November 24, 2021

RSU 14 takes option on Windham Center Road site

The RSU 14 Board of Directors have entered into an option
agreement with the owner of the property  at 61 Windham
Center Road as a possible new middle school site. Under the
agreement, the owner agrees to take the property off the
market for a period of up to two years. The cost of the option
is $110,000 for the first year and a second-year extension of
$10,000 per month with payments applied to a purchase
price if chosen. The site is one of many being considered 
for the district's new middle school, which is expected to be
built and open by the start of the 2026 school year.
By Ed Pierce

Exploring all possible options of where to locate a new middle school, the RSU 14 Board of Directors have entered into an option agreement with the property owner of 61 Windham Center Road in Windham. By entering into the agreement, the owner is agreeing to take the property off the market for a period of up to two years.

According to RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools Christopher Howell, the cost of the option is $110,000 in the first year and if the board votes to move forward with a purchase of the property, $100,000 of the payment would be applied to the purchase price.

“The option to extend in the second year is $10,000 per month. None of the funds from the second year would be applied at closing,” Howell said. “Again, the agreement is an option to purchase and not an outright purchase. By entering into this agreement, the owner is agreeing to take a very valuable piece of property off the real estate market.”

He that the property at 61 Windham Center is just one of the properties that is being considered for use by the school district for the new school.

“We are still in the process of looking at all 35-acre plus sites in the district,” Howell said. “The district chose to do an option on this particular property because it is the only property of this size that is on the market in Windham. We have not been approached by any other landowners in Windham about potentially using their property.”

Earlier this month, the Town of Raymond officially offered to donate up to 45 acres of land at 77 Patricia Ave. in Raymond for the site of the new middle school to be built by RSU 14, contingent upon the school district’s approval of the location for the middle school construction. 
Howell said the site on Patricia Ave in Raymond will be considered as part of the site selection process for the new school.

“It will take a couple of months to work through the site selection matrix to narrow down all possible places where a building can be sited. About 132 possible 35 plus acres sites have been identified for review,” he said. “Each will need to be examined to determine whether or not it should be a site to look at. Some will be quickly eliminated due to location or if they have been placed into trust or conservation. It will be some time before there will be additional decisions will need to be made. Most of the work will be taking place behind the scenes.”
Once the number of potential school sites has been narrowed by the project architect and civil engineers, the top few sites from that process will be sent to a community straw poll in 2022, Howell said.

“A final site will be recommended by the RSU 14 Board of Directors next year,” he said.

The RSU 14 board will use the straw poll and input from the project architect and civil engineer to recommend a site for purchase to the State Board of Education. The state will reimburse the school district for the site purchase and the reimbursement will be based on the average of two appraisals on the property.

The original Windham Middle School was built in 1977 and intended for a capacity of 483 students. That number has grown in the last year to 636 students, with sixth graders being housed for some classes at the adjacent Field Allen School, originally constructed in 1949.

In September, Raymond selectmen were told that the state has asked if Raymond would join Windham in sending students to the new school. Should the town not choose to do this, it is unlikely that the state would approve new middle school construction for Raymond in the future to replace Jordan-Small Middle School, which has 192 students and was originally built in 1960.

The Raymond Select Board offered the Patricia Avenue site to the school district so Raymond students could attend the new school, but Howell said that even if the new school is built in Windham there are no current plans to close Jordan-Small Middle School.

He said the district will continue to support Jordan-Small renovation work as part of its ongoing budgeting process

The new middle school is expected to be ready by the start of the 2026-2027 school year, Howell said. <

Celebration of Lights to debut at Cumberland Fairgrounds

Maine's Celebration of Lights, a brilliant display of colorful
holiday lighting for the entire family, runs from Nov. 26 to
Jan. 2 with two shows nightly at the Cumberland County
Fairgrounds. SUBMITTED PHOTO   
By Daniel Gray

For the first time, Maine's Celebration of Lights will be held at the Cumberland Fairgrounds this year. Over a mile of brilliant light displays will be showcased for people to drive through, a perfect winter activity for the whole family.

The drive-through event is scheduled to run from Nov. 26 to Jan. 2 and promises a spectacular holiday event for everyone to enjoy. The Celebration of Lights will be open from 5 to 7 p.m. and again from 7 to 9 p.m.

Those interested in attending can purchase tickets online now to make the process quicker.

EJ Dean, Maine Light Show's CEO, encourages people to do online ticketing instead of at the gate.

"We do charge extra on-site for those who didn't get tickets online, but we want to encourage people to purchase online. It's a much faster and smoother process for the on-site staff." said Dean. "It's to also show us how many people are attending so we can maintain how many cars are going in. We want to cut down as much traffic to the community as we possibly can."

To use the online system there are two ways to do it either by email or printed out as tickets. Once the tickets have been purchased, you will have a barcode scan sent to your email. Attendees can simply pull this bar code up on their phone or have it printed out for a worker to scan.

On weekdays, Monday through Thursday, the tickets online are $20 and $25 on-site for regular passenger cars. For limousines or small busses, it is $40. Weekends and holidays, the cost is $23 online and $30 on-site for regular cars, and $50 for limousines or small busses.
Featuring a mile of light tunnels and amazing displays, the event will include a special radio station to immerse the whole family into the holiday season. There will also be classic fair foods sold in a drive-through manner such as hot chocolate, water, fried dough, cotton candy, popcorn, and even fried Oreo cookies.

