July 12, 2024

Applicant withdraws solar farm proposal in Raymond residential neighborhood

By Ed Pierce

An eight-month initiative by residents in Raymond to oppose placement of a commercial solar farm in their neighborhood has resulted in the applicant withdrawing the project from consideration.

In October 2023, Allen Solar LLC proposed installation of a 1MW ground-mounted solar power generation facility on a residential property in the Pulpit Rock Road and Twin Pines neighborhood near Thomas Pond off Route 302. It spurred a months-long controversy between the residents and the solar company, ultimately involving the Raymond Planning Board and the Raymond Select Board.

Nature is rebounding from a
partial timber harvest at the
proposed site of a solar farm
on a residential property in
the Pulpit Rock Road and 
Twin Pines neighborhood 
near Thomas Pond off
Route 302 in Raymond
some 16 months ago. The
solar project developer has
withdrawn his application
to locate there.
Allen Solar, LLC submitted the proposal to the Raymond Planning Board and sought permission to locate the Mainely Solar facility on Roosevelt Trail on a lot owned by Scott and Aimme Allen with access to the project area through a lot owned by Scott Allen using the existing Raymond Marine entrance to Roosevelt Trail. The project was to be situated on 17,817 square feet of land and the company wanted to occupy about 6.8 acres located within the town’s Rural Residential District and portions within the Shoreland Zone, and Limited Residential/Recreation District.

The location itself is hilly, heavily wooded and filled with vernal pools, critical wetlands and streams that run downhill directly into Thomas Pond. It would have required approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for filling a small 325-square-foot wetland to support project access. The solar company planned to fence the property and proposed buffers and setbacks to be deployed to minimize visual impact.

Trees at the site were cut down to accommodate the proposed solar farm prompting project abutters to retain an attorney, and to file a complaint with Maine DEP regarding the clearing of trees inside of vernal pools and wetlands on the proposed project property.

Laurie Wallace, who lives next to the site said concerned residents discussed some of their objections to the project at the Raymond Select Board meeting in February and they voiced environmental concerns and placement of such a project in a residential neighborhood. The group requested a town moratorium on ground-mounted large solar projects but the select board said that was something for the Raymond Planning Board to do. During the Feb. 21 Raymond Planning Board meeting, board members requested more time to evaluate a minor change to the buffer for the project from 20 feet to 50 feet.

A vote during the March Planning Board meeting required that the applicant hire a landscape architect to perform a visual assessment from the perspective of several abutters. That happened in mid-April and the architects promised that the report would be furnished to the applicant within a month. The Planning Board also voted to require third-party peer review of the project to verify or discredit the evaluations performed on behalf of the applicant. Attorneys for the Town of Raymond, the abutters, and the applicant eventually hammered out a mutually agreed upon statement of work.

In an effort parallel to the peer review, a petition was started by some of the solar project abutters which would modify the Town of Raymond’s existing solar ordinance prohibiting commercial solar projects in the Rural Residential District and in Shoreland Zoning, effective July 2023. The petition received more than 500 signatures within 10 days, and it presented the Raymond Town Manager with those signatures on May 21.

Raymond residents had first approved a general solar ordinance in 2022 that allowed commercial solar arrays in residential zones. State law mandates that the proposed ordinance amendment must go before the public for a vote and because the petition was turned in too close to the town’s annual meeting on June 11, it was not able to be added to the town warrants because of mandatory public meeting requirements and printing constraints.

In June, abutters received a letter from Raymond Town Manager Sue Look that Allen Solar LLC had withdrawn its application, citing costs associated with connections to CMP and for Raymond Fire and Rescue's requirements for a robust fire suppression system.

“We support energy sources other than fossil fuels. But placing a commercial solar farm in this sensitive ecosystem can ultimately do more harm than good,” Wallace said. “The Thomas Pond watershed feeds directly into Sebago Lake, the source of drinking water for thousands in the Greater Portland region.”

Following the developer withdrawing the project for consideration, the Raymond Select Board voted Tuesday evening to recommend a vote to change Raymond's solar ordinance to keep commercial solar arrays out of the rural residential district and shoreland zoning.

The public will be able to discuss the ordinance initiative at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Raymond Broadcast Studio next to Jordan-Small Middle School. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.<

Dundee Dam gate failure could have lasting severe environmental impact

By Abby Wilson

Dundee Park is a highly valued gathering space for Windham residents and the surrounding community. The park features sports courts, swings, a picnic area with outdoor grills, and a beach along the Presumpscot River.

The current low water level at Dundee Park
in Windham as a result of a contractor's
dam failure could have a significant 
environmental impact on the area for
year's to come. PHOTO BY

This last attribute makes the park such a vital resource in the summer, but it is also the reason the park was closed last month.

In early June, the Dundee Dam which is a hydroelectric project on the southern end of Dundee Pond, experienced a gate malfunction resulting in extremely low water levels.

“‘I noticed that the river looked like there had been a three-day rain,’ said Mike Parker, a Windham resident downstream from Dundee Dam. “I went to find out where the mud was coming from.”

Parker discovered that the pond levels were very low and during this investigation, the owner of the dam appeared and explained that the dam had malfunctioned.

According to Parker, he was concerned because the park is a public access point to the river. He noticed that putting a boat into the water would be possible, but he said that it would be a nightmare because of the scramble from the water line.

“I visited the muddy exposure and walked it with a fisherman,” he said.

The fisherman told him that the fishing was good because there were many fish in not a lot of water and while on site, he caught a couple of small-mouth bass.

“There has been a change for the worse,” Parker said.

Michael Shaughnessy, the President of the Friends of the Presumpscot River, said the low water level now is troubling.

“It’s like somebody pulled the plug on a bathtub,” he said.

Shaughnessy confirmed that the dam owners went to make a scheduled repair on the upper gate, but the lower gate got stuck in the open position.

“All that sediment goes down and then shoots down the river,” he said.

The water and sediment drain through the gate and into the old rocky riverbed which is used as a trout spawning area.

“Any kind of spawning activity has been decimated by this,” said Shaughnessy.

There have been serious environmental effects but also economic impacts. Shaughnessy voiced his concerns about the resources that Dundee Park provides to the community.

“That’s where the town gives swimming lessons,” Shaughnessy said. He also commented that with a recent drowning in Westbrook, we are all thinking about the importance of learning how to swim.

“It’s important to have access to swimming lessons in a state that has as much water, and as much wild swimming possibilities as we have here. It’s more important than learning to ride a bicycle,” Shaughnessy said.

The community will feel the effects at Dundee Park with swimming closed this summer. but the surrounding ecosystem will suffer long-term.

“Biologically it’s set back for years,” Shaughnessy said.

He is advocating for the town to conduct an environmental study to determine the lasting and expansive impacts.

“You need to have upstream and downstream remediation,” said Shaughnessy.

This survey would also determine future costs of infrastructure or programs that are needed for the park, river, and pond to get back to full biological health.

“If they just focus on filling it up and think it will be just like it was and that won’t happen,” said Shaughnessy. “The major concern is the impact on the fisheries by virtue of the water level going down. Other wildlife will be impacted such as turtles, clams, and birds of prey. The biological life that was lake oriented has been destroyed. The silt is going down impacting the lower impoundment. It’s a lake and there’s lots of water over many acres, then it goes down and now it’s all dried mud. The things that can exist on the lake can’t exist in dried mud.”

The Windham Parks and Recreation Department website describes Dundee Park as “an attractive beach and picnic area with outdoor grills located in a picturesque and unspoiled site along the Presumpscot River.”

