October 22, 2021

Raymond Village Library Director Allison Griffin enjoys meeting informational needs and technology challenges of patrons

Raymond Village Library Director Allison
Griffin has led the library for the past five
years. She received her Bachelor's degree in
library science and earned a masters' degree 
in Library and Information Technology from
the University of Maine. 
PHOTO BY COLLETTE HAYES  
Editor’s note: This is another in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.

By Collette Hayes 

Finding the perfect book for someone is only one of many ways that Allison Griffin, Director of the Raymond Village Library, creates a personal and welcoming atmosphere for patrons.

As Director of the small library, nestled in the woods of Raymond, Griffin’s duties for the last five years have included everything from overseeing and scheduling programming, to financials and figuring out how to pay the bills.

Born and raised in Casco, Griffin is an avid reader and enjoys nature and hiking. She received her bachelor’s degree in Library Science and a masters’ degree in Library and Information Technology from the University of Maine. While working at the Jordan- Small Middle School as a Media Specialist and Technology teacher, she did volunteer work in the community. Working with adults while volunteering sparked her interest in wanting to take a position at the Bridgton Library as Library Director.

“It was at the time I was doing volunteer work that I realized I enjoyed working with adults as well as children,” Griffin said. “It was an opportunity to work with all age groups, not just kindergarten through eighth-grade students.”

The Raymond Village Library is an incorporated non-profit organization. It is a team effort of support staff, volunteers and a Board of Trustees that works to provide a sense of community and educational opportunities to Raymond and the Lakes Region led by Griffin. The two things that are the most difficult for the small library are the limited amount of space the library has to offer and the financial challenges of running a non-profit organization.

“We have to keep our programs pretty small attendance-wise,” Griffin said. “There is not a lot of room for meeting space or programs. Financials are also difficult. We do a lot of fundraising and grant writing which I’m sure is true for every small library. We are in the process of becoming a Raymond Town Department which will hopefully provide more sustainable funding.”

She said that the library’s budget is in the ballpark of about $125,000 a year.

“Since we are independent, we go to the town and ask for support and they fund about $67,000 of our budget which is very generous,” Griffin said. “If we were a town department, they would cover all of our costs. The Board of Trustees voted in favor of becoming a Town Department and now it will go to the Town Referendum in June.”

Raymond Village Library offers a variety of programs for children and adults including the Arts Alliance and the Raymond Community Garden’s programs.

“Our most popular adult programs have been the art classes which have included painting and drawing,” Griffin said. “Informational and hands on arts and crafts programs seem to be the most popular. There is a senior’s bridge group that has been very popular, and they are always looking for new players. The library’s Book Club, organized by Melanie Champniss, meets the last Monday of every month at 6:00. They are doing in person and virtual meetings for those who would like the hybrid option.”

The library is always looking for feedback. One of the main goals is to be able to provide what the patrons are looking for and to provide them with the support they need. The library offers tech support, eReader and Cloud Library services as well as support in filling out applications online.

“If there is a program or service that our patrons need, we would like to try and provide it for them,” Griffin said. “We are here for more than just books. Especially during the pandemic, we had a lot of people coming in who needed help filing resumes and applications online. We helped walk them through the process.”

According to Griffin, the thing she finds most enjoyable about her job is meeting the challenges provided by the patrons whether the challenge is finding an obscure book, locating a hard-to-find map, or providing answers to difficult questions.

Serving in the role as Library Director for Raymond provides diversity which is both enjoyable and satisfying, she said.

Raymond Village Library is always looking to add beneficial programs. If there is a program that you would like to see offered, contact Griffin at 207-655-4283 or email her at: rvldirector@gmail.com.

To keep up with the many events at the Raymond Village Library follow them on Facebook or visit www.RaymondVillageLibrary.org.  <

Windham Town government candidate profiles

Candidates for Windham Town Government 
positions include, from left, Linda Morrell for
Town Clerk, William Reiner, a write-in
candidate for Windham Town Council, and 
David Nadeau, a candidate for Windham
Town Council. Not shown is Edward Ohmott,
a candidate for Windham Town Council.
SUBMITTED PHOTOS  
Windham Town Clerk

(Two-year term)


LINDA S. MORRELL

Happily married for 42 years and the mother of two grown sons, Linda Morrell lives on a farm in town and says she loves to go on walks with friends, going to the movies with her husband, and reading. She moved with her parents to Windham at 14 in her freshman year in high school and 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 27 years as the Windham Town Clerk. In 2007, Morrell was awarded lifetime certification for her duties from the state of Maine at Maine Municipal Association. That meant she served the association in various capacities and continued her education to stay current on laws and procedures and completing all lifetime certification requirements. She also met all qualifications and requirements to be enrolled as a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks allowing her to use the title of Certified Municipal Clerk in all 50 states.

Why did you choose to become a candidate again for the Windham Town Clerk’s position? 

