Category Archives: Community Spirit

Lieberman Receives Highest Civilian Honor From DHS

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman receives the Department of Homeland Security’s Distinguished Public Service Medal from Department Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman receives the Department of Homeland Security’s Distinguished Public Service Medal from Department Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman received the Department of Homeland Security’s Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest honor the department can award to a civilian.

Department Secretary Janet Napolitano was joined by former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff in presenting the honor.   Each spoke of the Senator’s legacy creating, supporting, and improving the department.

“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition from Secretary Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security,” said Lieberman. “For the past eleven years, DHS has been instrumental in keeping America safe.  However there is no destination point in homeland security and we can always do better. I am proud to have played a role in the creation of the DHS, and I will surely miss working side by side with the fine members of the homeland security community.

“I am confident that my successors will ensure that the department continues, and improves upon, its mission.”

Submarine School Enlisted Sailors Graduate With Distinction

Basic Enlisted Submarine School Graduation

Seaman Apprentice Guillermo Villerreal, Class Honorman of Basic Enlisted Submarine School Class 13060.

Seaman Apprentice Guillermo Villerreal, Class Honorman of Basic Enlisted Submarine School Class 13060.

Eighty-three Sailors, “Class 13060”, USS Skipjack (SSN-585), graduated from Basic Enlisted Submarine School, on January 11.

Seaman Apprentice Guillermo Villarreal was Class Honorman with a 96.46 Grade Point Average. Villarreal, who was also meritoriously advanced because of his academic achievement, continues in Apprentice Team Training, ATT.

Seaman Noel Runyon received the Navy Core Values Award for best exemplifying the standards and expectations of a United States Navy Sailor and Seaman David Williams, Class Leader, was recipient of the Heritage Award.

Both Runyon and Williams join Villarreal in ATT.

With Grade Point Averages exceeding 90.0, Fire Apprentice Benjamin Renfro, Fireman Recruit Braden Anton, Seaman Alexander Meaux, Seaman John Shackleford, Machinist Mate Third Class Michael Lamprecht, Fireman Recruit Ryan McKenney, Seaman Apprentice William Smartwood, Seaman Recruit Jared Brooks, Seaman Recruit Shawn White, Seaman Recruit Joshua Chandler, Seaman Apprentice Sean Blaine, and Seaman Apprentice Steven McSperrin joined Runyon as Graduates with Distinction.

Machinist Mate (Weapons) “A” School Graduation

Fireman Jacob Young was the Class Honor Graduate of Machinist Mate (Weapons) Apprentice Training Class 13010.

Fireman Jacob Young was the Class Honor Graduate of Machinist Mate (Weapons) Apprentice Training Class 13010.

Nine Sailors of “Class 13010” graduated from Machinist Mate (Weapons) ‘A’ School on Friday, 11 January.

Fireman Jacob Young received the Torpedoman Plaque as Class Honorman with a Grade Point Average of 95.21 and was meritoriously advanced because of his academic achievement.

Machinist Mate (Weapons) ‘A’ School is a ten week enlisted apprentice training school providing basic knowledge and skills at the entry level in the MM (Submarines) rating in Shipboard 3-M, Mechanical Skills, Three-Inch Launcher operation, Explosives, Torpedo Tubes and MK 48 ADCAP torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Goodner Is Submarine School 2012 Sailor of the Year

Leading Petty Officer of the Fire Control Technician Advanced Training Pipeline, Sean Goodner, is Naval Submarine School’s 2012 Sailor of the Year.

Leading Petty Officer of the Fire Control Technician Advanced Training Pipeline, Sean Goodner, is Naval Submarine School’s 2012 Sailor of the Year.

Fire Control Technician First Class (Submarines) Sean Goodner is Naval Submarine School’s 2012 Sailor of the Year.

Petty Officer Goodner, the Leading Petty Officer of the Fire Control Technician Advanced Training Pipeline, is responsible for the leadership, mentorship, and qualification of six Instructors. Additionally, he is Course Supervisor for seven courses, including the Master Fire Control Technician Pipeline, totaling 544 curriculum hours with more than 100 students. Goodner annually provides basic and advanced training to over 5,000 officer and 7,000 enlisted sailors.

