Middlesex Chamber: Awards to highlight work of EMS director, community stakeholders

June 6, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

It is hard to believe, but we have reached the first full week of June in Middlesex County and throughout the State of Connecticut.

The early part of June is synonymous with the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner, and the 2016 edition is scheduled for this Tuesday night at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. This very important event for our organization will feature a packed agenda and a number of very deserving honorees. Our 2016 Distinguished Citizen Award recipients, Darlene Briggs, Chandler J. Howard, and Larry W. Marino, are all wonderful individuals that have a long record of support for our chamber and for many community initiatives. 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 be presented to Middletown Emergency Management Director and former Fire Chief George P. Dunn. George is another terrific community servant and dedicated local individual. Each year at this event, we present three graduating Middlesex County high school students with scholarships as they enter their collegiate careers. Annelise Walsh of Haddam-Killingworth High School will be honored with the Judge Raymond E. Baldwin Scholarship, Andre Rogers of Middletown High School will be honored with the Harry H.S. Phillips, Jr. Scholarship, and Daniel Ambler of Cromwell High School will be honored with the Lorraine C. McHugh Scholarship. We are very proud of these fine young students and look forward to celebrating their scholarships with them and their families on Tuesday night. Finally, 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. As I have noted over the past few weeks, Vin Capece has done a terrific job serving as the chamber’s chairman. He has a very demanding job as CEO of Middlesex Hospital, and we very much appreciate the fact that he has taken the time to support many chamber events and activities over the past year. He has led our Executive Committee and Board of Directors meetings throughout the year, participated in a number of our legislative activities throughout this recently completed legislative session, offered remarks on behalf of the board at Member Breakfast Meetings, has welcomed new members to our chamber, and has continued Middlesex Hospital’s long tradition of being not only a major employer and economic generator in our region, but an outstanding corporate citizen that supports all kinds of initiatives from wellness, to health literacy, and much, much more. I look forward to delivering my remarks on Tuesday night which will honor Vin’s service and will thank him for his long and continuing support of our chamber. I know Vin has enjoyed his time as chairman as all of our past chairs have, but he can take comfort in the fact that he leaves the chamber in the very capable hands of Greg Shook. Greg has been President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank for a number of years and has done a remarkable job with this successful and innovative community bank. He is a great man and corporate leader, and he is ready to lead the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce for the next year. I want to also take a moment to thank past chamber Chairman Anthony Assante for serving as Master of Ceremonies for this important event, and the many chamber members that plan to attend on Tuesday night to offer their support. The 2016 Annual Awards Dinner is upon us, and the chamber team is ready to go.

In addition to the Annual Awards Dinner, this week’s calendar also features a number of other events and activities throughout the county. Our Durham and Middlefield Division meets on Wednesday morning at Durham Town Hall. In addition to local reports and updates, Durham Fair Marketing Coordinator Debbie Huscher will visit with the group to discuss this year’s fair which is scheduled for September 22-25. We will continue to preview and promote the Durham Fair as we get closer. The chamber’s Cromwell Division meets on Thursday morning at TPC at River Highlands. A representative from the Travelers Championship will attend the meeting to provide on update on this year’s tournament which is scheduled for August 2-7. As we have noted many times, the Travelers Championship is a major economic generator and tourist attraction for our region, and our Cromwell Division continues to be a very strong part of our chamber. Friday morning kicks off with a meeting of our Chester, Deep River and Essex Division which will be held at Essex Steam Train and Riverboat in Essex. DECD Deputy Commissioner Tim Sullivan will visit with the division to discuss his role which includes heading up tourism efforts and brownfield remediation in our state. Deputy Commissioner Sullivan is always willing to visit with our chamber groups to discuss these important issues, and we continue to appreciate his support and that of DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith. Finally, the week closes with the chamber’s Annual Real Estate Luncheon at Angelico’s Lake House in East Hampton. This annual event, sponsored by Liberty Bank, 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 to Pam Rizy of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services New England Properties in Middletown. 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. We congratulate Pam on this well-deserved award and wish her the best moving forward. The chamber’s Real Estate Council, which continues to be very active, has a mission to provide opportunities for local real estate professionals to come together for networking, encouraging cooperation, sharing of ideas, and to improve business relations through collaboration and educational experiences.

