January 27, 2023

Windham awards new contract to town manager

By Ed Pierce

By virtue of a new contract, the Town of Windham will continue to tap into the experience, expertise, and leadership abilities of Barry Tibbetts as town manager.

Barry Tibbetts has served as the Town Manager
for Windham since November 2019 and the
Windham Town Council renewed his contract
for three years during a meeting on Tuesday
evening. FILE PHOTO 
Tibbetts, who was appointed by the Windham Town Council as the interim town manager in November 2019, assumed duties as the fulltime town manager in March 2020.

In extending a new contract to Tibbetts, councilors authorized him to perform the functions and duties of the town manager and to hold all offices as specified in the town's charter and to complete other duties and functions.

Under terms of the contract, Windham will pay Tibbetts an annual base salary of $160,741.80, which Phyllis Moss, the town’s human resources director detailed in a memo for councilors as being in line with compensation for other town managers leading nearby communities.

Based upon the new agreement, Tibbetts would receive cost-of-living adjustments for town employees starting in July 2023 based upon results of his annual performance evaluation. He would also be eligible for a longevity increase should he stay through the third year of the contract in Fiscal Year 2025-2026.

“I would just like to thank Barry for his efforts,” said Windham councilor David Nadeau. “He’s done a phenomenal job moving us forward.”

Councilor Jarrod Maxfield agreed with Nadeau’s assessment.

“I truly believe if you had not come to Windham when you did that we would not be in the position that we are in,” Maxfield told Tibbetts. “Windham is getting a lot more than we’re paying for.”

In August, Tibbetts was honored with the Maine Town, City and County Management Association’s 2022 Leadership Award during the association’s annual convention at Sugarloaf. The award is presented to recognize a Public Administrator in the state for a particularly bold and innovative project or for solving an unusually difficult problem and then playing a key role in developing the project as well as in implementing it.

In nominating Tibbetts for the award, Windham Town Council members and Bob Burns, Windham assistant town manager, representing Windham town staff, wrote that Tibbetts stepped up and led the way for Windham in getting major projects such Windham’s new wastewater treatment solution for North Windham, development of a connector road system to alleviate traffic congestion in the Route 302 corridor and Windham’s approval of the East Windham Conservation Project where hundreds of acres are being conserved by the town for recreational use.

“These achievements that needed Barry’s motivation, tutelage and leadership are wins for him and major wins for the Town of Windham and its residents,” Burns said in his nomination letter.

Windham voters attending the Annual Town Meeting last June approved a proposal for the town to join a partnership with Presumpscot Regional Land Trust to purchase and conserve 661 acres near Little Duck Pond in East Windham in a project called the East Windham Conservation Project. The project will acquire forested acreage for recreational opportunities in Windham while also adding 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond, the 150-acre Deer Wintering Area for hunting, and the 580-foot Atherton Hill, the tallest hill in Windham.

As part of the project, Lands for Maine’s Future awarded Windham $998,000 to help fund the initiative and voters approved a bond to match the LMF award with town open space impact fees so there is no impact upon the mil rate for local homeowners.

During a Windham referendum in June 2022, voters approved a proposed $40.4 million sewer and wastewater treatment project for North Windham championed by Tibbetts. Some 71 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of the measure after a different sewer proposal was rejected by Windham voters in 2012. The project will not raise taxes and all but $500,000 is covered to pay for the initiative through a combination of grant funding, a $38.9 million award by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and North Windham TIF funding supported by North Windham businesses.

A new wastewater treatment facility on the grounds of Manchester School will be built as part of the project and addresses pressing environmental issues by removing thousands of pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus being dumped by septic systems into the aquifer and watershed. It also is intended to stimulate significant economic growth and development in the North Windham area from industry and businesses not willing to locate there previously because of septic system issues and associated costs.

As town manager, Tibbetts also is leading an effort to alleviate persistent traffic congestion in North Windham along Route 302 through creation of a system of new access roads and sophisticated high-tech traffic signals. In January 2022, the Windham Town Council adopted a study that puts forward a phased plan to build connector roads in the next few years.

