“Hands Up for Vets” Annual Fund Raiser
Saturday, September 16, 2017
6:30pm to 11pm
Groton Long Point Casino, Clark Hall, 46 Beach Road, Groton, CT
Saturday, September 16, 2017
6:30pm to 11pm
Groton Long Point Casino, Clark Hall, 46 Beach Road, Groton, CT
Mystic Rod & Gun Club will hold a Sportsman’s Swap Meet on September 16th,
9 A.M. – 2 P.M. at 44 Gun Club Road, Route 201, Stonington, CT 06378
For details or reserve a table, call 860-536-6640
First Recipient of MPTN Lifetime Achievement Award Is Richard “Skip” Hayward:
A Missing Piece of the Puzzle Was On the Sidelines
Foxwoods Resort Casino’s 25th Anniversary Tribal Council Gala was a lavishly joyous occasion held in the Premier Ballroom, Fox Tower on August 19. Tribal members, community leaders, Foxwoods team members and executives from past and present with patrons all gathered to celebrate and honor friendship, loyalty and patronage over the past 25 years.
Spirits were high! Upon entering the elaborately decorated ballroom, you couldn’t help but catch the flow of positive energy. Friends from the past and present swarming around Richard “Skip” Hayward offering thanks for his dynamic leadership, bold vision and dedicated service to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (MPTN). Lots of handshaking and hugging was going on. It was a ‘feel good’ party.
Yes, for many years, Skip was the missing piece of the puzzle, or as one would say, “he was on hiatus” from events like this at the ever so successful gaming/entertainment empire that he built. But, according to him, “I was on the sidelines.” Elected as chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe in 1975, Skip’s vision for community development helped pave the way for establishing the first tribal housing authority in the State of Connecticut in 1977. He built the first on-reservation housing development with a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
He began the Tribe’s Sugar Shack maple syrup operation still thriving to this day, and several other business ideas to secure the Tribe’s economic stability. Upon winning the Tribe’s Federal Recognition in 1983, Chairman Hayward championed the construction of the Mashantucket Pequot High Stakes Bingo Hall, which opened in 1986.
Following Bingo, Skip secured a $60M investment from a Malaysian billionaire and the rest is history—the first Native American casino was built—Foxwoods Resort Casino. Throughout much of the nineties, Foxwoods remained the largest and most profitable casino in the western hemisphere. Twenty-five years later, it is one of North America’s largest and the “Wonder of the Connecticut Woods.”
To date, MPTN has contributed over $4 billion to the State of Connecticut through a first-of-its-kind slot revenue sharing agreement, which became an example for similar agreements nationwide.
Each year, the tribe invests approximately $100M in local vendor contracts, helping to strengthen small businesses throughout the region. Additionally, the tribe provided millions to charities and social service organizations throughout the local area since 1992. And, it all began with Skip!
As Felix Rappaport, President & Chief Executive Officer, Foxwoods Resort Casino, stated during a press conference held prior to the gala, “Foxwoods was the first tribal casino and this pioneering effort led to a nation-wide tribal gaming movement which now includes more than 400 gaming enterprises coast-to-coast operated by over 200 tribes. And now the tribal gaming industry represents $31B in revenue plus all of the hundreds of thousands of jobs and ways that it contributes to communities all over the country.”
Before introducing Governor Malloy at the press conference, Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler expressed gratitude for MPTN’s partnership with the State of Connecticut and the 10,000 jobs produced by Foxwoods and MPTN. “It’s a winning bet for everyone,” remarked Chairman Rodney.
Governor Malloy began his speech with some humor asking the young Chairman Rodney, “How old were you 25-years ago?” Then, he expressed the importance for him personally that, “The State of Connecticut develop a peer relationship with the Tribe.” “I have so much respect for the casino, the governing nation, and employees.”
He said that he was most proud to forge a new relationship with both tribes allowing them to build a casino off reservation which will position us to be competitive with other casinos. “This is very much about jobs.”
