April 19, 2019

Sen. Diamond introduces bill to support investigative workers

AUGUSTA — A bill introduced by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, to support employees of the Maine State Police Crime Lab and Computer Crimes Unit, had a hearing Wednesday before the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee. LD 1355 “An Act To Expand the 1998 Special Retirement Plan To Include Civilian Employees Who Work for the Department of Public Safety Crime Lab and Computer Crimes Unit” would allow these civilian employees to be included in the 1998 Special Retirement Plan.

“The work done by the dedicated civilian professionals in the Computer Crimes Unit and Crime Lab is incredibly difficult and incredibly important,” said Sen. Diamond. “They deal with some of the most horrific crimes, including child pornography, abuse and murder. This work takes a heavy toll, and no one should be expected to do it for more than 25 years.”

The 1998 Special Retirement plan was established by the Legislature in an effort to provide more uniform service retirement benefits to law enforcement officers. Those covered by the plan are generally able to retire after 25 years of service.

https://www.egcu.orgThe Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit assists law enforcement officers and prosecutors in Maine with the investigation and prosecution of crimes in which a computer is used as an instrument in committing or assisting in the commission of a crime, or in which the computer is a target of a criminal act.

The Maine State Police Crime Lab is an accredited crime laboratory that adheres to international
standards for laboratory accreditation and assists all law enforcement agencies operating in the state. The lab compares evidence collected from crime scenes, victims and suspects to known samples to link or eliminate victims or suspects to the crime scene or to each other.

Several employees of the Crime Lab and Computer Crime Unit testified about the mental toll that their work takes. 

“As analysts we are exposed to the most heinous crimes, those against little children,” said Andrea Donovan, of Chelsea, who works in the Computer Crime Lab. “This causes vicarious trauma amongst our analysts and we have all, at one time or another when working on a difficult case, experienced feelings of anger, disgust, despair, fatigue and being overwhelmed by the amount of violence and child pornography that is involved in a particular case.”

LD 1355 faces further action in the Labor and Housing Committee, as well as votes on the floor of the Maine House and Senate.

National Endowment for the Humanities grant funds sustainability education at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

The $34,995 grant supports the “Education for Sustainability through the Humanities Project” which will develop and implement educational programming that helps formulate how to build sustainable human communities and solve global problems.

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine Associate Professor and NEH grant Project Director Dale Brooker in his office. Photo: Evan Loignon.
The National Endowment for the Humanities named Saint Joseph’s College of Maine as one of 233 grant recipients nationwide who have been awarded, collectively, $28.6 million in grants. The College’s “Education for Sustainability through the Humanities” (ESTH) Project will develop and implement interdisciplinary and humanities-based curriculum, professional development workshops, and partnerships that will help society understand how to build sustainable human communities.
 “Saint Joseph’s College has provided generations of students with a high-quality liberal arts education to prepare them for successful careers and inspire them to give back to their communities. 

http://mulberryfarmsmaine.com/By supporting efforts to incorporate sustainability education in its curriculum, this funding will help the College build on its record of giving students the foundation they need to confront pressing challenges and become better citizens,” said Senators Collins and King and Representative Pingree in a joint statement.

Vice President & Chief Learning Officer Michael Pardales said, “Saint Joseph’s College has pivoted toward a greater focus on challenging students to explore what it means to cultivate a sustainable society that supports healthy systems in all domains. Following the Sisters of Mercy tradition and our mission rooted in Catholic social teaching, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine’s broader approach to sustainability includes not only the natural environment and ecological systems, but also human health, justice systems, economic systems, and secure livelihoods for future generations. The proposed ESTH Project advances this broad notion of ‘sustainability education.’”

Saint Joseph’s College’s Director of Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Dale Brooker(who will serve as the NEH grant project director) said, “The Education for Sustainability Through the Humanities Project seeks to prepare our students with the critical and analytical thinking skills necessary to solve the emerging global challenges and opportunities in our complex, modern world. We are grateful for the support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and look forward to implementing these initiatives.”

As Project Director, Brooker will lead an interdisciplinary team of faculty, staff, and community partners who will implement the project.

High school students receive trophies at career conference

By Lanet Hane

A group of seven Windham High School students attended the JMG Career Development Conference at Thomas College and took home two trophies last month. The conference was the largest one ever hosted by JMG, with more than 650 students participating from all over the state.

