June 24, 2022

Residents approve East Windham Conservation Project during Annual Town Meeting

Three Windham Town Councilors, from left, Ed Ohmott, 
Mark Morrison, and Jarrod Maxfield, vote in favor of a town
warrant article during Windham's Annual Town Meeting on
June 18 at Windham High School. At the meeting, town
residents approved the town budget for 2022-2023 and also
approved a bond using open space impact fees to help
purchase 661 acres near Little Duck Pond in East Windham
to create a new outdoor recreational area.
By Ed Pierce

Along with approving a near $38 million annual budget and associated warrant articles during the annual town meeting on June 18 at Windham High School, residents also voted to allow Windham to enter into a partnership with Presumpscot Regional Land Trust to purchase and conserve 661 acres near Little Duck Pond in East Windham.

The East Windham Conservation Project would acquire the forested acreage for recreational opportunities in Windham while also adding 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond, the 150-acre Deer Wintering Area for hunting, and the 580-foot Atherton Hill, the tallest hill in Windham.

Earlier this month, the Lands for Maine’s Future organization awarded the East Windham Conservation project $998,000 to help fund the initiative. The project will directly abut more than 1,000 acres of other conserved land in Windham and Falmouth, including Lowell Preserve, North Falmouth Community Forest, and Blackstrap Hill Preserve, providing 20 miles of interconnected trails and five trailheads for public access, and amounting to one of the largest unfragmented forests in the Greater Portland region.

Voters approved a bond to match the LMF award with open space impact fees so there will be no impact upon the mil rate for local homeowners. The project will preserve a part of Windham that residents have identified is an important area to conserve during increasing concerns about local development, offers scenic views of the western mountains and offers a place for outdoor recreation.

Amanda Lessard, Town of Windham Planning Director, said that in the latest Open Space Plan, Windham identified this area of East Windham as important to conserve for its large undeveloped habitat blocks, preservation of rural character and water quality protection.

Lessard said that Windham has been collaborating with the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust over the past six months to engage the community on developing a vision for this property.

“With guidance from the steering committee, we held two community meetings, site walks of the property, and put out a town-wide survey that had 900 responses,” she said. “The top-ranked community benefit identified by the survey was to conserve the land to remain undeveloped for wildlife habitat, water quality protection and rural character. The second-highest ranked community benefit was to provide multiple-use outdoor recreation and create access for the whole community. Finally, the top four highest-ranked activities that will bring respondents to this land once it is conserved are walking, hiking, visiting an observation tower with 360-degree views including scenic views of the White Mountains.”

The plan envisions a year-round trail head parking area, multi-use trails, access to fishing, hunting and wildlife observation area, a universal access trail connecting from Falmouth Road to Little Duck Pond and Atherton Hill, an observation tower that will provide scenic views to Casco Bay and Mount Washington, and destinations with scenic views of the western mountains and the pond.

Rachelle Curran Apse, Executive Director of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, said that the land trust is grateful to be partnering with the town of Windham to conserve the area for the future.

She said that the Land Trust will lead a private fundraising effort over the summer to raise the remaining funds needed to conserve the land and that support and donations will be needed to finalize the project.

The bond for the conservation project was just one of a series of town budget warrant articles which were approved during the meeting.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbets told those in attendance that while town revenues are up $1.5 million, excise taxes, building permits and other revenues are expected to be flat or down for the coming year. He said revenue sharing from the state has been set at $2.5 million, with Windham expected to receive about $1.63 million from Cumberland County.

Tibbetts said TIF funding for the year ahead also is expected to be flat because of anticipated expenditures for local access road funding and for the North Windham wastewater project. The approved budget takes into account increases in labor relations contracts, and general health and benefit increases coupled with the RSU 14 budget.

