Friday, August 23, 2019

Business Spotlight: The Schoolhouse Learning Center, LLC

https://theschoolhouselearningcenter.com/By Lorraine Glowczak

Preparing students for life in a flexible, yet ordered, environment where walls exist but do not confine the learner is one of the many approaches The Schoolhouse Learning Center, LLC takes to contribute to the growth and happiness of a child. Located at 421 Roosevelt Trail in Windham, the newly established preschool that was once the home of Seavey’s Appliance store, is under construction and will be open for business prior to the 2019-2020 school year.

“Our educational philosophy and program are designed to prepare students cognitively, socially and emotionally,” began Owner and Director, Kara Piattoni. “We do this by creating a sense of community where kindness and life skills, such as listening and following directions, are taught through an exploration method. Although we have rooms for each age group, we encourage the children to explore outside of the classroom walls in a variety of ways with the intent to engage with all children and teachers in a structured manner.”

Piattoni went on to explain that preschool education is so much more than learning your ABCs. It’s about adaptation to life’s situations - being emotionally, socially and cognitively ready for the next step in school, community and life. The Schoolhouse Learning Center’s approach to obtain this goal is through structured, hands-on experiences in a variety of specific skill related activities and classroom settings.

“We will have a movement room where students learn to connect concepts to action and learn through trial and error,” Piattoni said. “We also have a tinker room that will serve as a children’s workshop and will include a variety of arts and craft tools for skill building experiences.”

There will also be a learning library space that will include not only books for students, but the space will be used for quiet time and for teachers and students to work alongside each other on a one to one basis. 

“But what I’m most excited about, coming from a family of restaurant owners and chefs, is our kitchen. The kitchen will feature a teachable space, giving students the opportunity to make snacks for their friends here. They will learn simple math, how to measure, and how to work in cooperation with one another. We will also host guests who are experts in the culinary field for demonstrations.”

Perhaps more importantly, the students will learn the importance of food and its role in life. “In Sweden, all children learn how to cook at a young age and studies have indicated that they grow up to have a healthy relationship with food as a result,” explained Piattoni

Kara Piattoni
Piattoni’s experience and passion has gained a following of parents who have already enrolled their students in the school to be opened this fall. Jess and Todd, parents of children who were taught and lead by Piatonni state this on The Schoolhouse Learning Center Facebook page. “We were lucky enough to have had Kara teach our daughter and our son for a few years while they were daycare age through preschool. She is an amazing teacher who truly cares for all the kids and helps educate them by learning in fun, creative ways.  We are excited to know she will continue to help other children with their development and education through the School House Learning Center! You will be lucky to have your child enrolled here.”

Additionally, Piattoni has gained a following from former coworkers in the field as well. “People I’ve worked with in the past have called and are excited to work alongside with me again,” she said. “I have hired many of them because I know their work ethic and I can honestly say I work with people I know, trust and am confident to teach the children in this school, preparing them in a way they will succeed.”

The Schoolhouse Learning Center accepts infants and children, beginning at 6 weeks to 12 years old. Before and after school programs are available with transportation provided by the RSU14 bus system to and from the Windham schools. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information or to enroll your child, contact Kara Piattoni at 207-894-4152,  via the preschool’s Facebook page or the website at www.theschoolhouselearningcenter.com/. Mail completed application packets to: PO Box 788, Westbrook ME 04098.






Friday, August 16, 2019

Business Spotlight: Aging Excellence

http://seniorsonthego.com/By Abbey Davies, Owner

Aging Excellence is Maine's premier in home non-medical agency. The mission of our company is to
help our clients stay independent, active and in their own homes. Aging Excellence began in 1999 long before this was the popular industry to get into and our track record speaks for itself. We pride ourselves on hiring exceptional caregivers that are reliable, intelligent and passionate about their jobs.

Our caregivers range from retired businesspeople, nurses, moms and students. Our oldest employee is in their 80's and our youngest is 18. Aging Excellence remains unique in offering our clients a one hour minimum and our caregivers are well taken care of with highly competitive pay, paid time off, benefits, a SIMPLE plan and the most important benefit; a flexible schedule.