While the park reopened with a swimming ban on June 21, the future remains uncertain. Dundee Park may not currently be ‘picturesque and unspoiled’, but community support and environmental studies can help restore Windham’s favorite park. <

Volunteers still sought for Annual Loon Count on Sebago Lake

By Abby Wilson

Seeing a Common Loon is a joy to many, but there is one day each year when over 1,000 people set out onto Maine lakes to catch a glimpse of this bird.

Loons are spotted on Sebago Lake during last year's Annual
Loon Count conducted by Maine Audubon volunteers.
This year's event is Saturday, July 20 and more volunteers
The Annual Loon Count takes place on the morning of the third Saturday of July each year. According to Maine Audubon, the project organizing entity, 1,600 volunteers help out during this 30-minute survey.

Information on the Maine Audubon website says that “observations recorded by our community scientist volunteers provide an excellent ‘snapshot’ of Maine’s loon population.”

Audubon volunteers are tasked to set out on a boat to count loons on various lakes in Maine. But who else is involved behind the scenes to coordinate volunteers and the other aspects of the project?

Brooke Adam, Marley Cloutier, and Anne Heissenbuttel are Loon Restoration Interns for Maine Audubon.

Cloutier is a recent graduate of the University of New England’s Animal Behavior program and enjoys the subjects of ornithology and geographic information systems.

A large portion of this job entails monitoring nesting loons on lakes, which is important for many reasons.

"We have seen an uptick in lead poisoning,” Cloutier said.

“Fish Lead Free” is an initiative that encourages fishermen to stop using lead in tackle by facilitating exchange programs and delivering presentations. According to the Fish Lead Free website, “Lead poisoning is a leading cause of death for adult Common Loons in Maine.”

The Loon Restoration Interns assist nesting pairs of loons by installing rafts which help to mitigate challenges such as wildlife predation and boat wakes.

“There are two different types of rafts” says Cloutier. One is made out of a wire type material, similar to a lobster trap and the other is composed of cedar.

The rafts are floating platforms that contain soil, moss, grass, and sometimes small trees like willows to encourage better nesting productivity of loon pairs.

Some rafts have an avian guard which gives them coverage from birds of prey like eagles, but also to provide shade.

For Adam this year’s loon count is actually my introduction into a career of ornithology.

“This is a really fantastic opportunity to get my foot in the door for conservation,” she said. “We rely on volunteers to know what the pair is up to. They tend to be the first people that tell us when a pair is nesting, when a pair has arrived, when a pair gets on the natural nest or on the raft. A lot of it is up to our volunteers because we’re only a small team and we have this nice network to help us cover lakes all across Maine.”

The 2024 Annual Loon Count is scheduled for 7 a.m. Saturday, July 20. The interns will be helping to survey and coordinate for bodies of water including Sebago Lake- Maine’s deepest and second largest lake.

“Counting a lake the size of Sebago is a lot of work though as referenced by it only having been done twice in 40 years. Every year, the great challenge is to come up with the necessary number of counters,” says Brad McCurtain, the volunteer coordinator for the Sebago Lake Annual Loon Count.

With only two surveys to pull numbers from, there is not yet enough data to understand loon population patterns on Sebago Lake.

McCurtain says it is critical information right now as we’re trying to build a baseline of Sebago’s loon health and population.

“From there, the data can be studied, and we can better assess if what we’re doing now is leading to a growing, stable or declining population on the lake,” he said.

Cloutier said they still have a few spots left to cover on Sebago Lake. The lake has 49 survey areas and at least one counter is required per area.

“We are grateful to have returning volunteers this year on Sebago Lake and to have new interested parties that are enthusiastic about coming out this month. We encourage people to volunteer, get involved- it’s great for the community too. You get to meet a lot of people doing this.” says Cloutier.

Adam said the count is open to pretty much anyone so long as they have a kayak, paddleboard, motorboat, or any way to get out on the lake and survey.

“It’s really wonderful to see how many people really do care about the loons in our state. I sure did not know before I was involved in this project that there were this many people that really love loons and really want to see them succeed in Maine,” says Adam.

There are people that have been monitoring loons since the inception of the project in 1983. But new volunteers are encouraged.

To contact Maine Audubon and sign up to help out for the Annual Loon Count or to inquire about the volunteer needs of a lake near you, email the organizers at conserve@maineaudubon.org. <

Former Windham librarian publishes first book

By Masha Yurkevich

Nutrition is something we all want to work on, but one of the hardest parts is knowing how to prepare it. Is it ripe? Is it ready? Is it even edible? Diana Currier–McInnes is on a mission to change that with her first book called “Simply Produce.”

The former Children's Room 
Coordinator at the Windham
Public Library, Diana
Currier-McInnes, has
published her first book called
"Simply Produce." It offers
essential cooking methods
for vegetables and the best
ways to freeze fruits.
Throughout her life, she has had many interests and passions, but throughout all of them, she has always stayed focused on good health, whether it be herself or trying to help other people. She takes a very holistic approach, whether it be essential oils, teas, or, of course, eating well. Most of her spare time is spent reading and researching about food and other holistic health.

“It all started during COVID,” says Currier–McInnes. “I’ve been compiling the information for years and I said it’s either now or never. I took my information from a vast number of reputable books and sources and organized it into a simple, very easy to read guide. I wanted it to be very straight forward for people, because most people are too busy and want a quick answer right away. My goal was to keep it as short and sweet as possible with a lot of good and valuable information.”

Currier-McInnes is the former Children’s Room Coordinator at the Windham Public Library.

Inside “Simply Produce,” readers will discover essential cooking methods for vegetables and learn how to freeze fruits for long-term enjoyment. Seasonal availability charts help you make the most of nature's bounty year-round, while lists of organic and conventional options empower you to make informed choices. Fun tips and intriguing facts add an extra layer of fascination to your culinary adventures. This book will teach you how to select fresh quality vegetables and fruits, store the items properly to maximize shelf-life which includes the process of ripening fruits, options for cutting and preparing produce, and basic cooking instructions for vegetables and freezing methods for fruits.

“Simply Produce is your ultimate guide to selecting, storing, and savoring an array of 77 fresh vegetables and fruits,” says Currier-McInnes. “This user-friendly book, complete with vivid full-color photographs, puts the power of nutritious and delicious eating squarely in your hands.

This book simplifies the art of selection and preparation. With easy-to-follow steps and straightforward techniques, you'll gain mastery over the lifecycle of your favorite produce, ensuring peak flavor, optimal nutrition, and extended shelf life.”

Currier-McInnes knew right from the start that this book was going to be the first of many, a series Spark Health 360.

“I think this is a great way to start for anybody who wants to eat more fruits and vegetables. How do I do that? What does that mean? I want people to use this book for themselves to see that, ‘oh this isn’t so bad; alright, this is how you buy avocados, this is how you prepare bok choy’. I want to make people’s lives as easy as possible. I want to help them help themselves”, says Currier-McInnes.

She is currently working on her second book and there will be 10 books altogether, which will include all the other whole foods, such as grains, nuts, soy products, salts, oils.

“How do you buy them? Which ones are the good ones? Which ones should you stay away from? There are so many ‘wow’ moments that I’ve learned, and I can’t wait to share them with people to educate them,” Currier-McInnes says.

She aims to encourage and empower people to take care of themselves through her writing.

Food is not only about the health aspect, it is to be enjoyed as well, which is why Currier-McInnes is also taking this from a culinary perspective.

“It’s going to be delicious and nutritious,” she says.

But not everybody is ready to take this route, says Currier-McInnes.

“You can’t force something on someone; it’s more important that people take charge of their own lives and start enjoying their food more,” she says.

