October 23, 2014

CT Firefighters & Policemen Endorse Emily Bjornberg for State Senate

On Friday Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg announced that the police officers and firefighters of the Connecticut Police and Fire Union (CPFU), as well as the Uniformed Professional Firefighters Association of Connecticut (UPFFA), have officially endorsed her candidacy in the November 4thelections to represent the 33rd State Senate District.

“Our state’s police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities and look out for the safety and well being of our families. They have earned all our gratitude for their hard work, and deserve our ongoing support as they continue to perform their duties. I am honored to receive their endorsement in this election,” said Bjornberg.

“Emily Bjornberg is an exciting candidate and a passionate advocate for her community. She is committed to promoting and preserving public safety, and can be counted on to ensure our firefighters and policemen have the support they need to carry out their duties and get the job done,” said Glenn Terlecki, President of the Connecticut Police and Fire Union.

Emily Bjornberg’s husband, Jason Bjornberg, served as a Military Police Officer in the Connecticut National Guard from 1998 to 2004. He was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in January of 2003, and returned home in April of 2004.

Jason now volunteers as a firefighter with the Lyme Fire Company, an all-volunteer non-profit fire and rescue service. As an employee of the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, Jason also serves as a member of the Connecticut Interstate Wildfire Crew, whose members travel all across the continental United States to combat wildfires and protect the people, property and essential ecosystems threatened by the flames.

This past August, Jason was deployed with the Interstate Wildfire Crew to fight the Eiler fire in Northern California, a blaze which burned 32,416 acres of land that month before it was contained, destroying 7 residences, 2 commercial facilities and 12 outbuildings.

“I could not be more proud of my husband’s service as a firefighter, whether as a volunteer at home in Lyme or across the country with the Interstate Wildfire Crew. I know firsthand that first responders’ service also asks a lot of their families, but as Jason and I tell our children, a service done for others benefits us all,” said Bjornberg.

The Connecticut Police and Fire Union (CPFU), IUPA Local-74/IAFF Local S-15, is comprised of over 900 public safety professionals employed across the State of Connecticut.

The 33rd District includes the communities of: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Emily Bjornberg Endorsed by Connecticut Social Workers

Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg

Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Connecticut Chapter announced earlier this week that it would be endorsing 33rd State Senate candidate, Emily Bjornberg, in the upcoming November 4th election. The National Association of Social Workers takes actions to“promote and advance sound public policies and programs aimed at human need and improved quality of life.” In endorsing Bjornberg for State Senate, the chapter recognizes her lifelong devotion to serving her community and the world.

From running an AIDS clinic in South Africa to her work in hospice, Bjornberg exemplifies a strong commitment to social change and justice. Currently, she serves as the Youth and Family Ministries Director of the Deep River Congregational Church. In contrast, her opponent Art Linares recently stated at a debate that “social issues are ‘not important’ and that “anyone running on social issues has nothing important to run on.”

In speaking about her advocacy on issues of social justice, Bjornberg said, “I think my work has given me an insight into the wide diversity of our region—rich and poor, black and white, straight and gay, conservative and liberal. I have always believed that it is this beautiful tapestry of our community, our state and our nation that makes us strongest.”

While her opponent often supports questionable legislation to the sole benefit of large corporations, Bjornberg is focused on promoting the small businesses of the 33rd District, because they are the most significant job creators of the Connecticut economy. One of Bjornberg’s largest concerns is improving the quality of life and economic security of the families in her district, and there is no better way than by promoting small business and social safety nets such as affordable healthcare and the creation of a “living wage”.

In keeping with NASW legislative priorities, Bjornberg will bring to Hartford a voice that will fight for the vulnerable and underrepresented in the 33rd Senate District. This includes senior citizens, one of the district’s largest demographic groups. In a debate against her opponent, Bjornberg stated that she supports the creation of legislation to help seniors to stay in their homes and in their communities as they age.

“The 33rd District is a beautiful community and our senior residents have a right to remain in their homes. There are so many benefits to aging at home, including keeping families close to their loved ones and providing familiarity and comfort in what can be difficult times. Furthermore, keeping seniors inside of and active in their communities provides significant savings to both seniors and to state taxpayers,” said Bjornberg.

The support of the National Association of Social Workers Connecticut Chapter comes with the support of 3,000 chapter members, and their commitment to working with Bjornberg to improve the quality of life for all Connecticut residents.

The 33rd State Senate District includes the communities of: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Bjornberg Endorsed by Connecticut Working Families Party

The Connecticut Working Families Party announced their endorsement of 33rd District State Senate candidate Emily Bjornberg in the upcoming November 4th election. As a mother of two young children, the wife of an Iraq War veteran, and the Director of Youth and Family Ministries of the Deep River Congregational Church, Bjornberg represents the many facets of the Connecticut working family.

The Working Families Party line helps to elect a candidate with strong values and a history of standing up for the working and middle class and unemployed. Bjornberg’s family settled in the Lower Connecticut River Valley over 160 years ago, creating a true small business which still survives to this day.

As State Senator, Bjornberg will be committed to ensuring all Connecticut families have the same opportunities as her own family, including access to affordable healthcare and a quality education for all children. During a Tuesday September 23rd debate, these beliefs were reflected in Bjornberg’s statements about resolving the issues related to regressive axes, which negatively affect our state’s middle class and unemployed.

“My opponent has proposed multiple pieces of legislation that, if successful, would have eliminated the earned income tax credit—the equivalent of a tax increase on the working poor. In this difficult economy, that would impose a significant hardship on a great number of families. Instead, we should work to reduce regressive taxes—like the property tax and the car tax—wherever possible,” said Bjornberg.

“This election is about what Connecticut families need in order to build a strong future. One of the best ways we can help Connecticut families is by making sure our small and family-owned businesses can succeed,” stated Bjornberg. “Small businesses are the true engines of job growth in our economy, but too often our government caters to the needs of large corporations without a thought for the needs of small businesses, which can’t afford teams of lobbyists in Hartford.”

Bjornberg makes it clear that her politics are deeply rooted in her belief in the importance of giving back to the community. Her work at the Deep River Congregational Church focuses on addressing social needs like homelessness and hunger. She previously ran an AIDS clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa to tend to the needs of the sick and dying.

The Working Families Party focuses on economic justice issues like creating good jobs with fair pay and quality benefits, and ensuring that all workers can retire with financial security and dignity. These issues are of special concern for the 33rd District, and Bjornberg is committed to creating new opportunities for young families, as well as supporting seniors living on fixed incomes.

“We are proud to endorse Emily Bjornberg, an independent-minded candidate whose genuine concern for working people and strengthening the middle class is rooted in years of advocacy work both around the world and here at home. She is the best choice for voters on November 4th,” said Lindsay Farrell, Executive Director of the Working Families Party.

Bjornberg’s endorsement by the Working Families Party comes with the grassroots support of the Working Families Party, its formidable door-to-door voter mobilization program, and placement of the candidate’s name on the Working Families Party ballot line, Row C.

The 33rd State Senate District includes the communities of: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Following Strong Debate Performance, Bjornberg Challenges Linares to Appear in 33rd District’s Northern Towns

Following a strong performance Tuesday evening during a public debate at the Valley Regional High School in Deep River, Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg criticized her Republican opponent, Art Linares of Westbrook, for refusing multiple invitations for further debates from non-partisan organizations across the 33rd Senate District.

“My opponent may not wish to talk about his record in the Northern part of our district, but the residents of Colchester, East Hampton, Portland, Haddam and East Haddam deserve to hear what he has to say about it. And they should be concerned at his reluctance to appear there,” said Bjornberg. “There are important issues in this campaign, and real differences between my opponent and myself. We need to better address the needs of our small businesses, and put their interests first before those of lobbyists and special interests. We need lower property taxes, and greater state education aid to make that possible. We need to put more people back to work, particularly our unemployed returning veterans.”

Linares has not accepted a single invitation in one the district’s northern towns, including any and all proposed events north of the Town of Deep River.

The 33rd State Senate District includes twelve towns: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

“I believe in a full and open debate of the issues in this election. It takes over an hour to drive across the 33rd Senate District, one of the largest in the state. Each community has their own unique needs and concerns. For my opponent to agree to debates only in the southern portion of the district is a disservice and an insult to those northern communities,” said Bjornberg.

In response to a recent invitation to debate from the Haddam Bulletin, Linares’ campaign manager and brother, Ryan Linares, emailed the following statement in response (follow link to Linares’ full email):

“For this election  (just like last election) we’ve already been asked to participate in over 8-9 debates. Myself and our campaign team [sic] have decided to participate in four, believing that this is more then [sic] sufficient for all candidates to voice their opinion on certain matters. Those debates include the New London Day (Lyme), Rotary Club (Essex), Essex library (Deep River) & Westbrook Council of Beaches (Westbrook) – we made our decision off a first come bases [sic] and to geographically space them out for all to conveniently attend.”

Of the four events the Linares’ campaign has agreed to, two have already occurred, one of which was not located within the 33rd District itself (The Day’s debate was actually held in Old Lyme). Only one of the two events that remain will be open to the public, with approximately six weeks remaining before the general election. The Essex Rotary event is open to club members only.

“Art Linares may wish to limit public debate in this election, but the voters deserve a broader discussion. I have challenged my opponent to twelve debates in twelve towns, and I renew that challenge today. If my opponent is proud of his voting record and his positions on the issues, he has no reason to hide,” said Bjornberg.

