymond School District office.

"We are supported by many people in the community who are not members of Windham Friends but are a great help to us throughout the year," said Julianne Moore, treasurer for the Friends Church for more than 20 years.

Their craft fair will have jewelry, ornaments, stockings, knitted goods, lit Christmas trees, baked goods, and more.

"My favorite thing about the fair is working together with our group and The Windham Historical Society," Moore said. "But my favorite thing about the Christmas season is the music and decorating our meetinghouse. We have some antique paper murals of the Nativity that are quite unique and very delicate, but we still manage to get them up every year."

The First Congregational Church of Gray's annual Holly Fair is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20 with face masks required. It's held at the Parish House in Gray, right behind the McDonalds.

Franny Hutchings, a committee member of the church and a churchgoer herself, is very excited for the upcoming Holly Fair.

"With COVID, we were unsure if we would have the Holly Fair this year," Hutchings said. "We're all happy to do it this year and to bring it back. My favorite thing about the Holly Fair is that it puts us in the spirit of Christmas, and we enjoy seeing so many friends coming to shop."

There will be raffle tickets for $50 gift cards when you purchase goods from participating vendors, as well as jewelry, cookies, Rada cutlery, crafts, White Elephant and children activity rooms.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help's Christmas Fair will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, located at the church on Roosevelt Trail in North Windham. There will be a visit from Santa from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a bake sale, knitted items, gift baskets, jewelry, books, and delicious breakfast and lunch served by the Snowflake Café.

At that event, The Knights of Columbus will also have a Yard Sale along with their Annual Christmas Tree sale. The sale for the Christmas trees begins at the church Nov. 27.

The North Windham Union Church will conduct a Christmas craft fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 hosted at the church located off Roosevelt Trail. There will be 12 tables of hand-made crafts from locals along with baked goods, gently used books, Christmas wreaths, and light lunches to-go. Santa may also make an appearance for the kids, but the church is unsure with his busy schedule.

The church is also holding a silent auction through Nov. 16 with items ranging from gift certificates to toys. Visit their Facebook page to find additional information and to view all the items they have up for auction.

Raymond Village Library's holiday craft fair will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13. There will be plenty of items, including knitted and crocheted items, pottery, resin, jewelry, soaps, and gift baskets.

There will also be special items such as photographic works from Jesse MacDonald Photography, honey and herbal products from Bee Blossom Botanicals, alpaca fiber products from Pismire Mountain Fiber Farm, and glass art from Infinitely Fearless Designs.

The Raymond Village Library is happy to support local artists for Raymond residents said Allison Griffin, the director at RVL. She said that she enjoys seeing all the local talent from the community.

"There are so many talented people in the Raymond area, and we are happy to be able to provide a small venue to help promote their work." Griffin said. " While the event raises funds for the library, the primary focus of the fair is to provide a venue where all local crafters and artists are welcome to participate." <

Friday, August 6, 2021

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

 By Brian Bizier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diamond shared similar memories of Jani’s classroom.

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

Fay recounted that Jani was an amazing teacher.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fay agrees.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 29, 2021

Spring Birdhouse Raffle a new fundraiser for Raymond Village Library

By Daniel Gray

Examples of birdhouses on display at the Raymond
Village Library are shown. A total of 20 pre-made
birdhouses have been handed out so far as 
part of a new fundraiser for the library. 
So far this year, there have been many new beginnings for residents and businesses alike. While the snow thaws early with hopes of more being blanketed across the state, Raymond has been creating some fun new traditions of their own so far this January.

Earlier this month, Raymond's Village Library located off Meadow Road, announced a new event they will be hosting aimed specifically toward crafters in the area. 

The Spring Birdhouse Raffle is a fun activity that the whole family can partake in to create a beautiful bird house to be a bird's future home, library officials said. Not only are the birdhouses designed fully by their creators, but the money made from the raffle is for a good cause. 

