March 17, 2023

In the public eye: Retiring ‘Foster Grammie’ leaves behind a legacy of love

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

By Ed Pierce

Nearly 48 years since she walked through the doors of Manchester School as a substitute food service worker, Pauline “Polly” Dyer has retired, leaving behind a legacy of love and a long career of service to countless children in Windham.

Pauline 'Polly' Dyer worked at Manchester
School in Windham for nearly 48 years
before retiring Feb. 25. As a cafeteria
manager and later a Foster Grandparent
at the school, she has positively touched
the lives of thousands of students through
Dyer’s last day at the school was Feb. 25 and she rose through the ranks from food service worker at Manchester School to serving 20 years as cafeteria manager, originally retiring from that position after 32 years in 2007, and then logging another 16 years as a “Foster Grammie” in classrooms at the school.

“I truly loved working as a ‘Foster Grammie’ because it helped me become closer to the students because I wasn’t a teacher or a professional,” Dyer said. “It’s been very hard to walk away. I enjoyed working there so much.”

Growing up in Harrison, Dyer had no desire to become a teacher and spent much of her time working with her mother, who operated a camp laundry service. She got married to her husband, Donald, a truck driver who worked for Merrill Transport in Portland.

To make it an easier commute for Donald to get to work, the couple moved to South Windham in 1967 and the following year started a family that included a daughter, Lisa, and a son, Donald, Jr. The family has grown to include two grandsons, although one has passed away, and two great-grandchildren.

When she heard that the Manchester School cafeteria needed a temporary sub, “Polly” applied and got the job and has never looked back. Her husband died in 2002 and even after retiring as cafeteria manager, she was so committed to the students that she agreed to return as a “Foster Grammie” for The Opportunity Alliance to help students and teachers in the classroom.

“Bill Diamond was actually my first principal at the school and there have been five or more since then,” Dyer said. “Bill was so nice to me and we all liked working for him. He’s a wonderful person.”

As a “Foster Grammie,” Dyer started working for a fifth-grade teacher who then retired, and she was reassigned to work with another fifth-grade teacher who also retired after a few years. She was reassigned again and paired with fourth-grade teacher Stacey Sanborn, who she has remained with for years.

Sanborn said by the time she retired “Grammie Polly” put in more than 10,000 hours of service to the school in that role.

“She has been an active member in the community,” Sanborn said. “Polly is known for her crafts and card making. She is very crafty and during the pandemic, she continued to support classroom needs and activities from home.”

Some of Sanborn’s students wrote Polly notes after she retired and expressed their admiration and gratitude for her work. Here’s a sampling of those notes:

“Grammie Polly was a nice person she helped us with math and other stuff. She gave us a good gift for Valentine’s Day too. Thank you, Grammie Polly.” Avery R.

“Grammie Polly help us make fun crafts and gave great valentine gifts plus she reminded us to zip up our bag.” Gavan

“All the crafts made me laugh and the good times were more than great with you. Thanks for everything and you will be missed and thanks for the gifts they are appreciated.” Libby

“I love Grammie Polly because she's always there when someone needs help. And she is so kind. And she reminded people to do stuff when we wouldn’t do it. And she gave us Valentines. So, that proves that she was so kind. She also helps us out with a lot of projects. And she gave us Christmas gifts.” Cam

For Dyer, the joy of being able to do something for children made her efforts worthwhile.

“It’s funny that for some of those students, they may not have their own actual grandparents,” she said. “I did my best to serve in that kind of role for them.”

Several experiences through the years stand out for her.

“A little girl in our classroom had been really upset about something the day before and the next day when I saw her I said to her ‘Grammie really need a hug today.” The little girl smiled, gave me a big hug and everything that had happened the day before was forgotten.”

Another time a little boy was crying because he had been told to put his stuffed animal away for a classroom lesson by the teacher.

“It was hard for him to part with that stuffed animal,” Dyer said. “I told him the stuffed animal could sit with me in the classroom and I could cover it with paper towels like he was taking a nap. That kid got the biggest smile, and it turned his whole day around. It’s always been fun to get them to smile.”

Now that she’s retired, Dyer said he hopes more people will volunteer to serve as “Foster Grandparents” in the schools for The Opportunity Alliance.

“I really enjoyed each and every day,” she said. “I hope other retired people volunteer with The Opportunity Alliance. The school needs it.”<

Windham Town Council appoints volunteers to positions


By Ed Pierce

Mahatma Gandhi believed that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others through volunteering.

The original Babb's Bridge from the 19th
century was destroyed by fire in 1973. A
replacement bridge was built in 1976. As
a result, the bridge is being removed from
the National Register of Historic Places.
To that end, two Windham residents have been appointed by the Windham Town Council to fill existing vacancies on town boards and for a town position during a council meeting on Feb. 24.

All of the appointments are voluntary positions.

Judy Vance was appointed by the council to serve as the Windham Registrar of Voters for a two-year term.

Vance is Windham’s deputy town clerk and has volunteered as the town’s Registrar of Voters since Dec. 12, 2002.

Under state law, municipal officers are required to appoint a Registrar of Voters for two-year terms and Vance was recommended for the appointment by Windham Town Clerk Linda Morrell.

“Judy has years of experience and has always done a wonderful job in this position,” Morrell said.

Shonn Moulton was appointed by councilors to serve on the Windham Planning Board for a one-year term.

Moulton is a real estate professional and is a former town councilor in Gorham.

Members of the Windham Appointments Committee interviewed Moulton on Jan. 24 and forwarded to the council a recommendation for this appointment. The Windham Land Use Ordinance stipulates that when there is a vacancy, town municipal officers shall appoint a person to serve the remainder of the unexpired term.

The Windham Planning Board has seven members, and one alternate member who serve three-year terms. The planning board is authorized to review and to take action regarding site plans for major developments in Windham; review subdivision plans and land use ordinances and zoning amendments; and review developments in shoreland zones.

During the Feb. 24 council meeting, Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts also informed councilors that Babb’s Bridge is being removed from the National Register of Historic Places.

Tibbetts said his office had received a letter from Kirk Mohney of the Maine State Historic Preservation Office indicating that information recommending that the covered bridge over the Presumpscot River be removed from the list was being sent to Washington, D.C.

The original Babb’s Bridge was thought to have been built in 1843 and was the oldest covered bridge in Maine. It was first listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was originally named for a family living nearby.

However, a fire set by vandals in 1973 destroyed the bridge and it was subsequently rebuilt on the same site in 1976 as part of a community effort using donated construction materials and labor and featuring bridge techniques thought to been used in construction of the original Babb’s Bridge in the 19th century. <

WMS musicians fundraising to attend Great East Band and Orchestra Music Festival

By Jolene Bailey

Windham Middle School’s band and orchestra students have been diligently working hard to achieve their fundraising goal of $3,000 to help them participate in the Great East Band and Orchestra Music Festival in New Hampshire in June.

Windham Middle School musicians are currently
conducting the 'Rock Your Socks' campaign, selling
socks as a fundraiser to pay for a trip to the Great East
Band and Orchestra Festival in New Hampshire in June.
Funds raised will cover festival fees, transportation, and T-shirts for all the seventh- and eighth-grade WMS musicians.

Instructor Morgan Riley has been working in the Windham and Raymond schools for 16 years. She has additionally taught band, orchestra, chorus, and guitar to students at Jordan-Small Middle School, Windham Middle School, and Manchester School over the years.

“Students at WMS have attended this festival yearly minus pandemic years, since 2002. This is most certainly a tradition for WMS,” said Riley.

Students are selling a variety of 3-pair packs of socks, from plain to fun colorful patterns, ranging in children’s, women’s, and men’s sizes, for the fundraiser. Last year, WMS music students held a successful mattress fundraiser with the same company.

