February 28, 2020

Girl Scout Troop 30 visits the State House

Girl Scouts and troop leaders from Troop 30 visited the State House on Thursday. The troop includes members from Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland. They were welcomed to the State House by Minority Leader Kathleen Dillingham, R-Oxford, Rep. Bettyann Sheats, D-Auburn, and Rep. Jess Fay, D-Raymond.  

Loon Echo Land Trust awards Environmental Education Grant to Raymond Village Library

Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) is pleased to announce the recipients of their 2019 Environmental Education Grant Program. LELT has awarded grants to Raymond Village Library, Naples Public Library, Spaulding Memorial Library in Sebago, Harrison Elementary School, and Sebago Elementary School.

http://rtprides.org/Every year, schools and libraries in Loon Echo’s service area of Denmark, Bridgton, Harrison, Naples, Casco, Raymond and Sebago are invited to submit grant applications to Loon Echo for environmental programs. These awards will help Lake Region children learn about the environment and the importance of protecting our region’s land and natural resources.

LELT’s Environmental Educational Grants were developed as a memorial to local teachers, Helen Allen and Polly Bartlett. Helen Allen owned a beautiful hilltop farm on Quaker Ridge in Casco looking out to the western foothills and Mt. Washington. She was one of the first to grant Loon Echo a conservation easement on her 60-acre property so that it would be protected in perpetuity. After her death at the age of 94, Helen Allen’s bequest to Loon Echo allowed LELT to create an endowed environmental education fund to support yearly programs in local schools and libraries. 

Polly Bartlett was one of the original Board members of Loon Echo. A teacher at Sebago Elementary School, each year she treated her third graders to a winter walk at Maine Audubon. When she died in 2000 at the age of 48, the Trust created a fund in her memory to ensure that third graders at Sebago Elementary would always take their winter walk. 

For more information on the program's history, or how to contribute to LELT’s education fund, visit www.loonecholandtrust.org or call 207-647-4352.

Loon Echo Land Trust (LELT) is a member supported, non-profit land trust that works to protect the land and natural resources of the northern Sebago Lake region for future generations. Loon Echo conserves over 8,000 acres of land and manages 32 miles of hiking and biking trails in the towns of Bridgton, Casco, Denmark, Harrison, Naples, Raymond and Sebago. For more information on, LELT preserves, upcoming events, or how to get involved, visit lelt.org.

Diamond bill to make technical changes to “hands-free” distracted driving law passes Senate unanimously

A bill introduced by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, to make technical changes to Maine’s new “hands free” distracted driving law received unanimous support from the Maine Senate on Thursday.  The bill, LD 1901, “An Act To Amend the Laws Prohibiting the Use of Handheld Phones and Devices While Driving," would amend the language of the law to clarify the intended fine amount and exempt ham radio operators.

“Maine’s new distracted driving law is already keeping our roads safer,” said Sen. Diamond. “The technical changes in LD 1901 will clarify the Legislature’s intent for law enforcement and the courts. I appreciate my Senate colleagues’ strong support for this bill, and swift action to move it through the process.”.

Last year, Sen. Diamond’s bill, LD 165, “An Act To Prohibit the Use of Handheld Phones and Devices While Driving,” became law. The new law prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices while driving, and while it set a fine of “not less than $50” for the first offense and “not less than $250” for second and subsequent offenses, the courts initially decided to set the fines at much higher rates. This was not consistent with the intent of the law.

Sen. Diamond spoke with Maine Supreme Court Chief Justice Saufley about this discrepancy and, after that conversation, the Judicial Branch announced that it would honor the intent of the law and lower the fine amount. LD 1901 would provide the necessary legislative fix to clarify the law’s original intent going forward.

LD 1901 faces further votes in the Maine Senate and House.

Marijuana adult use regulation and councilor resignation topic of discussion for Windham Council

Cole Heanssler speaks to the Council on behalf of the D.A.R.E.
By Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Town Council met on Tuesday, February 25 at the Windham Town Council Chamber Room at 6:30 p.m. for their biweekly council meeting. The room was filled with concerned citizens on both sides of one agenda item - the proposed Marijuana Business
Licensing Ordinance and adult use retail stores.

The meeting began with Councilor comments. Councilor David Douglass congratulated Charles Hawkins for receiving the Frank Koenig - Business Person of the Year for 2019.

Councilor Rebecca Cummings read a letter that was shared with all council members. It was from a concerned parent regarding a plan to construct of marijuana grow facility near her family’s home. The parent also shared her concern about the smell produced from area marijuana plants. The parent conveyed in the letter the lack of forethought in terms of grow facilities in Windham and ask the council to seriously review the guidelines. 

