Friday, December 31, 2010

Buttonwood Tree Kicks Off 20th Year

The Buttonwood Tree was busy last night as volunteers readied the bookstore/performance space with new lights and New Year's Eve decorations for a kick-off party for the year-long celebration of their 20th year as North End Arts Rising (NEAR). Dubbed "Together 20", the celebrations will serve to acknowledge 20 years of support by the City's Middletown Commission on the Arts. They will also bring artists, patrons and the greater community closer together, (hopefully) in joyful appreciation of all we have and all we are, and, along the way, assist The Buttonwood Tree in raising fun and funds.
Fred Carroll lent his own artistry to the decor we thought you might enjoy. See his cartoons at Klekolo Coffee on Court St.

There are still a few tickets left!  You may go online to purchase some or to simply make a donation to support The Buttonwood Tree

Happy New Year!

Milardo Extends New Year Greeting in MMPA Newsletter

With New Year’s just a day away, what do we have to look forward to in the upcoming year?

We usually look ahead to make things better for ourselves and immediate families. If you can, helping others is very gratifying. It doesn’t take much away from our “normal” concerns in life. I’m not talking about putting together a global rock concert with stars galore.

Helping someone out, or working for a good cause, doesn’t mean we have to turn our back on anything or anyone else in life. As a matter of fact, it will make you feel better about yourself.

If your concerns regard global issues, find something you feel strongly about, and do something to help it. The ozone problem, medical conditions of third world nations, famine, animal extinction, earth quakes, or any other myriad of world problems, need to be addressed. It is the responsibility of those of us who have the means to help; in whatever way we can.

If you believe in national or local issues, there are many ways to help out. Doing something as small as taking out the trash, mowing a lawn, picking up some groceries for someone you know who can’t, has an impact. Any way we can help out those who have fallen on hard times; is appreciated by them. Giving blood or being tested for compatibility for a bone marrow donation has an impact. Food, clothing drives, monetary donations, have an impact on others. There are a million things that have an immediate or future effect on someone, or all of us.

We can make a change in the lives of others, one small step or gesture at a time. All we have to do is take a few minutes out of own lives, and do it.

Hoping everyone has a happy and healthy New Year. God Bless.

City Personnel Director Releases Background Report on McMahon

In a move she herself describes as "highly unusual," the City of Middletown's personnel director, Deborah Milardo, has released the entire background report developed when Acting Chief Patrick McMahon was first considered for the job of Deputy Chief in the Police Department three years ago.  The report was released after consultation with the candidate for Police Chief, McMahon, and the mayor, who has appointed McMahon for a second time.

The Common Council rejected McMahon's first appointment  in a contentious meeting of the Council on October 4.

The appointment of McMahon will be considered again at the next Common Council meeting, next Monday, January 3.

"I really defy any member of the Council to come up with objections after reading the report," Milardo said.  "I think this will focus their thinking, and their will only be one question to ask, 'Is he qualified?'"

Milardo said that although background checks are done on every director-level hire, an entire report has never been released before.

"But no one has ever been put through such a rigorous process before," Milardo said.

"Deb Milardo suggested releasing the report, and I told her I had to read it first," McMahon said in a phone interview from a ski cabin in New Hampshire.  "I knew it existed, but I just read it for the first time.

The picture that emerges of McMahon in the background report is of a dedicated, hard-working, community-minded and occasionally imperfect police officer who has pushed his fellow officers, and those who worked for him, to meet the high standards he set for himself.  Many of the interviewees and references note that McMahon has a naturally loud speaking voice that can be intimidating at first, but is soon accepted as his everyday vocal volume which accompanies a straightforward, and straight-speaking personality.  Just as many mention his seriousness about police work, and his dedication to doing the job well.

What's more revealing is a series of interviews about his tenure in Groton City, a period of McMahon's career which, according to reports, was difficult, and controversial.

According to the interviews of nine colleagues on the City of Groton Police Department, McMahon was hired by Groton City Police Chief to be an "enforcer," dealing with the problems of overtime abuse, and a power clique of longtime officers on the force unhappy that outsiders were named as chief and deputy chief.

According to Jad Bickford, an eight year veteran of the department: "All of these people have been 'running' the department as they control the union and have been there for over 20 years.  People in the department had been doing whatever they wanted and nobody was following procedures and overtime was being misused.  These people were responsible for causing trouble for two Chiefs and a Deputy Chief in the past that were forced to leave."

Another veteran police officer, Richard Chimiel, concurred and added: "They believed the Chief was directing McMahon to enforce discipline.  When the three troublemakers in the department caused trouble and went after McMahon to get at the Chief, neither the chief nor the mayor backed him up."

According to reports in the Hartford Courant at the time of McMahon's confirmation as Deputy Chief in Middletown, McMahon was slapped with a three-day suspension in Groton City "for allegedly making an angry face at an officer working unauthorized overtime and telling an ethnic (Polish) joke."  In his confirmation hearing McMahon referred to his behavior as a "dumb, stupid mistake."  The suspension was rescinded and removed from his personnel jacket as part of a legal separation agreement, which is also part of Milardo's report.

