August 22, 2017

Linares Hosts Town Hall Meeting in Chester

State Senator (R) Art Linares

State Senator (R) Art Linares

Sen. Art Linares hosted a Town Hall Meeting yesterday evening at the Chester Town Hall Community Room.

Linares had invited the public to hear the latest update from the State Capitol and to have their questions answered.

 

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Essex First Selectman Needleman Has Strong Admiration, Fond Memories of his “Friend and Mentor” Dick Smith

Two friends -- the late Dick Smith, First Selectman of Deep River (left) and Norman Needleman, First Selectman of Essex. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

Two friends — the late Dick Smith, First Selectman of Deep River (left) and Norman Needleman, First Selectman of Essex. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX — Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman paid tribute to the late Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith in a statement sent to ValleyNewsNow.com.  Needleman said, “Dick was a wonderful guy. He frequently told me how much he loved his family and his job. They were the lights in his life. He managed Deep River as a family, from the staff that worked for him to the residents he loved.”

Needleman continued, “He was an amazing First Selectman (26 years, I think) and an outstanding police officer (44 years) who dedicated his life to making Deep River and the entire Connecticut River Valley the wonderful place that it is. He was a friend and mentor who listened well and made whoever he was with feel special. His love of people made him the ultimate type of public servant.”

Finally, expressing the opinion likely shared by many, he said, “I am going to really miss him.”

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Courtney, Linares Pay Tribute to Dick Smith, Services Announced

Dick Smith: A man for all seasons, for all reasons ... and for every job in town.

Dick Smith: A man for all seasons, for all reasons … and for every job in town.

DEEP RIVER — Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) issued the following statement after the passing of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith:

“Dick was the iconic small town First Selectman who did everything from running town meetings, to plowing snow, to cleaning up storm damage with public works, as well as crowd control at the Deep River Muster, and attending every community event in town. Deep River is one of Connecticut’s jewels because it had a leader like Dick, who was always there to help those in need and help the town grow smartly. Dick was a friend whose support I will always remember and treasure, and he should live on as an example of a citizen-public servant to all who hold elected office.”

State Senator Art Linares (D-33rd), who represents Deep River, issued the following statement on the passing of First Selectman Dick Smith:

“Dick Smith epitomized Deep River. He was a friend to all and his advice was valued by Democrats and Republicans throughout the Connecticut River Valley. Dick was a role model public official who dedicated himself to serving his town and its residents. His loss is deeply saddening and our thoughts and prayers are with Dick’s family and the people of Deep River.”

Services for Dick Smith have now been announced as follows:

There will be a Candlelight Vigil on Monday, March 28, at Deep River Town Hall at dark (about 7:30 p.m.)

Calling hours will also be at the Town Hall on Tuesday, March 29, from5 to 8 p.m.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 30, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Chester at 11 a.m.

Deep River Town Hall Closings

Deep River Town Hall will close at noon on Tuesday and remain closed on Wednesday.  Normal business hours will resume on Thursday.

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Town of Deep River Announces Death of First Selectman Dick Smith

A file photo of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

A file photo of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

DEEP RIVER — The Town of Deep River has announced the passing yesterday afternoon (Friday, March 25) of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith. An announcement on the town’s website states, “The Town of Deep River has suffered a terrible loss in the passing of Dick Smith. The town has lost a leader of over 26 years, the community has lost a friend, and we are saddened beyond words, but its immediate thoughts are with Dick’s family, who has lost a father and a grandfather.” The statement adds, “Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

Details of services have not yet been announced.

Our reporter Charles Stannard wrote in an article published July 28, 2015, on ValleyNewsNow.com that Smith, then 64, was, “one of the longest serving municipal elected officials in Connecticut.”  The article also noted that Smith said he, “never considered stepping aside this year,” adding, “I love what I do, it’s like my extended family.” Smith told Stannard during the interview that his priorities for the next two years were, “Keeping taxes down as much as we can,” along with a firehouse renovation and expansion project.

Stannard also reported, “Smith’s last challenge for the top job came in 2007 from the now defunct Deep River Independent Party. He was uncontested for re-election in 2009, 2011, and 2013. Town Republicans have not nominated a candidate for first selectman since 2005.”

We extend our sincere condolences to Mr. Smith’s family.

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Senators Fight to Preserve Crucial Hospital Services

AREAWIDE – Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares met with area hospital officials at the Legislative Office Building on March 23 to discuss ways to protect vital health care services for vulnerable populations like the disabled, children and seniors.

To protect those most in need, Formica and Linares, along with Senate and House Republicans, are proposing a plan to restore the governor’s funding cuts to Connecticut hospitals. The 2016 session of the Connecticut General Assembly ends in May.

Sen. Formica (www.senatorformica.com) represents Bozrah, East Lyme, a portion of Montville, New London, Old Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

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

(L-R): Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Vice President of External Affairs Vin Petrini, Yale-New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom, Sen. Paul Formica, Yale-New Haven Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Gayle Capozzalo, and Sen. Art Linares.

(L-R): Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Vice President of External Affairs Vin Petrini, Yale-New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom, Sen. Paul Formica, Yale-New Haven Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Gayle Capozzalo, and Sen. Art Linares.

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Linares Welcomes Gillette Castle, Friends of CT Parks to State Capitol

SenatorLinaresFriendsofCTStateParks3-9-16 281 new On March 9, Sen. Art Linares (center) welcomed representatives from Connecticut State Parks to the State Capitol to mark State Parks Day. Discussions focused on ways to preserve, protect and enhance Connecticut’s state parks, including Gillette Castle State Park. This year, Linares is part of a first-of-its-kind effort to amend the state Constitution to better ensure protection of state-owned forests, parks, farmland and other conservation lands.

He is shown here with Harold Niver and Theodora Niver at the State Capitol. The Nivers bring William Gillette and his wife, Helen, to life in an entertaining and informative performance at Gillette Castle State Park. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes, but Holmes was brought to life by William Gillette. Gillette also put together the “costume” – the hat, pipe, lens and cape – that we associate with Holmes to this day.

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

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Senator Linares Visits Middlesex Community College

linares photoSen. Art Linares (center) visited Middlesex Community College to speak to students in Jane Stamler’s political science class on March 8. Linares discussed his duties as a state senator and the reasons why he chose public service.  He urged the students to consider ways in which they can serve their communities.  Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook. He can be reached at 800-842-1421 and at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov.

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Key Issues Debated by Linares and RiverCOG at State Capitol

Senator Linares Lower CT River Valley COG Meeting 2-24-16 (7 of 22)

AREAWIDE – On Feb. 24 Sen. Art Linares (at far right) joined with members of the Lower CT River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG) at the State Capitol to discuss key issues being debated during the 2016 legislative session. Shown in the photo with him, from left to right, are Haddam First Selectman Lizz Milardo, East Hampton Town Manager Michael Maniscalco and Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee Member and Past Chair Darlene Briggs.

Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook. He can be reached at 800-842-1421 or at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov.

The RiverCOG has 17 member towns, including Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

According to its website, “The RiverCOG brings together local governments to coordinate land use and transportation planning on a regional basis. RiverCOG provides a forum to foster communication and collaboration among its member municipalities in identifying and addressing these and other regional issues.”

RiverCOG has an office at 145 Dennison Road in Centerbrook, and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information about RiverCOG is at www.rivercog.org or by calling (860) 581-8554.

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Senator Invites Comments on New Bill to Eliminate Tax on Social Security Benefits

Sen. Art Linares speaks with a taxpayer at the Haddam Senior Center.

AREAWIDE – Sen. Art Linares is co-sponsoring a bill at the State Capitol that would completely eliminate the personal income tax on Social Security benefits.

Linares said the measure would provide tax relief to seniors across Connecticut. “I think this is a proposal that Democrats and Republicans can find common ground on,” he added.  “I urge seniors and residents of all ages to contact their legislators and urge them to pass this common sense tax relief.”

Linares said a public hearing will be held on the proposal on Friday, Feb. 26.  He said those wishing to submit testimony in favor of the bill can do the following:

·         Email testimony to: FINtestimony@cga.ct.gov.

·         In the email’s subject line, put House Bill 5062.

·         Testimony can be as brief as you like, but should include your name and town.

Taxpayers should feel free to copy Linares on the testimony at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov.

Those who wish to testify in person may attend the hearing on Feb. 26 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 2E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.  For detailed information on testifying in person or submitting written testimony, visit www.cga.ct.gov and review ‘Citizen’s Guide/Guide to Testifying’.

Questions may be directed to Linares at 800-842-1421.

House Bill 5062 can be viewed here.

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

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Linares Supports Marinas, Opposes Dredging Proposal

Sen. Art Linares

Sen. Art Linares

AREAWIDE – On Feb. 19, Sen. Art Linares testified against a legislative proposal that would complicate harbor dredging and negatively impact Connecticut marinas.

“My district is home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery in Connecticut,” Linares said in his testimony to state lawmakers on the Environment Committee.  “Coastal towns like Westbrook, Old Saybrook, Clinton. Today, I join with marina owners from my district in expressing serious concerns about Bill 78: An Act Concerning the Disposition of Dredged Materials from Certain Harbors and Ports on Long Island Sound.”

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection joined Sen. Linares in opposing the bill, noting that the proposal seeks to address issues that have already been resolved. An environmentally sensitive plan that is responsive to the need to dredge long-neglected harbors was adopted by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in December.

“The marine trades industry supports more than 7,000 jobs in Connecticut,” Linares said.  “But, like many small businesses across Connecticut, our marinas are struggling. As state legislators, we should be doing all we can to provide these job creators with the flexibility they need in order to help them grow and thrive over the long term.  Dredging is the lifeblood of these businesses.  Dredging provides access to marinas.  That access is key to keeping our marinas afloat.  Policies which impact that ability to dredge will without a doubt impact the scores of marinas in my district and throughout the shoreline.”