Casco resident and Raymond Village Library Director Allison Griffin said the library welcomes new initiatives such as the Spring Birdhouse Raffle.

"The birdhouse project is a new fundraiser for us this year. We have had a lot of positive feedback so far and are hopeful the raffle will be successful,” Griffin said. “In addition to raising funds to support library programs and services, we also hope the project will provide a fun activity for our patrons and community members.! We look forward to displaying all the creative designs in the library for our patrons to enjoy."

While this fundraiser is new to the library, people have already been flocking there to get themselves a birdhouse to decorate, along with viewing the birdhouses that have already been designed and returned to be viewed.

As of this week, a total of 20 pre-made birdhouses have been handed out, already reaching past the initial goal Griffin and the library staff had established.


According to Griffin, the birdhouses being handed out to the public have been voluntarily made by the Maine Wood Carvers Association.


The birdhouse raffle asks that creations be returned to the library by March 1, where they will be displayed to the public and then raffled out afterward.

The raffle tickets are $1 each with a deal of six tickets for $5. Each ticket can be placed toward a specific birdhouse in the raffle.  Winners will be notified via phone or email on April 4.

The Raymond Village Library's hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Griffin said that anyone is welcome to drop in to grab a book to read and a birdhouse to decorate.


She said that even though they have pre-made birdhouses on hand, the public is encouraged to create and submit a design of their own if they have the know-how and materials to do so.


For more information about the Spring Birdhouse Raffle, please visit<

Friday, November 20, 2020

Raymond Village Library makes annual appeal

By Briana Bizier

Sometimes it feels like the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. As we adjust to working from home or working while wearing a face mask, helping our children with hybrid and distance learning, and the awkwardness of Zoom dinner parties, our community connections have become more important than ever.

The Raymond Village Library is not fully funded
by the town of Raymond and nearly half of
the library's budget comes from grants and
private donations collected during their fall
Annual Appeal, now under way.
One of those community institutions is now asking for your help. Unlike many similar libraries, the Raymond Village Library is not fully funded by the town of Raymond. Nearly half of the library’s budget comes from grants and private donations. This means that the funds used to purchase new books, pay for subscriptions, and support their wonderful librarians come directly from generous community donations during their fall Annual Appeal. Raymond Village Library cannot function without the financial support of its patrons and donors.

This investment in our community is especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Raymond Village Library has played an essential role in helping Raymond residents navigate this strange and unprecedented time.

As soon as Maine’s COVID restrictions allowed, the Raymond Village Library began offering curbside pickup of books, movies, and children’s materials. The initial curbside pickup program was incredibly well received.

“Our pick-up was so popular we started running out of bags for the books,” said Allison Griffin, Director of the Raymond Village Library. This service is still available through phone, email, and the library’s website at

As the entire world stayed at home and much of our lives moved online, the free internet connection offered by Raymond Village Library became more important than ever. Generous community donations this fall allowed the library to provide additional outdoor seating around picnic tables so that the wi-fi was easily accessible even if the library was closed. In addition to providing internet service, the library also has a professional Zoom account, so that library events, such as the monthly book club or community classes, can be held safely online.

Some of the most perennially popular activities at the Raymond Village Library are the weekly baby and toddler story time hours. When social distancing requirements made those gatherings impossible, Children’s Librarian Karen Perry got creative. The library now offers weekly Story Time At Home kits complete with crafts, books, and songs to help encourage a love of literacy in even the littlest library patrons. These kits, as well as teen and tween crafts, are available every week and are always free of charge.

In addition to the take-home Story Time kits, Perry also created two popular outdoor Story Walks. The first, Jack in the Beanstalk, wound its way around the Raymond Community Garden this summer while the second, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, follows the store window fronts in the Raymond Shopping Center.

All of these activities are only possible thanks to the generosity of Raymond Village Library patrons. Unfortunately, even as the pandemic has made so many library services invaluable, it also has disrupted many of the library’s traditional fundraising activities. The Raymond Village Library truly needs our help this year more than ever.

