April 19, 2019

Sen. Diamond introduces bill to support investigative workers

AUGUSTA — A bill introduced by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, to support employees of the Maine State Police Crime Lab and Computer Crimes Unit, had a hearing Wednesday before the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee. LD 1355 “An Act To Expand the 1998 Special Retirement Plan To Include Civilian Employees Who Work for the Department of Public Safety Crime Lab and Computer Crimes Unit” would allow these civilian employees to be included in the 1998 Special Retirement Plan.

“The work done by the dedicated civilian professionals in the Computer Crimes Unit and Crime Lab is incredibly difficult and incredibly important,” said Sen. Diamond. “They deal with some of the most horrific crimes, including child pornography, abuse and murder. This work takes a heavy toll, and no one should be expected to do it for more than 25 years.”

The 1998 Special Retirement plan was established by the Legislature in an effort to provide more uniform service retirement benefits to law enforcement officers. Those covered by the plan are generally able to retire after 25 years of service.

https://www.egcu.orgThe Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit assists law enforcement officers and prosecutors in Maine with the investigation and prosecution of crimes in which a computer is used as an instrument in committing or assisting in the commission of a crime, or in which the computer is a target of a criminal act.

The Maine State Police Crime Lab is an accredited crime laboratory that adheres to international
standards for laboratory accreditation and assists all law enforcement agencies operating in the state. The lab compares evidence collected from crime scenes, victims and suspects to known samples to link or eliminate victims or suspects to the crime scene or to each other.

Several employees of the Crime Lab and Computer Crime Unit testified about the mental toll that their work takes. 

“As analysts we are exposed to the most heinous crimes, those against little children,” said Andrea Donovan, of Chelsea, who works in the Computer Crime Lab. “This causes vicarious trauma amongst our analysts and we have all, at one time or another when working on a difficult case, experienced feelings of anger, disgust, despair, fatigue and being overwhelmed by the amount of violence and child pornography that is involved in a particular case.”

LD 1355 faces further action in the Labor and Housing Committee, as well as votes on the floor of the Maine House and Senate.

National Endowment for the Humanities grant funds sustainability education at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

The $34,995 grant supports the “Education for Sustainability through the Humanities Project” which will develop and implement educational programming that helps formulate how to build sustainable human communities and solve global problems.

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine Associate Professor and NEH grant Project Director Dale Brooker in his office. Photo: Evan Loignon.
The National Endowment for the Humanities named Saint Joseph’s College of Maine as one of 233 grant recipients nationwide who have been awarded, collectively, $28.6 million in grants. The College’s “Education for Sustainability through the Humanities” (ESTH) Project will develop and implement interdisciplinary and humanities-based curriculum, professional development workshops, and partnerships that will help society understand how to build sustainable human communities.
 “Saint Joseph’s College has provided generations of students with a high-quality liberal arts education to prepare them for successful careers and inspire them to give back to their communities. 

http://mulberryfarmsmaine.com/By supporting efforts to incorporate sustainability education in its curriculum, this funding will help the College build on its record of giving students the foundation they need to confront pressing challenges and become better citizens,” said Senators Collins and King and Representative Pingree in a joint statement.

Vice President & Chief Learning Officer Michael Pardales said, “Saint Joseph’s College has pivoted toward a greater focus on challenging students to explore what it means to cultivate a sustainable society that supports healthy systems in all domains. Following the Sisters of Mercy tradition and our mission rooted in Catholic social teaching, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine’s broader approach to sustainability includes not only the natural environment and ecological systems, but also human health, justice systems, economic systems, and secure livelihoods for future generations. The proposed ESTH Project advances this broad notion of ‘sustainability education.’”

Saint Joseph’s College’s Director of Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Dale Brooker(who will serve as the NEH grant project director) said, “The Education for Sustainability Through the Humanities Project seeks to prepare our students with the critical and analytical thinking skills necessary to solve the emerging global challenges and opportunities in our complex, modern world. We are grateful for the support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and look forward to implementing these initiatives.”

As Project Director, Brooker will lead an interdisciplinary team of faculty, staff, and community partners who will implement the project.

High school students receive trophies at career conference

By Lanet Hane

A group of seven Windham High School students attended the JMG Career Development Conference at Thomas College and took home two trophies last month. The conference was the largest one ever hosted by JMG, with more than 650 students participating from all over the state.

Left to right: Jennifer Williamson, Ashley Virgin, Aisha Nelson, Danielle Gaudin, Payton Hutchinson, Cecil Ramsey, and Jayden Gonsalves
JMG offers a continuum of support to help students transition from middle school through high school graduation, onto post-secondary education through degree attainment and connections to successful career pathways. 

Windham has had a JMG course offering in the high school for a number of years and is also piloting a middle school program this year. The conference is specifically designed as an opportunity for High School students in JMG programs to showcase the skills they have been working on in class each day.

