September 30, 2022

Windham council sends contract zone request to town’s planning board

By Ed Pierce

The owners of the Northeastern Motel at 322 Roosevelt Trail in Windham have asked the town for a contract zone so the property of the existing motel can be redeveloped into residential dwelling units.

The Windham Town Council has sent a contract zone request
to change the zoning of the Northeastern Motel at 322
Roosevelt Trail in Windham to the Windham Planning Board
for review. Motel owners are seeking to convert motel rooms
into efficiency apartments. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE 
The 3.8-acre site is located on Route 302 and the northwest corner of Nash Road in Windham and the owners, 322 Roosevelt Trail LLC, say to achieve their vision for the property zoning changes will need to be made. The property is currently zoned as “F” for farming zone district.

Owners are asking that zoning for the site be changed to allow Dwelling, Multifamily as a permitted use. Under current “F” zoning requirements multifamily dwellings are only allowed for the conversion of an existing dwelling or accessory building that was in existence prior to May 13, 1986, and no more than three dwelling units may be created per lot.

A zoning change would allow the property owners up to 23 dwelling units on the property, which differs from the only two dwellings currently allowed there.

The nine-unit motel with an attached owner’s unit building existed prior to Windham’s adoption of zoning ordinances on July 8, 1976. On Nov. 5, 1987, the town’s Board of Appeals granted permission to expand the non-conforming use “Suburban Pines Motel” to double the size and a 13-unit adjacent building was constructed on the property in 1988. Windham’s Planning Board approved a subdivision of the property into five lots on April 23, 1990, and over the past 32 years has been further reduced to its current 3.8 acre configuration.

The zoning change request is the second time that a contract zone has been requested for this property.

In 2016, the previous property owner requested a contract zone to permit Motels and Multifamily Dwellings and increase density there. On July 12, 2016, a vote by the Windham Town Council failed to send the application to the Planning Board for review and recommendation.

As outlined in Windham’s Land Use Ordinance, a request for a contract zone, like other proposed ordinance changes, would require sending the request to the Planning Board for a public hearing and a recommendation would be sent back to the Town Council.

According to Shawn M. Frank, project engineer and Senior Vice President, Commercial and Development, for Sebago Technics representing the owners, the applicant proposes that the entire property be rezoned as an overlay to the underlying Farm District.

Frank said that no easements are proposed and restrictions on the property will limit the overall unit count as it currently exists. The applicants, who purchased the site in 2017, propose expansion in square footage to the existing motel room units to provide individual kitchen facilities to create efficiency dwelling units. Proposed improvements also including removal of the existing boulders along the parking lot perimeter shown on the Contract Zone Plan.

Frank said if the Planning Board and the town eventually approve the project, the motel rooms would be converted into affordable one-bedroom apartments.

During a discussion of the matter, town councilors were enthusiastic about the project.

“I’m in favor of this also,” Councilor Bill Reiner said. “It’s in existing usage in this zone and it makes it

more suitable for the area.”

Councilor Jarrod Maxfield expressed support for the project saying he has faith that if approved, it will be a quality project.

Windham Councilor Mark Morrison said he likes what the owners are proposing for the property.

“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for the town,” Morrison said. “We’re upgrading a facility that is currently here.”

Councilor Brett Jones said he thinks the contract zone is a good idea, but his concern would be that the longer-term rentals could turn into homeless shelters.

Frank said the new efficiencies would rent for about $1,000 and designed for stable individuals and couples.

By a general consensus of approval, town councilors sent the contract zone request to the Windham Planning Board for review. <

In the public eye: WHS Spanish teacher fosters welcoming environment

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

By Masha Yurkevich

Everybody has their place; a place where they know that they are welcome, where they know that they can serve those around them, where they feel like in a second home. The most important part is to find this place, to find this welcoming community where each laugh and smile never ends. For some, this place is harder to find than it is for others. But for Tianna Burton, this place found itself and never left her.

Tianna Burton has been teaching at Windham
High School for 15 years and says she loves her
job, especially making connections with her
Burton is the World Language Department Co-Chair, a Spanish teacher, Co-Advisor of Student Council, and Co-Advisor of the Social Justice League (SJL) at Windham High School. She is also a member of the district Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee (DEI) and a member of WHS’s Equity Response Team.

As department co-chair she attends weekly meetings with building administration and leads department work on curriculum design, goal setting, and standards-based assessment design. As advisor for student council and SJL, she works closely with students helping connect them with resources that they need to get their many initiatives off the ground. These initiatives include a prom attire drive, student spirit weeks, school community building activities and professional development presentations for district staff and students.

As a member of the DEI committee and the Equity Response Team, she attends professional development conferences and meetings with both building and district administration working towards various goals in their strategic plan and supporting fellow teachers in this important work.

Burton was born in Akron, Ohio and moved to northern Maine at the age of 9. She graduated from Presque Isle High School, then graduated with honors from Boston College with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, and she earned her Master's in Education from the University of Southern Maine. In the middle of all that schooling she also was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, South America.

“In my work as a volunteer in South America I taught English, health, and nutrition at my local high school,” says Burton. “I worked with a group of farmers on crop rotation, the importance of green manures, switching to sustainable farming practices, and beekeeping. I formed a women’s group to study small animal husbandry and gardening and connect women with area resources to help make their farms and ranches more self-sustaining. I also formed a youth group that tackled health, nutrition and safety issues in their village and surrounding communities. They created vaccination clinics for pets to stop the spread of a deadly virus killing cats and dogs throughout their country. They learned about hygiene and nutritional practices to improve the lives of area youth and taught throughout their village. This experience made me consider teaching for the first time.”

When she returned stateside after nearly two and a half years, she entered the Elementary Teacher Education Program (ETEP) at USM and devoted herself to becoming a teacher full time. She did her student teaching at Windham High School 15 years ago and never left.

“I think many people think we come here, and our job begins and ends with teaching our subject,” says

Burton. “It’s kind of funny to me because students don’t want to - and won’t - learn from someone they don’t think cares about them. Like the motto ‘connect before you correct’ students are more engaged in their learning and more successful when they know that their teacher cares about them and their learning.”

Recently, there have been some negative narratives about teachers making the rounds. Burton says that this has been the most challenging part of her job.

“We went from being heroes at the start of the pandemic to being vilified in the past year for a multitude of perceived reasons,” she says. “Teaching is a challenging job. I have 23 kids in a class and no two of them learn best the same way. I have to be a 100 different people in a day to meet the needs of my 100-plus students. It is an exhausting and often thankless profession that people do because they love kids, education and hope to have a lasting and positive impact on future generations.”

Throughout her years of teaching, Burton says that the most important thing she has learned is to foster an environment where every child feels welcome and safe enough to devote themselves to their education.

