September 29, 2023

In the public eye: Physical Education teacher imparts value of physical activity and healthy lifestyles to students

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

By Ed Pierce

The best teachers are often described as having very giving and selfless personalities, ensuring student learning is placed above their own needs. Mention that to any student at Jordan-Small Middle School and they’ll tell you you’re talking about Joni Merrill.

Joni Merrill has taught Physical Education
at Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond
for the past 21 years and shares with students
the value of physical activity and living
a healthy lifestyle.
For the past 21 years Merrill has served as a Physical Education specialist at Jordan-Small and is certified to teach in both physical education and health.

Her role involves teaching young people about the value and importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle through physical activity and proper nutrition.

“I do not teach gym,” Merrill said. “I teach young people through the means of physical education.”

Like her teaching counterparts in the classroom, Merrill develops meaningful lesson plans and teaches classes related to exercise and health covering subjects such as first aid and organized sports. Through structured games and lessons, Merrill instructs and encourages her students to be physically active and accomplishes this though teaching young people how to play a wide range of specific sports or to introduce them to various activities such as gymnastics, running and swimming and encouraging them to try out for Jordan-Small Middle School sports teams or to help them find a physical activity or a sport that they are good at or can excel in.

She says the best thing about her work is the opportunity to interact with her students but cites the increasing volume of paperwork required to teach these days, ever-changing state expectations and administrative expectations as the most challenging part of her occupation.

Merrill graduated from Lake Region High School in Naples in 1973 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virgina and obtained a master’s degree in physical education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Her teaching career has been diverse and memorable. She spent three years as a Kindergarten and First Grade teacher in American Samoa, two years teaching at Lynchburg Christian Academy in Virginia, a year as a preschool teacher in Lynchburg, Virginia and three years teaching at All Saints Episcopalian School in Mississippi.

Returning to New England, Merrill spent two years teaching at Gray New Gloucester High School, two years at Poland Regional High School, and was a part-time teacher as Saint Jospeh’s College in Standish for two years.

“After moving back to Maine from Mississippi, I was a substitute teacher for several school districts,” she said. “I fell in love with Jordan-Small Middle School and set my mind and plans on not only working at JSMS but retiring from JSMS as well.”

Her dream came true when she was hired to teach physical education at Jordan-Small Middle School in 2002 and for more than two decades now, Merrill has been instrumental in developing motor skills for JSMS students as well as social skills and cultivating their interest in being active.

According to Merrill, the public may not be aware of the importance of effective time management to her work.

“The paperwork, assessing, grading and planning, these are aspects of teaching that take a lot of time and effort,” she said. “If I could just have my kids in the gym and do no scoring, we would all be happier. But I also tell the students that life often requires us to do things we don’t want to do.”

To Merrill, she says that her most memorable moment came at Jordan-Small Middle School when students chose her for a special tribute.

“Having the school yearbook dedicated to me by the 8th grade class was special,” she said. “It was an honor.”

Her family takes great pride in her work at the school, and she says that they enjoy her availability during the summer months and school vacations.

Merrill said that the most important thing that she’s learned while working at Jordan-Small Middle School is self-care.

“I choose what my attitude is going to be. I choose to be happy,” she said. “Even through the difficult challenges, something good can come out of it.” <

Special event gives residents close-up glimpse of Windham’s first responders

By Ed Pierce

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to work as a firefighter, EMT or police officer for the community, Windham’s upcoming Public Safety Day will provide residents a close-up look at the people, equipment, vehicles, and duties of first responders in the town.

Children and families will be able to meet Windham
firefighters and Windham police officers, explore their 
equipment and vehicles and learn more about their work
during Windham Public Safety Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Windham Public Safety Building,
375 Gray Road in Windham. The event is free.
The free event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Windham Public Safety Building, 375 Gray Road in Windham, and it promises to be educational, informative, and most of all, fun for all ages.

According to Windham Police Officer Justin Hudnor, Windham Public Safety Day is an excellent way for local residents and visitors to learn more about what it takes to keep the community safe and to thank the dedicated firefighters, EMTs, police officers and other community staff members and volunteers who put their lives on the line every single day in the line of duty.

“This will be a great event for the community and filled with plenty of free family activities,” Hudnor said.

Among a wide range of family activities, events will include Touch-a-Truck as participants will be able to sit in the cab of a Windham fire truck or a Windham police cruiser or experience a Crime Scene Drone Demonstration as investigators explain how a drone can aid in aerial search operations. There will also be fire extinguisher demonstrations by members of Windham Fire/Rescue teaching how to operate a fire extinguisher effectively and safely and a Smoke Trailer, which will offer the public some interactive and highly realistic fire prevention training featuring different scenarios about what to do and how to react during a fire when every second counts.

“There will also be a blow-up bouncy house for the kids, and we’ll have hotdogs and chips available at the open house for a fundraiser for the DARE program,” Hudnor said.

Participants will also find helpful information about the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program offered in Windham schools, and TRIAD, a cooperative partnership between law enforcement agencies, elder service providers, and seniors in our community. The primary mission of TRIAD is to reduce the criminal victimization of older citizens, enhance the delivery of law enforcement services, and improve the quality of life for seniors.

There will be presentations about the dangers of distracted driving and Hands-only CPR and Windham’s Animal Control Program.

Hudnor said that parents should take note of another important activity at the event where a representative will be on hand to perform child fingerprints for identification purposes.

“This is different from the National Night Out event in August because this is just about Windham Public Safety,” Hudnor said. “At Windham’s Public Safety Day, you’ll be able to meet and talk with police officers and firefighters and EMTs who serve the town and this community around the clock every day. You’ll be able to review the capabilities of the equipment and the vehicles that we use every day and to see how the departments are operating at the recently remodeled Public Safety Building in Windham.”

Hudnor said that the event will be a wonderful time to take photographs, tour the Public Safety Building grounds and experience what it’s like to serve the community as a firefighter, EMT or police officer.

“We believe this event will give everyone who attends and participates a much greater sense and understanding about who we are and what we do to keep this community safe each and every day,” he said. “Windham Public Safety Day is definitely an event not to be missed and will be a memorable time for all members of the family.” <

Author to launch new paperback edition of 'Hester' at Nathaniel Hawthorne’s boyhood home

Award-winning Book-of-the-Month Club author Laurie Lico Albanese will launch the new paperback edition of her acclaimed novel "Hester" at the most perfect of all locations, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Boyhood Home at 40 Hawthorne Road in Raymond on Saturday, Oct. 7 starting at 4 p.m.

Author Laurie Lico Albanese
will launch a new paperback
version of her novel 'Hester'
on Saturday, Oct. 7 at the
Hawthorne House in
Raymond. The event is
free to attend.
"Hester," which Publishers Weekly hails as “a standout,” is an award-winning reimagining of the world-famous lead character in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Admission to the event is free, with RSVP’s (by emailing greatly appreciated. Walk-ins are also welcome.

In addition to a reading by Lico Albanese, there will be a question-and-answer session, along with the opportunity to purchase a personally signed copy of her "Hester" book.

The public is invited to come to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Boyhood Home, enjoy wine and cheese, and savor meeting this accomplished author.

Zoom Option

Those who would like to attend the book-reading but who may not be able to do so in person are invited to participate via ZOOM. Please email and you will receive the ZOOM participation link the day before the gathering.

