May 28, 2021

Roll Call: From a grateful nation and our community

 On this Memorial Day, there are not words enough.

Windham veterans who have died in the
past year will be remembered during a 
special bell ceremony at Windham High
School on Memorial Day. 

There is not a hug strong enough.

All we can offer is our gratitude and our thanks.

You are our hero.

You are in our thoughts.

You are in our prayers.

For all you did for our country, thank you.

Thank you for your service to America.

As compiled by American Legion Field-Allen Post 148, the following veterans from the community passed away between May 2020 and May 2021.

They will be remembered with a bell ceremony at 10 a.m. on Memorial Day at Windham High School.

Donald Rogers, May 21, 2020 (American Legion Post 148)

John Gallager, May 31, 2020 (American Legion Post 148)

Ray Charmad, May 31, 2020 (American Legion Post 148)

Harold Halverson, June 14, 2020

Howard Berry, June 21, 2020

Robert Potter, July 9, 2020

Roger Landry, Aug. 1, 2020

Timothy Trembly, Aug. 13, 2020

Perry Green, Aug. 20, 2020

David Redlon, Sept. 13, 2020

James Hanson, Oct. 25, 2020

Fred W. Douglas, Nov. 10, 2020 (American Legion Post 148)

Harry W. Carlin, Jr., Nov. 29, 2020

Timothy M. Libbey, Dec. 8, 2020

Everett Willey, Dec 29, 2020

Charlie Melanson, Jan. 14, 2021

Willian Chipman, Feb. 8, 2021 (American Legion Post 148)

Lawrence Allen Feb. 8, 2021 (American Legion Post 148)

Mark Killinger, Feb. 28, 2021

Bernard Pugarko, March 18, 2021 (American Legion Post 148)

John Cooper, March 25, 2021 (VFW Post 10643)

Robert Maloy, April 24, 2021 (American Legion Post 148)

Orlando Lancia, May 8, 2021

In the public eye: Raymond Public Works Director Nathan White

Nathan White serves at the Town of Raymond's
Public Works Director. He has worked for the
department for 30 years and began as the 
town's recycling driver. He eventually
worked his way up to lead the department,
which maintains 50 miles of roadways in the 
town and has a staff of nine.
By Briana Bizier

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

Just like individuals, cities and towns need to have someone they can call when unexpected problems pop up. For the Town of Raymond, that person is Public Works Director Nathan White.

“We do just about everything,” White said as he described his job with Raymond’s Public Works Department. White’s team manages over 50 miles of roads in Raymond, mows the parks and public spaces in the summer, plows the snow in the winter, and takes care of the town’s equipment and buildings.

According to White, maintaining the Town of Raymond is a team effort.

“This is all made possible by the crew that works under me,” White said. “You can’t do it alone; you’ve got to have the crew behind you. Most of my guys have been here 20-plus years.”

This experienced team is also responsible for Raymond’s three public beaches: Tassel Top Park, Raymond Beach, and Crescent Beach. This week, White and his team were putting in the buoys and ropes that designate the swimming areas for those three beaches. One member of the Public Works team even walks Raymond’s beaches every summer morning to pick up debris left from the night before.

“Although we don’t get to hang out on the beaches in the summers as much as my guys would like to,” White admitted with a chuckle, "we come in the spring and fall to clean it up, and then we get out of there.”

The Public Works department also partners with Raymond’s volunteer Beautification Committee during the summers to keep the town blooming.

“We get them all the stuff they need,” White said. “The volunteers are very important. That’s really what makes Raymond, Raymond.”

While White’s Public Works department has full responsibility for most of Raymond’s roads, that responsibility is shared with the Maine Department of Transportation when it comes to the three major thoroughfares: Route 302, Route 85, and Egypt Road. Of course, if an emergency blocks any of those roads, the Public Works department will step in to help, whether that means dragging a fallen log to the side of the road or assisting the Fire Department.

“We do what it takes to get traffic rolling again,” White explained.

Those road-blocking emergencies can take many forms, from traffic accidents to fallen trees to large, misguided animals. Although White told me it’s been many years since he’s had to clear cows from a Raymond road, wild animals, both alive and dead, are still common.

“We do all wild large animals,” White said. “If there’s a dead moose, a dead bear, any dead wild critters, people are calling us.”

For White, who moved to Raymond as a teenager, 2021 marks his 30th year in Public Works. It’s a position that began in the cab of a recycling truck.

“The town was looking for a recycle truck driver two days a week, and my wife told me I had to get out of the house and do something,” White said, with a laugh. “Within a year it worked its way into a fulltime position, and within two years the foreman. Back then it was just two of us. When he got done, by process of elimination, I was the next foreman.”

White’s position in Raymond’s Public Works Department has grown alongside the town. His attitude, however, remains consistent.

