The president of the Norwalk's teachers' union says city officials have been in “attack mode” this budget season. “The rhetoric has been disappointing. I’d like the tone of the discussions to change,” says Bruce Mellion.
Unions representing school administrators, teachers and support personnel have been at the center of almost every city budget discussion this year. City officials, including Mayor Richard Moccia and Director of Finance Tom Hamilton, have repeatedly asked the school union leaders for wage freezes in a call for “shared sacrifice” in order to limit the property tax increase to 2 percent.
In an op-ed in The Hour, Republican Town Chair Art Scialaba called BOE employees “budget busters.” At last week's BOE meeting, Board Chair Jack Chiaramonte lost his temper when a teacher said during public comments that she was disappointed by Chiaramonte's hostile comments about the teachers union at a PTO Council meeting.
In an interview with TheDailyNorwalk.com, Mellion said teachers become “convenient targets” during economic downturns even though the teacher's union has been a part of “shared sacrifice.” “We were the first to give and we gave the most.” Mellion has stated repeatedly that the teachers union contract awarded in 2009 will save the district $7 million over two years. He also said that the contract, which includes a 1.36 percent raise for next year, was widely praised by the city and tax board for its prudence. As a result of a switch to Health Saving Account plans, Mellion said, teachers now pay more out-of-pocket for health care. “We took a big bite from the apple first, not two small bites.”
Are you confident you could safely guide your family through an emergency such as a flood or fire? If not, let Westport Police Sgt. Richard Frazier and other instructors of the Westport Community Emergency Response Team help you to help your family.
A division of the Westport Police Department, the team is offering a free basic training course to Fairfield County residents interested in becoming better equipped to handle emergencies both small and large.
"In the basic training class, we start with an introduction to emergency preparedness, teaching participants how to prepare themselves for natural or manmade disasters," said Frazier, the team coordinator. "We talk about how to put together disaster kits and stocking up the food pantry."
Although some of the material may seem like common sense, Frazier said it's important to stress the fact that people need to take care of themselves first before helping others during an emergency. "It's like when you're on an airplane and [the flight attendants] tell you to secure your own mask first before securing those of others," he said.
During the course, participants are taught how to put out a fire as well as how to recognize what types of fire they can't extinguish on their own.
Though the course focuses on how to prepare your household for an emergency, participants will also learn what they can do to help in case of a large-scale emergency. "We teach light search-and-rescue methods, how to assist EMS treat large amounts of people and some components of terrorism, like what to look for," Frazier said. "We also go over disaster psychology, giving participants an insight into how disaster affects people."
Alpha Diallo, 22, of the Bronx, N.Y., was arrested last Tuesday after stealing the identity of a Louisiana man and going on a shopping spree, police said. In September, Darien police received a call from police in Abbeville, La., that someone was using an Abbeville resident's credit cards in Darien and Norwalk. The credit cards had been used at two gas stations and a CVS in Darien to buy $357.28 worth of Newport cigarettes. Surveillance tapes showed the same person at all three stores, as well as a gray Dodge Charger with New Jersey plates.
Police determined the car had been rented to Diallo at a Hertz Rental Station in New Rochelle, N.Y., and that he had been arrested by Naugatuck police on identity theft charges. Darien police went to the Bronx Hall of Justice to pick up Diallo and bring him back to Darien, where he was charged with identity theft, larceny by use of credit card and illegal use of credit card. He was held on $100,000 bond and went to court the next day. There was also a hold order from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, meaning he could be deported.
Also from the police blotter:
• A burglary was reported at the concession stand at the Noroton Heights train station last Monday. An employee arrived at 4:30 a.m. to open and discovered that the lock on the storage room was missing along with a large box of paper towels and a large box of toilet paper, police said. Money was kept in the room, but the thief apparently did not find it. The last time the door had been seen locked was at 9:30 a.m. the previous Friday. The employee told police this has been a recurring problem at the station.
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Stamford High School's boys basketball team won the city championship and clinched a spot in the upcoming Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference tournament with Monday's 66-54 win over Trinity Catholic. The Black Knights also showed they have the potential to cut down the nets at the end of the league's playoffs.
Led by the powerful inside-outside game of Luis Briddter and Anthony Davis, Stamford improved to 13-6 overall and 12-5 in the league. The Crusaders fell to 11-8 overall and 10-7 in the league. They can secure a playoff berth by beating Wilton in the season-finale Wednesday.
"When you beat a team the caliber of Trinity, that's a good win,'' Stamford coach Jim Moriarty said. "They have a lot of talent. Year in and year out, they're one of the top teams in the state."
Briddter scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Davis also scored 20 and did a solid job on defense against Trinity guard Jonathan Boykin, holding him to 13 points and just three field goals. Danny Turkvan added 17 and Jakai Wilson scored 10 for Stamford.
Schadrac Casmir scored 18 to lead the Crusaders, including 11 in the fourth quarter when they sliced a 17-point deficit to six with 1:20 left. Stamford went six-for-seven from the foul line in the final 76 seconds to hold off Trinity.
