Current Issue – Sept 17-30, 2014

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All in for Special Olympics!

story & photos
by Josie Kapral


While the summer months had plenty of activities in the area, September did not disappoint. The Special Olympics of Connecticut held three different exciting events over the second weekend in September. Festivities began where any good party should start: Mohegan Sun.

Several people from the area repelled from the casino between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm, raising money for the Special Olympics. Each individual repelled 30 stories and were met at the bottom by Special Olympic athletes thanking them for their support and generosity. Many of Mohegan Sun’s own employees participated including: Kevin Brown, Chairman, Mohegan Tribe, Mark Brown, Tribal Councilor, Mohegan Sun, Jason Griffing, Johannes Vu, and Bobby Soper, President and CEO, Mohegan Sun.

J.L. Vancho, dressed as Wonder Woman, raised $2,000 in two days so that she could repel. “I told people that if I could raise this money in two days, then I would wear a costume for this.”

“That was sick!” exclaimed Brian Galek, as he landed and greeted his team members from Team Ices, a group supporting autism awareness.

The second event, held on Saturday and Sunday, was the sailing regatta at the Wad Club in Stonington. The athletes walked in a parade down Water Street lead by torch bearers, Kathleen Ledwidge and Caleb Cook. Joining the athletes and sponsors in the parade were Lynn Malerba, her husband, Paul, and Cal Buxton, Commodore, Wad Club. They held the opening ceremonies, and athlete Nicki Dubiago gave the Special Olympic oath. Then they were off and sailing!

The last event was a croquet competition, which was held on the beautiful grounds of the Ocean House in Watch Hill, RI. The athletes partook in friendly competition under the sun and enjoyed the scenery and the breeze from the Atlantic Ocean.

All of these events were not possible without volunteers from the area and the local businesses.

Celebrating the Camaraderie Between the Mohegan Tribe and American Colonists

story & photo
by Alexis Ann


Mohegan Tribe’s Medicine Woman Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, Mohegan Lifetime Chief Lynn “Many Hearts” Malerba, Graphite Pencil Artist John D. Herz, Chairman, Kevin Brown, Mohegan Tribal Council, and Maynard Strickland, Tribal Councilor, retired, gather around  this historical work-of-art.



They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. In the case of the drawing created by John D. Herz, graphite pencil artist, the visual is more than words. This rendering evokes deep emotion and depicts the camaraderie between the American Colonists and the Mohegan Tribe while honoring Samuel Ashbow, a Mohegan Warrior and the first Native American to give his life in the American Revolution at the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775.

John Herz, a longtime friend of Maynard Strickland, Mohegan Tribal Councilor (ret) was commissioned by the Tribe to create a visual demonstrating the Mohegan Tribe’s relationship with the early American settlers. This project was fostered by Chairman Kevin Brown, retired Colonel, US Army.

“After a tremendous amount of research and with the help of Nonner Faith Damon Davison, I was able to detail the clothing, rifle, etc., offering a more realistic view of the era,” explained John. “It was a history lesson!”

The work of art was unveiled inside Mohegan Tribe’s Government Center before displaying it at their annual Wigwam Festival last month. This lifelike rendering was a show stopper, attracting Tribal members from around the globe.

History of Samuel Ashbow

The son of the Reverend Samuel Ashbow, 29 year old Samuel Ashbow, Jr, was a man of peace. His wife and two year old son gave him all a man could want to live for. As much as he loved peace, he loved honor more – when tyranny and injustice rose up to threaten Colonial New England, Samuel answered the call to arms. His Bloodline could not stand inactive when cruelty threatened to prevail – he was a proud member of the Mohegan Tribe.

Musket held, Samuel marched with other members of the Connecticut Colonial Militia 75 arduous miles overland from Norwich to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Having been among the first to enlist in winter of 1775, Samuel joined other kindred brave souls on the hills surrounding Boston to drive the British Army and Royal Marine from the vital port. One of the high grounds was called Bunker Hill.

