Michael DiGiovancarlo Explains His ‘No’ Vote on Legalized Marijuana

Last Thursday, the state legislature passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana, sending the proposal to the desk of Gov. Ned Lamont, who has said he will sign it into law on Tuesday. Effective July 1, possession of limited amounts of marijuana will be legal for people aged 21 and over, and legal sales of the drug are expected to begin next summer. The House passed the legislation 76-62, with one Republican voting in support, and 12 Democrats opposing.  One of those 12 Democrats is State Rep. Michael DiGiovancarlo of Waterbury, who defeated Republican incumbent Stephanie Cummings 52.9 percent to 47.1

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Hammerhead Worm, Spotted Locally, No Cause for Concern, Says Scientist

A number of hammerhead worms found in Old Saybrook are not a cause for concern, and may actually be helpful in managing a damaging invasive earthworm in the area, according to a scientist from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Dr. Gale Ridge, an entomologist in the CAES insect inquiry office, said she was still waiting to see one of the worms captured in Old Saybrook. But from what she has seen, she thinks it’s a species called the wandering broadhead planarian that is found in Pennsylvania, and has been seen in Canada. Hammerhead worms – a term that applies to

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Neighboring Towns Hope Federal Dollars Can Ease High Cost of Water Needs

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East Hampton may be best known for Lake Pocotopaug, a nearly square mile freshwater attraction, but that water does little to help town residents struggle to draw water from their wells every summer.  Town Manager David Cox said East Hampton has been trying for decades to figure out a way to expand its water service to bring water to these residents and to provide clean water to others faced with expensive treatment systems to manage pollutants including magnesium and PFAS. Nearby Portland has struggles of its own. Some of the pipes in the town’s 41-mile water system are over a

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Republicans Choose Party Veteran Ben Proto as State Chairman

NEW HAVEN — Connecticut Republicans elected Ben Proto, a veteran of GOP politics, as the new head of the state party on Tuesday night. Proto, 62, has a legal practice in Stratford specializing in business and real estate law. Proto led the campaign for Donald Trump in Connecticut, and earlier supported Steve Obsitnik’s campaign for governor in 2018. Proto was the state coordinator for John McCain’s presidential run in 2000. On Tuesday night, Proto beat Gary Byron, of Newington, who served as a state representative from 2015 to 2019 and is now a radio talk show host at WDRC-AM, as

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High Bids Stymie Progress on Installing Sewers in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — Just two companies bid to install sewers in four beach communities in Old Lyme, and at costs which were significantly in excess of what had been estimated for the project. The bids were $17.5 and $18.5 million — higher than the roughly $10 million estimate from engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill, said Scott Boulanger, said director of the Board of Governors of the Miami Beach Association.  Officials from the three chartered beach communities and the town of Old Lyme told CT Examiner that the high bid had triggered a new bidding process that will split the project

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Joe de la Cruz Talks Marijuana, Jobs at Pratt & Whitney and Electric Boat

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Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill into law on Tuesday that legalizes recreational marijuana. Effective July 1, possession of limited amounts of marijuana will be legal for people aged 21 and over, and legal sales of the drug are expected to begin next summer. The House passed the legislation 76-62, with one Republican voting in support and 12 Democrats opposing. Ten Democrats and three Republicans were absent from the vote.  One of those Democrats was State Rep. Joe de la Cruz of Groton, who ran unopposed in 2020 and beat his Republican opponent handily in 2018. The Connecticut Examiner spoke

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Christine Goupil Weighs in on ‘No’ Vote to Legalizing Marijuana

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Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana into law on Tuesday, after the state legislature passed the legislation last week. Effective July 1, possession of limited amounts of marijuana will be legal for people aged 21 and over, and legal sales of the drug are expected to begin next summer. The House passed the legislation 76-62, with one Republican voting in support, and 12 Democrats opposing.  One of those 12 Democrats is State Rep. Christine Goupil of Clinton, who defeated Republican John Hall by just 274 votes last November. The district had previously been represented by Republican Jesse

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Philip Morris Announces Corporate Move to Fairfield County

