UConn coach Diaco to keynote member breakfast meeting

August 15, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

The 11th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania was postponed due to storms last Wednesday and will now be held this Wednesday, Aug. 17. This event, presented by Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines & the Hunter Family, is held in memory of a founding sponsor, Dan M. Hunter, and is driven by Haymond Law. We did everything we could to hold the event on its originally scheduled date, but in the interest of public safety, the decision was made to postpone until this week. Public safety is always our top priority, and I know we made the right call. I want to thank Mayor Drew and his team, Middletown Police, Fire, Public Works and Parking, the chamber staff, and the Middletown Motorcycle Mania Planning Committee for being ready to go last Wednesday, and for executing the postponement so well. We still look forward to a great event this Wednesday evening.

Over 6,000 bikes are still expected to converge on Main Street for the 11th installment of this annual city event which will showcase custom and vintage motorcycles. All bikes are welcome to come out for what has become the largest one-day summer motorcycle event in New England, and this year’s version is sure to be a fantastic time for everyone involved, even on the rain date.

In addition to Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines, the Hunter Family, and Haymond Law, event sponsors also include: City of Middletown, Middletown Downtown Business District, Liberty Bank, Bank of America, Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Gengras Motorcycles, Home Team Supply, All American Productions, Middlesex Music Academy, Lyman Orchards Golf Club, Mezzo Grille, Middletown Area Transit, First & Last Tavern, Untouchable Towing, and WMRD/WLIS Radio.

Motorcycle Mania benefits Middletown youth programs, and past proceeds have supported the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program, Middletown Recreation and Community Services Department youth programs, and the Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program. There is a suggested donation of $5 per motorcycle, and $10 for bikes entered for awards. 

Entertainment throughout the evening will be provided by WMRD/WLIS Radio, which will broadcast live in front of The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, “Screamin Eagle Band”, playing original, classic rock with a southern flair, will perform on the Showmobile in front of Bank of America from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and 104.1 Radio will broadcast live by Brewbakers and iCRV radio will broadcast by South Green. Also, the Middlesex YMCA “Kids Fun Area” in Riverview Center will offer a number of exciting activities for people of all ages.

I look forward to seeing everyone downtown this Wednesday evening for what is sure to be another outstanding Middletown Motorcycle Mania.

I look forward to attending the North End Action Team Erin Street Community Garden Party this Thursday evening. NEAT continues to do good work in the north end and I am glad that we have been able to coordinate on a number of important initiatives including developing employment opportunities for the youth of Middletown. I appreciate the invite to the Erin Street Community Garden Party and look forward to attending.

The chamber’s August Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 25 with UConn Head Football Coach Bob Diaco. This annual event, sponsored by People’s United Bank, will feature an update from the coach on the upcoming season of Husky football which begins on Thursday, Sept. 1 vs. University of Maine. We certainly look forward to welcoming Coach Diaco to his third Member Breakfast Meeting as leader of the UCONN Football Program. I thank him once again for speaking to our membership and thank our friends at People’s United Bank for their sponsorship of what we expect to be a great event. Coach Diaco, who enters his third season with the Huskies in 2016, served on the Notre Dame coaching staff as the defensive coordinator from 2010-13 and the assistant head coach in 2012-13. He was named the 30th head football coach at UCONN on December 12, 2013. Coach Diaco has approached his position at UCONN head on and with drive and enthusiasm. We look forward to hearing from him as we get closer and closer to the opening of another exciting season of UConn football on Sept. 1 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field.

