The Top of the Mountain

Get out your flags, slice the watermelon, and fire up the grill — the Fourth of July is just over the horizon. And as exciting as fireworks can be, the Connecticut Department of Safety reminds us that the only legal fireworks items in Connecticut are sparklers. Even the popular novelty items such as party poppers, snakes, smoke devices, and other things that emit a flame are not legal for private use in Connecticut. So have fun, and be safe, not sorry.

The local grassroots group Newtown Action Alliance reminds us that “Asking Saves Kids.” Although the national day, June 21, is a week in the past, summer vacation is still just under way. “Asking Saves Kids” is meant to remind caregivers, at a time when their kids are likely have many play dates, to remember to always ask (in a friendly, nonjudgmental way and entirely in the spirit of wanting to do everything to keep kids safe) that if there happens to be a gun in the home where the play date will occur, whether the gun is locked up and ammunition is stored in a separate location. Just like you would ask about food allergies, pool safety, bike helmets, car safety belts, etc, remember to ask about gun storage. See this link for tips on how to pose that awkward question: www.cpyv.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/ASK-Community-Guide-2013-Fact-Sheet-Tips.pdf.

The National Teachers Hall of Fame has announced an effort to build a Memorial To Fallen Educators on the Emporia State University in Emporia, Kan. The names of educators who have sacrificed their lives protecting children from gun violence and mental illness will be inscribed on a black granite monument. The monument will be located next to a historic, one-room schoolhouse on the campus. Included on the memorial will be the names of Sandy Hook Elementary School staff members who perished 12/14, Rachel D’Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, and Victoria Soto. A groundbreaking ceremony took place June 13, and a dedication ceremony is expected to take place in August, according to Education Week blogger John Wilson.

Scott Bouchard found some young summer entrepreneurs in his Quarry Ridge neighborhood. Forgoing the usual lemonade stand, four girls have started their own door-to-door car washing service, business cards and all. “Their slogan, which is sung at the end of every wash,” says Scott is “When you come to return your car, it will be the cleanest by far!” Their melody reeled in Scott, and here’s a picture of his clean car, to prove it:  Pictured from left are the hard workers, Amanda Conrod, Faith O’Hara, Kaylee Timmons, and McKenna Timmons. The girls offer the car washes for free, but encourage donations. Kaylee and McKenna’s mom, Rhonda, says the hard work has raised $65 so far, all of which will go to support Sandy Hook, in some manner.

Sally and Kevin Ingwersen live in the Charter Ridge neighborhood of Sandy Hook. Kevin was chatting on the phone in the home office one day last week, when a bobcat strolled through the backyard. The window was open, and Kevin thinks this noise caught the attention of the bobcat, which paused and posed for this photo.  Kevin alerted Sally (I’m imagining, in a uberexcited manner) and she got a peek at the wild kitty, too. The bobcat didn’t linger, Sally says, but continued to stroll to the opposite side of the yard and back into the woods. “A few weeks ago we had a sighting of what we thought was a bobcat in our backyard, but that cat was not close enough for us to be sure of what we had seen,” Sally tells us. This time it was very clear!

Nine possible therapy dogs were born into the world last weekend. On Friday, June 21, Newtown Strong Therapy Dog Moxie, a beautiful golden retriever, gave birth to six female and three male puppies. All are doing very well, we hear. Meanwhile, Moxie’s mother, Libby, also had another litter last week. On Wednesday, June 19, Libby gave birth to five girls and two boys... more future therapy dogs.

If you are a Newtown artist or artistic organization and have not yet applied for the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission $1,000 project grant, it’s not too late. Eligible artists must be at least 18 years old and a resident of Newtown. Arts organizations must be a Newtown arts organization and serve the community of Newtown. Complete applications and supporting documentation must be postmarked no later than July 1. Access the full application and requirements at www.newtownartscommission.org. The NCAC will announce the grant awardees by letter, on its website, and in a press release on or before August 1. Winners of the grant will receive their award no later than August 31. This grant is possible due to proceeds of the 2012 Newtown Arts Festival.

There will be workshops and information for fiction and nonfiction writers alike at the Ridgefield Writers Conference, Saturday, September 28. Not only that, Newtown residents Chris Belden and Carol Ann Davis will be among the presenters at the all-day conference, at St Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Ridgefield. There’s more good news: the June 1 early bird registration, $125, has been extended to June 31. Regular registration, $150, is due by August 1. Acceptance is based on when registrations are received and writing samples accompanying the registration. For a registration form and information, go to www.adeleannesi.com/Ridgefield-Writers-Conference.html. Questions can be directed to Adele Annesi at Word for Words, LLC, a.annesi@sbcglobal.net, or by calling 203-894-1908. Write on!

It looks to me like the next writing workshop presenter is in the making, in our Newtown school system. Rising eighth grader Jermane Anyoha has published a book, The Power of Zeal: Dawn of a New Age, which is available for purchase at www.amazon.com or at www.barnesandnoble.com. The paperback sells for $14.05, and was printed by Outskirts Press. The description of the book reads, “The three races of Jupiter are at war. The Eyebots, who believe they are the dominant race, have come out of the shadows with a new threat. For decades on Saturn, this prideful race has been crafting a new type of power to trump all others. After years of division among the world caused by the See-throughs who originally overpowered them, the Eyebots will stop at nothing to destroy all other life on Jupiter. In determination to conquer this new challenge but without the experience to do so, the youngest fighters of the See-through race are forced to embark on a fantastic and treacherous quest for power.” Jermane says, “It’s about 220 pages, and I’m working on my next book.” Pretty impressive, I say!

And here’s news about writers making a difference: The “Authors for Catherine’s Dream” signed-book online auction, to honor Catherine Violet Hubbard, raised $3,867.50. Six-year-old Catherine, a huge animal lover, died 12/14. All of the money, every penny of it, will go to The Animal Center in Newtown, to help realize Catherine’s dream of an animal sanctuary for homeless animals. (See the stories “Animal Sanctuary Will Make Catherine Hubbard’s Dream A Reality” in the February 1 issue of The Newtown Bee, or “Authors Honor 12/14 Victim, Animal Advocate With Online Auction,” June 7, for more information.)

 “Write” or wrong, I’ll have more words of wisdom to share next week, if you… Read me again.

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