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Cats and dogs don’t always play well together, but when one goes down, we all want to take care of each other. Last week Newtown Police K9 Aris suffered a life-threatening emergency while preparing for a training day. His handler, K9 Officer Felicia Figol, quickly transported him to Newtown Veterinary Specialists where Aris received emergency surgery for gastric dilation and volvulus, a condition found in large chested dogs where their stomach becomes twisted. This condition causes bloating and can cause eventual disintegration of stomach tissue and decay of other organs. It is often fatal for dogs in less than an hour and can be extremely painful for the animal. It sounds terrifying! Fortunately, the staff at NVS performed life-saving surgery, and Aris is now more than midway through the two-week recovery period he needs to take before he can return to full-time patrol work. I also know from experience that convalescing can get boring. If you’d like to join me in perking up the spirits of my canine friend, cards and letters can be sent to Officer Figol and K9 Aris c/o Newtown Police Department, 191 South Main Street, Newtown CT 06470. Officer Figol has promised, according to a post last week on the PD’s Facebook page, to read to Aris every letter sent to him.

The Police Department does have a K9 program fund to support the non-budgeted items in its K9 program. If you’d like to make a donation to this fund to support K9 Aris’s surgical expenses and recovery contact the PD Records Division to donate by phone (203-426-8541), or make checks payable to Town of Newtown, with Police K-9 Fund in the memo line, and send them to same address above.

We had another surprise visitor in our office this week. Two weeks ago it was Judd Schollin, a distant cousin of Co-Publisher Sherri Smith Baggett, with his family in tow. This Tuesday morning it was John “Chris” Stefanko Jr, son of a local Sandy Hook contractor-builder who did work on the original Hook & Ladder firehouse, worked with Newtown Historical Society on the restoration of the original Middle Gate School after it was moved from its first home to its current one on Cold Spring Road, and the first pavilion at Dickinson Park, all in the mid- to late-1960s. John Sr also handled the major expansion on our Church Hill Road office building in the mid-1950s. That project more than doubled our office space, and gave it the look most people are familiar with today.

John Jr stopped in to place an ad in the paper, but ended up visiting for nearly 30 minutes and we enjoyed every moment of it. He had great memories, he said, of our publisher, R. Scudder Smith, as well as Scudder’s father and his predecessor, Paul S. Smith. He and Sherri had a few good laughs during the visit, and we enjoyed the time he was here.

The annual Newtown Historical Society Spring Fundraising Tag Sale will be presented next month, and you can help. The sale itself is planned for Saturday, June 1, from 10 am until 2 pm (rain date June 2). Shopping the event will be one way to help the historical society raise funds toward the maintenance of its headquarters, The Matthew Curtiss House. The other way to help is to donate items for the sale. Antiques, collectibles, and general tag sale items will be received at The Matthew Curtiss House, 44 Main Street on Friday, May 31, (where the sale will also be conducted the following day). There’s just a 90-minute window of opportunity, from 2:30-4 pm; donations should not be left before or after that time. Furniture, kitchen items, décor, tools, vintage and antique treasures are all suggestions. Organizers do not want clothing, shoes, stuffed animals, or pillows.

Newtown students in grades 5-12 have just a few more weeks to enter a new competition being hosted by our Office of the Registrar of Voters. Jenna Visca had a full story back in February about the “I Voted” Sticker Design Contest, and now I just want to offer a reminder that entries are due May 1. Young artists should contact LeReine Frampton or Erica Canfield at the Registrar’s office (registrar.of.voters@newtown.ct.gov or 203-270-4250) before that date, however, if they’d like to enter because there is a template that needs to be used for all designs. One winner will be chosen from each age group and the winning artwork will be featured on 2-inch stickers to be distributed to voters at the polls for all elections taking place in Newtown in 2024.

Another reminder this week, this one ahead of Earth Day and Arbor Day: Newtown Lions Club has something special planned this year. Local readers who would like a tree or two to plant are invited to contact current Newtown Lions Club President Andrew Iorio at misteri_1999@yahoo.com. Available varieties are white oak, white dogwood and Japanese maple. These are saplings, approximately 18 inches tall. Andrew says they’ll be great trees, they just need to be protected from mowing and trampling for a couple of years. They come with burlap root bags so all you need is a hole to put them in.

