May 25, 2014

Raymond Community Forest Project seeks to protect 350 acres

Loon Echo Land Trust is working with the Raymond Conservation Commission to conserve approximately 350 acres of land in Raymond, owned by Hancock Land Company. This project is not the same project that was thwarted two weeks ago on Vanessa Drive due to environmental concerns for wildlife. 

“Loon Echo is working with the Raymond Conservation Committee to preserve a large parcel of land off of Conesca Road currently owned by Hancock. The goal is to make this a community forest complete with hiking trails.  We have applied for grants and are awaiting approval. In the meantime, the town will be voting on whether or not to appropriate $50,000 (out of the Open Space Fund) to begin this project,” explained Carol Meader, public relations manager for Loon Echo Land Trust. “Once the $50,000 is appropriated and grants come through, we will then begin a fundraising campaign and education process.  

The project is located in North Raymond on Conesca Road, including much of Pismire Mountain and a large forest near Crescent Lake.  Currently the land is owned by Hancock Land Company. In 2007 the Raymond Open Space Plan identified this property as “a special place” that, if conserved for the benefit of the public, could offer water quality and wildlife habitat protection as well as guaranteed recreational and scenic viewing opportunities. An option agreement with Hancock is temporarily securing the land through 2014. 

According to a flyer released to Raymond residents some of the benefits of this community forest is long-term/permanent protection for the quality of Crescent Lake and waters downstream to Sebago Lake, construction of a public trail network offering easy to moderately difficult terrain, scenic viewing, protection of a large forest that can be used with future forest management. 

The partners have through the end of 2014 to raise funds toward the goal of $600,000 to then exercise the option agreement with Hancock. Grants have been submitted to the Land for Maine’s Future Program, US Forest Service, Hancock Charitable Trust and Portland Water District. State and federal grant makers require that local funds be given to “match” their funds. The Town of Raymond will be asked on Tuesday, June 3 at the 2014 town meeting to contribute $50,000 to support the project. If approved, the funds will largely come out of the existing Open Space Fund which was created 10 years ago for this very purpose and a contribution from Raymond is necessary for the project to succeed.  
In 2015, the Town will be asked to consider owning the land subject to a conservation easement with Loon Echo that will forever protect the natural resources, public access and working forest. Later, a forest and wildlife management plan will be developed with public input.
For now, they partners need to get voters to the June 3 Town Meeting to secure public support and essential funds. 

“Our main goal right now is to get enough voters to attend town meeting and approve the initial funding,” said Meader.

May 20, 2014

St. Ann's breakes ground on new addition

On Wednesday, May 7, Fr. Tim Higgins blessed a gold shovel that Brian Butler, head of the building committee, used to break the ground on the new addition to St. Ann’s Episcopal Church at the corner of River Road and Windham Center Road, forty years after the ground breaking took place to build the existing church, according to Higgins. 
The Rt. Rev. Bishop Stephen Lane was in attendance and participated in the ceremony.  Construction is due to be completed by the end of August.

Standish Economic Development Advisory Group announces support for Standish Village Center sidewalk project

On Thursday, May 22 at 2 p.m. in the Colonial Marketplace Plaza on Route 25 in Standish, the Standish Economic Development Advisory Group (SEDAG) will announce their support for referendum question 1 which includes the Standish Village Center sidewalk project. SEDAG consists of Standish businesses which are part of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. Their vision is to connect the corners of Standish and the people of the community. The SEDAG group will place small blue marker flags designating the route of the proposed sidewalk along Routes 25 and 35.

The sidewalk project consists of 1.3 miles of sidewalks and other transportation improvements through the village center and the Routes 25 and 35 intersection to connect businesses, historic sites, elderly housing, residential neighborhoods, schools and the village recreational complex. It will encourage a stop and shop behavior and the emergence of an 18-hour economy for local businesses and residents, laying groundwork for Standish’s Quality of Place goals.

