March 28, 2020

Legislature’s COVID-19 response

By Rep. Mark Bryant

In the last two weeks, we’ve seen confirmed cases of coronavirus rise quickly in Maine, many of them here in Cumberland County. I know that we are all watching the unfolding news of COVID-19 with a mixture of uncertainty and anxiety. Whether it’s worry about public health and safety, concern about childcare and schools or determining how our workplaces may be changing and what effect that has on our economic well being, I want you to know that you are not in this alone.

Governor Mills’ Office and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) have been proactively preparing to respond to the coronavirus since December. We all need to work together to minimize exposure and follow best practices. The Legislature has been working closely with the Governor’s Office and the Maine CDC to respond to this global outbreak.

Last week, my colleagues and I met to end our Legislative Session early as a result of the COVID-19 situation. But before we left Augusta, we passed emergency legislation to help the state effectively and compassionately respond to COVID-19.

We established a consumer loan guarantee program through FAME, in partnership with financial institutions, to provide low- or no- interest loans for eligible people in Maine. We authorized Gov. Mills to determine and direct the manner of the June 2020 elections, giving us all more flexibility in these trying times. We temporarily expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19. And we increased the Department of Education’s ability to waive certain school-day requirements and to continue school lunch programs for all eligible children – lots of kids in our community get their meals from school, it’s so important that we make sure our children still have access to adequate nutrition.

The legislation further authorized Gov. Mills to adjust state, county and municipal government deadlines and to permit additional flexibility for municipal and school board budgets. We made it possible for all public entities to meet by remote participation, in keeping with social distancing recommendations. The Maine Emergency Medical Services’ Board and staff were given greater leeway in taking actions quickly and with less red tape so that they can respond effectively as the situation develops. The legislation also authorized Gov. Mills to prohibit terminating residential electric and water service during this emergency. And it delayed the effective date of the single-use plastic bag can to January 15, 2021. 

In addition to the actions taken by the Legislature, early this week Gov. Janet Mills has taken a number of actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Maine. Most notably, she proclaimed a state of civil emergency that brings Maine to highest alert and allows Gov. Mills to deploy all available state resources to protect the health and safety of Maine people. It also gives Maine more access to critical federal aid to boost response efforts. At this time, Gov. Mills is also mandating that all non-essential businesses and operations in Maine close their physical locations that are public facing, meaning those that allow customer, vendor or other in-person contact. Dine-in facilities are practicing curbside takeout or delivery, schools have shifted to remote learning and gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. While these are certainly big changes for our daily life, they are critical to keeping us healthy.

These are trying times, but I know the residents of Windham are resilient and will overcome. My promise to you is that, across Maine’s government, the health, safety and welfare of Maine people is our top priority. Please don't hesitate to reach out at if there is anything we can do to help.

Rep. Bryant is serving in the Maine House of Representatives, representing part of Windham in House District 24. He is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation and the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government.

March 27, 2020

Coping with COVID-19

By Rep. Jessica Fay

A lot has happened since Maine’s first case of COVID-19 was announced on March 12. People from across the state have sprung into action. We have quickly adapted to protect public health, from temporarily closing schools and businesses to moving to remote work, practicing social distancing and not conducting any business that isn’t essential. I am grateful and proud for the consideration and support we are providing each other, and wanted to provide some additional insight and resources.

Our small businesses are especially vulnerable right now. Our local economy is driven by our small
businesses, so I want to stress some resources available to our local businesses and the folks they employ. The US Small Business Administration is offering Maine more access to Economic Impact Disaster Loans. Businesses can check eligibility and apply online. As part of our efforts to make unemployment insurance benefits more accessible, employers can use a Maine Department of Labor program called Workshare to make sure their employees get partial unemployment benefits if their hours are reduced. Plus, we’ve made more consumer loans available at low-to-no interest with the help of Maine lenders.

Beyond these resources, I have been astounded at the creativity many of our small businesses have shown by shifting to delivering their goods or providing services digitally to avoid closing. I’ve also been touched by community members buying gift cards to local shops and finding other ways to support our business community. We are all in this together, and I’m so grateful for the kindness I’m seeing.

Another group that is at risk is our older residents. We have likely all heard by now that COVID-19 is more easily contracted by seniors, and that the virus takes a larger toll on those individuals. For that reason, I ask all in our community to reach out to the seniors in our lives to offer assistance in running errands and connecting with resources. I am grateful to the many grocery stores that have opened up special senior shopping hours and to the youth in our community making calls to our aging neighbors to provide companionship and keep their social connections from fraying. I am also happy to connect any seniors with additional support.

Our region is heavily dependent on recreational visitors, and I know many of us are worried about how the ongoing COVID-19 situation may affect our tourism industry. In addition to the supports we have already put in place for small businesses and employers, I am pushing for further guidance and policies from the administration to address the specific needs of this sector.

