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Rowing on the River

In late August, Amanda Aronson, a supporter of the Aurora Women & Girls Foundation, took part in a Dragon Boat race to help raise awareness and funds for the organization. Inspired by that experience, she then recruited women to row as part of a beginner Women’s Rowing Group that has been meeting since September.

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Aurora’s mission is to be a catalyst for positive change for women and girls in Hartford county, and the creation of this rowing group is proof that a “ripple effect” can be experienced when women take part in empowering activities. Two women from the original Dragon Boat team are on the Thursday morning rowing group and the other women represent mothers with flexible work schedules from around Hartford County–many of whom have long-wanted to row but couldn’t due to traditional rowing times.

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Resurrection

The resurrection of Holy Land U.S.A. in Waterbury began last December with the installation of a new 52-foot high cross overlooking I-84. Two weeks ago Holy Land opened its arms again by welcoming the public to an informal open house… a one-day glimpse of the former religious theme park. Both the devout and the curious flocked to the iconic hilltop on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.  Photographs by Patrick Raycraft | praycraft@courant.com

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3rd Annual Pooch Plunge

The Bristol Parks and Recreation Department held their 3rd Annual Pooch Plunge at Rockwell Park Monday evening. About 30 dogs, and their owners, came out to cool off and take the plunge as a good way to end the summer season.

 

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Eagles Fall To Hornets 4-3

East Hartford jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings but East Catholic’s rally fell short in a 4-3 loss at home in Manchester Thursday afternoon.

Christian Caballero of East Hartford puts the tag on Josh Zbierski of East Catholic at the plate as he tried to score from second base during their baseball game Thursday afternoon. East Hartford held on for a 4-3 victory.

Christian Caballero of East Hartford puts the tag on Josh Zbierski of East Catholic at the plate as he tried to score from second base during their baseball game Thursday afternoon. East Hartford held on for a 4-3 victory.

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Battle Of The Undefeated

On Monday afternoon UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said “There’s no matchup for Kayla McBride and Jewell Loyd. I don’t think anybody in the country has figured out how to guard those two. And I’m not sure we’re going to be able to guard them either.” Maryland thought they had a plan but Notre Dame dispatched them easily with an 87-61 victory. Now two undefeated teams will compete for the national championship Tuesday night. For Lori Riley’s story on the rivalry click here:

Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Kayla McBride (21) drives up court as Maryland Terrapins guard Laurin Mincy (1) reaches in for the ball during the first half of the 2014 NCAA Women's Final Four in Nashville, TN., Sunday night. McBride scored 28 points and Notre Dame easily advanced with an 87-61 victory.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Kayla McBride (21) drives up court as Maryland Terrapins guard Laurin Mincy (1) reaches in for the ball during the first half of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four in Nashville, TN., Sunday night. McBride scored 28 points and Notre Dame easily advanced with an 87-61 victory.

Notre Dame and UConn did not play each other this year and the rivalry has become more intense over the years so Tuesday nights game should be a beauty. For more photos of how the two teams reached the final click here:

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Coaches Against Cancer

Nearly forty people signed up to have their heads shaved for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fund-raiser at Vaughn’s Public House Tuesday night in Hartford.

Juliette LaRock (C) reacts as Jane Dunbar (L) holds up her ponytail which was just cutoff during a fund-raiser for The St. Baldrick's Foundation at Vaughn's Public House in Hartford Tuesday evening. Nearly forty people, mostly young girls, attended the event that was started by Jon Cohn, a Manchester soccer coach, who learned of the foundation in 2009. Juliette's twin sister Camille (R) looks on as her ponytail is prepared for cutting. The St. Baldrick’s head-shaving events began as a challenge between businessmen and have grown from one event in 2000 to over 1,300 events in 2012, raising critical funds for childhood cancer research. Events take place in pubs, restaurants, schools, churches, parks, malls, military bases, firehouses and any other place you can imagine, according to their website.

