December 3, 2021

In the public eye: Sally Bannen takes pride in work for Windham Public Library

Sally Bannen, Technical Services Librarian at the Windham
Public Library, always looks forward to going to work every
day and says her favorite part of her job is helping patrons 
and connecting with the community. 
PHOTO BY LORRAINE GLOWCZAK  
By Lorraine Glowczak

Editor’s note: This is another in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.


Technical Services Librarian, Sally Bannen has worn many hats since she began working at the Windham Public Library (WPL) 27 years ago. She began her career at WPL as a volunteer but when offered a full-time job, she accepted.

“Inese Gruber became Director of the Windham Public Library in 1994 and she offered me the Circulation Supervisor position,” Bannen said. “This was pre-computerization so I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years.”


One of those changes was and continues to be, the advancement of technology. Through the encouragement of Gruber, Bannen pursued her Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of South Carolina and in 2004 she was promoted to her current position where she manages cataloging, organizes free weekly movie programs, provides outreach services, writes the monthly newsletter, and as she puts it, “a fair amount of silliness to keep things fun.”


What many may not know about Bannen is that she is from and currently lives in Windham, graduating from Windham High School in 1987 with a passion for art. Bannen never dreamed she would someday work in a library – let alone her hometown library.


Pursuing her love for the art world, Bannen attended Plymouth State University and received her undergraduate degree in art. After college, she worked as an assistant curator at the Southeast Asia Art Foundation in Hill, New Hampshire identifying Javanese architecture and processing photographs and slides.

“I worked there until the grant money ran out and that’s when I returned home to Windham,” Bannen said. “I started volunteering at the Portland Museum of Art and also the Windham Public Library to occupy my free time and gain experiences. What surprised me is that it turned out working at the library was a much better fit for me than the art world. I love my job and I love helping people”

Bannen and the other library staff work to help connect the community to materials and information and provide it all for free for all ages. 


“We provide free programs that inspire imagination and social interaction and have devices that allow free access to the internet and a printer as well as platforms that provide free digital entertainment and research - and the librarians to assist you with navigating all of those things,” Bannen said. “The most challenging part of the job, for me, is keeping up with the technical changes that affect our services. When there is an upgrade in technology, we have to relearn the upgrade as well.”


Bannen said that she and the rest of the librarians are happy to help patrons with their new computers, ipads, and other personal devices and are happy to answer questions people may have about programs such as Excel, etc. The WPL offers a weekly Tech Help every Wednesday from 3 to 5 pm. “The library is more than just about books,” Bannen said.

Bannen loves her role as a Technical Services Librarian for many reasons but there was one special thing that brings her the most joy. “Hands down, my favorite part about my job is helping our patrons and the community. It brings me so much joy.”


Growing up in Windham, Bannen said she has seen many changes at the library and the community itself over the years and looks forward to the future.


“I feel a real connection to this Library and am curious to see where we go in the years to come,” she said. “The library is celebrating its 50th anniversary over the coming months and I'm proud when I look back at all that this institution has done. Librarians, volunteers, community leaders... they've all had a part.” 


When Bannen is not working, you will find her at home with Tom, her husband of 26 years spending time with online gaming and traveling whenever she can, including many trips to Scotland where relatives of her husband once lived. 


Other than traveling, online gaming, and spending time with family and friends – there is one other place she always longs to be. “I’m just one of those lucky people who really enjoy my job. I wake up every morning excited about going to work. There is always something new happening and so many new people to meet. I love my hometown library. I really encourage folks to come to the library or check out our website to see what we offer if you haven't done so in recent years: www.windham.lib.me.us.” <

'Senior Santa Program' brings Christmas cheer for older residents

Time is running out to participate in the 'Senior Santa Program'
administered by Home Instead of Gorham. The deadline is Dec. 6
to choose ornaments and drop-off gifts for seniors at Chutes
Restaurant or the Blue Seal Feed Store in Windham. The gifts
will be delivered later this month in Windham and Raymond.
COURTESY PHOTO  
By Ed Pierce

The good thing about Santa Claus is that no matter what age you are, he can make Christmas wishes become a reality. And once again this year, Santa’s helpers at Home Instead of Gorham are preparing to bring smiles and a dash of Christmas cheer to senior residents of Windham and Raymond.

Through the generous support of the community, local businesses and volunteers, Home Instead’s “Senior Santa Program” has organized “Be A Santa To A Senior” Christmas trees at participating locations which runs through Monday, Dec. 6. The special trees are decorated with ornaments which are handmade by local Girl Scouts and feature seniors’ first names and gift suggestions and requests.

Participants select an ornament to keep, then they purchase the requested presents and return them unwrapped in a holiday gift bag to the tree’s location with the ornament tag attached. Local “Be A Santa To A Senior” tree locations include Chute’s Restaurant, 686 Roosevelt Trail in Windham and at Blue Seal Feeds, 43 Main St. in South Windham.

For those who cannot find an ornament, donated items can also be dropped off at the tree locations and program organizers say that some gifts are always needed by local seniors. Those items include knitted or crochet hat and scarves; plush throws; body cream for dry or sensitive skin; men’s and women’s hats and gloves; snacks both sugar and sugar-free; calendars; puzzle books; stationary; stamps; grocery gift certificates; and tissue paper and large sturdy Christmas bags.

Kathy Damon, a home care consultant for Home Instead, said that the “Senior Santa Program” served 575 seniors in Cumberland County a year ago and works with many different nonprofits and agencies serving seniors to develop a list of gifts to be given to those in need.

