Archive | January, 2012

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Aquarion Announces Environmental Awards


BRIDGEPORT, CONN. – For the second year in a row, the Aquarion Water Company will grant awards for outstanding voluntary achievements to protect and restore Connecticut’s natural environment based on nominations from the public.

The Aquarion Environmental Champion awards will be named in four categories: Adult, Youth, Business, and Non-Profit Organization. Nominations can be made for efforts to protect or improve Connecticut’s natural resources – its water, air, soil, and plant and wildlife communities.

“Supplying clean and safe water to more than 590,000 people across Connecticut gives us a special appreciation for the benefits a healthy environment brings to everyone,” says Charles V. Firlotte, President and CEO of Aquarion Water Company. “We’re delighted to again be putting a statewide spotlight on the many individual, organizational and business volunteers who devote countless hours on important environmental projects.”

Aquarion will honor winners on June 2 at a major event to be held at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal will participate in presenting the awards, as will Daniel Esty, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and John DeAugustine, Group Publisher for Hearst Media Services of Connecticut. Awards will include a $1000 savings bond for the student winner and $2500 contributions to environmental non-profit organizations selected by the other winners.

“Last year, Northrop Grumman was recognized by Aquarion for establishing a Pollution Prevention Committee, which led to the reduction of substantial amounts of paper waste in our Norwalk facility,” said Tony Izzo, Site Director for the company.  “It was a real honor to have our efforts recognized and as a result we were able to donate $2,500 to Norwalk High School’s environmental program.”

The deadline for nominations is May 1. Self-nominations and renominations are welcome. More information on the awards and a nomination form are available at www.aquarionwater.com andwww.facebook.com/aquarionwater.

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John E. Rogers Center Sponsors Black History Month Program


By Rose Henry, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Ask Meryth Andrews and she can tell you about the founding of the grassroots organization now with renewed passion for community economic development through education and preservation: the John R. Rogers African-American Cultural Center.

That’s because Andrews is the granddaughter of John E. Rogers. Rogers was a local self-taught historian, who championed the teaching of black history. Like Andrews, the new JERAACC board members are dedicated to reviving the organization and cementing its status as “the root in the Greater Hartford community, always there to build up the community through pride and empowerment.”

Of the many activities slated for the 2012 agenda is a black history program: “Race and Representation in Black Connecticut: From Black Governors to Black Legislators in the Age of Barack Obama.”

The free event will be on Feb. 9, 5: 30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Hartford Public Library Atrium. Light refreshments will be served. The event will also feature an exhibit of nineteenth-century black governors and twentieth-century black leaders, including local members of the Tuskegee Airmen.  Historians Ann-Marie Adams of Rutgers University and Katherine Harris of Central Connecticut State University, will lead the community-wide discussion.

Andrews was bursting with enthusiasm about the exciting programs and activities slated for this year.

Citing Marcus Garvey often-quoted words that a people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots, organizers laid bare the essence of the organization.

“This is one of the many reasons why the John E. Rogers African American Cultural Center, Inc. is culturally relevant to the Greater Hartford community, particularly during Black History Month,” said Andrews, a local attorney.

This year, the national black history month theme is focused on the black female with Ida B. Wells as the iconic image representing the strength, beauty and resilience of black women across the African Diaspora.

Board members said the Cultural Center “hopes to be the root in the Greater Hartford community…always there to build up the community through pride and empowerment.”

“I think it’s important to build our present and future with the [JERAACC] collection,” said Eugene Green, long-time board chair and a 35-year veteran teacher in the Hartford Public School system. “We had the chance to study our past and then project our future.”

That’s where the new leadership team comes in, organizers said.

“Dr. Rogers was so very passionate about Black History, more specifically the history of Blacks in Connecticut,” Andrews said. “As a lifetime resident of the Greater Hartford area and the granddaughter of Dr. John E. Rogers, it is my responsibility and goal to see this project to fruition.”

The Howard University Alumni Club of Greater Hartford will underwrite a portion of the event.

Donations for black history month themed, school-aged books are being accepted by for the Howard University Alumni Club of Greater Hartford’s Read Across America Program. For more information about HUACGH reading program, contact: Kristen Clark at huaa_region_one@yahoo.com.

