December 29, 2017

A La Mexicana on the way to re-opening as Maine’s first Mexican Diner by Elizabeth Richards

Diner being placed in its new home
Since A La Mexicana was devastated by fire last year, Bob and Laurie Mason, who own the property the restaurant was on, have been committed to helping Jose Chavez and his family reopen their business. 
“This summer we helped Jose out by putting together a food truck for him, so he could keep working and keep supporting his family. They had great success,” Laurie said. 

Last Friday, the next phase in the plan to keep Chavez in business was put into action when the pieces of an original Valiant diner arrived in Raymond from its former home in Piketon, OH.  The diner is being set on the site of the former building, which was demolished in November of 2017.

While weather delayed delivery of the final pieces of the diner, most arrived amid stormy weather last week. Once CMP sets up the necessary power for the diner, the Masons can get things hooked up and ready to go. They are hoping to be ready to open by the end of February, Laurie said. idea came about when the Masons were dining at the Miss Portland Diner. “Bob and I were trying to figure out the best way to get Jose back in business,” Laurie said. They explored various options, but hadn’t come up with one that would work. As they ate breakfast in Portland one morning, she said Bob looked around and asked, “What about a diner?” 

They began checking out modular diners, but new ones were beyond their reach financially.  They were about to give up, Laurie said, when a friend contacted them with a lead on a used diner in Ohio.   

The Masons flew to Ohio to check the diner out. “We looked at it and fell in love with it. When you see it you’ll know why,” Laurie said.  “It’s in beautiful condition.”

They returned to Raymond and worked with the planning board, presenting a plan that they thought would fit in with the town.  
Diner after the long trip from Ohio

The process took a while, but in the end, the project was approved, and the diner was scheduled to be moved. 

Though there are many diners throughout the state, this one will be unique. “It will more than likely be Maine’s first and only Mexican Diner. Maybe even New England’s first and only Mexican diner,” Laurie said.

“I think it’s very, very exciting. I think it’s going to be a big draw for the town of Raymond,” Laurie said. Because the diner is smaller than the footprint of the original building, they can have a large outdoor seating area and patio for summertime visitors. “That old building really was a white elephant and had been through so much,” Laurie said. “This is really going to be a nice fresh start for them there, and it’s going to be a lovely thing.” Mason’s goal all along has been to get Chavez back in business. “They’re a wonderful family. They work hard, they’re a great asset to the community,” Laurie said. When the fire happened, she said, they didn’t want to see the family, whom they had developed a bond with, have to leave. “It was just a building to us, but for them it was their whole life. We were able to help them, so we did,” she said.

A helpful family guide to college planning by Suzanne Hatfield

Senior year is a busy time for students and their families. Students are trying to meet college application deadlines while balancing schoolwork and activities. Creating an action plan, a timeline, and a checklist can help families manage the college application process.

The action plan should include meeting with the school counselor to learn that person’s role in assisting students and families in applying to colleges. 

Families should also plan to attend any scheduled information sessions on college planning and
financial aid. They should remain current in reading any information provided by the counseling office pertaining to daily visits from college reps and scholarship announcements. Working with the school counselor and the college reps also helps students identify colleges and universities that match their requirements and interests.

Families must meet deadlines for college admission financial aid, and scholarship applications. The following timeline and suggestions are offered as an aid to manage various application requirements.


Students and family members meet with the school counselor and attend information sessions on the college admission and financial aid application processes.

Students meet with visiting college reps and attend area college fairs.

Students register for any required college admission tests such as the ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, and AP Exams (taken in May).

Students fill out and send college applications before deadlines; they write, proof, and submit the college essays, pay college application fees, and request counselor and teacher recommendations be sent to colleges.

NOTE: Students can save time by using the Common Application, the Universal College Application or Coalition Application. Students should check with the colleges or school counselor to determine which application to use based on his or her list of colleges. Students must provide appropriate instructions and forms for recommendation writers and thank them for their time and consideration. Various applications are found online. For example, go to

admin@richardpwaltz.comStudents check with the school counselor to have mid-year transcripts and admission test scores sent to their choice of colleges.

