Lebanon & Israel: No Simple Answer to War on the Border

Published August 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

Half a world away, the people of Qana in southern Lebanon are burying their dead: more than 50 civilians, most of them children. Israeli ground troops continue to push north to fight Hezbollah inside the border, and helicopters continue to search and destroy enemy targets.

Half a world away, the people of Haifa, Israel, near the Lebanon border, hide out in shelters listening to Hezbollah rockets explode in the streets.

Here in the Lakes Region, Tala Zilberman, a 22-year-old Israeli camp counselor at Center Day Camp in Windham, watches the news flashes every night, checks online for news reports in Hebrew and talks with family and friends in Israel.

Zilberman can’t help but think of the campers she cares for at Center Day Camp when she hears of the humanitarian crisis going on back home. When asked by the ever-inquisitive children at the camp about the war, she gives one reply, “It’s complicated…”

Mountain Division Railroad: Brief History

Published July 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

There’s a feeling of return to a time come and gone while walking the old Mountain Division Rail.

The wind rustles through the trees as rusted railroad tracks bend through the woods near Gambo Road in Windham.
A gravel trail runs alongside where bicyclers and ambitious walkers in recent times have made the five-mile stretch to Johnson Field in Standish.

As the tracks head north, traffic from nearby roads becomes faint, overtaken by this rustle and the chirp of birds not seen but heard from hidden branches as the woods envelope the trail.

Somewhere, the whistle of a ghost train carries in the breeze…

International Fraud Hits Home

Published June 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

It started with one simple check—the biggest check Rena Wynn, owner of Sebago Dock Company in Windham, writes every year: a $42,201 payment mailed to a plastics corporation in Canada for vinyl decking material. But little did Wynn know by mailing that check her company would be inadvertently drawn into an international scam to steal millions from banks and unassuming victims across the United States.

When the plastics corporation called on April 18 – three weeks after the check was mailed – to tell Wynn it just received the payment, she thought nothing of the check’s late arrival in Canada.

That is until she got the first call from her bank, Maine Bank & Trust, concerning a forged check for $40,201…

Mountain Division Railroad: Possibilities and Practicalities

Published July 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

On any given summer day, Route 302 is clogged with traffic heading north and south through the Lakes Region.
For tourists visiting the region and commuters driving to work, there’s no way to avoid the heavy traffic and no other option but to drive the main road since all forms of alternative transportation were suspended long ago.

Since transportation officials continue to focus on road improvements and highway expansions to solve the problem of traffic congestion throughout southern Maine, reviving the state’s railroad network remains on the back burner.
But with the price of fuel sparking interest in railroad passenger service and freight, old railroads like the Mountain Division Rail are once again being looked at for the future of transportation.

The Maine Department of Transportation is currently pursuing purchase of the abandoned rail line from Route 202 in Windham to the SAPPI Fine Paper mill in Westbrook from Guilford Railroad. This is part of an ongoing effort to preserve vital rail corridors in the state for future passenger and freight use. The state already owns the rail tracks from Windham to the New Hampshire border in Fryeburg…

Reviving the Mountain Division Railroad

Published July 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

Imagine being able to hop on a train in South Windham, ride to Sebago Lake for a day of fishing or continue through to Fryeburg and on to North Conway, the White Mountains, Vermont and points north in Canada.

Or imagine storing your suitcase under your seat and commuting to work in Portland by rail, staring out the cabin window at the pastoral landscape and wilderness as the train rattles on.

This is not a fantasy of the future. This was our past.

Before the interstate highway system became a reality during the latter half of the 20th century, the railroad was the primary means of transportation in Maine with tracks starting from Portland and heading north to Bangor via Lewiston, east along the coast through Brunswick up to Rockland, and northwest to Fryeburg…

The Iraq War – Three Years and Counting

Published May 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

It’s portrayed in scenes of violence, smoke and bloodshed.

On newsstands: Six dead, 20 wounded by a roadside bomb.

