story and photos
by James Brady
Ok folks… so let me set the scene…Picture a small hometown school over a river and train tracks, up a winding road on a side hill and you may well be at the Sayles School, Baltic CT, USA. On October 24, 2014 you would find children enjoying lunch as they would any other day…until 7th grade students Amber Discolo and Madison Gifford alerted lunch monitor Samantha Ross, a student achievement specialist, that a fellow student was choking. Ross immediately sprang into action, applying abdominal thrusts to student Tommy Smith, who was choking on his lunch.
While Ross instinctively assisted the choking student, another monitor alerted School Nurse Patrice Houle, who ran to the cafeteria. “I thank God for my other ears and eyes throughout the school,” said Patrice who has been the school nurse for more than 10 years. The District has made available funds for CPR training that more than 30 of the 70 faculty have benefited from. As a result, they are prepared. Sayles School prinicipal Jeanne Wierzbinski, noted that this is the second time since 2011 that a faculty member has assisted a choking student.
Baltic Fire Engine Company #1 member Donna Sanford and Fire Chief Les Shull appeared for today’s awards ceremony in their dress uniforms. Sanford according to the Chief is responsible for the ceremony recognizing Samantha Ross, Amber Discolo, and Madison Gifford for their selfless acts resulting in the saving of Tommy Smith’s life…Tommy told us all so fittingly, “Ms. Ross saved my day!”
by Christopher Annino
In the sport of Body building the athletes are chiselled titans carved out of the very Old School Iron no nonsense gyms that they are from. It takes dedication, discipline and drive of someone who super human to compete. But the strongest athlete in the world can always be at the mercy of what life will throw at them. Nationally ranked NPC Physique competitor Nikki Lee was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago.
Nikki Lee originally lived in Mystic but moved to New Hampshire at a young age. There she obtained an interest in athletics. Always being outgoing, Nikki was the first female amateur wrestler in the state of New Hampshire. Wonder Woman is one of Nikki’s hero’s growing up embodied Empowered. Nikki then trained to be a pro wrestler by Pro Wrestling Legend Ox Baker. Nikki was a success on the Indy Pro Wrestling circuit. However, Nikki decided to focus on earning a college degree and raising her children.
Despite her busy schedule as a trainer and founder of “Empowered” Nikki took time to help those in need. Nikki volunteers her time at venue’s to teach proper nutrition, she is also heavily involved as a youth coach. As a result of her service in the community Nikki was the 2014 recipient of the Connie Durfee memorial Award. Nikki has gained many friends over the years because of her kindheartedness. Therefore, when her diagnoses was made public, local celebrities such as Diana Lozowski, WWE Legend John Callahan, Roxanne Mathena, Walter Bad News Swan, Jeff Wade, Richard Cyr, Dawn Whitham, Kevin Hogan and Janet Peckinpaugh got together to help her financially. A community awards variety show was established through the CT Hall of Honor and it was hosted by The Resident Newspaper but held at the Mystic VFW. The money raised helped Nikki financially during her treatments. Nikki is now cancer free, and to show her appreciation to her hometown. Nikki Lee is stepping back into the ring for a Pro Wrestling Event and variety show to help benefit two local military veterans at the Mystic VFW. Nikki will be tagging with U.S. Champion Rescue 911 and together they have formed Tag Team “911” and they will be going against “The Outlaws” for the VPW Tag Title “when I found out these two veterans were in need I felt obligated to get back in the ring to help them. I was told once by New London strongman Joseph Mugovero “everyone has strength, but what makes you strong is when you use it for good” and I want to help these two war hero’s. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart Alexis Ann from The Resident Newspaper and The Mystic VFW for hosting my fundraiser. You helped me when the odds were against me and empowered me to beat cancer,” said Nikki Lee.
story and photos
by Josie Kapral
The holiday spirit was alive and well as Bruce Morrow, General Manager of Valenti Subaru and PAWS New England teamed up to give some furry friends a chance at finding a “FURever home” in time for the holidays. Most people who know Bruce also know his dog, Dakota, who also made an appearance at the adoption event held on November 22nd. Dakota was there to see that some of his fellow dogs and even a few kittens and bunnies would find their way to a new home.