“I hope this is what’s helped me stay here as long as I have,” White said. “I’ll do anything that anybody asks, and if I can’t get it done, I’ll find someone who can. I’ve got a fantastic bunch of people who work for me, and they’ve all got that same attitude. We don’t say no, we’ll just come out and fix it. These people pay our salary, they pay their taxes, and we’ll do what we’re asked.”

It’s an attitude that White would like to convey to all Raymond residents.

“If you’ve got something you want us to do, or you see something you’d like done, please give me a call,” White said. “Someone answers that phone 24 hours a day.”

Whether it’s plowing a narrow, windy road alongside a frozen lake or removing a large wild animal from the side of a busy intersection, White’s job in Public Works is full of challenges and surprises.

“It’s a very interesting job,” White said. “I came from an automotive background, and I really didn’t know what I was up for. I said, ‘Sure, I’ll ride around in a recycling truck for the summer.’ Here we are 30 years later. I’ve had some super opportunities here, all because of the administration staff and the people who’ve been on the town board and who’ve trusted me with this opportunity.”

“It’s been a good ride,” White added. “I wouldn’t change it for anything.” <

Free summer meals for all local students launches in June

RSU 14's Summer Meals Program begins June 17
and runs through Aug. 19. Distribution will be on
Mondays and Thursdays at locations yet to be 
announced. The program is funded by the USDA
and is meant to provide nutritious meals for
children while school is out for 
the summer. COURTESY PHOTO 
By Ed Pierce 

With summer break rapidly approaching for RSU 14 students, many parents are scrambling to keep food on the table, with children out of school until the fall.

But starting June 17, the RSU 14 School Nutrition Program will provide summer meals for students 18 and under courtesy of funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Normally Windham doesn’t qualify for a summer meals program in that 50 percent of students do not receive free or reduced lunches reimbursed by the USDA,” said Jeanne Reilly, director of school nutrition for RSU 14. “Now that requirement has been waived through the summer because of the pandemic.”

The summer meals distribution is planned to run through at least Aug. 19 but could be extended if needed, she said.

The program will operate in a similar fashion to the existing programs being used by RSU 14 to help feed nutritious meals to students learning at home during the pandemic or for students over weekends and long extended holidays or breaks from the school year, Reilly said.

“Right now, we’re distributing food to about 300 to 400 children every Friday at no cost,” she said. “The expectation for these summer meals is that we will be providing meals to at least 100 children and maybe a lot more than that. Anything over 100 will be a success.”

According to Reilly, the summer meals will be sent home in bulk bags and include milk, bread, rolls, spiced deli meats and heat-and-eat choices.

“The heat-and-eat meals are really a combination of varieties,” she said. “But inside each bulk bag will be fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, dairy, rolls, bread, protein items, cereal, breakfast bars, and some juice.”

The free bulk bags will be available for distribution to registered participants on Mondays and contain three days of food, and on Thursdays the bags will supply four days of meals. The summer meals pick-up sites are still being developed, but one location will be behind Windham High School near Windham Raymond Adult Education.

“We’ve had a lot of success with that during the pandemic and hope to be able to continue that this summer with this program,” Reilly said.

A recent report from Feeding America estimates that one in eight people in Maine, or about 166,910 individuals are currently facing hunger. That number includes 44,520 children, or about one in every six children in the state is food insecure.

Across America, the national rate of those who are food insecure stands at about 11.1 percent, data from the USDA Economic Research Service shows. However, that number rises to 13.6 percent of households are food insecure in Maine, which is the highest rate among the New England states.

Reilly said despite all of the hardships caused by the pandemic, there has been a number of silver linings for families in Windham and Raymond.

“Our meals have gotten into homes,” she said. “Parents can see the value of the nutritious school meals we are serving their children. They can see that we serve much more than pizza and hamburgers. A school meal gives students familiarity and has restored some normalcy to their lives when they’re not in school.”

The feedback from parents about school meals has been positive, Reilly said.

“Parents tell us that the meals at home program have kept students tied to their school even as they are learning at home remotely when they are not physically in school,” she said. “People tell me that they’ve really been touched by our consistently providing their children with nutritious meals whether at home or in school.”

The link for families to order meals during the summer is

Reilly said that the site is free to use and is available from a computer or as a mobile app. All meals are free. <

Resources available for caregivers who need respite from care of loved ones

By Lorraine

Burt and Barbara Wilson of Windham
have been married for 62 years. One year
ago, Burt was officially diagnosed with
Lewy body dementia and now his wife
Barbara provides 24-hour care. There are
Many resources available that can help
unpaid family caretakers, giving them a
respite in the Sebago Lakes Region.