For years, heavy traffic during peak travel times is an ongoing problem along the Route 302 corridor from the intersection of Route 115 to Franklin Road and has caused congestion, motorist delays and a high accident rate for motorists in the town. The issue has been studied repeatedly for decades, but now a potential solution is at hand.

Tibbetts joined Windham after serving 24 years in municipal roles with the Town of Kennebunk, retiring there as Town Manager in 2017. Along the way he acquired extensive municipal experience and experience in local government, administrative operations, budgeting, regulatory functions, and community relations.

Before accepting the interim town manager job for Windham, Tibbetts worked with a small energy start-up business and developed a consulting business in energy and governmental services. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Maine, and he also earned an MBA degree during his career in government. He also holds credentialed certifications from both the ICMA and MCTMA.

He is married and the father of three daughters. <

Council advances proposed childcare amendment to Planning Board

By Ed Pierce

Members of the Windham Town Council have voted to send the Windham Planning Board an item for a proposed amendment allowing a childcare facility in the Route 202 corridor in the Windham Center area.

The Windham Town Council sent a proposed amendment
regarding childcare zoning to the Windham Planning Board
for review and a public hearing at its next meeting in
The Windham Raymond School Age Child Care Program asked councilors to advance the proposal so that the Planning Board could schedule a public hearing on the matter at its next meeting. The non-profit childcare program recently purchased a 2.5-acre parcel on Pope Road near the junction of Route 202 and has an opportunity to apply for a Start Up Facility Child Care Grant from the state which could assist with startup costs of up to $250,000.

The grant application needs to include a letter on file by March 1 saying that the town has approved the facility’s location.

As a non-profit, the Windham Raymond School Age Child Care Program currently operates a before/after school childcare program and currently exceeds the State of Maine’s childcare licensing requirements.

In a letter to councilors, program officials say that the ever-growing need for quality childcare in not only the Windham community but other surrounding communities, led to the organization making a commitment to expand to offer care for infants, toddlers, and preschool age children.

The grant application requires land for new facilities be identified and the town in which the land is located must verify via a letter that a childcare center can be built on the land.

Childcare facilities are currently allowed by the town in an overlay within the portions of the Farm and Farm-Residential Zoning Districts and located in proximity to Gray Road between Roosevelt Trail and Swett Road. The new facility would require a zoning change.

“We understand there are several possibilities for zoning changes. The Windham Center zone ordinance change which could be several months out including contract zoning where the timing would also be too close to call for the grant application, and a change to existing zoning in a business corridor for daycare center use,” Windham Raymond School Age Child Care wrote to the town council. “We would ask that the existing zoning law be amended to allow for a zone change in a business corridor for daycare center use within 800 feet of Route 202.”

The town’s Planning Board is responsible for reviewing and approving all conditional use applications in the overlay zone. Requirements would include adhering to a maximum building size of 7,000 square feet, a review of design guidelines, a pitched roof use of traditional, high-quality building materials, including brick, clapboard, shingles, or other similar projects as the primary siding material. Buildings and parking areas must be properly screened from adjoining residential properties located at the side and rear of the property.

The childcare program wrote to the council that a new childcare center with proximity to local schools will help ease childcare needs and assist those families with multiple children for drop off and pick up.

“Our plan is for one building with a fenced-in playground, and parking area as required by town. This building could house from 50 to 75 children, depending on state licensing requirements with typical business operating hours during the Monday to Friday work week and full day operations, the surrounding neighbors should experience very limited/no nighttime or weekend impacts,” program officials wrote. “As of now, we have the land and plans for our building. We are ready to start the financial process with or without the grant, but the grant would certainly help with this startup endeavor. We need this zoning change before we can go further with the grant application process.”

Windham Planning Director Amanda Lessard said should the Planning Board approve the project after the public hearing and discussion, all applicable permits and a review would need to be obtained like with any other project in Windham.

Councilors voted to advance the proposed amendment to the Planning Board meeting on Feb. 13. <

State Park campers increase significantly in 2022

AUGUSTA – Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Bureau of Parks and Lands Director Andy Cutko has announced a record was set during 2022 for camping nights in state parks.

