Monday, December 31, 2012

Derby gallery to feature live music Tuesday

DERBY - Artist Floatin' Fred will be playing the music in his head on Tuesday, New Year's Day.

His first set will be from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and the second set will be 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Gallery@37, 37 Elizabeth St., Derby, Ct.

Stroll by, stop in, support original music and local art!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Festive lights brighten the night on Ansonia's Main Street

Who says service stations can't get into the festive spirit?

Sardo's Automotive, 522 Main St., Ansonia, has its classic 1960 Ford tow truck all decked out in Christmas lights. The truck is parked on the corner and visible to passing motorists.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A new year ahead brings hope for us all

As 2012 comes to a close and I celebrate another birthday in a few short days I'm really not feeling nostalgic about the passage of time.

On the contrary. I'm looking forward to 2013 and a new start.

Soon I'll be marking my second anniversary as a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with the disease in February 2011.

The past two years have been an educational experience, to say the least.
From hearing my doctor give me the news of my diagnosis on Feb. 11, to two surgeries, to chemotherapy and radiation treatments, to losing my hair, I've learned a lot.

One thing I learned is that keeping oneself healthy is a full-time job. Appointments abound!  

I've also learned to appreciate the little things in life more than ever before.

Soon after I was diagnosed I joined a support group.
I'm part of the Circle of Friends, which is based at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby. The ladies certainly live up to the group's name. They are friendly! I've never been in a support group before. New members are always welcome. 

I consider myself a private person but a year ago I wrote a revealing (for me) story about the American Cancer Society's "Look Good...Feel Better" session I attended at Griffin Hospital.

And I've participated in three fund-raising walks - two sponsored by Griffin and one coordinated this October by a dedicated Naugatuck mother of four whose own mother is a cancer survivor. The walks benefited the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital.

This year I formed a team. It was a lot of fun.

I'm looking forward to getting an even bigger team together next October. New members are always welcome. {grin}

This fall Griffin Hospital launched a survivorship program and I've been taking advantage of what the program offers. Last week I was one of only three patients who took part in a helpful workshop run by licensed clinical social worker Donna Hayes.

My takeaway from that session was I need to make time for moi, something with which many women seem to have trouble.
Women of a certain generation (myself included) have been raised to take care of everyone, which leaves little time or energy for much else.

Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, getting physical rehab, socializing, participating in fund-raising activities, and writing about all of the above. It's all a part of kicking cancer to the curb.

If you have gone through a bout with cancer as millions of us have you know whereof I speak.

And so...what about those New Year's Resolutions?

I haven't made a list yet, but most likely I'll jot a few resolutions down on a piece of paper.

And what about you?

Derby library slates parent-child workshops

     DERBY - The winter session of Family Place Parent/Child Workshops will begin Jan. 7 at Derby Public Library, 313 Elizabeth St. Workshops will run 10-11:15 a.m.
     This innovative program is a time for families to share together with their 1-3 year olds. Siblings ages 5 and under are welcome to attend.
     Workshops feature puzzles, books, blocks, a craft, dramatic play, and more. 
     Parents/caregivers will also be introduced to some of the many resources available to them to assist in the raising of their toddlers and have an opportunity to meet new friends in an educational and creative environment.
       Each workshop will focus on a different topic and will feature a professional from the community who will be available to discuss parenting questions and concerns. 
      Topics will include child development, nutrition, immunization, and the like. Do not miss the opportunity to consult with experts on a no-fee basis while your child enjoys a wonderful play experience. 
      Space is limited; registration is requested. Families are encouraged to attend all the workshops to obtain the full benefits of this eight-week session.
        For information or to register, stop by the Library, call 203-736-1482, or visit
       The Family Place is a national initiative of Americans for Libraries Council and Middle Country Library. 
        The Family Place of Connecticut is made possible through the generous support of the Katharine Matthies Foundation.

 The above is taken from a press release from Derby Public Library. 

Derby library to offer yoga class for children

   DERBY - The Derby Public Library will host a series of children’s programs focusing on keeping kids healthy through physical movement.
   The first class will be at 3:45 p.m. Jan. 15.

   Children ages 5-11 are welcome to participate in Yogawees, which incorporates basic yoga into a fun, themed program taking participants on a trip to outer space.

   The theme for the second class offered at 3:45 p.m. Feb. 21 will be jungle animals.
  Explore the animal poses of yoga during this 45-minute program presented by Kathy Trusdell.
   It is suggested participants wear comfortable clothes for the classes.

   For information, call the Children’s Room, 203-736-1482, stop by the Library at 313 Elizabeth St. or visit

Library schedules special story time next week

'Disney on Ice' stars to visit Derby

      DERBY - The Derby Public Library invites families with children ages 4-8 to a special story time event at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 3.
      That's when stars from "Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy" will read some popular Disney fairy tales.
      Following the reading, library guests will have the opportunity to meet and take pictures with Tinker Bell, who will be flying in from Pixie Hollow for this special story time.
     Registration is requested. For information or to register, visit, stop by the Library at 313 Elizabeth St. or call 203-736-1482.