When Barbara Wilson and her husband, Burton “Burt,” moved from Massachusetts to Raymond in 2006, they not only returned to the state where Barbara’s mother’s family was raised and lived, but she and Burt held a deeply ingrained dream to settle and build their retirement home along the tree-lined hills of Tarklin Hill Road.

“Every time we visited family in Maine, we envisioned the home we would build in Raymond,” Barbara said. “Burt had a specific idea as to how the house would look and it turned out to be exactly as we both wanted. It was such a beautiful place and we enjoyed living there so much.”

But 11 years later in 2017, that all changed. Burt had his first stroke, which affected his body physically, making the upkeep and care of their property too much for one person. They sold their dream home in Raymond and moved to a smaller house in Windham in 2018, one that is more conducive to Burt’s needs and one Barbara can manage on her own.

Unfortunately, Burt’s health has declined. In June 2020, Burt was officially diagnosed with Lewy body dementia (LBD) and had a second stroke two months later.

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a disease associated with abnormal deposits of a protein called Lewy bodies. The disease affects chemicals in the brain that lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood. LBD is one of the most common causes of dementia. There are no known causes for this disease, and at the present time there is no known cure.

Burt, now wheelchair bound needs 24-hour care which Barbara lovingly gives. But who does the shopping and runs other necessary errands?

“I have hired a home-care specialist who comes in twice a week for a few hours in the afternoons,” Barbara said. “She helps me clean the house, changes the sheets, gives Burt a shower and helps him with his physical exercises. While she is here, I quickly get away to do errands, go shopping, etc.”

Although it is with certainty that Barbara appreciates the few hours of help that she and Burt hire so Barbara can run a few errands, this leaves no time for self-care or respite for herself. Barbara is ‘on’ 24 hours a day with no day off. As a family caregiver, Barbara is not able to take time for her own mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Burt and Barbara’s two sons who live in other states are not readily available to assist with the needs of their parents, although they visit as often as possible.

“I need more help, but because we are retired and living on a limited income, I am unable to hire our home care specialist for longer hours or hire another person to assist us,” Barbara said.

Burt and his wife are not alone in meeting the challenges faced by older adults. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association reported in 2019 that more than 16 million family members and friends provided 18.6 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, at an economic value of $244 billion. Many of these caregivers overlook their own needs and thus become overly exhausted to continue the care their love one requires.

Despite the adversity in caregiving, there is good news. There are several resources and opportunities available for those who provide home care for their loved ones.

For those who live in Cumberland or York county, the Southern Maine Agency On Aging (SMAA) provides relief for older adults and their caregivers. SMAA not only offers resources but provides information, support services and workshop opportunities to empower older adults, adults with disabilities and their caregivers “to live their fullest potential”. One important resource that fits the needs of Barbara and Burt is the SMAA’s Caregiver Respite Program.

SMAA’s website describes the Caregiver Respite Program as: “support[ing] family caregivers by reimbursing some of the costs of having someone else provide care for the person with dementia. This program enables caregivers the opportunity to take time for themselves, to do what they enjoy or need to do.

Lori Campbell, SMAA’s Family Caregiver Support Specialist said that this program is made possible through a grant received from the State of Maine’s Office of Aging and Disability Services.

“There are certain criteria we must follow to meet the conditions of the grant, including an official diagnosis of dementia,” Campbell said. “But we are here to help the caregiver in many ways - including filling out all the required forms to identify if the caregiver is eligible for services, but we assist also as much as we can to anyone who is playing a role as caregiver for a person with dementia. At this time, there is no waiting list for this program.”

If eligibility requirements are met, the family caregiver can submit up to $3,800 in respite expenses per fiscal year for an 80 percent reimbursement, can help with the cost of in-home care, adult day care, and/or up to two weeks of overnight care in a facility per fiscal year, and allows a caregiver to apply for a waiver for all or part of the 20 percent co-payment depending on income and assets.

Campbell said that SMAA offers community support groups, workshops for caregivers as well as wellness and nutrition for older adults and caregivers. SMAA provides social and interactive opportunities that older adult caregivers lack and need, offering workshops on various subjects that include Caregiver Stress Management, Understanding Cognitive Loss and much more. In addition to the SMAA workshops and support groups, members of the SMAA caregiving team will take the time to talk more in depth with older adults and caregivers in other ways to see to it that their needs are addressed.

“I, along with my colleague, Robyn Berry, are available to guide individuals by phone [1-800-427-7411] or email [],” Campbell said. “We also meet individuals in person via Zoom – or face to face once our office opens up to the public.”

Although we all envision living a life of health and happiness, elderhood takes surprising curves. Eventually, ready for it or not, support and information regarding the aging process is needed – whether it is cognitively, emotionally, physically…or all three.

“Burt and I have been married for 62 years,” Barbara said. “It’s been a wonderful life. I just never imagined that we’d be where we are today. Dementia is something you never picture for yourself when you are young and in love and building a family and a future together.”

