March 29, 2024

Windham opens annual budget formulation process

By Ed Pierce

Earlier this month, the Town of Windham launched its annual budget formulation process as Barry Tibbetts, Windham Town Manager, presented his proposal for the 2024-2025 fiscal year during a discussion with the Windham Town Council.

Windham's town manager has proposed a budget for
2024-2025 of $44,557,349, up slightly from the 
2023-2024 budget of $42,430,080, or about a 5 percent
increase. The Windham Town Council will now study
the proposal and take up the issue again at its April 23
The proposal by Tibbetts of $44,557,349 reflects an increase of 5 percent compared to last year’s resident-approved budget of $42,430,080 and now heads to the Town Council’s Finance Committee for further review and revisions.

During a lengthy discussion with councilors at the March 12 Town council meeting, Tibbetts said his budget proposal is calculated based upon many different factors and influences, including slightly increased projected revenues, the town’s general operating budget and fixed expenses, insurance costs, contractual obligations, energy costs, debt expenditures and personnel changes.

New capital projects in the proposed budget include replacing the heating and cooling system at Windham Town Hall, Gravel Road reconditioning, making pedestrian and intersection improvements to the River Road/Route 202 intersection, new sidewalks for South Windham, conducting an analysis for how to turn the current Windham Middle School into a Community Center when it becomes vacant in 2027, solar panels for Town Hall, the new Public Works Laydown Yard, a Gambo Road land acquisition bond, a Smith Cemetery bond, an East Windham Conservation District handicapped accessibility grant, and the projected new North Windham Fire Station.

The proposed budget also continues funding for projects currently under way, including the North Windham Wastewater Treatment System, the North Windham Moves Project creating rear access roads to Route 302, the East Windham Conservation and Recreation Project, installation of new high-tech traffic signals, capital equipment replacement of town vehicles, preliminary engineering for the Northwest Fire Station, and the new sewer connections for Windham Middle School and Windham High School.

Also included in this new budget proposal are the additions of one operations manager, one Windham Police Department patrolman, and four fulltime firefighter/emergency medical technicians.

Tibbetts told councilors that in previous discussions with Windham Fire Chief Brent Libby and other first responders, the need exists for adding more EMTs because calls for emergency service continue to rise and the time spent for EMTs and first responders transporting residents to the hospital and then returning to town to handle additional calls is inefficient.

“One of the outcomes of this budget in working with the fire chief and staff is we can reduce our per diem call staff and keep more staff, centralizing and managing our shifts better and it will help us to be more efficient,” Tibbetts said.

With the new automated trash collection finally expected to begin this fall, Tibbetts says that unused revenues for the trash collection conversion will be applied to offset the expense of the municipal waste curbside collection contract.

Tibbetts said that the town’s Long-Term Debt bond is at $3.7 million for projects that are offset by grant funding. According to Tibbetts, Windham’s Legal Debt Limitation is 15 percent of State Valuation at $2,914,100,000 or $437,115,000. Windham’s current total debt for town and schools is $25,641,000 or about 88 percent of the state valuation, so the town’s margin for additional borrowing is $411,474,000.

Short Term Debt for heavy equipment and vehicles is $915,000 for lease and purchase and includes a trackless sidewalk machine, a 10-wheel plow truck, and a pickup truck.

Under the new budget proposal, Windham will also reserve $250,000 for future debt obligations.

The budget proposal will be reviewed and scrutinized over the next month by the town manager’s office and the Windham Finance Committee. Budget revisions will be presented to the town council at its April 23 meeting.

A public hearing and final budget approval by the Windham Town Council is expected to take place by councilors on May 14 and will be followed by a resident vote on the 2024-2025 budget warrant during the annual Windham Town Meeting on June 15. <

Cianchette announces candidacy for Maine State Senate

With hundreds of locals packed in for a busy Saturday night in February, Kenneth “Kenny” Cianchette took the stage for a different kind of announcement.

Kenneth 'Kenny' Cianchette of Windham is
running for the Maine State Senate District 26
seat as a Republican and seeking to represent
the towns of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond,
Windham and part of Westbrook.
“Maine’s systemic problems are not being resolved because Augusta is not addressing the issues they were elected to handle,” Cianchette said. “I’m done complaining about it, and I’ve decided to run for the Maine State Senate.”

Cianchette, the owner of Erik’s Church, a live music-themed restaurant, bar, and venue in Windham, is a lifelong Mainer. A graduate of Cheverus High School and the University of Maine in Orono with a degree in economics, he worked as a project manager before opening the restaurant in 2018.

“The restaurant industry in Maine is tough. Profitability is both hard to achieve and even harder to maintain,” Cianchette said. “We are vacationland due to the exceptional conduct of our small businesses in the hospitality sector. The hardships our government continues to put on our small business economy, to both our working class and our small business owners, which has led to the closure of many of our most iconic, local businesses, needs to end.”

He said his parents taught him that, as a business owner, you are the last one to get paid.

“Your vendors, obligations, and employees must be compensated first. Unfortunately, not only have our small business operators failed to thrive in our economic environment, but our incredible team members are hurting as well,” Cianchette said. “Mainers are struggling to balance their household budgets, and our government is bragging about tax ‘surpluses.’ This is not the way life should be.”

In addition to his role as founder and lead mechanic at Erik’s Church, he has coached high school football for 12 years, assisting with winning seasons every year. Cianchette is an active member of the community with his business, as the business has hosted a number of events over the last few years to raise monies for organizations and charities such as Windham’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors, the Walk a Mile in Their Shoes Foundation, Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, and the Travis Mills Foundation, and he has contributed toward dozens of other great organizations, teams, schools, and purposes. He was the 2018 Community Leadership Award Recipient and Erik’s Church was the 2023 Business of the Year Award Winner from the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce.

Cianchette will be on the ballot on Nov. 5 as a Republican to represent the workers, parents, leaders, and Mainers of District 26, which includes the towns of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Windham, and the city of Westbrook.

The District 26 State Senate seat is currently held by incumbent Democrat Tim Nangle of Windham. <

In the public eye: RSU 14 Assistant Superintendent values collaboration to elevate students

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

By Ed Pierce

Working collaboratively with others, including colleagues, families, students, and board members to elevate their collective efforts on behalf of every student, is what RSU 14’s Christine Frost-Bertinet says is the most rewarding aspect of her work with the school district.

Christine Frost-Bertinet has served as 
the Assistant Superintendent for
RSU 14 for the past five years and
writes and oversees RSU 14 grants and
supports the district's administrative 
team. She formerly worked as a teacher and 
a school principal. SUBMITTED PHOTO
As RSU 14’s Assistant Superintendent, Title IX Coordinator, and Affirmative Action Officer, Frost-Bertinet is responsible for overseeing compliance with Title IX and Affirmative Action related policies and procedures. She works closely with colleagues on a variety of educational projects, such as implementing a Pre-K program and developing community partnerships focused on early childhood learning and examining and improving safety measures across district schools.

