Candlewood Lake Authority Shares Important Water Safety Tips

BROOKFIELD, CT—Marine Patrol is Ready for the Season!

Memorial Day weekend marked the official opening of the summer season. The Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol are the first responders on the entire lake measuring 11 miles long, 2 miles wide, and 65 miles of shoreline spanning five towns. The Patrol strives to ensure all boaters share a safe recreational experience on the lake.

Assistant Chief of Marine Patrol Henry Dyson encourages all boaters to take extra time to do a safety check before they head out on the water. Many boaters have a checklist for opening and closing the boat. Create a personal checklist for essential safety gear.

  1. Make sure your drain plugs are in prior to launch.
  2. If you aren’t a mechanic, it is a good idea to have a certified boat maintenance professional give your vessel a once-over before you put the boat in the water to make sure it is seaworthy.
  3. Be sure you add fresh fuel.
  4. 4. Check the expiration date for appropriate safety equipment including your fire extinguisher. If you shake your fire extinguisher you should feel powder moving around inside the device. If the powder is not moving inside have the extinguisher checked by a fire professional or replace it. Instrumentation must be in the green. Check your vessel horn, and if you use one, your air horn.
  5. If safety gear is still in its original packaging, open it so you can quickly access it in case of emergency.
  6. Check the condition of your life vests, moldy or torn PFD should be replaced. Make sure all PFDs are the appropriate size for each passenger. Add an extra life vest if you pick up a passenger or two – or if you need to be a good citizen for someone in distress.
  7. Put a map of the lake in an easily accessible compartment.
  8. Make sure you have a charged cell phone and if you have one, an extra battery pack for longer days on the water.

Chief Nick Mellas urges boaters to use caution on the water this early in the season.

  1. Seasonal storms can cause large debris to be moved from the islands or personal property into the lake. Be on the lookout for natural obstacles and floating docks or vessels which may come loose around the lake.
  2. Water levels are variable, pay careful attention to hidden hazards.
  3. Be sure you read and understand what buoy markers are in your line of sight, give hazard buoys a wide berth. Never tie your vessel to a marker buoy.
  4. Before May 31, you must wear a life jacket on a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. Beginning June 1 and through October 31, you must have a life jacket with you, and you should always make sure you wear it.
  5. Lake temperatures at this time of year can be in the 55 to 60-degree range. Did you know that there is no difference between lake temperatures of 30 vs 60 degrees Fahrenheit? Hypothermia or cold shock can affect you in a matter of minutes and without a life vest, you may not survive. 50 -60 is the danger zone.

Boat traffic on Candlewood Lake can be particularly busy on the weekends. Boaters are encouraged to be courteous of fellow boaters and to be good citizens of the lake. Marine Patrol will be actively present on the water this summer. Don’t hesitate to stop and ask a question or just to say hello. We will see you on the lake!

What you need to know about operating a vessel on Candlewood Lake
Licensing and Safe Boating Certificates (SBC) –

CLA encourages all boaters to take a Boating Safety course and earn a state of CT Safe Boating Certificate (SBC) to keep you – and others – safe on the waters.

  1. An SBC is required for Connecticut residents, owners of real estate in Connecticut, and anyone using Connecticut waters more than 60 days a year.
  2. Connecticut recognizes certificates from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island for use on our waters.
  3. All personal watercraft (PWC) operators on Connecticut waters must possess a Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation (CPWO) from DEEP.

Water Skiing Endorsement

Emily’s Law was passed in 2015 in Connecticut for operators of a vessel engaged in water skiing, tubing, or any passengers riding in the wake. Operators:

  1. must be at least 16 years old.
  2. must hold the appropriate license and/or certificate (see above)
  3. must hold a Connecticut DEEP-issued Safe Water Skiing Endorsement.

Anyone who held a valid license and/or certification before October 1, 2015, is grandfathered from the endorsement requirement. If you received an SBC after October 1, 2015, and your SBC doesn’t already include the endorsement, you need to take the two-hour towing endorsement available free of charge through the online sportsman licensing system.Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Surfing and Tubing Safety Reminders

  1. By law, water skiing is towing anyone behind a vessel under power. This includes surfing, wakeboarding, and tubing.
  2. Operators must comply with the DEEP Safe Water Skiing Endorsement regulations.
  3. There must be a responsible person at least 12 years of age on board to assist the operator and observe the progress of the person being towed.
  4. Towing a passenger behind a vessel is not permitted from one half-hour past sunset to sunrise and when weather conditions limit visibility to less than 10 yards.

