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Norwich Rose Arts Festival announces awards, contest winners

Norwich — The Rose Arts Festival Committee announced 11 winners of the 2020 Hometown Heroes Awards and two winners of the Sara St. George Davis Budding Artist Award.

The awards were bestowed even though the 2020 Rose Arts Festival was canceled due to the coronavirus.

Winners of the Hometown Hero awards were: Norwich Human Services Director Lee Ann Gomes, who also volunteers on numerous local nonprofit agencies; Anthony Petros, National Guard veteran and author of several local history books; Denielle Sandavol, kindergarten teacher and co-founder of the Norwich Education Foundation; Charlie McShane, owner of 360 Defense Martial Arts School; Caleb Stover, active in 4-H, the Rose Arts Festival, Greeneville Day and Rotary Community Corps.; Erin Haggan, Norwich Youth and Family Services counselor and founder of the annual suicide prevention walkathon; Monsignor Anthony Rosaforte, who has been active in the community for 50 years; Norwich Community Development Corp. Senior Vice President Jason Vincent, who has been assisting local businesses during the COVID-19 shutdowns; Debbie Kievits, youth advocate and founder and leader of the Bully Busters anti-bullying youth group; The Larry Pontbriant Athletic Safety Fund, which raises awareness about sudden cardiac arrest; and Jillian Corbin, executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Place soup kitchen, which provided 93,000 meals to people last year.

Each winner will receive a commemorative gift, courtesy of Norwich Public Utilities.

The Sara St. George Davis Budding Artist Display and Competition were held virtually. The grand prize winner was Cynthia Deneus, 16, a Norwich Free Academy student. The runner-up was Teala Avery, 17, also an NFA student.

Through sponsorships by the law firm Chinigo, Leone & Maruzo LLP and The Eliza Huntington Memorial Home, the Rose Arts Festival Committee distributed 600 craft bags to elderly residents, students at Norwich Public Schools, NFA and clients at Reliance Health, Inc.

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