Showing posts with label dedication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dedication. 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, July 28, 2023

Windham mourns loss of business leader, community champion Bartlett

By Ed Pierce

George H. Bartlett Jr. will be remembered as a kind individual who uplifted his community and a reliable friend who wanted little praise for his volunteer efforts on behalf of others.

Longtime Lakes Region resident and Busy
Bee Laundromat owner George Bartlett Jr.
has died at the age of 84. Through the years
Bartlett has been a fixture at charitable
events locally and was an active member
of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club and the
Sebago Lakes region Chamber of Commerce.
Bartlett, 84, died Friday, July 21 after a short illness. He owned and operated the Busy Bee Laundromat in Windham for 38 years and was heavily involved in the activities of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and the Sebago Lake Rotary Club.

Since the 1990s, he also served as an international ambassador for the Rotary Club, making numerous trips to Romania representing Maine and making treasured friendships with Romanians.

Other than his trips to Romania, Bartlett lived for most of his life in the Windham, Raymond, and Casco areas. His mother, Olive Sawyer Morrill of Westbrook married his father, George H. Bartlett Sr. in the 1930s and the couple moved to the Little Sebago Lake area of Windham where they started a family. George Jr. was born in 1939 and his father owned the Bartlett Radio Company.


While helping at his father’s business after school, young George developed an interest in mechanics, and he went on to become a mechanical engineer and have a business of his own launching Busy Bee Laundromat in 1985.

“My father was in business for many years, and he gave me some great advice,” Bartlett said during an interview in 2020. “He told me that a business goes through ups and downs and the best way to keep a business going is to serve the people,” Bartlett said. “That’s exactly what we do here.”

According to Robin Mullins, the President and CEO of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Bartlett was well-liked by nearly everyone he met.

“One thing was his outgoing personality. He said hi and spoke to everyone he met,” she said. “He also had an infectious smile. You couldn't help but smile with him, even if you were having a bad day.”

Mullins said that Bartlett was a member and huge supporter of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce for years.

“The two things that stand out the most for me were first, he hosted many of the chamber’s After Hour events, or what we call Business Breaks,” she said. “During the Business Breaks we have 50/50 raffles for local charities. George would offer to squeeze himself into a dryer at the laundromat if folks gave extra dollars to the charities. We made lots of extra money for charity because of this. Second, George was a Rotarian who came to me and asked what I thought would be a great local charity to benefit from the Polar Dip, which was part of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club's Annual Ice Fishing Derby. I, of course, recommended the chamber's charitable trust, ‘Feed The Need.’ We started the Sebago Lakes Region Polar Dip for Feed the Need in 2021 and have raised over $22,000 for the 12 food pantries in the Sebago Lakes Region thanks to George.”

Huge loss

His loss will be huge to the chamber, Mullins said.

“George was my partner on the Polar Dip. I relied on him for so many things,” she said. “I have already asked myself, ‘Will I be able to do this without him?’ The answer is yes, but it will not be easy. I have to keep it going because that is what George would have wanted. The 2024 Sebago Lakes Region Polar Dip will be dedicated to my Polar Dip partner and my friend, George Bartlett.”

In years to come, Bartlett will be remembered fondly, Mullins said.

“George will be remembered for three things – his love and dedication for the Sebago Lake Rotary Club. He truly believed in the work of the Rotary and traveled to Romania several times to partner internationally. He will also be remembered for his never-ending supply of energy. George was a worker and he never stopped. I often referred to him as the ‘Energizer Bunny.’ And lastly, George will be remembered for his ability to give you a hard time and do it in a fun, jovial manner.”

Cyndy Bell of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club says Bartlett joined the club in 1985 and has been part of the fabric that has kept the club relevant and a constant in the community ever since.

“He just had a passion for the organization,” Bell said. “One event that brought him a great deal of joy and pride were his trips to Romania. In 1998 as part of a Rotary International project to meet medical needs for Romanian hospitals, the Sebago Lake Rotary Club collaborated with six other Rotary Clubs and began gathering medical equipment, collecting over $750,000 worth of equipment that included 12 refurbished dialysis machines from the Maine Dialysis Center. He traveled back to Romania to coordinate the distribution of the equipment and over the past 20 years he has returned 16 times, working with their schools, bringing books and supplies collected by Rotary clubs in Southern Maine including his local club and helping schools establish Interact Clubs, a high school version of the Rotary Club. While there, he stayed with his adopted Rotary family, making long-distance, long-term friendships.”

Outgoing personality

Bell said Bartlett’s outgoing personality was contagious and he was passionate about anything he was involved in.

“He always showed an interest in you and what you were doing or your business. And he always invited you to a Rotary meeting and encouraged you to join,” she said. “George was involved in everything that the Rotary Club was hosting. He especially was very involved in preparations for the Polar Dip held during the club's signature Ice Fishing Derby fundraiser every February. Even when things weren't going smoothly, he always had a positive attitude and made the event a success. George's presence will be missed in every event the club sponsors moving forward. He always had an ‘idea’ how to make events better.”

Funeral services are pending, and Bartlett is survived by his wife, Jane, three children and other family.

Mullins said she believes Bartlett’s legacy will be one of unselfish service to his community and a responsibility to help his friends and neighbors.

“George did what he did because that was just how he was wired,” she said. “It was who he was, a concerned community leader who wanted to make a difference. And, boy, did he ever.” <

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. <