Thursday, February 28, 2013

Can We Get Lanes on Cherry Street?

Today was the fourth time in, like, 3 weeks that some jerk nearly careened into me on Cherry Street - and I believe it’s because some motorists think that Cherry is only one (giant) lane in each direction.

So, can someone paint some lanes on that street?

As far as I know, Cherry Street is 4 lanes (between Gulf Street and I-95) – 2 going toward the Post Road, 2 going toward downtown. The merging-into-me-and-nearly-ruining-my-day usually happens right after the main entrance to the Shop Rite plaza going toward the Post Road/I-95 ramp. People who are driving in the left lane think the road is one lane, and end up slowly drifting into the right lane. Add to that the people pulling out of the medical park 10 feet in front of your car and you have an eMERGING disaster. 

Anyone else experienced this problem?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tax Credit Benefits Nonprofits

A couple of local nonprofits will get some free cash from corporations to make environmental and other upgrades via the Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit program.

Laurelton Hall, the Beth-El Center, and St. Gabriel School split a total of $176,227given by United Illuminating, Solidus Inc., EMCOR Group Inc., and Cigna Health Management.

Beth-El will use the money for a rad purpose: installing a solar-powered hot-water heater. Laurelton Hall will install energy-efficient lighting at its athletic center, and St. Gabriel will use it for capital costs.

Here’s how the tax credit program works: A company like United Illuminating makes a donation to a nonprofit for something like energy efficiency upgrades. UI then gets to claim 100 percent of that as a tax credit. Companies donating money for energy efficiency upgrades get to claim 100 percent; otherwise, companies get a 60 to 100 percent credit.

It’s kind of like when you donate a bunch of stuff to the Salvation Army and they give you a receipt so you can deduct it from your taxes, but in this instance, Beth-El gets to use the enormous power of the sun to heat its water. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Milford Flu Update

Went to the Milford Health Department meeting last night, came back with some flu.

Numbers, that is. Seasonal flu* is still classified as "widespread" in Connecticut, but infections are decreasing. Flu hit much earlier this year than in years past, so the usual February/March peak is out the window. And that's kind of a good thing; we got it over with early this year. We've had 4,399 lab-confirmed cases in Connecticut this season, but, of course, the actual numbers are a lot higher.

Milford has had 162 cases of lab-confirmed influenza this season. According to the city Health Department, Milford had its flu peak sometime in January with the "number of cases significantly decreasing [in February]."

Good news, Milford. Keep washing those hands, cough into your elbow, and get you flu vaccines!

*When I say "flu" I mean influenza, which is characterized by body aches, fever, and some upper-respiratory symptoms. The "stomach flu" that's going around is not influenza, but an entirely different virus, called norovirus or Norwalk virus (named after a Norwalk in Ohio, not Connecticut). Norovirus is characterized by gastrointestinal symptoms and there's no vaccine for it. It's debatable which virus is worse, but I'd much rather regular old lay-in-bed influenza. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Orange, your supreme master!

James Zeoli. Better than you?

Is Orange challenging Milford to a snow fight?

At Wednesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, First Selectmen James Zeoli praised his town’s cleanup efforts while mentioning that other localities like Milford were continuing to cancel school due to snow.

“Orange ranks supreme,” Zeoli said in regards to the town’s snow cleanup efforts.

Orange schools were open by Wednesday while Milford’s were closed through Friday because of unclear sidewalks and poor visibility (due to high snow banks) for bus and car drivers.

So what do you say, Milfordites? Does Orange rank supreme when it comes to snow plowing? Would you abandon Milford for Orange just for the supreme snow-clearing services? Is Orange’s Target better than Milford’s? 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Clear Sidewalks of Snow, Please: Chief Mello

Just got an email from Milford Police Chief Keith Mello regarding the clearing of sidewalks. Specifically, that he would like you to clear them, please, for the kids. Here's the full message:

"Hello, this is the Chief of Police, Keith Mello. I would like to speak to you regarding an important public safety message. I realize that all of you have been impacted by the unprecedented snow storm that we experienced last Friday and into Saturday. Removing the snow from our streets, driveways and walks has been a significant challenge for everyone. While the Public Works Department continues to clear snow from our roadways, it is important that residents remove the snow from the sidewalks in front of their homes, so that our children will be able to safely walk to their bus stops and that our schools can re-open. Fortunately, the snow pack has been reduced with the milder weather and now is a good time to clear your sidewalks and make our community safer for everyone. Thank you for your cooperation and have a good night."

Mello told me on Wednesday that the city would not enforce its $90/day max fine for residents and business owners who don't clear snow from in front of their property. A city ordinance requires all property owners to do that withing 24 hours after the end of precipitation from a snow/ice storm. This city is not enforcing that ordinance right now because of how much snow we got from the blizzard. See more in the story here:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is Your Sidewalk Covered in Snow?

Where the sidewalk ends: Bridgeport Avenue in Milford Tuesday afternoon (near the 95 on-ramp)

How are sidewalks in your neighborhood?

Three people were hit by a car Monday as they walked in the roadway down Bridgeport Avenue in Devon. I can't say for sure why they were in the road (because I wasn't there), but it's very, very likely that the sidewalk was unavailable due to snow cover.