Councilor Cummings also reminded other members of the council and those present at the meeting about the pledge the Council used to state prior to each council meeting. After repeating the “Be The Influence” pledge, she stated, “I believe in that pledge and I whole heartedly disagree with marijuana in this community, therefore I can not and will not be a part of a council that condones it. As a result, I resign effective immediately.”* 

https://jobs.spectrum.com/Adults in the community, DARE students and Officer Cyr as well as members of Be The Influence Coalition spoke to the council encouraging the council to not proceed in allowing adult use medical marijuana. Some points shared included but were not limited to:

Crime as a result of use
Increase in drug driving
Media campaigns that target youth
Increase in ER visits due to edibles
Increase in psychosis and anxiety due to youth use
Scientifically proven to harm the developing brain
Higher THC levels than from 20 years ago

Proponents for the establishment of adult use shared their perspectives. Some details included but are not limited to:

The marijuana store front community is concerned about youth use and is willing to work with the town and community to prevent youth use
Students are not getting access at medical marijuana stores but from the black market
Adult retail store marijuana is regulated and tested as safe for adult use
Raise education fees
Initiate responsibility and education to both adults and students regarding harmful youth use
Participate in marketing practices with Be The Influence community
Cannabis is part of a well-rounded wellness routine for professional and responsible adults

After a two-hour discussion with the Town’s legal adviser, amendments have been made to the proposed Marijuana Business Licensing Ordinance and public comment will remain open until the March 10th Council meeting of which the ordinance will be voted upon.

To learn more about this agenda items as well as other topics discussed at this meeting, 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.

*The Windham Town Council will be placing a notice within the next two weeks, requesting applications from qualified individuals to temporarily fill the open Councilor seat. This will be a seven-month appointment until elections in November. 

February 21, 2020

Maine’s longest and continuous-running 3-on-3 charity basketball tournament seeks teams

The C-U Swish-Out Childhood Cancer Challenge, presented by Town & Country FCU, is in full pursuit of teams to participate in this year’s tournament. This year marks the 26th Annual event, building upon its previous distinction as Maine’s longest, continuous-running, 3-on-3, co-ed, charity basketball tournament. The event takes place on Sunday, March 8, at USM in Gorham, and features adult and youth divisions including a new High School Division.

“Over the next few weeks, we’re really focused on getting more teams registered in all of the divisions.  There are three adult divisions (Elite, Just For Fun – our most popular, and Forever Young – for 40 and over) and three junior divisions (fifth-sixth grade, middle school, and a new high school division). It only takes three players to get a team together, as long as one of them is a member of the opposite sex,” explained Jon Paradise, Vice President of Public Relations and Communications at Town & Country FCU, and the founder of the tournament. Paradise said registration is off to a solid start but he’s hoping to see an influx of registrations in the next few weeks. The deadline for team registrations is Sunday, March 1.

“This event continues to grow and happen because of the great support of sponsors and participants. I am hopeful that this will be another special year of support.  We have had teams come from all over Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. A team can be whatever people want it to be – co-workers, relatives, friends, classmates, etc.  It’s a great team-building event so we get a number of businesses involved,” he added.

The Swish-Out began in 1994 and had seven teams and raised $575 the first year. Last year, the tournament had nearly 60 teams (a sold-out field) participate and, most importantly, raised nearly $50,000 for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program.  Since it started, the tournament has raised $525,000 for children with cancer and their families.

One hundred percent of all money raised through registration, sponsorships and contributions will go directly to the cause.

To register a team or to find out more information, email jon.paradise@tcfcu.com; call 207-553-5335; or go to the Swish-Out Childhood Cancer Challenge page on Facebook. 
“This event happens because of people, so we want to get a full field of teams again this year,” Paradise stated.

The event is presented by Town & Country FCU, with additional major sponsorship support from Tyler Technologies, PCH Media, WEX, Next Level Solutions, M.R. Brewer, Bancvue, Enterprise, Tricorp FCU, Hannaford Supermarkets, Bob’s Discount Furniture, Risbara Bros. Construction, Martin’s Point Healthcare and USM Athletics.

Builders and homeowners learn principals of new residential energy code enacted by Maine Legislature

By Lorraine Glowczak

For the past three weeks, professional home builders, construction experts, Realtors® and homeowners have been attending a series of residential construction workshops entitled Build a Better House, at Saint Joseph’s College to learn about the newly updated 2015 IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) Residential Energy Code.  

