January 27, 2023

Windham awards new contract to town manager

By Ed Pierce

By virtue of a new contract, the Town of Windham will continue to tap into the experience, expertise, and leadership abilities of Barry Tibbetts as town manager.

Barry Tibbetts has served as the Town Manager
for Windham since November 2019 and the
Windham Town Council renewed his contract
for three years during a meeting on Tuesday
evening. FILE PHOTO 
Tibbetts, who was appointed by the Windham Town Council as the interim town manager in November 2019, assumed duties as the fulltime town manager in March 2020.

In extending a new contract to Tibbetts, councilors authorized him to perform the functions and duties of the town manager and to hold all offices as specified in the town's charter and to complete other duties and functions.

Under terms of the contract, Windham will pay Tibbetts an annual base salary of $160,741.80, which Phyllis Moss, the town’s human resources director detailed in a memo for councilors as being in line with compensation for other town managers leading nearby communities.

Based upon the new agreement, Tibbetts would receive cost-of-living adjustments for town employees starting in July 2023 based upon results of his annual performance evaluation. He would also be eligible for a longevity increase should he stay through the third year of the contract in Fiscal Year 2025-2026.

“I would just like to thank Barry for his efforts,” said Windham councilor David Nadeau. “He’s done a phenomenal job moving us forward.”

Councilor Jarrod Maxfield agreed with Nadeau’s assessment.

“I truly believe if you had not come to Windham when you did that we would not be in the position that we are in,” Maxfield told Tibbetts. “Windham is getting a lot more than we’re paying for.”

In August, Tibbetts was honored with the Maine Town, City and County Management Association’s 2022 Leadership Award during the association’s annual convention at Sugarloaf. The award is presented to recognize a Public Administrator in the state for a particularly bold and innovative project or for solving an unusually difficult problem and then playing a key role in developing the project as well as in implementing it.

In nominating Tibbetts for the award, Windham Town Council members and Bob Burns, Windham assistant town manager, representing Windham town staff, wrote that Tibbetts stepped up and led the way for Windham in getting major projects such Windham’s new wastewater treatment solution for North Windham, development of a connector road system to alleviate traffic congestion in the Route 302 corridor and Windham’s approval of the East Windham Conservation Project where hundreds of acres are being conserved by the town for recreational use.

“These achievements that needed Barry’s motivation, tutelage and leadership are wins for him and major wins for the Town of Windham and its residents,” Burns said in his nomination letter.

Windham voters attending the Annual Town Meeting last June approved a proposal for the town to join a partnership with Presumpscot Regional Land Trust to purchase and conserve 661 acres near Little Duck Pond in East Windham in a project called the East Windham Conservation Project. The project will acquire 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.

As part of the project, Lands for Maine’s Future awarded Windham $998,000 to help fund the initiative and voters approved a bond to match the LMF award with town open space impact fees so there is no impact upon the mil rate for local homeowners.

During a Windham referendum in June 2022, voters approved a proposed $40.4 million sewer and wastewater treatment project for North Windham championed by Tibbetts. Some 71 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of the measure after a different sewer proposal was rejected by Windham voters in 2012. The project will not raise taxes and all but $500,000 is covered to pay for the initiative through a combination of grant funding, a $38.9 million award by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and North Windham TIF funding supported by North Windham businesses.

A new wastewater treatment facility on the grounds of Manchester School will be built as part of the project and addresses pressing environmental issues by removing thousands of pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus being dumped by septic systems into the aquifer and watershed. It also is intended to stimulate significant economic growth and development in the North Windham area from industry and businesses not willing to locate there previously because of septic system issues and associated costs.

As town manager, Tibbetts also is leading an effort to alleviate persistent traffic congestion in North Windham along Route 302 through creation of a system of new access roads and sophisticated high-tech traffic signals. In January 2022, the Windham Town Council adopted a study that puts forward a phased plan to build connector roads in the next few years.

For years, heavy traffic during peak travel times is an ongoing problem along the Route 302 corridor from the intersection of Route 115 to Franklin Road and has caused congestion, motorist delays and a high accident rate for motorists in the town. The issue has been studied repeatedly for decades, but now a potential solution is at hand.

Tibbetts joined Windham after serving 24 years in municipal roles with the Town of Kennebunk, retiring there as Town Manager in 2017. Along the way he acquired extensive municipal experience and experience in local government, administrative operations, budgeting, regulatory functions, and community relations.

Before accepting the interim town manager job for Windham, Tibbetts worked with a small energy start-up business and developed a consulting business in energy and governmental services. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Maine, and he also earned an MBA degree during his career in government. He also holds credentialed certifications from both the ICMA and MCTMA.

He is married and the father of three daughters. <

Council advances proposed childcare amendment to Planning Board

By Ed Pierce

Members of the Windham Town Council have voted to send the Windham Planning Board an item for a proposed amendment allowing a childcare facility in the Route 202 corridor in the Windham Center area.

The Windham Town Council sent a proposed amendment
regarding childcare zoning to the Windham Planning Board
for review and a public hearing at its next meeting in
The Windham Raymond School Age Child Care Program asked councilors to advance the proposal so that the Planning Board could schedule a public hearing on the matter at its next meeting. The non-profit childcare program recently purchased a 2.5-acre parcel on Pope Road near the junction of Route 202 and has an opportunity to apply for a Start Up Facility Child Care Grant from the state which could assist with startup costs of up to $250,000.

The grant application needs to include a letter on file by March 1 saying that the town has approved the facility’s location.

As a non-profit, the Windham Raymond School Age Child Care Program currently operates a before/after school childcare program and currently exceeds the State of Maine’s childcare licensing requirements.

In a letter to councilors, program officials say that the ever-growing need for quality childcare in not only the Windham community but other surrounding communities, led to the organization making a commitment to expand to offer care for infants, toddlers, and preschool age children.

The grant application requires land for new facilities be identified and the town in which the land is located must verify via a letter that a childcare center can be built on the land.

Childcare facilities are currently allowed by the town in an overlay within the portions of the Farm and Farm-Residential Zoning Districts and located in proximity to Gray Road between Roosevelt Trail and Swett Road. The new facility would require a zoning change.