The emphasis during this storm has been on clearing roads, which makes sense because most of us, even if we don't own a car, use some kind of motorized vehicle to get around. Others need to walk, whether to a bus stop or just to the corner store for a gallon of milk. So, should we place the same priority on sidewalks that we do on roads?

I snapped the above photo when I went down to Bridgeport Avenue today to report on the story of the family that got hit. I'm happy to report that some sidewalks are open, but definitely not all of them. Let me know if the sidewalks in your neighborhood are clear - whether because of a nice neighbor with a snow blower or because someone went out with a shovel. Do you use the sidewalks a lot and want them cleared near your house?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Blizzard Update: Milford parking ban

Just so all you Milfordites know, alternate side of the street parking goes into effect tonight at 6 p.m. in preparation for this potentially enormous snowstorm.

The city wants you to park on the ODD side of the street beginning tonight at 6 p.m. At 8 a.m. Friday, you need to move your cars to the EVEN side of the street. Then, it's back to the ODD side of the street at 8 a.m. Saturday (that is, if your car isn't buried in a 10-foot snow drift).

So, starting at 6 p.m. tonight, it'll be ODD, EVEN, then ODD switching at 8 a.m. each day until the parking ban lifts at 8 a.m. Sunday.

But, avoid parking on the street if possible. The city will be salting, sanding, and plowing as much as it can, but Mayor Ben Blake told me to tell you that you should stay off the roads and stay safe. If your power goes out or you get stranded on I-95, there's a shelter at the Beth-El Center, 900 New Haven Avenue.

There's a chance for coastal flooding along the shore, so coastal Milfordites should take warning.

More on the New Haven Register web site and in tomorrow's paper on this developing blizzard (if I can call it that).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Malloy's Budget Plans for Milford

What does Gov. Daniel Malloy have up his sleeve for Milford in his proposed budget?

Some good for schools, but a mixed bag for the city.

City schools will get around $635,232 more in education cost sharing (ECS) funds over last year, according to documents released by Malloy’s office. Milford is one of 117 districts that would get an ECS increase. James Richetelli Jr., the schools’ chief operations officer, praised Malloy’s proposals.

“The governor has made a commitment to fund public education, and that's good for Milford public schools and all the school systems,” he said Wednesday.

But, Malloy also proposed taking away some revenue from the city (not to mention whatever the effects of car tax reductions would be).

Cuts for Milford include: The state PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for state-owned property ($446,678), the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Grant ($397,549 – each town gets a slice of this, generated by gambling revenue; it’s been around since ‘93), public school transportation funding (-$264,776 – but would be replaced by a competitive $5 million grant … and that’s $5 million for every town in the state to share), the manufacturing transition grant (over $1 million), and the municipal revenue sharing bonus pool ($457,834).

On the increase side, Milford would get more for the private colleges and hospitals PILOT ($70,000-ish), more for road aid (about $300,000), and a lot more for the Local Capital Improvement Fund (just under $400,000).

I reached out to Milford Finance Director Peter Erodici Jr., but he was unable to comment immediately, saying he needed more time to consider the governor’s budget. The city may have to do some rearranging in its budget as the Pequot grant, the PILOT, and transportation funding are all counted as revenue in the city’s 2013-2014 proposed budget. There’s a budget hearing tonight at 7 p.m. at city hall if you want to watch some of that (possible) rearranging.

Opinions Wanted: Socks & Cops

You might’ve read a story in today’s Register about a man who allegedly broke a police department holding cell toilet using his socks (he, uh, allegedly flushed the things down there).

That incident happened on Monday after an arrest for allegedly threatening a local business owner; it was actually the man’s sixth arrest since mid-December.

With that many recent arrests, it’s safe to say it’s been a tough couple of months for the guy. We wrote a story was because public property got broken. It took your tax dollars to install that toilet, and now it’ll take your tax dollars to fix it.

But what I’m wondering, citizens of Milford (and any other community, really), is whether you think that stories like this should be in the paper at all. Are you more interested in whom police arrest (and the alleged crime), or what police do with their time?

I think that reporting on police activity can give you readers two types of information: first, what kind of crime(s) might be happening in the community (but remember police don’t charge you, they arrest you on suspicion of a crime and leave the criminal charge to the prosecutor). Second, it tells us what the police are doing with their time.

So, please let me know what you think about news stories that involve crime and police. Do stories like the one out today turn you off? Do you want more reporting on crimes, or more reporting about the police department?

Leave comments, email me at, or follow me on Twitter, @Neal_McNamara. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Health Award for Milford Elementary Schools

Who would’ve thought a spinach and strawberry salad would get the attention of the U.S. Department of Agriculture?

The Healthier U.S. School Challenge program, run by the U.S. Ag department, recognized eight city elementary schools today for excellence in providing nutrition and teaching healthy habits. The schools got “bronze” level awards, according to a release from Milford schools.

The schools won by doing simple but sensible things like serving healthy whole foods (that’s the spinach salad), teaching nutrition and healthy habits along with physical education, and offering more physical activity opportunities.

