Ben’s Bells Project Founder and Executive Director Jeannette Maré arrived in Newtown Friday, August 1, to visit the Ben’s Bells Newtown studio on Church Hill Road. She was also a participant on Saturday at the 2014 Kindness Conference: Building the Science of Kindness Together, held at Walnut Tree Hill Church in Bethel. “One of the main reasons for the visit was not only for the conference and Kindness Education Program, but to see the new studio [located on Church Hill Road],” Ms Maré said Friday afternoon. “It’s really, really exciting to see the studio in working order, it’s sort of overwhelming! It’s really cool to see all this progress and kindness come from the community. There’s so much positive energy and it’s great to see that happening.”
Seated at the desk in the Library Director’s office — a space she is not yet comfortable calling her own — Brenda McKinley moves aside a small desktop plaque inscribed with a Robert Browning quote: “The best is yet to be.” The gift from the Board of Trustees of the C.H. Booth Library speaks to the confidence placed in the woman chosen as the newest leader of the town's library.
Sarah LeMien and Travis Dean will not arrive at First Church of Christ in Redding in a horse-drawn carriage on August 9, nor will they arrive on horseback, Ms LeMien has decided. “It’s hard enough planning a wedding, without throwing in horses,” she exclaimed.
But without throwing in horses, there might not be a wedding in the works, she admitted.
It was a brief ad in the “Late Classified” section of The Newtown Bee that caught the eye of the Sandy Hook resident one September day in 2012: “I have two aged geldings — and I am looking for an experienced rider to trail ride with. Once or twice during the week early morning (be at my barn by 7 am; home by 9 am). Maybe a Saturday or Sunday when my daughter isn’t around. I’m on Easton-Redding border…” Sarah had no idea in answering the second ad, placed by Cindy Dean, that she had put her life on a whole new trajectory.
Realizing the success of any theatrical production rests largely on the shoulders of its director is something that weighs heavily on Director Michael Unger, who first arrived in Newtown last year during the fragile months following the Sandy Hook School tragedy to help creative partner and 12.14 Foundation Founder Michael Baroody initiate a “healing through the arts” initiative. That meeting resulted in the smash success that was last summer’s "Seussical the Musical." The pair have again surrounded themselves with a combination of very dedicated professionals who have staffed some of the world’s most celebrated theatrical productions to present a pair of premieres this month: "A Rockin' Midsummer Night's Dream," which opened last; and "101 Dalmatians: The Musicals," which opens on August 6.
About 250 people turned out on the morning of Saturday, July 26, at Dickinson Park off Elm Drive for the dedication ceremonies of FunSpace II, the town’s elaborate new playground that replaces the FunSpace playground there, which was demolished last year. Although the new playground was dedicated on July 26, the facility was not completely built, with some construction remaining to be done, so the playground has not yet opened to the public. Parks and Recreation officials said this week they expect FunSpace II to open to the public, weather permitting, sometime during the week of August 4. The opening date for the playground will be announced. Dickinson Park itself is open for public use.
There was a time when the center of Newtown was mostly farmland and empty lots. Trees shaded grassy plots and tourist homes populated Church Hill Road. Grocery shopping meant a trip to Danbury or Southbury. Traffic passed leisurely up Queen Street, with no full-service banks or restaurants to lure drivers away from the route. At the age of 95, George William Wheeler can be forgiven if precise dates and places are not easily retrieved. But in his reminisces with The Newtown Bee, and through the stories shared with his children, Linda Wheeler, Darleen Wheeler, and Bryant Wheeler, he is able to recreate a scene of bygone days in Newtown and the role he played in, literally and figuratively, shaping the more modern town center of today.
All that remained of the historic Fredericka House on Friday, July 25, was a pile of concrete and bent pipes heaped next to a giant industrial screener in the Newtown United Methodist Church parking lot. Darin and David Renihan of Site Services in Danbury stood nearby, surveying the packed surface where the house had once stood. It has been many years since Fredericka House opened its doors onto Church Hill Road. Built around 1810 by one of the early Sanford family members, it was given to Elizabeth C. Sanford upon her marriage to Edmond Trowbridge Hastings Gibson, a New York broker, by her brother, David Sanford, in 1842. The house continued to make its presence known, though, for many years. When Fredericka House was demolished, its wood, lathe, plaster and foundation were allowed to collapse into the basement. Each spring, the church community has found itself paying to fill in sinkholes that occur as the debris continued to decompose and settle.