A number of categories of competition take place, focused on real life application of skills, including an entrepreneur category that required students to create an app. Jayden Gonzalez and Cecil Ramsey participated in this section, placing in the Top 5 teams.

“I am exceedingly proud of my students,” says Jen Dumont, JMG Specialist with Windham High School, “This conference gives kids the opportunity to be on a college campus, showcase their ability to be responsible and professional, and show what they are capable of. I am so very happy with the way my students represented our school.”

Jen Williamson, who received high scores for her College Admission Interview, agreed that the conference “was a pretty great opportunity”. She is one of several students planning to continue with the JMG program next year and is eager to win a trophy in the category in the future.

Danielle Gaudin, Aisha Nelson, and Ashley Virgin took first place in the decision-making category, and Danielle Gaudin also took 2nd place in the Employee Interview Skills Category. The team also received high scores for the Team Challenge.

Veterans celebrate district winners and teacher of the year

Windham Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) recently celebrated their district winners for the Patriot’s Pen, Voice of Democracy and Teacher of the Year contests with a banquet held at the Portland VFW. The outstanding winners are pictured above with Commander Willie
Goodman and members of the Windham VFW along with Portland’s VFW. Pictured left to right are Emily Stokes, Alexander Potter, Sam Williams and Rose Hagerstrom.

Bill to support veterans’ organization was signed into law by Governor Mills

Local veterans with Governor Mills and Rep. Bryant
A bill sponsored by Rep. Mark Bryant was signed into law last Friday, April 12. With the support and help from Senator Diamond, Rep. Corey and Rep. Ordway – the delegation worked together on LD 131 to help veterans’ organizations succeed in their fundraising efforts.

These organization are now exempt from obtaining a commercial beano hall permit when renting out facilities to organizations already registered to conduct beano or bingo games.

The amendment clarifies that a charitable, educational, political, civic, recreational, fraternal, patriotic, 24 religious or veterans’ organization that seeks to obtain a registration to conduct "beano" or 25 "bingo" must be a bona fide nonprofit organization.   

In a previous press release, Rep. Bryant explained the importance of this amendment.  “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 stated at the public hearing regarding this bill. “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 these groups to maximize their funds for their charitable, community-building work.

Thanks to Bryant, Diamond, Corey and Ordway – veterans’ organizations can now work towards their core mission with more ease.

Speak Out continues with new host, Rep. Patrick Corey: Topic of discussion on gas and road tax

By Lorraine Glowczak

Next Thursday’s Speak Out, on April 25 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., will garner a new host, Rep. Patrick Corey, who has replaced former host of 29 years, Sen. Bill Diamond. Corey has invited special guests to address the topic of gas and road tax.

The meeting will take place in the Town Hall Council Chambers, 8 School Road and will be on live video, Facebook Live and on the Town of Windham’s website. Everyone is invited to attend live or on social media. All responses, inquires and questions will be addressed.

Along with Corey, this coming Speak Out will include the following invited guests:

Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner: Bruce Van Note
State House Chair of the Transportation Committee: Andrew McLain
A member of the House who is a sponsor of a bill on this subject and is a former Director of Windham Public Works Department: Thomas Martin of Greene, Maine.

“There is a $100,000  shortage in Maine to update bridges, roads, infrastructure repairs, etc.,” explained Corey. “We continue to borrow money for the upkeep of Maine roads. This is not sustainable. The topic of discussion next week will include how we can maintain quality roads and address the shortfall we face on an annual basis.”
The public will get an opportunity to listen and respond, not only on this subject but other topics they
deem important in the future. “I invite anyone to reach out to me who has a subject they like to see discussed on Speak Out,” Corey said, following in the steps of his predecessor. “All they need to do is call or email me with an idea and I will do my best to honor their requests.” Corey added.

Corey admitted that his new role as the host of Speak Out intimidates him slightly as he highly admires Diamond’s approach. But, according to Diamond, Corey should not be concerned.

“I am completely confident in Patrick's abilities to host this show,” Diamond explained. “He does his homework – researching the topic at hand, and as a result, Patrick is very competent to fill the role in Speak Out. I trust his ability to take on this position.”

The only advice Diamond had for Corey is: “Listen to and focus in on the guests.”

As Diamond hands the microphone over to Corey he would like to thank the Representative for taking over an important position that Windham residents have relied on for the past 29 years as it provides up-to-date and vital information regarding public policies and other issues as it relates to the community.

http://www.hallimplementco.com/Diamond would also like to state his gratitude to David (producer of the show with Diamond who recently retired) as well as to David’s daughters, Hannah and Maura. “And I can’t forget Raelene Loura, who is a life-long Windham resident and has co-hosted with me.”

As far as a co-host with Corey. The mystery remains.  But in terms of any secrecy and obscurity regarding public policy issues facing Windham – there will be none. It will be discussed in a civil and
forth-right manner the fourth Wednesday of every month.