Morrell: “This job has been my career, I’ve done it most of my life, and now that I am getting close to retirement, I really want to finish out my last few years in a job I still enjoy.”

What do you feel is the most significant issue facing the town clerk’s office over the next two years and how do you feel you can help address this issue adequately for town residents? 

Morrell: “I think the next big issue facing this office is gearing up for the Gubernatorial election in November 2022.  It is almost as large as a Presidential election and a lot of thought and planning goes into it.”   

Can you describe what you like the most about living in Windham? 

Morrell: [I have lived in Windham almost my entire life, and I have always enjoyed living here.  Windham is in a good location. We are close to Portland and other towns that have a lot to offer.  The people here care about each other and are always willing to help.”

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about the town since you were first elected as Windham Town Clerk? 

Morrell: It is a nice place to live and raise a family, so a lot of people want to live here and so Windham continues to grow.  Having a successful and thriving town takes a lot of hard work from the staff at Town Hall to all of the volunteers that are needed to work on the many committees.”

Windham Town Council

At-Large Position

(Three-year term)

DAVID NADEAU

­David Nadeau and Marge Govoni, the love of his life for nearly 40 years, live in Windham and have four children, 19 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He retired as an Electronic Engineer. He formerly served as a Windham Town Councilor for six years and was a member of the Windham Planning Board for 10 years before being elected as a Windham town councilor again in 2019.

Why did you decide to become a candidate again for the Windham Town Council this year?

Nadeau:We are in the process of accomplishing several large goals that have been on Council’s agenda for many years. I would like to be a part of bringing them to fruition.”

What do you feel is the most significant issue facing the town over the next three years and how do you feel you can help address this issue adequately for town residents?

Nadeau: There is not “one” significant issue facing Windham there are several, the connector roads in North Windham, sewer to resolve the ground water issues in North Windham and “Growth.” Connector roads: These have been talked about for year. The Council and Town Manager have successfully got MDOT on board and produced a study which has been presented to the public and is presently moving forward. We are investing in Windham. Sewer: For many years we have been aware of issues with the ground water in North Windham. The Town Manager working with Portland Water and the Schools Superintendent, staff and Council, thank you all, are moving this project forward with a two- to three-year completion date. Growth: Many people would like to call Windham home which causes growth. Growth is not a bad word it should be planned for and captured, for investment in Windham and to ensure that what people come here for still exist. There are many people who want a piece of heaven, sorry I mean Windham, but then when they get it they want to close the door. Windham’s zoning has to be corrected, 80 percent of Windham is not farm or farm residential, only a small, fragmented portion is. This causes us to try and put 80 percent of our growth in 20 percent of our town. We are a bedroom community with Rural character, to maintain this character we must plan to maintain it. If we don’t work together to accomplish this goal, we will lose what we all came here for. We can’t close the door, if you think we can then tell me how and I will tell you how high your tax bill will become. Planned growth can fund our future.”

Can you describe what you like the most about living in Windham?

Nadeau: “WINDHAM!!”

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about the town since you were first elected to the Windham Town Council?

Nadeau:Finances: People do not have an understanding on how our finances work, so here is a brief explanation. The Town has an approved budget with all funding being assigned. If a project, such as a road being paid for runs into an unforeseen expense, the monies for the next project have to cover it. That project then gets put off for another year. Unlike you the Town does not have a credit card or bank account to go to, the public assigned our budget and that is all there is. This requires much scrutiny, creativity, and long-term planning to develop a budget that meets these goals. I truly enjoy being a part of creating a budget that meets and exceeds these goals with little to no impact on the mil rate. Which has been evident when looking back on the last budgets.”


Windham Town Council

At-Large Position

(One-year term)

EDWARD OHMOTT

Edward Ohmott is 65 and was born in 1956 (a very good year). He was raised mostly in South New Jersey and went to college in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania at Wilkes College. He moved to California in 1981, to work for the Herald Examiner newspaper in distributing the paper. In 1982, he became a salesman for a cordage company which in time became a packaging supplier as well. He still works toward those ends with a company that he has been with for the past seven years.

Why did you decide to become a candidate again for the Windham Town Council this year?

Ohmott: The most direct and best answer is because it is fun. I really enjoy being part of a group that is focused on moving Windham forward while keeping the resident’s interest in mind.”

What do you feel is the most significant issue facing the town over the next three years and how do you feel you can help address this issue adequately for town residents?

Ohmott:The seat I am running for is just for a year, it is the balance of the person I was appointed for term, so I am just running for the next year. The work that is being done now with the bypass roads, hopefully a sewer system in North Windham area, a community center for all the residents of Windham. These three items alone will go a long way towards improving the lives of the residents today and the future residents. If this is not done today, then it will just be passed off to the next generation. So far in my lifetime I see only costs of projects going up. Would hate to pass that off to future generations to figure out.”

Can you describe what you like the most about living in Windham?

