December 31, 2021

Windham Police join volunteers to deliver gifts to older residents

Officers from the Windham Police Department joined
volunteers from Home Instead and nursing home staff to
deliver gifts from the Senior Santa Program to elderly
residents at Ledgewood Manor in Windham on Dec. 21.
More than 775 seniors in Cumberland County received gifts
this Christmas thanks to the generosity of the community.

By Ed Pierce

Members of the Windham Police Department and volunteers from Home Instead of Gorham teamed up to deliver Christmas cheer to senior residents of Windham and Raymond on Dec. 21.

Throughout the holiday season, Home Instead’s “Senior Santa Program” collected gifts at participating locations after setting up special trees at Chute’s Restaurant and Blue Seal Feed Store in Windham decorated with ornaments handmade by local Girl Scouts and featuring area seniors’ first names and gift suggestions and requests.

Participants chose an ornament as a keepsake, then purchased the requested presents and return them unwrapped in a holiday gift bag to the tree’s location with the ornament tag attached.

Program organizers say that the gifts are always needed and appreciated by local seniors. Gifts distributed by police and volunteers this year included knitted or crocheted hats and scarves; plush throws; body creams for dry or sensitive skin; men’s and women’s gloves; snacks (both sugar and sugar-free); 2022 calendars; puzzle books; stationary; stamps; grocery store gift certificates; tissue paper and large sturdy Christmas gift bags.

Kathy Damon, a home care consultant for Home Instead, said that the “Senior Santa Program” delivered gifts to 755 recipients throughout Cumberland County this year, thanks to the generosity of the community and the support of many volunteers.
“For some seniors receiving the gifts they have very modest requests, and the best part of doing this comes when the gifts are delivered to them,” Damon said. “They are just so appreciative and grateful.”

She said that the outpouring of community support for this program continues to amaze her.

“People who do this seem to be over-the-top generous,” she said.

In developing the list of seniors who received gifts this year from the program, Damon said many of the recipients do not have families or are financially strapped. She said gift requests ranged from meals to a warm pair of socks to winter coat and boots and the “Senior Santa Program” did its best to make sure their gift requests were achieved.

The program is open to all seniors in Cumberland County, although they need to be referred through an agency such as Windham’s Ledgewood Manor.

“It’s very heartwarming to know this program is so well received in the community,” she said.

Damon said the “Senior Santa Program” connects some isolated seniors with friends and neighbors who want them to know they are not forgotten during the holiday season.

“I think everyone should take away from this and realize that there are seniors who can be overlooked at this time of year,” she said. “It can be very lonely for people. This program sends the message that there are people in the community who care about them and want to make their holidays brighter.” <

Memorializing Betsey ‘Betty’ Welch

Jordan-Small Middle School students visit the grave of Betsey
'Betty' Welch near Panther Pond in Raymond to place a wreath
for Christmas on her resting site. Front from left are Teagan
Simonsen, Kayla Rodriguez, Summer Bush and Rain Thomas.
Back from left are Lily Jordan, Bailey Ward, Phoebe 
Acosts-Afthim, Isabella Vassoler, and Taelyn Morris.
By Charles Martin

Special to The Windham Eagle

As a teacher you are always trying to find ways to “weave” your interests in with the curriculum that you teach.

For me, local history has always been important to share with my students at Jordan-Small Middle School. When I began introducing local history to the students, I would often get a “Please, no more local history, Mr. Martin!” but after reading a number of stories, students began to take a real interest in local icons from the Raymond area.

One such local person was that of Betsey Welch. After reading about her to my classes, the students decided that it would be nice to find her grave and place a Christmas wreath in memory of her.

The following is the history of Betsey, as written by Ernest Harmon Knight, in his book titled: The Origin and History of Raymondtown (1974).

“The first female born in Raymondtown was Betsey Welch who lived on the neck of land in Panther Pond, which bears the name Betty, which is what she was called in her old age when she was a much-loved person in the town. Her husband, Seth Libby, was afflicted all his life with rheumatism and the full burden of farm and home fell on her.

“Berrying provided a needed item of food in those days and on one occasion during a berrying trip a mile or so from home, killed a woodchuck and also a rattlesnake. With the woodchuck tied to her waist on one side and the rattler hanging on the other side, she returned home with two pails full of berries.

“The woodchuck provided a meal for her and her husband, the fat from the chuck provided oil for the lamp, and the oil (tryed) from the rattler provided liniment for her husband’s affliction.”

“Her grave and stone is located in the Raymond Village Cemetery.” (Page 102)

The inscription on Betsy’s grave reads:

“Betsey Welch Wife of Seth Libby1775-1867 She was the first daughter born in Raymond. Her strict integrity of character, true womanliness, and great kindness of heart won the love and respect of all who knew her. Precious in the site of the Lord, is the death of his saints.” <

Air Force pilot visits with Raymond second-grade students

Second-grade students at Raymond Elementary School
recently received a visit from U.S. Air Force Capt. Devin 
Pelletier, who discussed his career as a KC-135 Stratotanker
pilot and how focusing on academics can help them achieve
their dreams. Pelletier mother, Aileen, teaches second grade
at Raymond Elementary. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
U.S. Air Force Capt. Devin Pelletier, a former RSU 14 student, recently spent some time with students in second grade at Raymond Elementary School and inspired them with stories about his military career.