For more information or to contact Rep. Patrick Corey on Speak Out topic ideas, he can be reached by phone at 207-749-1336 or by email at patrick@patrickcorey.com

April 12, 2019

RTT celebrates volunteers during National Volunteer Week

The week of April 7 to 13 marked National Volunteer Week and Riding To The Top (RTT) has a lot to celebrate this year! According to Volunteer Maine, the average adult volunteer in Maine spends 37 hours serving through local programs.

In 2018, a record number of RTT’s volunteers volunteered 100 hours or more and have been recognized at the state and national level.  RTT Volunteer Coordinator, Nick Doria stated, “In 2018,164 volunteers contributed nearly 11,000 hours of service in support of lessons, horse care, barn chores, office help and special events. Also, in 2018, RTT surpassed the 100,000-hour mark for volunteer hours since we began tracking these hours in 2000. RTT would not be where we are today without the generous support of our volunteers!”.

Five RTT volunteers were named to The Maine Volunteer Roll of Honor for their service (50 hours or more for youth and 500 or more hours for adults in the previous 12 months) including: Lina Jordan, Dan Morabito, Pat Niboli, Clayton Peters and Patty Shaw.

https://www.lpapplianceme.com/The President’s Volunteer Service Award “recognizes, celebrates and holds up as role models Americans making a positive impact as engaged and deeply committed volunteers” (psa.gov). This year 24 individuals received this award including:

·         Bronze Level (100-249 hours): Christine Blackadar, Jo Blinick , Earle Bonney, Cindy Elder, Emma Evans, Trish Friant, Tony Girlando, Fran Maxwell, Nancy Robinson, Stacie Hamilton
Waldron and Elizabeth Wood
·         Silver Level (250-499 hours) Janis Childs, Barbara Foster, Mark Fuller, Jodi Peasley, Bryony Urquhart and Trish Vaughan
·         Gold Level (Young Adult -250 hours*/Adult 500 or more hours) Julia Hamilton, Lina Jordan*, Sarah Miller, Dan Morabito, Pat Niboli, Clayton Peters and Patty Shaw.

Executive Director, Sarah Bronson stated, “At RTT volunteers contribute time, talent and skills – all of which decrease our costs and increase our capacity to serve more children and adults with disabilities.” Bronson went on to add, “Riding To The Top would have to hire more than five full time staff to replace the work that volunteers contributed last year.” Riding To The Top will distribute certificates and pins during its annual Volunteer Appreciation event in June.

New landscapes in education puts the learner in the driver’s seat

WPS Student Ambassadors, Issac Bernier and
Nathaniel Plati
By Lorraine Glowczak

“Our brains grow every time we make mistakes,” Windham Primary School (WPS) Kindergarten Teacher, Jennifer Key, told one of her students as I walked into the classroom.

Instead of being shamed for an oversight or miscalculation, students are now encouraged to see their errors as learning opportunities from which to grow – providing the stepping stone in the discovery process to one’s eventual educational success. This approach to a child’s learning experience has not always been the norm.

As a response to an editorial/insight I had written about my own experience in education, where I didn’t quite fit in and may have fallen through the cracks of a one size fits all system, I was invited by Dr. Kyle Rhoads, Principal of WPS, to visit – and see how the educational landscape has changed.

This past Monday, I was given the opportunity to observe and to speak to the young learners (students) at the primary school, their relationship to the facilitators (teachers) and the role they play in their own educational success – thus creating a genuine love of learning.

It began with a tour of the school by two student ambassadors, third-graders, Isaac Bernier and Nathaniel Plati. Like loyal diplomats, Bernier and Plati, proudly guided me around the three houses that make up the school – houses A, B and C. “Every grade is in every house,” Bernier explained. “This is meant to separate the kids so there is room to learn. You mostly stay with the same house for the whole year,” Plati added.

https://www.facebook.com/Montecito-Market-268078660678470/Once the tour was completed, I then got to meet other learners and facilitators. In true professional  
fashion, they dropped me off at my first stop of the day and introduced me to third grade teacher, Jess Melcher.

It was here that I learned just how much education has shifted from the more traditional approach to a proficiency-based classroom. “Regardless of a child’s age or what grade a student is in, we meet students educationally, where they are,” Melcher explained to me before her students arrived. 

“Students can and do tell us where they are academically, and they guide us in their preferred learning style – and as facilitators – we teach them from there - providing options from which to choose. By having a hand in their own education, they feel successful and want to participate. They are invested and want to see their success through.”

Before the students arrived, Melcher provided for me words and sentences that are used in every day conversations and as learning tools/guidance to help me get to know and interview the students. Below is the actual interview of these third-grade students, who are each on their own individualized academic journey. (Students were given a choice to be interviewed. A majority were happy to sit on the floor with me and share their stories without reservation.)

What is growth mindset and why is it important?

“It’s about how you achieve your goal,” Lauren Valle explained. She further stated that she works in a “personalized program to help me get to my goals and I like working with my IXL worksheet.”

