January 31, 2020

AARP Maine offers free webinar this Wednesday, Feb. 5th, for small businesses to learn how they can improve retirement security for working Mainers

Not only does Maine have the oldest median age in the U.S., but about half of the state’s workers are not saving regularly for retirement.

Now, a bill before the State Legislature would implement a new system to make it easier for the self-employed and people who work for private employers with no retirement savings program to save money for age 65 and beyond.

The average working household in Maine currently has just $2,500 in retirement savings. 235,000 Mainers, or 46 percent of workers age 18 to 64, have no access to a retirement savings program through an employer, according to AARP.

"For these workers, each passing second means less time to establish and nurture the savings that they need for a secure future," says AARP Maine State Director, Lori Parham.

Parham, along with a large contingent of AARP Maine volunteers and advocates, recently participated in a news conference at the State House to press for LD 594, “An Act To Promote Individual Savings Accounts through a Public-Private Partnership.”

If you are a small business owner and you would like to learn more about how LD 594 can help your employees save for retirement, please join AARP Maine on Wednesday, February 5th at noon for a policy briefing. You’ll learn how to improve retirement security for Mainers and what that means for small business owners like you. This webinar briefing offers a chance for individuals to learn more about LD 594 and the opportunity to share your perspective. Parham will host the event, and you can register for the webinar here.

LD 594 would make it easy for Maine businesses to offer their employees a way to save for retirement through payroll deduction.  Enrollment would be automatic unless an employee opted out.
"People tend to do things that are easy to do. This is an effort to try and make this as easy as we can," said the bill’s sponsor, State Senate Assistant Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc).

A recent AARP survey of registered Maine voters showed wide support for a public-private managed state retirement savings option. A high percentage (86%) agree that elected officials should support legislation that would make it easier for small businesses to offer employees a way to save for retirement. The vast majority (84%) of respondents with no current access to an employer savings plan said it was likely they would take advantage of an employer- offered savings plan.

Mark Iwry, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute who previously worked for the U.S. Treasury Department, spoke at the State House news conference.  He said that while nationally 75 percent of U.S. employees enroll in retirement savings programs when they are offered, the rate exceeds 90 percent when enrollment is automatic.

Iwry, Vitelli, and other bill proponents say this kind of “work and save” fund would be portable when someone changed jobs: the employee owns it.

Maine State Treasurer, Henry Beck, who supports the legislation, says increasing seniors’ retirement funds would save the state money down the road. “They can rely on their savings as opposed to state assistance,” Beck said.

A report released by the University of Maine showed a cost to Maine taxpayers of close to 3.3 million if we see no change in saving for retirement by 2030.

For more information about LD 594, visit www.aarp.org/me or send an email to me@aarp.org.

Rep. Corey receives AARP Maine Bi-Partisan Capitol Caregivers Award

New law sponsored by Rep. Corey will help spouses remain in their homes 

Representative Patrick Corey (R-Windham) has received the AARP Maine Capitol Caregivers Award. He joins a bipartisan group of elected officials from 30 states, including Maine, advancing policies to bring more help to family caregivers. Rep. Corey was presented with a “Capitol Caregiver” certificate in recognition of his efforts on January 21, 2020.

Rep. Patrick Corey
Rep. Corey sponsored successful legislation to support family caregivers. 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" will help spouses remain in their homes.

According to a recent AARP press release: “This new law will help many of the more than 181,000 family caregivers in Maine who help their spouses to remain in their homes and communities,” said Lori Parham, AARP Maine State Director. “AARP Maine applauds Rep. Corey’s efforts on behalf of Maine’s family caregivers and their loved ones.”

“The need for this legislation was brought to my attention by two of my constituents, John and Linda Gregoire of Windham,” said Rep. Corey. “Their plight is similar to other family caregivers across Maine. They collectively provide unpaid care at approximately $2.2 billion annually. The new law will help make the difficult responsibility of caregiving for a spouse a little easier.”

The plight of John and Linda Gregoire of Windham has been well documented in the Maine news media. John has ALS, requiring 24-hour care from his wife, Linda. Rep. Corey’s succeeded in passing the legislation on his second attempt.

Rep. Corey, a self-employed creative director and marketer, is serving his third term representing District 25: Windham (part). He previously served on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization and Implementation. He is now a member of the Maine Marijuana Advisory Commission.

The Sebago Lake and Cumberland County Ice Fishing Derby announces date and changes for 2020

The annual Sebago Lake and Cumberland County Ice Fishing Derby will be held on Saturday, February 22 and Sunday February 23, 2020. There are 26 lakes and ponds that qualify for the derby which can be found on their website: www.icefishingderby.com

There are several changes that will take place this year, including no slot limits, with the only limit of
one Togue, 26 inches and over. Also, the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W) have asked that the derby allow more togue and pike entries to be removed from Sebago Lake to help with their management efforts. Please refer to the IF&W website for complete ice fishing rules, www.maine.gov/ifw.

