Sunday, October 31, 2010
Oddfellows Playhouse and WESU 88.1FM will haunt your Halloween with a LIVE performance and RADIO broadcast of Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater's War of the Worlds tonight @ 8:30 p.m.
On stage at:
128 Washington Street
On air at:
or listen on-line at www.wesufm.org
Directed by Oddfellows’ Producing Artistic Director Jeffrey Allen and featuring the voices of popular talent Richard Kamins, Virginia Wolf, Daniel Nischan and John Whalen, with the Sound Foley of Mick Bolduc, Oddfellows Playhouse and WESU 88.1 FM will provide listeners with a classic Halloween experience.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
A special thanks to the Wesleyan Frisbee Team, who came out in force to help McCarthy Park neighbors. If you ever want to watch some awesome frisbee action, come down to the park and watch these kids get horizontal! They practice several times a week.
Don't forget: Tomorrow is Halloween! (As if!) Kick off your fright-filled day with an afternoon of trick-or-treating at McCarthy Park. Join community members and enjoy spooky activities, gooey treats, refreshments, music, and much more! Show off your scariest costume and meet neighbors at Middletown’s largest downtown park. All ages welcome, and stay as long as you’d like! The Public Cultures Sociology class at Wesleyan University is hosting this event to celebrate Halloween, bring awareness to McCarthy Park, and promote a sense of community among Wesleyan students and the greater Middletown area.
Dates, Times and Locations:
- November 2: Durham Activity Center (second floor), 350 Main Street, Durham, 3:00-8:00 pm
- November 9: Coles Road Fire Station, 105 Coles Road, Cromwell, 3:00-8:00 pm
- November 16: City Hall Council Chamber, 245 Dekoven Drive Middletown, 3:00-8:00 pm
Must be over two years of age and in good health
No residency required
Limited vaccine supply
No appointment necessary: first-come, first-served
For more information, call (860) 344-3595
Sponsored by MDR (Mass Dispensing Area) Region 36:
(Towns of Cromwell, Durham, Haddam, Middlefield, and the City of Middletown)
Friday, October 29, 2010
The annual Halloween Parade, was sponsored by the Middletown Parks and Rec department and the Downtown Business District who provided a kickoff treat and a map to every group who stopped in Park and Rec offices on Riverview Plaza.
(Mayor Sebastian Giuliano with Twindiana Jones and the Killer Bee)
File Under Miscellaneous: Short Films at Green Street
Friday, October 29 | 7 pm
Suggest donation: $5
Explore the Native American/First Nation experience, past and present, from the perspective of two provocative filmmakers.
Join Green Street tonight at 7pm for the next event in this fascinating and informative series. Montreal-based writer and director Jeff Barnaby (Mi’kmaq) will discuss The Colony and his new film, File Under Miscellaneous, both of which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. File Under Miscellaneous received a warm reception at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and has been called “a dark SciFi gem” by critic Todd Brown. Barnaby’s psychological thrillers will make you reconsider stereotypes of what Native/First Nations art “should be.” In addition, there will be a screening of Bruce Curliss’ (Nipmuc) short film Survivor, which deals with the atrocities committed against the Nipmuc at Deer Island. On October 30, 1675, Native people from what is now South Natick were removed to Deer Island in Boston Harbor. Without adequate food, clothing, or shelter, the majority of the people—mostly women, children, and elders—perished.
Director Jeff Barnaby was recently interviewed by The Hartford Courant, click here to read the article.
(Viewers should note that The Colony and File Under Miscellaneous are not suitable for viewers under the age of 18 without parental accompaniment.)
Wadsworth Haunted Mansion Costume Bash - Friday, October 29, 2010, 8:00 PM - 12:00 AM
The mansion gets haunted with a Halloween Bash not to be missed! Show up in your favorite costume for dancing, food, cocktails, door prizes and more! Palm readings and portraits will also be available! This event is a fundraiser for the Conservation Fund of the Friends of Long Hill Estate which supports the work of the Wadsworth Mansion. It will be a ghoulish good time...don't miss it! Cash Bar. 21 Years or Older Only. Light Fare is included. Tickets are $35.
The Haunted Boathouse: A Night in the Asylum - Looking for spooky and fun time this Friday or Saturday (October 29-30) night from 6:00 to 11:00 pm? Come on down to Middletown's Harbor Park and take a tour of the Haunted Boathouse. Members of the Middletown High school crew team have transformed their boathouse into a creepy adventure, guaranteed to scare and delight teens and adults alike. The all-new production, A Night in the Asylum, was written, designed, and acted by the students themselves. A $5 donation helps benefit the crew team's operations and a nonperishable food donation is requested for the Amazing Grace food pantry in memory of MHS Alum Nora Miller. May not be suitable for younger children.
Kick off your Halloween with an afternoon of trick-or-treating at McCarthy Park. Join community members and enjoy spooky activities, gooey treats, refreshments, music, and much more! Show off your scariest costume and meet neighbors at Middletown’s largest downtown park. All ages welcome, and stay as long as you’d like! The Public Cultures Sociology class at Wesleyan University is hosting this event to celebrate Halloween, bring awareness to McCarthy Park, and promote a sense of community among Wesleyan students and the greater Middletown area.
