Canton Today Magazine • December 2018

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CANTON TODAY A Monthly Magazine — All Canton, All The Time DECEMBER 2018

Photo by Connecticut Headshots

Christmas in Collinsville: A Brief History Business Star Kathy Taylor Leads the Holiday Brigade INSIDE: CIS PRINCIPAL KEVIN HANLON • FIREFIGHTER/EMT GERRY HOLLAND • DAVID LEFF: THIS MONTH IN HISTORY



Lost & Found: Christmas Wonder




IS CHRISTMAS your favorite time of year? I remember sensing the wonder and excitement of the holidays when I was young — the lights around town, decorating the tree, A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph on TV, Jingle Bells on the radio and Handel’s Messiah at church. Perhaps I’ve lost some of that wonder ... no, actually, I have. If you’re in the same boat, the holiday gurus say we can find it again by pausing amid the holiday rush and trumping our everyday anxiety with gratitude ... because as we face life’s frustrations, there is virtually always something to be grateful for. Another antidote for the holiday blues is to reach out to someone who is in a difficult circumstance this Christmas. For some practical ways to do so in Canton, see our Community Intel section on page 14. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and yours! +


Bruce Deckert • Publisher + Editor-in-Chief 860-988-1910 •

Honored as a Star of the Town, Kathy Taylor spreads the holiday cheer by organizing one of Canton’s biggest annual events: Christmas in Collinsville.

Find the digital edition of Canton Today Magazine at


7 — Kevin Hanlon Grateful for CIS Teachers

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Canton Intermediate Principal Kevin Hanlon: “We ask our teachers ... to keep on growing and learning.”

9 — Pearl Harbor Attack Killed Canton Man

Editorial Associate — Kayla Tyson Contributing Writer — David K. Leff Photographer — Seshu, Connecticut Headshots • 860-593-0850 •

John K. Luntta was the first Farmington Valley man to be killed in WWII, writes Town Historian David Leff.

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10 — Volunteer EMT/Firefighter Answers Call Gerry Holland says he appreciates the camaraderie of fellow volunteers as he serves the town.

“Christmas in Collinsville gives our Canton community and the greater community around Canton


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our picturesque town.” — Bob Bessel • Canton EDA chair


Largest attendance ever at Christmas in Collinsville

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In 2002, Kathy Taylor began working as the property manager for @ Collinsville LLC, owner of the former axe factory.

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A Brief History of Christmas in Collinsville Honored as a Star of the Town, Kathy Taylor leads the holiday brigade By Bruce Deckert Canton Today Editor-in-Chief

For details on more holiday events, see the Calendar on page 14

CHRISTMAS AT the White House. Christmas in Boston or New York. Christmas in Hartford at Constitution Plaza. All have featured worthy celebrations. But for many residents of Canton, their favorite “The streets holiday destination is closer to home: Christmas in of Collinsville Collinsville. Word has it that even Christmas at the North Pole can’t compare. become truly The lead organizer — the chief elf, if you will — is magical — to Collinsville resident Kathy Taylor. Taylor and some fellow elves introduced Christmas see children in Collinsville more than a decade ago. In September 2007, Collinsville was lauded as one of the “10 Coolest experience this Small Towns in America” by Budget Travel magazine. for the first In December 2007, the inaugural Christmas in time is a Collinsville transpired — and made the town even cooler. A group of Collinsville merchants initiated real treat.” the event along with Taylor: Carol Ackerman of Carol — Bob Bessel & Company, Elaine Cunningham of Antiques on the Farmington, Shirley Scarpino of the Village Sweet 4



Shoppe and Ann Wincze of Blumen Laden. Scarpino’s business had been in Riverton, and when she moved to Collinsville she brought with her the experience of a Riverton Christmas event that helped people revisit New England holiday celebrations of the past via a horse-drawn carriage ride, puppet show and wine tasting. While Scarpino’s sweet shop closed in 2017, she still has a location at Antiques on the Farmington in the former axe factory and remains a faithful member of the Christmas in Collinsville planning team. Planning for the 2018 festival began in August. Taylor explains that “we modeled some of the events after Riverton” — such as the horse-drawn carriage — but decided on a champagne walk instead of a wine tasting. The champagne walk takes patrons to various Collinsville shops for libations and holiday food. A map of participating businesses will be available

online at, but if you don’t have a map, Taylor says “the businesses with lights on” are almost certainly part of the festivities. The champagne walk essentially kicks off Christmas in Collinsville on Friday, Dec. 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. The two-day celebration — slated for Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7-8 — is chock-full of an assortment of activities for the young, the old and the in-between.

