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Volunteers are needed for CT Special Olympics swim meet

January 24, 2012 Areawide, Local News No Comments

There are many different roles that volunteers can choose including, athlete buddies, pool area volunteers, food and refreshments, arts and crafts, awards and Friday night set-up with Saturday night clean-up. Photo courtesy of Special Olympics Wisconsin

The annual Special Olympics swim meet is again in need of volunteers for the March event, according to event organizers.

Athletes from all over Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts are already signed up for the 33rd annual Windham Invitational Special Olympics swim meet.

Slated for Saturday, March 10,2012 the event starts at 8 a.m. with registration and is expected to last until about 5 p.m., at Windham High School.

Event organizers are looking for as many volunteers as they can get, said Melissa Henry, a first­time member of the event’s organizing committee.

The organization usually takes volunteers right up until the event starts, but registering early will help with distributing tasks.

“We try to get the word our early for volunteers,” said publicity chair Tom Piotrowski. “We like to have committed volunteers before the swim meet.”

Piotrowski and his son, Alan, have been volunteering at the swim meet for more than 15 years.

“Come with a positive attitude and the feeling that you are going to make this a special day,” said Piotrowski.

Volunteers can choose what they want to do on the registration form, which is provided online at the swim meet web site, http://windhaminvitationalswimmeet.weebly.com

The deadline for registration with the volunteer forms is Feb. 24.

Volunteering doesn’t have an age limit, but organizers try to match volunteers to athletes by their ages. Athletes are generally from 8 to 35 years old, Henry said.

“We’ve had middle school kids and even college students volunteer,” said Piotrowski. Safety volunteers have to be at least 21 years of age, he said.

“We usually need around 250 volunteers or so,” said Piotrowski. “We need people for pretty much everything.”

There are many different roles that volunteers can choose including, athlete buddies, pool area volunteers, food and refreshments, arts and crafts, awards and Friday night set-up with Saturday night clean-up

Piotrowski said volunteers will be kept busy throughout the day.

No training is necessary to be a volunteer, but on the morning of the meet, there is a registration and orientation period before everything starts, said Piotrowski.

Lunch will be provided by McDonald’s and volunteers will get a souvenir T-shirt, Piotrowski said.

Donations also help!

For those who would like to donate to the annual swim meet, they can do so by sending cash or a check written to Windham Special Olympics Swim Meet and sent to 39 Candide Lane, Storrs, CT 06268.

The Windham Swim meet is a nonprofit organization, said Piotrowski. “We need to raise around $7,000 to $ 8,000 for this event,” some of which comes from fundraisers leading up to the even.

The Special Olympics, itself, is a year­round program of physical fitness, sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

For more information and to get a volunteer registration form, visit the swim meet Web site at http://windhaminvitationalswimmeet.weebly.com or call Erin Figlock at (860) 670-2915, or Melissa Henry at (860) 933-4813 or Adrianne Levine at (860) 933-6388.

Posted Jan. 24, 2012

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. To keep up-to-date on local news, “like” us (HTNP News) on Facebook and follow us ( @HTNP) on Twitter!

Local community events for the week of Jan 23 2012

The Willimantic Public Library, Main Street, Willimantic, will host a Chinese New Year celebration from 6 to 7 p.m. in the children's department. Families are invited to attend a fun-filled hour that will include traditional Chinese stories, arts and crafts, games and sample Chinese food. To register, stop by the library or call (860) 465-3082. Image source: www. chinesenewyearcardsblogspot. com


Editor’s note: The DEEP Family Ice Fishing Class scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 28 in Coventry has been canceled, as well as the Derby (because of insufficient ice on the lakeTuesday Jan. 24, 2012
FOOT-CARE APPOINTMENTS – Mansfield

Mansfield Senior Center, 303 Maple Road, Storrs, will offer foot­care appointments with a podiatrist beginning at 9 a.m. Call Kathy for an appointment at (860) 429-0262.

CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATION – Willimantic

The Willimantic Public Library, Main Street, Willimantic, will host a Chinese New Year celebration from 6 to 7 p.m. in the children’s department. Families are invited to attend a fun-filled hour that will include traditional Chinese stories, arts and crafts, games and sample Chinese food. To register, stop by the library or call (860) 465-3082.

LA LECHE LEAGUE MEETING – Lebanon

All local mothers and pregnant women are invited to a mother­to-mother breastfeeding support and advocacy group at 6:30 p.m. at the Lebanon Community Center, 872 Trumbull Highway, Lebanon. Children welcome. Info. (860) 642-6638 or (860) 423-2170. No cost.

Wednesday Jan. 25

ADULT HEALTH SCREENINGS – Mansfield

Mansfield Senior Center, 303 Maple Road, Storrs, will offer adult health screenings from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. with VNA East Nurse Mary Hess. Info: (860) 429-0262, ext. 4.

INTERFAITH SEWING AND SERVICE GROUP – Willimantic

First Congregational Church, 199 Valley St., Willimantic, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Projects: CWS – school bags and layettes, Nursing Homes – lap robes. Snow date: Jan. 26. Info: (860) 228-9658.

HOSPICE HOSPITALITY LUNCHEON – Chaplin

Hospice of Eastern Connecticut will hold its hospitality luncheon at the Pine Acres Restaurant, Route 6, Chaplin from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This is a social gathering of people who are successfully moving on with their lives after a loss. Group is open to the community. Info: (860) 456-7288, ext. 293.

Thursday Jan. 26

LIBRARY FUNDRAISER – Willington

The Willington Public Library, 7 Ruby Road, Willington, will host “Demarle at Home” library fundraiser at 6 p.m. Info: (860) 429-3854.

ROSS MILLER ON PHILIP ROTH, UPDATED – UConn

Ross Miller, who is writing the official biography of Philip Roth (with Roth’s cooperation), will update those who are interested on the progress of this project to be published by Houghton Harcourt. Roth’s talk at the University of Connecticut Co-op, 2975 Hillside Road, Storrs, is at 6 p.m. For more information, visit http://generalbooks.bookstore.uconn.edu/event/ross-miller-philip-roth-updated-0 or call (860) 486-5027.

NIGHTSONGS OPEN MIKE/SONGSHARE – Coventry

The Nightsongs Open Mike/Songshare will be held at the Song-­a-Day Music Center, 2809 Boston Turnpike (Route 44) in Coventry. Music begins at 7 p.m.; sign-up is at 6:30 p.m. Songwriters, music and spoken-word performers and the musically curious are invited to share music and discussion. This event is free and open to the public. Come and share songs, swap stories and enjoy the company of musicians. For more information, call (860) 742-6878 or e-mail inquiries@songaday­music.com

Friday Jan. 27

LEGENDARY PIANIST/COMPOSER AT JORGENSEN – UConn

Chucho Valdés, pianist and composer will perform at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, 2132 Hillside Road, Storrs, on the University of Connecticut campus at 8 p.m. Tickets/info: (860) 486-4226 or online at jorgensen.uconn.edu

Saturday Jan. 28

ICE FISHING CLASS AND DERBY – Coventry

Members of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education (CARE) program will conduct a Family Ice Fishing Derby at Patriot’s Park on Coventry Lake in Coventry from noon to 3 p.m. (weather permitting). A Family Ice Fishing Class is planned prior to the derby at the Patriot’s Park Community Center. The class will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. (with or without ice) and registration is required. The derby is free of charge and will be conducted by certified DEEP Fisheries CARE instructors. The DEEP Derby is sponsored by the Coventry Parks and Recreation Department. For registration and more information, call (860) 742-4068.

MOVIE – ‘DOLPHIN’S TALE’ – Willington

The Willington Public Library, 7 Ruby Road, Willington, will host the movie “Dolphin’s Tale” in the Community Room at 12:30 p.m. This movie is rated PG and runs for 113 minutes. Participants can also bring their own snacks.