Re-posting Yuletide mystery photo just for fun

Sunday, December 23, 2012

'A star, a star ... '

It's the day before Christmas Eve, my shopping's not done, but before heading out I thought I'd have a little fun.

I'm posting a mystery photo ~ any ideas where I took it?

Leave your answer in the comments. Sorry there's no prize for the winner, just a shout-out here on the blog.


Anonymous said... Derby above 500 Degrees?  December 23, 2012 1:45 PM

Blogger Michele said... New Haven  December 23, 2012 1:58 PM

Blogger Patti said... Anonymous: No, sorry.

Michele: No, it's in the Valley. You get a pass because you live 45 miles from here!  December 23, 2012 2:23 PM

Any takers? Give it a guess! 

Update: Correct answer was given by Anonymous: the star (or comet) is outside Sunflower Dental, 69 Elizabeth St., Derby

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Derby library to host reading club

DERBY - The Derby Public Library is once again offering a Winter Reading Club for adults, ages 18 and over. 
 Snow is Falling, Books are Calling, will begin Jan. 7 and run through March 1.
As participants read books of their choice, they will be asked to anonymously complete a very brief written questionnaire to share with fellow readers. These will be posted.
Readers will receive a participation prize upon submitting their first review. Weekly raffles for winter surprise bags will be held for all participants sharing for each particular week. 
A “snow clearing” celebration for all club members, catered by Stacey Ference of Savour, will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 4.
All attendees will have a chance to win a grand prize raffle. Persons may register in person at the adult circulation desk or by phone. 
For information, stop by the Library at 313 Elizabeth St., call 203-736-1482 or visit  

Valley agency grateful to toy drive supporters

The Parent Child Resource Center, leading provider of behavioral health services to children and families in the Valley, was delighted to be a chosen agency of this year’s WPLR Toy Drive Dec. 7 at the Webster Arena in Bridgeport.

The Parent Child Resource Center is one of nine agencies chosen to receive the generosity of WPLR’s listeners and supporters who donated enough toys for PCRC to support 43 of its deeply appreciative families.

Dedicated volunteers supporting PCRC’s mission of “Saving lives by passionately caring for children, families and community” donated their time and effort from 4:30 a.m. and volunteered with the toy drive event until 11:30 a.m. Dec. 7 to help ensure children were able to receive gifts for Christmas.
CEO Michael Wynne said: “Our staff and families are very grateful to WPLR for organizing this fabulous effort that allowed our kids and families to have a super Christmas. Organizations like WPLR give hope to families in need.”

The above was taken from a press release from the Parent-Child Resource Center. 

YMCA offers tips to improve family's health in New Year

The New Year is a time for new beginnings and to set goals that strengthen one's spirit, mind and body. When making New Year's Resolutions, the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA reminds families that building and maintaining family connectedness is one of the most important resolutions. 

At the Y, we are committed to strengthening individuals and families to build stronger communities.  When making resolutions, we encourage people to begin with small changes that are easy to sustain and that lead to big benefits over time. Also, set goals as a family to learn and thrive together.

The Central Connecticut Coast YMCA offers a variety of programs that support family time.
There are simple things families can do at home to improve their family’s health and well-being. Following are five New Year’s Resolutions the Y recommends for 2013:        

1.    Eat Together: Sitting down together for a meal is a great way for parents and children to share stories, or talk about the school day or their favorite part of the day. Set aside time for the family to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner at least once a week or every day if scheduling permits.

2.    Volunteer Together: Giving back and supporting neighbors benefits everyone involved. It teaches children and teens the value of helping others and is also a way to meet new people or discover a new interest. Find an opportunity in your community that the entire family may enjoy, such as cleaning your neighborhood park or distributing food at a local food bank.

3.    Unplug from Technology: Limit screen time (television, video games, computer, etc.) and instead set aside an hour or two for activities that allow interaction and camaraderie. If weather permits, go for a walk, bike ride, trip to the park, or have a game night at home. If you do want to watch television, maybe have a movie night with the family.  
4.   Be Physically Active: It’s important for children to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day (30 minutes for adults). Incorporate physical activity into your daily routines and spend more time walking to places instead of driving to improve your health and well-being.

5.  Put Extras to Good Use: Do you have extra canned goods or clothes that could benefit others in need? Clean out your pantry, closet or attic and donate extra items to homeless shelters or community outreach programs. You can also get the entire family involved and demonstrate to the children the value of giving.

For additional tips or to learn about the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA family time programs, call 203-777-9622 or visit

Talk at Griffin to focus on monitoring blood glucose

DERBY -  The Diabetes Education & Support Group at Griffin Hospital will host a free presentation about blood glucose levels from 6:30 – 8 p.m. Jan. 8 in the hospital dining room Meeting Room, 130 Division St.
Valley Parish Nurse Mary Swansiger will discuss "Monitoring Your Blood Glucose."

