New Clause in State Pier Agreement Offers Out for Eversource and Ørsted

If permit approvals or the final $50 million of bonding for State Pier development are delayed much longer, the partnership of Eversource and Ørsted could take back millions of dollars pledged for the project based on a recent change to the development agreement with the Connecticut Port Authority. An amendment added to the harbor development agreement between Eversource-Ørsted and the Connecticut Port Authority on June 29 allows the partnership to take back whatever portion of $55 million that it contributed to the project, but has not yet been spent, if a series of conditions aren’t met by Aug. 31.  Those

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After 60 Claims of Abuse, the Diocese of Norwich Files for Bankruptcy

The Diocese of Norwich has filed for bankruptcy, saying it was unable to pay damages for over 60 claims of abuse alleged to have taken place at the Mount Saint John School, a former residential school in Deep River. The Diocese announced Thursday that it would be filing under Chapter 11, a provision under the U.S. bankruptcy code that allows businesses to “restructure” their debts in order to pay their creditors. Bishop Michael R. Cote, the head of the diocese, said that filing a Chapter 11 was “the most equitable way” to address the lawsuits.  Cote said that the decision

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Economists Debate Connecticut’s Steep Drop in Workforce Numbers

From May 2020 to May 2021, Connecticut’s workforce — the number of people in the state working or actively looking for work — dropped by 135,000, or 7.2 percent. That’s the second-largest decrease among any of the 50 states during that time period, according to numbers from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Of the 18 states reporting declines, the largest was in Ohio (283,000) followed by Connecticut (135,000) and Pennsylvania (97,000). Numbers just released from the Connecticut Department of Labor estimate that the state recouped about 19,000 people to the workforce in June. Patrick Flaherty, director of research at

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Developers Propose Affordable Housing for Latest Banner Estates Plan

EAST HADDAM – A group of New York developers is back with plans to convert a banquet hall into 20 apartments at Banner Country Club Estates, this time with an affordable component that makes the plan more likely to be approved. Anthony and Frank Longhitano, the owners of Banner Estates, are applying under state statute 8-30g to redevelop an empty 28,000 square-foot banquet hall into 20 one-bedroom apartments – of which six units would be income restricted.  The statute requires municipalities where less than 10 percent of the housing is “affordable” to prove that any rejection of a project is

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Madison Plans Referendum on Several Long-Term Projects

The Town of Madison is preparing to hold a referendum on several long-term projects, including the development of the former Academy School into a community center, the sale of the former Island Avenue School and a building project that will overhaul the schools in the local district.  First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons said that she wanted to move the projects forward as soon as possible. She said she wanted to get all of these issues on a single ballot.  “I think it would be the right thing to aspire to that. We need to make decisions and move on and allow

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A New Hartford Station, Resolving High-Speed Rail Bypasses, Headline NEC Future Announcement

On Wednesday, the NEC Commission announced the launch of Phase 1 of the NEC Future vision for improving rail service along the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C. and Boston. Dubbed Connect NEC 2035, the plan calls for the completion of 150 significant projects over 15 years at an additional cost of $100 billion dollars. These plans include a new rail station for Hartford, the elimination of three at-grade crossings in Mystic, new rail stops along the Hartford Line for North Haven, Newington, West Hartford, and Enfield, and new rail platforms for Clinton and Madison. Service upgrades would include new direct

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Metro-North Reports No Citations Since Masks Were Required in 2020

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In response to a Freedom of Information request by CT Examiner, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority released information showing that the agency has not issued any citations on Metro-North trains to riders for failing to wear a mask. “When we see someone on a train without a mask, our approach is to hand that person a mask, not a summons,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said. “As a result, we’ve had tens of thousands of positive interactions with customers, promoting the health and safety of all riders.” Transit workers have issued 38 summons for refusing to wear a mask on public transit

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Protesters Gather at State Capitol as Lamont Seeks Extended Emergency Order

Connecticut legislators will convene a special session on Wednesday to address an extension of Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers. Connecticut and Rhode Island are the only states in the Northeast that have yet to lift emergency orders, while 27 states still have emergency declarations in place. Lamont has requested an extension of public health and civil preparedness emergencies until September 30. Lamont first declared a state of emergency in respond to the pandemic on March 10, 2020. The order allows the governor sweeping powers to address COVID-19, and some of those orders — like relaxing rules for outdoor dining and

