Showing posts with label Town of Windham. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Town of Windham. Show all posts

Friday, May 31, 2024

Public Safety Memorial a tribute to Windham first responders

By Ed Pierce

When Windham’s first responders and public safety members moved into their newly remodeled building on Gray Road in 2022, something was missing. Plans had been underway for several years to create and place a monument outside the building as a tribute to those who render assistance to the public when emergencies arise, put out fires, and keep residents safe 24 hours a day.

The new Windham Public Safety Memorial
was officially dedicated during a ceremony
on Memorial Day outside the Windham
Public Safety Building on Gray Road. The 
black granite monument honors current and 
past first responders, firefighters, police
officers, dispatchers, and emergency medical
technicians who have devoted their lives to
serving the town. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE    
Lengthy delays from the monument company prevented that from happening, but on Memorial Day, Windham’s Public Safety Memorial was unveiled and dedicated outside the facility. The monument recognizes the contributions that police officers and firefighters have made to the town through decades of service and is intended as a permanent way to say thanks to those who have served as a member of Windham Fire/Rescue, Police, Rescue Association, or as a dispatcher for the Town of Windham.

Surrounding the monument is a courtyard made up of benches to sit and reflect and special brick paver stones for families of first responders. The monument itself is black granite and stands 6 feet in height with white lettering and contains logos of the Windham Police and the Windham Fire/Rescue Departments, an eagle, and the American flag. Space is available on the monument to memorialize the names of police officers or firefighters should they perish in the line of duty in the future.

During the dedication event, Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield and Windham Fire/Rescue Chief Brent Libby shared their thoughts about the monument.

“Today’s activities are the culmination of two to two-and-a-half years of work,” Schofield said. “This recognizes people in public service to the community, and it means a great deal to all of us.”

Schofield introduced Karen Lewsen, the wife of the late former Windham Police Chief Richard B. “Rick” Lewsen Jr., whom he replaced as top law enforcement officer for the town in 2015. A granite bench in the courtyard is dedicated to Chief Lewsen, who died in 2022.

“We are grateful for the work that Nancy Graves, Fire Rescue Coordinator for Windham Fire Rescue did on this and for all those who placed the paver stones and worked on this monument,” Schofield said.

Windham Fire/Rescue Chief Brent Libby said the goal of the project has been to salute current and past public safety members, volunteers, and call company members, and hundreds of individuals who have served through the years with the Windham Fire Department and the Windham Police Department.

“Our goal is to dedicate and unveil this monument as a tribute and remembrance,” Libby said. “The space on the monument is reserved for those who give the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, but it hasn’t happened, and we’re committed to keeping it that way.”

Libby also pointed out that another of the black granite benches in the courtyard is inscribed “Honor Valor Sacrifice” and he said that exemplifies the mindset of everyone who serves as a firefighter, police officer, or emergency medical technician in Windham.

“Those are core tenets that police and firefighters live by every day,” Libby said.

Rev. Tim Higgins of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church said he recognizes the courtyard and the new monument at the Windham Public Safety Building as a sacred and meaningful space.

“When you come to this space to be quiet and sit and remember those who came before us, it’s really like visiting a sacred space,” Higgins said. “Sacred space is critical in our community as it is holy.”

Higgins then offered a blessing to those to whom the new monument is dedicated.

“Bless them and bless their safety,” he said. “And bless the holy space.”

He then led those attending the monument dedication in reciting the Firefighters Prayer and the Police Prayer.

Additional paver stones are available for the Public Safety Building courtyard and may be purchased by calling Nancy Graves at 207-892-1911. <

Friday, February 16, 2024

Windham council renews annual contract with Animal Refuge League

By Ed Pierce

Some of the most vulnerable members of the community will continue to have someone watching out for them as the Windham Town Council has approved an annual contract with The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

Adoptable dogs Traced and Zinna romp around following a
snowstorm at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland
in Westbrook. The Town of Windham has renewed its annual
contract with the Animal Refuge League to help care for
strays picked up locally. COURTESY PHOTO 
The new contract starts July 1 and runs through June 30, 2025 at a cost of $27,098 for the temporary care and shelter for stray, abandoned, confiscated or relinquished animals collected by Windham’s animal Control Officer and transported to the ARLGP shelter in Westbrook.

During a town council meeting Jan. 23, Windham Assistant Town Manager Bob Burns told the council that the rate for the contract’s renewal is based upon 2020 U.S. Census figures for the town, which recorded 18,434 residents living in Windham. Under terms of this year’s contract, the per capita rate charged by the Animal Refuge League for the town rose 4 cents overall, going from $1.43 to $1.47 per resident.

“ARLGP then collects and reimburses Windham $25 for an animal impound fee on animals recovered by the Windham Animal Control Officer,” Burns said. “The impound fee rises to $50 for a second offense and $100 for each subsequent offense.”

Maine law requires municipalities to provide shelter at a state licensed animal control shelter for strayed and lost dogs, cats, and domesticated animals that are a problem in the community and undomesticated animals that pose a threat to public health or safety, and requires that the municipality also must provide services relating to the humane disposition of said animals in the event they are not claimed by their owners.

Funding obtained by the communities it serves allows the shelter to offer veterinary care for strays and provide adoption services for as many pets as possible into responsible and caring homes. The ARLGP organization is an open-admission shelter, giving every pet hope for a new life.

It strives to create awareness and support for the humane treatment of all animals, end animal overpopulation through proper education while promoting spaying and neutering, and only makes end-of-life decisions for animals based on safety, health, and animal welfare considerations.

According to information posted on the ARLGP website, last year the shelter adopted 3,012 pets from its facility including 1,979 cats, 796 dogs, and 237 bunnies, birds, and other animals. It provided training classes for 549 dogs and handlers and reached 2,116 children with its humane education outreach program in the area in 2023.

The shelter also took in 1,521 animals overall in 2023 from across Maine and the United States and worked to place 981 strays seized from inhumane environments to good homes. Reports also show that a total of 954 pets in the Greater Portland area received clinical care, pet food and reunification services from ARLGP last year and 1,515 animals were placed in foster care situations while awaiting permanent new homes.

Windham has contracted with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland for stray care services since 1990.

Statistics compiled by the Animal Refuge League show that 222 pets were adopted by residents of Windham in the last year. Some 142 stray animals were picked up in Windham and housed at the ARL shelter in 2023, and the facility processed 121 surrenders from Windham.

Animal control services in Windham are administered by the Windham Police Department through an annual budget of $77,046. That amount includes the annual salary for the animal control officer, animal control uniforms, equipment and supplies, and the services provided by the shelter.

Councilors voted unanimously to approve the new contract. <

Friday, January 5, 2024

Year in Review 2023 (Part One)

2023: A year of collaboration, connection, and community

Looking back upon the past year is a great opportunity for all of us to assess and reflect on what has been accomplished in the community and to review where the towns of Windham and Raymond and area residents are headed in 2024.

Windham High players celebrate after defeating
Oxford Hills, 3-1, on June 20 in Gorham to win the
Class A State  Softball championship. 
There were plenty of notable achievements and significant milestones to mention in 2023 and much more to come in the new year ahead.

