newsandviewsjb

NEWS&VIEWS by Jacqueline Bennett

Donation Weary? Here’s An Idea

Posted on December 9, 2017

My sister’s downstairs workshop where she creates holiday pine sprays adding ribbons and small decorations.

Article & Photo By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Recently, I overheard a conversation while at McDonalds about donation fatigue. The exchange was about the seemingly constant request for donations – so much so that it had negatively affected the desire for these folks to toss coins into the Salvation Army buckets, that are a part of the Christmas season landscape.

 

Granted it does seem as if the requests are endless – everywhere one goes – from the grocery store (where any number of families may be putting nickels together to place food on their own tables) to newscasts asking viewers to help with collection drives. Last year near where I live, an enormous and certainly costly light display by a private resident, added a request for donations of  non-perishables for those who came by to look at the set-up.

 

With the number of natural disasters that have plagued folks all over the United States through 2017, the needs keep growing – far  beyond the annual holiday toy drives, coat drives and red bucket drives. There are many worthy causes and much genuine need.

 

With that in mind, here’s a simple idea to help avoid donation weariness. Wish those in a position to do more well. Then pick one or two charities and make a small donation of money or items. Or, give the most precious gift there is – give of yourself. Bake cookies to send to our troops or volunteer to read to children. Each Christmas my sister Candy creates her own holiday sprays to place on family member’s graves, as well as, a few graves of strangers that would otherwise go unnoticed. She turns her downstairs into a holiday workshop – it has a wonderful pine scent aroma -then puts together her own sprays with ribbons & small decorations. It is a beautiful gift of love – done quietly without fanfare.

 

Rather than allowing yourself to become donation weary, do something meaningful to you. Consider making it part of your holiday traditions.

 

Appreciation for “State Electric Corp.” Mutual Aid Utility Crew Out of Boston & Navy Seabee Memory

Posted on November 5, 2017

Courtesy photo by Lance Bennett as posted on Facebook.

 

Commentary by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Having a lineman in the family we are keenly aware of what it means for these folks to be called to serve on mutual aid crews out-of-state away from their families, for days, sometimes weeks at a time, working long hours often in dangerous weather conditions. With that in mind, the Bennetts would like to express our appreciation to a State Electric Corporation crew out of Boston, Massachusetts which restored power to relatives in Windham, Connecticut.  

 

Due to the effects of the recent storm which brought high winds and heavy rain that caused downed tree limbs and downed electrical lines, our Windham relatives were without electrical power for four days. Thankfully, they had water, a fireplace for warmth and a battery-operated radio to listen to the World Series. Nonetheless, as anyone who has been without power knows,  even a few hours can feel like life in an alternate universe – let alone the misery of being without power for days.

 

The arrival of this approximate 8-man crew from Boston was a sight for sore eyes I’m told. They are said to have worked diligently and provided cordial and accurate communication for the neighborhood. Since a transformer had to be replaced they left briefly to pick up needed apparatus but returned, as promised, in a timely manner to get the job done.

 

Their ‘drop the r’ Boston accents brought back memories of our Uncle Dick Kaine, who coincidently before his passing several years ago, had been a chief electrician for Boston Con Edison. Now is that coincidence or did the spirit of Uncle Dick send his Boston colleagues to the rescue? We wonder… 

 

W.W. II Seabee recruitment poster (Wikipedia).

 

Readers who follow newsandviewsjb may remember that for Veterans Day observances – coming up on November 11 – I have highlighted family members who served in the military. I want to make note that Uncle Dick – who was married to my father’s sister, my Aunt June – served as a U.S. Navy Seabee during World War II. Online sources explain Seabees were construction battalions for the Civil Engineering Corps, recruited by the United States Navy. They were “skilled construction workers” needed to build naval bases in “theatres of war.”  Some 325,000 Seabees were recruited says Wikipedia. Our Uncle Dick was one of them.

 

Although the role of Seabees was initially to be construction, as my older brother said was told to him, that changed as a result of the circumstances of war. Eventually he said, Seabees often worked “with a rifle slung over one shoulder and an equipment belt slung over the other.”

 

 

So, the Bennetts are sending along an enormous “thank you” to the State Electric Corp. crew for their obvious “strong American work ethic”, a job well-done, and for the reminiscing they stirred of our Uncle Dick Kaine.

 

___________________

Should you lose power here are a few tips published by our in-state utility:

  • If you must drive – never drive over downed power lines
  • Treat all non-working traffic lights as stop signs
  • Once power is restored, power-up slowly turning on one item at time to avoid a power surge

Destination: Sofia’s Italian Restaurant in East Windsor, Connecticut

Posted on October 25, 2017

Sofia’s Restaurant in East Windsor, CT.

Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Sofia’s Restaurant in East Windsor, Connecticut had been a place I went fairly often 5-10 years past. For no special reason that changed. A few weeks ago, by invitation I returned. Set on a hilltop intersection, Sofia’s remains popular.

 

The middle dining area now includes a bar located in the rear and lighting is dimmer.

 

 

 

The exterior had been under renovation the last time I was here and is now complete. The interior has also undergone change. Three side-by-side dining sections have booths and tables, however the middle section now includes a bar located at the rear of the space. Lighting in this section seems dimmer which I prefer. Large screen televisions have been added to give a sports bar feel, and on this day they were tuned to a New England Patriots game. Go Pats! Upon entering Sofia’s, the first section leads to a busy pick-up counter; the cooks can be seen preparing pizza and more.

 

 

We were seated in the third section where light streams in from large picture-style windows. Excessive light is not my pleasure so the server accommodated a request to close the blinds nearest to us. A small banquet room is still in the far right back of the restaurant and was in use.

 

Giving it a retro feel, when I first discovered Sofia’s each booth had small jukeboxes. As they seem to be from most gathering spots these days, the jukeboxes are gone. It is a shame “Generation Z” – those born post-Millenials, post-GenX and post-Boomers – will never know the fun of crowding into a booth on a Friday night with friends as everyone lines up quarters to feed a hungry jukebox, then waiting to hear your song selection. Back in the day it was known I would be looking for the buttons to press to hear Lionel Richie’s “Truly.” But I digress.

A sprinkle of Parmesan and the house dressing.

 

 

 

 

The menu is much the same as I remembered it to be with a large number of choices. They have dinners – pasta, chicken, fish as well as grinders, sandwiches, burgers, salad plates, pizzas, appetizers and desserts. Almost immediately after we ordered our entrees, a basket of warm rolls was served. From a choice of soup or salad with dinner, salads topped with the House Italian dressing were chosen. The salad was as tasty as ever. I sprinkled Parmesan cheese over mine which made for the perfect extra flavor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So good, a generous portion of sea scallops.

Great reviews for the Baked Manicotti.

Broccoli & spinach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do not profess to be a food critic able to detect every nuance of seasoning. What I can say is that the main dishes we ordered were excellent -generous portions of sea scallops and stuffed manicotti served piping hot. The menu also has smaller portion offerings available to children and seniors. Dessert selections appeared to be fewer than before but it was a moot point because we opted not to order dessert.

 

Sofia’s remains conducive to conversation and good eating. Sofia’s is back on my radar!

 

Sofia’s Italian Restaurant, 136 Prospect Hill Road, East Windsor CT,06088, 860-623-9477  http://www.sofiasrestaurant.com

 

New Animal Shelter Reflects Humanity of Windsor, CT Community

Posted on October 10, 2017

Ribbon-cutting ceremony held Saturday, October 7 for the new Animal Shelter in Windsor, Connecticut.

Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com 

 

Windsor, Connecticut’s new animal shelter is a reflection of the humanity of the Windsor community. Those words of praise were shared by State Rep. David Baram during the opening ceremony held October 7. He noted too, the project came in under budget.

Left to right: Debbie Samson, Mayor Doanld Trinks, State Rep. David Baram and Town Manager Peter Souza.

 

“How we treat animals is really a reflection of our society,” Baram told the crowd gathered for the event, “It is a window in to our humanity.”

Debbie Samson accepts a $550 check for the animal shelter from Joanne Verallis, on behalf of local dentist Steven Farley, an animal lover.

 

Mayor Donald Trinks, whose support for the project was cited as having turned the tide in its favor, said the credit should go to Debbie Samson, a founder of the non-profit “Friends of Windsor Animal Care & Control,” http://www.fowacc.org and other volunteers. They persisted, said Trinks, in appealing to local and state officials to build a new facility in town rather than pay kennel fees elsewhere, and then set out to get community backing. A one million cost was an obstacle until James Burke, town economic development director, secured a $990,000 grant for the project, added the mayor.

 

 

“Some may say ‘What’s the big deal, you’re giving them a space.’ Well – it is a big deal,” said Trinks, who humorously dubbed the day’s event “an unleashing ceremony.”

Donna from Pet Value, Bishop’s Corners West Hartford brought a donation … more to come, she said.

 

 

Trinks also thanked Bob Gustafson of the Windsor Public Building Commission. Gustafson, who is wrapping up thirty years of service to the PBC, visited animal shelters in other towns.

 

“Bob took this project on as a quest,” said Trinks, “This was a project that was going to get done.”

 

 

The cleanliness, order and amenities inside the shelter, such as a washer and dryer, were complimented by those who toured the shelter. The facility includes a dedicated cat area, an office for the animal control officer, a fenced in backyard where dogs can exercise and interact with potential adopters, and a shed for storage of pet foods and animal pantry supplies. The goal is for the animal shelter to be a stop on the road to adoption. It is off to a great start said Trinks, with all local dogs recently in need of forever homes having been adopted.

