INSIDE: POLICE CHIEF CHRIS ARCIERO • TEACHER OF YEAR JESSICA PAPP • THIS MONTH IN CANTON HISTORY (BY DAVID LEFF)
CANTON TODAY A Monthly Magazine — All Canton, All The Time OCTOBER 2018
Focus on Family Inspires Local Artist Jim DeCesare carries torch for arts in Collinsville
Photo by CONNECTICUT HEADSHOTS
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Everything old is new again: Green Door ‘speakeasy’ opens AFTER MONTHS of preparation and a soft opening the last week of August, the Green Door Restaurant has officially launched its bistro and catering hall business at 41 Bridge Street in Collinsville. Located in the same facility as Bridge Street Live, the music and comedy venue, the new restaurant will operate on a fulltime basis as opposed to opening just on show nights. “People have been telling me for years that this riverfront location is too valuable to only have its doors open a couple nights a week,” says restaurant owner Gary Cardillo. “My energy has always been focused on the entertainment side of the venue, notably Bridge Street Live, since first opening our doors nearly eight years ago.” Two area restaurants, Apricot’s and La Trattoria, recently closed. “I’d heard all the horror stories about the restaurant business,” Cardillo says. But he was inspired by former employees of the restaurants that closed and the need for a quality local restaurant: “I like the energy, vision and skills of this youthful team.” 2
OCTOBER 2018 • CANTON TODAY
BUSINESS BEAT Send your milestone business news to Newsroom@CantonTodayMag.com ( launches and business anniversaries: one-year, 5-year, 10-year, etc.)
Green Door manager Kymberly Read has 20 years’ experience in the food service industry, and executive chef Jeremy Lehner is overseeing the kitchen. Read contacted many of her previous staff members about participating in this new venture. “Once we talked and they saw the location, it was easy to convince them to join the team,” she says. Meanwhile, Lehner liked the idea of developing a new menu to fit the “speakeasy” theme of the Green Door and Bridge Street Live. The operating hours for the Green Door Restaurant are Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., with free dinner music on the deck whenever possible from 5:30 to 8 p.m. For more information: www.41bridgestreet.com. For reservations: 860-693-9762.
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CONTENTS COVER STORY – SPOTLIGHT ON THE ARTS
QUOTE OF THE MONTH “My favorite teachers treated me like family— they kept me accountable, celebrated with me on my best days, and loved me through the worst days.” — Jessica Papp Teacher of the Year
4 — FAMILY TIES INSPIRE LOCAL ARTIST Award-winning artist Jim DeCesare and his wife Kelly built a studio of dreams next to their Collinsville home, where family, art and a love of their town intertwine. TOWN ARTS REPORT
9 — A Brief History of the Arts in Canton The legacy of the arts in Canton is notable and varied, writes Town Historian David K. Leff. THIS MONTH IN CANTON HISTORY
11 — Clutch World Series for Canton Man Who got the first pinch hit in World Series history? Town Historian David K. Leff has the rundown. HONORING FIRST RESPONDERS
12 — Q-and-A with Police Chief Arciero Safe to say, there’s never a dull moment for Canton Police Chief Christopher Arciero. ACCENT ON EDUCATORS
14 — Jessica Papp: Teacher of the Year It all begins in kindergarten, and Jessica Papp is committed to giving students the best start possible. CANTON BY THE NUMBERS 7+ Number of miles the Farmington River runs through town
YOUR RESOURCE FOR RECOVERY
Welcome to Canton Today FROM THE PUBLISHER’S DESK WELCOME to the debut issue of Canton Today Magazine — a print-and-digital monthly that focuses totally on Canton, a quintessential New England town that clearly warrants its own news vehicle. It’s been too long since Canton has had its own magazine. All Canton, all the time! We’re aiming for community journalism at its best, and we need your help. Send your community news, calendar items and more to Newsroom@CantonTodayMag.com. For 20-plus years, I’ve worked as a journalist while living in the Farmington Valley. With this magazine launch, I’m glad to see those media and local components converge.