A native of Pasadena, Texas, Goodner, who joined the Navy in 2005, reported as an instructor in the Advanced Training and Readiness Department in May 2010 and qualified as a Navy Master Training Specialist (MTS) in August 2012.

Goodner also serves as the Silver Dolphins administration officer, and is responsible for the daily personal affairs for 40 of Naval Submarine School’s most promising initial accession Sailors who perform in over 200 community events and patriotic observances as a flag team, color guard and rifle drill team annually across New England.

The usually voluble Goodner was surprised and humbled by his selection. “I’m fortunate to be a member of the instructional team here in the schoolhouse. As an instructor you have a rare and rewarding opportunity to leave your fingerprints on the next generation of Undersea Warrior. It’s a challenge that’s both daunting but also exhilarating!

“We have so many talented sailors on the staff, it’s an honor to even be considered and to be selected is truly amazing! I’m fortunate to have great shipmates as instructors in my department and together, we work hard to set high expectations and maintain even higher standards of performance both for ourselves and our students. In many ways, this award is recognition of all of our hard work.”

In celebrating Goodner’s achievement, Captain David Roberts, commanding officer, Naval Submarine School, noted, “Petty Officer Goodner’s dedication, leadership and sustained superior performance is nothing less than extraordinary. He embodies exactly what any command needs in a First Class Petty Officer, providing energetic and intrusive deck plate leadership and much needed mentorship to junior sailors.

“His attention to every critical detail and ability to foresee problems is unmatched. Petty Officer Goodner always takes on the hardest assignments and always produces the best results. He has unlimited potential that would guarantee success in any position of greater responsibility.”

Goodner now advances to the next level of consideration and competition, as the Submarine Learning Center (SLC) Sailor of the Year, together with select Sailors from SLC training sites in Norfolk, Virginia, San Diego, California, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as well as the Trident Training Facilities in  Silverside, Washington and Kings Bay, Georgia.

The sailor selected in that review will then represent the SLC as its nominee for the Naval Education and Training Command 2012 Sailor of the Year.

A Tale of Angels in Real Life

story & photo
by Jon Persson

(l-r) Sam Linder, New London Lions Club; Kelly Horton, Vice President, Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor/Food Center; Gemma Moran; and Tom Santos, New London Lions Club, celebrate major donation.

(l-r) Sam Linder, New London Lions Club; Kelly Horton, Vice President, Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor/Food Center; Gemma Moran; and Tom Santos, New London Lions Club, celebrate major donation.

“There is a band of angels in New London,” declares Gemma Moran, as members of the New London Lions Club unload a donation of $2600 worth of food at the center which bears her name.

The food, paid for with a grant from the International Lions Club, replaces supplies lost or depleted as a result of superstorm Sandy. Waterford’s ShopRite has helped stretch the donation dollars, contributing a discount on the usual pricing of the food. It is a continuation of a mission started years ago by the self-effacing Gemma, and which culminated in the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center in New London.

How much did the dollars stretch?

“Don’t mention me, mention the volunteers!” Gemma urges. “The most important thing is to thank everyone.” She rattles off the numbers for which the many volunteers and donors have been responsible in 2012: the 2,163,000 pounds of food delivered in 2,500 supply trips to 96 food pantries and soup kitchens across southeastern Connecticut.

Thanking the volunteers for their work is “the greatest respect and love I can give them,” says Gemma.

Indeed, the volunteer Lions and regular Center crew move with great energy and purpose, offloading the supplies from a box truck in pallet-loads, quickly moving perishables to the Center’s refrigerator-freezer. Greetings, resplendent with obvious affection, are offered throughout. During a brief pause, Sam Linder, president of the New London Lions, calls the gathering together with the admonition, “Gemma is going to tell a story.”

