Community News For The Manchester Edition

Free Hike

MANCHESTER — At 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, the Manchester Land Conservation Trust will lead a three-mile hike on its 62-acre farm property. Park at the cider barn, 330 Bush Hill Road. The walk will be held if light snow or rain, but extreme weather cancels. The Botti family farmed this property starting about 1912, growing apples, peaches, cherries and blueberries, as well as vegetables. Some of the old fruit trees still grow on the property, and there are rolling hills and a farm pond.

Bush Hill itself is on this property, the highest point in the southwest section of Manchester. The Land Trust is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that preserves 457 acres for public use in Manchester, Andover, Bolton, East Hartford, Glastonbury, and Vernon. Visit www.manchesterlandtrust.org for more information. A self-guiding trail map is in the Maps & Flyers section of the home page. Three miles of trails were created by volunteers, with materials and heavy equipment provided by individual donors and grants from the Manchester Road Race Committee, Fuss & O'Neill, and Cruisin' on Main. A photo of the farm in winter was taken by Normand Charlette.

Conservation Commission Environmental Stewardship Award

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Conservation Commission announced two recipients of this year's Environmental Stewardship Award. The award recognizes individuals or groups that have exhibited an extraordinary commitment to the protection or enhancement of the natural environment in the Town of Manchester.

The Commission recognized James E. Powell with a lifetime achievement award for over two decades of dedication to the Hockanum River Linear Park. Powell has taken on the task of propagating native trees and shrubs to reestablish habitat along the river. He has also built, installed and maintained a network of duck boxes along the linear trail which have served as nesting locations for ducks and other birds.

Lauren Pliska, the Manchester Garden Club Youth Program Chair, was recognized for her contribution to the development of the next generation of Environmental Stewards. Pliska created and implemented a youth educational activity program called "Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks." The activity provided children ages 5 to 10 an opportunity to learn fun facts about oak trees related to growth, habitat benefits, and how to propagate acorns.

The program was so successful that the Lutz Museum repeated the program at the Lutz Nature Center. These two individuals are examples what a significant impact volunteers can have in the conservation and development of assets in a community, improving health, aesthetic and well-being for all members.

Pictured are Commission-member Frank Belknap and Awardee James E. Powell, and Commission-member Molly Toomey and Awardee Lauren Pliska. Photos courtesy of Jeff Feldman.

Rebuilding Together Manchester Accepting Applications

MANCHESTER — Rebuilding Together Manchester is accepting applications for 2018 home repair and maintenance projects. They are a non-profit organization that assists low-income Manchester homeowners, specifically the elderly, disabled, and families with children, with maintenance and home repairs that they are unable to manage on their own.

The work is completed at no cost to the homeowner primarily through volunteer labor. To qualify, the home must be located in Manchester and the applicant must be the legal owner of the property. Income verification is required as we can only assist low-income homeowners.

Examples of projects include interior and exterior repairs, accessibility modifications such as installation of grab bars and railings, painting, yard work, and clutter removal. They do have grant funding for roof repairs and install handicap ramps for those who qualify.

The largest annual event, National Rebuilding Day, will take place on April 28, but projects are done on a year-round basis. They are currently seeking skilled contractors, plumbers, electricians, roofers, and painters. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Contact Molly Devanney at 860-338-1612 or molly.devanney@gmail.com for more information or to fill out an application today.

Family Fun Night

MANCHESTER — Family Fun Nights indoors at Nathan Hale Recreation Center, 160 Spruce St., will take place once a month on Fridays, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Dates are Jan. 19, Feb. 23, March 9 and April 20.

Admission is free and pre-registration is not necessary to this drop-in program. For more information, call 860-647-3089.

Friday, Jan. 19: Zumba Dance Party with Marisa Paradis. Zumba class is designed to bring people together to enjoy a night of dance, play and neighborhood unity.

Each Family Fun Night is aimed at providing families an opportunity to connect with their children and each other around creative, play-based, and/or educational opportunities and activities. Most of the families in attendance have children in early childhood, under age 10, however, families with older children and older siblings also are invited to attend. These events provide families a positive, no cost opportunity for connection and recreation.

Synagogue's Winter Lecture Series

MANCHESTER — Professor Andrew Pessin, Professor of Philosophy at Connecticut College, will speak at Beth Sholom B'nai Israel for the congregation's annual winter lecture series. The three-part program, titled "Wisdom in the Winter" will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the synagogue, located at 400 Middle Turnpike East.

The series will cost $30 for all sessions, $15 for students; or $12, $5 for students, per lecture at the door. The topics are as follows.

