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Lori Zemo visited the Bee office a few times last week and I was absolutely thrilled to see her. Lori was our longtime receptionist and front office administrator for years, preceding Sandy Tannone, and was visiting the area while traveling with family and getting ready to attend her Newtown High School class reunion. It was amusing to watch her walk around the building, noting what has changed and what has managed to stay the same since her departure 25-plus years ago. We invited her to sit at her former desk and answer the phone during part of her visit, but she politely declined. Of course, when one of the grandchildren of Co-Publisher Sherri Smith Baggett arrived in the front office, Lori had no trouble giving that little one some attention. (Of course, most of us within this office have the same thing happen when any of the grandchildren stop in for visits.)

On Friday we had a double dose of former employees visit. Lori returned for another chat, this time with former Circulation Assistant Penny Lombardo by her side! What a great surprise it was to see Penny, who used to keep our current Circulation-Production Director, Scott Baggett, in check. Lori stopped in again this past Tuesday, checking in after attending her NHS Class of 1983 Reunion over the weekend. We said farewell to our friend, but not before making her promise to visit again, this time without waiting another few decades.

What a tough break for organizers of Newtown Arts Festival, who had to make the very tough choice last Friday morning to cancel last weekend’s outdoor arts festival events. It would have been a very disappointing festival for vendors and attendees alike if it had been presented. There was too much rain, and continued threats of rain between the few breaks of precipitation. Fortunately for some, two events went on as planned and our freelance photographer was there. As noted on page A-1 of our print edition this week, Bill Glass was at Friday night’s concert by Red Matter, still presented under the tent at Fairfield Hills. He was then at Edmond Town Hall the following evening, when Flagpole Radio Cafe returned to the stage there, this time with special guest Loudon Wainwright. Pick up a copy of this week's paper to see those photo spreads.

Not that it should make them feel a lot better, but the arts festival committee members were not the only ones challenged with weather woes this week. At least two local groups had to change their plans when the rain continued on Monday. Christ the King Lutheran Church and Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company both had fundraising golf tournaments planned for September 25. Fortunately for both organizations, while Monday was not the day to be playing golf, it was still a good day for raffles and food. I understand coordinators of both events went on with those facets of each event. Supporters of each stuck around for the adapted plans, and many people reportedly ended up enjoying themselves even without the golf.

Shannon Hicks does a lot of camping, and had the bittersweet moment recently of enjoying the final outing of her 2023 season. Great weather, new friends, plenty of Bingo … it was a good summer, I hear. Ahead of storing her camper for the season, our Managing Editor does what many other people do, and that’s pull out all the linens, food and other items that aren’t going to be kept in the camper through the winter. Among the items that came out of the camper were this year’s summer reads. They were put into a Little Free Library near the campground Shannon regularly visits. As she was heading home after that donation it occurred to her that there are few libraries like that right in her hometown. Until recently there were at least four: one at Dickinson Park, Elm Drive, between the playground and swing sets; one along the western side of Newtown Congregational Church, at 14 West Street; another between the pool building and pavilion at Treadwell Park, on Philo Curtis Road; and one at the Union Savings Bank branch at 1-A Commerce Road.

The newest we’re aware of just opened at FAITH Food Pantry (FFP), in fact. FFP volunteer Andy Engels built the beautiful addition outside the pantry building at 46 Church Hill Road, and even had the honor of placing the first book on its shelves. The book? A copy of The Hunger Games, written by Connecticut native Suzanne Collins. It was borrowed immediately, and the library has been in use since that morning. FFP volunteers welcome anyone who would like to add books to the library (books only, please and thank you, they say), or borrow a title or two. The library is positioned on the western corner of the building, between the parking lot and main entrance. Shannon has already promised to keep in mind her hometown Little Free Libraries — or Friends of C.H. Booth Library, who also accept donations of books, and other items, year round — when it’s time to do the 2024 camper clean out.

FAITH Food Pantry observed a milestone last weekend, which was both encouraging and troubling. On the positive side, volunteers have been organizing the collection, sorting and distribution of food and household items to residents of town for four decades. Through multiple locations and without ever ceasing operations, Food Assistance Immediate Temporary Help — that’s what the acronym for the nondenominational pantry stands for — has been able to put food on the table, pet food in the dish, cleaning supplies in the cabinets, and even some personal hygiene items in the closet for those who need them. The negative side of all that is the fact that we have had folks within our community who have had those needs for 40 years and counting. Both points were recognized during a gathering of volunteers and supporters last Saturday afternoon; story and photos are coming next week.

Newtown Lions Club will be hosting a special event this Saturday that’s meant to help Fairfield County area food pantries including Daily Bread in Danbury, Bridgeport Rescue Mission in Bridgeport, Hospitality House, and FAITH Food Pantry in Newtown. The local Lions are working with Big Y World Class Market on Queen Street and US Army 411th Civil Affairs Battalion for a Stuff-A-Truck event. Readers are invited to visit the market at 6 Queen Street, between 9 am and 5 pm, and drop off items (lists of suggested items will be available) or shop for prepackaged bags that will go right into the collection for distribution.

Further ahead, we understand the 21st Annual Fill The Fire Truck Food Drive is planned for Saturday, November 18, in front of Big Y and Stop & Shop.

On Sunday, Newtown Rotary is hoping to have a successful launch for its newest event. Current Rotary Club President Vern Chong reached out this week with a reminder that the club’s inaugural Cornhole Tournament is scheduled for October 1 from 1 to 5 pm. Cost is $50 per two-person team, and check-in opens at noon. Registration is preferred and available through newtownctrotary.org. Play will then be underway from 1 until 5 pm, with Visa gift cards for the top three teams. Not a player? No problem! Vern’s reminder included a note that there will be raffles, food trucks, and craft beer services on-site as well, and those are all open to everyone regardless of whether they’re competing or just want to cheer for their favorite team. Reservations are not needed for spectators. Visit the website above for final details, or just head toward Fairfield Hills on Sunday.

Do you ever get hungry for something different, but just don’t know where to start or what to make? Adventurous foodies can consider one of the recipes translated off a clay page from a Mesopotamian cookbook dating from 1700 BCE that will be on display when the Yale Peabody Museum reopens next year. The Hartford Courant had a good story this week about the ongoing renovations at the New Haven museum of natural history, and the talk about 3,700-year-old recipes tickled my whiskers. I wonder if any of the tablets include anything about mice. I’ll need a really clever human to help me in the kitchen if we’re going to try the recipes. One collection is apparently all about stews, but it’s written in Akkadian, which The Courant describes as a Semitic language related to Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic. I’m a smart kitty, but I still have my limits.

I hope you won’t limit yourself too much this upcoming week. Have as much fun as possible, maybe try something new and exciting. Just don’t forget to come back to … read me again.

Mountain likes to share news and notes about his favorite hometown on a weekly basis.
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