Isaiah Ciez added, “Growth mindset is having confidence in yourself.”

What is a fast runner versus a slow runner?

“You might be a fast runner at multiplication and a slow runner at fractions,” began Matty Dickinson.
Editor and writer, Lorraine Glowczak, interviews
 Mrs. Melcher's third-grade students.
“Being a slow runner means you don’t catch on right away so you may need more practice.”

Renner Gerrity explained that he was a slow runner at area and perimeters but was a fast runner in addition. He wasn’t concern about being a slow runner in one portion of math because, “I know I will get to the finish line eventually.”

What does the word, “yet”, mean to you?

“When you say, ‘I can’t do it, yet’, what you are actually saying is you can’t doubt yourself,” Aiden Rinaldi said. Dickinson added, “To say ‘I can’t do it’  - to saying – ‘I can’t do it, yet’, changes the whole sentence.”

What does it mean to go your own pace?

“I don’t compare myself to others because we are learning at our own pace,” began Jack Mace. “And, I know I will eventually get there. I like working by myself.”

Arianna Lewis agreed. “In this classroom we have our own targets – and I know I’ll catch up.”

What keeps you motivated and to continue learning?

“What motivates me is standing up and giving my body a break from sitting,” Ciez explained. “I use a bouncing ball when I sit because I like moving.” (Note: When I explained to him that when I was in school, I would have gotten in trouble for not remaining at my desk, Ciez was genuinely flabbergasted, putting his hand over his mouth in shock and asked me, “Why?” I explained that at that time, it would have been considered disruptive to other students. He remains baffled.)

More than one student stated that it was Mrs. Melcher who helped them to remain motivated. “We care what she thinks” and “She does a lot for us” were two reasons why.

https://www.msspa.orgMy time ended there – which gave me the opportunity to visit and observe Jen Key and the Kindergartners who were each working in groups at various tables (purple, blue, orange, yellow, green and red.) Each student at each table was working on their individualized programs in literacy.

There - the students taught me that perseverance is the key to success and that they all are “Lexia” superstars in their own individual ways. They know that, at times, learning can be hard, but they know the steps to take to get help when faced with difficulties. One student explained. “If you don’t know how to build a space ship, then ask a space man for help.”

When the students left for recess, Key who has been teaching for nine years, along with her high school student assistant, Heather Carper had a few minutes to talk. Carper is attending the Vocational Center in Westbrook, taking classes in education. She is a senior who plans to attend the University of Maine at Farmington to become a teacher. It was nine years ago when she was in elementary school.

Both Key and Carper agreed that they have witnessed and experienced in their own roles in education (one as a teacher, the other as a student) that even in the past nine years, the style and method in education has changed significantly. And, both agree - for the better.

https://www.schoolspring.com/search.cfmI also had the chance to visit Rebecca Miller and Courtney Espejo, second-grade teachers who co-teach the social skills class. “We have recognized that children do not get to play outside in unstructured ways like they used to in order to resolve issues naturally,” explained Miller. “So, we have created this social skills program to work on that.”

In this program, students learn about conflict resolution, gain listening skills that includes examples
on ways to be respectful. “Conflict resolution means helping to solve a problem or to give ideas and strategies to solve a problem,” stated Brady Legere. Aubrey McInnis added, “Once you learn the strategies, you can help solve or prevent future conflicts.”

My last stop of the day was a visit with Julie Young, who is in her 14th year as Instructional Leader. “I manage and analyze academic data and coordinate academic support for both the learners and teachers.”

As a certified school administrator, Young stated, “We know more now due to brain research that supports evidence-based learning practices. As a result, we do our best to make education transparent to the student – taking the mystery out of their academic learning.”

Ciez, the second-grade student who was one of the first students to be interviewed, best explains what Young means. “Our education is like learning how to drive. You learn each step of the way. And these steps teach us how to drive in school and in life.”

Today’s educational landscape is preparing children to be the gifted future leaders of America. I, for one, have high hopes for a healthy and intelligent society that these young people will provide.

Long standing challenges of Gore Road in Raymond may come to an end

By Lorraine Glowczak

Approximately 15 to 20 individuals whose property is on or abuts Gore Road in Raymond attended the Raymond Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting on the evening of Tuesday, April 9th to speak on the issue that has been a topic of discussion for over 30 years or more.

Briefly, the first segment of Gore Road starting at the intersection at Webbs Mills Road in Raymond is a publicly accepted town way. As you travel toward Little Sebago Lake, the road becomes a private road, for approximately ¼ of a mile -and then at the Raymond/Gray town line becomes a public road way again in the Town of Gray.

The Town of Raymond currently plows and maintains the public way portion of Gore Road located in Raymond but does not maintain the private portion of the road. The issue is that this section of the road, which is used by Gray residents, is filled with potholes, causing damage to both public and private vehicles. Since the private road is a major connecting point between the two town it has become nearly impassable. Also under consideration is the lack of safety from a patient care standpoint.

