December 2, 2016

Town of Raymond puts marijuana decision on hold - By Stephen Signor

Two days before Thanksgiving, Raymond Selectmen agreed to put a marijuana moratorium on hold after the question passed by just a couple hundred votes. Unlike Windham and Gray where decisions are voted on by the council, Raymond has an entirely different process. They have a government format that has to go for a vote before the town. 

“Prior to this they have to come up with language, write the moratorium language and then have a public hearing to find out what the people want to do and then have a town meeting,” stated town manager Don Willard. To this end it was discussed just how and when to proceed.

In an opening statement, Selectman Joe Bruno said, “There’s going to be a recount so it is a bit premature to start talking about this now. My sense on all this is I don’t want to see a marijuana club in Raymond; I probably don’t want to see a marijuana store in Raymond. I’m not sure that is the kind of development we want in town. I want to bring this moratorium to your attention, but I think we wait to see what the recount brings and wait and see what the state does for developing rules.”

All a moratorium does is give time (180 days) to establish an ordinance. “The time I think to do a moratorium, in my view, would be sometime in the spring to see what the rules are going to be and then set your 180 day moratorium and establish local rules. They (individuals) cannot apply for a marijuana commercial license of any kind until they have a state license and they cannot obtain a state license until the state has rules,” explained Willard.

Selectman Lawrence Taylor replied, “I’m 100 percent in agreement. It passed in the town, so we’re talking about us making sure that we do what the town wants us to do, so we shouldn’t do anything right now.”

I’m not in favor of having it but we have to see what people that come out to the public hearing have to say,” said selectman Rolf Olsten. 

Bruno also agreed, but pointed out,” I think the issue is we don’t know until we go to public hearing and see what the input is. I’m not sure people in the Town of Raymond would want a social club somewhere on 302. I’m not interested in doing a moratorium. If I am going to bother doing an ordinance I’m going to prohibit it.”

Selectwoman Teresa Sadak posed the question of inquiries since it passed. Code enforcement officer Chris Hanson said, “The day it passed I had five guys in my office wanting to expand medical marijuana into recreational, social clubs and retail stores. Right now there is medical marijuana. People are growing it. Some are doing that in their garages as a home occupation and some that are commercial and that’s legal.” 

“If we don’t regulate it, it will be in Raymond. The thing you can do is, if you read the law, is prohibit it in town be it retail or social. You can also legislate by using the land ordinance for zoning, to zone it in another part of town. You can prohibit them by so many feet from a school or church. There are all kinds of way to limiting where and even in number. I just don’t see us wasting a lot of attorney fees to write up a moratorium now,” continued Hanson. 

The conclusion of what happens in the meantime is exactly nothing.

Protecting Babb's Bridge - By Walter Lunt

Town leaders, Department of Transportation officials and other representatives of the towns of Windham and Gorham met recently to discuss vandalism and other security issues regarding the newly repaired Babb’s Covered Bridge which connects the two towns over the Presumpscot River.

The meeting, held at the Gorham Municipal Center, was led by Doug Carlson, a maintenance and operations manager for the Maine DOT, who told the gathering that the state cannot provide continued fixes to the bridge resulting from vandalism.

“We can address upkeep and safety on the bridge, (but) with this (vandalism) we’re just spinning our wheels,” said Carlson.

Attending the session were the town managers, police chiefs, public works directors, legislators and members of respective historical societies from both communities.

Windham Historical Society member and former senator Gary Plummer acknowledged that while Maine’s DOT will continue to maintain the bridge, the wanton destruction from vandals and graffiti “artists” now falls on the two towns. He recommended the formation of a group, Friends of Babb’s Bridge, to oversee protection and preservation. He recently told the Eagle that when he visited the aftermath of the bridge’s destruction from arson in 1973 he experienced a feeling of mourning much like a reaction to the death of a friend.

“I’m committed to saving this bridge. I think it’ll be necessary to do some kind of security monitoring. I’ve visited all nine of (Maine’s remaining) bridges. They all have a graffiti problem, but sad to say we win the prize,” referring to the words and pictures scrawled across the length of both interior walls.
Windham representative Patrick Corey lamented, “People don’t even love their own landmarks.”

Several attendees, however, said they believed much of the destruction, which included sawing holes through the roof and kicking away sideboards, was committed by out-of-towners, exhibiting callous disregard for public property to enhance their good times jumping from the bridge into the river. Residents who live near the bridge say locals, who swim and play near, but not on, the bridge show more respect and ownership of the property. 

Police chiefs from the two towns have agreed to beef up patrols in the area during spring and summer months, but concede 24 hour surveillance is not possible. It was also noted that passage of additional town ordinances related to trespassing would help give teeth to police pursuing arrests and prosecution.