Both the light show itself and the concession stand are drive-through  only to limit the amount of contact for attendees and workers.

"The whole goal is to make the light show safe and enjoyable for the whole family, regardless of what your comfort level is during this time." Dean said.

The long process of putting the event together itself is a fun one too. Each year during the summer, new displays are created to keep it fresh for returning families.

Randy Parent, operating manager for the light show, has a fondness for what he does.

"I love this job and putting smiles on people's faces. Our company motto is making memories and it is so true. We do what we do so that people can make memories with their friends and loved ones. I've done this job my whole life and honestly have to say that is the best part." Parent said.

Like Parent, there is a crew of 10 who are dedicated to what they do, with two special crew members being Johan Kleynhans and Marius Smit. The set-up process is a lot of work and has them going around the clock. So much pride and passion is put into these light displays just to make families gawk in awe at the end result.

"When the light shows are running, we are always looking for ways to improve and additions we can make. We start fabricating our new light additions in late summer and that continues until right up to opening. We put a lot of pride and effort into our shows and therefore every piece is a labor of love, we think they are all great," Parent said.

At the light show, there are over one million lights used and, while the number of yards is unknown, it's surely in the thousands range. They use custom- built displays and animations that they work with partners on.

"It's a great event. There's a numerous variety of different scenes, different lights, silhouettes, and tunnels of lights. To watch the kids stare at all the hard work that's put in by the crew, it's pretty neat." Dean said.

To purchase tickets, head to <

Mamma Mia performance a hit with flair and surge of joy

Donna, played by WHS senior Alice Morrison, center, sings
with her girlfriends Tanya (senior Emma Chase, left) and 
Rosie (senior Peyton White, right), during the production
of Mamma Mia at Windham High School on Nov. 21.
By Lorraine Glowczak

It was an afternoon of outstanding talent as the cast and ensemble of Mamma Mia swept a captured audience away to a Greek isle in their sixth and final performance on Sunday, Nov. 21. The Windham High School auditorium was packed with individuals trying to remain still in their seats while watching the characters as they sang and danced to the popular tunes of ABBA on a marvelously crafted stage – a popular tourist villa owned by Donna, played by WHS senior Alice Morrison.

Morrison’s spectacular performance as a mother who raised her daughter Sophie (junior, Maddie Hancock) as a single mother on the island, is supported by a cast of other talented theatrical actors – all of whom mastered the genius of vocal harmony.

For those who may need a plot refresher, the audience follows the life of 20-year-old Sophie, who is engaged to be married to Sky (junior, Liam Yates). She has never known who her father is. However, discovering her mother’s diary reveals three possibilities, an adventurer named Sam (senior, William Searway), a writer named Bill (senior, Bradley Smith), and a banker named Harry (senior, Bradley Collins). Without her mother’s knowledge, Sophie mails a wedding invitation to the three men with hopes of having not only to discover who her father is but that he will also walk her down the aisle.

In the meantime, Donna and two of her oldest friends, a frumpy author named Rosie (senior, Peyton White) and a wealthy divorcee fond of facelifts named Tanya (senior Emma Chase who is also student director) prepare for the wedding.

The antics go into drama overdrive throughout the two-hour performance that are interspersed with famous ABBA songs. At the wedding, Donna tells Sophie - and to all gathered there - that her father could be any of the three men. The men do not want their paternity confirmed – each agreeing to be one-third of a father to Sophie. Sam reveals he has loved Donna forever and proposes to Donna, Rosie swoons over Bill, and Sky and Sophie sail away on an adventure.

One guest actor in the show needs a brief highlight and that is the priest overseeing the wedding, Father Alexandrios played by RSU 14’s Superintendent of the Year, Chris Howell.

But perhaps what makes this performance of Mamma Mia so special is the fact that it is the first theatrical live performance since the pandemic hit our shores. Director Rob Juergens, Windham Middle School’s Eighth Grade Social Studies Teacher, who has been directing both WMS and WHS plays for 25 years shares the emotions of the actors about returning to the stage.

“The feelings of everyone involved were complicated,” Juergens said. “Until we actually opened there was fear that we might be shut down from COVID-19. On opening night, I felt such a surge of joy. I was overwhelmed. Every night you could see the energy the cast put into the show, which was a reflection of how much they have missed performing.”

Juergens stated that over 250 people attended each night of the six performances and got to share in that same joy.

 “The audience support, and involvement showed how much they had missed events such as this too.”

Perhaps the first few lines of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” put the actors’ and community’s experience of returning to live theater best: “Ooh - You can dance -You can jive -Having the time of your life.”

Cheers to all the talented cast and crew who made returning to live performance a magical experience - including the following not mentioned above:

Ali-Sophie Koutalakis                                             

Lisa-Molly Plati                                                                                                              

Pepper-Teddy Becker                                            

Eddie (First week)-Dallin Duncan                         

Eddie (Second week)-Lucas Cormier                           


Hannah Bowker

Ashley Littlefield

Bella Bragdon

Kaitlyn Farrin

Stuart Gabaree

Victoria Lin

Rosario Lydon

Matthew Medina

Molly Plati

Maia Ransom

Bryce Smith

Riley Yates

Tech Director: CJ Payne

Choreographer: Vanessa Beyland

Accompanist: Betty McIntery

Producers: Jennifer Chase and Jennifer Searway

Music director: Dr. Richard Nickerson

The costume, tech and pit crew <








Festival of Trees to return to Windham Hill UCC

The Fourth Annual Christmas Festival of Trees will be held Dec. 3 to Dec. 5 at Fellowship Hall, Windham Hill United Church of Christ, 140 Windham Center Road in Windham. 