MUSIC WORKSHOPS – Coventry

The Song-a-Day Music Center, 2809 Boston Turnpike, Route 44, Coventry, will present two music workshops, “Mountain Dulcimer Potpourri” and “The Songs of the Carter Family” from 2 to 4 p.m. Space for the workshops is limited. Call for reservations. Fee for each work­shop is $30. Info: (860) 742-6878 or go to www.songadaymusic.com

ARMY BAND CONCERT – Chaplin

The 102nd Army Band will perform a free concert at Parish Hill High School, Parish Hill Road, Chaplin, at 7 p.m. The band consists of several ensembles including a concert band, big band and a jazz combo. Info: (860) 455-9584.

LEGENDARY PIANIST/COMPOSER AT JORGENSEN – UConn

Chucho Valdés, pianist and composer will perform at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, 2132 Hillside Road, Storrs, on the University of Connecticut campus at 8 p.m. Tickets/info: (860) 486-4226 or online at jorgensen.uconn.edu

Sunday Jan. 29

WINTER TREK AT ALLANACH-WOLF WOODLANDS – Windham

Join naturalist Ken Metzler for a tour of the winter world at 1 p.m. Walkers will snowshoe if there is snow. EMS will provide snowshoes at half the regular rental price ($10) as available. Instruction will be pro­vided at 12:30 p.m. Space is limited, registration is required. Contact Richard Bunce at (860) 647-1455 by Jan. 22. Find information about Joshua’s Trust at www.joshuaslandtrust.org

LOOKING AHEAD…

Monday Jan. 30

WILLIMANTIC WHITEWATER PARTNERSHIP DRIVE

The annual meeting, fundraiser and membership drive of the Willimantic Whitewater Partnership will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at Willimantic Brewing Co./Main St. Café, 967 Main St., Willimantic.

VOICEMAIL, THE OPEN MIKE FOR STORYTELLING – Storrs/Mansfield

VoiceMail, the open mike for storytelling, will be held at The Mansfield General Store, Route 195/Storrs Road, Mansfield Center, at 7 p.m. Come for the soup and chili bar and stories. Proceeds of free will donation benefit the Connecticut Storytelling Center. For more information, visit www.connstorycenter.org And visit Mansfield General Store on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MansfieldGeneralStore

Tuesday Jan. 31

SOCIAL SECURITY SEMINAR – Willington

Willington Public Library, 7 Ruby Road, Willington, will host a free Social Security seminar in the Community Room at 7 p.m. Come and get all the latest information and answers to all those important questions. Info: (860) 429-3854.

Wednesday Feb. 1

INTERFAITH SEWING AND SERVICE GROUP – Willimantic

First Congregational Church, 199 Valley St., Willimantic, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Projects: Hospital – red flag blankets, CWS – schools bags, hospice – quilted prayer shawl. Snow date: Feb. 2. Info: (860) 228-9658.

Friday Feb. 3

‘THE CITY DARK’ – E.O. SMITH – Storrs/Mansfield

E. O. Smith High School’s auditorium, Storrs Road, Storrs, is the location of a film screening of “The City Dark” at 7 p.m. Free. Info: (860) 208-7273.

Posted Jan. 23, 2012

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. To keep up-to-date on local news, “like” us (HTNP News) on Facebook and follow us ( @HTNP) on Twitter!

Local firefighter’s mission is to aid Sept. 11 responders now struggling with cancer

January 22, 2012 Areawide, Local News No Comments

South Windham, CT firefighter Jim Preston (third from left), Northeast Director of the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation, is working to provide air purifiers for the homes of sick responders of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. With him are (L-R) Willimantic firefighter Natalie Siebecker, fundraiser David Wollner from the Willimantic Brewing Co. and Willimantic firefighter Ron Miles Jr. Photo by Al Malpa

Currently, the Northeast Director of the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation, Jim Preston, 52, has been a volunteer firefighter at the South Windham Fire Department for more than 16 years.

He’s also a supervisor at Home Depot.

And he’s a man on a “mission” – to help those who rose to the occasion on one of the darkest days in U. S. history – the firefighters, 9/11 responders, Ground Zero workers and family members who have been stricken with cancer.

