Showing posts with label Westbrook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Westbrook. Show all posts

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, February 18, 2022

Windham renews contract with Animal Refuge League

The Windham Town Council has
renewed its annual contract with
the Animal Refuge League of 
Greater Portland to provide
shelter services for stray and
lost pets found in the town. 
Windham has contracted with 
ARL since 1990 and the new
Contract runs through the end
of June 2023.
By Ed Pierce

The Windham Town Council has unanimously approved the renewal of a contract for services with the Animal Refuge League for strays and surrendered pets.

During a meeting of council members on Feb. 8, councilors voted to renew the contract from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

In a memo to the council, Windham Town Manager Barry A. Tibbetts said that councilors needed to review the contract as state statutes  require municipalities to provide shelter at a state- licensed animal control shelter for stray and lost dogs, cats, and domestic pets 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.

Tibbets briefed councilors that the town has contracted with the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland for such services since 1990 and that the rate the town is charged remains unchanged under terms of the new annual contract.

The Animal Refuge League currently collects and reimburses the town a $25 impound fee the first time a pet owner claims a lost animal brought to the shelter by the town animal control officer. A $50 impound fee is imposed for a second offense and a $100 impound fee is charged for repeated housing of lost pets.

In 2021, the Animal Refuge League accepted 102 surrendered pets from Windham, including 79 cats, 18 dogs, four rabbits and a goat. Nine pets were returned to the shelter from Windham after adoption including five cats and four dogs. Some 89 stray animals picked up in Windham were housed at the ARL shelter in 2021, including 68 cats and 21 dogs.

Statistics compiled by the Animal Refuge League show that 131 pets were adopted by residents of Windham in the last year. That includes 89 cats, 34 dogs, two rabbits and six other animals.

The shelter also reported that 26 pets were determined to be dead upon arrival at the Animal Refuge League facility after transport there by a town animal control officer. That figure included 20 deceased cats and six deceased dogs.

From its shelter in Westbrook, the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland provides temporary care and shelter for stray, abandoned, confiscated, and relinquished animals, veterinary services, and places as many pets as possible into responsible and caring homes. It creates awareness and support for the humane treatment of all animals and strives to end animal overpopulation through education and the promotion of spaying and neutering.

In addition to animal care services and adoptions, the Animal Refuge League also offers dog training and hosts humane educations programs through the year.

Animal control services in Windham are administered by the Windham Police Department through an annual budget of $73,104. That amount includes the annual salary for the animal control officer, animal control unforms, equipment and supplies, and the services provided by the shelter. 

Under the terms of the new contract, the town will pay the Animal Refuge League $26,360.64 or about $1.43 per capita for those shelter services.  That amount is based upon the total number of residents of the town as determined by the 2020 census and remains unchanged from the amount charged in the previous annual contract, which expires June 30. <          

Friday, October 22, 2021

Maine Country Music Hall of Fame inducts local musician Bucky Mitchell

Bucky Mitchell, who is now a booking agent for local venues
such as Lenny's in Westbrook, was inducted into the Maine
Country Music Hall of Fame in April.
By Lorraine Glowczak

Many know and recognize his face at Lenny’s, 1274 Bridgton Road in Westbrook, as he greets and talks with music lovers who arrive early to enjoy their favorite bands. His name is Bucky Mitchell, and he is the gastropub’s booking agent extraordinaire.

But his talent to book best-loved Maine musicians does not stop there – he is also recognized for his highly skilled aptitude as a musician – playing drums in bands that have opened for well-known country artists such as Randy Travis, Emmylou Harris, Porter Waggoner, Freddy Fender, Roy Clark and more, including Maine’s own Dick Curless.

His talent was recognized recently when he was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame in August. This isn’t his first rodeo of acknowledgment, however. He was also inducted in the Massachusetts Country Music Hall of fame in 2014.

Mitchell’s story begins at an early age. He was born in Portland in 1951 and has been playing country music since he was 19 where he played drums for a house band, Rick Wells & the Wagon Wheels, at the Wagon Wheel Ranch in Steep Falls in the 1970s. It was this small-town bar experience that catapulted him into the realm of well-known musicians.

“It turns out that the house band also backed up Capitol Records star Dick Curless” Mitchell said. “Dick invited me to go with him to Nashville for a Grand Ole Opry appearance and it was from that experience that I knew music would be my life-time career.”

It wasn’t long after that, in 1972 while playing at the Wagon Wheel Ranch, Mitchell was asked to become part of a touring band. He joined and toured the eastern United States for four years while also booking other bands along the eastern seaboard.

Mitchell helped found and played drums for the band, Rick Robinson and the Bayou Boys. The group recorded two albums and 10 singles for Belmont Records, and was named MCMAA Country Music Band of the Year in 1979 and 1980. It was from the Bayou Boys’ experience that Mitchell got to meet the most famous of Country Music.

