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12/31/2019 02:00 PM

Guilford in 2019: The Year in Review

Despite snowy weather, members of the Song family, gun safety activists, and local, state, and national legislators gathered in front of the Guilford Town Hall on Jan. 18 to discuss Ethan’s Law, a bill designed to improve safe storage practices.File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier


In early January, Guilford Police announce that they have caught a suspect in a burglary case, with “critical information” provided by local residents after the department asked for help on its Facebook page.

Working with the Sandy Hook Promise organization, Guilford Public Schools rolls out an anonymous online reporting system in early January to help students or community members report concerning behavior in classmates.

In January, Ethan’s Law is formally introduced in the Connecticut General Assembly.

Local residents and businesses rally to provide assistance to federal workers affected by the government shutdown.


The Board of Selectmen approves Guilford’s Human Rights Commission on Feb. 4, tasked with promoting respect and understanding in the town.

On Feb. 4, Dr. Richard Hersh is appointed to the Board of Education, replacing Christine Cohen after she was elected to the State Senate.

GHS’s Environmental Club unveils water bottle filling stations at the school, meant to discourage plastic waste.

On Feb. 24 Janet Poss, a driving and powerful force in Guilford politics who served many years on the Board of Selectmen and as a state representative, passes away at the age of 96.


On March 7, the Board of Finance approves sending a combined fiscal budget to voters with an increase of 3.22 percent over 2018 as the town sees a small increase in the grand list and a reduction in state aid.

Dr. Annine Crystal is appointed assistant superintendent of Guilford Schools on March 11 after Dr. Anne Keene retires from the position.

Guilford students join the national “End the ‘R’ Word” campaign to promote inclusivity and acceptance of disabled people.

On March 15, GHS students participate in the national #FridaysForFuture movement, striking at Jacobs Beach in response to the looming dangers of climate change.

Residents speak out at a public hearing on March 19 against large aesthetic changes of a proposed redesign and renewal of the “crabbing bridge” on Route 146.

In March, a large section of downtown real estate around Whitfield Water Street parking lot changes hands, as Craig Maturo sells to Guilford resident Todd Taylor.

GHS fencing teams win overall state titles.


On April 4, Guilford receives the Harlan Griswold Award, the highest honor bestowed by the state of Connecticut for historic preservation.

On April 9, the town receives a mandate as residents approve new budget by a wide margin, with 61 percent approval.

In early April, contractors begin rebuilding GHS’s brand new turf athletic field from the ground up after it sustained damage due to weather conditions over the winter.

On April 12, the town signs a contract for a water main extension, which will serve residents at Mulberry Point, Tuttles Point, and Long Cove that have experienced contamination in their water.

On April 27, GHS student Ella Stanley organizes The Big Sleep Out, an overnight event on the Green to raise awareness for homelessness.

In April, GHS student Delaney Kenney achieves the rare feat of a perfect ACT test score.


On May 6, Guilford Police announce they will begin wearing body cameras.

In early May, the state Department of Transportation backs off its proposed design for the “crabbing bridge” in Route 146, citing pushback from Guilford residents.

In May, Ethan’s Law passes the state General Assembly and State Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.

In May, GHS physics students place first in a state TEAM contest testing math, science, and engineering skills.

In May, the town begins collecting its own trash rather than hiring contractors, with officials citing the ability to be more environmentally conscientious.

The Board of Selectmen names members of a new Safe Streets Mobility Task Force to look at transportation and pedestrian safety in the town.


On June 3, former GHS principal, first selectman, and longtime educator Carl Balestracci, Jr., passes away at the age of 78.

On June 3, the Board of Selectmen approves a ban on single-use plastic bags by businesses, which takes effect Jan. 1 of 2020.

An accident involving a school bus on June 7 leaves four students with minor injuries.

In the culmination of more than a year of advocacy and activist labor in Guilford, Governor Ned Lamont signs Ethan’s Law on June 13, requiring safe storage of firearms and promoting gun education and safety.

GHS class of 2019 graduates 265 students on June 14, with beautiful weather gracing the festive commencement exercises on the Green.

On June 20, the water main extension project to provide Mulberry Point, Tuttles Point, and Long Cove with potable water breaks ground.

The Witness Stones Project hosts a Juneteeth party in June 23, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, featuring Connecticut State Troubador Nekita Waller.

On June 22, 80 guns are collected as part of buyback program held by the Guilford Police Department, in cooperation with the Song Strong Foundation and the Injury Free Coalition for Kids.

In June, the GHS girls’ lacrosse team wins their first outright SCC title with an 18-3 record.


Throughout July, Guilford’s summer concert series brings the retro vibes as the town celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival with tribute bands and groovy art.

On July 5, retired assistant fire chief and longtime Guilford firefighter Wayne Vetre dies at 57 following a battle with cancer.

In July, Page Hardware celebrates 80 years of serving Guilford customers as a family-run business.

Guilford extends its Fourth of July celebrations with an annual picnic and fireworks show on July 13 at the fairgrounds, featuring rocking American music and food.


On Aug. 10 and 11, Bishop’s Orchards hosts its 13th annual Shoreline Wine Festival, featuring tastings from vineyards across the state.

On Aug. 13, the Guilford Police Department participates in the National Night Out program for the first time, making community connections with a rocking party on the Green.

On Aug. 19, Guilford selects NeighborWorks New Horizons to build an affordable housing project near the train station.

GHS students hold a Cruise Night Car Show at Bishop’s Orchards.

