As Events Remain Sharply Limited by COVID, a Coalition Tries for Middle Ground with Lamont

As winter approaches without any indication of when restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19 will be loosened for Connecticut, the events industry  — catering businesses, event venues, designers, florists, party rental companies, musicians and DJs — are banding together to ask state and federal officials for economic assistance and for the chance to reopen. The guidelines, put in place in the spring in a series of executive orders by Gov. Ned Lamont, currently limit gatherings to 25 people indoors and 100 people outside, including staff.  Shiran Nicholson, owner of the Knowlton, a venue in Bridgeport, said that those restrictions

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Montville Fire Departments Collecting Supplies for Victims of Hurricane Laura

MONTVILLE — The four independent fire departments in Montville are collecting donations of water, cleaning supplies and bug spray, which they will ship to Louisiana to help the victims of Hurricane Laura in the hard-hit town of Lake Charles.  The fire departments will begin collecting the donations on Wednesday. They hope to have enough items to fill at least one, if not two, 53-foot trailers.  Their goal is to ship the materials within a week, said Steven Frischling, the Public Information Officer at the Chesterfield Fire Company, but the earlier they receive the donations, the earlier they can ship them.

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With the Minimum Wage to Increase to $12 on Sept. 1, Elected Officials and Business Owners Debate Possible Delay

Connecticut’s minimum wage is set to increase from $11 to $12 per hour on September 1.  The change is the result of a 2019 bill which increases the minimum wage by $1 per hour every 11 months until it reaches $15 per hour. September 1 will mark the second increase of five. The next increase is scheduled for August 1, 2021, when the minimum wage will increase to $13 per hour.  Advocates say that this wage increase is critical for minimum wage workers who are struggling to pay their living expenses. The unexpected and nearly unprecedented loss of revenue due

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Jump in Domestic Violence Across Connecticut tied to Challenges of COVID

“It’s hard to convey what a perfect scenario this pandemic is for an abusive personality,” said Mary Jane Foster, president and CEO of Interval House, a domestic violence shelter in Hartford.  According to Foster, the combination of isolation, job loss, financial strain and the stress of homeschooling can trigger higher levels of abuse while closing off potential means of escape.  Data provided by the Connecticut State Police Public Information Office shows that domestic violence calls to the Connecticut State Police increased overall in March — 93 calls compared to 83 in March 2019 — but dropped again in April, May

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Openings for Insurance, 64,000 Jobs and $3 Billion Business Staked on China-U.S. Trade Tension for Connecticut

The so-called trade wars between the U.S. and China have affected businesses not only in Connecticut, but across the country. From 2018 to 2019, exports to China declined 11.5 percent and imports declined 16.2 percent, according to U.S. Census data. In the first half of 2020, imports from China declined an additional 17 percent. In part this is a result of the high tariffs both countries have levied —  tariffs which remain on $370 billion worth of Chinese goods imported into the United States and $110 billion worth of American goods exported to China. Paul Hebert, founder of the Manchester,

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At Friday Press Conference in New London, Regional Leaders Discuss Domestic Violence Funding and the Costs of COVID

Domestic violence agencies in southeast Connecticut are worried about a shortage of funds as they continue to face the daily challenges brought on by the pandemic.  “We’re still short so much money,” said Kathie Verano, chief executive officer of Safe Futures, a domestic violence shelter located in New London. “We’re begging for money from anyone.”     According to data provided by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence total communication between shelter staff and victims statewide increased seven percent from last year — although this number includes an increase in check-ins with clients, as well as victims calling the shelter.  Verano said that Safe

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Across Connecticut Local Officials Report Better than Expected Tax Collections

In a world where many normal bureaucratic functions have been put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, property taxes in Connecticut are still being paid on time. Tax collectors across the state contacted by CT Examiner say that they have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of money they have collected so far in 2020. “I thought it would be a lot less,” said Deborah Fioretti, tax collector for the town of Avon. “It was better than I expected,” agreed Ridgefield Tax Collector Jane Berendsen-Hill.   On April 1, Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order requiring that towns offer the

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Yale Offers Online Course for Public School Employees to Manage Stress and Anxiety of Students

As schools prepare to reopen in the fall, Yale University is rolling out a new online course for school educators in Connecticut on how to manage stress and emotions in the classroom.  The course, entitled “Social and Emotional Learning in Times of Uncertainty and Stress,” was developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, and will be made available to all adults who work with students in Connecticut public schools. It is funded by Dalio Education, a philanthropic organization that has invested over $95 million in public education in Connecticut. According to Mark Brackett, the Center’s director, the 10-hour course

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Despite Pandemic, Local Schools Expand or Wait-list for Fall Pre-Kindergarten Programs

In the last two years, several school districts in southeast Connecticut have decided to pilot universal pre-kindergarten programs for local three and four-year olds. Now, coronavirus-related concerns of safety, finance and teaching method, pose unforeseen challenges to educating their youngest pupils, even as the programs prove popular. The Westbrook school district, for example, introduced a universal pre-k program last year, transitioning from a half-day model to a full-day model.  The district intended to expand that program this year, before pandemic concerns put those plans on hold, and a combination of financial ramifications from COVID-19 and concerns about overpopulating classrooms meant

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Wesleyan Professor Tackles Human Hierarchies with the Aid of Animals

After Dr. Kari Weil earned tenure at Wake Forest University, she decided it was time to get herself a horse. Weil thought she might never get married, and saw this as another way of falling in love. She had fond memories of family trips to Michigan as a child, where she would ride, without a helmet, through the surrounding woods. She named her horse Cacahuète, the French word for “peanut,” because the horse was the color of peanut butter.  Weil eventually did marry, and she moved to California to be with her husband, bringing Cacahuète with her. She taught at

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Fearing Health Insurance Rate Hikes in the Wake of COVID, Senate Democrats Propose Caps, Subsidies

The number of people seeking medical care for COVID-19-related reasons has sparked fears that Connecticut insurance companies, set to file their rates by the end of July, may raise 2021 premiums to astronomical levels. In response, members of the Connecticut State Senate are proposing measures that may offset or prevent some of these potential costs. In the “Juneteenth Agenda,” unveiled on June 19 of this year, the Senate Democrats offered a list of reforms in policing, education, housing, and healthcare, among other things. One of the proposals involves setting limits on premium hikes by insurers and provides state-level subsidies to

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