April 24, 2020

Area churches continue to provide services and community connections in innovative ways

By Lorraine Glowczak

Margaret Atwood, the well-known Canadian author, recently wrote in “The Guardian” about her own personal adjustments to this recent pandemic and her perspective on attending events remotely. She writes: “These [online events] are multiplying like mice, since talks, festivals, fundraisers and shows that would once have been analogue, with real physical bodies gathered together in celebration and glee, quaffing, chattering, entertaining and applauding, have all been cancelled, and substitutes have had to be devised.”

Meeting remotely has become the norm in almost every life situation these days, including places of
Zoom  video conferencing is one of the many
alternative and innovative ways churches stay connected and
reach out to the greater Windham and Raymond communities.

Area churches are each finding their own unique and innovative alternatives to maintain a sense of community and spiritual fulfillment during the pandemic. In a faith tradition where it is imperative that a community gather in person to experience ritual and fellowship, churches have had to adjust and sail into uncharted practices.

For those who live near or around the Windham Hill United Church of Christ (UCC) located at 140 Windham Center Road, they get a free concert from the church’s Carillon as it produces beautiful song and music produced daily. The bell concerts last approximately one-half hour at various times of the day and the feedback has been positive. Neighbors state it offers a bit of hope and peace during times of uncertainty.

Windham Hill UCC member, Claire Olson-Crocker stated that in addition to providing the Carillon music, members of the church stay connected in many ways. “Our pastor sends out a daily email, with words of inspiration, encouragement and prayer,” she began. “Members check up on each other regularly and offers of help and support have been the norm. At a time when church participation has been waning, in general, it is helpful to point out how much a church community can be a support both during good times and bad. Our church members are a second family to us, always up for anything, whether it be support, socializing or church functions.”

In addition to members making phone calls to one another, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church live-stream their services on Facebook every Sunday at 9 a.m.Our organist comes in during the week and records the music for the weekend on the laptop of a volunteer, Dan Wheeler our Junior Warden who is also our videographer,” explained Rev. Tim Higgins. “We then send out the scripture passages as well as the lyrics for the music on our weekly e-news every Thursday for the coming Sunday. My children come with me on Sunday to help with the readings, therefore three of us make Sunday morning happen. We are all quarantined together therefore, we are safe.”

Rev. Higgins stated that they have reached former members of the church who have relocated to other states.  “I also believe that we are attracting community people who don't normally attend church just by word of mouth. This is all not ideal, but we are keeping the connections to our Church in place and folks know that they are loved and cared for.”

Faith Lutheran Church, Unity Center for Spiritual Growth and Windham Hill UCC all use the Zoom online videoconferencing platform to stay connected as a community of faith.

We like Zoom because it is live, in real time, and enables interaction among participants,” explained Pastor Jane Field of Faith Lutheran Church. “I made the intentional decision from the start that I would not go to the empty sanctuary and be there alone with my computer, leading Sunday worship with that empty space as my background. Instead, I lead from a rocking chair in the living room of my home, with a fireplace, sofa, bookcases and paintings in the background. All of our members are joining these gatherings that include Sunday services, evening prayers and bible studies from their own homes, too, which makes the playing field very level, very warm, and has, ironically, led us to get to know each other even better by seeing each other in our ‘native habitats.’ It has also led to some happy, unexpected moments like the night when we had concluded a compline prayer service and suddenly everyone was lifting up their pets to the computer screen and introducing them to the congregation, or the Sunday after Easter when we could all admire a gorgeous Christmas cactus blooming in a member's kitchen.”

In addition to their Zoom services and prayers, Unity also uses Facebook Live.We are holding our service at the usual time on Sunday and I am able to bring in my music director live and so we do an abbreviated version of in person order of service,” stated Rev. Patricia Bessy of Unity. “Then, after the service, I host a Zoom coffee hour.”

Unity also offers other Facebook Live and Zoom events during the week to provide a continuation of inspiration and connection. Various activities and classes that include a “Faith Lift” gathering, a 30-minute meditation, live inspirational music by the music director and an online book group are options that the community can join to stay connected. “I reach out with a call or text when someone comes into my mind and many of the folks in the community reach out to those they are connected with,” Rev. Bessey said.