Then, as the audience listens with anticipation for some great wisdom or historic insight, Gemma proceeds to tell a joke from her days years ago in Boston. The twinkling eyes reveal a reason she has lived so well—into her 88th year.
It’s an active place. In the lounge area of the Center, volunteers from the Sprague Community Center and the New London Food Pantry wait for their turn to load their trucks with food supplies for the coming days. At the Sprague Center, some 200 people receive assistance on a regular basis; Outreach Coordinator Brenda Keefe says that “all are welcome” though they have a special emphasis on helping the working poor, who at times live outside of the public assistance system.

Gene Stringham of the New London Food Pantry says that they work on a voucher system to gain eligibility for Federal food assistance. “I’ll tell you how it began,” says Gemma, after the work is done.  “My job was to service the poor” in the union where she worked, when someone was in trouble they said, “Call Gemma!” One day a mother with two young daughters came to her office; Gemma asked what they needed, and one young daughter said, “Mommy’s got nothing in the refrigerator.”

“I decided something had to be done,” says Gemma. The United Way was offering Venture Grants, and Gemma was able to procure $5,000. The State gave her use of an old garage at Uncas-on-Thames hospital—and soon Gemma and her volunteers were supplying food to five local food pantries.

Today the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center is housed in a sizable warehouse located at 374 Broad Street near downtown New London.

The original five pantries are now 96 soup kitchens and pantries,  and donations are moved in and out by volunteers and a devoted staff. It is a calling heard from many quarters—professional, social, or spiritual—answering Gemma’s admonition, “You only get out of life what you put into it.”

There is a band of angels at work in the New London community; Gemma Moran is watching over them.

New Londoners Offer a Moving Remembrance for the Homeless

story & photo
by Jon Persson

Laura Edelstein, Volunteer Coordinator at the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, organized the Homeless Memorial on December 21st, in conjunction with National Homeless Memorial Day.

Laura Edelstein, Volunteer Coordinator at the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, organized the Homeless Memorial on December 21st, in conjunction with National Homeless Memorial Day.

The homeless of New London are safe from the sting of winter on the longest night of 2012, a fulfilled mission for the St. James and Covenant Shelters of this city that reaches into the new year. Yet on this chill night people gather at All Souls Church to remember 38 of the homeless who have passed, often too soon, from this life. It is a remembrance of the lives, and of the conditions of life, which contributed to their early passing. In the audience are homeless—and former homeless—as well as staff and volunteers from the shelters, the supporters and leaders, most of whom count friends among the deceased.

Two of these friends had died while in their tents, on the bitter nights of the 2006 winter. Their loss was the trigger for an increased effort in the city to seek out the unsheltered and offer them the security of a warm place to sleep. The group has found that there are many causes of homelessness, and thus many solutions are called for.

Susie Hermanson, a frequent presence at the Homeless Hospitality Center, leads the evening’s ceremonies, which are a mix of prayer and response, performances of songs by James Taylor and John Lennon, candles, and a moment of silence. Ron Steed offers a  reflection on the damaging effects of homelessness on health, and the illnesses made worse by lack of rest ad respite. Laura Edelstein, organizer of this memorial and of volunteers at the Hospitality Center, reads an appreciation of the many volunteers who make the center possible.

A darkened hallway, lit only by the light of electric candles, leads to the chapel where the memorial takes place.  Outside, along the Jay Street sidewalks, 38 winter hats adorn candy-cane stakes, each bearing the name of a New London homeless person who has passed since 2006.

Yet at the reading of the names of those who have passed, there is a fresh poignancy: a 39th name is added to the list—Brian Ash, 32 years old, a young man of gracious heart and noble spirit, lost his personal battle for life in the early morning hours of this very day, the shortest of 2012.

New Dime Bank ATM Dedicated

(l-r) Richard Virgin, General Manager of Fiddleheads; Nicholas Caplanson, President of Dime Bank; and Tony Sheridan of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, look on as Susan Zimmerman, President of Fiddleheads cuts the ribbon to dedicate a new ATM at the New London organic, fair trade grocery store.

