February 17, 2017

Student of the week: Braylee Gilbert. Congratulations!

Braylee Gilbert, a fourth-grade student in Mrs. Brackett’s room from Raymond Elementary School is The Windham Eagle’s student of the week. The 10-year-old enjoys spending her free time with family and states that, following her heart on important issues is her greatest accomplishment. 

“Braylee is a very conscientious, hardworking student,” Brackett stated. “She is also a great independent worker and helps others when they are struggling.  She is very quiet during class discussions, but does a great job demonstrating mastery of grade level skills on written assignments.”

Gilbert’s future consists of owning her own beauty shop and she credits her mom, dad and Mrs. Bracket for those who contributed the most to her education thus far. She enjoys learning with people she likes spending time with most.

She lives at home with her parents, two sisters, two cats and one dog.

Favorite movie: “Lilo and Stitch”
Favorite music group: Mark Thomas
Favorite holiday: Christmas
Favorite hobbies/extracurricular activities: Soccer and dance

Tree Talk – Advice from an Arborist by Robert Fogg

Long Cold Winter

Winter is a fact of life in Maine. Some people enjoy it, while others simply endure it. There has been no lack of ice, cold and snow this winter. The bad news is that our heating costs have been high and our public works departments have been stretched to the max. There is a silver lining though. 

Extended periods of extreme cold are exactly what is needed to help kill off invasive insects. We are faced with an ever increasing list of invasive insects that are threatening the trees we value so much. For instance, the Gypsy Moth and the Spruce Budworm are a couple that are already here, and can be held in check by cold temperatures. The Emerald Ash Borer, the Asian Longhorn Beetle and the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid are all knocking at our door. Any one of these insects can bring mass devastation to our landscape if not kept in check. Anyone old enough to remember the Dutch Elm Disease of the 1960s knows what I mean by mass devastation. So, next time the temperature takes a 
dip into negative numbers, just smile knowingly and add some Maine-made wood pellets to the stove. 

The author is general manager of Q-Team Tree Service in Naples and is also a licensed Arborist. He can be reached at RobertFogg@Q-Team.com or 207-693-3831

21st Century Plan continues to make strides forward by Stephen Signor

At a town council meeting earlier this year, council members were asked by Planning Board Director Ben Smith, to endorse an application to the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System (PACTS), for funding in support of transportation improvements, as part of Windham’s 21st Century Downtown initiative. The Master Plan Application will cover final design, construction, and construction engineering - all consistent with a memorandum from Town Engineer Jonathan Earle.

More recently, a community workshop was held at the Little Meeting House in Windham on February 6. The focus of the discussion was to pursue and gain feedback on potential zoning ordinance changes. To this end, it began with a presentation about character based zoning codes. “The goal of this meeting was to bring to light proposed changes in the current ordinances that dictate the types of development allowed in North Windham. Character based codes focus on types of buildings and how those buildings relate to the street, as opposed to a use based code, which is what we have right now. Such changes would permit more flexibility,” explained Smith. 

At the conclusion of the presentation, attendees were invited to form into groups at tables, each set up with maps on which they could develop their own vision of what they would like to see in the plan. Green dots were placed on what they found favorable and red dots on areas which were not. Another exercise provided by the planning department was the placement of 50 pictures on the meeting house walls - representing development examples, ranging from five-story buildings to two- story houses with porches that are together. Here attendees were encouraged to utilize the same sticker formula that was done on the maps.

The results were mixed and well noted, but the conclusion the same. Part of the problem is: How do you increase property and floor values in North Windham, to attract the kind of development that would make it possible for residents who live here to also work here, instead of having to go to say, Portland? “That is the intention and goal of the 21st Century Plan, to make North Windham more desirable with the end goal of improving marketability,” shared Smith.

“In the end, this proved to be a positive step toward form based coding, which is about the buildings themselves, said Smith.” This is separate from the design standards and would put clarity into a project and indicate that there are no allowances and non-negotiable items. “Form-based codes include specification of what uses are permitted in a building or place, but focus on the physical character of development, particularly how it relates to the public realm that everyone shares. A growing number of communities across the country, and in our region, have found that form-based codes are a more precise and reliable tool for achieving what they want, preserving what they cherish, and preventing what they don’t want. It is also a lot less restrictive,” continued Smith.

The ordinances would come into effect when town planning consultants, Vanessa Farr of Maine Design Cooperative and Kara Wilbur from Principal Group, have completed a draft of the proposed ordinances. “There will be ordinance language for us around May or so, followed by another few months for the approval process with the council,” said Smith.

