Tuesday, December 10, 2019

2019, First Church Candlelight Christmas Concert, SUNDAY, Dec. 15

Annual Candlelight Christmas
Concert a
t First Church
on Court Street

Sunday, December 15, 4 pm

You are invited to the Annual Candlelight Christmas Concert at First Church on Sunday, December 15, at 4 pm. Relax in the quiet of the sanctuary as our choirs sing carols and anthems of the season. Join in congregational singing of familiar favorite hymns. It's a great time to decompress from the holiday hustle and enjoy the stillness of the moment.
Our beautiful stained-glass window.
First Church Senior Choir, Celebration Singers, and Heart in Hand Bell Choir are directed by Music Minister Shari Lucas, with Court Street Singers men's choir, led by Curt Weybright. Our pastor, Rev. Julia Burkey, will lead worship.

First Church is located at 190 Court Street in Middletown, a half block from Main Street. The congregation is an open and affirming (O&A) all are welcome.   

Free parking is available nearby. The concert is free; offerings are appreciated. And a generous buffet reception follows the concert. 

For more information, please contact our church office manager at 860-346-6657 or at firstchurch@sbcglobal.net.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Protest, Plays and Planetary Paths

Protest, Plays and Planetary Paths

Calling Climate Activists, Artists and Everyone who can Imagine a Healthy Planetary Future!

ARTFARM and Oddfellows Playhouse invite you to join us for "Protest, Plays and Planetary Paths" on Saturday, December 7 at 3 pm.
The event will begin with a short demonstration/performance at 3 pm on the corner of Washington and Main Streets in Middletown. From there we will walk up the hill a short distance to Oddfellows Playhouse, where we will present staged readings of a few short Climate Action plays and some other examples of activism as performance.
Finally, we'll break into smaller groups for a short brainstorming session about creative activism toward real change on a local and global level.

"Protest, Plays and Planetary Paths" was inspired by a national initiative called "Climate Change Theater Action". For this dozens of theaters across the country are producing plays and creating actions to educate and provoke the population about climate change. The presentation is timed to coincide with the current UN Climate Change Summit in Madrid, and is the day after the National Climate Strike.
The event is free.

For more information, or to help making signs and other props for the Main Street demonstration, contact info@art-farm.org, or call (860) 346-4390.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Middletown High to Expand Academic Offerings for "New Collar" Careers

Middletown, Connecticut, December 2, 2019    No-College-Debt and high paying salaries is music to a parent’s ears… and it should be.  Middletown Public Schools (MPS) is leading the way in Connecticut by founding a new Aerospace & Advanced Manufacturing program aimed at providing students with high-tech, employable skills in ‘new collar’ careers needed RIGHT NOW in Connecticut.  “We are Middletown, home of the Pratt & Whitney Engine Factory, Aerospace and Manufacturing is who we are,” says Paul Pelletier, Aerospace and Manufacturing Instructor. 
Beginning fall of 2020 Middletown High School will add two survey courses in Aerospace & Advanced Manufacturing to its Career and Technical Education (CTE) offerings. Students will be able to earn college credit and industry certifications, as well as touring industry partner facilities, attending summer intensives, and learning about career opportunities in the region.
On Friday, December 6, 2019, as a precursor to the launch of the Aerospace & Advanced Manufacturing program, all 300 eighth grade students from Woodrow Wilson Middle School will have the chance to experience a Robinson R44 helicopter ‘up close and personal’ on the field opposite the school beginning at 9am. The Robinson R44 is the most manufactured helicopter in the world today.  Its mission ranges from law enforcement, to news media, executive transportation, agriculture, tours, and rescue. On hand to answer questions will be Tom Barclay, Director of Maintenance for Lifestar (30 years, RET), Dan Colt, Assistant Chief Pilot, Northeast Helicopters, Katelyn Gardiner, Civil Air Patrol Cadet, and Paul Pelletier, Aerospace and Manufacturing Instructor, Middletown High School. The helicopter represents the opportunities afforded by the aerospace industry, literally the sky’s the limit for students willing to invest their time and energy in the field.
David Reynolds, Coordinator of CTE at MPS noted, “There is such a need in Connecticut in aerospace that many companies will pay for college for motivated employees that want to work in their high-tech facilities.  These businesses are flush with high-tech gadgetry that is fun and interesting to students.  It is a Win-Win.”
Richard Aboulafia, Vice President of Analysis at Teal Group and keynote speaker at the November 20, 2019 Aerospace Components Manufacturers Association trade show noted, “There is absolutely no place in this business for anything that’s not ...high skill or high wage.
The new initiative ties directly to Middletown Public Schools’ Strategic Operating Plan: Middletown 2021 Keys to Innovation and Equity, Unlocking the Potential of ALL Students, that outlines the district’s collective journey focused on preparing students for the competitive global market of the 21st century and strives to position itself as the most progressive education enterprise in the state.
Dr. Michael T. Conner, Superintendent, Middletown Public Schools stated, “One of our district strategies emanating from the Strategic Operating Plan is to establish successful education models that promote choice and achievement through innovation. The new Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing program is a teacher and administrator driven initiative that will position our students for success in the marketplace and in life. I applaud their efforts in launching this landmark initiative.”
For inquiries regarding this initiative please contact The Office of the Superintendent, Middletown Public Schools, 860.638.1422.

