September 15, 2017

Wreaths across Windham - Everlasting Gratitude to resume adornment of veterans’ graves by Walter Lunt


Apopular and time-honored tribute to Windham war veterans will resume this fall. Everlasting Gratitude (E.G.), which places decorated wreaths on the graves of Windham’s fallen heroes, will be revived this December following a 2016 lull.
 
Begun in 2014, by Studio Flora (Florist and Gift Shop) owner Libby Sawyer and family, the program created hand-made bows for over 800 wreaths that dignified veterans’ gravesites in more than 20 cemeteries throughout Windham.

Following two successful years, the program faltered last year due to lack of funds. In 2017, thanks in large part to American Legion Field-Allen Post 148-member Walter Braley, E.G. will breathe new life into this program.

“(Walter) was the big impetus to getting this going again,” said Post Commander Mel Greenier. “He brought (the subject) up at every single meeting.”

The frequent reminders spurred an aggressive campaign to revive the wreath program and possibly establish it as an annual event.

According to Legion Post literature, “The (wreath program) mirrors Wreaths Across America that provides wreaths at veterans’ graves in national cemeteries.”

The national effort also originates in Maine from a tree farm in Cherryfield.

In Windham, there are over 24 cemeteries with more than 800 veterans’ graves dating back to the Revolutionary War. The wreaths are adorned with red, white and blue ribbons. Legion Post members, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, the Windham Historical Society, church groups and other volunteers will participate in wreath-laying ceremonies that will coincide with those at national cemeteries sometime in early December.

The E.G. budget, based on the cost of wreaths and ribbons in past years, is set at $6000. 

Adjutant/Finance Officer David Tanguay says a recent donation from the non-profit Duane Clark (Scholarship) Fund put the latest tally at just over $4000.

Volunteers are currently being sought to help craft professional looking bows and to attach them to the wreaths. The workshop will take place on Monday, October 2, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Windham Veterans Center. Libby Sawyer of Studio Flora will provide instruction. If possible, volunteers should bring shears and pliers.

Donations to Everlasting Gratitude can be made by mail at American Legion Wreaths, PO Box 1776, Windham, ME 04062, or through GoFundMe at Gf.me/u/dpy5q. Donations are tax deductible. And all funds are dedicated to E.G. – any extra funds will carry over to the following year’s wreath program.

Raymond Board of Selectmen support AARP formal application and approve extension of local Peddler’s License



Tuesday, September 14 the Raymond Board of Selectman considered a number of items which included an AARP formal application and an extension of a Peddler’s License.

The meeting began with Beth Clark, community member and an active participant in a Raymond Age-Friendly Community initiative, who addressed the Raymond Board of Selectmen (BOS), representing the 35 member group. She requested official town support to submit a formal application to AARP, which will provide technical support for the group’s age-friendly community grassroots initiative.  

Briefly, the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities is an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program; an international effort launched in 2006 to help cities prepare for rapid population aging and the parallel trend of urbanization. The program has participating communities in more than 20 nations, as well as 10 affiliates representing more than 1,000 communities.

Also under consideration was the extension of Jalisco LLC dba A La Mexicana’s Peddler’s License. Jose Manuel Chavez-Mendoza, owner of the business requested an extension until a new building can replace the previous building, which was destroyed in a fire in April. 

The BOS unanimously approved to extend the Peddler’s License until December 31, 2017.

Press conference held to discuss need for proposed new shared facility through bond referendum



The Town of Windham held a press conference on Tuesday, September 12 to discuss the increasingly dire need to construct a new 30,000 square foot, shared vehicle maintenance facility. This facility will meet the needs of the town’s public works and RSU 14 transportation departments. Endorsed by the RSU 14 school board and the Windham Town Council, the Town of Windham is proposing to fund this new facility through a $9.3 million bond referendum on the November 7, 2017 ballot. 

At the conference, Windham Public Works Director, Douglas Fortier, led attendees through a tour of the current operation; illustrating first-hand how the 10,000 square foot facility offers inadequate space leading to a variety of issues such as: premature and costly equipment repairs, delayed storm response times, negative environmental impacts, and conflicts between public works, school, vendor and public traffic – to name a few. 

“Our public works employees and school system are struggling to efficiently operate within the constraints of an old, hazardous facility,” stated Dave Nadeau, Windham Town Councilor, and member of the Shared Vehicle Maintenance Facility Joint Project Team. “We have a unique opportunity right now to come together and fix it. Our number one goal is to keep our communities safe and an updated, shared vehicle maintenance facility will help us effectively achieve that.”

Dave Poree
The current facility was built in 1980 and the transportation needs of the community have significantly grown. “When I began working here 31 years ago, there were only four dump trucks, one pickup truck and three police cruisers,” reported Dave Poree, Public Works Fleet Supervisor. 

“Today, there are now 65 ‘rolling equipment’ vehicles. As a result, the three bays that are available now are not enough to do our jobs efficiently and safely. In the winter, we often have to work outside in the snow when a plow breaks down because we cannot get it into the bay due to the lack of space and inability to drive the plow inside.”