Following a thorough review of all issues of The Windham Eagle from 2023, we’ve chosen to highlight the top three stories for each month as featured in the newspaper and we wish everyone a healthy and prosperous year ahead in 2024.


Diamond forms foundation to help stop child homicides

Former State Senator Bill Diamond of Windham created a nonprofit foundation to protect children called “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes,” which is duly filed with the Maine Secretary of State and supported and guided by an advisory board consisting of experts in the field of child protection and child welfare.

According to Diamond, the new foundation will help prevent child homicides and the abuse of children who are under the supervision or direct care of the State of Maine or who are or have been associated with the state’s Child Protective System.

“Children associated with state care have been dying at record levels, in fact, as recently as 2021 a record number of children died, many were victims of child homicides,” Diamond said. “The chilling question is: How many more children must die before we make meaningful changes?”

Diamond said he was first made aware of the issues affecting child homicide in Maine and the state’s child protection system in 2001.

“The problem has continued to persist over the past 22 years under four different gubernatorial administrations, Independent, Republican, and Democrat,” he said. “The problems are not partisan based. They are the concern of all of us. This is the most important thing I’ve ever been able to do, nothing comes close.”

To learn more about the issue, Diamond said he’s attended many child-homicide trials and sentencings over the past years and each time he does, he’s made aware of the gruesome and sad details of an abused child dying needlessly. To create and launch this new initiative, Diamond has committed $25,000 of his own money to provide the support necessary to get the foundation functioning without delay.

He’s also assembled a distinguished advisory board for the foundation including former Maine Gov. John Baldacci; former Maine Assistant Attorney General Lou Ann Clifford; former Maine Attorney General Mike Carpenter; Dr. Amanda Brownell, a pediatric physician and Medical Director of the Spurwink Center for Safe and Healthy Families; former State Senator and State Representative Joyce Maker; and the former Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and a national advisor on child safety, Michael Petit.

“It’s time we committed ourselves as citizens, government agencies, legislators, and media to ending these needless child deaths. Too many children keep dying and nothing seems to change,” Diamond said. <

Windham awards new contract to town manager

By virtue of a new contract, the Town of Windham will continue to tap into the experience, expertise, and leadership abilities of Barry Tibbetts as town manager. Tibbetts, who was appointed by the Windham Town Council as the interim town manager in November 2019, assumed duties as the fulltime town manager in March 2020.

In extending a new three-year contract to Tibbetts, councilors authorized him to perform the functions and duties of the town manager and to hold all offices as specified in the town's charter and to complete other duties and functions. Under terms of the contract, Windham will pay Tibbetts an annual base salary of $160,741.80, which Phyllis Moss, the town’s human resources director detailed in a memo for councilors as being in line with compensation for other town managers leading nearby communities.

Based upon the new agreement, Tibbetts would receive cost-of-living adjustments for town employees starting in July 2023 based upon results of his annual performance evaluation. He would also be eligible for a longevity increase should he stay through the third year of the contract in Fiscal Year 2025-2026.

“I truly believe if you had not come to Windham when you did, we would not be in the position that we are in,” Councilor Jarrod Maxfield told Tibbetts. “Windham is getting a lot more than we’re paying for.”

In August 2022, Tibbetts was honored with the Maine Town, City and County Management Association’s 2022 Leadership Award during the association’s annual convention at Sugarloaf. The award is presented to recognize a Public Administrator in the state for a particularly bold and innovative project or for solving an unusually difficult problem and then playing a key role in developing the project as well as in implementing it.

As town manager, Tibbetts has spearheaded efforts to acquire and conserve the East Windham Conservation Area, Windham’s new sewer and wastewater treatment project and to alleviate persistent traffic congestion in North Windham along Route 302 through creation of a system of new access roads and sophisticated high-tech traffic signals. <

Town hopes sidewalk improvements spur South Windham growth

The revitalization of South Windham moved another step closer when members of the Windham Town council have endorsed submission of an application for Community Development Block Grant funds to move forward with a concept planning study for sidewalk reconstruction in the area.

Town councilors approved the application during a meeting and the sidewalk funding application is expected to be completed and submitted by the end of January. The proposed concept planning study would review the most cost-effective way to reconstruct existing sidewalks and construct new sidewalks running from Depot Street in South Windham to the Mountain Division Trail.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told councilors that the proposed sidewalk improvements are intended to improve safety for pedestrians in South Windham and boost economic growth along Main Street there.

According to Tibbetts, the project would rebuild some 1,250 feet of existing sidewalk along the east side of Main Street from the Blue Seal store near the Mountain Division Trail crossing to Depot Street in the center of South Windham Village.

He said other planned improvements would replace old and failing retaining walls along the 1,250-foot section of rebuilt sidewalk on the east side of Main Street and to install pedestrian lighting along that same 1,250-foot section of rebuilt sidewalk.

The project would also create 1,250 feet of new 5-foot-wide paved sidewalk with granite curbing along the west side of Main Street from the Mountain Division Trail crossing to Depot Street in the center of South Windham Village.

The new sidewalk coincides with a project that was completed last fall that repaved the parking lot at the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District at 35 Main St. in South Windham which shares a driveway with the town’s South Windham Fire Station. Reconfiguring the parking lot was a collaborative effort between Cumberland County, the Soil and Water Conservation District and the Town of Windham.

During the June 2022 Annual Town Meeting, Windham voters authorized a $275,000 bond for creation of a sidewalk from Blue Seal Feed on Gray Road to Depot Street in South Windham sometime in 2024 or 2025. <


Windham student wins state VFW 2023 ‘Voice of Democracy’ award

An audio essay by Hunter Edson, a Windham Christian Academy senior, was judged as the best in the state in the 2023 Voice of Democracy contest.

Edson had captured the Windham VFW Post 10643 Voice of Democracy title in November and then won the district competition to advance to the state contest, where he was awarded first place at a dinner at the Augusta Civic Center on Jan. 21. Winning the state award means that Edson’s audio essay qualified him for the national VFW Voice of Democracy contest.

The “Voice of Democracy” competition is open to all high school students, grades 9 to 12, including those who are home-schooled. For this year, students were asked to write and record a 3- to 5-minute essay on an audio CD about this year's theme "Why is the Veteran Important?"

In winning the Maine Voice of Democracy contest, Edson also qualifies for a four-day, all-expense paid trip to Washington for the national competition. The annual competition was established in 1947 and encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society and provides students with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money. The national first-place scholarship prize is $35,000, with second- and third-place national winners taking home $21,000 and $15,000 respectfully. Each year more than 25,000 students across America submit audio essays for the competition.

Windham VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman said that Edson’s presentation is worthy of the awards and attention it has received.

“I think Hunter Edson’s Voice of Democracy presentation is so powerful for two reasons,” Goodman said. “First, throughout his speech, Hunter posed questions directly related to the topic which engaged the listeners, and secondly, he provided specific examples and thoughtful, interesting answers to those questions. He gave factual answers about veterans but also went beyond those to give his personal reflections on what the term veteran means to him.” <

Woodbrey confident in leading Windham’s MSSPA

When the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals was looking for a new leader to replace longtime executive director Meris Bickford, it didn’t have to search very far. Kathy Woodbrey of Raymond, who has been part of the leadership team at MSSPA for the last 11 years, has assumed the leadership role for the nonprofit organization and is eager to put what she’s learned through the years to good use.

