Person of the Week
A Bellringer and More for Clinton
It’s hard to find efforts to improve life in Clinton that haven’t been fostered in some way by Jane Scully Welch. (Photo courtesy of Jane Scully Welch )
In downtown Clinton, toward the neighborhoods by the town marina on recent nights, there was a bit of a cacophony on recent nights. But it was nothing to be alarmed about: It was just the neighbors checking in on each other during the COVID-19 virus outbreak in their own unique way, as started by resident Jane Scully Welch.
“It’s just a way to let other people they are around,” explains Jane.
The way it works is simple: At 7 p.m. every night, the residents of the Grove and Commerce streets area ring bells, bang pots and pans, or even blare a foghorn to show their neighbors that they’re all in this together.
The COVID-19 outbreak has led to the cancellation of scores of normally scheduled activities and perhaps most frustratingly, people have been instructed that the best way to stay safe is to stay home, preventing friends and loved ones from gathering. This can be hard for everyone, and Jane says doing this silly idea is a way to at least get some kind of human interaction that everyone craves.
Once a week, Jane says residents will gather at the corner of Grove and Commerce to make noise and be together as a group, but they make sure the group members all remains six feet apart. In addition to the bell ringing, Jane says she made a hopscotch in front of her house, while others have placed decorations in their yards to liven up the area.
“We get a crazy mix of people, but you gotta do stuff like this,” she says. “Clinton is special and you’ve got to do things to bring its spirits up.”
Jane got the idea for the bell ringing from a friend who has relatives in another town that does a similar celebration. She figured it was a safe way for residents in her tight knit area of town—which she and her neighbors lovingly refer to as “Camelot”—to participate in an activity together.
“You get a few people and walk around and say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do,’ and pretty soon people know it’s happening,” Jane says about organizing the effort.
Jane says she and her neighbors have been brainstorming about fun ways to spice up their nightly ritual. For instance, on a recent April night, some resident decided to put lights up in their yard as a way to honor the medical professionals combating the virus.
Contributing to the Clinton community is something that is in Jane’s blood, literally. Jane credits her sense of community to her mother, who served as Clinton’s first selectman in from 1969 to 1973 and again in the ‘80s.
“My mother was first selectman and she really instilled in me a love of Clinton and any group that has Clinton at its heart, I’ll certainly be part of or support,” Jane says.
Jane’s mother was the first woman to be a first selectman in the state.
“She had great women in that office that helped her,” Jane recalls. “I got so much from her. She just loved Clinton.”
Some of the ways Jane has been able to contribute to community is as a member of the Pretty Committee, the Morgan School Alumni Association Reunion Committee, the Board of Finance, and the Clinton Historical Society—and that’s only scratching the surface. If there is an event or fundraiser happening in town, there’s a good chance Jane is involved.
Fundraising is something Jane believes will be a major issue the longer that businesses are shuttered due to the virus. Jane says she’ll be keenly interested in helping in any way she can to make sure fundraisers for folks affected by the virus go off without a hitch.
“I’m concerned about our local businesses,” she laments. “Clinton is a great place. We need to keep it going.”
Given her deep love for Clinton, it’s no surprise that during the 2019 municipal election Jane tried for a seat on the Clinton Town Council. Though she was unsuccessful in her efforts, Jane sees a silver lining not winning in the election: “I don’t have to be a strict Town Council member, I can just be a Clintonian.”
Jane grew up in Clinton and then moved away for several years when her husband Tom Welch had a job that took them elsewhere. They returned to town in 2006.
“I just wanted to go home. This is where I belong,” Jane explains.
Her favorite thing about Clinton remains the people.
“If you ever need something, they’re not gonna let you go without help,” Jane says.