You don't want to miss it! Several fantastic guest vendors are joining us--Crystal Pistritto with beautiful hula-hoops, Whey Better Farm with soothing soaps, and Tschudin Chocolates with dessert delicacies. Plus, First and Last Tavern will serve up their tasty, soul-warming chili, voted best in this year's Middletown chili cook-off! This week is also your last chance to use WIC and Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program checks before they expire.
We would like to thank everyone involved with the market--vendors, volunteers, musicians, and all the shoppers that took time out of their busy Fridays to stop by. It's been great to see the North End Farmers' Market become a popular Middletown shopping destination as well as a great place to gather with friends over lunch and live music. Have a warm and healthy winter--we'll be back next year!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2–4pm
McCarthy Park, Hotchkiss Street, Middletown, CT
Between High Street and Hotchkiss Street (off of Church Street)
Kick off your Halloween with an afternoon of trick-or-treating at McCarthy
Park. Join community members and enjoy spooky activities, gooey treats,
refreshments, music, and much more! Show off your scariest costume and meet
neighbors at Middletown’s largest downtown park. All ages welcome, and stay
as long as you’d like!
The Public Cultures Sociology class at Wesleyan University is hosting this event to celebrate Halloween, bring awareness to McCarthy Park, and promote a sense of community among Wesleyan students and the greater Middletown area.
Yesterday, while pursuing the same story, I interviewed Detective Derek Puorro, who is the police union president, and who attended the meeting. He said that only one officer, the Sargent-at-Arms, was ordered to attend the meeting.
"Everybody was there of their own free will," Puorro said. "Nobody was ordered to go."
As the Press story indicates, some of the officers at the meeting were "on the clock." Puorro contends that no members of the force were paid overtime while attending the meeting.
"Surely the chief would never authorized payment of overtime for attendance at the meeting," Puorro said.
Puorro noted that the police union as a body does not endorse, or offer negative opinions of chief candidates.
The accusation about police attendance at this meeting has been forwarded by three sources to the Middletown Eye, and is one of several "confidential" accusations that have surfaced since the Common Council meeting.
F&G approved the $6,500 expenditure for the study after questioning Hartley about a previous study.
"I don't want to pay for something we've already paid for," F&G member and Common Council member Gerry Daley said. "We paid for a study back in 2008. What did we pay for then, and what has changed?"
Hartley explained that the 2008 study provided information about needed repairs, such as resurfacing the roof and fixing leaks in the arcade (work that is currently underway), but that "it did not go into details of what we have to do in maintenance over the next five years."
The Common Council will have to vote to approve the expenditure for the study.
F&G also forwarded a request for $740,000 to complete citywide parking upgrades which will include metering, lighting, security and gates for all lots, and will allow for a rate structure which discounts parking in lots over parking on the street.
"It provides the opportunity for people to choose between convenience and value seeking," Hartley said.
The change in parking rates is designed, among other things, to encourage employees of Main Street businesses to park in long-term, off-street parking.
F&G Committee member Phil Pessina emphasized that some of that responsibility ought to be borne by business owners.
The Water Department requested a temporary shift in personnel which would unfreeze a frozen position and create a temporary position to allow the Water Department to anticipate staffing increases now that new wells at the Kleen Energy site are coming on line.
The two new wells, one owned by Kleen Energy, and one given to the city by Kleen Energy, will be staffed by Water Department personnel. Under the agreement, Kleen Energy will pay for all water pumped from either well.
Klattenberg Mum on Conservation Funding
(hed suggested by G. Daley)
F&G approved forwarding a training request for Public Works Department diesel mechanics, and asked that a certification training request by the IT department be forwarded to them by email for consideration. However another request for Recycling Coordinator Kim O'Rourke to renew membership with the Connecticut Recyclers coaliation was denied after a motion proposed by Daley failed to achieve a second. The $125 fee was denied because it did not lead to certification of any kind.
"We pride ourselves on being a leading community as regards environmental consciousness," Daley said, as he urged his colleagues to second his motion. He chided F&G committee chair Ron Klattenberg who is known in town as an environmental champion.
"I can't believe it...$125," Daley said as the motion was disregarded.
The Planning and Zoning Commission met for about 30 minutes on Wednesday evening. It approved a 2-family house to be built as a replacement for a previous 2-family house on Farm Hill Road , to be built by Jean Gullitta. Commissioner Catherine Johnson requested that the house be placed exactly according to the site plan, which put the house closest to the street, with a garage and parking in the rear.
Two high school students attended the meeting, fulfilling part of the requirement of Mr. Bardos' American Studies class. Shane Jacobs and Alex Dykas listened attentively throughout the meeting. When I asked them afterwards whether they were surprised by anything, they said, "It was quick."
