December 3, 2021

In the public eye: Sally Bannen takes pride in work for Windham Public Library

Sally Bannen, Technical Services Librarian at the Windham
Public Library, always looks forward to going to work every
day and says her favorite part of her job is helping patrons 
and connecting with the community. 
PHOTO BY LORRAINE GLOWCZAK  
By Lorraine Glowczak

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


Technical Services Librarian, Sally Bannen has worn many hats since she began working at the Windham Public Library (WPL) 27 years ago. She began her career at WPL as a volunteer but when offered a full-time job, she accepted.

“Inese Gruber became Director of the Windham Public Library in 1994 and she offered me the Circulation Supervisor position,” Bannen said. “This was pre-computerization so I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years.”


One of those changes was and continues to be, the advancement of technology. Through the encouragement of Gruber, Bannen pursued her Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of South Carolina and in 2004 she was promoted to her current position where she manages cataloging, organizes free weekly movie programs, provides outreach services, writes the monthly newsletter, and as she puts it, “a fair amount of silliness to keep things fun.”


What many may not know about Bannen is that she is from and currently lives in Windham, graduating from Windham High School in 1987 with a passion for art. Bannen never dreamed she would someday work in a library – let alone her hometown library.


Pursuing her love for the art world, Bannen attended Plymouth State University and received her undergraduate degree in art. After college, she worked as an assistant curator at the Southeast Asia Art Foundation in Hill, New Hampshire identifying Javanese architecture and processing photographs and slides.

“I worked there until the grant money ran out and that’s when I returned home to Windham,” Bannen said. “I started volunteering at the Portland Museum of Art and also the Windham Public Library to occupy my free time and gain experiences. What surprised me is that it turned out working at the library was a much better fit for me than the art world. I love my job and I love helping people”

Bannen and the other library staff work to help connect the community to materials and information and provide it all for free for all ages. 


“We provide free programs that inspire imagination and social interaction and have devices that allow free access to the internet and a printer as well as platforms that provide free digital entertainment and research - and the librarians to assist you with navigating all of those things,” Bannen said. “The most challenging part of the job, for me, is keeping up with the technical changes that affect our services. When there is an upgrade in technology, we have to relearn the upgrade as well.”


Bannen said that she and the rest of the librarians are happy to help patrons with their new computers, ipads, and other personal devices and are happy to answer questions people may have about programs such as Excel, etc. The WPL offers a weekly Tech Help every Wednesday from 3 to 5 pm. “The library is more than just about books,” Bannen said.

Bannen loves her role as a Technical Services Librarian for many reasons but there was one special thing that brings her the most joy. “Hands down, my favorite part about my job is helping our patrons and the community. It brings me so much joy.”


Growing up in Windham, Bannen said she has seen many changes at the library and the community itself over the years and looks forward to the future.


“I feel a real connection to this Library and am curious to see where we go in the years to come,” she said. “The library is celebrating its 50th anniversary over the coming months and I'm proud when I look back at all that this institution has done. Librarians, volunteers, community leaders... they've all had a part.” 


When Bannen is not working, you will find her at home with Tom, her husband of 26 years spending time with online gaming and traveling whenever she can, including many trips to Scotland where relatives of her husband once lived. 


Other than traveling, online gaming, and spending time with family and friends – there is one other place she always longs to be. “I’m just one of those lucky people who really enjoy my job. I wake up every morning excited about going to work. There is always something new happening and so many new people to meet. I love my hometown library. I really encourage folks to come to the library or check out our website to see what we offer if you haven't done so in recent years: www.windham.lib.me.us.” <

'Senior Santa Program' brings Christmas cheer for older residents

Time is running out to participate in the 'Senior Santa Program'
administered by Home Instead of Gorham. The deadline is Dec. 6
to choose ornaments and drop-off gifts for seniors at Chutes
Restaurant or the Blue Seal Feed Store in Windham. The gifts
will be delivered later this month in Windham and Raymond.
COURTESY PHOTO  
By Ed Pierce

The good thing about Santa Claus is that no matter what age you are, he can make Christmas wishes become a reality. And once again this year, Santa’s helpers at Home Instead of Gorham are preparing to bring smiles and a dash of Christmas cheer to senior residents of Windham and Raymond.

Through the generous support of the community, local businesses and volunteers, Home Instead’s “Senior Santa Program” has organized “Be A Santa To A Senior” Christmas trees at participating locations which runs through Monday, Dec. 6. The special trees are decorated with ornaments which are handmade by local Girl Scouts and feature seniors’ first names and gift suggestions and requests.