Woodbrey was born in Pennsylvania and her family moved to the mid-coast of Maine the summer before she entered sixth grade. She graduated from Lincoln Academy in Newcastle and went on to receive an Associate of Science degree in animal medical technology from the University of Maine at Orono. In 2004 and 2005, Woodbrey attended Andover College to study accounting and in 2021 she earned a Non-Profit Management certificate from the University of Southern Maine.

Based in Windham, the mission of the MSSPA is to provide refuge, rehabilitation, and placement of seized equines. MSSPA does not charge for its shelter services and seeks no reimbursement from any public source. Horses cared for by the MSSPA come from Maine law enforcement officials and most of them have been abused or neglected.

The MSSPA’s goal for each horse is rehabilitation and a new home, but if no suitable adoption is found, horses may live out their natural lives at the organization’s farm.

“I have to say that our local community is incredibly supportive of the MSSPA. Members of the local community volunteer at the farm and donate to fundraising campaigns,” she said. “Residents of the Southern Maine Re-entry Facility regularly volunteer and one resident at SMWRC is employed by MSSPA. Students from Windham High School and Windham Middle School volunteer every Friday during the school year. And the Windham Primary School second graders hold a fundraiser for the horses and then come for a field trip each spring. It's a wonderful community and we are glad to be a part of it.” <

Polar Dip participants plunge into Sebago Lake

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 when they plunged into chilly Sebago Lake as part of the annual Polar Dip off Raymond Beach on Feb. 18. 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.

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. 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.” <


Windham third grader’s fundraiser makes big difference for community

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.

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.”

When the donations first started coming in, Doughty said that she felt grateful that people were helping, and 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. <

Town of Raymond to assume milfoil harvesting duties from RWPA volunteers

Responsibility for the Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting Program (DASH) milfoil mitigation program will now be handled by the Town of Raymond instead of the Raymond Waterways Protective Association.

Members of Raymond’s Select Board have voted unanimously to take over this task from the RWPA following a letter sent to the town in December by Peggy Jensen, RWPA president.

“After careful consideration of all the imaginable ways to address the remaining small patches and the inevitable stray plants that may regenerate from even tiny pieces of stem or root, we have decided the best solution is to move the DASH program to the town,” Jensen wrote to Raymond Select Board members.

Jensen said that RWPA has pledged to guide town personnel in taking ownership of the boat and its necessary equipment so that it could be quickly put back into operation and in applying for possibly available grant funds.

“RWPA will continue to monitor and mitigate any invasive aquatic species found in the upper Jordan River, from the Route 302 highway to Mill Street, and Dingley Brook, from Cape Road to Sebago Lake,” Jensen wrote. “We will continue to operate the Courtesy Boat Inspection program at four launch sites in Raymond. We hope to have continuing support from the town for this program.”

The Raymond Waterways Protective Association was created in the early 1970s by Ernest Bickford and Ernest Knight with a mission established to monitor and preserve the water quality of all Raymond lakes.

Bodies of water being monitored by RWPA volunteers include Crescent Lake, Notched Pond, Panther Pond, Raymond Pond, Sebago Lake and Thomas Pond.

“All the smaller lakes and ponds have volunteers who are trained to identify the 11, soon to be 12, invasive aquatic plants that threaten our waters,” said Jensen. “We have spent years finding and removing invasive variable milfoil in Raymond’s waters, with most of it being done by a dive crew as all our divers are trained and certified for SCUBA work and for the specialized work of removing invasive plants.” <

New Windham High softball coach aims to bring fun to team

Darcey Gardiner was named coach of the Windham High varsity softball team and it’s a reunion of sorts. Gardiner, a 2006 Windham High graduate, brings a world of experience to the field as she was a three-sport athlete in high school and a two-sport athlete in college. She began coaching in 2007 in Windham with varsity and middle school softball and middle school basketball.

Gardiner has also coached youth basketball and junior varsity softball for South Portland. She was the assistant women’s softball coach at Bates College in Lewiston, and she’s been an assistant varsity girls’ basketball coach for Edward Little in Auburn. In 2020, she took over the Gray New Gloucester High School softball program, before deciding to come back to Windham.

The Gardiner family is a big baseball family. Gardiner’s grandfather and father were both baseball coaches and her father coached Gardiner through Little League.

Sports are a huge part of her life. Gardiner says she loves sports because of how creative they allow you to be while still giving you a competitive, family-like atmosphere.

“I always knew I wanted to coach sports in my hometown someday,” said Gardiner. “I grew up playing Windham Little League, going to varsity games on the old field and was lucky enough to be the first to play on the new field. Windham sports are home to me.”

Her parents drove Gardiner’s passion for sports. She played soccer, basketball and softball in high school and basketball and softball in college. To this day, she continues to play those sports.

“Between loving sports, my desire to be a positive female leader, and my passion for working with the youth has driven me to a love of coaching. Wanting to be back in Windham is a no-brainer for me,” said Gardiner. “To be able to gain the trust of your athletes and their families is something special that creates life-long bonds and that is something I really cherish when it comes to coaching.” <


Windham’s ‘A Team’ surges to Quiz Bowl State Championship

Acquiring knowledge and putting it to good use should be the goal of every student and members of Windham High School’s “A Team” took that task to heart in winning the National Academic Quiz Team State Championship at Bates College in Lewiston. Team members say that extracurricular activities can be an uplifting experience for most students and are a way to discover passions and spend time doing something you enjoy. The Quiz Team is just one out of many extracurricular activities that Windham students can participate in, and this team has acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience since being created in 2018.

Meeting on Mondays and Fridays after school and in the mornings before classes, Quiz Team members spend a fair amount of time dedicated to learning trivia.

Senior Greta Paulding has been involved with the Quiz Team since her freshman year.

“When the original team graduated at the end of my sophomore year, I took over as team captain. Over the past two years, I have watched us grow from eight to more than 20,” Paulding said. “My teammates are dedicated to not only learning as much as they can, but also supporting each other through good times and bad. We are not only colleagues, we are friends.”

She said that with more students joining the Quiz Team, they were able to creatively pursue knowledge.

“A big takeaway from being part of the team is that to be successful every player needs to be strong,” said Kaitlyn Farrin, a Windham Quiz Team member. “Some teams try to rely on one ‘star player’ in games, but I have found that teams with a more balanced attack where everyone contributes, often do better.”

The National Academic Quiz Bowl’s format contains three bonus questions after each tossup question that only the correct answering team can respond to. During this segment of the competition, questions can feature an assortment of topics, which test the extensive knowledge of contributing teams. <

Windham Odyssey of the Mind team earns spot in world finals

Coming in first place in their division, Windham Primary School and Manchester’s combined Odyssey of the Mind team participated in the Nor’easter Tournament at Sanford High School, landing them invitations to the World Finals.

Odyssey of the Mind’s purpose is to educate all students how to use and develop their pure creativity to solve problems of any kind without fear or high confusion. When competing, the team’s goal is to fit all the required pieces into an eight-minute performance skit. From making props, to coming up with lines, teams do it all by themselves.