Frost-Bertinet also writes and oversees RSU 14 grants, supporting the district’s administrative team with goal development, implementation, and progress monitoring, responds to the needs of families, partners with local organizations, supports the general business operations of the district, and serves as an instructional leader.

“The role of an assistant superintendent, like many leadership positions, includes a diverse range of tasks and experiences,” Frost-Bertinet said. “On any given day, I might spend time in a classroom alongside students and staff, sit down with a colleague to collaborate on a project, work on policies with board members, update a page on the website, work to support a parent with a concern, attend multiple zoom and in-person meetings, and stand in the lunch line with students at Windham High School to enjoy a meal prepared by our outstanding Nutrition Department. Each day is different and filled with both challenges and accomplishments.”

She’s been a member of the RSU 14 team for five years after working as a teacher, a Teacher Consultant for the National Writing Project, a soccer coach, a cross country coach, a track and field coach, a teacher leader, and assistant principal, and a principal during her career.

Originally from Maine, she graduated from high school and earned an undergraduate teaching degree in English Secondary Education from West Chester University, a school outside of Philadelphia, before returning to her home state of Maine to teach at a middle school.

“After a number of years teaching middle school, I started working toward a Master’s Degree from the University of Southern Maine and later worked on obtaining a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study,” she said. “Following that degree, I completed a certificate program at Harvard University focused on school management and leadership; I thoroughly enjoyed this series of courses as I learned alongside educators from around the globe and engaged in careful considerations of educational models similar to and very different from our own.”

According to Frost-Bertinet, she was encouraged to apply for the RSU 14 Assistant Superintendent position by several colleagues who were aware of the open position and felt she was ready to take on district-level leadership work. Having served as a teacher leader and school leader, as well as supported multiple district-level initiatives in my two previous districts, Frost-Bertinet said that she was growing increasingly interested in examining systems and working collaboratively to elevate schools in service of every student.

“I started working in RSU 14 in 2019. In the spring of my first year, the world was catapulted into an emergency response mode due to COVID-19,” she said. “My most memorable moment was the opening day for staff in 2021 when we gathered outside at the stadium to welcome everyone back. The Windham Chamber Singers performed, as is the long-standing tradition, and blew us all away.”

The most difficult part of her work is common for many educational leaders across America. “Managing complex problems that organizations face without losing sight of the overall vision and mission of schools is the most challenging aspect of my job,” Frost-Bertinet said.

Some of the most important things that she’s learned while working for RSU 14 involve teamwork.

“I’ve learned while working for RSU 14 that both the Windham and Raymond communities take great pride in their schools which is evident by the high level of support and engagement,” she said. “I’ve also learned a great deal about the need for Pre-K program expansion and the importance of building strong partnerships with local early childhood providers through a mixed delivery model that provides families with choices. Most importantly, I have learned that you cannot do this work in isolation, as it takes a high level of collaboration to gain momentum and move organizations forward.” <

Raymond descendants connect after 104 years

By Kendra Raymond

In today’s world, social media is frequently portrayed as the villain, commanding excessive amounts of people’s time and attention. But what about that golden moment when it is used for something valuable, informational, or best of all, to foster human connection?

Dr. William C. Kendall and George Moses
are shown together on Raymond Cape in
1920. They are the great-grandfathers of
current Raymond neighbors and this was
discovered through a social media group.
Town or neighborhood social media groups can come in handy for sharing resources such as electricians or pet sitters, area news, or where to buy fresh chicken eggs. It can be a great opportunity to join with neighbors.

Members of a Raymond social media group recently began posting local photos of yesteryear. It started with pictures from a notable farm, steamships of Sebago, and even developed into memoirs written by ancestors.

I decided that I should join in the excitement and dig out some treasured pictures from our family archives. Thumbing through the partially labeled profusion of memorabilia, there it was – a photo of my great-grandfather, arm in arm, with an ancestor of my neighbors, a connection only realized from a social media comment. Little did I know, this photo would connect me with some new friends, solve gaps in our family histories, and establish a platform for future collaborations.

My great-grandfather, fisheries biologist Dr. William Converse Kendall, worked for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in Washington D.C. He came to Raymond during the summers of 1906 and 1907 to take soundings of Sebago Lake. These measurements formed the basis of present-day maps. For the next several years, he was assigned to study and collect data on landlocked salmon in Sebago.

The research operation took place at the end of Raymond Cape based at a rustic encampment they called “Camp Negaunee.” Photographic documentation shows W.C. Kendall at the camp and on the lake with George Moses – the great-grandfather of my neighbors Karen Banks and Kelly Rocheleau. Evidently the two men were great friends and worked together on the water.

Negaunee is an Ojibwe word meaning “foremost or leading,” closely translated to “pioneer.” The Ojibwe are indigenous peoples of the Northeastern woodlands and one of the largest populations in the U.S.

I guess you could say that the Negaunee participants in those summers certainly qualified as pioneers.

“According to my mother, George Moses had the first camp on the end of Raymond Cape,” Banks said. “Probably near Wawenock. Someone recently said Wawenock bought the Moses camp or John Colby Shaw’s camp or both. My mother also said that George Moses had the first steamboat on Sebago. He was a guide, hunter, trapper, builder, sailor, taxidermist, and jack of all trades.”

Notes from Elroy LaCase Jr. said that “Dr. Kendall was so taken with the location that he persuaded a couple of his friends to join him to start in 1910 what would now be termed an “ecology camp.” Thus began “Medawisla Club for Boys” along the shores of Sebago. In subsequent years, Dr. Kendall founded Camp Wawenock for girls, and the boys division dissolved.

“My mother was Ethelyn Shaw. Dan and Cora Shaw were her parents,” Banks said. “I didn't know they owned a house at Wawenock but my mother said they lived there when they were first married. Dan's father Nelson wasn't as into farming as his predecessors were. He was more into racehorses. Don't know when Dan and Cora moved to the Shaw Farm (on Shaw Road).”

As it turns out, the Shaws owned and lived in my farmhouse prior to establishing their own farm.

LaCasce’s memoirs said that “At that time the ‘Farm House’ was a working farm with a barn across the road. During my parents’ time, the barn was the stable for the riding horses. In the teens, Dan and Cora Shaw lived in the Farm House and operated the farm for the camp.” The farm provided garden produce, milk, and butter for the camp.

And so it begins, a new friendship, compliments of social media. It doesn’t stop there. Plans are in the works for a possible neighborhood historical society and a compilation of printed history.

In his book “supercommunicator,” author Charles Duhigg says, “Communication is a super power. Afterall, human connection is what it’s all about.” <

Maine Marathon donation to benefit Riding To The Top

Bob Dunfey, the Volunteer Race Director for The Maine Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay, has announced that Riding to the Top in Windham is one of six beneficiaries of this year’s event which will be held on Sunday, Oct. 6.

Riding To The Top herd member Paxton Abbey is excited 
about this year's Maine Marathon which has pledged to
donate $10,500 to the therapeutic equine facility in
Windham. This year's Maine Marathon will be held
Saturday, Oct. 6. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
As a result, Riding to the Top will receive a $10,500 donation from the event.