Left to right: Jennifer Williamson, Ashley Virgin, Aisha Nelson, Danielle Gaudin, Payton Hutchinson, Cecil Ramsey, and Jayden Gonsalves
JMG offers a continuum of support to help students transition from middle school through high school graduation, onto post-secondary education through degree attainment and connections to successful career pathways. 

Windham has had a JMG course offering in the high school for a number of years and is also piloting a middle school program this year. The conference is specifically designed as an opportunity for High School students in JMG programs to showcase the skills they have been working on in class each day.

A number of categories of competition take place, focused on real life application of skills, including an entrepreneur category that required students to create an app. Jayden Gonzalez and Cecil Ramsey participated in this section, placing in the Top 5 teams.

“I am exceedingly proud of my students,” says Jen Dumont, JMG Specialist with Windham High School, “This conference gives kids the opportunity to be on a college campus, showcase their ability to be responsible and professional, and show what they are capable of. I am so very happy with the way my students represented our school.”

Jen Williamson, who received high scores for her College Admission Interview, agreed that the conference “was a pretty great opportunity”. She is one of several students planning to continue with the JMG program next year and is eager to win a trophy in the category in the future.

Danielle Gaudin, Aisha Nelson, and Ashley Virgin took first place in the decision-making category, and Danielle Gaudin also took 2nd place in the Employee Interview Skills Category. The team also received high scores for the Team Challenge.

Veterans celebrate district winners and teacher of the year

Windham Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) recently celebrated their district winners for the Patriot’s Pen, Voice of Democracy and Teacher of the Year contests with a banquet held at the Portland VFW. The outstanding winners are pictured above with Commander Willie
Goodman and members of the Windham VFW along with Portland’s VFW. Pictured left to right are Emily Stokes, Alexander Potter, Sam Williams and Rose Hagerstrom.

Bill to support veterans’ organization was signed into law by Governor Mills

Local veterans with Governor Mills and Rep. Bryant
A bill sponsored by Rep. Mark Bryant was signed into law last Friday, April 12. With the support and help from Senator Diamond, Rep. Corey and Rep. Ordway – the delegation worked together on LD 131 to help veterans’ organizations succeed in their fundraising efforts.

These organization are now exempt from obtaining a commercial beano hall permit when renting out facilities to organizations already registered to conduct beano or bingo games.

The amendment clarifies that a charitable, educational, political, civic, recreational, fraternal, patriotic, 24 religious or veterans’ organization that seeks to obtain a registration to conduct "beano" or 25 "bingo" must be a bona fide nonprofit organization.   

In a previous press release, Rep. Bryant explained the importance of this amendment.  “Veterans organizations are able to organize events and support charitable causes by hosting fundraising events throughout the year. Beano or bingo games are a major way that these organizations are able to meet their fundraising goals,” Bryant stated at the public hearing regarding this bill. “Requiring veterans’ organizations to pay both a fee to conduct beano events and a fee to host beano events is redundant and this redundancy takes away from their core mission to support Maine veterans, their families and the local community.”

Many veterans’ organizations rely on beano games in order to fundraise for charities and local events commemorating Memorial Day and Veterans Day. This bill would allow these groups to maximize their funds for their charitable, community-building work.

Thanks to Bryant, Diamond, Corey and Ordway – veterans’ organizations can now work towards their core mission with more ease.

Speak Out continues with new host, Rep. Patrick Corey: Topic of discussion on gas and road tax

By Lorraine Glowczak

Next Thursday’s Speak Out, on April 25 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., will garner a new host, Rep. Patrick Corey, who has replaced former host of 29 years, Sen. Bill Diamond. Corey has invited special guests to address the topic of gas and road tax.

The meeting will take place in the Town Hall Council Chambers, 8 School Road and will be on live video, Facebook Live and on the Town of Windham’s website. Everyone is invited to attend live or on social media. All responses, inquires and questions will be addressed.

Along with Corey, this coming Speak Out will include the following invited guests:

Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner: Bruce Van Note
State House Chair of the Transportation Committee: Andrew McLain
A member of the House who is a sponsor of a bill on this subject and is a former Director of Windham Public Works Department: Thomas Martin of Greene, Maine.

