Hemmann on road to recovery

Wethersfield Mayor Donna Hemmann received a major health scare when doctors at Hartford Hospital found a pituitary tumor in her head this September. But after a rough road, Hemmann  feels fortunate to be on the path to full recovery.

Wethersfield Mayor Donna Hemmann speaks at a Memorial Day 2010 ceremony at Village Cemetery. Photo credit Ken Sokolowski.

The ordeal began in mid- September.
“I woke up on 9/11 with a severe headache,” Hemmann said.
Although in excruciating pain, she still went to work the next Monday and didn’t end up going to the doctor until the following Tuesday because she had been on vacation the prior week and thought no one would believe she was sick.
After Hemmann received a CT scan during her visit to the hospital, doctors shared some bad news.
“The doctor sat down in front of me and told me I have a pituitary tumor,” Hemmann said.
It was in a sinus and swift action was taken. She had surgery on Wednesday afternoon. Surgeons carefully removed the golf ball-sized tumor through her nose.
Doctors at Hartford Hospital first had to treat Hemmann’s deviated septum, which Hemmann didn’t even no she had, before they could remove the tumor.
“They had to fix that before they could take out the tumor because they need two clear paths. Well I never even knew I had a deviated septum,” Hemmann said with a laugh. “How would I know?”

Though it is sometimes best to carry a positive attitude with any serious health issues, Hemmann couldn’t help but be afraid.
“I was very scared as anyone would be,” she said. “My husband was with me and he was scared to death.”
To deal with what was the unknown at the time, Hemmann, who has experience as a nurse, found a way to cope.
“Asking questions became my tool, if you will,” Hemmann said. While talking with doctors on the night she learned of her tumor, Hemmann said her headache was extremely severe, so bad in fact that her hair hurt. Her left eye was stuck closed, and doctors told her that she was seeing double, although she didn’t think she was.
Finally around 9 p.m. on the same night, the doctors plan of attack was set, and Hemmann could get ready for surgery the next day.
“When they answered all my questions, I was able to take pain medication and sleep,” said Hemmann, who is now getting back into the swing of normal life after the successful surgery. She said the whole experience has been life changing, and motivated her to clean up her act. She is now trying to eat healthy and walk a lot to regain her stamina. She isn’t allowed to lift anything heavy. Doctors gave her a five-pound limit.
“The doctor told me no more than a coffee cup,” Hemmann said. “That’s difficult. What do you do when you go to a grocery store…I can’t pick up my granddaughter. She’s heavier than a coffee cup.”
She is hoping some restrictions will be let up after her next visit to the neurosurgeon in December. Hemmann hopes to be able to go to a gym once she is allowed.
One in every 40,000 people in America develop Pituitary tumors.
“It’s pretty common,” Hemmann said of her condition.
Hemmann credited the staff of Hartford Hospital and their “phenomenal team of physicians.”
“They work together as a team doing similar types of surgery, through the nose as they are able, which is such a good thing for the person having it done.”
The mayor has a message to everyone in the town of Wethersfield.
“Pay attention to your symptoms,” she said. “Make sure you go to see your doctor as your supposed to. Things happen to everyone, and if you pay attention to some of those signs, you could have a good outcome. Sometimes you can’t and that’s unfortunate. In this instance it was a good outcome.”



The Wethersfield Police Department has a Facebook page, but it’s not to socialize.
Everyone’s on Facebook nowadays. From teenagers to senior citizens, the social networking Web site has grown in popularity and spanned the ever growing age gap in our country. Since so many people use the site and make a habit of checking it daily, Chief of Police James Cetran and Sgt. Tom Mitney from the WPD came together on an idea that would create a service through Facebook that is beneficial to the town.
“We wanted to create a cheap and easy way to communicate with the community,” said Cetran on the goal of his department’s Facebook page.
It has been a success so far. On the page, Cetran and Mitney post recent activity reports every week to let Wethersfield residents know what has been going on around town. Videos are posted with suspicious persons that residents can help identify. Residents also pose questions via wall posts that are answered in a timely manner by either Mitney or Cetran.
“It has worked out extremely well, and we even located a stolen car that had been used in a local burglary that a fan reported to us,” Cetran said.
1,250 people are fans of the site, and according to Cetran, that number grows daily.
“We gain new friends and fans on a daily basis,” he said.
Cetran credits Mitney with keeping the page updated and keeping residents of Wethersfield informed about crime.