"It's clear when you read the report that McMahon got screwed by the City of Groton because of politics," Milardo said.

"The fact that (City of Groton) Mayor Popp signed a letter of recommendation is important.  There's nothing negative in there about me," McMahon said.  "They didn't want to see a good guy get screwed and they negotiated a fair agreement."

The thirty-one page report, compiled by an independent investigator, Frank Collins, includes letters of recommendation, interviews with past employers and co-workers and formal work reviews.  Milardo said that the report falls within Freedom of Information regulations, and so can be considered a public document, with some redactions including medical information, results of psychological testing and complaints or consultations which may have appeared in a personnel file but did not result in disciplinary action.

Milardo said that she was motivated to release the report after Council member Gerry Daley requested the ability to speak to an official from the City of Groton about McMahon's time as Deputy Chief in that municipality.  She could not recommend an individual that met Daley's demands, but remembers the background check, and decided to send it to all Council members.

Milardo insists that she released the report in her duty as Personnel Director to be sure that the city doesn't "head down the slippery slope toward litigation."

The report is not completely flattering, discussing McMahon's history of auto accidents, and a court-ordered garnishing of wages for child support after divorce ended his first marriage.  McMahon says that he never missed a child support payment, but the garnishment was granted by the court at the request of his ex-wife.

"It's a double-edged sword," Milardo said.  "People will read into this report what they want to see.  It's not the normal process to release a background report like this, but none of the process has been normal."

"I think what the Mayor and the Personnel Director are trying to do is to provide every opportunity to the Council to have the information they need,"  McMahon said.  "And to prevent them from saying we don't have enough information."

Recycling Center and Sanitation District Schedule for New Year's Holiday

From the Department of Public Works




The Middletown Recycling Center will be open Thursday December 30 from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm and Friday December 31 from 7:00 am to 12:00 noon.  It will be closed Saturday January 1st.  Happy New Year!

The Sanitation District will operate normal hours on Thursday December 30.  On Friday, December 31 it will only collect garbage from Friday customers.  Garbage will be collected on Main Street on Friday.   Friday recycling routes will be collected on Monday, January 3.  There will be no garbage or recycling collection on Saturday January 1st.   If your recycling or garbage was not picked up on the correct day, leave it out, as workers are still catching up from the holiday and storm last week.

Questions can be directed to the Public Works Department at 860-344-3407.  The Public Works Administrative office will be closed Friday December 31st.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Annual Financial Report Not Ready For Review

At a "special" meeting of Finance and Government Wednesday at City Hall, the committee's meeting was foreshortened after Finance Director Carl Erlacher informed the group that a draft of the Annual Finance Report was not available as expected.

"The auditor have been having difficulty getting information about educational grants from the Board of Education," Erlacher said. "But they have everything now, and they should be able to deliver the annual report by the deadline on Monday."

Erlacher must file the report with the state next week.

The audit has been anxiously awaited because of accusations by some in the city about financial improprieties in the Board of Education's accounting.  The Board or Education has consistently denied any problems with accounting practices in the school district.

Erlacher explained, that while the audit will be available early next week, a report on any problems in the city side, or the Board of Education, will likely take longer to deliver.

In other business, the Board agreed to move appropriations for asbestos removal in the City Hall boiler, and to pay for sidewalk repair and relocation of computers at the Police station with LOCIP (Local Capital Improvement) grant dollars from the state.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Developmental Asset Message of the Week - NYE Edition

We are days away from New Years Eve and 2011, an annual celebration of the year that has passed and a look forward to the one ahead.  It is a night to gather with friends and family and often times make a resolution to improve a certain aspect of our life.  Some of the more popular resolutions every year include eating healthier; excercising; learning to better manage stress; quitting smoking; and getting out of debt.   This year, I would like to encourage you to considering going to www.assetpromise.org and including a resolution that will improve the lives of a child or children around you.  You would be amazed at what kind of difference you can make throughout the year by committing to one simple promise!

5th Annual White Out Night on Main Street


Tonight the Middletown Substance Abuse Prevention Council (MSAPC) hosted its 5th annual White Out Night to raise awareness and prevent people from drinking and driving on New Years Eve. As with past years the group was met by a number of Middletown teens who braved the cold and walked up and down Main St in white t-shirts handing out statistics on drinking and driving while also wishing people a safe new years. More than 35 teens helped with the event consisting of the Youth Service Bureau's Dragons In Action (Middletown High School), Rushford's Rams In Action (Woodrow Wilson Middle School), and students from the Middletown United Fathers' Men at School program (with mentor Malik Pemberton).

Members of the MSAPC present including representatives from the Middletown Youth Services Bureau, Rushford, 1 Family Inc., Middlesex County Substance Abuse Prevention Council as well as BOE member and local realtor Jay Keiser.

