Community News

Inflation Will Boost Housing Construction Costs

Even as infrastructure installation for the Haystack Woods affordable housing project nears its end, the Foundation for Norfolk Living is repricing construction costs for the 10 Net-Zero homes. 

“We’re figuring out our costs for construction,” said foundation President Kate Johnson, an architect who designed the buildings to produce as much energy as they consume. Inevitably, pricing will have to reflect the increased costs of materials, labor and lending.

She noted that the project has encountered repeated delays—the most recent being ledge on the site this summer that required blasting. “Fortunately, that chapter is moving behind us,” she said, predicting construction of buildings will begin next spring.

“SOCKtober” Collects Socks for Needy

Through mid-November, the United Church of Christ will participate in SOCKtober, collecting new socks for the needy. Residents are asked to collect socks at home and then, starting in mid-month, drop them off at Botelle School or at Battell Chapel.

This project is being led by “Mission Impact”—a new organization that offers teens in the region (Grades 6-12 ) an opportunity to make a difference locally. Mission Impact meets again Sunday, October 15, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in Battell Chapel to decorate SOCKtober boxes. All are welcome.

Socks will go to local YMCAs and the Norfolk Clothes Closet.

Church Survey About Community Needs

Noting that times are changing, the United Church of Christ is reaching out to residents—those who attend a church and those who do not—seeking input on how to make the church most responsive to the community’s needs.

It has published a brief survey (four questions) which it invites respondents to answer “thoughtfully and honestly.” Click here for the survey.

Firehouse Hearing Continues Monday

Residents are reminded of the Inland Wetlands Agency’s continued public hearing on an application for a new firehouse. The hearing will reconvene Monday evening at 7:05 p.m. in the Hall of Flags at Botelle School.

The IWA is taking a hard look at the potential disturbance of wetlands on the Shepard Road site, which sits adjacent to City Meadows. The site already has a firehouse on it and the application calls for construction of a new and significantly larger structure on the opposite side of the lot. A subterranean drainage system has been designed for the site, which the engineer asserts will be more beneficial to the wetlands than existing conditions.

The IWA nevertheless asked for “functions and values” and Phase I environmental impact reports to facilitate its deliberations.

Library Book Sale Proceeds Healthy

The giant book sale staged each August by the Norfolk Library Associates is one of the major fundraisers for the group and brought in healthy returns this year. Proceeds from the sale help to fund cultural events and art show receptions at the library throughout the year.

Thousands of books are “rehomed” through the event, which draws booklovers from as far away as New York City. A small army of volunteers gathers annually to assist in the preparation for and conduct of the sale.

Paul Madore, Library Associates treasurer, reported on the success of this year’s sale recently, saying that book sales grossed $19,523, and the opening night soiree added another $6,800. Some small expenses have yet to be settled. 

How do Firefighters Tackle Really Bad Fires?

When the fire alarm goes off, it sets in motion well-rehearsed procedures designed to prevent loss of life and property. But how do companies handle major conflagrations such as the fire at the Langendoerfer home that are beyond the capacity of one company to control?

Sunday’s fire was a textbook illustration of mutual aid and coordinated response.

“All incidents start and end local,” said Jon Barbagallo, public information officer for the Norfolk Volunteer Fire Department. “The first officer on the scene makes the determination based on necessity. Sunday morning’s fire started with the Norfolk fire department and ambulance, but active structure fires automatically cue Litchfield Dispatch to send mutual aid.” 

“Sunday’s fire was an immediate second alarm,” Barbagallo said. “It wasn’t necessarily equipment that was needed—what we requested was a manpower strike team. We needed interior firefighters for crew relief, so they brought in Thomaston, Watertown, Harwinton and Woodbury. It was the biggest response we have had since last November’s gas spill.”

The strike team gathered at the Drakeville Fire House in Torrington and responded to Norfolk from there. Barbagallo said there were probably 50 active firefighters on the scene Sunday night.

The regional fire departments have developed plans for mutual aid and Litchfield Dispatch knows which resources to dispatch and in which order. Practices are held throughout the year to give firefighters experience in responding to a scene. 