For every 3-pair pack of socks sold, WMS will donate one pair of socks to the Windham Clothes Closet, an organization that gives to people in need.

However, if people still want to donate but do not want to receive socks, they are able to donate to a specific student to raise their personal goal. If students are unable to reach their donation goals, parents would be asked to pay the difference if possible.

AJ Sweet, a seventh-grade percussionist who mainly plays the snare drums and bells, has been in the WMS band for almost two years. This will be his first year attending the festival.

Going will help us to get more performing experience which can really make a band better,” Sweet said.

WMS students will experience preparing musical selections for the festival and performing for judges, while competing against other middle school music students from Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.

After their performance, they will obtain specific feedback from their judges in the spirit of improving techniques as ensembles and listening to others.

Participating students also will receive a rating of bronze, silver, gold, or platinum along with a plaque to represent their performance level. Over the last eight years of attending, band and orchestra students from WMS have earned gold ratings every year.

Leanna Rogers, an eighth-grade trumpet player who has been playing since the fifth grade, is excited about performing in the festival.

“Going to this event can help me because it’s judged and can give us all an opportunity to show what we know and how hard we all have worked,” she said.

Obtaining a music experience in school can help students in many ways.

“It’s been a great way to catch up with my old friends and create new ones,” said Rogers.

According to Riley, the festival creates an environment where students feel comfortable and free to express themselves.

For more information or to donate, visit If you know a current WMS seventh- or eighth-grade band or orchestra student, you can select their name and they will get credit for the sale.

If an individual would prefer to donate directly to the WMS trip, they may write a check made out to WMS, write "music trip donation" in the memo line, and send it to: Windham Middle School, c/o Morgan Riley (Music Department), 408 Gray Rd., Windham, ME 04062. <

TRIAD Senior Fair nearing for local residents

By Doug Banks

The first annual Gorham-Westbrook-Windham TRIAD Senior Fair is nearing and will exhibit information, programs, and opportunities specifically tailored for senior citizens.

The first Gorham-Westbrook-Windham TRIAD Senior Fair
will be held March 29 at St. Hyacinth's Church in Westbrook
and will feature exhibits, information, programs, and
opportunities for senior residents in the area. 
The event will be held at the recreational center of St. Hyacinth’s Church at 268 Brown St. in Westbrook from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, March 29 and will answer many difficult questions facing seniors locally.

The State of Maine Career Services will have employers in attendance, the Social Security Administration will be there to explain how much a senior citizen collecting Social Security could work, details about Medicare, food pantry information, the first responders service Files for Life, Vertical Harvest, the Yellow Dot Program, and others.

TRIAD is an organization of town law enforcements, businesses, and senior citizens within respective communities who inform senior citizens of events, available opportunities, and to protect senior citizens against crime and alleviate the fear of it. The TRIAD members that will be producing the fair are made up of Windham, Gorham, and Westbrook police agencies, senior citizens from the community who attend the TRIAD meetings, and the businesses of Home Instead, Avesta Housing, Westbrook Housing Authority, and more.

Although the fair will be held in Westbrook, that does not mean it is exclusive to Westbrook residents, anyone in Windham or Gorham can also attend.

“We want anyone to attend who would benefit from the resources that are going to be there and the potential employers. We’re going to have our fire department and police presence if there are any questions,” said Westbrook Community Policing Coordinator Megan Perry. “The fire department will also have information about Files for Life, those are things that if it has a Westbrook logo, it does not mean you can’t put it on your fridge. It’s all relevant information to anyone regardless of where they live.”

The idea to start this fair came from Perry when she noticed a colleague from another state who conducted senior resource fairs similar to the one that will take place on March 29.

After receiving the information from her colleague on how to start a fair like this, the next step was partnering with the Career Center stationed in South Portland.

“They do tons of little pop-up events at their own office,” Perry said. “This is their opportunity to do outreach within the community and it’s also a good opportunity for the career fair to also bring all the same things that would be in South Portland at their office and bring it into our community, so people don’t have to travel as far.”

A program that will be featured at the fair is the Yellow DOT Program. This program will be making its return to the public eye at the TRIAD fair after going dormant for the last three years because of the pandemic.

Perry said that before the program started in Maine around 2014, a Gorham Police Officer and former liaison for the community TRIAD noticed yellow dots on the back of cars while traveling in the southern United States.

The yellow dot represents vital medical information regarding the driver of the vehicle stored in a folder in the glove compartment and in the case of a medical emergency concerning the individual in the car, first responders can quickly access valuable information and could potentially save the individual’s life.

After learning the benefits this could bring to Maine residents, TRIAD began campaigning and spreading the word about the Yellow Dot Program by advertising and participating in public events for people to sign up.

According to Gorham Police Sargent and TRIAD Liaison Ben Moreland, this upcoming TRIAD fair is important for many reasons, but it’s also a perfect opportunity to reintroduce the Yellow Dot Program back into the community.

“Due to COVID it’s been inactive for three years,” Moreland said. “We’re trying to get it back into the public eye, and to other public safety professionals so they know what to look for.”

He said the Yellow Dot Program is actually for everyone and not just for seniors.

“Anybody who has medical issues or even if they just want to include emergency contact information, they could benefit from the program as well,” Moreland said.

The program also strives to keep the individual’s information safe and secure.

Moreland says that the individual’s medical information doesn’t go into a database or anything, it stays with the folder.

“When people fill it out there isn’t a computer where somebody is entering your personal information or your medications. None of that happens,” he said. “It’s just a pamphlet with a form that you fill out, we take a photo that you can attach into the paperwork so that way if you’re riding with somebody else, the correct information follows the right person in the event that someone in unable to speak for themselves.”

The TRIAD Fair's purpose is to present and share opportunities with senior citizens looking for new directions or seeking assistance and connection within the community.

According to Perry, the fair will be a place of centralized resources and serve as one-stop shopping for anything they might need as they enter that chapter of life.

“Everyone is welcome. They can come with any questions they might have,” she said. “If the answer isn’t at the event, we’ll find a way to route people to get the answers they need.”

For more information on the TRIAD Senior Fair, the TRIAD, or if you or your business would like to participate, send an email to either or <

Town of Raymond to assume milfoil harvesting duties from RWPA volunteers

By Ed Pierce

Responsibility for the Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting Program (DASH) milfoil mitigation program will now be handled by the Town of Raymond instead of the Raymond Waterways Protective Association.

Peggy Jensen of the Raymond Waterways
Protective Association prepares to take a 
Secchi disc reading for water clarity on a
lake in Raymond last year.
Members of Raymond’s Select Board have voted unanimously to take over this task from the RWPA following a letter sent to the town in December by Peggy Jensen, RWPA president.

“After careful consideration of all the imaginable ways to address the remaining small patches and the inevitable stray plants that may regenerate from even tiny pieces of stem or root, we have decided the best solution is to move the DASH program to the town,” Jensen wrote to Raymond Select Board members.

Jensen said that RWPA has pledged to guide town personnel in taking ownership of the boat and its necessary equipment so that it could be quickly put back into operation and in applying for possibly available grant funds. RWPA also recommended that the town consider hiring a private contractor for the work.

“RWPA will continue to monitor and mitigate any invasive aquatic species found in the upper Jordan River, from the Route 302 highway to Mill Street, and Dingley Brook, from Cape Road to Sebago Lake,” Jensen wrote. “We will continue to operate the Courtesy Boat Inspection program at four launch sites in Raymond. We hope to have continuing support from the town for this program.”

According to Jensen, RWPA is looking to expand the hours covered for the Courtesy Boat Inspection program and is seeking to hire a manager for the program this coming season.

The Raymond Waterways Protective Association was created in the early 1970s by Ernest Bickford and Ernest Knight with a mission established to monitor and preserve the water quality of all Raymond lakes.

