Mark D. Judy of Old Lyme marched in the Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C. on January 21 as a member of the Corps of Cadets of Virginia Military Institute. VMI, with an enrollment of 1,600 cadets, is the nation’s oldest state-supported military college and is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as among the top three public-supported liberal arts colleges in the country.
by John Stratton
What’s not to like? Great wines and beers, great food, great friends old and new. And a tenth anniversary swirl and glow in the air in the Uncas Ballroom at Mohegan Sun…which means lots to see and enjoy.
That’s 32—count ‘em 32—celebrity chefs, vintners, brewmasters. And about 900 distinct wines and brews offered to the diligent taster seeking to develop higher ranges of connoisseurship. But who’s counting? You have to pick and choose, and learn. And perhaps share your responses with more than 10,000 others like you, ready with a good word as friends meeting new friends.
Mark and Bridget Freeman of Tolland attended with another couple, Kevin and Renée Furbush of Glastonbury. They’d been to WineFest’s before, for the past five years. “It’s a great weekend,” they said, just about in unison as they took a break to sample some eats. And the ladies laughed, “Without the kids—it’s a bonus!”
Two friends from the Hartford area were there for the first time, Dan Tarvell of Windsor and Brian Pitney of Enfield. Would they come back next year? “Absolutely, yes!” they said.
Among familiar local faces were Sandy Chianzi of Mystic and Crystal Merritt of Stonington. They describe themselves as “the two favorites at the Steak Loft,” where they tend an active bar with many regulars.
Likewise, Lynn Malerba, 18th Lifetime Chief of the Mohegan Tribe, stopped in with husband Paul and daughter Angela and fiancé Matt, as did Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, blending with the throng in the expansive ballroom.
Robert J. “Bobby” Soper, President and CEO, Mohegan Sun, was on hand as well, noting the camaraderie that makes the event a special one.
“This event has become the premier wine festival in the Northeast, if not the East Coast,” said Bobby, who added that there was something for everyone to enjoy. “Whether you want to attend a private tasting event or activity, or enjoy the unmatched variety of offerings at the Grand Tasting, or just mingle with the top celebrity chefs in the world—it is truly a remarkable event for wine and food enthusiasts. Or even for people like myself who do not have distinguished palates, and just want to have a great time.”
Bobby also sees the WineFest in a larger context, attracting many new visitors to the complex in Uncasville.
“We are constantly refreshing our property,” he said, “and have had a flurry of openings of new establishments in the past several months.
Restaurants and nightlife choices such as Hash House a Go Go, Landsdowne Pub, Mist in Casino of the Wind, Vista Lounge at Wombi Rock, the Bow & Arrow Sports Bar in Earth Casino and the new Clay Pipe cigar lounge have all joined us.”
À votre santé!
Natchaug Hospital is pleased to announce that the Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation granted the Hospital $33,124 for the improvement of classroom technology in Natchaug’s Windham and Mansfield Clinical Day Treatment and Inpatient Schools. The grant will fund the addition of Promethian interactive whiteboards to classrooms and computer workstations that allow teachers and students to interact and utilize the boards.
by John Stratton
Community banks, the locally owned and operated banks here in eastern Connecticut, are valuable for many reasons: They are the institutions that last year contributed 27,750 hours of volunteer time, originated $928 million in loans, and directly contributed $1.488 million to our local communities. And they may have made your mortgage, or placed their faith in your business plans and helped you grow
Seven presidents of regional small banks gathered to discuss mutual goals and concerns at the first Community Bank President’s Round Table held at Dime Bank in Norwich February 5. Most of the banks are many years old and derive their investment incomes from home-town mortgage and business loans, not from the exotic financial investments and funds that characterize “mega-banks.”
“It’s a tribute to community banking to see us all in this room together,” said Kevin C. Merchant of Jewett City Savings Bank. “We are theoretically in competition, but the bottom line is community service.”
The presidents also pointed out that all their employees—1000 between them—live locally, and are involved in their towns and in their economic strength as homeowners and purchasers of goods and services.