Pastor Sally Colegrove shared the Windham Hill UCC’s experience with Zoom and how they approach the present circumstances: “On Sundays we are holding Zoom worship services at 10 a.m. and anyone is welcome to join us. All they just have to do is send me their email address so that I can send them the zoom address and password. The Carillon is rung as a message to our congregation and our neighbors that we are still here, still thinking about them, still maintaining a presence here on Windham Hill even as we move to Zoom gatherings. We are thinking about how we can respond as a congregation to the needs of those around us. We have helped out with a small delivery of fuel oil and are ready to assist if we hear of those who are in need of food. Several of our members, mostly our college young people, have volunteered to do grocery shopping for elders and we have paired up shoppers and those in need. I have been calling the members of the congregation to check in, and many of our folk have also been checking with one another to stay connected.”

Rev. Debra Girard states that North Windham Union Church UCC is strong and resilient. “This is definitely an unusual time in our world,” she said, explaining that their church is using social media to keep in contact with their congregation. “Sunday’s prayers and Sermon are posted on our Facebook account; our website and I send an email. Although we cannot gather together in our traditional way, we continue to be a faith community, just in a different format. We want to thank all the essential workers, nurses, doctors and those who keep our community running. We look forward to the day we are able to gather in our sanctuary.”

Prior to her retirement on Easter Sunday, Rev. Nancy Foran of Raymond Village Community Church also used social media to remain in contact with her congregation. Additionally, she started a YouTube “Little Farm Chats” as a way of keeping in touch with the congregation as COVID-19 closed in.  “They have since morphed into more general reflections,” she said recently. “Now that I’ve retired, Joe [my husband] moved the first four “chats” to a new YouTube channel – ‘Rev. Nancy:  Reflections from Little Farm’”.

For those who are members of the different traditional Christian faith community, hope and trust seems to be the common denominator. “God is in charge and will make something good come of this horrific time for all of us,” stated Rev. Higgins. “God always brings goodness from evil.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/apr/18/margaret-atwoods-lockdown-diary-life-as-an-eccentric-self-isolationist

Brett Jones appointed to fill Windham’s empty town council seat

By Lorraine Glowczak

Brett Jones, who has lived in Windham for twelve years and is a Captain of the Old Orchard Beach Fire Department, was selected to fill the vacant Town Council position at last Tuesday evening’s meeting held on April 14. The unique live Town Council meeting was conducted online via Zoom due to social distancing restraints resulting from COVID-19.

Jones was one of two applicants who applied for the empty seat originally filled by Rebecca Cummings. Cummings resigned from her position as the elected representative of the East District at a Town Council meeting held on February 25, 2020. The term for that position is up this election year.

For those who have closely followed local politics in the past four years, Jones is a familiar name. He was also appointed as a Town Council member in 2017 to fill a vacancy after the death of Council Member Tommy Gleason. Gleason passed away on May 11, 2016 at the age of 67.

“I felt like I started working on certain issues but didn’t get the opportunity to see it to completion,” Jones explained as one of the reasons why he applied to fill in for the empty position for a second time. “Of course, the focus has shifted now due to the COVID-19. Now we need to help the town ‘keep the lights on’ and I want to help to lead us as we come out of this [pandemic].”

Jones stated that his first Town Council experienced offered him an opportunity to gain knowledge as to what it takes to be a council member. “I learned there are certain procedures on how things should be done – that we need to go through “checks and balances”. As a result, reaching a definitive solution to a situation goes much slower than you want. But the process is important in order to consider all the details and facts of a certain issue.”

The two concern most important to Jones are private roads and growth/growth management. He stated that he has built, lived on and maintained a private road in Windham and is currently the president of his road association. Jones has also participated and chaired the town’s private road subcommittee

https://www.davesworld.com/“Private roads have been an issue for a long time. With all my experiences with this matter , I have learned the many do’s and don’ts and I can use those lessons to assist in this long-standing concern.” 

As for the town’s growth and growth management, Jones is looking forward to finding a way to tackle the inadequacies of the town’s infrastructure and sewer. “I own and operate a small farm (Tavern Hill Farm) so protecting farmland and open space and preserving our rural characteristic is very important to me,” he began. “But these things will need to take a back burner for now. We need to adjust our focus for a while since we are moving into unchartered waters of the pandemic. The Council’s first and foremost concern is to keep the town running. We need to help the town’s residents and businesses through this and get to the other side.”