Participants select an ornament to keep, then they purchase the requested presents and return them unwrapped in a holiday gift bag to the tree’s location with the ornament tag attached. Local “Be A Santa To A Senior” tree locations include Chute’s Restaurant, 686 Roosevelt Trail in Windham and at Blue Seal Feeds, 43 Main St. in South Windham.

For those who cannot find an ornament, donated items can also be dropped off at the tree locations and program organizers say that some gifts are always needed by local seniors. Those items include knitted or crochet hat and scarves; plush throws; body cream for dry or sensitive skin; men’s and women’s hats and gloves; snacks both sugar and sugar-free; calendars; puzzle books; stationary; stamps; grocery gift certificates; and tissue paper and large sturdy Christmas bags.

Kathy Damon, a home care consultant for Home Instead, said that the “Senior Santa Program” served 575 seniors in Cumberland County a year ago and works with many different nonprofits and agencies serving seniors to develop a list of gifts to be given to those in need.

Damon said that here in Windham, volunteers will pair up with Windham Police Department officers to deliver the gifts in the coming weeks.

“For some seniors receiving the gifts they have very modest requests, and the best part of doing this comes when the gifts are delivered to them,” Damon said. “They are just so appreciative and grateful.”

According to Damon, in 2020 the community’s response to the “Senior Santa Program” was astounding and she expects that support will continue this year too.

“People who do this seem to be over-the-top generous,” she said. It’s just so overwhelming in such a positive way. We’ve had people taking two, three or four ornaments at a time.”

In developing the list of seniors who will receive gifts, Damon said many of the recipients do not have families or are financially strapped. She said gift requests typically range from meals to a warm pair of socks to winter coat and boots and the “Senior Santa Program” does its best to make sure their gift requests are achieved.

The program is open to all seniors in Cumberland County, although they need to be referred through an agency such as Windham’s Ledgewood Manor.

Managing the logistics of trying to deliver so many requested gifts to so many seniors is a challenge, but one that Damon said that Home Instead staff members and volunteers welcome every Christmas.

“It’s very heartwarming to know this program is so well received in the community,” she said. I think everyone should take away from this and realize that there are seniors who can be overlooked at this time of year,” she said. “It can be very lonely for people. This program sends the message that there are people in the community who care about them and want to make their holidays brighter.”

Damon said the “Senior Santa Program” connects some isolated seniors with friends and neighbors who want them to know they are not forgotten during the holiday season.

“I think everyone should take away from this and realize that there are seniors who can be overlooked at this time of year,” she said. “It can be very lonely for people. This program sends the message that there are people in the community who care about them and want to make their holidays brighter.”

For more information about the program, visit BeaSantatoaSenior.com or call 207-839-0441. <

New Christmas production a fun way to enjoy holidays at Schoolhouse Arts Center

A new winter production debuts at Schoolhouse Arts Center
in Standish on Friday, Dec. 3 and is called 'Laughing All the
Way.' Playwright Brian Daly composed four original songs 
for the production and also appears in the play.
PHOTOI BY EMMA BENNETT  
By Emma Bennett

Special to The Windham Eagle

The new winter production being staged at Schoolhouse Arts in Standish is called Laughing All the Way!” and it’s a musical for the whole family to see. In this one, Santa takes us back in time to Christmas Eve, the night he almost had a close call with the Christmas-crazy Wassail family, an unexpected run-in with a greedy pickpocket, and a bound Christmas Angel who was just trying to do her job.

“Laughing All the Way'' is an original play by playwright Brian Daly, an actor in the show, who plays Baby Rudolph, the youngest of the Wassails. This is the first time this play has been brought to the stage! The play consists of around sixteen musical numbers, twelve of which are old favorites such as “Jingle Bells” and “Here Comes Santa Claus”, and four of which are original songs written by Brian Daly, himself.

“Laughing All The Way!” debuts at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3 at the Schoolhouse Arts Center, 16 Richville Road in Standish, with performances continuing at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec, 5; 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10; 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12. Tickets can be purchased online at www.schoolhousearts.org

“I love Christmas music, so I thought it would be fun to write a show that had Christmas music as the score,” Daly said.

Greg Pomeroy who plays the role of Santa Claus said, “It's fun having the playwright in the cast and watching his reaction as we bring his words to live theater,” said Greg Pomeroy who plays the role of Santa Claus.

Daly enjoys writing children’s books, screenplays, musicals, and plays. He has already signed a contract for one of his novels coming out soon and a play being produced and published.

