Canton Today Magazine • November 2018

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

Photo by Connecticut Headshots

Star Social Worker Has ‘Best Job Ever’ Claire Cote honored as a Star of the Town for her pivotal impact


Photo by Tom Kutz • 860-693-6254 •


In Collinsville, the Farmington River reflects fall foliage and a cloud-covered sky. The fairest river of them all? You make the call.


Thank you to the Editor-in-Chief, Bruce Deckert, for an amazing article [the October cover story] and a spectacular new magazine, Canton Today! I am truly humbled to be featured with my family. James DeCesare • Collinsville


• The photography for this well-written article [the October cover story] is outstanding! Beautiful work. You really captured their essence! • Very nice! Beautiful photos. I love the feature on Jessica Papp! • Great magazine!!! Note — The Canton Today Magazine publisher is a political independent, and that is the editorial stance of the magazine. Letters are welcome from the gamut of political persuasions as long as they are civil and tasteful. 2


Residents of Avon and Canton have the opportunity to make an informed and impactful choice this November by voting for Leslee Hill as their State Assembly representative for the 17th District. Like so many of her supporters, I am excited to see Leslee expand her contributions beyond the positive influence and measurable results she’s delivered as a local leader. Experiences gained as a First Selectman, former Board of Ed chair, and at regional government councils give Leslee the “been there, done that” credentials to dissect problems, establish collaborative solutions, and finally restore rational, fiscally responsible governance at the state level. One only need look at Canton’s high


financial ratings from leading independent rating firms to understand how Leslee will effectively represent us at the state level: S&P AAA rating and a Moody’s Aa2 rating with a positive outlook based on “conservative budgeting practices and strong operating performance … despite the ongoing state fiscal uncertainties.” Leslee also brings a balanced approach and promotes the best interests of entire communities without regard to political party, which explains why she has always had such a broad base of enthusiastic Republican, unaffiliated and Democratic supporters. Please join all of us in a vote that will greatly benefit everyone in Avon and Canton by selecting Leslee Hill for the 17th District State Assembly on Nov. 6. Brian First • Canton Brian is vice chairman of the Canton Republican Town Committee and chairman of the Board of Finance in Canton.

A Canton Today Thanksgiving




IF YOU’RE KEEPING SCORE at home, you know that this is the second issue of Canton Today Magazine, the print-and-digital monthly focusing exclusively on Canton — a classic New England town that now enjoys its own news vehicle again. Our second issue coincides with a time of year that is traditionally associated with giving thanks. Gratitude, they say, is good for the soul. In that Thanksgiving vein, allow me to pause and thank some people who have encouraged, supported and enhanced Canton Today Magazine. • Our advertising sponsors — these local businesses have made this Canton-dedicated news vehicle a reality. • The residents of Canton and all our readers, for your enthusiastic review of our debut edition — keep sending those story ideas and news items to

4 — CHAMBER HONORS STAR SOCIAL WORKER The Chamber of Commerce has honored Claire Cote, Canton’s Senior & Social Services Director, with its 2018 Service to the Community award. NOTEWORTHY NONPROFITS

8 — An Answer for Food Scarcity

Canton Food Bank Director Pat Lazauski is thankful for a community that gives “in an amazing way.”

• Seshu of Connecticut Headshots, whose first-rate photography graces these pages and has helped us debut with flair. • David K. Leff, whose skillful and accomplished pen brings Canton history to life for the citizens of this quintessential town. • The subjects of our news features, for their gracious acceptance of Canton Today’s interview requests. • Kayla Tyson, whose keen and artistic eye makes this publication better. • My wife Mina, for her support and encouragement as I’ve pursued this venture and launched Canton Today Magazine. Some would say I’d be remiss if I didn’t also thank God as the ultimate source of all good gifts. Some would say, don’t bother — He doesn’t exist. I have plenty of questions, but I’ll err on the side of giving thanks to God ... and all those listed above. +


10 — Kevin Case Sustains Family Legacy

With a grandmother who was valedictorian of Canton High, the school superintendent is right at home. HONORING FIRST RESPONDERS

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

12 — Fire & EMS Volunteers Always Ready

Interim Chief Wayne Goeben: “You never know if the next call ... will change your life forever.” THIS MONTH IN CANTON HISTORY

13 — Milestone Museum Moments

November is a momentous month for the Canton Historical Museum, writes Town Historian David Leff. CANTON BY THE NUMBERS 50,500 Number of meals provided by Canton Food Bank in 2017


Editorial Associate — Kayla Tyson Contributing Writers — John Crane, David K. Leff Photographer — Seshu, Connecticut Headshots • 860-593-0850 • Advertising — Contact the publisher News/Ad Deadline — December 1 for the January issue

Tues. - Thurs. 11:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Fri. - Sat. 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Expires 12-25-18

Expires 12-25-18



Claire Cote has served as the social media strategist for the state chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Photos by Connecticut Headshots • 860-593-0850 •

Claire Cote: I’m ‘blessed’ with ‘best job ever’ Social worker seeks best for at-risk Canton residents

By Bruce Deckert Canton Today Editor-in-Chief

IN A SOCIETY that tends to glorify celebrities such as pro athletes, Hollywood actors and pop musicians, the term star isn’t usually associated with a social worker. But the Canton Chamber of Commerce is attempting to reverse that trend. As part of its annual Stars of the Town event, the chamber has honored Claire Cote with its 2018 Service to the Community award. Employed by the town since 2009, Cote is Canton’s Senior & Social Services Director. She has a number of other town roles connected to her director’s post — and to say she wears many hats is like saying the Farmington Valley has many farms. Cote (pronounced COAT-ee) holds the following titles: co-coordinator of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), co-chair of the Public Safety Committee, town shelter manager, Municipal Agent for the Elderly and Veterans’ Liaison for Canton (both appointed positions). She is also the local co-chair for the SALT Council (Seniors And Law Enforcement Together) for Triad, a national senior safety program. 4