While the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks immediately killed thousands at the World Trade Center in New York, as well as more in Washington, D.C. and those aboard Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, more of those who came to their rescue are dying as well, mainly due to cancer and other diseases associated with the environment of Ground Zero.

The Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation, which has grown internationally to Australia and England, is working now to provide air purifiers for the homes of sick 9/ 11 responders and others involved.

Preston, has worked at the foundation for more than eight months. “We are losing, sometimes, up to three (responders) a week,” said Preston.

More than 1,000 Sept. 11 responders have died since the cleanup ended, he said.

Preston joined the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation when its President Cindy Ell asked him if he’d be interested, at a press conference in Boston. “I couldn’t say no. How can you?” Preston recalled.

Preston lost his first wife to cancer when she was only 27, and then his mother three weeks later to the same disease.

Now he is joined by Cheryl Preston, his wife of 20 years, in this different kind of rescue effort. “We try to find these people and find out exactly what they need,” Preston said.

The foundation will help with anything from legal advice to finding them cheaper, better medications, Preston said.

Preston admits to feeling guilty, even today, for not going to Ground Zero right away. At the time, he was working for American Ambulance Services and couldn’t leave Connecticut immediately.

Many of his coworkers left right away, but Preston waited for his days off to go.

When Preston arrived, it was already the first weekend after the attacks. With his wife by his side, Preston went to as many firehouses as he could.

“I was freelancing and doing whatever I could to help,” said Preston. “You could see it in their eyes. It was a heartbreaking thing.”

To each firehouse he went to, Preston left a letter titled “Heavens Fire Department” in which he tries to make sense of the horrible events.

“In heaven of course there is a grand department,” says one of the letters. “This department is staffed with our Brothers and Sisters from all over the world. God, the ultimate Chief, knew this would be a tough transition so he needed the very best, and he called the FDNY.”

500 purifiers needed

The foundation has a list of 500 responders who need purifiers. Each costs $500. Made by the MagneGrip Group, they are hospital grade. They can even sense toxic chemical fumes in the air and break them down.

“What we are doing is all worthwhile,” Preston said. “This may extend someone’s life.”

Preston has another goal, and that is to get the Zadroga Act amended. The controversial federal bill was supposed to improve services and protection for 9/11 responders, but lacks coverage for cancer.

“We need to get these people the help that they need,” said Preston. He noted the bill covers carpal tunnel syndrome, but not cancer.

“We never hear about that bill or the responders anymore,” Preston said. “We are only 145 miles from Manhattan. This is terribly frustrating.”

His message to those responders in the Northeast whom he hasn’t found yet is to just sit tight – Preston will find you. “To the people out there, we love you and we aren’t going to leave any of you behind,” he said.

However, for all the foundation’s work, they are losing men and women on a weekly basis. Purifiers won’t save their lives, but they may add more time.

Preston said he and his wife attend the funerals of those who lose their battle with cancer.

“She’s incredible,” said Preston. At the last funeral they went to, he said, Cheryl Preston pulled her husband aside and told him that she loved him.

“She said, ‘I’m so glad you didn’t go (that day),'” Preston said, tears in his eyes. “‘I know you feel guilty.'”

The next step for Preston is to keep spreading the word. He has a couple of conferences lined up in New Hampshire and Massachusettsto get more people involved.

For more information about the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation, visit www.ffcancer.org

Also, donations can be mailed to Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 2830, Wilmington, Del. 19805.

Questions? Call Jim Preston at (860) 617-7450.

Posted Jan. 22, 2012 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. To keep up-to-date on local news, “like” us (HTNP News) on Facebook and follow us ( @HTNP) on Twitter!

Applications now available for state's annual firewood lottery

January 20, 2012 Areawide, Local News No Comments

Applications will be accepted until Feb. 1 2012. The Firewood Lottery will be determined using a random-number-generating process. “Winners” will be posted on the DEEP Forestry Website by March 14. Firewood lots are generally offered during the warm months when forest roads are accessible. Connecticut residents may apply for one Forest Products Harvesting Permit per household per year.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announces that applications for the annual state forest firewood lottery are now available.

