February 15, 2019

School is out for break and science is in at the Raymond Village Library

In addition to science projects, you can read with Lucy the dog
By Briana Bizier

February vacation begins Monday, February 18, and the Raymond Village Library is here to help! There will be plenty of programs to keep children of any age entertained and even educated over the school break.

The library will be open during regular business hours on Monday from nine in the morning until six in the afternoon. If you haven’t stopped by the Raymond Village Library in a few months, or even a few years, you might be surprised by what you’ll find. In addition to books and plenty of cozy spots to read, including bean bags on the floor, the library has a wide selection of games and puzzles. Older children might enjoy the library’s oversized Scrabble board while younger children love the building sets. We also have a microscope for scientific exploration and DASH the programmable robot. Come in anytime on Monday to explore.

On Wednesday, February 20, the Raymond Village Library is hosting two special science presentations! At 10:30 in the Raymond Public Safety Building, Mad Science will present Fire and Ice. Participants will explore the three states of matter while learning about the amazing properties of fire and the power of combustion. Children will see how secret Mad Science paper can burn leaving no ash behind, and their jaws will drop when they witness the “Swoosh, Whoosh, Aaaah” experiment. After some fizzing chemical reactions heat things up, we will cool off with spectacular demonstrations involving dry ice.

https://reps.modernwoodmen.org/zconley/At three on Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Nick Bizier, the Honors and AP chemistry teacher at Windham High School, will present the Science of Slime. Dr. Bizier will explain how the common household cleaning supply Borax can be used to make both beautiful, solid crystals and goopy, fun slime. Participants will have the opportunity to create their own slime.

In addition to all our science fun, the Raymond Village Library will also be hosting Lucy the therapy reading dog on Wednesday, February 20th. Beginning at 1:30, Lucy will be available for an hour of reading with children. Many aspiring readers find Lucy to be an attentive and non-judgmental audience as they build the skills required for literacy. Even shy readers can feel comfortable reading aloud to Lucy as she listens patiently at their feet. Readers who share a story with Lucy will earn a certificate, and they can add their name to our wall of readers.

Please note, preregistration is required for both the science demonstrations and reading to Lucy the therapy dog. Contact the library at (207) 655-4283 to reserve your spot today!

Thwarting criminals seeking to steal Americans’ tax refunds

By Sen. Susan M. Collins

In January 2015, Rick Zaccaro and Bonnie Washuk, a married couple here in Maine, filed their federal income taxes. Rick, a retired financial analyst for the Postal Service, checked the status of their return online in early February and learned that they were the victims of identity theft. Someone had filed and claimed a tax refund using their names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers.

That fraudulent claim was paid by the IRS while their legitimate tax filing, with the refund they were due, was stuck in limbo.

It took months of worrying, frozen bank accounts, and many calls to multiple government offices for the couple to straighten things out. When they finally did receive their overdue tax refund from the IRS, they also received something called an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number – better known as an IP PIN.

Last year, Americans submitted nearly 142 million individual tax returns to the IRS, of which about 75 percent were eligible for a refund. With the arrival of tax season, criminals will once again use this opportunity to begin filing fraudulent tax returns in an attempt to steal the refunds that are due to legitimate taxpayers.  While the IRS has made significant progress in combating identity theft refund fraud, it continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing the agency.

https://www.orangecircuitfitness.com/Identity theft refund fraud cost victims a total of $1.7 billion in stolen refunds in 2016 alone.  Millions of American families depend on this money to pay off debts, settle medical bills, or plug gaps in the family budget. Worst of all, victims are often the most vulnerable. In 2010, for example, 76,000 low-income senior citizens were victims of this theft.  

Criminals have figured out that in many instances it is cheaper and easier for them to steal taxpayers’ identities and hijack their tax refunds than it is to traffic in drugs or rob banks.  The thieves make sure to file early, as soon as the tax season opens in January, to increase their odds that they can get a refund before the real taxpayer, who is entitled to the refund, files his or her return. 