(l-r) Richard Virgin, General Manager of Fiddleheads; Nicholas Caplanson, President of Dime Bank; and Tony Sheridan of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, look on as Susan Zimmerman, President of Fiddleheads cuts the ribbon to dedicate a new ATM at the New London organic, fair trade grocery store.

story & photo
by Jon Persson

Organic groceries now have a new friend at Fiddleheads in New London.  On December 1, Dime Bank officers dedicated a new ATM inside the organic, fair-trade grocery cooperative which for five years has anchored a movement to bring green economics to New London.

The new ATM merges two elements of society and economics; the traditional bank and the New Age, “locavore” grocery store.

Richard Virgin, General Manager at Fiddleheads, explains that this is an important measure of progress in the long-term mission of bringing healthy diets to an urban setting. It’s especially true when the store hosts such events as farmers’ markets, says Richard, where vendors might not be able to accept credit or debit cards.

Making healthy food choices available in urban centers, which some refer to as “food deserts,” is a vital part of improving the health of Americans in our cities. It is also still not a part of mainstream American life, says Richard. He cites a recent report by the Connecticut government identifying ten places to buy food in downtown New London—all were convenience stores, while Fiddleheads, the purveyor of local, organic, fresh, and fair trade foodstuffs, did not garner a mention.

But, Richard recounts, the new ATM is one more step in a process which brings Fiddleheads into the fast-moving present day. While the uniqueness of the store is a throwback to earlier, simpler, more “localized” times, Dime Bank’s ATM brings an element of mainstream technology to the evolving cooperative.

Putnam Bank Applauds St. Vincent de Paul Place

story & photo
by Maren Schober

On Dec. 6th Putnam Bank officials, staff and community leaders gathered at Putnam Bank in Norwich to pay tribute to the St. Vincent de Paul Place in Norwich as part of the 150th Anniversary Celebration of Putnam Bank. (l-r) Robert Halloran, Exe. Vice Pres./CFO, Putnam Bank, Thomas Borner, President /CEO, Putnam Bank, Ben Lathrop, Exe. Director, Norwich Chamber of Commerce, Jillian Corbin, Exe. Director, St. Vincent de Paul Place, Barbara Goloski, branch manager, Norwich Putnam Bank, Jonathan Demers, Head Teller, Norwich Putnam Bank.

On Dec. 6th Putnam Bank officials, staff and community leaders gathered at Putnam Bank in Norwich to pay tribute to the St. Vincent de Paul Place in Norwich as part of the 150th Anniversary Celebration of Putnam Bank. (l-r) Robert Halloran, Exe. Vice Pres./CFO, Putnam Bank, Thomas Borner, President /CEO, Putnam Bank, Ben Lathrop, Exe. Director, Norwich Chamber of Commerce, Jillian Corbin, Exe. Director, St. Vincent de Paul Place, Barbara Goloski, branch manager, Norwich Putnam Bank, Jonathan Demers, Head Teller, Norwich Putnam Bank.

As customers walk into the festively decorated lobby of the Putnam Bank in Norwich before the holidays, they wonder if they are in the right place and just what is going on!

The lobby is dressed out in seasonal cheer, and the bank is filled with Putnam professionals, town officials, community workers, and media. A table offers tasty breakfast pastries and warming beverages as part of the 150th Anniversary Celebration of Putnam Bank, bank officials, the community and the Norwich Chamber of Commerce members are on hand to pay tribute to the St. Vincent de Paul Place of Norwich.

Lynn Bourque, Putnam Bank’s Senior Vice President and Branch Administrator, explains. “In celebration of our 150th Anniversary, each week of the year an employee of Putnam bank chooses a nonprofit agency to support through local contributions. This week Putnam bank is applauding St. Vincent de Paul Place of Norwich, which was founded in 1979.  The staff and local community members are collecting non-perishable food staples over the month of November to donate to the kitchen. This event is sponsored by The Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce.”