Applications will be accepted until Feb. 1 2012. The Firewood Lottery will be determined using a random-number-generating process. “Winners” will be posted on the DEEP Forestry Website by March 14.

Firewood lots are generally offered during the warm months when forest roads are accessible.

Connecticut residents may apply for one Forest Products Harvesting Permit per household per year.

Firewood Program in State Forests

The annual firewood lottery provides Connecticut homeowners with a renewable, affordable, locally grown fuel source.

Firewood harvesting from State land helps achieve sustainable forest management goals, improve forest health, and offers fun physical activity for family and friends. (Henry David Thoreau is often credited with the saying that firewood warms you twice, once through the exercise of splitting and once in the fireplace.)

DEEP reminds all visitors that removal of any firewood from a state forest requires a permit.

Standing trees and downed wood will be sold to the lottery winners in designated two-cord lots for $60 by DEEP Foresters, as forest road conditions allow.

Most all permits will be issued before October 2012.

In addition, personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn while cutting wood. The minimum requirements of PPE include: hard hat, eye protection, hearing protection, and cut-resistant chaps or pants.

Chainsaws have to be equipped with properly functioning safety devices, including a chain brake.

Cutters without PPE may have their Forest Product Agreement revoked and not be offered a woodlot the following year.

To submit an application

Applications may be downloaded and more information may be found at the State Lands Firewood Program Web site at http://ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2697&q=429464&depNav_GID=1631 or by calling 1-860-424-3630.

Applicants who do not receive a permit by lottery selection will be placed on an alternate list. Alternates may be offered permits at the discretion of DEEP Forestry based on supply.

Posted Jan. 20, 2012

Editor’s note: The cost for pre-cut firewood in Connecticut at this time appears to range from $160 to $225 a cord.

Related links: What is a cord of wood? http://www.snowservicesllc.net/

Listing of some CT businesses selling firewood http://www.firewoods.net/ne/CT.aspx

CT DEEP/Forestry listing of certified wood product sellers – look to right column for link to info about certification and the list (in PDF format). http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2697&q=322792&depNav_GID=1631

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. To keep up-to-date on local news, “like” us (HTNP News) on Facebook and follow us ( @HTNP) on Twitter!

Generations Family Health Center celebrates new home

State Rep Susan Johnson cuts the ribbon at the ceremonial opening Jan. 19, 2012 of Generations Family Health Center in Willimantic CT with Arvind Shaw, CEO of Generations, left and Sen. Donald E. Williams, Jr., right. Photo by Al Malpa

What began more than two decades ago as a part-time health services office in a small “white house” off Mansfield Avenue in Willimantic, has bloomed into a 32,000- square-foot geo­thermal facility.

And, it will allow Generations Family Health Center to improve both the quality and the quantity of the services it provides to local residents.

The new space will allow the health center to increase the number of unduplicated patients from 7,800 to 9,300.

Plus, it’s all theirs.

Administrators, staff, board members, legislators, community members and those otherwise invested in the healthcare facility, which serves under-insured and uninsured residents throughout Windham County, gathered at the new location at 40 Mansfield Ave. (between Main and Valley Streets) Thursday (Jan. 19) for a grand opening ceremony.

Generations actually began servicing patients at the new location Dec. 19, 2010.

For Generations Executive Director Arvind Shaw, the ribbon-cutting was a special day indeed.

“This is way too emotional for me,” said Shaw, reflecting on the journey during a tour of the facility before the ceremony.

Featuring dual access X-ray machines, centralized treatment areas and lots and lots of windows to let in natural light, the new facility rendered the previous rented location at 1315 Main St. cave-like in comparison.

In designing the new facility, Shaw said, they relied on feedback from the people who would be using it the most. “We listened to our staff and we listened to our patients,” said Shaw. “The patients wanted light.”

The $16 million facility was funded by a variety of sources, including a USDA loan, state dollars under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, New Market Tax Credits, as well as donations from foundations, corporations and individuals.

While the building was closed during Thursday’s event, most staff was on hand to share in the big day.

Dr. Margaret Ann Smith, chief dental officer, said her expanded workspace was much needed.

