July 13, 2018

Summer reading is for the dogs (and cats) by Briana Bizier

Are you looking for a way to encourage your children to read more this summer? The Raymond Village Library is here to help.

Children of all ages are welcome to join Raymond Village Library’s Summer Reading Program. This year’s theme is music, and the library is hosting special events the entire month of July to celebrate. Stop by to sign up for the program and receive a bag with a monthly calendar of all the library’s special events, two Seadogs tickets, a bookmark, a reading tally sheet, and a whistle.

This summer, the Raymond Village Library has partnered with local animal shelters to offer special rewards to young readers. Children who join the reading program are able to set their own goals by planning on reading, or being read to, a certain number of minutes per week or a certain number of books per week. The readers, or their parents, keep track of books or minutes read on the tally sheet. Each time the readers meet their goal, they’ll be given the chance to win a special prize for a cat or dog.

Prizes of cat and dog toys, treats, and food are on display in the children’s section of the Raymond Library. When a young reader completes their goal for the week, they have the chance to decorate a special gift tag with their name, select a prize for the shelter animals and move the tagged prize to a separate shelf. At the end of the summer, all the “prizes” will be delivered to the animal shelters with the children's tags attached. This summer, the more kids read, the happier local dogs and cats will be!
Stop by the Raymond Village Library for your chance to support your local animal shelter, read great books, and have fun at your library this summer.

Windham Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief retires after many years of service by Matt Pascarella

Deputy Chief David Nichols with Deputy Chief Jim Poitras and Captain Ken Thorpe at the South Windham Fire Station. Submitted photo
Deputy Chief David Nichols has been a member of the Windham Fire Department since he was 15 years old. He followed in the footsteps of his dad and hero, Ernie Nichols. “It was part of the family business; giving back to the community,” Nichol states. “It was always part of our family tradition.”
Nichols retired on June 1st after serving the Windham community for 34 years.

His dad, Ernie Nichols, was a fire fighter in the South Windham Village for 25 years and left in 1981 as Deputy Fire Chief; he’s now 82. Deputy Chief David Nichols grew up around the fire station and being around the other firefighters he became aware of the lifestyle; he realized he wanted to help others in the same way as his dad.

Nichols started in August of 1984 at the age of 15 as a junior member in South Windham. By the age of 18, he had become a lieutenant. In 1993, he moved to North Windham and became a captain shortly after, beginning his role as Deputy Chief approximately 10 years later.

After some initial training, Nichols became a member of the Portland Fire Department in 1999. He has been in this highly sought after and competitive position for 19 years and is currently a lieutenant. He will continue to serve on the Portland Fire Department.

http://www.downeastsharpening.com/Serving the community has been very rewarding. Nichols states that when the phone rings and someone is having their worst possible day he, and the other firefighters, want to do their best to help and try to find the positive in that worst day. For Nichols, the good outweighs the bad.

Nichols will miss his firefighting family in Windham. Nichols thanks his dad, his wife Jen and his two kids, Tim and Steph; he thanks them for their patience and sacrifice. Nichols would also like to thank the individuals who have mentored him along the way: Chief Dolby, Chief Hammond and Chief Libby and his first Captain, Jim Poitras.

“It’s been very rewarding…” reflects Nichols.

He plans to spend his extra time with his family, as well as participating in two of his favorite activities, hunting and fly fishing.

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce welcomes new Executive Director by Lorraine Glowczak

Lynn Mansfield
The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has recently appointed Lynn Mansfield as their new Executive Director. Mansfield, who began her position approximately one month ago, has many professional and personal experiences that will contribute to the Chamber’s commitment to supporting Lakes Region businesses in meeting their economic successes and goals.

This is not the first time Mansfield has held the position of director. She was the State Executive Director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for ten years until the MADD Maine office closed its doors. Unfortunately, she became involved in the organization two years after she lost her own brother to a drunk driving crash in 1996. Her role as director was to educate the public on MADD’s mission to stop drunk driving, support the victims in this violent crime and to prevent underage drinking.

