June 24, 2022

Residents approve East Windham Conservation Project during Annual Town Meeting

Three Windham Town Councilors, from left, Ed Ohmott, 
Mark Morrison, and Jarrod Maxfield, vote in favor of a town
warrant article during Windham's Annual Town Meeting on
June 18 at Windham High School. At the meeting, town
residents approved the town budget for 2022-2023 and also
approved a bond using open space impact fees to help
purchase 661 acres near Little Duck Pond in East Windham
to create a new outdoor recreational area.
By Ed Pierce

Along with approving a near $38 million annual budget and associated warrant articles during the annual town meeting on June 18 at Windham High School, residents also voted to allow Windham to enter into a partnership with Presumpscot Regional Land Trust to purchase and conserve 661 acres near Little Duck Pond in East Windham.

The East Windham Conservation Project would acquire the forested acreage for recreational opportunities in Windham while also adding 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond, the 150-acre Deer Wintering Area for hunting, and the 580-foot Atherton Hill, the tallest hill in Windham.

Earlier this month, the Lands for Maine’s Future organization awarded the East Windham Conservation project $998,000 to help fund the initiative. The project will directly abut more than 1,000 acres of other conserved land in Windham and Falmouth, including Lowell Preserve, North Falmouth Community Forest, and Blackstrap Hill Preserve, providing 20 miles of interconnected trails and five trailheads for public access, and amounting to one of the largest unfragmented forests in the Greater Portland region.

Voters approved a bond to match the LMF award with open space impact fees so there will be no impact upon the mil rate for local homeowners. The project will preserve a part of Windham that residents have identified is an important area to conserve during increasing concerns about local development, offers scenic views of the western mountains and offers a place for outdoor recreation.

Amanda Lessard, Town of Windham Planning Director, said that in the latest Open Space Plan, Windham identified this area of East Windham as important to conserve for its large undeveloped habitat blocks, preservation of rural character and water quality protection.

Lessard said that Windham has been collaborating with the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust over the past six months to engage the community on developing a vision for this property.

“With guidance from the steering committee, we held two community meetings, site walks of the property, and put out a town-wide survey that had 900 responses,” she said. “The top-ranked community benefit identified by the survey was to conserve the land to remain undeveloped for wildlife habitat, water quality protection and rural character. The second-highest ranked community benefit was to provide multiple-use outdoor recreation and create access for the whole community. Finally, the top four highest-ranked activities that will bring respondents to this land once it is conserved are walking, hiking, visiting an observation tower with 360-degree views including scenic views of the White Mountains.”

The plan envisions a year-round trail head parking area, multi-use trails, access to fishing, hunting and wildlife observation area, a universal access trail connecting from Falmouth Road to Little Duck Pond and Atherton Hill, an observation tower that will provide scenic views to Casco Bay and Mount Washington, and destinations with scenic views of the western mountains and the pond.

Rachelle Curran Apse, Executive Director of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, said that the land trust is grateful to be partnering with the town of Windham to conserve the area for the future.

She said that the Land Trust will lead a private fundraising effort over the summer to raise the remaining funds needed to conserve the land and that support and donations will be needed to finalize the project.

The bond for the conservation project was just one of a series of town budget warrant articles which were approved during the meeting.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbets told those in attendance that while town revenues are up $1.5 million, excise taxes, building permits and other revenues are expected to be flat or down for the coming year. He said revenue sharing from the state has been set at $2.5 million, with Windham expected to receive about $1.63 million from Cumberland County.

Tibbetts said TIF funding for the year ahead also is expected to be flat because of anticipated expenditures for local access road funding and for the North Windham wastewater project. The approved budget takes into account increases in labor relations contracts, and general health and benefit increases coupled with the RSU 14 budget.

The 2022-2023 town budget also includes the expense of adding six fire-EMS personnel, and fixed cost increases from rising electric and fuel expenses, along with medical and dental contractual obligations, bonding, and capital equipment leases. The budget also funds other initiatives in Windham such as intersection engineering for River Road/Route 202; preliminary development of a Northwest Fire Station; Firewall and Switch Replacement for municipal buildings; creating a Public Safety Memorial at Windham’s Public Safety Building; records conservation; Collinwood Circle and Running Brook Development; purchase of a recreation storage container; and providing reserves for capital projects and bonding.

Several residents attending the meeting also inquired about the status of the trash and recycling contract for the town and if the Pay As You Throw program will be eliminated.

Tibbetts said that the town is still negotiating with Pine Tree Waste, Inc., also known as Casella Waste, on a new contract to replace the one that expires next year. He said the contractor wants to modify the contract because of staffing issues to require separate bins for trash and recyclables which can be emptied mechanically by a single truck operator but that nothing has been settled yet.

According to Tibbetts, the new budget includes funding for new trash and recycle bins for the town if needed.

During the town meeting, attorney Stephen Langsdorf of the law firm Preti Flaherty was elected as moderator to preside over the gathering. <

Windham Summerfest proves to be spectacular family event

Windham Cub Scouts from Pack 805 march in the annual
Summerfest Parade on Saturday, June 18 on Route 202 near
Windham High School. Thousands attended this year's
Summerfest festivities which marked its return following
two years of pandemic restrictions.
By Collette Hayes

Windham Summerfest 2022 returned live this year after two years because of the pandemic. It was a fun-filled day bringing “Unity to the Community” as well as highlighting what makes Windham a spectacular community to visit and to live.

A festive crowd lined Route 202 on Saturday morning, June 18 to watch Windham’s Summerfest parade as it slowly made its way down to Windham High School. Windham Public Works’ huge trucks blew their horns, Disney characters danced their way down the street, including that rascal Jack Sparrow, and beauty queens waved from cars all to the delight of smiling children who cheered and waved as the parade participants past.

According to Summerfest Committee member Karen Rumo, during the pandemic the Summerfest committee spent hours coming up with virtual activities for community members. This year Summerfest committee members organized an event that was live and on track including vendors, crafters, performances and all kinds of informative and fun demonstrations throughout the day.

“I have been involved with Summerfest for several years, even way back when it was called Windham Old Home Days, which was a big festival including amusement park rides,” said Rumo. “The last few years we have had to work around the pandemic and do most things virtual, but we are particularly excited this year now we are back live. Summerfest is a time for the community to come together and to be together. We want to thank the committee members Deb and Tom Matthews, Barb Maurais, Ed Ohmott and Aaron Pieper for all their hard work. Also, we want to thank our sponsors and the volunteers that made all of this possible.”

Windham Summerfest allows businesses and non-profit organizations to promote and market their latest products, services and expertise. Maine resident and Summerfest crafter Christina Mason lives and travels full time across the country in a camper selling her customed-designed mugs.