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The letter, which was published by the Middletown Press today in an article detailing an ongoing war of words between Milardo and Democratic members of the Common Council, was sent by Palmer to an email list which included this blog, the Hartford Courant and at least one member of the Middletown Common Council, among dozens of others. The email list is one compiled by Milardo, and used to distribute his occasional MMPA Newsletter.
Milardo's name was not on the email list.
"I finally had a copy forwarded to me from someone who received it," Milardo said in a phone interview today.
The reprimand received wider distribution once it was emailed (the Middletown Eye had at least two copies forwarded), and was used as a basis for a critique published here and in the Middletown Press by Common Council member Hope Kasper.
Milardo received his official copy of the complaint today in the mail with a note from the post office that the letter was found floating loose amidst the mail.
"We're meeting Friday with Sharon Palmer at the AFT to discuss the matter," Milardo said. "I don't understand the basis for her letter. She's never been to Middletown to meet with our union. Much of what she accuses me of is wrong. And I don't understand why, as a union colleague, she didn't bother to call and check before she wrote the letter."
"We sent the letter based upon a complaint," Palmer said. She refused to name the complainant. "We sent the letter, and we called and left a message to tell him the letter was being sent."
When questioned why a letter of reprimand would have been distributed so widely before the person it was addressed to had seen its content, Palmer confirmed that she would be meeting with Milardo to discuss the matter on Friday.
"We do what we think is appropriate," Palmer said when asked if it was common practice to widely distribute a letter of reprimand to such a wide audience.
Michael Roth, President of Wesleyan, introduced Elie Wiesel to a rapt audience of 600 students, faculty, alumni, and community members on Tuesday evening in the Wesleyan Chapel. Speaking of Wiesel's life work against war, genocide, and hatred, Roth said, "He goes on telling the story, he goes on teaching, he goes on writing. Because he sees the work is not yet accomplished."
Wiesel is a Romanian born Jew who at the age of 15 was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp; his mother, father, and sister were murdered by the Nazis. Wiesel has spent his life since then as a journalist, educator, and prolific writer of fiction and non-fiction books. Wiesel is currently a professor of Humanities at Boston University.
In an interview prior to his address, Wiesel said that until 3 days ago he had been planning to speak on the more general topic of "Building an Ethical Society". He said that when he learned about the brutal murders in Cheshire, and the current sentencing phase of the trial of one of the men, he decided to speak about capital punishment as well.
While calling for the establishment of an ethical society and the abolishment of the death penalty, Wiesel acknowledged he could inadequately address the husband and father whose wife and daughters were murdered. In the interview, he said, "It would be almost obscene to plead [with the survivor] for morality." He said he could only ask, "Do you really think that capital punishment would bring her back to life?"
Wiesel wove a story of history, of himself, and of his vision for a moral society in a speech that enraptured the audience with wisdom and wit. The story telling and the wit are difficult to convey on the computer screen, but here are some of his comments.
One of the first stories of the Old Testament is about the murder of Abel by his brother Cain.
"It is the law which makes a society a moral or immoral society."
"Law should celebrate life."
"Death should never be the answer, not in a moral and civilized society."
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
A Report on the Oct. 25th Meeting on “The Intersection of Education and Juvenile Justice System” at First Church
From Elizabeth Bobrick
A panel discussion before an audience of about 50 sparked some heated responses last night at a meeting organized by Betsy Morgan of The Middlesex Coaltion for Children. The panel consisted of Abby Anderson, Executive Director of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, Hannah Benton, Esq., of the Center for Children’s Advocacy, Annie Hillman of Connecticut Voices for Children, Marta Koonz of One Caring Adult, and South Windsor Police Ofc. Caleb Lopez, representing the Connecticut School Resource Officer Association. Ofc. Lopez is an SRO in the South Windsor district.
Ms. Anderson said that the number of referrals of children into the system has “drastically increased” in the past decade although there was little to no data kept on the reasons for referral, which include “truism, absenteeism, and school-based arrests.”
Ms. Koonz spoke of the need for a change in “school climate,” which she defined as the atmosphere created by the way in which every member of the school community perceives and relates to one another. Changing school climate, she said, is more cost- and time effective than procedures for suspension or expulsion, and allows teachers to focus more on teaching rather than discipline.
Ms. Betton cited a Yale University study of prevention measures applied in the Bridgeport school system that showed significant academic gains in 6th to 8th graders when the school focused on prevention rather than suspension as a means of behavior modification. Children with learning disabilities require particular help with learning appropriate behavior in order not to be suspended, as many of them are.
Ms. Hillman said that more and more kindergartners were being suspended for behavior issues. Suspension, she said, prevents students from learning how to improve their behavior, especially at such a young age.