“Riding To The Top is thrilled to be one of this year’s beneficiaries of the Maine Marathon. As a heavily volunteer-centric organization, we applaud the incredible volunteer effort that goes into making this race happen,” says Sarah Bronson, Executive Director.

She said that for 31 years, RTT has been serving the greater Portland community, providing equine-assisted services to children and adults ranging in age from 3 to 90-plus, with a small paid staff supported by a phenomenal group of volunteers who assist with all aspects of its program.

“Funds received from the Maine Marathon will directly help the clients, horses and programs at Riding To The Top and we look forward to helping to make this year’s Maine Marathon a success,” Bronson said.

The Riding to the Top organization focuses on therapeutic horseback riding and equine-assisted services for children and adults with disabilities in Maine.

By facilitating meaningful connections between people and horses, the organization aims to improve physical, emotional and social well-being, offering participants a unique and empowering therapeutic experience.

The Maine Marathon, organized by the Maine Track Club, is a volunteer driven, nonprofit event with proceeds going to local charities and since 1997, the race has raised over $7 million to support a wide range of causes. Over 50 volunteer race coordinators plan the event during the year and about 900 volunteers deliver the event on race weekend.

Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT) was founded in 1993. Its mission is enhancing health and wellness through equine assisted services.

It is the state’s only PATH Intl. 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 over 100 volunteers, all specially trained to assist with therapeutic riding, equine-assisted learning, carriage driving 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 details about client services offered at RTT, volunteering, or making a gift, please visit or call 207-892-2813. <

March 22, 2024

Raymond Future Land Use Workshop packs house

By Kendra Raymond

Raymond residents gathered Tuesday evening at the Public Safety building to take part in the Future Land Use workshop. The standing-room-only crowd arrived eager to learn about the project progress and voice questions and concerns about the town’s direction. The event promised to address future conservation, growth, and development in Raymond.

 Displays about different transportation and town scenarios 
were available for review at a Future Land Use meeting
for Raymond's new Comprehensive Plan held on 
Tuesday evening in the town.
Ben Smith, Sam Peikes, and Kate Burch of Northstar Planning facilitated the presentation. Stations were set up throughout the space, featuring maps of the town and opportunities for focused input by attendees. Tools such as sticky notes and happy/sad faces were available for residents to share thoughts on the maps provided. Members of the Comprehensive Plan Committee were also present and available to provide information and to answer questions.

Northstar representatives presented an overview of the comprehensive planning process.

“The Comprehensive Plan is a guide for future zoning decisions,” Smith said. “It is an official primary document including values, vision, future land use.”

The Future Land Use plan is just another step in the progression of the Town of Raymond’s Comprehensive Plan and vision statement. It translates community vision into a map.

“It will tie the vision with geography to form a detailed picture of what people want to see in Raymond,” Peikes said. “This is a framework to view Raymond’s future and where development will take place.”

Three land use scenarios including conservation, village, and transportation corridors were presented.

Burch said this is a nuanced future land use plan to help guide Raymond in the future.

Conservation Scenario

This land use approach has a conservation focus, protecting natural resources as much as possible, with the highest protection zones in North Raymond and on the Raymond Cape. It would include strict regulations on shorefront development. With a focus on outdoor economy, residents would continue to travel outside Raymond for work and shopping. Growth would be in already-developed areas such as Route 302.

“This will minimize development on lakes, ponds, and undeveloped land,” Bruch said.

A year-round multi-use trail system would connect conserved land and water bodies.

Villages Scenario

The village focused land use plan will develop historical walkable villages throughout the town. These areas are multiple centers of activity around the town that are close to where people live. Each village area would grow individually and could include businesses and shops. This plan would require advanced wastewater and sewage establishment. It would include parks and public spaces and increase housing diversity, sidewalk improvements and potential for transportation services as well as large undeveloped blocks of the town that would remain conserved.

Transportation Corridors Scenario

The corridor’s focused goal is to have less concentrated growth with upgrades along Route 302 and existing village areas. There would be limited change in rural areas. It would improve how residents get around town. Growth would focus on Routes 302, 85, and 121 with major investments in roads in infrastructure. This plan would include sidewalks and a multi-use bike path on Route 302. Opportunities for increased housing on 302 such as multi-units and smaller apartments in village areas.

Workshop participants presented some tough questions to Northstar representatives.

One resident said that it is a nightmare to get on and off Route 302, especially in the summer. They would like to get the concentration away from the route, noting that all the scenarios start with growth along Route 302.

A resident with road construction experience mentioned that much of the summer traffic is simply passing through, either to Naples, Bridgton, or the White Mountains and that maybe a bypass would be a good idea.

Another attendee referred to the results of the recent Raymond Comprehensive Plan survey, noting that a substantial percentage of residents were worried that too much development could pose a threat to quality of life.

A large contingency opposing the solar farm proposed on the Raymond-Casco line was present. Neighbors expressed opinions about the safety of wetlands and potential zoning changes.

Data was presented showing that from 2015 to 2022 there were 256 building permits for residential construction and only two commercial construction building permits were issued with minimal growth on Main Street and Route 302.

While there is no right or wrong choice, aspects of each scenario can be combined. The CPC is looking for residents to weigh-in on the various land use futures of Raymond. The CPC will distribute surveys via email soon. To receive an invitation, you must sign up to receive Comprehensive Plan emails.

Visit the Raymond Comprehensive Plan website here for more information or to sign up for email updates: <

Students showcase amazing powers of recall during ‘Pi Day’ competition

By Ed Pierce

For centuries, the mathematical concept known as “Pi” has been used by scientists, physicists, engineers, statisticians, and astronomers and now three Windham Middle School students have used their knowledge of the irrational number to showcase some unique abilities.

From left, Windham Middle School seventh graders Aiden
Sheehan, Jadrien Lindsay, and Juna Andre were the top
three participants in the school's 'Pi Day' competition
on Thursday, March 14. Juna finished first by reciting
205 digits of 'Pi" with Aiden second with 172 digits and
Jadrien placing third with 101 digits recited. 
As people all over the world celebrated “Pi Day” on Thursday, March 14, WMS math students Juna Andre, Aiden Sheehan, and Jadrien Lindsay displayed their love for the infinitely long, never-ending number in a special event at the school.

The “Pi” concept is one of the most recognizable and well-known mathematical constants. “Pi” is the Latin alphabet letter which is used as an algebraic shorthand for the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. As an irrational number, “Pi” can’t be written as a fraction and is an infinite long and repeating number that has been calculated into the trillions.

It comes about because in every circle the distance around the edge is a little more than three times the distance across, or 3.14. As 3.14 are the first three digits of the “Pi” infinite number, March 14 has become closely associated with “Pi” events worldwide, including the one held this year at Windham Middle School.

Throughout “Pi Day,” WMS students in math and science classes at the school were challenged with a variety of “Pi” games and were give opportunities to solve a range of math problems through their knowledge of “Pi.”