Damon said that here in Windham, volunteers will pair up with Windham Police Department officers to deliver the gifts in the coming weeks.

“For some seniors receiving the gifts they have very modest requests, and the best part of doing this comes when the gifts are delivered to them,” Damon said. “They are just so appreciative and grateful.”

According to Damon, in 2020 the community’s response to the “Senior Santa Program” was astounding and she expects that support will continue this year too.

“People who do this seem to be over-the-top generous,” she said. It’s just so overwhelming in such a positive way. We’ve had people taking two, three or four ornaments at a time.”

In developing the list of seniors who will receive gifts, Damon said many of the recipients do not have families or are financially strapped. She said gift requests typically range from meals to a warm pair of socks to winter coat and boots and the “Senior Santa Program” does its best to make sure their gift requests are achieved.

The program is open to all seniors in Cumberland County, although they need to be referred through an agency such as Windham’s Ledgewood Manor.

Managing the logistics of trying to deliver so many requested gifts to so many seniors is a challenge, but one that Damon said that Home Instead staff members and volunteers welcome every Christmas.

“It’s very heartwarming to know this program is so well received in the community,” she said. I think everyone should take away from this and realize that there are seniors who can be overlooked at this time of year,” she said. “It can be very lonely for people. This program sends the message that there are people in the community who care about them and want to make their holidays brighter.”

Damon said the “Senior Santa Program” connects some isolated seniors with friends and neighbors who want them to know they are not forgotten during the holiday season.

“I think everyone should take away from this and realize that there are seniors who can be overlooked at this time of year,” she said. “It can be very lonely for people. This program sends the message that there are people in the community who care about them and want to make their holidays brighter.”

For more information about the program, visit BeaSantatoaSenior.com or call 207-839-0441. <

New Christmas production a fun way to enjoy holidays at Schoolhouse Arts Center

A new winter production debuts at Schoolhouse Arts Center
in Standish on Friday, Dec. 3 and is called 'Laughing All the
Way.' Playwright Brian Daly composed four original songs 
for the production and also appears in the play.
PHOTOI BY EMMA BENNETT  
By Emma Bennett

Special to The Windham Eagle

The new winter production being staged at Schoolhouse Arts in Standish is called Laughing All the Way!” and it’s a musical for the whole family to see. In this one, Santa takes us back in time to Christmas Eve, the night he almost had a close call with the Christmas-crazy Wassail family, an unexpected run-in with a greedy pickpocket, and a bound Christmas Angel who was just trying to do her job.

“Laughing All the Way'' is an original play by playwright Brian Daly, an actor in the show, who plays Baby Rudolph, the youngest of the Wassails. This is the first time this play has been brought to the stage! The play consists of around sixteen musical numbers, twelve of which are old favorites such as “Jingle Bells” and “Here Comes Santa Claus”, and four of which are original songs written by Brian Daly, himself.

“Laughing All The Way!” debuts at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3 at the Schoolhouse Arts Center, 16 Richville Road in Standish, with performances continuing at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec, 5; 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10; 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12. Tickets can be purchased online at www.schoolhousearts.org

“I love Christmas music, so I thought it would be fun to write a show that had Christmas music as the score,” Daly said.

Greg Pomeroy who plays the role of Santa Claus said, “It's fun having the playwright in the cast and watching his reaction as we bring his words to live theater,” said Greg Pomeroy who plays the role of Santa Claus.

Daly enjoys writing children’s books, screenplays, musicals, and plays. He has already signed a contract for one of his novels coming out soon and a play being produced and published.

Daly, after a production of one of his other shows two years ago, originally asked Director, Zac Stearn, whether he would be interested in producing this show at Schoolhouse and it had been agreed and decided upon. As COVID hit and put a damper on all theaters in the area, the show held off for a while.

But as 2021 came around, Stearn called him back and suggested they continue what they started. “It's the perfect time, right? Everyone's going to want to feel good because a lot of people missed Christmas last year," Stearn says. “This year, we want to find a safe way for everyone to enjoy Christmas together.”

Stearn took the time to talk about some of his most memorable experiences on this theatrical journey and some of the challenges posed on his team in the past eight weeks of production.

“Every show that I've directed is a process, right? You always see the beginning and it's very clunky,” Stearn said. “That's the word I use a lot. It's very clunky and very wonky. But then you hit a certain moment where the cast begins supporting one another and then everything just clicks.”.

Stearn also mentioned that the show had originally been written for a cast of nine people. As there are 44 with 23 under the age of 15 with ages ranging up to the 70s in this production, there were challenges in modifying the script.

Brian Daly had to rewrite some of the script to accommodate the number of people in the show. Some scenes that weren’t in the original copy were added to the script. Everyone who auditioned got casted, because they wanted as many people as possible to experience the joy of performing on stage.

The entire cast of 44 has had a splendid time, not only making the most of every minute spent on stage, but spending time with friends and family members, a large number of which are in the cast performing together.

First-timer 7-year-old Bailey Labon said, “I haven't had much experience, but I do like making a lot of new friends.”

Elise Pierson, 9, said “I love seeing how the show all comes together.”

Other young actors and actresses in the show agree that a considerable part of their memorable moments have been spent both onstage and backstage hanging with long-time friends and making new ones as well.

