January 18, 2019

Legislative Caucus on Aging held meeting

Focus is on opportunities to support healthy, engaged and secure Aging at home

Legislative leaders met on Tuesday, January 15, to hear about Maine’s changing demographic landscape and to discuss pending legislative initiatives that can support healthy, engaged and secure aging in Maine. The Caucus on Aging is led by Senators Paul Davis and Erin Herbig and Representatives Jessica Fay and William Tuell. 

“Mainers have always found opportunity in the challenges of the day,” said Representative Jessica Fay of Raymond. “We are living longer, and as we age, rethinking how we approach issues impacting older people becomes more critical. Our Caucus will highlight the opportunities of the Longevity Era and legislative solutions that can help us all live healthy, active lives as we age in our homes and communities."

“We have an opportunity to improve the quality of life for older Mainers by working together on a wide range of issues,” said Representative William Tuell of East Machias.  “We have to find ways to reduce the effect of property taxes on older Mainers, make it easier for people to stay connected and safe while they age, and support quality long term care and assisted living options while still ensuring others can access the services they need.”

“We hear constantly from our older constituents that they need help with things like housing, home repair and transportation and from caregivers that they need more support,” said Senator Erin Herbig of Belfast.  “Legislators have come to Augusta ready to solve these, and many other challenges facing older Mainers and our Caucus creates a forum to find the right solutions.”

https://www.schoolspring.com/search.cfm“We’ve found solutions to tough problems in the past, but only when we’re working together,” said
Senator Paul Davis of Sangerville.  “Our Caucus will bring legislators from all parts of the State together to focus on tough challenges like property tax relief and transportation.  If we can find solutions we can all agree on and that work in every part of Maine, everyone will win.”

Elizabeth Gattine, Senior Policy Associate at the Muskie School, in the Disability and Aging program area, will be speaking to caucus members on Tuesday to offer an overview of Maine’s aging landscape and our long term supports and services system.  Elizabeth has extensive knowledge and experience in the design, implementation and administration of Medicaid policy and programming, particularly in the delivery of long term services and supports and is a lead author of “Charting a Pathway Forward: Redesigning and Realigning Supports and Services for Maine's Older Adults”. She will underscore the opportunities we have to implement innovative solutions to the challenges facing older Mainers.


Loon Echo Land Trust welcomes new executive director

New director, Matt Markot with former diretor, Thom Perkins

On January 7, Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) welcomed Matt Markot as its new Executive Director. Markot, who resides in Harrison, takes the lead for the conservation organization from retiring Executive Director Thom Perkins.

Most recently, Markot worked for LELT supporting the organization’s stewardship and conservation easement programs, in addition to organizing the 2018 Loon Echo Trek. He also worked as a part-time consultant through Sebago Clean Waters to support both Loon Echo and Western Foothills Land Trusts with their conservation efforts.

“Our board is thrilled to have Matt lead Loon Echo and we are looking forward to working with him to continue the positive impact that Loon Echo has on our community,” said Loon Echo Board President, David Diller as he welcomed Markot to his new role at the organization.

Mr. Markot brings a wealth of natural resource, conservation, and environmental education experience from years working around the state of Maine at places such as the Nature Conservancy, the Maine Natural Areas Program, and Kieve-Wavus Education Inc. Matt has strong family ties to the Bridgton area and grew up spending his summers on the shores of Moose Pond. A Registered Maine Guide and Wilderness First Responder, Matt enjoys skiing, hiking, camping and fishing.

http://www.windhammaine.us/“I’m humbled by the opportunity to step into a new role in an organization that I have great respect for,” Markot said upon starting his first week as Executive Director. “The passion that Loon Echo’s board, staff, members, and volunteers bring to conservation work in our region inspires me to lead by their example. I intend to build upon Loon Echo’s strengths while keeping sight of the traditions that make protected land so integral to our way of life in the Lake Region.” 