Plus, for 2020 there will be MORE CASH PRIZES, an incentive to entering more togue and pike and to reduce the catch and released numbers. There will no longer be the $100,000 prize for the State Record Togue but replaced with $5000 in cash prizes. Cash will be added to the top three winning fish in the Togue and Pike categories. This change is a result of the feedback the derby has received over the years for request of cash prizes. It will also include every togue and pike entry to be put into a drawing with 25 lucky fishermen chosen for $100 each just for entering their fish.

The derby will continue to offer prizes for the perch and pickerel species as they have in the past and all registrants will also be entered for the grand prize - a Coleman by Hisun 500 All-Terrain Vehicle.
All the fish collected will be processed again this year through Nova Seafood in Portland, who will filet and fast freeze the fish and will be delivered to the Preble Street Food Pantry and served as delicious chowder.

Early registration is now open with early entries through February 1 being put into a drawing for Kittery Trading Post gift cards. Go to  www.icefishingderby.com for more information and to register online. Registrations can also take place at Sebago Bait Shop and Jordan’s Store or registration entries can be picked up at Windham Power Sports and Patman’s for mail in. Check the Sebago Lake Ice Fishing Derby Facebook page for updates.

Windham Town Council passes CDBG grant proposals

By Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Town Council met on Tuesday, January 28 at the Windham Town Council Chamber Rooms at 6:30 p.m. At that meeting, the Council authorized the use of the Community Development Block Grant Programs that will be used for two projects: Anglers Road Streetscape Project and Port Resources Windham Group Home Renovations.

Briefly, according to the Housing Urban Development website, “The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.”

Tom Bartell, Director of the Windham Economic Development Corporation explained that the CDBD proposals are limited to two applications and must be supported and endorsed by the town as the standards are set by the grant.

The grant proposals were presented at the Council workshop held on Tuesday, January 21. The presentations for both projects were made by Stu Simon of Port Resource and Bartell of WEDC.
At that meeting Bartell proposed the Anglers Road Streetscape Project which includes the following: to install a bus shelter, benches, solar powered sidewalk/pedestrian scale lighting on the 800-foot public portion of Anglers Road. It will serve as a pilot project for Windham’s sustainability efforts by designing, installing and monitoring the performance of solar powered pedestrian scale lighting.
As for Port Resources, the company manages two group homes in Windham, and it includes eight adults with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges.  Each home has a variety of needs relating to energy efficiency, aging home equipment and infrastructure issues. Through the CDBG Construction Grant, Simon proposed to use the grant for the following projects at the following locations:

109 Forbes Lane Group Home:
Replace living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom and common area flooring
Interior painting
Replacing kitchen cabinets
Install a heat pump

15 Billabong Way Group Home
Exterior and Interior Painting
Rot Repair
Basement air exchanger

Replace toilets, range hood, kitchen countertop, tub shower control, heat pump
The Council ended its meeting to go into executive session. To learn more about other issues discussed at this Council meeting or previous meetings and workshops, go to the town website at www.windhammaine.us/ where one can find the minutes and recorded video version of the meetings. All meetings are televised live on the local cable channel as well as on Facebook live.

January 23, 2020

Sen. Diamond shares MDOT work plan for state bridge and road projects

Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, is pleased to announce the details of Maine’s three-year transportation infrastructure work plan, and what it means for the Sebago Lake region. The plan is released annually with an outline of the Maine Department of Transportation’s strategy for road, bridge and other transportation upgrades and maintenance projects.

“As chair of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, I appreciate the amount of work that is required to maintain our roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure,” said Sen. Diamond. “These projects will make traveling in the Sebago Lake region safer and easier for everyone.”

According to the MDOT, the work plan covers approximately $2.59 billion worth of construction and maintenance, which includes 2,051 work items. The three-year plan estimates MDOT will invest in 171 miles of highway construction and rehabilitation; 858 miles of pavement preservation; 1,800 miles of light capital paving for roads and highways; 170 safety and spot improvements; and 148 bridge projects.

The following breakdown is the planned capital and maintenance work for some communities in Senate District 26 in 2020:

On-road sidewalk/trail construction on Tandberg Trail in Windham, beginning at Basin Road and extending to Route 302.

Bridge Rehabilitation
Bridge repair on Great Falls #1 Bridge (#6210), which carries Windham Center Road over the Presumpscot River in Windham.

Replace one joint and repair the other, apply silact treatment to wearing surface and repair abutment on Narrows Bridge (#2998) over Ditch Brook, located 260 feet west of Running Brook Road in Windham.

Drainage Improvements/Maintenance
Ditching under guardrail on Route 302 in Windham starting 0.1 miles west of Bailey Drive extending to Johnson Road 1.7 miles west to the Route 302 and 202 Rotary, at Red Hawk Lane extending 1.21 miles west to the Raymond - Windham town line.

Highway Safety and Spot Improvements
Installation of traffic signal at the intersection of Route 202 and Falmouth Road in Windham.