Some notable individuals who’ve contributed to the show’s theatrical magic and pizazz behind the scenes include Ellen Stanley, stage manager; Diane Hancock, musical director; and Emma Tompkins, choreographer. Ellen Stanley was responsible for communications, scheduling, conflicts, and running the stage crew for set changes between scenes. Diane Hancock handled music rehearsals and making sure each individual sounded top-notch.

Emma Tompkins was responsible for movement on the stage and working partially as an assistant to every other task that needed to be completed. A few years ago, she had also choreographed one of Brian Daly’s previous shows, “Come Out Swinging”.

Tech week seemed a tumultuous time for both cast and crew members as they rushed to get light cues, sound cues, and set changes down to a tee for the coming weekend of opening shows. Long nights were spent just to get lights and sounds programmed for the next few days of rehearsals, getting the lights to coordinate with sound and the bodies moving on the stage. Within only a few days of run-throughs, everything seemed to fall into place. The stage teemed with an energy that sent chills down a spine.

A musical two years in the works, the cast is thrilled to make Daly’s words finally come to life.

As opening night approaches, one last word of warning is necessary: Watch out for snowballs! <

Family seeks identity of World War II soldiers in photos

A family from Maine seeks to learn the identity of soldiers
depicted in photos taken during World War II that were
discovered in a lost cache of photo negatives found when
their father died in 2014. They hope to share the images
with families of those in the photos. COURTESY PHOTO
By Ed Pierce

The identity of soldiers in a recently discovered cache of photographs taken by a U.S. Army veteran from Maine continues to elude his children who are looking to connect names with the images.

Richard Perkins of Maine passed away at the age of 92 in 2014 and he left behind a treasure trove of hundreds of photos he took while stationed in Hawaii with the U.S. Army in the early days of World War II.

Trained as a radio operator, Perkins was stationed at Fort Shafter in Honolulu, and he worked at an underground base inside of Diamond Head there. According to his family, except for a few stories, Perkins seldom talked about his military service or his time in Hawaii with his relatives.

Fort Shafter has served as the home of the senior Army headquarters in Hawaii for more than a century. Construction began in 1905 on the former Hawaiian crown lands that were ceded to the United States government after its annexation. When the post opened in 1907, it was named for Major General William Rufus Shafter, who led the United States expedition to Cuba in 1898. It’s estimated that hundreds of soldiers from Maine passed through Fort Shafter or were stationed there during World War II.

In cleaning out his home after he died, Perkins’ daughter, Alice Smith, and his son Dana Perkins, found a large tin container under his stairs containing rolls of film negatives that had been developed, but not turned into photographs.

A few years after their discovery, Dana Perkins scanned each of the negatives into his computer and he then printed up hundreds of never-before-seen photographs of World War II taken by his late father.

The images show many different people and locations in Hawaii including military members serving in the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps, along with civilian USO performers, and Hawaiian residents and local children who lived in the area surrounding the U.S. Army base at Fort Shafter.

Trying to identify the individuals their father captured on film has proven to be a significant challenge for Alice Smith and Dana Perkins though.   

They have spent the past few years attempting to learn as much as they possibly could about the people and locations in the photographs. Along the way, they have received a generous amount of assistance from Milton Migita, a curator at the U.S. Army Museum in Hawaii, and also they have been helped by the general public, who have either heard about their story through media accounts or through a number of online groups pertaining to World War II and other social media posts and stepped forward to identify some of the people in the photos.

Dana Perkins said that each of the photographic images that were discovered in Maine are now available for review by the public as he compiled them into a book that is posted online. He said the original negatives, images, and three different photo albums have been donated to the U.S. Army Museum and the National Park Service in Hawaii.

Many of the people and faces in the photographs remain to be identified and it is the goal of Alice Smith and Dana Perkins that someone in Maine will recognize their father, grandfather, uncle, mother, grandmother, aunt, or some other friend or relative in the photos and the family of veterans in the photos can share the image of their loved one.

The photos can be viewed online at: www.WW2PacificVeteransProject.org

Should you recognize anyone in the photographs after viewing them, please contact Alice Smith or Dana Perkins through the WW2 Pacific Veterans website, or by writing to them at: World War 2 Pacific Veterans Project, PO Box 789, Biddeford, ME 04005 or by email at info@ww2pacificveteransproject.org <

Ways to give abundant this season in Sebago Lakes Region

By Ed Pierce

Every year during the holidays, each of us are given many options to practice generosity and this year is no exception. Right here in the Sebago Lakes Region, Salvation Army bellringers are stationed outside Walmart, while many churches have special collections for charities and other causes. 

There are toy drives, food drives, bottle drives and a bevy of initiatives locally that benefit all aspects of the community. Whether it be sponsoring a family for Christmas through the “Adopt-A-Family Program” offered by The Windham Eagle and the Windham Maine Community Board or writing a check to Windham’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors heat homes of residents lacking heating fuel, there’s certainly no shortage of available opportunities to be generous this Christmas in Windham and Raymond.

Here’s a quick rundown of current agencies seeking help locally this year:   

** Food donations may be made to the Raymond Food Pantry at Lake Region Baptist Church, 1273 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond or by calling the church at 207-655-4334. Donations may also be made to the Windham Food Pantry, 8 School Road, Windham.  The Windham Lions Club is asking for help to Stuff a Bus with food from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Hannaford Supermarket in Windham. Food donations to help homeless veterans can be brought to the Windham Veterans Center, 35 Veterans Memorial Drive, behind Hannaford from 9 to 11 a.m. every Wednesday.

