Middletown Common Council Approves Hiring Erik Costa as Chief of Police

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MIDDLETOWN — After an hour of questions on Monday night, Middletown Common Council voted unanimously to approve hiring Erik Costa as the city’s next chief of police. Costa will become the next chief of the Middletown Police Department following the completion of a background check. Mayor Ben Florsheim said that the city’s human resources department is working with a “trusted third party” to complete the process.  Costa will bring 26 years law enforcement experience to the department, from his first job as a seasonal officer on Martha’s Vineyard, and serving as the commander of the Connecticut State Police Troop F

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Colchester Approves Budget on Third Try

COLCHESTER – On their third opportunity to vote on a budget for the 2022 fiscal year, Colchester voters approved the town’s budget by a vote of 1,119 in favor and 628 opposed. The approval comes nearly two months after voters rejected a budget for a second time this year by a margin of six votes, with 873 in favor and 879 opposed.  The mill rate for the year will be 33.05, an increase of 0.21 mills over last year’s budget. That increase is an entirely due to the Board of Education budget, approved by voters at a referendum on June

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Candidates for Madison Board of Ed Weigh $85 Million School Plan

MADISON — All six Republican and Democratic candidates for the town’s Board of Education agree that the district’s school buildings need a major upgrade. The current Board of Education has outlined a four-part, $85 million school infrastructure plan, which includes constructing a new pre-kindergarten to fifth grade elementary school, closing Jeffrey and Ryerson Elementary Schools and the Town Campus Learning Center, converting Brown Intermediate School into a kindergarten to fifth grade school and renovating Polson Middle School. That plan will be put to a vote at a February 2022 townwide referendum. In interviews with CT Examiner, the candidates voiced support

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Esposito Runs on Experience, Promises a ‘Hands-On’ Approach as Danbury Mayor

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Republican Dean Esposito is running for Mayor of Danbury, a seat left open for the first time in decades with the retirement of Mark Boughton, after he served ten consecutive terms. In 2019, Boughton won re-election with 8,598 votes to his Democratic opponent’s 7,372.  Esposito serves as chief of staff to the Mayor of Danbury, and previously served five terms as a Danbury City Councilman. He will face off against Democrat Roberto Alves, a technical sales engineer and Danbury City Councilman. The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Esposito about his campaign and policy priorities if elected. This interview has been edited

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Essex Puts Ferry Street Flood Plan to a Vote on Wednesday

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ESSEX – In an effort to lessen recurring flooding on Ferry Street, First Selectman Norm Needleman told CT Examiner that the town is asking residents at a special town meeting on Wednesday to approve an appropriation of $100,000 to raise the roadbed about a foot and install a sidewalk on the west side of the street. Needleman said that he believes the town can complete the project for that amount, and that he will be looking for possible matching grants to help pay for the work. The base of the street runs along the edge of the river and floods

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Turmoil at Groton Utilities as Leadership Goes Missing

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GROTON – The head of city-owned Groton Utilities, which serves thousands of customers in southeastern Connecticut, has been placed on indefinite administrative leave pending an investigation, according to sources at the utility with direct knowledge of the matter. Ronald Gaudet, an Old Lyme resident and former Navy officer, Pfizer engineer and director of facilities at UConn, has not been seen for more than a week at the utility he has led since 2015, these sources say, but the nature of the investigation was unclear Friday. Attempts to reach Gaudet at his office today were directed to the office of Groton

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Madison Releases Plans for New Elementary School

MADISON — School officials released the first draft of a plan for the new Jeffrey Elementary School building at a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday.  The plan is part of a $85 million building project that includes constructing a new pre-kindergarten to fifth grade elementary school, closing Jeffrey and Ryerson Elementary Schools and the Town Campus Learning Center, converting Brown Intermediate School into a kindergarten to fifth grade school and renovating Polson Middle School. According to the document, the building will include space for 600 Pre-K through fifth grade students. Dan Hansen, an independent educational consultant and former assistant

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‘Equity Analysis’ Draws Praise of East Lyme School Officials

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EAST LYME — Superintendent of East Lyme Public Schools Jeffrey Newton praised the results of a district-wide audit by the not-for-profit Equity Institute that solicited feedback from students, parents and staff. The Rhode-Island-based group was hired by the district in April 2021 to perform an “equity analysis” on the district, and presented its results to the town’s Board of Education on Monday. Newton said the district chose the group, which asked $15,000 for their work, based on positive experiences with two other districts in the neighboring state. “We liked what they had to offer and what they were sharing for