The “Simply Produce” book is available and can be purchased at all nine Sherman’s Maine Coast Bookshops. <

July 5, 2024

RSU 14 Backpack Program thwarts childhood hunger through take-home meals

By Masha Yurkevich

Studies have shown that even mild hunger can significantly impact a student’s school performance, behavior, and cognitive development as well as absenteeism, concentration and grades. This need was identified and thus, the RSU 14 Backpack Program was launched in 2011 as an effort to combat childhood hunger in our community.

RSU 14 is grateful for the support of community members
in funding the RSU 14 Backpack Program, which provides
food for children in need when school is not in session.
From left are RSU 14 Superintendent Chris Howell, donors
Bruce and Gail Small, and Marge Govoni of the RSU 14
Board of Directors. SUBMITTED PHOTO
“There are children that leave school on Friday and truly don’t know when their next meal will be, possibly not until Monday morning back at school,” says Ryan Roderick, District Chef for RSU 14. “The idea behind it was that although we may have a robust school nutrition program, there are still many more meals that school lunch doesn’t provide, most notably over the weekend.”

The Backpack Program is aimed at fulfilling that weekend need with nourishing snacks and easy to cook meals. Well–fed children are more energized and feel more secure, and this enables them to be better learners and have more success in school, Roderick said.

“The way the program works is we collect donations from the community, and we use those funds to purchase foods from various vendors. Hannaford has been a great partner over the years,” Roderick said. “We then have local volunteers that come by and pack the bags every week and our RSU 14 school staff help to make sure the bags get distributed to each school and child in need.”

Each bag generally includes some sweet and savory snacks, fruit cups, juice, shelf stable milk, cereals and a heartier meal option like macaroni and cheese, tuna, peanut butter, pasta with tomato sauce, and so on.

“My role in the program is to coordinate with Marge Govoni and purchase some of the food items from our other vendors,” Roderick says. “I also coordinate with our RSU 14 courier, Phil Hebert, to pick up and deliver the large orders from Hannaford. I also work with Marge to create our cycle menu; we wanted to make sure it has as much variety as is feasible in order to keep the offerings interesting. We often tweak it throughout the year, making sure to keep the costs as low as possible while still offering healthful and hearty foods that kids will eat and can feel confident in preparing themselves if necessary.”

The community can help in two very simple ways. The first is by donating; the rise in food cost over the years has been crushing for everyone and this program is no different.

“We do not accept food donations in an effort to be consistent and equitable with our offerings to the children” says Roderick. “We like to remind anyone who donates that every single cent goes directly to purchasing food and bags to put the food in, this program is run entirely by volunteers and there are no administrative fees or costs applied.”

Volunteering is another way that the community can help. If you are interested in volunteering to help pack bags on a weekly or intermittent basis, please reach out to RSU 14 volunteer coordinator Michelle Jordan at Mjordan@rsu14.org.

“The Backpack program is mostly in need of funding, we are currently looking for more regular donors, ideally local businesses looking to sponsor us and our kids,” says Roderick. “For reference, it costs us about $10 to fill a bag for one child for one weekend. It costs about $300 to fill bags for one child for the entirety of the school year. We currently help about 120 children across the RSU 14 school district.”

To be deemed eligible, a family can self-identify on the Free and Reduced form or directly, via phone call or email to the school nutrition program or their child’s school, teacher, counselor, administrator.

“We also have a team of RSU 14 staff that are trained and have experience identifying signs of hunger that can recommend a child for the program,” says Roderick. There is always an opt-out letter for recipients in the case that their circumstances change, or they feel they don’t require any additional help.”

Roderick says that he has learned a lot from being a part of this amazing program.

“I think it’s a wonderful example of the strength of our community and our school district and how much they care for the future of our children,” he said. “I think it also opened my eyes to a bigger lesson, even when it appears our towns may be thriving, growing, improving, there are still plenty of people and families that are just getting by, that could use just a little bit of breathing room in order to really succeed. And often it is those people, and those families that were given a lift that can then turn around and help the next person because they understand and appreciate how much it means.” <

In the public eye: Deputy Fire Chief a key component to public safety in Windham

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

By Ed Pierce

Windham Fire Rescue Deputy Fire Chief John K. Wescott never knows what he will encounter on each call but proceeds with the same level of commitment and service every time.

Deputy Fire Chief John K. Wescott has
served with Windham Fire Rescue for
22 and a half years and his job is to
oversee department operations,
provide town fire prevention and
inspections and to manage the
schedules of department personnel.
Wescott has served as a fulltime firefighter in Windham for more than 22 years and is tasked with overseeing department operations, fire prevention and inspections and scheduling of department personnel. It’s a tough assignment, but one Wescott continues to embrace with professionalism and expertise

“In my opinion being firefighter/AEMT is the best job in the world. I love what I do,” Wescott said. “Having a career as a firefighter is very rewarding and some may say it’s more of lifestyle than an occupation. There are many things that I enjoy in fire service, however, helping people when they need it the most is the most rewarding part of the job.”

He says working with the Windham Fire Rescue team is gratifying.

“In command school they always emphasized that your human resources are the most challenging part of leadership,” Wescott said. “In the Windham Fire Rescue Department, we have an outstanding group of men and women, and they make it easy for me in this respect. However, in command school they never taught scheduling. Scheduling folks in a combination fire rescue department is as challenging as it gets. There are many moving pieces to it.”

Born and raised in Westbrook, Wescott graduated from Westbrook High School in 1982. He went on to attend Southern Maine Vocational College where he earned a diploma in Machine Tool Technology. In 1996, he earned an Associate of Science degree in Applied Fire Science from Southern Maine Technical College and in 2014, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Administration from Columbia Southern University.

“At the time I applied to the Town of Windham I was working at the SAPPI paper mill in Westbrook as a sergeant in the plant protection department,” Wescott said. “My older brother was a call firefighter in Windham, and I always heard good things about their progressive department. I caught wind that they were creating a fulltime Deputy Chief position, so I applied.”

The time he spends on duty is demanding and his job is 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days every year.

“It’s a lifestyle that is not for everyone. You have to be committed and all in,” Wescott said. “I’m without a doubt certainly one of the lucky ones. I am wholeheartedly supported by my wife and our three daughters. My wife Jennifer grew up in a firefighting family that goes back two generations. Her father was the Chief of Westbrook Fire Department, and her three brothers were all in the service as well, so she understands the demands of the job. I’m very lucky and fortunate to have these folks in my life, and they are my support team. This includes their spouses and our 4 grandchildren. These are the ones that keep me grounded.”

According to Wescott, the biggest misconception people may have about his work involves fire inspections of commercial properties.

“Some may think that a fire inspection violation will lead to properties being closed or some type of fine,” he said. “This notion is far from the truth. Quite the contrary, the Windham Fire Rescue inspection model is to communicate, educate and help our partners in commercial business to make their properties fire safe. We want every business in the town to succeed but we also want the businesses to be fire safe. We will work with these businesses to solve their fire safety issues.”

Wescott says that through the years he’s learned that a job as a firefighter will humble you very quickly, and to succeed there must be a team effort, and not individualism.

“In the HBO series Band of Brothers, Dick Winters made the comment in his interview with the cast and said someone asked him ‘Are you a hero?’ and his answer was ‘no, but I served with a bunch of hero’s.’ The same metaphor holds true here in the Windham Fire Rescue, I work with a bunch of heroes every day.” <

Youth 'small business' concept thrives in Raymond

By Kendra Raymond

With temperatures climbing into the 80s recently and our thoughts wandering to all things summer: barbecues with family and friends, days near the water, and staying cool, what better way to find refreshment than a visit to a kid’s lemonade stand? Or how about a friendship bracelet or two? Raymond residents are in luck; several such small business stands are sprouting up all around our community.

