Notice:  Route 9 North, Exit 18 will be closed to traffic on Saturday, October 29th from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., due to an event!  Main Street (Route 99) in Cromwell will be closed to traffic from Route 372 (West St.) to South St. for “Halloween On Main Street”.  To access the event, take Exit 19 on Route 9 North.

On Memorial Day, honor those who served, those we lost

May 30, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

We have reached Memorial Day in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation. Every year at this time, I try to focus on the true meaning of this holiday and what it represents. Memorial Day is for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is important that we honor that ultimate sacrifice not only today, but every day of the year. We are truly lucky to live in a country where so many of our citizens are willing to serve, and they are the reason that we are able to enjoy the freedom that we hold so dear. Over one million Americans have lost their lives protecting this sacred freedom.  These men and women, and their families, continue to have our unending thanks and admiration. Memorial Day is a time for remembrance, reflection and pride. So before we fire up the grills, head to the beach, or put the boats in the water, let us again pause to recognize and honor the true meaning of Memorial Day. There are a number of outstanding Memorial Day Parades held throughout the State of Connecticut including in the City of Middletown. We should all take advantage of these patriotic celebrations in honor of our veterans and most importantly, of those we lost.

Last week was another busy one for the chamber team which was highlighted by a very productive Thursday morning at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. We were honored to welcome Dr. Edison Liu, CEO of The Jackson Laboratory, as featured speaker at our May Member Breakfast Meeting. Dr. Liu did an outstanding job with his remarks, and I know that our audience left very impressed with the work that he and his team are doing at The Jackson Laboratory which is an independent, nonprofit organization focusing on mammalian genetics research to advance human health. The Jackson Laboratory, in partnership with the Malloy Administration and the State of Connecticut, has constructed a new nonprofit research institute in Farmington on the campus of the UConn Health Center called The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine. It was great to hear from Dr. Liu on the progress they are making at the Farmington facility, and at their headquarters in Bar Harbor, Maine. The Farmington facility is well head of its job development projections, so our state can be proud of not only the research that the Jackson Lab team is doing, but of the economic punch that it is providing for Connecticut. The Member Breakfast Meeting with Dr. Liu was sponsored by our friends at Farmington Bank, and John J. Patrick, Jr., Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Farmington Bank, did a fine job with his remarks on behalf of this terrific corporate citizen in our state.

This breakfast with Dr. Liu was immediately followed by the 2016 Middlesex County Energy Forum. This event, sponsored by Eversource, Connecticut Natural Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Pullman & Comley LLC, featured a packed agenda which focused on economic development through energy efficiency. I would like to thank all of our sponsors, speakers and supporters of this important event which was presented by the chamber’s Environment, Land Use and Energy Committee.

This week features meetings of our Portland and East Hampton Division on Wednesday at Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park in Portland, and our Central Business Bureau (CBB) on Thursday at the chamber office. Sean Hayes, owner of Brownstone, will provide an update to the division on the park as the season gets underway. He will also lead our group on a tour of this outstanding local adventure and discovery facility. The CBB meeting will feature reports from Mayor Dan Drew and a number of the city’s department directors, along with updates from the chamber, the Downtown Business District and other local organizations.

A Grand Opening Celebration for The Hop Knot on Main Street in Middletown is scheduled for this Thursday, June 2nd at 4:00 p.m. The Hop Knot is a craft beer and pretzel bar that is off to a strong start. I look forward to joining Mayor Dan Drew and other local dignitaries as we welcome co-owners John Schauster and Michael Boney, General Manager Anthony Calamusa, and the entire Hop Knot team to the Middlesex business community.

The 33rd Annual Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament will be held this Friday at Portland Golf Course. The 2016 tournament is sold out once again, and we are all very much looking forward to a terrific day out at Portland Golf Course. We also look forward to honoring our 2016 Robert Briggs “Good Guy” Award Recipient, Pat Walsh. The Robert Briggs Good Guy Award is presented annually in recognition of contributions made to the community and also to the chamber’s Golf Tournament. Pat, a founding partner of May, Bonee & Walsh, is a longtime chamber member and supporter and is certainly worthy of the good guy award. He has supported a number of community initiatives throughout the years, and we continue to appreciate his support of our Golf Tournament, and of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Our Golf Committee has done a terrific job with this year’s tournament, and I am so appreciative of all of our sponsors, our players, those who donated gifts, those who purchased tee signs, and many other members of our chamber who offered their support in a number of different ways. Finally, I want to once again thank chamber Vice President Johanna Bond, who has served as tournament coordinator for many years, for all of her hard work and dedication. This event was rescheduled from May 6th after inclement weather altered our original plans. We fully expect the sun to shine on Portland Golf Course and throughout Middlesex County this Friday, and certainly look forward to our 33rd Annual Golf Tournament.

The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner is scheduled for next Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at the Radisson Hotel Cromwell. The evening will begin with Conversation Hour at 5:30 p.m., and the Dinner and Meeting Program will begin at 6:30 p.m. We are very much looking forward to honoring our 2016 Distinguished Citizen Honorees, Darlene Briggs, Chandler J. Howard, and Larry W. Marino. As I noted last week, these three outstanding individuals have all made major contributions to our chamber, to Middlesex County, and to the State of Connecticut. The Michael L. Green Award, presented annually to a member of the police or fire community for his or her outstanding service to the community and to the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, will also be presented at the Annual Awards Dinner. This year’s recipient is Middletown Emergency Management Director, and former Middletown Fire Chief, George P. Dunn. George is a dedicated public servant that we are all very proud of. The Annual Awards Dinner will also include the formal presentation of the chamber’s scholarship awards to three deserving Middlesex County high school students, Annelise Walsh of Haddam-Killingworth High School, Andre Rogers of Middletown High School, and Daniel Ambler of Cromwell High School. These are three outstanding students and representatives of the youth in our region. We are very proud of each of them. Annelise will be honored with the Judge Raymond E. Baldwin Scholarship, Andre will be honored with the Harry H.S. Phillips, Jr. Scholarship and Daniel will be honored with the Lorraine C. McHugh Scholarship. We look forward to celebrating with these bright youngsters and their families on June 7th. Finally, as I noted last week, the Annual Awards Dinner will mark the official changeover of the chamber’s chairmanship from Middlesex Hospital CEO Vin Capece to Essex Savings Bank President Greg Shook. Vin has done an outstanding job in this leadership role as all of our past chairs have. He has been a pleasure to work with and I know our staff appreciates his leadership and support of our entire team. Greg Shook is another fine corporate leader and citizen. We look forward to welcoming him into this important leadership role and know that he ready to lead our chamber for the next year. Both of these gentlemen represent the best of what the local business community and our chamber has to offer. They are hard-working family men who are not only dedicated to their institutions, but to the community at large.

I want to close this week’s column by noting that the chamber’s Annual Real Estate Luncheon is scheduled for Friday, June 10th at Angelico’s Lake House in East Hampton. This annual event, which is sponsored by Liberty Bank this year, will bring together our many active member realtors who continue to do important work in Middlesex County. The event will also feature the presentation of the 2016 Mary Ellen Klinck Real Estate Agent of the Year Award. This award is presented to an agent who has made outstanding volunteer contributions to our community, while exhibiting professionalism and success in the real estate field. Mary Ellen Klinck is the former chair of the chamber’s Real Estate Council, and former chair of the chamber’s Board of Directors. She is the owner and president of Century 21 Root Agency in East Haddam, and is a wonderful local individual. We look forward to another successful Real Estate Luncheon on June 10th.

The month of June is upon us, the hot weather is here, and the chamber continues to be on the move.

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