March 25, 2022

Town establishes new scholarship to help residents attend college

By Ed Pierce

Benjamin Franklin once said that an investment in knowledge pays the best dividends, and more than two centuries later the Town of Windham continues to follow his advice.

Windham residents of all ages are now eligible to apply for a new $1,000 scholarship for those seeking to pursue a post-secondary educational opportunity.   

The scholarship can be applied toward a four-year college or university, a two-year college or technical school, or a trade school. All applicants must submit a completed application to the town including a high school transcript and a one-page document indicating the student’s future educational and career objectives and why they feel they deserve this scholarship.

“This scholarship is available to any Windham resident looking to attend or further their careers in a two/four-year college or technical school,” said Marge Govoni, a member of the Windham Marijuana License Committee. “This scholarship is not limited like similar scholarships and age does not matter so it's a wonderful opportunity. I am thrilled that we are offering this scholarship."

In July 2021, members of the Windham Town Council committed to using licensing fees imposed by the town for retail and medical marijuana facilities for drug education and drug prevention programs. Councilors then approved a plan in August 2021 to award grants to applicants and create a scholarship for a deserving Windham student seeking to earn a degree in drug counseling or addiction treatment.

Since then, the council has opened the scholarship up to any deserving resident pursuing a postsecondary educational opportunity.

“I feel that when the town offers an opportunity to a community member then that person is in a better position to give back to their community,” Govoni said. “This is a very giving town, and I am more interested in how we as a community can help our residents."

Because marijuana licensing fees are collected throughout the year on a staggered basis, available funding for drug education grants and the scholarship will be on a continuing basis, Govoni said.

During a meeting in October, Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told councilors that the Marijuana License Committee was created to come up with criteria and review where monies collected from cannabis companies in licensing fees can best be used to serve the community. Under provisions of Windham’s Marijuana Business Licensing Ordinance adopted by town councilors in May 2020, a marijuana business license applicant shall also pay an education fee in an amount set by the council and granted at the council’s discretion to educational institutions or nonprofit agencies for support of initiatives aimed at educating Windham youth regarding marijuana and other drugs.

As of March 8, the marijuana business license education fee account had a balance of $31,210 and the council continues to award grants and funding for programs such as the new scholarship for Windham residents based upon recommendations of the Marijuana License Committee as requested through applications.

The deadline for submitting applications for the new $1,000 scholarship to the town is April 30. Applications are available online at or at the Windham Town Hall.

Completed applications may be mailed to Tammy Hodgman, Town of Windham, 8 School Road, Windham, ME 04062.

The new scholarship will be awarded by the town later this spring and may be used by a recipient starting as soon as this summer or by a student entering college this fall. 

Further information about the new scholarship and specific requirements are available by calling Hodgman at 207-892-1907.

"I want to thank the Windham Town Manager and the Windham Town Council for supporting this endeavor and as a community we are always looking for ways to help our neighbors and to help people succeed." <

Riding To The Top weathers pandemic, now fully reopened

Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center in
Windham  provides equine-assisted services for
children and adults with disabilities and has emerged
from the pandemic stronger than ever,
By Elizabeth Richards

Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding Center found creative ways to continue operations through the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve been fully reopened, though not without modifications since last summer.

“The good news is that things are feeling a little bit normal, albeit different,” said Executive Director Sarah Bronson. 

As of last summer, she said, all of their clients are back receiving services, including those who require the most support and may not be able to mask.

Bronson said they never dreamed they’d be closed for so long.

“I’m thankful that we’ve weathered and navigated through something totally unknown to any of us, and I feel like we’ve done it with as much grace as possible,” she said. 

The organization put together a six-phase reopening plan that they’d hoped to get through by the end of 2020.  It was July 2021 before it happened, Bronson said.

“It was a well thought out plan and I think we adjusted accordingly, which is what we needed to do,” she said.

While challenging to make the tough decisions around policies, it helps a lot when people are supportive and non-judgmental, she said. 

“Our ultimate goal is to keep people safe here and provide them with a meaningful experience that improves health and wellness, and if we have to wear masks, that’s a little compromise,’” Bronson said.

All the staff, volunteers, clients and families at Riding To The Top have been amazingly resilient and dedicated to keeping everybody safe, Bronson said.  They are still being conservative because of the close contact required in their programming. 

“I will love it when we can see all the smiles that have been hidden by masks but I’m willing to wait. I can see it in the eyes, and I know from families we’ve talked to what it means for their kids and their families. We take the steps we need to take,” she said.

In the Fall of 2020 and Spring of 2021, the organization provided remote education for two school groups, Canal School in Westbrook and Greely High School’s Functional Life Skills Program.  The program consisted of weekly half-hour ZOOM calls and culminated in a visit with two mini horses. 

“I didn’t know how much was sticking, but these kids learned so much remotely, I was floored,” Bronson said. 

In person school group programming resumed last fall, she said.

Riding To The Top is currently a secondary site for an National Institute of Health funded research project studying the impact of a 10-week therapeutic riding program on physiologic changes in children ages 6 to 16 who have autism. 