The prime reason for all those visitors is that we are blessed to live in one of the most beautiful places I know of.  As we spend more time socially distancing, I want to remind people that this does not mean social isolation, and it certainly doesn’t mean staying inside. I encourage you to be outside, enjoying the beauty of where we live, while still staying six feet apart from those around you. Visit one of Maine’s many trails, take a walk in the woods or go fishing! Until April 30, the state has waived the need to have a recreational fishing license to fish in the inland waters of Maine. Expired registrations for boats, all-terrain vehicles and cars have also been extended until 30 days after this public health crisis ends. We hope these steps will help you get around and get outside.

Finally, if you have questions or concerns about COVID-19, the Maine CDC has set up a hotline that is available by calling 211 or 866-811-5695. It can also be reached by texting your zip code to 207-898-211 or emailing And of course, please use me as a resource. While the Legislature has adjourned, I and my staff are still here to serve. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me at if there is anything we can do to help.

 Fay is serving her second term in the Maine Legislature and represents parts of Casco, Poland and Raymond. She serves on the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.

Town of Raymond initiates “Phone Tree” to prevent feelings of isolation

By Lorraine Glowczak

Terms such as “social distancing,” “self-quarantine”, and “flattening the curve” have become mainstream vernaculars in our everyday vocabulary since the onset of the COVID-19 virus.

However, whether one is quarantined due to suspected exposure, as a result of being in a high-risk category, or simply remaining at home to help prevent the spread of infection, some may find themselves unprepared for the feelings of loneliness and isolation that may follow. Those who may be hardest hit with the solitude factor are those who live in rural areas and belong to an aging population.

To prevent the possibility of loneliness among the elderly and shut ins in Raymond, the town has
instigated a phone tree initiative to check in during these very unusual times.

“Although social distancing is a necessary response to the coronavirus, it has the added effect of social-isolation,” remarked Raymond Town Manager, Don Willard. “We are very concerned about the elderly in our town – especially those who do not have the ability to get out of the house. We want to be proactive by checking in on our residents who are considered our most vulnerable population.”
The concept of the phone tree was a group effort between Willard, Rep. Jess Fay and Deputy Chief of Emergency Services and Health Officer, Cathy Gosselin.

“As I started to recognize the guidance we were receiving in our legislative sessions regarding steps to take [resulting from COVID-19], it occurred to me through my association with Raymond’s Age Friendly community that there are at-risk folks in town,” stated Rep. Fay. “But I wasn’t sure how we could reach out to these people.”

From there, Rep. Fay contacted Willard and Gosselin, whose office holds the data on individuals identified in the group where concern is greatest. The three officials met to discuss a variety of options and the concept of the phone tree emerged. Gosselin became the administrator of this newly and quickly developed program, forming a list of people who live in Raymond and are over the age of 60.

“Approximately 600 people were identified as being over the age of 60,” stated Gosselin. “We then broke the list of people down into 12 separate lists. We have 12 volunteers helping us to make calls so that is about 50 calls per volunteer.”

So far, the initiative is proving successful and those who are being called upon appreciate the fact that someone is concerned enough to check in on them. “Some people have indicated that they are fine and no longer need us to call but some have asked us to keep in touch on a regular basis,” explained Rep. Fay. “So, we call every three days or so to keep in regular contact, making sure all their needs are met.”

Rep. Fay also said that she gets just as much out of volunteering with this phone tree initiative as she hopes it helps others. “I really enjoy talking with people, listening to their stories and helping them connect to resources they might need. I simply love helping others.”

The Maine Council on Aging is also working diligently on the same issue, making sure the elderly are being assisted in a multitude of ways. They advise making calls to your elderly neighbors and shut ins. Rep. Fay uses their advice when she makes her calls. “Instead of asking, ‘I’m going to the store, do you need anything?’ the Council advises you to ask, ‘I am going to CVS/Hannaford/etc…what can I pick up for you?’ Most people do not want to bother others, so by rephrasing the question slightly, it opens the door to a more authentic answer if they really do need something.”

Gosselin reiterated that most people have appreciated receiving the phone calls. “They enjoy knowing that someone really cares about them.”

Willard agreed, adding, “That’s what living in a small town is all about.”

March 24, 2020

Backpack Program provides help while schools are closed

By Matt Pascarella

We are in uncertain times. And for some families, that might mean they need a little extra help. The Backpack Program, which is available to students who receive free or reduced lunch (when school is in session) is now open to all families who have children in RSU14. Families do not need to be current or past recipients of the Backpack Program; during this time, all families are welcome. Organizers have even been delivering to families who do not have transportation or are quarantined.

This initiative is currently being funded through Backpack Program funds and using that money to purchase food. Program Director Marge Govoni, Chef Ryan Roderick and Director of School Nutrition, Jeanne Reilly have been working hard to make sure these bags are available to those that need them.