This much-anticipated event for the community of Windham is a showcase for local merchants and organizations as well as a fundraiser for Windham Hill United Church of Christ, the founding church of Windham and a historic landmark for the town.

Festival hours are 2 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. On Sunday, Dec. 5, the festival will be open from noon to 4 p.m. with the Grand Drawing of Winners to be conducted at 4 p.m. Sunday.

The church’s Fellowship Hall will be decorated for the Holiday season and refreshments will be available. 

There will be 20 decorated Christmas trees with lights, each one donated by one of our local businesses or individuals.

The tree sponsor will decorate the tree and then put gifts on and around the tree, many from their store or organization. Winners will receive the tree itself, with its lights and ornaments, all of the gifts on the tree, and all of the gifts under the tree.

At our last Festival of Trees, the winners took home everything from toys and gift items to kitchen supplies and jewelry. There was great excitement at the Grand Drawing.

This year there will be several new trees added to popular donors from the church’s last Festival.

Admission to the Festival of Trees is free and everyone is welcome to visit to see these beautiful trees with the gifts from our tree sponsors. There will be tickets on sale for 50 cents each, 10 for $5 or 40 tickets for $20.

A bucket will be in front of each display. One ticket will be drawn for each tree at 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

The winners will need to claim their tree and gifts by 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7.

This event is a fundraising activity of Windham Hill United Church of Christ to benefit their mission program featuring local, national and international missions including: Heifer International; the Root Cellar; Windham Food Pantry; Church World Service; SERRV; and many other organizations.

Windham Hill United Church of Christ is an Open and Affirming church, welcoming all who would come.

The church was founded in 1743 and has been central to the life of Windham throughout Windham’s history as a town. <

Echoes from past voices

Students Nadine Daigneault, left, and Caden
Roy were the winners in a contest to
accurately guess the age of the ash tree on
the grounds of Jordan-Small Middle School
By Charles Martin

Special to The Windham Eagle

It was a favorite weekend ride for my wife and me. The weekend trip took us through Webb Mills, past the Jordan-Small School, and into Windham.

It was here that our trip culminated, with the purchase of a car full of groceries from Hannaford To Go, the only local store offering the service at the time. One of the landmarks on the trip that always drew my attention was the Jordan-Small Middle School, a quaint, small intimate middle school with grounds that would match any in the state of Maine, thanks to Tom Gumble, groundskeeper for the school.

I told my wife, on numerous occasions, that I would someday teach at that middle school, and after a 35-year stint in the Oxford Hills School District, I pulled stakes and headed out for that adventure that awaits us around each corner.

I have not been disappointed in my move, as the school has lived up to what I imagined it to be. It is a very innocent, and laid back, a place where learning is fun, and one person’s problem becomes everyone's problem. I park each day in the lower lot, and my path into the school takes me by an old green ash tree, one that always captures my attention and in an odd way speaks to me with echoes from voices of the past.

Only a true naturalist can relate to what I am saying. The tree does not actually talk to me, but if you listen closely a mutual connection can be made. After kicking my way through the pile of fallen ash leaves while entering and exiting the school, I decided it was time to give that tree the attention it was seeking from me. I decided that determining the age of the tree was the best start in forming that relationship.

With guidance from Tom Gumble and Bill Nehez, the daytime custodian, I researched boring techniques in which tree rings can be counted to give the accurate age of a tree. With the Ash Borer being a real concern in the state, we decided that to bore the tree might cause undue stress which ultimately could cause death to the tree.

This is a chance we could not take. We therefore took an alternate route and used mathematics to get an approximate, but fairly accurate age. With the help of my students, we measured the circumference of the tree, 5 feet up from the ground and divided this number by Pi to calculate the diameter.

Each tree has a researched growth rate which is then multiplied by the diameter to give you your final answer. Tree growth rates vary from species to species, with the lower growth rates found in trees with slower growth rates.

After creating a schoolwide contest for guessing the age of the tree, two students, Nadine Daigneault and Caden Roy, were the winners, both guessing 156 years of age.

With the age calculated, we subtracted the age from 2021 and determined that the tree germinated in 1864.

By the way, in that year, in the world, Charles Dickens survived a rail crash, Kent, England, in which 10 others were killed. Nationally, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and within the state, the University of Maine, Orono was established. At the local level, Raymond reached a school population of 499 students and rattlesnakes, and panthers still roamed the local terrain.

A story related to me by school secretary Kerry Glew, that most intrigued me, was about one of the grantors of the land, Frances Small, who would travel by horse through the woods to Gray to teach music classes each week. She would set out on a Sunday night and return Friday evenings, a trip she made alone through the vast woods and waterways on a regular basis.

In relationship to the tree, those echoes from voices in the past shared with me that many classes over the years were held under the tree, with kids often times sitting on one particularly long branch that has since succumbed to the ice storm back in 1998. Class pictures were taken by the tree as students graduated from one school to the next.

An interesting note is Echoes from past voices that the tree has a slight bend to it as a result of the ice storm which has altered its growth pattern permanently.

Other stories that I have received from the tree are eye opening and amusing at the same time. Stories include snow drifts so high that kids snowmobiled off the roof of the school. A year-round bin placed in the back of the school yard provided farmers left over food from the school cafeteria, to feed their pigs. A common occurrence at the school was community suppers where students would decorate the tables with flowers and homemade placemats.