“It's really exciting to be participating in this,” Bronson said. 

The project was postponed for a year, but they are now successfully working with their third cohort of participants.

Last summer, assistance from The Shelter Man to purchase a tent allowed their summer camp program to resume. They just finished applications for their 2022 summer camp program. 

2022 also sees the return of events, such as a Derby Party in May, Ride-a-thons, sponsored runners at Beach to Beacon, and the Triple B (Boots, Bands & BBQ).

“We’re looking at what the options are, but moving ahead with plans for a live event,” Bronson said. 

The Triple B is the organization’s biggest fundraiser. In 2019, it brought in just under $190,000, a huge portion of the operating budget, Bronson said.  

Through federal funding and very generous donors, Bronson said, the organization has come through the pandemic in fairly good shape.  The challenge, she said, will be in the next couple of years, seeing what things look like.

One thing the pandemic made clear is that a significant endowment would be really nice, providing revenue of 3 to 5 percent of the principal toward operations. 

In 2021, the organization was approached by a philanthropist who set up a 3-1 match for donations to help purchase the solar array that was installed in 2012 that was owned by Revision Energy. In 2018, when the power purchase arrangement made the array available for purchase, RTT wasn’t able to do that, Bronson said. 

With the matching funds, they were able to get the donations needed from both individual donors and Norway Savings Bank to purchase the array at the end of 2021.  This purchase will save the organization $3,000 to $4,000 annually.

One of the big challenges currently is in finding qualified staff.  One long term staff member retired last year, and another is retiring at the end of March 2022. 

“Trying to find replacements is really hard.  The employment market is very, very tough at this time,” Bronson said. Still, she said she is confident that they will be able to fill vacant positions.  Last year, for instance, it was the barn manager position, which they filled with a former employee who decided to return.

“She’s a great fit,” Bronson said. “We did a little bit of reorganization to make it work.”

Though challenging, she said, times like that are also an opportunity to re-examine operations.

Volunteers are another constant need at the farm, both in the barn and for lessons.

“I feel very hopeful about the future,” Bronson said. “I do feel like the need is greater than ever and I think our challenge will be trying to meet that need with services.”

It’s hard to know just what the impact is for both school age kids and adults from the isolation the pandemic brought.

“I feel like the farm has been an incredibly safe place and a touchstone for so many families and volunteers.  I’m so in awe of everybody who have been so incredibly resilient,” she said. <

Sebago Lakes Chamber takes monthly event up a notch with birthday celebration

More than 35 business partners gathered on March 16 to help
George Bartlett celebrate his 83rd birthday at Busy Bee
Laundry in Windham during a Sebago Lakes Region Chamber
of Commerce Business Break event. Local businesses
raised $306 to donate to a Romanian Rotary Club where
Bartlett is an honorary member to help Romanians offer
refuge to Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country.
By Lorraine Glowczak 

Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce hosted its monthly Business Break at Busy Bee Laundry, 771 Roosevelt Trail, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16 and while the events are usually “after hours” business networking gatherings with the potential to meet dozens of new contacts or to reconnect with old ones in a fun social setting, this one was different.

This Business Break kicked the “fun social setting” up a notch or two when everyone who attended this networking event helped the owner of Busy Bee Laundry, George Bartlett, celebrate his 83rd birthday.

More than 35 business partners gathered as Bartlett blew out 85 candles (two candles for good luck) while members of the Windham Fire Department stood close by at the event in case any of the many candles on Bartlett’s birthday cake started a fire.

For those who may not know the 83-year-old Bartlett, the most common response from people 30 years or more younger is, “He has more energy than me.”

During the “Business Break” event, Bartlett showed his young and sprite spirit when he was a man of his word, climbing into one of his own dryers at the shop to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees.

As a result, the Business Break raised $306 to donate to a Romanian Rotary, where George is an honorary member. Many members of the various Romanian Rotaries are helping refugees who enter their borders.

Bartlett has operated Busy Bee for the past 37 years and as times have changed, he says the laundry business in Windham has too. Busy Bee’s vast array of washers and dryers still accept coins as the traditional method of payment, but now also take debit and credit cards too.

Serving the public and helping everyone find affordable and available laundry solutions is key to the continued success of Bartlett and his Busy Bee Laundromat.

“My father was in business for many years, and he gave me some great advice. He told me that a business goes through ups and downs and the best way to keep a business going is to serve the people,” Bartlett said. “That’s exactly what we do here.”

As a mechanical engineer, Bartlett says he’s always striving to find the best way to solve cleaning problem and has learned the latest and top techniques for cleaning garments through constant schooling, seminars, and personal experience.

“Many people come in with stains and problems that need our expertise and specialized equipment to help solve,” he said. “We’re here to help and everyone leaves here as a friend.”

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, representing the towns of Casco, Gray, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish, and Windham is one of the most active chambers in the entire state of Maine.

The chamber is led by Executive Director Robin Mullins and is comprised of business members ranging from young entrepreneurs and ‘mom & pop’ shops to the largest employers in our region and older and cherished friends and entrepreneurs such as George Bartlett.

