July 26, 2019

Increasing access to high-speed internet in rural Maine

By Sen. Susan Collins

When Americans first began using the Internet a quarter century ago, they typically accessed online content using home phone lines via modems capable of downloading data at speeds too slow even to support MP3-quality streaming music. Today’s broadband service can be nearly 500 times faster – Americans not only can watch their favorite movies on demand in the comfort of their very own living rooms, but also participate in the global economy while working from home, upgrade their skills through online education, stay connected to their families as they age in place, and access health care through advances in telemedicine.

While the increase in broadband speeds has been dramatic and is encouraging, these numbers mask a disparity between urban and rural Americans. Nearly all Americans living in urban areas have access to the Internet at speeds that meet the Federal Communication Commission’s broadband threshold, while one-in-four rural Americans do not.

In order to help ensure that rural Americans have access to broadband services at speeds they need to fully participate in the benefits of our modern society and economy, I have introduced the bipartisan American Broadband Buildout Act.  This legislation would help close the “digital divide” between urban and rural America by directing the FCC to provide up to $5 billion in matching grants to assist states and state-approved entities in building “last-mile” infrastructure - the final link to the consumer - to bring high-speed broadband directly to homes and businesses in areas that lack it.

One broadband application that holds special promise for rural America is telemedicine. As a native of Aroostook County, I know how important health care is to the vitality, and even the survival, of rural communities. Often, these communities struggle to attract and retain the physicians that they need to ensure access to quality care. Broadband can help bridge the gap by enabling innovative health care delivery in these rural communities.

In an example described to me in a recent letter, hospice workers at Northern Light Homecare, which has six homecare and hospice locations in Maine, were able to use the Internet and video technology to help support a patient living on an island off the coast of Maine – not far as the seagull flies, but hours away in travel time. The video enabled the hospice nurses to monitor the patient’s symptoms and provide emotional support to her family.  As the author of that letter, Lisa Harvey-McPherson, RN, put it: “Our hospice team could be doing so much more with video and tele-monitoring technologies if Maine had better connectivity.”

The American Broadband Buildout Act would require that projects receiving funding must be located in “unserved” areas, where broadband is unavailable at speeds that meet the FCC’s standard.   Narrowing the focus to these areas will ensure that the money goes where it is needed most and will also protect against “over-building” where broadband infrastructure is already in place.

My bill also would require that this federal funding be matched through public-private partnerships between the broadband service provider and the state in which the infrastructure project will be built. This means that state, private sector partners, and the federal government will have a shared commitment, ensuring that projects will be well thought-out and designed to be sustainable.

In addition, funded projects must be designed to be “future proof,” meaning that the infrastructure installed must be capable of delivering higher speeds as broadband accelerates in the future.  This will ensure that federal tax dollars are used to help build a network that serves rural Americans now and in the future, without having to rebuild it every time technology advances.

Finally, the broadband buildout supported by the bill will help attract employers to rural parts of the country where broadband services are lacking yet are essential for businesses’ success.

Rural Americans deserve to enjoy the benefits of high-speed Internet in the same way that urban Americans do. The American Broadband Buildout Act would help to bridge this digital divide by funding broadband where it is needed most and giving a real boost to job creation, education, and health care in rural regions here in Maine and throughout America.

Something for everyone this summer at Windham Public Library

By Craig Bailey

On Tuesday July 23, the Windham Public Library hosted their weekly, summer, STEM program, Lab Coat Adventures, for kids aged two to eight. This week’s activity involved youngsters building rockets which were launched, propelled by air pressure, upwards of 100 feet in the air!

The program, a brainchild of Diana Currier, the library’s Children’s Room Coordinator, results from attending workshops with other librarians. Currier stated, “We wanted a program that would attract kids. Every kid wants to put on a lab coat. Recently we had a ‘Technology Take-Apart’ for which we provided things such as keyboards, external hard drives, and computer motherboards and had the kids take them apart.”

Sam Cote, the Children’s Librarian stated, “We typically have 20 kids attending the program, each Tuesday. We’ve done interesting things such as ‘Filter for Mars’ for which the kids were provided supplies to build a water filter in the event they were to come across water on Mars.”

Cote shared examples of upcoming Lab Coat Adventures activities including, “Building hurricane houses (houses that can withstand the driving wind and water resulting from a hurricane). We’ll again be doing the watermelon explosion this year, in which the kids see how many rubber bands can be placed around a watermelon before it explodes. Last year’s total was 403!”

