Wreaths Across America to stop in Branford Dec. 12
BRANFORD — It’s America’s longest veterans parade and on the afternoon of Tuesday, Dec. 12, it’ll roll through Branford, providing a breathtaking symbol of gratitude for our fallen service members.
The “honor convoy” is part of Wreaths Across America (WAA), a national initiative to remember veterans and their families during the holidays.
The 2-mile-long fleet will be composed of 200 volunteers traveling in buses, SUVs, and specially wrapped WAA vehicles, along with motorcycle escorts of the state and local police and the Patriot Guard, as well as dozens of 18 wheelers transporting over 400,000 evergreen wreaths from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery, according to LCDR Dottie Packer, NC (Nurse Corps) USN/RET.
North Branford couple give their ‘girls’ whole raw turkeys as a treat
NORTH BRANFORD — Just like other loving parents, Jim and Frances DiMaggio send their “girls” money for special treats on holidays, pose with them for the annual family Christmas card and proudly display their artwork in the dining room corner.
But those holiday treats are whole turkeys or hunks of raw beef and the canvases of artwork are covered with colorful pawprints and swipes.
“The girls,” as the DiMaggios refer to them, are 4-year-old golden tabby Bengal tiger sisters named Shiva and Kali, each weighing in at 300-plus pounds. The couple also recently adopted a new girl, Hera, 1, a Bengal tiger who is about 200 pounds.
Last year for Joe’s Amazing Lights in Guilford, which has raised over $100K for charity
GUILFORD — Joe’s Amazing Lights has had a long, very successful run, but when the lights are unplugged on Jan. 14 it will be for the last time. With 65,000 Christmas lights, DMX color blasts, five Light-O-Rama controllers with more than 80 plugs, a computer programmed for synchronized Christmas music, an FM transmitter and a donation collection box, Joe Petrowski Jr. has been decorating his family home for the past 21 years, since he was 6 years old. As people slowly drive by, tuning their radio to 107.3 FM, the lights dance, flash and blink in rhythm with the Christmas music. “It’s kind of crazy to think that over the years it’s really gotten so much attraction and so much popularity,” said creator and designer Petrowski.
Construction underway for new VFW hall in Guilford
GUILFORD — Eleven years in the planning, construction is underway at the V.F.W. Post 7666. Since 1960, the post has been a gathering spot for veterans and their family and friends. Now they can look forward to an updated members’ club and a new hall.
“The V.F.W. is unlike any of the other veterans’ organizations,” said Larry Santamaria, a Vietnam War veteran and current commander at the post. “It’s completely combat veterans.
“We’ve been the V.F.W. chapter, the Guilford chapter, since World War II,” the 67-year-old Guilford resident adds.
With over 200 members, keeping up the membership is important.
“That’s what we used to use to go in front of Congress, in front of legislation to push for any veterans’ bills.
Chefs hit the right notes at Reverie Kitchen in Branford
BRANFORD — When Paul Staley, the celebrated chef and owner of Branford’s Reverie Kitchen, was growing up in Madison, he had a paper route. One Thanksgiving, he folded a menu for rolls and pies into each New Haven Register. Soon, his customers were asking if he could make them the same for Christmas.
“I used the money I earned to pay for cooking classes with Jacques Pepin,” said the genial 53-year-old, who went on to hone his skills at the Culinary Institute of America, then worked as a sous chef in all-world restaurant Nikolai’s Roof in Atlanta, where the five-course prix fixe dinner once had a one-year waitlist.
Memorial Garden planted for late Ben Callahan
BRANFORD — Meditation, reflection, conversation and gratitude. All are possible at the Ben Callahan Memorial Garden overlooking the Branford River.
“It’s in a really nice spot because there are a lot of cars that drive by and it’s an easy spot to just park your car and come and remember Ben and maybe have a good conversation with someone else that’s here or you could just take a couple minutes here to remember and think,” says 9-year-old Scout, Ben’s brother.
It was on Friday, July 7, that the 10-year-old drowned in the Branford River, not far from the memorial garden, while swimming with his two brothers, Cooper, 11 and Scout, also known as Squeaky.
Ashley’s Angels: Archrivals Hand, Guilford field hockey teams join in support of The Cove
As the Hand and Guilford field hockey teams scraped and scrapped in an intense Class M state semifinal match on a raw Tuesday night, Madison’s Sandy Parker sat bundled in the stands surrounded by her family, alternately cheering, shouting, and covering her face with her gloves.
Despite the fierce play — the only loss for Hand, which would go on to prevail as state champions in Saturday’s final against New Canaan, came at the hands of Guilford — the two teams joined together only a month earlier for a cause that transcended their perennial rivalry.