“We understand there are several possibilities for zoning changes. The Windham Center zone ordinance change which could be several months out including contract zoning where the timing would also be too close to call for the grant application, and a change to existing zoning in a business corridor for daycare center use,” Windham Raymond School Age Child Care wrote to the town council. “We would ask that the existing zoning law be amended to allow for a zone change in a business corridor for daycare center use within 800 feet of Route 202.”

The town’s Planning Board is responsible for reviewing and approving all conditional use applications in the overlay zone. Requirements would include adhering to a maximum building size of 7,000 square feet, a review of design guidelines, a pitched roof use of traditional, high-quality building materials, including brick, clapboard, shingles, or other similar projects as the primary siding material. Buildings and parking areas must be properly screened from adjoining residential properties located at the side and rear of the property.

The childcare program wrote to the council that a new childcare center with proximity to local schools will help ease childcare needs and assist those families with multiple children for drop off and pick up.

“Our plan is for one building with a fenced-in playground, and parking area as required by town. This building could house from 50 to 75 children, depending on state licensing requirements with typical business operating hours during the Monday to Friday work week and full day operations, the surrounding neighbors should experience very limited/no nighttime or weekend impacts,” program officials wrote. “As of now, we have the land and plans for our building. We are ready to start the financial process with or without the grant, but the grant would certainly help with this startup endeavor. We need this zoning change before we can go further with the grant application process.”

Windham Planning Director Amanda Lessard said should the Planning Board approve the project after the public hearing and discussion, all applicable permits and a review would need to be obtained like with any other project in Windham.

Councilors voted to advance the proposed amendment to the Planning Board meeting on Feb. 13. <

State Park campers increase significantly in 2022

AUGUSTA – Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Bureau of Parks and Lands Director Andy Cutko has announced a record was set during 2022 for camping nights in state parks.

Reservations for the 2023 camping season at
Sebago Lake State Park in Casco opens at 9 a.m.
Feb. 1 online at www.CampWithME.com or
by calling 800-332-1501. FILE PHOTO 
During 2022, Maine State Park campgrounds recorded over 319,000 visitor nights. 2022 was BPL's second-highest ranking year for total state park visitation, with more than 3.28 million people spending time at the bureau's 48 parks and historic sites. In 2021, Maine State Parks welcomed more than 3.3 million visitors and more than 315,000 campers.

"The credit for this record-breaking growth goes to every staff member in our Maine State Parks system. Their dedication to caring for our parks and the people who choose to recreate with us is unmatched," said DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal. "Whenever I visit a Maine State Park, I always discover something new that reminds me how amazing these places are and the impact that spending time in nature can have on people."

Cutko said the 2022 increase shows how much people love Maine’s state parks. "Many of us have been interested to see whether the pandemic spike in outdoor activity would be sustained," Cufko said. "Our 2022 statistics show that Maine people and our visitors continue to love our State Parks."

For the coming year, Cufko advises that the state will begin accepting reservations for Lily Bay and Sebago Lake State Parks next month.

He said at 9 a.m. Feb. 1, the Maine State Park campground reservations center opens to accept online and phone reservations for Lily Bay and Sebago Lake State Parks.

Camping reservations may also be made online at www.CampWithME.com or reach the camping reservation call center by calling 800-332-1501 from a Maine 207 area code; or 207-624-9950. Seasonal reservation call center hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, excluding holidays.

Group Campsite and Picnic Shelter Reservations are by phone only and begin Feb. 1, 2023. <

County makes $1.35 million available for heating assistance

Cumberland County government officials have announced that county funded home heating funds are now available to residents, through participating towns and cities.

The Cumberland County Commissioners have allocated $1.35 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for homeowners who are struggling to pay for heat this winter.

Cumberland County established the “Keep Cumberland County Warm” project in December 2022. Funds are distributed to qualifying residents who need help with heating bills through town and city offices, and so the program is voluntary for municipalities to participate.

Eleven communities in Cumberland County have signed up to participate in the program so far.

“High costs associated with home heating are forcing low- and middle-income households to face impossible choices,” said Cumberland County Manager Jim Gailey. “Hopefully these funds will help a lot of people in Cumberland County get through a tough winter.”

The heating aid program is designed to support residents whose earnings are above the limit to qualify for General Assistance aid or Federal Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds but are still earning below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit and are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of heat.”

In Cumberland County, a household of four would qualify for aid if their household income is below $82,710.

“People at all income levels are feeling the pinch,” Gailey said. “These funds were designed for households who don’t normally qualify for heating aid but are still having trouble making ends meet in this environment.”

Cumberland County has committed $50,000 to each participating community to distribute to residents who qualify. There is no standard award; towns and cities will each have the discretion to choose how they want to allocate funds if they meet the overall program guidelines.

Since 2021, Cumberland County has invested more than $20 million in critical projects and programs in the region, by way of ARPA funding.

Prior to launching the Keep Cumberland County Warm Fund, Cumberland County had already invested more than $2 million in direct support to residents; with county funds having been used toward reducing housing and food insecurity and expanding access to health care and transportation for people who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Gailey said that the county has dedicated millions of ARPA dollars to affordable housing projects, directly funding hundreds of new units under construction in the region and providing incentives for developers to continue building affordable housing in the coming years.

Through partnerships with the City of Portland Homeless Service Center and Tedford Shelter in Brunswick, the County has allocated more than $4 million toward the development of non-congregate shelter space and wraparound services for people who are experiencing homelessness within our region.

Finally, Cumberland County has recently announced competitive grant programs for uncommitted ARPA funds to preserve and produce affordable rental housing; improve sewer and water infrastructure; and increase the number of childcare slots available in the region.

For more information about how to apply please contact your local town office and speak to the General Assistance Administrator.

To read more about income guidelines for Keep Cumberland County Warm, contact information for each town, and other Cumberland County’s ARPA investments, visit the County’s dedicated Keep Cumberland County Warm website at https://cumberlandcounty.org/heat <

January 20, 2023

In the public eye: WHS assistant principal supports student success

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

By Lorraine Glowczak

Vanessa Michaud, one of two Assistant Principals at Windham High School, was predestined to be an educator. With an uncle and two aunts (one of whom became a Principal at Gardiner High School), Michaud witnessed and realized the significance of education and its contribution to individual success at an early age.