There are many resources for older adults in the Raymond and Windham communities. For more information, resources, and support, below is a brief list of many organizations who provide help and resources for those who live in the Sebago Lakes Region area:

Southern Maine Area on Aging (SMAA): or 800-427-7411

Raymond Age-Friendly Community:

Windham Age-Friendly Community: or 207-892-4649.

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, Institute for Integrative Aging (Serving the Sebago Lakes Region area older adult population): or 207-892-6766.

Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors: or 207-749-1336. Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing (serving Raymond, Windham and Standish who choose to age in place and need home repairs): or 207-387-0855. <

Cub Scouts team up with Ice Cream Dugout for fundraiser

A fundraiser hosted by Ice Cream Dugout in
Windham on May 24 raised 194.71 which was
donated to Windham Cub Scout Pack 805 to
be used on scouting projects.
By Daniel Gray

With the summer weather starting to heat things up, the Ice Cream Dugout served plenty of cones this week. Not only did they serve their customers, but also kindness to local Cub Scout Pack 805.

The Dugout, on Route 302 in North Windham, always conducts a charity event or fundraiser during the summer months. This year it was decided that May 24 would be their fundraiser was for Windham's Cub Scout Pack 805 with 10 percent of that day's profits going directly to the Cub Scouts.

"I look forward to these fundraising events because I think it is so important to give back to the community." said Cheyanne Gagnon, owner of the Ice Cream Dugout.

The Cub Scouts and their Den Leader, Casey Melanson, were ecstatic for this opportunity to team up with the Dugout.

"We were excited for our Dugout night,” Melanson said. We did one a couple years ago, and it went really well considering it was a very rainy, raw day."

And with the beautiful hot weather this past week, the turnout was great. Gagnon and the Dugout were able to donate $194.71 to the Cub Scouts while serving cold ice cream on a hot day.

With the money, Melanson said that the pack will be able to help fund more fun summer activities for the boys to do and other very important things that are needed for the Cub Scout activities.

"With the money we raise we plan to have a few summer events.  We will be having a night with Sparks Ark, a day at Sebago Lake and a rocket launching night,” she said. “We also use the fundraising money to help offset the costs associated with registering our scouts each year and also whatever the pack may need."

Being a den leader for a few years now, Melanson said she’s always happy to see her own son and continue their experience. This group of scouts have just crossed over to Bears, which are made up of students who have completed second grade and are 9 years old.

"The best part about being a den leader is watching the boys grow.  Watching them learn and apply what they learn in scouts to their everyday lives." she said. "They learn how to help others without expecting something in return.  They learn about teamwork and how it is beneficial to all.  They learn about the outdoors and how to properly care for it."

The Dugout will continue to hold fundraiser events like this throughout the summer. Earlier this month, they held their 11th annual "Take Me Out To The Dugout" fundraising event to support Windham High School's Softball and Little League teams, along with Windham Christian Academy.

"Anything I can do to make a positive impact on these kids and organizations, is well worth it to me," Gagnon said.

Be sure to stay up to date with any fundraisers the Dugout may hold by following their page on Facebook, The Ice Cream Dugout.

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


May 21, 2021

Schoolhouse Arts Center makes triumphant return with ‘Truly Talented Kids’

Seniors who are moving on from Black Box Teens celebrated
following their final performance in the 'Truly Talented Kids'
show this past weekend at the Schoolhouse Arts Center at
By Elizabeth Richards

After more than a year of darkness, the stage lights went up again last weekend at Schoolhouse Arts Center with the return of the “Truly Talented Kids” cabaret-style show put on by the Black Box Teens.

It was a long, hard winter and there were times when it looked like the theater may not reopen for a 33rd season at all.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” said Artistic Director Zac Stearns. When the board made the decision to close the theater – the night before the 2020 Truly Talented Kids show was to open – they thought it would be for just a few weeks. “Then a few weeks turned into a couple of months, which eventually turned into a year,” Stearns said.

This winter was a scary time, said Board President Christina McBreairty

“In January, it became quite obvious to us that if something didn’t change, we wouldn’t survive the winter,” she said.

Money had run out, but the major expenses involved in maintaining the building had just begun.  With sprinkler systems, turning off the water and waiting out the pandemic wasn’t an option. Heating costs are typically $7,000 to $8,000 a year, McBreairty said.  And although Gorham Savings Bank worked with them to delay mortgage payments, that was a temporary fix.  

That’s when major fundraising efforts began. The Black Box Teens were an instrumental part of those efforts. Ashley McBreairty, who has led the group since she founded it when she was 12, said she and a friend, Ray Woodworth, sat down to hammer out a plan. 