“I want my classroom to be a space that students are wholly themselves, curious and eager to learn, share ideas and interact with their peers in a way that is respectful and builds community,” says Burton. “I love being able to see all my students faces and recognize them when I see them around town! I have been working with a lot of other teachers in the district on various projects and there is an overwhelmingly positive and hopeful spirit throughout our district. We are all excited for a little more normalcy in this school year and more frequent opportunities to cheer each other on from the sidelines, do more group focused and hands on learning, and just generally celebrate each other's wins.” <

New Balance Foundation donates $1 million gift to Camp Sunshine

CASCO – Camp Sunshine has announced a $1 million gift from the New Balance Foundation.

This donation will endow one entire session at Camp Sunshine in perpetuity. The funds will forever provide families with the opportunity to meet others on similar journeys and to re-group, re-energize and restore hope for the future. Camp Sunshine is a free, year-round retreat in Casco for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

New Balance Foundation has given a $1 million gift to
Camp Sunshine in Casco, a free, year-round retreat for
children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
The gift will endow one entire session at Camp Sunshine 
for as many as 40 families or up to 170 people.
Each New Balance Foundation session will host as many as 40 families, which equates to about 80 to 100 children and 150 to 170 total family members. This year's New Balance Foundation session at Camp Sunshine was hosted from Sept. 2 to Sept. 5.

This generous gift is the latest in what has been a longstanding relationship between Camp Sunshine and the New Balance Foundation that began two decades ago.

This is one of Camp Sunshine's longest-standing collaborative efforts and it continues to be a motivator for all of us here at Camp to be aligned with a corporate foundation that is so invested in giving back," said Anna Gould, Camp Sunshine's Founder & Board Chair.

The Foundation's support of Camp Sunshine began in 2000 when it sponsored two families to attend the program as part of the Miracle Marathon and grand opening of Camp Sunshine's Anna & Larry Gould Campus. Soon after, factory and outlet store associates began to volunteer at Camp on an annual basis. In 2006, the Foundation committed $250,000 to Camp Sunshine's Endowment and in 2009, an additional $250,000 Brick Walkway Matching Challenge was completed, and the walkway named in the New Balance Foundation's honor. The New Balance Foundation later matched donations up to $300,000 to celebrate Camp Sunshine's 30th Anniversary in 2014.

To date, the New Balance Foundation has donated nearly $2,000,000 to Camp Sunshine.

"Our goal at Camp Sunshine is to create communities of support for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, and the continued support of the New Balance Foundation ensures that families will be able to experience the magic of Camp Sunshine for years to come," said Michael Katz, Camp Sunshine's Executive Director.

"Camp Sunshine is a pillar of strength in our Maine communities. The Camp's commitment to families, patients and communities is unprecedented and New Balance and New Balance Foundation is proud to stand by Camp Sunshine's vision. The Camp's programs continue to grow, and their ability to host families facing a wide range of serious illnesses is tremendous. New Balance Foundation is proud to invest in Camp Sunshine's future with a meaningful gift that will benefit families for years to come," said Anne Davis, managing trustee, New Balance Foundation. <

About Camp Sunshine

Founded in 1984, Camp Sunshine provides retreats combining respite, recreation and support, while enabling hope and promoting joy, for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families through the various stages of a child's illness.

About The New Balance Foundation

The New Balance Foundation mission is to drive change in our global communities with an enduring commitment to preventing childhood obesity and championing the future success of today's youth. Since 1981, New Balance Foundation has granted more than $120M to charity, investing in research, and clinical, educational and community programs that promote healthy lifestyles, children's fitness and nutrition, and overall community wellness.

Volunteer receives Melvin Jones Fellowship Award from Raymond Lions Club

Caryl Gilman, a tireless volunteer in the Raymond-Casco area, was presented with the Lions Club International’s Melvin Jones Fellowship Award during a recent Raymond Lions Club meeting.

Raymond Lions Club President Laurie Wallace,
left, presents the Melvin Jones Fellowship
Award to Caryl Gilman, a volunteer in the
Raymond-Casco area. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Gilman, who has served as secretary for the Raymond Lions Club for quite a few years, is active in many Raymond and Casco organizations, including not only the Raymond Lions Club, but also the Raymond Food Pantry, the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing, and the Raymond Village Church.

During tax season, Gilman volunteers to help prepare taxes at no charge for senior residents needing tax guidance and assistance.

Lions Clubs across the world recognize outstanding individuals by bestowing on them an award that is named after the club’s founder, Melvin Jones. This award is the highest form of recognition and embodies humanitarian ideas consistent with the nature and purpose of the club.

According to Raymond Lions Club President Laurie Wallace the award shows that Gilman has gone above and beyond in serving both the local club and the community in general.

"The Raymond Lions Club is honored to have Caryl as its secretary and as a very active, engaged member of the club,” Wallace said. “Lions Club International’s mission is to empower Lions clubs, volunteers, and partners to improve health and well-being, strengthen communities, and support those in need through humanitarian services and grants that impact lives locally and globally, and encourage peace and international understanding.”

The club was formed in 1995 and is an active group of service minded men and women who want to make Raymond a better place to live by serving the community in a variety of ways. It is a part of the world's largest, and most active service club organization, Lions Club International.

Along with the more than 1.4 million members, they work with their fellow Lions in more than 170 countries and geographical areas to seek out and help the needy in their own communities, their
country, and the world, Wallace said.

The club meets monthly and is active in many worthwhile community service projects in the Raymond and Casco areas.

For further information about the Raymond Lions Club, or to join, call Wallace at 207-655-2222. <

September 23, 2022

Windham Historical Society to provide first Village Green concert

By Lorraine Glowczak

When Europeans immigrated and settled in North America, the nation formed into pockets of rural communities. Most people lived on farms or in small towns and villages. Windham was no exception. So, how did the Windham residents spend their time at the turn of the 20th century when they were not working at their jobs or in the fields?

The public can tour a completely restored Old Grocery Store
during a free open house and concert on the grounds of the 
Windham Historical Society's Village Green off Windham
Center Road from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24. 
The Windham Historical Society will give a glimpse into those years gone by, by hosting an open house and concert on their Village Green from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24. 

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the recently renovated Village Green, 234 Windham Center Road. Attendees will enjoy music provided by the Generations Barbershop Quartet as they perform old-fashion harmonies on the gazebo in the ‘town center.’

“We invite everyone to bring their lawn chairs, relax and enjoy the musical entertainment as well as the baked goods that will be available in the Old Grocery Store,” Haley Pal, a local historian and volunteer member of the historical society, said.

Pal said that this will be the first concert on the green, giving people the experience of Windham’s early years.

“Attendees can explore what life was like years ago while being introduced to the historical society’s newest buildings; the gazebo, the grocery store and the blacksmith shop,” Pal said. “We’re hoping to give people a feel of what life was like back when gazebos were used for a variety of reasons that included being a gathering and entertainment spot for the community."

Pal said the historical society is looking forward to introducing a refurbished Windham grocery store to the public.

