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I was very sad to hear this week of the death of Jan Howard. Born Janice Lockwood-Gurski, we at The Newtown Bee always knew her as Jan, and we knew her as an award-winning journalist who was very good at her features, news, and historic writing. She loved her historic assignments, which were a natural extension of her love of genealogy. Jan retired from our little hive nearly 20 years ago, but she kept in touch with a few of her fellow Bees until recently. She had been ill for a long time, but it’s never good news to hear about the passing of a friend. We did find it ironic, however, that the US Air Force veteran passed away on Veterans Day. We extend our condolences to Jan’s children and extended family and friends. We’ll see Dori, Pam, Vernon, et al, in a few weeks, and we’ll continue to keep Jan in our hearts for much longer.

Dozens of pumpkins were turned in again for The Great Pumpkin Challenge last month, and six "ladies" were post-collection benefactors. The event has been both a seasonal display and a fundraiser for The Hole in The Wall Gang Camp since its creation in 2011. Once it was clearly time for the pumpkins to come off the scaffolding in front of Trinity Episcopal Church, the carved pumpkins weren’t done being useful. Six cows at Castle Hill Farm had a great time consuming most of the 87 pumpkins that made it into this year’s display. Noel Belleshiem, one of the volunteers with the Challenge, told me she had to keep shifting where she threw the pumpkins so that she didn’t end up hitting any of the cows. “They come at a quick pace once about ten pumpkins are down,” she said. Sounds to me like The Great Pumpkin Challenge raised funds and (bovine) spirits this year.

There's a change of plans for a special event announced last week that was going to introduce local residents to engage with newly elected Newtown and state government officials. Newtown Nonprofit Council’s November 18 Government Partnership Event has been canceled. I’m not sure why; I’m just trying to let readers know about the update. I’ll let you know if it gets rescheduled, or even reformatted for a different presentation.

Firefighters from all five of Newtown’s companies will still be participating in Fill The Fire Truck this weekend, however. Organized for the 21st year by Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue EMS Captain Karin Halstead, the collection will again help FAITH Food Pantry fill its shelves ahead of Thanksgiving. Members of Sandy Hook, Hawleyville and Hook & Ladder companies will be in front of Big Y World Class Market on Queen Street, and members of Botsford and Dodgingtown will be in Sand Hill Plaza, all on Saturday, November 18, from 9 am until 2 pm. Donations of nonperishable foods, fresh and frozen turkeys, Thanksgiving foods, cleaning supplies and even pet supplies will all be accepted by the volunteers. Cash donations are always gratefully accepted as well, and everything is delivered immediately to the food pantry that afternoon.

If you can't make it to either Fill the Fire Truck location on Saturday, the food pantry regularly accepts donations Tuesday mornings between 9:30-11:30 am and Thursdays afternoons between 4-6 pm. The pantry is at 46 Church Hill Road, behind the St Rose church and rectory buildings and immediately south of the Knights of Columbus building. If those times don’t work for you, we have a donation bin just inside the front door at 5 Church Hill Road, and a volunteer empties that every week. Additional collection bins are available year-round at Barre Boutique, Caraluzzi's Newtown Market, Fisio Therapy, Popowich Chiropractor, and Union Savings Bank. Additionally (yes, there’s more!), FAITH has both Amazon Wish List and PayPal donation options available. Visit newtownfoodpantry.org/donations for details on both of those opportunities to help your Newtown neighbors.

Turkey Trot organizers have something new in store for the top 25 finishers this year, and they’re working with a local business to make this happen. The South Main Street specialty bulk food store BD Provisions is donating 25 gift buckets for the top two dozen-plus winners of the Thanksgiving morning road race and fun walk. Organizers of the fundraiser for C.H. Booth Library “are so grateful to them,” one of them whispered in my ear last week. Additionally, the top three winners will each receive a brick to be personalized and added to the library’s walkway. I'm told this approach is an effort to be more invested locally and give participants more meaningful prizes they can use.

The Spay and Neuter Association of Newtown (SNAN) has shared some very good news that many people are thankful for: A reader of this newspaper has stepped up to pay for the entire medical care of Star, the dog highlighted in a front page feature just a few weeks ago. SNAN and Dolores Miller are very grateful both to The Bee and to the Newtown community for helping to make sure Star’s story could have such a happy ending. The generous donor has agreed to pay for the monthly allergy injections, as well as her spaying and even the potentially expensive eye surgery she may need in the near future.

Speaking of stars, those who were looking skyward last Thursday evening were initially startled by what they were seeing in the night sky. A local Facebook group quickly filled with photos and posts from residents wondering why they were seeing straight sets of lights seemingly floating overhead. It turns out those were not UFOs, but part of Elon Musk’s new satellite network called Starlink. According to Owen Tanzer, our newest reporter, the idea is to have universal Internet access no matter where you are in the world. Musk reportedly wants to use a network of satellites in low orbit instead of the cell towers we’re used to. The satellites are long and extended across space, which creates the unusual line of lights people are seeing.

Bee Commerce has a new offering that draws on two of my favorite things: caffeine drinks and bees. Leslie Huston, master beekeeper and the owner of the business at 160A Sugar Street, is hosting “Coffee & Buzz” Saturday mornings from 10 am until noon. Anyone interested in beekeeping, bees, or has general questions is welcome to stop in for coffee and treats and ask her anything. The previous president of Back Yard Beekeepers Association, Leslie expects to continue the weekly conversations until it's time for hives to become active again in the spring.

Newtown Ecumenical Workcamp Servants (NEWS) recently held its kickoff meeting for 2023-24, and 33 young adults will head to Biloxi, Miss., in June. NEWS will repair homes in the Gulf Coast city, helping ensure homeowners there that they have maintainable, sustainable and affordable housing for years to come. That’s a personal favorite location, so I’m happy-jealous for them. While each NEWS young adult and chaperone pays a tuition to participate, the group does a lot of additional fundraising. The first fundraiser, the annual NEWS Poinsettia Sale, is underway. Cost is $32 per pot, with each pot to contain your choice of three red or white plants. Contact Laura Terry at LauraLTerry@Live.com or 203-470-3547 by November 26 if you’d like to place an order. Delivery will be the first weekend in December.

The restrooms at Treadwell Park are closed for the winter. Portable toilets (Port-a-Potties) are available. This follows the news last week that Dickinson Park’s restrooms had already closed for the winter.

Do you or your family have a favorite pie for Thanksgiving? According to Google Trends, New England clearly loves its apple pies on Turkey Day. Alaska reportedly loves the apple pie as well, but Hawaiians go for banana cream with their feasts. Pumpkin pie is favored in New York, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, California and New Mexico. Me, I’m a bourbon pecan pie fan, which puts me in good standing should I find myself in Texas next Thursday. Peanut butter pies will be found on tables in Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia. If you’re looking for something even less traditional, Mississippi Mud Pie will be making appearances in Louisiana, while neighbors in the Magnolia State will be enjoying chocolate pie. Key lime pie will be featured in Florida (naturally!), as well as the Montana-Wyoming-Utah-Idaho region; tamale pie will be enjoyed in Oregon, and Frito-Chili pie will be flying off the plates in Kansas.

All this chitchat is making me weary (and hungry!). I know I have a lot to be thankful for. I hope you also have blessings in your life, and that you will remember to come back next week to … read me again.

Newtown news and notes, told from the point of view of a cat named Mountain.
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