November 21, 2017

Windham Rescue Association to send care packages to soldiers by Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Rescue Association collected donations, creating care packages to send to soldiers by the end of the year. Many of these soldiers are located in various parts of the world and won’t be able to make it home for the holidays.
Dena’s Lobster House and Tavern graciously donated their space and Flamin Raymin/Sizzlin Suzzan provided the line dancing activities and music on the Sunday, October 29 event organized by the Association. Those attending the event were asked to bring donations for care packages in lieu of purchasing a ticket. 

“We were overwhelmed by the turn out and donations,” stated Lynn Vajda, an active member of the
The 40 packages to be sent to soldiers
association. “The American Legion of Naples provided 20 pre-packed boxes to be shipped. Nichols Manufacturing of Portland donated 20 pre-packed bins with toiletries, I-tune cards and snacks. The VFW Post 10643 donated over $300 in cash to assist with shipping. Through a dessert raffle and 2 large baskets donated by McDonalds, over $400 in cash to cover the postage.”

The Windham Rescue Association began about 20 years ago and consist of members who are either working or have worked in Fire/Rescue/Police departments. Its mission is to provide scholarships for high school students who choose to go into the police/fire or EMT fields as well as to raise funds to assist any equipment needs of the fire department. 

Vajda, who presently serves in the 265th Maine Air National Guard in South Portland, states that the association chose to send care packages for the soldiers this year too, to honor not only her service to her country but to the other association members, including her son and husband, who have or are currently serving in the armed forces. 

On Thursday, November 16, Vajda hosted the packing party at her home. “We packed over 40 boxes to ship to the soldiers,” Vajda said. “Some are local Windham residents who will not be home for the holidays. The rescue association has done fundraisers to support purchasing extra equipment for the fire department, as well as providing two scholarships of $500 to Windham High School students going into the field of EMS or Police.”

For those who would like to make a donation to the Windham Rescue Association as they carry out their mission, contact Vajda at

Windham resident honored as a semifinalist for Maine’s 2017 Teacher of the Year by Linda Griffin

Windham resident and Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year, Nesrene Griffin, was honored recently at Thomas College in Waterville as a semifinalist for the Maine’s 2017 Teacher of the Year. She was nominated by a fellow colleague and teacher, Amy Favreau.

Nesrene is from Malaysia and graduated in the top 10 percent of her class at Northeastern College in
Nesrene Griffin
Boston, earning her degree in Business Administration.

She met and married her classmate, Daniel Griffin of Windham. Upon graduation, they both accepted jobs in and moved to Malaysia. After their daughter, Hanna, was three years old, they returned to Daniel’s home in Windham to raise her.

With few job openings for business majors, Nesrene was open to new possibilities. Hanna’s second grade teacher, Joyce Whidden, suggested that Nesrene return to college and receive a Master of Science Degree in Teaching and Learning from the University of Southern Maine. Taking Whidden’s advice, Nesrene returned to college and once again graduated in the top 10 percent of her class.

Nesrene has taught third grade for eight years in the Lewiston Public Schools in Androscoggin County. She teaches math, literacy, social studies and science. Nesrene is a creative teacher and has earned respect from her students, their families and her peers. 

She collects warm clothing for her students as many of them are immigrants, like herself, and are not used to the Maine winters.
Nesrene also provides books in her classroom that students can take home to share with their families. While she faces many challenges as a teacher, balancing a wide learning gap among her students, her creativity and hard work pay off. 

Nesrene lives with her husband and daughter in their new home on Anthoine Road. She helps with her daughter’s high school activities which include the current play, “The Sound of Music” and the upcoming Chamber Singers’ concerts.

Surface Water Protection and its effect on the watershed community of Highland Lake by Rosie Hartzler, Highland Lake Association President

At the Tuesday, November 14 meeting of the Windham Town Council, an agenda item focused on proposed revisions to the Surface Water Protection Ordinances, a list generated as a result of the Moratorium Ordinance on development within the Windham Highland Lake Watershed.  
The Moratorium on all development enacted on September 5, 2017 jolted the watershed community, and in fact caught a lot of people by surprise. What exactly led to implementing what seemed to some as a drastic measure?
Most of you have heard about the recurring Pico cyanobacteria bloom (also referred to as picoplankton bloom) in Highland Lake (HL.)  This summer, the lake experienced a fourth occurrence of this troubling phenomenon – a phenomenon that for about 4 weeks from mid- July through mid-August reduced water clarity to less than 2 meters.  

Even though repeated testing confirmed that the outbreak was not toxic – this was little comfort to lake residents.  Like one resident said, “When I stand in knee deep water, I can’t see my feet.”   
The reality is that HL has been a lake under stress for a very long time. Since 1998, the lake has been on Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) watch list and determined to be a “lake most at risk from over development”.  

Cyanobacteria is in every lake, and even in the oceans. But the way they are showing up as picoplankton blooms in freshwater lakes like HL, is extraordinary. Lakes where the blooms are exhibiting themselves, are also lakes that test for high nutrient loads – specifically the nutrients of phosphorus and nitrogen.  

It is well established that the total phosphorus in Highland Lake is caused by non-point source pollution (runoff) from the water shed. This runoff is directly related to over development.  

The most recent count enumerates 1,000 residences in the watershed and the negative impact of development on the lake is not just from shoreline properties. To live in the Highland Lake watershed means that residents are a part of this over development phenomenon. A watershed is basically a basin and, at some point, everything including excess phosphorus eventually ends up in the lake.  

Average total phosphorus readings have been gradually increasing in HL.  

Jeff Dennis of Maine DEP states, “There has been a progression of total phosphorus concentrations from around 8 ppb (parts per billion) in the mid-1970s to 10 ppb or more in recent years. The increasing eutrophication culminated in what is assumed to be picoplankton blooms from 2014 – 2017.” (“Highland Lake Summary”, Jeff Dennis and Linda Bacon, DEP, September 2017)
This summary is available at

Because this is a lake under stress from over development, it is imperative for change. The current ordinances are not sufficient to protect this lake.    

The more sobering truth is that the economy of Windham and Falmouth could be impacted by the crisis at HL. For example, the tax base is tied to the residences in the watershed. We are all in this together – not only those who live on Highland Lake, but others who live in watershed areas who can learn from what is occurring in HL. 

Together, we have the power to solve this issue. 

Here at HL, the Highland Lake Association (HLA) is a dedicated and energized group of volunteers committed to preserving and protecting this valuable resource. The HLA is open for new members and folks interested in helping with the effort to protect the lake.  

The HLA has organized a Science Roundtable for Friday, December 1. This will be a closed meeting of scientists, academics and water quality experts to focus on what is causing the Pico cyanobacteria blooms in the lake and what can we do about it.   

Following this roundtable, a public forum will be held where residents have the opportunity to learn more about cultivating an effective community response to this troubling phenomenon. 

The HLA has become an active participant with Windham and Falmouth in reviewing land use ordinances, to ensure that these ordinances are effectively protecting the lake. Given the status of the lake, there is considerable pressure to get it right.  

To learn more about how you can become involved in the process to review the Surface Water Protection Ordinances, contact the HLA or your town councilor.  

Reach out to the HLA to let your ideas be known for creating a climate where the protection of Highland Lake and the other valuable natural resources are balanced with economic progress.  For more information visit the HLA at