Jones stated that his professional career in emergency management equips him with the experience and knowledge to operate under crisis and difficult situations like the one we face today. “What I have learned is that you always need to plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

When asked if he might consider running for the East District position this fall, he answered, “Yes. It is a very strong possibility.”

April 17, 2020

Director of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust shares family field trip experience

Rachelle Curran Apse, Director of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, shares a family outdoor field trip as part of her kids "homeschool" learning and essential outdoor exercise.

The homeschooling adventure included an outdoor trip to the Black Brook Preserve in Windham and had the whole trail to themselves. “We tried a new scavenger hunt and rolled logs to look for animals (please make sure to roll the logs back),” Apse said. “We found millipedes, centipedes, sowbugs, and the big exciting find was red-backed salamanders (they breathe through their skin so please don't touch them). The migrating birds are coming back so we will add that to our learning next.”

Tobin and Mara Apse observe larve in a decaying tree stump

Bank system commits $20,000 to local food pantries

To answer a growing need for food and sustenance, Maine Community Bank and its divisions, Biddeford Savings and Mechanics Savings, has contributed $20,000 to food pantries in each of their branch communities.

“At a time when schools are closed and unemployment is on the rise, we wanted to ensure that our food pantries are able to continue providing nutritious food to individuals and families in need,” said Jeanne Hulit, President and CEO of Maine Community Bank. “We want our customers and our communities to know that Maine Community Bank is always here to support you, no matter what the circumstances may be.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, food pantries have reported critical needs and increased demands for help.  These issues have surfaced as many are unexpectedly experiencing a reduction or complete loss of income during the current economic crisis. 

The following food pantries each received a $2,000 donation from Maine Community Bank to purchase food and other nonperishable goods: Biddeford Food Pantry in Biddeford, Community Outreach Services in Kennebunk, Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program in Brunswick, Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston, Saco Food Pantry in Saco, St. Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston, Scarborough Food Pantry in Scarborough, Seeds of Hope in Biddeford, Windham Food Pantry and Clothes Closet in Windham, and Waterboro Food Pantry in Waterboro.

Maine Community Bank also joined forces with Maine Bankers Association and 33 other Maine banks to collectively raise $61,000 in less than 8 hours for the #LetsFeedME initiative. The funds were distributed to food pantries in every Maine county.

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

Corey seeking fourth term in Maine House

Rep. Patrick Corey
Patrick Corey (R-Windham) has announced plans to seek a fourth term in the Maine House of Representatives later this year. Corey, known for his willingness to reach across the aisle on conservation, criminal justice, healthcare and budgetary issues, said that the single biggest issue facing the next Legislature will be its ability to adapt and learn from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the COVID-19 outbreak shifted everything,” Corey, who serves on the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, said. “It’s going to change how we prepare our first responders and provide essential equipment for the next invisible enemy. We’ll be bringing even greater focus to our public health system and the frontline workers who’ve been fighting this virus. Moreover, we need to better appreciate the role caregivers and long-term care support workers play in our healthcare system and the challenges they’ve faced during this pandemic.”

Corey added that lawmakers must come together to reboot and rebuild Maine’s economy which has sharply declined in the wake of the virus and may pose the most complex challenge of any facing decision-makers at all levels.

“Our businesses and non-profits here in Windham are hurting, our families are struggling to make ends meet, and people are looking for answers from the Governor and the Legislature. Helping Maine businesses and non-profits restart and rehabilitate must be our top priority over the next two years,” he said. “And it’s going to take creativity, compromise, and a willingness from both parties to define that in ways that truly help people from one end of the state to the other.” 

Corey added that while Maine has been fortunate to have surpluses in recent years and build a $240 million rainy day fund, taxpayers can’t be left behind in the recovery effort if it is going to succeed.
“At the same time, we are going to have to find new ways to stretch every dollar the state takes in, keep more money in taxpayers’ wallets, and live within our means in a post-virus economy. That’s not easy, but I really think we are at a point where Maine must reprioritize and set goals that reflect the changing world we live in,” he said. “We are going to have to mix Democratic, Republican and Independent ideas to make the recovery fast, and we’re going to have to get to work when we go back in January.”