Ernie Knight, a resident who taught at Gould Academy, would entertain people after the supper by riding his unicycle around the parking lot to the delight of all present. In the early 1970s, a skunk unleashed its scent so strongly, that school had to be canceled for the day, a story that made its way to the Today Show.

Someday when you drive by, I hope you take the time to at the very least take a gander at the beautiful tree, but if time permits possibly take a stroll around it. Better yet, sit under it and listen closely, as you might also hear those echoes from voices past.

As I near my retirement date, you may see me outside with my kids, jumping into a pile of leaves from that special “wolf” tree or catching falling leaves during a warm autumn day. If so, I truly have captured the simple life that will usher me into retirement.

Note: In an attempt to preserve the rich history of Jordan-Small Middle School, I would love to receive any stories about school life, past and present regarding the school, so that they may be recorded for posterity’s sake. Please send stories to:

A special thanks to Bill Nehez, Tom Gumble and Kerry Glew for help with this project. <

November 19, 2021

Donated piano brightens local bookshop

Samuel Gifford plays a selection on a baby grand piano that
he and his wife, Elissa, donated to the Bibliophile Bookshop
By Briana Bizier

It all started with a 500-pound baby grand piano and a phone call. Samuel Gifford, a member of Raymond’s Select Board, is in the process of moving. Along the way, Sam was hoping to find a new home for his black Yamaha piano. 

“This piano was given to me back in 2005 by my mother-in-law Ethel Coppock Woodbury, my wife’s mother,” Gifford said. “She was actually terminally ill, in bed, when she gave it to me. It was a very sweet moment.”

The piano, Sam’s wife Elissa Gifford explains that it was considered a “recent” addition to her mother’s life. It was purchased in the 1960s when Ethel and her family were living in Pennsylvania. 

“Right before she passed, my mother was quite concerned about what would happen to her piano,” Elissa said. “Then my husband mentioned that he liked to play the piano, so my mom said ‘well, then it will be yours.’ That’s how it got to Maine.”

Maine is a familiar place for Elissa’s family, who have deep roots in the Raymond area. Although she was raised in Pennsylvania, Elissa’s family on her father’s side is from Maine; her great-great grandparents built the first place on Panther Pond, part of which is still owned by her family.

Sam and Elissa originally wanted to donate their piano to the Raymond schools, but a quick phone call revealed that neither Raymond Elementary School nor Jordan-Small Middle School had room for a baby grand piano. Gifford then called Raymond’s Town Manager Don Willard, who put Sam in touch with Joe Crocker in the town’s Parks and Recreation Department. 

“Like a lot of things in Parks and Rec, if there’s a problem or a donation that no one can figure out, it goes to me,” Crocker said.

He said that Raymond Parks and Recreation would love to have the piano. After Joe agreed, however, reality set in. 

“It turns out you need climate-controlled storage for a piano, you can’t store it on its side, and it’s a whole process to move this thing,” Crocker said. “I was thinking, this is crazy! Oh my gosh, how are we going to do this?”

The eventual solution came thanks to another member of Raymond’s Select Board, Teresa Sadak. 

“Teresa said I should ask the new bookstore in town,” Crocker said. “So I went and asked Jessica Thompson-McCombs, the owner of Raymond’s new Bibliophile Bookshop. We sat down and we talked about Raymond and her journey to the bookstore, and I finally said ‘there’s always an agenda when I come to visit,’” Joe told me, with a laugh. “When I asked her about the piano, she said yes, we’d love that.” Jessica plans to hold children’s piano lessons in her store, and the piano has also already played a starring role in several local musicians’ in-store appearances.

Elissa Gifford said that the sunny and inviting Bibliophile Bookshop feels like a natural home for her mother’s piano. “We’re pleased to have the piano where it is,” Elissa said. “My mother loved to read, and she loved to play the piano. It’s a perfect fit!”

Sam Gifford agrees. “When I first walked in to the Bibliophile, Jessica gave me a hug,” Sam told me. “She was so happy to have the piano. This store is so warm and welcoming. We’re very lucky to have this place, and the piano is living once more. My mother-in-law would be very happy with this.” Donating the piano to the bookshop is also a perfect fit for Sam, who is himself a published author of two books that he described as “murders,” with a cheerful laugh. “They’re really about human growth,” Sam explained, “the growth of an individual. He grows from a jerk to a fine person.”

Both of Sam’s books are now available for purchase at the Bibliophile, where they are displayed atop the piano he and Elissa donated. Sam is also planning on holding a book signing at the Bibliophile Bookshop later this year. He will not, however, be playing the piano during the signing. “I don’t play publicly,” Sam said, “because I’m not that good.”

Housing the piano in the Bibliophile Bookshop is a perfect solution for the Town of Raymond as well. 

"Sam and his family are really excited about the piano being in the Raymond community,” Crocker said. "We made a plaque for the piano so it always has a piece of their family attached to it.” The Giffords will also be able to visit their piano even after their move. “We’re moving way far away,” Sam joked as he told me about the home they are building along the Tenny River. Their new home sits on property that Elissa’s father purchased in the 1960s, the same decade he purchased the piano that now lives in the Bibliophile Bookshop.

It’s a happy ending for the piano, the Giffords, the Town of Raymond, the Bibliophile Bookshop, and Joe Crocker. “I usually can come up with a solution at some point,” Crocker said, “but I thought this piano donation was the one thing I wasn’t going to be able to figure out. But, with some help from community members, we were able to pull it off.”