Bug Obsessed Kids Can Observe Insects from a Safe Distance with Keyachi Bug Remover

FAIRFIELD, CT—Do you have a child who is obsessed with creepy crawlies? Want to teach your children about nature in a fun way from a safe distance? Then you need to check out the Keyachi Bug Remover. The prototype is already taking nature lovers by storm with an easy to use, simple design that allows kids and adults to catch, observe and release bugs from a safe distance.

According to Entomologist Dr. John Guyton, encourging a child’s natural curiosity about insects is beneficial and should not be stifled.

“Parents and teachers often err on the side of caution, discouraging this curiosity by suggesting that insects are dangerous and will bite or sting. This is unfortunate because children grow up without essential knowledge, experience, or understanding of the animals they will have the greatest contact with throughout life. All it takes is an insect or two, introduced with questions from teachers, environmental educators, or parents, to ignite a passion for scientific discovery,” Guyton said on Green Teacher’s website.

The Keyachi Bug Remover allows bugs to be observed from its clear chamber for hours of learning and fun. Created by Connecticut M.I.T. graduate Mark Ortiz who now lives in Ohio, the device attaches to a vacuum to allow users to safely catch bugs in their homes and then release them outside after observing for a short while.

Live collecting is useful with young children, Dr. Guyton stated, and said that kids should release the insects they collect within a few hours after they have made observations or sketches.

“Providing the opportunity and a few rudimentary tools for young investigators will help them along in their bug investigations,” he said.

Organic landscape designer Dennis Leahy, Mark’s cousin, said, “One person using Keyachi to free pollinators will not save the world.  But many of us, together, choosing to catch and release bugs rather than spray them, can improve our home and yard’s environment.  We will use less toxic chemical sprays.  We will return more pollinators and beneficial bugs outside.”

The duo is seeking backers on a Kickstarter campaign they’ve created to fund the project.

“We have Keyachi Bug Remover nearly ready for release,” Mark said. “We’ve designed and tested it extensively over the past two years. Now we need your help to get us up over this last hill:  scaling and product release. Your backing will help us automate the manufacturing process and scale production by purchasing tooling, a commercial grade manufacturing equipment, and component molds.”

The product is made in the U.S. and all manufacturing and assembly will be done in the Cincinnati, Ohio metropolitan area.

To learn more and back their campaign, visit Keyachi’s Kickstarter campaign. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/keyachibugremover/keyachi-bug-remover

Photo: John Pasden via Flickr Creative Commons

#CTWriters Can Relieve Stress Through Westport Writers Workshop Online Classes

WESTPORT, CT—Feeling tired, anxious, stressed, and/or overwhelmed all at the same time? You’re not alone. Many have been feeling the effects of the quarantine and the associated stressors. Recent studies have shown there’s a pill-free way to cope.

Several studies have shown a high prevalence of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic symptoms in health care workers, according to an article by Frontiers in Psychology, and that what research has shown that “expressive writing” can work as a form of therapy for people undergoing these feelings.

“Over the past 25 years, several researchers have examined the effects of writing about traumatic life events. Pennebaker’s Expressive Writing task involves writing about a traumatic experience for a controlled period of time, on consecutive days….. several studies have shown the benefits of writing across different sessions about personal experiences with stressful life events. This procedure has been associated with the reduction of physical and mental symptoms both in clinical and normal simples.” (Procaccia, 2021).

So where can you find some writing relief? At the Westport Writers Workshop! Since the shutdown, WWW has been offering interactive writing workshops, classes, and events online for experienced and aspiring writers alike in a supportive, welcoming environment. Taught by experienced, professional, published authors, these classes have served as an outlet for the community to craft and develop their work while offering a release of stress through a positive, therapeutic tool. Since last spring’s launch of an online-only learning environment, they have even more classes and workshops to cater to the needs of their attendees.

In addition to writing about personal experiences in several classes, writers can also try their hand at writing children’s picture books, poetry, memoir, and much more. For a full list of offerings, visit the Westport Writers Workshop‘s website.

Executive Director Liz Matthews was happy to announce that “we will bring back in-person workshops this fall, along with continuing to offer our remote workshops.”

Students of the classes shared how much they have helped them in their writing journey.

“I love everything about it. The instructor provides a safe and inspiring atmosphere and the level of positive feedback when we workshop our writing is unparalleled. I feel honored to be a part of this talented and courageous group of writers and to hear and share writing. I am left awestruck after each class,” Amy Egbert stated.