During practice, students learn and work on their teamwork and being a quick thinker. The strategy of being fast helps them in the long run with verbal and hands-on spontaneous problem solving.

Windham Primary School’s third graders and Manchester School’s fourth and fifth grades had formed a team of seven members to compete in the Odyssey of the Mind competition. The seven student members range in age from 8 to 11.

During these competitions, students can gain a sense of self confidence while grasping an emphasis on public speaking, teamwork, and time management, all of which are important skills, despite their age.

“They performed in the gym in front of a table of judges and audience. Once they completed their performance, we watched some other teams compete that had the same problem as them as well as some other problems. These kids always like seeing what other teams come up with,” said Windham coach Rebecca Miller, who runs this Odyssey of the Mind engaged team and guided their success in their division at the state competition.

According to Miller, the students had high hopes as they placed third last year and worked hard for a better finish.

“This year, they were really anxious,” Miller said. “When they called third place, then second place, our stomachs were definitely in knots. When they announced we got first place, I was definitely crying tears of pride - they earned it.” <

Windham author publishes new children’s book about lobsters

Mary-Ann Coppersmith of Windham knows a thing or two about lobsters from being part of a lobstering family. The crustaceans have fascinated her so much that she’s written a new children’s book, “The Three Little Lobsters,” drawn from the seafaring experiences of her husband of 46 years and the curiosity of her three grandchildren.

She says she was inspired to write the book after she experienced the fascination that rare crustaceans inspire around the world. Her husband, Capt. Bill Coppermith, sparked a media frenzy when he caught a rare bright orange lobster in 2015 and then discovered an equally rare cotton candy lobster in 2021 while lobstering in Casco Bay Inlet.

“My grandchildren are what finally motivated me to follow my dream of publishing this book,” Mary-Ann Coppersmith said. “I hope this story will be a favorite of many, young and old, as you follow Captain Bill’s adventures of finding this trio.”

The manuscript for the new book took her about a year to complete, from start to finish, and is published by Page Publishing.

“The hardest part of the book was describing the first rare lobsters’ namesake. The other two were named after my grandchildren,” she said.

Coppersmith, a 60-year resident of Windham, said that she did a lot of her best writing for the book early in the day.

“I found my inspiration for writing was best in the morning,” she said. “I kept a notebook with me and when an idea or memory surfaced about the rare crustaceans, I would write it down.”

While the new book was being finished, the lobstering family received some great news that will lead to a sequel soon.

“During the process of publishing the book, our family received exciting news about another grandchild which would be the inspiration for my second book,” Coppersmith said. “Our third grandchild, Liam, would be a big brother to baby Landen. The sequel to my book will be about ‘Liam The Lobster’ and how he guides his brother, baby lobster Landen, through the deep blue sea.” <


Windham High pitcher reaches 500-strikeout milestone

When Windham’s varsity softball team traveled to Thornton Academy in Saco it wasn’t just any game. In the top of the third inning, with the first Thornton Academy batter, junior Brooke Gerry reached the rare prep milestone of 500 strikeouts. Windham went on to beat Thornton Academy 10-1 that day.

When Gerry struck out her 500th batter, the game was stopped. The team and Windham varsity coach Darcey Gardiner rushed onto the field and hugged Gerry. The next day, at home, there was a small ceremony where Gerry was presented with the team ball and a plaque.

“To be honest I never really thought about [reaching 500 strikeouts],” said Gerry. “Not that it’s not a big deal, but you see more players hit 100 hits, not 500 strikeouts. I personally wasn’t expecting it to be as big as it was, but the closer I got, it seemed more real.”

According to Gerry, she gives herself 30 minutes post-game to reflect on her performance; after that she moves on. She learns every time she’s in the circle, whether the game is good or a struggle. Gerry concentrates on the pitch in front of her and tries to not get too high or low during a game.

Gerry started playing softball at 4 years old and began pitching at 6. She played for the 10-Under Flame at 8 but didn’t get to pitch much. She then moved to the Southern Maine River Rats travel team where Gerry pitched more, developed her skills, and she said that’s where her career took off.

“She puts the team first,” said Windham sophomore and catcher Stella Jarvais. “She isn’t selfish when it comes to throwing it for contact and letting the team field, but with her being so good it’s easy for her to strike people out.”

Gerry has committed to the University of Rhode Island to play Division 1 softball and major in prelaw with a concentration in family services. <

Windham EMT receives prestigious Red Cross honor

Rob Parritt of Windham shares an undeniable bond with Windham Fire Rescue Emergency Medical Technician Dustin Andrews and because of it, Parritt is alive today. For his heroism, Andrews received the Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action for his lifesaving efforts presented by Steve Thomas, Executive Director of the Red Cross of Southern Maine at the May 23 Windham Town Council meeting.

On Jan. 24, 2023, Andrews was off duty and traveling home near the Windham and Gorham town line when he observed a vehicle ahead of him driving erratically. Suddenly a bystander appeared in the middle of the road and waved Andrews down, telling him that the erratic driver had accelerated, left the roadway, and crashed into a snowbank.

Parritt says that he was on his way to work that night and remembers very little of that entire day. But what happened to him was he suffered cardiac arrest and passed out, crashing his vehicle.

When Andrews realized what had happened, he radioed for assistance and when approaching the crash scene, he discovered that Parritt was turning different colors inside the vehicle. He realized that Parritt was not breathing and required immediate medical attention. With the help of the bystander, Andrews broke out a window in the vehicle and the two of them pulled Parritt out. Andrews initiated CPR and continued it for about eight to 10 minutes before paramedics arrived at the site to take over and transport Parritt to the hospital.

Because of his training, bravery, ability to perform CPR and quick thinking, Parritt survived the incident and was taken to the hospital, where he spent about a week recovering from the harrowing ordeal. Hospital doctors implanted a defibrillator to monitor his heart rate and put a pacemaker in his chest to stabilize his heartbeat to keep it from beating too slowly and going again into cardiac arrest.

“Thanks to his training and fortitude, Dustin was able to be the bystander we all hope comes to our aid, and the bystander we should all aspire to be,” Thomas said. <

Restored blacksmith shop brings history to life at Raymond-Casco Historical Museum

Steeped in history, the Watkins Blacksmith Shop is one of the oldest blacksmith shops still in existence in Maine, and now visitors to the Raymond-Casco Historical Society Museum will be able to watch blacksmiths take red-hot iron from the fires of the shop’s forge and hammer it into a variety of tools and hardware.

A year-long project to resurrect and preserve the shop and move it to the museum grounds in Casco was completed in May and it will become the centerpiece and star attraction to a revitalized museum of artifacts and antiquities unequaled anywhere in the Lakes Region of Maine. The blacksmith shop was first opened in the 1850s by William Watkins and was in use right up until the 1940s in Casco.

Footage of the blacksmith’s forge and shop was included in a 1922 silent movie called “Timothy’s Quest” and it once was part of a thriving rural community in Casco, but over the past eight decades, the building slowly became a crumbling relic of Maine’s past. That is, until an idea about moving the building was pitched to Frank McDermott, president of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society. He saw the potential of moving the blacksmith shop to the society’s museum on Watkins Farm in Casco, restoring it and using it for live demonstrations for the public and now that idea has become a reality.

