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In The Times: Contributors take time to celebrate

A week and a half ago, I invited all Times columnists, freelancers and contributors to a little party at the house that Libby Friedman and I share in Waterford. Amazingly, most of these unassuming community leaders showed up on a beautiful September day to drink a glass of wine, sip on some soda and tell tales — about themselves and each other.

There was Groton Town Historian Jim Streeter, who pens the column History Revisited, yucking it up with John Steward, who drops us a Tossing Lines column once a month from his home in Waterford, and Norwich correspondent Kevin Gorden noting that he once interviewed History Matters columnist Jim Littlefield when he led the East Lyme High School baseball team to a state championship. Lee's Kitchen columnist Lee White, who just decided to step down from the Groton Board of Education, was there as well, delivering a delicious proscuitto and cantaloupe combo.

But food was secondary to the conversation and the convivial spirit of all our Times writers from throughout the region.

There was Bill Hobbs of Stonington, writer of the always charming and informative Nature Notes items, along with his amazing wife Laurie, who is in charge of public relations at the Ocean House in Watch Hill; Ruth Crocker, the author and playwright who contributes her Writing on Water column focusing on Mystic-area history; Roberta Vincent, a New London writer who has a passionate love of Norwich and did a whole series focusing on Black history there; Robert Welt, a retired Groton Public Schools teacher who writes amazingly detailed descriptions of downtown Mystic way back when in his Remembrance of Things Past musings, and our new Teacher's Circle columnist Gay Collins of Preston, a retired teacher in Waterford Public Schools.

And of course there was the star of the afternoon, Maria Proulx of Ledyard, our 17-year-old Teen Talk columnist who has been writing for the Times since she was 12. Unfortunately, as she told us, Maria will soon "age out" of writing a teen column, and we must begin a search anew sometime next spring for a local writer who can connect to the concerns of younger folks.

But in reality we are always looking for new writers, whether they are regular contributors or one-hit wonders. Two writers who attended the party Sept. 19, G.S. Casale of Groton and Irving Steel of East Lyme, started out writing one piece and have since been lured into more regular contributions. For people with community spirit, as all of these folks have, connecting with others through writing is always a thrill.

One of the most challenging and interesting aspects of running the Times papers over the past year was The Day's decision to launch The Norwich Times in the midst of a pandemic, surely one of the few new papers to launch during a very difficult year for the nation — and for advertising. But with the able assistance and support from the Times' new assistant editor Owen Poole of Montville, who attended the party with wife Bethany, we managed to launch a Norwich edition Oct. 1 a year ago that has been gratefully embraced by a community eager for a publication with a fresh, new voice.

We are grateful for the many regular contributors to the Norwich expansion who were not able to attend our Times party, including Bill Stanley, Glenn Cheney, Kris Gove, Lisa Shasha and Mary Lang. The Times truly is a community of unique voices, and we'd love you to join the party (figuratively, of course) by sending us your photos and writing. Send whatever you have to times@theday.com.

And who knows: Perhaps when we all get together again in a year or two, we will have expanded our roster of contributors to include many more community voices that can add to the melting pot of informative and entertaining material you find in the Times every week!

Lee Howard is The Day's community editor.

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