The library’s 2020 Annual Appeal aims to raise $40,000. This amount will allow the library to expand staff hours in addition to continuing regular (or, regular for the pandemic) services. Donations to the Raymond Village Library are accepted in person, through the mail, or at their website: Contributions of any amount will allow the Raymond Village Library to continue providing books and activities to babies and toddlers, internet access to students completing their work online, new books to homebound seniors, and classes to all members of our community. Together, let’s make sure our library remains available for all our friends and neighbors during this difficult time. <

Friday, September 18, 2020

Local public libraries beef up activities, programs for public heading into fall season

By Elizabeth Richards

The Raymond Village Library resumed walk-in
services on Sept. 1 and the public is encouraged
to visit and check out library materials, use
computers or shop the library's ongoing book sale.
Both the Raymond Village Library and the Windham
Public Library are set for a number of events and
activities this fall. SUBMITTED PHOTO

As fall approaches, the public libraries in Windham and Raymond continue to serve the communities with online programs, curbside pickup, and limited in-person hours of operation.

In Windham, Library Director Jen Alvino said staff members are prepared for the busy fall season ahead.  

“The important thing to note at this time is that all our programs at Windham Public Library are continuing online,” Alvino said. “We have lots going on and something for all ages, but everything will be posted on our Facebook or done with staff through Zoom.”

These online programs include Story Time and Books and Babies either posted or held via Facebook Live at their usual times each week. Story Time happens on Mondays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m., and Books and Babies is on Tuesdays at 10:15 a.m.

The Windham Public Library has a regular Book Group and Socrates Café program offered on Zoom.  On Sept. 22 at 4 p.m., via Facebook Live, Tim Caverly will present The Allagash – New England’s Wild River, a virtual canoeing experience on the 92-mile Allagash River complete with lore, legends and characters that Caverly experienced as a Maine Park Ranger.

For more information and program links, contact Reference and Technology Librarian Ray Marcotte at

The Windham library also offers a writing group, an Author Talk and Art Nights online, Alvino said.

According to Alvino, the library is still operating with reduced hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday because of the pandemic. Curbside pick-up is available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We have a limit of 15 people in the building and we ask that people wear a mask and keep their visits under 30 minutes,” Alvino added.

Because of the limitations on number of people and time limit for visits, the library cannot accommodate students after school as they have in the past, according to a notice on the Windham Public Library website. 

“Winsome Wednesdays,” a program designed for grades K to 6, will feature a new video on Facebook most Wednesdays with “a smorgasbord of interesting activities to try out by yourself, or with your family,” according to the description on the website.

The Raymond Village Library (RVL) is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and

Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The library resumed walk-in services on Sept. 1, and patrons can feel free to drop in and check out materials, use computers or shop the library’s ongoing book sale, according to their September newsletter.

Reserving time for computer access at the Raymond Village Library is highly recommended at this time because of the limited availability of computer stations.

Face coverings and social distancing guidelines are in effect, and access is limited to five people in the library at a time. No-contact parking lot pickups of materials to check out are still available by contacting the library for a pickup time.

While the library isn’t currently offering story time, plenty of activities remain to captivate and entertain all ages, Raymond Village Library Board Member Briana Bizier said.

“The Children’s librarian, Karen, who is amazing, still has the story time packets that parents can pick up, and those are for all ages,” Bizier said. “The packets include books, songs and a craft.”

The library has also set up a new story walk at the Raymond Shopping Center, Bizier said. 

The Raymond Village Library children’s librarian worked with the owner of the shopping center and independent stores to display a page from “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault in storefront windows throughout the center. 

This story walk is in addition to the “Jack and the Beanstalk” story walk in the community garden next to the library.

With community assistance, the Raymond Village Library also recently purchased picnic tables to expand their outdoor seating area. Bizier said this area will be available throughout the fall so that school children, and anyone else, can access the free wifi at the library.