Carefully disassembling every piece of the old shop, refurbishing them and reassembling that building, the blacksmith shop is now weather tight, and steps have been taken to preserve its interior, particularly the ox-lift. The split stone hearth has been moved and reassembled and the chimney has been reconstructed using period bricks.

A team of advisors assisted the historical society in moving the structure to the museum and that group included Dr. Robert Schmick, Museum Director of 19th Century Curran Village in Orrington, Ed Somers of Bridgton, a specialist in preservation and restoration of buildings of this era, and Kerry Tottle of Limington, who devised a plan for lifting sections of the building over an adjacent building at its original location. <


Dignitaries hail groundbreaking for North Windham Wastewater Treatment Facility

Dedication of the new Wastewater Treatment site on the grounds of Manchester School on June 27 was something many Windham residents didn’t think was possible or could ever happen, but ground has been broken for the new state-of-the art facility and it was an event that drew everyone from U.S. senators to fourth graders.

After decades of proposals, studies, and rejections from voters at the ballot box, Windham residents resoundingly approved a proposed $40.4 million sewer and wastewater treatment project for North Windham in a special referendum. Partnering with the Portland Water District and RSU 14 to create the massive infrastructure project, the Windham Town Council set about to cover the initiative through a combination of grant funding, a $38.9 million award by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and North Windham TIF funding supported by North Windham businesses.

Once completed, a new wastewater treatment facility will be built on the grounds of Manchester School, which will address environmental issues in North Windham by removing 25,000 pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants each year being dumped by septic systems into the aquifer and watershed. The installation of sewers is expected to stimulate significant economic growth in Windham and lead to development in the area by industries and businesses not willing to locate here because of associated septic system issues and costs.

Speakers at the dedication included Windham Town Council Chair Mark Morrison, RSU Schools superintendent Christopher Howell, Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note, Portland Water District General Manager Seth Garrison, Windham Town Councilor Jarrod Maxfield, and Maine U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King.

“Windham is the gateway to Maine’s beautiful lakes region and is a major retail center for the surrounding communities,” said Senator Collins. “This advanced wastewater treatment facility will support continued job and residential growth in Windham while also protecting the environmental health of Sebago Lake, Little Sebago, and other local bodies of water.” <

Windham High softball captures first Class A State Title

For the first time since 1995 when the Lady Eagles’ softball team was Class B, Windham softball has captured the Class A State Championship. Ranked second in Class A South and facing Class A’s No. 1 ranked Oxford Hills, Windham took control of the game early and worked hard to churn out a 3-1 victory at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham on Tuesday, June 20.

“No words can even describe it,” said Windham senior Hannah Heanssler, who dove for an amazing catch early in the game. “It’s the exact way I’ve always wanted my season and my career as a softball player to end and playing for this team has been incredible and I cannot put it into words how amazing it is.”

Oxford Hills put one run on the scoreboard in the first inning to take an early lead, but Windham answered in the bottom of the first when junior Brooke Gerry reached on an error and sophomore Stella Jarvais and junior Jaydn Kimball then walked. Sophomore Kennedy Kimball’s flied out and Gerry scored on a wild pitch. Jarvais was at third base ready to bolt; and bolt she did, scoring her team’s second run. Windham led 2-1 after one inning.

“Our strategy was mental toughness,” said Jarvais. “Knowing the crowd was going to be big we had to dial in and trust each other and focus on pitch by pitch what we were going to do, and I think we did that very well.”

In the third inning, Gerry singled, and freshman Addison Caiazzo walked. Jaydn Kimball singled, scoring Gerry and Windham had a 3-1 lead.

“This is definitely surreal,” said Windham varsity softball coach Darcey Gardiner. “Our willpower earned this win. From Day One we have said one pitch at a time. The focus and the one pitch at a time motto is how we keep that composure to win. Making the adjustments when we’re up to the plate, making the adjustments when we’re on defense, every pitch you are doing something different ... I’m really proud of them for keeping their composure and pulling it out.” <

Raymond students place first in Maine 2023 National InvestWrite® Competition

Two Raymond students, Cadence O’Brion and Kaleb Fitch, were honored for their skill at developing financial portfolios.

O’Brion, a fifth grader, and Fitch, a sixth grader both attend Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond, and they understand how teamwork can translate into building a diversified portfolio geared for long-term financial success. Their exceptional approach led to an extraordinary achievement in the SIFMA Foundation’s Spring InvestWrite competition.

O’Brion competed among thousands of other students around the country to write the best essay about long-term investing and the capital markets in the elementary school division. Fitch competed among thousands of other students around the country to write the best essay about long-term investing and the capital markets in the middle school division. Along with their teacher, Jack Fitch, the students were honored by the SIFMA Foundation during a classroom presentation on June 6.

SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite national essay competition bridges classroom learning in math, social studies, and language arts with the practical research and knowledge required for saving, investing and long-term planning. It also serves as a culminating activity for The Stock Market Game™, a curriculum-based financial education program that challenges students to manage a hypothetical $100,000 online portfolio of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and cash over a semester or school year.

“I am delighted to congratulate Cadence, her teacher and their school,” said Melanie Mortimer, President of the SIFMA Foundation. “The research is clear that social and emotional learning is a critical component to students’ motivation, achievement and wellbeing. By participating in the Stock Market Game and InvestWrite, Cadence has learned how working with a team can offer insights and increase confidence to make informed financial life decisions and achieve better life outcomes.”

Kaleb Fitch said that he was confident about this year’s competition.

“Thanks to the SIFMA Foundation and the different programs they offer to students I have learned a lot about the stock market and how it operates,” he said. “This is my third time that I have participated in the InvestWrite competition, and I found this writing prompt to be an easy one to write about.” < 

Friday, December 1, 2023

East Windham Conservation Area officially opens Saturday

By Ed Pierce

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

Ceremonies for the long anticipated opening of the East 
Windham Conservation Area will be at noon Saturday,
Dec. 2 at the Lowell Preserve Trailhead in Windham. The
site includes 661 acres of forested land and undeveloped
water frontage on Little Duck Pond as shown in this photo.
It also features the 150-acre Deer Wintering Area and the
580-foot Atherton Hill, the tallest hill in Windham.
Land at the site is 99 percent forested and includes 661 acres with 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond, some 38 acres of wetlands and numerous headwater streams. Through its conservation the area will directly help protect the water quality for Little Duck Pond, Highland Lake, Forest Lake, and the Pleasant River.

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

About 10 miles of new multi-use trails have been built at the site by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and the land also includes a 150-acre Deer Wintering Area, a traditional site for hunting by permission, and the 580-foot Atherton Hill, the tallest spot in Windham.

With its completion, the East Windham Conservation Area will directly abut more than 1,000 acres of other conserved land in Windham and Falmouth, including Lowell Preserve, North Falmouth Community Forest, and Blackstrap Hill Preserve, providing 20 miles of interconnected trails and five trailheads for public access. It will become part of the largest wildlife habitat and trail access corridor in the Greater Portland area, providing 2,000 acres of conserved land and a 30-mile trail network connecting Lowell Preserve, North Falmouth Community Forest, and Blackstrap Hill Preserve.

