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Around The Grange
Wolcott official gets more than woof of thanks

By Andrew Larsen, Waterbury Republican-American (3/27/13)

  MARCH 24, 2013 --

Dogs, kids, pageant winners and town leaders found themselves at home Saturday at the Wolcott Grange 173.

Nearly 100 people and animals celebrated the success of the Wolcott Grange, which two years ago seemed to be near extinction, at the organization's facility on Boundline Road.

Seven volunteers received awards for their work reviving the Grange and performing community service.

Master of the Wolcott Grange Joe Ouimet, who is also Wolcott's animal control officer and served as fundraising chairman for the Animal Rescue Foundation, was among the honorees. Ouimet, who nominated the other award winners, was surprised and humbled by the honor.

"Being a rescue worker is usually a thankless job because dogs don't know how to thank you for your help," he said.

In addition to Ouimet, four others received awards from the General Assembly, presented by state Rep. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, and state Sen. Joseph C. Markley, R-16th District. They were Colleen Ward, Cassandra Mastrianni, Maggie Luddy and Irelynn Janell.

Also, two volunteers received awards on behalf of the town of Bristol. They were Grange Overseer Cheyenne O'Donnell and 5-year-old Makendra Mowad, who is the Grange's youngest volunteer.

But the spotlight was on Ouimet for most of the afternoon. Markley called him a "tireless promoter."

"You have set a standard for all to follow," said Markley, reading from Ouimet's state citation.

As fundraising chairman for the Animal Rescue Foundation, Ouimet helped spearhead a campaign to rebuild the Terryville dog and cat shelter, which burned down in 2008. Through his efforts, the organization raised about $700,000 for the shelter, which reopened last year.

"Some agencies try to use animals (to promote a cause)," said Sean Mowad, Makendra's father. "Joe really cares about animals as much as humans."

Saturday's event, which included a bonfire and pizza party, marks 1 years since the Wolcott Grange was revived under new leadership.

Before Ouimet and other leaders rejuvenated the organization, officials with the State Grange were ready to shut down the chapter due to inactivity.

But now the Wolcott Grange is thriving. It has more than 60 members and received a national award for recruitment.

O'Donnell, who as overseer serves as vice president of the Wolcott Grange, said Ouimet has been the main reason for the organization's success.

"Joe really does it all, he's like a miracle worker," she said.

The Grange's latest cause is raising money for the Wolcott Dog Park. A group overseeing the building of the facility, which will be next to Peterson Park on Mad River Road, is seeking to raise $30,000 to $40,000.

"That's petty change," joked Mastrianni, who sang at many fundraisers for the Animal Rescue Foundation and now lends her talent to the Grange. 

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