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Attorney Anne Ragusa, Bee Publishing Company Named Businesses Of The Year



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Attorney Anne Ragusa, Bee Publishing Company

Named Businesses Of The Year

By Shannon Hicks

In a community that prides itself as still having something of a small-town feel even while it continues to go through growing pains in its home and business sectors, how does one decide which businesses are worthy of being called Newtown Business of the Year?

For the Chamber of Commerce of Newtown and Rotary Club of Newtown, the main criteria is to look at what a business does to support its community, not just its own growth and industry leadership.

So when it came time recently for the six-member Nominations Committee made up of members of the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce to sit down and analyze the nominations received for the 2008 awards, it was not an easy task. In the end it was Anne M. Ragusa, LLC — Attorney at Law who was named the 2008 Newtown Business of the Year (Small Company) and Bee Publishing Co., Inc, publisher of The Newtown Bee and Antiques and The Arts Weekly, that was named 2008 Newtown Business of the Year (Large Company).

“We received many nominations, and it was very difficult to narrow the choice down this year,” Rotary President Peter Giarratano said Monday night during a dinner event that was one of the few joint meetings Rotary and Chamber hold during the year.

Held at The Inn at Newtown, the March 31 dinner and award ceremony represented the fifth time the Rotary of Newtown and Chamber of Commerce honored businesses they deem the best in town.

“All of the nominated companies do wonderful things in the community, either financially, through volunteerism, or both,” Mr Giarratano said.

The Small Business category represents companies that employ 25 people or less. The second category covered companies operating with more than 25 employees. Before announcing the winners, Mr Giarratano read a partial list of companies that were nominated this year: Caldwell & Walsh Building Construction, Castle Hill Farm, The Fitness Loft, Franco’s Restaurant, Preferred Insurance, and Union Savings Bank.

First Selectman Joe Borst was then invited to the podium to make a few remarks, during which he recapped the first four months of his tenure at 45 Main Street. As Newtown gears up for a referendum later this month where residents are being asked to vote on both the town budget and a high school expansion resolution, Mr Borst did not tell anyone how to vote on Monday night; he simply reminded those in the room of their civic duty.

“I encourage you all to please review all the documentation, and please come out to vote, and encourage all your friends and neighbors to vote,” said Mr Borst.

Mr Clavette then announced the four finalists in the Smaller Business division — Bagel Delight, Berkshire Motors, Excel Tutoring, and Attorney Anne Ragusa — and asked that members of the nominating committee read brief lists of each company’s accomplishments before announcing Ms Ragusa as the winner of the category.

Pat Linnell introduced Ms Ragusa, who “has contributed to the town of Newtown in a variety of areas since she opened her private practice in 1994” and mentioned the “unending community support, integrity, professionalism, and zest for volunteerism” that were lauded in Ms Ragusa’s nomination.

Ms Ragusa’s volunteer contributions include being a member of the Chamber of Commerce for 15 years (during which time she has served as president, on the board of directors, as chairperson of the newsletter, and on the bylaws committee); being on the board of directors of The Children’s Adventure Center for eight years; being on the board of directors of The Newtown Fund for the past five years; currently serving as vice president of St Rose Church’s Home and School Association; and having formerly served as vice president for Working Women’s Forum (formerly BPW).

Her financial/pro bono contributions have benefited BMX Supercross, the annual Christmas Tree Lighting, Newtown Cub Scout Pack 570, Newtown High School Marching Band Grasso Festival, Newtown Youth Services, St Rose Church Carnival, and Newtown Tercentennial Committee.

The same format was following for the Large Business category, which in addition to Bee Publishing included McKenney Mechanical Contractors and People’s United Bank.

In introducing the credentials of Bee Publishing Co., Brian Amey said, “You could say they are one of Newtown’s institutions.” In addition to its day-to-day service to the community, said Mr Amey, “the company and its employees donate both time and funds” to a number of groups.

That list includes American Cancer Society through Relay For Life, American Heart Association through a fundraiser, Newtown Dog Pound, Newtown Lions Club, Newtown Meals on Wheels, Newtown Parent Connection, Newtown Soccer Club, Newtown Social Services, Newtown Youth & Family Services through the NYFS benefit road race, Salute American Heroes, Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard, Soldiers Angels, and Special Olympics of Connecticut.

“In addition,” said Mr Amey, “they help both the Newtown Labor Day Parade and the Newtown Rotary Club with pro bono activity, they sponsor the annual Newtown Sportsman Award, and they donated and maintain The Pleasance, their biggest gift to the town.”

In the week preceding Monday’s announcement (nominations were due March 21), the recommendations were reviewed by an awards committee that included Chamber President Peter Giarratano of P&M Consulting, and Chamber members Robert Attanasio of Cartridge World and Pat Linnell of Keller Williams Realty; and Rotary members Mike Snyder of Allstate Insurance, Alan Clavette of Clavette Josselyn & Co. LLC, and Mr Amey of Newtown Savings Bank.

“Most of us are actually in both groups, but we represented one or the other so that it was three from Rotary and three from Chamber while serving on this committee,” Mr Clavette said this week.

In addition to receiving a plaque, the two winning companies have been invited to make a donation of up to $100 to a charity or organization of their choice, which will be matched by Rotary.

Last year, My Place Restaurant was named Business of the Year (Small Company), and The Taunton Press was winner of the Large Company division. Previous Businesses of the Year have also included Avancé Esthétiques Day Spa and Ashlar of Newtown (2006), Drug Center Pharmacy and Curtis Packaging (2005), and Dr Henry Gellert and Newtown Savings Bank (2004, the inaugural year of the award).

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