Friday, June 23, 2017

Protecting our environment by Rep. Jess Fay

I learned to swim in the clear, cool water of Maine’s lakes. When I was a little girl, I could see the bottom so clearly, that the logs that sunk on the old log drives were easily visible. Generations of my family learned to swim by climbing on the rocks and jumping off. The water is still clear, but nutrient runoff and warmer temperatures have changed things. Those rocks now have a thin layer of algae on them that make them slippery and hard to climb on without a firm grip.

Many of us have stories like that, changes that we’ve seen over something as short as just a generation. We are lucky in Maine, though. We have one of the most beautiful, pristine environments anywhere and we benefit greatly from it. It is part of our Maine “brand” and makes Maine particularly special. People come from all over the world to enjoy Maine. Tourism is one of our biggest industries, with almost 34 million tourist visits in 2015. 

Visitors spent about $5.5 billion and tourism employs about 90,000 Mainers. If we want to keep and attract new residents, one of our best selling points is our quality of place, our quality of life. Our clean natural surroundings offer other important benefits.  

Our fisheries and our agriculture, with iconic Maine products like blueberries and lobster, and each depend on the purity of our environment. A lot of that is under threat though from outside our borders. Climate change is already impacting things here. Our average temperature has risen 3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1895, and we are seeing fewer shrimp, more ticks and mosquitos, and more severe storms. Continued warming of the Gulf of Maine will pose a greater and greater risk to our lobster industry. 

These impacts can cause secondary problems, too. More storms bring more erosion of our shoreline: more gully-washers that carry more silt and other runoff into our lakes and rivers. These pose threats to both fish habitat and water quality. More bugs aren’t just a nuisance problem; they mean greater risk of contracting Lyme disease, West Nile virus and other serious illnesses. 

Another threat from outside comes from Washington. Much of our efforts to protect our natural resources here in Maine are funded by grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but the federal budget, proposed by the Trump administration, calls for cutting EPA funding by 31 percent. While no one at this point knows exactly where these possible federal cuts will end up, the results could be very problematic for Maine. Cuts in funding will impact a wide variety of programs, including funding for the important research that drives good environmental policy. 

Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord is dangerous, not just for Maine, but for everyone.  The actions laid out may well be the last best hope for preventing the earth’s temperature from rising to a critical, catastrophic point. 

Maine has historically recognized the importance of our environment and worked hard to protect it. Concerning combatting climate change, we were early adopters of a “cap and trade” system, which seeks to lower carbon emissions through market forces. The system, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (REGGI), started in 2008. In addition to the carbon reductions that come directly from REGGI, the money it generates goes to fund Efficiency Maine, which further lowers emissions by increasing the energy efficiency of Maine homes and businesses. Maine is also moving toward greater use of cleaner fuels, like natural gas, and renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and biomass. 

All of this means, despite changes in Washington, that Maine at least is doing its part to meet the goals of the Paris accord. We need to do more, though. We need to build on structures like REGGI, where we work with other states to collectively do all we can to reduce emissions and stay within the goals of the Paris Accord. 

We also need to do more at the state level to prevent pollution here if the proposed EPA cuts come to pass and Maine should lose that funding. We need to build a strong clean energy industry here in Maine and make clean energy a part of our Maine brand. And we must keep up the pressure on our federal representatives to reverse the U. S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord, and to maintain EPA funding that is critical to Maine. Maine’s environment is integral to our way of life and who we are. I am determined to do all I can to protect it, now and for the future.
Fay is serving her first term in the Maine Legislature and represents part of Casco, part of Poland and part of Raymond.  She serves on the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

In the Stacks at the Windham Public Library By Jen Alvino, Library Director

As the school year comes to a close, library staff members are ready for a busy summer. We begin planning early in the spring for the Summer Reading Program that runs through August 28 this year. This year’s theme is Build a Better World. 
Our calendar is full of activities such as crafts, movie showings, book discussions, creative writing sessions and letterboxing. Summer Reading is a great way to keep adults and teens engaged in reading throughout the summer and you may even win a prize! For younger children, continuing to read throughout the summer is a key to academic success and avoiding the summer slide. In addition, if you are looking for a place to cool off from the heat, we are open 6 days a week, the building is air conditioned, and there is plenty to keep you busy. Besides reading a book, magazine or the newspaper, you can sit and do puzzles, play a board game, or use one of our public access computers.

