April 26, 2024

Public welcome at Grand Opening for East Windham Conservation Area

By Ed Pierce

It’s said that every goal we reach has once been part of a dream that we thought would never come true. With the official Grand Opening of the East Windham Conservation Area next weekend, that dream has become a reality for generations of future residents of Windham.

The East Windham Conservation Area will hold
a Grand Opening Ceremony from 10 a.m. to noon
Saturday, May 4 at the Lowell Preserve Trailhead 
Creating the East Windham Conservation Area was achieved through a partnership between the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and the Town of Windham. A special dedication ceremony will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 4 at the Lowell Preserve Trailhead in Windham marking the completion of the first phase of the project. The first phase includes a trailhead parking area, signage, five miles of trails, and views of the western mountains.

Land at the site is 99 percent forested and includes 661 acres with 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond, some 38 acres of wetlands and numerous headwater streams. Through its conservation the area will directly help protect the water quality for Little Duck Pond, Highland Lake, Forest Lake, and the Pleasant River. It is the largest wildlife habitat, clean water, and recreational trail corridor in Greater Portland and provides a 30-mile trail network connecting Windham’s Lowell Preserve, Falmouth’s North Falmouth Community Forest and Blackstrap Hill Preserve.

The new multi-use trails have been built at the site by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and the area also includes a 150-acre Deer Wintering Area, a traditional site for hunting by permission, and the 580-foot Atherton Hill, the tallest site in Windham.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said the town is grateful to the Lands for Maine’s Future organization for helping to fund this project.

“The timing of this land being available to be conserved for the future with recreational usage combined with the state’s renewed commitment to funding with the Land for Maine’s Future program has been ideal,” Tibbetts said. “The LMF Board’s award to grant the town nearly $1 million for the acquisition of this property is an opportunity we couldn’t afford to pass up.”

Since the 1990s, Windham residents have identified the East Windham Conservation Area as an important area site to conserve during increasing concerns about local development. It features large undeveloped habitat blocks and superior water quality protection.

Windham’s Open Space Plan identifies developing and maintaining open space partnerships and relationships as key mechanisms to grow conservation efforts in the town and when the Windham Town Council formally adopted the Open Space Plan, Windham reached out to the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust in 2021 to be an open space partner by holding a conservation easement and sharing responsibility for the trail management on the adjacent 308-acre Lowell Preserve.

In a press release issued by the Town of Windham, Windham Town Councilor Brett Jones said that the conservation of the East Windham Conservation Area property, and the open space it provides are consistent with the town’s long-term comprehensive plan to preserve Windham’s rural character.

“When you combine its 700 acres with other already established preserves, it will provide Windham and surrounding area residences with access to 2,000 acres of unspoiled nature and four seasons of outdoor recreational activities,” Jones said.

Funding to create the area was about $3.7 million and included a $1 million grant from the Land for Maine’s Future initiative. In 2021, voters from Windham approved a $1.8 million conservation bond using open space impact fees and another $400,000 raised privately from public donations. A Land and Water Conservation Fund federal grant for $500,000 also was obtained to pay for the infrastructure improvements at the site.

A town-wide survey in Windham conducted over a six-month period in 2021 and 2022 concluded that conserving the land to remain undeveloped for wildlife habitat, water quality protection and rural character was the top benefit to be derived from the project. The survey also ranked the second-highest community benefit for the site is to provide multiple-use outdoor recreation and create access for the whole community.

Land for Maine’s Future officials say it was exciting to be part of such as expansive and significant conservation project which will provide recreational opportunities for future generations of Mainers.

“We have been excited about this project since the Town of Windham and Presumpscot Regional Land Trust first brought it to our attention in its exploratory phase,” said Steve Walker, Director of the Land for Maine’s Future. “This project embodies the best of public and private partnerships working together to protect the places that support our wildlife, our quality of life, and our economy.”

In addition to holding the conservation easement, the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust will have a shared management agreement for the conserved land with Windham.

“This regional scale project, which is both a destination for outdoor recreation and critical for wildlife habitat, has only been possible due to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Land for Maine’s Future Program, the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Town of Windham’s conservation bond, lead business partner Gorham Savings Bank, numerous private foundations, and over 400 local individuals and families donating to make this project a reality,” said Will Sedlack, Presumpscot Regional Land Trust’s Executive Director.

Phase two work will begin this fall and see the remaining five miles of trails built, including a universal access trail, which can be navigated by those with limited mobility. This trail will lead to a scenic overlook with views of the Western Mountains, ensuring everyone can experience the wonders of Maine’s great outdoors. A third phase of the project, planned for future years, will include an observation tower providing panoramic views from the top of Atherton Hill.

The public is invited to attend the Grand Opening event which is free, but space is limited, and registration is required. Please RSVP for the event at https://www.prlt.org/events <

In the public eye: Raymond’s new Town Clerk ready for challenges of job

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

By Ed Pierce

Melanie Fernald takes her new role as Raymond Town Clerk and Registrar of Voters very seriously and it’s a job that not only requires meticulous attention to detail, but also being polite and cordial to everyone she meets.

Melanie Fernald began serving as the Raymond Town
Clerk and Registrar of Voters on April 1 and oversees
the maintenance of town records for births, deaths, and
marriages. She also prepares minutes and agendas for
town boards and committee meetings conducts state
and town elections and certifies ballot questions and
candidate petitions. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
In some ways, Fernald is the face of the town as she oversees the maintenance of town records for birth, death and marriages and prepares the minutes and agendas for town board and committee meetings as Town Clerk. As Registrar of Voters, she prepares the materials for state elections and town meetings, ensuring that all state and federal regulations are followed every step of the way, and certifying petitions for ballot questions and candidates.

If that wasn’t enough, she also manages the issuance of business, liquor, dog, hunting and fishing licenses and registers motor vehicles and processes tax payments.

She started her new job April 1, succeeding Susan Look, who was appointed Raymond Town Manager earlier this year.

“We tend to see people in the highest and lowest points in their lives,” Fernald said. “I love seeing new parents come in for their baby's birth certificate or happy couples come in for a marriage license. But we also issue death certificates when a loved one has died. I take pride in knowing I’ve done something small to help people navigate those moments.”

Originally from Westbrook, she went to Westbrook schools, then left to attend college at University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire where she studied psychology and earned a bachelor’s degree. Years later, she went back to school at Hesser College in Portsmouth and earned an associate degree in paralegal studies.

After serving as an Assistant City Clerk for two and a half years in Westbrook, she worked for three and a half years as Westbrook’s Deputy City Clerk. Before that, Fernald was a Legal Assistant for two County Attorney offices for criminal prosecutions in New Hampshire.

“I saw the ad for Town Clerk in Raymond and felt ready for the next challenge in my career,” she said. “I have known the former Town Clerk, Sue Look, for years through mutual networking groups, and jumped at the chance to come here, knowing she'd still be around for support. Her knowledge-sharing is invaluable as I adjust to the differences between working for a city government and a town government.”

According to Fernald, balancing all her duties is the most challenging aspect of her work.

“There are so many tasks to complete, so many people to assist and many interruptions due to the wide variety of tasks,” she said. “A small town’s clerk office staff handles an even wider range of responsibilities than larger communities, where there’s a bigger staff and more people to carry the load. I have some new things to learn here that I didn’t handle in Westbrook.”

Her family has been supportive of her accepting the job as Raymond Town Clerk and Registrar of Voters.

“We are most excited about how short my commute will be to and from the camp this summer,” she said. “My grandfather built a camp on Crescent Lake when my mom was a baby, and I always wish for more time there every summer. Working in Raymond will help make that dream come true.”

