September 21, 2018

A broken-down leach field proves that decency still exists by Lorraine Glowczak

Mabel Darby-Morey, the Town of Windham’s zoning and code enforcement coordinator captured John and Linda Gregoire’s belief and experiences in a nutshell. When Linda arrived at the town’s code enforcement office to pick up a permit to re-construct the leach field in their backyard, (which had already been paid), Linda told Darby-Morey the story.  Upon hearing the explanation for the paid permit, Darby-Morey stated, “It’s true. Good people still exist in the world.”
Add caKane Mason and Josh Roux are two people of many who volunteered their time

So how does a story about a damaged leach field lead to people who provide positive change in world? The narrative goes something like this:

It all began with an annual community volunteer event, PowerServe. PowerServe has become a yearly event that serves area organizations and individuals who need assistance with various tasks. Prior to the volunteers arriving at the Gregoire’s home for the scheduled service date of Saturday, May 26th, two PowerServe coordinators stopped by to see what the group would need to do and the equipment that would be required to successfully provide the services.

https://www.egcu.org/home“That’s when they saw the leach field was wet and said it looked like a problem,” Linda explained. “I told them I thought it probably was a problem, but I couldn’t do much about it. One of the coordinators came in and met John and decided to check things out at Town Hall to see if they could help with a repair on the leach field. Fast forward to Memorial Day and Powerserve came and helped us.”

PowerServe’s yearly support has been valuable to the Gregoire’s. John was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) 11 years ago and is now wheel-chair bound. Both he and his wife Linda, who assists him in meeting his daily needs, are unable to work on home projects such as the yard work that PowerServe volunteers can provide.

Although it is true for most people that a leach field replacement is not an easy fix, financially or otherwise, it is especially challenging for the Gregoires. “John is now non-mobile and non-verbal, and we simply do not have the time, money or physical resources to repair such damage,” Linda explained.

But, there is good that still exists.

It just so happened that Drew Daigle was a member of the PowerServe volunteer effort. Daigle’s profession is in excavation and he works for a local company, Shaw Earthworks. After many twists, turns and conversations, Daigle, Shaw Earthworks and many others donated their time, money and resources to replace the defective leach field.

“They worked with such precision and talent and everyone was so nice and pleasant,” Linda said, and then added with a laugh, “I told John it is true that we need lawyers and doctors, but this proves we need leach field experts, too.”

Both Linda and John are grateful for the gift they received from all those who donated their time, money and efforts. As a result, they wish to provide their thanks publicly.   

http://www.mwamconcerts.com/“This is the most amazing blessing to John and me,” Linda began. “We’ve realized for awhile we needed this repair but didn’t have the means to do so. It was always on my mind. When I went to pay for the permit, I was told it was already paid for. God has watched out for us and brought us earthbound angels to help when we needed an extra hand. We are so blessed and there are so many people to thank.”

But the Gregoires also provide their own gift back to the community. “We all go through something,” Linda stated. “It’s what you decide to do with what life gives you that matters.”
In the early years after John’s diagnosis, he and Linda created the non-profit, The Hope-JG Foundation, an ALS charity organization with a focus on establishing an ALS/MS residence in Maine, helping families of ALS to enhance the quality of life for people with ALS.

The organization helps other individuals with ALS, whether it is a new pair of glasses or adding a wheel-chair lift to an individual’s truck. “We serve others whose needs should be met so they can live life as fully as possible,” Linda said.

“Hope-JG gives John a purpose. For John, purpose and serving a higher need is what keeps him alive – alive in spirit and in health despite living with the advanced stages of ALS,” Linda stated.

It is true. Good people doing great things for others does truly still exist today. John and Linda would like to thank the following individuals and organizations:

PowerServe volunteers and coordinators.
Drew Daigle -Lead PowerServe Volunteer.
Brandon Lussier from Pillar to Post for inspecting the leach system before the work was completed.
Mark Hampton who did the design work.
Brad and Brian Shaw of Shaw Earthworks and their employees Kane Mason and Josh Roux.
Arkie Rogers Septic Tank Service.
Carol and Richard Powell for their contribution.