** Raymond Scout Troop 800 is having a Bottle drive from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday Dec.  11 at the Raymond Village Community Church.  For bottle pick-up text 207-513-8570.  

**The Holiday Community Toy Drive to benefit The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center is underway at the following area businesses – Automotive Everything; Sebago Outfitters; CafĂ© Sebago; Sticky Bud Farms; Skin Medical Aesthetics; Forever Two Wheels; Windham Powersports; and Erik’s Church. The rules for that effort ask for new items in original packaging for children in categories such as arts and crafts; infant and baby toys and supplies; toys for toddlers and preschoolers; school-aged children’s toys; toiletries for children; and miscellaneous gifts for children.

** The U.S. Marines’ Toy for Tots drop-off locations are at Planet Fitness, 759 Roosevelt Trail, Windham and Sticky Bud Farms at 815 Roosevelt Trail, Unit 4, in Windham. The final day to donate toys to the program for distribution is Tuesday, Dec. 7. Financial donations are always welcome at www.toysfortots.org

** Windham Middle School has complied a wish list for families of students who need help this Christmas. For details or to help, send an email to Debby Rand Hall at dhall@rsu14.org  Each front office of all the RSU 14 schools has a Christmas wish list available for students and families in need and can be reached at Windham High School 892-1810; Windham Middle School 892-1820; Windham Primary School 892-1840; Manchester School 892-1830; Raymond Elementary School 655-8672; and Jordan-Small Middle School 655-4743.

** The deadline to drop off gifts for the Adopt-A-Family Program is Friday, Dec. 10. Gifts can be taken to Time4Printing at 588 Roosevelt Trail, Windham. <       


Bryant says federal infrastructure bill good for Maine

State Rep. Mark Bryant
AUGUSTA – State Rep. Mark Bryant, D-Windham, has released a statement on the federal, bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that was signed into law last month and says the funding will be of significant benefit to Mainers.

“This new federal legislation, coupled with historic investments the Maine Legislature passed this session, will finally allow us to bridge the gap between our state’s transportation needs and our funding capacity,” said Bryant. “Having served on the Legislature’s Transportation Committee for seven years, I have felt the frustration of this unmet need for too long. In a state as geographically big and rural as ours, the safety and smooth operation of our infrastructure is critical to every Mainer’s well-being.”

According to Bryant, in Maine the bipartisan bill will provide an estimated:

** $1.3 billion in highway and bridge program formula funding through Fiscal Year 2026, including $50 million in additional federal formula funding (representing a 25 percent increase) in the first year

** $225 million in dedicated bridge funding through Fiscal Year 2026

** $19 million across five years to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure

** $241 million over five years to improve public transportation options

** $74 million over five years to improve infrastructure at airports

** At least $100 million to expand high-speed broadband services across the state.

Bryant represents House District 24, part of Windham, and serves on the Maine House’s Transportation Committee and the State and Local Government Committee. <

November 24, 2021

RSU 14 takes option on Windham Center Road site

The RSU 14 Board of Directors have entered into an option
agreement with the owner of the property  at 61 Windham
Center Road as a possible new middle school site. Under the
agreement, the owner agrees to take the property off the
market for a period of up to two years. The cost of the option
is $110,000 for the first year and a second-year extension of
$10,000 per month with payments applied to a purchase
price if chosen. The site is one of many being considered 
for the district's new middle school, which is expected to be
built and open by the start of the 2026 school year.
PHOTO BY ED PIERCE  
By Ed Pierce

Exploring all possible options of where to locate a new middle school, the RSU 14 Board of Directors have entered into an option agreement with the property owner of 61 Windham Center Road in Windham. By entering into the agreement, the owner is agreeing to take the property off the market for a period of up to two years.

According to RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools Christopher Howell, the cost of the option is $110,000 in the first year and if the board votes to move forward with a purchase of the property, $100,000 of the payment would be applied to the purchase price.

“The option to extend in the second year is $10,000 per month. None of the funds from the second year would be applied at closing,” Howell said. “Again, the agreement is an option to purchase and not an outright purchase. By entering into this agreement, the owner is agreeing to take a very valuable piece of property off the real estate market.”

He that the property at 61 Windham Center is just one of the properties that is being considered for use by the school district for the new school.

“We are still in the process of looking at all 35-acre plus sites in the district,” Howell said. “The district chose to do an option on this particular property because it is the only property of this size that is on the market in Windham. We have not been approached by any other landowners in Windham about potentially using their property.”

Earlier this month, the Town of Raymond officially offered to donate up to 45 acres of land at 77 Patricia Ave. in Raymond for the site of the new middle school to be built by RSU 14, contingent upon the school district’s approval of the location for the middle school construction. 
 
Howell said the site on Patricia Ave in Raymond will be considered as part of the site selection process for the new school.

“It will take a couple of months to work through the site selection matrix to narrow down all possible places where a building can be sited. About 132 possible 35 plus acres sites have been identified for review,” he said. “Each will need to be examined to determine whether or not it should be a site to look at. Some will be quickly eliminated due to location or if they have been placed into trust or conservation. It will be some time before there will be additional decisions will need to be made. Most of the work will be taking place behind the scenes.”
Once the number of potential school sites has been narrowed by the project architect and civil engineers, the top few sites from that process will be sent to a community straw poll in 2022, Howell said.

“A final site will be recommended by the RSU 14 Board of Directors next year,” he said.

