Category Archives: Community Spirit

Crowned King of the Patch

Eric Ambler with his award-winning, 459-pound pumpkin

Eric Ambler with his award-winning, 459-pound pumpkin

A giant pumpkin grown by Clinton resident Eric Ambler won first prize at the Guilford Fair’s Giant Pumpkin contest September 22.  Eric’s giant hit the scales at 459 pounds, outweighing all competition.  The pumpkin was started in May on Eric’s historic homestead located within the Liberty Green Historic District on land once part of the original 1663 Rossetter Farm.  Eric, a fifth-grade science teacher at Brown Middle School in Madison, is looking forward to setting a new record next season with seed harvested from this year’s record crop.  Will it need a bigger crown? To post your comments, visit www.theresident.com or follow us on twitter@Resident_News.

Kind Hearts Are Helping Animals

story and photo by
Renee Hughes

For Stonington residents Shayla Breault and Sage Stefanski, both age 8, helping those in need is a concept that they’re putting into practice for their four-legged friends. On Saturday, September 21, these third graders from Deans Mill School presented a $250 check to the Connecticut Humane Society headquarters at 169 Old Colchester Road in Quaker Hill.
Over the past year Shayla, with the help of Sage, has led a campaign to raise money for these animals through bottle collecting, running a One Dollar Sale, and obtaining donations. The idea originated one day when the two girls were trying to decide what to play. “I said, let’s start up a club to save the animals!” Shayla recalls.

(l-r)Bobby Shaffer, Freddie Ortiz, Shayla Breault, Sage Stefanski, Hailey St. Pierre-Casati, and Karen Begin are working to aid animals.

(l-r)Bobby Shaffer, Freddie Ortiz, Shayla Breault, Sage Stefanski, Hailey St. Pierre-Casati, and Karen Begin are working to aid animals.

Shayla started by collecting bottles. Her mother, Melissa Breault, said her daughter was already concerned about the environment, and had the good habit of collecting litter that accumulated on the side of the road. “She soon found out it could be put toward a good cause,” Melissa said.
The One Dollar Sale was launched right before school started; Shayla and Sage sold items including brownies, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and homemade jewelry such as friendship bracelets. Both girls wore samples of their handiwork at the shelter.
In addition to the donation check, the two girls presented artwork they had created for display in the building.
Connecticut Humane Society Veterinary Tech Karen Begin said donations like those initiated by Shayla and Sage are essential to running their organization. “The Connecticut Humane Society is completely funded by private donations,” Karen explains. “The money assists with everything from providing food to procedures such as spaying and neutering the animals.”
After presenting this inaugural donation, Shayla said her club is getting ready for its next challenge. The girls plan to raise more money to help abused and neglected animals as well as assist the Groton Animal Control Shelter. If anyone would like to help Shayla and Sage, please call 860.535.0125 to make a donation. And what do the beneficiaries say? “Woof!” “Meow!”
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Otis Sale Has Books, Books, Books

story and photo
by Renee Hughes

Everywhere you look is covered with books. “They come out of the sky, they come out of heaven, we don’t know where,” Torrey Fenton, Friends of Otis Library book-sale committee co-chair, jokes as she and other members prepare for their 12th annual sale on Friday through Sunday, October 18 through 20 at Otis Library on 261 Main Street, Norwich.
Torrey and her co-chair Marcia Erickson said they expect to have 25,000 to 30,000 books for customers to purchase in numerous categories including fiction, non-fiction, western, mysteries, anthologies, classics, reference, garden, sports and biographies as well as CD’s, VHS tapes and DVD’s.

Friends of Otis Library Book Sale Committee Members: (l-r) Ann Lathrop, Eunice Luther, David Fenton, Nancy Barry, Marcia Erickson, Denise Dembinski, Torrey Fenton, and Dick Erickson are hard at work preparing for their 12th annual book sale on October 18.

Friends of Otis Library Book Sale Committee Members: (l-r) Ann Lathrop, Eunice Luther, David Fenton, Nancy Barry, Marcia Erickson, Denise Dembinski, Torrey Fenton, and Dick Erickson are hard at work preparing for their 12th annual book sale on October 18.