The walk started at the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce and went up and down Main St. The group stopped to warm up at the North End Fire Station where they tied red ribbons to a number of the trucks there. If you missed them on Main St tonight or on the evening news, you can look for them tonight at 10pm and 11pm as channel 3, 8, 30, and 61 were all present. This was a great event showcasing the leadership of our young people and it was nice to see so much media present.

White out number of drunk drivers: wtnh.com

START THE NEW YEAR OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT ....ON ICE SKATES!!!!


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MIDDLETOWN ROTARY CLUB SAYS

"COME ON OVER TO CHAMPIONS SKATING CENTER

FOR A NEW YEARS DAY FUNDRAISER!"

Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 2:00 p.m.

8 Progress Drive, Cromwell 860-632-0323

(Champions is located off of Rt 372 behind Burger King and Chili’s Restaurant)


The Greater Middletown Rotary Club invites kids of all ages to join us for an Open Skate Fundraiser on New Year's Day from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm at Champions Skating Center in Cromwell, CT. All proceeds--every single dollar--will be used to benefit The Middletown Rotary Scholarship Fund. The Middletown Rotary Scholarship Fund gives scholarships to area high school youth who get good grades but who also have shown exceptional interest and leadership in community service. We want to nurture future leaders of our community.


A big thank you goes out to Rotarian and former Hartford Whaler Bob Crawford for hosting this fundraiser at Champions. (Bob's now working on bringing The Whale back to Hartford, among other things, like teaching young people ice hockey!) Also, a big thank you goes out to the entire Rotary Club for their help in organizing and supporting this event and to our friends out there--young and old-- who will be joining us for this important fundraiser. We really appreciate you and we are looking forward to welcoming in the New Year with you...on ice skates!


Admission is only $5.00 per person. Skate rentals are $3.00. There will be monitors on the ice to help pick you up if you fall down. If you're a land-lubber, that's ok because the snack bar will also be open with hot chocolate and coffee. So gather up the kids, call your friends, put a smile on your face, and get some exercise! We're certain you will see an old friend or two, or that you'll make a new friend. Now that's a great way to start 2011!


The Middletown Rotary Club provides services to the Greater Middletown community and internationally throughout the year. Local projects include supporting area food pantries, raising funds for an annual Turkey Drive, the Amber Alert child identification program, support to the Warm the Children program, hosting youth community service clubs at Mercy High School and at The Independent Day School, hosting young people in the Rotary International Student Exchange Program, and providing scholarships to high school and college youths. International projects that Middletown Rotary supports includes raising funds in the worldwide effort to eradicate polio, water filtration projects, and support to Haitian relief organizations, for example. This public skate fundraiser will specifically support the local Student Scholarship Program.



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Lesser Assigned to Watchdog Committee

House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan (D-Meriden) has chosen Rep. Matthew Lesser (D-Durham, Middlefield, Middletown) to serve as vice chairman of the Government Administration and Elections Committee.

“GAE is Connecticut's vital government watchdog,” Lesser said Wednesday. “We will help government run smarter and save taxpayers money.”

The committee has oversight of many areas, including reorganization of state government, ethics laws, the state Constitution and elections.

“GAE will be looking at many important issues over the next two years, from streamlining state government operations to the elections in Bridgeport,” Lesser said.

Lesser added that he was particularly honored to have been chosen for a committee leadership position in only his second term.

Lesser was recently re-elected to his second term in the General Assembly.


Free Radon Testing Kit From Department of Health

From the Middletown Department of HealthVersion


The United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has designated January as National Radon Action Month and is encouraging homeowners to test for this potentially deadly radio-active gas. The city’s health department is supporting the EPA’s efforts by offering a limited number of radon test kits free-of-charge to Middletown residents during the month of January.

Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in the soil. When emitted into the open air, radon is rendered virtually harmless. However, when it becomes trapped in an enclosed structure such as a house, radon can accumulate to dangerous levels.

Prolonged exposure to a high level of radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers in this country. The EPA estimates that radon causes more than 20,000 Americans to die from lung cancer each year. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If you smoke, and your home has an elevated radon level, your risk of lung cancer may be higher.

One out of every fifteen homes in the United States has an elevated level of radon. Your neighbor’s house may not have a radon problem, but you might.

The only sure way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test for it. Testing is relatively simple and fixing a problem is usually no more expensive than some common home repairs.                                                          
Often times, sealing any cracks or openings in your home’s basement floors or foundation walls may resolve the issue. In more extensive cases, it may mean hiring a contractor to install a ventilation system. The Connecticut Department of Public Health provides a list of radon mitigation contractors on their website: www.ct.gov/dph/radon.

50 radon test kits will be available for free on a first-come, first-served basis. Limit one kit per person, per residence. Proof of residency will be required. City residents can get pick up a free radon test kit at the Middletown Health Department in the lower level of the Municipal Building during normal business hours.