Reservations for the 2023 camping season at
Sebago Lake State Park in Casco opens at 9 a.m.
Feb. 1 online at www.CampWithME.com or
by calling 800-332-1501. FILE PHOTO 
During 2022, Maine State Park campgrounds recorded over 319,000 visitor nights. 2022 was BPL's second-highest ranking year for total state park visitation, with more than 3.28 million people spending time at the bureau's 48 parks and historic sites. In 2021, Maine State Parks welcomed more than 3.3 million visitors and more than 315,000 campers.

"The credit for this record-breaking growth goes to every staff member in our Maine State Parks system. Their dedication to caring for our parks and the people who choose to recreate with us is unmatched," said DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal. "Whenever I visit a Maine State Park, I always discover something new that reminds me how amazing these places are and the impact that spending time in nature can have on people."

Cutko said the 2022 increase shows how much people love Maine’s state parks. "Many of us have been interested to see whether the pandemic spike in outdoor activity would be sustained," Cufko said. "Our 2022 statistics show that Maine people and our visitors continue to love our State Parks."

For the coming year, Cufko advises that the state will begin accepting reservations for Lily Bay and Sebago Lake State Parks next month.

He said at 9 a.m. Feb. 1, the Maine State Park campground reservations center opens to accept online and phone reservations for Lily Bay and Sebago Lake State Parks.

Camping reservations may also be made online at www.CampWithME.com or reach the camping reservation call center by calling 800-332-1501 from a Maine 207 area code; or 207-624-9950. Seasonal reservation call center hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, excluding holidays.

Group Campsite and Picnic Shelter Reservations are by phone only and begin Feb. 1, 2023. <

County makes $1.35 million available for heating assistance

Cumberland County government officials have announced that county funded home heating funds are now available to residents, through participating towns and cities.

The Cumberland County Commissioners have allocated $1.35 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for homeowners who are struggling to pay for heat this winter.

Cumberland County established the “Keep Cumberland County Warm” project in December 2022. Funds are distributed to qualifying residents who need help with heating bills through town and city offices, and so the program is voluntary for municipalities to participate.

Eleven communities in Cumberland County have signed up to participate in the program so far.

“High costs associated with home heating are forcing low- and middle-income households to face impossible choices,” said Cumberland County Manager Jim Gailey. “Hopefully these funds will help a lot of people in Cumberland County get through a tough winter.”

The heating aid program is designed to support residents whose earnings are above the limit to qualify for General Assistance aid or Federal Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds but are still earning below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit and are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of heat.”

In Cumberland County, a household of four would qualify for aid if their household income is below $82,710.

“People at all income levels are feeling the pinch,” Gailey said. “These funds were designed for households who don’t normally qualify for heating aid but are still having trouble making ends meet in this environment.”

Cumberland County has committed $50,000 to each participating community to distribute to residents who qualify. There is no standard award; towns and cities will each have the discretion to choose how they want to allocate funds if they meet the overall program guidelines.

Since 2021, Cumberland County has invested more than $20 million in critical projects and programs in the region, by way of ARPA funding.

Prior to launching the Keep Cumberland County Warm Fund, Cumberland County had already invested more than $2 million in direct support to residents; with county funds having been used toward reducing housing and food insecurity and expanding access to health care and transportation for people who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Gailey said that the county has dedicated millions of ARPA dollars to affordable housing projects, directly funding hundreds of new units under construction in the region and providing incentives for developers to continue building affordable housing in the coming years.

Through partnerships with the City of Portland Homeless Service Center and Tedford Shelter in Brunswick, the County has allocated more than $4 million toward the development of non-congregate shelter space and wraparound services for people who are experiencing homelessness within our region.

Finally, Cumberland County has recently announced competitive grant programs for uncommitted ARPA funds to preserve and produce affordable rental housing; improve sewer and water infrastructure; and increase the number of childcare slots available in the region.

For more information about how to apply please contact your local town office and speak to the General Assistance Administrator.