“Once I saw and understood ... the possibilities


associated with the profession, something clicked and I haven’t looked back since.” — Clair Cote


“Over the years the department and the folks we serve have shared some amazing successes,” says Cote, who was raised in Farmington and lives there today. She notes that the town has been supportive of the Senior & Social Services Department during her 10year tenure. “A great foundation was built in providing senior services to residents long before I was here,” she says, “and because some of those core services were in place when I arrived it was easy to ensure the Senior Center could be more self-sustaining and independent.” Cote, 33, was initially hired in Canton as a parttime (19-hour) senior services coordinator in February 2009. In July 2010, she became the full-time Senior & Social Services Coordinator. In July 2012, the town established a full-fledged department and she took on the role of Senior & Social Services Director — which she calls “the best job ever.” “One goal I’ve had since 2009 has been to empower our Senior Center members to take an active role in the

center in order to sustain the regular programming as well as to allow new programs and events,” Cote says. To that end, she appointed dedicated seniors to leadership positions, which has catalyzed the center’s growth. “This strategic thinking and planning provided a good foundation for when we were asked to take on the administration of social services,” Cote notes. “As a department, we have really created and been charged with a unique niche in town.” The most rewarding aspect of her work, Cote says, is “working with the people of this town.” “The residents, my co-workers, the business and clergy community with whom I get to work and who I serve, are really appreciative and grateful folks,” she affirms. “They make all the challenges of serving this community worth the frustration that comes when you’re navigating multiple complex systems, dealing with limited resources, and feeling as though you don’t have the time to serve your community in the ways you want to.” After attending the Farmington Public Schools, Cote earned a bachelor’s degree in social work at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford — which was known as Saint Joseph College when she graduated — and then a master of social work (MSW) at UConn. “I always knew I wanted to help people, so I explored a bunch of the social sciences and helping fields once I got to college,” says Cote, whose younger sister Adrienne is a guidance counselor in the East Hartford Public Schools. “I took sociology and a lot of psychology courses, but once I saw and understood the versatility of a social work degree and the possibilities associated with the profession, something clicked and I haven’t looked back since.” Cote remains grateful for her introductory social work course, which launched her career trajectory. Through the class, she met many professionals who had worked in the field, from politicians to medical social workers to executive directors and founders of nonprofit organizations. Asked about the most important attributes for a social worker, she replies: “Patience, humility, dedication.” She observes that “humility and having an open

“I appreciate the generous culture I see in this community. There are a lot of humble people who ... should be proud of who they are and the goodness they have created and empowered


in the town, but who will never ask for recognition in any way.” — Clair Cote

mind” are key: “It’s all about starting where the person is and recognizing what they are identifying as their goals versus what you think is best for them. Recognizing your role as that person who is walking beside them, versus walking in front of them and making all the decisions, is vitally important — same goes when you’re working with and within a community of people.” The Service to the Community award that the Chamber of Commerce gave Cote isn’t the first accolade she has received from citizens who appreciate her work: She was named Person of the Year in 2012 via a reader survey by Canton Patch, the onetime news website. Regarding Cote’s 2018 honor, chamber President Gary J. Roman says, “The chamber applauds her impact on our community and is pleased to recognize her contributions and to highlight the impact she has had on the residents of the Town of Canton.” The President and CEO of Collinsville Savings Society, Roman notes, “The chamber board recognizes the positive impact Claire has on the lives of all aged populations with the variety of programs she administers in her role as the Senior & Social Services Director.” Cote observes that challenges for seniors and atrisk populations vary daily depending on the economic and political climate — and the actual weather of the changing seasons. In October, she explains, her department completed “the administration of the renters’ rebate program while setting up and providing one-on-one intake appointments to get folks ready to heat their homes and ... ready for the holiday season, when hunger insecurity is high and stress is even higher. All of this, and so much more community case management, is happening while we are ... coordinating multiple Senior Center and community programs and grants and events. It’s a juggling act daily.” Cote grew up with a healthy respect for the older generation, regularly seeing both sets of grandparents — including one grandmother who surpassed 100 years. She says her family “instilled cultural reverence for the older adult.” Further, her parents were in helping professions: Her mother was a nurse, caring mainly for the elderly and disabled, and her father worked at the Institute

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History of Stars of the Town The Canton Chamber of Commerce began its Stars of the Town event in 2015 as a way to honor the contributions of town residents and employees. 2018 Business of the Year – Roaring Brook Nature Center Service to the Community – Claire Cote Service to the Business Community — Kathy Taylor 2017 Business of the Year – Favarh Service to the Community – Brenda and Larry Sullivan Service to the Chamber – Jill Brandon 2016 Business of the Year – Cherry Brook Health Care Center Service to the Community – Ann Gagnon Henry Bahre Service to the Chamber Awards – Michael D’Apice and Philip Worley 2015 Business of the Year – Larsen Ace Hardware Service to the Community – Visit Collinsville Inc. (Collinsville HOT Committee) Service to the Chamber – Henry Bahre Henry Bahre Awards – Hannah Aron and Eduardo Barrios Source – Executive Director Gary Miller, Chamber of Commerce

