Archive | February, 2014

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Heavy Snow Expected in Greater Hartford All Day Thursday


By Bill Sarno, Associate Editor

HARTFORD – State, city and local school officials have enacted an array of strategies by Wednesday afternoon to deal with  the severe weather expected to dump several inches of snow, sleet and freezing rain on the area Thursday.

State offices will be opening late and Hartford schools and the district office not at all. Hartford city offices will be closed except for emergency personnel.

Statewide, tandem trucks have to get  off secondary and primary roads by 4 a.m. under a ban instituted by Governor Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday evening.

The state’s Emergency Operations Center will be activated at 6 a.m.

However, Malloy has ordered a delayed opening for state offices until 10 a.m for all nonessential state employees. “I am going to convene an early morning call with emergency management officials tomorrow and, at that point, determine if additional delays or possibly a full closure are necessary,” Malloy said.

Mayor Pedro Segarra urged  all Hartford residents to stay home if at all possible Thursaday.  “Everyone’s cooperation will increase safety and make it easier for DPW and emergency responders to do their jobs,” he said.

The parking ban started 8 p.m. Wednesday night and will run until further notice.

The city’s Emergency Operating Center will be open throughout the ban to monitor the storm, and the Hartford Fire Department will have increased staff on hand, according to the city press release

On Tuesday, Segarra encouraged residents to plan ahead of time for the bad weather and the parking ban that is expected.

“This will be our fifth major snow storm of the season” said Mayor Segarra. “I urge residents to make plans to move their cars for the parking ban and take all necessary precautions before the storm hits.”

The National Weather Service said that the snow which will start early in day will start mixing with sleet by 4 p.m. and they add freezing rain by 5 p.m.  With temperatures falling from to mid 30s to below freesing, the mixed precipitation is expected to change to all snow 2 a.m. Friday.  During the day the sky would shift from partly cloudy to sunny with the temperature reaching 38 degrees

Hartford Public Schools announced Wednesday it will make a decision early Friday about opening schools that day.

During a snow emergency parking ban, all on-street parking is prohibited throughout Hartford. Residents without access to off-street parking should have moved their vehicles to one of the free parking areas before the start of the parking ban:

  • 2 Holcomb Street Lot
  • Keney Park Entrance Lot-Ridgefield Street
  • KDA Center Lot-Naugatuck Street
  • Pope Park Center Lot-Park Terrace
  • Metzner Center Lot-Franklin Avenue
  • Colt Park Lot-Wawarme Avenue
  • Elizabeth Park lots
  • Morgan Street Garage-155 Morgan Street (over 1,500 spaces available)
  • All Hartford Schools parking lots

Anyone in need of shelter may call 211. For the duration of any winter storms the following shelters will be open 24 hours:

McKinney Shelter: 34 Huyshope Ave, (860) 722-6922

Immaculate Conception Shelter: 560 Park St, (860) 724-4823

South Park Inn:  75 Main St, (860) 724-0071

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Business Start Up Resources Now Online


HARTFORD — Secretary of the State Denise Merrill recently launched an online Business Startup Tool designed to help entrepreneurs more quickly register new businesses and access state and federal agencies needed for licensing, labor and tax regulations.

The online Business Startup Tool also connects business owners with resources to help with business planning and financing. It can be easily accessed online through the Secretary of the State website here.

“As our economy continues to recover, every one of us in government must do everything we can to help businesses start, succeed, and create jobs,” Merrill said.  “My hope is that this online tool can help entrepreneurs navigate their interactions with the multiple state and federal agencies they may need to launch their business ventures.”

The Secretary of the State’s online business startup tool lists direct links to: the Connecticut Departments of: Consumer Protection, Energy and Environmental Protection, Labor, Revenue Services, and the Connecticut Licensing Information Center. The tool also connects entrepreneurs to the federal Small Business Administration, Internal Revenue Service, and the federal Department of Commerce Patent and Trademark Office. In addition to regulatory agencies, the online Business Startup Tool also provides links to information on public and private sector business financing as well as business planning assistance.

