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Who we are


Who we are


The "We " referred to here, are simply a group of town residents who have a genuine interest, and are active in:

Preservation, Land Stewardship, Town Heritage, and Conservation.  ​​​​​"We"  are not​ opposed to private or commercial development that is properly, prudently, and correctly proposed. "We"  voluntarily apply our professional skills to issues that affect the quality of life in Suffield. It's a privilege for us to represent the voices of many like minded residents.

Introducing: the core group of folks who volunteer their time in their fields of expertise, to lend a hand with this community enrichment project for Suffield. The number of friends and neighbors that
have an interest in making this happen continues to grow, and we welcome any help and services.

Janet Banks 

Since coming to Suffield in 1964, Janet has sought ways to contribute to the community. From being a Girl Scout leader to doing Candidate Information sheets for the League of Women Voters and serving on the Editorial Board of the Suffield Observer, she has tried to have a positive impact on people and issues. Being part of the Heritage Committee for 10 years since its inception and chairing the Commercial Heritage sub-committee where she worked hard on the Town Center project led to her being co-chair of the Bridge Street School Study Committee. As one of the founding members of The Friends of the Farm at Hilltop, she hopes to develop Hilltop Farm into an educational site where people can learn important lessons from the land and our natural resources. Janet is also known as an accomplshed and consumate musician: For 30 years she has been Leader and and Conductor of the magnificent Handbell Choir at the First Congregational Church in Town

Ray Pioggia

"I live in the best place in the universe." For over thirty years Ray has resided in Suffield. He works as commercial photographer and photojournalist. During a boring high school summer vacation in 1970, he was recruited into a volunteer program at a work activity center in a small Colorado town working with emotionally and mentally challenged people. This discovery of an altruistic tendency has been nurtured and applied to all aspects of his life and work. "Growing up in a military family, I never had anywhere to call home 'till I landed in Suffield." Ray has produced several documentaries relating to life in Suffield including: "Suffield– vanishing landscape" and "I Remember Bridge Street School.​"  His connection to the school led to an invitation to be on the Bridge Street School Study Committees beginning in 2005. He also is a founding member of The Friends of the Farm at Hilltop and serves on it's board of directors.​

John G. Smith

John's family has been in the Suffield community since the mid 1950s. There are few individuals in the history of Town that have served for the public good in so many roles as he. His experience and wealth of knowledge is a huge asset to our Town, and he modestly shares his many faceted skills with an endearing sense of humor. He's served on the Board of Selectmen, the Police Commission, the Social Service Commission, Alternate Energy Committee, Technology Committee, Planning & Zoning, Conservation Commission, Volunteered on the Suffield Fire Department for 20 years - served as a lieutenant, was a Fellow Founder and Board Member for the Friends of the Farm at Hilltop, and served four years on the Suffield Chamber of Commerce including one year as President. John also maintains  a successful career as an independent producer of Video, Photography, Graphic & Web design. Asked when he sleeps: "In my spare time." ​

Joanne M. Sullivan

Lifelong Suffield resident, Joanne continues to successfuly manage several careers– in business, and as a respected Community Leader. She is currently serving her third term on the Board of  Selectmen, and was elected to this Office with five years experience as Secretary to former First Selectman. She has dedicated 11 years of service to the Suffield Board of Finance, was employed at the House Minority Office at the State Capitol, and since 1975 has officiated the Honor, Justice of Peace. Her civic activities include being a co-founder of the Suffield Chamber of Commerce, membership in the Suffield Womans Club, and former Board member: Friends of the Farm at Hilltop.  Joanne's business career as a Real Estate Executive and former owner of Chesnut Oak Associates matches the highest level of outstanding professionalism. As if these credentials weren't remarkable enough, they were all earned while being a full time Homemaker: Married 56 years, raised five sons, has twelve Grandchildren, and one Great Grandson.

Beth Chafetz

Beth moved to Suffield with her husband, Mel, and their two daughters almost 30 years ago. She was active in many volunteer activities from Girl Scouts to PTO when her kids were young. Beth taught language arts at Suffield Middle School for 15 years. One of the favorite parts of her job at SMS was the Drama Club, which she started 18 years ago. Now Beth works on The Observer and is president of Friends of Kent Memorial Library. She is a science docent at the Springfield Quadrangle as well as a docent for the Quadrangle’s classroom outreach program dealing with teaching tolerance. She is a member of Sinai Temple’s Board of Directors and is on a number of temple committees. Beth has sung with Springfield Symphony Chorus for 28 years. She and Mel enjoy traveling as well as visiting their two grandsons.