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Clinton Schools Invest in Vocational Classes For Middle and High School Students

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CLINTON — Jessica Flanagan is looking forward to her senior year at The Morgan School where she’ll be working on a catapult that can shoot melons across the river behind the school.  Flanagan said the catapult was inherited from former engineering classes, but still needs design modifications before it’s ready to launch the fleshy projectiles.  And that’s not the only project in the works by engineering students at Clinton’s public high school. In the lab on the bottom floor of the school, students are programming robots, engraving blocks of wood with lasers, and welding together the metal frame of a

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School Officials React to New CDC Guidelines

The Connecticut State Department of Education is considering new guidelines by the U.S. Center for Disease Control as it prepares to make recommendations for what public health guidelines schools will have to follow in the fall.  The new guidelines say that vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks indoors. They recommend that unvaccinated students and staff continue to wear masks inside school buildings, and that schools should continue with the 3-foot distancing rule between students. The guidelines further say that when the distancing is not possible, or in schools that serve children under the age of 12 who are

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Reemsnyder Asks Town to Assume Ownership of Hope Parcels

OLD LYME — Hope Partnership board member Bonnie Reemsnyder has asked the town to assume ownership of land where the nonprofit currently maintains affordable housing. According to a letter from the former first selectman to current First Selectman Timothy Griswold, the change would allow the nonprofit to forgo the burden of yearly requests for tax abatements, and would also encourage Hope to develop two town-owned parcels on Flat Rock Hill Road currently designated for single-family affordable housing.  “With two more lots likely becoming available, I would think that the Board of Selectmen would be interested in resolving this tax issue

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Sidewalk Plans Come Full Circle on Ferry Road

OLD LYME — After considering an alternative on the south side of Ferry Road that would have saved a few trees, the Ferry Road Sidewalk Committee came to a consensus Thursday that the best location for the replacement of the buckling sidewalks was on the north side of the road where the sidewalks are now.  “It’s certainly not ‘the plan’ but we’re moving in that direction. We’re still going to have a public information session,” said First Selectman Timothy Griswold, a member of the committee, after Thursday’s meeting.  The consensus included a requirement that the town consult with a licensed

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Committee Members Will Answer Questions at Halls Road Master Plan Open House

OLD LYME — The Halls Road Improvements Committee will hold an open house on Saturday, July 10, from 9 a.m. to noon in Town Hall at 52 Lyme St. to present phase two of the Halls Road master plan, designed by BSC Group of Glastonbury.  Visual materials will show roadway improvements to be paid for by the town, including a bow bridge spanning the Lieutenant River as well as pedestrian and bike routes, sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, landscaping and green spaces. Another board will show Village District zoning on Halls Road, which could affect future private investment and development in the

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Lawmakers Debate Repeat Juvenile Offenders as Crime Rattles Local Communities

House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, asked Democratic lawmakers to join him in signing a petition to bring the legislature back into special session sometime this summer to address a recent rise in juvenile crime. On Wednesday afternoon, Republican and Democratic lawmakers met at the Capitol to discuss the proposal. But while some community members, police officers and Republican legislators spoke of fears of a spike in teenage crime, calling for stricter punishments for repeat youth offenders and the restoration of juvenile services and facilities sacrificed to funding cuts, Democrats questioned the need for broad punitive measures, saying that

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Connecticut’s Employers Navigate State and Federal Laws for Marijuana Use

Connecticut employers concerned about the use of legal marijuana on the job are faced with a dilemma given the limits of current drug testing technology and federal requirements, employment lawyers say.  “It’s not like a test for alcohol where you can immediately figure out someone’s current level of THC,” said John Blair, associate counsel with the Connecticut Business Industry Association. “I don’t think a test like that exists.”  Patrick McHale, an employment lawyer in Hartford, said the lack of a test that allows employers to determine whether a worker is under the influence of marijuana at the moment of testing

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Lymes’ Senior Center Holds Design Workshop with Point One Architects

