On the Move with Larry McHugh


Larry McHugh, President of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce writes the weekly column "On The Move," published in The Middletown Press. The column focuses on the business community and the economic environment in Middlesex County. Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce events and grand openings are a regular feature of the column.

Two Middlesex County businesses to be lauded at Celebrate Connecticut

November 27, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

November comes to an end this week in Middlesex County, and the countdown to the holidays is on.

There are still a busy few weeks ahead however, filled with events and activities throughout our region.

This Wednesday evening, Jeff Pugliese and I will attend the Celebrate Connecticut Awards put on by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) at the Bushnell in Hartford. This event honors one company, and one initiative in each region of the state, and celebrates their contributions to economic and community development. The Middlesex awardees for 2016 are Whelen Engineering and Essex Steam Train and River Boat’s North Pole Express. Whelen Engineering designs and manufactures high-quality audio and visual warning equipment for Automotive, Aviation, and Mass Notification industries worldwide. Founded in 1952, Whelen has become a leading provider of innovative sirens, warning lights, white illumination lighting, and controllers. Whelen has the largest staff of design engineers in the United States and the biggest field service force in the industry. With two state-of-the-art facilities in Chester, Connecticut, and Charlestown, New Hampshire, Whelen products are proudly designed, manufactured, and assembled in the U.S.A. Owned and operated by the Valley Railroad Company, the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat is a unique historic attraction in the Connecticut River Valley Area. The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat offers various excursions and family themed events throughout the year including the North Pole Express. The North Pole Express is a locomotive-powered sleigh that takes visitors on a magical nighttime journey to the North Pole. Every coach becomes a stage for a live, musical performance of The Night Before Christmas. Families are welcome to come and celebrate the spirit of the season with Santa and Mrs. Claus, participate in sing-a-longs, enjoy delicious hot chocolate and sugar cookies, and receive a small gift from Santa. We look forward to honoring our partners on Wednesday night in Hartford, and continue to appreciate their strong commitment to our region and to our state.

The 31st Annual Holiday on Main Street, presented by Pratt & Whitney, is off to a fast start after a very successful opening night last Friday, and a busy follow up on Saturday. This coming Saturday, Dec. 3, the fun continues with Disabled American Veterans Middletown Chapter 7 Day. Planned events and activities include: free pictures and donuts with Santa at Vinnie’s Jump and Jive, the Fun Train which will offer free rides on the sidewalk around downtown, and free rides for children and adults on two mechanical animals, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Sno-Cat, The Siberian Snow Tiger. Families will also have the opportunity to meet and greet with Santa and take free horse & wagon rides. At 11:30 a.m., Holiday Story Time, featuring Middletown Police Chief Bill McKenna, will take place at Vinnie’s Jump & Jive and Junie B. Jones will be on hand for a book signing. Volunteers from DAV Middletown Chapter 7 will staff the Popcorn & Hot Pretzels stand in front of the chamber building, and holiday music played by Harvest Woods Audio will entertain the large crowd that we expect. Holiday on Main Street continues on Saturday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 17.  Parking for Holiday on Main Street is free in City parking lots. Holiday on Main Street is an institution in Middletown and in Middlesex County, and we are very proud of it. I want to again thank Pratt & Whitney for their great support, the City of Middletown, and in particular, the leadership of Mayor Dan Drew and the Common Council, our longtime event Chairman Al Santostefano, his Vice Chairman Rich Greco, and the entire Holiday on Main Street Committee for their terrific support of this longtime event. For all of the details on events and activities, please visit www.holidayonmain.com.

This week also features meetings of the chamber’s Central Business Bureau on Thursday at the chamber in Middletown, and the Chester, Deep River and Essex Division on Friday at Aaron Manor in Chester. The CBB meeting will feature town updates from Mayor Dan Drew and a number of city department directors, and the Down County Division meeting on Friday will feature state and local updates and a presentation by Judge Barbara M. Quinn who is Chief Court Administrator for the Connecticut Judicial Branch. Our divisions continue to play a vital role in the chamber’s infrastructure.