As she settles into her new job, Fernald is confident that everything she has learned to this point will lead to success.

“I’ve heard Municipal Clerks referred to as the ‘Swiss Army knives of their communities’ and that feels like an accurate description. “The amount of information we need to learn to be able to assist residents, property owners, business owners, and visitors is vast,” she said. “The clerk’s office tends to be the link between residents and government. If we don’t know the answers, we need to know the other resources to direct them to find their answers. I’m currently focusing on what makes the community of Raymond different and special. Every community has its own personality; spending more time here will help me learn more about Raymond’s residents and visitors.” <

Collins casts historic 9,000th U.S. Senate vote

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins has cast her 9,000th consecutive roll call vote, extending her unbroken voting streak, which began in 1997. Senator Collins is the first Senator in history to have cast 9,000 votes without ever having missed a vote during her entire time in the Senate.

U.S. Senator Susan Collins of Maine has cast her
9,000th consecutive roll call vote and has never
missed a Senate vote during her time in office
going all the way back to 1997. FILE PHOTO 
“Growing up in Aroostook County, I learned from an early age the values of hard work, perseverance, and honoring your commitments. I am proud to bring those Maine values with me to the Senate,” said Senator Collins. “No one works harder than the people of Maine, and I strive to demonstrate that same commitment every day while representing our state.”

Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Thune (R-SD), and Angus King (I-ME) congratulated Senator Collins on the Senate Floor.

“I'd like to acknowledge a rare milestone that has just been achieved here, or that is just about to be achieved, on this coming vote in the Senate. Our dear colleague from Maine, Senator Susan Collins, will cast her 9,000th consecutive roll call. She has never, never missed a single roll call vote in her entire career. Who else can claim that? Raise your hands! Even the freshmen can't claim that,” said Senator Schumer. “I congratulate Senator Collins on this historic accomplishment. It puts her in rare company in the history of the chamber. So, Senator Collins and I, of course, belong to different parties, but she has the respect of those of us on this side of the aisle as well as her own colleagues. And I have been grateful for the chance to work with her in recent years on many issues.”

McConnell agreed.

“The Senior Senator from Maine, our good friend, is about the cast, as we all know, her 9,000th consecutive roll call vote. Quite literally, as the occupant of the Chair knows, Senator Collins has never failed to discharge the most fundamental duty of her office. According to the historical office, only one senator in history has managed a longer streak of consecutive votes. Let's just say Senator Collins is closing in on that record as well. I hope our colleague is as proud of this accomplishment as we are of her,” McConnell said. “One thing that's for certain, she didn't reach the milestone by accident. Senator Collins arrived as a freshman, already well aware of the obligations of public service. After all, she was raised by not one, but two small town Mayors. And as our colleague knows, one of those distinguished Mayors, her mother, Patricia, passed away earlier this year, right as the government funding she had stewarded was nearing the finish line. It was a situation that made the tension we've all felt at times, between the demands of the Senate and of family. But as always, the example of the Senior Senator from Maine was instructive. Poised under pressure, prepared for any outcome, and as determined as ever to do right by the people she represents. Day after day, year after year, our senior most appropriator has demonstrated through her dedication, if you do your homework, you show up to vote, most everything else will fall in line. So, I'd like to add my congratulations to my good friend, Senator Collins, on this tremendous milestone. The people of Maine are lucky to have her.”

According to Thune, the fact that Collins has reached 9,000 votes cast is remarkable.

"She was asked by the Washington Post 12 years ago why she had never missed a vote? Why she made a decision to make every vote? And this is what she said, and I quote, ‘I think it's important at this time, when public confidence in Congress is very low, to demonstrate to my constituents that I really care about doing a good job for them,’” Thune said. "Well, Mr. President, for 27 straight years and 9,000 straight votes, she has delivered every single day for the people of Maine, and for the people of this country, and I am grateful to have the privilege and opportunity to serve with her, as I think every single one of us. Not only those who are here today, but those who have come before. It is a remarkable achievement. Senator Collins, thank you. Thank you for your record. Thank you for your example.”

Her Maine colleague Senator Angus King offered his heartfelt congratulations and pride to Collins.

“Thank you, Susan, for all you've done,” said Senator King.

Senator Collins’ first vote in the Senate was on Jan. 22, 1997, when she voted to confirm Madeleine Albright as Secretary of State. Her second vote, the same day, was to confirm former Maine Senator Bill Cohen as Secretary of Defense. Senator Collins succeeded Secretary Cohen in representing Maine in the U.S. Senate.

In addition to not missing any roll call votes, Senator Collins continues to return home to Maine on weekends and during state work periods to meet with constituents and visit communities, businesses, and schools throughout the state.

Former Senator William Proxmire (D-WI) is the only senator who has a vote streak longer than 9,000 after missing votes earlier in his tenure. Senator Proxmire, who was first elected in 1957, cast 10,252 uninterrupted votes between 1966 and 1988. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has the third-longest Senate voting streak in history. He cast an impressive 8,927 consecutive votes from 1993 to 2020. <


Medical Loan Closet a lifeline for many in Windham

By Kaysa Jalbert

To take a walk, get upstairs to bed or enjoy a soothing shower is simple for some but for others, especially the elderly, mobility doesn’t come as easy. Since 1940, the Medical Loan Closet has made durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, mobility scooters and rollators more available to those who are in need in the Windham Raymond community.

Windham's Medical Loan Closet makes available,
ay no cost to town residents, durable medical
equipment such as wheelchairs, mobility scooters,
crutches and more for anyone in need in
the community. COURTESY PHOTO
Located at 221 Windham Center Road, next door to the Windham Public Library, the Medical Loan Closet is managed by the Town of Windham’s Social Services Department and gives those in need the chance to borrow necessary equipment that isn’t affordable or available to that individual at the time.

“It’s a town service and it’s a necessary service. People can’t say enough good things about it,” said Lynda Murphy, Director of the Medical Loan Closet.

Equipment is gathered through donations from people who have extra or unused equipment. People donate things like briefs and pull-ups, bed rails or sometimes money. The loan closet does not take anything battery powered or electric due to the cost of maintenance and disposal if no longer functioning. Any old or broken equipment the town recycles for aluminum or steel.

The loan closet allows borrowers to hold onto items for up to three months. Items cannot be purchased from the loan closet and should be returned at the end of three months to give others in need the chance to borrow them as well.

Murphy said that because of COVID, the closet lost a lot of equipment that was never returned. Thankfully, they have obtained better equipment over this past year and volunteers are constantly working to maintain the equipment for many clients.

For many years, Ray Philpot has been the loan closet’s maintenance person, however all the volunteers clean and keep the equipment in shape.

“We keep the best equipment in the best shape it can be,” said Murphy.

The Medical Loan Closet has a budget of $600 which is provided through an annual grant, however monetary donations are also accepted.

Most volunteers at the Windham Loan Closet are older and some have been around for over 25 years. Volunteers bring in and clean donated and returned equipment. They answer the phone and serve the public.

“Our volunteers really go above and beyond,” says Murphy. “We just listen to people’s needs and we are really compassionate about what those needs are.”

Two small meetings a year are held to set up a rotating schedule for volunteers for the next six months. Right now, there are 12 volunteers and each works for one week every 12 weeks. On average, they service about 25 calls a week. They are always looking for new volunteers and never turn people away.

If anyone is interested in volunteering, call 207-894-5999 and leave your phone number and Murphy will call back with more information.

The Medical Loan Closet is open Monday through Friday. Checking-out or donating equipment is by appointment only. To set an appointment, call and leave a message on the closet’s automated voice message and a volunteer will return the call promptly. The phone is monitored daily. The closet is pick-up only. Volunteers are not able to deliver equipment on their own.

