The year in review across the Norwich/Griswold area, Part One

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Region - posted Thu., Dec. 19, 2013
The St. Vincent dePaul Soup Kitchen faces conflicts with neighbors in its new location at a former Cliff Street parochial school. File photos.
The St. Vincent dePaul Soup Kitchen faces conflicts with neighbors in its new location at a former Cliff Street parochial school. File photos.

This is a recap of the top headlines from the past year’s Jewett City/Norwich edition of the ReminderNews:

January: Norwich marked the new year with a city-wide event, ringing the city’s bells as was done 150 years before to commemorate the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Norwich Area Renaissance Collaborative unveiled a rolling interactive kiosk intended to promote tourism in the city. Norwich police officer Jonathan Ley was injured during a stand-off with a gunman threatening suicide. Griswold High School social studies teacher Betsy Kowal was named Teacher of the Year. In response to the previous month’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Voluntown officials said they had tightened up their school security plan. Jewett City business owners were unnerved by a rash of break-ins.

February: Voluntown’s community ice skating rink opened for the season. Former Griswold superintendent of schools Elizabeth Osga volunteered to help staff the Newtown school office in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Frigid temperatures brought out ice fishermen to the region’s lakes and ponds.  The St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen in Norwich was headed for federal court in an effort to continue serving clients at its Cliff Street location, after being refused a special permit by the Council on the City Plan. Children First Griswold received a Discovery Grant to aid in its programs to encourage school readiness. The Norwich Post Office building was listed for sale, but its WPA-era mural “Taking Up Arms” by George Kanelous, was not considered part of the deal. A Feb. 8-9 blizzard dumped 2 feet of snow on the region, clogging streets but causing only a few power outages. Griswold’s Special Olympics speed-skating team geared up for the regional championship at the Norwich Skating Rink. The region’s towns applied for FEMA disaster assistance in the wake of winter storms earlier in the month. The new middle college at Three Rivers Community College had 33 enrolled students.

March: Griswold rallied for a fundraising performance for the family of cancer patient Koen Banker the day after the 4-year-old died of a brain tumor. NFA’s boy’s fencing team clinched ECC titles in both foil and epee. Damage from a computer fire temporarily closed Kelly Middle School in Norwich. Slater Mill Mall in Jewett City saw a spate of new businesses moving in. The Norwich Youth Council of the NAACP hosted a community forum on causes and solutions to gun violence. Local school districts braced for implementation of the nationally-mandated Common Core Standards, replacing the Connecticut Mastery Test. The Voluntown Meetinghouse Society was formed in an attempt to save the deteriorating 1840s-era former Methodist church building. Griswold college student Brendan Perry published his post-apocalyptic novel, “Archer.” Thomas Moody, Jr., who survived the Spaulding Pond flood in Norwich 50 years ago, presented his history of the flood, “A Swift and Deadly Maelstrom,” at NFA. Gov. Dannel Malloy addressed gun control and other issues at his March 21 forum in Norwich. Synthetic marijuana arrests were on the rise in Jewett City.

April: St. Mary Church in Jewett City hosted its annual blessing of Easter foods. Local author Diane Perkins launched her new book, “Jenny’s Way,” set in early 20th-century Sprague. A hearing for the Griswold town budget drew residents advocating for more funding for the Slater Library. The Slater Museum hosted its annual show of children’s artwork. Griswold High School produced its annual musical, “9 to 5.” The Rose City Chorus of Norwich, a barbershop singing group, marked its 65th anniversary. Voluntown Elementary School students contributed to the “One Million Bones” project destined for Washington, D.C. Local World War II veterans were honored prior to their flight to their national monument in Washington, through the American Warrior project.  Griswold opened its Little League season with an annual parade. The first day of fishing season drew anglers to Voluntown lakes and streams. Sales of a CD were to benefit the restoration of a historic bell at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Norwich.

May: Griswold’s proposed $31 million budget for 2013-14 went to public hearing. Alan Geer was elected warden of Jewett City. Mohegan Park in Norwich hosted its first youth fishing derby. The Griswold Soccer Club offered its spring soccer program for elementary-school-age kids. Griswold High School’s Alyssa Brehler earned two ECC track and field championships in distance events. Youthtopia returned to Jewett City’s Veterans’ Memorial Park. Griswold Middle School special education teacher Erin Palonen was honored as a “top teacher” on TV’s “Kelly and Michael Show.” GHS students were recognized for academic, athletic and service excellence at the annual RISE assembly.

June: Three Rivers Community College graduated its golden anniversary class, which included 71-year-old Mae Wilson. Maple Lane Farms of Preston won the dragon boat races at Riverfest in Norwich. Fitch Fibers of Bozrah hosted its first-ever Fiber Fest. The Chelsea Gardens Butterfly Pavilion took place at Hart’s Greenhouse in Norwich. A proposed charter revision that would eliminate the selectmen and give Griswold a city manager was up for public review.  A carnival ended “screen-free week” at Voluntown Elementary School. Kathleen Caisse was named Griswold’s Instructional Assistant of the Year. The Norwich NAACP marked its 25th Juneteenth celebration. Griswold, NFA and Norwich Tech marked their commencements; Three Rivers Middle College graduated its first class.

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