Did you hear … ?

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Gail and John Vena have lived in Monroe since 1972. Gail shares a story of the couple's eventful Memorial Day. Photo by Karen Coffey

Did you hear … ? is a new feature with events and news in brief.

Firefighters move woman to tears

MONROE, CT — Gail and John Vena were watching TV in the bedroom of their house on Hawthorne Drive on Memorial Day, when a neighbor saw smoke coming from their home and dialed 911.

“We saw all the flashing lights coming to our door,” Gail recalled. “There were about 10 firefighters. We didn’t have a fire, but they were all over our house checking everything out.”

While walking back into her home after the incident, she said, “I had tears of joy. I felt so good about Monroe. The volunteers are incredible.”

The Venas have lived in town since 1972.

Graduating on a high note

Zachary Friedman

Zachary Friedman graduated from Greens Farms Academy on June 10. The talented Monroe youth received the Music Award during the ceremony.

The award is presented to a senior “for contributing to the growth and success of the program through the highest proficiency and involvement in the classroom and in performance and by seeking constantly to expand his or her knowledge of music.”

Monroe man is a 21st Century Leader

Babatunde Olatinwo

Babatunde Olatinwo, of Monroe, received a 21st Century Leaders award from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in May.

The award recognizes students who have demonstrated exemplary standards of achievement, initiative and social awareness. Recipients have contributed to the university through exceptional accomplishments in research, leadership and outstanding creative and athletic talents that enhance the reputation of the campus.

Olatinwo earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing. He entered the accelerated nursing program at UMass Amherst after having served six years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force, where he received medals for outstanding achievement and meritorious service.

As a reservist, he continues to work in support of missions with the 439th Airlift Wing. A standout student in a challenging 17-month nursing program, Olatinwo dedicated many hours during the pandemic caring for homeless individuals in Springfield who had either been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19.

He then volunteered to help set up the UMass Public Health Promotion Center, facilitating campus and community testing and contact tracing efforts and recruiting workers. As a graduate, he continues to contribute to UMass, providing education and administering vaccines in the campus clinic.

Even before completing his degree in February, Olatinwo began work as the first nurse resident in the perioperative care unit of Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. His next goal is to pursue an advanced degree at UMass Amherst.

Jones joins HCCF board

Andrea Jones

BRIDGEPORT, CT — Andrea Jones, of Monroe, recently became a new member of the Housatonic Community College Foundation’s board. She will help support the organization’s work to improve HCC students’ access to quality post secondary education.

Jones, most recently was V.P. of Human Resources at Bigelow Tea. She has held HR leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies, including United Technologies and Danaher Corporations. Jones has a Master of Science degree in Operations Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Central Florida.

HCCF, a not-for-profit organization, has been supporting Housatonic Community College and its students for over three decades. In addition to providing scholarships, awards and assistance funds to students, the foundation provides financial assistance to the college, assisting in its role as a unique educational resource for the region.

Roadwork to slow traffic in some areas

Monroe Public Works says drivers can expect lane closures with some delays for roadwork running through Friday July 2. The work will include:

  • Drainage on William Henry Drive, from Walnut Street to Osborn Lane
  • Drainage on Plumer Lane, from William Henry Drive to the cul-de-sac
  • Paving on Highfield Drive, from North Hillside Lane to the cul-de-sac
  • Paving on Mon-Tar Drive, from Cross Hill Road to the cul-de-sac
  • Paving on North Hillside Lane, from Stable Ridge Road to the cul-de-sac
  • Drainage/utility work on Pepper Street, from Grant Road to Northern Route 25
Rock on with Summer Concerts

Monroe Parks and Recreation will host its 33rd annual Summer Concert Series, bringing in musical talent to Wolfe Park on Friday evenings. Bring a blanket, chairs and some family and friends for an evening under the stars.

All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. The schedule includes:

  • July 30: ’60 Satisfaction
  • Aug. 6: Nightshift
  • Aug. 13: Still Kickin’ with the Big City Horns
  • Aug. 20: AfterShock Band
  • Aug. 27: KC Sisters
  • Sept. 3: Mary Beth Sippin and Goldrush Band

For information, visit monroerec.org, send an email to [email protected], visit the Monroe Parks and Recreation Department, 7 Fan Hill Road, or call 203-452-2806.

Character Nights

Family Character Nights at Wolfe Park will feature children’s favorites Mickey and Elmo this summer. Monroe Parks and Recreation hosts these events on select Wednesday nights from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Dragon and Unicorn will be there on June 30, Winnie the Pooh and Clifford on July 7, and Elmo and Barney on July 14.

Buy dinner at the Lake Concession Pavilion from Romeo’s Deli, participate in an evening swim at the lake, use the playground, build sand castles on the beach and don’t forget your camera.

Those who have a valid Wolfe Park sticker may attend the events for free. Those without a sticker can attend by paying a $10 car fee at the entrance gate. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

In the event of inclement weather, call the information line at 203-339-6106 starting at 3 p.m. on the day of the event.

Characters are subject to change and the typical activities such as the moon bounce and face painting will not be available this summer due to COVID-19 guidance.

Wolfe Park Pool schedule

Monroe Parks and Recreation recently released its schedule for the Wolfe Park Pool. It is subject to change due to weather and other unforeseen circumstances. For information on memberships and fees, click here.

Pool use ends 15 minutes prior to locker room and facility closing, so attendees are asked to plan accordingly.

  • June – Aug. 1 (Tues., Wed., Thur.): Pool open 12 p.m. – 8 p.m. Locker room closes at 8:15 p.m.
  • Aug. 2 – 25 (Fri., Sat., Sun., Mon.): Pool open 10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Locker room closes at 7:45 p.m.
  • Aug. 2 – 25 (Tues., Wed., Thur.): Pool open 12 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Locker room closes at 7:45 p.m.
  • Aug. 26, 27 (Thur, Fri): Pool open 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. Locker room closes at 7:15 p.m. Monroe Schools are in session.
  • Aug. 28, 29 (Sat., Sun.): Pool open 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Locker room closes at 7:15 p.m.
  • Aug. 30 – Sept. 3 (Mon., Tues., Wed., Thur., Fri.): Pool open 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. Locker room closes at 7:15 p.m. Monroe Schools are in session
  • Sept. 4 – 6 (Sat., Sun., Mon.): Pool open 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Locker room closes at 7:15 p.m.

For information on pool memberships, a day pass and general pool rules, visit Parks and Rec.’s website or call 203-452-2806 Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. or Friday 8:30am – 1:30 p.m.

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