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CT Healthcare Exchange Launches App


HARTFORD– After what it deemed a successful initial enrollment period, Access Health CT  has launched the nation’s first mobile application for a state health care exchange.

Officials said this mobile app is “another way for consumers to connect and enroll” in the affordable healthcare. It also aims to provide consumers with a new, easy way to compare health care coverage options access information and enroll in quality, affordable plans. The free application offers nearly all the functionality of the website, in an easy-to-use mobile format.

The app was designed for the most commonly used mobile platforms, including iPhone and Android devices. It is currently available for free from the Apple iTunes App Store for iPhone operating iOS 6 or later, and will be available for download beginning on June 6 from theGoogle Play Store for Android devices running Android 2.3 or later.

During the 2014 open enrollment period, 25 percent of consumers accessed our website from a mobile device, officials said. This app “will make it much easier for consumers to compare and shop on-the-go and will be another tool for our residents, brokers and outreach workers to assist people in their communities.”

Additionally, the app allows consumers to browse anonymously, determine potential eligibility for financial assistance, and view plan information, including all of the plan details and documents that are available on the website.

Until open enrollment begins for 2015, residents will only be able to shop for coverage through Access Health CT under special circumstances, such as marriage, divorce, birth, adoption or loss of insurance coverage from an employer and Medicaid enrollment which is open all year.

For more information about special enrollment, please visit www.accesshealthct.com.

 

 

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Hartford Residents Should be Skeptical About New Rock Cat’s Stadium


By State Rep. Douglas McCrory

Mayor Pedro Segarra announced Minor League Baseball is coming to Hartford after the Rock Cat’s have decided to make Hartford their new home.

But is this the best option for the Capitol City?

Are we dedicating too much of our time and resources to a playground for future millionaire baseball players and billionaire owners? It’s a strong possibility we are. We should use the $60 million to create, allure and maintain year-round businesses that will not only bring in additional tax dollars to the City but will provide jobs and services to the residents who actually live here and need it the most considering we have an unemployment rate approaching 20 percent.

I don’t agree that this is the right time to spend over $60 million on a new stadium in Hartford. But I would propose, Mayor Segarra and city council representatives, that if you are going to create between 500 and 1,000 jobs, those jobs should go to Hartford residents. That should go into the contract if it is not already there. These people need work, so why not allow them to work on this new playground in their backyard? I am leery that this project will create that many jobs, but any available job should go to Hartford residents looking for work considering the jobs will be temporary and mostly part-time. Thank God we’re raising the minimum wage.

Hartford contractors, and more specifically, minority contractors should be given priority to bid on this project. We have heard too many times recently that minority contractors will be used for projects in Hartford, but that just hasn’t been the case. If this is going to be a Hartford project, truly make it a Hartford project by getting the city residents involved and employed, after all, our taxes are funding the project. Consider what happened with the MLB Washington Nationals. The people in their community were given first priority for employment. Viewing this as a benefit, the community ultimately supported the project which was a win-win for all parties involved.

Doug_McCroryAlso, does it not raise concern that $60 million was seemingly found overnight for baseball? We have had the community voicing their concerns for years that we need a new Martin Luther King Jr. school, among many other needed improvements. If you walk around that school, it’s like a building from the pre- Brown vs Board of Education era. What a shame because it’s named for one of the greatest Americans of all time.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionWe need to be smart about how we are spending the money we have and be very careful in how we invest in the future of the Capitol City. Our tax base needs to be expanded and our citizens need to be employed with livable wages. This can be done by improving the quality of our education efficiently and tackle improvements on the infrastructure of the city. I believe, this is how we can uplift our city and make it a true rising star where people will want to live and raise their families.

The thought behind this project is correct: something needs to change in Hartford. As Connecticut’s Capitol City, providing entertainment is great but we should also ensure Hartford’s community and economic development are a priority. Our focus should be on the best way to get people back to work and have students thriving in school. Then we can talk about a playground for future millionaires.

 

 

 

 

 

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77-Year Old Grandmother to Graduate High School


By David Medina, Contributor

HARTFORD — Betty Ayers spent most of her 77 years raising children. She raised two of her own, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

On June 5, she will get up on the stage at the Bulkeley High School Auditorium and receive the high school diploma she earned as one of 145 graduates of Hartford Public Schools’ Adult Education Center.