To learn more, visit the Chamber’s website at  < 

Digital archives offer important New England historical records including Windham

The public can now access historical records from New
England history including a digital collection from the 
First Congregational Church in Windham, now called the
Windham Hill United Church of Christ and still operating
today. Records are available from over 100 churches in New
England in 90 communities for anyone interested in learning
more about the history of their state, community or family.
BOSTON – The Congregational Library & Archives, a specialty library in Boston, has announced the launch of its digital archive which contains more than 100,000 images across more than 4,000 extraordinary historical records that illuminate New England history.

Records from over 100 New England churches in 90 communities, with most records dating between 1634 and 1850, are freely available for those interested in learning more about the history of their state, community or family.  

The digital archive includes records from the First Congregational Church in Windham, now the Windham Hill United Church of Christ. The "Windham, Maine First Congregational Church records, 1743-1799" collection contains two volumes of church records, spanning the ministries of John Wight and Peter Thatcher Smith, which include detailed membership records. These materials have been digitized in partnership with the Maine Historical Society.

CLA's digital archive launch coincides with its first digital exhibit. Titled 'We do Give up ourselves to one another:'  Exploring digitized Congregational disciplinary records at the Congregational Library & Archives, the exhibit includes documents and stories found within the digital archive both to present compelling historical narratives about church disciplinary cases and to teach visitors about the unique genre of Congregational disciplinary records.

Just as we do today, Congregationalists in the colonial era and the early years of our nation struggled with the questions “what is our responsibility to one another?” and “how do we make amends to a community we’ve harmed?” This exhibit provides a window into how Congregationalists grappled with these questions and illustrates the important roles of forgiveness and repentance in bridging community divisions.

Congregational church records in CLA’s collection offer a rich and remarkable view of life in colonial and early American New England.

Well before the writing of the Constitution, each member in the early Puritan churches had an equal vote, with the power to govern themselves and to choose their own ministers. The records of these congregations document births, deaths and marriages, but also open a window onto the lives of ordinary people deliberating on matters both sacred and secular.

For much of the colonial period, church business was town business, and so beyond the usual information on births, deaths and marriages, church records show ordinary people making decisions about property, taxation and their representation in the larger affairs of the colony or state.

The digital archive currently includes over 170 collections that contain manuscript sermons, vital church records, church disciplinary records, minister diaries, the documented religious experiences of everyday Congregationalists across time and more. CLA will add collections to its digital archive in the months and years ahead.  

Many of the documents in the digital archive are being made available to the public for the first time as part of CLA’s New England’s Hidden Histories initiative.

In an effort to further increase accessibility for genealogists, historical researchers, students and all others, thousands of pages of transcription have been produced. Since 2005, the Congregational Library, in partnership with the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale and many local churches across New England, has been collecting records from church attics and basements and making them widely accessible through preservation and digitization.

Grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Council on Library and Information Resources have allowed CLA to work with more than a dozen other libraries, historical societies and cultural institutions to freely provide this wealth of digitized records. 

About the Congregational Library & Archives

The Congregational Library & Archives is a specialty library located in Boston. It fosters deeper understanding of the spiritual, intellectual, cultural and civic dimensions of the Congregational story and its ongoing relevance by collecting and sharing materials and by actively engaging with faith communities, scholars and the general public.   

To carry out this mission, CLA preserves and makes available materials pertaining to Congregationalism, the history of which has been interwoven with the development of the United States since the seventeenth century. CLA holds a rich collection of historical materials, which have significance not only for church history but also for social and political history and genealogy. In the last two decades, CLA acquired, digitized and transcribed early New England records in collaboration with an array of churches, historical societies, universities and cultural institutions as part of its New England’s Hidden Histories initiative. 

For more information about the Congregational Library & Archives, please visit or contact Interim Executive Director Martha Walz at  

The e library’s digital archive is available at <

In the public eye: Keach keeps watchful eye on Raymond finances

Charisse Keach has worked as the Finance
Director for the Town of Raymond since
September 2021 and she oversees all aspects
of the town's finances including providing
expertise in formulating Raymond's annual
town budget. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Editor’s note: This is another in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.

By Ed Pierce

Charisse Keach may be new to her role as Finance Director for the Town of Raymond, but she’s rapidly proving how valuable she is in helping town departments and the town manager, Don Willard, in the process of developing the Annual Raymond Budget to present to residents for the coming year. 

As Finance Director, Keach oversees all aspects of the town’s finances such as budgeting, investment of funds, financial forecasting and capital planning. She also responsible for invoice payments, payroll management, cash receipts, bank deposits and any other financial transactions for Raymond. She also works with the town’s financial advisor to prepare for bond financing and prepares required reports as mandated by federal, state and county agencies and serves as the chief liaison with the town’s auditing firm.

In her position, Keach also is responsible for seeking bids for all insurance and administering town employee’s medical insurance enrollment.