The 2022-2023 town budget also includes the expense of adding six fire-EMS personnel, and fixed cost increases from rising electric and fuel expenses, along with medical and dental contractual obligations, bonding, and capital equipment leases. The budget also funds other initiatives in Windham such as intersection engineering for River Road/Route 202; preliminary development of a Northwest Fire Station; Firewall and Switch Replacement for municipal buildings; creating a Public Safety Memorial at Windham’s Public Safety Building; records conservation; Collinwood Circle and Running Brook Development; purchase of a recreation storage container; and providing reserves for capital projects and bonding.

Several residents attending the meeting also inquired about the status of the trash and recycling contract for the town and if the Pay As You Throw program will be eliminated.

Tibbetts said that the town is still negotiating with Pine Tree Waste, Inc., also known as Casella Waste, on a new contract to replace the one that expires next year. He said the contractor wants to modify the contract because of staffing issues to require separate bins for trash and recyclables which can be emptied mechanically by a single truck operator but that nothing has been settled yet.

According to Tibbetts, the new budget includes funding for new trash and recycle bins for the town if needed.

During the town meeting, attorney Stephen Langsdorf of the law firm Preti Flaherty was elected as moderator to preside over the gathering. <

Windham Summerfest proves to be spectacular family event

Windham Cub Scouts from Pack 805 march in the annual
Summerfest Parade on Saturday, June 18 on Route 202 near
Windham High School. Thousands attended this year's
Summerfest festivities which marked its return following
two years of pandemic restrictions.
By Collette Hayes

Windham Summerfest 2022 returned live this year after two years because of the pandemic. It was a fun-filled day bringing “Unity to the Community” as well as highlighting what makes Windham a spectacular community to visit and to live.

A festive crowd lined Route 202 on Saturday morning, June 18 to watch Windham’s Summerfest parade as it slowly made its way down to Windham High School. Windham Public Works’ huge trucks blew their horns, Disney characters danced their way down the street, including that rascal Jack Sparrow, and beauty queens waved from cars all to the delight of smiling children who cheered and waved as the parade participants past.

According to Summerfest Committee member Karen Rumo, during the pandemic the Summerfest committee spent hours coming up with virtual activities for community members. This year Summerfest committee members organized an event that was live and on track including vendors, crafters, performances and all kinds of informative and fun demonstrations throughout the day.

“I have been involved with Summerfest for several years, even way back when it was called Windham Old Home Days, which was a big festival including amusement park rides,” said Rumo. “The last few years we have had to work around the pandemic and do most things virtual, but we are particularly excited this year now we are back live. Summerfest is a time for the community to come together and to be together. We want to thank the committee members Deb and Tom Matthews, Barb Maurais, Ed Ohmott and Aaron Pieper for all their hard work. Also, we want to thank our sponsors and the volunteers that made all of this possible.”

Windham Summerfest allows businesses and non-profit organizations to promote and market their latest products, services and expertise. Maine resident and Summerfest crafter Christina Mason lives and travels full time across the country in a camper selling her customed-designed mugs.

“I design all of the artwork digitally that is on the products in my booth,” said Mason. “I have been doing this for three years, but it’s hard to stand out because the market is so saturated. After I started traveling across the country to events like Summerfest, my business took off. “

A K-9 demonstration, car show, live music performances and a golf ball drop were also part of the daylong event.

According to Ed Getty, one of the directors of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, golf balls were sold by the chamber for $10 each for a drawing to win 20 percent of money collected in donations. 236 golf balls were sold and dropped by the fire department and Windham Town Councilor Mark Morrison’s golf ball came closest to the pin and Morrison was awarded $472 in prize money.

“The golf ball drawing is to support the Chamber of Commerce and all of the charities the Chamber supports such as Feed the Need, said Getty.

Live music filled the air as Trawl, a Funk Metal Band took the stage at 1 p.m. Trawl was followed by Cryin’ Out Loud, an energizing band featuring four dynamic vocalists, and in the evening Motor Booty Affair brought crowd members to their feet as they played 1970s and 1980s hits as well as R&B.

Windham resident Sarah Girard attends Summerfest every year. Her family enjoys how the event brings the community together.

