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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2012
BRIEFLY Southington offers emergency advice
SOUTHINGTON — A presentation on emergency preparedness with Officer Lowell DePalma of the Southington Police Department will betoday at Mulberry Gardens of Southington, 45 Meriden Ave. The program will begin with lunch at noon. For information, or to reserve a seat, call (860) 276-1020, or visit www.mulberrygardens.org.
Orchestra to start rehearsals in Bristol
BRISTOL — The Bristol String Orchestra will begin rehearsals on Thursday at Fiddlin’ Around Music, 248 Main St. New members, ranging in ages from 6 to seniors, who are skilled on violin, viola, cello and bass, will be accepted at this time. There is no charge to join the orchestra. A free concert is slated for 3 p.m. on June 2 at Liberty Bap-
tist Church. For more details, contact Bob or Louise Van Gorder at (860) 589-3724, or (860) 584-2868.
Black mayor group to meet today
WATERBURY — The Waterbury Black Mayor for the Day Committee will meet today at 6 p.m. at the Goodwill Lodge of Elks, 238 North Elm St.
The committee has asked all former black mayors for the day and committee members to attend to help with the special project. The public as well as interested organizations also are welcome to attend. The committee is accepting résumés from all interested in being the black mayor for the day. The deadline is Feb. 2. For information, call the Rev. Thomas Mallory at (203) 233-0782.
BLIGHT: Officials to put heat on landlords
Continued from 1B dience of about 150 at Walsh Elementary School on Tuesday night. Police Superintendent Michael Gugliotti said the blight team has unprecedented enforcement powers, combining the resources of various arms of the city. The police department has a dedicated blight force, led by Lt. Daniel Lauer. “They’re to do nothing else but address blight issues,” Gugliotti said. “That’s an important part of the mayor’s message.” During the last couple of weeks, the task force has removed debris and litter from the streets, issued more than 100 health code violations and charged scores of landlords with blight citations. Waterbury Development Corp. is working to secure funding for demolishing and remediating properties that are beyond repair. Landlords caught allowing blight to accumulate are often violating other city laws, too. Filing health and blight charges together streamlines court proceedings and makes the punishments more severe, city officials said. “It’s not uncommon for a someone with a blighted property to be cited multiple times in one day,” said Dr. Roseann Wright, director of the Waterbury Health Department. She said the department has started a new practice of sending news releases to newspapers in the towns where law-flouting landlords live, outing them to their local community. Wright said the health department has applied for 14 arrest warrants and plans to seek an additional 20 within the next couple of weeks. Tony Smith of Vine Street,
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Sherrill Whitelaw of Naugatuck says she has been living with mold since she moved in at the Oak Terrace apartment complex in Naugatuck.
MOLD: Complex built near former swamp
Continued from 1B will be moved to another unit within the complex, which she has seen and accepted, as soon as maintenance workers finish preparing it. “Whatever we have to do, we will do,” Knowles said. Cerasale took up Whitelaw’s cause after hearing that residents had complained to the housing authority for years with little to no relief. Whitelaw said she has been complaining of the mold since 2007. She was given a dehumidifier, which did not solve the problem. Linda Heston, a woman who lived in the same building as Whitelaw before moving to public housing in Derby, wrote letters to the housing authority’s commission, Mayor Robert A. Mezzo and then-Burgess Anthony R. Campbell in 2009 detailing her struggles with mold in her carpet. Heston, an asthmatic, needed new vinyl floors to replace her moldy carpet, but was told she would have to pay for it, according to her letters. Based on both cases, Cerasale on Jan. 14 contacted state health and community development officials. The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, which oversees local housing authorities, is following up on his concerns, according to emails the agency sent Tuesday to Cerasale. Whitelaw also called the Naugatuck Valley Health District to inspect her apartment last week. Rita R. Fazzino, a housing code enforcement officer and sanitarian, declined to comment on the results of the inspection, saying it is being treated as an open case until remediation work is complete. The health district has not received further complaints, Fazzino said. Health officials issue written orders, served by judicial marshals, requiring the responsible party to fix the underlying problem that causes mold to develop, then remove the offending material with soap, water and bleach for hard surfaces, Fazzino said. After the work is done, Fazzino said, she will inspect the apartment again. Owners who do not comply by a certain deadline can face criminal charges, Fazzino said. The complex was built on the side of a hill in a former swamp and the buildings stand on concrete slabs, causing water to flow under them, Cerasale said. Drain pipes empty onto the concrete foundations rather than into the ground. “This whole complex has serious water drainage problems,” Cerasale said. Apartments are restored to new condition after people move out and drywall can be replaced if necessary, Knowles said, although he did not know whether it had ever been done. The housing authority does not plan to inspect more units for mold in the absence of more complaints, which will be handled according to the severity of the problem, Knowles said. “We deal with issues as they’re in front of us,” Knowles said. The first buildings in the complex were built in the 1960s, Knowles said. Sometimes mold is caused by tenants taking hot showers without turning on a fan or opening a window, he said. “There’s going to be issues with any units that get to be of a certain age,” Knowles said.