“I’m grateful that Westport Writers’ Workshop only allows students to listen during their critiques and not speak. It allows us to let go and be okay with what we’ve written as we grow. I’ve made tremendous writing progress, I’m getting positive feedback, and I’m preparing to solicit agents,” said R.J. Grand.

Since its inception in 2003, the Westport Writers Workshop has developed into one of the most highly respected programs in the area for writers of fiction, memoir, romance, playwriting, children’s literature, and much more. Through leadership and training from a stellar team of published, award-winning authors, students gain a deep understanding of the elements of writing and many go on to be published authors as well.

Summer 2021 Westport Writers Workshop’s class offerings are as follows:

Intermediate Fiction: A Generative, Craft-based Class with Jessica McEntee

  • Online via ZOOM
  • 6 Mondays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • June 21, 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27

Memories Real and Imagined with Rahla Xenopoulos

  • Online via ZOOM
  • 6 Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 12 noon
  • June 22, 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27

Intro to Fiction with Libby Waterford

  • Online via ZOOM
  • 6 Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • June 24, July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

Picture Book Writing 201 with Valerie Bolling

  • Online via ZOOM
  • 6 Tuesdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • June 22, 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27

Summer Intensive: Poetry & Prose with Jessie McEntee

  • Online via ZOOM
  • 10 a.m. to 12 noon
  • Monday to Thursday
  • July 6, 7, 8, 9

All of the Westport Writers Workshop workshops offered on Zoom are open to writers of all skill levels. Visit their Zoom tutorial pages to learn more about how to use the platform or contact Liz Matthews Executive Director, Westport Writers’ Workshop at exec@westportwriters.org or (203) 227-3250.

About Westport Writers Workshop:Since 2003, the Westport Writers’ Workshop has been offering workshops for every level of writer, from novice to published! Our instructors offer friendly, supportive writing workshops designed to encourage, inspire, and spark your imagination.With over 100 workshops a year to choose from, we welcome writers of all skill levels and genres. Our workshops are designed to suit your schedule, with options in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. We also host several Saturday-only workshops and one-week writing-intensive programs throughout the year. You can learn more about our workshops by visiting our WORKSHOP page. Let Westport Writers’ Workshop help you discover and develop your own unique writing talent and voice.

Our Philosophy: You can expect a supportive group led by an experienced instructor. You’ll write, read, and learn from each other. Focus is always on the quality of the writing – not on the subject matter. Writing begets writing. The more you commit to your writing, to showing up for your writing group, the more you will write. By joining a community of writers, you will become a stronger writer and influence others to refine their craft. Our philosophy and practices are inspired by Amherst Writers & Artists and Pat Schneider’s book, Writing Alone and With Others.

Our Mission: The Westport Writers’ Workshop is an independent literary arts center offering enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public. Our organization also provides free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities.

Our History: In 2003, Jessica Bram founded Westport Writers’ Workshop. In 2010, Jessica moved the workshops into the second floor of the historic building on 3 Sylvan Rd. South in Westport. In 2013, Valerie Leff bought WWW and became the Director. In 2014, Valerie created a Board of Directors and transformed the business into a nonprofit with a mission to offer enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public, and free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities. In 2018, Michelle Bradley came on board as the Executive Director, and in summer 2019 when Michelle’s family was transferred to Chicago, Liz Matthews took over as the Director. In March of 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, the workshops transitioned to the Zoom platform and were offered remotely. The organization grew to include writers and instructors outside of our immediate community.

westportwriters.org

Photo credit: Westport Writers Workshop

Danbury, Local Price Rite Stores Raise Close to $75K for CT & Area Food Banks

DANBURY, CT—– Price Rite Marketplace today announced its annual Check-Out Hunger fundraising campaign has raised nearly $75,000 for area food banks. From November through December 2020, Price Rite Marketplace stores in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island collected donations at checkout for local food banks to support the fight against hunger during a year where help was needed more than ever. Since the start of the Check-Out Hunger initiative in 2002, Price Rite Marketplace has raised nearly $2 million to fight hunger in the communities its stores serve.

Price Rite Marketplace of Warwick, located at 945 Bald Hill Rd, Warwick, RI 02886, was the top fundraising store, raising more than $8,000 during the campaign. In total, Rhode Island based Price Rite Marketplace stores raised more than $28,300 for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.  

“I want to thank our customers, team members and stores for once again stepping up in the fight against hunger,”

said Jim Dorey, president of Price Rite Marketplace. “We live in very uncertain times and our donations are making a difference in the lives of countless individuals and families who may be struggling to put food on the table.”

