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Top of The Mountain, from the issue dated March 1, 2013

Monroe Police Department Officers Todd Keeping and Mike Panza have been nominated for The Good Egg Award, and I say they fit the (duck) bill. Both officers are stationed at Sandy Hook School, located at Monroe’s Chalk Hill Middle School, and both have been supplying students with smiles by way of rubber ducks. As The Bee reported last month, it all started with a donation of 500 rubber ducks that the officers opted to place around the school for students to take. By last month money was raised to order 1,000 more ducks, and a Facebook page, The Ducks of Sandy Hook Elementary, began chronicling the ducky tale. Not only have the ducks been making students happy, they have also started venturing beyond the school’s borders. Photos on the Facebook page show ducks on vacation over the school’s break. The officers have also kept up the fun by occasionally unveiling new ducks. This week a white and green duck with a green ribbon on its chest was unveiled as a Sandy Hook Duck. Officers Keeping and Panza, I can’t say you look like ducks yourselves, but you certainly look like Good Eggs to me.

James Beard Award-winning Newtown blogger Elissa Altman has a new book ready to hit the shelves. Poor Man’s Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking will be released March 5, a little bird tells me, but if you go to amazon.com, you can preorder it right now. Tender, biting, witty, and humorous are just a few of the adjectives that come up in reviews of the book that tells of “finding sustenance and peace in a world of excess and inauthenticity.” My paw is on the “buy” button already.

The Newtowner Magazine, Newtown’s own arts and literary magazine, is looking for submissions of poetry, nonfiction, photography and art appropriate to a special issue dedicated to the people and places of Newtown. Editor Georgia Monaghan tells me that the tribute issue will be dedicated to the people of Newtown and offered as a healing gift to its residents. Newtowner editors would love to provide complimentary copies of the upcoming issue to at least every Sandy Hook Elementary School family, and every Newtown household, if possible. But to do so, they are seeking an individual or corporate sponsor to fund that goal. To submit a piece for the special edition, visit the Submissions page at the magazine's website, no later than March 6. If you believe you can sponsor the complimentary copies project, contact editor@thenewtownermagazine.com.

The 75-foot-long banner that had been hung from Housatonic Railroad overpass on Church Hill Road has been removed after weather took its toll on the large sign. “The eyelets were all ripped, the weather just took a toll on the banner and unfortunately it isn’t something that can be repaired,” Public Works Director Fred Hurley said Friday morning of gift from Tucson, Ariz. Drivers traveling east on Church Hill Road during the late afternoon hours of Thursday, February 21, began noticing that the banner had ripped its right-most eyelet. By 5 pm, two more eyelets had ripped, leaving the banner hanging closer to the roadway and creating a traffic hazard, so a Highway Department crew was dispatched to remove the banner from the bridge. The banner, a gift from Tucson that had been filled with thousands of signatures and messages for the residents of Newtown, had been hung from the bridge on Friday, January 11. It will now be put into storage along with other gifts the town has received since 12/14, says Fred.

Speaking of banners and such… Lynn Kovack in the Building Department is still hoping that three pieces, marked by Sandy Hook family members, and removed by others, will be returned. Still AWOL is the angel wing handprint quilt, a Charlie Brown and Snoopy quilt, and a picture of charcoal drawings of each of the 20 children who died 12/14 and principal Dawn Hochsprung. If you know the whereabouts of any of these pieces, please see that it is returned to Lynn, in the Building Department of our municipal center, or call her at 203-270-4260. The missing charcoal drawing was destined to go to Principal Hochsprung’s family, says Lynn, and she would love to see it in their hands.

I highly recommend visiting Facebook.com/hearts4Newtown, where you can view a special Shutterfly book facilitated by NHS grad and Newtown Schools substitute teacher Alyssa Schankman. “My first day working at Head O’ Meadow as a building substitute was on December 13, 2012. Having gone to Head O’ Meadow as a student and now working there as a teacher, I wanted to do something to help my town,” says Alyssa. “A photo book seemed like a great way to involve many people and create a tribute that could be revisited for years to come.” She received 285 submissions of photographs of hearts created by people from all over, which she has compiled into a book, with her original poems. Alyssa had hoped to have the book ready by Valentine’s Day, “but the success of the project was more important than the timeframe,” she decided. Shutterfly will donate one copy of the book to each of the 12/14 victims’ families, one copy to each school in Newtown, and one to Pat Llodra. A link to order a copy of the 52-page, 12x12 coffee table book can be found on the Facebook page, and Alyssa says that Shutterfly regularly has sales.

If you are a Newtown or Sandy Hook mother, Newtown Moms would like you to know about two upcoming meetings of the new group, Wednesday, March 6, and Saturday, March 23, in the meeting room of C.H. Booth Library, at 11 am. This group is geared toward a nonmonetary/fundraising means of collective community healing and fostering of the kindness, love, and compassion that defines Newtown, I’m told. Through community building activities and support of other groups — several of the moms attended the February 14 March For Change, for instance — they hope to provide another outlet for recovery. The group is open only to mothers, and only to Newtown or Sandy Hook residents. Proof of residency is required. For more information, contact amy.heller@charter.net.

NHS 2010 graduated Samantha Kent flew into Orlando last weekend from Miami University in Ohio, just so she could run the Disney Princess Half Marathon, wearing a special T-shirt in honor of the Sandy Hook 26. (Apparently, she was diverted from her run to pose with three Disney princes along the way, but managed to stay on track for a 2:59:26 finish on Sunday morning.) I believe Nicole Friedrich and Missy Ballard were flying by on magic wings, too, if I’m not mistaken, and rumor has it there were yet more Newtown princesses putting their hours of training to good use there, as well.

I’ll be entered into my own usual race to the deadline next week, but not before I collect plenty of news that’s sure to please you. So don’t forget to… Read me again.

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