 “We opened shows for many big-time country acts including Roy Clark, Hank Snow, Eddie Rabbitt, Porter Waggoner, Johnny Paycheck, Emmylou Harris, and Larry Gatlin,” Mitchell said.

Along the way, Mitchell also got to play drums for many big stars, such as The Hager Twins (from the Hee-Haw fame), Dave Dudley, John Anderson, Big Al Downing, Freddie Fender, Barbara Fairchild, and Kenny Price.

Mitchell shares a story when the band ran into a big-name star of that time, Ernest Tubb.

We were at a hotel playing, and Ernest Tubb was staying at the same hotel,” Mitchell said. “He was on a show with Hank Snow down at the local auditorium. Rick Robinson saw Ernest Tubb strolling around the lobby and went to him and asked if something was wrong. Ernest Tubb had missed his bus to the auditorium, as he told the driver to leave at a certain time no matter who was not there. Rick gave Ernest a ride to the auditorium and Ernest had to put five bucks in the band fund jar for being late for his own show. Ernest Tubb always remembered that ride every time we saw him in Nashville after that.”

Although Mitchell’s life on the road was filled with many adventures and he loved every bit of it, he admits the downsides.

“I would miss my son’s baseball games and a lot of family events. Luckily I had a great supportive family but it wasn’t always easy being away from family all the time.”

For those who wish to go into the music business as a professional, Mitchell offers the following advice:

“You have to put a lot of time practicing on your instrument – about five to seven hours a day. If you don’t have the time or passion to do that – then music will be a hobby for you. And – that’s okay! But if you choose music as a career, it will take a lot of commitment on your part.”

Mitchell is now retired and provides promotions for entertainment venues in the area as a booking agent and entertainment consultant, with Lenny’s being among them. <

Friday, August 13, 2021

Longtime Windham teacher honored by Community Service Award

Pat Wilson taught for 29 years at Manchester
School in Windham and in retirement has
spent years volunteering for non-profit
organizations in Westbrook. On Aug. 18, 
Wilson will be honored with the 2021
Highland Grange Award at the Highland
Lake Community Center. 
By Collette Hayes

Former Windham teacher Pat Wilson has devoted her life to the service of others and for her efforts in making a difference for so many, the Highland Lake Grange is recognizing her with the 2021 Highland Grange Award.

The honor is given to Westbrook residents who have made a significant difference in the lives of others through community service. To celebrate her accomplishments, grange members present her the award at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 18 at the Highland Lake Community Center.

According to Larry Levesque, a Highland Lake Grange member, the Grange Service Award salutes an individual who makes a significant difference in the lives of others, and he said Wilson fits that description perfectly.

Levesque said that Wilson has devoted a lifetime to the service of family, friends and the Windham and Westbrook communities. Over the last several years she has donated many hours-of-service volunteering one day a week at the Westbrook Community Center in Cornelia’s Closet, the thrift store in Westbrook and after seeing a need for volunteers at the Westbrook Community Center’s food pantry, she started volunteering there one day a week as well.

Just the other day, sitting next to the large windows in her kitchen during an afternoon thundershower, she talked of just that. She had spent the last few months collecting bundles of clothes that were now piling up to overflowing in her closet.

“I wanted to take the bags of clothes over to the thrift store today,” she said, “but with this unexpected rain, I will have to put it off until another day. For the last several years, I have taken my personal jewelry over as well. I love to see how happy it makes the customers at the thrift store to receive something so beautiful.”

Her sense of goodness draws many to her which is evident when she talks of how the customers at the food pantry invite her to attend their luncheons and are anxious to sit and talk for a while whenever she is volunteering at the pantry.

Her former students at Manchester Elementary, where she taught for 29 years, feel the same way. Today they have grown to adults, and many follow her on Facebook.

She said that she set high expectations for each one of her students and tried to individualize instruction to meet their specific needs.

“When I was teaching, every day I would try to find something fun and interesting to include in my lesson plans, something to be sure each student would learn and grow.”

Now many years later, she still tries to meet those individual needs of her former students by posting things she thinks they might be interested in learning mixed with a lot of humor. 

“They need humor to survive in this challenging world,” she said, as a beautiful smile lightened her face. Looking out the window to the rain, which now had turned to a heavy downpour, she reflected on one of her only regrets as a teacher. “I wish I would have had more time to get to know a lot more about each one of my students so I could have better prepared them to meet their life challenges.”

In 1998, Wilson retired from teaching to take care of her husband who had suffered a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair. Her husband enjoyed traveling, and Pat was by his side each step of the way helping him to enjoy the things he loved to do.

Her daughter, Kathleen Burkhart, shared insight into how much Pat loved her dad and her dedication to him.

“Mum’s time was dedicated to Dad and his needs and the groups he belonged to,” Burkhart said. “She was a fantastic caregiver for 29 years. Yes, 29 years with him in a wheelchair.”

Burkhart also spoke of ways that her mother has served in the community.