Large Culvert Improvements
Improvements to a large culvert (#46309) located 0.1 miles north of Bramble Hill Road in Casco.
The entire MDOT three-year work plan can be viewed at: www.maine.gov/mdot/projects/workplan/

Singers needed for the Lake Region Community Chorus

All singers are welcome to join the Lake Region Community Chorus (LRCC) as they begin their eighth year of singing and performing in the Sebago Lakes Region. If you love to sing and are free on Monday evenings the members of the LRCC would love to have you join them. The group has about 55 members from Bridgton and fourteen surrounding towns including Windham and Raymond. The spring session starts on January 27, 2020 but registration will also be held on February 3, 2020 in the Twitchell Chapel at the Bridgton Academy in North Bridgton.

Jan Jukkola and Susan Stockwell will be conducting the spring session and will be assisted by
accompanists Carolyn Stanhope and Sara-Sue Schreiber.

The LRCC welcomes members from all voice parts; Sopranos, Altos, Tenors and Basses but we especially need Tenors and Basses to balance out our sound. Auditions are not required but some familiarity with reading music would be helpful. Our programs are made up of a variety of pieces from many musical genres and styles. There is something for everyone and we want to make sure our singers and audiences have a very enjoyable time at rehearsals and performances.

Our rehearsals are from 6:20 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday evenings and there is a $25 registration fee that helps cover the cost of the music. Our spring concert dates are scheduled for Friday, May 15, 2020 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. There is a two-week trial period if needed and scholarships are available. Please contact Jan Jukkola for more information at musicsix@cox.net or 647-2584.We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

LRCC would like to thank the Bridgton Academy for their on-going help and support.

Maine CDC adds new radon data tool

Homeowners urged to test for exposure with do-it-yourself kits

AUGUSTA – An important new tool is available to Maine residents to help them learn about radon exposure in their communities. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now provides an online data tool that summarizes radon test results at the town, county, and state levels, as well as eight years of household survey data about testing, levels above normal, and whether those levels were fixed.

Household survey data suggest that only 1 in 3 Maine households have tested their homes for radon,
a colorless, odorless gas. This is concerning because radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second most common cause of lung cancer overall. Maine CDC encourages everyone to test their home for radon. Do-it-yourself test kits from local laboratories and hardware stores typically cost between $30 and $40. They are a simple way to find out if your home is exposing you to radon.

“These data show that while radon can be found everywhere in the state, there are communities in southwestern Maine and within Hancock and Aroostook counties where more than 50 percent of households have elevated levels of radon,” said Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. “Locating these geographic hotspots will help target resources and information to the communities most affected.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends mitigation for test results at or above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). EPA also suggests homeowners consider mitigation if levels are between 2 and 4 pCi/L. If mitigation is needed, Maine CDC recommends contacting a certified mitigation specialist to ensure a radon reduction system is properly designed and installed.
High radon levels are a clear threat to your health. But the solutions – testing and mitigation - are clear too. If you test your home and find out you have a problem, you can fix it.

“If you find that you have high levels of radon, it can be alarming,” said Director Shah. “But addressing the issue is often easier than homeowners expect. The key is to work with an expert who can help you.”

To view the Maine Tracking Network’s radon data portal, visit https://data.mainepublichealth.gov/tracking.

For more information:
Maine CDC Radiation Control Program: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/rad/radon/hp-radon.htm
Maine Indoor Air Quality Council: https://maineindoorair.org/
Maine Lung Cancer Coalition: https://mainelungcancercoalition.org/
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: https://www.epa.gov/radon

January 16, 2020

Riding To The Top elects new board member

Brandon Cohen

Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center recently elected Brandon Cohen of Cumberland Maine to its Board of Directors. Cohen is the President and owner of Head Light Benefit Group, Inc. He joins RTT board members Janis Childs, Cynthia Cyr, Casey Etter-Bobb, Steve Flynn, Gary Plummer, Carissa Robb, Hilda Sastre and Jim Small in leading the nonprofit.

About Riding to the Top
Founded in 1993, Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center’s (RTT) mission is enhancing health and wellness through equine assisted activities and therapies.  RTT is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International).  Located just west of Portland in Windham, Maine, RTT is the state’s only year round PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center solely dedicated to serving people with disabilities through equine assisted activities and therapies. More than 250 clients visit annually, assisted by certified instructors, over 160 volunteers, and a herd of 18 horses, all specially trained to assist with therapeutic riding, carriage driving, equine assisted learning and hippotherapy. RTT is a community-based nonprofit, receives no federal or state funding and provides scholarships to over 60% of its clients.  For more information about client services, volunteering, or making a gift, please visit us at www.ridingtothetop.org or call 892-2813.

Overdose Recognition and Response Community Forum a success

By Joe McNerney

Anyone can be an addict, and most of us know someone who is or was. A common fear is what we should do in the event a person might overdose.

CPR and Narcan dispersal are two ways to
save a person's life if they experience a drug overdose
“A lot of people panic. The most important thing people always forget is to call 911. That alone can make the difference in saving someone’s life,” stated Community Health Promotion Specialist, Lizzy Garnatz.

Garnatz was one of the speakers at The Overdose Recognition and Response Community Forum and Training that took place last Tuesday, January 7th at Windham’s Veterans Center.

