Monthly Archives: March 2013

Southington’s John Weichsel Passes On

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weichsel3Longtime Southington town manager John Weichsel has passed away.

Weichsel, 80, was one of the longest-serving town managers in the United States. Besides serving as town manager in Southington for 44 years, he most recently served as interim town manager in East Hampton.

As a former Southington reporter, I was scared and impressed by Mr. Weichsel, an avid tennis player who was known for his deceiving gruff exterior. He had no tolerance for an uninformed reporter and even less patience with those who had little grasp of basic civics. I respected that and did due diligence because of him.

At his Southington retirement party two years ago, his simple explanation for his longevity was this…”I never planned to stay for 44 years, it just happened, and I have no idea what I’m going to do now that I am done.”

Even the New York Times was intrigued by the out-spoken, long-term administrator who made a name for himself when it came to the police and fire heart and hypertension benefits controversy among several issues. To read the interview go here.

A loss for sure. Heartfelt condolences to his family, including children Barry and Amy.

Best Food In the State? We’ll Know Monday

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food1food2food4Celebrity foodies including former “Hell’s Kitchen” finalist  and Jordan Caterer exec chef Kevin Cottle and culinary expert Prudence Sloane were among those who traipsed to the Aqua Turf club in Plantsville Thursday to judge the annual Product Awards competition sponsored each year by the CT Specialty Food Association.

More than 180 products produced in Connecticut were vying for awards in categories including cheese, wines, jams, dressings, breads, desserts, vinegars, frozen food, snack food and sweet toppings.

“We had a different balance this year,” said organizer Tricia Levesque, association director. “A lot of newer companies entered and some of our veteran companies chose not to compete, but we have almost the same number of entries as last year.”

The annual event is designed to showcase local food producers from around the state and determine who makes the best of the best in Connecticut.

Tabulating scores from judges won’t be done until Friday with winners being announced on Monday.

For the record, Java was a judge for the fourth year in a row, this year judging jams, non-alcoholic beverages, gluten-free snacks and desserts and vinegars.  A perfect workday!

Last year Chaplin Farms LLC of Chaplin  won “product of the year”  with its apple pie jam.

And The WCCC Music Battle Goes On With A Protest Rally

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wccc_optApparently a large contingent of tried and true  “new” hard rock  music lovers are REALLY upset at the changes at Hartford’s WCCC 106.9 FM.

So upset that they are planning a full-scale protest Friday to insist that the Asylum  Avenue station abandon its new playlist  and go back to the selective edgy hard rock that was its claim to fame.

According to emails to Java and the Facebook page “Save the Rock:CT Radio,” established within hours of the announcement two weeks ago that the radio station was “expanding” its music format, the rally  at 1039 Asylum Ave. will begin at noon and continue to 6p.m.

From the “Save” Facebook page….

“Due to the growing outrage from “The Rock” 106.9 WCCC’s recent format change, it is time we, the fans unite and stand up and shout “WE’RE MAD AS HELL, AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE!!!”. The decission makers over at CCC have decided that it was more profitable to become another one of the areas countless other “cookie cutter” classic rock stations, in the process, turning their backs on the new and up & coming bands, the metal & heavy metal genres, as well as us the fans, who have supported this st…ation through the years. So what do we do? How do we voice our opinions? We’ve already done the online protests of WCCC via FaceBook, Twitter & email… now it’s time we show a physical presence, that we are many, we are passionate, and we WANT OUR STATION BACK!! Please join us on Friday, March 29th at 12:00 noon (THIS EVENT IS RAIN OR SHINE!!) in voicing your opinion about WCCC’s recent format change. “
The potential protesters are asked to carry a sign or wear a shirt expressing the message, without any profanity, no alcohol or drugs, and are reminded to stay on the sidewalk and not  impede traffic.
By the way, the Facebook page has nearly 5,000 “friends” and a second page, called down with WCCC has also been established.
 Station manager Mike Picozzi was not in the office Thursday so no idea if he will be there Friday to welcome the gang on the sidewalk!


New Job For Former Sen. Prague

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Prague-101123bAnd in the “age is just a number” category comes this:


“Governor Dannel P. Malloy today tapped former State Senator Edith Prague of Columbia to serve as the Commissioner of the newly formed State Department on Aging (SDA). SDA will ensure that Connecticut’s elderly population has access to the supportive services necessary to live with dignity, security, and independence, and is responsible for administering a variety of federally funded programs under the Older American’s Act.