To date, the Bjornberg campaign has accepted invitations for upcoming debates from all of the following organizations. Bolded events have either not received a response from the Linares campaign, or have had their invitation declined:

Haddam Bulletin Debate
October 14th or 15th, Time TBD
Haddam-Killingworth High School
95 Little City Road, Higganum, CT 

Colchester AARP Candidate Forum
October 28th at 2PM
Colchester Senior Center, 95 Norwich Avenue, Colchester, CT

Morgan School Debate
October 23rd, Time TBD
The Morgan School, 27 Killingworth Turnpike, Clinton, CT 

CT Mirror Debate at Chamard Vineyard in Clinton
Date TBD

Essex Rotary Club Candidate Forum
Tuesday, September 30th
Cocktails at 5:45pm, Dinner begins at 6:15pm
Essex Yacht Club, 13 Novelty Ln, Essex, CT

Westbrook Council of Beaches Candidate Forum
Monday, October 6th, 7pm
Teresa Mulvey Municipal Center, 866 Boston Post Rd, Westbrook, CT
The 33rd District includes the communities of: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Sen. Linares: We Can’t Afford a $150/Year Electricity Rate Hike

Sen. Art Linares has submitted testimony to state officials opposing Connecticut Light and Power’s proposed rate hike:

“CL&P has proposed a rate hike request that would increase an individual customer’s bill by an average of $150 a year,” Sen. Linares said. “This rate hike would hurt Connecticut residents.”

Sen. Linares urged residents to email comments to Pura.Executivesecretary@ct.gov .  The email should include “Docket Number 14-05-06” in the subject line.

Sen. Linares urged those who do not have access to email to contact his office at 800 842 1421 so that he can help pass along their concerns to state officials.

Emily Bjornberg Endorsed by Public School Teachers

On Friday Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg, a mother with two children in the Lyme public schools, proudly announced the endorsement of her campaign by Connecticut’s public school teachers. Both the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) and the Connecticut affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have voted to endorse Bjornberg for the November 4th General Election. The organizations collectively represent all of Connecticut’s public school teachers.

“More than anything else, education is an issue that should bring all of us together, as we work to prepare our children for success in a rapidly changing world,” said Bjornberg. “As a mother of two young children I have a vested interest in a public school system that works for our families, and provides students with the skills they need to get ahead in life.”

“Parents, administrators, teachers and taxpayers must work together to provide better schools and a brighter future for our students. Emily Bjornberg will work hard to help our teachers succeed, and ensure our schools have the resources they need to educate the next generation,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen.

“We need someone in the State Senate who will work with her colleagues on issues important to working families. Whether it’s reclaiming the promise of education, expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare, or preserving vital public services, Emily will help clarify the conversation, not muddy the political waters,” said Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut, which also represents public schools’ support staff, nurses and healthcare workers, higher education faculty, and state and municipal employees.

“We need to have a more candid conversation about education in our small towns,” said Bjornberg. “Our local schools consistently perform at a high level, yet they are subject to increasing mandates from the state that increase our expenses—and our property taxes—without improving school performance. If a school district does very well year after year, we should lighten the burden of these requirements as an added incentive. Education reform efforts must focus on where performance is low, and not burden our most successful schools.”

“It is critically important that we stand up and fight for additional state education aid for our small towns. Too many of our school districts have not gotten their fair share of education funding, and that has put upward pressure on property tax rates. Our children deserve better, and our seniors and others on limited fixed incomes need a break,” added Bjornberg.

More than 2,100 CEA and AFT Connecticut members live in the towns of the 33rd State Senate District, which includes the communities of: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Linares wins Independent Line Endorsement

On Thursday August 21, 2014 Senator Linares received the endorsement from the Independent Party.  Linares’ name will now appear twice on the ballot, as both the chosen candidate for the Republican Party and the Independent Party.

Senator Linares attended the Independent Party convention in Danbury, CT on Thursday night to speak directly to the delegates.  Linares said of his endorsement, “I am honored to be representing the Independent Party, as well as the Republican Party.  All people want the same thing – stabilization of taxes, more accountability in spending, conservation of certain lands, more job creating businesses and more educational opportunities.”

“That is exactly what we are working towards in Hartford for all Connecticut residents and I will continue to do so if I’m given the opportunity to represent the district again in November.”

Senator Linares, who has been working non- stop on his re-election campaign, has already visited residents in all 12 towns in his district.  He plans to continue his door to door campaign up until Election Day.

Senator Linares has been very visible throughout the district and his campaign staff has also attended numerous fairs with the Senator. In addition to the many fairs and festivals, Senator Linares also has attended numerous parades in the district.

Senator Linares represents the towns of Clinton, Westbrook, Old Saybrook, Colchester, Portland, East Hampton, Essex, Deep River, Haddam, East Haddam, Chester, Lyme.

Bjornberg Challenges State Senate Race Opponent to 12 Debates in 12 Towns

Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg

Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg

LYME, CT – In hopes of promoting widespread public discussion of state and local issues, Democratic State Senate Candidate Emily Bjornberg proposed today that she and her Republican opponent hold twelve public debates before theNovember 4th General Election, one in each town of the 33rd State Senate District.

The 33rd District includes the communities of: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

“The people of the 33rd Senate District deserve a full and vigorous public debate of the issues in this election year. There is too much at stake—our economy, our schools and our values—to not have a comprehensive series of discussions, of real substance,” said Bjornberg. “The 33rd District is so large, stretching from the heart of Connecticut to the shoreline and beyond, that anything less than twelve debates in twelve towns would be a disservice to each of them.”

“I welcome invitations to debate from any genuinely nonpartisan and unbiased organization in the 33rd District, and I will prioritize invitations from towns that have not yet seen a debate,” added Bjornberg. “Each town in this district is a unique community with its own historic characteristics and local concerns. This distinctiveness calls for a separate debate to address the specific issues of each town.”

Bjornberg continued, “I urge my opponent to join me in this effort to take both of our campaigns to every corner of the 33rd District. As a resident of one of our region’s smallest communities, many people have told me that they feel their town was left out of the discussion in the last election. Too few debates were held. We cannot allow that to happen again, and the responsibility lies with both of us, together.”

State Senator Art Linares Qualifies for Public Financing

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

Nearly 15 days after the Senator Art Linares’ campaign for re-election announced it had reached its campaign funding goal, the state has certified State Senator Art Linares, R-33rd, for public financing.

Campaign Manager Ryan Linares told a group of volunteers at a July 31st orientation meeting, “We surpassed the required number of in-district donors by a huge margin in comparison to two years ago.” he said. He added that Senator Linares has been getting an enthusiastic reception everywhere he goes within the district.

Senator Linares has personally knocked on 2,000 doors in the district so far, about 300 more than his marker at the same time two years ago, Ryan Linares shared with the group of 13 volunteers.

“What we have learned is that the people of this district are well in-tune with what is happening in Hartford.  When the Senator meets constituents at the doors they have concerns and the Senator has answers” he said.

“Senator Linares is working hard seven days a week on this campaign, attending events throughout the district, knocking on doors and listening to the people about issues that are important to them,” he concluded. “We have one of the hardest working senators in the state and one of the hardest working candidate, and that should be motivation for all of us.”

The volunteers attending the orientation represented all 12 towns within the 33rd Senatorial District. Anyone else interested in volunteering can send an e-mail to senatorlinaresmanager@ gmail.com.

Sen. Art Linares Renews Call for Hearings to Address Child Tragedies

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

HARTFORD – In light of the tragic and unsettling Child Fatality Review Report, released yesterday by the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA), State Senator Art Linares (R-Westbrook) is renewing his call for a public hearing to review the recent child fatalities involving children under the care of the Department of Children and Families (DCF).

“This report gives us a closer look into the horrible accounts of child deaths connected to families involved with DCF. The sad and eye opening report also recommends annual public hearings on these fatalities.”

The report identified 24 infant and toddler deaths among families with DCF involvement. The review also discusses recommendations to prevent future fatalities, including a recommendation to hold an annual public hearing on child fatalities along with a focused discussion on infant-toddler deaths.

“A public hearing is needed to improve transparency and open the dialogue between DCF, lawmakers, child advocates and community members. We need to not only recognize the problems, but we must also work together to determine the cause of any system weaknesses and identify the appropriate actions to prevent future tragedies.”

In a letter to the co-chairs of the Children’s Committee Linares again urged the committee to schedule a public hearing considering the report results.

“Everyone needs to have a seat at the table when it comes to the safety of children. Legislators need to understand the short and long term needs of caseworkers and child advocacy officials. Caseworkers need to understand what policies would most benefit families. A hearing would allow us to better understand what is being done and what still needs to be done to put an end to these serious and devastating events,” said Linares.

State Senator Art Linares represents the 33rd senatorial district comprised of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland & Westbrook. He serves as Ranking Member of the Committee on Children.

Bjornberg Expresses Concern for Implications of Family Institute’s Support of Linares

 

Emily Bjornberg

Emily Bjornberg

Emily Bjornberg, candidate for the 33rd District State Senate Seat, pledged she will oppose any efforts in Connecticut to limit contraceptive coverage for workers through their employer-provided health plans. 

“The recent decision by the US Supreme Court has serious ramifications on women’s rights and their reproductive health,” Bjornberg said, “The most appalling aspect of this decision is that women who are the victims of sexual assault will be denied coverage to emergency contraceptives.” 

Connecticut law requires fully-insured employee benefit plans to include contraceptive coverage, although certain companies such as Hobby Lobby, a lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case, are able to avoid this requirement due to preemption by federal law. 

The Hobby Lobby case has emboldened anti-choice organizations like the Family Institute of Connecticut to seek further legislative changes in states that would provide similar exemptions on what supporters say are religious freedom grounds.

Bjornberg pledged to oppose any efforts to change the law to further limit coverage of contraceptives. 

Her opponent, incumbent State Senator Art Linares, has yet to make any public statements on the issue. Linares did, however, earn the endorsement’s of the Family Institute in 2012 for his support of their issues opposing same-sex marriages and women’s reproductive choices. Family Institute members were seen demonstrating at a Connecticut Hobby Lobby store supporting the Supreme Court decision. 

