State to offer Route 9 signal removal project update in Middletown

August 29, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

Last week was a busy one in Middlesex County highlighted by a chamber Board of Directors meeting and a terrific chamber Member Breakfast Meeting. The board meeting, sponsored by DATTCO, was held at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat facility in Essex on Tuesday afternoon. The meeting featured a great spread of food, productive networking amongst our board members, reports from chamber committee chairs and key staff, and a look ahead to a busy fall season for our organization. I want to again thank both the Valley Railroad Company and DATTCO for supporting this important summer gathering for our Board of Directors. Essex Steam Train and Riverboat/Valley Railroad Co. president Kevin Dodd and DATTCO President Don Devivo both offered remarks that focused on the importance of tourism to our regional economy and to our lifestyle. We are fortunate to have both of these companies as active members of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, and I thank them both for their outstanding support.

The chamber’s August Member Breakfast Meeting with UConn Head Football Coach Bob Diaco, sponsored by People’s United Bank, was held last Thursday morning at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Coach Diaco is clearly excited about the vibe around the football program this year, and his enthusiasm for his players, his coaches and the game of football is truly inspirational. Our friend Mike Casparino, who serves as Northern Connecticut President at People’s, did a fine job introducing the coach one again, and we continue to appreciate his strong and ongoing support.

I look forward to attending a Grand Reopening celebration for Red Fox Restaurant & Bar on Smith Street in Middletown on Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m. I will join Deputy Mayor Bob Santangelo and Middletown Small Business Development Center Counselor Paul Dodge to celebrate the recent expansion of Red Fox with Fico and Zumra Cecunjanin and their team. Red Fox has been very busy since it opened in May of 2015, and we appreciate it support of our chamber and its commitment to Middletown.

 This week also features a few important meetings for our chamber. 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 p.m. in the chamber conference room. The program is a 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 in 1997, 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.

The chamber’s Central Business Bureau will meet on Thursday morning in the chamber conference room at 7:30 a.m. In addition to brief but important reports from key City of Middletown officials, the meeting will feature a presentation by DOT personnel on the Route 9 Signal Removal Project. Will Britnell, P.E., Principal Engineer of the State Highway Design Unit; Matt Vail, Project Manager of the Bureau of Engineering and Construction; and Erik Jarboe, P.E., Project Engineer of the State Highway Design Unit, will visit with our downtown-based members to discuss the current status of the planning for the project and how the proposed changes will affect access to downtown Middletown. Will, Matt and Eric, along with DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker, have been accessible, upfront and very professional throughout this entire process. We certainly appreciate their willingness to visit with our CBB on Thursday morning. This meeting is for Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce members only.

As the summer approaches its conclusion, the chamber team is gearing up for a busy fall season full of events and activities. The chamber’s county based divisions, and many of our industry based committees, will resume a normal meeting schedule following a summer hiatus. Next week features meetings of the chamber’s Environment, Land Use and Energy Committee, Cromwell Division, and Down County Division which includes Chester, Deep River, and Essex.

Our September Business After Work Networking Reception will be held on Thursday, Sept. 15th at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat facility in Essex from 5- 7 p.m. This event will feature a terrific spread of food and drink for members and their guests, and as always, the best networking around. Our membership certainly looks forward to this fun event which will be held at one of the top tourist attractions in the state of Connecticut. I appreciate the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat team hosting this event, and once again thank them for their support of our chamber and their commitment to Middlesex County.

It will be a quick turnaround for the chamber team as our September Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for Friday morning, Sept. 16th at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Guest speaker for this important event is Pratt & Whitney President Bob Leduc. Pratt & Whitney is an extremely important employer and corporate citizen in Middletown, in Middlesex County, and in the State of Connecticut. Bob Leduc has been President of Pratt & Whitney since January 2016. He has held numerous senior executive roles over 38 years at United Technologies Corp., most recently as President of Sikorsky in 2015. We very much appreciate Pratt & Whitney’s support of our chamber and of our state and are honored to welcome Mr. Leduc to this chamber Member Breakfast Meeting.

The chamber’s 2016 Membership Drive will kick off immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting on Sept. 16th. I will have much more on this important initiative for our chamber as we move into the month of September, but our staff is already working hard on the planning.

September is also the home of the Durham Fair, a major event for Middlesex County and the State of Connecticut. The 97th Durham Fair will be held from September 22 – 25 on the famous fairgrounds in the heart of Durham. Durham Agricultural Fair Association President Dan Miramant and his team of committed volunteers have been hard at work preparing for the week, and we certainly appreciate their efforts. The Durham Fair continues to provide four days of good clean wholesome fun and was recently recognized in Connecticut Magazine’s Best of Connecticut edition. From entertainment headliners like Foreigner and Old Dominion, to livestock barns featuring prize-winning animals, to the educational Discovery Tent, to arts and crafts and a number of shopping options, the Durham Fair has it all. The Fair will also once again feature an array of food options, a number of games, and outstanding events and activities. Durham Fair Marketing Director Debbie Huscher did a fine job providing a fair update at our Member Breakfast Meeting with Coach Diaco last Thursday. As I have noted many times, we are very lucky to have this large-scale agricultural event in Middlesex County.  The Durham Fair is the largest fair in North America managed entirely by unpaid volunteers, and it is truly a unique event. For more information, please visit www.durhamfair.com.

I would like to close this week’s column by acknowledging and honoring the passing of Hortense “Hortie” Kabel who passed away recently at the age of 89. Hortie Kabel was a terrific person and a strong and longtime supporter of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. She was the owner of Kabels Luggage and Gift Shop Inc. in Middletown and other locations for an amazing 47 years. She was also a terrific supporter of a number of community initiatives including her service as a committed volunteer for Middlesex Hospital Hospice. She was a chairperson of our Central Business Bureau, the first woman to ever hold that position, and was honored with our Distinguished Citizen Award in 1993. Hortie will certainly be missed by all of us who knew her, but we can take comfort in the fact that she led a life that was well lived. Our thoughts and prayers are with her entire family at this difficult time. I know they are proud of Hortie’s life and legacy.

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

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