Monday, August 31, 2015

Southington Catholic School Celebrates Ribbon-cutting

On a clear Sunday afternoon, August 23, 2015, the Most Rev. Leonard Blair, Archbishop of Hartford, joined pastors, administrators, faculty, School Board members, parents, children and friends and citizens of Southington, CT to recognize the opening of a new Catholic school that will open to pre-K through 8th grade on Thursday, August 27, 2015

Students of Southington Catholic School and a few hundred others were present for the ribbon-cutting, seen in this photo. Left to right, Fr. Nick Melo, pastor of St. Thomas Church, Archbishop Blair, with several children assisting him in handling the large cutting shears, while Principal, Mary Pat Wirkus and Fr. Ron May, pastor of St. Dominic observe. 
"Spirit Joy", the children's music ministry, sang spiritually uplifting music opening the program with A New Day", the musical theme of the day.

Members of the Southington Knights of Columbus Color Guard of Isabella Assembly 122 were present, honoring the ceremony.
Speakers expressed appreciation for the work of many, joy, hope and inspiration in the school’s completion. Archbishop Blair commended the dedicated work of those who persevered in the challenging logistics, planning and organization. He recognized the enduring spiritual leadership of Frs. Ronald May and Nicholas Melo, pastors of the two merged predecessor schools of St. Dominic and St. Thomas, respectively. He also called attention to the steadfast, positive efforts of a joint steering committee, Principal, Mary Pat Wirkus, faculty, staff, parents and volunteers. Acknowledging the many challenges Catholic Schools are facing today, Blair noted that the spirit of Southington Catholic exemplified an effective collaboration with the Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools. “Southington Catholic can be a paradigm for future Catholic Schools. Our lives as Americans living in this state and in our country will flourish as we work together.”

The new School Board includes: David DellaVecchia, Donna M. Finn, (chairperson), Mark Gius, John J. Leary, Stanley Maigarie, Gina Marcantonio-Wotton, Jean Moriarty, Sharon O’Brien, Jim Petruzzi, Stephen J. Proffitt, Joan M. Scanlon, and Theresa Soltys.   

School Board Chairperson, Donna Finn, said: “When you believe passionately in the worth of something you have experienced, it is only natural to want deeply for others to have that same experience. That’s why I’m so grateful to participate in this journey of foundation and development of Southington Catholic School; that our children and their families may experience the sense of joy, achievement, growth, spirit and community in which my family flourished. Our Steering Committee surveyed the parents, faculty and administration of our two founding parish schools, asking them what they valued most in a Catholic education.  Not surprisingly, they included in their responses: educational achievement, strong curriculum and academic discipline. What came out most passionately though were Character Development, Christian Values, Sense of Community, support of my family’s values, and pride in the person I see in my child’s development. From my perspective, those are the values we saw when our oldest child when he began his Catholic School education 24 years ago. That’s a pretty strong, consistent track record. If you believe in this journey your child is about to begin, don’t just watch the scenery from your window.  If you believe in the value of this opportunity, be a part of its developing itinerary. Take its most creative trips and excursions, and as the doors open on Aug. 27th hear the call to come aboard!”

Hundreds attended the service, following which, all were invited to a reception of refreshments and cakes. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Southington citizen, Ruth Riccio, remembered

Ruth Riccio, who died this past March at the age of 76, was honored last month by the surviving members of her Southington H.S. Class of 1957 with a plaque presented and placed on the wall of the Riccio Building at 1 N. Main Street.  “Ruth Riccio was one of the last of her generation of one of the stalwart families in Southington,” said classmate Priscilla ‘Patty’ Dunn.  “Ruth was always ready to take on the task of organizing our annual reunions.” said Anthony ‘Tosh’ Tarfano who spoke at the dedication.  

“My mother was always willing and ready to take on a task that was for the betterment of the community,” said her son, Michael.  Elder parishioners of St. Dominic Church noted that the Riccio family was deeply committed to many fund raisers that enabled Fr. Walter F. Geraghty to build a parish hall and, a ultimately their church nearly 35 years ago.  