“There is a $100,000  shortage in Maine to update bridges, roads, infrastructure repairs, etc.,” explained Corey. “We continue to borrow money for the upkeep of Maine roads. This is not sustainable. The topic of discussion next week will include how we can maintain quality roads and address the shortfall we face on an annual basis.”
The public will get an opportunity to listen and respond, not only on this subject but other topics they
deem important in the future. “I invite anyone to reach out to me who has a subject they like to see discussed on Speak Out,” Corey said, following in the steps of his predecessor. “All they need to do is call or email me with an idea and I will do my best to honor their requests.” Corey added.

Corey admitted that his new role as the host of Speak Out intimidates him slightly as he highly admires Diamond’s approach. But, according to Diamond, Corey should not be concerned.

“I am completely confident in Patrick's abilities to host this show,” Diamond explained. “He does his homework – researching the topic at hand, and as a result, Patrick is very competent to fill the role in Speak Out. I trust his ability to take on this position.”

The only advice Diamond had for Corey is: “Listen to and focus in on the guests.”

As Diamond hands the microphone over to Corey he would like to thank the Representative for taking over an important position that Windham residents have relied on for the past 29 years as it provides up-to-date and vital information regarding public policies and other issues as it relates to the community.

http://www.hallimplementco.com/Diamond would also like to state his gratitude to David (producer of the show with Diamond who recently retired) as well as to David’s daughters, Hannah and Maura. “And I can’t forget Raelene Loura, who is a life-long Windham resident and has co-hosted with me.”

As far as a co-host with Corey. The mystery remains.  But in terms of any secrecy and obscurity regarding public policy issues facing Windham – there will be none. It will be discussed in a civil and
forth-right manner the fourth Wednesday of every month.

For more information or to contact Rep. Patrick Corey on Speak Out topic ideas, he can be reached by phone at 207-749-1336 or by email at patrick@patrickcorey.com

April 12, 2019

RTT celebrates volunteers during National Volunteer Week

The week of April 7 to 13 marked National Volunteer Week and Riding To The Top (RTT) has a lot to celebrate this year! According to Volunteer Maine, the average adult volunteer in Maine spends 37 hours serving through local programs.

In 2018, a record number of RTT’s volunteers volunteered 100 hours or more and have been recognized at the state and national level.  RTT Volunteer Coordinator, Nick Doria stated, “In 2018,164 volunteers contributed nearly 11,000 hours of service in support of lessons, horse care, barn chores, office help and special events. Also, in 2018, RTT surpassed the 100,000-hour mark for volunteer hours since we began tracking these hours in 2000. RTT would not be where we are today without the generous support of our volunteers!”.

Five RTT volunteers were named to The Maine Volunteer Roll of Honor for their service (50 hours or more for youth and 500 or more hours for adults in the previous 12 months) including: Lina Jordan, Dan Morabito, Pat Niboli, Clayton Peters and Patty Shaw.

https://www.lpapplianceme.com/The President’s Volunteer Service Award “recognizes, celebrates and holds up as role models Americans making a positive impact as engaged and deeply committed volunteers” (psa.gov). This year 24 individuals received this award including:

·         Bronze Level (100-249 hours): Christine Blackadar, Jo Blinick , Earle Bonney, Cindy Elder, Emma Evans, Trish Friant, Tony Girlando, Fran Maxwell, Nancy Robinson, Stacie Hamilton
Waldron and Elizabeth Wood
·         Silver Level (250-499 hours) Janis Childs, Barbara Foster, Mark Fuller, Jodi Peasley, Bryony Urquhart and Trish Vaughan
·         Gold Level (Young Adult -250 hours*/Adult 500 or more hours) Julia Hamilton, Lina Jordan*, Sarah Miller, Dan Morabito, Pat Niboli, Clayton Peters and Patty Shaw.

Executive Director, Sarah Bronson stated, “At RTT volunteers contribute time, talent and skills – all of which decrease our costs and increase our capacity to serve more children and adults with disabilities.” Bronson went on to add, “Riding To The Top would have to hire more than five full time staff to replace the work that volunteers contributed last year.” Riding To The Top will distribute certificates and pins during its annual Volunteer Appreciation event in June.