Jennifer Tooker Makes a Case for Westport First Selectwoman

Westport Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker, a Republican, is running for the job of First Selectwoman, facing off against Democratic State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg for the open seat. Incumbent First Selectman Jim Marpe, who was first elected in 2013 and most recently won reelection in 2017 with 50 percent of the vote, compared to his Democratic opponent’s 45 percent, is not seeking reelection. The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Tooker about her campaign and priorities if elected.  This interview has been edited for clarity. What inspired you to run for First Selectman of Westport?  My husband and I moved to Westport 13 years

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From Flooding to Charter Revision — Steinberg Sketches Out a Plan for Westport

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State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, is running on the Democratic ticket for First Selectman of Westport. Jim Marpe, the incumbent, is not seeking reelection. Marpe most recently won reelection in 2017 with 50 percent of the vote, compared to his Democratic opponent’s 45 percent.   Steinberg will face off against Republican Jennifer Tooker, who currently serves as selectwoman, for the open seat.   The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Steinberg about his campaign and priorities if elected to the seat. This interview has been edited for clarity. What inspired you to run for First Selectman of Westport?  I’ve had the great blessing of growing

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Few Objections to 11-Acre Solar Project Planned for Durham Farmland

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DURHAM — An 11-acre proposed solar project under consideration by the state’s Siting Council has not so far drawn significant objections from its neighbors — or from state agencies, which have primarily criticized the project’s use of about eight acres of farmland and its proximity to wetlands. Proposed by Suffield-based solar developer Louth Callan Renewables, the solar project slated for Haddam Quarter Road in Durham is among the smallest that the siting council will review. With a capacity of 2.8 megawatts, it is just above the 2 MW threshold where the siting council has authority over solar projects. The proposed

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Republicans and Democrats on Old Saybrook Police Commission Debate Privacy, Oversight

OLD SAYBROOK — Claiming the need to exercise oversight, Democrats on the Old Saybrook Police Commission refused to turn over copies of a complaint against the town’s police department, despite Republican commissioners and Chief of Police Michael Spera insisting that keeping copies of the document violated the right of victims to privacy.    Copies of the complaint were sent to Town Hall addressed to each of the commissioners by name according to commission member Alfred “Chub” Wilcox.  At a meeting of the commission on Monday, Chair Frank Keeney requested that all of the commissioners return their copies of the complaint to

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Local Manufacturers Encourage Robotics Classes in Westbrook Public Schools

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WESTBROOK — At 8:30 a.m. on a Friday morning, seventeen teenagers huddled around lab tables in the back of a science classroom trying to prompt a half-dozen crablike blinking robots to wake up and move their legs.  Screws and plastic robotic legs are scattered across the table, along with a stray Dunkin Donuts bag and a bottle of Coke. Laptops are open to tutorial videos for robot-building (and the occasional soccer game being watched on the sly). Blue boxes filled with robot parts, user manuals and makeshift cardboard stands are labeled with group names. The Martian Manhunters. The Flying Crab. 

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Hugh McKenney Makes a Case for Salem First Selectman

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With incumbent First Selectman Kevin Lyden opting not to seek an additional term in office, Democrat Hugh McKenney is running for the open seat in a race against Republican Ed Chmielewski. Lyden served for six terms, running unopposed in 2019, as a petitioning candidate against Democrat Sue Sprang in 2017, as a Democrat against Chmielewski in 2015, and as a cross-endorsed candidate in 2013. Lyden won handily in 2017, with 69 percent of the vote, and with 65 percent of the vote in 2015.  McKenney, who is a member of Salem’s Board of Selectmen and formerly chaired the Planning &

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$400,000 Purchase of Open Space Heads Toward a Vote in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — The Open Space Commission has signed a contract for $400,000 to purchase a 35-acre lot on Whippoorwill Road adjacent to the town’s 195-acre Ames Open Space property. In a phone call with CT Examiner, Open Space Co-Chair Amanda Blair said that the commission had approached the owner of the property in December 2020 or the following January. “It’s a beautiful gravel road and we can put a small ‘hammerhead’ turnaround for buses and cars and that splits existing Ames into two,” said Blair. “You turn right to go to the Native American caves or shelters and turn

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Employees Claim a Pattern of Abuse at Groton Utilities

GROTON – According to disciplinary records obtained by CT Examiner, complaints by employees of Groton Utilities suggest a pattern of hostile and abusive behavior including bullying, tantrums and threats, that led to the ongoing suspension of Director Ron Gaudet. A number of attempts to reach Gaudet for comment have been unsuccessful. “You don’t know what you’re doing … I am gonna be your worst f….ng nightmare,” Gaudet threatened one employee as he pounded on his desk, according to one employee complaint. “I will sign your retirement paperwork and walk you out the door right now,’ he screamed at another employee

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WPCA Chair Presents a $2.7 Million Sewer Project For Developing Ledyard Center

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LEDYARD – Town officials last week presented a plan that would open up Ledyard Center to multi-family housing developments by using state and federal money to extend a sewer line to the area. At its meeting last Wednesday, the Town Council heard the proposal to complete the $2.7 million project without using any town funds – instead using federal money given to towns from the American Rescue Plan act and a new state matching grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development. Water Pollution Control Authority Chairman Ed Lynch said the plan still needs to be finalized before it

