Showing posts with label pride. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pride. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2024

Retired Raymond Town manager proud of devoted service to community

By Ed Pierce

Don Willard wants to set the record straight regarding the rumors circulating about his departure as Raymond’s Town Manager.

Don Willard served as the Raymond Town
Manager for more than 23 years until his
retirement on Jan. 2. A party in his honor
will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday,
April 7 at the Boy Scouts of America's
Messer center at Camp Hinds in Raymond
and the public is invited to attend.
Willard says he’s not dying of a terminal illness or was fired from his position, the simple truth is that he spent some time last fall recovering from an illness and then decided to retire after 23 years of working for the Town of Raymond. His retirement became official Jan. 2 and from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 7, the public is invited to a special party at the Boy Scouts of America’s Messer Center at Camp Hinds in Raymond to say goodbye and wish Willard and his family well in retirement.

“Living and working in Raymond has been a great experience and a wonderful place for my wife Megan and I to raise our son Holden,” Willard said. “I always thought, and often expressed my belief that the Town of Raymond has the capacity to achieve any and all desired goals.”

He said that with a new comprehensive plan on the horizon, a new universe of possibilities will be envisioned and ultimately approved by the voters in Raymond.

“I am certain this will include a continued commitment to environmental protection, as well as a range of quality-of-life issues,” Willard said. “In that regard, I am looking forward to staying actively involved in the community to help realize a new way forward and to see the town reach its full potential.”

Originally from Scarborough, Willard graduated from high school there and spent his first year of college at the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham before transferring to the University of Maine at Orono. He launched his career in municipal government as a paid intern in Scarborough, and then as an intern in Cape Elizabeth in 1981 while still an undergraduate in college.

After earning a college degree in Public Management, Willard served as a congressional intern in Washington, D.C. before being chosen as first Town Manager of the Town of Dixfield in 1983. Then in 1986, he became Town Manager of Rockport, a position he held until December 2000 when he joined the Town of Raymond as Town Manager.

“I have been quite fortunate to work with great elected officials in the past,” Willard said. “The early 2000s were a high watermark for community improvement. The town received an Economic Development Infrastructure Community Development Block Grant to extend the Portland Water District waterline from Windham to Raymond. In so doing, Raymond became the first new member town in 50 years.”

He said that achievement was a result of transformative and visionary elected leadership.

“Selectmen Betty McDermott, Ada Brown, and Christine McClellan also envisioned and supported the Route 302 improvement project, the new public safety building, and the town’s first major road rebuilding program which transformed the appearance of the town's main business area while improving both pedestrian and motor vehicle safety,” Willard said.

According to Willard, he will miss working for the town and says that he always sought to make myself visible and accessible to the townspeople.

“I made my cell phone publicly available and took calls 24/7 and 365 days a year over my tenure,” he said. “One time, I answered a citizen phone inquiry from the back of an ambulance, after a serious personal injury, while being treated on the way to the emergency room. I think people appreciated the fact that they could reach out and share their concerns with me at any time. I was committed to resolving issues and concerns efficiently and comprehensively, so they didn’t become problems for the Board of Selectmen.”

Being a town manager can be a difficult job, but Willard said what he liked best about it was that no two days were ever the same.

“Although the challenges were sometimes unpredictable, one commonality was that I always felt a great sense of satisfaction, making a difference in the communities that I served,” he said. “Having a job like that makes for a pretty good life. The town received extremely high citizen satisfaction ratings across the range of municipal services, while maintaining one of the lowest property tax rates in the region.”

Many employees for the Town of Raymond stayed in their jobs for years as Willard says he sought to create and maintain a positive work environment for his fellow employees, resulting in a sense of esprit de corps and extraordinarily low turnover.

