HAPPENINGS IN THE HILLS: Possum Queen’s fundraising never stops

Litchfield’s Jim Simoncelli reacts to missing a putt during the Bill Brakeman/Jean Murphy Memorial Golf Classic. Looking up is Mike Smith of Litchfield. John McKenna Republican-American


Fundraising for the Possum Queen Foundation has become a year-round endeavor beyond the New Year’s Eve extravaganza hosted by the foundation’s board.

The need to raise funds to help local residents facing unexpected medical costs and other unaffordable circumstances continues to grow, exacerbated by inflation, high gas prices and a declining economy.

“The requests for help never stop, no matter what time of year,” Possum Queen Foundation President Billy Neller said Monday at the second annual Bill Brakeman/Jean Murphy Memorial. Golf Classic at Greenwoods Country Club in Winsted. “We are giving away more money than ever.”

The golf tournament which began in 2017 is another major fundraiser for the non-profit foundation and has attracted 36 golfers for 18 holes of golf, lunch and dinner with a raffle and auction. It is named after the late Bill Brakemen and the late Jean Murphy, two Litchfield residents who died in 2020 and were key supporters of the foundation’s mission.

Brakeman’s widow, Lee, helped at the golf sign-up table while Murphy’s sons, DJ and Darren, played in a foursome with Darren’s sons, Cameron and Ethan. Wearing bright yellow shirts advertising DJ Murphy’s print and promotional activities, the foursome were hard to miss on the course.

Neller ran the show in Greenwoods with foundation vice president John Bongiorno. Together they have transformed the foundation into a well-organized fundraising juggernaut that has helped dozens of individuals and families in the Litchfield area.

Litchfield’s Sue Smith and Torrington’s Patty DiChillo were key to the success of the tournament, as were Valerie Jewett and Gina Devaux, both of Litchfield, and Lori Stickney of Morris.

The winning quartet of Scott Theriault, Brian Lafontaine, Jay Lafontaine and Nick Johnston came from Thomaston. They left the Greenwoods clubhouse wearing showy orange blazers presented by Neller and Bongiorno, the prizes for posting the highest team score.

Norman and Trudie Hamilton from Litchfield stand next to the painting of their home on North Street which is part of the Litchfield Historical Society’s new exhibit. John McKenna Republican-American

Jay Bolton of Litchfield, who sits on the foundation’s board, led his foursome to a second-place finish. His teammates were Jim Strub, Don Swenson and Scott Winters. Strub also won the 50/50 raffle prize of $405 and promptly donated it to the foundation.

There was also a tender for a picnic for 10 people hosted by John Roller, owner of the Crystal Peak Wedding and Special Events Facility in Winsted and a participant in the tournament with his wife, Jennifer. Neller and Bolton raised the bids until Goshen’s Bruce Blouin made a bid of $1,700 that would not be exceeded. The picnic will include 10 Angus beef steaks, baked potatoes, salads and sides. Roller will do the grilling, and Neller and Bongiorno will serve as servers.

Sarah Owens, left, and her mother, Leslie Owens, hold the Top Dog trophy which was presented at Jackie’s Restaurant in Bantam. John McKenna Republican-American

Local businesses provided silent auction prizes and sponsorship money. Despite threatening weather, the tournament ended without delay.

“It was questionable in the morning, but in the end everything went well,” Bongiorno said.


LITCHFIELD – Jackie’s restaurant in Bantam has won the 2022 Top Dog contest sponsored by the town’s Economic Development Commission.

The contest took place over a four-day period earlier in the month and gave Jackie’s and 12 other restaurants a chance to compete for the title of best customer-selected hot dog in online voting.

Jackie’s won the Top Dog trophy after finishing second in 2021. The contest is designed to boost business for participating restaurants. Jackie has a boost over the four days.

“It got us a lot of business,” said Jackie owner Sarah Owens. “We were selling (hot dogs) like crazy, even for breakfast.”

Jackie’s dog was on the menu as Bantam mash. It featured a foot-long Hummel franc in a bun topped with grilled mashed potatoes, bacon, green onions and cheddar cheese.

Other participating restaurants were Meraki, @The Corner, Patty’s Restaurant, Ollie’s Restaurant, Village Restaurant, Marketplace, Petraroia Deli and Gooseboro Restaurant in Litchfield; Woods Pit BBQ and Mockingbird Kitchen and Bar in Bantam, and Popey’s Ice Cream Shoppe in Morris.


LITCHFIELD — A free lunch for serving military and veterans, and a farmers market for seniors will be held next week through the Department of Social Services.

Dinner will be on Tuesday at 11:30 am at the Town Hall Annex in Bantam. The public is invited to attend. Admission is $10. After lunch, the Connecticut Army National Guard’s 102nd Band will perform.

The farmer’s market featuring local produce will be held on Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. in the parking lot of the Town Hall annex. Social Services and the Salvation Army sponsor the market. Seniors can reserve a $10 market voucher by calling 860-567-7564.


LITCHFIELD – The Litchfield Historical Society’s new exhibition, ‘Painting Litchfield’, opened with a reception for the public on Friday.

Paintings from the society’s collection and works donated by local residents are on display until the end of November. The exhibition covers a period of around 200 years and includes modern works by artists like Thomas McKnight of Litchfield.

“We have a significant collection and we wanted to exhibit paintings that hadn’t been released before,” said Alex Dubois, curator of the company’s collections. “All the artists lived or live in Litchfield.”

Norman and Trudie Hamilton of Litchfield said they were pleasantly surprised to see a painting of their home on North Street hanging. The painting of what is known as the Corner House was done by Adelaide Deming in 1920. Deming was a scion of a famous Litchfield family and as a painter was inspired by the town’s history.

Happenings in the Hills is a weekly look at life in Litchfield, Warren, Morris and Goshen. Information for publication can be sent to John McKenna at jmckenna33@optonline.net.

Previous US News & World Report Names Connecticut's Best Hospitals
Next Families can experience Oak Canyon – Orange County Register