Thursday, December 31, 2020

Business Spotlight: TLC Tree

For more than two decades, Travis Corson has been accumulating insight into the care of trees and his
expertise can greatly benefit home and business owners in the Sebago Lakes Region.

Through his Raymond-based business, TLC Tree, Travis and his staff of professional arborists and expert climbers can solve any tree problem that could arise. They specialize in waterfront properties and are adept in handling both dangerous trees and associated natural aesthetics.

Travis, who has owned TLC tree for the past five years and previously owned and operated a tree business in Hallowell for 5 years, said that TLC Tree staff members are highly experienced in performing dangerous tree trimmings and takedowns near buildings and structures, around leach fields, close to utility lines and hanging over roadways. They take great pride in providing peace of mind to homeowners by eliminating weak and dead tree limbs and branches before high winds or a heavy snowfall can cause disaster.

“Arborists are experts in tree care services and when you consult with a Licensed or Certified Arborist, you can rest assured they have done their homework and are able to advise on how best to approach your tree project in a way that supports your goals and in the best interests of your safety, home, property value, and your trees,” Travis said.

Skilled and experienced, TLC Tree offers competitive and affordable pricing, superior customer service and treat each property they work on with care and respect.

 “We feel that our success is a direct relation to the excellent customer service we provide”, he said. We are your local expert, with a strong eye for detail and an even stronger commitment to be on time and courteous all the time. We sincerely value the opportunity to be of service.”   

Trees are indiscriminate about where they grow. Travis and his team can strategically remove lower limbs that hang over homes, driveways, swimming pools, walkways, and that block sunshine from your yard. TLC Tree trimmers can also assist waterfront property owners by giving them back their scenic views that have become hidden by overgrown and overhanging trees.

They work year-round and provide stump grinding, brush disposal and array of tree care services. Using high-tech stump removal machinery, TLC Tree can restore the look of yards and properties by thoroughly removing stump remains under the surface of the ground.

Additionally, TLC Tree offers basic and advanced tree trimming and seasonal pruning for fruit trees, ornamental trees, and shrubs.

Free estimates are always available for seasonal, routine, aesthetic, emergency, and non-emergency tree services. Ask about their complimentary Tree Care Wellness Check to check the overall health of your trees and to identify those that may be sick, dead or are slowly dying, assess any hazards or environmental threats that may be causing tree damage, sickness and tree death, diagnose your trees for any signs of tree rot or decay, and work with you to develop a tree care treatment and maintenance plan, and if necessary, tree removal.

“Trees take a long time to grow and we certainly take that into account,” Travis said. “Each situation is different, so we carefully explain what course of action we recommend, and we like to give people options.”

He said consulting the experts at TLC Tree in advance can be helpful when planning and budgeting for any tree care or tree removal project.

“Truly the best thing about what we do is that we are able to save trees and make a dangerous situation safe again,” Travis said.

Call 207-655-TREE (8733) to discuss your needs or begin the scheduling process on their website at They are a trusted Home Advisor Service Provider and are five-star top rated. Check out their review page to see what your neighbors are saying. You can also find them on Facebook.

We love trees, and we love what we do. We are your local expert, with a strong eye for detail. We thank you for the opportunity to earn your business and to be of service.” <

Friday, December 18, 2020

Business Spotlight: Café Sebago Bar & Grill

Café Sebago Bar & Grill in Raymond has been a longtime community staple when it comes to delicious
food, a relaxed family friendly atmosphere and full bar. Earlier this year, the establishment changed hands with owner and local resident, Kyle Bancroft stepping up to save the café, which was facing permanent closure due in part to the pandemic and the interests of the management.

Kyle’s fond memories of frequenting the restaurant in his younger days, paired with his entrepreneurial spirit, made his decision to buy the café an easy one. Kyle owns KJ Bancroft General Contracting out of Raymond and is the General Manager of Vision Contracting & Supply in Westbrook, Maine. He figured his business background coupled with Devon Pepin, his general manager’s cooking experience, the café could continue to provide a dependable eatery for area residents and visitors. 

“If it wasn’t for my team, I wouldn’t be able to do this,” Kyle said. “I am so fortunate to be surrounded by a staff with experience and dedication to run the day-to-day operations while I take care of the behind-the-scenes duties.” The bartenders and servers are friendly and attentive, and the chefs combine the freshest ingredients with a creative flair to craft dishes that even the toughest critics rave about.