Mattabesett Canoe Club at Harbor Park will host a members-only Business After Work networking reception next Monday, June 13th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. We expect a nice crowd for what is sure to be a fun night of late spring networking on the Connecticut River. Danny Cronin and his Canoe Club team will put out a great spread of food and drink, and the atmosphere on the water will undoubtedly be top notch. Also, be sure to save the date for our July Business After Work on July 18th at the Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell, and our August event on August 16th at Water’s Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook.

Middletown’s 19th Annual Cruise Night On Main, powered by NAPA, will be held next Wednesday, June 15, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Hundreds of cars are expected to line both sides of Middletown’s scenic Main Street from Washington Street to the South Green. Music and food, combined with an array of pre-1991 classic vehicles, will make this a family friendly and fun event for everyone. Entertainment includes an All American Productions Fashion Show, and WMRD / WLIS Radio who will be in front of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce playing oldies music. The Over the Hill Gang Car Club DJ will be located by Brew Bakers, spinning tunes from the 50’s & 60’s; and WCNX Radio will be in the Gazebo on the South Green, playing oldies and Beach Ball Trivia. Sponsor awards will be announced at approximately 8:00 p.m. This event will benefit Middletown youth programs, including the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program, Middletown Recreation Programs, and the Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program. I will have much more on the 19th Annual Cruise Night On Main in next week’s column, but in the meantime, please visit www.CruiseNightOnMain.com for more information, and please plan to join us next Wednesday evening.

The chamber’s June Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 20th. We are excited to welcome for the first time as guest speaker, University of Connecticut Athletic Director David Benedict. The Member Breakfast Meeting, sponsored by First Niagara Bank, will be held at the Radisson Hotel Cromwell, with networking beginning at 7:00 a.m., breakfast buffet at 7:30 a.m., and meeting program 8:00-9:00 a.m. Dave Benedict is off to a fast start at UConn. He takes the reins at a very important time for UConn athletics, and for collegiate athletics across the country. Benedict most recently served as the Chief Operating Officer for the athletics department at Auburn University. He is a highly-experienced athletic administrator who served as Deputy Athletic Director at Minnesota, and in leadership positions at Virginia Commonwealth, Long Beach State, and Arizona State. We look forward to David’s visit to our Member Breakfast Meeting, and thank our friends at First Niagara Bank for sponsoring. First Niagara New England Regional President Jeff Hubbard will introduce our guest speaker, and will offer remarks on behalf of the bank. Jeff is a longtime supporter and friend of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, and we look forward to seeing him again on the 20th.

Immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting on the 20th, the First Niagara Seminar Series continues with a session on cyber security titled, “The Evolving Risks of Cyber Liability.” This important seminar will address cyber risks, emerging concerns in the cyber area, and the best practices for dealing with data breaches, network and information security, and privacy liability. Our members look forward to a busy morning on June 20th, and I want to once again thank First Niagara Bank for sponsoring both of these important events.

Finally, June 20th is also the date of the 2016 Middlesex County Spring Career Fair. This event, to be held from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Radisson, will feature close to 50 employers and hundreds of job seekers. The chamber is proud to partner with the Connecticut Department of Labor and Workforce Alliance on this important event which is designed to connect highly skilled and qualified job seekers with employment opportunities available in our region. The Middlesex County Career Fair has a long history of providing a cost-effective, results-oriented career fair for attending employers. We expect a number of terrific companies from a wide variety of industry sectors to join us on June 20th. I want to take a moment to thank the Department of Labor and Workforce Alliance for not only their support of the Middlesex County Career Fair, but for their longtime support of workforce development in our state. We will continue to provide updates on this important event as we get closer.

The summer is fast approaching in Middlesex County, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

For more information on chamber events and activities, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com.