If you would like to visit the Giffords’ baby grand piano in its new home, the Bibliophile Bookshop is located in Suite 14 of the Raymond Shopping Center at 1233 Roosevelt Trail. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. <

Diamond earns high marks for education record

The Maine Education Association has given 
State Senator Bill Diamond of Windham
high marks for his voting record on
educational issues in the state.
AUGUSTA – Senator Bill Diamond, a Democrat from Windham, earned high marks from the Maine Education Association for his voting record on education issues.

“As a former teacher, I know how crucial it is that our students receive a well-rounded education,” said Diamond. “In Augusta, it’s our job to help students and educators alike succeed. That’s why I’m proud of my votes this session to ensure every Maine student can access a quality education, and that our educators have ample support and resources to help their students along their educational journeys.”

This year, Sen. Diamond championed efforts to fully fund education at 55 percent for the first in the state’s history since it was mandated by voters in 2004. He also voted in favor of bills to ensure a good starting wage for school librarians and career and technical education teachers.

Making sure these hardworking professionals are paid a fair wage will help schools attract and retain quality workers, Diamond said.

MEA represents 24,000 Maine teachers and advocates for policies and investments that ensure that educators’ voices, values, and priorities are heard and respected both in the workplace and at the State House.

Diamond said that he remains committed to fighting for Maine students, teachers, and school staff in the Legislature.

Currently serving his 10th term in the Maine Senate, representing constituents in Windham, Raymond, Standish, Casco, Baldwin and Frye Island, Diamond has had a distinguished career in public service.

He is currently serving as the chairman of the Maine Legislature’s Transportation Committee. In previous terms, he has served as the Senate chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice, and as a member of state’s Government Oversight Committee. In the 124th Legislature, he served as the Chairman of state budget writing committee known as the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

From 1989 to 1997, Diamond served as Maine’s Secretary of State and during his tenure was credited with improving efficiencies within the Department of State. Before his tenure as Secretary of State, he served three terms in the Maine House of Representatives, including one term as Majority Whip. In addition to public service, he has extensive experience as a small-business owner for more than 40 years, and as a teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools in the Windham and Raymond school systems, where he worked for 20 years.

The complete Maine legislative scorecard from MEA can be found here. <

Ridgeline Exteriors, Fuller Center volunteers team up to assist Vietnam veteran

Ridgeline Exterior employees and Fuller Center volunteers
celebrate after putting as new roof on the home of ailing
Vietnam veteran Michael Porter of Raymond on
By Lorraine Glowczak


It takes a bit more effort these days to see that good things still happen in the world; and when there is an attempt to make positive change, it may feel as if it is just a drop in a bottomless bucket. But an area business and a local non-profit organization combined their efforts to fill the ocean of challenges for four area residents last Thursday on Veterans Day.

Among those to receive assistance included Vietnam veteran, Michael Porter of Raymond. Porter, who has been diagnosed with Agent Orange poisoning and experiences neuropathy received a free roof provided by Ridgeline Exteriors, a professional exterior and roofing company based out of Sanford.

Porter was a carpenter all through his adult life before his physical challenges required retirement. “I rebuilt the entire inside of my house including the roof,” Porter said, referring to the home he has lived in for the past 35 years. “I spent half of my life building roofs and it was annoying as all get out that I could not be on my roof helping them out.”

The Vietnam Veteran entered the U.S. Marine Corp in February 1968. He was shot in the line of duty and was sent home due to his injuries in January 1969. Porter shares his gratitude to Ridgeline Exteriors and its employees.

“I really appreciate what they did for me. They did a wonderful job. It was so fun to see all those volunteers in my yard and it was great having all those people around,” said Porter who has no family nearby but says he is fortunate to have a traveling nurse and a housekeeper assigned by the Veterans Administration to check in on him. 

The volunteers that Porter referred to were not only the Ridgeline Exteriors employees but board members and friends of the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing, a local nonprofit that provides safe and adequate housing repairs for older adults who own their own homes and are aging in place. 

The Fuller Center learned of Porter’s needs through a town of Raymond contact and had helped him repair and move a shed about three months ago. They were there with the professional roofers to celebrate the collaborative endeavors between the two organizations before the team of Fuller Center volunteers dispersed to other worksites. 

“It was during the repair effort at Michael’s early this summer that we realized the roof needed to be replaced,” Diane Dunton Bruni, President of the Fuller Center said. “As board members, we are limited in professional skills such as roof repair and when we discovered Ridgeline Exteriors offers free roofing to veterans, we reached out immediately.” 

The Fuller Center called Vice President of Sales at Ridgeline, Larry Ewing, to ask if the company would agree to help Porter out. The results were positive.

“We have offered a free roof to one veteran per year for a while now,” Ewing said. “Here at Ridgeline Exteriors, we have a soft spot for our veterans. And Wayne Perry, the owner, holds a special place in his heart for Vietnam vets as his uncle served in that war and he wants to honor those soldiers who were treated with hostility upon their return back to the states.

While the professional roofers continued to complete their project, the Fuller Center volunteers separated in teams of four to offer services such as small home repair, leaf raking, hedge cutting, gutter cleaning to other older adults in the area. John and Linda Gregoire of Windham were among those to receive assistance.

“We’re so grateful for the help,” Linda said. Her husband John was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord) in 2007. 