How to Donate to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Boyhood Home

Those who would like to donate to the ongoing restoration of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Boyhood Home in Raymond may do so by sending a much-appreciated check payable to “Hawthorne Community Association” to: Hawthorne Community Association, P.O. Box 185, South Casco, ME 04077. Secure credit card, debit card, and PayPal donations may be made online at:

For more information, please contact Margaret Silvers Myatt at <

Windham’s American Legion Post welcomes new members in October

 By David Tanguay

Special to The Windham Eagle

October is the American Legion’ New Membership Month drive and as in previous years, Field-Allen Post 148 offers a free membership to the post here in Windham.

This year, I would like to first focus on a more pressing issue, BE THE ONE. The veterans suicide rate continues at about 22 vets a day in the United States. One vet suicide is unacceptable but 22 a day is a national disgrace. Today the greatest threat to our service members and veterans is suicide and other mental health related issues. These topics are not always easy to discuss, but the need to bring these issues to the forefront is needed. BE THE ONE does that.

Working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other veterans’ organizations, the American Legion has sponsored the BE THE ONE program, a grass roots program, designed to drastically reduce these veteran suicide numbers over the next five years. BE THE ONE is coupled with a national hotline where a vet in distress gets to talk directly to a mental health specialist who is another vet. The number 988 plus ONE has received over a million and a half calls in just the last year and has helped tens of thousands of veterans with a wide range of issues. New info will be out shortly for those vets with hearing and sight issues as well to contact the 988 system.

The Legion’s BE THE ONE program is also sponsored by the National Legion Commander to have every Post in the United States as well as the communities be open to supporting our veterans at the local level. The program includes an emphasis on destigmatizing veterans’ mental illness issues and provides an open atmosphere of listening to our vets and then provide them with needed support.

Additionally, since its inception in 1919, the American Legion has been the largest veterans advocate organization in the country. It authored the GI Bill of Rights and has been at the vanguard of all significant veterans’ legislation from the more recent Blue Water Navy Bill and Burn Pits legislation (PACT ACT) to encouraging all vets from recent conflicts to get screened for exposure to toxins and providing needed service and support to member and veterans who have exposures to a wide range of toxins.

Each Year, the American Legion Field-Allen Post in Windham offers a one-year free membership to the American Legion for new members who join in the month of October. Eligibility is based on the Legion Act of 2019. Any veteran who served at least one day of Active Duty and has an Honorable Discharge is eligible to become an American Legion Member.

The American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 Post provides a Veterans Coffee every Wednesday at the Windham Veterans Center from 9 to 11 a.m. and it is an opportunity to meet local vets and receive information about Legion programs and the support they provide for our youth and the local community. The free membership offer provides new post members with an opportunity to check out what resources are available and to see where they may be of service.

For additional Information please contact the Post Adjutant at 207-892-1306 or by email at <

Commit to be fit this fall

The Southern Maine Agency on Aging is keeping the heat up as the weather gets cooler with its virtual exercise and yoga classes. These classes are drop-in, making them flexible to your schedule and desired regimen.

Gentle Exercise classes meet once a week on Thursdays from 10 to 11 a.m. starting Sept. 28. This class includes a full body routine of movements to gently warm-up your joints, stretch and strengthen your muscles, and practice your balance.

Yoga for Healthy Aging classes meet once a week on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to noon starting Oct. 4. This class includes a modified series of traditional poses, which can be done by almost anyone—of any age or ability. Special emphasis is placed on strength, balance, fall prevention, and “bone-safe” practice.

Both classes have a combination of seated and standing poses, but all of the poses may be done seated. Pre-registration for all classes is required. Register once but come as often as able.

Please visit our events page at or call 207-396-6578 to pre-register and check out our other Agewell class offerings. For more information, contact our Agewell team with any questions by calling 207-396-6578 or by e-mailing

The Southern Maine Agency on Aging is the focal point in Cumberland and York counties for resources, services, and information to empower older adults and adults with disabilities. <

September 22, 2023

Daily Point of Light Award recognizes RTT volunteer for therapeutic horseback riding work

Janis Childs, a volunteer at the Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center in Windham, has been honored with a Daily Point of Light Award by Points of Light, a nonpartisan, global nonprofit organization that inspires, equips and mobilizes millions of people to take action that changes the world.

Janis Childs, a volunteer at Riding
To The Top Therapeutic Riding
Center in Windham, has been
honored with a Daily Point of
Light Award by the Points of
Light organization. From left are
Neil Bush, Points of Light
Chairman of the Board, Janis
Childs, and Jennifer Sirangelo,
Points of Light President and
Childs received this recognition for her volunteer work at Riding To The Top. Her ability to relate to people of all ages, her dedication and her caring personality are traits that have served her well professionally and in her many volunteer roles over the years. As a retired USM faculty member (School of Nursing), Janis is no stranger to service, whether it was working with her patients as a young nurse, educating future nurses in her role at USM or giving of her time and talent as a volunteer. In addition to her countless hours at RTT, she formerly served as a volunteer with the Coast Guard Auxiliary for many years.

Many kids dream about having a pony at some point or another, and Childs was no different. She loved horses and often begged her parents to get one. With her father in the military, her family wasn’t in a position to bring along livestock every time they moved to a different base or duty station. But that didn’t stop her from putting a saddle on her bicycle with a tail off the back and a rubber horse head on the handlebars.

“When I was looking at retirement, I knew that I wanted to do something to be involved with my community,” she said. “And there happened to be an article in the newspaper about Riding To The Top.”

Riding to the Top (RTT) owns a 50-acre farm and provides equine assisted services to children and adults. The interaction between horse and rider is designed to improve health and well-being but, as Janis would soon find out, also provides unbridled joy to clients and volunteers alike. The idea of working with horses and young riders seemed perfect, and after an initial visit, she was hooked. Janis has been volunteering at RTT for the last 12 years. During this time, she has assisted with nearly every aspect of the organization--from barn chores, to leading horses and sidewalking in lessons, to helping with RTT’s carriage driving program, to assisting with special events and projects and serving as a member of RTT’s Board of Directors for nine years.

“We almost get more out of it than the riders. They’re such an inspiration, and the horses are just magnificent. It’s really an honor to be there,” Childs said.

The Daily Point of Light Award uplifts individuals who lead, lend support, and take action for causes they care about on their path to leading a fully engaged civic life. The award is given five days a week as Points of Light honors individuals creating meaningful change to meet community needs, efforts that often lead to long-term solutions and impact social problems in their local communities.

President George H.W. Bush was the first president in American history to institute a daily presidential recognition program from the White House, conferring 1,020 Daily Point of Light Awards on citizens and organizations making a difference in other people’s lives and solving community problems. Points of Light continues this recognition and now has more than 7,500 honorees to date.

“The Daily Point of Light Award recognizes those who saw something they wanted to improve in the world, then through their time, talent and efforts, began making those improvements,” said Diane Quest, Interim President and CEO at Points of Light. “We’re pleased to honor Janis for her amazing work.”

Janis continues to inspire others with her work and hopes to show others they can make a difference in their communities too.

To learn more about Janis’s work, visit

About Riding to the Top

Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT) was founded in 1993. Its mission is to enhance health and wellness through equine-assisted services. RTT is the state’s only PATH International accredited center (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) solely dedicated to Equine Assisted Services. More than 250 participants are impacted annually, assisted by certified instructors, a herd of 17 horses and close to 100 volunteers, all specially trained to assist with therapeutic riding, carriage driving, equine assisted learning and PT/OT services utilizing equine movement. Riding To The Top is a community-based nonprofit, receives no federal or state funding and provides scholarships to over 60 percent of its clients. For more information about client services, volunteering, or making a gift, please visit us at or call 207-892-2813.