“I started on Sept. 9, 2021, and the best thing about what I do in my job is that no two days are the same. Each day comes with a variety of interactions, tasks and challenges,” Keach said. 

She’s originally from the Farmington area of Maine and graduated from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington and Thomas College in Waterville before relocating to Southern Maine in 2011.  

According to Keach, the opportunity to add to her skills and the potential for growth in her career led her to apply for the Finance Director position with the town last fall.

“Raymond is a small rural community offering a wide array of public services which to me is appealing when looking from the outside in,” she said. “It was an opportunity to better myself professionally and it aligned with my own personal aspirations in what I foresee the future holds for me.”

As the staff member responsible for management of all activities and operations of the Finance Department, Keach has been able to display her advanced accounting skills while demonstrating that she is accurate and detail oriented, possesses excellent customer service abilities and she’s resourceful and able to excel in a fast-paced municipal environment.

Of everything she encountered in little more than six months on the job in Raymond, Keach says that effective time management is one of the most challenging aspects of her job.

“It's a balancing act of trying to be accommodating to other department head's needs and requests all while trying to manage my responsibilities as Finance Director,” she said.  

Since becoming a town employee, Keach said her most memorable moment of working for Raymond is something that many people struggle with in today’s digital age. 

“Not being able to remember my security code to enter the building,” she said.  

Currently, much of Keach’s time and attention at work has been focused on creating a budget proposal in advance of the annual town meeting in June.

“The creation of the budget itself is really not all that difficult.  It's a matter of analyzing historical data while making projections for the budget year being developed taking into consideration trends, economic factors, contractual obligations, capital needs and more,” Keach said. “The other component is that it's not one size fits all.  What works for me isn't necessarily what works for others.”

She said understanding that there are many "stakeholders" involved in the process including department heads, the Town Manager, members of the Raymond Budget-Finance committee, the Raymond Board of Selectmen and finally the residents of Raymond, has helped guide her in crafting this year’s budget. 

“It's important that the budget can be understood by all these ‘stakeholders’ because once the registered voters cast their vote, the town is obliged to run its operations within the confinements of the budget as approved,” she said. 

All the work done to create the budget will ultimately culminate with a vote by Raymond residents to approve or disapprove it during the town’s Annual Meeting to be held on June 14.

Keach said that her family is proud of what she’s been able to accomplish so far working for the town and her career as a Finance Director and the impact that she is having upon the community that she serves.

“My family is very supportive and what they like is knowing that my role is an important and integral function of town government,” she said. <   

March 18, 2022

Windham joins Community Resilience Partnership

By Ed Pierce

Members of the Windham Town Council have adopted a resolution to participate in the Community Resilience Partnership, making the town eligible for grant funding for projects aimed at reducing energy costs and more resilient to climate change effects. 

During the council’s March 8 meeting, councilors unanimously voted to join the state initiative put forward by the Governor’s Office of Policy and Innovation Community Action Program. The partnership is a pilot program designed to increase municipal capacity and leadership to plan for climate change.

According to Gretchen Anderson, Windham’s Environmental and Sustainability Coordinator, Windham was selected to participate and has collaborated with the Greater Portland Council of Government and the Town of Bridgton to conduct three series of workshops for Windham town personnel, including town leadership, staff, and various committees, along with interested community stakeholders.

The workshops will discuss climate hazards and impacts, assess vulnerability of local assets to these hazards and identify actions and ways to improve community resilience.

By adopting the resolution and participating in the partnership’s pilot program, Anderson told the council that Windham is now able to explore available Community Action Grant funding for projects.

That funding includes grants of up to $100,000 if done jointly with another community or up to $50,000 if done separately.

“Specifically, if the activity is on the ‘List of Community Actions,’ there are no local matching funds required,” Anderson write in a memo to the councilors. “Therefore, the town could pursue $50,000 individually or $100,000 collaboratively with two or more communities.”

Anderson told the council during the meeting that to join the partnership, a communitymust meet three criteria of adopting a resolution of commitment, completing a pair of self-assessments, and to hold a community workshop to prioritize initial climate resilience and clean energy actions.

The Community Action Grants cansupport two categories of climate action bycommunities including an approved list ofclimate mitigation and adaptation activities that align with the strategies ofMaine Won’t Wait, and other projects proposed by a community that support capacity building, planning, and implementation projects. 
Benefits of participation are a range of options that offer
guidance for communities starting with climate plans andincentivizing a baseline level of climate action across the state. Those options also provide increased flexibilityby allowing communities like Windham to choose actions that are most relevant and feasible, while also providing support for community climate and energy saving priorities.

Projects which could receive grant funding are intended to address specific climate change effects such as flooding, extreme weather, drought, and public health impacts.  

“This program will give us a lot of options,” Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told the council.

Windham councilors voted unanimously to adopt the resolution.

The Maine Community Resilience Partnership is a $4.75 million grant program designed to help municipal and tribal governments start or improve climate action plans. The $20 million Maine Climate Infrastructure Fund, through the Maine Department of Transportation, will also provide grants to improve stormwater, drinking water, and wastewater infrastructure.