Pelletier shared with students what it is like to be a U.S. Air Force pilot, describing what it is like on flights, explaining his patches, and how his plane, the KC-135 Stratotanker, is used to refuel other Air Force planes in the air in flight and enhances the Air Force's capability to accomplish its primary mission of global reach.

The KC-135 Stratotanker also provides aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft and is also capable of transporting litter and ambulatory patients using patient support pallets during aeromedical evacuations. It features four turbofans, mounted under 35-degree swept wings which power the KC-135 to takeoffs at gross weights of up to 322,500 pounds.

A cargo deck above the refueling system can hold a mixed load of passengers and cargo. Depending on fuel storage configuration, the KC-135 can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo.

Pelletier spoke to students about the importance of doing your best in school and never giving up when things are tough. He stressed that kids should follow their dreams and through perseverance and a focus on academics, anything is possible for them.

His visit with students came upon an invitation from his mother, Raymond Elementary second-grade teacher Aileen Pelletier. 

He is home on leave before departing for his next assignment which will take him to Oklahoma for a couple months where he will train to become an instructor pilot. Following training, he will be stationed in Spokane, Washington.  

During his previous assignment, Capt. Pelletier was part of the 909 Air Refueling Squadron at Kadena Airbase in Okinawa, Japan.

So far in his military career, he has had the opportunity to travel to Australia, Brunei, Wake Island, Saipan, Korean, Tokyo, Guam, Hawaii, and Alaska. <

December 17, 2021

In the public eye: Windham’s General Assistance Administrator Rene Daniel a beacon of hope for those in need of help

Rene J. Daniel has served as the General
Assistance Administrator with Windham's
Social Services Department since July 2011
and has helped many families experiencing
By Ed Pierce

Editor’s note: This is another in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.

Rene J. Daniel is a genuine problem solver and his work for the Town of Windham requires an extensive knowledge of various qualification requirements and how and where to receive help when it’s needed. It’s a monumental responsibility, but one that he takes in stride and he says that he’s proud of what he’s been able to accomplish as a municipal employee.  

Daniel is the General Assistance Administrator with Windham Social Services Department, a position he’s worked at since July 2011, although he has 20-plus years of experience in the field.

The Town of Windham offers a General Assistance program for people in need. This program provides confidential financial assistance to Windham residents who are having difficulty meeting basic needs for housing, utilities, food, fuel oil, etc., as defined by local ordinance and state statute, MRSA 22, part 5 Chapter 1161.

The program is funded by local property taxes with 50 percent reimbursement from the state. All assistance is provided in voucher form and no cash assistance is granted.

As the General Assistance Administrator, Daniel works actively with applicants to ensure that appropriate in-house and outside community referrals are made to other support services.

His duties are complex and include scheduling, conducting interviews, completing applications, reviewing and verifying all submitted information, completing the formula for qualification, and determining an applicant’s unmet needs which are required for approval to the specific request for assistance for a qualification of a 30-day period.

“In my opinion, the best thing about what I do in my job is presenting options and resources to assist by social agencies and non-profits that can be accessed,” Daniel said.

It’s a highly significant role for the town, but one that Daniel has come to master.

“The most challenging aspect of what I do is to have individuals understand that the General Assistance Statute is our guidepost in determining qualifications,” he said. “The statute consists of 92 pages with articles that helps the GA Administrator come to a conclusion on whether a person qualifies or not.”

According to Daniel, many applicants are not aware that there are limits to what can be done to help.

“The biggest misconception people may have about your job is that General Assistance is a Queen Elizabeth I program that came to our country on the Mayflower to help with assistance with basic needs of food, rent, mortgage, electricity, LP gas, heating fuel, household and personal supplies, prescriptions and medical, water, sewer, and burial and cremation,” he said. “People generally do not understand the GA ordinance.

Not everyone is granted assistance due to the fact that it is based on income in, and allowable expenses to determine eligibility.”

However, knowing the resources and other non-profit federal, state and community agencies Daniel is allowed to guide applicants to receive needed assistance through other means. 

He says that the most memorable moment he can recall while working for the Town of Windham occurred when services were centralized at one location.

“The creation of the Social Service Department with the ‘One Stop Shopping for Assistance for General Assistance, Food Pantry, Clothes Closet, Medical Loan Closet and all resources under one roof is a financial and logical approach to assistance,” Daniel said.

He grew up in Westbrook and attended local schools there.

“I taught in the Westbrook School Department for 25 years,” Daniel said. “I was then with Westbrook Housing for 13 years. I attended college and earned a few degrees.”

He said he decided to apply for the job working for Windham after he sat down with several town officials a decade ago.

“After meeting the Town Manager, Human Resource Director and Finance Director, I saw their commitment and love for the residents and employees,” Daniel said.

His family is proud of his work.

“They like the satisfaction of each day being so eclectic,” Daniel said.

In his opinion, Daniel said the most important thing that the public should know about those who work for the Town of Windham is basic and demonstrates loyalty, dedication, and love of the people of Windham.

