December 6, 2019

Windham High School Katahdin Program chefs prepare another free community meal

The students of The Katahdin Program; Windham High School’s alternative learning initiative, had such a good time planning and preparing Raymond Village Community Church’s (RVCC) free community meal last month that they want to do it again. This time, they’re working with RVCC parishioner and Portland Firefighter Craig Messinger to put another memorable and delicious meal on the table at RVCC, located at 27 Main Street on Thursday, December 12 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“Craig makes a mean seafood chowder,” stated RVCC Pastor Nancy Foran. “His chowder will be paired with vegetarian minestrone, salad, homemade bread, and carrot cake prepared by the Katahdin Program students. Other members of our congregation are getting into the act, preparing even more desserts.”

Pastor Foran also reminded the public that these meals are completely free. “The whole point of these meals is to build community: everyone is encouraged to attend, to see old friends and meet new neighbors before the Winter closes in.”   

The Katahdin Program utilizes the classroom, the outdoors and the greater community to provide alternative education programming for students, grades nine through 12, in the RSU14 Windham/Raymond school district. The program recognizes that all learners have strengths, assets, and interests. Katahdin staff believe that every individual is an important part of the learning community, whose core values are integrity, safety, respect, responsibility, and kindness.

For further information about RVCC and Free Community Meals, email Rev. Foran at, or call the Church at 655-7749. 

To learn more about the Katahdin Program, go to their website at:

RVCC: Small Church, BIG Heart!
Raymond Village Community Church is a United Church of Christ congregation.  It is a diverse faith community embracing tolerance, committed to missions and outreach, singing joyfully, and welcoming all people no matter who they are, or where they are on their faith journey.  For more information about RVCC, contact Rev. Nancy Foran, Pastor, at 655-7749 or

Breakfast with Santa

The Windham Lions Club is hosting another Breakfast with Santa, a once a year event, where children can visit and eat with the jolly ol’ elf. Children of all ages are welcome to partake of the free breakfast of pancakes, sausages and beverages. Breakfast is served Saturday, December 14 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Donations to support the Lions Club will be accepted at the door.

There will be an opportunity to take pictures with Santa, so bringing a camera is recommended. 

The event will be at the Windham Veterans Center behind Hannaford on Toby Pennels Memorial Drive. The event is co-sponsored by the Windham Veterans Association, which is providing the usage of the center for this community event.

Legislative update: Protecting children requires vigilance

By Sen. Bill Diamond

Over the past two years, our child protection system has been under a microscope, and rightfully so.
The violent deaths of two young girls, Kendall Chick and Marissa Kennedy, at the hands of abusive family members, shocked us all and highlighted very real shortcomings within the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS). That OCFS did not properly intervene in those cases is as big a failure as there can be in state government.

This recent scrutiny has been damning. Thanks to investigative reporting from the Portland Press Herald, we now know that in the past 12 years at least 18 children died in homes that had been previously flagged for incidents of child abuse or neglect. And a report last year from the Legislature’s Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, which was ordered after Kendall and Marissa’s deaths, indicated that OCFS was chronically understaffed.

cstlouis@spurwink.orgTo the credit of the current administration and the legislature, this scrutiny has spurred some well-intentioned efforts to fix the broken system. There have been press conferences and testimony to the legislature’s Government Oversight Committee, promising to make changes. The most recent budget includes a significant staff increase for OCFS.

But these good intentions and promises will not be enough, and we know that because we’ve been here before.

In 2001, five-year-old Logan Marr was found dead in her foster mother’s basement with more than
40 feet of duct tape wrapped around her little body. She had been left alone like that, asphyxiated, and died slowly and painfully. It was a horrible case, and the foster mother, Sally Schofield, was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

The case generated widespread outrage, and immediately following Logan’s murder, the state declared that they would fix the problem. Well-intentioned actions were taken, such as adding more supervisors and caseworkers, reducing the number of children in state care, increasing family training and prioritizing family placements.

Remember, this all happened in 2001. Here we are, almost 19 years later, right back where we started, if not worse than before. The good intentions and promises didn’t work.

Protecting children requires vigilance. We cannot continue to react in a knee-jerk fashion every time the public becomes outraged after a child is murdered. We must be proactive, and prevent the deaths from occurring in the first place.