Raymond children Addy and Olly Neal 
showcase their friendship bracelet
inventory at a roadside stand near
their home.

“Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert said, “If life gives you lemons, don't settle for simply making lemonade - make a glorious scene at a lemonade stand.” Even if you aren’t a lemonade fan, stopping in at a stand can be a positive experience for all involved. Why not take a minute out of your busy day to visit with the young entrepreneurs, give a donation, or make a purchase? Likely, you won’t regret it. Beyond buying a great product, you might just learn something new, make some new acquaintances, or even end up with a treasure you never knew you needed. Plus, it’s a great feeling to support youth development.

A set of young businesspeople in a Raymond neighborhood seem to have the system streamlined pretty well. The brother-and-sister duo can frequently be seen set up at the mouth of their driveway selling the most delicious ice-cold lemonade and sometimes packaged snacks. They have great signage and a lot of curb appeal. Customers are always impressed with their impeccable customer service skills. Plus, the youngsters are polite and friendly. What’s not to like?

At another location along the route, people often come across an industrious young lady and her younger brother selling some well-made loom band bracelets. Knowing that you can never have enough friendship bracelets, many make the stop. The bracelets are presented well, and in a variety of color combinations – something for everyone’s taste. I am always impressed with the proprietor’s commitment to maintaining an inventory, handcrafting skills, making change, and her polite and efficient interactions with the customers. Seems like a win-win to me.

“The best part about my bracelet business is hanging out with my brother,” said Addy Neal. She added that her three-year-old brother Olly is a great addition to the bracelet stand, lending a hand with setting it up. “He also yells, ‘Bracelets for sale’ which makes people stop,” she said. Their father Jake Neal agrees that the kids make a great team. He said that he is proud to see them working together.

In a different area of town, an iced tea, lemonade, and baked goods stand serves as a fundraiser for a local animal rescue group. The seller said that he’s been running the stand for a couple of years and that all money raised goes directly to help animals. He said that every little bit helps, and he drops off the donations about once a month.

“Lemonade Day” is an innovative program designed to support youth in starting their own lemonade business. It aims to develop skills in the areas of problem solving, communication, self-esteem, goal setting, philanthropy, and math.

The Lemonade Day website says: “Starting a lemonade stand can help kids develop important entrepreneurial skills, such as financial management, marketing, and communication. Through this experience, children can learn to create a business plan, set prices, manage inventory, and promote their product. These skills can be applied in future endeavors and serve as a foundation for a successful career in business. These are all key in knowing how to start a lemonade business.”

The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) website is filled with resources to support financial wellness in youth and provides education and programs to help parents teach kids about healthy use of money.

To learn more about getting started with a lemonade business, visit the Lemonade Day website: https://lemonadeday.org/blog/how-to-start-a-lemonade-stand

Visit the FAME website to access resources to help kids learn about money: https://www.famemaine.com/financial-wellness/grow-your-students-or-childs-financial-wellness/elementary/ <

June 28, 2024

Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing continues to assist local residents in need

By Masha Yurkevich

We’ve all heard that giving is better than receiving, but do we actually practice what we preach? Since 2019, the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing People has been serving our community and asking nothing in return.

Since its inception in 2019, the Sebago Lakes Region
Fuller Center for Housing has completed 45 projects and
currently has 14 ongoing projects for those in need in the
area. All of the labor is performed by volunteers who 
want to give back to the community.
Jim McBride and Diane Dunton Bruni are founding members of the Fuller Center, which started in 2019 with five participating churches and Saint Joseph's College. The goal was: to repair homes for senior, veterans, and people with disabilities so that they can remain in their homes safely.

McBride is a board member and treasurer for Sebago Fuller Housing, and he coordinates the project work and work with the families that they help.

Bruni is the chair and board president, and she is responsible to pull all the pieces together, family committee, volunteer committee, executive committee, public relations and marketing. Her role is to make sure that all of the pieces are working well together as well as speaking and telling the story and responding to requests of anyone who needs their assistance. Each day is new and very different and comes with its own challenges.

Since their start in 2019, the Fuller Center has completed 45 projects and currently has 14 ongoing projects. Their biggest project is to help a family whose 19-year-old son was in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down and he has no way to get in and out of the house.

“There had to be a ramp put on, but before a ramp could be put on, the deck of the house had to be raised seven inches,” says Bruni. “So, we tore the old deck down, built a new deck that was raised seven inches, and then worked with Alpha One to get the ramp. We then put the railings back on and painted the deck for them, but there is still some work left to be done on this project.”

They’ve also been doing lots of roof repairs as well as inside work.

More and more people are finding out what the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing People is doing for our community.

“As we are getting our name out there, we are receiving more and more requests from people every day,” says Bruni. “The awareness continues to build; more people are telling others about who we are and what we do.”

As the Fuller Center receives more applications, they work to prioritize which projects need to be done first.

“The young man who needed the ramp was in Boston Hospital and coming home, so that project moved up on our priority list because of the immediacy,” says Bruni.

All of the labor for all of the projects is free, unless there is a contractor or special expertise needed.

“The families that we support give back to the community by contributing what they are able to contribute to the cost of material,” Bruni says. “It’s called a greater blessing; it’s not a hand-out, it’s a hand up. They are paying it forward to help with another project.”

There are many ways that the community can help.

“We are currently raising funds for a $20,000 community campaign to raise funds for materials,” says Bruni. “We also have a gala celebrating our fifth anniversary on Oct. 1, and we are looking for action items for that gala, as well as advertisers for our program and donations. We are always in need of volunteers and someone who can refer a contractor to us; there are many needs and many ways that the community can help out.”

Bruni says that she is very proud of the team that has been working together since 2019 and is thankful for everyone who has helped.

“We are continuing to build the organization, continuing to raise awareness, and we are truly making an impact in the Windham, Raymond, and Standish communities,” says Bruni. “I feel so blessed to be a part of this.” <

Raymond-Casco Historical Society to present rattlesnake lore event

By Kendra Raymond

When you think of rattlesnakes, the mind wanders to southwestern areas, deserts, but mostly how to avoid them. Believe it or not, the term “rattlesnake” holds a significant piece of lore in the Town of Raymond history. Timber rattlers presumably inhabited the area in abundance prior to 1900 and one could even say the area was infested with the reptiles.

A presentation at the Raymond-Casco
Historical Society at 6:30 p.m. July 8
will discuss rattlesnakes and their
relevance to Maine's past.
The Raymond-Casco Historical Society will showcase that connection in an upcoming event entitled, “Rattlesnake: A Western Maine Story” at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 8. The free event will feature guest speaker Mike Davis, Assistant Director of the Bridgton Historical Society, who will tell stories of the past and chronicle the eradication of the timber rattler (Crotalus Horridus) in Maine.

RCHS president Frank McDermott says that Raymond had a large number of rattlesnakes in the past, so many that businesses were built around it.

“Most of the rattlesnakes were on Rattlesnake Mountain,” McDermott said. “The timber rattlers were so abundant that people actively trapped and milked them. They made medicines from it and ran entire businesses selling the products.”

He explained that so many people were actively selling things made from rattlesnakes that the practice eventually killed them off and they disappeared. The last known capture was in 1870. The decline is attributed to trapping practices, forest fires, and timber harvesting.

Local historian the late Ernest H. Knight chronicles several such stories in his book, “Historical Gems of Raymond and Casco.” Knight provides the history of the mountain and delves into the local fascination and use of rattlesnake oil. He wrote that Casco and Raymond were once a prime habitat for the critter.