Gorham town manager David Cole said surveillance and protection is difficult for many reasons, including the remote location of the bridge and limited resources exacerbated by dwindling state revenue sharing funds. And, he added, “As long as there are people, there will be graffiti.”

The bridge protection issue is particularly pressing right now as extensive repairs have just been completed. Following severe vandalism over the summers of 2014, ’15 and ’16 Maine DOT agreed to a complete fix, but warned that responsibility for any ongoing damages resulting from malicious mischief would rest with the towns.

Plummer and others want to form a panel that would monitor goings-on at Babb’s Bridge, especially during spring and summer months. The group, he hopes, would consist of concerned citizens and members of the local legislative delegation that would recommend security measures, secure funds and implement a plan by next spring.

“It’s a sound structure right now,” said DOT bridge maintenance manager Jeffrey Naum, referring to the extensive work this fall by D & D Construction at a cost of over $160,000. The work included new roofing and reinforced siding. Stabilization of the abutment supports had been completed earlier.
Suggestions for security ranged from the installation of surveillance cameras and continual repainting over the graffiti to signage and increased “eyes-on” by volunteers.

Windham Primary School children who regularly visit the covered bridge replica, built originally in the mid-19th century, also weighed in. Their ideas, recorded on chart paper by their teacher, were displayed at the meeting. Titled “Ideas to Protect Babb’s Bridge,” one young history devotee suggested “Make another bridge or something in town that people can break or spray paint.” Another student recommended “Spread the word! Talk to everyone we know about how important Babb’s Bridge is to us.”

Gorham resident Guy Labrecque said he was impressed by the students’ interest.

“If kids are involved at a younger age, maybe they won’t (condone) the destruction.”

November 23, 2016

Members of Faith Lutheran welcome new pastor - By Lorraine Glowczak

The Faith Lutheran Church at 988 Roosevelt Trail in Windham welcomes their new Pastor, Rev. Jane Field. Officially installed as the congregation’s spiritual leader on November 6th, Rev. Field succeeds outgoing pastor, David Thorp who left Windham to begin a ministry training pastors in Bolivia.

The members of the search committee who recommended Rev. Field to the congregation are very pleased that she was called to be their next pastor. “She is a very kind, compassionate and thoughtful person and this comes through in her inspiring sermons,” Sarah Burkhardt, a member of the search committee, stated. “She has a lot of energy and enthusiasm” Burkhardt added, pleased that she fits so well within the personality and principles of the congregation.

“We love her,” Peggy Appelin, congregation member, spoke with delight about their new pastor. “She has become an immediate member of our church family. We have enveloped each other in all aspects of church life from services to lobster bakes, visiting members, cooking for fundraisers and emceeing our cabaret with warmth and humor,” Appelin continued. “Also, Rev. Field knows how to incorporate what is presently happening in the world today into her sermons so it is relatable to our authentic everyday life experiences. And she does so with a compassionate depth that inspires us.”

Initially, Rev. Jane Field did not set out to become a minister or anyone’s spiritual leader. Wanting to serve society through advocacy and politics, Field received her Master’s degree in Public Policy from Princeton University in 1987. During her participation in that program, she realized she was asking questions with a more human perspective that were not easily answered in the mathematics-focused curriculum. As part of her Master’s degree, she interned at a domestic violence agency in Trenton, New Jersey. Wanting to discover more about domestic abuse, she learned there was a class at Princeton Theological Seminary that focused on this very issue. Princeton Theological Seminary, a seminary associated with the Presbyterian Church, is not a part of Princeton University. However, the two institutions had a reciprocal agreement, so she took the class for credit. Here, Rev. Field discovered the more humanistic approach she had been looking for. So, after receiving her degree in Public Policy, she decided to add to her educational endeavors by pursuing a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

After receiving her seminary degree, Field moved to Wilton, Connecticut, to serve first as the associate pastor of a Presbyterian Church, then as a Development Officer and Community Educator at a domestic violence agency in Stamford, Connecticut, before returning to the ministry, serving Presbyterian, Episcopal and Methodist churches in that area. During this time, she became a mother by adopting a beautiful girl from Guatemala. 

Fast forward to Faith Lutheran Church in Windham. Rev. Field has deep family roots in Maine and she knew it would eventually become her permanent home. While growing up, her family, who had a house in Sanford, split their time between Michigan where her father worked for General Motors, and Maine. Now, her parents are retired and live in Yarmouth and her daughter is a sophomore at the University of Maine at Orono. In the fall of 2015, Rev. Field moved to Portland and was hired as the executive director of the Maine Council of Churches, where she continues to serve. In July 2016, she accepted the call to serve as the part-time pastor of Faith Lutheran Church. 