“Forty-five percent of loans are made by community banks,” said Rheo A. Brouillard of Savings Institute Bank and Trust. “We are the ones lending to the local body shop down the street.”
Yet the complex regulations aimed at suppressing excesses on the part of “mega-banks” that helped cause the financial crisis apply equally to small banks. Compliance is expensive, even though small banks typically have none of the risk-intensive investments that entangle large banks.
Dime Bank’s Nicholas Caplanson noted that he seeks realistic goals for his borrowers. “We don’t get into subprime mortgages, or with people who should not be borrowing.”
Early is important, the presidents agree; none of their banks likes to foreclose. Gregory R. Shook of Essex Savings Bank, critiquing the inappropriate and complex small-bank regulations, said that regulators “have made this giant fog—that’s the kind of dynamic that they have created.”
Concurring, Gerald D. Coia of Eastern Savings Bank called out for Washington to “stop the chaos. People have to feel good about their future; if you feel good about your future then you will borrow. You’ll put that addition on the house, or buy that machine for your business.”
The presidents agreed that small banks will adapt. “We can help your cash flow, your business,” said Shook.
Dime Bank Foundation has awarded a $2,000 grant to the Martin House for the purchase and installation of new locks for resident room doors. According to Thomas Hyland, Executive Director of Martin House, “We are tremendously grateful for the significant support The Dime Bank Foundation has provided to our residents over the years. This support has helped to create enormous positive changes for Martin House residents”.
Martin House is a residential program that provides support services to 56 individuals who were homeless or threatened with homelessness primarily due to mental illness. Martin House was founded in 1982 in response to the number of homeless men and women in the Norwich area because of discharges from the Norwich State Hospital. Its mission is to provide a nurturing community for people recovering from mental illness and/or addictions. This is accomplished by providing dignified housing, nutritious food, a safe, caring environment, and supportive services for men and women of limited income who have been alone, alienated, fearful and dispossessed. For more information, visit www.martinhousect.org.
The taste of chowder will benefit the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center Emergency Food Pantry this Saturday, February 23, 2013 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Olde Mistick Village will take on a warm and welcome aroma as the merchants of Olde Mistick Village host their 10th Annual Cabin Fever Festival and Charity Chowder Cook-Off.
Tickets are $1 for each 3 oz. cup of chowder – or you can purchase 12 tickets for $10. Tickets will be on sale the day of the event at a variety of locations throughout Olde Mistick Village.
Vicki Anderson, Executive Director of the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center, says “There is no way to adequately state the importance of Cabin Fever to the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center’s emergency Food Pantry. We are currently feeding over 2,000 people in our local community of Mystic, North Stonington, Westerly, Pawcatuck and Stonington throughout the year. We gave out $493,024 worth of emergency food which is $55,000 more than last year. We must be prepared to help feed our neighbors and Cabin Fever makes that possible. We are deeply grateful.”
Over 25 of the area’s finest restaurants and caterers will compete for top awards for Best Chowder. In addition to the People’s Choice Award a team of local media celebrities will be judging in the categories of 1) Most Creative Chowder; 2) Heartiest Chowder; and 3) Best Use of Regional Ingredients. All awards will be presented on the same day by Senator Andrew Maynard and State Representative Diana Urban in the Meeting House in Olde Mistick Village at 5:00 p.m.
Over the years, the Chowder Cook-off has raised between $4,000 and $11,000. Lu Lupovich, chairperson for the event said “With the generous participation of over 25 restaurants this year, we just know we will exceed last year’s high of $11,000 raised – Cabin Fever really brings people together for a great event benefiting such an important organization in our community. It’s all about neighbors helping and feeding neighbors.”
Fun free family events will be going on all afternoon throughout the village.
The Mystic & Noank Library recently received a grant from the Rotary Club of Mystic for $250 to purchase new children’s books on DVD. The DVDs help develop pre-reading skills as children listen to stories and read along with the video on their television or computer screen. The Library has over 300 children’s and teen’s books on DVD and continually updates its collection. “We are grateful for the Rotary Club of Mystic’s ongoing support of our programs,” said Roberta Donahue, Children’s Librarian. “Since we have been adding books to our online e-reader library, we need extra funding to continue to add to our DVD collection in the Library.”