The Build a Better House workshop series is presented by Bill Turner and David Johnston annually
by the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council. The last of the workshop series will be held next Friday, February 28 in the college’s Xavier Hall from 7:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m. The workshop will include information for homeowners who are in the process of repairing and updating their home. This class will also benefit professional home builders, Realtors®, home inspectors and others in the home building industry.

“The changes made by the Maine State Legislature in 2019 will impact two key areas of energy efficiency and air quality in home construction: significantly reducing the expected overall energy bill and providing both healthy ventilation and radon control,” stated Turner, in reference to the 2015 IECC Residential Energy Code.

https://jobs.spectrum.com/Turner went on to explain that before the 2015 prescriptive changes, the 2009 minimum insulation and air leakage levels meant that a new looking home would not likely perform well in cold and windy weather, causing significant upsizing of both the installation and operating cost of the heating
system. Meeting the new standard will result in drastically lower overall energy bills and much better occupant comfort in cold and windy weather, potentially a 50% reduction compared to the 2009 minimums. All this with an increased construction cost typically in the range of 3% to 4% that usually results in a net annually savings of over $300 starting in the first year.

Turner used an analogy to compare the difference between the 2009 and 2015 IECC Code. “Buying a new home that only meets the 2009 IECC Code would be like buying a 2020 truck and finding out that it only gets 12 miles per gallon versus the more efficient 20 miles per gallon that you would expect of a brand new truck today.”

The point is, he continued, if a home is built or remodeled to the 2015 IECC standards, the energy efficiency should be such that one should not feel drafts or be cold in a home during the freezing winter months. The house should be built well enough to hold in the heat, while at the same time allowing for high air quality (i.e., not trapping dangerous gases such as radon).

“If houses are built, repaired and maintained at the 2015 IECC standards, then the yearly cost for
heating and cooling should be in the range of $500 to $900 per year,” stated Turner. “That’s a significant improvement over the 2009 IECC minimum standards – which could cost a homeowner up to $2000 per year for heating and cooling costs. This newly adopted code represents the fact that Maine is finally catching up with the rest of New England.”
Turner also suggested those who are in the process of building a new home make sure their builders and contractors are following the new 2015 IECC standards.

These new standards apply to single-family homes and multi-family structures of three stories or less. Many of the standard’s core provisions are already common modern building practices today, however, the 2015 IECC adoption means that builders must incorporate them. Core provisions of the code now require local exhaust of kitchen and bathrooms along with whole building ventilation with a small mechanical exhaust system as well as air sealing of any attached garage and at least one carbon monoxide detector.

For more information about healthy, energy-efficient homes or about the last class at Saint Joseph’s College, visit  or contact the Maine Indoor Air Quality Council at 207-626-8115 or www.maineindoorair.org/residential-construction-trainings/

Sebago Lakes Region Chamber announces the Frank Koenig - Business Person of the Year for 2019

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Meeting in January at Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine.  There they announced the 2019 Frank Koenig – Businessperson of the Year recipient, Charles Hawkins.  “Will” as he is commonly known by many, is the owner of Maine’s Alternative Caring and the newly opened Bio Organic Market and Juice Bar both in Windham. He is heavily involved in the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber, local community giving and the Windham political scene. Congratulations to Mr. Hawkins on a much-deserved award.

About the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce: The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, representing the towns of Casco, Gray, Limerick, Limington, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish and Windham, is one of the most active chambers in the State of Maine. It is comprised of business members ranging from young entrepreneurs and ‘mom & pop’ shops to the largest employers in our region.

For more information contact Robin Mullins, Executive Director, at director@sebagolakeschamber.com or 207-892-8265.

REAL ID public forum provided an opportunity for questions and answers

By Lorraine Glowczak

Last Thursday evening, February 12, the Windham Delegation consisting of Sen. Bill Diamond, Rep. Patrick Corey and Rep. Mark Bryant invited Secretary of State Matt Dunlap to Windham Town Hall to educate area residents and clarify some confusion surrounding the REAL ID Driver’s License.

With a deadline of 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.

Sec. Dunlap explained the concept surrounding the REAL ID was to establish a uniform standard of identification across the U.S. The question and answer session provided more clarification on the following:

1)    You are not required to obtain a REAL ID unless you do not have a passport and plan to board a commercial flight or visit a secure federal building. A current Maine driver’s license is all you need (and a REAL ID is NOT REQUIRED) for the following: to drive, to vote or register to vote, to apply for or receive federal benefits, to make financial transactions, to rent a vehicle, to enter a federal facility that does not require an ID (such as the U.S. Post Office), to purchase alcohol or tobacco or to access health services.
2)     A child under the age of 18 is not required to have a REAL ID when flying with an adult who has one.