Jan. 22: Puzzles and Paradoxes, Reason and Faith: This lecture provides a historical overview of the sometimes fraught, sometimes productive relationship between philosophy and religious belief, drawing on Jewish sources as well as those of the other major monotheistic religions.

Jan. 29: Maimonides, Religious Philosopher or Philosopher of Religion? Maimonides is the rare example of a figure whose religious work inspired as much veneration as his philosophical work inspired condemnation. This lecture provides an overview of Maimonides's philosophical system, with a look at the controversies his work engendered.

Feb. 5: The Ideas of Zionism. Zionism was not one idea but many, and they didn't always get along so well. This lecture looks at the history of Zionist ideas, emphasizing the process whereby staunch religious resistance to Zionism eventually became staunch religious support (with important exceptions).

In addition to teaching, Pessin is also the Campus Bureau Editor of The Algemeiner, a news source focusing on Jews and Israel. His books include "The Sixty-Second Philosopher," "Uncommon Sense: The Strangest Ideas From the Smartest Philosophers," and "The God Question: What Famous Thinkers From Plato to Dawkins Have Said About the Divine," as well as two novels, the most recent being "The Irrationalist," a historical murder mystery based closely on the suspicious death of the famous philosopher René Descartes. Pessin also portrayed "The Genius" several times on the David Letterman show. Visit http://www.andrewpessin.com for more information.

Visit https://www.myshul.org/2017/11/lectureseries2018 to register, or contact 860-643-9563 or programming@myshul.org for information on the program.

National Alliance For Mental Illness Meetings

MANCHESTER — The National Alliance for Mental Illness support group will hold its regular meeting on the third Thursday of every month. The location of the meeting will be held at the Center Congregational Church, 11 Center St., from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The meeting is open to all families and friends of people with mental illness and focuses on sharing experiences and information. All the information is confidential. For more information on the meeting or becoming a member of NAMI, call Karen at 860-649-5659.

Bible Studies

MANCHESTER — Non-denominational Bible studies are available for women with some Bible knowledge or none at all. Materials will be provided. Call Evelyn for more information and location details at 860-649-8356.

Letter: A Note From The American Legion

A note from The American Legion in Manchester, CT: Greetings, my name is Dale Snellenberger and I serve as the Chaplain for The American Legion, Dilworth-Cornell-Quey Post 102 here in Manchester.

The organization throughout the world celebrates religious emphasis during the first week of February. One item we celebrate, on the first Sunday in February, is the story of the Four Chaplains. We would like to share the story of these heroic Chaplains with you as well.

Please allow me to offer some information about this great organization. The American Legion was founded in 1919, and came to Manchester, Connecticut in 1924 through a group of veterans of the Great War. They met and formed Post 102 at the Congregational Church, located at Main and Center Streets in Manchester. The American Legion, is built on the foundation of four pillars: Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children and Youth.

Our motto is, "For God and Country," and we hold to the highest regard the freedom of worship. The pillar Americanism, stands with the great foundation of spirituality, and the belief that without God, Americanism as a principle cannot stand securely. Americanism supports the core belief of the Legion, which is, "Service to the Community, State and the Nation," this is to look out for the needs and concerns of others all around us.

We offer support to veterans who need assistance. We help veterans and their families receive benefits that they qualify for. We know from firsthand experience, that faithful service to our Country is costly. Many veterans are unaware of the benefits that they qualify for.

We are here to help. Please feel to contact me with any questions you may have regarding these matters.

In His Service, Dale Snellenberger, Chaplain. DILWORTH-CORNELL-QUEY POST 102. Email: Chaplain@legionpost102.org.

Who Were the Four Chaplains? The relatively new chaplains all held the rank of first lieutenant. They included a Methodist minister, Rev. George L. Fox; a Rabbi, Alexander D. Goode, of the Reform movement; a Roman Catholic priest, Rev. John P. Washington; and Reformed Church in America minister, Rev. Clark V. Poling. Their backgrounds, personalities, and faiths were different, although Goode, Poling and Washington had all served as leaders in the Boy Scouts of America. They met at the Army Chaplains School at Harvard University, where they prepared for assignments in the European theater, sailing on board USAT Dorchester to report to their new assignments.

The Story: U.S.A.T. Dorchester left New York on Jan. 23, 1943, on route to Greenland, carrying the four chaplains and approximately 900 others, as part of a convoy of three ships.