In addition to the mind-stimulating, kid-focused, Lab Coat Adventures, the library offers many other programs and activities - for all ages. Cote shared, “On Monday we are having a bubble party for families. On Wednesdays we have a reader’s theater, in which participants read from a picture book and then act out the part. Also, on our calendar, are things such as a snow cone party, a visit from a marine biologist, gentle flow yoga and a chess club, to name a few more. We have something for everyone.”

Ray Marcotte, the library’s Reference/Technology Librarian shared more activities and resources that would entice people of all ages to visit the library.

Marcotte emphasized, “We have a summer reading program for adults, with the theme ‘A Universe of Stories’ in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. The program includes visiting authors and topics including: Astronomy 101, how climate change affects the Maine lobster industry, and a discussion sharing stories about wild coincidences, ESP, and other paranormal events.”
Further, Marcotte shared that the library will have a professional-level, high-powered telescope that can be checked out for up to one week, for stargazing from your own home. “All you need is a library card. This is a great teaching tool and fun to use with your children.”

Marcotte stressed that while they have many programs and activities, all of which are outlined on the library’s website, there are many other resources available to those with a library card. This includes: thousands of books (including all the current best sellers), current versions of popular magazines, DVDs and Audiobooks. We also offer downloadable audiobooks and eBooks via the CloudLibrary.

It doesn’t end there, “For those who don’t have computers, we have eight for adults and four for teens, each in their own area along with a printer,” Marcotte said. “The most under-utilized, best kept secret is that we provide card-holders access (in library and remote) to numerous databases to perform research. An example includes Chilton’s Automotive Repair Manuals.”

For those who just acquired, or need help operating, a new smartphone, tablet, laptop or even downloading photos, the library offers Tech help, on a drop-in basis.

Finally, holders of a Windham Public Library Card have access to materials from approximately seventy other libraries (from universities and public libraries) across the state. A key tool to support this is the online catalog search, prominently available on the library’s website. As Marcotte states, “If we don’t have it, we can get it - at no cost.”

To learn more and/or access the vast resources of the Windham Public Library, visit online at www.windham.lib.me.us/, in person at 217 Windham Center Road or call 207-892-1908. There truly is something for everyone at the Windham Public Library.

Evergreen Credit Union raises $11,000 for local food pantries

Local food pantries in Cumberland County will receive over $11,000 raised from Evergreen CU’s 13th annual disc golf event. Over 26 teams participated in this recent event, with Dillion Sheet Metal winning the lowest score.  Evergreen Credit Union is one of Maine’s largest credit unions, with branches in Portland, South Portland, Windham and Naples.

Highland Lake Association receive update on lake’s health

Karen Wilson
By Lorraine Glowczak

At their annual meeting on Thursday, July 28, Highland Lake Association (HLA) members received a water quality update on the lake that borders the towns of Windham, Falmouth and Westbrook. University of Southern Maine Associate Research Professor Karen Wilson, who has studied the lake and the recurring pico cyanobacteria bloom (also referred to as picoplankton bloom) with student scientists for the past couple of years, was the first expert to speak. “We’ve scienced the heck out of this lake,” she stated to the room of approximately 75 attendees.

She spoke about the various volunteer efforts and collaboration among community members and residents which have made it possible to leverage the funds needed to study the purpose and possible causes of the bloom. “I can’t believe the kind of engagement of the Highland Lake Association in trying to find out and rectify the problem,” Wilson stated. “Together, we have collected a lot of data to determine phosphorus levels and water quality issues.”

The past few years, the lake has seen a rise in the picoplankton bloom, with a distinctive pattern of reaching a peak in the bloom during the months of July and August. But ironically, the bloom did not occur this year. Wilson stated a few possibilities as to why it is not present. “The weather this spring was different than in the past,” she began. “It was colder and wetter, causing the bottom of the lake to remain warm which means less dissolved oxygen for the alewives. This can make a difference in what is happening with the lake.”

http://www.theroofdoc.com/Wilson went on to explain that phosphorus is a major contributing factor to the health of Highland Lake and finding ways to eliminate its presence in the lake is of the utmost importance and efforts in its prevention must continue.

Wendy Garland of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection, who has been working in collaboration with the HLA and their watershed management plan, along with Heather Huntt from Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District, gave a brief preview of the watershed survey findings that occurred last spring. They also provided information on prevention techniques, tools and strategies to avert phosphorus from entering the lake.