Markot will succeed Thom Perkins, Loon Echo’s Executive Director from 2016-2018. Mr. Perkins will support the leadership transition by acting as Senior Advisor to the organization until the end of March. He will be assisting Mr. Markot in organizational management during the transition. During his tenure, Perkins finalized the organization’s Land Trust Alliance national accreditation, negotiated the donation of land for a new preserve on Highland Lake, negotiated and developed donated land for recreational access to Pleasant Mountain, acquired the technological tools needed to position the organization for the future, spearheaded additional conservation easement land, increased the capacity of the organization by increasing staff in mission critical areas, was instrumental in developing an organization to protect the region’s clean water and laid the groundwork for additional Loon Echo Land Trust conservation efforts.

“I am more than pleased that the Board of Directors selected Matt. I can’t think of a better candidate to take over this position and move Loon Echo into the future,” said Perkins, “there are a lot of exciting plans in the works and Matt’s the perfect person to press onwards.”
Loon Echo Land Trust will host a snowshoe walk of their latest project, Peabody-Fitch Woods on Saturday, January 26 at 9 a.m. The public will have an opportunity to meet the new Executive Director, explore the property and learn more about the project. More information on this event can be found at Loon Echo’s website, www.lelt.org.

Loon Echo Land Trust protects nearly 6,700 acres of land and manages 30 miles of multi-use trails in the northern Sebago Lake region. Its mission is to work with the local residents to conserve the region’s natural resources and character for current and future generations. Loon Echo serves seven towns including Bridgton, Casco, Denmark, Harrison, Naples, Raymond and Sebago. Loon Echo works within its service area to safeguard water quality, preserve scenic locations such as Bald Pate Mountain, Pleasant Mountain and Hacker’s Hill, and provide fun educational programs to the public. Loon Echo also assists landowners to take steps to ensure future generations will benefit from the preservation of their lands.  

For information about membership, upcoming events, or ways you can support Loon Echo Land Trust, go to their website www.lelt.org, call 207-647-4352, or drop by their office Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., located at 8 Depot St, Suite 4 in Bridgton.


Jordan-Small Middle School Geography Bee winners

Congratulations to the Jordan-Small Middle School Geography Bee Winners: Owen Dulca (second place), Baxter Engleman (first place) and Ryan Brown (third place).



Other students who participated in the Geography Bee competition on January 8 included the following:

McKenzie Harris (grade 5)
Jayden Grenier (grade 5)
Carter Engelman (grade 6)
Phoebe Jewell (grade 6)
Chloe Harmon (grade 7)
Brandon Mank (grade 7)
Samantha Kerr (grade 7)

VFW announces Patriot's Pen annual essay contest winner


Sam Williams with his parents and Windham VFW Commander Willie Goodman. Sam Williams, a student at Windham Christian Academy, was the state winner of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Patriot’s Pen annual essay contest. Sam entered at the Windham Post level, moved on to win the district level, and on Saturday night at the state awards banquet in Bangor, he was awarded first placed with a certificate and a $500 check. Sam’s essay will now be entered to represent Maine along with winners from other states to determine the national winner who will get an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. and a cash award. Windham VFW 10643 and our community are very proud of Sam.


Windham Town Council meeting notes

By Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Town Council met on Tuesday evening, January 15 at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall in the Council Chambers room.

The evening began with a public comment from a Windham citizen whose home is located on Maverick Lane. On January 1, a medical marijuana storefront opened at the entrance of Maverick Lane, two doors down from the citizen’s home as well directly in front of a bus stop and within two miles of local schools, including daycares. Marijuana storefronts are required to be in a C-1 zone, while this store front is in a C-3 zone. “How did this get passed?” the citizen asked the Council. “This may have been an oversite and needs to be rectified.”

Tom Bartell, Executive Director of WEDC wanted to bring the public’s attention to the highway resurfacing project along Route 302. Resurfacing of Route 302 will begin this spring starting .17 miles north of White’s Bridge Road in Windham, extending northwesterly 11.28 miles ending in Naples.

