Tag Archives: New London

A Tale of Angels in Real Life

story & photo
by Jon Persson

(l-r) Sam Linder, New London Lions Club; Kelly Horton, Vice President, Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor/Food Center; Gemma Moran; and Tom Santos, New London Lions Club, celebrate major donation.

(l-r) Sam Linder, New London Lions Club; Kelly Horton, Vice President, Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor/Food Center; Gemma Moran; and Tom Santos, New London Lions Club, celebrate major donation.

“There is a band of angels in New London,” declares Gemma Moran, as members of the New London Lions Club unload a donation of $2600 worth of food at the center which bears her name.

The food, paid for with a grant from the International Lions Club, replaces supplies lost or depleted as a result of superstorm Sandy. Waterford’s ShopRite has helped stretch the donation dollars, contributing a discount on the usual pricing of the food. It is a continuation of a mission started years ago by the self-effacing Gemma, and which culminated in the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center in New London.

How much did the dollars stretch?

“Don’t mention me, mention the volunteers!” Gemma urges. “The most important thing is to thank everyone.” She rattles off the numbers for which the many volunteers and donors have been responsible in 2012: the 2,163,000 pounds of food delivered in 2,500 supply trips to 96 food pantries and soup kitchens across southeastern Connecticut.

Thanking the volunteers for their work is “the greatest respect and love I can give them,” says Gemma.

Indeed, the volunteer Lions and regular Center crew move with great energy and purpose, offloading the supplies from a box truck in pallet-loads, quickly moving perishables to the Center’s refrigerator-freezer. Greetings, resplendent with obvious affection, are offered throughout. During a brief pause, Sam Linder, president of the New London Lions, calls the gathering together with the admonition, “Gemma is going to tell a story.”

Then, as the audience listens with anticipation for some great wisdom or historic insight, Gemma proceeds to tell a joke from her days years ago in Boston. The twinkling eyes reveal a reason she has lived so well—into her 88th year.
It’s an active place. In the lounge area of the Center, volunteers from the Sprague Community Center and the New London Food Pantry wait for their turn to load their trucks with food supplies for the coming days. At the Sprague Center, some 200 people receive assistance on a regular basis; Outreach Coordinator Brenda Keefe says that “all are welcome” though they have a special emphasis on helping the working poor, who at times live outside of the public assistance system.

Gene Stringham of the New London Food Pantry says that they work on a voucher system to gain eligibility for Federal food assistance. “I’ll tell you how it began,” says Gemma, after the work is done.  “My job was to service the poor” in the union where she worked, when someone was in trouble they said, “Call Gemma!” One day a mother with two young daughters came to her office; Gemma asked what they needed, and one young daughter said, “Mommy’s got nothing in the refrigerator.”

“I decided something had to be done,” says Gemma. The United Way was offering Venture Grants, and Gemma was able to procure $5,000. The State gave her use of an old garage at Uncas-on-Thames hospital—and soon Gemma and her volunteers were supplying food to five local food pantries.

Today the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center is housed in a sizable warehouse located at 374 Broad Street near downtown New London.

The original five pantries are now 96 soup kitchens and pantries,  and donations are moved in and out by volunteers and a devoted staff. It is a calling heard from many quarters—professional, social, or spiritual—answering Gemma’s admonition, “You only get out of life what you put into it.”

There is a band of angels at work in the New London community; Gemma Moran is watching over them.

New Londoners Offer a Moving Remembrance for the Homeless

story & photo
by Jon Persson

Laura Edelstein, Volunteer Coordinator at the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, organized the Homeless Memorial on December 21st, in conjunction with National Homeless Memorial Day.

Laura Edelstein, Volunteer Coordinator at the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, organized the Homeless Memorial on December 21st, in conjunction with National Homeless Memorial Day.

The homeless of New London are safe from the sting of winter on the longest night of 2012, a fulfilled mission for the St. James and Covenant Shelters of this city that reaches into the new year. Yet on this chill night people gather at All Souls Church to remember 38 of the homeless who have passed, often too soon, from this life. It is a remembrance of the lives, and of the conditions of life, which contributed to their early passing. In the audience are homeless—and former homeless—as well as staff and volunteers from the shelters, the supporters and leaders, most of whom count friends among the deceased.