Corey concluded by saying that policymakers are successful when they focus on non-partisan bills that put constituents first.

“A few years ago, a constituent suggested I put a bill in to help family caregivers make ends meet,” he said. “Working on that bill with folks from both parties, with the Department of Health and Human Services, and stakeholders, has been a rewarding experience, and shows that we can do good work when we focus on what’s possible and put people over politics. That’s what’s going to see us through COVID-19 and where the next Legislature must focus its energy. We have to get this right for Maine to turn the corner.”

For more information about Corey or his campaign, contact him at 749-1336 or by email at patrick@coreyforhouse.com.

Modern Woodmen "dared" to raise money for non-profit Helping Paws Maine

Local Modern Woodmen of America representatives raised over $2700 for Helping Paws of Maine, a volunteer organization whose mission is dedicated to saving lives and finding permanent homes for stray, abandoned, and surrendered puppies and dogs. The fraternal financial organization’s unique matching fundraising campaign “25 Dares of Christmas” included outrageous acts such as waxing their armpits, eating raw clams out of a can, eating raw onions like an apple and licking peanut butter off each other’s feet. The event not only raised lots of money but also provided unique entertainment for all those that attended. Although funds were raised in December, the check was donated to Helping Paws in late March.
Left to right: Anne Dione, Tim Graham, Kelley Skinn-Smith,
Betsy Sanders, Zack Conley, and Scott McDonald 

Windham Economic Development Corporation: COVID-19 Disaster Business Loan Fund

The Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) COVID-19 Disaster Business Loan Fund is designed to provide business continuation and recovery funds to existing Windham-based business to assist businesses through these times of economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are two types of COVID-19 Disaster Business Loans: Business Continuation; and Business Restart. While the Fund currently does not have a minimum or maximum loan amount it is expected that the loan amounts will range from $5,000 to $20,000.

The Business Continuation Loan is for existing businesses which have remained open but whose operations have been reduced due to Federal, State, or local mandates in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Business Restart Loan is for existing businesses which have ceased operations due to Federal, State, or local mandates in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and have committed to restarting the business when the mandates are lifted.

“WEDC recognizes the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having and will continue to have on local businesses. We came together with a plan to help local business owners. Local business owners chose Windham as their community and now the community is here to help those businesses.

I want to thank the Windham Economic Development Board for their hard work on putting this plan together. We also want to thank the Windham Town Council and Barry Tibbetts, Town Manager, for providing additional funding for the COVID-19 Disaster Business Loan Fund”, Tom Bartell, Executive Director of WEDC said.

Loan applications will be accepted starting on Monday April 20, 2020 until Friday May 1, 2020. Applications will be processed beginning on Monday May 4, 2020. For more information and to download the application, please go to www.WindhamMaine.us

The completed application and supporting documentation can be emailed to thbartell@windhammaine.us

“Again, our goal is to help Windham business owners with financial assistance to keep their business afloat. Whether you are a sole proprietor, partnership, LLC., or a corporation, please reach out if your business needs financial assistance”, added Bartell.

April 10, 2020

Windham Town Council marches on

By Jarrod Maxfield, Council Chair

This last month has been a whirlwind of change. Our world is different from the one we inhabited just a few weeks ago. Many things have changed, been adapted or stopped all together. It was very sudden. It has created stress, anxiety and questions of what’s next. Thankfully, it has also created opportunities. Opportunities to spend more time with family, to appreciate the little things as important or to exhibit random acts of kindness. We have an opportunity to remember even though things have changed; we are strong, we are community and we will march on.

In that mindset here is an update on the Town Council, where we were and where we are going.
Before our current reality unfolded, we were moving forward positively on many long-term issues such as sewer, development, transportation, cannabis, town infrastructure and more. We were proud to welcome our new Town Manager, Barry Tibbetts, who has been a positive asset to Windham. The Manager’s budget he introduced not only solves problems that have been lingering for years but did so with virtually no, if any, impact to the municipal tax rate.

cstlouis@spurwink.orgTwo issues to highlight that the budget addresses are space needs and roads. As we grow as a town, additional space is needed for staff and services. Our town hall and public safety personnel operateout of buildings designed for a fraction of those who use them now. We must take care of those who take care of us. We also have many miles of public roads that need updating. Long neglected, they have been put into a long-term plan to bring them up to the standard they deserve. This plan started 2 years ago with Brand Rd and the current budget proposes to keep putting funds into these other roads until we are done. It will still be many years before this task is complete, but we have a plan in place for those residents who have long petitioned the town to do something about it.

