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Rep. Hurlburt joins Willington parent on Special Education Day

February 28, 2012 Areawide, Local News No Comments

Catherine Britschock of Willington, a member of the Special Education PTO Alliance, talks with Rep. Bryan Hurlburt at a meeting with Gov. Malloy on Feb. 28, 2012. Courtesy photo

State Rep. Bryan Hurlburt, (D-Ashford, Tolland and Willington) joined constituent Catherine Britschock of Willington at the State Capitol today (Feb. 28 ) to help raise awareness of the importance of special education services to the lives of thousands of Connecticut children.

Britschock and Rep. Hurlburt were joined by Gov. Dannel Malloy, parents, families and educators from around the state at a reception sponsored by the Special Education PTO Alliance.

Britschock is the mother of a special education student and helped organize the event.

“Equal access to educational opportunity is an individual right and societal responsibility,” Rep. Hurlburt said. “The Special Education PTO Alliance does a great job ensuring that the voices of children with learning disabilities are heard and I am proud to work with them in support of this important mission.”

Posted Feb. 28, 2012

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High winds could cause damage, outages in parts of Connecticut

February 24, 2012 Areawide, Local News No Comments

Gov. Malloy will open the state's Emergency Operations Center Saturday morning, Feb. 25, to respond to any emergencies resulting from high winds, forecast to reach as much as 48 mph. Photo source: NOAA gov web site, shows effects of a "macroburst" in 2006

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced today that he will partially activate the state’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 8 a.m. Saturday (Feb. 25) to respond to any emergencies that might arise as a result of high winds forecast for tonight and early Saturday.

Currently, a High Wind Warning has been issued for Windham, New London and Southern Middlesex Counties for overnight. The strongest winds expected after daybreak tomorrow.

A High Wind Warning is issued for forecasts of sustained wind speeds of at least 40 mph and gusts possibly in excess of 58 mph.

A less serious alert, a Wind Advisory, has been issued for the rest of the state.

The EOC will be staffed by the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Division of the State Police, Department of Public Health, Department of Transportation, Military Department, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, State Fire Coordination, and the state’s utilities.

Posted Feb. 24, 2012

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Democratic Senate hopefuls to be grilled at forum Feb 23

February 22, 2012 Local News No Comments

The Mansfield Democratic Town Committee and the Quiet Corner Democrats will host Democratic U.S. Senate candidates at a Thursday, Feb. 23 forum to begin at 7 p.m. in Mansfield Middle School on 205 Spring Hill Road.

It is free and open to the public.

The Quiet Corner Democrats is a group of Democratic Town Committee members in northeastern Connecticut towns: Ashford, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Chaplin, Coventry, Columbia, Eastford, Franklin, Hampton, Lebanon, Mansfield, Scotland, Willington and Windham.

The forum will feature former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy, D-5th District and State Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford.

University of Connecticut Political Science Professor and Department head Mark Boyer will moderate.

“We’re very excited to be hosting this event,” said Mansfield Democratic Town Committee Chair Mark LaPlaca.

“It’s the first opportunity where all of the candidates will be on the same stage,” said LaPlaca.

Among those expected to attend the forum are State Rep. Gregory Haddad, D- Mansfield, town officials and state Rep. Linda Orange, D-Colchester whose district includes a part of Mansfield as a result of the recent redistricting.

LaPlaca said questions will be prepared ahead of time pertaining to a “wide range of issues,” such as education, the economy, foreign policy and unemployment.

Questions will not be taken from the audience, but residents will have the opportunity to speak with the candidates during a dessert reception in the school cafeteria.

LaPlaca said there are already more than 200 spots reserved for the audience and the two hosting groups are hoping to get 300 or 400 people to attend the event.

A reservation is not required.

Posted Feb. 22, 2012 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

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Local enterprises qualify for new Small Business Express grants

February 21, 2012 Areawide, Business, Local News No Comments

Connecticut Casket Company, based in Willimantic, CT is one of five small businesses to recently qualify for state EXP grants aimed specifically at companies with fewer than 50 employees. Besides caskets and urns, the company also makes keepsake necklaces with glass beads that are infused with the ashes of your loved one (including your four-footed family members). Each one is unique and can be made in any color. Photo source: Connecticut Casket Company web site

Five small businesses have qualified for grants through the state’s Small Business Express Program (EXP) to expand their businesses and create jobs.

