Monthly Archives: December 2012

Newtown Resident’s 9/11/01 Memorial Offers Solace for 12/14/12 Mourners

Newtown Resident’s 9/11/01 Memorial Offers Solace for 12/14/12 Mourners


For Newtown resident Howard Lasher, the wounds of the tragedy  of 9/11 are still fresh in his mind and heart more than a decade later. Experiencing another horrific tragedy in his lifetime, he said, is almost too much to bear.

“My heart has been shattered by this senseless evil of the massacre of those innocent children and educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.”

Mr. Lasher lives with his wife on Dodgingtown Road (Route 302) in Newtown and is the owner of the “Flag Trees” memorial.

In September of 2001 Mr. Lasher commissioned artist David Merrill to paint a tribute to his 10 dear friends that he lost that day.

Mr. Lasher said: “The American Flag Memorial is about the people who tragically lost their lives on 9/11 and also for all those men and women who have given their lives in defense of our great nation. Whether it is Iraq, Afghanistan and all the wars, The American Flag Memorial represents what they died for.”

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy of 12/14/12, Mr. Lasher has seen a steady stream of mourners come to his flag trees to light candles, leave cards, flowers and pictures and pray for the families who lost loved ones way too soon due to the horrific events of that day.

“The pain and anguish shall be a part of me forever and ever,” Mr. Lasher said. He hopes that after the Town of Newtown takes down the memorials around town after the New Year that people will still come to his memorial to pray and grieve.

For more information about Mr. Lasher’s flag trees memorial, please click here.



Town of Newtown Grateful for Help, Asks for Temporary Halt of Donations

Town of Newtown Grateful for Help, Asks for Temporary Halt of Donations


First Selectman Pat Llodra told Newtown Bee managing editor John Voket to

ask the public to cease sending gifts to the community following the deadly school shooting, saying they’re very grateful but can’t handle the massive amount of donations coming in from around the country.

Voket told Bethel Buzz that in addition to the deluge of donations the town is dealing with,  there is a strong concern for the many benefit concerts, private fundraising efforts and fundraising events taking place locally. “To avoid duplicate efforts the Town of Newtown has set up 3 committees to handle the many offers of help they are receiving,”Voket said. In addition to sifting through and channeling the hundreds  of offers of help to the appropriate parties, the Town will also be investigating and vetting private venues and organizations to ensure all donations go to directly benefit the families.

Please email for questions and/or concerns.

Please see more information below, published on 12/22/12 in the Newtown Bee, click here for more information.

Officials and community leaders working closely with residents and the survivors of the December 14 Sandy Hook School shooting wish to thank the people all over the world who have donated or are considering donating goods, services, or cash to help those affected.

The town issued a release December 22 to provide guidance and ensure donations go to good use and the purposes intended. Officials also want to inform the world about the status of the funds currently being collected by the United Way and Newtown Savings Bank in the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, which is one of many of funds collecting money.

According to Selectman Will Rodgers, a transition team has been formed to design an entity to receive that fund, as detailed below. This statement emanates from the Town of Newtown but is issued after consultation with various collecting entities including the United Way, Newtown Board of Education, other local charities and places of worship, and appropriate state officials.

Mr Rodgers said officials do not favor or discourage donations in general, or to any particular charitable entity or fund.

“Certainly it is not the intent to disparage any individual fund. And it is not an intent to speak for the entire charitable community,” he said, “and it is expressly not intended to speak for any of the families directly affected by this tragedy.”

The town, however, is offering this general guidance regarding donations of any type:

*Select a recipient fund that matches your intent in giving. There are any number of charities and funds that have arisen: individual or group victim family funds, scholarship funds, funds to construct physical memorials, funds for specific purposes or activities such as the arts, pets, therapy, etc. If you have a specific purpose, you will no doubt find a fund that addresses your desire.

*Engage in some level of verification or examination of the entity you are considering. Make sure you believe the entity is reliable because in these early days after the tragedy no general “vetting” or examinations may have been conducted of most funds, particularly smaller ones that have arisen to address this specific tragedy.

*Beware of groups that insist on immediate donations as most immediate needs are being met.

*If donating to a fund for a particular victim’s family, a key factor is whether the victim’s family itself knows and approves of the fund.

*Be patient and hold donations if possible to allow for processing, infrastructures, and safeguards to develop. Within a matter of a few days to a few weeks, structures will be developed to bring better organization to the charitable community. Right now many organizations are overwhelmed by the volume of giving. If, therefore, you are willing to wait a short time before donating, that may be helpful.