Two of these friends had died while in their tents, on the bitter nights of the 2006 winter. Their loss was the trigger for an increased effort in the city to seek out the unsheltered and offer them the security of a warm place to sleep. The group has found that there are many causes of homelessness, and thus many solutions are called for.

Susie Hermanson, a frequent presence at the Homeless Hospitality Center, leads the evening’s ceremonies, which are a mix of prayer and response, performances of songs by James Taylor and John Lennon, candles, and a moment of silence. Ron Steed offers a  reflection on the damaging effects of homelessness on health, and the illnesses made worse by lack of rest ad respite. Laura Edelstein, organizer of this memorial and of volunteers at the Hospitality Center, reads an appreciation of the many volunteers who make the center possible.

A darkened hallway, lit only by the light of electric candles, leads to the chapel where the memorial takes place.  Outside, along the Jay Street sidewalks, 38 winter hats adorn candy-cane stakes, each bearing the name of a New London homeless person who has passed since 2006.

Yet at the reading of the names of those who have passed, there is a fresh poignancy: a 39th name is added to the list—Brian Ash, 32 years old, a young man of gracious heart and noble spirit, lost his personal battle for life in the early morning hours of this very day, the shortest of 2012.

New Dime Bank ATM Dedicated

(l-r) Richard Virgin, General Manager of Fiddleheads; Nicholas Caplanson, President of Dime Bank; and Tony Sheridan of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, look on as Susan Zimmerman, President of Fiddleheads cuts the ribbon to dedicate a new ATM at the New London organic, fair trade grocery store.

(l-r) Richard Virgin, General Manager of Fiddleheads; Nicholas Caplanson, President of Dime Bank; and Tony Sheridan of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, look on as Susan Zimmerman, President of Fiddleheads cuts the ribbon to dedicate a new ATM at the New London organic, fair trade grocery store.

story & photo
by Jon Persson

Organic groceries now have a new friend at Fiddleheads in New London.  On December 1, Dime Bank officers dedicated a new ATM inside the organic, fair-trade grocery cooperative which for five years has anchored a movement to bring green economics to New London.

The new ATM merges two elements of society and economics; the traditional bank and the New Age, “locavore” grocery store.

Richard Virgin, General Manager at Fiddleheads, explains that this is an important measure of progress in the long-term mission of bringing healthy diets to an urban setting. It’s especially true when the store hosts such events as farmers’ markets, says Richard, where vendors might not be able to accept credit or debit cards.

Making healthy food choices available in urban centers, which some refer to as “food deserts,” is a vital part of improving the health of Americans in our cities. It is also still not a part of mainstream American life, says Richard. He cites a recent report by the Connecticut government identifying ten places to buy food in downtown New London—all were convenience stores, while Fiddleheads, the purveyor of local, organic, fresh, and fair trade foodstuffs, did not garner a mention.

But, Richard recounts, the new ATM is one more step in a process which brings Fiddleheads into the fast-moving present day. While the uniqueness of the store is a throwback to earlier, simpler, more “localized” times, Dime Bank’s ATM brings an element of mainstream technology to the evolving cooperative.

Ryan and Gladstone Lead Wireless Zone Stores to Success

by John Stratton

(l-r) Josh Carroll, sales associate, Wallingford location, Scott Gladstone, owner, Wireless Zone,  Matthew Schloemann, sales associate, Guilford location, Neil Ryan, owner, Wireless Zone, and James Stack, sales associate, New London location.

(l-r) Josh Carroll, sales associate, Wallingford location, Scott Gladstone, owner, Wireless Zone, Matthew Schloemann, sales associate, Guilford location, Neil Ryan, owner, Wireless Zone, and James Stack, sales associate, New London location.

We’ve all been living in the middle of a technological revolution for the past few decades, and for most of us that’s been a very good thing—except for the confusing onrush of new capabilities and “apps” for that powerful little cellphone that we carry. In fact, the phone is so powerful that we often can’t decide what, exactly, are the best choices for our own lives.
But there are those who are there to help us sort it all out.