The bags ideally feed a family of four and are being supplemented with food left over from when school closed. A bag contains: milk cartons, fruits, vegetables, peanut butter, pasta, granola bars, canned fruit and other perishable items.

Families may pick up bags twice a week during this school closure. Police presence and maintenance staff will be on hand. Bags can be picked up at:

Windham Middle School, Auxiliary Gym Lobby – Tuesdays and Fridays 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Raymond Elementary School, Main Entrance – Tuesdays & Fridays 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

In order to practice social distancing, bags are placed in one area of the main entrance, when a family is seen approaching, they can grab the bag with little to no contact made during pickup.

If a family’s income has been impacted by COVID-19, and you would like your child to receive free or reduced school meals, they are encouraged to fill out an application, by logging onto  If you prefer a paper copy, the office will be happy to mail you a copy if you contact them.

If you qualify, when school is back in session, your child(ren) will be able to receive school meals every school day.

Any family who is unable to come to a pickup site may contact the school Nutrition Director at or call 207-892-1800 extension 2012.  They have district volunteers who can deliver as needed.

“The program has provided much needed relief for families,” Roderick began. “It has helped in ways that may not be so obvious [such as] the comfort and familiarity that a carton of chocolate milk or cup of applesauce can provide goes beyond nutrition. These meals can even help bring a sense of normalcy to this otherwise unprecedented situation. The outpouring of volunteer support from our own district staff and beyond has just validated my belief that we are so fortunate to work and live in a community that cares for one another and treats everybody like family.”

Reilly added that it is their plan to continue providing this twice per week pick up throughout this time of school closure. “It is our goal that no child goes hungry during this time,” she said. “We are planning to apply for several grants and to have a fund-raising campaign in order to continue to fund our effort.”

March 20, 2020

Student of the week: Kylie Gervais

Kylie Gervais, a ten-year-old fourth-grade student at Raymond Elementary School, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Gervais’ favorite subjects are science and social studies, and she enjoys archery, softball and horseback riding in her spare time.

“Kylie comes to class everyday ready to learn,” stated her teacher, Mrs. Brackett. “She is very bright and a hard worker. Kylie works well independently and offers thoughtful insights to classroom discussions. She is also very creative and artistic. One of Kylie’s greatest qualities is her ability to persevere and overcome anything that gets in her way."

Her family consists of her mom, dad, her brother Nolan, her sister Mackenzie, one dog, two cats and one hamster.

A reminder from the Portland Water District

With the increased attention on disinfection practices and short supplies of toilet paper during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Portland Water District reminds the public to flush only toilet paper and human waste. Materials not meant to be flushed down a toilet like baby wipes, cleaning wipes, paper towels, rags, dental floss, etc., clog wastewater pumps and systems.

“Our resources will likely be strained over the weeks ahead, and I hope our customers will be careful about what they flush.  We are working to keep our systems operating and the extra burden caused by these materials will make that job much more difficult,” stated Scott Firmin, director of wastewater services.

Clogged pumps create unnecessary expenses, they also can have a negative impact on the environment and expose workers to dangerous situations. For the health of our environment, the public, and wastewater workers, we’d like to remind everyone to please only flush toilet paper and human waste.

Don’t flush wipes, they clog pipes and plug pumps. Even wipes labeled flushable are questionable and can cause problems binding with other materials and not breaking down in time to make it through equipment. A better option is to place the materials in a covered container or bag and disposed in the trash.

An important legislative update

By Senator Bill Diamond

On Tuesday March 17, the Maine Legislature temporarily adjourned to do our part to reduce the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Mitigating this public health crisis is about all of us doing our part to keep our friends, family and neighbors healthy. However, before we adjourned, lawmakers passed a supplemental budget that will keep our state running in the Legislature’s absence.

Here’s an overview of what Maine has done to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak:

Created the COVID-19 response fund so the governor can respond to the pandemic while the Legislature is out of session

Expanded unemployment benefits so Mainers aren’t left in the lurch if their job or income is harmed by the COVID-19 outbreak

Ensured that children who rely on free and reduced lunch can continue to get meals while school is closed

Worked with the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide emergency disaster loans to small businesses impacted by this pandemic

While the State House will be closed until March 30, I want to assure you that staff in my office will continue to work remotely to answer questions and keep you updated on Maine’s response to COVID-19. You can email them at In fact, I will do my best to send weekly updates on what is going on with COVID-19 in Maine, how you can protect your own health and helpful resources.