Bizier said that in addition to the indoor book and movie sale the library has going, they are selling “some really cool Maine and Raymond T-shirts” as well.  She said that the library plans to hold its holiday basket fundraiser again this year.

The library also will conduct a “Grow with Google” workshop online from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14.  This workshop will offer tips on selling online, including the benefits of setting up an online store with Shopify and how to list products on Google Shopping.  Registration will open soon. Interested individuals should contact the Raymond Village Library for more information.

The Raymond Village Library will also host a virtual discussion of “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead, on Monday Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. through Zoom. Participants should contact the library for specific meeting information.

For a listing of additional activities this fall offered by both the Raymond Village Library and the Windham Public Library, the public is asked to review up-to-date information on the library websites, as well as on their Facebook pages. <

Friday, June 26, 2020

Raymond Village Library offers curbside pickup

Raymond Village Library has
launched a new curbside pickup
program for books, audiobooks,
and movies. PHOTO BY
By Briana Bizier 

Whether your're heading to the beach, enjoying your backyard hammock, or just trying to ignore the daily news, now is the perfect time to pick up a good book. Happily, the Raymond Village Library is here to help.
This month, the Raymond Village Library started a new curbside pickup program for books, audiobooks, and movies. Library patrons can check out books or movies by calling the library at 655-4282, emailing, or visiting the library’s website at 
The library’s entire catalogue is online, so Raymond residents can browse from the comfort of their own home.
As my 9-year-old daughter Sage discovered last week, the librarians are also happy to offer their suggestions for reading materials. Karen Perry suggested that Sage read a book called Epoca: The Tree of Ecrof. After being book-deprived since COVID-19 forced the Raymond Village Library to close their doors in March, voracious-reader Sage was delighted to have a new fantasy novel to devour.
“It was so good,” Sage told me. “It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.”
Of course, we called the library the next day to reserve a new stack of books recommended by the librarians.
Once library patrons have placed their orders, either online, through the website, or over the phone, the books or movies they have reserved are placed in a labeled bag by the north-facing handicapped entrance for a safe, contact-free pickup. On the morning we returned Epoca, several other library orders were awaiting pickup by the backdoor.
The curbside pickup has been very popular,” said Library Director Allison Griffin.
In addition to the Raymond Village Library’s books, movies, and audiobooks, children’s librarian Karen Perry has created special activity packs for young children who have been missing the library’s regular baby and preschool story time. The Baby Time Bundles each include three board books, an index card with a song or bouncy game, and a second card with a related activity parents can do with their child.
Karen’s Story Time Sets, made for preschool-age children, have also been very popular. These weekly pre-packaged sets focus on the alphabet and include activities like making an ABC dinosaur or a FeedMe paper bag puppet. Older children, like my six-year-old Ian, love the library’s activity backpacks that are filled with Legos, building sets, robots, or everything you need to be an outdoor explorer. The Baby Time Bundles, Story Time Sets, and activity backpacks are also available for curbside pickup. They can be reserved by calling or emailing the library.
Finally, for library lovers with limited mobility, the Raymond Village Library is also offering limited home delivery service. Please contact the library for more information about their home delivery program, or to schedule a delivery.
Despite all the changes COVID-19 has brought to our little corner of the world, it’s encouraging to know that we can all still relax with a good book thanks to the efforts of the Raymond Village Library. <

Friday, June 19, 2020

Book lending resumes at Windham and Raymond libraries

Both the Windham Public Library (shown) and the Raymond Village
Library have reopened and are once again offering checkout
for books and other items after several months of only being
able to provide online/digital services as a result of the
By Elizabeth Richards

June brings good news for library lovers in Windham and Raymond, as both the Windham Public Library and the Raymond Village Library resume lending physical materials after an extended period of offering online/digital services only.