For more information on radon, call (860) 344-3482 or visit the EPA’s website at

                                                                     


Christmas Tree Recycling

From the Middletown Department of Public Works


Mayor Sebastian Giuliano announced that the City of Middletown's Christmas Tree
Collection and Recycling Program will commence on Monday, January 3, 2011, weather
permitting. This special recycling program is being provided to City residents as part of the City's overall effort to reduce waste and reuse and recycle discarded materials.
Christmas trees can either be brought to the City Recycling Center for recycling or placed at the curb for collection by the Middletown Public Works Department. Trees placed at the curb must
be prepared accordingly:
1. All decorations must be removed, including tinsel.
2. Plastic bags must also be removed.
3. Trees should be placed butt ends facing the curb.
4. Trees must be placed at the curb by January 3, 2010.
The collection schedule will depend upon weather conditions. Heavy snow will delay collection of the trees.   Tree collection will end on Jan. 24, 2010.

Trees delivered directly to the Recycling Center must also have all decorations removed and be emptied from plastic bags. A residence pass must be acquired to enter the Recycling Center. This sticker can be obtained from the Department of Public Works in the Municipal Building.   The vehicle registration of the vehicle you’ll be using must be presented when obtaining a permit.  There is no charge to bring trees to the Recycling Center.

Christmas trees are chipped along with regular brush from residents and the chips are given away free of charge to Middletown residents and businesses.  Large loads of woodchips (more than five cubic yards) are delivered to residents free of charge.

For more information on Christmas tree recycling or woodchip delivery, contact the Middletown Recycling Coordinator at 344-3526 or email Kim O’Rourke at kim.orourke@cityofmiddletown.com.

 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Conceptual Design For Senior Center To Be Reviewed Wednesday


There will be a special meeting of the Design Review and Preservation Board tomorrow evening (Wednesday, December 28, 6PM, Room 208), to discuss the plans for renovations to the Eckersley Hall School Building. Eckersley Hall, on Durant Terrace behind Illiano's Pizza on South Main, was built as a public elementary school after World War I, and used most recently by Saint Sebastian's Church as a private school. The Common Council voted to purchase the building from Saint Sebastian for $800,000 for use as a Senior Center and Municipal offices.

The architectural firm Quisenberry Acari has created conceptual plans for the conversion. The Planning Department has posted on its web site a Site Plan Map, a Floor Plan and Elevation Rendering, and 3D views of the exterior.

The largest proposed change to the exterior is the addition of large structure on the south end to re-orient the building by creating a new main entrance, to house stairs, and most importantly to house an elevator for handicapped access. Thus, instead of a building which is symmetrical and entered from the long side with many windows at ground level, people will enter towards the end of the building in an addition with no windows at ground level. The architects have echoed the original on the elevator addition, but the addition de-emphasizes the Dutch Fa├žade which now symmetrically bookends the school building.

According to the Planning Department web site,
Middletown's Design Review and Preservation Board was set up by Ordinance, section 26-10 in 1998, to act in an advisory capacity to the Planning and Zoning Committee. ...
The board's goal is not to get in the way of improving Middletown, but rather preserve and promote the character and heritage of our neighborhoods and business areas.
[emphasis mine]


The Design and Review Board reviews signs on all of the city's commercial corridors, and significant changes to properties in the downtown and village districts. Additionally, they are charged with reviewing any significant changes to properties of historic significance. The Eckersley Hall building is on the Greater Middletown Preservation Trust's Inventory of Historical and Architectural Resources, and thus any changes must be reviewed by DRPB.

According to city guidelines the DRPB refers to the National Department of the Interior Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. These include the following statement:
Finally, alterations and new construction needed to meet accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 should be designed to minimize material loss and visual change to a historic building.
The City's summary of those guidelines also include the following:
New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.
Another sentence in the City's guidelines speaks to the importance of preserving historically significant artwork, such as the mural painted by WPA artist Albert McCutcheon during the Depression:
Significant archaeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.

After review by the DRPB, the project next goes to the Planning and Zoning Commission. They have scheduled a Public Hearing for this at their January 12th meeting (7PM, Council Chambers).

Monday, December 27, 2010

How To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient


The Jonah Center for Earth and Art and the city of Middletown’s Clean Energy Task Force join in presenting home energy specialist John Greeno, President of New England Conservation Services, on “How To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient” on Tuesday, January 18 at 7 p.m. at First Church of Christ, Congregational, 190 Court Street, in Middletown.

Residents (homeowners and renters) will learn about the most common ways their homes lose heat and waste electricity, and how these problems can be addressed at little or no expense. Topics to be covered include air leaks around chimneys and pipes, insulation in attics and above basement walls, door sweeps, water heaters, hidden energy wasters, and more. There will be a slideshow instructive for do-it-yourself homeowners, and time for questions and answers.

The goal of the presentation is to encourage Connecticut residents to take advantage of a program, “Home Energy Solutions” (HES) for which they have already paid. Millions of dollars are collected in monthly bills from electric and natural gas customers for energy conservation programs directed by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund and administered by Connecticut Light & Power.