One of the world’s largest tobacco companies, Philip Morris International announced it was relocating its U.S. corporate headquarters and 200 jobs to Fairfield County next year. The company, which touted its desire to move away from tobacco and even eliminate smoking, will not receive any incentives from the state, and the jobs will be employees relocating from the existing headquarters in New York City. Indra Nooyi and James Smith, co-chairs of Advance CT – a non-profit that works with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development to retain and recruit businesses – touted Connecticut’s “natural strengths”: quality of life,

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Connecticut Plans Statewide Online School For K-12

Virtual classrooms may become a permanent fixture in the state of Connecticut.  New legislation tasks the state’s Department of Education to develop plans for a K-12 statewide remote learning school that would use the same curriculum and have the same school year length as a traditional school, but would be under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Education. Peter Yazbak, director of communications for the Department of Education, said that state officials still need to work out the specifics of how the school would be funded and which students would be eligible.  A proposal should be sent to legislators

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Peggy Lyons Makes Her Case for a Second Term

Madison First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons is running for a second term in the town’s top elected office, facing challenger Republican Bruce Wilson, a Republican and member of the Board of Selectmen. Lyons was elected first selectwoman in 2019, upsetting Republican Tom Banisch by a few hundred votes. Lyons sat down with the Connecticut Examiner to discuss her goals for a second term.  This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.  What have you’ve learned from your time as First Selectwoman?  We have an incredible staff that is so dedicated to serving our community, and there is a huge support

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Bruce Wilson Makes His Case For Madison First Selectman

Madison Selectman Bruce Wilson is challenging Democratic incumbent Peggy Lyons for Madison First Selectman. Wilson, a Republican, seeks the town’s top elected job after years serving on the Madison Board of Selectmen and a previous stint on the Board of Education. Lyons was elected first selectwoman in 2019, upsetting Republican Tom Banisch by a few hundred votes. Wilson sat down with the Connecticut Examiner to discuss what inspired him to join the race.  This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.  What are some of the biggest issues facing Madison right now?  We don’t seem to get a lot

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Cook Weighs in On ‘Nay’ to Marijuana Bill

Last Thursday, the state legislature passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana, sending the proposal to the desk of Gov. Ned Lamont, who has said he will sign it into law on Tuesday. Effective July 1, possession of limited amounts of marijuana will be legal for people aged 21 and over, and legal sales of the drug are expected to begin next summer. The House passed the legislation 76-62, with one Republican voting in support, and 12 Democrats opposing.  One of those 12 Democrats is State Rep. Michelle Cook of Torrington, who beat Republican Molly Spino by just 304 votes last

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P&Z Not Bound by Groton’s ‘Binding’ Agreement, Limits Mystic Oral School Redevelopment

GROTON — At a special workshop on June 14, the Planning and Zoning Commission reached a consensus that any changes to zoning the former Mystic Education Center property would be limited to small or moderate density development consistent with the surrounding neighborhood and the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development. The decision is at odds with a controversial proposal to build a 931-unit complex on the site at 240 Oral School Road.  “It’s not good to cram a lot of new housing in that area, it’s not realistic,” said Jeff Pritchard, chair of the commission.  Commission members made it clear

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A Minor Tweak that Doubles Funding for Some Regional Schools

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A minor tweak in Connecticut’s funding formula for school districts will more than double the amount that Lyme-Old Lyme schools receive from the state over the next two years.  In 2021, Lyme received $60,216 and Old Lyme received $238,583. According to projections from the School and State Finance Project, Old Lyme’s state funding will increase to $370,531 in 2022 and $502,478 in 2023. Lyme’s will increase to $89,603 in 2022 and $118,989 in 2023.  The increase is a result of a “regional bonus” that gives regional school districts $100 for every student enrolled in a regional school. A previous bonus

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Ørsted – Eversource Donate Funds to Marine Science Education in Groton

GROTON — Offshore wind partners Ørsted and Eversource have awarded a four-year grant totalling $950,000 to Project Oceanology, a nonprofit marine science education and research facility based in Groton.  “Our focus is on STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — and our collaboration with Ørsted and Eversource will help us train the future STEM workforce in the critical fight against climate change,”  said Jim McCauley, executive director of “Project O,” to a small audience of local officials on the UConn Avery Point campus Thursday afternoon. McCauley, who has been in his position for five years, said in the first