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Q&A: Common Core a ‘Response’ to Growing Classroom Diversity


New America Media, Question & Answer By George White
Editor’s Note:  Connecticut, like Georgia and 43 other states,  will begin or has begun implementing the new Common Core State Standards for English-language arts and math. The new standards are designed to revamp the way schools instruct and assess students, placing greater emphasis on critical thinking, analysis, real-world applications and problem solving. There are questions, however, about whether the new standards will help close or widen the achievement gap for African American children. Connecticut could learn from Georgia State University professor Julie Washington,  a leading expert on black student literacy and serves on a Common Core advisory panel for Scholastic Inc., which produces  books for school districts. She says the new standards are a reflection of the country’s growing diversity, and that they will help raise expectations for all students. She spoke with NAM’s George White.What is Common Core and what should the black community know about these new standards?Common Core is a set of a teaching standards agreed to by most states. Some states need Common Core because they don’t have statewide standards. Georgia has statewide standards but we all want to see improvement in academic outcomes in our state and Common Core will help us achieve that because the Common Core curricula are rigorous and the classroom expectations are high.

In many ways, Common Core is a response to the increasing diversity in the country. Students are bringing a lot of different cultural experiences and differences to the classroom. The new standards – if they are adhered to – should benefit African-American children and all other students because classroom expectations will be raised and more transparent.

Why were the standards adopted? 

Common Core is being adopted because there is so much [state-to-state] variation in student performance, in teaching quality and in academic outcomes. Some of the disparities are related to teaching quality and some are related to curriculum content and different academic expectations.

Common Core is important for Georgia because the state has consistently ranked among the bottom ten states in academic performance. Georgia can be better than that! We want to be certain that when a child is educated in Georgia and moves away, parents will find that our curricular content and expectations are consistent with their new home state.

What will the changes in English language arts instruction mean for black student performance? 

The greatest disparity between white and black students has been in classes that rely on reading ability. There is a real learning curve because many low-income African-American students speak a cultural dialect that has features that differ from those that the school expects. The situation is similar to students who are learning English as a second language. This is not true for all African-American students but for those from impoverished backgrounds, this is often a concern.

In reading, 84 percent of African-American kids are at a basic level or below, and only 16 percent are proficient. Common Core will help address this problem because some of the language differences – for example, subject-verb agreement – are addressed in the standards. This is important because if a student uses a dialect and doesn’t learn to switch to the linguistic code of the classroom by the end of first grade, reading growth slows down. Students who make the shift from community language to standard English by second grade can usually keep pace.

How is this connected to your work with the Learning Disabilities Innovation Research Hub?

My colleagues (Dr. Mark Seidenberg from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr. Nicole Patton-Terry from Georgia State University) and I entered a 2012 competition for a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Our proposal focused on African-American kids and learning disabilities. African American children are overrepresented in special education generally, but have been underrepresented as recipients of learning disability assistance, because if your reading problem is believed to be based on linguistic difference, cultural difference or poverty, you don’t qualify as learning disabled.

Our goal is to figure out which students are doing well, which students have true learning disabilities and which students have reading problems due to issues related to poverty. Working in partnership with Atlanta Public Schools, we are involved in five elementary schools, where we are testing the reading, writing, language and cognitive skills of 750 students. The parents of these students agreed to the testing. When the testing studies are done, the next step is intervention to address the disabilities.

We have about 50 Georgia State students who are involved with the testing and also serve as volunteers who provide classroom assistance requested by teachers. For example, the volunteers might read to students or provide tutoring at a teachers’ request.

What are your thoughts on the parental factor in black academic achievement? 

Parental involvement has a demonstrated impact on academic achievement. Parents need to be informed about these new standards. I don’t know that the burden of parent involvement is any greater under Common Core because parental involvement is always important.

