Looking ahead to Joey Logano Foundation charity event

July 11, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

The summer heat has certainly arrived in Middlesex County, and the chamber calendar continues to be hot with a number of events and activities.

I look forward to attending the 50th anniversary celebration of Middlesex Eye Physicians at its Saybrook Road location in Middletown today at noon. Middlesex Eye Physicians has served the local community very well since 1966, and I congratulate their entire team on this terrific run. I thank them for their longtime membership in the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, and wish them well moving forward.

I will also be attending tonight’s Goodspeed Gala at Priam Vineyard in Colchester along with my wife Patty. The Gala will honor Chita Rivera, Tony Award-winning star of Bye Bye Birdie, West Side Story, Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, and The Visit. All proceeds from Goodspeed's annual Gala go to the New Works Fund which is critical to the success in developing new musicals and supporting emerging artists who are the future of musical theatre. I continue to appreciate Goodspeed’s importance to Middlesex County, and its longtime support of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber will host two sessions of Sexual Harassment Prevention Training tomorrow, Tuesday, July 12, with the first session beginning at 8:00 a.m. and the second session at 10:15 a.m. The definition of sexual harassment, liability (your own and your organization's), and the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace will be discussed. Attorneys from the law firm Jackson Lewis, LLP will demonstrate how to limit your company's exposure to charges of sexual harassment. This session meets the State of Connecticut's requirement for two hours of sexual harassment prevention training for supervisors and managers. This important workshop is a key component of our First Niagara Workshop Series which has been very successful. I once again want to thank New England Regional President Jeff Hubbard and his entire team for their outstanding support. The First Niagara Seminar Series continues on September 13 with a session focusing on Engagement Networking- Especially at a Trade Show.

The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s Side Street to Main Street Supplemental Program Business “Know-How” Class 5 Certificate Presentation Ceremony will take place tomorrow evening from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the chamber’s Main Street facility. Business “Know-How", generously funded with a grant from Eversource Energy, is an intensive four-session Program which provides practical knowledge for starting and building a small business in Connecticut. The program is targeted for minority small business owners in Middlesex County and surrounding areas within the Eversource Energy foot print. Designed as a companion to the chamber’s award winning Side Street to Main Street Business and Leadership Development Program sponsored by Aetna, Inc., Business “Know-How”, offers a bridge for business owners hoping to participate in the program now entering its 20th year this fall. I appreciate Eversource’s support of this important community and economic development initiative.

This Wednesday, July 13, I will attend a Professional Networking and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Family Care Visiting Nurse and Home Care Agency in Meriden, a new member of our chamber. Family Care provides personalized services to individuals of all ages, physical conditions and cognitive abilities throughout Fairfield, New Haven and parts of Hartford and Middlesex Counties. I appreciate their good work in the community and the invitation to attend the event on Wednesday.

The chamber’s Cromwell Division will meet on Thursday morning at Autumn Lake Health Care at Cromwell. The meeting will feature local updates from Mayor Enzo Faienza, Town Manager Tony Salvatore, many other town departments, and other Cromwell organizations and initiatives. The Cromwell Division is very active and its members have decided to meet through the summer months since the activity level is so high in town. I appreciate the leadership of division Chairman Jay Polke, and the continuing support of all the local Cromwell businesses that support the division.

On Thursday evening, I will attend the Joey Logano Foundation Driving Hope Home event, presented by Planet Fitness, which will be held at Aqua Turf in Plantsville. The mission of the Joey Logano Foundation is to inspire and assemble the NASCAR community to assist those across the nation who are in need of a second chance due to natural or human disaster. The Logano Family was a neighbor of mine when Joey was growing up, and I am very proud of the terrific athlete and even better young man that he has grown in to. I will attend the event with my wife Patty, chamber Vice President Johanna Bond, and her husband David. We look forward to a great evening that was put together to support a number of noble causes including The Connection.

