Archive | March, 2009

Rell Orders Transparency for Stimulus


HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell today announced that she has signed an executive order to give the state multiple levels of oversight and transparency to ensure federal stimulus dollars are used prudently and within the strict timeframes mandated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“Taxpayers have every right to know how their money is being used as we position the State of Connecticut for economic recovery with job creation and critical investments,”  Rell said. “The hallmarks of this unprecedented federal act are transparency and accountability. This executive order will provide oversight on every state project, every application and every deadline to ensure Connecticut meets the letter of the law.”

Executive Order No. 25 calls for the creation of a State Accountability Officer, a State Transparency Officer and Stimulus Project Oversight Officer. The governor noted that none of these positions will require new hiring, but will be filled by current state employees.

  • The State Accountability Officer will be responsible for ensuring the state provides all reports, certifications and assurances required by the ARRA.
  • The Transparency Officer will maintain and keep current the CT Recovery Web site, posting all applications, receipts for spending stimulus funds and other required documentation.
  • The Governor said the Stimulus Project Oversight Officer, would act as the state’s “clerk of the works,” coordinating with every state agency receiving stimulus funds and oversee the progress of all stimulus-funded infrastructure project, ensuring they have the required permits and applications and meet deadlines.

The Executive Order, signed March 23, also requires that every state agency that applies for or receives stimulus funds appoint an agency accountability officer responsible to ensure that the money is used in accordance with the ARRA. Each agency is also required to maintain a detailed Web page on the agency’s Web site, listing the agency’s stimulus activities.

Overall, Connecticut will receive about $3 billion in federal stimulus dollars. Approximately $1.65 billion is in direct aid and grants while $1.3 billion is in the form of Medicaid assistance. The federal government estimates the ARRA will create and/or save more than 40,000 jobs in Connecticut

The federal act also mandates that states make public contacts with lobbyists and consultants. Rell said the State of Connecticut will post a log every Monday on the official CT Recovery Web site listing any contact Executive Branch employees have had with registered lobbyist and consultants concerning projects, issues and other topics related to the ARRA.

For more information on the ARRA in Connecticut and to view Executive Order No. 25, visit the state’s official stimulus Web site at: www.ct.gov and click on the CT Recovery link.

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Easter Bunny Returns to Westfarms Mall


easter-bunny1WEST HARTFORD — This Easter, Westfarms is welcoming back the Easter Bunny.

Families are invited to Westfarms’ Center Court, which has been transformed into a spring setting, to have their pictures taken with the Easter Bunny.

The Easter Bunny photo attraction will be open from March 21 through April 11.  Hours of operation are Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Westfarms is located in Farmington off Exit 40 on I-84 and Exit 30 on Route 9.

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Dodd Pledges Support for Caribbean Region


By Aubry Campbell

HARTFORD — Embattled Sen. Christopher Dodd stopped by a group of Caribbean-American leaders recently to pledge support and for possiblke trade relationship with the Caribbean and the region.

Dodd in a recent luncheon hosted by the Caribbean Trade Council of Hartford said his office stands ready to assist the promotion and development of investment and trade initiatives between the US and the Caribbean region, in whatever way possible.

Responding to a range of questions and concerns at a recent meeting with members of the New York Caribbean Consular Corp at the St. Monica’s Church Hall,  Sen. Dodd said that he was a big supporter of micro business ventures.

“I’m a great believer in small business development. That’s where most employment comes from. Today with the availability of the internet, if you can have access to technology, you can market your products very well, so we’ll be glad to try and help in that area.”

Sen. Dodd poses with (l to r) Consul General Geneive Brown Metzger, Consul General Harold Robertson and Sgt. Andrew Lawrence

Sen. Dodd poses with (l to r) Consul General Geneive Brown Metzger, Consul General Harold Robertson and Sgt. Andrew Lawrence

Dodd, a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee (FRC), told attendees that he would try to get some of the concerns shared at the meeting on the agenda for next month’s Summit of the Americas in Trinidad & Tobago.

US President Barack H. Obama is scheduled to attend the summit with heads of government from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping.

Dodd said that he was upbeat about the summit taking place in Trinidad & Tobago, noting that it presents an opportunity to highlight and promote a lot of issues impacting  the region, including but not limited to the environment, trade and security.