“It’s exciting and a lot of work. It took 40 to 50 years to get where North Windham is now and it’s going to take a while for improvements to be made and development to happen. So, it’s a long time thing for sure. But if we can put all our ducks in a row in the next three to five years, we’re going to be putting things into place that won’t have to get done again for another two or three generations,” concluded Smith.

Windham Indoor Shooting Range opens its doors for Veterans to test drive a variety of weapons by Michelle Libby

Last Sunday, Windham Indoor Shooting Range & Retail Store (WISR) opened its doors for the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 and all veterans who came out to test the newest in automatic rifle (AR) technology; and tour the new facility and the production facility of Windham Weaponry.
Over 20 veterans attended, including three active duty Navy men from the DDG 115 USS Rafael Peralta, who drove down from Bath in the snow, to try out the ARs. 

“It seems like a good time and not too far,” said John Giacobbe from New Hope, Pennsylvania and stationed on the Peralta. “We’ve never made it this far. It’s a really cool range.”  

The active- duty men said they had never been to a shooting event like this before. 

Each man had joined the Navy for different reasons. Nick Flaker from St. Louis, had three words as to why he enlisted, “College is expensive.” 

Tim Song from Los Angeles is looking forward to a career in the Navy. “I wanted to serve in the Navy for the military experience,” Song said. 

Each veteran who wanted to shoot was able to go into the range with a safety officer, to shoot their own weapon or one of the ones borrowed from WISR. 

After shooting the AR, Giacobbe said, “That was fun. I’ve never done full auto.”
“This is the first range I’ve been at that lets you shoot full auto,” Song said. 

Commander of the American Legion Post, Mel Greenier considered the event a success. He was hoping to attract new members to the legion to help with their mission of helping veterans. By the end of the event, one person had signed up and many applications were given out, Greenier said. 

“I haven’t shot in 30 years. I feel good, but beat up. I’m glad they provided us with the opportunity,” said VFW Commander Willie Goodman. 

The American Legion Post 148 is still accepting applications. For more information, visit: www.AmericanLegionWindhamMaine.com.

Eighth grade students show generosity and share the love of reading on Valentien's Day by Lorraine Glowczak

What does one do with 50 free children’s books received from the literary resource company, Scholastic Reading? Mrs. Julie Anderson, eighth grade teacher at Windham Middle School, posed this question to her students when she received the books from the company, as a gift/apology for an error they made on a previous order.

It didn’t take much time for the students to decide what to do. Sparked by the suggestion of student Tea Lamb, the group decided to spread the love of reading by wrapping the books in red and pink heart-shaped wrapping paper and then delivered them to the library at the Windham Primary School (WPS) on Valentine’s Day.

“After discussing a few possibilities, it came down to: 1) Wrapping the books for our future children or 2) Give them to the library,” Lamb explained. “And we decided on the library.”

Pat Powell (L) interim librarian and Tea Lamb (R) 8th grade student
“It was a fun process to witness,” Anderson said. “I especially enjoyed watching the students wrap the books and reminisce about their favorite childhood stories.”

Pat Powell, interim librarian, was there to greet the eighth grade students as they arrived on the cold Valentine’s Day morning, with a big box full of childhood fiction. “We are so very happy to receive these books,” Powell said. “We need new books since some of ours are lost or get damaged during the school year.”

Melanie Keary, library media technician, stated that Mrs. Carrier’s third grade students came in for their library class that morning and were the ones to help unwrap the books and will write thank you notes to the eighth grade students. “The kids were surprised and excited to open all of these new books this morning. Many asked if they could borrow them right away!”

The small paperbacks and hardbacks donated to the WPS Library included such titles as “The Magic Treehouse”, “A Bad Case of Stripes,” and “Charlotte’s Web.”

“Most of these books will go into the library's circulation;” Powell continued, “A few may be donated to the school book-swap we have every spring to help encourage reading at home.”

Dr. Kyle Rhoads, principal of WPS, took a moment out of his busy day to be a part of the book giving festivities. Most of the eighth grade students were returning to their old stomping grounds and getting a moment to talk to their previous principal. Rhoads had to do a double take with some of his former students.” So many of them have grown so much, I almost didn’t recognize some of them,” Rhoads joked. “It is good to see the type of caring and giving people they are becoming.”

Although Valentine’s Day is known for romantic love and thoughtful gift giving to those who matter to us, the considerate donation of books to a primary school library provides the opportunity to spark the love of reading in young children.

"This donation is an example of kids showing kindness and supporting each other in our community,” Kearny continued. “These eighth graders are great role models."