These are uncertain times, and I know that can be unsettling for many people. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions, concerns or need more information at or (207) 650-4713

Our top priority: Responding to the coronavirus
Our number one priority before adjourning for the year was making sure that Maine could effectively respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. We’ve seen what happens when states take action and when they don’t. It is our job to do everything we can to support our constituents through these trying times.
This list of emergency legislation includes two measures specifically targeting the COVID-19 response. The first measure creates an $11 million COVID-19 fund, which the governor can use in the Legislature's absence. The second bill is the Governor’s COVID-19 Omnibus bill, which will do the following:
Expand unemployment benefits to help workers and businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19
Allow the Department of Education to waive certain school-day requirements and to continue school lunch programs for all eligible kids
Allow remote participation in some municipal meetings
Allow the state to guarantee interest-free loans to Mainers
Streamline the process to allow the Maine Emergency Medical Services’ Board to delegate functions and authority to Maine EMS staff

Are you out of work because of the coronavirus?
Apply for unemployment today.
Today, the Maine Legislature passed legislation to expand unemployment benefits to cover workers harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic in Maine. We’ve also changed the regulations to recognize the unprecedented situation. We’ve waived the one-week waiting period for benefits and the work search requirement for workers who know that they will be returning to the same job at the end of this crisis.
You are now eligible to collect unemployment benefits in the following situations:
An employer temporarily ceases operation due to COVID-19
An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work once the quarantine is over
An individual leaves employment due to risk of exposure or infection
An individual leaves employment to care for a family member
Here is the link to apply:

Small business loans available
In Maine, our economy is powered by small businesses in our downtowns. Over the last few days, I’ve heard from many small businesses worried about how they will economically survive the COVID-19 outbreak. Fortunately, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved Governor Mills’ application for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help Maine businesses overcome any temporary loss of revenue due to the pandemic. Maine is one of the first states in the country to be approved, and Maine small business owners can now begin applying for these loans.
Here is what businesses need to apply:
SBA Disaster Loan Application Account:
IRS Form 4506-T:
Personal financial statement
A schedule of liabilities
A copy of your most recently filed federal income tax return.

Where things stand today

Information and guidelines surrounding the coronavirus pandemic are constantly evolving and being updated. As of Tuesday morning, the Maine CDC had announced 32 cases of COVID-19 in the state. Cases have been identified in Cumberland County, Androscoggin, Lincoln, Knox, Oxford, York and Kennebec counties. However, right now community transmission has only been found in Cumberland County.
On Sunday, Governor Mills declared a state of civil emergency and outlined four major recommendations that will help slow the spread of the coronavirus in Maine. Those recommendations are:
Ending classroom instruction in all public schools as soon as reasonably practical
Postponing all non-urgent medical procedures, elective surgeries, and appointments at hospitals and health care providers across the state
Restricting visitors and all non-essential health care personnel to long-term care facilities except for certain compassionate care situations, such as end of life
Postponing all events with 50 or more people, and all gatherings of more than 10 that include individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as seniors
The governor’s recommendations are in effect until further notice.

Raymond Select Board wait to opt-in on adult-use recreational marijuana

By Lorraine Glowczak

The first agenda item at the Raymond Select Board’s meeting that occurred on Tuesday, March 10th included the consideration of opting-in for the recreational adult-use marijuana program. The agenda item came to the council by the request of Shawn Browdy, CEO and Owner of B & B Cultivation, a medical marijuana store located on 302 in Raymond.

Bruce Reilly
Briefly and according to the letter submitted to the Town of Raymond by Browdy, the State of Maine has finalized the laws and rules for how municipalities may opt-in to allow adult use marijuana businesses, including cultivation, retail stores, product manufacturing and testing labs. In order for a town to allow and issue permits for one or more of these categories of licenses, it must first pass an ordinance voted by the select board or citizens. If a vote of the citizens is chosen, the measure may be placed on the ballot by the select board or by the submission of petitions signed by a specific number of voters.

Browdy, who was scheduled to be the first speaker at the select board meeting, was out of town and thus his associate, Bruce Reilly spoke in his place. “They (B & B Cultivation) have been in business for the past 1 ½ years,” Reilly stated. “They have been successful in building a business for Raymond and for themselves. They have generated many clients by providing friendly and good service in a clean environment. They want to see how the select board will proceed in terms of expanding into the recreational cannabis business.”

Larry McWilliams, who owns Potluck Joint Relief Dispensary and a storefront in Westbrook, also spoke with the Select Board. McWilliams works with B & B Cultivation by providing product. He gave a list of reasons why the Town of Raymond may consider opting in, which included the increase in employment, tax revenue as well as tourism. “It is still in consideration but two to three percent of the sales tax from recreational adult-use facilities may go directly towards municipalities,” he said. “But the fact is, recreational adult-use facilities are coming to Maine, no matter what. In your considerations, think about what this can do to bring revenue to the Town of Raymond.”