He said his advice for anyone considering working for the town as a career is basic.

“Know the citizens and residents of Windham and be impressed by the sincere generosity of the people for their fellow citizens,” Daniel said. <

Windham offers abundant activities over school break

Students on holiday break will be able to participate in many
activities put on by the Windham Public Library and Windham
Parks and Recreation Department. COURTESY PHOTO
By Elizabeth Richards

The year is winding down, and students will soon be on school break. Windham Parks and Recreation and the Windham Public Library have some upcoming activities and events for students and families looking for ways to fill this free time.

“We have had a very full schedule of events and activities leading up to the holiday but will not be doing too much over the holiday itself,” said Windham Parks and Recreation Director Linda Brooks. Still, the department has a couple of opportunities for families to enjoy some time together.

“We will be publishing a map with all of the homes and businesses that entered into this year’s Holiday Decorating Contest so that families can drive by and enjoy the decorations,” said Brooks This map will be posted on the website, www.windhamrecreation, by Friday, Dec. 17.

Caregivers can bring children ages 5 and under to “Kiddie Gym” on Thursdays during the break, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The indoor fun includes balls, slides, parachutes and plenty of playmates, Brooks said. Cost for the drop-in program is $2 per child.

The department’s winter photo contest is also underway, so families should keep an eye out for the perfect moment to capture while kids are home. Entries will be accepted until Friday, March 18.

The Windham Public Library also has activities available for children and teens over the break. Children’s librarian Samantha Cote provided a list of events for the remainder of December that includes science, art and family fun.

On Friday, Dec. 17, Cote said that children can drop off their favorite stuffed friends for the Stuffed Animal Sleepover. Participants will receive a slideshow of what their friend was up to overnight, along with a small surprise upon pick up. There are twenty spaces available, and registration is required.

Children curious about electricity and circuits should stop by the library on Thursday, Dec. 23 between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to tryout a snap circuit kit in the children’s room.  This activity is best for independent workers ages 8 or up, or younger children with adult assistance.

Science in Space will take place on Monday, Dec. 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. This event includes discussion on the science behind telescopes, instruction on one way to make space claws, and exploration of how these things work. Pre-registration is required for this event.

On Tuesday, Dec. 28, the children’s room will have card making supplies available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Create a card using one of the prepared suggestions – like a birthday card for the library, which turns 50 in April - or create a card of your choosing.

For some great family fun, try indoor mini golf on Wednesday, Dec. 29. A small, goofy course will be set up in the meeting room. Each session lasts for half an hour and will be limited to one group of up to six people. Pre-registration is preferred. Sessions begin at 10:30 a.m., and the last half hour session starts at 3:30 p.m.

If you fancy yourself a sleuth, try cracking a code in the library on Thursday, Dec. 30 between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. There will be codes and ciphers appropriate for all ages available.

Regular library events will also continue during the school break, including Online story time and Books for Babies, as well as the Anime Club (for students aged 12 and up) which meets the third Tuesday of each month.

Masks are required for all in-person activities at the library. For more information or to pre-register for activities, call the children’s room at 207-892-1908. <

Tips for making your poinsettia shine through the season and beyond

Poinsettias have become a symbol of Christmastime to many
in America, but the iconic plant didn't arrive in the United
States until it was first brought here in 1825 by the 
American ambassador to Mexico. The plant is native to
South America. COURTESY PHOTO  
Few plants are as iconic as the poinsettia. The eye-catching blooms are a holiday tradition around the world. But the blooms aren’t a flower at all, they’re actually the leaves, or bracts, of the plant. Poinsettias are native to Central America, and in 1825, those stunning red leaves captured the attention of the United States ambassador to Mexico. A century later, the poinsettia was brought to market as a Christmas season plant in the U.S.

Today, red is still the most popular color, making up about 80 percent of all the poinsettias grown. Breeders around the world are developing new varieties that offer more color choices for holiday décor. Shoppers can choose from brilliant whites, deep burgundy hues, sparkling pinks and a number of other specialty colors.

“Breeders are also enhancing features that make the plants more enjoyable for everyone,” says Diane Blazek, executive director of National Garden Bureau. “They’re developing varieties that bloom earlier, have longer-lasting blooms and unique bract shapes.” National Garden Bureau talked with poinsettia experts to get a few tips for choosing, displaying and caring for this holiday plant.

Choosing your poinsettia

There are a few things to look for when choosing your poinsettia. “Make sure that the small yellow flowers in the center of the bracts (called cyathia — you can use that in your next cocktail party trivia!) are fresh and not turning brown,” says Matt Blanchard, product manager with Syngenta Flowers. Poinsettias with withering or missing center flowers are past their prime.

Next, be sure both the leaves and the bracts look healthy. “The foliage can tell you a lot about the health of your poinsettia,” says Lisa Heredia, marketing and key accounts for Danziger North America. “Look at the lower foliage and make sure the leaves are green and healthy. Check to make sure the overall plant is well hydrated; you don’t want to see any droopy leaves.”

Don’t overwater

Experts agree overwatering is the most common problem when it comes to poinsettia care. “In the typical home, poinsettia only needs water every five to seven days,” says Rebecca Siemonsma, North American product manager for Dummen Orange. “Pick up the pot and if it feels light, then you want to water it.”

