July 19, 2019

Windham five-year-old took a celebratory home run lap around the bases of Hadlock Field

The Maine Children’s Cancer Program, the Portland Sea Dogs, and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine honored Griffin Cochrane of Windham, a five-year-old boy who is making progress in his recovery from leukemia at Hadlock Field in Portland with a triumphant home run lap around the bases while the players give him high-fives and the crowd cheered him on. The ceremony occurred just prior to the Portland Sea Dogs’ 7 p.m. game at Hadlock Field on Friday, July 12, after the national anthem.

Griffin Cochrane running basis
According to a recent press release, Griffin’s parents shared the following information:
“On June 25, 2017, our world came crashing down around us as our worst fear became our reality. Our oldest son, Griffin, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of three years old. From that day, we knew Griffin would have the fight of his life ahead of him.

Griffin spent the first month of treatment at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital undergoing surgical placement of his Mediport, bone marrow aspirations, lumbar punctures and chemotherapy.
There, we met Griffin’s oncologists, social workers and nurses from Maine Children’s Cancer Program, who would be providing world class care to save our son’s life.

From the day Griffin was diagnosed, the oncologists, social workers, nurses and staff at Maine Children’s Cancer Program went above and beyond to not only provide Griffin with lifesaving treatment, but to provide support for our entire family. He is still on active treatment today for Leukemia and will be until the fall of 2020.

With the incredible support of Maine Children’s Cancer Program, along with support from our families and friends, we are ecstatic to say that Griffin is thriving. He is an active five-year-old who attends preschool and loves to play outside with his younger brother, Sawyer.

He plays soccer, basketball, t-ball and wants to be a hockey player when he grows up. He is thoughtful, kind and sincere beyond his years. We are so proud of him and all that he has overcome. He is truly incredible!”

In tribute to Griffin’s courage and strength, he was honored at the first of four Anthem’s Heroes at last Saturdays Sea Dogs’ game.

A report from the Town of Windham Assessor’s Office

It is the responsibility of the Assessing Office to maintain assessed values according to just value or market value. Continued increases in the real estate market are indicating that this office again needs to make value adjustments.  The Maine Constitution states that “all taxes upon real and personal estate, assessed by authority of this State, shall be apportioned and assessed equally according to the just value thereof.”  In order to apportion the tax burden equally, the Assessor must establish assessed valuations at just value. Just value is synonymous with market value. 

  1. The Windham real estate market has continued to grow, and recent sale prices are quickly outpacing last year’s town-wide valuation update. Sales studies now show that residential assessments average around 88% of sales prices and prices continue to ascend. Had Windham not conducted an update last year we would likely be in the 75% range this year. There have been very few commercial sales and therefore no adjustments to commercial assessments are needed at this time. 
  2. The school, town and county budgets have already been set. An update will NOT raise more revenue for the Town. The purpose is to value all properties by the same standard and equalize the tax burden.
  3. Significant changes are not expected in most tax bills as the majority of the update will be proportionate to one another. This means that most property valuations will be raised by a similar amount and thus experience a tax bill increase similar to what they would have even without the update. Exceptions include cases where a homeowner has made property improvements or are undervalued relative to everyone else.
  4. Benefits to this action include:
·       The projected mil rate will likely be reduced;
·       Properties that were undervalued relative to others will be brought up to pay their fair share;
·       We will avoid reducing the amounts for Homestead, Veteran and Blind exemptions;
·       Smaller updates like this insulate property owners from sudden jumps in valuation;
·       Frequent updates avoid costly one-time revaluations;
·       The update can be prepared without significant expense because our field inspection work is current.

Work on this project will begin immediately in order to meet the August 13, 2019 commitment date deadline.

Tax Relief: The following exemptions and current use programs are available to those who qualify. Applications and more information can be obtained either through the Assessing Office or by contacting Maine Revenue Services, Property Tax Division at 287-2013.

·       Veterans Exemption - A person must be a Maine resident, 62 years or older and have served in the U.S. Armed Forces during a Federally Recognized War Period or; be receiving 100% disability compensation for service-connected injury. $6,000 exemption.
·       Homestead Exemption - A person must be a Maine resident and have owned and resided in the property they consider their homestead and legal residence for at least 12 months prior to date of application. Forms must be filed with the Assessing Office by April 1.  Forms filed after April 1 of any year will apply to the subsequent year’s tax assessment. $20,000 exemption.
·       Blind Exemption - A person determined to be legally blind. $4,000 exemption.
·       Senior Property Tax Assistance – Information is available through the Town Manager’s Office or by visiting:  http://windhammaine.us/616/Senior-Property-Tax-Assistance

Current Use Programs: In the 1970's, the Constitutional Law added a current use clause which allowed special treatment for certain property use if several criteria are met.

