Friday, February 16, 2024

Raymond residents want answers for slow mail delivery

By Kendra Raymond

If you live in Raymond, it is possible that you are asking, “Where is my mail?” United States Postal Service mail delivery in Raymond has become intermittent recently, leaving many residents wondering what is going on and hoping for a solution.

Slow and intermittent mail service in
Raymond since December has left residents
frustrated and seeking answers about how to
improve and speed up delivery by the U.S.
Postal Service to residents there.
The unofficial Postman's Motto appears on an inscription above the New York City post office on 8th Avenue. It reads, "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." But Raymond residents are perplexed at the problem and want to find a solution.

Despite numerous phone attempts to find out why mail service is so slow over a week’s time, staff members at the Raymond Post Office said they would not comment on the issue. Phone calls to the national U.S. Postal Service number have been fruitless, as several options to leave a message are offered, but there is no possibility to speak to a live person.

The USPS website lists the postal service mission as, “The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.”

Members of several Raymond area social media groups have reported mail arriving just once or twice a week, sometimes late at night. Some expressed fear about deliveries after dark, while others were concerned about the safety and welfare of the drivers.

People have received pieces of mail for a similar address or even recipients across town. Some are connecting via social media with photos of mail in hopes of getting pieces to the rightful owners. Raymond residents are investing a lot of time into helping their neighbors receive their mail.

Some feel angered about not receiving solicitations and ads as some report it feels like “big brother” choosing what they will receive and when. Others are concerned about missing medications, bills, bank statements, paychecks, tax documents, and appointment letters. One resident said she was unable to file her tax return as her W-2 still has not arrived.

In some areas of town, community members also reported receiving the December holiday edition of The Windham Eagle newspaper just last week, the first delivery in seven weeks. Many are dissatisfied with the irregular delivery schedule of the newspaper and magazines by the postal service and want to receive the missing issues. This has been an ongoing problem since last fall, and concerns have been addressed to the Postmaster General for New England, who indicates they are working on resolving the matter.

Kelly Mank, who owns The Windham Eagle newspaper, said she’s encouraged by recent improvement in delivery of the newspaper in Raymond and said the issue hasn’t affect delivery to all homes, just to some areas.

Sadly, the Raymond Post Office receives a 1.9-star review on Google. Reviewers complain about a 75-minute closure for lunch and unsatisfactory customer service from the Raymond Postmaster.

Gayle Farrell’s review says, “Have not received any mail since December. Filed a complaint and the postmaster of Raymond closed it as “resolved” and three days later still no mail. Medical documents, social security documents, checks, retirement info, and more. Where is my mail? Went to ask and I was told ‘it’s in the truck.’”

Raymond resident KJ Grow submitted this review: “I cannot tell you how much disruption and inconvenience this has caused in my life and for my neighbors. Checks never arrive, health care documents and insurance cards never arrive. Packages usually arrive, but you have to track for yourself, when they are likely sitting at the post office, and if you're like me, take time off work to go pick them up. Somehow The Windham Eagle always makes it to the mailbox. I cannot imagine the stress this must cause for people who rely on USPS for prescription medications.”

After submitting a service request, one resident reported receiving a case number within 24 hours. The email stated that the USPS would investigate the situation and then reach out to resolve the issue. As of this printing, no response has been received by the resident after two weeks have passed.

The USPS offers several contact methods for concerned customers. You can visit your local post office and ask to speak to the Postmaster to inquire about mail concerns. USPS customer service can be reached by email at: Or reach out by phone at 1-800-ASK-USPS® (1-800-275-8777). Forms are provided to submit a service request.

Copies of The Windham Eagle are available at locations throughout the Lakes Region as well as on its website at: <

Friday, February 9, 2024

Windham volunteer completes cycling adventure to raise money for Fuller Center

By Masha Yurkevich

How far would you go to help someone in need? A bag of groceries, a tank of gas, a few extra dollars? Diane Dunton Bruni was willing to ride 488 miles through Florida on a bicycle as part of the Fuller Center Bike Adventure to raise funds to eradicate poverty housing.

Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for
Housing's President Diane Dunton Bruni of 
Windham recently completed a 488-mile
bike ride through Florida to raise money to
eradicate poverty housing. She rode as part
of a group traveling down the east coast of 
Florida from just south of Orlando to the
southernmost part of the United States in
Bruni is the Board Chair, President and a founding member of the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing, an organization that launched in 2019 with five churches and Saint Joseph’s College. Original churches involved were Raymond Village Community Church, Windham Hill UCC, Faith Lutheran Church, North Windham Union Church, and the Unity Center for Spiritual Growth. Since then, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church has joined.

“We are connected to a National Fuller Center in Americus, Georgia,” says Bruni. “The Fuller Center for Housing was started in 2005 by the former founder of Habitat for Humanity, Millard Fuller. He left Habitat in 2004 to get back to the grass roots philosophy of building and repairing homes. He called it Theology of the Hammer.”

This was the fourth time Bruni has been part of the Fuller Center Bike Adventure.

“The Fuller Center has rides in different areas of the country and one that is cross country every year. I did the last week of the cross-country trip in July of 2022 from Burlington, Vermont to Windham, Maine. In 2023, I biked the Tour de Florida west coast and the East Coast ride from Tybee Island, Georgia to Wilmington, North Carolina. This year, the Tour de Florida was on the east coast of Florida starting just south of Orlando to Key West.”

Even though the ride was in Florida, it was far from a vacation.

“Every ride keeps a rigorous schedule,” says Bruni. “We are up at 6 in the morning after a night sleeping on thin mattresses, pack our gear and get it to the support van by 6:30, eat breakfast and clean our host church by 7:30 a.m. We circle up and hear about the route for the day, then someone in the group shares a devotional, a prayer is said for our safety, and we are off. The days average ride is 65 to 70 miles. The support vans stop every 20 miles to offer snacks and water or Gatorade.”

After they arrive at their next location, the riders unpack the van, get escorted to showers, share in a community dinner and then do it all again the next day.

There were 34 riders on this year’s ride.

“It is not the ride,” says Bruni, “It is the experience and the people you meet that you are riding with or on teams with or sharing some down time with during the course of the adventure.”

For Bruni, it is listening to people’s life stories, their joys and their hardships. It is listening to their faith stories and how God has shown up in their lives.

Some people ride because it is an inexpensive way to see the country, but many people are changed by the ride. “I have lifelong friendships from the rides I have been on,” she says.

The goal of the ride is to raise funds to eradicate poverty housing. There are 95 Fuller Centers in the United States and 20 global sites.

“During the ride, there are always days when we work on building a home or repairing a home," says Bruni. “This becomes a shared experience and riders see the true impact of what the Fuller Center is all about. My faith in God is always renewed by the connections I have with the people we meet and strangers along the way. We rode in rain, thunderstorms, wind, and nice weather but we all looked after each other. If someone stops, we make sure we do not pass the person without making sure they are okay. Strangers listen to our story and are in awe of what we do. We are so divided today and yet but having a shared experience and listening to each other, we are connected. As one of my very good cycling friends told me on my very first ride, ‘It is not about the ride, it is about the people you ride with and meet along the way.’”

Bruni tries to stay in shape by riding her road bike year-round, even during the winter in Windham.

“I had foot surgery on Sept. 7, so I had not been on my bike since Sept. 6, the day before my surgery,” she says. “I did strength training. I have to be honest, my foot was in pain the whole ride. I persevered though and completed the whole 488 miles.”

To date, Bruni has raised $3,000 this year for materials for home repairs in the Sebago Lakes Region community.

“We are in Windham, Standish and Raymond,” she says. “All of the funds I raise stay local. We are an all-volunteer organization repairing homes for seniors and veterans. Last year, we worked on over 15 projects to help people in our community stay safe in their homes.”

The January Tour de Florida is the first ride of each year. There are multiple rides from January until October across the country. While Bruni will not ride again this year, she will ride next year in some part of the country that she has not seen before.

Bruni has always been active with nonprofits. She is an author, entrepreneur, photographer, and artist. She is also a former Board volunteer and Chair of the Good Shepherd Food Bank, a volunteer for Junior Achievement of Maine, Relay for Life and the Dempsey Center.

She is married to Jeff Bruni and the couple makes her home on the shores of Sebago Lake with their two dogs, Mia and Charlie. <

Presumpscot Regional Land Trust announces partnership with local libraries for Nature Story Times

By Ed Pierce

Combine the beauty of the outdoors with some fantastic children’s literature and you have the basis for some memorable times for kids. That’s the premise of an exciting new partnership between the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and Baxter Memorial Library in Gorham, the Gray Public Library, Walker Memorial Library in Westbrook, and Windham Public Library.

Families and children will gather for a Nature Story Time
at Black Brook Preserve in Windham on April 10 as part
of a new partnership series between local libraries and
Presumpscot Regional Land Trust. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
According to a press release issued by the land trust, this new collaboration aims to bring the joy of reading and the wonders of nature together through a series of Nature Story Times on Presumpscot Regional Land Trust trails.

Presumpscot Regional Land Trust Community Engagement Manager Brenna Crothers says that the Nature Story Times are set to take place at local preserves within each town.

