Community News

Transfer Station Swap Shop Open for Business

The thrill of discovery again awaits residents at the transfer station. This week saw the grand opening of the Swap Shop, which has replaced the former Norfstrom’s container. The new container will act as a recycling point for usable items that the owners no longer want.

Norfstrom’s was removed when the recycling privilege was abused by residents who brought inappropriate items—think toilets—and other bulky waste that they deposited outside the container when it was closed. Rather than providing a way to keep reusable items out of the waste stream, thereby saving tax dollars, it became a nuisance for the transfer station workers.

The idea was revitalized by Norfolk residents Susan Sloan and Kathleen Connolly, who began the effort to buy a new container by redeeming recyclable cans and bottles thrown out at the transfer station. Nickel-by-nickel they built up enough money to buy a container, which they have donated to the town.

Wednesday, they threw open the doors, posted signs and stacked flyers instructing residents how to use the facility. They already had it stocked with many items, such as an artist’s field easel, a hammock, cups and other items retrieved from the transfer station.

The container is not large, so it is most appropriate for dishes, toys, lamps, artwork, small furnishings and the like. 

“We are not accepting large items or medical supplies like walkers or wheelchairs,” said Sloan. “We can’t take flammable or hazardous items and no electronics.” 

Most of all, they do not want junk. “If it is garbage, throw it out,” said Connolly. They advised residents to recycle items appropriate to share with their neighbors. A group of volunteers will seek to maintain the Swap Shop, but if it is again abused, it will be closed down. 

The container will be open Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., through the fall. All donations must be left inside the Swap Shop. For questions about donations or help with delivery, call Sloan, 860-542-1671, or Connolly, 860-518-6156.

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Pop-up Farmers Market Eyed for Summer WIN

The Farmers Market will return to Town Hall grounds August 3 during the summer Weekend in Norfolk if 20 vendors sign up for spaces. The cut-off for reserving a space is July 2.

The Farmers Market Committee discussed a pop-up market centered around the theme of a Kid’s Day during its June 11 meeting and decided the event should include food service, live music and possibly even a juggler.

The markets, held weekly for years, were curtailed in frequency this year with only four pop-up events planned. The first, well-attended, was held last February at Botelle School during the winter Weekend in Norfolk.

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Food Pantry Needs Egg Cartons, Refrigerator

Did you know that the Norfolk Net Food Pantry would love to have your empty egg cartons, whether half-dozen or whole dozen? They get eggs in bulk to repackage for the families they serve, and empty cartons are always needed. Please donate them in the blue box by the lower door of Battell Chapel any time, or drop them off at the church office.

The Pantry also needs a (slightly) used, freestanding refrigerator without a freezer, preferably full sized, so that food shopping trips can be cut back to once a week. To donate an appliance, contact Lynn Deasy, volunteer director, at 860-307-7757.


The Meadow Is on the Move

Members of the town Friends of the Meadow Committee are heartened by progress being made this summer. The project had languished, but is now moving forward with restoration work even as an overall plan for City Meadow is devised.

Chairman Libby Borden said this week that the committee met Tuesday afternoon on Robertson Plaza to outline what will happen over the next three months. The committee has contracted with Native Habitat Restoration of Stockbridge, Mass., and Matt’s Landscaping of Falls Village to do preliminary work while plans are developed by Beth Romaker, manager of Meadowscapes, a division of Matt’s Landscaping.

“The first thing we will do is to mow the phragmites and cattails by June 15,” Borden said. “That will weaken the plants and in August, when they start to regenerate, they will be treated with herbicides.”

In the meantime, woody shrubs on the hillside will be cut and there will be spot eradication of invasive plants.

Matt’s Landscaping will do the work needed in the forebay to improve movement of water through it and will clean the gravel path that goes up the hill toward Route 44. 

“The important thing is we will finally have a plan,” Borden said. Romaker will create a tentative plan that will then be critiqued and refined by the Friends members. Subsequent plans will address issues such as placement of sculptures and where trees will be planted. “But that’s all in the future,” she said. 

Committee member Martyn Banks, a firefighter, reported that the Norfolk Volunteer Fire Department, which is now planning its new firehouse, is eager to collaborate with the Friends about complementary plantings on the adjacent parcels.

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Firehouse Committee to Seek Manager

The Firehouse Building Committee hopes to have a plan for the new facility finalized by the end of July, First Selectman Matt Riiska told his board of selectmen Tuesday afternoon.

“Members of the fire department have been attending the building committee meetings, so a lot of things are being hashed out. They’re doing a very good job of getting a plan that meets the fire department’s requirements but is well within reason of what they really need,” he said. 

He said architect David Stein recommended this week that the town employ a project manager. “I’m relying on David to provide names of people who we hope will apply,” Riiska said, adding that a subcommittee would make the selection. The project manager will get solid quotes for different components. The cost is estimated at $75,000 to $85,000.

Also to be hired is an estimator, who will look at the final plan and estimate how much it will cost so the town can pursue funding. That position could command a salary of about $15,000.  

The town is in line for $3 million in state funding and Riiska is trying to get another million in a federal grant. He confirmed that even though government money is involved, the town will not be compelled to take the lowest bid. 

Since the Planning and Zoning Commission gave approval for the site’s development, committee discussions have centered on what the building will look like. “We’re very aware of what it will look like and how it will fit into the community,” he said. 