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of Living, a psychiatric hospital in Hartford. She minored in psychology at Saint Joe’s, adding a certificate in gerontology, and continues to be interested in mental health and wellness. “Claire has a passion for helping people,” says Robert H. Skinner, Canton’s Chief Administrative Officer and Cote’s supervisor. “This is exhibited in the energy and dedication she expends in doing her job. She is very active in community organizations that have helped identify the needs of the community and provide assistance

“Claire’s enthusiasm and knowledge of senior and social services has been an asset to all those she has worked with.” — Canton CAO Robert Skinner to the residents of Canton. Whether it be assisting the Community Emergency Response Team or organizing a new Senior Center activity, Claire’s enthusiasm and knowledge of senior and social services has been an asset to all those she has worked with.” The Senior & Social Services Department is in the midst of a strategic evaluation to identify where resources can be best allocated. Community feedback via an extensive survey is a key component of the survey, along with focus groups for residents, clients and town leaders who collaborate with the department. “I am hopeful that this inspires some local nonprofit agencies to do something similar,” Cote says. “There are so many amazing events and services that are offered through local nonprofits, but keeping energized and finding their own niche will be ... important to the future of this community [and] their organizations as well. It’s important to take a step back sometimes and to identify how well you’ve done and to ask yourself how you’re going to continue in the future.” A member of the National Association of Social Workers, Cote says that she is “constantly reminded of how finite a good thing can be ... I worry that some of the coordinated services and help through my office could go away if those volunteer-based groups do not think about sustainability.” In 2008, right after completing her master’s degree, Cote was employed by her hometown as an elderly outreach coordinator, working from May to October in Farmington’s Community Services Department. “I was blessed to have the opportunity to work within a grant-funded position that had previously been frozen due to the tragically ill economy,” she says. Her duties were a kaleidoscope of the social work realm: making home visits and giving assessments for elderly residents, completing Medicaid applications, facilitating groups, providing case management, visiting affordable housing complexes, attending Juvenile Review Board cases and more. The experience, she says, “was integral to growing my confidence” in preparation for her first role in Canton. Located on Dyer Avenue in Collinsville, the Senior & Social Services office is in the lower level of the Canton Community Center. The office is adjacent to the Senior Center, a spacious and cheerfully decorated facility with a sizable kitchen. For the uninitiated, the community center is also home to the Canton Public Library and the Parks & Recreation Department.

SOCIAL FOCUS — Clair Cote was a social work intern at Saint Mary Home in West Hartford, among other places.

“The chamber applauds her impact on our community and is pleased to recognize her contributions.”

Dr. Elena Bielawski – DDS, FICOI, FMIII

— Chamber of Commerce President Gary Roman “I have been blessed,” Cote says, “working with a skilled and competent staff, brilliant and committed Commission on Aging members, and a caring community of residents and community organization leaders. ... I appreciate the generous culture I see in this community. There are a lot of humble people who ... should be proud of who they are and the goodness they have created and empowered in the town, but who will never ask for recognition in any way.” Before Cote’s transition to the Town of Canton, she worked part-time for eight years in the private sector at an assisted living residence, where she held diverse positions on the dining, recreation and administrative staffs. Since she was part of every department, she learned firsthand about the profession and “the challenges associated with getting older.” “I gained lifelong friendships from this time,” Cote says, “and a lot of appreciation for the folks who work tirelessly every day to serve others and to ensure their later years are filled with dignity, comfort and connection.” + Bruce Deckert is the editor-in-chief of Canton Today Magazine and an award-winning journalist. His father spent his entire career as a social worker in New Jersey.


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When pantry is bare, Canton’s cup runneth over Director of Canton Food Bank grateful for ‘amazing’ support


Bruce Deckert Canton Today Editor-in-Chief

THE OPEN DOOR at the Canton Food Bank reveals a range of groceries on neatly ordered shelves — from pasta to peanut butter, from tomato soup to spaghetti sauce, from apple juice to grape juice. One well-stocked shelf features an assortment of cereal: various store brands plus Cheerios, Honey Bunches of Oats, Life and more. Perhaps that box of Life cereal is an apt metaphor, à la Forrest Gump’s classic quote: “My momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’” For residents of Canton whose difficult life circumstances — foreseen or unforeseen — make paying for groceries a challenge, the Canton Food Bank is there. Trinity Episcopal Church in Collinsville provides space for the food bank. “Trinity Church is so generous,” says Pat Lazauski, the food bank’s volunteer director. “I can’t say enough about what the church does for us.” Nonperishable donations can be brought anytime to Trinity — the food bank is located on the lower level. To donate perishable food, make arrangements to meet a food bank volunteer at the church. One of Claire Cote’s many duties as Senior & Social Services Director (see article on page 4) is to screen clients for the Canton Food Bank and Emergency Fuel Bank. All clients must be Canton residents. Once eligible, they receive an identification card. Aside from the screening process, the Canton Food Bank is run completely by volunteers as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. “The food bank is awesome,” says one client who requested anonymity. “People in Canton are good. They take excellent care of seniors and people with low income.” Lazauski graduated from Canton High School, moved out of town for a time, and then returned. Her second stint in Canton has lasted for 30-plus years, and she has volunteered at the food bank for more than a decade. “There’s a lot to it, a lot going on — and it’s ongoing, every day,” she notes.