The decorative pot covers most varieties are packaged in can add to the problem. They can hold too much water, something poinsettias do not like. Experts recommend punching holes in the bottom of those covers and adding a saucer. Be sure to empty the saucer so the plant is not standing in excess water.

Pairing poinsettia

Beautiful all on their own, poinsettias are also a natural for pairing with other holiday plants. “During the holiday season there is no better way to bring natural color into your décor,” says Delilah Onofrey, marketing director, Suntory Flowers. “Mix them in dish gardens with other greenery such as ferns, and other foliage plants. Pair them with other blooming plants such as cyclamen and orchids. Or, have several of the same color in decorative pots for a tablescape.”

Poinsettia are not poisonous

It is a common belief that poinsettia plants are poisonous. But the fact is, they’re not. An Ohio State University study, conducted in 1971, debunked this myth. Researchers found the plant is not toxic, even in high doses.

Saving the plant for next season

In most areas of the county, poinsettias are considered houseplants. They cannot tolerate temperatures below 50-degrees. If you live in a warmer, more tropical climate, you can plant your poinsettia outside. But, experts agree, it is tough to get them to look as good as they do when you purchase at a garden center. They require very detailed growing conditions. “I am a poinsettia breeder, and I don’t even try this at home,” adds Siemonsma. “I just throw the plant away at the end of the season and buy new next year.”

There really is something for everyone when it comes to poinsettia. “I love the really warm festive feeling you get from the bright beautiful poinsettias on dark December days,” says Sirekit Mol, marketing manager and global head of product trade at Beekenkamp Plants. Which one will you choose to brighten your holidays? Visit for some inspiration. < (BPT)

Maine’s CareerCenters offer new Customized Connections Program

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Labor's CareerCenters, together with its partners, offers many services to help people find employment or upgrade skills, and help employers find qualified workers.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many services are being offered virtually, while in-person services are currently being offered by appointment. Hiring events are being offered virtually, drive-through, or in person.

Appointments or pre-registration can be made by calling 1-888-457-8883 or by live-chatting with staff on the website.

New Customized Connections Program: Looking for work today means finding that perfect match. Jobseekers have unique priorities to consider like flexible hours, distance from home or childcare, work environment, unique benefits- and businesses are responding! This is a one-on-one, customized service for everyone, no matter where you are in your career. 

Tell us what you’re looking for in your job search or next step on your career pathway in this 3-minute survey and let us help you make the match. CareerCenter staff will reach out to respondents by phone or email within about 48 hours to get started:

The following services and programs are available at no cost to the public:

  • Career Directions Explores your career interests, aptitudes, values, personality, motivation and how each transfer to todays job market.
  • Resume & Cover Letter Writing Covers the basics of how to evaluate or create an effective resume and cover letter.
  • Effective Interviewing Skills Dedicated to exploring proper interviewing techniques and tips.
  • Job Search Essentials - This workshop is intended to orient job seekers with the digital tools that have risen in importance
  • The Career Exploration Workshop An extensive and informative three-day workshop offered to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) clients to explore a variety of career paths and research the required skills needed for those careers. Registration through Vocational Rehabilitation is required. Please call (207) 753-9000 for more information.
  • Navigating Hiring Process for Individuals with a Criminal History - Navigating Job Search and Hiring Process for Individuals with a Criminal History.

Workshops can be accessed by clicking on them here:

Each of the twelve statewide centers provides public computers with internet access, Microsoft Office, resume/cover letter writing software, and O*Net software for personal skills assessment.

Employers can list their open positions on Maine JobLink and use our online system which matches jobs with candidates. All CareerCenter services are provided at no charge to employers and job seekers.

Veterans and eligible spouses receive priority of service in all Department of Labor programs. <

Mills deploys Maine National Guard to 10 hospitals for pandemic assistance

Members of Maine National Guard will deploy to
10 different health care facilities across the
state to help alleviate staff shortages hospitals
are experiencing because of a surge of

Maine Gov. Janet Mills has announced that members of the Maine National Guard will deploy to 10 health care facilities across the state this week to help relieve hospitals experiencing capacity challenges and to maintain access to inpatient health care for Maine people amid a sustained surge of COVID-19.

The Mills Administration anticipates that these actions, coupled with the other steps it has taken in partnership with the Federal government and Maine’s health care systems, will provide an estimated total of 80 additional inpatient hospital beds to care for Maine people.

Mills activated up to 75 members of the Maine National Guard last week in response to record hospitalizations in Maine during a sustained surge of COVID-19 driven almost entirely by the Delta variant. The majority of people hospitalized in Maine are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As of today, there are 378 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine, including 106 in critical care and 58 on ventilators. There are currently 63 intensive care unit (ICU) beds available in Maine

Following extensive discussions with Maine’s hospital systems, the governor is deploying 38 National Guard members beginning Dec. 16 as follows:

** 15 National Guard members to Saint Joseph’s Manor in Portland and 12 National Guard members to Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) in Lewiston, which will open an estimated 26 additional beds at Saint Joseph’s Manor and an estimated 16 out of critical care, preserving intensive care unit (ICU) capacity. 

