October 29, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
The month of November arrives this week in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation.
Before previewing some of the key events and activities from another busy month, I want to provide a quick wrap up of the 2018 Connecticut Connections event, Middlesex County’s Premier Business Showcase. The showcase featured a number of events and activities, from a Small Business Awards Luncheon which honored many of our county’s small business champions, to a Career Fair which featured over 42 employers and hundreds of job seekers, to the expo hall which featured over 100 exhibitors from a wide variety of industry sectors, a number of workshops which covered a variety of important topics, and the Executive Evening Business After Work networking reception which was very well attended by our members and their guests. I would like to once again thank our presenting sponsors, Comcast Business and the Red Lion Hotel Cromwell, media partner Hartford Business Journal, and all of our other sponsors and supporters for their great support of Connecticut Connections. I also want to thank our Expo Committee, led by Chairman Lou Brocket, our many volunteers, and the chamber staff who stepped up once again and executed a terrific event. Chamber Vice President Johanna Bond and Danielle Aletta from our team did a great job putting this busy day together. I appreciate all of their hard work and dedication. This year’s business expo is in the books, but the chamber continues to move forward in support of the business community here in Middlesex County.
This week features a few important chamber meetings as the calendar moves from October to November. A month full of productive legislative candidate forums comes to a close on Tuesday morning as the All Middletown Division meets at The Connection on Roscommon Drive. All candidates that are running for House or Senate seats that cover any part of Middletown are invited to attend. We have had a great turnout from the candidates in our region and I very much appreciate their willingness to run and to serve. It is not easy to be in politics these days, and all of these individuals deserve our appreciation and respect. We wish them all well.
The chamber’s Women's Leadership Collaborative, presented by Citizens Bank, meets on Wednesday morning at our Main Street facility. The WLC is the premier regional resource for women to engage in professional development programs that promote personal and professional growth. The group hosted a very successful Elevate Women event at last week’s Connecticut Connections event that featured over 50 attendees. We look forward to a productive meeting of this important chamber group.
On Thursday morning, the Central Business Bureau meets at the chamber office at 8:00 a.m., and on Friday morning, the Chester, Deep River and Essex Division will gather at The Meeting House in Chester. As you can see, the chamber’s divisions and committees continue to produce important content for our members who come from a wide variety of industry sectors and from all over Middlesex County. On Sunday, I will attend a celebration at First Church of Middletown in honor its 350 years of faith. All are welcome to attend the gathering which will honor the church’s past, and help shape its future.
Next Monday, Nov. 5, chamber’s 17th Annual Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting will be held at the Red Lion Hotel Cromwell. Retired Army Colonel, and Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, Kevin Brown “Red Eagle” will serve as keynote speaker. Two awards will be presented at this major event, the William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award, and the AT&T Veteran Support Business of the Year Award. The William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award is presented annually to a Veteran of the United States Armed Forces, in recognition of his or her distinguished service to the citizens of Connecticut and selfless commitment to public service. This year’s recipient is Morton “Morty” Pear of Middletown. Morty Pear is a fixture in community and veterans affairs in Middlesex County. He is a terrific man with a record of service and of helping others. We are very proud of him and look forward to honoring him on Monday. The AT&T Veteran Support Business of the Year Award is presented annually to a business that supports active duty military personnel, veterans, and their families through employment, philanthropy, spousal support, and other means. This year’s recipient is Liberty Bank. Liberty Bank supports all branches of the military and our veterans through job opportunities and volunteerism, funding Veteran’s organizations, supporting homeless veterans, and hosting collection drives. Most recently in May of this year, Liberty Bank partnered with Save-A-Suit and WTNH News Channel 8 to collect suits, blazers, ties, shirts, women's items, dresses, and shoes for veterans returning home from active duty. Save-A-Suit is a Connecticut non-profit organization that supports local military men and women as they get reacquainted with the job interview process and look for long-term employment. I thank Chandler Howard and his team for being such a great corporate citizen, and we look forward to honoring them as well. We also look forward to welcoming Kevin Brown as keynote speaker. As Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, Kevin is responsible for maintaining the sovereignty that the Mohegan Tribe fought hundreds of years for, overseeing its numerous business entities and ensuring the well-being of its more than 2,100 Tribal citizens. He also serves as Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA) Management Board which oversees numerous gaming entities across the country including Mohegan Sun; Mohegan Sun Pocono; Resorts Casino Hotel; Paragon Casino Resort; ilani Resort and two professional sports teams. A native of Montville, Connecticut, Kevin proudly served in the United States Army for 25 years, retiring as a Colonel in 2011 and deploying 5 times in service to our country. He served as a Platoon Leader with the 101st Airborne Division during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm; Company Commander in the 1st Cavalry Division in Kuwait during Operation Southern Watch & Intrinsic Action; Battalion Executive Officer in Thailand during Operation Cobra Gold; Battalion Commander in the 10th Mountain Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Deputy Brigade Commander for 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in Kirkuk Iraq, and commanded the Garrison at Fort Riley Kansas. His numerous citations and awards during his military career include the prestigious Legion of Merit, 3 Bronze Stars Combat Infantryman’s Badge (2nd Award), Senior Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge and Ranger tab. He is a Doctoral Candidate in Security Studies from Kansas State University, and also earned a Master of Arts in Public Diplomacy from Norwich University, a Master of Science in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point. The Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting would not be possible without the year round effort of a great committee led by Phil Cacciola. This event has become a key part of our Member Breakfast series over the years, and we look forward to another great edition on Monday.
In closing, I want to take a moment to honor the recent passing of a longtime friend, Roderick “Rod” MadDonald. Rod MacDonald was a volunteer Assistant Coach for me in the 1970’s and 1980’s at Xavier High School. Our players were so lucky to learn from Rod who played football for the U.S. Naval Academy, including in the 1960 Orange Bowl, and professionally in the Atlantic Coast Football League and the Continental Football League. After his very successful football career concluded, Rod and his brother Don purchased the 104-year old Washburn Dental Supply Company, in New Haven, CT. They ran Washburn for 28 years, and supported a number of causes and organizations along the way including as strong members of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Most importantly, Rod was a husband, father, brother and grandfather. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife of 51 years, Paula, his children, his brother and sister, and of course, his five beloved grandchildren. Rod MacDonald was a great businessman, football player and coach, but he was an even better person. He will be missed by many.