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Merrill: Final Day to Register to Vote is Oct. 30


HARTFORD — The final day to register to vote in Connecticut before Election Day is Oct. 30.

Citizens have until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday to register online at www.myvote.ct.gov . Election Day is Nov. 6.

Potential voters can also register at their local town hall, the state Department of Motor Vehicles, or other state agencies.

Registration applications sent by mail must be postmarked by Oct. 30.

Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is encouraging people to register in advance, even though Connecticut has an Election Day registration program. She says that will enable the new voters to skip lines that may form at the polls of people wanting to register on Election Day.

Connecticut residents can check if they’re registered by visiting voter registration lookup.

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Hartford Police Arrest Robbery Suspect


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Hartford Police on Wednesday arrested a teenager suspected of masterminding several robberies in the city.

From September 2017 through November 2017, Hartford Police have been investigating more than a dozen internet armed robberies in Hartford. The internet web sites that were used to coordinate the robberies were Offer Up, Let it Go and Craigslist.

During the robberies, three victims were shot, several victims were pistol-whipped, cash, jewelry and phones were stolen.

Police arrested the 17-year-old suspect on Wednesday and charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.

More arrests are expected.

Hartford Police are asking everyone to use a safe transaction site such as one provided in front of the Hartford Police Department on High Street for all online transactions.

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Hartford Raise Minimum Age for Tobacco Purchase


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Hartford City Council on Monday voted unanimously to raise the minimum age for tobacco purchase from 18 to 21.

In a vote 9-0, council members banned the sale of cigarettes, cigars, vaping products and other forms of tobacco to anyone below 21.

The law is effective immediately. Enforcement will begin in April. Store owners who violate the law will be fined $250 for each violation. Their tobacco licenses may also be suspended.

Hartford officials are hoping other towns will adopt similar laws.

After a rally at city hall earlier this month, the nine-member council heard overwhelming support for the idea of raising the age for tobacco purchase in an effort to prevent nicotine addiction.

Advocates said that about 95 percent of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21 and become addicted as adults. By delaying the age when people begin using tobacco, it reduces the chance that they become lifelong tobacco users.

In Hartford, 23.5 percent of people 18 and older smoke, compare to 15.3 statewide. Hartford has the highest rate of smokers in the state.

So far, six states and more than 350 cities have raised the age requirement to 21.Hartford has joined California, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine and Massachusetts and Oregon in adopting the new law.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 4,900 Connecticut residents will die from smoking-related causes this year. And more than 1,000 children are expected to become new daily smokers under the current law.

Earlier this year, advocates for raising the minimum age testified before a committee in the General Assembly, saying the annual health care costs directly caused by smoking are $2.03 billion and Medicaid costs are $520.8 million.

Raising the age to 21 has been proposed before the General Assembly several times but the measure has always failed.

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Glassdoor Ranks Hartford as Top Five for Job Openings


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Hartford was ranked among the top five cities for job openings.

That’s according to Glassdoor, a website that list jobs. Glassdoor released the rankings on Wednesday.

When job openings and job satisfaction were factored, Hartford ranked number five, besting cities such as Boston and Washington, D.C .

In August, Hartford had 40,978 job openings.

The number one city for job openings is Pittsburg, PA with 91,849 jobs.

For more information about the list click here.

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Hartford Council to Vote on Raising Minimum Age to Buy Cigarettes


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Hartford City Council on Monday will vote on whether to raise the minimum age to purchase cigarettes.

Currently the minimum age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco is 18. The American Lung Association is pushing to change that age to 21.

The goal is the change the law first in Hartford and hope it spreads to other towns in the state.

After a rally at city hall on Monday, the nine-member council heard overwhelming support for the idea of raising the age for tobacco purchase in an effort to prevent nicotine addiction.

Advocates said that about 95 percent of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21 and become addicted as adults. By delaying the age when people begin using tobacco, it reduces the chance that they become lifelong tobacco users.

