Monday, March 31, 2014

Spotlight on Frost and Flame - By Michelle Libby

Nothing says home like a warm crackling fire and cuddling with loved ones. Frost and Flame in Windham and Gorham can bring that dream to life from the fireplace to the masonry.
“We can build you a room for your stove if that’s what you want it to be,” said owner Steve Richard who purchased Frost and Flame in 1992.  

Frost and Flame opened its doors in 1978 during the energy crisis. They sold Jotul wood stoves and bikes as a counter-seasonal product. Woodstoves turned to gas stoves in the early 1990s. “People liked gas for the convenience,” said Richard. “It also ran with no power.” 

The fireplace designs run from simple to elaborate and come in different faces, interiors and sizes. Three-fourths of new homes in the US put in a gas fireplace, according to Richard. 

In 1989, Frost and Flame saw the infancy of the pellet stove that used small pellets made from sawdust. They were cleaner to burn than wood and there was no need for a chimney, it could be vented through the wall. On average one filling of a pellet stove would burn for 15 to 20 hours. 
Frost and Flame is unique because of how the company is run. It’s not run like a store, but more like a construction company. From electrical and masonry to carpentry, they can do a job safely from start to finish. With 14 full-time employees and Richard visiting 98 percent of the homes to do site inspections, the company is ready to handle any project. 

The company does work from Portsmouth to Boothbay Harbor, Augusta to Mount Washington Valley. 

“We are the largest stove shop in Maine as far as volume,” said Richard. “We carry every major brand available in North America. To have all of this in one store is pretty rare.” Frost and Flame installs between 1,200 and 1,500 stoves each year. 

When a customer walks into one of the showrooms, Richard’s goal is to educate them, deliver the correct product for the customer with 100 percent safety and fulfill the needs of what they’re expecting. 

In addition to selling the stoves, Frost and Flame does a lot of service after the sale. They are also fully licensed and insured. The employees have worked with Richard for 12 to 15 years each. There is very little to no turnover. Richard trains all of his personnel together so everyone knows everyone else’s job. 

The different stoves provide different opportunities for heating. A gas stove has no heat spike like a wood stove, said Richard. With a pellet stove, the heat can be controlled better. Frost and Flame also offers fireplace inserts to re-invent an old fireplace. 

Stoves range in price from $2,200 to $5,800. Frost and Flame offers financing through Casco Federal Credit Union. 

“We try to make the experience as smooth and effortless as possible,” Richard said.   

The stores are open six days a week and online at and

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spotlight on Juliet's Clothing & Accessories - By Michelle Libby

“Come find your style”

For two years, Heidi Hilton and her husband Mike Whittaker have looked for the right commercial property on Route 302 in Windham to expand their resale store. They found it in the building housing Joyful Noise Christian Daycare and Learning Center. This is the couple’s second store. The first is in Auburn. 

“Windham has more population and there are not a lot of clothing stores for women. It’s a good place for a clothing store,” said Hilton. 

“People told us ‘you need to get into Windham,” said Whittaker, who acts as head maintenance man for the store. 
“We wanted to redefine the word consignment,” said Hilton. 

The store is organized by size and section making it really easy for someone who needs to pop in to purchase a black T-shirt. Customers are quick to learn that stock turnover at Juliet’s is fast. What is there one day will be gone the next. 

“There’s a lot of buzz. A lot of talk about the store,” said Wittaker. 

“I think we’re very reasonably priced,” said Hilton. The store is full of brand names like Coach, Abercrombie, LL Bean, J.Jill and American Eagle. “The inventory is constantly changing. I put hundreds of items out new each week,” Hilton said. 
Juliet’s is more than just clothing for women. There are men’s, teen’s and women’s clothing from sizes zero to 2XXL. They also have previously-owned accessories from jewelry and handbags to belts and shoes. The store also has a $1 rack. 

Hilton just hired a new manager, Michelle Bradbury and is looking for a part-time employee for the summer.
“We’ve been open four week and have been really busy. We’ve exceeded our personal goals even with the snowstorms and the cold,” Hilton said. 

The store is clean and uncluttered and Hilton has set the store up how she likes to shop, she said. 

“I purchase from different people and different sources,” Hilton said. The Auburn store is all consignment, close to 3,000 items, but in Windham she prefers to buy items outright. “We carry a lot of unique jewelry. I get my stock at a reasonable price to see at a reasonable price,” she said. “I’m really picky on what I buy. I screen everything.”
She asks that people who are interested in selling to her make an appointment with items that are gently used and not over two years old. Everything should be washed. She watches out for smoke smells, animal hair and missing buttons, she said. 

The upscale atmosphere makes you forget that you are shopping pre-owned. 

Customer service is great there and Juliet’s will ship out of state, she said. Juliet’s accepts Visa, Mastercard and checks.
“We want people to come and have fun,” said Hilton. The hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. “We are very excited to be in Windham.” 