“As a youth and family ministry director in Deep River I am a strong supporter of religious freedom in our country, but that freedom does not give anyone the right to impose their beliefs on others,” Bjornberg added, “The fact my opponent has been silent on this issue yet has been endorsed by an organization that opposes contraceptives even for victims of sexual assault should give every voter in the 33rd district cause for concern.” 

Editor’s Note: Connecticut’s 33rd State Senate District includes the communities of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

For more information about Emily Bjornberg, visit www.emily4ct.com.

Linares Two Months Ahead of 2012 Donation Level

linares full

Senator Art Linares, 33rd District

WESTBROOK — 33rd District Senator Art Linares’ Re-election Campaign has announced that the campaign is two months ahead of their fundraising goal from two years ago. The campaign said that they are very encouraged by the number of new donors.

In addition, they are pleased that previous donors have also returned. “The fact  that we have the funds this early  to meet our matching fund obligation is very encouraging news going into the middle of the summer season when fundraising is always  more difficult,” said campaign manager Ryan Linares, who is also the Senator’s brother .

The campaign is still working on inputting the information of the 400 individuals who have so far donated to the campaign, 300 are required to meet their matching fund obligation. Senator Linares’ campaign manager added, “What is most interesting about all of this is Senator Linares did not raise money in the traditional way by having fundraisers. Instead, he personally appealed to people in the district. Most of the donations have come from an e-mail and letter request campaign done in April and in the last 72 hours. The Senator’s schedule has been booked with public events in the district.  This has raised the Senator’s profile, which has also helped with the donations,” Ryan Linares added.

He also said, “Donations are always a good sign of support from people and so far this year people have been donating with letters thanking him for the work he is doing and for representing them in Hartford. The Senator is well in tune with the values of the district and the people see him as a person who listens without regard to political affiliation.  Let there be no doubt that Senator Linares plans to campaign just as hard, if not harder, than he did in 2012 when he became the youngest sitting Senator.  The Senator is not interested in what his opponents are saying. His interest is with the needs of the people in the district.”

Regional School District #4 Appoints New Director of Pupil Services

The Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Region 4 Schools are pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Sarah Smalley to the position of Director of Pupil Services.

Ms. Smalley previously served as a special educator, Department Coordinator, and Interim Associate Principal at Valley Regional High School from 2003- through 2011. She served as Director of Pupil Services in New Hartford, CT, a Pre-Kindergarten through grade six school district. Ms. Smalley continued her administrative experience as the Supervisor of Pupil Services in Region 17, Haddam-Killingworth for the past two years.

Ms. Smalley attended George Washington University for her Bachelors and Masters Degrees, and Sacred Heart University for her Sixth Year Degree in Educational Leadership.

Ms. Smalley comes to us from a family of educators, and serves her community as a member of the Region 18, Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education. We are pleased to welcome Sarah Smalley back home to our communities in her new position as Director of Pupil Services.

Ms. Smalley will begin her post on July 1, 2014.

Murphy Pushes For Federal Recognition of Battlefield Essex Project

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) recently wrote a letter to leaders at the Connecticut Historic Preservation Council to offer his support for the Battlefield Essex project and alert the Council that he would strongly advocate for the project to be named to the National Register of Historic Places. The project recognizes the tremendous contributions of the Essex shipbuilding industry to American history during the War of 1812, and will help increase tourism to the region.

“I’m encouraged to see our state remembering this noteworthy moment from a time in Connecticut’s past that gets too little recognition,” said Murphy. “Naming this site to the National Register of Historic Places will bring the area the recognition it deserves from the federal government, while boosting the local economy through increased tourism. The Connecticut River Museum has done tremendous work to restore this site and I’ll do everything I can to support its efforts.”

The Battlefield Essex project recognizes the British Raid on Pettipaug during the War of 1812. During the raid, Americans experienced the greatest shipping loss of the war. This April will mark the bicentennial of this raid.

Full text of the letter:

Mr. Daniel Forrest Chairwoman, State Historic Preservation Officer,  One Constitution Plaza, 2nd Floor, Hartford, CT 06103.

Sara O. Nelson, Historic Preservation Council, One Constitution Plaza, 2nd Floor, Hartford, CT 06103.
Dear Mr. Forrest and Chairwoman Nelson,

As you know, April 8th of this year will mark the bicentennial of the British attack on Essex during the War of 1812. While this attack was the largest American shipping loss of the war, those 136 British soldiers, 27 American vessels, and tiny local Connecticut militias seem to have been all but lost in the annals of history.

I commend the Connecticut River Museum for resurrecting this raid from history—while it was a terrible financial tragedy for the town, I believe this event also highlights the importance of the Essex shipbuilding industry and Connecticut’s trade ports during this period of American history. The history of the War of 1812 is so rarely remembered in our country and I am encouraged to see our state remembering this noteworthy moment from Connecticut’s past.

As the Battlefield Essex project makes its way through the Historic Preservation Council’s approval process, please know that I look forward to supporting and guiding this project through the federal process of being named to the National Register of Historic Places. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Christopher S. Murphy
United States Senator

Chester Opts for a New State Program for Clean Energy

The Chester Town Meeting voted on July 23, 2013 to engage the Town of Chester in a new state program that will allow commercial, industrial and multi-family property owners to receive 100% upfront, low-cost, long-term financing for clean energy upgrades to their properties. The Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program (C-PACE)  is administered by the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) as part of the State’s Energize Connecticut initiative, which is intended to help consumers save money and use clean energy.

C-PACE allows building owners to access capital to finance qualifying energy efficiency and clean energy improvements by placing a voluntary assessment on their property tax bill.  Property owners pay for the improvements over time through this additional charge without having to use their own capital. The repayment obligation transfers automatically to the next owner if the property is sold.

C-PACE will help keep the Town of Chester a competitive and business-friendly town for CT building owners to locate. The town has over a half million square feet of building area eligible for C-PACE and  the hope is many will take advantage of this new program. More information and the application can be found at www.c-pace.com.

Work Helps Control Damaging Invasive Plant Along Lower Connecticut River

phragmites australis

Phragmites australis

In order to help restore and sustain the tidal wetlands along the lower Connecticut River, The Nature Conservancy last year undertook invasive phragmites control work at 12 locations on more than 215 acres.

Paid for by funding provided by the Ecosystem Management and Habitat Restoration grants administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the state-permitted and safe herbicide treatments are necessary to help sustain the gains made by DEEP, The Nature Conservancy and others against phragmites.

Initial post-treatment monitoring concluded in June 2013, and the DEEP grant-funded work completed last year by the Conservancy helps ensure that gains made from previous phragmites control efforts are sustained.

In addition to sustaining gains made against phragmites, the project provides more experience and know-how for partners to better analyze best management practices, ensuring future decisions remain well informed.

The treatments took place at sites in East Haddam, Lyme, Old Lyme, Essex and Old Saybrook. Observation of conditions in treated areas will be ongoing.

“The Conservancy is grateful for the DEEP’s leadership on this issue,” said David Gumbart, assistant director of land management for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “We’re also grateful to the many private landowners who granted permission for work on their lands and appreciative of the many supportive local land trusts and towns.”

In the 1990s, a study documenting the invasion of phragmites along the lower Connecticut River showed that the outstanding native biodiversity for which these marshes are famous was disappearing at an alarming rate. In some locations, over 40 percent of the native plant communities had been converted to phragmites in less than 30 years.

Subsequently, the Conservancy, DEEP and others began work to stop these losses and rein in phragmites in the tidal marsh system using conventional herbicide and mulching treatments. Over time, an approximately 80 percent reduction of the plant has been achieved in the tidal marshes of the lower Connecticut River. These efforts also helped regain additional habitat that will see colonization by native species.

More about phragmites and the Lower Connecticut River

Invasive European strains of Phragmites australis were introduced to the United States in the 1880s, possibly through ships’ ballast, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Invasive Species Information Center.

Since then, phragmites has become one of the biggest threats to the lower Connecticut River’s exemplary tidal marsh system. This is because it overruns the native plant communities that are a primary feature in the system’s health and productivity.

Although common birds and wildlife can utilize stands of phragmites, the biodiversity and overall ecological integrity of a marsh system is severely compromised by the invasive plant.

Sustaining the tidal marsh habitats through efforts such as phragmites control sustains rare plant species, as well as the migratory, shore and wading birds that thrive in these habitats. Among the other beneficiaries are fish, including the Atlantic silverside, that utilize the marshes at high tide. Such work also helps sustain the quality of the Long Island Sound.

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy at www.nature.org/connecticut

Roberts Leaves CRM to Work on “Battle Site Essex” Project

Executive Director Jerry Roberts

Executive Director Jerry Roberts

Jerry Roberts of Deep River who has led the Connecticut River Museum (CRM) as executive director for the past seven years is moving on to a new opportunity as  battlefield historian for a National Parks Service grant project on the British raid on Essex shipping in 1814. One of the final products of the project will be the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places of an area on both sides of the Connecticut River between Saybrook Point and North Cove, Essex that is known as “Battle Site Essex.” The federal grant to CRM and the project was conceived by Roberts who is also writing a book on the subject. The large colorful mural in the Museum that depicts the British raid was installed during Roberts’ tenure and that exhibit will soon receive enhancements through a grant from CT Humanities. Roberts’ term at the Museum has been characterized by enhanced exhibitions that reflect his experiences as Vice President for Exhibits at the Intrepid Museum in New York City prior to coming to CRM.

In making the announcement, CT River Museum Chairwoman Maureen O’Grady said, “Jerry had many accomplishments during his tenure. He spearheaded efforts that brought our waterfront alive and launched many important exhibits. We will be always grateful for that, and we wish him well in his new role.”