Another milestone, Bob Gustafson  marks the completion of 30 years of service on the Windsor Public Building Commission. Shown with his wife, son and daughter-in-law.

 

Al Simon, wrapping up 18 years of service on the Windsor Town Council.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The parcel of land where the animal shelter was built on 970 Marshal Phelps Road was a bequest to the town of Windsor circa the 1920s-1930s. Buzz began in town about the need for a new dog pound in 2002 but getting it done wasn’t easy, noted Samson.

 

“It’s been a long, hard road with constant help from Mayor Donald Trinks and Town Manager Peter Souza,” Samson said.

 

 

 

Windsor Town Manager Peter Souza has approved a project to build trails behind the animal shelter proposed by Ben Levesque of Boy Scout Troop 149. Next, the scout district must give a nod to the plans.

 

Souza has also given his approval to Ben Levesque, 16, of Boy Scout Troop 149 to build trails behind the animal shelter to enhance opportunities for the animals to get outdoors and exercise, and for potential adopters to share time with the animals. A student at Windsor High School, Levesque said he has approval from his troop leader and next needs a nod from the scout district.

 

A touching moment came with the delivery of a bench hand restored by Windsor resident Edward Cutler and placed outside the animal shelter in memory of the police K-9 dogs that served Windsor courageously, and have passed. Police Chief Donald Melanson and Capt. Tom Lepore helped unload the bench from Cutler’s pick-up truck. Placement of the bench was followed by the reading of a poem by Dept. Mayor Jody Terranova about the special relationships between police K-9 handlers and their partners.

 

“It means a great deal to the department, especially to the handlers,” LePore said of the bench.

 


Ed Cutler delivers the K-9 memorial bench with help from Windsor Police Chief Donald Melanson and Capt. Tom LePore.

 

Memorial bench honors Windsor, CT’s fallen K-9 police dogs. Shown left to right: Capt. Tom LePore,Councilman Ken Wilkos, Deb Samson, Ed Cutler, Peter Souza, Mayor Don Trinks, WPD K-9 handler Amy Fiano, State Rep. Tami Zawistowski, Chief Donald Melanson & Deputy Mayor Jody Terranova.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday WILI – Home to CT’s Longest Continuously Running Morning Show

Posted on October 5, 2017

WILI – Boom Box Parade 2014 Windham, Connecticut

 

Article & Photos By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Global broadcast is such an integral part of life in the 21st Century that is is easy to forget is was but a few decades ago that the broadcast industry was in its infancy. Today marks the 60th anniversary of the sign-on for WILI in Willimantic/Windham, Connecticut.

 

The radio station reports it welcomed listeners that morning with a pop favorite of 1957, “Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers. The lyrics of the tune reveal a more innocent time.

 

Tucked away in part of the Nutmeg State’s “Quiet Corner”, it is noteworthy that WILI is home to the “longest continuously running morning show” hosted by local radio personality, Wayne Norman. He began his career at the station in 1970. According to the WILI website, Norman has served as a color analyst for University of Connecticut basketball and football games since 1979, done play-by-play for Eastern Connecticut State University baseball, as well as, covering numerous American Legion and Windham High School games.

 

WILI is known too for its part in helping to preserve the town’s annual Fourth of July Parade.The station’s role in this tale of Yankee Ingenuity has been well-told by now, but is appropriate to repeat on this anniversary day. Circumstances were such that Willimantic/Windham was not going to be able to hold a Fourth of July Parade when the idea for a Boom Box Parade was presented. WILI would broadcast patriotic tunes and anyone interested in marching could do so while carrying a boom box tuned to WILI. The Boom Box Parade was a hit and has become a tradition.

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain Dairy milk takes part in the 2013 Boom Box Parade.

Hosmer Mountain soda.

The Chronicle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is a noteworthy aside that this small town in eastern Connectcut is home not only to a flourishing radio station, but also a university -ECSU – renown for having graduated some of Connecticut’s best teachers, and an increasing rarity – an independently owned newspaper called “The Chronicle”. In addition, the area is home to family businesses that have withstood the test of time and competition, such as Hosmer Mountain soda and Mountain Dairy milk.

 

Should the spirit move you today to step back in time, Wayne Norman is expected be play tunes from 1957 throughout the day and News Director Mike Morrisette will share 1957 news reports.

 

Take a listen to “Wake Up Little Susie” …

Disrespectful Not To Take the Field During National Anthem

Posted on September 25, 2017

Commentary by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Usually the morning after a win by the New England Patriots I am ecstatic, singing the praises of our quarterback. This morning I sing the praises of a man on a different team – Alejandro Villanueva.