At Aging Excellence our services include Aging Life Care Professionals who assist with medications, doctor appointments, advocacy and evaluation of competency and/or Personal Support Specialists (PSS) who are able to assist our clients with hands on needs such as showering, toileting, dressing, transfers and respite time for loved ones. 

All of our PSS caregivers are certified, and Aging Excellence is registered with the State of Maine as a PSS company so we will only send in a caregiver trained to care for the client’s needs. The Social Companions can assist with transportation, meal preparation, light housekeeping, pet care and socialization. Our handyman is able to assist our clients with any home maintenance needs. All caregivers attend 10 hours of Habilitation Training as presented by the Alzheimer's Association and we have ongoing training to help caregivers meet the changing needs of clients. 

I personally got involved at Aging Excellence around 2001 when I was doing the monthly bookkeeping for Beth Lawrence, the founder of Aging Excellence and at the time, the owner of the Portland office. Beth and I hit it off and although I had no real experience in health care, I bought the Portland franchise of Aging Excellence in 2005. Later that year the Saco office became available and I purchased that office too. Some years later the opportunity to purchase Bangor came up and because of my love for what we do, I jumped on it! This is the most rewarding work you will ever do. Every day you make a significant difference in the life of another person - how can that not be rewarding?
Every day is a learning experience and I am continually amazed by the wonderful caregivers we have and the extent they will go to for the benefit of our clients.

As the older population continues to grow, we have more and more inquires for our services. Many older Mainers want to stay in their own home as long as possible and our company’s mission is to make that happen. It is not always necessary for an older person to go to a facility and with increasing demand there are not enough independent, assisted or skilled beds available in Maine. 

So that is where we step in - maybe your parent or loved one needs a little time in the morning to get dressed, in the afternoon for lunch or the evening for dinner; maybe they just need someone to help with grocery shopping and sweeping the floor; maybe they can't shower on their own....we can do all of that and more. Maybe you're being pulled by the need to help your parents but raise your children (this is now known as the Oreo Generation); maybe you're exhausted by the demands of a loved one with dementia; maybe you want to go away for the weekend but can't.....we can help with all of that and more.

Additionally, if you are looking for a rewarding job that meets your need to serve and help others or perhaps you are looking for a part time flexible job that will allow you the freedom to care for your family but also earn a living? At Aging Excellence we have employees that work 10 hours a week to individuals who work full time and more. As an employee, you can feel good about the paycheck you receive and there is no special training required just a compassionate heart.

I recently attended the funeral of a client we assisted 24/7 for a couple of years and the daughter said that without Aging Excellence she would not have been able to grant her mom’s wish of aging and dying at home. That's the difference we make!

To learn more about Aging Excellence, either as a client or as an employee, contact us at: 866-771-0991 or www.seniorsonthego.com

Friday, August 9, 2019

Business Spotlight: Eagle Sushi and Steakhouse

http://www.eaglesushi.com/By Lorraine Glowczak

It has been the talk of the town, or perhaps more of a question posed to each other in the community:
“Do you know when the new sushi place on Route 302 in Windham will open?”

The answer is that Eagle Sushi and Steakhouse, 818 Roosevelt Trail, opened Thursday July 25, and is serving Japanese sushi and Teppanyaki style meals. The word on the street now? It was very much worth the wait.

“It took us awhile to find the right contractors and get everything together just as we had envisioned,” stated Tinky, who manages the restaurant with her husband and Sushi Chef, Gordon.

Tinky and Gordon are from New York City and they met while working together at a sushi restaurant.

After marriage, they agreed they wanted to continue their career in sushi cuisine with the goal of managing their own restaurant. “My sister, [Fiona], is a Chief Design Officer and entrepreneur in the hospitality industry,” began Gordon. “We put our visions together with Fiona, who is the owner, to offer the best sushi in the Lakes Region area.

Why Windham? “It was the big beautiful lake that brought us here,” Gordon said. “We are learning to enjoy the quiet.” Gordon and Tinky make their home in both Windham and NYC.

The newly updated space that once was the home of D’Angelo’s, holds the sun’s warmth that bounces from the ceilings made of wood. People were enjoying lunch at tables along the windows as well as a couple sitting at one of the Teppanyaki grills in the late afternoon while I sat down to talk to Tinky and Gordon.