3)     The REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards can be obtained now with a deadline of October 1, 2020 if you plan to board a commercial airline or enter a federal secure building. Again, you do not need to obtain a REAL ID if you have a passport.

To apply for a REAL ID driver’s license or identification cards, you must do so in person at a Bureau of Motor Vehicle branch office in order to process your initial application. You will need a proof of identification, a valid Social Security Number (or proof of eligibility) as well as proof of U.S. status and Maine residency.

Some forms of documentation needed includes the following: One original document to include a certified copy of a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, certificate of naturalization, social security card, W-2 Form, or pay stub. To prove Maine residency, two documents are required and they include: Property tax bill or deed, Maine vehicle registration, utility bill, financial statement, tax return, or Maine hunting/fishing license.

For a full list of documents that can be used for identity, lawful status in the U.S. and proof of Maine residency or for more information, contact the BMV at 207-624-9000 or peruse the website at www.maine.gov/realid.

Windham Town Councilors tour public safety building and town hall before council workshop

By Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Town Council met on Tuesday, February 18 at the Windham Town Council Chamber Room at 6:30 p.m. for their biweekly workshop meeting. Prior to the scheduled gathering, Council Members Nick Kalogerakis, David Nadeau, David Douglass, Tim Nangle, Jarrod Maxfield and Town Manager, Barry Tibbetts toured the public safety building and town hall, beginning at 5 p.m. The purpose of the tour was to investigate and see where current issues and challenges exist in both facilities.

Police Chief Kevin Schofield and Fire Chief Brent Libby led tours at the public safety building, while
Police Chief Kevin Schofield speaks to Councilors
Nick Kalogerakis, Tim Nangle and Jarrod Maxfield
Tibbetts provided the tour at Town Hall. Areas of concern and needs for improvement identified for both facilities included, but were not limited to, the following:

Poor or non-existent insulation in sections of the buildings.
Poor sleeping quarters for overnight fire and EMS staff.
Elevators and restrooms do not meet ADA standards.
Locker rooms overcrowded and inadequate showers for emergency staff
Inadequate kitchen facilities
Office space inadequate for optimum staff efficiency
Lack of workspace
Heating and cooling systems inefficiencies (with up to 20-degree differences in office spaces – often requiring space heaters).
Very limited closet storage (using stairwells as closets).
Lack of training and conference room space.
Improper circulation in IT rooms.

Upon completion of the tour, the Council returned to the Chamber Room for their workshop. The first topic of discussion focused on fees for town services, comparing the town’s scheduled fees (i.e. town permit fees, assessing fees, food service establishments with liquor license fees, etc.) to other surrounding towns. The purpose was to identify where such fees may be lacking in comparison and may need to be considered for an increase. Of those identified as potential fee increases included the code enforcement office, of which will be discussed, and possibly voted on, at the Tuesday, February 25 Council meeting.

The second topic of discussion was building space and renovation based upon past assessment studies and space needs analysis that occurred in 2013 and 2014 (of which was also identified during the tour). Tibbetts offered the following recommendations and timelines:

Town Hall and Public Safety Building (central location) to be renovated in order to rectify some of the issues mentioned above - with a timeline of work during the years 2020 and 2021.

It was suggested that The North Windham Fire station, Windham Resource Center and Loan Closet may require more studies and analysis. Suggested timeline for possible improvement is in the years 2023 and 2024

The new Community Center specifics and timeline to be determined.

Suggested funding options for the Town Hall and Public Safety renovations include debt retirement (i.e. road bond, etc.), new revenue permit fees, capitol improvement program, police and fire impact fees and existing budget.

Council members were all in agreement to the suggested renovations and improvements and discussion for implementation will continue in the next couple of months.

To learn more about these agenda topics and other issues discussed at this Council workshop 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.

February 14, 2020

Riding To The Top to host research study on the benefits of Therapeutic Riding

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (CU Anschutz) in Aurora, Colorado, in collaboration with the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, has been awarded a $2.5 million grant to study why therapeutic horseback riding benefits children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), particularly children who have co-occurring psychiatric diagnoses. 

A previous study by Principal Investigator Robin Gabriels, PsyD, a CU Anschutz researcher and
Children’s Hospital Colorado psychologist, showed that a 10-week therapeutic horseback riding intervention reduced irritability and hyperactivity while improving the social and communication skills of youth diagnosed with ASD. To learn why, Gabriels is now teaming up with MMCRI Faculty Scientist Mathew Siegel, M.D., the study’s co-investigator and leader of the Autism and Developmental Disorders Service of Maine Behavioral Healthcare.