“[The volunteers] cleaned the gutters and rented a bush hog to cut back several years of overgrowth that had taken over the yard. They brought it back to the yard I remembered and we once enjoyed so much. It was such a big job and I could not have done it by myself.”

Helping others is important to the Fuller Center and they realize they cannot do it all on their own.

“We believe every older adult should never be prevented from living in their home where they have raised their children and made lifelong memories despite the difficulties they may face,”  

Dunton Bruni said. “Collaborations with other organizations such as Ridgeline Exteriors not only allows the Fuller Center to fulfill its mission and purpose, but it increases the potential for change – and offers more hope to more people.”

Although current times and situations can drag the spirit down, there are still droplets of goodness that can be captured. The collaboration of Ridgeline Exteriors and the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing makes efforts to do just that. As St. Teresa of Calcutta is quoted as saying, “We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”

To learn more about Ridgeline Exteriors, which also provides siding, windows and gutter work, call 207-432-0810 or visit them online at or on Facebook at RidgelineExteriorsME.

To volunteer, donate or learn more about the Sebago Lakes Fuller Center for Housing, visit them online at or follow them on Facebook at Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing. <

In the public eye: Raymond Deputy Fire Chief Cathy Gosselin serves town with distinction and enthusiasm

Cathy Gosselin has been a member of the
Raymond Fire/Rescue Department since
1998 and also is the Health Officer for the
Town of Raymond. She has served as
Deputy Chief of Raymond Fire/Rescue
since 2002. FILE PHOTO
By Ed Pierce

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

Cathy Gosselin has spent more than two decades protecting and serving residents of the Town of Raymond and continues to be an outstanding example of how a dedicated public servant can make a significant difference in the community.

Gosselin has worked for the Raymond Fire/Rescue Department since 1998 and has served as Deputy Chief of Raymond Fire/Rescue since 2002. She also has duties as the Health Officer for the Town of Raymond, a role she’s performed for the past 10 years.

“I work as a paramedic/firefighter for the town and oversee the EMS division including the staffing, training, scheduling of call company shifts,” she said. “As the health officer, I deal with town health policies, and work to assist families and residents challenged with housing and/or medical needs.”

These are duties that Gosselin welcomes, and she says that she’s currently working on obtaining American Rescue Plan and Federal Emergency Management Agency grants for the town to help Raymond overcome lingering obstacles as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has been a challenge with the pandemic to keep up with all of the medical changes and recommendations regarding COVID-19,” Gosselin said. “Everybody has been affected in some way by the pandemic and trying to keep everyone's enthusiasm for following guidelines can be a challenge. The fire/rescue departments around the state have lost call company personnel in the past few years and the need for more to go into the field is needed now more than ever.”

As Raymond’s Health Officer, Gosselin is charged with investigating possible public health hazards and risks within the town, taking action to prevent, remove, or destroy any public health hazards, taking action to lessen significant public health risks, and enforcing health laws, rules and permit conditions, and taking the steps necessary to enforce orders.

In her role as Raymond’s Deputy Fire Chief, she supervises and coordinates the activities of firefighters, including responding to emergencies, providing proper training, managing firefighters, conducting training, and ensuring that department policies and procedures are followed. She assists Raymond Fire Chief Bruce Tupper in setting goals for the department, establishing policies and procedures, handling grievances, disciplining subordinates, meeting with union representatives, preparing the budget, and periodically reviewing equipment for safety and purchasing new equipment as needed. It’s a high-profile job within the town and comes with a defined public presence, often means that Gosselin is called upon to speak at area schools, community events, press events and other meetings as needed.

For many shut-ins and elderly residents, Gosselin has been a lifeline throughout the pandemic by performing phone check-ins with them and helping them survive by running errands for them such as going to the grocery store and picking up necessities like prescriptions or arranging transportation to doctor appointments. It shows a commitment to going above and beyond to assist the most vulnerable members of the community who are struggling and speaks volumes of how much she cares about all residents of Raymond.        

Gosselin said that her job never gets boring, and she likes that no two days are ever the same.

“I like the fact that every day is different, and you get to interact with the public. Throughout the pandemic, I have had a great group of volunteers who made phone calls to the shut-ins, helped with food insecurity and the education of the general public. The fire department staff are a great group to work with and help make a big difference in Raymond.”

She grew up in Windham, and met her husband, Bob, while attending college. 

“I started in the EMS field 30 years ago while working for the Windham Fire Department once my children were in school and I became a paramedic in 2001,” Gosselin said. “We moved to Raymond in 1998.”

She and Bob raised four children now adults and they have four grandchildren.

“The grandkids are the most excited over my career as they like seeing fire trucks,” Gosselin said.

In her free time, Gosselin enjoys a range of family and outdoor activities, and she also likes gardening, reading, and traveling.

As far as her best advice for those who are considering becoming a firefighter, Gosselin has some simple thoughts.

“For those that are interested, understand that most full-time positions require both EMS and firefighting certifications,” she said. “The training required to do the job is never ending to keep up certifications and licenses but your commitment to your career will be rewarding.” <

Raymond resident ready to launch military career in U.S. Army

By Ed Pierce

Cameron Wescott of Raymond, 18, is a 2021
graduate of Windham High School who has 
enlisted in the U.S. Army. He will attend
boot camp and receive job training at
Fort Benning, Georgia.
When you’re young, one of the most significant decisions you can make is choosing a career that is not only interesting but offers room for advancement and exceptional benefits. Cameron Westcott of Raymond has chosen his career path and that is military service in the U.S. Army.