Poree also was available to give a tour to reporters, pointing out his concerns, one of which is the lack of vehicle lifts. “Because there are no lifts to put the vehicles on, maintenance staff is unable to look at the underside of a vehicle at eye level,” stated Poree. “As a result, not only does it make repairs cumbersome and difficult, but we do not have the ability to see and prevent potential problems.”

 Another concern expressed is the lack of a wash bay to properly clean the equipment. “Wash bays will drastically reduce corrosion caused by salt and sand,” explained Kevin Kimball, Public Works Assistant Director. “This will provide a longer life for all the vehicles and prevent fewer breakdowns due to rust. This will save taxpayers money in the long run.” 

According to the Town of Windham, the new shared vehicle maintenance facility would benefit residents by improving road conditions and response times in winter storms; increasing safety on the site by separating public works, school, and public traffic; improving energy efficiency; shrinking its environmental footprint; and reducing expensive and frequent vehicle repair and replacement costs.

“Investing in a new, shared vehicle maintenance space for our school buses will not only save taxpayers’ money in the long run, but it will also help increase safety for our employees right away. It truly is a win-win,” said Scott McLean, RSU 14 School Board Member, and member of the Shared Vehicle Maintenance Facility Joint Project Team.

The Town of Windham will host an Open House, inviting the public to view the current facility on Saturdays, September 23 and October 28 from 9 a.m. to noon. There will also be an Open House on Saturday, October 7 from 10 a.m. to noon designed to coincide with the high school’s homecoming activities which will include a “Touch-a-Truck” event. “The open houses will provide an opportunity for the community to ask questions, see the facility and make an informed decision in November,” Plante stated.

It’s estimated that the new shared facility will save as much as $8 million over the facility’s expected 50-year lifecycle in reduced expenses and increased efficiencies. At least $3 million will be saved over the 20 years of financing, with a cost of approximately $6 per month to the average homeowner – a price that’s expected to increase if the referendum continues to be delayed. 

For more information about the proposed referendum, please visit www.windhammaine.us, or call (207) 892-1907, ext. 1121.



Supporting the community: Modern Woodmen gives back by Elizabeth Richards


Modern Woodmen builds the giving back to the community factor right into their business model. As a member-owned fraternal financial services organization, the company is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the communities in which it operates.  
  
McFarland and Conley give dog treat donation to ARL Director

Representatives help members find the financial services they need and then the members receive a range of benefits. When someone purchases a product from Modern Woodmen, they become a member of the organization. Once a person becomes a member, a list of membership benefits is available to them, including the opportunity to participate in a wide range of service and fundraising events to make a difference in their community.

In Windham, there are two Modern Woodmen representatives: Tim Graham, managing partner, and Zachary Conley, financial representative. Together the two are working to give back in as many areas as they can, Conley said. 

On Thursday, September 8, Conley and his Activities Coordinator, Hannah McFarland, were at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland to donate homemade dog treats to the shelter. Not only did Modern Woodmen help the animal shelter with the donation, but they also supported the local small business McFarland operates, Petey’s Treaties, who made the donated treats. 

This is just one small service project the company has participated in, and like all of their events, members were invited to participate as well. Though not many members will show up for a simple donation delivery, other events get widespread participation, Conley said. 

For instance, the company did a Matching Fund Program for a fundraising event for a woman with stage 3 lung cancer. Not only did they hit the matching fund goal of $2500, they far surpassed it. So many people showed up to the event, that over $10,000 was raised to support the cause.

Modern Woodmen chapters offer many types of activities throughout the year, including social activities. In Windham, they recently sponsored an evening where members received a discount on their meals at Applebee’s. “It’s a way to get families out and have a family night, especially those on a budget,” said McFarland. “We had a huge turnout that night, and had a lot of fun.” 

Promoting local business is part of their goal, Conley added. Another recent social event was a discounted ticket night at Smitty’s cinema.

There are the larger programs, such as the Matching Funds, Hometown Hero and Good Neighbor programs; they all contribute to the community in various ways. Hometown Heroes is a community-selected member who receives recognition, including a plaque and $100 to donate to any charity they wish. On September 15, at the Hope JG Foundation Golf Scramble at Spring Meadows Golf Club in Gray, they will present John Gregoire, co-founder of the Hope JG Foundation, with a Hometown Hero award.

With the Matching Funds Program, the organization either creates a fundraising event or supports an already existing event, matching a certain amount of money generated. Each chapter has $2500 in matching funds to support local causes. The fundraiser for the woman with cancer is one example of this type of event. They will also be supporting Riding to the Top’s upcoming Triple B event with matching funds.

The Good Neighbors Program supports a community building project, and other programs include planting a tree in the community, and much more. Modern Woodmen also offers educational events for both adult and child members. Recently, they had a brewery tour for members. They also supported the Windham SACC by purchasing and donating $250 worth of back to school supplies.
Though Conley doesn’t operate a youth service club at present, it is another possibility with Modern Woodmen. “The biggest thing is getting families and people connected and getting them involved. Whenever we do an event, it’s just trying to promote people coming out together; people putting their differences aside and coming out for a greater cause,” Conley said. 

