March 31, 2023

In the public eye: Rossetti develops community leaders of tomorrow

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

By Ed Pierce

In a way, leadership is really about unlocking someone’s potential to become better, and that’s something Phil Rossetti practices every day at his workplace.

Phil Rossetti has worked as either a teacher, coach or
administrator at Windham High School for 26 years.
He is currently serving as an assistant principal and was
honored in 2002 as Maine's 'Assistant Principal of
the Year' and he was a finalist for the National
Assistant Principal of the Year. FILE PHOTO  
Rossetti has served as the Assistant Principal at Windham High School for the past seven years and has been associated with Windham High School as either a teacher or a school administrator for 26 years. His experience in teaching, coaching and leadership is exemplary and led to his recognition as 2022 Maine Assistant Principal of the Year and he was a finalist for the National Assistant Principal of the Year Award last spring.

“Our job encompasses many things but mainly working with students and staff to ensure all parties are able to teach and learn effectively,” Rossetti said. “The best thing about my job is helping students find success in school. Not everyone's journey is the same and school can be challenging for folks to navigate. Building relationships and developing trust with students, staff and families has allowed us to create an inclusive environment where people feel safe and able to take healthy risks.”

He grew up in Casco and graduated from Lake Region High School before earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science Education from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire. Rossetti obtained a master’s degree in education leadership from St. Joseph’s College.

His first job in his educational career came as a Social Studies teacher at Windham High School in 1996. In 2015, he became the Assistant Principal of South Portland High School for a year before returning to Windham High School in 2016 and he continues to excel in that role as one of the school’s assistant principals. He’s also served as a football coach, girls’ basketball coach, and baseball coach.

According to Rossetti, the most challenging aspect of his work involves finding the support necessary to help students that are struggling socially, emotionally and with substances.

“There is a real lack of resources in our state, county and community for youth that need support,” he said.

From his perspective, Rossetti says some people think his position as a school administrator is all about one thing.

“The biggest misconception people may have about my work is all we do is discipline,” he said. “It is certainly a part of what we do, but it's a small percentage.”

In more than two decades of interacting with staff and students at Windham High School, Rossetti has accumulated many fond memories through the years, but several stand out over all the others.

“One that sticks out for me was winning the 2009 State championship in football. It was amazing to see all the neon shirts and most of the town of Windham on hand to watch the game, and it was truly a great moment for the community,” he said. “The other moment happens every June at graduation. The handshakes, hugs, tears, laughter, and Thank Yous as we celebrate each student’s journey to graduation is an incredible moment.”

The long hours at the school are worth it to Rossetti as he relishes his role in positively shaping community leaders for the future, and he says that his family understands how important his work as an educator is to him.

“They're proud of my dedication to the RSU, the students, and the staff I work alongside,” he said. “They like the schedule that allows us to still have quality family time during vacations and summer.”

Rossetti’s work with students doesn’t stop outside the front door to the school.

“I spend a lot of time working to include the community in our school and the school in our community,” he said. “I serve on the Board of Directors of Be the Influence; I am a member of the Third Thought Advisory board; I serve on the Substance Prevention Grant Committee for the Town of Windham; and I am an advocate locally, statewide and nationally for education supports as a former Maine Assistant Principal of the year and a National Finalist for Assistant Principal of the Year.”

He says the most important thing that he‘s learned while working for Windham High School is simple.

“RSU 14 works hard to support all students and seeks out multiple pathways for all students to find success,” Rossetti said. <

Windham Town Council begins calculating budget for coming year

By Ed Pierce

The formal process of formulating a budget for the year ahead has opened and members of the Windham Town Council were presented with preliminary figures at a meeting on Tuesday night.

The Windham Town Council has forwarded a preliminary
town budget for 2023-2024 to members of the Windham
Finance Committee and department heads for review and
potential revisions prior to a meeting to finalize items
and expenses in late April. Once the budget work is
complete, a warrant will be drafted for voters to approve
at the Annual Town Meeting in June.
Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told councilors that he is proposing an annual town budget for 2023-2024 of $40,418,346, up from the current 2022-2023 budget of $38,227,469. That amounts to a budget increase of 5.7 percent.

During a discussion with councilors, Tibbetts said his budget proposal is being calculated from many different factors and influences, including projected lower town revenues, fixed expenses and two planned personnel additions for the town.

Also weighing into the new budget proposal is the loss of $700,000 for the town by switching from the Pay As You Throw trash collection system to a new trash cart system this fall, about $400,000 less coming in from state revenue sharing, rising energy and healthcare costs, contractual obligations, long-term debt and new staff hires.

“We know some things when we look at a budget comparison from year to year,” Tibbetts said. “We’ll have about $400,000 less in revenue from a decline in state sales taxes. And in total we’re going to be down about $1.2 million in revenue for things beyond our control.”

Tibbetts said that the town’s Long-Term Debt includes expenses for projects that are offset by grant funding. Some of these projects include an expense of $2.052 million for reconfigured sidewalks along Route 202 in South Windham offset by a grant of $1.856 million, an expense of $625,000 for rebuilding the sidewalk on Route 302 at Boody’s Corner offset by a grant of $684,000, and an expense of $751,000 to reconfigure the intersection of River Road and Route 202 offset by a grant of $751,000. Short-Term Debt includes $551,000 set aside for heavy equipment and vehicle purchases including a plow truck, an ambulance, fire department vehicles, fire pumping equipment and training materials and placing $150,000 in an account reserved for future debt.

According to Tibbetts, Windham’s Legal Debt Limitation is 15 percent of State Valuation at $2,914,100,000 or $437,115,000.

“Overall, the Town’s current total indebtedness (town and schools) is $25,641,000, or .88 percent of the state valuation, so the margin for additional borrowing is $411,474,000,” Tibbetts said. “Bonding Agencies recommend that an average of 12 to 14 percent of the total operating budget as debt service is consistent to addressing infrastructure needs.”

He told the council that as far as debt goes, Windham is in a strong spot when it comes to borrowing in the future.

“Financially we’re in a really solid position and I wouldn’t be surprised if our bonding rate improves as a result of that,” Tibbetts said.

The Windham Police Department also plans to add a new school resource officer in the year ahead and the town will also hire a new Communications Director, he said.

The town’s TIF district funding will be basically flat for the coming year as that revenue is being used for significant infrastructure improvements planned for the future such as Route 302 access roads to alleviate traffic congestion in North Windham, the North Windham Wastewater Project, and the creation of the East Windham Conservation Project.

If the proposed budget is adopted by councilors, it will lead to an estimated tax increase of about $266.16 a year for a home valued at $400,000. That equates to an increase of slightly more than $22 per month, Tibbetts said.

The budget proposal will be reviewed and scrutinized over the next month by the town manager’s office and the Windham Finance Committee. Budget revisions will be presented to the town council at its April 25 meeting.

A public hearing and final budget approval by the Windham Town Council is expected to take place at the council’s May 9 meeting. Following that, a budget warrant will be drafted for voter approval at the Annual Town Meeting in June. <

Local firefighters to run in full gear in ‘Miles for Mills 5K’ race

Firefighters Charissa Kerr, a resident of Windham who serves with the Windham and Raymond Fire Departments, and Captain Mike Hughes of the Raymond Fire Department both ran in last year’s Miles for Mills 5K in full firefighter gear and they’re ready to do it again in 2023.