County coordinators add to the organization of services. “County coordinators assist the incident commander with shortfalls,” said Barbagallo. “They collect ID tags, help with the staging area, keeping track of what equipment is where, who can come to the scene and who will back up other companies by manning their firehouses. Coordinators free the incident commander up when you have a flood of people coming in.”

The county coordinators and incident commander use special command boards that were purchased through regional funds and that are scattered around the county—Norfolk has one in its firehouse.

The firefighters were called to Langendoerfer residence at 3:48 a.m. with many leaving the scene by mid-morning. But the work was not yet over. All the equipment had to be cleaned, dried and returned to the fire trucks in readiness for another call.

“That wasn’t complete until Monday night,” Barbagallo said. “That’s the advantage of having multiple trucks—for a day our backup truck was the lead truck so there was no reduction in service.”

Norfolk does not own a ladder truck, the most expensive piece of equipment, but Barbagallo said there are four in neighboring towns that can come to a scene. 

Greenwoods Puppet Festival October 13-14

The Greenwoods Puppet Festival returns Friday and Saturday, October 13 and 14. Friday opens at 3:45 p.m. with a showing of a creative puppet film and a meet-and-greet with the puppeteers. On Saturday, puppet shows will be held between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., with a big puppet parade at 3:00 p.m. All

Fire Department Starts Breast Cancer Drive

The Norfolk Fire Department is selling breast cancer themed t-shirts for $25 at the National Iron Bank branch at 12 John Curtiss Road. Sizes range from small to XXL while supplies last. Proceeds go to Norfolk Children’s Foundation. See a sample of the t-shirts at the Norfolk Hub.

Haystack Book Festival Begins Friday

The annual Haystack Book Festival, sponsored by the Norfolk Foundation, will again bring together writers and thinkers to explore new ideas in literature and the arts. “Writing Lives” kicks off the event Friday at 4:00 p.m. with Ada Calhoun (“Also a Poet”) and Priscilla Gilman (“The Critics Daughter: A Memoir”) in conversation with novelist and memoirist, Courtney Maum. Click here to register.

The Brendan Gill Lecture will be presented at 6:00 p.m. by Susanna Moore (“The Lost Wife: A Novel.”) Click here to register.

“On the Use and Abuse of Religion for Life” is slated for Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with Elizabeth Bucar, (“Stealing My Religion: Not Just Any Cultural Appropriation”) in conversation with Bob Smietana (“Reorganized Religion: The Reshaping of the American Church and Why it Matters.”) Click here to register.

“Inspired by the Legacy of Anne Garrels” will be offered Saturday at 1:00 p.m. George Packer (“The Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal”) will appear in conversation with Elizabeth Becker (“You Don’t Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War.”) Click here to register.

“Liberalism and Resentment: Political Ideas and Emotions” is slated for 3:00 p.m. Saturday. Presenters will be Robert Schneider (“The Return of Resentment: The Rise and Decline and Rise Again of a Political Emotion”) in conversation with Samuel Moyn, (“Liberalism Against Itself: Cold War Intellectuals and the Making of Our Times.”) Click here to register.

“A Look at Contemporary America by Traveling Through History” will be 11:00 a.m. Sunday. Neil King Jr., (“American Ramble: A Walk of Memory and Renewal,”) will be in conversation with Rinker Buck (“Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure.” Click here to register.

The festival ends Sunday at 1:30 p.m. with “How the Changing Landscape Touches Us All—Humans and Non-Humans Alike.” Carl Salina, (“Alfie & Me: What Owls Know, What Humans Believe,”) will be the presenter. Click here to register.

Barbour Woods in Readers’ Choice Contest

Residents are asked to help nominate Barbour Woods for Best Hiking Trail in the third annual Readers’ Choice Awards from Rural Intelligence. These awards shine the spotlight on the most outstanding establishments, organizations, and people in the region, chosen by their readers.

The Norfolk Land Trust, trustee of the Woods, think the Barbour Woods trails deserve to be nominated. Several hiking trails loop from the main carriage trail and include views of Haystack Mountain, the Killarney Bridge and the Swamp Trail’s gorgeous vernal pools.

The nominations remain open through September 30. The site with the most nominations wins.

For more information or to nominate the Barbour Woods, click here