Probate Judge Joe Marino to be honored with public service award

November 14, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

We have reached the middle of November in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

Last week was another busy one that featured our 15th Annual Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting, Election Day, an outstanding Business After Work Networking Reception at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam, and most importantly, Veterans’ Day.

The breakfast meeting was very well received by our crowd of over 500 which included businesspeople and many local veterans. Our keynote speaker, Capt. Paul Whitescarver of Connecticut’s Sub Base, did a great job with his remarks. Our 2016 William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award recipient, Larry Riley, graciously accepted this honor by thanking his family and fellow veterans. Our inaugural Veteran Support Business of the Year recipient, AT&T, was represented by AT&T Connecticut President John Emra who stressed in his remarks that hiring veterans is not only the right thing to do as a corporate citizen, but it is a smart business decision since veterans make such good employees. Our Support the Troops Committee Chairman Phil Cacciola and his team did another outstanding job planning and executing the event, and Phil’s remarks were spot on as always. It was another successful Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans event, and I want to once again thank CEO Vin Capece and Middlesex Hospital for sponsoring on an annual basis.

As we all know, Election Day 2016 was held last Tuesday. I again want to applaud and thank all the candidates for their willingness to run and serve our state and our nation. It was a long and at times contentious campaign. Now that the results are in, let’s recommit to the important work that we all must do to ensure our collective prosperity. We at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce certainly look forward to working with all of our elected officials in the months and years ahead. I continue to be very optimistic about our region, state and country.

The Business After Work Networking Reception at the Riverhouse was attended by over 250 chamber members and their guests. They all enjoyed the delicious spread put out by the Riverhouse team along with the terrific networking opportunities that the event provided. I thank Jim Bucko and his team for hosting us once again.

Finally, Veterans’ Day was Friday. There were many ceremonies held throughout Middletown and Middlesex County that honored the service and sacrifice of these brave Americans. As I noted last week, we should not only thank and honor veterans on Veterans’ Day and during Veterans Week, but every single day of the year.

The chamber’s Board of Directors will hold its November meeting this Thursday at the Middletown Elks Lodge. The meeting will feature reports from chamber committee chairs and key staff members, along with other updates on issues of importance to the Middlesex business community. I thank Brown & Brown of CT, McCutcheon Burr & Sons, and MiddleOak for hosting this Board of Directors luncheon.

On Thursday evening, I will serve as Master of Ceremonies at the 39th Annual Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame Induction Dinner at the Aqua Turf in Southington. I enjoy this event every year, and am honored to be one of the founders of the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame. I look forward to seeing many friends and colleagues, and look forward to celebrating with the inductees and their families.

The chamber’s next Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for next Monday, Nov. 21 where we will welcome United States Sen. Chris Murphy as keynote speaker. This important event is sponsored by The Mohegan Tribe. I look forward to seeing Kevin Brown, Chairman of The Mohegan Tribal Council, who will introduce the senator and will offer remarks on behalf of the tribe. Sen. Murphy, who serves on the Appropriations Committee, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and the Foreign Relations Committee, will address many of the important issues that face Middlesex County, the state of Connecticut, and our nation. I am also proud to announce that at the breakfast meeting with the senator, the chamber will present our 2016 Governor William A. O’Neill Public Service Award to Judge Joseph D. Marino of Middletown. The Governor William A. O’Neill Public Service Award, presented since 2002, is awarded to an individual who has performed outstanding public service for Middlesex County and the State of Connecticut. The award is named after Governor O’Neill because he dedicated himself to public service during his tenure as a state legislator, Lieutenant Governor and Governor. Joe Marino has served as Judge of Probate in the District of Middletown since January 1987, an important jurisdiction for mental health cases and family cases in the state. Throughout his outstanding career in public service, Joe has demonstrated his commitment to the community on the bench and outside of the bench. He maintains a law practice in Portland, and also supports a number of community service initiatives. He is the founder of a holiday gift drive for residents of local skilled nursing facilities and has coached youth soccer, basketball, and softball. He is a member, and current President, of the Middletown Rotary Club, the Middlesex County NAACP, the Italian Society of Middletown, and is President-Elect of the Middlesex County Bar Association. He is the recipient of the Community Service Award from the NAACP and the Paul Harris Community Service Fellowship Award from the Middletown Rotary Club. We are proud to honor Judge Marino with this prestigious award. We look forward to a terrific event next Monday in Cromwell, and I thank Sen. Murphy for visiting with our membership once again, and the Mohegan Tribe for sponsoring the event.

We look forward to continuing a longtime chamber tradition next month when we welcome Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to our December Member Breakfast Meeting. Gov. Malloy, now approaching his seventh year in office, has appeared at our December Member Breakfast in every year of his administration as have all of our sitting governors going back to the administration of Gov. William A. O’Neill in the 1980’s. We appreciate the strong support of Eversource Energy who not only sponsors this breakfast meeting on an annual basis, but supports a number of other key chamber programs and initiatives. We look forward to welcoming Gov. Malloy and a number of other key state officials as part of a large crowd of chamber members. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

I must close this week’s column with a heavy heart and with some words of remembrance for Salvatore “Sal” Pepitone who passed away recently at the very young age of 50. Sal Pepitone was a wonderful man who I was proud to coach on the football field during my final years at Xavier High School. Sal was a terrific athlete who played college football at Northeastern University and Springfield College. He was inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. Professionally, Sal spent over 20 years as owner and operator, along with his brother in law Tom Sweeney, at Suburban Physical Therapy in Rocky Hill and Cromwell. Tom is another outstanding former player of mine, and I appreciate that Suburban has become a strong member of our chamber. Sal Pepitone was also dedicated to a number of community initiatives, especially youth sports programs in Haddam and in Killingworth. Much more important than all of that however, was Sal’s love and dedication to his family and his friends. All of us who knew Sal well are truly mourning his loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Silvana, his parents Joseph and Elba, his brother Joseph, his sisters Denise and  Jo-Ann and their families, and of course, his son Joseph and his daughter Sofia. Our thoughts are also with his entire extended family and his vast network of friends at this difficult time. Sal Pepitone will be missed by many and will never be forgotten. We can all take comfort in the fact that he led a life well lived, and that his kids will continue to be loved and supported by all of us.

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