“Now that we have identified the biggest culprits, we are working to fix those things that make the biggest impact,” Garland stated. “Private Roads are the major influence on phosphorus buildup, but that is no surprise,” Garland stated. “Soil erosion is also a major fact. Septic tanks play a role as well but is not of the greatest concern, although it is an issue.”

Huntt offered solutions on the above culprits that include educating HLA residents on private roads about the importance of maintenance plans. “If there is no maintenance plan in place, it can be more costly in the long run,” she stated.

Huntt also stated that education, outreach and workshops will be offered to provide awareness surrounding septic care and upkeep and soil erosion prevention. “We hope to prevent new problems through local ordinances and outreach to residents.”

Garland ended the presentation piece of the meeting by stating that it is their goal to have a finalized management plan completed by the end of next year.

July 19, 2019

Windham five-year-old took a celebratory home run lap around the bases of Hadlock Field

Griffin Cochrane running basis
The Maine Children’s Cancer Program, the Portland Sea Dogs, and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine honored Griffin Cochrane of Windham, a five-year-old boy who is making progress in his recovery from leukemia at Hadlock Field in Portland with a triumphant home run lap around the bases while the players give him high-fives and the crowd cheered him on. The ceremony occurred just prior to the Portland Sea Dogs’ 7 p.m. game at Hadlock Field on Friday, July 12, after the national anthem.

According to a recent press release, Griffin’s parents shared the following information:
“On June 25, 2017, our world came crashing down around us as our worst fear became our reality. Our oldest son, Griffin, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of three years old. From that day, we knew Griffin would have the fight of his life ahead of him.

Griffin spent the first month of treatment at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital undergoing surgical placement of his Mediport, bone marrow aspirations, lumbar punctures and chemotherapy.
There, we met Griffin’s oncologists, social workers and nurses from Maine Children’s Cancer Program, who would be providing world class care to save our son’s life.

http://www.hallimplementco.com/From the day Griffin was diagnosed, the oncologists, social workers, nurses and staff at Maine Children’s Cancer Program went above and beyond to not only provide Griffin with lifesaving treatment, but to provide support for our entire family. He is still on active treatment today for Leukemia and will be until the fall of 2020.

With the incredible support of Maine Children’s Cancer Program, along with support from our families and friends, we are ecstatic to say that Griffin is thriving. He is an active five-year-old who attends preschool and loves to play outside with his younger brother, Sawyer.

He plays soccer, basketball, t-ball and wants to be a hockey player when he grows up. He is thoughtful, kind and sincere beyond his years. We are so proud of him and all that he has overcome. He is truly incredible!”

In tribute to Griffin’s courage and strength, he was honored at the first of four Anthem’s Heroes at last Saturdays Sea Dogs’ game.

A report from the Town of Windham Assessor’s Office

It is the responsibility of the Assessing Office to maintain assessed values according to just value or market value. Continued increases in the real estate market are indicating that this office again needs to make value adjustments.  The Maine Constitution states that “all taxes upon real and personal estate, assessed by authority of this State, shall be apportioned and assessed equally according to the just value thereof.”  In order to apportion the tax burden equally, the Assessor must establish assessed valuations at just value. Just value is synonymous with market value. 

  1. The Windham real estate market has continued to grow, and recent sale prices are quickly outpacing last year’s town-wide valuation update. Sales studies now show that residential assessments average around 88% of sales prices and prices continue to ascend. Had Windham not conducted an update last year we would likely be in the 75% range this year. There have been very few commercial sales and therefore no adjustments to commercial assessments are needed at this time. 
  2. The school, town and county budgets have already been set. An update will NOT raise more revenue for the Town. The purpose is to value all properties by the same standard and equalize the tax burden.
  3. Significant changes are not expected in most tax bills as the majority of the update will be proportionate to one another. This means that most property valuations will be raised by a similar amount and thus experience a tax bill increase similar to what they would have even without the update. Exceptions include cases where a homeowner has made property improvements or are undervalued relative to everyone else.
  4. Benefits to this action include:
http://www.mooselandingmarina.com/·       The projected mil rate will likely be reduced;
·       Properties that were undervalued relative to others will be brought up to pay their fair share;
·       We will avoid reducing the amounts for Homestead, Veteran and Blind exemptions;
·       Smaller updates like this insulate property owners from sudden jumps in valuation;
·       Frequent updates avoid costly one-time revaluations;
·       The update can be prepared without significant expense because our field inspection work is current.

Work on this project will begin immediately in order to meet the August 13, 2019 commitment date deadline.

