With shining white and blue graduation gowns draped around them, members of the Newtown High School Class of 2014 entered the Western Connecticut State University’s O’Neill Center on Tuesday, June 17. The commencement exercises for the roughly 420 students included a bagpipe processional, musical performances by the NHS Chamber Choir under the direction of Jane Matson, and speeches by NHS Interim Principal Jeffrey Jaslow, Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, Board of Education Chair Debbie Leidlein, Class of 2014 Co-Presidents Hope McMorran and Mary Joee Rossi, Salutatorian Amisha Dave, Valedictorian Anne Beier, NHS teacher Larry Saladin, and Student Government President Siena Cicarelli.
Brenda J. McKinley of Newtown was appointed as the next director of the C.H. Booth Library in Newtown, Wednesday, June 18, following a unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees at a special meeting held Tuesday evening, June 17. Ms McKinley’s appointment, effective July 1, was announced to the staff and Acting Director Beryl Harrison, Wednesday morning, by Board of Trustees President Martha Robilotti. An accomplished and longstanding member of the staff of Booth Library, Ms McKinley emerged as the candidate of choice from a highly qualified applicant pool following a national search conducted by a seven-member committee composed of trustees, staff, and community members, who were advised by the Division of Library Development at the Connecticut State Library. “I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity to lead the library, and excited for the future of Booth Library,” said Ms McKinley. “I look forward to working with the board, the staff, and the volunteers.”
The task force established after the Newtown shootings to examine mental health issues among young adults released 47 recommendations Tuesday in what a key legislative leader described as a “blueprint” for future legislative action on behavioral health. The task force concluded that the state’s overall system of providing mental health and substance abuse treatment for young people does not function well in meeting the needs of individuals and their families, although it cited some pockets of excellence. The group’s recommendations ranged widely, but many focused on the need to expand the capacity of professionals to provide behavioral health services to young people, access to services, and issues related to the rights of people with mental health or substance abuse problems.
Newtown High School Class of 2014 Salutatorian Amisha Dave told her graduating classmates: “2014 is officially the best class ever.” Standing before them during graduation ceremonies at Western Connecticut State University’s O’Neill Center Tuesday evening, June 17, she left attendees with memorable thoughts, as did Class President Mary Joe Rossi, Student Government President Siena Cicarelli, and Valedictorian Anne Beier, among others.
On the morning of Tuesday, June 17, US Representative Elizabeth Esty and US Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy announced a $7.1 million grant from the US Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime to support victims, family members, first responders, and community members in Newtown in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The grant will be used to support victim services with a portion reserved for school safety efforts. After receiving confirmation of the award Tuesday morning, First Selectman Pat Llodra said the community is very appreciative of the ongoing support provided through the Department of Justice.
Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members have approved revised zoning regulations which, in effect, would greatly increase the amount of residential apartment space that could be included as a second-story use in new commercial buildings that include uses such as stores and offices on the first story. The revised zoning regulations would affect new development in the B-1 and B-2 (Business) zones; they will take effect on June 16. Pertinent zoning rules, which have been in effect for years, have allowed a developer to include one dwelling per one-half acre of land at a commercial site, based upon certain calculation rules. The revised zoning rules state that the overall square footage area of the second-story dwellings in a commercial building shall not exceed 50 percent of the gross floor area of the building, excluding the basement. Also, any such individual apartment located in a commercial building must be at least 800 square feet in area, but no larger than 1,200 square feet in area.
Tom Connors, who did not even live in Newtown the day the community signed off on acquiring the sprawling and abandoned Fairfield Hills hospital campus, is now leading the authority charged with overseeing its administration. Mr Connors recently took over chairing the Fairfield Hills Authority. And he recently finished a month long series of appearances introducing himself to three top elected boards. While Mr Connors brought the same brief outline to bullet key points he wanted to cover, members of the Boards of Selectmen and Finance, as well as the Legislative Council, each took advantage of opportunities to draw out deeper or broader perspectives on certain points.
Well over 200 people attended the 25th Annual Newtown Chapter Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut Breakfast Fundraiser, Wednesday morning, June 11, at the Waterview in Monroe. Filling 39 tables hosted by individuals, clubs, businesses, and organizations, the morning started with a time for socializing.
Hosts and hostesses of each sponsored table were on hand, garbed in aprons, to pour coffee, tea, and juice for guests, in hopes of garnering “tips” — all to support Regional Hospice.