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Bordelon Earns Spot on Democratic Ballot, Heede Dropped

GROTON — Portia Bordelon, a town councilor who petitioned for a spot on the Democratic primary ballot after she was not nominated for the slate by her party, was the top vote-getter in the primary Tuesday night. “The community spoke tonight, not the Democratic committee. One of the things I ran on is to be the voice of the community and the constituents at large, and they spoke tonight,” said Bordelon, by phone Tuesday night.  While Bordelon came in first, incumbent Town Councilor Conrad Heede, chair of the Democratic Town Committee, earned the lowest number of votes and lost his place

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Slate Opposing Critical Race Theory Sweeps Guilford Primary in Heavy Turnout

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GUILFORD — Candidates running in opposition to Critical Race Theory once again swept the Republican slate in a primary on Tuesday night. As of 7:30 p.m. — thirty minutes before polls closed — 47 percent of 3,511 registered Republicans had come out to vote. Republican Registrar of Voters Gloria Nemczuk called the turnout “incredible.” Four years ago, she said, the turnout for the primary for first selectman was 29 percent. Danielle Scarpellino, Tim Chamberlain, Nick Cusano, Bill Maisano and Aly Passarelli – who formed a campaign called “5 Reasons Why”. – received between 1,275 and 1,265 votes each.  Their opponents

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Convenience Store Plan Draws Opposition at Old Lyme Zoning Hearing

OLD LYME — CPD Properties has applied again for a special exception to allow a convenience store at the gas station at 85 Halls Road, but an attorney for an abutter says the application is untenable because it cannot comply with the town’s zoning regulations.  CPD, also known as CPD Energy Corp. of New Paltz, New York, has proposed the addition of 227 square feet of space to the existing 1,760 sq. building on the .6-acre parcel. The garage bays that were previously used for auto repair would be converted to a retail space. The project would also replace the

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COVID Cases Spike at Conn College, But Without Hospitalizations

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NEW LONDON — Connecticut College reported that 169 of its students tested positive for COVID-19 last week, after several gatherings in crowded spaces that led to a “chain reaction” of viral spread, according to epidemiologists from the Department of Public Health.   The number represents the highest cases reported in a single week at Connecticut College since the college began regularly testing students for COVID-19 in August of 2020. The students are tested twice weekly.  Victor Arcelus, dean of students at the college, said in a message to the community on Saturday that the college was starting to show a downward

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After Excavating Roads 15 Times in 4 Years for Aging Pipes, Ledyard Warns of the Inevitable

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GALES FERRY – Since 2017, roads in the Christy Hill neighborhood have been excavated 15 times to repair aging water pipes that town officials say are too expensive to replace. Ahead of Ledyard’s $650,000 re-paving of the subdivision, Public Works Director Steve Masalin sent the usual notice to the neighbors – but with the caveat that the new pavement could soon be dug up again to repair the pipes. Masalin said that the pipes have been repaired 6 times since 2020, and 3 times this year.  According to Masalin, the breaks have been particularly frequent along Ledgewood Drive. “The whole

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Madison Police to Appeal Release of Evidence from Barbara Beach Hamburg Murder

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The Madison Police Department is appealing a court ruling upholing an order by the state’s Freedom of Information Commission that the department release all records — except signed witness statements — related to the unsolved murder of Barbara Beach Hamburg. Her death in 2010 was the subject of an HBO true crime documentary series produced by her son Madison Hamburg.   In a meeting of the town’s Board of Police Commissioners on Thursday evening, Police Chief John Drumm said that if the courts ultimately ruled in favor of releasing the records, it could create a precedent that would affect police

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Dutch Designer Ingrid Bergman Awaits Green Light For Return to Essex

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ESSEX — 8 Main Street has stood empty for nearly two years. “I get a lot of questions about when we’re going to open. All is unknown, as we don’t have a clue when Biden is opening the doors again for travelers from out of Europe,” said Ingrid Bergman, a Dutch-born interior designer, who said she has planned since 2019 to open Eric Kuster Metropolitan Luxury by Ingrid Bergman Interiors at the Main Street location. Bergman, who is a resident of the U.S., holds a five-year E2 visa, known as an investor visa, that is set to expire in November