Grant to help Branford police take DUI drivers off road
BRANFORD — An annual grant from the Connecticut Department of Transportation will help enable Branford police to crack down on driving under the influence this holiday season, according to a police press release.
“Our [d]epartment remains vigilant in making our roadways safer. This grant allows our agency to supplement our overall mission during the holidays,” Chief Kevin Halloran said in the press release. He pointed out that intoxicated drivers pose a danger to themselves, other drivers and the general public.
Last year local officers removed 6 drunk drivers from the roads.
Old Saybrook harbor dredging gets underway
OLD SAYBROOK — Work has gotten started on a $4.3 million dredging project to clean 290,000 cubic yards of sediment out of the town’s North Cove, which is located near the mouth of the Connecticut River.
Officials with the Connecticut Port Authority announced the start of dredging during a press conference Monday. The Authority is headquartered in Old Saybrook and the state agency will be funding the work.
The dredging will restore the federally authorized depth of the cove and the width of its entrance channel, according to agency officials.
Guilford’s colorful turkeys draw vegan protesters
GUILFORD — The brightly colored turkeys — pink, purple, orange, yellow — strutting around their pen at Gozzi’s Turkey Farms on Saturday drew more than families coming to view their vivid hues. A group of about 15 vegans lined the road outside the farm at 2443 Boston Post Road to stand up for what they called the turkeys’ rights not to be dyed, killed and eaten. “They dye them from head to foot in colors as entertainment,” said Violet, a Guilford resident who wouldn’t give her last name, adding that the locally famous attraction turns the turkey into “commodities to draw in customers. It’s cruel and turkeys deserve dignity.
Clinton PD K9 to receive body armor
CLINTON — Sonny, the canine officer with the Clinton Police Department will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.
Sonny’s vest is sponsored by the Blackwell family of Southington and will be embroidered with the sentiment “In memory of FF Chris Blackwell FDNY R3 9-11-01.” The vest is expected to arrive within eight to 10 weeks.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, Mass. whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States.
Fortuna wins top seat in Old Saybrook
After six years in office, Republican First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Jr. once again got the support of Old Saybrook residents and will continue to serve for another two years, according to early returns Tuesday night from Republican headquarters.
Those results showed Fortuna received 1,901 votes and Sheehan garnered 1,216 votes.
Retaining their seats will be incumbent Democrat Selectman Carol Conklin, who had 1,385 votes and incumbent Republican Scott Giegerich, who received 1,678.
“It was a really hard fight, but this year we ran on our record of accomplishment,” said Fortuna. “I thank the voters for their support.”
He noted the same board will be returning to serve Old Saybrook.
“We have a good working relationship,” he said.
Goupil wins Clinton’s top seat
CLINTON — Democratic candidate Christine Goupil was elected first selectwoman Tuesday, with the vote tally announced to a hushed room on the bottom floor of Town Hall.
She defeated Republican Kirk Carr, in a ballot tally of 2,079 votes to 1,558 votes. Both candidates were challengers after incumbent First Selectman Bruce Farmer lost the GOP primary to Carr in September.
“We’re very pleased with the vote and voter turnout,” Goupil said. “My team and I are very eager to get started.”
Goupil, a Clinton resident of 10 years, said she became involved in local politics within months of moving to town.
Carr, reflecting on the results, said: “Clearly the voters didn’t think taxes were as important as I thought they were, I misread them.
Mixed residential and retail complex to be built in Branford on former Atlantic Wire site
BRANFORD — With demolition far along already at the former site of the Atlantic Wire property, crews are making way for a new construction project that will bring apartments and restaurants to replace an old blighted property.
The Atlantic Wharf development, an upscale apartment complex with retail spaces and restaurants is to be built on the 7.5 acre site of the now demolished Atlantic Wire factory. It is located along the Branford River, within walking distance to the center of town and the Shoreline East Train Station.
Developer Robert Smith Jr., CEO of Metro Star Properties LLC, plans to construct a 10-building, mixed-use complex with 205 residential units that will be a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.
Connecticut may do away with state park fees for residents
HARTFORD — Supporters of Connecticut state parks are celebrating the inclusion of the Passport to the Parks program in the bipartisan state budget approved overwhelmingly last week in the House and Senate.
The budget still needs to be signed by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for it to become law. He has until Wednesday to reach a decision about the $41.34 billion package. If he were to sign it into law it means there would no longer be any parking fees for state residents, as of Jan. 1, 2018, to use any state parks.