Ohmott:This may sound general but the four seasons, the people, the multiple opportunities, the trees, the fantastic way the town is run. I lived in California for 40 years, if I had lived here for those 40 years these things, I may have taken for granted. I appreciate all these things about Windham, and I have only been here just short of one year, I have so much more to learn.”

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about the town since you were first elected to the Windham Town Council?

Ohmott: “The way a town should be run. I visited all the departments when I was appointed and met the department heads and some of the people who help keep Windham safe and functioning so well. I have been blessed with having many town employees as well as other volunteers give me so much information and guidance.”


Windham Town Council

West District

(Three-year term)

WILLIAM REINER

William “Bill” Reiner first came to Maine in 1982 to attend the University Maine at Orono for Forest and Wildlife Management. A few years later, he moved back to New Jersey and started a career as a paramedic and volunteered as a local firefighter. Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, he transitioned into critical care nursing where he remains until today. He had always hoped to get back to Maine, and finally moved with his family to Windham in the summer of 2016.

Why did you decide to become a candidate again for the Windham Town Council this year?

Reiner: “I have been looking for ways to serve my community since settling in Windham, and this year I can finally make a significant contribution of my time. The West District has no candidate this year, so I felt it was the perfect opportunity to “step up.” The West District needs a voice at the table, and I am ready to take on the responsibility of serving as a productive member of the council. I hope to use my expertise in Emergency Services and serve as a liaison between the town council and Windham Police and Fire. Windham is my home, and with two kids in RSU 14 I have a long-term interest in seeing Windham succeed.”

What do you feel is the most significant issue facing the town over the next three years and how do you feel you can help address this issue adequately for town residents?

Reiner: “Windham is an extremely popular and attractive town, and currently one of the most significant issues is the rate of residential growth. There have been rapid increases in new housing which have contributed to a saturation of schools, Emergency Services, and infrastructure. The concern is that our growth could outstrip our town services. We must be able to match the availability and ability of these services to support the increasing population they serve. Windham has several projects in various stages of development such as the North Windham sewers, the Community Center, and improvements to the Route 302 corridor. We need to keep in mind the financial costs to a tax base already contending with rapid increases in existing property values and grow our town responsibly. Additionally, the preservation of open spaces is an equally important agenda, not just for now, but for future generations. The Windham town councilors have done great work over the past two years, and I look forward to the opportunity to work through these issues with them.”

Can you describe what you like the most about living in Windham?

Reiner: “The quick and easy answer would be, ‘What isn’t there to like?’ The town’s location is paramount, close to Portland but not Portland. Open spaces, farms, woods, trails, and waterways are opportunities that may seem commonplace to locals who grew up in town, but as a person “from away” who grew up in Northern New Jersey, these are things we never had. They are something to hold onto tightly as they are slowly disappearing. I moved here so I didn’t have to worry about my kids being outdoors. Swimming in a river was something I could only enjoy while being at deer camp in the Catskills of New York State. Here, I can take my kids right to Dundee Park. The Recreation department is outstanding, as well the town’s sports programs. Also, you can pretty much find me most Tuesday nights at Pat’s Pizza for Trivia night (which I’ll admit, I will miss since Town Council meeting night is also Tuesday night).

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about the town since you chose to run as a write-in candidate for the Windham Town Council?

Reiner: “Talking to people recently has shown me what a diverse town Windham is: a great mixture of families, economic classes, and laborers. There is also a wide separation of opinions, and finding common ground on issues like expansion, increasing town services, and preserving the character of Windham is not an easy task. But I have seen this town come together when needed. I follow the town message boards online, and I have often seen the members of the Windham community step up and lend assistance when families post a need for support. That tremendous sense of ‘community’ here is a strong foundation we can build on.” <

RSU 14 Board of Directors candidate profiles

Candidates for RSU 14 Board
of Directors include clockwise 
from top left, Jessica Bridges,
Barbara Bagshaw, Jennie 
Butler and Michael Pasquini.
SUBMITTED PHOTOS
(Two available seats for three-year terms)

BARBARA BAGSHAW

Barbara Bagshaw lives in Windham and has more than 25 years of experience in local education. She has taught at levels ranging from grade school to college, including 13 years of teaching Adult Education, predominantly in RSU 14. She has taught art on all levels and at the college level she has taught Introduction to Phlebotomy. She is an artist and a nanny as well. Her passion for the arts, children and serving communities has taken Bagshaw to 24 countries. She is an international speaker on the arts and has spoken in most of these countries, and/or volunteered in orphanages. Bagshaw served as the president of an arts non-profit for 10 years and was the event planner of its international annual event. She oversaw their budget, as well as handling the organization’s fundraising. Her work has been featured in books, magazines and licensed for use in a European school curriculum.

Why did you choose to become a candidate for the RSU 14 Board of Directors this year?

Bagshaw: “I chose to become a candidate for the RSU 14 Board of directors because of my experience, my love of and dedication to children and teaching.”

