Happy 4th of July, Middlesex County; many events on summer agenda

July 3, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

This week, here in Middlesex County and around our great country, we celebrate Independence Day. The Fourth of July holiday is synonymous with patriotism, fireworks, and enjoying the summer weather with family and friends. While we enjoy these celebrations and take pride in our national heritage, we should all take a moment to recognize the servicemen and servicewomen of the United States Armed Forces who protect this independence on a daily basis. I know that Memorial Day and Veterans Day are dedicated to those we lost and to those who have served, but we must also honor them on the day that we celebrate the birth of our nation. I hope that we all keep our servicemen and servicewomen in our thoughts and prayers, not only today, but every day. I wish everyone in Middlesex County a safe, happy and healthy Independence Day, because America is certainly worth celebrating.

In addition to the Fourth of July holiday, this time of year also brings the start of the annual Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program. The work experience portion of the 2017 program begins next Monday, July 10 at 30 different host worksites across Middletown from many different industry sectors. The chamber is proud of all of its workforce development initiatives, but this program is especially important because it deals with our youth population. Unfortunately, due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the state budget, the program is much smaller this year than in years past. However, thanks to the leadership of the City of Middletown and a number of terrific private funders, we are able to put nearly 40 kids to work this summer in constructive employment environments throughout the city. I thank all of them on behalf of the chamber for their unbelievable support of the Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program and the many other community initiatives that they support in our area. Our 2017 team of funding partners is as follows: The City of Middletown, under the leadership of Mayor Dan Drew and the Common Council, Peach Pit Foundation, Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Liberty Bank Foundation, Jarvis Products Corporation, MiddleOak, Pegasus Manufacturing, Greenwald Industries, Stone Investment Properties, Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski, and Middlesex United Way. The original, and primary funder of this program for many years is Workforce Alliance. Despite the fact that funding is not coming through the workforce board this year, President and CEO Bill Villano and his team have done a great job of processing applications, keeping the towns in their service area in the loop, and advocating for funding for youth employment in Connecticut. This program is not possible without Workforce Alliance, and I thank their entire team for their professionalism and support. In addition to the team of funders, I also want to take a moment to thank the over 30 businesses and organizations in Middletown that will serve as host worksites this summer. It is critical that we have host worksites stepping up to the plate to provide the work and supervision that is necessary to truly make this an effective workforce development initiative. All of these local supporters are providing a quality work experience to youngsters who need it, and in most cases, it is their very first work experience. As I have noted in the past, this program is truly developing the future of the workforce, and we appreciate everyone’s strong support. I will continue to provide updates on the Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program as the summer progresses.

While most of the chamber’s divisions and committees are on summer hiatus, the work of the Central Business Bureau continues. CBB will meet this Thursday morning, July 6, at 8 a.m. at the chamber office. This meeting, sponsored by Cinder + Salt, will feature reports from Mayor Dan Drew and a number of City of Middletown Department Directors who will cover a variety of issues that are important to the downtown business community. The Central Business Bureau continues to be an effective way in which we connect downtown businesses to key city officials and other community leaders. We look forward to another productive meeting.

Looking ahead to next week, the Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell will host a members-only Business After Work networking reception on Wednesday, July 12 from 5-7 p.m. We expect a great crowd for what is sure to be a fun night of luau themed networking and festivities in Cromwell. The Courtyard team, led by GM Anthony Covino and Sales Director Dan Miller, always does a terrific job with this annual event which will feature a great spread of food and drinks, and outstanding summer networking for our guests.

Another major event happening next week is the Joey Logano Foundation Driving Hope Home Golf Tournament, Dinner, Car Show and Auction on Thursday in Southington. The Joey Logano Foundation invests in organizations offering second chances to children and young adults during times of crisis and works to inspire others to live a life of generosity. The tournament, which will benefit the Joey Logano Foundation, the Connecticut Foster Care Program, and the Ronald McDonald House of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, will be held at the Southington Country Club. After the tournament, the Dinner, Car Show and Auction will be held at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville. I have known Joey and his family since Joey was a youngster driving go karts around our neighborhood in Middletown. I am proud of the man he has become, and appreciate his strong desire to give back to the community. For more information, please visit www.joeyloganofoundation.com.

It is hard to believe, but the 12th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania, presented by Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines & the Hunter Family, is only five weeks away. This year’s event will be held on Wednesday, August 9 from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in downtown Middletown. This major summer event is held in memory of Dan M. Hunter, a founding sponsor of Middletown Motorcycle Mania. Over 6,000 bikes are expected to converge on Main Street for the 12th edition of the event which will once again showcase custom and vintage motorcycles. All bikes are welcome to come out for the largest one-day summer motorcycle event in New England, an event that is sure to be a fantastic time for everyone involved. I will have more on the 12th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania as we get closer, but everyone should save the date of August 9, along with the rain date of August 16.

While there is certainly a lot to celebrate in Middlesex County this summer, I must unfortunately close this week’s column on a sad note after the recent passing of Peter A. LaMalfa, Sr. at the age of 85. Pete LaMalfa was a veteran of the United States Navy and the Korean War, and we are grateful for his service. I was honored to coach his son, Peter, and have known the family since the 1970’s. Pete was involved with the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce for many years, starting with his time as owner of Pete’s Barber Shop in Portland, to his work in the real estate field later in his career. He was a terrific member of our Board of Directors and a former Chairman of our Portland Division. He also supported the chamber’s Golf Committee and Golf Tournament over the course of many years. In addition to his chamber activity, Pete was also a strong supporter of many other community organizations in Portland and in Middlesex County. Peter LaMalfa was a good man, a family man, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Joan, to whom he was married for 59 years, his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and his entire network of family and friends at this difficult time. Peter LaMalfa will be missed by many.

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