She said the free Nature Story Times events will incorporate themes such as streams, fish migration, fairies, gnomes, and more. Each event will be around an hour long, including one or two books read aloud, followed by a nature hike. These outings are geared toward families with kids ages 2 to 5, although older children will be welcome as well.

Families and nature enthusiasts alike can look forward to engaging storytelling sessions surrounded by the serene beauty of these preserved areas, Crothers said.

The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust believes that connecting children and families with the outdoors fosters a love for nature and a sense of environmental stewardship from an early age, she said, and the Nature Story Time Series offers engaging and interactive experiences for children and families to connect with the outdoors.

The first Nature Story Time was held at Pride Preserve in Westbrook in conjunction with Walker Memorial Library on Wednesday. Crothers said the theme revolved around fairies and gnomes, allowing participants to create their own fairy/gnome crown and explore the wooded terrain of Pride Preserve while searching for enchanting fairy houses along the trails.

The next event is what is being called a “Stream Explore Nature Story Time” at Black Brook Preserve in Windham with the Windham Public Library from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. April 10.

Crothers says Black Brook Preserve offers diverse habitats including meadows, woods, and wetlands where a variety of critters can be discovered along the trails, making it a perfect setting for children to explore and learn about nature.

“On May 15th, there will be another Nature Story Time event in anticipation of the annual Alewife Migration at Mill Brook Preserve in Westbrook with Walker Memorial Library from 10 to 11 a.m.,” Crothers said. “Participants can immerse themselves in this beautiful preserve, as they search for signs of fish making their way upstream every spring.”

She said Presumpscot Regional Land Trust staff members are enthusiastic about this new Nature Story Times project.

"We are thrilled to collaborate with our local libraries to combine the magic of storytelling with the natural wonders of our region,” Crothers said. “It's a fantastic opportunity for families to bond, learn, and create lasting memories in the great outdoors."

The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust is dedicated to preserving and protecting the natural landscapes in the Presumpscot River watershed. Through conservation efforts, educational programs, and community engagement, the land trust strives to ensure that these valuable natural resources are enjoyed by generations to come.

PRLT has 20 public access preserves and 3,000 acres of conserved lands with miles of public access trails and water access in the area and partnered with the Town of Windham Land to create the East Windham Conservation Area. That site opened in December and is 99 percent forested and includes 661 acres with 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond, some 38 acres of wetlands and numerous headwater streams.

For more details about the land trust’s collaborative project with the libraries, call Crothers at 207-200-4067 or send an email to <

Friday, February 2, 2024

Lewiston presentation reaffirms faith in human spirit for Windham poet

By Ed Pierce

A Windham resident who believes that written words can soothe emotional pain presented a framed copy of a 14-line poem he composed to Lewiston city councilors during their meeting on Jan. 23.

Windham poet Bob Clark was honored by members of the
Lewiston City Council during a meeting on Jan. 23 for a
poem he wrote last October recognizing the bravery shown
by Lewiston residents following a mass shooting there on
Oct. 25 which killed 18 people and injured 13 others.
Bob Clark composed the poem “Our Candle Vigil” in response to the Oct. 25 news of two separate shooting incidents in Lewiston in which 18 people died and 11 more were injured by a lone gunman.

“I wanted to communicate support for people victimized by the deaths and wounds,” Clark said. “I wanted to acknowledge the collective bravery being shown by citizens as they were directed to shelter in place. Peoples’ plans shifted, and a manhunt was on. I became fearful since Windham was within striking distance of the shooter’s escape. Eventually the danger ended, allowing recovery to begin.”

Clark grew up and spent a great deal of time only a few towns away from Lewiston and said that his aunt had graduated from Bates College there. He had worked for an adult education program in Lewiston after serving in the U.S. Peace Corps in El Salvador in 1980 and has many connections to the area.

“I felt unsettled learning of death and injury details. The ugly truth was on my mind, so I wrote and edited and placed feelings directly into poetry,” he said. “Once the lyrical stanzas were complete, I contacted the Lewiston Sun Journal in the hope that if it was published it might ease some of the shocking pain. In that way, I wanted to communicate with victims that they were not alone in their grief.”

His poem “Our Candle Vigil” was published in the Lewiston Sun Journal in its Nov. 4 editorial section.

At the end of December, Clark visited Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline and took him a copy of the poem. That led Sheline to invite Clark to present a framed copy of “Our Candle Vigil” to the Lewiston City Council at its next scheduled meeting.

According to Clark he is thankful to have found the will to compose the poem and feels it has had a positive effect upon a grieving community.

“It was not pleasant work to align tortuous words that questioned reality and at the same time reflect feelings of agony,” he said. “By contrast it was uplifting to convey the strength of community-wide solidarity. The poem includes both types. Many candlelight vigils have taken place. Those images became my visual connecting point. Above the poem’s title I presented to the council is pictured the glow of 18 candles. This assault is nothing I take lightly.”

Clark told Lewiston city councilors during his presentation that the community showed resolve and determination during the ordeal.

“So, these traits continue and no doubt in the same way that Bostonians showed strength in their battles of Breeds and Bunker Hill. These traits are helping heal and helping move forward, and to gain our footing again,” he said. “Learning about those October crimes caught me off guard and in disbelief. I was listening, watching, and fearful. Realizing the senseless harm, and injury, and death just plain hurts. Soon after, in open grief, gatherings started taking place, community prayers were raised, and candlelight vigils were held. As heartfelt as ideas are, no words erase scars or do away with pain but this short poem arrangement I hope will serve, alongside others, to honor victims of this gruesome assault.”

Since its publication, Clark says that responses to his poem and the Lewiston City Council presentation have furnished him with faith in the importance of humane connections.

“The composition of ‘Our Candle Vigil’ became positioned with an unexpected outcome. My usual writing themes relate nature to people and people to nature, I’ve never characterized crime or punishment,” Clark said. “The events had jarred my senses. I related with deeply seated sorrow. I was hopeful it could bring some comfort. The poem seems to carry that affect. Work with words is a labor of love, I feel rewarded to realize the use of poetical lyrics does benefit recovery.”

He said that the events before and during the Lewiston shootings had a dismal effect on him and for his home state of Maine.

“I never envisioned a type of support that would have me reading a poem at a televised, open city council meeting. But it has happened,” Clark said. “Words are surely not a medical remedy for the fatigue of emotional pain, though they are a way to communicate. They can relate a positive intent. They can show concern. They can calm nerves. I am gladdened that my words have found a positive place in all the stress and madness of these past crazed events. I am also being inspired to find that compassion remains at the ready, it continues to be reliable. I am glad to have joined in to help victims heal from the shooter’s mind-numbing cruelties.” 

Our Candle Vigil

What pain is there when too much has been ground

Into the heart as if a dagger speared

Would cause to suffer wild screaming sounds

’Til eyes are left to grieve alone in tears?

What prayer verse could have been keeping guard

Where people work and prosper next to each

Among their kin and friends from yard to yard

And ask to only practice what they preach?

These shocking deaths for whom we now do bear

A witness to when love is lost to hate

Does rob us all of playfulness and cheer

Until the burden heals its own weight.

Tonight our candle vigil air is filled

With light that reaches far into the hills.


Governor nominates Windham resident for new Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Authority board

Maine Gov. Janet Mills has nominated 11 individuals to serve on the board of the Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Authority and one of the individuals she nominated is from Windham.

Christopher K. Washburn
of Windham is the Manager
of Benefits and Leave
Administration at Retail
Business Services for
Delhaize America and
has  been nominated to 
serve on the board of the
Maine Paid Family and
Medical Leave Benefits
Created as part of the statewide paid family and medical leave program signed into law by the governor last July, the 15-member Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Authority is responsible for overseeing the implementation and administration of the new program that will make available 12 weeks of paid time off to eligible public and private sector workers.

"I am proud to nominate each of these qualified individuals to serve on the Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Authority,” Mills said. "I am confident that each will work hard to ensure that Maine's new Paid Family and Medical Leave Program serves its intended purpose of helping Maine people deal with life's unexpected challenges while accommodating potential hardships for Maine employers."

Among the governor's nominees is Christopher K. Washburn of Windham.

Washburn has served as Manager, Benefits and Leave Administration at Retail Business Services, Delhaize America since 2010. He previously supervised employee benefits at Hannaford Bros Co./Delhaize America from 2004 to 2010. He has extensive background in benefits and leave of absence administration design.

According to Mills, Washburn has been nominated to serve in the Authority seat reserved for a member with expertise in issues related to paid family leave benefits and paid medical leave benefits.

Each of the governor's appointments is subject to review by the Maine Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Labor and Housing and Confirmation by the Maine Senate and each appointment is for a three-year term.

In addition to the 11 Authority members appointed by the governor, four seats on the Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Authority are reserved for the Commissioner of Labor or a designee; the State Controller or a designee; the Commissioner of Professional and Financial Regulation or a designee; and an employee of the Department of Health & Human Services with expertise in foster care and adoption.

The Maine Department of Labor has announced that Luke Monahan has been hired to serve as Director of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Program. Monahan, a Maine native, most recently served as the Associate Director for the Division of Disability Determination Services with the Department of Health and Human Services, an office that was tasked with making the medical determinations of the Social Security Disability Insurance program. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College and Northeastern University.

