Animalsmatter's HamletHub Sun, 04 Jun 2023 02:25:35 -0400 Employed, Engaged, & Excited for the Next Journey - Aaron’s Prospector Story

Meaningful work is a vehicle through which we can grow, dream, and transform our lives. For many, the road to employment is filled with roadblocks and detours, revving up feelings of frustration, isolation, and insecurity. However, with the right support, and a drive to succeed, a job can help us reach our dream destination. That’s exactly what former Prospect Aaron Miller is doing with his life.

Aaron’s journey at the Prospector began over eight years ago. As a high schooler, Aaron worked nights and weekends as an usher, concessionist, and member of the Prospector’s Clean Team. The team at the Prospector soon discovered Aaron’s sparkle - or talents and passions. It was ultimately Aaron’s introduction to the Facilities team that sparked a passion for hands-on, hard work. Through performing regular maintenance and repairs around the Theater and grounds, Aaron began to shine - keeping the property in tip-top shape. From touch-up painting to landscaping, cabinet-making to concessions repairs, Aaron established a reputation as a handyman-extraordinaire. 

His technical and mechanical skills led him to Gemstone Farm - a working farm in Connecticut that partners with the Prospector to create competitive and inclusive employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Gemstone’s operation spans over 160 acres and features a garden, orchard, beehives, lakes, ponds, chickens, goats, sheep, pigs, and much more. With plenty of farm machinery and vehicles needing maintenance and upkeep, Aaron became a vital part of the Gemstone program.

The road before Aaron became clear. He put the pedal to the metal and began automotive school. Prospector’s Facilities Manager, Steven St. Germain saw the wheels turning for Aaron, and helped him kick it into high gear. “We had talked about his internship in order to get his auto mechanics license,” recalls St. Germain. “I encouraged him to pursue this to start his career and dream of working on cars. We had conversations about the future; how to save money, the importance of following your dreams while you're young, and well, leading that good life.”

A few months later, Aaron had big news to share with Steve. “One day he came in and told me he had gotten his internship and was planning a move to Florida,” says St. Germain. But there was more. Aaron proposed to his longtime girlfriend and they were moving to Florida to build a life together and pursue Aaron’s dream of becoming an automotive mechanic. 

“We’re so proud of him and how much he’s grown,” says Jane Swiatek, head of the Prospector’s Clean Team. “I am so proud and honored to have worked alongside Aaron.” The team at the Prospector will certainly miss seeing Aaron around the Theater, fixing and tinkering, working and smiling. They’re sad to see him go, but excited for the new opportunities and life he will build. 

“Between the time he told me about his plans and his leaving, we had conversations about the future,” remembers St. Germain. “How to save money, the importance of following your dreams while you're young, and well, leading that good life. The life we all want for ourselves, for others, wish for others.”

Aaron is in the driver’s seat, on the road to the good life. Enjoy the ride, Aaron!  

Learn more about The Prospector


A Prospect Life - Aaron Miller

]]> (The Prospector) Adoptions Tue, 17 Jan 2023 03:28:50 -0500
Ridgefield Playhouse Executive Director Allison Stockel Hands Over The Reins after 21 Years of Service, Dedication and Volunteerism

When Allison Stockel moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut in December of 2000, her son was 6 months old, her daughter was just about 2 ½ and The Ridgefield Playhouse, a 500-seat nonprofit performing arts center, was just opening its doors with a performance by Jose Feliciano.

“It was on the cover of the Ridgefield Press and I had just stopped working in entertainment television,” says Stockel. “I remember thinking: I should volunteer there!” Fast forward to December 2022, which will mark the month that Stockel will walk out of the venue that she helped grow and build for the very last time as Executive Director.

