Resident Issue: 1/21/15

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Our New England Blackwolves Are Winners

story by James Brady

Folks, let me set the stage for you, in the event you have not attended either of the first two professional indoor National Lacrosse League (NLL) games held at Mohegan Sun Arena. In the past two weeks, New England Blackwolves has hosted the Buffalo Bandits and the Rochester Knighthawks…and won both games! It has proven to be an absolutely incredible acquisition by the Mohegan Tribe.

The season opener began with a traditional ceremony and tribute to the Iroquois Nation which was nothing short of amazing. Mohegan Tribal member and lacrosse player Ashley Murthas received an original Native American lacrosse stick, which she handed to Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown. He raised the lacrosse stick over his head in a manner in which I found myself ready to charge onto the field and do battle.

The crowd was involved with every aspect of the event, enthusiastic and howling. “AH OOWWW” could be heard across the region. The Blackwolves made us all proud as they fought to a 128 victory over the Bandits in game one. It really didn’t seem to matter if you were an avid lacrosse fan or a relative newcomer, the entire place was alive. They handily defeated the three time defending NLL champs with a score of 177.

The games themselves are quite different from typical outdoor lacrosse…the field is smaller and similar to a hockey rink, with the same boards and protective glass as a rink, minus the ice. There are 6 players per side, unlike 10 with outdoor lacrosse. The game is lightning fast, with quick player substitutions or “shift changes”. The stick handling skills and passing… phenomenal. The crowd favorite, and wild action that has the observer on high alert, is the ‘checking’, often into the boards, with enthusiasm, that often results in the hockey-style free for all. The penalty box, also reminiscent of hockey, has regular occupants, most locked in for illegal checking.

Professional indoor lacrosse is far from the ivy league game you may have read about… when these players smile there may be something missing and believe me it ain’t guts. Most have day jobs…they play for the love of lacrosse.

It is becoming quite easy to claim the New England Black Wolves as OUR OWN professional lacrosse team. A sport originated by Native Americans, originally known as “stickball,” has evolved into an amazing spectator sport growing in popularity, and now, thankfully, because of the Mohegan Tribe, we can enjoy it in the comforts of their arena.

The next home game is January 24, 2015 at 7 p.m. Trust me when I say, “It’s a must see game!” The Native American Heritage will be well represented when New England Blackwolves’ Bill O’Brien will have to defend his cousin, one of the league’s most lethal scorers, Miles Thompson of the Minnesota Swarm. Be sure you say, “Hello” to Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown, who wouldn’t miss a game or shake hands with Tribal Elder Maynard Strickland whom you may see, as well. The Resident’s State Trooper will be on the scene for every game… so be to sure say, “Hello,” but never in the middle of an AHH WWOOOO!

Wireless Zone Foundation Grants Over $105,000 to CT Charities

Locally owned and family operated, the fourteen Wireless Zone- Verizon Premium Wireless Retailers, nominated multiple non-profit organizations in the Eastern Connecticut community to receive grants from the Wireless Zone Foundation in 2014. Owners Scott Gladstone and Neil Ryan elect several local charities in their territory who go above and beyond to impact the people in need in the community. In addition to their personal store contributions to local charities, over ten New London County, Windham County and Tolland County non-profit organizations were selected as Wireless Zone Foundation grant recipients in 2014.

The following non-profit organizations were bestowed Wireless Zone Foundation grants: Center for Hospice Care, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center, Jewish Federation of Eastern CT, Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, Madonna Place, Thames River Family Program, Waterford Country School, American Friends of Kenya, Windham Hospital Foundation and Make A Wish Foundation of Connecticut. A total of $43,000 will be donated to these local nonprofit organizations in 2014.

The grant funds will assist organizations expand upon current programs directly impacting patients and implement new programs to enhance the variety of services offered. Center for Hospice Care utilized last year’s grant to develop the Community Healing Garden on location in Norwich and Lawrence & Memorial Hospital expended the grant money to assist with the cost of patient transportation to and from the Cancer Center in Waterford.

The Wireless Zone Foundation for Giving® Inc., established in 2003, supports research and community outreach for both local and national nonprofit organizations. The Foundation provides a basic structure for the collaborative giving program and enhances the individual stores’ ability to be able to commit to helping their communities.

“This past October, the Waterford Country School opened the doors to their brand new gymnasium, a safe place where the students will have the ability to exercise and spend time with their friends. The Wireless Zone Foundation grant helped that dream become a reality,” says Meagan Seacor, Director of Marketing & Community Relations.