On Aug. 29, school starts up with three new principals: Michael Regan at Adams Middle School, Kenneasha Sloley at Calvin Leete Elementary, and Michele Han at Melissa Jones Elementary.


Liza Fixx announces she is selling iconic Breakwater Books and looking for a new owner to continue on the store’s long tradition of local excellence.

On Sept. 14, the long-awaited disc golf course opens at Bittner Park, offering a unique and challenging outdoor recreational opportunity for residents.

The Guilford Fair returns with its always-exciting spectacle of food, animals, and circus performances.

On Sept. 20, a GHS student shows up to a football game against a Hartford school wearing blackface, sparking community outrage and prompting discussions about diversity and racial sensitivity in the town.

GHS is named a national Blue Ribbon Award winner on Sept. 26.


The annual Puppy Up! Walk to combat canine and human cancers returns to Guilford on Oct. 13.

Board of Education members announce on Oct. 15 that they are having discussions about changing the GHS “Indians” nickname, a topic that has come up several times in the last few decades.

On Oct. 20, the Men Who Cook fundraiser for the Women and Family Life Center celebrates its 25th year of good food and fellowship.

The Halloween Spooktacular brings the chills on Oct. 27, though the event is moved indoors due to inclement weather.


Uncontested municipal elections nonetheless see change in Guilford’s government on Nov. 5, most notably the retirement of Board of Education Chair William Bloss after 20 years of service.

GHS wins conference titles in boys’ soccer, girls’ soccer, field hockey, and volleyball, all within a week’s span.

American Legion Post 48 celebrates its centennial anniversary on Veterans Day on Nov. 11, adding pomp and circumstance to the town’s annual Veteran’s Day traditions.

On Nov. 25, the Board of Education Policy Committee adopts a draft of new hate speech policies for the school, in response to the September blackface incident.

First Congregational Church presents a petition to U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-3) and state legislators Christine Cohen and Sean Scanlon condemning the policy of family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Guilford Poets Guild celebrate their 20th anniversary with a new anthology.

Paul Listro and Richard Parent become the new owners of Breakwater Books.


On Dec. 3, Guilford is honored with nonprofit Sustainable CT’s highest level of certification for building a sustainable community.

On Dec. 4, with Women & Family Life Center holds a panel on domestic violence issues, sharing ideas and searching for solutions with legislators and community leaders.

On Dec. 5, a string of car break-ins in neighborhoods near the I-95 prompts Guilford police to caution residents to keep their cars locked and valuables secure.

On Dec. 9, GHS’ select group of vocalists Voices joins multi-platinum selling a capella group Pentatonix for a holiday concert at the Mohegan Sun arena.

A January Rally to Save Simon drew local and visiting protestors to Guilford Town Hall. The case of Simon the dog, who bit a teen trespassing in his yard and was then slated for euthanasia, ended with his being re-homed out of state. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier
The Greater New Haven Chinese Community held its 2019 Chinese New Year Gala at the Guilford High School on Feb. 2. File photo by Susan Lambert/The Courier
Guilford High School Environmental Club members gather around a water bottle filling station, one of three installed thanks to a $3,600 Guilford Interact Youth Advisory Group grant. Photo courtesy of Lorri Hahn
In February, the Dudley Farm Museum held a Maple Syrup Weekend open house, showing how the maple sap is collected and simmered to make maple syrup.File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier
Students and other residents gathered at Jacobs Beach on March 15 for a local #FridaysForFuture strike. File photo by Zoe Roos/The Courier
The tide passes through the Route 146 crabbing bridge, which was slated to be replaced due to the bridge deteriorating condition. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier
Replacment of the artificial turf field at Guilford High School was underway in April.File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier
The Guilford DAY It’s Worth It initiative raised awareness with purple flags around town in April. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier
The Big Sleep Out, organized by Guilford High School Junior Ella Stanley, took place on the Guilford Green on April 27. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier
The Guilford Memorial Day Parade made its way down Boston Street to the Guilford Town Green after a brief ceremony at the Alder Brook cemetery. File photo by Susan Lambert/The Courier
Guilford High School seniors, along with friends and family, gathered at the Guilford Green before prom to take photos on May 31. File photo by Meglin Bodner/The Courier
The Guilford High School Class of 2019 celebrated commencement on June 14 on the Guilford Town Green. File photo by Susan Lambert/The Courier
Dudley Farm Farmers’ Market summer season opened with vendors selling local vegetables, herbs, pastries, honey, jams, flowers, and more, as well as local artisans selling hand-made crafts. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier
The Guilford Summer Concert Series kicked off its summer music tribute of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.File photo by Susan Lambert/The Courier
The 20th annual Guilford fireworks launched on July 13 at the Guilford Fairgrounds. File photo by Susan Lambert/The Courier
The Shoreline Jewish Festival was held Sunday July 14 on the Guilford Green. File photo by Susan Lambert/The Courier
The 2019 Craft Expo brought 180 nationally recognized craft artists to the Guilford Green in June. File photo by Susan Lambert/The Courier
The 2019 Guilford Fair brought food, fun, and spectacle in September.File photo by Susan Lambert/The Courier
Guilford High School Theatre Arts staged 12 Angry Jurors in November. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier
The Loony-Dook Penguin Plunge hosted by the Guilford Police to benefit Special Olympics took place Dec. 14 at Jacobs Beach. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier
A beautiful evening brought the crowds out for the annual Tree Lighting on the Guilford Green. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier
GHS Voices performed holiday favorites at Mohegan Sun arena as the opening act for Pentatonix on Dec. 10. Photo by Amanda Hanzlik