The funds are an important part of the library’s planning. In the past, the Friends of Otis Library generated $10,000 to $12,000 from the event alone. According to Marcia, all of the revenue generated goes to the organization, which then donates a large portion to the library. The money has helped purchase library books and has even assisted in paying down the library’s mortgage principal. “It all depends on what the library’s needs are,” Marcia said.
The sale starts on October 18 at 10 a.m., and for early birds there’s a $10 preview hour starting at 9 a.m. Free admission is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. On average, books are $2 for hardcovers and a quarter for paperbacks. There will also be a special Sunday deal where people can put “as many books as they can fit in a grocery bag” for $5.
“Our overall aim is to make money–but we also look upon it as a service to the town,” Marcia said.
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Seven Nominees Announced for Prestigious Athena Awards

Seven outstanding women are nominees for this year’s Athena Award presentations of the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce and Geraldine Cunningham Associates, the sponsors of the 11th Annual award.
The nominees will be honored at the Athena Award Dinner, set for the evening of October 24 at the Lake of Isles Golf Course. The event is open to the public and tickets are $45 on a first-come, first-serve basis by calling Lisa Konicki at 401.596.7761.
The 2013 Athena nominees, and some of their achievements, are:
AlexisAlexis Ann—Founder and Publisher of The Resident
For the past 23 years, Alexis Ann has directed attention to Good News in our community through her publication, The Resident, regularly spotlighting achievement and innovative programs led by women. Notably, The Resident’s “Women in Business” special issues honor hundreds of women luminaries and the aspirations of woman-owned enterprises.  Formerly a Special Education teacher and for 32 years the owner of a small business, Alexis earned her B.A. degree from Central Connecticut State University in 1973, and her M.A. degree from the University of Montana in 1977.  Her service in the U.S. Army National Guard, in which she received a direct commission to officer rank, included both the Army Commendation Medal and Meritorious Service Medal; she retired as Public Affairs Officer in the Rhode Island Army National Guard with the rank of Captain.

Margaret_Austin1.06Margaret Austin–Vice President of Clinical Services/Chief Nursing Officer at The Westerly Hospital (retired)
Margaret has 36 years of progressive leadership and administrative experience in the hospital setting.  She has a Master of Science in Nursing from University of Rochester and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UCONN. Despite the constant and rapid changes at Westerly Hospital in the last 18 months, and despite the scrutiny, the anxiety, shifts in authority, etc., Margaret’s focus remained on patient care and on the people who manage and provide that care.  Margaret led the efforts that resulted in Westerly Hospital’s achievement of ISO9001 certification this spring, making the hospital the first in New England to reach this certification.

Karin BarthKarin Barth–Leader of The Cartells, a local band for 27 years
Karin excels at Vocals, Percussion, and Alto Sax.  She was a featured vocalist with the renowned “8 to the Bar,” for four years.  She recorded 2 albums with the video “Swingin’ School” before leaving to form The Cartells.  She donates her band and time to many charities. Prior to her life as an entrepreneur and professional artist, Karin was as Connecticut State Trooper for two years; she works to dispel stereotypes, serve with courage and inspire other women to pursue a career in law enforcement.  Karin has testified in CT for legislation that supports the advancement of women, protection of animals and other topics.

Rita casadyRita Casady– Circulation Marketing Mgr, South County, Providence Journal, retired
She managed the largest internal non union department and had the highest diversity rate.  She sought fairness and equity for her staff, securing things like maternity leave for her part-time employees. While involved in Little League, she was one of two women who had their own teams.  Rita has 12 years of service to the Rotary Club of Chariho where served on numerous committees and chaired events.  She’s a past Board member of the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce, and was a Democracy Compact Fellow 2000.  She was the YWCA Outstanding Woman 1986 and 2004.

RosemarieRosemarie S. Kingsbury, CAP-OM–Senior Administrative Professional, Hoyt, Filippeti & Malaghan, LLC
Rosemarie served in the United States Army from 1977 to 1980. She was one of the first women to train with the men at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. While in Advanced Individual Training she was retired from the Corps and enlisted into the Regular Army as one of the first women to be called Soldier. From 1986 to 2012, Rosemarie was employed by Sansiveri, Kimball & Co, LLP as an administrative professional. During this time she honed her skills and knowledge and became active in the International Association of Administrative Professionals. She obtained the IAAP Member of Excellence status for the years 2008-2013. Since 2005 she has been active in the advancement of women in 15 states through mentoring in this organization.