The current field work on the “Battle Site Essex” is headed by archaeologist Dr. Kevin McBride of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center who also teaches anthropology at University of Connecticut. The initial documentary research, completed by David Naumac, with a grant from CT Dept of Culture & Tourism, brought to light the participation of large numbers of area militia on both sides of the River who attempted to impede the British as they returned to their ships in Long Island Sound. The goal of the National Parks Project is to map the entire Raid area and to identify & map the core areas  of engagement using GIS mapping and archaeology.  Jerry Roberts will bring his expertise to bear in helping to focus the areas that may be of archaeological interest and to assist with the mapping that is a basic goal of the project.

Both Roberts and McBride will participate in public meetings with home-owners who may own properties of interest as well as the general public.  At the completion of the project the pair will host a series of special presentations to bring together all of the new and old information about this incursion that put Connecticut Valley towns in the heat and fire of a war that was not of their choosing.

Essex Officials: State Funding to Go Toward Elderly and Affordable Housing

Local and state officials applauded the State Bond Commission’s June 21 approval of a $250,000 pre-development loan to create plans for 18-20 new elderly affordable rental units in Essex.

“With our development partner, the Women’s Institute for Housing & Economic Development, Inc., we were pleased to receive the pre-development loan,” said Janice Atkeson, Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Chair.  “Our next task is to prepare an application for building funds.  There is a need for additional affordable housing for elderly and mobile disabled in our community, and we hope to fulfill that need.”

“It’s good news for our area seniors,” Sen. Art Linares said of the funding. “Demands for affordable senior housing in our region continue to rise. This investment will help meet that demand. It is very much appreciated.”

“I am grateful to the Essex Housing Authority for their management and advocacy, and we look forward to working with the Economic Development Agency again with another successful project,” Rep. Phillip Miller said.  “The Town of Essex rightfully takes pride in the accomplishments at Essex Court.  Many of the residents ask me when Lieutenant Governor Wyman will stop by again to say hello. ”

“I would also like to thank the state for helping us fund the planning of additional affordable housing units in Essex,” Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said.  “The town is always striving to find ways to meet the needs of its residents and work towards complying with the state’s suggested affordable housing guidelines.”

Essex Court is a 36-unit elderly housing complex that opened in 1985. State grants have funded several renovations and improvements at the complex, including a new driveway, in recent years. The planned expansion would be constructed on a one-acre parcel in the back section of the complex property in the Centerbrook section.

Region 4 Appoints Supervisor of Pupil Services – New Position

The Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Region 4 Schools are pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Tyson Stoddard to the position of Supervisor of Pupil Services.  Mr. Stoddard most recently served as a Special Education Coordinator in the Plymouth Public Schools from 2010 until now.

Prior to his experience as a coordinator, Mr. Stoddard taught 4thgrade and elementary special education for 5 years.  He has been a volunteer with the Big Brother/Big Sisters program, and a student mentor.   Tyson Stoddard enjoys skiing, cycling, and golf when time allows, outside of his career interests.

Mr. Stoddard received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Philosophy from Trinity College, his Master of Science in Education in Moderate Disabilities from Simmons College, his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law, and his Certification in Education Leadership at Southern Connecticut State University.  Tyson Stoddard has received numerous accolades and honors such as a Merit Scholarship recipient at UCONN School of Law, and the Golden Key International Honour Society most recently.

The Supervision District and interview team were very impressed with Mr. Stoddard’s knowledge of both general and special education, his ability to build strong working relationships, his compassion for students and families, and his ability to build forward and creative programs for all students.  The entire team is confident that Tyson Stoddard will provide exemplary leadership in our districts.

Mr. Stoddard grew up in Guilford, Connecticut and is looking forward to returning to the shoreline.  Tyson Stoddard and his wife currently reside in West Hartford with their three children.  They look forward to being active participants in our communities.  Mr. Stoddard will begin his post on July 1, 2013.

Ruth I. Levy, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Region 4

Editor’s Note: The supervisor of pupil services position was established by district school boards earlier this year as a way to retain more special education students from Chester, Deep River, and Essex in the district, and avoid costly out-of-district placements and related transportation costs. Stoddard will work under District Director of Pupil Services Tracy Johnston.

Deep River Rotary Announces “2013 Citizen of the Year”

Deep River Citizen of the Year Joanne Hourigan (left) with Kevin Brewer and Phyllis Haut.

Deep River Roraty Club Citizen of the Year Joanne Hourigan (left) with Kevin Brewer and Phyllis Haut.

The Deep River Rotary Club presented its annual “Citizen of the Year” Award to Joanne Hourigan at its annual year-end gathering June 23 at Griswold Point in Old Lyme. The award was presented by outgoing club president Kevin Brewer. Phyllis Haut, club secretary, read the announcement as follows:

Joanne Hourigan has been a gift to the town of Deep River for many years. In addition to being a wife and mother of two sons, she has served as the Executive Director of the Deep River Housing Authority and manager of Kirtland Commons Senior Housing for 20 years. At Kirtland Commons she is responsible for 31 elderly and disabled residents of the town. For Joanne, they are more than just clients and tenants; they are family.

She labors to make it a community, where residents gather for occasional meals in the dining room and share in activities in the large living room. Joanne has arranged exercise classes, art lessons, trips to concerts and movies, and birthday parties for her people. In addition, she has volunteered to serve as conservator for a number of men and women in the community, not only representing them in legal matters, but helping them to maneuver the complexities of medical appointments, maintaining housing, shopping for clothes, visiting friends, and creating a quality of life for her family of people born out of deep concern and love.

She is also the owner and creative inspiration behind her women’s shop, called Chaos, on Main St. in Deep River. She says that the shop is her therapy, and maybe those who come there to delight over the selection of clothes, jewelry, and accessories might find their therapy there, too. Even this for-profit endeavor is a part of Joanne’s love for the community and its people. She says, “Chaos Believes in give, give, giving, as much as we can to those in need and to help local organizations in their fundraising efforts, because that is what it is all about.” She has said that she named the shop “Chaos” because “that is my life.”

We are grateful for the chaos and the concern that represents the heart and soul of Joanne Hourigan, who represents so well the motto of Rotary International: Service Above Self. For that the Deep River Rotary Club presents the 2013 “Citizen of the Year Award” to Joanne Hourigan.

Sen. Art Linares Meets With Deep River Taxpayers

Sen. Art Linares (center) speaks with a taxpayers at his Feb. 20 Town Hall Meeting in Deep River.  Sen. Linares’ next Town Hall Meeting will be Tuesday Feb. 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Ave.

Sen. Art Linares (center) speaks with a taxpayers at his Feb. 20 Town Hall Meeting in Deep River. Sen. Linares’ next Town Hall Meeting will be Tuesday Feb. 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Ave.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, State Sen. Art Linares held a 90-minute Town Hall Meeting at Deep River Town Hall.

The meeting, which was attended by about 20 taxpayers, allowed area residents to question Sen. Linares about the state budget and discuss his efforts to make Connecticut more business-friendly.

“We had an excellent discussion, and I thank Deep River taxpayers for stopping by,” Sen. Linares said.  “For those who could not attend, feel free to contact me with any questions you have about taxes, spending, or any topics you wish to discuss.  I can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or at 800 842 1421.”

Residents may sign up for Sen. Linares’ State Capitol e-alerts at www.senatorlinares.com .  His next Town Hall Meeting will be Tuesday Feb. 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Ave.

Sen. Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Chester First Selectman Ed Meehan to Commit Town to Clean Energy Communities Program

Chester First Selectman Ed Meehan is expected to sign the Clean Energy Communities pledge on Thursday, January 17, committing Chester to the program while simultaneously having a Home Energy Solutions (HES) assessment performed at his home.

Clean Energy Communities is a program that incentives cities and towns across the state to support energy efficiency and promote the use of renewable energy sources. Under the program, Chester would pledge to reduce its municipal building energy consumption by 20 percent by 2018. The city would also work with the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority to purchase 20 percent of its municipal energy needs from clean, renewable sources by 2018.

During First Selectman Meehan’s HES assessment, licensed technicians will install an average of $700 of energy efficiency products and weatherization services in a home or apartment for a $75 co-pay. On average, homeowners and renters save approximately $200 each year following its implementation.

The HES service will include identifying and sealing air leaks from windows, doors, attics and ductwork in Meehan’s home; installing hot water saving measures, including low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, and hot water pipe insulation; and replacing incandescent bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Vin Pacileo Releases Statement on August Unemployment Figures

Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for the 36th State House District

Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for State Representative in the 36th House District, released the following statement on the biggest jump in Connecticut’s unemployment rate in 36 years:

“The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics just released Connecticut employment data for the month of August, which showed that the state lost 6,800 jobs. This caused the unemployment rate to shoot up from 8.5 percent to 9 percent – the single largest jump since 1976.”

“These numbers are a sobering reminder that the policies initiated by Governor Malloy and supported by Phil Miller have unfairly burdened individuals, families, seniors, and business owners. It is puzzling that our Governor continues to express open skepticism on the accuracy of these statistics, when it is obvious that the pace of economic recovery is weak at best.”

“Adding to the state’s woes, last week the University of Connecticut’s quarterly economic journal reported that the Connecticut economy will not recover all of the jobs lost during the recession until the year 2018. It is clear that the policies coming out of Hartford are not working.”

“State government continues to spend more than it earns and borrows more than it can pay back. We need to stop this irresponsible growth and expansion of state government. As your State Representative, I will roll back the income, sales, and business tax increases that were passed last year – including restoration of the full $500 property tax credit for each homeowner – while thoughtfully reducing the budget. If we work together, we can restore common sense principles to the legislature.”

The 36th State House District is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam. Learn more about Vin’s plan to return common sense leadership to Hartford at www.vinpacileo.com.

Linares Renews Call to End “Early Release Program”

Art Linares, 33rd District State Senate Candidate

Westbrook, CT – – 33rd District Senate Republican candidate Art Linares has renewed his call to end the states early release program.

