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We have news here at the Bee! Go figure. Our website quietly added a new offering last week, when the Newsstands button at the top of our home page went live! Truthfully, we’d been working on creating a page for readers who want to find out where to buy copies of The Newtown Bee from a local vendor. We currently have 19 places where you can buy this paper, including two in Woodbury and even one in Hamden! Our thanks to Don Thomson, whose recent note asking about having that option gave us the nudge we needed to finish the project. If you’d like to go directly to the new page, which includes an address and map for each location, head to newtownbee.com/newsstands/

A few groups in town are again spearheading efforts to collect and distribute valentines for local veterans and servicepeople. Newtown Youth & Family Services (NYFS) is inviting readers to show appreciation to these hometown heroes by making and dropping off a Thank You card/valentine before the end of the month. Last year, members of the NYFS community — including Newtown Fusion, New Milford Girl Scout Troop 40037, customers at Rosalind Road, and children from The Burnham School in Bridgewater — created and donated more than 200 letters for the effort. This year’s valentines should be dropped off at NYFS, 15 Berkshire Road, by February 1. The office is open Monday through Thursday, 9 am-8 pm; Friday, 9 am-5 pm; and Saturday, 8 am-1 pm. If you have any questions, contact Madison at NYFS at MMcColl@newtownyouthandfamilyservices.org or 203-270-4335.

Next up is a group effort. The Newtown chapter of Hearts of Hope is again working with American Legion Post 202 to paint ceramic hearts for three military units — one Army and two Navy. Organizers are hoping to have a heart painted for everyone in these units, which means at least 300 unique creations. A Paint With a Purpose event is planned for Wednesday, January 24, at 6 pm, at Newtown Community Center. There is no fee but reservations are requested so that enough supplies will be available for everyone who wants to participate. See our calendar, in print or online, for details or send a note to Ivy Pearson at ivy@ourheartsofhope.org.

(Read more here: Hearts Of Hope-American Legion Paint With A Purpose Event Planned)

A new book club is forming for women age 60-plus. Maggi Heilweil will host the new endeavor, which will meet on the first Tuesday of each month, beginning February 6, at 7 pm. The location and book selection for the first meeting will be given as people sign up. Booth Library will have copies of the books to borrow when possible. Titles will be chosen by the members of the group. If you’re interested, contact Maggi at maggih136@gmail.com.

A few hockey games with very local interest are scheduled this Saturday afternoon in Storrs. There’s the annual match between the Newtown/New Fairfield Nighthawks and E.O. Smith/Tolland Bucks at Toscano Arena on the UConn Storrs Campus at 5:25 pm. Additionally, the Newtown Police and UConn Police will lace up their skates to face off against each other during the intermissions, playing The 4th Annual Bender Classic. The officers participating are either new to hockey, haven’t been on ice in a decade or more — or were returning after a long break, which was the case when this event debuted in 2021 with Newtown PD Officer William Chapman and Newtown High School Athletic Director Matt Memoli facing each other. Chapman won that event, as well as the 2022 title when he faced fellow NPD Officer Matt Hayes, who took to the ice in place of an injured Memoli. The Bender Classic moved to Storrs last year, with the university police putting forward a team that took on Chapman, Hayes and fellow NPD Officer Pete Wlasuk. Newtown came home with the win. While the teams and locations have shifted since the event’s launch, the original goal has not. The Bender Classic remains a fundraiser for Special Olympics CT. The goal this year is $20,000, and advance efforts as of midday Wednesday already raised over $12,000. Admission on Saturday is free, with donations requested for SOCT. Attendees will also have the opportunity to win a team-signed jersey from the Boston Bruins. If you can’t make it to the game in person, online donations can be made through benderclassichockey.com.

It was nice to see John Reed and Herb Rosenthal walk through the front door of our office last Friday afternoon. The two longtime Main Street residents were out on separate walks, merged their efforts, and then took a detour, just to say Hello, they told us. Rumor had it they were heading back toward Main Street to start some trouble after they departed 5 Church Hill Road.

It was a rough week for many local drivers, after many were surprised by slippery road conditions. Two rollovers were reported on South Main Street near Abbey Lane within minutes of each other last Friday morning, both due to ice. Two crashes, including another rollover, happened early Sunday morning, at least one more happened Tuesday morning during the morning storm, and then another happened on Berkshire Road Wednesday. Be careful out there my friends.

I’d like to think everyone is careful all the time, but I know you aren’t. I watched at least two private snowplows pull out of driveways Tuesday morning, right in front of other cars that were traveling along, and heard something about a third plow later that morning that was so disappointing. It seems a Town plow was working along Hattertown Road when it encountered someone plowing snow out from a driveway, across the road. Not only did the private plow driver do that, but when the Town employee asked the driver to stop doing that, they said No! You know there’s a local ordinance against that, don’t you? No one is supposed to plow or even shovel or blow snow across any roads in town. That bad habit can create snow berms, and those are dangerous, especially when they freeze up and create an unexpected bump. Private snowplow drivers and homeowners are legally liable when snow is plowed onto roadways.

State law also says drivers must remove ice or snow from vehicles before operating them. If you get stopped with snow and ice still on your vehicle it can result in a $75 fine. If ice or snow goes from your vehicle and causes damage to another vehicle, or a crash, you can be fined between $200 and $1,000 if you’re driving a personal vehicle. If you’re driving a commercial vehicle, those fines increase to $500-$1,200. That’s a lot of kibble!

One more winter reminder from me this week: A town ordinance prohibits parking on town and state roads between November 15 and March 15. If those vehicles create an issue for plows, they can be towed. Conversely, property owners with sidewalks on their property do have a responsibility to clear those walkways when they are used by the public.

Even though cats are not so sure about owls, this has a nice ring to it: Catching up with 2021 Newtown High School graduate Shaine Luzietti, the long pole defender attended a January 13 ring ceremony at Mountain Branch Golf Club in Joppa, Md., where his college lacrosse team was honored for capturing the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Championship last spring. Shaine competed for the Harford Community College (Bel Air, Md.) Fighting Owls who defeated the two-time reigning champions Nassau 13-8 on their home turf for the title in May. This capped off an unbeaten season which included a regional title. Shaine was an NJCAA Academic All-American, earned All-Region recognition, and was named to the All-Tournament Team. He played Division I lacrosse at Marist his freshman year before transferring to Harford. He was on the Dean’s List in each of his first two years in college. Shaine now attends Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., and is majoring in business. Aaron Verardi, Shaine’s coach at Harford, said the NHS graduate was “a tremendous leader on our National Championship Team. He is a great competitor and was one of the smartest defensive players I have ever coached. He is also an awesome person and I am lucky to have had a small role in his life. I know he will be very successful in whatever he does.” With strong passion for the game of lacrosse, Shaine stays involved with the sport throughout the offseason. He coached a youth travel team this past summer.

It’s been an interesting week in Newtown. I hope you’re enjoying the changing weather, staying warm and safe, and planning to come back next week to … read me again.

Shaine Luzietti attended a January 13 ring ceremony at Mountain Branch Golf Club in Joppa, Md., where he and his college lacrosse team was honored for capturing the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship last spring. —photo courtesy Liz Luzietti
Newtown news and notes, told from the point of view of a cat named Mountain.
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