Select Board member, Marshall Bullock asked McWilliams, “Do we know where this stands legally in the State of Maine?’ McWilliams explained the laws are changing every day and are not written in stone, yet, but they will be established and solidified soon.

Bullock responded with one of his concerns, “This is still in legal flux - you may have all the faith in the legislature, but we don’t. If they plan to have it implemented by mid-June to meet their (State of Maine) budget by July 1st – then I make the motion that we table this item for 90 days until after the state law is in effect, once the legal kinks have been ironed out. This means we would take a look at this item again in September or October.”

Select Board member, Teresa Sadak seconded the motion.

Select Board member Lawrence Taylor responded to the motion, “If we wait 90 days, we will create zero jobs in this community. It [recreational adult-use] is coming to the state, whether we like it or not. It is the biggest growing money maker. We might as well not even bother if we wait 90 days because other businesses will have the monopoly on it. I will not vote on the motion due to the wait of 90 days.”

Lawrence and Select Board member, Samuel Gifford voted against the motion, Select Board member and Chair, Rolf Olsen, as well as Sadak and Bolluck voted for the motion. The motioned carried and thus, the Town of Raymond will not consider opting in until September or October of 2020.

Public information sessions begin process to provide affordable housing in Windham

By Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham community was invited to two public information sessions regarding affordable housing for Windham residents. These sessions occurred on Tuesday, March 10 at 2 p.m. and again on Thursday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Windham Town Hall Council Chamber rooms. The discussions were led by Chris LaRoche, Executive Director of the Westbrook Housing Authority and Dick Begin of the Westbrook Development Corporation (WDC).

Chris LaRoche and Dick Begin talk to Windham citizens
about affordable housing
First, what many may not realize is WHA is the entity that manages the HUD subsidized Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8 housing) and can offer affordable housing relief in communities that are ten miles beyond the City of Westbrook. This means Windham is on WHA’s radar to assist those in financial need, young and old alike, to live in safe and affordable housing. WHA also manages the properties developed by development partner, the Westbrook Development Corporation (WDC). It is for this reason the two information sessions were offered in order for the two entities to discover what the Windham community’s needs and wants are.

WHA and WDC have been working in collaboration with Age Friendly Windham, the Town of Windham’s Planning Director, Amanda Lessard and Windham Economic Development Corporation Director, Tom Bartell.

“A goal of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan is to encourage and support the efforts of the regional housing coalitions in addressing affordable and workforce housing needs,” Lessard stated. “WDC’s listening sessions last week was a step in addressing that goal. Another of the recommendations of the Comp Plan is to conduct a more formal housing market analysis to learn more about what it would take to make homes in Windham more affordable to those who work in Windham. We haven’t completed a housing assessment since 2003.”

LaRoche stated that as a result of the listening sessions and talking to community members he has a sense there is awareness for the promotion of affordable housing in Windham. “There appears to be a stated need for elderly apartments, home ownership that is designed as neighborhoods with neighborhood amenities versus subdivisions that feel like isolated sprawl, apartments for families as well as preferences for condos and townhouses,” LaRoche said. “There is strong support for these types of housing to be built both in North and South Windham, and that infrastructure such as the proposed sewer system would benefit the town and affordable housing”.

Bartell pointed out that these listening sessions are the first steps in a line of many. “It will take about four to five years before the affordable housing we foresee becomes a reality. We plan to keep moving forward.”
The next step is taking this information back to the Windham Town Council and present the findings at a meeting in the near future. The process of how affordable housing is moved forward will be determined by the direction of the Council.

Until affordable housing becomes a reality in Windham, there are a few options one can consider through WHA and the Housing Voucher Program. “The Voucher Program is for households who are at or below 80% of HUD area median income,” stated LaRoche. “The voucher helps the family pay that amount of rent payment that is above 30% of the household income. For example, 80% of AMI (Area Medium Income) for a family of four in Windham is $74,400 (that is the maximum qualifying income – most are below). Thirty percent of that income is $1836 per month; HUD Fair Market Rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in Cumberland County is $1982; therefore, the difference of $146 per month would be paid by the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) for the family’s rent. About one third of the persons on the HCV program are elderly, one third are disabled persons/families and most disabled households are working, and the remaining working households mostly comprised of single head of households.”

Any person 18 and above can qualify for affordable housing.  However, for elderly affordable housing there are two types of housing, one is for people age 55 and older; the other is for people age 62 plus.

Depending upon the type of property, the present waitlist for this housing is from six to eight months and up to three years. Recessions and economic downturns increase the waitlist timeframes.

For more information about the Westbrook Housing Authority or the Windham Development Corporation, call (207) 854-9779, email at or peruse their website at

March 13, 2020

Student of the week: Sophia Vacchiano

Sophia Vacchiano, an eight-year-old third-grade student at Windham Primary School, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Vacchiano’s favorite subject is reading, and she enjoys drawing and doing crafts and playing legos with her younger siblings.