This is not something OCFS can do on its own. We’ve been through seven DHHS commissioners and four gubernatorial administrations since Logan’s death, and children are still dying. Rigorous, ongoing oversight is absolutely necessary if we ever want to truly get a handle on this problem, as is input from the courts, the legislature, law enforcement and the public.

That’s why, earlier this year, I introduced a bill, LD 1554, “Resolve, Establishing a Commission to Reform Child Protective Services.” We will continue hammering out the details next year, but the idea is to move beyond good intentions and to truly fix our broken child protection system.

We cannot let this moment be a flash in the pan. Ten, 20 years from now, we should be able to look back and see that we solved this problem, and not wonder how we ended up right back where we started, again.

There should never be another Kendall, or Marissa, or Logan. Let’s make it happen.

If you have any ideas, questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office at 287-1515 or send me an email at My line is always open to you.

November 27, 2019

Windham Hill United Church of Christ hosts third annual Festival of Trees

The third annual Christmas Festival of Trees will be held at Fellowship Hall, Windham Hill United Church of Christ, 140 Windham Center Road in Windham from December 6 to December 8. 

This much anticipated event for the community of Windham is a showcase for local merchants and organizations as well as a fundraiser for Windham Hill United Church of Christ, the founding church of Windham and a historic landmark for the town. The festival hours on December 6 are 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. Hours on Saturday, December 7 are 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 8 from noon until 4 p.m. The grand drawing of winners will be at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Hall will be decorated for the Holiday season and refreshments will be available. There will be over 20 decorated Christmas trees with lights, each one donated by one of our local businesses or individuals. The donor will decorate the tree and then put gifts on and around the tree, many from their store or organization. Winners will receive the tree itself, with its lights and ornaments, all of the gifts on the tree, and all of the gifts under the tree.

Last year the winners took home everything from toys and gift items to kitchen supplies and jewelry. There was great excitement at the Grand Drawing. This year there will be several new trees added to popular donors from last year.

Admission to the Festival of Trees is free, everyone is welcome to visit to see these beautiful trees and the products from our local restaurants, gift stores, specialty companies, automotive businesses and construction companies. There will be tickets on sale for 50 cent each or 10 for $5. A bucket will be in front of each display. One ticket will be drawn for each tree at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The winners will need to claim their tree and gifts by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, December 10th.

Robert Turner, chair of the Festival of Trees stated, “raffle tickets will be available for sale so that the viewers may enter their tickets in the hopes of winning a beautiful tree. Each tree's winner gets to

take it home, fully decorated and already for the holidays.”

This event is a fund-raising activity of Windham Hill United Church of Christ to benefit their mission program: local, national and international missions including: Heifer International, the Root Cellar, Windham Food Pantry, Church World Service, SERRV, and many other organizations. Funds will also benefit continued maintenance and programming for this church which hosts Food and Fellowship’s Monday Meals, Boy Scout Troop 51, Windham Lion’s Club, and other civic events. Windham Hill United Church of Christ is an open and affirming church, welcoming all who would come. The church was founded in 1743 and has been central to the life of Windham throughout Windham’s history as a town.

Windham Lions Club’s “Stuff the Bus” event celebrates 20 years of feeding families in need

Keeping their tradition of helping families in need during the holiday season, the Windham Lions Club will be in front of Windham Hannaford Supermarket from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. collecting food donations to stuff the bus on Saturday, December 7. 

The program “Stuff the Bus” was started here in Windham Maine in cooperation with the Windham
School system 20 years ago. Today we still have support from RSU 14. In the past, Windham Lions have donated approximately 850 pounds worth of food.

Lion Club member, Anthony Ackerman, heard about the program similarly done in Massachusetts and brought the idea to Windham’s club.  “Through the years we have stood outside at the Hannaford store at the Windham Shopping Mall collecting nonperishable food, money donations, gift cards, and small gifts to support the community,” stated Bob Simmons, who organizes the “Stuff the Bus” event since Ackerman passed away. donations go to the social services on Gray Road in Windham, Maine where they will build Holiday Baskets for families in need. All monetary donations will purchase turkeys and hams at Hannaford to be put in the baskets.  Gift cards, small toys, hats, coats, and gloves/ mittens will be
given to children and young adults for holiday gifts.

The Windham Lions, RSU 14 and Hannaford are always pleased that they can support the community with your donations. However, they can only support families with your help. Help them fill every seat and aisle on the bus with bags of non- perishable food.