Passages from the book explain: “At the time of the first pioneer settlers it was infested with this feared reptile and was the home base of those inhibiting the surrounding area. Some of the early citizens, notably “Rattlesnake Ben” Smith and John Cash who both lived on Raymond Hill, became proficient in the capture and usage. Ben Smith liked them and kept them as pets to carry about with him to show anyone who was interested, while John Cash caught them for their oil which he rendered from their carcasses and peddled to those needing a palliative care for rheumatism. Ben claimed to have found the way to remove the fangs to render them harmless. He removed fangs with the pincers he used in repairing his shoes and tested his protective theories on small animals, while peddling his snake oil liniment for rheumatism and other ailments of the hard-working settlers throughout the local area and at militia musters.”

Smith eventually married and raised a family on Raymond Hill. His children were adept rattler hunters and often kept pets in their bedrooms and used the skins as toys. Granddaughter Margaret Pummer actually had her own crotched snake pole and joined her grandfather on trips up the mountain. Despite his propensity toward herpetology, Smith eventually perished one night in the bed he shared with his beloved pets.

McDermott shared that Crescent Lake was originally called “Great Rattlesnake Pond” and Raymond Pond was referred to as, “Little Rattlesnake Pond.” He also shared the fact that Ben Smith, an original Raymondtown settler, ran a business selling rattlesnake oil, presumed to provide cures for medical ailments. Smith sourced his oil from rattlesnakes on the mountain near his farm, which he later named “Rattlesnake Mountain.”

As development progressed, the names of the lake and pond were changed as lots weren’t selling well on water bodies with such “unwelcoming” names.

McDermott said that event guests should plan to arrive early as a large turnout is expected and seating is limited.

“It should be a fascinating lecture lasting about 30 to 45 minutes,” he said.

RCHS offers an exciting visit including local history exhibits, demonstrations in the Watkins Blacksmith Shop, tours of the one room schoolhouse, and views of the classic vehicles collection.

The Raymond-Casco Historical Society is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. and admission is free. Donations are always welcomed.

The RCHS is located at 1 Shadow Lane in Casco, just off Route 302.

Check out the Raymond-Casco Historical Society and the Watkins Blacksmith Shop on Facebook or on their website at: https://raymondcascohistoricalsociety.org <

Raymond Waterways Protective Association conducts annual meeting

By Nancy Crilly-Kirk
Special to The Windham Eagle

The annual meeting of Raymond Waterways Protective Association was held at the Hawthorne House in Raymond on June 22 and the organization’s president summed up the accomplishments of the past year and challenges ahead, while the main speaker outlined an effective program to help lakes in Maine, and new board members were formally elected.

Guest speaker Susan Gallo, the executive director of 
Maine Lakes, told those attending the Raymond
Waterways Protective Association's annual meeting
that heathy lakes contribute between $4.2 billion and
$14 billion to the Maine economy each year.
RWPA President Wayne Eckerson said some of RWPA’s work this year began in March with planning and hiring for the summer. That includes hiring a Courtesy Boat Inspector Manager, Sarah Henderson, who is a Raymond resident and an adjunct faculty member in environmental studies at the University of Southern Maine.

Eckerson said Raymond Waterways oversees four boat launches throughout Raymond ponds and lakes, where paid and volunteer inspectors check boats for invasive species before they are launched to prevent the spread of invasives. As Raymond waterways are severally connected, the Courtesy Boat Inspection program is crucial to keeping all the town’s lakes and ponds healthy.

He also introduced board member Steve Craine, who will be managing the LakeSmart Program to control erosion for Raymond shoreland property owners.

According to Eckerson, a new emphasis will be placed on public education and he said efforts will be made to provide the public with readable, portable literature on how to preserve lake health. Sabre Yachts, of Raymond, for instance, will fund the printing of 2,000 cards, distributed at various local businesses this summer, that help new and returning visitors with information on how to keep the lakes healthy. Juliet Kirk, Raymond Waterways system expert, opened Raymond Waterways’ Facebook page on June 23.

Acknowledgements and gratitude were expressed by Eckerson to Peggy and Neil Jensen, long-time RWPA volunteers; State Representative and director Jess Fay, for organizing the meeting; Marie Connolly for her long-time service as treasurer and plant patroller on Panther Pond; Sibyl French and Bunny Wescott for their several years’ service patrolling and organizing the 66 volunteers who survey Raymond waterways for invasive plants, and a remembrance of Woody Beach, a Raymond Waterways board member and coordinator of the Audubon Society’s loon count for many years, who died late this spring.

During the meeting Neil Jensen said that it is not a question of “if” with invasive weeds and species spoiling our waterways, but “when,” and urged the RWPA to continue the CBI and invasive plant patrol programs.

Bob French, another longtime RWPA volunteer, pointed out the economic benefit of healthy lakes to all property and businesses owners in Raymond, even those who are not on the shoreline. A recent University of Maine study reinforced this idea:

As the guest speaker Susan Gallo, executive director of Maine Lakes, said healthy lakes in Maine contribute from $4.2 billion to $14 billion, to the Maine economy each year.

Gallo also presented information about the LakeSmart Program, which Raymond Waterways has adopted this year. Her points included praise for Raymond Waterways for existing out of 2300 Great Ponds over 10 acres in Maine, only 100 have lake associations for lake health—and for RW’s commitment to lake health.

She also said that erosion, even more than invasive species, is the biggest threat to Raymond lakes and ponds. It encourages algae, which not only clouds lake health, but can be dangerous to animals, and humans.

Raymond Waterways will send experts to your Raymond lakefront property to evaluate and advise you how to decrease erosion in a non-regulatory, non-enforcing way. Every consultation is free and non-binding, and no reports by the volunteers in LakeSmart will be sent to any regulatory agencies. As one of the LakeSmart experts said, “What Have You Got to Lose?”

LakeSmart seeks to discourage the “suburban norm of lawns to lakefront”—the idea that lakefront properties have to look like owners’ other houses in the suburbs. That lawn culture increased with the influx of new lakefront owners during the pandemic. Lawns, more than native forest and shrubs, add considerably more phosphates and other chemicals to lake water.

Some residents of Turtle Cove on Sebago Lake brought up the continuing issue of invasive Asian Milfoil in their part of the lake. The Town of Raymond has taken over that work and hired a private contractor but the problem seems to persist.

Jennifer Danzig, of the Thomas Pond Association, urged Raymond registered voters to attend the Tuesday, Aug. 13 Raymond Select Board meeting at 5:30 p.m. to vote to change the solar ordinance to limit large-scale commercial solar projects on Raymond shorelines. For more info, contact Laurie Wallace at rwallac23@gmail.com.

RWPA members in attendance also unanimously elected:

· Angelo Conti, a graduate of Unity College with a degree in Environmental Studies, and an avid angler, who oversees the CBI program,

· Juliet Kirk, a Columbia graduate and mechanical engineer with a specialty in systems and part of a family that has owned camps on Panther for more than 100 years

· Peter Rowland, a Tufts graduate and Sebago Lake resident, who has agreed to be Treasurer for the board.

See the raymondwaterways.org site for more information on the LakeSmart program and other information about Raymond lakes and ponds.