CANTON FOOD BANK Location — Trinity Episcopal Church, 55 River Road, Collinsville Open Tuesdays for eligible clients — 8-11:30 a.m. Winter Weather — If Canton schools are closed on a Tuesday, the food bank is also closed but will open Wednesday. If Canton schools have a delay on a Tuesday, the food bank is open Tuesday as usual. Volunteer Board Pat Lazauski — Director Karen Adajian — Treasurer Lynn Human — Secretary, Co-Shopping Coordinator Madeleine Drummey — Co-Shopping Coordinator Robin Linquist — Stocking Coordinator, Foodshare Liaison

Canton Today Magazine spoke with Lazauski about her work with the food bank. Here’s her Q-and-A: Canton Today Magazine: When did you begin volunteering at the food bank? Pat Lazauski: About 12 years ago. The food bank has a volunteer board of five members, and we hold quarterly meetings in addition to running the food bank each week. We have about 50 volunteers who stock, shop, help with Tuesday distribution, and pick up and deliver bread. CTM: What year was the food bank established? Pat Lazauski: In 1983 — Charlotte Craig saw a need in town and started asking people if they would help. Board member Madeleine Drummey is a 1983 original. The food bank has always been at Trinity. Trinity Church is amazing. They provide the electricity for two freezers and a refrigerator — all at no cost to the food bank. We would never be able to do what we do if it wasn’t for them and their generosity. Each year they also give the proceeds of their Quality Street Fair (on Nov. 17 this year) to the Canton Food Bank and Fuel Bank. CTM: What is the most rewarding aspect of your work with the Canton Food Bank? Lazauski: Seeing people leave each Tuesday with the food they

feel is best for their family. I love to see people leave happy. The fact that we’re always there for people is satisfying. I like making people feel happy — it makes me feel good. I love to give, and I love all my clients. They’re very special people. CTM: What is the biggest challenge you face in your work with the food bank, and how are you able to meet and overcome it? Lazauski: Keeping the volunteer list organized and updated, and coordinating assignments when volunteers are busy. Without the volunteers we wouldn’t be able to function at all. People have been very good and more than willing to volunteer. CTM: What do you appreciate most about Canton? What constructive change would you like to see in town? Lazauski: It’s mainly the fact that this is a caring community. We care a lot for one another. Over the years, changes have been made in Collinsville: Town leaders wanted to keep it a small community but also build it up and make it appealing for others to come visit — and they’ve done it. ... CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) started because there was a need, and people have come forward. CTM: What is the general attitude of Canton residents toward the food bank? Lazauski: Very responsive. Our donations come from a wide variety of sources. ShopRite is the biggest contributor — they’re very supportive. I can’t say enough about ShopRite and [owner] Chuck Joseph. Every Tuesday we do our bread and pastry collection at ShopRite, Big Y and Marandino’s. Many town businesses and groups hold food drives, and Collinsville Savings Bank is a big supporter. The school system is fantastic. The police department is fantastic. And the volunteer fire department. Every Sunday churches around town are collecting food. People in this community give in an amazing way. CTM: Sometimes food pantries report a drop-off in donations after the holidays. Is that the case with the Canton Food Bank? Lazauski: People in Canton give year-round. There’s sometimes a lull in the summer because of vacations and travel, but people in town give all year. CTM: What was your work experience prior to becoming volunteer director of the food bank? Lazauski: I was a biology teacher at New Milford High School. After my children were born I was a substitute teacher. Later I worked for six years at the transfer station in town. Madeleine Drummey, who was already volunteering at the food bank, would come to the transfer station. She said to me, “You would make a very good volunteer.” Family — My husband David passed away in 2015. He was very supportive of my work with the food bank. My daughter Tracy lives in Florida, and my son Aaron and his wife Christine live in Massachusetts. When my family visits, I usually put them to work at the food bank, and they’re glad to help out. My son is very strong and has helped with moving food off of trucks. Canton Food Bank — By the Numbers Each week, the food bank: • Averages 50 clients • Distributes 1,000 pounds of food, on average • Provides 90-100 meals

CALENDAR Intro to Yoga Luna & Lotus, Collinsville Saturdays 11/3, 11/10, 11/17 12-1 pm • $80 (or $75 by 10/30) Shepherd Arts Fund Concert First Congregational Church, Collinsville Sunday 11/4 — 4 pm Free • World-class pianist Ryo Yanagitani Furry FUNdraiser Flatbread Co., Canton Sunday 11/13 — 5-9 pm Proceeds go to Friends of the Canton Dog Park Quality Street Fair Trinity Episcopal Church, Collinsville Saturday 11/17 — 9:30-3 pm • Unusual gifts, luncheon, raffle • Proceeds go to Canton Food Bank and Fuel Bank Shirley Alston Reeves Bridge Street, Collinsville Saturday 11/20 — 8 pm Original lead signer of The Shirelles

Scrooge Farmington Valley Stage, Collinsville Friday 11/30 — 8 pm Saturday 12/1 — 8 pm Sunday 12/2 — 2 pm Original production of Dickens’ classic — one-man show by Patrick Spadaccino Gallery of Trees Collinsville Sunday 11/18-Sunday 12/9 Christmas in Collinsville Friday 12/7-Saturday 12/8 Annual tradition of various holiday happenings Champagne Walk Collinsville Friday 12/7 — 6-9 pm Visit merchants for drink and food samples Open Mic Night LaSalle, Collinsville Every Friday • 6-10:30 pm Info: 860-693-8010 To perform, call ahead or come at 5

Send your events to

VOTE NOVEMBER 6TH @hillforcthouse


In 2017, the food bank: • Fed 5,000 people • Distributed 51,600 pounds of food • Provided 50,500 meals


For State Representative

Paid for by Leslee Hill for the 17th District, William Sarmuk, Treasurer. Approved by Leslee Hill. CANTON TODAY • • NOVEMBER 2018 Untitled-1 1