“People can experience the Old Grocery Store as it would have looked when it served as the town’s mercantile and learn a bit about the trade of blacksmithing from the Society’s resident blacksmith, Sam Simonson. The store now reflects the way it looked at the turn of the 20th century. Every nook and cranny is utilized. Items sold would have included toys, vegetables, fruits, and candies. They also sold jewelry, china, sewing notions, school supplies and personal products. There were bags of flour, crocks of pickles, canning supplies, tools, you name it, it was sold in the store. It was sort of like the Walmart of its day.”

To celebrate the building’s even earlier times, there is a cobbler and a tailor shop display. There is also a telephone exhibit complete with a switchboard that is exactly like the one that served Windham at one time.

According to the Windham Historical Society website, Windham was originally settled primarily by farmers who came here in the middle of the 1700s.

“The agricultural lifestyle continued through most of the town’s history until the industrial age,” the website continues. “Several wars and many societal changes have created the town we know today, which is primarily residential and includes a large commercial center.”

Windham Historical Society was organized in 1967 for the purpose of preserving the town’s rich historical past and providing opportunities for members of the public to learn about their heritage.

Besides the grocery store, the blacksmith shop and gazebo, the Windham Historical Society’s Village Green includes a one-room schoolhouse, the former Windham Circulating Library, and the Old Town House Museum, which was not only the original Town Hall but also served as one of the many schoolhouses in Windham.

Additionally, the South Windham Library, which was moved from the Little Falls section of Gorham will soon become a museum featuring information about South Windham and the railroad that was an essential part of public transportation during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Lastly, the historical society also owns a house that they currently rent.

“The Village Green will take you to the past, providing both entertainment and a lesson in American small-town life from long ago,” Pal said. "We hope the community will join us this Saturday. If not, please visit us soon. We’re open on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon or by appointment.”

For more information, peruse the historical society’s website at or call 207-892-1433. <

Windham to make decision soon regarding new trash contract

By Ed Pierce

Members of the Windham Town Council met to discuss the particulars of a new sold waste contract for the town during a workshop on Tuesday evening.

If Windham converts to a new trash collection system,
the town would scrap its longtime system of roadside bins
and having to purchase blue bags to dispose of waste
picked up by refuse collectors and instead use new carts
and an automated system. COURTESY PHOTO
In February 2020, Windham entered a three-year contract starting in July 2020 that runs through June 2023 with Pine Tree Waste, Inc. also known as Casella Waste. Under the current system, trash and recyclables are manually collected at the roadside which requires a driver and a laborer and services about 5,400 stops.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told councilors that Casella Waste does not intend to continue business with the town under terms of the current contract because of extended labor shortages and manpower issues. Casella is advocating for an automated program for Windham which consists of using trucks with mechanical arms that lift and dump wheeled carts and fewer laborers are required.

During the workshop Tibbetts and Assistant Windham Town Manager Bob Burns that said if a new trash system is implemented under a new contract, it would mean scrapping the town’s longtime system of roadside bins and having to purchase blue bags to dispose of waste picked up by refuse collectors.

Casella says it has incurred rising operational costs and feels this is its only option for refuse collection in future contracts in this region and according to Tibbetts five other nearby towns are in negotiations with Casella for conversion to an automated collection system at this time. Burns said no other refuse firms have said they are interested in a contract with Windham for solid waste removal.

Scrapping the Pay As You Throw (PAYT) system also would mean losing associated revenue from sales of the blue bags and increased tipping fees incurred by the town for EcoMaine if residents place improperly bagged waste items in carts that is picked up when the trash truck operator is unable to see what is in the cart below the top. Burns said having an automated program in Windham will require effort and manpower from the town to ensure that abuse to the system is limited.

Tibbetts said a new automated system would require new totes for residents and said that is another issue requiring study because if the town purchases the totes, manpower would be required for tote maintenance as needed. However, Casella could purchase and maintain the totes under negotiated terms of a new contract. Tibbetts said that he and Burns recently met with town managers of five other towns and it might be possible for the towns to pool resources to lower the cost of having to purchase totes for residents if necessary.

The size of the new totes could be determined by the size of the household or amount of trash being generated by a residence, he said.

During the Annual Windham Town Meeting in June, voters approved the town budget which included $600,000 for the purchase of new trash and recycle receptacles and bins for town residents if needed and should a new town trash collection system be implemented.

Burns said a new contract with Casella would be for five years and would come with a three-year extension.

According to Burns, Casella has driven through Windham and is expecting to service about 7,500 stops in the town and will purchase a new 6-wheeled platform truck to access some private roads here.

Councilors Nick Kalogerakis and Brett Jones expressed concerns during the workshop about Casella’s willingness and ability to service private roads in town with the new contract. Councilor Bill Reiner said he thinks Windham needs to be firm on this issue and not let Casella be the primary driver of the terms of a new solid waste contract.

Town Council Chair Jarrod Maxfield said he’s concerned by the logistics of how trash pickup would work for residents of roads Casella won’t go down and roads which could be flowing with trash bins on collection days near the end of the road.

Maxfield said he does believe converting to a new system will take some getting used to, but residents will be happy with getting rid of the town’s blue bags if that’s what eventually happens.

“The devil’s going to be in the details and the logistics of how this is going to work,” he said.

Negotiations with Casella are continuing, and town councilors will take up the issue again once a new contract is presented to them. <

Land Trust completes fundraising for East Windham Conservation Project

By Ed Pierce

The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust has sufficiently raised enough funding to complete the East Windham Conservation Project.

A scenic viewpoint looks west on woods Road from the new
East Windham Conservation Project, expected to be open
by next fall to the public. 
According to a newsletter issued by the organization, the land trust received nearly 400 gifts for the East Windham Conservation Project, with 150 of those being first-time gifts to the land trust. The Land Trust spent much of the summer fundraising for the project, which when completed will be the largest block of unfragmented forest in Windham, and one of the largest in the Greater Portland area.

“A huge thank you to everyone who supported the project and to all ongoing Land Trust members and business partners who make conservation, clean water, and trails possible,” said Rachelle Curran Apse, executive director of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust. “Special thanks to Gorham Savings Bank, who provided a $50,000 matching challenge gift.”

Curran Apse said that a complete the list of project sponsors, foundations, businesses, and organizations that supported the project is on the East Windham Conservation Project webpage.

“We are working with the Town of Windham to complete Land for Maine’s Future grant requirements this fall, in order to conserve the land by year's end,” Curran Apse said. “Once we conserve the land, we will begin building out the trailhead and 10 miles of trails. We are planning for a grand opening next fall. We will continue to share updates on the project throughout the year.”

In June, Windham residents voted during the Annual Town Meeting to allow the town to enter 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.

This spring 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.

Prior to the town meeting, 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, and experiencing 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. <

Public briefing to update progress being made for new Windham Middle School

By Ed Pierce

To keep everyone in the know about the progress being made on the construction of a new Windham Middle School, a public briefing will be held next week in Windham.

