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Inauguration Ceremony Celebrates Newly Elected Officials



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Dozens of newly elected and reelected Newtown officials raised their right hand and swore to serve the community to their best abilities during an inauguration ceremony November 30 that was attended by well over 100 family members and well-wishers.

The roughly hour-long event came off without a hitch in the largest gathering space at the Newtown Community Center and was coordinated by Town Clerk Debbie Halstead with the assistance of Kathryn Charbonneau.

With former Selectman William Brimmer, Jr, at the microphone handling master of ceremonies duties, the event opened with the Newtown Police Color Guard presenting the flags as Eva Hawley led the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by Shay Sullivan singing the national anthem.

The crowd was asked to remain standing for the invocation delivered by Monsignor Robert Weiss of St Rose of Lima Parish.

Then Newtown Poet Laureate Lisa Schwartz came to the podium to read an original work she created for the occasion. Ms Schwartz was also in attendance to be sworn into a seat she was elected to fill on the Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers.

Ms Schwartz said she always begins her readings with a quote that somehow reflects the occasion or subject of her own creations, citing Percy Bysshe Shelley who wrote that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”

The local poet personalized her verse to suit the day, reciting: “...hold sacred the oath of serving this town, sustain every up, abide every down, beware of deceit, reckon always in truth, seek the wisdom of age, and the promise of youth.”

Ms Schwartz concluded her verse imploring all the recently elected officials to “be brilliantly you, be worthy of Newtown,” and closing with the sentiment, “...we wish you luck.”

Then it was time for the newly elected officials to take their oaths of office. Instead of having all those in attendance rise and be sworn at the same time, the town clerk instead gave each separate board their own moment to shine.

As she moved through repeating the oath for members of the Police and Planning & Zoning Commissions, Boards of Assessment Appeals, Town Hall Managers, Zoning Appeals, Education, Finance, Selectman, and the Legislative Council, Ms Halstead closed this portion of the program swearing in First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, who ran unopposed for a second term.

After thanking and recognizing a number of individuals who attended and helped present the inauguration event, Mr Rosenthal then offered brief remarks, stating, “It’s hard to believe how fast two years have gone.”

The first selectman talked about how blessed the community is to have such dedicated employees and volunteers, before specifically recognizing Selectmen Maureen Crick Owen and Jeff Capeci. He also thanked the many Democratic and Republican members and others who serve on various elected panels for their support as well.

Recounting various accomplishments, Mr Rosenthal quickly touched upon road improvement projects he was able to initiate and the new Police Headquarters projec,t which could not have happened without the endorsement of residents who voted to support the funding.

He then promoted capital planning initiatives, the newly installed Purchasing Agent, and the very community center hosting the event, as well as the adjoining senior center.

“We have seen strong growth in membership from roughly 400 members at the beginning of 2019, to 900 today — no question this has been the result of the efforts of many,” he said.

In closing, Mr Rosenthal made note of the shift in widespread commercial development across the community, and stated , “We live in a beautiful town, and while change may be inevitable, the character of our community is always at the front of my mind.”

He countered touting the thousands of acres of open space being preserved in perpetuity, saying “we need to continue balancing opportunities for preservation with growth,” reminding those in attendance that he will also be continuing public discussions about the future of the Fairfield Hills campus.

“Community engagement is very important to me,” the first selectman said, “and I will plan to look for ways to interact with community members outside the traditional public meeting sessions.”

In closing, he thanked his family who sat in the front row, and said he looked forward to working with all the newly sworn officials to “continue building on an already great town.”

The ceremonial part of the event concluded, Ms Halstead and Mr Brimmer invited everyone to enjoy the refreshments and cake that was created for the activity and was emblazoned with the Town Seal and the word “Congratulations.”

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, far left, greets more than 100 guests and dozens of newly elected and reelected officials during an inauguration ceremony at the Newtown Community Center, November 30. —Bee Photos, Voket
Standing with emcee William Brimmer, Jr, Town Clerk Debbie Halstead prepares to swear in more than two dozen local officials during an inauguration event November 30 at the Newtown Community Center. Seated, holding bouquet, is First Selectman Dan Rosenthal.—Bee Photos, Voket
Newly elected and reelected members of the Newtown Police Commission — from left, Neil Chaudhary, Joan Plouffe, and Joel Faxon — take their oath of office during November 30 ceremonies while newly elected Board of Finance member Christopher Gardner looks on.
Monsignor Robert Weiss, standing before Newtown Police Color Guard member Officer William Chapman, delivers the invocation during an inauguration event November 30 at the Newtown Community Center. Among others participating in the program were young Eva Hawley — pictured standing with her parents Robert and Tiffany — who led the Pledge of Allegiance; Shay Sullivan, who is pictured singing the national anthem; and Newtown Poet Laureate Lisa Schwartz, who was also sworn onto the Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers after she read an original work she created for the occasion.
*****Lisa Schwartz identified in shared cutline
****Shay Sullivan identified in shared cutline
****Eva Hawley w parents Robert & Tiffany identifid in shared cutline
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