9/7/2018 1:11:30 PM

Caring teachers inspired Kevin Case’s vocation

School superintendent voices gratitude for teachers of his youth


Canton Today Staff



Photo courtesy of Kevin Case

A DOZEN YEARS AGO, when Kevin D. Case undertook the role of Canton’s Superintendent of Schools, he came full circle vis à vis his family history. While Case was born in Torrington and raised in Winsted, his great-grandparents lived in Canton — and his grandmother and great-aunt were valedictorians of Canton High School. Before becoming superintendent in 2006, Case was the principal at Squadron Line Elementary School in Simsbury. He also served as the principal at Torringford Elementary School in Torrington and at Warren (Conn.) Elementary School. Case, 54, has been a resident of Barkhamsted since 1988. He holds a master of education in administration and supervision from the University of Hartford, and a bachelor of science in elementary education from Central Connecticut State University. He has also completed post-master’s programs at UHart and UConn. Case has three children — Crystall and twins Alex and Anthony — along with a 2-year-old grandson, Greyson. Here is the superintendent’s Q-and-A with Canton Today: Canton Today Magazine: Why did you pursue a career as an educator? Kevin D. Case: I had a great educational experience growing up in Winsted. I attended the Mary P. Hinsdale Elementary School and had very caring and inspiring teachers. I knew in the fourth grade that I wanted to become a teacher and I never looked back. I had the privilege of teaching at the school for one year alongside teachers that I had. It was a dream come true! I went on to teach first and fifth grade in Burlington/Harwinton (Regional District 10) for several years. I was inspired by great principals to become one myself. I served as a principal for 13 years in three districts, including one rural school with 100 students, an urban school with over 600 students, and a suburban school with over 1,000 students, which prepared me well to come to Canton as Superintendent of Schools over 11 years ago. CTM: What are the essential attributes you want Canton teachers to demonstrate?

Superintendent of Schools Kevin Case Case: I want all Canton teachers to be leaders in their classrooms and schools and in the district. I hire teachers who are knowledgeable about students’ needs and the content they teach. They must also be lifelong learners as they serve as role models for our students daily. Most importantly, our teachers need to be compassionate and demonstrate honesty, integrity and kindness, core values of the Canton Public Schools. CTM: What do you see as the greatest strength of the Canton Public Schools? Case: Students graduating from the Canton Public Schools achieve at high levels and exhibit critical 21st century skills (collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity and innovation, compassion, and citizenship). We are a highperforming school district. This is due to our outstanding teachers and staff who are committed to implementing studentcentered learning practices on a daily basis in order to meet individual student’s needs. It is also due to the partnership parents and caretakers have established with us, as well as the support we receive from the community. CTM: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Canton schools, and how can that challenge be met? Case: Like most school districts in the state, our greatest challenge is to adequately fund all areas of our students’ education with the limited resources available. There are several mandates from the state that do not receive adequate (if any) necessary funding, creating a burden on local school districts and taxpayers. We need to advocate to our federal and state officials the need for adequate funding for public education. CTM: What is your take on finding a healthy balance between reading and TV viewing? Case: I am a “news junkie” — I spend what little spare time I have reading news magazines and watching various news shows to try to gain a wide perspective on the issues of the day. I tend to read for pleasure more during the summer months.

CTM: Who were your favorite teachers? Case: Miss Relihan, my fourth-grade teacher at the Hinsdale School in Winsted, inspired me to become an educator. Mr. Trout, my 10th-grade English teacher at The Gilbert School, taught me how to write and to think critically. Several of my teachers taught me the importance of education and of being a lifelong learner, for which I am eternally grateful. CTM: Please share a brief anecdote from your career that provides a window into your work in education. Case: What attracted me to Canton over 11 years ago was the quality of the teaching staff. I knew teachers in Canton and had heard about their outstanding reputation. I also knew that the Canton community supported a quality education for all its young people. Once I was hired as Superintendent of Schools, I found out how true this was. I also have roots in the Canton community. My greatgrandparents lived in the center of Canton and both RYO YANAGITANI will present a piano concert on Sunday, Nov. 4, at 4 p.m. at First Congregational Church in Collinsville. The free concert opens the 2018-19 season of the Maxwell Shepherd Memorial Arts Fund. Hailed by the Washington Post as “a pianist’s pianist,” Yanagitani has established himself as one of Canada’s most promising young concert performers. His artistic achievements include winning the gold medal at the 10th San Antonio International

“It is so gratifying for me to see many of my former students entering the education field.” — Kevin Case

my grandmother and great-aunt were valedictorians of Canton High School in the early 1930s. This is when Canton High School was housed in the present Canton Intermediate School. Having served as a teacher and administrator for over 32 years, it is so gratifying for me to see many of my former students entering the education field. I had the great privilege of hiring one of my former first-grade students as a teacher in our district and now teach her in the graduate class that I teach. This is such a rewarding profession! Favorite eatery in Canton: LaSalle Market for breakfast or lunch. Favorite recreation spot in Canton: Walking or riding bikes on the Farmington River Trail. Favorite book as a child: The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Favorite book as an adult: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, by John Maxwell +

Piano concert opens Shepherd Arts season Piano Competition and the grand prize at the Hugo Kauder International Piano Competition. Yanagitani is a laureate of the Minnesota International Piano-e-Competition, the Dr. Luis Sigall International Piano Competition in Chile, and the Hilton Head International Piano Competition.

In addition to his solo career, Yanagitani has made concerto appearances with orchestras around the world. He is also much sought after as a chamber musician, performing in a wide range of settings from duo sonata repertoire to chamber ensembles. He is frequently invited as both a lecturer and pianist to chamber music festivals across the U.S. Yanagitani has been the artist-in-residence of the Maxwell Shepherd Arts Fund. + See page 15 for more on the fund.



