March 25, 2016

We must make smart investments to protect Maine kids - By Sen. Bill Diamond

There is a dedicated crew of law enforcement officers doing some of the most difficult police work in our state, but if you saw them on the job, you may not know they’re police officers.
They won’t drive up in a police cruiser, or walk the beat downtown in a uniform. But every day, they are confronted by the worst kinds of criminals, and a category of human depravity that all of us should be lucky to avoid for our entire lives.

They are the men and women of the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit, and they are responsible for the investigation and arrests of people who use 21st century technology to commit crimes -- including child pornographers who abuse vulnerable children for profit, and the sick individuals who create demand for those products.

The 11 officers who make up the CCU do some of the hardest work of law enforcement. And they do their jobs well. Their investigations have taken predators off the streets and led to justice for abused children.

But they need our help.

The CCU needs about $89,000 of investment in new software, computer upgrades and renewed analyst training.

We recently learned that the state can expect a budget surplus of almost $73 million. That increased revenue is a good sign for Maine’s economy -- it means individuals and businesses are earning more than the experts had predicted.

Gov. Paul LePage has proposed putting all of that surplus in the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund, the state savings account more commonly known as the “rainy day fund.” I understand that impulse. We all know that when we receive unexpected money, the smart thing to do is to save it.

However, no families in our community would say it’s smart to put your whole paycheck into savings before the mortgage and car payment are made. Our state has some unpaid bills too, whether it’s the shortfall faced by our local schools or the investments needed in the CCU.

My house and senate colleagues on the appropriations are doing the hard work right now of striking the right fiscal balance. I testified before the committee on March 7, telling them about the critical need in the CCU, and I’m hopeful they’ll consider that need as they make their decisions about the upcoming surplus.

http://www.lisafriedlander.comI am disgusted by the frequency of stories about criminals abusing children -- whether it’s the monster creating and distributing child pornography, or the degenerate trafficking those suffering children. But I’m far more wary of a scenario in which those stories are never published, because those criminals are allowed to operate with impunity, out of reach of law enforcement officers who can’t keep up with them.
In the high-tech world of computer crimes, our police officers need the best, most up-to-date resources available to keep up with criminals. Fortunately, the legislature should be able to provide this funding easily.

As always, please feel free to contact me at or (207) 287-1515.

"Sue Austin Amendment" headed to house floor

AUGUSTA – Thursday morning in the house, Democrats voted against Maine’s small businesses when they refused to allow Maine voters to consider a competing measure to the minimum wage increase referendum being sent to voters this November.

Late Thursday afternoon, Rep. Sue Austin (R) of Gray came up with a way to keep the debate alive and thanks to her efforts, the competing measure will live to see another day. Rep. Austin offered an amendment to LD 674 “An Act To Support Maine's Working Families,” a bill carried over from last session that was about to be killed by the committee. Rep. Austin amended the bill to mirror the competing minimum wage proposal offered by House Republicans in an effort to support the small business community.“This was a bill the Democrats had sitting around from last session that they had no more use for and was set to be killed. I thought of the minimum wage issue which was fresh in my mind from the morning debate in the house and I strongly believe this deserves more discussion,” said Rep. Austin. “We have all heard from our small businesses and restaurant workers who have pleaded with us to offer the voters a sustainable compromise on minimum wage. This bill was a vehicle sitting right in front of us to do just that. I did this because it’s the right thing to do for the people of Maine who could see their hours cut or lose their jobs, and for our small businesses who have also told us how devastating a $12 per hour minimum wage would be.”

Details of the “Sue Austin Amendment”:

-         The current minimum hourly wage in Maine is $7.50 per hour. The current federal minimum hourly wage is $7.25 per hour/

-         Starting January 1, 2017, the minimum hourly wage would increase to $8.50 per hour. 

-          Starting January 1, 2018, the minimum hourly wage would increase to $9.00 per hour.

-         Starting January 1, 2019, the minimum hourly wage will increase to $9.50 per hour.

