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    Tuesday, June 18, 2024

    The Buzz: Students of the Year named during New London ceremony

    New London Rotary Club award winners in its annual Student of the Year program stand next to New London Mayor Michael Passero, far left, and school advisers during a program at Ocean Beach Park. Photo submitted
    Heather Gagnon
    Tom Morgan
    From left, Dean DeBiase (M&T Bank), Donald Morrissey (Aquarion), Stephie Volo (Earth Animal), Heather Rohde (Earth Animal), Betsy Graham, Bob Graham, Jack Betkoski (PURA), Rob Bates-Mason (Planet New Canaan), John Kriz (Planet New Canaan), Katie Owsley (Planet New Canaan), George Logan (Aquarion), Nathaniel GoldSchmidt, and Senator Richard Blumenthal.

    Ten exemplary students from schools in New London were honored by the New London Rotary Club at its annual Student of the Year program May 16 at the Pilot House at Ocean Beach Park.

    The students were chosen by their individual schools on the basis of their academic achievements, along with their citizenship, work ethic and character. New London Superintendent of Schools Cynthia Ritchie said at the event the students are all exceedingly well rounded and their strengths go well beyond having good report cards.

    The students were accompanied to the luncheon event by their parents and guardians, teachers and school administrators. The Rotarians who organized the event were Barry Neistat, Valerie West, Christine Hammond, Leon Lehrer and Todd Gipstein.

    The students honored were: Precious Bafor of Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School, Olivia Campbell of ISAAC School, Najaf Haider of Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School, Geraliz Santos Hernandez of Jennings International Magnet School, William Jennings of St. Joseph School, Landon Marchesseault of Winthrop STEM Magnet School, Erlens Point du Jour of New London Adult and Continuing Education, Abigail Potts of The Williams School, Frances Powers of the Regional Multicultural Magnet School and Angie Valverbe Solano of New London Multi-Magnet High School.

    Heather Gagnon has joined The Bill Heenan Team at William Raveis Real Estate as its new director of business development. Gagnon brings 23 years of experience in real estate brokerage sales, management, and coaching, beginning as an agent for Heenan before quickly establishing herself as a formidable presence in the market.

    Her trajectory includes her role as director of business development for Heritage Properties prior to the company’s acquisition by William Raveis Real Estate in 2016. She also was regional manager for a luxury brokerage, twice earning the Manager of the Year award.

    In addition, Gagnon is the owner and instructor of Cadema Education, a real estate school in New London County. Visit Raveis.com for more information.

    People & Places

    The South East Connecticut Community Center of the Blind is looking to hire a new executive director to serve as its chief operating officer. The position is part-time, and applicants should visit www.centeroftheblind.com.

    The center’s current Executive Director Wendy Lusk has been involved with the organization for nearly 40 years, and plans to continue on as an active member, while traveling and enjoying retirement with her husband. The center’s president is Scott Skinner.

    The SE CT Community Center of the Blind was founded in 1972 and coordinates monthly dinners, lunch-&-learn programs, field trips, support groups, Braille classes, and a host of other activities and services for members. A small retail area features magnifiers and other aids for the low vision and blind.

    Betsy Graham, a board member of the Ledyard Conservation Commission who also holds leadership positions at the Alliance for the Mystic Watershed and the Lantern Hill Valley Association, was named June 1 as an Envronmental Champions Award winner by Aquarion Water Co.

    Graham has been a member of the Lantern Hill association for over 40 years. She has also supported Save the Sound’s efforts to restore fish habitats at Long Pond and has worked with Ledyard Parks and Recreation to host educational programs for children on her own waterfront property. When she’s not advocating for watershed conservation, she pulls invasive plants from hiking trails, collects litter along waterways, and takes water samples for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

    Other winners of the Environmental Champion Awards included Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, M&T Bank, Earth Animal in Southport, Planet New Canaan and Hall High student Nathaniel Goldschmidt in West Hartford.

    Each winner in the business, non-profit, and adult categories gets a $5,000 grant for their chosen environmental non-profit. The student winner receives a $1,000 award. For more, visit www.aquarionwater.com/awards.

    The Eugene Atwood Fund, an interest free loan and scholarship foundation supporting New London County residents, recently recognized the contributions of retiring trustees and introduced new members to the board.

    Elizabeth Dodge White and Amanda Atwood Lindberg each of whom has dedicated over four decades of service to the fund, are both retiring, and each is a great granddaughter of the foundation founder Eugene Atwood.