The main chamber event coming up in December is our annual Governor’s Breakfast Meeting which is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 14 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, now approaching his seventh year in office, has appeared at our December Member Breakfast Meeting in every year of his administration, as have all of our sitting governors, going back to the administration of Governor William A. O’Neill in the 1980’s. We appreciate the strong support of Eversource who not only sponsors this breakfast meeting on an annual basis, but supports a number of other chamber programs and initiatives. We look forward to welcoming Gov. Malloy and a number of other key state officials as part of a sold out crowd of chamber members.

Looking ahead to January, the chamber’s first Business After Work networking reception of the new year will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 11 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.

Also planned for the month of January is the second annual "Taste of Middlesex County" which is brought to you by Comcast Business Class. Taste of Middlesex County is scheduled for January 16-22. 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. Traditionally, restaurants offer a pre-fixed menu to give diners the opportunity to experience the area’s fine dining landscape without breaking the bank. This will be a fixed price 3-course meal for $20.17 (does not include beverages, tax or gratuity). I want to thank Comcast Business Class for its strong support of Taste of Middlesex County, and Johanna Bond from the chamber team who has put in a lot of time and effort on coordination and logistics. Save your appetite for the week of January 16-22, and please visit one or more of our many wonderful participating restaurants. More info to come!

I was happy that Jeff Pugliese represented the chamber at an event on Friday that celebrated Ray of Life Farm in East Haddam and its commitment to healing through animals. Kids and veterans especially benefit from the services provided by the amazing animals and the dedicated members of the Ray of Light team. Tamera Jackson of Jackson Chevrolet donated a pickup truck to Ray of Light which will help with hauling and other activities at the farm. The event on Friday, which also included U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, honored TJ’s support of the farm and its important initiatives. TJ is a fine corporate citizen and I am proud that she is a member of our Executive Committee and a strong member of our chamber.

I want to close this week’s column by thanking Tony Scacca for hosting a very nice reception at First and Last Tavern on Sunday that celebrated Tony’s recent purchase of the business and the significant remodeling work that was done at the restaurant. Everyone who attended enjoy the great spread of food, fine service and a terrific atmosphere. I look forward to the official Grand Re-Opening for First and Last which is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 8 at the restaurant. All of us look forward to working with Tony and appreciate his commitment to our city and to the Middlesex business community.

2016 is winding down, but the chamber continues to be on the move.

J.J. Vinci Oil head, 104, honored for business dedication

November 21, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

It is Thanksgiving time again in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, not simply because of the great turkey dinner with all the trimmings, but because it inspires reflection and a true appreciation of what is important in life. I am thankful for my staff at the chamber who works hard on behalf of the business community in Middlesex County on a daily basis. I am blessed with a wonderful family and a network of friends that truly has my back. It is an honor and a privilege for me to serve as president of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, a dynamic business organization with over 2,125 members that employ over 50,000 people. We have a dedicated Board of Directors, led by Chairman Greg Shook, which truly makes Middlesex County a great place to live, work and play. I am thankful to be a citizen of the United States of America, a place where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in writing. I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope everyone keeps in mind those who are less fortunate during the holiday season. We are all in this together.

This morning in Cromwell, we are happy to welcome United States Senator Chris Murphy as guest speaker at our November Member Breakfast Meeting which is sponsored by The Mohegan Tribe. Senator 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. The event will also feature the presentation of the 2016 Governor William A. O’Neill Public Service Award to Judge Joseph D. Marino of Middletown. 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 the current President of the Middletown Rotary Club, and a member of 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, and we look forward to celebrating with him, members of family, and many friends and colleagues. Also, we are honored that Nikki O'Neill, wife of the late Governor, will attend the event to help honor Joe and represent the O’Neill family. I would like to thank Senator Murphy for once again visiting with our membership, and Kevin Brown, Chairman of The Mohegan Tribal Council for sponsoring this important event.