The IP PIN provided to Rick and Bonnie after their harrowing experience is an effective way to prevent this fraud.  An IP PIN is a unique six-digit number that allows tax returns and refunds to be processed without delay and helps prevent the misuse of an individual’s Social Security Number on fraudulent income tax returns.

Here’s how it works. If a return is e-filed with an individual’s Social Security number and an incorrect or missing IP PIN, the IRS’s system automatically rejects that tax return until it is submitted with the correct IP PIN or it is filed on paper.  If the same conditions occur on a paper-filed return, the IRS will delay its processing and any refund that may be due while the agency verifies the filer’s identity.

https://www.raveiscareers.com/Until recently, IP PINs were only available to previous victims of identity theft and to all residents of Florida, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.  Recently, the IRS announced that it expanded eligibility for its IP PIN pilot program to taxpayers in California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Rhode Island. These states have the highest per-capita percentage of tax-related identity theft in the country. In preparation for last year’s filing season, the IRS issued nearly 3.5 million IP PINs to taxpayers, up from 770,000 in 2013.  Within just a month, the IRS rejected nearly 7,400 fraudulent tax returns that had been filed electronically, and by mid-March had stopped nearly 1,500 fraudulent paper tax returns.

The IP PIN system works, and it is time to extend this optional protection to all taxpayers.  I have introduced the Taxpayer Identity Protection Act to expand and make permanent the IRS’s IP PIN pilot program across the nation over the next five years.  My bipartisan bill would take concrete action to help ensure that tax refunds are sent to the taxpayers who are entitled to these refunds, not misdirected to criminals who are seeking to rip-off American taxpayers.

February 8, 2019

Rep. Mark Bryant sponsors bill to support veterans’ organizations

Bryant is sponsoring a bill to make veterans organizations exempt from obtaining a commercial beano hall permit when renting out facilities to organizations already registered to conduct beano or bingo games.

“Veterans organizations are able to organize events and support charitable causes by hosting fundraising events throughout the year. Beano or bingo games are a major way that these organizations are able to meet their fundraising goals,” Bryant said at the public hearing. “Requiring veterans’ organizations to pay both a fee to conduct beano events and a fee to host beano events is redundant and this redundancy takes away from their core mission to support Maine veterans, their families and the local community.”

Many veterans’ organizations rely on beano games in order to fundraise for charities and local events commemorating Memorial Day and Veterans Day. This bill would allow veterans organizations to maximize their funds for their charitable, community-building work.

Seventy-third Dirigo Boys State and Girls State 2019: A week that can shape a lifetime.

It is time again for local high school juniors to be thinking about going to Boys State and Girls State. Last year American Legion Field-Allen Post and ALA Unit 148 of Windham sent five juniors from the local area and Windham High School to either Boys or Girls State. 

The local Legion Post and Auxiliary are looking for highly motivated junior boys and girls to attend the 73rd Dirigo Boys or Girls State to be held in June, the week beginning the 16th. 

The Girls State Convention will be held at Husson University in Bangor June 16 to 21 while the   Boys State is scheduled for Thomas College in Waterville, June 16 to 20. The state conventions provide opportunities for qualified Maine juniors to participate in programs that supplement high school courses and to provide a better understand of the process and responsibilities of government. 

This year’s emphasis will be the interaction between government and the community. Attendees role-play varies government positions as they learn to campaign for state office and organize and carry out the functions of government. This is an amazing opportunity for our young adults to learn about how government works.

https://www.egcu.orgSponsorship is through the American Legion, Department of Maine, with the local Field-Allen
Legion Family (Post and Auxiliary) providing all financial support except transportation to the Convention. Again, there is no direct cost to the participants who are selected for the programs
beyond transportation cost to the respective colleges.

