Sports Hall of Fame Induction, United Way awards this week

January 22, 2018


By: Larry McHugh


January is moving right along in Middlesex County and the chamber calendar continues to be packed with events and activities.


This Tuesday, Jan. 23, UConn Head Baseball Coach Jim Penders will serve as guest speaker at our first Member Breakfast Meeting of the year at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Jim Penders has worked with UConn’s baseball program for 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, Coach 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 are 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.


We also look forward to our February Member Breakfast Meeting featuring Matthew Bromberg, President of Military Engines for Pratt & Whitney. We did however have to change the date of this event from Monday, Feb. 5, to Monday, Feb. 26. Mr. Bromberg oversees development, production, and support of the company’s military offerings. As I have noted many times, Pratt & Whitney is a key player in our nation’s defense, a major employer in our state and in Middlesex County, and is an outstanding corporate citizen. I appreciate their support and look forward to a great Member Breakfast Meeting on Feb. 26. Immediately following the Pratt & Whitney breakfast, the chamber will partner with the CT. Dept. of Labor on an Informational Session for Manufacturers which will focus on building solutions to the talent gap within this critical industry sector. We certainly look forward to a productive morning on Feb. 26 in Cromwell, and ask our members to save the date.


Following the breakfast with Coach Penders on Tuesday, I will travel to Hartford for a meeting with my fellow executives from the eight metro chambers of commerce from throughout the state. The eight metro chambers: Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, Metro Hartford Alliance, Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce, Bridgeport Regional Business Council, Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, Business Council of the Fairfield County, and the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, collectively represent over 10,000 businesses from throughout the state and from every industry sector. We will be joined at the meeting by Commissioner Catherine Smith of the CT. Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). Commissioner Smith is a strong supporter of our chamber and of the business community in our state. I look forward to another productive discussion with the commissioner and with my fellow chamber leaders.


Switching gears a bit, we certainly look forward to this Wednesday when First and Last Tavern will host a special luncheon of appreciation for the Middletown Motorcycle Mania and Cruise Night on Main Planning Committees. Tony Scacca and his team will provide a delicious First and Last spread for our group of volunteers and other event supporters. The 21st Annual Cruise Night On Main is scheduled for June 13, and the 13th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania is scheduled for August 15. The chamber very much appreciates the efforts of the Cruise Night on Main Planning Committee, led by past Chairman Foster Charles, incoming Chairman Joe Santaniello as well as the Middletown Motorcycle Mania Planning Committee, led by Chairman Rich Greco. We look forward to both of these major events in downtown Middletown later on in 2018.


It should come as no surprise that the chamber’s divisions continue to be very active throughout the county. We look forward to another productive meeting of our East Haddam and Haddam Division which is scheduled for Thursday morning at the Saybrook at Haddam. This meeting will feature town updates, a chamber update, and an update from our Legislative Committee as we approach the start of the 2018 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly. I want to again thank East Haddam and Haddam Division Chairman Mike Bennett and all of our members from these two member towns for their support.


As I have noted many times in the past, the chamber continues to value its strong relationship with the other key stakeholders in Middletown and in Middlesex County. I look forward to attending Middlesex United Way’s Annual Meeting which will be held on Thursday morning at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam. The following individuals and organizations will be honored with the United Way’s prestigious awards at the event: Clifford O. Straub- Community Service Award, The Connection- Community Impact Award, Middlesex Hospital CEO and Past Chamber Chairman Vincent Capece- Tocqueville Society Philanthropy Award, Kevin Harris- Justin Wilkie Next Generation Award, and our own Workforce Development Director Lorenzo Marshall- Community Leadership Award. We are very proud that Lorenzo is being recognized with the Community Leadership Award for his outstanding leadership in strengthening Middlesex County’s communities throughout his career. He serves as our workforce director and youth programs coordinator, and has supported countless community initiatives over the years. We look forward to celebrating Lorenzo, Vin, Cliff, the Connection and Kevin on Thursday morning in Haddam, and thank Kevin Wilhelm and his team for their continued partnership with our chamber. 


A busy Thursday concludes in the evening at the 25th Annual Middletown Sports Hall of Fame Induction Dinner at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. I want to take a moment to congratulate the following individuals and teams who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Thursday evening: J.T. Burke, Amy Staniszewski Butler, Stanley Edens, LaShauna Jones, Paul Joyce (posthumously) Steve Kirkpatrick, David Levasseur, Sean Marinan, Mike Mastergeorge, Salvatore Savastra, Bruce Wilson, the 1942 Woodrow Wilson High School Basketball Team, and the 1991 Middletown High School Baseball team. All of these fine individuals and teams deserve this high honor, and I look forward to celebrating their achievements at the induction dinner. I also want to take a moment to acknowledge the fine work of the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors and its President, Tom Serra.


Friday morning features a meeting of the MCSAAC Advisory Board at 8 a.m. at the chamber office. Established in 1991, MCSAAC is a council of the Business Industry Foundation of Middlesex County, a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded by the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Its purpose is to reduce the incidence of alcohol and other drug abuse in our region. While MCSAAC has had to deal with major funding cuts in the past year, we look forward to a productive discussion on Friday morning that will focus on how we can continue the work of this important community based initiative as we move forward.


Finally, the week concludes with an exciting Grand Opening celebration for GoToFitness Ultimate Training Center on Newfield Street in Middletown. GoToFitness is committed to providing unparalleled education and training to help clients reach their physical and mental potential. With its 13,000 square-foot gym, a wide selection of classes, and much more, GoToFitness provides a variety of workout options. I look forward to joining Mayor Dan Drew as we officially welcome Owner Robert Hurd and General Manager Taylor Arrigoni and their entire team to Middletown and to the Middlesex business community. We wish them the very best as we move forward.


As you can see, the sun continues to shine through the snow in Middlesex County, and the chamber continues to be on the move.


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Brandon Frese
Brandon Frese
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