“We look forward to Summerfest every year,” said Girard. “It allows us to see our friends and to have fun. Our favorite thing about Summerfest is the music. We love Motor Booty Affair and are looking forward to the evening concert.”

The festivities all lead up to the grand finale, a spectacular fireworks show, which illuminated the night time sky with fire, sparkle and color bringing Windham’s 2022 Summerfest to a close.

Windham’s Summerfest will be held next year on June 24, 2023. <

Windham Special Olympians earn gold medal in Orono

Windham's Special Olympics team competed
in the Maine Special Olympics on June 11
at the University of Maine at Orono. Back,
from left, are AJ Mains, Coach Wyatt LeBlanc,
Austin Rice, Coach Amanda Pope, Coach Anne
Blake, Ryleigh Geary, Coach Margaret Dionne,
and Cameron Malone. Front, from left, are Dani 
Iaconeta, and Mary Jean. SUBMITTED PHOTO   
By Ed Pierce

A team from Windham turned in an exceptional performance during the Maine Special Olympics competition in Orono on June 11 and brought home a gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay race.

Windham athletes competed at the University of Maine in Orono in the running long jump, the softball throw and several running events during the competition, which drew participating Special Olympics athletes from throughout Maine.

Special Olympics is a global organization that serves athletes with intellectual disabilities working with hundreds of thousands of volunteers and coaches each year. Since the establishment of Special Olympics in 1968, the number of people with and without intellectual disabilities who are involved with the organization has been growing, but the unmet need to reach more people with intellectual disabilities is ongoing.

The Maine Special Olympics organization provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These activities provide the athletes with continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and to participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship.

This year’s Special Olympics team from Windham included AJ Mains, Dani Iaconeta, Austin Rice, Cameron Malone, Ryleigh Geary, and Mary Jean and was coached by Anne Blake, a physical therapist from RSU 14. Assisting Blake were coaches Margaret Dionne, Amanda Pope, and Wyatt LeBlanc.

Blake said that Windham’s team was made up of athletes from Special Olympians from Windham High School and Windham Middle School and qualified for the state-level competition after turning in an outstanding performance at the Cumberland County Special Olympics Regional Meet on May 6 at Bonny Eagle High School. 

According to Blake, qualifying for and then competing in the state meet was memorable for all members of the Windham team.

“It was truly amazing to see all of the athletes there participating once again,” Blake said. “There has not been a state-level competition for several years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

She said the most challenging aspect for the team prior to the Maine Special Olympics was gathering and submitting all the necessary paperwork for the Windham athletes.

“Because this is a national organization, they are very stringent and need to ensure that the athletes have intellectual and other disabilities and meet the qualifying rationale to be able to compete,” Blake said.

At the Cumberland County Special Olympic Regionals in May, Windham fielded a team that included students in elementary school, middle school and high school, but for the state competition they could only take middle school and high school students.

Blake said that Windham has had a Special Olympics team for the past decade, but because of COVID-19 concerns and restrictions, the Maine Special Olympics was canceled in both 2020 and 2021.

This year though was a much different story and Windham showcased its talent with the 4x100-meter relay team dashing to first place among other state competitors.

“All athletes did a superb job,” Blake said. “The team would like to thank the Windham Boosters Club for their support.”

To close out its trip to Orono, the Windham team and coaches ended the day with a well-deserved and fun-filled team dinner at the 99 Restaurant. <

WMS eighth-grade band and orchestra receive gold rating at festival

The Windham Middle School Band, shown here, along with
the Windham Middle School Orchestra, each received gold
ratings from judges during the Great East Music Festival at
the Methuen Memorial Music Hall in Methuen, Massachusetts
By Masha Yurkevich 

After coming to a halt because of COVID-19 during the pandemic, the Great East Music Festival is back up and running, and on Saturday, June 4, the eighth-grade Windham Middle School band and orchestra went to perform before a panel of judges, drawing strong reviews.