* Monetary (cash, checks, and credit card) and undesignated donations are often best. At this early stage all the costs, needs, and consequences of the tragedy are not yet known, indeed some have not yet unfolded. Monetary donations allow the receiving entity to match resources to needs. This applies particularly to corporate and other large donors.

In regard to the donations of goods or physical items such as perishable food, teddy bears, school supplies, etc. Many such offerings have been pouring into the Town, local places of worship, relief organizations, and others.

Officials are asking anyone organizing donations of goods and/or services to note the following guidance:

* Contact the receiving organization first to determine whether it wishes the donation, and is prepared to receive it. Certain groups, including town and Board of Education offices, may wish to have you hold or send your donation elsewhere, to a central processing point, for instance.

* Please do not send perishable goods any longer, except at specific request. There is no way to distribute them in a timely fashion.

* Again, patience would be appreciated. Physical goods require resources for handling and those resources are strained. In most cases each item requires some level of inspection by law enforcement by protocol as a precaution.

Donations of services and volunteerism may range from staffing phones to painting walls to visits or performances from those in the sports and entertainment fields. Many such efforts are already underway or in planning stages.

* Grass roots volunteers should contact those entities they wish to serve directly.

* Sports, entertainment, and other national organizations are asked to register and coordinate with a point of contact soon to be established and publicized. In the interim, if such groups need information regarding where to place proceeds, contact specific funds of your choice.

The Sandy Hook School Support Fund at Newtown Savings Bank, established in partnership with the Untied Way, has been and will be receiving funds from those wishing to help with needs connected to the tragedy. Because there has been some misinformation circulating as the this Fund, the following points of information are offered:

*Neither the United Way nor Newtown Savings Bank has been taking any portion of the Fund whatsoever for administrative or other purposes. The funds collected remain 100 percent intact.

*Neither the United Way nor Newtown Savings Bank will be determining how the moneys in the fund will be distributed. Instead, the fund will be turned over to a charitable entity to be formed by local officials with the input or assistance of state officials and disaster fund experts from the public and private sectors.

The transition team working on that process and entity consists of Attorney Will Rodgers, selectman; Attorney Andrew Buzzi, Newtown resident; Debbie Leidlein, chairman, Board of Education; Kim Morgan, chief executive officer, United Way of Western CT; Elizabeth Goering, United Way of Western CT; Attorney Andrew Zeitlin, United Way Board of Trustees; John F. Trentacosta, President & CEO Newtown Savings Bank; Attorney David Grogins, Town Counsel, Cohen & Wolf; Attorney Floyd Dugas, Board of Education Counsel, Bercham, Moses & Devlin.

One of the key elements of such an entity will be that both the scope of the assistance it provides, as well as each case by case decision to render assistance, will be determined with community input or by a community based board. This fund is designed to receive only general, undesignated donations.

Local Chiropractors Partner to Raise Funds for Newtown

Local Chiropractors Partner to Raise Funds for Newtown

Dr. Russell Caram

Dr. Russell Caram

The following is an announcement from Dr. Russell D. Caram & his colleague, Dr. Michael Murphy, two Bethel chiropractors who teamed up to help raise funds for Newtown-
The chiropractors of Bethel are looking to help out our neighbors in our sister-town of Newtown/Sandy Hook with a fund-raiser.

On December 27, 2012, Bethel’s chiropractors we will be asking that you stop by the GENERAL PURPOSE ROOM of the Bethel Municipal Center (1 School St.) between 12PM and 5PM to GET ADJUSTED in exchange for a donation specifically designated to build a memorial when time permits.


Dr. Michael Murphy, photo contributed.

Dr. Michael Murphy, photo contributed.

Don’t worry if you’ve never been adjusted before, or haven’t been adjusted in a long time! Or…if you were curious about chiropractic care and what it can do for you, there’s no better time to find out and help out with only a donation. (If you don’t wish to get adjusted but want to make a donation anyway, that too is welcome).


Help Sandy Hook and Newtown by getting adjusted and making a donation on December 27th between 12PM and 5PM!!


Bethel Artist Dana Benz on a Mission to Bring Joy to Grieving Families Through Art

Bethel Artist Dana Benz on a Mission to Bring Joy to Grieving Families Through Art


Drawing of Emilie Parker by local 23-year-old Bethel artist Dana Benz.

On 12/14/12, Sandy Hook Elementary School lost 20 children, 5 teachers and a beloved principal in a horrific tragedy. Twenty-three year old Bethel Artist Dana Benz is on a mission to bring joy to grieving families through her artwork. Dana said she is in the process of drawing each victim as a tribute to their families after this senseless tragedy. To date she has drawn Emilie Parker, Dylan Hockley and Olivia Engel. Below is her tribute to Olivia.