Putnam Bank was founded in 1862 and today has seven branch locations in addition to the main office in Putnam.
Two official presentations are made this December 6 morning.  One is by Ben Lathrop, Executive Director of the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce; he presents Thomas Borner, President and CEO of Putnam Bank, with a plaque commending Putnam Bank for its longevity, leadership, and commitment to people and businesses in the greater Norwich area.

Thomas then made a presentation of his own: three checks were awarded to Jillian Corbin, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul Place, along with the donations of collected canned goods for their food pantry. Jillian received more than she expected—a $1000 check that will pay for a clothes dryer for clients at St. Vincent de Paul Place;  $100 from the employees of Norwich Putnam Bank in lieu of exchanging gifts this year; and $750 that is a combination of $250 in celebration of December’s Open House event, plus a $500 donation from Thomas Borner and his wife, Kathy.
“I am overwhelmed!” exclaimed Jillian.  “Overwhelmed!”

Jillian relates, “We served over 82,000 hot meals this past year. Our Care and Advocacy programs include counseling, the use of laundry appliances and showers for our patrons.  We strive to motivate our clients to self-sufficiency and a better life.”

Eagle Home After Maintenance

The Coast Guard barque Eagle docked at Fort Trumbull after recent repairs.

The Coast Guard barque Eagle docked at Fort Trumbull after recent repairs. (Photo by Jon Persson)

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle departed Naval Submarine Base New London and returned to her home mooring at Fort Trumbull in New London, Thursday, December 20.

Eagle arrived at the base September 26 and began a three-month dockside maintenance availability period.  The $3.4 million dollar project included a complete renewal of the 132-foot mizzen-mast, an overhaul of the main steering station, significant structural refurbishments, and major berthing area modifications.

At Fort Trumbull, the Eagle crew will finish the ship’s required annual maintenance period and begin preparing for the spring and summer training deployments.  As part of the preparations, Eagle will undergo the bi-annual Command Assessment of Readiness and Training and Tailored Ships Training Availability inspections to ensure the ship is safe and the crew is properly trained for all operations.

Eagle worked closely with the Coast Guard yard and the Naval Submarine Base in preparation for this dockside availability.  After being away from homeport for more than 265 days during fiscal year 2012, Eagle was able to remain in Southeastern Connecticut and complete all required maintenance.  Eagle has moored at SUBASE for hurricane avoidance and mitigation in the past, but this is the first time in more than 20 years that the ship has completed a major maintenance period at the submarine base.

“Without the much-appreciated assistance from our friends at Groton, Eagle would have needed to return to the Coast Guard Yard facility in Baltimore this winter in order to complete this necessary maintenance,” said Capt. Raymond Pulver, Eagle’s commanding officer, “The Navy welcomed us with open arms and truly made us feel at home during our time in Groton.  Their support was integral to being able to care for our crew and let them spend a little more time at home with their families before getting back underway for the 2013 training deployments.  We are genuinely grateful for their cooperation in making life on Eagle a little bit more comfortable for the crew this year.”

At 295 feet in length, the Eagle, known as “America’s Tall Ship,” is the largest tall ship flying the stars and stripes and the only active square-rigger in U.S. government service.  Constructed in 1936 by the Blohm and Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, and originally commissioned as the Horst Wessel by the German Navy, the Eagle was taken by the United States as a war reparation following World War II.

With more than 23,500 square feet of sail and six miles of rigging, the Eagle has served as a floating classroom to future Coast Guard officers since 1946, offering an at-sea leadership and professional development experience.  A permanent crew of six officers and 50 enlisted personnel maintain the ship and guide the trainees through an underway and in-port training schedule.

Ryan and Gladstone Lead Wireless Zone Stores to Success

by John Stratton

(l-r) Josh Carroll, sales associate, Wallingford location, Scott Gladstone, owner, Wireless Zone,  Matthew Schloemann, sales associate, Guilford location, Neil Ryan, owner, Wireless Zone, and James Stack, sales associate, New London location.

(l-r) Josh Carroll, sales associate, Wallingford location, Scott Gladstone, owner, Wireless Zone, Matthew Schloemann, sales associate, Guilford location, Neil Ryan, owner, Wireless Zone, and James Stack, sales associate, New London location.

