Daily Archives: June 11, 2008

Natural Goodness!

by Alexis Ann

It’s down-to-earth farming in Center Groton at the Red Fence Farm, not far from Wally World, Route 184. Art and Cherrie Hiles invite you to meet their furry creatures, including special Highland Cattle and especially, Diogennes, the donkey. While you’re there, don’t forget to take home some farm fresh eggs from all organically grown chickens. You can tell the difference just by cracking them not to mention the taste! Farm fresh on page 5.

Meet Farmer John “Whit” Davis on page 10. If you know Whit, you know he’s still farming at 84 years young, right down the Greenhaven Road, Pawcatuck, just a hop, skip and a jump from The Resident Newspaper main office. Whit’s dad taught him how to plant a vegetable garden at age 11 and that’s what he still enjoys doing. “I’m keeping track of what I plant, when I plant, when I pick. So, somewhere down the line, a younger person benefits. All they’ll have to do is pick up that journal. They won’t have to wait to be 80 years old before they know what works best for this area.” Now, that’s the way Nature intended…sharing good ol’ Yankee ingenuity. Thanks Whit! We’ll be visiting your farm for your home grown veggies.

Thanks for reading the Resident, the Good News that Rocks! Please remember to patronize our advertisers as they’re helping to make the “good news” happen.

P.S. Happy Father’s Day!

Angel Ride Raises $300,000

story & photos
by Maren Schober

Under sunny blue skies at the Mystic YMCA on Sunday May 25th, 213 men and women bike riders pedal across the finish line for the Fifth Annual Angel Ride. Most of the riders started in Norfolk the day before and pedaled the 80 miles to the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, founded by Paul Newman, in Ashford. They spent the night at the camp before continuing another 50 miles to Mystic, on Sunday.

I stand among hundreds of well-wishers as the riders cross the finish line, elated by that fact, and that they are doing this for a very good cause. Angel Ride is a fundraiser to benefit children suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses.

Behind us, YMCA tents are set up across the broad green lawn which stretches to the Mystic River. In the main tent a buffet table laden with food awaits the tired, hungry riders. Nearby the G&M DJ Music band members entertain with “Oldies to the Top 40.” Children wander from tent to tent where they enjoy free magic acts, face painting and craft projects. Allen Geer of Griswold strolls about with a mike in his hand announcing the names of the bike riders as they finish the course. He tells us that the Angel Ride has raised over $300,000 for the cause.

“I do this ride today in honor of my friend, Amy Rice, who had cancer,” declares Cathy Cardini of East Hartford.

“This is the first time I am doing this ride, and I have brought in $1,005.00 donated by my family and friends,” Cathy continues. “All the money raised this day goes to the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp Outreach Program. It will be used to bring the camp to children who are in the Childrens Medical Center of Hartford. These are children who are too sick to attend the camp themselves. Camp counselors come to the hospital and teach the children how to make camp crafts.”

During a burst of cheers, I see a father and son team finish on a tandem bicycle. Eric Kamisher and his son Alex of Rowayton have been training for about six weeks for this event. “When I heard about this fundraising ride for ill children, I thought right away of my friend’s little girl, Ellie,” said Eric. “I did it for her and the other seriously ill children.”

“I loved the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp where we stayed last night,” Alex tells me. “It is beautiful there. We had great food and entertainment and I slept on the top bunk.”

The Angel Ride fundraiser started when Angel Uihlein of Westbrook developed Leukemia about 7 years ago. Friends and neighbors started small local fundraisers to help pay for her medical expenses and it snowballed from there. Angel stands before me today at age 17, smiling and happy. She is a cancer survivor. I am blessed to witness the joy and happiness which comes form helping someone in need.

Red Fence Farm in Center Groton

photos & story
by Barbara Reed Collins

Every town has hidden treasures, and Center Groton has one of the best – Red Fence Farm – with 5.5-plus acres on Daboll Road, not far from Wal-Mart on Route 184. Owned by Art and Cherrie Hiles for 20 years, it is the home for some very special cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, pheasants, and a few rabbits. One lone donkey named Diogenes gets immediate attention with his greeting – a strong, loud bray that commands attention.

“He doesn’t get along with any of the other animals, so he gets to stay here by himself. He’s actually my favorite,” said Cherrie as she stroked the donkey’s head. His greeting makes him a favorite for school children and other guests who visit the farm from time to time by appointment.

