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Heroes for Hire Job and Career Fair Set for April

WETHERSFIELD —  The Connecticut Department of Labor’s Heroes 4 Hire Job and Career Fair – the largest and best-attended of its kind in New England – returns to the Rentschler Field Ballroom in East Hartford on April 27.


Sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Labor, the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Travelers, CBS Radio, and the local chamber of commerce. The veteran-focused event will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.


”More than 75 exhibitors are participating in this year’s Heroes 4 Hire career fair, including employers, service providers and educational institutions,” notes Terry Brennan, Director of the Connecticut Department of Labor’s Office of Veterans’ Workforce Development. “Certified Professional Résumé Writers from the Labor Department will also be on-site, offering advice on best ways to showcase résumés to prospective employers. DOL staff will also be available to talk to attendees and employers about employment services and related programs.”


“Veterans bring a strong sense of teamwork, organization and leadership skills to the workplace,” notes Brennan. “An accelerated learning curve allows veterans to enter the workforce with an advantage, plus they offer transferable skills that have been proven in real-life situations. Veterans have also demonstrated efficient performance under pressure and understand the demands of tight schedules and limited resources – providing a valuable perspective to potential employers.“


Additional details, including directions to the event, the list of participating companies and organizations, and an online registration form for employers wishing to participate can be found on the Connecticut Department of Labor’s career fair website at


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Hartford Officials Host Public Safety Law Debate

HARTFORD — Hartford officials hosted a Community Forum on the Second Chance Society Bill to discuss the impact of the new public safety law.

Members of the public and representatives from local community groups were in attendance to learn more about the new initiative and have their questions answered by State Rep. Matt Ritter’s State Sen. Eric Coleman (D-Bloomfield) and others.

Connecticut Department of Corrections Commissioner Scott Semple and Undersecretary of Criminal Justice and Policy Planning Mike Lawlor served as panelists at the forum and discussed the predicted impact of the Second Chance Society Law.

“The Second Chance Society initiative will lower incarceration rates for non-violent crimes so that minor offenses don’t carry disproportionate penalties,”  Coleman said. “This is a new policy that’s being  instituted in states across America,  and I think the more the public learns about it, the more questions that are asked and answered about it, the greater the support will be.”

For years, Connecticut’s drug policies have swelled its prisons with nonviolent drug offenders who struggle to reintegrate into society upon release. A “Second Chance Society” will reverse these policies largely by reducing jail time for such offenders.

“Gov.  Malloy’s goal is to reduce crime by focusing on violent, high risk offenders.  The Second Chance Society reforms will help substance abusers succeed in recovery, find housing and employment and stay out of jail.  The barriers to employment and housing that many ex-offenders face will be eliminated for those who have turned their lives around,” remarked Undersecretary Lawlor.

“It is promising to see community engagement with such an important topic on the table. The Connecticut Department of Correction will continue to enhance our Reentry efforts to compliment  Malloy’s Second Chance Society,” said Commissioner Scott Semple.




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State Offers Aid to Companies for Employment

WETHERSFIELD – Southwest Connecticut employers are invited to learn more about the Subsidized Training and Employment and Training Program (Step Up) as well as a variety of other hiring and tax incentives designed to benefit their businesses by attending a May 29 conference being held in the Westport Inn Ballroom.

Officials said that the conference aims to target companies of any size that can learn about the opportunities and benefits available to their business, including the wage reimbursement program through Step Up, low interest financing under the Small Business Express Program, assistance on recruitment and business plan development, and tax incentives for equipment upgrades and job creation initiatives.”

Taking place from 8 to 10:30 a.m., the event, begins with networking and light refreshments at 7 a.m. Employers can pre-register online for the conference by or more information can be obtained from Dolores Ryan, BridgeportAmerican Job Center by contacting her at or (203) 455-2602.

Additional conferences, also to be held from 8 to 10:30 a.m., will be offered on the following dates:

  • June 3, Progress Square Industrial Park, 32 Valley Street, Bristol
  • June 5, Western Connecticut State University, Westside Ballroom, 43 Lake Avenue Extension, Danbury
  • June 11, Goodwin College, Main Campus – Auditorium, 1 Riverside Drive, East Hartford
  • June 12, University of Connecticut’s Torrington campus, 855 University Drive, Torrington
  • June 19, Simsbury High School Auditorium, 34 Farms Village Road, Simsbury
  • June 24, Three Rivers Community College, 574 New London Turnpike, Norwich
  • A future conference is also being planned for the town of Meriden.


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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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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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Hartford School To Hold Model UN Session

HARTFORD — About 800 students from 28 high schools throughout Connecticut are expected to convene at Hartford Public High School on Feb. 11 through 12 to participate in the annual Model United Nations Plenary Session.

The Model U.N., sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Connecticut, is  simulated meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in which student teams, each representing a member nation, meet to discuss pressing issues and how to  resolve those issues.

Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Steven J. Adamowski said the model conference “is one of the best ways of widening our students’ perspective on the world.”

Not all countries are represented, however. Students will represent selected countries from each hemisphere.

In addition, they will research a country, take on roles as diplomats of that country, investigate international issues, debate within parliamentary rules and procedures, consult and then develop solutions to world problems.

