Showing posts with label Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield. 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, June 9, 2023

New monument to honor service of Windham Public Safety members

By Ed Pierce

Every day, the men and women of Windham’s public safety departments deliver assistance to the public when emergencies arise, extinguish dangerous fires, and provide residents with 24-hour protection. That commitment and dedication to the community is about to be recognized through a unique monument that will stand for years in the town.

Windham Fire/Rescue Chief Brent Libby, left, and Windham
Police Chief Kevin Schofield review a drawing of the new
Windham Public Safety Monument that be unveiled and 
dedicated at the Windham Public Safety Building on
Sept. 12. The monument recognizes the service,
dedication and commitment of fire, rescue, dispatchers and 
law enforcement personnel working in Windham over the
decades. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE   
The new Windham Public Safety Monument will be a lasting way to recognize the contributions that police officers and firefighters have made to the town through decades of service and will be unveiled and dedicated in a ceremony at Windham’s Public Safety Building on Gray Road on Sept. 12. It is intended as a lasting tribute to anyone who has served as a member of the Fire/Rescue, Police, Rescue Association, or as a dispatcher for the Town of Windham and will be surrounded by special brick pavers making up the courtyard around the monument.

The monument itself is black granite and will stand 6 feet in height with white lettering and containing the logos of the Windham Police and the Windham Fire/Rescue Departments. There will be space to memorialize the names of police officers or firefighters should they perish in the line of duty in the future but the main intention behind creation of the memorial is to honor those who work or have worked in public safety positions here.

Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield said he’s proud of the efforts that have been made to bring this project to fruition.

“This is something we’ve worked hard at over the past few years,” Schofield said. “This recognizes service to the community, and it means a lot to me and to the members of the police department.”

Planning for the new monument began several years ago when construction of a $4.3 million expansion of the Windham Public Safety Building opened.

Windham Fire/Rescue Chief Brent Libby pointed out that that back when the old Public Safety Building for the town was first built in 1988, none of the town’s firefighters were full-time staff members and Windham only had about 15 police officers on duty. He said that through the decades as Windham has grown, the town now employs four full-time firefighter-paramedics, 12 full-time firefighter EMTs, four full-time shift captains, two full-time deputy chiefs, 1 fulltime fire-rescue administrative coordinator, and a fulltime fire-rescue chief, along with per diem and call company members. And Windham’s police force has also doubled in size to 30 officers.

“Certainly, in terms of numbers, past members, volunteers, and call company members, hundreds of individuals have served with the Windham Fire Department,” Libby said. “The hope is we never have to put a name on the monument, but it acknowledges all of their service to this community.”

He said that the monument will serve as a permanent reminder of those who have worked through the years to keep the town safe.

Eight paver stones have been sold to this point and will be dedicated to past or current members of the Windham Police Department, Windham Fire Department, dispatchers, or other Windham public safety personnel.

A few more paver stones are available and may be purchased for the Public Safety Building courtyard for $120. Past members or their families can purchase a paver with the member’s name and years of service on the pavers. To purchase a paver stone or to offer a donation for the monument, call Nancy Graves at 207-892-1911.

The monument itself is being funded by the Town of Windham although any business or supporter offering a donation, regardless of amount, would be greatly appreciated, Libby and Schofield said.

Donations can be sent to Town of Windham Public Safety Memorial Fund, 375 Gray Road, Windham, ME 04062. Those making donations are reminded to make checks payable to Windham Fire/Rescue Department.

Schofield said that in addition to the monument several family members of former law enforcement officers here in the past have donated items including leather gear and a service revolver to the Windham Police Department dating from the time of their service in Windham. Those items will be enshrined in a special display on the second floor of the Public Safety Building along with a plaque dedicated to their service to the community. <

Friday, July 22, 2022

Windham dedicates Public Safety Building for local first responders

Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield and Windham Fire
Chief Brent Libby cut the ribbon officially opening the 
renovated and expanded Windham Public Safety Building
during a dedication event on July 13. The project took a
year to complete and the facility now houses both Windham
police officers and firefighters. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE      
By Ed Pierce

When any facility is renovated or expanded and all the work has been wrapped up, the question then is whether the building can stand the test of time and become a functional part of the world. In Windham, the construction of the town’s new Public Safety Building on Gray Road has reached an end and the structure is now in regular use with its occupants saving lives and protecting the community around the clock.