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Tara Ochman Makes a Case for Election as First Selectman of Darien

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Given longtime Republican First Selectman Jayme Stevenson’s decision not to run for another term, Democrat Tara Ochman is hoping to turn Darien blue. Stevenson ran for reelection without Democratic opposition in 2019, and garnered 90 percent of the vote against a petitioning candidate. In 2017, she beat out a Democratic challenger with more than 70 percent of the vote.  Ochman, a former chair of Darien’s Board of Education, will face off against Republican Monica McNally, a member of the Board of Selectmen and eight-year veteran of the Representative Town Meeting.  The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Ochman about her campaign and

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Shoemaker and Lampos Make a Case for Selectmen of Old Lyme

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CT Examiner sat down with Old Lyme Democrats Martha Shoemaker, a candidate for First Selectman, and Jim Lampos, a candidate for Selectman, to discuss their campaign for the November election. Shoemaker is a longtime member of the Old Lyme Board of Education. A native of New London, she and her family moved to Old Lyme in 1996. She was a teacher for 35 years and now works for a small business in Old Lyme, FiberQ. Lampos is a member of the Community Connectivity Grant Committee, which has overseen the installation of sidewalks along the upper portion of Hartford Ave. and

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Griswold and Ward Make the Case for Old Lyme Selectmen

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As part of its ongoing coverage of races across the region, CT Examiner spoke with candidates for selectman endorsed by the local Republican and Democratic parties in Old Lyme. We begin with the Republican ticket. CT Examiner met with incumbent Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold, a Republican, who is running for re-election with Matt Ward, who is unaffiliated and has been endorsed by the Republican Town Committee.  Griswold first held the office of First Selectman from 1997 to 2011 and successfully ran against Bonnie Reemsnyder as a petitioning candidate in 2019. Ward retired last year after 20 years as

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Oversight of Assisted Living Puts Patients at Risk, Says Audit

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As more Connecticut residents have waited until later in life to move into assisted living, these facilities have become more similar to nursing homes. But, a recent report from state auditors found that oversight of assisted living facilities has been far less stringent than nursing homes, raising concerns about patient care and safety.  Today, an estimated 8,000 Connecticut residents living in these communities average between 84 and 86 years old, and suffer from a higher percentage of chronic illnesses or more severe medical conditions, according to the auditors. Assisted living facilities serve people 55 and older and provide nursing services

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Monica McNally Makes her Case for Darien First Selectman

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With Darien’s longtime First Selectman Jayme Stevenson deciding not to run for another term in November, Monica McNally has jumped into the race as the Republican candidate. IN 2019, Stevenson ran for reelection without Democratic opposition, and garnered 90 percent of the vote against a petitioning candidate. In 2017, she beat out a Democratic challenger with more than 70 percent of the vote.  McNally, who received the Republican nomination in July, was appointed to the Board of Selectmen earlier this summer and is an eight-year veteran of the Representative Town Meeting. She will face off against Democrat Tara Ochman, a

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Guilford’s New Family Equity Liaison Rydell Harrison Goes On The Record

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Dr. Rydell Harrison, Guilford’s new Family Equity Liaison, has an eclectic taste in music. He’s a pianist and a classically trained singer. He says he likes every musical genre except country.  Harrison, who started his new job with Guilford last Tuesday, began his 22-year education career as a music teacher. He said he found his true passion not only in music itself, but in sharing it with students.  “I’m one of these people who believes that teachers have such an incredible impact on students,” said Harrison.  After receiving a degree in music education at Rutgers University, he went on to

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Middletown Area and 9 Town Transit Near Agreement, Plan Expanded Service

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After more than two years of deliberation and negotiation, a plan is nearly in place to combine Middletown Area Transit with 9 Town Transit into a single district. The agreement is intended to provide the separate, smaller transit districts with additional financial stability. A combined district also feeds hopes of expanded bus service across Middlesex County connecting rail and bus lines in southeastern Connecticut with the Hartford and New Haven areas. Durham First Selectman Laura Francis, who serves on the boards of both transit districts, said the consolidation addresses the reality that small transit districts are not sustainable in the

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Lamont Faces Pressure to Allow Funding for Air Quality in Public Schools

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After receiving $995 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan, advocates for towns, school districts, teachers, superintendents and other staff are asking the legislature to include repairs for school ventilation systems in the statewide plan for the additional federal dollars.  “The Connecticut General Assembly’s approval of Governor Lamont’s spending plan for federal funds under the American Rescue Plan must include HVAC repairs needed by local public schools across the state; and HVAC repairs must be included as part of the State Department of Education’s annual bond funding to towns for school construction and repairs,” according to Kevin Maloney of

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Mysterious Death, Missing Body Spark Department of Agriculture Investigation

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The mysterious, bloody death and burial of a show horse owned by a Lyme woman at a “luxury” boarding facility in Marlborough early this month has led to an investigation by the state Department of Agriculture. Dana Ramsey Maxwell says she has had nothing but unanswered questions about the fate of her 7-year-old registered Hanoverian, Beatrix, since she received a text message on Sept. 3 telling her the horse had died that morning. Calls and messages to the stable have not yet been returned. “I just want answers,” said Maxwell, who has raised and shown horses since she was a

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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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