Raymond Waterways is hiring Courtesy Boat Inspectors.to check boats entering Raymond lakes and ponds at public boat launches on Panther Pond, Crescent Lake, Thomas Pond and the Raymond part of Sebago Lake for invasive species, and to help educate the public about the importance of safe practices to keep the lakes healthy. Inspectors must be 16 or older and enjoy spending time outdoors and meeting people. Part-time with some flexibility in hours. Inspection shifts are mostly (but not entirely) on weekends and holidays throughout the summer. The pay is $18/hour. If interested, please contact cbi@raymondwaterways.org

A non-profit association dedicated to protecting and improving the water quality of Raymond's lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams and fostering watershed stewardship for the benefit of residents and visitors to the area, visit the Raymond waterways website at raymondwaterways.org <

Volunteers sought for Annual Loon Count on Sebago Lake

At 7 a.m. Saturday, July 20, for just 30 minutes, 1,600 of your Maine neighbors will quietly arrive on lakes and ponds throughout the state to count Maine’s loons.

Maine Audubon is actively seeking 50 volunteers to help
count loons and loon chicks on Sebago Lake during the
state's official loon count on July 20. COURTESY PHOTO
The single, largest contingent of Maine’s counters, about 50 volunteers, will be counting one of New England’s largest and most popular bodies of water – Sebago Lake. Want to be a part of this year’s count? Organizers are actively looking for help.

For 38 years, counting Sebago Lake’s 100-plus miles of shorefront, nearly one trillion gallons of fresh water, and 49 separate survey areas represented a huge challenge to Maine Audubon. Despite the efforts of many, the entire lake was never fully counted.

That meant that the work of volunteer counters around the lake who had faithfully counted loons in their neighborhoods over the years was never eligible to appear in the ‘official’ records.

In 2022, Sebago Lake resident Brad McCurtain was intrigued by the challenge. McCurtain had never participated in any of the prior Maine Audubon counts. Maine Audubon gave him a list of six other lake residents with counting experience and asked him to become the lake’s coordinator.

He invited each of those six individuals to a ZOOM meeting asking for their ideas. They quickly became inspired and determined to create a plan to cover all of Sebago Lake that year.

It was apparent that counting a body of water as massive as Sebago Lake clearly is not the work of just a handful of people. It would take a village -- seven villages in fact.

Counters were recruited from each of the seven communities that border on Sebago Lake. The counters soon grew beyond lake residents. A number of them don’t live on or even near Sebago Lake. But they all love the lake, are enchanted by the loons, and want to be a part of the count.

The result was Sebago’s first-ever, full count in 2022 with some 50 volunteers appearing at 7 a.m. sharp on the day of the event to quietly count loons on 30,000 acres of water over the next hour. That year they observed 32 adult loons and a single chick.

Last year in 2023, the group returned with more volunteers and observed 44 adult loons on Sebago Lake.

“It is pretty incredible to look out over Sebago and view dozens and dozens of watercraft slowly, quietly, and methodically trolling the entire lake early on a July morning for one purpose: to observe and to count the lake’s loons,” McCurtain said. "No other count in Maine is quite like Sebago’s.”

The group will be back on Sebago Lake counting again at 7 a.m. sharp on Saturday, July 20. A few of Sebago Lake’s survey areas are expected to open up for new counters.

Anyone with a motorboat, canoe, kayak, or SUP has an opportunity to join in the experience including individuals, families, neighbors, and friends.

To sign up to participate, send an email to SebagoLoons@gmail.com

"The loons are counting on us," McCurtain said. "We’re going to be counting them.” <

Windham’s fireworks ordinance requires users to obtain burn permit

By Ed Pierce

Since 2016, the Town of Windham has had a fireworks ordinance in place, and it mandates rules to be followed for both commercial and residential use of fireworks.

Windham's fireworks ordinance requires users to obtain a
burn permit and lists the only days this summer, July 3
and July 4, that consumer fireworks may be discharged 
within the town. COURTESY PHOTO   
Under provisions of the fireworks ordinance, a burn permit must be obtained from the Windham Fire-Rescue Department for anyone wishing to use, display, or discharge consumer fireworks. An individual may use consumer fireworks only on their own property or on the property of a person in Windham who has consented, in writing, to the use of consumer fireworks there.

Members of the Windham Town Council enacted the ordinance citing fire safety protection and to prohibit fireworks use at all hours of the day and night while also standardizing which types of fireworks can be used in the town.

Using fireworks is very dangerous, there are no specifics based on the ordinance,” said Chief Brent Libby of the Windham Fire-Rescue Department. “Over the years Windham has had injuries and fires on decks, structures and woods as a result of the use of fireworks.”

Libby said the ordinance lists the days and times when fireworks may be set off in Windham.

“It is important to note that fireworks require a burn permit and is contingent on the fire danger,” Libby said. A permit can be obtained by going to https://www.windhammaine.us/193/Open-BurningBurnFireworks-Permits

He said that when completing the burn permit indicate a residential permit, in the “burn location on the property field” and to indicate specifically it’s for fireworks and where they will be set off from. In the “type of items to burn” indicate “grass less than one acre.”

According to Libby, the Windham Fireworks Ordinance requires that fireworks are to be used between noon and 10 p.m. July 3 and until 11 p.m. on July 4. Fireworks that are discharged must be a minimum of 150 feet from a building or structure and may only be used on property owned or with consent in writing from the owner.

Violations of the ordinance can result in a civil fine of not less than $200 nor more than $400, plus public safety response costs.

The town’s fireworks ordinance was created based upon recommendations from the Office of State Fire Marshal, the Maine Forest Service, and the Town of Windham.

Under the ordinance, Helicopters, Aerial Spinners, Skyrockets, Bottle Rockets, and Missile-Type Rockets are prohibited by a State Fire Marshal rule and all users, and those in possession of consumer fireworks must be 21 years of age.

Recommended practices for fireworks outlined in the ordinance include:

• Setting off fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from houses, dry leaves, or grass and other flammable materials.

• Keeping a bucket of water nearby for emergencies, do not handle fireworks that fail to go off. Using a long-handled shovel to scoop up the firework and immerse it in a bucket of water.

• Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.

• Be sure other people, children and pets are out of range before lighting fireworks.

• Never light fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.

• Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.

• Always use fireworks according to the manufacturer’s directions and guidelines.

• Always use eye, ear, and hand personal protective equipment when discharging fireworks.

• Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting it.

• When the use of fireworks is over, continue to watch the area of use to be sure that all fireworks debris is out and not smoldering or hot.

• Search all areas adjacent to and downwind of the fireworks ignition site looking for hot or smoldering debris. Scan the tree canopy, as well as the ground. If a wildfire occurs as a result of negligence, then you may be responsible for fire suppression costs.

• In case of an emergency, dial 911. <

June 21, 2024

Raymond approves new tennis and pickleball courts for Sheri Gagnon Memorial Park

By Joanne Terrasi

When it’s time to get to the courts, where do you go to play tennis or pickleball? It won’t be far for residents of Raymond when the Sheri Gagnon Memorial Park expansion becomes reality.

Plans are under way to install two tennis and two
pickleball courts at Sheri Gagnon Memorial Park
in Raymond. A meeting of the town's Planning
Board will further discuss the project on July 10.

Last year, the members of Raymond’s Budget-Finance Committee and Planning Board approved two tennis and two pickleball courts for Sheri Gagnon Memorial Park, according to Raymond Parks and Recreation Director Joe Crocker. Crocker said the town was granted a $500,000 bond to fund the capital improvement project.

“We did it, but the tough part is the implementation,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been working on for about year.”

Pickleball has grown in popularity as a racket sport, and so too has the town’s Parks and Recreation Department program. The sport’s outdoor program has been using the park’s basketball court to line for pickleball and players are bringing their own nets.

“I’ve never seen a sport grow so fast,” he said.

It may have a funny name, but pickleball is a serious sport and Raymond Town Clerk Sue Look said she had no idea it was that popular.