Tax Relief: The following exemptions and current use programs are available to those who qualify. Applications and more information can be obtained either through the Assessing Office or by contacting Maine Revenue Services, Property Tax Division at 287-2013.

·       Veterans Exemption - A person must be a Maine resident, 62 years or older and have served in the U.S. Armed Forces during a Federally Recognized War Period or; be receiving 100% disability compensation for service-connected injury. $6,000 exemption.
·       Homestead Exemption - A person must be a Maine resident and have owned and resided in the property they consider their homestead and legal residence for at least 12 months prior to date of application. Forms must be filed with the Assessing Office by April 1.  Forms filed after April 1 of any year will apply to the subsequent year’s tax assessment. $20,000 exemption.
https://www.orangecircuitfitness.com/·       Blind Exemption - A person determined to be legally blind.
     $4,000 exemption.
·       Senior Property Tax Assistance – Information is available through the Town Manager’s Office or by visiting:  http://windhammaine.us/616/Senior-Property-Tax-Assistance

Current Use Programs: In the 1970's, the Constitutional Law added a current use clause which allowed special treatment for certain property use if several criteria are met.

·       Tree Growth - A parcel of land with at least 10 contiguous forested acres which are harvested for commercial purposes.
·       Farmland - Property must have a minimum of 5 contiguous acres and be used for agricultural purposes with contributing income.
·       Open Space - No minimum acreage but parcel must be undeveloped and provide a public benefit.

For more information please visit our website http://www.windhammaine.us/156/Assessor or contact the Windham Assessor’s Office at (207) 894-5960 ext. 3.

Council moves forward on the search for Windham Town Manager

By Lorraine Glowczak

Although the meet and greet the town hosted on Friday, June 21 to introduce the top Town Manager candidate, John Mauro, to Windham residents was a successful one, the Council will have to start the search for a Town Manager once again since Mauro was offered and accepted the position of Town Manager for Port Townsend, WA.

In a special Town Council meeting held on Tuesday, July 16, the Council opted to move forward and start the search process immediately.

Below is an updated Windham Town Manager search timeline. Please note that this timeline is tentative, and dates may have to be adjusted or changed.                                                           

July 17 Wednesday        
·       Ad placed  

August 14 Wednesday
·       Deadline for applicants

August 16 Friday
·       Notebooks with selected resumes of applicants delivered to Council. A notebook with all the resumes available.

August 20 Tuesday
·       Council meets to review applicant’s resumes and decides on which candidates to interview (no more then 8).

August 26-30
·       First round of interviews. Most likely two days needed. Decide on (2) candidates for second round of interviews. Complete background checks performed on finalists before next round.

September 9-12
·       Community gathering to meet finalists.
·       Dept. Heads interview finalist.
·       Council interviews finalist & selects new manager.

September 16-
·       Negotiations with final candidate and starting date announced

For more information, contact the Town Manager’s office at 207-892-1907.

Seeking classroom grandparents

The Opportunity Alliance is calling on community members to contribute their skills and experiences to support the youngest generation as a classroom volunteer in the Foster Grandparent Program.   Classroom grandparents are role models, mentors, and friends to children in schools and child development centers, supporting school readiness and academic achievement.

Openings are available for adults age 55 and over, living in Cumberland, York and Oxford counties, willing to commit to a regular schedule during the school year and are interested in helping children thrive.

Volunteers who meet generous income guidelines receive a stipend of approximately $200. a month, travel reimbursement, meals, ongoing training and most importantly, are guaranteed to laugh and smile every day!  As one volunteer said, “The benefits to me include joy in seeing a positive change in a child. One little girl struggles to read, but with positive encouragement and praise she now wants to read with me and asks for her turn daily.”

Studies prove Americans who volunteer better health and increased friendships.  To learn more about volunteering and the next training program, call the Foster Grandparent Program at 207-773-0202 or toll-free at 1-800-698-4959.

Seventh annual “Lobstah Bake” to be held at Faith Lutheran Church held on August 4

Members of the Faith Lutheran Church, 988 Roosevelt Trail, North Windham, are elated to announce that their seventh annual fundraising “Lobstah Bake” will be held on Sunday, August 4 with two different seatings available at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

The meal includes one lobster, ½ pound of steamers, corn on the cob, potatoes, coleslaw, blueberry cobbler, and lemonade. Tickets are $20. The same meal with two lobsters is $25. A hotdog or a hamburger meal, with the same side options, is also available for $10. Single lobsters may be available at market rate.