-         Starting January 1, 2020 the minimum hourly wage would increase to $10.00 per hour. 


·         There would be no change to the tip credit and no automatic indexing.

A good day in the Maine Legislature - By Rep. Sue Austin

Serving my fifth term in the Maine Legislature, I am reminded that nothing is easy here under the Maine State Dome. Hence the ole’ saying, nothing ventured, nothing gained! Well, after a month long tug of war with much debate and a tremendous amount of nail biting frustration, we gained critical passage of a very positive piece of legislation. That bill, known as the tax conformity bill, means Maine will conform to the recent changes made to the federal tax laws last December. 
On the surface it sounds rather drab and plain, but for our businesses scattered all across Maine this is something very substantial. This bill provides $38 million in tax relief to the Maine people and our state’s businesses as it also supports a predictable and stable climate for businesses to operate in. Due in large part to our high tax rates and high energy costs, Maine has developed a reputation for being unfriendly to business. Passing this bill sends that positive message for those who want to shed that image and instead show with “proof in the pudding” that Maine welcomes business and capital investment with our doors wide open.
We also welcome the good paying jobs that come with those investments. I’ve been on the state committee of jurisdiction that addresses public policy for business for almost 10 years and there has always been one certainty of need resoundingly expressed within the business community: Business wants the continuum of predictability and consistency that sound state policy can provide.  Nourishing capital goes and grows where it’s welcomed and stays and plays where it’s wanted. 

For our presently established Maine business partners, and for investors looking at Maine as a possible new business location, alignment of tax conformity isn’t boring or drab! It gives affirmative testimony to being welcomed and wanted players in a vibrant Maine economy!

Rep. Sue Austin represents the people of House District 67 - Casco (part), Frye Island, Gray (part) and Raymond (part)

March 18, 2016

Gearing up for Gearbots meet

http://www.lisafriedlander.comBradley Smith of Windham was announced the winner of the Southern Maine Gearbots T-shirt design
contest. The T-shirt with Bradley's design will be worn by participants at the upcoming Southern Maine Gearbots District Meet.  Along with the plaque he will also be receiving a robotics kit for completing the winning design. Area teams from Gray, Massabesic, Portland, Windham, Raymond, Saco and other surrounding communities have been working on their team-based projects over the past several months and will participate in the Southern Maine Gearbots District Meet to show off their work. The event, which includes competitive robot events, technical poster sessions, raffles, food and multiple interactive robot displays is open to the public and free of charge to attend.  The event will take place at St. Joseph's College in the Alfond Center gymnasium at 278 White’s Bridge Road in Standish on Saturday, March 26th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Shown in the photo (left to right) are: Jamie Smith (Bradley's mom), Bradley Smith, Caydyn Smith (Bradley's teammate), Destiny Gauthier (Bradley's coach) and Pat Noonan (Interim President of Southern Maine Gearbots)

Geography Bee won by sixth grader from Windham - By Michelle Libby

Sixth grader Matthew Fox won the annual National Geographic Geography Bee at Windham Middle School recently and has now qualified for the state geography bee to be held April 1 at the University of Maine at Farmington. 

“I’ve always had an interest in geography. I have maps and globes in my room. I chose to do it because thought it would be fun,” Fox said.

Fox is not the first sixth grader to win the Windham bee, but he is one of the few to beat out seventh and eighth graders, according to bee coordinator, teacher Julie Anderson. 

The questions were the luck or unluck of the draw, but for Fox, he was prepared having studied with his father, a social studies teacher in Falmouth. Each night, Fox and his father would sit down and do geography flash cards. 

Fox got all seven of the questions in the first round correct. “We thought, he knows his stuff across the board,” Anderson said. 

The hard questions were the ones with no options and he had to name a country or capital, Fox said. “Some I knew off the top of my head.” When he called his mom to tell her the good news, she thought he was out because the bee took less time than they expected. They celebrated the win with ice cream. 