·       Tree Growth - A parcel of land with at least 10 contiguous forested acres which are harvested for commercial purposes.
·       Farmland - Property must have a minimum of 5 contiguous acres and be used for agricultural purposes with contributing income.
·       Open Space - No minimum acreage but parcel must be undeveloped and provide a public benefit.

For more information please visit our website http://www.windhammaine.us/156/Assessor or contact the Windham Assessor’s Office at (207) 894-5960 ext. 3.

Council moves forward on the search for Windham Town Manager

By Lorraine Glowczak

Although the meet and greet the town hosted on Friday, June 21 to introduce the top Town Manager candidate, John Mauro, to Windham residents was a successful one, the Council will have to start the search for a Town Manager once again since Mauro was offered and accepted the position of Town Manager for Port Townsend, WA.

In a special Town Council meeting held on Tuesday, July 16, the Council opted to move forward and start the search process immediately.

Below is an updated Windham Town Manager search timeline. Please note that this timeline is tentative, and dates may have to be adjusted or changed.                                                           

July 17 Wednesday        
·       Ad placed  

August 14 Wednesday
·       Deadline for applicants

August 16 Friday
·       Notebooks with selected resumes of applicants delivered to Council. A notebook with all the resumes available.

August 20 Tuesday
·       Council meets to review applicant’s resumes and decides on which candidates to interview (no more then 8).

August 26-30
·       First round of interviews. Most likely two days needed. Decide on (2) candidates for second round of interviews. Complete background checks performed on finalists before next round.

September 9-12
·       Community gathering to meet finalists.
·       Dept. Heads interview finalist.
·       Council interviews finalist & selects new manager.

September 16-
·       Negotiations with final candidate and starting date announced

For more information, contact the Town Manager’s office at 207-892-1907.

Seeking classroom grandparents

The Opportunity Alliance is calling on community members to contribute their skills and experiences to support the youngest generation as a classroom volunteer in the Foster Grandparent Program.   Classroom grandparents are role models, mentors, and friends to children in schools and child development centers, supporting school readiness and academic achievement.

Openings are available for adults age 55 and over, living in Cumberland, York and Oxford counties, willing to commit to a regular schedule during the school year and are interested in helping children thrive.

Volunteers who meet generous income guidelines receive a stipend of approximately $200. a month, travel reimbursement, meals, ongoing training and most importantly, are guaranteed to laugh and smile every day!  As one volunteer said, “The benefits to me include joy in seeing a positive change in a child. One little girl struggles to read, but with positive encouragement and praise she now wants to read with me and asks for her turn daily.”

Studies prove Americans who volunteer better health and increased friendships.  To learn more about volunteering and the next training program, call the Foster Grandparent Program at 207-773-0202 or toll-free at 1-800-698-4959.

Seventh annual “Lobstah Bake” to be held at Faith Lutheran Church held on August 4

Members of the Faith Lutheran Church, 988 Roosevelt Trail, North Windham, are elated to announce that their seventh annual fundraising “Lobstah Bake” will be held on Sunday, August 4 with two different seatings available at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

The meal includes one lobster, ½ pound of steamers, corn on the cob, potatoes, coleslaw, blueberry cobbler, and lemonade. Tickets are $20. The same meal with two lobsters is $25. A hotdog or a hamburger meal, with the same side options, is also available for $10. Single lobsters may be available at market rate.

“This fundraiser is really an event for the whole Windham community - not just the members of our church,” stated Jane Field, Pastor of Faith Lutheran. “It's a chance for old friends to reconnect and for new friendships to form as people gather under the tents to enjoy delicious lobster. Everyone in our congregation gets involved in putting this on, and you can really see the incredible spirit of hospitality and welcome that is at the very heart of their faith. The money we raise goes to support the work of the church with a portion of the proceeds going to Windham Neighbors helping Neighbors. 
“The sign out in front of our church says, ‘All Are Welcome,’ and that's true every Sunday - but it's especially true on Sunday, August 4 when all are truly welcome to join us in enjoying great lobster and supporting a good cause." 

To place your order for “Lobstah Bake” tickets or for lobsters to take home, contact Melinda Zimmer-Rankin before July 31 at 207-749-9503.

Rep. Corey’s bill to allow spouses to provide home and community-based services is now law!

It will improve the quality of life and care for families, lower costs, and address the shortage of workers

WINDHAM – Rep. Patrick Corey (R-Windham) announced his legislation, LD 84, Resolve, Directing the Department of Health and Human Services To Allow Spouses To Provide Home and Community-based Services to Eligible MaineCare Members has been signed into law by Governor Janet Mills. The new law directs the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to request a federal waiver allowing spouses employed as personal support specialists to provide services to their spouse.

