We have reached an important week in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation, the week that includes Election Day.
Election Day is not only a day when we choose our elected officials, but it is a symbol of our democracy, and it represents our commitment to a peaceful transfer of power and responsibility. It is very important that we do our civic duty, visit our polling stations and participate in the election process. We are very lucky to live in 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 ability to hold free and fair elections is only possible because of our veterans and those who serve our country at home and around the world.
Veterans Day, a special day designed to honor all the veterans that have served this nation with distinction and bravery, is Nov. 11. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce continues to support our active duty, reserves and guard personnel, and the many local veterans that have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Our 17th Annual Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting will be held Monday morning at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell, with keynote speaker Kevin Brown “Red Eagle,” chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council of the Mohegan Tribe, and himself, a retired U.S. Army colonel.
Two awards will be presented at this major event, the William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award and AT&T Veteran Support Business of the Year Award.
The Pomfret award is presented annually to a veteran of the 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, a fixture in the 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 this morning.
The 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, which 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.
The Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans 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 this morning in Cromwell. 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.
A busy Monday continues at the chamber office at noon with a meeting of the chamber’s Executive Committee, our top governing body. It is under the leadership of Chairman Jay Polke. I continue to appreciate the support of this outstanding group, which is truly representative of the business community in Middlesex County. We look forward to another productive meeting, which will cover a variety of important topics. This week also features meetings of our Women’s Business Alliance, Portland and East Hampton Division, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, Cromwell Division, Health Care Council Steering Committee and Young Professionals’ Alliance.
Thursday afternoon features an exciting grand opening for The Wedding Dress, a quaint boutique at 162 Main St. in Portland. It features a diverse selection of unique wedding dresses for brides, bridesmaids, mothers and flower girls, in addition to a wide selection of prom dresses, headpieces, custom veils, lingerie, jewelry and shoes. I look forward to joining chamber Chairman Jay Polke, Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield and Economic Development Specialist Mary Dickerson as we officially welcome new owner Abbie Paklos and her team to their new location in one of our key member towns.
On Saturday, Wesleyan University’s 2018 Salute to Service Event will be held on campus as the university honors local veterans, students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents who have served. At noon, the Wesleyan Cardinals football team will kick off vs. Trinity College, and at halftime of the game, the Middletown PBA Pipes and Drums will lead local veterans onto the field to be recognized for their service. I thank President Roth and the entire Wesleyan community for their continued support of local veterans and of so many community causes.
Looking ahead to later in the month, excitement continues to build for our upcoming Business After Work Networking Reception at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam Nov. 28. 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 event will feature the Central Business Bureau’s 2018 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 annually donates the artificial wreaths for chamber member businesses to decorate, and we certainly appreciate that continued support. I thank Owner Jim Bucko, General Manager Hattie Donner and the entire Riverhouse team for hosting this outstanding event.
Before closing, I want to mention how much I enjoyed the 90th anniversary celebration at Malloves Jewelers Saturday night at its Main Street Middletown location. Since the beginning, Malloves Jewelers has been known as an outstanding family business and a strong corporate citizen. Buzzy Levin was a strong supporter of mine and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce for many years. He was a great businessman but an even better person.
His son Marc is a chip off the old block, and he has continued this tradition of conducting good and honest business in downtown Middletown, all while supporting the community the family loves. A percentage of sales from Saturday night will go directly toward the Community Foundation of Middlesex County. I am very proud of Marc and thank him and his team for their continued support of our chamber and for their continued dedication to Middletown.
I look forward to celebrating the longevity of another local business Nov. 12, as Baci Grill in Cromwell celebrates 20 years in business with a brief 4 p.m. reception at its Berlin Road location. Sisters-in-law Brenda and Lynne Reilly have done a fantastic job with this local staple since it opened in 1998. I thank them for their longtime commitment to Cromwell, to Middletown through Tuscany Grill which they also own, to Middlesex County, and to our chamber. Since the beginning of their journey, Brenda and Lynne have provided delicious food, have supported many community causes, and have done it all with grace and class.
Baci Grill is going strong, and I look forward to celebrating with Brenda, Lynne, Cromwell Mayor Enzo Faienza, Town Manager Tony Salvatore, and many other friends and supporters next Monday.
In closing, I ask that you be sure to do two important things this week, vote, and thank a veteran.