An area can have any number of reps, and Modern Woodmen is looking to grow in the Windham region, Conley said. Conley grew up in Raymond, graduated from Windham High School in 2014, and has been a representative with Modern Woodmen for close to a year. He said he intends to have a long career with the company because he enjoys the opportunities to give back to the community he grew up in.

Legislative update by Rep. Patrick Corey



Since adjourning last month, it's taken a bit of time to reflect on and put together my thoughts regarding this past legislative session. This being my second term, I dove in head first and immersed myself in everything that happens under the dome.

The biggest change for me this session was switching my committee assignment from Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to Criminal Justice and Public Safety. I really enjoyed my initial committee assignment as many of my constituents hunt, fish, boat and snowmobile, but felt that with a prison in South Windham and Maine's drug crisis and related crimes, CJPS would be a great committee to do meaningful work. 

The referendums that were passed last November dominated the first session of the 128th Legislature. I'm beginning to believe that our citizen initiative process has been hijacked by well-moneyed, often out-of-state special interests. In turn, Maine citizens have become subject to undue influence, leaving them uniformed before making decisions impacting lives. 

Question Two matched funding our schools against Maine's small business owners. This isn't fair to either entity. Question Four removed the tip credit cutting into servers' incomes. Significant portions of Question Five ranked-choice voting, was found to be unconstitutional by Maine's Law Court. 

Question One, left last for a reason, made adult-use recreational cannabis legal, which became a huge part of my work this session. 

When running for office three years ago I never imagined a deep-dive on marijuana. I was skeptical about legal weed during the campaign and unmarried to an outcome. Once the Legislature began work on the issue, I found myself on the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation. The name has everyone in Augusta laughing. 

As you can imagine, when opening a new, legal marijuana market there are a host of issues.
Some of the topics we've covered include licensing, taxation, enforcement, impaired driving, and municipal control; including the ability for towns and cities to opt-out. At the end of the month the committee will receive public testimony on the bill and hopefully report out a bill to the Legislature for a vote sometime in October.

This session, two bills I sponsored became law and two more will likely be rolled into the comprehensive marijuana bill. Those include a bill to require open-containers of marijuana to be treated like alcohol in an automobile. If you can't have an open beer in the cup holder, you shouldn't have a joint in the ashtray. I had also submitted a bill to ensure that all retail marijuana products sold come in a tamper-evident container.

My "Need before Weed" bill passed with unanimous votes in both chambers. This bill barred Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits being spent on retail marijuana products. TANF is a program focused on transitioning people from welfare to work. I don't believe marijuana is a part of that equation. 

My second bill banned the creation of gun owner registries in Maine. Maine joined eight other states in preemptively banning the registration of firearms and their owners. Both bills were signed into law by the Governor.

Passage of the budget brought the removal of the disastrous 3 percent surcharge on Maine's small businesses and full 55 percent funding of the State share of K-12 education. This was the largest investment in public education in history.

By far, the biggest failure I saw as a legislator this session was our inability to criminalize female genital mutilation (FGM). It is a cultural practice where some or all of the external female genitalia is removed. This misogynistic act is an attempt to both control female sexuality and keep women chaste. There were legislators who believed that education was the answer to the sexual assault and permanent disfigurement of children. I argued that it was acts like these that are the reason we have a criminal justice system. Twenty-six other states have made this a crime. 

We will likely be heading back this fall to address some unresolved business. I've already mentioned upcoming cannabis legislation. Other issues we may be looking at include ranked-choice voting, Maine Office of Geographic Information Systems funding, and bringing Maine into federal compliance with a recently passed piece of legislation regarding local control of food systems.

It continues to be a pleasure to serve the people of Windham. I'm pleased to say, that for the third session in a row, I have a 100 percent voting record. You put me there to do a job and I plan on honoring the commitment I've made.

As always, I welcome communication with my constituents, as it is good to know where they stand on the issues. I can be reached at patrick.corey@legislature.maine.gov or 207-749-1336.

Emergency moratorium passed by Windham Town Council by Lorraine Glowczak



Many members of the Highland Lake community, including a local construction company, attended the Windham Town Council meeting on Tuesday, September 14 to either oppose or support the adoption of an emergency ordinance establishing a moratorium on certain development activities in the Highland Lake watershed. 

Citizens concerned about the passage of the emergency moratorium included an individual who is building a home on the watershed and whose project will have to be delayed, as well as representatives from Chase Custom Homes construction who has already received permission from DEP to build upon the Highland Lake watershed.

Highland Lake community members who proposed and support the moratorium also spoke to the council, reiterating their concern regarding pico-cyanobacteria (PCB) – a microscopic bacteria proliferating in the lake, most likely caused in part because of a high level of nutrients (namely phosphorus and nitrogen) in the lake.

Upon hearing public comment from all individuals the town council voted for the moratorium unanimously, preventing development for 180 days, giving time to study the concerns regarding environmental damage to Highland Lake.