The Diabetes Education & Support Group meets September - June on the second Tuesday of each month to discuss the management of diabetes, its challenges and day-to-day dietary concerns.
This group is open to all diabetics and their families at no charge.
No registration is required.

For information, call Swansiger, 203-732-1137.

Historian's talk at Derby library to focus on U.S. Presidents

DERBY - The Derby Public Library has scheduled a local history program, President’s Special, at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14.
As the nation approaches the 2013 Presidential Inauguration, Robert Novak, local historian and popular presenter at the Library, will take his audience on a trip through history.

Novak's talk will cover events from 1789 to today, exploring the little known relations and impacts numerous Presidents of the United States and the Valley region have had on one another.
Novak has specialized in presenting local history in fun, interactive formats for more than 20 years.
He is past director of the Derby Historical Society and the City of Shelton’s Municipal Historian.
He has authored four books through Arcadia Publications, and has been a popular historical
            Registration is requested. For information, stop by the Library, 313 Elizabeth St., call 203-736-1482 or visit

Workshop at library to highlight Chinese culture, dance

DERBY - The Derby Public Library will host the program, A Taste of Chinese Traditional
Culture at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7.
           The Shen Yun Performing Arts group will convey the essence and uniqueness of the traditional Chinese culture through slide and video presentations.
           This one-hour session will include a short Chinese dance workshop, including classical Chinese dance props along with ribbons and fans.
           Registration is requested.
           For information, stop by the Library at 313 Elizabeth St., call 203-736-1482 or visit


Ansonia Nature Center slates January events

New Year's Day hike
 Start your New Year off on the right foot and resolve to spend more time outdoors this year!  On Jan. 1 at 10 a.m.  join Ranger Marty for a brisk hike through the frosty landscape of the Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center, 10 Deerfield Road. Look for tracks and other signs of wildlife.
If there is suitable snow, the Nature Center's snowshoes may be made available. Dangerous walking conditions will cancel the hike. 

Call 203-736-1053 to register for this free program.

Saturday Creature Features

This ongoing program is held weekly at noon. It's a short program for families that features the Center's resident
critters, and offers a chance to get acquainted with your favorite mammal, bird, or reptile.  Also check out who is visiting the Center's feeding stations. For the best viewing, bring binoculars.

Sunday guided hike
At 1 p.m. every Sunday, weather permitting, join a park ranger for a hike long the park's trail system.
If there is suitable snow, hikers are welcome to bring cross-country skis or snowshoes.

There is no need to register for either of these free weekly programs.

Park tots
Winter Fun is the theme of this nature-based class for infants and toddlers and their caregivers.

Join Ranger Wendy at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 18  to discover how much fun the natural world can be in winter. 
The program provides an opportunity for socialization with other young children as the group takes a short excursion into the park.

Depending on the weather, enjoy fun in the snow or look for signs of winter wildlife including hungry birds at the park's feeders.
Tuition is $6 per child ($4 for Ansonia residents and family-level Friends of the Ansonia Nature Center, Inc. members.) Call 203-736-1053 to register.

Ice fishing
From 9-11 a.m. Jan. 19  the Connecticut D.E.E.P. and the Ansonia Nature Center are offering a free  family Ice Fishing class at the nature center.

Join certified Aquatic Resource Education Instructor, Dave Connelly and Ranger Martin for a morning of instruction including a review of equipment, techniques, what bait to use, regulations and rules to ensure safety.

The program will also include information on where to fish, and what species are likely to be caught.
Adults and youngsters are invited to attend, but those under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Class size is limited; register by calling 203-736-1053.

Winter star party
At 7 p.m. Jan. 19 the Nature Center invites all those with an interest in astronomy to a winter star party. 

A study of the red planet is planned by Andy Poniros, an affiliate of NASA, and Bob Carruthers, a retired civil engineer with a passionate interest and expertise in astronomy.
Astronomers have examined Mars in detail for over a century, but with the landing of the Curiosity Rover, there is lots of new information to share.

If the weather outside is suitable, telescopes will be ready for viewing the night sky. Dress for the weather. 

Call 203-736-1053 to register for this free program.

Monday, December 24, 2012

St. Vincent De Paul spreads cheer to Valley needy

William Smith of Ansonia loads wrapped packages Wednesday into the back of his pickup truck. He and his family received Christmas cheer, in the form of food and gifts, from St. Vincent De Paul Helping Hands of the Valley in Derby.

Stay tuned for a story about the nonprofit's annual Yuletide distribution.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

'A star, a star ... '

It's the day before Christmas Eve, my shopping's not done, but before heading out I thought I'd have a little fun.

I'm posting a mystery photo ~ any ideas where I took it?

Leave your answer in the comments. Sorry there's no prize for the winner, just a shout-out here on the blog.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Winners of Ansonia decorating contest: Part 2

On Friday I posted the overall city-wide winner of the "2012 Deck Your Halls and Yard Contest" judged by members of the Ansonia Cultural Commission and the Valley Arts Council.