“The National Guard will be used in non-clinical support roles to: 1) provide support to nursing facilities and swing bed units that accept patients discharged from hospitals experiencing critical care capacity challenges; and 2) help administer monoclonal antibodies to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 and keep Maine people swing” beds at CMMC. This deployment will expand capacity at these “decompression sites” and allow hospitals to safely discharge more individuals, thereby relieving a bottleneck that will then allow hospitals to provide inpatient care for more people with COVID-19 and ensure delivery of health care for other serious health problems.

** 11 National Guard members among Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bangor, Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland, and Northern Light Health in Waterville. An additional two members of the Guard will be deployed to Rumford Hospital in Rumford and Bridgton Hospital in Bridgton on Dec. 27. These Guard members will help clinical staff administer monoclonal antibodies to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 and keep Maine people out of critical care, preserving intensive care unit (ICU) capacity.

These deployments were developed in collaboration with Maine’s hospital systems with the goal of complementing existing staff and available resources to immediately open additional beds and address need. The full set of actions are expected to make an estimated 80 beds available, though this estimate is subject to change depending on changing circumstance and need across the health care system. The deployments are scheduled through Jan. 26, 2022, subject to need.

Further, the Mills Administration is submitting two new applications for Federal monoclonal antibody teams that include clinicians for Maine Medical Center in Portland and Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. These newly available clinical teams would complement the non-clinical support of the National Guard and have allowed the Administration to mobilize fewer National Guard than originally anticipated. However, the Mills Administration will continue to closely evaluate capacity in the coming weeks to determine whether additional National Guard deployments are necessary.

“In consultation with our health care systems, I am deploying members of the Maine National Guard across Maine to expand our ability to treat people with COVID-19 and to provide care for Maine people grappling with other serious medical conditions,” Mills said“We will continue to work closely with our health care and Federal partners to monitor the capacity of our system and to take action when and where it is needed in order to support Maine people. Ultimately, the best and most effective way to relieve the burden on our heroic health care workers is to heed their advice: get vaccinated.”

These actions complement the Administration’s requests last week for Federal COVID-19 Surge Response Teams to be sent to Maine to assist Maine Medical Center in Portland and CMMC in Lewiston. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved the Administration’s request for MMC, and a 15-member team of medical professionals from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Disaster Medical System arrived Saturday to provide direct patient care for the next two weeks in a new non-COVID, acute care unit, allowing MMC to provide 11 additional beds for adult patients. The Mills Administration continues to communicate with FEMA about its second request, on behalf of Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, which is pending.

“Maine’s hospitals and nursing facilities continue to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic as the Delta variant drives serious illness and death among the unvaccinated in Maine and throughout New England,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “The assistance of the Maine National Guard, along with Federal partners, will help to relieve some of the strain on our valued health care workers in critical care settings, but getting vaccinated is still the most important thing Maine people can do to protect each other, their loved ones, and our health care system.”

“Our members are ready to support Maine’s heroic health care workers and help the state through this challenging surge of COVID-19,” said Major General Douglas Farnham, Maine’s Adjutant General. “We thank the Department of Health and Human Services for its partnership and look forward to working with them and others to expand Maine’s hospital capacity. The people of Maine can continue to count on the Maine National Guard.”

“As Maine continues to battle a surge of COVID-19, our hospitals are doing their best to care for patients and ensure access to vital health care for Maine people,” said Tim Dentry, President and CEO of Northern Light Health. “We thank Governor Mills and her administration for providing these additional resources, which will help to keep patients out of critical care and provide support for our already stressed staff during this difficult period of the pandemic. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the administration to get more Mainers vaccinated, which is the most important step people can take.”

“In recent weeks, we have been working closely with Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Lambrew and her team to assess our needs and plan for the best use of available resources to augment our dedicated but exhausted team members,” said Steven G. Littleson, President and CEO of Central Maine Healthcare. “We are looking forward to the addition of National Guard personnel at CMMC this week. They will provide much needed support, which will enable us to open additional beds for patients who need rehabilitation and nursing care before they can be discharged. We are deeply grateful to Governor Mills and Commissioner Lambrew for activating the Maine National Guard and developing a plan to use these precious resources in the most effective way possible as we all continue our heroic battle against the pandemic.”

The Maine National Guard is a part time military force of nearly 3,000 men and women who serve their communities, state, and nation. More than 100 National Guardsmen are already on orders supporting COVID-19 response efforts and have been utilized to inventory and deliver personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies, and vaccines; staff testing centers and vaccine clinics; support case investigation and laboratory testing; and serve in non-clinician roles at long-term care facilities. <

December 10, 2021

Cub Scout Pack 805 brightens holidays for many in need

Members of Windham Cub Scout Pack 805
gather at the Windham Walmart for a food
drive to collect donated items for the Windham
By Ed Pierce

For members of Windham Cub Scout Pack 805, the Christmas spirit is about something greater than themselves this year.

The scouts have adopted two families identified as being in need this holiday season and following their pack meeting at Windham Middle School on Monday evening, they will deliver food, toys and clothing they collected to make Christmas special for those families and others in the community.      

“We want the Cub Scouts to take away from this experience the realization that Christmastime isn’t just about getting presents, but about helping others and spreading joy,” said Casey Melanson, Windham Pack 805 Den Leader. 

