Issue: 5/27/15

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Issue: 5/13/15

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Issue: 4/29/15

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15-04-15 Issue

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Mystic Couple Wins a Whole “Lotto” Dough

Following a solid week of a whole lotta snow, George and Louise Schmidt of Mystic showed up at CT Lottery headquarters in Rocky Hill Monday afternoon knee-deep, in a whole “Lotto” dough—a $4.7 million jackpot, to be exact.
“When I looked in the newspaper Saturday morning to check the winning numbers and saw all my numbers matched, I let out a shout. I couldn’t believe it,” said George with a laugh. “Louise heard me, and asked what was wrong. I told her we won the jackpot—she didn’t believe it either. We went right out and put the ticket in a safe deposit box. We didn’t want anything to happen to it.”
George and Louise’s Lotto “Quick Pick” ticket contained the numbers 6-11-13-37-40-42, a perfect match to the winning numbers drawn Friday, January 30, 2015. In total, 5,313 winning Lotto tickets were sold for that date, with prizes ranging from $2 to $4.7 million.
After rolling 55 consecutive draws, Schmidt’s winning match for the $4.7 million jackpot marks the first time this year that a jackpot winning ticket was sold in Lotto, Connecticut’s longest running jackpot game.
The Lotto jackpot is payable as a 21-year annuity or a one-time cash lump-sum. The Schmidts opted to claim the jackpot’s cash lump-sum prize for $3,697,585 (before taxes), with plans already in place for their winnings. “We’re going to help the kids first. Then, we’re probably going to get a camper and see the country. There are so many places we haven’t seen yet.”
Universal Package Store, located at 680 W. Main Street in Norwich, will also have a reason to celebrate the Schmidts’ good fortune. For selling the jackpot winning ticket, Universal Package Store will receive a $10,000 bonus from the CT Lottery.
The overall chance of winning a prize in Lotto is 1 in 39.3. The chance of winning the jackpot is 1 in approximately 7.1 million.The CT Lottery reminds the public that purchasers must be 18 or older, and to please play responsibly.

Issue: 2/18/15

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Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department Pinning

by JB

On the scene Thursday, January 19, 2015 at the Groton Senior Center for the official “pinning of the badge” for the Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department’s new Chief. Joseph Winski was appointed Fire Chief of the Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department following the retirement Chief Todd Paige.

The Groton Senior Center was the location for friends, family, and colleagues to gather to witness the event. There were Fire Chiefs representing departments in the region, many wearing their dress uniforms. As I watched the Chiefs and firemen from the area file into the room, I couldn’t help but think it is all too rare that Emergency Services personnel, whether an EMS, Police Officer, or a Firefighter, have a chance to gather to welcome a familiar face into active service. For it is far too often that we gather in our dress uniforms to say goodbye to a fellow colleague.

Joseph Winski takes the helm at the Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department, at a time that controversy overshadows goodness. Joe, who began his firefighting career at age 16, remains in active fire service for nearly half a century. He recently retired as a Supervisory Judicial Marshall, working in Waterford, to become the Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department’s news leader.

Since he has taken command, the District has purchased a new combination pumper/ladder truck referred to as a “quint,” and in a cost sharing agreement, the department will have one of their pumpers overhauled. Joe began mending fences with the Fire Department’s union, and instilled on his new men that he will work to restore a “family” atmosphere that the department was somewhat removed from.

I was proud to be a witness at this occasion, and will not soon forget the regular and routine references to firefighters being a “family “.

Chief Joe Winski takes a seat at the Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department table and is determined to achieve success with his men at his side.



Five Stars for WineFest

by JB

It is finally upon us…the much anticipated 12th Annual Mohegan Sun WineFest 2015, held in the spacious Mohegan Sun Convention Center. We are talking about one of Sun’s most sensational events of the year. Alexis Ann, Editor & Publisher, Sherri, Resident photographer, and I happily participated in the tastings.

The excited attendees were not discouraged by way of a blast from Mother Nature, as she blanketed the area. It was not enough to stop loyal folks traveling from at least four states, to sample sensational food, meet the proud preparers and pourers, experience samples from great restaurants, and of course, fruits of the vine, the kegs, and the barrels.

Could I possible interest you in what I’m calling a “ sampler’s sling”. The gadget is basically a lanyard that goes around the neck with a plastic notched holder that secures your wine glass in place, allowing for a hands-free experience. The Traveling Vineyard made these nifty gizmos and they are available to set up a wine tasting event just for you–in your home or office.

The ballroom was packed with folks eager to sample wines and spirits, including specialty cocktails, made with Grey Goose Vodka or Jim Beam Bourbon, and food from restaurants around the region.

I had a chance to stop and talk to Bill Buscetto, owner of Filomena’s Restaurant, Waterford, featuring two dishes I would call, “Italian staples”–sausage and peppers, and meatballs. Alexis, and yours truly, began our tasting journey at Feng Asian Bistro, Hartford. They offered a selection of sushi that was tremendous. Mohegan’s newest restaurant, Arooga’s, scheduled to open in a couple months, was serving up their specialty wings. Sticks & Stones, a dipping grille, which allows you to interact with friends and dine fondue style. If you rather not, they have executive chefs who will prepare the freshest dishes just for you. They boast of their molecular bar, and broadcast studio featuring Sandy Squillante, filming Romancing the Pan.

