2014 Environmental Awards

Environmental Awards were presented to two individuals who have donated property along the River Trail bordering the Quinebaug River by the Killingly

Conservation Commission at the Town Council meeting Jan. 14, 2014.

Bernard O. Bessette and Mitchell D. Phaiah were recognized "in appreciation of land donation to enhance the Quinebaug River Trail in Killingly."

These properties extend town ownership to 1.4 miles of contiguous property along the shoreline of the Quinebaug River

A map displayed the River Trail in Killingly, highlighting these donated properties. Combined with the so-called Davis property the town purchased in 1999, about 200 acres are now owned by the town along the Quinebaug River for passive and active recreation. Completed in 2009, the paved River Trail begins at the intersection of Rt. 6 and 12, extending south for about three miles. The next phase would create a trail further south to the Plainfield town line. Thanks were extended to Mitchell Phaiah for his support in conservation and general philanthropic efforts. John Sarantopolos, Town Council member and friend, gave tribute to Mitchell as "a family man who has always looked out for the best interest of his parents, brothers and all family members, and a true friend, not a fair- weather friend; he has always been there for people consistently. He is a good citizen who has contributed numerous times to Habitat for Humanity and his church in very generous ways. From humble beginnings, one of several brothers of mill-working Syrian immigrants, he is a self educated, hard working and very successful business man who never forgot where he come form or those who he grew up with. He believes deeply in giving back to the community. When approached to sell this property, he decided instead to donate it, realizing the community's need to make the Town-owned properties contiguous along the River Trail. When all is said and done, and one is measured up as to how they conducted themselves during one's time on earth as an individual, as a family man, neighbor, citizen of our society, I would give Mitchell Phaiah an A." Killingly Conservation Chairperson Donna Bronwell applauded Bernie Bessette for his generosity in his land donation. The parcel was handed down from his mother to three sons. Since Bernie is the only brother left and had no need for this property, he was pleased to give it for the town's use. This transfer process took over seven years to complete, and a sign was recently posted at the site "donated by Adrien, Bernard and Oliver Bessette". A humble man, his daughter stated that he is very willing and always giving a hand to family and friends. He loves working with wood, made signs and built two outhouses for snowmobile trails in Vermont. Snowmobiling is one activities he still loves. These donations are a significant contribution to the citizens of the town of Killingly, and further enhance the recreation access along the River Trail.

2016 Environmental Award

Virginia Chase was awarded this year's Environmental Award by Killingly Conservation Commission for her dedication in creating Mother Nature's Garden and promoting pollinator gardens in Killingly.

At the televised regular Town Council meeting on February 14, Donna Bronwell, Chair of the Killingly Conservation Commission, presented the award, adding Virginia's name to 14 other Environmental Award recipients on a plaque in the Town Hall.

Since 2002 KCC has given annual recognition to various individuals and groups for conservation activities:

  • That recognizes an individual, organization, school or business who contributes to the awareness, care, enhancement or protection of Killingly's open spaces and natural resources

  • Is instrumental in creating an environmental program in the schools or community, or participates in other environmental activities that merit recognition.

Bruce Kohl, KCC member, nominated Virginia who was instrumental in starting the Killingly Community Garden and Mother Nature's Garden.

The initial idea of creating a "bridge of flowers" across the Five Mile River in the Water Street area of downtown Danielson spurred Virginia to acquire 501c3 non-profit status for Mother Nature's Garden, dedicated to the formation and care of pollinator gardens in Killingly and to aid in the preservation of hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.

When Virginia was asked about the projects in making Killingly more beautiful, she honors the inspiration of Linda Walden, the former town planner who died unexpectedly in 2015. When considering how to continue the vision, Ginnie thinks "What would Linda do?"

As an accomplished photographer, her nature photos are available in the Tunk City Revival Shop in downtown Danielson.

For all of her commitment and efforts, the Killingly Conservation Commission awarded Virginia Chase this year's Environmental Award.