"As someone who has worked with people with disabilities and marginalized populations for my whole career, as a working parent, and as the son of small business owner, I understand the importance of building a streamlined, transparent, and effective program for the Maine people," Monahan said.

Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said she looks forward to working with the talented people nominated to the Maine Paid Family and Medical Leave Benefits Authority and Monahan.

"There is much work to be done before the program is fully implemented in 2026, and I encourage everyone to engage in the process through the upcoming listening sessions," Fortman said.

Payroll contributions for the Paid Family and Medical Leave Program begin January 1, 2025. Benefits will be available beginning in 2026.

Beginning May 1, 2026, Maine’s new paid family leave law will allow Maine employees to take up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave benefits over a one-year period.

Its benefits will be financed by a mandatory “premium” based on employee wages of up to 1 percent, to be split evenly between employee and employer, with each bearing a maximum burden of 0.5 percent of weekly wages as a premium. Maine employers with fewer than 15 employees will not be subject to the payment of the employer’s portion of the premium, though they will still be obliged to collect and remit the employee portion. While coverage starts May 1, 2026, Maine employers and employees will initially begin paying the 1 percent premium beginning on Jan. 1, 2025.

The program will be administered by the Maine Department of Labor and will cover virtually all employees in Maine, including public employees except for employees of the federal government. Self-employed Mainers will have the option of voluntarily participating in the program,

Up-to-date information on the new Paid Family and Medical Leave Program, its rulemaking process, and upcoming listening sessions is available at /labor/pfml/. <

Friday, January 26, 2024

Sebago Lakes Region Chamber welcomes new board chair and recognizes award recipients

By Kaysa Jalbert

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce celebrated 60 years with the theme “Honoring the Past, Treasuring the Present & Shaping the Future” at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner held on Thursday, Jan. 18 at Camp Sunshine in Casco.

From left, Vickie Bartlett, Jane Bartlett, President/CEO Robin
Mullins and Board Chair Jonathan Priest gather during the
Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce's annual
meeting and awards ceremony on Jan. 18 at Camp Sunshine
in Casco. The Bartletts attended the ceremony representing
the Bartlett family as the late George Bartlett was honored
with the Frank Koenig Chamber Hall of Fame Award.
“We shared a video on the Chamber’s incredible history and discussed how the organization continues to thrive and evolve as the region changes,” said Robin Mullins, President of the Sebago Lakes Region of Commerce. A table at the event highlighted the 60 years of the Chamber’s history, including regional guides and photo albums.

Two new Board Members were added to the chamber’s leadership team for 2024. Tricia Zwirner of the Nominating Committee introduced the new board members, Maureen LaSalle of Northern Lights Mechanical, and Maureen Mazur of Taro Health.

The Chamber Board also voted Jonathan Priest of J. Priest Insurance to succeed Jennifer Arsenault of Edward Jones as the new Board Chair. Arsenault was awarded a plaque to commemorate her term of service as Board Chair.

The Annual Meeting also included a social hour, a buffet dinner, a business meeting, and ended by recognizing the following award recipients:

Dave Pollard presented the Chamber’s Community Service Leadership Award to Lacy Antonson for her work in Gray, especially at the Gray Wild Blueberry Festival. Mullins said that the Community Service Leadership Award recognizes a civic-minded individual or group that has made a significant contribution to the quality of life in the Sebago Lakes Region. Nominees are passionate about a cause and work tirelessly for the greater good and to inspire others to become involved in their community.

The Chamber’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award is presented annually to a Chamber member operating in the Lakes Region whose innovation and creativity have succeeded in starting their own successful business while opening new economic opportunities for the Sebago Lakes Region. This member has donated their time and/or resources unselfishly for the good of their local community, Mullins said. This year, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented to Shaw Dwight of Paul's Boutique in Windham. He thanked his team, his father, and his wife for helping him become successful.

Richie Vraux presented the Business of the Year Award to Kenny Cianchette and his team at Erik's Church in Windham. “This award is presented to a Chamber member operating in the region that has set an example in leadership, innovation, and quality, and has provided noteworthy economic opportunity to the people of the Sebago Lakes Region,” said Mullins. “This business should also have donated their time and/or resources unselfishly for the good of their local community.”

Mullins announced the winner of the Frank Koenig Chamber Hall of Fame Award. This specific award is presented to an individual whose commitment of time, resources and talent have made the Sebago Lakes Region a better place to pursue one’s livelihood and dreams.

“Frank Koenig was passionate about the chamber and worked tirelessly for the betterment of our region and his local Chamber of Commerce,” says Mullins. “Like Frank, the recipient should have a history of passionate and active contributions to the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. This person should have made an impact on the chamber and the local community all while maintaining the highest of integrity. The award is presented posthumously to George Bartlett, who we sadly lost in July of 2023.”

The Frank Koenig Chamber Hall of Fame Award given to Bartlett was accepted by his wife, Jane, and his daughter, Vickie, who spoke on behalf of the family, expressing their gratitude for recognizing how much George meant to the community, and how much he would have loved this award.

Mullins said that the Chamber looks forward to another busy year of events in 2024 such as the monthly Business Breaks, the Polar Dip in February, Member Appreciation Week in May, the Scholarship Golf Open in June, the Golf Ball Drop at Summerfest, a Pancake Breakfast at the Gray Wild Blueberry Festival, community Trunk or Treats, the Sebago Spirits Festival, and other community holiday events including the Bid of Christmas.

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce was launched 60 years ago by a group of innovative business owners and was called the North Windham Business Association and is now made up of 14 Board Directors and seven officers whose mission is to foster economic growth and prosperity throughout the region. <

Raymond residents oppose solar farm installation in neighborhood

By Ed Pierce

Residents living in the Pulpit Rock Road and Twin Pines neighborhood near Thomas Pond off Route 302 in Raymond are hoping the Raymond Planning Board rejects a proposal when it meets in March to install a 996 kWac ground mounted solar power generation facility on a property near their homes.

The Wallace home at 30 Pulpit Rock Road is in sight of the 
fence line of a proposed solar farm project in Raymond.

Allen Solar, LLC submitted the proposal to the Raymond Planning Board in October and seeks to locate the Mainely Solar facility on Roosevelt Trail on a lot owned by Scott and Aimme Allen with access to the project area through a lot owned by Scott Allen using the existing Raymond Marine entrance to Roosevelt Trail. The project lots amount to 17,817 square feet and intend to occupy about 6.8 acres located within the town’s Rural Residential District and portions are within the Shoreland Zone, Limited Residential/Recreation District.

The project will also require approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers filling a small 325-square-foot wetland to support project access. The solar company says the property will be fenced and buffers and setbacks will be deployed to minimize visual impact.


Laurie Wallace, whose property abuts the proposed project, says that acreage for the proposed site is hilly, heavily wooded and filled with vernal pools, critical wetlands and streams that run downhill directly into Thomas Pond.

“It is the habitat of many birds, four-legged animals, and amphibians,” she said. “We support energy sources other than fossil fuels. But placing a commercial solar farm in this sensitive ecosystem can ultimately do more harm than good. Raymond is considering making commitments to an industry that could, if unchecked, harm the pristine environment in which we’ve chosen to live. If this specific project is allowed to move forward, it could set a dangerous precedent in Raymond and the Lakes Region.”

Wallace said the Thomas Pond watershed feeds directly into Sebago Lake, the source of drinking water for thousands in the Greater Portland region.

Dave Hall, another abutter to the proposed solar farm who lives at 32 Pulpit Rock Road, said this project doesn’t fit in that neighborhood.

“My family has lived in the neighborhood since the houses were built in 1983. What I object to about the proposed solar project is leasing the land for a commercial project does not seem like something that should happen in a residential neighborhood,” Hall said. “The planning board seems to have allowed solar projects in residential zones with no safeguards to protect the surrounding property owners. They did not create reasonable setbacks or other rules that would have kept this project from being planned to have seven acres of solar panels start 150 feet from a person’s house. The property is a watershed of Thomas Pond, just below the project is a stream running into Thomas Pond. We are concerned our property values will go down with an industrial business venture going on behind our houses. The town’s comprehensive plan states that proposals and projects should not impact way of life and property values. When asked at the public forum the planning board said," that is not the basis of decision making. " It seems like it should be. Our neighborhoods are in danger from plans like this. We keep saying this is the wrong property for a project like this.”

Jennifer Danzig also lives in a home which abuts the project. She and her husband have lived there since 1998 and raised three children and says she taught her children to be good stewards of the environment and the community and for those reasons she opposes the project.

“The proposed solar project is a private, for-profit, commercial solar farm which requires clearing 7-plus acres of forest land designated as rural residential located in between Route 302 and the shoreland zone of Thomas Pond. It is an environmentally sensitive area that just isn’t the right location for this project,” Danzig said. “This forested area is the home to many birds, four-legged animals, and amphibians that will be displaced which will impact the local ecosystem. In addition, the proposed site is hilly and full of vernal pools, wetlands, and streams that run downhill directly into Thomas Pond.”