Publisher + Editor-in-Chief — Bruce Deckert • 860-988-1910 Bruce.Deckert@CantonTodayMag.com • www.CantonTodayMag.com Editorial Associate — Kayla Tyson Contributing Writers — David K. Leff, Jessica Papp Photographer — Seshu, Connecticut Headshots • 860-593-0850 www.ConnecticutHeadshots.com • info@ConnecticutHeadshots.com Advertising — Contact the publisher News Deadline — The first of the month for the following month’s issue Oktoberfest Historical Museum, Collinsville Friday, Oct. 5 • 6-9:30 pm Tickets: Wine & Liquor Warehouse, 21+ only
CALENDAR Send your events to: Newsroom@ CantonTodayMag.com
John Fugelsang Bridge Street Live, Collinsville Friday, Oct. 5 • 8 pm Actor, TV personality and comedian
James Montgomery Bridge Street Live, Collinsville Saturday, Oct. 13 • 8 pm One of America’s best blues musicians
Marcia Ball Bridge Street Live, Collinsville Sunday, Oct. 7 • 6 pm Thumbs-up from Rolling Stone, Billboard, more
Oktoberfest Canton Senior Center Thu., Oct. 18 •12-1:30 pm Info: 860-693-5811 Frank Billowitz of Austrian Boys Band
Trick or Trot 5K Crown & Hammer, Collinsville Sat., Oct. 27 • 8:30 am Info: 860-693-8134 Proceeds go to Canton Dollars for Scholars Halloween Parade Main Street, Collinsville Sat., Oct. 27 • 6:30 pm All-time classic costume parade and more Open Mic Night LaSalle, Collinsville Fridays • 6-10:30 pm Info: 860-693-8010 To perform, call ahead or come at 5
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CANTON TODAY • OCTOBER 2018
Artist and teacher Jim DeCesare paints in his Collinsville studio. His students have gone to many prominent art schools.
Photos by CONNECTICUT HEADSHOTS • 860-593-0850 connecticutheadshots.com • firstname.lastname@example.org
Studio of dreams helps DeCesare fulfill calling By Bruce Deckert Canton Today Editor-in-Chief
COVER STORY – SPOTLIGHT ON THE ARTS
COLLINSVILLE AND THE ARTS go hand in hand — like Hartford and insurance, like Walden Pond and Thoreau, like New England and the Patriots. Sure, someone could quibble with the precise accuracy of these comparisons, but you get the point: The arts are an essential part of Canton’s ethos and history. Jim DeCesare is one of the gifted artists who carries the creative baton in Canton today. “This community clearly embraces the arts,” he says, “with well-attended local festivals and activities. The Canton Artists Guild, at the Gallery on the Green, is a wonderful local arts organization. I have participated in exhibitions for my work, as well as for my teen students. I appreciate and support the broad breadth of arts-related groups, galleries and artisans in Collinsville and throughout Canton.” A resident of Collinsville since 2004, DeCesare (pronounced De-CHEZ-a-ray) has garnered a cornucopia of honors. His work has been included in juried exhibitions at the New Britain Museum of
American Art, the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts and the Connecticut Society of Portrait Artists. His oil paintings have been featured at Syracuse University, the Barnes-Franklin Gallery at Tunxis Community College in Farmington, the Silpe Gallery at the University of Hartford, and other exhibition venues. Since 2006, DeCesare has been an adjunct professor of painting and drawing at Tunxis Community College. Since 2008, he has served as an art teacher at The Master’s School, a private school for nursery through grade 12 in West Simsbury, where he is the head of the visual and performing arts department. “The relationship between artist and educator is truly symbiotic,” says DeCesare, who was born and raised in Laconia, N.H., and graduated from Laconia High School. “Art-making feeds the passion in the classroom. While tech-savvy students are increasingly accustomed to quick access of digital tutorials, they have become increasingly captivated by live demonstrations, lively instruction and personal critique.”