This year, the festival was held at Methuen Memorial Music Hall, in Methuen, Massachusetts and a total of 30 WMS students from band and orchestra took part in the event under the leadership of conductor Morgan Riley, WMS band, orchestra and choir director and music teacher.

“This festival is for each group to get the highest rating possible: bronze, silver, gold or platinum,” Riley said. “Each group goes home with a plaque indicating their rating.”

For nearly the past 40 years, the Great East Music Festival has provided engaging, high quality and memorable performances and experiences to schools across New England and beyond. The event is non-competitive and takes place in an educational atmosphere.

Following the performance, an adjudicator works with the group for about five to seven minutes, providing feedback and comments. Another judge then presents the award and offers any additional comments.

Riley said she’s been taking students to the Great East Music Festival for the past five years and each year, all of the groups have earned gold ratings. The last time they attended a Great East Music Festival was in May 2019 as COVID-19 halted the festival from being held for the last two years.

As their musical selections for the festival this year, the WMS band played an upbeat "March of Freedom", by John Edmondson and "The Best of Queen", a medley of three classic Queen tunes arranged by Paul Murtha.

The orchestra preformed "Viola Country" by Richard Meyer, featuring the fantastic viola section, and the slower, more lyrical "Colors of the Wind" from the Disney movie Pocohontas, composed by Alan Menken and arranged by Stephen Schwartz.

“The challenge this time was instrumentation for band,” said Riley. “COVID stopped us from playing wind instruments together all last year, causing many students to drop band class. We were lucky enough to have one musician on each instrument for this festival, but that left no room for error on the part of the students.”

The band used percussion instruments to continue musical studies during the previous school year (2020-2021).

This continued progress in rhythm reading and performing, ensemble skills, and playing parts independently, really helped them this school year, Riley said. The WMS Orchestra had a full complement of violins, violas and cellos.

“We hadn't performed for a live audience in two years, and it was wonderful to get back to it,” said Riley. “Both the band and orchestra did a wonderful job, and both received gold ratings from the judges.

According to Riley, Rose Underkofler, the orchestra and chorus teacher at Jordan-Small Middle School and Manchester School was key to the success of this trip as she helped prepare students for the festival.

After the music festival part of the trip, the band and orchestra visited Canobie Lake Park, in Salem, New Hampshire, to spend the rest of the day celebrating their wonderful achievement and success. <

Community welcome to attend Wireless Society of Southern Maine’s Field Day

A participant in the Wireless Society of Southern Maine's
Amateur Radio Field Day tries out communications
equipment during last year's open house event in Scarborough.
This year's free Amateur Radio Field Day and open house will
run from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25 at the Wassamki Springs
Campground in Scarborough. COURTESY PHOTO    
Members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine are set to participate in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercises on June 25 and June 26 at Wassamki Springs Campground, 56 Saco St. in Scarborough. The public is encouraged to attend from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 26.

For more than 100 years, amateur radio – sometimes called ham radio – has allowed people from all walks of life to experiment with electronics and communications techniques, as well as provide a free public service to their communities during a disaster. The annual Field Day events demonstrate ham radio operators’ ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent communications network.

More than 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated in Field Day events across the nation last year.

“Field Day is part emergency communications exercise and part competition, where we accumulate points and test our operating skills against other clubs and individuals around the U.S. and Canada,” says Wireless Society of Southern Maine President Brad Brown, Jr. of North Waterboro.

During the event, participants will try to earn points by meeting specific goals as outlined by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). Some of these include handling and delivering messages, hosting educational activities and making contacts with other amateurs through various methods, such as voice, telegraphy, satellites and digital modes. 

“This is a fun event that gives us an opportunity to share our passion with the community and to improve our operating skills, all while getting everyone out there and on the air,” says Brown.

Field Day, which has taken place annually since 1933, is designed to test radio operators’ ability to quickly setup and operate portable stations in emergency conditions.

