Haddam official declares emergency as colossal ice jam clogs Connecticut River
HADDAM — The town’s top official declared a state of emergency Wednesday night, acknowledging she has exhausted all resources dealing with the repercussions of a massive, six-mile-long ice jam backing up the Connecticut River.
“I want to be more proactive than reactive,” said First Selectwoman Lizz Milardo, considering the weekend is coming and that the town has a non-paid fire and EMS force. “Everyone in this town is a volunteer.
“It gives me the tools to put everyone on notice to say, ‘This is what we have to do.’ If I have to force any evacuations, I can. If I need to close roads, I can.”
Her appeal to the governor cited “a condition of danger to life and property.”
Temperature fluctuations are the culprit.
Voting record, party affiliation becomes an issue in Republican contest
HARTFORD — The voting record - or rather lack of - might be an issue for one of the Republican candidates for governor.
Bob Stefanowski of Madison, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, hasn’t voted for 16 years, according to records from the Registrar of Voters office in Madison.
That means he didn’t vote in the 2016 presidential election. He did vote in the Nov. 7, 2017 municipal election, but before that he hadn’t voted in his hometown since Nov. 5, 2001.
“I worked in London for eight years and two years in Philadelphia,” he said. “I should have mailed in an absentee ballot.
Guilford 911 service interrupted at least 2 hours Monday afternoon
GUILFORD — Some 911 emergency telephone service in the town was interrupted for at least a couple of hours Monday afternoon, but all 911 service was restored about 3:30 p.m., the assistant fire chief said Monday.
The 911 service was down for land lines only, said Assistant Chief Mike Shove. Mobile phone 911 service was not affected. Guilford’s 911 emergency service is provided by Frontier Communications, he said.
“It was down for a period of time and it’s back up now,” Shove said. Officials first became aware of a problem between noon and 1 p.m., he said.
The town put out a reverse 911 call to inform residents about the issue, Shove said.
Volunteers to bring cheer with holiday bike drive for kids
GUILFORD — With wrenches in hand and bike frames, handle bars, pedals and brakes scattered on tables, over 100 Shoreline residents diligently worked to assemble new bikes for needy children.
Christmas music played and hot coffee, apple cider doughnuts and holiday cookies were served as Bishop's Orchards Farm Market & Winery Little Red Barn was transformed into a holiday workshop for the Wishing Wheels Holiday Bike Drive.
As 87 new, boxed children’s bicycles, 12-inch, 16-inch and 20-inch, were unloaded from a Zane’s Cycles truck, children as young as 3 joined in the event. Once assembled, the shiny, new bikes were lined up outside the barn to await pickup.
Wreaths Across America to stop in Branford Dec. 12
BRANFORD — It’s America’s longest veterans parade and on the afternoon of Tuesday, Dec. 12, it’ll roll through Branford, providing a breathtaking symbol of gratitude for our fallen service members.
The “honor convoy” is part of Wreaths Across America (WAA), a national initiative to remember veterans and their families during the holidays.
The 2-mile-long fleet will be composed of 200 volunteers traveling in buses, SUVs, and specially wrapped WAA vehicles, along with motorcycle escorts of the state and local police and the Patriot Guard, as well as dozens of 18 wheelers transporting over 400,000 evergreen wreaths from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery, according to LCDR Dottie Packer, NC (Nurse Corps) USN/RET.
North Branford couple give their ‘girls’ whole raw turkeys as a treat
NORTH BRANFORD — Just like other loving parents, Jim and Frances DiMaggio send their “girls” money for special treats on holidays, pose with them for the annual family Christmas card and proudly display their artwork in the dining room corner.
But those holiday treats are whole turkeys or hunks of raw beef and the canvases of artwork are covered with colorful pawprints and swipes.
“The girls,” as the DiMaggios refer to them, are 4-year-old golden tabby Bengal tiger sisters named Shiva and Kali, each weighing in at 300-plus pounds. The couple also recently adopted a new girl, Hera, 1, a Bengal tiger who is about 200 pounds.
Last year for Joe’s Amazing Lights in Guilford, which has raised over $100K for charity
GUILFORD — Joe’s Amazing Lights has had a long, very successful run, but when the lights are unplugged on Jan. 14 it will be for the last time. With 65,000 Christmas lights, DMX color blasts, five Light-O-Rama controllers with more than 80 plugs, a computer programmed for synchronized Christmas music, an FM transmitter and a donation collection box, Joe Petrowski Jr. has been decorating his family home for the past 21 years, since he was 6 years old. As people slowly drive by, tuning their radio to 107.3 FM, the lights dance, flash and blink in rhythm with the Christmas music. “It’s kind of crazy to think that over the years it’s really gotten so much attraction and so much popularity,” said creator and designer Petrowski.