Since the beginning of RWPA’s water testing initiatives, all of Raymond’s lakes have been placed in the “Above Average Quality” category for the entire state of Maine.

Bodies of water being monitored by RWPA volunteers include Crescent Lake, Notched Pond, Panther Pond, Raymond Pond, Sebago Lake and Thomas Pond.

Through the years since it was first created, RWPA has continued to expand its duties by adding voluntary boat inspections and conducting plant surveys for invasive plant species with a goal of ensuring water quality and advocating for watershed stewardship in Raymond.

Milfoil remains an ongoing threat to local lakes and waterways.

“All the smaller lakes and ponds have volunteers who are trained to identify the 11, soon to be 12, invasive aquatic plants that threaten our waters,” said Jensen. “We have spent years finding and removing invasive variable milfoil in Raymond’s waters, with most of it being done by a dive crew as all our divers are trained and certified for SCUBA work and for the specialized work of removing invasive plants.”

Courtesy Boat Inspectors examine boats entering and leaving the launch ramps in Raymond, and strive to prevent invasive plants such as milfoil from entering Raymond waterways, but also from spreading milfoil contamination to other lakes and waters in the state.

“They educate boaters about the dangers of invasive species including organisms we can’t always see, and they remove all plant material that they find on a boat, a trailer, and all fishing gear,” said Jensen. “There is a large group of highly trained volunteers who provide emergency survey services to any lake that has a new infestation or a suspected one. So long as there is any invasive variable milfoil in the Sebago Lakes, we will have to remain vigilant and continue surveying.”

Raymond’s Select Board voted unanimously for the town to take over the DASH invasive removal program for the 2023 season. <

March 10, 2023

New composting service available in Windham this April

By Doug Banks

During the first week of April, curbside composting service company Garbage to Garden will be expanding their operations to the Windham, Gorham and Sanford communities after receiving over 400 inquiries. 

Garbage to Garden curbside composting service begins in
Windham in April. The launch includes a Garbage to
Garden-operated farm and composting site in Windham.
This expansion coincides with the launch of their own operated farm and composting site in Windham where they will collect compost from households and municipal level establishments and turn it into high quality Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association approved soil blends that are much more environmentally friendly compared to the big brand soil.
According to its President and Founder Tyler Frank, Garbage to Garden started in 2012 when he felt there must be a better way to compost than putting food scraps in a bag for the city to pick up. He and his roommates came up with the idea to start a curbside compost pickup service to establish a better way for people to compost.
Starting with his own pickup truck, Frank soon took his business to farmers’ markets in Portland and after six to eight months, Garbage to Garden had over 1,000 subscribers to the service. Now, after adding Windham, Gorham, and Sanford they now have a total of 13 communities, including a few areas in the greater Boston area who use the service.

With no outside investors, Garbage to Garden’s growth came from the support of the community who use the service, priding themselves on serving the people who believe in the benefits that come from correctly composting.
“We’ve wanted to have our own compost site forever,” said Frank. “Building a business with no capital in a capital-intensive business, you can’t stretch yourself that thin. We just never had the resources to buy land and all the equipment you need to actually make the product.”
Garbage to Garden eventually built-up enough revenue to start building a 106-acre farm, composting infrastructure, and greenhouse in Windham where they have acquired many subscribers to their service. This move will make it easier for the company's drivers while also accommodating the Windham community who use the service by having the pick-up service coinciding with Windham’s common trash pick-up date as well as possibly having a free drop-off location in the Windham area as well.
This move will also bring a community building aspect between Garbage to Garden and Windham as well.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to not just control the composting process and make our own soil blends; but also to have the educational aspect where we can open the farm to the community and build a playground for people to look at the goats and come to the classes and learn about composting and sustainable waste management,” Frank said. “People have often been trying to get more involved. They come to tour Garbage to Garden, and they say, ‘cool, but where’s the compost piles?’ and we say, ‘that’s at our partner’s farm and we can’t take you there.’ So, I know there’s going to be a lot of interest from the educational side.”

Along with bringing people to the farm, Garbage to Garden has also gone into schools and have trained school districts how to separate their compostables and recyclables and down the road hope to bring more volunteer work to the community.

One of the first 200 individuals who signed up for Garbage to Garden back in 2012 was Annika Schmidt, who is now the company's Marketing Director.

Schmidt says Garbage to Garden primarily operated as a waste hauler, originally collecting the homeowners compost from the curbside and bringing it to partnered local farms and composting sites for the actual compost process.

Although they will keep the partnership with the farms they have partnered with, the new farm in Windham will now allow Garbage to Garden to do their own composting along with many different possibilities.

“We’ve got a greenhouse that will be offering seedlings this spring,” Schmidt said. “It’s an opportunity to dig in a little bit deeper to the compost science to work on specialty blends that we could offer.”

It’s also an opportunity to have greater control over the entire process and in turn, will offer more possibilities to the people who use the service.

“The way it works is we partner with these other farms, and we pay them to deliver food waste, they process it into the finished compost, and then we actually purchase that back to provide that back to our participants,” Schmidt said. “So, all our curbside subscribers can get that finished compost back on a weekly basis.” But now with the new farm being built, this will open those curbside subscribers up to more possibilities with what type of soil they can purchase to use in their own garden and even get the chance to see how it is being made.”

Windham residents can pre-enroll for the service and Garbage to Garden also helps by supporting the local food systems with an extensive donation program where they and other participants can donate yards of compost towards supporting school and community gardens for people to grow their own food.

According to Schmidt, they also have a volunteer program as well.
“We have people here come help us bag compost, we do zero-waste composting events and have people come help sort with composting at those events,” she said. “We also work with a number of non-profits and organizations to help encourage folks to get involved in their communities by highlighting monthly opportunities.”

Frank stressed that what is being built is nothing close to a factory, it is specifically and wholeheartedly a farm. And he met with Windham’s town planner and code enforcement members before he bought the land.

“Somebody asked the question of, ‘is this a manufacturing facility?’ and I said, ‘no its agriculture, I’m making a farm’ and they we’re like, ‘oh okay good, because you’re in the residential farm district’ so I don’t want anyone to be confused about the nature of it because someday this will be my home,” Frank said.

To sign up for Garbage to Garden’s curbside service, its volunteer and donation work, or to get more information about Garbage to Garden itself visit <

Petition seeks referendum to upgrade Windham medical marijuana licenses

By Ed Pierce

Sticky Bud Farms owner Dave Whitten has launched a petition drive to put a referendum on the ballot before Windham voters to determine if the town should allow current medical marijuana businesses to upgrade to adult retail marijuana establishments.

Sticky Bud Farms owner Dave Whitten has launched a 
petition drive for Windham voters asking them to support
upgrading medical marijuana businesses to adult retail
if they choose to through a referendum this fall.
Whitten said that since the town first awarded two adult retail marijuana licenses under its marijuana ordinance in September 2020, it has given those businesses an unfair business advantage. A revised town ordinance addressing the sale of Recreational Adult-Use and Medical Marijuana Storefront facilities, along with business and personal marijuana outdoor cultivation was approved and adopted by Windham town councilors in late May 2020.

Seven different businesses already operating in Windham under medical marijuana licenses submitted applications for an adult retail marijuana license with the town and those applications were scored by town councilors based upon submitted operational plans, security measures, safety, experience, product handling, any violations on record and other specific criteria.

Town councilors initially awarded conditional adult retail licenses in September 2020 to Windham RSL and Paul’s Boutique but pulled Windham RSL’s adult retail license because of information that the town manager’s office had received about its lease. The second adult retail license was then awarded to Jar Cannabis Co.