“The entire operation will exclusively use emergency power sources like batteries or solar energy, in order to simulate how things would be during a catastrophic event,” said club vice president Peter Hatem, of Scarborough. “The public should be aware that in the event of an emergency, we're ready to assist in any way that we can. While people may have the impression that cell phones and other technologies are good enough, we stand by as a trained pool of experienced radio operators to provide the vital communication services others may not. Hams have provided emergency communications during hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, blackouts and other disasters, where more complex and fragile communications systems, such as cell networks, have failed or become overloaded.”

The Wireless Society of Southern Maine’s Emergency Communications Team provides auxiliary communications support to the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency located on High Street in Windham and its members are also active in supporting the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN program in Gray.

“Last year, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, using call sign WS1SM, recorded the highest Field Day score in Maine and we hope to do well again this year,” says Brown. “The public is welcome to attend the event and if anyone is interested in learning more about the hobby, we’ll be glad to help.”

Anyone can become a licensed amateur radio operator. There are more than 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 5 and as old as 100.

The Wireless Society of Southern Maine is ready to help anyone get involved and licensed right here in Scarborough. The club meets on the second Thursday of each month at the Scarborough Public Safety Building, 275 U.S. Route 1 in Scarborough.

For more information about this year’s Field Day, and amateur radio in general, visit http://www.mainehamradio.com <

June 17, 2022

Voters in Windham and Raymond make voices heard on Primary Day


By Ed Pierce

Maine Primary Day saw steady turnout in both Windham and Raymond as important issues were decided and candidates were chosen for the general election in November.

Voting in Windham was conducted at the Windham High School's Auxiliary Gym with voters in Raymond casting ballots at Jordan-Small Middle School. Voters in both Windham and Raymond were asked to approve or reject the RSU 14 proposed budget with Windham voters also asked to approve or reject a proposed sewer project for North Windham.

The Town of Windham’s referendum to create a sewer and wastewater treatment facility for North Windham was overwhelming approved by voters with 71 percent, or 1,499 in favor, and 590 voting to reject the proposal. Another sewer project for North Windham was voted down 10 years ago by Windham voters. 

Windham voters also approved both questions on the ballot related to the RSU 14 budget, with Question 1 tallying 1,570 votes for and 537 against and Question 2 being approved by a margin of 1,514 to 579. 

Following Tuesday’s Primary, candidates who will advance to the general election this fall are:

State Senate District 26

Gary Plummer (Republican)
Timothy Nangle (Democrat)

State Representative District 106

Barbara Bagshaw (Republican)
Jonathan Priest (Democrat)

Bagshaw defeated Tom Tyler in the Republican Primary by a margin of 371 to 177. Tyler had formerly served two different terms in the Maine House representing Windham, while Bagshaw is running for state representative for the first time.

State Representative District 107

Paul Fullam (Democrat)
Michael Hall (Republican)

According to Raymond Town Clerk Sue Look, all but one of the 15 Town Warrant items on this year’s ballot regarding the annual town budget and taxation rate for the coming year were passed by voters in Raymond. 

The question "Do you support allowing adult use and medical marijuana establishments to operate in the Town of Raymond and the development of an ordinance to regulate the location and operation of those uses?" was defeated by voters with 341 opposed to 329 in favor of the measure. 

Look said that the RSU 14 school budget was also approved by Raymond voters with Budget Question 1 passing 481 to 181 and Question 2 receiving 514 votes to 135 opposed.

Raymond candidates advancing to the general election in November include:

State Representative District 86

Jessica Fay (Democrat)
Greg Foster (Republican)

Foster defeated challenger Karen Lockwood for the Republican nomination to represent District 86 in the Maine House, 231 to 76.

Raymond Select Board (two seats for three-year terms) 

Rolf Olsen and Teresa Sadak

Raymond Budget-Finance Committee (three seats for three-year terms)

Deanna Lee and Karen Lockwood. Shawn McKillop received 15 write-in votes and will fill the third seat on the Budget-Finance Committee.

