Monday, April 28, 2014

Business spotlight - Windham Powersports - By Michelle Libby

A hobby turned into a business for Chris McDonald, the owner of Windham Powersports, which focuses on anything with wheels that doesn’t have to be registered. From ATVs to snowmobiles and lawn mowers to small engines, McDonald and his partner Johnny Best, want to earn the business of the residents in Windham and Raymond. 
“We find broken stuff, fix and sell them,” McDonald said. They also do repair work for customers. “We have the best rates around at $40 per hour for labor,” he said. Since they are still in their first year, they plan to maintain that rate.  

Windham Powersports fixes anything off road, McDonald said mentioning go carts, side by sides, mini bikes and snowmobiles. They do not work on water sports engines. “We are set up for tires and land machines,” he said. 

McDonald started the business six years ago when his son was born. He and his wife decided that one of them would need to be with their son at all times. McDonald needed a hobby because his son slept so much, so he found an old ATV and fixed it up and sold it. 

McDonald spent eight years as a cable guy. He left in November 2013 to pursue his hobby full-time. Chris mainly works the business end of Windham Powersports, locating machines to fix up, making deals, billing, scheduling and all of the other administrative tasks. Occasionally, he will work on a project in the shop, which he still enjoys. 

Windham Powersports moved to their present location at 1037B Roosevelt Trail on February 18.
“There’s a dire need in this area and has been for a long, long time,” he said. “You don’t have to drive 45 minutes away to find good service.” 

J.J. is one of the mechanics that works in the shop. “He’s a small engine guru,” said McDonald. “We are 4-wheeler and dirt bike specialists.”

The shop fixes weedwackers and chainsaws and does seasonal set ups. Windham Powersports offers pickup and delivery within a 30 mile radius. 

Next winter, McDonald hopes to have an “on spot, on trail, emergency response system.” If a snowmobile has an issue, they will have a tow response vehicle that will find the machine, fix it or tow it back to the shop to fix it there, he said.

On Mondays, McDonald and Best travel around the area looking for equipment that is on the side of the road for sale, listed on Craig’s List, or just rusting on the side lawn of someone’s house. “We’re like the American Pickers’ guy. It’s never the same. It’s a blast.” 

Items they have for sale have a very quick turn over, McDonald said. The prices they put on their machines are the best prices they can offer. Of course, bundling by purchasing more than one or two items is a way to get an even better price, McDonald said.  He also said that they keep a list of things people are looking for with a price limit. Just this week, they found an ATV for a man that was exactly what he wanted and at the price he was looking to pay.  

“We like to have fun. We’re good ol’ boys,” McDonald said. Windham Powersports is open year round, six days a week. Find them on Facebook, at and at 653-9665.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Teen driving and texts - from Tricia Zwirner and State Farm

Danish Hasan knows a thing or two about the dangers of texting while driving.

Not long after receiving his license, Hasan nearly veered off the road and onto a sidewalk while sending a short text message, recovering control of the vehicle just in time to avoid hitting several pedestrians. Hasan said this close call taught him a lesson about how quickly one can become distracted, and now he's an advocate for putting the phone away while driving.

As for why teens in particular seem so willing to take this risk while behind the wheel? Hasan, a 17-year-old from Algonquin, Illinois, believes it has to do with new social realities.

"Kids my age want to stay in touch," said Hasan. "We like instant communication, and many kids worry what their friends will think if they don't answer a text message immediately." 

Kids worry what their friends will think if they don't answer a text message immediately.

There's no denying it: Texting is a part of the mainstream culture, and for many young people, texting is an essential means of communication. While we now know texting does demonstrably affect reaction times – The National Safety Council estimates that 200,000 crashes each year are caused by drivers who are texting – stories like Hasan's tell us that not all drivers have gotten the message: Texting while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk, if not more dangerous. Both forms of impairment cause casualties on the road. 

Approximately 200,000 crashes each year are caused by drivers who are texting.

In a September 2012 a State Farm poll conducted by Harris Interactive found fewer teens view texting while driving as leading to fatal consequences as compared to drinking while driving. Of 14- to 17-year-olds who intend to have or already have a driver's license, the survey found that 36 percent strongly agree that if they regularly text and drive they could be killed one day. In contrast, the majority of teens (55 percent) strongly agree that drinking while driving could be fatal.

"Some teens still think the consequences of reaching for a cell phone are less severe than reaching for a beer bottle," said Laurette Stiles, Vice President of Strategic Resources at State Farm. "We have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to helping teens understand that texting while driving can be every bit as dangerous as drinking while driving. It's an awareness gap that must be addressed."

One way the issue can be addressed is through frank communication between parents and teen drivers. Of teens who talk often with their parents about driving, 82 percent strongly agree that if they regularly drink and drive they will get into an accident. That number falls to 72 percent among teens who rarely or never talk to their parents about driving.

A similar pattern was evident around texting while driving, but in these cases teens view the consequences of texting as less severe. In the survey, 67 percent of teens who often talk to their parents about driving strongly agree that if they regularly text and drive, someday they will get into an accident. This compared with 56 percent of teens who rarely or never talk to their parents about driving.

Car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the United States, and the majority of teens rely on their parents to learn how to drive. Sending the right message – and having the data to back it up – might make all the difference.