The Windham Loan Closet began as the Windham Health Council in the 1940s. The facility worked with schools and children, weighing, and measuring them. In the 1950s it organized a Well Baby Clinic that operated until about late 1960s. It was then that council volunteers worked to make fluoride treatment available to all Windham children. Following this, the Windham Health Council recruited the town’s first dentist in the 1970s.

In the beginning, Frederick Alken, superintendent of schools at the time, and Beverly Allen, a Windham school nurse, recognized the need to loan medical equipment to those recovering from an injury or struggling with a medical condition that couldn’t afford the necessary items immediately. Soon, town doctors Sidney Branson and Robert Burns joined, as did other volunteers.

Since its inception, the Windham Health Council has transformed into the Windham Medical Loan Closet and has served in getting medical equipment to those in-need. However, none of it could be made possible without the commitment and kindness of volunteers.

To obtain medical equipment, to donate items or to sign up as a volunteer, call 207-894-5999 and leave a message saying what you are calling for and a volunteer will return your call. <

Lighthouse Knitting Guild inspires creativity and camaraderie among participants

By Kaysa Jalbert

There’s a simple remedy to end a search for the perfect plum-colored-sweater or a beanie-style hat that will fit right - learn how to knit it yourself.

The Lighthouse Knitting Guild of Maine meets on the first
Saturday of each month from 12:30 to 3 p.m. at the 
Windham Raymond Adult Education Building located 
behind Windham High School. Anyone interested in
knitting or learning how to knit is encouraged to attend.
It may be intimidating to take on a new skill and flaunt your own creations around town, but the Lighthouse Knitting Guild of Maine focuses on educating members and providing a supportive community for all creators to grow skills, creativity, and confidence in the art of knitting.

The Lighthouse Knitting Guild of Maine, LKGM, is the local Maine chapter for the national organization of The Knitting Guild of America, TKGA, a global non-profit organization helping knitters at all levels improve their art and skills through education.

"As a guild, our members focus not only on sharing the art and skill of knitting with each other, but also with our communities,” says Jan Long-Connelly, Vice President of Communications for LKGM. “Many of us demonstrate our knitting work at events like the annual Cumberland Fair to help raise awareness around the benefits of knitting. Since we most often meet on the Windham High School campus, it seemed like a natural fit for our group to participate in the Windham High School Knitting Club. Several of our members actively assist with teaching knitting skills to the students, mentoring them through various knitting projects, and helping with obtaining needed supply donations.”

The Guild typically meets the first Saturday of each month from 12:30 to 3 p.m. at the Windham Raymond Adult Education Building located behind the Windham High School. Any meeting location changes, meeting topics or special events are always posted on the group’s website and Facebook page.

Members come from a variety of locations throughout Maine. Many live in the Windham area but membership spans from Woolwich down to the New Hampshire border.

“A big focus of the Guild is educating members,” said Long-Connelly. “Skilled members share their knowledge by presenting classes in such techniques as brioche, steeking, and mosaic knitting.”

Annually, the guild has a nationally known designer offer either a virtual or an in-person class. In the past Bristol Ivy and Kate Atherly have provided classes in Windham. The LKGM’s in-person class with Elizabeth Smith, originally scheduled for April 6, was postponed from that date because of the storm that caused power outages and travel concerns for its members. The Guild will be announcing the new date for Smith’s presentation soon.

Guild Member benefits include attending monthly guild meetings to meet and learn from other experienced knitters and the opportunity to admire their individual work. Members may participate in Knit-A-Longs with moderators to support as you learn a new skill either at in-person meetings or online using Ravelry, a free online site for knitters, crocheters, and fiber artists where members can also access the Guild’s lending library.

Members also get early registration or reduced fees to guild-sponsored workshops by popular designers and gifted teachers. They also offer opportunities to fill or trim stash at the annual Spring Yarn Swap or wind your own cake using a yarn swift and ball winder available at meetings. Opportunities are available to participate in many charity knitting programs both locally and abroad, offering various knitted goods to those in need.

The Lighthouse Knitting Guild will hold its next meeting from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday May 4 at the Windham Raymond Adult Education Building.

The Maine chapter was founded in 2015 by a group of friends who loved kitting and began to meet regularly forming a local kitting guild and shortly thereafter joined the national organization by using the model established by The Knitting Guild Association.

The Knitting Guild Association is the only national non-profit organization that focuses specifically on kitting. A membership costs $35 a year and includes benefits from newsletters and magazines to online educational meetings.

Anyone interested in joining the guild and have additional questions, contact the Guild at lighthouse.knitters.maine@gmail.com.

For more information visit www.lighthouseknitguildmaine.com <

April 19, 2024

First-ever Windham Maine PTA K-8 Career Fair draws large turnout

By Ed Pierce

Despite a nor’easter that dumped heavy snow on Windham and knocked out power for more than 90 percent of the town, Windham Maine PTA’s first Career Fair for Kindergarten to Eighth Grade drew more than 76 students, nearly 100 parents, and 19 presenters to Windham High School on Saturday, April 6.

Ernesta Kennedy, left, and Joanna Bridges
greet visitors to the Windham Maine PTA Career
Fair for Kindergarten to Eighth Grade students
at Windham High School on Saturday, April 6. 
Despite a sever storm and many in the area 
losing power, organizers say that the event
was a success and they expect even greater
turnout next year. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
The event featured a variety of vendors who manned interactive booths, offering hands-on experiences and visual aids for students who attended. Students had the opportunity to engage in activities such as first response, nutrition, physical fitness, farming and agriculture, STEM, meteorology, and many other exciting career paths.

PTA President Tiffany Sinclair said that the event organized by members of the Windham Maine PTA and inspired by a School of Excellence survey that the organization distributed in late October.

“Studies and educational experts indicate that children tend to rule out certain careers based on gender and social status by the time they finish elementary school,” Sinclair said. “Our PTA views the recent event for K-8 students as beneficial, offering them a chance to explore a variety of careers and meet individuals from diverse backgrounds excelling in different fields. During the elementary years, kids are exploring who they are, and career exploration is a way for them to discover more about themselves and the world around them. This strategy helps children appreciate their interests and abilities, highlighting their potential value in the future. By implementing this simple change, we can broaden their perspectives instead of limiting them.”

With many different types of careers represented by presenters, students were able to take part in hands-on experiences and view a range of different visual aids at the event.

According to Sinclair, feedback from families, staff, and vendors was positive and they encouraged PTA members to host similar events.

The Career Fair is not the only event though that Windham Maine PTA members are planning as the school year winds down. Sinclair said the organization is working to honor RSU 14 staff with a special Transportation Appreciation Day on May 2 and Staff Appreciation Week running from May 6 to May 10.

“For the 2023-2024 Staff Appreciation Week, the PTA, families, and community members will collaborate to express gratitude for the dedication of the Windham staff. This will include snack bars sponsored by Aroma Joes, Windham, lunches supported by Duck Pond Variety, Westbrook, 10-minute massages from Freedom Massage and Wellness and SpaTech, Westbrook, and hydration stations backed by families,” Sinclair said. “We’ll also host our annual gift card raffle. Deckhouse, Portland Pie, Windham, Reny’s, Smoked, Oriental Trading, Otto’s, and Harbor Freight are just a few that have made contributions to this event so far.”

Besides those activities, Sinclair said that students from Windham Primary School and Manchester School will display their appreciation by participating in a spirit day each day of Staff Appreciation Week. She said these activities were carefully organized with input from administrators and staff to ensure inclusivity and easy parental involvement.