For more information about the Hartford Public Library black history month program, call Ira Revels at 860-695-6320.

 

 

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Jazz Musician Returns To Hartford


HARTFORD — A saxophonist of international renown, Joel Frahm spent much of his youth in West Hartford, attended Hall High School and played in their acclaimed jazz band.

He and his family are long-time active members of Asylum Hill Church.

Joel will be returning on Feb. 12 for a special concert with soprano Jolie Rocke Brown and rhythm section in February for An Afternoon of Love Songs. The event will begin at 4 p.m.

From Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, the great American songbook, and even some more contemporary interpretations, this concert will have your toes tapping and touch your heart.

The concert takes place in the beautiful historic sanctuary of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, 814 Asylum Ave. inHartford.

Tickets ($20) can be reserved online at ahcc.org or by calling (860) 278-0785.

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Christopher White Says Goodbye To Hartford Magazine


By Shawn Murray, Staff Writer

WEST HARTFORD — They made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

That’s community newspaper Publisher Christopher White’s claim about the recent sale of his regional, lifestyle publication, Hartford Magazine. And he’s sticking to it.

But the back story of this business move by the Chicago-based Tribune Co., owner of the Hartford Courant and Fox 61, is an intriguing one.

White said he couldn’t reveal the terms of the sale. But that didn’t stop The Hartford Guardian from pursuing this media story, one that has impacted most of Greater Hartford and the nation.

As previously announced, the February issue of the magazine is the last edition under White’s helm. In it, the magazine features articles about “the heart in Hartford” and its people, including awarding-winning editor and publisher of this online news media, The Hartford Guardian: Ann-Marie Adams.

The sale of the glossy magazine is the latest coup by corporate media conglomerates vying to control market share in this new and tumultuous media landscape.

But what makes this story different is, well, its namesake town: Hartford. Launched by Michael Guinan in 2004, the magazine rarely, if at all, covered the soul of the city, some say. Instead, it focused on the life style of Hartford’s rich and not famous, wealthy suburbanites, newscasters, politicians and partygoers.

Guinan sought out a co-publisher in White. Both men had “different personalities and different visions for the magazine,” said White. During his three years as publisher, the magazine began to reflect a slice of diversity in Hartford and its people.

The editorial and personality differences rose to a crescendo with a lawsuit. After a lengthy investigation by a team of seven lawyers, Guinan was fired for “accounting irregularities,” according to White. The Courant then hired Guinan in October 2011 as an advertising director of sales and events. The Guardian sent a request for comment to Guinan.

White is a Hartford resident and owner of Life Publications, which publishes 12 community newspapers mailed free of cost to residents in suburban towns such as Avon, Canton, Farmington and West Hartford.

He said he will continue “having a conversation” with the people in these towns, focusing on what really matters to them. The sale of the magazine to Tribune has left White “really comfortable for a long time.” And he has no complaints about it, he said.

And as for his commitment to community news, he said:

“I’d rather own a small publication than work for a big one.”

Additional reporting by Ann-Marie Adams

 

 

 

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Malloy Discusses More Consolidations, Possible Job Growth, From Davos


By Keith M. Phaneuf

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced plans Friday for a second round of agency consolidations, including combining oversight for the University of Connecticut, its health center and the chief medical examiner’s office.

Malloy, who discussed the proposed changes during his noon conference call from Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum, will ask the legislature next month to combine 15 departments and agencies into seven.

The governor also said he faced “another jam-packed day” at the conference, including discussions with one company considering a major expansion that would add 1,000 new jobs in the state.

“I can’t elaborate,” he said. But “it was a definitive and detailed discussion about that possibility” of expanding here.

“Last year we began the work of changing how the state does business — making government smaller, less costly and easier to navigate,” Malloy said. “Like companies and families across the state and the country, state government must do more with less. This session we are continuing the effort to ensure government is working as efficiently as possible.”

Malloy said the UConn merger was a natural fit, particularly given that the chief medical examiner’s office is located on the Farmington campus of the UConn health center. “There’s a lot of interaction,” the governor said. “They’re on that campus.”