Food banks receiving funds from the campaign include: in Connecticut: Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare; in Maryland: Capital Area Food Bank and Maryland Food Bank; in Massachusetts: Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, The Greater Boston Food Bank and Worcester County Food Bank; in New Hampshire: New Hampshire Food Bank; in New Jersey: Community FoodBank of New Jersey and Food Bank of South Jersey; in New York: FeedMore WNY, Food Bank of Central New York, Foodlink and Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York; in Pennsylvania: Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Helping Harvest, Philabundance, Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania and Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank; and in Rhode Island: Rhode Island Community Food Bank.  

Price Rite Marketplace is a committed member of its local community, and fighting hunger is at the heart of Price Rite Marketplace’s charitable giving. The supermarket brand fights food insecurity through its support of local food banks, the annual Check-Out Hunger fundraising campaign and partnership with Feed The Children. Price Rite Marketplace contributes approximately $500,000 annually to local food banks and food pantries to benefit local families in need within the communities its stores serve.

About Price Rite Marketplace

Price Rite Marketplace is a registered trademark of Wakefern Food Corp., a retailer owned cooperative based in Keasbey, NJ and the largest supermarket cooperative in the United States. Price Rite Marketplace opened its first store in 1995 under the name Price Rite Supermarkets, and currently operates over 62 grocery stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Maryland. Committed to providing the best value for customers, Price Rite Marketplace delivers a simplified shopping experience with top name brand foods and products and expanded fresh produce and organic offerings at exceptional prices. Price Rite Marketplace is also dedicated to fighting hunger through its annual Check-Out Hunger fundraising campaign and partnerships with Feed The Children and local food banks. For more information, please visit www.priceritemarketplace.com.


Photo 1: (From left to right) Andrew Schiff, CEO, Rhode Island Community Food Bank, and Bill Devin, Vice President of Operations, Price Rite Marketplace.

Photo 2: Executives and team members from Price Rite Marketplace, on May 17,  present a check for more than $28,300 to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank from the grocer’s annual Check Out Hunger campaign.

# # #

Bethel, M.I.T. Grad Invents Revolutionary Product to Remove Insects from Homes & #SavetheBees

BETHEL, CT—An M.I.T. and Bethel High School graduate now living in Ohio has created a revolutionary new product that solves a problem many have in their homes—bugs—while also saving the bees and other important insects.

Mark Ortiz, an MIT graduate and Bethel native is the engineer of the Keyachi Bug Remover™ (patent pending), an easy to use device that attaches to a vacuum to allow users to safely catch and release bugs from their homes. Inventor of more than 200+ patented products, Mark’s motto is, “Simplicity always wins.” And simplicity can clearly be seen I the Keyachi’s design.

The clear plastic vacuum hose shows how the Keyachi stops bugs from being sucked into your vacuum cannister and crawling back out later. The bugs stay trapped inside the chamber and allows the user to release pollinators and other beneficial insects back into their natural habitats to help our environment without using any harmful chemicals or sprays. Keyachi also enables users to safely trap bugs from a distance and release them without having to touch them.

Mark describes his creation as “a weapon for good in the perilous plight of pollinators.” His cousin, organic landscape designer Dennis Leahy, co-founder of Light Wing Labs stated:

“When I saw this device that my cousin Mark was working on, I immediately saw it as a way to save pollinators and beneficial bugs.  A safe, easy, effective way to catch them live and return them outside.  That’s why I got involved and encouraged Mark to let me help him bring this important product to market. As an owner of an organic landscaping company for nearly 20 years, I’ve seen the harmful results of people using chemicals on their lawns to control weeds and insects, chemicals on flowers to control bugs, chemical sprays in their homes.”

Dennis continued, “I’ve also seen good results when a client trusted me enough to convert their property to an organic haven:  no chemicals, no non-native invasive plants, but an abundance of pollinator attracting plants.  Healthier lawns.  More vibrant flowers.  Their children can roll around on the grass without fear.  Their dogs that had skin issues often cleared up. One person using Keyachi to free pollinators will not save the world.  But many of us, together, choosing to catch and release bugs rather than spray them, can improve our home and yard’s environment.  We will use less toxic chemical sprays.  We will return more pollinators and beneficial bugs outside.”

The duo is seeking backers on a Kickstarter campaign they’ve created to fund the project.

“We have Keyachi Bug Remover nearly ready for release,” Mark said. “We’ve designed and tested it extensively over the past two years. Now we need your help to get us up over this last hill:  scaling and product release. Your backing will help us automate the manufacturing process and scale production by purchasing tooling, a commercial grade manufacturing equipment, and component molds.”