For Rep. Corey, this was his second attempt to pass legislation in response to the plight of constituents, John and Linda Gregoire of Windham. John has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and requires round the clock care from his wife Linda.

"John and Linda Gregoire really opened my eyes to the hardships that a spouse with a debilitating disease can place on a family,” said Rep. Corey (R-Windham). "While getting spouses paid for caregiving through Medicaid seemed pretty straight forward, it took two attempts, strong advocacy from many interests, and some really creative thought regarding who will employ this new workforce to keep the costs down. LD 84 brings us one step closer to allowing spouses to be paid for caregiving activities.”

"Linda slowed down her work schedule more and more, since I was diagnosed with ALS in 2007," said John Gregoire. "Today, she's only able to work away from home one day a week. The reality is however, with my need for 24/7 care, she's working more hours when we don't have outside help."

Allowing spouses to be paid through MaineCare fills a significant need in the home care workforce while providing financial benefit to the state. Avoiding the cost of nursing home care for one-year equals paying for three years of personal support specialist services.

According to the Maine Wire, “the average annual cost of a private room in an assisted living facility or nursing home is $59,892 and $108,405, respectively, in Maine. Under the current reimbursement rate for services under Section 19, if an individual required 40 hours of care per week, the state would spend less than $38,500 to reimburse for these services.”

Additional Benefits:
Low wages and the demands of direct care jobs both contribute to a shortage of direct care workers in Maine. Spouses were often filling these lapses in care, making it difficult for them to retain gainful employment.

Patients in this program already qualify for expensive long-term care. Keeping nursing home eligible people at home saves the state money.

Families will be able to stay together. Previously, anyone could be paid to provide care except a  spouse. In some cases, it resulted in the dissolution of marriages.

July 12, 2019

Windham Town Council discusses the Retail Adult Use and Medical Marijuana Task Force

By Lorraine Glowczak

The agenda item of the Windham Town Council meeting held on Tuesday, July 9th that brought the crowds into the Town Council Chamber was: “To discuss and act on the continuation of the Retail Adult-Use and Medical Task Force”.

The discussion began with Interim Town Manager, Don Gerrish, giving a historical background of the issue at hand. He explained that the council had a workshop on June 25th with the town attorney and at the workshop the council made a tentative decision on marijuana options in Windham. Due to that meeting and based upon the outcome, Gerrish explained that he cancelled the Taskforce meeting, admitting that he made an assumption without the direction of the Council.

The floor was then open for public comment with Maggie Terry, co-owner of Legal Leaf the first to speak.

She expressed that she felt the task force was not being heard by town leadership and believed, as a chair of that task force, she had not received any guidance from the council. Terry also mentioned that she had heard there were some complaints about the cannabis industry and when she asked what those complaints were so they could be addressed, she received no response. Terry reiterated, “the owners of the cannabis industry are hardworking and family oriented and Windham can benefit from this business. The cannabis community wants to work together for the best of all involved.”
She presented more than 200 signatures for all legal use marijuana options.

Joanne Mattiace, also of Legal Leaf, spoke to the council about her concern regarding the town attorney’s work with a cannabis company. “The law firm that represents the town and advises the council simultaneously advises a cannabis company,” she said. “It’s critical that we consider if this is a conflict of interest. Any advice by the legal council [at the above-mentioned meeting] may have been bias.”

Mattiace asked the council the following questions:

When did the law firm’s representation begin? Which client did it serve first?
Was the duo representation made known to the town?
Who advised on this matter?
What is the specific billing arrangement with the law firm?

Response from Council:

Councilwoman Donna Chapman reiterated that the Council did not know about the cancellation of the task force meeting and intends to make sure that everything will get back on track. She suggested that with signatures it be put on the ballot for public vote in November. In regard to the Town Attorney, if there is a problem it will be looked into. “The only thing we are saying ‘No’ to right now is adult use grow stores. We try to listen to both sides of the voters.”

Councilmen Jarrod Maxfield stated that he does believe the task force should continue and concurred with Chapman that if there is a problem with the law firm and a potential conflict of interest, research in the matter should occur.

Councilwomen Rebecca Cummings admitted that she was torn about continuing the task force because, “Since we voted ‘no” for adult use – I do not want to have the task force members leave their families every week to meet on the committee. But at the same time, perhaps a compromise could be made.”

For more details about the meeting and to hear opinions from members of the task force, the minutes and video can be found at: www.windhammaine.us/