“God bless you all as you have blessed us,” Linda said. “I told John our house has been repaired by love.”

About PowerServe
The first PowerServe event initially began as a one-time occurrence in the spring of 2016 to honor a Windham High School student who had passed away. After the initial volunteer effort, there were many requests for the event to happen on an ongoing basis. It has now become an annual event.
To learn more about the Hope-JG Foundation, visit the website at www.hope-jg.org.



First of monthly Speak Out returns this fall with topic Senator Diamond deems most important by Lorraine Glowczak

After the usual summer hiatus, Senator Bill Diamond will return with co-host Raylene Laura for the 27th year of his monthly Speak Out series. The first in the 2018-19 program will be on Thursday, September 27 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Windham Town Hall Council Chamber Room. The series is televised on local channel 7 as well as on Facebook Live.

fgp@opportunityalliance.org
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The September 27th program’s topic is an issue Diamond believes is imperative and must be confronted and resolved before another young person’s life is taken at the hand of an adult caretaker. “The biggest problem facing the new incoming governor is fixing the broken childcare system,” he began. “It is true that there are many important issues, but I believe this is top priority. Children are being abused every day; even as we speak. And if we don’t find a solution to this problem – and I don’t want to have to say this - but another child’s life will be taken. Action must be taken now.”\

Diamond has invited representatives of the Maine Foster Parent Association as well as a caseworker to be on the September 27th panel to speak on the many complicated variables that contribute to the defective organization. The first half hour of the show will be dedicated to the guests educating the public on the issues they see and face on a daily basis. The second part of the program will be opened to viewers for questions and answers. There will be time for other legislative news to be discussed as well.

As defective as the system is, Diamond makes it very clear that blame should not be placed on the employees at the Maine Department Health and Human Services (DHHS). “It is not their [caseworkers, etc.] fault,” he stated. “They are doing the best they can, with what they have, working under the regulations and restraints imposed upon them at the present time. We can’t solve this problem by blaming them. The system needs to change so they can be successful at implementing it.”
To help solve the issues that children in the DHHS system face, Diamond has created a legislative task force to work year-round to help correct the child care system with the intent that it will begin in the next legislative year. “The purpose of it being a year-round task force is to address the problems immediately as they come up and not until a tragedy occurs,” he explained.

Some concerns addressed on Thursday’s Speak Out will include, but not be limited to the following:

·         When and should children return to their families.
·         Funding for DHHS.
·         The need for more caseworkers and foster families.
·         Foster children with special care needs.
·         The cost to foster parents.
·         Children spending the night with their caseworkers when they have nowhere else to go.

Although everyone is encouraged to attend the Speak Out in person, the series is always live on both channel 7 and Facebook, giving everyone in the Windham community an opportunity to be informed of the latest Maine legislative topics and to call in to ask questions of both the panel guests and Sen. Diamond. If you are a channel 7 audience member, you can call in your concern or questions regarding this subject. The phone number will be given on air. For those who choose to watch on Facebook Live, simply type in your response or question.

If you are interested in learning more about a specific legislative subject or issue and would like it to be a Speak Out topic, contact Senator Diamond at: 207-892-8941, 207-650-4713 and email at billdiamondwindham@gmail.com.

September 14, 2018

For the historical record: The wild woman of Frye Island by Walter Lunt

In 2003 Maine and the nation were captivated by the story of the North Pond Hermit, who lived alone in dense, boulder riddled woods near Rome, Maine northwest of Waterville. Christopher Knight survived by building a secluded and secure campsite and by stealing food and other supplies from nearby cabins and summer camps. He eluded capture for some 27 years until a determined Maine game warden and technology provided by the U.S. Border Patrol rooted out his hiding spot. Knight’s subsequent conviction resulted in jail time, restitution, a court ordered rehabilitation program and probation. His nearly 3-decade adventure spawned a book, a documentary and more recently a possible movie deal.