On television: Coalition forces continue to fight insurgents. Pundits and politicians fear civil war.

The Iraq War is brought home in breaking news flashes, tearful homecomings and body counts with experts forecasting political ramifications.

And as the war continues past the three-year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad and President Bush’s famous “Mission Accomplished” speech, some are calling for an end to the war and to bring the troops home.

Others say we must “stay the course” and believe a sudden withdrawal of troops would destabilize the region and lead to all-out civil war between Iraqi religious and ethnic sects.

Here in the Lakes Region, the voices for and against the war are diverse—from private citizens wanting an end to the violence and veterans who believe the Iraq War plays a crucial role in the war on terrorism to the personal stories of soldiers who have seen Iraq from the frontlines…

Teen Brothers Accused of Drug Ring

Published May 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

Two male juveniles face a litany of drug charges for allegedly running a marijuana drug ring out their parents’ Windham home. Most of their alleged customers were fellow Windham High School students, police report.

The twin 16-year-old brothers, wearing matching white shirts and tan ties, calmly listened on Thursday morning, May 18, as the judge read the charges against them during their arraignment in Cumberland County District Court.

Behind them, their mother looked on, composed, standing with her hands braced on the court bench in front of her.
Among the charges against both brothers are more than 10 counts of aggravated trafficking of marijuana, assault, possession of firearms and tampering with a witness…

Pat LaMarche: Green Party Candidate for Governor

Published March 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

While only a handful of voters met last Friday for Windham’s first Green Party caucus, it was nevertheless an historic occasion with gubernatorial candidate Pat LaMarche discussing her campaign for Governor and the opportunity Greens have to take a stand in local politics this November.

“We’re the fastest growing party in the country,” LaMarche, of Yarmouth, said of the Green Independent Party, a third party that won ballot status in Maine thanks to her first run for governor back in 1998. “We’re not right, we’re not left. We are out in front.”

LaMarche, a former journalist, educator and talk show host for WGAN, earned her place in U.S. history as vice presidential candidate in 2004 when she ran alongside Green presidential candidate David Cobb.

During their campaign, LaMarche and Cobb slept in homeless shelters across the nation to bring attention to poverty and helped support local Green legislative candidates in various cities and towns.

They would later contest the 2004 ballot count in Ohio where complaints of discarded ballots, broken voting machines and problems with polling locations brought President Bush’s victory in that state under scrutiny…


‘The Governor': A Portrait of Candidate Philip Napier

Published February 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

Philip Morris Napier – ex-convict, Windham recluse and civil rights advocate – may seem an unlikely candidate for Governor.

He’s not bankrolled by any party. No glitzy galas or press conferences announced his decision to run. By looks alone, he is not your typical suit-and-tie politician.

But there he is, day after day, with his long ponytail and wild wiry beard of red and gray trickling down to his overalls and flannel shirt. Seated behind a table splayed with blue petition forms, he’s all smiles and full of “howdys” as he greets visitors to the Windham Town Offices.

He entreats each person to sign, not as an endorsement, but to get him on the ballot in 2006.

“Just because you sign the signature doesn’t mean you support me,” Napier tells his potential supporters. “It just means I get to throw my hat in the ring…”

Tragedy Sheds Light on Methadone Addiction

Published February 2006 in the American Journal

Peggy Taylor, formerly of Windham, is remembered as a beautiful young woman with a heart of gold and unforgettable smile.

She would be 24 years old this week. But instead of putting candles on her birthday cake, her grieving family laid flowers on her grave at Calvary Cemetery in South Portland on Saturday.

It’s been two years since a methadone overdose took her life. And each year her birthday arrives, family and friends gather at CAP Quality Care methadone clinic in Westbrook to protest.

They clamor behind signs and hand out flyers to patrons of the clinic retelling her story – the story of a painful struggle with addiction and a tragic death caused by a dose of prescription methadone given to her by a supposed friend…