“After more than 20 years of volunteering my time as Executive Director, it’s time for me, and The Playhouse, to move on to the next phase of our lives….just like my kids have moved on to their next phases in life. Now I will be a true empty nester!”  After 21 years in her role, Stockel has been planning her exit strategy with the Board of Directors to ensure a smooth succession. “It was important to me to promote within this organization,” Stockel says. “We have so many loyal and hard-working employees that have a long history here that it only makes sense to hand the torch over to the next generation.” 

The next generation includes Managing Director Ashley Paltauf and Artistic Director Jared Shahid, both of whom have been with the organization for more than 15 years between the two of them and who will be co-directing the venue by taking on the roles of Managing Director of Operations and Development (Paltauf) and Managing Director of Talent and Marketing (Shahid).

Shahid, who started out as Stockel’s assistant 17 years ago, left the nonprofit in 2008 to work on the agency side of the business.  He went on to start his own speaker’s bureau and worked for Sharktank’s Daymond John for 5 years, among many other ventures.  However, his love for live entertainment and the town he grew up in, brought him back to The Ridgefield Playhouse in a leadership position right before the pandemic hit.   “It was actually a crash course in getting him involved with our current booking relationships and process,” says Stockel, “because not long after he took over as Artistic Director we had to move and/or cancel more than 300 shows.”  Over the past 3 years Shahid has not only successfully navigated the moving of hundreds of shows but has shown his creativity by booking outdoor shows during the pandemic and successfully moving shows back inside.

Paltauf first joined The Ridgefield Playhouse in 2013 and has successfully worked her way up through management. She has demonstrated her strong skill set as a manager during the pandemic by successfully steering the staff and working with patrons through the outdoor tent/field shows as well as transitioning back to indoor shows,  while making the experience seamless to all ticket buyers. “We never closed our doors during COVID and instead came up with creative ways to continue the success of our mission and vision of the venue,” says Paltauf.  “Patrons wanted to feel safe while enjoying the same concert-going experience they had prior to the pandemic, which we created for them.  Although it was a lot of work, we did it with the help of our incredible staff.”  

Paltauf credits her skills for multi-tasking with the fact that she is also the mother of twins--which is one of the reasons she is so passionate about the Playhouse Arts in Education programming.  During Covid, the Ridgefield Playhouse was one of the only venues in the state to continue doing arts in education programming virtually and for free.

The fact that Stockel has worked hard for this nonprofit for the past 20 years, bringing it from a venue that presented 40 shows a year to one that now presents more than 250 acts annually, isn’t so surprising--the fact that she has been doing it for all of these years for free is.  “I pour my heart and soul into whatever I do, it’s not the money that makes me work, it’s the results and my belief that what I am doing makes a difference,” she says.

So, it is no wonder that her time at the Ridgefield Playhouse and her legacy will be celebrated at the Fall Gala on November 4th.  Tickets to the November 4th Gala, which will star Bernadette Peters and have lots of special guests, will go on sale to members on Tuesday, September 6th and to the public on Friday, September 9th.  “Allison certainly has made a difference--she has been the ‘face and voice’ of the Ridgefield Playhouse,” says Michael Shinall, President of the Ridgefield Playhouse Board of Directors,  “The community, Playhouse patrons, artists, managers, and agents all know and respect Allison. But her legacy doesn’t stop when she leaves because she has assembled an exceptional staff, led by Paltauf and Shahid, that is fully capable of continuing the incredible work necessary to keep the Playhouse successful.”.

And, after getting through a pandemic and a multi-million dollar capital campaign that created a brand-new lobby expansion, upgrades to the backstage and audio improvements in the theater, Stockel feels like now is the right time. “The important thing is that the Ridgefield Playhouse is in a good place,” says Stockel.  “We have a great team, strong leadership and a wonderful new venue to host many exciting new events.  I am looking forward to seeing where the next 20 years take us….only now I’ll be watching from the audience.”

For more information about The Ridgefield Playhouse Fall Gala or to see the entire season, go to or call the box office (203) 438-5795.

The Ridgefield Playhouse is a non-profit performing arts center located at 80 East Ridge, parallel to Main Street, Ridgefield, CT and is committed to keeping the arts alive and available to all.