“I design all of the artwork digitally that is on the products in my booth,” said Mason. “I have been doing this for three years, but it’s hard to stand out because the market is so saturated. After I started traveling across the country to events like Summerfest, my business took off. “

A K-9 demonstration, car show, live music performances and a golf ball drop were also part of the daylong event.

According to Ed Getty, one of the directors of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, golf balls were sold by the chamber for $10 each for a drawing to win 20 percent of money collected in donations. 236 golf balls were sold and dropped by the fire department and Windham Town Councilor Mark Morrison’s golf ball came closest to the pin and Morrison was awarded $472 in prize money.

“The golf ball drawing is to support the Chamber of Commerce and all of the charities the Chamber supports such as Feed the Need, said Getty.

Live music filled the air as Trawl, a Funk Metal Band took the stage at 1 p.m. Trawl was followed by Cryin’ Out Loud, an energizing band featuring four dynamic vocalists, and in the evening Motor Booty Affair brought crowd members to their feet as they played 1970s and 1980s hits as well as R&B.

Windham resident Sarah Girard attends Summerfest every year. Her family enjoys how the event brings the community together.

“We look forward to Summerfest every year,” said Girard. “It allows us to see our friends and to have fun. Our favorite thing about Summerfest is the music. We love Motor Booty Affair and are looking forward to the evening concert.”

The festivities all lead up to the grand finale, a spectacular fireworks show, which illuminated the night time sky with fire, sparkle and color bringing Windham’s 2022 Summerfest to a close.

Windham’s Summerfest will be held next year on June 24, 2023. <

Windham Special Olympians earn gold medal in Orono

Windham's Special Olympics team competed
in the Maine Special Olympics on June 11
at the University of Maine at Orono. Back,
from left, are AJ Mains, Coach Wyatt LeBlanc,
Austin Rice, Coach Amanda Pope, Coach Anne
Blake, Ryleigh Geary, Coach Margaret Dionne,
and Cameron Malone. Front, from left, are Dani 
Iaconeta, and Mary Jean. SUBMITTED PHOTO   
By Ed Pierce

A team from Windham turned in an exceptional performance during the Maine Special Olympics competition in Orono on June 11 and brought home a gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay race.

Windham athletes competed at the University of Maine in Orono in the running long jump, the softball throw and several running events during the competition, which drew participating Special Olympics athletes from throughout Maine.

Special Olympics is a global organization that serves athletes with intellectual disabilities working with hundreds of thousands of volunteers and coaches each year. Since the establishment of Special Olympics in 1968, the number of people with and without intellectual disabilities who are involved with the organization has been growing, but the unmet need to reach more people with intellectual disabilities is ongoing.

The Maine Special Olympics organization provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These activities provide the athletes with continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and to participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship.

This year’s Special Olympics team from Windham included AJ Mains, Dani Iaconeta, Austin Rice, Cameron Malone, Ryleigh Geary, and Mary Jean and was coached by Anne Blake, a physical therapist from RSU 14. Assisting Blake were coaches Margaret Dionne, Amanda Pope, and Wyatt LeBlanc.

Blake said that Windham’s team was made up of athletes from Special Olympians from Windham High School and Windham Middle School and qualified for the state-level competition after turning in an outstanding performance at the Cumberland County Special Olympics Regional Meet on May 6 at Bonny Eagle High School. 

According to Blake, qualifying for and then competing in the state meet was memorable for all members of the Windham team.

“It was truly amazing to see all of the athletes there participating once again,” Blake said. “There has not been a state-level competition for several years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

She said the most challenging aspect for the team prior to the Maine Special Olympics was gathering and submitting all the necessary paperwork for the Windham athletes.

“Because this is a national organization, they are very stringent and need to ensure that the athletes have intellectual and other disabilities and meet the qualifying rationale to be able to compete,” Blake said.

At the Cumberland County Special Olympic Regionals in May, Windham fielded a team that included students in elementary school, middle school and high school, but for the state competition they could only take middle school and high school students.

Blake said that Windham has had a Special Olympics team for the past decade, but because of COVID-19 concerns and restrictions, the Maine Special Olympics was canceled in both 2020 and 2021.

This year though was a much different story and Windham showcased its talent with the 4x100-meter relay team dashing to first place among other state competitors.

“All athletes did a superb job,” Blake said. “The team would like to thank the Windham Boosters Club for their support.”

To close out its trip to Orono, the Windham team and coaches ended the day with a well-deserved and fun-filled team dinner at the 99 Restaurant. <

WMS eighth-grade band and orchestra receive gold rating at festival

The Windham Middle School Band, shown here, along with
the Windham Middle School Orchestra, each received gold
ratings from judges during the Great East Music Festival at
the Methuen Memorial Music Hall in Methuen, Massachusetts
By Masha Yurkevich 

After coming to a halt because of COVID-19 during the pandemic, the Great East Music Festival is back up and running, and on Saturday, June 4, the eighth-grade Windham Middle School band and orchestra went to perform before a panel of judges, drawing strong reviews.

This year, the festival was held at Methuen Memorial Music Hall, in Methuen, Massachusetts and a total of 30 WMS students from band and orchestra took part in the event under the leadership of conductor Morgan Riley, WMS band, orchestra and choir director and music teacher.

“This festival is for each group to get the highest rating possible: bronze, silver, gold or platinum,” Riley said. “Each group goes home with a plaque indicating their rating.”

For nearly the past 40 years, the Great East Music Festival has provided engaging, high quality and memorable performances and experiences to schools across New England and beyond. The event is non-competitive and takes place in an educational atmosphere.

Following the performance, an adjudicator works with the group for about five to seven minutes, providing feedback and comments. Another judge then presents the award and offers any additional comments.

Riley said she’s been taking students to the Great East Music Festival for the past five years and each year, all of the groups have earned gold ratings. The last time they attended a Great East Music Festival was in May 2019 as COVID-19 halted the festival from being held for the last two years.

As their musical selections for the festival this year, the WMS band played an upbeat "March of Freedom", by John Edmondson and "The Best of Queen", a medley of three classic Queen tunes arranged by Paul Murtha.

The orchestra preformed "Viola Country" by Richard Meyer, featuring the fantastic viola section, and the slower, more lyrical "Colors of the Wind" from the Disney movie Pocohontas, composed by Alan Menken and arranged by Stephen Schwartz.

“The challenge this time was instrumentation for band,” said Riley. “COVID stopped us from playing wind instruments together all last year, causing many students to drop band class. We were lucky enough to have one musician on each instrument for this festival, but that left no room for error on the part of the students.”

The band used percussion instruments to continue musical studies during the previous school year (2020-2021).