The farm use is “grandfathered,” going back to a man named Daboll. But lineage is not what makes the site so special. It is the dedication of Art and Cherrie that deserves applause. All the animals they have sought out are antique breeds being raised to preserve those lines. Both Art and Cherrie are employed in other jobs; he is employeed at Wal-mart and she works at Noank Baptist Group Homes.

The Hiles are also committed to preserving the family farm lifestyle – providing quality and chemical-free food. Everything raised at Red Fence Farm is naturally grown, grass fed and pastured. What the owners do not use for their own food is sold, but supplies are limited. Turkeys are reserved months before the holidays begin. Butchering and packaging of beef, pork and poultry is completed in spotless quarters.

The biggest animals are the Highland cattle, an ancient Scottish breed. Their horns are long. And although the wavy coat colors can vary, those at Red Fence Farm are a light red. Art emphasizes that the meat tends to be leaner than most meat.

The pigs also have reddish coats. They are Tamworths – “threatened in the US.” More pigs will be bred at Red Fence Farm. Some will be sold. The breed originated in England.

Bourbon Red Turkeys are almost as noisy as Diogenes when visitors approach. Named for Bourbon County in the bluegrass region of Kentucky, they are handsome and fan their chestnut red plumage with exuberance.

Turkey and pheasant chicks get their start in a heated and protected shelter. There are also free range chickens – especially needed as layers for eager consumers who enjoy fresh eggs. An entire flock was killed recently. “Foxes, raccoons, Fisher cats, hawks – any of ‘em can do it. We lost all the laying hens in one night,” said Art. The risk, he acknowledges, is part of life on any farm.

Both he and Cherrie, express their satisfaction with a lifestyle that cherishes nature and all its wonders. Shrubs around the front of their home are bright pink – a color that attracts hummingbirds. The home is cozy with natural woodwork throughout – a pantry, cabinets, and other pieces built by Art. A bedroom bay window brings nature indoors with space for numerous plants that create a cascade of greenery.

The Groton farm is open for tours for school children and groups by appointment. For reservations or to purchase produce call 860.446.8929.

Hospice Southeastern CT Finds Home

story & photo
by Maren Schober

Dreams really do come true and today’s ribbon cutting ceremony at the new offices of Hospice Southeastern CT (HSECT) proves it. On May 22, HSECT officially opened its new administrative office and Community Bereavement Center at 227 Dunham Street, Norwich.

“Although we moved into our new headquarters in February, we waited until now for the official opening when the weather would be warm,” Patricia Morgan, Director of Commmunity Develoment, HSECT, jokes in her opening remarks. Much laughter follows as today is cold and rainy.

Nathan Beit, Chairman Building Committee, HSECT, sums up all the thoughts when he states, “Hospice is all about providing the best end of life care in our area.”

HSECT provides hospice, palliative care and bereavement services to over 6,000 patients and their families in New London County. Most patients are cared for in their own homes. Many times care is also provided in skilled nursing facilities.

The new Community Bereavement Center offers many services including bereavement and caregiver support groups, a special program for widows and widowers, expressive arts for chidren, teenagers and adults, and educational materials and videos on coping with grief and loss.

The 8,400 square foot new administrative office and bereavement center houses over 72 HSECT employees. Staff members train patient care volunteers to support the caregiver, offer respite, companionship, assistance with household chores, complementary therapies for the patient, and help in many other ways.
Bereavement volunteers offer support to grieving family members before the patient’s death and up to 13 months after death.

Betty Beaudette, Gloria Sinopoli and Zita Smith have been volunteers for HSECT for many years. “Working with patients for Hospice makes you feel good,”

Gloria shares. “There are so many ways you can help a patient, “ Betty agrees.

“When my parents were very ill and at home, there was no hospice at that time,” Zita tells me. “ I had a health aide come in and then I went out to get things done or just relax. Because of that experience, I now volunteer for hospice and give respite care so the caregiver can have a break.”

Another Hospice volunteer, Glenn Arthur, remarks, “When my mother was very ill, hospice came and helped with her care at home. Now I am a respite volunteer for caregivers in the hospice program.”

Volunteers can be trained to help in so many ways. For more information call 860.848.5699.

Tour de France Winner Visits Fort Trumbull to Promote Bicycling

story & photo
by Harrison Lees

It was a unique sight for Fort Trumbull State Park, and for New London. On Thursday, May 22nd, three time Tour de France winner, Greg LeMond, cycled around the fort, followed by a closely packed group of cyclists. Greg, who won the Tour in 1986, 1989 and 1990, was in New London with his old coach Bill Humphreys, Bike Guy LLC, and a large group of junior cyclists from the Mystic Velo Club to promote bicycling in the area and The Whaling City Cyclone Bicycle Race scheduled for June 22nd. Also at the fort were representatives from Dime Bank, a major sponsor of the race, and Dr. Chris Connaughty of Connaughty Chiropractics Center, sponsor of the Mystic Velo Junior Team.