They also learned how everyday practical applications of “Pi” can be applied to real-world problems and certain situations. Some students learned that “Pi” can be used to calculate the size of paper rolls used in printers or in determining the size of a container that serves heating and air conditioning systems in buildings of varying sizes. Astronomers also use “Pi” to calculate the orbits and positions of planets.

The “Pi Day” activities culminated during the annual WMS “Pi Day” competition at the school where Andre, Sheehan, and Lindsay showcased their remarkable talents in a “Pi” recitation competition. It challenged them to recite as many digits of “Pi” as they possibly could from memory and using nothing but exceptional powers of recall and demonstrating impressive mathematical skills, the students were able to recite a significant number of digits of “Pi” and amaze their classmates, teachers, and school staff during the competition.

Juna's outstanding performance had the seventh grader recite an impressive 205 digits of “Pi” which was the most in the event. Aiden, a seventh grader, placed second in the competition by memorizing and reciting 172 digits of “Pi.” Jadrien, who also is in seventh grade, finished third in the event by successfully reciting 101 “Pi” digits.

“These students' achievements not only reflect their individual talents and dedication but also highlight the supportive academic environment and commitment to excellence at Windham Middle School,” said Cheryl Andre, Juna’s grandmother. “Their accomplishments serve as inspiration to their peers and educators alike, showcasing the potential for academic success within the school community.” <

‘Buy-A-Bale’ supports MSSPA recovery program for neglected horses

If you've driven on River Road in Windham, you've likely seen the expansive, beautiful horse farm with big white barns and white fences, set right across from Mallison Falls Road and the large Maine Correctional Center. It’s called the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, or MSSPA, and is a horse shelter, a place where abused and neglected horses begin their long journey to healing and good health.

Cherry, a 21-year-old neglected horse, was taken in by the
Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals last July
and is now thriving at the Windham facility. Here Cherry's
recovery is celebrated with a MSSPA volunteer.
On a warm July afternoon, a horse named Cherry was surrendered to her local Animal Control Officer and brought to the MSSPA. Cherry is typical of the horses that arrive at MSSPA; the initial assessment of her condition indicated that this 21-year-old mare was often the last in line for the scant food that had been available.

She was emaciated, with ribs showing and withers protruding. Her tentative gait conveyed that her feet had not been cared for in quite some time, and she took a few painful steps to the barn where she would begin her new life.

Sweet Cherry was in desperate need of a soft place to land, a place where she could know the love and tenderness of skilled care, and the reassurance of clean water, fresh hay and grain.

It would be easy to understand if Cherry mistrusted humans, or shied at being handled. But the opposite was true, you could see this sweet girl settle into her new home, almost as if she knew she could finally exhale.

Those hard days were behind her and Cherry’s personality emerged as she seemed to know her luck had dramatically changed.

Hay is so fundamental to a horse’s ability to thrive, and bad hay, moldy hay, or no hay at all can cause serious medical and starvation challenges to a horse.

Horses really ‘dig in’ in the fall and their hay consumption increases as they prepare for the cold months ahead. In the winter, it’s hay that serves as a bit of a furnace in a horse’s belly, keeping them warm through the cold months. Little is as fundamental to a horse’s healthy outcome as hay.

Which is why the annual Buy-A-Bale campaign at the MSSPA underpins all of the work that happens at the farm, year-round.

When horses arrive at the Society, they are assessed by a veterinarian. This intake exam provides a baseline evaluation of the horse’s condition, and informs the re-feeding and care plan for that horse.

All horses that come to the MSSPA are provided with all the fresh hay they can eat. Grain and supplements are added when the horse is ready.

Each horse’s re-feeding program is monitored and adjusted as the horse continues on its path to recovery. A gift to MSSPA’s Buy-A-Bale campaign contributes to the most fundamental building block for a horse’s recovery.

And as is so often the case, there is such good news to share about Cherry. She set about getting healthy and strong, and today has gained nearly 100 pounds.

Cherry now enjoys her days in the paddock with her new pal Autumn. Most often you can see them napping in the sun or reaching over the fence to welcome visitors.

While it is heartbreaking to see a horse arrive in terrible condition, the reward and joy of this work is watching each horse blossom with the attention of skilled care, proper nutrition and an endless supply of love.

You can learn more about the MSSPA and its Buy-A-Bale campaign by visiting <

March 15, 2024

In the public eye: RSU 14 Technology Director facilitates digital advances, learning opportunities for students

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

By Ed Pierce

For RSU 14’s Robert Hickey, continuing advances in technology bring students together while creating opportunities for learning and growth and staying out in front of evolving trends and innovations is something he takes seriously.

Robert Hickey is the Technology Director for RSU 14 and has
worked for the school district for the past 20 years. Among
his duties, he oversees RSU 14's computers and tech support
for all staff and students and supervises the district's customized
database of data and reports, and a sophisticated network
including virtual servers. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
Hickey serves as RSU 14’s Technology Director and it’s a complex position that is much more than just software, data, and computer devices.

“My job is to do everything possible to help technology support the education process,” Hickey said. “I supervise an incredible staff which accomplishes technology support of 1:1 computers, iPads and MacBook Airs for all staff and students, plus support financial technology for office users, customized database of data and reports, and a sophisticated network including virtual servers which can support over 3,100 students plus hundreds of staff.”

In his role with the school district, he’s also responsible for budgeting for resources, researching advanced technology initiatives and trends and works with a collaborative group called the InfoTech Committee consisting of school administrators, teachers, library professionals, tech folks, and many other staff.

“As we move ahead, it is a well-planned effort incorporating all stakeholders to research and determine which technology trends we should leverage for support of education,” Hickey said.

He’s worked for RSU 14 for 20 years, having started in 2004 when the newly renovated Windham High School was first opened.

Born in Saratoga Springs, New York, Hickey has lived in Maine most of his life and says this is the state he loves. He attended elementary school in Portland, then graduated from Cheverus High School and went to college at the University of Southern Maine in Portland where he earned two Bachelor of Science degrees in Business Administration and Computer Science.

He says the best part of his job is simple.

“Considering all the technology I deal with, the best thing about my job is the people,” Hickey said. “The caring, dedication and positive support for the students, the staff and the community is all a collaborative effort from all RSU staff plus community members. The most important thing I have learned while working for RSU 14 is the most important thing in the world is people. They are the center of everything and there is nothing more important.”

According to Hickey, the most challenging aspect of his job is trying to keep on top of all the technology changes as technology is growing at an exponential rate and the current and future impacts and opportunities of things such as artificial intelligence, robotics, cyber security, and automation are virtually unlimited.

A common misconception about his work is the assumption that a K-12 School District cannot be that sophisticated.

“But we're using the same advanced technology that a business with almost 4,000 employees needs to do,” Hickey said. “This would include a network with VLANs, remote access, cloud and local data management, customized database reports, helpdesk for students and staff who could have issues with their devices, software, and mobile devices, etc.”

His most memorable moments working for RSU 14 took place during the initial year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It changed everything and everyone. The tech department needed to suddenly begin supporting a large-scale increase of remote access,” Hickey said. “RSU 14 remote instruction was spun up by the Curriculum Department working with teachers, technology integrators and many other staff. ZOOM, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are now common terms and more dependence on cloud-hosted solutions were long term opportunities but were started under the parameters of necessity. The future was thrust upon everyone at an accelerated pace.”