Linares made his comments in an early morning speech on Saturday after police reported that Joseph Mabery, who had 28 prior convictions and was part of the early release program, was arrested for lewd behavior on a public bus in front of a 14 year old girl in the Middletown area. In a statement later released by his campaign, Linares called upon his opponent Representative Jim Crawford, for the third time, to abandon his support of the program and join his call for Governor Malloy to halt the program. Linares continued by saying that since the program began over 700 early release criminals have committed a crime and have been returned to jail.

“How can Governor Malloy and Jim Crawford still support this program after 700 crimes? What is the number that will make them give up on this failed policy? Will it be 1000, 2000, 5000. How many murders will it take three four five what is the number that will make them start protecting the citizens.”

At the end, Linares said, “The incarceration of prisoners should be left up to Judges and prosecutors and not a bunch of Politicians in Hartford.”

Vin Pacileo Receives Independent Party Endorsement

Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for the 36th State House District

AREAWIDE – Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for the 36th State House District, today announced he has received the endorsement of the Independent Party of Connecticut, the third largest political party in the state.

“I am honored to accept the endorsement of the Independent Party of Connecticut,” Pacileo said. “The Independent Party is dedicated to ensuring open, honest government, with realistic objectives. My campaign is equally committed to these goals. Voters look to their elected leaders for assurance that the government is operating with integrity and I will work to restore a culture of accountability and transparency in Hartford.”

“We are pleased to endorse Vin Pacileo for State Representative in the 36th District,” said Michael Telesca, State Chairman of the Independent Party of Connecticut. “I want to be clear that the Independent Party is not simply a rubber stamp for the Republican Party. As our name implies, we are independent. Vin is a worthy candidate for office in the eyes of Independent voters because his principled and evenhanded approach to governance are qualities necessary to solve the significant problems affecting our state.”

Pacileo continued, “The Independent Party endorsement of our campaign demonstrates the broad appeal of our message among independent-minded voters who want common sense leadership on the issues that affect our communities. My plan is to roll back the 2011 increases in income, sales, and business taxes supported by my opponent. In addition, I will work to restore the full $500 property tax credit for homeowners. These actions, combined with thoughtful budgetary reductions, will bring a halt to the culture of uncontrolled spending that exists in Hartford.”

The 36th Assembly District is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

 

Pacileo Endorses Rails to Trails Proposal

Vincent A. Pacileo, III

AREAWIDE – Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for the 36th State House District, today announced his endorsement of the Rails to Trails proposal that would convert approximately 9.25 miles of Connecticut Valley Railroad track – running from Eagle Landing State Park in Tylerville north to Maromos in Middletown – to a multi-purpose trail that would be open to the public.  Currently, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) leases this stretch of track to the Valley Railroad.

Speaking in support of the proposal, Pacileo said, “It is a goal of my campaign to create an environment of opportunity for individuals, families, and business owners throughout the 36th District.  This is an excellent example of local residents driving an idea that will bring substantial benefits to the community. It is because of their demonstrated robust enthusiasm for the project that I know it will continue to gain momentum for success.”

“For many years, my family has enjoyed the year-round experiences that the Valley Railroad provides, particularly the unique riverfront views. We are all vested in its continued success as a destination for residents and visitors and must work cooperatively with the Valley Railroad by sustaining an ongoing dialogue that includes sound business planning. Using this approach, the Rails to Trails proposal is not only compatible with the Valley Railroad’s goals, but will enhance their operations as well. This is accomplished by generating more diverse marketing prospects while expanding ridership to bikers, hikers and those interested in exploring this portion of the Connecticut River and the Lower Connecticut River Valley.”

Pacileo continued, “The portion of track under consideration has remained unused for decades and is in disrepair. It is neither a sound business decision nor a practical application to use this track for freight or passenger traffic. As a result, the Rails to Trails proposal will provide a unique opportunity to bring both environmental and economic benefits to Haddam and the entire 36th District. If we work together, we can make this vision a reality.”

The 36th Assembly District is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

 

Jim Crawford’s Campaign Responds to Partisan Attack

WESTBROOK — Less than 48 hours after the conclusion of Tuesday’s primary elections, Jim Crawford, the Democratic candidate for State Senate from the 33rd District, was hit with a partisan attack from his Republican opponent. The negative statement attempted to begin the general election campaign by making political hay of a recent tragedy in Meriden, CT.

Crawford’s campaign manager David Steuber responded with the following statement:

“It is very disappointing that Mr. Linares has chosen to begin his general election campaign by choosing a partisan attack fueled by the more extreme members of his party, which attempts to score points on a recent tragedy,” Steuber said.

The messaging on the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program began with State Sen. Len Suzio, who promptly had to apologize for racially insensitive language when first making his case on the issue. Suzio also asked for assistance freeing an inmate under the program who was convicted of embezzlement.

“Had Mr. Linares asked ranking Republican leaders who voted for the bill, he would have learned that it saved taxpayers millions in incarceration costs, and actually increased the length of time served by criminals like the Meriden suspect.”

In the Meriden case which Mr. Linares raises, Rep. Crawford’s vote resulted in the accused individual serving more time than he otherwise would have: 91% of his full sentence, rather than only 85% under preexisting law. Ranking Republicans in the General Assembly voted in both the Appropriations Committee and the Judiciary Committee to create the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program.

Forty five of 50 states, including Texas, already have similar cost-saving legislation on the books.

“It’s a shame to see Mr. Linares begin this general election campaign with such a partisan attack. We just finished a very civil, respectful primary this summer. I hope the Republicans will give some consideration to that example for the fall,” said Steuber.

Linares Invites Opponent to Join Call to Suspend Early Release Program

Art Linares, candidate for State Senate in the 33rd district

Art Linares, candidate for State Senate in the 33rd district, last week urged his opponent to join him in asking Governor Dannel Malloy to suspend the early release program for violent criminals.

“The cold-blooded murder of Ibrahim Ghazal on June 27th was tragic proof that early release is a threat to our community,” said Linares.  “Public safety must be the first priority of government.  I urge Governor Malloy to suspend this misguided program immediately, and I urge Representative Crawford to join me in that demand.”

Under the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program, violent felons—including armed robbers, arsonists, terrorists, rapists, and repeat sex offenders—are eligible for early release from prison if they attend certain classes and meet other bureaucratic criteria.  Frank Resto, accused of the murder of Mr. Ghazal, was released under the program, despite a history of violent behavior in prison.

“I don’t know what Representative Crawford was thinking when he voted to let these criminals out early,” said Linares.  “Not only did he support the bill, but he voted against amendments that would have removed sex offenders and violent criminals from the program.

“Whatever his reasoning, now that we’ve seen the results of this policy, it’s time to do the right thing and suspend the program.  Meanwhile we are all in danger, and I honestly believe it’s only a matter of time until early release results in another horrific attack.

“It’s clear that oversight and review required to make such a program work safely simply aren’t in place.  Until that happens—and until the legislature has a chance to revisit the topic next session—we should keep violent criminals behind bars until their sentences are served.

“I believe that’s what the people of this district want—it’s what I will work for as a State Senator, and what I believe has to happen now.”

Linares Urges Governor To Suspend Early Release Of Violent Criminals Blasts Crawford For Voting For Dangerous and Irresponsible Program

Art Linares, R-33, candidate for State Senator

Art Linares, R-33, candidate for State Senator, today urged Gov. Dannel Malloy to suspend the Risk Reduction Earned Credit (RREC) program, in light of a recent murder committed by a repeat violent criminal let out of prison early under the program.

“This tragedy has caused serious concern throughout the state about the wisdom of the program and the method of its implementation,” Linares wrote in his letter to the governor. “Because public safety must be our first priority, I urge you to suspend the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program, pending an investigation into its procedures and a thorough review by the legislature next year.”

“What was State Representative Jim Crawford thinking when he voted for this reckless program? He stood with the apologists for violent criminals, and against public safety”, Linares stated.

Linares referenced the cold-blooded murder of 70 year-old Ibrahim Ghazal, a small business owner shot in his store in Meriden on June 27. Inmate Frankie Resto, a violent repeat criminal released under the RREC program, stands accused of the crime.

Resto was sentenced in 2007 for two cases of armed robbery. “Resto qualified for early release even though his behavior in prison showed he had not reformed,” Linares said. “While a prisoner, he was cited for theft and fighting in 2006; for assault and for conspiring to possess contraband in 2007; for fighting and assault in 2008; for disobedience in 2009, at which time he was identified as a gang member and a special security risk; and just last year, for intoxication and for setting fire to his mattress.

“Where is the evidence that this man was ready to reenter society?” Linares asked. “How could this man have been released before his sentence was completed?”

“Michelle Cruz, The Connecticut Victim Advocate, stated that this misguided early release scheme is a “danger” to the citizens of our state. We must heed her warning,” Linares said.

According to the Department of Corrections, 7,589 inmates have been released through the RREC program since it began in September of last year. “I don’t believe we can afford to wait,” Linares wrote to the governor. “The risks of the program have been all too vividly demonstrated, and another such tragedy remains a daily threat.”

Violent criminals belong behind bars, and I will work to keep them there, ”Linares concluded.

 

Contact Art Linares Headquarters at 860 391 8458 for details.

Jim Crawford is Approved for Public Financing

Jim Crawford, the endorsed Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 33rd Senatorial District

WESTBROOK — Jim Crawford, the endorsed Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 33rd Senatorial District, announced today that his campaign has received final approval for public financing under Connecticut’s Citizens’ Elections Program—the nation’s leading clean elections initiative.

Crawford’s campaign had successfully raised the necessary $15,000 in donations of $100 or less from more than 300 local donors over two weeks ago, but waited until its application received final approval late last week before making an announcement.

“I am delighted to be participating in public campaign financing, and to have qualified through the support of hundreds of small local donors. Now I can focus entirely on talking to voters about the issues that matter most—growing our economy again, and creating the jobs that so many people need,” said Crawford.