Firefighters Captain Mike Hughes of the Raymond Fire
Department, left, and Charissa Kerr, who serves with the
Windham and Raymond Fire Departments, join Maine
veteran Travis Mills after last year's Miles for Mills
Memorial Day 5K fundraiser in Brunswick. Both 
firefighters are preparing ti run again in this year's race 
in full firefighter gear to honor those who have died in
the service of our nation. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
This’s year’s Miles for Mills Memorial Day 5K, presented by New Balance Foundation, will be part of the 12th annual Miles for Mills Memorial Day Weekend and is scheduled for Sunday, May 28 at Brunswick Landing, the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. The race will begin at 9 and conclude at 11 a.m., with an after-event party at Flight Deck and Wild Oats in Brunswick.

Hughes is a U.S. Army veteran having served 24 years, ending his career as an instructor at United States Military Academy West Point. Both Kerr and Hughes say that they recognize the service of the men and women who have selflessly sacrificed their lives for the United States.

“For us, the Miles for Mills 5K is more of an event than a race,” Kerr said. “It’s a way for us to pay our respects to those who’ve gone before us and to honor the sacrifices they made.”

The Miles for Mills 5K race is not only an opportunity for the public to raise vital funds for the recalibrated veterans served by the Travis Mills Foundation, it’s also a chance to meet U.S. Army SSG (Ret.) Travis Mills and to learn more about his mission since losing his limbs in an IED accident while in service to our country.

“The Miles for Mills 5K helps to give our supporters a way to honor veterans and their families who have experienced life-changing injuries,” said Heather Hemphill, Travis Mills Foundation Executive Director. “Charissa Kerr and Capt. Michael Hughes are examples of true patriots who know what it’s like to serve a cause greater than themselves and we’re honored that they choose to take part in Miles for Mills.”

Last year when Kerr and Hughes ran in the Miles for Mills 5K, they gained attention from participants and spectators when they chose to participate in the event in full firefighter gear and paused to honor each of the memorials on the course of the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of America.

“It was incredible to see these firefighters running the Miles for Mills 5K not only in full gear – but more importantly to raise awareness for the Travis Mills Foundation,” said Mills.

Kerr and Hughes each have run in multiple other races and events to honor service members, including the Tunnels to Tower 5K, the Run for the Fallen and stair climbs in Boston.

For all of the events that the pair of firefighters participate in, they do so in full firefighter gear to help maintain the physical endurance and strength required of firefighters.

“Firefighting is a physically demanding job. This is one way we maintain the fitness necessary to be successful,” Hughes said. <

Windham students have opportunity to attend ‘DIRIGO State’ program

By Ed Pierce

Boys State and Girls State is a long running civics program in Maine designed for high school students and once again this year the program is being sponsored locally by American Legion Post 148 in Windham. Applications are now being accepted for students to attend the 2023 DIRIGO State program to be held in June at Colby College in Waterville.

Last year, Maine combined the traditional Boys State and Girls State programs into one coed program and provides students with a realistic approach to a real-life application of the political process in the state.

Delegates to DIRIGO State are immersed in political experiences aligned to the local, county and state’s political processes. The delegates to state run for political office and assume roles in advocating for legislative bills.

It is a comprehensive, experiential learning, youth leadership program modeled on the Maine State government, where all students come together to create their own town, county, and state governing bodies. The week-long program is intended to give students a well-rounded look at the political system in general and to foster and develop outstanding and informed citizens and leaders for the future of the nation.

The American Legion has redesigned and strengthened the program into a unique, and a first for the American Legion National Family, a combined youth government leadership program. The Maine American Legion believes that the union of Boys and Girls State will offer a better experience for all students and a more realistic simulation of Maine State government.

DIRIGO State, the merged National Boys State and Girls State programs, is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high school students.

Delegates learn the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county, and state governments and is operated by students elected to various offices, activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, and recreational programs.

The DIRIGO State program is open to all high school juniors and in Windham, the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 is looking for junior candidates from local public and private school or home-schooled students to participate. All individual expenses are paid by the American Legion Field-Allen 148 Post, as well as any local business, parents, the school, or another community-based organization that may like to sponsor participants.

The Windham American Legion Field-Allen Post will host an information session for interested juniors at Windham High School at 7:30 p.m. April 3 at the WHS Guidance Office.

Past DIRIGO State attendees will also be invited to the meeting to assist in answering questions.

For more information about the DIRIGO State program or application process, call American Legion Auxiliary President Pam Whynot at 207-892 4720 or by email at or contact Post 148 Commander Tom Theriault at 207-405 8218 or by email at

2023 DIRIGO State applications and further information can be downloaded and printed at: <

March 24, 2023

Sanborn earns national agriculture teaching award

By Ed Pierce

Manchester School fourth-grade teacher Stacey Sanborn thinks giving students a fundamental understanding about plants and gardening is important in a state reliant upon farming and agriculture and that belief has earned her a national award for her work.

Manchester School fourth-grade teacher
Stacey Sanborn is one of eight recipients
of the '2023 Excellence in Teaching
about Agriculture' national award
presented to teachers across America.
She has taught at Manchester School for the
last 19 years. COURTESY PHOTO
Sanborn is one of eight recipients of the 2023 “Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture” national award presented to teachers across America. The award is given annually to teachers who exhibit excellence in the innovative ways they use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and other subjects in Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and sponsored by the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and Farm Credit.

“National Agriculture in the Classroom is honored to recognize and celebrate these talented teachers for their innovative approach to teaching core academic concepts through the lens of food and agriculture,” said Katie Carpenter, president of NAITCO and director of New York Agriculture in the Classroom. “Their effort to provide authentic learning experiences for their students is critical to creating an agriculturally literate generation who understands and appreciates the source and value of agriculture in their daily lives.”

Carpenter said that Sanborn was chosen as one of the award recipients because she believes in the importance of access to fresh food for all and her dedication to gardening and local food access has led to her students providing produce for the Manchester School cafeteria and the Windham Food Pantry.

“Students are actively involved in all aspects of the garden, and food activities are integrated into her curricula year-round,” Carpenter said. “This year her reach has expanded to the whole school and local community with Agricultural Literacy Night and the Read ME Agriculture project in many classrooms in addition to her own.”

Manchester School Principal Danielle Donnini said Sanborn’s award is a source of pride for students and the community.

“This highly selective award is an excellent opportunity to recognize Stacey Sanborn's creative commitment to our learners, to agricultural education, and to our school community,” Donnini said. “We are looking forward to the resources and experiences that this award will provide for Stacey that we know she will bring back to our community.”

In 2022, Sanborn was honored for her work by the Maine Agriculture In The Classroom Award as its “Teacher of the Year” and for introducing children to the importance of food insecurity and how it affects the lives of others in the community.

She is in her 19th year of teaching at Manchester School and 24th year in her career and says she first developed an interest in the topic of food insecurity in high school while working on a 4-H project creating a Hunger Garden. That project was recognized by WCSH Channel 6 and resulted in her winning the television station’s “America’s Future Award” and it prompted her to want to become a teacher.

“I think it is important for my students to be agriculturally literate individuals. Meaning, that they need to have an understanding about where their food comes from; how and where it is being grown, and processed, and how it gets from the farm to their table,” Sanborn said. “I also think it is important for everyone to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. School and community gardens can help fight food insecurity in our country. By having my students be active in our school gardens, they are directly involved in service learning, something else I feel very strongly about, and fighting food insecurity locally.”

Sanborn earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of New Hampshire and went on to obtain a master’s degree in education from the University of Southern Maine.