It is hard to believe, but the 31st Annual Holiday on Main Street, presented by Pratt & Whitney, is set to begin this Friday with three tree lightings on Main Street along with a holiday parade. The first tree-lighting, set to take place at 6:00 p.m., will illuminate the big tree on the South Green and will be led by Mayor Dan Drew and Santa Claus. Also on hand on the South Green will be the Middletown High School Chorus, the Woodrow Wilson 7th & 8th Grade Chorus, and the Keigwin Middle School Chorus. Last year, over 2,500 people were able to enjoy the holiday sights and sounds on the South Green, and even more are expected this year. The Carol Sing will begin at 5:00 p.m. prior to the tree-lightings. After the tree is lit on the South Green, there will be a parade up Main Street, led by the Middletown High School Marching Band, the Woodrow Wilson Middle School 8th Grade Band, and Santa Claus, to the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce where the tree on the roof will be lit at 6:15 p.m., for the second lighting of the evening. Immediately following the tree lighting, there will be free pictures with Santa, and wagon rides for the whole family until 8:00 p.m.  At 8:15 p.m., there will be festivities in front of Eli Cannon’s Tap Room at 695 Main Street highlighted by the third, and final tree-lighting of the night. Santa will arrive to light the tree and there will be elves on hand to provide all children with complimentary popcorn, cookies, hot chocolate and other treats. Each tree-lighting is free of charge to the public. Holiday on Main Street continues on Saturday, Nov. 26, Saturday, Dec. 3,

Saturday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 17.  This Saturday’s event will feature The Civitan Club of Middletown staffing the Popcorn & Hot Pretzels stand in front of the chamber and holiday music played by Harvest Woods Audio. The Fun Train will offer free rides on the sidewalk around downtown, families will have the opportunity to meet and greet with Santa and take free horse & wagon rides.  At 11:30 a.m., Holiday Story Time will take place at The Inn at Middletown, with Curious George and Mayor Dan Drew. At 1:00 p.m., at the Middletown Fire Department, there will be a Kung Fu Demonstration by Tat Wong Kung Fu Academy.

Santa’s Mailbox will be in front of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce from Nov. 21 to Dec. 9. Children’s names and addresses should be on the letter so Santa can respond accordingly. Parking for Holiday on Main Street is free in City parking lots. Join us!

On November 30th, Jeff Pugliese and I will attend the Celebrate Connecticut Awards put on by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) at the Bushnell in Hartford. This event honors one company, and one initiative in each region of the state, and celebrates their contributions to economic and community development. The Middlesex awardees for 2016 are Whelen Engineering and Essex Steam Train and River Boat’s North Pole Express. Whelen Engineering designs and manufactures high-quality audio and visual warning equipment for Automotive, Aviation, and Mass Notification industries worldwide. Founded in 1952, Whelen has become a leading provider of innovative sirens, warning lights, white illumination lighting, and controllers. Whelen has the largest staff of design engineers in the United States and the biggest field service force in the industry. With two state-of-the-art facilities in Chester, Connecticut, and Charlestown, New Hampshire, Whelen products are proudly designed, manufactured, and assembled in the U.S.A. Owned and operated by the Valley Railroad Company, the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat is a unique historic attraction in the Connecticut River Valley Area. The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat offers various excursions and family themed events throughout the year including the North Pole Express. The North Pole Express is a locomotive-powered sleigh that takes visitors on a magical nighttime journey to the North Pole. Every coach becomes a stage for a live, musical performance of The Night Before Christmas. Families are welcome to come and celebrate the spirit of the season with Santa and Mrs. Claus, participate in sing-a-longs, enjoy delicious hot chocolate and sugar cookies and receive a small gift from Santa. We look forward to honoring our partners on Wednesday night in Hartford, and continue to appreciate their strong commitment to our region.

Chamber members should save the dates for two important events coming up in December. Our Annual Real Estate Council Holiday Gathering will be held Tuesday, Dec. 6 at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam. The event is once again sponsored by McCue Mortgage, and I thank Bill McCue and his team for their annual support of this chamber event. The Real Estate Council, under the leadership of Co-Chairs David Gallitto and Diane Sayers, does great work throughout the year in support of our member realtors. We also look forward to continuing a longtime chamber tradition next month when we welcome Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to our December Member Breakfast Meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 14. We look forward to welcoming Gov. Malloy and a number of other key state officials as part of a large crowd of chamber members and their guests. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

I want to close this week’s column by noting that it was great to see my friend JJ Vinci on Friday who is doing very well at the age of 104. Jonathan Harris, Connecticut’s Commissioner of Consumer Protection, visited the Vinci Oil facility to present JJ with a proclamation from Gov. Malloy in honor of the fact that he continues to attend the necessary classes to keep all of his licenses current and in compliance with state regulations. In fact, JJ was officially dedicated as “The Dean of Occupational License Holders” by the Department of Consumer Protection. Mayor Dan Drew was also on hand to present JJ with a key to the City of Middletown. I appreciate the invitation to attend the event, and congratulate JJ on his continued good work. He is an inspiration to all of us, and a role model on how a business should conduct itself as part of a larger community.