The Colonial Militia who took up position of defiance to the world’s most powerful empire was a reflection of the America that their efforts would give birth to – diverse races, ethnicities, persuasions, and faiths, some poor, some wealthy – united in a quest for equality and self-determination.

On the morning of June 17, 1775, the elite forces of Britain stormed the hastily thrown up defenses of the Colonists. Backed by artillery, row upon row of Redcoats assaulted the hills. The Colonists were out-gunned and out-numbered – they held their ground. A Nation’s birth held in the balance.

The third British wave breached the Colonial positions. Out of ammunition and lacking bayonets, the Colonists fought steel with their bare hands. Samuel Ashbow, Mohegan Warrior, died that the new Nation might live. He was buried in a mass grave, his Mohegan Blood mixing with that of his fellow Patriots. America took root and grew from that soil.

23rd Taste of Italy in Norwich

story & photos
by Karen Butera

The air was alive with the traditional smells of Italian food and the sound of Italian music being sung by Michael Ciulla ringing out across the Norwich Harbor during the twenty-third Annual Taste of Italy on September 6.

According to Liz Chartier of Norwich, “Today is about good food, good fun and the music.”

The Italian tradition started in the Town of Norwich in 1992 when it was time to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus discovering America.

At that time, the Italian Heritage & Cultural Committee got together and decided to help celebrate with what became the first annual Taste of Italy event in the Town of Norwich. “When we finished the day,” said Frank Jacaruso, president of the Committee, “Everyone wanted us to do it again the next year, so we said we would do it once more, and here we are twenty-three years later, still doing it every year.

Volunteers set up large white tents early in the morning, while craft and toy venders set up their own tents. Face painters created their works of art on children’s faces. There were also Moon Bounce Houses for the kids to enjoy.

All cuisine was of Italian ethnicity and featured different types of antipasto, main courses and desserts. There were twelve restaurants serving two different samples with a cost of $3.00 to $5.00 each.

Volunteers of The Italian Women’s Social Club of Norwich gathered to make about five hundred packages of the traditional Pizzelles, sold to help raise funds for four separate $1000.00 Scholarships awarded to high school seniors of Italian descent.

Getting into the spirit of the festival, Marie Taylor of Norwich, a member of the Women’s Social Club stood out in the crowd wearing her Italian green, white and red hat.

At the end of the day, this yearly celebration was summed up with a simple explanation. “This has been a great community event since the beginning,” said Jackaruso. “I love to see all of the people of Norwich and surrounding towns come out to gather and enjoy themselves.”

“The Mohegan Way is Helping Others”

story & photos
by Alexis Ann


The history of the Mohegan Tribe is replete with tales of heroism, adventure, Family loyalty, and respect for nature. It also is dominated by an emphasis on the duty to see to the well-being of others. Yet, another chapter will be added to that history when it recounts the contribution by the Mohegan Tribe of a truckload of canned goods and peanut butter to the Town of Montville Food Bank.

On Friday, September 5th, a truck provided by Allen Construction, driven by Montville Town Council Vice Chairman Bill Caron, unloaded foods that will greatly assist Montville residents in need. Assisting in all of the attendant labor was Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown, Tribal Vice Chairman James Gessner, Chuck Bunnell, Mohegan Chief of Staff of External and Governmental Affairs, and Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel. Box upon box of nutrition for those who might otherwise have gone hungry was placed under the care for distribution of Kathleen Doherty-Peck, Director of Senior and Social Services, Town of Montville.

Kathleen expressed her gratitude for the generous support from the Mohegan Tribe. “A jar of peanut butter can provide lunch for a child for two-weeks,” she said.

Chairman Kevin Brown, on behalf of the Mohegan Tribe is ready and willing to help. “We’re going to help!” he announced. The Mohegan Tribe gives roughly $1 Million annually to hundreds of charities across the state.

One can be sure that the gracious Lifetime Chief Lynn “Many Hearts” Malerba expressed, “Give from the heart.” And, Mohegan Chiefs of the past such as the universally beloved Ralph Sturges, smiled down on the event and said, “Well done, this is the Mohegan way – helping those in need.”