Juliette LaRock (C) reacts as Jane Dunbar (L) holds up her ponytail which was just cutoff during a fund-raiser for The St. Baldrick’s Foundation at Vaughn’s Public House in Hartford Tuesday evening. Nearly forty people, mostly young girls, attended the event that was started by Jon Cohn, a Manchester soccer coach, who learned of the foundation in 2009. Juliette’s twin sister Camille (R) looks on as her ponytail is prepared for cutting. The St. Baldrick’s head-shaving events began as a challenge between businessmen and have grown from one event in 2000 to over 1,300 events in 2012, raising critical funds for childhood cancer research. Events take place in pubs, restaurants, schools, churches, parks, malls, military bases, firehouses and any other place you can imagine, according to their website.

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Dirt Floor Recording Studio

The hills are alive, with the sound of music…. Alright, I mean the woods are alive, in Chester anyway where Eric Lichter has made quite a name for himself producing music at his Dirt Floor Studio. For the whole story by Jason Simms click here:

James Maple and Eric Lichter goof around in the studio while cutting a new single for Maple's upcoming recording. Lichter is the owner and operator of Dirt Floor recording studio in Chester. Eric Lichter grew up in CT and after living in NYC for much of his 20s returned to open a recording studio, now located in a historic home in downtown Chester. This operation is different because he records to tape using vintage equipment, he coaches artists and he'll play whatever instrument needed.

James Maple and Eric Lichter goof around in the studio while cutting a new single for Maple’s upcoming recording. Lichter is the owner and operator of Dirt Floor recording studio in Chester. Eric Lichter grew up in CT and after living in NYC for much of his 20s returned to open a recording studio, now located in a historic home in downtown Chester. This operation is different because he records to tape using vintage equipment, he coaches artists and he’ll play whatever instrument needed.

The place is set back from the road on a shared driveway that splits halfway up. I walked into the house and Springsteen was playing on the turntable, a man with a ‘fro from the 70’s stepped up and greeted me with a smile, hi, I’m Eric Lichter. It was like a flashback to the seventies, he reminded me of a young Bob Dylan with the hair and sunglasses, or was it Sly Stone or, Jimi. Wasn’t sure but I could tell there was a good vibe going on as I was introduced to James Maple, Dustin Meadows and Studio Manager Scott “Skip” Lyons. Maple was there to cut a new song and I had the privilege to spend the next couple hours emersed in the artistry as they weaved a song from bare acoustic guitar, raw vocals and a variety of instruments that both Lichter and Maple would play for background harmony. For more photos click here:

Here’s a short video I put together of my time spent with the crew at Dirt Floor:

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UConn Football | Pro Timing Day

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Former UConn linebacker Yawin Smallwood gets set to work out for NFL scouts at the Burton Family Football Complex and the Shenkman Training Center on the UConn campus. Smallwood is nursing a hamstring injury but was able to participate in timed agility drills.  Patrick Raycraft | praycraft@courant.com

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Giving Thanks

HARTFORD

 

Together with Trinity College professor Pablo Delano (at right) members of the Crouch family (from left is Doris Crouch and her children Jackie Lagana and Lance Crouch) meet to discuss a famous 1940 Thanksgiving Day photograph titled “Pumpkin Pies and Thanksgiving Dinner At The House of Timothy Levy Crouch, a Rogerene Quaker, Ledyard, Connecticut, November 1940″ at the Austin Arts Center’s Widener Gallery on the Trinity campus in Hartford. The photograph was taken by Prof. Delano’s father, Jack Delano, who had been commissioned by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) to document rural life in the U.S. during the Great Depression. After recognizing the photograph in a CTNow insert announcing the exhibit of Jack Delano’s photographs, Lagana contacted Prof. Delano by email to give him the back story from that day 74 years ago. She indicates that the central figure in the photograph and the sole surviving member in the image, her Aunt Jane, is now 91-years-old and lives in Cromwell. Prof. Delano. invited Lagana and her family to meet with him and to view his father’s exhibit on the Trinity campus. Lagana says that Jack Delano graciously shared several other photographs with the family that he had taken that day. The exhibit “JACK DELANO | Photographer (1914-1997) | A Centenial Celebration Exhibition” can be viewed through March 14 at the Widener Gallery at Trinity College.
Patrick Raycraft | praycraft@courant.com

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Bill Covitz – Ice Sculptor

Bill Covitz didn’t know where he would wind up after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1991 with the desire to be a chef but for the past 14 years he has mastered the art of carving ice.