Vanessa Michaud has worked at Windham High School for
nine years, first as a science teacher and then moving into
her current position as one of two assistant principals for 
the school in 2018. PHOTO BY LORRAINE GLOWCZAK 
“My family always valued education and its important impact it can make in people’s lives,” she said. “Having strong mentors and support from my family played a very important part in who and where I am today.”

Michaud grew up in Brewer, graduating from Brewer High School in 2004. Continuing in the Michaud family tradition, she attended the University of Maine in Orono, graduating in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in both secondary and elementary education with a minor in Biology.

Upon graduation from UMO, she moved north of Orono to Lee, and taught Advanced Placement (AP) Biology, Anatomy & Physiology, and Lab Biology at Lee Academy. But Michaud’s work with students expanded beyond the classroom.

“I was also the varsity softball coach, a class advisor, and a dorm parent to 16 girls from all around the world who lived on campus,” she said. “I really enjoyed all my tasks because the experiences allowed me to really get to know the students on a one-to-one and personal level, both in and out of the classroom setting.”

While successfully managing multiple roles at Lee Academy, Michaud continued her education, working toward her master’s degree in educational leadership at UMO, which she earned in 2013.

Always dreaming of moving to Southern Maine, Michaud began looking for teaching positions in York and Cumberland counties. There was one school that caught her attention.

“As I was looking to relocate, I noticed an opening at WHS, and, having heard good things about the school, I applied and got a job as a science teacher,” she said. “Although it was a one-year position, the school seemed the right fit for me, so I took the job.”

Her one-year position teaching subjects such as biology, environmental science, earth and space science, and APEX (Alternative Program for Excellence) science programming turned into a full-time job. In 2018, after just four years of teaching science at WHS, Michaud stepped into her current role as one of the school’s assistant principals.

Since her arrival on the WHS campus, there is so much she enjoys about her job, and she has difficulty

pointing out just one thing she loves. But if pressed, Michaud would share two things. One is the positive relationships she witnesses between students and staff, and the second is watching students flourish in their own ways.

“I really love watching the collaboration and fun interactions that happen between the students and staff, and that occurs more than some might think,” she said. “A very close second part of what I love about my job is watching students flourish, grow, and become student leaders by learning to express their authentic voice and challenging themselves to discover what success means to them.”

There are a few challenges that come with any job, and there is no exception for the role of assistant principal. “Finding that balance between maintaining expectations and supporting students while they face their own challenges is by far one of the most difficult parts of my job.”

But the good outweighs any challenges she might face and that includes constant opportunities for growth. Michaud says she never stops learning and continually discovers something new in her role as a WHS administrator.

“I have learned that I should always take the time to listen to students and staff to understand their perspective and what they need the most to help them succeed,” she said. “If you take the time to really listen, you discover there are deeper concerns that are the cause of the issue. From that understanding and knowledge, I can meet their needs and support them in the best way possible.”

She has also learned that it takes a team to provide the best education for students.

“I am very lucky to be among a great administrative and teaching staff who are always there to support me and choose to work with me as a team. Without this team spirit, I would not be the assistant principal I aspire to be, and that is the educator my family taught me to be, to facilitate and support students to succeed and follow the paths of their dreams,” she said.<

Geology an essential factor in Lakes Region life

By Abby Wilson

Sebago Lake has a measured water depth of 316 feet, making it the deepest water body in the state of Maine. With a water depth 49 feet below sea level, why is this lake so deep?

As a large sheet of ice retreated northwest across Maine
during the Ice Age about 15,000 years ago, it left behind the
basin which created Sebago Lake, the deepest water body in
the state of Maine. COURYESY OF MAINE 
Dr. Lindsay Spigel, a Senior Geologist at the Maine Geological Survey, says that preexisting valleys in the Lakes Region were accentuated by glacial erosion and created the lake basin we see today.

At the end of the last Ice Age (about 15,000 years ago), the large ice sheet retreated northwest. The ice sheet weighed so much, it depressed the earth’s surface, Spigel said. The land surface was lower than it is today, so the ocean covered parts of southern Maine.

All of the meltwater from the glaciers contained sediments and ground-up rocks. As the meltwater flowed into the glacial sea, the sediments were deposited to form a delta which dammed the southern side of the Sebago basin, making it impossible for the water to keep traveling south. A large lake then formed behind the dam.

Proximity to the glacial sea and composition of the rock are two factors for high versus low topography, Spigel said.

Different types of rock have varied resistance to erosion. Areas that were once under the glacial sea tend to have subdued topography because the bedrock is covered by thick ocean sediments. The muddy and sandy deposits we see now were once deltas, beaches, or the sea floor.

Many areas of Maine are underlain by granite, which is an igneous rock and can be more easily eroded.

Hacker’s Hill is a popular place in the Sebago Lake area to view the sunrise or sunset. It stands 300 feet above the surrounding landscape, allowing visitors to view many lakes such as Sebago and the White Mountains.

This hill is composed of Sebago granite which underlies large expanse of land in Southwestern Maine. Hacker’s Hill also has metamorphic rocks which would not have been easily eroded by glacial activity.

The Maine Geological Survey has dated the granite back to 296 million years ago using radiometric

techniques. This suggests that Hacker’s Hill was created during the final stages of the Appalachian Mountain formation.

Pleasant Mountain, another tall peak in the Sebago Lake Area “is something different in a sea of granite,” says Spigel. Similar to Hacker’s Hill, this landscape formed as a mountain because its rock composition was more resistant to erosion.

These geological aspects affect more than just topography and landscape. Spigel says that water quantity and quality are also dependent on the local geology.

Arsenic and radon in water can be common due to the type of bedrock that a well is in.

Areas where the retreating glaciers deposited sand and gravel are excellent sources of water. The Portland Water District uses Sebago Lake as its main water source, but it also has pumps in sand and gravel deposits called eskers in case the lake water is compromised.

Sandy glacial meltwater deposits are also known as excellent farmlands today. These areas are much easier to farm than rocky glacial till that was dumped off by glaciers.

Geologists know what the landscape was like millions of years before us and how that impacts what it’s like today. How do they know this?

“Hundreds of years of observation” says Spigel. People started studying the geology of Maine in the early to mid-1800s.

Marine seashells were found way above modern sea level, so scientists started to ask questions and eventually they were able to determine the ages of rocks and other deposits and got a much bigger picture.