 Dodd assured the meeting that he would make an effort to get the US Department of Commerce and the Export/Import Bank to sit down and look at how they can jointly assist small and emerging businesses to access markets that commercial banks are sometimes too reluctant to support.

In welcoming  Dodd’s offer to help the region, Consul General of Jamaica, Mrs. Geneive Brown Metzger underlined the government’s focus on the small business sector, noting its worth as the biggest job creator. 

Also present at the meeting were: Harold Robertson, Consul General of Trinidad & Tobago in New York; Hon. Mayor Eddie A. Perez, Connecticut;  Anne Evans, Director/US Department of Commerce; Andrew Lawrence, President/Caribbean Trade Council of Hartford, CT; and Sheena Aimey-Petrolito, Executive Secretary/Caribbean Trade Council of Hartford.

 

 

 

 

 

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City Ramps Up Noise Control


HARTFORD — Hartford officials are  putting more pressure on police to enforce  its noise ordinance, with the aim of improving quality of life in the city.

Accroding to a recent press release from the mayor’s office, flyers are being distributed and information is also being posted online and on Government Cable Access Television Channel 96.

“Being respectful of our friends and neighbors helps improve the quality of life in our city.  Any noise that is plainly audible at a distance of 100 feet from its source is considered too loud.  100 feet is the distance between public light poles.  Enforcing the Noise Ordinance, we will help make our communities more livable and more vibrant,” said Mayor Perez.

During the first quarter of last year, 8 noise ordinance violations were issued, according to city officials.  In that same time frame this year, the number is 171.  That is more than a 2000% increase.

Prohibited noise levels and/or activities include:

1.       Noise from a person’s premises/building/yard etc including impulse noises (short duration).

2.       Vehicle horns or other audible signal devises from a motor vehicles unless used as a warning to prevent or avoid a traffic accident

3.       Advertising— no person shall use a drum, bell or other instrument or devise for the purpose of attracting attention to a performance, show or sale or to display or advertisement of merchandise

4.       Motor vehicle and recreational noise is the subject to an infraction unless the noise is from a loud amplification devise or similar equipment and no permit has been obtained.

Penalties include community service, a fine up to $90.00, or a jail sentence up to 25 days.

The complete ordinance can be found in the Municipal Code Chapter 23 Section 23-1 through 23-8 that was most recently amended in January of last year.

Improving the quality of life in the City is an ongoing effort.  Last year, there was a renewed concentration on litter.  Now the educational focus has expanded to noise.

“The goal is to make Hartford a more livable and enjoyable City,”   Perez said.

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Wadsworth Hosts ‘Save The Last Dance’ Star


HARTFORD — Have a passion?  Do it.  Have a dream?  Live it. 

That’s what the Wadsworth Atheneum would like you to do by joining other ethusiasts on March 28 at 2 p.m. for a special screening of Save the Last Dance and an exciting guest appearance by actor and hip hop artist, Fredro Starr. 

Starr will lead a post-film discussion, Q&A session and be available for autographs.

Set against the gritty backdrop of the rough streets of Chicago, Starr played the troubled teen, Malakai in the popular 2001 film.  Starr first gained renown as part of the 90’s hardcore rap group, Onyx, before making his segue into acting with an appearance in the 1993 Forest Whitaker-HBO vehicle, Strapped.

Save the Last Dance is on the surface, a girl meets boy story of two high school students from disparate backgrounds, who share a love of dance, music and eventually each other.  Instead of being another teen flick however, the film tackles heavy subject matter such as race, teen parenthood, violence, and poverty.  The film will be shown in the Wadsworth Atheneum’s Aetna Theater at 600 Main Street.

For more information, visit www.wadsworthatheneum.org.

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Lawmakers Consider Apology for Slavery


By Susan Haigh, AP writer

HARTFORD — Connecticut legislators are considering making their state the first in New England to apologize for slavery and other racist policies.

A legislative committee heard testimony Monday on a resolution that would issue a formal, general apology and express the General Assembly’s “profound contrition” for the official acts that sanctioned and perpetuated slavery hundreds of years ago.