Construction underway for new VFW hall in Guilford
GUILFORD — Eleven years in the planning, construction is underway at the V.F.W. Post 7666. Since 1960, the post has been a gathering spot for veterans and their family and friends. Now they can look forward to an updated members’ club and a new hall.
“The V.F.W. is unlike any of the other veterans’ organizations,” said Larry Santamaria, a Vietnam War veteran and current commander at the post. “It’s completely combat veterans.
“We’ve been the V.F.W. chapter, the Guilford chapter, since World War II,” the 67-year-old Guilford resident adds.
With over 200 members, keeping up the membership is important.
“That’s what we used to use to go in front of Congress, in front of legislation to push for any veterans’ bills.
Chefs hit the right notes at Reverie Kitchen in Branford
BRANFORD — When Paul Staley, the celebrated chef and owner of Branford’s Reverie Kitchen, was growing up in Madison, he had a paper route. One Thanksgiving, he folded a menu for rolls and pies into each New Haven Register. Soon, his customers were asking if he could make them the same for Christmas.
“I used the money I earned to pay for cooking classes with Jacques Pepin,” said the genial 53-year-old, who went on to hone his skills at the Culinary Institute of America, then worked as a sous chef in all-world restaurant Nikolai’s Roof in Atlanta, where the five-course prix fixe dinner once had a one-year waitlist.
Memorial Garden planted for late Ben Callahan
BRANFORD — Meditation, reflection, conversation and gratitude. All are possible at the Ben Callahan Memorial Garden overlooking the Branford River.
“It’s in a really nice spot because there are a lot of cars that drive by and it’s an easy spot to just park your car and come and remember Ben and maybe have a good conversation with someone else that’s here or you could just take a couple minutes here to remember and think,” says 9-year-old Scout, Ben’s brother.
It was on Friday, July 7, that the 10-year-old drowned in the Branford River, not far from the memorial garden, while swimming with his two brothers, Cooper, 11 and Scout, also known as Squeaky.
Ashley’s Angels: Archrivals Hand, Guilford field hockey teams join in support of The Cove
As the Hand and Guilford field hockey teams scraped and scrapped in an intense Class M state semifinal match on a raw Tuesday night, Madison’s Sandy Parker sat bundled in the stands surrounded by her family, alternately cheering, shouting, and covering her face with her gloves.
Despite the fierce play — the only loss for Hand, which would go on to prevail as state champions in Saturday’s final against New Canaan, came at the hands of Guilford — the two teams joined together only a month earlier for a cause that transcended their perennial rivalry.
Grant to help Branford police take DUI drivers off road
BRANFORD — An annual grant from the Connecticut Department of Transportation will help enable Branford police to crack down on driving under the influence this holiday season, according to a police press release.
“Our [d]epartment remains vigilant in making our roadways safer. This grant allows our agency to supplement our overall mission during the holidays,” Chief Kevin Halloran said in the press release. He pointed out that intoxicated drivers pose a danger to themselves, other drivers and the general public.
Last year local officers removed 6 drunk drivers from the roads.
Old Saybrook harbor dredging gets underway
OLD SAYBROOK — Work has gotten started on a $4.3 million dredging project to clean 290,000 cubic yards of sediment out of the town’s North Cove, which is located near the mouth of the Connecticut River.
Officials with the Connecticut Port Authority announced the start of dredging during a press conference Monday. The Authority is headquartered in Old Saybrook and the state agency will be funding the work.
The dredging will restore the federally authorized depth of the cove and the width of its entrance channel, according to agency officials.
Guilford’s colorful turkeys draw vegan protesters
GUILFORD — The brightly colored turkeys — pink, purple, orange, yellow — strutting around their pen at Gozzi’s Turkey Farms on Saturday drew more than families coming to view their vivid hues. A group of about 15 vegans lined the road outside the farm at 2443 Boston Post Road to stand up for what they called the turkeys’ rights not to be dyed, killed and eaten. “They dye them from head to foot in colors as entertainment,” said Violet, a Guilford resident who wouldn’t give her last name, adding that the locally famous attraction turns the turkey into “commodities to draw in customers. It’s cruel and turkeys deserve dignity.
Clinton PD K9 to receive body armor
CLINTON — Sonny, the canine officer with the Clinton Police Department will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.
Sonny’s vest is sponsored by the Blackwell family of Southington and will be embroidered with the sentiment “In memory of FF Chris Blackwell FDNY R3 9-11-01.” The vest is expected to arrive within eight to 10 weeks.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, Mass. whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States.