“The changing landscape of education demands a holistic approach that caters to individual learners rather than conforming to traditional teaching methods. Students encounter a variety of challenges, such as accessibility issues, financial constraints, living situations, mental and physical health concerns, and academic stress,” Sinclair said. “Educators often carry their students' worries and stress beyond school hours. During Staff Appreciation Week, it's crucial to recognize and appreciate their unwavering dedication to all students and the emotional burdens they often bear. We firmly believe that consistently showing love and gratitude can kindle a love for learning, motivating our team to nurture creativity and inspire our students.”

The lineup for Windham Maine PTA’s Staff Appreciation Week activities includes:

Windham Primary School
Monday: Snack Bar (Coffee and Tea sponsored by Aroma Joes, Windham, and community members)
Tuesday: Hydration Station (Supported by families and community members)
Wednesday: Lunch (Pizza sponsored by Duck Pond Variety, Westbrook, and community members)
Thursday: Massages (noon to 2 p.m. provided by Freedom Massage and Wellness, and SpaTech)

Manchester School
Monday: Appreciation Grams (Contributed by students and families)
Tuesday: Lunch (Pizza from Otto’s Pizza, Gorham, and community members)
Wednesday: Snack Bar and Massages (1-3) (Coffee and Tea from Aroma Joes, Windham. Massages by Freedom Massage and Wellness and SpaTech)
Thursday: Hydration Station (Contributed by families and community members)

Windham Middle School

Tuesday: Snack Bar (Coffee and Tea from Aroma Joes, Windham, and community members)
Wednesday: Lunch (Provided by Jersey Mike's, Windham, and community members)
Thursday: Massages (9 to 11 a.m. by Freedom Massage and Wellness, and SpaTech)

Windham High School
Tuesday: Massages (9 to 11 a.m. by Freedom Massage and Wellness, and SpaTech)
Thursday: Lunch (Pizza from Duck Pond Variety, Westbrook, and community members)

Windham Maine PTA believes in a team approach and welcomes the public to join them in their year-round mission, Sinclair said.

“You don't have to be a parent to champion and back the development of all learners,” Sinclair said. “Membership costs $11 per year and ensures you stay informed about our activities. Apart from annual support, we host monthly meetings held at the Windham Town Hall and provide chances for direct donations, event assistance, and redemption donations at Patman's. Simply label your bags with ‘Windham Maine PTA’ and drop them off to the right inside the entrance.”

Sinclair said Windham Maine PTA is currently seeking donations and gift cards for this year's Staff Appreciation Week. Contributions can be mailed to Windham Maine PTA, P.O. Box 6, Windham, ME 04062.

Follow WindhamMainePTA on Facebook and regularly visit its website at www.windhammainepta.org. For any inquiries, send an email to contact@windhammainepta.org <

Free medical rides now available through Age-Friendly Windham

By Lorraine Glowczak

To enhance accessibility to healthcare services for older adults residing in Windham, Age-Friendly Windham (AFW) has recently launched a program offering free transportation to medical appointments within the greater Portland area. This program aims to address the challenges faced by seniors in accessing healthcare, particularly those with limited mobility or transportation options.

Age-Friendly Windham Coordinator Erica Bell-Watkins,
left, joins one of the first Windham residents to use its new
medical ride program, Seth Ross, and his partner, Edell
Spina. To request a ride, call and leave a message at
207-892-4649 at least 48 hours in advance.
“Recognizing this pressing issue, Age-Friendly Windham has taken proactive steps to bridge the gap and ensure that every senior in the community has access to essential healthcare services,” Erica Bell-Watkins, AFW Coordinator said. “We are not only looking for volunteers to help us succeed with this initiative but also want to let our senior citizens know that this service is available.”

AFW is part of AARP's Network of Age-Friendly Communities and was adopted as an official AARP network by the Town of Windham in January 2019. AFW advocates for a livable community for all ages by adopting such features as safe, walkable streets; better housing and transportation options; access to key services; and opportunities for all residents to participate in community activities. Providing free medical rides is one step toward feasible transportation options.

Since its inception on Jan. 2 this year, over 50 rides to medical appointments have been booked and Seth Ross, a 65-year-old Windham resident, was one of the first individuals to use the program.

“I have a car and can drive, but I had to have surgery at the beginning of the year to remove a hernia,” Ross said. “And although I could have driven to the appointment, I wouldn’t have been able to drive back home due to the anesthesia after the surgery.”

Ross said that his partner, Edell Spina, has a medical condition that prevents her from driving.

“I have friends who offered to take me to my appointment, but they all work and would have had to take the time off from their jobs,” he said.

It was for these reasons that Ross reached out to the newly established AFW free medical ride program. He said it was a wonderful and professional experience for him.

“One volunteer picked me up at my house, and another volunteer picked me up after the surgery. They both were very courteous, on time and friendly,” he said. “We even laughed and joked around. It was such a great experience for me that I offered to pay the volunteers for their time and gas, but they said they couldn’t accept it.”

Bell-Watkins said that since this is a free program, volunteers can’t accept money from the customer.

“But if someone wishes to donate to the program, they can do so with the Town of Windham,” she said. “All drivers have pre-addressed envelopes to send to the town’s agency that oversees AFW.”

Licensed volunteer drivers undergo background checks, while their vehicles are registered, inspected, and covered by insurance. Currently, AFW has three volunteers but is looking for more individuals to help grow and sustain the program.

According to Bell-Watkins, volunteering for the ride program does not require a lot of your time.

“We are only looking for just a bit of a volunteer’s time,” she said. “Even if someone just wants to provide one afternoon or one morning a week, that is enough to help this program succeed.”

Volunteers will be invited to monthly gatherings where conversing, story-sharing, and brainstorming can take place. Training will also be made available at these meetings.

“I will invite speakers and professionals to these volunteer monthly gatherings,” Bell-Watkins said. “Training topics will include, but not be limited to, guidance on helping people safely get into and out of vehicles, CPR training, etc.”

As for Windham residents in need of this free transportation program, the only requirement is that you must be a Windham resident.

“And we ask for at least a 48-hour notice so we can ensure there is a driver available for you,” Bell-Watkins said.

As AFW continues to grow this initiative, it is the program’s goal to expand transportation options beyond medical appointments.

“By early summer, we hope to have enough volunteers to provide other transportation needs for older adults,” Bell-Watkins said. “This includes things such as hair appointments, library events, Parks and Recreation activities, and other town-wide happenings.”

To request a ride, please call and leave a message at 207-892-4649. Someone will return your call as soon as possible.

For further information about this program or other inquiries about Age-Friendly Windham, send an email to Erica Bell-Watkins at eabellwatkins@windhammaine.us. <

WMS student-musicians preparing for annual band and orchestra trip

By Jolene Bailey

Windham Middle School will once again be sending student musicians on a band and orchestra trip to attend the Trills & Thrills Music Festival at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire on June 7.

About 55 Windham Middle School students, including all
the orchestra and band members, will be performing at the
Trills & Thrills Music Festival at Canobie Lake Park in
New Hampshire on June 7. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Two WMS musical ensembles for band and orchestra will perform at the festival. The festival’s judges, who are typically college music professors, listen to two pieces of music from each ensemble. The judges will then provide written and audio-recorded feedback.

Participating students will take away several things from this trip such as constructive criticism to help them improve, receive positive feedback about their strengths, and a sense of accomplishment as they will receive a rating from the judges.

WMS students will experience preparing musical selections for the festival and performing for judges, while competing against other middle school music students from Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. After their performance, they will also obtain specific feedback from their judges in the spirit of improving techniques as ensembles and listening to others.

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

“We have participated in festivals similar to this annually as a school for many, many years,” said Morgan Riley, WMS band and orchestra teacher. “The oldest plaque we have is from the 1990s.”