The winning house at 191 Prospect St. is in the second ward.

Here are the winners from the other wards, listed in no particular order.
Ward 1: 12 West Brookside Ave.
Ward 5: 209 Wakelee Ave.

 Ward 6: 48 Highland Ave.
Ward 7: 7 Birchwood Road
Ward 4: 11 May St.

Ward 3: 158 Hodge Ave.

A big thank you to Seth Gibson for contributing the photos of the winners.

Derby church remembers with bells, angels

Christmas tree honors the victims

A tree decorated with angels printed on paper was the brainchild of St. Michael Church parishioner Fran Tracz of Derby. It is standing next to the altar. She said she wanted to do something to show support for "all the little ones."

Below are examples of two of the paper angels, one for a child and one for a teacher. The love that was put into decorating this tree is clear to see. 

A group of parishioners rang hand bells Friday at 9:30 a.m. on the church steps as part of the statewide observance in memory of the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

I posted this video yesterday of the dedicated group braving a downpour and ringing the bells. See additional coverage at and in today's New Haven Register.

Friday, December 21, 2012

7 entrepreneurs win grants

SHELTON — Seven Valley women recently won ninth annual Women in Networking Entrepreneurial grants, the WIN Group said in a prepared statement.

The grant is a fund with the Valley Community Foundation and is affiliated with the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce. 
Recipients are: 
  • Renee Jackson, owner of Freckled Frosting in Oxford, $700 for cooking supplies. 
  • Jacqueline Yannes, Kokopelli School of Music and Arts in Seymour, $1,000 to complete filing for nonprofit status.
  • JoElle Anderson, Dragonflies in Seymour, a WBDC Scholarship to the FastTrak program. 
  • Cheryl Shain, Zanni Ani Organic Snacks in Oxford, $1,000 to buy equipment. 
  • Kelly Humiston, New Leaf Organizing Service in Shelton, $550 to pay course fees for professional organizer certification.
  • Bonnie Fredericks, Retreat Contempo Salon in Oxford, $900 to implement industry specific software. 
  • Kimberly Dulka, The All-American Valley General Store in Seymour, $1,500 for a kitchen installation. 
The grant-in-aid program provides financial assistance to women 18 or older in Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Derby, Oxford, Seymour. and Shelton.
For information, call 203-925-4981 or visit

This was taken from a release from the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Ansonia performer to premier 'Celtic Magic' in Elm City

    Ansonia Magician Daniel GreenWolf will premier his new show "Celtic Magic" at the Lyric Hall Theatre in New Haven for an eight-show run Dec. 27-30.

    Known for performing at Renaissance fairs and festivals across the United States, GreenWolf has created a show with a theme that focuses on the beauty and magic of the Irish culture.
    Daniel GreenWolf says his Irish heritage was the inspiration for writing the show. "There's just so much beauty in Irish mythology and history that is intertwined with magic," says the Waterbury-born wizard.
 "I was surprised to see that no had created a show like this before." The show will be combining Celtic tales, music and themes into a high-energy, 80-minute performance.
    "Celtic Magic" is taking place at Lyric Hall theatre, 827 Whalley Ave., New Haven, a restored 50-seat theater made to recreate the atmosphere of a 19th-century parlor stage.
    "This allows the audience to get up close and personal with the magic in a way you couldn't do in a big space," says GreenWolf. He assures that the show will be appropriate for all ages, despite a few dangerous feats performed during the show, along with the magic.
    " Celtic Magic" is running Dec. 27-30, with shows running daily at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
     Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for children under 11 and college students, veterans and members of Irish organizations (IDs will be required at the door for special discounts).
      Tickets may be purchased at the door or at

This information was taken from a press release.

Reception at AHS to honor Wallace

ANSONIA - A community reception to say “thank you” to Naomi “Miss RuthE” Wallace, former program director at the Tinney Community Center, will be held 5-7 p.m. Jan. 10 at Ansonia High School, 20 Pulaski Highway. 

Wallace will be honored for her years of service to the children who have attended the Tinney Center as well as for her service to the surrounding community, organizers said.

Snow date is Jan. 14.
Refreshments will be served.
RSVP by Jan. 8 to Eileen Ehman, or at 203-736-5095, or Diane Stroman at or
at 203-736-5420 ext. 234.

Valley Chamber recognizes community leaders

Patricia Tarasovic presents the 2012 Platinum Award to Liz Kennard. / Contributed photo

  The Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce and approximately 200 members and friends recently gathered to recognize five individuals and their outstanding achievements in the community. 