Hickey said the public may not be aware that it has really helped him to have a background in technical management, regular programming, programming with web pages, SQL database, and networking to his duties with the school district.

“Although I have a considerable background, I must let folks know that I stand on the shoulders of greatness. I would not be successful without the incredibly talented tech staff, supportive administrators, dedicated teachers and support staff and supportive community members,” he said. “And last, but definitely not least, are the students. They are living in the most dynamic time which has ever occurred to any generation in history, and they are doing great things and will continue to do so.” <

Area students care for trout eggs during winter

By Abby Wilson

In the beginning of February, several middle and high schoolers in the region were given a huge responsibility to raise trout from eggs.

Windham Middle School students test water
quality in the Pleasant River in preparation
of the release of trout fry they have been
caring for this winter. The program is a 
collaborative initiative between the 
Cumberland County Soil and Water
Conservation District and the Portland
Water District. COURTESY PHOTO  
Windham Middle School and Jordan-Small Middle School from RSU 14 were among the 20 schools throughout Southern Maine that will take care of these fish for three months.

For over 10 years, the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District (CCSWCD) and Portland Water District have partnered to help schools raise brook trout. CCSWCD delivers the eggs to schools in the winter, and the students care for the fish as they become fry. Once they are large enough, the students release them into local streams in May.

Chris Loew, District Educator at CCSWCD, says the program is an “opportunity for kids to get appreciation for local watersheds and rivers.” He visits the schools to deliver the eggs but also presents lessons about water quality and the life cycles of the fish to the students.

The program is centered on science and connection to local rivers. It also teaches children about their proximity to freshwater. Within the first few weeks of May, the students will go out with representatives from CCSWCD and Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to release the trout.

In Windham, the middle school is close enough to the Pleasant River that students will be able to walk there as in previous years.

“Kids may not have otherwise known how close they live to these special water bodies,” Loew said. “As we were walking down, we pointed out the things that would impact the health of the water.”

About 6,000 eggs have been delivered to schools in Cumberland and York Counties. Middle Schools and High Schools from Saco to North Yarmouth are participating in the program this year.

The project has an obvious educational benefit, but Loew said it is also adding to the aquatic ecosystem as thousands of brook trout are being added to local streams and rivers this spring.

Last year, CCSWCD educated 13 communities and more than 2,100 students at 26 different schools. This includes the trout egg program but also at summer camps and after school programs.

Science education is hands on and allows kids to experience science, Loewe said. Many activities involve problem solving and challenge children to think creatively. Kids complete building projects that pertain to chemical, physical, and biological characteristics in nature.

Recently, students in Windham schools learned the science of healthy water. Loew conducted an in-class activity where students made predictions about the requirements of water health and what fish need to survive.

“Our education program is growing,” says Loew. “We are constantly trying to create and develop engaging activities to share with teachers.”

The CCSWCD acts a resource to implement science education into the classroom. They write grants, get sponsored by partners, and fundraise for science gear.

“The benefit of us as a resource is that we can supply the materials that teachers can’t get access to,” Loew said. “For example, the trout program tank chillers can be very pricy pieces of equipment.”

When school is out, CCSWCD partners with the City of Portland Parks and Recreation to make regular visits to kindergarten through 5th graders at summer camps.

The youth education catalog includes topics on invasive species, sustainable landscaping practices, soil health, the water cycle and so much more. Science programming also focuses on environmental issues like pollution and climate change.

Educational programs help teachers bring science to their classrooms, immerse students in natural ecosystems, and engage children in activities that spark curiosity.

“Anytime you can get kids out of the classroom to learn science outdoors, it is a positive thing,” Loew said.

Learn more about Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District and their education program at <

Chamber endorses work of Walk a Mile in Their Shoes Foundation

Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Robin Mullins says that the organization remains committed to fulfill its mission "To foster economic growth and prosperity in the Sebago Lakes Region."

Bill Diamond, center, the founder of the Walk a Mile in Their
Shoes Foundation, center is joined by Sebago Lakes Region
Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Jonathan Priest and
Chamber President/CEO Robin Mullins in announcing
the chamber's endorsement of the foundation.
Mullins says that one way to ensure prosperity is to ensure our communities' youngest citizens are well cared for and protected.

“That is why we are so deeply concerned about the high number of children in state care who suffer abuse and die at record levels,” Mullins said. “We strongly support the work being done by Walk a Mile in their Shoes and its founder, Bill Diamond of Windham. We want to express our strongest insistence that the Maine Legislature make the necessary changes to better protect the children who too often are placed in unsafe environments by the state.”

She said that the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce encourages the legislators who represent the Sebago Lakes region to stand strong against the continued failures of the child protection system, and it urges other Maine chambers to insist that their legislative delegations also fight to better protect children in state care.

Diamond announced the creation of the Walk a Mile in Their Shoes Foundation in January 2023 and the group is duly filed with the Maine Secretary of State and supported and guided by an advisory board consisting of experts in the field of child protection and child welfare.

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

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

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

"The problems are not partisan based. They are the concern of all of us,” Diamond said. “This is the most important thing I’ve ever been able to do, nothing comes close.”

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

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

In December, the Walk a Mile in Their Shoes Foundation released a report that found that caseworkers, foster parents, children, and other stakeholders in Maine are left without adequate backing by the Department of Health and Human Services and it examined areas of concern, who is impacted, straightforward solutions, and what success looks like. The report was the culmination of listening sessions and meetings with concerned citizens across Maine interested in providing better and safer outcomes for children in Maine’s care.

Diamond said it’s now up to DHHS to make the necessary changes in their own internal policies and procedures which have been failing children for years and the report offers specific solutions to the problems that we all recognize as serious threats to children in state care.”

“Walk a Mile in Their Shoes (WAM) is extremely proud to have the endorsement and support of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce,” Diamond said. “They are the first Chamber of Commerce in Maine to publicly speak out about the urgent need to prevent the abuse and deaths of children. The businesses and citizens of the Sebago Lakes region can be very proud of their leadership.” <

American Legion seeks junior participants for Dirigo State

The American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 and the American Legion Department of Maine are excited to announce that applications are now being accepted for the Dirigo State 2024 program.This year's Dirigo State activities will be hosted by Colby College in Waterville from June 16 to June 24. Last year more than 150 students participated in Dirigo State and American Legion officials would like to double that number this year.

Selected boy and girl candidates from Dirigo State will be offered the opportunity to attend Boys and Girls Nation in Washington, D.C. later in the summer.

Dirigo State is a comprehensive, experiential learning, youth leadership program. It is designed after the Maine State government, where all students come together to create their own town, county, and state governing bodies.

Simply put, Dirigo State is a coed version of Boys State and Girls State, but that’s just the start. The American Legion Family redesigned and strengthened both programs into a unique, first in the nation for the American Legion National Family, featuring a combined youth government leadership program. The Legion Family feels that combining Boys and Girls State programs provides a better experience for all students and a more realistic simulation of Maine State government.