Other proposals include merging:

 

  • The Administrative Services and Construction Services departments;
  • The Office of Protection and Advocacy and the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities;
  • The Comptroller’s office and the Teacher’s Retirement Board;
  • The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Psychiatric Security Review Board;
  • The Labor Department and the Workers’ Compensation Commission;
  • And the state’s Health & Education Facilities and Higher Education Supplemental Loan authorities.

 

Malloy said there would be relatively little in terms of position cuts, and budgetary savings, in 2012-13, the first fiscal year the mergers would take effect under his proposal.

“Most of the people in these particular areas — not all — fall under the no-layoff-clause,” the governor said, referring to the concessions deal his office negotiated and state employee unions and the legislature approved last year.

In exchange for a two-year wage freeze, new restrictions on health care and retirement benefits, and savings from other changes, the administration agreed to exempt most bargaining units from layoffs for four fiscal years, through 2013-14.

No specific cost-savings projections were released Friday. But the administration is watching for opportunities to trim positions further through attrition, and the governor said he expects those mergers will yield additional savings in future years.

Malloy added that while he didn’t expect to propose further concessions in his next budget plan, “I don’t want to rule it out.”

The governor and legislature agreed on a plan last spring for a net reduction of 22 departments and agencies, from 81 to 59. Technically, the new budget removed 27 entities via consolidation, but it also created five new ones, eliminating a net total of nearly 70 positions at that time.

One of the biggest consolidations involved the merger of nine watchdog agencies — covering ethics, elections enforcement, right-to-know laws, clean contracting, oversight of child welfare services and others — into the new Office of Governmental Accountability.

Other major changes merged the departments of Public Utility Control and Environmental Protection; put the Department of Information Technology and some functions of the Department of Public Works into the Department of Administrative Services; and merged the Connecticut State University System, the community colleges and Charter Oak State College into the Board of Regents for Higher Education.

In referred to his discussions with businesses, Malloy said his administration has been in various stages of talks with more than 20 companies that potentially could qualify for “substantial benefits” under existing state programs designed to assist companies prepared to create new jobs.

“I have concrete offers that I have received at Davos,” the governor said, quickly noting that in some cases it can take months or even years of talks before any deal is struck.

Other highlights of the governor’s day included a breakfast with the leader of Swiss banking giant UBS. Besides a enjoying “robust discussion about challenges for businesses in the United States,” Malloy said he also was questioned by European business and political leaders who are worried about the current gridlock on Capitol Hill.

They want to know “if our politics are permanently broken or if this is a temporary malady,” he said.

This story originally appeared at www.CTMirror.org.

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CRT Offers Free Tax Preparation


HARTFORD— The Community Renewal Team is offering free income tax preparation services to help low- and middle-income Connecticut families capture maximum tax credits while saving them costs on tax preparation services – to the tune of millions of dollars, CRT officials said.

CRT administrators said that tax volunteers put more than $6.7 million into the pockets of Hartford and Middlesex County families through federal Earned Income Tax Credits, child care credits, tax refunds and savings on tax preparation fees. And CRT tax customers held on to more than $30 million in the past five years.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), offered by organizations across the nation, offers free tax preparation by IRS-certified volunteers to income-eligible families. State and federal returns are e-filed, and refund checks are direct-deposited for those who have checking accounts or issued as a pre-loaded bank card for those who cannot open a traditional bank account.

VITA aims to help working families obtain tax refunds and credits and to educate the community about refunds and opportunities to grow their assets. CRT will offer VITA services at most sites from now until April 15, 2011.

Appointments are available at three CRT Community Resource Centers in Hartford:

  • 1229 Albany Ave.
    • Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9 a.m. – noon; 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
    • Tuesday, Thursday 9 a.m. – noon; 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
    • Saturday 9 a.m. – noon
  • 330 Market Street, and 395 Wethersfield Ave.
    • Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – noon; 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
      • Closed on April 6th for Good Friday
  • Contacts:
    • 1229 Albany Ave, Ana Echevarria, (860) 560-5776
    • 330 Market Street, Luis Escalera, (860) 560-5782
    • 395 Wethersfield Ave., Katiria Rivera, (860) 560-5894

 Limited Hartford appointments also are available at:

  • 555 Windsor Street (CRT): Tuesday and Thursday, 2-5 p.m. Contact (860) 560-5600
  • 443 Franklin Ave. (Hartford Municipal Employee Federal Credit Union): Thursday, 3-6 p.m. Contact Carmen Ramos, 722-8110 x3

Appointments in Middletown, East Hartford and Manchester are available at the following locations:

  • Middletown: 44 Hamlin (CRT): Monday 1-3 p.m.; Wednesday 9 a.m.-noon; Friday 1-4 p.m.; Saturdays Jan. 28, Feb. 25, March 10 and March 31 only, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Evening hours Feb. 7, March 10, April 6, 4-6 p.m. April 13, 16 walk-ins from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.; April 17 walk-ins from 9 a.m. – noon. Contact Michele Ryon, (860) 347-4465
  • East Hartford: 81 Woodlawn Circle (Larson Community Center): Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Contact Giovanna Bajonero, (860) 282-0284
  • Manchester: 479 Main St. (Manchester Human Services): Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Contact Melissa Simmons (860) 647-3095

 

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CRT Opens New Center On Market Street


HARTFORD — Community Renewal Team has recently opened a Community Resource Center at 330 Market St., which will provide case management and free completion of state and IRS tax returns through the VITA program.

Staff will help families enroll children in school, complete Department of Social Services applications and access other benefits for which they are eligible.

Staff will also connect households in crisis with the CRT Eviction/Foreclosure Prevention Program, as well as various financial literacy programs. Information is also available on the IDA (Individual Development Account), a savings account which matches $2 for every $1 deposited by participants, who can save for a home or condo, education or business start-up.

Normal business hours are 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information about the Community Resource Center at 330 Market St., please call 860-560-5782. The other CRT Community Resource Centers will continue to provide the same services, as they have in the past.

For the Community Resource Center at 395 Wethersfield Avenue, call 860-560-5894. For the Community Resource Center at 1229 Albany Avenue, call 860-560-5776.

Behavioral and Mental Health Services

The newly-renovated building is also the primary location for CRT’s licensed Behavioral Health Clinic, which provides group and individual recovery counseling and support, Partial Hospitalization and an Intensive Outpatient Program. BHS also provides psychiatric services, medication management, and assistance for individuals with HIV/AIDS, their partners and families. Most insurance types are accepted, and CRT works with those who are un- and under-insured. To reach the CRT Behavioral Health Service on Market Street, please call 860-761-7900

Offices for Home Energy Solutions (weatherization) and CRT’s affiliate company, Meadows Real Estate and Property Management, are also moving to Market Street. Home Energy Solutions provides home assessments and weatherization services for households of all income levels. For information on weatherizing a single- or multi-family home, please call 860-560-5137.

The Meadows designs and develops residential and educational buildings, and provides property management services for public and private organizations. To reach The Meadows, please call 860-560-5482.

The Market Street location formerly housed the Star Silk and Woolen Co., and later Home Health Pavilion, Inc. CRT purchased the property in August 2010. Baily & Johnson Architects and PDS Energy & Construction, Inc. carried out the renovation project that began in December 2010.

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Hartford Officials Push Red Light Camera Bill


HARTFORD — Remember that scene in the YouTube video? The scene shows an elderly Latino man, who was severely injured in a hit-and-run accident and left on the street by disinterested passers-by.

That was local activist Angel Arce’s father, Angel Arce Torres. Torres, 78, was killed in hit-and-run incident on Park Street in 2008. A security camera on Park Street happened to record the incident, which lead to the arrest of the driver, Luis Negron, who was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison.

On Thursday Arce joined city officials pressure the General Assembly to pass a bill proposed by Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney (D-New Haven). The bill would permit cities with  60,00 or more people to enact local laws to install red light cameras at designated intersections.

Senator John Fonfara (D-Hartford) and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra joined officials from Hartford Hospital outdoors at an intersection where multiple hospital employees have been struck by cars and killed in recent years.

The group called for new state legislation that would permit cities like Hartford to install red light traffic cameras to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Fonfara said this move will allow the use of technology  to fight crime in traditional ways and make the community safer.