Opened for almost two weeks at the time of this interview, Tinky stated that one young customer has already visited six times. “Each time she comes, she brings members of her family and friends. We have also had other repeat customers.”

What keeps people coming back? “We make a lot from scratch. We steam our ramen noodles in real pork bone broth and there are no artificial flavorings. We make our own homemade house dressing that we put on the house salad.” This is only the beginning.

What makes them stand out among the many sushi restaurants in the area who also serve hibachi-style food is the more realistic Teppanyaki experience of Japan. According to an upscale sushi restaurant in Manhassett, New York, “In the U.S., the phrase “hibachi-style” is occasionally used to refer to what is really teppanyaki cooking. Hibachi grills are small, portable barbecue grills that are made from cast iron. Modern hibachis in U.S. restaurants are electric so that they can be used to cook food indoors. By contrast, teppanyaki grilling involves using an iron griddle with a flat, solid surface to prepare the food and the heat source is propane.”

Gordon pointed out that the exhaust goes down below and behind the griddle as opposed toward the ceiling. “This prevents you and your clothes from smelling like grilled food when you leave the restaurant,” Tinky added.

Teppanyaki is also more personal, allowing only two to four people around the grill for a more private experience. There are, however, teppanyaki grills to accommodate six to eight people at a time.

I rarely mix business with pleasure. However, when my admittedly snobbish, sushi loving husband took the day off from work to finish a project on our home, discovered that I had an interview with Eagle Sushi and Steakhouse, he begged to join me.

As I was waiting for him to meet me, the couple sitting at the two person Teppanyaki grill when I first walked in was finished with their meal. After introducing myself, I asked them about their experience.

“We love hibachi food and we eat it wherever and whenever we can,” began Julia Burns of Windham who was with her boyfriend, Stearns Wallingford of Raymond. “And to be quite honest, this is by far this best hibachi food we’ve ever had.”

Our experience? We ordered and shared the house salad with the homemade salad dressing, gyoza (pan fried dumplings – we chose pork over shrimp), tuna tartare, a Tiger Roll and Dragon Roll. I had the small Miso Soup while my husband ordered the House Miso Soup (with the biggest chunks of seafood imaginable.)

My husband and I agreed with Julia Burns and Stearns Wallingford. “This is by far the best sushi experience we’ve ever had. It rivals sushi bars in Portland.” It truly was worth the wait!

For more information or to order online for take-out, go to www.eaglesushi.com or visit them on Facebook page.







































Friday, August 2, 2019

Business Spotlight: The Playhouse Child Care Center

https://www.theplayhousekids.com/By Lorraine Glowczak

Preschools and early childhood education centers provide an environment for children to explore; gaining social, intellectual and self-confidence skills. Realizing the important contributing factors to their child’s success, parents strive to find the best child care, but it is not always an easy feat. Often there are many hurdles to overcome: long waitlists and center hours that often conflict with work schedules. The Playhouse Child Care Center, located at 322 West Gray Road in Gray (with a Westbrook Location coming soon) is about to change all of that.

“As a grandparent, I began to see how difficult it was for my grandchildren to get into the highest quality preschools,” stated John F. Chase, owner of The Playhouse. “I wanted to do something to offer my own grandchildren as well as to all other young folks in the Lakes Region community, a high-quality child care center without the long wait.”

Also the owner of Chase Custom Homes and Finance in Westbrook, Chase reached out to a 15 year veteran in the early childhood business, Ashley Moulton, whose lifelong dream matched the mission of Chase.

Moulton, who will act as District Manager of the Gray (and eventually the Westbrook) location, stated that child care has been a passion of hers since she was a young girl. “Helping children begin the foundation to a successful life is something I’ve always dreamed of - and as an adult working with young children, working in this field has been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.”

According to the parent handbook, The Playhouse’s mission is to provide a safe, healthy and nurturing environment for every child. Their philosophy is simple: allow children to learn through play. “At the Playhouse, children follow a formal curriculum, enhanced by meaningful play, which promotes the development of independence, creative thinking, healthy bodies, self-discipline, problem solving, and self-confidence. We realize that children are constantly learning through structure as well as play.”