In the first year of Maine's climate action plan, more than 28,000 heat pumps were installed, as well as nearly 250 electric vehicle charging stations for roughly 6,000 electric vehicles across the state, so the initiative is making an impact in the state.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills said the state is making unprecedented strides to embrace clean energy, to reduce carbon emissions, to strengthen the state’s economy, and help our local communities fight climate change.” <

WCA students serve dinner to pastors to raise awareness of albinism

By Collette Hayes

Amber Sands, a student at Windham Christian Academy, says that despite its welcoming, friendly attitudes and beauty of its continent, some of the most challenging problems in the world, such as extreme poverty and terrorism, are found in Africa and one problem, the persecution of people with albinism, isn’t very widely known.

Windham Christian Academy students Amber
Sands and Jake Williams give a presentation
about problems associated with African
albinism during a dinner for local pastors
at the school on March 11.
“In some areas, as many as one in 1,000 people have albinism and live with daily persecution, loneliness, poverty and rejection.” said Sands, age 13.

Sands offered her remarks for pastors and other church leaders gathered for a free African dinner sponsored by the Middle School at Windham Christian Academy last Friday evening. They came to listen and to learn about the challenging circumstances the albino population in Africa continue to face each day.

The event began with dinner and included African recipes selected by the students and made with the help of Sue Hagerstrom, a 5/6 grade teacher and the school’s principal Jaclyn Sands. Students served an appetizing tomato onion salad followed by a Chickpea stew appetizer. The Ugandan Curried Potato entre was deliciously aromatic and a Basbousa coconut cake for dessert completed the meal.

“We got most of the recipes off of the internet,” said Ezra Heath, middle school student at Windham Christian Academy. “It took a lot of sifting through recipes to find African recipes that would work. This is traditional African cuisine.”

According to Rick Hagerstrom, a  middle school teacher at Windham Christian Academy, through the educational approach of service-learning, which supports and deepens existing curriculum and aligns with national and state learning standards, middle school students at WCA took action in raising awareness about albinism in Africa and they gained real-world experience as they applied their leadership, research and problem-solving skills.

“Our class goal with selecting this project was to educate and to show accurately how real the problem in Africa is for these people,” said Rick Hagerstrom. “Also, if possible, through the hope of the gospel, a congregation pastor might get involved and stand up as a light in a dark situation. My original thought was to ship large boxes of sunscreen to Africa to help protect the fragile skin of these people from skin cancer. I then found out that Peter Ash, a pastor in Canada and founder of the organization Under the Same Sun, had already started a sunscreen factory in Africa employing African people to run the company.”

Ash recommended that the WCA middle school students begin the project by reading the book, “Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan, a young adult fiction novel whose main character is a 13-year-old African boy who lives with the challenges of albinism.

“We started the project after reading the book,” said Heath. “The book is about albinos in Africa in the 1980s. We felt it was a great opportunity to further learn about this issue.”

Dinner was followed by an engaging, compassionate, and informative presentation by Windham Christian Academy middle school students who wrote the script and shared facts about the ongoing crisis of living with albinism in Africa.

“Many people in Africa believe people with albinism possess magical qualities and spread lies that albino limbs and bodily organs used in charms and potions bring power and good luck,” said WCA student Jake Williams. “There are several organizations that you can donate to and help the cause of albinism in Africa. One of these organizations is Under the Same Sun founded by Peter Ash. The organization helps to bring hope to these people by providing sunscreen, prosthetics and schooling for young people. Peter Ash once said that education is our greatest weapon against discrimination and the most powerful source for advocating our world toward change. Every dollar donated to Under the Same Sun goes toward children living with albinism. A few generous benefactors cover all of their administration and fundraising costs.” <

Riding To The Top elects new officers, receives $5,000 donation

 March has been a big month so far for The Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center of Windham with the announcement of newly elected officers, new board members and also receiving a $5,000 donation from Norway Savings Bank.

Norway Savings Bank has made a generous $5,000 donation
to Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center in Windham.
From left are Sarah Bronson, RTT executive director, Troy, a
RTT participant, Buddy, and Dan Walsh, the Chief Executive
Officer of Norway Savings Bank. SUBMITTED PHOTO   
New RTT officers include Casey Etter-Bobb (Board President), Janis Childs (Board Vice President), Carissa Robb (Board Treasurer), and Lindsey Lombardo (Board Secretary).  

New RTT board members include Tara Long of South Portland, a Senior Consultant with Kymanox, and Dr. Carrie Niederman of Portland, an Equine Veterinarian. They join fellow board members Shelby Poduch of Gray and Marisa Rossi of Casco in leading the nonprofit organization.  

Dan Walsh, President and Chief Executive Officer of Norway Savings Bank, visited and toured Riding To The Top’s Therapeutic Riding Center earlier this month where he witnessed the impact of the bank’s support for the Windham based non-profit.

This was Walsh’s first trip to RTT and in addition to presenting a check to the center for $5,000, he observed a lesson, met many of the RTT herd members and saw the solar panel array that Riding To The Top was able to purchase last fall, thanks to support from NSB and other donors whose gifts were matched by a solar energy philanthropist.