Upstairs from the ballroom, was the magnificent beer garden featuring a wide range of microbrews, craft beers, popular brews, like Goose Island IPA, and to my surprise and great pleasure, Fishers Island Lemonade. This isn’t a beer, it is not carbonated, it does come in a can though, and is sold in four-packs. The mixture of vodka, whiskey, natural juices and flavors, originates from the Pequot Inn, on Fishers Island. The owner’s daughter, Bronya Shillo, was pouring samples of the awesome adult beverage, at the FIL booth. I drank this great stuff last summer, and I knew it was a winner. So much so I encouraged my favorite package store to stock it, and they did, with tremendous success! Fishers Island Lemonade is 100% spiked, and 1000% well – liked.

We chatted with many awesome folks. Erin Mercolino, originally from Rhode Island, and her boyfriend, Kevin Nigro, were enjoying delicious samples from Filomena’s. Kevin told us he manages Smashburgers Restaurants in Massachusetts…ironically, Smashburgers, at 903 Hartford Turnpike (Rte 85), Waterford, was recently opened by the Mohegan Tribe, and is the first Smashburger in CT.

Before exiting, after a fantastic afternoon, Sherri and Alexis Ann stopped and chatted with celebrity chef Brian Duffy. A Philadelphia native, Brian is most recognizable from his many appearances on the very popular Spike TV series, Bar Rescue. Duffy even has his own specialty spice, called “Duffified Spice.”

This was the first time I attended Mohegan Sun’s annual WineFest, but I can tell you, as sure as I tracked fugitives across the globe, I will return to WineFest 2016, ready to wine it up!

Kongsberg Welcomed to Their New Groton Home

story by JB

JB on the scene, January 16, 2015, at the Grand Opening of KONGSBERG MARITIME SIMULATION…the company tenants “Determined, Innovative, Collaborative, Reliable” and now they are located in an awesome new building at 170 Leonard Drive, Groton. Clayton Burry, the Vice-President of Sales and Acting General Manager for the Americas, was the master of ceremonies. Henry Tremblay, President of the Americas, and Ole Gunnar Hvamb, Executive Vice President, Emerging Business Division, spoke proudly of the company’s humble beginnings 200 years ago to a multinational KONGSBERG Gruppen, with operations in over 25 countries, and a commitment to supporting local companies. US Congressman Joe Courtney, 2nd District, was on hand at the ceremony to praise the work of Kongsberg, and emphasize that this company is an example of great thing happening in the region. The Reverend David Rider, President and Executive Director of The Seamen’s Church Institute, New York, NY, was not only on hand for a blessing, but to boast of Kongsberg’s excellence in the field of maritime simulators.

So you may by now wonder what a maritime simulation system is exactly. Well, I for one, was blown away by the demonstration we were shown.   The equipment is set up and actually simulates either the bridge of a vessel, the engine room of a ocean going freighter, ship, or tugboat, an off-shore crane or well drilling rig, and even an apparatus that would have secured the BP oil well in the Gulf. How about Kongsberg developing a simulator that the US Government requires there to be certification on in the event of another catastrophe. The regulations also require regular periodic recertification on the Kongsberg Maritime Simulation Systems. It was incredible for me to be standing behind a simulator that depicted the Thames River , the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, Ledge Light, like it was real life. The windows of the ships bridge were monitors showing the real live scenery. These systems can be modified to any situation, condition, location, time of day. Amazing would be an understatement in describing what Kongsberg Maritime Simulation is capable of developing and putting in the field, and there new facility in right in Groton. Economic development doesn’t get any better than this folks!



USS California Homecoming

by Josie Kapral

Wil Block is too little to count to 186, but that is the longest number of consecutive days he has spent without his father, LT Robert Block. His mother, Meghan Block, had Wil place stickers on a little board for every day that his dad was “missed” during that time to help Wil better understand what was happening and let him know that his father was not forgotten. The Block family is just one of several families who waited for 186 days to see the sailors of the USS California (SSN 781) return to their homeport at the Naval Subbase in New London. The USS California (SSN 781) had been gone since July, making port visits in Spain, Norway, France, Scotland and finally the last stop Groton, CT.

Finally, the day had arrived. It was January 24th. Predictions for frigid and snowy weather were a big concern, especially for the three families with newborns who were also waiting for the fathers of the newborns to meet their little ones for the first time. Fortunately, there was no major accumulation that day, but it was very cold, windy, and the rain was not very kind. However, the families braved it out on the pier. Some waited in their cars to avoid the wind and rain, while others bundled up and huddled with their families and friends eager to catch the first glimpse of the USS California (SSN 781) as it pulled into the pier.

As soon as the crowd saw the tugboat, the cheers began, people were whistling, wives and friends were crying out of happiness knowing that this was the day they had been waiting for. This was the day they felt would never come. The families lined up along the barriers set up by the base to watch their loved ones step off the submarine and down the pier and eventually into the arms of the ones they missed for months.

Valerie Dye, waited with her son, 14 month old, Marcus, as her husband, Electronics Technician Third Class Andrew Dye, walked toward her to give her the infamous “first kiss.” After that, the fathers who had not yet met their newborns, began to make their appearances and kiss their babies for the first time. One of these fathers was LT Chris Medford, whose son, Jackson was born earlier that month. His wife, Stephanie Medford, held Jackson in her arms as she was met with her own long awaited kiss.

LT Robert Block smiled as his eyes met his wife, Meghan Block. He held her tightly and kissed his son little William “Wil” Block. “Isn’t mommy beautiful?!” he exclaimed to Wil.

Needless to say, Wil did not have to put any more stickers on that board that night.