Among Hartford public schools, for example, a team from the Law and Government Academy will represent the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a Bulkeley High School team will represent Vietnam and teams from the University High School of Science and Engineering will represent Nigeria and Djibouti.

Preparations for the Model U.N. begin in late September, when representatives from the participating schools meet to choose the topics that could be discussed, school officials said.

A variety of topics were designated to one of four committees: the political committee, the economic committee, the environmental committee and the humanitarian committee. Student delegates in each committee then choose a topic that will engender debate and foster increased understanding of each committee focus.

Once the committees selected their topics, the school teams picked the countries they wanted to represent by lot and began researching their country’s geography, history, economy and political structure as well as its position on issues.

This year, the political committee will debate nuclear proliferation; the economic committee will discuss worldwide economic stability; the environmental committee will discuss ocean pollution, urban growth and environmental sustainability; and the humanitarian committee will talk about refugee camps in Darfur, Somalia, and Congo.

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Hartford Police Arrest Robbery Suspects

HARTFORD — City police arrested three men for allegedly robbing Bo Jewelry Store on Sisson Avenue.

The three men were Marcelino Santana, 27, of  50 Ruby Dr. in Manchester, Cecil Grant , 18, of 502 Mary Sheppard’s Pl. in Hartford and Devon Kempson, 24, of 502 Mary Sheppard’s Pl., also in Hartford.

Santana and Grant were charged with conspiracy to commit first degree robbery, police said. And Kempson was arrested and charged with first degree robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, criminal use of a firearm and carrying a pistol without a permit.

Marcileno Santana

Cecil Grant

Police had this story:

On Dec. 30, at  11:26 am, officers responded to 257 Sisson Ave., the Bo’s Jewelry Store, on a report of an armed robbery after learning that masked and gloved suspects had entered the store.

According to police report, one suspect displayed a firearm. The suspects then robbed the store of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and then fled. None of the persons inside the store were seriously physically injured.

Officers soon gathered intelligence about the kind of  suspects’s get away car and then traced Santana to his home in Manchester.

Police said they found some of the stolen jewelry in Santana’s home. After obtaining a consent to search the home, detectives recovered additional stolen jewelry and a Remington Rifle.  Santana was secured and taken into custody without incident.

On Dec. 20, Hartford Police Patrol Officers Rob Fogg and Clide Patino observed Cecil Grant and his vehicle in the area of Albany Avenue and Main Street and conducted a motor vehicle stop. Police took Grant into custody. Some of the stolen jewelry was also located inside this vehicle, police said.

Later that day, police also found Kempson and his vehicle, which was hidden in the parking lot of 1213 Main Street.  He was secured and taken into custody.

Devon Kempson

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Food Pantry Collects Items For “Warmer Days”

MANCHESTER — Between Dec. 17 and Jan. 14, the Robert H. Lord Company is collecting non-perishable food items for FOODSHARE and MACC, a local food pantry and shelter.

They are also collecting for the “WarmerDays” winter outwear drive clean & gently used hats, mittens, gloves, coats, and snow pants will be donated to a local area shelter.

All donated items may be dropped off at the Robert H. Lord Company, 220 Chapel Road, Manchester, Conn. Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Contact us at RHL for more information, or for more opportunities to get involved.

Robert H. Lord Company

220 Chapel Road
Manchester, CT 06042
(P) 860-645-8700

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In His Own Words : “They Treated Me Bad From The Start”

HARTFORD — “I took it into my own hands,” Omar Thornton says calmly as he explains to a 911 dispatcher the motive for shooting eight co-workers at Hartford Distributors Inc.

Thornton’s brother Edward Kinder said yesterday that Omar had been complaining all along and “they did nothing” about his complaints.

On Aug. 3, Thornton took the matter “into my own hands.”

As news reports hit internet sites, newspapers and television screens, many began to doubt the family as they told thier side of the story.

Now a tape recorder of Thornton’s call to emergency services is available for all to hear, said family members.

“They were racist. They had it coming,” said one relative.

Thornton’s friends and family have been saying he had been complaining to them about the racial harrassment on the job since he began about two years ago.

Hartford Distributor officials had denied those claims and said there were no complaints of racial harrassment.

Thornton’s mother Nellie Holliday has yet to speak to the press. Her sister, Gail Pierson, said today via telephone that Holliday and family are mourning the death of her son and cannot speak at this time.

In his own words, Thornton explains the reason for his shooting spree, one of the deadliest in the state and the nation.

The 9-1-1 call was sligthly more than than four minutes, chilling words of the 34-year-old truck driver who unloaded his weapon, left eight dead and others wounded.

Afterwards, Thornton dials 9-1-1.

“This is Omar Thornton, the shooter in Manchester.”

“Yes, where are you, sir?” Connecticut state trooper on the other end of the emergency call replied.

“I’m in the building,” Thornton says. “Uh, you probably want to know the reason why I shot this place up. This place here is a racist place. They treat me bad over here. They treat all the other black people bad over here.”

Moments later before hanging up he says: “tell my people that I love them and I gotta go now.”


Listen  audio below:

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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.”

Watch Video

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

Posted in Bloomfield, Business, East Hartford, Featured, Hartford, Health, Manchester, Nation/World, NeighborhoodComments (3)

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