Inspired by her life’s story, the staff at the center at 110 Washington Street also selected Ayers to address her fellow graduates at the commencement ceremony.

Ayers said that, during her many years of raising children, she was constantly seeking out government programs that provided her with opportunities to study English, Math and typing. Under the city’s Senior Aid Program, she worked in customer service in the Office of the Mayor from 2003 to 2008, when her position was eliminated.

She enrolled in the Adult Education program last year, she says, because the only way to get ahead in life is to have a diploma.

“It has been a great pleasure to have Ms. Ayers in our program,” said Thomas A. Blake, the center’s social worker. “She has served as a role model for our students and shared her wisdom with both students and staff.”

The center will present diplomas from both the GED Preparation Program and the National External Diploma Program, which assesses the high school level skills of adults, like Ms. Ayers, based on their life and work experiences. Hartford State Representative Angel Arce will be the keynote speaker for the ceremony.

According to Dr. Tina Jeter, the director of the center, 95 percent of the graduating students there are employed and many have amazing stories to tell of perseverance and overcoming barriers to earn their diploma. We welcome your coverage of this event.

 

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Rep. David Baram Garners Public Funds


BLOOMFIELD/WINDSOR – State Rep. David Baram, who serves Bloomfield and Windsor, is one of the first eight politicians to receive grant payments for the August primaries and the November election.

The State Elections Enforcement Commission announced on Friday that it will make its first public grant payments under the Citizens’ Election Program for the Aug. 12 primaries and the Nov. 4 general election.

The CEP program  is a voluntary program that gives money to those seeking public office in the General Assembly and other statewide offices.

To qualify for public campaign financing,candidates must demonstrate they have adequate support from the public. Candidates running for state representative must also raise $5,000 from at least 150 individuals living in their district.

Candidates for state senate accomplish this by raising $15,000 from at least 300 individuals residing in municipalities in their district. Participating candidates may only accept small dollar contributions from certain individuals—the maximum contribution is $100—and no contributions from state contractors or PACs.

Grant amounts vary.

Officials said that the grant program was designed, in part, to reduce the influence of special interests in state politics. In its fourth full cycle of providing public funding to General Assembly candidates, the CEP continues to provide a seawall against the rising tide of special interest money in today’s elections.

The Commission determined that state representative candidates Tim Ackert (R – 8th District), David Baram (D – 15th District), Gail Lavielle (R – 143rd District), Joseph Polletta (D – 68th District), Robert Sampson (R – 80th District), Mary Stone (D – 23rd District), Emily Wilson (R – 142nd District) and Melissa Ziobron (R – 34th District) were eligible to receive Program grants. The Commission also determined that state senate candidate Bob Duff (D – 25th District) was eligible to receive a Program grant. Baram (D – 15th District) began serving in March 2009 and is one the Judiciary and Banking committees.

The Commission will be accepting applications from candidates in primaries until July 18 and, for candidates in the general election, until Oct. 10.

The Citizens’ Election Program is a voluntary program which allows qualifying candidates for General Assembly and statewide offices to receive full public financing.

To qualify for public campaign financing,candidates must demonstrate they have adequate support from the public. Typically, primary grant amounts are $11,140 for state representative candidates and $38,990 for state senate candidates, but amounts are higher if the candidates run in districts where one major party has a large advantage in the number of electors registered with that party.

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State to Hold ‘Step Up’ Business Conference


WETHERSFIELD  – There is still time for employers to register for the free Step Up conference on June 3 in Bristol.

The conference, which  will be in the Oaks Ballroom at the Hilton on located at 42 Century Drive, Bristol, is scheduled to be from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Registration will begin at 7 a.m. and a continental breakfast will be provided.

Conference topics include incentives such as a six-month wage subsidy and training grants under the Subsidized Training and Employment (Step Up) program, low-interest financing through the Small Business Express Program,  job expansion tax credits, guidelines for becoming a State of Connecticut vendor, and tax incentives for equipment purchases.

Free assistance for business planning, market analysis services and website design will also be featured.

In addition to informational presentations, program representatives will answer questions and determine how employers can optimize the various services offered to Connecticut businesses.

