August member meeting features UConn coach Bob Diaco

August 22, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

Downtown Middletown was rocking last Wednesday evening as the 11th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania was held on Main Street and the surrounding areas. The event, featuring over 6000 bikes and over 10,000 spectators, was presented by Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines & the Hunter Family, and driven by Haymond Law. Middletown Motorcycle Mania is held annually in honor of one of its founding sponsors, Dan M. Hunter.

The entertainment was terrific, the vendors did very well, the restaurants were packed, and everyone enjoyed this year’s Motorcycle Mania which defended its title as the largest one-day summer motorcycle event in New England. The show bikes that were entered for awards were unbelievable, and I am happy that the Greater Middletown region was well represented once again when the bike awards were presented. 

In addition to Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines, the Hunter Family, and Haymond Law, event sponsors also included: City of Middletown, Middletown Downtown Business District, Liberty Bank, Bank of America, Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Gengras Motorcycles, Home Team Supply, All American Productions, Middlesex Music Academy, Lyman Orchards Golf Club, Mezzo Grille, Middletown Area Transit, First & Last Tavern, Untouchable Towing, and WMRD/WLIS Radio. I would like to again thank all of our sponsors for their terrific support of this major event.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the fine work of the City of Middletown personnel that worked to make it a safe and enjoyable evening for everyone. From Director Bill Russo and the team at Middletown Public Works Department, to Geen Thazhampallath and the team at the Parking Department, to Chief Rob Kronenberger, Fire Marshal Al Santostefano and the entire Middletown Fire Department, and all of the emergency services personnel, everyone did a truly professional job. I want to especially thank the Middletown Police Department who worked very well with our staff and volunteers to make sure that the event was secure and well organized. All of the officers and support staff were extremely helpful once again, and we appreciate it very much. I thank Chief Bill McKenna, Deputy Chief Mike Timbro, Sgt. Dave Godwin, and the entire MPD for their support of the 11th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania. A special thank you also goes out to Mayor Dan Drew and members of the Common Council for their continued support of all of our downtown events. I want to be sure to acknowledge my staff at the chamber who worked hard all day and shut down the chamber office after 9 p.m. when Motorcycle Mania wrapped up. Johanna Bond and Cathy Duncan worked particularly hard on the bike event and I appreciate all of their efforts. Finally, I want to express my sincere appreciation to Event Chairman Rich Greco and our over 30 volunteers for their unbelievable support of Motorcycle Mania. This event could not happen without our volunteers and we appreciate them very much. Another successful Middletown Motorcycle Mania is in the books, and we are truly grateful for the total team effort that made it possible.

This week is another busy one for the chamber team highlighted by a Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday and our August Member Breakfast Meeting on Thursday. The board meeting, sponsored by DATTCO, will be held at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat facility in Essex. I thank both the Valley Railroad Company and DATTCO for supporting this important summer gathering for our Board of Directors. The meeting will feature reports from chamber members and key staff, a networking lunch, and other important board business.

The chamber’s August Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for this Thursday, Aug. 25 with University of Connecticut Head Football Coach Bob Diaco. This annual event, sponsored by People’s United Bank, will feature an update from the coach on the upcoming season of Husky football which begins on Thursday, Sept. 1 vs. University of Maine. Coach Diaco has also been known to provide some inspirational remarks to our membership, along with some thoughts on leadership and his management style. We certainly look forward to welcoming Coach Diaco to his third Member Breakfast Meeting as leader of the UConn Football Program. I thank him once again for speaking to our membership and thank our friends at People’s United Bank, under the leadership of Northern Connecticut President Mike Casparino, for their sponsorship of what we expect to be another successful chamber Member Breakfast Meeting.

I look forward to attending two events this coming Saturday, one which will celebrate a longtime chamber member, and one that will welcome a new one to our local business community. Tractor Supply Company will hold a grand opening celebration for its brand new store on Newfield Street in Middletown on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. Tractor Supply Company is the largest operator of rural lifestyle retail stores in the United States. The company operates over 1,500 retail stores in 49 states, and we are proud that Middletown is the home of its newest store. I appreciate the opportunity to welcome the store to the Middlesex business community, and I wish Store Manager Jeff Puglise and his team the best of luck as they get started. Connecticut Mason Contractors, Inc. will hold a 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville on Saturday evening. Connecticut Mason Contractors is a terrific company and a member of our chamber. I look forward to celebrating with Connie Buscema, Sal Indomenico, and their entire team on Saturday night.

A Mandatory Program Orientation and Application Submission Meeting for Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s Side Street to Main Street Minority Business & Leadership Development Program will be held on Wednesday, August 31 at 7 p.m. in the chamber conference room. The program is a year-long entrepreneurial and business development course with a rigorous curriculum that is designed to assist minority small business owners in the community who have not had formal business training. The goal of the program is to help these businesspeople become more successful by developing the attitudes, skills and qualities necessary for effective business ownership, and success, taking them from the Side Street to the Main Street of the business community. To participate, all interested candidates must attend the Mandatory Program Orientation Meeting, and submit a completed Application for the Program scheduled to begin its 20th year on October 4, 2016. Since its inception in 1997, over 235 people have graduated from the Side Street to Main Street Minority Business & Leadership Development Program which has been fully funded and supported by Aetna, Inc. We are extremely proud of this program, it has indeed, been a successful and effective way in which we have encouraged the development and growth of small, minority-owned businesses, which are now part of the greater Middlesex County business community. To register for the Mandatory Program Orientation Meeting and Application Submission, visit or email:

I want to be sure to acknowledge the recent passing of two fine local individuals who both supported the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce in different ways. Anita T. Stubbings of Middletown passed away recently at the age of 81. Anita was the owner of Forest City Cleaners in Middletown for 35 years and was a longtime friend and member of our chamber. Our thoughts and prayers are with Anita’s entire family as they mourn her loss and honor her life. We certainly appreciate her longtime support of our organization. Stanley Coe Atwell, Jr. of Middlefield passed away recently at the age of 89. Stan served our country with honor in World War II with the United States Coast Guard. He served as Fire Marshal in the Town of Middlefield until his passing and was also a past chief of the Middlefield Volunteer Fire Department. In fact, Stan served as a member of the Middlefield Volunteer Fire Department for a remarkable 60 years. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce was honored to present him with our prestigious Michael L. Green Award in 1995. The Michael L. Green Award is presented annually to a member of the police or fire community for his or her outstanding service to Middlesex County. Our thoughts and prayers are with his entire family at this difficult time. We are proud of and appreciate Stan’s service to our country and to our community.

Finally, last week I closed the chamber column with extensive thoughts about the passing of our friend, and longtime chamber employee, Joan Wood. I was honored to serve as master of ceremonies at a remembrance service that was held for Joan at Biega Funeral Home last Tuesday evening. I appreciate the family’s invitation to offer some remarks on the impact that Joan had on me, and on the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Joan’s longtime friend and past chamber Chairwoman Mary Ellen Klinck did a great job with her remarks, and Joan’s daughters, Susan, Sarah and Johanna, showed the strength and grace that they inherited from their mother with their moving words of remembrance. The turnout at Joan’s service and celebration of her life that was held afterward at the Riverhouse in Haddam proves how much Joan was loved, and how much she will be missed.

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