“When you call 911, we can assist you in CPR as well as Narcan dispersal,” she continued.
Narcan (naloxone) is an opioid antagonist used for the complete or partial reversal of opioid overdose, including respiratory depression.

The emergency operators ask many questions, and they do so for good reason. They are trained and have guides in front of them to assist you, which is why they need as much information as possible. Narcan nasal spray can be used again and should be timed appropriately for emergency services.

Laura Morris, Executive Director of Be the Influence was the host of the training event for Narcan and hands only CPR. The purpose of the forum was to educate the public on ways to help save the life of someone who has overdosed.

“It takes a village.” Laura stated of the collaboration.

Everyone from Windham’s Chief of Police to Portland’s District Attorney sat in attendance for this informative meeting.

“We’ve had a pretty good turnout both times we’ve done this” said Windham Deputy Fire Chief John Kooistra.

Many people seemed to know one another, giving words of encouragement.

Brittany Fearon, Assistant Program Manager/Maine Association of Recovery Residences spoke at the forum regarding her own personal experiences with substance abuse.

Being a resident of Windham for most of her life, Fearon as a young adult struggled with drugs and alcohol. This was something she battled for many years before finding the right path. Fearon stressed that addiction never really goes away. It’s a lifelong battle that takes constant work, made better by people you can rely on. Much of what helped her was finding others with similar experiences.
Anyone interested in learning more about overdose recognition and response should contact Laura Morris at director@betheinfluencewrw.org.

Mechanics and Biddeford Savings provide assistance to local food pantries

Centered on an unwavering commitment to the local communities they serve, Biddeford Savings and Mechanics Savings recently donated a total of $22,500 to local food pantries in their market areas to help fight the issue of food insecurity.

Maine ranks 12th in the nation for food insecurity. People of all ages are struggling to put food on
Maine Community Bank employees present $22,500 to nine
local food pantries. L to R: Jeanne Hulit, President & CEO;
Colette Gagnon, Windham Social Services Administrative Assistant;
Vickie McMullen, Vice President, Branch Manager & Loan Officer
their tables, but the trend is most distressing for the youngest and oldest citizens of our state. One in five children in Maine are considered food insecure, as are 16% of our senior population.

Food pantries must rely heavily on donations from area residents and businesses to continue to fill the need.  In the first week after the merger between Biddeford Savings and Mechanics Savings, both divisions wanted to address the issue of food insecurity with donations to several food pantries in the communities of Central and Southern Maine.

“Thankfully, there are many food pantries in our communities working tirelessly to provide fresh food and hot meals to our most vulnerable residents,” said Jeanne Hulit, President and CEO of Maine Community Bank, the parent company of Biddeford Savings and Mechanics Savings.  “Our colleagues donate to and volunteer at the food pantries year-round.  We’ve seen the need grow, especially after the holidays, and are in a position to help,” Hulit added.

The following food pantries each received a $2,500 donation to purchase food and other nonperishable goods: High Street Food Pantry in Auburn; Biddeford Food Pantry in Biddeford; Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program in Brunswick; Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston; Community Outreach Services in Kennebunk; Saco Food Pantry in Saco; Project GRACE in Scarborough; Windham Food Pantry and Clothes Closet in Windham; and Waterboro Food Pantry in Waterboro.

About Maine Community Bank
Biddeford Savings and Mechanics Savings have been financial partners to the people of Central and Southern Maine for the past 150 years. To help carry their commitment to the communities they serve, the two banks merged on January 1, 2020, becoming divisions of Maine Community Bank. The merger expands the lending capacity, product offerings, and branch service area, while keeping all decision making at the local level. They have branches in Auburn, Biddeford, Brunswick, Kennebunk, Lewiston, Scarborough, Waterboro, and Windham.

Become a hospice volunteer and make a difference

Hold a hand, lend an ear, run an errand, or provide a comforting presence. If you are a compassionate, reliable individual with a sincere desire to help, we encourage you to join our team of valued Northern Light Home Care & Hospice volunteers.

Volunteers are needed most to help hospice patients in Cumberland and York counties.
Healthcare experience is not required, and you will receive the necessary training and support
needed to help you enjoy a positive and rewarding volunteer experience.

Call today to learn about this opportunity and sign up for our upcoming training session!
Beth Simmons, LSW, Northern Light Home Care & Hospice Volunteer Coordinator

Spring Schedule:
Dates: Tuesday, March 10, 17, 24, 31, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday April 7, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 50 Foden Road, Suite 1 in South Portland.

Information forum to be held February 12 to clarify confusion on REAL ID Driver’s License

By Lorraine Glowczak

With the deadline looming on October 1, 2020, Mainers will be required to update their Maine State Driver’s License in order to adhere to the mandatory minimum-security standards set by the Department of Homeland Security. Briefly, The REAL ID Act establishes security standards for state licenses in order to access federal facilities, to enter nuclear power plants, and to board federally regulated commercial aircraft. Maine is one of the last states to implement the REAL ID standards.