"to make awares our countrymen of the tasks at hand is our right and our duty"   ~ Paul Revere  

     • to create a public awareness campaign      
        regarding this timely opportunity. 
• to present facts and information so that all concerned can be updated on this issue.
• to promote the need for, and the benefits of
a Suffield Community Recreation Center.


"I’m increasingly concerned about transitions from one Board of Selectmen to another that often result in a change of direction or no direction. We do studies, invest copious amounts of citizen time, make decisions and then serious bi-partisan work is scrapped for the idea of the minute.  We need a broader community philosophy and plan.

We need to build on previous work

and then refine it together until community consensus is reached so we can go to Town Meeting with

broad support."

What is the best use for the former ​Bridge Street School
building and property?​​​​​
Please give your input and your vote for making use of this
valuable town property to enhance our quality of life.

…Are attempting in good faith: 



…Are attempting in good faith: 

-Janet Banks, Suffield Observer, September, 2012

"My intent for this publication is to

cultivate community involvement in

an important decision.               

…To present the architecture

of participation.  

-Ray Pioggia editor, publisher

"Many hands make huge tasks small…
and lots of applause when you're
done workin!"
~Will Rogers

Above: These signs had been posted around town by volunteer helpers to raise awareness, and support.

"…Thank you for taking the initiative to do something that has been ignored or mishandled by three administrations of Town government. Right now it's important to abandon the land sell-off idea."     

~anonymous – from an email message by a concerned viewer in September 2012.

The editor and publisher takes responsibility for the content contained here.
All views and opinions expressed are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.​

Why a Petition?

Why a Petition?

Why a Petition?

A hard fact about how our town government functions is that the Board of Selectmen, and the Board of Finance must be in agreement

on implementing and funding civic projects. This assures that our tax dollars are designated in priority, and with prudence.

In the case of  Bridge Street School, officials have not agreed on taking action. The question has also become entangled with other issues. The call

for not selling the site, and for repurposing it for community use –indeed a Community Center  has   gained favor. A petetion with hundreds or even thousands of signs becomes necessary to covince town leaders that the public support is strong for a course of action that is not recognized or acknowledged.

…continued from the Home page: An interview with John Smith It actually has been made use of, but it's condition has shamefully been allowed to deteriorate.
​JGS: Bridge Street School is an underutilized asset that our town government has ignored. It has great potential to be used by townspeople for many different community activities. We need  some creative re-thinking of the use for Bridge Street School. …on the part of Town officials?
JGS: Yes, in part, but participation and ideas from the public needs to ramp up.
What's very important, right away, is that we need to protect this asset from destruction by neglect. At a minimum we should have maintained the heating through the winter months by replacing the boiler, and some other basic maintenance. Would you speculate that the majority who voted to retain ownership, would also want to see something done to repurpose the structure?
JGS: No speculation, only my informed opinion. All those people who took the time to cast votes to retain ownership, really  need to take ownership, and follow up with involvment. The way to do this is   simply by spending a few minutes to sign the petition,  write a letter, send an email, or make a phone call. What are some of the ideas or suggestions you've already heard?
JGS: Bridge Street School is an important ​site to many people in Suffield. Based on
the way folks reacted to selling it off, I'd say many people appreciate that it's a town center building with incredible potential for serving our residents. The needs of our Parks and Recreation Commission is an excellent example. They have expressed an interest for years in using the building. Other possibilities are; the Friends of the Kent Memorial Library using some of the space to collect and organize their books for the annual sale, some examples of civic commercial use might be a place for the Chamber of Commerce. 
the Suffield Council for the Arts, Scouts, etc. The list goes on and on…

​ Yes, many other American towns have thriving Community Centers.
JGS: Organizing community support for this– to actually convince town officials now, is what it's going to take. ​ Can you sum up your comments with with a catch phrase?
JGS: Catch phrase?? Yeah- when are you ever at a loss for words?
JGS: Ahh, let me think- OK you know that "Got Milk?" slogan? How about this: "Got
"Community Enrichment?" Excellent! Thank you John.​

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