The product is made in the U.S. and all manufacturing and assembly will be done in the Cincinnati, Ohio metropolitan area.

To learn more and back their campaign, visit Keyachi’s Kickstarter campaign.

Danbury Couple Finds Healing in the Embrace of Furry Friend

DANBURY, CT—

DANBURY, CT—A Danbury couple who recently lost their special needs son has found healing in the warm embrace of a furry friend. Stephanie Lyons-Keeley and her husband, Wayne Keeley, are mourning the loss of Wayne’s 23-year-old son, Wyatt, who passed away from complications due to Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) just three days before Christmas last year. With the help of a special furry feline friend they named Luke, they’ve been able to find some comfort and joy.

“We adopted Luke in great part to help mitigate my grief after losing Wyatt,” Wayne said. “And also because we knew we had the love, time, and attention to give to a special needs cat,” Stephanie added.

Luke is a “Minskin”—1/4 Sphynx, 1/4 Devon Rex, 1/4 Munchkin, and 1/4 Burmese—a breed which is currently the process of being fully accepted into The International Cat Association (TICA). Paul McSorley began crossbreeding the four cats in Boston in 1998 with plans to develop a cat with the finest traits in all of them, Stephanie explained. “In Luke, he definitely succeeded,” she said.

Luke wears diapers and has limited use of his hind legs. He’s been diagnosed with spina bifida, but a veterinary specialist wants to rule out a mass, other spinal deformity, or a spinal infection. Lukee will need an MRI to confirm. The differently-abled designer kitty was previously named “Able” but is now named Luke, after Luke Skywalker.

“Wyatt was a fan of Star Wars,” Stephanie noted,”and one of his favorite shows in the months before his passing was The Mandalorian. We learned that Luke means ’bright, white, bringer of light’ and were amazed. That’s just what Wyatt was and what Luke is as well. They both brought an amazing light to our lives. Everywhere we’d go, when people met Wyatt, they were charmed by his vibrant smile and go-getter attitude. He was always up for anything. Now with Luke, it’s much the same! Perhaps Wyatt brought us to Luke. Wyatt is our guardian angel and Luke is our angel cat on Earth.”

The Danbury Animal Welfare Society (DAWS) has taken an interest in Luke.Dr. Brenner, the primary veterinarian, saw him free of charge for his initial vet care.

“All of the staff fell in love with him,” Stephanie said.

“It was our pleasure to be Luke’s first stop on the long medical journey ahead of him. Our mission at DAWS is dedicated to improving the lives of animals. Doctor Brenner and our veterinary team performed a complimentary exam for Luke as part of our “Paw It Forward” program. We do our best to support pet owners in our community facing challenges, such as the financial ones that are often associated with a special needs pet. We were touched by Luke’s story and are hopeful that he will continue to thrive with the love and care the Keeleys provide,” stated Alice Meenan, Director of Development and Marketing with DAWS.

The couple is embarking upon getting a definitive diagnosis for Luke as well as pursuing potential treatment which could include surgery and/or a wheelchair, among other things.

“We are seeing a highly respected veterinarian named Jason Berg at Guardian Veterinary Specialists in Brewster. We began a GoFundMe to help with those costs. The MRI alone with fees will be upwards of $4,000 and that’s without any treatment,” said Stephanie.

She is hoping to spread the word across her social media channels to help fund his treatment.

“Because of the attention he’s been getting, and due in part to the pandemic and being home so much, I also began pursuing my artistic side. I opened stores on Etsy, Threadless, and Amazonthat feature his photo prints and other merchandise which have been digitally and artistically enhanced. He’s so beautiful, easy going, a great cat model, and wears bow ties and other clothing, that people just can’t get enough of him!”

If you would like to contribute to Luke’s medical expenses, please visit the family’s GoFundMe page: https://gofund.me/fa2d8106

Follow Luke’s journey by visiting any of the social media profile pages below:

  • Instagram: @luke_able_minskin and @lightbringershop
  • Facebook: @lukeableminskin and @lukelightbringershop

Aspiring & Established Writers Are Invited To Westport Online Writing Workshops

WESTPORT, CT— While vaccines are rolling out to more age groups in Connecticut, many still find themselves quarantined and working from home. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only impacted the way we live but has also changed the way we learn. Students and adults alike have learned the ins and outs of Zoom which has been an important tool for students, employers, and other organizations.

The Westport Writers Workshop found the Zoom online platform to be invaluable in enabling them to continue their online learning workshops not only in Connecticut but across the nation.