The Mystic and Noank Library is a public association library. Located in the town of Groton, the Library serves residents of Mystic, Noank, Groton Long Point, Stonington, Center Groton, and Old Mystic. The Library was established in 1893 by Captain Elihu Spicer, who donated the land and building for the communities of Mystic and Noank. It is an impressive two-story building, restored and expanded in 1991 with the addition of a children’s wing and a public meeting room. The Library offers books, periodicals, movies and other resources and programs for pre-schoolers to senior citizens.
Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. In more than 160 countries worldwide, approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 30,000 Rotary clubs.
Salon des Indépendants (Hygienic Art Galleries, 79 Bank Street)
January 26 through February 9
Art drop-off: Sat. Jan. 26 8am-6pm; Show opens 8pm
Pick-up: Sun. Feb. 10 Noon to 4pm
Visual artists are invited to submit work to the 34th Salon des Indépendants exhibition to be held at the Hygienic Art Galleries. The rules are simple: one piece per artist, no judge, no jury, no fees, and no censorship! More than 400 artists are expected to have their work on display in the galleries for this unique and inspiring exhibition.
Hygienic Young Artists Exhibition (The Garde Gallery, 305 State Street)
January 26 – February 2, opening celebration Sat, Jan 28 from Noon to 4pm
Art drop-off, Thurs, Jan 24 & Fri, Jan 25 4-7pm;
Pick-up Sun. Feb. 3 Noon to 4pm
Young artists are encouraged to submit work to the junior salon hosted at the Garde Gallery space on State Street. There will be many hands-on arts related activities and performances throughout the day on January 26 celebrating the opening.
Hy-gienic Photo-gienic (Expressiones, 84 Bank Street)
Opening reception February 1, 6-8pm
The Visual Scavenger Hunt! Calling all photographers! Come join us for a photographic scavenger hunt! Grab a Photo-gienic packet at the Hygienic Art Galleries on Saturday January 26th from 9am-3pm. The packet contains a list of words to be interpreted throughout the New London Historic District. Return the packet with your 5×7 photographs and be part of the PHOTO-GIENIC IV Exhibition. Packets are due Wednesday, January 30th and may be returned to the Hygienic. The opening is Friday, Feb 1 and runs through Sunday, Feb 10th at Expressiones Gallery directly across from the Hygienic Art Galleries!
Fashion in the Ballroom (Crocker House Ballroom, 35 Union Street)
Friday, February 1, 8pm
Haute couture comes to New London for its fifth year in this exciting event that will showcase new work from local designers Susan Hickman, Cristin Gallagher, Christina Dempsey, Susan Gorra, Vintage Chic, and special designs from Ruben Elijah Reiser Johnson in the gorgeous and historic Crocker House Ballroom. Doors open at 7pm with a $10 suggested donation at the door. Show will be accompanied by the local DJ styling of Kid igloo, Newsflash!, and #dagYO.
Mayfly Playhouse 24 (Crocker House Ballroom, 35 Union Street)
Saturday, February 2, 8pm
It is the lure of the Unknown that drives us to explore outside our boundaries, to discover new worlds, to look beyond our universe, gives us life, moves us forward towards…our beginning? It is the Unknown at the heart of the Mayfly Playhouse. Stories, yet unwritten. Actors not yet cast. Words unspoken. An empty stage. Until the last, the last day, the end times. In 24 hours, seven plays, conceived, written, rehearsed, come together under the lights, never witnessed before, never again. Will it happen, become reality, or is it all just illusion, imagination? When that can be answered, it’s too late to ask the question. You need to see for yourself. It is the Great Unknown.
Hygienic Poets (Hygienic Art Galleries, 79 Bank Street)
Saturday, February 9, 7pm
Hosted by Rhonda Ward. Open mic reading followed by a poetry slam with cash prizes judged by members of the audience.