The RSU 14 board will use the straw poll and input from the project architect and civil engineer to recommend a site for purchase to the State Board of Education. The state will reimburse the school district for the site purchase and the reimbursement will be based on the average of two appraisals on the property.

The original Windham Middle School was built in 1977 and intended for a capacity of 483 students. That number has grown in the last year to 636 students, with sixth graders being housed for some classes at the adjacent Field Allen School, originally constructed in 1949.

In September, Raymond selectmen were told that the state has asked if Raymond would join Windham in sending students to the new school. Should the town not choose to do this, it is unlikely that the state would approve new middle school construction for Raymond in the future to replace Jordan-Small Middle School, which has 192 students and was originally built in 1960.

The Raymond Select Board offered the Patricia Avenue site to the school district so Raymond students could attend the new school, but Howell said that even if the new school is built in Windham there are no current plans to close Jordan-Small Middle School.

He said the district will continue to support Jordan-Small renovation work as part of its ongoing budgeting process

The new middle school is expected to be ready by the start of the 2026-2027 school year, Howell said. <

Celebration of Lights to debut at Cumberland Fairgrounds

Maine's Celebration of Lights, a brilliant display of colorful
holiday lighting for the entire family, runs from Nov. 26 to
Jan. 2 with two shows nightly at the Cumberland County
Fairgrounds. SUBMITTED PHOTO   
By Daniel Gray

For the first time, Maine's Celebration of Lights will be held at the Cumberland Fairgrounds this year. Over a mile of brilliant light displays will be showcased for people to drive through, a perfect winter activity for the whole family.

The drive-through event is scheduled to run from Nov. 26 to Jan. 2 and promises a spectacular holiday event for everyone to enjoy. The Celebration of Lights will be open from 5 to 7 p.m. and again from 7 to 9 p.m.

Those interested in attending can purchase tickets online now to make the process quicker.

EJ Dean, Maine Light Show's CEO, encourages people to do online ticketing instead of at the gate.

"We do charge extra on-site for those who didn't get tickets online, but we want to encourage people to purchase online. It's a much faster and smoother process for the on-site staff." said Dean. "It's to also show us how many people are attending so we can maintain how many cars are going in. We want to cut down as much traffic to the community as we possibly can."

To use the online system there are two ways to do it either by email or printed out as tickets. Once the tickets have been purchased, you will have a barcode scan sent to your email. Attendees can simply pull this bar code up on their phone or have it printed out for a worker to scan.

On weekdays, Monday through Thursday, the tickets online are $20 and $25 on-site for regular passenger cars. For limousines or small busses, it is $40. Weekends and holidays, the cost is $23 online and $30 on-site for regular cars, and $50 for limousines or small busses.
Featuring a mile of light tunnels and amazing displays, the event will include a special radio station to immerse the whole family into the holiday season. There will also be classic fair foods sold in a drive-through manner such as hot chocolate, water, fried dough, cotton candy, popcorn, and even fried Oreo cookies.

Both the light show itself and the concession stand are drive-through  only to limit the amount of contact for attendees and workers.

"The whole goal is to make the light show safe and enjoyable for the whole family, regardless of what your comfort level is during this time." Dean said.

The long process of putting the event together itself is a fun one too. Each year during the summer, new displays are created to keep it fresh for returning families.

Randy Parent, operating manager for the light show, has a fondness for what he does.

"I love this job and putting smiles on people's faces. Our company motto is making memories and it is so true. We do what we do so that people can make memories with their friends and loved ones. I've done this job my whole life and honestly have to say that is the best part." Parent said.

Like Parent, there is a crew of 10 who are dedicated to what they do, with two special crew members being Johan Kleynhans and Marius Smit. The set-up process is a lot of work and has them going around the clock. So much pride and passion is put into these light displays just to make families gawk in awe at the end result.

"When the light shows are running, we are always looking for ways to improve and additions we can make. We start fabricating our new light additions in late summer and that continues until right up to opening. We put a lot of pride and effort into our shows and therefore every piece is a labor of love, we think they are all great," Parent said.

At the light show, there are over one million lights used and, while the number of yards is unknown, it's surely in the thousands range. They use custom- built displays and animations that they work with partners on.

"It's a great event. There's a numerous variety of different scenes, different lights, silhouettes, and tunnels of lights. To watch the kids stare at all the hard work that's put in by the crew, it's pretty neat." Dean said.

To purchase tickets, head to www.fiestashows.com/maine-celebration-of-lights <

Mamma Mia performance a hit with flair and surge of joy

Donna, played by WHS senior Alice Morrison, center, sings
with her girlfriends Tanya (senior Emma Chase, left) and 
Rosie (senior Peyton White, right), during the production
of Mamma Mia at Windham High School on Nov. 21.
PHOTO BY JENNIFER SEARWAY  
By Lorraine Glowczak

It was an afternoon of outstanding talent as the cast and ensemble of Mamma Mia swept a captured audience away to a Greek isle in their sixth and final performance on Sunday, Nov. 21. The Windham High School auditorium was packed with individuals trying to remain still in their seats while watching the characters as they sang and danced to the popular tunes of ABBA on a marvelously crafted stage – a popular tourist villa owned by Donna, played by WHS senior Alice Morrison.

Morrison’s spectacular performance as a mother who raised her daughter Sophie (junior, Maddie Hancock) as a single mother on the island, is supported by a cast of other talented theatrical actors – all of whom mastered the genius of vocal harmony.