Bill Covitz uses a hand grinder to clean and smooth the face of a "Martini Luge" for an upcoming engagement party. Two blocks with the initial of each person is engraved into the front, a plastic martini glass is fitted into the top by carving out the ice then a large dremel is used to carve a flowing groove for the tube that will carry the martini mixture through block to a waiting glass for the consumer of the drink.

Bill Covitz uses a hand grinder to clean and smooth the face of a “Martini Luge” for an upcoming engagement party. Two blocks with the initial of each person is engraved into the front, a plastic martini glass is fitted into the top by carving out the ice then a large dremel is used to carve a flowing groove for the tube that will carry the martini mixture through block to a waiting glass for the consumer of the drink.

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Super Bowl XLVIII

The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will play for the NFL Championship at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, February, 2, 2014. The week leading up to big game turns into a media circus and for the football fan the NFL has created the largest “Fan Festival” by blocking off over a dozen city blocks in Times Square with a variety of events. I will try give a glimpse of the things I encounter along the way with a series of Instagram photos.

Hope you enjoy…

Gearing up for the "Big Game", I went out and purchased a new hat for Super Bowl XLVIII, MAD BOMBER meet @AngryJohnnie. It's supposed to be a cold night, but hey it is New England after all.

Gearing up for the “Big Game”, I went out and purchased a new hat for Super Bowl XLVIII, MAD BOMBER meet @AngryJohnnie. It’s supposed to be a cold night, but hey it is New England after all.

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Puppy Love

Jessica and Tom Catropa, of Monroe, were among a group of several families gathered in a commuter parking lot in Danbury on Saturday as the Rescue Road Trips transport truck arrived, carrying several dozen rescue dogs from Texas.  The Catropas were waiting to meet Chloe, a 5-month-old lab mix. Her adoption was arranged through L.A.B. Rescue and Adoption Network of TX and CT, run by Suzanne Bristol of New Hartford.  Some dogs were transported through other adoption groups, such as Shaggy Dogs Rescue in Houston. But all were headed to either permanent or foster homes.  Rescue Road Trips, owned by Greg Mahle, of Zanesville, Ohio, makes the 4,200-mile week-long round trip from Ohio down south to Texas and up to Connecticut every two weeks to collect and deliver dogs to foster and adoptive families.  A typical load carries 80 to 100 dogs, many from Houston’s East End, where “dog dumping” and a high kill rate at shelters are common.  Mild winters and a lack of spay and neutering programs have created a stray and abandoned dog crisis in the southern states.  Mahle, who has been transporting rescue dogs for ten years, stressed the importance of raising awareness of the problem to help find loving homes. “I started with a mini van and now have this large rig,” he said.  “But there are still so many dogs in need.” To learn more about Rescue Road Trips, visit their website here. and visit L.A.B Rescue and Adoption Network of TX and CT’s Facebook page here.

 

DANBURY 01/25/14 Greg Mahle, of Zanesville, Ohio, (left) hands Chloe, a rescue dog, over to her new owner, Jessica Catropa, of Monroe, during a stop of Rescue Road Trips at a commuter parking lot off I-84 in Danbury Saturday.  "We are so excited to get her and give her a safe, warm and loving home," said Catropa.  CLOE POISSON|cpoisson@courant.com

DANBURY 01/25/14 Greg Mahle, of Zanesville, Ohio, (left) hands Chloe, a rescue dog, over to her new owner, Jessica Catropa, of Monroe, during a stop of Rescue Road Trips at a commuter parking lot off I-84 in Danbury Saturday. “We are so excited to get her and give her a safe, warm and loving home,” said Catropa. CLOE POISSON|cpoisson@courant.com

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Shuttered School Decision

The Bristol Planning Commission held a public walk-through of the Memorial Boulevard School Monday afternoon and will hold two public hearings later this month to get ideas on what to next with the property.