The play-based, hands-on programs will engage children in several ways that includes music and movement classes, yoga, sign language, arts and craft projects and more. All programs will motivate children to become involved in a variety of captivating and fun play-based activities, all the while learning very important skills that will prepare for their future and educational career.

“Every child learns and grows differently,” Moulton stated. “We support and guide each child as an individual with a variety of programs from which they can choose and focus on what engages them the most. We also offer an outdoor classroom where children of all ages will be able to explore and learn together. While keeping with the play-based theme, we also want to prepare them for Kindergarten.”

As a result, The Playhouse will adhere to and follow the State of Maine Early Childhood Educational Curriculum Standards. “We want each child to be prepared for a smooth transition into the school system,” Moulton said. “We will follow the standards and curriculum guidelines by the state and will do so in a hands-on and fun way.”

Parents have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to child care and who to entrust with their little ones. “We understand this is a very personal decision, so we are hiring staff with only strong backgrounds and many years of experience in child care,” Moulton said. “Our lead teachers have degrees in early childhood education and assistant teachers will work towards earning a degree while taking continuing education classes. We will support our staff in paying for ongoing training and education.”

Safety is another factor on parents’ minds. They want to know their child will be loved, nurtured and most of all, safe during the day. “Security has been of the utmost importance in the building renovations and design,” Moulton said. “Every family will have a key code and all classrooms will have cameras for security and safety purposes.”

The Playhouse Child Care Center, “Where Learning and Play Come Together,” will be opening soon and is now enrolling children from six weeks to five years old. Slots are filling fast! To learn more and find out about upcoming open house dates, visit their website at www.theplayhousekids.com and the Facebook page.

To request an enrollment packet for your child, contact District Manager, Ashley Moulton by email info@theplayhousekids.com. The Playhouse Child Care is still accepting applications for early childhood educators and infant teachers.  <

Friday, July 26, 2019

Business Spotlight: Paul’s Boutique Nursery

https://paulsboutiquenursery.com/From a twenty-year fascination and interest in the cannabis plant and its properties, Paul’s Boutique s Boutique family, the company is one of Maine’s leading medical marijuana caregivers. What started out in a renovated automobile repair shop is now a 4000 square-foot, state of the art grow facility.
Nursery was created by a husband and wife team in 2015. Today, with the commitment of the entire Paul’

While keeping up with its descriptive name, Paul’s Boutique purposefully chooses to keep an
artisanal approach to all its products and services. The company has now expanded to also include a tier 1 non solvent cannabis extraction lab with a food processing license and a retail store front. As plans become a reality the Paul’s Boutique team has seen where hard work and following your dreams can lead.

In the rapidly growing and ever-changing cannabis industry, not only here in Maine but nationwide, the Paul’s Boutique team has proven the future is bright. They are a company that focuses on providing a high level of products and services. By creating a vertically integrated business, with rigid quality standards from seed to sale, Paul’s Boutique has made a major commitment to being on the forefront of the Maine market.

The latest expansion of the business is the opening of a beautiful new store front in Windham. This allows Paul’s Boutique to better serve the medical community of Maine as well as many card-holding out of state visitors who travel Route 302 while vacationing here.

The Paul’s Boutique vision and dream has become a reality with the opening of their new retail storefront. Located in North Windham on Route 302 at Crimson Drive in a highly visible location with ample parking, they are easily accessible. A private consultation room is available for those who wish to discuss any questions or concerns about cannabis and its uses, especially for those new to the powers of the plant and its many cannabinoids. A warm and inviting check-in area, as well as multiple budtending stations help create a smooth and pleasant shopping experience, allowing patients a comfortable visit.
The store stocks locally crafted items. Paul’s Boutique has carefully chosen CBD vendors who are local cultivators, extractors, and producers. The store also carries a full array of flowers, concentrates, vape pens and edibles.

Paul’s Boutique apparel will be available as will accessories such as functional glass art and rolling papers. The walls are adorned with in house ‘pot’ography. It is attractively displayed and available for sale to those interested in artwork for their personal use.