Representing an incredible friendship at the federal level, Chairman Rodney introduced Congressman Joe Courtney. Congressman Joe praised Rodney’s leadership ability and for being voted Tribal Leader of the Year on a national level—“It’s evident the quality of leadership that Rodney brings both here, in Washington D.C., and in our community.” Joe stated, “It’s been an incredible journey since 1992 and it’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years. Rodney just confessed to me that he was a 15-year old student playing football at Montville High.”
The Congressman shared some history–In 1990, the Cold War was coming to end and here, Electric Boat had 30,000 employees. By 1992, they had shed about half of those bringing the number to 16,000 and by the end of the 90s the count was down to 8,000. “It was a critical time for this region.” And, there is no one who knows this better than Skip Hayward, having been a pipefitter at EB. “We should salute and thank him for his amazing leadership, vision and diligence….” “The footprint that he’s created in this region is definitely worthy of this honor.”
“You were here before Connecticut was a State. Whatever matter that Rodney and the governor have been working through, the fact of the matter is that you’re going to be here—you’re not going anywhere. You’re going to be a big part of the footprint for another 25 years!”
Skip reminded the audience that this is the 350th Anniversary of Mashantucket. “We’re proud of our history and proud that we were able to survive. There were good people even back then and they allowed us to survive because without them we wouldn’t have survived either. Every time we failed we learned from it. We did what my grandmother wanted us to do—Hold on to the land.”
story & photos by Alexis Ann
The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce rolled out the red carpet on June 21 for honorees, Paul Donahue, Citizen of the Year and Joe Cugini, Key Award recipient at its annual membership banquet. Venice Restaurant was the perfect venue to host this extraordinary event on a gorgeous first day of summer.
The cocktail reception featured live music by The Westminister Youth String Ensemble outside on the terrace where all enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres to complement one’s favorite libation. The evening was a #10 weather-wise. The gentle whispering of cool breezes off the near-by mighty Atlantic was a welcomed addition. Inside the lounge area, people bustled about the silent auction making sure to keep an eye on their coveted items donated by an array of local businesses.
This event, a favorite ‘sell-out’ for the Chamber every year, acts as an official preamble to summer especially for our ‘snow birds’ just returning from sunnier states. For our seasonal business owners, it’s a time to renew acquaintances and discuss predictions for an upcoming bountiful summer season. You can feel the excitement in the air and the roar of laughter increases as the bartenders become more and more popular!
Soon, the crowd of 230 is guided upstairs via stairway and elevator to the Renaissance Ballroom. The round tables of ten are linened and decorated with fresh flower centerpieces. Lisa’s team, Ocean Chamber staff Erica Agnello, Administrative Assistant, Lou Martocchio, Events Manager, Maria DiMaggio, Membership & Operations Director, and Angie Smith, Board Member and Great Escape Auction chair person, have this event organized to the max. Our choices were chicken or salmon as indicated on our name cards.
Everyone is seated and Bruce Morrow, general manager of Valenti Subaru and Chairman of the Chamber’s Board, welcomes all and introduces Eddie Morrone, emcee. After the introduction of current board members and recognition of those completing service, installation of new board members, including Kerin DaCruz, L&M Hospital, Jim Traskos, Traskos Manufacturing Co., Alexis Ann, The Resident, and John Allen, Ivory Ella; and new executive board members, including Bruce, as chairman, Beth Frenette, Washington Trust Co., First Vice Chair, Jen Brinton, Grew Sail Brewing of Rhode Island, Grey Sail Tap Room, Second Vice Chair, Mike Benevides, Benevides & Turano, LLC, CPA’s & Business Advisors, Treasurer, Maria Allen, Bella Vita, Secretary, and Angela Thoman, Paddy Beach Club, Past Chairwoman, are called to the front of the room for a photo op.
The effervescent Lisa Konicki, Chamber president for the past 20 years, officiates the year-end report and the pro auctioneer extraordinaire Dan Stanavage begins and we all remember another reason why we’re here—to raise monies for this worthwhile organization that acts as a catalyst for increased value to the Westerly-Pawcatuck and two-state region.