For the two founders of Wireless Zone stores in eastern and southern ConnecticutNeil Ryan and Scott Gladstone—it’s definitely not a “one size fits all” business. For the past 20 years, they’ve built a reputation for both keeping abreast of technology for business-to-business service, as well as, providing up-front, face-to-face service to everyday cellphone users.  In fact, that service is what made them a success.

“Yes, the technology moves fast,” says Neil, “but Wireless Zone is there to make that technology available to real people to improve their real lives…by getting to know what those lives are all about.”

Scott adds that, “From Day One, we were very fortunate that we had a ‘customer-centric’ philosophy, building on referrals, involving ourselves in the community, and separating ourselves from our competitors.”

It was a lot of work, though, and involved a commitment to an opportunity that they jumped at in 1992, when Scott called Neil and said that they could collaborate in a then-emerging business. The two had been friends since freshman orientation at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. Both were business majors; after graduation, Scott became involved in the car phone business… and he saw prospects for exciting growth. Neil plunged right in, and they both moved to southeastern Connecticut, with few contacts here other than a strong faith in the lifestyles of the communities around them—and in the Wireless Zone concept, which was part of the burgeoning Verizon system. They opened their first Wireless Zone in Groton, and now have ten stores with skilled, people-oriented personnel.

In those earliest days, Wireless Zone stores were about “car phones,” those gee-whiz features in the cars of traveling industrial representatives and busy business people whose office was effectively within their vehicle. Today, cell phones are everywhere, on every belt and in every handbag.

It’s hard to live without them, since they’ve grown far beyond voice communication into powerful computers with links to the Internet and hundreds of thousands of functions available. “It’s a remote control to the world,” Neil observes. As that “remote” increases in flexibility, though, understanding it becomes crucial.

“My view,” said Scott, “is that we are not a ‘box-store’ experience, selling a device and then charging you to set it up. We spend a lot of time to be sure that our team members know how to transfer data, emails, and applications for customers, so that the customer is confident in the phone’s use and potential.  And we are there at no charge if they have questions or are looking for suggestions.”

Neil cites a contractor who came in recently, wanting a new phone. “We were able to show him how a new application can scan a room and help to provide working drawings, measure studs, locate key structures. We do it all: set up, load, train, transfer data, handle everything in the transition. What’s cool is that we can save them money, too!”

Celebrating 20 Years of Wireless Zone Communications: On the 20th Anniversary guest list were Amara Alpert and Kitty Stalsburg, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding; Nancy and Bob Gentes, Madonna Place; Denise & Jeffrey Hawk, Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut; Bill Stanley and Karen Buck, L+M Hospital; Shawn Maynard, Thomas Birkenholz, and Kathy Gaito, Windham Hospital; Denise and Bob Hornbecker, Channel 3 Kids Camp; Make-a-Wish Foundation; Kathy and Lou Allen, Thames River Community Services; Jerry Fischer and Marcia Reinhard, Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut; and Lucy and Gerry Fortier, Brattleboro Area Drop In.

Celebrating 20 Years of Wireless Zone Communications: On the 20th Anniversary guest list were Amara Alpert and Kitty Stalsburg, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding; Nancy and Bob Gentes, Madonna Place; Denise & Jeffrey Hawk, Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut; Bill Stanley and Karen Buck, L+M Hospital; Shawn Maynard, Thomas Birkenholz, and Kathy Gaito, Windham Hospital; Denise and Bob Hornbecker, Channel 3 Kids Camp; Make-a-Wish Foundation; Kathy and Lou Allen, Thames River Community Services; Jerry Fischer and Marcia Reinhard, Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut; and Lucy and Gerry Fortier, Brattleboro Area Drop In.

“With our customers,” Neil adds, “it’s an interview process, to give them a better mobile experience and help them grow into its possibilities. We do tons of education; it’s free; it’s enjoyable; it comes to us naturally.”

They are continuing to seek expansion beyond their present stores in Groton, New London, Killingly, Branford, Guilford, Wallingford, North Windham, Putnam, Tolland…and Brattleboro, Vermont.  But a key is the staff, Scott asserts. “We keep our ears to the ground to find good people who are available,” he says, “so we can train, educate, and instill them with our customer-oriented values.”