 

When protests during the playing of the national anthem -“The Star-Spangled Banner”- began by National Football League players a year ago, as tough as it was to see, I said – “Either one believes in the First Amendment or one does not.” I do.

 

Our flag has endured through actual bombardments hence the words to that beautiful anthem – “Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there …” It has endured a Revolutionary War, a Civil War, foreign conflicts and domestic unrest. In my heart I believe it will continue to endure because it represents freedom – freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of the press.

 

That said, it is one thing for players to stand locked arm in arm as the national anthem is played, it is another thing for players to ‘take a knee’, it is yet another thing for players to raise a fist. However, it is beyond disrespectful for teams not to take the field during the playing of the national anthem. It is cowardly. We as Americans do not cower. We do not hide away in locker rooms or tunnels.

Despite the rest of his team remaining off the field yesterday as the national anthem played, Pittsburgh Steelers player Alejandro Villanueva stood outside near the tunnel hand over his heart. His action is even more meaningful upon learning that his coach would have preferred “100 percent participation” in what was described as the team’s choice not to take the field. 

 

Villanueva is a West Point graduate who played football for the Army Black Knights, reportedly he served three tours of duty in Afghanistan as a United States Army Ranger earning the Bronze Star for valor. Clearly he is a man of personal conviction, integrity and courage. Thank you Alejandro Villanueva for your service.

 

 

(Revision)

11th Tavern Trot Raises Another $65,000 For Alex’s Lemonade Stand

Posted on September 19, 2017

On your mark…. Runners prepare for the start of the 11th Annual Tavern Trot held Sept.17, 2017 in Windsor, CT 

Honoring America during the national anthem before the race got underway.

And they’re off…

 

Dressed for success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hailey Pinard 2017 Hometown Hero and Morgan Platt 2017 “In the Spirit of Alex Scott” award.

Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

The 11th Annual Tavern Trot raised another $65,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which is dedicated to pediatric cancer research. Hosted by the Union Street Tavern the event was held September 17 in Windsor, Connecticut under sunny skies with temperatures reaching the low 80 degrees.

 

Attracting 950 participants, a number up from 300 in year one, over eleven years the Tavern Trot has raised $300,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, according to Mike Deneen, part owner of the Union Street Tavern. That amount is part of $150 million the non-profit organization has raised for the cause since its inception, inspired by Alexandra Flynn Scott (1996-2004) who at age four while fighting neuroblastoma set up a lemonade stand outside her Connecticut home to raise money to help others with childhood cancer.

 

Accepting the check for $65,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation are Liz Scott, Alex’s mother, and Chris Pinard, father of Hailey who continues her battle with neuroblastoma. 

 

Courtesy photo Alexandra Flynn Scott (1996-2004)

“It’s really meaningful to see how it (Tavern Trot) has grown,” said Liz Scott, the mother of Alexandra Flynn Scott “Alex”.

 

Morgan Platt and her family of Avon, CT attended.

 

Mike Deneen, part owner of Union Street Tavern, addresses the crowd.

“Alex was the spark but so many have kept it going,”  she added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Among those in attendance were Chris Pinard, a Windsor volunteer firefighter who has also served in the Connecticut National Guard. Pinard’s daughter Hailey is battling neuroblastoma. He helped Liz Scott, who was originally from Windsor, accept the check for ALSF. Hailey Pinard was selected as the 2017 Tavern Trot “Hometown Hero.” In 2011, Morgan Platt of Avon was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She was chosen the 2017 Tavern Trot recipient of the “In the Spirit of Alex Scott” award and was joined by her family at the event.

Jenn Bernstein and Lorenzo Hall of FOX 61 served as emcees then later took part in the road race.

 

In addressing the crowd, Morgan’s mother Kathy Platt praised Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for not forgetting the sometimes overlooked siblings of childhood cancer patients.

 

“The have a program for siblings,” she noted.

 

Platt added there is light ahead, a hope for a cure.

 

“We’re close,” she said.

 

Jenn Bernstein and Lorenzo Hall of Fox 61 served as emcees and later joined in the road race.

 

“Hello Windsor,” Bernstein shouted.

 

To learn more about the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation charity go to https://www.alexslemonade.org

 

A group of students from Windsor’s Sage Park Middle School nicknamed themselves “The Rainbow Flamingos.”

More sights at the 2017 Tavern Trot ……

Rich Poirer tries out some stretchng offered by Perry Siegel of Select Physical Therapy before the race.

 

 

Police Pipes & Drums of Waterbury turned out to provide musical encouragement to the runners.

 

 

Windsor High School students volunteered at the Alex’s Lemonade Stand booth.

Justin Cusker recieves his registration bracelet.

Liz Scott, Suzanne Schumann and Pam Howard.