The building will be constructed next to City Meadow and will be visible from a number of vantage points around the town’s center. Stein designed the building to have a rustic, barn-like quality so it would fit into the rural character of Norfolk and echo the color palette of nearby buildings. The building committee is now juggling how to achieve that appearance while keeping costs down.

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Kids Turn Teachers During School Celebration

Spirits were high at Botelle Elementary School Monday night as students ushered their families into classrooms during the annual Celebration of Learning, ready to “instruct” their parents in the skills they had been learning. 

The walls of the school were decorated with artwork created by the youngsters and the evening ended with a Spring Concert that showed off their musical skills.

“The kids are coming in and saying to their parents, ‘Follow me,’” said Principal Lauren Valentino with a smile. “They are so excited to show their parents what they have been learning. This has been a Botelle tradition for quite a while but this year we sent out individual invitations for people to come. We wanted to give the kids the opportunity to be the teachers.”

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Firehouse Committee Deep in Details of Project

The Firehouse Building Committee has started getting deep into details about what the new firehouse might look like when completed.

“We’re in the process of looking at different finishes, interior floor plans and things that will be going into the final cost analysis,” said First Assistant Fire Chief Matt Ludwig. “We haven’t picked things like fixtures, wall coverings or floor coverings. Next month, we will look at the mechanicals. We have to bring all that to a company that will create a cost projection based on the design.”

During Monday’s meeting the committee saw a slide presentation by architect David Stein of preliminary sketches for the interior design. Stein is the principal of the firm Silver Petrucelli and presented the design concept that was taken to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“It’s all very preliminary,” said Ludwig. “We will have another meeting in June when we’ll get a little more.”

The meetings are open to the public.

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Celebration of Learning Monday at Botelle

Handwritten invitations from Botelle Elementary School students went out this week for a Celebration of Learning to be held Monday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the school. 

While individual invitations were sent via the mail were sent to all families, town churches and local dignitaries, school Principal Lauren Valentino said the event is open to the entire community, especially the music concert that will be held at 6:30 p.m. There will be performances by each class, pre-kindergarten through Grade 6, as well as performances by the band and chorus.

Earlier in the evening, townspeople are encouraged to take a “Learning Journey,” exploring classrooms, visiting the Makerspace and enjoying the student’s art show.

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1813 Steeple Still a Norfolk Icon in 2024

When the Reverend Ammi Robbins persuaded his congregation to look for an architect to build “as good a house as you can for Six Thousand Dollars,” they voted to build it with a steeple. This was unusual for a northwestern Connecticut church in the Early Republic, historian Ann Havemeyer said. A cupola would have been more traditional at the time. 

Speaking to the crowd gathered this past Saturday for the dedication of the Church of Christ Congregational’s newly renovated and replaced steeple, Havemeyer explained that a “steeple was more visible. It functioned almost like a billboard, albeit a beautiful billboard….In Norfolk, a tall spire rising in the Green Woods, which people in more populated areas might have considered the backwoods, would be a sign of civility and refinement,” she said.

That beautiful beacon, erected in 1813, braved 211 severe Norfolk winters before it nearly succumbed to the ravages of time. It has been extensively restored since it was removed from the clock tower three-and-a-half years ago. A multi-year fundraising campaign brought in more than $575,000 toward the project and the church received a $200,000 State Historic Preservation Office grant.

Marie Civco, chairman of the church’s Raise the Steeple Committee, thanked all the volunteers and professionals who helped organize and support the restoration. Looking toward the future, the church is continuing its fundraising efforts to establish an endowment for the steeple’s future preservation.

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That Special Summer Feeling Is Coming Back

Summer is special in Norfolk with a plethora of activities to choose from. Perhaps the events with the greatest hometown feel are the ever-popular Friday Nights on the Green, which resume June 7 and continue through August 30. All programs start at 6:00 p.m. and run until 8 o’clock.

The series kicks off with pizza and games sponsored by the Botelle PTO and the Norfolk Hub. Music that night will be by Lucy Morningstar. The following week the much-anticipated Pet Parade will be held, sponsored by the Norfolk Library. Blossom, a sweet-tempered bulldog who attended the Memorial Day parade Monday in her Tea Party t-shirt, told me she was very much looking forward to seeing all her friends there.

On June 21, there will be a Woodland Celebration hosted by Great Mountain Forest and the Conservation Commission with music by Aimee Van Dyne, followed on June 28 by Blooming Flowers presented by the Norfolk Community Association. Music will be by Mad River Music.

July 5 will bring a Community BBQ, hosted by the Norfolk Hub with music by Kettle Creek. The Norfolk Land Trust will bring Skyhunters in Flight to the green July 12 and another community barbecue hosted by the Hub will close out the month on July 26. This time, Andy Styles will provide the music.

August 2, Weekend in Norfolk returns and there will be an audience-inclusive drum circle on the green. Keep your appetite whetted for August 9 when Aton Forest will treat townsfolk to pizza and ice cream. The following Friday, National Iron Bank and the Lions Club plan to further satisfy gustatory desires with a third community barbecue. With Labor Day on the horizon, the programs close August 30 with an ice cream social sponsored by the Lions Club Ambulance service.

All programs are free. In case of rain, music will be performed at the Norfolk Hub.

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