OCTOBER 2018 • CANTON TODAY
“It is important for the artist educator to demonstrate the vulnerability, struggle, process and perseverance necessary to succeed.” — Jim DeCesare
In addition to his on-campus teaching, DeCesare regularly mentors teens at his studio in Collinsville, helping them develop scholarship-level art portfolios. “I am relevant in the classroom when I am living out the disciplines I teach,” affirms DeCesare, who is primarily an oil painter, utilizing traditional studio methods and various mediums such as charcoal, pastel and watercolor. “It is important for the artist educator to demonstrate the vulnerability, struggle, process and perseverance necessary to succeed.” DeCesare’s eclectic experience as a teacher has included the following roles: figure drawing instructor at the New Britain Museum of American Art, adjunct instructor of painting at the Hartford Art School, and portrait painting instructor at the West Hartford Art League. Plus, he has given myriad lectures and demonstrations, speaking to students and faculty at various Connecticut colleges on the topic of “Creativity in the Digital Age” — including the University of New Haven, Middlesex Community College and Tunxis Community College. On a shelf in DeCesare’s art studio is a notebook. Not just any notebook, but a book of dreams ... dreams that have largely become reality. This noteworthy notebook is filled with drawings, designs and written plans that date back to the early 2000s — plans for an art studio that would support THE DECESARE FAMILY — Parents Kelly and Jim with (from left) Annie Rose, Luca and Madeline
CANTON TODAY • OCTOBER 2018
Quick Questions for Jim DeCesare Your three favorite artists Very hard to choose only three! Joaquin Sorolla, Anders Zorn, Ilya Repin Your favorite book/story as a child The Lord of the Rings trilogy Your favorite TV show as a child The Muppet Show Your favorite book as an adult The Art Spirit, by Robert Henri Your favorite TV show as an adult Shark Tank Your favorite restaurant/eatery in Canton Giv Coffee, Joe’s Pizza Other favorite businesses in town Larsen Ace Hardware, Benidorm Bikes • Websites DeCesare School of Drawing and Painting www.decesarestudio.com
“Jim is a visionary and can think outside of the box. He is the most amazing problemsolver I have ever known.” — Kelly DeCesare
Jim DeCesare Fine Portrait Painting www.jimdecesare.com TO SEND COMMUNITY NEWS: email@example.com FOR AD INFO: 860-988-1910 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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OCTOBER 2018 • CANTON TODAY
his calling. The notebook contained “a vision for what I wanted to do with my life,” says DeCesare, who lived in Hartford at the time. “I just had to get over the hump of daring to dream against conventional wisdom.” DeCesare’s early drawings of the studio he envisioned are a remarkable near-facsimile of the studio adjacent to his home in Collinsville today. “Our studio construction was, perhaps, the most significant creative endeavor my wife Kelly and I have been a part of, aside from raising three young children,” DeCesare says. Kelly and Jim met in 2000 at an art show — naturally — that he was curating in Hartford for a mutual friend. They were married in 2004 and moved to Collinsville the same year. “We had both lived in downtown Hartford,” he says, “and we fell in love with this quaint, historic town.” Once they found a house with a suitable property, they made the studio a priority together. “After years of painstaking design and labor, we created the most ideal space for art-making we could dream of,” says Jim, who has earned three degrees with highest honors at Syracuse University (master of arts) and the Hartford Art School (master of fine arts, bachelor of fine arts). “The space is an extension of our home. We are blessed to have realized this dream, and we enjoy using the studio to serve students and our community.” From groundbreaking to completion took about five years, roughly from 2005 to 2010, as he recalls. During that time frame, Canton celebrated its bicentennial — the town was established in 1806. “We worked in phases, hiring help when we could, but doing much of the work ourselves,” Jim says.
AN ARTISTIC PARTNERSHIP DeCesare Studio of Drawing and Painting, a portrait-painting studio and private fine arts school, is intended expressly for the creation and exhibition of traditional studio art and for instruction in such art. The historically inspired design, expansive space, large wall of north-facing windows, sizable art library, and vintage studio easels and furniture “offer a truly unique experience,” Jim says. With a ceiling that soars and peaks at about three stories high, the studio manifests a museum feel while also being comfortable and home-like. Large-scale paintings adorn the welcoming walls, and works-in-progress rest on easels like beach-goers on sand chairs awaiting the next rise of the tide. After designing the building, Jim acted as the general contractor for the project. He hired contractors to pour the foundation and frame the structure, but he installed insulation, drywall, windows and doors, and he excavated for the electric, water and sewer lines. Jim learned the construction trades from his father, who was a home builder. Oh, in case you’re wondering — yes, he painted the studio, both the interior and exterior. The array of paintings displayed throughout this studio of dreams indicates that Jim has put the space to good use. “Over the years,” he observes, “I have been developing a substantial body of large-scale oil paintings and drawings that express a sense of place, and that reflect a love of home, family and faith.” Kelly has partnered with her husband in a commitment to the arts since the beginning of their relationship. “I have always appreciated and enjoyed the world of art,” she says. “We met at an art show, and it was an incredible part of who
