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Community events are a great way for people to keep in touch

We started the month with the Penguin Plunge. While I am sure that it was not nearly as cold as it was last year, it definitely wasn’t balmy. It was great to be a part of the event, and I look forward (really) to jumping in again next year to benefit Special Olympics Connecticut.

It was an interesting sight on the beach, with characters from “The Wizard of Oz,” boys in football uniforms and girls in bikinis. Thanks to all of the participants and also the supporters at the event. The Highland Lake Watershed Association offered free hot dogs and hot chocolate and dished out chili from Marino’s and meatballs and sausage from the Spillway Grill.

Special thanks also to all of the area public safety organizations and units that were on hand. Maybe next year we’ll get a few selectmen in the water (I know a couple have previously participated). An initial estimate of the money raised at the event was about $50,000. I am thrilled that this community supports causes such as this.

The typical February dregs of winter will be filled with other coming events. First is this evening’s “Bubbles and Truffles,” an annual fundraiser for the Friends of Main Street. The event, held at Whiting Mills (Friday, Feb. 10, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.), is a showcase of wine (with some beer sampling, too) and chocolate.

Tickets are available throughout town, costing $25 per person for pre-purchase, and $35 per person at the door. A silent auction raises additional funds for downtown revitalization. For an evening of good food, drink and entertainment for a good cause, consider spending the evening at Whiting Mills (and see firsthand some of the premier artisans’ studios). Additional information is available by calling 860-738-3351 or by email at info@foms.org.

A budget workshop to consider goals and objectives for the Board of Selectmen and department supervisors is tentatively scheduled for Monday evening, Feb. 13, at Town Hall. You may have to confirm the date and time, though, due to the deadline demands of the tyrannical editor of this newspaper.

The event is open to the public. I hope that many (well, let’s start with some) of you will join us as we begin to prepare the town’s budget. Public input and oversight is a critical budget function.

The Economic Development Commission will host a morning seminar for local businesses on how to work with social media, such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. Registration for the event at the Gilbert School begins (with coffee) at 7:30 a.m. Seating is limited, and a registration fee of $20 is appreciated. For more information, please call 860-482-6586 or 860-738-3351.

I will host my third quarterly roundtable with area manufacturing leaders on March 8. These discussions are intended to engage those businesses that are typically underserved by other groups, including town government.

Many of these business leaders rarely hear from Town Hall, but these businesses represent some of the best employers in town. Attendance at the gatherings has been minimal, but it has increased from the first meeting to the second. I hope the third will bring a few more to Town Hall.

Also on March 8, Town Clerk Sheila Sedlack has coordinated training for boards and commissions. The training will introduce some basic concepts of meeting organization, ethics, and conflicts of interest. These issues are fundamental to public service, and I hope that those invited are able to attend this evening workshop.

Let me turn now to the new “annual-to-be” warm weather event. I had previously mentioned bringing some outdoor movies to town. A few of us still remember the drive-in movies, and these outdoor movies try to recapture the family spirit of the drive-in (without the crowded station wagon!). Working with a movie company, I have scheduled four dates for movies: June 16, 30, and July 14, 28. The movies will start shortly after dusk.

These events turn into great community events, with families spreading out blankets and lawn chairs, enjoying a picnic dinner or bringing a pizza or two. I’m sure we’ll have some popcorn, candy, or other refreshments available. The movies have yet to be selected, but they will obviously be family-oriented and the event will be free-of-charge. Most importantly, this event will be funded entirely through donations, not town tax dollars. I’ve raised some money, but I am still looking for more. The event will happen, nonetheless (I’ll just have to confirm my credit limit!).

Thank you again to those residents who have already offered a donation. The movie nights (I need a catchy program name) will be cheap and easy fun for area families.

If you have the chance, please stop and introduce yourself to me at any event. I enjoy meeting all of you, and I know that I have plenty more to meet. Have a great weekend.

Dale Martin is the town manager of Winchester.

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