But there has been much misunderstanding and misperceptions as to how to go about making the changes necessary. “I have been receiving continual inquiries from people in this area, (Windham/Raymond) who are confused about the requirements necessary to obtain a REAL ID Driver’s License,” stated Senator Bill Diamond. “There is a lot of confusion regarding several issues including which personal documents are required by the Motor Vehicles Office in order to get the REAL ID.  There have been several contradictory statements regarding the need for original vs. duplicate personal documents.  Are there substitutes for the REAL ID? Does the state have personal REAL ID cards for those who don’t drive?  When is the best time to avoid the long lines at the Motor Vehicle offices?”  

As a result of the mounting confusion surrounding the REAL ID and the pressure of time running out before the deadline for getting the REAL ID, Sen. Diamond believes it is important to provide a forum for the people in this area to once and for all provide answers to the many questions.
The forum will take place on Wednesday, February 12 at 7 p.m. in the Windham Town Hall Council Chamber room. The panelists will include not only Diamond but Rep. Patrick Corey, Rep. Mark Bryant along with Maine Secretary of State, Matt Dunlap.

Everyone from the Sebago Lakes region area is encouraged to attend in person or to watch the forum Facebook live.

For more information about the forum or the requirements needed for the REAL ID changeover, contact Sen. Diamond at diamondhollyd@aol.com or by phone at (207) 287-1515.

January 10, 2020

Evergreen Credit Union names new VP Branch Administrator

Evergreen Credit Union names Richard (Rich) Folse to the new position of Vice President, Branch Administration. Rich comes from Gesa Credit Union in Richland, Washington, where he served as Assistant Vice President. He was responsible for leading and managing up to 10 service center managers and approximately 150 staff members.  

Rich Folse
“Rich brings significant expertise with credit unions in general and CU operations in particular,” stated Evergreen CEO Jason Lindstrom. “He will be a valuable asset to our senior leadership team. His passion for team building and strategic planning will help Evergreen’s staff continue to provide exceptional service to our members.” 

Folse, who is moving from the west coast and a larger financial institution, added “I recognize that mid-coast Maine is clearly a dynamic market. Evergreen is also growing rapidly, so I will introduce more branch leadership to improve our member experience and deepen our growing membership relationships.” 

Folse holds a master’s business administration from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. Additionally, he holds a master’s theology from Golden Gate Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts from Houston Baptist University. He is a member of the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce and obtained CUDE Certification from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Evergreen Credit Union is one of Maine’s largest credit unions, with branches in Portland, South Portland, Windham and Naples.

Modern Woodmen makes matching gift to RTT

Zack Conley and Tim Graham of Modern Woodmen of America visited Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT) recently to present a matching gift of $2500. The organization’s local members participated in RTT’s 12th Annual Triple B ~ Boots, Band & BBQ in October.
According to Graham, Modern Woodmen’s and RTT’s mission are a good fit as both seek to improve the quality of life for our communities. “One of the ways Modern Woodmen does this is by partnering with local nonprofits like RTT through its member volunteer activities.

Zack Conley, Tim Graham, Kate Jeton (Program Director 
and instructor), and rider, Joshua on Luke
Photo Credit: Riding To The Top
Sarah Bronson, Executive Director stated, “This generous matching gift from Modern Woodmen will support RTT’s clients, ages 3-93, participating in equine assisted activities and therapies, the majority of whom receive some level of scholarship.”  According to Bronson, hundreds of children and adults with disabilities are able to experience the healing power of horses at RTT thanks to financial and volunteer support from local businesses like Modern Woodmen. She went on to note, “The Triple B celebrates the special bond between humans and horses—a bond that is especially powerful and life changing for children and adults with disabilities! We are fortunate to witness this every day at RTT!”

About Modern Woodmen of America
Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial was founded in 1883. Ever since then, MWA has been helping families fulfill their financial needs and making an impact in communities nationwide. Their main purpose is to help members plan for their financial security through insurance and investments. Modern Woodmen fraternalism is about coming together and making a positive impact on each other and on our communities. It’s about being part of something bigger than yourself. For more information, contact Tim Graham at the Windham office at (207) 892-0302.

About Riding To The Top
Riding To The Top’s mission is enhancing health and wellness through equine assisted activities and therapies. Founded in 1993, Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT) is located on a 50-acre farm in Windham, Maine.  RTT is a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) and Maine’s only PATH Intl. Accredited Center providing year round equine assisted activities and therapies to children and adults with disabilities. Over 250 clients visit annually from over 40 communities in Maine and NH. Certified instructors, specially trained horses and over 160 volunteers assist up to 100 clients each week. Riding To The Top is a community-based nonprofit, receives no federal or state funding and provides scholarships to over 60% of its clients. For more information about client services, volunteering, or making a gift, please visit ridingtothetop.org or call 892-2813.

Evergreen Credit Union donates over $17,000

Photo 1

Photo 1
Evergreen recently donated $1642 to the American Cancer Society.  Pictured are Reven Oliver from the American Cancer Society and Evergreen employees Allie Floyd, Jason Lindstrom, Brenda Pollock and Cole Rowland.