Her agricultural lessons began at Manchester School when her students created a flower garden and they would make flower arrangements and give them to new staff members. Through the years, she’s expanded the program to the point it now includes 12 raised beds for vegetable gardens and a hoop house with three raised beds. The school campus also has six apple trees, three pear trees, and two different varieties of grapevines.

The students are actively involved in all facets of the gardening process at the school, from seed to harvest, and Sanborn said that she has been able to incorporate traditional reading, writing, and arithmetic lessons into the gardening program through various activities such as composting and soil experiments, pollination, maintaining detailed records, data collection, and harvest analysis among others. Sanborn has also been able to include a social studies aspect to the gardening and agriculture program as well.

“The pride and enjoyment that I see in my students when working in the school gardens or when engaged in authentic learning related to agriculture, encourages me to continue to expand my agricultural literacy program at Manchester School for my students and my colleagues,” Sanborn said.

Sanborn lives in Standish with her husband, David and has two adult sons, Nicholas and Colby.

“My family is very proud of my award. They know how committed I have been over the years to the school gardens and with integrating agriculture into my curriculum,” she said. “They are excited for me to have this recognition and the opportunity to attend a second National Agricultural In the Classroom Conference again this year, where I will officially receive my award.” <

Trip to State House inspires Windham JMG students

By Lorraine Glowczak

“No matter how difficult it seems, there is a pathway to success if only you believe in yourself and trust others who want the best for you,” is the message 25-year-old Alexander Buzzell of Windham, and a JMG graduate of Winthrop High School, shared with an audience of about 75 in the Hall of Flags at the State House on Thursday, March 16. Buzzell was among three JMG graduates and Opportunity Passport® participants from across the state who were honored in Augusta at a press release event for their recent personal and professional successes.

Thirteen Windham High School JMG students got to meet
former WHS student Alexander Buzzell at an event at
the State House in Augusta. The trip also included a tour
of the State House by Windham State Rep. Barbara Bagshaw
and a conversation with Raymond State Rep. Jess Fay.
Buzzell, who had been in the foster care system since he was 12, said that JMG provided the vehicle for his present accomplishments.

"When I first started my JMG classes, my social skills were non-existent,” he said. “But through the hands-on experiences and being part of the JMG Leadership Council, I was taught things such as how to advocate for myself, how to write a proper email, and how to implement oneself in the world of business, finance, and social connections.”

Briefly, JMG is a state-wide organization that partners with public education and private businesses to help students who face barriers to education, graduate high school and go on to pursue meaningful and fulfilling careers. Opportunity Passport® is a financial education and matched savings program that helps Maine youth who have been in foster care develop a general understanding of personal finances and goal setting.

Among those in the audience were 13 JMG Leadership Council students from Windham High School. They were inspired by Buzzell’s message and thrilled to be offered a tour of the State House by Windham State Rep. Barbara Bagshaw. The day also included a conversation with Raymond State Rep. Jess Fay.

“Last Thursday was something I've never experienced before,” WHS JMG Leadership Council student Gwen Rogers said. “The whole day was a great learning experience and I loved it. Alexander inspired me and I really could feel his emotion in his speech. It really helped me understand more about what JMG can do to help people in need. What I found most interesting was just his whole journey and how he came to be in his success.”

Rogers, who lives in Raymond, said that she was excited to be provided a tour of the State House by Bagshaw and enjoyed the opportunity to speak with Fay. “It was fun to learn about each other in just one conversation.”

Jen Dumont, one of WHS’ JMG Specialists, organized the field trip to the State House so her students could see leadership in action.

“The Leadership Council's mission is to advocate for those amongst our population who need a voice, help those in need, and make Windham High School a place where all students feel a sense of belonging and value,” she said. “The council is composed of juniors and seniors who have taken JMG for two or more years and have exhibited leadership skills. These students have the desire to make a positive impact in our school and community.”

Dumont explained that students who benefit most from JMG are those who may not feel a sense of belonging in the public education system. “There are many reasons for a student to be a part of JMG, but many have a motivating desire to pursue their dreams and goals beyond high school,” she said.

Buzzell reiterated Dumont’s explanation of JMG by adding his own experiences growing up and never feeling a sense of belonging or having a place to call his own.

“I grew up in a house with a mother who had a mental illness,” he said. “At 12 years old, it became apparent to the foster care system that I needed to be removed from my home and I bounced around from school to school, living in a couple of foster homes after that. I did not have a solid foundation.”

Buzzell said that by the age of 15, he had found a permanent home until he graduated from high school at the age of 18. He says he is grateful for that experience and to those who were there for him – especially during a challenging time while in college. This includes his Opportunity Passport® mentor, Randy Inosencio, and one member of his family.

“JMG, Opportunity Passport®, and my grandmother believed in me - saved me,” he said. “If I didn’t have their support, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Buzzell graduated from Southern New Hampshire University in August 2022 with a degree in Business Administration and a concentration on Project Management. He currently works as a Construction Superintendent for Nexamp, a national clean energy company based out of Boston.

When asked what advice he would offer JMG students today, he responded, “When there is a chance to inspire young people, do it. Always choose to be humble and kind in a world that needs both.”<

Windham Town Council receives update on sewer project

By Ed Pierce

Last spring Windham voters approved a proposal to develop and construct a new sewer system for the town and on Tuesday evening, town councilors received an update regarding progress being made on the project.

Windham voters approved a plan to create a sewer system 
for North Windham last year and the initial phase of the 
project is expected to be completed by January 1, 2026.
Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts briefed the council about what has happened since the project was initially proposed and where things stand with moving forward with costs, financing and options available for the town.

“The original cost was estimated at $40 million and we have obtained $40 million from the State Revolving Loan Fund,” Tibbetts said. “We selected an engineer for the project and NWH will be the installation contractor.”

He said that both the Portland Water District and the installation contractor have informed the town that they will be meeting prior to the Windham Town Council meeting on April 28 and will be able to give councilors a guaranteed price for project costs.

Tibbetts said everything that has been accomplished with the sewer project so far has been done to minimize any impact to the town’s tax rate.

“Overall I think we’ve made good progress and we’re waiting on the guaranteed prices,” he said. “We do not anticipate any tax increase associated with this project.”

According to Tibbetts, no residences in Windham will be required to hook up to the sewer system once the installation has been completed and it is operational, however, businesses near the sewer line will be required to join the system.

“Once hooked up, businesses will have a regular sewer bill,” Tibbetts said. “For everyone who wants to hook up to the system though, we’ll try and make it as easy as possible to connect.”

Most of the areas where the sewer lines will be installed will use low-pressure sewer, which Tibbetts said is more cost-effective.

“The low-pressure sewer is less expensive that the gravity type of system,” he said. “It will allow us to go greater distances and have smaller pumping stations and be able to use one vendor for those stations.”

Because of geography, the area near the new pumping station at Manchester School in North Windham will have to use a gravitational system, but most of the other areas will be able to use the lower-pressure sewer lines.

Councilors asked Tibbetts about how the upcoming construction of the new middle school in Windham would affect the new sewer system.

“Between the high school and the new middle school, they will add about 20,000 gallons a day and that will help lower costs for everybody on the system,” he said.

Tibbetts said additional phases for the project may still need up to $3 million in capital infrastructure funding, but believes that expense can be obtained either from an expanded tax base resulting from new development or through further grants to the town or by applying new bonding as existing town bonds expire.