He continued, “The Citizen’s Elections Program has successfully removed the influence of big corporate money on state politics in Connecticut, and more candidates are now running for office than ever before. Compared to what is happening in other states in the aftermath of Citizens United, Connecticut is leading the country by example, showing how clean campaigns can be waged and won. Every Connecticut resident, of all parties, should be proud of this system.”

Jim Crawford, currently serving his first term as a State Representative, is a native of the 33rd Senatorial District. He served as an officer in the US Army after college, then began a 37-year teaching career in the Westbrook Public Schools. During that time, Jim also owned and operated a small business, the Maples Motel, with his wife Elaine. They have two grown children.

The 33rd Senatorial District is comprised of twelve towns which stretch from shore of Long Island Sound up the Connecticut River toward the center of the state: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Vin Pacileo Qualifies for Public Financing

Vin Pacileo, the Republican candidate for State Representative in the 36th District

AREAWIDE – Vin Pacileo, the Republican candidate for State Representative in the 36th District, today announced that his campaign submitted the required documents to qualify for funding under the Connecticut Citizens’ Election Program.

“This is a great accomplishment for our campaign. My thanks to the people of the 36th District for their support and enthusiasm, which has allowed us to meet the public financing requirements,” Pacileo said. “Our campaign received contributions from 191 individuals for a total of $6,050. We are proud that 93 percent of the contributors and dollars came from individuals who reside in the 36th District.”

Vin is currently the Director of Administrative Services for the Town of Stonington, Connecticut where he leads the labor relations, human resources and information technology organizations. In addition, he served for three terms on the Board of Selectman in Essex and prior to that service, was elected to the Essex Board of Finance and Essex Elementary School Board of Education. He is an active member of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, serving as a Lector and Eucharistic Minister, and is a member of the Knights of Columbus organization.

“Now that our campaign has qualified for public financing, we can continue focusing our energy on engaging the residents of the 36th District,” Pacileo said. “People remain frustrated with the State’s poor economy, higher taxes, and out of control spending. They want a return to common sense leadership that creates an environment of opportunity for individuals, families, and business owners.”

The 36th Assembly District is made up of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Rep. Phil Miller Endorses Jim Crawford for State Senate

ESSEX -- State Rep. Philip J. Miller (D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, Haddam), offered his support today to Jim Crawford, the party endorsed Democratic candidate for State Senator from the 33rd District.

“Jim Crawford knows how important it is to protect our local environment and I have no doubt he will be a staunch defender of it,” Miller said, “Jim raised his family here, taught several generations of students here, and ran a family business here for more than two decades,” Miller said.

Rep. Miller is Vice Chair of the General Assembly’s Environment Committee and serves with Crawford in the state House of Representatives. Both are serving their first terms as legislators and have worked closely together as their districts border one another.

Miller pointed to Crawford’s 100% 2012 legislative rating from the League of Conservation voters along with his bipartisan work on the Shoreline Preservation Task Force to protect the shoreline from rising sea levels. He also praised Crawford for his efforts on the Energy & Technology Committee.

“The groundbreaking energy legislation Jim helped to pass last year has put Connecticut on the map as a leader in renewable energy. Dozens of Connecticut renewable energy companies are now growing rapidly thanks to the programs created in that bill.”

Crawford pledged to continue his work to protect the local environment.

“The Connecticut River valley and Long Island Sound are defining characteristics of our region, essential to its character and our local economy in so many ways. I will always make their conservation a top priority,” Crawford said.

The 33rd Senatorial District is comprised of twelve towns which stretch from shore of Long Island Sound up the Connecticut River toward the center of the state. The towns include Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

CT League of Conservation Voters Names Phil Miller Legislative Champion

State Representative Phil Miller who is serving his first term representing the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. He is Vice Chair of the legislature’s Environment Committee.

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) has named State Representative Phil Miller, who represents Chester, Deep River, Essex, Haddam in the Connecticut General Assembly, a ‘Legislative Champion’ for fighting proactively to promote the state’s open space plan and advancing the GMO (genetically modified organisms) labeling bill.

“I’m humbled to be so recognized. I am grateful to the people of Haddam, Chester, Deep River and Essex for encouraging me to vote well on conservation issues which help ensure air and water quality in Connecticut. I also want to thank the Speaker of the House, Chris Donovan, for appointing me Vice Chair of the Environment Committee in my first term,” said Rep. Miller, who has received a perfect environmental score two years in a row.

“Phil spent every day ensuring that all significant legislation we supported stayed on the agenda of committees and his chamber. Environment was his top priority this session, and his enthusiasm and support for even the most difficult issues—from GMO labeling to reducing chemical exposure to children to water conservation incentives—really helped make this year a good year for the environment at the Capitol. We applaud his work” said CTLCV Executive Director Lori Brown.

CTLCV annually grades lawmakers on their environmental voting record. Rep. Flexer received a perfect score of 100% in The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters’ 2012 Environmental Scorecard. This year the scorecard grades legislators’ votes on 15 bills that came up during the 2012 legislative session.

Formed in 1998, the bipartisan CTLCV works on laws that affect Connecticut’s air, water, wildlife, open space, transportation, energy choices, and health.

Klinck Receives Realtor Endorsement

Mary Ellen Klinck, State Senate candidate for the 33rd District, received the endorsement of the Connecticut Association of Realtors and the support of its PAC.  Joseph Christ, chair of the Realtors’ PAC, stated, “We support candidates from all occupations, not just real estate professionals, who possess attributes favorable to free enterprise, private property rights, and housing opportunities and choices.  We seek allies to promote and protect the American Dream.”

Klinck, a realtor for many years, is President of Century 21 Real Estate in East Haddam, where her daughter Kathleen is Vice-President and broker for the office.

Presently on the State Commission on Aging, Klinck has been an East Haddam Selectman, Chairman of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, and for 8 years the State Commissioner on Aging.

“We need honest leadership, open government, job creation, and affordable housing,” said Klinck.  “In addition to the real estate office, I have owned an insurance agency and a good-sized restaurant.  I know the problems and benefits that go with running a successful business.  Other priorities include education, elderly issues, and the environment.

I am pleased with the realtors’ endorsement,” she added, “and will work tirelessly to win the Democratic primary on August 14th and to win the election in November.”

Sen. Eileen Daily Endorses Jim Crawford for State Senate

WESTBROOK — Incumbent State Senator Eileen Daily (D-Westbrook) announced her endorsement today of Democratic State Representative Jim Crawford to be the next State Senator from the 33rd District, the position from which she is retiring at the end of the year.

Jim Crawford is the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for the seat, having won the Democratic Convention in May. A primary will be held August 14th.
“I am pleased to support Jim Crawford,” said Senator Daily, “He is qualified, experienced, and ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead.  He taught both of my children when they were in school, and in a long and varied career, he has demonstrated good judgment and solid character time and again.”
Crawford spent nearly four decades as a teacher in the Westbrook Public Schools. He served as an officer in the US Army, and in recent years was elected twice as a Selectman for the Town of Westbrook. He currently serves as the State Representative for the towns of Clinton, Killingworth, and Westbrook. He and his wife Elaine also owned a small business, the Maples Motel in Westbrook, for over twenty years.
“Jim brings a great deal of experience to the table, but perhaps his most valuable insight is his perspective as a small business owner. I know that as a State Senator, he will work tirelessly to get our economy back on track and create the good paying jobs we need,” Daily added.
Jim Crawford said, “I thank Senator Daily very much for her support, and for her twenty years of service to our community. I am flattered by her endorsement, and am sure she will have an active retirement. I look forward to working with her on matters of local concern far into the future.”
The 33rd Senatorial District is comprised of twelve towns which stretch from the shore of Long Island Sound up the Connecticut River toward the center of the state. They include: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Ed Munster Endorses Art Linares for State Senate

Art Linares running for the 33rd district State Senate

The last Republican Senator to serve the people of the 33rd district, Ed Munster has announced his support for Art Linares of Westbrook CT for the position he once held. Calling Linares the future of the Republican Party, Munster called upon his former constituents to join the campaign and donate to Linares who is in the process of raising money for his campaign in November.

Munster, a former Congressional candidate, who came very close to winning the election in 1994, made his opinion known in a letter to the Linares campaign earlier this week. He called upon all Republicans to rally behind Linares who is seeking the Senate office for the first time.  Linares is a confident, intelligent and dynamic candidate who can think outside the box and bring a different way of thinking to Hartford. He is a strong and hardworking candidate who has the best chance of winning the Senate seat for the first time in a long time, according to Munster.  Linares in a phone conversation thanked Munster for his support and asked Munster for continued  advice going into November.

Linares is the founder of Green Skies energy in Middletown and is a former aide to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, working in his Washington DC office until this past December.

For more information Contact: Ben Mitchell Presssecretary@artlinares.com

Joanne Beekley Appointed as Assistant Superintendent of Schools

The Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Region 4 Boards of Education are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Joanne Beekley to the position of Assistant Superintendent of Schools. Beekley most recently served as the Principal of Essex Elementary School for the past eight years. She has been an integral part of the leadership team within the Region 4 Schools at the district level.  Beekley is an experienced administrator who has established positive relationships, while making excellent student centered decisions.

Beekley received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Central Connecticut State University, as well as her Master of Science degree in Language Arts, and her Sixth Year Certification in Educational Leadership. She completed her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

Beekley began her career as an elementary classroom teacher. She went on to teach English Language Learners before becoming a Language Arts Consultant.  She has been in administration since 1995. The interview committee was very impressed with Beekley’s knowledge and understanding of curriculum and instruction, professional development, and her administrative background, in addition to her commitment to excellence for all students. Beekley has a strong commitment to the Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Region 4 Schools. She has built strong positive relationships within her school and the community at large. The administrative team has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Beekley in her role as principal, and look forward to working together with her as the Assistant Superintendent.

