2015 Thompsonville Partners & Award Ceremony

Partners Thank you
Award event

Courtney Hendricson, Assistant Town Manager, Development Services speaks during the Thompsonville Partners & Award Ceremony on April 15, 2015.

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L to R (back): Edward Deni, District IV Councilman and Vice Chairman, North Thompsonville Fire Department, Town of Enfield; Mindy Semmler, Manager, Bigelow Commons – Community Pillar Award; Sasha Skerla, Owner and Chef, Old Country Banquet Hall – Commercial Restoration Award ~ L to R (front): Diana Macari, Owner, Diana’s Bakery – Legacy Business Award; Frank Troiano, Jr., Owner, Troiano Oil – Visionary Award; Bill Lee, Deputy Mayor,Town of Enfield ~Not pictured: Jason MacLelland – Residential Restoration Award; Sergio Molina, Owner, Molina’s Café – Rising Star Business Award.
Legacy Business Award - Diana’s Bakery, 95 Pearl Street – Diana Macari

In 1975, a young baker named Diana Macari worked through her entrepreneurial jitters and saw an opportunity to start a new business located in Thompsonville. Diana’s Bakery opened in the heart of the downtown block, and it didn’t take long for the neighborhood to smell, see and taste the yummy variety of baked goods that were being created at her shop at 95 Pearl Street.
Now, forty years later, loyal 2nd-generation fans still visit Diana’s regularly for her delicious cookies, pastries, cakes and breads. Diana’s is run with one trusted recipe, providing high quality products with a heaping spoonful of service and perhaps the most important ingredient of all: two ears open to listen and respond to the customer’s needs. Her willingness to innovate has allowed Diana’s to grow and now boast over 300 employees in multiple facilities. It truly is a full service baking operation serving us locally here in Enfield, as well as communities all around the nation. Right now kids on dozens of college campuses are sitting down to breakfast, lunch and dinner today with baked goods from Diana’s Bakery. Step up to your favorite Starbucks counter here in Connecticut or countless outlets across the region and order something to eat. Chances are, that’s a Diana’s Bakery product. Or next time you’re hankering for a sandwich at Jason’s Deli out in the Lone Star state or out in Arizona, or maybe at one of the 310 Stewarts shops across northern New England and New York - that’s a Diana’s roll you’re enjoying. Or maybe you’re just strolling down the baked goods aisle at your neighborhood Stop & Shop Supermarket. Pick up that bag and look on the back. It could be from Diana’s! The growth has been staggering! Yet Thompsonville has remained at the heart of the Diana’s Bakery empire. Through Diana’s hard work, the key corridor along Pearl Street and between Central and High Streets has been a bustling place of employment, of commerce, and of improvement since the day Diana’s Bakery bucked the trend and took a risk forty years ago. With that track record of commitment, dynamic growth, and service to her employees, her customers, and her neighbors.
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Visionary Award - Frank Troiano, Jr.

Frank is a third generation Troiano here in Enfield who continues to give freely of his time, talents and resources. Growing up, Frank helped his dad at the family’s thriving heating oil business that his grandfather had started. With Frank’s contributions, the Troiano’s have built a successful, modern, energy and services business that continues to pride itself and grow by developing personal relationships with its customers. Here in the Village, Frank now also manages several well positioned properties that we are certain will become strategic parcels and opportunities in Thompsonville’s renaissance. In the meantime, Frank and the Enfield Police Department have utilized his properties to assist a jolly old elf from the North Pole, helping to ensure every child in our community has a gift at Christmas time. He also graciously provides parking for town events and functions happening on the green. And perhaps most valuably, Frank has been diligently developing a vision for melding what we nostalgically refer to as “old” Thompsonville with what many of us here today recognize as the promise of “new,” vibrant village neighborhoods. Frank enjoys working behind the scenes a bit. Nonetheless, he’s remained committed to promoting a positive image and future for Thompsonville. As a town, and as neighbors and supporters of developing the future, we all look forward to working with Frank Troiano as he makes his plans, projects and dreams a reality.
Community Pillar Award, Bigelow Commons – Mindy Semmler