Funding to create the area was about $3.7 million and included a $1 million grant from the Land for Maine’s Future initiative. In 2021, voters from Windham approved a $1.8 million conservation bond using open space impact fees and another $400,000 raised privately from public donations. A Land and Water Conservation Fund federal grant for $500,000 was obtained to pay for the infrastructure improvements at the site.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Windham’s Open Space Plan identifies developing and maintaining open space partnerships and relationships as key mechanisms to grow conservation efforts in the town. When the Windham Town Council formally adopted the Open Space Plan, Windham reached out to the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust in 2021 to be an open space partner by holding a conservation easement and sharing responsibility for the trail management on the adjacent 308-acre Lowell Preserve.

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

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

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

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

The East Windham Conservation Area’s Phase Two opening will take place in the fall of 2024 once the remaining five miles of trails are built, including a universal access trail, which can be navigated by those with limited mobility and will lead to the scenic overlook and pond views. A third phase of the project is planned for future years and will include an observation tower.

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

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

Friday, October 6, 2023

Grand Opening nearing for East Windham Conservation Area

By Ed Pierce

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

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

The conservation area’s Phase Two opening will take place in the fall of 2024 once the remaining five miles of trails are built, including a universal access trail, which can be navigated by those with limited mobility and will lead to the scenic overlook and pond views. A third phase of the project is planned for future years and will include an observation tower.

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

Last year, the Lands for Maine’s Future organization awarded the East Windham Conservation partners $998,000 to help fund the initiative. The project directly abuts more than 1,000 acres of other conserved land in Windham and Falmouth, including Lowell Preserve, North Falmouth Community Forest, and Blackstrap Hill Preserve, providing 20 miles of interconnected trails and five trailheads for public access, and amounting to one of the largest unfragmented forests in the Greater Portland region. Windham voters also approved a bond to match the LMF award with open space impact fees, so there will be no impact upon the mil rate for local taxpayers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 22, 2023

MTCCA awards recognize contributions of Windham Town Clerk, Deputy Clerk

By Ed Pierce

It was a clean sweep for Windham as Town Clerk Linda Morrell and Deputy Town Clerk Judy Vance were honored for their exceptional service to the community during the Maine Town and City Clerk Association’s 28th Networking Day and Annual Meeting held at the Augusta Civic Center on Sept. 12.

Windham Town Clerk Office members display awards
they were presented during the Maine Town and City
Clerk Association's 28th Networking Day and Annual
Meeting on Sept. 12 in Augusta. From left are
MTCCA's 2023 Deputy Clerk of the Year and
MTCCA's 2023 Clerk of the Year Linda Morrell.
Morrell was presented with the 2023 MTCCA Town Clerk of the Year Award while Vance received the 2023 MTCCA Deputy Town Clerk of the Year Award. The award program was established in 1991 to recognize excellence both in their contributions to their community as well as to the profession of the municipal clerk and deputy town clerk and are the highest honors awarded by the MTCCA.

Moving with her parents to Windham at age 14 while in her freshman year in high school, Morrell graduated from Windham High School in 1978. She started working as a deputy clerk for the Town of Windham and following seven years of serving in that position, she has spent the last 29 years as the Windham Town Clerk. Before coming to work for the town, Morrell spent eight years as a ballot clerk during elections and was a stay-at-home mother. Her husband was a shift worker and when she was offered the job as deputy clerk over the phone, she eagerly accepted, launching a lengthy career of service to the public in Windham.

Among her duties as Town Clerk, Morrell serves as Windham’s Supervisor of Elections, be it municipal, county, state, or presidential elections. She also oversees two full-time and one part-time town clerk’s office staff members and she’s responsible for the town’s dog registrations; the sales of hunting and fishing licenses; officiating weddings; maintaining the town’s vital statistics; overseeing state boat and automobile registrations; providing notary service; swearing elected municipal officials into office; helping collect tax payments for the town; and serving as the secretary for the Windham Town Council.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vance is a Windham native who has worked for the Windham Town Clerk’s office for 26 years, serving as the town’s registrar of voters and a Deputy Town Clerk.

Among her many duties, Vance processes all vital records for Windham along with hunting, fishing, and business licenses, and administers two elections per year, with an occasional special election. Her department also helps as needed with processing registrations for motor vehicles, boats, ATVs, and snowmobiles, as well as processing taxes.

Raised in Windham and a graduate of Windham High School and the University of Southern Maine, Vance married her high school sweetheart, and they live in Windham, where they have raised two daughters. Along with their significant others and children, the daughters live in the same neighborhood as Vance and her husband.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 1, 2023

Council-created recall ordinance fails in enactment vote

By Ed Pierce

During a special meeting on Tuesday evening, the Windham Town Council listened to resident’s thoughts about a recall ordinance that councilors were considering enacting despite a citizen’s group referendum proposing different recall procedures having already been placed on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Members of the Windham Town Council were
unable to enact a recall ordinance during a
special meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 29. 
Councilors will conduct a special meeting
on Thursday, Aug. 31 and Tuesday, Sept. 5
to decide if they will create a charter
amendment referendum regarding recalls of
elected public officials.
After taking public input, reviewing email received by the council and discussing the council’s recall ordinance, councilors voted 3-3 on their proposed ordinance, with Councilors Nick Kalogerakis, Bill Reiner, and John Henry voting no and Councilors Jarrod Maxfield, David Nadeau and Mark Morrison voting yes. Councilor Brett Jones did not attend the meeting and because a total of four council votes were not received, the proposed ordinance was not enacted.

Differences between the citizen’s group proposed recall ordinance, which will be decided by town voters Nov. 7, and the town council’s proposed ordinance, which councilors will now consider as a charter amendment referendum for voters Nov. 7, are in the details.

The citizen’s proposal requires 25 signatures of registered town voters to initiate a recall petition, while town requires 75 to initiate a recall petition. To get the recall to a town ballot, the citizen’s group proposal asks for a threshold of 10 percent of participating voters in the last gubernatorial election, while the town asks for 15 percent of participating voters in the last gubernatorial election.

The citizen’s proposal asks for no less nor more or if already scheduled the number of days to conduct a recall election at 50/60/75, while the councilor proposal is 50/60/90. As for the limits on how soon a recall could be initiated on a public official, the citizen’s group asks for three months after an election, while the councilors’ proposal asks for six months after an election. In terms of the percentage of gubernatorial turnout required for validity of a recall, the councilors’ proposal seeks 25 percent, while the citizen’s group doesn’t require a percentage.

One of the creators of the citizen’s recall referendum petition, Stephen Napolitano, said the councilors’ proposed recall ordinance and consideration of a charter recall amendment referendum undermines the intelligence of town voters.

“In Windham's history, no town council has ever created their own referendum to directly compete with a citizens' initiative referendum,” Napolitano said. “You have to ask yourself ‘why is the town rushing to get their own referendum on the same ballot?’ The town council should do the right thing and wait for the election results in November. On Tuesday night, it was great to see the overwhelming support for The People's Recall Ordinance.”

Another of the creators of the citizen’s recall ordinance referendum, Kristen Day, pointed out in an email to the newspaper the two biggest differences between the proposals is the mode of recall replacement and the voter participation threshold required.