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AARP CT Volunteers Meet With Carney and Linares at Capitol

From left to right: Rep. Devin Carney, Jean Caron of Old Saybrook, Marian Speers of Old Saybrook and Sen. Art Linares.

From left to right: Rep. Devin Carney, Jean Caron of Old Saybrook, Marian Speers of Old Saybrook and Sen. Art Linares

AREAWIDE – Volunteers from AARP Connecticut met with Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Devin Carney at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Feb. 10 to discuss key issues that will be debated during the 2016 session of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Sen. Art Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook. He can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or 800-842-1421.

State Rep. Devin Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District covering Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. Carney can be reached at devin.carney@housegop.ct.gov or 800-842-1423.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps people 50 and older improve the quality of their lives. More information at aarp.org.

 

 

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Town Committees Reorganize for 2016-18 Term

CHESTER / DEEP RIVER / ESSEX — Democratic and Republican Town Committees for Chester, Deep River, and Essex have reorganized for the 2016-2018 term after party caucuses held in January. The new town committees will pick delegates for state and district nominating conventions in May, and also nominate candidates for the next town elections in 2017.

One new twist in the process this year is a new state law requiring signatures from all prospective town committee members at the time of the caucus. Republicans in Chester and Deep River were unable to secure some signatures in time for the caucus, but will fill out the membership by appointments when the new committees are seated in March.

CHESTER — Chester Democrats have picked a 25-member town committee with six new members, including newly elected First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Trisha Brookhart, Ted Taigen, Jacqueline Stack, Michael Price, Isaac Ruiz, and Susan Wright. Incumbents returning to the town committee are former First Selectman Edmund Meehan, Sandy Senior-Dauer, David Fitzgibbons, Lynne Stiles, Henry Krempel,, newly elected Selectwoman Charlene Janecek, Robert Gorman, Roger Goodnow, Marta Daniels, Lori Ann Clymas.

Chester Republicans picked a 26-member town committee that includes five new members, newly elected Selectwoman Carolyn Linn, Mandy Grass, Chris Fryxell, Meredith Devancy, and Robert Blair, who is the son of former longtime Republican First Selectman Robert Blair. Returning incumbents are Mario Gioco, former Selectman Bruce Watrous, Beverly Watrous, Joyce Aley, Joel Severance, former Selectman Tom Englert, Terri Englert, Karl Ohaus, Tracey Ohaus, Jonui Malcynsky, David Clark, John Hutson, Kristina Seifert, Melvin Seifert, Victor Hoehnebart, Jill Sakidovitch, Brian Sakidovitch, Jamie Grzybowski, Alex Strekel, and Virgil Lloyd.

DEEP RIVER — Democrats have picked a 22-member town committee that is comprised entirely of incumbents. The committee includes Carmela Balducci, Leigh Balducci, Richard Balducci, Stephen Bibbiani Lisa Bibbiani, Richard Daniels Jr. Dorothy DeMichael, Bruce Edgarton, Janet Edgarton, Nancy Fischbach, Joanne Grabek, George Howard, Ann Joy, Jonathan Kastner, Russell Marth, Karol Tulp Magee, Mary Maraschiello, Roy Monte, Valerie Nucci, Mark Reyher, Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., and First Selectman Richard Smith.

Republicans have picked a 15-member town committee that includes two new members, Dale Winchell and Mark Grabowski. Returning incumbents are Greg Alexander, Douglas Dopp, Michelle Grow, Alice Johnson, Town Treasurer Tom Lindner, Doug Nagan, Selectman David Oliveria, Rolf Peterson, Grace Stalsburg, Cynthia Stannard, Rosemary Unan, Donald Routh, and Town Clerk Amy Winchell.

ESSEX — Democrats have selected a 28-member town committee that includes three new members, William French, Ellen Pfarr and Yolanda Lowe. Returning incumbents are John Bairos, Mark Bombaci, Brian Cournoyer, former First Selectman Carl Ellison, Lois Ely, Geraldine Ficarra, Town Treasurer Jim Francis, Frank Hall, Tax Collector Megan Haskins, Campbell Hudson, Jonathan James,,Louise Ketron, Loretta McClosky, State Rep. Phil Miller, First Selectman Norman Needleman, Selectwoman Stacia Llibby, Lon Eeidman, Stanly Sheppard, Mary Ellen Pleva, James Spallone, John Stannard, Claire Tiernan ,Kathleen Tucker, Alvin Wolfgram, and Lawrence Shipman.

Republicans have picked a 25-member town committee that includes five new members The new members are Mary Louise Till, Keith Russell, Lynn Herlihy, John Frese, and Phil Beckman, the party’s unsuccessful nominee for board of selectmen in the 2015 town election. Returning GOP incumbents are  Susie Beckman, Kenneth Biombaci, Herb Clark, Edward Cook, Peter Decker, Ann Dixon, Selectman Bruce Glowac, Robert Fisher, D.G. Fitton,, Adrienne Forrest, John Heiser, James Hill, Jerri MacMillian, Bruce MacMillian, Town Clerk Joel Marzi, Barbara Ryan, David Sousa, Alice Van Dueursen, Gary Van Deursen, and  June Wilson.
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State Legislators Came to Old Saybrook to Listen and Share

legislatorsAREAWIDE – Three state legislators, Rep. Devin Carney, Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares (shown above, left to right), held open office hours on Jan. 25 at the Saybrook Point Pavilion.

The state legislators updated taxpayers on the key issues that will be debated in the 2016 legislative session at the State Capitol. Several area residents turned out for the public meeting to get their questions answered.

Those who could not attend may contact Carney at 800-842-1423 and Formica and Linares at 800-842-1421.

The legislative session runs through May.

 

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Linares Joins Fellow Senators to Announce Amendment to Improve Protection of CT Open Space

From left to right, Senators Formica, Linares and Witkos announce a new constitutional amendment.

From left to right, Senators Formica, Linares and Witkos announce a new constitutional amendment.

HARTFORD — Sen. Paul Formica, Sen. Art Linares and Sen. Kevin Witkos joined with environmental advocates on Jan. 13 to unveil a constitutional amendment proposal to improve the protection of forest land, parks, wildlife areas and other open space in Connecticut.

The legislators’ proposal would implement strengthened restrictions on the sale of preserved land.

The next legislative session begins in February.

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

Sen. Paul Formica represents Bozrah, East Lyme, a portion of Montville, New London, Old Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Salem, and Waterford.

Sen Kevin Witkos represents Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury, and Torrington.

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Democrat Gister Defeats Linn in Chester’s First Selectman Race, Englert Loses Seat

Democrats Lauren Gister (left) and Charlene Janecek celebrate their respective elections.

Democrats Lauren Gister (left) and Charlene Janecek celebrate their respective elections.

Mario Gioco read the following “unofficial results” of the Chester Board of Selectmen election to those waiting in the town hall:
First Selectman:
Lauren Gister (D) 680
Carolyn Linn (R) 413
Selectman:
Charlene Janecek (D) 688
Tom Englert (R) 404
Gister commented, “We will work very hard and we will make you proud.”
Full story by Charles Stannard coming tomorrow.
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Carolyn Linn is Republican Nominee for Chester First Selectman Through Ballot Petition

Republican Carolyn Linn will face Democrat Lister in the Nov. 3 election for  Chester First Selectman.

Republican Carolyn Linn will face Democrat Lauren Gister in the Nov. 3 election for Chester First Selectman.

CHESTER — There will be a contest for first selectman in the Nov. 3 election after all as Carolyn Linn claims the Republican nomination for first selectman with a ballot petition submitted to the town clerk Tuesday. Fifty-five-year-old Linn will face Democratic nominee Lauren Gister, aged 57, for the position left open with the retirement of two-term Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan.

Republicans came up empty on the first selectman nomination at the July 27 party caucus that nominated incumbent Republican Selectman Tom Englert for a fourth term, along with a handful of other candidates for positions on the local ballot. Gister a lawyer and former Marine, had been nominated at the Democratic caucus on July 21, with Charlene Janecek as the running-mate for board of selectmen. Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher is not seeking a new term.

But in the succeeding days, Linn, a 26-year resident and certified veterinary assistant who runs a local pet services business, emerged as a candidate. Town Clerk Debra Calamari said Linn submitted a petition signed by 47 town Republicans late Tuesday, one day before Wednesday’s deadline for primary petitions.

State election law allows a position left open by the party nominating caucus to be filled by a primary petition that must be submitted by an Aug. 12 deadline. The petition must be signed by a least five percent of the town’s 453 registered Republicans. With no other candidate, there is no primary and the new candidate claims to Republican line through the petition.

Linn, in a statement issued Thursday, said her goals include “preserving our historic personality while responsibly developing local opportunities” that would enable the town to prosper. She cited taxes and economic development as concerns, and suggested her “entrepreneurial and volunteer spirit” would benefit the town.

Linn said she was a volunteer EMT with the Chester Volunteer Ambulance Service after arriving in town in the early 1990s, and has also been involved with the Chester Winter Carnivale and the Shoreline Soup Kitchens. She is the mother of two children, both of whom graduated from Region 4 schools.

Linn is the first Republican nominated for first selectman since 2009, when former First Selectman Tom Marsh was re-elected for a third term. Marsh resigned in August 2011 to take a town manager job in Vermont. Republicans did not nominate a candidate for first selectman in 2011, when Meehan was easily elected over a challenger nominated by the Chester Common Ground Party. Meehan was uncontested for a second term in 2013, a year when there were no contests for any positions on the town lengthy ballot.

Along with a contest, this year’s nominations ensure the town’s next first selectman will be a woman, either Gister or Linn. The first, and only, woman to serve as Chester First Selectman is Bettie Perreault, a Republican who served from 1989-1993.

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Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith to Run Unopposed for Record 14th Term

Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith takes a break at his desk.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

A smiling Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith takes a break from his work for our photographer.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

DEEP RIVER — Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith has been nominated for a record 14th term, and will again run unopposed on the Nov.3 town election ballot. Two-term incumbent Selectman Angus McDonald Jr. has been nominated for a new term as Smith’s running-mate, with Republican Selectman David Oliveria nominated for a fourth term on the three member board.