Scarecrows on Main St.

"An unhappy bride"

One of the many scarecrows on display along Main St. in Wethersfield

You might have noticed something different about Main Street in Old Wethersfield lately. There is a new presence in town, some visitors that at first glance might seem a bit spooky and out of place. But don’t worry, these visitors aren’t here to scare you, even though their name might imply such.
Scarecrows have moved into Old Wethersfield, and they will inhabit the Main Street business section until Oct. 24 for an event called “Scarecrows Along Main Street,” established 15 years ago by members of The Olde Wethersfield Shopkeepers Association.
“It was started as a way to encourage people to visit Main Street,” said Dana Spicer, owner of Heart of the Country, a gift shop at 169 Main St.
In the past, “Scarecrows Along Main Street” has showcased the creativity and ingenuity of children, families and organizations of Wethersfield and its surrounding communities.
Spicer said the idea for the event started 15 years ago when a member of the Shopkeepers Association went to an out-of-state harvest festival and saw something similar. “We thought the event would be a nice thing,” she said. “It’s a way to feature businesses in Old Wethersfield.”
Usually around 50 different submissions are showcased on Main Street from the intersection of Garden Street to the intersection of Hartford Avenue.

ROCKY HILL-Several million dogs and cats enter animal shelters every year, and a high percentage of those animals are put down annually due to extreme animal overpopulation.
Michelle Riccio, 22, of Rocky Hill, has an ambitious plan to save animals. The catch is, she wants to include the help of incarcerated criminals. It sounds like an out of the ordinary idea, but it’s not unheard of.
Riccio graduated from Wheaton College outside of Boston last year, and now works at an insurance company in Rocky Hill. She said that Wheaton instilled in her “a strong sense of community and giving back to the community.” She worked at an animal shelter in Massachusetts while in school, and even fostered three different dogs in her living quarters, even though Riccio said she probably wasn’t supposed to.
“It’s definitely from an animal perspective,” said Riccio on why she originally came up with her proposal, titled “Don’t Throw Us Away.” Riccio has a love for animals, and said she would love to “adopt every dog that’s in a shelter” if it was possible.
“Don’t Throw Us Away” is an ambitious proposal that aims to create a partnership between prisons and shelters that gives both inmates and shelter dogs a new lease on life. Riccio researched prisons in Virginia that have put into action similar proposals. Virginia started with one prison running a human-canine rehabilitation program, and now has five. She also found similar programs in New York. She learned that these programs are doing wonders for both humans and dogs.
“Prison dog programs are proving that the relationship between inmates and shelter dogs creates empathy, love and compassion,” said Riccio. “In this unlikely partnership, homeless dogs gain the love, training and rehabilitation that will make them adoptable, and inmates become empathetic, gain a sense of responsibility and purpose, allowing them to re-enter society as productive citizens.”
The proposed program would partner six inmates at a Connecticut prison with six dogs rescued off a kill shelter’s euthanasia list. The inmates will work with a professional dog trainer for eight weeks to give the dogs basic obedience training. After completing the eight week training program, the dogs will be available for adoption by loving families.
The training would certify the dogs as under the “Canine Good Citizenship” program. Riccio is using the CGC’s ten step training and testing process that stresses responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs.
To gather funding for her proposal, Riccio has applied for a 25K Pepsi Refresh grant. The Pepsi Refresh Grant projects seeks to fund 32 projects a month created by “people, businesses and non-profits with ideas that will make a positive impact” in that person’s community. All projects must benefit people, animals, environment or places in the United States. There are six categories: Health, Arts and Culture, Food and Shelter, The Planet, Neighborhoods, Education; Riccio’s proposal falls under the Food and Shelter category.
Riccio is currently in 26th place for voting during the month of September. The top 10 vote getters for each month receive the $25,000 grant, while the top 100 proposal requests are transferred to the next month when voting starts all over again.
If Riccio can obtain the grant, she said “it will make (the program) sustainable for a couple of years.” After that, adoption fees, which run between $350-$450, will cover the programs proposed costs. Riccio feels that dogs down south are much needier then they are up north. “Some shelters (down south) have a 90% euthanasia rate,” she said. Because of this, Riccio will try to pull dogs from animal shelters in the southern region of the country.
There is another prison-dog program in Connecticut, according to Riccio. She said that program runs longer. Riccio hopes that using a shorter eight week training program will increase turnover and adoption rates.
“I have a passion about animal’s and giving people second chances,” Riccio said. “You shouldn’t just be written off.”

