June 29, 2014

Raymond hires new town clerk - By Michelle Libby

Sue Look has been hired to take the place of retiring town clerk Louise Lester beginning July 8th.
“We are please she decide to apply for and accept the position in Raymond,” said town manager Don Willard. “It was a difficult decision, but she exceeded our expectations.” 

Look comes to Raymond after a stint in West Bath as their town clerk and then working for the State of Maine with databases for driver’s licenses and at the division of elections, where she was for five years. “I can run any elections they throw at me,” she said.

“I miss being a town clerk,” Look said. “That part of Maine has always been part of my family,” she added. Although she doesn’t live in Raymond, she has family in town and is considering a move.
She believes that customers are the most important part of her new position. “My smile might be the only smile they see all day. Without the town folks, there would be no town clerk position,” Look said. People come to the town hall to pay fees, pay fines. She wants to make sure they have a positive interaction. 

Look likes history and working with old documents. “It’s something I enjoy. I prefer to do it where I can see people,” she said, after being in a “Dilbert type cubicle for a year.”

Look is married with two grown, married daughters and two grandchildren. She admits she likes to have fun while working. She also is an avid gardener, knitter and likes to kayak. “I’m pretty eclectic,” she added.

Relay for Life of Sebago lakes Region this weekend - By Michelle Libby

The Relay for Life of Sebago Lakes Region starts Saturday night at 4 p.m. and wraps up at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning. 

Last year the event raised $70,000 and they are hoping to exceed that this year, said sponsorship and publicity chair Emily Wainwright. 

The event will be more kid friendly, she said with the addition of a coloring contest, dessert tasting contest and a purple bounce house.

Vendors will be set up throughout the night and there will be basket raffles and a jail where people can pay to have their friends arrested and the friends must raise money to get out of jail. There will also be a Zumba class at 3 a.m. and a caregiver and survivor reception at 4 p.m.

All of the money raised goes to the American Cancer Society to pay for research, rides to treatment for patients and wigs. “The money goes where it’s needed the most,” Wainwright said.

The public is invited to register that night, or to just come check out the event and be a cheerleader. The opening ceremony is at 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.relayforlife.org and put in 04062 for the zip code. Also visit them on Facebook under Relay for Life of Sebago Lakes Region or email Emily@metayerfamilyeyecare.com.

June 22, 2014

Raymond town clerk Louise Lester to retire June 27th - By Michelle Libby

Louise Lester has worked for the Town of Raymond since 1989. First as a secretary taking minutes for the selectmen, then she was the deputy clerk for five years and then the town clerk since 2001.  When she retires on June 27, 18 years of experience goes with her, but her legacy will last and her philosophy of customer service will continue to be a standard that the town hall strives for.
“If they have a problem we try to solve it for them. We don’t let people leave without an answer or help for their problems,” Lester said. 

Lester has lived in Raymond since she was five. When she was 21 she married and built her own horse barn and still boards 11 horses. Her two children have moved back to Raymond.  

Lester said that she couldn’t live without horses, but she won’t miss getting up at 6 a.m. to do chores before heading to the office. 

As far as changes Lester sees in the future, she said the most important thing is “trying to maintain the small town atmosphere.” The volume of work she has has changed over her years with the town. In 1950, the population of Raymond was 750. Today it’s between 4,300 and 5,000. In the summer the population swells to 12,000, she estimated. 

Her job has been keeping records whether vitals, taxes or assessing, she preserves the historical paperwork in the building that used to be a school in 1908. She also looks up information for residents. With her staff she handles motor vehicle registrations, inland fisheries fishing licenses, elections twice a year, liquor licenses, Notary work and produces two publications per year (the Town Report and the Warrant for the town meeting). 

Elections are her favorite part of the job. “I love the democratic process,” Lester said. “I’d hate to see small town democracy go away.”

Her retirement will be spent volunteering with “anybody who needs help from the library to Tassel Top,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll find things to do. I don’t stay still.” She knits in the winter and donates booties for babies at Maine Medical Center and shawls for the elderly community.
“I just did a job, did it willingly and did it to the best of my ability. You have to like your work and you have to like people.”
On June 27, the Raymond Town Hall will be open all day for people to come wish Lester well. She expects to be around to help the new clerk at first. She will be there on the 27th with a large batch of her Toll House cookies.

REAL School student receives Mitchell Scholarship - By Elizabeth Richards

It was a big year for RSU 14s REAL (Relevant Experiential Authentic Learning) School. Not only did the school celebrate its 30th anniversary with its largest graduating class, but among those students was the first student from the REAL School to be named a Mitchell Scholar. 

Kamden Berry attended the REAL school for two years, after struggling in the traditional high school setting at Windham High School. “It wasn’t the academic piece that was keeping him from accessing instruction at WHS,” said his mother, Linda Berry. “He just felt kind of lost in the bigger school. Going to a smaller school was a better fit for him.” 

Kamden agreed. “I didn’t fit in the best in the conventional school setting. It was very restrictive for me. The REAL school helped me build upon my strengths,” he said. Two years ago, he said, he didn’t think he would even be going to college. But at the REAL school, he was encouraged and given the support needed to achieve being chosen as a Mitchell Scholar. “It’s a great honor,” he said of being selected. “It will be a great help for me having the assistance with the Mitchell Scholarship. They stand behind you too,” he added.

