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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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Author of ‘Infectious’ Book to Give Talk

HARTFORD —  Achim Nowak, author of Infectious and an internationally recognized authority on executive presence and infectious personal connections, will be in town to kick-off Leadership Greater Hartford’s  fourth Lessons in Leadership series on Friday morning February 28, 7:30 a.m., in the Crystal Room at the University of Saint Joseph.  A book signing will follow the breakfast discussion.

 Lessons in Leadership is a book discussion series for business and nonprofit leaders interested in continuing their leadership understanding and skill development.  Because it is important for leaders to take time to grow personally for the benefit of those they serve, Lessons in Leadership fosters a sense of common purpose where leaders from different disciplines can meet, share their diverse perspectives, and identify mutual interests.

In an age where communications have been reduced to efficient sound bites, the series will explore Nowak’s four key levels of connection that will help professionals connect deeply with others in order to become “Infectious” leaders.

Registration for the February 28 Kick-Off and book signing is on a first come, first served basis.

The cost is $15 per session.  Registration is free for Leadership Greater Hartford members, BlumShapiro employees, University of Saint Joseph faculty and staff, and HYPE members. Visit for scheduling and more detailed information.


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Malloy Appoints Disability Advocate

HARTFORD —   Governor Dannel P. Malloy  on Tuesday appointed Jonathan Slifka of West Hartford to a newly-created cabinet-level position within his administration, specifically advocating on behalf of the state’s disability community.

In the role of Governor’s Liaison to the Disability Community, Slifka will be responsible for increasing outreach on behalf of the Governor and executive branch agencies to people with disabilities in order to provide policy and practical recommendations for advocacy, employment, programs and services, as well as serving as an ombudsperson.

“I’m excited to have Jonathan on my team, and look forward to working with him to improve how the disability community interacts with both state government and nonprofit providers,” Malloy said.

slifkaSlifka most recently served at Goodwin College in East Hartford, where he worked on behalf of the admissions department.  He serves on a number of volunteer positions in his community, including as a commissioner on the West Hartford Advisory Commission for Persons with Disabilities; as a member on the Miracle League of Connecticut’s Board of Directors; and as a counselor and tennis coach with the Ivan Lendl Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp, where he teaches sports skills to campers with disabilities and serves as a mentor on numerous developmental and life-skill areas.

“It is truly an honor and a privilege to be chosen to serve in the Governor’s administration,” Slifka said.  “I am so proud to be able to go to work every day and advocate for all persons with disabilities across the state.”

Throughout his life, Slifka, who was born with spina bifida and is unable to walk, routinely broke barriers.  He was the first student with a disability mainstreamed through the West Hartford Public School System, the first athlete with a disability to play little league baseball in West Hartford, and the first athlete in a wheelchair to play on a high school tennis team in the state.  He was also the March of Dimes Poster Child from 1985 to 1988, which inspired his mother to start the wheelchair sports camp where Slifka currently serves as a mentor and coach.

In addition to serving as a liaison between the state and residents with disabilities, he will evaluate and recommend improvements in the way the state provides information and access for people with disabilities.  He will also develop, in consultation with the Governor and the Office of Policy and Management, an action plan with varying areas of focus.

Slifka will begin the position on Jan. 10.

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Go Ahead. It’s the New Year So Indulge Yourself at Flemings

HARTFORD — You’ve worked hard all year in 2013. So if you’re looking for a way to indulge yourself  in the New Year, you might want to stop by Fleming’s Steak and Bar Restaurant to do just that. The dining experience is worth it.

The ambiance at Flemings is only part of the course. And this New Years day, it’s only fitting to celebrate you with the succulent steak and seafood from Fleming’s.

Nationally acclaimed Fleming’s offers the best in steakhouse dining – Prime meats and chops, fresh fish and poultry, generous salads and side orders — with a unique wine list known as the Fleming’s 100®, which features more than 100 wines served by the glass.

Recommended: The prime steak rib special for New Year’s Eve or the 8-0z filet mignon with King Crab meat and caviar—all a part of Fleming’s “Three Ways to Celebrate.” The enticing three-course New Year’s Eve menu is for $69.96 per person.

And it’s worth every penny for the foodie in you. Enjoy.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

44 S Main St, West Hartford, CT 06107

Phone:(860) 676-9463

Photo Courtesy of Fleming's

Photo Courtesy of Fleming’s


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Festival to Raise Funds for Haiti

WEST HARTFORD — Tis the season for giving.

And this season, the folks who organize the annual Holiday Craft Festival and Marketplace will raise funds to help  benefit Medical Aid to Haiti.

The festival and marketplace, now in its sixth year, will open Nov. 16 from 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m., and  Nov. 17, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. at the Church of St. Peter Claver, 47 Pleasant St., West Hartford.The event is open to the public; parking and admission are free.

This unique marketplace presents fifty fine artisans of handcrafted goods including pottery, metalwork, woodwork, jewelry, paper art, folk art, photography, painting, wreaths, dried flowers, soaps, and candles. Fiber arts (new, vintage, and “up-cycled”) include hand knits, weaving, felted wool, alpaca, quilting, tie-dye.

