Archive | February, 2009

New Exhibition at the Wadsworth

HARTFORD Artwork from one of the most significant artistic and cultural movements of the twentieth century is now on view at the Wadsworth Atheneum in a new exhibition entitled, The Ballets Russes: Celebrating the Centennial, Feb. 19 – June 21.

Founded in Paris in 1909 by Serge Diaghilev, The Ballets Russes flourished until his death in 1929.  During this 20 year time span, the Ballets Russes achieved new heights of creativity by fusing together the efforts of the greatest composers, choreographers, dancers, designers and artists of the time – including Stravinsky, Bakst, Ballanchine, Nijinsky, Picasso, Miro, de Chirico, and Matisse.

The Ballets Russes: Celebrating the Centennial presents highlights from the Wadsworth Atheneum’s unrivalled collection of costume and set designs originally purchased in 1933 from Diaghilev’s last protégé Serge Lifar.  The exhibition also enlivens the company’ phenomenal history through the use of multi-media elements such as historic photographs and video footage from modern performances of the company’s most famous ballets.

 marquee-image1“What made the Ballets Russes so novel and exciting was the combination of its extravagantly beautiful productions and thrilling dancing,” said exhibition curator, Eric Zafran.  “Diaghilev never allowed the performances to be filmed, thus these vivid drawings and costumes are the closest we can get to having a feel for the original productions that so changed the course of modern dance.”

After Diaghilev’s death in 1929, the company disbanded. Many of the ballets have been lost and are only known from the drawings now on view at the Wadsworth.  While later companies were unable to capture the magic and creativity of the original Ballets Russes, a number of its works still continue to be preformed today such as, Petrushka, Spectre of the Rose, The Rite of Spring, Afternoon of a Faun, Apollo, and Prodigal Son.  

 The Ballets Russes: Celebrating the Centennial is part of a broader celebration taking place worldwide in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Ballets Russes.   For more information please visit

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Food Program Needs Vendors

HARTFORD —   The Department of Education is seeking local organizations to help feed 33,000 children in the state this summer.

Through the 2009 federal Summer Food Service Program for Children, state officials said about  33,000 Connecticut children will be able to receive free meals if the state can find qualified local sponsoring organizations.

Local Summer Food Service Program activities are coordinated by each state’s department of education. The Connecticut State Department of Education is now accepting applications for its 2009 summer program.

Last year, more than 31,364 eligible children were served at 443 locations statewide through 35 locally sponsored programs. If children are to receive a nutritious meal during the summer break, local organizations’ assistance is critical, according to  officials.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and serves as the summer extension of the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, which provide meals for students during the school year.

Local Summer Food Service Program sponsors may include public or private nonprofit school food authorities; state, local, municipal or county governments; residential public or private nonprofit summer camps; public or private nonprofit colleges or universities participating in the National Youth Sports Program; and private nonprofit organizations.

Any one of these groups or organizations that are able to verify that at least half the children in their potential service area qualify for free or reduced-price school meals may apply to be a sponsor. A child’s eligibility for free or reduced-price school meals or free summer meals is based on his or her parent’s income.

In 2008, only 23 percent of the children who met the program eligibility criteria were served. The Connecticut State Department of Education has identified several communities with neighborhoods eligible to host a Summer Food Service Program site.

Eligible neighborhoods are those where at least 50 percent or more of the family income levels in the area are at or below 185 percent of the poverty guidelines. Eligible organizations in these municipalities are encouraged to apply:  Bloomfield, East Haven, Enfield, Hamden, Naugatuck, Shelton and West Hartford.

All sponsors must agree to serve meals to any eligible child regardless of his or her race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Summer Food Service Program sponsors are reimbursed for each meal served, according to predetermined U.S. Department of Agriculture reimbursement rates.

Summer Food Service Program applications and further information are available through the State Department of Education’s Bureau of Health/Nutrition, Family Services and Adult Education, 25 Industrial Park Road, Middletown, CT 06457-1543.

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Springfield Man Faces Charges in Hartford

HARTFORD — A Springfield man who escaped Hartford Police custody while being treated at St. Francis Hospital is facing numerous charges including assault on and interfering with police and escape from custody, police said.