For those who may need a plot refresher, the audience follows the life of 20-year-old Sophie, who is engaged to be married to Sky (junior, Liam Yates). She has never known who her father is. However, discovering her mother’s diary reveals three possibilities, an adventurer named Sam (senior, William Searway), a writer named Bill (senior, Bradley Smith), and a banker named Harry (senior, Bradley Collins). Without her mother’s knowledge, Sophie mails a wedding invitation to the three men with hopes of having not only to discover who her father is but that he will also walk her down the aisle.

In the meantime, Donna and two of her oldest friends, a frumpy author named Rosie (senior, Peyton White) and a wealthy divorcee fond of facelifts named Tanya (senior Emma Chase who is also student director) prepare for the wedding.

The antics go into drama overdrive throughout the two-hour performance that are interspersed with famous ABBA songs. At the wedding, Donna tells Sophie - and to all gathered there - that her father could be any of the three men. The men do not want their paternity confirmed – each agreeing to be one-third of a father to Sophie. Sam reveals he has loved Donna forever and proposes to Donna, Rosie swoons over Bill, and Sky and Sophie sail away on an adventure.

One guest actor in the show needs a brief highlight and that is the priest overseeing the wedding, Father Alexandrios played by RSU 14’s Superintendent of the Year, Chris Howell.

But perhaps what makes this performance of Mamma Mia so special is the fact that it is the first theatrical live performance since the pandemic hit our shores. Director Rob Juergens, Windham Middle School’s Eighth Grade Social Studies Teacher, who has been directing both WMS and WHS plays for 25 years shares the emotions of the actors about returning to the stage.

“The feelings of everyone involved were complicated,” Juergens said. “Until we actually opened there was fear that we might be shut down from COVID-19. On opening night, I felt such a surge of joy. I was overwhelmed. Every night you could see the energy the cast put into the show, which was a reflection of how much they have missed performing.”

Juergens stated that over 250 people attended each night of the six performances and got to share in that same joy.

 “The audience support, and involvement showed how much they had missed events such as this too.”

Perhaps the first few lines of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” put the actors’ and community’s experience of returning to live theater best: “Ooh - You can dance -You can jive -Having the time of your life.”

Cheers to all the talented cast and crew who made returning to live performance a magical experience - including the following not mentioned above:

Ali-Sophie Koutalakis                                             

Lisa-Molly Plati                                                                                                              

Pepper-Teddy Becker                                            

Eddie (First week)-Dallin Duncan                         

Eddie (Second week)-Lucas Cormier                           

Ensemble:

Hannah Bowker

Ashley Littlefield

Bella Bragdon

Kaitlyn Farrin

Stuart Gabaree

Victoria Lin

Rosario Lydon

Matthew Medina

Molly Plati

Maia Ransom

Bryce Smith

Riley Yates

Tech Director: CJ Payne

Choreographer: Vanessa Beyland

Accompanist: Betty McIntery

Producers: Jennifer Chase and Jennifer Searway

Music director: Dr. Richard Nickerson

The costume, tech and pit crew <

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Festival of Trees to return to Windham Hill UCC

The Fourth Annual Christmas Festival of Trees will be held Dec. 3 to Dec. 5 at Fellowship Hall, Windham Hill United Church of Christ, 140 Windham Center Road in Windham. 

This much-anticipated event for the community of Windham is a showcase for local merchants and organizations as well as a fundraiser for Windham Hill United Church of Christ, the founding church of Windham and a historic landmark for the town.

Festival hours are 2 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. On Sunday, Dec. 5, the festival will be open from noon to 4 p.m. with the Grand Drawing of Winners to be conducted at 4 p.m. Sunday.

The church’s Fellowship Hall will be decorated for the Holiday season and refreshments will be available. 

There will be 20 decorated Christmas trees with lights, each one donated by one of our local businesses or individuals.

The tree sponsor will decorate the tree and then put gifts on and around the tree, many from their store or organization. Winners will receive the tree itself, with its lights and ornaments, all of the gifts on the tree, and all of the gifts under the tree.

At our last Festival of Trees, the winners took home everything from toys and gift items to kitchen supplies and jewelry. There was great excitement at the Grand Drawing.

This year there will be several new trees added to popular donors from the church’s last Festival.

Admission to the Festival of Trees is free and everyone is welcome to visit to see these beautiful trees with the gifts from our tree sponsors. There will be tickets on sale for 50 cents each, 10 for $5 or 40 tickets for $20.

A bucket will be in front of each display. One ticket will be drawn for each tree at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

The winners will need to claim their tree and gifts by 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7.

This event is a fundraising activity of Windham Hill United Church of Christ to benefit their mission program featuring local, national and international missions including: Heifer International; the Root Cellar; Windham Food Pantry; Church World Service; SERRV; and many other organizations.

Windham Hill United Church of Christ is an Open and Affirming church, welcoming all who would come.

The church was founded in 1743 and has been central to the life of Windham throughout Windham’s history as a town. <

Echoes from past voices

Students Nadine Daigneault, left, and Caden
Roy were the winners in a contest to
accurately guess the age of the ash tree on
the grounds of Jordan-Small Middle School
in Raymond. SUBMITTED PHOTO
By Charles Martin

Special to The Windham Eagle

It was a favorite weekend ride for my wife and me. The weekend trip took us through Webb Mills, past the Jordan-Small School, and into Windham.

It was here that our trip culminated, with the purchase of a car full of groceries from Hannaford To Go, the only local store offering the service at the time. One of the landmarks on the trip that always drew my attention was the Jordan-Small Middle School, a quaint, small intimate middle school with grounds that would match any in the state of Maine, thanks to Tom Gumble, groundskeeper for the school.