The first thing Kyle did when he purchased the cafe was dive into renovations, modernizing the space with fresh paint, refacing the bar, upgrading kitchen equipment, and creating an outdoor patio. He also revamped the logo to a more modern look and changed the name to Café Sebago Bar and Grill to reflect the food and atmosphere more accurately.

He opened in August and says the community has been amazingly supportive. They are open every day except Mondays for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and serve breakfast on the weekends from 6:30 a.m. to noon. In the evenings, they encourage you to crank up the juke box and unwind with happy hour specials from 8 p.m. to close. Although the curfew has the night scene ending early during the pandemic, Kyle says in the summer he will aim to be the local go-to spot for a late-night drink and friendly camaraderie. The patio will not only be a great space to dine in the open air but will provide live music and entertainment as well.

The café is the perfect blend of bar and family restaurant. In early afternoons you will find the bar filled with friendly chatter and as dinner hours roll around, the place fills with families and couples that come for the house made food and low-key atmosphere. For weekend breakfast they offer lots of crave-worthy favorites and feature homemade corned beef hash and eggs benedict along with hearty omelets and other traditional dishes. Prices are affordable enough to treat the whole family and with a full bar, adding a bloody mary, mimosa or some Bailey’s to your coffee is no problem!

There is something for everyone on the menu and if they can make it in house, they do - homemade sauces, dressings, marinades, salsas, chowders, pickles and even chips to name a few. They take pride in quality, freshness and consistency and go the extra mile to ensure satisfaction in every dish.

Some starter favorites include their huge plates of nachos, whole wings, lobster stew, and French onion soup.  Everything is fresh never frozen and made to order including their popular Pasta Alfredo’s in several varieties and seafood dishes which are prepared lightly breaded and fried or baked casserole style. Additionally, they offer chef specials daily. Be sure to stop by on Thursdays for their perfectly cooked Prime Rib roast which is served from 4 to close or when they run out.

Café Sebago Bar & Grill is conveniently located at 1248 Roosevelt Trail in Raymond with plenty of parking. Patrons are welcome to dine in or take out and can easily place their takeout orders on their Facebook page. You can also call 207-655-4006 to order ahead. Follow them on Facebook to keep up with their entertainment schedules and to see what they are serving up for daily food and drink specials.  <

Friday, December 11, 2020

Holiday Spotlight: Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals

Unsung heroes are continuing their worthwhile efforts right here in Windham, making sure that horses
suffering from abuse and neglect receive the best possible care and treatment every day throughout the year. And despite the pandemic, the ongoing love and support offered by the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals remains a stable force for suffering equines.

The mission of the MSSPA is to provide refuge, rehabilitation and placement of seized equines, support the placement of surrenders and educate the public. 

“I really think the best aspect of what we do is the rehabilitation of horses,” said Robert Sheckler, MSSPA community programs manager. “When you see a horse coming here in bad shape physically, and then when rehabilitated you can see their true personality, it’s amazing.”  

He cited the example of a horse named Dexter, which arrived at the MSSPA with mobility issues after not having a hoof trim in several years.

“Without having his hooves trimmed, it caused him to become crippled and lame as a result of joint problems caused by tendons and ligaments that were stretched out and his rehabilitation took a full year to complete,” Sheckler said. “Now Dexter is walking and running like a normal horse. We’re seeing a change in his personality now too. It’s like a reemergence and now that he’s recovered, he is very friendly and much more sociable. Because he’s no longer in constant physical pain, he is able to express his true personality.”

The Society is unlike any other animal welfare facility in all of New England. It was originally formed in 1872 to protect the horses who pulled Portland’s streetcars, but it now provides full-time staffing, with 24-hour access to veterinary services and offers shelter and a home for horses at its farm at 279 River Road in South Windham.

Sheckler said that the MSSPA uses its resources to provide direct care to equines who have suffered abuse. It promotes humane treatment, training and use of animals through education and hands-on experiences. It also collaborates with other animal-service agencies to maximize resources for all.

“Horses in the care of the Society have been removed from abusive situations by law enforcement and placed with the MSSPA where they receive refuge and rehabilitation,” Sheckler said. “Once the horses are restored to their best health, the next step is training and thereafter the horses become available for adoption. Horses who do not find adoptive placements receive lifetime care in the River Road shelter.”

During 2020, some 116 horses were impacted by the MSSPA. A total of 47 horses received rehabilitation services or were maintained at the farm, with eight equines under foster care, 19 horses listed on Maine House Matchmaker and 42 horses provided with emergency support from the Society’s Feed and Care Bank.  