South Windsor Police Officer Lopez was the last to speak, and remarks were largely the focus of the evening’s discussion. He was asked to explain the role of a Security Resource Officer. He replied that an SRO was “a uniformed, sworn police officer whose task is to serve a school or group of schools.” SROs, he continued, ideally employ a “triad philosophy,” in which they are “one-third law enforcement officer, one-third teacher, and one-third counselor.” He said that he mediates disputes between students, counsels them individually, consults with parents, and gives them advice about keeping their kids safe. He does home visits and works with social service providers working with families. He added that “sometimes we have to put on our police hat only when everything else has been tried.” Nonetheless, he said that a police officer should not be the first responder to a disciplinary situation. When asked if SROs increase arrests because they are present in schools, he said that “some problems were there all along” and that police officers, “because of their training,” recognize when behavior has reached the point where police intervention is necessary. Ofc. Lopez acknowledged that SROs do not always function in the ideal way he described. He emphasized that his organization has trained officers who volunteer for unpaid, 48 hour training sessions in order to work as SROs. The number of officers who want to participate exceeds the number of programs available.
Ms. Betton noted that she had seldom seen the “ideal situation” that Ofc. Lopez presented. She sees a lack of communication between the schools and the police, and little training, guidance, and “unclear expectations” for SROs.
When the question and answer session opened, Maria Masden Holzberg asked for details about SRO training, and asked if Ofc. Lopez wore his gun to school. Ofc. Lopez, answered in detail about the training, and said that as a uniformed police officer, he was required to carry “the tools of my trade.” She noted that he was not allowed to carry his gun to every courtroom, but was still allowed to carry it in school.
Audience member Anthony Glenn asked if there were SROs in every community, and if not, why not. Ofc. Lopez replied that the town’s budget limitations could be a reason, as well as “perception that an armed officer does not belong in school.” Mr. Glenn then asked if Rocky Hill (a system without SROs) had different results in school suspensions and arrests. All panelists agreed that there was not enough data kept by schools to do comparative studies, and that what data there is was of dubious accuracy.
An audience member who left before this reporter could get her name was openly scornful of Ofc. Lopez’s ability to function with what she said was no training as an educator. “Do [SROs] even have a college degree?” she asked. Ofc. Lopez replied with information about his training and certification and requirements for recertification. Ms. Anderson had noted at the beginning of the meeting that there is “no requirement in Connecticut that teachers have training in classroom management,” although such training would reduce behavior problems.
Middletown child psychiatrist Paul Sadowitz asked Ofc. Lopez, “How have these three jobs of teacher, counselor, and law enforcement officer fallen on your shoulders? Why is the SRO doing all this work?” He said that the schools were “abdicating responsibility” by turning this work over to “the man in blue.”
Some audience members who spoke declined to give their names when asked. One spoke of statistics that showed most arrested and expelled students were minorities, and said that having more minority teachers and staff would improve school conditions for minority students. Another asked the panel for details about the nature of the interventions prescribed, but was answered mostly with generalities about the importance of intervention. One who left before this reporter could get her name said, “We need laws about parental involvement,” because unless parents hold responsibility, “the schools are some kind of shadow government.”
Larry Owen noted that the panel of “white women and a police officer” reflected what students see in school. Schools need to “stop all the programming,” he said, and hire more minority teachers. At the same time, however, he said he discouraged minority teachers of his acquaintance who lived in southern states from moving to Connecticut because “they don’t want you here.”
MHS principal Robert Fontaine was present, and stayed well after the meeting, talking with audience members, as did MHS Dean of Students Sheryl Gonzales, Justin Carbonella of Middletown Youth Services and BOE member Sheila Daniels. She was the sole member of the BOE present. None of the four spoke publicly.
When I contacted Ms. Daniels later, she told me that the BOE was working with various members of the school system’s administration to implement the kinds of changes recommended at the meeting. They had initiatives in place to recruit minority faculty and to reduce school suspension. The BOE had made “a concerted effort” that resulted in ongoing professional development with the goal of school climate change and training in classroom discipline methods. She agreed with the need for parental involvement, but noted that parents must join the process voluntarily. The BOE felt that the SRO should be the last responder to student behavior problems, not the first.
An earlier draft of this article said that it was the principal's decision whether or not to have an SRO in the building. That is the case in Hartford, but not in Middletown.
Register to vote at City Hall until 8PM tonight.
All of the candidates running to represent the Westfield portion of Middletown turned out to make one of their final public pitches for votes on Monday evening, at a candidates forum hosted by the Westfield Residents Association. About 40 residents heard them discuss issues quite similar to those being discussed in statewide races in Connecticut and elsewhere: creating jobs, balancing the budget, and the value of previous government service.
Monday, October 25, 2010
As good as Wesleyan's 4-0 record was, the fifth game changed the tenor of the season and the opinions of many. Wesleyan hadn't beaten Amherst at Pratt Field in 14 years. They were powerful and widely favored. Once the game started, however, Amherst's Homecoming crowd was subjected to a one-sided contest, a 28-13 Cardinal triumph, that prompted headlines such as, "Wesleyan upsets," "Wesleyan slams," and "Wesleyan stuns." The Wesleyan defense intercepted Amherst five times and recovered three fumbles. Panciera threw three touchdown passes and Revenaugh ran for 130 yards and caught two touchdown passes. In a season of unexpected events, the biggest game of the year was never in doubt, and Wesleyan was a very serious 5-0.