“When they told me how many people were playing pickleball, I couldn’t believe it,” Look said.

The site plan for the new courts was submitted on behalf of Raymond Parks and Recreation last March, by Sebago Technics of South Portland. The project was scheduled to appear before the Planning Board on June 12 but was postponed until July 10.

Crocker said there was “some confusion,” when exterior lighting was excluded from the building plans.

“We’re putting it in, but we need to make sure we have enough funds for the courts first,” he said.

The two 78-by-36-foot tennis courts and two 44-by-20-foot pickleball courts will be built on the southwest side of the basketball court. A connecting foot path from the parking lot will extend the existing basketball court path to the new fenced-in courts.

One of the park’s existing baseball fields will be removed to accommodate the design, but there’s no chance of a turf war, according to Crocker. He said the baseball field was used by middle schoolers and the numbers have “dwindled” in size recently. But apparently, the field always has had some issues with drainage.

“It’s a swamp,” Crocker said. “Last November the adults played flag football there and it was a mud pit.”

A neighbor of the park, Jennifer McCarthy, said she had heard about the new tennis and pickleball courts and she thinks “it’s great.” McCarthy frequents the new playground that the park installed last month with her young girls, Sloan, 2, and Lettie, 1.

“We love the playground,” she said.

Raymond resident Isaac Ormberg, 17, works in the park’s neighborhood at The Good Life Market. The new courts sound “awesome” to Ormberg.

“I might go to check it out,” he said. “I played pickleball before and it’s fun, it’s like tennis and Ping Pong.”

Pickleball is a combination of tennis, Ping-Pong and badminton. The nets are lower than tennis and the courts are about one-fourth the size. And, with less sprinting involved, it has become a favorite among adults. In 2023, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association deemed pickleball the fastest growing sport in America for the third consecutive year.

The project will be going out to bid soon, but Crocker said they have a local contractor in mind for the job who has built most of the courts in the area.

“Once the courts are put in, youth tennis will be the big new addition,” he said.

Crocker belongs to the United States Tennis Association (USTA) for the Tennis in the Parks Program, a foundation known for its dedication to player development. He said he would like to see youth players in Grades 1 through 8 become involved and have a chance to compete for a national tennis championship.

“That’s my next project,” he said.

Beginner/intermediate and intermediate/advanced outdoor pickleball runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and is for adult players only. Sessions for first-time players resume in the fall. Adult basketball runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and all players must register.

To register for any of the programs offered by Raymond Parks and Recreation, visit https://raymond.recdesk.com/Community/Home <

In the public eye: Windham’s new Communications Director settling into new role

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

By Ed Pierce

Roger Cropley II is new to his role as the Communications Director for the Town of Windham, but integral to how the public perceives town activities, services and events.

Roger Cropley II is the Town of Windham's
Communications Director and has extensive
experience in videography. He has launched
a monthly town newsletter and is responsible
for developing a cohesive multi-channel
communications strategy for the town.
He has extensive experience in videography and applied for the communications position when it was created by Windham Town Council members less than a year ago.

“I’ve worked for the town since 2018. I started as a custodian as a way to supplement my freelance video editorial income, and then transitioned to this position when it was created in 2023,” Cropley said. “I had been exclusively a freelancer since 2004, and as my contacts within the area’s advertising community moved on or aged out, I was left with a dwindling amount of work. I still loved and still love editing but it was beginning to become harder to make a living with that alone.”

In his new role, Cropley will be tasked with developing a cohesive multi-channel communications strategy for the town, preparing all communications materials and creating a trustworthy voice while maintaining integrity across all town platforms.

“This is a new position within the town, so my duties are evolving, but they include gathering relevant information from other departments and posting that info to the town’s website and social media accounts,” he said. “I shoot video and stills for town events or other newsworthy happenings within the town and then either create pieces for the new monthly newsletter or for the town’s YouTube channel. I also create promotional material for the town to attract tourism and create business interest in Windham.”

Being a video guy, Cropley says he loves making videos for the town, but creating magazine ads and improving his writing skills due to the demands of a monthly newsletter are certainly highlights of his new job because he enjoys the creative challenges involved with those.

“The most challenging part of the job is two-fold,” he said. “One is staying on top of all the goings on within the town and second is combating the misinformation that always seem to permeate the social media platforms.”

Originally from Lincoln, Maine, Cropley became familiar with the area when he attended Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in 1985.

“I didn’t finish my school there, I transferred to UMaine and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications with a concentration in Broadcast Production,” he said.

During his professional career, he’s edited hundreds of local, regional and national commercials including ads for Maine Tourism, Hardy, Wolf and Downing, and Sylvania.

“I’ve edited a television show for TLC with Maine-based organic gardeners called ‘Gardening Naturally’ and recently, while working as a custodian for the town, two feature films. One was shot here in Maine starring Tom Berenger called ‘Blood and Money’ and another called ‘Dangerous Waters’ was Ray Liotta’s last performance.”

According to Cropley, learning that he had landed this new position has been his most memorable moment in working for the town to this point and what he likes the most about his new job is getting to be creative while learning and disseminating information to the public.

“Since this is a position that hasn’t even been around for a year, I’m not sure people even realize my position exists,” he said. “I hope though that they have noticed an increase in the amount of information that is being put out by the town. I hope that they realize that I am just trying to give them the facts about things happening within this community.”

He said he now has a clearer picture of what it takes to operate a municipality of this size and to keep it running efficiently no matter what the circumstance.

“I guess the most important thing I’ve learned is that running a town is a very complicated endeavor,” Cropley said. “It requires a large and qualified group of individuals using their expertise not only to perform the duties that keep the town moving but also to make decisions that will impact the town for years to come, and that all decisions are made with the intent of adding to the quality of life of Windham’s residents.” <

Windham residents approve 2024-2025 municipal budget

By Ed Pierce

Windham voters approved a municipal budget of $34,922,971 for 2024-2025 and other associated warrant articles during the annual town meeting on June 15 at the Windham Town Hall Auditorium.

Windham Town Councilors vote for a warrant article during
the Annual Town Meeting on Saturday, June 15 at Windham
Town Hall. From left are Councilors John Henry, Bill
Reiner, David Nadeau, Jarrod Maxfield, and Nick
Kalogerakis. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE 
Warrant articles also approved during the meeting authorized the issuance of general obligation bonds up to $13 million to finance the design, engineering, construction and an analysis of operations and assessments for a sewer system to serve RSU 14’s campus including Windham High School, Windham Middle School and Windham Primary School. Another warrant article that voters supported is the execution of agreements with the Portland Water District in connection with the financing, constriction, ownership, operation and maintenance of the RSU 14 campus sewer system.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said these actions are part of Phase 2 of Windham’s installation of sewers as approved by voters during a referendum in June 2022.

He said this new system will result in the existing Wastewater Treatment Plant at Windham High School being closed and the new plant at Windham Middle School will be used to pump wastewater to the new treatment facility at Manchester School in North Windham.

According to Tibbetts, Phase 1 of the sewer installation has about a $4 million shortfall because of construction cost and materials increases, but a warrant article approved by voters at this meeting allows the town to issue a bond of $4 million through the state’s Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. In doing that, the shortfall will have no impact for taxpayers.

Tibbetts said the new municipal budget will also allow the town to add four new firefighter/emergency medical technicians, two of them funded in the budget and two funded by grant.

“The intent is to reduce overtime and per diem costs of firefighters and EMTs,” he said.

Other town personnel actions approved in this new budget include hiring a Public Works Operational Manager to offer more efficiency for that department and making the Windham Police Department’s Community Resource Liaison a full-time position. The Community Resource Liaison position provides additional support to individuals struggling with mental health or substance use and up to now has been a shared position between the Windham and Gorham Police Departments.