Happy Thanksgiving Middlesex County, and as you enjoy the holiday, please keep in mind the brave men and women of our Armed Forces serving at home and around the globe.

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.

This week marks both Election Day and Veterans Day

November 7, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

We have reached an important week in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation. This week includes Election Day on Tuesday and Veterans Day on Friday. Election Day is not only a day when we choose our elected officials for the next two or four years, but it is a symbol of our democracy, and it represents our commitment to a peaceful transfer of power and responsibility. Veterans’ Day is a special day that is designed to honor all the veterans that have served this nation with distinction and bravery. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce continues to support our active duty and guard personnel, and the many local veterans that have served in the United States Armed Forces. Our 15th Annual Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting will be held this morning at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. We are pleased to welcome as guest speaker, Captain Paul Whitescarver, Commanding Officer of The Naval Submarine Base New London. We are very proud that this event has become such a key part of Veterans Week in Middlesex County and we certainly look forward to welcoming the captain to our event. In addition to keynote remarks from Capt. Whitescarver and other important updates, the chamber will present the 2016 William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award to Larry Riley of Middletown. 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. In addition to the presentation of the Pomfret Award, the chamber will present our inaugural Veteran Support Business of the Year. This award, which will be presented annually moving forward, will honor a business that supports active duty military personnel, veterans, and their families through employment, philanthropy, spousal support, and other means. I am proud to announce that our inaugural recipient is AT&T. AT&T supports our armed forces in a variety of ways. From recruiting veterans into their workforce, to actively supporting their existing employees that are involved with the armed forces, to community service efforts that support veteran causes, AT&T is a leading example of a strong corporate citizen stepping up to the plate to support veterans and their families. I look forward to welcoming AT&T Connecticut President John Emra who will accept the award on behalf of the company and will offer some remarks. I want to again thank Middlesex Hospital for sponsoring this major chamber event every year. I know CEO Vin Capece, who is Immediate Past Chairman of our chamber, will do a great job introducing Capt. Whitescarver. I also want to thank the First Company Governor’s Foot Guard, the Middletown PBA Pipes and Drums, and everyone that has a role in making this annual event so special to so many. Most notably, I have to thank our Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans Committee which is led by its Chairman, Phil Cacciola. This group, comprised of local veterans that are all dedicated to serving the community, works hard to plan and execute this event every year. The Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting is one of our finest events of the year because it provides us the opportunity to show our appreciation for the troops and the veterans that have served us all so well. As you travel throughout the county this week, be sure to thank a veteran, they have certainly earned it. Finally, be sure to vote on Tuesday. It is very important that we do our civic duty, visit our polling station, and participate in the election process. We are very lucky to live a nation where we choose our leaders at the ballot box, and we should all take seriously our responsibility to vote on Election Day.

The chamber’s KeyBank Workshop Series continues this Tuesday, Nov. 8 with a session titled “Building Your Team- Recruiting U.S. and Non-U.S. Talent.” The seminar will be held at the chamber office from 8 a.m. to10 a.m. Important topics that will be discussed include: legal issues involved in employing and retaining talent for startup companies, confidentiality, non-competition, and non-solicitation agreements, proprietary information and invention agreements, employees vs. independent contractors, incentives and compensation alternatives, immigration issues, hiring foreign nationals and much more. The seminar will be led by Gregg Lallier and Dana Bucin from Updike Kelly & Spellacy, P.C. Attorneys Lallier and Bucin are well versed in legal issues surrounding the employment and retention of talent, and also have an extensive experience in immigration-related issues. We look forward to another productive seminar for our members.

The chamber’s Durham and Middlefield Division will meet this Wednesday morning at A Second Chance CPR & First Aid Training in Durham. The meeting, co-hosted by Sykes Family Chiropractic and A Second Chance CPR & First Aid Training, will feature Stephanie Moran of the Durham/ Middlefield Local Wellness Coalition. Our Cromwell Division will meet on Thursday at Adelbrook Behavioral & Developmental Services where local updates will be provided by key municipal and business officials. Our divisions continue to be a critical piece of the chamber’s infrastructure.

