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    Thursday, December 07, 2023

    The Buzz: Owner of Orchid Maids in Norwich wins Women Rising Award

    Shellena Pitterson, winner of a 2023 Women Rising Award from the Women’s Business Development Council, owns Orchid Maids in Norwich. Photo submitted
    Alaina Milukas, singer and keyboardist for the Nashville group Powers and the People, is a Quaker Hill native. Photo submitted
    Susan Catalano Photo courtesy of SCORE
    Robert Clark
    On Friday, Nov. 3, Little Acorn Preschool at 200 Hazelnut Hill Road Groton, held its annual Lantern Walk event. The school, owned by Dieneke Andrus, hosted the event for 20 children ages 3-5 years old and their families. Children sang seasonal songs about light and the change of seasons. Photo courtesy of Little Acorn Preschool

    Shellena Pitterson, owner of Orchid Maids in Norwich, has been recognized by the statewide Women’s Business Development Council with a 2023 Women Rising Award.

    The award was presented Nov. 3 at the Women Rising Gala and Awards Celebration at the Hyatt Regency in Greenwich. Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz served as the event’s honorary chair, and the keynote address was delivered by tennis star and former U.S. Tennis Association President Katrina M. Adams.

    The Women Rising Award is presented annually to WBDC clients who show a strong commitment to the organization and demonstrate success in their business and tenacity in pursuing their goals.

    Other winners were Liz Ceppos, Cross Culture Kombucha (Danbury); Melissa-Sue John, Lauren Simone Publishing (East Hartford); Emmanuella Lauture, Ma Maison Childcare (Stamford); Neisa Medina-Nunez, The Learning Barn Childcare Center & Preschool (Naugatuck), and Kristin Vece, Elevate Healing Arts (Cromwell).

    Visit ctwbdc.org for more information.

    Training & Information

    The free business advisory service SCORE will be holding a webinar titled “Leverage LinkedIn to Grow Your Business” from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30.

    This webinar with LinkedIn expert Susan Catalano and digital marketing expert Robert Clark will provide you with the essential steps to develop a LinkedIn marketing program to generate quality leads and get more customers.

    For information on the Zoom presentation, and to register, visit https://easternct.score.org/. For questions, email Anne Driscoll, anne.driscoll@scorevolunteer.org.

    People & Places

    Up-and-coming Nashville band Powers and the People, featuring Quaker Hill native Alaina Milukas, is celebrating the recent release of its third single, “Big Man.” Milukas was an active part of Waterford’s music and performing arts programs, and is a member of the graduating class of 2016.

    “Big Man” examines American masculinity and its fixation on materialism and objectification. Powers and the People, also known by PNTP, has previously released two other singles, “If It Ain’t Broke” and “hungover.”

    Active in the Nashville music scene, the ensemble has been written about by LA Music Review and Melophobe Music. It has received radio airplay in both the UK and Connecticut, and all of its releases are available now on streaming platforms.

    Vocalist Adeline Powers fronts the band, with Nick Best on bass, Connor Doak on guitar, Milukas on keys, and Mary Smith on drums. For more, visit powersandthepeople.com, or use the @powersandthepeople search on major social media platforms Tiktok, Facebook and Youtube.

    Stonington author Tim Love’s book “Discovering Truth” from Internationalist Press has been named a finalist in two categories of the 2023 Best Book Awards for Business Communications/Public Relations and Business: Marketing & Advertising.

    The first Finalist Award earlier this year was in the International Book Awards for Marketing & Advertising.

    The Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting from 4:30-6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, for Children’s Riverfront Center as it re-opens after renovations at 476 Thames St., Groton. The center is celebrating 40 years of nurturing the needs of children and their families through high-quality education and care. The center is holding a toy drive alongside the ribbon cutting.

    Visit mysticchamber.org to register.

    The 270-acre Gungywamp property in Groton has been confirmed to the Connecticut State Register of Historic Places and named as a State Archaeological Preserve.

    The inclusion of Gungywamp in the Connecticut State Register of Historic Places solidifies its position as a vital cultural landmark, said Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, which helps manage the property, in a release.

    “This recognition is a reflection of the collaborative efforts and commitment of the state of Connecticut and Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in preserving shared history,” the release said. “With this inclusion, DPNC is better positioned to partner with the State on policies to protect the property, while providing increased access to the property for educational purposes.”

    DPNC, which assists in trail maintenance among other items, hosted more than 335 individuals on guided hikes of Gungywamp last year, including public-access hikes and natural history tours. The property consists of three parcels, including a series of stone structures of historical and cultural significance.

    As the nominating organization, DPNC Executive Director Davnet Conway noted, “This designation allows us to continue to satisfy the public’s curiosity about the incredible indigenous and colonial stonework of the site, while providing additional protections for its preservation.”

    Members of the public wishing to tour Gungywamp may book a private guided tour of the property by contacting khargrave@dpnc.org, or may register for one of the monthly public tours led by DPNC. Dates can be found at dpnc.org/events.