5:45 light dinner
First Church of Christ Congregational
190 Court St (between Main and Broad)
Note address: 190 -- NOT 90 -- Court St.
The Westfield Residents Association is hosting a candidates forum at its quarterly meeting tonight. This is a great occasion to meet the men and woman vying to represent most of Middletown in the State Capitol. All are welcome to attend the WRA quarterly meeting.
The candidates forum will begin at 7:30, after a brief WRA business meeting and a break for refreshments.Fellowship Hall3rd Congregational Church94 Miner Street(1 block from Westfield Fire Station on East Street)
- Paul Doyle
- Dom Mazzacoli
- Jim O'Rourke
- Christie Carpino
- Joe Serra
- David Bauer
- Matt Lesser
- John Szewczyk
There was general agreement among the candidates that in an era where a multi-billion dollar deficit is expected, that the state could not abandon its commitment to mental health services. All candidates also agreed with the forum sponsors that community-based mental health services offered by not-for-profit and non-state agencies often provided these services more effectively and efficiently.
These sentiments echoed the words of Keep the Promise leaders Eric Arzubi, Alicia Woodsby and Jan van Tassel.
"The emotional-behavioral health of our children is central to the future of our State," Arzubi said. "It affects school outcomes, physical health, the economy, drug and alcohol use, family life and public safety."
"We made promises as we moved people out of long term institutions," Malloy said. "And we didn't keep our promises. We have slowly starved those (not-for-profit) agencies who have provided those services. We've got to find a way through the budget crisis that does not do further harm to the safety net. And this is the safety net."
Marsh also agreed that keeping promises is at the heart of solving a problem which he characterizes as a government unwilling to make good on the words they legislate.
"It ends up in the hands of very financially-strapped municipalities to handle these problems," Marsh said, attacking the State Legislature for passing unfunded mandates which must be instituted by cities and school districts without state funding. "If the school environment is the right place to handle these services then lets keep the promise of funding."
Foley talked about being the primary caretake for a sister who was diagnosed as a young women with bipolar disorder and "spent 40 years in and out of institutions."
Foley acknowledged that the crippled economy and the large state deficit, which he said was significantly smaller than the $5.5 billion projected by candidate Marsh, will make finding a solution difficult.
"We're not going to solve the financial problem on the backs of the needy," Foley said. "And that includes children and mental health issues. My plan is to move more of these services into the community. They do a better job and cost less."
Prior to the governor candidate forum, leaders and guests of Keep the Promise emphasized that chronic underfunding has crippled the mental health system, particularly as services became sorced to community and not-for-profit organizations. These organizations, speakers noted, provide services for far less than state services, and yet faced initial underfunding, and five years of flat funding.
While the forum advertised that it would be addressing bullying as a mental-health issue, the topic was barely touched-upon by the candidates. Malloy indicated in his closing remarks that bullying was an important issue and that "we need to do something about it." Marsh indicated that the state's bullying law was another example of the legislature creating a law which had to be administered by already-strapped school systems.
"We're not talking about spending more money," vanTassel said. "But spending less money smarter."
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Hubbard Room, Russell Library
William Trousdale, Wesleyan Professor Emeritus of Physics, and Marvin Farbman, former Director of CT Legal Services, lead this seminar series. The first session on October 18th focused on global warming and a profile of energy use. The second meeting is Monday 25 October and will consider the history and future use of nuclear energy. The last session on Monday, November 8 will examine the pros and cons of solar power along with other energy choices.
I read Councilwoman Kaspers article hoping to hear something different from the democrats on the Common Council, and understand why they have turned into this vegful, self serving group of politial bullies, with only one aim: to force their decisions onto everyone else. I define 'everyone" as our local labor organizations, and the general public.
Ms. Kasper has now gone on attack mode, to protect herself, and her policial cronies. I will address her comments one by one.
Ms. Kasper states several times, I am Superintendent of Parks, and my wife is Director of Personnel. What's her point? I have been a city employee for 4 decades, and met my wife while working. I don't see that as a concern to anyone, just as Councilwoman Kasper doesn't and didn't see that as an issue when she and her husband both worked for the City.
The Councilwoman states I am abusing city resourses and time, as a Union representative. As for performing Union acitivities during work, (as well as my private time), there is nothing illegal about it. If it were illegal, she would have made a complaint several years ago. Maybe I should not conclude she would know what is legal and illegal? After all, she refused to step down from an elected post on the City of Middletown Retirement Committee, fully knowing her two year term had expired by almost 10 years! And then tried to stay on without a proper election called by the City Unions. She should be ashamed of trying to say someone else is violating anything!
I am still an active Union member/official; maybe over active? There are a couple of diffences between how Ms. Kasper and myself perform(ed) Union activities. When Ms. Kasper was an AFSCME Union member and City employee: she was removed as a member in good standing by her union, for life! Do you know how bad a person has to screw up to be thrown out of their own Union? What I am trying to achieve is a new way of doing things in our City, through Union acitivies and assistance from Middletown taxpayers. I am not doing it by sucking up to any of the local town committees and their members to make a change. It should come from the average blue collar worker and taxpayers in our town. That is who I am trying to enlist.