In addition to the bank’s financial gifts to RTT, Norway Savings supports the gifts of time and talent of their employees, many of whom volunteer at the center for special project work days or to serve on the Board of Directors for the organization.

“We are so proud of our long-standing partnership with Riding To The Top,” said Walsh. “Meeting the volunteers, staff and students was certainly a highpoint for me. It’s particularly gratifying that our support is not only assisting with their great mission, but also contributes to environmental sustainability on the farm.”

Since 2004, Norway Savings Bank has contributed over $155,000 to Riding To The Top in addition to the gift of many volunteer hours.

“We are grateful for Norway’s Savings Bank’s longtime support and we were glad Dan was able to visit the farm in person this year! We were proud to show him the impact of the bank’s contributions,” said RTT Executive Director Sarah Bronson.

She said Norway Savings Bank’s contribution jump-started RTT’s 2022 annual fund and RTT invites other Maine businesses to join in supporting services for children and adults with disabilities.

For more information, visit

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 in Windham, RTT is the state’s only year-round PATH International Premier Accredited Center and is 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-19.


For more information about client services, volunteering or making a gift, please visit us at or call 207-892-2813. <

Volunteers step up to serve on Windham boards and committees

By Ed Pierce

For those who volunteer for public service there’s no greater challenge and certainly no greater honor than to donate their valuable time on behalf of their fellow residents.

Six new appointments to town boards and committees have
been made over the past month by members of the
Windham Town Council. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE 
Last month, six Windham residents were appointed by the Windham Town Council to fill existing vacancies on town boards and committees.

All of the appointments are voluntary positions.

Maureen Denig was appointed by the council to serve on the Windham Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee for a three-year term to expire Aug. 15, 2025. 

Casey Dubay was appointed by councilors to serve on the Windham Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee for a three-year term to expire Aug. 15, 2025.

Councilors appointed Jennie Butler to serve a three-year term on the Windham Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, to expire Aug. 15, 2025.

The purpose of the Windham Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee is to encourage and promote recreational opportunities for the citizens through varied recreational programs and further development of the town’s parklands. In cooperation with Linda Brooks, Windham’s Director of Parks and Recreation, the committee recommends options and strategies to the Windham Town Council.

Peter Forbes was appointed by Windham town councilors to serve on Windham’s Board of Assessment Review for a three-year term to end Feb. 15, 2025.

The council also appointed Gary Lytle to serve on Windham’s Board of Assessment Review for a three-year term to end Feb. 15, 2025.

Windham’s Board of Assessment Review acts on complaints of property owners and revises assessments for the purpose of taxation of real and personal property within the town limits made by the Town Assessor. The board also adopts regulations regarding assessment review procedures not inconsistent with statutory provisions. 

The town council appointed Marge Govoni to serve on the Windham Planning Board for a three-year term to end Feb. 15, 2025.

The Windham Planning Board has seven members, and one alternate member who serve three-year terms. The planning board is authorized to review and to take action regarding site plans for major developments in Windham; review subdivision plans and land use ordinances and zoning amendments; and review developments in shoreland zones.

During a meeting on Feb. 22, councilors also set up a new Windham Town Council Ordinance Committee. Windham councilors David Nadeau, Jarrod Maxfield and William Reiner were voted by the council to serve on that committee. <

Maine House gives unanimous approval to Fay’s safe drinking water legislation

AUGUSTA – The Maine House of Representatives voted unanimously this week to advance a bill to support safe drinking water. LD 1891, sponsored by Rep. Jessica Fay, D-Raymond, would provide one-time funding to eligible owners of single-family homes or landlords for the treatment of private drinking water wells that show evidence of contamination.

State Rep. Jessica Fay
The Division of Environmental and Community Health estimates that one in 10 wells in Maine has high levels of arsenic, uranium, radon or other harmful chemicals. If passed into law, Fay’s bill would give households in Maine financial support to remove chemical contamination in their drinking water wells.

“Clean drinking water is not a partisan issue. Every household in Maine deserves to have clean, safe water— I think that is something we can all agree on,” said Fay. “I am proud that the Legislature voted unanimously in support of this measure, and I am thankful to all the advocates and members of the public who have shared their support. Passing this bill into law will bring us one step closer to ensuring that every kid in Maine has access to clean drinking water.”

During the public hearing for LD 1891 before the Labor and Housing Committee in February, several members of the public and organizations testified in support of the proposal, including the Maine State Housing Authority, Defend Our Health, the Maine Association of Realtors, Sierra Club and Maine Community Action Partnership.

“Bad well water begets bad outcomes. Arsenic can cause cancer and low birth weight infants; lead, as we all know can cause long-term intellectual damage. Other contaminants just make people sick in other ways. And while so many health issues today seem insurmountable, well water problems can often be solved in a straightforward and cost-effective way,” said Erik Jorgensen, the Maine Housing Authority’s senior director of government relations and communications. “My grandmother in Buckfield used to hand me a glass of water from her well and say without fail ‘now, taste that good Maine water.’ And she was right – the water in our state is delicious – some of the best anywhere. With this bill we move a step closer to assuring that our water is in fact as safe as it is refreshing.”