So far, six states and more than 350 cities have raised the age requirement to 21.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 4,900 Connecticut residents will die from smoking-related causes this year. And more than 1,000 children are expected to become new daily smokers under the current law.

Earlier this year, advocates for raising the minimum age testified before a committee in the General Assembly, saying the annual health care costs directly caused by smoking are $2.03 billion and Medicaid costs are $520.8 million.

Raising the age to 21 has been proposed before the General Assembly several times but the measure has always failed.

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U.S. News Report: Hartford Among Top 100 Places to Retire


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

Hartford is among the nation’s top 100 best places to retire, according to a U.S. News and World Report released Wednesday.

Hartford ranked 73 on the list with an overall score of 6.35. Among New England cities, Boston and Springfield scored higher. The place ranked number one is Lancaster, Pennsylvania with an overall score of 7.5.

U.S. News evaluated the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas based on how well they meet Americans’ retirement needs and expectations, which includes six factors: housing affordability, desirability, retiree taxes, the happiness index, job market and health care quality. The happiness index quantifies how content residents were based on Gallup Healthways State of American Well-Being: 2017 Community Well-Being Rankings report published in March.

The U.S. News report noted that the historic architecture of Hartford and said: “Don’t let the historic architecture fool you—even as one of the oldest metro areas in America, Hartford, Connecticut, has a lot to offer, both old and new.” Located in the Connecticut River Valley, Hartford has many cultural gems hidden amidst rolling hills and wooded neighborhoods. It’s home to a number of historic attractions and entertainment venues, nearby vineyards, state parks and ski slopes provide plenty of recreational opportunities throughout the year.

Hartford scored 5.3 in Housing Affordability and 8.5 in Healthcare, the two components of the overall score.

The top ranked New England city was Boston ranked at 25, Springfield, MA ranked 69, Worcester ranked at 77 and Providence ranked at 85. The top 10 places to retire according to the report are Lancaster; Fort Myers; Sarasota; Austin, Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids; Nashville; San Antonio; Dallas-Fort Worth; and Lakeland, Florida.

The rankings offer a comprehensive evaluation of the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas based on how well they meet Americans’ expectations for retirement, with measures including housing affordability, desirability, health care and overall happiness,” according to U.S. News.

Data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as U.S. News rankings of the Best Hospitals.

“Deciding where to retire is a big decision,” Senior Editor for Retirement at U.S. News Emily Brandon said in a statement accompanying the results. “The Best Places to Retire offers a way for future retirees to make a more informed decision based on what matters the most to them. Whether that be housing affordability, access to quality hospitals or the desirability of a place in general, the rankings offer a comprehensive list that can point people in the best direction for their needs.”

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Capital Receives Dislocated Worker Grant



HARTFORD — Dislocated workers will now have some help with reentering the workforce.

Thanks to a nearly $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Capital Workforce Partners in Hartford will receive $5,880,350 in Trade and Economic Transition Dislocated Worker Grants.

Dislocated Worker Grants, supported under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, assist those who are seeking to reenter the workforce by equipping them with the skills to compete in high-demand areas of the economy.

State officials said this grant will help those dislocated from the workforce by arming them with skills to succeed in high-demand employment sectors like health care and advanced manufacturing.

The grant will support up to 500 dislocated workers, said President and CEO of Capital Workforce Partners Alex Johnson.

Johnson said that the grant will also help Capital Workforce meet the needs of regional employers and job seekers with education to close the skills gap.

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Connecticut’s Unemployment Rate Dips


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

Connecticut’s unemployment rate dipped slightly in August, according to the state Department of Labor’s report released on Thursday.

Employers added 1,100 jobs in August, helping its unemployment rate drop from 4.4 percent to 4.3 percent, according to the report. This is the fourth straight monthly gain in jobs.

Last year,  the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent.

The U.S. unemployment rate in August was 3.9 percent, down from 4.4 percent in the previous year. Connecticut has the highest unemployment rate in New England, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. New Hampshire has the lowest rate of 2.7 percent.