“I tried to host this event before, but it just never worked out with the timing”, said Bruce as he sat with Dakota,” I am happy to help them out”.
Tammy Loughlin, the Westerly Animal Shelter Manager, and a team of wonderful and generous volunteers and foster families came to see the animals were cared for while several people strolled in and out of the dealership greeting the animals and playing with them. PAWS brought along a few of their star pets in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. There was really a pet for everyone. All the animals were well behaved and greeted their potential new owners with a wag of their tails.
Julie Hocking came with her foster dog, Chip described as a “huggable, lovable, snuggle bear”. Although, not quite the size of a bear, his ten pound frame held just as much love as an animal just as big. Chip, the 1 year old Chihuahua mix has been living with Julie and is ready to find a new home. When asked if she would miss him once he is adopted, Julie replied, “I will. But I will also be very happy for Chip. And that also means that I can foster another dog which is a good thing.”
If you were interested in a younger dog, Macy, an 18 week old female Shepard Mix, was also available and came ready with her “Adopt Me” bandana.
Younger dogs and puppies not your thing? Fozzie, a 5 year old Rottweiler, was also there. Fozzie was very gentle and mild mannered and sat at the feet of his handlers patiently waiting for a new home.
If you aren’t a dog person, that’s not a problem. PAWS also brought along two really adorable 12 week old kittens who just loved to be held. There were a few rabbits available too!
One of the happiest moments of the day came when Diane Gilman and Mark Perino of Westerly came in to see the dogs. They found Curry, one of the most popular dogs of the day. Curry’s friendly demeanor loveable attitude were sure to win someone over and it turned out to be them!
Some people go to dealerships for a new car or an oil change, some come for a pet, and some visit the dealership for both!
Some of the dogs are still available for adoption and if you would like to visit with them, you can visit the PAWS New England website (www.pawsnewengland.com/adopt) or contact Tammy Loughlin at the Westerly Animal Shelter (401)584-7941. PAWS New England is comprised entirely of volunteers and 99 cents of every dollar donated goes to the care of animals like these. If you would like to volunteer or make a donation to a great organization, you can also contact them via the website mentioned above.
by Maya Jung
Three songs by the Carpenters – “We’ve only just begun”, “Close to you”, “Rainy days and Mondays”. Took a moment to come back from a trip down memory lane didn’t it? And therein lies the magic of the music created by sister and brother Karen and Richard Carpenter – it is timeless, forever touching, sealing moment in time and place to lyric and melody. Now for the greatest of news for Carpenters fans – Mohegan Sun has again come through with a major booking coup! Save the date of Friday, December 5th, get to the Wolf Den early, because at 8:00PM – The sound of the Carpenters lives again!
An act that has sold out in Las Vegas, New York, and everywhere else it has performed is “We’ve Only Just Begun: Carpenters Remembered”. It is the result of incredibly gifted musicians coming together in common love of two of the greats of the past and the music they created.
Front and center and the Star of the show is the immensely gifted solo vocalist Michelle Berting Brett. Blessed with the same rare three octave range voice as was Karen Carpenter, Michelle is wondrous to hear and enjoy. Her stage presence is mesmerizing, her rapport with the audience embracing, and her knowledge of and devotion to the creators of the songs she sings endearing.
Michelle voice is backed by a seven member assemblage of amazingly talented musicians! To play the incredibly complex compositions created by Richard Carpenter requires rare talent and mastery of diverse and thus seldom used elsewhere Instruments such as the French Horn and Oboe.
THE RESIDENT had a chance to speak with Michelle Berting Brett from her busy Tour schedule last week, she is charismatic and modest. “I am honored to be able to sing the songs that Karen and Richard created and sold over 100 million records of,” Michelle stated. “Every performance we do I see tears of joy and remembrance in the eyes of the audience!” Michelle also paid tribute to her musicians, “Immensely gifted and the nicest of professionals to Tour with!” and her Husband Mark, “My Love, My Best Friend, My Producer!”