Many other things that were being worked on are still being worked on. Growth management is at the top of that list. We have heard for years that growth is a concern and residence have been asking for policies to help protect us from explosive and uncontrolled growth. The Long Range Planning Committee has been working with staff diligently behind the scenes to bring forward new recommendations for the Council to consider and enact. While we have been slowed during the last month, we have not been stopped. There can be frustration on how long things take, especially with growth issues, but we are moving forward, and we will not stop.

The next Town Council meeting will be on Tuesday, April 14th at 6:30 p.m. We will be meeting via Zoom and the meeting will be broadcast on our TV station, Town website and Facebook as always. One of our first items will be adopting specific rules of order for an online meeting so they can be efficient and effective.

An important part of meetings has always been public input and that will not be stifled during this time. Although adapted, public participation will be accepted. Here is how you can take part if you like:

The agenda for the meeting is posted on the Town website and Facebook page and available for review. If you see something you would like to comment on or offer feedback, you have multiple ways to do so.
You can email the Council your thoughts on an issue and if you would like, please note you would like the email read into the record during public participation or during that agenda item.

You can join the Zoom meeting via computer or tablet and when the time is offered, speak at the virtual meeting and share your thoughts. If you do not have a computer or tablet, you can also dial into the meeting via telephone.

Please keep in mind we request all statements and correspondence to be stated at 3 minutes or less.
The Zoom meeting information for joining will be posted on the Town Website and Facebook page. Will it be different? Yes. Will it be awkward? Sometimes. Will it be successful? Yes.

These are strange and difficult times but at the end of this we need to look back and say we did what we needed to do, we marched on and we made it through. As my late grandmother would tell me, “This too shall pass”. She was right, it always did. This will too.

In the meantime, stay healthy, stay involved and stay kind.

April 3, 2020

Rep. Fay statement on accelerating the pay raises timeline for personal care workers

Following this week's announcement that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services will accelerate MaineCare rate increases that are designated to support pay raises for personal care workers who care for Maine’s older residents at home, Rep. Jessica Fay, D-Raymond, released the following statement:

“As the House chair of the Commission to Study Long Term Care Workforce Issues, I learned about Maine’s vast need for direct care workers, and about the many ways those workers need support. The number one recommendation of the Commission was to increase reimbursement rates so that providers could pay the caregiving workforce 125% of minimum wage.

“We are not there yet, but this funding is an important bridge for workers on the front lines. I am grateful to Gov. Mills and Commissioner Lambrew for this critically important action to accelerate the rate increase timeline. People who care for Maine’s older adults and people with intellectual and physical disabilities are needed now more than ever in this time of social distancing.”

Today’s announcement made it so starting April 1, 2020, providers will receive rate increases that will allow them to fund pay raises for approximately 20,000 personal care workers, instead of on July 1, 2020 as previously approved by the Legislature.

Fay served as House co-chair on the Legislature’s Commission to Study Long-term Care Workforce Issues. She is also the House chair of the bipartisan Legislative Caucus on Aging, she serves on the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and she represents part of Casco, part of Poland and part of Raymond.

Windham Public Library update

For the safety of staff and the community, Windham Public Library will remain closed through Monday, April 27th but this will be evaluated on an ongoing basis. All library programs and meeting room events have been cancelled through May 2nd. We hope to begin events after that point, but this also will be evaluated. During this time all fines are waived. Material due dates will be extended beyond our re-opening date. Some staff will be working during the closure. Dial 207-892-1908 to speak to staff, or leave a message and we will return your call when we are able. Please visit the Windham Public Library Facebook page daily for our staff’s live feeds, recorded events, shared posts, images, and updates! You can also go to our online resources <www.windham.lib.me.us/online-services> for access to e-books, e-audiobooks, digital comics and magazines, online courses, and many other resources to entertain and inform you during the closure.