George Stone wrote important publications in 1899 about glacial deposits in Maine. There were no geological maps yet, but he understood that there was once a glacial sea by observing different glacial deposits.

The last big mapping effort to create the state geologic maps occurred in the 1970s-1980s. Now, the Maine Geological Survey is working to provide more detailed maps which can be used for environmental monitoring and land use planning.

Spigel has researched the Sebago Lake area during her time with the Maine Geological Survey. About 12,000 years ago, there was a huge landslide. Spigel figured this out by radiocarbon-dating the trees that were killed by the landslide.

After the Ice Age everything was shifting and the earth would have been in a state of imbalance, causing earthquakes and landslides.

This landslide took place on what is today the Sebago Lake Land Reserve in Standish. This property is owned by the Portland Water District and is open to the public for recreation.

Walking on this property, visitors will notice the dramatic contrast is elevation, especially between Bobcat Trail and Horsetail Trail, a direct result of the landslide.

This stark difference in elevation leads to contrast in plant communities. Ponds, streams, and wetlands are found at the bottom of slope, formed by depressions in the landslide deposit.

To explore this fascinating geology and ecology, you can visit the Sebago Lake Land Reserve daily, dawn to dusk. <

TIP hosting training event for new interested volunteers

By Masha Yurkevich

Life happens to all of us; a crisis where we need help, a situation in which we need a lending hand. The TIP (Trauma Intervention Program) and the TIP volunteers are there for those who need it, providing immediate emotional and practical support to survivors of a tragedy.

The Trauma Intervention Program and TIP volunteers are
there for those who need it, providing immediate emotional
and practical support to survivors of a tragedy.
It all started when TIP founder, Wayne Fortin, was working in County Mental Health and realized that many people suffered what was called a "second injury" when a family member or friend died or was injured. Meaning that they often did not receive the immediate care, information and assistance that they needed when experiencing a tragedy. Daily, firefighters, EMTs, and police officers would have to leave survivors of tragedy to fend for themselves during the worst hours of their lives.

This is not the fault of the emergency responders as they must get back into service, and they don't have the time to provide the time-consuming service which shocked survivors need. Thus, TIP was founded by Wayne Fortin to solve this problem.

Pam Grant is the Director of TIP Greater Portland and has been since March 2022 and this February, TIP will be hosting a training academy for anyone that would like to become a volunteer for the program. Training begins Feb. 1 and runs for eight days.

During the week, the classes are in the evening and on the weekend during the day. The Training academy will be held at the Westbrook Public Safety Building training room at 570 Main St. Westbrook.

“All who are interested can contact me at pam@tipgreaterportland.org or go on our website tipgreaterportland.org and put in an application,” says Grant.

The requirements to join include successful completion of all of the scheduled training dates as well as:

· * Fingerprint & Background Check through TIP

· * Valid Driver’s License and Vehicle

· * Clean Driving Record

· * Proof of Auto Insurance

· * Proof of Covid Vaccination

· * Cell Phone (with texting)

· * Internet and Email Access

· * Three 12-hour shifts per month

· * Attend Mandatory Continuing Education

· * Meeting on the second Tuesday of each month

“TIP Volunteers are called by law enforcement and medical and hospital personnel to respond to scenes of sudden or unexpected death, industrial accidents, sexual assaults, overdoses, violent crimes and other traumatic incidents,” says Grant. “Volunteers on duty are dispatched through the 911 system or hospital ER staff. Our volunteers support nine communities, Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Scarborough, Falmouth, Gorham, Windham and Cumberland. When you are on call, you may have to travel to one of these towns or Maine Medical Center.”

TIP’s specially trained volunteers provide emotional first aid and practical support to survivors of traumatic events and their families in the first few hours following a tragedy. Trained, skilled TIP responders are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

They are often called upon by police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and hospital personnel to assist family members and friends following a natural or unexpected death; survivors of violent crime including rape, assault, robbery, or burglary; survivors of fire; disoriented or lonely elderly persons; people involved in motor vehicle accidents; people who are distraught and seeking immediate support; and those whose loved one has died by suicide or overdose.

A major reason for the TIP Program is to prevent what mental health professionals call the “Second Injury.” The Second Injury is a survivor’s perspective that the emergency system did not provide the support needed after a tragic event. Emergency personnel simply do not have the time to provide this support.

In Greater Portland, they call TIP Volunteers who can prevent a second injury. In parts of the county which do not have a TIP Program, second injuries reported by survivors are common.

Three Examples of Second Injuries
An elderly gentleman, whose wife was hit and killed in a crosswalk, was not informed why she was left in the street for hours. To this day, the husband is still angry at “the system.”
After a young man killed himself, his family was left to clean the bloody scene on their own. To this day, they wonder “why didn’t anyone help us with this awful task?”
After a mother of four died in an emergency department, her family felt pressed by busy hospital staff into choosing a mortuary. To this day, the family regrets the hurried decision they made.

These are just a sample of the terrible things that can happen to survivors in the aftermath of a tragic event. One of TIP’s main goals is to help prevent these second injuries from happening. TIP volunteers are trained to step in to work with staff and responders. For example, survivors are given information as to how to contact crime scene cleanup companies and other community services. TIP volunteers also help protect survivors against well-meaning friends who mistakenly say the wrong things.<

January 13, 2023

Pageant winner shares hunger message with Manchester School students

By Ed Pierce

Maine resident and Mrs. Worldwide 2022 Misty Lee Coolidge believes everyone can help solve the problem of food insecurity, and on Jan. 5 she shared her message of hope with fourth-grade students at Manchester School in Windham.

Students in fourth grade at Manchester School in Windham
learned more about hunger and food insecurity during a 
presentation by Mrs.Worldwide2002, Misty Coolidge of
Maine. It was part of a block of instruction for students
focusing on hunger issues in the community.
Coolidge has dedicated her adult life to fighting hunger and addressing food insecurity following her childhood experience of relying on food stamps and the Maine-based WIC program. In speaking about food insecurity and hunger at the school, she read excerpts to students from the book “We All Stir The Pot: To End Hunger” that she co-authored with Bobbie Bensur.

Her appearance at Manchester School was part of a hunger unit offered this week with lessons in six different classrooms focused on teaching students about equity, scarcity, needs and wants, available resources and food insecurity.