DAD TACKLE — The DeCesare children apparently have invented a new game: Tackle The Artist. Speaking of games, Jim played baseball in high school, starring as a pitcher. he was that attracted me to him the first moment we met. Early on in our marriage, I took some of his art classes, workshops and demonstrations in the role of student to see what that experience was like and to learn about him as an artist and educator from a different, firsthand perspective. He truly can teach anyone to draw — even me!” Born and raised in Avon, Kelly has a wide-ranging résumé, including experience as an English teacher at Windsor High School, a literacy teacher at Two Rivers Magnet Middle School in East Hartford, an adult ministry assistant at Valley Community Baptist Church in Avon, and a developmental reading and writing adjunct instructor at Capitol Community College in Hartford and Tunxis Community College. Further, she has worked as a freelance writer and editor for various organizations and publications, including the Hartford Courant, Preservation Magazine and the University of Hartford. “As a writer, I am sensitive to nuance and detail and how these pieces affect and construct a larger context and story,” Kelly says. “It is how I see and respond to the world around me.” She notes that Jim is similar in the way he approaches his artwork and creative vision. “This helps us to really listen to and understand one another’s hearts and discern what God’s direction may be in whatever is in front of him or me or us,” Kelly observes. “It helps us communicate about a particular painting he might be working on, a lesson he might be doing in the classroom, a vision one of us might have for our home or work or community,
or all those moments in raising our three amazing children.” Jim and Kelly have two daughters — second-grader Annie Rose (7 years old) and early-kindergartner Madeline (5) — who both attend The Master’s School, where Jim teaches high school students. Their son, Luca, is 3 years old. “Jim is a visionary and can think outside of the box,” says Kelly, who graduated from Avon High School. “He is the most amazing problem-solver I have ever known.” Case in point: Kelly says the 100-year-old barn adjacent to their Collinsville home needed new front posts because of rot. “How would one man ever lift up a huge, 100-year-old barn?” she asks — rhetorically. “Jim’s solution was to saw through the bottom of the rotted post, jack up the barn with a car-jack, attach a new piece to the bottom of the post, and bring it back down.” Kelly recalls a winter break when Jim wasn’t able to paint because their children needed attention that week. Instead of
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CANTON TODAY • OCTOBER 2018
going into the studio, he utilized his imagination via innovative Lego constructions with his kids. “I love how his passion for artmaking and creativity infuses our home and family with unique opportunities in the yard and in our home,” says Kelly, who has a master of fine arts from Goucher College in Baltimore and a bachelor of arts from Central Connecticut State University. Kelly says she wouldn’t want to share “this wild life journey” with anyone else. For the record, Jim says the feeling is mutual. Reflecting on the studio and his work as a painter and teacher, Jim says, “It’s a family thing — without my family and my faith, I have nothing.” Regarding that faith, Jim and Kelly believe in a Creator who is the source of human creativity. While theirs is a traditional Christian worldview, for Jim and Kelly the implication of such a faith isn’t merely traditional — rather, it has a far-reaching impact that permeates the arts and all of life. The DeCesare family attends Valley Simsbury, a small church community affiliated with Valley Community Baptist Church of Avon.
APPRECIATION FOR CANTON CONNECTION The Canton community plays a pivotal role in the life of the DeCesare family. A deep appreciation for the town comes through distinctly. “We enjoy our neighbors, our library, the liveliness and enthusiasm for this community,” Jim says. “We can think of no greater community to raise our family. We especially love the Farmington River.” The family’s home in Collinsville provides close proximity to the river, which “helps our family build a genuine connection to nature and beauty,” he says.
“I am relevant in the classroom when I am living out the disciplines I teach.” — Jim DeCesare
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OCTOBER 2018 • CANTON TODAY
“Every adventure with our kids riding the bike trail or paddling the canoe is a new experience — from seeing bald eagles, great blue herons and egrets fishing, to beavers building dams and trout swimming in the clear water,” Jim says. “I enjoy the freedom, the peace and simplicity the river and this community provide.” Jim was telling a recent visitor about how often his family has seen bald eagles while on the river ... but this was met with a certain skepticism. Part of the itinerary with this visitor was a canoe trip. Soon after they were out on the river — you guessed it — a bald eagle swooped within 10 feet of their heads as they paddled. Jim didn’t say “I told you so” ... but yes, he felt a certain vindication. His love of the Farmington River has inspired a series of large paintings he has been working on for several years that is nearly ready to be exhibited. Kelly, meanwhile, values a both/and that she sees in the fabric of Canton. “What I enjoy most about living in artistic Canton,” she offers, “is a unique duality of casual, small-town community with vibrant innovation and growth.” She likewise relishes the recreation available on the Farmington River and the Farmington River Trail in Collinsville, noting that these pursuits build community and bring neighbors together. “I am proud to raise my children in this town,” she says. “I am appreciating a growth of diversity in town and hope that diversity will only continue to grow.” Regarding the importance of the arts in a community, Jim says, “The arts matter! All towns, municipalities and especially school districts can take a more objective look at the value and benefits of the arts — building the character of a community, fostering innovation, loving neighbors, building real relationships, growing empathy and compassion. Canton does a good job fostering the arts, and there is always room to grow.”