The future of mobile computing and cellphones is ever-changing, said Neil, but he sees rapid increases in “machine-to-machine” connections that will keep homeowners in closer control of their home devices of all kinds; likewise, he sees ever more expansion of cellphones as means to manage home and personal finances.

Wireless Zone is very involved in community support with at least 50 organizations, notably the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, Waterford Country School, Madonna Place, and Thames Valley Community Services. The nonprofit donations can range from $1,000 to $30,000.

Neil, originally from Port Jefferson, Long Island lives in Stonington with his 10-year old son, Jack; and Scott is a Waterford resident with his wife, Simone, and children Shayna, 8, and Travis, 11.

“We’re fortunate, Scott reflects, “that the community was so receptive, and we want to always exceed people’s expectations for us.”

Resident Birthday: Al Klingerman’s 90th Birthday Party

Columbus Day weekend in San Juan, PR at Al Klingerman’s 90th Birthday party. Al is the owner of Klingerman Travel Agency in New London Conn. (l-r) Roland Oullette of Groton, Bob O’Shaughnessy of Mystic, Al Klingerman, and Bob Offen of Mystic.

Positive Testimony Marks Prison Awareness Gathering at Shiloh

(l-r) Kimberly Haugabook, Annita Harris, Wanda Short, Trenton Phillips, Daryl Finizio, Mayor of New London, Taja Miller, Winston Taylor, James Miller, Jr.

by Jon Persson

America, bastion of freedoms unknown in many lands, has a higher percentage of incarcerated citizens than in any other land. This stark statistic—and the many sad stories it represents—represents the calling to which Winston Taylor of New London’s Shiloh Baptist Church has been drawn. For  3½ hours at his Prison Awareness and Prevention Gathering on October 27, testimonials, presentations, displays, and a video bring to light the price of prison and the power of positive choice in the lives of young people.

This is the second year Winston has hosted this event, which is an extension—and a hoped-for alternative—to his ongoing prison ministry.

“The overarching theme,” says Winston, “is to raise awareness of the social and spiritual needs of offenders, ex-offenders, and persons affected by incarceration.” He goes on to say that the gathering, and his ministry, have as their aim to “identify ways to keep kids safe in the community,” and to “engage law enforcement personnel to improve relations and partnering to prevent crime.” A further objective is to “recognize correctional and law enforcement personnel” for particular excellence in service to the community.

Yet the most prescient attendees are the young people; emcees Trenton Phillips and Taja Miller, 10th and 8th graders respectively, and 7th grade speaker James Miller. Their generation’s leadership will help end crime and incarceration.

Betty Beekman, Executive Director of the National Theatre of the Deaf.

Theatre of the Deaf Returns

Betty Beekman, Executive Director of the National Theatre of the Deaf.

The world-famous National Theatre of the Deaf has appointed a theatre veteran as its new executive director and has opened its a new main office in New London at Monte Cristo Cottage, the former summer home of playwright Eugene O’Neill. The group’s drama activity will be centered at the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Theater Center in Waterford, where NTD began in 1967.

From 1983 until this year, the group was based in Chester with another office in West Hartford at the American School for the Deaf.

Dr. Harvey J. Corson, chairperson of the NTD Board of Trustees, announced that the board selected Betty Beekman as the new Executive Director effective July 1. Beekman has been serving as interim executive director during the past, transitional year.

“The NTD board is delighted that such an experienced, talented and dedicated theatre professional as Betty is now officially leading our cherished organization,” said Corson.  “She proved herself during the past year by increasing the quality of our theatrical performances, increasing the number of bookings, and bringing back some of the ‘magic’ the NTD displayed during its best eras.”

Beekman, a child of deaf adults, has played a key role in many creative areas and as part of the NTD management team.

“I am excited about the opportunities we see for NTD to bring its unique brand of entertainment and enlightenment to more audiences, deaf and hearing alike,” Beekman said.  “We certainly believe that as an acting troupe dedicated to audiences ‘seeing and hearing’ our plays and performances, and the surge of interest in sign language in primary, secondary, and college venues provides us with a bright future.”