Paul’s Boutique has also become deeply involved in the local community, as members of the Chamber of Commerce, and as supporters of community outreach programs such as Riding to the Top, Camp Sunshine, Outdoors Again, Windham Food Pantry, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Maine Game Warden Association. Additionally, the owner was recently appointed to Windham’s Marijuana Task Force for Cannabis Regulation. Paul’s Boutique is proud to have hired local Maine residents for their team, as well as relocating employees from other parts of the US, who with their families are settling into the southern Maine lifestyle and helping grow the local economy.

Paul’s Boutique can be found online at sites such as Google listing and Weedmaps where they have high reviews and ratings. The obvious focus of the Paul’s Boutique Family to a quality small batch product is also being recognized by the cannabis community in the form of several awards. They entered their first cannabis competition in 2017 and medaled in The Secret Cup, as well as winning a couple High Times Cannabis Cups. Their strains are clone only and will not be found elsewhere, in spite of the fact that others may sometimes share a common name.

You are invited to stop in and check out Paul’s Boutique storefront which is located at 8 Crimson Drive in Windham. They are open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Also visit www.paulsboutiquenursery.com

Friday, July 19, 2019

Business Spotlight: Tinker Automotive Services

By Lorraine Glowczak

It’s amazing to walk into an automotive shop and find the owner, who is on ‘vacation’, working on his 1955 Buick Century. That’s exactly what happened on Monday when I walked into Tinker Automotive to interview owner, Levi Tinker. His passion for automotive repair doesn’t end when he is off the clock.

Technician Jay Howe, Owner Levi Tinker and wife, April
Located at 131 Roosevelt Trail, Levi along with his assistant, Jay Howe (who was also there on vacation), make it their goal to provide for each customer the highest quality in vehicle repairs. But just as importantly, honesty and affordability are first on their list when servicing every car, truck or SUV that drives through the shop’s garage doors.

Whether your vehicle needs a basic oil change, diagnostic service or an engine swap, they have the expertise and talent that comes with years of experience.

Levi’s experience began at an early age beginning as an interest in repairing and building broken down objects since childhood. “I’ve always liked to ‘tinker’ with repairs,” joked Levi. “Even as a kid, I would go to the town dump to see if I could find a bike to fix up. For me, it was so much fun to take a broken bike and get it up and running again. There was a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in that. And there still is.”

With the exception of working at a local video store during high school, Levi has worked in the automotive repair field all of his adult life. “As soon as I graduated from high school, I worked for a couple of well-known local garages in the Portland area as well as a local dealership. Most recently, I worked for a service and repair shop in Gray,” he stated. “I worked nine years as a technician and then was promoted to lead technician and manager for the last two years.”

In the fall of 2016, Levi struck out on his own and purchased the property that is now Tinker Automotive with his wife, April Tinker. Until just recently, she was the bookkeeper while simultaneously working a full-time job. “We’ve grown so much that it has become difficult to keep up with the bookkeeping and work full-time, too,” April said. “So, we have hired a professional to keep the important paperwork for us.”

The business growth of Tinker Automotive has increased so much over the past 2 ½ years that Technician, Jay Howe who is presently a part-time employee, will become full-time after the end of summer. Howe also has many years of experience in not only automotive repair but in customer service as a result of working for other repair shops and owning his own landscaping and snowplowing company.

Levi stated that he believes their honesty, along taking time to explain the repairs needed to customers, is what sets Tinker Automotive apart from the rest. “I will take time to show people what the problem is and do my best to explain in a way they can understand,” began Levi. “Unfortunately, In the automotive repair field, women are often taken advantage of and we are adamant about not doing that. We never up sale anything – we are straightforward and honest.”

He also added that his low hourly rate makes him stand out. “We charge $65 per hour as opposed to the average of $100 per hour,” Levi said. “I have very low overhead, so I pass that on to my customers.”

And speaking of customers, if one peruses Tinker Automotive’s Facebook page, you’ll find many positive reviews.

Highly recommended,” Susie Ciccarelli said. “I heard of Tinker Automotive after receiving many recommendations from friends in the area. Levi was able to take in my car on pretty short notice which I was super grateful for! [The] customer service is top notch and the work was honest and reasonably priced. I do not foresee my husband and I going anywhere else in the future!”