She said that Windham Cub Scout Pack 805 has done this twice before and did their best to make sure wish lists created by the families in need were met.

“Scouts and parents were excited to help people in our community,” Melanson said. “It’s been such a trying year for so many and we wanted to make the holidays better for someone who needed help.”

Working with a guidance counselor from Windham Primary School, Melanson said more than three dozen scouts helped with the collection drive.

“Our food drive collected hundreds of items for the Windham Food Pantry,” she said. “We filled two vehicles with boxes and bags of items collected from the drive. We also collected $977 in cash donations during the drive.” 

According to Melanson, Windham Cub Scout leaders felt this effort was significant because it connects the scouts with all segments of the community.  

“We want our scouts to learn what is means to be part of something important, what is means to help their community, to make new friends, build relationships, and most importantly grow as young men.”

She said becoming a Cub Scout is almost like a rite of passage for many boys in Windham.

“Our pack is a great group of scouts and parents. We care about each other, push each other, and just all around have fun,” Melanson said. “Cub Scout activities emphasize having fun and learning useful life skills. “

Melanson said this year’s food and toy drives show that Cub Scouts can do anything they put their minds to.

“We have gone winter camping, hiking, ice fishing, and built lean-tos in the winter woods,” Melanson said. “We also have our annual Pinewood Derby where the boys design and build their own cars and then compete against one another. As a pack we have had beach outings, cookouts, movie nights, and EVO Rock Gym overnights.”

She became involved with the Cub Scouts when her son joined as a Tiger in first grade. He’s now in sixth grade and has now crossed over to participating in the Boy Scouts.

“I was just a scout mom, but soon became part of and then Chair for the Fundraising Committee. I am also now the Den leader for this year’s second-graders, the Wolves,” Melanson said.

During the summer, members of Cub Scout Pack 805 work on completing their achievements so that the scouts could move up in rank. Some of those activities include learning about First Aid, safety, teamwork, nutrition, and other topics.

Meeting weekly, Melanson said that the ultimate intent of the Cub Scouts program is to teach the scouts about responsibility, caring, and instruction in an array of different skills that will help them throughout their lives.

“I’d like to thank the whole pack, scouts and parents for making this Christmas drive a success.” Melanson said. “Without all their efforts during our food drive and this toy drive we wouldn’t be able to make the differences we are.”

For more information about Cub Scout Pack 805, visit their Pack 805 Windham Maine Facebook page or send an email to <

RSU 14 students reach fullest potential through student-centered, results-driven JMG program

Jen Dumont, JMG core specialist, works with her students
at Windham High School on organization, study skills,
self-advocacy, the art of conversation, learning styles,
professional etiquette, self-care and more.
By Lorraine Glowczak

In the 1980s, studies indicated that American elementary and secondary students consistently tested lower in science and math than their European and Asian counterparts. As the 1990s drew near, schools in the US continued to lag behind and the dropout rates were increasing. It was at this point that the approach to teaching began to shift as experts in the field recognized that a curriculum based upon a "one size fits all" model was failing many students and the "college-bound only" culture was leaving many unprepared for life after graduation. Determined to change the tide of the faltering educational system, Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) was established in 1993.

According to its website, JMG partners with middle and high schools as well as with colleges to help students reach their fullest potential by offering classes and activities led by JMG Specialists. Areas of focus include career preparation, college transition skills, leadership opportunities, critical thinking, financial literacy, community service, and more.

"JMG Specialists can develop student-centered, personalized education plans, delivered through a competency-based curriculum focusing on academic knowledge, career development skills, and teamwork." the website said.

RSU 14 is host to four JMG Specialists, three at Windham High School that include Jen Dumont, JMG's Core Specialist, Julie Stone, High School Completion JMG Master Specialist, and Kerry Kowalczyk, JMG College and Career Specialists who runs a MELMAC grant focusing on all students' post-secondary planning success. Windham Middle School is host to one JMG Specialist, Fernando Hinojosa.

"JMG at the middle school level is designed to prepare students with the skills and experiences they will need to not only be ready to take their next steps for high school but after high school graduation," Hinojosa said.

Presently, Hinojosa and his students are learning about careers in the fields of culinary arts, carpentry, financial industry, and entrepreneurship to name a few.

"As we learn about their careers of interests, we focus on each student, helping them to become confident and effective leaders in their future careers and the community."

Dumont, who has been a JMG Core Specialist for eight years – five of those at WHS, said that the high school program has grown with student interests in recent years due to the middle school's participation, fostering high school success.

"When I first began teaching at WHS, I had a total of 30 students with just five classes," Dumont said. "Now, I have six full classes with over 70 students participating."

Dumont said that she thinks of JMG curriculum as providing tools for students' toolboxes for their high school career and beyond.

"Some of the skills we focus on are organization study skills, self-advocacy, the art of conversation, learning styles, professional etiquette, self-care and so much more," she said. "One of the coolest things about this class for me is watching the relationships develop between my students. I also get the opportunity to meet students where they are and teach to them as an individual. Together, we get to take our perceived weaknesses and change them into our strengths."

