Today Magazine • Dec​ember​​ 2021

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TODAY Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley

A Better Chance

College Prep Program Helps Students Excel

SIMPLE AS ABC DECEMBER 2021

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SEED FEED A tufted titmouse finds a seed for snacktime — these small songbirds hoard food in fall and winter, storing many of the seeds they collect from bird feeders and elsewhere, per Cornell’s AllAboutBirds.org website

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LEADING OFF

CONTENTS

Simple As ABC

COVER STORY

4 — Beyond the ABCs

The Simsbury A Better Chance program partners with Simsbury High to prepare young men of color for college and career success MEDICAL MUSINGS

9 — Facts of Food Life

The FDA’s makeover of the Nutrition Facts label is great news for health-conscious consumers HONORING FIRST RESPONDERS

12 — Brief History of Firefighting

The Farmington Fire Department’s legacy comprises four companies and more than two centuries HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS

13 — Meet and Greet

Granby incorporated in 1786, and its first official town meeting took place 235 years ago this month QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“The facilities here in Simsbury, like the library, are easily accessible and the teachers are helpful” — a Simsbury ABC scholar BY THE NUMBERS

LETTERS

Simsbury ABC scholars this year — 5

WHO DOESN’T WANT a better chance at success? The Simsbury A Better Chance program offers precisely such an opportunity. For nearly five decades, Simsbury ABC has made a constructive difference in the lives of academically talented young men of color. ABC student-scholars come from school systems across the country that (chances are) would impair their academic potential. They live in the Simsbury ABC house on Hopmeadow Street via a boarding-school model and attend Simsbury High School. It’s a simple concept — as simple as ABC — yet the process of course includes plenty of hard work on the part of ABC students so they can excel in Simsbury High’s rigorous academic environment. “It’s been easy connecting with people,” says an ABC student. “The teachers and staff offer extra help.” For more, see our cover story on page 4 — BWD Today Magazine • Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley Bruce William Deckert — Publisher + Editor-in-Chief 860-988-1910 • Bruce.Deckert@TodayPublishing.net www.TodayPublishing.net > Digital Editions • Award-Winning Today Magazine Online — www.TodayPublishing.net/blog Follow Today Magazine CT on social media: Advertising — Contact the Publisher Editorial Associate — Kayla Tyson Contributing Photographer — Wendy Rosenberg Five Towns, One Aim — Exceptional Community Journalism Farmington • Avon • Canton • Simsbury • Granby – CT, USA • Two other Valley magazines: print circulation — less than 19,000 • Today Magazine: print circulation — 42,000+ • Ad Rates — same ballpark

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COVER STORY KUDOS Today Magazine’s November cover story featured the essential work of the Farmington River Watershed Association, and FRWA officials expressed gratitude — www.TodayPublishing.net/digital-editions I CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH for the magnificent article on our beloved Farmington River! The article, along with Rick Warters’ phenomenal photographs, sums up the very special natural resource that impacts so many lives every day. Your writing is clear and on point. You made the river “come alive” while educating all of us about this wonder so close to our hearts. Including Beckie Sahl’s “Ode” was so perfect as well. Thank you again and again for the work you do. It means so much to all of us to know about what is all around us. You provide that service so well! Betty Friedman • Simsbury

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THANK YOU for your article on the Farmington River Watershed Association in the November issue. We are lucky to live in a valley with lots of protected open space, a wild and scenic river, and the tremendous biodiversity that comes with both. An engaged and aware community is the best way to protect these invaluable resources. Thank you for spreading the word through your focus on Noteworthy Nonprofits. Rick Warters • Simsbury I REALLY ENJOYED your article featuring FRWA and our wondrous Farmington River — it flowed beautifully. Thank you! Beckie Sahl • Avon LET ME ADD MY THANKS for your thoughtful article about FRWA — we appreciate it. Michael Feldman • Avon Your November cover story, together with aweinspiring wildlife pictures, deserves a shout-out! Thanks for beautifully sketching the geographical facts associated with the Farmington River and the many ways it touches our lives. Sana Syed • Simsbury TODAY MAGAZINE – www.TodayPublishing.net – DECEMBER 2021