Danzig says without the current acreage of forested canopy in this area providing protection against increasingly severe rain and windstorms that residents there could experience even more runoff and potential flooding.

“The Thomas Pond watershed feeds directly into the Sebago Lake watershed which provides drinking water to local residents, and to the City of Portland. So not only will this project severely impact the privacy and serenity of the Thomas Pond residents, but health and safety issues could arise, and property values could be adversely impacted,” she said. “Many other Maine towns have moratoriums on these projects until more research becomes available regarding all of the unintended consequences of such installations. Raymond Waterways Protective Association states all of the lakes, ponds, and brooks in Raymond are physically connected; consequently, many people in Raymond and neighboring towns beyond those on Thomas Pond could be affected by this proposed project. If allowed to move forward, it could set a dangerous precedent for this type of installation in other rural residential neighborhoods around the lakes in our community.”

Company response

Dave Fowler of Mainely Solar says that his company has more than 22 years of experience developing responsible renewable energy projects across Maine and that the proposed Allen Solar project is a 1MW solar facility that will help ensure that Maine reaches its goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2040.

“Landowner rights are among the most important aspects to consider when developing any project. The town has adopted a solar ordinance that allows the use in the Town of Raymond to ensure those rights don’t burden the neighbors,” Fowler said. “Our project meets all of the land use standards that Raymond has adopted. Given the feedback from the planning board process, we have voluntarily agreed to increase the setback from the abutting property line. While we will be clearing approximately 4.5 acres of land for the solar panels, equal to 2 to 3 house lots, the environmental and life safety impacts will be significantly less.”

Fowler said the field will be mowed no more than two times per year, compared to lawns, which are mowed as frequently as needed and that minimizes runoff.

“We will not be using any fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides frequently used by many of the homes in the Thomas Pond watershed,” he said. “Stormwater from the project’s impervious surface and the existing impervious and developed areas will be captured, treated, and discharged at the same peak flow rate as it does today. To further protect Thomas Pond's water quality, a site-specific erosion and sedimentation control plan has been developed for construction. The seed mix used will be pollinator-friendly and fire-resistant.”

According to Fowler, the project will include a fire suppression system consisting of a 10,000 cistern and a network of piping and fire standpipes and the fence surrounding the project will include multiple gates with knock boxes, allowing Raymond Fire and Rescue to respond to emergencies.

He refuted objections about lowered property values, saying numerous studies show that solar projects of this size do not impact property values.

“At the same time, you can undoubtedly find studies on the internet that have contradictory opinions. There is no study with conclusive findings of adverse impact,” Fowler said. “We understand that there are concerns regarding impacts to the environmental resource. All protected natural resources within the parcel have been identified by licensed professional scientists in accordance with Maine DEP and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers standards. The project has been designed to avoid and minimize impacts to these resources to the greatest extent, meeting all local, Maine DEP, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rules and standards. The local code enforcement officer, the local civil engineer, and the fire department have reviewed the project. Many abutting lot owners who have expressed concerns, enjoy using the Allen property without verbal or written permission. That is expected to continue except for the 4.5 acres that will be fenced.”

The Raymond Planning Board will meet on March 13 to discuss the proposal. <

Friday, January 19, 2024

Raymond Select Board appoints Look permanent town manager

By Ed Pierce

Pending working out specific details of a contract, the Town of Raymond has a new Town Manager after the Raymond Select Board offered Susan L. Look the position during a Select Board meeting on Jan. 9.

Members of the Raymond Select Board have
appointed Susan Look as the new Raymond
Town Manager. Look had been serving in
the role since July 2023 on an interim basis
after longtime Town Manager Don Willard
went on Paid Family Medical Leave and 
then officially retired Jan. 2. FILE PHOTO
Look, who also serves as Raymond’s Town Clerk and Registrar of Voters, has been filling the Town Manager position on an interim basis since July 2023. Coming out of an Executive Session during the meeting, members of the Select Board voted unanimously to offer Look the permanent job as Raymond Town Manager.

Don Willard had served as the Raymond Town Manager for more than 22 years when he left on Paid Family Medical Leave in July 2023, and he officially retired on Jan. 2. When Willard went out on leave last year, the Raymond Select Board then asked Look to stand in for Willard until his situation was resolved.

“From my perspective Sue, you have done a spectacular job in the last 6 ½ months,” said Joe Bruno, Raymond Select Board chair. “You’ve earned this. Well deserved. You’ve stepped up and it’s really appreciated.”

Prior to stepping in to act as the Interim Town Manager, Look’s service as Raymond Town Clerk and Registrar of Voters were not the only duties she had undertaken in her role with the town since she came to work there almost decade ago.

Through the years she has organized the Raymond Select Board’s monthly meetings, taken the Select Board meeting minutes, coordinated with all the people who want to be in the meeting and compiled requests for items to be placed on the agenda. In addition to organizing the town’s scheduled monthly Select Board meetings, and an occasional as-needed emergency meeting, Look has also prepared the warrant for Raymond’s Annual Town Meeting held on the first Tuesday in June every year.

As detailed in an August 2021 profile of her in The Windham Eagle, Look’s history of organizing and planning extends well beyond her time working in elections at the state level and although she was born in Maine, Look has lived all over the east coast and gained valuable experience along the way.

“My dad was in the woolen industry, and we followed the mill closings north,” Look said.

Altogether Look said in 2021 that she moved 40 times before settling into her current home. “I can pack out a kitchen quick,” she said. “And every time I moved, I would always make sure the beds were made before we finished for the day.”

The skills needed to pack up a household and keep calm while moving have helped Look obtain plenty of confidence needed to succeed in her new role as the Raymond Town Manager.

Look was born in Lewiston and has worked for the Town of Raymond since July 2014. She formerly served as the Town Clerk for the Town of West Bath and she was originally hired by Willard to replace longtime town clerk Louise Lester, who was retiring at the time.

Her father grew up in New Gloucester, and she has family connections in both Raymond and Windham. She is married and has two married daughters and two grandchildren, and lives in Richmond.

During her professional career, Look worked for L.L. Bean for 15 years and was promoted to manage the company’s customer name and address filing system. She was appointed as the Town Clerk in West Bath in 2004 and served in that role for five years before working for the Maine Division of Elections for another five years.

According to Bruno, the Raymond Select Board is currently formulating a transition plan to appoint a new Town Clerk and Registrar of Voters to succeed Look in those roles. <

New director settles into leadership role for BTI

By Kaysa Jalbert

Windham’s Be The Influence Coalition has welcomed a new Director, Patrice Leary-Forrey, to the team as it enters year eight of a 10-year grant awarded by the Drug Free Communities to help prevent youth substance abuse in the towns of Windham and Raymond.

Patrice Leary-Forrey is the new director
of the Be The Influence Coalition. She
will lead BTI initiatives in Windham and
Raymond to help deter substance abuse
by youth in the community.
“It’s been amazing so far,” says Leary-Forrey. “The community has been so welcoming and responsive to the program over the years. We have a great leadership team, and I am excited to work with everyone.”

Leary-Forrey says she has been working with other members of the leadership program to carry out on-going initiatives by the coalition in efforts to raise more awareness about substance abuse to the community’s youth, however the new director has some ideas of her own to implement as well.

“I would like to hone-in on prevention of protecting kids from access to substances,” she said. “A new initiative would be to offer lock boxes for families during the Drug Take Back Days that the public safety hosts.”

Drug Take Back Day, according to the official DEA website, encourages the public to remove unneeded medications from their homes as a measure of preventing medication misuse and opioid addiction. It also acts as a reminder to keep medications out of reach of children and locked away.

The lock box initiative would allow parents, grandparents, and guardians to keep personal products and medications locked and secure out of the hands of toddlers and teenagers.

“I'm going to be working hopefully with poison control and Maine CDC to help support that initiative and bring that opportunity to families,” says Leary-Forrey.

Until then, Leary-Forrey plans to focus on executing projects that are already in the works alongside her leadership team. Along with Crystal Aldrich, the Project Coordinator for BTI, they are working together on a youth mattering initiative with the Maine Resiliency Building Network, a program that focuses on community involvement in promoting mental health and well-being amongst young people.

Another plan includes a sequel event to the Jammin’ for Mental Health through the Arts event that was held in May 2023. Be The Influence organizes this event annually with community partners Maine Behavioral Healthcare and RSU 14.

BTI and partners have been hosting a series of “Arts of Prevention” events for years using different forms of art such as painting, music, film, and theater to help the youth express themselves and find healthy coping outlets.

“We will be there hosting other not-for-profits and Maine Health and we will be providing information and support to the families who might need resources in the community,” said Leary-Forrey.

The new director is now in week four of her BTI leadership role and has been keeping busy handling grant requirements, meeting folks in the community, and attending meetings. This week’s mission is to attend club meetings such as Youth Leadership at Windham High School as a means to meet the students and explore ways to support them in their everyday activities at school and to provide prevention education regarding substance use and advice about how to make good choices for themselves.

Leary-Forrey said she hopes to soon meet with the health teachers at Windham High School to bring in some evidence-based programming education into the health classes.

“I am so excited to meet the kids and to work with them and support them in their initiatives,” she said.