Trained technicians go to a home and set up a door-fan to slowly pull air from within the house. This lower pressure inside exaggerates all the drafts, so the leaks can be sealed up right on the spot, using insulating foam, caulk, and weather stripping. HES services may also seal leaky ducts, install energy efficient lighting, provide incentives and rebates for insulation, heating and cooling systems, appliances and more for eligible customers.

For a payment of $75 (subject to change, based on funding) customers receive an average of $750 worth of energy-efficiency upgrades. There are no extra charges or obligations. For every residence that the Jonah Center recruits for these services, New England Conservation Services makes a donation to support the Jonah Center’s work in environmental sustainability. The City of Middletown is recognized by the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund as a Clean Energy Community and this presentation fits into the city's efforts to save residents money by becoming more energy aware and efficient.

For more information, contact John Hall (Jonah Center) at 860-346-6657 ext. 13 or Jennifer Weymouth (City of Middletown) at 860- 912 6690.

Bank Robbery Suspect Apprehended

From the Middletown Police
----------------------
On December 23, 2010, members of the Middletown Police Department’s Patrol and Investigative Services Divisions responded to Wachovia Bank on 111 Washington Street for a reported bank robbery. The suspect presented a note demanding money. No weapon was displayed, no one was injured during the robbery and the suspect fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The suspect was described as a black male approximately 5’8” with a stocky build, approximately 40 – 50 years in age. Video surveillance from the bank was released to the press. Minutes after the 10:00 pm news, the Middletown Police Department began receiving phone calls from callers identifying the suspect.

On December 24, 2010, the Middletown Police Department’s Major Investigation’s Unit secured an arrest warrant for Mark Miller (age 44) of Middletown Connecticut. Miller was apprehended by the New York, New Jersey Port Authority Police. Miller is currently in custody in New York awaiting extradition to Middletown Connecticut.

The Middletown Major Investigations Unit is extending their appreciation to the public for their assistance in identifying the suspect.

A Blank Page

A weak sun pierced the clouds early this morning as the blizzard which paralyzed the state began to blow its last blasts of wind and snow.  Few vehicles traversed the roadways, which thanks to all-night plowing were clear, and according to some Middletown police officers on breakfast break at Ford News, it meant that there have been very few accidents reported in town overnight.  In addition, all state workers are on a mandatory furlough day today, and all city worker, except for essential emergency workers, have the day off because of the weather.


At Klekolo World Coffee Fred Carroll, one of two brave souls in the cafe, pointed out his latest editorial cartoon, a reflection on the holiday and on the weather.




Sunday, December 26, 2010

SNOW BAN IN EFFECT

The City of Middletown has a snow ban in effect beginning noon today, December 26th until further notice. This means that you are not allowed to use on-street parking until the ban is lifted.

Please remember, if your car is preventing the snow plows from properly cleaning the street, it will be ticketed and could be towed.

Also, as a reminder, city ordinance requires you to shovel any sidewalk in front of your property no later than 24 hours after a snowfall. Please be considerate of your neighbors and shovel and/or salt your sidewalk.

If you need off-street parking, you may park at the following municipal parking lots: Corner of Washington/Broad St.(behind Kid City), Broad Street (across from Russell Library), Melilli Plaza (behind Main Street Market).

The City policy states that: "Parked vehicles of City streets must be removed by 12:00 pm. or run the risk of being towed by the Middletown Police at the owner's expense. If a vehicle is towed during the parking ban, you may claim the vehicle by contacting the Middletown Police Deparment at 347-6941. All payments, i.e., the ticket and towing chare, must be paid at the Police Department before a vehicle is released."
Thank You.

From 1865: Middletown News


The following article is from about 145 years ago, published on December 20, 1865 in the Hartford Courant. The byline was “From our Regular Correspondent.” “Carte de visites” are mentioned as a possible Christmas present. These were 2 ⅛ by 3 ½ inch photos (albumin prints) mounted on a thicker card. They were very popular during the Civil War (an example is to the right).
----------------------
At the adjourned city school district meetng held last evening at the Town Hall, the secretary of the board, Dr. Burke, read a report of the joint committee appointed to confer with the Hon. B. Douglas, in regard to exchange of lots for the William street school, stating that the exchange could be made, and recommending the building of a new school house on the new site. A district meeting has been called for next Tuesday evening, to take such measures as may be necessary for the erection of a suitable building; to authorize the board of education to make the exchange of lots, and to lay a tax for the purpose of defraying the expenses of the same.

I trust none of the readers of your paper here will forget the Coker concert to be given on Thursday evening of next week. Coker is one of the most wonderful of singers, and this will be the only opportunity ever given the Middletown people to hear him. He will be assisted by some of the best talent in the country. Let us give him a full house.

The Glass Blowers opened at McDonough Hall last evening.

A society meeting of the South Congregational church was held at their lecture-room last evening. The committee appointed to raise funds for building a new church, reported progress. Between $15,000 and $20,000 has been already subscribed, and there is no doubt of the success of the project.