After the new pavement is placed, no permit to open this segment of the highway will be granted for a period of 3 years.  “Whatever notification you can provide to business and property owners regarding this information would be appreciated,” Bartell told the Council.

https://reps.modernwoodmen.org/zconley/The Town Council also heard from Bartell and Holly Tubbs, owner of Water Systems at 158 Roosevelt Trail, a C3 zone. Bartell explained that property owners have not been able to sell or expand as a result of the missing term, construction services, that was eliminated in 2016. Tubbs stated to the Council, “I respectfully ask for you to allow Construction services in C3. Anything less is devaluing our properties and I have no idea what it does to the value of the residences the town is encourage people to build in a commercial zone.”

The Town Council asked Bartell and Tubbs offer a narrow definition of the light services/commercial industry/construction services that could be added to the definition and present it to the Council for consideration at a later date to be determined.

For full details of the meeting and other agenda items discussed, go to the town website at www.windhammaine.us.


RSU14 Withdrawal Committee held public workshop


Beth Peavey
By Lorraine Glowczak

Approximately 20 individuals in the Raymond community attended the RSU14 withdrawal committee’s public workshop on Thursday, January 10 to express thoughts and concerns regarding the potential of Raymond schools withdrawing from the RSU14 school district. It was an evening of open, honest and civil discussion, located at Broadcast Studio, 423 Webbs Mills Road.

“The purpose of tonight’s forum is to listen to you express your thoughts - we are not here for you to listen to us,” stated the Chair of the withdrawal committee, Rolf Olsen. “We may not be able to answer all your questions tonight, but we are here to listen and to take into consideration everything you say so that we can put together a coherent plan.”

The first individual to speak at the podium was Susan Brackett, fourth grade teacher at Raymond Elementary School (RES). Brackett has been teaching at RES for many years, including before and after the RSU14 merger. She stated her major concern was how the withdrawal would affect the students and curriculum, specifically in terms of special education coaching, math coaching and professional development. “If we withdraw, we’ll lose a lot of financial support that will negatively impact the students – especially the struggling students. I am afraid that there will not be enough money in the budget to support high quality educational needs.”

https://www.orangecircuitfitness.com/RES Vice-Principal Beth Peavey concurred with the issues Brackett shared regarding the impact on services and the students. Additionally, she stated concerns regarding how the morale of the teachers was being affected through the withdrawal process. She also spoke about her concerns of the decline in student population.

Other issues mentioned regarding the RSU14 withdrawal included but were not limited to the following:

*Parents who recently moved to Raymond as a result of the present RSU14 school district and are
very disappointed to learn that a withdrawal is being considered.
*The vote to start a withdrawal happened in August when there is little turnout due to vacations, etc. (Committee explained that state statue mandated the voting process.)
*More awareness is needed surrounding the withdrawal efforts – to inform the public.
*There seems to be more concern regarding the financial aspects and less concern on quality education.
*Suggestion was made that the withdrawal committee take time to listen to the teachers individually. “A public forum is good, but perhaps consider meeting the teachers separately to answer their questions.”
*Continuity of services if the withdrawal occurs.
*Question regarding the long-term plan. “What is the plan for the next five to 10 years?”
*Question regarding cost. “What will it cost to run a school independently?”
*Question regarding change. “What has changed since the last withdrawal effort a couple of years ago?”

There was also community support for the withdrawal.

Retired educator, Walter Lunt, stated he was in support of withdrawing from the RSU14 district. “I
Walter Lunt
view the consolidation as a forced marriage, one that has been on shaky ground since it has been instituted.” Lunt told the committee. “This union has never felt like a single district. One issue that convinced me that we will never work well together was a proposal that was made when student enrollment was up in one town and down in the other. The proposal was to have students from North Windham be transported to Raymond. That ended up being a very contentious battle. It wasn’t one district working together using existing resources but one town versus another.”