Brief history of the arts in Canton By David K. Leff — Canton Town Historian
CANTON HAS LONG HAD a creative edge. Creativity is the genius loci, or spirit, of this place. For over a century it was expressed in metalwork, by the inventive design and fabrication of tools produced by Collins Company craftsmen. After the company closed in 1966, great spaces and low rents in the old mill buildings attracted artists, among them the Factory Five painters. They led the way for many others — glass blowers, sculptors, jewelers, painters and woodworkers. Elsewhere in town, gifted artists established the Gallery on the Green, which opened in 1960 and is home to the Canton Artists Guild, the longest-running such organization in the state. Drama has been part of the arts scene for 100-plus years, and from the middle of the 20th century we’ve enjoyed the Canton Show Shop, Canton Benefits Productions, Acts Factory Players and Farmington Valley Stage Company. Since the late 19th century, Canton has been home to bands, including Simonds Military Band and the Farmington Valley Band. World-class classical music is offered by the Maxwell Shepherd Memorial Arts Fund; local pubs have long featured a wide range of highly talented local musicians; and Bridge Street Live draws performers from around the country. Canton has also attracted writers, galleries and creative arts organizations. What is it about this small town that generates such artistry? Perhaps it’s in the water, the air or the landscape itself. Regardless, we are blessed to live in a place that inspires creative people. +
STUDENT AND SUPERVISOR KUDOS Violet Kim, a 2016 graduate of The Master’s School, attends the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York City on a scholarship. She tried her hand at art because of the encouragement of a certain teacher. She says the most important lesson she has learned from Mr. DeCesare is that it’s never too late to begin pursuing art. “Since I was young, I was afraid to do art,” Violet says. “I thought it was too late [as a teenager] because there are a lot of people who started when they were young. But he told me that I can do it and I should try it and to not give up. ... He is one of the best teachers I know and a great friend.” Ray Lagan, who has been the Head of School at Master’s
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since January 2015, says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jimâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greatest strength is deep compassion for the students he serves. No doubt, Jim loves art and sees it as a vehicle for all types of students to express â&#x20AC;&#x153;He truly can teach anyone themselves with something other than words. He has a great talent for giving students a nonverbal voice for internal expression.â&#x20AC;? to draw â&#x20AC;&#x201D; even me!â&#x20AC;? Lagan was Masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chief operating officer from 2011-14. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Kelly DeCesare â&#x20AC;&#x153;What Jim brings to The Masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s School is a platform for every student,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When he releases them into the world of art and art appreciation, each student has an opportunity to stand tall in front of their peers and has equal value.â&#x20AC;? Professor Carianne Mack Garside is the arts and media department chairperson at Tunxis Community College and has been Jimâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s supervisor there for the past eight years. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been department colleagues for a dozen years. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jim loves art and he loves mentoring students,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He is so fluent in drawing and painting, his natural prowess always inspires the artists he works with. He also has an incredible wealth of art historical knowledge that he generously shares with heartfelt passion.â&#x20AC;? Garside notes that technical skill alone doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t automatically translate to effective teaching. â&#x20AC;&#x153;What makes Jim so special is that he also loves every single one of his students,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;He really cares about seeing them develop as artists ... and ultimately thrive in Financial Planning & all their endeavors. Because he cares so much and has such a high level of integrity, he Wealth Management creates a warm and welcoming classroom environment for every student ... [and] offers them creative challenges that yield beautiful results.â&#x20AC;? For Jim, art has been a lifelong pursuit, a constant companion since his youth. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have been drawing as long as I can remember,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Picture-making was always a playful escape and part of daily life. My interest was continually sparked by a simple need to feed a very active imagination.â&#x20AC;? Find us on: Naturally, not every student will win a scholarship to an arts university. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s as evident Securities and investment advisory services offered through as the stars in Vincent van Goghâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Starry Nightâ&#x20AC;? that not everyone possesses a keen Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity. artistic gift â&#x20AC;&#x201D; just ask anyone for whom stick figures are a magnum opus â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but Jim contends that everyone is capable of creating art. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I believe drawing is the basis for most visual art â&#x20AC;&#x201D; I also believe I can teach anyone to draw,â&#x20AC;? he says. The difficulty for most people, he explains, is not technical skill but rather embracing a new mindset â&#x20AC;&#x201D; â&#x20AC;&#x153;to view drawing as a means of expression, not a means of facsimile.â&#x20AC;? What is the difference between expression and facsimile? â&#x20AC;&#x153;One is like trying to chisel a masterpiece from marble with a Manicuring â&#x20AC;˘ Gel â&#x20AC;˘ Acrylic white knuckled death-grip,â&#x20AC;? he says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;while the other is like playfully drawing in beach sand with a long stick. If you can tap your foot to Spa Pedicuring â&#x20AC;˘ Shellac/Gelish â&#x20AC;˘ Facial Waxing music, you can learn to draw.â&#x20AC;? +
KELLY HARTZELL Nails of Envy
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Bruce Deckert is the editor-in-chief of Canton Today Magazine and an award-winning journalist. His drawing ability is limited, but then again, heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s never taken a class with Jim DeCesare.