“Sophia works hard in class,” said her teacher, Mr. Miller. “She helps her classmates and has a great sense of humor.”

Vacchiano’s greatest accomplishment thus far is reading a total of 4,000 minutes and believes that helping each other learn is what makes learning the most fun. She states that Mr. Miller is the person who has meant the most to her educational success.

Her family consists of her mom, dad, her brothers - Dominic and Randall as well as her Meme, aunt, uncle and cousins. She also has a dog and a cat.

Favorite movie: Little Mermaid
Favorite music group:  Country Music
Favorite holiday: Christmas

Windham Legislative Delegation welcomes Windham Primary School Chorus to State House

On Thursday, March 5, Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, Rep. Mark Bryant, D-Windham, and Rep. Patrick Corey, R-Windham, welcomed a group of third grade singers from the Windham Primary School Chorus to the State House. The Chorus sang the National Anthem in the House at the beginning of the day’s session and took the picture below afterward.

“Hooked On Fishing” Ice Fishing Derby winners announced

Over 200 excited junior ice fishermen ascended onto Range Pond State Park Saturday, March 7th, for the Kittery Trading Post's "Hooked On Fishing" Ice Fishing Derby hosted by the Sebago Lake Rotary Club. 

Allyssa DiShan of Gorham is this year’s winner of the lifetime fishing license sponsored by the Sebago Lake Rotary Club and awarded at the Derby. As Chase and Cole Hopkins take instruction from their grandfather, Gary Coyne of Falmouth, on how to set their trap for a promising day of ice fishing, Andrew Peterson of Gardiner shows off his catch. 

Allyssa is pictured here with State Park Warden Adam McKay and Slugger. 

RSU14 plans for the future through collaborative effort

By Lanet Hane

Students, parents, teachers, and administrators came together last week for a meal together and an evening of visioning for the future. The group was composed of individuals representing each school in the district and was the first of several conversations that will be taking place in the upcoming months as the district develops its Strategic Plan for the future.

The evening began with three different perspectives on what “Success for All” looks like, followed
by several activities to dive deeper into the complexities that are involved in creating an environment where all students can thrive.

Austin Norcia is one of five students who attended the workshop, and admits he was hesitant at first to attend, but by the end of the evening was glad he chose to participate,  “This workshop made me realize I actually have a voice in my community, one that actually matters and will be heard.”
Tedi Hassapelis, a Windham High School Junior, agreed with this sentiment, “It was a very eye-opening experience and I am very grateful to have been invited. I was pleased to find that everybody was very accepting and willing to hear the opinions of others, including myself and other students. I have a greater understanding of what success for all truly means and I'm proud to have such an amazing community. Truly a memorable experience with consideration for all perspectives of the district.”

To sum up the evening, groups were tasked with creating their picture of a graduate and everything that might include.

The next step of the process includes developing focus groups to consider the ideas and thoughts discussed in the workshop, with several more steps before an initial Strategic Plan is developed. The district hopes to have a plan drafted before the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

WMS continues to seek donations for Student Assistance Program as homelessness rises

By Lorraine Glowczak

This year, Windham Middle School (WMS) has experienced the greatest number of students identified as homeless. As with any displaced population, these students do not have their basic needs met and, as a result, struggle to find success at school. In addition to food insecurity, students’ ability to succeed is challenged as a result of inadequate childcare, lack of access to health care, physical health problems and learning delays.

According to the American Psychological Association, poverty and homelessness has a particularly
adverse effect on the academic outcomes of children, especially during early childhood. Chronic stress associated with living in poverty has been shown to adversely affect children’s concentration and memory which may impact their ability to learn. 

While there may be a multitude of reasons for the increase in homelessness, WMS Principal, Drew Patin suspects the limited availability of affordable housing is one of the major contributing factors. “Many families simply cannot afford the rising costs of living, especially as rents increase but incomes do not.”

Patin continued with a story of a family whose rent increased from $1200 to $1500 per month. Unable to afford the $300 monthly addition to their budget, they simply had to move out of their home. “Now, families in these circumstances are finding that it is much cheaper to purchase a motorhome or camper and live in it.”

Although homelessness has risen in the past year in the Windham area, families and individuals without a permanent living arrangement have been a concern at Windham Middle School for the past five or more years. To help these students who experience financial hardships, the Student Assistance Program was established in 2015. Since then, it has expanded in the breadth of specific needs and number of students the program supports. Area businesses and individuals have been diligent in contributing financial donations for the many needed items and has contributed to its success.
But with the rise in homelessness, the need is increasing, and donations are still essential. “The resources made available through the community’s generosity has made a significant impact in the lives of our students and sends the message to them and their families that Windham is a community that cares,” stated Patin.