 “This study is exciting because it’s not often we have a chance to try to understand why something works,” Siegel said. “Learning why will hopefully help us create other interventions that could address challenges that children with ASD face.”
The five-year-study is the largest of its kind and will include roughly 142 children between the ages of six and 16 with ASD. 

The Maine connection
The Maine portion of the study will be conducted at Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT) in Windham, a PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) Premier Accredited Center providing year round equine assisted activities and therapies for people with disabilities. The research will begin this summer at Riding To The Top.  After going through an eligibility screening at MMCRI, children will be randomly assigned to the therapeutic horseback riding group or a barn group (non-riding) for 10-week interventions. Both groups will wear heart rate monitors and wrist bands that record changes in electrodermal activity during each visit. Saliva samples will also be taken before and 20 minutes after the interventions to measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Sarah Bronson, PT, Executive Director at RTT said “We are honored be involved in this groundbreaking research. It will provide essential data as to the specific physiological changes that occur during therapeutic riding lending further understanding about the impact of therapeutic riding on social and emotional regulation.” Bronson noted that they are in the process of recruiting volunteers to assist with the research.

Reducing medication use and hospital stays
“This current study will focus on looking at the physiological mechanisms that may explain our previously observed benefits of (therapeutic riding), particularly in a high-risk subset of youth with ASD and co-occurring psychiatric diagnoses,” said Gabriels. This study will investigate how therapeutic horseback riding can help these children regulate their emotions, so they don’t overreact in a dangerous manner. Gabriels noted, “If we can show horseback riding is emotionally regulating, perhaps we can reduce the need for so much medication and help keep them out of the hospital.” 
Those interested in potentially participating or volunteering in this study should call RTT at 207-892-2813, X22 and ask to speak to Kate Jeton, Program Director. 
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.  Located in Windham, RTT is the Maine’s only year round PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) Premier Accredited Center solely dedicated to serving people with disabilities through equine assisted activities and therapies. Annually, more than 250 clients participate in programs, assisted by PATH Intl certified instructors, over 250 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.

About the Maine Medical Center Research Institute (MMCRI)
MMCRI is the research arm of Maine Medical Center and seeks to enhance the health of our population through excellence in research across the spectrum of the biomedical and health sciences. For more information, visit http://mmcri.org/ns/

About Maine Behavioral Healthcare
Maine Behavioral Healthcare is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving more than 20,000 children, adolescents and adults at over 30 locations throughout southern, western, and mid-coast Maine, providing a continuum of coordinated mental healthcare from outpatient community offices to inpatient acute care at Spring Harbor Hospital. For more information, please visit mainebehavioralhealthcare.org.

About the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is a world-class medical destination at the forefront of transformative science, medicine, education, and patient care. For more information, visit https://www.cuanschutz.edu/

Raymond Community Garden honored for role in Maine’s Harvest for Hunger Program

By Briana Bizier

If you’ve visited the Raymond Village Library in the summer or fall, you’ve probably noticed the colorful flowers and lush vegetables in the Raymond Community Garden next door to the library. Although the beds are now covered by a blanket of snow, the garden is still being honored for the impact it made last year.

As 2019 drew to a close, the Raymond Village Library received a letter from the Maine Harvest for
Community garden member, Linda Pankewicz
cleans carrots to be donated
Hunger, a program coordinated by University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Last summer, the Raymond Community Garden donated 200 pounds of food to Maine families struggling with hunger.
Raymond’s donations were in good company. According to the Harvest for Hunger website, over 120 farms in the state of Maine donated 193,000 pounds of food.

Every little bit helps,” wrote Pamela Hargest, a Horticulture Professional at the University of Maine. “In total, Cumberland County residents, farmers, community gardeners, business owners, and school staff and students grew and donated over 32,000 pounds of fresh produce this year.”

The Raymond Community Garden is totally organic, and plots are available to all members of the community. Every member of the Raymond Community Garden pledges to plant one row of fruits or vegetables to donate to the Raymond Food Pantry, which is staffed by the Lions Club.

A well-documented national issue is the ability of the poor and food insecure to eat a healthy diet,” explains Sheila Bourque, Director of Raymond Village Library’s Board of Trustees. “The cost of fresh vegetables is often higher than processed food. The garden's donations increase the ability of people to eat a healthier diet.”

I have seen firsthand the difference fresh vegetables make to those who receive them through the food pantry,” Bourque continued. “Boxes are made up by the Lions and people line up an hour before the pantry opens. Those that receive the produce are excited when they come into the food pantry during our short growing season. It is an unexpected and wonderful treat!”

Raymond’s food pantry is open year-round, and donations are welcome at any time. Donations may be dropped off at Lake Region Baptist Church on 1273 Roosevelt Trail.