The initial phase of the sewer project is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2025 with everything becoming fully functional by 2026. <

Annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner a success for American Legion

By Ed Pierce

The annual St. Patrick’s Day Dinner was held at the Windham Veterans Center on Saturday, March 18 and according to participants, it was a great success and afforded them an opportunity to meet old friends and enjoy a traditional Irish corned beef dinner with all the fixings.

Jerry Black, 94, left, and Carroll McDonald, 98, two of the
longest serving members of American Legion Field-Allen
Post 148, help cut the cake during the annual St. Patrick's
Day Dinner at the Windham Veterans Center on
Saturday, March 18. SUBMITTED PHOTO   
American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham uses the annual St. Patrick's Day dinner to recognize and celebrate the local legion and post anniversaries. This year the American Legion celebrated its 104th year of service in mid-March and the Field-Allen Post 148 observed its 85th year of service to veterans in the Windham community.

Windham’s American Legion Post was first chartered in 1938 by 24 local residents, and originally was called the Lt. Field Post after U.S. Army Lt. Charles W.W. Field, Windham’s first casualty of World War 1. He was killed in France leading a charge across a railroad bed against a German machine gun nest.

In 1950, the post was recharted as the Field-Allen Post to honor the memory of U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. James Allen, a cousin of Field who had been the first Windham resident killed in action during World War II. Allen had been an exceptional athlete and student at Windham High School and died during the American campaign against Japan in the Pacific Theater.

Post 148 Adjutant David Tanguay said that two of the post’s longtime members, World War II veteran Carroll McDonald, 98, and Korean War veteran Jerry Black, 94, attended the dinner and took part in the ceremonial cake-cutting event. The elaborate decorated cake was provided by Hannaford Supermarket in Windham.

The meal included corned beef and cabbage, ham, potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, and a variety of desserts.

Tanguay thanked the team of volunteers who worked preparing the meal for participants to enjoy.

“The traditional St. Patrick’s Day Dinner is an in-house prepared event covering approximately 10 hours of prep and cooking,” Tanguay said. “Thank you to all who made this happen.”

Legion members served the corned beef meals, and the event also included a special pie auction. Proceeds from the dinner will help the post sponsor local students attending this summer’s Dirigo State event and the ongoing care and maintenance for the Windham Veterans Center in North Windham.

“All in all, this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Dinner was a great Legion family and community event,” Tanguay said. <

March 17, 2023

In the public eye: Retiring ‘Foster Grammie’ leaves behind a legacy of love

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

By Ed Pierce

Nearly 48 years since she walked through the doors of Manchester School as a substitute food service worker, Pauline “Polly” Dyer has retired, leaving behind a legacy of love and a long career of service to countless children in Windham.

Pauline 'Polly' Dyer worked at Manchester
School in Windham for nearly 48 years
before retiring Feb. 25. As a cafeteria
manager and later a Foster Grandparent
at the school, she has positively touched
the lives of thousands of students through
Dyer’s last day at the school was Feb. 25 and she rose through the ranks from food service worker at Manchester School to serving 20 years as cafeteria manager, originally retiring from that position after 32 years in 2007, and then logging another 16 years as a “Foster Grammie” in classrooms at the school.

“I truly loved working as a ‘Foster Grammie’ because it helped me become closer to the students because I wasn’t a teacher or a professional,” Dyer said. “It’s been very hard to walk away. I enjoyed working there so much.”

Growing up in Harrison, Dyer had no desire to become a teacher and spent much of her time working with her mother, who operated a camp laundry service. She got married to her husband, Donald, a truck driver who worked for Merrill Transport in Portland.

To make it an easier commute for Donald to get to work, the couple moved to South Windham in 1967 and the following year started a family that included a daughter, Lisa, and a son, Donald, Jr. The family has grown to include two grandsons, although one has passed away, and two great-grandchildren.

When she heard that the Manchester School cafeteria needed a temporary sub, “Polly” applied and got the job and has never looked back. Her husband died in 2002 and even after retiring as cafeteria manager, she was so committed to the students that she agreed to return as a “Foster Grammie” for The Opportunity Alliance to help students and teachers in the classroom.

“Bill Diamond was actually my first principal at the school and there have been five or more since then,” Dyer said. “Bill was so nice to me and we all liked working for him. He’s a wonderful person.”

As a “Foster Grammie,” Dyer started working for a fifth-grade teacher who then retired, and she was reassigned to work with another fifth-grade teacher who also retired after a few years. She was reassigned again and paired with fourth-grade teacher Stacey Sanborn, who she has remained with for years.

Sanborn said by the time she retired “Grammie Polly” put in more than 10,000 hours of service to the school in that role.

“She has been an active member in the community,” Sanborn said. “Polly is known for her crafts and card making. She is very crafty and during the pandemic, she continued to support classroom needs and activities from home.”

Some of Sanborn’s students wrote Polly notes after she retired and expressed their admiration and gratitude for her work. Here’s a sampling of those notes:

“Grammie Polly was a nice person she helped us with math and other stuff. She gave us a good gift for Valentine’s Day too. Thank you, Grammie Polly.” Avery R.

“Grammie Polly help us make fun crafts and gave great valentine gifts plus she reminded us to zip up our bag.” Gavan

“All the crafts made me laugh and the good times were more than great with you. Thanks for everything and you will be missed and thanks for the gifts they are appreciated.” Libby

“I love Grammie Polly because she's always there when someone needs help. And she is so kind. And she reminded people to do stuff when we wouldn’t do it. And she gave us Valentines. So, that proves that she was so kind. She also helps us out with a lot of projects. And she gave us Christmas gifts.” Cam

For Dyer, the joy of being able to do something for children made her efforts worthwhile.

“It’s funny that for some of those students, they may not have their own actual grandparents,” she said. “I did my best to serve in that kind of role for them.”

Several experiences through the years stand out for her.

“A little girl in our classroom had been really upset about something the day before and the next day when I saw her I said to her ‘Grammie really need a hug today.” The little girl smiled, gave me a big hug and everything that had happened the day before was forgotten.”

Another time a little boy was crying because he had been told to put his stuffed animal away for a classroom lesson by the teacher.

“It was hard for him to part with that stuffed animal,” Dyer said. “I told him the stuffed animal could sit with me in the classroom and I could cover it with paper towels like he was taking a nap. That kid got the biggest smile, and it turned his whole day around. It’s always been fun to get them to smile.”

Now that she’s retired, Dyer said he hopes more people will volunteer to serve as “Foster Grandparents” in the schools for The Opportunity Alliance.

“I really enjoyed each and every day,” she said. “I hope other retired people volunteer with The Opportunity Alliance. The school needs it.”<

Windham Town Council appoints volunteers to positions


By Ed Pierce

Mahatma Gandhi believed that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others through volunteering.

The original Babb's Bridge from the 19th
century was destroyed by fire in 1973. A
replacement bridge was built in 1976. As
a result, the bridge is being removed from
the National Register of Historic Places.
To that end, two Windham residents have been appointed by the Windham Town Council to fill existing vacancies on town boards and for a town position during a council meeting on Feb. 24.

All of the appointments are voluntary positions.

Judy Vance was appointed by the council to serve as the Windham Registrar of Voters for a two-year term.

Vance is Windham’s deputy town clerk and has volunteered as the town’s Registrar of Voters since Dec. 12, 2002.

Under state law, municipal officers are required to appoint a Registrar of Voters for two-year terms and Vance was recommended for the appointment by Windham Town Clerk Linda Morrell.

“Judy has years of experience and has always done a wonderful job in this position,” Morrell said.

Shonn Moulton was appointed by councilors to serve on the Windham Planning Board for a one-year term.