RSU 14 will offer a public update about progress being made
on the construction of the new Windham Middle School at
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27 at Windham High School.
Superintendent of Schools Christopher Howell will brief
the public about the site selection process and where the
project currently stands during the presentation.
RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools Christopher Howell said that the public is encouraged to attend the briefing, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27 in the Windham High School auditorium.

“The evening will be focused on the middle school construction project and the work that we have completed to date,” Howell said.

In July, the firm of SW Cole Engineering conducted an intensive geotechnical survey of a proposed site for the new school at 61 Windham Center Road to determine if the location is suitable for construction of the new Windham Middle School. Last November, the RSU 14 Board of Directors entered into an option-to-purchase agreement with the property owner of 61 Windham Center Road and the owner agreed to take the property off the market for a period of up to two years.

The cost of that option was $110,000 in the first year and if the board votes to move forward with a purchase of the property, $100,000 of the payment would be applied toward the purchase price. The option to extend in the second year is $10,000 per month but none of the funds from the second year would be applied at closing.

The Windham Center Road site is one of several options available to RSU 14 for the school construction. More than 132 potential 35-plus acre sites were originally identified for review by the RSU 14 WMS Building Committee and then ranked according to transportation accessibility, utility availability, environmental impact, and a range of other factors.

“Once we have all of the geotechnical data and reports on the property at 61 Windham Center Road, the committee will make the final recommendation on a possible site for the new school,” Howell said. “The recommendation will be accompanied by a public forum and a straw poll vote on the site. I am anticipating that the straw poll will take place later this fall.”

Howell said that the referendum for the new school project won’t take place until next spring at the earliest.

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

RSU 14 first applied for the Maine Department of Education’s Major Capital Construction Program in 2016 for funding for construction and was ranked as the fifth-highest priority among 74 proposed school construction projects statewide each year before eventually gaining approval in March 2021.

A majority of construction costs for school projects selected through this program are covered by the state and although school districts may exceed these limits at local expense through municipal bonds, the state bears the major financial burden of capital costs for approved school construction projects after carefully determining that current school renovation would not be viable.

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

Construction of the new Windham Middle School is expected to be completed by the time school begins in the fall of 2026. <

September 16, 2022

In the public eye: Howell leads RSU 14 with humility and empathy

Christopher Howell joined RSU 14 in 1996 and has served
as a WMS And WHS science teacher, WMS assistant 
principal, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment,
Manchester Elementary School Principal, WHS Principal,
and Assistant Superintendent. He's been the Superintendent
of Schools for RSU 14 since 2019. COURTESY PHOTO
By Ed Pierce

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

Ask RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools Christopher Howell what qualities are exhibited by a great leader, and he’ll tell you that leadership is not about titles, workloads, or power, rather a great leader empowers, listens and values others, forges meaningful relationships, and can communicate effectively a positive vision for the future.

Howell is now in his 27th year of working for RSU 14, having joined the school district in 1996 as a science teacher at Windham High School. Through the years, he’s also served the school district as Windham Middle School Assistant Principal, the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, as Manchester Elementary School Principal, Windham High School Principal, RSU 14 Assistant Superintendent and has been the Superintendent of Schools since 2019.

As RSU 14 superintendent, Howell’s job description encompasses all aspects of programming and operations for the Windham Raymond Schools. He holds the ultimate responsibility and decision-making authority for all that happens within the district.

“RSU 14 is a large and complex organization that serves 3,200 students and has roughly 600 full and part-time employees,” Howell said. “It can be challenging to stay on top of all of the activities and issues that are taking place within the district. On top of what is happening in RSU 14, my position requires me to keep informed on issues that are taking place at both the state and national level.” 

Howell said despite the challenges of serving as superintendent, he loves his work. 

“There are many great things that I have the opportunity to do as part of my job.,” he said. “My absolute favorite is when I have the opportunity to visit students in classrooms and participate in the lesson that is taking place.”

According to Howell, the biggest misconception that some may have about his job is that it’s mostly ceremonial.

“There is more to the role of superintendent than calling snow days and showing up at public events,” he said. “The position requires an in-depth knowledge of the past history of the district, current issues that are taking place, and planning for the future needs of the district.”

He grew up in Falmouth and graduated from Falmouth High School in 1988, going on to attend the University of Southern Maine where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1992. He taught middle school science before joining RSU 14 and earned a master’s degree in Teaching in Learning in 1996 and completed the courses for his school administrative certificate at the University of New England in 1999.

“Over the span of my career, there have been so many memorable moments that have taken place,” Howell said. “While the moments include highs and lows, the times where I have had the opportunity to be with and watch students perform at a high level have been the most memorable. This has included surprise playoff wins, state championships, concerts, school musicals, as well as the times where students have shared the completion of an individual goal.”

His family supports his efforts as superintendent.

“My family is proud of the work that I do in serving the students, staff and community in RSU 14,” Howell said. “When my kids were younger, they enjoyed coming to school events where their dad was the principal. I don’t know if it was the free admission to sporting events or the large quantities of snacks that they would purchase at concessions that attracted them to the events."

Howell says something the public may not know about the position of superintendent of schools is the level of cooperation that the district maintains with local and regional partners.

“The district is an active member of the Greater Sebago Education Alliance which is a regional educational service center created by 11 school districts in Cumberland County,” he said. “The organization works to provide professional development opportunities, recruitment events, and shared purchasing opportunities for districts.”

Howell said he’s grateful for the time he’s spent working for the school, district and everything he’s learned along the way.

“The most important lesson that I have learned in RSU 14 is the importance of forging long term relationships with students, families and community members,” he said. “I am now at the point in my career where I am starting to see the children of some of my first students that I worked with in the district.” <

Cub Scout registration charts new adventures for children

Cub Scout Pack 805 in Windham is hosting a registration
night at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19 at Windham Middle School
for new scouts and parents looking to become pack 
volunteers. COURTESY PHOTO
By Ed Pierce 

The Cub Scout experience is about children and families doing fun things together and helping boys and girls in kindergarten to Grade 5 to become their best future selves.

Now that school has resumed after the summer break, Windham’s Cub Scout Pack 805 is welcoming new scouts and new parents looking to become pack volunteers. On Monday, Sept. 19, Pack 805 will conduct a registration night at 6 p.m. at Windham Middle School. At the registration event, older scouts will be presenting fun activities to keep the scouts entertained while the pack leaders talk with parents of both returning and interested scouts.

“Scouting teaches kids positive character traits, helps foster relationships, and to be part of the community,” said Windham Pack 805 Weblos Den Leader Casey Melanson.

According to Melanson, the dens meet once a week and then the entire Pack 805 meets once a month for a special meeting, like a Halloween party, holiday dinner, Pinewood Derby, or other events.