This continued progress in rhythm reading and performing, ensemble skills, and playing parts independently, really helped them this school year, Riley said. The WMS Orchestra had a full complement of violins, violas and cellos.

“We hadn't performed for a live audience in two years, and it was wonderful to get back to it,” said Riley. “Both the band and orchestra did a wonderful job, and both received gold ratings from the judges.

According to Riley, Rose Underkofler, the orchestra and chorus teacher at Jordan-Small Middle School and Manchester School was key to the success of this trip as she helped prepare students for the festival.

After the music festival part of the trip, the band and orchestra visited Canobie Lake Park, in Salem, New Hampshire, to spend the rest of the day celebrating their wonderful achievement and success. <

Community welcome to attend Wireless Society of Southern Maine’s Field Day

A participant in the Wireless Society of Southern Maine's
Amateur Radio Field Day tries out communications
equipment during last year's open house event in Scarborough.
This year's free Amateur Radio Field Day and open house will
run from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25 at the Wassamki Springs
Campground in Scarborough. COURTESY PHOTO    
Members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine are set to participate in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercises on June 25 and June 26 at Wassamki Springs Campground, 56 Saco St. in Scarborough. The public is encouraged to attend from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 26.

For more than 100 years, amateur radio – sometimes called ham radio – has allowed people from all walks of life to experiment with electronics and communications techniques, as well as provide a free public service to their communities during a disaster. The annual Field Day events demonstrate ham radio operators’ ability to work reliably under any conditions from almost any location and create an independent communications network.

More than 35,000 people from thousands of locations participated in Field Day events across the nation last year.

“Field Day is part emergency communications exercise and part competition, where we accumulate points and test our operating skills against other clubs and individuals around the U.S. and Canada,” says Wireless Society of Southern Maine President Brad Brown, Jr. of North Waterboro.

During the event, participants will try to earn points by meeting specific goals as outlined by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). Some of these include handling and delivering messages, hosting educational activities and making contacts with other amateurs through various methods, such as voice, telegraphy, satellites and digital modes. 

“This is a fun event that gives us an opportunity to share our passion with the community and to improve our operating skills, all while getting everyone out there and on the air,” says Brown.

Field Day, which has taken place annually since 1933, is designed to test radio operators’ ability to quickly setup and operate portable stations in emergency conditions.

“The entire operation will exclusively use emergency power sources like batteries or solar energy, in order to simulate how things would be during a catastrophic event,” said club vice president Peter Hatem, of Scarborough. “The public should be aware that in the event of an emergency, we're ready to assist in any way that we can. While people may have the impression that cell phones and other technologies are good enough, we stand by as a trained pool of experienced radio operators to provide the vital communication services others may not. Hams have provided emergency communications during hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, blackouts and other disasters, where more complex and fragile communications systems, such as cell networks, have failed or become overloaded.”

The Wireless Society of Southern Maine’s Emergency Communications Team provides auxiliary communications support to the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency located on High Street in Windham and its members are also active in supporting the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN program in Gray.

“Last year, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, using call sign WS1SM, recorded the highest Field Day score in Maine and we hope to do well again this year,” says Brown. “The public is welcome to attend the event and if anyone is interested in learning more about the hobby, we’ll be glad to help.”

Anyone can become a licensed amateur radio operator. There are more than 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 5 and as old as 100.

The Wireless Society of Southern Maine is ready to help anyone get involved and licensed right here in Scarborough. The club meets on the second Thursday of each month at the Scarborough Public Safety Building, 275 U.S. Route 1 in Scarborough.

For more information about this year’s Field Day, and amateur radio in general, visit http://www.mainehamradio.com <

June 17, 2022

Voters in Windham and Raymond make voices heard on Primary Day


By Ed Pierce

Maine Primary Day saw steady turnout in both Windham and Raymond as important issues were decided and candidates were chosen for the general election in November.

Voting in Windham was conducted at the Windham High School's Auxiliary Gym with voters in Raymond casting ballots at Jordan-Small Middle School. Voters in both Windham and Raymond were asked to approve or reject the RSU 14 proposed budget with Windham voters also asked to approve or reject a proposed sewer project for North Windham.

The Town of Windham’s referendum to create a sewer and wastewater treatment facility for North Windham was overwhelming approved by voters with 71 percent, or 1,499 in favor, and 590 voting to reject the proposal. Another sewer project for North Windham was voted down 10 years ago by Windham voters. 

Windham voters also approved both questions on the ballot related to the RSU 14 budget, with Question 1 tallying 1,570 votes for and 537 against and Question 2 being approved by a margin of 1,514 to 579. 

Following Tuesday’s Primary, candidates who will advance to the general election this fall are:

State Senate District 26

Gary Plummer (Republican)
Timothy Nangle (Democrat)

State Representative District 106

Barbara Bagshaw (Republican)
Jonathan Priest (Democrat)

Bagshaw defeated Tom Tyler in the Republican Primary by a margin of 371 to 177. Tyler had formerly served two different terms in the Maine House representing Windham, while Bagshaw is running for state representative for the first time.

State Representative District 107

Paul Fullam (Democrat)
Michael Hall (Republican)

According to Raymond Town Clerk Sue Look, all but one of the 15 Town Warrant items on this year’s ballot regarding the annual town budget and taxation rate for the coming year were passed by voters in Raymond. 

The question "Do you support allowing adult use and medical marijuana establishments to operate in the Town of Raymond and the development of an ordinance to regulate the location and operation of those uses?" was defeated by voters with 341 opposed to 329 in favor of the measure. 

Look said that the RSU 14 school budget was also approved by Raymond voters with Budget Question 1 passing 481 to 181 and Question 2 receiving 514 votes to 135 opposed.

Raymond candidates advancing to the general election in November include:

State Representative District 86

Jessica Fay (Democrat)
Greg Foster (Republican)

Foster defeated challenger Karen Lockwood for the Republican nomination to represent District 86 in the Maine House, 231 to 76.

Raymond Select Board (two seats for three-year terms) 

Rolf Olsen and Teresa Sadak

Raymond Budget-Finance Committee (three seats for three-year terms)

Deanna Lee and Karen Lockwood. Shawn McKillop received 15 write-in votes and will fill the third seat on the Budget-Finance Committee.

RSU 14 Board of Directors (one seat for a three-year term)

Charlotte Jewell

RSU 14 Board of Directors (one seat for a one-year term)

Jodi Carroll

Kevin Joyce (Cumberland County Sheriff) and Paul Aranson (Judge of Probate) were unopposed on Primary Day for Cumberland County positions.