Bill is sure that New London can become a cycling friendly community. He says that this race will have a “trickle-down effect” that will kick off an interest in cycling and it’s benefits. He says that before long, one could see rental bikes and paths ready for people coming off the ferry at the pier. Bill sees this not only because of the race and the cycling prestige it will bring to New London, but also because the area of Southeastern CT has “some of the most beautiful places to bike in the US.”

“Cycling is a sport for life,” Greg stated, saying that once one gets into it, it’s the kind of thing one sticks with. He mentioned how healthy cycling is, as it works against obesity and type-two diabetes. It is also a very mainstream sport and, as Greg put it, the “main form of fundraising.” This is because of its universal appeal since nearly anyone can partake. “Even someone not necessarily in shape can still ride and participate.” Greg explained this by saying that biking supports one’s weight and thus makes it easier to get into shape, adding that biking has to be “more than just for racing.”

When asked about the Fort Trumbull site, Greg said that it was “a nice spot for a race” – an “American style” race, to be specific. According to Greg, the most popular form of bike racing in the US is Criterium Racing as opposed to Exhibition Racing which is more popular in Europe. Exhibition Racing is normally held on long circuits and can last for several days or weeks at a time. Criterium Racing involves short circuits, usually less than five kilometers, and is more likely to be seen in city streets, which suits the roads around Fort Trumbull nicely. He said that this style of racing was best for developing racers and people who are just getting used to the sport.

The race itself will be held on June 22nd and will have several categories for racers of different ages and abilities. The race lengths will be from 15, 24, 35, and 50 miles long, 15 miles being 24 laps and 50 miles being 80 laps. For a nominal fee, bikers can enter for a chance to win cash prizes between $300 to $2,000. “People will be all over Fort Trumbull,” Bill said, saying that he expects approximately 500 racers to enter.
Before taking off on his final round through Trumbull, Greg said, “cycling is really the sport of the future,” even though the technology of the sport has not drastically changed, the “future is to have more bikes for transportation.” Bill added that he was “one phone call away from getting European, Dutch, and Haitian teams” out to the Trumbull track. With these kind of prospects, it looks like New London will soon have another attraction to add to its growing global stature.

Student Leaders Honored at Breakfast

(l-r) Simone Barner, Priya Ranade, Kathryn McCarthy, Christopher Campbell, Britta Helen Kunkmoeller, Jennifer Rogers, Tianchi Xu, Jaya Batra, Michael Reisfeld, Eileen Semancik, Hannah Boettcher, Connor Toole, Kalen Larsen, Emma Lochiatto, and Norman Harrison III, are high school juniors and seniors that proved their commitment to excellence in school as well as in our community. Betsy Perkins, Perkins & Murphy College Admissions Consultancy, Frank Winkler, Groton Utilities, and Daemeon Banks, People’s United Bank, are sponsors of the Annual Education Breakfast.

The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT’s East Lyme, Groton, Ledyard, New London, and Waterford councils, in conjunction with the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, held their Annual Education Breakfast on Friday, May 30, at the Groton Inn and Suites. Valedictorians from Ella T. Grasso Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical School, Ledyard High School, Stonington High School, North Stonington High School, Robert E. Fitch High School, The Williams School, East Lyme High School, New London High School, and Waterford High School spoke on the importance of community interaction with education institutions. Juniors from each school, who have shown outstanding community leadership skills, were also honored.

National Historic Preservation Month

William N. Peterson (on the right), Senior Curator, Mystic Seaport, drew a capacity crowd on May 18 to listen to his illustrated talk, “Norwich to New London: Historic Ships and Shipping on the Thames River,” in the Grand Ballroom at The Spa at Norwich Inn. John G. O’Shaughnessy (on the left), General Manager of the historic property, which opened in 1930, is a member of Historic Hotels of America. An English High Tea, featuring tea sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, jams, petit fours and beverages, was served to 130 guests at this free, annual community event which celebrates May as National Historic Preservation Month.

Misquamicut Fire Department Awards Firefighters

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Two firefighters from the Misquamicut Fire Department were honored for their dedication and service to the department at the annual Appreciation Dinner held at the Winnapaug Golf Club on May 10.