Moulton is a real estate professional and is a former town councilor in Gorham.

Members of the Windham Appointments Committee interviewed Moulton on Jan. 24 and forwarded to the council a recommendation for this appointment. The Windham Land Use Ordinance stipulates that when there is a vacancy, town municipal officers shall appoint a person to serve the remainder of the unexpired term.

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

During the Feb. 24 council meeting, Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts also informed councilors that Babb’s Bridge is being removed from the National Register of Historic Places.

Tibbetts said his office had received a letter from Kirk Mohney of the Maine State Historic Preservation Office indicating that information recommending that the covered bridge over the Presumpscot River be removed from the list was being sent to Washington, D.C.

The original Babb’s Bridge was thought to have been built in 1843 and was the oldest covered bridge in Maine. It was first listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was originally named for a family living nearby.

However, a fire set by vandals in 1973 destroyed the bridge and it was subsequently rebuilt on the same site in 1976 as part of a community effort using donated construction materials and labor and featuring bridge techniques thought to been used in construction of the original Babb’s Bridge in the 19th century. <

WMS musicians fundraising to attend Great East Band and Orchestra Music Festival

By Jolene Bailey

Windham Middle School’s band and orchestra students have been diligently working hard to achieve their fundraising goal of $3,000 to help them participate in the Great East Band and Orchestra Music Festival in New Hampshire in June.

Windham Middle School musicians are currently
conducting the 'Rock Your Socks' campaign, selling
socks as a fundraiser to pay for a trip to the Great East
Band and Orchestra Festival in New Hampshire in June.
Funds raised will cover festival fees, transportation, and T-shirts for all the seventh- and eighth-grade WMS musicians.

Instructor Morgan Riley has been working in the Windham and Raymond schools for 16 years. She has additionally taught band, orchestra, chorus, and guitar to students at Jordan-Small Middle School, Windham Middle School, and Manchester School over the years.

“Students at WMS have attended this festival yearly minus pandemic years, since 2002. This is most certainly a tradition for WMS,” said Riley.

Students are selling a variety of 3-pair packs of socks, from plain to fun colorful patterns, ranging in children’s, women’s, and men’s sizes, for the fundraiser. Last year, WMS music students held a successful mattress fundraiser with the same company.

For every 3-pair pack of socks sold, WMS will donate one pair of socks to the Windham Clothes Closet, an organization that gives to people in need.

However, if people still want to donate but do not want to receive socks, they are able to donate to a specific student to raise their personal goal. If students are unable to reach their donation goals, parents would be asked to pay the difference if possible.

AJ Sweet, a seventh-grade percussionist who mainly plays the snare drums and bells, has been in the WMS band for almost two years. This will be his first year attending the festival.

Going will help us to get more performing experience which can really make a band better,” Sweet said.

WMS students will experience preparing musical selections for the festival and performing for judges, while competing against other middle school music students from Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.

After their performance, they will obtain specific feedback from their judges in the spirit of improving techniques as ensembles and listening to others.

Participating students also will receive a rating of bronze, silver, gold, or platinum along with a plaque to represent their performance level. Over the last eight years of attending, band and orchestra students from WMS have earned gold ratings every year.

Leanna Rogers, an eighth-grade trumpet player who has been playing since the fifth grade, is excited about performing in the festival.

“Going to this event can help me because it’s judged and can give us all an opportunity to show what we know and how hard we all have worked,” she said.

Obtaining a music experience in school can help students in many ways.

“It’s been a great way to catch up with my old friends and create new ones,” said Rogers.

According to Riley, the festival creates an environment where students feel comfortable and free to express themselves.

For more information or to donate, visit If you know a current WMS seventh- or eighth-grade band or orchestra student, you can select their name and they will get credit for the sale.

If an individual would prefer to donate directly to the WMS trip, they may write a check made out to WMS, write "music trip donation" in the memo line, and send it to: Windham Middle School, c/o Morgan Riley (Music Department), 408 Gray Rd., Windham, ME 04062. <

TRIAD Senior Fair nearing for local residents

By Doug Banks

The first annual Gorham-Westbrook-Windham TRIAD Senior Fair is nearing and will exhibit information, programs, and opportunities specifically tailored for senior citizens.

The first Gorham-Westbrook-Windham TRIAD Senior Fair
will be held March 29 at St. Hyacinth's Church in Westbrook
and will feature exhibits, information, programs, and
opportunities for senior residents in the area. 
The event will be held at the recreational center of St. Hyacinth’s Church at 268 Brown St. in Westbrook from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, March 29 and will answer many difficult questions facing seniors locally.

The State of Maine Career Services will have employers in attendance, the Social Security Administration will be there to explain how much a senior citizen collecting Social Security could work, details about Medicare, food pantry information, the first responders service Files for Life, Vertical Harvest, the Yellow Dot Program, and others.

TRIAD is an organization of town law enforcements, businesses, and senior citizens within respective communities who inform senior citizens of events, available opportunities, and to protect senior citizens against crime and alleviate the fear of it. The TRIAD members that will be producing the fair are made up of Windham, Gorham, and Westbrook police agencies, senior citizens from the community who attend the TRIAD meetings, and the businesses of Home Instead, Avesta Housing, Westbrook Housing Authority, and more.

Although the fair will be held in Westbrook, that does not mean it is exclusive to Westbrook residents, anyone in Windham or Gorham can also attend.

“We want anyone to attend who would benefit from the resources that are going to be there and the potential employers. We’re going to have our fire department and police presence if there are any questions,” said Westbrook Community Policing Coordinator Megan Perry. “The fire department will also have information about Files for Life, those are things that if it has a Westbrook logo, it does not mean you can’t put it on your fridge. It’s all relevant information to anyone regardless of where they live.”

The idea to start this fair came from Perry when she noticed a colleague from another state who conducted senior resource fairs similar to the one that will take place on March 29.

After receiving the information from her colleague on how to start a fair like this, the next step was partnering with the Career Center stationed in South Portland.

“They do tons of little pop-up events at their own office,” Perry said. “This is their opportunity to do outreach within the community and it’s also a good opportunity for the career fair to also bring all the same things that would be in South Portland at their office and bring it into our community, so people don’t have to travel as far.”

A program that will be featured at the fair is the Yellow DOT Program. This program will be making its return to the public eye at the TRIAD fair after going dormant for the last three years because of the pandemic.

Perry said that before the program started in Maine around 2014, a Gorham Police Officer and former liaison for the community TRIAD noticed yellow dots on the back of cars while traveling in the southern United States.

The yellow dot represents vital medical information regarding the driver of the vehicle stored in a folder in the glove compartment and in the case of a medical emergency concerning the individual in the car, first responders can quickly access valuable information and could potentially save the individual’s life.

After learning the benefits this could bring to Maine residents, TRIAD began campaigning and spreading the word about the Yellow Dot Program by advertising and participating in public events for people to sign up.

According to Gorham Police Sargent and TRIAD Liaison Ben Moreland, this upcoming TRIAD fair is important for many reasons, but it’s also a perfect opportunity to reintroduce the Yellow Dot Program back into the community.

“Due to COVID it’s been inactive for three years,” Moreland said. “We’re trying to get it back into the public eye, and to other public safety professionals so they know what to look for.”

He said the Yellow Dot Program is actually for everyone and not just for seniors.

“Anybody who has medical issues or even if they just want to include emergency contact information, they could benefit from the program as well,” Moreland said.

The program also strives to keep the individual’s information safe and secure.