“Many years ago, Mum started the Westbrook Festival of Trees in my grandmother’s name, Beatrice Elwell, because gram loved Christmas so much,” she said. “The charities that were recipients of the donations have been Westbrook Police, Tots for Tots, Mission Possible, Animal Refuge League, camperships for Pilgrim Lodge and Westbrook Warren Congregational Church.”

After retiring from teaching, her mother volunteered with the Cumberland County Retired Educators Association writing the newsletter and working to help get better benefits for teachers and retirees,” Burkhart said.

Following her mother’s death, Wilson volunteered at the hospital where her mother spent the last weeks of her life. She has been a member of the Westbrook Warren Congregational Church since she was 11 years old and has served on the Christian Education Board and the Deacons Committee at the church for many years.

About five years ago, Wilson worked with a local, young Somalian man to help get his family to the United States. She started by paying him to do odd jobs and eventually made a large donation to his cause.

Even though on a Friday afternoon, many years ago, Wilson closed the door for the last time in her fifth-grade classroom at Manchester School, she still continues to inspire us through the example of the often-forgotten principles of empathy, compassion and service. <

Friday, December 4, 2020

Help available for Windham, Raymond residents with missing pets

Microchipping is an effective way for animal
control staff members to identify and return
lost dogs. The average cost for the service is
less than $70 and widely available through
local veterinarians. COURTESY PHOTO
By Daniel Gray

Whether or not you have a fuzzy loved one at home, many know the heartbreak that happens when a family pet runs off and aren't able to find their way back home. It isn’t uncommon for dogs to run out the front door or somehow snap themselves off their leashes, but there are ways to prevent pets from becoming lost and if they do, to get them back home safely.


Windham resident Myia Canty, a student currently majoring in mechanical engineering at the University of Maine, knows exactly what it’s like to have her dog run off unexpectedly. And to make matters worse, she lives right near River Road in Windham, making it very dangerous if her dog were to run off.

Her German Shepherd and Lab mix named Trinity loves to play and will want to play in the front yard right next to the treacherous road.


“Every once in a while, she’ll see something move outside like a squirrel or my dad getting home from work, so she will just book it out the door and once she realizes she’s outside, she’ll get excited and think it’s time for a walk,” Canty said.


Recently, Trinity has started clicker training, which is when a pet owner can use a small hand-held device that makes a soft clicking noise that gains a dog’s attention and, when done properly, the dog can associate a click meaning they did a good job and get a treat. The Cantys started the training a year ago and say that it is extremely helpful with Trinity. She knows to come when the clicker sounds, which is a vast improvement from without the clicker.


A dog training company called Partners in Canine, 756 Roosevelt Trail in Windham, has a very confident outlook on clicker training. Partners in Canine owners and trainers Merri Button and Meg Terrio believe tremendously in the science behind clickers that dates to the 1890s. A Russian physiologist named Ivan Pavlov created the “classical conditioning theory,” ring a bell and give a dog food, and they will expect food every time the bell chimes. The same thing happens with clicker training.


“Once we have established this conditioned response to the clicker, we have the ability to do tons of things that can make training your dog easier and more positive,” Button and Terrio said.


Windham’s Lake Region Animal Hospital’s head veterinary technician, Leah Janus, has a very positive
view on clicker training as well, but said she would also add professional training into the mix.


“We feel that clicker training can be a great training tool for dogs. But, if you are a true beginner, it is probably best to start with a professional trainer,” Janus said. “Without realizing it, people can give their dogs confusing cues when they are learning how to train a dog.”


Partners in Canine offers a few different programs that can help with dog training if someone can’t do it on their own. They have the Puppy 101 course for younger dogs and also offer a Partner Program for dogs 6 months or older. These courses are made to help owners with dogs who have behavioral issues or goals they would like to achieve.


Janus says she also strongly urges residents to get their pets a microchip. The chip is injected and the chip itself is the size of a grain of rice, being placed between a dog's shoulder blades. The microchip has the dog's registration number along with where the ship was registered. If your dog is found and their chip is scanned through the skin, the vet clinic can contact the registry and get your information from there. At the Lakes Region Animal Hospital, it costs $66 dollars for the “Home Again” microchip bundle. It includes a microchip implanting chip, registration, 24/7 pet recovery assistance for one year, a medical hotline for pet poison control, and even a lost pet travel assistance for when dogs end up far away from home.


Jackie Frye is Windham’s personal animal control officer and for the past three years has logged 40 hours a week on average to assist with strays or various animals roaming in Windham. The town’s animal control’s budget for 2019 was a little more than $68,000 with this year’s budget being slightly more than $67,000.


When Frye is notified of an animal running loose, she catches them safely and brings them to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (ARLGP) in Westbrook. She does have happy stories to tell of when she has examined a lost dog’s collar to reunite them with their owners.


“Before going to the shelter, I’ll try to find the owner. If there’s a rabies tag with the number, I’ll also call the town to get the owner’s name and information,” Frye said. “I’ll definitely try to find the owner first and I would rather do this every time than go to ARLGP.”