Photo 2

Photo 2
Evergreen Credit Union recently donated over $16,000 to be shared among local food pantries.
Pictured are representatives of Evergreen Credit Union, SMCC, Crosswalk Outreach, and food pantries from the following towns: South Portland, Westbrook, Windham and Biddeford. 

Evergreen Credit Union is one of Maine’s largest credit unions, with branches in Portland, South Portland, Windham and Naples.

January 9, 2020

Bangor Savings Bank approves new branches, including one in Windham

The board of directors of Bangor Savings Bank recently approved the construction of branch offices in Maine and New Hampshire, according to bank President and CEO, Bob Montgomery-Rice.

Bangor Savings Bank plans to build full-service branches at 745 Roosevelt Trail in Windham, Maine, and at 999 Elm Street in Manchester, New Hampshire. It will be the first Bangor Savings site for each community. Construction will begin pending municipal approvals. The Manchester branch has a projected opening date in the fall of 2020, while the Windham branch is expected to be operational by early 2021.

The Windham Bangor Savings branch will offer consumer and commercial banking services, along
with mortgage, payroll, and merchant services. The new office will be built on the existing Cross Insurance location and will be jointly shared by both Bangor Savings and Cross Insurance at the corner or Routes 115 and 302. The branch will have a drive-up teller and ATM and will employ approximately 10 people.

“We are excited to continue our commitment to serving communities in Maine. This new location, in particular, is in response to customers and employees who have requested a BSB Windham branch for some time,” said Montgomery-Rice. “I am so pleased with this location and look forward to engaging with and supporting the Windham community.”  

The Manchester branch will be built at a downtown space that has recently been the site of restaurants. The walk-up location will offer consumer and commercial banking services, along with mortgage, payroll, and merchant services. It will have an ATM and approximately 10 employees. 

When the Manchester location opens it will be the bank’s seventh branch in New Hampshire.

“We have really enjoyed getting to know and serve New Hampshire customers through our existing locations in Portsmouth, Concord, Amherst, and Colebrook,” added Montgomery-Rice. “Having a presence in Manchester, the state’s largest city, is an important next step in supporting our customers, new and existing, as well as the broader community.”

Bangor Savings recently announced plans to merge with Maine-based Damariscotta Bank & Trust which will add six branch offices for Bangor Savings in mid-coast Maine. Bangor Savings has 57 branches and more than 950 employees in New England and has been recognized by its customers as the region’s top-rated bank four out of the last five years in the J.D. Power and Associates Retail Banking Satisfaction StudySM. Learn more about the bank at www.bangor.com.

About Bangor Savings Bank
Bangor Savings Bank, with more than $4.4 billion in assets, offers retail banking to consumers as well as comprehensive payroll administration, merchant services, commercial, corporate, and small business banking services to businesses. The Bank, founded in 1852, is in its 167th year with 57 branches in Maine and New Hampshire, and online at www.bangor.com. The Bangor Savings Bank Foundation was created in 1997. Together the Bank and its Foundation invested more than $2 million into the community in the form of nonprofit sponsorships, grants and partnership initiatives last year. Bangor Savings Bank is an equal opportunity employer.

Looking forward to a new year in the Legislature

By Sen. Bill Diamond

It’s already 2020, if you can believe it. The New Year is an opportunity to refocus our energy on the things that are important in our lives, our families and our communities.

The New Year also brings about the beginning of a new legislative session. This is shaping up to be a productive year in the Legislature, and I am hopeful for a high degree of cooperation and bipartisanship from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. As for me, I have a few projects and issues that I will be focused on this year.

My top priority in the Legislature will continue to be protecting children in state care. We are defined by how we treat the most vulnerable among us, and we tragically have failed too often on this front. I will continue to work to pass my bill, LD 1554, “Resolve, Establishing a Commission To Reform Child Protective Services,” in order to provide rigorous, continuous oversight of Maine’s child protection system, with input from the courts, the Legislature, law enforcement and the general public.

I also will be looking to support other proposals that will fix problems in the Department of Health and Human Services. In particular, I am interested in ways we can strengthen the foster care system by promoting more and better foster homes. We’ve been through seven DHHS commissioners and four gubernatorial administrations since the death of Logan Marr, and children are still dying. Let’s fix this problem for real.

This year, I will continue to serve as chair of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee and work to make our roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure safer and better for everyone. Last year we passed Maine’s new “hands-free” distracted driving law, prohibiting drivers from using handheld electronic devices while driving. We also strengthened the “move over” law that protects police, emergency responders and public service workers who are pulled over on the side of the road, and we passed a transportation budget that received unanimous support from the Legislature. Making sure everyone can get where they want to go in a safe and timely manner is a core function of our state government, and I’m proud to continue my work in this important area of policy.