To read more about income guidelines for Keep Cumberland County Warm, contact information for each town, and other Cumberland County’s ARPA investments, visit the County’s dedicated Keep Cumberland County Warm website at https://cumberlandcounty.org/heat <

January 20, 2023

In the public eye: WHS assistant principal supports student success

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

By Lorraine Glowczak

Vanessa Michaud, one of two Assistant Principals at Windham High School, was predestined to be an educator. With an uncle and two aunts (one of whom became a Principal at Gardiner High School), Michaud witnessed and realized the significance of education and its contribution to individual success at an early age.

Vanessa Michaud has worked at Windham High School for
nine years, first as a science teacher and then moving into
her current position as one of two assistant principals for 
the school in 2018. PHOTO BY LORRAINE GLOWCZAK 
“My family always valued education and its important impact it can make in people’s lives,” she said. “Having strong mentors and support from my family played a very important part in who and where I am today.”

Michaud grew up in Brewer, graduating from Brewer High School in 2004. Continuing in the Michaud family tradition, she attended the University of Maine in Orono, graduating in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in both secondary and elementary education with a minor in Biology.

Upon graduation from UMO, she moved north of Orono to Lee, and taught Advanced Placement (AP) Biology, Anatomy & Physiology, and Lab Biology at Lee Academy. But Michaud’s work with students expanded beyond the classroom.

“I was also the varsity softball coach, a class advisor, and a dorm parent to 16 girls from all around the world who lived on campus,” she said. “I really enjoyed all my tasks because the experiences allowed me to really get to know the students on a one-to-one and personal level, both in and out of the classroom setting.”

While successfully managing multiple roles at Lee Academy, Michaud continued her education, working toward her master’s degree in educational leadership at UMO, which she earned in 2013.

Always dreaming of moving to Southern Maine, Michaud began looking for teaching positions in York and Cumberland counties. There was one school that caught her attention.

“As I was looking to relocate, I noticed an opening at WHS, and, having heard good things about the school, I applied and got a job as a science teacher,” she said. “Although it was a one-year position, the school seemed the right fit for me, so I took the job.”

Her one-year position teaching subjects such as biology, environmental science, earth and space science, and APEX (Alternative Program for Excellence) science programming turned into a full-time job. In 2018, after just four years of teaching science at WHS, Michaud stepped into her current role as one of the school’s assistant principals.

Since her arrival on the WHS campus, there is so much she enjoys about her job, and she has difficulty

pointing out just one thing she loves. But if pressed, Michaud would share two things. One is the positive relationships she witnesses between students and staff, and the second is watching students flourish in their own ways.

“I really love watching the collaboration and fun interactions that happen between the students and staff, and that occurs more than some might think,” she said. “A very close second part of what I love about my job is watching students flourish, grow, and become student leaders by learning to express their authentic voice and challenging themselves to discover what success means to them.”

There are a few challenges that come with any job, and there is no exception for the role of assistant principal. “Finding that balance between maintaining expectations and supporting students while they face their own challenges is by far one of the most difficult parts of my job.”

But the good outweighs any challenges she might face and that includes constant opportunities for growth. Michaud says she never stops learning and continually discovers something new in her role as a WHS administrator.

“I have learned that I should always take the time to listen to students and staff to understand their perspective and what they need the most to help them succeed,” she said. “If you take the time to really listen, you discover there are deeper concerns that are the cause of the issue. From that understanding and knowledge, I can meet their needs and support them in the best way possible.”

She has also learned that it takes a team to provide the best education for students.

“I am very lucky to be among a great administrative and teaching staff who are always there to support me and choose to work with me as a team. Without this team spirit, I would not be the assistant principal I aspire to be, and that is the educator my family taught me to be, to facilitate and support students to succeed and follow the paths of their dreams,” she said.<

Geology an essential factor in Lakes Region life

By Abby Wilson

Sebago Lake has a measured water depth of 316 feet, making it the deepest water body in the state of Maine. With a water depth 49 feet below sea level, why is this lake so deep?