Families schedule campus or alumni interviews as required or recommended. Check for deadlines!

Families fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is used by the government and many colleges to award aid. It is available on line at

Families complete the CSS Profile, if required by a college or scholarship program. Watch for a priority deadline and submit by that date. Go to

Families contact the financial aid offices at the colleges of interest and request and submit forms needed to apply for financial aid.


Families review college admission and financial aid offers and figure out which financial aid package works best. complete paperwork to accept a college’s offer of admittance, meeting any required deadline.

Families mail a tuition deposit and submit other required paperwork by the specified deadline.

About the author:

Suzanne Hatfield, C.A.S., is a certified school counselor who worked in Maine high schools for 20 years before her retirement. She received her B.S., M.Ed. and Certificate of Advanced Study from the University of Maine. Her areas of specialization include Secondary Education, Counselor Education, and Higher Education Administration. Suzanne is a member of the American Counseling Association and the American College Counseling Association.

Windham firefighters make Christmas merry and bright for five families by Michelle Libby

Lieutenant Chip Jones has been helping families at Christmas time for more than 20 years. This year was no different. Last Friday, Windham firefighters and a few volunteers delivered supplies, presents and joy to five families in Windham. 
Jones started delivering presents to families in need when he lived and worked in New Jersey. Six or seven years ago, he started a program in Windham. 

“It’s awesome. I love doing this – getting the reaction from everyone. You hear their stories where they save enough for a winter coat for their child and that’s all the kid gets,” said Jones. 

Armed with a fire truck lined with Christmas lights and a bus filled with boxes of Christmas presents and other items like paper towels and toilet paper, Jones, Santa and the crew left in a snowstorm to deliver the presents. 

The children who benefited were from age one to age 11 and most were impressed that Santa would stop by their house. A few children were apprehensive, but warmed up to the jolly guy after a few minutes. 

Donations were collected from 41 businesses and the Windham Fire Department members. Jones collected the items from around the area and a group of 12 volunteers wrapped the presents the night before the delivery. 

Hannaford donated five ham dinners with all the trimmings and McDonalds donated six turkeys for the families, who were chosen by application at the Windham Food Pantry. 

“You just made that little girl’s day,” said one grandmother, who gave each volunteer a hug. One family made the firefighters an ornament for their tree and gave them a thank you card.
The mothers from the families knew what was happening, but for the children it was a wonderful Christmas surprise. 

The annual event usually takes place the Friday before Christmas. To get involved, contact Chip Jones at the Windham Fire Department. that donated to the adopt a family Christmas:
Aroma Joe's
Advance Auto
Auto Zone
Bull Moose
Buck's Naked BBQ
Benny's Barber & style Shop
Cleaning Genies
Dena's Lobster House
Danielle's Sebago Diner
Gilbert's Chowder House
G & K Auto
Hannaford Supermarket

Heaven & Earth Day Spa
Hair Gone Wild
Hall's Implement Co.
Lee Auto
Lee Family Trailer
Mancave Hair Lounge
Mills & Co.
Napa Auto
Pizza Hut
Pet Quarters
Pet Life
Rose's Old World Restaurant & Pizzeria
Rustler's Steakhouse
Smitty's Cinema
Shaw's Supermarket
The Nail Spa
The Windham Jeweler's
TD Bank
Tractor Supply
The Windham Flower Shop

Other Donors:
IAFF Local 4095
South Windham Fire Co.
East Windham Fire Co.
Members of Windham Fire Rescue
John Ward
Barbara Cox
Laurie Thomsen

December 23, 2017

An interview with Santa Claus by Matt Pascarella

Christmas is only a few days away and Santa is busy preparing for his big night. I sat down with Kris Kringle to see if he is ready for his most important flight of the year, to see how the reindeer are doing and if he has any advice for his arrival on Christmas Eve.

Santa, how are you preparing for the big day?