Unlike rescue organizations for smaller pets, MSSPA faces a different set of challenges when trying to adopt out rehabilitated equines. The group of potential adopters is smaller, some level of training and experience is required and not everyone has a facility suitable for horses.

“Many horses in our care are not able to be ridden due to age, abuse or neglect,” Sheckler said. “One of our biggest challenges is finding companion-only placements.”

The pandemic has also been a significant obstacle as the MSSPA has had limited opportunities for public fundraising events and it’s had to curtail hosting a popular birthday party program.

“The year ahead is certainly uncertain because of the pandemic, but we want to resume hosting birthday parties as soon as we are able to again,” Sheckler said. “We did notice after the farm was closed to visitors some historically less-social horses became really excited when for a while over the summer we were able to host some “Picnic with Ponies” events. It showed the positive aspects for the horses of the socialization aspects and psychological benefits of interacting with the public.”

He said that the organization is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) public charity and receives no federal, state, or local funding. It is funded by a combination of donations, bequests, grants, and fundraising activities and does not charge for its services and does not seek reimbursement from any public funding source.

To learn more about the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, visit and find them on Facebook and Instagram. < 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Holiday Spotlight: Shop Local with this Bonus Gift Card Promotion

It just might be time to rethink the old expression “it’s better to give than receive” when shopping for
Christmas gifts in the Lakes Region, thanks to a new bonus card program.

The initiative was created by Robin Mullins, the Executive Director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and Tom Bartell, the Executive Director of the Windham Economic Development Corporation. Customers will receive a $5 bonus card for every $25 in gift cards that they purchase at 22 different participating chamber businesses.

As an example, those who buy $100 worth of gift cards will receive four $5 bonus cards to be used during a later date.

“Residents should be excited about this because they get bonus $5 cards for gift cards they were probably going to buy anyway, and by shopping local they are helping local businesses and the community,” Mullins said. “If a consumer spends $100 at a locally owned business, $68 of that stays local, supporting community programs.”

Bartell echoed that sentiment.

“In this time of restricted business activity, buying local will help our locally owned and operated businesses through the upcoming winter season,” he said.

The promotion is modeled after successful bonus card programs offered by businesses elsewhere and was created by Mullins and Bartell during a brain storming session at Rustler’s Steakhouse.

“We said ‘Hey we can do that here,’” Mullins said.

This special promotion begins Dec. 6 and ends when the merchant’s allotment of 50 cards has been distributed or at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 31. To redeem the cards, a customer must present the card to a participating business and it will be accepted as cash against the total bill.

Bonus cards expire March 31. 2021 and the initiative is generously sponsored by the Windham Economic Development Corporation and Gorham Savings Bank.

Because the bonus cards do not expire until March 31, we hope that folks will use them well after the holiday season,” Mullins said. “By doing so, they will continue to support local businesses and the community.”

She said it is hoped that this program prompts residents to consider shopping locally this holiday season.

“Ordering online, although convenient, is hopefully a consumer’s last option, and only when an item cannot be found locally,” Mullins said. “If a consumer orders online with an organization like Amazon, none of that money stays local. Therefore, providing no benefit to our community at all.”

She said that locally owned businesses generate more tax revenue and thus promote positive economic growth by recirculating a greater share of every dollar back into the local economy, adding to the pot of many non-profit and social programs, facilitating civically based healthy communities.

Bartell said the timing of this program follows growing national trends.

“Recent studies have shown that consumer spending above gift-card value has been increasing over the last few years and is averaging $59 more than the original value of their gift card, up from $21 from 2017,” he said. “Bringing customers into your establishment with a gift card leads to increased sales.”

Mullins said the bonus card program is perfect for both local shoppers and area businesses.

I see this as a huge benefit as it will not only get shoppers in to buy gift cards but will also get them back to redeem the $5 bonus cards,” she said. “And, due to the generosity of Windham Economic Development Corporation and Gorham Savings Bank, the $5 bonus cards will not come out of the businesses’ bottom line, but rather will be reimbursed to them.”

According to Mullins, local businesses are excited to offer the bonus card initiative this year.

“Every business has been happy to participate,” she said. “In fact, they say ‘This is a no brainer.’ And they asked if we wanted them to reach out to other business owners about the program.”

Bartell said that Windham Economic Development Corporation is grateful to Gorham Savings Bank for funding the initiative.

“It was great that Gorham Savings Bank reached out to us and agreed to provide the resources to be able to double the participating local businesses,” he said. <