If you’d like to contribute fresh vegetables during our short and sweet summer, the Raymond Community Garden does have plots available. The community plots are approximately 10 feet by 16 feet, and there is a recommended donation of $15 a plot. The fees cover shared gardening tools and equipment.

Claiming your own garden plot isn’t the only way to get involved with the Community Garden. If you’re intimidated by the thought of taking on an entire garden bed by yourself, the Raymond Community Garden is always looking for volunteers to help weed and water! Contact Leigh Walker at 207-310-0741 or visit the Raymond Village Library to request more information or to reserve your spot.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors provided to help Raymond families

The Raymond Fire Rescue Association has again been busy assisting Raymond families in need.  Following upon a project last year with the Portland Chapter of the American Red Cross to install smoke detectors, the department visited a number of families recently who were physically or financially unable to have carbon monoxide detectors.  

Raymond Fire and Rescue Association has partnered with the Raymond Village Community Church U.C.C. with money from the church’s Lou & Betty Somers Fund to install a number of detectors in Raymond. Thanks as well go to Lowe’s in Windham and the Raymond Lions for their assistance in getting this new and important project underway.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a killer at the top of the list of poisonings in the U.S., with around 400 deaths annually and 20,000 visits to the emergency room. The reason is that CO is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that cannot be detected without a home CO detector.

CO can issue from faulty heating units, generators, and other appliances that depend on hydrocarbon fuels. CO displaces the oxygen in the blood’s hemoglobin and can cause death if a person doesn’t quickly get out of the environment causing the CO. 

Typical symptoms are dizziness, headache, nausea, weakness for no apparent reason. While it can impact everyone including pets, infants, the elderly, and those with underlying medical issues are at especial risk.

CO detectors are available at hardware and home supply stores, and typically cost between $15 to $70, depending on model. These devices typically have a life span of seven to ten years, depending on model, and must be replaced because they become less sensitive to CO after that time period. It is generally recommended to consider those that plug into an AC outlet, but also have battery backup in case of a power failure. 

 If you are unable to afford or install these devices yourself, please call the Raymond Central Fire Station (207 655-1187) ask to be called by the fire prevention officer.

Submitted by Raymond Fire Rescue Association Member John Facella, jafacella@yahoo.com, 978-799-8900

Cookies with Cupid event for Operation: Stop Arm raises more funds than expected

Last Saturday, February 8th, the Operation: Stop Arm hosted another fundraising event entitled “Cookies with Cupid”. The event took place at All About Kids Childcare and Jamie Lippman, owner provided her very generous donation of $5,000.

The Stop Arm Stop Harm organizers publicly thanked Jamie for the largest donation they have received thus far. Per their Facebook page, “Jamie is very passionate about the safety of children in her care. Following in her later mother, Donna Beth Lippman’s footsteps, Jamie aspires to give back and to be involved in the community.”

This event consists of members of the Windham PTA, Raymond PTO and Odyssey Angels to raise awareness surrounding the importance of stopping for a bus with flashing lights and to funds for extended stop arms for school buses.

Will Searway (Cupid), Stop Arm, Stop Harm Organizer Aaron Pieper, Superintendent Chris Howell, Organizer and Windham PTA Ernesta Kennedy, Jamie Lippman, Vincent Zirillo, Sen. Bill Diamond, Dave Bulger, Rep. Mark Bryant, Rep. Patrick Corey came out to support this fundraising event.

Town of Raymond to roll out recruitment incentives for public safety part-time employees and volunteers

By Lorraine Glowczak

Employee and volunteer retention have become challenges for municipalities across the nation, especially in the field of public safety where the service to the towns and cities are needed 24/7.
Raymond is no exception. However, the town has been working on innovative strategies to help address this long-standing problem.

“As a town, although we pay our on-call volunteers a modest amount for their service, over the years increased expectations, particularly in the area of training lead to more turnover and we increasingly had a difficult time retaining volunteer staff,” stated Don Willard, Raymond Town Manager.

Willard further explained that as the years have progressed, more volunteers began working full-time in other public safety organizations, making it more difficult to not only keep those highly qualified individuals but to continue to gain new ones.

Wanting to make a positive change for the town residents, employees as well as the volunteers, Willard worked with Human Resource Officer, Rita Theriault and Fire Chief, Bruce Tupper to find a solution.

To help them develop a successful and well-thought out plan, Willard, Theriault and Tupper reached out to Kari Meillat, Compensation Consultant and an expert in the field of human resources at KMA Consulting in Falmouth. “By focusing on total rewards and developing a comprehensive compensation strategy, companies are able to stand apart and attract and retain top talent,” Meillat states on the KMA Consulting website. “I collaborate with clients to create a custom-fit and equitable compensation program that will help them meet their goals and predict costs.”