    The Eugene Atwood Fund welcomed new members Annie White and Stephanie Hartell. Ms. White succeeded her mother, Elizabeth Dodge White, and brings 24 years of experience in education. She is currently serving as the Middle School Learning Support Coordinator at the Gordon School. Ms. Hartell brings 20 years of experience in education. She is currently serving as AP English Language, Composition and Journalism teacher at Waterford High School.

    For more information, visit www.eugeneatwoodfund.org.

    Charter Oak Federal Credit Union hosted a reception on Thursday, May 30, to formally award $100,000 in scholarships to 50 high school and college students from the New London and Windham counties out of over 170 applications.

    Community Outreach Scholarship Winners for this year are:

    Lovely Manfred, Academy of the Holy Family; Jessica-Willow Harris, Bacon Academy; Tara Guttman, East Lyme High School; Sarah Brooke Bonura, East Lyme High School; Richard Parsons, Ella T. Grasso Technical High School; Payton Lee, Griswold High School; Jocelyn Crowley, Killingly High School; Peyton Rosen, Killingly High School; Sean Harren, Ledyard High School; Ella Stephe, Ledyard High School; Cameron Sammarco, Lyman Memorial High School; Allyssa Judd, Lyman Memorial High School; Leland Hine, Lyme-Old Lyme High School; Zaire Moore, Marianapolis Preparatory School; Jacob Watson, Marine Science Magnet High School; Tyler Lawton, Montville High School.

    Also, Ava Gero, Montville High School; John Mancuso, New London High School; Brooke Romanski, Norwich Free Academy; Seth Howe, Norwich Technical High School; Kara Benito, Parish Hill High School; Jake Taylor, Plainfield High School; Ian Wolanin, Pomfret School; Nathan Virtue, Robert E Fitch High School; Calvin McCoy III, Robert E Fitch High School; Joslynn Centeno, Robert E Fitch High School; Lucas Dellacono, Saint Bernard High School; John Paul Peck, Saint Bernard High School; Sian Crespo, Science and Technology Magnet High school; Ethan King, Stonington High School; Grace Duggan, Stonington High School; Skye Nugent, The Williams School; Eric Levesque, Tourtellotte Memorial High School; Payton Smith, Waterford High School; Benjamin Nave, Wheeler High School; Megan Smith, Woodstock Academy, and Julia Coyle, Woodstock Academy.

    College award winners include: Sandra Allen-Fernandez, Case Western Reserve University; Kelsea Anderson, Clemson University; Leanne Pappas, Eastern Connecticut State University; Sage Stefanski, Fairfield University; Keeley Cerbo, Nichols College; Ella Stone, Northeastern University; Sarah May, Shenandoah University; Rene Cummings, Southern New Hampshire University; Abigail Ashbey, Southern Connecticut State University; Jessica Wood, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Navya Sabu, University of Connecticut, Avery Larkin, University of North Carolina Charlotte; Shelby Bellows, Virginia Tech.

    To learn more about the Credit Union’s scholarship program, visit: CharterOak.org.

    The Stonington Garden Club has been awarded a Partners for Plants grant from The Garden Club of America (www.gcamerica.org/partners-for-plants). The Garden Club of America awards grants annually through their P4P program to facilitate hands-on projects between garden clubs and managers on federal, state, local, and other significant public lands.

    As a first-time recipient, the Stonington Garden Club has been awarded the maximum 1st-year grant of $3,000 to renourish, redesign, and replant the public gardens at the Stonington Borough Post Office and the Wayland’s Wharf Rain Garden, which is on land owned by Stonington Borough.

    The club created the Borough Post Office garden from the proceeds of their first garden tour in 1961 and has cared for the garden ever since. As part of the Club’s Native Plant Project, the garden will be redesigned and replanted with native plants that absorb toxins and harmful carbon emissions, and feed pollinating birds and bees to support our human food sources.

    In addition, the grant will be used to expand Wayland’s Wharf Rain Garden to maximize its capacity to capture contaminated stormwater runoff from the parking area using native plants as filters before the water flows into Stonington Harbor.

    Kirby Williams, co-president and co-chair of the club’s Native Plant Project, looked forward to “reimagining these public gardens with native plantings (that) will have a broad, long-term impact on protecting our community’s clean air and water while supporting pollinators who protect our food supply.”