A retirement celebration for my good friend Tom Tokarz is scheduled for this Friday at the Middletown Elks Lodge. Tom is retiring from state service after a long and distinguished career with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. He is a member of the Town Council in Cromwell, and he represents the town on the Mattabassett District Board of Directors. I had the pleasure of coaching Tom during his playing career at Xavier High School, and then was happy to have him as one of my assistant coaches a few years later. I am very proud of Tom and the work he has done both professionally and at the community level. I look forward to celebrating with Tom and his family on Friday night, and congratulate him on his retirement.

The Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell will host a members-only Business After Work networking reception next Monday evening 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 country fair-themed networking and festivities. As I have repeatedly noted, Kristen Pikula, Dan Miller, Donna Franklin and the entire Courtyard team always does a terrific job with this annual networking event, and we continue to appreciate their strong support. This country fair themed event will feature a festive atmosphere along with a terrific spread of food and drinks, and outstanding summer networking for our guests. Chamber members should also save the date for our August 16th Business After Work Networking reception at the Water’s Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook, another very popular summer event on the chamber calendar.

The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce 2016 Women in Business Leadership Conference, Luncheon, and Health & Wellness Fair will be held on Thursday, July 28 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Sponsored by Citizens Bank, the event will feature Keynote Luncheon Speaker Faith Salie who appears on CBS News Sunday Morning and is the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Approval Junkie.” The program will also feature Gina Barreca, the brilliant weekly columnist from the Hartford Courant, Grace Killelea, “The Confidence Effect” author and highly sought after keynote speaker who is appearing at the conference thanks to the support of Comcast, and Kara Sundlun, two-time Emmy award winning news anchor for WFSB. The Keynote Luncheon and Book Signing featuring Faith Salie will begin at 12:00 p.m.  Faith is an Emmy-winning contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning and a panelist on NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! She also hosts the PBS show, Science Goes To The Movies. As a commentator on politics and pop culture, she's been interviewed by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Bill O'Reilly, and Anderson Cooper. As a television and public radio host, she herself has interviewed newsmakers from Lorne Michaels to President Carter to Robert Redford. “Approval Junkie” is a collection of daring, funny essays chronicling the author's adventures during her lifelong quest for approval. We continue to experience strong interest in our 2016 Women in Business Leadership Conference, Luncheon and Health & Wellness Fair, and I thank our friends at Citizens Bank for sponsoring. For more information or to register online, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com.  

The 2016 Travelers Championship is scheduled for August 1 – 7 at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. Each year during tournament week, the chamber is honored to host a Member Breakfast Meeting with a PGA Tour Pro serving as keynote speaker. This year’s Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 2nd at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Our speaker will be 2012 Travelers Championship winner Marc Leishman who is currently the 39th ranked golfer in the world. Discounted tickets for the 2016 Travelers Championship are available at the chamber office, 393 Main Street in Middletown. All tickets available at the chamber are general admission “Grounds” tickets. Cost is $24.00 per ticket, a $21.00 savings on the gate price of $45.00 per ticket for “Grounds” admission. We are so lucky to have the Travelers Championship in our region. It is a major economic generator and tourist destination which is very important to our hotels and area businesses. We are also excited to welcome Marc Leishman to Middlesex County for the Member Breakfast Meeting. I will certainly have more on the Travelers Championship as we get closer to the first week of August, but please be sure to save the dates for this year’s tournament.

I would like to close this week’s column by congratulating Deb Petruzzello on being selected as the 2016 National Coach of the Year in Girls’ Track and Field. Coach Petruzzello received the award on Wednesday, July 2nd at the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Convention at the Galt House in Louisville, KY. Deb was nominated for this award by The Connecticut High School Coaches Association and celebrated in Louisville with her family, friends, and two captains from her 1982 championship team at Woodrow Wilson High School. Her selection was based on longevity, service to high school athletics, honors, championship years, and winning percentage. Deb is a legendary coach and a true leader and I congratulate her on this well-deserved honor.

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