Prior to this new role, Leary-Forrey worked as a director for a nonprofit in York County for prevention of child abuse and neglect. She explains it was similar work just with a different focus but also required supporting parents and kids in schools.

According to Leary-Forrey, Be The Influence community coalition meetings will be held on the second Tuesday of the month at 10 a.m. in the training room at the Windham Public Safety building. It is open to the public to hear updates from the community and what BTI is currently working on.

Leary-Forrey grew up in a small rural town in Southern New Hampshire in the Monadnock Region called Fitzwilliam.

“It was a great place to grow up and shares many similarities to Southern Maine,” she says.

She attended high school at Gould Academy and later pursued her undergraduate degree in Psychology and English at New England College. Afterward, Leary-Forrey moved to California to study at Pepperdine University before transferring to Argosy University in Chicago where she obtained a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.

Now, she is a mother of four daughters who are living in Charlotte, North Carolina; Montreal, Canada; and Paris, France. In her free time, Leary-Forrey says she enjoys lots of outdoor activities and sports, watercolor painting, vegetable gardening in the summer and listening to a variety of music and podcasts. <

Friday, January 12, 2024

Apparel Impact bins aim to recycle textile waste from Windham

By Ed Pierce

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American consumer throws away more than 81.5 pounds of unwanted clothing every year resulting an estimated 17 million tons of textile waste entering U.S. landfills every year. It’s an environmental nightmare that does have a solution and Joe Whitten’s for-profit company, Apparel Impact, has arrived in Windham and is addressing the problem one town at a time.

Apparel Impact, which diverted 10 million pounds of
textiles from landfills in New England last year, is 
expanding into Windham and aims to help resolve
textile waste problems through recycling and giving
away to nonprofit organizations in the community.
Last year alone Apparel Impact diverted 10 million pounds of textiles from landfills in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York for recycling and Whitten continues to expand his business to help resolve the textile waste problem.

“I was in software business development for many years but searching for an industry that I felt made both an environmental and community impact,” Whitten said. “When I was told about textile recycling, I did research on the industry and learned that in many ways it could improve. I felt that it was a perfect industry to enter and make a difference. “It can take up to three generations for a non-biodegradable T-shirt to decompose in a landfill. That means any clothing made of polyester, rayon, spandex, or nylon.”

Whitten said that nearly 80 percent of all clothing, shoes, and accessories across the U.S. are thrown out and enter the waste stream. Apparel Impact provides people the opportunity to recycle their clothing instead of throwing it out.

“We provide easily accessible recycling bins across New England and New York that give people the opportunity to see their clothing, reused, upcycled, or downcycled,” he said. “Aside from our primary mission of being a clothing reuse and clothing recycler, we also have an entire division dedicated to providing free clothing to those most in need within the communities we provide service to. In 2023, we provided clothing, shoes, and other resources to over 4,000 people and families.”

Apparel Impact is known for providing more clothing than any other for-profit or non-profit in New England, Whitten said.

“All of the schools that host Apparel Impact bins have access to an outreach link where they can request needed items for students,” he said. “As we grow in Windham, we hope to expand our reach within Windham schools and the surrounding towns. “We are launching the first-ever educational comic-book, Team Impact! It's an entertaining comic-book that involves educating kids on textile waste while also providing great stories of Team Impact superheroes. It comes with a Lesson Plan and Teachers guide as well.”

The expansion into Windham includes partners in Apparel Impact’s efforts to divert textile waste and provide community support.

Current partners have recycling bins at Shaw's Plaza, 770 Roosevelt Trail in Windham; Rustler’s Steakhouse, 61 Tandberg Trail in Windham; Maine’s Auto Connection, 653 Roosevelt Trail in Windham; and at Windham Community Park, 363 Gray Road in Windham.

“We service all of our sites a minimum of once weekly, but the majority of the sites in and around Windham are serviced two to five times weekly,” Whitten said. “We view any business, non-profit, school, government entity or municipality that hosts Apparel Impact bins as our partner. We have nearly 1,200 partners and will approach 1,500 by the end of 2024. These partners are essential to divert as many textiles as possible because they provide the space to locate an Apparel Impact recycling bin, which offers people the opportunity to use it.”

The company accepts all clothing, shoes, accessories, and household linens and has an Acceptable Items List available on its website at that is always updated and available.

“Being veteran-owned and partnering with and supporting veterans' organizations is essential to Apparel Impact's mission,” Whitten said. “We are partners with Windham Veterans Center and are currently looking to partner with the American Legion in Windham as well. Our mission is simple. We exist to divert textiles from landfills, support those in need and to continue our efforts in spreading the word on who we are and what we do.”

He says the majority of local, county, and state officials are excited about Apparel Impact's services within Maine.

“Textiles are the fastest-growing waste stream in America, and the need to divert the waste and instead focus on reuse and recycling is at an all-time high,” Whitten said. “We've saved Maine taxpayers over $300,000 in 2023 alone, diverted nearly 4 million pounds of textiles from Maine, and provided hundreds of people with much-needed clothing.”

Some clothing, shoes and other textiles collected by Apparel Impact are given to U.S. non-profit organizations, clothing graders or clothing recyclers that are looking to use these items as a way to fund their causes and to help their communities. Some materials are sent to foreign marketplaces where families can buy, sell and trade to support their families. We also provide our own local outreaches to support local families and people in need.

“We're a family owned, veteran-owned, local business, so word of mouth and personal connections are essential,” Whitten said. “The public can assist in two ways; they can use the Apparel Impact bins to help divert waste and provide community outreach and they can contact us if they know of a public location that may be suitable to host an Apparel Impact bin.”

To learn more about Apparel Impact and the difference it is making across New England and beyond, visit <

Windham Middle School actors launch a new production: Seussical Jr.

By Masha Yurkevich

Maine winters can be long and dark, but if you’re looking to beat the winter depression, the Windham Middle School has prepared something for just that: the Seussical Jr. production.

The Windham Middle School production of
Seussical Jr. opens Friday, Jan. 12 and runs
through Sunday, Jan. 21 at the Windham High
School Performing Arts Center. Performance
times are 7 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
If you are wondering what Seussical Jr. will be like, Beth Gaudet, a show producer, sums it all up by saying: “Think of all the Dr. Seuss books mashed into a musical!”

As the producer, Gaudet is responsible for organizing everything related to the production, from getting schedules out, building the sets, to getting other parents involved in the process.

“This production is unique because it has numerous lead roles, providing ample opportunities for the kids to showcase their talent,” says Gaudet. “I am always amazed to see how the production develops from start to finish. Our director, April Monte, has a special way of working with the kids that brings out the absolute best in each and every one of them.”

For Gaudet, her favorite part of this musical is watching the fun, colorful, and happy story come to life on stage.

“The show is exceptionally entertaining with its magnificent set design and costumes,” says Gaudet.

Monte, the director, is head of the theater program at WMS and is also the choreographer, helps build set designs, works with lighting designers and sound designers, comes up with all the dancing in the show, and tells the students where to stand on stage when they’re saying their lines.

“This show is kind of crazy because everything is to music, so the children have a lot to learn when it comes to choreography,” says Monte. “It’s like Shakespeare for kids because it’s all rhymes; it’s basically Shakespeare but with Dr. Seuss lyrics. It’s been a very big challenge for the kids because the music is not easy either so they’re learning a lot but are also having a good time.”

For Monte, she has many favorite parts to the show.

“If I had to choose one, I would probably say the opening number is my favorite,” she says. “I also love the end when they all dance to Green Eggs and Ham.”

Seussical Jr. is a one-act musical comedy and is based upon the successful Broadway production written by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. The plot draws heavily from the stories of popular children’s author Dr. Seuss, including Gertrude McFuzz, Horton Hears A Who! and Horton Hatches the Egg among many other Seuss tales.

Annabelle Riley plays the Cat in the Hat in the WMS production and has been acting since she was 5 years old.

“This is my first lead role,” she says. “When I was cast as the Cat in the Hat, I was completely surprised. There are so many talented kids in the cast, and I am really grateful that the director chose me. Our wonderful director definitely knows what she’s doing and respects everyone in the room.”

Riley's favorite part about this musical is hearing everyone’s voices and how different they are, and seeing how all their hard work has really paid off.

All performances will be held in the Windham High School Performing Arts Center and shows start Friday, Jan. 12 and run through Sunday, Jan. 21. Performance times are 7 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are priced at $12 for seniors and students and $14 for adults.

Everyone is invited to see a wonderful show and leave in a great mood.

“Come see the show if you want to have a really good, fun time,” Monte said. “You’re not going to leave without a smile on your face, I can promise you that.” <

Friday, January 5, 2024

Year in Review 2023 (Part Two)

2023: A year of collaboration, connection, and community


EPA unveils plan to clean up Keddy Mill site in Windham

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unveiled its proposal and plan to clean up the Keddy Mill Superfund Site, located on Depot Street in South Windham.

Longtime businessman and community
leader George Bartlett died July 21
after a short illness. Bartlett will be
remembered for his dedication to
local charitable causes and his kind and
jovial nature. COURTESY PHOTO
The proposed plan details measures EPA will take to clean up the soil, sediment (inclusive of fish tissue), and groundwater at the site. This cleanup will be comprehensive and protective of human health and the environment. EPA will also accept public comments on the proposed plan for 30 days and will hold a public information meeting and public hearing on the proposed plan.