Both Windham adult retail licenses, Jar Co. and Paul’s Boutique, opened in 2021 and Whitten has continued to operate Sticky Bud Farms in North Windham under a medical marijuana license. Since then, Whitten has expanded the business to include a cannabis dispensary, a glass products store, a grow facility, and has created a cannabis bakery with the intent of upgrading his business to an adult retail establishment.

However, the town council has remained steadfast in its commitment to limiting adult retail business licenses to two.

“It not right to have someone visit our dispensary and I then have to send them up the road to a competitor,” Whitten said. “We’ve met with town officials continually and told them that for our business to stay relevant, we have to have equal competition.”

According to Whitten, there have not been any crimes or incidents at his business since it opened, and he uses his business to give back to the community.

“There have been no complaints whatsoever about my business. We give away discounts to our customers for loyalty, we give free meds to cancer patients and in the last year, we’ve given more than $5,000 to charitable organizations. We’re part of the solution. We’re not just taking from the community.”

He said Sticky Bud Farms has won numerous awards as the Best Cannabis Dispensary in Maine in 2021 and won again for 2022 and 2023.

“We’re true professionals and help people from all walks of life,” Whitten said.

License renewal fees paid to the town are set at $2,500 for both adult retail and medical marijuana stores and $10,000 for new licenses. All cannabis businesses in town also pay a fee up to $1,000 as a contribution to a town education fund dedicated to public safety and drug education.

Whitten says his business is part of the town’s overall economy and he’s asking for fair treatment.

“Some of the people who visit Sticky Bud Farms travel here from surrounding communities,” he said. “These people are also going to Hannaford’s, Walmart, Burger King and buying gasoline in town. But they are coming to Windham to come to our business.”

He said he believes current medical marijuana businesses should be able to decide if they want to upgrade to an adult retail business.

If he collects 1,500 signatures on the petition, a referendum would be voted upon in Windham to allow medical marijuana shops to obtain adult retail licenses.

“Since 2020, I have wanted to negotiate this issue with dignity and civility,” Whitten said. “Everybody I have talked to doesn’t understand why the cap on just two adult retail licenses in Windham. My goal with this petition is not to intimidate anyone but I’ve had enough of it being unfair.”

Should Whitten collect enough Windham voter signatures for the petition this spring and they are verified by the Windham Town Clerk’s office, the referendum would be placed on the November ballot.

Petitions are now available to be signed at Sticky Bud Farms in North Windham and potentially at other locations in town soon. <

Manchester School showcases Agriculture Literacy Night

By Jolene Bailey

The first-ever Agriculture Literacy Night at Manchester School in Windham on Thursday, March 2 and showed that the differences between farmers and students are minimal as each day brings something new.

Students and their families participated
in Agriculture Literacy Night at
Manchester School in Windham on March
2 and activities included reading about
agriculture and gardening.
Led by Manchester School Fourth Grade teacher Stacey Sanborn, the special evening embodied student readings and several other agricultural-related activities that helped to promote student interest in the subject.

After Manchester School Principal Danielle Donnini had welcomed and introduced everyone attending the event, the format of the night was styled as an open house.

Numerous activities for students and parents involved classroom stops of four Book Barn Libraries, visiting with local farmers and gardeners, making crafts, and playing games. Additionally, there was a Story Walk hosting the story “Right This Very Minute" by Lisl H. Detlefsen.

The idea for the event sprouted from when Sanborn and a colleague had desired to join forces for a schoolwide agriculture event.

Sanborn was honored as the 2022 Maine Agriculture in the Classroom’s Teacher of the Year. Following her attending the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in New York with Fifth Grade teacher Cindy Moore, she partnered with Jeanne Demers, one of Manchester’s reading specialists, to plan an event for more people to gain knowledge about agricultural literacy.

“I currently have a book barn, a -sized bookcase shaped like a barn, on loan from Maine Ag in the Classroom along with over 100 books related to agriculture. When we originally started planning the event, we knew we wanted more barn-shaped bookcases.” said Sanborn.

Replicas of the original book barns were created by high school students in woodworking classes. Hancock Lumber had made a generous donation of wood, and Lowe’s had discounted paint to positively unite the community together. Manchester currently has four student-made barn bookcases for Manchester School to use.

Displayed in the specialized bookcases were books for students containing agricultural information, connections with gardeners, proper food service, composting information, and ways to eat healthier.

The Manchester Book Barns were overflowing with material for kids to read. Along with the bookcases, several books were displayed prominently on desks showcasing agricultural topics.

Demin-nat Andieh, a Manchester School fourth-grade student, was impressed with the evening’s activities.

“I came tonight to hear the story and make new friends,” Andieh said.

Students received a preview of the Story Walk book and were encouraged to attend this event. Although it was not mandatory, students turned out and filled the cafeteria with their families and friends.

“I was interested in the book and what it was about. Mrs. Sanborn was reading it and I wanted to know what would happen towards the end,” said Harrison Eskilson.

After walking through the school hallways lined with student artwork, there were various activities spread throughout the entire school. Anybody interested could create flower crafts with pipe cleaners, paper straws, paper, and tissue paper. Games were also included, consisting of drawing, coloring, and a game of bingo, and farm finding addition.

Students were also engaged by listening to speakers from agricultural professions, and connections with food service and ways to learn and eat healthier.

Cooking Club students from the school helped cut strawberries and make salads for the guests. Their homemade “maple syrup balsamic vinegar dressing” and produce that was served to guests was grown in the school garden. Participants said that they enjoyed the dish and watched its process of creation representing new agriculture recipes.

Representatives from Coopers Greenhouse showed students and parents a maple syrup documentary about how the product is made. They shared knowledge about maple syrup’s density, how you can tell what the correct temperature it should be, and how the thickness can affect the syrup after being boiled.

Students had advertised and promoted Agriculture Literacy Night by working with Richey Vickers from the school’s technology department, to create posters on a Google slide and bookmarks. Fidget plates were made by students, reciting questions to remember the night, “One thing you wonder? The title of the book that looked tasty? Something you learned tonight? My favorite workshop was… Why?”

Sanborn said that Manchester students had recently accomplished a hunger unit, focusing on topics such as food insecurity, sports helping hunger, meal plans, ending world hunger and ways to prevent it. Most of the student’s work about hunger was shown in the library throughout poster boards, artwork, and 3-D creations.

At the end of the night, drawings for donated agricultural door prizes were conducted for participants. <

Loon Echo Land Trusts schedules free outdoor events

Winter is back and the Loon Echo Land Trust is offering a number of events to help you get outside and enjoy the snow and meet fellow community members this month.

Loon Echo Land Trust is offering a number
of events to help get you outside and enjoy
the snow while meeting community members
All events are free, and snowshoes are available to borrow free of charge for all events. Registration is requested at or by emailing Events will be cancelled in case of inclement weather.

Please check the LELT facebook page or for final notice.

Pondicherry Park Community Walk

Monday, March 13, 12:15 p.m. at Pondicherry Park, Bridgton
Join LELT staff for a casual walk in the Park. No agenda, just a chance to meet fellow community members and be active outside. The group will decide together on the route, and all experience levels are welcome. Participants will meet at the Bob Dunning Memorial Bridge entrance to the park. No registration required.

Mayberry Hill Preserve Walk

Friday, March 17, 10 a.m. at Mayberry Hill Preserve, Casco
Now that we have ample winter parking at Mayberry Hill, we invite you to join us for a walk in the woods! The hike will be about 1.5 miles round trip on gentle sloping terrain.

Spring Equinox Hike

Monday, March 20, 4:45 p.m. at Bald Pate Mountain, Bridgton
Join us for a hike up Bald Pate Mountain to bring in spring! The equinox is set for 5:24 p.m., so we'll plan to make it to the summit in time. Feel free to bring a favorite spring quote or poem to share. Please also bring a flashlight or headlamp.