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COVER STORY NOTEWORTHY NONPROFITS

SIMPLE AS ABC A Better Chance: Preparing Scholars For College Success By Bruce Deckert Editor-in-Chief • Today Magazine

Page 7 — Alum Grateful for ABC Page 8 — Student’s-Eye View of ABC

——————————————————— NEARLY FIVE DECADES AGO, when the Simsbury A Better Chance program was established in 1973, the Jackson 5 band was among the most popular groups in the nation. One of their biggest hits — “ABC” — connects with the program’s name and educational focus, featuring the following lyrics that are famous to Top 40 radio fans of the 1970s: “You went to school to learn … things you never, never knew before / Like i before e except after c / And why 2 plus 2 makes 4 ... A-B-C, easy as 1-2-3 – simple as do-re-mi, A-B-C, 1-2-3 / Baby, you and me” As a college preparatory program, Simsbury A Better Chance — aka Simsbury ABC — goes far beyond the mere ABCs. The nonprofit aims to make a difference in the lives of academically talented young men of color, with the goal of increasing the number of collegeeducated people of color in America. “They come from school systems that would impair their chances to achieve their potential,” says Simsbury ABC board president Robert Pearce. “We provide room, board and supervision … and see them through four years at Simsbury High School at no cost to their parents.” Simsbury ABC essentially utilizes a private boarding school model via a public school education at Simsbury High. Hailing from across the country, students 4

Simsbury A Better Chance — Simsbury ABC — 835 Hopmeadow Street • Simsbury Chrissi Bonchick • Program Coordinator 860-264-6188 abcprogsims@gmail.com www.simsburyabetterchance.org Year Established — 1973

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Simsbury High freshman Ethan Vasquez and Dr. Ron Brown ——————————— Vasquez is one of five Simsbury ABC scholars this school year — he hails from Anaheim, Calif. ——————————— Brown is ABC’s resident director Photos by Connecticut Headshots • 860-593-0850


Simsbury High freshman and ABC scholar Nana-Poku Boakye of Weymouth, Mass. — with ABC resident tutor Douglas Nielson ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— reside in the Simsbury ABC house on Hopmeadow Street under the supervision of Dr. Ron Brown, ABC’s resident director who lives on-site with the students and provides daily guidance, support and mentoring. Simsbury ABC is part of the national A Better Chance organization that was founded in 1963. At first, the program matched students exclusively with private schools, but now ABC works with both private and public schools. Brown grew up in Cleveland and participated in the ABC program himself, graduating from Pomfret School in western Connecticut and ultimately earning a doctorate from Harvard University. Before joining the Simsbury ABC team for the 2017-18 school year, he was a college professor. ABC’s resident tutor, Douglas Nielson, also lives on-site with Brown and the ABC scholars. His day job dovetails perfectly with the program: Nielson is a business teacher and yearbook adviser at Simsbury High School. There are five Simsbury ABC scholars this school year, listed here with their class and hometown:

“The teachers are nice and the Simsbury students are easy to get along with — it’s been a great experience” — a Simsbury ABC scholar • Junior Anthony Shaw — Bridgeport, Conn. • Sophomore Muna Nwafor — Newark, N.J. • Sophomore Bryson Tsogt-Erdine — Starkville, Miss. • Freshman Nana-Poku Boakye — Weymouth, Mass. • Freshman Ethan Vasquez — Anaheim, Calif. Bryson joined Simsbury ABC this year as a sophomore, while the others started as freshmen. In an exclusive interview with Today Magazine, the students spoke of their appreciation for the program and the Simsbury community — Pearce requested anonymity for the students’ quotes:

• “Being in Simsbury has been quite the transition, from city life to a rural atmosphere — I’m used to a bustling and hustling environment with many cars and industrial buildings. Socially, I’m not one to congregate, but many of my classmates have become friends. I am enjoying this Simsbury adventure.” • “It’s been a new experience with a college prep curriculum and rigorous academics. It’s been easy connecting with people — the teachers and staff offer extra help. I appreciate the community focus.” • “My older sister was in the ABC program at Phillips Exeter Academy — I saw the incredible opportunities she had and wanted to be part of it. The facilities here in Simsbury, like the library, are easily accessible and the teachers are helpful.” • “I have appreciated the rigorous academics and the athletics. The teachers are nice and the Simsbury students are easy to get along with — it’s been a great experience.” • “I wanted to be part of the ABC program so I could get into a good college, get a good job, make money, and use it to have a good life. The people here are nice and

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willing to help out — they’re not the type of kids to bully or laugh at you if you make a mistake. The teachers offer lots of help and support.” Further lyrics from the Jackson 5 “ABC” song resonate — “Reading, writing, arithmetic are the branches of the learning tree / But listen, without the roots of love every day … your education ain’t complete” The comments of these five ABC scholars indicate they sense the love and care of the Simsbury community as they cultivate a love of learning transcending the ABCs. This is as evident as the MLK in CT Memorial at the Simsbury Free Library, a stone’s throw from the ABC house. Do we also need to keep growing as a community in expressing care and delivering liberty and justice for all? This is evident too. Pearce’s exclusive Q&A with Today Magazine follows:

graduated over 85 students, and over 95% have finished college in four years. Our graduates all speak about the difference that Simsbury ABC made in their lives.

recruitment was curtailed as parents were reluctant to send their children away to a boarding program.

Your biggest obstacle, and how you overcome it?

Nationally among all college students, only about 60% graduate in four years. That statistic for Simsbury ABC graduates is about 95% — over half of our students are the first members of their families to attend college.

Mission of Simsbury ABC:

Anecdote that illustrates how you fulfill your mission:

To increase the number of collegeeducated people of color in the United States. We competitively select students from around the country; they come from school systems that would impair their chances to achieve their potential. We provide room, board and supervision for up to eight students — two each: freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors — and see them through four years at Simsbury High School at no cost to their parents. Most fulfilling aspect of your work? In the 48 years of the program, we have 6

Recruiting new students. Historically, our candidates have come only from the National ABC, but we are now developing other sources of candidates. Goals for the next 1-5 years? Fortify our recruitment process to make recruiting reliable. Volunteer opportunities: A board of 20+ volunteers oversees the program. Each student has a volunteer adviser who oversees academic progress. Each student also has a volunteer host family in town that provides a monthly home away from home environment.

Our students have come from diverse backgrounds, including African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Christian, Jewish and Muslim, many of whom qualify for the school free lunch program and who come from as far away as California, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi. How has the COVID pandemic impacted your work? Since we are a school-based program, our students were impacted as all other students in Simsbury. Further,

DECEMBER 2021 – www.TodayPublishing.net – TODAY MAGAZINE

Interesting stats + numbers:

Besides donations, how is your work funded? About 75% of our program is funded by individual donations from citizens of Simsbury and surrounding towns. The balance comes from businesses, foundations and local civic institutions — no funds come from any government entity. How closely do you work with other agencies/nonprofits? Simsbury ABC works very closely with Simsbury High School. What do you appreciate most about the Farmington Valley? Simsbury is a most generous community both in terms of donations and volunteerism. Number of Employees: Full-time: 2 — Part-time: 3 Nonprofit Board Officers: Robert Pearce, president • Kara Petras, vice president • Andrew Estell, treasurer • Linda Schofield, past president • about 20 board members overall +


ABC a catalyst for student’s Ivy League path Alum confirms Simsbury HS gave him A Better Chance By Tavyen Matthews Special to Today Magazine