During her time there, she worked closely with a diverse group of volunteers, much like she will at the Chamber. “My new position with the Chamber allows me to continue my work with volunteers as we strive to foster and sustain economic growth and prosperity throughout our region by promoting commerce,” stated Mansfield. “While the mission may differ, it takes an extraordinary person to volunteer their time and talents to the community. I hope to use my experience working with the legislature, media, educators, program sponsors and high-profile agencies to propel the Chamber forward as it seeks new opportunities for growth.”

https://www.egcu.org/cardsIn addition to her experience as an executive director, she also knows a thing or two about entrepreneurship and running her own business. Loving to bake, she created a specialty bakery, Lulu’s Cupcakes. Mansfield was such a success with that endeavor that she entered and made it to the final elimination round of the Macy’s Million Dollar Makeover Challenge in 2012. “The experience took me out of my comfort zone and while I didn’t win the food spot (or the million dollars), the confidence I gained continues to pay dividends.” 

She also enjoys the art of natural light photography which has been a profitable business for her as well.

But her talents and professional experiences do not end there. Mansfield and her husband, Cary, are parents to ten children ranging in ages 27 to 10. How does that contribute to her role as the director of the Chamber? “People often ask me to describe what it’s like to raise ten children and my answer is always ‘controlled chaos,’” explained Mansfield. “I’ve learned how to balance a large workload with the needs of ten very different people and multitasking is my superpower. It takes a fair amount of diplomacy to maintain harmony and while I haven’t figured out how to clone myself yet, I’ve learned to find creative solutions to achieve balance. I measure my success as a mother by ensuring that my children feel valued at the end of the day. Working with a board of directors is similar, in that our members bring something unique to the table based on industry and life experiences. Identifying their strengths and interests allows me to offer volunteer opportunities that provide the most value for their contributions. Like a large family, there’s a place for everyone.”

And speaking of those children, it is also important to mention Mansfield homeschooled them. “When MADD closed its Maine office, I looked at it as an opportunity to invest more time in my growing family and homeschooling felt like a natural extension.” Mansfield said. “It’s an absolute privilege to be present for a child’s educational milestones, to watch a face light up with each new accomplishment. Children often have different learning styles, so being able to provide a curriculum that teaches to their strengths has been such a gift.”

The accumulation of experiences has not only helped her build a certain level of strength and knowledge to assist businesses in the region, but it has also helped her clearly define what her plans are in the next six months or so. “I’m fortunate to be joining the Chamber at a time when its board is open to pursuing positive changes that will expand outreach and provide more value for membership,” stated Mansfield. “During the coming year, I hope to be a catalyst for the economic success of our members by strengthening efforts to advocate for their business interests. We need to re-engage our members and find out what they need from the Chamber. I’ve already discerned the need to provide more meaningful networking opportunities and step up our efforts with marketing support. Chamber membership is a great way to increase visibility and connection to the community and we wouldn’t be able to offer new programs and improve services without the generous support of our sponsors. We are fortunate to have so many member businesses that are vested in our growth. As I find my groove in my position, my goal is to reach out, strengthen those partnerships and provide more value for their contributions.”

Not only is Mansfield excited to be a part of the Chamber, the members and its board are very happy that she is a part of this organization. “Lynn Mansfield has come into the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber at a time of great change for the organization and the community,” stated Michelle Libby, Chamber President. “We are excited to have her at the helm to enable the business communities we serve to band together to work as a unified group for the success of all. Lynn has an engaging personality and makes everyone she meets feel comfortable and welcome. We are very lucky to have her.”

July 6, 2018

An update on investigation into Maine’s child protective system by Sen. Bill Diamond

Sen. Diamond

As responsible and caring citizens, we have a profound responsibility to lookout for the safety and well-being of Maine kids, especially when it comes to reporting signs of abuse or neglect. However, those reports mean nothing if the proper infrastructure isn't in place to follow through on these reports and remove children from harmful situations. It doesn’t matter who’s at fault; a strained child protective system is bad for our kids and society as a whole. The alarming fact is - kids are being severely abused and the only reason we don't have names is because these abused kids haven't died yet.

