Friday, June 30, 2017

How to turn off the air-conditioning this summer by Christina O'Brien, AIA

I understand that we can get some 90+ degree days (with high humidity) during the summer months, which is why air-conditioning is extremely tempting. Its cooling effects in the mid-summer heat are felt instantly. But before air-conditioning, architects and builders paid attention to the location of a building on a site. They shaded the southern side of the building with vegetation, designed plenty of windows to create cross-breezes and built deep, covered porches for shade and sipping lemonade.

But now houses are built to face a street, ignoring the direction of the sun and prevailing winds. And
lake cottages and vacation homes, which are so prevalent here in New England, are strictly built to face the view of the water or mountains, regardless of the direction they face.

Due to the growing costs of air-conditioning, not to mention the increased use of precious energy, many of us would prefer a more natural way to cool our homes this summer. So what can be done for the existing homes and vacation cottages that need extra cooling?

Here are a few budget friendly ideas:
Know When to Open Windows
When the temperature is comfortable and there are pleasant breezes outside, open your windows! There is no easier way to bring summertime into your home than to open a window, feel the fresh air and to hear the chirping birds; especially after being cooped up inside for a long, stuffy winter. But as the summer progresses and the heat intensifies, it is best to open your windows in the evening and overnight to help flush out any heat that has accumulated throughout the day. Close them in the morning and draw the blinds during the day (especially at the southern facing windows) and you'll be surprised to find that your home feels much cooler than the outside temperature. At first, I didn't like the idea of closing windows during the day and losing sunshine, but it does work, and is a much easier and less expensive alternative to air-conditioning. And if you're interested in investing some money into the idea, look at installing insulated blinds. They'll help keep the heat out during hot summer days and will help keep the heat in during cold winter nights.

Minor Renovations Make a Major Difference
Add a window or two. As an example, if you only have one window in a bedroom and don't get nice cross breezes during the cooler summer nights, you might consider adding a window to the space. It'll add more natural light to the room as well, which can also help lower your electric bill.

Screen-in a covered porch. I never knew about Black Fly Season until I moved to New Hampshire, but I now have some sympathy. If you have a covered porch or a deck that you don't use because the bugs carry you away, build a roof over your deck and screen it in! There are plenty of lovely summer evenings to enjoy outside rather than sitting in an air-conditioned house.

Plant some trees. Deciduous trees on the south side of a home will shade the southern windows in the summer, when the sun is most intense. Then the bare winter trees will also allow light and heat to come through those same windows when you need it the most. Understandably, this is more of a long term improvement, but you'll be amazed at how quickly those trees will grow.

Not only is turning off the air-conditioning better for the environment, but it's better for our families.
So let's be mindful that there are many days when an open window (and maybe a small fan) will keep us comfortable and keep us connected to the outdoors. We only get a few precious weeks of summer here in New England . . . it's important for us all to savor every last minute of it

Student of the Week: Alyssa Dismore

Alyssa Dismore, a kindergarten student in Mrs. Allen’s classroom at Raymond Elementary School, is The Windham Eagle’s student of the week. The five year-old enjoys swimming and playing on the playground.

“I selected Alyssa because she is a wonderful example of a kind and caring classmate,” Allen said. “She plays well with others and can also be content to explore materials on her own. In the classroom, she is always attentive and helpful to her teachers. She is an attentive listener and an excited learner. She engages in lessons by answering questions, sharing ideas and asking more questions. She is an independent worker.”

In her free time, Dismore likes to do free art at school, play with her dogs and bake with her mom.
Dismore lives at home with her parents and her three dogs, Skeeter, Keesha and Avalon

Favorite movie: “Secret Life of Pets”
Favorite music group/musician: Joan Jett, Queen, Taylor Swift, Dolly Parton
Favorite holiday: Christmas

Scholarship and Fellowship awards received by local teens from the Raymond Lions Club

On the evening of Friday, June 16 with family in attendance, the Raymond Lions Club announced the recipients of the 2017 scholarships. They include the following:

McKinsey Larson will be starting her sophomore year at the University of New Hampshire majoring in music education.

Anna Laprise will be starting her sophomore year at Connecticut College majoring in government.
Dylan Koza will be starting his sophomore year at the University of Maine in Orono majoring in Chemical Engineering.

Later in the evening, Gary Bibeau was awarded the Melvin Jones Fellowship, recognition of humanitarian work.  Bibeau has been active in the club since joining in 2013, helping with blood drives, scholarships, vision support and more. Bibeau spends hours serving the Raymond community at the Raymond Food Pantry. He also gathers food from multiple suppliers such as Good Shepherd and Hannaford, then organizes and coordinates volunteer workers to prepare for the biweekly distribution on the second and fourth Thursday of each month.  

Raymond Lions Club thanks the community for their support in raising the money for scholarships through bottle donations in bins at Raymond town office (Route 85) and Jordan Bay Animal Hospital (Route 302).

Garden talk by a light green thumb by Jennifer Davis

"Mommy!”  My six year old son began.  “You have a green thumb.”  I chuckled to myself and said  “Thank you.”  I do love to garden and grow my own food, but I would probably describe my thumb as more of a light green color.  With that being said, I reached out to Marge Govoni, a local gardening expert, to offer some advice to those with light green thumbs like me or with no green thumbs at all.  