Within the practice time available before the event, Riley said that the student-musicians are rehearsing with dedication and motivation to try and achieve the highest score possible at the festival.

“We started rehearsing festival pieces for each group in January,” Riley said. “We have been working on the basics, notes, rhythms and articulations, and are now getting to the details of dynamics and the other parts that add the frosting. These students are incredibly hard-working and show perseverance in every class.”

According to Riley, the festival creates an environment where students feel comfortable and free to express themselves. Participating in festivals like this one can help make performers work harder when engaging and pushing to create the best of their performances, she said.

In all about 55 WMS students, including all the orchestra and band members, will be able to participate in the festival trip.

“We'd like to thank the generous community members who came to our Mattress Fundraiser last fall as well as those who purchased socks to support us,” Riley said. “Between the fundraising and a local grant, we have raised more than enough funds to fully pay for the trip.”

During the festival, the WMS seventh- and eighth-grade band will perform "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" by John Williams and arranged by Robert Longfield and "Sousa Times Twosa,", a medley by the American March King John Phillip Sousa and arranged by Robert W. Smith and Michael Story. The WMS seventh- and eighth-grade orchestra will perform a dramatic original piece, "Beyond the Thunder" by Deborah Baker Monday, and "Big Rock Candy Mountain," a traditional bluegrass tune arranged by Jeffrey Frizzi. <

Presumpscot Regional Land Trust unveils new logo

By Ed Pierce

Will Sedlack, the new executive director of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, has unveiled the organization’s newly created logo to further raise awareness about the nonprofit’s work in the community.

In a newsletter, Sedlack said that Presumpscot Regional Land Trust is excited to share a new look and vision to bring the Land Trust into the future.

“Our new logo represents the beautiful river and watershed for which we are named and the landscape that connects our five towns: Windham, Gray, Westbrook, Gorham, and Standish,” he said. “The new logo’s vibrant colors and design capture the essence of our region’s natural beauty, symbolizing the Land Trust's commitment to preserving and protecting what makes this watershed so beautiful.”

This new visual identity reflects the land trust’s ongoing dedication to conservation and community engagement,” Sedlack said. “We hope that the logo will resonate with you, our supporters, partners, and the community at large, reinforcing our shared commitment to the environment and the well-being of our region.”

Along with the new logo, Sedlack says that over the next few months, Presumpscot Regional Land Trust will be updating its website and materials to reflect this new transformation.

Perch Design Studio of Portland created the new land trust logo.

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

Presumpscot Regional Land Trust was founded in 1986 and has conserved land in Gorham, Gray, Sebago, Standish, Windham, and Westbrook. Windham Land Trust was founded in 2000 and had conserved lands in Gorham, Gray, and Windham. Gorham Trails Inc, a town land trust in Gorham, had conserved lands in Gorham, Windham, and Westbrook. The three land trusts shared much of the same coverage area, along with many members and values, making the three organizations a natural fit to merge.

Founded in 1989, Presumpscot River Watch uses volunteers to sample and test water quality at points on the Presumpscot River and its tributaries. This work has now become an ongoing program of our land trust called the Water Quality Monitoring Program.

In October 2016, members of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, Windham Land Trust, and Presumpscot River Watch voted to merge as one organization with the name Presumpscot Regional Land Trust. In September of 2017, members of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and Gorham Trails Inc voted to incorporate all Gorham Trails Inc’ conserved lands within the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust.

On Saturday, May 4, land trust staff will join representatives from the town of Windham at the Lowell Preserve Trailhead in Windham from 10 a.m. to noon for ceremonies marking the Grand Opening of the East Windham Conservation Area. The project is a collaborative effort between the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and the town of Windham and has conserved 661 acres of forested land and undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond. It also features the 150-acre Deer Wintering Area and the 580-foot Atherton Hill, the tallest hill in Windham.

About 10 acres of multi-use trails have been built at the East Windham Conservation Area site already and along with holding the conservation easement, the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust will have a shared management agreement for the land with the town of Windham.

The East Windham Conservation Area’s Phase Two opening will take place in the fall of 2024 once the remaining five miles of trails are built, including a universal access trail, which can be navigated by those with limited mobility and will lead to the scenic overlook and pond views. A third phase of the project is planned for future years and will include an observation tower. <

April 12, 2024

Raymond budget heads to voters at Annual Town Meeting

By Ed Pierce

The Raymond Select Board has forwarded a series of warrant articles regarding the 2024-2025 budget for including on the ballot at the Annual Town Meeting on June 11, but the $19.178 million budget proposal itself is not without controversy.

This fiscal year's proposed Municipal
Appropriations budget for Raymond is
$7,371,051. Last year's budget approved 
by voters at the Annual Town Meeting
was $6,685,997. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
During a meeting of the Raymond Budget Finance Committee on April 2, members unanimously rejected recommending a warrant article for an $8.1 million bond to construct a new Public Works facility. However, when the Select Board met on April 8, it voted to include the Public Works construction bond for voter approval.

Select Board Chair Joe Bruno said he believed Budget Finance Committee members were misinformed about the Public Works proposal and did not follow parliamentary procedure in voting the way they did.

“All our town committees follow Roberts Rules of Parliamentary Procedure,” he said. “The vote they took was illegal. This is a well thought out plan for a new Public Works Building that has been in the works for years.”

Bruno said the new Public Works facility is badly needed and will be of great benefit to the town if the warrant article is approved.

Denis Morse, a Budget Finance member, said that committee members are not opposed to building a new Public Works facility per se, but wanted an opportunity to review schematics, blueprints, cost estimates and other pertinent documents before recommending the warrant article for a public vote.

“That never happened,” Morse said. “There needs to be a neutral needs assessment to see what our needs actually are,” he said.

According to Morse, after a first vote on the Public Works construction warrant article was held, a question arose if it was taken properly and committee members asked Town Manager Susan Look for guidance about how to take a proper vote. Once given, committee members voted again and once more unanimously rejected recommending the warrant article.

That vote was illegal, Bruno said.

“They needed to rescind that vote and not approve it,” he said. “I really do think the people of Raymond should know the town has an excellent AAA bond rating and we are retiring $285,000 debt payment. In funding this, we will still stay financially strong.”

Morse pointed out that during the Budget Finance Committee meeting Bruno was in attendance and could have advised them that their vote was improper.

In formulating her proposal, Look said it is her first try at putting together an extensive town budget.

“This being my first go-round with the full Town of Raymond budget, I wanted to see the whole budget, the way it has been put together, and then meet with each department head to get a better understanding of each piece before I attempted to summarize,” she said. “On the revenue side we have an estimated $9,000,000 in new valuation.”

Look said Auto Excise Tax, CEO/Planning Fees, Public Safety/Rescue and Investment Income are projected to increase by a total of $213,000.

“Our valuation certified ratio is currently at 62 percent, so the Homestead Exemption is expected to be reduced by $34,726,” Look said. “The revaluation process will begin this fall and should be completed for the 2025 Commitment. This is reflected in the Assessing request to have more hours for the administrative assistant. Codes will be adding the Street and Sub-Division Ordinances to the General Code software this year. This software allows homeowners, builders, appraisers, other municipalities, etc. to search through the ordinances, will standardize the formatting, and will give us a list of inconsistencies or discrepancies that we need to address.”

Look said the town has already added the Land Use and Shoreland Zoning Ordinances and in future years they will continue until all similar ordinances have been added including the new Building Code, Flood Plain, and the Business License Ordinances.

