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Lamont Joined In Sandy Hook By Local, State, And Federal Leaders To Recognize Small Businesses, Reopening Steps



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NOTE (Monday, March 22, 2021): This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Ardian Llomi's surname.

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State, federal, and local officials all convened in Sandy Hook Friday afternoon, March 19, where they celebrated the successful launch of a small business during a pandemic, another step for the state toward full reopening, and a national milestone that was reached ahead of schedule.

Governor Ned Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, and US Senator Richard Blumenthal were welcomed by Aquila’s Nest co-owners Neviana Zhgaba and Ardian Llomi for an afternoon press conference at their Sandy Hook vineyard. The event also highlighted local business partnerships that have already been formed since the opening of the Pole Bridge Road vineyard in October.

Zhgaba and Liomi also welcomed State Representatives Raghib Allie-Brennan and Mitch Bolinsky; David Lehman, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development; Bryan Hurlburt, commissioner, Connecticut Department of Agriculture; Rosemary Bove, industrial regional outreach manager, Connecticut Department of Tourism; Andrea Gartner, board member, Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut; Briggs Tobin, board chair, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation; and Charles Mallory, CEO and founder, Greenwich Hospitality Group.

The vineyard’s owners had a fire going in the wood stove inside the indoor visiting space and refreshments for their guests, as all arrived. Once all were inside, Zhgaba and Llomi offered a private behind-the-scenes tour of the working area of the vineyard. They then led the party outside, where additional friends and supporters were waiting for the press conference.

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal joked about the size of the gathering, saying “it looked like they brought the entire Hartford contingent here.”

Lamont noted that Aquila’s Vineyard was part of a large number of businesses that opened in the state last year.

“More new businesses started last year than in many previous years,” he said.

Many of the afternoon’s comments covered the joy of a new business opening, with most speakers noting that Zhgana and Llomi did so during a pandemic. The press conference was also held on the day that, as announced recently by the governor, restaurants and other food establishments were allowed to reopen to full capacity, provided they also maintain social distancing.

Blumenthal pointed out that the country has reached a milestone, in that 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations have been “put in people’s arms,” he said. President Joe Biden had set a goal of reaching that number by his 100th day in office. The goal was reached, Blumenthal pointed out, on Day 58.

“We are at the tip of the spear of making America safe,” the senator noted. “Today is very special.

“But I’ll also give you the blunt truth,” he added. “We have no reason to be complacent. We are in a race against time and further infections.”

Read the March 26, 2021 print edition of The Newtown Bee, and return to this website later in the week, for full coverage of the March 19 press conference.

Governor Ned Lamont makes a point during a Friday afternoon press conference at Aquila’s Nest Vineyard in Sandy Hook. Local, state, and federal officials all joined the event to mark another Reopen CT point of loosened guidelines, celebrate small businesses, and mark a national milestone in the fight against COVID-19. —Bee Photo, Hicks
Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, on the left, and Aquila’s Nest Vineyard co-owner Neviana Zhgaba talked about a display on view inside the vineyard’s visiting area called “Empowered Women Empower Women.” —Bee Photo, Hicks
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