THE RESIDENT will be at The Wolf Den on December 5th! As do all of you, We LOVE the music of the Carpenters! See you there!
by Alexis Ann
Foxwoods Resort Casino rolled out the red carpet for the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut’s William Crawford Distinguished Service Award recipients from earlier years to this year’s honoree, Dr. Stephen M. Coan, President and CEO Sea Research Foundation, which operates Mystic Aquarium. The Chamber gives this award to an outstanding member of the community who exemplifies the spirit of service and who contributes to the quality of life in Eastern Connecticut.
Tony Sheridan, President and CEO, CCECT, states, “The Crawford Award has a long history of honoring those among us who have contributed a great deal to our region, and this year’s winner is no exception. Steve follows in the tradition of those who came before him.”
As an officer of Sea Research Foundation since 2001, Dr. Stephen Coan was appointed chief operating officer in 2004, and completed a radical restructuring of the organization’s financial platform, including reduction of $20-million in debt. He became president and CEO in 2006. Under his stewardship, the foundation boasts record-setting fundraising and took over the management of JASON Learning from National Geographic Society in 2010. In 2014, Mystic Aquarium was awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Service at the White House in recognition of its unique array of community and national programs serving at-risk youth and people with special needs.
The Boys and Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley presented the guest of honor with a handcrafted sign, “We Love Immersion mentoring”.
Chairman Rodney Butler, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, recalled that the Tribe’s work with the Aquarium dates back to the 1990’s. “I’m grateful for the people you’re touching,” announced Rodney. A story blanket and wampum necklace were gifted to Steve by two young Tribal members participating in the Jason Learn Program.
The common theme of all speakers who participated in honoring Steve during this gala was that of accomplishing the mission with his tireless efforts for conservation and marine research. “He’s got a mission and a vision…He’s an educator and visionary who gets things done,” said George Milne,Trustee, Mystic Aquarium.
Exclusive to THE RESIDENT is a reporting by evening security staff at the Mystic Aquarium that at the exact moment that Dr. Coen received the Crawford Award the following occurred – Belugas sent up salutatory spouts, Penguins danced, Seals applauded with their flippers, and fishes formed up to spell out “Proud of You, Doc!” Nature knows all THE GOOD NEWS as does THE RESIDENT!
by Maya Jung
Born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, since age 5 he has been in Stonington. A product of Stonington Public Schools, he served those schools for decades after graduating. He excelled on the playing fields and later made sports possible for those that followed him. He first drove the streets of Stonington as a teenager; as a Police Officer he protected those streets for 35 years. Jerry Desmond is the personification of Stonington Strong.
Born the middle child of James and Phyllis Desmond, Jerry attributes his work ethic, drive, and demeanor to his late parents. “Dad worked at EB and Mom at various dining spots. They gave my brother Walter, sister Patty, and I a great childhood. More so, they modeled that each has an obligation to help others and to give whatever we were doing our full and complete effort,” Desmond recalled. This gave Jerry the drive to be the first in his family to go to college.
An Education Major at SCSU, Jerry graduated when teaching jobs were scarce. “I was worried,” Desmond said. “I had worked so hard to earn my degree and it seemed I would not be able to use it.” Fate intervened as one of Jerry’s boyhood heroes, Stonington Police Officer Dave Erskine.
Erskine, who went on to be Chief of the Stonington Police, encouraged Desmond to apply as a patrol officer. Jerry also applied as assistant football coach at his alma mater as well as Head Girl Gymnastics Coach for the same beloved Bears. In 1980 Desmond became a Police Officer and Coach and stayed for over 35 years.
“Working with youth has been the most rewarding part of my career as both a Coach and Police Officer. To see kids grow from boys and girls into solid citizens and to be a part of that process is a gift to my life,” said Desmond. Coaching saw Desmond mold citizens and produce champions. A high point was the 1991 SHS State Championship Football Team.
“A wonderful group of young men,” Desmond stated. “They and my friend Coach Bob Mitchell gave me a season of a lifetime!”
