In Case You Missed It, Press Conference Held at Buttonwood Farms

This article was published on: 08/8/18 5:30 AM by Mike Minarsky


On the morning  of Tuesday August 7, 2018, a press conference was held at Buttonwood Farms with several local political candidates regarding the proposed gun range in Pachaug State Forest.

Pam Patalano greeted the crowd with a few facts about the forest, saying that 85,000 people visit the 28k acres of Pachaug, and that the facility the state intends to construct would cost nearly $30 million. She asked the candidates three pressing questions, first being:

“What will you do about the placement of this facility when you become an elected official?”  

She then asked,

“What is your plan to drive tourism to eastern Connecticut?”


“What will you do about economic growth and development, including small businesses?”

Every Candidate in attendance agreed, there will be no state gun range in Griswold, CT if they are elected. They also agreed that if a state range was to built, that it should be in a more centrally located area.

Tracey Hansen, the first selectman of Voluntown, noted that because of the forest, the state owns 70% of their town land, and “does not pay their fair share of property taxes.”

In addition, Duane Button, owner of Buttonwood Farms, shared his own thoughts on the range. He shared with the crowd that when people ask what else there is to do in the area, the response is always Pachaug, as it is a great tourist destination. He said, “we don’t have a hell of a lot here, and I don’t want you to screw it up.”

The first candidate to take the microphone was Tim Herbst, who is running on the republican ticket for governor. His words rang through the farm on this sunny day when he said, “over my dead body is a gun range going in Griswold.” The crowd then cheered in agreement. He mentioned that there is a place in Meriden that is centrally located, and perfectly fit for a state gun range. Herbst also noted that agriculture has been neglected by the current administration, and that it is critical.

Following Herbst, Steve Mikutel took the stage as a candidate for the 45th district representative, saying that the tourism infrastructure is “in shambles.” He says that in order to fix it, we have to go back to the system we had in place by creating a northeastern CT tourism district to represent small towns. On the topic of the gun range,  he mentioned that it’s about doing the right thing and the responsible thing, and that “the right thing is not forcing a gun range on a town that does not want it,” mentioning the town vote that occurred where the range was opposed overwhelmingly by Griswold citizens.

David Stemerman, another candidate for governor, spoke about how coming from the business world, that the way the current administration is running is crazy, saying that the “people in Hartford are not listening.” He also mentioned how the area had ‘tremendous potential’ for future tourism, and can be quoted saying, “We can create a powerhouse with the right resources.”

Another candidate for the 45th district representative, Brian Lanoue, spoke on how new technologies could be made in the area.

Mark Boughton, the third candidate for governor, says no to the the gun range, “Not now, not tomorrow, not ever.” He mentioned that there is a federally owned facility in East Haven that could be used by the troopers. In regards to economic growth, he says he wants to double the tourism in the area, and also reopen welcome centers across the state. He noted that studies have shown that $1 invested in tourism results in $7 of revenue.

As a senatorial candidate, Bob Statchen said that “manufacturing and healthcare are the two biggest opportunities in the area,” also mentioning that 13,000-18,000 jobs are coming through Electric Boat (EB).

Griswold’s hometown girl: Sue Hatfield, Attorney General candidate states she will “use the power of [her] office to fight against the unnecessary gun range,” when elected. She notes that we need more troopers ‘on the road.’ She also tells the crowd that $30 million is not “just a drop in the bucket.” As she was raised right here in the sunflower city, she says she knows the importance of tourism to Pachaug.

“Over Tim Herbst’s dead body!” cheered incumbent senatorial candidate, Heather Somers as she took the stage. Somers claims to be actively fighting the gun range in the legislature, but the legislators in Hartford don’t want to talk about it.

Chris Mattei, another candidate for Attorney General was not in attendance, but had a representative to speak for him.

Current 45th district representative Kevin Skulczyck, spoke out against the gun range saying that economics is simple, “Connecticut can’t afford it, and people don’t want it.” He also said we need to get Connecticut back on track, referring to Eastern CT as the ‘crown jewel.’

Art Linares is a senator currently, but is running for treasurer. He told the crowd, “Leadership is taking on an issue when everyone else is afraid to,” citing Sen. Somers as a ‘champion on ending the gun range.’ He also noted that he plans to balance the budget, as the state  has ‘put too much money of its credit card.’

Both Michelle Bicking and Mark Lounsbury brought the idea of industrial/commercial hemp to the table, saying it has potential as an economic boost. Bicking, who is a Green Party representative candidate for the second district, noted that we could become leaders in the Northeast.

Lounsbury, a senatorial candidate said that he is here to ask the people what they want and need, so he asked the crowd, “Do you want a firing range here?” by which the crowd replied, “No!”

And finally, Jayme Stevenson, running for Lieutenant Governor, noted that preserving open space is critically important in regards to the gun range.

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