Friday, December 31, 2010
Buttonwood Tree Kicks Off 20th Year
Milardo Extends New Year Greeting in MMPA Newsletter
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
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 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."
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
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Annual Financial Report Not Ready For Review
"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
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.
START THE NEW YEAR OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT ....ON ICE SKATES!!!!
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.
Lesser Assigned to Watchdog Committee
The committee has oversight of many areas, including reorganization of state government, ethics laws, the state Constitution and elections.
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
Christmas Tree Recycling
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 Façade 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
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
For more information, contact
Bank Robbery Suspect Apprehended
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
Sunday, December 26, 2010
SNOW BAN IN EFFECT
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."
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.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Christmas Eve North and South
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
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
Press Reports Drew to Be Appointed To Council
Wikileaks Releases Cable Showing French Concern For Kleen Energy Victims
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
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Holiday Hours for Recycling Center and Garbage Pickup
Superintendent Delivers Budget to Board of Education
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
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
An annual event, this year the Salvation distributed gifts and food to 240 families.