Slates nominated by the two parties appear to set up contested races for two seats on the board of finance, and one spot on the Region 4 Board of Education. Democrats have nominated incumbents George Eckenroth and Carmella Balducci for board of finance, with Republicans nominating Mark Grabowski and John Wichtowski for finance board.

Democrats nominated Susan Hollister for a two-year vacancy on the Region 4 board, with Republicans nominating appointed incumbent Lauri Wichtowski for the vacancy term. Republicans nominated incumbent James Olson for a full six-year term on the Region 4 board.

Smith, at 64 one of the longest serving municipal elected officials in Connecticut, said Tuesday he never considered stepping aside this year, “I love what I do, it’s like my extended family.” Smith noted, “Keeping taxes down as much as we can,” and a firehouse renovation and expansion project are priorities for the next two years.

Smith’s last challenge for the top job came in 2007 from the now defunct Deep River Independent Party. He was uncontested for re-election in 2009, 2001, and 2013. Town Republicans have not nominated a candidate for first selectman since 2005.

Three incumbent town office holders are uncontested for new terms, including Republican Town Clerk Amy Macmillian Winchell, first elected in 2009, Democratic Tax Collector Lisa Bbibbiani, also first elected in 2009, and long-time Republican Town Treasurer Tom Lindner.

Democrats nominated Tadria Cialgo, Tracy Dickson. and incumbent Miriam Morrissey for the local board of education Republicans nominated Imran Munawar, Paula Weglarz, and incumbent James Olson for the local school board.

Democrats nominated incumbent Leigh Balducci for board of assessment appeals, with Republicans nominating Thomas Alexa for board of assessment appeals.

Democrats nominated incumbents Alice Procter and Mary Maraschiello for library board of trustees, along with Linda Hall, a former member and chairwoman of the Region 4 school board.

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Chester Republicans Make No Nomination for First Selectman, Open Seat May be Uncontested in November

CHESTER — Town Republicans will not nominate a candidate for first selectman, a move that could leave new Democratic nominee Lauren Gister uncontested for the top job in the Nov. 3 vote. The partial slate endorsed by the Republican caucus would appear to set up the second consecutive town election where all positions on the lengthy ballot are uncontested.

Ten party members turned out for the caucus at town hall, including Doreen Joslow, a local businesswoman and planning and zoning commission member who said she had considered a run for the top job that is left open this year with the retirement of two-term Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan. But Joslow said the demands of the full-time job, and the relatively low annual salary currently set at $55,000, led her to conclude that “now is not the right time” for a candidacy.

Republicans nominated three-term incumbent Selectman Tom Englert for a new term. Englert served briefly as interim first selectman in 2011 after the departure of former Republican First Selectman Tom Marsh. The last Republican to be nominated and serve as first selectman, Marsh resigned in August 2011 to take a town manager job in Vermont.

Republicans nominated Jon Joslow for one of two ballot spots for board of finance. Incumbent Bruce Watrous, a former selectman, was nominated for a new term on the board of assessment appeals. Republicans nominated Steve Merola for a new term on the planning and zoning commission Kris Seifert and Bob Blair III were nominated for inland-wetlands commission. Blair is the grandson of former First Selectman Bob Blair, a Republican who held the top job from 1965 to 1989.  Mel Seifert, who also serves on the planning and zoning commission, was nominated for water pollution control authority.

Republicans did not nominate a candidate for Region 4 Board of Education, the local school board, zoning board of appeals, or library trustees, though town committee chairman Mario Gioco said the committee is still seeking candidates for open spots that could be placed on the ballot through submission of petition signatures by an Aug 12 deadline.

Gister, a local attorney and former Marine, was nominated for first selectman by town Democrats at a July 21 caucus, with Charlene Janecek, the current Democratic registrar of voters, nominated as the running-mate for board of selectmen. Joe Cohen, a Democratic town committee member who had expressed reservations about Gister as a first selectman nominee, has said he is considering a run for first selectman as a petition candidate, a move that would require submission of signatures equal to one percent of the total vote for first selectman in 2013 by an Aug. 5 deadline.

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Essex First Selectman Needleman Faces Election Challenge from Selectman Glowac

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (file photo)

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (file photo)

ESSEX — Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman’s bid for a third term will face an election challenge from Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac, a former first selectman who returned to the board in the town’s uncontested election of 2013.

Needleman and Glowac were nominated for the Nov. 3 ballot at party nominating sessions Wednesday. Needleman will be running with two-term incumbent Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby.

Glowac is running with selectman candidate Phil Beckman, a former U.S. Navy officer who retired from the service last year.

Needleman, 63, is a local businessman who served four terms on the board of selectmen from 2003-2011 with former Democratic First Selectman, now State Representative Phil Miller. Needleman won the top job in 2011, defeating Republican nominee Bruce MacMillian on a 1,415-993 vote. He was unopposed by town Republicans for a second term in 2013.

Selectman Bruce Glowac

Selectman Bruce Glowac. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

But the uncontested election of 2013 also brought Glowac back to the board as the minority Republican selectman. Glowac, also 63 and a lifelong resident, had served as first selectman from 1991-1995, later assuming the job of director of facilities for Region 4 schools. Glowac, addressing about 25 Republicans at the caucus, said one key reason he is running is to give town voters a choice on the ballot, avoiding the uncontested town elections that occurred in 2013 and also in 2007. “It’s a special time and it is important to give our residents a choice on the ballot,” he said, adding that uncontested elections for top policy-making positions, “… are unhealthy to the process and do a disservice to our community.”

Glowac said the role of town government is to “direct and control change, adding, “It needs to be done with extreme care so we don’t lose the qualities that we love in Essex.” Glowac said he would retire from the Region 4 job at year’s end if he is elected first selectman,

Needleman said he is proud of the Democratic record over the last 12 years, and “loves” the job of first selectman. “It allows you to touch people’s lives and make a real difference,” he said. Both nominees promised a positive campaign, and each praised their rival. Needleman said Glowac is “a terrific guy and a huge help on the board of selectmen,” adding the current board “is a terrific working board and I’ll do what I have to do to make that continue.” Glowac said he respects Needleman and has tried to work with he and Libby over the past two years.

Democrats nominated incumbents Fred Vollono and Donald Mesite for new terms on the board of finance. Mesite was appointed to the board in December 2013 after the former board chairman, Democrat Jim Francis was elected town treasurer. Republicans nominated Geri MacMillian and former Selectman Vince Pacileo for the finance board. Pacileo, who works as director of administrative services for the Town of Stonington, served on the board of selectmen from 2003-2009, and was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for 33rd Senate in 2008 and 36th House in 2012.

Democrats nominated incumbent Jennifer Clark for a new six-year term on the Region 4 Board of Education. Republicans nominated Mary Louise Till, a retired teacher who is also a practicing attorney, for the Region 4 seat. Democrats nominated incumbent board Chairman Lon Seidman for the local board of education, with Republicans nominating incumbent D.G. Fitton for the local board, where elections are uncontested.

Democrats nominated Mark Bombaci and former member Richard Helmecki for board of assessment appeals. Republicans nominated Bruce MacMillian and Keith Russell for board of assessment appeals.

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Needleman States Priorities for Possible Third Term as Essex First Selectman

Selectman Stacia Libby stands with First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Selectman Stacia Libby stands with First Selectman Norman Needleman.

ESSEX — At his July 22 announcement of his intention to run for a third, two-year-term as First Selectman of Essex, Norman Needleman noted two priorities that he would address, if re-elected.  The first is the completion of the new public works projects presently underway in Essex and the second is to establish a new, more accountable way for delivering public services to the residents of Essex by the various town agencies.

New Public Works in Essex: Several Projects Already Complete …

With regard to the first electoral priority — completing new public works in Essex — that one is well underway. The old tennis courts behind Essex Town Hall have been brought up to “tournament play” condition.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman holds his treasured grandson.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman holds his treasured grandson.

The parking lots, also behind the town hall, have  been completely regraded with a new playground installed that has proved to be very popular with both young and old alike. Also, Essex Town’s Hall’s frontage has been refreshed with a new lawn and improved signage, along with a general upgrade.

… Others Still on the Agenda

Needleman has ahead of him, should he be re-elected, the completion of the total refashioning of the Ivoryton section of the Town of Essex. Extensive new streets have already been put in place and the final touches of the new streetscape improvements in Ivoryton would likely extend well into a possible Needleman third term.

Also, contemplated by Needleman are upgrades in the Centerbrook section of Essex, but these are still on the drawing boards.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.36.58 AMImproved Coordination of Services to Residents by Essex Town Employees  

In addition to these superstructure improvements on Needleman’s re-election roster is a determination to tackle the manner in which Essex Town Departments and workers deliver services to Essex residents. Such an initiative would review the degrees of coordination among Town agencies.

It is Needleman’s view that there is presently a serious lack of coordination among Town agencies in the delivery of services to the town and, if re-elected, he intends to change this.

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Chester Democrats Nominate Lauren Gister for First Selectman, Charlene Janececk for Selectman

Atty. Lauren Gister

Atty. Lauren Gister

CHESTER — Democrats Tuesday nominated Laruen Gister for the open first selectman position, with Charlene Janecek, the party registrar of voters, as the running-mate for board of selectmen.

Both seats on the three-member board, controlled by Democrats since 2011, were open after the incumbents declined to seek new terms in the Nov. 3 vote.

Two-term Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan formally advised the Democratic Town Committee in June that he would not seek a new term. Selectman Lawrence Sypher, first elected in 2009, also declined to run again.

Gister, a local attorney and 25-year member of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Janececk, were nominated on a unanimous voice vote from the approximately 70 Democrats that turned out for the caucus held at the Chester Meeting House. Gister had been endorsed by the Chester Democratic Town Committee earlier this month. But comments made in the nominating speech for the position indicated there had been some questions and possible objections to Gister’s nomination.