During the time that NTD was based in Chester, she was responsible for the community sign-language program and also created curriculum, taught courses, and performed workshops at several colleges and universities. Over the years, the NTD deaf and hearing actors and actresses, directors, and cast members have created a new dramatic art form, coupling both the eye and the ear.

Beekman developed and directed Stories In My Pocket and Stories In My Pocket Too for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 national tours of the Little Theatre of the Deaf.  She recently directed the piece performed by LTD in their appearance on the BBC “Planet Word” as well as directing a piece for the 2011 Lincoln Center Summer Festival.  She taught sign language techniques at the NTD Professional Theatre School.

For more information about NTD/LTD log on to www.ntd.org

Art Costa: Building Resilience Into New London’s Economy

by Jon Persson

A new bookcase at the New London Library, a gift of the Thames Valley Sustainable Connection, carries messages. On its shelves are books—also gifts from the TVSC—about sustainable communities, local food supplies, energy conservation, carbon-footprint reduction, and more.

The objective is to educate people about the advantages inherent in a movement to buy local, farm local, and conserve energy—and thereby build sustainable and prosperous communities. New London has within its business sector an emerging and increasingly successful component working hard to help transform this small city into a healthy place for people and businesses.

Art Costa, president of the Thames Valley Sustainable Connection and also of the New London Local First organization says the TVSC’s goal is to build a “local economy that is resilient” and not at the mercy of “up and down cycles” of the global economy.

“New London is not part of the global economy” Art explained, because the city is “dependent on imports” and does not export to the outside world. When people buy imported products,  “much of their money simply leaves New London and goes to large corporations and even other countries.” For example, if one spends a dollar at a locally owned business, .68 cents will remain within the local economy, while a dollar spent at a chain store sees .57 cents leave the local economy entirely.

But by purchasing locally made (and grown) items, he emphasizes, a series of positive effects are set in motion which help create prosperity and resilience. “More of your money stays in the area” Art continues, “creating more local jobs,” which will stay in the area year after year. And, “buying local and regional” products, most notably foods, “lessens the energy use and carbon footprint” of purchasing food and other products.

To achieve this end, New London now has two farmers’ markets, Fields of Greens on the Parade Plaza (Fridays, on State Street) and Field of Greens at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital (Wednesdays). These provide a convenient and carbon-efficient connection between local shoppers and regional farmers.

Art is aware that New London is not capable of being completely independent economically, which has expanded his attention to include both regional and local sources. Keeping people’s purchasing choices generally in the area helps everyone by maintaining the economic resilience Art repeatedly stresses.

Community Supported Agriculture, where people buy a share of future harvests from a local farmer, is yet another way that consumers may focus their purchasing power. “Farmers use this money to buy seeds and pay other expenses,” while investors receive fresh produce as it is harvested in return, Art said. New London Field of Greens has been acting as a drop-off place for these small-scale programs, something he hopes to see expand in the future.

There is power in the “small” as well as the “big,” he stresses. Art and his organizations are also working to bring local investors and small businesses together. He points out that attracting big corporations  for the sake of bringing jobs to the area “costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per job” while small businesses create jobs for a fraction of that cost. And, small businesses tend to stay in the area, again adding resilience to the local economy. Big corporations “think globally and not locally” and tend to “pull up and go anywhere cheaper,” leaving economic devastation behind.

New London Local First, which presently has over a hundred local business members, offers as an added incentive—a “$hare” card, available for $10. Holders of the $hare card are eligible for discounts on products and services from participating businesses, and cards remain valid throughout the calendar year….another real-life example of how the organizations headed by Art are working to build a strong local economy.

Information about the organizations of which Art Costa is president and co-chair may be found at: www.newlondonlocalfirst.org; www.newlondonfieldofgreens.org; and, www.greaternewlondonfarmtocity.org. Details about member businesses, the $hare Card, and more may be accessed at these sites.

