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Bloomfield Receives Money for Mental Health Programs

HARTFORD — The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded a $308,740 grant to the Bloomfield School district, one of only 35 schools nationwide, that will use the money to “establish or expand mental health” counseling programs.

According to a statement from the department,  grantees will use funds to support counseling programs in targeted elementary schools. Specifically, the new awards will aid schools in hiring qualified mental-health professionals with the goal of expanding the range, availability, quantity and quality of counseling services. Parents of participating students will have input in the design and implementation of counseling services supported by these grants.

“School counselors serve a critical role in ensuring that students are safe,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “These grants will enhance school-based counseling programs, which have proven to be a great source of help for students with mental-health issues.”

Grantees also will use funds to help increase the number of available and qualified counselors based on a school’s student population. Research shows that having adequate counseling services can help reduce the number of disciplinary referrals in schools, improve student attendance and academic performance, and enhance development of social skills. Funds also may be used to support parental involvement, counselor and teacher professional development, and collaboration with community-based organizations that provide mental-health and other services to students.

The other school district in Connecticut to receive a grant is Southington.

For more information on the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program, visit


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President of Hartford Negro Women’s Council Dies

BLOOMFIELD — Jean Ward, a community organizer with a “gentle spirit” and president of an historic organization that aims to uplift black women, died on Saturday. She was 58.

Ward was the president of the local chapter of the National Council of Negro Women, founded by  Mary McLeod Bethune. In the last few weeks of her life, she was busy recruiting young professionals to join the organization and also putting final touches on a Nov. 6 Founder’s Day scholarship luncheon, friends said.

Ward was also a city council staff. Most recently, she served as the executive assistant to Councilwoman Cynthia Jennings, whom she helped attain office. Jennings is the only woman on the council.

However, Ward was always willing to help anyone who needed help, friends said.

“Jean served our city for many years – both in government and in the community. In fact, she was an important part of keeping the City Council connected with the community and was instrumental in helping the City Council successfully launch the Faith-based Anti-Violence Summit,”  City Council Chairman Shawn Wooden.

The daughter of Alice Ward and the late Johnnie Ward was born in Chatham County, Savannah, GA on September 21, 1954. Friends and family said she was a daughter, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother and devoted friend is survived by her mother, Alice Ward; five children and nine grandchildren.

Her calling home ceremony will be held on Oct. 19, at the Phillips Metropolitan CME Church located at 2500 Main St., in Hartford.
Viewing hours from 9-11 a.m. with the funeral following at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to contribute to a memorial fund set up to assist her son who has just started college may send donations to the Ahmad Jamal Jordan Scholarship Fund, c/o Hartford Municipal Credit Union,443 Franklin Avenue, Hartford, CT 06114.
For online condolences, please visit

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Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Forms Mailed

HARTFORD — Attorney General George Jepsen said on Monday that payment claim forms are going out to thousands of Connecticut borrowers whose homes were lost to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011, and who may be eligible for payment under the $25 billion National Mortgage Foreclosure settlement.

Eligible borrowers were foreclosed upon during that period and had mortgages with Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers who agreed to the settlement with the federal government and attorneys general for 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The settlement, which took effect in April, earmarked $1.5 billion in payments for 1.75 million borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure during that period. The payments will be at least $840, and will very likely be higher, depending upon the number of borrowers who decide to participate.

“This payment is intended as partial compensation for the illegal conduct of the mortgage servicers,” said Attorney General Jepsen, who helped to negotiate the settlement agreement. “Unfortunately it will not help everyone, nor restore homes that were lost to foreclosure. But it represents help that otherwise would not have been available to borrowers, who can still pursue any legal claims they have against the servicers,” Jepsen said.

Nearly 9,000 notices are going out in Connecticut based on 7,600 eligible loans. Co-borrowers with different addresses will each be sent a notice package.  If both return forms, they will split the payment amount.

Attorney General Jepsen said the one-page claim forms are simple to complete.  Connecticut borrowers should  fill out and return them as soon as possible in the envelope provided, or file their claims online at

The deadline for all claims is Jan. 18, 2013. Payment checks are expected to be mailed in 2013.