In nominating Gister, David Fitzgibbons claimed there had been an effort to “swiftboat,” her possible candidacy in the days preceding the caucus. The term is a reference to Republican backed attacks on Democratic nominee John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign. He claimed the actions were damaging to the party and the town while praising Gister’s experience as a Marine and ability to “lead us forward with compassion.”

Fitzgibbons was clearly referring to a letter published in a local weekly from Joe Cohen, a town committee member. In the letter published last week, Cohen contends that Gister lacks government and managerial experience, does not own property in Chester, and has not voted in recent elections. Cohen, a public relations consultant and former newspaper reporter, was rumored to be planning a caucus challenge to Gister’s nomination. But Cohen, who was present Tuesday, did not put his name in nomination at the caucus.

Gister said after the nomination that she was expecting a challenger from Cohen. She said “ugly statements” before the caucus had referred to personal problems she faced and overcame in recent years, including a divorce and subsequent foreclosure on her property in town.

Gister, 56, is a mother of four children, ages 14-31 Gister said she was born in California, but moved to Connecticut at age 14 and graduated from Hall High School in West Hartford.. A 19-year resident who maintains a law practice in town, Gister said she was approached by town committee members about a possible candidacy earlier this month.

Cohen said after the caucus that he is hoping other candidates emerge for the first selectman position over the next two weeks to provide town voters with a contest. Cohen said he is “pondering” a position run as a petition candidate, but is unlikely to challenge Gister’s nomination in a Democratic primary. He offered no apologies for his letter to the editor about Gister. “Telling the truth and raising concerns about legitimate issues is not in any way character assassination.” he said.

Democrats also nominated a slate of mostly incumbents for other positions on the municipal election ballot. Lori Ann Clymas, currently serving on the board of finance, was nominated for a six-year term on the Region 4 Board of Education. Incumbent Jennifer Rannestad was nominated for a new term on the board of finance.

Incumbents Errol Horner and Keith Scherber were nominated for new full terms on the planning and zoning commission, with incumbent Peter Zanardi nominated for a two-year term on the commission. New candidate Jacqueline Stack was nominated for planning and zoning commission alternate. Incumbents Maria Scherber and David Fitzgibbons were nominated for local board of education, along with new candidates John Stack and John Ropiak.

Incumbent Mark Borton was nominated for a new term on the zoning board of appeals, incumbent Kim Senay was nominated for a new term on the inland wetlands commission, and incumbent James Pease was nominated for a new term on the water pollution control authority. Incumbent Sandy Senior-Dauer and Karin Badger were nominated for library board of trustees.

Republicans hold their nominating caucus Monday. No candidates have announced for the Republican nomination for first selectman. Cohen, or any other possible challengers, face an Aug. 5 deadline to submit signatures to run as a petition candidate.

Aug. 12 is the deadline for primary petitions.

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State Bond Commission Set to Approve $3.8 Million Loan Tuesday for Essex Place Centerbrook

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

AREAWIDE — State Representative Philip Miller (D-Chester/Deep River/Essex/Haddam) is reporting the state Bond Commission is scheduled to approve funding to provide a $3,824,718 loan to Essex Place Centerbrook, LLC, to assist with construction of 22 elderly rental units in Essex.

The funding, provided under the Housing Trust Fund, is for 30 years at 1 percent.

“I am pleased the Bond Commission is set to approve this funding request to continue to the development of affordable apartment rentals,” Miller said. “This is an important investment in our community and I appreciate the Governor’s support for not only this project, but for making affordable housing a statewide priority.”

Janice Atkeson, Essex Housing Authority Chair, welcomed the news that the funding was on the Bond Commission’s agenda for approval saying, “I want to express my gratitude to Representative Miller and everyone who worked to make this happen. We are looking forward to the vote.”

The special meeting of the State Bond Commission will be Tuesday, July 28, at 10:30 a.m. in Room 1-E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

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Miller Applauds Historic Student Loan Rate Cut

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

AREAWIDE — State Representative Philip Miller (D-36th) is applauding a recent announcement by the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA) that it will offer a fixed interest rate of 4.95 percent for new student loans, down from its current rate of 6.75 percent.

The rate is also significantly lower than the upcoming Federal PLUS loan rate, which will be 6.84 percent, and is the lowest rate CHESLA has ever offered. CHESLA will also be increasing the maximum allowed debt-to-income ratio from 40% to 43%.

“This announcement by CHESLA is certainly good news for students over-burdened with large student loans, along with their parents,” Rep. Miller said. “Hopefully, this development should help make higher education more affordable to more students in our state.”

These money-saving changes follow legislative passage of House Bill 6907, which asked CHESLA to develop a plan to lower student loan interest rates and increase the maximum allowable debt-to-income ratio.

Rep. Miller said students and parents can contact CHESLA at www.chesla.org for additional information or call (800) 935-2275.

Editor’s Note: Philip Miller is state representative for the 36th Assembly District comprising the Towns of  Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.

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Linares Supporting Rubio for President, Co-Hosts $2,700 per Person Event in Stamford  

Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd)

AREAWIDE — State Senator Art Linares is supporting U.S. Senator Marco Rubio for President of the United States. Linares made his presidential choice known by inviting contributors to attend a $2,700 a person fundraiser for Rubio on Thursday, June 4, from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Hilton Stamford Hotel at 1 First Stamford Place in Stamford.

“Marco Rubio, A New American Century” is the theme of the event, which will feature, “A roundtable discussion with U.S. Senator Rubio” by those attending. Linares is co-hosting the Rubio event with Republican State Chairman Jerry Labriola and Chris Meek.

Tickets to the Rubio event can be obtained by contacting Anne Rogers at arogers@marcorubio.com, or by calling 662-315-4775. Those persons who wish to purchase a ticket to the event, or to make a contribution to the Marco Rubio for President campaign, can do so provided they fill out a form giving their payment method, name, occupation, phone number, email address, mailing address, and spouse’s name, occupation of spouse if it is a joint contribution, among other personal information.

Also noted is that, “Contributions to Marco Rubio for President are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.” Similarly noted is, “Individuals may contribute up to $2,700 for the Primary Election,” and the statement that, “Contributions from corporations, labor union, foreign nationals [as specified] and federal government contractors are not permitted.”

Editor’s Note: The 33rd Senatorial District includes the Towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme and Old Saybrook.

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Miller Testifies in Support of a Bill to Increase Education Grant for Haddam

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

HADDAM — State Representative Philip Miller (D-Chester/Deep River/Essex/Haddam) testified this week in support of legislation that he is co-sponsoring that would increase the education grant for Haddam up to the 50 percent  level under the state’s Education Cost Sharing formula (ECS).

Miller testified before the legislature’s Appropriations Committee on SB 816, “An Act Establishing A Minimum Level Of Funding Under The Education Cost Sharing Grant Formula.”  Miller was joined by Haddam First Selectwoman Melissa Schlag and Region 17 Haddam-Killingworth Superintendent, Dr. Harry Thiery.

Miller pointed out that of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities, more than 40 of them are overfunded under the ECS formula, while 19, including Haddam, are underfunded below the 50 percent ECS funding level. He added that introducing a bill that would fully fund Haddam would be futile, because similar requests have died in committee in the past.

“This bill, however, would bring the 19 lowest, including Haddam, that are all funded less than 50 percent, at least up to the halfway point,”  Miller commented. “It is not a long term solution, but it is a step in the right direction. We should fund the overfunded municipalities at the full funding level, and no more.”

First Selectwoman Schlag, speaking in support of the bill, told committee members the proposed legislation is a step in the right direction, saying, “If we can’t fix the regressive property tax system in Connecticut, let’s at least fix the ECS system making it fair for all municipalities, large and small.”

Miller noted that the bill has bi-partisan support, which he believes gives the measure a better chance of passage as it continues along the legislative process.

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Panel Discussion Tonight Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Landmark Woman’s Rights Decision

Civil rights pioneer Estelle Griswold stands outside the offices of Planned Parenthood in New haven, Conn.

Civil rights activist and feminist  Estelle Griswold stands outside the offices of Planned Parenthood in New Haven, Conn.

The Shoreline League of Democratic Women (SLDW) has announced it will host a panel presentation and discussion ‘Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut.’ The event will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday evening, April 2, Westbrook Library (Lower Level), 61 Goodspeed Drive, Westbrook, CT 06498.

Guest panelists include Connecticut State Representative Kelly Luxenberg and Susan Yolen, VP for Public Policy and Advocacy for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. This event is free and open to the public.

In 1965, Estelle Griswold of Executive Director of Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut and Yale Physician and Professor Dr. Buxton challenged the State’s interference in a woman’s right to access birth control, and by extension a woman’s right to privacy over her own body. Upon opening a clinic in New Haven, they were both promptly arrested and appealed to the Supreme Court. Winning a 7-2 victory, they established case law that would ensure women this basic human right across the United States.

Fifty years later, the SLDW shines a light on Griswold and Buxton, and remembers the rights we take for granted today were often hard won, but are inalienable.

The SLDW (http://www.sldw.org) is a chapter of the Connecticut Federation of Democratic Women (CFDW), which is a chapter of the National Federation of Democratic Women. The SLDW continues to seek membership from women who live in Essex, Chester and Deep River as well as Old Lyme, Lyme, Clinton, Madison, Guilford, Branford, Killingworth, Old Saybrook and Westbrook,  Meetings are held monthly from September through May.

The SLDW is dedicated to educating its members about political and social issues important to women of all ages in the Valley-Shore area. Women in the local district are encouraged to join the SLDW and participate in the organization’s valuable work in the community. Members can be involved in any capacity, whether it is 30 minutes a month, or 30 minutes a year. As a part of the SLDW educational charter, members will be notified of important pending state and national legislation.