Last week, the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee (GOC) met again to receive an update on the investigation into the tragic deaths of Kendall Chick and Marissa Kennedy and to get answers to some of our most pressing questions. What I learned was very concerning. But what was most revealing was the lack of information and cooperation from the Department of Health and Human Services, which is extremely frustrating. The fact is this: the system currently being used to identify and protect abused kids is badly broken.

Much of our meeting involved taking a deep dive into the Child Protection Intake process, which I did find to be informative. In Maine, when a mandated reporter or a concerned citizen submits a report, there are three paths forward. If the report is found to not contain sufficient allegations of abuse or neglect in accordance with statute, the case is closed. If the report does contain credible allegations that are consistent with state law, then the report is referred to the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) for a child protective assessment. The Alternative Response Program (ARP) is an option used to assist OCFS for low-moderate cases. However, too many reported cases are never even given the initial investigation because these reports fall through some very large cracks. 

Regardless of the process, reports and caseloads are up and we need to do something to make sure caseworkers have the tools, resources and support they need to manage their caseload and keep kids safe. Right now, caseloads are too high and staff is ill-equipped to meet the increase in calls to the hotline. Some people have reported being put on hold for over an hour while waiting to report cases  of abuse.  

One of the ongoing challenges in this investigation is obtaining the information. While it shouldn't be this difficult, there have been a number of unnecessary roadblocks, with the latest being the failure of the Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner to show up to the last GOC meeting per order of the governor. He has the answers to some very important questions that will help us fix the system and the governor needs to allow the Commissioner to work with us.

If we are going make sure this tragedy never happens again, we need to all work together to create a robust child protection system that best meets the needs of our children and our state. Innocent children who are being severely abused need to be rescued,  not left to suffer at the hands of cruel and demented abusers. We can only fix this system if lawmakers (Democrats, Republicans and Independents), the governor and the Department all roll-up our sleeves and work together to make it happen. Time is of the essence and every day we sit around spinning our wheels is another day of horror and torture for these abused children.

Since the start of this investigation, I’ve received an extraordinary amount of information from professionals who report possible cases of child abuse and neglect. It's become frustratingly obvious that the Department has failed to follow up on too many cases. To me, this is more than a red flag; it's a scream pleading for help. And I want answers.

I urge anyone with information related to Maine’s child protective system to contact me at diamondhollyd@aol.com or (207) 287-1515. As we go forward with this investigation and fixing this broken system, it’s imperative that we have all the information necessary to do our job. I know there are people out there who have experiences with the Department and could be extremely helpful. After all, Maine children are counting on us.

Faith Lutheran Church to host a large three-day yard sale

The Faith Lutheran Church located at 988 Roosevelt Trail in Windham will hold a three-day yard sale from Thursday, July 12 to Saturday, July 14, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The yard sale will feature a wide variety of valuable and beautiful treasures to include antique furniture and dishes, eclectic vintage items, clothing and toys.

Although many items have been donated by church members and friends, a large portion of the
upscale yard sale selections are from a vintage and antique shop in Bridgton. “I have been a part of a group shop for six years and have decided to step back and retire from antique retail,” explained church member and yard sale organizer, Dori Madsen. “I had three booths, so I have a lot of things and nowhere to put them. It all must go, so there will be plenty of items for sale.”

Madsen stated that many objects are chic collectables and upscale furniture such as an antique china cabinet, drop front secretary desks, oak dresser drawers with a mirror, bookcases, wooden stands and tables as well as a wooden saddle holder - to name just a few.

“I also have a lot of beautiful clothing from the shop,” Madsen stated. “That doesn’t include the clothing and other items that have been donated.”

https://www.egcu.org/autoProceeds of the yard sale will go toward a new memorial garden on the church grounds as well as the church’s mission fund. “A portion of our sales will go back into the community,” explained Madsen. “In the past, we have provided monetary donations on the local level to include the RSU14’s Backpack Program and Village Funds, Windham Food Pantry and the free weekly Monday Meals to name a few. We also contribute to national and international non-profit and social justice organizations that help others live a full life.”

If there are any items left over once the yard sale ends, Madsen will continue to hold a private sale at her home in Naples throughout the rest of the summer. Proceeds from the items donated by church members and family that did not sale during the three-day event, will continue to go toward the church’s mission fund at Madsen’s private sale.