I told my wife, on numerous occasions, that I would someday teach at that middle school, and after a 35-year stint in the Oxford Hills School District, I pulled stakes and headed out for that adventure that awaits us around each corner.

I have not been disappointed in my move, as the school has lived up to what I imagined it to be. It is a very innocent, and laid back, a place where learning is fun, and one person’s problem becomes everyone's problem. I park each day in the lower lot, and my path into the school takes me by an old green ash tree, one that always captures my attention and in an odd way speaks to me with echoes from voices of the past.

Only a true naturalist can relate to what I am saying. The tree does not actually talk to me, but if you listen closely a mutual connection can be made. After kicking my way through the pile of fallen ash leaves while entering and exiting the school, I decided it was time to give that tree the attention it was seeking from me. I decided that determining the age of the tree was the best start in forming that relationship.

With guidance from Tom Gumble and Bill Nehez, the daytime custodian, I researched boring techniques in which tree rings can be counted to give the accurate age of a tree. With the Ash Borer being a real concern in the state, we decided that to bore the tree might cause undue stress which ultimately could cause death to the tree.

This is a chance we could not take. We therefore took an alternate route and used mathematics to get an approximate, but fairly accurate age. With the help of my students, we measured the circumference of the tree, 5 feet up from the ground and divided this number by Pi to calculate the diameter.

Each tree has a researched growth rate which is then multiplied by the diameter to give you your final answer. Tree growth rates vary from species to species, with the lower growth rates found in trees with slower growth rates.

After creating a schoolwide contest for guessing the age of the tree, two students, Nadine Daigneault and Caden Roy, were the winners, both guessing 156 years of age.

With the age calculated, we subtracted the age from 2021 and determined that the tree germinated in 1864.

By the way, in that year, in the world, Charles Dickens survived a rail crash, Kent, England, in which 10 others were killed. Nationally, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and within the state, the University of Maine, Orono was established. At the local level, Raymond reached a school population of 499 students and rattlesnakes, and panthers still roamed the local terrain.

A story related to me by school secretary Kerry Glew, that most intrigued me, was about one of the grantors of the land, Frances Small, who would travel by horse through the woods to Gray to teach music classes each week. She would set out on a Sunday night and return Friday evenings, a trip she made alone through the vast woods and waterways on a regular basis.

In relationship to the tree, those echoes from voices in the past shared with me that many classes over the years were held under the tree, with kids often times sitting on one particularly long branch that has since succumbed to the ice storm back in 1998. Class pictures were taken by the tree as students graduated from one school to the next.

An interesting note is Echoes from past voices that the tree has a slight bend to it as a result of the ice storm which has altered its growth pattern permanently.

Other stories that I have received from the tree are eye opening and amusing at the same time. Stories include snow drifts so high that kids snowmobiled off the roof of the school. A year-round bin placed in the back of the school yard provided farmers left over food from the school cafeteria, to feed their pigs. A common occurrence at the school was community suppers where students would decorate the tables with flowers and homemade placemats.

Ernie Knight, a resident who taught at Gould Academy, would entertain people after the supper by riding his unicycle around the parking lot to the delight of all present. In the early 1970s, a skunk unleashed its scent so strongly, that school had to be canceled for the day, a story that made its way to the Today Show.

Someday when you drive by, I hope you take the time to at the very least take a gander at the beautiful tree, but if time permits possibly take a stroll around it. Better yet, sit under it and listen closely, as you might also hear those echoes from voices past.

As I near my retirement date, you may see me outside with my kids, jumping into a pile of leaves from that special “wolf” tree or catching falling leaves during a warm autumn day. If so, I truly have captured the simple life that will usher me into retirement.

Note: In an attempt to preserve the rich history of Jordan-Small Middle School, I would love to receive any stories about school life, past and present regarding the school, so that they may be recorded for posterity’s sake. Please send stories to: charles.martin@grsu14.org.

A special thanks to Bill Nehez, Tom Gumble and Kerry Glew for help with this project. <

November 19, 2021

Donated piano brightens local bookshop

Samuel Gifford plays a selection on a baby grand piano that
he and his wife, Elissa, donated to the Bibliophile Bookshop
in Raymond. PHOTO BY BRIANA BIZIER
By Briana Bizier

It all started with a 500-pound baby grand piano and a phone call. Samuel Gifford, a member of Raymond’s Select Board, is in the process of moving. Along the way, Sam was hoping to find a new home for his black Yamaha piano. 

“This piano was given to me back in 2005 by my mother-in-law Ethel Coppock Woodbury, my wife’s mother,” Gifford said. “She was actually terminally ill, in bed, when she gave it to me. It was a very sweet moment.”

The piano, Sam’s wife Elissa Gifford explains that it was considered a “recent” addition to her mother’s life. It was purchased in the 1960s when Ethel and her family were living in Pennsylvania. 

“Right before she passed, my mother was quite concerned about what would happen to her piano,” Elissa said. “Then my husband mentioned that he liked to play the piano, so my mom said ‘well, then it will be yours.’ That’s how it got to Maine.”

Maine is a familiar place for Elissa’s family, who have deep roots in the Raymond area. Although she was raised in Pennsylvania, Elissa’s family on her father’s side is from Maine; her great-great grandparents built the first place on Panther Pond, part of which is still owned by her family.

