October 26, 2015

Raymond Waterways Protective Association beats milfoil

Raymond Waterways Protective Association (RWPA) has had dramatic success recently in its effort to remove variable milfoil from areas on Raymond shores of Sebago Lake. Like many lake organizations across Maine, RWPA has been working to prevent new infestations of invasive aquatic plants and to remove the invasive variable milfoil that has filled some coves and other areas along Raymond’s shores in Sebago. 
Until recently, Raymond has been the only town bordering Sebago Lake that has supported milfoil removal. Over the last 11 years, while tweaking and refining techniques and equipment, Raymond Waterways has used benthic barrier tarps and diver assisted suction harvesting (DASH) boats and crews to kill off and to remove milfoil plants. 

The end of this, the 2015, summer season, has finally given cause to rejoice! 

RWPA crews found no variable milfoil in Mason Cove during their last check in September! Only a few, scattered variable milfoil plants were found at that time in Turtle Cove and in Port Harbor Marina. Jeff Stern, summer program manager for RWPA reports that as recently as four years ago, milfoil was so thick at Port Harbor that marina staff “had no choice but to put in boats directly on top of the plants,” according to Alex Gaskell, captain of the DASH boats for Raymond Waterways . Boat propellers in the marina chopped milfoil into fragments which took root to create new infestations and infested other areas of the lake.

Fast forward to 2015. This summer, the DASH crew, which consisted of Gaskell, divers Joe Marshall and Jeremy Skilling, and deckhand Dakota Dahms, could scarcely find more plants than a person can count on one hand in the entire run of Port Harbor, Gaskell said.

“There was a lot of trial and error,” recalled Dave Martens, owner of Port Harbor Marina. “At first we tried laying down mats to smother the plants but they were problematic because they rose to the surface and got caught in boat propellers. Harvesting is what allowed us to get hold of it.” 

Port Harbor donates a slip each year to Raymond Waterways for docking a DASH boat in return for milfoil removal. Marina technicians also service DASH motors. RWPA is grateful for the stalwart support from Port Harbor Marina and looks forward to continued collaborative work on the milfoil problem.

Raymond Waterways also extends hearty thanks to all the property owners in the Turtle Cove and Mason Cove areas who provided volunteer help in retrofitting a boat, extra funding support, and logistical help with mooring the boats, off loading the harvested milfoil, and safe disposal of that harvest. This vast network of volunteers, supportive members and property owners, and Raymond Waterways’ diligent and experienced crew is what it took to make this success happen. Favorable weather conditions for the last two winters may also have helped curtail the infestations.

RWPA will have to continue to be persistent and vigilant to keep the cleared areas clear. In the lake setting, there is no downstream current to discourage migration of fragments from the milfoil plants, fragments that can take root and start the whole discouraging mess all over again! Next season, and for many years to come, RWPAs’ DASH crews will be returning several times each summer to Turtle Cove, Mason Cove, and Port Harbor Marina to spot and remove any milfoil plants that appear. 

In addition, Raymond Waterways’ DASH crews will resume work in the Bayview Canals to continue the effort there. By the end of this 2015 summer season, the DASH crews had cleared almost half of one canal and had increased tarped areas at the mouth of the other canal. With funding support from the Bayview property owners, RWPA hopes to make a big push toward improved results there.

And RWPA will continue to work on clearing the Jordan River above Route 302 of variable milfoil. This project has been moved along mostly by volunteers with some help from the DASH crews—but without the DASH boat! The river is too shallow and the 302 bridge is too low to allow the DASH boat to work there. So it’s been a long job of laying tarps and careful hand pulling, repeating the process a bit downriver each summer. Representatives from Maine Department of Environmental Protection volunteered one workday this season. RWPA hopes that in two or three more seasons they can declare the Jordan River clean of milfoil above the Route 302 bridge!

Marine Corps collecting socks and gear to help homeless Vets - Andrea Turner

The Marine Corps League Detachment 1324, located in southern Maine, is holding a fundraiser known as ‘The Warm Feet for Veterans Project’. This aims to collect any new or gently used socks, gloves, hats and coats (or any other items worn in the cooler Maine months) from the general public over the next several weeks as the weather starts to become colder. These items will be donated to the shelters and agencies which help homeless veterans and their families who reside in southern Maine. This is a great opportunity not only to clean out closets of items no longer needed, but to also give to others who are less fortunate…especially during the colder months and with the holidays quickly approaching. 
According to Jay McKenna, “The Marine Corps League Detachment is a fairly young organization in terms of their location here in southern Maine, and has grown rapidly from 31 members to 86, making it the fastest growing Marine Corp League to date.” 