“We wish to thank everyone who has given in the past,” began Simmons. “And we especially want to give a big thank you to Hannaford’s for allowing us to have this event in their parking lot for the past 20 years. We couldn’t do it without them.”

For those who wish to help the Windham Lions Club and their Windham Food Pantry donations but will be away on December 7th, send inquiries and monetary donations to: The Windham Lions Club, P.O. Box 448, Windham, 04062.

Raymond Beautification Committee wins Spirit of America Award

Members of the Raymond Beautification Committee.
From top left going clockwise, Shirley Bloom,
Sharon Dodson, Jan Miller, Susan Adams
By Briana Bizier

If you’ve been impressed by the efforts made to beautify Route 302 in Raymond, you’re not alone. Those colorful flower beds in the summer and festive wreaths in the winter have also caught the eyes of the town of Raymond’s Select Board. On November 12th, in a ceremony with the Cumberland County Commissioners, Raymond’s Beautification Committee was chosen by the Select Board and the Spirit of America committee to receive the Town of Raymond’s 2019 Spirit of America Award.

Based in Augusta, the Spirit of America Foundation is a public charity that honors volunteerism and commendable community service. Every year, over one hundred Maine municipalities present the Spirit of America Foundation Tribute. The recipients are typically chosen by a town’s Board of Selectmen.

[The Beautification] committee does excellent work in insuring that our 302 corridor and other areas in town look their best,” Raymond Select Board member Marshall Bullock said in the write-up he presented to the Spirit of America committee. “Spring cleaning and plantings require a lot of dedicated volunteers who gladly put in many hours. Cleanups through the summer and fall are followed by a drive to place Christmas wreaths on each of our streetlights. These efforts are appreciated by community members and visitors alike.”
The Beautification Committee’s work began in 2003, when the state did an overlay of Route 302
through Raymond, the Portland Water District installed waterlines, and the Town of Raymond put in sidewalks, decorative light poles, and over 70 planted areas along the business corridor and at the Raymond Beach parking lot. Although the newly installed gardens were intended to be hardy and maintenance free, the first year was a bit of a struggle.

Nathan White, Raymond Public Works Director, managed to keep most of the perennials and trees alive by watering the best he could that first hot summer,” wrote Sharon Dodson, who co-chairs the Beautification Committee along with Elissa Gifford. “But the weeds grew taller than most of the plants!”

Raymond’s Beautification Committee was formed the following winter and, that spring, they began their work in the gardens by pulling those weeds, replacing plants that hadn’t survived the first year, and attracting volunteers to maintain the flower beds. These volunteers, now known as the Walk & Weeders, meet every Friday morning from May through October to weed and neaten the gardens.
“For the past few years the Walk & Weeders have had regular maintenance help from Public Works, which allows them to focus more on making the public areas look beautiful, rather than merely struggling to stay ahead of the weeds,” Sharon explains. The Walk & Weeders also plant flowering bulbs to usher in springtime, and annuals to highlight Vacationland’s beautiful summer.

Volunteers make sure the Veterans Memorial is decked out with red, white and blue by Memorial Day and keep our Pink Garden for Maine Women’s Cancer research full of pink tulips in spring and pink geraniums in summer,” Sharon continued. “This year volunteers planted 425 daffodils to support the Maine Suffrage Centennial, so next spring they should put on beautiful golden display along 302 and at the Veterans Memorial Park.”

Those readers who have gardens of their own will recognize the tremendous effort that goes into creating and maintaining the beautiful flowers beds that brighten Route 302, Veteran’s Park, the Raymond Town Hall, and the Raymond Village Library. For Beautification Committee co-chair Sharon Dodson, the benefits of these flower beds extend even beyond the visual cohesion they bring to Raymond’s business district and the good impression this beautiful landscaping makes on potential customers and visitors.

In addition to the immediate gratification we volunteers get from making a messy garden look nice or an empty barrel come to life, we really thrive on the camaraderie of working together to do good
work and get some exercise,” Sharon told me. “We have made lifelong friends while doing this and have improved our own lives in the process.”

The Beautification Committee’s efforts continue through the dark, cold days of December when 70 cheerful holiday wreaths are placed on the streetlights lining Route 302 to keep Raymond shining through the shortest days of the year. These wreaths are provided at cost by Jessica Fay, the owner of Maine Lakes Wedding Event Florist, who also provides the bows for the wreaths.