The road’s condition is beyond capacity for the private land owners to improve. What makes this private road unique is that it is a thoroughfare, and not a dead end as is the case for most private roads.
Through many discussions between the two towns, public works directors and municipal attorneys, Raymond Town Manager Don Willard has described the proposed resolution as a “creative solution to a unique situation.”

It was stated in an email to Willard from Gray Town Manager, Deborah Cabana that Nathan White, Raymond Public Works Director said Raymond Gore Road can be fixed for $80K to no more than $100K. If the funds were available to Raymond for this purpose, White and his crew will do as much
of the work as he is able and Steve LaVallee (Gray Public Works Director) indicated that he could also provide some equipment and man-power for this project.

http://windhamrecreation.org/The email also stated that Raymond is interested in purchasing the Town of Gray’s hydraulic lifts as well as their 2010 Volvo Wheeler. Instead of purchasing these items from Gray, the Town of Gray could donate these vehicles (with their monetary value) to Raymond to be used towards the funds needed for the repair of the ¼ mile of Gore Road.

The residents in Gray that access their homes via Gore Road who would benefit from this improvement have indicated that they could raise around $25,000.

It is possible that the Raymond property owners on this section of private road may contribute $500 each. (Around 9 or 10 property owners for a value of $4500 or $5000), the total monetary value from the Town of Gray and Gray residents is about $92,500. If you add the contribution of the Raymond property owners, the total contribution would be approximately $97,000 that would go towards the repair of ¼ mile private Gore Road.

The Board of Selectmen asked for those present at the BOS meeting to express their thoughts on the proposed solution. The consensus was to move forward, agreeing to pay the portion of funds requested of them (which includes $250 for title work. A few exceptions apply.)

The next step in the process is for Gore Road residents to get a petition signed by all property owners on Gore Road who will be affected by the change. They must have this petition signed by Tuesday, April 23rd where it will be considered at the Board of Selectmen's meeting where discussion on this issue will ensue. Also to be considered by Gore Rode property owners is a signed promissory note (or cash to the Town) to pay for the fees. 

April 5, 2019

Broadband, septic inspections and workforce shortage among topics discussed at Chamber’s third annual legislative forum

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce hosted their third annual legislative forum on Saturday, March 30 at Saint Joseph’s College Alfond Center from 10 a.m. to noon. The first 30 minutes was dedicated to networking, coffee and conversation with an opportunity for area business owners, residents and local town officials to discuss with their delegates the concerns, issues and public policies that affect the Lakes Region area.

The morning’s event began with a welcome by Dr. James Dlugos, President of Saint Joseph’s
College. Chamber Director, Lynn Mansfield and Chamber President, Zack Conley introduced and thanked the seven Lake Region delegates in attendance: Rep. Sue Austin, Rep. Jess Fay, Rep. Mark Bryant, Rep. Patrick Corey, Senator Bill Diamond, Rep. Walter Riseman and Rep. Lester Ordway.

Town Manager, Don Willard, was the first to begin the answer and question portion of the event. After thanking the legislators for their time, Willard stated that he has attended the forum all three years. “Each time, I check in to see where the process is on the state level regarding broadband internet.” He said.

General responses from the delegates stated that there are positive steps being made. “The new administration is committed to in a big way,” Diamond said but added that there were financial challenges as part of the work in progress.

Another constituent in the audience brought up the concern regarding the pressure local school boards face due to unfunded education mandates and the issue surrounding the 55% funding formula. The general consensus of the delegates was that there are many variables that come into play and that the formula used is based upon a region’s need and year to year costs. “This formula is very complicated, and I don’t know if we can get to a truly 55% funding number,” Ordway said.

Windham Town Councilman, Jarrod Maxfield, expressed his concerns regarding Windham’s infrastructure challenges that include sewers, roads as well as broadband internet. “Due to the environment we are seeing on our lakes and watersheds, and the fact that phosphorus is a contributing factor, I would like to see septic tank inspections.” Fay responded saying that she was a sponsor of a bill to support this very issue, making septic tank inspections a requirement for lake shore line residents during a sale transaction. “The bill has passed the House and it seems to be getting a lot of bipartisan support,” Fay said.

The concern regarding minimum wage requirements was also discussed with a sentiment that the increased wages can be a challenge for the small business owner. “Those who are promoting these wages may not know the costs it takes to own a small businesses in Maine,” both Corey and Diamond concurred.

This topic lead to the challenge faced not only by the Lakes Region area but the whole State of Maine, and that is the topic of workforce shortage.

“We need to find a way to attract young people to Maine or to stay in Maine,” Ordway said. “We need to think outside the box.”

A 2016 Saint Joseph College graduate, Dominic McQuire who is employed by the college in the Department of Information Technology spoke about his perspective on the subject as a young adult who is originally from California. “There is something that lacks here and that is wireless technology,” McQuire began. “An up-to-date wireless infrastructure is one major factor and is what’s going to keep people here.”