    During the 2023 WNBA season, the Connecticut Sun helped support a variety of local nonprofits.

    Most notably, the team’s performance on the court helped to raise funds for FRESH New London, Black Girls Achieve, and The Village for Families & Children. Post University, the Connecticut Sun's Official Education Partner, also supported the Sun's "Threes for Degrees" Scholarship Program by donating $100 per made three-point shot by Connecticut Sun players at home games, adding up to a $15,000 scholarship awarded to a local college student.

    Through the support of Connecticut Sun partners, Dunkin' and MJ23 Sports Bar & Grill, "Steals for Meals", a program focused on combating family food insecurity, donated $10 for every steal made by a Connecticut Sun player at a home game to FRESH New London, totaling $3,320 for the 2023 season.

    “From helping to install backyard garden beds to supporting our weekly food pantry, the Connecticut Sun has consistently shown up for FRESH New London and made it possible for us to provide more culturally relevant food to our community,” said FRESH New London Executive Director Alicia McAvay in a release.

    MoheganSunCasino.com, the Official iGaming Partner of the Connecticut Sun, donated $10 to Black Girls Achieve for every free throw made by a Connecticut Sun player during the 2023 season, or $6,720— money that will go toward funding the organization's upcoming annual Black Girls Achieve Summit.

    "It means a lot to me that the Connecticut Sun is using their platform to highlight the work in their local community, especially relating to the issues of Black women and girls," said Taniqua Huguley, founder and CEO of Black Girls Achieve.

    The Sun's Official Health Insurance Partner, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut was the donation partner for "Anthem And-One" for the 2023 season. Through this initiative, aimed at supporting mental health and improving access to preventive and mental healthcare, Anthem donated $100 for every completed and-one a Sun player earned throughout the season to Sun community partner, The Village for Families & Children, raising a total of $6,100.

    Grants & Scholarships

    The Town of Westerly and Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce are seeking applications for one final grant of $3,500 that is available through the town’s COVID Response Grant.

    The program offers a chance for a one-time allocation of funds to help small businesses and nonprofits adversely affected by COVID-19. Due to one recipient underspending their approved allocation, there is now some remaining funds left in the program.

    All monies must be spent by grant recipients by Dec. 31, and $2,500 is now available for loss of business and an additional $1,000 to support business sustainability, but that $1,000 would require a 100% match by the applicant.

    Applications will be considered for privately held businesses and nonprofits located, registered, and licensed (if applicable) to operate in the Town of Westerly. Those established after Oct. 1, 2021, are not eligible. A decision will be rendered by Nov. 22, and the deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Nov. 17.

    Details may may be found at https://www.oceanchamber.org/business-links. For information, contact Lisa Konicki at 401-596-7761.

    Consumer Issues

    Amid rising concerns about a flood of improper Employee Retention Credit claims, the Internal Revenue Service announced an immediate moratorium through at least the end of the year on processing new claims for the pandemic-era relief program.

    IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel ordered the moratorium will run through at least Dec. 31. A substantial share of new claims from the aging program are ineligible and increasingly putting businesses at financial risk by being pressured and scammed by aggressive promoters and marketing, the IRS said.

    The IRS continues to work previously filed Employee Retention Credit (ERC) claims received prior to the moratorium but renewed a reminder that increased fraud concerns means processing times will be longer. The IRS emphasizes that payouts for these claims will continue during the moratorium period but at a slower pace due to the detailed compliance reviews.

    "The IRS is increasingly alarmed about honest small business owners being scammed by unscrupulous actors, and we could no longer tolerate growing evidence of questionable claims pouring in," Werfel said in a release.

    More information is available on IRS.gov/erc.

    Health & Wellness

    Access Health CT open enrollment runs now through Jan. 15 for health insurance plans for 2024. Connecticut residents can shop, compare, and enroll or renew their health insurance plans with coverage beginning in the 2024 plan year.

    Customers must enroll on or before Dec. 15 for coverage to begin Jan. 1. Customers who enroll between Dec. 16 and Jan. 15 will have coverage starting Feb. 1, 2024.

    AHCT is the only place Connecticut residents can qualify for financial help to lower health insurance costs. Access Health CT Chief Executive Officer James Michel said his agency will continue to assist HUSKY Health clients affected by “Medicaid Unwinding” during open enrollment.

    Medicaid Unwinding is the process of resuming the annual review of households for Medicaid eligibility after a three-year break during the Public Health Emergency. The eligibility redetermination process began again April 1, and HUSKY clients will be notified when it is their turn to enroll.

    For free online help, residents may visit AccessHealthCT.com. Live chat is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.

    Residents may also call 1-855-805-4325, Monday through Friday from 8-7 and Saturday from 9-3. The call center will be open from 8 a.m. to midnight on Dec. 15 and Jan. 15. Customers who are deaf or hearing impaired may use TTY at 1-855-789-2428 or call with a relay operator.

    Get in The Buzz by emailing releases to businessbriefs@theday.com. Lee Howard, The Day’s business editor, compiles briefs on a weekly basis.

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