For more information, email sldworg@gmail.com or contact Kathleen Skoczen at 860-669-7034 or Belinda Jones at860-399-1147. Visit the SLDW website at http://www.sldw.org.

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New State Funding Announced for Elderly Affordable Housing in Essex

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

ESSEX — State Representative Philip Miller (D-Chester/Deep River/Essex/Haddam) has welcomed the announcement that elderly affordable housing development in Essex will benefit from a $60 million statewide investment to bolster housing programs announced by Governor Dannel P. Malloy.

The funding for Essex is as follows:

  • Essex Place, Essex– Department of Housing will provide up to $3.83 million to assist in the development of Essex Place, a newly constructed 22-unit affordable elderly apartment building.  Essex Place will be located adjacent to the existing 36-unit Essex Court elderly housing development.  The site is walkable via town sidewalks to local services, grocery stores, restaurants and other community resources. The project is in close proximity to public transportation offered by the Estuary Transit District (ETD) that has regularly scheduled service on the Riverside Shuttle from Chester to Old Saybrook.  The project will consist of 18 one-bedroom and 4 two-bedroom rental units.  The units will serve residents or below 80% of the area median income.

“I welcome the Governor’s announcement that Essex will be awarded $3.83 million for the development of Essex Place. The development of affordable elderly apartments will help residents who live in the community stay in the community,” Rep. Miller said, “In addition the construction of new units has a positive economic impact by creating jobs and providing dollars for the purchase of materials and services. I thank Governor Malloy for this initiative in Essex.”

Rep. Miller is House Chairman of the Planning and Development Committee.

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State Representative Phil Miller Sponsors Five Environmental Bills in Legislature

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Philip Miller (D – 36th)

AREAWIDE — State Representative Phil Miller, whose legislative district includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam, has introduced five environmental bills in the Connecticut State Legislature in Hartford. Miller’s environmental bills range from limiting the use of pesticides in state parks to limiting the sale of ivory and rhino horns.

Miller, who was recently appointed House Chairman of the General Assembly’s Planning and Development Committee, also serves on the House’s Environmental Committee and House Program Review and Investigations Committee.

Asked for details of the five bills on which he is focusing, Miller responded by email as follows:

  • House Bill 5653. Chemicals are of high concern to children — this is a great bill, which gives our Department of Public Health a platform from which to make suggestions to industries regarding potentially harmful ingredients. It is being opposed by industries who feel they can adequately self-regulate. And I have a bridge for sale!
  • House Bill 6837. Pesticide use at state parks, athletic fields and playgrounds. We banned harmful pesticides in our pre-K through eighth grades in 2006, but the industry has been bitterly fighting extending the ban to the twelfth grade, as successfully has been done in New York State. The state should set the example by succeeding at sustainable turf maintenance at state properties first, and then we can further uphold children’s safety. It is ironic that I am petitioning the Essex Conservation Commission to refrain from spraying pesticides at the Bushy Hill Preserve, where tadpoles should eat mosquito larva underwater and birds and bats should take care of the flying adults.
  • Senate Bill 349. Single-use, carry-out plastic and paper bags and the use of reusable bags. We are trying to phase out plastic and limit paper, and encourage new standards for reusable bags to combat the environmental and public health problems borne from plastic pollution. This is being worked on, so we can get it right to make a difference.
  • House Bill 6035. The Long Island Sound Blue Plan mandates accurate mapping and biotic inventories to maintain and enhance ecology.
  • House Bill 6955. The ivory and rhino horn ban. There is an Asian- centered, worldwide market in ivory and rhino horn, which we can help stop by banning these materials, with exemptions for antique pieces more than 75-years-old or musical instruments made before 1975. This would aid us in recovering historic pieces to museum collections, while inhibiting trade in newer black market material. We are being opposed by antique dealers and collectors, many of whom have newer pieces in their collections without even knowing it. This bill is of special concern to us locally, because Ivoryton and Deep River were the world centers of ivory manufacture a hundred years ago, and we have come to terms with our past being complicit in an earlier slaughter, which, in turn, has inspired the present illicit industries of Asia that stretches from Africa and around the globe.

Miller also gave the following additional information:

Pesticides harm water and soil quality and are linked with cancer, birth defects, behavioral disorders, developmental delays, and they are ever more concentrated further each year as the pests evolve to kill the lawn.

In addition to the bills, the budget has some dire consequences for the environment because it would defund the Clean Water Fund, the Water Planning Council and the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) — a very effective watchdog presence.

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Linares Addresses Hispanic Federation

Senator Art Linares addresses the Hispanic federation

Senator Art Linares addresses the Hispanic Federation

AREAWIDE — Senator Art Linares (at podium) addressed the Hispanic Federation March 18 during the 2nd Annual Connecticut Legislative Luncheon at the State Capitol. The event, which was attended by several elected officials, brought together more than a dozen Latino community based organizations from across Connecticut.

The discussion focused on programs which serve many of the state’s half million Latinos.

For more information, visit www.senatorlinares.com and www.hispanicfederation.org .

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

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Connecticut Non Profits Connect with Linares

Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) meets with Senior Public Policy Specialist of the CT Association of Nonprofits Julia Wilcox (right).

Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) meets with Senior Public Policy Specialist of the CT Association of Nonprofits Julia Wilcox

AREAWIDE — Senator Art Linares (left) on Mar. 16 visited with CT Association of Nonprofits Senior Public Policy Specialist Julia Wilcox (right) and other advocates during “CT Nonprofits Week 2015” at the State Capitol.

Throughout the week, Linares and other state legislators met with nonprofit organizations from throughout Connecticut to raise public awareness of their services.

For more information, visit www.ctnonprofits.org and www.senatorlinares.com .

Linares represents the 33rd Connecticut Senatorial District comprising Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

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Former Governor Weicker Lauds President Obama’s New Openness to Cuba      

Former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker at his home in Old Lyme, Thursday.

Former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker at his home in Old Lyme, Thursday.

Lowell Weicker, a former Governor and Senator of Connecticut, has expressed his support for the Obama’s administration new policy of normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. In taking this position, Weicker noted in an interview at his home in Old Lyme with ValleyNewsNow yesterday that current polls show that 60 percent of Americans support diplomatic recognition of Cuba.

In adopting a new U.S. relationship with Cuba, Weicker said, “Finally, we are catching up with the times.” He continued, “The U.S. embargo has lasted for 50 years, yet country after country has recognized Cuba with only the United States in not doing so.”  Weicker also expressed criticism of those who oppose the Obama Administration new policy of recognizing Cuba, such as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Positive Aspects of Today’s Cuba

According to Weicker, “The most positive aspects of the present Castro regime in Cuba are in the areas of health care and good public education. Ninety nine percent of Cubans have free health care and good public education, a complete turnaround from the days of Battista.” At the same time, Weicker faulted the present Cuban government, “for its lack of human rights and democratic elections.”

As for his personal relationship with Cuba, the former Connecticut Governor said, “My family owned a large business in Cuba, which was expropriated by the Castro government, after Battista fled the island. No one, especially myself, is going to extol Castro’s confiscation of private property.”

Weicker also noted his, “deep personal distaste for the dictatorship of Flugencio Battista, who preceded Fidel Castro. Early on,” he said, “most of the Cuban immigrants to the United States were allied with Battista. Indeed in my losing the 1988 Senate campaign, the Florida Cuban community poured late money into Senator Joe Lieberman’s campaign.”

Weicker’s Two Trips to Castro’s Cuba

File photo from the 1980s of then U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker shaking hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Photo from the 1980s of then U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker shaking hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Weicker also stated, “When I was a U.S. Senator, I made two trips to Cuba in the early 1980s. The first was to organize a joint American-Cuban marine science mission. The second was to secure the release of six American women imprisoned in Cuba.” According to Weicker, he, “convinced Castro, personally, to release the women who were in jail on drug charges. Two of the six were from Connecticut.”

Weicker described how, while in Cuba, he and Castro went diving together and spent many hours discussing Cuban-American relations. When Castro inquired whether there was anything he could do for Weicker, the Senator jokingly responded by requesting the Major League Baseball franchise for Havana. Castro’s response was, ‘No, we keep that.’”

In Weicker’s account, “When I announced to the Senate that I was to go to Cuba to retrieve the six women, U.S. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina tried to block the trip.” Failing that endeavor, Helms asked Weicker, confidentially, if he could bring back some cigars for him.

Weicker also makes the point that the wrapper leaf for Cuban cigars are traditionally grown in Connecticut, so Connecticut would directly benefit from the lifting of U.S. restrictions on the importation of Cuban cigars.

In conclusion, Weicker said, “Cuban dictator Battista was bad news, and I agree that the Castro brothers have had their own failings.” However, Weicker does not want the U.S. to live in the past as regards Cuba. He states, “It is only a question of time … Cuba will become more and more democratic. It is a new world, and one that should see two old friends reconcile.”

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Carney Proposes Ban on Electronic Cigarette Use in Schools, on School Grounds

State Representative Devin Carney

State Representative Devin Carney

OLD SAYBROOK/WESTBROOK: State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23) hopes to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes on school grounds in his bill H.B. 5219. Current regulation is limited to the use of electronic cigarettes by anyone under the age of 18; this legislation, however, would seek to expand upon the current bans to include prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes on school grounds entirely. Schools already ban tobacco-based products, so this would add e-cigarettes to that ban.

“It’s critical that our schools be free from negative influences. Countless studies show that electronic cigarette use among high school and even middle school aged kids is rapidly rising. Not to mention that many kids who would have never tried a traditional cigarette are experimenting with e-cigarettes – especially flavored ones,” Carney said. “The bad habits brought on by them lead to the increased potential for addiction to nicotine-based products in the future.”

A recent Yale study notes that one in four Connecticut high school students have tried an e-cigarette. In addition, 26 percent of students who had reported to have never tried one were interested in trying one in the future.