The Chamber plans to continue this question and answer venue in the future. Those who wish to be included in future announcements such as these, should follow the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce on Facebook or sign up for their e-newsletter on the homepage of their website: www.SebagoLakesChamber.com.

New map provides insight into water quality trends on the Presumpscot River

A new interactive map, available to view online, shows changes in water quality over the past 10 years. The map includes sites along the Presumpscot River from Sebago Lake through Standish, Windham, Gorham, Westbrook, Falmouth and Portland.

For Maine’s most urban river, the good news is that the majority of the top recreational spots along the Presumpscot River have been generally below the state threshold and stable for E. coli bacteria levels. The concerning news is that many of the tributaries to the Presumpscot River exceeded state standards for bacteria levels the majority of the time, and bacteria levels are increasing at many of these sites.

The Presumpscot River watershed covers much of Greater Portland and is the largest freshwater input into Casco Bay. As the region has quickly grown so has recreational use of the river; there are now over 20 water access points for paddling the river, several swimming holes, and numerous great fishing spots. Due to the recent removal of barriers, the river now hosts the largest fish migration from Casco Bay.

Clean water is critical to safe recreation and for healthy wildlife habitat in the watershed. The community-based nonprofit, the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, works to conserve and steward land and clean water while also providing access for recreation throughout the watershed and beyond.

2019 will be the third year of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust’s water stewards program, building on over a decade of work by the Presumpscot River Watch. The Land Trust uses the findings from the water stewards program to help identify important places to conserve land and work in collaboration with partners on restoration projects.

Over 150 volunteer citizen scientists have collected water samples at 40 sites throughout the Presumpscot River watershed over the past 10 years. The Land Trust tests for two important indicators of clean water:  E. coli bacteria (an indicator of potential fecal contamination) and dissolved oxygen (needed for most wildlife to survive in the water).  The results from the past 10 years, both averages and trends, can be viewed in an interactive map at www.prlt.org/water.

The Water Stewards program works in collaboration with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Volunteer River Monitoring Program. The Land Trust volunteer citizen scientists collect water quality samples throughout the Presumpscot River watershed and Stroudwater River every other Saturday during the summer months for a total of ten sampling events per year. The state uses this data to identify rivers and streams that do not attain state standards and works with partners to develop restoration plans that address potential water quality problems in the watershed.   Mary Ellen Dennis, coordinator of the state Volunteer River Monitoring Program stated, “volunteer groups like the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust collect water quality samples from locations not regularly monitored by our staff. This allows us to have a better idea of water quality conditions for a broader geographic area.”

The Water Stewards program would not be possible without community volunteers. The Land Trust is now actively looking for volunteers for the 2019 season. Volunteers can sign up online by going to www.prlt.org.

Thank you to Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, USM’s Environmental Science and Policy Department, Town of Windham Watershed Protection Fund, IDDEX Laboratories and to the Land Trust Business Partners and Individual Members for supporting the water stewards program.


Making a clean water determination includes assessing water quality over long periods of time (to observe trends) and collecting several different types of data. Presumpscot River Watch (before merging with the Land Trust) collected data and provided it to the State of Maine for ten years. Starting in 2018 the Land Trust also began collecting water quality samples along the Stroudwater River. The annual water quality results can be viewed in an online map at www.prlt.org/water.

The Land Trust collects data on water temperature, dissolved oxygen and E. coli bacteria in its water sampling. Other factors affecting water quality are petroleum products, heavy metals and nutrients (such as nitrogen or phosphorus). Testing for these additional factors is not feasible for the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust’s water stewards program without significant program expansion. The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust would like to collaborate in the future with other organizations that have the equipment and capacity to expand the water quality monitoring program in the Presumpscot River and Stroudwater River.

‘Hands-free’ should be the law for Maine roads

By Bill Diamond

You don’t have to look hard to see examples of distracted driving on Maine roads. Next time you pull up to an intersection, take a look at the cars around you. Chances are you’ll see at least one person fiddling with their phone — talking, texting, emailing, checking their social media or doing who-knows-what-else. Even worse, you will see people doing the very same while driving down the road.
Unfortunately, it’s not hard to see examples of this behavior leading to tragedy.

Last year, a North Berwick woman was driving in Warren when she reached for her cellphone, which
had slid onto her passenger seat. She veered into oncoming traffic, striking two cars. Thankfully, everyone involved survived.

Also last year, a Gorham man was distracted on his cell phone when he rear-ended another vehicle on I-95 in Hampden. His car caught fire, and the passengers in the other car had to be taken to the hospital.

In 2016, a teenage girl drove through a red light in York while texting on her phone. An oncoming truck swerved to avoid her, causing a 10-car pileup. Four people were taken to the hospital.
Again in 2016, a teenage girl was texting and driving in New Canada when she lost control of her car, slid off the road, went airborne and landed in some nearby trees. She suffered a broken neck.