Everyone has to begin somewhere when it comes to gardening.  Maybe it is your love for the outdoors or the feeling you get when you bring a basket full of produce into your home from your own garden.  My sons and I get so excited when we go out to our garden and grab some things to have with dinner; tomatoes with our salad or green beans for a side.  The taste is so delicious and fresh.  We had a small garden in a community garden in Charlestown MA, before we moved to Maine.  There is nothing like eating vegetables out of the garden,” Govoni said.  “That is when you realize how tasteless the vegetables you buy in a supermarket are. Also I found the prices at Farmers Markets too high for me” may sound great in theory, but one might ask how you get to the harvesting stage; what are the basics to start a garden?  “One, soil preparation; having the right pH levels, composting and keeping your garden weed free so they are not competing for the nutrients in the soil,”  Govoni states.  “Two, sufficient sun and water, and three, removing diseased leaves and plants so it doesn't spread to other plants.”  

Personally, I prefer to grow without using pesticides or herbicides.  “Anyone who gardens should check into Reemay to cover their seedlings until they are big and strong enough to survive an infestation of insects,” Govoni said.  “This product is similar to cheesecloth and will allow the sun and water to go through it.”

At this point in the season, gardens should be started.  “Your seeds and plants should be in the ground now,”  said Govoni.  “Plants should have been planted in early June and some seeds prior to that.”  Whether you begin your garden from seed or purchase seedlings from a local greenhouse, be prepared for failure, because that is when you have the best success.  “There are so many aspects of gardening and methods that I have found there is no wrong way to garden, after you are aware of the basics,” Govoni states.  “You would be very surprised at how many unorthodox gardening techniques work for some people so just enjoy it and learn from your mistakes.”

Gardening is hard work but very rewarding if you are willing to put in the effort.  Best of luck to everyone out there; those with green thumbs and those with no green thumb at all.  I hope this summer lends to an abundant harvest of the fresh foods you love from your very own garden.

A dedication ride for decorated Veteran Ed Ahearn

In honor a decorated veteran, Ed Ahearn and his recent passing, members of the Combat Vet Motorcycle Association, Rolling Thunder, Chapter 2 Maine and Patriot Guard Riders provided a motorcycle escort from Dolby Funeral Home to Ahearn’s final resting place at Arlington cemetery in Windham. Ahearn joined the United States Army where he proudly served his country for two years. During his tour in Vietnam, Ahearn was wounded by a landmine and exposure to Agent Orange, causing lifelong complications. He was a recipient of four Bronze Stars, the Silver Star, Medal of Valor and the Purple Heart.

Leaving dogs in hot vehicles is harmful to the health of the animal By Lisa Cronk, Windham Animal Control Officer

As the temperatures start to increase, so do the calls regarding dogs left unattended inside vehicles. On Thursday, May 18, when the highs reached 90°F here in Windham, Chris Costa from WCSH6 came out to the Windham Police Department to do an experiment regarding the potential dangers of keeping pets and kids inside of a vehicle during warm weather. We discovered that in just 15 minutes, the interior temperature of an SUV became over 100°F. 

Many people explain that they were “just running a quick errand” and sometimes they think they are taking the proper steps by parking in the shade, leaving water for their pets and cracking the windows but I am here to tell you that these steps are not enough to keep animals safe and comfortable. Dogs have a minimal amount of sweat glands so they must pant in order to cool themselves off. When breathing in warm, thick air, it is hard for dogs to create proper circulation in order to cool their bodies down. Leaving windows cracked also does not always allow for proper ventilation to adequately cool off the animal. 

If any citizen witnesses a dog inside of a vehicle exhibiting signs of heat stroke including: vigorous panting, labored breathing, staggering, excessive drooling, excessive thirst and dark or bright red tongue and gums - they can call into dispatch (892-2525) and give the location and description of the vehicle, as well as the signs of distress that the dog is displaying. 

According to the State of Maine Animal Welfare Laws, only certain authorities such as a law enforcement officer, animal control officer, firefighter or licensed security guard are able to take actions to remove an animal if they appear to be in immediate danger. 

The person responsible for an animal may be found guilty of cruelty to animals if that person is found to have knowingly confined the animal to the car when extreme heat would be harmful to the health of the animal. A civil Cruelty to Animals charge includes a fine of not less than $500 and no more than $2,500 for a first violation, none of which may be suspended; along with possible additional penalties, including permanent relinquishment. 

If you think it could be too hot for your pet, please set a good example and leave them safely at home as the consequences could be catastrophic!

Windham Primary and Raymond Elementary receive cash for achieving reading goals

The Sebago Lake Rotary Club recently rewarded the students at Windham Primary and Raymond Elementary schools with checks in the amount of $500 for achieving their goal of reading for 500 hours. 

A Raymond Elementary student reading by flashlight
The students were challenged by the Rotary Club earlier this year, as part of its Focus on Literacy, to
read 500 hours; and if they achieved the goal, the club would donate $500 to each class to purchase animals for third world countries through Heifer International.

Heifer International is a charity organization working to end hunger and poverty around the world by providing livestock and training to struggling communities. The students chose to purchase a llama, bees, ducks, chickens, geese, rabbits and even a water buffalo. 

The children particularly enjoyed the Flashlight Fridays where they got to read by flashlight in a darkened room.

Good job, Windham Primary and Raymond Elementary school students.