Incumbent Jonathan Sahrbeck was defeated by Jacqueline Sartoris in his bid to earn the Democratic nomination as Cumberland County District Attorney for District 2. <

Maine’s largest chair built by two brothers in Raymond

Two brothers living in Raymond, Jakob and 
Franck Holz, have built Maine's largest chair
standing 16 feet 9 inches tall, 7 feet wide and
10 feet long. The chair has become an instant
tourist attraction on Meadow Road
By Masha Yurkevich

As vacationland gets warmer and people start coming to relax and enjoy the great beauties of the wonderful state of Maine, there is a new local tourist attraction in Raymond that can be seen from a great distance away and attracts many people, Maine’s largest chair. Making the 12-foot Big Easy Chair, located in Kittery, look like just a toy; this new chair stands at 7 feet wide, 10 feet long and 16 feet, 9 inches tall.

Two brothers, Jakob and Franck Holz, got the idea to build this chair.

“My brother is temporarily visiting me and we wanted a wholesome productive project that we could do together,” said Holz. “I live on the Raymond Neck which has numerous seasonal places on the way to Frye Island, and we thought it would help give a vacation vibe to the area.”

At age 34, Jakob Holz grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Maine in 2010 to work for Shipyard Brewing Company. He has moved around to different states while working for Shipyard and is currently their Lead and R&D Brewer. A Green Bay Packer fan, avid hiker and backpacker, he enjoys traveling outside the country and visited Vietnam and Israel right before the COVID-19 pandemic. He enjoys living in the Sebago Lakes region and is also a member of the Naples American Legion.

“I have a love of the world’s and also the state’s largest and smallest items,” said Holz.

Maine has quite a few, such as the globe, Native American and the L.L. Bean Boot in Freeport.

“It’s fun; ridiculous, touristy, family oriented, road trip kind of fun. I have an amateur passion working with wood. I did my kitchen table and a liquor cabinet, coffee table, shelves, and little DIY projects,” said Holz. “The world's largest was way too big, but Maine’s largest could be done.”

Holz has built other work with wood before the chair. Everything he has ever made is inside his house, other than this chair and his “Holz Manor” sign under his mailbox.

His brother, Franck Holz, is 32 and also grew up in Wisconsin. He, like his brother, shares a love to travel and always takes a good amount of time off to travel the country and the world. He also has a passion for sports, especially the Green Bay Packers, and enjoys working on firearms in his free time.

Putting their two minds together, it took the brothers two weekends to build this chair, one weekend spent building the frame and the next weekend completing the rest, finishing it in April. The chair is built from wood with some nuts, bolts and nails. The frame is made mostly from 3 by 6 lumber and the rest of the chair is made by using 2 by 10s, resulting in a huge chair that has become a local curiosity displayed in the Holz front yard.

“Even with inflation on wood and everything else, it was only $200 to build,” Jakob Holz said. “I’m frugal in general and I am always looking for deals. You have to think outside the box when building and also look for materials. Some local lumber yards helped us out.”

Woodworking is a skill passed down in the Holz family. Their grandfather, Frank Stilp of Neenah, Wisconsin, was a professional woodworker, specializing in Quaker woodworking. Their father, who lives in Ripon, Wisconsin was a cabinet maker for some time and has always been a woodworker who loves making Whirligigs with wood. At Christmas, he plays Santa Claus and loves making wooden toys as presents.

“My last name HOLZ is German and means wood as well,” said Holz.

The Holz brothers said that their purpose of building the chair was because they wanted people to stop by and take pictures and help create memories. “People are more than welcome to stop and take pictures,” said Holz. “

For anyone who has any ideas on the next Maine’s largest project for the Holz brothers, the brothers say that they can mail it to them at their home. Their chair and home can be found at 34 Hawthorne Road in Raymond. <

Author debuts first novel at book-signing event in Windham

Jennifer Dupree signs a copy of her first
published novel, The Miraculous Flight of
Owen Leach,
during a book-signing event
on Saturday, June 4 at Sherman's Maine 
Coast Books in Windham.
By Collette Hayes

What happens when a 19-year-old girl, alone and exhausted, follows a fleeting impulse and tosses her screaming infant son out a window? What happens if that baby is caught by a woman who is standing below looks up and reaches out? And what if the catcher's own fragile pregnancy ends, causing her to believe that the baby she caught is meant to be hers? 

On Saturday June 4, author Jennifer Dupree signed copies of her debut novel “The Miraculous Flight of Owen Leach’ at Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop in the Windham Mall. The book is a gripping tale of what it means to be a “good” mother and who gets to decide.

Dupree, the Director of Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library in Lovell, is a freelance editor, and former bookstore owner. She earned a masters’ degree in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program. Her work has appeared in Front Porch Review, The Masters Review, On the Rusk and other places.

She is the winner of the Writer’s Digest Fiction Contest for 2017, and both a winner and a finalist for Maine Literary Awards and is quite familiar with Windham having formerly worked at the Windham Public Library.

“The Miraculous Flight of Owen Leach, is my first novel,” said Dupree. “I began this book eight years ago as part of my master’s thesis program. All I had written up to this point was short fiction. When I started my thesis program, I thought now would be the time to write a novel because now would be the time that I would have help. 

“I didn’t have an idea for a novel, but soon after making the decision, I saw a news clipping about a woman who threw a baby out a window and he landed on a mattress,” Dupree said. “I thought I could complicate that story a bit more, one woman throws a baby out a window and another woman catches him. I really began thinking about these women. What happened in the woman’s life to make her throw her baby out a window, and what were the complicating factors in the woman’s life who catches him.”

Dupree’s writing career began at an early age. Recently, her mother gave her husband a huge box of her writings and included in the box were notes, stories and poems she had carefully saved from the time that Dupree could hold a pencil in her hand.

“When I was 10 years old, a friend of my mother’s gave me the book, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” the second book in C.S. Lewis’s fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia,” said Dupree. “It was at that time I realized I wanted to be a writer. I was over the moon about the book. I sat down and basically plagiarized the entire book by recreating it and using my own characters.”

Becoming a published author takes persistence and determination, she said. Editors and publishers agree the odds of being published are bleak. Publishing houses only accept 1 to 2 percent of the manuscripts they receive and finding a literary agent to represent an author’s work is as challenging. Dupree said that she inquired with more than 80 different agents before finding one to represent her book.

“When I graduated in Creative Writing, I found an agent who loved the book, but was only willing to sell it to a large publishing house because selling it to a large publisher is the only way she could make money,” said Dupree. “We eventually went our separate ways but not long after, Apprentice House Press, a publisher based at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland offered to buy my book. I was thrilled.”

According to Dupree, if your long-term goal is to become a published author, the most important thing you need is to have at least one person in your life telling you not to give up.