Financial donations go toward the following items:

·       Daily snacks
·       Clothing, shoes, and basic toiletries (many of our students shower and brush teeth in our school due to their home environments)
·       Food assistance
·       Holiday meals for the family
·       Christmas gifts for students
·       Scholarships to pay for event fees such as school field trips and other extracurricular activities
·       Eye care and health care- Many of our students lack the proper health care and do not have insurance
·       Donations are also used to purchase incentives and rewards for students to recognize their growth in academics or behavior.

 “On a macro level, this program helps to build community through giving time and financial support,” Patin said. “It provides a sense of belonging and is what helps people get up in the morning.”

Patin is also clear where WMS wishes to play a role in their students’ lives. “We can either place blame or find a way to provide assistance – especially to the youth in our community. And we, here at Windham Middle School, have chosen to provide assistance. We want to help our students to succeed.”

Individuals or organizations who wish to make a financial donate to the WMS Student Assistance Program can do so by reaching out to Drew Patin, by phone at 207-892-1820 or by email at The financial donation can support any one of the above list programs or a special request for the donation to go toward one specific item listed above.

Windham Middle School student makes it to statewide National Geographic Geobee

Ewan O'Shea, a sixth grader at Windham Middle School, will be representing Windham at the statewide National Geographic Geobee being held on March 27 in Farmington. He was one of the top 100 qualifiers on the statewide exam. We congratulate Ewan for making it this far and we wish him the best of luck as he competes statewide!

March 6, 2020

Medical bills strain household budgets, and that’s not fair

By Sen. Bill Diamond

Most of us have been in a situation before where we or a loved one is in need of urgent medical care. In those moments, we do what we must in order to get help as quickly as possible. We call an ambulance, or we jump in the car and drive to the emergency room or walk-in clinic, or we ask for help from a bystander. When emergencies happen, time is valuable, and all other concerns are secondary to getting the care or treatment needed to fix the problem.

The very last thing that anyone wants to worry about in these instances is whether their insurance covers the services they are receiving. But unfortunately, that can be a very real concern. A 2017 Health Affairs study found that  one in five inpatient emergency department cases could lead to a bill from an out-of-network provider that was not expected by the patient or that came from an out-of-network provider not chosen by the patient.

In Maine, we have a law that prohibits these so-called “surprise medical bills” for most health care services, but that law does not cover emergency medical services. A 2017 study conducted by the firm Myers Staufer for the Maine DHHS estimated that the average cost of an ambulance ride in Maine is between $370 and $940. Emergency room costs can also add up very quickly. If these services are performed out-of-network, the patient can be left on the hook for most or all of the bill.

A surprise medical bill like that wreaks havoc on a household budget, and that’s just not fair. Mainers work hard to make sure they don’t spend on things they can’t afford and tuck away savings when we taking up a bill this session that would extend Maine’s prohibition on surprise medical bills to cover emergency medical services. An ambulance ride or ER visit is bad enough as it is; people shouldn’t have to worry about going bankrupt to pay for it.
can, but none of us can control when we need emergency medical services. That’s why the Legislature is

We’re also taking up a couple of other bills this session to rein in dubious and unfair medical billing practices. My Senate colleague Ned Claxton, D-Auburn, has introduced a bill that requires medical facilities to provide cost information to patients before they choose what procedures they want and when to schedule them. It also requires facilities to list fees they charge just for patients to walk through the door on patients’ bills instead of lumping them in with necessary medical costs; ensures patients don’t get billed more than six months after a procedure is performed, and requires explanations of fees so patients can make informed choices about their health care.

There is also a bill to cap a person’s out-of-pocket insulin costs at $100. The cost of certain types of this medication have risen substantially in recent years, and those who use it cannot live without it. The state only has the authority to regulate some health plans, but I’m hopeful that the federal government will follow our example. We will thoroughly examine the effects of this bill to make sure it does what we want it to do.  

Another bill we’ll be considering, from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, would establish the Maine Commission on Affordable Health Care, to study and identify the source of high or rising health care costs, improve transparency in the cost of care, protect and pursue justice for patients who have issues with medical bills or care, and develop policy recommendations to lower the cost of health care in Maine.

Most of us work hard for our money, save what we can and stick to a budget. An unexpected or unreasonably high medical bill can strain or break a household budget. That’s not fair, and it’s time we did something about it.

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 It is an honor to serve as your state senator.

Odyssey Angels raise $19,000 to place stop arms on local buses

An assembly was held at WPS to honor and recognize the efforts that the Odyssey Angels have made in collaboration with the Windham PTA and Raymond PTO! 

·        This was a school wide assembly attended by the whole school.
·        Senator Diamond, Representative Bryant, and Representative Corey also attended as well as the Chief of Police and three other officers from the Windham Police Department as well as a representative from the Windham PTA and Raymond PTO.
·        The Odyssey Angels presented RSU 14 Assistant Transportation Director Aaron Grant a check in the amount of $19,000 for the funds that they have raised to purchase the extended stop arms for the buses. 