As a large sheet of ice retreated northwest across Maine
during the Ice Age about 15,000 years ago, it left behind the
basin which created Sebago Lake, the deepest water body in
the state of Maine. COURYESY OF MAINE 
Dr. Lindsay Spigel, a Senior Geologist at the Maine Geological Survey, says that preexisting valleys in the Lakes Region were accentuated by glacial erosion and created the lake basin we see today.

At the end of the last Ice Age (about 15,000 years ago), the large ice sheet retreated northwest. The ice sheet weighed so much, it depressed the earth’s surface, Spigel said. The land surface was lower than it is today, so the ocean covered parts of southern Maine.

All of the meltwater from the glaciers contained sediments and ground-up rocks. As the meltwater flowed into the glacial sea, the sediments were deposited to form a delta which dammed the southern side of the Sebago basin, making it impossible for the water to keep traveling south. A large lake then formed behind the dam.

Proximity to the glacial sea and composition of the rock are two factors for high versus low topography, Spigel said.

Different types of rock have varied resistance to erosion. Areas that were once under the glacial sea tend to have subdued topography because the bedrock is covered by thick ocean sediments. The muddy and sandy deposits we see now were once deltas, beaches, or the sea floor.

Many areas of Maine are underlain by granite, which is an igneous rock and can be more easily eroded.

Hacker’s Hill is a popular place in the Sebago Lake area to view the sunrise or sunset. It stands 300 feet above the surrounding landscape, allowing visitors to view many lakes such as Sebago and the White Mountains.

This hill is composed of Sebago granite which underlies large expanse of land in Southwestern Maine. Hacker’s Hill also has metamorphic rocks which would not have been easily eroded by glacial activity.

The Maine Geological Survey has dated the granite back to 296 million years ago using radiometric

techniques. This suggests that Hacker’s Hill was created during the final stages of the Appalachian Mountain formation.

Pleasant Mountain, another tall peak in the Sebago Lake Area “is something different in a sea of granite,” says Spigel. Similar to Hacker’s Hill, this landscape formed as a mountain because its rock composition was more resistant to erosion.

These geological aspects affect more than just topography and landscape. Spigel says that water quantity and quality are also dependent on the local geology.

Arsenic and radon in water can be common due to the type of bedrock that a well is in.

Areas where the retreating glaciers deposited sand and gravel are excellent sources of water. The Portland Water District uses Sebago Lake as its main water source, but it also has pumps in sand and gravel deposits called eskers in case the lake water is compromised.

Sandy glacial meltwater deposits are also known as excellent farmlands today. These areas are much easier to farm than rocky glacial till that was dumped off by glaciers.

Geologists know what the landscape was like millions of years before us and how that impacts what it’s like today. How do they know this?

“Hundreds of years of observation” says Spigel. People started studying the geology of Maine in the early to mid-1800s.

Marine seashells were found way above modern sea level, so scientists started to ask questions and eventually they were able to determine the ages of rocks and other deposits and got a much bigger picture.

George Stone wrote important publications in 1899 about glacial deposits in Maine. There were no geological maps yet, but he understood that there was once a glacial sea by observing different glacial deposits.

The last big mapping effort to create the state geologic maps occurred in the 1970s-1980s. Now, the Maine Geological Survey is working to provide more detailed maps which can be used for environmental monitoring and land use planning.

Spigel has researched the Sebago Lake area during her time with the Maine Geological Survey. About 12,000 years ago, there was a huge landslide. Spigel figured this out by radiocarbon-dating the trees that were killed by the landslide.

After the Ice Age everything was shifting and the earth would have been in a state of imbalance, causing earthquakes and landslides.

This landslide took place on what is today the Sebago Lake Land Reserve in Standish. This property is owned by the Portland Water District and is open to the public for recreation.

Walking on this property, visitors will notice the dramatic contrast is elevation, especially between Bobcat Trail and Horsetail Trail, a direct result of the landslide.

This stark difference in elevation leads to contrast in plant communities. Ponds, streams, and wetlands are found at the bottom of slope, formed by depressions in the landslide deposit.

