March 5, 2021

Be The Influence seeks parent advisors

By Briana Bizier

We have all faced incredible challenges in this past year. From work to school to our social lives, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted almost everything we once took for granted. One constant, however, is that it still takes a village to raise a child. In these uncertain times, the youth of Windham and Raymond need our help more than ever.

Be the Influence is part of a Drug Free Communities grant working with all sectors in our community to reduce youth substance use. Before the pandemic, Be the Influence created and implemented many youth engagement events in schools, local libraries and both communities including a community mural, a theatre group, PSA contests, media campaigns and changing policies by meeting with local legislators to discuss concerns about the effects of drugs on brain development, just to name a few.

As Be the Influence adapted to our new socially distant era, many of these events have moved online. A recent meeting with Maine State Senator Bill Diamond and area Representatives to discuss vaping happened over Zoom.

This spring Be the Influence is teaming with Windham’s and Raymond’s Departments of Parks and Recreation to co-host a Family, Fun, Fitness and Film Festival, as well as partnering with other health agencies. Be The Influence is also currently co-hosting a series of webinars on mental health resources with the EmpowerME Health Series for parent, youth and community prevention and resources.

Yet, as the community’s needs continue to shift over the course of the pandemic, Be the Influence wants to make sure they are offering programs that help the greatest number of children, parents and families. To that end, Be the Influence is seeking input from Windham and Raymond parents.

How can Be the Influence support your family? What programs, activities, and resources do you need? What concerns are parents and children facing as you navigate a hybrid school schedule, remote learning, an increase in substance misuse, and the mental health challenges of this unprecedented time? Most importantly, what can we do to help and to give you the tools you need to ensure your child lives a heathy life?

If you are interested in joining Be the Influence’s Parental Advisory Board, please contact Laura Morris at director@betheinfluencewrw.org or Lorraine Glowczak at 
coordinator@betheinfluencewrw.org. <

In the public eye: Windham Public Library’s Jennifer Alvino

By Elizabeth Richards

Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.

Jennifer Alvino, the library director for the Windham Public Library, has been working in libraries since high school. She became the director of the WPL a little over seven years ago and since then, she’s smoothly navigated the library through a renovation, providing services through a pandemic, and building community connections.  

The library is committed to meeting community needs. “I really appreciate being able to hear from and work with the community to determine what services they want from us, and to be able to turn that around and meet that need. That’s exciting and interesting for me,” she said.

Being a library director also involves a lot of customer service, she added. “I enjoy working with people. Librarians in general are a good group of people to work with. It’s nice to come to work every day,” she said.

Jennifer Alvino has served
as Windham Public Library
director for more than seven
years and is credited with
navigating the library through
a renovation, finding solutions
to continuing to provide services
during a pandemic, and building
and sustaining positive community
connections. FILE PHOTO
Libraries fill an important need in communities as gathering spaces, Alvino said. The WPL meets a lot of needs in the community, she said.  They provide access to broadband and help people find good, accurate information in a place that welcomes everyone. Libraries also don’t require any kind of payment, which is especially important right now, she said.

Serving as a community gathering place is currently a challenge due to the pandemic, Alvino said. “Over the last year we haven’t been able to gather. Our services are really limited in that we can’t communicate and welcome people the way that we used to,” Alvino said. For instance, they used to have an active group of middle school students who came to the library after school, which hasn’t been possible this year.

Space can also be a challenge to meeting community needs, Alvino said. Going back to the teens, she said, they need to consider whether they have enough space for them to gather.

When it comes to funding, she said, “The town has done a wonderful job giving us the resources that we need to provide our services. That’s really been helpful. Even through a tough last year we still were able to do what we needed to do.”

Alvino’s first goal for the immediate future is getting back to normal hours. Currently, the library is not open on Saturdays or weekends. They are working on hiring more staff which will allow them to return to pre-pandemic hours, she said.