The suspect, Shawn Milner, 18, of 38 Williams Sands, Springfield, Massachusetts, had been in police custody since Feb. 19 following a motor vehicle stop wherein firearms and ammunition were located in his vehicle.

According to a press release, police conducted a motor vehicle stop of a black 2002 Kia Spectra in the vicinity of 132 Cleveland Avenue and Hampton Street at about 8:10 p.m., on Feb.  19 at as part of an investigation into an earlier assault with a firearm that occurred at 7:50 p.m. in the area of 88 Tower Avenue.

During the investigation officers recovered a black .22 caliber long rifle and two .22 caliber rounds from the motor vehicle.   Milner, who attempted to flee, was taken into custody on weapons, interfering with and disobeying police, motor vehicle violations and larceny charges.  Milner was transported to St. Francis Hospital for treatment of visible injuries and placed under police guard.

On Feb. 22nd, at approximately 10:15 p.m., the prisoner escaped from his room.  The Hospital was placed in lock down and a K-9 track was conducted by assisting West Hartford Police K-9 that led to the area of Sergeant Street where the suspect was taken into custody without incident.   Milner remains in police custody on a $1.025 million bond pending arraignment in Hartford Superior Court.


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Tyler Perry Scores Big

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail” locked up the top spot at the weekend box office with a $41 million debut.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Media By Numbers LLC:

1. “Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail,” Lionsgate, $41,030,947, 2,032 locations, $20,192 average, $41,030,947, one week.

2. “Coraline,” Focus, $11,432,124, 2,155 locations, $5,305 average, $53,766,843, three weeks.

3. “Taken,” Fox, $11,281,262, 3,102 locations, $3,637 average, $95,034,161, four weeks.

4. “He’s Just Not That Into You,” Warner Bros., $8,558,225, 3,050 locations, $2,806 average, $70,100,901, three weeks.

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Rell Proposal Axes Boards and Commissions

HARTFORD — In what some called an effort to streamline government, Gov. Jodi Rell’s budget proposal eliminates several boards and commissions that would affect women and minorities.

Rell last Tuesday signed Executive Order 24, which aims at cutting up to 90 state government task forces and commissions. This, the Rell administration said, will help shrink the state bureaucracy and reduce costs. The order is expected to take effect March 1, 2009.

“These task forces and commissions have served many useful purposes — but they were created in better fiscal times and now more than ever, Connecticut needs a smaller and less intrusive government,” Rell said in a recent press release.

“For decades, both the size of government and its role in our citizens’ lives have been expanding, she added. “By eliminating these agencies, we take the first steps toward my comprehensive goal of downsizing and streamlining state government.”
But several prominent commissions, including the African American Affairs Commission, the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women are saying not so fast.

Several proponents of these commissions are racheting up thier push to stop Rell’s proposed foreclosure on agencies, they say, have helped to provide critical services to marginalized communities.

“We have sounded the alarm to let the community know what’s going on,” said Werner Oyanadel, chief legislative analyst with the LPRAC. “Our communities are disproportionally affected by these proposed cuts.”

In additions to hearings held in previous weeks, LPRAC will be hosting a reception on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 5:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Legislative Building, Oyanadel said.
In her budget proposal for the 2010-2011 fiscal years, Rell has recommended the elimination of 70 state boards, commissions and committees and the merger or consolidation of an additional 20. Cost savings will be achieved by eliminating mileage reimbursements and expenses for members, by eliminating Connecticut’s participation on particular boards and by reducing the number of members on other boards or commissions.

“Tough economic times are when new ideas and approaches matter most,” the Rell said. “Many of these entities have functions that are already being addressed by other state agencies or they have completed the tasks they were established to address.”
Spokespeople for several commissions disagreed.

According to one commission’s website, their commission “Connecticut’s only statewide advocate for African Americans is being zeroed out.”
Governor Rell’s Executive Order will eliminate the Governor’s Committee on Physical Fitness, the Advisory Commission on American and Francophone Cultural Affairs, the Governor’s Competitiveness Council, the Governor’s Small Business Advisory Council, the Governor’s Identity Theft Advisory Board, and the Governor’s Early Childhood Research and Policy Council.