A BACK-IN-TIME CHRISTMAS What is the primary goal of Christmas in Collinsville? That’s simple, Taylor says: “To introduce people to the wonderful back-in-time atmosphere of downtown Collinsville and get them into the unique shops and restaurants — and hoping they will come back and visit!” Taylor notes that Christmas is her favorite holiday, “except for trying to buy presents in time,” she quips. “I love the lights.” Attendance at Christmas in Collinsville is free, but to partake of the champagne and holiday goodies, the cost is either $20 or $25 — $25 to purchase a specially engraved champagne glass, or $20 to purchase a ribbon for those who bring a champagne glass from a previous year. The glasses and ribbons serve as tickets at the participating shops. In the event’s earlier years, a charm ornament was utilized instead of a ribbon. The champagne glasses are produced by New Hartford-based Little Brook Engraving, a member of the Canton Chamber of Commerce. “Each retail store and business in Collinsville that wants to be involved can participate in the champagne walk and other activities,” says Taylor, who in November received the 2018 Service to the Business Community award at the Canton Chamber’s annual Stars of the Town gala. Asked about her favorite part of Christmas in Collinsville, Taylor says, “I love to see the horse-drawn carriage rides going down Main Street and the wonderful camaraderie that people have walking along the streets of Collinsville during the champagne walk.” Bob Bessel, chair of Canton’s Economic Development Agency, observes that the horse-drawn carriage is a “real-life poster of 19th century holidays.” “Combined with the luminaries placed every 8 feet on the sidewalk, the streets of Collinsville become truly magical,” he says. “To see children experience this for the first time is a real treat.”

A GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING Bessel outlines a kaleidoscope of benefits for Canton that are connected with Christmas in Collinsville. The primary benefit: “Christmas in Collinsville gives our Canton community and the greater community around Canton an opportunity to enjoy and explore our picturesque town,” he says. “The event has become one of the anchors in our outreach efforts. It stimulates tourism during and after the event, which benefits businesses and contributes to Canton’s reputation as a destination for fun, history and new experiences.” Bessel is also the chair of Canton Main Street, which provides insurance and online payment processing for Christmas in Collinsville and pays for an additional police officer at the event. Main Street is a nonprofit dedicated to the town’s economic and cultural vitality. He sees further perks associated with this holiday happening.

Kudos for Kathy: ‘It doesn’t just happen’ THE CANTON Chamber of Commerce honored Kathy Taylor, organizer extraordinaire for Christmas in Collinsville, with its 2018 Service to the Business Community award at the annual Stars of the Town event in November. “I consider it a real honor,” Taylor says. “I didn’t have an inkling. I didn’t really need it, but it’s nice to be recognized.” Taylor knows better than most all the behind-the-scenes details that go hand in hand with planning an event such as Christmas in Collinsville. “It doesn’t just happen,” says Taylor, who was born in Boston and raised in Weymouth, Mass. A Collinsville resident, she moved to town in October. Taylor, who lived in Burlington from 1987 until her move, is the property manager for @ Collinsville LLC, which owns the former axe factory buildings that are now office space. “Kathy knows the axe factory inside and out,” says James “Rusty” Tilney, principal of @ Collinsville LLC. “It is a challenging job, and she is on top of everything that needs to be done. She also volunteers ... at the [Historical] Museum, where she brings energy and expertise. She brings these qualities and more to the Merchants Association to promote local businesses. These qualities make her well-qualified to receive [this award].” Taylor, 65, counts LaSalle Market, Saybrook Fish House and the Historical Museum among her favorite spots in Canton. “The chamber board recognizes the positive impact Kathy has had on the merchants and businesses in Collinsville for many years,” says Gary Roman, chamber president and president/CEO of Collinsville Savings. “The Chamber applauds her impact on our business community ... [and its] financial vitality.” +

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“Christmas in Collinsville introduces the town to people who might never have heard of Canton,” he notes. “Many of these visitors come back to eat, shop, explore the history, bike on our trails or paddle on the Farmington River. On social media, attendees recommend Christmas in Collinsville to their friends and family, further building Canton’s audience and reputation.” Gary Miller, executive director of the Canton Chamber of Commerce, has been a Canton resident for a quarter century and thus has seen the town both with and without Christmas in Collinsville. He vouches for the merit of the event. “Christmas in Collinsville showcases all the participating businesses in Collinsville,” Miller says. “The mood is always extremely festive each year. ... Each business features something

“I love to see the horse-drawn carriage rides going down Main Street and the wonderful camaraderie that people have walking along the streets of Collinsville.” — Kathy Taylor slightly different to welcome visitors and offer a bit of Christmas cheer. ... The event always brings out a large crowd of revelers from far and wide. Collecting the new champagne glass or charm each year has become a tradition.” The biggest turnout for the event, Taylor says, was about 1,200 people, and the average attendance has been about 750. The most challenging aspect of planning Christmas in Collinsville? Again, that’s simple. Taylor explains: “Hoping for good weather — and that we will not run out of champagne glasses or ribbons!” Ten percent of the event’s proceeds go to charity — specifically, to Interval House, a Hartford-based nonprofit that helps those impacted by domestic violence. But a signature event of Christmas in Collinsville goes beyond: The 11th annual Charity Craft Fair will hold a drawing for various donated items and gift certificates and give 100% of the sales to Interval House, while also collecting items for the Canton Food Bank. “Over the years we have donated over $8,000 to Interval House and hundreds (maybe over 1,000) pounds of food donations,” says craft fair organizer Bethany Kendrick. Meanwhile, the Gallery of Trees will wrap up during Christmas in Collinsville weekend. A fundraiser for the Canton

CHIEF ELF — Kathy Taylor has no formal title related to her decade of work with Christmas in Collinsville, but her informal title can be summed up in two words.