Our November Business After Work Networking Reception is scheduled for this Wednesday, Nov. 9 at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam. Our members and their guests always look forward to the delicious spread of food and drink provided by the Riverhouse team, along with outstanding networking opportunities that the event provides. The Business After Work event will once again feature The Festival of Wreaths Silent Auction. Beautifully decorated wreaths will be displayed for viewing and bidding until the auction closes at 6:45 p.m. The funds that are raised will benefit the Annual Holiday on Main Street, presented by Pratt & Whitney, and the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program. Liberty Bank is donating the 30 artificial wreaths for chamber member businesses to decorate and we certainly appreciate their great support. We look forward to a fun evening in Haddam on Wednesday night, and I want to once again thank Jim Bucko and the Riverhouse team for hosting this outstanding event.

I look forward to visiting the UConn Middlesex County Extension Center in Haddam on Thursday for a meeting and a tour. This facility is a key component of UConn’s Department of Extension and College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. I look forward to my visit and appreciate the faculty and staff at the center which is committed to Middlesex County and to the University of Connecticut.

Later on Thursday, I will attend a celebration of the United States Marine Corps’ 241st Birthday presented by and held at First & Last Tavern in Middletown. This event will benefit the Association for Veterans of Korea, Vietnam, and Saudi Wars. This is one of the many important events scheduled this week throughout our region that are designed to support veteran based causes.

Finally, I will also attend an Open House event on Thursday which is hosted by JCJ Architecture in Hartford. JCJ Architecture is a planning, architecture and interior design firm that enjoys a strong reputation in our state and is a valued member of our chamber. I appreciate the invitation and look forward to the Open House event.

I want to take a moment to congratulate the Town of Cromwell and the Cromwell Downtown Merchants Association (CDMA) on an extremely successful Halloween on Main event which was held in downtown Cromwell on Oct. 29. This event attracted thousands of people to downtown Cromwell, and the guests had the opportunity to enjoy a haunted house, safari animal rides, haunted hayride, fun train rides, candy, bonfires, food vendors and more. Rodney Bitgood and Cara Ehlers serve as co-chairs of the CDMA and they do a great job. They are also strong chamber supporters and outstanding representatives of the local business community. Middlesex County is lucky to be home to many events that not only bring people together, but have an economic impact at the local level.

I will close this week’s column by asking members to save the dates of Nov. 21, which is our Member Breakfast Meeting with U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, and Dec. 14 for our Member Breakfast Meeting with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. More information to come on these important chamber events.

Veterans’ Week is upon us in Middlesex County. We appreciate and honor their service not only this week, but every week of the year.

Wesleyan University to launch solar voltaic system this week

October 31, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

A busy October comes to an end and a busy November begins as the calendar turns this week in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation.

Chamber Vice President Jeff Pugliese will represent the chamber at an exciting event scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at Wesleyan University which will celebrate the installation of a ground mounted solar photo voltaic system.  The ribbon cutting event will take place at the location of the solar array system, on Wesleyan’s Long Lane campus at the corner of Long Lane and Wadsworth Street.  This array is under a Power Purchase Agreement with Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC, a Middletown-based solar energy company and member of our chamber. It will produce 1.2 million kilowatt hours of clean renewable energy each year. The solar array will take the university closer to its goal of being a carbon neutral campus as well as increasing its energy self-reliance. I applaud Wesleyan for these efforts and thank them for inviting the chamber to be part of the event.

The chamber’s Portland and East Hampton Division November meeting will be held this Wednesday at Portland Library. The meeting will be hosted by Burt Realty and will feature updates from local officials and representatives of local businesses. This Thursday, our Central Business Bureau will hold its November meeting at the chamber. CBB meetings always feature reports from the mayor and a number of city department directors. This Friday, our Chester, Deep River, and Essex Division will meet at Mount St. John Academy in Deep River. Local reports will be given along with a presentation by Chief Administrator at Mount St. John, Kathy White. Our divisions continue to bring together chamber members and important officials and I appreciate the support of all of our division chairs that are spread out throughout the county.