The bill faces further votes in the House and Senate in the coming weeks.

Fay is serving her third term in the Maine Legislature and represents parts of Casco, Poland and Raymond. She serves on the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and the Government Oversight Committee. <

March 11, 2022

In the public eye: McConkey settles into new role serving Town of Raymond

Melissa McConkey is serving as the 
Town Administrator and Communications 
Director for the Town of Raymond. She 
started working for the town in November.
Editor’s note: This is another in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.

By Ed Pierce

Melissa McConkey may be new to working for the Town of Raymond, but she’s already become an indispensable part of the team there serving the public.

McConkey joined Raymond in November 2021 as Town Administrator and Communications Director and while learning what’s required in her new duties, she’s a longtime resident who appreciates living locally.

“I have been a Raymond resident for over a decade and because I commuted to my prior job I was disconnected from the town,” McConkey said. “I have really enjoyed getting to learn about how our town runs and meeting the citizens of Raymond.  It’s a nice change of pace to feel connected to the town I call home.”

Although the town offices of Raymond itself are small, McConkey’s role there is vast.

“I have a variety of duties and responsibilities. My priority is the Assessing Administrator,” she said. “Our Assessing Agent is only here one day a week, so I handle all the administrative work such as incoming phone calls, entering tax and deed transfers and handling paperwork for Personal Property taxes and Tax Exemptions.”

She also provides administrative support to the Raymond Town Manager, Don Willard, and the Raymond Public Works Director, Nathan White, as needed.  

And if that wasn’t enough, McConkey also serves as the town’s Communications Director, providing the content for the monthly Roadrunner edition in The Windham Eagle and operating Raymond’s social media posts and town website page.

Born in Central Maine, McConkey and grew up and went to school in Gardiner.

“My husband is from the Lakes Region area and when we were in the process of searching for our home we wanted to be in ‘Greater Portland’ and we both really liked the feel of the Windham/Raymond community,” she said.

After enjoying a long successful career with her previous employer, McConkey was laid off in June 2021 and found herself looking for a new role in which she could contribute.

“I spent last summer decompressing and thinking about what my priorities were and what I wanted to do next. I knew that I wanted to be closer to home and work in a much smaller atmosphere,” McConkey said. “I had just started getting deep into my job search when I came across the opening at the Raymond Town Office. It felt like this job had been posted for me. I felt connected and confident through the interview process and knew that this was the new start I wanted to make.”

Stepping into the job meant a significant challenge for her in trying to become versed in the various rules and regulations that pertain to town government.    

“There are so many laws and ordinances to learn that are all new to me,” she said. “It can feel overwhelming in the beginning wondering how you will remember everything but the support from my co-workers and their willingness to help me learn has been invaluable.”

She says that her family approves of her new job and has encouraged her success working for the town.  

“My family is proud that I had the courage and confidence to go in a completely new career direction,” McConkey said. “They also enjoy that I have a lot more time at home.”

Having to quickly adapt and learn all of the intricacies of her new position wasn’t easy but McConkey has forged ahead and said her most memorable moment working for Raymond was rather simple.

“The first time I was able to answer a question without needing support,” she said. “It may sound small, but it’s a great feeling when you start to feel confident at a new job.” 

She credits her own family for setting strong examples for her to follow in her work.

“My mom and my grandmother are the two hardest working women I know and are my biggest role models,” McConkey said. “I get my strong work ethic from the two of them.

Among things she’s learned so far working for the town, McConkey said the public may not be aware that the Tax Assessor does not set the tax rate, assessors only establish a property’s market value.

McConkey said her goals working for the Town of Raymond right now is to absorb as much knowledge as she can and then figure out her eventual career path.

“I still have so much to learn but I am looking forward to figuring out what comes next for me,” she said. < 

Annual budget process formally begins for Windham

By Ed Pierce 

Windham has begun its budgeting process for
2022-2023 by submitting a proposal by Town
Manager Barry Tibbetts to the Windham Budget
Committee. The process culminates with a vote
by residents at the Annual Town Meeting in June.

With a unanimous vote of the Windham Town Council during a meeting on Tuesday night, the annual process of formulating Windham’s annual town budget for 2022-2023 is underway.

Councilors approved sending a preliminary budget developed by Windham Town Manage Barry Tibbetts to the Windham Budget Committee for review and then an in-depth examination of the budget will be discussed and finalized over the next few months by the town council. Once councilors sign off on a final budget package, the proposal will be voted on by residents during the annual town meeting to be held on June 18.

As part of the preliminary proposed budget sent to the Windham Budget Committee, Tibbetts included funding for local access roads in conjunction with Windham’s overall plan to reduce traffic congestion in the Route 302 corridor and funding for the new North Windham Wastewater system. His proposed budget also includes funding for the East Windham Conservation Project, preliminary engineering work on a Windham NorthWest Fire Station and to create more sidewalks in the town as part of the 21st Century Plan.