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Hack, Corrigan Head to a Tokyo Olympics ‘More Focused on the Competition’

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By the end of the summer, Louis Zubek, the former rowing coach for Lyme-Old Lyme High School, will be able to say that he has coached not one, but two Olympic athletes.  That’s because Lyme-Old Lyme alumni Austin Hack, 29, and Liam Corrigan, 23, will be part of the U.S. men’s eight boat that races on the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo at this summer’s Olympic Games.  Although Hack and Corrigan are competing in the same boat, Zubek said it was a shame that he didn’t have the opportunity to coach both athletes together at Lyme-Old Lyme — Hack graduated

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Deep River Ice — Ice Cream and Italian Ice Opening in Early July

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Chelsea Fremut said she and her fiance David McDonald love Italian ice, and they wanted to share it with Deep River. And just in time for the summer heat, they are opening Deep River Ice – a new ice cream and Italian ice stand on Main Street. “There’s not really much else anywhere local, the closest italian ice is in Middletown or New Haven,” Fremut said. “We want to enjoy the community that I grew up in and see the kids enjoy it.” The italian ice is coming from Micalizzi’s in Bridgeport, where McDonald grew up and became friends with

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A 6-3 Vote Gives The Ledges a Green Light in Madison

MADISON — In a 6-3 vote Thursday night, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a special exception for the building application of The Ledges, a seven-unit residential complex at 856 Boston Post Road, within the the town’s zone of cluster housing.  The project has drawn controversy partly because blasting will be needed to clear space for septic systems and for a water main, especially because water service could be disrupted to neighboring properties  The complex is named for the Ledges, the 5600-square foot home built in 1903 on the site and calls for rehabbing the house into two condominium residences. Two

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As Starlight Inn Residents Wait For Better Options, CTDOT Files Eminent Domain Actions

EAST LYME — The Connecticut Department of Transportation has filed eminent domain proceedings and offers of compensation with the courts on two properties near Exit 74 at Flander Rd. to make way for a planned $142 million redesign of the I-95 interchange.  The state has offered $1.92 million for 256 Flanders Road, the location of a Mobil Station. The property owner, East Lyme RE LLC,  has filed an appeal, according to court documents. The state has also offered $1.26 million for the Starlight Inn at 256 Flanders Road. The owner, Star-Inns LLC, has until Aug. 18 to file an appeal. 

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Lamont: ‘I Think They Took a Lot of the Guts Out of That Bill’

Legislative efforts to further regulate broadband internet as a utility fell flat out of fear that the new rules could make Connecticut the target of a lawsuit. But a less ambitious bill passed earlier this month will allow the state to create detailed maps of broadband infrastructure and establish a grant program for companies willing to expand into underserved areas. State Rep. David Arconti, D-Danbury, co-chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, said that federal rules prevented state lawmakers from creating stronger oversight on the state level.  “Companies were going to take it to court,” said Arconti.  The original bill

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50 Years After War On Drugs Announced, Connecticut Votes to Legalize Marijuana

On June 17, 1971, then-President Richard Nixon spoke from the White House to declare that “America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse, and in order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.”  Fifty years later, on June 17, 2021, the Connecticut state legislature passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana, sending the proposal to the desk of Gov. Ned Lamont, who has said he will sign it.  During debate on the House floor Thursday morning, State Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, highlighted the date’s historical significance, and said

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House Members Debate Marijuana Before Expected Vote

Legislators debated recreational marijuana on the House floor for hours on Wednesday after a tumultuous week for the proposal.  The State Senate passed legalization in the final days of the regular session, but the House ran out of time to take up the bill before the session came to a close. The Senate passed the bill again on Tuesday to start the special session, but not without adding an amendment expanding eligibility for social equity licenses.  Gov. Ned Lamont, a proponent of marijuana legalization, said the amendment “opens the floodgates” for individuals to exploit the social equity licensing system, and

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Wave of Teaching Hires Challenges Connecticut’s Job Market