“Pack 805’s dues are just $100 for the year per scout,” she said. “Of that, almost all goes to national registrations, insurance, and other expenses. The Pack conducts fundraising throughout the year to offset the costs of awards and activities.”

She said Windham parents should consider having their children join Cub Scouts because it helps them to work on self-growth, and to try new things. 

“The scout motto is ‘Do Your Best’ and that’s what the kids learn.” Melanson said.

Joining the Cub Scouts is the first step in a journey to become responsible citizens who care about their neighbors and the community.

“We want our scouts to learn what it means to be part of something important, what it means to help their community, make new friends, build relationships, and to have fun,” Melanson said.

Pack 805 currently has more than three dozen scouts who volunteer to work on several community projects every year.

You’ll find Cub Scouts picking up trash after Windham Summerfest or hosting a toy collection drive for a family for Christmas,” Melanson said. “We also participate in Scouting for Food each November to collect needed goods for the Windham Food Pantry.”

Melanson said that Cub Scout uniforms consist of a shirt, a rank neckerchief, and a rank slide. Pants and rank hats are optional. Scouts are encouraged to have a belt (not necessarily a scout belt) to be able to display their beltloop achievements.

Each Cub Scout is issued a handbook for each rank so that the scout will need to be able to learn, perform, and complete each achievement and scout activities emphasize having fun and learning useful life skills.

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

Cub Scout activities and adventures are centered around earning merit badges that are specific to each school grade level. Each badge represents a rank and advancement refers to the progress a Cub Scout makes toward their badge of rank.

For Pack 805’s registration night on Sept. 19, the registration effort will be staffed by Pack 805 leaders who can answer any questions that parents of children interested in participating in scouting may have.

“If someone has a new potential scout who is interested, they may come with the parent,” Melanson said. “If someone is interested in joining but is unable to make the registration event, they can reach out to us through Facebook or email.”

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

Columnist and author to appear at book-signing event in Windham

Andy Young, a columnist for The Windham
Eagle newspaper, will appear at an event
promoting his new book 'Work(s) in
Progress' from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept.
17 at Sherman's Maine Coast Book Shop
By Masha Yurkevich

There are many ways different people in this world use their free time; some enjoy taking walks, some enjoy working on cars, some enjoy cooking. And then there is a pastime that is out of this world: reading. People who spend time reading spend time in a different world; each book is a different planet, a different society. For those interested in meeting authors and having them sign their new books, Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop is hosting free author events throughout this month with another set for Saturday afternoon at its Windham store.

Columnist Andy Young of The Windham Eagle will be on hand at Sherman’s from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 to meet the public and discuss his new book which will be available at Sherman’s.

Young lives in Cumberland and is a Kennebunk High School English teacher, as well as a columnist for The Windham Eagle newspaper and other papers around the state. He has previously been a sportscaster, a high school coach, and a Peace Corps volunteer. His second book of essays was released earlier this year and he will be signing his second book of essays, “Work(s) in Progress,” a collection of thought-provoking and relatable essays that cover an array of topics including sports, travel, and other life events spanning the Maine and New England area.

Noah Ford is the Book Events Coordinator as well as a book buyer for Sherman's. He was hired last year as a bookseller in the Topsham store and was the store manager in Topsham through the holidays and the beginning of 2022. After that, he transitioned into a buyer role where he works with publishers to determine which books to bring into the stores each season. Today, he works on buying books, buying gifts, scheduling book events, posting to their social media accounts, and helping stores out as they need him. 

Besides Young, Ford also said he was excited to bring several other authors to Windham earlier this month. Author Robert Spencer appeared at the bookstore on Sept. 10 and Amanda Davis was there Sept. 11.

According to Ford, Spencer currently lives in Waterford and writes primarily historical fiction, which all take place in Maine. Davis lives in Massachusetts and is an author, artist and teacher. Her poetry and illustrations appear in the Writers’ Loft Poetry Anthology, Friends and Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children (2020). She is the recipient of the 2020 Ann Whitford Paul-Writer's Digest Most Promising Picture Book Award and has over 10 years of experience as an art educator where she was selected as Massachusetts Secondary Art Educator of the Year.

“These events are great opportunities for the community to get to know authors who either live in Maine, frequently visit Maine, or love Maine,” says Ford. “It is a great way to support local and regional authors and to support a local independent bookstore at the same time. You also never know what kind of lasting impressions or connections you can make with an author.”

He said participants have a chance to engage with an author about their craft at these events, discuss their book and chat about any expertise they have on their respective subjects. It is also a great opportunity to discover a new book that you may not have discovered otherwise.

Spencer’s appearance had him signing his three books: “Prospects,” a historical novel set in the early 1900s and inspired by the discovery of tourmaline in Maine follows a small community of miners; “The Spinster's Hope Chest,” a novel that follows a woman from Waterford beginning in the 1860s as she navigates familial challenges and pursues a business career during a time when women were mostly kept from the workforce; and his newest book, “Francena Hallett's Heart,” a novel that follows the same characters of “The Spinster's Hope Chest,” and brings a conclusion to the intense, vengeful relationship between the main character, Lizzie Millett, and the mysterious Aphia Stevens.

Davis appeared to present her award-winning picture book, “30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag,” which tells the true story of the American flag that flew over Ground Zero in the days after 9/11, becoming torn and tattered and later traveled across all 50 states to be fully restored before returning to New York as a symbol of unity and hope.

“As the year goes on, the community can look forward to many more events in the future,” says Ford. “We are hoping other creative minds in the area will look to us as a place to connect with others and reach a greater audience in the community. We hope to see familiar faces and meet new friends at these events.” <

Diamond urges oversight committee to obtain key child protection case files

AUGUSTA — Last week Senator Bill Diamond, D-Windham, urged the Maine Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee to pursue legal action against the Department of Health and Human Services in order to obtain the case files of four Maine children who were killed in the summer of 2021.

The department has refused to share the case files with the committee as part of its ongoing review of Maine’s child protective system, citing concerns that doing so could jeopardize ongoing criminal investigations.

“While it is understandable that the general public must wait for the trials to take place in order to learn the details of what went so wrong for these kids, the Committee needs to be able to access these files as soon as possible in order to complete their critical work,” said Diamond. “The Committee has been working diligently for a year conducting this review, and allowing Committee members to examine these case files in a confidential, non-public setting is absolutely imperative so that they can make recommendations that will actually help improve the system where it’s most needed and make things safer for kids. I’m disappointed by the Department’s refusal to share these files, but the Committee cannot give up: They must have access to these files, so that they can do the vital work we’re counting on them to do.”

In July, the Government Oversight Committee requested that the department share with members of the committee the case files for 6-week-old Jaden Harding, 3-year-old Hailey Goding, 3-year-old Maddox Williams and 1-month-old Sylus Melvin. 

All four children died in the summer of 2021, and in all four cases a parent has been charged with murder or manslaughter in connection with the child’s death. Under advice from the Attorney General’s Office, DHHS refused the request.