The state’s African-American Affairs Commission, a liaison between black communities and the government, is urging legislators to pass the resolution, which it has called “an exercise in reconciliation” and not an effort to determine fault for slavery.

The commission’s legislative analyst, Frank Sykes, told the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee that “opportunities like this must be seized,” especially in light of the “giant stride” the country took last November in electing its first black president, Barack Obama.

”While this is encouraging,” Sykes said, “it should inspire us and challenge us to continue peeling away at the layers of racial discrimination and intolerance.”

New Jersey last year became the first Northern state to apologize for slavery, and at least five other states have done so.

Of Connecticut’s population of 3.5 million people, about 10 percent are black, according to U.S. Census estimates for 2007.

John A. Stewart, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Hartford, said he believes the differences between blacks and whites in the state stem from Connecticut’s participation in slavery.

Among full-time workers in the state, black men earn 70 percent of what white men earn. Black men in the state also are four times more likely than white men to live below the federal poverty line, and black children under 5 are seven times more likely than white children to live in poverty, Stewart said, citing U.S. Census data.

”Slavery has left a cultural burden on both the exploited and the exploiters that still permeates our society,” Stewart said.

The resolution says slavery was practiced in Connecticut from the 17th through 19th centuries. There were about 5,100 slaves in the colony by the mid-1770s, about 3 percent of the population at the time.

In 1723, the colony passed an act creating a 9 p.m. curfew for slaves to prevent what it called the “Disorder of Negro and Indian Servants and Slaves in the Night Season.” Violation of the curfew was punishable by a whipping for the servant and a fine for the master.

The resolution mentions how Connecticut’s wealth grew as merchants participated in the Triangle Trade, which carried slaves, crops and goods among West Africa, the Caribbean and America.

It also mentions how Connecticut legislators rejected emancipation bills in 1777, 1779 and 1780 and how the new state Constitution in 1818 specifically denied the right of blacks to vote. But it later mentions how Connecticut changed its ways and played a key role in abolition efforts, culminating in the outlawing of slavery in 1848.

The resolution would need to be voted on by the Government Administration and Elections Committee, possibly next week, before going to the House of Representatives and then the Senate

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What Happened to My 401(k)?


This turbulent economy has taken its toll on everybody. No one is left unscathed – from Warren Buffet to Google all the way down to your personal 401(k). Many companies are struggling to stay afloat, and, just like the rest of us, are making necessary changes to keep their heads above water. Almost everybody is trimming the fat off their budgets, including businesses.

Since June 2008, more than 80 companies have eliminated or reduced their matching contributions to employee 401(k) plans, according to the Pension Rights Center. That list keeps growing as President Barack Obama throws the kitchen sink at our desolate economy in hopes of reviving our stock market from its financial coma.

So what do you do if your employer cut its company match? Here are some points to consider before you sell every investment under the sun and stuff your money in a piggybank:

Take a deep breath and try to relax. Your 401(k) is a retirement plan specifically designed for, well, your retirement. It is a long term investment so there is no reason to put yourself through the gut-wrenching process of following the day-to-day struggles of the stock market. It is very easy to get wrapped up in today’s media as they constantly fill our minds with Armageddon-like thoughts. Remember, it’s their job to create hype and turn nothing into something.

Keep contributing to your 401(k). The annual contribution limit for 2009 is $16,500 and an additional $5,500 for employees over 50 years old. Take advantage of it. 401(k) plans still offer a valuable means to save on a tax-deferred basis, meaning you are not taxed when you put the money into the account, but you pay taxes when you withdraw the funds. As we all know, it takes money to make money. So the larger your untaxed balance, the more it can grow. Also, because you don’t pay taxes on your 401(k) contributions, it lowers your taxable income when you file your taxes, thus saving you money.

Start contributing to a traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Without the company match, there is really no great benefit to a 401(k) when compared to an IRA. Practically anyone can open and contribute to a traditional IRA. The only requirements are that you must have taxable compensation and be under age 70½. It is important to realize that an IRA is not an investment itself, but rather a tax-advantaged vehicle where you can hold some of your investments. You need to decide how to invest your IRA dollars based on your own risk tolerance and investment philosophy. How fast your IRA dollars grow is largely a function of the investments that you choose.