Last week, the national settlement administrator mailed notification postcards to the eligible borrowers nationwide. Beginning today and continuing through Oct. 12, packets containing a letter from the Attorney General, claim forms, instructions and other explanatory information are being mailed to eligible borrowers in Connecticut.

Borrowers who believe they are eligible, but did not receive notification should e-mail or call a toll-free number: 1-866-430-8358. The same contacts may be used by borrowers who have questions or need help filing their claim. The information line is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

Eligible borrowers do not need to prove financial harm, or pay anyone, to file their claim, Jepsen said. Nor do they give up their rights to pursue a lawsuit against their mortgage servicer, or to participate in a separate program called the Independent Foreclosure Review Process being conducted by federal bank regulators.

That separate program is available to borrowers of more than two dozen lenders who were part of a foreclosure action on their primary residence between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010. If the review finds that the borrower suffered financial injury because of errors or other problems during their home foreclosure process, the borrower may receive compensation or another remedy. The review is being conducted by the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. (OCC) A review form request and other information about that program is available at

Jepsen said the settlement claim payment is available to eligible borrowers even if they participate in another foreclosure claims process. However, any amount they receive may be credited against a future payment that may result from another foreclosure claim process or legal proceeding.

The national settlement followed state and federal investigations, which claimed that the five companies routinely signed foreclosure-related documents outside the presence of a notary public and without personal knowledge that the facts contained in the documents were correct. They also claimed that the mortgage servicers committed various errors and abuses in their mortgage processes.

Broad reform of the mortgage servicing process resulted from the settlement, as well as financial relief for borrowers still in their homes through direct loan modification relief, including principal reduction.

Jepsen is a member of the executive committee monitoring the banks’ compliance with the settlement terms. Assistant Attorneys General Joseph Chambers and Matthew Budzik, Finance department head, are assisting the Attorney General in this effort.

For more information about eligibility and filing a claim:


Call toll-free: 1-866-430-8358; (hearing impaired: 1-866-494-8281)

More information about the national settlement is available on the Attorney General’s website:

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U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis Should Seek Answers from DECD, Others

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis’ meeting today with elected officials, political candidates, community activists and residents in the Greater Hartford region should tackle this burning question: Why is there $12 million for minority businesses sitting at the Department of Economic and Community Development in a time when these businesses are bruising from a deep economic recession and a long recovery?

In a region where Latino and black jobless rates dwarf the state’s recently reported jobless rate of 9 percent, DECD has yet to distribute the allocated money to small and minority business owners, who are likely job creators for many Hartford residents.  We hope that besides her roundtable discussion, press conference and other meetings around the state today, she makes a beeline to DECD.

Hartford has the highest jobless rate in the state. The overall unemployment rate for the city is reportedly 17 percent. The Latino jobless rate is 25 percent. The black jobless rate is 27 percent. These figures do not factor in the number of people who have stopped looking for work after one or two years of unemployment or underemployment.

Moreover, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra added 14 people to the unemployment line this week, in an effort to balance the city budget.

Besides pontification from pundits and politicians, we need to see leaders taking actions to create conditions that promote economic growth, so that businesses can hire more city residents. Distributing the money to Hartford’s small businesses would allow at least two hires by each company and at the same time help build capacity to provide better services to city residents. It all seems elementary. Yet there is so much malaise in all sections of the city. And the biggest obstacle seems to be the very people who are purportedly community leaders.

Solis must question these community leaders and local officials about their seemingly inability to coordinate efforts to create conditions that help businesses grow so that they can provide jobs.

The $12 million can provide many jobs. News that that much money allocated specifically for minority businesses was just sitting at DECD met puzzled participants at a small business summit for urban business sponsored by the state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other entities. The irony was that the summit provided possible answers to this predicament. It was clear that summit organizers failed to inform local business owners of the summit within a one-mile radius of the Artist Collective on Albany Avenue, where the event was held. The  auditorium was packed with mostly business owners, who traveled from New Haven and Bridgeport. And the few Hartford business owners present heard the news from friends in other parts of the state—not in Hartford.