“The physical education teachers incorporated lessons that depicted life-long healthy habits.  The classroom teachers encouraged students to try new foods and explained why they are important for a healthy life.  The food service team incorporated new and colorful foods into our menus that taste great," schools' food service director Eileen Faustich said in a release.   

Each school will get a plaque, a banner, and $500 to go toward even more health and nutrition improvements.The HUSSC program is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative. Find out more here about Let’s Move. 

Milford's elementary schools win "healthy" award

MILFORD –  The Milford Public Schools recently learned that eight elementary schools in the district have been selected as recipients of the Healthier U.S. School Challenge (HUSSC), a program offered through the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.  The Challenge is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative.  The award is bestowed to schools across the country for their commitment to nutrition, physical education, and promotion of a healthier school environment for all.  The elementary schools in Milford join a select group of schools in America with only 4% of schools nationwide receiving this distinction.

Schools needed to meet or exceed all HUSSC criteria through demonstrated excellence in the following categories:

                School Breakfast and Lunch program offerings
                Nutrition Education coursework
                Physical Education coursework
                Opportunities for physical activity (other than physical education class time)
                School Wellness policies and practices

Milford’s Foodservice Director Eileen Faustich was extremely pleased with the news and was quick to mention that it was a united effort by students, staff, and the foodservice team.  “These recognitions represent the work that everyone did together in making the concept of healthy living ‘real,’” commented Faustich.  “The physical education teachers incorporated lessons that depicted life-long healthy habits.  The classroom teachers encouraged students to try new foods and explained why they are important for a healthy life.  The foodservice team incorporated new and colorful foods into our menus that taste great.  It’s a win-win for all of us!” 

A noteworthy part of the program conducted at the schools included having the students sample new foods through the school’s lunch programs.  Interestingly, once the students tried them, they loved them.  Examples of these included spinach salad with strawberries, whole grain items, and lots of locally-grown fruits and vegetables. 

An emphasis on physical activity was also highlighted in physical education classes and through teacher-led recess periods.

As winners of the Bronze Award, each of our elementary schools will receive a banner and a plaque for the school, as well as a $500 award to continue their healthy living programs.

“We are proud to have received this award as it underscores our commitment to children’s health,” said Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth Feser.  “Children who eat well and are physically active are healthier, which positively affects their sense of well-being and their learning.”  

Information was submitted by the Milford Board of Education via a press release. 

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Milford Aldermen Appoint!

The Milford Board of Aldermen made a number of appointments to city boards at its meeting Monday night. Check out the list and see if your neighbor, co-worker, or carpool buddy is now a local government official:

  • John O’Neil of North Street as a member to the Historic District Commission for a term expiring January 2017
  • Timothy Chaucer of Hawley Avenue as an alternate member of the Historic District Commission for a term expiring January 2017

  • John Collins Jr. of Brookdale Avenue as a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals for a term expiring December 2017

  • William Soda of Edgemont Road as an alternate member of the Board of Zoning Appeals for a term expiring December 2014

  • Christopher Thomas of Argyle Road as an alternate member of the Historic District Commission for a term expiring January 2017

  • Daniel Worroll of Swanson Crescent reappointed as a member of the Golf Commission for a term expiring December 2015

Friday, February 1, 2013

New Haven Register's new Milford reporter returns home

All I could think was, “What the hell is an orthotic?”

It was 7 years ago, and I was 21 years old and on one of my first assignments for the New Haven Register. The story was about a man running across the country; I caught up to him at Arciuolo’s Shoes where he was picking up some custom orthotics.

The meat of the story was about the runner (I believe he was raising money for Iraq vets, but I can’t quite remember) and his journey, but getting the definition of “orthotics” right is all I remember.

That was the beginning of my journalism career, and the beginning of nearly two years covering Milford. Looking back, I don’t think there was a subject my colleagues and I didn’t cover, from weird crimes out of the police blotter to the affairs of the Inland Wetlands Commission.

And now, I’m coming back.

On Feb. 4 I’ll officially take over the Milford beat (and I believe some of Orange, Stratford, Woodbridge) for the Register. In a way, I’m fulfilling a long-time wish. Seven years ago, I was just a freelancer, a gun for hire picking up stories where I could. I always longed to be a staff reporter at the Register.

In 2007, I left Milford (I was editor of the Milford Weekly by then) to be a reporter in Anderson, Ind. From there, I worked as news editor of a paper in Lansing, Mich., then again as a reporter in Federal Way, Wash. For the past two years, I’ve been working as the head of marketing for a small company in Seattle. It’s my desire to get back to journalism - and to be near friends and family - that’s brought me back to Milford.

I look forward to covering you and your city; please feel free to get in touch if you have a story you want covered, have an issue with something I’ve written, have a news tip, or just want to talk. You can follow me here at the blog, on Twitter (I’m @Neal_McNamara), and of course, in the paper.  My email as of Monday is, and my direct office phone number is 203-789-5695.

And yes, after the owner of Arciuolo’s (patiently) explained it to me a couple of times, I finally got what an orthotic is. Now that I’m a runner myself, I just refer to orthotics as “the things in my sneakers that make my feet feel good.”

Neal McNamara

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