Another difference between Councilwoman Kasper and myself is; when the Director of Personnel and I married, one of us dropped our medical coverage (and didn't have to); to save the taxpayers the cost of two health insurance policies for one family. Councilwoman Kasper and her husband, also a retired City of Middletown employee, both have kept their medical insurance coverages, just so they don't have to pay the $5 co-pays of their city provided health visits. Ms. Kasper thinks nothing of letting the taxpayer pay thousands of dollars extra for her two full health insurance coverages, so she can save $5 for an office visit.
As for the Councilwoman stating how much I, as Parks Superintendent made in overtime in the year of 2008, I don't know if it's accurate, but I will tell you, I and the entire Parks & Recreation Maintenance Division work a lot during the year, as do many other City departments and their employees. Ms. Kasper, as a Council member knows the reason why? We are woefully understaffed, and have been for many, many, years. We have 14 employees, and should have at least 30. You do the math to find out how the work will get done. It is an ongoing issue which the Common Council has not, and will not address.
I am not sure exactly what her implications are regarding my wages, and "special interest groups" have in common? My wages and other information is open for public reveiw. I am not hiding anything; never tried to, or have. Is the Councilwoman saying I am the only MMPA or AFSCME employee who should not recieve overtime wages according to their bargaining agreements? I believe she is fine with everyone else earning overtime (including herself when she was a City employee): the exception would be the MMPA President because he is going against the "Democratic Machine". Gee, do you think she's is trying to defame me because I have the audacity to open my mouth? How dare I!
In her capacity as a Council person, she is inferring there is something wrong or illegal with my earning overtime. If she has facts to base her comments and implications, Councilwoman Kasper needs to file a complaint and bring it forward. That is of course, if she is not just flapping her lips to take the heat off herself and her colleagues. If her commentary is factual, she must bring the complaints to the legal process. She took an oath to uphold the laws of Middletown and the United States of America; it is demanded of her to come forward and proceed with her findings; she was elected to a position, "by the people". If she doesn't, then it is my duty to bring a complaint forward; against her! (Point of Information: Anything I mention or state as fact in any of the MMPA news letters, or commetaries, can be backed up.)
The "special interest" groups I refer to in my past letter regard those who claim to be non-profit, but make a profit and recieve tax abatements. Or, the profitable entities who contribute to their political elections, and recieve monetary incentives by the Councils actions.
Please Hope, don't comment again, all you are doing is proving my point.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Here is a slide show of the planting.
Stay tuned for bike racks, benches, and some nicer fencing along the edges. But no need to wait for these—come on over and bring a ball! Many thanks on all these fronts to Middletown’s Park and Rec Department and to Michiel Wackers of the Planning Department.
[Information and photos for this story provided by John Elmore and Jennifer Saines. Full disclosure: I am Jennifer's spouse.]
The American Association for State and Local History presented the Society an Award of Merit at that group’s annual meeting in Oklahoma City on September 24. Terry L. Davis, President and CEO, wrote, “The AASLH Leadership in History Awards is the nation’s most prestigious competition for recognition of achievement in state and local history. We congratulate you for the work that has brought this honor.” The full list of Connecticut honorees can be found at http://www.clho.org/award.htm.
The initiative was funded by a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council with matching support provided by the Middlesex County Historical Society’s Antique and Classic Car Show Committee and many private donations.
The exhibit can be viewed at the Society’s headquarters, The General Joseph Mansfield House, 151 Main Street, Middletown. Museum hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 10 to 3, and Friday, 10 to 12. Genealogical and archival research is available by appointment.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Say you're a returning Wesleyan grad feeling you've seen everything you can see in Middletown. Or you're a student who wants to ditch the parents and send them off for a few hours over the weekend so you can hook-up with a friend for that party at the Butts. Or you're a parent wondering just how many orange trees you can look at before going crazy.
Here are a few things to consider.
Where the Coginchaug Meets the Mattabassett
Just North of downtown on the Connecticut River two rivers, the Coginchaug and the Mattabassett meet, then flow intertwined into the Connecticut. The rivers drain through parkades and suburbs then snake around the old landfill. The huge wetlands and watershed supports a huge diversity of avian and aquatic life, floating meadows, wild rice fields and miles of navigable (by canoe and kayak) waterways. The easiest and only way to tour the fascinating backwaters is to launch a canoe at the Middletown or Cromwell boat launch and navigate the Connecticut River until you reach the mouth of the Mattabassett. An interesting note, the Mattabassett were a tribe of native Americans who called an area from the Connecticut River and west to what is now Berlin, home. Mattabassett is the original, and native American name for Middletown. Wesleyan biologist Barry Chernoff, along with John Hall of the Jonah Center often organized informative paddle tours of the watery wonderland. It's a shame there isn't one being offered this weekend.
Middletown, just this week, committed land and funding for an official kayak launch site near the landfill. The floating meadows are particularly interesting in the fall when flocks of redwing blackbirds descend to feed on wild rice.