“The town's ordinance has appointment by council of replacement (according to town charter language, the council appoints vacancies), and a minimum threshold for participation for the election result to be valid,” Day wrote. “The People's ordinance has election of replacement for the seat of the recalled (conflicts with the charter so the council would have to move to amend, if the people want it) and as a municipal election the recall is decided by simple majority, no minimum threshold to count the recall result valid.”

Day also wrote that the town's recall charter amendment calls for an election for a replacement for the recalled official, like the citizen’s group proposed ordinance (as a charter item it will apparently not conflict with the appointment for vacancy language) and has a minimum threshold of voter participation needed for the vote to be valid like the town recall ordinance.

“It's complex but the takeaway is the People's petition was signed by 1,541 people, and if it fails, it wasn't the language the town wants. But if it passes, Council will amend it as needed, and raise any changes they want (such as adding threshold) in town meetings,” Day wrote. “The difference is that according to the November vote, we will have heard from the voters, and from there, people will have input on any subsequent amendment process. Alternatively, if the town recall charter amendment is voted through Nov 7, and the people's ordinance is also passed, the charter amendment will become the law of Windham.”

Windham Town Council Chair Mark Morrison said that council members only seek clarity and accuracy in considering a charter amendment recall referendum.

“The reason for the council charter amendment versus the citizen initiative is that our version has been vetted and much clearer than the citizen initiative,” Morrison said. “So, from a clarity and accuracy and defensibility standpoint, this is what we have done. It was not meant to leapfrog anyone or to undermine, probably a better word, we are not.”

Councilor John Henry said the councilors’ proposed ordinance and consideration of a charter amendment recall referendum were fair and honest.

“I can assure you the process taken here was in good faith and above board,” Henry said. “The metrics we came up with to get it on the ballot are fair, not put in place to protect our positions, but to protect voters.”

Councilor Nick Kalogerakis said he was pleased with the turnout of Windham citizens wishing to share their thoughts regarding the council’s proposed recall ordinance at the meeting.

“My biggest complaint since I’ve been in office is you don’t hear from the people, so I thank you for coming out tonight,” Kalogerakis said. “The issues I have with the people’s ordinance is the numbers are too low and it could circumvent the democratic process. I don’t support putting this in the charter either. It’s a very tough spot to be in.”

Councilor Bill Reiner said he was opposed to enacting a councilor ordnance because of the speed with which it was drawn up and discussed.

“Rush, rush, rush the ordinance and a rush to vote on the charter amendment,” Reiner said. “It’s too much, too fast, too quick. We need to put the brakes on. A charter agenda item should be clean and accurate. If this was coming up about a different item in July, we would not be doing it this fast. I absolutely do not support the charter amendment going forward. The ballot is getting so congested, it’s confusing.”

Councilor Jarrod Maxfield said the state’s recall guidelines mandate that an official can be recalled only if a public official is convicted of a crime against a state agency while in office, while the council’s proposal spells out that a loss of voter confidence while in office is grounds for a potential recall.

He also said he believes that Windham needs accountability for elected officials through a recall procedure that is fair and respects the wishes of a majority of town voters.

“We were told they would not have signatures in time and that’s when we put something forward,” Maxfield said.

Councilor David Nadeau said that a council consensus led to the council’s recall proposal, and it was not created to conflict with any other referendum.

“We heard they weren’t getting the votes and we all agreed we needed a recall ordinance,” Nadeau said.

The council will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31 at Windham Town Hall regarding its charter amendment recall referendum proposal. During that meeting, a public hearing will be conducted allowing town residents to share comments about the council’s charter amendment recall referendum proposal. The council also will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, and at that meeting a vote will be taken to determine if the council’s charter amendment recall proposal will be placed on the Nov. 7 ballot.

One issue that the council has already decided about the Nov. 7 ballot is whether to create a referendum for voters about making the Windham Town Clerk position an appointed position or keeping it as an elected position.

During Tuesday’s council meeting, Windham Town Clerk Linda Morrell said she brought up the idea of converting the position to an appointed one and not requiring them to be a Windham resident to councilors when thinking about what would happen after she leaves office. She said she has no immediate plans to retire just yet but worries about the possibility of no candidates coming forward to run for the job or a person elected to the position who is not qualified to handle all its responsibilities sufficiently.

Morrell, who has served as Windham Town Clerk for the past 29 years and was Deputy Town Clerk for seven years before that, said she hopes to continue to serve, but wanted the council to be aware of what could happen.

The council voted to postpone taking any action about the town clerk position until the second quarter of 2024. That way, if it is decided to create a referendum for voters, the maximum number of town voters would have an opportunity to vote on a measure because it would coincide with the 2024 presidential election which typically draws the largest number of voters in Windham elections. 

Timeline of events regarding recall ordinance

Dec. 28, 2022 – Kristen Day of citizen’s group asks Town Clerk to clarify procedures for recalling elected public officials.

April 21, 2023 – Citizen’s group receive instructions for Windham Town Clerk about pursuing charter amendment or ordinance for recalling elected public officials.

May 6, 2023 – Citizen’s group request to have Windham town attorney review language of proposed ordinance submitted to Windham Town Clerk.

May 10, 2023 – The proposed ordinance created by the citizen’s group is reviewed by group’s attorney.

May 18, 2023 – Town Clerk advises based upon a review by Windham Town Attorney that the citizen’s group that a language change was needed to change “town committee” to “town council” in proposed ordinance and that Secretary of State’s office was reviewing document.

May 19, 2023 – Citizen’s group notified Secretary of State’s office and Windham Town Attorney had reviewed proposed ordinance and citizen’s petitions were available to be picked up to obtain a minimum of 1,465 signatures of registered Windham voters to have a referendum put on the Nov. 7, 2023 ballot about the recall ordinance.

July 9, 2023 – Citizen’s group emailed Town Clerk informing them that the possibility existed of the group not getting the required signatures by the end of July.

July 11, 2023 – Windham drafts language for a council-initiated charter amendment addressing recall procedures.

July 31, 2023 – A total of 1,541 signatures of registered voters collected by citizen’s group is certified by Town Clerk placing a referendum on the Nov. 7 ballot for the citizen’s group proposed recall ordinance.

Aug. 15, 2023
– Windham Town Council discusses possible charter recall amendment to be placed on the Nov. 7 ballot during meeting and takes public comment about enacting a recall ordinance with language differing from citizen’s proposed ordinance already on Nov. 7 ballot.

Aug. 29, 2023 – A public hearing is held by the Windham Town Council about the proposal to enact its own recall ordinance. Councilors then voted 3-3 with Councilor Brett Jones not attending the meeting. With four votes required, the council’s recall ordinance fails.

Aug. 31, 2023
– The Windham Town Council will conduct a public hearing about placing a charter amendment regarding recall procedures on the Nov. 7 ballot with language differing from the citizen’s proposed ordinance already on the same ballot.

