New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker Makes His Case for a Second Term

Incumbent New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker is running for reelection this November, facing a primary challenge from Karen DuBois Walton, executive director of New Haven’s public housing authority. Elicker defeated three-term incumbent Toni Harp to become mayor in 2019. Connecticut Examiner spoke with Elicker about his platform for improving public safety in New Haven, as well as his platform on education, PILOT, and more.  This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.  What have you been doing to improve public safety in New Haven?  We’re seeing a significant uptick in violence around the nation, and New Haven is unfortunately

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Optimum Cuts Speeds for Broadband in Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven Counties

New Optimum customers will see dramatically slower options for service in July, when the company will cut the upload speeds for its lowest-cost tier by 86 percent – from 35 megabytes per second to 5. Optimum – the primary service provider in 16 municipalities in Fairfield and New Haven counties, and 8 more around Litchfield – told ARS Technica that the reduced upload speeds on its cable network service will bring the company’s offerings in line with other internet providers. But critics say it’s just a ploy to push customers into higher-cost tiers. Burt Cohen, the state Broadband Policy Coordinator,

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State Preps for Federal Funding, to Run Express Trains for 10 Minute Savings on Metro-North

A promised new four-stop commuter express service from New Haven to Grand Central will take 10 fewer minutes from end to end than the current local service on the New Haven Line. The service is expected to start next year. The particulars of funding and scheduling the new service aren’t yet clear, and the cost will depend on how Metro-North fits the additional trains into its schedule, but the Connecticut Department of Transportation plans to run multiple express trains with stops only at New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford and Grand Central during peak commuting times next year, Public Transportation Bureau Chief

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East Haddam Budget Cuts Get a Public Hearing on Tuesday

EAST HADDAM — In response to an overwhelming vote to reject the town budget, the Board of Finance has trimmed its proposal to eliminate an increase in property taxes. The board also promised a more transparent process moving forward. The budget is scheduled for a second referendum on July 27, and a public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29, at the Nathan Hale-Ray High School auditorium and streaming on the town YouTube page. David Carbo, who wrote one of the editorials in the East Haddam News opposing the first budget, told the board at a meeting

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Energy Regulators Shift Costs, Change Formula for Small Businesses in Connecticut

In an effort to help small businesses that have struggled to pay significantly higher electricity rates than other customers, state regulators on Wednesday ordered Eversource to lower fixed costs in two of its commercial rate structures. The changes, which resemble formulas that set consumers rates, will go into effect on Nov. 1. More than 103,500 Eversource commercial customers are currently charged what’s called Rate 30, including small businesses and some schools. These customers pay a fixed rate of $44 per month for the first 2 kW of capacity they need. They pay an additional $14.52 per kW of capacity beyond

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Staff and Faculty Immunizations Unresolved as State Schools Finalize Student Mandate

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Students at the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, by and large, will be required to be vaccinated this fall — but the requirements for unionized faculty and staff remain unresolved. The policy, which the Board of Regents adopted in a meeting on Thursday, requires all students on campus to be vaccinated when they return to campus for the fall of 2021. Students can apply for a medical or non-medical exemption. Those who are approved for an exemption may have to follow other protocols, including a modified quarantine, masking and periodic COVID testing.  “An unknown mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated persons

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Talks on Teaching, Race and Racism Attract Several Hundred in Guilford

GUILFORD — A crowd of several hundred people gathered at the Guilford Community Center on Thursday evening to listen to a talk warning against the dangers of Critical Race Theory and urging parents to push back against the teaching of systemic racism in the local schools.  The talk was organized by Truth in Education, a self-described grassroots movement founded by a group of Guilford parents and community members. In a pamphlet that accompanied the talk, the group listed its goals. They include: “end critical race theory indoctrination,” “embrace capitalism,” “explain explicitly that systemic racism is a lie and does not

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The Docks Is Open to Renters, More Buildings to Come

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NEW LONDON — Officials and well-wishers enjoyed the harbor view from the sunny fourth floor deck of The Docks, a new 137-unit building at 500 Bank St., before stepping indoors for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of construction on Thursday.  On the deck, pre-ceremony, Jason Kambitsis, senior vice president of acquisitions and development for AR Building Co. of Pittsburgh, which developed the building, said there had been many concepts for the 2.5-acre site formerly known as Perkins Green.  “Since we’ve been working on this, there were myriad ideas that happened on this property before, but we’ve always looked

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Porter on the ‘Real Reason’ Lamont Threatened Marijuana Veto

As the state senate was voting to legalize marijuana, Paul Mounds, Gov. Ned Lamont’s chief of staff, released a statement that threatened to upend the entire process. Mounds made clear that the governor would veto the marijuana bill as written, unless an amendment added that day was removed.  The amendment, introduced by State Sen. Winfield, D-New Haven, would have prioritized people previously convicted of marijuana-related crimes and their immediate family members for  licenses to sell marijuana. But according to the statement, Lamont opposed letting anyone previously convicted of marijuana-related crimes, “regardless of financial means,” qualify for a special social equity

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Respler Loses Lease on Mystic Oral School, But Seeks Path Forward on Development

GROTON — The State of Connecticut will not renew the lease of Respler Homes on 40 acres of the Mystic Oral School property at 240 Oral School Road, but developer Jeff Respler plans to continue to focus on requirements for the sale, according to a spokesperson at the Department of Administrative Services.  “This is a DAS property which we have leased to Respler during the period which [he] is working on closing the sale through DECD,” wrote a spokesperson in an email on Thursday. “We know there are a significant number of moving pieces and considerations in this project, and

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Alberti Announces Her Second Run for First Selectman of East Lyme

EAST LYME — Democrat Camille Alberti, a member of town’s board of finance since 2013 and chair for two years, announced her second run for first selectman to an audience of about 25 people on Thursday evening.  She will compete against Republican Kevin Seery, who has served as a selectman since 2011 and as deputy first selectman since 2015. He previously served on the Board of Education for 14 years, including six years as board chair.  In 2019, Alberti was a late entrant to the race against First Selectman Mark Nickerson, replacing a candidate who needed to drop out. Nickerson

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11-2 Vote Supports Student Resource Officers in Middletown Schools

MIDDLETOWN — An exploratory committee tasked with evaluating the Student Resource Officer Program in Middletown Public Schools voted 11-2 to keep the current program, but to update the memorandum of understanding between the police department and the district. The current document would be revised to include specific policies related to hiring, removal, training and chain of command structure. The committee was created in March to solicit perspectives from parents, officers, educators and students and to return recommendations to the town’s board of education. The committee includes two members of the board of education, three school principals, two teachers, a social

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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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