Raymond’s animal control officer is Jessica Jackson who has been serving the public since 2013. Raymond’s lost pet process is similar to Windham’s with Jackson bringing stray animals to ARLGP or returning them home if the information is available. In 2019, the budget for Raymond’s animal control was about $32,000 and 2020’s budget was nearly $35,000.


Jeana Roth of Windham is the director of community engagement for the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland and said the first thing done when a stray animal arrives is to scan for a microchip or locate other information.


“For pets without any identification, we hold them for a period of time to try to locate their family and to observe and treat any medical needs they may have,” Roth said. “We work with groups like Maine Lost Dog Recovery/Maine Lost Cat Recovery on Facebook to share that we have a stray pet with the hopes of an owner being identified.”


Typical recovery fees for owners of animals taken to the shelter is $25 and all dogs are held there for six days.


Both Raymond and Windham mandate that pet owners register dogs each year. pick them up and they hold all dogs for six days.


Registration is Dec. 31 and requirements include proof of a rabies vaccination and veterinarian's name and phone number, and a neuter certificate if applicable. For neutered animals, the registration fee is just $6 or $11 for animals not neutered. Registration can be done online at the town website, by mail or in person at town offices. <

Friday, August 28, 2020

Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub to open in Windham

Windham resident Dan Drouin will operate a new sports pub
and restaurant at the site of the former Buck's Naked BBQ
Restaurant which closed in Windham in May. The new
restaurant will employ between 25 and 30 people and Drouin
expects it to be open by October.
By Elizabeth Richards         
The owners of a popular Westbrook restaurant will open a second location in Windham in the fall. Dan Drouin, who operates the Stockhouse Restaurant & Sports Pub in Westbrook, hopes the new location will be open by sometime in October.
Drouin and his wife, Jennifer, will operate the new location under a slightly different name, and with a different slant. Instead of a sports pub theme, Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub is intended to highlight its location in the Lakes Region, having a little fun with the theme to create a “lake vibe,” Drouin said.
Stockhouse Restaurant & Sandbar Pub will go into the space formerly occupied by Buck’s Naked BBQ, which closed in late May after indoor dining was delayed in Maine due to the pandemic. Drouin said he is leasing the space, with an agreement to purchase down the road. “It probably wouldn’t be an easy venture right now as a restaurant to purchase a building,” he said.
The new restaurant will employ between 25 and 30 people.  Drouin said that the current permit allows for 130 seats inside, though during COVID restrictions there will be less indoor seating.
“We’ll lose anything I can’t socially distance,” he said, estimating that they would end up with about 75 seats indoors. to Drouin, there are 20 seats outside on the deck and he is also asking for the permit to be extended to the front porch, which would offer approximately 20 additional outdoor seats.
He said if they can get on the agenda for the next Windham Town Council meeting on Sept. 8, they   Either way, he said, the restaurant should be open by Nov. 1.
hope to open early in October. If they have to wait until the meeting on Sept. 22, he said, that will push the opening to later in the fall.
“I can’t think that we would not be open by then,” Drouin said.
Drouin has looked at other locations for a second restaurant in the past few years, he said. He chose the space in Windham because he liked the building and enjoys the community. Drouin lives on the Windham/Standish line off White’s Bridge Road.
 “I looked at the space and immediately my wife and I both felt like that space would fit us,” Drouin said. “Even with what’s going on with the pandemic I think we can get it off the ground and going, and as things get better that will allow the restaurant to grow with us.”
His experience in the Westbrook location makes Drouin confident they can operate safely under the COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’ve learned a lot in the last few months in Westbrook and we’ve been able to maintain a pretty high volume with making sure that we’re doing everything safely,” he said. “I think if you’re consistent, people appreciate the fact that you’re trying to create a safe environment, and we’ll do the same thing in Windham.”
The menu in Windham will be the same broad offerings as they offer in Westbrook, Drouin said, including burgers, wraps, pizza, home cooked specials like shepherds’ pie and turkey dinners, and wings. Because there’s a smoker still at the Windham restaurant, Drouin said that in Windham, once he is comfortable knowing how to smoke wings, he will add those to the wing lineup in Windham.
Drouin said their goal is to provide another family friendly eatery with affordable prices, good food, and a good selection of beer. He said he plans to keep things as consistent as possible, with food and drink specials, and some entertainment if they can do so safely under the current restrictions. <

Friday, July 19, 2019

Windham resident hopes to spread awareness of mental illness through her 2019 Caregiver of the Year Award

Karen Rumo
By Lorraine Glowczak

It has been said that Karen Rumo of Windham has an amazing gift of profound caring for others - and that gift won her an outstanding award that is rarely found among her contemporaries. On Wednesday, June 19 Rumo, who is a Psychiatric Technician at Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook received the Caregiver of the Year award at the Maine Hospital Association’s (MHA) annual Summer Forum held at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. News Center Maine Anchor Sharon Rose Vaznis presented the award.