The Executive Order also asks the Department of Transportation to consider dissolving the Buckland Area Transportation Study Advisory Committee, given that the Committee has accomplished its intended purpose. In addition, it asks the Connecticut Economic Resource Center Board to consider dissolving or terminating its board.

A copy of Executive Order 24 is attached.

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Hartford Credit Remains Strong

HARTFORD — Mayor Eddie A. Perez  announced today that Hartford has received an “A” bond rating from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service.

According to the city’s press release, the rating remains substantially unchanged for the upcoming general obligation bond issue.

“This is significant, especially during the current economic downturn,” Perez said.

Perez went on to say that the  financial crisis “has put even more pressure on municipalities and the city has responded by identifyinig ” adverse economic elements in the current budget and has created strategies to mitigate the impact on the tax base and the fund balance.”

Christopher Wolf, Director of Finance adds, “The City presented a strong and comprehensive financial profile to the bond rating officials.  A good general fund financial position and the City’s fully funded pension fund were noted as positive elements of the bond rating.”

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Spike Lee Calls for Boycott of Post

HARTFORD —  Film director Spike Lee has demanded a boycott of the New York Post for running racist cartoon that referenced President Barack Obama.

On the Tom Joyner radio show today, Lee called on Black athletes to withheld interviews from the Post. The Post did a half bake apology Thursday. But critics said it was not enough.

The cartoon depicts two police officers, one with a smoking gun, near the chimp’s bullet-pierced body. “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill,” one officer says.

spike-leeThe cartoon was a take on an incident in Connecticut Monday in which an officer shot dead a chimpanzee that had seriously injured a woman, but it was the reference to Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan that the critics found offensive.

On Thursday hundreds of demonstrators were outside the paper’s headquarters, News Corp., shouted “Yes we can, shut it down.”

“They thought we were chimpanzees. They will find out we are lions,” said black civil rights leader Al Sharpton.

On Wednesday, Sharpton called the cartoon “troubling” in view of the US’ historic racist attacks comparing African Americans to monkeys.

The New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allen later printed a response defending the cartoon as “a clear parody of current news events.”

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Dodd Headlines Black History Program

HARTFORD —  Sen. Chris Dodd is expected to headline a black history program held by the Caribbean Trade Council of Hartford on Sunday.

The event, billed “an evening with Dodd” will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Monica Episcopal Church Community Center on Main Street. There will be cultural displays and activities reflecting Caribbean and African American history,  and lunch will be served.  Admission is free.

According the organizers, Dodd will speak about the goals of the first African-American President of the United States, Barack Obama.

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Rell unveils plans to close deficit

HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell today delivered a $1.1 billion deficit mitigation plan to the General Assembly that does not call for state employee layoffs or tax increase. It is  her third such plan since November.

Rell unveiled her plan to cut this fiscal year’s $1.1 billion budget deficit, which needs legislative approval.

According to the plan, it will use about $282 million of the state’s $1.4 billion Rainy Day Fund. It also assumes Connecticut will receive nearly $384 million this year from the federal economic stimilus package. The plan also calls for  reductions to health programs for the needy and elderly.

Rell is also proposing expanded hours of alcohol sales at the state’s two Indian casinos and an expanded bottle redemption law to raise more revenue.

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Crime Victim Indentified

HARTFORD — Hartford Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts today confirmed the identity of yesterday’s homicide victim.

The victim, Roberts said, is James Evans, 21, of 52 Congress St.

According to police report,  Hartford police officers at about 6:45 p.m. yesterday responded to a report of a party shot in the area of 38 Congress Street.  On arrival they located the victim, Evans, lying in front of 38 Congress  St.

Evans, who  was suffering from multiple guns shot wounds,  was transported to Hartford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:10 p.m., police said.

Roberts said that  “individuals in the neighborhood have come forward to assist us in this investigations”  and he encouraged others  to contact Hartford Crime Stoppers.”

Anonymous, confidential tips may be made by calling Hartford Crime Stoppers at 860-722-TIPS (8477).

Hartford Crime Stoppers is a community and business based organization that awards up to $1,000.00 for information from confidential sources that lead to the arrest of a suspect in a police investigation.

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