Madison is hiring two new teachers for the fall. East Lyme needs two kindergarten teachers, two second grade teachers, a social worker and six paraeducators. Stonington plans to hire at least 20 teachers, tutors and interventionists. Region 4 and Guilford are hiring permanent substitutes. Old Saybrook is hiring temporary therapists, social workers and psychologists through outside agencies. Norwich schools are hiring 15 specialists, 35 summer school teachers and 14 paraeducators. But there’s a catch — many of these positions may last just one or two years.  The federal government has sent a wave of funding to local schools across the

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Lamont Strips Oversight of State Contracts, Port Authority Reforms

Funding to staff a board that oversees state contracts and procurements was eliminated in a move the board’s chairman said could be a “fatal blow.” The State Contracting Standards Board was set to see $454,355 to fund five additional staff positions funded in a budget approved by state lawmakers last week, but a bill to implement the budget – which lawmakers convened a special session this week to approve – allowed that funding to lapse back into the general fund. State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, said Gov. Ned Lamont removed the funding after lawmakers approved

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Lamont Threatens Veto of Marijuana Bill

The State Senate opened the special session by passing recreational marijuana legislation on Tuesday evening, but as legislators cast their votes, Gov. Ned Lamont threatened to veto the version of the bill they were voting on.  Earlier in the day, legislators amended the marijuana bill to prioritize people previously convicted of cannabis possession applying for licenses to start legal recreational marijuana businesses.  Half of all recreational marijuana licenses have been set to go to “social equity applicants,” who were previously defined by their place of residence and income: applicants from low-income areas or areas with high unemployment, or individuals whose

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UI Settlement on Overcharges Gets Nod, Performance-based Rates to Move Forward

A settlement agreement for United Illuminating to return money it has overbilled customers is moving forward, say state regulators, after the agreement was amended to address concerns that it could stall the introduction of performance-based rates for Connecticut’s energy providers. Under the settlement, United Illuminating would return the $44.7 million it has overbilled customers since a federal corporate tax cut in 2017. The company also agreed to contribute an additional $5 million which will slightly lower customer rates. Residential customers will see their bills drop by about 5.2 percent starting July 1, in part as a result of the settlement,

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837-page Budget Bill Has Republicans Crying Foul

The State Senate was scheduled to convene a special session at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, but did not gavel in until 3:30 p.m. Just hours before, Democrats unveiled the 837-page implementer bill, a piece of legislation executing new programs and services funded in the budget that can also serve as a catch-all for unfinished legislative business.  While the budget itself passed with significant bipartisan support, Republicans expressed their opposition to the implementer bill, arguing that they will not have sufficient time to read the document before voting.  “The fact that they’re not in, speaks volumes to the problems with the

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DuBois-Walton Makes Her Case for New Haven Mayor

Karen DuBois-Walton is challenging incumbent New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker in the Democratic primary. She has focused much of her campaign on addressing a significant rise in incidents of homicide and assault with a deadly weapon after a decade of steadily declining crime in New Haven. DuBois-Walton is executive director of New Haven’s Housing Authority, and previously served as the city’s chief of staff and chief administrative officer under Mayor John DeStefano Jr. Connecticut Examiner spoke with DuBois-Walton about why public safety is at the core of her campaign platform, as well as how she differs from her opponent on

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Baby Bonds Bill Passed to Aid Savings for Low-income Families

Connecticut children born into low-income families are poised to receive a government-funded savings account that could provide them with as much as $10,600 by the time they turn 18.  The legislature approved the proposal on Wednesday as part of the general bonding bill, which still needs to be signed by the governor. Under the bill, $50 million will be directed toward providing accounts of $3,200 for about 15,600 children whose mothers are receiving insurance through HUSKY A, the state’s Medicaid program.  State Treasurer Shawn Wooden, who originally proposed the program, called its passage “historic.” “While Connecticut has the highest annual

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Long River Local Approved by Old Lyme Zoning

OLD LYME — A new retail food shop slated for the little yellow house at 96 Halls Road received approval from the Zoning Commission on Monday night for a special exception change of use from retail to food service. Long River Local will feature coffee, prepared foods, sandwiches, baked goods and local farm produce, with a menu designed by local chef Shelley DeProto, who owned the former Red Hen in Old Saybrook and Lupo in Chester.  A soft opening for the shop is expected in late July, said Walker Potts, owner of Long River Farm, one of the produce suppliers for

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