With Meillat’s guidance, Raymond has developed the following strategies and incentives that not only positively affect volunteers but for the full-time and part-time public safety employees, as well. They include the following sign-on and retention bonuses:

For any person, that applies as a paid volunteer or part-time employee, they will receive a $500 sign-on bonus that will be dispersed in increments. These increments will be distributed in the following manner:

$100 upon hiring and successfully passing a back-ground check and physical agility test
$100 after successful completion of orientation
$300 after one year of employment/volunteer service, meeting expected standards and with good performance.

Current Raymond full-time and part-time Public Safety employees also get to take part in this incentive program. If an employee refers an individual for a position, and that person is hired and successfully completes the orientation process, that employee will be given a $100 bonus. If the new volunteer/employee remains employed after a year, the current staff will receive an additional $100.

In addition to the financial incentives, paid volunteers will gain access to certain employee’s benefits including: support for related education training, financial and retirement planning, annual bonus plan for above expected performances as well as stress management options.

“We wanted to tackle this problem head-on and we believe we have begun to do so by offering these initial incentives,” Willard said. “As we move forward, we will assess the effectiveness of these strategies and likely implement others from the KMA report and/or other sources to insure we are offering a comprehensive and progressive compensation and employee benefit plan.”

For more information, contact Willard or Theriault at 207-655-4742 or Tupper at 655-1187.

February 6, 2020

Representative Corey announces local projects in Maine DOT work plan

Representative Patrick Corey (R-Windham) is pleased to announce that the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) Work Plan for Calendar Years 2020, 2021 and 2022 is available. The estimated value of work in the plan totals more than $2.59 billion and encompasses 2,051 projects across the state.

The MDOT Work Plan for Windham includes $3.57 million in projects. This includes $2.29 million for Route 202. 

“MDOT Work Plan projects will benefit our local communities in many ways,” said Rep. Corey. “I am pleased to see several MDOT projects scheduled for the next three years in our area. They will make our roads safer and benefit local economies.”

The full work plan, searchable by municipality, is available at the Maine Department of Transportation’s website: https://www.maine.gov/mdot/projects/workplan/search/ .

Rep. Fay’s “Aging Cabinet” bill heard by committee

A bill sponsored by Rep. Jessica Fay, D-Raymond, to ensure cooperation and coordination between government departments when developing policy and providing services to older Mainers was heard Wednesday by the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee.

“Maine is the oldest state in the union, and the population of older Mainers is growing rapidly,” Fay
said. “We need to be as prepared as possible for the demographic changes we are facing. While the Office of Aging and Disability Services housed in the Department of Health and Human Services has increased its focus on issues facing older Mainers, codifying that work to a Cabinet level offers a way to elevate the conversation beyond services provided to planning and allowing for better visibility and interdepartmental collaboration.”

The bill, LD 1733, An Act To Ensure Comprehensive Interdepartmental Planning, Coordination and Collaboration on Aging Policy, would create an “Aging Cabinet.” Based on the same concept as the “Children’s Cabinet,” it would be tasked with promoting interagency cooperation for dealing with the issues faced by older Mainers. It would consist of representatives of multiple departments and agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor, the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management and the Maine State Housing Authority.

In her testimony before the Committee, Jess Maurer, executive director of the Maine Council on Aging, said “as we enter this new era of longevity, it is time to be more intentional and thoughtful about promoting and supporting vigorous interdepartmental collaboration and coordination…”
The State and Local Government Committee will hold a vote on the bill on Feb. 5 before facing further votes in the House and Senate.

Fay, who represents part of Casco, part of Poland and part of Raymond, is in her second term in the
House.  She serves on the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee. She is also the House co-chair of the bipartisan Legislative Caucus on Aging.

Reliable, high-speed internet should not be a luxury

By Sen. Bill Diamond

At this point, it is hard to deny that the internet is central to everything we do. It helps us stay in touch with one another, stay up to date with goings-on around the world, and so much more. And as the internet has become more and more a part of daily life, it has also become more and more a part of our economy.

That’s why it has become a problem that Maine ranks last in New England in terms of access to
reliable, high-speed internet. It’s not just that we can’t watch videos on YouTube or update our Facebook pages with the frequency of our more urban counterparts. Substandard internet access means that there are parts of the state where kids have to do their homework in library parking lots, where businesses aren’t able to stay in touch with customers or vendors and lose their edge against better-connected competitors, and where businesses decide not to invest. Continuing to fall behind on this important metric would be an economic disaster.