The Chamber presented five awards: the Silver Medal Award, three Gold Seal Awards, and the Platinum Award to the region’s business and community leaders who exemplify the spirit of selflessness and volunteerism. These awards are among the most prestigious and time-honored community service awards in the Valley. 
Alan Tyma, 1999 Gold Seal recipient, served as master of ceremonies.
The Silver Medal Award has only been presented 24 times and was first awarded in 1986.  The Chamber has presented the award to recognize volunteer groups or partnerships that have made extraordinary contributions to the community or to recognize an individual’s dedicated service and assistance to the community.
This year’s Silver Medal Award recipient was Commodore Hull Thanksgiving Day 5K Road Race.  This annual road race unites the communities of the Valley, while simultaneously raising money for organizations and remembering a Great War hero.
This event has raised approximately $100,000 for the Boys & Girls Club and has attracted people from across the nation to run and visit the Valley.
The Gold Seal Award has been presented to 143 individuals since 1971. This award is given annually by the Chamber to a recipient who demonstrates outstanding community service through dedicated and effective leadership.  
The Gold Seal Award this year was presented to Barbara Casagrande, Joseph A. Pagliaro, Jr., and Anthony San Angelo.
Casagrande has been an active member of the Valley for many years, leaving an imprint on the lives of many.  Most recently she started and is Co-Director of The Hope Center, providing job training primarily focused on computer skills, GED preparation as well as 1-on-1 teaching. 
Pagliaro exhibits extensive dedication to his community; currently he is a Board Member of the Valley United Way, Co-Chair of BG Healthcare Bowl-to-Benefit, and Board Member of the Valley Community Foundation.  

San Angelo has been involved with the community since 1979; he has donated his time and energy illustrating what it means to be a community leader, beginning his efforts as the President of the Beacon Falls Jaycees, and for a number of years has been the Chairman of the Economic Development Commission, Board Secretary of Birmingham Health Services, and Chairman of the Birmingham Group Foundation to name a few.
In 2001, in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Gold Seal Awards, the Chamber introduced the Platinum Award. 
Only 12 individuals have received the Platinum award and it is presented to a past Gold Seal recipient of at least 10 years who is still dedicated to volunteering their time and resources on behalf of the Valley Community.
The year’s Platinum Award honoree was M. Elizabeth Kennard, who won the Gold Seal Award in 1998. Her talents and efforts are continually recognized for having a great impact on the community.  Liz is one of the founding members and former Chair of the Valley Community Foundation; she is active in the Women Making a Difference Committee and is an annual presenter for Leadership Greater Valley. 
The combined efforts of all recipients, past and present, have resulted in lasting contributions in the communities of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Derby, Oxford, Seymour, and Shelton.

This information was taken from a press release from the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce.

St. Michael parishioners remember victims today

See story tomorrow in the New Haven Register.

Catholic organization to offer workshop on handling stress

ANSONIA - Catholic Charities Family Service Center, 205 Wakelee Ave., is offering a workshop for adults in the community who would like to talk about the tragic events that occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. 
Some common symptoms of stress may include changes in sleep pattern, heightened anxiety or panic symptoms, tearfulness and being easily startled.

The free workshop will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday. It will focus on ways to handle these symptoms of stress, how to talk to your children about what happened, relaxation skills, and how to take care of yourself.

Advance registration is requested but not required. 
For information call the office, 203-735-7481. 

Winners of decorating contest announced in Ansonia

Firehouses also participated this year
Citywide winner: 191 Prospect St.
ANSONIA - The  Ansonia Cultural Commission and Valley Arts Council today announced the Ward and city-wide winners for the 2012 Deck your House and Yard Contest.
Mary Gibson, Cultural Commission vice-chair, said, "We congratulate each of the winners and all of the entrants. Judging was as difficult this year as last year since each entered home was decorated with such Christmas spirit. Having said that, it was the commission and arts council's pleasure to judge the houses."
The winners are:
Ward 1 - 12 West Brookside Ave.,  Fred Baker and Paula Abbati;
Ward 2 - 191 Prospect St.,  Ron and Carolyn Steeves;
Ward 3 - 158 Hodge Ave.,  John and Linda Gentile;
Ward 4 - 11 May St.,  Rob Librandi;
Ward 5 - 209 Wakelee Ave.,  John and MaryAnne Checkley;
Ward 6  - 48 Highland Ave., Bill Webster;
Ward 7 - 7 Birchwood Drive, Bob Meyernick.
The city-wide winner for "bragging rights" is in Ward 2, 191 Prospect St.
"We hope that each year the contest will grow larger and larger with more homes entering," Gibson said. "A red bow has been placed at each winning home."

Gibson said the first "Deck your Firehouse" Contest resulted in a tie for "bragging rights" between Charters Hose Company 4 and Hilltop Hose Company 5.

Charters Hose Company 5 firehouse, 4 Murray St.

Hilltop Hose Company 5 firehouse, 80 Pulaski Highway

Photos contributed by Seth Gibson

The public is invited to the Board of Aldermen meeting at 7 pm Jan. 8 at City Hall for the presentation of a small token of appreciation to the winners, Gibson said.

As an aside, I plan to take a drive around to see the creative decorating - especially since we don't have any decorations in front of our Ansonia home! 
But I suppose I still have time to get into the Yuletide spirit. 