Follow us on Instagram:  @RidgefieldPlayhouse Twitter: @RPlayhouse


]]> (The Ridgefield Playhouse) Adoptions Fri, 02 Sep 2022 07:03:06 -0400
Connecticut Wingfest is Coming to Danbury on January 28


Connecticut Wingfest is back at the Matrix Conference Center on Saturday, January 28th.

Due to popular demand, this year there will be two sessions: 1pm – 4pm and 6pm – 9pm. This event will bring together the best wings in Connecticut!

Connecticut Wingfest delivers a day full of music, fun and games, live music from The Trolls, beer for purchase and of course wings! Local restaurants will compete for the title of “Connecticut’s Best Wings”, determined by a panel of judges through a blind taste test. All attendees will have the chance to sample the wings too, and then vote for their favorite in the People’s Choice Award competition.

General Admission tickets are available for just $15. With your ticket you will receive a 12 wing voucher which you can redeem at any of our participating restaurant booths. Additional vouchers will be available for purchase on site.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit

The Connecticut Wingfest is supported by Hog Wild BBQ, Grassy Plain Vape & Smoke and Bach to Rock.



]]> (Missy Repola) Places and Events Thu, 05 Jan 2017 09:01:37 -0500
Keep Pets Safe During July 4th Fireworks

Please keep your pets safe during fireworks displays by keeping them inside! More cats and dogs are lost during July 4th fireworks than on any other day.

July 4th Fireworks


PETFOCUS@AOL.COM (Adria Henderson) Stories Thu, 30 Jun 2016 04:50:09 -0400
PLease Watch the Road

PETFOCUS@AOL.COM (Adria Henderson) Stories Wed, 22 Jun 2016 10:27:10 -0400
Happy Father's Day to All

PETFOCUS@AOL.COM (Adria Henderson) Stories Sun, 19 Jun 2016 05:28:21 -0400

Are you looking for a spectacular cake that you can serve to at your next dinner party? No need to look any further ‘cause I found it for you. Here’s Monica Roberto’s delicious Vegan Chocolate Cake. (Adapted from the Candle Cafe Recipe)

Chocolate Cake


1/2 cup unbleached white flour

1/2 cup pastry flour (I use whole wheat pastry)

1 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt (fine-grained)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup unrefined sugar

1/2 cup almond or rice milk

1/4 cup maple syrup (indeed use the good stuff)

1/4 cup safflower oil (I use canola since I have it on hand)

1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, and sugar. In another bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of water, the soy milk, maple syrup, oil, vinegar, and vanilla and almond extracts. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir well to combine.

3. Divide batter into 2 greased 9-inch cake pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. (I'm also a proponent of the batter-touch test). Remove from the oven and let cool on wire racks for about 30 minutes.


2 cups dairy free chocolate chips

1/2 cup vanilla rice milk,

1/2 tablespoon brewed coffee,

1/8 cup maple syrup.

Put chips, milk, coffee and syrup in a double boiler over simmering water. Once melted, set aside to cool. Transfer to blender and blend for at least 1 minute. Cool for approx. 1 hour in fridge. Frost cake!

  •          Chocolate cake looks great decorated with colorful, edible flowers such as miniature pansies or nasturtiums - just be sure they’re pesticide free.
PETFOCUS@AOL.COM (Monica Roberto/ALH) Advocacy Mon, 13 Jun 2016 10:17:35 -0400
Thank you for your service

PETFOCUS@AOL.COM (Adria Henderson) Stories Mon, 30 May 2016 05:07:47 -0400



This precious little boy was found roaming this morning on Campbell/Elm . He does not have a collar, tag, or microchip. If anyone has any information on his owner please call 203-937-3642.