Lunt further explained that both towns have very good reasons for how they wish to proceed but are diverse in approach. “Bottom line, we [Raymond] are fundamentally different in the way we spend funds, our population and the geography. It just seems each town needs to run their own school.”

He did admit that the separation may not save tax-payer money but stated that it is hard to put a price on autonomy,which he highly values.

Others who spoke for the withdrawal shared Lunt’s sentiments, naming the new maintenance building in Windham as one of the determining factors, with local control a big consideration for those who wish to disband the merger.

All in attendance, whether for or against the withdrawal, agreed that choice of high school and providing top-quality education are two of the upmost important considerations.

The committee responded to concerns and questions as they could - reminding all present that the intent of going through the withdrawal process is to see if a more cohesive collaboration can take place between the two towns. It was clarified that saving money was not the sole purpose of the initiated withdrawal but to bring back local control, with quality education as the sole focus. It was also reiterated that there would be a continuity of services, including all the support systems such as special education, etc. No matter how the withdrawal process unfolds, choice of high school will remain in effect.

The public workshop was a required portion of the 22-step withdrawal processes. The next withdrawal committee meeting will take place on Monday, January 28 and will be an executive session. There will be another public workshop in February, date yet to be determined.

To keep informed about the process and additional meetings or to view Thursday evening’s public workshop in its entirety via recording, visit the town’s website at www.raymondmaine.org/content/2018-rsu-14-withdrawal-effort or call the town office at 207-655-4742


January 11, 2019

Working towards a safer Maine for everyone


By Senator Bill Diamond

If there is anything we have learned from the last two years, it’s that our laws and practices need to do better by survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. This includes survivors of human trafficking, who are often left out of this important conversation. And quite frankly, these brave individuals deserve much better.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and all across the country, activists, survivors and lawmakers stand up to raise awareness about this horrific practice that remains both pervasive and prevalent in our culture. Human trafficking is essentially the taking away of another individual’s rights — whether they are a child or adult — and forcing that individual into labor or sexual acts. It’s an ugly crime that happens right here in Maine. Research shows that many of the individuals forced into labor or sex trafficking are minors.

One of the challenges when it comes to human trafficking is that lawmakers and other officials struggle to understand the scope of the issue. According to a 2015 report, it’s estimated that that roughly 200-300 Maine people are trafficked each year. However, the report also confirms that most victims do not report the crime to law enforcement. That is heartbreaking. It’s clear we must do more within our existing laws to protect and reach victims.

This reluctance to share information seems to be a recurring problem within Maine’s reporting system, especially when including the child abuse cases from last year. It wasn’t until the tragic deaths of Marissa Kennedy and Kendall Chick that Mainers came out of the woodwork to share their concerns with the system and provide critical input. Mainers should feel confident coming forward with information and working with law enforcement to create safer communities and a more secure state. We cannot afford to keep waiting until it’s too late.

This session, I have sponsored legislation to protect minors in Maine from being charged with prostitution. It’s important to remember that the victims of human trafficking are just that — victims — and should not be held accountable for being forced to commit crimes against their will.

For victims of human trafficking, it’s important to know that there are resources in our state and our community to get help. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a great resource for victims. It’s a free, toll-free number that is available 24/7 and in more than 200 languages to provide resources, support and a pathway to freedom. To access this resource, please call 1-888-373-7888 or send a text message to 711.

At the end of the day, I believe we need to do more to protect the individuals from birth through adulthood from abuse. Human Trafficking Awareness Month is good because it reminds us that we still have a lot of work to do.

As always, please feel free to contact me at diamondhollyd@aol.com or (207) 287-1515 if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I will do my best to keep you updated on what is happening in Augusta as we work to strengthen state laws and improve our child welfare system. It’s incumbent upon us to better protect the people of Maine. Rest assured — this will be my number one priority this session.