Daly, after a production of one of his other shows two years ago, originally asked Director, Zac Stearn, whether he would be interested in producing this show at Schoolhouse and it had been agreed and decided upon. As COVID hit and put a damper on all theaters in the area, the show held off for a while.

But as 2021 came around, Stearn called him back and suggested they continue what they started. “It's the perfect time, right? Everyone's going to want to feel good because a lot of people missed Christmas last year," Stearn says. “This year, we want to find a safe way for everyone to enjoy Christmas together.”

Stearn took the time to talk about some of his most memorable experiences on this theatrical journey and some of the challenges posed on his team in the past eight weeks of production.

“Every show that I've directed is a process, right? You always see the beginning and it's very clunky,” Stearn said. “That's the word I use a lot. It's very clunky and very wonky. But then you hit a certain moment where the cast begins supporting one another and then everything just clicks.”.

Stearn also mentioned that the show had originally been written for a cast of nine people. As there are 44 with 23 under the age of 15 with ages ranging up to the 70s in this production, there were challenges in modifying the script.

Brian Daly had to rewrite some of the script to accommodate the number of people in the show. Some scenes that weren’t in the original copy were added to the script. Everyone who auditioned got casted, because they wanted as many people as possible to experience the joy of performing on stage.

The entire cast of 44 has had a splendid time, not only making the most of every minute spent on stage, but spending time with friends and family members, a large number of which are in the cast performing together.

First-timer 7-year-old Bailey Labon said, “I haven't had much experience, but I do like making a lot of new friends.”

Elise Pierson, 9, said “I love seeing how the show all comes together.”

Other young actors and actresses in the show agree that a considerable part of their memorable moments have been spent both onstage and backstage hanging with long-time friends and making new ones as well.

Some notable individuals who’ve contributed to the show’s theatrical magic and pizazz behind the scenes include Ellen Stanley, stage manager; Diane Hancock, musical director; and Emma Tompkins, choreographer. Ellen Stanley was responsible for communications, scheduling, conflicts, and running the stage crew for set changes between scenes. Diane Hancock handled music rehearsals and making sure each individual sounded top-notch.

Emma Tompkins was responsible for movement on the stage and working partially as an assistant to every other task that needed to be completed. A few years ago, she had also choreographed one of Brian Daly’s previous shows, “Come Out Swinging”.

Tech week seemed a tumultuous time for both cast and crew members as they rushed to get light cues, sound cues, and set changes down to a tee for the coming weekend of opening shows. Long nights were spent just to get lights and sounds programmed for the next few days of rehearsals, getting the lights to coordinate with sound and the bodies moving on the stage. Within only a few days of run-throughs, everything seemed to fall into place. The stage teemed with an energy that sent chills down a spine.

A musical two years in the works, the cast is thrilled to make Daly’s words finally come to life.

As opening night approaches, one last word of warning is necessary: Watch out for snowballs! <

Family seeks identity of World War II soldiers in photos

A family from Maine seeks to learn the identity of soldiers
depicted in photos taken during World War II that were
discovered in a lost cache of photo negatives found when
their father died in 2014. They hope to share the images
with families of those in the photos. COURTESY PHOTO
By Ed Pierce

The identity of soldiers in a recently discovered cache of photographs taken by a U.S. Army veteran from Maine continues to elude his children who are looking to connect names with the images.

Richard Perkins of Maine passed away at the age of 92 in 2014 and he left behind a treasure trove of hundreds of photos he took while stationed in Hawaii with the U.S. Army in the early days of World War II.

Trained as a radio operator, Perkins was stationed at Fort Shafter in Honolulu, and he worked at an underground base inside of Diamond Head there. According to his family, except for a few stories, Perkins seldom talked about his military service or his time in Hawaii with his relatives.

Fort Shafter has served as the home of the senior Army headquarters in Hawaii for more than a century. Construction began in 1905 on the former Hawaiian crown lands that were ceded to the United States government after its annexation. When the post opened in 1907, it was named for Major General William Rufus Shafter, who led the United States expedition to Cuba in 1898. It’s estimated that hundreds of soldiers from Maine passed through Fort Shafter or were stationed there during World War II.

In cleaning out his home after he died, Perkins’ daughter, Alice Smith, and his son Dana Perkins, found a large tin container under his stairs containing rolls of film negatives that had been developed, but not turned into photographs.

A few years after their discovery, Dana Perkins scanned each of the negatives into his computer and he then printed up hundreds of never-before-seen photographs of World War II taken by his late father.

The images show many different people and locations in Hawaii including military members serving in the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps, along with civilian USO performers, and Hawaiian residents and local children who lived in the area surrounding the U.S. Army base at Fort Shafter.