Segarra agreed, saying that “the red light camera legislation is not about fining violators – it’s about implementing a measure that could potentially save lives.”

According to the Federal Highway Commission, red-light running kills 1,000 people and injures 165,000 a year nationally at a cost of $230 billion. Over the last 20 years, on average, more than 5,000 pedestrians were killed across the United States in motor vehicle-related accidents.

On March 27, 2010, Robert Suljoti of Wethersfield was about to begin his first day of work at Hartford Hospital as an employee in the hospital’s environmental services unit. He had already completed a week’s worth of training, and was walking in to begin his first official day of work.

Around 6 a.m., he attempted to cross Retreat Avenue—Hartford Hospital lies just on the other side—when he was struck and killed by an oncoming car. The hit-and-run driver then fled the scene, and his car was found crashed on Maxim Road. Marcus Hodge pleaded guilty to the crime last October, and faces up to 15 years in prison.

Only months later, two more traffic accidents occurred on the same road. First, a patient was struck by a car while crossing the street in a wheelchair. Then a second Hartford Hospital employee, Sandra Hoyle, was killed when a speeding vehicle struck her car.

A police investigation found that the driver, Hector Rodriguez, was speeding westbound on Retreat Avenue and ran a red light before crashing into Hoyle’s car at the intersection of Retreat Avenue and Seymour Street, the location of today’s press conference.

“We’ve lost people who meant a great deal to us. And we owe it to their memories to make Retreat Avenue a safer place,” said Jeff Flaks, Hartford Hospital President and CEO. “Safety is one of our core values.” 

Arce knows first hand the meaning of such values.

“Red light cameras will help to stop traffic violations and save lives. It is because of cameras that police were able to find the man who killed my father,’ Arce said. “Although it took them longer to find all the evidence needed for trial, they were able to at least identify the perpetrator within two weeks.”


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US Attorney Indicts Mother and Son on Drug Charges


HARTFORD — A mother and her son recently received a federal indictment for allegedly distributing more than 100 tons of heroine, Hartford police said.

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced on Thursday that a federal grand jury in Hartford returned an indictment charging Teresa Torres, also known as “Teresa Morales,” “Theresa Cardona,” and “Bebe” with distributing heroine.

Torres’s on, Jonathan Torres, also known as “Pete” and “Joker,” 21, was arrested. Both suspects live on Lawrence Street in Hartford.

Police said that between January 2011 and January 2012, both mother and son  conspired to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.

The indictment further alleges that, on January 6, 2012, both TERESA and JONATHAN TORRES possessed and distributed heroin, and that, on January 12 and January 19, JONATHAN TORRES possessed and distributed heroin.

If convicted, both face a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of 40 years on the conspiracy charge, and a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each possession with the intent to distribute charge.

The defendants have been detained since their arrests on January 19.

 

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Police Arrest Two Suspects in South End Robbery


HARTFORD — Hartford Police arrested two suspects in two South End robberies that occurred earlier in  January.

Police arrested Alphonso Carmona, 36, of Hartford. Carmona was charged for first degree robbery in connection with the Jan.18, armed robbery of the Dunkin Donuts at 274 Franklin Ave.

And they also arressted Christopher Daniels, 17, of Hartford. Daniels was charged with one count of attempted murder, one count of first degree assault and one count of conspiracy to commit first degree assault in connection with a Jan. 18 stabbing.

Hartford police gave this report:

On January 20th, 2012, Southeast District officers took Carmona into custody at his vehicle on Webster Street, which they had had under surveillance since the early morning hours.

Once in custody, Carmona, during an interview with Major Crimes Division detectives, provided a written confession to the Franklin Avenue robbery as well as a Jan. 14 armed robbery of the Dunkin Donuts at 75 Airport Road, Hartford.

Carmona remains in custody on a $250,000 bond pending arraignment in Hartford Superior Court.

A warrant charging him with the January 14th armed robbery is pending, police said.

In a second arrest,  Daniels, was taken into custody by Major Crimes Division detectives on Jan. 24 and remains in custody on a $1,000,000 bond pending arraignment in Hartford Superior Court.

Daniel’s victim sustained a serious stab wound to the chest.

 

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