What do you feel is the most significant issue facing RSU 14 town over the next three years and how do you feel you can help address this issue adequately for residents?

Bagshaw: “I feel the most significant issues facing RSU 14 over the next three years are the curriculum and policy leading to a proper education. I also feel that children’s mental and physical health and their ability to learn and grow in a safe supportive environment is vital. Parental input is needed in all of this.”


Can you describe what you like the most about the quality and caliber of education students receive in RSU 14?

Bagshaw: “One of RSU 14’s core beliefs is community engagement. I think it’s very important that RSU 14 is trying to attain the best environment for every child’s education. It is always looking to improve but carving out a partnership with the families will continue to move the district forward in accomplishing crucial educational goals.”

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about RSU 14 since you have declared your candidacy for the RSU 14 Board of Directors?

Bagshaw: “The most important thing I have learned about RSU 14 since I declared my candidacy is the parents, students, and teachers deserve a voice and advocates.”

 

MICHAEL PASQUINI

Michael Pasquini is a proud Windham resident and parent to three children. His personal passions range from family, food, and sports. He loves to cook for friends and family, especially using fresh ingredients from his garden. Sports have always been a large part of his life. He’s a huge hockey and football fan but loves golf above all. He said he had a blast coaching in Windham Little League this past summer and is looking forward to doing so for years to come. His professional life has been diverse to say the least. His experience ranges from teaching and playing the game of golf for a living, to operating his own distribution company, to currently serving communities across five states as a licensed life and health insurance agent. He said he has learned a great deal from each venture, both successes and failures that he consistently applies to his everyday life. .

Why did you choose to become a candidate for the RSU 14 Board of Directors this year?

Pasquini:My decision to run for a seat on the RSU 14 school board of directors was primarily based on having three kids in the district school system. I want to effectively represent their educational needs and those of their peers and families. I would describe myself as a levelheaded, critical thinker that likes to educate himself on topics prior to passing judgment or opinion. I feel that these are qualities that will serve our board well.”

What do you feel is the most significant issue facing RSU 14 town over the next three years and how do you feel you can help address this issue adequately for residents?

Pasquini: “Whether we like to admit it or not, the pandemic has changed our lives in a variety of ways. There are tensions in the air that simply did not exist two years ago. We all love our children and I firmly believe we all want the best for our neighbors. What we need right now are elected officials that can help pull our community together for the better through application of logical thought, transparency, integrity, and open discourse. The choice is ours and that has never been more apparent.”

Can you describe what you like the most about the quality and caliber of education students receive in RSU 14?

Pasquini: “There are reasons why we all live in Windham. The reputation of the school district was paramount for us. I’ve had the pleasure to meet and engage with so many upstanding young adults in this community. As a whole, their character, intelligence and drive to succeed speaks volumes about the quality of our educators. Further, many of the older kids in our neighborhood are proving to be exemplary role models for my kids! As a member of the board, I would strive to support the RSU 14 mission “success for all” students to the best of my ability.”

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about RSU 14 since you have declared your candidacy for the RSU 14 Board of Directors?

Pasquini:There is no denying that there is currently a great divide in thoughts and beliefs within our community. Given that fact, the most important thing I’ve learned about this district since declaring my candidacy has been the resilience of the kids and the engagement of the parents. I’m a firm believer that when something seems out of place, one should question why. Especially when it has a direct impact on the education of our children and family lives. I have been engaged in many civil and constructive conversations. I am proud of our community and look forward to being an active member for years to come.”

 

JESSICA BRIDGES

Jessica Bridges has lived in Windham for 11 years. She has two daughters, one in first grade and the other in third grade. She has worked in the healthcare community for about 18 years and grew up in a small town with a very small school system. She said it was a great place to get an education, get extra help and really thrive learning and wants this for our kids. She said Windham’s school system is quite large and her dream is that each kid is allowed to grow and learn to their potential, and she wants to be a part of that. She said advocacy is one of the only ways to get the education for our children that they need. She hopes to be able to listen and advocate for the parents but also for the teachers and students, with its number one priority being the education of our future. She supports RSU 14's mission in providing a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment for all students; supporting the mental, emotional, and social health of students and staff; and accessible education for adults and students.

Why did you choose to become a candidate for the RSU 14 Board of Directors this year?

Bridges:I made the decision to run for the RSU 14 Board of Directors for numerous reasons. First and foremost, as a parent of two school aged children; I have a vested interest in preserving and improving the quality of our school system. I have been involved in the school community as a parent volunteer as well as a member of the PTA and I am seeking a new and challenging role in which I can further contribute and help improve our community. I believe in quality public education for our current and future students and in order to achieve this; our district needs school board members to collaborate as a team to accomplish the district's goals. I feel that being on the board would allow me to share my life experience as a parent and health care worker to benefit the community. Additionally, as a board member I can help influence the fiscal health of the district. Many constituents have expressed concerns about how their taxpayer money is spent and as a member of the board, I would have the ability to help influence the district's budget.”