About Points of Ligh

Points of Light is a nonpartisan, global nonprofit organization that inspires, equips and mobilizes millions of people to take action that changes the world. We envision a world in which every individual discovers the power to make a difference, creating healthy communities in vibrant, participatory societies. Through 177 affiliates across 38 countries, and in partnership with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages 5 million volunteers in 16 million hours of service each year. We bring the power of people to bear where it’s needed most. For more information, visit <

Transition begins for Presumpscot Regional Land Trust after nearly a decade and more than 1,000 acres conserved

By Ed Pierce

After nearly a decade of leading the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, Rachelle Curran Apse will be leaving the organization’s Executive Director role this winter to move with her family to Cape Town, South Africa.

Presumpscot Regional Land Trust Executive Director
Rachelle Curran Apse, right, and PRLT Program Manager
Toby Jacobs walk through a trail at the new East Windham
Conservation Project in Windham, which will be opening
soon. Curran Apse is moving with her family to South
Africa and will be leaving the land trust at the end of the
Curran Apse said that she is proud of what has been accomplished during her time with the Land Trust.

“It has been such an honor to serve in the leadership of the Land Trust, expanding conservation and trails while connecting people with nature close to home,” she said. “Our Land Trust has grown exponentially in the last decade, and it is only possible due to the hundreds of volunteers, members, supporters, and community partners.”

The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust primarily serves Windham, Gorham, Gray, Standish, and Westbrook and in the last decade, it has grown to more than 500 supporting families, accumulating soon to be nearly 3,000 acres of conserved lands, and more than 30 miles of trails that are free and open to the public. In addition to land stewardship, the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust also monitors the water quality of the Presumpscot River watershed, coordinates the 28-mile Sebago to the Sea Trail, and provides educational programming to hundreds of children, students, and families in the area each year.

Presumpscot Regional Land Trust was founded in 1986 and has conserved land in Gorham, Gray, Sebago, Standish, Windham, and Westbrook. The Windham Land Trust was founded in 2000 and had conserved lands in Gorham, Gray, and Windham. Gorham Trails Inc, a town land trust in Gorham, had conserved lands in Gorham, Windham, and Westbrook. The three land trusts shared much of the same coverage area, along with many members and values, making the three organizations a natural fit to merge. In October 2016, members of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, Windham Land Trust, and Presumpscot River Watch voted to merge as one organization with the name Presumpscot Regional Land Trust. In September of 2017, members of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and Gorham Trails Inc voted to incorporate all Gorham Trails Inc.-conserved lands within the auspices of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust.

In the last decade, the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust has acted to protect Lowell Preserve in collaboration with the Town of Windham so it will forever stay undeveloped with five-plus miles of trails. The Land Trust is also about to conserve the East Windham Conservation Project in collaboration with the Town of Windham. The organization is currently in the process of building 10 new miles of trails for the East Windham Conservation Project. In total, the Land Trust will have conserved over 1,000 acres of land in Windham with 15-plus miles of trails added in the last three years.

The leadership exhibited by Curran Apse during her time with the PRLT in undeniable.

“Rachelle has led the land trust through the transformational change from an all-volunteer to a professionally led organization,” said Matt Streeter, Co-President of the PRLT Board of Directors. “She built and cultivated the processes that have made us more effective and earned national accreditation with the Land Trust Alliance. She built an extraordinary staff who, with her leadership, did the hard work of adding over 1,000 acres of conserved land to our portfolio. We wish Rachelle and her family a fulfilling future as they embark on the next phase of their lives, and we look forward to hiring a new Executive Director who will continue the good work that Rachelle has done.”

Curran Apse has worked for the Land Trust since 2015 and will continue to serve in her position as Executive Director through the end of this calendar year and then support the training for the newly chosen Executive Director so that the transition will be smooth.

According to Curran Apse, the Land Trust’s three-person staff leadership team will continue with Toby Jacobs as Program Manager and Brenna Crothers as Community Engagement Manager.

The Land Trust is now actively seeking a new Executive Director who will continue to expand conservation, trails, and education through community partnerships. To see the job announcement, go to <

Two town council positions, two RSU 14 board seats on ballot in Windham

By Ed Pierce

Seven candidates will appear on the ballot for Windham voters in November, with two positions available for the Windham Town Council, two positions for the RSU 14 Board of Directors and the Windham Town Clerk’s position.

Two town council seats, the town clerk, and 
two RSU 14 Board of Directors seats will be
on the ballot when Windham voters head to the
polls on Nov. 7. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
Running for reelection to the council is incumbent Mark Morrison, who currently serves as town council chair. Morrison is unopposed for an at-large berth and three-year term on the council. He is a financial advisor and was first elected to the council in November 2020.

Incumbent Brett Jones is also seeking reelection to represent the council’s East District for a three-year term. He is a fire captain with the Old Orchard Beach Fire Department and served twice on the council in 2016 and 2020 filling short-term vacancies before being elected in his own right to a three-year term as East District councilor in November 2020.

Longtime Windham Town Clerk Linda Morrell is seeking reelection for a two-year term as town clerk. Morrell, a 1978 graduate of Windham High School, spent seven years working as a deputy clerk for the Town of Windham and has served for the past 29 years as Windham Town Clerk.

Four candidates are vying for two available seats on the RSU 14 Board of Directors. Marjorie Govoni, Joseph Kellner, Dawn Miller, and Justin Whynot are competing for three-year terms on the school board representing Windham.

Govoni served on the school board from 2008 to 2022, when she finished third among three candidates seeking election for two school board positions. She was appointed by the Windham Town Council to serve out the remainder of the term of a school board member who resigned earlier this year.

Kellner currently serves as the vice president of finance, operations, and strategy for Northern Light Home Care and Hospice, Northern Light Medical Transport, is the chief financial officer of LifeFlight of Maine and the chief operating officer for MedComm. He will begin a new role as the Chief Executive Officer of LifeFlight of Maine in October.

Miller graduated from the University of Maine in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology. She has worked as a personal trainer, the foster coordinator for an animal rescue, and owns and operates a food truck business.

Whynot is a lifelong resident of Windham and has served as a Youth Group Leader, Children’s Church Leader, a Camp Counselor, and a Coach. He is the Co-Director of the Parents’ Rights Maine organization and the Vice Chair of the Maine chapter of Moms for Liberty.

All candidates will be sent a questionnaire by The Windham Eagle newspaper for an in-depth profile which will be published in October prior to the election.

Voting in Windham will be on Nov. 7 at Windham High School and the State of Maine will have a referendum ballot for November as well, along with a citizen’s referendum calling to establish local recall procedures for elected officials.

To participate in elections, residents must be registered to vote.

No candidates will be on the ballot in Raymond in November. <

RTP of Maine unveils new services for Windham

By Kaysa Jalbert

It’s time for change as the Regional Transportation Program of Maine will be implementing new services in the town of Windham and already has added a convenient new stop on Route 302 for those headed to Saint Joseph’s College in Standish.

RTP has added a new stop in North Windham for connections
to Saint Joseph's College and made it easier for residents to
arrange for same-day transportation for local trips while
streamlining daily service for the Lakes Region Explorer 
between Portland and Bridgton. COURTESY PHOTO   
According to Jack DeBeradinis, Executive Director of RTP, the transportation nonprofit’s focus during this time is to expand transportation to more rural areas as they continue to make public transportation more accessible and affordable to the elderly, low-income individuals, persons with disabilities, students, and the general public. RTP provides general public transportation to residents of Cumberland County on a space‐available basis with transportation available for shopping, hospital visits, the library, or any other purpose as long as the trip takes place in Cumberland County.