“It was a pleasure to mentor and see many younger employees realize their career dreams,” Willard said “Treating those in need with respect and kindness, while providing guidance and support was a big part of the job and something I particularly enjoyed. If you approach the job of town manager with a dedication to service, commitment to upholding the law and standing for ethical behavior, that is really everything. You can never go wrong by doing the right thing. While I am proud of all the accomplishments over my 40-year career, none of them would have been possible without the support and assistance of others. If Raymond has been successful over my time here, it is because we have always had engaged and committed local government officials and a team of dedicated hardworking staff members.”

As in life, not everything went his way as Town Manager though.

“My greatest disappointment was the failure to achieve a modern and adequately sized municipal office,” Willard said. “Hopefully, when the middle school is vacated and turned over to the town, that goal, which was the top one when I was hired 24 years ago, will finally be realized.”<

Friday, April 23, 2021

Windham’s Cub Scout Troop 805 exhibits hard work, pride at Pinewood Derby

Benjamin Conant watches several racers speed toward the 
finish line at Cub Scout Troop's annual Pinewood Derby races 
on Saturday, April 17 at the Windham Veterans Center. The 
Pinewood Derby races give scouts a sense of accomplishment
in building and crafting tiny race cars. PHOTO BY
By Matt Pascarella

The Windham Veterans Center buzzed with excitement the morning of Saturday April 17. The Pinewood Derby track was set up, and many eager Cub Scouts from Troop 805 and their families anxiously waited for the races to begin, with some putting the finishing touches on their cars.

The Pinewood Derby cars start out as just a block of wood and, in the end, can look like just about anything, as long as they stay within the guidelines for competing in the race. These Cub Scouts picked their own individual designs and painted their cars.

Scouts fashioned the tiny cars from blocks of pine and then attached plastic wheels and metal axles in an exercise designed to foster teamwork, ingenuity and sportsmanship. During the derby, the cars were placed on a wooden track and entered in races powered by inertia and gravity.

Win or lose, the scouts can take pride in having done their best and through the competition, they learn craft skills, the rules of fair play, and good sportsmanship, things they will remember for life.

A lot of hard work had gone into preparing for the races, but now, the time had come to see how these cars would perform against the other local Cub Scout dens.

“It builds a sense of accomplishment because they build their cars, they work on them with their parents; it gives them something to show for something that they worked hard on,” said Casey Melanson, den leader for Wolves and Tigers.

The Pinewood Derby teaches scouts valuable lessons, Melanson said, and the Cub Scout motto of ‘do your best’ is evident in the Pinewood Derby because regardless of what place the scouts come in, they can take pride in what they’ve built.

Fifth grader Matthew Melanson, who came in second place overall, said it took a few weeks to get his car how he wanted it. He said he liked that he won second place, it was fun competing in the race and he had a good time.

Along with the top five winners, the troop handed out three ‘best in show’ awards, for the best designed cars.

“Oh, it was awesome!” said second grader Ayden Swartzengruber, who designed a shark racer that won him third in best in show. He said it was fun to compete in the race. It took two and a half days to make his car that had a big fin and shark teeth.

The five fastest racers usually advance to the district race against all the top five winners in the Casco Bay area. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, that district race is not happening this year.

Results of the 2021 Pinewood Derby at the Windham Veterans Center are as follows:

Fifth place, Kaleb Spencer, Webelo

Fourth place, Andrew Hinse, Webelo

Third place, Brad Jorgensen, Wolf

Second place, Matthew Melanson, Arrow of Light

First place, Charlie Anthoine, Bears

Best in Show:

Third place, Ayden Swartzengruber, Wolf

Second place, Levi Kyle, Bear

First place, Landon Bacon, Tiger

In addition to the Cub Scout races, there was also a sibling race at the event where brothers and sisters raced against each other, without the scouts participating. First grader Clara Davis came in first in that race.

The Windham Den Leaders and Committee Members who helped put on this year's Pinewood Derby were Casey Melanson, Shane Spencer, Sarah DiDonato, Ben Beckwith, Tim Melanson, Carrie Rickett, and Amy Jorgensen. The Webelos den prepared the food for the event. 

Money raised at the 2021 Pinewood Derby will go toward the Windham Cub Scouts Annual Spring Fling event next month. <