Wadsworth Mansion Holiday Bazaar Sunday

The Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate is hosting their annual Holiday Bazaar on Sunday December 8th, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m. at 421 Wadsworth Street.  Admission is $2.00.

Twenty seven vendors who sell at the August Open Air Market will be selling their handmade products.  Mariano’s Bakery will be selling their delicious gingerbread men and a variety of baked goods. Backyard Berries will be selling their award winning jams. 

To prepare for winter, Woolen it be Nice will be selling their felted products and luxurious gloves and hats. Baah Boots will be selling their handmade boots from natural wools, and Sugar Maple Farms will be selling locally sourced maple syrup and honey. Several jewelers will be tempting shoppers with silver, gold, crystals, and gemstones.

The Middletown Garden Club will be selling holiday greenery and wreaths, and the Wadsworth Mansion will be offering a 24k gold plated ornament depicting the front elevation of the building.  Additional offerings include homemade pastries, pottery, and handbags.

If you are looking for a lovely respite David Alan Catering will be serving lunch in the lounge.  For a complete listing of vendors, visit www.wadsworthmansion.com.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Race, Racism, and the Criminal Justice System: A Discussion Co-sponsored by Police Department and Community Health Center

New Decade, New You at MxCC

It’s not just a new year but also a new decade! Begin a new you at Middlesex Community College. The Spring 2020 semester begins on January 22.

Choose from more than 70 degree and certificate programs to advance your education and career. Visit our website at mxcc.edu/spring to learn about upcoming open registration dates in Middletown (100 Training Hill Road) or at MxCC@Platt in Meriden (220 Coe Avenue).

December 5 (Thursday)
Open Registration, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. (Test 9 a.m., walk-ins until 4 p.m.)

December 7 (Saturday)
Enrollment Saturday, 9 a.m.–2 p.m., and Accepted Students, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. (Test 9 a.m., walk-ins until 11 a.m.)

December 12 (Thursday)
Open Registration MxCC@Platt (Meriden), 3–7 p.m.; (Test 3 p.m.)

December 16 (Monday)
Open Registration, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. (Test 9 a.m., walk-ins until 4 p.m.)

Questions? Please call Enrollment Services at 860-343-5719.

OPINION: Why is the Police Chief moving out of town?

By Jennifer Mahr, Chair of the Westfield Residents Association
On the agenda for tonight’s Common Council meeting is an ordinance to amend Section 74-31 (“Waiver of Residency Requirement”) of the City of Middletown Code of Ordinances. Section 74-31 amends Section 74-30, which requires 12 exempt, non-bargaining unit personal to become permanent residents of the City of Middletown as a condition of their employment as city employees.  The full ordinance reads as follows:

[Added 5-2-1994; amended 12-5-1994; 1-3-2000; 8-7-2006 by Ord. No. 18-06; 5-2-2013 by Ord. No. 11-13]

The following exempt, non-bargaining unit personnel, Police Chief, Deputy Police Chief(s), Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, Director of Health, Director of Public Works, Director of Water and Sewer, Director of Human Resources, General Counsel, Deputy General Counsel(s), Director of Parks and Recreation, Director of Finance and IT Coordinator, not having membership in any municipal union, are required to become permanent residents of the City of Middletown within one year of their appointment. Said residency requirement shall only affect individuals hired for those positions enumerated herein after the date of the adoption of this section. "Permanent residency" is hereby defined for the purpose of this section as being domiciled within the City of Middletown and actually residing within the City, and this requirement is not met by maintaining a mailing address or post office box within the City. The Common Council, by a two-thirds vote, may extend the compliance period not to exceed one year upon showing hardship. Failure of the appointed candidate to follow this section shall result in immediate termination.