A small town police department requires a myriad of responsibilities and expertise. With the encouragement of Chief Carl Johnson and Captain Charles Lopresto, Jerry attended every training program his schedule allowed. Desmond graduated from the FBI Training Academy and received a Masters Degree in Homeland Security from UCONN.
Days ago, Jerry Desmond retired. He began a new career and has more time to enjoy the best things in life. These are his beloved wife Jacquelyn, Nurse and co-owner of Babies Natural in Westerly, R.I., children Kyle and Katie and spouses, and grandchildren Landon and Charlotte. Arriving in December is new Granddaughter Cecile who will be adopted after a family trip to China!
THE RESIDENT salutes Captain Desmond. Jerry Desmond – Stonington Strong!
18th Annual Holiday Stroll and Luminaria
The 18th Annual Holiday Stroll and Luminaria will be held on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 in downtown Westerly-Pawcatuck from 5:00-9:00 PM. This annual holiday event is sponsored by the Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Business Association.
The Annual Holiday Stroll is a wonderful evening full of hospitality, friendship and community spirit. Bundle up and start your holiday shopping by supporting the wonderful shops, boutiques, and art galleries in Downtown Westerly. The streets will be lined with beautiful luminaria and caroling groups will fill the air with holiday music. Come have dinner at your favorite restaurant before strolling through the Downtown area. Go on a horse-drawn hayride or stop for complementary hot chocolate and cookies and keep an eye out for Santa Claus, he will be roaming the streets to greet you and spread holiday cheer!
Come to Downtown Westerly and ENJOY your Holiday shopping this year!
For any questions, please contact The Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce at 401-596-7761 or visit our website at www.westerlychamber.org.
Santa’s Arrrival November 28th 6pm
December 3rd Holiday Stroll & Luminaria 5-9 pm
January 9th: SECT 40 Under 40 Foxwoods 6pm
Irving Berlin’s ‘Holiday Inn’
Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, 2:00 pm
The Goodspeed Opera House,
6 Main St., East Haddam, CT , 06423
Connecticut inn open for business only on holidays, overflows with dance, romance and Irving Berlin songs; through Dec. 28;
tickets start at $28, all prices subject to change based on availability; .860.873.8668.
New England Traditional Sleigh Rides at Allegra Farms
P.O. Box 455
East Haddam, CT 06423
There is nothing so enchanting as the sound of sleigh bells and the whisper of runners on fresh snow! Have a “Courrier and Ives” experience as you bundle up in your lap robes and hand muffs, and let the sleigh take you from this bustling century to a more tranquil time. Bring your own refreshments to warm your body and spirit.
Essex Steam Train Polar Express
Address: Essex Steam Train 1 Railroad Ave. Essex, 06426
Date(s): November 14, 2014 — December 28, 2014
Time(s): Departures: 5 pm, 5:35 pm, 7 pm, 7:35 pm
Description: Board the locomotive-powered sleigh for a magical nighttime journey to the North Pole. Every coach becomes a stage for a live, musical performance of The Night Before Christmas. Celebrate the spirit of the season with Santa and Mrs. Claus, sing-a-longs, hot chocolate and sugar cookies.
Traditional event highlights include a trip to the North Pole to pick up Santa and Mrs. Claus, trackside displays, and each child meets with Santa and receives a small gift. Children are invited to wear their favorite pajamas.
Train runs: November 14-16, 20-23, 28-30, December 2-23, 26-28.
Admission: Parlor Car tickets: $63, Coach $30.
Groton Lights Parade:
Saturday, December 6 at 5pm and will be a fantastic kick-off to this year’s holiday season. March from Poquonnock Road at South Road, along Long Hill Road to the Groton Shopping Plaza.
Night Before Christmas Storytime
Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, 11:00 am
Henry Whitfield State Museum, 248 Old Whitfield Street, Guilford, CT , 06437
Join us for hourly readings of the classic holiday tale in front of the Great Hall fireplace, plus discounts on children’s books, toys, and games in the gift shop. Admission includes self-guided tours of the 1639 Whitfield House and the exhibit “Holidaze: The Real Story of Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas.” Free parking.