Today marks the beginning of the sixth and final week of the 2016 Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program. I have repeatedly noted that we are very proud that this program is once again putting over 80 youth employees to work this summer in constructive employment environments at over 45 host worksites throughout the city. I have also repeatedly noted how grateful we are to our team of funding partners that make this program possible. I would also like to acknowledge the host worksites that provide the meaningful work experience that makes this program so valuable. Our host worksites come from all over the City of Middletown and from all different industry sectors. I would like to once again thank the following businesses and organizations for stepping up to the plate this summer, and for their strong support of youth employment in our community: A Better Choice Women's Center, Allstate Insurance-Jeff Austin Insurance Agency, Amazing Grace Food Pantry, The Buttonwood Tree (North End Arts Rising), Cavanaugh & Company, LLC- Property Management/Real Estate, Change Inc. , City of Middletown Public Works, Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Community Renewal Team, Finesse Cuts Barber Shop, First and Last Tavern, Futures Inc., GeoInsight, Inc., Godfrey Memorial Library, Goodwill Industries / Easter Seals, Habitat for Humanity (Restore), Howard, McMillan, and Tycz Counselors at Law, ID Mail Systems, Inn at Middletown, It’s Only Natural Market, Jackson Chevrolet, Liberty Bank, Marshall's-Middletown, Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, The Middlesex YMCA, Middletown United Fathers- Rev. Douglas Lawrence Community Garden, North End Action Team, One MacDonough Place, Pamela Roose Specialty Hand Knits, Pegasus Manufacturing Inc., Remax /Edge, Russell Library, Ryan Woods Autism Foundation, Seasons Federal Credit Union, Shiloh Youth Intergenerational Program, Stone Post Gardens, Strike-A-Pose with Erica Hair & Body Salon, Suburban Stationers, Trevor Davis Commercial Real Estate LLC, Tschudin Chocolates, Walgreens, William Raveis Real Estate.

A Mandatory Program Orientation and Application Submission Meeting for Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s Side Street to Main Street Minority Business & Leadership Development Program will be held on Wednesday, August 31 at 7:00 PM in the chamber conference room. The program is a one year-long entrepreneurial and business development course with a rigorous curriculum that is designed to assist minority small business owners in the community who have not had formal business training. The goal of the program is to help these businesspeople become more successful by developing the attitudes, skills and qualities necessary for effective business ownership, and success, taking them from the Side Street to the Main Street of the business community. To participate, all interested candidates must attend the Mandatory Program Orientation Meeting, and submit a completed Application for the Program scheduled to begin its 20th year on October 4, 2016. Since its inception in1997, over 235 people have graduated from the Side Street to Main Street Minority Business & Leadership Development Program which has been fully funded and supported by Aetna, Inc. We are extremely proud of this program, it has indeed, been a successful and effective way in which we have encouraged the development and growth of small, minority-owned businesses, which are now part of the greater Middlesex County business community. To register for the Mandatory Program Orientation Meeting and Application Submission, visit www.middlesexchamber.com or email: jennifer@middlesexchamber.com.

It is with a heavy heart that I close this week’s column by acknowledging the passing of Joan Wood, a longtime chamber employee and the mother of chamber Vice President Johanna Bond. Joan worked at the chamber from 1989-2012, and she was loved by the entire staff, the Board of Directors, and every member and chamber associate that she worked with along the way. Joan was a thoughtful, caring and fantastic person who was always willing to lend a helping hand. She served as my right hand person at the chamber for most of those 23 years, and was extremely important to our success over that time. Johanna currently serves as Vice President at the chamber and much like her mother, is a caring and dedicated friend to all of us and critical to the success of our organization. Friends may visit with Joan’s family on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 from 4-5:30 p.m. at Biega Funeral Home, 3 Silver Street, Middletown, and a remembrance service will be held at 5:30 p.m. To share memories or express condolences online, please visit www.biegafuneralhome.com.

I also want to share the sad news of the passing of the mother of Jennifer De Kine, another longtime, dedicated and loyal chamber team member. Jennifer’s mother passed away this week in London, England, and Jennifer will be traveling there on Monday to be with her family. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jennifer and her entire family at this difficult time.

Finally, I also want to inform everyone that the Business After Work Networking Reception that was scheduled for Tuesday night, August 16, at Water’s Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook is being postponed so members and staff can attend Joan’s memorial service.

It was a tough week for our chamber family, our thoughts and prayers are with our teammates and their families, but we will continue to move forward.

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

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