During a special dedication ceremony on July 13, Windham town officials, construction crews and residents heard about what went into the decision to renovate and expand the building and celebrated its completion.

The construction work for the $4.3 million expansion and building renovation was performed by Great Falls Construction of Gorham and began with groundbreaking in July 2021. It added a 15,247-square foot renovation to the existing 17,000-square-foot Public Safety building which houses space for first responders for both the Windham Fire Department and the Windham Police Department.

During the project, workers finished a two-story 5,840-square-foot addition that houses five apparatus bays, a new public safety decontamination space, bunk rooms, kitchen, and offices for the Windham Fire Department, created a new 1,305-square-foot standalone three-bay space for vehicle and evidence storage for the Windham Police Department, and installed a second elevator for the building. 

Remodeling work was also performed throughout the entire building as workers installed HVAC and lighting upgrades to increase building efficiency and updated other areas during the project, including a revised locker room space; created an additional 10 new public parking spaces and addition of a new 1,305-square-foot, single-story secured evidence locker for police; additional employee parking; an outdoor patio space; a new dumpster area; and installation of a new generator for the reconfigured facility.

Back in 2020, Windham residents approved up to $4.9 million in bonds during the Annual Town Meeting for capital improvement projects, and that included funding the expansion for the town’s Public Safety Building. The additional funding for the building’s renovation was derived from town impact fees for new town residential developments and new commercial buildings.

“The need for this was obvious,” said Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts during the dedication event. “This building needed to be worked on. We chose not to tear it down, but to remodel it and make it work for the future.”

Windham’s Public Safety Building at 375 Gray Road in Windham was originally built in 1988 at a time when none of the town’s firefighters were full-time staff members and Windham only had about 15 or so police officers on duty. Through the decades as Windham has grown, the town now employs 20 professional firefighters while the town’s police force has doubled in size to 30 officers.

Tibbetts said he was impressed with how the project turned out and how police and firefighters adapted to the challenges of the ongoing construction over the past year.

“I’m exceptionally proud of the team,” he said. “They put up with a lot to pull this off.”

To accommodate the renovation project, Windham firefighters were temporarily moved out of the building during the upstairs construction work, while the Windham Police Department continued to use the facility as the construction progressed.

According to Tibbetts, three good outcomes were derived from the construction.

“First, the project was on time. Second it was within budget. Third, it looks good inside. This is a great example of Windham investing in itself for its employees for the future.”

Windham Town Councilor David Nadeau told those attending the dedication event that the completed building highlights the spirit of cooperation between police and firefighters in the town.

“What this really shows me is the camaraderie between these two departments,” Nadeau said. “Hopefully we do get the time we need to get out of this building. We’re grateful to Fire Chief Brent Libby and Police Chief Kevin Schofield for bringing these two departments together.”

Jarrod Maxfield, Windham Town Council Chair, said when he was first trying to decide if he wanted to run for a town council seat six years ago, he took a drive with Nadeau and stopped outside the old Public Safety Building at this very same location.

“He talked about what the Public Safety Building was and what it could be,” Maxfield said. “It’s exciting to see what it turned out to be. This building will be a part of making all our lives better.”

Windham Fire Chief Brent Libby shared a timeline of the history of the Public Safety Building and talked about how a 2014 facilities study launched a discussion in the town about what to do with the aging Public Safety Building.

“We are now at the finish line,” Libby said.

Windham’s Police Chief, Kevin Schofield, said that Windham Police officers first started using the existing Windham Public Safety Building in April 1990, more than 32 years ago.