In Windham, RTP will be implementing a new type of service called Micro Transit. This type of service allows for more on-demand transportation, meaning an individual can call a dispatch center to schedule a ride or they can schedule online from their cell phones as opposed to individuals calling to schedule days or weeks in advance as the current services require. Micro Transit will allow for people to schedule a ride that same day.

This Micro Transit service has already been implemented in other programs such as the Portland Metro and Biddeford Shuttle.

“We are bringing this to the Windham area with the prospect and hope that we can get additional funding to expand this Micro service in many areas of northern Cumberland County,” says DeBeradinis.

Also, Saturday service with the Lakes Region Explorer will be provided year-round. Up to this point, Saturday service was available strictly between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Now, thanks to support from the Maine Department of Transportation, Saturday services will run throughout the entire year.

Additionally, RTP will now have a connection starting from Saint Joseph’s College Campus to the Lakes Region Explorer stop in the North Windham Shopping center.

“This is really exciting; we are looking to really make this something special as we expand the Lakes Region service. That began a couple weeks ago, and we will continue this going into the future,” said DeBeradinis.

Another change in the Regional Transportation Program in Maine has been the discontinuation of the Raymond stop on Route 302 due to a lack of contribution from the town, DeBeradinis said. The program had asked for small contributions from each community to keep the program running at a low rate for the public, and in the absence of that contribution, RTP had to discontinue stopping in the Raymond area on 302 to be fair to the other towns that had made contributions.

“Unfortunately, this year we notified Raymond that we had to discontinue with the understanding that if they could make a small contribution, we would be more than happy to restart our services and would do so immediately,” said DeBeradinis. “RTP remains positive on this regard and hopeful that there could be some reconsideration by the town of Raymond to get their stop back in our service.”

The Regional Transportation Program of Maine is currently looking for drivers, DeBeradinis said. Finding drivers has been a large challenge for the program since the Covid-19 Pandemic and drivers are a necessity to keep the program running largely for the northern Cumberland County area. They are looking for CDL bus drivers as well as volunteer drivers who can use their own cars and will be granted milage reimbursements.

The program currently runs two types of services. Demand Response Service allows riders to call and schedule rides in advance to a series of destinations such as medical appointments, dialysis, college classes, shopping centers and more. The other service, General Public Transportation as exemplified by the Lakes Regional Explorer, currently includes three round-trip runs daily between Bridgton and Portland

Prices for the Regional Transportation Program vary depending upon the type of service, but always remain low and affordable for the public, DeBeradinis said. The most an individual will pay for a one-way trip with General Public Transportation is around $3; and it’s $2 for students and seniors. For the Demand Response service, in many cases riders will ride for free or pay up to $2.50 per trip. Longer trips may be up to $5 depending on how far an individual may need to go.

The Regional Transportation Program has been in operation since 1976 as a not-for-profit agency that focuses on serving the elderly, individuals with disabilities, low-income individuals, students, and other members of the public.

RTP serves 27 towns in Cumberland County including Portland, South Portland, Scarborough, Cape Elizabeth, Westbrook, Gorham, Falmouth, Yarmouth, Freeport, Windham, Standish, Casco, Bridgton and more. <

First-responder safety relies on adherence to Slow Down, Move Over Law

By Kaysa Jalbert

The accident in which four state troopers were struck by a drunk driver on Route 202 in Hollis on Sunday, Aug. 27, begs for some new light to be shed on Maine’s “Slow Down, Move Over” law that was enacted in 2007 and since has been largely ignored by some drivers.

Windham Fire-Rescue Chief Brent Libby says public safety
departments don't have enough people to help guide and
redirect traffic at an accident scene, causing many drivers to get
confused, distracted, and some become reckless s they try to
drive through or around an accident scene despite Maine's
Slow Down Move Over law. COURTESY PHOTO   
The “Slow Down Move Over” law mandates that drivers must slow down or pull over at the sight of a parked or a stopped emergency vehicle or if drivers see flashing lights and fail to respond appropriately, they can be issued a summons and fined $350 for not doing so under provisions of the law.

The driver in this latest incident, who appeared to be impaired by marijuana, hit and injured four Maine State Troopers who were standing near a driveway during an investigation on Route 202 in Hollis about 11:15 p.m. Aug. 27. One cruiser was parked in the driveway and two cruisers were parked along the eastbound breakdown lane with their emergency lights on.

According to Maine State Police, the four troopers had responded to a family disturbance and were conducting interviews on the side of the road in the breakdown lane when they were suddenly struck by the driver.

“People ignore the law because they don’t know what to do or because they are distracted,” said Brent Libby, Windham Fire-Rescue chief. “We will be on a scene anywhere, on any street in Windham and the road will be down to one lane and people will drive through the scene as there are people out working, tending to the injured and trying to clean up, and drivers will have their phones out trying to get pictures and videos of the scene while driving.”

Another issue according to Libby is that many local drivers don’t know any routes besides the one that they take daily, causing further traffic to build up right next to an accident scene.

Libby said that working outside on the road is just as dangerous as working in a fire because of the carelessness of many distracted drivers.

He said that efforts have been made by the Windham Police and Windham Fire Departments to reduce distractions and make the road a safer place for everyone in every moment and situation.

“We recognize that at night, the lights can be really bright, now in the newer vehicles you can notice that the lights go in park mode,” says Libby. “In park mode the lights will slow down and reduce intensity so that hopefully it’s not as much of a distraction at night.”

Libby says that public safety departments don’t have enough people to help guide and redirect traffic at an accident scene, causing many drivers to get confused, distracted, and some become reckless as they attempt to drive through or around the accident scene.

“The law states that you have to go around the scene and if you can’t, the law states that you have to wait, which we understand is a bit of an inconvenience to some people but that’s the safest way,” the fire chief said. “That’s for our safety and the safety of the people we are helping. We try and make sure we have someone out to help direct traffic, but we need people to guide them and give them more direction.”

The chief also stressed that drivers need to slow down before approaching an accident scene.

“It’s not just about going around, it’s also about slowing down then going around,” Libby said. “About 25 miles an hour may seem slow, but when you have people out moving around, that’s fast to someone that is standing still.”

Under Title 29-A §2054-9 MRSA, drivers passing a parked emergency vehicle with its emergency lights activated must pass in a lane that is not adjacent to the vehicle or, if doing so is unsafe or impossible, must pass at a careful and prudent speed. In this context, “emergency vehicle” includes, but is not limited to, police cruisers, ambulances, fire trucks, tow trucks, wreckers, and highway safety vehicles. In May, the Maine Legislature amended the “Slow Down Move Over” law to include slowing down to avoid any disabled vehicle or tow trucks in breakdown lanes. The law also requires drivers to pull over to allow public safety vehicles with flashing lights to pass safely on Maine roadways when responding to an emergency. <

WRAE invites community to learn how to preserve garden goodies

By Masha Yurkevich

As the days become shorter and the sun cooler, we wave goodbye to summer and prepare for winter. But you can still get a “taste” of your summer that you can pop open in the middle of the winter as Windham Raymond Adult Education (WRAE) will be holding a “Preserve the Harvest” canning class from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5.