“Publication isn’t a marker of talent,” said Dupree. “People that are very talented aren’t getting published. In the end, I think it’s a matter of persistence, determination, and hard work. If you’re putting together work with all your heart and generosity, it is going to find its market. Fill your life up with people that believe in you and it will keep you writing.” <

Vigue retires at age 87 after 15 years of volunteering for Windham Clothes Closet

Pat Vigue's friendly face will be greatly missed
at the Windham Clothes Closet as well as her
dedication to families she has helped with
compassion and dignity. Vigue has retired at
age 87 after years of service to the community.
By Lorraine Glowczak

Pat Vigue of Windham, the friendly face that greeted and assisted individuals and families at the Windham Clothes Closet, 377 Gray Road, retired a little over a month ago to spend more of her free time with family and friends. At 87 years young, she has a lot of adventure and spirit left in her and she doesn’t plan on sitting still very long.

“I will be busy with all kinds of family activities like birthdays, weddings, graduations and new babies,” Vigue said.

In addition to welcoming new family members by birth and marriage, Vigue and her husband, Gerry, will spend the majority of their summer at the family’s camp in Abbot at Piper Pond which is near Moosehead Lake.

However, once the camp is closed for winter, she can envision herself volunteering in another capacity this fall.

“I have a really hard time sitting still,” she said. “I’m toying with the idea of volunteering as a grandmother at the school. But I’m also socially active, so I enjoy the freedom of staying at home and visiting my friends whenever I want. We shall see what I do next.”

It seems ‘sitting still’ was never a part of Vigue’s personality as she has worked and volunteered in various interesting capacities throughout her lifetime. While raising a family of three, she was busy volunteering for clubs such as 4-H, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and offering free pony rides to her children’s friends on the farm where she lived in New Hampshire. It was on this farm that the family boarded horses.

Her career was as varied as her volunteer work. She recalls her job as a copywriter, writing ads for a radio station, stating she loved almost everything about it except for one thing.  

“Sometimes, I would even do a few speaking ads on the radio,” Vigue said. “I was really nervous whenever I had to do that.”

In addition to copywriting, Vigue worked as a copy editor for a small-town newspaper, owned an antique shop, worked in a gift store, and was a MaĆ®tre D in a fine restaurant. Vigue’s last job was as a medical assistant for Dr. Mary Morse Dermatology.

“I worked for Dr. Morse until she was diagnosed with cancer and retired,” Vigue said. “I was 60 and decided to retire along with her.”

But Vigue’s ‘can’t sit still too long’ nature soon took hold, and her retirement was not a prolonged one.

“I really wanted something to do - something to occupy my time but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do,” she said. “One day, as I was donating clothes to the clothes closet, I noticed they needed help. So, I contacted Madeline, the director at the time, and she was happy to have me on board.”

Now that Vigue has moved on to another chapter in life, her presence will be sorely missed.

“Pat will be missed greatly for she served the Town of Windham’s Clothes Closet, faithfully sorting, folding, handling and displaying all donated items while acting with the belief that everyone should be served with dignity and compassion,” said Rene Daniels, who now oversees the Windham Food Pantry and Clothes Closet as the General Assistance Coordinator.

Marge Govoni, who worked in the clothes closet and food pantry when the town was outsourcing general assistance, agrees with Daniels.

“In all the years that Pat has been running the Windham Clothes Closet, she has been the go-to person whenever there was a family in need,” Govoni said. “She has taken special orders and found ways to help those individuals. There was never a time that she turned anyone away, and the closet was always clean, neat, and organized. She spent many hours organizing and restocking besides being there for the hours it was open.”

No one has replaced Vigue’s role, but the Windham Clothes Closet is still open and can be visited by appointment by calling 207-892-1931.

Vigue offers encouragement for those who may be hesitant about visiting the Windham Clothes Closet.

“This is not necessarily a place for those who are in dire need,” Vigue said in a past interview. “The clothes closet is useful for those in temporary and extenuating circumstances such as changing jobs and damage to one’s home such as fires. Using the closet should not negatively reflect on any one individual.”

As the Town of Windham offers its fond farewell and gratitude, Govoni extends a statement that best describes Vigue and her 15 years of dedication.

“She was a rock star volunteer, and her smiling face will be missed there,” Govoni said. “I wish her a long and healthy retirement.” <

Lucas Cormier attains Eagle Scout rank at Court of Honor ceremony

Eagle Scout Lucas Cormier was promoted
to scouting's highest rank during a Court
of Honor ceremony held at the Windham
Veterans Center on June 11. His father,
Joe Cormier, and his mother, Nicki Cormier,
celebrate with Lucas following the event.
By Collette Hayes

Becoming an Eagle Scout is extremely rare and each year less than 8 percent of all who begin the scouting journey achieve the rank, the highest that a Boy Scout can achieve. Windham’s Lucas Cormier, a member of Boy Scout Troop 805, has met the Eagle Scout challenge and joined the select few who have lifted their wings to soar with the Eagles during a Court of Honor ceremony at the Windham Veterans Center on June 11.

Cormier, a junior at Baxter Academy, began navigating the steep and narrow trail to the rank of Eagle Scout when he first became a Cub Scout at the age of 5.

According to Paul Preston, the Master of Ceremony at the Court of Honor event, the pathway to becoming an Eagle Scout can be described as a steep trail leading up to three peaks, the highest peak being Eagle Scout. Years of community service, 21 merit badges, troop leadership experiences, and coordinating and leading a large-scale volunteer project for the betterment of the community are a few of the necessary requirements to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

“Officially the trail begins with Tenderfoot rank and continues through to the Second and First-class ranks and then the mountain climbing begins,” said Preston. “The first peak reached is that of Star Scout, the second peak Life Scout and the final peak Eagle Scout. “The path is marked with merit badges, leadership responsibilities, service projects, and the practicing of scouting skills and ideals.”

During the Court of Honor event honored guests, including State Representative Mark Bryant and State Representative Patrick Corey, presented Cormier with a Legislative Sentiment including a certificate signed by legislative members and a coin symbolizing scouting excellence in skill development, personal growth and for outstanding  community service.

Cormier’s advice to scouts on the journey working toward the Eagle Scout rank is that even though the trail seems extremely difficult at times to keep going.

“It’s going to be hard,” said Cormier. “At times you are going to want to quit but just stick with it. I met most of my best friends through scouting. Friends will help you make it through the difficult times.”

Sensing a need for an outdoor gathering place for veterans at the Windham Veteran’s Center, Cormier planned, organized, and led a massive Eagle Scout service project for the center. Hours were spent on weekends digging out the space, leveling and compacting the soil and preparing a solid base for the relocation of the fireplaces as well as the placement of a new patio which is now wheelchair accessible for veterans.