The league has run this fundraiser for many years within their social circle, but this is the first year the league has reached out to the general public for donations, and they hope it will be even more successful than in the past. This league has other fundraisers they do for those in need, particularly right around Christmas, and they want to get a head start on the “giving season”. The group says all new and gently used donations will be accepted, and will be distributed accordingly. 

Donations can be dropped off at the collection box at the Time4Printing office at 588 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. For any questions regarding this cause, please contact Jay McKenna at 207-893-1969, or Herb Broy at 207-653-3543.

First annual community calendar now in the works - By Michelle Libby

Time4Printing is partnering with the towns of Raymond and Windham, RSU14 and the Windham Economic Development Corporation to create a new calendar to showcase the events, towns, schools and the non-profit organizations in the communities. 
“The hope is to increase attendance at local happenings by giving advance notice and having it easily accessible on a traditional wall calendar,” said Kelly Mank, owner of Time4Printing.

The 12-month calendar will be delivered via The Windham Eagle newspaper, right to the mailbox of every home and business in Windham and Raymond on December 31. The cost of the endeavor is over $20,000 including the printing, design, set up, and the mailing of the calendar.

“There are always people we feel we’re going to miss. So if you’re part of a non-profit organization, or local business who would like to get involved, promote or advertise and to help support this community resource, please get in touch with Kelly@Time4Printing.com or Melissa@Time4Printing.com,” said Mank. From meeting dates and special events to contact lists and useful information, the calendar will be a go to place for information from the community. 

There is also the opportunity to submit a photo for the photography contest. Each month with feature a picture from the Windham or Raymond communities, so don’t wait to send in pictures to kelly@Time4Printing.com. If you have questions please call Kelly Mank or Melissa Carter at 894-3500 or stop by 588 Roosevelt Trail in Windham.

Sheriff pulls back the curtain on Maine's drug problem - By Sheriff Kevin J. Joyce

There have been several recent news stories on the opiate addiction epidemic that has been and is still wreaking havoc in our communities. The countless overdoses and numerous fatal overdoses are impacting families from all “walks of life” regardless of their socio-economic status.  In fact, I recently read two news articles that claim more people are dying from heroin overdoses in the United States than in car crashes.

When individuals hear about drug addiction, especially heroin or opiate addiction, people conjure up the thought of a back alley drug addict with a needle stuck in his or her arm.  But, that is a small number of individuals who are representative of our present problem of those suffering with this terrible addiction.
Every day that I walk through the Cumberland County Jail, I see the “face” of addiction and it does not necessarily match the aforementioned profile. Some of the addicts look just like you and me, but due to an injury or surgery that required the use of pain medication, they became addicted to narcotics. That addiction started by the use of pain medication or pain killers and after a while grew to the need for a better “high” than what the pain medications gave.  I have heard inmates describe the path to this terrible malady as “falling in love” with the feeling those medications gave.  We also stereotype the addict as using medications, or heroin because they chose to, when the only choice the addict made was the first time they decided to use the particular drug.  In essence, the drug addict doesn’t control the drug, but the drug controls them.

We cannot “arrest” our way out of this public health crisis.  We need a comprehensive plan to arrest the drug dealers that are bringing the drugs to Maine - often from Massachusetts and New York.  This, while also making sure that the addicts get the necessary drug re-habilitation to end the craving of the drug.  I recently heard an inmate give an interview to the media.  The inmate claimed that for a drug dealer in Massachusetts or New York, it is very lucrative for them to come to Maine as they can sell the same amount of Heroin here for $60.00 more per unit than what the drug goes for in their own community!
Compounding the current heroin overdose deaths is the fact that the heroin is now being mixed with a powerful synthetic opiate that increases the heroin’s potency called fentanyl. This non pharmaceutical drug that is manufactured in many forms from scratch in illegal labs can be extremely potent and deadly in very small doses.  Consider now, mixing it with another powerful narcotic, namely heroin!