"Maine Lakes Wedding and Event Florist is happy to contribute annually to this effort,” Jessica Fay said. “Decorating Raymond's public space for the holidays is a way for us to celebrate the ways our town can come together. It also shows visitors and people passing through town that we are a welcoming community."

To purchase these wreaths, members of the Beautification Committee collect donations from local businesses in November. To make a tax-deductible individual donation and help Raymond sparkle through the holidays or shine through the summer, please write a check to the Town of Raymond and note it is “for the Beautification Committee.” Checks can be hand-delivered to the Raymond Town Hall or mailed to 401 Webb’s Mills Road, Raymond ME, 04071.

Finally, Raymond’s Walk & Weed group is always looking for volunteers. Anyone interested in helping to maintain these beautiful flower gardens should contact Sue Look at the Raymond Town Office.

November 22, 2019

After record online vote, Town & Country FCU Awards $25,000 area non-profits including MSSPA

At a special reception held at Town & Country Federal Credit Union’s Operations Center in Scarborough, the credit union awarded $25,000 in grants to non-profits serving Cumberland and/or York counties through its 2019 Better Neighbor Fund. The grant recipients were determined through a month-long vote during October which resulted in nearly 13,000 votes cast through the Town & Country FCU Facebook page, a new record.

Erin Ludwig of the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals of Windham, accepts a $2,000 grant on behalf of her organization from David Libby, President and CEO of Town & Country FCU. 
In his opening remarks to attendees, David Libby, President and CEO of Town & Country FCU, explained the purpose of the Better Neighbor Fund and the uniqueness of the Reception event.  “The Better Neighbor Fund honors and celebrates some of the wonderful work and services provided a special group of non-profits to communities throughout Cumberland and York Counties. Tonight is about people and the spirit of coming together to support and help others, whether it’s providing help to animals, educational opportunities for children or assistance to people in recovery, and a variety of other worthwhile causes and initiatives. You all make our communities better places to live because of your mission and commitment to being better neighbors. Our Reception is designed to bring organizations that make a difference together, and to allow them to have an opportunity to speak with your fellow non-profits and to reinforce the fact that we all contribute and care about our community. 

It was great to see such a high level of engagement with the online voting.”

In 2010, Town & Country introduced the Better Neighbor Fund to celebrate the ideal of neighbors helping neighbors, a concept that has a long and rich tradition in Maine.  The credit union has awarded $250,000 to 80 charitable initiatives, to date.

Eight charitable organizations from an original finalist list of 25 nominees were awarded a share of $25,000 from the 2019 Better Neighbor Fund - three received $5,000 grants and five received $2,000 grants. 

The 25 finalists were nominated in September through the credit union’s Facebook page, and during October, the public voted online for the project they felt was most deserving to receive one of the eight grants. 

The winners of the 2019 Better Neighbor Fund grants include (all serve Cumberland and/or York Counties):

$5,000 Grant—Learn Around the World Network, Inc. (Portland) – support the GEOshow Maine program, which will introduce K-5 students across Southern Maine to new places through virtual field trips.

$5,000 Grant—The Center for Wildlife (Cape Neddick) – support the Connecting Neighbors and Nature environmental education program.

$5,000 Grant—Friendship House (South Portland) – provide funding to help with its bathroom renovation project.

$2,000 Grant—Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals (Windham) – to help promote and expand the Maine Horse Matchmaker program.

$2,000 Grant—Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum (Portland) – will be used to help build a new station for the Narrow-Gauge Railroad and Museum at Ocean Gateway in Portland.

$2,000 Grant—Standish Parent Teacher Organization (Standish) – will help purchase and install new soccer goals and basketball hoops on the playgrounds of the Edna Libby and George E. Jack Elementary Schools in Standish.

$2,000 Grant—Royal River Community Players (Yarmouth) – support renovations of the Yarmouth Playhouse, the new theatre and performance center of the Royal River Community Players.

$2,000 Grant—Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (Westbrook) – will be used to allow for the presentation of the Toddler Storytime program, which offers a hands-on, exploration of the shelter.

About Town & Country Federal Credit Union
As Maine’s second largest credit union with nearly 40,000 members, Town & Country is a full-service financial institution offering a wide range of financial products and services to people who live, work, go to school or worship in Cumberland and York Counties. Designated as one of Maine’s ‘Best Places to Work’ for the past eight years, the credit union has $405 million in assets, and is part of the second largest branch network in the country. To learn more, visit