PETFOCUS@AOL.COM (West Haven Animal Shelter) Alerts Thu, 26 May 2016 05:33:22 -0400

Here's  a quick, easy - and filling - vegan meal that's perfect when you're in a rush.  Its ready in less than 1/2 hour with ingredients you probably have in your pantry!
4-6 cups baby spinach
1 can navy or cannellini beans, drained
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 pound pasta, cooked
2-3 cups grape tomatoes 
almond 'parmesan' (see recipe below)*
While pasta is cooking:
Sauté garlic in EVOO in skillet pan over low heat for 2 minutes.
Add beans and mash about 1/3 of them with potato masher.
Add in tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes until tomatoes start to break apart.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add in spinach, mix lightly.
Drain pasta but save about 1/4 cup of cooking liquid
Add pasta and cooking liquid to skillet.
Toss very well and enjoy!
Top with almond "parmesan" * (chopped almonds + salt + garlic powder)
PETFOCUS@AOL.COM (MONICA ROBERTO) Advocacy Mon, 16 May 2016 06:46:27 -0400

All proceeds benefit the creation of the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary

Sponsorship Opportunities Available • visit

PETFOCUS@AOL.COM (CVH) Places and Events Sun, 15 May 2016 06:46:37 -0400
Connecticut Legislature Votes Unanimously to Adopt Pollinator Protections


(Beyond Pesticides, May 3, 2016) In a bipartisan victory for bees, last week the Connecticut House of Representatives unanimously (147-0) passed a wide-ranging bill aimed at protecting declining pollinator populations within the state from toxic neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides. Bill No. 231, An Act Concerning Pollinator Health, was also passed unanimously (36-0) through the Connecticut State Senate on April 21, and now goes to Governor Dannel P Malloy for his signature. Earlier in April, both houses of the Maryland legislature passed the Maryland Pollinator Protection Act, which is currently awaiting action by Governor Larry Hogan (R).


Connecticut’s bill addresses a broad range of concerns relating to pollinator health, from pesticides to parasites and habitat remediation, within both residential and agricultural settings. In

summary, the bill does the following:

  1. Prohibits applying neonicotinoid insecticide (a) to linden or basswood trees or (b) labeled for treating plants, to any plants when such plant bears   blossoms;
  • Bee health experts identified the application of systemic neonicotinoids to Tilia trees as a significant concern for pollinator health after a spate of massive bee-kill incidents on the west coast. In June 2013, over 50,000 bumblebees were killed after a neonic was applied to a linden trees in Wilsonville and Hillsboro Oregon. In response, the Oregon Department of Agriculture implemented rules prohibiting certain neonic application to trees in the Tilia genus. Connecticut would be the first state on the east coast to implement similar restrictions.
  1. Requires the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) commissioner to classify certain neonicotinoids as “restricted use” pesticides;
  • Designating neonicotinoid pesticides as “restricted use” within the state limits their purchase and use to certified pesticide applicators, and eliminates allowed consumer uses. In effect, Maryland’s Pollinator Protection Act seeks to accomplish the same goal by prohibiting the sale of neonicotinoids to consumers. Based on the inherent dangers these chemicals pose to pollinators at levels allowed under current label rates, Beyond Pesticides continues to believe a full suspension on the use of neonics is warranted.
  1. Requires the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CDA) commissioner to develop best practices for minimizing the release of neonicotinoid insecticide dust from treated seeds;
  • Neonicotinoid seed dust represents a significant risk to honey bees and other pollinators in close proximity to agricultural fields. A report from the American Bird Conservancy found that a single kernel of neonic-coated corn is enough to kill a songbird. While best practices are a step forward, stronger actions, like those taken in the Canadian province of Ontario to reduce acreage planted with neonic treated seeds by 80%, are warranted based on current available science.
  1. Requires the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) to develop a citizen’s guide to model pollinator habitat;
  • Improving pollinator habitat in urban, suburban, and peri-urban communities is an important component of any plan to bring back pollinator health. State-sponsored public education programs on improving pollinator habitat are commendable. Beyond Pesticides has a number of resources, including Managing Landscapes with Pollinators in Mind and the BEE Protective Habitat Guide to get folks started on improving pollinator habitat in their community today.
  1. Establishes a Pollinator Advisory Committee to inform legislators on pollinator issues;
  • Legislators should continue to be apprised of the latest science and research on pollinator health, as well as policies at the state and local level that are working to protect these critical species.
  1. Specifies that Connecticut Siting Council orders to restore or revegetate in certain rights-of-way must include provisions for model pollinator habitat; requires the DOT commissioner to plant vegetation with pollinator habitat, including flowering vegetation, in deforested areas along state highway rights-of-way.
  • Right of way areas near roadsides, power lines, and other industrial sites areas are often maintained through the use of toxic pesticides. Revegetating these areas with pollinator-friendly plants that do not contain harmful insecticides will help provide needed forage for bees and other wild pollinators.
  1. Includes model pollinator habitat in any conservation plan CDA requires as part of its farm preservation programs;
  • Addressing pollinator forage and habitat on agricultural land is a critical component of reviving pollinator health. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has invested over $7 million in assistance to Midwest farmers and ranchers in an effort to increase habitat. However, with studies showing the potential for field margins to be contaminated by neonics through runoff and drift, it is critical that these programs also encourage methods to eliminate the use of these persistent pesticides.
  1. Requires the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to amend the state’s Plan of Conservation and Development to prioritize development with model pollinator habitat;
  • Considering pollinators before development occurs is an excellent way to integrate protective efforts into landscapes. As part of federal efforts from the Federal Pollinator Task Force, the General Services Administration is reviewing pollinator friendly guidelines for facility standards at all new projects, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality has developed guidelines for integrating pollinator practices into federal facilities and federal lands. Ramping up this work at the state level is a good move for pollinators.
  1. Requires reports on (a) legislation needed to restrict or license planting neonicotinoid-treated seeds, (b) conditions leading to an increase in varroa mites, and (c) areas where the Department of Transportation (DOT) can replace turf grass with native plants and model pollinator habitat; and
  • A report on treated seeds should investigate the potential to enact policy similar to Ontario’s. Research on conditions leading to a varroa mite increase could be helpful in determining the synergistic impact of the multiple pesticides, diseases, and to which pollinators are exposed. Further, exploring new ways to replace turfgrass with pollinator habitat and native plants is an important part of pollinator regeneration.

Connecticut’s bill includes actions that are important steps to reversing the decline of both native and domesticated pollinator populations. However, in order to effect a change in fortune for these important animals, more states and localities must act to restrict the wide range of pesticides shown to harm pollinators, as communities like Montgomery County have done. At the federal level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should immediately suspend the use of neonicotinoids as it completes its risk assessment on these chemicals. For more information on how to organize in your community, and what you can do right now to safeguard pollinator populations, see Beyond Pesticides’ BEE Protective webpage.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: CT Bill No 231, An Act Concerning Pollinator Health


PETFOCUS@AOL.COM (Beyond Pesticides) Advocacy Tue, 10 May 2016 07:55:55 -0400
Naugatuck Valley Rabies Clinic

PETFOCUS@AOL.COM (Waterbury Animal Control) Places and Events Tue, 10 May 2016 07:09:44 -0400
Trooper Rescues Puppy on I-95 in Fairfield

Do you recognize this little guy who was rescued by a Connecticut State Trooper on I- 95 in Fairfield yesterday?

Contact Fairfield Animal Control for more info:

Paul Miller, Animal Control Officer
Fairfield Animal Shelter
211 Richard White Way
Fairfield, CT 06824

PETFOCUS@AOL.COM (Adria Henderson) Stories Tue, 10 May 2016 06:28:00 -0400
Happy Mother's Day Pet Moms

PETFOCUS@AOL.COM (Adria Henderson) Stories Sun, 08 May 2016 10:05:32 -0400