After Summerfest, Reid Stories, our intrepid chicken will return. Kids can begin searching the library for him on Monday, June 26. You never know where in the library Reid may be hiding. When you find him, let a staff person know so you can choose your prize from the treasure box. The chicken won’t be here long so be sure to stop in to see him soon!

Stop by the library and speak to a staff person for all the details about Summer Reading and check out our online calendar for information about all our programs. Join us! There’s something for everyone. All programs are free and open to the public. Be sure to visit our website and Facebook page for the most up to date news and information about all our programs or call 207-892-1908.

I hope to see you in the library soon!

Student of the week: Natasha Pongratz

Natasha Pongratz, a fifth-grade student in Mrs. Crockett’s and Ms. Estey’s classrooms at Jordan-Small Middle School, is The Windham Eagle’s student of the week. The eleven year-old enjoys horseback riding, dancing and playing softball.

Mrs. Crockett and Ms. Etsey selected Pongratz for student of the week because she exhibits a diligence in doing her work well.  “Tasha gets along well with her classmates and she always has a positive attitude,” her teachers stated. “She demonstrates respect toward adults and she fully participates in all activities.” 

Words used to describe Pongratz include: engaged, compassionate, friendly and kind.
Pongratz lives at home with her Mom, Dad, 2 brothers, Nemo the dog, and two cats

Favorite subject: Math
Favorite movie: “Pete’s Dragon”
Favorite music group: Taylor Swift

Maine Credit Union League presents Annual Awards to four individuals including one with local ties

(Portland, ME) - As part of its recent 79th Annual Meeting and Convention held in Portland, the Maine Credit Union League presented its Annual Awards to four individuals who combined, have nearly 120 years of experience being involved with Maine's credit unions. One of this year’s winners is with a credit union that serves Cumberland and York County, and lives in Windham.

(L to R) Wallace with Ken Acker, Pres./CEO of TruChoice FCU
The Jeannette G. Morin Award for Outstanding CU Employee went to Beverly Wallace of Windham, Member Service Representative at TruChoice FCU in Portland and Buxton. A 39-year employee with the credit union, Wallace was praised as, “being the heart and soul of the credit union. Beverly takes time to mentor staff, and provide outstanding service to members.” Wallace received the Award as she is ending her career; she retired on June 5 - 39 years to the day after she started working at the credit union. Wallace called the honor, “a special way to end doing something I have truly loved."   

More than 850 credit union representatives and guests attended this year’s Convention held in May in Portland; the largest crowd in more than two decades.  

“These awards represent values that are important to Maine’s credit unions - involvement, engagement and commitment. The individuals honored embody the cooperative spirit of credit unions, and reinforce this year’s theme of ‘Maine credit unions - A World of Opportunity’ because their dedication has created opportunities that benefit their credit union, members and/or the community,” explained Todd Mason, President of the Maine Credit Union League.

The Maine CU League’s Annual Awards have been presented annually since 1973.

“Maine is, in many ways, a big, small town, where people make such a difference and give so much to make our communities and the state such a special place. We are privileged to count many of these individuals as staff and volunteers in the credit union movement. They are a big reason why Maine has one of the most vibrant and strongest credit union systems in the country,” added Mason.

About the Maine Credit Union League:
Formed in 1938, the Maine Credit Union League is the State Trade Association for Maine’s 58 credit unions and more than 685,000 members, providing a variety of services and products to assist credit unions in meeting the needs of their membership.  For more information, visit:

Odyssey of the Mind Team return from 2017 World Finals by Lorraine Glowczak

Five Odyssey of the Mind (OM) students from Windham Primary School (WPS) competed in the 2017 World Finals, held at Michigan State University on May 24 through 27. This is the first time WPS OM World Final participants competed against the more than 825 teams from around the world and they learned much from their four-day adventure.
Three of the five young scholars, Nick Verrill, Nick Jenkins and Ewen O’Shea, were available to share some of their experiences upon their recent return, just before lunch during their last week of classes. (Cameron Weeks and Marek Stomczynski were unavailable at the time of the interview.)
Nicholas Jenkins, Cameron Weeks (sitting), Nicholas Verrill, Ewan O'Shea

“One of the best parts was visiting the booths from all the cities and countries that were competing there,” stated O’Shea.

