Cromwell mayor’s ball will honor key town stakeholders

September 26, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

We have reached the final week of September in Middlesex County, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

Before previewing the meetings and events that are scheduled for this week and for the first few weeks of October, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the great work of the Durham Fair Association and all of its volunteers and supporters. The 97th Durham Fair provided four days of good, clean, wholesome fun, and proved once again that it is the best fair in New England. Fair President Dan Miramant and the entire Durham Fair team did a great job and we continue to appreciate all of their hard work and dedication to the largest fair in North America which is managed entirely by unpaid volunteers. We are already looking forward to the 98th edition of this truly unique Middlesex County institution.

This week features a number of important meetings as we close out the month of September. The chamber’s Westbrook Division will meet on Tuesday morning at The Captain Stannard House, a terrific Bed and Breakfast establishment and longtime member of our chamber. This is the Westbrook Division’s first meeting since its summer hiatus, and we look forward to hearing an update from Town Planner Meg Parulis as well other town and local business officials. Following the meeting in Westbrook, Jeff Pugliese and I will travel to Chester to visit with George Whelen V who serves as President & CEO of Whelen Engineering Company Inc. Whelen Engineering designs and manufactures high-quality audio and visual warning equipment for Automotive, Aviation, and Mass Notification industries worldwide. Founded in 1952, Whelen has become a leading provider of innovative sirens, warning lights, white illumination lighting, and controllers. Whelen has the largest staff of design engineers in the United States and the biggest field service force in the industry. I look forward to catching up with George and visiting this very important Middlesex County manufacturer. Late Tuesday afternoon, I will join Mayor Dan Drew and Middletown Small Business Development Center Counselor Paul Dodge at the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Celebration for Select Physical Therapy in Middletown. Select Physical Therapy is part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division, a nationally prominent, locally driven provider of outpatient physical rehabilitation. We certainly look forward to celebrating with Ben Simaitis, Bill Foster, and the entire Select Physical Therapy team. We wish them nothing but the best moving forward.

The Annual Cromwell Mayor’s Ball is scheduled for this coming Saturday, Oct. 1, at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. This event is presented by Cromwell Merchants Association and Mayor Enzo Faienza of the Town of Cromwell. Proceeds from the Mayor’s Ball will benefit Middlesex Hospital’s Cancer Center and American Legion Post 105. In addition to those important causes, the ball will honor some key Cromwell stakeholders including the co-owners of Willowbrook Spirit Shoppe, Jay Polke and Chris Cambareri. Jay and Chris are being honored for strong corporate citizenship in the community, something we can certainly attest to here at the chamber. Jay serves as chairman of our Cromwell Division, is a member of our Executive Committee, and sits on the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council. I have known Chris for a long time, going back to his high school days at Xavier, and I am thrilled to see him doing so well with the business and in the community. We are very proud of Jay and Chris and very much appreciate their longtime and strong support of our chamber. The Town of Cromwell and the chamber’s Cromwell Division are very important to our organization, and I look forward to joining the Mayor and his team for the event on Saturday evening.

The chamber’s October Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 7 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. UConn Head Men’s Basketball Coach Kevin Ollie will serve as guest speaker for this major chamber event which is sponsored by ConnectiCare. Coach Ollie will offer a preview of this year’s Husky team, and will once again provide us with some insight on his leadership and management style. Every year, Coach Ollie provides a message that goes well beyond basketball, and we certainly look forward to another great event which will be sold out once again.

Immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting next Friday, our Prevention Committee and the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC) will lead a workshop titled “Painkillers & Opioids in the Workplace.” This session is designed to provide employers with insights on how to best help their employees manage pain in a responsible way, how to use opiates in a safe and healthy manner, what over-the-counter medications might be available and effective, and what alternative therapies might be available to them. The session will feature Matthew Lundquist, M.D., MPH, who is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Preventive Medicine/Occupational Medicine, Betsey Chadwick, MA, who serves as Director of the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC); and Kelly Huffman, MS, LPC, CEAP, who is a licensed professional counselor with the Middlesex Hospital Employee Assistance Program and Solutions EAP. This event will feature very important content and we encourage our members to register. We certainly look forward to a busy and productive morning at the Radisson on Oct. 7.

The 2016 Middlesex County Business to Business Expo is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 11 at the Radisson. Expo will once again feature a full day of important events and activities including a Connecticut Tourism “Outlook” Breakfast, the Middlesex County Career Fair, the 2016 Small Business Awards Luncheon featuring DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith, a number of terrific workshops, the annual Health and Wellness Fair and the extremely popular Executive Evening Business After Work Networking Reception. The Expo event is sponsored by Comcast Business and Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C. with media partner Hartford Business Journal.

The Connecticut Tourism “Outlook” Breakfast will feature keynote remarks from Randy Fiveash, Director, Connecticut Office of Tourism, who will share an update on tourism in our state and will share some exciting news with our audience. The Middlesex County Fall Career Fair, featuring over 50 employers that are currently hiring, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Health and Wellness Fair, sponsored by Middlesex Hospital, will highlight best practices for promoting health and wellness in your company and in your life, and will also feature a flu vaccine clinic, blood pressure screenings, cholesterol screenings, bone density testing, balance testing, and much more.

A number of important workshops will take place at the 2016 Business to Business Expo including two sessions highlighting Women in Business and Women in Leadership positions in Middlesex County, two energy-focused workshops sponsored by Eversource Energy which will focus on competitive energy supply and sustainable solutions for your business, two sessions geared towards young professionals which will focus on volunteerism and communicating in the digital age, and two tourism focused sessions including one on digital strategy and another which will feature a brochure swap and networking amongst tourism destinations in our region. Also, the Middlesex County Tourism Council will host its third edition of “Let’s Make a Deal”, which is designed to help our tourism partners create package deals in Middlesex County.

Our Small Business Awards Luncheon, featuring keynote remarks from DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith, will honor our 2016 Small Business of the Year Award winners. This year’s winners are as follows: Business of the Year Award (1-30 Employees)- Cromwell Automotive, Cromwell, Business of the Year Award (31+ Employees)- Saybrook Point Inn, Old Saybrook, Business Growth & Expansion Award-Angelico’s Lake House Restaurant, East Hampton, Manufacturer of the Year-Pratt & Whitney, Middletown, Minority Owned Business of the Year-Tonia’s Tailoring, Middletown, Outstanding New Business Under 5 Years-iCRV/Radio, Ivoryton, Retail Business of the Year-Malloves Jewelers, Middletown, Tourism/Hospitality Business of the Year-Nehemiah Brainerd House Bed and Breakfast, Haddam. We are very proud of our 2016 Small Business Award winners who were all nominated by other members of the chamber. They come from many different industry sectors, but they all share a commitment to Middlesex County and they are all great representatives of our business community.

The members only Executive Evening Event, to be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., will feature a great spread of complimentary food, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks, over 100 exhibitors, raffle prizes, and terrific networking. For more information, or to register for Expo events and activities, please visit We look forward to another successful Business to Business Expo.

I must close this week’s column on a sad note as we acknowledge the passing of Dr. Patricia Carta, D.M.D. who passed away recently at the age of 62. Dr. Pat, as she was commonly known by her patients, has been a beloved dentist throughout Connecticut since 1981. She was a longtime member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce and supported a number of other community initiatives along the way. Pat was a wonderful person who loved dentistry and her patients, but loved her family and her friends above all else. Our thoughts and prayers are with her entire family at this difficult time, especially her daughters Kelly, Meghan, Laura, and Jennifer, her son, Michael, and her husband, Carl. Dr. Pat touched many people throughout her life, and she will be missed by many.