Sam and Elissa originally wanted to donate their piano to the Raymond schools, but a quick phone call revealed that neither Raymond Elementary School nor Jordan-Small Middle School had room for a baby grand piano. Gifford then called Raymond’s Town Manager Don Willard, who put Sam in touch with Joe Crocker in the town’s Parks and Recreation Department. 

“Like a lot of things in Parks and Rec, if there’s a problem or a donation that no one can figure out, it goes to me,” Crocker said.

He said that Raymond Parks and Recreation would love to have the piano. After Joe agreed, however, reality set in. 

“It turns out you need climate-controlled storage for a piano, you can’t store it on its side, and it’s a whole process to move this thing,” Crocker said. “I was thinking, this is crazy! Oh my gosh, how are we going to do this?”

The eventual solution came thanks to another member of Raymond’s Select Board, Teresa Sadak. 

“Teresa said I should ask the new bookstore in town,” Crocker said. “So I went and asked Jessica Thompson-McCombs, the owner of Raymond’s new Bibliophile Bookshop. We sat down and we talked about Raymond and her journey to the bookstore, and I finally said ‘there’s always an agenda when I come to visit,’” Joe told me, with a laugh. “When I asked her about the piano, she said yes, we’d love that.” Jessica plans to hold children’s piano lessons in her store, and the piano has also already played a starring role in several local musicians’ in-store appearances.

Elissa Gifford said that the sunny and inviting Bibliophile Bookshop feels like a natural home for her mother’s piano. “We’re pleased to have the piano where it is,” Elissa said. “My mother loved to read, and she loved to play the piano. It’s a perfect fit!”

Sam Gifford agrees. “When I first walked in to the Bibliophile, Jessica gave me a hug,” Sam told me. “She was so happy to have the piano. This store is so warm and welcoming. We’re very lucky to have this place, and the piano is living once more. My mother-in-law would be very happy with this.” Donating the piano to the bookshop is also a perfect fit for Sam, who is himself a published author of two books that he described as “murders,” with a cheerful laugh. “They’re really about human growth,” Sam explained, “the growth of an individual. He grows from a jerk to a fine person.”

Both of Sam’s books are now available for purchase at the Bibliophile, where they are displayed atop the piano he and Elissa donated. Sam is also planning on holding a book signing at the Bibliophile Bookshop later this year. He will not, however, be playing the piano during the signing. “I don’t play publicly,” Sam said, “because I’m not that good.”

Housing the piano in the Bibliophile Bookshop is a perfect solution for the Town of Raymond as well. 

"Sam and his family are really excited about the piano being in the Raymond community,” Crocker said. "We made a plaque for the piano so it always has a piece of their family attached to it.” The Giffords will also be able to visit their piano even after their move. “We’re moving way far away,” Sam joked as he told me about the home they are building along the Tenny River. Their new home sits on property that Elissa’s father purchased in the 1960s, the same decade he purchased the piano that now lives in the Bibliophile Bookshop.

It’s a happy ending for the piano, the Giffords, the Town of Raymond, the Bibliophile Bookshop, and Joe Crocker. “I usually can come up with a solution at some point,” Crocker said, “but I thought this piano donation was the one thing I wasn’t going to be able to figure out. But, with some help from community members, we were able to pull it off.”

If you would like to visit the Giffords’ baby grand piano in its new home, the Bibliophile Bookshop is located in Suite 14 of the Raymond Shopping Center at 1233 Roosevelt Trail. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. <

Diamond earns high marks for education record

The Maine Education Association has given 
State Senator Bill Diamond of Windham
high marks for his voting record on
educational issues in the state.
FILE PHOTO
AUGUSTA – Senator Bill Diamond, a Democrat from Windham, earned high marks from the Maine Education Association for his voting record on education issues.

“As a former teacher, I know how crucial it is that our students receive a well-rounded education,” said Diamond. “In Augusta, it’s our job to help students and educators alike succeed. That’s why I’m proud of my votes this session to ensure every Maine student can access a quality education, and that our educators have ample support and resources to help their students along their educational journeys.”

This year, Sen. Diamond championed efforts to fully fund education at 55 percent for the first in the state’s history since it was mandated by voters in 2004. He also voted in favor of bills to ensure a good starting wage for school librarians and career and technical education teachers.

Making sure these hardworking professionals are paid a fair wage will help schools attract and retain quality workers, Diamond said.

MEA represents 24,000 Maine teachers and advocates for policies and investments that ensure that educators’ voices, values, and priorities are heard and respected both in the workplace and at the State House.

Diamond said that he remains committed to fighting for Maine students, teachers, and school staff in the Legislature.

Currently serving his 10th term in the Maine Senate, representing constituents in Windham, Raymond, Standish, Casco, Baldwin and Frye Island, Diamond has had a distinguished career in public service.

He is currently serving as the chairman of the Maine Legislature’s Transportation Committee. In previous terms, he has served as the Senate chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice, and as a member of state’s Government Oversight Committee. In the 124th Legislature, he served as the Chairman of state budget writing committee known as the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

From 1989 to 1997, Diamond served as Maine’s Secretary of State and during his tenure was credited with improving efficiencies within the Department of State. Before his tenure as Secretary of State, he served three terms in the Maine House of Representatives, including one term as Majority Whip. In addition to public service, he has extensive experience as a small-business owner for more than 40 years, and as a teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools in the Windham and Raymond school systems, where he worked for 20 years.

The complete Maine legislative scorecard from MEA can be found here. <