01.13.14 Bristol, CT  -  A padlock keeps a rusty gate secured at the original high school in Bristol which later became Memorial Boulevard. The Planning Commission held a public walk-through of Memorial Boulevard School Monday afternoon, public hearings on what to do with the property will be held later this month at City Hall and the Bristol Public Library.   Photo by JOHN WOIKE | woike@courant.com

01.13.14 Bristol, CT – A padlock keeps a rusty gate secured at the original high school in Bristol which later became Memorial Boulevard. The Planning Commission held a public walk-through of Memorial Boulevard School Monday afternoon, public hearings on what to do with the property will be held later this month at City Hall and the Bristol Public Library. Photo by JOHN WOIKE | woike@courant.com

What should the city do with the historic school building near downtown that it closed in 2012? Political leaders have debated selling or renovating it, but no plan has won enough support to proceed. Now the city’s planning commission has scheduled two “listening sessions” this month to hear public opinion. For the rest of Don Stacom’s story click here:

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New Yale Management Campus

On Thursday Yale University opened the new Edward P. Evans Hall – School of Management Campus.

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New Haven, CT 01/09/14 – Final preparations were being done as Yale University opened its new School of Management campus, the Edward P. Evans Hall, on Thursday with a three-day conference in advance of students’ return next week. The school is very proud of this new, modern building, ” With its striking modern design, glass façade, and large courtyard, Evans Hall will take its place among the architectural landmarks that distinguish the Yale campus.”. Photo by JOHN WOIKE | woike@courant.com

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State Police Graduation

Connecticut State Police Trooper Trainees Alexander Cintron, Adam List and Gregory Sawicki sing the National Anthem at the start of the State Police 123rd Training Troop graduation at the University of Connecticut in Storrs Thursday. Eighty three graduated and will be patrolling the state.

Connecticut State Police Trooper Trainees Alexander Cintron, Adam List and Gregory Sawicki sing the National Anthem at the start of the State Police 123rd Training Troop graduation at the University of Connecticut in Storrs Thursday. Eighty three graduated and will be patrolling the state.

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Cold Weather Care

Melissa Greenbacker can’t take a day off because of arctic-like temperatures.  She has 20 calves to take care of at Greenbacker Farm in Durham.  At 7:00 a.m., as the sun is just peeking over the horizon, Greenbacker dresses in layers and heads out into frigid 5-degree weather to care for her young charges who live in hutches next to the farm’s dairy barn. After giving them  water, milk and grain, she cleans their hutches. To help keep them warm, she dresses them in jackets during the coldest months and gives them a double layer of hay. “I take better care of the calves than I do myself!” she said. “You can’t do anything about the weather, so I just keep thinking about the warmer months to come.” As for the cows, they prefer colder weather.  “Over 70 degrees, they start to feel heat stress,” she said.

Greenbacker is a 12th generation farmer at the dairy farm that dates back to the 1720s.  Originally located in Meriden and Wallingford, the Greenbackers moved to Durham in the 1980s to a 410-acre spread that straddles Rt. 68.  A Cornell graduate with a degree in animal science, she opted to return to the farm after graduation rather than becoming a veterinarian because she loves working on the farm even though the work is hard and unending.  But the weather? “It’s part of farming,” she said.

DURHAM 01/08/14 Melissa Greenbacker feeds Eve, a calf born on New Years Eve, with a nipple bucket at Greenbacker Farm in 5-degree weather Wednesday morning. Greenbacker spends each morning feeding and watering the 20 calves on the Durham dairy farm.  CLOE POISSON|cpoisson@courant.com

DURHAM 01/08/14 Melissa Greenbacker feeds Eve, a calf born on New Years Eve, with a nipple bucket at Greenbacker Farm in 5-degree weather Wednesday morning. Greenbacker spends each morning feeding and watering the 20 calves on the Durham dairy farm. CLOE POISSON|cpoisson@courant.com

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“Everything you need for a year-round business, all lost in a day,”

Hartford – Louis Sanzaro IV looked around his wrecked office Tuesday morning in a warehouse destroyed by fire the night before. It reminded him of his seven months in Iraq. “It was just like Fallujah or something” he said later. “That’s what it looks like.”
2014.01.07  Louis Sanzaro IV stood amongst the ruins of heavy equipment that was once his landscaping and construction company. He suspects the fire started in a new truck that had some electrical problems, he said. Fire officials continue to investigate the cause.