Clothing, tote bags, hand bags, scarves and accessories of all kinds. Local farm and gourmet food purveyors offer jams, jellies, hot- sauce, honey, cookies, candy, nuts and more.  Performances by acoustic guitarists and local youth musicians enliven each day.  Extras include live alpacas, professional chair-massage, Café, bake sale, and a teacup auction of handcrafted goods donated by each artisan.

Proceeds fund the mobile medical clinic of Medical Aid to Haiti, serving the health needs of Haitians in hard-to-reach areas of Port au Prince.  MATH’s mission is “Helping Haitians heal Haitians by providing needed resources for the care and treatment of their poor.”

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Connecticut Selects Teacher of the Year

WEST HARTFORD — A music teacher at William H. Hall High School in West Hartford is Connecticut’s 2014 Teacher of the Year.

John F. Mastroianni, a Southington resident and Hall High School director of bands, received the honor during a ceremony at his school on Tuesday, Oc. 8.  Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor made the announcement at an event that included Mastroianni’s family, local and state officials, and the school community.

Mastroianni was chosen from among four finalists, 15 semifinalists, and over 100 district-level Teachers of the Year.  A statewide council of former Teachers of the Year and representatives from educational organizations, businesses, and the community conducted the rigorous selection process, which includes on-site visits, candidate applications, interviews, and observations of teaching.

Richard C. Brown, vice president of the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Council, attended the on-site visits and stated, “John Mastroianni is an exceptional teacher.  After watching him with his students and interviewing parents, school staff, and students, the selection committee was in awe.  We knew he would be an outstanding representative for Connecticut’s teachers.”

Mastroianni and district Teachers of the Year will be formally honored at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford on Nov. 19.

Mastroianni is a widely accomplished and critically acclaimed saxophonist, composer, and arranger.  He has performed, toured, or recorded with dozens of the musical greats of our time, as well as several symphony orchestras and on Broadway.  He also performs with his own quartet and leads his own 16-piece jazz orchestra for which he composes and arranges music.  He has three recordings as a bandleader—Cookin’ On All Burners (Stash), The Time Being (Jazz Alliance), and Live at the Silvermine (Jazzheads)—that have all earned him critical acclaim.

Mastroianni has taught at New York University, Albertus Magnus College, the University of Bridgeport, the New York State Summer School for the Arts, Bridgeport Central High School, and New Canaan High School. Besides being director of bands at Hall High School, he is also an adjunct jazz faculty member at the University of Connecticut and founded a summer jazz workshop for young artists.  In March 2004, the Connecticut Music Educators Association chose Mr. Mastroianni as the Secondary School Teacher of the Year.  Most recently, he was a quarterfinalist for a 2014 Music Educator Grammy Award.

Mastroianni earned a B.S. in music education and a B.M. in jazz studies from the University of Bridgeport, and an M.A. in jazz performance/composition from New York University.  He studied saxophone and composition with several premiere and award-winning jazz musicians.

Connecticut Education Association (CEA) President Sheila Cohen said, “We congratulate Mr. Mastroianni who exemplifies the highest standards of professionalism and commitment to young people.  We also see this year’s award to a music educator as recognition of the important role that the arts play in a well-rounded public education.”




Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year is selected from among approximately 50,000 public school teachers in the state and represents the profession in forums and advisory committees affecting education policy and public awareness of the successes that take place daily in schools, as well as the challenges they face.


“This distinction is a true testament to John Mastroianni’s skill and talent as an educator,” said State Senator Beth Bye (D-West Hartford).  “It is also a testament to a school district which—even in the midst of budget tightening—has remained committed to its arts programming so that our students can continue to benefit from incredible educators like John.”


“As director of bands at Hall High School, John Mastroianni has truly distinguished himself.  He has stepped into a role that had been filled by great teachers and leaders for decades – and quickly proceeded to take Hall’s band programs to new heights,” said State Representative Andrew Fleischmann (D-18), House chairman of the Education Committee.  “He inspires his students, his colleagues, and people throughout our community with his love of teaching, music, and people.”


“John Mastroianni has done an outstanding job carrying on and extending the proud music tradition of Hall High School,” said State Representative Brian Becker (D-19).  “The internationally renowned jazz band has flourished under his direction.  John’s students are lucky to have him.”


As Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year, Mr. Mastroianni will travel to Washington, D.C., in the spring to meet with President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan.  Mr. Mastroianni also now becomes Connecticut’s representative for National Teacher of the Year, whom the president will select in late March and honor in April 2014.


Mr. Mastroianni succeeds 2013 Connecticut Teacher of the Year Blaise Messinger, a fifth-grade teacher at Cromwell’s Woodside Intermediate School, who concludes his term as Teacher of the Year on December 31.



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Greater Hartford Resident Elected to Conservancy

HARTFORD — A West Hartford woman was recently elected to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Board.