Update on Portland Water District services as a result of COVID-19 response

The following is an important list of updated service changes with the Portland Water District:
Water Disconnections:  Disconnection notices and all water disconnections have been suspended on March 16 until further notice.

Late fees:  The Portland Water District has waived water late fees until 30 days after the State of Emergency ends.

Customer Service: The Customer Service Center is closed to the public.  Customer Service Representatives are available to assist the public over the phone at 761-8310.  Payments can still be dropped off at Customer Service in the overnight/lock box outside the door.

Cross Connections Control Program: The testing and reporting requirements of the Cross Connections Control Program have been suspended until further notice.

townmanager@fryeislandtown.orgSebago Lake Land Reserve (SLLR): SLLR daily land access permit requirements have been suspended. The land reserve is still open for use during normal hours of operation.
Facilities: All facilities are closed to non-essential external individuals. All staff who can work remotely are doing so at this time.

Tours: All public tours have been suspended until further notice. 

https://jobs.spectrum.com/Board of Trustees Meetings: The March 23 board meeting was cancelled and rescheduled to a virtual
meeting on April 6. Moving forward, meetings will be held virtually through telephone conferencing until such time as it is safe to resume in person meetings.

Non-essential Water Service Appointments: Hydrant inspections, non-emergency flushing, meter
upgrades, and other non-essential program work has been suspended for at least two to three weeks.

Construction Projects:  Wastewater plant projects and pump station projects are continuing. Water main replacement projects will not start until after April 15th. Main Extensions and New Services (MEANS) are continuing plan reviews, service applications and inspection. The River Road (MDOT project) is continuing. 

Septage: Acceptance of septage to our wastewater facilities is limited to emergency septage and holding waste only through at least April 8th.

Working from home during the coronavirus pandemic

A perfect home office
By Phyllis Moss

Windham Town Employees continue to work amid the coronavirus pandemic – albeit a bit differently and with appropriate social distancing. Although, I as the Human Resources Director, continue to come into Town Hall, there are just a few of us here.

Most employees – apart from Fire, Police, Public Works and Social Services – are working from home. Department Heads check in with these employees often to update them with developments, assign projects and ask about their well-being. Phone calls have been forwarded to these employees and messages come directly to their computers. They respond as they would from the office; they continue to develop programs for their respective departments; and they continue to process tax payments, register cars, issue permits, conduct plan reviews, and more. Although we are not open to the public, there is still a lot to do, and it is getting done!

The Town Manager, Barry Tibbitts meets with Department Heads weekly and emails/talks/zooms with most of us daily. Bids have come in for future work and he reviews those with Council members and employees. He continues to work with all of us on next year’s budget – planning for an uncertain future. Tibbitts continues to network with other Town/City Managers to monitor the current environment. His work continues, and he is getting it done!
Parks and Recreation are working behind the scenes to provide future programs while they also conduct teleconference interviews for summer staff; conduct wellness checks and deliver food to
senior citizens; accept applications for summer camp; patrol our local parks and trails; and send out resource guides to assist seniors in managing at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are getting it done!

Windham Economic Development Corporation is actively pursuing information on the stimulus options recently offered for all businesses. They are available to assist businesses and will be sharing information via the web, email and phone. WEDC continues research on High-Speed Broadband for Windham which is increasing important as people work from home.  And most importantly, working on a revolving loan program for local businesses. They are getting it done!

The Windham Public Library has developed programs for all ages that can be seen on Facebook – such as “Books and Babies”, “Storytime for Grownups” and posting links for older children. They are offering ebooks and eaudiobooks through the CloudLibrary; digital magazines and comics through RB Digital app, and more.   They are working from home and getting it done!

Code Enforcement continues to review plans and issues permits; they are conducting inspections in the field for new construction; and reviewing photos and videos for remodels and alterations.  There is a drop box for permit applications and payments. They are getting it done!

The Planning Department continues to meet via Zoom with the Long-Range Planning Committee, the Development Review team and the Planning Board.  The work continues and they are getting it done.

The Assessing Department is especially busy with the upcoming commitment of taxes and completing inspections.  They are getting it done!