While the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA), the office aiding the Committee in their work, will have access to these files, committee members themselves will not, unless the committee is successful in legally challenging the department’s decision.

The Government Oversight Committee is next scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21 in Room 220 of the Burton M. Cross Building.

A legal decision regarding the case file accessibility is pending. <

Newspaper outlines guidelines for election coverage

By Ed Pierce

Another election cycle is approaching, and The Windham Eagle is ready to provide objective coverage of the candidates and races in the Windham and Raymond communities.

To be fair to everyone concerned, here are the rules the newspaper is setting forth for election coverage this fall:

Letters to the Editor supporting candidates will be accepted up to 10 days prior to Election Day. The letters should be sent to and be no more than 400 words in length. The deadline to submit letters is noon on Tuesdays for that week’s newspaper edition.

The newspaper will print no more than two letters supporting a candidate per edition. Readers may only submit one letter supporting a candidate during an election cycle. The letters will be published in the order they are received by the newspaper.

Organized letter-writing campaigns are not allowed by the newspaper and letters deemed to be part of an organized campaign will not be published. 

Because of space limitations in the print edition of the newspaper, letters will only be published from residents living in Windham or Raymond supporting candidacies in districts they reside in.

The newspaper does not endorse candidates.

Election candidates and supporters are encouraged to advertise in the newspaper to reach their local voters. The circulation of the newspaper is 13,000 weekly with approximately 10,600 direct mailed to homes and businesses in Windham and Raymond. Newsstand copies are available in Windham, Raymond, Casco, Naples and Gray.

A questionnaire will be sent to election candidates by email and candidates are asked to complete it in a timely manner and send it back to the newspaper editor to compile into a candidate preview for publication.

The candidate preview will appear in the Oct. 14 edition of The Windham Eagle. Should a candidate not return the questionnaire, their space in the candidate preview will indicate that they did not respond to questions posed by the newspaper.

Issues and statewide referendum items will be covered by The Windham Eagle newspaper for readers prior to the election on Nov. 8. <

September 9, 2022

Lakes Region a spectacular backdrop for birdwatching

Maine wildlife photographer Diana Onaki captured this
image of a Belted Kingfisher bird while visiting the
Scarborough Marsh last week. PHOTO BY DIANA ONAKI
By Andrew Wing

With a rugged coastline that is actually longer than that of California, Maine is more forested than any other state. With that there are so many places for birds to hide, and wherever you go you can catch a glimpse of them depending on what you know. And while there are many secrets when it comes to birding in Maine, Emily Parker, a registered Maine Guide, knows there is adventure everywhere you look.

Parker went to Unity College where she studied conservation and wildlife and has always had a job that in some way, shape or form involved the outdoors. She has been hunting and fishing ever since she was a little girl, and she even learned how to shoot guns before she learned how to ride a bike. Parker started teaching classes at Sebago Outfitters in Raymond in the spring to ultimately teach about Maine wildlife and nature, and also give those who were there an introduction to hunting and the outdoors.

Maine is a beautiful state that is heavily forested and has a great many locations where birdwatching is at its best, but the area surrounding Sebago Lake, according to Parker, is one of the best places to birdwatch.

“The Lakes Region area of Maine is such a wonderful place to bird watch,” said Parker. “There are a variety of birds from shorebirds to raptors to songbirds to duck species that you could never get tired of looking for new birds to see. Bird watching in Maine is a year-round activity and great for the whole family,” Parker said. “The most active time of year is in the spring and early summer when most birds are laying their eggs.”

It’s common knowledge that the black-capped chickadee is the Maine state bird, but Parker says, that it’s actually not the most common bird one will see while birdwatching in the Lakes Region.

“Some of the most recognizable birds in the area to watch are the loons,” said Parker. “Loons are common on Maine lakes. They usually lay one to two eggs between the months of May and June and the eggs hatch about six weeks later. Loons symbolize the beauty of nature here in Maine and are utilized in Maine iconic areas, such as some of Maine’s license plates.”

Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife calculates that right now there are about 292 different species of birds living in the state with many bird species undertaking long-distance migrations, such as shorebirds, while and others only traveling shorter and somewhat irregular seasonal movements. Department officials say that some species, like the ruffed grouse or wild turkey, are year-round residents of Maine with home ranges that are relatively small.

While the Maine lakes do serve as great places to bird watch, Parker suggests a local area in Raymond is probably one’s best bet if they want to see all different kinds of birds in one setting.

“​​The Morgan Meadow Wildlife Management Area in Raymond is a great place to bird watch,” said Parker. “This management area is 1,100 acres and about 100 acres of it are wetlands and marsh. This leaves plenty of space for any species of birds to inhabit the area. Birds you could see here include Eagles, puddles ducks such as Wood Ducks and Mallards, a wide variety of Warblers, Great Blue Heron, American Bittern, a variety of Rail species, and Louisiana Waterthrushes.”

Parker also shared another great birdwatching spot if one was looking to expand their bird watching to outside of the Lakes Region area.

“The Scarborough marsh is also a wonderful place to travel to if you want to see a wider variety of birds,” said Parker. “The advantage to the Scarborough marsh is there is also a large variety of saltwater species that live there.”

She suggests that anyone who is really interested in birdwatching in the Lakes Region community should grab a series of books that will be sure to help them uncover some of the secrets to the Maine wilderness that was previously mentioned.

“For anyone who is really looking for something to do in the outdoors for the whole family, I would highly suggest getting the Sibley Guide to Bird books that were authored by David Allen Sibley,” said Parker. “They are phenomenal and easy to read. I use it for all my bird identification. I would also suggest investing in a “life list.” This is a comprehensive list of birds that you can purchase to check off every time you see a new species. It is fun for the whole family, and you could even keep track of all the birds by making a scrapbook of photos.” <

Gorham/Windham/Westbrook Triad Group enhances lives of older adults

The Gorham/Westbrook/Windham Triad organization 
includes law enforcement officials, local businesses and
senior citizens. Its mission is to reduce the criminal
victimization of older adults, enrich the delivery of law
enforcement services and improve the quality of life
for older adults. COURTESY PHOTO 
By Lorraine Glowczak 

Many older adults are choosing to age in place, remaining in the communities and the homes where they have raised families and developed long-term friendships. Often, many live alone. As a result, organizations have been developing in recent years to meet the growing retiring population and their needs. The Gorham/Windham/Westbrook Triad has been actively providing multiple services for the safety of older adults for over 17 years, since 2005.

“The mission of the Gorham/Westbrook/Windham Triad is to reduce the criminal victimization of the older citizens, enrich the delivery of law enforcement services, and improve the quality of life for our seniors in the Gorham, Windham, and Westbrook communities,” said Doris Ames, Chair of the organization. “Our motto is that we educate, communicate important information and enhance the lives of our seniors.”