“We invited Misty to show students that hunger is all around us and many are and have been affected by hunger insecurity,” said Melissa Azzaratta, a Manchester School fourth-grade teacher. “Misty has a wonderful children’s book that illustrates hunger through the eyes of a child that is very relatable to many children. We want students to know that there are many resources available to them and different ways they can help fight hunger.”

Azzaratta said teachers also wanted those who are faced with hunger and food insecurity to know that they are not alone.

“Misty’s book has really opened up the students’ eyes to see that hunger affects so many people,” she said. “The students were so excited after and had so much energy and ideas on what they can do to help.”

Two students in Stacey Sanborn’s fourth-grade class said that Coolidge’s presentation inspired them to learn more about hunger issues affecting Maine children and families.

Harrison Eskilson said that it is important to learn about food insecurity because local families need our help resolving hunger issues.

“This will raise awareness and some people might do something to help," he said.

Nala Nsengiyumva said that she "learned that not everyone has food, so we shouldn't waste food."

Coolidge, who lives in New Gloucester, said that her book explores the interconnectivity of all people, centered around our common need for sustenance.

“My hope in creating this book is to open up the dialogue between parents and children,” she said. “It’s a dialogue about where food comes from, the overwhelming cost of feeding a family, and the benefits of community service and giving back. We all stir the pot even though we don’t realize we’re holding a spoon.”

Some of Azzaratta’s students said that Coolidge’s visit to their school was meaningful and gave them plenty to think about.

“I learned that not everyone has the same food access as you,” said Abigail Baltos.

Her classmate, Colton Kalakowsky, said the significance of Coolidge’s presentation will resonate with students.

“This visit was important because there are so many hungry people and we need to help them,” Kalakowsky said.

Connor Wade said that he learned there should not be a stigma associated with food insecurity.

“You do not need to be ashamed if you’re in need of food,” he said.

As Mrs. Worldwide 2022 and formerly as Mrs. USA 2021, Misty travels around the country to help at local food banks through her #crushinghunger initiative in which she plans to volunteer across all 50 states. Even before she was involved in pageantry, Coolidge’s passion for fighting hunger has been evident for more than two decades in every community that she’s lived in, from Bangor to Portland, and through her volunteer efforts on behalf of the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

Her mission is personal, having grown up in a household in Maine with a single mom who worked three jobs to put food on the table and relied upon food stamps and the WIC program to survive. She told students that food insecurity is greater now than when she grew up.

“So many families are feeling the results of losing jobs, the cost of gas and groceries, and struggling to pay their utility bills. The numbers I’ve seen across the country in my travels are astounding and heart breaking,” Coolidge said. “Having little ones at home myself, I cannot imagine not being able to give them the food they need. There are people visiting food banks now that have never needed to use their services before. People need to know that there is help available and it's ok to get help."

She was born in Waterville, grew up in Norridgewock and went to Skowhegan Area High School. After graduation, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Pre-Law and was planning to attend law school after college but became a paralegal instead, working as an intellectual property paralegal at Preti Flaherty for seven years and then as a real estate paralegal for Dead River Company for 15 years.

Coolidge now helps run the Coolidge Family Farm in New Gloucester and Coolidge Chapel in Gray. In 2021, Maine’s Good Shepherd Food Bank created an Ambassadorship program and made Coolidge their very first Ambassador.

Azzaratta thanked Coolidge for her visit to the school and said she expects Manchester School students to get more involved in alleviating food insecurity in the community because of her presentation.

“We are really excited to continue this hunger unit to open up some really rich discussions and give students the opportunity to help,” she said. <

Diamond forms foundation to help stop child homicides

By Ed Pierce

Those who thought former State Senator Bill Diamond of Windham would spend his retirement in a rocking chair are mistaken. Diamond, who completed his 10th term in the Maine Senate last month and was term-limited, has enjoyed an exemplary career in public service and has turned his sights now to protecting children in the state.

Former State Senator Bill Diamond of Windham, has created 
the 'Walk a Miles in Their Shoes' nonprofit foundation to
help prevent child homicide in Maine. FILE PHOTO 
He’s created a nonprofit foundation called “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes,” which is duly filed with the Maine Secretary of State and supported and guided by an advisory board consisting of experts in the field of child protection and child welfare.

According to Diamond, the new foundation will help prevent of child homicides and the abuse of children who are under the supervision or direct care of the State of Maine or who are or have been associated with the state’s Child Protective System.

“Children associated with state care have been dying at record levels, in fact, as recently as 2021 a record number of children died, many were victims of child homicides,” Diamond said. “The chilling question is: How many more children must die before we make meaningful changes?”

Diamond said he was first made aware of the issues affecting child homicide in Maine and the state’s child protection system in 2001.

“The problem has continued to persist over the past 22 years under four different gubernatorial administrations, Independent, Republican, and Democrat,” he said. “The problems are not partisan based. They are the concern of all of us. This is the most important thing I’ve ever been able to do, nothing comes close.”

To learn more about the issue, Diamond said he’s attended many child-homicide trials and sentencings over the past years and each time he does, he’s made aware of the gruesome and sad details of an abused child dying needlessly.

“Each time the fact is reinforced that we have the capabilities to fix our broken child protection system, all we need is the will to do it,” he said. “Hence the reason for creating this foundation.”

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

To create and launch this new initiative, Diamond has committed $25,000 of his own money to provide the support necessary to get the foundation functioning without delay.

He’s also assembled a distinguished advisory board for the foundation including former Maine Gov. John Baldacci; former Maine Assistant Attorney General Lou Ann Clifford; former Maine Attorney General Mike Carpenter; Dr. Amanda Brownell, a pediatric physician and Medical Director of the Spurwink Center for Safe and Healthy Families; former State Senator and State Representative Joyce Maker; and the former Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and a national advisor on child safety, Michael Petit.

“It’s time we committed ourselves as citizens, government agencies, legislators, and media to ending these needless child deaths. Too many children keep dying and nothing seems to change,” Diamond said.

One of the purposes of the foundation will be to bring people from a variety of interests and backgrounds together to develop meaningful strategies for positive changes to protect our children who are the innocent victims of a broken system, he said.