The one-day summit had so many key people present to help these businesses. It was also unbelievable that more effort was clearly not made to inform business owners about this economic-boosting opportunity right in thier backyard.

How unfortunate.


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Hartford Police Crack 2007 Cold Case

HARTFORD — Hartford Police cracked a cold case that happened on Wethersfield Avenue in 2007.

Police Chief James C. Rovella on Monday announced the arrest of  Shanoah Walcott, 31, of Deer Meadow Lane in Bloomfield for the murder of Jepther White.

On Aug. 28, 2007, police found White in his vehicle behind 356 Wethersfield Avenue suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, police said.

Police obtained an arrest warrant for Walcott on July 19 and took her into custody without incident at 121 Huntington St., Hartford on July 20. Walcott is in custody on a $1 million  bond.

She is scheduled for arraignment on July 30 in Hartford Superior Court.

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Hartford Police ID Homicide Victim

HARTFORD — Hartford Police have identified the victim of Saturday’s Ashley Street homicide.

The victim, police said, was Michael Bailey Jr., 24, of Bloomfield, CT.

Police are still investigating the homicide at 99 Ashley St, on Saturday at,  2:15 a.m.

The Hartford Police Department Major Crimes Division is asking anyone with information about this incident to contact HPD Major Crimes Division Sergeant Brandon O’Brien at (860) 757-4089.

Information can be given anonymously by contacting the Crime Stoppers Tipline at 860-722-TIPS (8477).

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CT Senate Expands Scope of Jobs Bill

HARTFORD — A plan to build on and expand the job-creating momentum of October’s landmark Jobs Bill was debated and passed in the state Senate on Friday.

Senate Bill 1, “An Act Concerning Jobs and the Economy,” expands state workforce and small business development programs, provide incentives to hire post-9/11 combat veterans, promotes Connecticut’s economic and cultural assets, and seeks to reward businesses that are willing to relocate jobs from overseas back to Connecticut, according to Sen.  Eric D. Coleman (D-Bloomfield).

The vote on Friday comes as reports show that Connecticut is experiencing its lowest unemployment rate in three years; since January, Connecticut has added 10,500 new jobs.

One of the hallmarks of the bipartisan October Jobs Bill was the Small Business Express program, which set aside $100 million in state loans and grants over two years for small manufacturers, especially those in precision manufacturing, business services, green and sustainable technology, and bioscience and information technology.

So far, more than 500 small businesses in Connecticut have applied for Small Business Express assistance; 38 loans totaling $32 million have already been approved, creating 193 new jobs and retaining 213 jobs in Connecticut, according to state officials.


Senate Bill 1

Expands the existing Small Business Express Program to an estimated 3,600 additional state businesses. Under current law, a business qualifies for Express loans and grants if it employs 50 or fewer people; Senate Bill 1 raises that employee ceiling to 100 employees.

Establish the Unemployed Armed Forces Member STEP-UP (Subsidized Training and Employment Program) with grants to subsidize a businesses’ cost of hiring unemployed veterans during their first 180 days (about six months) on the job. The bill authorizes $10 million in bonds for the program, with $5 million available upon passage and the balance available in Fiscal Year 2014.

Creates the “Connecticut Made” and “Connecticut Treasures” programs to promote products made in Connecticut and promote the state’s cultural, educational and historic attractions. Part of the bill provides for the design planning, and implementation of a multiyear, state-wide marketing and advertising plan that includes television and radio advertisements showcasing Connecticut-made products and the advantages they offer.

Seek to relocate overseas jobs to Connecticut by allowing the state Department of Economic and Community Development to give a preference under the “First Five Plus” program to companies that will relocate jobs from overseas to Connecticut; assistance includes loans, tax incentives and other forms of economic development that create jobs and invest capital within a certain timeframe.