Scott Gladstone and Neil Ryan celebrated twenty-two years of success as prominent small business owners in 2014. Previously, they were inducted into the Wireless Zone Hall of Fame for two decades of outstanding customer service, their unsurpassed growth in the industry and their unwavering commitment to the community. This year, they received the Alumni Achievement Award from their Alma Mater, Keene State College. The award is bestowed to an individual(s) whose professional achievement in his/her chosen field brings honor to the recipient(s), as well as to college.

Wireless Zone is the nation’s leading independent Verizon Wireless franchise, offering the latest and greatest in products, services and accessories, as well as repair services.

One Small Act of Kindness

by Bob O’Shaughnessy


When Chelsea Groton Bank kicked off its 160th anniversary celebration last March, President and CEO Michael Rauh outlined the details of the celebration including the community gift, 160 Acts of Kindness. Through the 2014 Acts of Kindness initiative, Chelsea Groton financially supported over 200 causes, selected by each employee, in the amount of $160.00. For Jo-Ann Lewis, Head Teller of the Niantic Branch, the choice was easy – the Groton Animal Foundation in honor of “Gizmo”.

Gizmo, a Maltese dog, was one of five dogs seized by Town of Groton Animal Control (among other dogs), in a 2011 cruelty case. He required surgery, his fur was horribly matted and needed to be shaved, and nearly all of his teeth had to be pulled. The Groton Animal Foundation received donations to help defray the cost of his care and paid for everything else not covered. Gizmo was adopted by a loving couple, Carol and Paul Shinn of Groton. When the Shinns learned that a donation was made to the Groton Animal Foundation in Gizmo’s name they were beyond excited; “Gizmo can pay it forward so that other animals in need would receive the medical attention they deserve.” So on Monday, January 5th they packed up Gizmo and headed over to the Niantic Branch of Chelsea Groton to meet Jo-Ann and to thank her personally for her kindness.

When asked about why she chose the Groton Animal Foundation honoring Gizmo, Lewis responded, “My love of animals and fond memories of my own dog, also named Gizmo aka Gizzy was the driving force behind my decision. Gizzy, a Shih Tzu, was with me for 12 years, after years of failing health he passed away in 2009 peacefully at home. I thought this organization would benefit by paying it forward in Gizzy’s honor. I’m pleased to know there is help for so many animals in need.”

Polars Splash-In a New 2015

story by James Brady

Welcome to 2015…and to those brave souls braving the elements New Year’s Day at Esker Pt Beach…what the heck were you thinking anyways? It was close to one o’clock New Year’s Day when I saw the first of 200+ runners begin the final leg of the New Year’s Day run down Groton Long Point Road and into the frigid waters at Esker Point Beach.

Cooper Robinson, age 17, was the first to hit the water followed by many others. Scott MacGregor, co-owner of Gold Star Pawn, has been running for years. As he tells me, “JB, it’s something I do every year…in years past I stayed in and tackled those that didn’t dive in…I’m too old for that now!” .

Bill Billings, and his son Jeff, ran together. Bill has been running and diving in for 44 years and Jeff for 23 years. An event that Johnny Kelley would have been happy to quietly attend…but most assuredly watching from ABOVE.

Issue: 12/24/14

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Smashburger Opens With a Smash

story & photos

by Alexis Ann

The Waterford Commons shopping area on Route 85 is now host to Smashburger, an international “better burger” franchise. This is Smashburger’s first location in Connecticut, and plans are underway for expansion in the Rhode Island and Massachusetts markets.
Smashburger Waterford did brisk business after opening to the public during the post-Thanksgiving weekend, and The Resident attended a special private “media night” on December 3 as Christine Ferris of the Smashburger group presented an array of tasty sandwich and sides samples. Members of the Mohegan Tribal Council also joined in on the fun, as the restaurant is part of a new franchise agreement that the Tribe has entered into with its new non-gaming business arm Mohegan Holdings LLC.
In addition to Smashburger sandwiches with beef, chicken and vegetarian options, attendees of the event were treated to a variety of side dishes. Smashburger takes the “french fries” concept to the next level, offering sweet potato and vegetable fries, along with the signature “Smashfries” tossed in olive oil, rosemary and garlic. Also available are fried pickles and “haystack” onion rings. Handspun old-fashioned milkshakes are served in a frothy glass with whipped cream, and come in a variety of flavors with Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and on December 3 samples of the Oreo and Salted Caramel shakes proved to be a great way to cap off the evening.
The Waterford restaurant is located in an area of the Commons adjacent to the Music and Arts and Sprint stores. It is 2,560 sq. ft. and has seating for 76 patrons – including outdoor seating for when the weather warms up. Smashburger’s home base is in Denver, and it is a rapidly growing business, going from 0 to 301 restaurants in the space of seven years, with the Waterford location being #301. World-wide, Smashburger operates in seven counties and employs between 6,000 and 9,000 team members.
The Waterford restaurant will provide over 40 jobs to area residents, and is already showing a commitment to southeastern Connecticut which fits with the the company’s philosophy of allying with the businesses and flavors of the region. The “Constitution Smashburger” pays tribute to the area’s Italian-American flavors, served on a crusty Ciabatta Bun, and featuring provolone cheese, mayo, pesto, baby spinach, and a peppery Giardinera relish. Asked for suggestions about which regional flavor might be included in the BBQ burgers, the Smashburger folks got a quick answer from us – Nutmeg! In the beverage department, Smashburger has gone very local, and features Mystic River IPA from the Mystic Brewing Company! Other available beverages run the gamut from Coca-Cola to Chardonnay.
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The Resident’s Own State Trooper Detective JB “On the Scene” at Wreaths Across America