People are busy selecting their Christmas presents. Among those who offer the greatest and best varieties, I would mention in dry goods, James H. Bunce and T.F. Mitchell; books and statoinery [sic] , Bradley & Treadwell and E. Rockwell; toys, confectionary, etc., C.E. Putnam and T.D. Marvin; toilet articles, perfumery, etc., L.C. Vinal, H. Woodward, and Collins & Pelton; clothing, D.R. Benham; gentlemen’s furnishing goods, Ward & Rutty, S. Stearns & Sons; pianos, A. Putnam and M.T. Landfear; carte de visites, Burrows & Bundy; jewelry, watches, etc., H.D. Hall and John D. Smith; crockery and glassware, E.&F. Chafee and Wm. A. Hedges; furniture, E.F. Sheldon; taxes, Cornelius Braineril, Leverett Dimock and Michael Conlan--and those who want to do their friends a kindness can accomplish their purpose by paying their tax bill to either of these gentlemen.

A daughter of Mr. Nelson E. Mack, aged about seven years, was so badly burned on Friday last by her clothes taking fire from a stove, that she died Sunday morning, after suffering intense agony. Her clothes were burned entirely off.

The Middlesex County National Bank, and First National Bank, have each declared dividends, the former 5 and the latter 4 per cent., payable Jan. 3d.

Rev. Francis Vinton, D.D., will deliver a lecture at McDonough Hall on Thursday evening, Dec. 21st, before the Young Men’s Christian Association. Dr. Vinton is one of the ablest speakers in the country. A full house should greet him.

CIVIS.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Afternoon, On Miller's Pond



Christmas Eve North and South

Christmas Eve was celebrated all over Middletown, but two notable celebrations were the annual Christmas Eve dinner at the Coughlin-Lastrina Funeral Home on High Street in the North End, hosted by Sebastian Lastrina, and the Christmas Eve Service in the Daniel's big barn on Millbrook Road, hosted by First Church.

Lastrina, with the help of dozens of volunteers, treated hundreds of area residents to a free, home-made Christmas Eve dinner.

At the barn service, every hale bay "pew" was packed as the service was held among the horse stalls, snorting horses, a barn cat, and a visiting dog. 


                                                                                                          

Friday, December 24, 2010

Mercy, Xavier Student Serve Lunch at Salvation Army Soup Kithcen

Serving at an 'Out-of-the Cold' luncheon at the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen, these 'future Rotarians' understand the true meaning of giving during the holiday season.
 
Pictured from left are: Graham Gates, of Xavier High School in Middletown; Jake Sapia of Strong Middle School, Durham; Rotarian, Dr. Michele Imossi of Kensington; Angela Barbagallo of Thomas Edison Middle School in Meriden; Rotarians, Victor and Elizabeth Fumiatti of Bristol; India Gates of Mercy High School in Middletown; Luke Wininger of Griswold Middle School in Berlin; and Casandra Sapia of John Lyman Elementary School in Middlefield.

Charton Landslide Report Faults Weather, Poor Property Maintenance


A report on the March 30 landslide at 106-108 and 118 Newfield Street, the Charton Apartments, issued by the city's Department of Planning, Conservation and Development cites substantial rainfall and "poor property maintenance practices," as the cause for the landslide and subsequent blocking of the main channel of the Coginchaug River.

While the report notes that all legal requirements and permits were followed in the construction of the apartments, that subsequent illegal filling and grading were a factor in the landslide.  According to the report, "the City issued a notice of violation letter to Ted Charton on September 17, 2007 for filling and excavating and/or grading occurring within 100 feet of an upland review area. The filling activity at the site was likely not properly seeded or reinforced to prevent erosion."

The report also notes that there is at least one other city site, on George Street where steep slopes, poor drainage and clear cutting of land for construction have already resulted in problems.

The report suggests steps to create new regulatory language to prevent future occurences.

The city is planning to cut a new channel for the Coginchaug to prevent flooding in Veteran's Park.  The new channel will cut across the edge of the property of a veterinarian, Michael Brothers, on the other side of the river at the end of Berlin Street.  Brothers said nobody from the city had spoken to him about cutting a channel in his land but that he was unconcerned about it.  


Full report here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bank Robbery at Wachovia Bank, Washington Street

On Thursday, December 23, 2010, Middletown Police Officers were dispatched to 111 Washington St, Wachovia Bank.  It was reported that a bank robbery had just occurred.  The bank robbery suspect presented a note to the teller demanding money. No weapon was displayed and no one was injured.  The suspect fled on foot west on Washington St and at this point has not been located.

The suspect is described as:
Black male
5’8’
40-50 years of age
Medium to heavy build
Low afro
Wearing black sweatshirt or sweater (he may have changed clothes)

If anyone has any information regarding the suspect please contact the Middletown Police Department at (860)344-3200

Press Reports Drew to Be Appointed To Council

Confirmation of speculation printed on the Eye the evening Vinnie Loffredo resigned is confirmed by the Middletown Press today.  Dan Drew, who is an exploratory candidate for mayor, will fill Loffredo's vacant seat.