“I have met with the Town Managers of Casco and Naples several times recently and we are working to rewrite the memorandum of understanding and the job description for the regional Animal Control Officer,” she said. “We are also talking with the Town Manager of Harrison and are considering hiring a part-time ACO so we will have seven-day coverage while allowing regular days off for the employees. As an update, Public Safety has had word that their new rescue/pumper truck approved at the 2022 Town Meeting should be ready in 2025.”

She said that Fire Chief Bruce Tupper has been talking with Sebago Fiber about using the broadband initiative to increase radio coverage.

“There are still areas of Raymond that have no coverage,” Look said. “Their budget request includes money to cover overtime due to medical leaves, vacation, etc. coverage and the unpredictability of emergency calls. As you know there has been a committee looking at bringing broadband access to Raymond.”

Look also said she’s been in discussions with the town attorney about the possibility of using TIF monies for some of the cost and hope to have more information about what that entails soon.

“For Debt Services, there have not yet been any expenses paid from the bond that was approved at last year’s Town Meeting,” Look said. “The work done thus far at Tassel Top on the Snack Shack replacement has been covered by ARPA monies, once these have been expended the project will rely on the bond. The improvements to Shari Gagnon Park are scheduled to begin in the Fall of 2024. The tipping fees and contract prices have increased this year by a total of $42,605.”

Public Works also had to go back out to bid for a mowing contract as the previous company decided to stop doing mowing altogether, Look said.

“All indications thus far are that the mowing will be significantly more than in past years. Parks & Rec is looking to delete the half position that was in budget last year and add a full-time position of Assistant Parks & Rec Director who will work with the Director, in particular running the Summer Camp program,” she said. “The year-round variety of programs has been gaining in popularity each year, especially in the summer season.”

The Raymond Village Library only requested a 1.86 percent increase.

They have been awarded grants, the Friends of RVL have been very generous with their efforts, and they could not continue without the support of their many volunteers.

“The end result is we are proposing an overall increase of 10.69 percent or $714,536 and $276,000 of which is the bond payment approved at last year’s Town Meeting,” Look said. “The rest of the budget increased by 6.56 percent.”

The Raymond budget warrant articles do not include Cumberland County or RSU 14 warrant articles. <

Windham Council approves substance prevention grants for student programs

By Ed Pierce

Members of the Windham Town Council have unanimously approved substance prevention grants for two programs that are intended to keep students off drugs.

Members of the Windham Town Council have authorized
grants of $1,800 for Summerfest Mobile Escape Rooms
and $2,640 for the Windham Middle School Guitar Club.
The Substance Prevention Grants are derived from cannabis
licensing fees. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
During an April 9 meeting, the council authorized spending $1,800 for Mobile Escape Rooms for students attending Summerfest this year and $2,640.47 for the Windham Middle School Guitar Club.

Town council Chair Mark Morrison said he serves on the Substance Prevention Grant Committee and both applications were enthusiastically approved by committee members before forwarding them to the council for a vote.

Back in July 2021, members of the Windham Town Council committed to using cannabis licensing fees imposed by the town for retail and medical marijuana facilities for drug education and drug prevention programs. The fund grows with each license renewal fee paid to the town and members of the Substance Prevention Grant Committee process grant applications and make recommendations to the council for disbursement for worthwhile programs.

The Mobile Escape Rooms project for Summerfest is a project between Be The Influence coalition and Windham Police Department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program.

Morrison said the WMS Guitar Club project is deserving of help and the grant will help students to obtain guitars and receive lessons in how to play them.

During the council meeting, Windham Town Manager also briefed councilors about the status and funding for the town’s sewer installation project.

Tibbetts said originally, Windham was able to obtain $2 million in funding from the federal government for the creation of a new wastewater treatment plant and that the town is now seeking additional funding to help connect it to Windham High School and close the treatment plant there, which is one of only two school districts located east of the Mississippi River with its own wastewater treatment system.

He says Windham will be seeking even more than the original funding for that initiative.

“We’re looking to get them hooked up and closing the school wastewater plant which empties into the Pleasant River,” Tibbetts said.

The public will also be able to learn more about another significant upcoming town project in June, Tibbetts told councilors.

“On June 4 at Windham Town Hall, the public will be able to participate in a Windham Mobility Moves discussion with Maine Department of Transportation engineers about the creation of rear access roads,” Tibbetts said.

According to Tibbetts, residents attending that informal gathering from 4 to 6 p.m. will be able to review drafts and blueprints of design plans and speak with MDOT staff and engineers about the project, which is intended to relieve congestion along the Route 302 corridor in Windham.

In addition to that gathering, Tibbetts said a televised meeting and discussion will be aired from 6 to 8 p.m. including a question-and-answer session for the public regarding the characteristics of traffic movement here in North Windham.

Councilors also received notification that the speed limit for Swett Road extending north 1.61 miles from Chute Road to U.S. Route 202/Route 4 has been lowered from 35 mph to 30 mph following an official request for a review of the speed limit there by Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield.

In a letter to the town, Caty DeSouza, MDOT Southern Regional Assistant Traffic engineer, reminded councilors that the roadway is considered a “town way” and it is the responsibility of Windham to install and maintain all roadway signage reflecting the new speed limit of 30 mph in that area.

During the meeting, the council also held public hearings seeking public comments about proposed amendments to the 2016 Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map, to comply with the requirements of State Law LD 2003, to reduce the Growth Areas and expand the Rural Areas and the Route 302 Transitional Areas, proposed amendments to the Land Use Ordinance related to affordable housing developments and an amendment to the Official Land Use Map to align zoning district boundaries with the Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map growth area boundaries. Public hearings were also conducted for a proposed Moratorium Ordinance for Non-Residential Uses in the Shoreland Zoning Districts, and proposed amendments to the Town of Windham Land Use Ordinance regarding mural signage. <

In the public eye: Lifetime learning empowering for Windham/Raymond Adult Education Enrichment Program coordinator

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

By Ed Pierce

No two days are ever the same for RSU 14’s Enrichment Program/Marketing Coordinator Susan Garvin Colley and that’s exactly what she likes the most about her work.

RSU 14's Enrichment Program/Marketing Coordinator is
Susan Garvin Colley, who has worked for the district
since September 2022. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Colley has been with RSU 14 since September 2022 and is responsible for coordinating all aspects of the Windham/Raymond Adult Education (WRAE) Enrichment Program including creating classes, hiring contracted instructors, scheduling dates, times, and locations of classes offered. She also edits course descriptions for clear content and inclusion in WRAE’s twice-annual printed publications and creates print catalogs and digital media for promotion to the public.

It’s no small task as WRAE currently offers about 600 individual sessions of classes each year.

“I also am responsible for marketing aspects of Windham Raymond Adult Education as a whole, to include our academic learning including HiSET, high school completion, and English Language Learning, and career and college planning programming, as well as our active enrichment program,” Colley said.

According to Colley, she loves embracing the creativity of her work.

“I get to work with amazing, creative teachers, a highly devoted and inspired staff at WRAE, and I get to interact with folks in these two communities and beyond about the many ways we can bring enrichment opportunities to their lives,” she said. “It is especially rewarding when a community member brings the challenge of an idea for a class to us. Finding ways to make that class happen is a joy.”

She’s found that the greatest challenge in her duties is finding available space to offer classes.

“The WRAE building has two decent-sized classrooms that are almost always occupied with classes morning, afternoon, and evening. Because of our small night-time staff, we try to keep as many of our evening classes right on campus so that we can support our teachers and students. The lack of gym space on campus is by far the greatest challenge. We have so many folks who want to offer and/or attend recreational, exercise and other classes that require a larger, gym-type space and we have been unable to regularly schedule the gyms on campus. We’re very grateful to Windham Parks & Recreation for the gym time they allow us at the Town Hall for our ongoing Line Dance classes and to the North Windham Union Church, UCC for working with us to provide classes in both Yoga and Cardio Exercise.”