Invasive Pest Training

Join LELT Stewardship Manager Jon on Friday, March 24, at 10 a.m. for a walk at Tiger Hill Community Forest in Sebago to search for signs of invasive pests. They will be hosting these walks monthly to bolster our ability to monitor for invasive pests like Emerald Ash Borer and Hemlock Wooly Adelgid.

The Loon Echo Land Trust is a community supported, non-profit land trust that works to protect the land and natural resources of the northern Sebago Lake region for current and future generations.

Since 1987, LELT has protected forests, wetland, shorelines, and open spaces in Harrison, Denmark, Casco, Bridgton, Naples, Raymond and Sebago. These lands provide public access to the outdoors, host over 31 miles of recreational trails and protect important water resources and wildlife habitat.

For more information about Loon Echo Land Trust, including information about their trails, free public events, and how to get involved, visit or their Facebook page. <

March 3, 2023

In the public eye: New Deputy Chief leads by example at Raymond Fire and Rescue

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

By Ed Pierce

No profession can be more satisfactory and yet humbling at the same time than being a firefighter and Raymond Fire and Rescue’s new Deputy Chief Lee O’Connor has rolled up his sleeves and gotten down to work at his new job.

Raymond Fire and Rescue's new Deputy Chief
Lee O'Connor joined the department on Jan. 31 and has
more than 34 years of experience in firefighting and 
providing emergency medical assistance.
O’Connor, an experienced firefighter and paramedic, joined the fire department on Jan. 31 and since then, he has been busy familiarizing himself with the duties and responsibilities of the position and getting to know the firefighters and emergency services personnel working for the town.

As Deputy Chief of the Raymond Fire and Rescue Department, O’Connor is tasked with staff management and developing and implementing Standard Operating Procedures and Standards Operating Guidelines for the fire department. He also reviews incident reports and emergency medical service reports, works on the fire department’s annual budget and formulates long range planning for the department’s future needs.

In addition, O’Connor handles the fire and rescue department’s payroll, assists and coordinates firefighter and EMS training programs, assists and responds to incidents and fires in Raymond and surrounding towns, and all of that is along with performing his duties as a firefighter and emergency medical technician.

The Raymond Fire and Rescue Department provides fire protection and emergency response services to the Raymond community. It is a challenging mission is to prevent the loss of life and property, and to respond to fires in the community and medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, rescue calls, and incidents involving hazardous materials within the town.

The job as Deputy Chief for the department is an important assignment, but it’s a position for which O’Connor is well prepared.

Prior to joining Raymond Fire and Rescue, O’Connor worked for 18 years for Poland Fire and Rescue, serving as a Department Captain, responsible for training and leading the town’s Emergency Medical Service as Coordinator. He also worked as a paramedic and a Technical Rescue Specialist for the department there.

He spent 13 years with the Androscoggin Sheriff’s Office, working in Corrections, Transport, and serving as a sheriff’s Search and Recovery Diver.

“The best thing about what I do is the job,” O’Connor said. “All of it, my career has been in Public Safety. I started when I was 17 years old, and I’m now passing 34 years of service.”

According to O’Connor, the most challenging aspect of his job knowing that no matter what he does, some outcomes are beyond his control and not always good.

The greatest misconception that some people may have about his work is that firefighters are human, he said.

“In the Fire and Rescue Service, we see some of the worst things on calls and need to deal with them and make sure we are ready for the next call, or make sure our peers are ready for it,” O’Connor said.

Originally from Ticonderoga, New York, O’Connor graduated from Ticonderoga High School and went on to attend North County Community College in Saranac Lake, New York and graduated with a associates degree in business administration.

He decided to apply for the Deputy Chief position in Raymond after learning about the vacancy last fall following a discussion with Raymond Fire and Rescue Chief Bruce Tupper.

“While at a fire he told me they were looking for a new Deputy Chief and I should apply,” O’Connor said.

His family is proud of his accomplishments and is excited about his new job with Raymond Fire and Rescue.

“They like having me home more and able to be at family events,” he said.

One thing O’Connor believes the public isn’t aware of regarding firefighting and rescue work is simple.

“We don’t have enough staff, or people applying to keep up with the demands of the job,” he said. “Call volume has increased over the last 10 years, while membership has decreased.”

After being a career firefighter for more than three decades, O’Connor says that he’s learned so many important lessons, but the biggest one he’s learned as a firefighter applies to all facets of life.

“It takes teamwork to be productive and to get the job done,” he said. <

WHS Key Club members volunteering for Furniture Friends program

By Jolene Bailey

Many families face a variety of challenges for a myriad of reasons. Some lack proper and safe food and water supplies while others need shelter, furnishings and beds to call their own for rest and relaxation after a long and stressful day, but now some students at Windham High School are looking to change that.

Windham High School Key Club members are volunteering
at Furniture Friends of Westbrook, an organization which
accepts second-hand furniture and household accessories
and offers them to low-income families in need. The students
are working on deliveries and in the warehouse.
WHS Key Club student members are volunteering at Furniture Friends, an organization located at 15 Saunders Way in Westbrook, which accepts second-hand furniture, including household accessories that are in good condition. With its mission of “Creating homes. Rebuilding lives,” Furniture Friends is always looking for an extra pair of hands to help in the warehouse and with their deliveries and welcomes the WHS volunteers.

“We often work with school community service clubs and organizations,” said Tabarek Kadhim, the program’s dedicated volunteer coordinator. “The students usually help us out in client deliveries or warehouse support. They are not expected to make donations.”

Windham High School’s Key Club has been providing a helping hand since late January and participants say the values of this organization are community service and advocating for those in need in the greater Windham area. This club is mostly student-led with club officers elected each year.

Currently, the WHS Key Club has 71 students who are active participants in helping our community with several different businesses and organizations.

Oakley McLeod, a Windham High School freshman, is one of the volunteers for Furniture Friends.

“I’m a recent Key Club member and was looking for new volunteering opportunities,” McLeod said. “I noticed Furniture Friends was in need of an extra hand and I wanted to help out.”

After signing a waiver, students can participate in deliveries. This includes packing commercial trucks with furniture and delivering them to clients’ homes.

In a typical delivery morning, they serve roughly six clients around the area. If volunteers are unable to partake in deliveries, they are welcome to help out around the warehouse Furniture Friends owns by supporting organizing their showcase and cleaning furniture, among other tasks.

What also contributes to the success of Furniture Friends are its board members and the energy they put into checking all items before accepting them to ensure they are usable. The furniture is brought to the warehouse where it is thoroughly inspected in their area designed for inspections and deeply cleaned.

After inspecting, volunteers personally deliver the given furniture to area homes. Clients typically are residents who can’t afford furnishings and work through case management to receive them.

“The people are generally truly thankful. Our clients are going through unfortunate and hard circumstances, so they are grateful for the furniture they receive,” Kadhim said. Clients come from many different backgrounds. All of their dignity is protected and honored in respect.”

As for McLeod’s first volunteering experience at Furniture Friends, she took part in transporting furniture, and meeting numerous families with different needs.

“Volunteering there has made me feel like I have an important part in this community and could use my physical strength just by moving furniture to intensely help others,” she said. “Seeing the impact I could hold on a family was truly heartwarming.”.

This was McLeod’s first time in volunteering for any organization.

“Once I saw what some people don’t have and are struggling with, it changed my perspective,” said McLeod.

Furniture Friends has been open since 2012. In their first year, they serviced 32 families, coming a long way, by helping 731 families in 2021. Within the last 10 years, Furniture Friends has been able to help over 10,000 families, including 4,000 children.