These are just a few recent examples of an increasingly common phenomenon on Maine and U.S. roads. Maine first passed a law prohibiting texting and driving in 2011. That year, Maine State Police wrote 48 tickets for texting and driving; in 2016 they wrote 866 such tickets. That same year, 365 crashes in Maine were attributed to texting or dialing on a cellphone. This is an issue on par with drunk driving.

The issue today is that it is difficult for law enforcement officials to identify when someone is texting when they’re driving versus doing something else, such as dialing or entering an address into a GPS. When officers pull someone over who they believe is texting, that person can just say “no, I was dialing a phone number,” and there’s no way for the officer to know if they’re telling the truth. This has essentially taken the teeth out of our anti-texting and driving law.

I have a bill in this session to fix this issue. LD 165 “An Act To Prohibit the Use of Handheld Phones and Devices While Driving” would do exactly what it says: ban the use of handheld electronic devices while driving in Maine. It makes an exception for hands-free devices and instances where someone is communicating with emergency personnel. The bill does not apply to two-way or band radios.

This bill will make it clear for drivers and law enforcement officials alike: Fiddling with or using handheld electronic devices while driving is distracted driving, and it is dangerous. I am hopeful that it will be passed through the Legislature and signed by the governor.

April is distracted driving month – let’s join all of the other states in New England, with the exception of Massachusetts, and 16 other states around the country banning hand-held electronic devices while driving.

If you have any ideas, questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office at
287-1515 or diamondhollyd@aol.com. I work for you and my line is always open.

Programs work to stop hunger in RSU14

By Matt Pascarella

The Maine Hunger Initiative website states Maine is ranked seventh worst for food insecurity, or hunger, in the nation and that food insecurity affects 16.4% of households in Maine. Those are terrible facts. Now, here’s some good news: there is a program right here in Windham that is working to combat those numbers.

Jeanne Reilly, Ryan Roderick, Marge Govoni
The Backpack Program runs the length of the school year and supplies food to grades kindergarten through fifth grade. It doesn’t supply actual backpacks, but rather a bag of food that can go home with a child when they need it.

The program serves Raymond Elementary, Windham Primary School and Manchester School. Program director Marge Govoni, Chef Ryan Roderick and Director of School Nutrition, Jeanne Reilly as well as a group of dedicated volunteers help make this program the success that it is.

Hannaford had put the program in other schools and approached the district about the possibility of putting it in place in Windham. Early on, there were some funding issues, so Govoni visited Windham Weaponry and asked them for their support. What started out as a program that supported 50 students was able to grow to a program that supported over 150 students because of the generosity of the employees there along with support from the community. Govoni stressed that the unselfishness from the public and local businesses has been great. “If you’re going to [donate] you feel better when it’s to something right in your own community,” she says.

The donations are put into plastic bags donated by Hannaford, and the bags are then put into totes which are delivered to the schools, usually packed two to three weeks at a time. Since variety is important, especially in food, the schedule of which foods a student gets alternates from week to week.

Ryan Roderick, the new chef for the district, took the position January 1, 2019. He is responsible for working with all the kitchens in the district. Roderick’s job is one of many different hats; the backpack program being one of the hats. He is responsible for quality control and consistency across the schools; “We do a lot of other fun activities...like going into health classes and educating about the food world,” he added.

Roderick has prior experience working in restaurants and in hospitality. He started into school nutrition as a kitchen manager and “I began finding joy in feeding our future. Working with kids is really enjoyable, the mission and the goal of creating a healthier future for our kids and for our country was really appealing, so when this opportunity [the chef position] came up...it was the logical next choice.”

“And the kids love him!” Govoni exclaims.

Apart from the Backpack Program there is also the Village Fund which is meant to help those families who do not qualify for free or reduced meals and who may be just a few pennies over the qualification threshold.

The Village Fund stems from the knowledge and daily awareness that there are families in the community who, although they may not qualify for reduced or free meals, still struggle to provide their children with a well-balanced and nutritious breakfast and lunch. These children can come to school without having breakfast and/or without a lunch. “It is our mission to feed [these children]” remarked Reilly. “To provide them with a meal, regardless of their ability to pay. Free and reduced meals are available for families throughout the school year; families just need to fill out a yearly application to make sure they qualify.”

They encourage every family to fill out an application at the beginning of the school year. And at any time during the school year, when they have a change in economic status, loss of job hours, etc. Reilly, her co-workers and volunteers are aware that a family’s budget can change at any time for any reason.

As a team, they are each very passionate about making sure kids eat.

“We believe that healthy, nutritious food is a basic human right and that no child should go through the school day hungry,” reiterates Reilly. 

Windham’s Modern Woodmen of America will be holding a fundraiser from now until April 27. It will be closed at the Travis James Humphrey Music with a Mission Concert at North Windham Union Church where all proceeds will benefit the Backpack program. Modern Woodmen will match donations up to $500!