Finally, there are many reasons why 2020 will be a big year for Maine, but, perhaps most importantly, it is our 200th birthday. On March 15, 1820, Maine formally became the 23rd state in the union. I am chairing the Bicentennial Commission, which oversees planning and organizing events and programs to celebrate the occasion. Four signature events will be happening throughout the state this year. We will have a Statehood Weekend celebration on March 15 at the Augusta Armory, featuring music, poetry and birthday cake. That will be followed by the Bicentennial Parade in Lewiston and Auburn on May 16, which will feature a multigenerational marching band. The next event will be the Tall Ships Festival in Bangor, Belfast, Boothbay Harbor, Bucksport, Castine, Portland, Rockland and Searsport on June 21to July 20. Finally, we will have an Innovation Expo in Bangor on October 10 to 12, featuring the world-class ingenuity and expertise of Maine’s businesses and academic institutions.
The Bicentennial Commission is also awarding community grants to support the interests, needs and creativity of residents and communities throughout Maine as they plan local commemorations of the Bicentennial.  The deadline for the next round of grants is February 1. To learn more about the events, grants and other activities of the Bicentennial Commission, visit www.maine200.org.

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 is an honor to serve as your state senator.

Antonio Asali wins the Jordan-Small Middle School National Geographic GeoBee

Ten middle school students from Jordan-Small Middle School participated in the school competition of the National Geographic GeoBee on Tuesday, January 7th. Antonio Asali, a sixth-grade student, won first place, with second place going to sixth-grader Isabella Messer, while seventh grade student Harrison Behnke finished in third place.

The school competition is the first round in the annual National Geographic GeoBee, a geography competition designed to inspire and reward students’ curiosity about the world. Questions cover not only geography, but also ancient and world civilizations, cultures and physical features.

The National Geographic Society developed the GeoBee in 1989 in response to concern about the lack of geographic knowledge among young people in the United States. Over more than three decades, more than 120 million students have learned about the world through participation in the GeoBee.

School champions, including Antonio Asali, will take an online qualifying test; up to 100 of the top test scorers in each state then become eligible to compete in their State GeoBee. The winners of the State GeoBees receive an all expenses paid trip to participate in the GeoBee national championship in Spring 2020. Students will be competing for cash prizes, scholarships and an all expenses paid Lindblad expedition to the Galápagos Islands aboard the National Geographic Endeavour ll. Learn more at www.natgeobee.org.

In addition to the GeoBee, National Geographic also offers classroom resources, student experiences and professional development opportunities for educators.

About The National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate the wonder of the world, define critical challenges and catalyze action to protect our planet. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 14,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature convenings and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Windham Teacher wins VFW State of Maine award and vies for National Citizenship Education title

By Lorraine Glowczak

Emily Stokes, sixth grade teacher at Windham Middle School (WMS) has been named the recipient of the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award (grades 6 - 8) representing the State of Maine. She will receive this award on Saturday, January 11th at a banquet hosted at the MacCrillis-Rousseau VFW Post 8835, 175 Veterans Drive in Winslow at 6 p.m.

Stokes is being recognized for her resources and creative experiential learning she implements in the classroom, helping her students to learn about the men and women who are serving or have served in the armed forces

Commander Willie Goodman giving Windham
VFW Teacher Award to Emily Stokes in 2018
“Emily is deserving of this award because of her enthusiasm and commitment in instilling an awareness in her students of what veterans are and what they did for our country,” stated Willie Goodman, Commander of the Windham VFW Post 10643. “I, along with fellow veterans, have been interviewed by her students for her ‘Heart of Courage’ program and it was obvious with their questions they really had an understanding of veterans and their service.” The culmination of this program is an annual dinner to honor veterans with over 130 students, teachers and administrators in attendance, now going on its third year.

Stokes began teaching in 2001 at the Guy E. Rowe School in Norway, ME and was hired the following year as a fifth and sixth grade teacher at Jordan Small Middle School.  In 2015 she transferred to WMS.

Stokes explained that her teaching method was inspired by WMS’ Principal, Drew Patin and his encouragement of Project Based Learning in the classroom. “There was a lot of time devoted to the development of each project,” stated Stokes. “From that initiative came projects like ‘Taking Back Maine’s Future’, and ‘The Heat is On’.” The ‘Heart of Courage’ program is a part of the Project Based Learning initiative.

She and her team partner at the time, Sarah Hopkins, knew they wanted to develop a project involving students working with veterans. “Both of us have relatives and friends that serve(d),” Stokes said. “Initially we wanted students to really have an understanding of what people experience when serving, what families experience and ways we can thank service men/women for their sacrifices and dedication to the United States.  As the project developed, we focused on activities that would enable to students to answer three guiding questions:  What does it mean to be a veteran? How does war impact a person? How do we show gratitude to those in our community who have served?  So many veterans do not share their stories and it is so important for their own healing process.  We wanted students to hear the stories of these amazing men and women and to be able pass those stories along.”  

Stokes further explained that their roles as teachers morphed more into facilitators of the project and students were the ones doing the hard work – and it wasn’t all pen and paper – it involved work outside of the classroom, too.  “Students were interacting with the community, developing relationships with those that serve, learning how to conduct interviews, researching, writing informational text,” she said. “Students also developed compassion, integrity, responsibility, dedication, commitment to doing something bigger.  Students appreciation for those service men and women grew immensely throughout the project.” 