According to the State Labor Department, Connecticut’s private sector has now recovered 46,600, or 42.3%, of the private jobs lost in the recessionary downturn which officially lasted from March 2008 to February 2010.

Over the past year, the largest private-sector job gains have been in the education, health services, transportation, public utilities, and professional and business service sectors. The largest number of job cuts has been in the government sector, which lost 4,800 jobs in the past year.


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Police Arrest Christmas Eve Shooter

HARTFORD –Police arrested a Bloomfield man with the Dec. 24, 2010 murder of Tyrell Shaw, who died after being taken to St. Francis Hospital.
Joshua Cupe, 29, faces charges of murder, criminal possession of a firearm, criminal use of a firearm, carrying a pistol without a permit, unlawful discharge of a firearm and reckless endangerment, according to police report.

Cupe’s arraignment has yet to be determined, police said.

According to police,  Cupe allegedly shot 24-year-old Shaw in the torso at 4:36 p.m. on Christmas Eve on Edgewood Street.  Shaw was transported from the scene to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, where he died.

On Friday, police found Cupe hiding in a closet at 24 Elizabeth St. in Bloomfield. He was arrested on escape from an earlier custody charges.

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Police Arrest Three Teens on Wyllys Street

HARTFORD — Three teenagers were arrested for allegedly trying to steal three scooters.

Two 16-year olds from New Britain and Bloomfield were arrested, charged with third degree criminal trespass and released because of their age. The 16-year-old from New Britain was charged with carrying a pistol without a permit along with third degree criminal trespass. He was referred to Hartford Juvenile Court, police said.

The names and addresses of the two 16 year olds were not released because of their ages, police said.

The third suspect, Jack Rodriguez, 19, of 114 Vanderbilt St., West Hartford, was arrested and charged with third degree criminal trespass.

Hartford police said police responded Sunday at about 5: 30 p.m. when a resident called to say three teenagers were  in the backyard at 9 Wyllys St. attempting to cut the chain off three scooters.

Police said they found three teenagers trying to take three scooters.  Officers arrived and secured a 16 year old from New Britain,  a 16 year of from Bloomfield, and a 19-year old from West Hartford.

During a frisk of the 16 year old from New Britain, officers found a loaded Bryco .380 semi-automatic firearm, police said.

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Friend: Omar Thornton “Made Eight or Nine Complaints” About Racism

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

AREAWIDE — Before Omar Thornton allegedly shot eight people in a Manchester warehouse and turned the gun on himself Tuesday, he called his friend Latroy Dale last week. They spoke for two hours.

Dale is the friend who helped Thornton, 34, get that truck driver’s job at the Manchester-based Hartford Distributors, Inc. about two years ago. In 2000, both men entered driving school for their D & L license. When Dale dropped out of the program, Thornton continued on and received his license. When Thornton applied for the job, he already knew how to drive a truck, friends say.

“They had him in that warehouse for about a year and a half, talking about he was slow. They said he wasn’t ready,” James Dale Sr. said in front of his Bloomfield home. Dale Sr. said he spoke to his son Latroy, 30, yesterday. “Omar made about eight or nine complaints to those people…. Omar let it got to him, and he snapped.”

Dale Sr. also said his son is “all choked up” about Tuesday’s tragedy that left families mourning an “unspeakable loss” on both sides.

The Aug. 3 rampage at Hartford Distributors is the state’s deadliest workplace shooting since the Newington-based Connecticut Lottery Corporation shooting on March 6, 1998, when accountant Matthew Beck, 35, killed four lottery officials before committing suicide.

Thornton’s brother Edward Kinder, 38, theorized that something  pushed Thornton to kill those people and then kill himself.

“He’s been dealing with it for two to three years,” Kinder said before he entered his mother’s apartment building in East Hartford today, “They called him porch monkey…nigger…all kinds of names.”

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Family members, friends and causal acquaintances of Thornton are still in stupor after learning Thornton shot eight of his co-workers and reportedly committed suicide. They still don’t believe he shot himself. They still don’t believe he stole a case of beer. And they still have questions, they said.

