Reflections of a Year in Raymond

Many changes are in our town’s future as we embark upon the new year. Before moving forward, I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the notable events that took place in 2008. The past year proved to be trying as we were forced to make town-wide decisions and budget cuts. We are fortunate to have passionate, energetic and intelligent people working in our schools, government, organizations, and many committees. These people dedicated countless hours developing, preserving, improving and protecting the town in which we live.

January

With the high price of heating oil, the town office received several calls for heating assistance which depleted the $2,000 that was allotted for general assistance. The Board of Selectmen created the Community Assistance Fund, a special ongoing charitable account in which residents could make tax-deductible donations to support and assist Raymond citizens in need of money for fuel. This fund received a remarkable display of community support and several thousand dollars were donated.

February

A special town meeting was held to vote upon two ordinances. We adopted a new chimney ordinance requiring chimneys be made with fire-resistant masonry material and requiring property owners to have a certified chimney inspection after a chimney fire. We also voted to appropriate a sum not to exceed $145,000 for the purpose of improvements to the air quality system at the Jordan Small Middle School.

After months of winter weather extremes, record snowfall, cold spells and a mid-season thaw, the Maine Winterfest was held. In its eighth year, this popular festival included plenty of ice fishing as well as a kids’ ice fishing derby, live music, ice sculpting, car and motorcycle racing, skating, dog sled rides, polar dip, cross country ski race, ice shack judging contest and lots of delicious food. This fest continues to grow each year, attracting thousands of people to the area.

March

The Raymond Village Library held its highly anticipated annual Dr. Seuss night, a popular event with both children and adults, celebrating the great works of the incredible author. Also, the library was selected as one of 14 Maine libraries to join Cornerstones of Science, an award-winning science literacy initiative.

Due to the declining enrollment and the increase of Raymond’s valuation, the school district learned they would be receiving a much smaller subsidy from the state. This resulted in making severe cuts to the school budget. An outpouring of people began attending school board meetings and public hearings to voice their opinions and learn how these cuts would affect our children

April

The Jordan Small Middle School Drama Club presented an amazing rendition of Seussical Jr., a story of imagination, hope, devotion and friendships. Two sold out shows were held entertaining the young and old.

It was decided to make DVDs of school board, select board and other town committee meetings. Although most meetings are televised live on cable TV, DVDs can now be borrowed from the town office and the library for your viewing.

May

May is most notable for our annual Town Meeting. This year, the meeting was held on a Wednesday evening instead of its traditional Saturday and attracted many concerned residents. The school budget was not accepted resulting in more cuts and scheduling another town meeting

June

The second town meeting was held and the revised school budget was finally accepted. The Raymond Lions and the Raymond PTO presented scholarships totaling over $4,000 to deserving students based on academics and community service. Due to significantly increased printing and distribution costs, the Road Runner newspaper was discontinued. The Road Runner existed for ten years and is sadly missed.

July

The summer reading program was held at the library with more than 50 young readers enjoying weeks of reading, crafts and other activities. The Raymond-Casco Historical Society held its Grand Opening of the new museum located at Watkins Farm on Route 302.

August

The Raymond Waterways Protective Association had another busy summer as they continued to work diligently to control milfoil in our lakes, rivers and ponds. They completed many milfoil remedial projects including removal efforts at Dingley Brook, Bay View Estates and Panther Run areas.

September

Another fabulous summer ended and the new school year began where discussions and debates were held daily regarding school consolidation and school choice. Work began at Morgan Meadow to create a road large enough for logging trucks so the Harvest Habitat Enhancement Cut could begin. Life continued to change before our eyes.

October

The chill was offset by the warmth of community spirit displayed during Halloween in the village. The residents of these homes open their hearts and candy bowls to hundreds of costume clad children and provide not only treats, but smiles and memories for all of us.

November

As the trees stood bare in anxious arrival of winter’s snow, November began with a record turnout at the polls where we elected our new president and also overwhelmingly chose to consolidate with Windham High School and retain school choice. Later in the month, schools, scouts and churches joined together to collect an abundance of food that was packaged and distributed to those in need. The Raymond Village Libaray, in conjunction with the Raymond Lions Club, hosted the town’s annual tree lighting complete with singing carols, enjoying hot chocolate, cookies, and a visit from Santa.

December

As we all became busy preparing for the holidays while dealing with the ice storm and back-to-back snowstorms, the Raymond Rattlers’ Holiday Helpers were busier than most. This group of wonderful individuals collected and distributed food, winter clothing and gifts to families in need making the holidays brighter.

This is just a small glimpse of a much larger town in action. The new year will require more work and cooperative spirit as we move toward the ever changing times. I look forward to sharing the happenings of Raymond with you each week in this column.


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