Stay tuned for photos of the other winning decorations.

Valley Chamber of Commerce group presents $3,500 to Griffin

'Pinktoberfest' proceeds to support Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness

Alexis Tomczak, Community Outreach Vice-Chair of the Greater Valley Chamber’s Young Emerging Professionals (YEP), presents a $3,500 check to Patrick Charmel, President and CEO of Griffin Hospital to support The Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness.

YEP participated in Griffin’s annual “Valley Goes Pink” by hosting a “Pinktoberfest” at Molto Bene Italian American Kitchen at John J. Sullivan’s Oct. 11.
Pictured are, from left, Bill Purcell, President of the Chamber, Chris Hill, Chairman of YEP, Tom Steeves, Immediate Past Chair of YEP, Connie Evans, Executive Director, Griffin Hospital Development Fund, and Janet Hall, Senior Development Officer at Griffin.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Health center honors veterans with mural

Hall of Heroes created
Contributed photo

DERBY — Birmingham Health Center honored its resident veterans with a mural by Annette Dostale on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7.

The ceremony in the Hall of Heroes was attended by William E. Purcell, president of the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Mayor Anthony Staffieri, the center said in a written statement.

Purcell spoke of the contributions made by the “greatest generation,” including his father and many Birmingham residents.

Mayor Anthony Staffieri, a Purple Heart recipient, spoke about being in the Vietnam War and encouraged veterans to be open about their service, the statement said.

“I hope veterans speak to their children and grandchildren and share their stories, so no one ever forgets the sacrifices that were made for our freedom,” Staffieri said.

As the only facility in the Greater Valley with associations to the U.S. Veterans Administration, Birmingham wanted to find a meaningful way to honor each veteran, the statement said.

To Dostale, that meant incorporating a bald eagle, a symbol of the nation since 1782, which is known for its strength and majestic looks, the statement said. The emblem was incorporated with the American flag in honor of the veterans. 
The artwork was completed in six months and includes 29 biographies of veterans from five branches of the military who fought in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Director of admissions Shirley Dominguez oversaw the project and plans to continue to add to the hall until every veteran is included.

“It is our small way to thank them for the sacrifices that they made and for their service to our country,” Dominguez said in the statement.

Birmingham offers physical, occupational, and speech therapy for short-term rehabilitation and long-term care.

For information, call 203-735-7401.

The above was taken from a press release.

Grant to fund nutrition program at Boys & Girls Club

The Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley has received a grant from Unilever to continue its Healthy Habits after-school nutrition program in January. This program teaches young people how to understand nutrition and make better food choices.

The Healthy Habits program is part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s comprehensive health initiative called Triple Play: A Game Plan for the Mind, Body and Soul. This dynamic initiative demonstrates how eating right, keeping fit and forming positive relationships add up to a healthy lifestyle for Club members.

In each of the 10 Healthy Habits sessions per semester, members make a healthy afterschool snack, taking home not only a recipe, but valuable nutritional information and kitchen skills to encourage making eating healthy a lifelong positive choice. 
The program is open to all Boys & Girls Club members ages 6 through 18, enrolled in the after-school program at the Shelton Clubhouse.

Healthy Habits is facilitated by staff member Emily Degnan, with the help of Club volunteers. She has a degree in Culinary Arts from The Center for Culinary Arts at Lincoln Tech.

Detailed information on all programs can be found at Clubhouse.

The above is taken from a release from the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley.

Emmett O'Brien remembers Newtown victims

At candlelight vigil 

Hundreds attended a vigil Wednesday at Emmett O'Brien Technical High School in Ansonia. This photo shows one of 26 angels created by students and placed on the grass in front of the school. This one is in memory of teacher Lauren Rousseau, 30, who was among 26 people - including 20 first graders - murdered Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

I apologize for the glare, but thought I'd post this photo anyway to offer another example of the memorials created by Emmett O'Brien students and staff, who demonstrate time and again that they have hearts of gold.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

O'Brien holds vigil for shooting victims

Emmett O'Brien Technical High School Principal Laurie LeBouthillier, right, speaks Wednesday at a candlelight vigil in memory of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims.

The vigil was held in front of the Ansonia school. (Photo taken from a video)

Derby students present Living Nativity

First grade children of St. Mary-St. Michael School performed at the Living Nativity and Christmas Concert Tuesday at St. Mary's Church in Derby. / Contributed photo

Remember to give what you can at Salvation Army kettle

ANSONIA - Major Theresa Burkholder of the Greater Valley Salvation Army today put out a plea to the community for financial assistance.

She said Christmas kettle collections are way down, with the amount collected so far this holiday season $21,000 less than in 2011.

The kettles are located outside nine stores throughout the Valley, Burkholder said. There is still time to help, she said.
The agency has a scheduled a holiday distribution for clients, but there will still be a great need in the community after the holidays, Burkholder said.

For information call the Salvation Army, 26 Lester St., at 203-736-0707.

