Friday, December 8, 2017

Senator Diamond helps unveil Maine bicentennial license plate

The new bicentennial license plate, celebrating Maine’s upcoming 200th anniversary in 2020, was presented at a ceremony at the Maine State Museum on Monday. Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, joined Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and other officials and members of the Maine Bicentennial Commission.

“It’s exciting to help unveil this license plate because it signals the work of the Commission is beginning in earnest,” said Sen. Diamond, a former Secretary of State. “We have an excellent group of people, all focused on giving our great state the celebration and acknowledgement it deserves. I look forward to more ceremonies like this one, and I thank Secretary Dunlap and his office for creating this attractive license plate. I’ve already bought one!”

The plate costs $25 and proceeds go toward the coordinated celebration marking the anniversary of Maine’s independence from Massachusetts in 1820. Plates may only be displayed on the front of a vehicle or in the rear window and can be purchased from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles via mail or at 13 branch offices across the state. Beginning on December 15, plates will be available for purchase online. Details are available at the BMV’s website dedicated to the license plates at

Helpful suggestions for lakeside residents to keep our waters healthy by Jennifer Davis

As concerns grow around the water quality at Highland Lake, so does the environmental awareness and stewardship of those who live in the surrounding area – not only in the Highland Lake watershed but all lakes and waterways in the Windham and Raymond Area. There are many ways in which we, as property owners and renters, can do our part to help ease the stress that has been placed on these bodies of water.
Phosphorus is naturally found in all soils. It attaches itself to the soil sediments. “The amount of phosphorus in the soil is in part a function of the recent history of the soil,” said Jeff Dennis, Biologist at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. “If the soil is, or in the last 100 years was, in agricultural use and thus enriched with manure and fertilizer, it’s likely to have more phosphorus associated with it than if it has always been a forest soil. The same is true for landscaped areas that are fertilized.”  

As erosion occurs, the phosphorus begins to travel, landing in the man-made culverts and ditches where it has a direct line to water sources such as our lakes. The best way to prevent this is to reduce man-made interventions and keep the most natural flow of the runoff.

For those people living in a watershed area, it is important to be informed about products we use that have phosphorus in them, such as fertilizer for our lawns; and the effect that using them can have on our waters. This will increase the amount of phosphorus in the soil and in turn the amount that moves as erosion occurs.  

The best thing to keep in mind is to try to reduce human intervention; keep land and water runoff as nature intended it to be whenever possible. Pay attention to watershed areas and work to reduce the amount of fertilizers that are used that will increase the amount of phosphorus in the soil.  

The following list offers a few suggestions on ways humans can assist in producing less phosphorus. 

This list was provided by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and offers recommendations for both the homeowner and farmer.

For the homeowner:

Use no-phosphorus fertilizer on lawns and gardens - sure to check the bags when you buy them. Look for the package formula of nitrate-phosphorus-potassium, such as 22-0-15. The middle number, representing phosphorus, should be 0.

Keep grass clippings in the lawn -
When mowing the grass, avoid blowing grass clippings into the street, where they wash into storm sewers that drain to lakes and rivers.
Keep leaves and other organic matter out of the street
Again, streets drain to storm sewers, which in turn drain to rivers and lakes.

Sweep it -
Sweep up any grass clippings or fertilizer spills on driveways, sidewalks and streets.
Leave a wide strip of deep-rooted plants along shore lands.
Instead of planting and mowing turf grass here, plant wildflowers, ornamental grasses, shrubs or trees. These plantings absorb and filter runoff that contains nutrients and soil, as well as provide habitat for wildlife.

For the farmer:

Buffer strips help -
Leave a wide strip of deep-rooted plants along ditches, streams and lakes to absorb and filter runoff. Many programs, including ditch authorities, pay rent for these filter strips.  

Change the plan on marginal land -
Plant marginal cropland to perennial crops or convert to water retention areas.

Use smarter drainage -
Install controlled drainage systems instead of traditional pattern tiling.

Manage the nutrients -
Follow nutrient management plans to ensure efficiencies and protect water resources.

Manage the manure -
Follow manure management plans, including setbacks from water resources when applying manure to fields.

Together when we remain educated on the best ways to reduce phosphorus in our lakes, our lakes will be much healthier for us all to enjoy as well as for future generations.

Legislative update: Ready to build on 2017’s successes by Senator Bill Diamond

During the holiday season, I like to reflect on the previous year and think about how I can best serve my communities in the Maine Senate. I start by looking back on the previous year, measuring our successes and considering what more could be done.