Regarding the cost of repair, Jaimie Pearson had this to say: “Just had my car inspected and work done on it for the sticker and now she drives like a dream! Other places wanted WAY over $1000 but not today! If you're in or around Windham, I highly recommend Tinker Automotive! Fast, friendly and affordable work!”

At Tinker Automotive, they know how important it is to maintain a safe, reliable vehicle, and to provide customers with honest service. FMI or to make an appointment, call 207-318-0342 or check out their Facebook page.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Business Spotlight: Northeast Laboratory Services

https://www.nelabservices.com/default.aspxBy Craig Bailey

Did you know radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America? Erin Bouttenot, Head of Indoor Air Quality at Northeast Laboratory Services (NEL) explained, radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is released from the ground into cracks and drains in our homes. In fact, 1 in 3 homes in Maine have a higher level of radon than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended limit. You cannot see, taste, or smell radon, but it can easily be tested for in your air or water.

In addition, Bouttenot reinforced there is often confusion around commonly used terms like “black mold” and “toxic mold”, neither of which refer to a particular species of mold. Mold can come in many colors and grow in different ways, just like plants. Some fungi grows dark or black in color and may or may not produce toxins. The effects from mold exposure can vary greatly from person to person. Some individuals have an immediate or delayed response from being in a moldy environment, while others have no symptoms at all. The extent of mold sensitivities can also vary, whereas one person may be sensitive to most, or even all molds, another may only be sensitive to a particular type. The range of responses can present as irritation, allergies, asthma or infections.

Another important reality, shared by Zachary Smith, NEL’s Chemistry/Microbiology Laboratory Technical Director, is that water quality can change quickly and without warning. In most cases naturally occurring compounds known to have adverse health risks are tasteless, colorless and odorless. Just because the water looks and tastes fine does not mean it is safe to drink. To identify health risks, a full water test should be performed at least every three to five years on existing wells and a basic safety test should be performed during interim years. Only a laboratory test-preferably by a State of Maine Certified Laboratory-can tell you if the water is truly potable.

As a small locally-owned laboratory, NEL’s mission is to deliver accurate analytical data and superior culture media products to promote healthy home and business environments.

When asked, what sets NEL apart in the industry, Bouttenot shared that they are an accredited, full-service laboratory that is proudly veteran-owned and operated in the State of Maine. Their locations in Westbrook and Winslow provide diverse environmental and microbiological testing as well as mass-production of laboratory media products. Their clients range from private homeowners to large, nationally recognized companies.

As an example of the high-quality service NEL provides, Bouttenot mentioned that every day we receive calls or emails from homeowners worried about various environmental health risks. “We educate the public on guidelines and regulations from governing bodies within and outside the state of Maine. NEL provides a full scope of analyses for personalized testing in specific areas of concern. Our easy-to-use sample collection kits identify otherwise undetectable health hazards. Available sample collection kits include: environmental chemistry, water microbiology, radon in water, radon in air, and surface mold analyses.”

Northeast Laboratory’s analytical reports are tailored towards helping homeowners understand their data versus just having the numbers. For example, the analytical report for their Basic Safety water test provides a side-by-side comparison of results to the EPA limits with a green, yellow or red notation. “This aids our customers in determining steps to move forward. We also provide multiple supplemental materials on sampling and remediation,” stated Bouttenot.

NEL’s friendly, knowledgeable technicians and support team are available to help with any questions, support and laboratory needs. The company tests seven days a week and provide rapid turnaround with immediate reports via fax or email, as well as U.S. postal mail.

Bouttenot emphasized, “It is our ambition to exceed our customer’s expectations while maintaining a safe, welcoming, and professional work environment. Whether you are at the beginning, middle, or end of your testing process, Northeast Laboratory can provide you with the answers you need,” stated Bouttenot.”

Do not hesitate to contact Northeast Laboratory with any questions related to ensuring a healthy home or business environment. NEL knows that every situation is different and values the time spent with customers to ensure each has the tools and information needed to determine steps forward. Even if Northeast Laboratory doesn’t provide a specific service themselves, they are happy to connect you with someone who does.

To learn more visit www.nelabservices.com or call (866) 591-7120. <