“This is a very exciting prospect for me personally,” Schofield said. “I now work on the second floor with a window in my office. This community has come a long way in the last 30-plus years. The new building is a greatly enhanced public safety facility to serve the town for years to come.”

Jonathan Smith, Great Falls Construction president, said that the company was grateful to the town for the opportunity to work on the project. He introduced construction managers and sub-contractors who worked on the building and recognized others who were instrumental in advancing the project, such as architect Mike Hays and project consultant Owens McCullough of Sebago Technics.

Also attending the dedication event were Windham Town Councilors Mark Morrison and William Reiner, Windham Assistant Town Manager Bob Burns, Windham Public Works Director Doug Fortier, Windham Economic Development Corportation Executive Director Tom Bartell, State Representative Mark Bryant and Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Robin Mullins.

Rev. Tim Higgins of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Windham offered a blessing for the facility before the ribbon was cut officially dedicating the building. <

Friday, August 13, 2021

Speed reductions ahead for Windham motorists

The Maine Department of Transportation has 
authorized a request by the town of Windham
to reduce the speed limit on William Knight
Road off Varney Mill Road from its current
limit of 45 mph to 40 mph. Speed limits for
a portion of Nash Road and for Gambo Road
will also drop from 35 mph to 30 mph.
By Ed Pierce

Maine’s Department of Transportation has authorized a request by Windham officials and local residents to lower the speed limit on three heavily traveled roads in the town.

In October 2019, Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield requested that the Windham Town Council ask the MDOT to reduce the current speed limits for Gambo Road, a portion of Nash Road, and for William Knight Road on those thoroughfares and to conduct speed studies to reduce the potential for accidents there. Now with Windham’s request approved by the MDOT, reposting of new signs indicating the lower speed limits on those roads will begin by the town’s Public Works Department.       

In his original memo to the Windham Town Council, Schofield said that as Windham has grown and traffic has increased, the need to consider reduced speed limits for those roads has risen.

“Many of these areas have changed over the years to include, walking trails, youth soccer fields, discontinued bridges and increased development and traffic Schofield said. “So lower speeds, and hopefully slower traffic should help increase safety and quality of life in these areas.”

The current speed limit for William Knight Road, which runs between Varney Mill Road and Route 302, is 45 mph. At 1.17 miles in length, it has a rural appearance to it, but with development over the years, Schofield said that there are now 22 residential dwellings on William Knight Road and five intersecting roads off it with 24 residences abutting the roadway.

He said topography plays an important road in the potential for accidents on William Knight Road.

“Approximately in the midpoint of this section of road there is a steep dip into a ravine. This causes a blind spot for a residential dwelling in this area,” Schofield said. “As prior residents would give instruction when leaving the property to look left, right then left again and count to five to make sure a car did not appear out of the dip at a high rate of speed, they reported many near misses over the years.”

In his memo in 2019, Schofield cited that since 2015, there were four crashes on William Knight Road in 2015, one in 2016 because of icy roads conditions, one in 2017 involving a deer and two in 2019 caused by a line-of-sight issues and driving too fast.

The MDOT has authorized dropping the speed on William Knight Road to 40 mph, according to Cathy DeSouza, MDOT’s Southern Region Assistant Traffic Engineer.

For Nash Road between Windham Center Road and Route 302, Schofield said that the current speed limit there is 35 mph and runs about three-tenths of a mile long.

He said the topography of Nash Road, lack of sidewalks and its short length frequently leads to speeding there.

“I receive complaints about speeding on this section of road, in particular about the rate of speed vehicle crests the steep hill on the west end or the road near Windham Center Road,” Schofield said. “When traveling this section of road at 35 mph it feels too fast for the conditions.”

The speed on Nash Road will dropped to 30 mph, Schofield said.

On Gambo Road, starting at the intersection of River Road and running southwesterly for four-tenths of a mile, the current speed limit is 35 mph, but it does pose a safety issue because of its location.