Sept. 5, 2023 – Windham Town Councilors will vote about placing a charter amendment regarding recall procedures on the Nov. 7 ballot with language differing from the citizen’s proposed ordinance already on the same ballot.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Internship paves way to future success for Windham graduate

By Masha Yurkevich

Most of us remember our first few jobs quite well. For Greta Paulding, one of those first jobs is working for the Town of Windham as a Marketing Intern. The 2023 WHS graduate has been interested in infrastructure reform and town planning for years and at the end of her junior year of high school, she asked RSU 14’s Director of Community Connections, Lorraine Glowczak, if she could help her find a summer job.

Greta Paulding is a marketing intern for the Town of Windham
and was recently offered an internship at U.S. Senator Angus
King's office in Washington, D.C. as a result of her graphic
designs for the Windham Wastewater Treatment site's
groundbreaking event. PHOTO BY MASHA YURKEVICH 
“I mentioned the best scenario for me would be working for the town, but I was certain that wasn’t going to happen,” said Paulding. “Within a week, she came back and said, ‘I’m still figuring things out, but I think I got you a job at the town.’ I was amazed.” She designed an Extended Learning Opportunity for me which allowed me to get school credit through a civil engineering internship. I am the first high school student to work for the town as part of the Windham Economic Development Corporation.”

Each day, Paulding sits down at her desk with a cup of tea and designs something new for the town, from creating logos, maps, and signage, to finding unique and eye-catching ways to provide valuable information to the public.

Paulding first developed an interest in civil engineering and town design three years ago when a research rabbit hole led her to a YouTube channel called “Not Just Bikes” that documented the differences between North American and European cities. “Not Just Bikes” contrasted the benefits of modern European infrastructure with the problems U.S. cities face; many of which she recognized in Windham.

“As I dove deeper, I wanted to find ways to serve my community by advocating for change. Of course, since I now work in marketing, a major part of my job is graphic design,” said Paulding. “I’ve loved art since I could hold a crayon, and it has been an important part of my upbringing. My mother is an excellent graphic designer and she taught me everything she knows. I’m so grateful to have a job that allows me to participate in improving my community through both infrastructure and infographics.”

Within her first month of work, she was assigned to search for septic documents in the town records.

“I spent three months at a desk sorting through papers that were often more than twice my age,” said Paulding.

Though she was originally prepared for a difficult and dull experience, she said that she became invested in the stories she uncovered, told through permits and plans and the occasional letter of complaint.

“I got to know my town in ways I never imagined,” she said.

Not every assignment is a glamorous one. Often, Paulding can spend an entire day looking through papers and barely making noticeable progress. However, by finding ways to enjoy her work, she never gets too discouraged.

“Sorting through files helped me learn how to find fun in every situation,” she said. “When I finally finished, I had collected data for 115 properties in North Windham and helped create a valuable resource for the engineers making the North Windham sewer system a reality.”

As she did more design work for the town, she realized that marketing was a better fit for her than civil engineering. When she told her boss, he quickly helped her find new ways to apply herself that fit what she wanted to study. His flexibility strengthened her appreciation for her work.

“I want to leave a mark on my town before I leave for college. I cannot wait to see how my designs and ideas impact Windham going forward,” said Paulding.

Her internship has also given her a chance to be a bridge between her peers and those who lead and represent the people of Windham. She’s gotten to help her peers speak up for the things they care about.

“I was very surprised and thrilled when Senator King mentioned the possibility of a college internship for me at the groundbreaking for the North Windham sewer system,” said Paulding. “While I do not know what my future holds, I would be honored to serve my community from D.C. and will consider applying for the position in a couple years. Although, I think I might be able to do more good if I stay closer to the people that I want to impact.”

Paulding will be attending Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania to study Marketing and Graphic Design. She hopes to eventually return to Maine to work as an advocate for infrastructure reform.

“It is an exciting time to live in Windham. The amazing people I work with work incredibly hard to make Windham the best it can be,” Paulding said. “I want to thank Lorraine Glowczak for her work to not only give me the chance to live out my dream, but also help countless other students discover their passions. I want to thank my boss, Tom Bartell, for going the extra mile to create new opportunities for me and for always encouraging me to work hard and have fun. I also want to thank all my coworkers for helping me with projects and for being easy to chat and laugh with. Lastly, I want to thank my parents for cheering me on and reminding me to take breaks every once in a while.” <

Friday, April 28, 2023

Windham town hall offices shifting to four-day work week

By Ed Pierce

Starting June 21, Windham Town Hall employees will be shifting to a four-day work week.

Following a discussion during a Windham Town Council workshop earlier this month, Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts consulted department heads and other town hall staff and asked them how to best accommodate residents while creating a competitive work/life balance for employees.

Employees of the Windham Town Clerk's office will adapt 
to a new work schedule soon as Town Hall workers will be
shifting to a new four-day work schedule starting June 21.
Tibbetts said other nearby communities have adopted four-day work week schedules and currently having a number of municipal vacancies, Windham needs to be as competitive as possible to attract and retain workers. During the previous workshop, several councilors expressed concerns about town hall offices being closed on Fridays and those seeking services having to wait until Monday for employees to be available.

“To be competitive, we need to be similar to towns around us yet be accessible for services,” Tibbetts told town council members during a meeting on Tuesday night.

According to Tibbetts, department heads told him that the greatest demand for town hall services is earlier in the day and not in the late afternoon and evening. He said many services available at town hall can also be found easily and accomplished online.

Because the town charter grants him the authority to determine operational hours for employees, Tibbetts said he’s willing to try shifting to a four-day work week for town hall staff on a six-month trial basis.

“After review of the proposed operational times, discussions with staff at multiple levels, comparisons with similar municipalities, I have made the decision to amend the operational open times for the town,” Tibbetts said.

The new hours effective June 21 will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays, and closed on Fridays.

“This date coincides with the time-recording system for payroll. This change does not affect the total hours worked; those remain the same. I asked staff to provide what they thought were the best times for providing services to the public with a four-day work week schedule,” Tibbetts said. “The majority of the staff felt the following time, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., worked best for the public with an extended day. The town allows for numerous opportunities on-line to re-register vehicles, smaller recreational vehicles, trailers, pets, hunting & fishing licenses, recreational programming, voting registration, request vital records, and taxes.”

He said advances in technology opportunities further enhance the convenience of reaching the town hall and that if a resident cannot make the time frame of hours, a friend or relative can process a re-registration for them or they can use mail.

With the change, public entry to municipal offices on Fridays will not be available, excluding the gym at town hall, which has a separate access point.

In a memo to councilors, Tibbetts pointed out that some senior level and other staff members may work on Fridays to process necessary filings as needed, but public access to municipal offices will be closed.

“Fire, Police and Public Works currently work a variable schedule with no major impacts from this proposed four-day work week,” Tibbetts said. “There may be some union language changes to work through on existing contracts. The library currently has a six-day week and would look to maintain that schedule with modifications to hours open and closing while coordinating staff to have two consecutive days off.

Tibbetts said that the June 21 effective date for the change has been established to provide an eight-week window to let the public know about the new hours for the Windham Town Hall.

“It’ll be a bit of an educational process and it’ll take some time, but we need to move forward with this,” Tibbetts told councilors.

He says a summary report will be provided to the Town Council in six months about the effectiveness of changing the hours for operations and any next steps, along with tracking of transactions for analysis. <