Organizations, businesses or individuals wishing to sponsor a student may do so by contacting Field-Allen Post Financial Officer, Dave Tanguay (892-1306) for details. Full or partial sponsorships are welcome.

This is the first in a series of informational articles about the American Legion Family Youth Program, Boys State and Girls State.

More information will be available soon at the Windham High School Guidance Office or through your local American Legion Post Commander, Mel Greenier (892-7449) or Auxiliary President, Pam Whynot (892-4720).

Breakout: Fun and educational problem-solving teamwork

Chase McPherson, Annamaria Condon and Shiba Haddadi
By Lanet Hane

These problem-solving puzzles are popping up all over the country, with at least three locations in Portland alone. They are designed as group experiences and are often used to help build camaraderie and teamwork, though they are also a great deal of fun to do on a weekend with a group of friends or family.

Teachers at Windham High School, with the assistance of Instructional Technology Leader Natalie
Skovran, are in their third year of making use of the excitement around Escape Rooms to construct more engaging learning opportunities for students. Breakouts, the school’s version, are activities similar to escape rooms but remodeled for the classroom environment as locked boxes that students must solve clues to open.

“The games require students to work collaboratively if they are to succeed in decoding the puzzles and open the locks on the box before time runs out. While the students may not all see each clue as they work to solve the puzzles, they are rewarded if they use their critical thinking skills and work cooperatively to troubleshoot problems,” stated Skovran, “Either the whole class breaks out and gets the prize that is locked in the box, or nobody does!”

While there is a digital library of pre-created options in various content areas, many teachers choose to create their own games that directly relate to a particular lesson.

Among those who created their own versions is English teacher Mike Levine, who recently used the Breakout concept as a means to introduce students to their next book of study, The Alchemist.
“Breakouts offer students a fun and interactive way to gain preliminary exposure to pre-reading information needed to access literature that takes place in a different time period and/or culture,”
Levine said.

The Instructional Technology Leader position was developed by Windham High School four years ago as a way to provide much needed resources to teachers wanting to incorporate more technology into their instructional methodology. Along with assisting in the implementation of activities like these Breakouts, Ms. Skovran shares new technological options with faculty and helps lead lessons integrating new software in classrooms.

Fiscal responsibility in state government a top priority

By Senator Bill Diamond

I know many folks are concerned about taxes. There has been a lot of discussion in the media about new ideas and proposals that may raise taxes to fund new programs. I want to assure you all that resisting raising taxes continues to be my top priority, along with many of my colleagues in the legislature. Please don’t think that just because one legislator proposes raising taxes that many of us will go along with it – several of us don’t.

If a new program is introduced that costs money, it must be funded in a fiscally responsible way — that is, within existing revenue streams and without raiding the state’s “rainy day fund.”

One new proposal would fund 12 weeks of paid medical leave by creating a .5% surtax on worker earnings. I support paid family leave, but this is the wrong way to do it. The governors of Vermont and New Hampshire recently announced a joint plan to support six weeks of paid family medical leave, and did so without raising taxes. We can do the same in Maine.

Another proposal I have seen would create a tax on certain fuels based on their carbon content. I know how much of a struggle high heating oil bills can be for folks, and this would only make that worse. There is no way I could support a proposal that would raise the price of heating fuel.

http://fiddleheadcenter.org/index.htmlRecent years have seen proposals to raise or otherwise expand sales taxes. I firmly oppose doing so, because low-income families pay a disproportionate amount of their income in sales taxes compared with those who are better off. We cannot fund state government on the backs of low- and middle- several bills that propose allowing municipalities to raise additional revenue through local sales taxes. The problem with these proposals is that some communities will be paying even higher taxes than they do currently.
income families. This year, there are

We’ve seen several attempts in the past few years to raise taxes through the referendum process. This includes Question 1 this past year, which would have increased taxes on households making over $128,400 by 1.9%, and an additional 1.9% to be paid by their employer. For small businesses where the employee and employer are the same person, this is a double whammy that amounts to a 3.8% tax increase. I spoke out strongly against this proposal and was glad to see it defeated at the ballot box.  