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Hamstrung Contract Standards Board Turns Spotlight on Suspected Port Authority Wrongdoing

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Using new powers granted by Connecticut lawmakers, the State Contract Standards Board will ask the Connecticut Port Authority for unredacted copies of contracts related to its controversial redevelopment of the New London State Pier into a hub for offshore wind energy. Contract Standards Board Executive Director David Guay said at a meeting on Friday that his agency intends to request contracts, memoranda of understanding, and requests for proposals relating to the redevelopment, including an unredacted copy of the agreement with Gateway New London to operate the pier.  Board member Lauren Gauthier said the Standards Board intends to request communications related

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Tie Vote Deals Surprise Setback to North Stonington Solar Project

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A proposed solar project in North Stonington that has been through months of adjustments to accommodate wetlands on its site was rejected by the Connecticut Siting Council by a 3-3 vote on Thursday. Nashville-based solar developer Silicon Ranch’s proposal to clear-cut 44 acres of woodland to build a 9.9 megawatt solar farm in North Stonington faced opposition from the town and neighbors of the project, who questioned the wisdom of clearing so many trees to build a project on land pock-marked by wetlands, with construction coming within inches of neighboring properties. In a non-binding straw poll taken at the council’s

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Sean Donlan Talks Pro-Active Leadership in His Run for Haddam First Selectman

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Democrat Sean Donlan is challenging incumbent Republican Robert McGarry in the race for Haddam First Selectman. McGarry was first elected in 2019, with 62 percent of the vote. In the 2020 elections, the town voted for Democrats Joe Biden and Joe Courtney at the national level, and Republicans Brendan Saunders and Robert Siegrist for the state legislature.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Donlan about his priorities if elected. This interview has been edited for clarity. Why did you decide to run for Haddam First Selectman?  I’m very passionate about Haddam. My kids are who they are because they grew up

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Faced with $700,000 Roof Replacement, Middletown Debates Microgrid Offer

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MIDDLETOWN — Faced with the need to replace the roof on the city’s future recreation center sooner than expected, Middletown sought out a creative solution that would not only replace the roof, but create a micro-grid complete with solar generation and battery storage that would allow the city to use the center as a warming/cooling and emergency shelter. As Middletown officials surveyed what remains of the former Woodrow Wilson Middle School – set to become a town recreation center – they realized the roof needed to be replaced sooner than they expected when they sold “phase one” of the building’s

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State Official Suggests Slower Rollout for Marijuana, as Businesses Turn Out for Talk

Michelle Seagull, the state’s commissioner for the Department of Consumer Protection, told the assembled audience at a business breakfast hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut that the state still has many details to iron out before opening up applications for marijuana licenses.  In comments to CT Examiner, Seagull suggested that a timeline originally anticipated by legislators for sales to begin next summer would likely be delayed until the end of next year.   “We’ve been suggesting that there will likely be sales by the end of 2022, and we’re still aspiring for that,” Seagull told CT Examiner. “Obviously,

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As Region 4 Retires Debt, School Officials Contemplate Ambitious Borrowing for Athletics

REGION 4 — A turf field, a cross country trail, repairs to tennis courts and renovations of the soccer and baseball fields are a few of the possible middle school and high school athletic projects being considered by the Board of Education that together could cost as much as $11.3 million, though the board is expected to approve significantly less spending. At a meeting of the Board of Education on Tuesday, Superintendent Brian White said that the needs of the district’s athletic program should be considered alongside a review of the school facilities. Earlier in May, White suggested that only

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Fall Lecture Series Kicks off With Acclaimed Journalist of Contemporary Rwanda

On Tuesday, London-based journalist and author Michela Wrong leads off a fall speaker series for the Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council with a virtual talk on her latest work, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad. Cambridge-educated Wrong has spent decades reporting on Africa, including stints with Reuters and the BBC, and with pieces published in the Observer, Financial Times, and Guardian. Paul Nugent, the council’s executive director, described Wrong as a compelling speaker, and a departure from the group’s more Western-oriented discussion of education and aid for Africa.  Do Not Disturb,

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Robert McGarry Makes His Case for Reelection as Haddam First Selectman