The most important items Furniture Friends accepts include twin and queen mattresses and box springs, bed frames, dining room and kitchen tables and chairs, lamps with shades, and living room seating. Items that are unacceptable for donation include things that are extremely heavy, oversized, stained, ripped, broken, or come from smoking households. Furniture Friends also does not accept donations of entertainment centers, instead choosing to focus on what furnishings are truly needed in a household.

For more information or to get involved at Furniture Friends, call 207-210-5797 or send an email to <

Windham saves thousands on energy costs through solar arrays

By Ed Pierce

The Town of Windham’s use of solar arrays is starting to show impressive results, according to Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts.

Windham's solar array at the old landfill on Enterprise Drive
was completed in 2020 and has helped the town realize
significant energy savings for municipal buildings and
facilities. FILE PHOTO
In a memo issued to town councilors on Feb. 23, Tibbetts reported significant savings have been realized by the town’s two solar arrays. One of those solar arrays is situated on the roof of the East Windham Fire Station roof on Falmouth Road and the other is on the site of the old town landfill on Enterprise Drive.

According to Tibbetts, the 39.78 kilowatt array at the fire station was installed in 2013 and the town purchased the energy system in 2021. It generates enough photovoltaic power to offset electricity used at that facility and at the North Windham Fire Station as well.

“Since the 2021 purchase, the energy generated from the array has more than offset the electricity generation at both the East Windham and North Windham Fire Stations,” Tibbetts said. “The approximate savings for both stations in fiscal year 2022 was $3,245.41.”

He said that the second array is located on the capped landfill off Enterprise Drive in North Windham and it has a 504 kilowatt array that was installed in 2020. Under an agreement with Revision Energy, the town has a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the landfill array.

“The PPA allows the town to pay for electricity generated from the array each month at a fixed rate, rather than paying for power from the grid. This is completed through purchasing renewable energy credits, which are applied to our various accounts using the cascade method,” Tibbetts said. “Therefore, the credits will roll to the next account until fully expended. When the credit value was originally estimated, it was projected the credit value would start at 12.4 cents per kilowatt hour and grow at a rate of 2.5 percent each year. The credit value effectively increased by 50 percent each of the last two consecutive years, meaning the credit value has doubled (24 cents). Therefore, instead of the town saving about 1 penny per kilowatt hour, the town is now saving 12 cents per kilowatt hour.”

He said that for 2021, the cumulative savings for the North Windham solar array amounted to about $5,891.63 and the Town will be working with CMP (Central Maine Power) to add a third account to receive the access credits generated from the North Windham solar array.

Windham’s solar initiative was designed to eventually power all the town’s municipal buildings and drastically cut Windham’s overall electric bill with the savings applied somewhere else in the town’s budget in years to come while also helping to reduce the town’s carbon footprint.

The projected generation of 684,892 hours of clean solar electricity from the North Windham landfill alone is enough to offset more than 617,000 pounds of CO2 emissions.

Tibbetts said that the bottom line is solar power derived from the arrays is creating substantial savings for the town. “In 2022, the cumulative savings were approximately $50,244.84,” Tibbetts said. <

February 24, 2023

WHS students preparing for One Act Drama Festival

By Jolene Bailey

Regardless of taking time off from COVID 19, Windham High School students have been participating in a drama festival for more than five years designed to showcase one-act plays, and these are theater productions that typically run 20 to 40 minutes.

Windham High School students participating in the One Act 
Drama Festival include top from left, Stuart Gabaree, Abigail
Coleman, Victoria Lin, Emma Kennedy, Ralph Leavitt, 
Theodore Becker, Liam Yates, Lucas Oldershaw, CJ Payne,
and Maddy Cook. Bottom from left are Rosario Lydon,
Francesca Lomonte, Erica Linn, Molly Plati, Riley Yates,
Sophie Koutalakis, Bryce Smith, Nicholas Davenport,
Elijah Snow and Maia Ransom.
The 2022-2023 Drama Festival includes both regional and state competitions, and pits WHS against other schools in Maine.

This annual event is arranged by Maine Principals’ Association and Maine Drama Council. The festival is divided into two classes, A and B with Class A consisting of schools with 500 or more students, and Class B having schools with less than 500 students.

In order to be eligible, all participants must be in grades 9 to 12.

This year’s Class A competition will feature the WHS performance, a farce comedy about the founding of a fictional midwest American town, “Humbletown: The Greatest Town on Earth.”

Windham Director CJ Payne, has assembled a cast of 15 high schoolers, including six student technicians, and an additional pit crew of four talented student musicians.

“It is my first time working with WHS students as a director, and not just a technical director. I wanted to choose a fun and silly comedy with lots of characters, so that it could attract the involvement of as many students as possible,” Payne said. “Fortunately, it worked and we're currently working with a cast and crew of 25 students from freshman to seniors.”

Theater has influenced Payne’s life since childhood, and he has been working as the Auditorium Coordinator for WHS for over 10 years.

“Not only can you see the show you imagine at first start to come to life in front of your eyes, but also to find the great creativity the actors and technicians bring to the rehearsal process, which makes the end result so much more than you first envisioned,” he said.

Madison Cook is a freshman who portrays the roles of Broom 3, Salutatory 4, Greta, and Humblepie Humblefolk.

“I have been doing theater ever since I was 10 years old, so roughly five years,” she said. “It’s not much but it’s enough that it has made a huge impact on my life,” Cook said.

Performances on stage can be as amusing to partake in comparatively than watching the production live.

Rehearsals have been improving at a significant pace to get to a comfortable 40-minute time mark. Festival rules state if any performance is above the given limit of 40 minutes, disqualification is at risk.

One-Act plays are shorter than a typical musical. However, the cast and crew has put a lot of time and effort into entertaining the crowd.

Ava Dickson has been doing theater since last year and has been in six plays within that time frame.

“This is my first theater play that is not a musical, so the biggest difference is that we don't have to sing and dance,” said Dickson, who plays the roles of Little Suzie, Brenda, Women 3 and Ghost 2.

For many WHS actors, this is their first non-musical theatrical activity.

“What I have done in the past is usually musicals rather than one acts or plays, but this is a superior, fun play that I’m happy I get to be a part of. This will be my first year at the one act competition. It’s different but very exciting,” said Cook.

In contrast, this festival has brought many new experiences for others, including technicians.

“This is my first time helping out backstage for a WHS production,” said junior Ralph Leavitt. “Being behind the scenes of Humbletown is an incredible new experience for me, I get to meet new people and spend time with friends. Humbletown is different from other productions in quite a few ways, producing backstage is far more hands-on for example.”

Another difference between usual high school productions and the One Act Drama Festival is that schools will be judged. Like anyone on stage, they will be watched, but this will be for critiques.

Each individual judge will provide three minutes of feedback to improve the school's performance. In return, the students will have three minutes to ask any questions to the judge when applicable.

Two preview performances of “Humbletown: The Greatest Town on Earth,” will be held at the Windham Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. on March 3 and March 4. There is no admission charge but donations are accepted and highly appreciated.

The One Act performance at the festival itself will be at Thornton Academy in Saco, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 11. <

Nature photogrpaher passionate about Maine ecosystems

 By Abby Wilson

Robert (Bob) King is a wildlife biologist, nature photographer, and ecologist who has spent 40 years in the wildlife field and loves exploring local waterways.

A loon and her chick are shown in a photograph on 
Highland Lake taken by nature photographer Bob King,
who grew up on the lake and has returned to the area after
a long career as a wildlife biologist.
King grew up near Highland Lake in Windham and in his teen years, he regularly spent time fishing the lake outlet at Duck Pond. Following his years in the wildlife field, he returned to Maine and continued working independently on Maine waters, including Highland Lake.

He started photographing wildlife in his early 20s, prompted by a visit to northern Maine where he saw about a dozen moose and thought “if only I had a camera.”