We’ve all been living in the middle of a technological revolution for the past few decades, and for most of us that’s been a very good thing—except for the confusing onrush of new capabilities and “apps” for that powerful little cellphone that we carry. In fact, the phone is so powerful that we often can’t decide what, exactly, are the best choices for our own lives.
But there are those who are there to help us sort it all out.

For the two founders of Wireless Zone stores in eastern and southern ConnecticutNeil Ryan and Scott Gladstone—it’s definitely not a “one size fits all” business. For the past 20 years, they’ve built a reputation for both keeping abreast of technology for business-to-business service, as well as, providing up-front, face-to-face service to everyday cellphone users.  In fact, that service is what made them a success.

“Yes, the technology moves fast,” says Neil, “but Wireless Zone is there to make that technology available to real people to improve their real lives…by getting to know what those lives are all about.”

Scott adds that, “From Day One, we were very fortunate that we had a ‘customer-centric’ philosophy, building on referrals, involving ourselves in the community, and separating ourselves from our competitors.”

It was a lot of work, though, and involved a commitment to an opportunity that they jumped at in 1992, when Scott called Neil and said that they could collaborate in a then-emerging business. The two had been friends since freshman orientation at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. Both were business majors; after graduation, Scott became involved in the car phone business… and he saw prospects for exciting growth. Neil plunged right in, and they both moved to southeastern Connecticut, with few contacts here other than a strong faith in the lifestyles of the communities around them—and in the Wireless Zone concept, which was part of the burgeoning Verizon system. They opened their first Wireless Zone in Groton, and now have ten stores with skilled, people-oriented personnel.

In those earliest days, Wireless Zone stores were about “car phones,” those gee-whiz features in the cars of traveling industrial representatives and busy business people whose office was effectively within their vehicle. Today, cell phones are everywhere, on every belt and in every handbag.

It’s hard to live without them, since they’ve grown far beyond voice communication into powerful computers with links to the Internet and hundreds of thousands of functions available. “It’s a remote control to the world,” Neil observes. As that “remote” increases in flexibility, though, understanding it becomes crucial.

“My view,” said Scott, “is that we are not a ‘box-store’ experience, selling a device and then charging you to set it up. We spend a lot of time to be sure that our team members know how to transfer data, emails, and applications for customers, so that the customer is confident in the phone’s use and potential.  And we are there at no charge if they have questions or are looking for suggestions.”

Neil cites a contractor who came in recently, wanting a new phone. “We were able to show him how a new application can scan a room and help to provide working drawings, measure studs, locate key structures. We do it all: set up, load, train, transfer data, handle everything in the transition. What’s cool is that we can save them money, too!”

Celebrating 20 Years of Wireless Zone Communications: On the 20th Anniversary guest list were Amara Alpert and Kitty Stalsburg, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding; Nancy and Bob Gentes, Madonna Place; Denise & Jeffrey Hawk, Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut; Bill Stanley and Karen Buck, L+M Hospital; Shawn Maynard, Thomas Birkenholz, and Kathy Gaito, Windham Hospital; Denise and Bob Hornbecker, Channel 3 Kids Camp; Make-a-Wish Foundation; Kathy and Lou Allen, Thames River Community Services; Jerry Fischer and Marcia Reinhard, Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut; and Lucy and Gerry Fortier, Brattleboro Area Drop In.

Celebrating 20 Years of Wireless Zone Communications: On the 20th Anniversary guest list were Amara Alpert and Kitty Stalsburg, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding; Nancy and Bob Gentes, Madonna Place; Denise & Jeffrey Hawk, Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut; Bill Stanley and Karen Buck, L+M Hospital; Shawn Maynard, Thomas Birkenholz, and Kathy Gaito, Windham Hospital; Denise and Bob Hornbecker, Channel 3 Kids Camp; Make-a-Wish Foundation; Kathy and Lou Allen, Thames River Community Services; Jerry Fischer and Marcia Reinhard, Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut; and Lucy and Gerry Fortier, Brattleboro Area Drop In.