"[We] said we can’t let this happen. It’s become home to so many people. It’s been my home since I was four years old.  I was NOT ready to give up on this place. We weren’t going down without a fight,” Ashley McBreairty said.

Not only did the two recruit help from other teens to clean and repair the building so it would be ready when reopening was possible, they also put together a virtual live stream that raised almost $2,000 and held bottle drives once a month which raised almost another $1,000, Christina McBreairty said. 

A Go Fund Me page brought in over $8,000 in community donations.

Seeing the response to their plight was heartwarming, Christina McBreairty said.  Reading the comments made her realize how much other people cared.

“The only reason that schoolhouse has survived is through the support of the community that it serves,” Stearns said. He wants everyone who supported their efforts to know “We are so eternally grateful for their generosity.”

If it weren’t for the community coming through, Schoolhouse wouldn’t even exist, Christina McBreairty said.

“So to be able to reopen, it was like, We did it! We made it,” she said.

While things aren’t as stable as they’d like yet, opening the doors allows the center to bring in revenue through their shows and educational program.  Operating at partial capacity would have been difficult, and the recent announcement that they will be able to soon operate at 100 percent makes all the difference, she said.

Still, there will be challenges. 

“I don’t think people realize the start-up costs of putting on a season of theatrical productions,” Stearns said.  Costs include rights for the shows, which can be thousands of dollars, costumes and sets. 

“Lumber costs are my next concern. Are we going to be able to afford to put on spectacular, high level, quality productions with lumber costs shooting through the roof? That’s a problem that needs solving,” Stearns said.

The primary reason they decided that “Truly Talented Kids” would be their first show upon reopening was because “we’re picking up where we left off,” Christina McBreairty said. “They had been in rehearsal for weeks and we had to announce to them that they couldn’t do their show. There were tears.”

Practical reasons were also a factor.  The style of this show means it didn’t have the same start-up costs as other shows would.  And lower attendance is expected at a cabaret style show, Ashley McBreairty said.

“Truly Talented Kids” is typically held in the black box theater, which can only seat 55. 

“In a normal year, if we got a full house one night, it was great,” Ashley McBreairty said. 

That meant that having to limit capacity in the larger theater didn’t impact the bottom line.

The show, produced entirely by teens, has been a tradition for six years, though, of course, only five shows have gone on due to COVID-19.  This cabaret style production offered a range of acts including Broadway tunes, popular music, dance and a monologue seamlessly tied together by witty MCs. 

“We had pretty good crowds and the show went well every night. It was a win,” Ashley McBreairty said.  

In the weeks leading up to the show, she said, they hit many roadblocks resulting from the theater being closed for so long. But those problems weren’t evident on opening night – and the small glitches that did occur were handled with humor and grace.

It was a special feeling to walk on stage, have the lights come up and see people in the seats once again, Ashley McBreairty said, after weeks of being in a cold, empty building preparing for opening night. 

This show was Colby Cormier’s first time on the Schoolhouse stage.

“My position is wholly unique compared to a lot of the people involved in ‘Truly Talented Kids,’” he said.  “I didn’t even begin in theater until a couple of months before the pandemic hit.” Through a friend, he became involved at Schoolhouse.  Stepping out into the lights again was “indescribably magical,” he said.  “[It’s} something that you don’t find easily in this world.”

His experience coming to Schoolhouse in the middle of a pandemic and feeling instantly welcomed illustrates the heart of Schoolhouse Arts Center. 

“We welcome everyone,” Christina McBreairty said.

Their education program as well as the Black Box Teens make Schoolhouse unique and allow for many opportunities to give theater, whether onstage or behind the scenes, a try.

That’s part of the reason why Cormier, even though he’s headed to school in Rochester, N.Y. next year, said “This is not a question of if, this is a question of when I’m involved [at Schoolhouse] next.”

This show was particularly special because for many of the teens, it was their last year to be a part of “Truly Talented Kids,” Ashley McBreairty said. 

But she fully intends to stay involved in some way and made the decision to go to USM next year partly because of Schoolhouse, she said. 

Now that the doors have reopened, there are still many considerations moving forward, including what Covid guidelines will be in place.  Each week, Stearns said, he reviews the newest information and informs the board so they can make decisions that ensure a safe production for cast, staff and patrons. 

The Schoolhouse season is now underway, with many great shows ahead, including “Christmas in July” with Elf the Musical. The education program has also reopened with almost ten full weeks of summer programming.  

More information and a full list of shows can be found on the website at <

It Takes Two Farm ‘Riding It Forward’ for riders with disabilities


It Takes Two Farm  of Windham is hosting a virtual ride-a-thon
called 'Ride it Forward' to raise awareness and money for
equine-assisted services offered at Riding To The Top
Therapeutic Riding Center in Windham.
t Takes Two Farm of Windham is hosting a virtual ride-athon, “Ride it Forward,” to raise awareness and funds for equine assisted services at Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center.