OM competitions included Long-Term Problems, of which teams create and develop solutions to the problems presented. It also included Spontaneous Problems, where the teams are presented an issue and must solve it in five to eight minutes. The solutions to the problems are presented verbally or hands-on and combination of both. The verbal problem required the team to creatively respond to a question in a verbal and creative manner. The hands-on problems required the teams to impulsively respond to a question by interacting with one another spontaneously. The Combination Spontaneous Problem Solving required both physical and verbal activity. All the competitions were completed without adult assistance.

Although the competition itself was the key focus and purpose of the World Finals, meeting and talking to a diverse group of students from all over the world was also an important part of the learning adventure. “Every group had a pin and we could swap them as keepsakes,” O’Shea shared; “I got a pin from China.”

There were also various other activities amid the competitions.

“The opening ceremonies were my favorite,” Verrill said. “They had beach balls, balloons and even t-shirt cannons that shot t-shirts in the air. It was fun.”

The students also took a moment to take a picture with OM mascot, Omer. “Omar is a racoon because racoons are smart,” O’Shea explained.

“I am so very glad the team had this opportunity to experience World Finals,” stated April O’Shea the OM Team Coach. “From meeting and seeing kids from around the world perform their solutions, to talking to NASA scientists, to attending parades and dance parties, this trip was inspiring. They plan on working even harder next year to earn a trip to the 2018 Finals.”

For those who might be interested in creating a team of their own, the experienced OM team offered a few pieces of advice to success. “It’s really important to keep it [Long-Term and Spontaneous Problems] simple,” Verrill said.

“Stay focused” Jenkins said regarding the ability to succeed in the competitions.
"You can have fun, but you have to be willing to work hard so that you get a good score at the tournament," Weeks stated by email.

Good luck to the 2018 OM Team as they prepare for next year.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Student of the week is Liza Powers

Liza Powers, a student in Ms.Simoneau’s class at Raymond Elementary School, is The Windham Eagle’s student of the week. The 6 year-old enjoys soccer, swimming and spending time with her best friend Hailey.
Ms. Simoneau selected Liza for student of the week because she is a role model to her peers when following the I Care Rules and their class code of cooperation.

Powers’ favorite subject is science and she states that studying animals is what makes learning fun for her.

Powers lives at home with her dad (Scott), her mom (Stephanie), her sister (Winnie) and a cat.

Favorite movie: Disney Movies
Favorite music group: Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t stop the Feeling”
Favorite holiday: Easter

2017 Project Graduation, an exciting night full of wholesome entertainment and activity by Lorraine Glowczak

After one full year of fundraisers and successfully meeting the monetary goal to provide a chemical free post-graduation party for the 2017 graduates of Windham High School, the 2017 Project Graduation Committee is excited to share the events of the celebration.

Approximately 119 students joined in on the fun as the evening began with a light dinner Sunday evening after graduation on June 11. Leaving the Windham High School campus at 6 p.m., the students were bused to their first stop of the evening, Blitz Air Park in Portsmouth, NH. 

After bouncing around on wall-to-wall trampolines in the indoor park for two hours, the students set
off yet again, at 9 p.m. toward Boston. Arriving at 11 p.m., they were met by the Spirit of Boston Scenic Cruise boat and sailed around the Boston Harbor from midnight to 3 a.m.

Since the boat was available only to the graduates, and offered an open buffet of various foods, the students were free to enjoy a number of activities all to themselves. The graduates were able to choose from activities such as air brush tattoos, karaoke, photo booths, dancing, shuffle boarding and ping-pong, to name just a few. If a break is what they needed, they could also view the beauty of twinkling lights along the Boston coastline as it cruised around the harbor.  

Returning to Windham at approximately 5:15 a.m., the last leg of the journey took them to Applebee’s where a breakfast was enjoyed by all. After breakfast, each student was presented with gift certificates from Good Life Market in Raymond and Dunkin Donuts in Windham.

Returning to the WHS campus, all students left for home at 6:45 a.m. to begin a whole new and exciting life. Sleep was most likely first on their list.

“Everyone was well behaved and we all enjoyed ourselves very much,” stated Linda Berry, one of the parent members of the 2017 Project Grad. “As a result, we’d like to take a moment to thank the community for their support. Without it, the students would not have had a safe first night after-graduation party.”
The 2018 Project Grad has begun their fundraising efforts to provide next year’s students the same
opportunity of an alternative, safe and chemical free graduation celebration. The next fundraising event for the 2018 students will be at Seacoast Adventure on Sunday, June 25 from 7 to 10 p.m. A portion of all mini-golf and go-kart ticket sales will go to 2018 Project Grad.