“With our customers,” Neil adds, “it’s an interview process, to give them a better mobile experience and help them grow into its possibilities. We do tons of education; it’s free; it’s enjoyable; it comes to us naturally.”

They are continuing to seek expansion beyond their present stores in Groton, New London, Killingly, Branford, Guilford, Wallingford, North Windham, Putnam, Tolland…and Brattleboro, Vermont.  But a key is the staff, Scott asserts. “We keep our ears to the ground to find good people who are available,” he says, “so we can train, educate, and instill them with our customer-oriented values.”

The future of mobile computing and cellphones is ever-changing, said Neil, but he sees rapid increases in “machine-to-machine” connections that will keep homeowners in closer control of their home devices of all kinds; likewise, he sees ever more expansion of cellphones as means to manage home and personal finances.

Wireless Zone is very involved in community support with at least 50 organizations, notably the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, Waterford Country School, Madonna Place, and Thames Valley Community Services. The nonprofit donations can range from $1,000 to $30,000.

Neil, originally from Port Jefferson, Long Island lives in Stonington with his 10-year old son, Jack; and Scott is a Waterford resident with his wife, Simone, and children Shayna, 8, and Travis, 11.

“We’re fortunate, Scott reflects, “that the community was so receptive, and we want to always exceed people’s expectations for us.”

Maynard Readies to Tackle Big Issues in New Session

Senator Maynard joins colleagues in House and Senate in welcoming the start of the 2013 Legislative Session.

Senator Maynard joins colleagues in House and Senate in welcoming the start of the 2013 Legislative Session.

State Senator Andrew Maynard (D-Stonington) took part yesterday in the opening of the Connecticut General Assembly’s 2013 Legislative Session at the State Capitol.

He and his colleagues in the Senate were sworn in before joining members of the House for a Joint Session during which Governor Malloy gave his “State of the State” address. Senator Maynard praised the Governor’s emphasis on job creation and economic development.

“Every session we must make it our priority to protect small business and act as a catalyst for growth,” said Senator Maynard. “The initiatives we have undertaken in the last two legislative sessions have helped businesses create at least 35 jobs and retain more than 60 in the 18th Senatorial District alone. This is proof positive that state investment in small businesses can spark growth.”

The Governor began his speech by addressing the recent school shooting in Newtown, and Senator Maynard agreed that gun violence and mental health issues would be chief priorities for legislators in the new session.

“We were all sobered by the events which took place in Newtown, and I am committed to doing what is necessary to ensure that our communities are safer,” said Senator Maynard. “This is not a partisan issue, and I look forward to working across the aisle with both parties joining in this great effort.”

Overall, Senator Maynard said he had great hope for the next session. “We will be very busy this year. I am very much looking forward to addressing gun violence and mental health issues, helping to get Connecticut’s economy back on the right track, and working across the aisle to find common sense solutions to the problems we face. I am thrilled to be back and I am ready to work.”

Chef Irvine Serves It Up at Garde

story & photo
by Jon Persson

Chef Robert Irvine of Restaurant: Impossible moments before taking the stage for his December 29th presentation of culinary skills at New London’s Garde Arts Center.

Chef Robert Irvine of Restaurant: Impossible moments before taking the stage for his December 29th presentation of culinary skills at New London’s Garde Arts Center.

On a snowy night in December, Chef Robert Irvine holds court with a VIP contingent at New London’s Garde Arts Center. From the lobby below the flash of cameras can be seen lighting up the souvenir photos of those who have the good fortune of a special moment with the popular chef. At eight o’clock Chef Irvine will appear on the main stage of the Garde to prepare a meal using ingredients suggested by the audience, in a live showing of his various books and television programs.

But before the show begins, Chef Irvine is scheduled to answer questions for an exclusive interview, well beyond the stage door and deep in the inner workings of the Garde at Chef Irvine’s austere dressing room.