EXP is part of the bi-partisan jobs bill passed during the October 2011 special legislative session. Administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), the program offers loans and matching grants to Connecticut companies with fewer than 50 employees.

In total, EXP will provide $100 million to help qualified small businesses hire more employees and fund capital investments.

According to DECD Commissioner Catherine Smitt, “This program is about getting working capital out the door quickly and efficiently so that our smaller companies can put it to work for them immediately and start putting more of Connecticut’s residents to work… This program is building momentum; we’re constantly getting new submissions from interested business owners and we’re approving new applications every day.”

The five small businesses that most recently qualified for the program are:

Connecticut Casket Company started designing, making and selling custom, environmentally-friendly caskets in Willimantic in 2010.

The company, which will retain three employees and hire three more within a year, will receive a $100,000 grant to buy equipment, improve the shop, train workers and expand its inventory. Connecticut Casket also will receive a Job Creation Incentive loan of $250,000.

“This investment will be a big help to the Connecticut Casket Company. It will allow this Windham business to hire more workers and grow our local economy,” said State Rep. Susan Johnson (D-Windham). “Governor Malloy is clearly focused on the needs of small businesses in eastern Connecticut and I want to thank him for his strong support.”

Said Sen. Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn), “Bill Covey and his employees represent the small business success story that is critical to Connecticut’s economy… The programs we passed last year are making a difference at a time when our businesses need it the most.”

Wooden-it-be-Nice, Inc., a consignment furniture company based in Marlborough with a facility in Glastonbury, provides a retail solution for selling second-hand furniture and accessories.

The company will use its $11,500 grant in working capital for inventory and processing, marketing and job creation/retention efforts, including training.

State Rep. Pam Sawyer (R-Andover, Bolton, Hebron, Marlborough) said, “This new approach, giving grants to small businesses in a short time frame, often in small amounts, can have a big impact on a company. Wooden-it-be-Nice is a perfect example. It is what was envisioned when the jobs bill passed last October.”

State Sen. Steve Cassano (D-Manchester), who represents Glastonbury, Manchester, Bolton and Marlborough said, “Our October investment in growing Connecticut jobs and its economy is paying off, and paying off handsomely. And it doesn’t make a difference if you’re a high-tech medical device manufacturer or a furniture consignment shop – if you’re a small business looking to expand, if you’re looking to hire, Connecticut is here to help.”

State Rep. Prasad Srinivasan (R-Glastonbury) called Wooden-it-be-Nice “an exemplary member of the Glastonbury business community.”

Norwich Printing Company was founded and incorporated in 1992 as part of the Minuteman Press Franchise and has since grown from a two-person operation to eight full-time employees. The company plans to grow even further by using its $48,357 grant to buy four new pieces of equipment.

“I am so happy that the Norwich Printing Company is getting this funding to expand its production capabilities,” said State Sen. Edith Prague (D-Columbia). “News like this is proof that the Governor’s jobs bill is working, which is why I voted for the measure last October. This is wonderful news for the Norwich community, and the Governor should be commended for his vision for job creation.”

Elka Precision of Plainville designs and manufactures hydrostatic spindles, tables and slides that improve grinding accuracy and reduce grinding times for the overall improvement of machined products.

Elka Precision plans to begin an aggressive campaign to market its products overseas, including European and Asian markets.

The company, which plans to hire eight new employees, will receive a Job Creation Incentive loan of $250,000 to use for equipment, training, travel and other related expenses.

My Three Sons (Petrini Six Enterprises) is an indoor family entertainment center in Norwalk. The company will use a $50,000 grant from DECD to purchase new equipment that will increase customers and revenue.

For more information on EXP or to apply for the program, visit the Small Business Express Program website or contact Michelle Lugo at DECD at 860-270-8052 or Michelle.Lugo@ct.gov

Posted Feb. 21, 2012 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

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Save a life and win money for your heating bill

February 20, 2012 Areawide, Local News No Comments

Patients need blood every day, including during the winter season when blood donations often decrease. Photo courtesy of American Red Cross

The need for blood is always with us, but the chance to save a life and win $200 to pay down your winter fuel bill comes to an end on March 1.