To donate new or gently used, clean and in good working order items to Faith Lutheran’s yard sale or for more information, contact Madsen at 207-233-3805.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the Windham Farmers Market

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce helped the Windham Economic Development Corporation celebrate the grand opening of the Windham Farmers Market at Turning Leaf with a celebratory ribbon cutting. The event included a delicious sampling of goods offered by local vendors, from organic vegetables, pastured meats, locally brewed beers, crafts and more. Several members of the SLRCC were in attendance, but the visiting calves and the Pond Lilies stole the show. 

About the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce: The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, representing the towns of Casco, Gray, Limerick, Limington, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham, is one of the most active chambers in the State of Maine. It is comprised of business members ranging from young entrepreneurs and ‘mom & pop’ shops to the largest employers in our region.

Faculty spotlight on Phil Rosetti by Matt Pascarella

Phil Rosetti
Assistant principal, Phil Rosetti has been in the district, in one capacity or another for over twenty years. He began his career in 1996, right out of college, as a social studies teacher at Windham High School.

Rosetti loved working with his Social Studies teacher during high school and that individual inspired him to become an educator. “I think that connection you make with people is important,” he explained. Education and working with kids is something he has always enjoyed.

In college, he investigated a couple career options, including sports medicine and journalism. By the end of his sophomore year, his passion for history and working with kids lead him to teach social studies. “I made that decision and have not regretted it since.”

Rosetti’s love of athletics steered him to coaching at Windham High. His passion for football is what created the first football team. He, along with the basketball coach at the time, Kevin Millington, organized the team in 1999.

During the late 1990s, some students were not feeling like they were a part of the community and creating the football team helped to solve that issue, at least for those who joined the football team.

“These were kids, who may have been disassociated with school - once they put those jerseys on they were proud of who they were, proud of what they represented and proud of their community and school,” Rosetti said.

http://www.downeastsharpening.com/In 2015-2016 he moved to South Portland High School becoming assistant principal for one year. He found his way back to Windham and became a full-time assistant principal working with at risk youth.  “I’m looking to make a connection to help kids learn from their mistakes.”

“Windham has been home for me,” says Rosetti. “I’ve made so many great connections with so many people within the community. It’s a really nurturing place with people who really care about kids and want the best for them.”

Rosetti lives in Raymond with his wife, Sara and 7-year-old daughter, Maria. He enjoys golfing and travelling with his family.

Mike Gilman represents Windham at third annual Varsity Maine Awards by Matt Pascarella

Some of the state’s best and brightest athletes gathered at the University of Southern Maine’s Portland Campus to be honored in the third annual Varsity Maine Awards. Senior Mike Gilman was nominated as a finalist in early June, by his basketball coach, Chad Pulkkinen, for ‘Play of the Year.’ This was for a shot Gilman made during the Class AA North tournament game against Portland.

Mike Gilman
Windham had been trailing Portland for a majority of the Class AA North semifinals game until Gilman sunk a three-point shot with the clock winding down. Windham was then able to hold off Portland leading to a very celebrated victory as excited fans rushed the stage after Windham shut down number one seeded Portland, 55-53.

Gilman remembers that game and that moment. “It all went by pretty quick; I wasn’t expecting to be that open. It was just what we needed.”

“A lot of the best athletes in the state are here, so just to be a part of that, I feel pretty good,” remarked Gilman. He said it felt good to be nominated and recognized for the shot, but it was a team goal. He has Coach Pulkkinen to thank for calling the play and his teammates to thank for helping to execute it well. 

 “Such a monumental shot, not only for Mike, but for the entire team and what they’ve been able to do together over the last three years with me,” commented coach Chad Pulkkinen on why he nominated Mike for the Varsity Award.

Pulkkinen continues, “Without Mike, teammate Nick Curtis as well as some of the seniors, we wouldn’t be in this situation to have recognition of a shot like that.”

Although Gilman was not selected from one of the five finalists, the hard work put forth by him and his teammates have made this town very proud.

Gilman will attend Thomas College in the fall.