Alvino is proud that the WPL was the second library in the state to re-open after everything shut down last spring. They reopened to the public at the end of May and have remained open for limited browsing and services since then. With some libraries in the state still not open to in person browsing, she said, she feels fortunate that they have been able to remain open with proper precautions in place.

Currently, visits are limited to 30 minutes. Computer services are available, and they recognize that sometimes people may need a little more time to apply for services or jobs, she said. “We are trying to accommodate as much as we can while still making sure that we’re interacting with people in a safe way,” she said.

The library also offers broadband internet that reaches to the parking lot. People often bring devices and work there, Alvino said. When the weather turns warmer, there will also be picnic tables around the building where people can use the broadband internet connection.

Another goal that Alvino has for the future is to get out into the community more, expanding outreach services like dropping materials off to homebound community members. She wants to find other community organizations to partner with, like they do with the Parks and Recreation department and local childcare facilities, she said.

A couple of years ago, Alvino said, the library had a table at the farmer’s market. She’d like to be at more community events like that, registering people for cards and checking items out. “I’d love to really be able to be out where the community is,” she said.

Alvino said she’s also proud of the renovation to the library that happened two years ago, which gave the space a much-needed facelift and allowed the library to move forward.

Her staff also makes her proud. “My staff is really, really amazing in terms of being flexible, especially this last year. They’ve really done an outstanding job keeping things running. I’m very proud of that,” she said.

Alvino wants people to know that the library staff is very approachable. “If there are needs people identify that we can help with we are certainly a place where people can approach us and talk about it,” she said. They’re looking forward to getting back to being able to hold gatherings and do in person programming, she said. While virtual programming continues, it’s just not the same, she said.

What people expect from the library has changed over time, Alvino said.

“I think we do strive to be all things to all people. When people walk through that door, they have a certain expectation of what they’re going to find. We’re always trying to meet that need,” Alvino said. “As expectations change, we need to make sure we’re flexible enough to do that.”

Windham Public Works grateful for year-round community support

By Daniel Gray

Here in the north, we’re aware of the fact that icy, snow-covered roads can be dangerous for drivers. Many are also aware that Maine storms, big or small, can come upon us in the blink of an eye. But in Windham, those who work for the town’s public works department continue to ensure that community roads and thoroughfares are safe no matter what the weather dictates.

                                                 

The community supports their essential work and gives them credit for logging long hours in some of the toughest conditions imaginable.

The Windham Public Works Department has been the backbone of the town for decades and they have made it their job to keep up with road maintenance, whether that be plowing in the winter, street cleaning in the spring, or tree trimming in the summer. They manage a lot of behind-the-scenes work here in Windham and, over the last few years, they have gotten well-deserved recognition for their work.

Windham Public Works snowplow drivers are 
tasked with maintaining more than 150 miles of
roads in the town during storms and throughout
the rest of the year. COURTESY OF
WINDHAM PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Michael Constantine, who has been with WPW for 11 years and is currently the highway supervisor, said he knows just how much community support has grown in showing their kindness to WPW employees.

"People will just see us plowing and give us a wave or a thumbs up,” he said. “We've also had donations of food to keep our energy up, it's just amazing what the community does for us."

Last month, the WPW department had a surprise lunch in their breakroom of hot foods, gifted from a few people in town. Constantine said that it's gestures like that that help WPW employees keep their morale up when it can get a little overwhelming during the winter. And, he said that things can get very tough in the winter, especially with well over 150 miles of road to plow across the town.

WPW Director Doug Fortier said snowplow drivers and road sanders face significant challenges during harsh winter storms.

"We're a 'Team of One', meaning if there's a storm, we all go out,” Fortier said. “There's no shifts here. People are dragged from birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, just so the roads can be safe."

Even though winter is a time of constant work for WPW employees, spring and summer are no walk in the park either. It isn't just plowing, street cleaning, and tree trimming. It's also replacing and repairing culverts, mowing along the roads and in the cemeteries, repaving roads, and even street sign maintenance. They have a lot of work to get done with only 27 people and a budget of $3.9 million.