According to the (MHA) website, the Caregiver of the Year Award has been given to a caregiver employed by a member institution who, on a daily basis, demonstrates extraordinary commitment to the delivery of care to patients and their families.

"If someone is feeling anxious or they look frightened, she knows how to approach them and to help calm them down, de-escalate them, and help them get what they need," stated Mary Jane Krebs, President of Spring Harbor Hospital in a June 19 publication written by Vaznis.

Rumo is a 1984 graduate of Windham High School and has worked in the field of mental health for 33 years. Her dedication to helping others in a field that is very challenging to serve is admirable. While others in her profession tend to experience burnout, Rumo’s passion only grows.

She serves on committees, trains new employees and goes the extra mile for patients and staff alike. “Passion and caring for others are the foundation for any job you might have,” Rumo began. “And for me, if it benefits our patients – then I’m going to do it.” a recent interview, Rumo’s enthusiasm for her life’s work was evident and her excitement filled the room. “I had no clue that I was nominated,” began Rumo. “In fact, I didn’t even know such awards existed and I feel so honored to have been nominated and selected as the winner.”

The Caregiver of the Year Award has been presented to medical professionals since 2002 and it’s the first time that this award was given to someone who works on the front line, working directly with the patients in a technician’s position.

Rumo was nominated by a longtime coworker and friend, Claudia Henry. Henry, who wrote the required 500-word essay and collected testimonials for the application process, is the one who called to let Rumo know the good news. “When Claudia called to tell me I had been selected, she said, ‘Karen! This is like winning the Oscars in Hollywood!’”

Much like the Oscars, Rumo had to prepare an acceptance speech. She admitted she was a little nervous, but it didn’t prevent her from sharing some very important messages. “In my speech I wanted to convey that a person does this work because their heart is in it and they want to make a difference in people’s lives,” Rumo stated. “Making a difference can happen in many different ways. There are times people arrive at the hospital with just a medical gown and come with no other clothing. Making a difference can simply be finding a shirt in the donation box so the person is more comfortable.”

Her hope that the attention she has received with winning this award can bring about more awareness in the mental health field. “There is still so much stigma surrounding mental health and it is my hope that this perception changes,” Rumo stated. “In some form or fashion, we all experience our own mental health issues. If there are emotions, there is going to be mental health issues that come up.”
Rumo’s greatest message is kindness, understanding and sympathy. “No matter who you come in contact with, everyone has a story, and everyone has something to contribute. Since we don’t know the whole story of an individual’s life, it is best that we do not judge – but to be kind to one another.”

Friday, May 24, 2019

“Bridges of Friendship” photo exhibit at Windham Library has ties to Russia

By Lorraine Glowczak

If you have been to the Windham Public Library (WPL) in the past two weeks, you may have noticed an array of nature and candid photography gracing its walls. Some photographs are encased in gold frames while others – silver frames. Why is this subtle difference so important?

“Silver frames indicate that the photographs are from photographers of the Greater Portland area,” began Dennis Marrotte, a member and former president of the Portland Camera Club. “The photography that you see in gold frames – they are from photographers in our sister city – Archangel in Russia.”

As in all artforms, there is a story involved in the “Bridges of Friendship” photography exhibit at WPL that will continue until June 29. The tale is filled with not only cultural exchange but is also steeped in history which gives the photography display an interesting twist.

It all began in the early 1980s and continued in the early 1990s when, during the end of the Cold War, hostilities in America were growing toward Russia. To create more peace among the two countries, a professor from Oregon State University instigated a sister city initiative between the U.S. and Russia.
The effort caught on and members of the Greater Portland area, including the town of Windham, joined forces “to provide opportunities for Russians and Americans to share time, ideas, and the best of our communities; to bring true friendship and understanding to our peoples; and to improve the chances for world peace through citizen diplomacy,” as stated by website.

Friendship, culture and art has continued to develop between the two cities since the Archangel Committee of Greater Portland nonprofit organization was established in 1988, of which Dan Glover of Westbrook lead the group as president in its beginning years.

Glover shared that although the towns and cities that comprise the sister city exchange with Archangel began in the late 1980s, their roots and connections began in WWII. “South Portland had two shipyards, building EC-2 Emergency Cargo, also known as ‘Liberty Ships’, with Portland being one of the several east coast ports from where Liberty Ship convoys sailed to Europe and to the Artic Ports of Murmansk and Archangel, in Russia.” forward to 2019, and the connections continues. Part of the success with the Archangel Committee of Greater Portland can be contributed to the exchange of high school students between the two cities. Glover explained that the students from the Greater Portland area would spend one month, usually during the March break, in an Archangel school (and vice versa). In recent years, the student exchange has subsided. Glover is happy to announce that the exchange will be revived – at least for one year – in 2020 as students at Westbrook High School will do an exchange with students from Archangel.

However, the photography exhibit exchange has remained intact since the Archangel Committee of Greater Portland was established, creating not only an exchange of art and culture, but that of lifelong friendships between the photographers of the Portland Camera Club and the camera club of Archangel, the Spolokhi Club.