The angels  have worked hard over the past several months to raise the money needed - and have made the community PROUD!      

Sebago Lake Automotive participates in MSSPA Buy A Bale fundraiser

The Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals (MSSPA) has begun, yet again, their annual “Buy a Bale” fundraising campaign. This year, Sebago Lake Automotive is collaborating with the shelter for horses to help them purchase the much-needed hay.

The Society, which is New England’s largest horse shelter, uses 20,000 bales of hay per year to feed the animals they care for. About half is made from their own hay on the property, with the rest being purchased. Funds raised from the Buy A Bale program pays for making and buying this hay. Each year, their budget for hay is approximately $100,000. 

Many horses who arrive at the facility, located at 279 River Road in Windham, are in need of recovery from abuse and neglect, oftentimes arriving at the shelter starving and in need of nutrition. Currently, there are approximately 40 horses that make their home at MSSPA.

Have you heard of “Pay it forward”? Well, the owners and staff of Sebago Lake Automotive want to “hay it forward’ and do their part in helping to promote the annual “Buy A Bale” fundraising efforts. The company’s goal is to raise $100,000 by June 1st.

Stop in at Sebago Lake Automotive, 847 Roosevelt Trail in Windham with a $5 donation, you earn a chance to win on o f the following:

*Sebago Lake Automotive gift certificate for installation of four new tires.
*Gift certificate for a Shire Shindig party at MSSPA.
*Hand-made scroll saw plaque of Windy River

PLUS, be sure to join MSSPA at Sebago Lake Automotive for two hours of family friendly fun on Saturday, March 28th from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. There will be plenty of horse-themed games and activities, arts and crafts, and the chance to meet an MSSPA horse!

One hundred percent of the financial gifts goes directly to the feeding and care of the equines!

Sen. Diamond welcomes senate pages from Windham to State House

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, welcomed Georgia Nolan and Delia Tomkus of Windham to serve as honorary pages in the Maine Senate. Georgia and Delia are students at Windham Middle School.
Delia Tomkus and Georgia Nolan pose with Sen. Diamond

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

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

Affordable senior housing for Windham

By Rep. Mark Bryant

Growing up, my family was close. Over the course of my childhood, many extended relatives, including my grandmother and paternal grandfather, lived with us as they neared the end of their lives and needed a little extra help. I distinctly remember when I was about six years old, we moved to live with my Aunt Lovina. Her dementia made the daily tasks of living more difficult, and we were lucky that we could help support her during this phase of life.

As I got older, my siblings and I continued to support our parents in the same ways they supported theirs. While I appreciated time spent with my family members, not everyone is able to provide care for their loved ones as they age. Particularly, when times have been tough, and money is running out. That’s when our older neighbors need a little extra help.

It is well known that our state faces the challenge of a large aging population that is outpacing birthrates. Windham is beginning to see this trend impact our community. Ensuring that we have affordable housing for seniors is a crucial step we can take as a town to help ease the burden families and individuals face during this time.

Windham currently has several affordable communities that provide varying degrees of services and support to our aging neighbors. Unfortunately, many of these facilities have long wait lists or have closed their wait lists entirely due to outpaced demand. Supporting facilities that truly provide a sense of belonging and community and that encourage the continuation of the neighborliness we all know and love about Windham is extremely important. have lived in Windham for over 35 years and have seen tremendous support and comradery among our residents. In 2007, when I co-founded the non-profit Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors serving residents of Windham, I witnessed these characteristics firsthand. Oil prices were high, and folks had a hard time getting by. There were many older members of the community living in crisis because they were living on a fixed income that does not fluctuate as living expenses change. The price of gas went up but there wasn’t any more room in the budget to devote to heating their homes. We wanted to find a way to help them get through the red tape in times of emergencies. It’s made a big difference and is a true example of a neighborly venture.

We have always been a town dedicated to helping each other out. It’s important to me that we preserve and capitalize on that energy in Windham as we address the needs of our increasingly aging community.

On March 10th and 12th members of the Westbrook Development Corporation and Westbrook Housing Authority will be visiting Windham to discuss the need for, and possibilities of, improving our affordable housing offerings in Windham. This will be an opportunity for folks to express their concerns and discuss what options Windham has for improving its affordable housing offerings. 

I’m lucky that my three boys have all stayed within a 20-mile radius after leaving home, but I don’t want to have to burden them with caring for my wife and me as we get older. I’m hopeful that our community is up to the task of evolving as our demographics change so that when the time comes, our older folks are well supported.

Rep. Bryant is serving in the Maine House of Representatives, representing part of Windham in House District 24. He is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation and the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government.