Saturday, January 30, 2016

Straw Poll to Benefit CT Trees of Honor Memorial

CT Trees of Honor Memorial
On Sunday, January 31st from 4-8 PM, a bi-partisan straw poll, the first of its kind, will convene at Camp's Restaurant, 412 Main Street, in Middletown.  All proceeds will go to benefit the Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial, located within Veteran's Memorial Park, also in Middletown, on Walnut Grove Rd..  Trees of Honor was founded by Sue Martucci.

Held the day before the Iowa Caucus, the event presents Connecticut residents a fun forum to support their choice in the race for the Presidency before the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire narrow the field.  It is open to anyone over the age of 15.
This event, organized by Connecticut National Guardsman John Kilian, has been received with enthusiasm by various campaigns and party leaders. Outreach by GOP Chair J.R. Romano has resulted in advance coverage in the Middletown Insider and further outreach to GOP leaders by the editor, Bill Boylan.

Cpl. Jordan Pierson Falujah, 2006 Charlie Company USMC

Middletown Democratic Town Committee Chairman and Councilman Robert Blanchard has secured representation from the Clinton and Sanders campaigns.  Susan Bysiewicz, former Middletown State Rep. and Connecticut Secretary of State, will speak on behalf of the Clinton campaign.  Ed Warner, organizer of several meetings of Sanders campaign, has put the Middletown Straw Poll on a lot of people's calendars.
Bill Boylan has lined up Joe Visconti, candidate for senate and former gubernatorial candidate, to speak on behalf of Donald Trump.
We look forward to seeing them all.
Spc. Tyanna Avery-Felder US Army, 2004 Iraq
Middletown Press editor, Cassandra Day, will preside over the event.  Secret balloting will run throughout the evening; ballots can be had for a minimum $10.00 donation, limit one ballot per person.  All the monies rasied through the purchase of ballots will go toward completion of the Memorial.  25% of the proceeds from food and beverage sales also go toward the Memorial.  (No monies raised at this event will go toward any candidate or political party.)  There will be first, second and third choices indicated on the same ballot, so in the event of a tie, there can be an instant run-off.
The poll opens at 4:00.  There will be live music performed by the gypsy-swing band, Chat Noir, along with a re-cap of the day's Spanish Soccer League matches.  Cocktails, appetizers and dinner will be available from the restaurant all evening along.
Capt. Brian Letendre USMC 2006 Iraq
At 5:00, guests will be treated to a reading from Middletown's Poet Laureate, Susan Allison, of the Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts and Cultural Center.  Following Susan is Sal's Amature Hour, featuring speakers from the floor who may wish to speak on behalf of their favorite presidential candidate.  Speaker names will be drawn from a signup list.  They will each have 3-5 minutes to speak.

There will be a brief intermission at 6:00 where hopefully, we will be entertained by belly dancing and/or a Tango performance by an expert duo.  (This is still a work in progress; keep your fingers crossed!)  Then, Sue's Hour will take us to 7:00 with speeches from representatives of the several candidates.  There are still candidates not represented by surrogates, but that may change between now and Sunday.  In person speakers are preferred, but candidate videos will be accepted.  (spread the word!)

Camps 412 Main St.
Following the candidates' speakers, there will be more live music.  At 8:00 the poll closes.  Ballots will be counted and the winners, Republican and Democrat and overall, will be announced!

Visit the Facebook event page here:
Parking is available on Main Street and in the Municipal lot adjacent to the rear entrance of Camp's, on Melilli Drive.
Written by John Kilian and Bill Boylan
Photos by Bill Boylan

Back story:  Just to illustrate how peculiarly the circle of life moves; how a culmination of events and circumstances, over time, come together and shape our futures; I offer this story.

In 2006, one of my sons deployed to Iraq with Connecticut's Plainville based Marine Corp Reserve Unit, Charlie Company.  While he was there, I corresponded with his Gunnery Sergeant, Ben Grainger.  Sometime after their return, Ben and I connected through Linkdin and occasionally corresponded.

A couple years ago, Ben invited me to a fundraising dinner and auction to benefit . . . you guessed it; CT Trees of Honor.  It was at that event that he and I first met.  Since then, we have become friends.  He has invited me to his house on a number of occasions and I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of his wife, Tess, aka Jan and their pack of ferocious dogs that will lick you to death, if you let them.

This past summer, Ben invited me to a "Gathering at the Barn", held on his property to honor those who fell in service to our country.  There, I met some of the parents of our lost heroes.

Along the way, I became involved with the local Republican Party and wrote a number of posts for a local blog, The Middletown Insider.  Eventually, I was made a contributing editor.  In November past, the Editor in Chief decided it was time to move on and offered the job to me.

Earlier this month, John Kilian contacted JR Romano, State GOP Chairman, about the straw poll.  Knowing I was local, Editor of the Insider and a "friendly" within the Party and media, JR contacted me to see what I knew about the event, which was nothing.
After making a few inquiries, I got back to JR and reported that this was something the Party should get behind and support.  It was a good cause.  CT Trees of Honor is something near and dear to me, having a son, a Purple Heart recipient, who served in Iraq.  I offered to help John on behalf of the State GOP.  JR gave his OK.  I brought the matter up to Middletown RTC Chair, Ken McClellan, who gave his blessing to act on behalf of Middletown Republicans, also.
So here we are, today; myself in a position of having the resources to do far more to help the CT Trees of Honor than could have been imagined that cold winter's day I attended a pasta dinner, just a few years ago.  In my mind, such a set of circumstances could only be arranged by Divine Providence.  There seems to be a plan.
Editor in Chief

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