Greenheart seeking host families for Japanese students


By Elizabeth Richards

In March, Greenheart will once again bring a group of international exchange students to the area, this time for a short-term school experience. Kathy Hansen, a local coordinator for Greenheart, said the group of 25 students from Japan will arrive on March 2nd and depart March 12th.  The organization is seeking host families for these students.

Hosting a student for the ten days does not require anything special, and costs nothing aside from the cost of feeding the student, Hansen said. The students are coming to go to school, and don’t need to be entertained outside of school hours beyond what the family would normally be doing.  There is one trip to Boston arranged, Hansen said, but does not involve any responsibility for the host family.

Host families can be from almost anywhere in the local area, and they do not have to have children the same age as the exchange student. Single people or couples with no children are also welcome to host. Students can share a bedroom with a student of the same gender and similar age.

Greenheart arranges the school visit with the local district, and students can leave for school right from the home, either via school bus or with another family who is driving a student to school.
Hansen said that the experience is as valuable for the host families as it is for the exchange students.  They will learn more about Japanese culture, make a friend for life, and learn more about the world around them. “Instead of going to Japan, you get to bring Japan to your home for ten days,” Hansen said. Often, hosts are invited to visit the students they host at a later time, she added.

“People often don’t realize how much hosting an exchange student has to offer them,” Hansen said.  “I don’t think people realize how much impact it has on the family.”  Hosting is something people can do at almost no cost and is both educational and important to the global economy and building bridges of friendship throughout the world, Hansen said. Hosting helps build skills such as communicating, getting along with other people, and understanding other cultures, she added.

Although students won’t arrive until March, host families need to be identified as soon as possible.  If hosting the whole ten days is too much Hansen said they are open to having people host for part of the ten days as well.

Greenheart also has students who come for a semester or a year and hosting short-term is a good way to try it out. In the summer, they will have a group of students from France for a couple of weeks, so that is another good opportunity if hosting right now isn’t possible.

To become a host family, a short application is required. It can be accessed at https://www.tfaforms.com/236744. For more information, contact Hansen at khansen@greenheart.org.


January 4, 2019

Raymond musician opens the 2019 Maine State Legislature, singing National Anthem


On Wednesday, January 2, folk and rock music musician, David Young Jr. of Raymond sang The National Anthem at the opening of the 2019 Maine State Legislature in Augusta. Young, who has been performing locally for over four years with his latest performances in Portland, has plans to move to Nashville in the near future to follow his dreams.

St. Ann's Episcopal Church receives financial donation for Essential Pantry


Reverend Wendy Rozene of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church receives a check for $500 for St. Ann’s Essentials Pantry from Susan Quinn of Faith Lutheran Church. Recently St Ann’s and Faith Lutheran have teamed up to support and operate the Pantry. The pantry is open the last Saturday of each month from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. serving families by providing personal and household items that EBT cards and the food pantries in the area don’t cover. Under the direction of Rev. Rozene, the pantry has served over 100 families, with approximately 30 who attend monthly to receive the needed items.


Sen. Diamond to chair Transportation Committee for the 129th Maine Legislature

Sen. Bill Diamond

AUGUSTA — Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, has been appointed by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to chair the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation for the 129th Legislative session. The Transportation Committee is responsible for legislation related to roads, bridges, highways, trains and other transportation-related matters.

“I am thrilled to be Senate chair of the Transportation Committee because of the many transportation-related needs in my Senate district,” said Sen. Diamond. “This committee is one of the most highly sought-after committees in the legislature, and I’m proud to be able to serve as Senate chair for the next two years.”

Sen. Diamond also will serve on the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee, which is responsible for legislation related to Maine’s forests and farmlands.

Sen. Diamond has had a distinguished career in public service. In previous terms, he has served on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, as the Senate chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice, and as a member of the Transportation Committee. In the 124th Legislature, he served as the chairman of Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. From 1989 to 1997, Sen. Diamond served as Maine’s Secretary of State. Before his tenure as Secretary of State, he served three terms in the Maine House of Representatives, including one term as assistant majority leader.