Tibbett’s preliminary budget proposal also continues funding included in the 2021-2022 town budget for the installation of smart traffic lights along Route 302 stretching from the intersection of Route 302 and Route 115 to White’s Bridge Road, additional capital equipment purchases and for renovation work on the Public Safety Building on Gray Road housing the Windham Fire and Police Departments.

Specific items in Tibbett’s new budget proposal includes funding for an engineering study for road improvements to the River Road and Route 202 intersection; firewall and switch replacement in town facilities; a Public Safety Memorial at the renovated Police and Fire Station; conservation of town records; a Windham Parks and Recreation Department storage container and reserves set aside for capital projects and for bonding use.

The initial budget amount that Tibbetts is proposing is $37,525,605, up an increase of about $3,065,802
from last year’s budget of $34,459,803. That’s about an 8.8 percent proposed budget increase.

Under the proposal, Windham’s Long-Term Debt obligation with a bond of $6.7 million would fund the new local access roads, open space purchases for the East Windham Conservation Project and abutting lands, South Windham Village Center Route 202 sidewalks, Route 302 sidewalks, new trash containers, River Road/Route 202 intersection improvements, and a wastewater system for North Windham.

Under short-term obligations, Tibbetts is proposing the lease/purchase of heavy equipment and vehicles for the town amounting to $850,000 for a plow truck, an ambulance, an ACO truck, a crime lab truck, a fire crew cab half-ton pick-up truck, a fire vehicle and two pick-up trucks, and CPR compression units.

The proposed budget also includes funding for rebuilding and paving Hall Road which is currently a dirt road.

If funding in this proposal is approved, the town would add a shared mental health services position for Windham Police with the Town of Gorham, create a field assessing position for the Town Assessor’s Department, and an assistant director position for the Finance Office, and add four new Fire/EMS personnel. It would restructure two positions with the Parks Supervisor moving to Grounds Maintenance and an Assessing Administrative position moving to a Special Projects position in the Town Manager’s Office.

Under the newly proposed budget, existing vacant positions for Code Officer, a part-time library assistant, tax collection clerk, a per diem Fire/EMS position, and a custodian would be eliminated. <

'Madagascar Jr.' opens strong in Windham

'Madagascar Jr.' opened on Friday, March 6 at the Windham
Center Stage Theater. Cast A, pictured here entertained the
audience and received rave reviews from those in attendance.
There are two more weekends to see the show for yourself.
Visit to get tickets.
By Elizabeth Richards

Windham Center Stage’s 2022 children’s show, "Madagascar Jr.," is a silly, energetic, fun respite from the craziness of the world.

Cast B opened last Saturday evening in front of a sold-out crowd, bringing the quirky characters from the classic children’s movie to life on stage. The show details the hilarious adventures of four best friends (a zebra, a lion, a hippo and a giraffe) who break out of the Central Park Zoo and end up on Madagascar. There, they must navigate the laws of nature and pull together to find their way home, with the help of some clever penguins who also escaped. The upbeat message at the end is that all they really need is each other to be happy, wherever they are.

The cast, though smaller than in a typical year for WCST children’s shows, filled the stage with high energy and enthusiasm. This is an ensemble show, and the main characters had a great rhythm and balance while on stage together, playing off each other well.

Each of the performers with larger roles captured the familiar personality traits that fans of the movie will easily recognize: Marty’s sassy sense of adventure, Alex’s love of the spotlight, Gloria’s straight talking voice of reason, Melman’s neurotic hypochondria, King Julien’s egocentric self-assurance and the penguins no nonsense, get things done attitude.

The musical numbers kept the storyline moving forward while showcasing the talent of the young performers, who were clearly enjoying every second. “Best Friends” highlights the friendship between Alex (played by Kaitlyn Dickson) and Marty (played by Leanna Rogers), with high energy, fun choreography, and animated expression.

“I Like To Move It” was especially entertaining and fun, evoking a sense of both excitement and chaos as the cast filled the stage to celebrate freedom from the Foosa.

Costumes and sets were kept simple for this show, requiring performers to convey the essence of their characters through facial and body movements and animated delivery of lines.

“Madagascar Jr.” was the perfect length at an hour and a half, including intermission. Each act was packed with enough action to keep the audience, filled with families and young children, fully engaged. At the end, after the curtain call, young members of the audience who had purchased animal ears when they arrived, were invited on stage for a lively dance party.

Before the show began, director Laurie Shepard said that her philosophy is that every actor gets a moment. The show clearly demonstrated this philosophy; even cast members in smaller roles had an opportunity to shine on stage. Those with smaller parts played two or three roles, and many of the musical numbers included the full cast.

With a familiar storyline, catchy musical numbers, and a cast that clearly enjoys what they are doing, “Madagascar Jr.” doesn’t disappoint. As Shepard said, it’s “a little light in a difficult world.”

“Madagascar Jr.” runs through March 20, with Friday and Saturday evening shows at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased online at <