who attended the meeting, agreed that fighting blight means targeting landlords, who often live out of state and don’t have any stake in the community. “We help keep the property clean, but if our landlord doesn’t take the trash out, there’s only so much we can do,” said Smith, who has six children in the school system. Attendees were supportive of the initiative, but some parents said they were disappointed that there aren’t more far-reaching improvements planned for Walsh Elementary School. City officials passed out a flier with a list of planned improvements to the aging school. Some parents had hoped Walsh students would be moved to Jonathan E. Reed, a new elementary school that’s being built on North Main Street. Although O’Leary has said that is unlikely, school board member Karen Harvey said Tuesday she still supports the idea. Several attendees said the blight force’s efforts aren’t a substitute for renovations to the aging Walsh school. “This meeting seems to be your excuse for why students can’t be transferred to Reed,” said Sheila Calhoun, during a question and answer period. She said the improvements at Walsh “are all things that should happen anyway.” O’Leary said that in a little more than a month since he took office, the city has made significant strides. He said the key to sustaining a blight-free community comes down to residents’ pride in where they live. “My challenge to all of you tonight: We’ll provide all the resources to get your neighborhood to where it needs to be,” O’Leary said. “Please, please, please sustain it.”
BRIEFLY Pasta dinner to benefit school
WATERTOWN — The annual Pasta Plus Dinner to benefit St. John the Evangelist School will take place from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in Father Filip Hall at St. John the Evangelist Church, 574 Main St. Takeouts will be available. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for children and can be purchased in advance after the Masses on Jan. 29. Food will be prepared by D’Amelio Italian Eatery. Proceeds will benefit the parish school. Snow date will be Thursday, Feb. 9. For information and tickets call Chris at (860) 309-5188.
Senior center to go shopping at Stew’s
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Senior Center will sponsor a shopping trip to Stew Leonard’s in Danbury on Thursday. A bus will leave the center, 1172 Whittemore Road, at approximately 11 a.m. After the shopping a lunch stop will be made at the Blue Colony Diner in Newtown. Cost is $6 per person for transportation. Call (203) 577-4166 for information and reservations.
ENROLL: Numbers down this year
Continued from 1B within the district after facing a tongue-in-cheek question from Board member John Bucciarelli in the fall. Bucciarelli asked if the school district could slash $2.8 million since the figures were dropping. The presentation comes a month before Sippy is slated to present his budget proposal to the school board for the 2012-13 fiscal year. While Sippy didn’t mention any specifics of the upcoming proposal, he said there will be changes in some areas. “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to enrollment changes,” Sippy said. “There are things we have to consider but this won’t be any different from the past.” Board of Education Chairwoman Janet Butkus said Tuesday it was too early to predict the exact impact of the enrollment changes, but added she didn’t expect major changes this year. “Any changes are going to require some careful planning and I think he was pretty clear about that,” Butkus said. October projections showed an enrollment decline of up to 676 students, or 15.9 percent, between 2011 and 2020, throughout the school system. Those figures followed a previously announced drop of 202 students enrolled since the previous year, bringing the total to 4,544 students. A 2006 report from Danburybased Savin Engineers showed the opposite problem, with overcrowding on the rise. A new study could be completed in the coming years and show the trend changing again if there are changes in the economy, Sippy said. In November, the district hired Milone & MacBroom to compile several options for how Southbury and Middlebury can work with the decline in enrollment. Some of the scenarios include redistricting the region’s schools and/or adding a full-day kindergarten program. The firm will be paid between $40,000 to $50,000 for the work, which is estimated to take six months. “We’re still in the business of education and instruction. We’re still going to open our classrooms, we’re still going to have teachers and have a legal, moral and ethical obligation to educate,” Sippy said.
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PICNIC: Ball gives way to day in May
Continued from 1B campaign supporters are probably feeling rather tapped out now, O’Leary said. It’s too soon “to go back to the well,” he said. O’Leary was reluctant to announce a cancellation, possibly because he didn’t want to give Marriott any reason to back out of its payment deal. After committee member Cathy Smith pressured him for direction, however, O’Leary finally told them to call off their ball planning and change their focus. Instead, O’Leary wants to celebrate the city’s new direction at a community picnic on Saturday, May 26, at Municipal Stadium. “I am a hot-dogs-and-burger kind of guy,” he said. For a nominal fee, city families could enjoy a day out with neighbors, complete with pony rides, bouncy houses, pick-up softball games and live music. He would like to encourage corporate support for the informal event nonetheless, not only to cover party expenses but also to help out local charities. The committee may rent out hospitality tents. Whatever is not spent on paying for the party can be divided up among local charities, many of which are going to be hard hit by federal grant cuts.
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