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Canton’s World Series hero By David K. Leff — Canton Town Historian
CANTON HISTORY: OCTOBER 10, 1908 — The first pinch hit in World Series history was stroked by a Canton man. Playing for the Detroit Tigers, Ira Thomas stepped to the plate and singled in the bottom of the ninth off Chicago Cubs pitcher Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown on Oct. 10, 1908. The ramshackle wooden grandstand at Detroit’s Bennett Park vibrated with cheers from over 10,000 fans. Although the Tigers lost the game and the Series to the Cubs, two days later Thomas would double and drive in a run in his team’s only Series victory that year. Born in Ballston Spa, New York, in 1881, Thomas came to Collinsville at age 17. His father was a metal forger who found work with the Collins Company. Thomas played ball in Collinsville and began his professional career in 1902 with a Hartford minor league club. He broke into the majors in 1906. In 10 seasons with three teams, the muscular catcher had a batting average of .242. In addition to his 1908 Series debut, he helped the Philadelphia Athletics win the Fall Classic in 1910 and 1911. According to a 1932 article in The Sporting News, legendary Athletics manager Connie Mack once said, “Ira can get more out of a pitcher than any other catcher I ever knew; what he doesn’t know about handling pitchers isn’t worth knowing.” “Great was the rejoicing in his home town over the splendid work done by him,” The Farmington Valley Herald wrote of Thomas’ performance in the 1910 Series. On Nov. 3, Thomas was
THIS MONTH IN CANTON HISTORY
given a hero’s welcome in Collinsville. A parade included Simonds Military Band and an “abundance of red fire burning” along the line of march. At a town hall reception, Thomas was lauded in speeches and presented with a cut glass pitcher and set of glasses. Dancing went on until midnight. U.S. HISTORY: OCTOBER 1, 1908 — The Ford Motor Company, founded by Henry Ford, unveils the Model T. WORLD HISTORY: OCTOBER 1, 1908 — The first electric railway in the Netherlands opens, linking Rotterdam and The Hague. + David K. Leff is an award-winning author of 10 books, including “The Last Undiscovered Place,” which is about Collinsville. See his work at www.davidkleff.com.
CANTON TODAY • OCTOBER 2018
Police Chief Arciero reflects on career path HONORING FIRST RESPONDERS
Journey has taken him from State Police to Town of Canton Canton Today Staff
FOR CHRISTOPHER ARCIERO, 28 years of service with the Connecticut State Police were the prelude for the role he has held in Canton since September 2010, when he retired from his state post. As Canton’s Chief of Police and Director of Emergency Management, Arciero is virtually assured of never having a dull day — a decidedly different take on the term retirement. Born in New York City, he initially lived in Huntington, Long Island. Since 1966, Arciero has lived in the Farmington Valley. He and his wife raised three children in the Valley, and two grandchildren have since arrived. Arciero, 59, supervises a staff of 15 officers plus other personnel. Following is his Q-and-A with Canton Today:
Canton Police Chief Christopher Arciero has a law degree and has worked as a practicing attorney. A Simsbury High School alum, Class of 1977, he graduated from Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire with a bachelor of science in criminal justice. He served on the Governor’s Security Detail in 1991 and ’92 for Gov. Lowell Weicker and family. Photos by CONNECTICUT HEADSHOTS • 860-593-0850 connecticutheadshots.com • firstname.lastname@example.org
“I HAVE ALWAYS ENJOYED CHALLENGES AND COMPETITION.” — Chris Arciero
Canton Today Magazine: What motivated you to pursue a career as a police officer? Christopher Arciero: I have always enjoyed challenges and competition. As such, the youthful pursuit of those ideals transitioned from sports and activities into a general concern for other people’s safety and security. A career in law enforcement allowed me to be on the front lines of such a meaningful objective. CTM: What is the most satisfying aspect of your work as Canton Police Chief? Arciero: On a daily basis, having the ability to interact with a very proud group of residents, business owners, religious organizations, emergency service providers (Fire, EMS and Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT) and committed town officials and employees who genuinely care about the future of Canton. I am especially honored to be part of a law enforcement agency, from officers to dispatchers to administrative staff, who have dedicated their lives to provide for the safety and security of people and property. CTM: What is the most challenging aspect