“We will organize public forums, seek information and solutions from frontline partners such as caseworkers, foster parents, childcare providers, educators, law enforcement, and adoption parents and families,” Diamond said. “It’s the intent of this foundation to work with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Child and Family Services in a joint effort to improve the state’s child safety policies and practices. Together we can make a difference.” <

WMS production of ‘Descendants: The Musical’ promises thrills

By Masha Yurkevich

Imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost – home of the most infamous villains who ever lived – the teenage children of Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Jafar, and Cruella De Vil have never ventured off the island, until now. When the four troublemakers are sent to attend prep school alongside the children of beloved Disney heroes, they have a difficult choice to make: should they follow in their parents’ wicked footsteps or learn to be good?

Members of the Windham Middle School Drama Club are
staging 'Descendants: The Musical' from Jan. 13 through
Jan. 22 at the Windham High School Performing Arts
Center in Windham. SUBMITTED PHOTO
For a happy ending or a tragic finish, all are invited to the Windham Middle School production of “Descendants: The Musical” on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays Jan. 13 through Jan. 23 at Windham High School. Shows on Jan. 13 and Jan. 20 will be at 7 p.m. Shows on Jan. 14 and Jan. 21 will be offered at 2 and 7 p.m. Showtimes for Jan. 15 and Jan. 22 are 2 p.m. There will also be an ASL- interpreted show on Jan. 20.

April Monte will be the director as well as the choreographer for this show.

“It's my first time directing the middle school show,” she says, “but I have been choreographing it for the last six years.”

Monte develops the concept for the entire show — acting, singing, dancing, costume, set, and light design — as well as teaches the performers and backstage crew how to do it.

“Almost 50 Windham Middle school students and Windham High School volunteers have worked together to produce a full 90-minute musical based on the popular Disney film of the same name,” says Monte.

As you may expect, “Descendants: The Musical” contains all the fun and flash that the movie includes while high energy numbers, crazy costumes and hair, a little love story, memorable tunes, and “villains” abound.

While these are necessary components of a successful show it is not what truly drew this show to Monte’s attention for her first full Windham Middle School Production as the director.

“For me, the most important thing is the underlying message of unity and self-discovery. In a growingly contradictive world, especially for adolescents on social media, we are constantly pressured to choose sides,” says Monte. “All the characters in this show’s journey are focused on creating an expressive environment, opening one’s own perspective, and in the end finding a common ground even though your values may be different.”

Monte says she absolutely loves doing what she does.

“I love teaching what I have loved to do for so long and love seeing a new generation of performing artists emerge,” she says. “It is stressful at times to keep track of all that is going on in various aspects of the production, but I have amazing parent and student volunteers to help me out.”

For Monte, seeing a young person discover their own talent, creativity, and confidence is her favorite part of what she does.

“I feel like even if they don't want to become professional performers, the creative/ confidence-boosting experience, truly helps in all aspects of life.”

Ticket prices are $12 for students and seniors and $14 for adults and are available at the door. <

Pringle to serve on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee

AUGUSTA – State Rep. Jane Pringle, a Democrat from Windham, will serve as a member of the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee in the 131st Maine Legislature.

State Rep. Jane Pringle
“As a retired physician, I devoted my career to working hard to provide the best care and advocacy for my patients,” said Pringle. “I was pleased to learn that I was appointed to the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move forward bipartisan legislation that improves health outcomes and lowers the cost of health care.”

She said she’s humbled to represent Windham on the committee.

"Windham is a regional leader in business, conservation, and providing a work-life balance that long-term residents love, and new residents are drawn to. Our town’s ability to balance the need for industry, small business, farming, housing, and play, is unique. The ways our community comes together to help each other (our amazing food pantry, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, and so many more) demonstrate our ingenuity and resolve to make sure our community is healthy. I will work with our community leaders to support their work and ensure that the work done in Augusta reflects the values of Windham voters and supports our community."

Pringle previously served on the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee, formerly known as the Insurance and Financial Services Committee, as a member of the 126th Maine Legislature.

The committee oversees the Maine Bureau of Insurance and the Maine Health Data Organization, as well as policy related to state-regulated health insurance coverage, health and medical data, banking and financial institutions and securities.

The committee will begin its legislative work later this month. Public hearings and work sessions will take place in Augusta in the Cross Building, Room 220.

A complete list of legislative committees and their newly appointed members can be found at: http://legislature.maine.gov/house/house/Committees. <

January 6, 2023

In the public eye: WHS teacher shares valuable life skills lessons for student success

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

By Masha Yurkevich

The underlying purpose for students is to learn skills that will help them throughout their lives and Windham High School teacher Connor McNeill has taken that task to heart.

Windham High School's Connor
McNeill, right, teaches special
education and leads the Bridges
Program, which is a self-
contained functional life skills
program for WHS students.
For the past six years, McNeill, a special education teacher and case manager at the school, has led the Bridges Program at WHS, which is the self-contained functional life skills program for students.

He grew up in Portland and attended the University of Maine-Farmington, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education and Special Education. Prior to coming to Windham, McNeill served as a special education teacher at the Margaret Murphy Center for Children in Saco.

“I was looking to switch into public school and Windham stood out for their focus on inclusion and their exceptional facilities,” he said.

McNeill’s wife is also a teacher and he said that they both enjoy how their schedules match up. Their children are very young, and they enjoy getting to visit WHS and see the “big kids' school.”

As a special education teacher at WHS, McNeill is responsible for the creation and implementation of student’s Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). This means that McNeill provides students with specially designed instructions to meet their academic and functional goals. Also serving as a case manager at the school, he is responsible for coordinating with all members of student’s teams including parents, other teachers, and related service providers (speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and social work) to ensure that students have successful school experiences and are prepared for life after high school.

His duties as a case manager also include the responsibility for making sure that all legal requirements regarding special education paperwork are met and adhered to.

“People seem to be well aware that working with students with significant disabilities is challenging and requires a lot of patience,” says McNeill. “What they don’t seem to be as aware of is that this job is quite fun. I really enjoy working with my students in the community doing activities like swimming, grocery shopping, preparation for Special Olympics, and volunteering at the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals.”

Some may be surprised to know all the specific skills that are required to work in a life skills program.