Library staff were far from idle when their doors were closed to the public, even if traditional library services weren’t available. At the Windham Public Library, some of the things staff worked on included online programming, including story times for all ages, craft activities, discussion groups and book chats; did inventory, removed old materials and ordered new items for the collection; conducted welfare checks on community members; provided phone or email support to patrons; planned the online Summer Reading Program; and instituted curbside service after securing grant funding, and participated in statewide discussions about library services and best practices, said Director Jennifer Alvino.

In Raymond, staff spent a lot of time helping patrons get set up to access digital/online resources.  The library’s book club met via Zoom, and staff provided reference services online or by telephone according to Library Director Allison Griffin.  The Children’s librarian also spent time compiling baby book bundles, which contain three board books, a song or game, and another activity related to the books, and similar Storytime sets for preschoolers that include a related craft and materials.

Both libraries kept patrons updated and engaged through their websites and Facebook pages while closed, including posting recorded story times, craft ideas, resources and announcements., the Windham Public Library is open to Windham residents or current Windham Public Library card holders only.  There is a limit of 10 people inside the library at one time, and the first two open hours of the day are only open to vulnerable patrons, including seniors and those with underlying health concerns.  The library will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Their curbside service also continues Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Alvino said that although things look different at the library, and hours have changed, they continue to work hard to provide the best possible service under the current circumstances.

“We will slowly bring back services and hours as it is safe to do so but our main goal is and always remains to provide our patrons with the services and materials that they need from us,” she said.

In Raymond, the library building is still not open to the public, but no-contact parking lot pick up of books, audiobooks, and movies has been available since June 1.  Patrons can use their online account to put items on hold, or call/email the library to request materials, including the baby book bundles and Storytime bundles. 

The Raymond Village Library is also offering limited home deliveries to patrons unable to come to the library. 

Curbside pickup will continue through the month of June, with a goal of opening the building in a limited way in July. 

Because it’s a small library, Griffin said, there’s a need to control how many people are inside at a time. They will either designate someone to ensure that limit is followed, or they will offer “library by appointment,” she said.
Currently, however, they are still trying to get some of the protective barriers in place – and finding plexiglass is proving difficult.

The Raymond Village Library currently has both a book sale and a plant sale taking place. The plant sale had been by appointment only, but this week remaining available plants were placed out front with payment envelopes.  The sale is operating on the honor system, and patrons can place payment envelopes in the book drop.  Anyone wishing to pay via credit card can contact the library to make those arrangements.

A link to a document listing items available in the book sale is posted on the Raymond Village Library Facebook page.  Listings will be updated weekly, and the sale continues for the month of June.  In addition to individual books for adults and children, leveled reading book bundles are available, as are some movies.

The staff at the libraries in Windham and Raymond both remain committed to offering their valuable services to the communities they serve in whatever ways they can.

“As a community gathering place, I think the library’s role has shifted to finding alternative ways to connect with our patrons,” Alvino said.  “For now, since our in-person programming cannot take place, we are continuing online programming utilizing Youtube, Facebook Live, and Zoom.”  Other services, such as access to public computers, will be slowly resumed when alternative ways to offer them safely are found, she added. 

In Raymond, Griffin said they saw a large increase in the use of digital and online resources, particularly ebooks.  She said many people who had not explored these resources before had a chance to learn how to use them.
Griffin said that she believes that the increased use of digital tools will continue, but she said that there were many patrons who were not interested in using those resources.  She said that when the library can safely reopen, digital resources won’t change the way many patrons use the library.  

Both libraries offer a range of online services and resources, which can be explored via their Facebook pages and websites.  One unique resource that Windham library card holders can access is an online database of courses called Universal Class, which offers classes from Excel to Knitting to Cake Decorating, Alvino said.

For more information or to access digital services visit the library websites at and <

Friday, October 4, 2019

Lifelong love of local library inspires Eagle Scout project

Jamie Louko (photo by Tammy Louko)
By Briana Bizier

Not many seniors in high school can say they have led a construction project, submitted building permits, or faced the town board. Yet Windham High School student and Raymond resident, Jamie Louko has done all three as part of his process to become an Eagle Scout.