USS New Hampshire Homecoming

story & photos
Josie Kapral


Balloons hung by the living room window of Rachael and Russell Kropp: one for every holiday and special occasion that he missed over the last six months. Family members gathered from Bostonand Pittsburgh for what would be his last deployment with the USS New Hampshire, a Virginiaclass submarine out of the Navy Base at Groton. Streamers in red, white and blue hung in the doorways ready to greet him when he came home.

“I am so excited just talking about it,” Rachael Kropp said, “We’ve been through so much over the last five years”

They were not the only ones. Several family members of the 130 sailors onboard the submarine met at the Base to watch it make its first appearance in months on the Thames River. Navy wives and girlfriends were dressed up and ready with their signs welcoming their boys home. It was truly a very special occasion for so many people. Colton Newman, age four, stood with his mother, Ashley Newman, and little sister, Paisley Newman as he held his sign that was nearly as tall as he was telling everyone that his dad, TM3 Aaron Newman,was coming home and it was his birthday!

As the USS New Hampshire began to pull into the dock, the winners of “The First Hug” and “First Kiss” categories came to the pier. Five year old Colin Culbertson, and his mother waited for the moment they could finally hug Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Culbertson. Brittany Shaner, winner of the first kiss stood anxiously on the dock trying to get a glimpse of her husband, Petty Officer Aaron Shaner. The winner of the first kiss was selected by raffle tickets.

“Last year I waited six hours for him to come off the boat. I wasn’t going to wait this year, so I bought a lot of raffle tickets!” Shaner smiled. When her moment arrived, she ran down the pier to her husband who was carrying a rose and got the kiss she had been waiting for for months. She ran so fast, she left her shoes behind her on the pier.

Shortly after, the gates opened on the pier and the crowd of people that had been waiting in the rain were finally allowed onto the pier to greet their loved ones. It was a beautifully emotional scene. The Myers children, Ally and Maddie jumped into their dad, STS1 Jeremy Myers’ arms and smiled as their parents, Jeremy and Emily smiled at each other.

“We are so happy to finally have our family back together, it’s been a long deployment. I am so proud of all the sailors and families…together we are six months stronger!” said Emily Myers. She and her husband, Jeremy were also celebrating birthdays this week.

Across the pier was another happy little girl, Grace Benton who was squeezing her dad, STSC (SS) Robert Benton’s neck so tight as if to make sure he was not going to leave again any time soon.

Moments like these make you really realize what a sacrifice the families also make for their loved ones. While the USS New Hampshire was deployed, these families were all celebrating much like the Kropps. There was an empty seat at the dinner table. There was one less at Fourth of July. Birthdays and special holidays are often celebrated on a different day even months and months later. However, there is one day is always celebrated on the same day and that is homecoming. And for these families, this was that day.

Mohegan Garden of Chiefs

story & photos
by Alexis Ann

Mohegan Tribal Nation held a ceremony to dedicate the sculptures of its 20th Century leaders on August 15, 2014 in the Chiefs’ Garden at the main entrance of the Tribal Government building.   The garden of eight life-sized sculptures representing Chiefs from 1902 – 2007 was dedicated by Trading Cove Associates in honor of its special friendship with Chief Ralph Sturges and the Mohegan Tribe.

Opening the ceremony on this gorgeous sunny summer day was Chairman Kevin Brown. “Thank you for joining us today as we mark the moments and the leaders who have brought us to this point in our history with the emplacement of this plaque and the dedication of this garden. The Chiefs’ Garden stands as a tribute to our past, and will be a permanent reminder of those who walked their path in service to our Tribe. The inscription on the plaque reads, “We walk as a single spirit on the Trail of Life… This garden reflects the trail of life that we walk on together into our future and honors those who served and led the Mohegan Tribe as Chief in the past.”

The Chairman expressed his gratitude for the generosity of Len Wolman, Waterford Hotel Group & Cove Associates for “helping to make the Garden a cherished part of our community and government center.” Kevin continued, “We would not be standing here today without the relationship that Len fostered with our Tribe and the late Chief Ralph Sturges (G’tinemong-He who helps thee).”