Wikileaks Releases Cable Showing French Concern For Kleen Energy Victims

The French Environment Minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, expressed his condolences for the loss of life in the explosion at the Kleen Energy Power plant, passing a letter on behalf of the French people to United States Ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin. This is revealed in a cable classified by the Ambassador as Confidential, but obtained by WikiLeaks and released earlier this month.

The cable was sent on February 10, 3 days after the explosion. Most of the cable discussed France's perspective on international climate negotiations, Borloo telling Rivkin that "the key to advancing climate negotiations is to drop the notion of a legally binding treaty in favor of a system of national commitments."

The last paragraph of the cable is about the Kleen Energy victims:
Borloo also passed a letter from himself, on behalf of the French people, to Secretary of Energy Chu expressing condolences for the loss of life at the Kleen Energy Power plant in Middletown, Connecticut, and expressing his wish that those injured in the explosion recover quickly. The Embassy has faxed the letter to the Department of Energy.

The paragraphs on climate negotiations are marked (C) and the paragraph on Kleen is marked (U), I hope and presume that this means the condolences paragraph was marked unclassified and shared more widely, but it is not clear why it was included in a cable which would would not become Declassified until 2019.

The full cable can be found HERE; there are several different search engines available, I typed "Middletown" into one called LeakySearch.

E-Waste Ban Begins in New Year

From the City Recycling Coordinator




According to the State E-waste Law, starting January 1, 2011 Covered Electronic Devices will be banned from CT solid waste facilities.  This includes computers, printers, televisions and monitors.  These items MUST be segregated from regular garbage and recycled.  These items will be rejected at Connecticut solid waste facilities.

In Middletown, residents can bring these items to the Middletown Recycling Center for proper recycling.  There is no charge for recycling them.  The Recycling Center is located on the corner of Johnson St. and North Main St and is open Monday – Friday 7am – 3pm and the first and third Saturday of the month 7am – 12 noon.  A residence pass must be obtained from the Department of Public Works to use the Recycling Center.  Bring in the vehicle registration of the vehicle to be used and a pass can be obtained at no charge.

In accordance with the state law, only residential items are allowed at the Recycling Center and residents can bring in no more than seven items at a time.  

For more information on ewaste recycling in Connecticut, go to the DEP Bureau of Waste Management website, http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?A=2714&Q=397852.  For more information about recycling in Middletown, contact the City Recycling Coordinator, Kim O’Rourke, at 860-344-3526 or kim.orourke@cityofmiddletown.com

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Hours for Recycling Center and Garbage Pickup


From the Middletown Public Works Department

The Middletown Recycling Center will be open Thursday December 23 from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm and Friday December 24 from 7:00 am to 12:00 noon.  It will be closed Saturday December 25.

The Sanitation District will operate normal hours on Thursday December 23rd.  On Friday, December 24 it will only collect garbage from Friday customers.  Garbage will be collected on Main Street on Friday.   Friday recycling routes will be collected on Monday, December 27th.  There will be no garbage or recycling collection on Saturday December 25. 

Questions can be directed to the Public Works Department at 860-344-3407.  The Public Works Administrative office will be closed Friday December 24th.


Superintendent Delivers Budget to Board of Education

Superintendent of Schools Michael Frechette delivered the proposed 2011-2012 school budget to the Board of Education Tuesday.

Frechette prefaced his delivery of the budget with remarks about the progress the district has made in the past two years.  He indicated that Middletown had been on a list of fifteen school districts in Connecticut which were at risk of failing.

"We are the only  of 15 districts on the list who have made it to safe harbor," Frechette said.

He also indicated that Middletown schools have achieved adequate yearly progress, and that all subgroups had achieved the same.

However, he warned that the dispute with the city of Middletown had taken it's toll.

"The distractions of the last eight months have distracted from our progress," Frechette said.

Frechette indicated that it was important to stress progress in the schools to remind taxpayers that money was well spent.

"I have to say it because once we get into this budget season, some people will forget," Frechette said.  "We're a showcase district in the state, and nationally, and we've done it with a zero budget."

The actual review of the budget was brief with Frechette pointing out obvious increases, and explaining that most of those were contractual, or in the case of fuel purchase, are a result of previous expenditures lowering this year's cost.

Frechette warned that the problems with the state budget was always a potential threat to ECS funding.

"Everything I've heard and everything I've read is that the ECS money will be flat-budgeted," Frechette said.  "We could get a flattened ECS and still get a $4 million shortfall."

Frechette offered to answer questions, but asked the Board of Education members to review the budget carefully and to prepare questions for the next Board meeting on January 11.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SRO's Back In Middletown High School

The Middletown Board or Education voted unanimously to resurrect the Student Resource Officer program at Middletown High School beginning Jan. 3.  The program will run under strict guidelines developed by Acting Police Chief Patrick McMahon and Board of Education representative William Grady.  It was also vetted and approved by School Superintendent Michael Frechette and MHS principal Bob Fontaine.

