January 13, 2017

Plummer joins The Windham Eagle team By Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Eagle is happy to introduce and welcome new team member, Gayle Plummer, who fills the newly created position of copy editor. Beginning January 9th, Plummer joined the Eagle team to share her keen sense for correct grammar and spelling, assisting the newspaper with its ever evolving goal to improve upon its quality.

Plummer, once a legal administrative assistant, worked over ten years report writing for a forensic investigator. She then moved on to the medical field where she was an assistant to a hospital vice president, spending a majority of her time updating important policies and procedures. In both of these work settings, Plummer gained her love and experience for the error free and grammatically correct sentence.

After living in Harrison for 30 years, Plummer and her husband moved to Raymond twelve years ago, to a home they built, based upon a sketch she and her husband drew on a napkin over 30 years ago. Her home is one of her favorite places to relax. That, and Campobello Island. “I have been going there for years.” Plummer said.

When Plummer is not perfecting the written word, you can find her knitting socks, afghans, scarves and mittens. “Knitting is my therapy,” Plummer stated.

Gardening is also a joy of hers. “I never met a flower I didn’t love,” she began. “Perennials, annuals, invasive – I don’t care, I love them all! The only exception to that is the everlasting, in-your-face weed. I typically have to have one of everything each nursery has to offer.”

Besides her husband John, Plummer has a daughter, a son and four grandsons.

Please join The Windham Eagle in welcoming our newest team member.

Windham avoids snow plow drivers’ shortage By Stephen Signor

While the Maine Department of Transportation’s shortage of plow truck drivers is making headlines, the Town of Windham is holding its own and flying under the radar. The comparison may be one sided on many levels, but the logistics are the same and not without its own potential barriers. Yet, these potential obstacles have eluded public transportation director Doug Fortier.

“Right now we are fully staffed having hired a new driver in December and one more just recently,” shared Fortier. With a higher starting hourly wage of $16.92 per hour compared to MDOT’s $13.50 an hour, snow plow drivers of course are motivated to apply and encouraged to remain.

“Most of the crew members have been here five or six years and there is one who is in his 36th year,” added Fortier, who is in his 13th budget year with the town.

However, maintaining drivers goes a lot deeper than offering a high wage. It is a concerted effort that relies upon the involvement of the towns’ government structure.  Driver frustration from the lack of materials to perform their duties can certainly be a deterrent.  

“We have a very supportive town council and manager that understand the logistics associated with running a smooth operation along with the importance of providing continuous financial support through the Energy and Weather Emergency Fund,” said Fortier. It’s this kind of communication that eventually trickles down to the driver level making their job a little less challenging.

What also attributes to maintaining and acquiring drivers is that a CDL (Commercial Driving License) is not required for vehicles weighing less than 24,000 pounds. Unlike the MDOT, a portion of the plowing is done on public easement roads and parking lots so this can be accomplished with smaller trucks where no CDL is required.

But all said and done, Fortier still owes the town’s success at keeping the winter roads as safe as possible, during times that can often be extremely challenging, to his reliable and fully staffed team of experienced and dedicated drivers. With due accolades he boasted, “ In the end it is the drivers that make the real difference. I may be the director sitting behind the desk but these guys are always out there no matter what.”

When asked if there was an established pool of back-up drivers in the event of an unseen shortage, Fortier laughed and replied, “Yes. Me. We have no bench, everyone is on the field.”

January 6, 2017

The Plaza is coming to North Windham By Stephen Signor

For many years the Lippman name has been synonymous, among other things, with developing business opportunities in North Windham. That tradition continues with what began as an idea 3 years ago and will soon come to fruition. This past August an application was filed for developing property owned by Martin Lippman. Since then the process has been slow and not without the usual requirements as set forth by the town planning department, sometime this year a new 4,800 square foot retail/office building will be constructed at 881 Roosevelt Trail, more specifically on the lots located between the Audio 'D' & Finetone Hearing Aid Center and what was Sebago Gardens and now is Xtreme Performance. 
A micro-hotel was originally planned to occupy the space behind the former Sebago Gardens. “Before this project I wanted to put in a micro-hotel, but I couldn’t get anybody to go in on it with me,” Lippman said.  He still feels there is a need for a hotel. “I think in the future we may see another chain motel come in like a Holiday Express or Courtyard, who knows,” continued Lippman.

The Plaza, as the sign facing Route 302 will say, will be a 4,800 square foot one story building that will be the potential home for two business tenants yet to be determined. The project would share the existing entrance to the hearing aid center located at 885 Roosevelt, a property Lippman has owned for 15 years that includes three adjoining lots. In all, the Plaza will be comprised of five buildings with six businesses, which includes the hearing aid center, Xtreme Performance, a new daycare center to be located behind the hearing aid center and, last but not least, a Gritty McDuff’s that Lippman is hoping to build behind Xtreme Performance.  