Rock Lobster Band-O-Matic (Oasis Pub, 16 Bank Street)
Saturday, February 9, 10pm
A pick-up game for musicians! Interested parties sign up for one of five categories: Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drums, or Other. On January 26, we’ll draw one name from each category and create up to five new bands. The groups will have two weeks to get together and work up one cover and one original (and name their acts and work out wardrobes) before performing at the closing party for Hygienic XXXIV at the Oasis Pub on February 9.
story & photos
by John Stratton
More than 250 business and civic leaders heard Governor Dannel P. Malloy offer a straight-from-the-shoulder assessment of the state’s future at an early, snowy morning breakfast sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut on January 16.
The Business Breakfast at the Holiday Inn Norwich also featured short presentations by Tony Silvestri of New London Harbour Towers; James Sullivan, Chairman of the Connecticut Municipal Electrical Energy Cooperative; and Captain Marc Denno, commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Submarine Base. Each has a strong stake in Connecticut’s prosperity as an industrial and business power.
The governor led off with a tribute to the Navy and to submarines, asserting that, “The state’s relationship with the Navy at the Base is as good as it’s ever been…and we’ll do everything we can to strengthen our relationship with the Base and Electric Boat. The Navy will become ever more dependent on submarines to fulfill national defense.” He noted that “fifty thousand people in Connecticut have jobs in the military, or are deeply dependent on them.”
Resolution of the state’s fiscal deficits, he said, will be essential to its future stability and job growth.
The governor pointed to his upcoming February 5 plan to “present a balanced budget with no new taxes, although some [existing] taxes may be extended.” There have been corresponding cuts in government employment, he said, noting that “the executive branch of the state government has 1,200 fewer jobs” than when he took office. He cited “efficiency and productivity” improvements, including $250 million in investments in information technology and computer modernizations, as making that streamlining possible.
Looking back, he said that Connecticut had “failed to grow jobs on a net basis” because “we had no [economic development] strategy,” but that an outreach to many small companies and a dozen large companies and organizations has begun to bear fruit in investment and jobs. The philosophy is based on an “innovation ecosystem” that includes education at the university level as well as “pre-literacy” programs for children entering kindergarten.
“Change is hard in Connecticut,” he smiled, “but our economic development programs are successful—they are leading us to ‘make product, and sell it!’”
story & photo
by John Stratton
The big pancakes are good. The scrambled eggs are good. The just-right pieces of toast are good. The browned sausages are good. The crisp bacon, likewise.
That’s for starters. It was a good pancake breakfast fund-raiser for the Junior Firefighters program at the Old Saybrook Fire Department, raising town awareness of the investment in the department and the people which keep them safe and sound. Good company, in a good cause this January 20, the first breakfast in a series.
Many people came in to the Main Street station after church on this Sunday morning, some from neighboring towns. Throughout the morning the eight Junior Firefighters and several Juniors-in-training worked together to organize and serve at the breakfast at the station on Main Street.
Joe Lacasse of Old Lyme was one of several who “came over the bridge” from his town to the east; active in “Veterans Helping Veterans” VFW programs, he’s aware of the importance of community volunteers and does his part. Harriet and Hank Stein came up from Clinton and “wouldn’t miss it!” And Sandy Petrasek, an Old Saybrook Acton Library circulation assistant, said that the breakfast was “the perfect next stop” after church, and that it “hit the spot.”
Little Kayla Franklin, who at 14 months was perhaps the youngest future-firefighter there, didn’t have much to actually say—but clearly enjoyed herself, along with her parents, Mike and Brenda Franklin. “We’re a firefighter family,” said Brenda.
More than 210 people of all ages and all walks of life dropped in to enjoy a hearty breakfast and chat with friends from Saybrook and other shoreline towns. A good many of the breakfast folks toured the station, with Juniors directing their attention to intricacies of the shining apparatus.
The all-volunteer department has been in operation since 1924 and responds to about 400 calls a year, from smoke alarms to serious accidents and fires. The Junior Division goes back about 18 years.
Rosina Boyd, the mother of the Juniors’ secretary-treasurer Davis Boyd, noted that the Junior program imparts a “strong sense of responsibility—it’s really like a brotherhood, not just for the kids, but for the kids and the adults who work together.”