“Most of our scout meetings are held at the Veteran’s Center,” Cormier said. “The patio was weathered down and everything was overgrown with weeds. I wanted to clean it up for them.”

Parents are one of the keys to success for obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout and the more that parents are involved, the more the scout is likely to stay involved and continue to travel the difficult trail to advance in rank. Joe and Nicki Cormier, Cormier’s parents, have been walking the scouting trail with him for many years and say that anything Lucas is involved in, they are also involved in, every step of the way.

“Lucas shares memorable scouting experiences over and over with us such as the white-water rafting trips, he has participated in,” said Nicki Cormier. “For the last 10 years, I have watched Lucas become a strong leader and good example for the other scouts. We are very proud of Lucas.”

Kathy Patrick, Cormier’s aunt, provided the closing remarks for the Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony.

“The Eagle Scout Court of Honor marks the ending of one journey and a commitment to another. A commitment to better scouting where all may participate, a commitment to better citizenship, and a commitment to be an example of leadership to all. May we like Lucas be committed to scouting’s ideals which instruct us to all lead better lives.” <

In the public eye: Teacher Lynne Latham continues to have profound impact upon students in Raymond

Lynne Latham is a fifth-grade classroom teacher
who has taught math and science at Jordan-Small
Middle School in Raymond for the past 23 years.
Editor’s note: This is another in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.

By Andrew Wing

Being a middle school teacher in today’s world is an extremely important job. In addition to being skilled educators, middle school teachers guide students through some of the most formative years of their lives and prepare them for the knowledge and skills they’ll need in high school and beyond. They also develop a student’s unique talents and foster their passion for learning. Lynne Latham of Jordan-Small Middle School is one of those teachers.

Latham is a fifth-grade classroom teacher at JSMS where she teaches math and science. Latham is completing her 23rd year in RSU 14 at JSMS, and for over the past two decades, she has done it all. She’s educated her students in math and science, maintained her certification through professional development opportunities, connected with parents and community members, collaborated with staff members in the school and district and responded to her administration’s directives. She’s had a profound impact on not only the school and the district but the community as a whole.

She was born and raised in South Portland, and after completing high school in 1983, she found her way to the University of Maine at Machias. There, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education, before earning a master’s degree in education from St. Joseph’s College in 2010.

Her first teaching position was at Leeds Central School for five years, before teaching at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School for five years. Latham then laid her roots down in Raymond and took on the position that she currently holds and after her 33 years of teaching, she knows that when the time comes, she will retire from JSMS.

“Anyone who has had the pleasure of being a part of this teaching/learning community knows exactly why I am here,” said Latham. “It is an amazing place to live and work.”

To do anything for as long as Latham has taught, you truly have to love what you do, and she’s no exception.

“I absolutely love my students. Each student is so unique, and I love their developing personalities,” said Latham. “There’s no better moment in teaching than when a student comes to class and wants to excel in their thinking and explore deeper and broader understanding. This is my true paycheck.”

On the other hand, Latham’s job isn’t always easy. There are many challenging aspects when it comes to being a middle school teacher. For Latham, stress management and finding the time to accomplish everything she wants are at the top of her list.

“There is an amazing amount of stress in our profession, and it’s difficult to find the balance between teaching and life outside of school,” said Latham. “Time is such a challenge in today’s world of teaching and learning. Everything of quality takes time and education is a world of wanting to do well.”

Similar to there being a lot of challenges in being a middle school teacher, there are also a lot of misconceptions people have about their work. Latham said that people today believe that teaching and learning are the same today as to how they were in the previous generation.

“I would say that people today believe that teaching and learning are the same as how they were when we were taught in school,” she said. “Learning and life are fast and ever-changing, and we have taken different approaches in teaching for the needs of today’s learners and the world that they will someday make their own.”

There’s no denying that Latham has countless memories in her past 23 years teaching at JSMS but narrowed those down to just a few.

“I could respond with the obvious which would be remote teaching due to the pandemic, but I would have to say it was embracing my son, Noah Estey, at RSU 14 opening day as he became a newly-hired staff member as a history teacher at Windham High School,” said Latham. “I have made hundreds of great memories with our amazing staff at JSMS, and our school has delivered the best education possible to thousands of students over the years.” <

Windham's James Mannette soars after graduating from U.S. Air Force Academy

By Andrew Wing

A number of Windham High School graduates have gone on to accomplish great things in the world, and James Mannette plans on doing just that through service to the nation after graduating from the United States Air Force Academy on May 25.

Korean War veteran Jerry Black, right, introduces 2nd Lt. 
James Mannette of Windham to World War II pilot Carroll
McDonald of Windham, left. Mannette is a 2017 Windham
High School graduate who just completed studies and 
earned his degree at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is
home on leave before heading to pilot training in Oklahoma.
Mannette, a 2017 Windham High School graduate who excelled both academically and athletically, attended a fall semester at Northwestern Preparatory School in Crestline, California after graduating from WHS. Northwestern Preparatory School is a semester-long civilian preparatory school devoted to developing students for entrance and success at a U.S. service academy. Following his studies there, Mannette returned to Maine and completed his spring semester at Southern Maine Community College.

He received an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy in March 2018, and entered the school in Colorado Springs, Colorado in June of that year.

Mannette said he knew from an early age that he always admired and looked up to veterans and it led to his desire to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“I was intrigued by their stories and inspired by their courage and the impact they had on our great nation. I wanted to be just like them,” said Mannette. “Many of my high school instructors were veterans who encouraged me as well, and as I researched the process of becoming a military pilot, I talked to a lot of my teachers and coaches at the high school, and they all encouraged me in my research.”

During his four years in the U.S. Air Force Academy, Mannette had the privilege of doing many amazing things. He said his years at the academy are filled with powerful memories, incredible experiences and unbelievable opportunities.

“I can’t even begin to describe how many things happened in four years, but my three highlights were joining the academy’s Cadet Drum & Bugle Program, participating in the Powered Flight Program and enrolling in the academy’s skydiving class,” said Mannette. “I had an absolute blast traveling the country and supporting the academy’s football team in the band. It was an incredible feeling flying the aircraft alone in the flight program, and I completed five solo skydives and earned the Parachutist Badge.”

There’s no denying that Mannette had a lot of great experiences at the academy but says his biggest takeaway from attending college there is simple.

“My biggest takeaway from the Air Force Academy was to never give up,” said Mannette. “And to never forget that there is always someone out there who has your back.”

Ever since Mannette decided that he wanted to be a military pilot in the U.S. Air Force, he has had countless conversations and relationships built with veterans whom he learned a lot from, but one special veteran that Mannette has built quite the relationship with is Jerry Black.