Tavyen Matthews is a 2016 graduate of Simsbury High School via the Simsbury A Better Chance (ABC) college preparatory program — he graduated from Cornell University in 2020 ——————————————— WHAT CAN I honestly begin to say about a program that has entirely shaped me as a person to this day? As a young black male from the suburbs of Atlanta, there was not much that I had going for me. My school system was unaccredited, my teachers often did not care, and the school administration often overlooked the successes of my childhood — to them, I was just another student. When I came to Simsbury ABC as a young 13-year-old, I was not prepared for how much I would grow, mature and develop into an intellectual and competent young man. As a Simsbury A Better Chance scholar, I began to pursue academics and athletics to a degree I would not have been able to at home. I began to branch out of my repertoire. I started fencing and playing volleyball — sports that were entirely out of my reach in Atlanta. I even went as far as to captain both Simsbury High teams while being in multiple clubs and organizations. I became a more well-rounded and amicable human being. I was able to try many things that interested me, and I had no fear about doing something new, something I would learn that would benefit both my college experience and my career. Looking back on my experience, there is nothing I am more grateful for than the support groups and networks that I built throughout my Simsbury High School experience. The support group that constantly had my back was phenomenal — my wonderful host family, the Wildman family, who never once doubted anything I could do, and my academic advisor who spent many hours making sure that I always kept my focus, as well as the fantastic board members who never once stopped pouring

Simsbury High sophomores Bryson Tsogt-Erdine of Starkville, Miss. (above) and Muna Nwafor of Newark, N.J. (left) work with ABC resident tutor Douglas Nielson

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Every day I benefit from the experiences and connections I made during my tenure at the Simsbury ABC house … [they] still permeate my mind and never fail to leave a smile on my face

their heart into making sure that we had the best experience. I cannot begin to thank everyone who guided me through my high school years in Simsbury. From multiple residential directors who constantly ensured we were safe and responsible for our actions, to the tutors who brought out the best in us by always motivating and pushing us to take the next leap in our academics. There was never an “I can’t do this” moment. It was always “How can I do this?” When I was multiple math classes behind my peers, the ABC program supported me in doubling up on math classes and pushing my tenuous work ethic forward. I was constantly forced not to settle for an A when I could get an A+, to work not to be satisfied until I exhibited excellence continually. This drive and hunger for the best ultimately led me down my Ivy League

path, and I wanted to challenge myself against the greatest minds and pursue the highest level of education. Every day I benefit from the experiences and connections I made during my tenure at the Simsbury ABC house. From the beautiful holiday memories to the numerous cultural trips and experiences, the ABC house always made sure to instill some type of pop knowledge, culture or experience that would widen our worldviews. Small moments such as rolling sushi for the first time, seeing my first Broadway musical, or even seeing the Capitol building in D.C. for the first time still permeate my mind and never fail to leave a smile on my face. + Tavyen Matthews came to Simsbury High School (Class of 2016) from Riverdale, Georgia — he is a 2020 Cornell University graduate with a bachelor of science in atmospheric science and meteorology

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Student’s-eye view of Simsbury ABC

Simsbury High junior Anthony Shaw (right) and sophomore Muna Nwafor enjoy a family-style meal at the Simsbury ABC house on Hopmeadow Street By Anthony Shaw Special to Today Magazine

This Q&A with A Better Chance scholar Anthony Shaw comes to our readers courtesy of ABC board president Robert Pearce ———————————————— Tell us a bit about you: I AM 15 YEARS OLD and a junior at Simsbury High School. I am from Bridgeport, Conn. I have a younger sister and a mother and father who are hard-working people. My father is a security guard for a mental health facility in New Haven. My mom is a draftsman for an architectural firm in Fairfield. My sister is 14 and a freshman in a private high school in Bridgeport. How did you come to be at Simsbury ABC? When I was a 7th-grader at my charter middle school, our principal picked the top 5% of 7th-grade students and got us together to explain about A Better Chance. I applied and visited some ABC programs in New Canaan and Amherst, and some boarding and private schools that take ABC students. I eventually selected Simsbury ABC. My goal was to find a highly academic high school that was not a financial burden on my family, and this would allow my younger sister to also have a good high school experience. My goal is to attend a good college. If I succeed, I will be the first college graduate in my family. 8