This Wednesday, I will join Mayor Dan Drew and Middletown’s Small Business Development Center Counselor Paul Dodge at the Grand Re-Opening of Servpro of Middletown at 4 p.m. Since 1967, Servpro has specialized in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage. Servpro is a great chamber member and we look forward to celebrating their newly renovated facility with General Manager Al Conroy and his team.

On Wednesday evening, I will attend the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame 23rd Annual Induction Ceremony at the Connecticut Convention Center with my wife Patty. The Induction Ceremony is the signature program of the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame which is designed to provide a forum for women to gather, share stories and celebrate their achievements. This year’s inductees are Rebecca Lobo, Jane Pauley, and Dr. Joyce Yerwood. Rebecca is well known to citizens in our state thanks to her outstanding basketball career at UConn and in the WNBA, and through her broadcasting work on ESPN. She is also a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. I am honored to serve with Rebecca on the UConn Board of Trustees. I congratulate her and her fellow inductees and look forward to a great event on Wednesday evening in Hartford.

The chamber’s 15th Annual Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast meeting is scheduled for next Monday, Nov. 7 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. This major chamber event, sponsored by Middlesex Hospital, will feature Captain Paul Whitescarver, Commanding Officer of The Naval Submarine Base New London, as keynote speaker. Capt. Whitescarver became the 51st Commanding Officer of Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., in December 2015. While the installation’s history dates back to 1868, Naval Submarine Base New London was designated the Navy’s first Submarine Base in June 1916 and it is currently celebrating the 100th Anniversary of that designation. Today, the base occupies more than 680 acres, and serves as home to more than 70 tenant commands and 15 attack submarines. We are very proud that this event has become such a key part of Veterans Week in Middlesex County and look forward to welcoming the captain. In addition to keynote remarks from Capt. Whitescarver and other important updates, the chamber will present the 2016 William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award to Larry Riley of Middletown. 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 award is chosen by a committee of its past recipients. I am very proud that Larry Riley is this year’s recipient. Larry is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He went on to have a distinguished career in the U.S. Secret Service where among many other things, he worked for four Presidents of the United States including Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Larry also has a long record of supporting a number of veteran and other community service initiatives. He served as Commander of the Veterans of the Vietnam War for five years and served two one-year terms as Commander of the Middletown Council of Veterans Organizations. Currently, he is the Commander of American Legion Post 75, is an officer in the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Veterans of the Vietnam War, and through the Veterans Administration, Larry is training pound and shelter dogs to be companion dogs for Veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI, and other ailments that often lead to isolation. He is also very active with St. Luke’s Community Services, the Greater Middletown Military Museum, the Middletown Community Senior Center, the VA Commissioner’s Veterans Service Organizations Advisory Committee, the Board of Trustees for Indian Hill Cemetery, and is a member of the local Community Emergency Response Team. Chamber members recognize Larry as the leader of the Pledge of Allegiance at each of our monthly Member Breakfast Meetings. We very much look forward to honoring our friend Larry and look forward to another great Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans event. For more information, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com. I urge those who are interested in attending to register right away as we expect this event to sell out this week.

Our November Business After Work Networking Reception for members and their guests will be held at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam next Wednesday, Nov. 9. This is one of our most popular Business After Work networking receptions of the year and for good reason. The Riverhouse team always puts out a delicious spread of food and drink, and this event always features outstanding networking and a huge crowd. The Business After Work event will once again feature The Festival of Wreaths Silent Auction. Beautifully decorated wreaths will be displayed for viewing and bidding until the auction closes at 6:45 p.m. The funds that are raised will benefit the Annual Holiday on Main Street, presented by Pratt & Whitney and the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program. Liberty Bank is donating the 30 artificial wreaths for chamber member businesses to decorate and we certainly appreciate that. We look forward to a fun evening in Haddam on Nov 9. I thank Jim Bucko and the Riverhouse team for once again hosting this outstanding event.

As we enter November, I also want to make sure that our members save the date of Dec. 14 which is our annual Governor’s Breakfast at the Radisson Hotel. This event, sponsored by Eversource, will feature keynote remarks from Governor Dannel P. Malloy and other important chamber updates. Our chamber has welcomed Connecticut’s sitting governor since the administration of Gov. William A. O’Neill in the 1980’s. We look forward to continuing this tradition on Dec. 14. More on this major chamber event to come.

November is upon us, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

 

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