The ship's captain, Hans J. Danielsen, had been alerted that Coast Guard sonar had detected a submarine. Because German U-boats were monitoring sea lanes and had attacked and sunk ships earlier during the war, Captain Danielsen had the ship's crew on a state of high alert even before he received that information, ordering the men to sleep in their clothing and keep their life jackets on. Many soldiers sleeping deep in the ship's hold disregarded the order because of the engine's heat. Others ignored it because the life jackets were uncomfortable.

During the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 1943, at 12:55 a.m., the German submarine U-223 off Newfoundland in the North Atlantic torpedoed the vessel, which knocked out the Dorchester's electrical system, leaving the ship dark. Panic set in among the men on board, many of them trapped below decks. The chaplains sought to calm the men and organize an orderly evacuation of the ship, and helped guide wounded men to safety.

One witness, Pvt. William B. Bednar, found himself floating in oil-smeared water surrounded by dead bodies and debris. "I could hear men crying, pleading, praying," Bednar recalls. "I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going."

Another sailor, Petty Officer John J. Mahoney, tried to reenter his cabin but Rabbi Goode stopped him. Mahoney, concerned about the cold Arctic air, explained he had forgotten his gloves.

"Never mind," Goode responded. "I have two pairs." The rabbi then gave the petty officer his own gloves. In retrospect, Mahoney realized that Rabbi Goode was not conveniently carrying two pairs of gloves, and that the rabbi had decided not to leave the Dorchester. As life jackets were passed out, the supply ran out before each man had one. The chaplains removed their own life jackets and gave them to others. They helped as many men as they could into lifeboats, and then linked arms and, saying prayers and singing hymns, went down with the ship.

According to some reports, survivors could hear different languages mixed in the prayers of the chaplains, including Jewish prayers in Hebrew and Catholic prayers in Latin.

Some 230 of the 904 men aboard the ship was rescued. Life jackets offered little protection from hypothermia, which killed most men in the water. The water temperature was 34 °F (1 °C) and the air temperature was 36 °F (2 °C). By the time additional rescue ships arrived, "hundreds of dead bodies were seen floating on the water, kept up by their life jackets."

Awards: On Dec. 19, 1944, all four chaplains were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross. Until the Dorchester, there was no mention in print of Catholics, Protestants and Jews working together in this manner, especially in prayer.

In Search Of The South Pole

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Community College Organization of Active Adults is offering a free program titled 'In Search of the South Pole,' taking place at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, at MCC SBM Charitable Auditorium, 60 Bidwell St.

Richard Wolak will speak on the history and characteristics of the continent. He has lived and worked on the continent for more than three years. This program is open to the public.

Root Cellar Soups-N-Garden Event

EAST HARTFORD — The Hillstown Grange is holding a free Root Cellar Soups-N-Garden event on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 617 Hills St. Doors open at 6 p.m. for a homemade soup dinner. followed by a gardeners' forum about getting the garden started. Some of the soups will be made from this winter's root cellar produce, featuring pumpkin and garden vegetable soup.

The Agricultural Committee plans to announce this year's special gardening contests and when free seeds will be available. Also a gardening discussion with question and answer time will start at 7:30 p.m., giving all gardeners a chance to talk and dream about 2018 gardens. Bring your favorite seed catalogs to share. This event is great for novice or first time gardeners to learn from the old pros.

The Hillstown Grange is located in the Hillstown corner of East Hartford, Glastonbury, and Manchester since 1888. For more information, email hillstowngrange@aol.com or call Frank at 860-690-2845.

January Book Discussion

MANCHESTER — Peter Heller's "The Dog Stars" is the book chosen for the January book discussion. The meeting will take place in the Howroyd Room at the Mary Cheney Library, 586 Main St., at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22.

The free program is open to the public and registration is not required. Light refreshments will be served. For further information, contact Adult Services/Reference at http://library.townofmanchester.org or 860-645-0821.

Cheney Cinema Saturday

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Public Library on 586 Main St. will show a movie about an unlikely alliance between two very different individuals in 19th century Great Britain during Cheney Cinema Saturday at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27.

Due to license restrictions, since admission is free, the library cannot release the name of the movie being shown, however it is rated PG-13, and run time is 1 hour and 52 minutes. Can't guess the name of the movie? Call the library for more information.

Light refreshments will be served. No registration is required for this free event. For more information, visit http://library.townofmanchester.org or call 860-643-2471.

Saint Bridget School Open House

MANCHESTER — Saint Bridget School of Manchester, 74 Main St., is hosting an open house from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday, Jan. 28. Before and after school programs are available. Students participate in art, music and library/reading programs every week.

Drop-in Monday open houses will take place throughout the year from 9 to 11 a.m. Visit www.saintbridget-school.com for more information.