Liz Matthews, Executive Director of Westport Writers Workshop said, “Now that our workshops are being offered remotely, we have writers joining us from all over the country. The writers benefit from a broader range of feedback, and we preserve the closeness of each group with a max of seven participants.”

Matthews, a writer, and editor began her professional career in publishing at a literary agency and as an Editorial Assistant at Random House before teaching middle and high school English at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn. A mom of two school-aged children, Matthews learned to adapt to juggling responsibilities of working from home, homeschooling her children, and running a nonprofit agency since the COVID-19 shutdown back in Mach of 2020.

Last spring Matthews shared that their swift decision to move to online classes and workshops was due to being located in a town with one of the highest numbers of Coronavirus cases in the state. She added that “rolling with the changes” was something they had to do for the sake of everyone’s health and sanity.

“Writing, like many, provides a creative escape in the crazy times we’re living in,” she said.

Since last spring’s launch of an online-only learning environment, they have added even more classes and workshops to cater to the needs of their current and soon-to-be attendees. Students range from beginning and aspiring writers to published authors. All are welcomed in a supportive environment that offers valuable feedback and positive critiques that have enabled their student to land literary agents, book deals, prestigious awards, and more.

“The class gave me material for further exploration! Also, my classmates were wonderful. It’s as though we all became friends through the class and it felt as though we were all in a non-virtual class together, fully participating.” -M.S. a student.

Since its inception in 2003, the Westport Writers Workshop has developed into one of the most highly respected programs in the area for writers of fiction, memoir, romance, playwriting, children’s literature, and much more. Through leadership and training from a stellar team of published, award-winning authors, students gain a deep understanding of the elements of writing and many go on to be published authors as well.

Spring 2021 Westport Writers Zoom Workshops offerings are as follows:

Memories Real & Imagined with Rahla Xenopoulos

· This workshop is designed for experienced, published authors as well as for novices who have a hidden story to excavate and tell. It is designed for people who have a flickering feeling that they might have a book hidden within but need to discover what that book is about, for people who have been sitting on a book but haven’t managed to start and so too it is designed for people who enjoy the therapy of creative writing. But, above all it is designed for people who yearn for a place of kindness. Bring pen, paper and an open heart. All people who identify as women are welcome.

· 7 Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

· March 30, April 6, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18

Workshop in Poetry, All Levels – Manuscript Course with Charles Rafferty

· This class is for students interested in learning about the genre from Charles Rafferty, a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. Each week, participants will share a poem, and the instructor will lead a discussion of the manuscript, highlighting what is working well and suggesting ways to improve it. As time allows, there may also be general discussions of craft and perhaps some in-class writing. The manuscript component of this course will be the following: each student may submit one poem in advance of each class to the instructor, for classroom discussion.

· 7 Tuesdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

· March 30, April 6, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18

Picture Book Writing 101 with Valerie Bolling

· Have you always wanted to write a picture book? Maybe you have a story idea but haven’t written it down yet. Perhaps you have a draft of a manuscript that you want to revise. No matter where you are in your writing journey, this course is specifically designed for you … if you want to WRITE A PICTURE BOOK! Plus… A special guest will visit one of our sessions! James McGowan, an agent at BookEnds Literary Agency, has generously offered to answer class participants’ questions about picture books and the publishing industry.

· 7 Tuesdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

· March 30, April 6, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18

Creative Writing for Kids with Christina Pakkala

· Join Christina Pakkala for an hour of writing fun! Yes, you heard right. Writing CAN be fun when the only rule is to let your imagination FLY. We’ll play some writing games, write some stories, poems, and whatever we feel like. For grades 3 through 5. Christine Pakkala is the author of six books for children, including a picture book, Chasing Ricky.

· 7 Wednesdays, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

· March 31, April 7, 21, 28, May 5, 12, 19

Young Adult Fiction with Mike Belanger

· This workshop deals with the nuts-and-bolts of writing young adult fiction. Throughout the workshop, the focus will be on different aspects of craft, including voice, setting, plot, and dialogue. Examples from current popular YA novels will be provided along with exercises to help hone your work in progress or inspire your new novel. Students will share their writing and receive feedback from other students and the instructor. This class is for adults writing novels in any genre (i.e. realistic fiction, fantasy, historical fiction) for young adult readers, and is suitable for all levels of writers.

· 7 Thursdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

· April 1, 8, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20

Register for a class by clicking here. To check if a class is full, call (203) 227-3250 or email exec@westportwriters.org.