Diana SerraDiana L. Serra–Westerly Town Council President, former Owner/Director./Head Teacher of Westerly Preschool
Diana taught and nurtured Westerly children for over 30 years. She received the Napatree Business & Professional Women of Achievement Award in 1999. She’s served three consecutive terms on the Westerly Town Council, and was the second female in Westerly history to be voted as Council President.  She has encouraged other women to get involved in local politics by her friendly, no-nonsense, open-minded approach to government.  In her capacity as Town Council President, she has been at the helm to deal with a historic 500 year flood and Superstorm Sandy.  She has served on numerous boards and committees and as council liaison to a myriad of associations and agencies including the Westerly Senior Center, the Westerly Airport Corporation, Westerly Hospital Community Committee and Chamber of Commerce and the North End Crime Watch reading program.
Lydia TeixeiraLydia Teixeira–Vice President, Hi-Tech Profiles, Inc.
Lydia is the co-owner of the Hopkinton Industrial Park, a 250,000 square foot building that houses seven tenants, technology and science-based companies.  She is the co-owner of 3 other businesses that are housed in the Park, as well as The Pavilion restaurant in Hopkinton.  Together, these businesses employ 160 people.  Lydia has been a driving force for creating jobs and she helped mentor and coach the women of Hi-Tech Profiles.  Lydia’s community service includes volunteering as a presenter at Career Day at the Stonington High School, providing guidance and exploration in career development.  Lydia was the recipient of the 2010 Good Neighbor Award by the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center.
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Mystic Marriott Donates to Stonington COMO

(Back Row, l-r) Shawn Leandro, F&B Manager, Mystic Marriott; Eric Hennig, Staff Accountant, Mystic Marriott; Chris Allen, Director of Operations, Mystic Marriott; (Middle Row, L-R) Antone Andrews III, Banquet Chef, Mystic Marriott; Mohammed Benjdid, Sous Chef, Mystic Marriott; Paul Krawic, Executive Chef, Mystic Marriott; (Front Row, L-R) Lori Woll, Director of Sales, Mystic Marriott; Beth-Ann Stewart, Executive Director, Stonington COMO; Kathryn Nason Burchenal, President of the Board, Stonington COMO; Farouk Rajab, General Manager, Mystic Marriott; Natalie Lussier, Human Resources Manager, Mystic Marriott; Jay Mellow, Athletic Director, Stonington COMO; and Margarita Merced, Director of Human Resources, Mystic Marriott.

(Back Row, l-r) Shawn Leandro, F&B Manager, Mystic Marriott; Eric Hennig, Staff Accountant, Mystic Marriott; Chris Allen, Director of Operations, Mystic Marriott; (Middle Row, L-R) Antone Andrews III, Banquet Chef, Mystic Marriott; Mohammed Benjdid, Sous Chef, Mystic Marriott; Paul Krawic, Executive Chef, Mystic Marriott; (Front Row, L-R) Lori Woll, Director of Sales, Mystic Marriott; Beth-Ann Stewart, Executive Director, Stonington COMO; Kathryn Nason Burchenal, President of the Board, Stonington COMO; Farouk Rajab, General Manager, Mystic Marriott; Natalie Lussier, Human Resources Manager, Mystic Marriott; Jay Mellow, Athletic Director, Stonington COMO; and Margarita Merced, Director of Human Resources, Mystic Marriott.

A team of associates at the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa in Groton have awarded $3,000 to the Stonington Community Center—COMO—in honor of the diverse programs and services the COMO provides.

“The team at Mystic Marriott has been a loyal supporter of the COMO for many years,” said Farouk Rajab, General Manager of the hotel. “We are proud to be able to support them and their mission of building a strong, vibrant community.”
This donation combines funds raised by the Mystic Marriott associates in support of the Waterford Group Charitable Foundation, as well as a percentage of the proceeds made following the 2013 Mother’s Day brunch held last May at the Octagon restaurant.
The COMO offers wide-ranging programs for preschoolers through senior citizens, from art to athletics, beaches to basketball, tennis to thrift shop. For more information, visit www.thecomo.org. The AAA Four-Diamond Mystic Marriott can be reviewed at http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/gonmm-mystic-marriott-hotel-and-spa/
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Mildred “Milly” Carlson, Community Service Awardee

Mildred “Milly” Carlson is the recipient of the 2013 Jacqueline B. Nixon Community Service Award for her many years of “Giving Back to the Community.” Milly received the award, a Hitchcock armchair, at the City of Groton Day celebration on August 2.
Groton Utilities named the award to commemorate “Jackie” Nixon’s service to her community. She operated a food pantry in her residence for 24 years, distributing food on a regular basis to many needy families. Jackie passed away July 6, 2004, and Groton Utilities created the award to coincide with its centennial that year.