Mannette first met Black, a U.S. Navy Korean War veteran, while at Windham Middle School when he had a snow shoveling job at the Little Meeting House in North Windham. Since then, the two have spent countless hours working alongside each other whether it be in landscaping, wood stacking or other odd jobs, and Mannette says that he is extremely grateful for the relationship they have built.

“Jerry is a man with an incredible amount of knowledge about many subjects and the kindest heart. He has a vast inventory of stories about all life experiences that I have been fortunate enough to hear,” said Mannette. “Because of him I am now a member of the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148, and most recently participated with him in the Memorial Day Parade.”

He says Black has inspired him to take on bigger challenges in his life.

“Jerry has been an incredible role model to me in that he is like a second father,” said Mannette. “My father passed away when I was in high school, and Jerry helped me learn things that my father would have taught me if he was here.”

After graduating from the Academy in May, Mannette will take the month of June off before he reports to pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, on July 27.

There he will try and earn his pilot wings by first completing Initial Flight Training which is known as the “Gateway to Air Force Aviation” before beginning a nine-month program called Undergraduate Pilot Training.

All in all, Mannette said that he is very excited for his next step, happy to be back home for a while, and beyond eager for what is to come in his Air Force career. <

June 10, 2022

Voters in Windham and Raymond set to cast ballots in Primary Day election

Windham Town Clerk Linda Morrell, left, and Deputy Town
Clerk Judy Vance will oversee Tuesday's Primary Day election
in Windham with voting hours from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the
Windham High School Auxiliary Gym.
By Ed Pierce

Some interesting political races and referendum issues will be decided Tuesday, June 14 when voters head to the polls to cast ballots in Windham and Raymond on Maine Primary Day.

Voting in Windham will be conducted from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Windham High School's Auxiliary Gym. Items on the Primary Day ballot for Windham include a referendum to approve or reject the proposed sewer project for North Windham, and another to approve or reject the RSU 14 annual school budget.

Absentee ballot requests were only available through Thursday, June 9 for Windham voters, according to Windham Town Clerk Linda Morrell. She said you must be registered to vote to cast a ballot in this year’s Primary Day election.

Windham candidates appearing on this year’s Primary Day ballot are:

State Senate District 26

Gary Plummer (Republican)
Timothy Nangle (Democrat)

State Representative District 106
Tom Tyler (Republican)
Barbara Bagshaw (Republican)
Jonathan Priest (Democrat)

The winner of the Tyler and Bagshaw Republican primary race will advance to the General Election in November, all other candidates without opponents will be placed on the General Election ballot for November.

State Representative District 107
Paul Fullam (Democrat)
Michael Hall (Republican)

Raymond Town Clerk Sue Look said that the Annual Raymond Town Meeting Warrant will be voted on by secret ballot by voters on Primary Day on June 14 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Jordan-Small Middle School gymnasium.

According to Look, there are 15 Town Warrant items on this year’s ballot and most of them are regarding the town budget and taxation rate for the coming year.

She said that the RSU 14 school budget will also be voted upon by Raymond voters on Primary Day.

Raymond candidates appearing on the Primary Day ballot are:

State Representative District 86
Jessica Fay (Democrat)
Karen Lockwood (Republican)
Greg Foster (Republican)

The winner of the Lockwood versus Foster Republican primary race will advance to the General Election in November to face the incumbent, Fay.

Raymond Select Board (two seats for three-year terms)
Rolf Olsen
Teresa Sadak

Raymond Budget-Finance Committee (three seats for three-year terms)
Deanna Lee
Karen Lockwood

RSU 14 Board of Directors (one seat for a three-year term)
Charlotte Jewell

RSU 14 Board of Directors (one seat for a one-year term)
Jodi Carroll

Look said that since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, voter turnouts have been larger than previous similar elections. She said Primary Day voting usually is sparse unless there is a hotly contested race or a hot topic referendum question.

“Given that, I expect to be busy this primary, but I do not know how big the turnout will be,” Look said.

Absentee ballots in Raymond are available by visiting https://apps.web.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/AbsenteeBallot/index.pl <

Windham earns near $1 million grant for conservation project

A conceptual drawing shows the proposed East Windham
Conservation Project, a partnership between the Town of
Windham and the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust
which if approved by voters at the Annual Windham
Town Meeting on June 18 would conserve 661 acres of
land and undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond.
By Ed Pierce

The purchase and conservation of 661 acres of land amounting to the largest block of unfragmented forest in Windham, and one of the largest in the Greater Portland area, is one step closer to becoming a reality after the Lands for Maine’s Future Program awarded the East Windham Conservation project $998,000.

If a plan is approved by voters at Windham’s Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, June 18, a partnership between the town and the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust would dramatically expand and diversify recreational opportunities in Windham with the purchase and conservation of 661 acres of forested land and 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond. The land also contains the 150-acre Deer Wintering Area, a traditional area for hunting by permission, and the 580-foot Atherton Hill, the tallest hill in Windham.When completed, the project will directly abut more than 1,000 acres of other conserved land in Windham and Falmouth, including Lowell Preserve, North Falmouth Community Forest, and Blackstrap Hill Preserve, providing 20 miles of interconnected trails and five trailheads for public access.

Amanda Lessard, Town of Windham Planning Director said that in the Open Space Plan, Windham identified this area of East Windham as important to conserve for its large undeveloped habitat blocks, preservation of rural character, and water quality protection.

“I’m pleased that the State of Maine also recognizes the significance of the East Windham Conservation Project with its selection for Lands for Maine’s Future funding,” Lessard said.

Town residents will be asked to approve a bond at the Annual Town Meeting to match the state grant funds.

“The bond will be paid for with open space impact fees so there will be no impact on the mill rate. Not only does the acquisition of this property preserve a part of Windham that residents have identified as an important area to conserve amidst increasing development pressures, it also provides exceptional scenic views of the western mountains, and the opportunity to recreate close to home,” Lessard said.

Lessard said that Windham has been collaborating with the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust over the past six months to engage the community on developing a vision for this property.

“With guidance from the steering committee, we held two community meetings, site walks of the property, and put out a town-wide survey that had 900 responses,” she said. “The top-ranked community benefit identified by the survey was to conserve the land to remain undeveloped for wildlife habitat, water quality protection and rural character. The second-highest ranked community benefit was to provide multiple-use outdoor recreation and create access for the whole community. Finally, the top four highest-ranked activities that will bring respondents to this land once it is conserved are walking, hiking, visiting an observation tower with 360-degree views and experience scenic views of the White Mountains.”