"This proposed cleanup plan reflects EPA's recommendations on how to best address contaminated soil, sediment, and groundwater at the Keddy Mills site," said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "This is an important step bringing the Windham community closer to an effective cleanup of the site. EPA is eager to get input from the community and other interested stakeholders on this proposed plan."

EPA's proposed plan summarizes risks posed by contamination at the site and presents an evaluation of cleanup options. EPA also identifies the agency's preferred cleanup alternative along with the other cleanup options considered.

The EPA's preferred alternative in the proposed plan, which would be implemented following the substantial completion of an EPA-authorized "Non-Time-Critical Removal Action" to demolish the mill complex and associated structures, generally includes excavation and off-site disposal of about 22,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil; targeted treatment of soil excavations with amendments in support of groundwater cleanup; groundwater treatment; excavation and off-site disposal of approximately 320 cubic yards of contaminated sediments from the Presumpscot River; site restoration including riverbed, riverbank, wetland and floodplain habitat; land use restrictions (called "Institutional Controls" or ICs) to prevent exposure to site-related contaminants in groundwater and fish tissue until cleanup levels are met; inspections and limited operation and maintenance (O&M); monitoring of groundwater and fish tissue to evaluate the achievement of cleanup levels; and Five-Year Reviews to assess the protectiveness of the remedy. <

Windham mourns loss of business leader, community champion Bartlett

George H. Bartlett Jr., 84, the owner of the Busy Bee Laundromat in Windham for 38 years and someone who was heavily involved in the activities of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and the Sebago Lake Rotary Club died Friday, July 21 after a short illness. 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.

His father owned the Bartlett Radio Company and 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. “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.

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.” <

Equus Foundation honors MSSPA as 2023 Mentor

The Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals in Windham was recognized in July as an Equus Foundation 2023 Mentor.

The EQUUS Foundation is the only national charity in the United States 100 percent dedicated to ensuring the welfare of America's horses and fostering the horse-human bond. EQUUS awards Mentor status to its Guardian charities that have met the foundation’s highest standards for business and equine welfare practices.

Eligible nonprofits include those that:

** Shelter and rehabilitate equines that have been subjected to mistreatment;

** Retrain and re-home equines in transition with careers as athletes, companions, teachers, and healers;

** Provide peaceful and humane retirement and end of life care for aged equines that ensures that they are able to live out their lives in comfort and with dignity;

** Provide mutually beneficial opportunities for people and equines to partner for the purpose of contributing positively to cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being.

Mentor representatives also have the opportunity to serve as members of the EQUUS Foundation Equine Welfare Advisory Group, established to help identify challenges, long term goals, and emerging trends that could affect America’s horses, and explore ways that Mentor organizations can assist other organizations seeking to operate at the highest standards for business and equine welfare practices.

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

The MSSPA was originally formed in 1872 to protect the horses who pulled Portland’s streetcars and fire engines. It now offers shelter services for equines across Maine with access to veterinary medical care and maintains dozens of equines at its South Windham facility. <


Windham USOA Pageant contestant a champion for women's equality

Windham attorney Katie Winchenbach is not afraid to fail, but she is afraid not to try. That sense of self confidence and a champion for women’s equality has led her to become an official contestant in the 2024 United States of America Pageant in Augusta.

Winchenbach will represent the community as Mrs. Windham in the pageant which is designed to encourage women to strive to achieve their hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations, while making them feel confident and beautiful inside and out. The pageant’s motto is to empower women, inspire others, and uplift everyone and it focuses on women empowerment, promoting positive self-image and advocating a platform of community service, which allows contestants to rise by lifting others up.

She’s a corporate attorney and nonprofit leader who is a passionate advocate for women’s equality and is dedicated to finding ways to inspire and empower women across the United States. Winchenbach currently serves as the Program Director for Ms. JD, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the success of aspiring and early career women lawyers.

She said that the pageant will challenge her in new ways that she hasn’t experienced previously.

“I'm looking to be able to show up and support my community as the best version of myself,” Winchenbach said. “Upon starting this journey, I was surprised by how much it pushed me outside of my comfort zone and how many opportunities there were for me to grow as a person. Already, I've been able to become more confident in the way I carry myself and in the way I speak publicly. I work as a corporate attorney and a nonprofit program director, so these are skills that are going to help me immensely even once the pageant is over.”

She said empowering women will be the cause she will champion if she wins the state title.

“I believe in empowering and inspiring women to dream bigger and boldly pursue these dreams,” Winchenbach said.

She went on to win the USOA Pageant for Maine in October and advances to compete in the 2024 USOA Mrs. America Pageant this July in San Antonio, Texas.

RTT rider’s determination to overcome MS leads to 2023 Adult Equestrian of the Year award

Debbie Hutchinson has not let Multiple Sclerosis get her down and riding horses at Riding To The Top in Windham has improved her physical heath and her relationship with a horse at the facility has boosted her emotional well-being. Hutchinson’s efforts to overcome MS at RTT led to her being honored in July by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International as its 2023 Adult Equestrian of the Year.

Hutchinson has been dealing with MS for 30 years and has been a client of RTT for the past three years. She’s experienced struggles with balance and spasticity which affect her ability to walk, but something magical began to happen to her when she was partnered with an RTT mare named Paxton.

“When I’m riding Paxton, I don’t have MS,” she said.

According to Hutchinson, working with Paxton at RTT has not only helped her to deal with her MS more effectively and has also given her a new support network to deal with MS through the friendships that she’s forged with the staff and volunteers at RTT.

Multiple Sclerosis is an immune-mediated disease producing an abnormal response of the body’s immune system which attacks the central nervous system by mistake. The immune system attack damages the body’s myelin, the substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers and the cells that make it. Without myelin to protect nerve fibers, they are also damaged. This can lead to a range of unpredictable symptoms such as tingling, numbness, pain, fatigue, memory problems and paralysis.

Hutchinson’s efforts to not let MS control her life drew notice and admiration from everyone she has worked with at RTT.

"I’ve had the pleasure of working with Debbie for several years. She performs her pre-ride warm up with tenacity, enthusiasm, and determination to assure a successful lesson,” said Susan Layton, RTT team member. “She deals with the stress of her condition daily, but when she is sitting high on her horse, her focus is on establishing a close connection with her horse, achieving horsemanship skills, and the pure joy of riding. Her constant smile says it all." <

State approves funding to complete final segment of Rail Trail project

The final pieces of the puzzle are coming together in the creation of a recreational rail trail from Portland to Fryeburg including a five-mile section passing through Windham, Gorham and Standish that has been underway for the past year.

According to Doug Smith of Windham, vice president of the Mountain Trail Alliance, once completed this section of rail trail will run from Route 202 in Windham to Westbrook and is part of several Active Transportation projects and legislation sponsored for rail trails in other parts of the state. In July, Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed into law a bill authorizing the Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner to construct a multi-use “Trail Until Rail” from Standish to Fryeburg.

“I am a long-time resident of Windham who bikes and walks the Mountain Division Rail Trail several times a week,” he said. “I joined the Mountain Trail Alliance organization to advocate for building out the rail trail from Portland to Fryeburg.”

Advocates for the new rail trail say that it is the least expensive method to expand recreational opportunities in Maine and will provide the most direct and lasting economic and health benefits for residents along the rail corridor.

Smith said that The Mountain Division Trail will spur economic growth and connect Maine communities with a safe, car-free, multi-use trail. The previously completed Eastern Trail, is arguably Maine’s most popular rail trail, and has spurred millions of dollars of economic impact, according to recent studies.

Once work on the section running to Fryeburg is finished, this Mountain Division Trail section in western Maine will be a continuous 40-mile, paved trail, running from Route 202 in South Windham to Fryeburg. Over time it will connect with trails from Portland to North Conway, New Hampshire.

The completed five-mile local section, created just over 15 years ago, runs about halfway through Gorham and halfway through Windham. This is the most used trail west of Portland because it is accessible to all, with a gentle grade, wide trail width and paved.

The next five miles east from Route 202 in Windham to East Bridge Street in Westbrook is in the planning phase. Funding provided by the Maine Department of Transportation, the Town of Windham, and the City of Westbrook has provided a year-long planning and design study. <


MTCCA awards recognize contributions of Windham Town Clerk, Deputy Clerk

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

Morrell was presented with the 2023 MTCCA Town Clerk of the Year Award while Vance received the 2023 MTCCA Deputy Town Clerk of the Year Award. The award program was established in 1991 to recognize excellence both in their contributions to their community as well as to the profession of the municipal clerk and deputy town clerk and are the highest honors awarded by the MTCCA.

Moving with her parents to Windham at age 14 while in her freshman year in high school, Morrell graduated from Windham High School in 1978. She started working as a deputy clerk for the Town of Windham and following seven years of serving in that position, she has spent the last 29 years as the Windham Town Clerk.