Milly Carlson has lent her prodigious energy to a multitude of Groton projects and people.

Milly Carlson has lent her prodigious energy to a multitude of Groton projects and people.

The selection committee cited Milly’s tireless efforts in volunteering her time to give back to the community. She distinguished herself in many areas of community service— from education to the arts to historic preservation to fund raising for nonprofit organizations.
For example, said Groton Utilities, she helped establish the historic district in the Eastern Point section of the City of Groton. She later served on the commission which oversees the district, including serving as its secretary.
Recently, she helped lead Art on Groton, an art exhibit on the grounds of the Bill Memorial Library; Milly is one of five founders of this yearly midsummer event, which brings artists and audiences to historic Groton Bank.
In education, she originated and implemented fundraisers, specifically House Tours of Homes in the Eastern Point area, for the Groton Education Foundation. These tours raised $20,000 for teacher grants. She was a seven-year mentor in the Groton Mentoring Program to a young girl, a city resident.
Elizabeth Carlson, in nominating her mother for the award, said “I feel my mother should be your next service award winner, as she continues to exemplify the very meaning of this award: Giving back to the Community.” She emphasized that her mother continues to reside in the city, where she has lived since 1957 and raised her family of four children, adding “she continues to proudly contribute her time, energy and resources in making our community a great place in which to live and work.”
Earle A. Williams was the recipient of the first annual Jacqueline B. Nixon Community Service Award in 2004. Subsequent winners of the award are: Robert “Bob” Leeney, Mimi Orkney, Lillian “Lil” Hansen, Sarah Stanley, William “Bill” Welsh, Jr., Alfred Restivo, Robert “Bob” Austin LaFrance, and Archie C. Swindell.
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Sunrise in Noank

Sunrise in NoankLinda Flynn of Noank took this photo with her camera phone at sunrise on January 28, next to Palmer’s Cove Marina.  She says, “It literally stopped me in my tracks at how beautiful it was!  From the time it took me to run down stairs, get a camera and run outside, the colors actually where dissipating, but I’m pleased I was able to capture the vividness.”

In Newtown, A Discussion on Public Safety

In Newtown, A Discussion on Public SafetySen. Art Linares (center, with glasses) listens to testimony during a Jan. 30 public hearing which was held at Newtown High School by the bipartisan Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Task Force. The panel was established in the wake of the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Hundreds of parents, educators, first responders and area residents offered personal anecdotes and policy suggestions to the task force.  The hearing lasted nearly six hours. Sen. Linares serves on the panel’s School Safety subcommittee.

CPO Strubel Selected for Navy’s Sulzer Leadership Award

Fire Control Technician Chief (Submarines) Richard Strubel, 2013 Dennis Sulzer Memorial Leadership Award Recipient.

Fire Control Technician Chief (Submarines) Richard Strubel, 2013 Dennis Sulzer Memorial Leadership Award Recipient.

Fire Control Technician Chief Petty Officer (Submarines) Richard F. Strubel, Leading Chief Petty Officer for Naval Submarine School’s Basic Enlisted Submarine School, BESS, has been selected to receive the 2013 Dennis Sulzer Memorial Leadership Award.

The annual award was established in 1996 in memory of a former Submarine Group Two command master chief who had passed away the year previously. The recipient is selected by the Commander, Submarine Group Two, and the award is traditionally presented at the Enlisted Submarine Ball.

Strubel was praised by Rear Admiral Richard P. Breckenridge, Commander, Submarine Group Two, for demonstrating “exceptional leadership and dedication to our Sailors and our Navy. He is highly motivated and a superb example of engaged Chief Petty Officer leadership.”

Dennis Sulzer enlisted in the Navy in December 1969 and served on seven submarines— including a tour as Chief of the Boat of USS Boston (SSN-703)—before he was named command master chief of Development Squadron 12 in Groton and a then a year later to the Group Two position. In 1990, he was named Brigade Master Chief at the United States Naval Academy before retiring in 1993.

Strubel directs a division of 22 instructors who managed 24 BESS classes, graduating 1,700 initial accession submarine Sailors in 2012—530 with distinction. During the past year, Strubel also served as  the volunteer coordinator for Naval Submarine School’s Chief Petty Officer Association and, as such, worked with Groton’s Pleasant Valley School in various outreaches ranging from school field days, through reading books to first and second graders, and setting up a gallery for young art projects.