Think of getting the rank of Eagle Scout as going through high school with a very big project at the end,” said Dr. Nick Bizier, Eagle Scout and Windham High School chemistry teacher. “By the time you apply for an Eagle Scout, you have to have shown proficiency in many different areas.”

That big project at the end must be a contribution of value to the community. Prospective Eagle Scouts must propose their project to the BSA and then execute the project themselves by leading other scouts and members of the community.

There was no doubt in my mind that my Eagle Scout project would be at the library,” Louko told an audience of over sixty community members at the dedication of his completed service project, an outdoor gazebo dedicated to the memory of Raymond volunteer and community leader Betty McDermott. Louko spoke to the audience at the gazebo’s dedication, he shared fond childhood memories of reading the Warriors children’s book series in the back of the Raymond Village Library while his parents browsed the adult sections. With his Eagle Scout project, he hoped to share his childhood love of reading with the next generation of Raymond children. Inspired by the gazebo in the Raymond community garden, Louko decided to build a similar structure closer to the library. Louko presented his service project plan to the Raymond Library Board of Trustees in May of 2018 and received their enthusiastic approval.

However, as Louko discovered during the course of the gazebo’s planning and construction, building Louko’s original plan for the gazebo proved to be too close to a land lot line, and his application for a building permit was turned down by the select board. This setback forced a creative reevaluation of his original plan.
projects are rarely straightforward.

We were forced to move to the front of the library, which ended up being an even better place to build,” Louko told me. “I am very thankful because I think it was for the better.”

After submitting his revised plans to the select board and finally acquiring his building permit, Louko needed to contact donors willing to provide supplies for the actual construction. Several organizations generously agreed to provide the building materials, including P&K Sand and Gravel, Hancock Lumber, Roosevelt Trail Garden Center, Machine Lumber, and Louko’s neighbor David Lind.

In order to turn a pile of donated supplies into a beautiful gazebo, Louko turned to the other members of Troop 800. “The only workers I had to help build my project were either scouts or scouts' parents,” Louko said. “Leading my fellow scouts is an important step in doing my project because it teaches me so much about how to lead effectively and what my leadership style is.”

The Eagle Scout project gets at the heart of what experiential learning really is,” Dr. Bizier added. “It teaches you to make lots of those little adjustments that are necessary to bring a complicated project to life.” the case of Jamie Louko’s Eagle Scout project, his gazebo both embodies and honors the spirit of community service. Before construction began on the gazebo, the Raymond Village Library Board approached Jamie about dedicating the structure he planned to build to Raymond resident and longtime volunteer Betty McDermott. Louko agreed, adding that the McDermott family are his next-door neighbors.

This is a great example of how Eagle Scouts can honor the past and contribute to the future through service to their community,” Dr. Bizier, Louko’s former chemistry teacher, adds. “I think it’s a wonderful thing to be an Eagle Scout.”

The new gazebo is open to the public and can be found just outside the Raymond Village Library at 3
Meadow Road.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Raymond residents honor Betty McDermott at dedication ceremony

Eagle Scout Jamie Louko, who built the gazebo in
Betty McDermott's honor, shared his memories of the well loved volunteer
By Briana Bizier        

Can one person truly make a difference in their community? Last Saturday, the answer to that question was a resounding yes as the Raymond Village Library dedicated their new gazebo to the memory of long-time Raymond resident Betty McDermott and the spirit of community service that she embodied.

A devoted volunteer and advocate for Raymond, McDermott served the town in many capacities. She was a member of Raymond’s Board of Selectmen for nine years, serving as the Chair for two of those years. She was also a charter member of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society, and she served as the Treasurer of the Raymond Women’s Club, which built and ran the Raymond Village Library.

kmorrellandsons@gmail.comThis library exists because of Betty,” Sheila Bourque, head of Raymond Village Library’s Board of Directors, told a crowd of over sixty people at Saturday’s dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony. Sheila praised the efforts of local volunteers not only in the library by also in the Raymond Recreation program, the Raymond Lions Club, and the Raymond Arts Alliance.