“Friends remember Ruth’s service on the Senior Citizen Commission and Library Board and many more activities where she could be of help.” Classmate Joni Theriault said.  Michael Riccio thanked the class for the wonderful  tribute to their mother.

Members of Southington Class of 1957 present: Irene Shoman, Joni Theriault, Beatrice Porter, Anthony ‘Tosh’ Tarfano,  Doria Palmieri, Priscilla ‘Patty’ Dunn, Louise Carbone and Ulla Gibbs.
Riccio Family at dedication:  Front row: Madelyn Bergin, Zachary Bergin and Lucy Bergin.
Middle row: Braden Kowalik (orange shirt), Francesca Riccio and Livia Bergin. Back row: Mike Riccio, Lucca Riccio, Danielle Kowalik, Tina Riccio (Mrs. Mike), Ruth Bergin and Ralph Riccio.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Taste of Southington - 14th annual success - looking like a County Fair

John Guzuk, Meriden enjoys a slice of pizza
Taste buds savoring, they came out in huge numbers on August 5, 2015.  Sponsored by Barnes Museum, "with a lot of help from a dozen local vendors, twenty volunteers and TD Bank's contribution of musical entertainment, face painting and the signing publicity of Sign Pro, so many came flocking to this event", said Barnes Museum Director, Marie Secondo, "We are all absolutely thrilled at the crowds we drew from near and far."

They sat on the grass, on lawn chairs and stood, elbow to elbow at times, enjoying the variety of tastes proffered by local restaurants all the while chatting, meeting, greeting and eating with gusto.

Don't need a thousand pictures to tell this story but here are a few sure to give you a sense of a great town event on a perfect day!

Old friends enjoy the camaraderie

Elbow to elbow they went from vendor to vendor in search of their favorite foods
"Wow, where do we begin!"
Kathy & Bob Suchenski
Chrisie Sullivan tries Ribs
from Smokin with Chris
Diana Marie Diego
enjoyed the meatball
sliders from Gino's Grille
A view from the outside in

Waiting for a hot dog at Saint's booth
Paradise Pizza & Grill - A heavenly slice of pizza for those who didn't mind the wait!

Pearl Roberts chose a hot dog with chili & the works
from Saint's Restaurant

Rosemary DeFeo, Vice President, TD Bank and
Luigi Cavallo

They sat on lawn chairs, on picnic blankets and
wherever they could. 

The event committee also ran tours of the Barnes Museum and added special thanks to Library Director, Susan Smayda.

Southington Italian-American Festival Draws 8,000

Another great weekend festival for Southington. If you missed it, see what was happening and who was there. 
Hundreds came and enjoyed a marvelous array of talent performing Italian and American music:  classic pop and show tunes, Italian favorites, operatic areas and more,

Joe LaPorte

“The Southington Italian-American Festival of 2015 was a success.” said festival committee chair, Joe LaPorte. The three-day festival took place on  Center Street decorated with American and Italian flags.  “Visitors numbered about 8,000. many from distances.”
Center Street became an exciting promenade 

Apple Harvest Festival 2015
Hostess, Carson Stifel,
greeting and enjoying the festival 

Srolling along the tented exhibits of two dozen vendors, people  browsed, stopped for a taste of sharp provolone or fresh fruit at the ShopRite booth while reconnecting with friends. There was a sense of honoring the past as folks took in the sights, smells and sounds of the culture and ancestral heritage. 

Children and adults enjoyed the deliciously cool gelato and Italian ices. Many indulged in tasty fried dough treats. Theatre-style seating included chairs in the open and tables under tents. Exciting talent came to the stage Saturday and Sunday entertaining the audience of hundreds with Italian and American music.  Intermissions turned into more festive greetings and foods such as the ever-popular sausage & peppers grinder at the UNICO station and the pasta fagioli and soffrito offered by the Sons of Italy.