Ames said that The Gorham/Westbrook/Windham Triad organization includes law enforcement officials, local businesses, and senior citizens. Windham Police Officer Patricia Buck is an active member, and she works closely with Ames to fulfill the organization's mission in the Windham community. 

Each community has different needs, and the members work together to provide educational and safety opportunities and social gatherings to prevent loneliness.

“We meet the second Friday of each month and always invite a guest speaker who shares information that pertains to the education and safety of our seniors and those who are aging in place,” Ames said. “At our next meeting, this Friday, Sept. 9, we have invited Mary Hadlock of the Southern Maine Agency on Aging to talk about the services they offer and volunteer opportunities for those who may be interested.”

Ames said everyone is invited to the Gorham/Westbrook/Windham Triad meetings. They meet at 9 a.m. at the Gorham Police Department, 270 Main St. in Gorham.

Since safety for older adults is at the forefront of the Triad’s mission, the organization supports many initiatives that keep older adults safe. One such program is the Yellow Dot project. According to the Cumberland County Yellow Dot website (, this free program helps first responders provide life-saving medical attention during that first “golden hour” after a crash or other emergency. A Yellow Dot decal is placed in the driver's-side rear window of the individual’s vehicle. It will alert first responders that vital medical information is stored in the glove compartment.

The Triad has also created the “Rise and Shine” or “Good Morning” calls as another safety measure to check in on older adults who may not have close family members to check in on them. Ames said the Westbrook community’s check-ins are up and running; however, Windham is still working actively to solidify the effort in this community.

“Windham Triad members have recently begun working in collaboration with the Windham Parks and Recreation Department’s Senior Programming, Age-Friendly Windham Committee, and the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing to create a successful check-in program for our older adults,” Officer Buck said. “All of these organizations have our older citizens’ wellbeing in mind, and to work collaboratively on this initiative will ensure its success.”

Buck also said that the good morning calls provide a perfect solution for adult children and other family members who live many miles away from their parents. “We’ve received positive feedback from those who live outside of the state – they said it relieves some of their concerns knowing someone is checking in on their parents.”

In addition to offering safety and educational services, the Gorham/Windham/Westbrook Triad also enhances older citizens’ lives by providing opportunities for social connections through pancake breakfasts, field trips and other group events.

“We visit a lot of places and do a lot of fun activities,” Ames said. "For example, this spring, we took a tour on the mail boat cruise in Casco Bay, and everyone had quite the enjoyable time.”

The organization has also offered field trips to various museums, including a backyard train museum in the greater Buxton area, which has since closed. The group has also visited artists, including an individual who makes dolls following her own pattern and recently toured a local brewery.

“The Gorham/Windham/Westbrook Triad is here for all older citizens, and we want to let people know we exist,” Ames said. “People can reach out to us any time.”

For more information, contact the Triad Chair, Doris Ames, at 207-887-9222 or follow the organization on Facebook. Ames reiterated that everyone is welcome to the monthly meetings.

“We have free coffee and snacks. So please come and join us to meet people and socialize with your peers.” <

New classes help seniors improve balance, reduce accidental falls

In the fall of 2022, Southern Maine Agency on Aging will lead two in-person classes in Windham called "A Matter of Balance" and "Tai Chi for Health and Balance" with each designed to improve the quality of life of adults 60 and over by improving their balance and increasing their physical strength.

As our bodies change with age, we may find that as our balance and strength change and we are less confident or even fearful during everyday activities we once took for granted like shopping, cooking, driving, doing household chores, and even playing weekly pickleball games. The fear of falling can put a damper not only on what we like to do but also on our social connections, leading to a sense of loneliness and social isolation.

No matter if we are reasonably healthy or have limiting chronic conditions, there are community-based programs and resources that can help to improve our overall health and as a result, decrease our chances of falling. Southern Maine Agency of Aging leads two evidence-based programs specifically designed to help reduce falls: "Tai Chi for Health and Balance" and "A Matter of Balance."

The "A Matter of Balance" workshop is designed to help participants increase physical activity, make important home safety improvements, and even learn how to respond if a fall does happen. 

The workshop empowers participants to take charge of managing their health. Each meeting invites attendees to share their own experiences and concerns about falls and together they create strategies for flourishing and living independently.

Trained volunteers lead gentle exercises to build strength and improve balance and range of motion. “I got my entire group of friends at our housing facility to continue with our exercises after we took A Matter of Balance two years ago! I’m taking it again for a refresher,” a recent "A Matter of Balance" participant said.

"A Matter of Balance" is an eight-session workshop with two-hour meetings. Like every group-based program, participants benefit the most when they attend all eight meetings.

The other evidence-based program that Southern Maine Agency on Aging offers to people who want to improve balance and wellbeing is "Tai Chi for Health and Balance."

It improves mobility, strength, breathing, and relaxation through a combination of movement, balance, joint-safe exercise, and mental focus.

One of SMAA’s Tai Chi practitioners and a volunteer instructor shared a story about trying to get from a trail at the Wells Reserve to the beach, which required walking across some rocks.

"Because of my tai chi training, I could cross the rocks with no fear. Even when I lost my footing momentarily, I was able to correct my balance,” she said.

"Tai Chi for Health and Balance" workshops meet for one hour twice a week for 10 weeks.

Both classes are offered in person in the fall of 2022. A Matter of Balance runs 9/21- 10/14 on Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:30-3:30 pm at the Windham Raymond Adult Education Center (406 Gray Road, Windham, ME 04062).

Tai Chi for Health & Balance runs Sept. 19 to Nov. 28 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Windham Town Hall Gym (8 School Road, Windham).

To register call 207-396-6578 or visit

The Southern Maine Agency on Aging is the focal point in Cumberland and York counties for resources, services and information to empower older adults, adults with disabilities, and their caregivers to live to their fullest potential. To learn more about SMAA’s services, visit or call 207-396-6500. <

September 2, 2022

New mixer and charity event to benefit Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Now more than ever, an organization that provides vital heating assistance to those in need in the community is asking for the public’s help in keeping local residents warm this winter.

The Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors organization, a 501c3 nonprofit, made up of Windham volunteers who have come together to provide one-time emergency assistance to those Windham residents who require immediate heating fuel, is relaunching its annual mixer and charity event with a different type of format this year. The “Howdy Neighbor Hoedown” is all-new from previous Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors fundraisers and will take place at Erik’s Church in Windham, a new venue for the event.

The country-themed gathering will feature the band 12/OC and promises to better accommodate and entertain guests while supporting the WNHN organization’s mission to lend a hand to residents having issues with heating their homes this winter.

“Get your tickets soon for a boot stomping good time while raising funds to help our Windham neighbors in need,” said Barb Maurais, Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors board member. “The Howdy Neighbor Hoedown will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15 and includes heavy appetizers and desserts, live bands, live auction, and raffles.”