Dirigo State, the merged Boys State and Girls State programs, is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high school students and is a participatory program in which students become part of the operation of local, county and state government.

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

The Dirigo State program is open to all high school juniors. Windham’s Field-Allen Post 148 is looking for junior candidates from local public schools, private schools and the homeschooled community to participate. Individual expenses, except for transportation, are paid by the American Legion Field-Allen post, as well as any local business, parents, the school, or another community-based organization that may like to participate and/or sponsor a student.

The Field-Allen American Legion Post 148 will host an information session for interested juniors at 7:30 p.m. April 3 at the Windham High School Guidance Office. Past Dirigo State attendees will also be invited to the meeting to assist in answering questions. Meetings will also be held at the Windham Christian School.

For additional information, contact American Legion Post 148 Auxiliary President Pam Whynot at 207-892-4720 or by email at or Post 148 Americanism Officer John Facella by email at

Applications for Dirigo State are available from your School Guidance Office or you can download and print the information at <

Local poet prepares to showcase work during National Poetry Month

By Masha Yurkevich

As the days near to April, Windham poet Bob Clark is preparing for his annual poetry display at the Windham Public Library which will highlight some of his most popular writing.

A collection of poetry by Windham
poet Bob Clark will be on display
throughout the month of April
at the Windham Public Library
during National Poetry Month.
Clark’s previous poetry books including Carriage Lane, Tourmaline, Canoe, and Spinnaker will be featured, along with this year’s new book, Seaside, all of which can be purchased at Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop in Windham.

The new book, Seaside, is a collection of Clark’s poems with a goal to show New England, with an emphasis on the state of Maine. Clark says it keeps an eye to the shoreline, which is unique when you have it and even more unique when you don’t.

“To match the change of seasons and the uplifting of April, I wanted to pull things aside and lay them out with some visuals,” says Clark.

He thinks his best work lies ahead.

“I am still learning, there is so much more to it, which is the beauty of writing,” Clark said.

He feels that some of his best work is in this new book including his poems “An extra moment,” “A poem,” and ‘The blizzard of ‘93.”

The poem “An extra moment,” takes advantage of Maine’s shoreline which made Winslow Homer, the famous watercolor artist and painter, make the decision to spend the end of his life in isolation on Prouts Neck in Scarborough for no other reason than to capture the lights and the spray, showing the importance of an extra moment.

Clark’s “A poem’’ includes a famous line “a poem must not mean but be,” which leads readers to many questions but is an honorable way to spend some time, says Clark.

He said that “A poem” likens the mystery of a poem to the mystery of vines that have no boundary.

“Just like a vine, where you start may not be where you end up, and it usually is not,” Clark said.

His “The blizzard of ‘93” poem is dramatic like our shoreline, but it is not about going to the beach, Clark said.

Usually writing his poems in iambic pentameter with which he likes to experiment, Clark has invented a stanza of four, which he calls the “quad” and it can be seen in some of his latest work in the new book “Seaside.”

For Clark, the Windham Public Library has always been a very valuable place and has always been an attraction where you can open a book and go at your own pace, which he says is very critical.

“Sometimes when reading literature, you can’t wait to turn the page,” he said. “In poetry, sometimes you can’t wait not to turn the page.”

The recent shooting tragedy in Lewiston had a heavy impact on Clark, having grown up and spent much of his time nearby and even working for an adult education program in Lewiston. This led him to compose a poem in which he placed much emotion with a goal to communicate to the victims that they were not alone in their grief.

Clark was contacted by the mayor of Lewiston to come to the Lewiston City Council meeting to read his framed poem ‘Our Candle Vigil’. His poem was also featured in the Nov. 4 edition of the Lewiston Sun Journal newspaper.

“It is an unusual tragedy with an unusual poem,” says Clark.

At home, Clark enjoys the work of other poets such as Longfellow and Robert Frost, with which he can make a human connection, despite the time that has passed. He also enjoys writers in France, England, and Maine who lived through the 1940s and 1950s and were keen observers. Clark reads to see what sort of word selection and what word rhythms different writers use.

“My interest is largely drawn from nature and the rural setting and when I find an author like that, it makes me want to spend some time in their writing and see if they have something to say that I cannot possibly know because I’m in a different era,” says Clark.

Apart from other poets and writers, painters and artists are also an inspiration to Clark.

“I’ll spend as much time reading as I will studying a painting,” he says. “I have the advantage of time. My inspiration is just walking and talking and being able to be mobile and get out and hike, go to the beach, talk to friends, read, lean back, and ponder. “As I am finishing the book for this, I am already starting the one for next year, which will be a trilogy.”

At the end of each of his books, Clark has an afterword with a list of other pastoral poems and humanistic themes. His poetry works will be on public display at the Windham Public Library throughout the month of April. <

Fay legislation to protect internet subscribers signed into law

AUGUSTA – A bill sponsored by Rep. Jessica Fay, D-Raymond, which ensures that Maine consumers would not have to pay for unused internet services, was signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills on Feb. 29.

State Rep. Jessica Fay
Fay’s legislation titled LD 1932 requires an internet service provider to grant a credit or rebate for unused internet services if a customer makes a request within a 60-day period after the end of their billing period.

“I am pleased that, when Maine consumers cancel their service early in a billing cycle, they will no longer be on the hook for paying for an entire month,” said Fay. “Internet service is a crucial need and can be expensive for many in our community. LD 1932 will allow Mainers to be refunded a portion of their bill in which they don’t receive service, ensuring that they aren’t paying for a service they aren’t utilizing.”

The new law will go into effect 90 days after the adjournment of the current legislative session.

Fay is House chair of the Government Oversight Committee and is a member of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. She serves the community members of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, and part of Poland. <

March 8, 2024

Windham High School hosts regional One Act Festival

By Jolene Bailey

The Maine Principals Association organizes the regional One Act Festival bringing together different schools to perform and compete in a 5-minute skit. This year, the One Act Festival will be conducted at Windham High School’s Performing Arts Center.

WHS students will be performing a skit based upon Nick Danger referencing the Maltese Falcon, a movie starring Humphry Bogart. Nick Danger is a mocking imitation, featuring light and good humor of 1930s and 1940s private eye and detective radio shows.

“Nick Danger, and my longtime love of this script, goes back to when I was in high school, said CJ Payne, WHS auditorium and skit director. “I was getting into the comedy of Monty Python, and my father introduced me to the FireSign Theater, with Nick Danger. They were a 1960s and 1970s radio comedy group, and he thought I'd enjoy their comedy.”

The One Act Festival features local school theater programs in addition to being a competition. It started in 1932, and the first drama competition was held at Bath High School. Each school has five minutes to build their set on the stage, and five minutes to take it down after the show.

Each show cannot exceed 40 minutes, or a severe point deduction is tacked on to that school's score. There are three judges, which each have a three-minute critique for every show, and then the students have three minutes to ask the judges questions.