Misquamicut Fire Department Chief Louis Misto presented firefighter and Training Committee Chairman Bill Davis Sr. with the Firefighter of the Year Award. Firefighter and Captain Steven Howard was presented with the Edward T. Morenzoni Dedication to Service Award in memory of long-standing Misquamicut Fire Department member, Ed Morenzoni. Ed was an active and much respected member of the fire department for fourty-four years up until his passing last January, and held various positions within the department.

“No Farmers, No Food”

story & photos
by Barbara Reed Collins

John Whitman “Whit” Davis will be 84 years old on August 3, and for all his life he will be a proud farmer. “I was 11 years old when my father bought me a Shetland pony and a two-wheeled donkey cart. That spring he helped me plant a garden and taught me how to take care of it,” recalls Whit. “Then he said I could keep the money from whatever I could grow and sell.”

He did a milk route with his father, and followed the same route with the cart as he peddled the vegetables he grew. “I recently came across my account book that I kept back then. I sold 133 bunches of radishes at three cents a bunch,” he says, grinning. He earned a total of $75 that summer with sales of raspberries, squash, corn, lettuce and tomatoes. It was the making of Farmer John, or Whit, as he is known to thousands throughout the area and those who frequent the multi-acreage farm, at the end of Greenhaven Road in Pawcatuck.

At the time of the interview, sweet corn was being planted. The rich black soil was already greening up with early vegetables. The pride Whit takes in his work is evident as he speaks. A sign, “No Farmers, No Food,” is on the red truck he drives from his Ledyard home to the farm.

“What would people eat if we didn’t plant?” he wonders aloud. He says Americans must recognize the value of farm-raised food. What comes in from faraway places carries too many unknowns. “I don’t use any pesticides or chemicals; don’t want to handle it, don’t want it in my soil, or on my food,” he declares.

The soil, Whit says, can provide some economic savings along with hearty dishes. He knows when and what to plant, when and how to harvest, and all the other points of gardening wisdom. All he has learned will be shared with others in a journal he is writing. He described a friend’s philosophy: “Always try to put an older head on a young pair of shoulders.” And a good farmer, he says, needs to think ahead about the world’s food needs.

A younger person can take what Whit knows and start out with that information, and avoid the trials and errors of “playing catch-up.” He believes his words can be a great guide.

“I’m keeping track of what I plant, when I plant, when I pick. So, somewhere down the line, a younger person benefits. All they’ll have to do is pick up that journal. They won’t have to be 80 years old before they know what works best for this area.”

For now, Whit’s continuing the annual planting of
fields. Acres of corn seeds are already warming in
the ground, ready to break through the earth and
yield tender ears in many varieties. Information
about all his garden products can be obtained by calling 860.445.0787.

Groton Elks Give to the Community

The Groton Lodge of Elks, under the administration of Exalted Ruler Peter Lebejko, is pleased to report its charitable activities for the 2007-08 fiscal year. Lodge members donated thousands of hours and thousands of dollars to its various community programs.

The annual special education party in December was attended by 140 students and staff from area schools. Over $1,000 of Christmas gifts were presented to kids at Waterford Country School. Christmas food baskets were delivered to needy families and the Salvation Army. One hundred Special Olympians were feted at the Lodge. Members’ children and grandchildren were given a Christmas party which included a visit from Santa. The Youth Activities Committee held its annual Hoop Shoot. Donations were made to Operation Fuzzy Feet, and the Mystic Area Shelter and Hospitality.

The Academic Scholarship Committee awarded $800 in scholarships in January. The Lodge helped sponsor the Special Olympics Unified Bowling Team on their trip out west, and the American Cancer Society received another donation.

In February donations were made to Grasso Tech and Stonington High Schools’ alcohol-free graduation parties. The final Major Projects Steak Night for this year was held and will result in a donation to of $6,000 to the Safe Kids Program statewide. The Lodge and its members donated $14,000 to the Elks National Foundation, a national philanthropic organization.

The Groton Lodge of Elks and its membership logged over 6,000 hours and made donations of over $75,000 in cash and non-cash contributions, and is very proud of its community and charitable works. We look forward to another year of community partnership.

Home Builders Blitz 2008

story & photo
by Chris Annino

Habitat for Humanity of SECT and the community came together as one during the week of May 31 through June 7. The 2008 Home Builders Blitz built homes at Davis Farm Way, New London, for two separate families in need – the Bondys and the Bryans.