At the beginning of his career, he thought it was impossible to photograph a flying bird in focus. Fifty years later, we can.

Film was also very expensive when King started and people had to send their undeveloped photos to Rochester, New York and then wait weeks to see the finished products.

Through the years, King has continued to photograph wildlife on Highland Lake, especially loons. Why loons? King says, “They were here and they are charismatic. They are gorgeous especially in breeding plumage.”

According to King, breeding plumage starts in early summer. Once loons mate for the season, they will then go into a phase which scientists call “eclipse” where their feather pattern becomes muted.

Loons in the Pine Tree state winter in the Gulf of Maine but when springtime comes, they are ready to return to the lakes in the state.

King says this is a great time to get out and photograph birds because they are “shopping” for nesting sites. He said he then stays away once they find a place because they are territorial. Also, humans disturbing nest sites is one major reason for abandonment which is when the adult disappears from a nesting site before the chicks have hatched.

“Loons also have some real secrets,” says King. Sometimes an intruding male loon will enter a pair’s nesting site and kill the chick(s). This is called infanticide. If it’s early enough in the season, the intruding male might be able to mate with the female and increase chances of his own offspring occurring in the gene pool.

Another important species for King is the monarch butterfly.

Right now, according to professionals, three things that are causing monarch population to decline are pesticide use, illegal timber harvesting in Mexico, and climate change and changes to the jet stream.

The wintering grounds of the monarch are in Mexico, some of which are UNESCO world heritage sites and protected areas. Often these habitats are logged. It’s important to remember that people need to make money and the timber industry can provide people with an income.

Many believe that we can use ecotourism to employ locals and save forests. It is also an effective method to prove that wildlife can be financially prosperous.

King says that we are in the sixth mass extinction in the history of planet Earth and “if wildlife is going to survive, it’s going to have to pay for itself.” He says humans have to come up with these solutions and be creative in applying them and that ecotourism is one of these creative solutions.

To tackle another roadblock in the monarch butterfly’s life history, we need to look to our own grassy back yards. There is a new initiative called ‘Homegrown National Park’ which encourages people to use their yards to create habitat.

“People don’t think about wildlife in their back yard,” says King.

However, you can add value to your yard but converting it. All one needs to do is rototill, plant native wildflowers, and stop using pesticides.

Using pesticides is killing insects, in turn, killing us. Insects pollinate our crops, and they provide food to secondary consumers, playing an infinitely crucial role in our ecosystem.

‘Homegrown National Park’ was started by Dr. Doug Tallamy who understood the need for people to see the value in their own back yards. Anyone can register a yard by visiting the website and entering your zip code as well as the surface area. This initiative starts in your yard but can be applied internationally.

“Maine is a good place to be if you love nature,” says King. “In winters I spend time at Maine estuaries. Estuaries are among the richest habitats on the planet and Maine has many of them… See all the ‘fingers’ of land protruding into the ocean off Maine's coastline? Think about all the convolutions and the total length of coastline. Then consider that it is all tidal, meaning that the saltwater floods in and drains out every 6 hours. And let us not forget the Kennebec River watershed. This region is one of the richest on the Eastern Seaboard of North America.”

You can visit Bob King’s website ( to view his photography and learn more about his book “The Pond of my Boyhood: Ecology of a Maine Pond.” <

2023 Ice Fishing Derby challenging but fun for participants

By Ed Pierce

A lack of ice on Sebago Lake didn’t ruin the fun for participants in the annual Cumberland County Ice Fishing Derby on Feb. 18 and Feb. 19.

Scott Dube of Saco placed first in the
Cumberland County Ice Fishing Derby by
catching a pickerel weighing 4.26 pounds and
25 1/2 inches in length. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
Moving to the 20-plus remaining lakes and ponds in thweighing e area with adequate ice to ensure safety, anglers fishing in the Cumberland County contest sponsored by the Sebago Lake Rotary Club found an abundance of perch and pickerel ready to be caught.

This was the 22nd year for the Ice Fishing Derby and although warmer temperatures prevented the buildup of ice on Sebago Lake this time, the contest proved once again to be more than just an excuse to get outside for time spent fishing. Proceeds from the Ice Fishing Derby benefit local charities and nonprofit organizations that the Rotary Club donates to, including “Feed the Need,” which assists with funding for 12 food pantries in the Lakes Region of Maine.

Angers found that searching for suitable ice was fun and the event brought together people from all walks of life, helping forge new friendships among those fishing and left them with great stories to tell about their experiences that probably will be shared for a lifetime.

The warm temperatures and subsequent cancelation of contest fishing on Sebago Lake held down the overall number of registered participants compared to previous years, but many did sign up for the Cumberland County portion of the event, said Cyndy Bell of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club.

But Bell said that as in years past, participating fishermen continued to donate their catches which were delivered to Nova Seafood and will be processed and delivered to assist in feeding the homeless and those facing food insecurity.

Tom Noonan, a Sebago Lake Rotary Club member, is credited with coming up with the concept for the Ice Fishing Derby in 2001 in cooperation with the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department.

Since then, the event has grown substantially to become the Sebago Lake Rotary Club’s largest annual fundraising initiative and has supported hundreds of charities over the past two decades, with more than $1 million donated to local causes since its inception.

“Under the leadership of Sebago Lake Rotarian Toby Pennels, the derby gained additional national notoriety as one of only four fishing derbies in the United States to be featured in a television program filmed for the National Geographic Channel that aired in June 2014,” Bell said.

Here are the 2023 Cumberland County Ice Fishing Derby winners –

Top Prize Winners

The winner of the $5,000 cash grand prize was Ben Carlin of Windham.

Shannon Hallgren won the 50/50 raffle drawing.


First place: Scott Dube, 4.26 pounds, 25 ½ inches

Second place: Brian Rocray, 4.25 pounds, 25 ½ inches

Third place Adam Bryant, 3.20 pounds, 23 ½ inches

Yellow Perch

First place: Chris Green, 1.20 pounds, 13 inches

Second place: Chris Green, 1.20 pounds, 13 inches

Third place: Chris Green, 1.16 pounds, 13 ¼ inches

White Perch

First place: Shanna Hudgin, 1.62 pounds, 14 ½ inches

Second place: Tyler Holmquist, 1.60 pounds, 13 ½ inches

Third place: Shanna Hudgin, 1.50 pounds, 13 ¼ inches <

Local poet to display writings in honor of National Poetry Month

By Masha Yurkevich

Since 2000, poet Bob Clark of Windham has been creating poems highlighting natural, rural surroundings. These poems often illustrate similar humanistic activity such as the virtue and necessity of patience or survival efforts in the cycles of life’s renewal and to honor National Poetry month in April and as a dedication to the Windham Public Library’s 51st anniversary, Clark will be displaying his framed poetry at the public library throughout the month of April.

Poet Robert Clark presents Windham Public Library Director
Jennifer A. Wood with a framed poem 'Our Library, Our
Orchid' as a dedication to the library's 50th anniversary in
2022. Clark's poems will be featured at the library during
National Poetry Month in April. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
This year marks a decade of framed poetry displays by the local poet at the Windham Public Library. “Sounding Spring” is this year’s title of a 50-piece poetry group and it was designed to draw attention to the annual National Poetry Month in April.

Clark’s unique style of visual presentation is accompanied by a preview of his poetry book “Spinnaker,” the fourth and newest in an ongoing series of five. The book, including 30 seasonal poems, can be purchased at each of the Sherman’s Bookstore locations throughout Maine. His 2022 book, “Canoe,” is also available in the library and the coastal retail bookstores.

“So as to improve their work sculptors and painters experiment with physical proportions and the subtle effects of lighting a color arrangement. In a similar way, a poet can select from a variety of lyrical formats to achieve certain sound meters that accent a word story,” says Clark.