Key Award recipient Joe Cugini is announced. This award was established to honor those whose selfless actions have helped the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce achieve its mission. If you know Joe Cugini, you know that he is dedicated to serving the Chamber and this community. He served as president of the Westerly Community Credit Union for 40 years and began his chamber affiliation working on the Town of Westerly Tercentenary. Joe always takes great pride in supporting community programs. Behind the scenes he continues to be a source of advice and guidance to the Chamber and those who ask. He will serve on a committee with the Chamber to help plan events for the Town of Westerly’s 350th Anniversary in 2019.
Citizen of the Year 2017 is Paul Donahue, owner of Westerly Paints. If you know Paul, you know he’s an Olympian for giving to his community.
As spoken, “Paul is a true gentleman, a generous non-profit supporter and loyal community advocate. While exhibiting an incredible work ethic running a successful business, he stays engaged with the everyday challenges and opportunities faced by his beloved Town of Westerly.”
Paul champions our community image with contractors, customers, and national companies with whom he conducts business. “We cannot imagine a more humble citizen yet a more consistently engaged citizen than Paul Donahue. He is an incredible volunteer, but even more important, an extraordinary human being. The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce is deeply proud to honor Paul Donahue as its 2017 Citizen of the Year.
story & photos
by Alexis Ann
The Grand opening of the Connecticut Boxing Hall Of Fame’s new location in the Sky Casino at Mohegan Sun was celebrated June 26. An official ribbon-cutting starring leaders from both the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribal Nations participated in this jovial ceremony with John Laudati, President, CT Boxing Hall Of Fame (CBHOF), several board members and celebrity boxers including: Micky Ward, Marlon Starling, Gaspar Ortega, Dana Rosenblatt, Troy Wortham, Luigi Camputaro, Orlando Montalvo and Ray Oliveira. Up-and-coming professional Mykquan Williams also attended with his trainer, 2014 inductee Paul Cichon.
John Laudati welcomed all and thanked the Mohegan Sun for allowing boxing fans to be able to visit this beautiful facility whenever they are in the casino. “We at the CBHOF are extremely grateful to Mohegan Sun for hosting this great facility and for contributing generously to its construction.”
“We are very excited and anxious to have the ability to present the rich history of boxing in Connecticut while simultaneously honoring those who have contributed to that history.” President John gave special thanks to board members: Mohegan Sagamore Maynard Strickland, Mashantucket Pequot leader Kenny Reels, Don Trella, Mike Mazulli and Kim Barker for spearheading this magnanimous effort.
Mohegan Chairman Kevin Brown greeted the crowd and joked about increasing rental charge for the space in the casino. Kevin carried the gigantic pair of scissors to the center of the ribbon joining board members and boxers so anxious to snip the bright red ribbon.
The new CBHOF will be open to the public during Mohegan Sun Casino operating hours. In addition to the inductees’ plaques and videos of famous fights held in the Nutmeg State, the new location features rotating displays of historically significant boxin
g memorabilia. There will also be interactive displays for public use.
by Karen Koerner
Scouts from Mystic Boy Scout Troop 76 placed American Flags along downtown Mystic Streets, then in a ceremony at 7:45am June 14, raised the large, billowing American Flag at the Mystic Liberty Pole near the drawbridge to celebrate Flag Day.
Guided by Richard Dussault, Flag Captain for the Mystic Flag Committee, scouts also raised the Groton and Stonington flags on the pole’s yardarms. Members of Mystic’s VFW Post 3263 led the group of about 50 people in the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Nice job, boys,” called out a man in a blue GMC pickup truck, stopped at the Liberty Pole driving circle during the ceremony. The flag-raising is an annual event, when the Scouts, community members and members of the Mystic Flag Committee pause to honor the Stars and Stripes, which the Second Continental Congress adopted as the Flag of the United States on June 14, 1777.
One of those looking on was Mystic resident Michael Keenan, who carried with him information about his brother, Joseph Keenan, killed in Korea in 1953. Michael is working to revive his fallen brother’s nomination for a medal of honor. “Patriotism means a lot,” he said, explaining why he was there to see the flag ceremony.
A Wisconsin teacher first proposed celebrating the Flag Birthday in 1885. Other organizations began to observe the day, and President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Flag Day by resolution in 1916. President Harry Truman strengthened the date in 1949 when he signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.