There is also a bill in this year that would add a 3% income tax surcharge on incomes over $200,000 per year in order to increase education funding. If increasing education funding is a priority, we should find the money within existing revenue streams, not raise taxes. Like Question 1, this would have the biggest impact on small businesses, who very much need our support to get by and pay their employees.

I want you all to know that despite the many new proposals to raise taxes for new, well-intentioned programs, my preference is to set priorities that can be funded within our existing budget and not resort to raising taxes.

Maine families and small businesses pay a lot in taxes, and it’s my goal to reduce that burden. If you have any ideas, questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office at 287-1515 or diamondhollyd@aol.com. My line is always open to you.

Caregiver Connections group to provide free education, emotional and social support

By Lorraine Glowczak

Caring for a person with dementia or dementia- related diseases often involves a team of people. Whether you provide daily caregiving, participate in decision making, or care about a person with the disease, it is difficult to do it alone. Additionally, caregiving is not intuitive and doesn’t come naturally.

It is for these reasons that Lillian Doughty, the Director of Social Services at Ledgewood Manor in Windham is starting a monthly support group, Caregiver Connection, for those who care for family and friends. Not only is this group for those with care for loved ones with dementia who live at Ledgewood Manor and their families, but the support group is open to the public, free of charge.

Briefly, Caregiver Connections is monthly gathering for all family, friends and caregivers designed to provide educational, emotional and social support. “Family and other caregivers often feel isolated as they provide very important services to those they love and care for,” stated Doughty. “As a result, I want to create a group for everyone, whether they are associated with Ledgewood Manor or not, to join in and share their experiences as well as gain knowledge and education. But perhaps, more importantly, provide support.”

The first gathering occurred on Saturday, February 2 and subsequent meetings will be held on the first Saturday of each month.

Caregivers Connection is led by Doughty. She is a licensed Social Worker with over 30 years of relevant social work experience in a variety of fast-paced healthcare environments and a recognized leader in non-profit management and service for people with disabilities and in the Parkinson's disease community of Maine. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Services from the University of Massachusetts and she is an honorary board member of the Maine Parkinson Society, a board of director at Syntiro and serves as a corporate board member of Sweetser of Saco.
https://www.raveiscareers.com/As a caregiver, you likely have many responsibilities which includes taking care of your own well-being and to connect with others that understand. “We’re acutely aware of the challenges faced by caregivers,” stated owner and director of Ledgwood, Nathaniel Bennett. “We’re reaching out to family members of our residents and the public to help people understand and to provide support.”

Family members are a critical piece to the journey of dementia as they hold a lot of knowledge about those they love and know. “I often hear, ‘let me tell you who he was before dementia,’”, Doughty said of her many years of experience. “It is good to have this information. It not only adds to the rich history of who the individual with dementia was, but it often provides background knowledge in order to provide the greatest care and understanding.”

Doughty went on to explain that one woman she knew loved cardinals. “If she was experiencing sadness or irritation, all we had to do is ask her to tell us a story about cardinals. It always switched her mood and she would share, in her own way, happy memories.”

There are many benefits to participating in a group such as this that include: Gaining a sense of empowerment, improving coping skills, the ability to express opening about the various experiences of being a caregiver, reduces stress and depression, obtaining practical and professional advice, develop new friendships and, perhaps most importantly – time just for you.

The sharing of stories and experiences that Caregiver Connections hopes to provide the benefits mentioned as well as providing an opportunity for growth, education and support. If you are caregiver, please feel free to join the Caregiver Connections group on the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Ledgewood Manor Dining Room, 200 Tandberg Trail in Windham. Everyone in the Lakes Region community is welcomed to join. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information contact Lillian Doughty by phone at 207-892-2261 or by email at Ldoughty@ledgewoodmanorinc.com