Carney adds, “The availability of electronic cigarettes and ease at which they can be purchased by minors is a bit unsettling to me. We are fortunate to live in an area where many schools have already taken this initiative – a statewide ban on them on school property will strengthen those initiatives while also ensuring other schools, who may not have banned them yet, will have a ban in place.”

Carney has also proposed other bills including several proposals to lower taxes and increase the overall quality of life for the residents of the 23rd District.

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SE CT Delegation Highlights Transport Investment Needs in I-95 Corridor

Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, Senator Paul Formica, State Representative Devin Carney next to Governor Malloy at the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference.

Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, Senator Paul Formica, State Representative Devin Carney next to Governor Malloy at the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference.

Three freshman state lawmakers from Southeastern Connecticut joined Governor Malloy on Wednesday overlooking the Thames River to highlight the need for more investment in all modes of transportation along the I-95 corridor in the shoreline region.

“People in the southeast corridor of the state should have reliable and safe transportation systems.  The fact that the Governor chose to highlight I-95 in our area is important.  It is a major pathway for commerce in this region,” said Senator Paul Formica.

State Senator Formica (R) is the veteran lawmaker in the group of freshmen, recently resigning as the first selectman of East Lyme to serve as the 20th district’s state senator in Hartford.

“I have been working with the state department of Transportation for years as a first selectman to revamp exit 74 and to widen the Niantic River Bridge.  Today’s event is an extension of those conversations,” added Formica.

Newly elected State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) also reiterated the need to prioritize the upkeep of roads, bridges, rail and ports.

From left to right,  State Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, State Senator Paul Formica and State Representative Devin Carney stand next to the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference with CTDOT.

From left to right, State Representative Aundre` Bumgardner, State Senator Paul Formica and State Representative Devin Carney stand next to the Gold Star Bridge in New London for a transportation press conference with CTDOT.

“Improving our transportation infrastructure is very important to folks of Southeastern Connecticut. I applaud Governor Malloy for acknowledging that there needs to be upgrades made to I-95 at this end of the state. It’s a key area for commuters and tourists, so it’s crucial that traffic can move steadily and safely. As a member of the Transportation Committee, I will continue to be an advocate for government transparency and a proponent of public safety,” said Rep. Carney.

As one of the two youngest elected lawmakers in the country, Representative Aundre` Bumgardner brings a new perspective to the ongoing conversation of how to keep the state’s transportation infrastructure strong for future generations.

“Connecticut needs a comprehensive transportation plan that includes roads, bridges, rail, our ports and waterways and pedestrian-friendly ways to get around,” Rep. Bumgardner (R-41st) said. “I’m encouraged the Governor is making sure Southeastern Connecticut isn’t being left out but this is just the start.  The Governor and the legislature must ensure any funding put into transportation projects is used specifically for transportation and protected from being raided for other purposes.”

All agree protecting the Special Transportation Fund may require new language for a “lock box” on funds collected through the gas tax, department of motor vehicle fees, as well as commuter train and bus tickets.

The event was held at the State DEEP Boat Launch on the New London side of the Thames River, just below the Gold Star Bridge.   At 5,925 feet, the Gold Star is the longest bridge in Connecticut. The northbound bridge, which originally carried I-95 traffic in both directions, opened in 1943. A new bridge for southbound traffic opened in 1973.

Editor’s Note: State Senator Formica represents the 20th District towns of Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Waterford, New London, Montville, Bozrah and Salem. State Representative Carney represents the 23rd District towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. State Representative Bumgardner represents the 41st General Assembly District representing residents in Groton and New London

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Carney Assigned to Legislative Committees for 2015 Session

OLD SAYBROOK — State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) will serve on three committees during the 2015 legislative session.

Carney has been assigned to the legislature’s committees on Environment, Transportation as well as Higher Education and Employment Advancement. His two-year term began Jan. 7.

“Carney will make an excellent addition to these committees, I am confident that he will serve the House Republican caucus with distinction,” said state Rep. Themis Klarides, incoming House Republican Leader. “Committee members serve as our eyes and ears when it comes to developing important legislation.”

Carney commented, “I look forward to representing the 23rd District on committees of such great importance as Environment, Transportation and Higher Education and Employment Advancement. The 23rd District is like no other with its scenic beauty and I want to ensure that both residents and tourists are able to enjoy it for generations to come. Transportation is a priority to many folks across the district and I will work extremely hard to try and repair our broken infrastructure.”

He continued, “Finally, I believe it’s time for my generation to step up and start taking the lead towards restoring our prosperity in an area that has affected it, higher education. Working to ensure we have a diverse, skilled workforce, aligned with available jobs, is part of the bigger picture of boosting our economy and preventing the further exodus of our youth.”

The Environment Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Environmental Protection, including conservation, recreation, pollution control, fisheries and game, state parks and forests, water resources, and all matters relating to the Department of Agriculture, including farming, dairy products and domestic animals.

The Transportation Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Transportation, including highways and bridges, navigation, aeronautics, mass transit and railroads; and to the State Traffic Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles

The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to (A) the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Office of Higher Education, and (B) public and independent institutions of higher education, private occupational schools, post-secondary education, job training institutions and programs, apprenticeship training programs and adult job training programs offered to the public by any state agency or funded in whole or in part by the state.

“Committee rooms are where the laws of our state are outlined and where we can achieve the best for the people of the state of Connecticut,” Klarides said.

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Carney Sworn in, Prepares for First Term as State Representative

State Representative Devin Carney takes his place in the House on Opening Day of the new session.

State Representative Devin Carney takes his place in the House on Opening Day of the new session.

HARTFORD — State Representative Devin Carney (R-23) was sworn in today  as state representative for the 23rd General Assembly District covering Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

Carney was among 19 other Republican freshmen who vowed to serve their districts over a two-year term. Carney states he is committed to reducing the expense of government and making our state a better place to live and do business in.

“I am eager to step into my new role as the voice in Hartford for the people of the 23rd District. There is much work to be done in order to bolster our economy and make Connecticut a more affordable and desirable place to live in and do business. I will focus on stimulating job growth, preventing burdensome unfunded mandates on the towns of the 23rd, and improving our transportation infrastructure. We must create a state that folks, particularly our youth, want to move to because we have opportunity, and one in which our seniors can afford to retire,” said Rep. Carney.

For the 2015-2017 legislative session, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides appointed Carney to serve on the Environment Committee, Transportation Committee and Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee.

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Representative Devin Carney     (R-23rd)

Rep. Carney took the oath of office and was sworn in by Secretary of State Denise Merrill on Wednesday afternoon in the State House Chamber. He then participated in a Joint Convention of both the House of Representatives and Senate as Gov. Dannel Malloy addressed lawmakers about the 2015 Session.

The Environment Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Environmental Protection, including conservation, recreation, pollution control, fisheries and game, state parks and forests, water resources, and all matters relating to the Department of Agriculture, including farming, dairy products and domestic animals.

The Transportation Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Transportation, including highways and bridges, navigation, aeronautics, mass transit and railroads; and to the State Traffic Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to (A) the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Office of Higher Education, and (B) public and independent institutions of higher education, private occupational schools, post-secondary education, job training institutions and programs, apprenticeship training programs and adult job training programs offered to the public by any state agency or funded in whole or in part by the state.

State Rep. Devin Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District, which comprises the towns of  Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and the southern portion of Westbrook.

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Miller Appointed House Chair of Planning & Development Committee

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller (File photo)

HARTFORD — State Representative Phil Miller (D-Essex/Chester/ Deep River/Haddam) has been chosen to serve as House Chair of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Planning and Development Committee by House Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden).

Rep. Miller replaces Rep. Auden Grogins of Bridgeport, who was nominated to the State Superior Court, and is leaving the legislature.

The Planning and Development Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to local governments, housing, urban renewal, fire, sewer and metropolitan districts, home rule and planning and zoning; regional planning and development activities and the State Plan of Conservation and Development, and economic development programs impacting local governments.

“I am honored to have been appointed House Chair of the Planning and Development Committee by House Speaker Sharkey,” Rep. Miller said. “I look forward to serving on the Speaker’s leadership team as we develop an agenda that affects matters relating to local governments and our cities and towns.”

“The Planning & Development Committee plays a critical role as to the state’s relationship with its municipalities, and Rep. Miller not only brings his state legislative experience to his new role as chair, but his valuable experience as a former first selectman of his home town,” said Speaker Sharkey, a former chair of the Planning & Development Committee himself.

Rep. Miller was first elected in 2011 in a special election. He represents the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam.

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Linares Denies Rumors of Challenge to Courtney in Next Election    

State Senator (R) Art Linares

State Senator (R) Art Linares

“I have heard the rumors,” State Representative Phil Miller told ValleyNewsNow.com in a recent interview regarding State Senator Art Linares considering a challenge to Congressman Joe Courtney in the 2016 elections. Miller noted that the 2014 elections were tough for Democrats, citing the loss of 14 State Representative seats in the statehouse. Miller also commented that he, himself, had an uphill battle to survive the Republican sweep.

Linares’ spokesman, Adam Liegeot, said, “No,” however, when asked if Linares might challenge Courtney in the next Congressional race.

Linares’ numbers in the last election were impressive. He beat his Democratic challenger, Emily Bjornberg, 22,335 to 17,046, out of a total 39,932 votes cast. The percentages were: 56 percent for Linares and 43 percent for Bjornberg. Most impressive about Republican Linares’ victory was that he won what was once considered a safe Democratic district.

Congressman Joe Courtney (D)

Congressman Joe Courtney (D)

As for Courtney in the last election, he won his fifth term in office with landslide numbers against New London real estate agent Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh. Many considered the Congressman’s challenger weak, however, and state Republicans did not appear to mount a major effort to defeat Courtney.

The Republicans already control the House of Representatives, 234 Republicans to 201 Democrats. Some might argue that if Linares were to become a member of the House Majority, he would be in a better position to help his constituents than Minority member Courtney.