Marrotte has developed many friendships and experiences over the years travelling back and forth from his home in Westbrook to Archangel. “When the photo clubs first began the photography exchange, everything was film and you couldn’t just send photography at the click of a button,” Marrotte explained. “We had to communicate via teletype and travel with photographs in hand.” 
(Teletype was used to communicate typed messages from point to point through a simple electrical communications channel, often looking like a big typewriter, before the days of the internet.) has so many stories of his travels throughout Russia as well as the generous and kind people he met - that could fill volumes of books – all as a result from the love of the art of photography and the photography exchange that developed between the two cities.

You too, can experience a small slice of Marrotte’s (and all the photographers’) journeys throughout the past 30 years with the “Bridges of Friendship” exhibit. In the photographs, you will not only see art – but if you look deeply enough, you’ll also see history, friendship – and peace.

“The exhibit is a visual connection between the two cities,” explained Marrotte. “Both camera clubs agreed on the title of the exhibit as it came from an essay written by a member of the Spolokhi Camera Club after Marrotte had visited Archangel three times. The title of that essay was also, ‘Bridges of Friendship’, and it reflected the photographer’s experience between the two countries.”

NOTE OF INTEREST: The Portland Camera club has been a gathering of both amateur and professional photographers in the Southern Maine area since 1899. For more information, peruse their website at The camera club in Archangel, Spolokhi, was formed in 1980 by a General Physician who left his practice to follow his calling of photography. “Spolokhi” translates to “Northern Lights”.

Friday, May 10, 2019

“Man with a Mandolin” – Al Hawkes remembered and honored by fans and musicians

By Lorraine Glowczak

“Lorraine, we are in the presence of many chapters in Maine’s musical history,” Dr. Richard Nickerson said to me with passion as I walked into the pub door of Lenny’s at Hawkes Plaza in Westbrook. This past Sunday, May 5, the pub that was once the recording studio of the nationally known bluegrass musician, Al Hawkes, was filled to the brim. It was standing room only as fans of the late recording artist came out to honor and celebrate the gifted performer and instrumentalist.

Friends of Al Hawkes outside Lenny's Pub
(which used to be the recording studio. Event Records ,
owned by Hawkes
Also present were over 15 bluegrass, country music and folk artists who personally knew, jammed in the backyard and/or performed with Hawkes, playing their favorite tunes from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

In addition to honoring and remembering the “man with the mandolin”, it was an afternoon of fundraising for the Al Hawkes Scholarship Fund. “I made a promise to Al,” Nickerson told the crowd before the performances began. “He wanted to start a scholarship fund to help area music students. Today we are asking for donations toward this scholarship. The funds will be used to help students purchase musical instruments and with the cost associated with performances and studies.” Nickerson added that the performers were donating their time to help with the cause.

Musician, Jack Jolie, was among the many talented artists that came out to support and donate their time. Acting as the MC for the day, Jolie performed with Hawkes for five years. “I was one of the Night Hawkes and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” he stated. Jolie further explained that Hawkes is a distinguished musician and known in the bluegrass scene as a pioneer in the field. “He is even highlighted at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Kentucky.”

Rick Nickerson
Mike Stackhouse and Friends was another gifted musical group who performed in the afternoon. Stackhouse stated he didn’t get to know Hawkes until he and his band started performing at Lenny’s when it opened in 2016. “After one of my performances, Barbara [Al’s wife] told me that Al really liked my music. ‘He doesn’t go out often to see performers, but he always wants to see you when you perform,’ is what Barbara told me,” Stackhouse explained.

Soon, Hawkes and Stackhouse became friends. Stackhouse wrote the song, “Man with a Mandolin” after their friendship grew. He played the song for Hawkes one afternoon, soon after he recorded it. “After the second line, Al asked me if this song was about him,” Stackhouse told the audience. “He knew immediately.”

Many audience members also knew Hawkes personally and came to enjoy the show, donating towards the scholarship fund that was imperative to the late musician. One such fan was Terry Chinnock from North Yarmouth. Chinnock is the daughter of the well-known country artist, Dick Curless.“ If you were a musician in Maine,  you loved and were a big fan of Dick Curless,” stated Travis Humphrey.

According to the New York Times, “Curless's albums included "Live at the Wheeling Truck Drivers' Jamboree," released in 1973, which portrayed life on the highway in songs like "Truck Stop" and "The Lonesome Road." Among his other successes were a truckers' anthem, "Tombstone Every Mile," which climbed near the top of the country music charts in the 1960's; "All of Me Belongs to You"; "Big Wheel Cannonball," and "Six Times a Day."

Mr. Curless took country music to Asia as host of the "Rice Paddy Ranger" show on the Armed Forces Radio Network during the Korean War. After the war, he appeared on television with Arthur Godfrey and toured with Buck Owens.”

“I came today because I’m very good friends with both Al and Denny and I wanted to support them and the scholarship fund,” Chinnock said.