Fortier said that may sound like a lot, but nearly all of it goes to town maintenance during all four seasons. 

Over the years, there have been aspects that do make their job at WPW easier. They had gotten a newer, bigger garage that can house all their supplies and vehicles, weather trackers that have the percentages of snow, rain, and other weather patterns, and even salt dispensers that are calculated to know how much salt needs to be on the road. Even with these advantages and tools under their belts, there will always be people who don't appreciate everything they do.

One instance that Constantine brought up was about plowing during a storm or just getting excess snow off the main roads.

"We don't normally get too many complaints, but there will be occasional comments on how slow the process is to plow all the public roads and main roads in town,” he said. “With how many plow trucks we have on hand and how dangerous the roads can be for us, it can take roughly four hours for one plow to do their full route. Not including back-tracking while the snow settles where they had just plowed."

Along with the negative feedback, there will always be overwhelming supportive feedback. David Nadeau, an at-large town council member in his second term, had a positive outlook on what the public works department does every year.

"I think our public works department does a fantastic job,” he said. “They do an excellent job on the roads. If anyone travels between Windham and a neighboring town, they can tell the difference." <

May 15, 2020

Saving lives: Be The Influence offers free virtual Narcan training

By Ed Pierce

A community coalition dedicated to raising awareness and addressing concerns resulting from substance use and misuse in Windham and Raymond will offer free virtual training in the use of Narcan to the community on May 18 and May 27.

The training is sponsored by Be The Influence and the city of Portland, and can help prevent death from overdoses by reversing the effects of opiates. Because it is a virtual presentation, training can be completed from home and takes about an hour from start to finish.

https://jobs.spectrum.com/According to Laura, Morris, executive director of Be The Influence, a community collaborative designed to educate and help prevent substance misuse in Windham and Raymond, learning how to safely administer Narcan can mean the difference between life and death.

“Everybody should be equipped for this because you never know,” Morris said. “You could possibly save a life. Wherever people can help, this training can help reduce overdose deaths.”

Although it is usually administered by paramedics and emergency responders, Narcan can be administered by anyone who has been properly trained in its use. Those attending the virtual training sessions will receive instruction about risk factors for an opioid overdose, as well as how to recognize and respond by administering Narcan.

Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, works by blocking opioids from attaching to opioid receptors in the brain and only works on those overdosing from opiates such as heroin and morphine.

Morris said that residents wishing to participate in the virtual Narcan training must register at zop@portlandmaine.gov. Names and email addresses of participants will not be shared with others and training can be done confidentially. Free samples of Narcan will also be available at a local site to be announced soon.

Along with co-sponsoring the virtual Narcan training, Be The Influence is continuing to work with and encourage students to become involved and learn about the dangers of drugs and how to make healthy decisions despite being away from classrooms during the pandemic, Morris said.

“The BTI Youth Public Service Announcement Contest that targeted the dangers of vaping and alternatives to self-medication is currently on our website and BTI Facebook page as well as the American Cancer Society website,” she said. “Please encourage other youth to submit by sending their 30- or 60-second video to director@betheinfluencewrw.org.”

Windham Middle School students that have submitted PSAs so far include Zocia LaWind, Sophia Gugliuzza, Dominic Cataldi and Daphne Cyr.
Other local students also were part of a focus group on May 7 to create a PSA about how to cope with the coronavirus without substances.

“It is intended to raise awareness of children experiencing trauma who are self-medicating,” Morris said. “The student PSAs show how to overcome trauma and anxiety without medications.”

RSU14 students also partnered with peers in Yarmouth, Bath and Gorham to enter a PSA contest sponsored by the American Cancer Society in conjunction with SEED, or Students Empowered to End Dependency.

Morris said PSA contests in general that are promoted by Be The Influence try to teach the concept of resilience to students.