“It doubles the number of people we can take,” said Smith. “It’s beautiful, it’s efficient and the patients just love it.”

In addition to increasing the number of operatories from five to 10, the spacious new dental stations are designed to accommodate left-handed dentists and offer X-ray machines efficiently positioned between two adjacent stations for use by each.

Ken Maharan, a medical assistant who joined Generations a year ago, said the new space is much more professional than the old one. “When you get up in the morning and you like coming to work, it’s a lot of fun,” said Maharan.

Rebecca Antonucci, a medical receptionist, who has never worked in a public healthcare facility before, said the comparison is incredible.

“We do about everything we can to help anyone who needs it,” said Antonucci.

Along with this facility, Generations is also building a new 10,000- square-foot facility in Putnam and has offices in Danielson and Norwich. They also have three mobile stations.

In addition to medical and dental services, the facility also has a comprehensive behavioral health unit serving children and adults with individual and group therapy and medication management.

Dr. Irma Ross, chief of behavioral health, who just joined Generations after 32 years at Waterbury Hospital, said it was an opportunity she couldn’t resist.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney helps welcome visitors at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Generationsl Family Health Center on Jan. 19, 2012 in Willimantic, CT. Seated beside the podium is Generations CEO Arvin Shaw. Photo by Al Malpa

Ross said the focus now is on providing comprehensive health care, which means addressing the whole individual and all of the health-related needs, physical and emotional.

“We are working on integrating medical and behavioral health,” said Ross, including an initiative to get young children in to see the dentist.

Some said the beautiful new facility, which gives no impression of a stereotypical “clinic” atmosphere, is exactly what they wanted.

“We are valuing the human being, having nothing to do with where they come from,” said Ross.

Carl Asikainen, who has been on the Generations Board of Directors for eight years, remembers when owning their own facility, where all the services could be consolidated into a one-stop shop for the patients and the staff, was still just a dream.

Even when the money started materializing, Asikainen said it was hard to imagine it would, one day, amount to what it has. “The people that we treat and the people that we serve deserve this as much as anyone else,” Asikainen said.

Legislators participating in Thursday’s groundbreaking included state Senate President Pro Tempore Donald E. Williams Jr., D- Brooklyn, state Rep. Susan Johnson, D- Willimantic, and U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney, D-2nd District, while a slew of others joined the festivities, including state Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, making one of her first public appearances since suffering a mild stroke Christmas Day.

After opening at the “white house” on Mansfield Avenue, Generations opened a satellite office at the Windham Heights apartment complex, because that is where many of their patients lived.

Later, it moved to 1315 Main St., where it provided services until now.

“It’s miraculous,” said Dr. Morton Glasser, chief medical officer, who was there at the humble beginning and served patients on a part-time basis at the “white house” – then called the Windham Area Community Action Program (WACAP).

“This whole thing got started because the clientele we were serving were really underserved. Our mission is to serve people who can’t get care otherwise,” Glasser said.

“It’s really heartening to see that we’ve come this far,” he added. “It’s something our patients have deserved all along.”

Generations provides primary health, oral, and behavioral health care, case management and support services for people of all ages. It accepts Medicaid, Medicare, General Assistance, HUSKY, many managed-care programs and most insurance plans. It also offers a sliding fee scale and flexible payment arrangements for those who are eligible. It never turns anyone away for inability to pay.

To learn more, visit www.genhealth.org or call (860) 450-7471.

Posted Jan. 20, 2012

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. To keep up-to-date on local news, “like” us (HTNP News) on Facebook and follow us ( @HTNP) on Twitter!

Want to learn how to help your community during a disaster?

January 19, 2012 Areawide, Local News No Comments

Are you part of a business, church or neighborhood that would like to strengthen its ability to come through a storm strong, and reach out to others? Anyone can take the Red Cross Shelter Operations training; children under the age of 16 may attend if accompanied by an adult.

Recent storms Irene and Alfred saw most of our state shut down and several shelters opening throughout our region.

Self-sufficient, resilient communities are strong communities during tough times.

Many local volunteers used Red Cross Shelter Operations training to assist at the shelters, but we need more help!