When Chinnock mentioned Denny, she was referring to Denny Breau, who also performed Sunday afternoon – in the very pub named after his brother, Lenny.

Briefly, Lenny Breau, at the age of 15 made his first professional recordings in Hawkes’ studio, Event Records (now Lenny’s Pub). Lenny performed internationally in Canada and the U.S. with well-known professionals such as Merle Travis and Chet Atkins to name just a few – and he appeared on the Jackie Gleason Show, eventually hosting his own “The Lenny Breau Show”. He died under unknown circumstances in 1984 in Los Angeles.

“My brother was a musical genius,” stated Denny who is a musical prodigy in his own right. “My parents knew Lenny had a gift by the time he was five years old and they fed that gift, having him become a part of their band by the time he was 12 years old.”

The 12-year old Lenny joined his parents’ country music band, Hal Lone Pine and the Lone Pine Mountaineers, with his father, Hal Lone Pine and mother, Betty Code who had been performing in the U.S. and Canada since the 1930s. “He began playing the washboard and then moved on to the lead guitar,” Denny said and then paused for a moment. “We still have that washboard.” asked if he had any advice or words of wisdom he wanted to share, Denny was very clear about one thing. “Get out and support local live music. Musicians wouldn’t be able to perform without that support and people would not get to experience great music, like we are experiencing today.”

As I left the pub, Dr. Nickerson reiterated to me one more time – this time with even greater zeal and enthusiasm, “We are in the presence of amazing Maine music history. We are witnessing it – a part of it - Today! Right here! Right now!”

His statement was true. I felt it in the building in which remarkable music was born and great music continues to live. I saw it in both the fans’ and musicians’ eyes, many of which were filled with tears. It truly was a special moment – as the crowd of Al Hawkes devotees and supporters came together under the same roof to honor and remember the celebrated musician. Under the very roof that was once his recording studio.

The scholarship, which was set up just prior to Hawkes death on December 28, 2018 currently has over $3000. Donations to the scholarship fund can be made at: Cumberland County Credit Union, 101 Gray Road, Falmouth, ME. 04105, Attn. Al Hawkes Scholarship.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Mrs Windham Maine America defines true beauty

Mrs. Windham, Sarah Boynton
By Lorraine Glowczak

It’s not every day you are asked to be Mrs. Windham and to participate in the Mrs. Maine America pageant. But that is exactly what happened to Sarah Boynton, a special education teacher for the Westbrook school district. “To be in a beauty pageant was not something I ever considered but decided to accept the request to participate when a local recruiter for Mrs. Maine America asked me to consider it,” explained Boynton, then offered a chuckle. “When she first approached me, I thought it was a joke.”

Mrs. Maine America offers an opportunity for married, single and/or divorced women over 18 years old to build a network, supporting one another, with the sole focus on bonding together to create better communities within Maine and beyond. “It provides us a chance to use our gifts, talents and roles in life to serve the community, choosing a platform that we are passionate about,” Boynton said.

For Boynton, she will take a stand on empowering young adults to be confident in who they are, providing tools for self-acceptance.  “As a middle school special education teacher and a mother, I am very familiar with the struggles that children face on a daily basis with self-image and acceptance. 

I strongly believe that every child has unique qualities and talents that should be celebrated. My son is an amazing example of a child with unique qualities that should be celebrated. I will always be his biggest supporter and advocate and will use my passion in this area to be a supporter and advocate for many children in Maine.”

https://www.egcu.orgThere are a variety of ways she plans to promote her platform on youth confidence. Boynton states that she hopes to speak at middle schools around the state to inform and educate young adults on ways to be confident and accept one’s authentic way of being. Although just beginning her role as Mrs. Windham, she has already started the process at Westbrook Middle School by talking with groups of students about things such as kindness, complimenting each other, being true to one’s self, etc. “It is my goal to also speak at other middle schools across the state, including Windham,” she said. “I am looking into working with teen centers such as Preble Street in Portland and the teen center in Westbrook.”

In addition to promoting self-confidence among young adults at area middle schools and teen centers, Boynton, along with other Mrs. Maine America participants across the state, volunteers time for other important causes. So far, Boynton has volunteered for a fundraising event hosted by the American
Heart Association with a focus on children who have heart disease and she was a bell ringer for the Salvation Army during the Christmas season. She is also reaching out to local food pantries and will be participating in other fundraising events promoted by Mrs. Maine America.

All this is currently occurring in her role as Mrs. Windham and she hasn’t even won the crown yet - holding the title of the 43rd representative of Maine for the Mrs. America Pageant. What will she do if the crown lands on her head on May 12, 2019 at the DoubleTree Hotel in South Portland?

“I aspire to leave a positive impact on everything I am a part of. I want my children and students to know that when you work hard, care for others, and are true to yourself, amazing things can happen,” Boynton began. “If selected, I want to take the opportunity to make a bigger difference and will do that by working with young adults, paving a way to sincere confidence.