Members of the Mystic Flag Committee met for a delicious breakfast at the S&P Oyster Co. following the ceremony. Bob Cushman, Vice President, led the meeting in the absence of John H. Kennedy, President. Bob thanked the scouts for their dedication. “They put up 110 flags along the streets of Mystic on every patriotic holiday,” he noted before presenting a donation to the troop to Rob Bunger, Assistant Scout Master.
“We appreciate the opportunity to do that every year for the community,” Rob responded.
Information about supporting the Mystic Liberty Pole is at www.mysticlibertypole.com.
story & photo
by Kelvin Ake
What a great honor for the United States Coast Guard Academy graduating class of 2017 as they received their diploma in commission at the 136th Commencement Ceremony held on Wednesday May 17 in New London.
Graduation ceremonies are always marked with great pomp and pageantry, but this year’s exercise was a bit more special. The cadets were excited not only to be celebrating the occasion with proud family members and important dignitaries but were especially thrilled to have the President and Commander-in-Chief Donald J. Trump as the commencement speaker.
In his welcome remarks, Rear Admiral James E. Rendon, Superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy, congratulated the graduates for successfully completing their program. “The mission for these graduates is complete.” he announced. “We are confident they will serve, lead and succeed.”
In his keynote address, President Trump congratulated the Class of 2017 for their accomplishments. “Every cadet graduating today, as your Commander-in-Chief, it is truly my honor to welcome you aboard. And you should take a moment to celebrate this incredible achievement.”
The President also highlighted the vital role of the Coast Guard in the nation’s security. “The Coast Guard is deployed in support of operations in theaters of conflict all around the world, but not only do they defend American security, they also protect American prosperity.”
“You’re the only federal presence upon our inland waterways. You pursue the terrorists, stop the drug smugglers and keep out all who would do harm to our country. Together we have the same mission, and your devotion and dedication makes me proud to be your Commander-in-Chief.” the President said.
Speaking on behalf of his peers, Cadet First Class Christopher Robert Popiel, this year’s distinguished graduate, thanked the guests for joining them to celebrate their achievement. “Our achievement assures us that the Coast Guard will be in good hands.” He noted with pride the courage demonstrated by the Class of 2017 in the face of difficult challenges. “Unity gave us courage to get through the storm.” he said.
Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, Commandant, United States Coast Guard, in his remarks called on the new officers to be leaders of character. “You’re going to be leaders in a world that has storms on many fronts. It’s going to require leaders with character to lead this great nation,” he reminded the young officers. “I have followed this class for four years. I know you’re going to do the best.”
John F. Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary had this ad
vice for the graduates. “Take care of your people. Train them, mentor them and defend them. If you do this,” he explained, “They will do anything you ask them to do. They’ll show up to work on time. They’ll put their lives at risk on the high seas interdicting drug, dealing with the most dangerous men on the planet, or they’ll jump out of a helicopter in the middle of the night in the raging seas to save somebody. All you have to do is lead them.”
President Trump’s speech was followed by the administering of the Oath of Office, presentation of degrees to the 195 graduating officers and the divestiture of cadet symbols, a befitting ending to a day they will long remember.
Congratulation grads! We wish you great success. We honor your devotion to duty and appreciate your service to our nation.
by Karen Koerner
A threat of rain didn’t dampen the spirits at the Sun BBQ Fest, held June 3 and 4 at the Mohegan Sun.
The scent of wood smoke and cooking meat wafted over the Festival while visitors enjoyed toe-tapping sounds of live music by bands like the Jay Dempsey Band, Will Evans and the 20Ride ZZ Top Tribute Band on Saturday. Sunday’s event was enlivened by the sounds of the Green Tea Band and Southern City Band.
Two kinds of people were in attendance. Some, like Ted Sherman, Carrie Reed, and her son, Nick, visited from Westerly RI simply to enjoy the experience. They started their day at the Sun BBQ Fest as students at the Weber Grilling Academy, learning the tips and tricks to cooking great pizza on a grill.