OCTOBER 2018 • CANTON TODAY
“ONCE I BECAME A POLICE OFFICER, I STOPPED WATCHING [TV] POLICE DRAMAS. REAL POLICE WORK PROVIDES ENOUGH DRAMA.” — Chris Arciero of your work as Police Chief, and how are you able to meet that challenge? Arciero: Every day there is a different safety concern that resonates with individuals or the community as a whole. It is that variety that keeps me so motivated, vested and committed to this profession. CTM: What was your law enforcement experience prior to Canton? Arciero: I served with the Connecticut State Police for 28 years and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. I held the additional ranks of Trooper, Sergeant, Lieutenant and Major. I had patrol assignments at several state police troops. I was an instructor at the State Police training academy, Central District Headquarters, Governor’s Security, Commissioner’s Staff, and Legal Affairs and Labor Relations. CTM: Please share a brief anecdote from
Chief Arciero must be front and center every day, ready to make command decisions. your career that provides a window into your work in law enforcement. Arciero: There isn’t one event that defines my career. The varied assignments, programs and incidents I have been involved with, while singularly unique, have collectively keep me passionate about this profession every day for the last 36 years.
CTM: Of the TV crime dramas you’ve watched, which best reflects police work? Arciero: Growing up, I was a fan of “Adam-12.” Once I became a police officer, I stopped watching police dramas. Real police work provides enough drama without having to resort to the makebelieve of television. +
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CANTON TODAY • OCTOBER 2018
Q-and-A with Teacher of Year Jessica Papp CTM: Who were your favorite teachers from your school days? Papp: My favorite teachers were always the ones who could see my potential, even when I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. My favorite teachers kept things relevant, fun and interesting. My favorite teachers treated me like family â&#x20AC;&#x201D; they kept me accountable, celebrated with me on my best days, and loved me through the worst days.
JESSICA PAPP, a kindergarten teacher at Cherry Brook Primary School, has been named Canton Teacher of the Year for 2018-19. She began her full-time teaching career in 2008 in Torrington as a longterm kindergarten substitute. In 2010, she was hired to pilot Cherry Brookâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first extended-day kindergarten, a full-day class of 16 students â&#x20AC;&#x201D; eight from the Open Choice program and eight from Canton. The following year, she started Cherry Brookâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first traditional extended-day kindergarten classroom. Papp, who turns 36 in early October, earned a master of science in elementary education in 2008 from the University of Bridgeport. She received bachelor of arts degrees in journalism and English (double major) from UConn in 2004. She lives in Torrington with her husband James and their two children, Julianna (almost 5) and James Thomas (2.5). Following is her Q-and-A with Canton Today: Canton Today Magazine: Where were you born and raised? Jessica Papp: I was born in Torrington. I grew up in Torrington and in Litchfield, splitting time between two homes. I was very lucky to have so many people who loved me, especially my dad, my mom and my stepfather, and my three brothers.
Photo courtesy of Jessica Papp
Canton Today Staff
ACCENT ON EDUCATORS CTM: What prompted you to pursue a career as an educator? Papp: As a child, I loved to play teacher. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d force my brothers to do schoolwork and wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t allow them to leave until I rang the school bell. As I grew older, however, I realized that I also had a passion for writing. School was an old friend, writing was a new love. Before long I had packed away any vestiges of playing school and I began to write. In college I found success as an opinion writer but realized that I rarely saw the direct impact of my work.
I looked to my greatest role models for inspiration. My mother, a biology and special education teacher. My father, a social worker. My stepdad, a leader and
Ę&#x201C; coach. My uncle, a humanitarian. My ÂśĂ&#x192;Ă&#x201E;Ă&#x20AC;ÂżÂ˛Â˝ÂşĂ&#x2039;ÂśÂľ grandmother, a mentor. I asked myself, Ă&#x192;Ă&#x20AC;ÂžĂ&#x20AC;Ă&#x201E; what did they all have in common?