“This fundraiser is really an event for the whole Windham community - not just the members of our church,” stated Jane Field, Pastor of Faith Lutheran. “It's a chance for old friends to reconnect and for new friendships to form as people gather under the tents to enjoy delicious lobster. Everyone in our congregation gets involved in putting this on, and you can really see the incredible spirit of hospitality and welcome that is at the very heart of their faith. The money we raise goes to support the work of the church with a portion of the proceeds going to Windham Neighbors helping Neighbors. 
“The sign out in front of our church says, ‘All Are Welcome,’ and that's true every Sunday - but it's especially true on Sunday, August 4 when all are truly welcome to join us in enjoying great lobster and supporting a good cause." 

To place your order for “Lobstah Bake” tickets or for lobsters to take home, contact Melinda Zimmer-Rankin before July 31 at 207-749-9503.

Rep. Corey’s bill to allow spouses to provide home and community-based services is now law!

It will improve the quality of life and care for families, lower costs, and address the shortage of workers

WINDHAM – Rep. Patrick Corey (R-Windham) announced his legislation, LD 84, Resolve, Directing the Department of Health and Human Services To Allow Spouses To Provide Home and Community-based Services to Eligible MaineCare Members has been signed into law by Governor Janet Mills. The new law directs the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to request a federal waiver allowing spouses employed as personal support specialists to provide services to their spouse.

For Rep. Corey, this was his second attempt to pass legislation in response to the plight of constituents, John and Linda Gregoire of Windham. John has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and requires round the clock care from his wife Linda.

"John and Linda Gregoire really opened my eyes to the hardships that a spouse with a debilitating disease can place on a family,” said Rep. Corey (R-Windham). "While getting spouses paid for caregiving through Medicaid seemed pretty straight forward, it took two attempts, strong advocacy from many interests, and some really creative thought regarding who will employ this new workforce to keep the costs down. LD 84 brings us one step closer to allowing spouses to be paid for caregiving activities.”

https://www.theplayhousekids.com/"Linda slowed down her work schedule more and more, since I was diagnosed with ALS in 2007," said John Gregoire. "Today, she's only able to work away from home one day a week. The reality is however, with my need for 24/7 care, she's working more hours when we don't have outside help."

Allowing spouses to be paid through MaineCare fills a significant need in the home care workforce while providing financial benefit to the state. Avoiding the cost of nursing home care for one-year equals paying for three years of personal support specialist services.

According to the Maine Wire, “the average annual cost of a private room in an assisted living facility or nursing home is $59,892 and $108,405, respectively, in Maine. Under the current reimbursement rate for services under Section 19, if an individual required 40 hours of care per week, the state would spend less than $38,500 to reimburse for these services.”

Additional Benefits:
http://www.theroofdoc.com/Low wages and the demands of direct care jobs both contribute to a shortage of direct care workers in Maine. Spouses were often filling these lapses in care, making it difficult for them to retain gainful employment.

Patients in this program already qualify for expensive long-term care. Keeping nursing home eligible people at home saves the state money.

Families will be able to stay together. Previously, anyone could be paid to provide care except a  spouse. In some cases, it resulted in the dissolution of marriages.

July 12, 2019

Windham Town Council discusses the Retail Adult Use and Medical Marijuana Task Force

By Lorraine Glowczak

The agenda item of the Windham Town Council meeting held on Tuesday, July 9th that brought the crowds into the Town Council Chamber was: “To discuss and act on the continuation of the Retail Adult-Use and Medical Task Force”.

The discussion began with Interim Town Manager, Don Gerrish, giving a historical background of the issue at hand. He explained that the council had a workshop on June 25th with the town attorney and at the workshop the council made a tentative decision on marijuana options in Windham. Due to that meeting and based upon the outcome, Gerrish explained that he cancelled the Taskforce meeting, admitting that he made an assumption without the direction of the Council.

The floor was then open for public comment with Maggie Terry, co-owner of Legal Leaf the first to speak.

She expressed that she felt the task force was not being heard by town leadership and believed, as a chair of that task force, she had not received any guidance from the council. Terry also mentioned that she had heard there were some complaints about the cannabis industry and when she asked what those complaints were so they could be addressed, she received no response. Terry reiterated, “the owners of the cannabis industry are hardworking and family oriented and Windham can benefit from this business. The cannabis community wants to work together for the best of all involved.”
She presented more than 200 signatures for all legal use marijuana options.