Windham Raymond Adult Education is offering a 'Preserve
the Harvest' canning class from 5:30 to 8 p.m.Thursday,
Oct. 5 at Windham High School and will be led by Kate
McCarty, a representative from the UMaine Cooperative
The class will be instructed by Kate McCarty, an expert representative from the UMaine Cooperative Extension and it is open to any individual age 17 or older, who is interested in preserving the harvest from their summer garden. The class is scheduled to meet in the Home Economics room at Windham High School. There is a fee of $29 to register for the class and students are asked to bring a potholder and a materials fee of $20 cash payable to the class instructor.

Susan Garvin Colley is WRAE’s Enrichment Program and Marketing Coordinator and is tasked with creating high-value programming opportunities for adults in our local community. This includes seeking out instructors and class ideas and strategizing how to market those classes. The other significant portion of her job involves creating seasonal catalogs to promote these opportunities. She has been at Windham Raymond Adult Education for one year but has been doing this kind of work in other communities for 25-plus years.

“The class will focus on the basics of canning and freezing, including preserving foods,” says Colley. “Highlights will include the latest and safest recipes, equipment to ensure safety, and instruction on how to check for proper seals. Participants are welcome to bring their own pressure canner dial gauge to class for a free accuracy test.”

McCarty is a Food Systems Professional with University of Maine Cooperative Extension and will be leading this class. She teaches home food preservation to the public and manages the Master Food Preservers, a group of 60 volunteers who are trained to deliver home food preservation education in their community. More information on the Master Food Preserver training can be found here:

“I took the UMaine Extension Master Food Preserver training in 2009 and have been teaching community classes with UMaine Extension ever since,” says McCarty. “I also can at home. I like to make strawberry jam, dilly beans, (pickled green beans), and canned tomatoes. I also just made a delicious salted-caramel pear butter.”

She said that her goal for this class is to make sure anyone interested in home food preservation has the latest and greatest information in food safety, canning equipment, and research-based recipes and techniques.

“There are very real health risks if food is improperly canned, and so we want to make sure that anyone interested in preserving their own food at home knows how to do it safely and with confidence so they can enjoy what they make,” says McCarty.

For those who cannot make the Windham Raymond Adult Education canning class, there are many more offered around the state, so McCarty suggests that they schedule their hands-on workshop at

Anyone interested in attending this class in Windham should register online with the WRAE registration portal. The direct link for this class is:

“Calling our office at 207-892-1819 during daytime hours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. is also an option, as is just stopping by to register in person by Friday, Sept. 29,” says Colley. “We are located in the white building behind Windham High School. We hope folks will enjoy this class, and welcome any and all to share ideas for classes and instructors.”

Ideas, suggestions, proposals, and requests for future WRAE classes should be directed to Colley by email at <

Togue Derby anglers post record hauls

By Bob Chapin

The Sebago Lake Anglers’ Association successfully concluded their 8th annual Sebago Lake Togue Derby on Sept. 10, and the popular two-day event is the largest open water derby in the state of Maine.

Bruce Elliott of Naples displays a 13.67-pound togue that
he caught during the 8th annual Sebago Lae Togue Derby
on Saturday, Sept. 9 and hosted by the Sebago Lake
Anglers' Association. It won first prize for the two-day
event and netted Elliott a $600 prize.
This year there were 97 individuals who had signed up for the derby and they caught 182 togue to receive a ticket for the Togue Lottery prizes.

The top fish was caught by Bruce Elliott from Naples and weighed 13.67 pounds. He caught it on the Saturday of the event, and it held up to win the overall first prize on Sunday. This is the second year in a row this has happened to the derby’s leading angler and it netted Elliott a $600 payday.

During the event, there were several nice-sized fish caught and lots of togue that fishermen brought in that they did not want to take home. These were distributed to a church and prepared for a fish fry. Other fish went home with SLAA club members, and no fish or entrails were left at Sebago Lake State Park.

As the boats were coming in, it was not unusual to have multiple fish come off one boat, especially if it was a guide’s boat or one with multiple fishermen aboard.

The most abundant catches during the derby were turned in by Jesse Maltier and Lea Schwarz. On Saturday, they offloaded 57 fish and as if that wasn’t enough, on Sunday they brought in 33 additional fish for a total two-day catch of 90 fish. Many experienced anglers could not believe anyone could catch so many fish with just two anglers within the time limits of the derby, which ran from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Maltier was no amateur though. He cleaned up his boat and all his terminal tackle was placed out of sight before he came in. He did share the fact that he found a hole and fished it almost exclusively with a small jig (3/16 ounce) dressed with a sparse bucktail, and no bait as a sweetener, as several fisherman had said. SLAA derby organizers know that he fished legally because one of our members lives nearby and watched him from the comfort of his living room through a spotting scope having recognized his boat from the day before. Every five minutes either Jesse or Lea were boating a fish. Way to go!

In all more than $2,300 in prize money was dispensed at the awards ceremony or winners were mailed their prizes. Removing the togue from Sebago Lake was the objective of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to take the pressure off the forage fish, allowing salmon and brook trout a better opportunity to grow. Proceeds from the derby were used to pay out prizes and the remainder will go primarily to fund Youth Lifetime Fishing Licenses through the program that Maine operates to help get Maine kids outdoors and off the couch.

This derby is designed to be a family friendly derby with many payouts, and it is planned to engage families and regular fishermen, through guides with clients or by themselves. The 9th annual derby will be held next year on the weekend after Labor Day. Fishermen interested in participating in next year’s derby can sign up in area variety stores and tackle shops beginning Aug. 1, 2024. Look for signs announcing the exact times, dates, and places to register.

Any anglers wishing to join Sebago Lake Anglers Association are welcome to attend meetings which are held at 6:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Naples United Methodist Church, 1000 Roosevelt Trail in Naples. It is a potluck so bring your favorite dish to share.

For more information about the Sebago Lake Anglers Association, call 207-655-1028. <

September 15, 2023

In the public eye: Assistant principal proud of work at Windham Primary School

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

By Ed Pierce

The role of Assistant Principal at Windham Primary School is a responsibility that veteran educator Diana Jordan takes seriously.

Diana Jordan is entering her seventh year as
the Assistant Principal for Windham Primary
School. She is originally from West Baldwin
and is in her 27th year overall as an
A longtime teacher and school administrator, Jordan is entering her seventh year as the assistant principal at WPS this fall and her 27th year overall working in education.

Her duties at the school are vast and include assisting and supporting the school’s Behavior Specialist with parent, staff, and student communication; attendance; school bus issues; class lists; crisis planning; chair for Individualized Education Plans; major and minor disciplinary issues; and leading the school’s student support team. She is responsible for school scheduling, a school RtI member; answering student or staff questions; staff supervision and evaluation; and the evaluation of Special Education educational technicians.

Jordan also is a member of the school’s Response Team; Placement Team; a DEI Advocacy Team Member; a District A-Team member; and serves on various district committees.

According to Jordan, the best part of her job is helping to support WPS students, staff, and families.

“I love working as a team to meet the needs of our students,” she said. “We have the best students, staff, and community. My number one goal is to help support all the students, staff, and families. I want to be a positive influence and support for our students, and it is so important to take a team aspect towards the teaching of our students. I truly care about each and every member of our school and helping support the needs of our students is always my number one goal.”

The most challenging aspect of her work is not having all the answers and best solutions, Jordan said.

“I work hard to help students, staff and families to the best of my ability, but not having the best answers to support our students, staff or families when they need it is challenging for me,” she said. “I want to do what is best for our community, but sometimes I don't have the answers.”

