From summer fun to the National Registry: Regional highlights from 2013

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Fri., Dec. 27, 2013
Ray Gawendo and Norman Berman celebrate the Temple Beth Israel's listing on the Registry of National Historic Places. File photos by D. Coffey.
Ray Gawendo and Norman Berman celebrate the Temple Beth Israel's listing on the Registry of National Historic Places. File photos by D. Coffey.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced the distribution of $500,000 from the Main Street Investment Fund for streetscape improvements in Killingly in July. The money will be used for the repair and replacement of sidewalks, curbs, decorative lighting, bike racks and plantings. The aim: to draw more people to the Danielson Main Street Historic District.

Far from Main Street, but closer than most residents realize, are the natural jewels the town has to offer. Members of the Killingly Conservation Commission continued their mission of educating people about the natural resources just minutes away from where they live. They held hikes in the Quinebaug Reservoir, Cat Hollow Park, Ross Cliffs and Ross Pond State Park, Chase Reservoir, Sherman Memorial Forest and Kentuck Ledges. From short strolls to 4-mile hikes, the walks were designed to get people outside. Commission member Carol Wood said she and her group want to promote local places and spaces. And their website offers links to the town’s plan of conservation and development so residents can see the work commission members are doing in keeping with that public document.

Speaking of civic responsibility, Sterling officials have their own method of working across the aisle. After election results are in, they get to work on issues affecting the town. Selectman Linc Cooper says civility rules in Sterling. First Selectman Russell Gray agrees. The Democrats and Republicans work together, he said. “That’s important in a small town.” And Sterling has instituted a Tri-board that meets quarterly. The boards of selectmen, finance and education get together to discuss what’s happening. Communication is key, said Gray.

Shepard Hill Elementary School in Plainfield served as a food site for breakfast and lunch programs this summer. The school was one of more than 400 sites across the state offering free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches to Connecticut’s most at-risk residents. According to the non-profit organization Feeding America, more than 19 percent of children statewide are food insecure – they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. And summer can be the worst time of all. Kids don’t have access to school meals, and food pantries are often lean.

In August, Operation Fuel Executive Director Patricia Wrice met with the Rev. Barbara Schreier and Deacon Earl McWilliams who help manage Danielson Fuel Fund. The Danielson fund provides fuel assistance to eligible residents in Plainfield, Sterling, Killingly and Brooklyn. It's one of 100 sites in the state that partner with Operation Fuel. The fund provides a maximum one-time grant of $500. With heating oil costing $3.40 gallon, it doesn’t come close to filling a standard oil tank.

Cheerful news came from the offices of Superwinch in Dayville when the company received an Export Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce in August. The plant makes winches for on- and off-road vehicles, trailers, ATV’s snowmobiles, utility and industrial vehicles. They export to 30 countries. For a 40-employee company, they have quite a global footprint.

The Temple Beth Israel in Danielson was recognized as a place of historical importance in August. The temple is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its gabled roof, wood and stone exterior, and banks of windows were recognized as quintessentially American and modernist at the same time. But at the heart of the award was the goodwill of a community that came together after the horrors of World War II.

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