Crystal Stover, the owner of It Takes Two Farm was a volunteer, and later a teacher, for Riding To The Top "many, many years ago"! That is where she learned "first-hand the wonderful memories that are being made there".

Students and staff at It Takes Two Farm are collecting pledges or donations for each minute they ride in the month of May. 

As horseback riders themselves, they know how good they feel riding and they want to help others have the opportunity to feel the same way. Each rider will set a riding goal and a fundraising goal.

The staff of It Takes Two Farm will keep a logbook to track hours. All funds raised will go directly to help people with disabilities take lessons at Riding To The Top, many of them could not afford to ride without the support of those who donate to RTT.

To date they have raised half of their $5,000 goal.

To donate go to:

About It Takes Two Farm

It Takes Two Farm, located at 508 Gray Road, Windham, offers quality horsemanship programs within a safe and enriching environment where sportsmanship, community, respect and responsibility are fostered. For more information, call 207-653-0863 or visit their website at

About Riding To The Top

Founded in 1993, Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center’s (RTT) mission is enhancing health and wellness through equine-assisted services. RTT is a PATH International Premier Accredited Center (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International).  Located just west of Portland in Windham, RTT is the state’s only year round PATH International Premier Accredited Center solely dedicated to serving people with disabilities through equine-assisted services.

RTT is a community-based nonprofit, receives no federal or state funding and provides scholarships to over 60 percent of its clients.  Currently visitors at the farm are limited due to COVID. For more information about client services, volunteering, or making a gift, please visit or call 207-892-2813. <

Magnet fishing group helps clean up Maine waterways

Items shown were recovered by EMMF
members using magnet fishing in the
Presumpscot River earlier this month.
By Daniel Gray

If you haven’t yet heard about magnet fishing, if you’re anywhere near a river or lake, you probably soon will.

Based in Lewiston, Colt Busch and Cameron Fox have fished for the good of Maine lakes and rivers for over two years now and their group, Eco Maine Magnet Fisher, has been helping to keep our waters cleaner than ever.

Earlier this month the group went magnet fishing off the Black Bridge in Westbrook on Presumpscot River. They ended up pulling a number of old bikes, scrap metal and even shopping carts out of the waters that afternoon, and that isn't all of the debris they found there.

According to Busch, underneath the water's surface, there's a maze of metal there.

The goal of their EMMF group is to clean up most things that are underwater using a technique called magnet fishing. Magnet fishing uses a large, strong magnet to drag across the bottom of a river or lake to “fish up” anything it can find there.

"We're basically trying to clean up rivers in Maine," said EMMF co-founder Fox. "On Saturday we found about four bikes and two shopping carts that were dumped in the river with no respect to the waterway."

Not only is it not respecting Maine's waters, but also the safety of others and of wildlife that inhabits the river’s waters.

"People jump off the Black Bridge when they're young, so with summer approaching, we put in our best effort to get rid of stuff under water to make it safer for people to jump," Busch said.

Both founders of EMMF, Busch and Fox, had a slow start to launching their group.

They first learned about magnet fishing being done overseas in English canals. After doing their research, the two found other magnet fishing groups in Maine and quickly reached out.

Since then, they have been happy to help clear out the waters of Maine for both the ecosystem, but also for the adventure.

"You never know what you're about to get. We've found so much already but we've just gotten started." Busch said. "We've found maybe 40 or more bikes, 20 shopping carts, but also rarer finds like a safe and old antiques."

The basic equipment for the EMMF include grappling hooks to snag objects coming out of the water, along with their main feature, powerful magnets. The magnets themselves are rather heavy, more than 1,000 pounds typically.

Busch said that there are multiple kinds of magnet fishing kits that suit different needs and age groups.

And for magnet fishing, you don't need much equipment to get the job done, he said.

EMMF has grown to a group of nine participants so far that typically cover the Lewiston and Westbrook canals and rivers.

Each body of water has their own story when it comes to what they fish up and Busch said that he personally loves the “mysteries” the waters hold.

"We found a wheelchair once and I wanted to know how it got in there so badly,” he said. “You just naturally want to know how some of these items turn up in the middle of a waterway."

As for the materials EMMF retrieves from the water, a majority is never trashed. Being mostly all metal, it is either recycled or repurposed into art by a close friend of their group.

Everything dragged out of the water has a new purpose and even some bikes have been restored to riding condition.

"I'm glad that Colt and I teamed up to make this world a little better place, especially for the kids in the future and anyone that wants to enjoy the waterways." Fox said.

For more information about magnet fishing in Maine, visit Citizen Magnet Fishing on Facebook. <

Chamber set to resume ‘Member Outreach Week’ gathering

By Daniel Gray

On May 27, the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce will be holding its annual Member Outreach Week and will be featuring businesses all across Windham.