Moreland says that the individual’s medical information doesn’t go into a database or anything, it stays with the folder.

“When people fill it out there isn’t a computer where somebody is entering your personal information or your medications. None of that happens,” he said. “It’s just a pamphlet with a form that you fill out, we take a photo that you can attach into the paperwork so that way if you’re riding with somebody else, the correct information follows the right person in the event that someone in unable to speak for themselves.”

The TRIAD Fair's purpose is to present and share opportunities with senior citizens looking for new directions or seeking assistance and connection within the community.

According to Perry, the fair will be a place of centralized resources and serve as one-stop shopping for anything they might need as they enter that chapter of life.

“Everyone is welcome. They can come with any questions they might have,” she said. “If the answer isn’t at the event, we’ll find a way to route people to get the answers they need.”

For more information on the TRIAD Senior Fair, the TRIAD, or if you or your business would like to participate, send an email to either or <

Town of Raymond to assume milfoil harvesting duties from RWPA volunteers

By Ed Pierce

Responsibility for the Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting Program (DASH) milfoil mitigation program will now be handled by the Town of Raymond instead of the Raymond Waterways Protective Association.

Peggy Jensen of the Raymond Waterways
Protective Association prepares to take a 
Secchi disc reading for water clarity on a
lake in Raymond last year.
Members of Raymond’s Select Board have voted unanimously to take over this task from the RWPA following a letter sent to the town in December by Peggy Jensen, RWPA president.

“After careful consideration of all the imaginable ways to address the remaining small patches and the inevitable stray plants that may regenerate from even tiny pieces of stem or root, we have decided the best solution is to move the DASH program to the town,” Jensen wrote to Raymond Select Board members.

Jensen said that RWPA has pledged to guide town personnel in taking ownership of the boat and its necessary equipment so that it could be quickly put back into operation and in applying for possibly available grant funds. RWPA also recommended that the town consider hiring a private contractor for the work.

“RWPA will continue to monitor and mitigate any invasive aquatic species found in the upper Jordan River, from the Route 302 highway to Mill Street, and Dingley Brook, from Cape Road to Sebago Lake,” Jensen wrote. “We will continue to operate the Courtesy Boat Inspection program at four launch sites in Raymond. We hope to have continuing support from the town for this program.”

According to Jensen, RWPA is looking to expand the hours covered for the Courtesy Boat Inspection program and is seeking to hire a manager for the program this coming season.

The Raymond Waterways Protective Association was created in the early 1970s by Ernest Bickford and Ernest Knight with a mission established to monitor and preserve the water quality of all Raymond lakes.

Since the beginning of RWPA’s water testing initiatives, all of Raymond’s lakes have been placed in the “Above Average Quality” category for the entire state of Maine.

Bodies of water being monitored by RWPA volunteers include Crescent Lake, Notched Pond, Panther Pond, Raymond Pond, Sebago Lake and Thomas Pond.

Through the years since it was first created, RWPA has continued to expand its duties by adding voluntary boat inspections and conducting plant surveys for invasive plant species with a goal of ensuring water quality and advocating for watershed stewardship in Raymond.

Milfoil remains an ongoing threat to local lakes and waterways.

“All the smaller lakes and ponds have volunteers who are trained to identify the 11, soon to be 12, invasive aquatic plants that threaten our waters,” said Jensen. “We have spent years finding and removing invasive variable milfoil in Raymond’s waters, with most of it being done by a dive crew as all our divers are trained and certified for SCUBA work and for the specialized work of removing invasive plants.”

Courtesy Boat Inspectors examine boats entering and leaving the launch ramps in Raymond, and strive to prevent invasive plants such as milfoil from entering Raymond waterways, but also from spreading milfoil contamination to other lakes and waters in the state.

“They educate boaters about the dangers of invasive species including organisms we can’t always see, and they remove all plant material that they find on a boat, a trailer, and all fishing gear,” said Jensen. “There is a large group of highly trained volunteers who provide emergency survey services to any lake that has a new infestation or a suspected one. So long as there is any invasive variable milfoil in the Sebago Lakes, we will have to remain vigilant and continue surveying.”

Raymond’s Select Board voted unanimously for the town to take over the DASH invasive removal program for the 2023 season. <

March 10, 2023

New composting service available in Windham this April

By Doug Banks

During the first week of April, curbside composting service company Garbage to Garden will be expanding their operations to the Windham, Gorham and Sanford communities after receiving over 400 inquiries. 

Garbage to Garden curbside composting service begins in
Windham in April. The launch includes a Garbage to
Garden-operated farm and composting site in Windham.
This expansion coincides with the launch of their own operated farm and composting site in Windham where they will collect compost from households and municipal level establishments and turn it into high quality Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association approved soil blends that are much more environmentally friendly compared to the big brand soil.
According to its President and Founder Tyler Frank, Garbage to Garden started in 2012 when he felt there must be a better way to compost than putting food scraps in a bag for the city to pick up. He and his roommates came up with the idea to start a curbside compost pickup service to establish a better way for people to compost.
Starting with his own pickup truck, Frank soon took his business to farmers’ markets in Portland and after six to eight months, Garbage to Garden had over 1,000 subscribers to the service. Now, after adding Windham, Gorham, and Sanford they now have a total of 13 communities, including a few areas in the greater Boston area who use the service.

With no outside investors, Garbage to Garden’s growth came from the support of the community who use the service, priding themselves on serving the people who believe in the benefits that come from correctly composting.
“We’ve wanted to have our own compost site forever,” said Frank. “Building a business with no capital in a capital-intensive business, you can’t stretch yourself that thin. We just never had the resources to buy land and all the equipment you need to actually make the product.”
Garbage to Garden eventually built-up enough revenue to start building a 106-acre farm, composting infrastructure, and greenhouse in Windham where they have acquired many subscribers to their service. This move will make it easier for the company's drivers while also accommodating the Windham community who use the service by having the pick-up service coinciding with Windham’s common trash pick-up date as well as possibly having a free drop-off location in the Windham area as well.
This move will also bring a community building aspect between Garbage to Garden and Windham as well.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to not just control the composting process and make our own soil blends; but also to have the educational aspect where we can open the farm to the community and build a playground for people to look at the goats and come to the classes and learn about composting and sustainable waste management,” Frank said. “People have often been trying to get more involved. They come to tour Garbage to Garden, and they say, ‘cool, but where’s the compost piles?’ and we say, ‘that’s at our partner’s farm and we can’t take you there.’ So, I know there’s going to be a lot of interest from the educational side.”

Along with bringing people to the farm, Garbage to Garden has also gone into schools and have trained school districts how to separate their compostables and recyclables and down the road hope to bring more volunteer work to the community.

One of the first 200 individuals who signed up for Garbage to Garden back in 2012 was Annika Schmidt, who is now the company's Marketing Director.

Schmidt says Garbage to Garden primarily operated as a waste hauler, originally collecting the homeowners compost from the curbside and bringing it to partnered local farms and composting sites for the actual compost process.

Although they will keep the partnership with the farms they have partnered with, the new farm in Windham will now allow Garbage to Garden to do their own composting along with many different possibilities.

“We’ve got a greenhouse that will be offering seedlings this spring,” Schmidt said. “It’s an opportunity to dig in a little bit deeper to the compost science to work on specialty blends that we could offer.”

It’s also an opportunity to have greater control over the entire process and in turn, will offer more possibilities to the people who use the service.