The proposed ordinance under consideration at tonight’s meeting as Agenda item 12A reads as follows:

ORDINANCE: Approving an amendment of Section 74-31 (“Waiver of Residency Requirement”) of the City of Middletown Code of Ordinances, adding Paragraph E, waiving the residency requirement for Police Chief William McKenna.

Paragraphs A-D of the current Section 74-31 offer a glimpse into the four other times residency requirements have been waived, and all four examples were for new hires moving INTO Middletown, not out of it. Police Chief Brymer was allowed to stay living in Wethersfield, a deputy fire chief was given extended time past the one year requirement to move into Middletown, Fire Chief Ouellette was given extended time to move into Middletown, and Director of Human Resources Tokarz was allowed to stay living in Cromwell. 

So what gives? Why would it be a good idea for the long time Police Chief to move OUT of town?
Let’s consider the prevailing rumor: the Chief’s ailing mother lives in Old Saybrook and he needs to move there to take care of her. According to realtor.com, his house has been on the market for 43 days (as of 12/1).

When you consider the past exemptions, there is a striking difference between those and this one. First, all were new hires moving into Middletown. Second, two of the exemptions only offered additional time for the city employee to comply with the regulations. Third, the other two exemptions allowed employees to continue to live in their current, long time residences that were remarkably closer to Middletown than Old Saybrook. 

Let’s look at the timing: the Chief’s house went on the market BEFORE the results of the November 5th election were known. Why would that be if the ordinance clearly demands residency as a condition of employment? Why would this waiver be on the agenda the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, in the second month of a young and inexperienced Common Council?

Forget I even mentioned the last paragraph - let’s talk about the general concept of a Police Chief who lives more than half an hour away from the city he’s charged to take care of. Mayor Florshiem’s most outspoken campaign supporters (his treasurer as a specific example) made police accountability a major tenant of his campaign. Yet all of a sudden, it’s OK for the Chief to move out of town, leaving more than 120 sworn officers and staff to fend for themselves?

I’m not being harsh: the Mayor and the Common Council are not charged with doing what’s right for Chief McKenna. They were elected to do what’s right for the 45,000+ residents of Middletown. It may be that the Chief’s personal family issues require him to be a caregiver, and all of us can understand that. However, he’s not Joe average citizen, and there are serious reasons why the Police Chief needs to live in Middletown.

If the Chief’s mother is ill enough that he needs to move to take care of her, his focus will not be on managing the department. There is no personal judgement here. He has not suddenly lost his management skills, he simply has a more important issue to consider. No one faults him for this decision.

However, it raises a most critical question: is it time to retire? He’s not asking to move to a neighboring city, he’s asking to move to another world. Connecticut is a small state, but the shoreline is a whole other world different from Middletown. He would be commuting with traffic on Route 9, not against it. This is a tough reality to add to the burden of taking care of an ailing parent.

From the perspective of the police department, an absent leader is not a good choice. I say this with specific personal knowledge of wearing a military uniform and being in a chain of command. What happens when a decision is made to not “bother” the Chief who lives far away and who is taking care of his sick mother? How is police accountability, transparency, and reliability enhanced by out-of-town supervision?

It’s not. This is not a good idea. The ordinance exists for a reason, and a new Mayor and new Common Council should not support this request. Middletown isn’t a sleepy bedroom community. It’s an urban center, surrounded by far-reaching rural areas, that routinely experiences significant crimes. A distracted, out-of-town Police Chief does not make these issues go away.

Let’s pause and seriously consider our options. The Common Council should delay voting on this ordinance until the general public has an opportunity to comment and to make its will known.