In this day and age, high-speed, reliable internet should not be a luxury. That’s why the Legislature is working on a solution to expand high-speed internet access across the state, to make sure that even in the most rural parts of Maine, homes and businesses can be plugged in to the web.

We started to work on this problem last year. My colleague Erin Herbig, D-Waldo, introduced a bond proposal to fund investments in high-speed internet across the state. The $20 million bond would have been a sensible investment, but unfortunately, it did not get the two-thirds support needed in the Senate to be sent to the voters for consideration. In fact, it only missed the mark by one vote. The Legislature did manage to increase funding for the ConnectME Authority, which is in charge of administering funds to expand internet access, in the biennial budget, but for only about $1 million per year.

This session, Sen. Herbig introduced a new bill that would provide $15 million in funding, but instead of borrowing it in the form of a bond, it would be paid for within the existing budget. This tightened-up approach should still provide the funds needed, and if this new funding becomes available, it could be a big opportunity for our area.

The ConnectME Authority recently released its 2020 Broadband Action plan, which included a list of towns in Maine that it identified as being ready for internet upgrades. This list includes Windham, Raymond and Standish. With funding from the Legislature, ConnectME would like to provide grants to these towns that, along with private investments and possibly federal and municipal funding, would finance expanded access to high-speed, reliable internet. To read the full report, visit: www.maine.gov/connectme/.

I’m hopeful that we will be able to make this needed investment in our economic future.

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.

$1,500 Joseph A. DiPietro Scholarship application now available

The deadline to apply for the Joseph A. DiPietro Scholarship is March 15. The scholarship serves students in communities served by the Portland Water District who are pursuing a career that is applicable to the water/wastewater industry (e.g., water/wastewater treatment technology, HVAC, electrical, automation technology, instrumentation, plumbing, pipefitting, fire science, environmental studies, applied sciences, engineering, public administration).

The Joseph A. DiPietro Scholarship was established in 2003 in memory of respected businessman and longtime Portland Water District Trustee, Joe DiPietro. 

To apply or for more information on eligibility and criteria, visit WWW.PWD.ORG. 

Windham Town Council places temporary moratorium on marijuana cultivation facilities

By Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Town Council met on Tuesday, February 4 at the Windham Town Council Chamber Room at 6:30 p.m. The first item on the agenda, presented by the town attorney, was the discussion and possible decision on the Marijuana Licensing Ordinance Proposal based upon the previous Council meeting discussion on January 27th. The attorney addressed the revisions that were implemented from that meeting. 

Discussions included the selection process of Adult Use Retail Stores that includes a point system, specifically how that point system will be applied and how it can be put into practice. Other issues of the proposal included establishing an education fee to be set aside in order to support any educational opportunities

Concerns and issues debated included, but were not limited to the following:
1) How the point system may be weighted for those who have owned previous retail use stores, eliminating possibility of new business owners.
2) Criminal violations and whether it should be included after 10 years of violation, in and out of state.
3) The continued concern regarding youth exposure to cannabis.

After approximately two hours of discussion, it was decided to declare an emergency moratorium because “the Code of Ordinances is insufficient to prevent serious environmental and public harm that could be caused by the location of new or expanded Marijuana Cultivation Facilities within the Town, thereby necessitating a moratorium to provide an opportunity for the Town to review and amend its Ordinances to mitigate the potential impact and harm of such uses.”

Council Member, Rebecca Cummings pointed out that to have waited to address these issues prior to accepting medical care facilities in the town would have made the town more prepared to sufficiently tackle the above concerns, specifically as it relates to public harm.

Council member, Dave Nadeau made the motion to suspend the rules to look at the ordinance regarding marijuana cultivation facilities. Seconded by Rebecca Cummings. An emergency moratorium passed unanimously.

“This is being done as an emergency to create action plan and to hold a public hearing within 60 days,” explained Interim Town Manager, Barry Tibbits. “Once the proposal is approved – if it is approved - the moratorium will go away. This only acts as a pause button.”

As a Commercial Real Estate Broker and a Windham Economic Development Corporation Board Member, Larry Eliason shared his concern that a moratorium affects a tenant’s rights to lease its commercial property. He also shared his concern that the Council is targeting one industry. “If we had nine breweries? Would that be of a concern?”

The Town of Windham currently has the following cannabis businesses, in terms of “Project Type” within the city limits:

15 Commercial medical grow facilities
19 Commercial grow/medical retail storefront/facilities
2 Pending applications
For a detailed list of commercial cannabis properties, contact your town council representative.

To learn more about this topic and 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.