Beekley resides in Higganum with her husband. We look forward to her beginning as Assistant Superintendent of Schools on July 1st, 2012.

The Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Region 4 Boards of Education are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Joanne Beekley to the position of Assistant Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Beekley most recently served as the Principal of Essex Elementary School for the past eight years. She has been an integral part of the leadership team within the Region 4 Schools at the district level. Dr. Beekley is an experienced administrator who has established positive relationships, while making excellent student centered decisions.
Dr. Beekley received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Central Connecticut State University, as well as her Master of Science degree in Language Arts, and her Sixth Year Certification in Educational Leadership. Dr. Beekley completed her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.
Dr. Joanne Beekley began her career as an elementary classroom teacher. She went on to teach English Language Learners before becoming a Language Arts Consultant. Dr. Beekley has been in administration since 1995. The interview committee was very impressed with Dr. Beekley’s knowledge and understanding of curriculum and instruction, professional development, and her administrative background, in addition to her commitment to excellence for all students. Dr. Beekley has a strong commitment to the Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Region 4 Schools. Dr. Beekley has built strong positive relationships within her school and the community at large. The administrative team has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Dr. Beekley in her role as principal, and look forward to working together with her as the Assistant Superintendent.
Dr. Beekley resides in Higganum with her husband. We look forward to Dr. Beekley beginning as Assistant Superintendent of Schools on July 1st, 2012.

Valley Regional High School End of Year Activities

Valley Regional High School Principal, Mrs. Kristina Martineau, has scheduled the following end of year activities at the high school:

Graduation Exercises – June 21.  The 61th Annual Commencement Exercises will be held outdoors on the field hockey/lacrosse field on Thursday, June 21, 2012 beginning at 6:30 p.m.  This year’s graduating class consists of 151 seniors.  The three top-ranking seniors will be the featured speakers at the commencement exercises.

Last day of school – June 21.   School will close for the summer on Thursday, June 21, 2012.   This will be a single session day ending at 12:20 p.m.   In the summer, the school offices will be open during the weekdays from 8:00 until 3:00 p.m.

CIRMA Honors Town of Essex with its Risk Management Achievement Award

The Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency (CIRMA) awarded the Town of Essex a Risk Management Achievement Award for 2012 for the Town’s sustained efforts to improve safety. Over the last five years the Town has hosted over a dozen CIRMA risk management training programs. Its Health and Safety Committee has actively investigated accidents to identify and correct their root causes. The Town’s leadership, and its Park and Recreation Department especially, has consulted with CIRMA on a number of risk management issues to prevent accidents and reduce liability. First Selectman Norm Needleman and Maria Lucarelli, Assistant to the Selectman, accepted the award on behalf of the Town at the May 18th ceremony in Rocky Hill.

Bruce A. Wollschlager, CIRMA Chief Executive Officer, said, “Risk management is driven not by programs, but by motivated people. This year’s award recipients demonstrate that our members own their programs and have created successful results because of it. Their efforts make CIRMA and their communities better.” CIRMA’s mission is to reduce losses and their costs by improving its members’ understanding of risk and the ways to control and manage it. CIRMA’s Risk Management Achievement Awards program was begun in 1981 to recognize the risk management and safety initiatives that prevent accidents and make positive improvements in Connecticut communities. The program provides CIRMA members a forum in which they can share ideas and learn new methods to reduce losses.

For more information about CIRMA’s Risk Management Achievement Award Program, please contact David Demchak, Senior Vice President, CIRMA, at ddemchak@ccm-ct.org, or visit our website at CIRMA.org. About CIRMA CIRMA has operated since 1980 as a service program of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, an association of towns and cities. CIRMA, owned and governed by its members, operates two risk-sharing pools, the Workers’ Compensation Pool and the Liability-Automobile-Property Pool. It provides risk management services to self-insured municipalities and local public agencies. Today, CIRMA’s membership includes 84% of the state’s municipalities and has premiums totaling $75 million and assets under management in excess of $300 million.

Neil Nichols Steps Aside as Republican Candidate in 33rd District Senate Race; Endorses Art Linares as Republican Candidate

Neil Nichols, the endorsed Republican candidate for the 33rd District Senatorial race, has announced that he is stepping aside to allow Art Linares to run as the Republican candidate for the seat.  Nichols made the announcement at a joint press conference with Linares outside Essex Town Hall on Friday, May 25th.

Nichols told the crowd that when he entered this race he informed his committee and his family that he would step aside if another talented and capable candidate decided to run for the seat. Nichols has been involved in Republican politics for a long time with a goal of recruiting and electing qualified young Republicans who hold fiscal conservative views.

“Art Linares has the innovative spirit, common sense, intelligence and conservative focus we need in our state government.” said Nichols. “In addition, he has proven that he is a stellar campaigner and capable of capturing the imagination of all voters throughout our district.”

During his many years of dedicated service to the Republican Party, Nichols’ efforts have encouraged greater participation in the party and the political process.  Through his efforts many qualified Republicans have become more involved and run for office.  “Art is one of those Republicans,” said Nichols.  “He is a wonderful representative of a rejuvenated Republican Party in Connecticut.”

Nichols pledged to actively support Art throughout the campaign.  He urged all voters to get to know Art saying, “Once you do, you’ll want to support to his candidacy.”

Sen. Daily to Retire from Legislature upon Completion of Current Term

Hartford – State Senator Eileen M. Daily (D-Westbrook) today announced her intention to retire from the General Assembly upon completion of her current term. Senator Daily has prepared a letter for political allies, supporters, and delegates to next week’s 33 rd Senatorial District nominating convention explaining she will not stand for re-election this year.

Senator Daily has represented the towns and residents of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook in the state Senate since 1993. Senator Daily is a former First Selectman of Westbrook and prior to that served on its Board of Education.

“Replacement and renewal are integral to the revitalization of any institution,” Senator Daily said. “In the past year holding office has become more physically demanding for me and it would be difficult to initiate a re-election campaign. I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, endured chemotherapy and associated treatment, and am presently recuperating from a broken ankle.”

“During the last weeks of this session I was challenged to maintain the pace required at the Capitol. As I review my 20-year tenure and consider the future I’ve settled on this plan with complete confidence that it’s time for another voice to speak for this district,” Senator Daily said. “I am also literally blessed with a loving husband and family – Jim and I eagerly look forward to spending more time with our children and grandchildren.”

While in office Senator Daily co-authored breakthrough legislation creating the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP), through which grants are available for large-scale public works projects that might be otherwise unaffordable for small towns. Senator Daily also co-authored legislation creating a fund for open space acquisition statewide, and was instrumental in preserving many acres of open space in her district.

Senator Daily identified completion of several short and long-term projects among the many gratifying instances of bringing state resources to bear in her district:

  • Sediment detention and ice control in a federal/state Salmon River Flood Control Project.
  • Inclusion of the beautiful Eight Mile River Watershed within the national Wild and Scenic River program.
  • A comprehensive, federal/state dredging project for the Westbrook harbor, announced earlier this spring, to begin next fall.
  • Acquisition of property in Haddam for new athletic and recreational fields.
  • Grants to 33rd District towns through STEAP for infrastructure improvement.

“Connecticut’s 33rd Senatorial District is home to some of the most beautiful natural treasures our state has to share and its voters have repeatedly given me the distinction and decidedly good fortune to advocate for this area all this time,” Senator Daily said. “Nevertheless the day-to-day opportunity I’ve had to serve and help constituents overshadows successful completion of these public works projects and policy initiatives.”

Senator Daily said her office remains open and available, as always, to help municipal government officials and constituents.

Ivoryton Library Association Announces Resignation of Director Robbi Storms

The Board of Directors of The Ivoryton Library Association regretfully announces the resignation of its longtime Director, Robbi Storms. For the past 17 years, Robbi dedicated herself to the success of the Library and the Ivoryton community. Her many accomplishments include co-authoring with Don Malcarne and publishing books which captured the history of our community as well as producing an amazing documentary entitled “Legacies of White Gold” which tells the story of our history through the ivory trade.

Due to Robbi’s exhaustive efforts, the Library has amassed a collection of historical archives which has been utilized by researchers on local and international levels. She worked with the Essex Historical Society and collaborated with the Connecticut State Library. Robbi also brought opera programs, art exhibits and foreign language classes to our community. Recently, Robbi proposed the development of the Ivoryton Alliance which resulted in a group of concerned citizens and business owners joining together for the betterment of all with events such as the Ivoryton Illuminations.

Despite the Board’s invitation to Robbi to continue her work at the library, she has opted to resign. It is with gratitude and appreciation for her extensive service to the Library, the Board of Directors, the staff and our many volunteers wish Robbi all the very best in her new ventures and know that she will always be a part of the Ivoryton Library legacy.

For the immediate future, our assistant director Elizabeth Alvord will be assuming responsibilities as Interim Director.

Region 4 Students Star in MATHCOUNTS Competition

Region 4 students star in MATHCOUNTS competition (from left to right) Charlotte Boland, Sean Watson, Marly Toledano, Julia Hammond, Ian Connelly

On Saturday, February 4, ten students (4 team members and 6 individuals) from John Winthrop Middle School competed in the Eastern Regional MATHCOUNTS competition at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.  The top seven teams were invited to attend the State competition, held at the University of Hartford in early March, and John Winthrop is one of them!

Twenty-six teams attended the competition and over 200 students participated. John Winthrop 8th grader, Sean Watson, came in 10th place overall. In addition, Julia Hammond scored high enough to attend the state competition as an individual.

MATHCOUNTS is a nationwide middle school math program run by the National Society of Professional Engineers. Math Counts is providing today’s students with the foundation for success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. Currently in their 29th year, MATHCOUNTS is one of the country’s largest and most successful education partnerships involving volunteers, educators, industry sponsors and students.