Choosing Erik’s Church as a new venue for the annual fundraising event will certainly enhance participants’ experiences that evening. Along with convenient access to nearby parking, a well-stocked bar, a great sound system, and climate control are all suggestions that organizers have taken seriously in planning this event.

“This year’s event will be awesome. Changing our venue to Erik’s Church will make it that much better.” said Patrick Corey, Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors President. “Live entertainment, a fast-paced and dynamic schedule, along with a change to a weeknight should keep the event lively and make the night more convenient for folks trying to live it up on the weekends before fall arrives.”

Founded in October 2007, Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors devotes its resources to those who fall through the cracks and either don’t qualify or are in a bureaucratic process waiting for assistance from other entities. The organization is funded entirely through donations and 100 percent of funds received go directly to area residents that the organization assists.

After being helped, the WNHN organization direct participants to appropriate long-term resources and promotes a genuine culture of neighbors helping neighbors in the community.

“We have companies that will deliver to your home. If you need heating oil, we will ask for the location of your fill pipe,” Corey said. “This is the same for KI and propane. If you use wood as your primary source of heat, we will supply Bio-Bricks after an inspection is completed by the Windham Fire Department. We can help facilitate this.”

To learn more or find out how to make a donation to the WNHN organization, visit

For this year’s primary fundraiser, the Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors is offering reserved seating for tables of eight and tables of four located toward the front of the venue for the “Howdy Neighbors Hoedown” and everyone is welcome to attend, come out and have a great time and support a worthy cause, Corey said. General admission tickets will also be available.

Tickets can be purchased conveniently and securely online at EventBrite through Sept. 9. Visit to purchase tickets.

For more information about the event, call Patrick Corey at 207-749-1336 or send an email with questions to <

Software error results in Windham Town Council adjusting mill rate

By Ed Pierce

A software error discovered in late August has resulted in the Windham Town Council having to recalculate its mill rate for property taxes for the coming year. During a meeting on Aug. 16, councilors voted to set the mill rate at 11.19 to meet an overlay of $96,789, but discovery of a software accounting error on Aug. 22 by the town manager’s office brought councilors back for a special meeting on Aug. 24 to adjust the mil rate.

The new adjusted rate of 11.61 was approved by councilors and is expected to generate enough to meet the overlay, said Windham Town manager Barry A. Tibbetts.

“The error was discovered Aug. 22 and it was a software error in which exemptions were not applied,” Tibbetts told the council during the special meeting. “We reran the numbers and found that we needed a mil rate of 11.61 to meet the overlay of $96,789 and fulfill the budget voters approved at the town meeting in June for the coming year.” 

The 2022-2023 town budget of about $38 million funded the expense of adding six fire-EMS personnel, fixed cost increases from rising electric and fuel expenses, medical and dental contractual obligations, bonding, and capital equipment leases. The budget also funded 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.

Councilor Mark Morrison asked if this was an ongoing accounting problem and Tibbetts said the software glitch has been resolved and this should not happen again in the future.

“It definitely won’t happen again,” Tibbetts said.

Property taxes collected by the town are based upon the mil rate that the town council sets each year. The mill levy is the tax rate that is applied to the assessed value of a property. One mill is one dollar per $1,000 dollars of assessed value. That consists of a local tax portion which is used to fund area services and a statewide portion which is used to fund public schools.

During the Aug. 16 meeting, Windham town councilors also were briefed about the town’s successful response to the Senior Tax Assistance Program again this year.

Tibbetts said 244 seniors applied for the program for the 2021/2022 tax year, up from 200 seniors who applied for the 2020/2021 tax year.

According to Tibbetts, the average income of qualifying recipients is $35,193 and the average tax paid by qualifying recipients is $3,004.

Under the Senior Tax Assistance Program this year, Tibbetts said 128 senior residents qualified for the full benefit of $700, while 99 senior residents qualified for a partial benefit ranging from $39 to $695. About 17 or 19 applicants were not eligible for assistance under the program rules because their household income exceeded the established limit (50 percent of the current HUD MFI for the Portland metropolitan area or $56,350. Another eight applicants did not pay property taxes that met the program requirements (Property Taxes Paid – 4 percent of household income).

“Per our ordinance, Chapter 209, Article I - Property Tax Assistance, payments to all qualifying applicants are limited to the amount available in the fund and any surplus monies available after all payments shall be carried forward within the fund to the next fiscal year,” Tibbetts said. “We carried forward $49,541 and budgeted $100,000 for this fiscal year. The council increased the maximum benefit, or the refund amount was increased to $700. This year, the total program calculated benefit was $133,823, which is within the fund amount of $149,541.”

Tibbetts said the Senior Tax Assistance Program differs from a state senior tax assistance program but has been helpful in saving money for Windham seniors.

“This has been a great program for our seniors, and you can see from the memo that it has steadily increased each year.”

Councilor William Reiner said he supports the program and is glad to see the town promoting the initiative in the community through advertising it in the media and online.

“I’m glad this was presented out there, and people took advantage of it,” Reiner said. <

New law from Diamond to prioritize child homicide court cases takes effect

AUGUSTA — A new law sponsored by Senator Bill Diamond, D-Windham, that prioritizes the scheduling of child homicide trials took effect on Monday, Aug. 8. This law will help improve safety for all Maine children by expediting the discovery of key information that led to previous child deaths.

“Often, it’s only when a case goes to trial that we finally learn the details of what went so horribly wrong – and that gives us the power to make change,” said Diamond. “Especially when it’s the safety of Maine kids that is at stake, we can’t afford to wait months or even years to figure out what went wrong. By requesting that the courts prioritize scheduling the trials of child homicide cases, we can act as quickly as possible on the information we learn from these trials so that other kids are better protected. I’m grateful for everyone who worked to make this law, but we must keep pushing forward to make sure all children in Maine are as safe as possible.”

The new law requires the Maine Attorney General to formally request that the courts give priority in scheduling homicide cases in which the victim is younger than 18 years old. Diamond had introduced the bill after learning that, because of a backlog of cases caused by the pandemic, last June’s child death cases would take longer to go to trial than they typically would, thus delaying the revelation of critical information in these cases.

 A longtime advocate for reform in Maine’s child welfare system, Senator Diamond highlighted key pieces of information that have been brought to light only when past child murder cases have gone to trial.

For example, the trial in the death of 10-week-old Ethan Henderson, who was killed by his father in May 2012, revealed the failures of mandated reporters to report Ethan’s injuries to the authorities. The trial also revealed that DHHS caseworkers were in Ethan’s home to conduct a welfare check on him just days before his death, but failed to follow through because Ethan was sleeping.

Making failures such as these known has been critical as the Maine Legislature continues seeking to improve Maine’s child welfare system.

All non-emergency laws take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns without any future date being designated or unless otherwise specified.

Other laws championed by Senator Diamond that took effect this year include measures to combat high energy prices, improve access to health care and prescription drugs, promote economic opportunity and to support working families, seniors and veterans. <