What do you feel is the most significant issue facing RSU 14 town over the next three years and how do you feel you can help address this issue adequately for residents?

Bridges: “Windham's population is rapidly growing and with population growth comes higher student enrollment. The challenges that face our district is attracting qualified educators, staff, and bus drivers to ensure that each and every student's needs are met. As a board member, I would ask our superintendent for a risk assessment on how future enrollment changes may impact our district's academics, finances, and operations. It would be my responsibility as a board member to have an in-depth understanding of the dynamics at play in our community. Additionally, I would encourage our district leaders to take a proactive stance toward enrollment management. This would provide both stability and sustainability to the mission of the board. In addition, I would love to see our pre-k program expand to serve more children and families in our community.”

Can you describe what you like the most about the quality and caliber of education students receive in RSU 14?

Bridges: “Every RSU14 administrator, teacher, staff member, and transportation department employee that I have ever come into contact with is genuine and passionate about serving our community and enhancing the lives of our district's children through quality education offerings. This commitment was exemplified with the onset of the pandemic and demonstrated through creative and adaptive teaching. Our teachers simultaneously taught their own children at home while logging on to their computers to teach our students. Our school's librarians took email requests for books and left them on tables in the school's vestibules, our kitchen staff continued to prepare healthy meals and our administrators kept steady hands on the helm - encouraging all of us.”

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about RSU 14 since you have declared your candidacy for the RSU 14 Board of Directors?

Bridges: “Since declaring my candidacy; I have gained better understanding of the numerous challenges that are affecting our district now and what hurdles may come in the future. I believe that a school board must be responsive and receptive to students, parents, educators, staff, administrators as well as the community at large. The board sets the standard for communication within the district, and it is my job as a board member to ensure that I am open to a thorough discussion about the topic at hand. Every stakeholder truly has the best interest of our district's students at heart, and it is my job to listen, learn and use my voice to uphold the mission of the board to provide a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment for all students.”

 

JENNIE BUTLER

Jennie Butler is married to Brian Butler, and they have two adult sons who are Windham graduates. She grew up in Bath, Maine and is a Morse graduate. She earned her BA in Mathematics from the University of Maine and MS in Education from USM. Jennie taught high school mathematics for 31 years until her retirement in 2014 to become the primary caregiver for her mother. Jennie teaches math part time at USM. She volunteers with several organizations including the Windham Recreation Department Advisory Committee and Age Friendly Windham. For the last 24 years St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Windham has been her Church home. Her hobbies include sailing, skiing, and Irish or tap dancing.

Why did you choose to become a candidate for the RSU 14 Board of Directors this year?

Butler: “I am running for re-election and want to serve my community as an active member of the School Board. It can be difficult, but it is rewarding to see how well RSU 14 is respected in Maine.”

What do you feel is the most significant issue facing RSU 14 town over the next three years and how do you feel you can help address this issue adequately for residents?

Butler: As it is every year, we need to be fiscally responsible balancing the needs of staff and students. We need to keep tax increases at a minimum for the community especially with a new middle school in the works.”

Can you describe what you like the most about the quality and caliber of education students receive in RSU 14?

Butler: RSU 14 has very dedicated staff that put students first. The staff does their best to meet the students where they are so they may grow in all aspects of their education. Additionally, parents in RSU 14 want all students to have a wide variety of opportunities not only in academics but also in sports, the trades, and the arts.”

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about RSU 14 since you have declared your candidacy for the RSU 14 Board of Directors?

Butler: I taught in Windham from 1987 until 2014 and have been on the Board since 2019. I have always tried to keep up with what is happening in RSU 14. However, it concerns me how widespread the internet issues were within the district this fall and how long it took for them to be corrected.” <

Windham candidates make pitch for town residents' votes

By Ed Pierce

With less than two weeks before voters head to the polls on Election Day in Windham town government and school board candidates are making their case to residents and hoping to obtain enough votes to be elected to a handful of available positions.

The election will be on Tuesday, Nov. 2 in the Auxiliary Gym at Windham High School. Polls open at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Windham Town Clerk Linda S. Morrell said that there are more than 14,447 registered voters in Windham, but not all of them are expected to turnout for this year’s election.

"I would expect between the absentees and in-person voting at the polls about 2,500 to 3,800 votes which has been the turnout in the past,” Morrell said.

Windham candidates on the Nov. 2 ballot include incumbent David J. Nadeau, who is running unopposed for the Windham Town Council’s At-Large seat for a three-year term.    

Nadeau has spent the past year as the chair of the Windham Town Council and has been a town councilor for 10 years. Prior to that, Nadeau served 10 years as a member of Windham’s Planning Board. He was a recipient of the Maine Planners Association’s Citizen Award in 2020 for his long-term vision for the community, volunteerism, mentoring other volunteers and elected officials as well as going above and beyond in understanding planning initiatives and goals of Windham’s future success.