Wayne Goeben seeks Fire & EMS volunteers HONORING FIRST RESPONDERS

Interim chief pilots department through ‘changing times’ Canton Today Staff

Photo courtesy of Wayne Goeben

Interim Fire & EMS Chief Wayne Goeben CANTON VOLUNTEER FIRE & EMS DEPARTMENT BY THE NUMBERS • 25 Certified Firefighter Volunteers • 30 Certified EMS Volunteers (some crossovers are certified in both) • 3 Fire Stations Collinsville Station, River Road Canton Station, Canton Springs Road North Canton Station, Cherry Brook Road • 7 Hospitals — Canton EMS calls take patients to hospitals in Bristol, Farmington, New Britain, Torrington and Hartford (three) To learn more about becoming a volunteer, call the department at 860-693-7858 TO SEND NEWS, EVENTS — FOR AD INFO — • 860-988-1910

You are invited to begin Thanksgiving Day with us as we break bread together in Holy Eucharist at 9:00 AM, Nov. 22nd

❧ Bring your bread to be blessed for your holiday table ❧ Plate offering from this service will be given to Focus on Canton, meeting the many needs of our neighbors in the wider Canton community

Trinity Episcopal Church 55 River Road (Route 179) • Collinsville, CT The Rev. Linda Spiers • (860) 693-8172



FEBRUARY 2, 2018 — that’s the last day the Canton Volunteer Fire & EMS Department received no calls, interim Chief Wayne Goeben said in an October interview. Given such a hectic pace, it’s no wonder that Goeben would welcome more volunteers. The department has averaged 1,400 calls annually in recent years — about 70% of them for emergency medical services (or EMS). Goeben, 51, has served as a volunteer with the department since 1990. He has been interim chief since this past April, and his tenure will end at the close of 2018, when he’ll retire as a volunteer firefighter — though he’ll continue volunteering as an EMT. The Collins Company provided fire protection for the ax factory and the rest of Canton from the 1800s until the company closed in 1966. Meanwhile, in 1950 company employees formed the Canton Memorial Ambulance, which merged with the Collins Company Fire Department in 1963. When the company shut its doors in ’66, the Collinsville Volunteer Fire Department was established after the company sold the firefighting equipment, ambulance and firehouse to the town for $1, according to Goeben. Goeben’s wife, Donna, was an EMS volunteer. The couple met at a department event and married in 1989. They have lived in Collinsville since 1992 and raised two sons here: Keith (now 23) and Eric (21). Born and raised in Simsbury, Goeben is a program manager for Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense Company in Simsbury. To learn more about becoming a volunteer, call the department at 860-693-7858. Here is Goeben’s Q-and-A with Canton Today: Canton Today Magazine: What motivated you to serve with the Volunteer Fire & EMS Department? Wayne Goeben: Two of my three older brothers were involved, and my brother Scott was actively involved in Simsbury and remains a volunteer firefighter in Canton today. Two nephews have also served with Canton: Zachary Goeben, now a career firefighter/paramedic in Maine, and Stephen Goeben, captain at the Collinsville Station. CTM: What is the most rewarding aspect of your work as Fire & EMS Chief? Goeben: Watching the young people grow. The junior firefighter/ EMT opportunity is an important aspect of our department. Teenagers from 15-18 can join and receive exposure and training to a potential career path in firefighting or emergency services. CTM: What is the most difficult aspect of your work as Fire & EMS Chief, and how are you able to address that difficulty? Goeben: The most difficult aspect is the changing times. As the town has grown, the demand for service has increased dramatically. The Fire & EMS Department has few members, primarily due to the increased training and time commitment. We’ve had to make changes to our policies, which make it harder for folks to volunteer. The increased call volumes, coupled with less volunteers, have put more demands on the balance. Part of my

Town’s first museum set stage for Historical Society By David K. Leff — Canton Town Historian


CANTON HISTORY: NOVEMBER 9, 1940 — November is a good month for Canton history. Our first museum opened 78 years ago in November, and over a couple decades later the Canton Historical Society was formed at the same time of year. Collins Company patternmaker Fred Widen opened the first history museum in Canton on Nov. 9, 1940. Widen was an avid collector and lover of history. Wanting to share all the intriguing objects he’d acquired, he asked Collins Company officials for room to house and display them. They gave him space in an 1865 building once used to paint and assemble plows. It was converted into a recreational hall in the 1920s, including a bowling alley on the second floor and a rifle range in the basement. Today that building is the Canton Historical Museum. Widen had eclectic interests and his collection included Collins tools, from axes and machetes to shovels and hammers. A Victorian barbershop, blacksmith’s forge, Civil War-era metal coffin and antique fire apparatus were among the artifacts he gathered that are still on display. It wasn’t long before his collection occupied three rooms on the first floor of the building. In Widen’s time, the museum was rarely open, and typically only on request. News reports indicate the collection received rave reviews, and people came from some distance to see it. After Fred Widen died in 1952, the fate of his collection became uncertain. Its last public viewing was during the Canton Sesquicentennial in 1956, according to the Canton Historical Society book “Canton Remembers.” job as chief is the HR portion. Lead and motivate from the front, recruit and develop new members, and advise the town leadership on where the risks are. We have about 10 new members in the past year but are still short-handed. CTM: Please share a brief anecdote that provides a snapshot of your work in the Fire & EMS realm. Goeben: Being a volunteer firefighter or EMT means always being ready. You never know if the next call is a routine fire alarm, or a call that will change your life forever. Small-town America lends another dynamic. We never know when we will be called to help a neighbor, or our own family. My father-in-law lived in town, and his health was deteriorating. He needed an ambulance transport, and I ended up driving the ambulance on his final trip, while my nephew was the EMT in the back. It’s not all negative — we laugh together, dream together and play together. In fact, without the Fire Department, I would not have the family I have today. I met my wife at the Collinsville Volunteer Fire Department Jamboree in 1986. CTM: Is the chief position a part-time paid role or volunteer? Goeben: The chief position receives a paid stipend but is considered part of the volunteer model. The chief is appointed by the Board of Selectmen, as are other department heads in Canton. CTM: Of the movies or TV dramas you’ve seen concerning fire departments, which one comes closest to the real deal? Goeben: There are none which do the job justice. Many hours are