Arresting the user and expecting the Cumberland County Jail or any jail for that matter to provide the necessary treatment is not a wise use of tax payer funding.  Corrections Officers are not trained to be drug counselors.  This is not the role they were hired to fill, nor do the normal operations of a jail facility allow them the time to take on that role.  Incarcerating drug addicted individuals becomes a vicious, never-ending and tragic cycle.  Interestingly, in many cases, the per diem rate for a drug treatment facility bed is less expensive than the per diem rate at the jail.  However, only a small number of drug users are able to access impatient drug rehabilitation facilities nationwide.

For those who understand economics, and the theory of “supply and demand”, in addition to arresting the drug dealers limiting the supply, we need to attack the “demand” part of the equation utilizing a more effective method than arrest.  The results will be two fold.  Drug addicts get a second chance to live and recover from this devastating situation.  The “big city” drug dealers will leave Maine because they are only interested in making money.

I have mentioned “public health crisis” several times in this article and I think that the issue of drug addiction could be described as Public Enemy Number One. Its devastation is far-reaching as families watch their loved ones die before their very eyes, crime rates increase in towns and neighborhoods, and correctional facilities become overburdened and unable to meet the real needs of the addicted individuals. As a community member you can help by taking the time to encourage your legislators and the Governor to develop a more comprehensive approach to this problem.   It needs to include drug rehabilitation services that complement the efforts to rid our communities of the opportunistic drug dealers.

Maybe I am an idealist, but I believe that it is not so far-fetched to believe that someday, if every community were to adopt this more realistic approach to solving our public health crisis, we could see a marked improvement in a relatively short time.  No family should ever have to suffer such loss and no individual should be left in our current tragic cycle of hopelessness.

Sheriff Joyce will be the keynote address at a community forum on Tuesday, October 27th at 6:30 p.m. at the Windham Public Library, 217 Windham Center Road. Learn about the connection between prescription drug abuse and heroin  and how to be part of the solution.

October 18, 2015

A family extends a big thank you for a kind gesture - By Michelle Libby

 Rebecca McCraw and her family have had a rough two years. First she was diagnosed with breast cancer, had to have a double mastectomy and bought a $6,000 car, which turned out to be a lemon. They spent another $1,000 on a car that was owned by a friend of theirs, but it wouldn’t pass inspection. 

Just after Rebecca heard she was cancer free, her husband, Thomas, was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer a very rare cancer that is terminal. The blended family with four boys are active in soccer and need transportation to get to and from medical appointments that help prolong Thomas’ life. 

“Us and our boys have been through hell in the last couple of years,” Rebecca said. The family of six is trying to survive on two disability incomes, she said. 

Rebecca was frazzled, and with the $1,000 they managed to scrape together, a friend gave her Randy Perkins’ name at Perks Peak Auto Sales/Service. She said that Randy could find them a car with the little money they had.  

“We brought our car over there. He fixed our van and didn’t charge us anything,” she said in disbelief. “We had so many people tell us the minivan wasn’t worth fixing and he did it in a weekend,” she added.
The day they went to pick up the van, they were told to take it. The second day, they went hoping for the bill. “He said, ‘just to take it and spend the money on the family’.” 

Rebecca praised the Windham community and those moms from her sons’ soccer team who have helped them in the last two years, including making dinners every night for two weeks when she had her mastectomy. 

“At first I thought of this as handouts, but we’d be worse off without all this help,” Rebecca said.
Randy Perkins hadn’t met the McCraw family before they came to him asking for a car. He had a car they could have made work, but it might not be that good for them, Perkins said. He asked to keep their car over the weekend, and when they agreed, he tore it apart and got it back on the road. 

“I hope anybody would have done the same thing,” said Perkins. “I hope someone would do the same for me if I was in that same situation. Circumstances put them there. They just need a hand and not a handout.” 

Perks Peak Auto and Perkins have been in the car business since 1989 and his father bought the shop in 1975. Perkins’ grandfather also worked in the automotive industry. The family business includes Perkins’ brother as well. Perkins said he learn from his grandfather about doing the right thing.
“You try to do the best you can. You only have one trip around,” he said.  

Perkins works to make sure that buying or fixing a car is a fun process and not a bad one for his customers. 

“The guy didn’t know me. It may not be a big deal for him, but it was a big deal for us. He restored my faith in people,” Rebecca said. 

Perks Peak Auto Sales/Service from Windham can be found on Facebook.