It’s about shared expectations. It’s important for parents to understand their school’s academic expectations so that they can support those standards at home. Often, low-income African-American parents don’t understand their power to insist on quality of education. Parents need to make their high expectations known to the school.

How do you respond to those who say Common Core is an example of government overreach in standardizing education? 

I think they are not fully informed. The federal government had nothing to do with this. Common Core is a states initiative coordinated by governors and the heads of state education departments. In this partisan environment, there are some who believe that everything that comes from Washington is bad. But this has nothing to do with federal government.

Overall, will the implementation of Common Core help close the achievement gap?

Theoretically, if we have high standards for everyone and adequate professional development for teachers, I believe Common Core will contribute to narrowing the achievement gap; but it will not eliminate it. It is not realistic to expect the Common Core to close a gap that is present at the time that kids enter schools.

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Coalition Pushes for Public Retirement Option


HARTFORD — At a press conference at the Legislative Office Building on Tuesday, a newly formed coalition of labor, retiree and women’s organizations launched a campaign to establish a statewide public retirement plan.

The Retirement for All-CT coalition is seeking legislative action to recreate a retirement option that would provide both Connecticut employers and employees with a low-risk retirement income program as an alternative to plans offered through the insurance industry. The benefit to employers is that they would not be fiduciaries or take on any liability, organizers said.

“Too many CT residents are left wondering what the future holds for them, not knowing whether or not they will ever be able to retire,” said Bette Marafino, President of the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans. “President Obama took an important step by creating a new myRA plan at the federal level, but we need to do more to ensure people from every walk of life have the ability to save for their future. It’s time for Connecticut to create a public retirement plan that private-sector employers can offer to their employees.”

The coalition supports the Retirement for All bill that Sen. Martin Looney introduced last year.

In its press release, campaign organizers cite studies that indicate approximately 740,000 Connecticut residents are not participating in an employer-provided retirement program and that nationally 46 percent of Black workers and 62 percent of Latino workers lack access to a workplace retirement plan, compared with 38 percent of whites.

Angel Sierra, President of The Spanish American Merchants Association, said Hispanics lack peace of mind about their future because they are the ones most impacted by lack of access to a retirement plans.

“By the numbers, Hispanic workers are the most insecure in their retirement right now, with 69% of our working age families lacking access to a retirement savings plan at work,” Sierra said. “As small businesses operating in our community, we want to be able to provide our employees with peace of mind about their future. That’s why SAMA is proud to stand support this important bill.”

The Coalitition includes the Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans, Council 4 AFSCME, United Auto Workers, Connecticut AFL-CIO, Connecticut Working Families, SEIU Connecticut, Spanish American  Merchants Association, CT National Organization for Women  and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.

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Hartford Awards After-School Grants


HARTFORD –  Some 1,100 Hartford students at 19 schools will have access to imaginative and diverse after-school enrichment activities this school year thanks to state funds awarded through the Hartford Public Schools.

Fifteen community-based organizations will receive a total of $375,000 through the 2013-2014 Extended School Hours Grant competition.

The individual grants range from $24,000 to the Ebony Horsewomen, an African-American equestrian group based at Keney Park, for a program at Noah Webster MicroSociety Magnet School to $10,000 for Hartford Stage, a local theater, to use at Great Path Academy.  Multi-school awards went to groups such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford, ConnectiKids and Youth United for Survival.

These programs are intended to provide opportunities for academic improvement, including instructional services to help students meet state and local performance standards, according to the school district’s announcement Friday. The activities also are expected to spark students’ imagination and promote self-discovery through the arts, recreation and fun, socialization, cultural enrichment, service learning, character education, and leadership development.

“ESH grants are an integral part of our district’s reform strategy,” said Superintendent  Christina M. Kishimoto.

Extended School Hours grants are funded by the Connecticut Department of  Education and awarded by Hartford Public Schools through a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process that began in October.

The grants cover from Jan. 2 through June 30. A review committee made the awards based on criteria approved by the state Commissioner of Education.