“Why would he put up with that for so long and then stole a case of beer?  He doesn’t even drink,” said Hartford resident, Lou Daniels, 51.

Daniels is a store clerk at a gas station on Cottage Grove Road in Bloomfield. He said he saw Thornton about two months ago when he came in to grab a hot dog and a soda. Thornton, Daniels said, would make references to the prejudice on his job.

“I told him it was every where; some places are more overt than others,” Daniels said. “He was  such a low-key kind of a person. He was quiet. I think something drove him to that point.”

Teamsters Local 1035 officials said Thornton, a union member, was a disgruntled employee who was “cold as ice.” In an official statement released on Tuesday, they said Thornton filed no complaints about racism on the job. On Wednesday, however, a Teamsters’ spokesman said there was one complaint about a year ago and it was “taken care of right away.”

Also in a press conference on Wednesday, Hartford Distributor’s Marketing Director Brett Hollander said company supervisors caught on tape Thornton stealing beer and asked him to resign. According to Hollander and other company officials, Thornton agreed to resign. Soon after the 7: 00 a.m. disciplinary meeting, Thornton asked for a drink of water and then scuttled off to the kitchen area, where “he must have had a gun.” Minutes later, Thornton appeared and opened fire on President of Teamsters Local 1035 Bryan Cirigliano, 51. Cirigliano was at this meeting as Thornton’s union representative, Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 1035 Christopher Woos said in a statement. Other shootings followed. Company officials said there were about 70 employees at the beer warehouse that morning.

Other victims now dead are Doug Scruton, 56; Bill Ackerman, 51; Francis Fazio Jr., 57; Edwin Kennison, 49; Craig Pepin, 60; and Victor James, 60. Jerome Rosenstein, 77, was in serious condition Wednesday at Hartford Hospital after being wounded.

“It appeared that the first few were targeted,” said Lt. Chris Davis of the Manchester Police Department. “None of them are African Americans.”

Profiles of Victims

Police also said Thornton called his mother shortly after the shooting and said: “I shot the racist bastards.”

Thornton’s mother’s sister Gail Pierson flew up from South Carolina yesterday to “just be with her sister,” Nelle Holliday.

“She’s hurting, too,” Pierson said in a telephone interview. “She lost a son.”

Police Tapes About Shooting at Hartford Distributors

Hartford’s first black mayor and former president of the Greater Hartford branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said he also had questions about events that led up to the tragedy.

“Both allegations could be true. We don’t know. He’s dead. But I don’t think the young man would’ve made up those kinds of allegations. …He probably didn’t know he could turn to organizations to file his complaint.”

Milner expressed concern for the victims but said there were also other concerns.

“I’m more concerned when looking at the TV and seeing the employees coming out. I didn’t see one minority,” Milner said. “I know Steve Hollander is a good and fair person, but that doesn’t have anything to do with it…. I think it’s worthwhile looking into how many minority co-workers are at the company. “

Milner said Thornton probably didn’t know he could reach out to organizations such as a state agency or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where employees can file a charge of discrimination.

Carrie Saxon-Perry is a former mayor of Hartford and now the president of the local NAACP chapter. She said she’s been fielding calls from many asking her what the NAACP will do.

“We will be looking into it and asking questions,” Perry said. “Right now we don’t have anything to say. We need to know what happened.”

Dale Sr. said people keep calling his son, too, and they keep asking him what happened.

“Why do they keep asking that? Everybody who is black knows what happened,” he said, especially when we found out Omar was the only black one there.”

But Teamsters Local officials disputed that claim.

“During the time that Thornton was represented by Local 1035, he reported no concerns about racial discrimination to the union,” Roos said in an official statement Aug. 3.

Lt. Davis said today there is no written incident report yet because police are still investigating.

Related Stories:

MASS MURDER: At least 9 dead in shooting at Hartford Distributors in Manchester

Workplace Violence: Remembering the CT Lottery Headquarters Shooting

Gunman Kills 12, Wounds 31 at Fort Hood

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