    Work Vessels for Veterans has a new website at www.wvfv.org. The website features a user-friendly interface designed to provide easy access to information about programs and ways to get involved. The site serves as a comprehensive hub for all things Work Vessels for Veterans.

    The Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce this month recognized Tom Morgan, owner of Sound Home Inspection, LLC in the ‘=Community Proud series sponsored by CorePlus Credit Union.

    With over 30 years of experience inspecting over 5,000 homes throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Fishers Island, Morgan is a certified ASHI Inspector and member of the American Society of Home Inspectors and Connecticut Association of Home Inspections.

    Tom served in the United States Coast Guard for several years. Since, he’s lived in a Mystic home built in 1891. “The charm and rich history of Mystic homes and businesses are magical,” said Tom.

    Davis-Standard LLC has announced a significant milestone in its sustainability journey as all of its North American facilities are now powered by 100% carbon-free electricity. By transitioning, Davis-Standard has taken a step towards reducing its carbon footprint and mitigating climate change impacts.

    Davis-Standard achieved this milestone by purchasing Green-e certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for its Pawcatuck and Fulton, N.Y., facilities. These RECs guarantee that the electricity used in these locations is generated from renewable sources, such as wind or solar power.

    For more information, visit https://davisstandard.com/sustainability/.

    The Thames Valley Council for Community Action was awarded $5,000 from the James P. & Mary E. Shea Perpetual Trust to support meal services addressing the nutritional and social needs of New London’s seniors. The program delivers Meals on Wheels, along with wellness checks, to homebound seniors.

    For active elders the program serves congregate lunches daily at the Broad Street Senior Center, and monthly to residents at four senior housing sites.

    TVCCA Nutrition Services Director Eugene Theroux said the nutrition programs receive only a portion of their required funding from state and federal sources. For more information, call TVCCA Community Services at (860) 444-0006 or visit tvcca.org.

    Medicare fraud is an increasing risk for seniors. Jill Vasington, Senior Medicare Patrol Program Coordinator in Norwich, noted that Medicare Fraud Prevention Week occurred last week and said families can help by protecting their loved ones’ Medicare number just as they would a credit card number. They can also help family members create a Medicare.gov account to access their Medicare statements online or remind them to open and review them when they come in the mail.

    They can also register their phone number on “do not call” lists and go to optoutprescreen.com to opt out of mailings.

    Health care providers can help by talking to patients about health care-related scams such as those related to durable medical equipment and genetic testing schemes. They can remind them that products and services should only be ordered by physicians they regularly see. Needed medical items should never be ordered through TV ads or unsolicited calls.


    Scient Federal Credit Union has been approved to participate in Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston’s homeownership assistance programs, Equity Builder and Housing Our Workforce. Both programs provide assistance to income-eligible homebuyers purchasing one- to four-family homes that will serve as their primary residence.

    Equity Builder Program provides grants to financial institutions to help local first-time homebuyers with down payments and closing costs as well as homebuyer counseling and rehabilitation assistance. Borrowers earning up to 80% of the area median income are eligible to receive up to $30,806 in assistance on a first-come, first-served basis. Buyers must complete homebuyer education/counseling.

    Housing Our Workforce enables financial institutions to help local homebuyers earning more than 80% and up to 120% of the area median income with down payments and closing costs. Borrowers can receive 10% of the home sales price or up to $25,000 in assistance on a first-come, first-served basis. Buyers must complete homebuyer education/counseling if they are a first-time homebuyer.

    Faith Silva, Scient mortgage manager, said the credit union is eligible to receive up to $350,000 through the EBP and up to $260,0000 through HOW depending on availability of funds in 2024. To learn more, call Silva at 860-441-0914 or email at faith.silva@scientfcu.org.

    Comcast has announced Xfinity StreamSaverTM, a streaming bundle of Apple TV+, Netflix and Peacock for new and existing Xfinity Internet and TV customers.

    StreamSaver will launch this month to Xfinity customers nationwide. It includes a subscription to Netflix Standard with ads, Peacock Premium, and Apple TV+, delivering a savings of over 30% or nearly $100 a year. Customers can visit Xfinity.com for information.

    The Buzz is a weekly roundup of business news compiled by Business Editor Lee Howard. To get in The Buzz, email businessbriefs@theday.com. To easily access urls cited in print, go to www.theday.com and type “The Buzz” into the search bar.

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