The tasty food fest varied along the way with Broccoli rabe & sausage, Paul Gregory’s meatball sliders, pizza, eggplant parmigiana with plenty of hot dogs, burgers and fries, too, plus an ample assortment of cold beverages.  

Sunshine Miss Southington 2015, Madelyn Merryfield, 5 years old,
with sister Alexis (l), 7, and mom Sabrina Merryfield 
Face-painting, balloon sculpting, carnival rides and the Great Leone Magic Show held the attention of kids and adults alike

Southington’s Kelly Nowik captured the audience with her pop show tunes and opera arias. Fourteen year-old Charlie Tiernan, an exciting young talent who took second place in the 2010 Apple Harvest Festival, tugged heart strings with her energetic performance of great show tunes and classic pops, including a powerful rendition of New York, New York.

From South Windsor we heard a half dozen show tunes and operatic selections superbly performed by 17 year-old Gabriel Mellizo. Joining him in a marvelous duet was Megan Eberly,18, also of South Windsor. The stellar young talent delighted audience. The evening’s program closed impressively with New York-based classic baritone, Ross Benoliel, who recently appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, at  Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic.  Connecticut-based tenor, Marcello Sparagna, a winner of the Festival of Songs in Brooklyn, and tenor Teo Ricciardelli, performer in Italian festivals up and down the East Coast and Anna Rita Tornella closed the evening. Entertainment continued on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday morning, Rev. Frederick M. Aniello, celebrated a Mass in Italian in memory of Patrick A. Baker who died on July 4, 2015.  A beautiful altar and furnishings were installed by the Baker family. Michael Baker stated that the statue of the Blessed Mother has been donated to the Italian Ladies Rosary Society so that it may remain the focal point of the Mass and procession which is escorted by the color guard of the Southington Knights of Columbus Assembly 122 and the Sam Vinci Middletown Italian Marching Band.

Driving by the site the next morning, it seemed almost incredible that the street was restored to normal, as though nothing had happened, a credit to hundreds of volunteer man-hours who organized and hosted this major community event.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Southington Awarded for Excellence in Financial Reporting by GFOA

The Town of Southington has been awarded the ‘Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting’ by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the U.S. and Canada.
A letter to Southington Town Manager, Garry Brumback, from GFOA’s  Director of the Technical Services Center, Stephen J. Gauthier, stated: “This Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting; its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.”  
Gauthier added: “The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, (CAFR), has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program including demonstrating a constructive spirit of full disclosure to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.” GFOA is a nonprofit professional association with offices in Chicago and Washington, DC, serving approximately 17,500 government finance professionals.  

Photo at right:
Staff of Finance Department, Town of Southington 
awarded certificate for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
Front-L to R:  Deborah Landry; Emilia Portelinha, Director; Joyce Williams: Back – Jackie Santos-Villegas; Carol Ladd; Christina Sivigny-Smith. Assistant Director. Not in photo: Susan Mesinger 

Brumback commented: "The award is a tribute to Emilia Portelinha, (Director of Finance), for her skills of leadership, and to her staff.  They illustrate the teamwork and interdependency with all our department heads who meet regularly, synergizing their collective efforts.”                                   
Portelinha said: “We are all most grateful for this award which is due to the combined efforts of the staff in every way, especially in the preparation of the detailed and complex CAFR.”

Board of Finance Chairman, John Leary, said: “The entire town should take pride in the accomplishments of our Finance Department.  For 24 consecutive years the Southington Finance Department has gone beyond the minimum requirements and provided the town with comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence transparency and full disclosure of our finances. Excellence has become the standard for Southington.”

Finance Deapartment's Wall of Plaques covering 24 years for excellence in Financial Reporting.  Twenty-one individual plaques on the wall and three more placed on the plaque on the table including the annual diamonds. 
As published in the Southington Citizen, August 14, 2015