“I stand in awe of this congregation,” Rev. Field stated in a recent interview. “They know how to be a church. In fact, they are teaching me more than I am teaching them,” Field continued. Her astonishment doesn’t end there. “This congregation knows how to put faith into action. They roll up their sleeves and get things done without help from me. This congregation is a welcoming and happy group that is self-sufficient and independent. In fact, all they need from me is a little spiritual nourishment. I feel very lucky to be a part of this church.”

Rev. Field also expressed how impressed she is with the active involvement and social justice ministry the church is participating in within the community. “We are very active in the Monday Meals, a free community dinner offered by a variety of churches on a weekly basis. There is always someone from the Faith Lutheran Church available every Monday to assist with this program.” Faith Lutheran is also involved in other outreach activities including adopting families in need at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Not only is social justice ministry an important part of Faith Lutheran, but welcoming individuals from all walks of life is essential to their way of being church. This affirming congregation meets every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. During the summer months, an outside chapel that is an entrance to a nature preserve and hiking trail is where they meet, from June to September. 

Faith Lutheran is a member of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, a progressive mainline denomination. All are welcome to attend. To learn more or to become involved, contact Rev. Field at 207-892-9158.

David Hansen on the right - Music Director
David Young on the left - guitar player.

November 18, 2016

Student of the week - Sam Foley

The Windham Eagle’s student of the week is 10-year-old Sam Foley. Sam is in fourth grade and has Kelley Williamson as his teacher at Manchester School.

The person who has helped him the most with education is “Mrs. Williamson because she makes us learn by trying out new things to make us improve in all different subjects.

Learning fun comes from “doing things wrong, but then realizing that they are right or played a big part in learning how to do things right.”

One of his greatest accomplishments is being great a sports through a lot of practice. His free time is spent practicing spelling, going outside or practicing hockey.  

“Sam is an all around perfect representative of the 3 Bs.  He is friendly and hard working all day, every day.  He takes his education seriously.  He knows that learning is hard work and he is up for the challenge.  He is well liked and is a kind person to all.  I selected Sam for student of the week because of his effort, enjoyment,  and success in his fourth grade career,” said Williamson. 

Sam would like to go to USM and play hockey. 

Sam’s parents are Amy and Patrick Foley and he has a brother Jack. He also lives with Ellie, a pitbull mix, and Jonesy, a chocolate lab.

Favorite subject:  Gym          
Favorite movie: Daddy Daycare
Favorite holiday:  Christmas
Hobbies and extracurricular activities:  Hockey, baseball and soccer

Wage opportunities - By Rep. Mark Bryant the election behind us, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and continue the work of addressing
Maine’s challenges and helping our state live up to the ideal of “the way life should be.” We may have different opinions about what that should look like, but I know there are many things we can agree on. One of them is that everyone who works full-time should earn a decent wage – enough to keep the roof over their heads, pay their bills and put food on the table for their families, and maybe even have a little extra to set aside for retirement.

On Tuesday, Mainers voted to increase the minimum wage. There is work to do to ensure that this new law works for both employers and workers, but I am confident that this is a positive step for the people of Windham and for Maine’s economy overall. It means that people will have more money in their pockets to spend at local businesses and help boost the economy. And it means that people who contribute to the future of our state by going to work every day, from EMTs to firefighters, teachers and health care workers, will earn enough to get by. 

Another critical issue for the economic security of Maine families and the state’s overall economic health is equal pay for women. The equal pay law has been on the books for decades, but the reality is that women continue to earn less than men, about 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. Even when women and men are performing the same job functions, women tend to make less. pay gap begins early in women’s careers and can stay with them for their entire lifetime, even as they steadily rise up the career ladder. That’s why I’ve already submitted a bill for the upcoming session to help combat wage discrimination. The bill would prevent employers from demanding a job applicant’s salary history before making an offer of employment so that women’s compensation will be based on their qualifications. 

The practice of employers asking for previous salary information can perpetuate the pay gap by starting these employees off at lower wages they may have earned in the past. A new employee’s salary should be based on the value they bring to the company, not how much they earned in past jobs.

I believe that everyone who works hard should be given the opportunity to move ahead. Your first job should not dictate what you will be earning for the rest of your life. 

As a grandfather to three girls with a grandson on the way, I am determined to do everything I can to help ensure that each of their futures is full of possibilities and that they can do anything they set out to achieve. I am also determined to put the health of our economy here in Windham and throughout our state first. That means ensuring that all workers earn a living wage for the work they do. Then we will be a few steps closer to “the way life should be.”