All of the Westport Writers Workshop spring workshops offered on Zoom are open to writers of all skill levels. Visit their Zoom tutorial pages to learn more about how to use the platform or contact Liz Matthews Executive Director, Westport Writers’ Workshop at exec@westportwriters.org or (203) 227-3250.

About Westport Writers Workshop:

Since 2003, the Westport Writers’ Workshop has been offering workshops for every level of writer, from novice to published! Our instructors offer friendly, supportive writing workshops designed to encourage, inspire, and spark your imagination.

With over 100 workshops a year to choose from, we welcome writers of all skill levels and genres. Our workshops are designed to suit your schedule, with options in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. We also host several Saturday-only workshops and one-week writing-intensive programs throughout the year. You can learn more about our workshops by visiting our WORKSHOP page. Let Westport Writers’ Workshop help you discover and develop your own unique writing talent and voice.

Our Philosophy: You can expect a supportive group led by an experienced instructor. You’ll write, read, and learn from each other. Focus is always on the quality of the writing – not on the subject matter. Writing begets writing. The more you commit to your writing, to showing up for your writing group, the more you will write. By joining a community of writers, you will become a stronger writer and influence others to refine their craft. Our philosophy and practices are inspired by Amherst Writers & Artists and Pat Schneider’s book, Writing Alone and With Others.

Our Mission: The Westport Writers’ Workshop is an independent literary arts center offering enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public. Our organization also provides free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities.

Our History: In 2003, Jessica Bram founded Westport Writers’ Workshop. In 2010, Jessica moved the workshops into the second floor of the historic building on 3 Sylvan Rd. South in Westport. In 2013, Valerie Leff bought WWW and became the Director. In 2014, Valerie created a Board of Directors and transformed the business into a nonprofit with a mission to offer enriching, supportive creative writing classes, as well as literary readings to the local public, and free writing workshops to underserved populations in their own communities. In 2018, Michelle Bradley came on board as the Executive Director, and in summer 2019 when Michelle’s family was transferred to Chicago, Liz Matthews took over as the Director. In March of 2020 with the onset of COVID-19, the workshops transitioned to the Zoom platform and were offered remotely. The organization grew to include writers and instructors outside of our immediate community.

westportwriters.org

Photo credit: Westport Writers Workshop

“EGG” Your Friends This Easter with a Custom Lawn Sign Package or a Unique Gift Basket from Salutations Custom Greetings!

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, CT—A local mom has created a new business that’s geared towards helping children and families celebrate the holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions while still remaining socially distant. What started as ‘Veggie-Grams” this past summer, Advent deliveries for local church kids this past Christmas, as well as sympathy, birthday, get well, and general pick-me-up baskets had one entrepreneur thinking that this surprise greeting is a welcome idea during difficult times.

Salutations Custom Greetings was born out of the owner, Wendy Mitchell’s idea to bring her vegetable surplus to family and friends during the early months of the quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. It then turned into customized cards and gift baskets for her family who she could not visit due to lockdown, and packages for her friends and neighbors. This past month, Wendy she created a highly successful “You’ve Been SHAMROCKED!” fundraiser at a nonprofit where she volunteers and soon after decided to launch her own business.

The business is a women-owned, mother-daughter venture in which Wendy’s 20-year-old apprentice, Ruby Mitchell, helps with buying, packing, delivering, and shipping packages. Ruby said, “I’ve worked with my mom for the last few years with her kids events and I’m a creative person so this is something that’s fun for me to do. Plus aI can go to school [at WestConn] and help out with this when I have my free time. I think it’s a great idea and people really seem to like the baskets. We have ones for pet owners too!”

All food items are from U.S.A. Mom & Pop businesses whose quality and safety standards are second to none.

Salutations Custom Greetings, states on their social media pages that they are “Super EGG-cited” to bring their very FIRST lawn sign/gift basket offering to the local community….”You’ve Been EGGED!” is an Easter lawn sign package that brings the holiday spirit from your hearts to your loved ones’ homes.

Those who purchase the package(s) can surprise their kids, friends, teachers, a local hero, and/or loved ones with a colorful lawn decoration set that says, “You’ve Been EGGED!” The package includes a festive lawn sign with two egg smaller Easter signs, a dozen candy-filled eggs and a personalized poem. Additional offerings include a gourmet Easter candy basket with gourmet chocolate-peanut butter bunnies, chocolate-dipped Peeps, chocolate covered Oreos and more. Another option is a candy-free toys only basket that includes a mini sketch journal, colored pencils, bubbles, sidewalk chalk and a cute pink, purple, or blue stuffed bunny.