“The way it works is we partner with these other farms, and we pay them to deliver food waste, they process it into the finished compost, and then we actually purchase that back to provide that back to our participants,” Schmidt said. “So, all our curbside subscribers can get that finished compost back on a weekly basis.” But now with the new farm being built, this will open those curbside subscribers up to more possibilities with what type of soil they can purchase to use in their own garden and even get the chance to see how it is being made.”

Windham residents can pre-enroll for the service and Garbage to Garden also helps by supporting the local food systems with an extensive donation program where they and other participants can donate yards of compost towards supporting school and community gardens for people to grow their own food.

According to Schmidt, they also have a volunteer program as well.
“We have people here come help us bag compost, we do zero-waste composting events and have people come help sort with composting at those events,” she said. “We also work with a number of non-profits and organizations to help encourage folks to get involved in their communities by highlighting monthly opportunities.”

Frank stressed that what is being built is nothing close to a factory, it is specifically and wholeheartedly a farm. And he met with Windham’s town planner and code enforcement members before he bought the land.

“Somebody asked the question of, ‘is this a manufacturing facility?’ and I said, ‘no its agriculture, I’m making a farm’ and they we’re like, ‘oh okay good, because you’re in the residential farm district’ so I don’t want anyone to be confused about the nature of it because someday this will be my home,” Frank said.

To sign up for Garbage to Garden’s curbside service, its volunteer and donation work, or to get more information about Garbage to Garden itself visit <

Petition seeks referendum to upgrade Windham medical marijuana licenses

By Ed Pierce

Sticky Bud Farms owner Dave Whitten has launched a petition drive to put a referendum on the ballot before Windham voters to determine if the town should allow current medical marijuana businesses to upgrade to adult retail marijuana establishments.

Sticky Bud Farms owner Dave Whitten has launched a 
petition drive for Windham voters asking them to support
upgrading medical marijuana businesses to adult retail
if they choose to through a referendum this fall.
Whitten said that since the town first awarded two adult retail marijuana licenses under its marijuana ordinance in September 2020, it has given those businesses an unfair business advantage. A revised town ordinance addressing the sale of Recreational Adult-Use and Medical Marijuana Storefront facilities, along with business and personal marijuana outdoor cultivation was approved and adopted by Windham town councilors in late May 2020.

Seven different businesses already operating in Windham under medical marijuana licenses submitted applications for an adult retail marijuana license with the town and those applications were scored by town councilors based upon submitted operational plans, security measures, safety, experience, product handling, any violations on record and other specific criteria.

Town councilors initially awarded conditional adult retail licenses in September 2020 to Windham RSL and Paul’s Boutique but pulled Windham RSL’s adult retail license because of information that the town manager’s office had received about its lease. The second adult retail license was then awarded to Jar Cannabis Co.

Both Windham adult retail licenses, Jar Co. and Paul’s Boutique, opened in 2021 and Whitten has continued to operate Sticky Bud Farms in North Windham under a medical marijuana license. Since then, Whitten has expanded the business to include a cannabis dispensary, a glass products store, a grow facility, and has created a cannabis bakery with the intent of upgrading his business to an adult retail establishment.

However, the town council has remained steadfast in its commitment to limiting adult retail business licenses to two.

“It not right to have someone visit our dispensary and I then have to send them up the road to a competitor,” Whitten said. “We’ve met with town officials continually and told them that for our business to stay relevant, we have to have equal competition.”

According to Whitten, there have not been any crimes or incidents at his business since it opened, and he uses his business to give back to the community.

“There have been no complaints whatsoever about my business. We give away discounts to our customers for loyalty, we give free meds to cancer patients and in the last year, we’ve given more than $5,000 to charitable organizations. We’re part of the solution. We’re not just taking from the community.”

He said Sticky Bud Farms has won numerous awards as the Best Cannabis Dispensary in Maine in 2021 and won again for 2022 and 2023.

“We’re true professionals and help people from all walks of life,” Whitten said.

License renewal fees paid to the town are set at $2,500 for both adult retail and medical marijuana stores and $10,000 for new licenses. All cannabis businesses in town also pay a fee up to $1,000 as a contribution to a town education fund dedicated to public safety and drug education.

Whitten says his business is part of the town’s overall economy and he’s asking for fair treatment.

“Some of the people who visit Sticky Bud Farms travel here from surrounding communities,” he said. “These people are also going to Hannaford’s, Walmart, Burger King and buying gasoline in town. But they are coming to Windham to come to our business.”

He said he believes current medical marijuana businesses should be able to decide if they want to upgrade to an adult retail business.

If he collects 1,500 signatures on the petition, a referendum would be voted upon in Windham to allow medical marijuana shops to obtain adult retail licenses.

“Since 2020, I have wanted to negotiate this issue with dignity and civility,” Whitten said. “Everybody I have talked to doesn’t understand why the cap on just two adult retail licenses in Windham. My goal with this petition is not to intimidate anyone but I’ve had enough of it being unfair.”

Should Whitten collect enough Windham voter signatures for the petition this spring and they are verified by the Windham Town Clerk’s office, the referendum would be placed on the November ballot.

Petitions are now available to be signed at Sticky Bud Farms in North Windham and potentially at other locations in town soon. <

Manchester School showcases Agriculture Literacy Night

By Jolene Bailey

The first-ever Agriculture Literacy Night at Manchester School in Windham on Thursday, March 2 and showed that the differences between farmers and students are minimal as each day brings something new.

Students and their families participated
in Agriculture Literacy Night at
Manchester School in Windham on March
2 and activities included reading about
agriculture and gardening.
Led by Manchester School Fourth Grade teacher Stacey Sanborn, the special evening embodied student readings and several other agricultural-related activities that helped to promote student interest in the subject.

After Manchester School Principal Danielle Donnini had welcomed and introduced everyone attending the event, the format of the night was styled as an open house.

Numerous activities for students and parents involved classroom stops of four Book Barn Libraries, visiting with local farmers and gardeners, making crafts, and playing games. Additionally, there was a Story Walk hosting the story “Right This Very Minute" by Lisl H. Detlefsen.

The idea for the event sprouted from when Sanborn and a colleague had desired to join forces for a schoolwide agriculture event.

Sanborn was honored as the 2022 Maine Agriculture in the Classroom’s Teacher of the Year. Following her attending the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in New York with Fifth Grade teacher Cindy Moore, she partnered with Jeanne Demers, one of Manchester’s reading specialists, to plan an event for more people to gain knowledge about agricultural literacy.

“I currently have a book barn, a -sized bookcase shaped like a barn, on loan from Maine Ag in the Classroom along with over 100 books related to agriculture. When we originally started planning the event, we knew we wanted more barn-shaped bookcases.” said Sanborn.

Replicas of the original book barns were created by high school students in woodworking classes. Hancock Lumber had made a generous donation of wood, and Lowe’s had discounted paint to positively unite the community together. Manchester currently has four student-made barn bookcases for Manchester School to use.

Displayed in the specialized bookcases were books for students containing agricultural information, connections with gardeners, proper food service, composting information, and ways to eat healthier.

The Manchester Book Barns were overflowing with material for kids to read. Along with the bookcases, several books were displayed prominently on desks showcasing agricultural topics.

Demin-nat Andieh, a Manchester School fourth-grade student, was impressed with the evening’s activities.

“I came tonight to hear the story and make new friends,” Andieh said.

Students received a preview of the Story Walk book and were encouraged to attend this event. Although it was not mandatory, students turned out and filled the cafeteria with their families and friends.

