August 26, 2016

Gorham Savings Bank demonstrates new technology - By Elizabeth Richards



Gorham Savings Bank is introducing exciting new technology in several locations, and helping customers learn how to utilize these new digital options through technology centers in some of their branches. 

Rebecca Winslow, director for retail delivery for Gorham Savings Bank said the Standish branch has the second technology center, which was put into place to give bank staff the ability to showcase and demonstrate new digital options for clients. One of the most interesting new options is the interactive teller machine (ITM).

At first glance, it looks like an automated teller machine (ATM), though larger. And it can be used as an ATM if customers simply slide their card as usual. But unlike a typical ATM, a live person is waiting in a remote location to help the customer through their transactions if desired. 

“We’re really looking to utilize these for extending our banking hours in a more affordable way,” said Winslow. Because there is a live person at the other end, customers can do almost anything at an ITM that they could do by visiting a teller during regular banking hours. Simply touching the screen brings up the teller, who can then walk the customer through their transactions, including simple deposits, withdrawals, check cashing, choosing a new PIN number, or resetting home banking. 

The ITM allows for one person in a remote location to service three or four machines, rather than needing to staff four locations. At present, customers aren’t used to the extended banking hours from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m, so limited staff is sufficient, Winslow said. “As adoption ramps up and people start using it more often, we’ll look at the numbers and wait time,” she said. 

The machines have a few limitations, like not being able to accept coins, not being able to open new accounts, and not being set up to handle huge commercial deposits easily. The goal, Winslow said, is to monitor the usage and find out what the market is looking for. 

As they do so, education of customers is important. One of the biggest things customers want is reassurance that tellers won’t be eliminated, Winslow said. And they won’t. Instead, Gorham Savings Bank is looking for ways to serve more locations in better ways. It’s about finding a good balance, Winslow said. 

It’s also about teaching people how to use the machines so they are comfortable with them. The technology centers help with this, as does having staff on hand to walk customers through the process. The tech center was put into the Gorham branch because it’s the busiest, and they could get good customer feedback there, Winslow said. “We did get a ton of feedback, good, bad and indifferent,” she said. The feedback was mostly good, she added, with customers loving the idea of extended hours.

ITM’s are in use in four locations currently – in Kennebunk, at a self-service location located at 118 Congress Street in Portland, in the Gorham branch, and now in Standish. In Standish, the unit is currently inside where use can be easily demonstrated. It will be moved to a drive through lane in September.  



Gorham Savings Bank has committed to putting five ITMs into service. Although Windham was slated to be the fifth, a renovation of the Grand Trunk space in Portland has shifted the focus and the fifth ITM will be put in there instead. That means that the technology won’t be available in Windham for at least another year, Winslow predicted.

Tyler Cole celebrates the highest rank in Scouting - By Michelle Libby



Boy Scout Tyler Cole of Windham has been awarded the highest honor in Boy Scouts, the Eagle Scout rank. After joining Scouting in first grade, Cole celebrated his achievement with a ceremony and reception at Windham Hill United Church. 

To reach the rank of Eagle Scout, Cole and all Eagle Scouts must complete 21 merit badges, some which involve camping outside for at least 10 days or keeping track of physical fitness for 90 days. All Eagles are required to do a community service project that benefits the community. They also go before a board of adults to answer questions about their Scouting experience and the completed project. 

Cole earned 24 merit badges on a variety of topics and completed a community service project in which he built and installed a dock at Donnabeth Lippman Park. He assembled it along with his fellow troop members from Troop 51 at his house in April and then in May they installed it in Chaffin Pond. He received an award along with three other Eagle Scouts from Linda Brooks at Windham Parks and Recreation Department for their projects at the park this year.

Cole will attend Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts this fall. He is the son of Jennifer and Larry Cole. His father is the Scoutmaster of Troop 51 and an Eagle Scout himself.


Sen. Diamond introduces bill to allow police to raise funds - Michelle Libby



AUGUSTA — A new bill submitted by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, would remove a prohibition on fundraising by law enforcement agencies in some circumstances.

Diamond, who submitted the legislation last Thursday, said he was spurred to act after learning that several law enforcement officers in the state were struggling to pay for medical expenses related to family members’ illnesses. Current law does not allow police departments to solicit funds, so too often the officers in question have to turn to third-party fundraisers that retain much of the donations as a fee for service.

“Our police are hard-wired to protect and serve, and they deserve better than to struggle to take care of their loved ones in a time of need,” Diamond said. “There’s no reason our law shouldn’t be a little more flexible.”

Diamond said his intention is to allow law enforcement agencies to collect donations only under certain extenuating circumstances affecting an officer or their family, such as severe illness or other catastrophic event, or to help the families of officers killed in the line of duty. To ensure no member of the public is inadvertently intimidated into donating, the bill will also be designed to prohibit uniformed officers from directly soliciting donations themselves.