“We are going very outside of the norm for the festival,” Payne said. “. Our show is a staged reading, and a radio play. So, our actors have their scripts with them, and they worked very hard on learning voice acting. I know they're very excited to bring a new spin on a One Act show to the festival.”

Each performing school has a total of 55 minutes on the stage alone to prepare all their lighting cues, see how their set fits on a new stage, and prepare the actors for special changes from their own school.

Francesca Lomonte, a junior student who is responsible for running the sound board, said she really likes practicing the five-minute set up.

“Although it is ridiculously stressful, I like seeing the cast and crew work together as a machine because everybody has their own job, and we all flow to create such a wonderful set in less than five minutes,” Lomonte said.

This is Lomonte’s second year of participating in one act. Last year she was a part of the stage crew for Windham’s performance of “Humbletown.”

“The rehearsal process for the show involves a lot of script analysis with the actors,” said Payne. “Developing a character that is believable involves understanding what the writer was trying to accomplish with the play. The process of hosting a festival involves a great deal of communication with the directors from our guest schools. As you can imagine, it can be a challenge to take a show to another school's theater that you are unfamiliar with.”

Windham’s stage is hosting four guest Class A and Class B schools. Windham has a long history of hosting the regional festival and has also hosted the All-State festival in 2018. Windham has hosted every two years, so students have a chance to experience theater programs at other schools and their own.

“If I'm being honest, I spend a lot of time in the auditorium doing odd jobs that need doing like cleaning up backstage, putting up and taking down the wall, and putting up the bleacher seats. One day this past December, CJ asked if I wanted to run sound and I said sure,” said Lomonte.

The biggest difference between the One Act Festival and normal productions is that the one act is a competition. Students have to put on a show that competes against other schools. The time limits are also very different and create a unique challenge. A typical musical production goes on for roughly an hour and a half whereas for one act, students have only five minutes of performing time. The entire production is put into the hands of the students. It gives students a chance at running things and the responsibility and the pride that comes from the job.

“It has been fantastic. I can't be prouder of the actors and technicians that stepped up to such a challenge,” said Payne.

Windham High performs in the One Act Festival at WHS at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9. The Maine Principals Association has set ticket prices at $11.50, $6.25 for students, per performance session. The Saturday afternoon performance session starts at 11:30 a.m. with Fryeburg Academy. <

Nangle bill to help towns protect water resources advances in Maine Senate

AUGUSTA — A bill from State Senator. Tim Nangle, D-Windham, to give municipalities and the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) more tools to enforce shoreland zone violations and protect local waters received bipartisan support in committee last week.

State Senator Tim Nangle
LD 2101, “An Act to Strengthen Shoreland Zoning Enforcement,” received a strong, bipartisan vote of 11-2 from the Maine Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on State and Local Government.

"Maine's water resources are vital to our communities, and ensuring their protection requires effective enforcement of shoreland zoning ordinances,” Nangle said. “LD 2101 gives municipalities and the Land Use Planning Commission the flexibility they need to address violations while providing property owners with a fair process to address the problem. I thank the Committee for the hard work that went into making this a bipartisan effort to uphold regulations that safeguard our precious waterfronts.”

LD 2101 allows, but does not require, municipalities and the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) to take action when property owners violate shoreland zoning ordinances. Before any action, the bill mandates that municipalities first must send a written notice to the violator, demanding correction within 10 days. This ensures a fair process for the property owner and acknowledges that many violations are accidental.

If violations persist after this notice, then municipalities and the LUPC would have the option to restrict, suspend or revoke permits issued to the property where the active violation is occurring. Currently, these entities are compelled to issue permits even in cases of ongoing violations, limiting their ability to enforce regulations effectively.

Additionally, if a municipality or LUPC is the prevailing party in a civil action against a violator, the bill permits the placement of a lien on the property with violations. This measure aims to prevent the transfer of such properties, providing municipalities with the financial means necessary to uphold laws safeguarding our waterfronts.

“Up to 85 percent of Maine’s fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals use the shoreland zone at some point throughout their lives,” said Francesca Gundrum, Policy Advocate with Maine Audubon. “State and municipal shoreland zoning laws exist to help conserve wildlife as well as to protect vegetation and water quality, limit erosion, and preserve the natural beauty of Maine's shoreland areas. Balancing the needs of both wildlife and human communities, this bill helps hold egregious shoreland zoning violators accountable, and we applaud Senator Nangle for his leadership in forwarding this initiative.”

The bill now goes to the full Maine Senate and Maine House for further votes. <

WHS students welcome peers from Poland Regional High to practice civil discourse

By Lorraine Glowczak

For the second consecutive year, a student group from Windham High School volunteered to participate in the Can We? Project and hosted their peers from Poland Regional High School in mid-February to practice skills needed for civilized conversations.

WHS freshman James Arthurs, left, and Poland
Regional High senior Audrey Fryda engage in a
courteous conversation regarding a current
legislative issue. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
The Can We? Project is an initiative intended for high school students to rejuvenate democracy by learning the abilities necessary to engage in respectful civil dialogue. This is Poland High’s first year participating in the Can We? Project. At last month’s gathering, students from both schools had the opportunity to discuss diverse perspectives and complex issues, doing so by showing a level of maturity and respect needed in difficult discussions.

“My experience with Can We? reinforced my admiration for this generation of students,” a PRHS social studies teacher, and Can We? Project liaison Elaine Fryda said. “They are mature, earnest, and articulate. I was impressed by how seriously they discussed important current events.”

Jen Dumont, a WHS JMG specialist/teacher, and Can We? Project liaison agreed, saying that any time a space is provided for students to meet and communicate with peers, in a safe and solution-oriented way, it opens students' perspectives and encourages empathy.

“Having the opportunity to host Poland Regional High School Can We? Project students gave our Can We? participants a chance to exhibit leadership skills and showcase some of the conversation tools they have developed during our past Can We? Project retreats,” Dumont said. “It is always edifying to realize that there are other students with similar stories and concerns from around our state.”

A few students from both schools shared their experiences from participating in the project.

Audrey Fryda, a PRHS senior, admitted that in an age of internet, it is easy to be swept into a biased and stereotypical way of thinking.

“I think it is easy to be sucked into an echo chamber of sorts, where you find things on the internet that align with what you believe to be true,” she said. “By engaging in conversations, we are having today with peers who think differently, we break those stereotypes and expand our empathy for others. By being able to do this, we are taught how to deal with important and controversial issues in an intelligent and respectful manner.”

WHS freshman James Arthurs said that if you take the moment to listen to one another, even if you don’t agree on a topic, you can come to an understanding or simply agree to disagree and remain civil.

“I enjoy participating in these conversations because it helps me learn different sides of a story - so I can understand where others are coming from,” Arthurs said. “It also helps me better understand my own perspective and has sometimes changed my viewpoint a bit. I also have understood my perspective more thoroughly where I am better able to support and advocate for it.”
PRHS senior Jonathan Crump said this was the first opportunity he had to talk about laws being passed and enjoyed hearing what everyone had to say. His involvement with the Can We? Project provided a deeper understanding of real conversations.