Beautiful Olivia, 

Your sudden death has shaken us to the core. We love you and will remember you always. You may not be here physically but your soul is alive and well, resting in God’s loving arms.


Dana’s goal is to draw all 26 children and adults who passed away at Sandy Hook Elementary School and give the drawings to the families.

Below is her tribute to 6-year-old Dylan Hockley, who was also a member of Dana’s church, Walnut Hill Community Church. On Friday December 21, 2012 at 1:00 PM, the Walnut Hill Community Church, 156 Walnut Hill Rd., Bethel, will hold a  memorial service for Dylan which is open to the public. Dana plans on giving Dylan’s family the drawing at the service.

In the wake of the horrific tragedy, Dana has found a way to bring healing through her artwork and has partnered with the Sandy Hook Arts Center, a non-profit organization who will bring art therapy, music therapy and pet therapy to the Newtown community.

For more information or to donate to the fund, please click here.

Newtown Alumni Create “Newtown Pride” T-shirts for Victims & Survivors

Newtown Alumni Create “Newtown Pride” T-shirts for Victims & Survivors

n pride

As alumni of Newtown High School, we, like the rest of the world, were
stunned at the horrific news from home.  Graduates of the NHS Class of
2001 reached out to each other through Facebook, connecting those who
have moved to the other side of the country with those of us who
stayed in the area.  But whether near or far, the overwhelming
sentiments were all the same, we wanted to do something to help and we
wanted the world to know how proud we are of Newtown. One classmate
posted a picture of a t-shirt she made a few years ago for herself and
her friends which very simply said “I ❤ Newtown” in the state of CT
outline. Within moments, other classmates and community members
responded, saying they would buy a shirt like that to both raise money
for Sandy Hook’s victims and proudly support our town.

With that a simple idea was born. One alum who works in marketing
offered to help get the t-shirts and arrange a printer. Another
volunteered to help create a website. Thus was
ready to go. Not only is it important for us to help our own, but to
let the world to know we are so proud of our community, our schools,
our neighbors, and will continue to be proud that we grew up here.
What is most telling in all this, is that the concept for these
t-shirts was born long before this event shattered us. These t-shirts
were born because our classmate like ourselves, always loved Newtown
and we always will.

All proceeds will be donated to the Sandy Hook PTA and shirts can be
ordered through and updates can be seen at

First Selectman Offers Condolences, Assures Parents of Safety

First Selectman Offers Condolences, Assures Parents of Safety

Matt Knick

FIRST SELECTMAN’S OFFICE                                                                                                                      DECEMBER 19, 2012

I am sure that I speak for our entire community as I offer our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Quite honestly, I have struggled for days trying to put together some meaningful words that might convey the shock, the disbelief and the profound sense of sadness and grief we all feel. But I cannot find words that are up to that task. All I can say is the town of Bethel stands with our neighbors as they grieve, as a community, as a nation and as a people.

In times of great crisis, the first thing most people want to do is reach out and help their neighbors. I was contacted almost immediately by several Bethel restaurant owners who volunteered to provide meals for family members affected by the tragedy. Other Bethel residents immediately began organizing fund drives and collections. Our various youth groups, the high school NJROTC unit, scout troops and teen center volunteers lowered flags and began tying ribbons in remembrance of the Sandy Hook victims. Each day I learn of more activities and more people joining the effort to help in any way they can. There are too many of you to name, but I thank each and every one of you for all that you are doing. What you do to help our neighbors also strengthens our own community even more. Every single act of kindness matters.

In the wake of this terrible event, I would especially like to take a moment to reassure Bethel parents that every conceivable caution is being put in place in our own schools to make sure our children are safe. Beginning last Friday when news began to spread, our school officials and police department worked together to provide police presence in our school buildings, patrol the school campus and review safety procedures with all staff members. These steps will remain in place for the foreseeable future. In addition, police, school and town officials will meet over the holiday break to review and update safety procedures. I want our community to know that we will do everything humanly possible to insure your children are safe in school each and every day.

Time will eventually ease the feelings of shock and horror that have engulfed practically every waking minute since last week. But we must not, and will not forget the names and faces of the innocent victims. President Obama said it best when he said we are a better people than this; we can demonstrate this every day through acts of kindness which make our community and our nation stronger.

Matthew S. Knickerbocker, First Selectman, Bethel