https://cumberlandfair.com/In 1878 a similar story, with a far less dramatic ending, unfolded along the shores of Frye Island on Sebago Lake. Mabel Knight (no relation to Christopher) recalled the incident in an interview with the Portland Press Herald in 1956. She told her interviewer, “I was only eight at the time of the wild woman scare.” Mrs. Knight, then 85, explained that only one family lived on the island in the late 19th century. It was a farm belonging to Noah Hooper. A large tract had been cleared for planting and there were many farm animals, all of which supplied the large family with food the year ‘round.
“Milk was poured in settling pans that were placed in the cool cellar until thick cream had formed. 

The cream was skimmed off and churned into butter,” Knight explained. The milk, however, started disappearing with only a tiny amount remaining in the bottom of the shallow pans.

One night one of the children, peering out a bedroom window, spotted a woman climbing into a boat and rowing into the darkness toward the Raymond Neck shore. More shadowy sightings followed and more items, including clothing and vegetables, allegedly disappeared, threatening the very survival of the Hooper family over the upcoming winter.

Ultimately, residents on the Neck resolved to help. Men in old (Cumberland and Oxford) canal boats, sail boats and other available vessels surrounded the mile-and-a-half long island and began an almost hand-to-hand march toward the center, all armed with various types of farm implements. No wild woman or otherwise thieving animal was found. According to Knight, “When they realized they were unsuccessful they staged a big picnic and spent the rest of the day in racing, wrestling and other sports.” Her future husband, Charles Knight, was a young member of the search group and enjoyed telling the tale of the hunt for Frye Island’s wild woman for the rest of his years. The mysterious thievery ended on that day, but the story continued to be told for generations.

In his 1996 book, “Historical Gems of Raymond and Casco” historian Earnest Knight speculated that the loneliness and isolation of island living “…could have contributed to fantasy or hallucinations (but)…fact or fake, (it) is still a worthy legend” to pass on.

Sometimes the historical record is an amalgamation of “something happened” and folklore. Not all become the subject of books, documentaries or movies but they are the stuff of good local stories. Pass them on.  <

Sebago Lakes Region Chamber offers two events to improve business marketing and have amazing fun

Join the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and Adam Goldberg for their quarterly “Eggs and Issues” style event on Tuesday, September 18 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Spring Meadows Golf Club in Gray. There will be a full breakfast buffet beginning at 7:30 a.m. This event is for all businesses who are trying to find a way boost their marketing strategy. You do not need to be a member of the Chamber to attend.

Goldberg, Vice President of Business Operations for the Maine Mariners will be on hand to help you gain regional exposure and build excitement around your brand.

Come pick the brain of this marketing guru who has been generating buzz for 12 years for different organizations. Most recently, hear how Goldberg is bringing professional hockey back to Maine and turning former Portland Pirate fans into Maine Mariners fans.
http://www.hallimplementco.com/
Mainers are excited at the prospects of a new ECHL team after three years without professional hockey. Hear what the Mariners have in store for fans this year. Learn how their model has succeeded in putting a new spin on Portland hockey.

Goldberg manages all business aspects of the team including ticket sales, sponsorship, marketing, advertising, game presentation among other things. He began with Mariners owner, Comcast Spectacor, in 2006 as the Marketing Coordinator for the Philadelphia Phantoms (AHL hockey). In 2009, he promoted to director of marketing for the Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A baseball). After 4 baseball seasons in Memphis, he was promoted to the director of business development for the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL hockey). Maine is the eighth state that Adam has lived in. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he majored in marketing.

Register for Morning Momentum Online: www.sebagolakeschamber.com or call the Chamber Office 207-892-8265.

And we must not forget the Chamber’s astonishing The Amazing Chase! Everyone had so much fun the past two years with this fun, high-tech mission, that another event will take place again this year on September 22nd!