One of the most enduring and perhaps most impactful experiences occurred during visits to local cemeteries where the students placed flags. “Students were shocked to find headstones knocked over and some asked what they could do to help get headstones repaired,” Stokes shared. “Most of all, students displayed an overwhelming sense of compassion. When we went to the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta, that was the real kicker. Students washed, scrubbed and put a lot of elbow grease into cleaning headstones. During a break there was a group of boys that weren’t finished cleaning one of the bridges on the memorial walkway. When asked why they hadn’t joined the group for a break they said they weren’t finished scrubbing and that needed to scrub it more. They took so much pride in making that bridge shine.  At another point, there were families visiting their loved ones at the headstones placing flowers. One man was trying to clean the headstone by brushing it with his hand.  One student, of his own accord, walked up to the gentleman and asked if he could help him.  The student bent down on one knee, poured water over the stone and began scrubbing. One by one there was a chain reaction and students spread out approaching people and asking if they could help clean the headstones.  Families would talk with the students about their loved one.  There were tears that day. Tears of joy and pride for each and every student for the work they did.  This is why we do this project.”  

Stokes appreciates the help her classroom receives from the Windham VFW Post 10643 as they help in making this project happen.  “Not only did they participate in the project, they were able to get a grant for the project.  The grant covered nonfiction and fictional reading material for the project and covered busing cost.  For them, this has always been about the children.”
Goodman stated that teaching patriotism, the constitution and current events to her students is not only increasing their knowledge but will make them better citizens and future leaders.  

January 3, 2020

Raymond Recreation Ski Program seeks local sponsors

What better way to enjoy Maine winters than to hit the slopes? For years, Raymond Recreation has helped local children learn to ski or snowboard through the generous support of local sponsors. Donations to the Learn to Ski/Snowboard program give kids the opportunity to join the program, to be properly equipped, and to have fun while staying active in the winter.

This year, Raymond Recreation is seeking business sponsors to help offset a steep increase in the cost of transportation to and from Shawnee Peak. Sponsors at any level are deeply appreciated and will be featured on both the Raymond Recreation website and Facebook page. The Standard Sponsorship (at $250) will also include a complimentary plaque and a group picture at the end of the season.

http://www.fwwebb.com/A Gold Sponsorship (of $500) includes the group picture and plaque as well as placing your company name on the Raymond Recreation Learn to Ski/Snowboard bibs. These bibs will travel all the ski trails at Shawnee Peak, making this a very unique advertising opportunity.

Please contact Gail Troiano at kcutie8199@yahoo.com or 207-749-6308 with any questions or to
sponsor the Learn the Ski/Snowboard program.

First Annual Windham PTA Creative Expressions Contest underway

By Elizabeth Richards

Although the Windham PTA sponsored Creative Expressions contest is new this year, it  may seem familiar. That’s because the contest is similar to the national PTA’s Reflections competition – with a few key differences.

PTA vice president Jessica Bridges said they decided not to participate in the national Reflections competition this year for a few reasons. The state didn’t have a coordinator and rollout of the program was going to be late, but the PTA also wanted to change things up, she said, to allow for the schools to be a part of the contest if they chose to do so. 

Unlike in the Reflections program, which did not allow school involvement at all, teachers can offer guidance and support to students for the Creative Expressions contest if they want. They could even incorporate it into their curriculum. The work itself must still be completed by students.

Another rule that changed with the move to a locally managed contest was that participants can work in groups of up to three students. “We’re hoping that would increase participation,” Bridges said. 

http://jordanbayvet.com/Participation in Reflections had decreased significantly in recent years. Working together may prompt more people to participate, especially the younger children who may be overwhelmed at doing a project on their own, Bridges said.

The Creative Expressions contest has three categories: Literature, Music Composition and Visual Arts (which includes photography). There are four age groups, one for each school in Windham. All students in grades K-12 in the Windham schools are eligible to enter.

The theme for this year’s contest is “Oh, The Places You’ll Go…” All artwork must be new, original, and inspired by this theme. Each student can only enter one submission, whether as an individual or part of a group. Entries must have a title, as well as an artist statement that communicates what inspired the work, how it relates to the theme, and the content of the work. 

Bridges said it is her goal to make sure that everyone who enters is recognized for their work. Although she has no expectations for participation since it’s the first year, she said, “I’m hoping it opens up to allow the students a more creative venue.” If successful, she said, they hope to include even more categories in the future, such as science or STEM related work. 
An awards ceremony will be held in the spring, though details are not yet set. “We want to recognize [students] for their work and let them have that creativity. It helps them grow,” Bridges said.

Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges with expertise in each particular category.  Judges will be selected from the community, and teachers might also be involved in judging entries at other schools as another way to involve the schools, Bridges said. Entries are due at the main office of the student’s school by January 31st, and must be accompanied by the entry form, which can be downloaded at www.windhammainepta.org. Questions can be directed to windhammainepta@gmail.com.