The Canton Historical Society building, circa 1920 Worried that Widen’s collection would be broken up and sold off after the Collins Company closed in 1966, several public-spirited citizens formed the Canton Historical Society in November 1966. Through the dedication of many caring people, the Canton Historical Museum remains one of the finest such small-town institutions in New England. U.S. HISTORY: NOVEMBER 1, 1940 — The first U.S. air raid shelter is built in Fleetwood, Pa., 13 months before the U.S. entered World War II. WORLD HISTORY: NOVEMBER 4, 1940 — Eggs and cake are rationed in Nazi-occupied Holland during World War II. + David K. Leff is an award-winning author of 10 books, including “The Last Undiscovered Place,” which is about Collinsville. See his work at spent performing maintenance or training. Most of our calls are handled in a routine fashion. The dramas depicted in an hour or two on TV every week will rarely occur in the career of a volunteer firefighter or EMT, but we are ready when they do. • Goeben’s other volunteer experience: • 1983-85— Junior Firefighter (cadet), Simsbury Volunteer Fire Co. • 1985 — Probationary Firefighter, Simsbury Volunteer Fire Co. • 1985-89 — Volunteer Firefighter, Lyndonville, Vermont (college) • 1990-96 — Volunteer Firefighter, Collinsville Volunteer Fire Dept. • 1996-present — Volunteer Fire & EMS, Town of Canton +


860.836.6172 CT Magazine 5-Star Realtor 2011-19

290 West Main Street


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Favarh marks 60 years of helping those with disabilities Special to Canton Today

Landscape Solutions marks 5th anniversary Landscape Solutions & Maintenance is celebrating its fifth anniversary in Canton this year. LSM offers a program for families who face medical challenges or other unfortunate circumstances. Via the Giv2 Community program, LSM seeks to identify these families and make their lives easier by offering free services. “It may seem simple,” says company owner John Riera, “but when you don’t have to worry about taking care of your lawn, it gives you time to spend on healing 14

Photo courtesy of Favarh

FAVARH — aka The Arc of the Farmington Valley — will celebrate 60 years of supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at its annual gala on Nov. 16. “It’s a big milestone for us,” says Favarh executive director Stephen E. Morris. “In 1958 families were advised to send their child with an intellectual disability to one of the two state institutions and ‘forget you ever had them.’ Happily, a small group of local families wanted something better for their children, so they raised money and started the Favarh Day School in the basement of a local church — and Favarh was born.” Today, there are birth-to-3 services and school education services available for all children with special needs up to age 21. Favarh also provides school-towork transition services, employment and adult day programs, transportation services, eight group homes and support for apartment residents ... plus recreation, sports and fitness activities. Located on Commerce Drive in Canton, Favarh supports more than 350 clients ranging from children to seniors in the Farmington Valley and beyond. They are served by 280 employees, 200 volunteers and a multitude of donors, business partners and collaborating organizations. “Favarh’s founding families would be thrilled with the progress that has been made in the past 60 years,” Morris says. “But there’s still important work to be done. For example, the national unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 80 percent and there is a shortage of affordable

Favarh recognized area employers, including Collinsville Congregational Church, in October for honoring the spirit of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.


housing options in Connecticut. This is where most of the progress needs to be made in the next decade.” Reminiscent of its founding families, Favarh is not waiting for things to change on their own. Construction is underway on an innovative, integrated and affordable apartment complex in Canton, and another is planned for Bloomfield. Favarh is spearheading a statewide expansion of the highly successful jobs program it started at UConn Health called Project SEARCH. Collaborations with the Town of Canton, Healing Meals and the Pasta Company have resulted in more

walking and bike access in Canton, home delivery of prepared healthy dinners, and a new Avon Coffee Shop that will create jobs for people with disabilities. The gala will be held Friday, Nov. 16 from 6:30-11:30 p.m. at The Riverview in Simsbury. For tickets or more information, call 860-693-6662. To commemorate the milestone anniversary, the entertainment at Favarh’s annual gala will be doo-wop music — the same music that was popular on the radio and in dance halls in 1958 — performed by The Corvettes Doo Wop Revue. The Arc of the Farmington Valley Inc., more commonly known as Favarh, was founded in 1958. Today, Favarh (pronounced FAY-var) is a local chapter of the Arc, a worldwide community-based organization for people with intellectual, physical and developmental disabilities. +

and being together as a family.” Twice a year, LSM reaches out to find such families, “and what we gain in return is tenfold,” Riera says. “Over the years we have helped numerous families and have developed lasting relationships with each one of them. We have become part of their families and they a part of ours.” The company has two locations — an office in Canton and a site in New Hartford for landscape equipment and vehicles. Landscape Solutions & Maintenance opened its Canton office in 2013, and has been in business since February 2012. The company’s motto is: Live. Love. Landscape. Services include new plantings,

drainage systems, patios, stone walls, lawn care and snow removal. “When you think about landscape,” Riera says, “we want you to think about us. Our mission is to create custom landscape projects that meet not only our customers’ desires but also their budgets.” Riera has an extensive background in business and previously was an executive sous-chef. “I like to be creative and think outside the box to create projects that are also creative and outside the box,” he says. Landscape Solutions & Maintenance contact info: Phone — 860-329-2014 Website — (also on Facebook) +