The Amazing Chase is a team tech adventure race involving a series of challenging team building activities. This adventure involves SMART technology, strategy, finding landmarks, solving clues, trivia, performing tasks, completing physical challenges, and taking photos/videos. A portion of funds raised will go toward the Chamber’s “Feed the Need” initiative and you can earn points before the event by raising money to eliminate hunger in the Sebago Lakes region.

The first event of its kind in Maine, teams will utilize high-tech Apple iPads and experience video, photo, and audio clues as well as multi-media trivia. Drones will capture footage from the air and some players will have Go-Pro cameras for a bird’s eye view of the fun! The entire event will be produced into a feature video for all teams to enjoy!

But there is limited time left to form a team and register or to be a sponsor. If you are an adventure seeker with a competitive sprite, call the chamber office today at 207-892-8265 or register online at www.amazingchasesebago.com/.


Rep. Fay earns highest score on conservation, public health votes


Maine Conservation Voters releases 2018 Environmental Scorecard

AUGUSTA – Rep. Jess Fay, D-Raymond, earned the top score on environmental and public health policy votes in the newly released Maine Conservation Voters’ 2018 Environmental Scorecard.

“Protecting the many lakes and ponds in our region and the state is critical to maintaining our way of life,” said Fay. “The health of our local economy is dependent on our natural environment and water quality.”

The statewide environmental advocacy group took into account nine key bills from the 128th Legislature. The bills included landmark mining protections, banning toxic chemicals in upholstery, raising awareness of arsenic in well water, adding a 5-cent deposit on ‘nip’ liquor bottles in an effort to reduce litter and a $30 million bond proposal to upgrade vital clean water infrastructure.

Lawmakers were also scored on critical solar legislation that ultimately failed when the House fell just two votes shy of overriding the governor’s veto.

View the scorecard online at www.maineconservation.org/scores. You can choose your legislators or search for them by your address in order to view their conservation records through the years and read more about the priority issues MCV scored this year.

Fay is serving her first term in the Maine Legislature and represents part of Casco, part of Poland and part of Raymond.  She serves on the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee.


Time for action: lawmakers pass a series of child welfare bills by Senator Bill Diamond


If there is anything that we have learned over the past few months, it's that Maine's child protection
system is badly broken. Instead of focusing our energy on anger and blame, we must focus on how to fix the system immediately. We are running out of time; the health, well-being and lives of Maine children are at stake.

Last week, the Legislature passed a series of bills in an attempt to fill the gaping holes in Maine's child welfare system. Many of these bills offer a direct response to what lawmakers are hearing from caseworkers and information brought to light during the investigation into Maine's child protection system.

My bill will ensure that the Department does not prioritize family reunification over the best interests of a child. This bill clarifies that caseworkers must make reasonable efforts to reunify a child with a family but it's not the priority. While I recognize that family reunification or kinship care - when a child lives with a relative - is often best for the child, these options should obviously not be pursued to the detriment of a child's safety and well-being.

In listening to caseworkers and participating in the investigation, my main concern is that overworked caseworkers, who are often caring for these children in their offices and in some cases hotel rooms, feel the pressure to prematurely reunify families. This could have severe consequences for a child. With my bill, we had a chance to apply some commonsense and shift our priorities to what's best for the child. I think giving caseworkers a little flexibility will allow them to better do their job.

Lawmakers also agreed to ensure DHHS has the resources, funds and staff to keep kids safe by passing a $21 million funding bill. The amended version of this bill directs the Department to upgrade the computer system, up the foster care rates and increase staffing, which includes adding 16 caseworkers. Working in child protection is a tough job. The bill also provides mental health services to those working on the frontline to help with the trauma they experience just trying to save the lives of kids. To reduce the turnover rate and fill more positions, we need to make sure there is adequate pay and support.

Lastly, we also passed two proposals that deal with how the Department accesses information and maintains records. It only makes sense to make sure the Department has access to all the necessary information to identify possible cases of child abuse and determine whether or not a child should remain in that home. This bill will make it easier for caseworkers to do their job.