This prestigious and well-loved craft guild was founded in 1948 as a guild to foster the crafts. It continues to offer classes and its gallery displays juried pottery, glass and ceramics from the craftspeople associated with Wesleyan Potters and from artisans around the country. It's a great place to find a one-of-a-kind gift. But it's your bad luck that Bowlapalooza was in May. It's a wonderful fundraiser with food, music and pottery in which your $10 admission entitles you to pick a pottery piece from the Bowlapalooza table. Wesleyan Potters is located at 350 South Main St.
The Sri Satyanarayana temple at 11 Training Hill Road is also known as The Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple Society. It comprises the state's largest and most active Hindu spiritual community. Numerous daily temple services and weekly poojas revolve on an accessible schedule, and visitors are welcome to tour the beautiful grounds. The temple features a splendid setting and thoughtfully appointed deity statuary, as well as a warm and friendly atmosphere. Graceful, pristine white marble and delicate tapestries complement the open space and airiness of the building.
The Other College
Middlesex Community College, is also on Training Hill Road, in the hills on the South side of town, and sometimes referred to as MxCC, it's part of the state's community college system. A two-year college, it offers a variety of degrees, is a feeder school for four-year universities, and it also offers certificate programs in accounting, television broadcasting, early childhood development, web development, hazardous waste handling and several other disciplines. It also offers weekend and evening courses for adult learners. The grounds, on one of the highest hills in town, looks out over the Connecticut River valley, and is the site of ArtFarm's summer drama festival, Shakespeare in the Grove, which presents The Taming of the Shrew this year.
After a year or two on campus you've likely found Stop and Shop, Waldbaum's and now Pricechopper. But you're not likely to have stumbled on this hidden ruby. Sure to offend any vegetarian or vegan, Meadow Meat is an old-fashioned wholesale and retail butcher shop, where the day's cuts and catches are posted on a blackboard, and you make your purchases by stepping directly into the meat locker where you'll find a counter surrounded by cuts of chicken, beef and pork. The prices are very reasonable, especially if you're buying in quantity, and the advice is expert. Want to know how to cook a spoon roast? Just ask. On the days leading up to summer holidays like this one, the lines can be very long, winding down the concrete loading-dock stairs. And don't wear a sleeveless shirts and shorts. When it's time for you to squeeze past the plastic curtained doorway, you'll find a shorter queue inside, but you're likely to experience hypothermia if you're exposing too much flesh. You can find Meadow Meat by traveling East on River Road, making a right when you have to on Eastern Drive, going under the railway trestle, and it's the non-descript industrial building on the right painted, appropriately enough, blood red.
While not technically in Middletown (we're only talking a matter of yards), Miller's Pond State Park is a beautiful freshwater site that's perfect for picnics, gentle hikes and swimming. It's not an official state swim site, so there're no lifeguards, and lots of sub-surface boulders, so divers need beware. It's also not a site that all of you have missed. Miller's is known at Wes as a place for an impromptu picnic - bread and cheese and the appropriate mind-altering substance - and then a swim, often sans suits. So you had your skinny dipping fun, why not recommend it to your parents, and your roomates parents as a way to view the foliage up close. Tell them to head out Millbrook Road, continue onto Foothills Road, and settle in for a late afternoon "picnic."
The Airline Billy Joel Took
The beautiful old swing railroad bridge over the Connecticut River was once a part of the Airline Railroad. While "airline" and "railroad" seem not to go together, the Airline Railroad was a line which ran from Middletown to Providence for the Providence and Worcester Railroad along a rail built through the hills on a series of trestles. The rail bed still exists and is called the Airline Trail and is used for hiking and biking, and is accessible in East Hampton. Billy Joel used the railway bridge across the Connecticut for his music video of the song River of Dreams. Walking on the bridge is prohibited, but you can get a close look at it just off deKoven Drive.
Mt. Higby is a beautiful example of the traprock ridges that run north-south the length of our state. Higby Mountain, at 892' is the highest point in Middletown, and offers spectacular views all along the ridgeline.
To the north is Lamentation Mountain (also partly in Middletown), due west is Chauncey Peak (in Meriden), and to the southwest is the valley containing Meriden, Wallingford, and other towns along I91.
There are three different access points to the Higby Mountain Trail (with a car or bicycle shuttle, you can do a nice one-way trip). The nicest place to start is at Tynan Park, on Higby Road at the intersection of Sisk Street. A well-worn trail leads from the dirt parking area into the forest, across some hayfields, and onto the slopes of Higby Mountain.
Another access point is at Guida'srestaurant on Route 66 (itself a fantastic destination for the very best milkshakes in the area). They have a big parking lot at the rear. The trail starts very close to the highway, on the west side of Guida's. Finally, Mt. Higby can be accessed from a turnout on Country Club Road, about 200 yards from the I91 on-ramp. Look for a dirt road on the south side of Country Club (there is a for sale sign there). Follow the dirt road, which is called Massatom Road (no signs though), up the mountain, and then follow the blue-blazed trail markers along the ridge.