Other Sunday morning breakfasts will be hosted on February 3, February 17, and March 3, all from 8 a.m. to noon at the Old Saybrook Fire Department headquarters, 310 Main Street, at the intersection of Main Street and Old Boston Post Road. In case of very inclement weather such as a major snow or ice storm, check the OSFD’s website at www.oldsaybrookfire.com or call 860.857.5300.
Alexander Valbuena, a third grade student at Park City Magnet School, created an African mask based on the M’Bwoom Royal Helmet Mask he saw while visiting Housatonic Community College. “I took a big headdress and saw places to put new materials and colors,” said Valbuena, whose mask was covered in vibrant green, yellow, and blue symbols, and sported a beard made of yarn and adorned with feathers and ribbons on top.
Multicultural Magnet School student Natilie Mikhaeel also created artwork inspired by the African mask. “We traced our name on the side, and balanced it on the other side,” Mikhaeel said, describing the mirror-image she used to create the symmetrical painting.
Eliana Llanos, a Winthrop School third grader, collaborated with three other classmates to create an abstract painting full of hearts and stars, using different shades of pink, orange, and black. “I started with the lines, and drew this star here,” Llanos said, pointing to her work.
These children and their parents joined other Bridgeport families and educators at HCC on Nov. 8 for an art exhibit, where the students’ artworks were put on display. The art show was the end result of an on-going partnership between the Housatonic Museum of Art and third grade classes from seven Bridgeport elementary schools.
Earlier this year, classes sat down with museum educators to learn about and discuss various styles of art and the importance of art. They later took a tour of HCC to see the artwork in person. Back in their classrooms, they created new original pieces of art inspired by what they saw. Each school picked a different piece of art to focus on.
To the teachers who helped organize the program, the results were easy to see, based on the students’ immediate reactions. The students said they learned how art can express emotions as well as relate the images and stories to their own lives.
“This was a great way for students to use their creative energy,” said Laurie Polizzo, an art teacher at High Horizons Magnet School. “This gave them a chance to use their verbal self-expression. No answer was wrong – it was all about what they saw, which helps build their thinking skills … Seeing the art work up close and personal was a great experience for the students.”
Kelly Poole, an art teacher at Multicultural Magnet, combined two pieces of artwork for her class assignment. The symbols from Peace Signs, a mural by Amy E. Bartell, were added to the African Mask and resulted in colorful symmetrical paintings. Poole emphasized “not just copying the art,” and instead creating something original.
Winthrop School’s art teacher, Rachel Rockwell, had her students try their hands at abstract art, inspired by an Ernest Briggs painting. She assigned groups of students an emotion, and discussed how a color can be associated with that emotion.
Abstract art is often difficult to grasp, but Rockwell thought her students handled it well. “Younger children are often more open to this than adults are,” Rockwell said.
The program was undertaken in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Bridgeport, which funded the program with a $10,000 grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
“When asked what the focus of my presidency is, I always say it has to be the youth of Bridgeport,” said Rosa Correa, President of the Rotary Club. She said her basic goal was to motivate the students and teach them to appreciate the arts.
“Dreams can’t stay in our minds, they have to become reality,” Correa said, addressing the families and teachers at the art show. “I see a Picasso here. I see a Michelangelo here.”
“Third grade is a critical time in a child’s development,” said Anita Gliniecki, President of HCC and President-Elect of the Rotary Club. She said looking at and creating art helps build critical thinking skills. To the students, it was just a fun experience, but they also unknowingly gained a great education.
Gliniecki also explained how the students were shown a glimpse of what college was like, and this program should help instill a long-term goal for them to attend college. “Hopefully they will see that going to college is a natural part of their life,” Gliniecki said.
After the art show, the students led their parents around the campus, showing all of the artwork that they saw in their tours.
“I really liked the big scribble-scrabble on the first floor, it can mean anything you want,” Valbuena said, referring to the abstract Briggs painting in Beacon Hall.
Janet Luongo, the Museum Educator at HCC, helped run the program, leading the student discussions and tours.
“My heart was struck by these wonderful children. Their art was fun and extraordinary,” said Luongo.