Before COVID-19, I met with my staff each day in person. My 8 a.m. meeting is now a phone meeting (on my hands-free device) while I am driving to work.  My staff and I regularly email to update one another on projects, daily work, etc. They tease me that despite Town offices being closed, there is more work than ever to do. So, the work continues whether we can physically see one another or not and, it is getting done!

As we contend with this pandemic, grant applications and payroll must still be submitted, renewals must still be completed, phones and emails must be answered, roads swept, potholes filled, emergency responders must still respond, etc. The work has not stopped and neither have we.  So, here’s a shout out to ALL Windham Town employees – thanks for all you do and thanks for getting the work done from wherever you are working! And to ALL Windham citizens, if you need us, give us a call.  We’re here to help.

Contact information below:
General Assistance -892-1906                                     
Food Pantry - 892-1931
Code Enforcement - 894-5960 ext. 1                         
Fire-Rescue Dept. (Burn Permits) - 892-1911
Tax Collection  -892-2511                                     
Police Dept.   (Crash Reports, Public Records and - 892-1919                                                                                                                                                              Concealed Weapons Permits)
Town Clerk - 892-1900                                     
Public Works (Drive & Street Openings) - 892-1909           
Planning Dept.   (Applications) - 894-5960 ext. 2                         
 Parks & Recreation - 892-1905
Assessing Dept. - 894-5960 ext. 3                          
Library - 892-1908                 

A lot has changed, but even more has stayed the same: Windham steps up

By Rep. Mark Bryant

For many of us, the days since COVID-19 entered Maine have felt like an alternate reality. As with any transition in life, it’s important that we take some time to reflect on what’s changed, and to remember all the things that have stayed the same.

It seems we fast forwarded even further into the digital age in response to this virus. Our teachers are developing ways to connect with students through online conferencing, videos and emails. Mainers across the state gather around their televisions and computers each weekday at 11:30 a.m. to hear Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of Maine’s CDC, update us on the virus’ spread and our state’s response. And many of us are connecting with friends and family near and far through virtual dinners and gamenights.
Deadlines and processes for some of our most basic actions have shifted. Our state and federal taxes are now not due until July 15, 2020. We’ve been given extensions on drivers licenses, state identification cards, vehicle and boat registrations and more that expire during this time of crisis. And courts are delaying hearings and reducing hours.

Even when we’re outside, it’s all a bit different. While people are encouraged to be outside, they’re also encouraged not to congregate in large groups. To help with that, some of our state parks and beaches have closed. When we go to our favorite restaurants, we stay outside and wait for the staff to come out in their plastic gloves, ready to hand off our orders. And when we go out for a run, we take a six-foot detour around the people we pass.

All of these measures are designed to help keep us safe. In order to successfully fight this pandemic and keep our neighbors, our state and our country healthy, we are being asked to stay home. But for those of us who do not have homes, this poses a significant challenge. As people are laid off and businesses close, maintaining housing is only going to become more challenging. Here in Windham, our work ethic and sense of duty to our neighbors is shining through as we work to provide resources to folks feeling squeezed in light of some of these closures.

RSU 14 has agreed to work with General Assistance and the Windham Food Pantry to get free and reduced meal forms to students who are experiencing homelessness through our very own Backpack Program. This service is crucial to keeping kids healthy and safe during this trying time and helps parents and guardians who are coming up against financial hardship. The Clothes Closet is additionally stepping up to provide free clothing to community members. Medical Loan Closet provides residents with wheelchairs and other equipment for medical and physical needs. The Loan Closet is located on Windham Center Road next to the Library. Now more than ever we need to amplify the values all Windham residents share of community, support and grit so that we can get through this together.

In fact, Mainers across the state are exemplifying these shared values as they rush to sites like Maine Helps to find out where and how they can volunteer. Maine doctors and nurses are coming out of retirement to help our hospital and clinics address patient needs. People all over the state are calling seniors to see if they need errands run or a friendly voice to talk to. Put simply, every one of us is finding a way to help someone else.

So, as we look at all that’s changed, and as we grapple with how to approach this new normal, let’s remember one important thing: We Mainers have a spirit that will get us through anything, and that will never change.

Rep. Bryant is serving 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. Mark.Bryant@legislature.maine.gov