Henry Clay Work House.You'll find a bust of this relatively unknown songwriter of the Civil War era, appropriately enough, in Union Park on the South end of Main St. The composer of such classics as Grandfather's Clock, and Marching Through Georgia was born in Middletown but lived much of his life elsewhere. A printer by occupation, Work came to songwriting by avocation. Biggest little known fact: the tune of his song, The Ship That Never Returned was used for the classic country music song (in fact the first million selling record, ever), The Wreck of the Old 97, recorded by artists as diverse as Vernon Dalhart and Johnny Cash. The same tune was used for a hit song of the sixties, M.T.A. by the Kingston Trio. The Henry Clay Work house still stands on Mill Street.
And let's not forget another illustrious Middletown songwriter, Allie Wrubel, who was educated at Wesleyan and went on to write the much loved, but much maligned, Disney classic Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.
A hotly debated section of town for many years. Recently, it's been in the news because a new gas-fired energy plant is being built there, and because the Army proposed building an Army Reserve Training Center there (which will now be in Cucia Park, on the Eastern border of town). This Southeastern corner of Middletown (a section as large as neighboring Cromwell), is mostly wild, rugged and beautiful as it hugs a broad turn in the Connecticut River. But it's also home to a power plant, a jet engine manufacturing plant, and an old feldspar quarry.
You likely read about Maromas when tragedy struck the Kleen Energy power plant there this February. An explosion at the plant, resulting from a purging of pipelines with natural gas, destroyed the plant and killed six workers and injured many others. The investigation into what the causes of the explosion were is still underway.
It's eminently hikable, and if you're lucky you stumble on the rock shelter that was used by native Americans, and in the 19th century by the famous hobo, the Old Leatherman, who was made famous most recently in a Pearl Jam song, and received new acclaim in a volume published by the Wesleyan Press and written by Dan Deluca. You may also read an ongoing serialized novel about the Leatherman here (full disclosure, I'm the author).
The "Insane Asylum"
The other institution on a hill in town is located to the East of Wesleyan, and visible from there. Legend has it that occasionally parents have mistaken Connecticut Valley Hospital for Wesleyan and have dropped their young student there. It's the hospital currently known to locals as CVH. Connecticut Valley constitutes the only state hospital dealing exclusively with mental health issues in the state. It's a huge campus, and the older, unoccupied buildings are a frightening example of "insane asylum" red brick Victorian architecture. But don't take any pictures, because you might get arrested.
The beautiful Victorian building pictured here, Weeks Hall, which had suffered severe neglect by the state, burnt to the ground a month ago.
An Authentic Italian Meal
While in town you may have visited the famous Main Street Italian Restaurants, but Middletown's best Italian food requires entering a hidden gem on Court Street. In the basement of the Italian Society club is the Cantina. The Cantina may not have the atmosphere of a Main Street outdoor patio, but the restaurant serves what many feel are the best Italian dishes in town. If you go, be prepared to linger for several hours enjoying your food. You will get several courses of genuine slow-cooked, delicious food.
Middletown was once heavily industrialized, shipping everything from rubber banding to fertilizer from its deep water port (and importing opium in the "China trade.") One of the things manufactured here was the Noiseless Typewriter. The Noiseless company was bought by Remington, which became Remington Rand. The company was the site of a bitter labor dispute in the thirties, and the company later was involved in early electronic development, including creating a television camera designed to aid in the launch of guided missles. Today, the city of Middletown owns the site, after another attempted sale fell through this year due to its status as a brownfield, and it is the home of a number of small companies. Go to the North end of High Street, then turn right onto North Main and you'll find the gate to the old factory.
An addendum from Beth Emery
The Noiseless Typewriter company was originally the Keating Wheel Company established in 1897. They manufactured bicycles and then motorcycles. I knew this to be part of the history the building and went online to see if I could find dates. From The Salafia Property report commissioned by the Jonah Center for Earth and Art in 2006, I found out the following information. (http://www.thejonahcenter.org/pdf/salafiareport.pdf) The company did not last long, as the bicycle craze of 1890's was coming to an end just as this facility was being established. In 1903 the facility was operated by the Eisenhuth Horseless Vehicle Company which manufactured automobiles, before becoming the Noiseless Typewriter Company.
Your undergrad has likely suggested a trip to this orchard in Middlefield, just Southwest of downtown Middletown. There's nothing like sinking your teeth into an apple, sweet, cool and crisp, right from the branch where you picked it. Avoid the Delicious variety. You can buy them in any supermarket, and the flavor is not much different then the ones found there. You've got to be suspicious of an apple they had to name "delicious," to convince you it is. The Romes, Crispins, Cortlands, Spencers and Ida Reds truly are delicious. If you've got the time, you might want to wander the corn maze, this year hilariously in the shape of UCONN Women's baskeball coach Geno Auriemma's head. But don't skip the apple donuts. Not exactly fritters (for those, head across the bridge and down Rte. 17 into Glastonbury to the old Cider Mill), but delicious.