The survey results were used to inform a concept plan that was presented at the Community Meeting on May 31, according to Lessard. The plan envisions a year-round trail head parking area, multi-use trails, access to fishing, hunting and wildlife observation area, a universal access trail connecting from Falmouth Road to Little Duck Pond and Atherton Hill, an observation tower that will provide scenic views to Casco Bay and Mount Washington, and destinations with scenic views of the western mountains and the pond.

“There was overwhelming support from those at the community meeting that the concept plan accurately represented the community vision for the property,” Lessard said.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said the town is grateful to the Lands for Maine’s Future organization for helping to fund this project.

“The timing of this land being available to be conserved for the future with recreational usage combined with the state’s renewed commitment to funding with the Land for Maine’s Future program has been ideal,” Tibbetts said. “The LMF Board’s award to grant the town nearly $1 million for the acquisition of this property is an opportunity we can’t afford to pass up.”

Rachelle Curran Apse, Executive Director of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust said that the East Windham Conservation Project is on the scale of Bradbury State Park, both in size and importance to both Windham and the region.

“This project will create the largest conservation and recreation corridor in the region with 30 miles of multi-use trails, which is larger than any state park in Southern Maine. We are so glad to be partnering with the town of Windham to make this exceptional opportunity to ensure outdoor recreation for generations to come,” she said. “This $3.5 million project will only be possible with local bond support, state and federal grants, and private funding. The Land Trust is leading the private fundraising effort over the summer to raise the remaining funds needed in order to conserve the land this fall. Support of all sizes will be needed from hundreds of families to make this project a reality.”

To learn more and support this project go to: https://www.prlt.org/east-windham-project. <

Tassel Top Park undergoes transformation aiming for best summer ever

Since last summer, improvements have been made at Tassel
Top Park in Raymond which have increased picnic spots
off the beach area for visitors and freeing up more beach
space. The cabins at Tassel Top have also been renovated
with all-new cabinets and appliances and the facility has
a new Snack Shack deck and a new Gatehouse.
By Andrew Wing

There is no denying that Tassel Top Park in Raymond is a staple when it comes to where you can find the members of our communities during the summertime.

Just off Route 302, across from the Raymond Shopping Center and behind the Jordan Bay Veterinary Hospital, Tassel Top is a beautiful beach situated on 35 acres on the east shore of Sebago Lake. It is without a doubt one of the best beach areas not only on Sebago Lake, but in southern Maine as it has a safe, secure swimming area marked by buoys, many picnic tables, outdoor grills and numerous changing rooms. It also features a fully stocked snack shack that offers everything from ice cream, hot foods, charcoal, candy, drinks, snacks, clothing, sundries, beach toys and more.

Another enjoyable aspect of Tassel Top is a walking trail that covers almost one full mile that meanders through acres of Maine woods. The clearly marked trail has points of interest marked by signage and benches for quiet meditation and rest. The trail is maintained by park staff, is handicapped and stroller accessible, and is also completely safe as it is for foot traffic only, so there will be no bikes or ATV’s.

Despite all of its great qualities though, those in charge at Tassel Top continue to transform the park and made many improvements during the pandemic.

The man who has been overseeing Tassel Top Park’s transformation is Raymond Parks and Recreation Director Joseph Crocker.

Crocker lives in Windham and is going into his third year as the Town of Raymond’s Parks and Recreation Director. He joined the town in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he managed the impact that the pandemic had on Tassel Top Park.

“The first season during COVID-19 was a challenging one because we had to limit the beach spots to just under 50,” said Crocker. “This meant that we were only operating at about 40 percent of our maximum capacity.”

However, they had a great bounce-back summer in 2021 as the vaccinations became available and the pandemic restrictions were loosened.

“We changed some policies to allow more people in by updating how many spots we had available through Facebook,” said Crocker. “We were opened for max capacity because we knew that being outside was much safer than expected, and this allowed us to both let in 14,778  users and also increase our season memberships to 168.”

Even though last summer was good for Tassel Top, they still wanted to make some improvements, and thanks to Crocker’s direction and Tassel Top Park’s Facilities Maintenance Manager Barry Alden’s hard work, they’ve made some improvements during and since the pandemic.

“We have increased picnic spots off of our sandy beach area which allows more people to sit and enjoy the beach,” said Crocker. “There have also been improvements done to our Cabin by having Barry renovate it with all new kitchen cabinets and appliances, our Snack Shack by having a new deck built, and also our Gatehouse.”

Crocker viewed all of these changes as necessities that needed to be made and he thinks they have already paid off.

“I think all of these changes have had a positive impact,” said Crocker. “By investing in these upgrades, we are allowing more people to visit Tassel Top Park because our park can handle the high volume of daily visitors.”

And because of all these changes that have been made at Tassel Top Park, Crocker has high expectations for this coming summer.

“Our hopes for this season are to once again break our attendance records,” said Crocker. “We have also added some new positions that will be in charge of day-to-day operations along with helping me execute a long range plan to accomplish some of the much larger goals. We also have a Park Supervisor, Riley Silvia of Raymond, who will be in charge of our social media accounts this season in hopes to have the park not only be a destination for the beach, but for other amenities we can offer.” <

Maine seeks proposals to increase access to local food

Fresh greens are harvested in the greenhouse at Bumbleroot
Organic Farm in Windham. COURTESY PHOTO
By Lauren McCauley

Maine Beacon

Maine is seeking proposals for a grant opportunity to support local food producers and production and assist low-income residents in accessing local food.

Last year a bill passed and was signed into law allocating $25,000 to provide incentives for residents receiving food and nutrition benefits to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables, and increased outreach about them.

Genna Cherichello, Maine Senior FarmShare program manager for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, said nutrition incentives are critical because local producers often have higher costs than large agriculture corporations.

“It creates a little bit more freedom for folks on these food and nutrition assistance programs to select local food if they want to,” Cherichello said. “It also is an additional funding stream for our local producers.”

She said the state dollars may also be used to leverage additional federal, local or private funding, for opportunities that require a match.

Maine’s Climate Action Plan includes a goal of increasing local food production from 10 percent to 30 percent by 2030, to support farmers, fishing and aquaculture harvesters, as well as make communities more resilient.

Cherichello added it is an exciting opportunity to bring state support to organizations and programs that have been around for years and know their communities’ needs.

“If your organization works with local food producers, or low-income folks who receive food and nutrition assistance, and you’re interested in expanding your existing efforts to connect those low-income people with food grown in Maine, we would all love to see your application,” Cherichello said.

Groups doing such work in Maine include 
Farm Fresh Rewards, which is run through the Good Shepherd Food Bank, and Maine Harvest Bucks with the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets.

Applications for the grant opportunity are due in less than a month, on June 21. <