RSU 14 Board of Directors (one seat for a three-year term)

Charlotte Jewell

RSU 14 Board of Directors (one seat for a one-year term)

Jodi Carroll

Kevin Joyce (Cumberland County Sheriff) and Paul Aranson (Judge of Probate) were unopposed on Primary Day for Cumberland County positions.

Incumbent Jonathan Sahrbeck was defeated by Jacqueline Sartoris in his bid to earn the Democratic nomination as Cumberland County District Attorney for District 2. <

Maine’s largest chair built by two brothers in Raymond

Two brothers living in Raymond, Jakob and 
Franck Holz, have built Maine's largest chair
standing 16 feet 9 inches tall, 7 feet wide and
10 feet long. The chair has become an instant
tourist attraction on Meadow Road
By Masha Yurkevich

As vacationland gets warmer and people start coming to relax and enjoy the great beauties of the wonderful state of Maine, there is a new local tourist attraction in Raymond that can be seen from a great distance away and attracts many people, Maine’s largest chair. Making the 12-foot Big Easy Chair, located in Kittery, look like just a toy; this new chair stands at 7 feet wide, 10 feet long and 16 feet, 9 inches tall.

Two brothers, Jakob and Franck Holz, got the idea to build this chair.

“My brother is temporarily visiting me and we wanted a wholesome productive project that we could do together,” said Holz. “I live on the Raymond Neck which has numerous seasonal places on the way to Frye Island, and we thought it would help give a vacation vibe to the area.”

At age 34, Jakob Holz grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Maine in 2010 to work for Shipyard Brewing Company. He has moved around to different states while working for Shipyard and is currently their Lead and R&D Brewer. A Green Bay Packer fan, avid hiker and backpacker, he enjoys traveling outside the country and visited Vietnam and Israel right before the COVID-19 pandemic. He enjoys living in the Sebago Lakes region and is also a member of the Naples American Legion.

“I have a love of the world’s and also the state’s largest and smallest items,” said Holz.

Maine has quite a few, such as the globe, Native American and the L.L. Bean Boot in Freeport.

“It’s fun; ridiculous, touristy, family oriented, road trip kind of fun. I have an amateur passion working with wood. I did my kitchen table and a liquor cabinet, coffee table, shelves, and little DIY projects,” said Holz. “The world's largest was way too big, but Maine’s largest could be done.”

Holz has built other work with wood before the chair. Everything he has ever made is inside his house, other than this chair and his “Holz Manor” sign under his mailbox.

His brother, Franck Holz, is 32 and also grew up in Wisconsin. He, like his brother, shares a love to travel and always takes a good amount of time off to travel the country and the world. He also has a passion for sports, especially the Green Bay Packers, and enjoys working on firearms in his free time.

Putting their two minds together, it took the brothers two weekends to build this chair, one weekend spent building the frame and the next weekend completing the rest, finishing it in April. The chair is built from wood with some nuts, bolts and nails. The frame is made mostly from 3 by 6 lumber and the rest of the chair is made by using 2 by 10s, resulting in a huge chair that has become a local curiosity displayed in the Holz front yard.

“Even with inflation on wood and everything else, it was only $200 to build,” Jakob Holz said. “I’m frugal in general and I am always looking for deals. You have to think outside the box when building and also look for materials. Some local lumber yards helped us out.”

Woodworking is a skill passed down in the Holz family. Their grandfather, Frank Stilp of Neenah, Wisconsin, was a professional woodworker, specializing in Quaker woodworking. Their father, who lives in Ripon, Wisconsin was a cabinet maker for some time and has always been a woodworker who loves making Whirligigs with wood. At Christmas, he plays Santa Claus and loves making wooden toys as presents.

“My last name HOLZ is German and means wood as well,” said Holz.

The Holz brothers said that their purpose of building the chair was because they wanted people to stop by and take pictures and help create memories. “People are more than welcome to stop and take pictures,” said Holz. “

For anyone who has any ideas on the next Maine’s largest project for the Holz brothers, the brothers say that they can mail it to them at their home. Their chair and home can be found at 34 Hawthorne Road in Raymond. <