The following is information on how to vote:

There are two ways to vote, online and/or text voting. You can do
either one or both.  In order to vote online, you must create a voting
account. It’s free and there’s no spam mail. You must create a voting
account or your votes will not register. On the Refresh Everything
website (http://www.refresheverything.com/) click on “Join Refresh
Everything” on the blue bar on the bottom of the page.
After your account has been created, you’ll be able to vote. Remember
that you need to have an account and sign in to vote.  You can vote
once a day, every day for the month of September. The following is the
specific link to my project.


Text voting is the other method for voting. There is no need to create
an account with this method.  How to text vote: To: 73774 Message:

WETHERSFIELD-The 3rd annual Wethersfield UNICO Bocce Tournament will be held on October 3rd at Millwoods Park on Prospect Street in Wethersfield.
Registration for the tournament may be made in advance or on the day of the tournament and the registration fee of $25 per person includes lunch.
“The net proceeds benefit the Jimmy V Foundation,” said Wethersfield UNICO president Michael Fortunato. “It’s a UNICO charity.”
By UNICO charity, Fortunato means the Jimmy V Foundation is a charity UNICO has designated to sponsor or promote.
The tournament will start around 10 a.m., and will go to about 3 p.m. said Fortunato. “Lunch is served along with prizes and awards,” he said. Prizes include bottles of Italian wine for those of age, as well as athletic shirts.
Fortunato said there are already 25-30 people registered for this years tournament. Some are new players, and some are veterans. It will be an open tournament, meaning teams can be mixed with men and women. Fortunato isn’t sure whether the tournament will be single elimination like last year, or something different this year. “It’s based on how many people we get,” he said.
Bocce, meaning bowl, was originally developed in Italy, and is a game commonly played by Italian Americans, but can easily be enjoyed by all. The tournament has no age limit, and there is no prior Bocce experience needed for people interested in playing.
The game is initiated by throwing a small white ball, called a Pallino, onto the court. Each team has four larger balls that are bowled towards the Pallino. For every turn, a minimum of one point and a maximum of four points can be awarded. Whichever team bowls closest to the Pallino is awarded a point. Matches in the UNICO Bocce League are to 12.
Every Thursday from 6 p.m. until the sun sets, the Wethersfield UNICO Bocce League gathers in the Millwoods Park picnic area to play a game that celebrates Italian culture. The league plays on two 74- by 15-foot Bocce courts donated by UNICO in 2006. UNICO is a national non-profit group with the goal of enhancing the image of Italian Americans, promoting the Italian culture and giving back to the community. Fortunato organized the league back in 2006 with the goal of garnering more attention for UNICO, which stands for Unity, Neighborliness, Integrity, Charity, and Opportunity.
The registration form for the tournament can be found at http://www.wethersfieldunico.org.