Dear Neighbor of Southeastern CT & Southern RI,

Join us at the Senior Center and you will find everything under the sun for those 55 and older.  There is a wide selection of classes and programs to choose from.   Our monthly LIFELINES newsletter lists the many programs and services available. We offer programs from Fitness and Cards to Computers and Wii bowling. Here is a quick summary of what you can expect in the next few months:

August:  The Dick Campo Big Band will entertain on Friday, August 8 at the Groton Municipal Building.  Open to all ages. Registration for fall classes will begin in the mid-month.  The Senior Club Luau will be on August 12.  Baby Boomers A to Z will present “H is for Housing”. Or join us for Waterfires in Providence, RI.

September: Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will be speaking on Identity Theft at the Groton Inn & Suites as our “I” in the Baby Boomer A to Z program. All are welcome. Try a trip to the Putney Inn and see the Friesians of Majesty (Vermont’s answer to the Lipizzaner Stallions)

October: Start your month out with a free day in New York City on Oct. 4 or join us for a trip to see the races at Suffolk Downs on Oct.8.  Baby Boomer A to Z will be “Jobs: Redefining Retirement”.

November:  Look for our annual Thanksgiving Luncheon on Nov. 18.  Don’t want to go all the way to NYC to see the Macy’s parade? Take a trip to see the giant balloons before they head to the parade on Nov. 23.  Baby Boomer A to Z will be “Keys to Safe Driving”.

December:  Bring your family to the Santa Breakfast sponsored by the Senior Club.  Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be making an appearance for pictures with the kids.  Join us for the US Coast Guard Band’s annual concert in New London.  Senior Club holiday luncheon at the Groton Inn & Suites.  Baby Boomer A to Z will be “Leisure”.

There are so many more exciting things happening under the sun.  They include Computer classes (just drop in), trips to the Rose Parade, Alaska, Savana/Charleston, and the Imperial Cities of Prague, Vienna and Budapest. We also provide transportation to medical appointments, shopping, the bank and the center if you don’t drive.  We’re here to serve you.  Come check us out!  For more information, call 860.441.6785.

There’s a World of Possibilities at the Groton Senior Center!

Mary Jo Riley
Groton Senior Center

Jeremy Powers Pro Bike Rider at Whaling City Cyclone Bike Race

story & photos
by Maren Schober

Jeremy Powers, 24, of Hadley, MA, a professional cyclist since 2004, was selected for the Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team.  Since turning professional, he competed in bike races all over the world and represented the US in many cycling events.

It all started right here, in Niantic, paling around with his school buddies after school! “I grew up in Niantic, and during junior  and senior  high school my friends and I would go mountain biking,” Jeremy explains to me.  “I grew to love this sport and now it is my passion.”

Today, June 22, Jeremy is competing in the inaugural Whaling City Cyclone Bicycle Race at Fort Trumbull, New London.  This is his first time racing in his home area.  Today he departs momentarily from his Pro Team to give back to the community.

“My mom and dad both work in New London,” Jeremy tells me, “and I wanted to do something to benefit my own community.  This race is being held to benefit the Heavy Hitters Gym in New London and the Bikes for Kids of Southeastern CT.  Both these organizations help underprivileged kids.” Jeremy’s mom and dad are on hand at this race in support of Jeremy.  His dad is operating the ice cream truck, and his mom is handing out samples of Jelly Belly beans.

“Try the pomegranate flavor”, she urges me.  “It is delicious.” She is right.  The Jelly Belly jelly beans can be found in our local convenient stores.  Jelly bean fans will want to check them out.

“The Jelly Belly Candy Company in Fairfield, CA is the main sponsor of my cycling team,” Jeremy declares.  “Our outfits, shorts and jerseys, are designed by Jelly Belly to really stand out, to be fun and different.  The company helps us in many ways, including financially.”

Indeed, Jeremy is a colorful sight as he stands before me in his white long sleeved shirt designed with multicolored jelly beans sprinkled all over it.

The race course is a one kilometer course on Fort Trumbull.  The circuit includes six turns per lap, and great views of the New London waterfront and Bank Street as a back drop.  The race distance is 50 miles.

Jeremy is racing with 67 other bicycle riders in the Pro 1,2, 3 class race that starts at 3:00 pm.  It is a truly awesome sight to see so many bike riders whizzing by at about 32 miles an hour.