Donations Sought For Farm Property

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Land Conservation Trust is pleased to announce an ongoing matching-fund campaign to pay off the mortgage on its 62-acre farm on Bush Hill Road. This former orchard was farmed by the Botti family from about 1914 into the 1990s, but was slated for a housing development. The Land Trust was able to purchase and protect the property with generous grants and donations and also a $210,000 mortgage from the Conservation Fund, the balance of which is $68,000. The mortgage has a balloon payment in August 2018, and the Trust is seeking donations from the public – especially those who come to hike the trails at the farm, or other trails at Risley Park, Salter's Pond, and Cheney Railroad.

Donations of $100 or more will be matched at 100-percent, and donations of $500 or more will additionally designate the donor as a Life Member of the Land Trust. Donations can be mailed to the Trust at 20 Hartford Road, Manchester, CT 06040. To donate online, go to www.manchesterlandtrust.org and choose the Join Us/Donate link, pay by credit card or Paypal.

Everyone is welcome to come to the next farm hike. Meet at 330 Bush Hill Road at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27, to explore the three miles of trails created by volunteers, with materials and heavy equipment provided by individual donors and grants from the Manchester Road Race Committee, Fuss & O'Neill, and Cruisin' on Main. The hike will be held rain or shine, but extreme weather cancels. Email info@manchesterlandtrust.org with questions.

Free Braille Calendars

AREA — The Community Outreach Office of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut has 2018 Braille calendars, free of charge. For more information, contact info@nfbct.org or 860-289-1971.

Board Game Group For Adults

MANCHESTER — The Silk City Board Game Group, hosted by the Manchester Public Library, 586 Main St., will meet from noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20.

Learn to play Sid Meier's Civilization: A New Dawn; Through the Desert; Azul; and Sagrada. The game library will also be available. The library supplies all the games and partners with The Time Machine to offer this program. No registration is required. Free program. Free light refreshments to be served. For more information about this group, email jbartlett@manchesterct.gov or call 860-643-2471.

Celebrate Recovery

MANCHESTER — Do you have a habit? If you have ever been hurt, you may have developed a habit to relieve or escape your pain. Sometimes you may acquire a habit by bad example or almost by mistake. A habit is an addiction to someone or something.

Maybe 'Celebrate Recovery' is for you. You don't have to struggle alone. The group meets from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays at Manchester Church of the Nazarene, 236 Main St. For more information, call 860-646-8599.

Community Action Agencies Accepting Energy Assistance Applications

AREA — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just released $67,255,113 in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding. This amount is 90-percent of LIHEAP funds allocated for the State of Connecticut.

Connecticut residents struggling to pay their utility bills this winter can apply for home heating assistance through Connecticut's Community Action Agency Network. The Community Action Agencies (CAAs) are the only nonprofit agencies administering LIHEAP, which provides home heating assistance to Connecticut's most vulnerable residents. Each CAA has application intake sites throughout their service regions. Some sites may include local town halls, and customers should check with their local CAA for a complete site listing.

In Connecticut this program is called the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) and is housed under the Department of Social Services (DSS). The state's Community Action Agencies administer the $74M+ program locally in all 169 cities and towns. CAAs are now accepting CEAP applications for the 2017-2018 winter season and expect more applications in the coming weeks, especially as temperatures begin to drop. Homeowners and/or renters may apply, and funds may be used to pay for whatever source of heating residents have in their homes. This includes wood, electric, oil, kerosene, or natural gas.

CAAs will certify oil deliveries starting Wednesday, Nov. 15, for those who heat with oil, propane, and deliverable fuels. May 1, 2018, is the last day households can apply for benefits unless the household is utility heated and has a shut off notice for its primary source of heat. May 15, 2018 is the last day a utility heated household with a shut off notice for its primary source of heat can apply for benefits.

Another protection for Connecticut's struggling families is the utility moratorium, or winter hardship, which provides protection for eligible households against heat source shut-offs between November 1st and May 1st. Gas and electric utilities cannot be shut off (summer or winter) if lack of the utility creates a life-threatening situation. If a customer is having trouble paying their utility bills during the winter moratorium period, Community Action Agencies will work with them on affordable utility payment programs, including the Matching Payment Program (MPP) and Below Budget Payment Plans. MPP is a payment incentive program that allows eligible utility customers to maintain year-round electric and gas service and pay an agreed-upon amount each month to pay down the balance on their heating bill. If customers cannot afford the utility payment plan, CAAs work with the customer and can submit a Below Budget Payment Plan based on the household income and expenses.