Based on a Maine Department of Transportation Safe-Routes-to-School grant, this sidewalk project will leverage federal funding of $418,400 with a local match of $104,600. This amounts to less than one cent on the mil rate over ten years. The SEDAG group is coining this project the “$1.50 Sidewalk” as that is the cost a household* will bear over the course of 10 years (based on a home value of $150,000 per year). 

 Because of a lack of sidewalks, 100 percent of the students at the George E. Jack school are bussed to school. This grant will start a connection of sidewalks that will allow residents and students to walk or bike to school for recreational activities and other events. It will also mitigate some of the steep drainage ditches and lack of shoulders along the road at the school. Standish entered into a $39,000 engineering design contract with Wright Pierce for the design of the sidewalks. Standish has already paid $7,800 or 20 percent of this cost for the engineering design but if referendum question 1 is not approved during the June 10th town elections, then the town will be obliged to repay ($31,200) to Maine DOT for their 80 percent share of the completed engineering work.

Currently the Oak Hill Road intersection relocation project has begun and once completed will improve the hazards near the Route 25 and Route 35 intersection which has been determined to be a high crash location and a level of service “F” by Maine DOT. These proposed sidewalks would link to the sidewalks on Route 25 being added during the intersection reconstruction project. All the sidewalks will increase neighborhood interconnectivity with a pedestrian, bicycle connection between the upper and lower village center areas, reducing the focus on the automobile as the only mode of transportation the Standish village center.

Jobs for Maine Graduates students snag eight trophies - By Elizabeth Richards

Windham High School Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG) students learn more than just academics in a unique partnership between the school and the nonprofit organization. The JMG elective offers students the chance to learn practical life skills and find the unique talents that each one of them possesses despite facing barriers to education. 
Dave Berrang is the JMG specialist at Windham High School. The course is available to students from freshman to seniors. There are four essential elements to the program, said Berrang. These components – career exploration, leadership, community service and social awareness - serve as the broad heading under which the students explore their academic world and connect with their purpose and life after high school, he said. There are 43 students at the high school participating in the course.

On April 30th, thirteen students travelled to Augusta to attend the Career Development Conference, an annual statewide JMG event. Organized like a traditional trade show, this event featured competitions in a variety of categories, from booth design to decision making, public speaking to presentations among others. Out of the 10 competition categories, the Windham team brought home eight trophies, including a first place, four second place and three third place wins. 

Though only juniors and seniors attended the conference, all of the students enrolled in the course participated in the preparation for the day. Students were so committed to the project that a large number of them came in over school break, voluntarily, to work on it, or did work at home while on vacation, said Berrang. Full participation from all class members was key, he said, particularly in the booth design, and they all stepped up to the challenge. “It would have been very easy for those students not going to just check out, and no one did.” 

Their booth featured a gallery of success, said Austin Walsh. Each person selected someone they considered successful and wrote a biography of that person. They also chose one thing about themselves and how they are successful in their own way, then displayed the results on presentation boards, Walsh explained.

The CDC offered students a chance to try new things, and gain confidence in many areas. Jesse Malier said that while he doesn’t like public speaking, it wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. “I think it helped me get better at it,” he said.

Deanna Mitchell said she enjoyed how the group became a team at the convention. “All of us were from such different groups of friends and people, none of us really talked,” she said. “It was just really crazy how all of us came together and won that many trophies, and now we’re all friends.”
Katie Whitney added that she found it cool how during the trophy ceremony, when Windham was announced as winners, everyone was hugging and high-fiving each other. “We didn’t do that before,” she said.

Berrang said the competitions were thoughtful and challenging, requiring a team to function well as a group. He was most proud, he said, of the fact that despite differing opinions everyone respected the decisions made and worked with the chosen ideas well. “Everyone did that to their fullest, which really speaks to the maturity of the group, and the cohesive nature of the group,” he said.

Another major project this year was a partnership with middle school students around career exploration at Hancock Lumber. JMG students served as mentors for 12 eighth graders. This initiative began with a team building day, where the high school students were able to offer insights on their experiences to the younger students. The group then learned about careers at Hancock Lumber, and how the company functions as a community with a broad range of jobs to suit many interests. Thirty students went on a tour of the saw mill in Casco. The project will culminate in a pizza party and creation of a thank you poster for Hancock Lumber. 