Joanne Mattiace, also of Legal Leaf, spoke to the council about her concern regarding the town attorney’s work with a cannabis company. “The law firm that represents the town and advises the council simultaneously advises a cannabis company,” she said. “It’s critical that we consider if this is a conflict of interest. Any advice by the legal council [at the above-mentioned meeting] may have been bias.”

Mattiace asked the council the following questions:

When did the law firm’s representation begin? Which client did it serve first?
Was the duo representation made known to the town?
Who advised on this matter?
What is the specific billing arrangement with the law firm?

Response from Council:

Councilwoman Donna Chapman reiterated that the Council did not know about the cancellation of the task force meeting and intends to make sure that everything will get back on track. She suggested that with signatures it be put on the ballot for public vote in November. In regard to the Town Attorney, if there is a problem it will be looked into. “The only thing we are saying ‘No’ to right now is adult use grow stores. We try to listen to both sides of the voters.”

Councilmen Jarrod Maxfield stated that he does believe the task force should continue and concurred with Chapman that if there is a problem with the law firm and a potential conflict of interest, research in the matter should occur.

Councilwomen Rebecca Cummings admitted that she was torn about continuing the task force because, “Since we voted ‘no” for adult use – I do not want to have the task force members leave their families every week to meet on the committee. But at the same time, perhaps a compromise could be made.”

For more details about the meeting and to hear opinions from members of the task force, the minutes and video can be found at: www.windhammaine.us/

Board of Selectmen request volunteers for RSU14 withdrawal subcommittees and encourage “One Raymond” concept

By Lorraine Glowczak

The Raymond Board of Selectmen held a meeting on Tuesday, July 9 from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. before entering into executive session for an annual review of the town manager.

The evening’s agenda included an approval of the Gore Road Agreement with the Town of Gray as well as an update on the RSU14 withdrawal process.

Briefly, the first segment of Gore Road starting at the intersection at Webbs Mills Road in Raymond is a publicly accepted town way. As one travels toward Little Sebago Lake, the road becomes a private road, for approximately ¼ of a mile -and then at the Raymond/Gray town line becomes a public roadway again in the Town of Gray.

The Town of Raymond currently plows and maintains the public way portion of Gore Road located in Raymond but does not maintain the private portion of the road. The issue is that this section of the road, which is used by both Raymond and Gray residents, is filled with potholes, causing damage to both public and private vehicles. Since the private road is a major connecting point between the two towns it has become nearly impassable, causing damage to both private and public vehicles – not to mention the lack of safety from a patient care standpoint.

The road’s condition is beyond capacity of the private landowners to improve. Additionally, what makes this private road unique is that it is a thoroughfare, and not a dead end as is the case for most private roads.

Through many discussions between the two towns, public works directors and municipal attorneys, Raymond Town Manager Don Willard has described the proposed resolution as a “creative solution to a unique situation. It is a win-win for both towns.”

A resolution has been developed and written between the two towns in which there is a quid pro quo exchange of services. The resolution is both cost effective and financially neutral. Presently, the Town of Gray has a contract with a private plowing company, and thus, the plowing agreement will begin in 2021. The Raymond Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to have Willard sign the agreement.

An update on the RSU14 withdrawal process was discussed by Chair, Rolf Olsen. He stated that working on the separation agreement and that subcommittee work is in the beginning stages. The Budget Committee, which is working on the outline of the Raymond school budget, needs more volunteers.

“We would prefer that someone who has a stake in the school system, and a member from the community be involved,” stated Selectmen Marshall Bullock who is also the Chair of the Withdrawal Budget Committee for the RSU14. “We now have a Select person, and a member of the Raymond Budget Finance committee on board. We would prefer that the persons are willing to assist in the development and see all facts before forming their opinion.”

The committee will first look at the cost of physical assets (computer technology and facilities maintenance) with the student services portion of the budget as a second part of the process (superintendent, nurse, guidance counselor).

Another subcommittee will consider resurrecting the “One Raymond” concept. The intention of this approach is to explore all assets available within the town without duplicating services for both the town and Raymond schools’ needs. An idea borrowed from the Town of Cape Elizabeth, the purpose is to improve efficiency by sharing assets, personnel and functions between town and school to minimize property tax impacts.

The next RSU14 withdrawal meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 10.  That meeting will have both a public side and possibly an executive session depending on where things are with the withdrawal agreement.