“Most of my experiences with Can We? were positive, but I want to point out that the project isn’t a ‘utopia of open mindedness’ if you will,” Crump said. “I still felt that I was being judged by people around me, just to a lesser extent. In all, it was fun to engage in dialogue with my peers and Can We? is definitely a step taken to bridge the gap between our country's political divide.”

The Can We? Project was founded in 2018 by Third Thought Initiatives for Civic Engagement at Waynflete School. Originally a weekend retreat serving 35 students, the project now works throughout the school year with nearly 300 students in 14 public partner schools in Maine. Can We? is a collaborative effort between Waynflete, Maine Policy Institute, a non-profit that works to expand individual liberty and economic freedom in Maine, and Narrative 4, a national storytelling exchange program that teaches the skills of compassion through active listening with others.

Dumont explained that as adults, we have a certain responsibility to students to provide the space for active listening, and it is the reason why she is a teacher and a Can We? Project liaison.

“It’s important we provide the structure and safety to share students’ personal stories and have solution-oriented conversations that build bridges between people of various backgrounds and opinions,” she said. “I feel very honored to have been able to participate. I look forward to seeing the Can We? Project evolve and take on an incarnation here that can have further impact on our student population and staff.”

Elaine Fryda agrees with Dumont.

“Can We? provides students a unique opportunity to practice empathy, communication, and reflection,” she said. “Participation in the project fosters curiosity, courage, and caring. It goes without saying that we all could use more of these traits in our lives.” <

Bruni included among group of ‘20 Outstanding Women 2024’

Windham’s Diane Dunton Bruni, the board chair, president and a founding member of the nonprofit Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing, has been named one of “20 Outstanding Women 2024,” an annual award given by The Portland Radio Group and Hannaford Supermarkets.

Diane Dunton Bruni of Windham has been named
as one of the '20 Outstanding Women 2024' by 
Portland Radio Group and Hannaford
Supermarkets. COURTESY PHOTO  
The Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing, based in Windham, offers home repairs for seniors and veterans so they may remain in their homes safely and enjoy the quality of life they deserve.

“I am very grateful for this honor, and accept it on behalf of all our volunteers, who strive each day to make a genuine difference in the lives of others,” said Bruni. “As seniors and veterans age, many do not want to leave their cherished homes, although they are no longer able to care for them. They also often struggle with costs and with finding contractors available to make repairs. Through our pool of volunteers, we meet the home-repair needs of these individuals and families in our community. In turn, we reduce feelings of isolation and despair among the human beings involved.”

Launched in 2019, the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing is part of a national organization, the Fuller Center for Housing, started by Millard Fuller, the former founder of Habitat for Humanity. As the only Fuller Center in New England, it was founded in Windham, Maine, by five churches—Unity Center for Spiritual Growth, North Windham Union Church, Windham Hill UCC, Raymond Village Community Church, Faith Lutheran Church, and St, Joseph’s College. St Ann’s Episcopal Church of Windham later also joined.

It is a nonprofit organization that relies on an all-volunteer force to serve seniors and veterans in the communities of Raymond, Standish, and Windham.

The annual “20 Outstanding Women” Award is sponsored each year by the Portland Radio Group/Coast 93.1 FM and Hannaford Supermarkets, to celebrate and recognize women in Maine who make a significant impact in their community. Each selected woman was nominated by her peers, family, and friends, and will be spotlighted throughout March on Coast 93.1’s radio shows, website, and social media, including in a radio interview on the popular Blake Show with Kelly and Todd.

The “20 Outstanding Women” Awards will be offered in a private ceremony in March on the campus of the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

For more detailed information, please contact Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing at 207-387-0855 or send an email to <

March 1, 2024

Windham converting to automated trash removal this fall

By Ed Pierce

It’s been about 15 months since the Windham Town Council approved an agreement with Casella Waste Systems also known as Pine Tree Waste, to convert the town to an automated trash removal system and this week, town officials have said this September will be the official roll out of the new system.

By September the Town of Windham will be
converting to a new automated trash
collection system with residents issued new
carts for garbage and recycling. As a result,
the blue bags required for the Pay As You
Throw refuse system will be eliminated.
Under the new system, Windham residents will no longer use the Pay As You Throw (PAYT) system, eliminating the purchase of blue bags, and switching to a cart system with trash picked-up curbside by a driver using an automated retrieval system. Currently trash and recyclables are manually collected at the roadside which requires a trash truck driver and a trash laborer and services more than 5,400 stops in the town.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said that homes in Windham will be issued two new durable carts on wheels, one for trash and the other for recycling. The new contract calls for residential pick-up service which is scheduled once a week Monday through Thursday using designated routes and should a pick-up fall on a legal holiday or on severe winter storm days, the schedule would be pushed back one day. Funding was included in the town’s annual budget to purchase trash carts and recycling carts for residents.

The new system was supposed to be in place in 2023 but was delayed as Casella Waste Systems purchased and waited to obtain new automated trucks with mechanical retrieval arms from an out-of-state manufacturer.

Tibbetts said he’s had discussions with the towns of Falmouth and North Yarmouth to share cart maintenance service for the trash carts as those towns are also converting to automated trash pick-up.

Casella officials say that all trash routes in Windham will be evaluated before the new system becomes effective and that includes trash removal for some roads in Windham that Pine Tree Waste does not travel on now because of truck size limitations or roadway obstacles. It does not expect to make any changes to the current trash collection day schedule.

According to Casella Market Manager Chris McHale, the company may purchase and deploy a smaller trash collection truck to service roads and streets in Windham that are not accessible by the new automated trash vehicles. He said that the company intends to work with residents to provide the best service possible, but because of rising operational costs and advances in technology, the trash removal industry is converting to automated systems and unfortunately can no longer continue to provide a similar system to the one currently used in Windham and other nearby communities.

“This makes for a more efficient and safer way for collecting trash,” McHale said.

The decision to convert to this automated system was difficult for town councilors but Casella, one of the only trash companies working in the state with the resources to serve municipalities such as Windham said it would not renew its contract with the town unless Windham residents converted to the new system. Casella said it has difficulty finding staff and rising costs for its Pine Tree Waste business model and this has resulted in it asking Maine towns to convert to automated systems which require fewer drivers and reduced operating expenses.

In August, about a week or so before the new automated trash system begins, residents will receive one 64-gallon trash cart and one 64-gallon recycling cart. Elderly residents using less trash may request smaller 48-gallon carts.

The automated trash system contract between Casella and the town runs through June 30, 2028. Windham will then have an option to renew the contract for an additional five-year period by providing at least six months of advance notice to Casella before the contract expires.

Not having the PAYT system would mean losing that revenue and increased tipping fees incurred by the town for EcoMaine if residents place improperly bagged waste items in carts that is picked up when the trash truck operator is unable to see what is in the cart below the top. Windham blue trash bags are sold at 15 different locations in town and priced at $13.50 for either ten 13-gallon bags or five 30-gallon bags.

Tibbetts said that once the new system is implemented and operational, residents possessing blue bags would be able to sell unused bags back to the town. <