“Police officers, sheriff’s deputies, state troopers and other law enforcement officials work hard every day to keep us safe,” Diamond said. “The least we can do is give them the ability to take care of their own when tragedy strikes.”

Hole-in-one at Hope-JG Foundation Golf Scramble - By Michelle Libby



Michael L. Coyne of Portland did what all golfers aspire to and many duffers dream about, he got a hole-in-one at The Hope-JG Foundation annual golf scramble last Tuesday at Val Halla Golf Course in Cumberland. This was his fifth hole-in-one. 

The shot, on the 11th hole, was 150-yards and by getting the hole-in-one, he won $20,000.
The 11th hole in one-in-one
Coyne described the whole day as a lucky break. “I got invited at the last minute, was late getting to the course and his team had already started playing the 11th hole.” One of the balls was already two feet from the pin, but they convinced him to take the shot anyway. “I never knew the hole was for $20,000,” he said. It was his first shot of the day. 

“I don’t want the money. I’m giving it back by dividing it into four different charities,” said Coyne, who owns MC Construction Company, Inc. 

The money will be donated to the foundation sponsoring the tournament, which raises money to support the fight against ALS also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”, ASPCA, a college fund for youth archery at Lakeside Archery and the rest would go into a college fund for his grandson.
Coyne has played professionally, but wasn’t at the time of this shot. Keeping the money would make him a pro again, he said, which he didn’t want. 

“The money’s not going to alter my life or change my life in any way,” he added. As soon as the word of his lucky shot hit Facebook, he started getting texts, calls and emails from people wanting to borrow money, he said. 

He will give the money away and move onto his next match. 

During the week, he continued his winning streak by winning a member guest at Sable Oaks and tying for first in his golf league at Sable Oaks.

 John Gregoire, co-founder of The Hope-JG Foundation, and Michael L. Coyne pose with the $20,000 hole-in-one check.

August 19, 2016

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The MSSPA - A new kind of matchmaker - By Stacie Hutchinson



We have all heard of the type of matchmaking that attempts to bring together two, hopefully compatible, individuals in the anticipation of falling madly, and deeply in love and thereby living happily ever after. The Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals (MSSPA) in Windham, is hoping to make a different kind of love connection - not one of two lovelorn human beings, but one of human and horse. 

Since 1872, the MSSPA has sought to protect and care for our equine friends, beginning with those that worked so hard pulling Portland’s streetcars and fire trucks. Today, the MSSPA rescues horses that have, sadly, been neglected or abused, with the ultimate goal of rehabilitation and rehoming them. 

Although, the MSSPA has had an adoption program in place for years, it focuses solely on those horses housed at the facility. Each year, across the State of Maine, the number of horses who need caring and loving homes rises at a troubling rate, and as a consequence, equine rescue centers struggle to keep up with the need. As the number of horses being relinquished increases, so does the number of calls from desperate horse owners to the MSSPA requesting help. However, due to the MSSPA’s board of director’s criteria, criteria that maintains that the society may only accept animals which are rendered by law enforcement, they cannot help these owners. 
 
The MSSPA recognized the growing demand and wanted to find a solution. “These are owners who are trying to do the right thing, and we want to help them,” stated MSSPA assistant CEO, Kathy Woodbrey. 

So, as a stop gap measure (and hopefully a long term solution), the MSSPA chose to modernize a method that Marilyn Goodreau, has been using for years - an index-card matchmaking system. And, in today’s social-media driven society, what better way to bring this system into the 21st century than by creating a Facebook page? 

MSSPA’s “Maine Horse Matchmaker” Facebook page, dedicated to the rehoming (not the sale) of horses that are no longer able to live with their owners, went live at the end of 2015. The social media page and the MSSPA act solely as an introduction; a matchmaker between horse owner and interested parties. In fact, prospective adopters are asked to contact the owner directly, not the MSSPA. Although, the horse will be posted (after MSSPA approval) on the Facebook page, owners do not need to have a Facebook account, nor do they need to be social media or tech savvy. The MSSPA will accept listings over the telephone, making it as user friendly as possible.

At last count the Facebook page, according to Alana Thornton, MSSPA’s development coordinator, “... is reaching about 3,000 and has 815 followers.” 

Since its inception, many horses have been posted (and matches have been made) by using “Maine Horse Matchmaker”, however, the success of this program rests partly on increasing its reach throughout the state as well as increasing the awareness of those horse owners who need to rehome their animals. 

For more information about the farm or the “Maine Horse Matchmaker” program, call 207-892-3040 or visit www.msspa.org.

The MSSPA farm is located at 279 River Road in Windham and is open to the public daily and welcomes tours and individual visits.