Trying to identify the individuals their father captured on film has proven to be a significant challenge for Alice Smith and Dana Perkins though.   

They have spent the past few years attempting to learn as much as they possibly could about the people and locations in the photographs. Along the way, they have received a generous amount of assistance from Milton Migita, a curator at the U.S. Army Museum in Hawaii, and also they have been helped by the general public, who have either heard about their story through media accounts or through a number of online groups pertaining to World War II and other social media posts and stepped forward to identify some of the people in the photos.

Dana Perkins said that each of the photographic images that were discovered in Maine are now available for review by the public as he compiled them into a book that is posted online. He said the original negatives, images, and three different photo albums have been donated to the U.S. Army Museum and the National Park Service in Hawaii.

Many of the people and faces in the photographs remain to be identified and it is the goal of Alice Smith and Dana Perkins that someone in Maine will recognize their father, grandfather, uncle, mother, grandmother, aunt, or some other friend or relative in the photos and the family of veterans in the photos can share the image of their loved one.

The photos can be viewed online at: www.WW2PacificVeteransProject.org

Should you recognize anyone in the photographs after viewing them, please contact Alice Smith or Dana Perkins through the WW2 Pacific Veterans website, or by writing to them at: World War 2 Pacific Veterans Project, PO Box 789, Biddeford, ME 04005 or by email at info@ww2pacificveteransproject.org <

Ways to give abundant this season in Sebago Lakes Region

By Ed Pierce

Every year during the holidays, each of us are given many options to practice generosity and this year is no exception. Right here in the Sebago Lakes Region, Salvation Army bellringers are stationed outside Walmart, while many churches have special collections for charities and other causes. 

There are toy drives, food drives, bottle drives and a bevy of initiatives locally that benefit all aspects of the community. Whether it be sponsoring a family for Christmas through the “Adopt-A-Family Program” offered by The Windham Eagle and the Windham Maine Community Board or writing a check to Windham’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors heat homes of residents lacking heating fuel, there’s certainly no shortage of available opportunities to be generous this Christmas in Windham and Raymond.

Here’s a quick rundown of current agencies seeking help locally this year:   

** Food donations may be made to the Raymond Food Pantry at Lake Region Baptist Church, 1273 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond or by calling the church at 207-655-4334. Donations may also be made to the Windham Food Pantry, 8 School Road, Windham.  The Windham Lions Club is asking for help to Stuff a Bus with food from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Hannaford Supermarket in Windham. Food donations to help homeless veterans can be brought to the Windham Veterans Center, 35 Veterans Memorial Drive, behind Hannaford from 9 to 11 a.m. every Wednesday.

** Raymond Scout Troop 800 is having a Bottle drive from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday Dec.  11 at the Raymond Village Community Church.  For bottle pick-up text 207-513-8570.  

**The Holiday Community Toy Drive to benefit The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center is underway at the following area businesses – Automotive Everything; Sebago Outfitters; CafĂ© Sebago; Sticky Bud Farms; Skin Medical Aesthetics; Forever Two Wheels; Windham Powersports; and Erik’s Church. The rules for that effort ask for new items in original packaging for children in categories such as arts and crafts; infant and baby toys and supplies; toys for toddlers and preschoolers; school-aged children’s toys; toiletries for children; and miscellaneous gifts for children.

** The U.S. Marines’ Toy for Tots drop-off locations are at Planet Fitness, 759 Roosevelt Trail, Windham and Sticky Bud Farms at 815 Roosevelt Trail, Unit 4, in Windham. The final day to donate toys to the program for distribution is Tuesday, Dec. 7. Financial donations are always welcome at www.toysfortots.org

** Windham Middle School has complied a wish list for families of students who need help this Christmas. For details or to help, send an email to Debby Rand Hall at dhall@rsu14.org  Each front office of all the RSU 14 schools has a Christmas wish list available for students and families in need and can be reached at Windham High School 892-1810; Windham Middle School 892-1820; Windham Primary School 892-1840; Manchester School 892-1830; Raymond Elementary School 655-8672; and Jordan-Small Middle School 655-4743.

** The deadline to drop off gifts for the Adopt-A-Family Program is Friday, Dec. 10. Gifts can be taken to Time4Printing at 588 Roosevelt Trail, Windham. <       


Bryant says federal infrastructure bill good for Maine

State Rep. Mark Bryant
AUGUSTA – State Rep. Mark Bryant, D-Windham, has released a statement on the federal, bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that was signed into law last month and says the funding will be of significant benefit to Mainers.