Len Wolman addressed the gathering explaining that his relationship with the Mohegan Tribe began with a handshake with Chief Sturges, summer 1992, soon after Ralph was appointed Lifetime Chief and was also serving as chairman of the Tribal Council. “Together with the Chief, the council, the council of elders and the Tribe, we were able to accomplish a number of firsts. The overturn of a negative determination for federal recognition, and the first ever simultaneous closing between the local governments, the State, and the various federal departments, including Justice and even Wall Street.”

This was the first ever Native American financing on Wall Street, resulting in opening up Wall Street to all Tribes in the U.S., Len pointed out. “The most important thing we established, said Len, was a very special, long-lasting relationship of mutual trust, respect and integrity based on reputation and the same values.”

Len Wolman told the history of the idea of a Garden when back in 2001 he approached Mark Brown who was chairman then. Len said that he and his partners, the Slavik Family, his brother Mark and Kerzner International wanted to give the Tribe a meaningful gift that depicted appreciation and honored their relationship. The outcome is this historic Garden of Chiefs that honored at that time, the only living Chief, Ralph Sturges and the previous chiefs of that century.

The first statue of Chief Sturges was unveiled in October 2003 on the 7th Anniversary of the casino. “Little did we know it would take until 2014 to complete this project.”

Len thanked his brother Mark who worked with Sharon Gale, the artist; Melissa Zobel, Anita Fowler, the cultural resources department, Lifetime Chief Lynn Malerba, former chairman councils and leaders of the Tribe and the families of each Chief.

Chief Lynn Malerba gave the blessing.

Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel presented a short narrative on the lives of each of the chiefs. Melissa noted “We have been very fortunate in our choice of Mohegan Chiefs. From our great Sachem Uncas/Wunxis, the fox, to our current Sunqsquaw Mutawi Mutahash Chief Many Hearts Lynn Malerba, great Mohegans have led us, or we would not be here today.”

Blue Skies for Jesse Terry

by Alexis Ann

Those who first saw James Taylor in the Nantucket Coffeehouses still speak of instantly knowing they were in the presence of greatness. Those who rocked to Springsteen on the Jersey Shore knew he would soon be known to the world. Those who were mesmerized by a young Billy Joel in Long Island bars and pubs knew they saw a future Music Hall of Famer. That same recognition of having been on the ground floor prior to a meteoric rise to the top was shared by those who attended Jesse Terry in concert at the Katherine Hepburn Performing Arts Center in Old Saybrook on August 13th.

Jesse Terry not only owned the stage, but he owned the hearts of the roughly 200 people fortunate enough to attend the evening. Not all got to speak to him in person, but each and every one left the evening having become his friend as well as his lifetime fan. Unique to the great talents of the world, is the fact that they cannot be compared to each other. Jesse Terry is Jesse Terry – a voice, a presence, a personality, and a talent unto himself.

Jesse sings songs of his own composition, each an expression of his path through life, his dreams, his triumphs, and his tragedies. With three up and rising albums under his belt, “The Runner,” “Empty Seat on a Plane,” and “Stay Here With Me,” Jesse Terry has built a repertoire of diversity and distinction. Within that collection are words and tunes that everyone can identify with and embrace. As with all the great songwriters/singers, he is prolific – guaranteeing that one’s current favorite Jesse Terry song will soon be supplanted by his future creations.

A mother and daughter, Mom in her 50s, young lady in her 20s, were heard at the Katherine Center to remark, “All that talent and he is so easy on the eyes.” Handsome, yes, but more so charismatic, Jesse is a friend you are meeting for the first time though you feel you have known him forever. Yet, who is Jesse Terry?

Readers might have a chance to meet him locally on the sidewalks of Stonington, as Jesse and his New Zealand born wife, Jess, have settled in to our region!

Born and raised with music, Jesse received his first guitar as a gift from his mother. At the time an aspiring painter, he knew his true love was music. A graduate of the prestigious Berklee School of Music, Jesse can compose for each and every instrument that might accompany his finest tool – his voice. Jesse has a few gigs on the east coast prior to embarking on a September tour of the United Kingdom, a series of appearances that has already sold out in several venues. Can anyone say, “International Star?”