As a special thank you, all those who come in to donate blood at American Red Cross blood drives in Connecticut during the month of February will be eligible to win free heat for a month.

Weekly drawings will be held from Feb. 1 through Feb. 29, 2012. ($200 maximum, paid directly to your utility provider. Prize is not redeemable for cash and is non-transferable.)

Patients need blood every day, including during the winter season when blood donations often decrease.

Each donation of blood can help to meet the daily needs of patients in Connecticut hospitals.

Across the country, on average, 44,000 blood donations are needed each day to help trauma victims, surgical patients, burn victims, patients with blood disorders and many others.

Who can donate?

Potential blood donors must be at least 17 years old, meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on your height) and be in generally good health.

Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

Did you know? Eligible donors can give whole blood every 56 days.

Please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit http://www.redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive at a convenient location near you and to make an appointment.

Posted Feb. 20, 2012

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Gov. Malloy promises more education funds – and bonus for new Alliance Districts

February 19, 2012 Areawide, Business, Local News No Comments

According to a statement made by Gov. Malloy on Feb. 8, 2012 a total of 130 towns will receive more ECS funding than they did in 2011-2012 and no town will see funding drop from 2011-2012 levels.

New, however, is the plan to make additional dollars available to something he calls Alliance Districts.

Alliance Districts will be groupings of the state’s 30 lowest-performing school districts.

Nearly $40 million will go to Alliance Districts – if they implement Gov. Malloy’s education reform strategies.

According to Gov. Malloy, an additional $4.5 million in competitive funding will be offered to all districts, with preference given to 30 Alliance districts, to fuel “ambitious innovations and deeper reforms.”

Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor commented, “The governor’s proposal acknowledges that resource constraints are one obstacle to many of our low-performing districts’ ability to improve their schools – while recognizing that increased funding alone will not improve student achievement…

“Rather, it is essential that these districts also embrace reforms rooted in best practices. The conditional funding model provides added resources and increased accountability. We look forward to working in alliance with these low-performing districts as they implement their reforms and elevate their achievement levels.”

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman added, “I strongly believe that every child in our state deserves the opportunity to get a quality education, regardless of where they live. That is why one of our first priorities after taking office was to fully fund the ECS for all towns, and that is why we are making this targeted investment – to give that equal chance to children who happen to attend an under-performing school.”

Alliance Districts

Gov. Malloy’s proposal identifies the state’s 30 lowest-performing school districts as participants in a Performance Alliance between these districts and the State, which makes them eligible for significant increases in state funding.

To qualify for these funds, Each Alliance District must submit a reform plan that includes elements of “reform strategies” in the governor’s proposal.

The State Department of Education will review these plans and recommend which ones should be approved.

Alliance Districts can choose from these “reform strategies”:

  • “tiered district interventions” for schools based on school-level student performance;
  • additional learning time, including extended school day and year;
  • career ladders for school personnel;
  • a professional development system “informed by educator evaluations”;
  • plans to ensure K-3 reading mastery;
  • coordination of early childhood education services;
  • creating a community schools approach by establishing “wraparound services” for students with links to health and social service providers;
  • and other strategies as determined by the Education Commissioner.

Alliance Districts will have new funding phased in at the rate of 2.47 percent of the gap between what they currently receive in ECS funding and the new formula amount – other districts will receive 1.4 percent of the funding amount gap – according to Gov. Malloy’s statement.

Posted Feb. 19, 2012

Related link: More details about Gov. Malloy’s plans for Education Reform http://www.governor.ct.gov/malloy/cwp/view.asp?A=4010&Q=498746

Have a news item, event or Letter to the Editor you’d like posted on this news site? Simply send your information to editor@htnp.com and include your town in the subject line of your email. Please also include a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions. To keep up-to-date on local news, “like” us (HTNP News) on Facebook and follow us ( @HTNP) on Twitter!

Rep. Hurlburt to hold open office hours in Willington Feb 11

February 6, 2012 Local News No Comments

State Rep. Bryan Hurlburt (D-53) represents Ashford, Tolland and Willington CT.

State Rep. Bryan Hurlburt (D-53), who represents Ashford, Tolland and Willington in the Connecticut General Assembly’s 53rd District, will hold open office hours at the town library on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012.