The biggest misconception that people may have about her work is that she’s the school disciplinarian.

“I do have to work with students when there is a behavior concern, but I really take the view that we want students to learn from mistakes, take responsibility and make it right, and make different decisions next time,” Jordan said. “I also see my job as much more than just dealing with discipline. I serve many roles and those roles are always changing, which is one of the things that makes this job so rewarding. There is never a dull moment.”

She grew up on a farm in West Baldwin and attended Baldwin Elementary School, and then Sacopee Valley High School. After graduation from high school, Jordan earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Saint Joseph's College and then worked as a fourth-grade teacher in Lebanon with SAD 60 for three years.

She went on to work for SAD 6 as a fourth-, fifth-, and second-grade teacher before returning to Saint Joseph’s College to obtain a master’s degree in educational leadership and became a math interventionist as well as the first elementary Dean of Students for SAD 6. Overall, she worked for SAD 6 for 16 years before accepting the Assistant Principal position at Windham Primary School starting with the 2016-2017 school year.

Her family is supportive of her work and knows she’s doing what she loves, which is working with students, staff, and families.

“They also know how much I love to teach and being an assistant principal is allowing me to help support even more students and staff,” Jordan said. “They know that I love to help support people.”

The role of WPS Assistant Principal keeps Jordan extremely busy and no two days are alike.

“I also strongly believe that Windham Primary School is the best team of educators and community members around,” she said. “It has become even more clear to me that it truly takes a team to run a school and meet the needs of our students, staff, families, and community. All the members of our school community work together to make each day and year a success for our students. We as a school community take pride in doing what is best for our students and are always willing to improve our practices to support our students, staff, and community members.” <

RSU 14 schools undergo changes and improvements over summer

By Masha Yurkevich

When most people think about schools and summer vacations, relaxing and fun times come to mind. However, for the RSU 14 Facilities Department, this is certainly not the case and over a period of about 10 weeks, the summer deep cleaning, major maintenance, and improvement projects must be completed.

RSU 14's Facilities Department was busy over the summer,
replacing the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning)
system at Manchester School in Windham. HVAC systems
were also replaced at Windham Primary School and at
the Jordan-Small Middle School Office in Raymond among
other school improvement projects completed this summer.
“This is not an easy task,” says Bill Hansen, RSU 14 Director of Facilities, Property Services and Special Projects. “The seven school buildings have a total size of nearly 600,000 square feet and to make things more interesting, each building has summer educational programs and public use that the work must be coordinated around. Just imagine trying to change the oil in your car while you are driving it; that is how the summers go for the staff.”

Hansen said that the biggest challenge is that the start of school is a hard and fast date that does not move so there is no opportunity for more time to complete the work.

According to Hansen, summer cleaning activity is a huge undertaking.

He said that the work consists of cleaning all the floors and carpets, cleaning the furniture, cleaning the walls, and painting where necessary, washing the windows, waxing and buffing floors, and making minor repairs.

Staff must remove all the furnishings and items from each classroom space as part of the cleaning process. Floors are also replaced in spaces identified earlier in the year as part of the ongoing building maintenance.

The summer of 2023 was a particularly busy year for RSU 14 in terms of major school improvement projects and here are a few highlights regarding those efforts:

** The HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems were replaced at Windham Primary School, the Jordan Small School Office, and at Manchester School. A significant portion of the projects were paid by the Federal Covid funding, and the upgrades focused on improving indoor air quality by providing more fresh air, improved filtration, air conditioning, and energy efficiency through use of new energy recovery systems. Hansen said that the new equipment was ordered over a year before the work began and, despite this, some of the new equipment did not arrive until mid-August. These two projects were made operational for ventilation for the first day of school for the year and its final check out, optimization, and project completion is expected to be by the end of September.

** In addition to the HVAC work, the Manchester School site improvement project started this summer. Hansen said that this project will provide a tremendous upgrade to the school grounds site with more sports fields, additional parking, and the creation of traffic flow improvements that will include a new parent drop-off loop. He said that the project is also meeting a vital need of North Windham through the installation of a wastewater treatment plant. Hansen said RSU 14’s Facilities Department is anticipating that these improvements will take about three years to complete and the new ball fields at the school should open to the public in the spring of 2025 or the fall of 2024 depending on the weather and how well the fields develop.

Most summer improvement activities were completed in time for the return of students, Hansen said. The RSU 14 facilities staff, with the support from helpful contractors, have transformed the buildings into a clean, well-maintained environment so that school staff members and students can return to spaces ready for another school year. <

Volunteers indispensable part of Annual Loon Census

By Steve Craine
Raymond Waterways Protective Association

On July 15, more than 1,500 volunteers across southern Maine were out on the water at 7 a.m. for the annual loon census, including dozens in our region. Maine supports the largest loon population of any state in the northeast, and the census has been conducted under the auspices of Maine Audubon since 1983.

A loon sits on a nest at Panther Pond during the Annual Loon
Census conducted by Maine Audubon with volunteers from
the Raymond Protective Waterways Association in July. A
total of 22 loons and 5 chicks were observed on Raymond
lakes this year by RWPA members. SUBMITTED PHOTO    
Elwood “Woody” Beach, a longtime Board member of Raymond Waterways Protection Association, is a 30-year veteran of this impressive feat of citizen science. He served for many years as coordinator of area 2A, which includes about 30 lakes in Cumberland County. This role is now in the hands of Lisa Jones, who, like Woody Beach, lives on Raymond Pond.

This year, Woody, his daughter Linda Bible, and her husband Marty were in his boat from 7 to 7:30 a.m. that morning surveying the northern half of Raymond Pond, where they spotted a pair of adults and one chick. At the same time, Lisa was covering the south half of the lake and reported sighting three adult loons.

Mid-July was chosen to conduct the loon census because chicks that survive that long are most likely to make it to adulthood, Beach said. By autumn, this year’s chicks will be able to migrate on their own to waters that will not freeze, either the ocean or southern lakes.

“One half hour is long enough to get an accurate count,” Beach said. “You probably have noticed that early in the morning the loons are not moving around or diving very much so they are easy to spot.”

Volunteers on each lake decide how many people are needed to cover the area. One of the area coordinator’s responsibilities is to be sure each lake has enough volunteers ready to go on the third Saturday of July.

In advance of the census, Maine Audubon sends volunteers detailed maps showing exactly where they should count. Last year’s totals, from about 360 lakes and ponds south of the 45th parallel, were 3,050 adults and nearly 300 chicks. Many northern lakes, which support many more loons, have been surveyed by air.

This year the lakes and ponds in Raymond hosted 22 adults and 5 chicks including Panther Pond (8 adults/2 chicks); Crescent Lake (6/1); Thomas Pond (3/1); and Raymond Pond 5/1). This compares with 25 adults and 4 chicks in July 2022.

The count on Sebago Lakes has not yet been published, but last year volunteers reported 32 adults and one chick there.

Beach explained that with numbers so small it isn’t really possible to speak of trends, as there are always ups and downs. Statewide in Maine, the numbers counted have doubled since 1983, but it is hard to tell if this merely reflects the growing numbers of volunteers and lakes surveyed.

Raymond Waterways Protective Association is dedicated to preserving the quality of Raymond lakes and streams for people and wildlife. If all users of the town’s waterways succeed in keeping our lakes healthy, they will continue to provide good loon habitats.