We all need to think of alternatives to driving our cars these days, and these men are showing us the way!

Jeremy placed seventh in this race, and we are all proud of him.  May he continue to follow his passion with pride and success.

Thames River State Boat Launch Closed for Rennovations

The CT Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will be temporarily closing the Thames River State Boat Launch in New London for renovations. The closure will be effective July 14, 2008 through August 28, 2008 while the State boat launch is being renovated.

Renovations to the Thames River State Boat Launch will include:

• Boat Ramp – installing a new ramp of pre-cast concrete, with a grooved surface

• Ramp Sides and Bottom – installing an interconnecting concrete block apron on the sides and bottom of the ramp to prevent erosion.

“The ramp replacement, which will be completed this summer, will improve boating operations and facilitate the safe and efficient launching and retrieval of boats,” said Eleanor Mariani, DEP’s Boating Division.

While the renovations are taking place, the public can utilize the following boat launches in the area: Dock Road in Waterford, and the K.E. Streeter and Bayberry Lane boat launches, both in Groton.

For additional state owned boat launches see the CT Boater’s Guide or visit www.ct.gov/dep

Tour de France Winner Visits Fort Trumbull to Promote Bicycling

story & photo
by Harrison Lees

It was a unique sight for Fort Trumbull State Park, and for New London. On Thursday, May 22nd, three time Tour de France winner, Greg LeMond, cycled around the fort, followed by a closely packed group of cyclists. Greg, who won the Tour in 1986, 1989 and 1990, was in New London with his old coach Bill Humphreys, Bike Guy LLC, and a large group of junior cyclists from the Mystic Velo Club to promote bicycling in the area and The Whaling City Cyclone Bicycle Race scheduled for June 22nd. Also at the fort were representatives from Dime Bank, a major sponsor of the race, and Dr. Chris Connaughty of Connaughty Chiropractics Center, sponsor of the Mystic Velo Junior Team.

Bill is sure that New London can become a cycling friendly community. He says that this race will have a “trickle-down effect” that will kick off an interest in cycling and it’s benefits. He says that before long, one could see rental bikes and paths ready for people coming off the ferry at the pier. Bill sees this not only because of the race and the cycling prestige it will bring to New London, but also because the area of Southeastern CT has “some of the most beautiful places to bike in the US.”

“Cycling is a sport for life,” Greg stated, saying that once one gets into it, it’s the kind of thing one sticks with. He mentioned how healthy cycling is, as it works against obesity and type-two diabetes. It is also a very mainstream sport and, as Greg put it, the “main form of fundraising.” This is because of its universal appeal since nearly anyone can partake. “Even someone not necessarily in shape can still ride and participate.” Greg explained this by saying that biking supports one’s weight and thus makes it easier to get into shape, adding that biking has to be “more than just for racing.”

When asked about the Fort Trumbull site, Greg said that it was “a nice spot for a race” – an “American style” race, to be specific. According to Greg, the most popular form of bike racing in the US is Criterium Racing as opposed to Exhibition Racing which is more popular in Europe. Exhibition Racing is normally held on long circuits and can last for several days or weeks at a time. Criterium Racing involves short circuits, usually less than five kilometers, and is more likely to be seen in city streets, which suits the roads around Fort Trumbull nicely. He said that this style of racing was best for developing racers and people who are just getting used to the sport.

The race itself will be held on June 22nd and will have several categories for racers of different ages and abilities. The race lengths will be from 15, 24, 35, and 50 miles long, 15 miles being 24 laps and 50 miles being 80 laps. For a nominal fee, bikers can enter for a chance to win cash prizes between $300 to $2,000. “People will be all over Fort Trumbull,” Bill said, saying that he expects approximately 500 racers to enter.
Before taking off on his final round through Trumbull, Greg said, “cycling is really the sport of the future,” even though the technology of the sport has not drastically changed, the “future is to have more bikes for transportation.” Bill added that he was “one phone call away from getting European, Dutch, and Haitian teams” out to the Trumbull track. With these kind of prospects, it looks like New London will soon have another attraction to add to its growing global stature.