For more information, contact the Raymond Town office at 207-655-4742, or to watch the full meeting: www.raymondmaine.org/video-archives

July 7, 2019

Sen. Diamond welcomes Senate page from Windham to State House

AUGUSTA — Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, welcomed Windham Middle School student Riley Marquardt to serve as an honorary page in the Maine Senate. Riley and her grandmother took the picture below with Sen. Diamond in the Senate Chamber.

The program gives students a unique chance to participate in and observe the State’s legislative process. As honorary pages, students deliver messages, distribute documents within the Senate Chamber, interact with senators and take part in a real world, legislative learning experience.

To learn more about the honorary page program, please contact Sen. Diamond’s office at (207) 287-1515.

Collins joins bipartisan group in launching new effort to combat plastic marine debris

Save Our Seas 2.0 Act addresses plastic debris polluting our oceans, harming marine life, and washing up on American shores

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) joined Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in launching a new effort to combat marine debris. 
The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act seeks to tackle the problem of plastic waste on a global scale by spurring innovation and finding uses for the plastic waste that already exists to keep it from entering the oceans.  The legislation builds on the initial progress made by the Save Our Seas Act, which was signed into law last fall. 

Image from:
“Countless jobs in Maine and in coastal communities throughout our country rely on the health of the ocean.  The Maine lobster, aquaculture, and tourism industries are among the many critical sectors of our economy that are dependent on Maine’s pristine waters,” said Senator Susan Collins.  “To protect our ocean and the sea life that inhabits it, our bipartisan bill will help accelerate the removal of plastic waste and prevent future marine debris, protecting this vital resource for generations to come.”

Roughly eight million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste from land enters the oceans each year.  Ninety percent of this plastic enters the oceans from ten rivers, eight of which are in Asia.  The plastic breaks down into tiny pieces that can enter the marine food chain and harm fish and wildlife and wash ashore on even the most isolated stretches of coastline.  Plastic has been found in areas as remote as the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point in the ocean.

The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act is also cosponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Tom Carper (D-DE), Rob Portman (R-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Chris Murphy (D-CT). 

A bipartisan, balanced budget

By Sen. Bill Diamond

A quick note before we get to this month’s column on the biennial budget: Many of you probably saw that last week, Maine Superior Court Justice William Stokes sentenced Shawna Gatto, who killed her fiancĂ©’s 4-year-old granddaughter Kendall Chick, to 50 years in prison. Files released by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) show that after they placed Kendall in Gatto’s care, they only followed up twice, violating their own protocols, and they closed her case ten months before she died. It’s clear that we in the Legislature must push for an honest, vigorous examination of the state’s child protection system and real reform. That’s exactly what I intend to do. – Sen. Bill Diamond

Two weeks ago, after an all-night session, the Legislature officially adjourned for the year. We tackled a lot of big topics this year, and at times things did get contentious, but at the end of the day we found a lot of common ground on which to move forward.

One of the biggest lifts of the session was passing a budget to fund the state government for the next two years. I’m proud to report that the budget that was passed was supported by both parties, stays within projected revenue without raising taxes, and funds important programs including property tax relief, child protection and more.

I want to commend my colleagues on the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, who were tasked with writing this budget. This year, there was an unprecedented level of bipartisan agreement on the committee: Of the 1,154 lines of the budget, all but seven were supported by every single Republican and Democrat on the committee. That is testament to the hard work and collegial attitude of those who served on the committee.

I believe that Mainers pay enough in taxes, and I was pleased to learn that the budget doesn’t raise the income or sales tax. In fact, the budget is balanced, as the Maine Constitution requires it to be, and it sets aside $18 million for the future in the state’s “Rainy Day Fund.”

The budget also lowers property taxes. I know too many seniors on fixed incomes and businesses and working families who are just trying to make enough to get by, for whom property taxes are a huge problem. The new budget provides $75 million in property tax relief for families, seniors and small businesses by expanding the Property Tax Fairness Credit to include roughly 13,000 additional people. Through this program, eligible Maine seniors can save up to $1,250 in property taxes and eligible working Mainers and families can save up to $800 on their property taxes. The budget also increases the Homestead Exemption, which helps folks save on their property taxes.

The budget funds other good programs too, including additional positions at the state’s Computer Crimes Unit, which investigates child pornography cases and has unfortunately been struggling with a backlog for many years. It also provides funding for 62 additional child protection workers; while it’s not a silver bullet, this is still a good and needed step toward addressing the shortcomings in our child protection system.

For these reasons, I was proud to support this budget.

As always, please feel free to contact me or my office with any questions, comments or concerns. You can call (207)287-1515 or email me at diamondhollyd@aol.com. It’s a pleasure to serve you.