Assisted living association honors Crosby Commons resident

Doris E. Thorn shows her oil paintings. / Contributed photo

SHELTON - Doris E. Thorn, a resident of Crosby Commons at Wesley Village community, was recently recognized by the Connecticut Assisted Living Association with the first ever "Distinguished Resident Accomplishment Award."
This award is given to a resident who has found meaning and purpose through achieving a goal that brings them fulfillment and benefits others.  
At age 82, Thorn joined an oil painting class for residents, having had no experience. 
Her talent blossomed and Doris's paintings have been displayed in a local art gallery and at the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce office in Shelton.

In recent years she had her old record, "Be Still and Know," a collection of hymns she sang, put onto a CD, which is now for sale.
She finished writing a book, "Casting Light on the Mystery of God in You" in December 2011 and it is in the process of being published by Friesen Press.

 Visit for more information on the Wesley Village community.

This information was taken from a press release from Mary Ann Bradshaw, development and public relations coordinator, United Methodist Homes.   

Reminder: Last day to donate to Toys 4 Kids

Please consider donating a new, unwrapped toy to TEAM, Inc.'s 27th annual Toys 4 Kids.

As in the past, items most needed are for the older children, ages 10-12, said Diane Stroman, TEAM vice president. She suggests gift cards to local stores such as Target and Walmart. 

TEAM, Inc. is located at 30 Elizabeth St., Derby.
There are more than 127 drop-off sites throughout the Valley, Bethany, Monroe, and Woodbridge, Stroman said.

The organization's "toy store" is once again set up at 153 Main St., Ansonia, second floor.

For information call Stroman, 203-736-5420, ext. 234.

Workshop in Ansonia helps educators, parents cope

Last night I attended a workshop, "Attacks and Children - Information for Parents, Caregivers, and Educators" hosted by TEAM Early Education in Ansonia.

The focus was on how to talk to young children about tragedies, how to answer their questions and provide them with a sense of safety and security.
Almost 60 people attended.  The sadness in the air at the school was palpable.

Cindy Rzasa Bess makes a point Tuesday night.

The workshop was led by developmental psychologist Cindy Rzasa Bess, PhD., an educational consultant, who offered a lot of good advice during the 90-minute session.

Some suggestions sound simple - hug the children, listen to their concerns, help them express their feelings, maintain daily routines.
But at a time when everyone is reeling in disbelief at the tragedy that unfolded at Sandy Hook Elementary School it's important that they be highlighted. 

A story about the workshop will appear in the newspaper later this week.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Emmett O'Brien to hold vigil Wednesday

ANSONIA - Emmett O'Brien Technical High School will hold a candlelight vigil at 5 p.m. Wednesday in memory of the victims of Friday's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

O'Brien Principal Laurie LeBouthillier said Newtown High School boys' basketball team will be in attendance.  

The vigil will be held in front of the school at 141 Prindle Ave.

American Legion Riders raise funds for Fisher House

Facility under construction in West Haven
Contributed photo
The American Legion Riders Chapter 174 of Oxford recently held a Poker Run. The Chapter plans to make it an annual event.
Proceeds were donated to The Fisher House of Connecticut, which is being constructed near the Veterans Administration Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven. / Contributed photo

Santa spends Saturday greeting folks in Ansonia

Santa Claus, a.k.a. Alex Campanelli of Milford, waves to passing cars on a sunny Saturday in front of Dunkin' Donuts on Pershing Drive, Ansonia,

Campanelli, 18, said he was simply trying to brighten up peoples' day.  
Most motorists waved back to him and gave him a friendly beep of the car horn, he said. 
 "Everybody loves Santa," Campanelli said with a grin.

As a side note, I spied Santa Sunday in the rain waving to passing cars again. Now that's dedication.

Derby library offers activities for teens

Game night
DERBY - The Derby Public Library, 313 Elizabeth St., hosts Teen Game Night on the first Wednesday of every month.
All young adults ages 11 to 17 are invited to join the fun from 6-7:30 p.m. Jan. 2.
Exciting challenges for the Nintendo Wii game system are featured and popular board games are also available.
Light refreshments will be provided. Registration is requested.

Chess club
The library's Teen Chess Club invites all young adults ages 11 to 17 to meetings from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Mondays (excluding holidays).
All skill levels are welcome. Participants will learn how the game is played as well as new and varying defensive/offensive strategies.
Julio Maldonado provides superb expertise from a lifelong love for the game. Registration is requested.

For information on these activities stop by the Library, call 203-736-1482, or visit

This information was taken from a release from Tony DeLos, young adult/reference librarian, Derby Public Library.

Derby PD hires 5 patrol officers

Pictured from left, Taylor Norton, John O’Donoghue, Eric Grella, Chief Gerald Narowski, Frank DeAngelo IV, Frank Sicsico.

DERBY - The Derby Police Department has hired five patrol officers.

