May 25, 2022

Probate Court Gives Town Control of Former Nurses Memorial Fund

DEEP RIVER– The probate court has given town officials control over a charitable fund that had been supervised by the former Deep River Public Health Nurses Agency.

First Selectman Richard Smith said Old Saybrook Probate Judge Roger Goodnow decided at a Nov. 29 hearing held in Deep River that the nurses Memorial Fund should be controlled by the town, with Town Treasurer Thomas Lindner expected to be designated as trustee for the fund in a full written decision expected next week. Goodnow assumed jurisdiction over the case after Deep River Probate Judge Patricia Damon, who conducted an initial hearing in July, disqualified herself from the case.

The Memorial Fund, comprised of charitable donations from area residents, was managed for years by the Deep River Public Health Nurses as a charitable fund for needy town residents. The board of selectmen moved to secure control of the fund, which currently contains about $72,000, after voters discontinued further town funding for Deep River Public Health Nurses in a May 18 referendum. Deep River Public Health Nurses, which had coordinated visiting nurse services for the town for decades, formally disbanded with the start of the current fiscal year on July 1. The town has contracted with the Centerbrook-based Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley for visiting nurse and other community health-related services.

Smith said the newly appointed Community Health Board, which held its first meeting last week, would develop criteria and a procedure for disbursements from the fund. He said the fund would continue to be used to provide assistance to needy town residents, for items such as food, fuel, and medicines. He said the first disbursements from the fund would occur next year.

The fund had been frozen during the probate court proceedings, which stretched past the Thanksgiving holiday, when the fund had usually been used to provide turkeys and food baskets to needy residents. Smith said other charitable fund raising efforts, by the Deep River Rotary Club, elementary school students, and a Stuff the Cruiser drive coordinated by town police, had raised about $4,600 that would be dedicated to helping needy residents during the holidays. “All the Thanksgiving baskets went out and we’re in good shape as far as the Christmas baskets also,” he said.