The following grants have been awarded:

Artists Collective, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, $24,000

Blue Hills Civic Association, Culinary Arts Academy at Weaver, $24,000

Boys & Girls Clubs, Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan School, $24,000;  Global Communications Academy, $20,000

Catholic Charities, Jumoke Academy at Milner, $15,000

COMPASS Youth Collective, Nalor/CCSU Leadership Academy, $24,000

ConnectiKids, M.D. Fox School, $20,000; West Middle-Middle Grades Academy, $24,000

Ebony Horsewomen, Noah Webster, $24,000

Hartford Stage, Great Path Academy, $10,000

Hispanic Health Council, Maria C. Colon Sanchez Elementary, $24,000

Organized Parents Make a Difference, Montessori Magnet School at Moylan, $18,500

Village for Families and Children, Alfred E. Burr Elementary, $15,000

Urban League of Greater Hartford, Bulkeley High School, HPHS-Law and Government, HPHS-Academy of Nursing and HPHS-Academy of Engineering, $24,000

YMCA, Simpson-Waverly School, $24,000

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Hartford’s Gentle Giant Walter “Doc” Hurley Dies


HARTFORD – Flags in the capital city have been lowered to half staff as state and city officials shared the community’s sadness and the family’s grief at the passing of local icon Walter “Doc” Hurley.

An highly respected figure in Hartford education and sports for nearly a half century, Hurley died Sunday. He was  91.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy  described Hurley as a  “Hartford legend” who dedicated his life to helping hundreds of students attend college through his signature scholarship program and annual high school basketball tournament.

Mayor Pedro E. Segarra said that by “taking the time to make a difference in the lives of individual youth, Hurley created a legacy that will last for generations.”

Hartford Superintendent of Schools Christina M. Kishimoto said that Hurley, who was a multi-sports standout at Weaver High School and later that school’s vice principal, was “a larger-than-life Hartford icon who embodied all that is good about Weaver High School.” She added, “‘Doc’ Hurley WAS Weaver High School.”

Hurley attended Virginia State University before returning home to teach, coach and, most notably, create the Doc Hurley Scholarship Foundation which provided scholarships as well as other assistance to scores of local high school graduates.

The foundation garnered support from business and community leaders, but its showcase and most visible fundraiser was the annual Doc Hurley Basketball Classic.

Each winter for many years, high school teams from Hartford and the surrounding towns participated. Games were held at the Weaver High School field house that bears Hurley’s name, Kishimoto said.

This year, the tournament did not take place due to financial issues, although efforts are under way to revive the foundation and the scholarships.

“There will never be another Doc Hurley,” said Council President Shawn Wooden, speaking on behalf of the Council. “While the funds he raised made a college education possible for hundreds of local youth, his contributions to the Hartford community go beyond what can be quantified in dollars and cents. He was an extraordinary athlete, educator, coach, mentor and role model to so many in our community. Our city will be forever grateful for his many contributions.”

Segarra on Monday requested that flags in the city be lowered to half-staff in his honor.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones,” the mayor said.

Carmon Funeral Homes is handling funeral arrangements.

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Consumer Alert: Fake Letter From Governor Malloy’s Office


Updated Monday, February 10, 2014 6:30 p.m.

HARTFORD — If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t, even if it may look like it has the state’s approval.

The latest scam that has state law enforcement and consumer protection officials raising a red flag is a letter, which bears what looks like the signature of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, informing recipients that in return for a cash payment to cover state taxes they will receive a $5 million Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes prize and a Mercedes Benz.

“Do not respond with a payment, or you will certainly lose your money,” warns Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein. This letter did not come from any state office, particularly that of the governor, he said.

There are certain telltale clues that should alert residents that this letter is bogus, notes a press release issued by Rubenstein, Attorney General George Jepsen and Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora B. Schirro.

“Loud alarm bells should go off ,” Rubinstein said, “any time you are told you won a contest that you did not enter, or that you are required to pay money before receiving a prize.”