OLD LYME — Supplied with red stickers, blue stickers, and gold stars, many of the Lymes’ Senior Center Board of Directors and a number of selected community members marked their favorite and least favorite areas of the center on large site plans and floor plans Tuesday afternoon. “[Put the] red stickers on the area that you like to see or like to visit — if you have more than one area you love, you can use two stickers… The blue represents the things you do not like about the site,” said Rick Staab, a partner at Point One Architects, which

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Eligibility Shift May Limit New Housing, Upset Plans Across Southeast Connecticut

A proposed change in how the state distributes federal subsidies for low-income housing could limit investment in some eastern Connecticut towns, Democratic lawmakers warn, and reshape established patterns of development for others, like Stonington and East Lyme. The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, which oversees and distributes incentive programs to develop low-income and affordable housing, has proposed changing its “opportunity map” to reflect census tracts rather than municipal-level data to determine eligibility for funding. Projects in areas with higher opportunity scores – based on factors that include school performance and access to jobs – are more likely to receive tax credits,

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Courtney Talks Electric Boat, Jobs, Marijuana

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Connecticut’s recreational marijuana law went into effect on July 1, meaning that residents can now consume marijuana without fear of legal repercussions. Still, consumption of the drug is not consequence-free – particularly for employees of federal defense contractors, as the drug is still illegal at the federal level. Concerns around attracting workers came up repeatedly during debate over the bill in the legislature, and State Rep. Joe de la Cruz, D-Groton, said his opposition to legalization was mainly due to fears for Electric Boat.  Connecticut Examiner caught up with Congressman Joe Courtney to get his thoughts on what the new law

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Facing Steep Enrollment Declines, Fiscal Cliff, Community Colleges Accelerate Advisor Hiring

Enrollment at Connecticut’s community colleges suffered a “dramatic drop off” during the pandemic, falling to 19,000 students this year from a peak of 35,000 over the last decade — posing a significant financial risk to the Connecticut State Colleges and University system unless the decline is reversed before federal aid runs out in 2025. In response, the Board of Regents has announced plans to accelerate the hiring of 174 academic advisors, part of a nationwide “Guided Pathways” program currently being piloted at 3 of the state’s colleges to help improve enrollment, retention and graduation rates. The accelerated program comes at

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Lyme Academy of Fine Arts Gets Back to its Roots, Offers New Classes

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OLD LYME — With a $1.657 million budget for FY21-22, about 120 students enrolled in summer classes, and a small full-time core program that will start in the fall, Lyme Academy of Fine Arts is rebounding after two rough years.  “People are so enthusiastic to be able to finally come and receive classes in person and meet other peers, so it’s a really positive atmosphere,” said Amaya Gurpide, director of drawing, who was hired in February along with her husband, Jordan Sokol, who is artistic director for the school.  Sokol said a range of summer classes, landscape workshops and youth

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States Lay Groundwork for 250-year Anniversary of 1776

With five years to go before the celebration of 250 years of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, more and more states are making preparations for what promises to be a nationwide celebration of Herculean proportions.  Terry Brown, Director of Federal Partnerships with the U.S. National Semiquincentennial Commission, said on Thursday that the 250th anniversary was going to be “the biggest event in history.” He said they planned to produce 100,000 programs and attract more than 350 million visitors across the state. All of this, he said, would mean billions of dollars infused into national, state and local economies. 

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A Will But Not a Way for Lamont’s Transportation and Climate Initiative

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A program that would increase gas prices and raise revenue for projects to reduce pollution from fuel-burning vehicles became one of the most contentious issues in Hartford as the legislative session came to a close last month — and while the legislature is signaling the plan has limited support, it’s not a fight the administration of Gov. Ned Lamont is ready to give up. The Transportation and Climate Initiative, or TCI, would force fuel wholesalers to buy allowances for the amount of pollution generated by their fuel, which proponents say would generate a game-changing $1 billion over 10 years for

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UConn Awarded $40 Million Grant to Develop Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Data Network

It can probe the inner workings of a Lithium ion battery, it can shed light on genetic diseases, and it’s even been used to develop cancer treatments — it’s a technique called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance.  Nuclear Magnetic Resonance is similar to magnetic resonance, most commonly known for its use in MRI machines, and both techniques use magnetic fields to gather information on a molecular level. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance causes the electric charges in the atoms of a given molecule to emit frequencies, which give scientists information about the size, structure and movement of molecules.   “They act as little atomic spies,