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Simsbury ABC offers me so much — challenging and fulfilling academics ... and extracurricular activities that are very motivating What does Simsbury ABC offer you? Simsbury ABC offers me so much — challenging and fulfilling academics, a great social life and extracurricular activities that are very motivating. For example, I am taking a class in medical interventions and AP chemistry, neither of which I could have gotten back home. For extracurricular activities, I row crew and swim, both at the varsity level. When I turn 16, I am planning to get a part-time job in town to gain some work experience. This is a very different experience than I could have had back home. Also, the people in Simsbury are some of the nicest people I have ever met, and I would really have missed out if I had not come here. What do you hope to do when you graduate from Simsbury ABC? When I graduate from Simsbury ABC, I hope to attend a good college with a good financial package, and I hope that when I graduate from college I will find a job immediately and a career that I will be passionate about. +


MEDICAL MUSINGS

FACTS OF LIFE + FOOD

Nutrition Facts makeover = good news for consumers FDA enacts sweet label changes — such as listing Added Sugars By Lisa H. Cooperman • RDN Special to Today Magazine

Editor’s Note Over a two-year time frame, the FDA made key changes to the Nutrition Facts label — in 2021, the changes are now required for all labels and all food manufacturers ————————————————————— THE NUTRITION FACTS LABEL is the hallmark of how we decide which food to purchase, but what are you really looking at? If you are a regular nutrition label reader, you may have noticed that labels got a renovation this year. It has been 20 years since the Nutrition Facts label was last updated, and a lot has changed in the past two decades. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency in charge of food safety and protecting public health, determines what goes on the label. The FDA made changes based on new research findings and feedback from health professionals and consumers. The improved Nutrition Facts label makes it easier to recognize and understand essentials about the food products you buy. On the improved label, some information is emphasized while other parts have been changed or added. These changes now make it difficult for food companies to be devious when it comes to the serving sizes and ingredients used in their products. Have you ever wondered, “Who seriously eats one-half cup of ice cream as a serving?” If so, you’re not alone. Serving sizes are ambiguous and there is no standard per type of food, and this fact can make labels confusing. The FDA adjusted serving sizes on the new label for specific foods — including the serving size for soft drinks — to accurately reflect what the average American consumes today. Another change is that the serving size font is larger and bolder so it’s harder to miss the portions contained in a food or drink. Keep in mind that most beverages and snack foods contain multiple servings, even those sold in tiny packages or gulp-

size bottles. How many servings of soda or juice are you consuming without realizing it? The section on the label for Daily Value (DV) identifies how much of a particular nutrient a food contains in relation to the FDA’s recommended daily intake. This DV number helps you judge whether a food or beverage is a good source of vitamins and minerals — and also gives an estimate of how much protein, total fat, total carbs, cholesterol, fiber and sodium the food or drink will contribute to your total daily intake. FYI, this percentage is based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The DVs for certain nutrients have changed, so the labels have been updated accordingly. Total fat and the percentages of vitamins A and C have been removed from the updated label. This removal is based on findings from research studies suggesting that it’s the type of fat, not the amount, that impacts health and should be our focus. Vitamins A and C were removed from the label because deficiencies in these vitamins are rare in the U.S. One of the best changes is a sweet addition to the label — food manufacturers are now required to list Added Sugars as a subcategory of Total Sugars. Previously, the FDA allowed companies to consolidate all types of sugar (added and