Historical Museum’s building fund, the Gallery of Trees began in mid-November and closes shop on Sunday, Dec. 9. “It is separate [from Christmas in Collinsville] ... but is a wonderful addition to our festivities,” says Taylor, who is the property manager for @ Collinsville LLC, which owns the former axe factory in Collinsville that is now office space. “Our event, especially the champagne walk, brings lots of people through the museum as they’re about to close out the Gallery of Trees.” Bessel underscores that “Christmas in Collinsville would not exist without the vision and persistent efforts” of Taylor and the other organizers. “They made it happen years ago when Shirley [Scarpino] moved her Sweet Shoppe from Riverton to Collinsville.” It’s clear that Santa’s workshop is alive and well in the Town of Canton. And if the Grinch stole Christmas in Canton, surely the organizers of Christmas in Collinsville would lead the charge to take it back. + Christmas in Collinsville sked — For more on Kathy Taylor’s Star of the Town honor, see page 5. Call to schedule your FREE tour and 30-minute fitness consultation 250 Albany Turnpike


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IN THE FLOW OF LEARNING Canton Intermediate principal Kevin Hanlon and his family enjoy exploring the Farmington River via Collinsville Canoe and Kayak. Other favorite spots in town include LaSalle Market and the Collinsville Artisan Co-op.

Photos by Connecticut Headshots • 860-593-0850 •


Kevin Hanlon: Teachers help make CIS ‘an incredible place’ Canton Today Staff

KEVIN J. HANLON’S LIFE AND CAREER have taken him on a journey across the Northeast — from Greater Philadelphia to Vermont to Connecticut. Hanlon, 43, took on the role of Canton Intermediate School principal in February 2012. Before that, he served as a teacher and administrator in Connecticut and Vermont. In a wide-ranging Q-and-A, he discusses his appreciation for Canton Intermediate teachers and staff, the greatest challenge facing youngsters today, his favorite book as a child, and more ... read on: CTM: Where were you born and raised? What is your work and career experience?


Kevin Hanlon: I was born and raised outside of Philadelphia, and went to college at Penn State University and completed a master’s of education at Lehigh. I taught fourth grade for a few years at an elementary school in a town near where I grew up. My family then spent four years in Vermont, where I taught middle school math and science and was also a dean of students, before moving to West Hartford in the summer of 2004. I have been a teacher and administrator in Connecticut since then, and also completed a sixth-year certificate in Educational Leadership at UConn. CTM: What do you enjoy most about being principal of Canton Intermediate School? Hanlon: CIS is such a dynamic school! There are so many good things happening with and for students. It is such a joy to see the

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students light up with the experiences they have inside and outside of the classroom. I especially appreciate watching the growth in our sixth-grade students. There is a moment in time at some point in the school year where, as an educator, you know the students are ready for their next steps beyond the walls of CIS. For most students, we have watched and been part of that growth and journey here at CIS for nearly three years, and it is uplifting to know the growth they have shown and what they have been able to accomplish. CTM: What aspects of Canton Intermediate are you most proud of? Hanlon: Our teachers and staff at CIS are simply amazing, and our students and families are fortunate to have such a dedicated, effective and passionate team of adults helping to make each child’s school

“Our teachers and staff at CIS are simply amazing.” — Kevin Hanlon experience positive and meaningful. We ask our teachers and staff to instruct in ways that will help every student reach high academic standards. We ask our teachers and staff to create a welcoming and safe environment. We ask our teachers and staff to keep in excellent partnership and communication with families. We ask our teachers and staff to always stay positive. We ask our teachers and staff to keep on growing and learning themselves. We ask our BENCHMARK INTANGIBLES — “We stay focused on helping [students] teachers and staff to be tuned in to the social and be kind and compassionate individuals,” says CIS Principal Kevin Hanlon. emotional well-being of each and every student. We ask, and they do. Each and every day. In some pretty Hanlon: It is a complex world, and we are focused on being sure incredible ways. I could not be more proud and thankful for the that students not only have the academic skills to be successful teachers and staff we have here. When you combine their efforts beyond our schools, but also the skills to navigate the complex with supportive and involved families and some pretty awesome world in front of them. We stay focused on helping them be kind students, it’s no wonder CIS is such an incredible place. and compassionate individuals. We help them grow as problem CTM: Which aspect of Canton Intermediate would you like to solvers and learn to persevere through challenges. We help them see improve? to be able to communicate well with others. We help them to try Hanlon: Our next step as a school is really to continue to refine to find and bring out the best in themselves. the ways we try to reach and support each and every student. CTM: Favorite spots in Canton — restaurants, recreation, etc.? That is always our challenge and goal. Hanlon: My family, including my wife, Elizabeth, and children, CTM: What is the greatest challenge facing young students Grace, Adam, and Nora, love to head to Collinsville. A good today? How can the CIS staff help students meet that challenge? afternoon there would include some paddle boarding on the Farmington River with a rental from Collinsville Canoe and “Direct Access to Your Health” Kayak. We will then usually head up to LaSalle Market for some delicious food, and a chance to check out the local artists on display. (Full disclosure: My wife sometimes has her photography hanging there.) We’ll round out the afternoon by walking the nearby shops, including a stop at the Collinsville Artisan Co-Op. 860-679-0430 CTM: Favorite book as a child? Hanlon: I often share the story of my favorite book as a child Staff dedicated to the rehabilitation and well-being of our patients in a professional and supportive environment. with the students at CIS. It was Ender’s Game, and I read it when I was in sixth grade. It was the first time I really read a 302 West Main Street, Suite 204, Avon, CT 06001 book because I loved it and couldn’t put it down, not just because NEW LOCATION – 61 Maple Avenue, Canton, CT 06019 I had to for school. While I am sure my teachers and parents Sports Medicine | Orthopedic Medicine | Dance Medicine would have loved for this moment to be earlier in my life, it really Vestibular Therapy | Neurological Rehab | Pilates | Massage Therapy opened up a whole new world to me as a reader! + 8