To explore this fascinating geology and ecology, you can visit the Sebago Lake Land Reserve daily, dawn to dusk. <

TIP hosting training event for new interested volunteers

By Masha Yurkevich

Life happens to all of us; a crisis where we need help, a situation in which we need a lending hand. The TIP (Trauma Intervention Program) and the TIP volunteers are there for those who need it, providing immediate emotional and practical support to survivors of a tragedy.

The Trauma Intervention Program and TIP volunteers are
there for those who need it, providing immediate emotional
and practical support to survivors of a tragedy.
It all started when TIP founder, Wayne Fortin, was working in County Mental Health and realized that many people suffered what was called a "second injury" when a family member or friend died or was injured. Meaning that they often did not receive the immediate care, information and assistance that they needed when experiencing a tragedy. Daily, firefighters, EMTs, and police officers would have to leave survivors of tragedy to fend for themselves during the worst hours of their lives.

This is not the fault of the emergency responders as they must get back into service, and they don't have the time to provide the time-consuming service which shocked survivors need. Thus, TIP was founded by Wayne Fortin to solve this problem.

Pam Grant is the Director of TIP Greater Portland and has been since March 2022 and this February, TIP will be hosting a training academy for anyone that would like to become a volunteer for the program. Training begins Feb. 1 and runs for eight days.

During the week, the classes are in the evening and on the weekend during the day. The Training academy will be held at the Westbrook Public Safety Building training room at 570 Main St. Westbrook.

“All who are interested can contact me at pam@tipgreaterportland.org or go on our website tipgreaterportland.org and put in an application,” says Grant.

The requirements to join include successful completion of all of the scheduled training dates as well as:

· * Fingerprint & Background Check through TIP

· * Valid Driver’s License and Vehicle

· * Clean Driving Record

· * Proof of Auto Insurance

· * Proof of Covid Vaccination

· * Cell Phone (with texting)

· * Internet and Email Access

· * Three 12-hour shifts per month

· * Attend Mandatory Continuing Education

· * Meeting on the second Tuesday of each month

“TIP Volunteers are called by law enforcement and medical and hospital personnel to respond to scenes of sudden or unexpected death, industrial accidents, sexual assaults, overdoses, violent crimes and other traumatic incidents,” says Grant. “Volunteers on duty are dispatched through the 911 system or hospital ER staff. Our volunteers support nine communities, Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Scarborough, Falmouth, Gorham, Windham and Cumberland. When you are on call, you may have to travel to one of these towns or Maine Medical Center.”

TIP’s specially trained volunteers provide emotional first aid and practical support to survivors of traumatic events and their families in the first few hours following a tragedy. Trained, skilled TIP responders are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

They are often called upon by police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and hospital personnel to assist family members and friends following a natural or unexpected death; survivors of violent crime including rape, assault, robbery, or burglary; survivors of fire; disoriented or lonely elderly persons; people involved in motor vehicle accidents; people who are distraught and seeking immediate support; and those whose loved one has died by suicide or overdose.

A major reason for the TIP Program is to prevent what mental health professionals call the “Second Injury.” The Second Injury is a survivor’s perspective that the emergency system did not provide the support needed after a tragic event. Emergency personnel simply do not have the time to provide this support.

In Greater Portland, they call TIP Volunteers who can prevent a second injury. In parts of the county which do not have a TIP Program, second injuries reported by survivors are common.

Three Examples of Second Injuries
An elderly gentleman, whose wife was hit and killed in a crosswalk, was not informed why she was left in the street for hours. To this day, the husband is still angry at “the system.”
After a young man killed himself, his family was left to clean the bloody scene on their own. To this day, they wonder “why didn’t anyone help us with this awful task?”
After a mother of four died in an emergency department, her family felt pressed by busy hospital staff into choosing a mortuary. To this day, the family regrets the hurried decision they made.

These are just a sample of the terrible things that can happen to survivors in the aftermath of a tragic event. One of TIP’s main goals is to help prevent these second injuries from happening. TIP volunteers are trained to step in to work with staff and responders. For example, survivors are given information as to how to contact crime scene cleanup companies and other community services. TIP volunteers also help protect survivors against well-meaning friends who mistakenly say the wrong things.<