2014.01.07 2014.01.07 Louis Sanzaro IV stood amid the ruins of heavy equipment that was once his landscaping and construction company. He suspects the fire started in a new truck that had some electrical problems, he said. Fire officials continue to investigate the cause. Photo by JOHN WOIKE | woike@courant.com

Sanzaro got a call about the fire about 11:40 p.m. Monday from an acquaintace who saw that the back of the building was burning. Sanzaro raced to the scene from his Wethersfield home and watched his livelihood go up in flames. For the rest of Christine Dempsey’s click here:

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Toni Harp – New Haven’s 50th and First Female Mayor

Mayor Toni Harp was sworn in Wednesday, becoming the city’s first female mayor and the first new mayor elected in 20 years.

Harp, a Democrat, served 11 consecutive terms in the state Senate, beginning in 1992. She defeated Justin Elicker in the Nov. 5 election last year to become mayor.

State Sen. Toni Nathaniel Harp was sworn in as New Haven’s 50th and first female mayor on New Year’s Day as her daughter Djana holds onto the bible while her son Matthew looks on at Hill Regional Career High School, which was designed by Harp’s late husband, Wendell. (Daughter Jamil is hidden behind Djana)

State Sen. Toni Nathaniel Harp was sworn in as New Haven’s 50th and first female mayor on New Year’s Day as her daughter Djana holds onto the bible while her son Matthew looks on at Hill Regional Career High School, which was designed by Harp’s late husband, Wendell. (Daughter Jamil is hidden behind Djana)

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UConn Women Dominate Duke 83-61

We all have “Bucket Lists”, mine included Cameron Indoor Stadium, home of the “Cameron Crazies”, which open in 1940 on the West Campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. It has been the site of many memorable basketball games, Tuesday night pitted the #1 UConn Huskies women’s basketball team against #2 ranked Duke. When the dust settled from the wood bleachers one thing was certain, UConn has few teams that can play 40 minutes at their level…

It was #1 UConn against #2 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC, Tuesday evening. At the conclusion of the game it was clear there are few teams that will be able to knock the Huskies from their lofty perch.

It was #1 UConn against #2 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC, Tuesday evening. At the conclusion of the game it was clear there are few teams that will be able to knock the Huskies from their lofty perch.

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Sugar Plum Dream

In 2004, former Courant photographer John Long produced a picture page on Gabrielle Collins, of West Hartford, who was a young dancer studying at the Ballet Theatre Company Academy.  Collins, 8 1/2 at the time, was rehearsing for her role as a mouse in the Academy’s production of “The Nutcracker.”  Long’s photos captured the young Collins’ natural stage presence and passion for her craft.

Now 17, and a senior at Conard High School with a 4.1 GPA, Collins is performing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Hartt School Community Division‘s production of “The Nutcracker” this weekend at Millard Auditorium on the University of Hartford campus. Collins, who started dancing at age 6, is realizing her dream to dance the leading role in the Christmas classic.

“Being the Sugar Plum has always been my dream ever since I started dancing as a little girl,” said Collins. “When I was Clara in ‘The Nutcracker’ I would sit in the throne and watch the Sugar Plum dance from the side of the stage and I just always remember being like, I want to do that one day,” she said.

Now a trainee in the Community Division’s pre-professional program, Collins plans to become a professional ballet dancer. After graduating from Conard in the spring, Collins hopes to land a job with a ballet company, or plans to enroll in a dance program at a university.

The Hartt pre-professional program is rigorous and requires training six days a week. Collins has had additional training at summer intensive programs at American Ballet Theater and the Joffrey Ballet, both in New York City, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater.