Connecticut has now recovered 86 percent (105,400 jobs) of the 119,100 seasonally adjusted jobs lost in the “Great Recession.”

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Report: More Connecticut Residents Are Struggling to Make Ends Meet


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — About 40 percent of Connecticut households are struggling to make ends meet.

That’s according to the Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed (ALICE) report by Connecticut United Way.

Of Connecticut’s 1,357,269 households, 10 percent lived in poverty in 2016. And another 30 percent were above the poverty threshold but struggling financially.

That 30 percent is known as ALICE.  ALICE population consists of households with income above the federal poverty level but below the basic cost of living. ALICE are, therefore, people making too much money to qualify for federal assistance but not enough money to meet basic needs such as housing, transportation, food, childcare and health care.

Combined, 40 percent , or 538,529 households, had income below the cost of living in Connecticut.

This information comes at a time when the unemployment rate has declined and others boast of booming economic times.

“At a time when we’re hearing good economic news, it’s surprising to see the working poor is increasing,” said Stephanie Hoops, lead researcher and director of the ALICE Project. “The economic prosperity is not reaching all households yet.”

The cost of basic household expenses increased steadily in Connecticut to $77,832 for a family of four (two adults with one infant and one preschooler) and $24,672 for a single adult.

In Connecticut, 45 percent of jobs paid less than $20 per hour in 2016. At the same time, many ALICE workers are still struggling possible because of an increase in contract jobs and on-demand jobs that created less stability. And gaps in wages persist.

Moreover, ALICE families are not just concentrated in Connecticut’s cities.

“ALICE families live in every town and every city in the state,” said President and CEO of Connecticut United Way Richard Porth.

In each Connecticut town at least 10 percent of families are ALICE households. And about half of families do not have enough savings to cover living expenses if they have unexpected expenses such as illness or a major car repair.

Featured Photo: Courtesy of Getty Image.

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Center to Provide Mental Health Training


WEST HARTFORD — The Mandell Jewish Community Center will be offering youth mental health first aid training. Thanks to a grant from the Cigna Foundation.

The evidence-based Mental Health First Aid program will teach individuals how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders, officials said. The training will provide adults who regularly interact with young people, ages 12-18, “the knowledge and confidence needed to recognize crucial warning signs and symptoms of mental illness and the skills necessary to provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem.”

“While the Mandell JCC is known for its fitness, we recognize the important role mental health plays in overall wellbeing.  We also recognize that the conversation about mental health can be a sensitive discussion. There can be fear and stigma related to starting a conversation about mental health, but by teaching people how to identify, understand and respond to a mental health situation, we can help end the shame that keep so many from seeking the help they need,” said David Jacobs, Executive Director of the Mandell JCC.

“At Cigna, we believe that mental health is just as important as physical health, and teaching people how to respond to a mental health crisis is just as important as training people in CPR,” said Wendy Sherry, president of Cigna Healthcare of Connecticut, Inc. “We are proud to collaborate with the Mandell JCC to bring this important, groundbreaking training to the Greater Hartford community.”

The JCC expects to train 350 Youth Mental Health First Aiders over the next year. Youth Mental Health First Aiders are adults who regularly interact with young people, ages 12-18, including; teachers, parents, family members, caregivers, neighbors, health & human service workers, school staff, community organizations, peers, clergy, police officers, firefighters, first responders, coaches, camp counselors, pediatricians and municipal professionals. To date, more than one million people across the United States have been trained in Mental Health First Aid.

The courses offered by the JCC will be taught by certified Mental Health First Aid instructors, Rebecca Ewald Krusinski and Johanna Peck.

Ms. Krusinski is a licensed clinical social worker with over 15 years in the mental health field. Ms. Peck has over 15 years of marketing experience in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Connecticut, She is well-versed in human resources and staff management situations. Her own personal life experiences led her to become a certified instructor in Mental Health First Aid.

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