THE ANNUAL REVIEW OF THE HAMPTON GAZETTE
MAY 2016 – MAY 2017
The Gazette annually reviews our coverage of what transpired in town every year – events we covered, decisions made, people’s opinions of them, the folks we recognized for their accomplishments in a given month, or a lifetime — a chronicle of change and constancy.
One difference for us last year was the introduction of new businesses in our commercial zone. Officials approved the operation of a photovoltaic energy generating facility on 40 acres along Route 6, and the Planning and Zoning Commission expanded approval of Patel’s Package Store to include a convenience store and gas station, a process which required a change in the zoning regulations.
Both businesses will generate substantial tax revenue for the town. We also welcomed a new market, Elm Pine Farm, last summer.
It was “business as usual” with municipal matters. Along with notices from Town Offices and the First Selectman’s monthly article, we reported on five Town meetings, school and municipal budgets, and the resignations of Administrative Assistant Valerie Imre and Martha Fraenkel, who served as the Zoning Enforcement Agent for over twenty years.
We also reported on the resignations of Hampton Elementary School Superintendent Connie Berglund, Principal Andrea Lavery, and first grade teacher of 42 years, Karen Nass, and our front page featured the parade on Main Street for Phyllis Stensland, the school’s first paraprofessional, who retired after nearly 50 years.
The future of the regional district remains unresolved, and we reported on the results of the district vote and the district survey regarding the direction residents want to consider in educating the region’s students. School board members established a committee to study full regionalization of the district, and tri-town residents voted to study district dissolution, the two committees’ recommendations expected in the coming months.
Aside from complaints raised over the RD11 Superintendent’s compensation, there weren’t many controversies surrounding the schools this year, with votes focused on directions rather than decisions. There were, however, issues raised on the process, and we reported on a complaint filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission against several officials during the vote to study district dissolution, and the dismissal of another filed against a former Registrar of Voters.
The major controversy involved the possibility of siting a State Police gun range and training facility in town, which met with resistance at an informational meeting and from a political action committee, “No Gun Range Hampton”, that caused the owners of the proposed site to withdraw their property from consideration. Opposition to the gun range was among the eight editorials penned this year, significantly less than other years. In fact, most of the letters we published were submitted by 2nd graders who wrote to their principal with suggestions for school improvements such as underground water slides and dirt bike trails.
We laughed a little more frequently this year thanks to Auntie Mac, with her sage advice on navigating romance and the town, Cindy Bezanson, whose tales of her chickens have us falling in love with them, and Angela Fichter, a new member to our community and newspaper who supplied us with humorous articles such as “Rockefeller Christmas” and “Flower Police”. We welcomed Angela to our editorial board, and Mary Oliver to production, and accepted with regret the resignations of Diane Meade, Michael Quick, and Brian Tracy.
We celebrated the lives of too many who left us this year; and we celebrated the accomplishments of our youth — students from area high schools who earned academic distinction and recognition in the arts. We featured inventor Ethan Diani on our front page, an elementary school student who was selected to compete in the National Invention Convention in Washington D. C. with his “Buoy Buddy”, a floating device for cochlear implants of hearing impaired swimmers, and we shared the accomplishments, and the adventures, of the boy scouts.
We began 2017 recognizing Margaret and Harold Haraghey as the Citizens of the Year for their many contributions to the town and community. We also started the year with an article detailing the complexities of running a newspaper in the hopes of stirring interest in assisting us, and a “new look” with pictorial covers and more of Pete Vertefeuille’s photographs which chronicled the town’s events and captured its natural beauty. The many poems submitted also contribute artistry to our paper, and we encourage you to continue to send them to us.
While travelers apprised us of their trips – to northern climes this year – Canada and Alaska – articles from our nature preserves reminded us of excursions in our own back yards: Joshua’s Trust, Goodwin Conservation Center, and Trailwood, while monthly excerpts from Teale’s A Walk through the Year, and Jamie Boss’s “Light on Hampton” exalted the natural splendor of our environs, and Marcia Kilpatrick’s Green Thumbs and the garden column continued to offer eco-friendly and aesthetic advice.
Our historian, Jean Wierzbinski, provided us with articles on our past, “Pirates in Hampton” and the “Unsolved Mysteries of the Prentis Family”, and preserved on our pages the “Random Recollections” of Alison Davis, Leila Ostby and Peggy Fox in a program instituted by the historical society that records the memories of long-time residents. Our own series, Those Who Serve, a monthly column honoring our veterans, also supplied us with history lessons. We featured residents who served in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Greenland, Germany, Pearl Harbor, and Vietnam during the war there and in Korea, World War II, and the Cold War, and reported on a presentation by a veteran who served in a division that liberated a concentration camp, and a woman who survived several.
One of our Vietnam veterans, Selectman Bob Grindle, delivered the Memorial Day speech published in its entirety on our front page. As always, many local organizations came together to contribute to our collective commemoration, as well as hosting ten events in the Quiet Corner’s Walktober, and the town’s first annual Fall Festival, sponsored primarily by the Fletcher Memorial Library, which introduced us to Janice Trecker’s latest novel, and held holiday and monthly events. Our town organizations kept us apprised of their activities: the Seniors’ luncheons, the Historical Society’s programs, the Recreation Commission’s entertainment. And the Gazette initiated “The Gathering Place”, which provided a venue through the colder months to come together to listen to music, play games, and visit with our neighbors, who never fail to remind us of why we love living in Hampton.