A traditional IRA basically functions the same as a 401(k), but there are several key differences. Your employer offers 401(k) plans and, they may be limited to very few investment choices. In an IRA, you can invest in various investments – mutual funds, individual stocks, bonds, CD’s, annuities, etc. – depending on the financial institution where you open the account. The only downside is the contribution levels are much lower – you can only contribute up to the lesser of $5,000 ($6,000 if age 50 or older) or 100 percent of your taxable compensation.

If you’re strapped for cash, borrow against your 401(k). While it may be tempting, avoid withdrawing from your retirement accounts before you are 59½ years old. They are not bank accounts. You will get hit with a 10% early withdrawal penalty plus your current income tax rate. So if you need some cash, borrowing money from your 401(k) may be the cheapest source of funds you can find. Typically, the interest charged on such a loan will be less than an unsecured bank loan. When you pay the money back, you’re really paying the money to yourself. Also, loans from your 401(k) are not reported to the credit-reporting agencies. However, lenders will count the loan as debt if you are applying for a mortgage. Not all retirement plans allow participants to take loans so check with your plan administrator to see if you qualify.

Stay Positive. Once the economy turns around, companies will start to have confidence in their bottom line and may begin matching your 401(k) contributions again. Until that happens, use these tips to shed light in today’s dark investment world.

John D. Coury is a financial advisor with Waddell & Reed Inc. in Hartford, CT. Send additional comments or questions for John D. Coury to editor@thehartfordguardian.com.

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Cruise Ships Dump Waste in Caribbean Sea


ST. KITTS — Kilometers from shore in the open Caribbean Sea, cruise ships are dumping ground-up glass, rags and cardboard packaging. But vessels in other waters such as the Baltic and North seas are prohibited from throwing any solid waste overboard other than food scraps.

The difference? Many countries with coastlines on the world’s most fragile seas abide by a United Nations dumping ban that requires them to treat ship-generated garbage on land. Caribbean islands, however, have yet to adopt the ban, saying they simply don’t have the capacity to treat ship garbage on shore. They also fear the ban could push ships to dock in less-regulated ports of call.

“We don’t have space to take nothing from nobody,” said Travis Johnson, assistant harbor master in Saba, an island of 1,500 people that is building a new pier to accommodate larger cruise ships.

The UN’s International Maritime Organization outlawed dumping in 1993 for the Caribbean, a largely enclosed area where the string of islands blocks currents that would flush waste into the Atlantic Ocean. It will not take effect, however, until enough of the surrounding nations report their capacity for treating trash from cruise ships  information that the vast majority of nations so far have withheld.

The UN created the ban to protect areas that are vulnerable because of heavy ship traffic or sensitive ecology. It has already taken effect in the Antarctic, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Persian Gulf and is due to come into force in the Mediterranean in May.

Environmentalists say debris dumped in the ocean can entangle sea creatures, damage water quality and alter ecosystems by providing habitats for opportunistic organisms.

Ignoring the ban also has its consequences for tourism. Some trash dumped in the ocean washes ashore with the winds and currents, fouling the beaches. In the Cayman Islands, the government has traced milk cartons on shore to a passing cruise ship.

“If you just dump this out at sea, eventually it gets back up on land,” said Jeff Ramos, a Curacao-based US Coast Guard officer.

In the Mediterranean, environmental officials say coastal nations are highly aware of marine litter and did not resist the ban.

“The issue of garbage from ships is very well-documented, at least in our region,” said Lilia Khodjet El Khil, a Malta-based officer with the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Center for the Mediterranean.

Under the current Caribbean regulations, ships can begin dumping garbage, including metal, glass and paper, five kilometers from shore as long as it is ground to less than an inch. Almost anything but plastic can be dumped beyond 40 km.

The ban, if approved, would outlaw discharging of any solid waste at any distance except for food, which could still be dumped five km. from shore.

The islands scattered across the Caribbean have struggled to establish a common policy because when it comes to the cruise industry, they see themselves as competitors. Cruise ship arrivals are major economic events, with passengers spending roughly $1.5 billion annually in Caribbean ports. Governments are wary of driving away ships that might find fewer requirements or lower fees elsewhere.