Juliet’s can be found on Facebook, where they put most of their new items with lots of pictures, and at  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

In The Stacks - By Jen Alvino Leo

Next month, April 13th to 19th, the Windham Public Library joins libraries in schools, campuses and communities nationwide in celebrating National Library Week. This is a time to highlight the value of libraries, librarians and library workers. 
Libraries today are more than repositories for books and other resources. Often they are the hearts of their communities, campuses or schools. Libraries are deeply committed to the places where their patrons live, work and study. Libraries are trusted places where everyone in the community can gather to reconnect and reengage with each other to enrich and shape the community and address local issues. 

Librarians work with elected officials, small business owners, students and the public at large to discover what their communities needs are and meet them. Whether through offering e-books and technology classes, materials for English-language learners, programs for job seekers or those to support early literacy, librarians listen to the community they serve, and they respond.

The Windham Public Library serves the Town of Windham by providing a wide-ranging collection of books, movies, magazines and other resources for information and entertainment needs as well as story times, book groups, computer access and knowledgeable staff to help you access the information you need.

Service to the community has always been the focus of the library. While this aspect has never changed, libraries have grown and evolved in how they provide for the needs of every member of their community.

On Monday, April 14th the Windham Public Library is celebrating National Library Week by hosting a Declaration for the Right to Libraries signing. Join us at 4 p.m. for a presentation by State librarian Linda Lord, author Julia Spencer-Fleming, illustrator Kevin Hawkes, local town officials and library staff members. The new library logo will be unveiled as well and refreshments will be served.

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. 

For more information, visit us, call 207-892-1908 or visit the library’s Web site at Library hours are Monday and Wednesday 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m, Tuesday and Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m, and Friday and Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

We hope you join us and place your signature on the declaration in support of Windham Public Library.

Business spotlight - Avita of Stroudwater - By Michelle Libby

When one first steps inside Avita a sense of calm washes over him while he takes in the flowers, the calming colors and the water wall that cascades over the name Avita. A comfortable sitting area with a fire crackling is off to the right and everyone in the building offers a friendly smile as they pass. For more than fifty people this is home. 
Avita is a stand-alone memory care facility, the only one in Southern Maine that caters to people with memory impairments from dementia to Alzheimer’s. They opened the doors on October 22, 2013. Avita’s parent company is Northbridge Companies out of Massachusetts. 

The success of Avita comes from “giving good quality care to residents, treating staff with respect and listening to families,” said executive director Courtney Freeman. “I’m excited they’re here. Dementia is rising and in the past three years, three assisted living facilities have shut down in southern Maine. They deserve a place to go to live a fulfilled life.” 

The 70 bed property has three smaller, secure neighborhoods, named spring, summer and autumn, which provide less stimulation for the residents. There are private bedrooms with attached bathrooms and some adjoining bedrooms that couples use as a suite. Details are important at Avita, including each neighborhood having a different color palate from the rugs to the upholstery on the chairs and the local art work depicts the season the neighborhood represents. 

The programs and living spaces are built on a social model, Freeman said. One of the goals is to enhance the resident’s independence as much as possible, she said. Each staff person from management to nursing to dietary specialists are trained in memory care and have monthly in-service training.  
On staff there are certified therapeutic recreational specialists. “For every activity there is a purpose,” said Freeman. From drama club where the residents are writing a script to a coral group, canvas art classes and more, the residents are engaged and are encouraged to keep a routine that is familiar to them. Residents are encouraged to do cooking classes and walk with the Across-the-Miles group around the grounds at 320 Spring Street. 

There are van outings and trips to the gym one day a week. “We have a big thumbprint in the community,” Freeman said. Residents take trips to the flower show, planetarium and healing horses.

Angela Mastrella is the social program director. “There is no limit to what she will do for these residents on a daily basis,” Freeman said. One day a resident told Mastrella that she wanted Dairy Queen, so Mastrella got a group of residents together and headed off for ice cream. 

Two days a week the van takes residents to doctor’s appointments and on Saturdays and Sundays the van takes them to church. 

“We’re in their home and we need to respect that,” said Freeman. Staff is encouraged to interact with the residents and get to know what they like to do and encourage them. 

“This generation, what they’ve done with their lives and the stories they tell…it’s amazing,” she said.
Freeman told the story of a gentleman who was experiencing “sundowning” (a symptom of dementia) where the man started to get agitated in the evening. The nursing aid sat and engaged the man in a game of checkers. More people gathered around them to cheer the man on. He forgot what he was agitated about and no medication was involved to calm him down. 

The director of resident dining Jamie Bell goes beyond the expectations of every family, Freeman said. He believes in the philosophy of eat fresh and eat local. Residents are served breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have choices at every meal. 

Avita has a house doctor who gives regular presentations for families. There are also support groups since memory care has an impact on the whole family. 

For more on Avita of Stroudwater visit or call 857-9007.