Another incumbent, Edward M. Ohmott, is seeking a one-year term on the council for an At-Large position.

Ohmott was appointed to fill the At-Large vacancy on the council during a meeting in May after the resignation of former Windham Town Councilor David Douglass. Ohmott previously served on Windham’s Smith Cemetery Committee and Long-Range Planning Committee. Since his appointment to the council, Ohmott has been a member of the town’s Marijuana License Fee Committee.

He’s the former president of Champion Cordage, an industrial supplies and equipment firm in California.

No declared candidate filed paperwork for the Windham Town Council’s West District for a three-year term by the deadline in September, but William Reiner has announced his candidacy as a write-in candidate for the position. The West District seat is currently held by Timothy Nangle, but he did not file papers for re-election.

Reiner moved to Windham in 2016 and works in the Critical Care nursing field.

Morrell also is also seeking re-election to the town clerk position. She worked for eight years as a town ballot clerk, then another seven years as a deputy clerk for the Town of Windham. She has served the last 27 years as Windham’s Town Clerk overseeing elections and the town clerk’s office at the Windham Town Hall. 

Incumbent Jennie Butler, who taught math at the high school level for 31 years and part-time at the University of Southern Maine is seeking re-election to the RSU 14 Board of Directors.

Also vying for a seat on the board are newcomers Barbara Bagshaw, Jessica M.H. Bridges, and Michael Pasquini.

Two other candidates, Christina Small, an incumbent, and Carrie Grant, have withdrawn as RSU 14 Board of Directors candidates, but their names will be on the Nov. 2 ballot for voters.

Also on the ballot are three referendum questions.

Question 1 asks voters if they want to ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region and to require the Maine Legislature to approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land.

Question 2 asks voters for approval to issue $100 million in general obligation bonds for transportation infrastructure projects, including $85 million for the construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and $15 million for facilities or equipment related to transit, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, ports and harbors, marine transportation, and active transportation projects.

Question 3 asks voters for approval to create a state constitutional amendment to declare that individuals have a "natural, inherent and unalienable right to food," including "the right to save and exchange seeds" and "the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being." <

October 15, 2021

Buddy Walk supports Maine Down Syndrome Network families

The Small family of Windham includes, from left, Bailey,
Elizabeth, Shawn and Madilynne Small.
COURTESY OF ERICA SHIRLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
By Ed Pierce

As the 21st anniversary of the Buddy Walk supporting the Maine Down Syndrome Network wraps up this weekend at the Saco Drive-In Theater, an awareness and acceptance of those with Down syndrome is the goal of this year’s initiative in Maine.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and the Buddy Walk helps raise money for the Maine Down Syndrome Network, which support education and advocacy to its members and to local communities, such as Windham and Raymond.

According to Abby Pearson of the Maine Down Syndrome Network, the Buddy Walk is a family reunion and a birthday party, a dance and a carnival all rolled into one.

“Everyone is happy,” Pearson said. “Joy is actually palpable in the air. Hundreds of people come together to celebrate the Down syndrome community in Maine, and to raise money for Maine Down
Syndrome Network.”

Down Syndrome is a condition in which a baby is born with an extra chromosome. Typically, a baby is born with 46 chromosomes, but babies with Down syndrome have an extra copy of one of these chromosomes, chromosome 21. This extra gene changes how the baby’s body and brain develop, which can cause both mental and physical challenges for the baby. Each year, about 6,000 babies born in the United States have Down syndrome, or about 1 in every 700 babies.

Elizabeth Small of Windham is the parent of a child with Down syndrome and is grateful for the support her family receives from the Maine Down Syndrome Network.

“Our daughter, Madilynne, has an extensive medical history.  She has had multiple surgeries on her heart, ears, and digestive system,” Small said. “With many hospitalizations it is impossible for my husband and I both to work.  It is challenging to find a caretaker for her if we both were to work especially during school vacations and when she is ill and misses more school than the average child. We have to juggle multiple doctors, therapists and specialists that we see on a regular basis.

Small said that when Madilynne had her first heart surgery at 2 months old, she and her husband lived in Casco.

“We spent every waking minute at the hospital, and we were staying at the Ronald MacDonald House in Portland. She had been in the hospital a week already and we weren’t sure when we were going home.  A former board member came in and introduced herself.  She then handed us a card with a gift certificate for a restaurant right down the street,” Small said. “Shawn and I were able to leave the hospital with the peace of mind of not being too far away and have a meal together.  They gave us a sense of normalcy in the middle of so much chaos and fear.  Over the last 12-plus years they have been a support with mom’s night out, Buddy Walk, and numerous Facebook messages or emails just asking questions that only other parents and caregivers can understand.  I have shared my experiences with others as well as heard what others have to offer.  It really is a community like no other.  I have gained lifelong friendships that I will cherish.”  

According to Small, being the parent of a child with Down syndrome is a special experience.