“This is our second year,” Carrie said. The family learns a skill at the Academy and practices at home.
After “graduation” from the grilling academy, the party could sample tasty treats from vendor and competitor tents, learn more tips from other grilling experts, enjoy music, drinks, and displays.
Then there were the more serious group of participants: The competitors who travel from all around the country to competitive events like this, vying for prizes, titles and acclaim for their smoking and grilling talents.
The Backyard Smokers didn’t travel far. They are based in New London and they are serious about their barbecue. “We won People’s Choice two years in a row,” said Matt Kern, a member of the Backyard Smokers crew. They will compete in four festivals like this in the coming year. The Sun BBQ Fest kicks off their competitive season.
Chris Herbbete owns the company, which caters and competes. “We believe in hard work and quality product. We like to bring the barbecue from our back yard to yours,” Chris said. Among this year’s winners in the Kansas City Barbeque Society Competition was local first place winner John’s Twisted Q based in.
The line of people waiting to sample and cast their votes in the People’s Choice Rib Challenge stretched far outside the tent but moved quickly. Dozens of competitors presented their best, and the lucky samplers were the real winners.
Myron Mixon, a four time World BBQ Champion, installed in the BBQ Hall of Fame, and called by his devotees, the “Winningest Man in BBQ,” held court in his tent, demonstrating how to prepare and cook a brisket that is juicy, flavorful, smoky and tender. A crowd extended from inside to outside the tent, and samples of his brisket proved his titles to be well deserved.
Fireworks ended the evening Saturday, but the entire Festival provided a sparkling beginning to the barbecue season.
by Karen Koerner
True to his word, Guy Fieri stopped in for a visit to his Guy Fieri’s Foxwoods Restaurant Kitchen and Bar June 1, to talk food, demonstrate how to unmold his famous “Trash Can Nachos,” and to visit with friends at Foxwoods Casino Restaurant.
First the food. As guests watched, Guy carefully finessed a mold from layers of nacho chips, cheese, onions, hot peppers and more, leaving a crispy, cheesy stack of nachos where every bite is delicious. He joked with Lena Sternburg, a nearby Food Instagrammer, that she had to eat it all. “I’ll be back in five minutes,” he said. “They’re really good!” Lena exclaimed.
Guy, famous for visiting down-to-earth eateries around the country in his popular show, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” was diplomatic when asked to recommend restaurants. “It’s impossible,” he said, but then got serious. “Go and look,” he said, advising the group around him to experiment with all types of restaurants and foods.
Conversation soon turned to one of Guy’s favorite topics: the Best Buddies program, which is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Guy Fieri’s Foxwoods Restaurant Kitchen and Bar employees Best Buddies to give these people with IDD a chance to be a productive part of society. For Guy, it’s a personal commitment.
“I had a cousin with an intellectual disability,” he explained. “I have first-hand understanding of how misunderstood people with intellectual disabilities are.” Guy supports the Best Buddies fundraising efforts and loves spreading the word about the charity. “When you work hand-in-hand with the Buddies you get to see their energy and sense their involvement,” he said.
Guy was in New England to participate in the Best Buddies Challenge weekend at Harvard Stadium in Massachusetts. During the June 2 kickoff of the event, Foxwoods presented a donation of $100,000 to the charity.
This is Guy’s first visit back to his restaurant since the ribbon cutting ceremony last fall. He took a quick tour with Felix Rappaport, President and CEO, Foxwoods Casino and Guy’s long-time friend, checking out the changes in the stylish eatery since he was last here.
Guy’s Foxwoods eatery features his famously big burgers, crab fondue, explosively-flavored entres, spectacular drinks and more. It’s everything you would expect from a visit to Flavortown.
October 29th at the U.S Navel Submarine Base New London in Groton CT.
With Ruffles and flourishes, cannon salutes, and a call by first Lady Michelle Obama to “man our ship and maker her dive. The traditional commissioning ceremony was held Oct. 29, 2016.
Michelle Obama sponsor of the USS Illinois, (SSN- 786) helped with the Commissioning.. “Bought the ship to life”. (photos by Seth Bendfeldt)