Wescott, 18, is a 2021 graduate of Windham High School and enlisted in the Army earlier this year. He’s on his way to Fort Benning, Georgia for boot camp and job training and Wescott says that he couldn’t be happier.

“The Army has always had my attention,” Wescott said. “Growing up, a good friend of mine’s father was serving in the U.S. Army, and this is something that I always wanted to do.”

The son of Jennifer Wescott of Raymond, Cameron will train to become a cavalry scout in the Army and he’s eager to get started.

“I looked at the infantry and it seemed a little basic to me,” Wescott said. “As a cavalry scout, I will learn to repair and drive vehicles and the job seems much more important in my eyes.”

He will arrive in Georgia as an E-2, Private First Class and hopes to draw an assignment to serve in either Germany or South Korea.

“Those are places I’d really like to see,” he said. “I’ve always liked the German language and wanted to visit there. The same thing for South Korea. Either one of those places would be great for me.”

According to Wescott, his family is very supportive of his decision to enlist in the Army.

“They are happy for me, a little bit nervous, but very excited,” he said. “A couple of my close friends who are now in college have told me that they thought serving in the military would be a good idea.”

Throughout high school, Wescott worked at McDonald’s, but was also in Drama Club during his freshman year at Windham High School.

“I’m into fitness and like to run a lot,” he said. “I also enjoy hiking, climbing and the mountains.”

Once he decided to enlist, Wescott said his mindset is to make the Army his career.

“I thought this if I was going to do this, I needed to be in all the way,” he said.

He’s aware that military service is not for everyone and requires devotion to the nation and following strict rules.

“Some of the things that will make me a great soldier are my ability to follow directions and I can adapt to any situation that could arise,” Wescott said. “I’m also pretty good at making friends too.”

Of all of the things he’s looking forward to learning about in the U.S. Army, Wescott says leadership is at the forefront for him.

“I want to learn how to be a leader and push people to do their very best,” he said. “I’m also eager to push myself father than I’ve ever been before.”

Wescott will be in training for 26 weeks in Georgia before drawing a permanent assignment in the Army. <

November 12, 2021

Raymond site donation one of many areas under scrutiny for new middle school construction

A civil engineering firm and the project architect will use a 
specific matrix to identify sites to build a new middle school 
to the RSU 14 Board of Directors. On Tuesday evening the
Raymond Select Board donated a 45-acre site on Patricia
Avenue for school construction, but it is one of many
different sites the district will look at before making a decision
next year. The new middle school is expected to open by
the start of the 2026 school year.  PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
By Ed Pierce

The Town of Raymond has officially offered to donate up to 45 acres of land for the site of the new middle school to be built by RSU 14, but multiple other locations are also under consideration as well.

On Tuesday evening, the five-person Raymond Board of Selectmen formally extended an offer to donate a 45-acre parcel at 77 Patricia Ave. in Raymond to RSU 14, contingent upon the school district’s approval of the location for the middle school construction.

“The civil engineering firm that has been assigned to our project is working through the process of reviewing all possible 35-plus acre sites,” said Christopher Howell, RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools. “Each site will be graded on a variety to attributes to determine whether or not it is a good fit for the project. The site at 77 Patricia Ave. will be considered and scored during the site selection process.”

Howell said that civil engineers from Stantec will examine each potential school site for feasibility using a site selection matrix that includes specific categories.

Some of those categories include probable developable acres; traffic; distance to public safety; student transportation; population density around the school site; environmental concerns such as wetlands and vernal pools; distance to infrastructure such as three-phase power, public water, sewers, and natural gas or other utilities; and topography of the site for development costs.

“The district is looking to narrow down potential sites by the end of this year,” Howell said. “The target would give the district ample opportunity to conduct environmental studies on a location. The final straw poll vote on a potential site is tentatively scheduled for October 2022.”

Lavallee Brensinger Company of Portland is serving as architects for the project.  

According to Howell, both the architect and Stantec will help the district with the decision matrix, which will be presented for the straw poll.

“The top couple of sites from that process will be sent to a community straw poll,” he said. “A final site will be recommended by the RSU 14 Board of Directors next year,” he said.  

The RSU 14 board will use the straw poll and input from the project architect and civil engineer to recommend a site for purchase to the State Board of Education. 

The state will reimburse the school district for the site purchase and the reimbursement will be based on the average of two appraisals on the property.  

Earlier this year, RSU 14 was informed that the Maine Board of Education had approved construction of a new middle school for Windham and a process was initiated for seeking a site to locate the new school.  

The original Windham Middle School was completed in 1977 and was built for a capacity of 483 students. In the past year, that number has grown to 636 students, with sixth graders being housed for some classes at the adjacent Field Allen School, originally constructed in 1949.

In September, Raymond selectmen were told that the state has asked if Raymond would join Windham in sending students to the new school. Should the town not choose to do this, it is unlikely that the state would approve new middle school construction for Raymond in the future to replace Jordan-Small Middle School, which now has 192 students total and was originally built in 1960.

Howell has said that sending Raymond students to the new Windham Middle School was not part of an agenda to close Jordan-Small Middle School, but rather that the state is looking to combine smaller schools. He said renovations for Jordan-Small Middle School will still be included in the RSU 14 budget, but that the state will be unlikely to approve funding for any new construction for Jordan-Small Middle School going forward.

During several public hearings in Raymond conducted in September about sending students to the new middle school, the sentiment of those attending the hearings seemed to favor joining the new school.  

