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The Top Of The Mountain



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Even old cats can get a little hyped up as the National Football League (NFL) Playoffs begin this weekend with teams vying for a shot at the Super Bowl. But it is the hype that is most exciting this year because the NFL is using a quick video clip of Newtown High School’s Riley Ward celebrating the NHS Football Team’s state title clinching touchdown during a montage of images promoting the playoffs. If you access the video at twitter.com/i/status/1211625585086205953 — the brief but thrilling Riley/NHS clip can be seen at about the 43 second mark of the one minute promo.

Members of the Newtown Senior Center’s Knitting/Crochet group surprised longtime volunteer Jane Sturgis during their holiday gathering with a sweatshirt sporting three Dachshunds in sweaters. It was a very Merry Christmas for the dog lover, and she happily donned the new apparel right away.

In case you missed the notice last week, please remember that the Transfer Station has notified the public of changes to recycling pick up due to the New Year’s Day holiday. If your recycling is usually picked up Thursday, it will be picked up Friday, January 3. Usual Friday recycling will be picked up Saturday, January 4.

Marjorie Carmody called to say she recognized three girls in the December 20 Way We Were photo — a group of men and women dressed in suits and ball gowns. The people she recognizes are from different Newtown High School graduating classes, however, which makes her think the event was not a school function, but possibly something held by a church. A sliver of a decorated Christmas tree is visible, which is a clue that this was a holiday party. Ms Carmody said Joan McLennan, class of 1954, is far left; Carol Janson, with the class of 1954, is in the back row; and the last girl on the right from the class of 1953 is Cynthia Eaton.

With the holidays in the rear view mirror, the undecorated carcasses of Christmas trees will soon be hauled away. There are a couple of options in town, though, for disposing of your tree that can help our environment.

Candlewood Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Pootatuck Watershed Association invite the public to drop off Christmas trees at the Deep Brook kiosk, off Old Farm Road, behind the Newtown Park & Bark, this Saturday, January 4, from 9 am to 1 pm. There is a suggested donation of $10 for the drop-off. The tired Christmas trees will have new life in helping stabilize streambanks, reduce erosion, and create refuge habitat.

The trout organization gets some additional help from Boy Scouts from Troop 270, who will be available to pick up Christmas trees from Newtown and Sandy Hook residences for three weekends, starting on January 4. Sign up for tree pick-up on the Facebook page for troop270newtownchristmastreepickup (tinyurl.com/vakjhlx), or access the online request form directly at tinyurl.com/yx2yrv9f. The Scouts request a $10 donation for the service. E-mail troop270trees@gmail.com for more information.

Newtown Congregational Church is hosting a fundraiser to benefit the Resiliency Center of Newtown, this Friday, January 3, from 7 to 10 pm, at Reverie Brewing Company on Church Hill Road. The public is encouraged to attend — raffle tickets will be sold by the church to support its missions. The first prize is your choice of a trip to Cancun; or a trip to Sonoma and Napa Valley; or a trip to Lake Tahoe, plus a $250 gift card for travel expenses. Second prize is a gift certificate for two to the Westchester Dinner Theatre in Elmsford, N.Y. The third prize is a $100 gift certificate to Cafe on the Green in Danbury. Tickets are $20 each, and the drawing is Saturday, January 11, at 8 pm, at the Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street. To purchase tickets or for more information, contact the Newtown Congregational Church at 203-426-9024 or call Marie at 203-740-2733.

Keep in mind that holidays and winter mean extra demands on the need for blood. The Newtown Lions will host an American Red Cross blood drive, Tuesday, January 7, from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm, at the Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street. You can schedule your appointment at redcrossblood.org, or walk-ins are welcome any time. Donors must be at least 18 years old, in good health, and weigh no less than 110 pounds. Call 800-733-2767 if you need further information.

What’s more fun than a brisk morning walk in winter to learn about the plethora of beautiful birds in our area? The Bent of the River Audubon Center, 185 East Flat Hill Road in Southbury, has Saturday birding hikes scheduled, starting with one on January 4, from 8 to 10 am; then on January 11, also 8 am to 10 am, and a special “Let’s Go Birding Together” (LGBT friendly) on January 18. The final January bird hike is scheduled for 8 to 10 am, January 25. There is a $5 per person fee for each hike, and preregistration is requested by e-mailing kathleen.pratt@audubon.org or calling 203-405-9113. Sounds like a pretty “tweet” way to start the new year.

If bigger birds are what you seek, remember that the Shepaug Dam Bald Eagle Observation Area in Southbury is open to the public, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 9 am to 1 pm, til March 8. Operated by FirstLight, spotting scopes and binoculars are available at the 2225 River Road site. Registration is required and can be done so through the Facebook page Shepaug Dam Bald Eagles.

Curled up on a windowsill to watch the Birdie Show at the bird feeder is a cat’s delight. But wait... what’s that under the feeder? A rat? A mouse? Yup, these little critters love bird seed as much, if not more, than the chickadees and cardinals that flock to the backyard feeders. Since they are usually not such welcome guests, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of providing a seed mix with little shell waste, and to be sure and sweep or shovel up all of the seed that is tossed to the ground on a daily basis. Bird feeders hung from a branch will not be safe from rodents (that includes squirrels!) as these acrobatic creatures can leap several feet and are experts at shinnying along branches. Hang a bird feeder, at least 4-5 feet off the ground, from a freestanding pole. Rats can spread disease to birds and will be tempted to enter your snug home or garage if they become regular visitors. A few minutes of yardkeeping means a healthier, happier bird watching experience for all.

I have to wonder if the years of ice skating and hockey on Hawley Pond ( along with the warnings not to skate there...) are a thing of the past for holiday breaks from school. Kids certainly had no chance to put any new skates to the test in Ram Pasture these past couple of weeks, as warm and rainy (where’s the snow?!) weather kept the pond ice free for the most part. Just the Canada geese seemed to be content with the open water. Maybe next month will bring real winter weather?

(And yes, there was thunder and lightning this past Monday afternoon. An interesting way to end the year!)

The moment you’ve all been waiting for! We have the winners of The Bee Abroad Contest! One winner has been selected for having traveled the furthest number of miles from Newtown ($100 prize); one has been selected for having traveled the furthest north ($50 prize), and one has been selected for having traveled the furthest south ($50 prize) from this town in 2019 — all with copies of The Newtown Bee in hand, naturally. It was a very close call in a couple of cases, let me say! Winners will be announced in the January 10, 2020, issue of the paper, so keep yours eyes peeled.

My eyes (and ears) are always wide open, on the lookout for the news that you like to know. Be sure next week to... Read me again.

The Knitting/Crochet group at Newtown Senior Center surprised Jane Sturgis with a special sweatshirt.
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