Already Trained?

Those who are already Red Cross Shelter Operations certified may join together on the afternoon of Feb. 4 for a tabletop sheltering drill held at Windham Hospital.

Disaster workers will organize into teams and set up a shelter on paper, and problem solve common issues.

Please register to reserve a spot. There is no cost to participate in this drill, and it is open to the entire region.

Need Training?

There is one more opportunity to take Disaster Shelter Operations training before the drill, on Saturday Feb. 4, 9 a.m. – noon at Windham Hospital. Please register now because space is limited. There is no cost to participants.

Are you part of a business, church or neighborhood that would like to strengthen its ability to come through a storm strong, and reach out to others?

Anyone can take the training; children under the age of 16 may attend if accompanied by an adult.

For more information and to register, call 860-456-2221 or send email to citizencorps@wincog.org

Posted Jan. 19, 2012

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. To keep up-to-date on local news, “like” us (HTNP News) on Facebook and follow us ( @HTNP) on Twitter!

Windham regional no-freeze shelter needs supplies, helpers

January 18, 2012 Areawide, Local News No Comments

Volunteer Joe Blotz, left, and staff member Mike McNally prepare beds at the Windham No Freeze Hospitality Center on Main Street in Willimantic Wednesday. The shelter has already been running at capacity. Photo by Al Malpa

With cold, winter weather firmly setting in, Windham No Freeze Hospitality Center Inc. organizers say they are running low on supplies and are seeing a much higher demand for shelter this year.

“Well, our season has been overwhelming so far,” said Director Leigh Duffy. “We even had to open a couple of days early, thanks to that snowstorm in October.”

Windham Mayor Ernie Eldridge said he isn’t surprised about the rise in demand. “The economy isn’t good,” he said.

The nonprofit group, now in its eighth year, provides a space during the cold months where homeless people can get out of the cold, sleep in safety and take a shower.

Since its opening for this season in November, the center has been full, Duffy said.

Last year, 150 people sought shelter at the center, and Duffy predicts that number will be exceeded soon.

“We’ve already seen 105 different people this season,” Duffy said and added that supplies are low because of the center is already serving so many people.

This year, Duffy also has seen an increase in the number of people under 25 coming to the shelter, another sign of a tough economy. (The shelter only takes people 18 and older.)

“They all have similar stories,” Duffy said. “They either can’t afford rent or are in a precarious living situation.”

The usual core group is age 40 to 65, Duffy said.

Located at 1110 Main St. (next to Schiller’s), the center is in need of supplies such as paper towels, toilet paper, razors, shaving cream, decaffeinated coffee, cleaning supplies, warm hats, socks and gloves/mittens.

Those who would like to help can bring their donated items during office hours, from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or you can call ahead to come by at a different time or meet at a different location.

Although the shelter currently has 65 workers, it still needs more volunteers, to give the regular workers a break and to fill in when someone is out sick, Duffy said.

The shelter is usually closed during the day, but last year Duffy tried to let people sleep in if they were sick in order to reduce the spread of illnesses – but this year she doesn’t have the funding to do that, she said.

“We have to have people on site when we do that,” said Duffy. “I was working 16-hour days then, but we can always use more volunteers.”

The shelter gets almost all of its money directly from donations from the community.

Duffy said she has never had to turn anyone away and never will. “If someone has to sleep on the floor they can,” she said. Duffy and her staff have even taken visitors into their homes for the night, she said.

With more than two months of winter still left, the shelter is going to need as much help as it can get, Duffy said.

Eldridge said he understands that it isn’t easy to get donations for the shelter. “It’s not as much that they don’t care as they don’t have it to give,” he said.

“The jobs just aren’t there today,” said Eldridge. “When I was a kid there were plenty of jobs… Those jobs aren’t there anymore, not in our section of the world.”

Later this month, the shelter will host Bruce John’s “Hollywood Nights,” it’s fifth annual fundraiser. Tickets to the Jan. 21 event, at the Willimantic Elks Club, are $20 and all proceeds benefit the Windham Region No Freeze Project.