While Dumont teaches in a more "traditional" classroom setting, Stone works with smaller groups, supporting them in building their resumes, preparing for college, interviews, etc. She also works with students from ages 16 to 24 who are facing barriers to graduation and are credit deficient, meaning they require remediation or credit recovery to be able to graduate on time. Thirdly, she helps students who have withdrawn from the traditional graduation pathway and are seeking their high school equivalency through adult education.

"Many of my students get individualized support to help them achieve their goals in getting their high school diploma or equivalency," Stone said. "All of our JMG programs provide a continuum of support, providing monthly follow-up to our students for a year after they graduate. This allows students a soft handoff to the next step, whether it be post-secondary or the workforce. One of the neat things about JMG is that, in our continuum of support, we have JMG specialists at some of Maine's colleges (see website below for a complete list). This makes an easy transition for our JMG students because before they even step onto a campus, they have already met someone they can go to for help or advice."

Stone also helps students with organization, job readiness skills (being on time, appropriate behavior, etc.), and setting goals, not only short-term, but also long-term goals.

"Helping students visualize their goals and then helping them to achieve those goals is probably one of the greatest parts of my job. Seeing students set a goal at the beginning of the year to graduate, and then to see them reach that goal is one of the greatest joys I have had in my life."

JMG Specialists are very enthusiastic about the curriculum and the positive impact it is having on the students' school experience and success – now and in the future. The students also share this same enthusiasm.

Senior Chase Connelly began the JMG program with Stone last year. He said that JMG is helping him get caught up and on track to graduate on time.

"I've been able to focus a lot better and get more work done since I joined JMG and I would have probably been on the five-year plan if I had never met Ms. Stone and Ms. Dumont," Connolly said. "Having teachers that are good at teaching and communicating with students helps a lot because I enjoy going to my classes and getting the work done if the teacher's chill or easygoing."

Connelly said that JMG will continue working with him after he graduates. "They will help me after I graduate as I research different schools and different types of jobs I can get after high school."

Other JMG participants share their perspectives. Junior Haley Atherton has been a part of the JMG program with Dumont for the past three years and her confidence has grown since she was a freshman.

"JMG has taught me to find my individuality – to dig deep into who I want to become in the future," Atherton said, who plans to be a Forensic Scientist.

Junior Shannon Bailey, who has plans to be an Equine Therapist, said she feels more comfortable speaking up for herself since participating in the JMG program.

"I have learned social skills and to advocate for myself more," Bailey said of her experience this past year. "Before I took this class, I was really quiet and didn't talk much."

Bryce Vance is a senior and has participated in the JMG program said he feels ready for his future, making plans without feeling stressed.

"It's nice to be a part of a relaxed class while you are doing your work," Vance said. "It is a goal-oriented class and in the making of goals helps me to prepare for the future."

Although JMG has been established as a successful educational program for 28 years, they are always in transition to keep up with the ebb and flow of education and students' needs.

"JMG is an ever-changing, growing, and innovating program filled with school staff and specialists whose only concern is students' success," Stone said.

For more information about JMG and participating schools: <

AT&T and ITDRC partner to boost WiFi connections in Maine

AUGUSTA – AT&T and the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) are boosting connectivity in 70 locations in Maine, expanding and upgrading existing WiFi technology at libraries, parks, schools, community centers, town halls and other locations across the state, many in rural areas.

This effort is made possible in part by AT&T’s $150,000 donation to support ITDRC’s ProjectConnect initiative in New England.

The ITDRC is a nationwide, volunteer driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides no-cost information, communications and technology resources to communities in crisis. It launched its projectConnect in response to changes in the learning environment due to the pandemic and the challenges of connectivity for many families. The program provides free Wi-Fi access points so that community members can access internet resources, including distance-learning curricula.

How will it work? ITDRC teams are currently making their way across Maine, working with local organizations to extend existing WiFi and upgrade aging technology. The needs of each location are unique. Technicians will make necessary equipment upgrades and adjustments to boost WiFi signal and extend service into parking lots and surrounding areas. There is no ongoing fee for use of the site.

To date, 57 of the 70 planned ITDRC sites have been completed.

Locations of the upgrades extend across the state of Maine to dozens of communities. Of the 70 sites being serviced, the majority are at libraries in rural communities, with schools, town halls, community centers and more also included.

Windham 's ITDRC sites already completed are located at Windham High School, Windham Primary School and Manchester School.

Why is this important?

While the global pandemic has shown how vital broadband is to successful learning outcomes, unfortunately, it also exposed growing educational inequities. Access to reliable, affordable Internet connections is critical for students to learn and thrive – both in school and at home. But an estimated 17 million children[1] have been unable to participate in distance learning during the global pandemic because their families don’t have a reliable internet connection or device.

In April 2021, AT&T committed  $2 billion by 2024 to help bridge the digital divide, bringing affordable internet and opportunity to more Americans nationwide. The support for ITDRC and projectConnect in Maine is part of that financial pledge and AT&T is committed to narrowing the homework gap and helping address inequities associated with virtual learning.

In addition to philanthropic efforts, AT&T has been investing in its network across the state of Maine in order to bring connectivity to places that need it most. From 2018 to 2020, AT&T expanded coverage and improved connectivity in more communities by investing nearly $150 million in its wireless network in Maine.