“Senator Prague has dedicated herself to improving the quality of life for senior citizens—with her background and expertise, she is a natural choice to lead the Department on Aging,” said Governor Malloy. “I know she will make an immediate impact as the Commissioner on Aging and am eager to work with her to address the needs of our state’s growing senior population.”

SDA was statutorily created on January 1, 2013 and will be fully established after enactment of SB 837, “An Act Concerning the Department on Aging.”  All appropriate functions, programs, and duties within the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) State Unit on Aging and Office of Long Term Care Ombudsman will be transferred to SDA once the Commissioner on Aging is confirmed by the legislature and administrative staff is hired.

“It is an honor to serve the people of Connecticut, and I thank the Governor for his trust and support,” said Prague. “For 18 years I represented the residents of Connecticut’s 19th Senatorial District, and I am looking forward to getting back to work on behalf of our seniors.  We have a tremendous resource in our older residents, it is important that the state’s programs and services are relevant, appropriate, and meet their needs.”

Prague represented the residents of Connecticut’s 19th Senatorial District from 1994-2012. In 2011, as the Senate chair of the Committee on Aging, Prague advocated for and achieved an elevation in status for the then-select committee to become a full standing committee of the General Assembly. Prior to her tenure as State Senator, Prague served for eight years in the state House of Representatives and, in 1990, was appointed Commissioner of Aging by Governor Lowell Weicker. As Commissioner, Prague was instrumental in helping to establish the first Assisted Living Facilities in the state and established a statewide health insurance program that counsels seniors on their options for insurance coverage.

SDA will encompass the DSS State Unit on Aging and the Office of Long Term Care Ombudsman which works to improve the quality of life and quality of care of Connecticut citizens residing in nursing homes, residential care homes, and assisted living communities. ”

Congrats to the former senator!


The Bushnell’s Ovations 2013

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“Prepare to Jet Set” was the theme of this year’s Bushnell Ovations 2013 fundraiser held Saturday, March 23, at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford.

And if you had your boarding pass for Bushnell Airlines, you were admitted to one of the coolest events of the season.

Many of the 400 guests at the gala dressed to impress, inspired by the Bushnell’s upcoming Broadway show “Catch Me If You Can.” Some dressed in mod chic attire, others dressed as flight crew.GALA2013 048


“You know, every year I myself am totally amazed at one theme after another, after another,” said David Fay, Bushnell president/CEO. “Tonight’s is a lot of fun, I get to dress up like a captain.”

Representing mod chic was Suzanne Langlais of South Windsor, rocking a really cool pair of go-go boots purchased on Amazon.

In the First Class lounge guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks such as The Jet Setter, the Dirty Draper and the Clipper Cocktail.

Guests included Connie Weaver, one of last year’s Ovations co-chairs; Peggy and Joe Schaedler of Chester; Larry Starr, Cindy Starr and daughter Jordana; Kevin and Melissa Roy; Joshua Reese, executive director of Hartford’s Camp Courant and wife Amanda; and Samantha Browning of Grunberg Management with date Stephen Clement. Event co-chairs for the evening were Rebecca Loree and Monica Hoffman.
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“ ‘La Traviata,’ when they used to have the opera, was the first show I came to at the Bushnell and that is what inspired me to get involved,” said Loree, wearing a gorgeous dress from New York Vintage in NYC.

Melissa Roy, project development at Consigli (a fourth generation family-owned construction company), had a busy day on Saturday. Roy and her son ran in the Sandy Hook Run for the Families 5K earlier in the day in downtown Hartford.

“From spandex to fancy dress,” said Roy.

Ovations 2013 benefits The Bushnell’s arts-in-education programs, including PARTNERS (Partners in Arts Revitalizing Schools).

See more pictures here.

VNA Healthcare’s ‘A Taste Of Hope’

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VNA Healthcare’s annual “A Taste for Hope” event, which benefits the organization’s Hospice Program, was held Thursday night at the elegant Town & County Club in Hartford.

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“The greatest thing about my job is I get to ensure that people get the kind of care they need, by us living our mission,” said Ellen Rothberg, president and CEO of VNA HealthCare. “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Guests perused auction items while enjoying wine, spirits and microbrews by Wine Cellars 4 (all for purchase with a percentage of sales donated to Hospice).

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to bring a lot of different people together, who care about VNA, who are connected to VNA in a lot of different ways,” said Bob Nolan, vice president of development. “And really celebrate the work that’s done in our Hospice program.”

Among the 200 guests were Tara Green, VNA HealthCare director of Hospice; Avery Gaddis, board member; Joshua Russman, RN, nurse liaison for Hospice team; Jim Fox, CSW, supervisor for social work for Hospice; and Stacey DiPiazza, event chair.