Tenth annual food drive a success

Field-Allen Post 148 in collaboration with the Joint Military Cadet of America (A co.1st BN 3rd ACTB)  Windham High School, held its 10th Annual Food Drive at Walmart North Windham in support of the Town of Windham Food Pantry Summer Youth program. The Cadets and Post members filled an M-37 Dodge Military Vehicle with food products and received $1500 in cash donations for the cause.  Above: L-R 1st SG Dan Wirtz. C/PVT Cataldi, C/PVT Currier, Post Adjutant David Tanguay, Collette Gagne (receiving $1500 check), C/CPL Carpenter, C/PV2 Hemond and C/PV2 Allen. The  Cadets were a significant help to this year’s Food Drive.

Relaunching of the Lakes Region Writers' Guild

By Lorraine Glowczak

For most aspiring and published writers, a monthly writing group is the motivation needed to keep the creative juices flowing. Whether it’s to hold one accountable for a completed project, the need for constructive feedback or simply, the want of social connection in a solitary career, a writer’s group provides the impetus to keep moving forward.

For theses reason and through the efforts of Mary-Therese Duffy and the Raymond Arts Alliance, the
Members of the new Lakes Region Writers' Guild
Lakes Region Writer’s Guild has been ignited and met for the first time on Tuesday, June 25 at 2 p.m. at the Raymond Village Library. “
We were quite the dynamic and lively group,” stated Duffy. “Ten of us were in attendance with all having varied approaches to writing, as well as our stages with it. Some people have been published, others coming back to it after some time, while others are just beginning. Many are in at least one writer’s group already, some several; and many having taught writing for quite some time.”

The Lakes Region Writer’s Guild (LRWG) began in 2000 with founding members Elaine Griffin, Deb Smith and Alan Lapidus. Griffin, who initiated the group gathering, was an accomplished writer and known by many as a beautiful and special person. “She was uncannily perceptive and had as wide and generous a heart as she did a sharp and wonderful wit,” Duffy said. The LRWG folded in 2014 due to Griffin’s progressive dementia. She passed away on March 4, 2016.

Griffin’s unique and endearing perspectives on life are two of the many reasons for the success of the original LRWG and Duffy, who was a part of that group, hopes to continue in a fashion that would honor Griffin and her success. In fact, Duffy stated that last Tuesday’s first group gathering was very much like the original group. “The exception is that we only provided written critiques when the reader requested it; and we never sent our topics to each other ahead of time,” she stated. “We just arrived and started out of the gate. Also, we never did a group writing, but this is an interest of the majority of members.”

Although it may take a while to get the final rhythm in place, last week’s newly established LRWG have determined to meet once a month with a relaxed structure. “If one would like to read and have critique, they are to contact me ahead of time to be put on the agenda as well as to provide copies of what they are reading to the group at the meeting,” explained Duffy. “If someone would like to read and there is time, we will allow the time for that regardless of prior notification or available copies. If one of us has a question, concern or a topic they would like to discuss in the group, that would also need to go on the agenda ahead of time. If there is time, space and inclination, we may take a few minutes for basic stream of consciousness writing within the group time; this may be to ground and center or process the conversations we have just had and mine the individual inspiration within it.”

Duffy also stated that since LRWG is a group with attentive focus given to each writer/reader, it is requested that only one person speak at a time, with no side conversations. She admitted, however, that respectfully listening is extremely hard to master since a writer’s group, such as this, is so exciting and inspiring.

Whatever the author’s purpose to participate in the LRWG, goals can be met. During their time with the original LRWG, both Griffin and Lapidus successfully published books. Griffin is the author of “Bitter Sweets”, a story that captured a friendship she had with a couple she’d known during her advertising career. Lapidus (who is part of the relaunched LRWG) published “Everything by Design: My life as an Architect”, which includes his accounts of designing hotels and casinos for Donald Trump.

Whatever an individual’s goal in joining a writer’s group, Duffy puts it best: Our commonality is seeking the kind of anchoring, support, motivation, and accountability a good group can generate and we certainly demonstrated that the newly re-launched LRWG has the experience, strengths and insights to provide each of these.”

As of this writing, 16 people have indicated an interest in the newly relaunched LWRG. Duffy said it is possible she might have to start a waiting list. To see if there is space available or for more information, contact Mary-Therese Duffy at 207-712-6200 or mtherese@maine.rr.com.

The next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, July 30 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Raymond Village Library.