Last year we recognized the vision and effort that went into the 1980’s redevelopment of the shuttered Bigelow Mills Carpet factory into one of the most aggressive and notable adaptive re-uses of former mill structures ever tackled in the U.S. So, it is fitting that today we recognize the organization and its local leader, who now owns and manages Bigelow Commons. Many here might not remember, at least not with clarity, that a mere decade after Bigelow Commons opened, the property hit some financial turbulence. CHFA stepped in with a life-raft and ultimately structured a sale of the complex in 1995 to Northland Investment Corporation of Newton, Mass, who continue to manage the campus of nearly 400 luxury apartments, commercial units, and the health club facilities. There is no business more invested in and integral to the success of the coming commuter rail service than Bigelow Commons. Their local management is in close contact with the town’s team, keeping each other abreast of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Today we recognize Northland Investment Corporation and their property manager for Bigelow Commons, Ms. Mindy Semmler, as a Thompsonville Community Pillar. We are very grateful for the constructive dialog and partnership that Mindy has helped to foster. We certainly look eagerly to the next few years when the municipality and Bigelow Commons hope to realize the positive outcomes of so much planning over the last several years. Bigelow Commons is a large part of what makes Thompsonville a great place to live, work, play, and call home.
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Commercial Restoration Award Old Country Banquet Hall – Sasha Skerla

9 Alden Avenue is owned by a true gentleman and is home to one of the best authentic businesses in Enfield. The Old Country Deli & Banquet Hall, which is the original site location of Enfield’s Polish National Home, is quite a gem. The building itself was built and opened to its members with significant fanfare in 1923. By 1981, the social and civic organization gave way to the Old Country Deli & Banquet Hall. The first floor deli, selling fresh polish dishes, including their delicious signature Pierogi Queen products, was an immediate hit and remains so throughout the region. Chef Sasha Skerla acquired the facility and the businesses in 2010. He immediately set his sights upward, desiring to restore historic Wawel Hall to its former grandeur in the Thompsonville community. After a multi-year renovation effort, the Hall is now actively used for extravagant banquets, weddings and community gatherings. The architecture and features that served the Polish National Home for decades have been maintained, along with all of the modern conveniences that banquet customers expect today. The food, the hospitality and generosity are unmatched. We are thankful for Sasha Skerla’s commitment to restore his property so well, and we congratulate him for setting his sights high, and for allowing one of the most architecturally significant and unique buildings in all of Enfield to be reborn as it nears its 100th birthday.
Residential Restoration Award - Jason MacLelland

As many of you are aware, Jason MacLelland has a passion for all things Thompsonville. This is where he lives and where he works. Several years ago, back when the availability of the building on the corner of Pearl and Walnut Streets came to Jason MacLelland’s attention, he saw an opportunity to make an improvement to this mixed-use building. He stepped in and took on the challenge to clean up the units and the property and get it back into productive use. Jason is the proud proprietor of the corner store where each day he operates the Pearl Street Barber Shop, a traditional neighborhood oasis for good grooming, the occasional nugget of wisdom from our community fathers, and a never-ending discussion on the important things in life - our friends, our families, and our opinions about sports and politics, but mostly it’s about good haircuts. With his workplace on Pearl Street freshened, Jason turned his sights to homesteading. In 2014, Jason purchased a home on South Street from the Enfield Community Development Corporation. He undertook a top to bottom renovation to make the house his home, but still in a manner befitting a Thompsonville home well built back in 1928. The work is now finished and the home looks great. Like his business, Jason has viewed his home renovation as an opportunity to impact his entire block positively as a good steward and a good neighbor. Jason has always recognized that safe, attractive and vibrant neighborhoods are achieved when everyone chips in and makes one positive contribution at a time. Luckily for Enfield, Jason shares his experiences and expertise with his customers, town officials, and other organizations in the community. He advocates well for both small businesses and for the village homeowners.
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Rising Star Business Award, Molina’s Café - Sergio Molina

Hopefully, you are very well aware of High Street Plaza. It wasn’t too long ago that Sergio Molina developed his vision for the empty restaurant space on the end of the Plaza. Sergio got a lease, got some help from his family to spruce up the spot, and soon opened his doors and welcomed the neighborhood to Molina’s Café. Patrons quickly passed along the good news about their new neighborhood eatery. With its new menu and family-friendly staff, Molina’s success was inevitable. Molina’s matches a welcoming atmosphere with delicious meals. It’s now a destination spot for locals and local gatherings. Drop in for breakfast with the family, have lunch meeting with colleagues, or unwind with a great dinner by the fire place with a tasty adult beverage. And maybe it’s a coincidence, or perhaps Molina’s success is breeding success, but since the opening of Molina’s, the High Street Plaza itself has seen a bit of resurgence overall with other new tenants opening their doors. We thank Sergio Molina for following his dream to Thompsonville and sharing his love of cooking with the community.
2014 Thompsonville Partners & Award Ceremony
Awards Photo
Awards Photo presentations
Awards Photo with people
View the presentation from the event (PDF).