I have been preparing for the big day for many months now. Many people think that Christmas
season is only a few weeks in December, but I spend most of the year preparing for Christmas. I do get January to rest from the Big Night but then it’s back to getting ready for next year. All thanks goes to my wonderful elves in the preparation for Christmas. Without them I would have an empty bag and broken-down sleigh.

Are the elves still hard at work or have they finished making toys?

The elves are in full production mode right up to Christmas Eve. They usually finish all toy production on Christmas Eve and we have a huge celebration before I take off for the Big Night.  People always wonder why we don’t finish before Christmas Eve and I tell them it’s because the elves enjoy the season so much that they would not want to stop even if they could.

How are the reindeer looking? Are they ready to go?

The reindeer have spent much of the off season resting and enjoying time with each other. They developed a new reindeer game this year. I can’t seem to figure it out, but it looks like they lift a bag filled with corn onto their antlers and toss it at a board with a hole in it. Seems to keep them busy for hours.

Since it’s your busiest night of the year, does Mrs. Claus make you any special treats before you go?

Mrs. Claus is the most wonderful woman in the entire world. She not only cooks me a wonderful high carb meal for dinner on Christmas Eve, but she also packs me a goody-bag just in case the trip from house to house gets too long without cookies. I could not be Santa without her by my side.

What advice do you have for children coming to visit you and what should children be doing in preparation for your arrival?

When you come to visit me in the mall or at a local event, please remember to bring your lists! I love receiving lists from children when I see them face to face. One word of caution when you see me: Do not pull on Santa’s beard as I am very old and my hair falls out fast and grows slowly. I have spent a long time perfecting my beard. For those children that leave out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve, I say, “Thank You.” Each year you get more creative and the treats are AMAZING.  

My biggest wish for this year is to remind children that the Christmas Spirit and the Christmas Magic depends on all of you. As you drift off to sleep on Christmas Eve, think happy thoughts and make happy wishes for the coming year. Make a wish for a family in need or think of a way to help a fellow human being. I will take care of the hard work.
I wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Winter in Windham by Rep. Mark Bryant

It was great to see so many friends during the Town of Windham’s Tree Lighting at the Windham Public Safety Building and at the Sebago Lakes Chamber of Commerce Tree Lighting in the Windham Shopping Plaza. What fun and magical events!
As the days get colder and snow starts to fall, there are so many great activities to do in and around Windham. Our parks and trails are available year-round for all sorts of activities. The Parks and Recreation Department grooms cross-country skiing trails and even has snowshoes to lend; free to use, so you and your family can continue being active outdoors. They offer men’s, women’s and children’s sizes.

On Saturday, Jan. 6, the Windham Parks and Recreation Department is having its annual Winterfest. The event is beach-party themed and will have a photo contest, games, dancing, prizes and so much more. Learn more on their website at

The recreation department is also hosting two ice skating nights: On Friday, January 19, at the Donnabeth Lippman Park skating rink and on Friday, February 2, at the Manchester School skating rink. Enjoy s’mores and skating with these two free events that are open to the community. 

As always, the Windham Public Library has many events and programs open to all ages. Look at their website at to find activities for the whole family. 

If you haven’t already cut down your tree, the Maine Christmas Tree Association is a non-profit organization composed of family farms that produce real Christmas trees and wreath products for retail, wholesale, mail order or choose-and-cut during the Christmas Season. 

Maine’s forty-eight state parks and historic sites offer year-round recreational opportunities. Winter is a great time of year to walk the beaches, trek the woods and observe signs of wildlife - a tracker’s paradise. Winter Family Fun Days and the Ski & Snowshoe Trailer offer families and outdoor enthusiasts ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. These events will be released on the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s website soon. 

On New Year’s Day, some of America’s state parks offer free, guided First Day Hike Programs. These hikes provide a means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors, exercising and connecting with nature. In Maine, there are four locations where you can enjoy guided hikes on Jan. 1, 2018. Learn more at the Department of Agriculture’s website

With recent weather, it’s hard to deny that winter is here. Prepare your family and home for the season with winter safety tips from Maine Emergency Management Agency, including information on preventing hypothermia and staying safe in the event of a power outage. Learn more at

Please don’t forget to stay safe when snowmobiling and spending time out on the ice. Visit the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website for safety tips and how to determine the thickness of ice.