Captain David A. Roberts, Commanding Officer, Naval Submarine School, in recommending Strubel, noted, “Chief Strubel has demonstrated the next level of ‘inspirational leadership’ from his very first day on my staff. He has made an incredible, positive impact on the future leaders of the Submarine Force through direct hands-on mentoring and is truly deserving of being honored as a recipient of the QMCM (SS) Dennis R. Sulzer Award.”

Susan Bailey and Dave Brown to Co-Chair Groton’s Fall Festival

Dave Brown

Susan Bailey

Susan Bailey and Dave Brown will co-chair Groton’s Eighth Annual Fall Festival, which is scheduled for Saturday, October 12, 2013 and runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Groton’s Annual Fall Festival is a special community event created and sponsored by the Groton Business Association (GBA) of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce (GMCC).

Crunch! Mmmmmm! Cookies!

Girl Scoutsby John Stratton

OK, here we go: Samoas! Trefoils! Do-Si-Dos! Tagalongs!  But Wait, There’s More!

But you already know them all…Girl Scout Cookies!  Yes, it’s that time again.

Eight flavors and 47,300 girls can’t be wrong. And that’s just in Connecticut, as Girl Scout troops do their annual fundraising for a myriad projects to improve the community.

Cookie ordering from individual Scouts has just started, and booth sales will begin a week or so depending on your town. If you don’t know any Girl Scouts and want to buy cookies, contact the Scouts at product sales@gsofct.org or 800.922.2770 ext. 3305.

Yes, it’s a tradition. A little over a century ago, the Scouts say, “Juliette Gordon Low brought to life her vision of an opportunity for girls to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually by connecting with one another and their communities.” Their cookie tradition—in 1917 appearing first as self-baked, neighborhood-sold in Muskogee, Oklahoma—blossomed in the ensuing decades to a national icon. The vast cookie volumes required licensed bakers to turn out quality cookies for the masses…with recognizably identical recipes and freshness, but for new generations of  charmingly enthusiastic salespeople.

A new wrinkle this year, “Cookies for Heroes,” allows you to donate boxes to servicepeople far away. The Scouts explain, “When you order your cookies from a Girl Scout or buy at a booth, just let them know how many boxes you would like to donate. The girl will collect the money, and Girl Scouts of Connecticut will ensure the cookies are sent to women and men serving our country. You can also write a message to be sent with the cookies, or help us fill the virtual truck on CookiesForHeroes.com.”

It’s a gesture that goes right back to World War I: That’s why we can share recollections of the cookies, and why we always order our favorites.  The annual Girl Scout Cookie campaign begins now—so get on board—crunch!

Blonde Ale Helps to Bring Misquamicut Beach Back

Blonde Ale’s new logo tells a Sandy story.

Blonde Ale’s new logo tells a Sandy story.

by John Stratton

Every tasty sip will put some of Sandy’s sand back in place—on the beach where it belongs.

Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island is introducing a new beer to show its support of the Bring Back the Beach fundraising effort of the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Bring Back the Beach Blonde Ale” is available at local pubs and liquor stores starting February 15, and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Greater Westerly Chamber Foundation for its small-business-recovery grant program.
The ale will also be donated and served at the February 23 “Black & White Masquerade” at the Ocean House, an event that is a fundraiser for the same cause; 500 people will attend. Food stations, music by High Definition, and a silent and live auction are also being devoted to Bring Back the Beach.

The 27 devastated small businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy motivated head brewer Josh Letourneau and brewery owners Jennifer and Alan Brinton to conceive the blonde ale idea and they proposed it to executive director Lisa Konicki at the Chamber.  Josh then created a special beer that captures the essence of summer.  The distributor, McLaughlin & Moran, Yankee Schooner, and Brewer’s Supply donated materials and support to the project.

“We are really excited to present this new beer to the community, and happy that we have found a way to help generate support for the businesses in Misquamicut,” said Jen Brinton.

The Chamber’s Lisa Konicki adds that, “We are so grateful for the creativity and generosity of Grey Sail Brewing.  They themselves are a very small, and young business, and this demonstration of caring for their neighbors is truly inspirational.  This is one of the most exciting components of our entire fundraising campaign and I know that the community is going to embrace this product.”

To date, the Greater Westerly Chamber Foundation has raised and distributed over $170,000 in grant funds to 27 Misquamicut businesses devastated by hurricane Sandy.  The goal is to raise $400,000 and to have every business fully operational by Memorial Day weekend.