In one notorious example, Carnival Cruise Line withdrew from Grenada in 1999 amid a dispute over $1.50-a-head tax to pay for a new landfill.

“Countries haven’t forgotten that,” said Christopher Corbin, a Jamaica-based officer with the United Nations Environmental Program. “They are worried that they will get played off against each other.”

More of this Associated Press article  can be found at the link below: 

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1235898322411&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

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Cancer Killer Re-discovered?


HARTFORD — News that a popular fruit, usually found in tropical regions like the Caribbean and the Amazon, is a cancer killer is making its way around on the internet.  See article below:

If there ever was a single example that makes it dramatically clear why the existence of Health Sciences Institute is so vital to Americans like you, it’s the incredible story behind the Graviola tree.

The truth is stunningly simple: Deep within the Amazon Rainforest grows a tree that could literally revolutionize what you, your doctor, and the rest of the world thinks about cancer treatment and chances of survival. The future has never looked more promising.

Research shows that with extracts from this miraculous tree it now may be possible to…

  • Attack cancer safely and effectively with an all-natural therapy that does not cause extreme nausea, weight loss and hair loss
  • Protect your immune system and avoid deadly infections
  • Feel stronger and healthier throughout the course of the treatment
  • Boost your energy and improve your outlook on life

The source of this information is just as stunning: It comes from one of America ‘s largest drug manufacturers, the fruit of over 20 laboratory tests conducted since the 1970’s! What those tests revealed was nothing short of mind numbing… Extracts from the tree were shown to:

  • Effectively target and kill malignant cells in 12 types of cancer, including colon, breast, prostate, lung and pancreatic cancer.
  • The tree compounds proved to be up to 10,000 times stronger in slowing the growth of cancer cells than Adriamycin, a commonly used chemotherapeutic drug!
  • What’s more, unlike chemotherapy, the compound extracted from the Graviola tree selectively hunts down and kills only cancer cells. It does not harm healthy cells!

The amazing anti-cancer properties of the Graviola tree have been extensively researched–so why haven’t you heard anything about it? If Graviola extract is as half as promising as it appears to be–why doesn’t every single oncologist at every major hospital insist on using it on all his or her patients?

The spine-chilling answer illustrates just how easily our health–and for many, our very lives(!)–are controlled by money and power.

Graviola–the plant that worked too well

 

One of America ‘s biggest billion-dollar drug makers began a search for a cancer cure and their research centered on Graviola, a legendary healing tree from the Amazon Rainforest.

Various parts of the Graviola tree–including the bark, leaves, roots, fruit and fruit-seeds–have been used for centuries by medicine men and native Indians in South America to treat heart disease, asthma, liver problems and arthritis. Going on very little documented scientific evidence, the company poured money and resources into testing the tree’s anti-cancerous properties–and were shocked by the results. Graviola proved itself to be a cancer-killing dynamo.

But that’s where the Graviola story nearly ended.

The company had one huge problem with the Graviola tree–it’s completely natural, and so, under federal law, not patentable. There’s no way to make serious profits from it.

It turns out the drug company invested nearly seven years trying to synthesize two of the Graviola tree’s most powerful anti-cancer ingredients. If they could isolate and produce man-made clones of what makes the Graviola so potent, they’d be able to patent it and make their money back. Alas, they hit a brick wall. The original simply could not be replicated. There was no way the company could protect its profits–or even make back the millions it poured into research.

As the dream of huge profits evaporated, their testing on Graviola came to a screeching halt. Even worse, the company shelved the entire project and chose not to publish the findings of its research!

Luckily, however, there was one scientist from the Graviola research team whose conscience wouldn’t let him see such atrocity committed. Risking his career, he contacted a company that’s dedicated to harvesting medical plants from the Amazon Rainforest and blew the whistle.