“It is a different ride for sure, but it is amazing.  This is not the life we envisioned when we decided to have children, but we are so grateful to have this life and wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Small said. “Maddi is just like everyone else. She has a younger sister Bailey and she wanted to share that it is fun to be with people who have Down syndrome.  She gets a lot of love from Maddi and that is what matters.”

For Crystal Cochran of Windham, being the parent of a child with Down syndrome meant finding a proper balance in life.

 “We have had to overcome many challenges along the way. Balancing family and work during the beginning years was hard because of therapies and medical appointments. Finding reliable childcare is also a struggle as the child gets older,” Cochran said. “I have been lucky with lots of family members in the area that most of the time they can cover but there are those times that family cannot, and childcare centers don’t take older kids that are in middle or high school as most children at that age can stay home alone.”

According to Cochran, support and acceptance have been her family’s two biggest needs and that includes support from her family, extended family, and people in the community.

“We could not always stay at functions or go someplace because of appointments, therapies or even because Austin was done,” Cochran said. “We have had the support of countless professionals along the way to overcome health related challenges or educational challenges. Acceptance has come from family members who have treated Austin like any other child. A community both within the Down syndrome community, the school community and the community that we have called home that have all accepted Austin as a member and supported his growth.” 

 

She said that the Maine Down Syndrome Network has helped her family from the beginning.


“They reached out after I had Austin and told me about their organization and the activities that they had to help support our family. We have gained some great friendships through this organization as we raised our children together. We were able to make connections, share ideas, share struggles, and share the joys,” Cochran said. “They have helped educate me through workshops. This organization helped lift me up when we were not sure what was going to be happening as we were given the news that our baby was going to have Down syndrome. When we didn’t know where to turn, we found them and without the support and education we would not be where we are today. The community should support them because they support so many families that are in the same position as I was 20 years ago.”

 

Cochran said that one of the most important things she would like everyone to know is that above all else, Austin is his own person.

“With help from all who love and care for him, he can overcome obstacles and has grown into a wonderful young person,” she said. “While many individuals with Down syndrome may have common traits, each individual is their unique self in their own way. We would like everyone to know that all individuals with Down syndrome need the support and acceptance of everyone around them but with this they can reach their fullest potential.”

 

The 21st Maine Buddy Walk will be at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17 at the Saco Drive-In Theater.


To learn more about the Maine Down Syndrome Network and to make a donation please visit www.dsmaine.org <

 

Nearly 600 acres proposed for Windham town park with conservation and trails

The Town of Windham and the Presumpscot Land Trust have
agreed to work together to protect nearly 600 acres of forested
land for open space and outdoor recreation in east Windham
off Falmouth Road. The area includes Atherton Hill which at
nearly 600 feet is the largest hill in Windham. FILE PHOTO
Windham is one of the fastest-growing towns in the state and the Town of Windham and the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust have agreed to work together toward forever protecting nearly 600 acres of forested land for open space and outdoor recreation in east Windham off Falmouth Road. Once protected, this will be one of the largest conservation projects in the Greater Portland area. 

The announcement was made in a press release issued by the Town of Windham on Tuesday.

This conservation project is within one of the largest undeveloped forested blocks of land in the region. This land includes Atherton Hill, at nearly 600 feet, which is the largest hill in Windham and includes 1,545 feet of frontage along Little Duck Pond and 1,500 feet of stream frontage that provides wild brook trout habitat.

In addition, nearly 25 percent of the land is identified by the state as a significant deer wintering area, one of just a few large deer wintering areas remaining in the region.

The Town of Windham has the 13th largest population in the state, has nearly tripled in size in the last 50 years, and continues to be one of the fastest-growing towns in Maine. With concerns about the pace of development and lack of protected open space, Windham has recently completed its first Open Space Plan.  

This project meets the criteria for Open Space land in Windham.

The Windham Open Space Plan prioritizes permanently conserving areas to forever provide open space and outdoor recreation for the community. Currently, 14 percent of the Casco Bay Watershed (which includes Greater Portland and the area around Sebago Lake) is permanently conserved, while only 4 percent of Windham is conserved, which is why Windham has prioritized in the Open Space Plan conserving the last remaining large scale forested lands in east Windham, which includes the Highland Lake, Forest Lake and Pleasant River watersheds.

Lowell Preserve, the 300-acres owned by the town and which the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust now holds a conservation easement on, is adjacent to this new 600-acre project. The goal with this new project would be to mirror Lowell Preserve ensuring the land will never be subdivided or developed and multi-use trails will always be available for the community.

“This regionally significant 600-acre conservation project once protected will become part of a nearly 2,000-acre contiguously conserved land area connecting with Lowell Preserve, North Falmouth Community Forest, and Blackstrap Hill Preserve, providing an unfragmented forest habitat corridor of exceptional size,” said Rachelle Curran Apse, Presumpscot Regional Land Trust Executive Director. “This land also includes 40 acres of wetlands, which provide high-quality habitat for species such as spring peepers, spotted salamanders, and leopard frogs – amphibians that are declining quickly, due to habitat loss.”