President Barack Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald W. Reagan have all recognized MATHCOUNTS in White House ceremonies. The MATHCOUNTS program has also received two White House citations as an outstanding private sector initiative.

Particularly exciting for our Mathletes® were the hour-long ESPN programs on each of the National Competitions from 2003-2005. In 2011 the National Competition returned to ESPN with a live broadcast on ESPN3.

Rep. Phil Miller: Free Tax Prep & Filing Help Available

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller, who represents Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam in the Connecticut General Assembly, is encouraging residents to take advantage of free tax preparation services available through the IRS Free File program.

“IRS Free File is a great service to help you easily prepare and file your taxes at no cost,” said Rep. Phil Miller. “I encourage folks who made less than 57,000 last year to take at look at using it.”

Since beginning in 2003, IRS Free File has offered low-to-moderate income taxpayers free access to leading commercial tax preparation software. This year, every taxpayer with a 2011 Adjusted Gross Income of $57,000 or less may visit www.IRS.gov/efile to prepare, complete and e-file their federal and state tax returns at no cost.

Taxpayers may visit the IRS website, www.IRS.gov , and click on the “Free File” icon. Users will find a list of Free File Alliance member companies and may either choose the one that fits their needs or utilize the “help me find a company” tool. After selecting a company, taxpayers will be transferred to the company’s website to prepare, complete and electronically file their federal income tax returns. Three of the 19 participating software companies also offer services in Spanish.

Free assistance in completing Connecticut returns is available from the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) by telephone at (800)382-9463 or in person at their Hartford Office. Residents can also call 2-1-1 to find local tax preparation assistance options.

Phil Miller is serving his first term representing the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. He is Vice Chair of the legislature’s Environment Committee.

Community Music School Now Accepting New Registrations for Spring

CENTERBROOK – Community Music School, located at 90 Main Street, Centerbrook, is now enrolling students for the Spring 2012 semester. Private lessons, group classes, Kindermusik, and music therapy services begin the week of January 30. In addition, Cabaret Singers with Karli Gilbertson, Adult Beginning Group Piano, and Introduction to Singing for ages 8 to 11 are offered. Financial aid is available for private instruction and most group classes. A complete list of programs is available online at www.community-music-school.org, by calling 860-767-0026 or visiting Community Music School Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.

Rep. Phil Miller Joins State Leaders to Support National Healthcare Act

State Representative Phil Miller (D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam) joined with other lawmakers at the state capitol in support of a U.S. Supreme Court filing defending the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The case will be heard by the high court in March.

In conjunction with the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform, hundreds of lawmakers from across the nation joined forces to announce and demonstrate their support of the Amicus Brief. The legislators’ brief argues that the Constitution gives broad power to the federal government to act in cases where a national solution is necessary. The ACA capitalizes on state innovations by setting a minimum coverage floor and giving states considerable policy flexibility.

“I’m proud to stand here today supporting the Affordable Care Act which has already helped many state residents by preventing insurers from dropping people from coverage when they get really sick and denying children with pre-existing conditions health insurance,” said Rep. Phil Miller.

The ACA has already provided benefits to children with pre-existing conditions, who can no longer be denied health insurance; individuals who cannot be kicked off their policies when they get sick; and young adults who can stay on their parents’ policies until age 26. More residents will save money on their health care when the law is fully implemented in 2014.

The show of support for the Affordable Care Act in Connecticut was part of a larger demonstration of support for the law across the nation this week, as over 500 state legislators representing all 50 states signed on to the Amicus Brief defending the law. The brief will be filed this Friday and was prepared in conjunction with the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform (a national group of state legislators working to advance health reform and implement the Affordable Care Act), Progressive States Network, and the Constitutional Accountability Center.The full text of the Amicus Brief will be available at: www.progressivestates.org/ACAamicus

Phil Miller is serving his first term representing the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. He is Vice Chair of the legislature’s Environment Committee.

Rep. Phil Miller Named to Vice Chair of Environment Committee

State Representative Phil Miller has been named Vice-Chair of the legislature’s Environment Committee by House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan (D-Meriden).

“The Environment Committee’s work is vital—from protecting Connecticut’s natural resources and open space to improving the quality of our air and water,” said Miller. “I’m truly honored to have been appointed to the leadership of such an important committee in my first year at the legislature.”

The committee conducts public hearings, issues reports of its findings and originates legislation  concerning the environment, including conservation, recreation, pollution control, fisheries and game, state parks and forests, water resources and flood and erosion control. The committee also has oversight over all agricultural matters, including farming, dairy products and domestic animals.

“Agriculture is important to Connecticut—and to our economy. It contributes $3.5 billion and 20,000 jobs to the state’s economy.” said Miller. “Protecting and preserving Connecticut’s farms is a top priority for me.”

Since being elected in a special election last winter, Miller has been a strong voice at the capitol on environmental issues. The Essex Democrat was one of only 29 state representatives to earn a 100 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters this year.

In addition to the Environment Committee, Miller will continue to serve on the legislature’s Human Services, and Public Health Committees.

Courtney Approves Iraq Withdrawal Plans by President

A message from Congressman Joe Courtney.

Rep. Courtney and Connecticut's Captain Frank R. DuVerger III in Afghanistan this month

Last week, President Obama announced that all U.S. military personnel will be out of Iraq by the end of the year. Many of our servicemen and women who have been away from their families for too many birthdays, milestones and celebrations during the war will be home this holiday season.

President Obama’s decision to protect U.S. military personnel from unacceptable exposure to prosecution in Iraqi courts and instead execute the final removal of American troops from Iraq is the right decision for both countries. This milestone was achieved through negotiations between our two countries that provided a clear path for the transition of responsibility to the Iraqi government. After eight long years, our brave volunteers have given that country the opportunity to create its own future with a sizable security force and the rudiments of democratic institutions.

With the Fifth Fleet nearby in Bahrain and U.S. bases in Kuwait and Qatar, our ability to respond to any threat to American national security in the region is more than adequate. As the President said, our two nations will continue to have a special relationship for many years to come, built on the sacrifice and effort of our troops. Now is the time to pay particular homage to all who served in Iraq and their families – the “one percent” who have stepped up and volunteered to wear our nation’s uniform through a difficult time in our history.

On the ground in Afghanistan

 Of course, even as American troops leave Iraq, our servicemen and women remain on the ground in Afghanistan. Earlier this month, as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I visited the country, where I was briefed on operations, met with Connecticut troops and top commanders, and learned more about the training of Afghan police and military personnel. Most importantly, General John Allen, commander of U.S./NATO troops, gave an encouraging brief on the planned draw down of U.S. troops: 10,000 this year and 23,000 by the fall of 2012. 48% of the Afghan nation will be under the control of the Afghanis in the near future, and the transition will continue until full control of Afghanistan’s future is in the hands of the Afghan people.

This was my third trip to Afghanistan since coming to Congress, and the progress was plain to see. More girls and young women are traveling to and from school, the education system has improved, and security forces are better trained and better equipped to keep the peace. While there are substantial hurdles left to clear, these are encouraging milestones that demonstrate movement in the right direction.

But to have gotten to this point – a place where real progress is clear – is a testament to the strength, bravery and resolve our military. As the war in Iraq winds down, their hard work has brought us to a place where, after 10 long years, Afghans are on the brink of reclaiming their country and their future.

Town of Essex Seeking Commission Members

The Town of Essex is looking for registered voter citizen volunteers to serve. There are available vacant positions for the following Commissions:

  • Two Alternates on the Conservation Commission – 3 year term
  • An Alternate on the Park and Recreation Commission – 3 year term
  • Regular and Alternate Member of the (dual) Sanitary Waste Commission and Water Pollution Control Authority – 2 year term
  • An Alternate on Zoning Board of Appeals – 3 year term
  • A Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency Member – 2 year term 

Commitments vary, as some are filling vacancies with tenure limits.  These Commissions meet monthly, and the recent posted agendas and minutes may be viewed at www.essexct.gov under Meeting Information.

Please send letter of interest to the Selectmen’s Office, 29 West Avenue , Essex , CT 06426 or by email to pmiller@essexct.gov

 Maria P. Lucarelli
Administrative Assistant to the Board of Selectmen
Town of Essex
(860) 767-4340 x112
(860) 767-8509 Fax

Phil Miller: Will Vote No On Any Budget Without Comprehensive Property Tax Reform Plan

ESSEX, CT– Essex First Selectman and 36th District State Representative candidate Phil Miller today responded to Governor Malloy’s budget address, saying he will not vote for any budget proposal until the legislature has a comprehensive plan for property tax reform.

“I’ve balanced budgets here in Essex for the past eight years. I’ve made the painful cuts necessary to fund local programs, and I applaud Governor Malloy for his efforts to cut billions in spending. I know from experience tough decisions aren’t easy.” Miller said, “But we must go further to reduce the tax burden, and the time for real, concrete property tax reform is now. I will go to Hartford and fight for that change next week.”

Miller’s opponent Janet Peckinpaugh was caught off guard when asked about property tax reform at a recent debate in Essex, telling the audience “Wow. That’s something I really haven’t thought about.” A clip of her response to the question can be found here.

“All of my opponent’s talk on taxes rings hollow,” Miller said, “If you haven’t thought about property taxes, how can you fight to reduce them? I think about property taxes every day as the First Selectman of Essex. This archaic system needs a major overhaul to lift the burden of this regressive tax on our citizens.”

“Our state is facing the worst fiscal mess in decades and it will take very difficult choices to balance the budget. It won’t be pleasant—but the hard choices never are. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to go to Hartford and fight for the interests of the people of this District, and have an honest discussion about the needs of our state, starting with reforming the property tax system,” Miller added.

Phil Miller, elected Essex First Selectman in 2003, has an established record passing balanced budgets and reducing the size of local government.

The 36th District includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.