To mail any donations, you can send them to: 

Hannah McFarland MWA
909 Roosevelt Trail
Windham, Maine 04062     
If you would like to donate to the Backpack Program:
Checks may be made payable to RSU #14; please note “Backpack Program” in memo.
Please send donations to:
ATTN: Ryan Roderick
RSU #14
228 Windham Center Road
Windham, ME 04062

If you would like to donate to the Village Fund:
Monetary donations can be sent to:
The Village Fund
c/o Windham Raymond School Nutrition Program
228 Windham Center Road
Windham, ME 04062

Windham woman makes it to the top of loan officers

Acadia Lending Group, LLC is pleased to announce that Skylar Welch of Windham, has placed number 32 amongst 50 of the nation’s top loan originators, and is the only Maine loan originator to make the list.

What makes this even more outstanding is that she is one of few women on the list and has been in the business for only four years while seated amongst veterans of 30 plus years.

Welch has quickly grown an outstanding career as a loan officer at Acadia Lending Group, LLC where she started out as the assistant to the owners in 2011. She has been originating loans on her own since 2015 and within this short time has grown an extremely impressive portfolio with many accolades along the way.

Welch has achieved this success while raising a family of three with her husband, Brian. He and her children: Kai age six, Harbor age three and Luna age one, are very proud of her success.
Welch strives to be a committed member of her community and local school system, while continuing to grow her career as a loan officer.

After 29 years of hosting Speak Out, Senator Bill Diamond retires

By Lorraine Glowczak

Senator Bill Diamond appeared to be surprised by the crowd of family, friends and supporters who filled the chamber room at the Windham Town Hall on Thursday, March 28 where the monthly “Speak Out” is filmed and recorded.

He may or may not have been aware that those present received the word and wanted to be there to support him and see him off for his last hosting hoorah. Senator Diamond is retiring.

Senator Diamond's wife, Jane, one daughter
and a few of his grandchildren were present as Diamond
signed off as host of Speak Out.
To be very clear, the greater Lakes Region Senator whose district includes the towns of Baldwin, Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish and Windham is not retiring from his role as senator. He’s just simply stepping down as the host of Speak Out.

“When David (Gallagher) told me he was retiring, I thought about it and decided it was a good time for me to retire from Speak Out, too,” Diamond said. Gallagher is the producer of Speak Out.

The first part of the hour focused on the Windham Community Center project that has been in the works for the past couple of years. Guests on the show included Pat Moody, who chairs the Community Center Committee as well Joe Crocker, a Windham resident who is also as a member of the committee and works as a Program Coordinator for the Lewiston Parks and Recreation Department.

The second half of the hour-long show was dedicated to reminiscing the past 29 years. Long time Windham resident who was the creator of Speak Out, Jim Cobb and Dave Tobin, a past state representative from Windham, joined Senator Diamond.

“Jim approached me and suggested a monthly show format to discuss important issues and public policies that were important to Windham. I thought it was a great idea,” Diamond stated. “He then suggested that I be the host of the show. Jim is the one who came up with the term, Speak Out. I wasn’t very keen on that title, but then it grew on me and I agreed that it was a great label.”

Cobb and Tobin offered a variety of memories. “Bill, you have done almost everything,” Tobin said. And then he proceeded to list the multitude of activities and career titles that Diamond has occupied.
Briefly, Diamond was selected to the Maine House of Representatives in 1976 and served in the House until 1982, when he was elected to the Maine State Senate. He served in the Senate until 1986.

In 1989, he succeeded Rodney S. Quinn as Maine's Secretary of State and was re-elected four years later. He returned to elected office in 2004 when he was elected to the Senate. Unable to seek re-election due to term-limits in 2012, Diamond was replaced by Republican Gary Plummer.
In 2014, Diamond again ran for the State Senate, this time in the Windham-based 26th district in Cumberland County, and was elected to a seventh non-consecutive term.

Diamond taught at the Windham Public Schools from 1968 to 1986 and in 1986, he was school superintendent of the Raymond Schools. He was also a member of the Windham Land Trust (now Presumpscot Regional Land Trust). He is on the board of Neighbors helping Neighbors program, on the board of the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals – and the list goes on.

The Speak Out program will continue. Diamond approached both Representative Mark Bryant and Representative Patrick Corey to be the new hosts. Rep. Bryant declined in order to focus on family commitments. Rep. Corey has accepted and will be the new host.

 My biggest hope is that I am able to find topics that Windham’s people find interesting,” Rep. Corey stated.

When asked how he felt about filling the role of the Speak Out host, Corey joked, “Well, I have some pretty big cowboy boots to fill,” referring to the fact the Sen. Diamond is known for often wearing his favorite cowboy boots.

The evening ended with a celebration of cake and ice cream as Sen. Diamond said his last goodbye as the host of Speak Out.

The next Speak Out will be on Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m.