SRO's will not, for now, return to Woodrow Wilson Middle School or Keigwin.  If the program is successful again in the High School, as is expected by both parties, it will be extended into those schools.

For now, two of the three trained officers will be assigned to Middletown High School.

Salvation Army Distributes Toys To Families

Individuals, organizations and churches donated food, and funds to pay for supermarket gift cards distributed Tuesday by the Salvation Army to families in need.

And the line was long at 10 a.m. as those who had signed up for a black plastic bag full of holiday presents, snaked into the Salvation Army headquarters on Main Street.

An annual event, this year the Salvation distributed gifts and food to 240 families.

New Method of Food Donation at Amazing Grace Food Pantry

From the Amazing Grace Food Pantry
 
We hope you are enjoying this holiday season.  The greater Middletown community has been very generous to our shoppers at Amazing Grace and the storeroom shelves are literally packed with food - tangible evidence of all those who care about their neighbors in need.  We are extremely grateful for this outpouring of support - and grateful that we finally have room to store all of it. 

Don't be fooled, though!  If past history repeats itself, those same shelves will be almost bare in late February and through the spring until the May Postal Food Drive and bare again in the summer into the fall until the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.   Giving away more than 25,000 food items each month quickly depletes that abundance of food.  

If you haven't had a chance to visit our new home at 16 Stack Street, we hope you will be able to do so in the new year.  It is a terrific, cheerful space which allows us to better serve our shoppers.  When you make a food delivery to the back door, be sure to ask our volunteers to give you a tour of the whole space; we want you to see what our extraordinary community has made possible. 

We also want to let you know about an upcoming change at the pantry which we hope will make dropping off food donations much easier for you.  Now that we have enough space, we have purchased a scale to weigh bags and boxes of food as they are delivered.  We understand that this is the way all other pantries in the state keep track of food donated, so it's probably about time that we did so too!   We hope to have the scale installed and ready for service by January 1. 

Attached is an updated FOOD DONATION FORM which gives you space to list items, but only if you wish to do so and want those numbers for your own internal use.  We will not use those numbers at the pantry.  We will only use POUNDS which will be weighed by one of our volunteers.   Just complete the top part of the form (date, name of person or organization, name of person dropping off the food) and then the bottom address section if you want an acknowledgement.  Our volunteers will weigh your delivery and enter the number of pounds on your form.  Beginning in January 2011 we'll report back to you - on a periodic or year-end basis -  only in pounds.  Year-end acknowledgments for 2010 will still be in number of items.

Apologies for the short notice on this change.  We just weren't sure when we would have the scale up and running but now our target date is January 1.  If you would like to have an idea of how much a certain number of items actually weighs, just count the items and ask our volunteers to tell you how much that number weighs ( e.g., 50 cans of tuna = ??? pounds). 

Heartfelt thanks to all for a very memorable year here at Amazing Grace and our very best wishes to you for a happy and healthy new year.

-the staff and volunteers at Amazing Grace
 
AMAZING GRACE FOOD PANTRY, 16 Stack Street, Middletown, CT
a program of St. Vincent De Paul Middletown                                                           

FOOD DONATION INFORMATION

__________________                                                     ****_________________POUNDS****
Date                                                                                                to be weighed by Amazing Grace volunteers

____________________________________________________
Name of Organization or Institution or Person or Family donating the food

________________________________________________                        _______________________
Name of person delivering the food described below                                    Phone Number

_________________________________________________
E-mail address

            _______ Check here if this donation is part of your regular monthly commitment through
                                    the Families Feeding Families food donation program

            _______ Check here if this donation is a periodic or one time donation.
                                                                                                                       
ITEMS DONATED 
(Complete this section only if you need it for your own use.  Beginning Jan. 1, 2011 Amazing Grace will no longer count items but will weigh all food deliveries and use POUNDS to keep track of all donations.)                                               

__________ Cereal                                                                                          _________ Peanut Butter

__________ Tuna Fish                                                                                          _________ Canned Fruit or Vegetables

__________ Pasta                                                                                                            _________ Beans

__________ Pasta Sauce                                                                                          _________ Rice

__________ Soup

Other items:__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Number of bags______ and/or boxes_______.
************************************************************************************************************
If you would like a written acknowledgement of your donation, please provide the following information (unless listed above):
           
            Organization/Institution/Person_______________________________________________
                         
            Contact person’s name______________________________________________________

            E-Mail address_____________________________________________________________

            Street___________________________________________________________________

            City ____________________________________________Zip____________________
                                   
NOTE: If you participate in the monthly Families Feeding Families program, you will receive a yearly report of your donation totals instead of a monthly thank you note.   If you would like additional information, please let us know.

                                                THANK YOU!!!

AG/FFFFoodDonationFormDec10.doc                  FOR OFFICE USE:  ________Acknowledgement sent                          _________FFF info sent                  ___________Posted to donor records