Boynton’s focus is on young adults and making sure they are confident and accept their true way to walk in the world. But what are her thoughts on beauty? “There is nothing more beautiful than an authentically confident person who loves and accepts themselves and other people – just as they are,” Boynton stated.

In fact, when asked by the Mrs. Maine America Pageant committee what she thought would be an important question the judges should ask all the contestants, she recommended the following: “The young girls in our state, along with the country, struggle with body image and their perception of what makes us beautiful. What advice would you give them on what truly is beauty?

Boynton lives in Windham with her husband, Jeff and their five-year old son, Jordan. She also has a step-daughter, 13-year-old, Madison as well as a soon-to-be adopted 25-year-old step-daughter, Taylor, who lives in the greater Augusta area.

The current title holder of Mrs. Maine America is Kimberly Mastropasqua of South Portland. She is spending her reign bringing awareness to bullying and suicide prevention, as well as volunteering for
various causes around the state.

We wish you the best, Mrs. Windham!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Local marathon swimmer proves it’s never too late to live your dreams by Matt Pascarella

Pat Gallant-Charette
Pat Gallant-Charette is not your typical 66-year-old grandmother. Not only is she a marathon swimmer, but she is a six-time world record-breaking marathon swimmer.
Last month, she spoke to students at Windham Middle School about being stereo-typed for being “too old” to do some of the things she’s done. She proved you are never too old to go after the things you want.

A Westbrook resident, Pat Gallant-Charette did not aim to become a marathon swimmer, or even a swimmer, until later in life. 

“[People] ask how I got into swimming, and it’s really kind of a remarkable story,” Gallant-Charette began. “I was a good swimmer as a teenager, got married at 21 and started having children. Then I got my BA in nursing and worked as a nurse.”

It was after tragedy that the idea of swimming came about. “My youngest brother, Robbie, at the age of 34, died suddenly…of a heart attack,” Gallant-Charette continued. “At the time, I was 46 and was absolutely devastated. He was such a remarkable young man. Robbie loved swimming; he was the captain of the Northeastern University Swim Team and won Peaks to Portland twice.” the time, her 16-year-old son was on the Westbrook High School swim team and she considered herself a spectator mom while she cheered on her son at swim meets. He decided to swim the Peaks to Portland as a tribute to his uncle and she wished she could do the same. “You can if you try,” her son said to her.
Her son’s remark inspired Gallant-Charrette, but it took effort and courage to reach that goal. “You get filled with a lot of self-doubt about your swimming ability,” Gallant-Charette said. “I didn’t like swimming in the ocean. I spooked easily. I’m only going to do [this] one time, and that’s it. I trained, it took me over a year before I even qualified.”

Then she qualified for the Peaks to Portland, she recalls the day in detail: “I remember standing on the island, here I was 47, and filled with self-doubt, I’m looking at all these young, slender athletes and I’m thinking, ‘Pat, what the heck did you get yourself into?’ Then I said to myself, ‘I don’t care if I come in last. You’re here as a tribute to Robbie. Just finish the swim because it’s the last time you ever have to swim in the ocean again.’”

Something happened on that first swim in the Atlantic. “As I was swimming across Casco Bay, something special happened that morning. I saw the beauty of Fort Gorges… a lobster boat went by and the seagulls up above, and it was just incredible. It was beautiful! Any fear [of open water] was gone, and all those young fast swimmers were probably at the finish line, so I didn’t have to worry about [competing against them]. And when I finished, my brother, Robbie’s widow and her now 4-year-old son greeted me at the finish line. I said to my husband, ‘I really enjoyed this, I’m going to do it again.’”

She continued on with the Peaks to Portland swim on an annual basis and by the time she reached the age of 52, Gallant-Charette noticed that her endurance improved significantly. “I was stunned,” Gallant Charette stated. “I didn’t think I could improve at the age of 52.” 

Gallant-Charette decided to swim Sebago Lake which is twice the distance of Peaks to Portland. When she finished, she wasn’t tired. After another year of training and swimming across Big Sebago and back, she told her husband, “I think I’m one of those endurance athletes.” Her husband suggested she swim the English Channel. Gallant-Charette thought that was a great idea. did swim the English Channel but it took a lot of self-coaching and training. In August 2001, she jumped in and swam the channel. Gallant-Charette shares a moment from that swim. “It was about the 16th hour of the English Channel and I could see France, and I said to myself ‘I don’t care how cold this water is, I’m going to make that finish line! And I did. Once I saw France, it was like, the worst is behind you, what’s another 2 miles?’”

For the fourth time since she turned 60, Pat has been selected as one of the nominees for the Women’s World Open Water Swimmer of the Year. She is among 12 nominees worldwide. Says Gallant-Charrette, “To be among these talented women I feel very humbled and honored.”

For the time being, it seems Gallant-Charette is enjoying the ride - or the swim rather. She doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. “I really love the sport of open water swimming. My pet peeve is when people say, ‘when are you retiring?’ I have no intention of retiring from this sport. My intent is to bring this as far as I can.”