“This new federal legislation, coupled with historic investments the Maine Legislature passed this session, will finally allow us to bridge the gap between our state’s transportation needs and our funding capacity,” said Bryant. “Having served on the Legislature’s Transportation Committee for seven years, I have felt the frustration of this unmet need for too long. In a state as geographically big and rural as ours, the safety and smooth operation of our infrastructure is critical to every Mainer’s well-being.”

According to Bryant, in Maine the bipartisan bill will provide an estimated:

** $1.3 billion in highway and bridge program formula funding through Fiscal Year 2026, including $50 million in additional federal formula funding (representing a 25 percent increase) in the first year

** $225 million in dedicated bridge funding through Fiscal Year 2026

** $19 million across five years to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure

** $241 million over five years to improve public transportation options

** $74 million over five years to improve infrastructure at airports

** At least $100 million to expand high-speed broadband services across the state.

Bryant represents House District 24, part of Windham, and serves on the Maine House’s Transportation Committee and the State and Local Government Committee. <

November 24, 2021

RSU 14 takes option on Windham Center Road site

The RSU 14 Board of Directors have entered into an option
agreement with the owner of the property  at 61 Windham
Center Road as a possible new middle school site. Under the
agreement, the owner agrees to take the property off the
market for a period of up to two years. The cost of the option
is $110,000 for the first year and a second-year extension of
$10,000 per month with payments applied to a purchase
price if chosen. The site is one of many being considered 
for the district's new middle school, which is expected to be
built and open by the start of the 2026 school year.
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE  
By Ed Pierce

Exploring all possible options of where to locate a new middle school, the RSU 14 Board of Directors have entered into an option agreement with the property owner of 61 Windham Center Road in Windham. By entering into the agreement, the owner is agreeing to take the property off the market for a period of up to two years.

According to RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools Christopher Howell, the cost of the option is $110,000 in the first year and if the board votes to move forward with a purchase of the property, $100,000 of the payment would be applied to the purchase price.

“The option to extend in the second year is $10,000 per month. None of the funds from the second year would be applied at closing,” Howell said. “Again, the agreement is an option to purchase and not an outright purchase. By entering into this agreement, the owner is agreeing to take a very valuable piece of property off the real estate market.”

He that the property at 61 Windham Center is just one of the properties that is being considered for use by the school district for the new school.

“We are still in the process of looking at all 35-acre plus sites in the district,” Howell said. “The district chose to do an option on this particular property because it is the only property of this size that is on the market in Windham. We have not been approached by any other landowners in Windham about potentially using their property.”

Earlier this month, the Town of Raymond officially offered to donate up to 45 acres of land at 77 Patricia Ave. in Raymond for the site of the new middle school to be built by RSU 14, contingent upon the school district’s approval of the location for the middle school construction. 
 
Howell said the site on Patricia Ave in Raymond will be considered as part of the site selection process for the new school.

“It will take a couple of months to work through the site selection matrix to narrow down all possible places where a building can be sited. About 132 possible 35 plus acres sites have been identified for review,” he said. “Each will need to be examined to determine whether or not it should be a site to look at. Some will be quickly eliminated due to location or if they have been placed into trust or conservation. It will be some time before there will be additional decisions will need to be made. Most of the work will be taking place behind the scenes.”
Once the number of potential school sites has been narrowed by the project architect and civil engineers, the top few sites from that process will be sent to a community straw poll in 2022, Howell said.

“A final site will be recommended by the RSU 14 Board of Directors next year,” he said.

The RSU 14 board will use the straw poll and input from the project architect and civil engineer to recommend a site for purchase to the State Board of Education. The state will reimburse the school district for the site purchase and the reimbursement will be based on the average of two appraisals on the property.

The original Windham Middle School was built in 1977 and intended for a capacity of 483 students. That number has grown in the last year to 636 students, with sixth graders being housed for some classes at the adjacent Field Allen School, originally constructed in 1949.

In September, Raymond selectmen were told that the state has asked if Raymond would join Windham in sending students to the new school. Should the town not choose to do this, it is unlikely that the state would approve new middle school construction for Raymond in the future to replace Jordan-Small Middle School, which has 192 students and was originally built in 1960.

The Raymond Select Board offered the Patricia Avenue site to the school district so Raymond students could attend the new school, but Howell said that even if the new school is built in Windham there are no current plans to close Jordan-Small Middle School.

He said the district will continue to support Jordan-Small renovation work as part of its ongoing budgeting process

The new middle school is expected to be ready by the start of the 2026-2027 school year, Howell said. <