Our current favorite Jesse Terry song is “ Let the Blue Skies Go to Your Head,” (winner of the prestigious International Songwriting Competition Americana Award) from the “Empty Seat on a Plane” album. It has a lovely mid-tempo tune with tricky and evocative verse rhythms, a lilting chorus hook, and stays-in-your-head lyrics – a pane to having the courage to commit to a relationship. It takes no courage for us to say, Jesse Terry, here’s to a decades long relationship – the sky is the limit!

Annual Wigwam Festival Celebrates Tradition

story & photos
by Alexis Ann

The Mohegan Wigwam Festival was held on August 16 and 17 and saw Tribes gather from across the country to dance on the sacred ground of Fort Shantok in Uncasville. Shantok, Village of Uncas, was the principal settlement of the Mohegan Tribe between 1636 and 1682 and the sacred ground of Uncas, the Mohegan leader and statesman. The event is organized by the Tribe’s Cultural and Community Programs department on the third weekend of August, following a long-established tradition.
Wigwam, also known as the “Green Corn Festival” emulates harvesting traditions. The days of traditional dance, music and Native-made foods and crafts opened with a noontime Grand Entry in which Natives from across the United States danced into the tent together. For the Mohegans, the Veterans’ Association leads the way, followed by the Council of Elders, Tribal Council and general population. This year, all Veterans in attendance were invited to gather in the circle.
Men’s and women’s dance competitions are arranged by age and dance format, such as Eastern War, Eastern Blanket, Northern Traditional, Southern Traditional, Jingle, Fancy, Grass and Smoke.
The Blessing was offered by Chief Lynn “Many Hearts” Malerba and opening welcome by Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council Kevin “Red Eagle” Brown.
Chief Lynn thanked all for traveling to celebrate Native traditional ways. “May we never forget the teachings of our ancestors and may we honor them whenever we are all gathered together.”

Keep Your Eyes on Ramiro Zavala

story & photos by Jim Loomis


Ramiro Zavala is playing baseball now on a diamond near you! In a Matt Harvey like performance August 3, he was close to perfect as he pitched the Mystic Summer Little League team to the league championships, besting perennial powerhouse, Waterford. Displaying pinpoint control, he pitched five 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, allowing no walks, while striking out twelve. He was reluctantly pulled from the mound with one out remaining in the final inning as he reached his mandatory pitch count under Little League rules, a welcome set of standards designed to protect kids from future arm problems, such as those which have befallen Matt Harvey and others.
Before reaching the championship game, the Mystic nine had to get by a tenacious Colchester team last Thursday in a tense match that ended under the lights. Behind 7-4 in the fifth inning, Bob Henderson, Mystic Coach, who calls Ramiro, “a good kid and a great competitor,” brought him in to slow the Colchester offense. Slow it he did, stopping them in their tracks with no runs, no hits, and no walks over the final two frames. Mystic went on to rally for five runs in their final at bat to overtake Colchester, giving Zavala the win. An impromptu post game victory celebration was soon to follow at Colchester’s landmark eatery, Harry’s Place.
Over the two games, Zavala was dominating, pitching seven 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, while earning both decisions. If this writer seems a tad biased, it might just possibly be because Ramiro Zavala is my grandson. When Ramiro was eight years old, a bullpen was constructed in my backyard, replete with a pitching rubber, a home plate, and a strike zone painted on an air mattress suspended behind home plate. Ramiro spent hours working on his pitching and I’ve proudly watched his control improve in leaps and bounds. While I might take a tiny bit of credit, along with some dedicated coaches, for sharing in Ramiro’s development, particularly in the mechanical aspects of pitching, his parents deserve all the credit for his mental approach. They have raised a mature, confident, and poised young man.
Next stop for Ramiro is the Mystic Clippers AAU team, and with two more seasons of Little League ball to follow, his future indeed looks bright.