Rep. Hurlburt will be available to meet with residents to answer questions and discuss issues from 10:30-11: 3 0 a.m. in the library’s community room.

“This is a great way to meet with people and discuss issues in an informal setting,” Rep. Hurlburt said. “The legislative session will have just convened and it is very helpful to hear what people are thinking.”

Rep. Hurlburt is serving his third term in the state legislature. He chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Conservation and Development, and also serves on the Environment and Higher Education & Employment Advancement committees.

Posted Feb. 6, 2012

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In Willington – Towns consider sharing cost of construction equipment

Selected proposals will receive a state grant of 50 percent, if at least one of the towns is a “distressed municipality/targeted investment community/public investment community.” Windham falls under the “distressed municipality” description and Elsesser said he is looking forward to working with Windham.

The nine towns in the Windham Region Council of Governments (WINCOG) have begun talks on a new project that could help save the towns money by sharing public works equipment.

A meeting Tuesday (Jan. 31) brought many of the public works directors and town management staffs together to brainstorm ideas.

WINCOG provides towns with a forum for intermunicipal discussion, coordination and decision­making and includes workshops on timely issues and occasions for such discussion and coordination.

Member towns are Chaplin, Columbia, Coventry, Hampton, Lebanon, Mansfield, Scotland, Willington and Windham.

The project could have the towns take advantage of the state Office of Policy and Management’s Intertown Capital Equipment Purchasing Incentive (ICE) Program.

Coventry Town Manager John Elsesser said a lot of equipment the towns were thinking of getting is “quite expensive.”

He said some of the equipment discussed Tuesday included a portable pothole patcher, a skid-steer loader, or Bobcat with special attachments, and portable lighting, among other items.

“A lot of ideas were thrown out and haven’t been finalized yet and some ideas may be added or dropped,” Elsesser said.

WINCOG Executive Director Mark Paquette said the grant offers towns a way to get the machines they need without carrying the full burden of the cost.

“Many of these towns would never be able to get these types of equipment on their own,” Paquette said. “This is a great deal with a great incentive.”

Selected proposals will receive a state grant of 50 percent, if at least one of the towns is a “distressed municipality/targeted investment community/public investment community.”

Windham falls under the “distressed municipality” description and Elsesser said he is looking forward to working with Windham.

Municipalities must provide matching funds and the state grant cannot exceed $250,000.

Coventry Director of Public Works David Gofstein said if scheduling the use of equipment is done right, there shouldn’t be any problems with availability among the towns.

“All of the towns would split the cost accordingly,” said Elsesser. He added that each town was asked to put a “placeholder” of $14,000 in their capital budgets.

“For $14,000, we can all get $250,000 of equipment,” he said.

Elsesser added this isn’t a new idea for Coventry; the town has shared a catch basin cleaner with Mansfield for almost 15 years.

Windham Mayor Ernie Eldridge, who wasn’t at Tuesday’s meeting, said he is all for sharing equipment with other towns. “Sharing is a great part of keeping cost down for our towns… Why would one town need $100,000 worth of equipment on their own?” he said.

Paquette said there will be more discussions about the idea.

“There is a strong incentive to get this significant savings,” he said, but they “still need to do some research on the whole idea.”

A decision should be made within the next couple of months. Final proposals must be received by the state Office of Policy and Management on or before May 1, 2012.

Posted Feb. 2, 2012 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

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Connecticut Water refutes criticisms of UConn water plan

Connecticut Water Eric Thornburg from Town Talk

Connecticut Water is well positioned to provide the water necessary to meet the needs identified for the University and the community over the 50 year planning horizon. The EIE considered the projected demands for the University’s Tech Park and the Next Generation initiative, as well as the Town of Mansfield’s plans for redevelopment of the Four Corners, the proposed managed care facility, and other potential development in the community consistent with their local plans.

Future of local water supply is topic of public forum July 29

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Questions about water sources, usage and quality have come into focus recently in light of the Storrs Center development, UConn’s plans to bring in water to support a new Tech Park and the concurrent needs of the towns in this region, particularly in terms of their own development plans.

Coventry Farmers Market invites you to a ‘wellness’ swap

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As always, anything handmade, handcrafted or homegrown is swappable. But remember – you must sign up and bring something to get something in return!

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