JMG helped throughout the year, Whitney said, with getting jobs, getting into college and knowing what you are doing once you get into college. She said that if the program had been offered at Windham High School before this year, she probably would have done it for more than just her senior year.
Matt Sayah said JMG helps them learn things that other classes don’t teach such as how to fill out job applications and write a resume. “It helps us with after school, how to get a job and succeed in life,” he said. 

Mitchell said her favorite part of JMG is the way Berrang teaches. “It helps us learn. It’s not the same pressure another class would be,” she said. While the group is still focused and doing their work, she said it feels more relaxed. “I like it a lot better and I feel like I learn a lot better,” she added.

Athena Shanahan said that JMG helps with more than just job skills, but also in learning things she will need to know as she becomes an adult. “It helps with being social, being able to cope in an adult environment, even though we’re just starting,” she said.

 “The cohesive nature of the group is really wonderful,” said Berrang. “The class is really designed to teach life skills but also assist the student in uncovering their own resiliencies and their attributes and gifts they have that they don’t even know they have,” he said.

May 11, 2014

Celebrating nurses week with an interview of a local practitioner - By Sheridan Reed

Interview with Sarah Young – Nurse Practitioner 

How did you first become interested in the nursing field?
When I was a teenager I was fascinated with wounds and blood, the gorier the better. I loved to fix my friends and family’s injuries and thought “I should be a nurse…” Going to med school and being a doctor wasn’t as appealing to me because my perception was that nurses actually did more patient care then physicians, and that was the part I found most interesting. 

What experiences in your background have contributed to career choices?
When I first graduated from nursing school I worked as an RN in Boston hospitals. I worked on a med-surg unit that had very difficult assignments with complicated and ill patients. It was very challenging as a new grad but the older nurses would tell me that if we could handle that floor we can do anything. After a year of experience, I worked at another hospital on a surgical unit that I liked very much. After a few years there I worked in the ICU for a while and decided that I would need to do more than floor nursing for the rest of my career. I felt like I quickly hit a ceiling and was no longer learning new things so I decided to go back to school for my master’s degree. 

How did your education or training prepare you for your career?
I went to a four-year college and received my BS in nursing. It was for the most part a traditional nursing program, it had a heavy emphasis on theory which was a difficult concept to grasp as a young nursing student but made more sense to me as I began to practice. My professors also stressed the importance of continuing our education after school either with grad school or finding new interests in the nursing field. As nursing goes in general, most of the learning we do is on the job training. I had a great foundation when I graduated but also learned a great deal more in my own practice. 

What are the most and least rewarding aspects of being a nurse?
The most rewarding aspect of being a nurse is to know that you are helping someone in some way. Most of our day as a nurse is caring for others, sometimes this is done in very small tasks such as positioning them in bed, or helping them walk to the bathroom, or even just listening to them tell a story. Another day it can be offering support to a dying patient and their family, and advocating for them to have more pain control or medication to control their suffering. In my current position as an NP in post acute rehab and long term care, the most rewarding aspect is helping families come to understand end of life care and guide the patient and family through a peaceful dying process. My least rewarding aspect is when I have family members that are afraid of death and have a hard time letting go of a loved one. I also dislike having to deal with sputum. 

What do you feel that you contribute most to your patients care?
Patients love to feel as though they are being cared and attended for and confident in their care providers. I always try to give my patient my full attention when I talk to them and listen to their concerns or complaints. It makes a big difference if they feel that someone they trust is paying attention, understands their concerns, and will advocate for them. 

How do you handle the stress and “burn out” associated with nursing?
Nursing is a difficult career physically, emotionally, politically and spiritually. In my opinion, the best way to avoid becoming over stretched and feeling frustrated is to be sure you are keeping a mental note of your feelings and the care you are providing. If there is an element of your job that is overshadowing your love for your career as a nurse and patient care, then it’s probably best to move to a new position or new role within the field. Fortunately for us, there are infinite possibilities and sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right fit for you.