The loons, with their striking appearance, fascinating behavior, and haunting cries, are iconic of the north woods and one of the things that keep drawing us back to the lakes year after year.
According to Conservation Biologist Tracy Hart, who runs the annual count for Maine Audubon, the annual count plays a critical role in raising loon awareness in Maine.

“Our loon counters often choose to become loon ambassadors on their lake or pond, helping to get the word out about fishing lead free to reduce loon lead poisoning, or traveling more slowly near loons and reducing boat wake to reduce collisions with boats or eggs being washed out of nests by wakes,” Hart said. <

Raymond resident joins Camden National Bank as Senior VP

Camden National Bank has announced that Matthew Witten of Raymond has joined the company as senior vice president, director of information security.

Matthew Witten of Raymond
has joined Camden National 
Bank as senior vice president
and director of information
With more than two decades of experience, Witten brings a deep understanding of how an organization’s commitment to maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of customer financial data empowers users to confidently utilize services without the fear of cyber risks.

In his new position, Witten will be responsible for maintaining the bank’s industry-leading security while staying ahead of potential threats. He will manage areas of significant risk, including information and cyber security, third-party vendor management, and business continuity and disaster recovery planning.

He will also be providing ongoing support to monitor and report on the results of the program’s components, chairing the Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), and serving on the Audit Committee, Bank Disclosures Committee, and Board Technology and Audit Committees.

“Matt has a proven track record of protecting customer data and strengthening cyber security programs for large companies,” said David Ackley, executive vice president and chief risk officer at Camden National Bank. “We are excited to welcome him to the Risk Management Team and to lean into his expertise to continue to enhance our data privacy and cyber security programs.”

Most recently, Witten was the chief information security officer for Martin’s Point Health Care for more than eight years. Prior to moving to Maine in 2015, Witten worked in the Louisville, Kentucky, region for numerous organizations, including the Louisville Metro Government and the University of Louisville.

Among other accolades and certifications, Witten received the “People Who Made a Difference in Security in 2018” award from SANS Institute, a cooperative for information security thought leadership.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Bellarmine University and a Master of Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Witten is actively involved in the community, currently serving as a board member for Goodwill Northern New England, and is a member of ISACA, ISC2, and FBI-InfraGard.

He resides in Raymond with his wife and two sons.

About Camden National Corporation

Camden National Corporation (NASDAQ: CAC) is the largest publicly traded bank holding company in Northern New England with $5.8 billion in assets and was proudly listed as one of the Best Places to Work in Maine, for the past three years. <

September 8, 2023

Windham Town Council’s recall charter amendment proposal fails

By Ed Pierce

Following last week’s unsuccessful council vote to enact a recall ordinance for elected public officials, Windham Town Councilors listened to public sentiment during meetings on Aug. 31 and Sept. 5 before deciding if a recall charter amendment should be placed on November’s ballot. The measure would have conflicted with a citizen’s group referendum already on the ballot establishing recall procedures, but with four votes required to advance the charter amendment, only three councilors voted for the measure and two voted against it and the charter amendment failed. Two councilors, John Henry and Brett Jones, did not attend the meeting and did not vote.

A proposed charter amendment establishing
recall procedures failed to garner four votes
during a vote taken by members of the
Windham Town Council on Tuesday leaving
a citizen's referendum as the only choice
for voters to consider on Nov. 7.
Supporters of the citizen’s group had collected 1,541 verified signatures on a petition over the summer to place its proposed ordinance on the ballot. The basic difference between a charter amendment and an ordinance is that an ordinance can be revised and updated by the council, but a charter amendment would require a lengthy process of up to three years and a public vote to adjust.

The citizen’s group referendum before the voters on Nov. 7 requires 25 signatures of registered town voters to initiate a recall petition, while charter amendment would have required a total of 75 to initiate a recall petition. Under the citizen’s group referendum, to get the recall on a town ballot and before the voters, it would require a threshold of 10 percent of participating voters in the last gubernatorial election, while the proposed charter amendment was asking for 15 percent of participating voters in the last gubernatorial election.

There were other differences including the number of days to conduct a recall election and limits on how soon a recall could be initiated on a public official after an election. To make the recall valid, the council’s charter amendment sought 25 percent of voters in the last gubernatorial election, while the citizen’s group referendum doesn’t require a percentage of voters from the last gubernatorial election.

All council members have said that their efforts to create a recall ordinance, and then a charter amendment, was not to compete against the citizen’s group referendum, but when they were informed in July that the group might not obtain enough signatures for their petition, they saw a need and drafted a more stringent ordinance and then a charter amendment. The council’s proposed recall ordinance failed Aug. 29 with a 3-3 tie vote and four votes required for passage.

Councilor Nick Kalogerakis said he was concerned about the charter amendment and competing against the citizen’s group referendum.

“To me Windham is on a dangerous path, and I think we need to decide to make some changes,” Kalogerakis said. “We can stay divided, there’s a big division in this town, and there’s two sides. I’ve reached out to the people’s group, and I’ve asked to put together an ad hoc committee to look at both the charter amendment and the people’s petition. What’s before us today is the charter and that’s town law and very difficult to change.”

Kalogerakis said he initially supported creating a council recall ordinance but ultimately thought because it would be less than 90 days before an election, that was too soon. He said he has reservations regarding the citizen’s group referendum but hopes that eventually issues about it can be ironed out.

“I think that we need to look forward and fall forward and I think we’re all digging a trench as to what we believe and what we want, instead of trying to work together,” he said. “So, I’ve reached out to the People’s petition to reach across the aisle in an ad hoc committee and find wiggle room and can we meet in the middle and come forward as a town.”

According to Kalogerakis, he thinks the numbers for the citizen’s group recall referendum are somewhat low, it lacks some specifics, and he does not want to see it weaponized, but he wants to see if it will pass in November and if so, how an ad hoc committee can compromise and resolve differences because all councilors agree that a recall ordinance is needed.

Town Council Chair Mark Morrison said he supported creating a charter amendment and voted for the measure.

“We agree that we need to put the best product forward and we need a recall ordinance,” Morrison said. “In my business, it’s all about risk. I looked at the ordinance that the citizens put forward and it was flawed. Flaws that would put the town at risk. A charter amendment addresses the flaws, and it is defensible according to the town attorney. We’re differing on the language.”

Morrison said he believes having the recall process and filling the seat at the same time are highly questionable.

“That’s not a risk I’m willing to take,” he said. “And in addition, when you recall someone there needs to be a clear statement as to why and an opportunity for that person to rebut.”

During the vote on the charter amendment, Councilors Kalogerakis and Bill Reiner voted no, while Councilors Morrison, Davis Nadeau and Jarrod Maxfield voted yes and the vote ended up 3-2 in favor of the amendment, but four votes were required for it to pass, and it failed.

The three authors of the citizen’s group recall petition said they are pleased that the charter amendment failed.

“I was glad the town council voted down their proposed charter amendment. It would have been a big mistake that would be very difficult to undo,” said Stephen Napolitano. “Now, Windham voters will have the opportunity to show their level of support for the People’s Recall referendum in November. Like most organizations, conducting town business with Code of Ethics guidelines can once again have meaning.”

Another petition author, Justin Whynot, agrees.

“The majority of the town council made a wise choice voting down their flawed recall charter amendment. The hastily written charter amendment would have been a mistake not easily undone. The People’s ordinance now goes to the ballot and once voted in, will be a way for voters to hold their elected officials accountable for their code of ethics,” Whynot said.

A third petition author, Kristen Day, said councilors did the right thing regarding the charter recall amendment.