Legacy Business Award: Caronna’s Supermarket

Caronna’s Supermarket has built a reputation for fine quality and service since 1918. They are a full service market and have worked together as a family for the community. They have seen many families grow up just like their own. We are honoring them today for being a Legacy Business and cornerstone of the community. Saverio Caronna founded the market, 96 years ago; not only did he start a successful business for himself and his 9 children who all grew up above the store on Main Street but has been serving and feeding local families for four generations.

The market was originally located on Main Street and moved to its present location in Thompsonville in 1962. We are very grateful for their service, long standing commitment to the families in our community, and dedication to Thompsonville. A very special thank you to Tony, Joe and Mary along with the entire Caronna family for all you have done and continue to do for Thompsonville and Enfield. We deeply appreciate you and are honored to recognize you for the Legacy Business Award. We wish you continued success.

Rising Star Business Award: The Enfield Tap

On May 18, 2013 The Enfield Tap held their Grand Opening. They are approaching their one year anniversary and are a rising star business in Thompsonville. Only one month after they opened they held an “all hands on deck” event to help clean up the Thompsonville streets. They provided gloves and bags as well as free lunch buffet to all who volunteered. This is just one of the many positive causes they have coordinated and actions they have taken to make for a better Thompsonville. A special thank you to Terry and Rich who came into town just a short while ago and have made such a big difference.

They bought the Tap, renovated it and created a place where you can grab a cold beer, eat great food and have an “at home” good time. They even brought their mascot, Floyd (fine feathered – plastic – flamingo friend) with them to Thompsonville. They have created an atmosphere that is not only warm and friendly but it also embraces the rich history of Enfield. Thank you for making Thompsonville your home and investing in its future for your family and the community. We honor and recognize you as the Rising Star Business Award. We wish you continued success and look forward to all the great things you’ll do for our downtown community.

Community Pillar Award: The Pearl Street Library
Another establishment who also opened its doors in the month of May, is a community pillar in town and is celebrating its 100th year anniversary -- The Pearl Street Library. They have continuously met the educational, cultural, recreational, and technological needs of our community.

Through excellent customer service, they continue to offer access to all and create a caring, friendly and safe atmosphere of learning. We are proud of how they have served the community and continue to fulfill the needs of Thompsonville and our Town. They are a pillar in the community and we are honored to recognize them for their dedication and service as a Community Pillar! We wish you a very happy Centennial celebratory year.

Residential Restoration Award: Karen LaPlante
Karen LaPlante has recently finished refurbishing 19 Russell Street. This two-family home from the 1880s now features new windows, refreshed siding, and renovated interiors. It is a valuable and beautiful restoration project on one of Thompsonville’s quiet residential streets, a great example of what downtown living in Thompsonville can look like.

It is an example of the type of work we want to encourage throughout Thompsonville. We appreciate all the hours and dedication you have given to the Town and your commitment to the Thompsonville revitalization efforts. You certainly are an example of what it means to restore a community. We are honored to recognize you with a Residential Restoration Award. Your work, ideas, and actions are very much appreciated. Please keep up the great work you do…it make a difference.

Commercial Restoration Award: Mark Dion, Concept Builders
Mark Dion is building upon the mixed use tradition that Thompsonville once thrived on. In 2013 he brought new life to the ground floor at 70 Alden Avenue, opening up the façade and bringing in a new commercial tenant – the Cuts & Colors hair salon.

We are thrilled to see ground floor retail and services on the rise and look forward to Mark finishing the restoration at 33 Pleasant Street and the restaurant space at that building comes to life as well. Mark’s work and investment are revitalizing our community and shaping our future and for that we are grateful and honor him with the Commercial Restoration Award. Mark, continue the great job and working so hard.

Visionary Award: Marty and Ilona Levitz
Marty and Ilona Levitz have been engaged in Thompsonville’s long-term planning for decades now. In the 1970s they had the foresight to purchase the Bigelow mills and they took on the task of securing historic preservation protections for the complex. Their foresight made the revitalization of the mill possible and their commitment to Thompsonville continue as they work to persuade Amtrak to open up access under the train tracks and increase the potential for riverfront development.

We appreciate all the hours and dedication you have given to the community and the commitment to looking forward to envision its continued success. You certainly are an example of what it means to be a visionary. We are honored to recognize you with a Visionary Award. Thank you and keep up the forward thinking!