Taylor Norton, Frank DeAngelo IV, John O’Donoghue, Frank Sicsico, and Eric Grella were sworn in Monday at a Police Commissioner meeting, according to a release today from Lt. Justin Stanko.

Norton, 23, lives in Bristol. He holds an undergraduate Criminology degree from Central Connecticut State University and was a former all-state high school soccer player at Bristol Eastern High School. He is a certified EMT and a licensed commercial pilot.

DeAngelo, 28, is a Shelton resident. A former teacher, he obtained his B.A. in criminal justice from Quinnipiac University and is working towards his master’s degree in English.

Seymour resident O’Donoghue, 21, recently obtained a B.A. in Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven. He currently is a member of the Derby Auxiliary Police Department.

Sicsico, 30, of Trumbull, has an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice. He is also a Reservist with the United States Marine Corps where he specializes in crash-fire rescue.

Thomaston resident Grella, 28, is also a former teacher. Grella earned his B.A. in Psychology from Central Connecticut State University and his Masters degree in Elementary Education from the University of Bridgeport.

The recruits will commence official training Jan. 4 at the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden.
The academy training is approximately 24 weeks after which the recruits must pass an additional 12 weeks of field training at the Derby Police Department before they become certified officers.

This was taken from information provided by Lt. Justin Stanko, operations commander, Derby Police Department.

TEAM to host workshop today for parents, educators

    ANSONIA - TEAM Family Resource Center will host a workshop, “Attacks & Children - Information for Parents, Caregivers, & Educators” at 5:30 p.m. today at TEAM Early Education, Inc., 80 Howard Ave.
    Speaker will be Cindy Rzasa Bess, a developmental psychologist. The workshop will be 90 minutes.
    Dinner and childcare will be provided. There is limited seating and persons are asked to RSVP at 203-734-8609 ext. 10 or

Seymour church plans Christmas services

SEYMOUR - The Great Hill United Methodist Church, 225 Great Hill Road, will hold a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 7 p.m. Dec. 24. Holy Communion will be served.
On Dec. 30 there will be A Service of Lessons and Carols at 10 a.m.
All are welcome. For information call the office, 203-888-9425.

Seymour celebrates holiday season in style

Residents enjoy old-fashioned fun. / Photo submitted by Joseph Luciano

SEYMOUR - Downtown became "Bedford Falls" (as in the Frank Capra holiday classic "It's A Wonderful Life") Saturday afternoon.
Hundreds came to join in festivities organized by resident Kim Dulka, owner of The All-American General Store on Columbus Street.

People singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" enjoyed horse-drawn carriage rides from The All-American General Store throughout historic downtown Seymour.
Dulka's store was temporarily transformed into "Mr. Gower's Drugstore."

The above information was taken from a press release.

St. Mary-St. Michael students helping other kids this season

Spirit of giving is alive and well

Students from St. Mary-St. Michael School in Derby collected 183 gifts for the Toys 4 Kids drive sponsored by TEAM, Inc. of Derby.  / Contributed photo

Monday, December 17, 2012

Valley residents mourn at Derby vigil

Last night I covered the Valley's candlelight vigil in memory of those lost in the school slayings in Sandy Hook.
It was held on the Derby Green, and I was struck by the large number of people - hundreds - who attended.

Ansonia Mayor James Della Volpe said, "It's a tremendous turnout for a night like this. People are looking for an outlet," he said, and want to be with others in the community.

State Rep. Linda M. Gentile commented, "It's great to see such a big crowd here. It shows how big our hearts are in our small community of Derby."

People huddled under umbrellas waiting for the vigil to start. The festive Christmas lights seemed out of place at first, but I soon saw them as symbolizing hope for a brighter future for our community and our nation.

At the start of the service, Pablo Barriga, campus facilitator, New Life Community Church in Derby, told the crowd, "We have seen the devil at his worst. Let us now believe we shall see God at His best."  

Norwich resident Swaranghit Singh holds a sign showing support of the victims of Friday's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. About 50 members of the Sikh community attended the vigil Sunday night.

Singh said the shootings reminded him of the August slayings of six Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin. He said the Sikh community will hold a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Friday at its temple, Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar, 1610 West St., Southington.

 Angela Descheen, 3, of Derby, shows us there is hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Valley vigil is at 7 p.m. today

Reposting as a reminder:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Valley vigil slated Sunday on Derby Green

DERBY - Mayor Anthony Staffieri is asking that residents from Derby, Ansonia, Seymour, and Shelton please bring a candle and join him at the Derby Green at 7 p.m. Sunday for a candlelight vigil to support the families and friends affected by the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“Please join with Mayor Lauretti of Shelton, Mayor Della Volpe of Ansonia, First Selectman Miller of Seymour and I to honor those that have passed and to support and pray for the friends and families of the deceased,” Staffieri said. 

“We cannot change the dreadful events that occurred this past Friday, but we can stand together in unison to offer our prayers and lend our support to those that must endure this unbearable pain.” 

This information is taken from a press release from Derby City Hall.