Jepsen said residents should use caution when it comes to unsolicited phone calls, faxes, letters or emails.

In addition, Jepsen expressed concern that the governor and the position of authority that comes with his office was used in an attempt to appear legitimate. The scam letter even bears a replica of Malloy’s signature.

The fake letter was transmitted via “faxZero,” apparently a free facsimile transmittal service, but could also have been sent to residents via email and U.S. mail, said the press release. Use of a free delivery service to communicate important information such as prize winnings is one indication that the sender is not legitimate.

“Becoming familiar with the signs of a scam are important in protecting yourself from fraud, and our SmartConsumer.ct.gov website offers more information under “Scam Signals” to arm yourself with,” Rubenstein said.

 

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Judge Sentences Woman for Drug Ring


HARTFORD — A federal judge has sentenced a Hartford woman for running a drug ring from her apartment in the South End of Hartford.

Norma Torres, 56, of Hartford was sentenced to 20 months in prison for using her apartment as a “stash house” for a  heroin trafficking ring operating in her South End neighborhood.

Torres pleaded guilty on Nov. 14, 2013, to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford also sentenced Torres to three years of supervised release after prison, according to a press release from  Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut.

Torres was arrested on April 11, 2013 as part a multi-agency investigation headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force and the Hartford Police Department.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Torres allowed the drug dealers to store five to 15 stacks of heroin at her residence every day. A stack of heroin consists of 100 dose bags, with each bag containing approximately .025 grams of heroin.

Authorities allege that Angel Rosa, also known as “Little” and “Daddy, is a member of the Los Solidos street gang and headed the drug trafficking operation. Rosa’s cousin, Angel Rosa, also known as “Mo Betta” and “Fab,” supervised the daily operations, which distributed heroin and other narcotics in the Zion Street area.

The investigation lead to 21 individuals being charged with various federal offenses and resulted in seizure of narcotics, one firearm, approximately $230,000 in cash, eight vehicles and jewelry.

The Rosas each pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

 

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Open House Set for Hartford’s New Magnet School


HARTFORD — Hartford Public Schools officials are inviting the public to check out one of the city’s new magnet school: Capital Community College Academy.

The open house is scheduled for Feb.  19 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Room 206 at Capital Community College, which is at 950 Main St. in Hartford.

In partnership with the community college, the Academy will open this fall. The  Academy is designed for 11th and 12th graders only. Students will be able to earn their high school diploma and complete credits for an associate college degree at the same time — free of charge, official said.

Students of the academy will have access to all Capital Community College facilities, such as tutorial programs, technology, laboratories, and gymnasiums. The academy will also provide students with all of the academic, career, college and personal counseling services that they will need to enhance their learning experience, including one-on-one mentors.

For further information, contact Enid Rey, Director of School Choice, at enidrey@hartfordschools.org or call (860)695-8821.

 

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“We Belong Here Hartford” Event Celebrates Greater Hartford Immigrants


HARTFORD — Hartford’s immigrant community will have the spotlight this February as the Hartford Public Library invites the public to celebrate significant accomplishments of many in the immigrant community.

The celebration is scheduled after a Naturalization Ceremony for Greater Hartford residents who will become American citizens.

immigrationThe naturalization ceremony will begin a 5 p.m. and an artist reception will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Atrium on the ground floor at the Downtown Hartford library at 500 Main St.”

The celebration and opening reception for “We Belong Here Hartford,” an art exhibition celebrating the lives and artwork of professional immigrant artists and students from Hartford Public Schools. Originating from many different countries, these artists have found freedom and expression in the Greater Hartford community.

Their work is also featured in the new book, Freedom Dreams: We Belong Here Hartford, published by the Library, which will be unveiled during the reception.

Please join us for what promises to be a heartwarming and truly memorable evening!

Residents are asked to RSV. Call  (860) 695-6334 or email hnaficy@hplct.org.

In the event of a Library closure due to inclement weather, the event will be held Thursday, Feb. 27.

 

 

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