Several years ago Tom Gripson, a custom home builder, created the concept of the Home Builders Blitz. Tom organized a team of fellow home builders. In a five day period they were able to build 12 houses with donated materials. In time, the Home Builders Blitz associated itself with Habitat for Humanity because of their mutual goals.

During the kick-off event on Saturday, May 31st many gathered to celebrate the accomplishment of building the new houses. Kevin Hogan, WFSB News Anchor and New London Bureau Chief, hosted the event. “This is a great opportunity for people to volunteer and help a person in need,” said Kevin. “There is a tremendous collaborative effort between the two companies that are working on the project. Anyone that gets involved with this type of thing, I have tremendous admiration for.”

Among the speakers were Margaret Holmberg, Board of Directors President, Habitat for Humanity of SECT, Terri O’Rourke, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of SECT, Senator Andrea Stillman, Mayor Kevin J. Cavanagh, City of New London, Jane Dauphinais, Director, SECT Housing Alliance, Calvin Price, Vice President of Community Development and CRA Officer, Liberty Bank, Bill Ferrigno, President, HBA, Norton C. Wheeler III, Mystic River Building Company, and Bob Fusari, Sr., and Bob Fusari, Jr., Real Estate Service of CT.

A letter from Governor M. Jodi Rell commended Habitat for Humanity of SECT, Mystic River Building Company, and Real Estate Service of CT for a job well done. The letter continued that she urges the community and state to get involved with more projects like this.

Senator Andrea Stillman highlighted that when children are raised in a positive environment they grow and prosper into well functioning adults.

“In New London County there are 11,644 families with household incomes less than $35,000; and 9,600 renter households spend more than 35% of their income just on housing,” said Terri. “When hard working low income families have to spend more than 35% of their household income just on housing, being able to buy food, gas, clothing, medical services – the basic necessities – becomes impossible.”

For the two families purchasing the Builder Blitz homes, safe, stable affordable housing was a dream for a long time. The Bondy family moved 4 times in 9 years because the rental units they lived in were sold by the owner. For the Bryan family, having enough space for a family of four, and a safe yard to play in was the ultimate goal.

An orientation in regards to qualifying for affordable house through Habitat for Humanity will be held on June 18th at the Groton Public Library. For more information call 860.442.7890.

Dear Neighbor of Southeastern CT & Southern RI,

Not all tourists come to Southeastern CT with three children, bicycles and sunscreen. Sometimes, a man and a woman come here alone… to elope!

Our wedding and special events manager, Jill Fahey, created several elopement packages in 2007 because of the number of inquiries we received about elopements at our historic country inn and spa.
Lori Nittoli and Bill McCambley of Elmwood Park, NJ, were the first to take advantage of an elopement package in November 2007.

“We got engaged in June and began planning, but we found we didn’t want to deal with the stress, the pressure, the trying to satisfy everybody else’s needs but our own. It was as if we were planning a party for everyone else, and not planning a wedding for us,” said Lori, 37, a sixth-grade teacher. So we decided that we were going to change direction and plan a wedding just for us.”

She saw our brochure and loved the look of the inn and its grounds, made contact and found her needs were well understood and easily met.

“We [she and fiancé, Bill, 32, who owns a personal training studio] visited the property, selected Justice of the Peace Marie Gravell from a list provided by the inn, and a Boston photographer,” said Lori. “I had a photo of a bouquet I cut out of a magazine and had the inn give it to their house florist. I ordered the dress – it was actually a bridesmaid’s dress in champagne – and the veil, and they put a rush on it. Everything was done in five months.” Jill became “our family,” Lori said. “She was great!”

The elopement package included a 90-minute private Swedish massage for bride and groom, a private suite for one night, a wedding ceremony site – Lori and Bill chose the private dining room, in front of a roaring fire – a gourmet four-course dinner for two in Kensington’s restaurant and a petite, two-layer wedding cake.
“When we went back to our suite, the floor was covered in rose petals from the door to the bed, leading to a tray of chocolate-dipped strawberries and a chilled bottle of Iron Horse Sparkling Wine. They had robes for us embroidered with “Bride” and “Groom” and a gift from the Boutique. Plus breakfast the next day.”
How does she feel looking back on their experience?

“There are not enough adjectives to describe how wonderful it was,” she said. And that’s the kind of answer we in the tourism industry like to hear.

If you are intetested in learning more about our elopement packages, please call us at 860.886.2401 or visit www.thespaatnorwichinn.com.

Sincerely,
John G. O’Shaughnessy
General Manager
The Spa at Norwich Inn