“Spinnaker’ contains a number of interesting rhythmic patterns as well as symbolic imagery. The poems are presented metrically so as to offer a pleasant and entertaining read.

Clark will also exhibit his special poem that he composed specially for the Windham Public Library anniversary a few years ago to help celebrate the occasion. The poem, “Our Library, Our Orchid,” includes both the historical existence of the library as well as the appreciation of its patrons.

The ‘orchid’ in the poem flourished as an idea representing a calm and inviting feeling for those who view its colorful charm, said Clark. Just like the orchid, the library is an intriguing opportunity open to all.

Similar to an artist’s painting, a poem is able to bring someone else certain memories or moments. An artist does the very same thing, they just have a brush in their hand and a paint palette instead of a dictionary and a pen, says Clark. A poem is casting light on something specific that can bring the reader a certain feeling or emotion.

The poetry book name “Spinnaker” represents the joy of sailing when that brightly colored cloth was in a full gust of operation,” says Clark.

“The back story is of a career teaching colleague of mine who moored his sailboat, Calypso, on Sebago Lake. During afternoon summer sails it was his greatest delight to hoist the 'spinnaker' when the 'wind was up and right for it,’ Clark said. “His passing in March of 2018 gave rise to a poem by the same name, it is included as the last one in the 2023 book.”

The title of “Sounding Spring” by the library is a choice to highlight the regional change of season.

The April snow melts quickly and uncovers a habitat of rebirth, and with it come the daily chirping sounds of spring, said Clark.

According to Clark, they seem like a fabulous welcome chorus from favorite returning and newly nesting birds. These sweet trills, coupled with maple sugar running, trees budding, and a warmth in the air bring on a wondrous, uplifting mood.

Clark’s poetry exhibition featured at the Windham Public Library throughout April is open to the public. <

February 17, 2023

In the public eye: Manchester School principal influences generations of students

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

By Ed Pierce

It’s said that the influence of an exceptional school leader remains a constant in our lives and for Danielle Donnini, Manchester School’s principal, that’s a fact.

Danielle Donnini has worked at Manchester School in
Windham for 26 years and had led the staff as principal 
there since 2015. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Donnini has worked at Manchester School for 26 years and through the years has become responsible for all aspects of the educational environment, safety, student learning, supervision, hiring, and school culture there. She has led the school as principal since 2015.

“The best thing I do is build positive, honest, collaborative relationships with our students, our staff and our families,” Donnini said. “I do love it when one of my old students shows back up as a parent and we can build upon that foundation. That's amazing.”

She grew up in northeast Pennsylvania in a coal and farming region and attended Penn State University, Luzerne County Community College, King's College, the University of Southern Maine, and the University of New England, earning a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a master’s degree in Special Education and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership.

“When I moved after college from Colorado to Maine, I wanted to live and work near Portland because it's such a cool little city, so I applied for jobs all over and that's how I found RSU 14,” Donnini said.

She worked as a psychiatric technician in a hospital with a school program in Pennsylvania for five years and after moving to Maine, she became an educational technician in Saco and served as an alternative education teacher in Gardner. Donnini worked as a Special Education teacher and then assistant principal at Manchester School before leading the school as its principal.

According to Donnini, the challenges facing a school principal on a daily basis are plentiful.

“There are often too many competing initiatives, challenges, and needs, so staying true to the priorities that are closest to students and our strategic vision is important,” she said.

The biggest misconception people may have about her role as Manchester School principal is complex.

“Given the divisive climate in recent years, some people believe that our work is political, and that's not actually what we are about. Also, some people think that the principal’s role is disciplinarian, and that's not right either,” Donnini said. “In both cases these misconceptions could be reframed if our priorities were understood. Making our school a place where every child feels safe and learns the academic and social skills to be a happy and contributing member of their community is what we do.”

In working for the school for more than two decades, Donnini said there are so many moments she’ll take away from the experience, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one as being the most memorable for her.

“There isn't really one moment I can think of. There are a thousand sweet, sad, challenging, bright, and funny little moments I've shared with families, students, and our staff over these many years,” she said.

Her family is proud of the work she does as a school administrator and creating a welcoming atmosphere at Manchester School for student learning.

“They know I love the kids,” Donnini said. “I think my commitment shows my own nearly grown children that they can work hard and can aspire to take on challenging, important careers.”

One thing that Donnini wants the public to know is that educating children remains the foremost aspect of her work at Manchester School.

“I do think the public knows that children are our priority, always. A skilled and caring school staff is how we take care of that priority,” she said. “So, we should value all the members of our school community with the pay and benefits they deserve, and treat them with kindness and respect, always.”

Donnini said that the most important thing that she’s learned while working for Manchester School is simple.

“Culture is everything and everybody is responsible for it every day,” she said. <

WHS senior earns Ladies in STEM Scholarship

By Ed Pierce

Although Windham High School senior Victoria Lin still doesn’t know where she will attend college, she’s already working on how to pay for her education and has been announced as this year’s recipient of the Ladies in Stem Scholarship.

Windham High School senior Victoria Lin is the recipient of
this year's Ladies in STEM $1,000 Scholarship for female
students in Maine interested in pursuing college degrees in
STEM-related fields involving  science, technology,
engineering and mathematics. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Lin, 17, was honored as this year’s winner of the $1,000 scholarship by Dror Liebenthal, the Chief Executive Officer of, an independent scholarship platform, on Jan. 29. The annual scholarship program was created to encourage the access and participation of women in STEM careers and fields.

Liebenthal said the Ladies in Stem scholarship aims to support female representation in STEM by supporting female students who are preparing to pursue higher education. Any female high school student in Maine who will pursue a STEM-related program may apply for this scholarship.

STEM is an umbrella term that stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which are fields in which women are vastly unrepresented, according to a study conducted by the American Association of University Women. Currently only about 28 percent of women make up the U.S. STEM workforce, something that is attempting to rectify.

Lin, who turns 18 on Feb. 24, said she first learned about the available scholarship opportunity in December and decided to apply. To be considered for the scholarship, she had to write an essay between 400 and 600 words on the topic of how she plans to make a positive impact on the world through her STEM program.

“What I like about STEM is its focus on practicality. STEM classes are all about problem solving and connecting to the real world,” she said. “I am also a curious person. I want to know how everything works, why, and how it can be used for different purposes.”

According to Lin, most of her experience in STEM at WHS comes from being a member of the school’s robotics team. She has been the co-captain of the WHS Robotics Team for about three years and usually spends anywhere from six to eight hours a week building and testing different mechanisms for the team’s robot.

"My favorite STEM course is physics. I am learning a lot about how the world works. My favorite part is when I can apply what I learn, like torque and projectile motion, in robotics,” Lin said. “When it comes to STEM, experience, experimentation, and mistakes are just as important as lessons from class.”

She is the daughter of Karen and Carl Lin of Windham and is still trying to determine where she would like to go to college.

“I'm holding out some hope for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but I know wherever I go I'll be happy and successful. I'm planning to study mechanical engineering with a minor in sustainability,” Lin said. “I want to use my skills in engineering to help protect our environment. I may be working on electric cars, constructing dams, or finding alternatives to plastic. I'm planning to explore all these possibilities in college.”

Besides her interest in robotics and STEM at WHS, Lin is also an active member in other school clubs, serving as the librarian for the Windham Chamber Singers, a member of the Windham High School Quiz Team, and leading the pit band in her school's “One Act” show.

“During the summer I work at Camp Natarswi, a Girl Scout summer camp. My main job is to teach outdoor skills,” Lin said. “For my capstone project, I'm designing STEM activities to bring to camp because I want to encourage curiosity and excitement for all things STEM in young campers, especially girls who are so often discouraged from this kind of stuff.” <