When the Going Got Tough, Monroe Got Going

Sharing the heartbreak felt by its Newtown neighbors, while trying to understand how someone could gun down elementary school children and staff in Sandy Hook. Shoveling and plowing its way out of an avalanche of snow from a February blizzard. Monroe residents stepped up in times of tragedy and hardship in 2013, and their collective generosity, kindness and hard work always shone through.

Monroe was in the international spotlight after the tragic shooting in Newtown when town officials offered use of the Chalk Hill building to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many teachers and residents volunteered setting up classrooms and Monroe police officers provided campus security to make the families feel safe.

The public outpouring of support for its Newtown neighbors was also evident by the large crowd that surrounded the gazebo in front of Monroe Town Hall one cold Saturday night in December 2012. The flickering glow of candles illuminated the sad faces of residents who came out to mourn the loss.

Beating a Blizzard

Long before the air was thick with snow at the height of the blizzard on Friday, Feb. 8, Monroe Highway Department crews had punched in at the Purdy Hill Road garage and their plow trucks were ready to go. On Wednesday morning, Highway Superintendent Jim Robinson pored over his handwritten notes, while recounting how his crew made Monroe's roads passable well before their counterparts in surrounding towns.

The town's crew members arrived at the garage at 6:30 a.m. that Friday and did not finish the initial job until 6 p.m. on Saturday, when several of them could not go back home due to snow-covered roads in their own towns. Some drivers slept on couches and in chairs during their shift, while others slept in their trucks.

"It's just plain old hard work is what it was," Robinson said, looking up from his notebook.

The momentous task of clearing the town's roadways required 17 of Monroe's old trucks, two private contractors for the dirt roads and one for the industrial park on Pepper Street. Three Parks & Recreation drivers cleared snow from parking lots and sidewalks at Monroe Town Hall, Edith Wheeler Memorial Library and Monroe Food Pantry.

'One of a Kind'

Monroe may have made it through the storm, but it was not without a significant loss. Raymond F. McPadden Jr., 49, of Shelton, died plowing his driveway during the blizzard. He was a businessman who believed in giving back to the community.

McPadden was co-owner of Mr. Mac's Canteen, which has two locations — one in Monroe and another in Milford. In Monroe, McPadden was known for his generosity.


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