“This is a fantastic organization, I’m honored to be a part of it,” said Russman.

NBC CT Doebler Headed To Chicago!

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NBC CT head David Doebler is moving on! This from TV Spy…


“David Doebler has been named president and general manager of WMAQ, the NBC-owned station in Chicago. His appointment is effective immediately, the station announced Tuesday.

It is a move within NBC for Doebler, who has been president and general manager of NBC-owned WVIT in Hartford-New Haven since 2005.

“David has done a great job strengthening the competitive position of NBC Connecticut,” NBC Owned Stations president Valari Staab said in a statement. “With his leadership abilities, local broadcast experience and record of success, I am confident he has the right skills to steer WMAQ as the station continues its forward progress.”

Before joining WVIT, Doebler was the president and general manager for WVTM in Birmingham, which was an NBC O&O during his time there. He has also worked as the vice president of creative services and sales for WNCN, the former NBC O&O in Raleigh-Durham.

“I could not be more honored to join WMAQ and to work with the very talented team at the station to continue the tremendous momentum in the market,” Doebler said.

Doebler replaces Larry Wert, who left WMAQ for Tribune last month.”

Interval House Holds Annual Gala

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ih1Interval House’s mission, to provide help to victims of domestic violence, is a lifeline for those who have nowhere to turn when life becomes sad and fearful.

But on Saturday night at The Society Room in Hartford it was all about smiles as supporters of the non-profit turned out for its “Step Up and Sept Out 2013” annual gala.

The tone was set with a welcoming, celebrity-style red carpet that had even executive director Cecile Enrico giddy.

“I just want to walk down that red carpet with my son,” said fellow staffer, Rosemary Padin, heading back outside for the strut after tending to last-minute arrangements inside. “I can’t wait to walk the red carpet together.”

ih3There were a slew of local personalities to make the red carpet walk worthwhile including Fox Ct/WTIC Joe Furey, NBC Connecticut’s Brad Drazen, WFSB’s Dennis House and Kara Sundlun, and WTIC’s Joe D’Ambrosio.  And home from Washington D.C. was U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal, one of the founders of Interval House’s Men Make A Difference, Men Against Domestic Violence Campaign.

And while he is happy with the progress of his Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, there are other matters in Washington, not so much.

ih2“I am frustrated beyond words,” he said about the federal budget gridlock. “Just frustrated.”

The evening included an auction, dancing and dinner and for most at the black-tie event, it was a night to have fun while benefiting a worthy organization.

“I can’t image in women and children who live in fear of a husband or boyfriend,” said Melody Ricard, an Old Saybrook wife and mother who attended the function for the first time. “There should always be help for people in that situation. How fortunate we can make sure they have somewhere to go for help.”


For more pictures go here.


In The Java World of This and That…

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irish2 (3)In the world of ties, tragic stories and remnants of St. Patrick’s Day, Java offers these:

Some of you might know that one of the Kennedy clan, Mark Kennedy Shriver, was in Hartford Friday for the annual Archbishop’s St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast. He was also the featured guest on WFSB’s “Face the State” with Dennis House. And if you caught Sunday’s pre-recorded show, you might have noticed House seemed to have a bit of a wardrobe change during it.

The story, courtesy of Shriver BFF Chuck Coursey, is that Shriver did not have a “decent” green tie to wear at the morning’s breakfast and House handed over his own to Shriver. House then changed to a different one.

House, however apparently had started taping his weekly show with the green tie, and when he went back to finish the show, was wearing a different, second tie.

Still trying to grasp a Kennedy not having a decent green tie at St. Patrick’s Day!!!????

Speaking of green, have you had your fill of St. Patrick’s Day yet? If not, believe it or not there is still one more Irish parade in the state this month.

The Mystic Irish Parade Foundation will host its 10th Annual Mystic Irish Parade on March 24, a grand event that includes floats, leprechauns, Gaelic music, and the infamous Irish jig! The parade route extends from the Mystic Seaport Museum to the Mystic Art Association. Grand Marshal is Groton Police Chief Michael Crowley. There will also be a special show by the Joshua Tree Band. Parade starts at 1 p.m.

As the battle over restrictions and possession of guns continues on the national and local levels, the March 11 issue of People magazine includes a feature titled “After the Gun Went Off, No Safe Haven”  profiling several victims through the eyes of those they left behind. Among the victims and families featured is Lauren Rousseau, one of six educators who were killed, along with 20 children,  in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

“She Was Perfect For Me” is the title of the poignant story on Rousseau as told by her boyfriend, Tony Lusardi III and her mother, Teresa Rousseau.