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OCTOBER 2018 â&#x20AC;˘ CANTON TODAY
They all â&#x20AC;&#x153;got stuff done.â&#x20AC;? They put the rubber to the road. They didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stand on the sidelines and lament about what was wrong with their country, city or community. They got up and got busy changing the world. They were each leaving a real legacy. I knew that I also wanted to change the world. So I dusted off my old school bell and never looked back. I am able to put my creativity to use each and every day in teaching. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m able to ignite a spark of knowledge within my students and watch as it grows and changes within them. And, although my target audience has changed, I can now see my own legacy taking shape within in the minds and hearts of my young students.
CTM: What are the most important attributes for an educator to possess? Papp: The ability to see the very best inside each child, and the willingness to look past the undesirable behaviors or actions that a child may display. They need to know that you are seeing them fully, and that you love and respect them. CTM: What is the most rewarding aspect of your work as a teacher? Papp: I love seeing a child grow and change socially and emotionally throughout the year. Academics are important as well, of course, but seeing a child love school, speak with ease, and walk with confidence by the end of the year is the most rewarding part of my job. CTM: What is the biggest obstacle you face as a teacher, and how are you able to overcome it? Papp: My biggest obstacle in teaching is fear. My own personal fear that I will somehow let my students down. Also, the tangible fear that someday I will be the only thing that stands between my students and danger. I know all teachers fear that. But I am certain that, like the many brave teachers we have read about in the past decade, I would hope to do what is best for my students. Hopefully that day will never come. ... I teach my students what it feels like to be loved unconditionally, to feel pride in themselves, and to accept and embrace the many differences of those around us. CTM: What is your reaction to being named Canton Teacher of the Year? Papp: It is such an honor. To be chosen to be the spokesperson for this group of the best teachers in the state â&#x20AC;&#x201D; it is an absolute honor. And I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be prouder to work in the Canton Public Schools. Favorite book as a child: Bridge to Terabithia Favorite books as an adult: The Harry Potter series +
Surprising lesson on first day of school Something unforeseen came up â&#x20AC;&#x201D; literally â&#x20AC;&#x201D; on her first day in Canton By Jessica Papp Kindergarten Teacher â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Cherry Brook School
Photo courtesy of Jessica Papp
Jessica Papp has been named the Canton Teacher of the Year for 2018-19. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t miss her Q-and-A on page 14. On my very first day of school at Cherry Brook Primary School, I waited outside to greet my new students. I watched as buses came and went and students entered the building, some skipping, others doing the slow march that only happens on the first day back from summer. I watched, standing in my favorite polka-dot dress and my back-to-school fancy shoes, and I waited. And waited. Finally, nearly an hour after it was expected to arrive, we heard the distinct rumble of a big yellow bus turning onto the small bridge nearby. I felt a sudden rush of excitement, fear and nervousness as the half-empty bus from Hartford approached. I had taught kindergarten before, but this program I was hired to create was brand-new â&#x20AC;&#x201D; I felt the gravity of responsibility start to descend on my shoulders. As the doors creaked open, students began to stand slowly, many of them just waking up after the long journey to our school. Most had been on the bus for over two hours. The older kids thundered down the stairs first, then the younger ones. Finally, the kindergarten kids, wide eyes still filled with dreams, began to walk down the stairs. I knelt down to greet them, sand pressed into my knees, and my heart began to soar. These beautiful children were here, they were safe, and they were mine to look after. As I stood to escort them into the building, the bus driver alerted Principal Andy Robbin and me that there was one more. A little boy was sitting in the front bus seat, feet swinging, head down. He was so small you could barely see him when looking up into the doorway. I could see the tears filling his eyes as he walked down the steps. He must be nervous, I thought, and I reached back to take his hand as we stepped down off the bus. And thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s when it hit me. The warm slap of vomit down the back of my dress, waist
SOCK SPECTACULAR â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Jessica Papp used a Dr. Seuss classic as an opportunity for a creative sock display. high and dripping into my new school shoes. It turns out that orange juice, cereal and two hours of a bumpy bus ride did not agree with my new little buddy. I froze and turned slowly to see my new boss looking at me with his eyebrows raised, a huge smile spreading across his face â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and the little boy standing next to him, more shocked than we were. The bus driver, laughing, tossed me a roll of paper towels, and I cleaned myself up as quickly as I could. I raced to catch up to my students as they walked into Cherry Brook School for the first time. And thus, I began my teaching career here in Canton. How appropriate to begin this way. It reminded me to stop taking myself so seriously, to laugh at the ridiculous moments, to realize that no matter how carefully we plan something, it can be a complete disaster and still wind up so much better than we thought. And it instantly helped me learn a very important lesson â&#x20AC;&#x201D; always keep a pair of backup shoes under your desk. +
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