“The event will help us to cover the rent for the year,” Duffy said.

For more information about volunteering or making a donation, call the center at (860) 450-1346 or send an e-mail to windham.nofreeze@gmail.com Donations can be mailed to The Windham No Freeze Project, P.O. Box 46, Willimantic 06226.

Posted Jan. 18, 2012 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. To keep up-to-date on local news, “like” us (HTNP News) on Facebook and follow us ( @HTNP) on Twitter!

Reinvent Connecticut – still time to register for business workshops

January 4, 2012 Areawide, Business No Comments
"These sessions provide an opportunity for citizens to sit down at a table with a professional, ask questions and have them answered immediately, and fill out applications on the spot.  Small businesses are critical to the state’s economic recovery, and these types of personal gatherings are giving a face to a state agency that is critical to the growth of small businesses.” - Gov. Malloy

"These sessions provide an opportunity for citizens to sit down at a table with a professional, ask questions and have them answered immediately, and fill out applications on the spot. Small businesses are critical to the state’s economic recovery, and these types of personal gatherings are giving a face to a state agency that is critical to the growth of small businesses.” - Gov. Malloy

There is still time to register for the last three workshops in the Reinvent Connecticut series, sponsored by the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).

The workshops are designed to give small businesses a firsthand look at how the state can help them create jobs and expand their operations.

Participants will learn about the recent jobs legislation, as well as existing programs to assist Connecticut businesses.

Key provisions of the recently passed Jobs Bill include:

Small Business Express Program (EXP) – provides $100 million to help Connecticut’s small businesses access much-needed capital.

Job Expansion Tax Credit (JET) program – provides a tax credit $500 per month for each new employee or $900 per month for certain employees if they are disabled, unemployed or a veteran.

First Five program – was expanded so DECD can provide state assistance to five additional business development projects, for a total of 10, in 2012.

The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) – can establish additional airport development zones, similar to the zone near Bradley International Airport, around the state’s smaller airports. Businesses within these zones can be eligible for property tax exemptions and corporation business tax credits.

Manufacturing Reinvestment Account (MRA) program – was expanded to help even more small manufacturers in Connecticut invest more in their businesses.

Subsidized Training & Employment Program (STEP) – will provide funding to small businesses and small manufacturers for a portion of a worker’s employment costs, including training.

Increases by a total of up to $340 million in bonding for the state’s Manufacturing Assistance Act (MAA).

Business entity tax – now collected every other year, rather than annually. This lowers the cost of doing business in Connecticut.

DECD has scheduled two webinars for those that cannot attend the final workshops. They will be held Jan. 18, 2012 from 9-10 a.m. and Jan. 19, 2012 from 1-2 p.m. (call 1-800-392-2122 for more information.)

DECD business specialists will be at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport on Jan. 5; the Four Points Sheraton in Meriden on Jan. 9; the Matrix Corporate Center in Danbury on Jan. 12; and the Branford Community House on Jan. 19.

Those interested in attending the remaining sessions should register in advance at http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22DQSU2K9BX or call 800-392-2122 for more information.

“Since I took office, one of my primary goals has been to reconnect state government and the business community. One of the concerns I heard most was the feeling that government wasn’t listening – that it was disengaged from those it was supposed to be serving,” said Gov. Malloy. “That’s why these informational sessions are so important. It’s a way for business owners and other entrepreneurial-minded people to get the assistance they need and forge relationships with our business development team.

“These sessions provide an opportunity for citizens to sit down at a table with a professional, ask questions and have them answered immediately, and fill out applications on the spot. Small businesses are critical to the state’s economic recovery, and these types of personal gatherings are giving a face to a state agency that is critical to the growth of small businesses.”

Initiated Nov. 9, 2011 these sessions have been attended by about 800 people and have resulted in more than 144 applications for the state’s newest program called the Small Business Express Program (EXP).

Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development and Deputy Commissioner Ron Angelo have led more than 12 sessions across the state.

Posted Jan. 5, 2012

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. To keep up-to-date on local news, “like” us (HTNP News) on Facebook and follow us ( @HTNP) on Twitter!

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