January is the month for lists. In the past, the local newspaper published a list of the top stories of the year in each of the area towns. It was something I always looked forward to reading but sadly that tradition has ended so I feel obligated, with a little help from my friends, to create my own list. The Ledyard Community Forum on Facebook helped with plenty of suggestions so coming up with top stories was fairly easy. Deciding which made the cut and then putting them in numerical order was the difficult part. I’m sure depending where you sit, some of the choices would be different.
In 2016 weather events didn’t make the top ten. No hurricanes, no major blizzards , no earthquakes and no lizards. May 2017 bring more of the same.
#10 We wish it had been a Trader Joe’s but Dollar Tree opened in the Ocean State Job Lot Plaza in a spot that seems to have been empty for a lifetime. Although the parking lot is still ugly, it sure did improve the over all appearance of the place. Now if they would just take care of the huge McCrater, at the traffic light exit. I’m hoping that in 2017 we will see some improvement at Cartway as even the mere mention of the name creates a firestorm on Facebook.
#9 The Ledyard Food Pantry celebrated the one year anniversary of its new location at the Ledyard Congregational Church. During 2016, the number of visits to the pantry tripled proving at least to me that the private sector often does a better job of government.
#8 The Ledyard Community Forum reaches 4000 members. Actually that didn’t happen until a week into January but membership rapidly increased through 2016. I would never imagined when I created the group in 2011 that it would grow as large as it is.
#7 Gales Ferry gets a Christmas Tree and Facebook Forum Headquarters. I've always thought it would be nice to have a community Christmas Tree in Gales Ferry/Ledyard. Well thanks to a whole lot of people, it happened. Former Mayor John Rodolico found the tree which was donated by Alan Habbe. Glenn McKenzie created an in ground stand for it. The Hirschfeld's volunteered to pick up the 16ft tree and transport it. The tree was transported on time to Ledyard Community Forum Headquarters at the corner of RT 12 and Military Highway owned by Merry Cassabria. Brouwers Tree Service volunteered their cherry picker for the lights. Residents donated cookies and lights and decorations and all around help. Barry Watrous helped direct and took some great photos. Steve Holyfield captured the official nighttime photo. How cool is #8?!
#6 Ledyard gets a cool new Superintendent of Schools. Jason Hartling was selected in August as the new Superintendent of Schools. I like his views on budgeting, transparency and communication. He’s even on Twitter. That’s cool. I’d call him the Great Communicator but I reserve that title for President Ronald Reagan.
#5 Gypsy Moths invade Ledyard. Ledyard was overrun by the nasty critters but those in Gales Ferry were hardly affected and may be in for a rude awakening. I’d recommend we all pray for a wet spring because the state seems clueless about how to handle the issue. There is a Town of Ledyard Gypsy Moth Committee that has been formed to consider aerial spraying. Visit www.OPENLEDYARD.com and select Gypsy Moth ad hoc committee for meeting group for meeting dates, agendas and minutes.
#4 Ledyard Trunk or Treat becomes YUGE. 49 Vehicles were decorated and 1600 people walked the grounds including 900 little ones. Merry and I passed out cotton candy. Can you say sticky?
#3 Speaking of YUGE, as a political junkie, 2016 couldn’t have been more interesting to watch. If someone would have told me a year ago that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders would win the Ledyard Primaries each with about 53 of the vote, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I wasn’t surprised at all to see Trump go on to win in Ledyard in November. The lack of Clinton signs and local enthusiasm seemed to be a good indicator.
#2 Ledyard gets a new Police Station. Although the voters approved a new police station in May of 2013, it took over 3 years to complete due to site work issues. I think the location next to Town Hall made it worth the wait especially combined with the improvements in the Ledyard Town Center. In 2016, Ledyard Swore in its first ever Police Chief, John Rich as Ledyard moved to an Independent Police Department.
#1 Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Ledyard is an extremely generous community. Although I often worry about “donor fatigue”, Ledyard never stops giving whether it is for Food Baskets, Stuff a Cruiser, the Santa Drive, or our First Annual Comfort and Joy Event gathering warm accessories for our neighbors in need. The Boy Scouts collected over 7000 food items during their annual Scouting for Food Drive and the Cub Scouts were there to help then and though out the year as were our firefighters, Parks and Recs Department and many other groups throughout Town. Thank you.
Each of you who contributed in some way is #1.