Pearl Harbor attack killed Canton man Luntta was first man from Farmington Valley to be killed in WWII By David K. Leff — Canton Town Historian

CANTON HISTORY: DECEMBER 7, 1941 — Canton’s John K. Luntta, Navy seaman first class, was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while aboard the battleship USS Nevada. He was the first man from the Farmington Valley killed during World War II. Luntta grew up on East Hill, where his father J. Einar Luntta, a native of Finland, was a farmer. Einar, described by the Farmington Valley Herald as “a direct-eyed, genial character,” was also a polisher in the Collins Company knife handling department and served on the Canton Board of Selectmen. John had left his Canton home shortly after enlisting in 1939, right after turning 18. His brothers Hans and Elmer were also in the Navy at Pearl Harbor during the attack. Their younger brother Eero would join the Navy at age 17 in 1943. When word came of John’s death, Einar was worried that Hans might also have been killed since he was thought to be on the same ship. It wasn’t until late February that an anxiety-

THIS MONTH IN CANTON HISTORY ridden Einar received a letter from Hans indicating that he was well. Elmer, who was on shore duty, also sent a letter that buoyed his father’s spirits. Einar had last seen his three older boys in August 1941, after about a four-year absence. With his youngest son, Einar traveled to California, where John and Hans were on leave from Pearl Harbor. On his return trip he visited Washington, where Elmer was attending military radio school. John was interred at Nuuanu Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1941. In 1947, his body was sent home for burial in the Village Cemetery in Collinsville. A military funeral was conducted by the Albert E. Johnson American Legion Post. John K. Luntta is listed among the casualties on a plaque at the National Park Service’s visitor center at Pearl Harbor. U.S. HISTORY: DECEMBER 8, 1941 — Randall “Duke” Cunningham, a U.S. Navy fighter pilot and Congressman, was born Los Angeles. WORLD HISTORY: DECEMBER 1, 1941 — The British cruiser Devonshire sank the German sub Python. + David K. Leff is an award-winning author of 10 books, including “The Last Undiscovered Place,” which is about Collinsville. See his work at



Gerry Holland answers call: ‘If not you, then who?’ Longtime EMT adds firefighter to volunteer résumé in 2018


Canton Today Staff



Photo courtesy of Gerry Holland

INSPIRED IN PART by his parents’ sense of civic commitment, Gerry Holland has served with the Canton Volunteer Fire & EMS Department for nearly a dozen years. A Collinsville resident, Holland began serving as an EMT in 2007 and added firefighter to his volunteer résumé in August 2018. He and his wife Lisa, who have three daughters, moved to Canton in 2004. “My wife and daughters have all been extremely supportive throughout my time with the Town of Canton Fire & EMS,” he says. For his day job, Holland works in construction management as vice president of estimating and marketing at Bartlett Brainard Eacott in Bloomfield. Holland, 58, was born on Long Island, New York, and raised in Darien, Connecticut. Role with Canton Volunteer Fire & EMS Department: EMT/Firefighter Canton Today Magazine: What motivated you to serve with the Volunteer Fire & EMS Department? Holland: Answering the question “If not you, then who?” — and it’s a great way to connect with the community. We live in a relatively small town that relies on these critical volunteer services. As the town demographics have changed and fewer people choose to volunteer, I felt a strong need to help support our community. By their example of volunteering, my parents instilled a sense of civic duty and giving back in me and my siblings. It’s just the right thing to do. Canton Today Magazine: What is the most satisfying aspect of your work with the department? Holland: The teamwork and camaraderie of working with the other EMTs and firefighters. We get excellent training, have firstrate equipment and have great leadership. As a new firefighter, I am learning new skills at every drill. I knew from the past decade of experiences in EMS that there was a lot to learn on the fire side of the operations. Now that I’ve decided to volunteer with fire, I am amazed at just how much there is to learn. It’s a great challenge. Everyone has been extremely supportive. ... There’s a lot to it but everything happens in order, and the more experienced firefighters always find a way to safely engage the newer volunteers.

Volunteer EMT/Firefighter Gerry Holland Canton Today Magazine: What is the most challenging aspect of your work with the department, and how do you meet that challenge? Holland: Unfortunately, we see people at their worst moments. During the time that we are either on scene or transporting, people are relying on our skills, resources and professionalism. When things in their lives are going bad, we need to be calm and organized to be effective. We train for the worst so that if/when it happens we are prepared to respond. Our leadership is very proactive in providing opportunities throughout the year for us to get additional training, whether it is a guest instructor or training provided at another location. Canton Today Magazine: What is your most memorable call with the department? Holland: A motor vehicle accident a couple years ago involving a flatbed wrecker impacting a small SUV broadside. It was an all-hands-on-deck call that involved 30 first responders from fire, EMS, fire police, Canton police, helicopter transport and DPW. It was phenomenal to see the speed and efficiency with which a 17-year-old girl was stabilized, Life Star was notified, the roof cut was off of the vehicle, and the girl was extricated. The skill of our firefighters was outstanding. Rapid assessment of the scene, vehicle and patient was remarkable. In minutes firefighters had a plan to get [EMTs] access to the girl, who was pinned by the dashboard with the car door pushed in over a foot into her seat area, and safely extricated for movement to the waiting helicopter. She survived because of the teamwork. That night, I gained a whole new respect for the skills and composure of [our] firefighters ... many of whom are 30 years my junior but years beyond in their talents and commitment to excellence.