Lawmakers are assigned to committees by the presiding officers based on their interests, experience and professional background. Joint standing committees are composed of three senators and ten representatives. The Legislature reconvened on Wednesday, January 2.


Richard Nickerson Scholarship Concert this Saturday, January 5th


The 22nd Annual Richard Nickerson Scholarship Concert will take place on Saturday, January 5, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the Windham Performing Arts Center at Windham High School. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students, available at the door.

For one night only, Windham’s talented alumni return with a variety of songs to please and delight everyone. Performers include. Hanna Brackett, Isaac Foss, Anna Giroux, Hanna Griffin, Elizabeth Joseph, Libby McBride, Kevin McKaye, Sarah McLaughlin, Sara Scala Perkins, Mia Foley Perron, Mathew Scala, Rachel Scala, Tulliegh Shaughnessy, Ceili Spaulding, Jean Thornton and Kristina Wunderlich.

As a special encore to the night, an alumni chorus will perform and be conducted by Windham High School alumna Dr Sandi Howard.

The Richard Nickerson Scholarship Committee was formed in 1997 by parents of Windham Chamber Singers students in appreciation of Windham High School Choral Director, Dr. Richard Nickerson. Since its formation, the RNS Committee has awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships to twenty-nine Windham High School graduating seniors pursuing music studies as part of their college experience.


Windham to become next age-friendly community


By Lorraine Glowczak

Over 50 towns in Maine are members of AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities including Raymond. Windham will soon be added to the list through the efforts of the Human Services Advisory Committee (HSAC).

At the December 11 Windham Town Council meeting, Deb McAfee and Marge Govoni, two members of HSAC, presented to the Council the importance and purpose of an age-friendly community.  But more importantly, McAfee and Govoni were there to ask the town leaders for support to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities and the World Health Organization Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities in order to conduct a town wide assessment. The survey will determine the needs of Windham.
 
Sheila Bourque, a leader in Raymond’s successful efforts, was available to offer additional information and answer questions from Council members. Raymond officially became a part of the age-friendly network in November 2017.

Per AARP, “age-friendly networks are not retirement villages, gated developments, nursing homes or assisted living facilities.” Instead they are livable communities that help promote the areas’ health and economic growth. An age-friendly community also provides opportunity for individuals to age in place, making sure services are available so one can remain in their home, independently, as long as possible. And just as imperative, to provide a rich intergenerational experience for all residents.

It is important to note that membership in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities does not mean AARP endorses any particular municipality as a place to live. What membership means is that the community's elected leadership has made the commitment to actively work toward making their town a great place for people of all ages.

“Forty percent of Windham’s residents are age 50 and over,” Govoni said. “We have received feedback that many individuals in this age bracket are feeling misplaced and Windham is not a home for them. It is our goal to change that.”

McAfee agreed, adding, “It is very hard to find services available because there is not one central location in order to find the help that someone might need.” McAfee also stated that there are a lot of services out there through the parks and recreational department, area churches and library but there is not one hub that collects all that information and makes it readily available. Many services that are needed include transportation, shopping, food delivery and handyman/maintenance services, to name just a few.

Members of the town council unanimously voted to support and begin the process of becoming part of an age-friendly network. So, what comes next?

“We will first apply for the AARP mini-grant that will pay for the survey and then we will establish an open community forum to invite residents to determine what questions should be placed on that survey,” McAfee explained.

From that point, the survey will be mailed out and made available. After the results have been recorded, an age-friendly taskforce will be created. “It is our hope that a member of the town council will be on that taskforce,” McAfee said. “That taskforce will help develop the umbrella from which all services will be consolidated.”

As far as the other 60 percent of Windham residents who are less than 50 years old, Govoni offers this reminder, “We all end up in this age bracket eventually, so it is wise to be involved in this effort as much as possible. It is your future you are preparing for.”