One of the biggest misconceptions people may have about her work with WRAE is the type and amount of programming that they offer, Colley said.

“We’ve almost doubled our offerings in the past couple of years and have added many high-quality certificate programs in a variety of high demand business topics,” she said. “The other big misconception about WRAE is that WRAE classes are only available to residents of Windham and Raymond. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any adult from anywhere can register and enjoy classes at WRAE. The more, the merrier.”

Born in Sanford and living most of her life in Springvale, Colley attended Bay Path College in Springfield, Massachusetts, studying Business with a focus on tourism and travel planning. After earning her degree, she returned to Southern Maine.

“After a few experiments with customer service and financial jobs, I stumbled across adult education and began my joyful participation as an enrichment instructor for MSAD #57 at Massabesic Adult and Community Education in Waterboro,” Colley said. “I took on a more permanent role as their evening receptionist, became involved in the creation of the enrichment calendar, and learned how to create and publish the catalogs, and the rest is history.”

When the Enrichment Coordinator position opened at RSU 14, Colleye she was drawn to apply because she had been very fortunate to work with WRAE’s Director Tom Nash twice before in her career.

“We both ‘got our start’ in adult education at MSAD #57, and years later worked together at Sanford Community Adult Education,” she said. “I know and appreciate Tom’s commitment to adult education, his creativity, and his support of his staff, and I was very excited at the prospect of partnering with him again with enrichment programming. We’ve always been a good team.”

Of everything she’s learned since joining RSU 14, Colleye said she finds the support of the RSU 14 Administration to be incredibly positive and supportive in providing Lifelong Learning programming including academic instruction, career training, self-help topics, recreational activities, and general fun to residents.

“This is a very diverse and committed community, hard-working and supportive of each other,” Colley said. “We have great resources and opportunities and it’s empowering to be part of it.” <

Pride’s Corner could soon be site of treasure hunt

By Ed Pierce

It’s a complicated tale not many people know about, but it might result in the discovery of a long-lost treasure beyond anyone’s wildest imagination and resolve one of the greatest mysteries in British history. And it could be found right here in Windham.

One English Civil War silver coin recently sold for $80,000.
A Windham man believes a treasure containing 3,700 
English Civil War coins may be buried in Pride's Corner
near Highland Lake. COURTESY PHOTO  
Sometime in the mid-1960s, reportedly two hunters from Windham found a 50-pound lump of half-melted silver coins from the British Civil War era in Suckfish Brook near Highland Lake. Now six decades later, Dan Pride of Windham is searching for answers about that discovery and the remainder of a little-known treasure that changed the course of the British monarchy.

Here’s how it all started.

On Dec. 6, 1648, at the conclusion of the English Civil War, Colonel Thomas Pride and a contingent of soldiers stood outside the entrance to St. Stephen's Chapel in the House of Commons of England and as the Commons convened that morning, they arrested 45 members and excluded a further 186 Royalists. It became known as “Pride’s Purge” and eventually led to the trial of English King Charles I for high treason. Found guilty by an English court, King Charles was executed in public at Whitehall before thousands including English statesman Oliver Cromwell.

The identity of the executioner, hidden in a hood, wig, and fake beard, is officially unknown but a local family legend has now been confirmed by a riddle left by Oliver Cromwell before his death, six Massachusetts baptismal records from 1686, a direct statement by King Charles II which reveals the crown’s reasons for hiding the executioner’s identity for three centuries, and new revealing datasets from Ancestry.com show that Joseph Pride, the founder of Prides Corner, Maine, was the executioner of King Charles I.

A decade after the purge in 1658, General Thomas Pride, the Knighted Grandee of Oliver Cromwell's victorious New Model Army, and member of the English House of Lords, died. Two years later, after the English Restoration of King Charles’ son, King Charles II in 1660, the body of Thomas Pride was ordered dug up and posthumously executed, suspended on the gallows at Tyburn along with those of Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton and John Bradshaw, although it is said that the sentence was never carried out because his corpse was too far decayed. The Royalists then attempted to hang his son, Joseph Pride, who barely escaped.

“According to Pride family legend, the escape from the king’s men had a dramatic and ironic twist,” said Dan Pride, a descendant of Jospeh Pride. “With Red Coats hot on his heels, Joseph ran down a hill, out a dock, and dove into the sea and swam to a longboat that had already departed the dock. Purely by luck, it was the last longboat to a ship which was setting sail to the New World, and he got away.”

Upon the death of his father, Joseph Pride had inherited 4,000 silver coins from his father and is thought to have brought them with him to America.

Joseph Pride thereafter hid in Prides Corner in Maine for 26 years as the King of England and the entire British Empire sought him to kill him. He then emerged to baptize the six children he and his wife, Jane Pride, successfully raised on the shores of Highland Lake in the wilderness of Maine. They traveled with six small children on empty winter roads, avoiding the Red Coats, to the First Church in Beverly Mass. on Dec 12, 1686, one year after his pursuer, King Charles II, had died, and the fury of the manhunt for him had lessened.

His son, also known as Joseph Pride, registered a parcel of land in Falmouth/Westbrook area now known as Prides Corner and 65 years later in 1726, land registrations began in Maine.

The remains of his cabin, depicted on an early painted plate, circa 1725, are located at Mast and Pride Farm Road, and neighbor to the Puringtons. The area was plowed several years ago but was carefully examined beforehand. The painted plate was handed down through the generations, along with the story, and is missing today, Dan Pride says. The site of the farm depicted on the plate is against a gentle hill in a field, possibly covered with trees now.

According to Dan Pride, Joseph Pride would have been unable to spend the coins for himself, at any point during his lifetime. Circulating distinctive and uncommon New Model Army minted silver would have led the British Red Coats to his door in short order in the small and confined colonial economy. The coins were a mortal threat to him, not a source of wealth. It wouldn't matter if he spent them or someone else did, he would be dead either way, and it’s probably why he apparently never even told his kids about the coins.

Dan Pride suspects that to possibly conceal the silver coins, Joseph Pride partially melted 300 of them into the 50-pound silver lump found by the hunters near Highland Lake in the 1960s. He believes the other 3,700 coins were buried on or near his property and they remain there to this day. Recently one coin from the same period was auctioned for $80,000. That would make the missing coins worth $234 million in today’s currency.

Joseph Pride's refuge in the Mast Road area was no accident and it was not random, Dan Pride says. His father, Lord Thomas Pride, had become fabulously wealthy as a supplier of lumber and building materials used to build the British Fleet and the supplies used to sustain it throughout the 1650s. With an abundant supply of lumber, the Mast Road area served as a plentiful resource to build British sailing vessels. Whomever cut it, Highland Lake Masting created safe, extremely remote, and cleared land of the finest farming quality, functional transport both out for lumber and masts and in for supplies, not to mention for hiding 4,000 silver coins by burying them there.

The story of the coins was passed down through generations of Prides and now Dan Pride is about to embark upon a search to try and find the missing silver coins in conjunction with current property owners in the area. If he succeeds, the identity of the executioner of King Charles I will be confirmed, and the legend of the missing treasure will become a reality. <

April 5, 2024

Lessard joins Royal River Conservation Trust as Conservation Director

By Ed Pierce

Decades from now, the legacy that Amanda Lessard has left for future generations of Windham residents will still be felt.