Ready to go: Windham Farmers’ Market to open next weekend amid the new reality

By Lorraine Glowczak

In its third successful year, the Windham Farmer’s Market will be at it again this summer at the same location on Turning Leaf Drive in Windham (intersection of Route 302 and River Road) beginning on Saturday, May 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

Vendors who will provide fresh, local foods and hand crafted products at this year’s market include: Baker Brook Farm, Cates Cache, Fox Run Gifts, Hailey’s Kitchen, Mains Made, Mulberry Farms, PH & Hidden Falls Farms, Siochanta Farm, Small Wood Farm, and Churchill Events.

There will be slight changes from previous years, because of the need for added personal distance and safety.

“The only modifications that will take place for this year’s Farmers’ Market will be to adjust to the new reality,” said Tom Bartell, Director of the Windham Economic Development Corporation. “The plan is to maintain the continued health and safety of the market and community and to comply with the State of Maine Governor’s Orders. The plan will be evaluated and amended throughout the summer for continued effectiveness.”

The Farmers’ Market will be set up to maintain the state mandated safety precautions. This will include the following:

·       Increased booth separation.  Each booth will have a line established for waiting customers and that line will be marked in 6-foot increments to maintain personal distancing.  
·       There will be two hand sanitizer stations for customer use, each located at either end of the market, and labeled with visible signage. 
·       Trash cans will be provided for the customer areas with step-on lids.
·       There will be signage reminding us to observe appropriate procedures. 
·       Frequently touched areas will be sanitized regularly.
·       Use of face masks is strongly encouraged for everyone’s protection.

“One of the additions to this year’s market is that shopping from 8:30 to 9 a.m. will be reserved for customers 55 and over or for those at risk,” said Bartell. “There will still be a welcome booth open with staff to greet customers and to process SNAP/EBT and MHB purchases.”

“To further keep our community members safe by avoiding direct personal contact, the market made the difficult decision to skip the popular children’s attractions, special events, and entertainment for this summer.  We do remain committed to supporting our customers and vendors with a great shopping experience,” said Market Coordinator Lisa Fisher.

Be sure to make a Farmer’s Market visit every Saturday morning this summer and support your local farmers and artisans.

For more information about this year’s market or to inquire about becoming a vendor, contact Lisa Fisher at 207-894-4097.




Saluting those who make it look easy: Sebago Lakes Region Chamber News

By Zack Conley, Board President

During difficult times it can be easy to overlook the hard work of those who make it look easy and flawless. Therefore, on behalf of the Board of Directors for the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, I would like to publicly recognize the tireless efforts of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber staff, Robin Mullins (Executive Director) and Denise Dyer (Office Manager), during this extremely challenging time.

Sebago Lakes Region Chamber Director
Robin Mullins and Board President Zack Conley
along with the board of directors
collaborate with businesses and the town to
support economic stability during these uncertain times. 
Countless hours have been spent on Zoom meetings with the Maine Department of Economic Community Development, the Department of Labor, Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, and the Maine State Chamber to gather information (that seems to change by the hour) on unemployment insurance, available loan programs, such as the PPP and EIDL, the CARES Act, essential vs. non-essential businesses, and re-opening plans and checklists. This information is then packaged in easy to read and useful newsletters that are sent as needed to all Chamber members, posted on the Chamber website, and shared via Facebook for non-members and the public.

An entire day was spent, with the help of board Directors, calling all three hundred Chamber businesses to check in and see how they were doing and how the Chamber could assist them, a Zoom meeting with the leaders of the ten towns the Chamber serves (Casco, Gray, Limerick, Limington, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish, and Windham) was set up as a way for the towns to share information with each other and let the Chamber know how it could best support each of them, and hours have been spent answering member and non-member questions about everything from available loans and assistance to when can businesses start to reopen.