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UConn and UConn Health Use Multiple Strategies to Balance 2022 Budgets

The Board of Trustees was able to approve balanced budgets for the University of Connecticut and UConn Health for the 2022 fiscal year because of a generous amount of federal and state aid and an anticipated return to near-pre-pandemic levels of student residential life.  “It’s actually kind of a low-drama result from a high-drama year,” Scott Jordan, the university’s Executive Vice President for Administration & Chief Financial Officer, said at a Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday.  In 2021, the university faced a $75.5 million deficit mainly from a loss in revenue from housing and dining during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Recreational Marijuana Law will Phase in Funding of Social Equity and Substance Abuse Programs

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Connecticut’s new recreational marijuana law went into effect July 1, 2021, and over the next five years, the Office of Fiscal Analysis anticipates that the state will see nearly $75 million in new revenue due to the regulation and taxation of the recreational marijuana market.  Lawmakers spent the first half of the year debating the bill, and many of the points of tension  centered on where that money would go. In Gov. Ned Lamont’s original proposal, half of that revenue would go towards low-income communities in the state, and the other half would have funded the payment in lieu of

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New Region 4 Assistant Superintendent Believes in Teaching Kids to be Critical Thinkers and Collaborators

“When am I going to use this in real life?” Dr. Sarah Brzozowy, Region 4’s new assistant superintendent who is starting today, loves it when her students ask this question. In an interview with CT Examiner in March, Brzozowy explained that the question has been the foundation of her philosophy as a teacher and an educator. Her goal, she said, is to equip her students with practical skills that they can put to use in the real world.  Brzozowy began her career as a middle school science teacher in the Plainville Public Schools, where she spent seven years in the

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Lamont Vetoes Prison Bill Limiting Solitary Confinement

Gov. Ned Lamont vetoed a bill on Wednesday that would have limited the use of solitary confinement in state prisons, saying that the bill would “put the safety of incarcerated persons and corrections employees at substantial risk.”  The veto overrode bi-partisan support for the bill in the state legislature earlier this month. The bill was approved in the Senate 26-10 and in the House 87-55 with some modifications.  The approved version of the bill, also called the PROTECT Act, stipulated that individuals receive at least 6.5 hours per day outside of their cells, barring a serious incident, and required mental

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Workshop Will Gather Public Input on Renovation of Lymes’ Senior Center

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OLD LYME — Point One Architects will conduct a public workshop on Tuesday, July 6 at 1 p.m to talk about options for updating the Lymes’ Senior Center and to gather input from the community. The Lymes’ Senior Center Building Committee has scheduled the workshop, which will take place inside the center, located at 26 Town Woods Road, Old Lyme, with COVID protocols in place, including masks and social distancing.  The committee put out a Request for Qualifications and Proposal for a renovation feasibility study for the center on March 15 and received responses from seven firms. The committee interviewed

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Nothing Radical About Curriculum or Reforms, Says Guilford Superintendent

What does it mean to teach Moby Dick with cultural sensitivity?  Guilford Public Schools Superintendent Paul Freeman says it’s a matter of perspectives. “In Moby Dick, Queequeg is the only character of color, and Queequeg is presented as a noble savage,” Freeman said.  One way to broaden the lesson, he explained, would be to have students look at whaling in different cultures. Another would be to introduce students to stories of New Englanders of color who also engaged in whaling.  “That doesn’t mean that we’re going to stop teaching Moby Dick or look to pull down statues of Melville,” Freeman

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Lebanon Homeowners Face Big Bills for Small Water System

A small neighborhood in the town of Lebanon has been operating its own water system since the 41 houses were built in 1965. But now faced with the rising cost of meeting state regulations and with maintaining an aging infrastructure, the two remaining board members of the Carefree Homeowners Association are asking state regulators to mandate that Aquarion take over the system. The outcome of the case could in part determine how the state manages all 497 community water systems across Connecticut, including Carefree, serving 2.7 million customers. They range in size from a well system in Andover serving 16

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