“In the public hearings, families shared that they liked being part of the RSU.  Additionally, many shared that they liked the small school feel of Jordan-Small,” Howell said. “Throughout that process, the RSU reiterated that there were not any plans to close the building as part of any district restructuring.  The question facing the Town of Raymond is about whether they should be part of this opportunity that has been given to the district.  I feel that I can move forward with a decision that is made in either direction.”

The new middle school is expected to be ready by the start of the 2026-2027 school year, Howell said.

RSU 14 first applied for the Maine Department of Education’s Major Capital Construction Program in 2016 for funding for construction and was ranked as the fifth-highest priority among 74 proposed school construction projects statewide each year before gaining DOE’s approval in March. <

Happy-go-lucky Windham girl shows inspirational path to success

Kayla Fillinger, 18, has overcome an intellectual disability
and will graduate from Windham High School in June 2022.
By Abigail Davis

Kayla Fillinger has lived in Windham her whole life and at the age of 5, Kayla was diagnosed with an intellectual disability. Growing up a middle child sandwiched between two brothers, Kayla’s parents raised her to be an intelligent and well-rounded young woman. 

Her older brother, Fred Fillinger, thinks the world of his sister, saying she is, “Talkative and funny,” and that “She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.” Her mother, Elizabeth Fillinger, adds to her son’s admiration. “She loves animals, loves being around people,” she says. “She loves being outside. Just go, go, go.”

As children, Kayla and her siblings enjoyed summers swimming and tubing on Little Sebago Lake, where the family still resides today. In the summer and especially during the winter months, Kayla enjoys weekends and vacations at her family’s camp in Mars Hill, Maine. At camp, Kayla enjoys riding RZRs (side by side ATVs), snowmobiles and four-wheelers. As Kayla and her brother have gotten older, Fred has found a great appreciation for his sister’s ambition. 

Her mother explains. 

“She can ride the four-wheeler better than I can and a snowmobile faster than I can," she said. "We don’t let any part of her disability affect her trying something.” 

Kayla laughs and shrugs, “A little bit fast,” she says. 

Fred is proud of his sister’s versatility on the toys. “I enjoy when we get to go for snowmobile rides up North,” he says. “She always makes it a fun time.”

Throughout her schooling, Kayla has had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that ensures that she receives specialized instruction and related services. Her mother said she feels that the RSU 14 Windham/Raymond School District has been good to her daughter. 

“They’ve been very supportive,” she says. “A lot of times, they (Kayla’s instructors) come up with suggestions. I feel they’re always looking out for her best interest …. Or, if I bring something to their attention, they’re open and responsive. As long as it’s something they can do, I’ve never had something not happen. They are very receptive to anything I suggest and vice versa.” 

She believes the school is great and has no complaints.

By the time high school rolled around, Kayla was eager for the adventure. Elizabeth smiles, remembering Kayla’s start of high school. 

“She was very excited,” she said. “At the time, her brother and cousin were in the high school.” Kayla says that she most looked forward to hanging out with her friends.

Now a senior at Windham High School, Kayla talks about her day at school. She shares that she learned how to make steak and cheeses and buffalo chicken sandwiches. Elizabeth is happy with what her daughter is learning. 

She’s in a life skills program and it’s really good because she still has her academics,” she explains. “But then they (the school’s classroom) have a washing machine in there, and they cook in the classroom. And of course, now she’s going to PASS.” Positive Approach to Student Success (PASS) is a comprehensive, multilevel special education program. 

Aside from getting to see her friends, Kayla’s favorite part of school is exercise class. “Biking,” she says happily. “I only do biking.” Kayla also enjoys any opportunity to go outside, informing her mom that Mr. McNeill, a life skills teacher, is her favorite teacher because he takes her class outside a lot and her favorite place to be is in the outdoors.

Kayla’s extra curriculars include playing for Windham High School’s Unified Basketball team. Unified basketball joins students with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team, fostering inclusion and promoting understanding through sports. Kayla has only had the chance to play one season on the team due to the pandemic canceling team sports her sophomore and junior year. 

But Kayla plans to play her senior year. 

“As long as they have it,” Elizabeth says, “she’ll do it again.” Elizabeth appreciates the unified team and players. “I have found they have created friendships and relationships with these students and the students are amazing with the team,” she says. “I know a few of the girls Kayla really took a liking to and they would all do her hair before each game. Many talk to her outside of school as well as whenever she runs into them, or she Instagram/Snapchats them.”

Kayla has also participated on Windham’s Special Olympics team. The Special Olympics is a global organization. At the high school level, it aims to promote social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. Leading up to the big event, teams across the state train for the Special Olympics. Over the years, Kayla has participated in a variety of Special Olympics events for Windham. “She has participated in swimming and track,” Elizabeth shares. “They used to do bowling. For  track it used to be the standing long-jump. The 100- or 50-meter dash, the relay and softball throw. They each usually have three to four different activities.” At the last track event, Kayla was challenged by the running long-jump.

As senior year draws to a close, Kayla is looking forward to graduation. She has already chosen which color she’d like for her cap and gown: maroon. 

Asked about the future, Kayla shared her desire to work someday. “At McDonalds,” she says. “Yeah, McDonalds.” Elizabeth laughs, reminding her that she can’t eat the fries. “No,” Kayla replies happily. “During break maybe?” Elizabeth is also researching adult programs, such as REACH, for Kayla after graduation. <