WETHERSFIELD-The 5th Annual Wethersfield High School Hockey Alumni Golf Tournament will tee-off rain or shine on Saturday October 2 at Goodwin Park Golf Course in Hartford, located at 1130 Maple Avenue.
All funds raised at the tournament will support the Wendell H. Coogan Ice Hockey Scholarship. Coogan was an English teacher at WHS in the 1970’s when he first found the ice hockey team at the high school.
“He was the very first one who got the team started,” Arnie Mason said of Coogan. “He coached the team as well.” Mason isn’t a WHS hockey alumni, but two of his sons are. He is more involved in the administrative end as the former president of Central Connecticut Youth Hockey and current president of the WHS Ice Hockey Booster Club.
Coogan is in his 70s now, and according to Mason only stopped playing hockey a few years ago. Everything Coogan has done for ice hockey in Wethersfield is so appreciated, the booster club went as far as to honor him by bestowing a scholarship to high school seniors in his name.
Mason mentioned Bill Desrosiers as another key supporter of the Wethersfield ice hockey team. Desrosiers was one of the first players to skate for Coogan four decades ago.
“Bill had wanted to start and alumni group for many years,” said Mason, who couldn’t remember the exact year, but thought it was around 2002 or 2003. “Initially it was to raise money to get scholarships for higher education for any player from Wethersfield High School.”
Along with the golf tournament, the alumni group also holds an alumni game every winter, and after both the golf outing and the game a dinner is held.
“Usually in March we go to the high school awards dinner to give scholarships to seniors,” said Mason. Seniors who want to receive the Wendell H. Coogan Ice Hockey Scholarship have to fill out an application, write an essay, have excellent grades, and give back to the community.
This year, the Alumni Golf Tournament will offer 18 holes of golf, green fees and carts, unlimited practice balls on the driving range, a longest drive contest, a putting contest, a closest to the pin contest, and a raffle with prizes. A barbecue lunch will also be served.
Golf and lunch costs $100 per person. For either a tee or green sponsor, the cost is also $100, and for both a tee and green sponsor, the cost is $150.
Registration for the tournament will begin at 7 a.m. at the course.
“We’re looking for people to play,” said Mason. “You don’t have to be a hockey player. Ultimately it’s all for scholarships.”

WETHERSFIELD-The Parent Teacher Organization at Emerson-Williams Elementary School have organized the first annual Emerson-Williams PTO Golf Tournament to be held on Saturday, October 2 at Goodwin Park Golf Course in Hartford.
Money raised at the golf tournament will go to a new playground at Emerson-Williams. The current playground is falling apart, according to PTO member Paul LaPerriere.
“It’s getting that way,” he said. “Inspectors have said it’s safe, but getting outdated. Major parts are hard to find, so if it breaks, we can’t get those parts, and we have to tear the whole thing down.”
LaPerriere was the first to mention a golf tournament to the Emerson PTO to fund the new playscape, which can cost about $80,000. The PTO loved his idea from the beginning.
“They were happy about the potential,” he said. “What kind of funds it can generate. The PTO can’t raise $80,000 at one time by itself.”
As of last Tuesday, Laperriere said there were already 30 golfers committed to playing. Cost for the tournament is $110 per golfer. Cost includes golf, dinner, lunch, a raffle with prizes, a 50/50 contest, a closest to pin contest, a long drive contest, and a hole-in-one contest.
As an avid golfer for the past 12-15 years, LaPerriere is hoping for a big turnout. “Hopefully we can build upon (the tournament), make it successful, build the playscape, and keep the tournament going.” LaPerriere hopes that the tournament will go on after the playscape is funded to supplement money for any other needs Emerson-Williams Elementary School has.
Learn more about the golf tournament and the Emerson-Williams PTO by visiting there site at http://www.ewpto.com, or contact LaPerriere at:
Paul LaPerriere