These programs are all made possible by the efforts of our volunteers,” Sheila said.

Maine State Senator Bill Diamond and state Representative Jessica Fay also praised Betty’s service.

To be honest, I was pretty intimidated by her,” Fay admitted as the audience laughed. “Betty was smart, powerful, and had the courage of her convictions.” Fay also applauded Betty’s extensive service. “Volunteers hold our community together,” she concluded.

Don Willard, Raymond’s current Town Manager, echoed Jessica’s assessment that Betty McDermott could be intimidating. However, he also spoke of his close relationship with the McDermott family. “I consider myself a surrogate McDermott,” Willard said.

Willard recounted several of the many projects McDermott helped to advance, from extending the water line to improving Route 302 to constructing the new fire station and elementary school. “Betty loved the town, she had a vision for the town, and she wanted to move the town forward,” Willard told the crowd as he stood in front of the gazebo dedicated to McDermott’s memory. “She really tried to make a difference.”

Frank McDermott remembers his wife
This new gazebo was built over the summer by Raymond Scout Jamie Louko, along with the members of BSA Troop 800, as part of Louko’s Eagle Scout project.

When I thought about my childhood,” Louko said at the dedication, “I spent every weekend here at the library. There was no doubt in my mind that my project should be here. I want kids to have the same great experience I had.”

Betty McDermott was also a part of Louko’s childhood. Louko lives next door to the McDermott family, and he told the audience that he remembered selling popcorn to Betty as a Scout fundraiser.
We live in a very rural part of Raymond,” Frank McDermott, Betty’s husband, explained. “And Jaimie was the only kid who ever came to our house for Halloween.”’s oldest son, George also recounted his memories of her involvement in the library, from organizing rummage sales to their family’s frequent visits to the library’s previous location. Just like Jamie Louko, the Scout who built the gazebo, George shared fond memories of childhood afternoons spent at the Raymond Village Library looking for the newest Hardy Boys book. Thanks to the efforts of Betty, Jaime, and the many volunteers who are following in their footsteps, the next generation of Raymond children will be able to enjoy their favorite books in the shade of the library’s outdoor gazebo.

This gazebo is not just for Betty,” Frank McDermott declared shortly before cutting the red ribbon and officially opening the new structure. “This is for anyone who’s ever donated their time. People ask, ‘What can I do?’ You tell them: ‘You can volunteer.’”

The Betty McDermott Memorial Gazebo outside the Raymond Village Library at 3 Meadow Road is open to the public. If you would like to check out a book to read while you enjoy the gazebo, the library is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Raymond’s best kept secret: Father and son artists to display work at Raymond Village Library

Holden and Don Willard
By Mary-Therese Duffy

If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Raymond Village Library recently, you may want to check out the latest art display that is running currently and will continue to do so until the end of August. One reason why this exhibition is special is that the father and son artists duo, Don and Holden Willard, are showing their work together for the first time. Another distinct factor is that, although Holden has made a name for himself as an artist, many in the community may be surprised to discover that his talent may have been handed down from his father.

Don is best known as the Raymond Town Manager, having dedicated much of his time to that position in service of the residents. Most, however, have no idea that this is also a man of great talent and creativity.  Having been around farming and mechanical equipment his entire life, he idolized his dairy farmer grandfather who survived the Great Depression, and like most of his contemporaries, had a natural “make do” ethic and attitude that included the repair and reuse of anything that they could.
He explained that the farm had stockpiles of metal parts and other potentially useful materials and objects at the ready, to facilitate such repairs and often for fabrications of useful tools and objects. 