Did you know … According to The National Arbor Day Foundation, office workers with a view of trees report significantly less stress and more satisfaction.

Returning to the local Lions for just another minute, the club’s 2024 Great Pootatuck River Duck Race is planned for Saturday, June 8, from 11 am until 3 pm in Sandy Hook Center. The activities will be centered around Heritage Park, behind Foundry Kitchen & Tavern and Sandy Hook Café at 7 Glen Road. Raffle tickets will remain $5 each and while sales opened last weekend, in-person weekend sales will launch this weekend. Newtown Lions Club member Steve Stolfi recently told me that opening weekend sales (April 12-13) are planned at Dunkin’ Donuts, 6 Queen Street; Hawleyville Wine & Liquor, 23 Barnabas Road; Tractor Supply Company, 116 South Main Street; and Yankee Wine & Spirits, 6 Queen Street. Sales will continue through June 7 at local businesses and online via newtownlions.org.

Last week we shared the great news of a $49,999 grant received by Real Food CT from the State Department of Agriculture. In looking around at the local nonprofit’s recent work, it was additionally impressive to learn that last year’s milestones included two Real Food CT production gardens, eight Young Farmer interns trained on agricultural skills, 150 volunteers helping feed neighbors in need, 20 Farm Surplus partners, 15 recipient organizations, and 30,000 pounds of fresh produce donated. I’d say the state made a very good choice in selecting Sean Fitzgerald’s organization for some of those funds. If you’d like to get involved this season (and beyond), visit realfoodct.org or contact Sean at sean@realfoodct.org or 917-575-6811.

New Heights Baptist Church is planning a Service Saturday on May 4. The Main Street-based community of faith will have groups heading out to do yard work including trimming, leaf and stick cleanup, and even spreading mulch (provided by homeowner). Local readers looking for a hand with these tasks are invited to send a note to outreach@nhnewtown.church for more details. Organizers promise no strings attached. They’re just looking forward to serving the community.

Mary Hawley Public Service Award nominations are still open until May 1. Created to honor Newtown’s beloved benefactress, the award was established late last year to promote volunteerism by recognizing an individual who, through lengthy and exceptional public service to Newtown, best represents the selfless commitment and spirit of its namesake. The recipient will be selected in June and their name will be the first to grace a new plaque at Edmond Town Hall — one of Mary’s gifts to this town, and named in honor of her great-grandfather. They will also receive a personalized memento to commemorate the achievement and Newtown Savings Bank will donate $1,000 to a Newtown-based nonprofit of the recipient’s choosing. Nomination forms are at C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street; Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street; and Newtown Community Center, 8 Simpson Street. They can also be found online at surveymonkey.com/r/3JXSJKT.

I know there are a few windows at 5 Church Hill Road that look out over a tree or two. I’m going to go test that nugget of information I shared earlier from the Arbor Day Foundation and see how long it takes to feel less stressful with that view. I’ll let you know how that goes if you promise to come back again next week to … read me again.

While everyone else was looking toward the sky mid-Monday afternoon, Newtown Bee Managing Editor Shannon Hicks turned around and looked at some of her co-workers while they were watching the solar eclipse at its peak. Local viewers enjoyed an eclipse of just over 90% coverage on April 8. While not the full eclipse neighbors a few hours to our north enjoyed, the natural phenomenon was clearly still appreciated by those who took time to step outdoors for at least part of its duration. —Bee Photo, Hicks
Connecticut celebrated a partial solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, when 90% of the sun was covered by the moon passing in front of it. The event began locally just after 2 pm, reached its peak at 3:35 pm, and concluded by 4:37. These photos were taken from the sidewalk in front of Bee Publishing Company’s office on Church Hill Road at (from left) 3:06, 3:20, 3:27 (third and fourth photos), and 3:36 pm. —Bee Photos, Hicks
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