For more information about teen driver safety and tools for new drivers, visit See more at:

Spotlight on Windham Jewelers - By Michelle Libby

Sparkling diamonds, brilliant emeralds and unique pieces of jewelry are all on display and for sale at Windham Jewelers located in the mall at 765 Roosevelt Trail suite 16. For 41 years the Byrnes family, and now daughter Kathleen and her husband Abe Wilmot, have been in the jewelry business. Thirty of those years have been in Windham. 
“We’re a small, little, comfortable jewelry store with a big heart,” said Kathleen, who took over the store in February. “Generations of families have walked in here.” 

“We have everything, a large selection of fine quality jewelry stemming from fine quality designers to a large assortment of gemstones. Our inventory of diamonds is incredible and goes up to five carats,” said Kathleen. The store also carries a unique blend of estate and antique jewelry as well as pearls. 

Just selling eclectic pieces isn’t the way of Windham Jewelers. They have the hottest designers and jewelry lines including the trends that everyone is after. Their selection of Alex & Ani, a compassionate company from Rhode Island that uses recycled material for their bracelets and charms, rivals other distributers. Windham Jewelers also carries a wide selection of Pandora bracelets and charms that keep up with the trends. 

“If we don’t have it, you don’t need it,” said employee Melissa Roszka. 

A few of the pieces in the store date back over 100 years. 

Kathleen attends jewelry shows and is constantly educating herself on the newest designers and what would do well in this market, she said. They also carry a selection of local Maine jewelry artist pieces. Other designers who have collections at the store are Peter James by the Bay, Cape Cod Bracelets, Larimar, Ed Levin and pre-owned David Yurman. They also carry the Citizen watch line. 

If none of the jewels in the store catches the buyer’s eye, Windham Jewelers has an onsite jeweler, Kathy Cole, who can reset, design or retrofit jewelry already in someone’s collection. Cole also does engraving. Her quality work makes Windham Jewelers a “full circle kind of jewelers,” according to Kathleen.

“Your independent jeweler is homey,” said Cole. “It’s just wonderful. I can take time to do the job that needs to be done. I’m a meticulous person,” she said. Cole has been a jeweler for 34 years.
“We know how important it is to take care of your pieces,” Kathleen said. 

Customers are local and family centered, she said. “It’s like they’re all family to us.” 

“We laugh and cry together,” said Roszka. 

Abe Wilmot does appraisals, purchases gold and works on the computer and technical end of the business. Kathleen also helps to compile wish lists for husbands to use when shopping for jewelry. “Come in, try it on. Jewelry is like shoes,” she said. 

The next 10 years? “We’re going to do the same thing we’ve been doing the last 30 years,” Abe said.
Windham Jewelers offers exceptional customer service and encourages everyone to stop by and see what they have that might fit you.

The crown tourmaline is set in 18 carat yellow gold. 
Windham Jewelers showcases an approximately 20 carat aquamarine stone set in platinum.
Kathleen Wilmot, Abe Wilmot, Kathy Cole, Melissa Roszak and Callie Conley are some of the seven employees who work at Windham Jewelers.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Mosquito opens for business a sure sign that summer is coming - By Jim Beers

In what is a sure sign of spring in the Sebago Lakes region, The Mosquito ice cream shop opened up on Friday for the 2014 season. Until summer, Raymond's hot spot for delicious ice cream will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Once summer arrives the hours and days will expand, and The Mosquito will continue to serve its happy customers until Columbus Day in October. 

Owner Travis McClellan and longtime girlfriend Darcy Foley have been running the family business now for seven years. "Mom and Dad opened it in 1996 to give the kids in the area a place to work, and serve great ice cream," said McClellan. For the first 11 years The Mosquito was run out of a tiny shack next to the Sunset Variety store in Raymond. Upon taking it over from his parents, McClellan, with the help of Foley, moved the business across the parking lot from Sunset, and into a beautifully built, rustic-looking ice cream parlor, complete with sliding barn doors. The business also features a screened-in seating area, as well as many benches and places to enjoy your desserts outside. 

"We carry about 50 flavors,” said Foley,” with some of our most popular being Moose Traxx, Peanut Butter Iditarod and the old classic--Mint Chocolate Chip. We are looking forward to another great season." The Mosquito thrives with its local fans, summer camps and summer visitors as well. "The Summer camps are great to us, Agawam, Nashoba, Wawenock, Kingsley Pines, Camp Hinds, as well as many others, all of them come here and are so supportive, like the Sunshine staff--they are always bringing groups over and we are so appreciative of that," said McClellan. Anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 patrons come in search of The Mosquito's frozen delights annually. 

When asked why customers were 'camping out' in front of the shop early on Friday McClellan replied, "It's springtime, and that's just the enthusiasm and anticipation the warmer weather brings around here. We have some loyal fans who get very excited each year, with some who like to be the first ones to get a cone every season." The Mosquito has featured Blake's Ice Cream from Manchester, New Hampshire for the last 15 years,...and to the shop's customers, it is the best around. 

The Mosquito will employ eight to 10 young adults in the summer, with a couple girls coming back for their ninth season. "We go all out on customer service, you can go a lot of places to get an ice cream, here we focus on making it a happy experience with happy people to serve you," said McClellan. Coming soon, The Mosquito will add a gift shop, complete with t-shirts and other apparel in a small building near the ice cream parlor. "The plan is to keep building on what we've been doing, improving the shop as well as the grounds here, to make this the best and most happy experience for our customers as we can," McClellan said. 

The Mosquito is located at 1333 Roosevelt Trail, in Raymond. The phone number is 207-655-BUZZ (2899). The Mosquito can also be found on Facebook. Darcy and Travis can be found working at the Arlberg Ski Shop when not scooping ice cream.