“I was interested in the book and what it was about. Mrs. Sanborn was reading it and I wanted to know what would happen towards the end,” said Harrison Eskilson.

After walking through the school hallways lined with student artwork, there were various activities spread throughout the entire school. Anybody interested could create flower crafts with pipe cleaners, paper straws, paper, and tissue paper. Games were also included, consisting of drawing, coloring, and a game of bingo, and farm finding addition.

Students were also engaged by listening to speakers from agricultural professions, and connections with food service and ways to learn and eat healthier.

Cooking Club students from the school helped cut strawberries and make salads for the guests. Their homemade “maple syrup balsamic vinegar dressing” and produce that was served to guests was grown in the school garden. Participants said that they enjoyed the dish and watched its process of creation representing new agriculture recipes.

Representatives from Coopers Greenhouse showed students and parents a maple syrup documentary about how the product is made. They shared knowledge about maple syrup’s density, how you can tell what the correct temperature it should be, and how the thickness can affect the syrup after being boiled.

Students had advertised and promoted Agriculture Literacy Night by working with Richey Vickers from the school’s technology department, to create posters on a Google slide and bookmarks. Fidget plates were made by students, reciting questions to remember the night, “One thing you wonder? The title of the book that looked tasty? Something you learned tonight? My favorite workshop was… Why?”

Sanborn said that Manchester students had recently accomplished a hunger unit, focusing on topics such as food insecurity, sports helping hunger, meal plans, ending world hunger and ways to prevent it. Most of the student’s work about hunger was shown in the library throughout poster boards, artwork, and 3-D creations.

At the end of the night, drawings for donated agricultural door prizes were conducted for participants. <

Loon Echo Land Trusts schedules free outdoor events

Winter is back and the Loon Echo Land Trust is offering a number of events to help you get outside and enjoy the snow and meet fellow community members this month.

Loon Echo Land Trust is offering a number
of events to help get you outside and enjoy
the snow while meeting community members
All events are free, and snowshoes are available to borrow free of charge for all events. Registration is requested at or by emailing Events will be cancelled in case of inclement weather.

Please check the LELT facebook page or for final notice.

Pondicherry Park Community Walk

Monday, March 13, 12:15 p.m. at Pondicherry Park, Bridgton
Join LELT staff for a casual walk in the Park. No agenda, just a chance to meet fellow community members and be active outside. The group will decide together on the route, and all experience levels are welcome. Participants will meet at the Bob Dunning Memorial Bridge entrance to the park. No registration required.

Mayberry Hill Preserve Walk

Friday, March 17, 10 a.m. at Mayberry Hill Preserve, Casco
Now that we have ample winter parking at Mayberry Hill, we invite you to join us for a walk in the woods! The hike will be about 1.5 miles round trip on gentle sloping terrain.

Spring Equinox Hike

Monday, March 20, 4:45 p.m. at Bald Pate Mountain, Bridgton
Join us for a hike up Bald Pate Mountain to bring in spring! The equinox is set for 5:24 p.m., so we'll plan to make it to the summit in time. Feel free to bring a favorite spring quote or poem to share. Please also bring a flashlight or headlamp.

Invasive Pest Training

Join LELT Stewardship Manager Jon on Friday, March 24, at 10 a.m. for a walk at Tiger Hill Community Forest in Sebago to search for signs of invasive pests. They will be hosting these walks monthly to bolster our ability to monitor for invasive pests like Emerald Ash Borer and Hemlock Wooly Adelgid.

The Loon Echo Land Trust is a community supported, non-profit land trust that works to protect the land and natural resources of the northern Sebago Lake region for current and future generations.

Since 1987, LELT has protected forests, wetland, shorelines, and open spaces in Harrison, Denmark, Casco, Bridgton, Naples, Raymond and Sebago. These lands provide public access to the outdoors, host over 31 miles of recreational trails and protect important water resources and wildlife habitat.

For more information about Loon Echo Land Trust, including information about their trails, free public events, and how to get involved, visit or their Facebook page. <

March 3, 2023

In the public eye: New Deputy Chief leads by example at Raymond Fire and Rescue

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

By Ed Pierce

No profession can be more satisfactory and yet humbling at the same time than being a firefighter and Raymond Fire and Rescue’s new Deputy Chief Lee O’Connor has rolled up his sleeves and gotten down to work at his new job.

Raymond Fire and Rescue's new Deputy Chief
Lee O'Connor joined the department on Jan. 31 and has
more than 34 years of experience in firefighting and 
providing emergency medical assistance.
O’Connor, an experienced firefighter and paramedic, joined the fire department on Jan. 31 and since then, he has been busy familiarizing himself with the duties and responsibilities of the position and getting to know the firefighters and emergency services personnel working for the town.

As Deputy Chief of the Raymond Fire and Rescue Department, O’Connor is tasked with staff management and developing and implementing Standard Operating Procedures and Standards Operating Guidelines for the fire department. He also reviews incident reports and emergency medical service reports, works on the fire department’s annual budget and formulates long range planning for the department’s future needs.

In addition, O’Connor handles the fire and rescue department’s payroll, assists and coordinates firefighter and EMS training programs, assists and responds to incidents and fires in Raymond and surrounding towns, and all of that is along with performing his duties as a firefighter and emergency medical technician.

The Raymond Fire and Rescue Department provides fire protection and emergency response services to the Raymond community. It is a challenging mission is to prevent the loss of life and property, and to respond to fires in the community and medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, rescue calls, and incidents involving hazardous materials within the town.

The job as Deputy Chief for the department is an important assignment, but it’s a position for which O’Connor is well prepared.

Prior to joining Raymond Fire and Rescue, O’Connor worked for 18 years for Poland Fire and Rescue, serving as a Department Captain, responsible for training and leading the town’s Emergency Medical Service as Coordinator. He also worked as a paramedic and a Technical Rescue Specialist for the department there.

He spent 13 years with the Androscoggin Sheriff’s Office, working in Corrections, Transport, and serving as a sheriff’s Search and Recovery Diver.

“The best thing about what I do is the job,” O’Connor said. “All of it, my career has been in Public Safety. I started when I was 17 years old, and I’m now passing 34 years of service.”

According to O’Connor, the most challenging aspect of his job knowing that no matter what he does, some outcomes are beyond his control and not always good.

The greatest misconception that some people may have about his work is that firefighters are human, he said.

“In the Fire and Rescue Service, we see some of the worst things on calls and need to deal with them and make sure we are ready for the next call, or make sure our peers are ready for it,” O’Connor said.

Originally from Ticonderoga, New York, O’Connor graduated from Ticonderoga High School and went on to attend North County Community College in Saranac Lake, New York and graduated with a associates degree in business administration.

He decided to apply for the Deputy Chief position in Raymond after learning about the vacancy last fall following a discussion with Raymond Fire and Rescue Chief Bruce Tupper.

“While at a fire he told me they were looking for a new Deputy Chief and I should apply,” O’Connor said.

His family is proud of his accomplishments and is excited about his new job with Raymond Fire and Rescue.

“They like having me home more and able to be at family events,” he said.

One thing O’Connor believes the public isn’t aware of regarding firefighting and rescue work is simple.

“We don’t have enough staff, or people applying to keep up with the demands of the job,” he said. “Call volume has increased over the last 10 years, while membership has decreased.”

After being a career firefighter for more than three decades, O’Connor says that he’s learned so many important lessons, but the biggest one he’s learned as a firefighter applies to all facets of life.

“It takes teamwork to be productive and to get the job done,” he said. <