“Council’s decision to vote no to moving their Recall Charter Amendment to the ballot to compete with the Citizen’s Recall Ordinance was ultimately decided in the spirit of unity and compromise,” Day said. “Councilors Nick Kalogerakis, Bill Reiner, and John Henry reconsidered their position in favor of proposing to form an ad hoc committee with us and Council to bring Windham together on a recall process rather than to compete. I understood the frustration of some Council members who wanted their language to move to the ballot, but it had problems, which is it is hard to amend a Charter Amendment. Ultimately, Council has the authority to amend the Citizen’s Ordinance should it pass, so the move toward compromise, all things considered, can be both a win for nobody and a win for everybody, which is definitely a step in the right direction for Windham.” <

Sebago Spirits Festival returning at new venue

By Kaysa Jalbert

The summer is winding down but not before the Sebago Spirits Festival comes back for another event packed with sipping on spiritous liquor from 10 different local distilleries as well as food, music and fun for community members and people from all around to enjoy.

This year the event will take place at Dundee Park in Windham from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16. Participants can expect live music from the band “Ragged Jack,” who recently announced they will be retiring at the end of this year. It makes this event a special opportunity for any fans of the band to see them play one of their final shows ever.

The local food truck Top Dog will be there with hot dogs, while a second food truck Cob's Dogs Street Food will sell burgers and pulled pork. The event will also have classic corn hole games and will include participation from a variety of local vendors. Etched Glass will be available with the Sebago Spirits Festival logo to take home as a special souvenir.

“When we decided to do the Sebago Spirits Festival, we thought that the brew fest seems to be done by a lot of different organizations, so we thought well, what can we do that’s a little bit different than beer?” said Robin Mullins, President and CEO of the Sebago Lakes Region of Commerce. “We know there’s a lot of great local distillers, so we decided to do something to power the local distillers and bring something different to the community and that’s how it all got started.”

Local distillers at the event will feature Baston River Brewing & Distilling; Chadwick’s Craft Spirits; Cold River; Hardshore Distilling; Liquid Riot Bottling Co.; Mossy Ledge Spirits; New England Distilling; Split Rock Distilling; Three of Strong Spirits; and Wiggly Bridge.

According to Mullins, distillers will bring their alcohol of choice and share favorite recipes. Some will make cocktails and others will have you taste their products straight up.

“You are one-on-one with the distillers, and it gives people an opportunity to find out more about the alcohol they are distilling and what the process is,” says Mullins.

“We want people to come and have fun and importantly, be responsible,” said Mullins.

The Sebago Lakes Region of Commerce launched the annual Sebago Spirits Festival in 2019 and has been sponsoring the event every year, even during the pandemic since the event is held outside. The festival has previously been held at Point Sebago, but that venue no longer hosts events that are alcohol related.

Mullins said that the Windham Parks and Recreation Department has helped move the festival this year to Dundee Park in Windham. She said the Chamber of Commerce is optimistic that the new location will be more accessible for those coming from distant locations such as from Massachusetts and Portland, and that goal is to also open up the event to new participants from the community.

A committee from Sebago Lakes Chamber of Commerce has helped to organize the event, along with local business owners.

The chamber is grateful for the help of committee members such as Linda Brooks of Windham Parks and Recreation Director, Ned Wight of New England Distilling, and Ruth York of Point Sebago, who enjoys the festival so much that she decided to stay on to help this year as well.

To attend the festival, you must be 21 or older and identification will be checked. No pets are allowed.

General admission tickets are $40 and can be purchased by visiting:

A reduced-price ticket will also be offered at a cost of $15 for people to come as designated drivers and still enjoy the music and vendors. <

Monitoring air quality an evolving task in Lakes Region

By Abby Wilson

With wildfires, pollen, and pollution in the air there is a need to document air quality in Maine and the Division for Air Quality Assessment is on it.

The Maine Division for Air Quality Assessment has been
quantifying atmospheric deposition and other elements in
the air in the Lakes Region from a site in Bridgton to
determine air quality while identifying smoke, pollen,
and other pollutants. COURTESY PHOTO  
When the EPA passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, it established criteria for what qualifies as a pollutant and identified the most prevalent types which impact human health and the environment. States, local governments, and tribes established programs to measure air quality.

Andrew Johnson, Division Director of Maine Air Quality Assessment, says that Maine has been quantifying atmospheric deposition and other elements for years.

The technology has changed over time from mechanical processes to electronic, he said. It can now obtain accurate minute-by-minute records of air concentrations in the state.

Here in the Lakes Region, the division measures atmospheric deposition which is simply precipitation and particles that settle from the atmosphere. It also measures acid rain or precipitation chemistry, which focuses on the chemistry as a whole and not just the pH.

There is an air quality station in Bridgton that has been responsible for measuring this chemistry since 1980 and called the Southern Inland Site.

“We have been meeting all the national air quality standards since 2004” says Johnson.

Even still, there are some concerns.

“Maine’s biggest air quality issue over the years has been ozone,” Johnson said.

Ozone is a gas normally found in the upper atmosphere but when it is found at the ground level it can do damage. High rates can affect crop yield. There was also an instance of pine needle damage seen in Acadia due to this gas.

Ozone was particularly high in New England in the 1980s. Large metropolitan areas such as Boston, New York, or as far as Washington D.C. are huge ozone emitters and high-pressure systems down the east coast can bring ozone pollution up to Maine because of air flow.

“It was like a river flowing in the northeast direction,” says Johnson.

He said Maine is now able to better understand the flow of the ozone, adjust models, and control emissions, so there has been a decrease over time.

Ozone gases can be found at an increased level in the summer when it chemically reacts with sunlight. Other pollutants have seasonal increases.

There are some areas with high sulfur dioxide levels during the winter because of heating fuel. Although today, Johnson said it tends to be lower because there is less sulfur in our fuels.

Carbon monoxide is often increased in the winter as well because vehicles aren’t as efficient during the colder months.

Perhaps the most interesting seasonal air pollutant is pollen.

“Pollen is naturally produced but affects quality of life for a lot of people,” says Johnson.

Historically there has not been a national standard for pollen and no funding for measurement projects.

But the division has been paying attention to pollen due to climate change.

“With warming climate and more CO2 in the air, plants will produce more pollen,” says Johnson.

The pollen potency will also increase as the climate warms, he said.

The season when plants are producing pollen is also going to increase with growing seasons starting earlier and running longer.

There is a need for a national network to measure the increase of pollen, and the Maine Center for Disease Control has advised the state to identify pollen measuring zones.

Maine’s Climate Council has been able to receive national funding to establish a measuring program. Four pollen sensors have been provided. The division is working out the technological issues and identifying the best spots to place them in the state.

Johnson says the goal is to have the sensors up and running for the start of pollen season or early March 2024. These sensors will allow the CDC to collect data and broadcast it in real time on a webpage for everyone to view.

Access to this data will help sensitive communities such as people with allergies to plan for high pollen days.

Air quality affects many in Maine but is also caused by people.

“Individual personal choices make a difference,” says Johnson.

Driving a fuel-efficient car is an obvious example but other choices have impacts you may not expect.

Light bulbs and car products used to contain mercury. Mercury is a global pollutant. It circulates in the air for a long time but when it rains, it can get into rivers and streams, is taken up by plants, bait fish, and fish we eat.

So, recycling the light bulb instead of throwing it away is a choice people can make to help prevent that mercury from entering the air, and entering our bodies.

Working for the division that forecasts air quality “has never gotten boring” says Johnson, “There are always new challenges.” <