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Shepherd Arts Fund celebrates 15 first-class years By John Crane — Shepherd Fund Editor

THE SOUNDS OF SPRING in northcentral Connecticut are a welcome relief after a New England winter. Enough songbirds have returned by then to usher in each morning with a glorious chorus. The Farmington River provides a nonstop rhythm that varies from gentle to forceful as it flows south over a rockstrewn riverbed. On May 3, 2003, at a private home a stone’s throw from the river in Collinsville, another sound challenged nature’s springtime symphony for attention. Ryo Yanagitani, a talented young pianist from Canada, performed the works of masters such as Chopin and Rachmaninov. The occasion was the first public event of the newly formed Maxwell Shepherd Memorial Arts Fund. In the years since that humble beginning, the Shepherd Fund has become a driving force in raising the quality of artistic expression for the enjoyment of residents in and near the Farmington Valley, at no charge for its events. Yanagitani was also the featured performer for two Shepherd concerts in 2004. His burgeoning reputation in the classical music field helped to quickly establish the Shepherd Fund as an organization capable of attracting world-class talent.

FREE WORLD-CLASS CONCERT Ryo Yanagitani, hailed by the Washington Post as “a pianist’s pianist,” will open the 2018-19 season of the Maxwell Shepherd Memorial Arts Fund with a free concert on Sunday, Nov. 4, at 4 p.m. at First Congregational Church in Collinsville

While music got the wheels rolling, the fund soon broadened its offerings to include a variety of disciplines in the visual and performing arts. The breadth and quality of the fund’s music events have been especially impressive for a small, nonprofit arts organization. Several brilliant young classical pianists have thrilled audiences since the fund’s early years. Many have appeared multiple times. Their credits include awards from the most prestigious piano competitions and solo appearances with major orchestras such as the National Orchestra of Belgium, Hartford Symphony and San Antonio Symphony. The many string players who have performed at fund events have similar résumés, earning accolades across the classical world for their work as soloists or members of ensembles at music festivals around the world. Professional musicians have been a hallmark of the fund. The fund’s promotion of the visual arts has grown exponentially over the years. Its

Jazzercise fitness center has new owner

Jazzercise Farmington Valley Fitness Center has announced a change of ownership in Canton. Located at 261 Albany Turnpike, the center offers 28 classes weekly. Liz Michelson, who has been teaching Jazzercise for seven years, assumed ownership of the location on Sept. 1. “We constantly mix in new music and moves to keep the workouts fresh and challenging,” Michelson says. “Jazzercise will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, but it is still as fun and effective as ever because it is always evolving.” Jazzercise is a pulse-pounding, bass-dropping fitness program ... a calorie-torching, hip-swiveling dance workout with a hot playlist to distract from the burn. Customers can incinerate up to 800 calories in one 60-minute class. A variety of class formats include Interval, Strike, Fusion, Flip Fusion, Core, Strength and the original Dance Mixx. “We are a friendly, nonjudgmental studio whose members include people of all ages and abilities,” Michelson says. “Our instructors are well-versed in providing modifications, regardless of format type, to meet the needs of all our students.” To find local classes go to or download the myJazzercise mobile app (iOS or Android). For more info: or 860-202-4856.

SPOTLIGHT ON THE ARTS collaboration with Canton’s Gallery on the Green provided a lovely venue for events and benefited the gallery by drawing new visitors to its exhibits. The annual Maxwell Shepherd Memorial Arts Fund Invitational Exhibition is one of the best-attended events each year on the gallery’s calendar. Another partnership that began in 2016 with Five Points Gallery in Torrington has expanded the fund’s geographic reach while providing a unique setting for a yearly concert. The Shepherd Fund has used a variety of venues for its events — private homes, Collinsville Congregational Church, Canton Public Library and Canton Historical Society, among others. The fund’s longest venue relationship has been with Collinsville Congregational Church, which has hosted the Shepherd Music Series concerts since 2004. With wonderful acoustics and a majestic interior space, the church has been the setting for the most heavily attended fund events. Like all arts organizations, the Shepherd Fund is a work in progress. As it looks forward to its 15th season, it is fitting that the artist who started it all — pianist Ryo Yanagitani — will perform the opening concert on Nov. 4. + See page 11 for more on Yanagitani.

La Familia offers authentic Bolivian cuisine

La Familia Bolivian Restaurant offers cuisine in Canton that is true to the Bolivian tradition — authentic and handcrafted entrees, appetizers, desserts and traditional drinks. All appetizers, beer and wine are 25% off during happy hour (2-5 p.m.) every day. An upstairs lounge features pool tables, darts and foosball. The family-owned restaurant, which opened earlier this year, is located at 144 Albany Turnpike. Info: 860-693-6933.

“Direct Access to Your Health”

860-679-0430 Staff dedicated to the rehabilitation and well-being of our patients in a professional and supportive environment. 302 West Main Street, Suite 204, Avon, CT 06001 NEW LOCATION – 61 Maple Avenue, Canton, CT 06019 Sports Medicine | Orthopedic Medicine | Dance Medicine Vestibular Therapy | Neurological Rehab | Pilates | Massage Therapy



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Paid for by Witkos 2018, John Vamos, Treasurer. Approved by Kevin Witkos. 9/12/2018 2:16:36 PM