Canton author finds humor in bodily functions CANTON AUTHOR Julia Garstecki has published 30-plus books, mainly for the education market, and she completed her first trade books this year — a series with Quarto Children’s Books. The three-book Disgusting Habits series launched in November with Pick, Spit & Scratch, about humorous and disgusting habits of people. The second book — Sniff, Lick & Scratch, about humorous and disgusting habits of animals — is scheduled for release in December. The third book, Burp, Spit & Fart, is slated for April. Another project, Jar Science, is on the docket for August and will include Canton children as models. Garstecki has a book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Blue Back Square in West Hartford on Dec. 15. She hopes to hold an event soon at the Canton Public Library. Garstecki is scheduled to visit Canton Intermediate School in December to speak to sixth-graders about using artifacts to drive research. The goal of the session is to use objects to examine nonfiction, pose more questions, research the information behind the artifacts, and add detail to writing. She has visited CIS for the past three years in grades 4 and 5 to help students enhance their writing — and a few young writers have been published after a workshop designed by Garstecki and CIS librarian Kelly Conway. Further, some students helped Garstecki write and edit a book a few years ago, The Complete Guide to the Revolutionary War. “It was fun to have them help,” says Garstecki, who has a bachelor’s degree (elementary ed) from Michigan State University, a master’s degree from SUNY Fredonia and a special ed degree from Buffalo State University. “The book I am currently working on is fun as well because it is a science activity book.”

Garstecki has done two kinds of school visits: author visits and writing workshops. “During author visits, I talk about my role as a nonfiction author as well as the publishing process in general,” she says. “The goal of these visits is to explain to students how I carefully research my books and interact with an editor, much like they do for their writing courses. It takes them through the entire writing process, with an emphasis on the writer/editor revision relationship.” In the other visit format, Garstecki and Conway explain the publishing process and provide opportunities for student authors to polish their writing pieces. Then the mentors show students where they can submit their work. Garstecki has also followed up with students during their lunch period. “I’ve helped them look at publications accepting student work,” she says. “We even had a few students get published. Our goal there was to help budding writers recognize how many different kinds of writing opportunities exist for them right now, even at their young age.” Garstecki says her favorite assignment is to help fifth-grade students with a memoir project, Mining Memories — a guided approach that helps students develop ideas for their memoir unit. “It was such fun,” she says. “By the time this session was over, most students had great ideas and images to include in their project.” Garstecki’s teaching résumé is diverse. Before moving to Connecticut, she was a grades 4, 5 and 6 teacher as well as an instructor at SUNY Fredonia (N.Y.) in the College of Education and at Jamestown (N.Y.) Community College. She currently teaches English at Goodwin College in East Hartford. + Info: •

Canton Today Magazine: Please share a brief anecdote that provides a snapshot of your work in the fire and EMS world. Holland: My very first shift on EMS, while still in training as a new EMT, I felt a surge of adrenaline as that first call came across the radio. I was just a minute away from the station. When I got there, I realized it was the nightly 6 p.m. radio check! Live and learn. Canton Today Magazine: Of the movies or TV dramas you’ve seen about fire/EMS departments, which one comes closest to the real deal? Holland: Oh, come on, that’s a hanging curve ball — “Emergency!” was a TV show in the 1970s. Yes, a long time ago!

Believe it or not, it made an impression, and as I look back on it I think they portrayed the roles well. Cool, calm, professional and compassionate — it was a great message then and now. Other volunteer experience: National Ski Patrol – Patroller at Ski Sundown Bonus Comment: I’ve heard some people question, “Why does the fire department roll out such big equipment for seemingly small vehicle accidents?” They are there to provide physical protection and safety for the first responders working the scene. After responding to accidents on Routes 44, 202, 179 and others, I can tell you it is reassuring to know that the fire trucks and fire police are there! Please slow down for their safety too. +

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Trading Post celebrates 35 years Special to Canton Today Magazine

“We still remain committed to our brick and mortar roots.” — Owner Bill Buell

jewelry. In the process, Trading Post developed a strong relationship with the Farmington Valley community and beyond. In 2000 Trading Post moved into a larger space and began selling and renting DVDs, but the LPs had to go to make room. The books also had to be scaled back because mass merchandisers began scooping up much of the book business. “May all those independent bookstores we used to know and love rest in peace,” Buell says. Trading Post had already diversified enough to adapt to new markets and the coming of the internet. Cassettes likewise took a back seat, but while they’re not prominently displayed today, the store still has a good new and used selection. Also in 2000, Buell opened a second store, Eastern Accents, and filled it with wood and stone carvings, folk and primitive art, furniture, clothing and jewelry that he had collected from Thailand, Nepal and Bali, Indonesia. In August 2006, he bought a three-unit building in the Pine Meadow section of New Hartford and moved Eastern Accents there, where it stands today. Eventually, the LPs made their way back into the Trading Post portfolio — thanks to renewed interest in “that funky old media,” Buell notes. In early 2008, 12

he began negotiations to buy the nearby George Fillmore Goldsmith building, and in April ‘09 Trading Post moved in. The store has increased its online sales and plans to continue that trend, but Buell affirms that “we still remain committed to our brick and mortar roots ... and we’re delighted to have so many of our longtime friends and extended Trading Post family still with us.” 800-530-5124 • 233 Albany Tpke. (Rt. 44), Canton