Funding approved in the budget also will allow the Windham Fire/Rescue Department to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatus and equipment for $535,000 and to acquire land located at Cherry Lane adjacent to Gambo Soccer Fields for $750,000. The new budget also includes up to $750,000 for the paving and repair of 10 local roads.

The budget also awards $850,000 to the Windham Fire/Rescue Department to purchase a new fire engine, up to $400,000 for adding additional space and making improvements at Smith Cemetery. Funding included in the budget also will allow the town to complete work on the heating and cooling systems at Windham Town Hall, create new additional trails at the East Windham Conservation Area, award town employees a 4 percent wage increase and to finish sidewalk projects under way in South Windham along Gray Road.

Approval of the budget also authorizes $3.5 million to create a sidewalk on Windham Center Road from Windham High School extending to the site of the new Windham Middle School. Tibbetts said $1.2 million of that cost will come from grants, so that expense will be reduced when completed.

After the meeting, Tibbetts said work on formulating the annual town budget began in December and proceeded to a goal-setting session with Windham Town Council members in January. In February, Tibbetts met with town department heads to streamline budget requests before the Windham Finance Committee reviewed the preliminary budget before it was formally presented at a Town Council meeting in April and a Public Hearing was conducted at a town council meeting in May.

“Now that the budget has been approved by voters, we have to get to work,” Tibbetts said. “There’s a lot of nice things in this budget but there’s a lot of work left to be done.”

He said among things still to be decided in the future are choosing the best location for a new fire station and what to do with the current Windham Middle School building once the new Windham Middle School building opens.

At the start of the town meeting, Windham resident and former Windham Town Council member Tim Nangle, who currently serves as a Maine State Senator, was elected as moderator to preside over the gathering. <

Book Awards pay tribute to outstanding WHS juniors

By Ed Pierce

Before the 2023-2024 school year ended at Windham High School, a schoolwide assembly on June 5 paid tribute to outstanding students for their emphasis on academics and deep commitment to community involvement.

Windham High School's Ahlam Nure is the 
recipient of this year's University of Rochester
Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award
which was presented during the school's
University Book Awards assembly earlier
this month. COURTESY PHOTO 
According to Phil Rossetti, Windham High School assistant principal, the University Book Awards are presented at the conclusion of each school year to top students in the junior class.

Rossetti said that each year universities and colleges in America partner with secondary schools such as Windham High School to recognize exceptional high school juniors. Each University Book Award focuses on a specific area of academic achievement and excellence, such as service to the community, music and the arts, distinction for academics and community advocacy.

“The awards honor distinguished juniors at Windham High, giving them a chance to gain a wider look at the world they live in, and to connect outstanding students with schools of higher learning,” Rossetti said. “Collegiate Book Awards are given annually to top-achieving students in the junior class. Each college or university establishes rigorous criteria and seeks feedback from high school faculty and administration to identify the worthy recipient of each award.”

Here are this year’s Windham, High School 2024 University Book Award recipients:

Hannah Bowker and Jordyn Davis-Belanger, Suffolk Book Award. This award is presented to a student who shows dedication to learning in the classroom as well as to their school community through extracurricular involvement and volunteer positions.

Bella Bragdon, St. Michael's Book Award. This award recognizes a National Honor Society member who shows a sustained and sincere commitment to community service, issues of peace and justice, and concern for others.

Noah Campbell, St. Anselm College Book Award. This distinction is presented to a student that demonstrates academic success and exceptional leadership qualities in the area of civic engagement.

Ethan Chen, Harvard Book Prize and the University of Rochester Xerox Award for Innovation and Information Technology. The Harvard Book Prize is awarded to a student with excellence in scholarship and high character, combined with achievement in other fields. The University of Rochester Xerox Award for Innovation and Information Technology is presented to a student with a strong interest in innovation and/or information technology and a high level of achievement in this area.

Luke Cunniffe, Elmira College Key Award. This award is given to a student who demonstrates outstanding school and community leadership.

Joseph Donnelly, Rochester Institute of Technology Business and Leadership Award. This is presented to a student with high academic achievement who is involved in the school and community and demonstrates innovation, leadership, and success in business-related classes.

Abigail Dumont
, University of Vermont Citizen Scholar Award. This award recognizes a student with high achievement in a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and who has made a contribution to their school or community.

Carter Engelman, Renssalaer Medal. This honor is awarded to a student who has excelled in advanced math and science courses, demonstrates potential for success in a challenging academic setting, and exhibits significant involvement in extracurricular activities.

Ethan Fletcher, Clarkson University Leadership Award. This distinction is presented to a student with an interest in Engineering, Business, Science, or Liberal Arts who demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities and is a positive contributor to the school and community.

Braycen Freese, Rochester Institute of Technology Science and Math Award. This is awarded to a student with high academic achievement who is involved in the school and community and demonstrates success and interest in the STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math) field.

Lukas Hammond
and Hannah Lee, Russell Sage College Student Sage Award. This award recognizes a student who makes school an exciting, creative, and engaging place of learning, possesses powerful communication skills, is actively involved in the community, and inspires others to develop and grow.

Levi Hayman
and Tayla Pelletier, University of Southern Maine Book Award. This award is presented to a student who has demonstrated great determination and persistence in the accomplishment of goals in academics, leadership, community and/or extracurricular activities.

Brianne Johnsen, Elmira College Key Award. This honor is given to a student who demonstrates outstanding school and community leadership.

Zocia LaWind, Bowdoin Book Award. This award recognizes a junior who demonstrates extraordinary service to the common good, a commitment to the study of the environment and lives life with compassion and integrity.

Francesca Lomonte, Rochester Institute of Technology Women in STEM Award. This is presented to a female student with high academic achievement who is involved in the school and community and is pursuing a degree in STEM.

Ahlam Nure, University of Rochester Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award. This honor is awarded to a student with high achievement and rigor in science classes and who has made positive contributions to their school and community.

Molly Plati, University of Rochester George Eastman Young Leaders Award. This award is presented to a student with strong leadership experience at school and in the community, high grades and challenging courses, and extensive involvement in extracurricular activities.

Addison Profenno, Brandeis Book Award. This distinction recognizes a member of the junior class who demonstrates a commitment to civic engagement, community service, political activism, social justice, or volunteer work.

Talia Salazar, MECA Book Award. This award recognizes a student for outstanding visual artwork.

Dakota Small
, University of Rochester Fredrick Douglas Award. This honor is given to a student who has demonstrated commitment to understanding and addressing difficult social issues, leadership and dedication to community action, and academic strength in humanities and social sciences.

Bryce Smith
, Rochester Institute of Technology Computing Award. This distinction recognizes a student with high academic achievement who is involved in the school and community and demonstrates interest and ability in computing.

Sierra Sparrow,
College of the Atlantic Book Award. This award is presented to an adventurous junior who is invested in creating positive change in the world and is engaged in their learning and their community.

Nathan Strout, Rochester Institute of Technology Humanities Award. This award is presented to a student with high academic achievement who is involved in the school and community and demonstrates an interest in humanities and social science.

Emily Talbot, Clarkson Achievement Award. This honor recognizes a student with an interest in Engineering, Business, Science, or Liberal Arts who demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities and is a positive contributor to the school and community.

Ava Wardwell, Endicott College Junior Book Award. This distinction honors a student who exhibits strong leadership skills inside and outside the classroom.

Riley Yates, Smith College Book Award. This award is given to a junior girl who is an example of scholarship and community service and exemplifies academic achievement, leadership qualities, and concern for others. <