When asked why the name The Plaza, he replied with a chuckle “oh, I don’t know, why not?” As to the motivation for pursuing the project, it had been something that was on the mind of Lippman and his late wife Donna Beth. “We had talked about this before Donna passed away. We had bought the property and discussed it. We had always done other things as far as putting in new businesses. My wife and I enjoy developing in Windham.” 

When Lippman and his wife came to Windham 25 years ago he owned a lot of different properties along the strip, as he refers to it. “We bought and sold and replaced those business with other businesses, all which have survived,” he said. 

The time line for completion is contingent on Maine’s winter season. “It’s too late to do anything now; you can build in the winter, but I choose not to. Come spring work will begin again putting in foundations. At that time we’ll move forward and get started again. I am anticipating by summer the new building will be completed and occupied. I have some other plans but nothing concrete we can talk about.  Right now I want to make the plaza look pretty and user friendly, just a nice addition to the town, a showcase with sidewalks, trees where people can get off the road, shop and relax,” Lippman concluded.

FMI visit the Town Planning Board website http://windhammaine.us/496/View-Applications

December 30, 2016

Windham Middle School receives Exxon Mobil grant - By Stephen Signor

During this season for giving, Windham Middle School has been chosen as the recipient of a grant given by Exxon Mobil. Each year $500 is earmarked to help schools enrich their programs, particularly targeted for science and math. Sue Jones, manager of Mr. Mikes located at 670 Roosevelt Trail was on hand Wednesday to present middle school principal Drew Patin with the check.

These grants are part of several available to schools across the country served by Exxon or Mobil stations through the ExxonMobil Educational Alliance program. It is designed to provide these retailers an opportunity to invest in the future of their communities through educational grants to neighborhood schools.

“Mobil has been doing this for years and years and years. We were fortunate enough a few years ago to get one for Manchester School. Two years ago we had one for this school and here we have another one for this school,” explained Jones who has nominated seven out of the eight years since being with Mr. Mikes. Two years ago Windham Middle School was the recipient.

With this grant Patin is exercising the option to use the funds elsewhere. “This time it is going toward the after school programs. We want to keep kids busy after school, offering them a variety of activities so there is a niche for everybody and promote the arts and sciences more, also sports and theater which are big here. These things would be more hands on for the kids,” shared Patin.

The process is rather simple.”I nominate schools in my area and Exxon Mobile makes the decision which areas are awarded. If my area is chosen that’s where it begins. They like the schools to target math and science but it can be used anyway they want,” Jones said. This year Jones’ familiarity with the middle school through her granddaughter’s attendance was the reason it was chosen. “We try to hit other schools to mix it up a little bit. We will probably target the high school as a possibility next year,” she continued.

Mill Brook Preserve provides another hiking option

WESTBROOK - Over 45 people braved frigid temperatures on Saturday, December 10, to attend a Presumpscot Regional Land Trust ribbon cutting to officially open a trail system in Mill Brook Preserve in Westbrook. The three-mile trail system is now open to the public for walking, hiking, trail running and snowshoeing. There are three trailheads, the primary trailhead is next to 789 Methodist Road at the top of the new private road, Allen Knight Road. 

The story of Mill Brook Preserve, which is owned by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, started more than two years ago when the City of Westbrook donated the first parcel of land along Mill Brook to the land trust. With the donation of other parcels since the preserve has now grown to 120 acres.

Mill Brook is about five miles long, beginning in Highland Lake and ending in the Presumpscot River. Most of those five miles, the brook winds through pristine forests all within the City of Westbrook. 

“The new trail system will for the first time open the Mill Brook valley for the public to enjoy,” said Rachelle Curran Apse, PRLT executive director. “While the trail system will be open year round, the late spring will be the high season, with the opportunity for the public to watch thousands of migratory fish swimming upstream from the ocean to Highland Lake to spawn. It truly is a spectacular sight.” 

City of Westbrook Mayor Mike Sanphy spoke at the ribbon cutting. “The Mill Brook Preserve and trail system is a highly successful collaborative initiative of the City of Westbrook, private landowners and the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust to protect and establish public access to this beautiful and incredibly valuable natural feature in our community,” he said.                        

“The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust has become an invaluable partner with the City of Westbrook in preserving and enhancing public access to natural open spaces throughout our city,” added former mayor Colleen Hilton at the event.

Toby Jacobs, the Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator for the land trust, stated, “The great news is that this Mill Brook trail opening is only phase one. Thanks to the most recent City of Westbrook donation and another private donation expected this spring, we plan to expand the trail another mile to the north next summer to reach what will be the junction of Methodist Road and Route 302. 

Volunteers have been incredible in pitching in to build this trail over the last few months, and they will again be vital in helping to extend the trail next summer.”

Creating this preserve and three-mile trail system was only possible with the support of Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s LL Bean Land Trust Grant Program, Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust, Westbrook Environmental Improvement Corporation, Maine Community Foundation’s Deering Fund, City of Westbrook Recreation & Conservation Commission, and land trust members.