Miracle unleashed


When researchers at the Health Sciences Institute were alerted to the news of Graviola, they began tracking the research done on the cancer-killing tree. Evidence of the astounding effectiveness of Graviola–and its shocking cover-up–came in fast and furious…

…The National Cancer Institute performed the first scientific research in 1976. The results showed that Graviola’s “leaves and stems were found effective in attacking and destroying malignant cells.” Inexplicably, the results were published in an internal report and never released to the public

…Since 1976, Graviola has proven to be an immensely potent cancer killer in 20 independent laboratory tests, yet no double-blind clinical trials–the typical benchmark mainstream doctors and journals use to judge a treatment’s value–were ever initiated…

…A study published in the Journal of Natural Products, following a recent study conducted at Catholic University of South Korea stated that one chemical in Graviola was found to selectively kill colon cancer cells at “10,000 times the potency of (the commonly used chemotherapy drug) Adriamycin…”

…The most significant part of the Catholic University of South Korea report is that Graviola was shown to selectively target the cancer cells, leaving healthy cells untouched. Unlike chemotherapy, which indiscriminately targets all actively reproducing cells (such as stomach and hair cells), causing the often devastating side effects of nausea and hair loss in cancer patients.

…A study at Purdue University recently found that leaves from the Graviola tree killed cancer cells among six human cell lines and were especially effective against prostate, pancreatic and lung cancers…

Seven years of silence broken–it’s finally here!

A limited supply of Graviola extract, grown and harvested by indigenous people in Brazil , is finally available in America . The full Graviola story–including where you can get it and how to use it–is included in Beyond Chemotherapy: New Cancer Killers, Safe as Mother’s Milk, a Health Sciences Institute FREE special bonus report on natural substances that will effectively revolutionize the fight against cancer.
This crucial report (along with five more FREE reports) is yours ABSOLUTELY FREE with a new membership to the Health Sciences Institute. It’s just one example of how absolutely vital each report from the Institute can be to your life and those of your loved ones.

From breakthrough cancer and heart research and revolutionary Amazon Rainforest herbology to world-leading anti-aging research and nutritional medicine, every monthly Health Sciences Institute Member’s Alert puts in your hands today cures the rest of America –including your own doctor(!)–is likely to find out only ten years from now. 

 

http://hubpages.com/hub/Medicinal-Benefits-of-Soursop
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soursop 

 

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State Delays Launch of New Agency


HARTFORD — The elderly will have to wait a bit longer for a state agency dedicated to their needs.

Gov.  Jodi Rell  announced that she has reached agreement with state Senator Edith Prague – the leading proponent of establishing a new state Department on Aging – to push back the launch date of the new agency from July 1 of this year to July 1, 2010.

The delay will allow more time for a smooth transition of programs currently operated by the Department of Social Services over to the new agency, according to the press release. It also avoids any expenses associated with the transition during the first year of the next two-year state budget.

“Connecticut’s growing population of senior citizens makes clear the need for an effective, flexible state agency that will provide the services and programs they deserve,”  Rell said. “We want to make sure that agency is established properly from the start.”

“When the state decided years ago to make the then-independent Department on Aging a part of DSS, I believed it was the right decision for the time,” the Governor said. “I also believe it is the right thing to do now to make the agency a separate office again. There are over 473,000 people age 65 or older in Connecticut now.

Nationwide, people age 65 and older will make up 20 percent of the population by 2030. This is a large and growing need we must address. We will do that by re-establishing our Department on Aging in a smart, customer-focused way.”

Sen. Prague added, “Our plan to breathe life into my long-standing vision for a new Department on Aging is the responsible thing to do for Connecticut’s growing number of senior citizens, and I’m grateful to the Governor for her steadfast support. Postponing its launch until next summer is also a responsible step, given our state’s precarious budget circumstance. I’ll eagerly look forward to that date, when a dedicated state agency and cabinet-level commissioner will be on-the-job to help seniors with all the challenges they face.”

Once the Department on Aging is fully operational, it will take responsibility for the existing network of services, regional administration and funding allocated under the Older Americans Act. Other programs the new agency will manage include CHOICES, Connecticut’s program for health insurance assistance, outreach, information and referral, counseling and eligibility screening; the Alzheimer Respite Care Program; nutritional programs for needy elderly persons; and the Long Term Care Ombudsman program, which investigates and resolves the complaints and concerns of long term care residents.

Other programs, such as ConnPACE, the state prescription drug assistance program, will remain under the purview of DSS but the two agencies will coordinate outreach and other efforts.

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