Story & photos

by James Brady

The recent nor’easter wasn’t going to stop Wreaths Across America from making its journey from Harrington, Maine, the home of the Worcester Wreath Co. to Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.

The WAA 13+ truck convoy, escorted by CT and Maine State Troopers, made a scheduled stop at the Mohegan Sun Casino. Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown (US Army Colonel retired) along with Mohegan Tribal Chief Lynn Malerba lead the ceremony with inspiring words and native prayer. St. Bernard School Headmaster Don Macrino spoke of the tremendous honor as well. The St. Bernard School Choir and Band, lead by Music Director Caitlin Meyer, performed renditions of the National Anthem and God Bless America that were most fitting the WAA event.

At age 12, Morrill Worcester, the owner of Worcester Wreath Company, won a trip to Washington, DC. The experience was so profound, that several decades earlier, in 1992, he had a surplus of wreaths. Worcester arranged for them to be placed in Arlington National Cemetery. He requested that the wreaths be placed at grave stones in an older section of the cemetery where there are fewer visitors each year. Today they will place over 500,000 memorial wreaths in 545 locations across the US and beyond.

Every aspect of Wreaths Across America is inspiring to me as a citizen and a CT State Trooper: the assignment by Editor/Publisher of the Resident, Alexis Ann (US Army Captain retired); speaking with my friend Chairman Kevin Brown, retired Army Colonel; my conversations with Don Macrino. Headmaster St Bernard School, not a veteran himself, but whose dad and brother served, and whose grandfather served and is buried at Arlington not far from JFK; my own dear friend, Dan Sweeney, who died and was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery… This story, this subject and the unselfish act by a man who came to inspire a nation, turning a surplus of wreaths into an unstoppable movement of honor and dedication; of volunteers, some veterans, many not, working for one common noble experience… Well folks, though not a military veteran myself, as a retired Trooper, bearing witness to greatness, never ever gets old…it is what will always make us the best!

Remember, Honor, and Teach… Remembering our fallen heroes, honoring those who serve, and teaching our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families.

Norwich JYSEP Dedicates Stairway Mural

Story & photos

by Barbara Park

On a seasonable and chilly December Sunday, Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program (JYSEP) members and their mentors dedicated their recently completed stairway mural at 77 Main Street in Norwich. “Peacock Alley” features a beautiful peacock designed by New London artist Gordon Arzu that stretches the height of the forty-five stairs that connect Water Street to Main Street.

The Norwich Community Development Corporation (NCDC) gave the go-ahead for JYSEP to paint the mural, a project that took almost three months. JYSEP members including Jennifer Moreria, Claire Val-Files, Z’Anna Phillips, and Ivana Etienne, spent four weekends painting the initial base of white paint, and then laid in areas that are one color. The finished work includes bright and dark blues, vivid green, and orange. Detail work was completed by Gordon Arzu and Stephanie Fielding, secretary of the NCDC Board of Directors and an “animator” of the JYSEP Sandy Lane group, which has membership for ages 11-14 and meets every Sunday. The group is sponsored by Bahá’ís of Norwich, and mural funds came from the Regional Bahá’í Council and donations.

Stephanie describes the process as “more difficult than we thought it would be when we started. Keeping the lines from one step to the next required one person to be at the bottom of the stairs directing and another at the top drawing the lines.” The peacock is meant to symbolize “justice and integrity,” Stephanie says. JYSEP members at the dedication ceremony say that they see “art [as a way] to express our feelings” and tell people about the service project that adds welcome flair to Norwich’s historic downtown.

JYSEP “animators” Shelley Rothman, Ben Jacobowitz, Judith Post, and Stephanie Fielding accompanied the youth group kids to a pizza party at LaStella’s, up the street from the mural, as guests of the NCDC after the dedication ceremony.

The Resident 12-10-14 Issue

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