natural) under Total Sugars. This made it impossible to know how much sugar was added and what kinds of sugar were in food. There is a significant difference between natural and added sugars and how they affect your body. Wondering how to measure the sugar you see on a label? For reference, 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon. The American Heart Association recommends a daily limit for added sugar — 6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men. In addition, vitamin D and potassium are now listed since many Americans are deficient in these nutrients, which can harm health in a number of ways. In summary: The new Nutrition Facts label has been updated with some vital info for health-conscious consumers — including a call-out for added sugars, potassium and vitamin D, along with new serving sizes and DVs. Plus, calories and serving sizes are now printed in bold text, so they are harder to miss. These changes are designed to empower consumers to be more informed and in charge of what they’re buying, eating and drinking. Cheers! + Lisa H. Cooperman is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), the owner of Vital U LLC, and a member of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce www.vital-u.com

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CANTON TODAY

Hobo History: Eclectic Blend of Memories By Kathy Taylor Canton Town Historian

“There were hobos who

Part 2 of a Two-Part Series ————————————————— THE TERM hobo originated in the western and northwestern United States around 1890. A hobo is a traveling worker who often travels by hopping freight trains. The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and the Central New England Railroad crisscrossed Connecticut, with numerous passenger and freight depots in the Farmington Valley. Many of those former railroad tracks have been converted to the Rails-to-Trails walking and biking paths. But during those railroad days, hobos could be found in every town along the railroad tracks. In a 1984 interview conducted by the Canton Historical Museum with Rae Belkin Smith and Mildred Bond Case, they recalled stories about hobos in Collinsville: “There were hobos who lived near the Farmington River and near the Town Bridge. Some camped on the island and

lived near the Farmington River and near the Town Bridge — some camped on the island and near the Cherry Brook Station” near the Cherry Brook Station. The train men would throw out newspapers and reading materials to them. Mr. Bisbey, who had the key to the small brick jailhouse in downtown Collinsville, would let them sleep in the building. They would ask for newspapers from Rae’s father’s business to put on the cement floor.” Mildred said that her aunt at the Valley House would feed the hobos: “There were a lot of them at the back of the hotel — they would sit on the back steps and she would bring the food out.” Jim Bombara grew up on Arch Street in Burlington, just over the Collinsville

HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS

line. The railroad ran right behind his house, and he recalls hobos camping next to the railroad tracks just past his house. His grandfather would bring them food. The Hartford Courant published several articles in the 1950s and 1960s announcing upcoming Grange events, including a Hobo Night. The event was usually held at one of the local Granges, with other Granges in attendance. One announcement in 1955, regarding the Spoonville Grange in East Granby, stated: “Those not in costume will be subject to a fine.” Nowadays, you may see an occasional hobo Halloween costume, and there may not be any visible evidence of hobos in our towns. But they still exist and are traveling our vast country, looking for work here and there, and embracing a simple on-theroad lifestyle. + Part 1 of our two-part hobo series appeared in the November edition of Today Magazine www.TodayPublishing.net/digital-editions

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FARMINGTON TODAY

Brief History of Firefighting: Local + Beyond By Ethan Guo Special to Today Magazine

THE UNITED STATES has a history charred by ruinous fires. The very first English settlement in the Americas, Jamestown, burned to the ground four times in less than 90 years. Unfortunately, public services such as the fire department were simply not available during colonial times. Instead, firefighting was left up to the people and their water buckets. Benjamin Franklin, having witnessed many fires firsthand, was inspired to cofound the Union Fire Company in 1736, creating the first volunteer fire department in the United States. Proclaiming that “an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure,” Franklin’s Union Fire Company would inspire the creation of numerous other independent fire companies in the United States. The town of Farmington once had four independent fire companies to bring fire support to citizens in a more speedy manner. The four original independent departments were the Farmington