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

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

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

Raised in Windham and a graduate of Windham High School and the University of Southern Maine, Vance married her high school sweetheart, and they live in Windham, where they have raised two daughters. <

Togue Derby anglers post record hauls

The Sebago Lake Anglers’ Association successfully concluded their 8th annual Sebago Lake Togue Derby on Sept. 10, and the popular two-day event remains the largest open water derby in the state of Maine.

This year there were 97 individuals who had signed up for the derby and they caught 182 togue to receive a ticket for the Togue Lottery prizes.

The top fish was caught by Bruce Elliott from Naples and weighed 13.67 pounds. He caught it on the Saturday of the event, and it held up to win the overall first prize on Sunday. This is the second year in a row this has happened to the derby’s leading angler and it netted Elliott a $600 payday.

During the event, there were several nice-sized fish caught and lots of togue that fishermen brought in that they did not want to take home. These were distributed to a church and prepared for a fish fry. Other fish went home with SLAA club members, and no fish or entrails were left at Sebago Lake State Park.

The most abundant catches during the derby were turned in by Jesse Maltier and Lea Schwarz. On Saturday, they offloaded 57 fish and as if that wasn’t enough, on Sunday they brought in 33 additional fish for a total two-day catch of 90 fish. Many experienced anglers could not believe anyone could catch so many fish with just two anglers within the time limits of the derby, which ran from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Maltier was no amateur though. He cleaned up his boat and all his terminal tackle was placed out of sight before he came in. He did share the fact that he found a hole and fished it almost exclusively with a small jig (3/16 ounce) dressed with a sparse bucktail, and no bait as a sweetener, as several fisherman had said.

In all more than $2,300 in prize money was dispensed at the awards ceremony or winners were mailed their prizes. <

Longtime RWPA leaders to take on new roles

The dedicated Raymond couple Peg and Neil Jensen announced they will be taking on new, but perhaps less intense, roles on the Raymond Waterways Protection Association (RWPA) Board.

Peggy Jensen, outgoing President, first got to know Raymond’s waters as a child when her Sunday school held its annual picnic and swim every June at Camp Hinds. In later years, Peggy came to love Raymond as a seasonal resident, and finally, in 2008, as a year-rounder.

After earning degrees in math and counseling, Peggy welcomed opportunities to learn about lakes and watersheds from such great teachers as Charlie Turner, Phil Boissonneault, Prof. Holly Ewing, and the staff at Lake Stewards of Maine and Maine DEP. Convinced that understanding the science of our lakes helps visitors and residents want to take care of these resources, Peggy became active in the Panther Pond Association and in RWPA, taking on leadership roles and volunteering for projects -- from installing erosion control practices to identifying aquatic plants, from hand digging invasive milfoil to ferrying supplies to the RWPA divers working to rid invasives.

Neil Jensen, who has served as past RWPA President and Treasurer, and has been an active member of the Panther Pond Association as well, was born in Maine and has spent his summers on Panther Pond since 1950. Through the last decades, Neil has sampled water for testing, created a topographical map of Panther Pond’s bottom, correcting the state’s map, written grant applications, reports, and newsletters, trained as a milfoil diver, and helped lakefront owners install erosion control mechanisms. Neil has built websites for PPA and RWPA; managed the Courtesy Boat Inspection Program and the DASH program; designed and captained the DASH boat, deploying benthic barriers, and ridding waterways of invasive milfoil.

Both Peggy and Neil will continue as RWPA members in the forthcoming years as liaisons to various state and local organizations, as volunteer consultants, and as an “institutional memory” for the board and the organization. <


Windham author realizes dream with publishing of new children’s book

For Donald Osborne of Windham, there was always something missing in his life. Growing up near Lewiston, he loved writing in school as a child and felt he had many stories that he wanted to tell, but life intervened and had other plans for him. He became a father, a stepdad and then a grandfather and his work as a lab processing technician kept him constantly busy. Somehow though, he found the time to write and publish poetry and that inspired him to try writing a children’s book, and the rest is history.

Osborne’s newly published book “The Turtle Who Wanted To Fly” is what he hopes is the first of many stories to come and many more books he will write.

“I have lived my whole life in Maine, so it was wonderful to be able to include some of its natural beauty in this book,” Osborne said. “I love reading stories to my five beautiful grandchildren. It warms my heart when they ask me to read them one of my many stories. I love the imagination of kids.”

The most challenging aspect of his work on the self-published book was working with the illustrator while attempting to match their artwork to his vision of what the story of “The Turtle Who Wanted To Fly” depicts.

“That wasn’t easy,” Osborne said. “It took about six months to get it exactly the way I wanted it while working with Amazon Publishing Pros. The story fell together quickly. We tried to make it imaginative but also factual and certainly wanted to highlight the beauty of Maine with it.”

“The Turtle Who Wanted To Fly” is the story of Smalls, a Maine turtle who dreams of flying. He imagines himself soaring across the sky with his friend, Talon, an eagle, who has told him many stories of adventure, secret places, and of the beauty and splendor of Maine. Smalls lives with his family in the small town of Monmouth, Maine and has many friends including a bunny, a squirrel and his best friend, Bare, the fuzziest little black bear you’ve ever seen. In the story, all of his Maine friends come together to make the dream of flying become a reality for Smalls. <

Maine Lab Rescue closing its doors after 11-plus years of helping dogs and cats

Seeing a need and taking it into your own hands is not something everyone can do, but it was something that Erlene LeBorgne of Windham, the founder, owner, and director of Maine Lab Rescue has devoted herself to. But because of many difficulties encountered in the last year, the shelter has decided to close its doors after 11 years of helping dogs and cats.

Maine Lab Rescue was a foster based rescue organization based in Windham and dedicated to helping prevent euthanasia of dogs and cats in kill shelters in the south. It was licensed as a shelter in both Maine and in Georgia, with fosters in both locations. It served as an all-breed dog and cat rescue, with a focus on labs and lab mixes.

“We would rescue dogs and cats from the kill shelters in Georgia and place them in foster care there,” said LeBorgne. “We then would see to any medical needs, provide core vaccination and heartworm and other testing if old enough, spay and neuter them and then transport them here to Maine. The animals would then be available for adoption once their import quarantine was completed. At times we would have more foster availability in Maine than in Georgia; when that happened, we would partner with other rescues in Georgia, as well as Mississippi and Puerto Rico to bring their pets to Maine for adoption.”

In the 11-plus years that MLR was actively rescuing, more than 5,500 dogs and cats were placed in adoptive homes in 14 states and two Canadian provinces. At one time, MLR was one of the state’s largest rescue groups, placing more animals than many smaller shelters.

Deciding to cease rescue operations for Maine Lab Rescue was among the most difficult decisions LeBorgne says that she’s ever had to make, particularly where it meant that she would no longer be helping medically needy animals.

“While the news of our closing will bring sadness to many hearts, please know that your stories, photos of adventures and the love that we have all shared as MLR family are a strong testimony to our shared love of animals and the desire to rescue and adopt those in need,” said LeBorgne. <

Windham’s cross country teams finish extremely strong in regional championships

Pouring rain did not stop the Windham cross country team from showing they were ready to compete in the Class A Regional championship on Saturday, Oct. 21 at Twin Brooks Recreation Area in Cumberland. The Windham girls’ team all qualified for the state championship and the boys earned a 10th place finish; just one team spot shy of going to the state championship.


“We knew it was going to be rough,” said Windham sophomore Sydney Broadbent, who finished second for Windham and 19th with a time of 21:56.44 minutes. “We knew that everybody was running in the same weather and conditions were going to be the same for everybody and in some ways, it could help us because we’ve worked so hard and prepared since July for this. We were ready for it, and we came and fought, and we did it.”

Junior Tayla Peletier finished first for the team with an 18th place finish overall and a 21.56.32 time.

Sophomore Emma Fox finished third for Windham and 47th overall with a 23:40.61 time. Right behind her was senior Elizabeth Bearce with a 23.50.52 finish.

Sophomore Abigail Dumont finished fifth for Windham with a 24:09.41 time; she knocked off more than a minute from her 2022 Regional Championship finish time.


“It’s a good day to race, with the rain, it cools you off, it makes you feel fine,” said Windham junior Andrew Young who finished first for Windham and dropped over 20 seconds off his 2022 Regional Championship time with a 2023 time of 18:04.92. “Definitely a little slippery ... definitely a good race.”

Seniors Graden Joly, Jinqi Li and sophomore Gavin Lawler all dropped times. Joly finished second for the team and 35th overall with a time of 18:32.53. Li finished third for Windham with a 19:41.63 time.

Lawler finished fourth for Windham with a time of 19:42.76. He dropped an entire minute off his previous Regional Championship time.

Freshman Mason Bragdon finished fifth for the team in his first ever Regionals Championship race. He had a fantastic time of 19:56.47. <


Maine State Chamber honors Mullins as ‘Professional of the Year’

As the president and chief executive officer of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Robin Mullins believes passionately in what she does and never knowingly compromises her standards and values. Her determination to constantly strive for excellence has resulted in Mullins being honored as the Maine State Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 “Dana F. Connors Chamber Professional of the Year.”

The award is named in honor of Dana Connors, who is retiring this year after leading the Maine State Chamber of Commerce since 1994. It was created to recognize chamber professionals who exhibit exceptional service and have made a lasting impact upon their community.