Don’s grandfather encouraged him to explore his interest in mechanical objects. “I had the opportunity to delve into the range of sharp and dangerous objects that children are mostly advised to avoid,” recalled Don. “My first experience was straightening old barn nails with a hammer on an anvil, followed later by chasing new threads on antique square headed bolts and nuts with an ancient tap and die set. I processed buckets full of both for reuse, which I found oddly satisfying.”

Don became interested in ‘found objects, assemblage sculpture’ which intensified after obtaining his first welding machine and associated tools. Now known as “Steam Punk”, this is a genre of art and fashion that draws upon elements and objects from the dawn of the industrial revolution, assembled in a sort of science fiction imagined future. “Such things appear quite anachronistic when compared to our modern plastic derived throwaway society consumer objects,” noted Don. “It was for me just a natural extension of the materials and things that I like to work with.”

"Steam Punk" art by Don Willard
Never actually thinking of himself as an artist until invited to show in the Maine Coast Artists Exhibit in Rockport at the director’s suggestion, Don recalled; “I did that, and I remember the gallery opening for the show. There were many wealthy folks there all dressed up and milling about, admiring a turtle that I had made from an inverted mechanical cow watering bowl and some old trolley line hardware. I imagined that my grandfather would have gotten a real kick out of that scene.”

When asked what the most challenging and most inspiring aspects of his craft were, Don stated that one of the greatest challenges is finding the era/period correct objects necessary at a reasonable cost to make interesting, authentic feeling sculptures. “At one time, every farmer had piles of the junk that I like,” Don said. “Today such junk, like the farmers and tinkerers that coveted these materials are pretty scarce. As for fulfillment, I mostly do it for my own enjoyment as it reminds me of my childhood and provides me with a deep appreciation for what it took to survive before our postmodern consumer culture. Our ancestors made many things for everyday use as a regular part of life. Having such skills today is still not a bad idea in my view.”

Holden's art work
As for his son, Holden, he has been making quite a name for himself with his “Best in Show” award from “The Works”, a worldwide competition sponsored by the Cultural Center of Cape Cod. Having submitted two pieces, it was his painting, “Red Portrait” that garnered the First place winning this past February. A 2017 graduate of Windham High School, Holden is a committed fine artist whose natural talent is fully resonant and alive with in his work.

Holden stated that he began his interest in art as a young child playing with small coloring books and empty pads of paper. “I didn't become serious until my senior year, however,” Holden said. “With the support of high school mentors, Jeffery Bell and Joe McLaughlin: both inspired a motivation within myself which I had never received from anyone before.” Holden continued by stating that he is inspired by the people he meets, and the people he holds close within his creative community. “Everyone I paint, I paint for specific reasons, but mainly I am interested in displaying people who inspire me in one way, shape or form.”

He has always seen himself as a creative person. “I don't think I could live my life happily and to its fullest if art was not a major part of it,” Holden reflected. “I had been told for so long that being an artist was impossible, but after growing and maturing I've realized that a life lived unhappy and full of regret is no life at all.  I will do what I love, no matter what.  But I will leave conceptual artist John Baldessari to explain this drive: ‘My advice? Don't go into art for fame or fortune. Do it because you cannot not do it."’

The hardest part of creating, Holden said, is creating itself. “The act of creating is a strenuous and laborious process. On my larger works, I can spend anywhere from up to three weeks to multiple months... fussing and pushing until all the parts begin to feel whole.  It's easier to do this when you're interested in your subject matter, and thus your work ethic will improve... it's just a matter of sticking to it. I love to see the reactions of my models, I will have them come in for multiple sessions on occasion, and I am always touched by the beautiful responses and positive reinforcement I receive. I am always filled with creative resolve when a fellow artist within my community reaches out to critique some of my work and give constructive feedback.  Creating connections between the artist and the model and within the community of artists that surround me... are why I create.”

To meet and talk with the both Don and Holden, there will be an open house on Monday, August 5 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Raymond Village Library, 3 Meadow Road and his co-hosted by The Raymond Arts Alliance. For more information about this exhibit, call 207-712-6200