The Step Up conference is being hosted by area legislators, including State Sen. Jason C. Welch, State Rep. Christopher A. Wright, and State Rep. Frank N. Nicastro. Sponsors include Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Secretary of State Denise Merrill, the Connecticut Department of Labor, the state’s Workforce Investment Boards, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, and a number of community partners and organizations.

To pre-register or for a list of additional Step Up conferences being offered in June, please visit the Labor Department’s Step Up website at www.StepCT.com.  For questions about the Bristol Step Up conference please contact Janice Albert at Janice.Albert@ct.gov or (860) 827-6207.

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Hartford Library to Kick off Reading Program


HARTFORD — Research shows that low-income students that do not continue educational programming during the summer suffer greater achievement losses, gain more weight, and become less likely to graduate high school than their more affluent peers.

In order to fill this critical learning gap, Hartford Public Library’s Summer Learning Program will aim to encourage reading and enrichment throughout the hotter months with a citywide educational events, activities, and prizes with its 2014 Summer Learning @ HPL Program.

The kick off  festival is set for June 7 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Library’s Downtown location.

The festival will incorporate the theme of this year’s Summer Learning Program, “Fizz Boom READ!” with science activities, crafts, games, and a special 3:00 p.m. Mad Science show. A bounce house, giant slide, face painting, airbrush tattoos, snacks, music and more will be free for all.

Free transportation will be available throughout the city via buses that will run between Library branches and Downtown Hartford.

In addition to the festival fun, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about and register for the Summer Learning Program and how to win prizes for reaching summer reading goals.

This year, in partnership with Mega Education, a series of 10 Summer Learning registration ice cream parties will be held throughout the summer, where two lucky registered participants at each Library branch will win brand new Android tablets.

Mega Registration parties are held from 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the following locations:

Tuesday, June 24 – Mark Twain Branch, 55 Forest Street

Friday, June 26 – Barbour Branch, 259 Barbour Street

Thursday, July 3 – Blue Hills Branch, 649 Blue Hills Avenue

Tuesday, July 8  –  Ropkins Branch, 1750 Main Street

Tuesday, July 15 – Camp Field Branch, 30 Campfield Avenue

Friday, July 18 – Albany Branch, 1250 Albany Avenue

Tuesday, July 22 – Downtown Library, 500 Main Street

Wednesday, July 30 – Park Branch, 744 Park Street

Thursday, July 31 – Dwight Branch, 7 New Park Avenue

Friday, August 8 – Goodwin Branch, 460 New Britain Avenue

Registration for the Summer Learning program can also be completed at the June 7 kickoff, or online at www.hplct.org by clicking on the summer sun.

 

Library Offers Adult Summer Reading Events!

Hartford Public Library’s summer programs and prizes are not just for the school-aged! Adult readers are invited to participate in Library Book Club summer discussions:

Thursday, June 19, 12:30 p.m. – Book Talk with James Rouman, author of Uncertain Journey

Thursday, July 17, 12:30 p.m. – Book Club Discussion – Delicious! A Novel by Ruth Reichl

Thursday, August 21, 12:30 p.m. – Book Club Discussion – Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet

Registered participants are eligible to win prizes at each event! Adult readers may register for the Summer Reading Program online at www.hplct.org or at any Library branch.

 

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Hartford Officials Have Consensus on Budget


HARTFORD — After weeks of wrangling over the 2014-2015 budget, Hartford officials have an agreement.

On Wednesday, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra, City Council President Shawn T. Wooden and the Hartford City Council  announced a budget agreement the upcoming fiscal year.

The agreement allows continuous funding top priorities in public safety, economic development and infrastructure improvements to streets and sidewalks, officials said.

Moreover, the budget contains no mill rate increase, funds a new police class of 20 along with an additional 10 cadets, and contains no reduction in essential city services. The new police class is scheduled to start in Jan.  2015.

Officials said there is currently no draw down to the Rainy Day Fund Balance and no transfer of city assets to the pension fund.

The budget, which takes effect on July 1, includes a fully funded pension contribution and the creation of a Hartford Committee on the Restructuring of City Government.

The Committee, which is to be confirmed by July 1, 2014, will have joint appointments from the Mayor and City Council and includes experts in City government and labor unions representatives. They will provide quarterly recommendations, the first of which are due December 30, 2014.