The passing of this legislation marks the start of our work to repair and rebuild Maine's child welfare system. Maine lawmakers, the Chief Executive and the Department of Health and Human Services still have a lot of work left to guarantee the safety and protection of Maine children. I'm hopeful that the governor will sign these bills into law so the next Legislature has the proper foundation to build a stronger, more robust child welfare system.

On September 27, I will be hosting my monthly cable TV show on channel 7 in Windham. We will be talking with a caseworker about the unseen difficulties of the job. Please tune in and we will be on Facebook live-streaming as well.

As always, please feel free to contact me at diamondhollyd@aol.com or (207) 287-1515 if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I will do my best to keep you updated on what is happening in Augusta and what we are doing to repair Maine's child welfare system so these types of tragedies never happen again.


MSSPA celebrates the hard work of volunteers by Jennifer Davis

Mary Ann Benson on the left

This past Sunday, the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals (MSSPA) was rocking as it welcomed its many volunteers to the farm to celebrate all their hard work over the past year.  This is not the first event at MSSPA to celebrate its volunteers but the first of this caliber.  This year’s event invited a pizza truck that baked pizzas for the volunteers to enjoy in a wood fired oven, awards, and even a plush horse favor for the volunteers to adopt. Over 45 of MSSPAs volunteers were in attendance and a great time was had by all.

MSSPA is a non-profit organization that offers refuge and rehabilitation for abused or neglected horses in Maine. The hope is that the horses that arrive on the farm are adopted but some of the horses live out the remainder of the lives at the farm. The horses are cared for by a compassionate staff and a large group of volunteers. 
 
“In 2017 alone, nearly 400 individuals volunteered over 10,000 hours, which represents 4.8 Full - Time Equivalent (FTE) employees that the Society would otherwise have to hire in order to continue operations,” said Erin Ludwig, Administrative Specialist for MSSPA.  “To celebrate the fabulous volunteer group that MSSPA has, MSSPA held this volunteer appreciation luncheon.” 

The volunteers complete a variety of work while they are at the farm, doing things such as cleaning the horse stalls, feeding the horses, haying fields, etc. When visiting the farm, it is clear that the volunteers have a great deal of passion for what they are doing, evident by the smiles on their faces and how serious they are about doing a good job for the horses.

Mary Ann Benson has been volunteering regularly at MSSPA for the past 11 months. “I retired in 2016 and decided I really wanted to work with animals after spending 45 years working with people in higher education and retail management,” said Benson. “I’ve always loved horses.”  Benson had previously volunteered with the Animal Rescue League as well. “My favorite experience working with the horses is getting to know their individual personalities and quirks,” said Benson. “It has been extremely rewarding watching them recover from the circumstances that brought them to MSSPA. It is truly my happy place,”

Sparky Hurgin on left
Sparky Hurgin has been a volunteer at MSSPA for the past 7 months.  After recently retiring he wanted to volunteer and with prior horse experience he thought MSSPA would be the perfect fit.  “My favorite part of volunteering at MSSPA is seeing the horses being cared for,” said Hurgin.  “Their recovery is phenomenal.” 

Hurkin was in attendance at this past weekend’s event. “Everyone is so appreciative of the volunteers making it such a welcoming place,” Hurgin said. “The volunteer event just highlights how much MSSPA truly appreciates us all.”

Meris J. Bickford, MSSPA CEO and Marilyn L. Goodreau, MSSPA Chairwoman Emeritus both made remarks at the volunteer appreciation luncheon to thank the volunteers.  Robert Sheckler, MSSPA Volunteer Coordinator handed out barn theme awards to some volunteers as well.
MSSPA is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to the public every day where visitors can tour the farm and meet the horses.  If you or anyone you know are interested in volunteering at MSSPA the volunteer application can be found online at msspa.org/volunteer.  Volunteers must be 16 years of age or older to volunteer alone.  Anyone under the age of 16 will need to be accompanied by a parent.  If you or anyone you know are interested in donating to MSSPA you may do so on their website at MSSPA.org.