January 1, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
Happy New Year, Middlesex County.
Now that 2017 is in the books and the New Year is upon us, I would like to wish everyone in Middlesex County and throughout the great State of Connecticut a very Happy New Year. The beginning of a new year always brings optimism and the chance for a fresh start. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce is excited about the year ahead. We look forward to continuing our work on behalf of the business community in Middlesex County on a number of fronts. We will continue to develop our divisions and committees so that members can engage with state and local officials and address issues of importance to their region or their industry sector. We will continue to host large scale Member Breakfast Meetings with terrific speakers, and outstanding networking events that benefit our members. We will continue to reach out to non-member businesses and organizations and invite them to come aboard. Finally, we will continue to implement vital workforce development and educational training programs that are helping to develop the community and create and retain jobs. I am very optimistic about 2018, and you can bet that the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce will be on the move in the New Year.
The holiday season was indeed a very busy stretch for me and for the entire chamber team. On Friday, Dec. 22, I had the pleasure of attending the Oxford Polymers holiday party at Esca Restaurant and Wine Bar. I appreciate the invitation to attend from Oxford’s President and CEO, Nick DeFelice Jr. Nick was a great player for me at Xavier and his father, Nick Sr., is a longtime friend and was a teammate of mine on the Southern CT. State University Football team back in our college days. I continue to appreciate both of their friendship and support. On Saturday, Dec. 23, I attended a party hosted by Joe Serra at Cantina Café Ristorante. It was a great party that once again featured an outstanding spread of food and a real who’s who of the central Connecticut region. I appreciate Joe’s invitation and longtime friendship as well. The holiday season is officially behind us, but it certainly was another fun one in Middlesex County.
The first week of the year is a busy one with three important division meetings being held at different sites throughout the county. On Wednesday, the Portland and East Hampton Division will hold its January meeting at Angelico’s Lake House Restaurant in East Hampton. The Central Business Bureau will hold its first meeting of the year on Thursday morning at the chamber office. Hosted by NoRA Cupcake Co., the meeting will feature reports from Mayor Drew and key city directors, a wrap up of the 2018 Holiday on Main Street festivities, a discussion of the 2018 Taste of Middlesex County, and other important updates. Finally, the Chester, Deep River and Essex Division will meet on Friday morning at Chester Town Hall in Chester. Our divisions continue to play a pivotal role in the success of the chamber, and I continue to appreciate the support of our division chairs, town officials and chamber members who support these meetings on a monthly basis.
On Friday afternoon, I will be attending A Marvelous Car Wash’s Anniversary celebration on 593 Washington Street in Middletown with Mayor Dan Drew and other local officials. Owner Mathew Rook and his family have operated this business for 20 years providing soft-cloth car washing and a full range of detailing services. I look forward to celebrating this great chamber member and their years of marvelous service.
Switching gears a bit, I am proud to announce that the chamber will continue the very successful KeyBank Workshop Series in 2018. Our first session, Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 9 at the chamber office. The definition of sexual harassment, liability, 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. Please visit www.middlesexchamber.com or contact the chamber for registration information. This important chamber Workshop Series is sponsored by KeyBank, and I want to again thank Market President Jeff Hubbard and his entire team for their continued support.
On Wednesday evening, Jan. 10, the chamber’s first Business After Work networking reception of the New Year will be held at Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort in Middlefield. In addition to the best networking around, this event will feature free beer, wine, non-alcoholic drinks, and a great spread of food courtesy of Sean Hayes and his team. I thank Sean not only for hosting this event for our chamber, but for his commitment to this project which is creating jobs and additional tourism buzz for our region. This exciting Business After Work event will also serve as the official kick off of the third annual "Taste of Middlesex County" Restaurant Week, brought to you by Comcast Business, which is back by popular demand in 2018. Taste of Middlesex County is scheduled for January 15-21 at delicious dining locations throughout our region. The goal of this initiative is to highlight the numerous and diverse dining experiences within the greater Middlesex region. From the beautiful shores of Westbrook to the home of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, there is something for everyone. Restaurants offer a pre-fixed menu to give diners the opportunity to experience the area’s fine dining landscape without breaking the bank. This year, there will be two dining options both with a prix fixe 3-course meal, one for $20.18, and the other for $30.18 (does not include beverages, tax or gratuity). The current list of participating restaurants is as follows: Angelico's Lake House Restaurant in East Hampton; Baci Grill in Cromwell; Eli Cannon’s Tap Room in Middletown; Esca Restaurant & Wine Bar in Middletown; Fire at the Ridge in Middlefield; First and Last Tavern in Middletown; Gelston House in East Haddam; Griswold Inn in Essex; Grown in Middletown; Herd Restaurant in Middletown; Lan Chi's Vietnamese Restaurant in Middletown; On The Rocks at Fox Hopyard in East Haddam; Red House in Deep River; Sheffield’s Restaurant & Lounge at Radisson Hotel in Cromwell; Taino Smokehouse in Middletown; Tavern at the Armory Restaurant at the Inn at Middletown, Tuscany Grill in Middletown; Tea Roses Tea Room in Cromwell; Tuscany Grill in Middletown; and WAVES in East Hampton. Please visit the Taste of Middlesex County tab on the chamber’s website and keep an eye out for additional participating restaurants as we get closer to Jan. 15. We will be sure to keep everyone updated in the chamber column and through other promotional means. Bon Appetite!
On the Member Breakfast Meeting front, we certainly look forward to our first one of the year on Tuesday, January 23 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Our keynote speaker for the event is Jim Penders, University of Connecticut Head Baseball Coach. Jim Penders Has worked with UConn’s baseball program in 26 of the last 28 years, being associated with the Huskies as a student-athlete, an assistant coach, and now head coach. He completed his 14th season at the helm of the program in 2017. A four-time conference Coach of the Year, Penders has overseen one of the most successful stretches in the 120 year history of UConn baseball. Current major leaguers that played for Coach Penders include 2017 World Series MVP George Springer of the Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks Shortstop Nick Ahmed, Boston Red Sox Pitcher Matt Barnes, Colorado Rockies Pitcher Scott Oberg, and a number of other players that currently in the minor leagues. We look forward to welcoming Jim to his first Member Breakfast meeting, and thank our friends at Webster Bank for sponsoring this important chamber event.
2018 is upon us in Middlesex County, and the chamber team looks forward to a strong and productive start to the New Year.
While we are certainly excited about the year ahead, I must close this week’s column on a sad note after the recent passing of Rose Keithan at the age of 91. Rose had an amazing life which included service as a volunteer "plane spotter" during World War II on what is now the campus of CT Valley Hospital. Rose, along with her husband, George V Keithan Sr., lived in Middletown many years and loved the city and its people. George Sr. was a longtime volunteer for the chamber’s events and activities. Together, George and Rose raised a wonderful family, and we are fortunate that many of them still live in the area. Rose is survived by her five children, twelve grandchildren; four great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. Rose’s son, George Keithan Jr., is a longtime member and strong supporter of our chamber with his company, Consulting Engineering Services, where he is the Principal and Founder. I was fortunate to have known George Jr., and his brother Richard, when they were students as Xavier High School. They have both grown to be outstanding men just like their father was, I am proud of both of them along with their sisters. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rose’s family and friends at this difficult time. Rose led a life well lived and her family is very proud. She will be missed by many. I was also saddened to learn of the recent passing of Walter "Bud" Seagrave, Jr. at the age of 90. Bud was a good man who was known throughout the business and veteran communities in Middlesex County. I will have more on Bud’s passing in next week’s chamber column but our thoughts are with his family at this time.