Beth Critton first learned about the Appalachian Trail when she mailed resupply packages to her son, Bryan, a 1997 2000-miler. She began her own A.T. odyssey in 2004 and has hiked over 1800 miles of the A.T. since then.  A life member of the ATC, Critton joined the stewardship council in 2011, becoming council chair and a board member in July 2013.

Critton is a land use and environmental attorney at Shipman & Goodwin LLP in Hartford. In 2011, she was recognized by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association as an outstanding advocate for outdoor recreation. Critton is past chair of the Connecticut Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club, a life member of the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association, charter and current member of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society, serves on the board of the Connecticut Society of Women Environmental Professionals, and is trained as a plant conservation volunteer for the New England Wild Flower Society.

The board of directors is made up of 15 elected volunteers who are elected to serve two-year terms.

“The board of directors plays a vital role in shaping the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Appalachian Trail by approving policies that govern the Trail and ensuring that the organization has the resources it needs to complete its mission,” stated Steve Paradis, acting executive director of the ATC.

The board is responsible for communicating the mission and the purpose of the ATC. They establish and maintain relationships with the stewardship council, clubs, partners, members, and other stakeholders.  While enhancing the public standing of the ATC, they also ensure legal and ethical integrity and fiscal accountability.

Also elected to the board were new members Edward R. Guyot, Carrie Rodriguez-Tweeten, Samuel J. Sarofeen, Nathaniel Stoddard, and Greg Winchester.  Elizabeth Pierce Thompson of Ridgefield CT, Leonard Bernstein, Richard J. Daileader, Marcia Fairweather, Arthur Foley, Mary Higley, Terry Lierman, Sandra L. Marra, and Clark Wright Jr. are all returning board members.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information please visit

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Ladies Only Sports Competition Coming to Greater Hartford

WEST HARTFORD – One hundred and seventy women from across the country will converge at host Crossfit Relentless on Aug. 17 for the playfully named competition No Baby, Leave the Socks On.

First held in the summer of 2011 in CT, this competition now has attracted over 1,300 athletes, not only from the host gym, or “box,” but nationwide. This exact competition is now replicated at other boxes in states such as Texas, Indiana, Illinois, New Hampshire, New York… and many more.

The competition at Crossfit Relentless will start at 9 a.m. and be open to public spectators.

nobabycompetition-hartfordCFR officials say No Baby, Leave the Socks On is designed to change the perception of women’s fitness to help foster a more positive self-image – where athleticism and capability trump body weight – and fosters the idea that “strong is the new skinny.”

The event is designed to be a ton of fun, with car pulls, deadlift ladders and atlas stones. The one requirement for the competitors is that they must wear weightlifting socks, hence the name of the competition.

Ladies come dressed to impress with bright colors, matching outfits and socks of all kinds. While they have fun accessorizing, they come to throw down – displaying athleticism and strength.

CrossFit is taking the fitness world by storm and has already been named one of the newest, most effective ways to get fit, earning attention worldwide. A workout program that incorporates both weightlifting and cardiovascular exercises, CrossFit aims to bring together group workouts and personal goals to create a family-like atmosphere.

Merle McKenzie and Glenn Perra founded CrossFit Relentless Strength and Conditioning in 2009. They describe CrossFit Relentless as a school of human movement dedicated to helping individuals achieve an elite level of physical performance.

CrossFit training is done as a group training session where camaraderie and a sense of humor can go a long way. Athletes attend hour-long sessions three to six times a week during which every athlete is coached by a CrossFit-certified trainer to complete the workout of the day, or WOD.

For those interested in experiencing CrossFit, the Socks competition would be a great introduction, officials say. Many members, coaches and owners will be present.

No Baby, Leave the Socks On takes place Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at CrossFit Relentless, 635 New Park Ave., West Hartford, Conn. 06107

To learn more about the girls competition, visit the official site,

Photos Courtesy of

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Free Acupuncture Day For the Holidays

WINDSOR — Many Rivers Community Acupuncture, an affordable acupuncture clinic will host a Free Acupuncture Day on Nov. 30 in Windsor.

Free acupuncture treatments will be provided for all new patients between 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Acupuncture is helpful around the holidays to reduce stress and boost the immune system.  A recent study showed that acupuncture works on the molecular level to significantly reduce levels of a protein linked to chronic stress.  In fact, experts say acupuncture is so relaxing that most people fall asleep during their treatment.

Acupuncture can also be effective for all kinds of pain, including back pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, knee pain, and heel pain.  In addition, acupuncture can relieve seasonal allergies, digestive problems, and gynecological disorders.

Many Rivers is part of the community acupuncture movement, which is working to make health care affordable and accessible in the United States.  The clinic is located in Windsor center.

Treatments are available on a sliding scale from $15 – $35, plus a one- time $10 paperwork fee for new patients.  Many Rivers will be collecting donations to support the Red Cross and the Hurricane Sandy relief effort at the Free Acupuncture Day.

For more information, call (860) 683-0011 or go to

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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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