“The biggest challenges we face are the rising cost of pension and medical benefits as well contractual salary increases,” said Mayor Segarra. “Our fixed costs are higher than our revenues and that model is not sustainable. As I said before, we are As we move forward, both the Mayor’s Office and City Council are committed to starting a process of strategic planning, encompassing all stakeholders, with the goal of making structural changes to our operations in order to provide long-term stability and build a sound financial future for the capital city.”

“Hartford’s long-term financial stability has been an important topic of conversation between the Mayor and City Council,” said Council President Wooden. “We are committed to identifying efficiencies to ensure Hartford has a healthy financial future.”

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CT Voter Registration: There’s An App for That, too


HARTFORD — Greater Hartford residents can now use an app to register to vote.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill recently announced that mobile applications are now available for eligible Connecticut citizens who wish to register to vote online using a smartphone or tablet.

In February, Secretary Merrill joined Governor Dannel P. Malloy to officially unveil Connecticut’s new online voter registration system.  Since that time more than 2,000 Connecticut voters have used the system to become new registered voters or change their existing registration.  As of today, the apps are available through Google Play and Apple.  The link to the mobile applications is available at https://voterregistration.ct.gov

In 2014 Connecticut became the 15th U.S. state to offer online voter registration, which was built and implemented in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.

Voters use an online form to enter their personal information, and grant permission to affix an electronic image of their signature – already on file at the DMV – to the enrollment form.  

This new convenience of registering to vote through a mobile device is being provided to voters while simultaneously maintaining the state’s strong security precautions to protect the integrity of the Connecticut Voter Registration System.

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CT Ends Contribution Cap After Court Decision


HARTFORD – The Center for Competitive Politics has urged Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to respond quickly to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, a ruling that ensures that Connecticut does not continue to violate its citizens’ First Amendment rights.

In McCutcheon, the Court ruled that citizens could not be limited in how much they spend overall on contributions to political candidates, parties and PACs in each election cycle. To ensure compliance with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court ruling states that the state should repeal Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-611(c) as soon as possible.

In response, Connecticut’s Elections Enforcement Commission released an advisory opinion on Thursday, saying that it “will not enforce the aggregate contribution limits from individuals to various committees” in the state law because the law is unconstitutional under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. 

With the ruling, Connecticut becomes the fourth state to announce it will halt enforcement of such laws.

The Supreme Court’s April ruling in the case McCutcheon v. FEC. CCP’s letter is cited by the Commission’s opinion.

CCP reports that similar laws in as many as 17 states and the District of Columbia are constitutionally suspect.

“We’re pleased the Commission promptly confirmed that the law was unconstitutional and announced it would halt its enforcement,” said David Keating, CCP President. “To ensure full compliance with the First Amendment, Connecticut should also repeal this law as soon as possible. We hope the legislature and governor will act soon to complete the job started by the Commission.”

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the Court, “The Government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”

The Commission’s opinion notes that it “will continue to apply and enforce” the contribution limits “a donor can give to a single candidate or committee.”

A copy of CCP’s letter to Connecticut officials is available here.

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Greater Hartford Chabad to Host Sassy Reuven


HARTFORD – This May Chabad of Greater Hartford will be hosting Sassy Reuvena veteran of the Israel Defense Special Operation Forces.

During the terror-filled years of 1973-1976 Sassy served in the IDF’s elite “Red Beret” paratrooper unit. He participated in several covert operations in Israel’s mighty struggle against Arab terrorism.

In July of 1976, Sassy participated in the famed Entebbe counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission code named “Operation Thunderbolt”, flying thousands of miles over enemy territory to rescue Jewish hostages being held by terrorists in Uganda.

A week earlier, on 27 June, an Air France plane was hijacked, by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the German Revolutionary Cells, and flown to Entebbe, the main airport of Uganda. More than 100 Israeli and Jewish passengers remained as hostages and were threatened with death.

Sassy will share his personal experience, step-by-step from the moment he was called to duty, including the preparation for the mission, landing in Uganda & completing the mission behind enemy lines.

His story is Israel’s story: of courage, endurance, defiance and a willingness to sacrifice it all for the right to live in your homeland in freedom.

The event will be on Wednesday, May 21, 7:00pm at the Chabad House, 2352 Albany Avenue in West Hartford. To register log on to www.ChabadHartford.com, call 860-232-1116 or email: info@ChabadHartford.com

 

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