In the same interview, State Representative Phil Miller also commented on what he considered the negativity of candidate Bjornberg’s recent campaign against Linares. “People around here don’t like that,” Miller said. In contrast, however, it might be noted that the winning candidate for Governor, Dan Malloy, ran highly negative TV ads charging that his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, paid no taxes, and yet Malloy went on to win in what was, unquestionably, a tough year for the Democrats.

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Sen. Linares: “We can’t afford more rate hikes.”

Sen. Art Linares (R-Westbrook) today sent to state regulators a list of nearly 800 people who have signed his online petition at www.senatorlinares.com in opposition to Connecticut Light & Power’s proposed service rate hike.

On Wednesday (Dec. 17), the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) is expected to finalize a $7.12 increase in the average monthly bill that Connecticut Light & Power sends out to its residential customers.  The $7.12 hike would come on top of a Jan. 1 increase of $18.48, on average, for CL&P residential customers.

“As state senator, I represent 100,000 people in a region that stretches along the Connecticut River Valley from Portland south to Old Saybrook and Lyme,” Sen. Linares said.  “Hundreds of Connecticut rate payers have signed this petition because they want state regulators to deny CL&P’s proposed service rate hike.  We can’t afford more rate hikes.”

Regardless of whether rates are hiked on Wednesday, Sen. Linares urged residents to continue to email state regulators at PURA.ExecutiveSecretary@ct.gov if they wish to express their concerns about rising costs.

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Carney Cruises to Victory in 23rd District Republican Convention

Devin Carney

Devin Carney

Devin Carney, Republican candidate for State Representative, won the 23rd District Convention by a vote of 10-4. His campaign was able to earn unanimous support from Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. This included votes from the Lyme First Selectman, Ralph Eno, the Old Saybrook First Selectman, Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., and the current State Representative for the 23rd District, Marilyn Giuliano, who also gave Carney his nominating speech and has endorsed him.

In a statement, Giuliano said, “I believe Devin will work for all of us with energy and integrity, and with an interest not in politics, but public service.” Giuliano lost her convention in 2002 by onlytwo votes on a second ballot vote after the first vote failed to determine a winner by majority, but defeated her opponent in a primary due to her showing in her hometown of Old Saybrook.

In addition to the support at convention, Carney has received support from each town – which can be seen through his strong fundraising effort. He collected 95 donations from Old Saybrook, 57 from Old Lyme, 35 from Westbrook, and 18 from Lyme.

Carney stated, “The results at convention were a testament to the hard work I’ve put in these past few months and to the confidence the delegates have in me to win in November. I bring new, fresh ideas to the table and can’t wait to get up to Hartford to offer some much-needed common sense. I am not your typical politician, but rather a regular person just trying to fix our economy, get jobs back in Connecticut, and help rejuvenate the Republican Party in this state.”

He continued, “Most importantly, I believe the people of the 23rd District deserve a representative who understands the unique issues in each of the four towns. While I live in Old Saybrook, my family is from Westbrook, my mother lives in Lyme, and my longtime girlfriend lives in Old Lyme with her children. I have a personal stake in each town and will be a representative for all; the people of the 23rd deserve nothing less.”

For more information about Carney’s campaign, contact Melissa Bonner at carneyfor23pr@gmail.com.

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Rep. Miller Ends Haddam Land Swap Saga

State Rep. Phil Miller

State Rep. Phil Miller

State Representative Philip Miller (D- Haddam, Chester, Deep River, Essex) voted in favor of H.B. No. 6672, an act concerning the conveyance of certain parcels of state land.  The bill included the formal repeal of the open-ended Haddam Land Swap dead brokered in 2011.

“I worked with the staff attorney and the members of the Government Elections and Administration Committee to formally close the land swap,” remarked Rep Miller. “Preventing this deal will ensure state-owned lands are not developed, keeping our air, water and land clean.”

The deal originally fell through due to a great discretion in the values of the two parcels to be swapped between the State of Connecticut (specifically the Department of Environmental and Energy Protection (DEEP)) and Riverhouse Properties.

‘The land swap did not represent the best interests of the people of Haddam. Conservation is incredibly important to maintaining the beauty of the region,” said Rep. Miller. “While I agree that in general economic development is essential, we must find better ways to balance the conflicting desires of seeing more investment in our communities while investing in all that we already have.”

The bill passed the House VOTE COUNT. The Senate passed the bill VOTE COUNT. The bill will now be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

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Rep. Miller Votes to Raise the Minimum Wage – Bill Passes the House and Senate

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Philip Miller (D- Haddam, Chester, Deep River, Essex) voted in favor of S.B. 387, An Act Increasing The Minimum Fair Wage.  The bill would raise the minimum wage to $8.70 per hour, effective January 1, 2014 and to $9.00 effective January 1, 2015.

“I support this bill because Connecticut’s families are struggling,” remarked Rep Miller. “These full-time employees earn a legal wage that puts them below the poverty line. Connecticut is a very expensive state to live in and raising the minimum wage ensures that Connecticut’s workers can afford to stay in Connecticut.”

According to the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS) and the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 10% of those employed in Connecticut earn the minimum wage. 80% of those earning the minimum wage are adults older than 20, 50% of whom have had some college education.

The minimum wage disproportionately affects women; 60% of the 106,000 minimum wage earners in Connecticut are female. One in three women workers in Connecticut earn the minimum wage and 20% of all minimum wage earners are female heads of households, single moms working to provide for their families.

“The National Employment Law Project found that two-thirds of America’s low-wage workers work for companies with more than a hundred employees, such as Walmart and McDonald’s,” argued Miller. “Small business owners know that paying their workers a higher wage makes them work harder and reduces turnover. Most small businesses in Connecticut already pay their workers more than the minimum fair wage required by law.”

Economists on all sides of this argument agree that what the economy needs most are consumers. Low-income workers spend their entire paychecks in their community, unable to afford to accumulate savings. “Our farms and small businesses need consumers therefore giving low-income, full-time employees an extra $936 per year for their labor will help put more money into our local economy.”

The bill passed the House 89-53. The Senate passed the bill on May 23. The bill will now be sent to the Governor, who has indicated his support.

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Linares – Why I Voted “No” to Undocumented Immigrant Drivers Licences

LinaresJan9oathI am a proud Cuban-American, and I believe in the American dream.  My father and grandparents immigrated to the United States after the attempt to rid Cuba of Fidel Castro failed. Before they fled, my grandfather was imprisoned for opposing communism.

Here in America, my family was able to realize the American Dream.  They worked hard and achieved success.  I saw their work ethic and emulated it.  That work ethic helped me to co-found a successful business and helped me get elected to the Connecticut State Senate.

It was a proud day just about five months ago when I held up my right hand and took the oath of office in the Senate Chamber.  I was surrounded by my family, and I thanked them for all that they have done for me and for pursuing their dreams here in America.

In America today, our immigration system is broken.  It needs to be fixed. I have followed the immigration debate closely in Washington DC. I once worked for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.  Sen. Rubio is currently leading the effort to craft workable immigration reform in Congress.

Like Sen Rubio, I believe this country is ready to support immigration reform, as long as it is:

  • pro-economic growth
  • strengthens families
  • fosters assimilation
  • prevents another wave of illegal immigration from happening again.

The immigration bill being taken up in the United States Senate is an important starting point in the effort to improve a failed and broken system.  The federal legislation is not perfect.  Primarily, the complaint seems to be about the size and scope of the bill. But I believe Sen. Rubio proposed it for the right reasons. We can’t leave the system the way it is. The status quo is just as bad.

If Sen. Rubio’s plan passes:

  • People here in this country illegally now who are not paying taxes will be paying income tax and revenue to the government.
  • They will also be given the opportunity to improve themselves, to go up the economic ladder to become net contributors to our economic life in this country as consumers and buyers.
  • Legal immigration, if done right for this country with the proper enforcement mechanisms, should be a net positive for the United States and fuel economic growth.

Passage of immigration reform at the federal level will solve the problem that the State of Connecticut is trying to resolve, and many others as well.

Here at the state level, I am sympathetic to those who note that this is a public safety issue.  I agree that we want every driver in Connecticut to prove that they are a safe driver, regardless of where they came from.   I care about every person in my state senate district, and I agree that something needs to be done to bring undocumented workers out of the shadows.

But when you do something like this, you have to do it right.

A comprehensive study of this concept would seem to be the appropriate, common sense solution.  That study – which could be conducted in a short amount of time  – would get any loose ends and inconsistencies cleared up and better prepare our state to implement this legislation.  But that study idea was rejected.

I would have liked to have seen safeguards inserted into the bill to protect against fraud and abuse.  This bill doesn’t have those safeguards.

Undocumented immigrants seeking licenses should prove they are who they say they are – – just as those of us who are U.S. citizens have to prove we are who we say we are.  For example, U.S. citizens must provide original documentation to verify who they are to get their driver’s license.  Photocopies and non-certified copies are not accepted by the DMV.  Under this bill, that same requirement does not apply for undocumented immigrants.

When I took that oath of office five months ago, surrounded by my family, I thought about all they had gone through to get to this point.  During that ceremony, I also made a vow that I would never vote for a bill – however noble its purpose – if I felt uncomfortable about the consequences of my vote.

I appreciate the concept behind this bill and I give tremendous credit to the many advocates who have worked on it.  As the son and grandson of immigrants, I share their passion to change the system.

But in the bill I voted on today, the unanswered questions it created were too numerous.  The unintended consequences it could create were too vast.

I believe we should take the time to get those questions answered before we set this process in motion.  For these reasons, I voted no.

Sen. Art Linares

 

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Letter: In Defense of W

To the Editor:

On behalf of those Americans who did not cheer the departure of President Bush, I would like to thank and defend him for his honorable service to America.

There are legions of us who recognize his decency, his many accomplishments (CAFTA, Medicare reform, tax cuts, democracy in Iraq, missile defense, unprecedented aid to Africa and Asia, denuclearizing of Libya, taking the lessons learned from Katrina to reform the emergency response system) and his unwavering commitment to keep America safe.