The event will be held at the Windham Veteran's Center, located right behind the Hannaford complex, and runs from 5 to 7 p.m. These events are typically conducted every month, however, one hasn't been held since 2020 and that just makes this summer event even more special.

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce is represented by a small team of 21 who advocate and help businesses network throughout the Sebago Lake region, including Windham, Raymond, and six other southern Maine towns. The SLRCC covers 300 businesses, including the Windham Eagle.

"The mission of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce is to foster and sustain economic growth and prosperity throughout our region by promoting commerce through marketing, advocacy, networking, and education in a manner that enhances the communities we represent." said Robin Mullins, current Executive Director of the SLRCC.

Siochanta Farms has been a small Maine business since 2018 and they are all about handcrafted care products, such as soaps, shampoos, and candles. They are strong believers of bringing quality products to their customers and products that are safe for the environment. Things only grew better when they joined the SLRCC.

"Our wonderful Chamber reached out to us as soon as we were formed as an LLC. They helped us with ideas for brochures and gave us so much encouragement as a new, small, and unique online boutique" said Suzy Palmer, founder of Siochanta Farms.

When COVID was starting to take its toll, the SLRCC were still there for them every step of the way. Palmer said.

"During the Pandemic, when we were struggling some, they were right there checking in and assuring us that we would be okay," she said.

Another perk of being a SLRCC member are the Member Outreach Weeks they hold, which are a 'get-together' of the businesses and members to thank them for continuing their support with the SLRCC. .

"We have had a Member Outreach Week every year since 2013. It is our opportunity to visit as many of our 300 businesses as possible and "thank" them for their support. Members of our Board of Directors and volunteers from our member businesses sign up to be "Ambassadors" for the week," Mullins said.

Ambassadors for this year's Member Outreach Week were Bangor Savings Bank, Hall Implement, Siochanta Farms, the SLRCC themselves, and Windham Economic Development Corporation. This included hand sanitizer, chapstick, masks and gloves, handmade tea lights, and small flashlights.

"We created 300 gift bags of individually hand-poured, scented tea lights (ocean breeze) to invite people to relax, enjoy the scent of the ocean, and check out our website for candles and many other wonderfully unique products," Palmer said.

Anyone, whether they are a member of the SLRCC or otherwise, is encouraged to attend to the Member Outreach Week next week. While the goodie bags are just for members, there is also food, raffles and special giveaways.

For more information, visit  <

May 14, 2021

In the public eye: Windham Registrar of Voters and Deputy Town Clerk Judy Vance loves working with people

Judy Vance has worked in the Windham 
Town Clerk's Office for 24 years and serves
as Windham's Registrar of Voters and 
Deputy Town Clerk. SUBMITTED PHOTO
By Elizabeth Richards

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

Judy Vance is a familiar face in the town clerk’s office.  For 24 years, the Windham native has served as registrar of voters and a deputy town clerk.

Her job is a busy one, Vance said, which includes processing all vital records along with hunting, fishing and business licenses, and running two elections per year, with an occasional special election.  Her department also helps as needed with processing registrations for motor vehicles, boats, ATVs, and snowmobiles, as well as processing taxes, she said.

“It seems like every day we’re learning something new,” Vance said, even though she’s been on this job for so long.  Things are coming up regularly that she didn’t know was possible, she said, often regarding motor vehicle registration and taxes

.“I love to work with people,” Vance said when asked what she liked most about her job.  She also enjoys the hours of operation, and her teammates.  The people she works with are a big part of her love for her job, she said.

The office is normally open from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. A week to seven days before elections, they stay open until 7 p.m. one evening to allow for voter registration, address changes and requesting absentee ballots, Vance said. 

During an election, Vance said she and Linda Morrell, the town clerk, are at the polls while the other two deputy clerks keep the office running.  Absentee ballots are normally offered thirty days prior to an election. Processing these can keep things busy, she said. This was especially true during the presidential election last year.

Work in the clerk’s office can be quite detailed, Vance said, especially when processing births, deaths and marriages, which require certification. People can also get married right at the town office, she said.

“We normally ask for a little bit of notification, but if someone comes in and they apply for a marriage license and say “Hey, what are the chances of getting married right now?” we try to accommodate them and try to make them happen,” she said. “People love it.” During COVID, she said, these spontaneous marriages happened more frequently.

Overall, COVID didn’t change a lot of their operations, Vance said. “We were only closed for a very short time,” she said. The office reopened to the general public in May 2020. While many municipalities are still requiring appointments, Vance said, appointments are not required in Windham. People are welcome to walk in.

For Vance, the job doesn’t pose many challenges.