It is an honor to continue to serve as your state representative. As always, please feel free to send me a letter at 166 Albion Road in Windham, call me at 892-6591 or email anytime at

 I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season.

Rep. Mark Bryant serves in the Maine House and represents part of Windham. He serves on the State and Local Government Committee and the Committee on Transportation.

December 15, 2017

Honoring wounded veterans with Purple Heart Parking

Recently, Town Council member, Jarrod Maxfield, introduced his high school schoolmate, Anthony Webster, a Purple Heart recipient and representative for the Purple Heart Association at a Council Meeting. 

Councilman Cummings with Anthony Webster
Webster briefed the Council on a proposal to make Windham the first Purple Heart Town in the State of Maine. Moving forward, Council member, Rebecca Cummings, herself a veteran and member of the Legion Field-Allen Post 148, noted that the Windham Veterans Center did not have a Purple Heart, Wounded Veterans parking spot. 

Councilman Cummings stepped up and funded two Purple Heart parking spots at the Windham Veterans Center. Cummings noted, “Let’s make the town purple!” Councilman Cummings hopes that the Town and the Community will get involved and provide these spaces to our wounded veterans. If members of the business community are interested in helping to make the Town of Windham Purple, contact Anthony Webster at

American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 honors oldest member

Larry Dehof (front in red shirt) receiving award
At the Third Annual Field-Allen Post 148 awards dinner held Saturday December 6, the Legion recognized Donald Rogers of Windham Center Road with a longevity award for 59 years of continuous service to the Post. 

Rogers stepped up to be Post Commander on several occasions (1965-66, 1968-69, 1972-77, and
1979-80) over his 59 years of service to the Post.

This year the Post established a new recognition award named in honor of Rogers to be presented annually to the Post member who epitomizes service to others. The award, named the “Commander Donald Rogers Service Award”, was presented by Past Commander Rogers to its first recipient, Larry DeHof, during the award dinner ceremonies. 

DeHof, the Post Sgt. at Arms, coordinated the Everlasting Gratitude Wreath program this year as well as being the driving force behind the formation of the Post’s Honor Guard and Rifle Squad.
Other awards and recognitions were presented including the recognition of Longevity Awards for Roger Timmons for 38 years, John Boyden for 38 years, William Johnson for 32 years, Mike Schwartz for 32 years, Maurice Merrill for 28 years, Charlie Cragen for 26 years, Terry Ladd for 24 years, Ed Pagurko for 23 years, Scott Briggs for 22 years, Peter Silvinsky for 22 years, David
Tanguay for 22 years, William Chipman for 21 years, Rod Voisine for 21 years, and Ed Ovington for 21 years. Post also introduced several of its newest members: Ray Berard, Rebecca Cummings, Jerri Donn, Peter James, Craig Pride, David Rendall, Phil Sweetzer, Dan Wirtz and Fredrick D. Williams. 
Other recognitions included the presentation of Meritorious Service Awards to: Richard Small, Henry “Chuck” Whynot, and Larry DeHof for the contribution to Veterans and the community.
The final awards of the evening were presented by Legion Second District Commander, Curtis Merrill, for American  Legion National recognition to Commander Mel Greenier, Service Officer, Chuck Whynot and Walter Braley for membership recruitment for 2017.

Windham Police Association is an example that police care about their community

The Windham Police Association (WPA) held their annual Christmas Shopping Event on Thursday, December 8 to provide gifts for area youth who may not otherwise receive any gifts. The organization provided over $3,000 worth of gifts for youth as well as $500 worth of gift cards for less fortunate senior citizens.  

The WPA works closely with Windham Social Services who distributes all the gifts. Funds from this annual fundraiser are used to provide, not only the gifts, but many other supports for local causes such as: youth sports, DARE, cancer patients, clothing, medical research, support for local families in need and much more.