Looking back at 2012, Part 3

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon/Ellington/Tolland - posted Thu., Jan. 3, 2013
Charlotte, 2, helped 'Celebrate Tolland' by throwing coloring at runners. File photos.
Charlotte, 2, helped 'Celebrate Tolland' by throwing coloring at runners. File photos.

The summer of 2012 meant fun and success for many residents of Vernon, Tolland and Ellington. Events like the always-popular "July in the Sky" in Rockville were successful, as usual.

The idea of having a farmers' market in downtown Rockville also yielded success, as they ran every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., although some farmers ran out of goods before then. “It's going fabulous,” said RDA Director Lisa Moody. “We had people showing up at 9:30, before it even opened. It's been a steady stream, and many people stopped just to say thank you.”

On the first day of the market, Megan Grogan of Autumn Oak Farms, in Tolland, said this summer was their first season bringing their goods to farmers' markets. “It's been very busy,” Grogan said, adding that they had sold a lot in the first hour and would definitely be returning.

The Bookmobile program in Vernon returned for a more successful year in 2012, and gave many more students a summer reading boost, thanks to the efforts of many, including a large donation from Key Hyundai. “This is a boost for it, certainly,” said Maple Street School Principal Lois Possell. “Now we're going into more neighborhoods. Last year we were targeting just the Maple Street area. Now we've expanded to a lot of neighborhoods around Northeast School, and we're hitting all of the elementary schools in town.”

Nearly 100 years of police experience departed the Vernon Police Department in July. A ceremony marked the retirement of four long-time officers: Sgt. Daniel Champagne, Lt. Mel Hardy, Det. Don Skewes and Officer Steve Chipman.

Captain Stephen Clark said the ceremony was bittersweet. “On one hand, you're happy and proud that the officers reached a milestone and are going to be enjoying their retirement,” he said. “On the other hand, you're somewhat sad, in the sense that these guys become a part of your everyday life."

But Vernon safety officials also got a boost as the result of a four-day Emergency Operations Center Preparedness and Planning Initiative exercise, in which personnel from many departments got to try on different roles in a simulation based on the hurricane of 1938 hitting the area. “This was a catastrophic exercise,” said Vernon's director of emergency management, Michael Purcaro, adding that it included massive power outages (and an estimated month for restoration), backed-up sewers, collapsed roofs and many more curveballs thrown at them from the state. “While we're dealing with the local stuff, the state sends an inject, saying we just had a structure fire in town, or your water system is not going to be available.”

Another 1,500 people attended the National Night Out in Rockville in August. Among the vendors' booths and fun activities, the Rev. Ray Dupere of the Union Church repelled from his building's steeple and said he wanted to do something to show that a religious leader could take part in something fun.

Mid-summer is not too early for football training camp, and the Vernon Vipers Youth Football & Cheerleading program saw the highest participation numbers in years. “I've been involved for seven years, and I think this year is the biggest influx of new players,” said Vipers President Bill Main, adding that the volunteers are a huge reason for the program's success.

TSI Harley-Davidson in Ellington was home to many motorcycle events, including as the launch-point of the third annual Charlie's Ride, which was created by Beth Hensel and named for her father, who died of heart disease. She also created the organization, C.H.A.R.L.I.E. (Cardiac Health Advocates Remembering Loved ones Impacted Everywhere) to raise awareness about heart health issues.

“Heart disease is the number-one killer of Americans, but it's also highly preventable,” Hensel said. “Knowing your risks and understanding what you can do to help prevent them is a good way to start saving people. That's what our hope is.”

As fall approached, many children looked forward to going back to school. Some children from the Parks and Recreation Summer Camp programs shared their thoughts. “Third grade is the opposite of second grade,” said Victoria, 8, “because we have recess first and then lunch in third. That's backward. We're going to learn more about addition and people who died.”

“First grade is better than kindergarten because you get to have your own crayons instead of arguing with your friends because you have to share them,” said McKena, 6.

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