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In fictional animal news... Patricia MacLachlan and Steven Kellogg, author and illustrator, respectively, of the recently published Snowflakes Fall, both visited Sandy Hook School last week. I understand that while speaking to one group of students Mr Kellogg, a former Sandy Hook resident, shared a fun fact. Did you know his former canine Pinkerton, who inspired his Pinkerton books (like A Rose for Pinkerton), is hidden in some of the illustrations for some of his other books? Mr Kellogg admitted he loves drawing Pinkerton so much, that Pinkerton sometimes shows up on pages where he doesn’t belong, like his book Paul Bunyan.

Building playgrounds is not child’s play. It takes time and money. On Friday, January 17, Veronica DeMarest, the store director of the Big Y supermarket in Newtown, presented a check for $500 to Bill Lavin and his daughter Mary Kate Lavin, who represent The Sandy Ground Project, saying, “We here at Big Y very much appreciate and respect what Mr Bill Lavin and his team are doing. This obviously means a great deal to us and our local community, so we would like to present a donation on behalf of the Big Y Family.” The Sandy Ground Project has combined the events of Superstorm Sandy with the Sandy Hook School shooting incident and is now building 26 playgrounds on the East Coast in those areas the hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy. Each playground is dedicated to one of the 26 victims at Sandy Hook School. For details on the playground project: www.thesandygroundproject.org.

You have to hand it to our library staff. Despite a soggy mess that is being resolved at the C.H. Booth Library, they have come up with a plan to keep residents informed and well read. The C.H. Booth Library Information Desk opened this week at Edmond Town Hall, in the old Court Room, where tax forms will be available, along with the services of reference librarian Andy Forsyth and a library clerk. They’ll be able to help you find books through other libraries, and answer questions, Mondays through Thursdays, 2 to 6 pm, and on Saturdays from 9 am to noon, until the Main Street building can reopen to the public.

This is worth purring about: VFW Post Commander James Rebman has announced that library Internet users who are at loose ends these days, with the library closed, are welcome to use Wi-Fi services and other amenities at the Tinkerfield Road (Freedom Defender’s Way) facility. The VFW post is open every day 10 am to 9 pm. You don’t need to be a member to use these services.

If the snow and cold we’ve had piled on us periodically this winter keep up, I suspect Punxsutawney Phil will be loathe to even come out of his groundhog hole on February 2, let alone determine if winter will last another six weeks after that. You don’t have to travel to Pennsylvania for my prediction, and you don’t have to wait until February: this cat plans to stay curled up tight in front of the fireplace well into March, this year. You can quote me on that.

It may seem like I’m sleeping, but I absorb a lot of information perched here and there about town. Lately, I’ve heard whisperings that the board at Cullens Youth Association is hoping to build a new lodge on the Taunton Lake Road site, if they can raise the funds. Cullens is a 20-acre plot off Taunton Lake Road, where youth groups from Newtown are invited to enjoy nature and the use of the lodge for all kinds of activities. It is the home to Cub Scout and Boy Scout Troop 70, as well as Venture Crew 70, and has hosted many Girl Scout and other youth organizations eager to explore the two acres of activity fields, four acres of wooded camping sites, and canoe and fish on the seven-acre lake there. Built in 1983, the lodge, consisting of a large meeting room, kitchen, storage, and restrooms, suffered from an electrical fire in 2012. With all the talk of “Nature Deficit Disorder” among young people today, seems like supporting this outdoor effort would be a good idea. I’ll keep my ears perked up for further news.

Is there something that could be more enticing to our Newtown senior citizens than a free dinner, a free basketball game, and spending time with members of the Newtown Youth Basketball Association? The NYBA hopes not, because they are offering all that to seniors from town, Thursday evening, February 6, as an early valentine. Dinner prepared by the NHS culinary team will be shared with NYBA players at 6 pm, followed by free admission to the girls’ varsity game against Weston, beginning at 7.  Space is limited, so don’t delay. Register at www.newtownyouthbasketball.com.

I hope you take the time to scamper over to the Newtown Municipal Center at Fairfield Hills sometime before February 28. The Color in Winter Art Show & Sale by members of SCAN is on exhibit, and the original works of art can be viewed during regular municipal center hours. I’ll be “scanning” the paintings to see if anyone has used a feline model this year, my favorite subject.

When I saw his name, I just had to make sure that everyone knows about the upcoming program sponsored by the Newtown Prevention Council and the C.H. Booth Library. Dr David KATZ, a well-known face from Good Morning America and ABC News, will be at the Meeting House to share his parenting advice, next Tuesday, January 28, at 7 pm. The program is free, but registration is requested through the library website, www.chboothlibrary.org.

There is still time to get your tickets to the Fred Hersch concert at Edmond Town Hall, Sunday, February 9, at 7 pm. Fred is an acclaimed jazz pianist and his solo show that evening promises to be a real treat for jazz fans. Tickets can be ordered online at www.edmondtownhall.org. The concert is part of the Live At Edmond Town Hall series to support renovations and updates at the historic Main Street building.

You and I both know, though, that nothing can jazz up the day like this column; so be sure next week to… Read me again.

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