Once 4 distinct companies, TFFD is now united “We have learned the inner workings of fire and how it reacts, providing us with better tactics for extinguishment” — TFFD’s Steve Hoffmann Fire Department (1803), Tunxis Hose Company #1 (1893), Oakland Gardens Fire Department (1943) and East Farmington Volunteer Fire Department (1944). These four companies combined in 1994 under the Town of Farmington Fire Department (TFFD), joining over 200 years of firefighting history. Between the inception of the first Farmington fire department and today, the organization has evolved both technologically and logistically. The very first firefighters employed horse-drawn

HONORING FIRST RESPONDERS engines with hand-pumped hoses, so they were slow to arrive at emergencies compared with today’s fire trucks. Thus, the more obvious improvements included faster transportation, more powerful hoses and implementation of the internet. However, many lesser-known but impactful changes have also been instituted that both facilitate firefighting and protect the health of firefighters. “In the 22 years I have been in firefighting, there have been substantial changes and enhancements,’’ says Steve Hoffmann, TFFD’s director of fire & rescue services. “The gear back in the day was a long jacket, three-quarter boots and a helmet. While this was better than nothing, it was a thin layer between the firefighter and the fire. Today, we have full turnout gear consisting of pants, jacket, hood, gloves, boots, etcetera. Within the turnout gear continued on page 16

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GRANBY TODAY

First Town Meeting Was 235 Years Ago By Bruce Deckert Editor-in-Chief • Today Magazine

Philip’s War (aka the First Indian War) in 1675-76 — a century before the American Revolutionary War. When English settlers first came to what is known today as the Farmington Valley, the region was inhabited by the Massacoe Indians. Before Granby was founded, the inhabitants of the Salmon Brook area were “a fiercely independent lot … and it is no

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surprise that they found the principles of the American Revolution to their liking,” writes Williams on Granby-CT.gov. The Revolutionary War formally concluded in September 1783 when Great Britain recognized the United States’ independence via the Treaty of Paris. Three years and one month later, Granby was incorporated. There are five core towns in the present-day Farmington Valley: Avon, Canton, Farmington, Granby and Simsbury (in alphabetical order). Simsbury was founded in 1670. Canton, also originally part of Simsbury, was established in 1806, 20 years after Granby. Farmington, founded in 1645, is the oldest Valley town, and Avon is the youngest, forming in 1830 as a Farmington spinoff. Since that first Granby meeting in December 1786, town meetings have been an ongoing practice in Granby and across the Valley — continuing a timehonored New England tradition of local governance. +

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THIS DECEMBER MARKS a momentous date in the history of Granby — 235 years ago, the town held its first formal town meeting. Granby was initially part of Simsbury, and Simsbury was initially part of Windsor. The town of Granby was incorporated in October 1786, and local historians tell us that the first official town meeting took place on Monday, December 4, 1786. Granby’s earliest residents no longer wanted to be ruled by the government in Simsbury, even though “they were usually assured two seats on the board of selectmen,” writes historian Mark Williams on the town’s website, GranbyCT.gov. “In the old Puritan tradition, they wanted their own community, both civil and ecclesiastical.” Present-day Granby was known as the Salmon Brook section of north Simsbury before the state legislature established Granby as a distinct town. The early English settlers of the Salmon Brook area were Puritans who arrived in the late 17th century after King

In colonial times town meetings were often held in churches, such as ​First Congregational Church of Granby

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SIMSBURY TODAY RED BARN WITH SILO ——————— By Justine Coleman Simsbury resident ——————— Watercolor ——————— Member of Connecticut Watercolor Society, Avon Arts Association, Academic Artists Association, Kent Art Association, West Hartford Art Association ——————— Email: justarts@ sbcglobal.net

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Chorus Seeks Holiday Harmony Year-Round By Beckie Sahl Special to Today Magazine