Robin and Denise have been the voice of business in the region during calls with Maine’s Congressional Delegation, they have partnered with the Windham Economic Development Corporation, Windham Parks and Recreation and local restaurants to set up a Friday Free Meal Program for Senior Citizens in Windham, oversaw a $4,500 donation to 13 local food pantries in the region from the Chamber’s Charitable Trust, have given access to the Chamber Zoom account for members, set up the support local business campaign, #slrccsupportlocal, and held a virtual job fair for eight local companies in partnership with Bonney Staffing and the Maine Career Center. They have also brought on nine new members and are making plans for three major upcoming events, a Scholarship Golf Open on August 27th, the Sebago Spirits Festival on Sep. 19, and the revival of the Sebago Lake Polar Dip, in partnership with the Sebago Lakes Rotary for 2021.

They have done all of these things (and so much more), and with less hours. Like all businesses they have been affected by COVID-19, having to close the office, work from home, do more with less, and look for ways to save money while still bringing in revenues to pay for rent, utilities, and payroll expenses. Unlike other businesses and 501(c)3 non-profits, however, the Chamber has not been eligible for the same forgivable loan programs, such as the PPP or EDIL. The Chamber is a non-profit, but its 501(c)6 status (which allows them to lobby, although they do very little of it) negates them from these loan programs. Please keep this in mind as you, “support local.” 


A huge “thank you” to Robin Mullins and Denise Dyer for their commitment to the Chamber and the businesses in the Sebago Lakes region. Their work is important and greatly appreciated. Thank you, too, to the businesses who continue to support Robin and Denise and the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce as a whole. 

Together we will prosper, One Region, Limitless Possibilities! #Chambersarelocaltoo <





Coming to a neighborhood near you: 'Rolling Parade' to mark Memorial Day in Windham, Raymond

By Dave Tanguay

It’s Victory in Europe (VE Day, May 8), the 75th anniversary of the end of hostilities from World War II in the European theater.

Each Memorial Day the Town in coordination with the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 has taken every opportunity to honor those WWII heroes still with us. The Post currently list five in its membership. Over half the Post membership was WWII vets 25 years ago. It’s been more than 75 years since these vets went off to war.

Today, with the Covid-19 situation foremost in our collect minds, I contacted the Town Manager with the thought of reluctantly, cancelling the Memorial Day events for 2020 due to the current and projected restriction on large gatherings.

I received a pleasant counter proposal by Town Manager Barry Tibbetts. “Why don’t we bring the parade to the Windham community?”

After a Zoom meeting with the Town Manager Tibbetts, Police Chief Kevin Schofield, Fire Chief Brent Libby, the Town’s Economic Development chair Tom Bartlett, and members of the Legion Post 148 Eric Bickford and Dave Tanguay, a plan was developed and placed in the works. The plan is to hold a “Rolling Parade” through the neighborhoods of the town and bring the Parade to the Community.

The details for this novel approach to Memorial Day are still being worked out by the Fire Chief Libby and Police Chief Schofield as to security issues and the route. In general, it will look something like the “Easter Bunny” Route from last month.

Staring at the north end of the town (Raymond Line) and progress south along Route 302 the parade would run through as many subdivisions and neighborhoods based on accessibility.  The “Rolling Parade” would start at 9 a.m. and run for about two hours along the 302 corridor, then turn easterly along Route 202 to South Windham.

The Grand Marshal for this year’s Parade will be WWII veteran and P-51 pilot, Carroll MacDonald, now residing in North Windham. Other veterans from all our wars and conflicts will also be involved in the parade.

The Town and Legion Post are asking our community to come out to honor these and all of our veterans.  You can enjoy the parade from the comfort of your home and maintain the social distancing mandates. Or, you can park in the parking lots that front Route 302 in North Windham and watch the parade go by from the comfort of your vehicle.

The other event that the community may help with is the annual placement of flags of the Veteran’s graves in Arlington Cemetery. North Windham.  This is an event where social distancing can safely take place.  For those with a concern, masks and nitrile gloves will be available. The flag placement will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 16. Other cemeteries will be covered by our veterans the week before.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Town Manager Barry Tibbetts for his “outside the box” thinking that will allow the veteran community to salvage some elements of Memorial Day.

These are also opportunities to make memorable events for your family during this challenging time. Please join us.