For this project to become a reality, $3 million needs to be raised within the next year to pay for land acquisition costs, trail building, recreational amenities, and long-term stewardship of the land for wildlife and people, said David Nadeau, Windham Town Council chair.

“This significant project is possible because the town is committed to investing in this project locally while also raising state, federal, and private funds in collaboration with the Land Trust,” Nadeau said. “Like Lowell Preserve, the Town looks forward to collaborating with the Land Trust to conserve the land and provide shared management of trails so they are welcoming for all.”

While still early in the planning phases, the outdoor recreation experience on these 600 acres of forever conserved land will include miles of new trails for walkers, bikers, snowmobilers, and ATVers, while continuing to provide hunting access.

In addition, the plan is to create an ADA trail that provides a beautiful stroll through the forest, access to Little Duck Pond for picnicking, and the option to climb an observation tower that will give views of Mount Washington and the Ocean from the top of Atherton Hill. <

Eagle Scout Project provides outdoor gathering spot for Windham Veteran’s Center

Lucas Cormier, 16, a member of Boy Scout
Troop 805, is an Eagle Scout candidate
whose community project involved
reorganizing and refurbishing the outdoor
gathering area at the Windham Veteran's
Center. He is a junior at Baxter Academy.
SUBMITTED PHOTO
By Collette Hayes

As a member of Windham Boy Scout Troop 805, 16-year-old Lucas Cormier has been navigating the steep and narrow trail toward Eagle Scout rank from the time he was 5. With the completion of a physical fitness merit badge and his Eagle Scout project, Lucas will have completed all requirements and be eligible to receive the Eagle Scout Award, the highest rank in scouting.

Cormier, a junior at Baxter Academy, a rigorous STEM college-preparatory high school, is planning, organizing, and implementing a massive Eagle Scout service project at Windham’s Veteran’s Center. Answering the need for an outdoor gathering place for the veterans at the center, fireplaces, rotted wood picnic tables and crumbling patio pavers have been removed.

Hours have been spent digging out the space, leveling and compacting the soil and preparing a solid base for the relocation of the fireplaces as well as the placement of the new patio which will all be wheelchair accessible as part of Cormier’s Eagle Scout project.

“Most of our scout meetings are held at the Veteran’s Center,” Cormier said. “The patio has been weathered down and everything is overgrown with weeds. I wanted to clean it up for them. Also, we are going to add four picnic tables as well as double the size of the patio area.”

Humana Insurance Company of Portland made a generous donation of two picnic tables to the project. Cormier plans to rebuild one of the old picnic tables and make it wheelchair accessible.

Cormier’s Eagle Scout project is being funded entirely from donations received from the community.

Although $900 has been raised for the project it is still needs about $400 dollars for completion.

“Lucas is not personally allowed to raise funds for his Eagle project,” said Joe Cormier, a scoutmaster and Lucas’ dad. “As far as funding for the project, the scout leaders in the troop have been trying to raise funds through crowd funding on Facebook. Any extra funds that are received will be donated to the Windham Veteran’s Center for additional projects.”

After high school, Cormier is planning to attend college but isn’t completely sure what he wants to study. His weekly schedule is filled with lessons and activities in which he is involved. Four nights a week he is attending play practice at Windham High School in preparation to perform in the school’s “Mama Mia” production.

He takes singing lessons and is in the process of completing a large sculpting for an art class. Once a week he can be found at Hannaford Supermarket stocking shelves. In addition to all of this, on weekends he spends hours working to complete his Eagle Scout project at Windham’s Veteran Center.

“I’m not really sure what I want to do with my future,” Cormier said. “I really like CAD and I’m hoping to take the Solidworks certification exams in the spring. Also, I like singing, performing and also art.”

According to Joe Cormier, scouting allows a parent to build a bond with their child while the child is learning important life skills.

“Anything Lucas is doing, I’m doing,” he said. “We are extremely proud of Lucas. While in scouting he has learned a number of important life skills. He has learned to budget his money. He has learned first aid skill and swimming skills and many other skills that will benefit him throughout his life.”

The Eagle Scout designation is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Scouts BSA program of the Boy Scouts of America. Since its inception in 1911, only 4 percent of scouts have earned this rank after a lengthy review process.

To earn the rank, Eagle Scout candidates must demonstrate Scout Spirit, an ideal attitude based upon the Scout Oath and Law, service, and leadership. This includes an extensive community service project that the scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages and gets approval from a scouting leadership committee.

Upon a final review of a completed project, Eagle Scouts are presented with a medal and a badge that visibly recognizes the achievements of the scout. Since its inception more than a century ago, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by 2.5 million candidates.

Corrected email address for donations: contact Nicki Cormier on Facebook or email joe@ionnetworking.com.<