Make it GF marks one-year anniversary MAKE IT GF is celebrating its one-year anniversary this December. The Canton business opened its doors on Dec. 9, 2017 in the middle of a blizzard. A family-owned and -operated business, Make it GF offers gluten-free pizza dough, bread, pasta and pastries at its Canton shop at 50 Albany Turnpike as well as online. 860-693-1300 • 50 Albany Tpke. (Rt. 44), Bldg. 1, Canton • Twitter and Instagram — @makeitgf

Photos courtesy of Pete Aleksa

TRADING POST Music & Video marked 35 years in business in 2018. Owner Bill Buell opened the store in Canton in February 1983 as Trading Post Books, a new and used book exchange store, and continues to run the operation. Soon the store added LP records and tapes and then found a niche by offering band T-shirts, especially of the Grateful Dead. When CDs hit the scene, Trading Post stocked them. By the 1990s the store had evolved into a full-service music store, bookstore, Dead Head shop and rock ‘n’ roll store offering posters, tapestries, incense, clothing and


Pete Aleksa of Cherry Brook Woodworks has been commissioned for a Biedermeier daybed project.

15 years for Cherry Brook Woodworks CHERRY BROOK WOODWORKS has been in business in Canton for 15 years, and owner Pete Aleksa has been in the trade for over 21 years. Aleksa is a custom furniture maker and woodworker who also does antique repair and restoration. He specializes in one-off custom pieces, working for homeowners, interior designers, architects and museums. He has shipped pieces across the country to locations such as Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, California and Idaho. One unique project entailed making a set of 24 chairs that were commissioned for Gracie Mansion, residence of the mayor of New York City, when Michael Bloomberg was mayor. The chairs are currently in use at the mansion. Aleksa says clients typically come to him “wanting something unique that they know they cannot find in a store or as an antique — they want it a certain size, color, design, etcetera.”


His work ranges from simple farm tables that are competitively priced to ornate and complex projects. “My work varies tremendously from project to project,” he says. A recent bed project fits in the ornate category. Aleksa’s client owns a period Biedermeier daybed that was made in Germany around 1800-1810. “It’s a pretty rare and valuable piece of furniture,” Aleksa says. “I have been commissioned to make a copy of this bed, but in a king size. The two pieces will exist in the same room.” Aleksa has carved the bed’s swan neck area (see photo) and the entire bed has been color-matched and French-polished to match the original. 860-693-2101 • 155 Cherry Brook Rd., Canton •

Sellers Listing Service marks 30 years

Photos courtesy of Favarh

SELLERS LISTING SERVICE of Canton is celebrating its 30th anniversary of helping For Sale By Owner (FSBO) home sellers throughout Connecticut. Sellers pay 0% to 3% commission, so they save thousands of dollars. The company began in 1988 with a grainy newsprint For Sale By Owner Connection magazine, progressed to glossy full color, and then converted to online listings. Buyers and sellers can access the various websites the outfit has started over the years —,, CTByOwner. com and All are well-trafficked and are designed to reach buyers who are searching for properties on their own. A broker’s license allows Sellers Listing Service to get listings on the CT Multiple Listing Service, so sellers enjoy a combination of marketing aimed at buyers without agents as well as buyers who are working with an agent. Sellers Listing Service handles only Connecticut listings and therefore is able to give sellers personal service, with all the coaching they need as they go through the listing and sale process. Owner Carol York • cell: 860-605-0336 Phone/fax: 860-693-6156

FAVARH GOES FROM ZERO TO 60 Founded in 1958, Favarh (aka The Arc of the Farmington Valley) is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The nonprofit supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, helping them live as independently as possible. ABOVE — Ella Grasso, who served as Connecticut’s governor from 1975-80, holds a child who was a Favarh client. BELOW — An architectural rendering of new construction on Commerce Drive in Canton. Favarh is adding to its existing building at 100-150 Commerce Drive — diagonally across the street from its headquarters at 225 Commerce — and is also building a brand-new 40-unit specialty housing complex at 300-350 Commerce Drive.

Canton Today publisher eyes Avon, Simsbury mags The publisher of Canton Today is planning similar print-and-digital monthly magazines in Avon and Simsbury, providing hyper-local news vehicles for three classic towns. Each town will have its own magazine, while advertisers will appear in all three with a combined circulation of about 24,500. Rates: Publisher Bruce Deckert • 860-988-1910

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Concert: Music for Joyous Season COMMUNITY INTEL THE POPULAR Music for a Joyous Season concert returns to Collinsville Congregational Church on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 4 p.m. Presented by the Maxwell Shepherd Memorial Arts Fund, the concert has been a highlight of the holiday season in Collinsville for more than a decade. Daniel S. Lee and Friends, an ensemble of acclaimed musicians who have appeared nationally both as soloists and members of chamber groups, will present the program Bach and Other Baroque Gems. Lee is an award-winning violinist who has been praised by the New York Times for his “ravishing vehemence” and “soulful performance.” As with all Shepherd Fund events, the concert is free.