Chef Robert Irvine is perhaps best known for his “Restaurant: Impossible” program on the Food Network. The premise is to bring his staff into a struggling restaurant, upgrade the facility, improve the menu, re-train the staff, and promote the business, all on a budget of $10,000 plus the input of know-how, creativity, wise spending, and energy.

Energy is indeed the first word one uses to describe Chef Irvine. As he bounds out of his dressing room into the narrow hallway, he enthusiastically shakes hands and offers a pleasantry in his understated British accent. What can one do for well-run restaurants in a poor economy?

“The economy is only a small part of it,” replies Chef Irvine emphatically. “People are still eating out,” he continues, “perhaps not four times, but two-and-a half times a week. Restauranteurs need to know their business and their surroundings, they need to draw people in by providing something that no one else can.”

“People are better informed than ever, and they will pay more for quality and freshness,”  Chef Irvine explains, “everyone wants to say it’s the economy but really it’s just bad management and not understanding their place in the market.” With well-delivered quality, he insists, a restaurant can do well: “I’ve seen it time and time again,” says the Chef.

Hartford Stage’s 15th Anniversary of A Christmas Carol Features Students from the Hartt School

Bill Raymond, center, plays Scrooge in Hartford Stage's 'A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas,' by Charles Dickens. This is the 12th time Raymond has played the miser, who, ultimately, has a change of heart.

Bill Raymond, center, plays Scrooge in Hartford Stage’s ‘A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas,’ by Charles Dickens. This is the 12th time Raymond has played the miser, who, ultimately, has a change of heart.

Hartford Stage’s 15th Anniversary of A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas, by Charles Dickens, adapted and originally directed by Michael Wilson, directed by Maxwell Williams, will feature 12 performers from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford.

The Hartt School student cast members for A Christmas Carol include Caitlin Blauvelt actor training major from Hillsborough, NJ; Josh Boscarino actor training major from Ellington, CT; Dakota Dutcher musical theatre major from Carson City, NV; Kelsey Flynn musical theatre major from Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Sarah Kozlowski musical theatre major from Coventry, CT; Lars Lee musical theatre major from Minneapolis, MN; William Macke musical theatre major from Simsbury, CT; Andrew McMath musical theatre major from Scituate, MA; Seth Peterson actor training major from South Bristol, ME; Matthew Reddick actor training major from Saratoga Springs, NY; Tara Reuter English literature and actor training major from Fairfield, CT; and Hannah Spacone musical theatre major from Providence, RI.

Through Hartford Stage’s Partnership in Training with the Hartt School, Hartford Stage is recognized by Actor’s Equity Association as an Academic Theatre, and is one of only two professional theatres in such a partnership with a BFA program.  It is a unique collaboration, where students gain valuable knowledge from workshops, master classes, and the Career Preparation class taught by Hartford Stage staff, as well as experience on stage in A Christmas Carol andother Hartford Stage performances.

Director Maxwell Williams said, “We’re very excited about our unique Partnership in Training with the Hartt School. I’m personally very proud to be a graduate, and it seems like the training and the program grows stronger and stronger each year. With A Christmas Carol as the centerpiece, we’ve now also had Actor Training and Music Theater students perform in many of our major productions, from Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams to To Kill a Mockingbird. Hartt grads are now regularly being nominated for Tonys, Obies, you name it – and we’re thrilled to continue to deepen the relationship between our institutions.”

Hartford Stage brings the magic of Dickens’ heart-warming classic to life in this Connecticut holiday tradition! The tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the heartless miser who discovers the true meaning of the holiday season after a Christmas Eve haunting, features all of Charles Dickens’ beloved characters: Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit and the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Ghosts take flight and soar across the stage, carols are sung and snow falls capturing the spirit of a Victorian Christmas forever warming the hearts of adults and children alike.

The production runs November 23 to December 29. Evening performances are weeknights and weekends at 7:30 p.m. Matinee performances are Sundays and selected weekdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m. For specific schedule of performances or to buy tickets for A Christmas Carol, call the Hartford Stage box office at860-527-5151 or visit www.hartfordstage.org.