“I am very fortunate to have some very good Ed Techs that work in my program and who are well versed in instructional techniques such as discrete trial teaching, task analysis, and a variety of prompt fading procedures that are difficult to implement with fidelity,” says McNeill. “They also need to have strong behavioral management, personal care, and data collection skills. I do not think they get enough credit for how hard it is to do their job.”

For McNeill, the most memorable moments he has spent at WHS have involved watching students graduate or participating in activities like Unified Basketball or Special Olympics where students really get to shine.

“The best part of my job has always been getting the opportunity to work very closely and build strong relationships with the students and families that I support,” says McNeill. “I am fortunate to maintain the same students on my caseload throughout their time at WHS. Having the opportunity to see them grow from their first day through graduation is extremely rewarding.”

McNeill says that the most challenging aspect of his job is prioritizing what needs to be done first.

“I am always trying to find a balance between managing day-to-day challenges and supporting my students while continuing to adhere to the legal requirements and timelines that are part of special education,” he says.

One of the biggest things that being at WHS has taught McNeill is the importance of inclusion.

“I think that the Windham community stands out for its support of people with disabilities. Windham High school has a Unified Club and Unified Basketball team which provide valuable opportunities for all students to be a part of something together,” he says. “There are also many local businesses that employ people with disabilities. No matter where we go either in the school or local community, I see people making an effort to include the students I work with.” < 

Windham community helps brighten holidays for seniors at Ledgewood

By Masha Yurkevich

The holiday season is merry and bright, but there are some for whom it may not be as merry and bright as it is for many of us. For the second year in a row, Missy Cushing of Windham had the idea to step up and volunteered to lead the Senior Holiday Giving for Ledgewood with others who helped her make the program a reality.

Missy Cushing of Windham, left, had the idea
to gather and deliver more than 250 gifts to
seniors at Ledgewood Manor in Windham 
during Christmas. She was joined in the effort
by many other local volunteers and Santa's
“My friends and I started this last year after hearing of the hardships nursing facilities and their staff had been facing with lack of contact and personal connection due to the pandemic,” said Cushing. “I was struggling to find Christmas spirit and the idea of organizing something to make Christmas bright for the seniors and the staff at Ledgewood got me excited about Christmas.”

When she first asked the administrator for permission to do this, he said that it would be wonderful. Cushing was told that there were some people who made gift baskets of goodies but not individual presents of the seniors ' wishes.

This initially inspired Cushing to pull together donations for basic needs we agreed each senior had including new blankets, warm socks, and a picture frame for each senior. She posted some information on her Facebook page and family and friends instantly rose to the occasion and within 24 hours those needs were met.

This inspired Cushing to ask the activities coordinator at Ledgewood for an individual list of wishes from each senior, and to put together something for staff.

“I got the list and put out another post with the updated request and each senior's wishes,” said Cushing. “Again, my request was met with kindness and generosity by those who saw and reacted to the post, and a few friends offered to help me.”

Jen Stover and her daughter, Claire, as well as Della Jordan, who are Windham residents, and a few others formed the first group of helpers for a super successful senior holiday giving and together they accomplished gathering gifts from the wish list for each senior, and for each staff member.

In 2021, they gave over 30 seniors' gifts from their wish list along with over 30 blankets, pairs of socks, and a picture frame. The wish givers went above and beyond and Cushing estimates that they brought over 250 gifts to Ledgewood for 2021, to include either a new water bottle or travel mug for each of the about 50 staff members.

With all the helpers coming together, they coordinated, wrapped, and delivered the gifts to Ledgewood with Cushing's partner, Clem Bolduc, dressed as Santa Claus.

When Cushing reached out again this year, asking if they could do the same, Ledgewood administrators were enthusiastic and responsive and connected her again with their activity's director.

“I was a little worried this year as things have gotten more expensive and didn't know how well we'd do with responses in comparison with last year,” says Cushing. “I again reached out to family and friends, and there were some from last year who excitedly stepped right up, such as Laura Ingalls, a Windham resident. Within 24 hours of posting on my personal Facebook page, we had about a third of the seniors’ wish list spoken for.”

At that point, Cushing decided to put it out to the Windham community in general and had a lot of responses. This allowed for requests for blankets for each senior, as well as money donation for staff gifts, and offered to help with wrapping, picking up or dropping off gifts, and ideas for staff gifts.

“Together, we obtained all those things and with the $200 that our little group raised for staff gifts solely, we obtained 36 blankets in addition to having each of the 36 individual seniors' wishes granted by our amazing Windham community. We were certainly feeling the Christmas spirit and the excitement of giving, and this will be the motivation to keep this going, that spirit of giving,” says Cushing.

She said that she is humbled and awed by not only the willingness of the caring group of folks who helped last year and this year, but the support from the community was amazing.

“We had to turn people away. Windham is a big community but at its core so tightly knit and caring,” says Cushing.

According to Cushing, the reaction of the seniors when the gifts were presented was priceless.

“We heard comments from the staff about seniors who hadn't been verbal, laughing or making excited noises they rarely hear when Santa brought them their gifts,” says Cushing. “A few seniors teared up last year, with big smiles, and I saw for some a sense of perhaps relief as they opened requested basic hygiene products such as body wash or shampoo.”

Cushing’s heart swells every time she hears stories from staff members, and she is in awe at how very caring total strangers were executing their wish granted.

This year, 2022, they delivered well over 250 gifts. Blankets were a big request, as well as books, warm sweaters and other clothes and many other things.

“I am blessed for having the privilege of connecting with all these generous people,” says Cushing.<

JSMS students earn recognition for Stock Market Game success

It’s more recognition for the ability of Raymond students to invest wisely as the SIFMA Foundation has announced the winners of the Fall 2022 Stock Market Game competition in Maine.

The top two teams with the highest portfolio value, along with their teachers and schools, were honored in the elementary, middle school and high school categories.

Students at Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond were honored with first- and second-place awards in the Elementary School category and first place in the Middle School category for the fall time period.

Participating students in the Stock Market Game learn first-hand the value of long-term investing via an online educational program used by Maine teachers to boost students’ math, economics, and personal finance knowledge, while also improving their test scores and instilling essential skills for financially independent futures.

Playing individually or in teams of up to five, students use a simulation with an imaginary investment of $100,000 to trade stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.