As a result, as of 2021, AT&T is now Maine’s largest network.

What people are saying?

Heather Johnson
Maine Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development

“I applaud ITDRC and AT&T’s commitment to expand and upgrade aging technology in order to make reliable internet available to communities, especially in rural Maine. The Administration is committed to making sure that all Mainers, regardless of their geographic location, have access to affordable and reliable high speed internet. This project will improve connectivity and create additional learning opportunities for students.”

Owen Smith
President, AT&T Maine

“Every student deserves an opportunity to make their dreams a reality. At AT&T, we are proud to support projectConnect, which will make important strides towards bridging the digital divide in Maine. The efficient, widespread nature of this project means that dozens of communities across Maine will see the benefits. We are grateful for ITDRC’s collaboration, knowing that together we can bring the right technology to the right places, improve connectivity options for students and give them better access to learning resources to help them achieve their goals in school and beyond.”

Brian Meagher
Director of Strategic Partnerships, ITDRC

"ProjectConnect has allowed ITDRC to support communities all over Maine impacted by COVID-19, a federally declared disaster, in a tangible way, extending WiFi and bridging the digital divide. Being able to stay connected to school, family, and work is more important than it ever has been, and we are here to help.”

Joe Hillis
Director of Operations, ITDRC

"We are proud of the work we've been doing in Maine, expanding and modernizing community library infrastructure. Through our collaborative partnership with AT&T and the Maine State Library system, we have been able to optimize and increase the coverage, speed, and security of these networks for the residents of Maine."

About AT&T Communications

AT&T helps family, friends and neighbors connect in meaningful ways every day. From the first phone call 140-plus years ago to mobile video streaming, AT&T innovates to improve lives. AT&T Communications is part of AT&T Inc.

For more information, please visit <

Wreaths Across America's annual escort kicks off Saturday

The National President of American Gold Star Mothers Inc. Jo Ann Maitland and President Emeritus of Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. Nancy Menagh will lead the caravan as this year's Co-Grand Marshals. The official escort will travel down the East Coast stopping at schools, memorials, and other locations along the way to spread the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach.

Stops with public events will be held in Maine, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington D.C., before arriving at Arlington National Cemetery on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 18 – National Wreaths Across America Day. To view the complete schedule, please visit

"For those who have had the opportunity to participate in the escort of wreaths over the years, it is truly an experience of a lifetime," said Karen Worcester, executive director, WAA. "The way we and the mission are welcomed into communities, with flags waving and streets lined with children and veterans, is something we always wished every American could witness. This year we're hoping that supporters will once again join us in lining the roadways safely and welcome the mission into their communities."

For the seventh year in a row Chevrolet, who has generously sponsored the escort vehicles transporting participating Gold Star families and veterans, will again provide wrapped vehicles in addition to sponsoring 4,000 veterans' wreaths for placement at Arlington National Cemetery. 

"Chevrolet and its dealers are proud to support the work of Wreaths Across America and deliver the message of their mission to Remember, Honor and Teach. This annual tradition has become a cornerstone event for Chevrolet and its dealers here in the Northeast Region," said Dan Adamcheck, regional director, sales, service and marketing for Chevrolet. "To be able to give back to our communities, and the men and women who have given so much to our country is truly an honor for Chevrolet and its employees."

Participants for this year's convoy include Gold Star Families, Blue Star Families, veterans, volunteers, and members of the Patriot Guard Riders and Patriot Riders. Law enforcement from departments across Maine and other states along the route will provide escort to ensure safe transport for all participants throughout the week.

Twelve tractor-trailers representing Walmart Transportation, Schneider National, Gully Transportation, Witte Bros. Exchange, Inc., Hartt Transportation Systems, Inc., Delhaize Transportation LLC (DBA Hannaford Supermarkets), American Trucking Associations – Share the Road Truck, Pottle's Transportation, Cargo Transporters, Inc., Boyd Grain Inc., Hampton Road Moving & Storage, and Tyson Foods, Inc., will haul a portion of the sponsored veterans' wreaths heading to Arlington National Cemetery for placement on Saturday, Dec. 18.

Additionally, Load One Carriers will once again serve as the ceremonial wreath transporter for the escort.

In total, nearly 257,000 sponsored wreaths are needed to reach the goal of placing a wreath on every eligible marker at Arlington National Cemetery.

To sponsor a $15 veteran's wreath for this location, please visit Volunteers placing wreaths at Arlington will be required to preregister this year and show proof of registration on Wreath Day. You may also register at the Wreaths Across America website.

What began 30 years ago as a pilgrimage by Maine wreath maker, Morrill Worcester, in a single truck to deliver 5,000 wreaths to Arlington as a gesture of thanks has become a national mission to Remember, Honor, Teach. National Wreaths Across America Day ceremonies are happening at more than 2,900 participating locations across the country on Saturday, Dec. 18. These events are free and open to all people. To find a participating location near you to support and/or volunteer to place wreaths, click here.

About Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization's mission – Remember, Honor, Teach is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, as well as at more than 2,900 participating locations in all 50 states and overseas. For more information, please visit <