The chamber leadership job is non-stop and highly demanding, yet Mullins makes it look easy.

“The most difficult aspect of my job is not overcommitting myself. This position can easily turn into a 24/7 job,” Mullins said. “I work days, nights and weekends. I am responsible for every aspect of the chamber from membership to marketing and event planning to strategic planning. I am often attending meetings, conferences, and seminars, and often asked to participate on committees, boards, and community events. Of course, the cell phone with instant access to texts and emails certainly doesn't help. I have had to learn not to overcommit myself, say no when needed and establish boundaries to ensure I do not get burned out.”

Her first thought when she was told that she was being honored with this award was how wonderful it was to just be recognized.

“We are not a large chamber. We do not have a lot of ‘big’ business in our region. We are mostly small, locally owned businesses,” she said. “We do not have a significant budget where we can have extravagant events, and we are not typically the chamber you see being interviewed on the news. Yet here we are being recognized by the Maine State Chamber. We are clearly making an impact and must be doing some pretty cool things in our small, beautiful part of the state to be recognized, and that means the world to me.” <

Election results matter to Windham, Raymond voters

After tabulating the results in Windham and Raymond from the Nov. 3 municipal and statewide election, Windham Town Clerk Linda Morrell and Raymond Town Clerk Sue Look submitted the unofficial results for certification from the election.

In Windham, incumbent Mark Morrison tallied 4,204 votes to win re-election for a three-year term to the council for an At-Large position. Write-in challenger Zac Eklund received 947 votes. Also in Windham, Morrell was re-elected to a two-year term as Town Clerk and ran unopposed, picking up 5,324 votes. Incumbent Brett Jones also ran unopposed for a three-year Town Council position representing Windham’s East District. Jones received 4,335 votes.

Windham’s Citizen-Initiated Recall Ordinance referendum passed with 3,448 voters in favor of the measure and 2,524 voters opposed to it.

The new Windham/Raymond Middle School construction referendum was strongly supported by Windham voters with 3,769 voting yes and 2,257 voting no in Windham. Raymond residents cast 975 votes opposing the new Windham/Raymond Middle School construction, while 739 voted in favor of the referendum, which passed because of a plurality of voters in the RSU.

Two candidates representing Windham for three-year terms on the RSU 14 Board of Directors were elected from a field of four candidates vying for the positions. Marge Govoni received 2,803 votes to win one of those positions while Joe Kellner tallied 2,574 votes to win the other remaining position. Justin Whynot received 2,306 votes and Dawn Miller received 2,084 votes.

Among state referendums, Question 3, Do you want to create a new power company governed by an elected board to acquire and operate existing for-profit electricity transmission and distribution facilities in Maine did not pass. In Raymond, 1,245 voted no, 485 yes. In Windham, 4,457 voted no, 1,586 yes. Statewide, the measure was rejected with 69 percent voting no and 31 percent voting yes.

Another state referendum, Question 4, Do you want to require vehicle manufacturers to standardize on-board diagnostic systems and provide remote access to those systems and mechanical data to owners and independent repair facilities passed. In Raymond, 1,489 voted yes, 238 no. In Windham, 5,002 voted yes, 1,008 no. Statewide, the measure passed, 84 percent voting yes and 16 percent voting no. <

Town welcomes new pavilion at Windham Community Park

Though Maine summers are not very long, Windham strives to make them as enjoyable as possible. With the new pavilion addition to the Windham Community Park next to the Community Gardens on Gray Road, the park is now more accessible and gather–friendly.

The park is the site of two basketball courts that are also lined for pickleball, two sand volleyball courts, the skatepark and is also adjacent to the Community Gardens. To celebrate the newly constructed pavilion, an open house was held on Monday, Nov. 6.

“We have been adding picnic pavilions to our various park locations in the past few years, and we always intended to add one or two at the Community Park as we continued to add other elements to the park,” says Linda Brooks, Windham Director of Parks and Recreation. “Following a survey administered by the Age Friendly Windham Committee in October of 2019, an action plan was developed that included a goal to increase access to outdoor spaces by providing accessible amenities at our parks. It made sense to design the Community Park pavilion with this goal in mind.”

The process to make the pavilion a reality started in the Spring of 2022 with a group of volunteers from the local community organization PowerServe, who did the preliminary site work and preparation for the pavilion's foundation.

“In June 2022, our project was one of the sites chosen by the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing, with volunteers biking across the country volunteering to assist in projects around the community that benefit senior citizens and veterans,” said Brooks.

Over the course of the summer, volunteers from the local chapter worked to complete the pavilion.

“In May 2023, we were awarded a $10,000 Community Challenge grant from AARP to be used toward the purchase and installation of accessible pathways to the pavilion and three ADA compliant picnic benches, and this final part of the process was completed by employees of the Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments,” Brooks said. <


East Windham Conservation Area opens

The East Windham Conservation Area opened to the public on Saturday, Dec. 2.

Land at the site is 99 percent forested and includes 661 acres with 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond, some 38 acres of wetlands and numerous headwater streams. Through its conservation the area will directly help protect the water quality for Little Duck Pond, Highland Lake, Forest Lake, and the Pleasant River.

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

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

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

Windham reached out to the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust in 2021 to be an open space partner by holding a conservation easement and sharing responsibility for the trail management on the adjacent 308-acre Lowell Preserve.

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

Windham’s new Town Assessor committed to equitable assessments for properties, businesses

Windham’s new Town Assessor Joshua Houde is responsible for the valuation of all taxable property in Windham, both real estate and personal property.

“We have a powerful computer-assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) program called Vision that stores the property data for each parcel and allows us to compare and contrast similar properties,” he says. “The ability to run reports in Vision allows us to obtain data such as how many properties we have in the Shoreland Zone, what properties have sold on a specific street, or the total number of parcels in Windham. We also have an AXIS GIS mapping system that allows me to click on parcels in a map view to see its assessment data at a glance.”

Visiting a property in person gives Houde concrete, tangible knowledge of the factors that affect its value.

“My responsibilities include reviewing our assessments for accuracy, responding to property owner inquiries, meeting state requirements on reporting, and providing information to other town departments as needed,” says Houde. “This fall, I have really enjoyed working with individual property owners who had questions about their assessments. By listening to their concerns, and analyzing our sales data, I was able to ensure fair assessments for our residents. For some of them, that resulted in a reduction in their assessed value. For others, it didn’t result in a reduction but did entail a clear explanation of what factors went into their assessment that made it fair.”

Houde works with a great team that includes Assistant Assessor Kara Taylor, and appraisers Patrick Mulligan and Teresa Konczal. Taylor records transfers of ownership, manages the business personal property accounts, and processes exemption applications among other things.

“I enjoy analyzing the data and noticing trends and patterns that I can then apply to create fair assessments,” says Houde. “I enjoy working with individual property owners to answer their questions and ensure fair assessments for their property. I enjoy visiting properties in person to understand the factors at play in their assessment. I enjoy collaborating with my assessing staff and with the other staff here at Town Hall. I appreciate that the overarching objective for my department in the end is very simple: to establish fair and equitable assessments based on market value.” <

Windham’s Katahdin Program a state finalist in 'Solve for Tomorrow' STEM competition

Samsung Electronics America announced Dec. 10 that Windham High School’s Katahdin Program is among six state finalists in the 14th annual “Samsung Solve for Tomorrow” national STEM competition.

Representing the best of more than one thousand competition entrants, each state finalist has won a package of $2,500 in technology and school supplies. The finalist schools now advance to additional stages of the competition that will culminate in three schools being selected in May as National Winners and receive $100,000 prize packages.

The annual Solve for Tomorrow competition challenges public school students in Grades 6 to 12 to explore the role science, technology, engineering, and math (the core STEM subjects) can play in addressing some of the biggest issues in their local communities. The competition is designed to engage students in active, hands-on learning that can be applied to real-world problems, making STEM more tangible and showcasing its value beyond the classroom.

“As a company and as individuals, STEM is incredibly important to Samsung – we depend on STEM-savvy people to envision, implement, and engage with innovative STEM-dependent products and services,” said Michelle Crossan-Matos, Chief Marketing, Citizenship and Communications Officer for Samsung Electronics America. "Between 2019 and 2029, the number of STEM jobs are predicted to grow 8 percent, a higher rate than non-STEM jobs."

She said the Solve for Tomorrow competition was designed to provide schools and teachers with an innovative, problem-based learning approach to STEM education to boost student interest, proficiency, and diversity in STEM.

"This fresh crop of impressive State Finalists is proof that we’re succeeding,” Crossan-Matos said.

The Katahdin Program uses the classroom, the outdoors, and the greater community and provides alternative education programming for students in Grades 9 to 12 attending Windham High School.

Windham’s Katahdin Program joins Camden Hills Regional High School, Falmouth High School, Fort Fairfield Middle High School, Saco Middle School, and South Portland High School as this year’s state finalists for Maine. The Maine State Winners will be announced in mid-February 2024.

State winners will receive a prize of $20,000 in technology and supplies and advance to the next phase of the competition. Each state winner will also be given a video kit to help document their project in action. <