I and those like me respect and honor President Bush because after America was brutally attacked on 9/11, he never lost his will and sense of urgency to keep Americans safe. Despite nauseating teeth-clacking from the left, President Bush put policies and programs in place that protected America for the next seven and one-half years.

We honor George Bush for sending a strong signal to the enemies of peace and freedom that he believes in peace through strength and that he understands that talk-therapy is out of the question when dealing with the pathological hatred felt by those who want to destroy the infidels- us. He had the leadership to ignore the anti-war agitators, hand-wringers, and naysayers. He and our brave heroes have kept us safe. Although he has been cruelly, dangerously, and unjustly maligned, Georg Bush will be judged an extremely consequential president.

Sincerely,

Alison Nichols, M.Div.
Essex

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Sen. Art Linares Tours Chester-based Roto-Frank, Inc.

Roto-Frank President and CEO Chris Dimou (left) and Sen. Art Linares (right) chat during Linares’ April 11 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

Roto-Frank President and CEO Chris Dimou (left) and Sen. Art Linares (right) chat during Linares’ April 11 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

Sen. Art Linares on April 11 toured Chester-based Roto-Frank, Inc. (www.roto-frank.com) and spoke with the manufacturer’s 50 employees.

Roto-Frank President and CEO Chris Dimou led Sen. Linares on the tour, introducing Sen. Linares to employees and discussing the company’s future goals. The company creates worldwide leading hardware technology for windows and doors.

Sen. Linares’ tour coincided with National Window Safety Week, which is observed annually during the first full week in April.  The designation aims to heighten public awareness of what can be done to help keep families safe from the risk of accidental falls or injuries in the home.

Sen. Art Linares speaks with Roto-Frank employees during his April 11 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

Sen. Art Linares speaks with Roto-Frank employees during his April 11 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

“Windows play a vital role in home safety, serving as a secondary escape route in the event of a fire or other emergency, but they can also pose a risk for a fall if safety measures are not followed,” Sen. Linares said.  “I was a pleasure to tour Roto-Frank to see firsthand the great work being done in this area.”

Sen. Linares, who serves on the legislature’s Commerce Committee and the bipartisan Manufacturing Caucus, has been visiting with area manufacturers to discuss their concerns and to learn how state government can help them grow and retain jobs.

“By listening to area manufacturers, I can take their concerns and ideas directly to Hartford,” Sen. Linares said. “My goal is to pass policies at the State Capitol which help our local businesses thrive.”

Sen. Linares is supporting a bill to eliminate the state’s business entity tax and a proposal which aims to establish a “Learn Here, Live Here” program to provide an incentive for students who graduate from Connecticut colleges or technical schools to establish a new business in the state.

Sen. Linares (www.senatorlinares.com) can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or at 800-842 1421. Sen. Linares represents the 33rd Senate District, which encompasses Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

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State Senator Art Linares Voted “No” on New “Gun Violence Prevention” Legislation

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares voted “no” on the recently enacted, new Connecticut state law, entitled, “An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.” Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed the bill into law on April 4.

In explaining his “no” vote the Senator said in a written statement, “Having witnessed the emotional accounts of parents, teachers and citizens after the Newtown tragedy, I am more committed than ever to help create a safer Connecticut.”

He continued, “After much consideration and talking with many residents of the 33rd district, I decided to vote no on the bill. While I support some of the individual elements such as criminal background checks and discontinuing the early release program for violent felons, I concluded that [the bill] did not correctly address the most important issues of safe neighborhoods, school security, and most importantly, mental health.”

Following three more paragraphs of explaining the reasons for his “no” vote, the Senator concluded, “Now that [the bill] has passed, I will continue moving forward, working with our school superintendents to address school safety issues, with our mental health experts to get access to needed resources, and with gun owners to help them understand the new regulations.”

Sen. Linares represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

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Sen. Linares Welcomes Essex Steam Train & Valley Railroad Officials to Capitol

Sen. Art Linares (center) welcomed FVRR Treasurer Bob Wuchert (left) and Essex Steam Train & Riverboat President Bob Bell.

Sen. Art Linares (center) welcomed FVRR Treasurer Bob Wuchert (left) and Essex Steam Train & Riverboat President Bob Bell.

On March 20, 22 volunteer organizations representing Connecticut state parks and tourist sites visited the State Capitol.   Among the groups was the Essex-based Friends of Valley Railroad (FVRR), a not-for-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to the awareness, appreciation and historic preservation of railroads through education and participation.  For more details see www.friendsvrr.org ,  www.essexsteamtrain.com , and www.senatorlinares.com .

Sen. Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook. He can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov.

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Sen. Art Linares to Hear from Chester Taxpayers March 18

Sen. Art Linares (right) talks with a taxpayer during a Colchester town meeting.  Sen. Linares will hold a Town Hall Meeting at the Chester Elementary School auditorium from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Sen. Art Linares (right) talks with a taxpayer during a Colchester town meeting. Sen. Linares will hold a Town Hall Meeting at the Chester Elementary School auditorium from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on March 18

On Monday, March 18, Sen. Art Linares will hold a Town Hall Meeting at the Chester Elementary School auditorium from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Sen. Linares will take questions from taxpayers and discuss the state budget and efforts to make Connecticut more business-friendly.

Sen. Linares is co-sponsoring several pro-business measures, including a bill to eliminate the business entity tax and a bill which provides incentives for college and technical school graduates to establish a new business in the state.

“I look forward to talking with Chester taxpayers,” Linares said. “I’ve held similar town hall meetings in Deep River, Colchester, Essex, and Portland and I have found these discussions to be very helpful and informative.  I take your ideas and concerns and bring them with me to the State Capitol.  The taxpayers are my customers, so come out on March 18 with any questions you have.”

Those who cannot attend can contact Linares at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or at (800) 842 1421. On the web: www.senatorlinares.com .

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Sen. Linares, Lyme, Deep River Leaders to Fight Property Tax Hikes

LinaresMar4COST

Sen. Art Linares, Lyme First Selectman and COST Board Member Ralph Eno, Deep River First Selectman and COST President Richard Smith, and Rep. Phil Miller.

At a March 4 press conference at the State Capitol complex, the Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST) voiced opposition to the governor’s car tax plan.

Mayors and first selectmen discussed how the plan would cause municipalities to lose millions of dollars in tax revenue and be forced to make up for that loss in other ways, namely through increased local property taxes.

Sen. Art Linares (www.senatorlinares.com) was among those supporting the town leaders at the press conference.  “No one likes paying the car tax and we’d all like to see it eliminated,” Sen. Linares said.  “But the plan that is before the state legislature would lead to higher property taxes for everyone.  The bottom line is that we simply can’t afford higher taxes.  By working together and speaking with one voice, we can put this car tax plan in the breakdown lane.”

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Rep. Miller Honored at Heart Health Awareness Month Forum

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

Representative Philip Miller (D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam) was recognized by Lily’s Kids, Inc. and presented a certificate of appreciation for his work on promoting children’s health and heart health awareness. Rep. Miller was joined by Lily Gagliardi, BA – Founder and C.E.O.  and Amy D. Gagliardi, MA, IBCLC, RLC, Chief Operating Officer for Lily’s Kids Inc.

“How to live a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important things we can teach our children. I am honored to be presented an award by Lily’s Kids and am proud of the work they are doing to promote good habits, heart health, and eating natural local food,” Rep. Miller said.

Lily’s Kids Inc. is a Non-profit Organization for Children is committed to ensuring that all children live healthy, productive lives.  We believe it is the right of all children to have a healthy start in life.  We support Maternal and Child Health initiatives and evidence based interventions and are especially focused on the prevention and treatment of heart conditions in children. For more information please visit: Lilyskidsinc.org

Heart Yourself engages the youth to learn about healthy lifestyle choices including healthy eating, exercise, and not smoking to help prevent heart disease. Through a combination of age appropriate hands on discussions and activities, children and young adults are exposed to fun and creative ways to keep their hearts healthy. This program was selected for us to present in Washington, DC at the 2012 National Health Promotion Summit in April. Heart Yourself has been brought to all ages from elementary school through college, it is now available for toddler and caregiver groups.

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Sen. Art Linares Tours Chester Firm AeroCision

Sen. Art Linares (left) listens to AeroCision CEO Andrew Gibson during a Feb. 27 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

Sen. Art Linares (left) listens to AeroCision CEO Andrew Gibson during a Feb. 27 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

Sen. Art Linares on Feb. 27 toured Chester-based manufacturer AeroCision with CEO Andrew Gibson.  Sen. Linares, who serves on the legislature’s Commerce Committee and is a member of the bipartisan Manufacturing Caucus, met with company employees and learned about AeroCision’s operations during the hour-long visit.

AeroCision CEO Andrew Gibson (center left) and Sen. Art Linares (center right) chat with AeroCision employees during Linares’ Feb. 27 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer.

AeroCision CEO Andrew Gibson (center left) and Sen. Art Linares (center right) chat with AeroCision employees during Linares’ Feb. 27 tour of the Chester-based manufacturer. 

AeroCision (www.aerocision.com) makes and assembles complex aerospace parts involving exotic metals and sophisticated processes. The company has built a reputation for having the best customer service culture in the business, and its employees are known for their superior engineering and machining skills.

“I am doing my very best at the State Capitol to improve our state’s business environment so that small manufacturers like AeroCision can grow and retain jobs,” Sen. Linares said.  “It was great to meet AeroCision’s talented employees and to hear directly from Andrew Gibson.  When companies like AeroCision succeed, our whole region benefits from that success.  As a legislator, I aim to be a voice in Hartford for businesses like AeroCision.”

Sen. Linares plans to reach out to high schools and vocational-technical schools throughout the area to raise awareness about the rewards of choosing manufacturing careers.  He has proposed a variety of pro-business legislation, including the elimination of the state’s business entity tax.

Sen. Linares (www.senatorlinares.com) can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or at (800) 842 1421. He represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

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