Gifts for Canton Collection Drive THE GIFTS FOR CANTON Collection Drive, sponsored by the Canton Chamber of Commerce, is accepting donations of holiday gifts for town residents in need through Monday, Dec. 10. Collection points are at numerous Canton businesses. The goal is to provide new, unwrapped holiday gifts, including toys, books, gift certificates, household items, clothes and food. The need is great and your support is essential. Distribution will take place Tuesday, Dec. 11 at the Canton Food Bank, Trinity Episcopal Church, River Road, Collinsville. Proof of Canton residency is required. The chamber also invites you to participate in these events: • Stock the Cruiser — Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Shoppes at Farmington Valley, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. • Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Collection — Saturday, Dec. 8 at Ocean State Job Lot in Canton, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Info: Canton Chamber, 693-0405

Updated monument marks WWI 100th THE VETERAN’S DAY that the U.S. commemorated last month (Nov. 11, 2018) marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. In honor of this momentous event, the Town of Canton held a rededication ceremony for the Veteran’s Monument in Collinsville at the corner of River and Bridge Streets. The monument bears the names of Canton residents who died in military service during World War I and other wars. In advance of the ceremony, Canton’s Department of Public Works worked on the monument, correcting a name and adding a name to the roll of World War I dead. The name added to the monument: Samuel G. Heberle. An employee of the Collins Company, he died stateside of bronchial pneumonia on Oct. 2, 1918. The corrected name: Albert E. Johnson, namesake of the local American Legion Post. The original listing on the monument had an incorrect middle initial (H). Johnson died of wounds suffered in combat at Seicheprey in France, and his body was returned with great ceremony to Collinsville, where he was buried in the Village Cemetery. 14


CALENDAR Christmas with The Nelsons 41 Bridge Street, Collinsville Friday 11/30 — 8 pm $35-$45 • Matthew & Gunnar Nelson, sons of rock icon Ricky Scrooge Farmington Valley Stage, Collinsville Friday 11/30 — 8 pm Saturday 12/1 — 8 pm Sunday 12/2 — 2 pm $19.50-$23 • Production of Dickens’ holiday classic Gifts for Canton Collection Various Canton locations Through Monday 12/10 Distribution: Canton Food Bank, River Rd., Collinsville Tuesday 12/11 Donate gifts for eligible families Info: Chamber – 693-0405 5th Annual Winter Coat Drive Town Hall, Collinsville Through Friday 12/14 Donate gently used winter coats for children, adults • 693-7841 Candy Cane Carnival Trinity Nursery School, Canton Saturday 12/1 — 10 am-1 pm Free entry • Games, auctions, prizes, bake sale • 693-4615 St. Patrick Gingerbread Fair St. Patrick Church, Collinsville Saturday 12/1 — 10 am-7 pm Sunday 12/2 — 8 am-12 Handcrafted items, gift baskets, bake table, teacup auction, café Champagne Walk Collinsville merchant locations Friday 12/7 — 6-9 pm $20-$25 • Visit merchants for drink and food samples Christmas in Collinsville Friday-Saturday 12/7-12/8 Classic holiday tradition Sked: Charity Craft Fair Canton Town Hall Auditorium Friday 12/7 — 5-8:30 pm Saturday 12/8 — 10 am-4 pm Food bank donation receives raffle ticket

Send your events to: Canton Land Trust Tree Sale Smith Christmas Tree Farm, Canton Saturday 12/8 — 9 am-1 pm $25-$35 • Choose your tree, cut it down, take it home! Music for a Joyous Season Collinsville Cong. Church Sunday 12/9 — 4 pm Free • Award-winning violinist+, staged by Shepherd Arts Fund Gallery of Trees Canton Historical Museum Through Sunday 12/9 Holiday tradition in Collinsville Holiday Cookie Platter Sale Canton Public Library Friday 12/14 — 3-6 pm Saturday 12/15 — 10 am-1 pm Friends of Library fundraiser Preorder to reserve: 693-5800 Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band 41 Bridge Street, Collinsville Saturday 12/22 — 8 pm $25-$35 • Holiday show with member of Allman Bros. Band New Year’s Eve Dance Party 41 Bridge Street, Collinsville Monday, 12/31 — 7 pm $ TBD • Performers: Christine Ohlman, James Montgomery+ Open Mic Night LaSalle, Collinsville Fridays — 6-10:30 pm To perform, call ahead or come at 5 • 693-8010 The Scholarly Hour Canton Senior Center Brief History of World: Part 1 Fridays 1/11-2/15 — 10 am Brief History of World: Part II Fridays 3/8-4/12 — 10 am Free • anyone 55+ • 693-5811 Magical Moonlight Hike Breezy Hill Trail, Canton Saturday 1/19 — 5:30-8:30 pm Lighted woods trail, no dogs

The monument covers World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. There are now 26 names on the monument. A separate Civil War monument, erected in 1903, is in the Village Cemetery. Town Historian David K. Leff contributed to this report.