He is still preparing for the state bee. “I don’t expect to be close to winning,” he said. “But, I made it that far, so that’s pretty good.” To qualify for the state bee, Fox had to take an electronic test and be one of the top 100 scores in the state. The winner of the state bee will go to Washington DC for the National geography bee.
Fox is on the Windham Middle School learning team of Stokes/Hopkins/Cook. 

Fox would like to be a United States Marine or a basketball player when he grows up. “I want to do something that helps America,” he said. 

The WMS runner up was eighth grader Owen Flibbert. “It was very competitive,” said Anderson.
The final question was “British Columbia’s largest city hosted the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship game. Name this city.”

March 11, 2016

Lighthouse Knitting Guild of Maine brings fiber arts to the region - By Michelle Libby

Once a month, the Lighthouse Knitting Guild of Maine gathers at the Windham Public Library to work on their latest knitting or crocheting project, to talk and to learn. As a part of The Knitting Guild Association, the local group receives benefits from area businesses and can also be a member of the National guild as well. The biggest perk is the comradery from like-minded knitters locally. 
“We sit and knit,” said guild president Jenn Fleck. “We teach people to knit and become proficient.” The guild started in September and has been quietly meeting since then. 

The group has speakers from within the organization and some from outside their membership. Last weekend, Pam Harwood of Longwoods Alpaca Farm taught the guild about Fair Isle knitting. She also brought many items to sell since she is downsizing in preparation to live on a boat. 

Most members work along with the class, but many bring their own knitting projects to work on when there is free time. The friendly group welcomes newcomers and is eager to talk about their projects and show off their work. No one is left out of the conversation. 

At the April meeting, there will be a yarn swap. Members bring in any yarn or knitting supplies they no long need and take home other items or yarn. Left overs will be used for a fundraiser. In addition to the yarn swap, they will also be a group knit to learn continental knitting. 

The board members are Fleck, vice president Julie Nye, secretary Kim Gouzie and treasurer Jackie Lambert. The knitters also provide information on charities that accept knit items, like hats, mittens, scarves and gloves for students.   

http://www.lisafriedlander.comMembership dues are $10 for the first year. They are hoping to have a booth at Summerfest to help raise money for more speakers and activities. 

The guild meets the first Saturday of the month unless it’s a holiday. For more about the organization, visit them on Facebook or at their website

Morning Veteran's mixer to start soon all local Veterans. American Legion Field -Allen Post 148 Service Officer, Chuck Whynot, is starting a pilot program at the Windham Veterans Center for local Veterans. Chuck is inviting local vets to come to the Windham Veterans Center on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. for socializing, comradery and possibly a chance to reminisce over coffee or play cards or cribbage. This is a chance for vets to get out of the house and visit with fellow vets. Interested Veterans should be ambulatory and self-sufficient. This is not a drop-off program. If there is interest, then additional opportunities might be in the offering in the future. This program will start on Wednesday, March 23rd.

March 4, 2016

Student of the week - Jacob Anderson

Nine-year-old Jacob Anderson is The Windham Eagle student of the week. Jacob attends Raymond Elementary School and is in Maria Parisi’s third grade class. He hopes to become a game warden after he goes to college. He likes math best. 

When asked who has meant the most in his education, Jacob said, “I have to say that last year being my first year in RES, the person that has meant the most to my education would be my second grade teacher Mrs. Pennington. She made me feel so welcome in my new school, pushed me to learn about everything, and believed in me that I could do it all.”

Jacob lives with his mom, dad, two younger sisters and a dog named Indy. 

“My family is the most important thing in my life right now, because I love them. They help me through things that make me sad or mad, and I can’t wait to tell them about things that happen at school or something new that I have learned. I couldn’t imagine having any other family,” Jacob said. 

Jacob likes the first two Harry Potter movies. He really likes building with Legos. “It is awesome to see what I can build!” He also likes biking, hiking mountains, fishing, camping and swimming. In the winter he ice fishes, snowshoeing and sledding. 

He is a bear in Cub Scouts and is in the third and fourth grade chorus, takes hip hop classes, plays soccer and does Mad Science and cooking classes.