Amanda Lessard has served as Windham
Planning Director since 2019 and has been
with the town's planning department since
2014. She is leaving to become the Conservation
Director of the Royal River Conservation
Trust in Yarmouth. COURTESY PHOTO 
Lessard, who has served as Windham’s Planning Director since 2019, has accepted the position as Conservation Director of the Royal River Conservation Trust in Yarmouth and will be leaving her job with the town this week. She has spent the past 10 years working for Windham, the first five as a planner before her promotion to Planning Director. During that time, Lessard has been a stalwart and tireless worker behind the scenes for town government, involved in everything from the creation of Windham’s Comprehensive Plan, handling zoning issues, reviewing subdivision and commercial building plans to the development of the town’s Open Space Master Plan.

She remains a champion for land stewardship and retaining Windham’s rural atmosphere while ensuring town policies and practices focus on recreation and open space in Windham for the future.

“Rural character is central to Windham’s identity as a community,” Lessard said during a 2020 interview. “Being proactive about open space in the face of strong residential growth pressures will help preserve community character and ensure that Windham’s most important open spaces will remain available for future Windham residents. Building partnerships with organizations that value conservation and outdoor recreation will help the town meet its own open space goals.”

Among her achievements as Planning Director for Windham are a partnership with Presumpscot Regional Land Trust to purchase and conserve 661 acres near Little Duck Pond in East Windham. The project acquired the forested acreage for recreational opportunities in Windham while also adding 1,545 feet of undeveloped water frontage on Little Duck Pond, the 150-acre Deer Wintering Area for hunting, and Atherton Hill. She helped Windham obtain a $1 million grant from the Land for Maine’s Future initiative for the project. In 2021, voters from Windham approved a $1.8 million conservation bond using open space impact fees and another $400,000 raised privately from public donations. A Land and Water Conservation Fund federal grant of $500,000 also was obtained to pay for the infrastructure improvements at the site which will have its grand opening in May and will become one of largest unfragmented forests in the Greater Portland region.

As Planning Director, Lessard was instrumental and played a key role in the town’s creation of a new $40.4 million sewer and wastewater treatment project for North Windham. Voters passed a 2023 referendum authorizing the project after decades of proposals, studies, and ballot failures and once completed, a new wastewater treatment facility is under construction on the grounds of Manchester School, which will address environmental issues in North Windham by removing 25,000 pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants each year being dumped by septic systems into the aquifer and watershed.

The installation of sewers is expected to stimulate significant economic growth in Windham going forward and lead to development in the area by industries and businesses not willing to locate here because of associated septic system issues and costs. Through a special agreement between RSU 14 and the Town of Windham, in exchange for locating the new wastewater treatment site at Manchester School, the town will construct four new playing fields for youth sports at the school this year.

She’s also been part of the development of a master plan for the South Windham/Little Falls Village area to bring more focus on what that area will look like in the future. That includes adding more available parking in South Windham, the sale of the old South Windham Fire Station and bringing a new restaurant to that site, road improvements and new sidewalks.

Lessard became interested in community planning after working for the Maine Department of Transportation. She has a degree in geography and her skill in GIS mapping led to her first job with MDOT. While working there, she took community planning classes at the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, and it ignited her interest in working for a municipality. She lives in Westbrook and is married and the mother of a son.

During her tenure as Planning Director, she added a mapping function for the town planning department’s web page and that allows the public to view where projects are under review. As a result, the Windham Planning Department has become more transparent as residents can stay informed about new construction or how they may be impacted by a proposed development near them.

“I think it is in everyone’s best interest to be able to have residents be able to understand what the process is and how to participate in a meaningful way to shape what a development will look like,” Lessard said in 2021. “This includes engagement in the big picture topics as well as site specific development.”

In assisting in the formulation of Windham’s Open Space Master Plan, Lessard said effective planning aligns with the desire of Windham residents and the Windham Town Council to encourage compatible growth in the future by managing aspects of growth and development while providing significant long term economic benefits and helping the town avoid costly mistakes of misusing available open-space resources.

She said the plan provides the criteria needed for the town to make smart and strategic decisions when identifying properties that would fulfill the needs of the community with goals that include enhanced protections for surface waters and wetlands( especially in the watersheds most at risk of development) and for streams and rivers and the purchase of development rights to keep properties in private ownership, most applicable in situations where the land is used for production, like farming, pasture and hay fields, and woodlots.

Her last day working for Windham will be April 9.

“She will be very much missed for sure,” said Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts. <

Parks & Recreation Deputy Director receives Dr. Bill Eckart Young Professional of the Year Award

By Masha Yurkevich

On Monday, March 18 during the Maine Recreation & Parks Conference, Kelsey Crowe, Deputy Director for Windham Parks & Recreation, received the Dr. Bill Eckart Young Professional of the Year Award.

Kelsey Crowe, the Deputy Director 
for Windham Parks and Recreation,
is the 2024 recipient of the Dr.
Bill Eckhart Young Professional
of the Year Award.
Eckart retired from the University of Maine at Machias in 2011 after 31 years as Professor of Recreation Management. During his tenure, he built the program into one of the most respected ones in the country, and it was Maine’s only nationally accredited recreation degree program. He was an active member of MRPA, serving as Treasurer on the Board of Directors, spearheading the professional certification program, and managing membership.

The requirements and qualifications to be awarded the Dr. Bill Eckart Young Professional of the Year Award consist of a review of Employment History and Experience, Education, Professional Affiliation, Program Development, and Professional Involvement.

Crowe is from Gorham, graduating from Gorham High School in 2009 and going on to attend Thomas College where she earned a bachelor's degree in sport management and a master's degree in business administration. During college, Crowe worked for Gorham Parks and Recreation in the summer and after graduating college, she worked part time for them as the Before and After the Bell Supervisor.

A few years later, she became the Administrative Assistant for Windham Parks & Recreation and was promoted to Deputy Director and now has three years of working for the Town of Windham.

“As the Deputy Director, my hand is in almost everything our department does, but some of my larger roles are coordinating our summer day camps, coordination for our community events, stepping in for the Director when the director is out of the office, and overall, just making sure the office is running smoothly,” says Crowe. “On the side, I also do CPR/AED/First Aid training for the department, I coach eighth grade softball for Gorham and have a small training and consulting business with a friend where we go to different towns to help train their summer camp staff.”

She has served as the Deputy Director of Windham’s Parks & Recreation Department since 2020.

“Although I spend a lot of time on the computer replying to emails, setting up programs and planning events, I get out of the office as much as I can,” says Crowe. “Helping with programs, going shopping for events, or going to visit our parks. When I do have to spend my day in our office, there is usually a lot of laughter because we do like to have fun throughout the day, which makes me love my job and coming into the office every day.”

A popular adage says that “If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life” and this is true for Crowe.

“My favorite part of my job is being part of our large community events, February Formal, Holiday Celebration, Trunk or Treat, Summerfest and seeing everyone come together as a community. Summer camp is also another reason I love my job,” Crowe says. “Although there are many moving pieces coordinating summer camp, I have joy just knowing the kids have a fun and safe place to spend their summer. During the summer, if I am not in my office, I am at one of our camps playing games or having lunch with the kids.”

Knowing that the child at summer camp who has a hard home life is having an amazing time at camp, or the student in the after-school karate class finally found a friend, or a senior citizen who just lost their significant other finally leaves their house to go on a senior outing and is able to laugh again are what Crowe says that she wants to accomplish while working for Windham Parks & Recreation.

Crowe had no idea that she was receiving this award until she walked into the event hall at the Samoset Resort for dinner and her parents, co-workers, and close friends were all sitting at the table.

“It was definitely a surprise,” she says. “I am a behind the scenes type of person, meaning I don't often get recognized for doing my job, but knowing that my co-workers and bosses notice and want to recognize all of the hard work I do for the department, I am very appreciative and grateful for that.” <