While working on my annual newsletter, it occurred to me that 2017 saw some great strides made by the Legislature. For instance, while the budget process was more difficult than in the past, we came away with real property tax relief. The Homestead Property Tax Exemption was increased by 33 percent, bringing the total exemption up to $20,000.

Property taxes have been too high for too long and can be crippling for many of our neighbors,
particularly those on fixed incomes. I will keep working toward providing more relief at the state level. In the meantime, if you have owned your permanent residence in Maine for at least a year, print the application from the following website and drop it off at your town office:

This year, I was fortunate to have bipartisan support for bills that will protect some of Maine’s most vulnerable residents. I worked with Shared Hope International, an organization dedicated to keeping children safe from sexual exploitation, on a bill that strengthens punishments for those predators who would sexually abuse children.

I am grateful that the bill passed and was signed into law by the governor, and I am equally thankful that my initiative to hire more staff in the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit to prosecute offenses related to child exploitation was included in the budget. These are significant steps toward defending our kids from the very worst people among us, and I am proud to have taken the lead on seeing them through.

Likewise, my bill to keep insurance companies from preying on seniors by charging higher premiums for auto coverage based solely on age won support from a broad range of legislators and became law. I will seize every opportunity to defend elderly Mainers from exploitation. Our seniors have contributed so much and deserve respect, not corporate schemes and swindles., Mainers can breathe easy about accessing federal buildings, military bases and airplanes using their drivers’ licenses. My bill to bring the state into compliance with federal Real ID guidelines, which require strengthened security features on state and federally issued ID cards, was passed and is now law. The Department of Homeland Security repeatedly issued extensions in hopes that Maine would reverse course, and these reprieves were set to run out if the Legislature failed to act, resulting in confusion and chaos for many of us. I am glad that my colleagues and I were able to work together and stop this problem before it started.

Regrettably, the governor chose not to sign my bill making it easier to catch and punish those who
make our roads more dangerous by texting and driving.  Next year, I’ll keep working to make our roads safe so that fewer Mainers will be injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents. Distracted driving is a serious problem that must be addressed in an effort to protect innocent people from being injured and killed unnecessarily.

Common ground exists here in Augusta, and I am fortunate to serve with people all across the political spectrum who are willing to find it. I look forward to continuing our work in January.

I’m curious to know what you think. Please feel free to contact me at or (207) 287-1515 if you have questions or comments.

Troop #745 lending a hand in their community

Girl Scout Brownie Troop #745 responded to a need in the community to assist a local organization, Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals (MSSPA). MSSPA is New England’s largest horse shelter; taking in abused or neglected horses.  
Last month, the troop met outside the barn ready to receive directions from one of MSSPA’s volunteers.  

The volunteer taught Troop #745 the ropes of cleaning out the horses’ stalls. When the girls first learned about the volunteer opportunity at MSSPA, their leaders reminded them that when volunteering, one does what is needed; the job may not always be fun or clean.  

They still agreed that as a troop they wanted to help. They cleaned several of the horses’ stalls and the horse Noel’s paddock. They enjoyed meeting Noel.

The girls said they had fun and wanted to return to help another time. 

It was a great experience to see all the volunteers in motion; many hands making light work to keep the farm running. The work feels good when you see the beautiful animals that are benefiting from it.
Girl Scouts of Maine builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. GSME provides services and support to over 12,000 girl and adult members statewide, and operates service centers and shops in South Portland and Bangor.

Everlasting Gratitude Wreath Program thankful for support

Legion Everlasting Gratitude Wreath Program had the community out in force on Saturday morning, December 2 at Arlington and Smith Cemeteries.  

Members of the following organizations provided support:  Field-Allen Post and Unit (ALA) 148, Studio Flora personnel, Kiwanis, Rotary and Boy Scout Troop 805 all contributed to the cause.

The above organizations and the public descended upon Arlington Cemetery at 9 a.m. to attach bows to the wreaths and then place them on over 300 Veteran’s Graves. At the same time, the cadre from the Windham High School Cadet Corp was busy placing 200 wreaths on the veterans’ graves at Smith Cemetery on Route 202.  

Over 850 wreaths have been placed on veteran’s graves in three days at all the Windham cemeteries. 
Members of VFW Post 10643 provided coverage to the cemeteries in the northern half of the town and Legion Field-Allen Post members placed wreaths on cemeteries on River, Highland Cliff, Chute, and Nash Roads in the southern part of town.  

The Everlasting Gratitude Wreath Program originally started by Libby Jordon of Studio Flora is now organized by the Field-Allen Post with support from Studio Flora. Plans are already underway to continue the Wreath Program for 2018.