“Formerly the bridge over the Presumpscot River accommodated vehicular traffic into the town of Gorham, this is no longer the case creating a dead-end road,” Schofield said. “The mountain division recreation trail also crosses the lower end of Gambo road.  Probably most significant is the location of the recreation fields at located near the end of the road that accommodate various recreation programs.  This situation creates more traffic than one would expect on dead end road with few dwellings.”

He said every year the Windham Police Department receives speed complaints on the road and efforts officers to slow traffic down on Gambo Road haven’t worked.

In a letter from the MDOT to the town of Windham, DeSouza said the agency has authorized a speed reduction for Gambo Road to 30 mph. 

“Within the past several months three roads were reviewed for speed limits as requested by residents,” said Windham Town Manager Barry A. Tibbetts. “Chief Schofield has been in contact with the State MDOT, which is the only agency to modify a speed on public road. The process can take up to nine months or more.  The agency looks at a number of factors, ranging from safety conditions, site distances, number of curb openings (driveways), vertical inclines, road widths, traffic volumes crash data points, engineering judgements, etc.  The agency has recommended lowering the speed limits on two different road sections, Gambo and Nash Roads, by 5 mph per hour and establishing a new speed limit of 40 mph on another, William Knight Road. These reviews provide excellent guidance in maintaining safety and traffic flow within Windham.”

According to Schofield, once all of the new signs have been put in place by Windham DPW crews, Windham police will begin enforcing the new speed limits for these roads and also alerting drivers of their speed on others through the use of the police department’s electronic road sign. <

Friday, January 29, 2021

South Windham parade salutes World War II veteran’s 98th birthday

By Ed Pierce

Of the 16 million Americans who wore the uniform of the United States during World War II, Bob Miele of South Windham remains proud of his service, his family and the community he treasures. And as he celebrated his 98th birthday on Jan. 25, Miele was honored with a parade, greetings from Windham’s police chief, a gift from Windham’s American Legion post and cheers from more than three dozen friends and family members.

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

World War II veteran Bob Miele of South Windham, far right,
waves to vehicles participating in a parade marking his 98th 
birthday on Jan. 25. More than 50 vehicles were in the parade
and a crowd of more than three dozen of Miele's family and 
friends attended the event. Miele owned and operated
'Patsy's' store for many years in South Windham and served
as a radar operator in England, France and Germany during
The parade included more than 50 vehicles, police cruisers, veterans, Shriners, and fire trucks filled with well-wishers who turned out wanting to say happy birthday to Miele. The parade stretched all the way from the old Windham Fire Station to the new fire station on Route 202.

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

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

After his military service ended, Miele returned to Windham and eventually took over operation of his father’s store, Patsy’s, located directly across from the old fire station in South Windham.
“He was actually a volunteer firefighter back in those days too,” said David Tanguay, adjutant for American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham. “He lived above Patsy’s and when he heard the fire alarm go off, he got dressed and ran across the street to the fire station. He was always the first one to report for duty there.”

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

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

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

“He was only told he had to be in the condo lobby at 10 a.m. for some member of his church who wanted to wish him a happy birthday,” Tanguay said. “When he stepped out of the building, he was met with accolades and well wishes by dozens of family and friends.”

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

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

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

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

The Eagle Cane Project originated in Oklahoma and was introduced in Maine in 2008. Woodcarver Jack Nitz of Tulsa, Oklahoma launched the Eagle Cane Program after watching an ABC News television segment in 2004 about post-Sept. 11 veterans. Nitz, who served in the Navy from 1948 to 1957, said he realized there was "a little something" that he, as a woodcarver and cane maker, could do to let injured veterans know they had support from people in their community and to also honor them for their service.

The Eagle Cane program has now spread to 32 different states, including Maine, and is a collaborative initiative that awards quality hand-carved personalized Eagle Head canes to deserving veterans in recognition for their service to the United States.

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

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