“The most recent challenge was the presidential election, and it wasn’t really a challenge,” she said, though it required working many nights and weekends. “The whole election went very smoothly, and it was enjoyable for the most part,” she said. The clerk’s office has a lot of help both from a roster of volunteers and employees in registration and taxes. “We appreciate each and every one of them for their help,” Vance said.

Every once in a while, Vance said, a problem arises that leaves a customer unhappy.

“We do everything in our power to help them and make their transaction or resolve their problem so things go smoothly,” Vance said. “I can certainly understand that people have a bad day here and there. We try to work through everything and there’s really not a whole lot for challenges, for me,” she said.

Vance was raised in Windham and is a graduate of Windham High School and the University of Southern Maine. She married her high school sweetheart and will celebrate her 39th wedding anniversary this week.

Vance and her husband remained in Windham, where they raised two daughters. Her daughters live in the same neighborhood as Vance with their significant others and children. Living in the same neighborhood as her children and their families, including four grandchildren, is “amazing,” Vance said.

“It’s wonderful. I’m lucky,” she said.

When not working, Vance said she likes to try to keep up with her grandchildren. Her family enjoys boating and riding ATVs, she said.

Her husband has several Street Rods, including some that he’s built, and they spend a lot of time going to Street Rod shows, Vance said. She also enjoys walking and gardening in her spare time. <

Geer campaigns for Raymond Select Board seat

Abigail Geer is a candidate for a seat
on the Raymond Select Board. The 
position is for a three-year term and
will be chosen by voters during a
town election on June 8.
By Ed Pierce

Abigail Geer has declared her intention to run for the vacant seat on the Raymond Select Board and the first-time candidate says she’s ready to roll up her sleeves and work hard on behalf of all of the town’s residents.

Voters will cast ballots on June 8 to fill the three-year select board term and also choose five members for the town’s Budget-Finance Committee, pick a member to serve on the RSU 14 Board of Directors, approve or disapprove the proposed RSU 14 budget, approve or disapprove the proposed schools’ budget and approve or disapprove the town’s  2021-2022 municipal warrant.

Geer, 36, has worked in private school administration and does not have any previous elected experience, but says she has a lifetime of experience working hard for those around her.

“The most pressing issue in this race is whether we want Raymond to be an exciting, thriving, liveable town now and in the future,” Geer said. “What I intend to do about it is listen to people with openness, interest and respect; strengthen our community through events and programming; and make sure our infrastructure supports community connection, day-to-day life, and long-term growth.”

Her background growing up in Maine taught her to always be on the lookout for ways to help the people around her, and to pitch in and do her part, Geer said.

“I’ve done that every chance I get, from dealing with plumbing issues in a short-term rental I managed on a holiday weekend, to creating apps for teachers to make their complex work more manageable,” she said. “I love rolling up my sleeves and getting to work to make the world around me a better place to be.”

She said that she’s lived in a lot of towns and cities, worked in organizations large and small, and seen up close and personal how physical ability, age, and income impact what life is like.

“I want to bring my diverse experience to the table and make sure every person in Raymond knows they have someone on their side listening to them and working with their wellbeing in mind,” Geer said.

For the past year, Geer said that she’s I’ve worked to build an online community of more than 150 people who have conversations about hard topics facing our society today. They meet “in person” over Zoom and discuss books, podcasts, articles, and news to deepen our understanding of key issues.

It’s been a setting where Geer says she’s grown a lot and has seen others grow along with her.

“In my last job I realized that teachers were struggling with data-heavy tasks and having to do work by hand that a computer could do. I researched their needs, figured out what they were trying to do, and then got to work creating a solution using the tools my organization already had access to,” she said. “One of those tools made it possible for teachers to figure out how to group kids into classrooms for the next school year. This used to take three to four weeks, hour after hour, hand-writing notecards and lists, and checking and rechecking typed up lists. That work is now accomplished in a few hours because of the tools I created.”

Geer said in the first six months of her work as a development associate at a community building organization. She brought in $36,000 directly, and developed materials to help secure over $10,000 in additional donations.

“I don’t know my opponents well enough to articulate their positions and how I’m different. All I know is I’m looking toward the future. I want to build a town that families will be drawn to because it’s the most beautiful spot in Maine, and because it's the best place to live in Southern Maine,” Geer said. “It will be a place where it’s possible to have a fun, connected life, where getting involved is easy, exciting, and rewarding. We have the ability to serve our people and provide an incredible experience of town life, without breaking the bank, and that’s what I want to do.”

According to Geer, she’s running for the Raymond Select Board because she loves to be busy and work hard.

“I love learning new things and stretching myself to take on new challenges. I’m starting to look out for the next thing to throw myself into now that it’s starting to be possible to safely expand my horizons,” Geer said. “I learned about this position and realized that I have a unique and valuable perspective to bring to the table, and I realized I would love to do that.” <