While Salutations Custom Greetings’ website is under construction, they’re asking you to HOP on over to their Eventbrite page to peruse their one-of-a-kind gifts and goodies. Order by clicking here before they’re all sold out!

QUESTIONS? Call, text, or email (203) 501-7424 SalutationsCustomGreetings@gmail.com.

Danbury Irish Cultural Center Plans Scaled-Down St. Patrick’s Day Plus 2 Fundraisers

DANBURY, CT—Almost a year since their last St. Patrick’s Day Parade and events were canceled due to COVID-19, the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Center​ (GDICC) has opened at limited capacity and is ramping back up with a smaller-scale, safety-conscious St. Patrick’s Day. This year’s normally month-long “most wonderful time of the year” for the Hibernians, will be held online via Facebook live stream and in-person with a limited number in attandance.​

In partnership with the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Foundation (GDICF), the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Center (GDICC) Board has planned an in-person and a live-stream St. Patrick’s Day with curbside pick-up and live music with limited attendance due to Covid safety regulations.  ​

In addition to the 2020 and 2021 parade cancellations, last year’s Danbury Irish Festival cancellation, and the nixing of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Ball all due to COVID, the Foundation and Fundraising Committee has come up with two unique fundraising activities to bring the spirit of the Emerald Isle from their hearts to your homes. 

The first of these is the Irish Breakfast Basket​ fundraiser. For just $40, the Irish Breakfast Basket (bag) includes one pound each of fresh, top-quality bacon, sausage, pudding, brown bread, and a selection of yummy products from the fine folks at Kerrygold USA. Order online here.​ The order deadline is March 8, 2021.  Order pickup is curbside at the GDICC, 6 Lake Ave. Danbury​ on Saturday, March 13 between 12 – 5 p.m. 

The second fundraiser is “You’ve Been SHAMROCKED​!” which is a fun way to decorate your front lawn or surprise your friends. For only $20, you can deck your lawn or nominate a health care worker, teacher, school employee, a local hero, and shamrock them as your way to say “THANK YOU” for their selfless service during Covid!​

Each lawn decorating package includes 1 lawn sign, 7 lucky shamrocks, 3 balloons* (colors of the Irish flag), ribbon, a “pot” of GOLD in the form of gold-foil-wrapped chocolates, and a poem. Order now through 3/17 (or until they sell out). Order online here​ or complete an order form at the GDICC – ask the bartender for a form. Checks for $20 are payable to “GDICF. Order pickup is curbside at the GDICC, 6 Lake Ave. Danbury​, ​on Saturday, March 5, and Sunday, March 6 between 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. 

Both fundraisers benefit the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. For more information, email DanburyIrish@gmail.com.

On St.Patrick’s Day, Wednesday, March 17th, corned beef will be available for take-out and curbside pick-up. Plans are still being finalized for in-person St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the club. For the most up-to-date information, check the GDICC’s Facebook page​.​​​

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee via Flickr Creative Commons

CLA Removes New Fairfield Dock That Played Host To Invasive Zebra Mussels

NEW FAIRFIELD, CT—The shoreline of Candlewood Lake in New Fairfield is one dock less after the Candlewood Lake Authority (CLA) removed it due to a harmful invader—zebra mussels.

These pesky creatures may look cool, but they can damage ecosystems by harming native species, according to Professor Pierce of the University of Wisconsin who stated, “In order for a zebra mussel to live, it must attach itself to a hard object. Not only do zebra mussels attach themselves to things like rocks, logs, and the hulls of ships, they also attach themselves to native species. Many native mollusk species are at risk of becoming extinct or endangered because of zebra mussels.” In addition, they can lower water quality and clarity.

The dock that was removed on Thursday, November 12 by the CLA, had about 6-12 live zebra mussels attached to it and were solitary mussels that were not yet forming colonies.

“This is the first time in over 8 years that this dock has been removed from the lake so we are unsure how long these mussels have been in the water, and when they attached to the dock,” a representative from the CLA said.

No other zebra mussels were found on neighboring docks and the CLA will continue to monitor the situation by combing the shoreline during the deep drawdown this winter.

The CLA is asking the public to clean, drain and dry their boats, kayaks and other nautical equipment before dropping them into the lake to help stop any potential invaders.

If you see any mussels that look similar to the one pictured, report the finding with a photo to science@candlewoodlakeauthority.org. Fore more information, visit the Candlewood Lake Authority online at candlewoodlakeauthority.org/invasivespecies.

Photo credit: Candlewood Lake Authority

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