Ledyard Parade & Carol Sing
November 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm
Parade starts at Ledyard Center School
Come see Santa, enjoy FREE hot cocoa and cookies! Gather around the bon-fire while singing Holiday Carols!
DEC. 4 – Ladies Day & Night Out!
Love Your Locals and Shop, Shop, Shop! @ Madison shops & restaurants 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Stop by at participating stores and receive your bracelet. Stores and restaurants will be offering specials on Dec. 4th, Dec. 11th and 18th! Most stores will be open until 9pm. Make a date with friends and head downtown for great shopping and a tasty meal!
Santa Visits, Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting
When: December 7, 2014 @ 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Contact: Eileen Banisch 203.245.7394
Mystic Lighted Boat Parade
Mystic River Park
November 29, 2014 starting at 6:20 pm
Decorated vessels parade down Mystic River and return to the Mystic River Park, where spectators and judges gather. Boats are judged on creativity and team spirit.
Celebration of Lights & Song
Downtown New London
Saturday 29 November 2014, 04:00 pm
Shop local for a unique gift and experience. Visit with Santa at Nathan Hale School House 3-5 pm. Holiday tree lighting and community carol sing at 5 pm.
Eastern CT Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
Garde Arts Center
325 State St., New London, CT , 06320
Performances at 1:30 and 7 pm Saturday and 1:30 pm Sunday. Eastern CT Ballet presents its 13th annual Nutcracker at the Garde Arts Center in New London. In this classic holiday tale with a seafaring twist, New York City Ballet dancers Sara Mearns and Jared Angle will delight audiences alongside over 100 pre-professional ECB students from local communities. With musical accompaniment by the Eastern CT Symphony Orchestra, dancers showcase a fantasy world where toys and treats come to life, flowers can waltz and holiday memories are made.
Tickets are available through the box office at 860.444.7373 x1.
Niantic Main Street Stroll 11/29, 3-7 pm
Niantic, Conn. Niantic Main Street
Niantic’s downtown revitalization organization is ready to spread holiday cheer throughout Niantic with their 11th Annual Holiday Stroll. The event will be held on Saturday, November 29, from 3 to 7 pm and is free and open to the public.
Planned entertainment and activities include horse-drawn carriage rides, a donut eating contest by Giuliano’s Donut & Bake Shop, carols by the Connecticut Yuletide Carolers, a s’mores station, characters from the Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” complimentary hot cider and cocoa, “Holiday Idol” on the Liberty Green, a snowflake drop and the arrival of Santa on a shiny red fire truck at the town green at approximately 5:20 pm, immediately after the annual tree lighting ceremony.
Niantic Holiday Stroll Schedule:
3-7 pm Store & restaurant specials
3-7 pm Complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides
3-7 pm DJ Chris Turkington on Liberty Green
3-7 pm Heritage Properties’ Toys for Tots Drive on Liberty Green
3-7 pm Children’s arts & crafts at the Police Department with East Lyme Youth Services
3-4:30 pm S’more station at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties
3-4:30 pm Letter writing to Santa at Children’s Museum of SECT
3-4:30 pm Holiday Idol performance on the Liberty Green
3-5 pm April’s Balloon Creations at Weichert Realtors
4-4:30 pm Giuliano’s Donut&Bake Shop’s Donut Eating Contest
4-7 pm The Connecticut Yuletide Carolers stroll Main Street
5:10 pm Countdown to the tree lighting
5:15 pm Snowflake Drop
5:20 pm Arrival of Santa
5:30 pm Visits with Santa and letter delivery
6-8 pm Heartbeat Dixieland Jazz Band plays at Smarty’s
Children can bring their yearly letters and wish lists to Santa for bringing back to the North Pole, or they can stop in to the Children’s Museum to craft their letter. Visits with Santa are free; parents are encouraged to bring a camera to capture the moment.
For more information and a list of participating shops and restaurants, visit www.nianticmainstreet.org or call 860-739-2550.