STAFF TRIBUTE -- (Extensions of Remarks - December 05, 2006)
* Mr. SIMMONS. Mr. Speaker, in the closing days of the 109th Congress, Members will rise to acknowledge the departure of their colleagues. Some are retiring of their own volition while others, such as me, are leaving as a consequence of the November elections.
* While my colleagues deserve all of the accolades they will receive, I would like to devote just a few minutes to the loyal and capable men and women who have made my six years here in Congress so productive and rewarding. I would like to thank my wonderful staff.
* My staff has shared in every success and victory we have had over the past six years. They have also shared in the personal disruption and professional disappointment of leaving this place before our important work is done.
* They are as follows:
* Todd Mitchell, Chief of Staff, and my alter ego on all issues and decisions, whose steady hand and wise counsel allowed us to assemble and manage a dynamic and productive staff over the past five years;
* Erik Heilman and Lise Lynam, Legislative Directors, who energetically and faithfully pursued an aggressive legislative agenda in three committees, eight subcommittees and twenty caucuses, as well as for the District Office;
* Justin Bernier, Senior Legislative Assistant, whose acute insights and dynamic energy were largely responsible for saving Naval Submarine Base New London, which in turn saved Connecticut over 31,500 jobs and $3.5 billion in annual revenues;
* John Goodwin, Press Secretary and Jonathan Martin, Legislative Assistant, whose hard work and respect for America's working families won me accolades as a ``pro-labor Republican'' from The Wall Street Journal;
* Leigh Hightower, Senior Legislative Assistant of Mansfield, Connecticut, and Amy Pellegrino, Legislative Assistant from Westerly, Rhode Island, whose diligence and sympathy helped us to ``keep the promise'' to our veterans and improve health care for all Americans;
* Meghan Curran, Legislative Assistant from Bolton, Connecticut, whose commitment to the education of our Nation's children resulted in important legislative initiatives, and whose respect for Teachers resulted in her eventually leaving our staff to teach;
* Shauna Hewes, Legislative Assistant of Ledyard, Connecticut, whose persistent efforts and negotiating skills were instrumental in passing the Long Island Sound Stewardship Act;
* Dan Hartnett, Legislative Assistant, who received, processed and helped answer over 100,000 pieces of mail and countless e-mails so that our constituents were never out of touch with their Congressman;
* Emily Cantin, Scheduler of Marlborough, Connecticut, who ran a tight but happy front office, and kept me on time and on message through many busy weeks in Washington, DC;
* Will Cox, Staff Assistant of Mystic, Connecticut, whose cheerful demeanor and helpful habits made every visitor to the Washington Office feel welcome and important;
* Mr. E.J. Chubbs, my personal Transportation Advisor, who loyally and faithfully ensured that I arrived, departed and moved about the Nation's Capitol in a safe and congenial fashion for six wonderful years;
* John Bradley, former Staff Director, Veterans Affairs Health Subcommittee, whose dynamic leadership and concern for the health of our Nation'sveterans resulted in a 40 percent increase in funding and numerous legislative improvements in veterans' health care;
* Deron McElroy, Staff Director, Homeland Security Intelligence Subcommittee, whose insights and legislative skill were responsible for establishing a productive agenda for this important new subcommittee;
* Jane Dauphinais, District Director of Groton, Connecticut, whose management skills and knowledge of municipal government made the Norwich and Enfield offices vital resources to ``help the people'' of the Second Congressional District's sixty five towns;
* Jeff Nelson, Deputy District Director of Groton, Connecticut, who managed and implemented a hectic and sometimes hysterical schedule with calm aplomb, and shared many hours and 120,000 miles on the road in the district;
* Joe Bell, Communications Director of Mystic, Connecticut, our office intellectual, who read much and wrote more than was considered humanly possible, all in an effort to educate me and to enlighten the people of the region and the Nation;
* Betty Wagner, Constituent Services Director of Colchester, Connecticut, whose organizational skills and caring attitude brought aid and comfort to the many constituents of the district, and provided tenacious advocacy for our farmers and union members;
* Linda Camelio, Event Coordinator and Constituent Services Representative for Immigration of Pawcatuck, Connecticut, who helped those in need around the district and around the world, and provided an extra measure of organization and excitement to all our public events;
* K. Robert Lewis, Military and Veterans Constituent Services Representative of New London, Connecticut, whose diligent and dedicated work brought medals, benefits, aid and comfort to those who had or were serving our Nation in uniform, as well as to their families, widows and orphans;
* Paula Ferrara, Constituent Services Representative and ``Grant Goddess'' of Westbrook, Connecticut, who coordinated a highly successful effort to bring millions of our tax dollars back from Washington, DC, for the benefit of Fire, Police, Emergency Workers, Schools and all 65 towns in the district as well as helping thousands of Medicare eligible constituents with their Prescription Drug coverage and Social Security issues; and
* Al Powell, Executive Office Assistant of Waterford, Connecticut, who was the smiling face and cheerful voice of the Norwich Office, who welcomed visitors and protesters alike, answered tens of thousands of calls, and processed all mail, in and out, without fail for six wonderful years.
* I also thank those loyal and devoted professionals who labored long and hard in the Mystic Office: Eric Janney, Esq., of Stonington; Susan Bessette of Pawcatuck; Chris Healy of Wethersfield; Diane Generous of Sprague; Aaron McGarry of Thompson and Heath Fahle of Pawcatuck, Connecticut.
* Mr. Speaker, I owe a debt of gratitude to these loyal workers for helping me to help others. They gave life to my vision of a congressional office that truly ``helps people'' with case work, grants and positive legislation to benefit the Second District, Connecticut and the Nation.
* I thank them for a record of accomplishment, and I say thanks for the memories. Working together in a bipartisan fashion with a ``gung ho'' attitude, we did our best and we did well.