Robert McGarry, the Republican First Selectman of Haddam, is running for reelection, and facing a challenge from Democrat Sean Donlan. McGarry was first elected in 2019, with 62 percent of the vote. In the 2020 elections, the town voted for Democrats Joe Biden and Joe Courtney at the national level, and Republicans Brendan Saunders and Robert Siegrist for the state legislature.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with McGarry about his priorities for another term.  This interview has been edited for clarity. Why are you running for reelection?  There are still things I’d like to get done. First Selectman in Haddam is

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New Zoning Regs Will Redesign Moodus to Look Like Former Town Center

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EAST HADDAM — While there are no current plans to redevelop Moodus Plaza, the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission recently created a new zoning district around Moodus center that aims to guide future development toward a walkable, mixed-use village that more closely resembles the Moodus that many residents remember. Since the federal urban renewal project of the 1960s razed the original Moodus Village and replaced it with strip malls, Moodus Plaza has been a symbol of regret for the people in town who agreed to trade their village for a vision of a modern, prosperous future, bankrolled by the federal

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Hall Talks Taxes, Safety and Development in Run for Westbrook First Selectman

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Republican John Hall is running for First Selectman of Westbrook, a seat left vacant by the retirement of longtime Republican First Selectman Noel Bishop. Hall, who has served on the Board of Selectmen for 10 years, is running against Democrat Chet Bialicki, Westbrook High School’s teen leadership coordinator.  Why did you decide to run for Westbrook First Selectman?  I’ve been involved in Westbrook politics for most of my adult life. I was on the Zoning Board of Appeals for 27 years, and have spent the last 12 years on the Board of Selectmen. I knew I’d live my life in

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Chet Bialicki Makes His Case for Westbrook First Selectman

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Democrat Chet Bialicki is running for First Selectman of Westbrook, a seat left vacant by the retirement of longtime Republican First Selectman Noel Bishop. Bialicki, Westbrook High School’s teen leadership coordinator, is running against Republican nominee John Hall, who has served on the Board of Selectmen for 10 years.  Why did you decide to run for Westbrook First Selectman?  I’ve been a teacher in Westbrook for 44 years, and I have a passion for the town. I always have. My involvement in education has always been more than just work within the walls of the school itself. I write grants

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Madison Students Buck Statewide Trend, Show Gains in Learning Last Year

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New standardized test data for students enrolled at public schools in Madison buck widespread declines by school districts across the state, when compared to 2018-19 test scores. According to state data from the Smarter Balanced Assessment, 69 percent of students in grades 3 to 8 in Madison performed at grade level in English in the year 2018-19. Remarkably, that number rose to 73.2 percent for students learning fully in-person for 2019-20. The number of students learning at grade level in math rose as well, from 66.8 percent to 69.2 percent last year.  Craig Cooke, superintendent of schools in Madison, said

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Old Saybrook Debates Residential Redevelopment of Marine Industrial Lands

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OLD SAYBROOK — After extended discussion on Wednesday night, the town’s Planning Commission voted to table a decision to change the town’s zoning rules to allow residential development in marine industrial zones, including Ferry Point, citing inconsistencies with the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.  The applicant was 91 Sheffield Street, LLC, represented by attorney Marjorie Shansky. And the specific area in question is a 9.93-acre site is a waterfront parcel on North Cove zoned marine industrial. There are four structures on the site — one has collapsed — totaling about 11,000 square feet, formerly occupied by an oceanographic research company. 

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Mystic Seaport offers “End of Summer” free admission to Connecticut children this weekend

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MYSTIC — Connecticut children will receive free admission at Mystic Seaport this weekend and Labor Day for the museum’s “End of Summer” celebration.  It’s the last free weekend at the museum, which has offered free admission to children and one accompanying adult through Connecticut’s Summer at the Museum since July 1. Admission will include “A Spectacle In Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World,” a 1,275-foot-long painting that depicts the voyage of a whale ship around the globe. Painted in 1848, the work is being shown in sections at the museum’s Collins Gallery in the Thompson

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Local Leaders Discuss Dramatic Declines in the Number of Young People in Connecticut

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According to the latest national census data, Chester, Deep River and Essex experienced dramatic declines in the number of residents under the age of 18 living in the towns — a drop that leaves local leaders with little to offer in the way of solutions. In Deep River, the loss of young residents since 2010 totals 25 percent — from 975 to 735. Chester experienced a drop of 29 percent. And in Essex, where there were 1,390 children living in the town in 2010, now there are just 949 — a drop of 32 percent. Deep River First Selectman Angus

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