Photo courtesy of Jean Mix

Soccer phenom takes step toward .S. national team Special to Canton Today Magazine

CANTON HIGH freshman soccer player Spencer Mix has been selected for the East Region Boys Team of US Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program (ODP). In case the lengthy name of the program is confusing, let’s make it clear — this is the first step toward making the U.S. national team and the U.S. Olympic team. In choosing Mix for this team, US Youth Soccer has identified him as one of the top 72 players in the country in his age group. Mix’s East Region team is slated to play against other region teams in a national tournament in Bradenton, Florida from Dec. 18-22. For the Canton Warriors, Mix started the season on the freshman and junior varsity teams but quickly moved up to varsity. He scored his first varsity goal versus East Windsor on Oct. 15.

MAKING HIS MOVE — Freshman forward Spencer Mix (#26) helped lead 12-seed Canton to a second-round victory in the state soccer tournament — the Warriors upset 5-seed Parish Hill (Chaplin) 3-1. After a strong tournament run, Canton fell to 4-seed Morgan 3-1 in the Class S quarterfinals.

Coach’s Comment — “Spencer is a great addition to our program at Canton. He has come to the soccer program with exceptional skills. He has shown his abilities not only as a skilled player but as a mature player that does not panic under pressure.” — Canton varsity soccer coach Bill Phelps +

THE SPENCER MIX FILE Full Name — Spencer Thomas Mix Age — 14 SPORTS REPORT Birthdate — August 12, 2004 Grade — Freshman Position with Canton Warriors — Forward Club Team —FSA FC, Farmington Other Teams — East Region Boys Team, US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP) • Boys Elite Clubs National League 2004 boys team (Boys ECNL — reached ECNL regional finals last year) Position on Club Team — Striker Started Playing Soccer — In kindergarten, with the Canton Youth Soccer Association; his mom, Jean Mix, was his first coach Awards, Activities — Distinguished honors student at Canton High • Plays tenor saxophone in the school band • Member of the Search Club • His favorite charity is working to feed the hungry and he volunteers at area soup kitchens Team Honors — Helped lead Canton Warriors to quarterfinals of 2018 state tournament • Leading scorer on FSA FC club team • Named Player to Watch for FSA FC ECNL for 2018 and 2019 CANTON TODAY • • DECEMBER 2018


AUTUMN REDUX Before we yield to winter’s onslaught, let’s pause to remember ... a few short weeks ago, we were graced by the amazing colors of autumn. What speaks of autumn in New England like a Canton barn amid fall foliage? Photos by Collinsville resident George Blasko

SEND PHOTOS — If you capture a Canton scene, we invite you to send your photos to

COVER STORY KUDOS Editor’s Note — Canton Today’s November cover story featured Claire Cote, Canton’s Senior & Social Services Director. In two display quotes, the “e” in her first name was inadvertently omitted. We apologize to Claire and all our readers for the error. Outside of a couple name spelling errors, I am SO SO SO loving this article [November cover story]. You made me sound eloquent and really captured my adoration for this town and appreciation for all the support we’ve gotten over the years, Bruce. I am so humbled and thankful you reached out to my boss [town CAO Robert Skinner], someone who has supported this department over the years when resources were thin, and that you emphasized/noted the strategic planning that we are doing. The whole magazine is really great. You’ve noted some incredible nonprofits (food bank and volunteer fire) that are always in need of support, and Pat [Lazauski, food bank director] and Wayne [Goeben, Fire & EMS Chief] are literally the best — I’m honored to share an edition with them. — Claire M. Cote, MSW

LETTERS KIND WORDS FROM FACEBOOK • Great cover Claire Cote! • Well-deserved recognition for a beautiful person, caring spirit! Canton is very fortunate to have you, Claire Cote! • Claire! Is the best! • Nice article on Claire!

ART APPRECIATION Many thanks for the wonderful coverage you gave the Maxwell Shepherd Memorial Arts Fund in the November issue of Canton Today. Fund President Walter Kendra ... is beyond delighted. We were hoping for a listing in your calendar and perhaps a couple of paragraphs. You were most kind. — John Crane • Collinsville A fund director and the fund’s newsletter editor, John contributed a skillful press release that ran as Canton Today’s Spotlight on the Arts feature.

PREMIERE PROPS Kudos, Bruce, for a truly outstanding magazine! I have just read and savored every word. Good choice to begin with Jim



and Kelly DeCesare [October’s debut cover story] ... The Master’s School is lucky to have Jim as an art teacher. Keep up the great work! — Anne Fenn • Barkhamsted A longtime English teacher before her retirement, Anne Fenn and Collinsville resident Jim DeCesare were colleagues at The Master’s School in West Simsbury, where Jim teaches art and chairs the visual and performing arts department.

LETTERS POLICY Keep letters to the editor brief (150-200 words maximum). Canton Today Magazine reserves the right to edit for style and space considerations. Letter writers must provide: full name, hometown, email address and phone number — the number and email won’t be published, unless you request this for promotional purposes. Political Note — The publisher of Canton Today Magazine is an independent, and that is the editorial stance of the magazine. Letters on politics and the like are welcome from across the political spectrum as long as they are civil and tasteful.


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