The students conduct research and follow global news that can impact financial markets, then place trades in real-time via computer or the SMG smartphone app, competing with peers in their classroom and with teams across the state to increase their portfolio value. In addition, students can choose socially responsible investments by selecting companies in alignment with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

They also compete with peers in their classroom and with teams of other students in schools across the state to increase their portfolio value.

The Stock Market Game™ curricula, lessons, and hands-on student activities combine content knowledge, critical thinking, research and analytical skills in a state-of-the-art real-world simulation. The online Teacher Support Center offers teachers a rich resource of over 1,000 lesson plans that reinforce Maine teaching standards, STEM students enhance their knowledge in core curriculum subjects including math, language arts, economics, and social studies. They also develop life skills such as financial preparedness, teamwork, and business knowledge.

Under the direction of JSMS teacher Jack Fitch, Jordan-Small students are perennial winners in the Stock Market Game competition and are now working on continuing their success in spring competition for the 2022-2023 school year.

About the SIFMA Foundation for Investor Education

The SIFMA Foundation is dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of the financial markets for individuals of all backgrounds, with a focus on youth. Drawing on the involvement and expertise of educators and the financial industry, the SIFMA Foundation provides financial education programs and tools that strengthen economic opportunities across communities and increase individuals’ access to the benefits of the global marketplace. Notable Foundation programs include The Stock Market Game™, which has enabled more than 20 million students to become financially prepared for life, the InvestWrite® national essay competition, the Capitol Hill Challenge™, and Invest It Forward®.


SIFMA is the leading trade association for broker-dealers, investment banks and asset managers operating in the U.S. and global capital markets. On behalf of the investment industry’s nearly 1 million employees, SIFMA advocates for legislation, regulation and business policy, affecting retail and institutional investors, equity and fixed income markets and related products and services. We serve as an industry coordinating body to promote fair and orderly markets, informed regulatory compliance, and efficient market operations and resiliency. It also provides a forum for industry policy and professional development. SIFMA, with offices in New York and Washington, D.C., is the U.S. regional member of the Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA).

For more information, visit www.sifma.org. <

Windham officer completes Maine law enforcement training program

A police officer from Windham is one of 62 cadets who graduated from the Basic Law Enforcement Training Program at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro on Dec. 16.
Windham Police Officer Sam
Pattee completed Basic Law
Enforcement Training at the
Maine Criminal Justice
Academy in December.

Windham Officer Sam Pattee completed the training program and was selected to lead the class in reciting the Law Enforcement oath of ethics to conclude the ceremony for the cadets. He is a 2014 graduate of Windham High School where he starred as a member of the varsity football and baseball teams for the Eagles.

The 18-week intensive residential training program teaches and trains cadets to deal with the rigors of a law enforcement career. Pattee's class opened in August with 70 cadets, and 62 of them completed the program, including nine female cadets.

The academy trains officers to help fill the growing gap in recruitment and retention issues that are plaguing the law enforcement profession in Maine and across the country, according to a press release from the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Pattee joined the Windham Police Department in January 2021 and has completed a year of military deployment as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve since joining the force. <

Raymond author’s book remains popular with Maine residents

By Ed Pierce

A Raymond author continues to be amazed at the success of her book about growing up with 10 siblings in a reportedly haunted apartment building in Portland.

Raymond author Cheryl Blanchard's
book '236 Cumberland Ave. Portland, 
Maine: Strange Happenings in our
Young Lives' remains popular with
Maine readers more than three years
after its publication.

Cheryl Blanchard’s book "236 Cumberland Ave. Portland, Maine: Strange Happenings in our Young Lives," is a thorough recounting of tales from the author and her siblings' recollections that haven't been spoken of for more than half a century. Published by Newman Springs Publishing, the book remains popular more than three years after it was first published, and especially among Maine residents.

"There are such a lot of memories for a small child at the age of 6, along with five brothers and five sisters who were also very young,” Blanchard said. “All of those memories are still living in the minds of all of us. We haven't talked about them in over 50 years. I would like to thank the Maine historian Herb Adams for asking me about the house up over Botto's Market that I lived in as a child."

In the book, Blanchard describes how she and her siblings would suddenly catch glimpses of silhouettes and shadowy figures looming on walls in their home without a human nearby to cast the silhouette or shadow. She also discusses in detail finding a tunnel underneath the building she lived in, and many frightful memories associated with that.

Blanchard’s family eventually moved away from the building and the trauma and bad memories she and her siblings experienced living there. The entire block has been demolished since the family moved from there in the early 1970s.

A few years ago, one of her friends asked Blanchard to share some of her memories about growing up there and that led to the creation of "236 Cumberland Ave. Portland, Maine: Strange Happenings in our Young Lives.”

Once her book was published, Blanchard was interviewed on the Maine television show “207” and she also received a personal note from renowned Maine resident and author Stephen King, who is a master of telling “haunted” stories. In 2019, she was a guest of book groups that met at public libraries in Augusta and in Windham to discuss her book.

Despite being subjected to what she calls “paranormal occurrences” while growing up on Cumberland Avenue in Portland decades ago, Blanchard has gone on to lead a happy, productive and normal life otherwise.

Married, and a mother and a grandmother, Blanchard is retired from a career in the nursing field. Many in the community know her from her time serving as a substitute teacher in Windham schools or for creating the first cheerleading squad for Windham Youth Football.

Published by Newman Springs Publishing, Blanchard's lively tales in the book are peppered with vivid descriptions of the historic district of her childhood and photos. Blanchard recalls everything from the smell of her mother's home cooking on the wood stove, to the numerous accounts of unexplained supernatural phenomena that the children experienced in their apartment over Botto's Market.

The stories contained in “"236 Cumberland Ave. Portland, Maine: Strange Happenings in our Young Lives" serve as a primary document that offers a glimpse into life in a bygone era. Blanchard remains humble and appreciative that people find the book interesting and has a simple message to readers.

“Just remember how truly blessed we truly are and I hope you hold your loved ones, always reach out and feed the hungry and clothe the less fortunate,” Blanchard said.

Blanchard’s book "236 Cumberland Ave. Portland, Maine: Strange Happenings in our Young Lives" is available for purchase at select bookstores in Maine, or online at the Apple iBooks Store, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. Copies may also be purchased by contacting Blanchard at