Looking back at Griswold area headlines from the second half of 2013

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Region - posted Fri., Dec. 27, 2013
(L-r) Griswold's Meagan Perez and Alyssa Brehler won second and first place, respectively, in the state Class SS cross country championships, earning them each a berth in the New England race. In this photo, they lead the pack in a race at Harkness State Park earlier in the season. File photos.
(L-r) Griswold's Meagan Perez and Alyssa Brehler won second and first place, respectively, in the state Class SS cross country championships, earning them each a berth in the New England race. In this photo, they lead the pack in a race at Harkness State Park earlier in the season. File photos.

July: A Griswold ordinance to use local preference in bidding was voted down and will be revised. Pastor David Larsen, of Voluntown Baptist Church, returned from his six-month stint as a military chaplain. Griswold instituted a community-wide “triad” of businesses, government and residents to help protect the town’s senior citizens. The Griswold Youth Center moved to new digs at the former site of Mad Science at Slater Mill Mall. Local farmers’ markets began their season in area towns. The Eastern Connecticut Performing Arts hosted its annual benefit show at Griswold High School. Teams from Preston and Jewett City earned Little League championship titles.  New retro-styled street lamps were to be installed on Jewett City’s Main Street. “Rock the Docks” concerts began in Norwich’s Howard Brown Park. Buttonwood Farm hosted its annual “Sunflowers for Wishes” benefit event. A 19th-century map of Voluntown was rescued during the clean-up at the 1840s Voluntown Methodist Church building.

August: The newly-restored interior of St. Patrick Cathedral in Norwich was rededicated. Plans got underway for a neighborhood watch in Jewett City. Renovations were completed at the Voluntown fire house. Norwich Bully Busters’ Summer Jam offered fun activities and service opportunities for young people. Promoters hoped that a new musical about Norwich native Benedict Arnold will spur greater interest in local history and tourism. Voluntown Elementary School welcomed new principal Alycia Trakas. The Connecticut Tigers hosted the New York-Penn League All-Star game. The Connecticut Renaissance Faire announced a move to a new location adjacent to Dodd Stadium. Michele Raynor began her first year as principal at Griswold Middle School. Griswold’s summer recreation program saw record enrollment. Voluntown hosted tours of the deteriorating 1845 meeting house in an effort to elicit support for its restoration. Polka Fest returned to Jewett City’s Veterans’ Memorial Park. Norwich artist Faith Wibberley painted a mural on the side of the Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich as a fund-raiser for the Peniel Church youth group.

September: Triple-E bearing mosquitoes prompted the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to close parts of Pachaug State Forest. Center for Hospice Care in Norwich honored veterans at a Sept. 11 pinning ceremony. Griswold and Jewett City firefighters held a joint ceremony marking Sept. 11. The Norwich Car Show drew enthusiastic crowds at Dodd Stadium. Griswold kicked off its “yellow dot” program to enhance senior citizen safety.  The Voluntown Karate Academy re-opened at the Voluntown fire hall. The Connecticut Renaissance Faire opened its gates at its new Norwich location near Dodd Stadium. Local schools and other organizations marked the International Day of Peace. Sprague Community Center hosted Family Safety Day. “Benedict Arnold, the Musical” was given a staged reading at Spirit of Broadway Theater.

October: “Celebrate Diversity” in Norwich attracted dancers, singers and ethnic foods from many different cultures. Voluntown broke ground for upgrades to the town’s basketball court. Internationally acclaimed author of “Don’t Eat the Marshmallow -Yet!” Joaquim De Posada spoke at Three Rivers Community College. Change Wind, a wind turbine manufacturer, announced plans to move into the long-vacant Wyr Wynd building in Jewett City. Budget uncertainty due to an impasse in Congress stalled training sessions for the local unit of the National Guard. Former UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun shared his cancer survival story at Backus Hospital’s Cancer Survivors’ day. A new event, Spooktopia, attracted big crowds of Halloween revelers to Veterans’ Memorial Park in Jewett City. “Remains” film producer and Norwich native Andrew Gernhard conducted a tour of Norwich sites used in filming the zombie movie. An avian vaccine facility proposed by Charles River Laboratories raised concerns from neighbors, ultimately leading to the proposal’s withdrawal. The Griswold Ambulance Company was put up for sale, its officers saying they are receiving insufficient funding from the town. The Academy of the Holy Family-Norwich Tech cooperative soccer team earned a berth in the state tournament.

November: Democrat Deb Hinchey won a three-way mayoral race in Norwich. Griswold’s first selectman’s race underwent a mandatory recount, and Republican Kevin Skulczyck’s initial one-vote margin of victory was expanded to an 854-852 win over Democratic incumbent Philip Anthony. Norwich Free Academy students held a sleep-out in solidarity to raise funds for the local homeless. Griswold’s Alyssa Brehler and Meagan Perez finished in first and second place in the state Class SS cross country race. Griswold officials renewed Day Kimball Hospital’s lease on its Ashland Street home health services office. Norwich was named to a “best neighborhoods” national listing by the American Planning Association. School districts around the region began the transition to Common Core Standards. Griswold actor Joshua Burkart appeared as an extra in the upcoming movie “Carry Me Home” starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. The Griswold Fire Department honored longtime supporters Philip Yurechko, Jr. and Sr. with honorary life memberships. Young people at the Griswold Youth Center learned the art of stop-action animation. Lincoln portrayer Lewis Dube read the Gettysburg Address at Norwich City Hall to kick off a local chapter of the Lincoln Forum. A food drive at Griswold Middle School surpassed its goal, resulting in a pie in the face for the school’s principals. The annual Turkey Dip raised over $3,800 for the Griswold Athletic Booster Club. Griswold marked the start of the holiday season with its annual Snowflake Parade.

December: Lisbon resident Tanya Rose Lane competed for the Miss Connecticut USA title in Stamford. The annual Winterfest parade ushered in the holiday season in Norwich. The Southeast Connecticut Mental Health Authority staged its annual interfaith Spirituality Fair. Voluntown residents began the process of their four-year strategic school plan with a community conversation. As the state marked the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy, security measures in schools were ramped up. Griswold Ambulance Company entered negotiations with the board of selectmen to keep the company locally owned. Despite a referendum vote approving a new roof for Griswold High School, a legal glitch obliged town officials to conduct the hearing and voting process all over again. Donations to this year’s Jewett City Fire Department toy drive were about half that of last year. Wreaths Across America made its first-ever visit to Norwich.

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