"I don't think we executed early, and our inexperience had a lot to do with that,'' Trinity coach Mike Walsh said. "We're playing basically two sophomores, two juniors and a senior. They're playing all seniors for the most part. Their experience showed early."
Briddter scored 14 points in the first half as Stamford built a 29-20 halftime lead. Stamford enjoyed its largest lead, 48-31, with 37 seconds left in the third. Stamford led 53-37 with 4:55 left before Casmir led the Crusaders on a 15-5 run that pulled them within 58-52. Trinity made Stamford ice it at the foul line, and Turkvan and Davis hit three free throws apiece in the final 1:16.
Metro-North riders such as Zack Lehmann and Paul Simpson can now receive text message updates, making it easier for commuters to get up-to-date information on when their trains will be arriving and departing. "That will be really good, especially now," Simpson said, referring to the recent delays and scheduling problems caused by harsh winter weather. Simpson, a regular traveler on Metro-North, said the train service has been especially frustrating recently.
"It's been really crowded. And they're using old cars. We were supposed to get new ones, but we haven't." He said the new service would come in handy when he's running late for a train or unable to hear announcements.
The new service is a result of Metro-North's partnership with CooCoo, a text-scheduling company based on Long Island, N.Y. Train riders text a station-to-station request, such as "Darien to Grand Central," to 266266 and get an immediate response. The service is free, with standard text-messaging rates applying.
Lehmann rides the train every day from his home in New Haven to work in Darien and does not usually have problems with delays, but he understood why the new service would be useful. "I don't think it's a big issue for me, but I can see how texting for information would be helpful to some people."
What do you think of the new service by Metro-North? Do you think it will make your commute easier? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you're concerned about conservation issues in Easton, you should attend the Conservation Commission's meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Town Hall conference room. The commission members are scheduled to discuss a variety of topics, including three cases in which residents allegedly violated town conservation ordinances. The commission will also talk about the possible designation of Orchard Road as a scenic road. A public hearing on that subject is scheduled for Feb. 28.
Several residents have applications pending with the commission to determine the environmental impact of projects. These will also be discussed, as will the Planning and Zoning Commission's recent rejection of the Saddle Ridge Development.
The commission is also set to discuss a memo from First Selectman Tom Herrmann, who indicated his desire to revise the town's purchasing ordinance to give the first selectman the authority to sign for purchases. The current ordinance gives that responsibility to department heads.
The Conservation Commission has appointed officials who serve for a limited term. The current board is led by Chairman Adam Dunsby and includes Vice Chairman Stephen J. Edwards, Secretary Lea Sylvestro, Stephen Corti, Roy Gosse, Dori Wollen and Peggy Macaluso.
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Robert Vignola could hardly believe the sign he saw as he walked along Elm Street on Monday. A big white sign on the window of the Taste of Asia restaurant announced that it has closed after 23 years of serving up such fine Asian dishes as General Tso’s chicken and Thai curry chicken in New Canaan.
“They had very friendly owners,” said Vignola, 58. “It really was a nice place. I always used to come here.” The popular restaurant closed Sunday after owners Wayne and Sandy Chan, who live in Wilton, decided to spend more time with their children and grandchildren. Wayne Chan said he and his wife, both near 60, had thought about closing for several months before deciding at the end of the year to stop.
“We just want to relax.” Wayne Chan said. “We want to thank all the people for so many years. The customers and the merchants, we will miss them.” Chan said several customers greeted him Monday as he began cleaning out the restaurant. Chan said none of his four sons, all of whom live in New York City, wanted to run the eatery. The shuttering marks the second restaurant in New Canaan to close in a week. Aloi restaurant on Main Street closed its doors last week.
Susie and Steve Meszkat were also sorry. “I hope they’re closing for the right reasons,” Susie Meszkat said. “We will miss them.”
If you have a Taste Of Asia gift certificate, contact the Chans at 6.
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Town residents Robert and Therese Kauders were looking on the bright side despite the below-freezing temperatures. They predicted spring is on the way, even though they were bundled up and had to clear snow from their cars before going for a walk through Wilton Center on Monday afternoon.
They said they agree with Punxutawney Phil, the groundhog that did not see his shadow this year and therefore predicted an early spring, according to legend. The Wiltonians took their prediction even further, saying winter would end before March 20, the official first day of spring.
[breakhere] When it was warm last week, Robert Kauders said he thought we were done with the cold. “I thought (winter) was over. That seems to be the line of the day, however,” Kauders said, donning thick gloves and earmuffs for his walk.
Two senses are needed to determine the end of winter: hearing and seeing, they said. First you need to hear the birds singing in the morning, Therese Kauders says. Once the snow melts and you see the crocuses come out, spring is here, she says.
Though the cold weather keeps many people indoors, Robert Kauders normally does not mind it. But after this winter, he says he is ready for the change of season. “I still love the winter, but I think everyone has had enough,” Kauders said.
Temperatures are predicted to remain in the high 30s and low 40s over the next week, Weather.com says.
What signs do you consider as the start of spring? Share below and become a part of the conversation.
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