FIRE — continued from page 12 are protective barriers to protect the firefighter from heat, smoke, etcetera.” Furthermore, SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) has made it possible for firefighters to breathe in a fire and protect themselves from the dangers of smoke and the byproducts of combustion. Prior to SCBA, firefighters had no fresh-air apparatus, so they would have to get close to the nozzle in order to inhale the air that came out along with the water. They would stay low, but that only provided so much fresh air to breathe. The development of modern equipment that is both more protective 16

director Cheryl Wilcox and our music and management teams quickly organized Zoom rehearsals focused on education, performance and fun. We learned more about the art of barbershop music from a music theory aspect as well as new methods to improve our vocal skills. We listened to various chorus performances and critiqued them in regard to showmanship and sound. We got to know each other better. Each week a different Sweet Adeline was spotlighted and playfully interviewed. One of the shortcomings of Zoom is that it isn’t possible to sing together. Later in 2020, to keep our spirits up as the days became colder, darker and more isolating, we created a virtual holiday performance that was designed to lift the spirits of our family and friends as well. Each of us recorded our part individually and then submitted it to be mixed together to form a very upbeat virtual chorus, and a visual recording was also made. It has provided us with our own COVID-19 time capsule.

This holiday performance can be seen and heard on our YouTube channel: FVC Farmington Valley Chorus. The YouTube post is entitled “Happy Holiday Medley, FVC 2020” — here is the URL: www. youtube.com/watch?v=QF8VDPdYes8 In May 2021, after the rollout of the COVID vaccines, FVC began to carefully rehearse outside. Indoor rehearsals resumed in July. We are thrilled to be together brushing up on our repertoire, tuning our chords and regaining our voices. In November we had a fabulous coaching session that tuned our harmonies close to our former competition level. Now we are preparing holiday music and are excited to be performing live locally. The International Competition has been rescheduled for September 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. We can’t wait to get there!

and effective has been essential to firefighters in recent years. “We see fires burning hotter and growing faster with the increased use of plastics and many of the synthetics in most household items,” says Hoffmann, noting that many of the resulting gases can cause cancer. Throughout the centuries, firefighting has undergone substantial changes. Fires can still become unstoppable infernos, but with modern firefighting technology and highly trained officers, people today don’t have to rely on water buckets or stand around powerless as fires ravage cities and steal lives.

Yet the field continues to change. “Through laboratories, we train on fire behavior, ventilation, etcetera,” says Hoffmann. “We have learned the inner workings of fire and how it reacts, providing us with better tactics for extinguishment.” Just as doctors must always adapt to mutating diseases, firefighters must continue adjusting as old problems take on new and unprecedented forms. +

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Avon resident Beckie Sahl is a member of the Farmington Valley Chorus www.singfvc.org

An Avon resident, Ethan Guo is a junior at Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor Today Magazine editor-in-chief Bruce Deckert contributed to this story

VALLEY INTEL

FARMINGTON VALLEY CHORUS is a regional chapter of Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide organization of women dedicated to singing barbershop harmony. Barbershop is a style of a cappella music in which four different singing parts create vibrant, harmonizing chords. There are approximately 21,000 Sweet Adeline members and 500 choruses throughout the world. Based in Simsbury, Farmington Valley Chorus (FVC) is a chapter of the North Atlantic Region-1. FVC is comprised of about 40 women from all over Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts. Regional competitions are held annually, and the winners of the regional contest proceed to an international competition. The COVID shutdown of March 2020 meant that FVC couldn’t rehearse in person, but live rehearsals resumed in May 2021 after 14 months of weekly Zoom rehearsals. Our chorus strived to stay connected, offering singing, learning, laughs and camaraderie throughout the 2020-21 COVID pandemic. In early March 2020, we were rehearsing with joyful and intense focus with a vocal coach we had hired to prepare us for the 2020 Sweet Adelines International Competition in Louisville, Kentucky. Our outstanding performance in the 2019 regional competition qualified us to compete at internationals. But in mid-March our coaching sessions came to an abrupt halt as concerns about COVID-19 became increasingly serious. Disappointed yet determined,

FV Chorus preps for Sweet Adelines contest


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