The mission of the Mitchell Institute, founded by Senator George Mitchell, is “to increase the likelihood that young people from every community in Maine will aspire to, pursue, and achieve a college education.” A Mitchell Scholar is named every year from each of 130 public high schools statewide. As a Mitchell Scholar, in addition to a financial award of $7,000 over the course of his education, Kamden will have access to a network of peers and adult mentors. This assistance is even bigger for them than the financial piece, said Linda. 

Kamden said that while the money is significant, and will help him a great deal, he’s most excited about the support he will receive. “It’s a huge confidence booster knowing I have the supports in place, and have people who will help me and stand by me to make sure that I succeed,” he said.

Rod Nadeau, an adventure based counselor at the REAL School said Kam was an ideal candidate for the award. “He has an incredible work ethic, he’s unbelievably smart, and he can handle a lot of responsibility,” said Nadeau. This has been evident in the work Kamden has done over the past couple of years at the REAL School, he said. 

Kamden took part in a work co-op program with Mr. H2O, a division of Dead River, and was so successful that he was hired on full time. Nadeau said that the company is expanding rapidly, and Kam is included in that expansion plan. 

Being named a Mitchell scholar will solidify Kamden’s opportunity for success at SMCC, Nadeau added. He is hopeful that Kamden will receive his associate’s degree, continue on for a bachelor’s degree, and advance with Mr. H20. While in school, Nadeau said, Kamden continually took on new personal challenges, worked hard, and grew significantly. From taking on ice climbing to raising up a boardwalk at the Sebago Lake Ecology Center, Kamden met challenges and fears head on, said Nadeau. 

Kamden has been generous to his community, said Nadeau. In addition to the hours put in at the ecology center, Kamden took on the responsibility of grooming snowmobile trails for the Windham Drifters last winter. He has also served as a Governor appointed member of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group in Augusta. “He’s a great kid. He’s utilized the support well to be very successful, and he’s giving back to the community,” said Nadeau.

Linda said she is proud of Kamden. Being named a Mitchell Scholar finally recognized him for the bright kid he is, she said. “It was a nice surprise to hear that he was awarded that amount of money and also, more importantly, that he’s tied in now with the whole system of networking, and with peer tutors if he needs it through school, and just a group of people that are going to support him through his college years,” she said. 

Kamden’s receipt of this scholarship has changed their lives, said Linda. “Kamden’s success isn’t just about Kamden. It’s about our family and our family’s feeling of success in helping Kam to get where he needed to go. Everyone in our family knew that he would get there,” she said.

Kamden said he has received great support and motivation from a number of directions, including at the REAL School, in his job with Mr. H2O, from his parents, and now with the Mitchell Scholarship. “It’s been building up over the past couple of years to this moment,” he said. “It’s just incredible. It’s unbelievable. Two years ago I wasn’t sure I would even be going to school. Now I know what I want to do. It all just fell into place,” he said. 

Kamden will be studying business at SMCC, and plans to stay with Dead River. He said he loves his work, and though he had considered studying law enforcement, thinks he would regret passing up the opportunity he’s been given at the company. He feels the same about the Mitchell Scholarship. “I was given this opportunity and it’s up to me to make it happen. I’ll follow through with it and really succeed in school,” he said. 

Kamden said he would like to continue on for a four year degree, and he’s exploring taking night and summer courses to possibly finish in three years. “There’s no reason I can’t make it happen if I’m determined enough,” he said.

WMS 6th grader wins national investment essay contest in Maine - By Michelle Libby

On Monday morning, Emily Magoon was surprised with the news that she had won the InvestWrite Competition for the entire State of Maine. InvestWrite is part of the Stock Market Game Program sponsored by McGraw Hill Financial that teachers in RSU14 voluntarily incorporate into their curriculum. The program is for students in grades four through 12 to help develop the personal financial savvy needed to make real-world financial decisions.

The Windham Middle School sixth grader had just completed a group presentation for Aaron Vachon’s social studies class, when Elizabeth Reidel from InvestWrite came in to present Magoon with balloons, a certificate, a $100 American Express card and a trophy. Magoon’s mother, Candice Pierce, came to celebrate with her daughter and brought a “flat daddy”, a picture of Magoon’s father Staff Sergeant Peter Pierce, who is stationed in Afghanistan. 

Magoon was one of four students in Vachon’s class who did the optional essay to describe a product in her portfolio and tell about the service or products, then compare the stock to a different stock in the same area. Magoon compared McDonalds and Chipotle Mexican Grill.  The 20,000 essays were read and evaluated by financial services industries professionals, according to Reidel. 

“She loves to write,” Candice said. Magoon would like to be a novelist when she grows up. 

“I’m so excited. I really, really like writing. I’m excited I got to have this experience,” she said. 

Candice had known about the award for a couple of weeks and had a conversation with Magoon about the contest.
“What are the chances that two kids from the same school, same class, would win two years in a row?” Candice asked. Magoon doubted it, but she’s a believer now. 

“SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game and InvestWrite are transformative programs that prepare students like Emily Magoon for college, career and life while teaching them about the capital markets,” said Melanie Mortimer, Executive Director of the SIFMA Foundation. 

From Magoon’s essay:
“Chilpotle uses naturally-raised beef, chicken and pork, along with zero trans-fat frying oil…This is a very salubrious alternative to quick and easy dining when you’re on the go.” 

“One of Chipotle’s unhealthier competitors is McDonalds.  But, while McDonalds may be popular it isn’t the healthiest food choice...Personally, I feel that this is mainly because of the fight against obesity in the United Sates.”