“She’s very hungry, very passionate about what she’s doing,” said Samantha Dunster, artistic director and chair of Hartt’s Community Division dance department.  “Gabby has a very strong technique, but it’s not just the technique. It’s the passion, the artistry she has,” said Dunster.

Starting Monday, Collins will begin training for the Youth America Grand Prix, the world’s largest international student dance competition, to be held in Providence, Rhode Island, in February.

Now on the threshold of what promises to be a successful career, we revisit Collins as she realizes her dream.

WEST HARTFORD 11/11/04  At the studios of the Ballet Theatre Company in West Hartford center, the mice wait to go on during a rehearsal. Gabrielle Collins, left, plays the White Mouse. Left to right are the bigger mice, Erin Lytwyn, Liz Cook, Lauren Noble and Charlotte Clune.   Gabrielle studies all the other dancers during rehearsals and has learned many of the other roles just by watching. She loves dancing and thinks (at the early age of eight and a half) that she wants to be a professional someday. Courant photo by John Long

WEST HARTFORD 11/11/04 At the studios of the Ballet Theatre Company in West Hartford center, the mice wait to go on during a rehearsal. Gabrielle Collins, left, plays the White Mouse. Left to right are the bigger mice, Erin Lytwyn, Liz Cook, Lauren Noble and Charlotte Clune. Gabrielle studies all the other dancers during rehearsals and has learned many of the other roles just by watching. She loves dancing and thinks (at the early age of eight and a half) that she wants to be a professional someday. Courant photo by John Long

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UConn Defeats Stanford 76-57

STORRS — Most times, it happens just once a season. But for some strange reason, the sight of Stanford-UConn doesn’t seem to generate the kind of national excitement it seemingly should.

Then again, sometimes in the midst of a hard-fought game between two elite programs, the fire and joy of what transpires is overshadowed.

Not by disinterest, but by the concern for a young woman injured in its pursuit.

No. 1 UConn beat No. 3 Stanford, 76-57, on Monday at Gampel Pavilion, their first meeting at Geno Auriemma‘s castle in the cow pasture since 1993, when national championships were just a dream for him. For the rest of John Altavilla’s story click here:

Jonathan the Husky Dog unveils the 8th national championship banner before the No.1 UConn women defeated No. 3 Stanford 76-57 at Gampel Pavilion Monday night.

Jonathan the Husky Dog unveils the 8th national championship banner before the No.1 UConn women defeated No. 3 Stanford 76-57 at Gampel Pavilion Monday night.

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Field Of Flags Veterans’ Memorial

6,674 flags waved at church goers as they entered United Congregational Church in Tolland. Each flag represented one U.S. soldier lost during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

A ceremony was held at the church Sunday afternoon, to honor those lost, as well as veterans and fallen veterans of all wars and current service members as well. The service included the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of the National Anthem and America The Beautiful, as well as a prayer for peace.

The “Field of Flags Memorial” was planted by members of the congregation on October 25th, and will be displayed through November 15th, to remember the lost.

The Honor Guard, of the Tolland Fire Department, leads the procession outside near the end of the ceremony.

The Honor Guard, of the Tolland Fire Department, leads the procession outside near the end of the ceremony.

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Class L Field Hockey Rematch – Conard beats Hall 3-1

Last week, the Conard and Hall field hockey teams — crosstown rivals — played to a tie.

That was unsatisfying to both teams.

They got another chance to face each other Wednesday night in a first-round game in the Class L state tournament, this time with no chance to tie.

But ninth-seeded Conard didn’t want to take any chances. The Chieftains scored seven minutes into the game and then twice more to beat No. 8 Hall, 3-1. For Lori Riley’s complete story click here:

 Kiernan Henderson (L) got the scoring started for Conard at the 23:14 mark of the first half as she slips the ball past Hall goalie Kathleen Keegand Wednesday night.

Kiernan Henderson (L) got the scoring started for Conard at the 23:14 mark of the first half as she slips the ball past Hall goalie Kathleen Keegand Wednesday night.

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