A CEAP benefit to a household automatically makes that household eligible for weatherization services. So, in addition to heating assistance, CAAs will refer customers to those agencies providing weatherization services, which helps minimize energy-related costs and fuel usage in homes through retrofits and home improvement measures. Additionally, there are funds available this year through the CAA for heating system repair and replacement if such services are deemed necessary and as the amount of funds allocated allow. Lastly, when a customer comes to a CAA for energy assistance, the agency will also assist customers in accessing other benefits for which they may be eligible including SNAP and other food programs, financial counseling, child care, and case management.

Connecticut's poorest families struggle each and every year to heat their homes in this a state with one of the highest utility rates in the country; customers many times having to choose between heating and eating or heating and paying for their medicines. CEAP allows them to not only cover high home energy costs and keep warm during the cold winter months, but gives low-income families the opportunity to address other critical, basic needs, rather than having to choose between them. Any resident who needs help paying their heating bill this winter should contact their Community Action Agency immediately.

For more information on Connecticut's Energy Assistance Program, how to find your local CAA to apply, or to make a donation, visit www.cafca.org or contact the Connecticut Association for Community Action (CAFCA), 144 Clinton Street, New Britain, CT, 06053, 860-832-9438.

Write Out Loud Open Mic Nights

MANCHESTER — Come take part in youth-led poetry and hip-hop dance workshops and then close your night with performing and/or cheering on others who display their talent and creativity at Eastside Neighborhood Resource Center, 153 Spruce St., from 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 26, Feb. 23, March 30, April 27 and May 25.

The open mic nights are for performers ages 13 through 19. No registration is required. Call 860-647-3089 for more information.

Jewish Life

MANCHESTER — Beth Sholom B'nai Israel invites people to come and see its community, be a part of Jewish life in Manchester and meet the clergy. Religious School is tuition free for members; the school is open to all Jewish children. For more information, visit www.myshul.org or call 860-643-9563.

Pet Food Drive

MANCHESTER — Bennet PTSA representatives are holding a pet food and supply drive to benefit Manchester residents through Manchester Animal Control. They are collecting crunchy and canned dog and cat food, used tennis balls and waste bags. Email bennetacademyptsa@gmail.com for more information.

Yoga Classes

MANCHESTER — Morning and evening yoga classes for people of all levels will take place at the Meetinghouse of Unitarian Universalist Society: East, 153 Vernon St. West. For more information, visit www.uuse.org or 860-646-5151.

Cost to attend is $40 per eight-week session or a $6 drop-in fee. Guests are asked to bring a yoga mat or large towel and wear loose clothing. First-time students are asked to arrive 10 minutes early.

Poets And Writers

MANCHESTER — The Wit & Wisdom Poets and Writers Club in Manchester is looking for new and established poets and writers. Club meetings are held at the Arbors, 403 W. Center St., on the second Saturday of each month, between 1 and 3 p.m. For more information, email Debbie at wwpoetryclub@gmail.com or contact Charles Gilbert at 860-647-7348.

MCC Library Goes Live

MANCHESTER — As part of the Integrated Library Project, the Raymond F. Damato Library at Manchester Community College has gone live with a comprehensive online search tool that will find and deliver materials stored not just at MCC but also at the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) libraries and the Hartford-based Connecticut State Library.

Any state resident of high school age or older with valid ID is welcome to register as a borrower at MCC's Library. To use the new search tool, visit www.manchestercc.edu/library and enter keywords.

Youth Mini Grant Program

MANCHESTER — The Manchester Youth Commission is requesting proposals for mini grants. Applications for the Manchester Youth Commission Mini Grant Program are available at townofmanchester.org. Contact Heather at 860-647-5215, or heatherw@manchesterct.gov for details.

Hoopla Digital Content Available

MANCHESTER — Manchester Public Library card holders can download the free Hoopla digital mobile app on their Android or iOS device or visit hoopladigital.com to begin enjoying thousands of titles. Once registered patrons can borrow up to 10 items each month and Hoopla digital's automatic return feature eliminates late fees. Hoopla allows multiple simultaneous downloads so there is no wait to borrow. Titles are available for instant streaming or temporary downloading. To learn more about this exciting new offering click on the "Online Databases" link at library.townofmanchester.org.

MS Support Group

MANCHESTER — The Manchester MS Support Group meets at the Presbyterian Church, 394 Lydall St., at 10 a.m. on the first Monday of each month. Contact Nancy at 860-742-5155 or Karen at 860-746-4247. Visit ctfightsMS.org or call 800-FIGHT MS.

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