Weekly Update - Aug. 20

August 20, 2021

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Dear Neighbor, 

According to Friday morning's forecast, it looks as if Tropical Storm Henri is going to have a serious impact on this weekend's weather. With a current Tropical Weather Statement for our communities through Monday, I am reminding residents to stay alert and be prepared. We are anticipating potential flooding, thunderstorms, and high winds that have the possibility to bring down trees and power lines resulting in outages. Here is a checklist to help you prepare:

In this email you'll find updates on district resources and news. Please click the links below to read the section that corresponds with the highlighted headline.

A NOTE: If you're having trouble clicking through the following links, open this email in a browser, use a computer or scroll through this email to the relevant section. 

The topics covered are as follows:

On Legislative Business

On Community Resources 

New Census Data Shows Significant Shifts in State's Demographics
Last Thursday, new census data released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed some shifts in Connecticut's demographics. The data showed that over the last decade the state has added 31,847 more residents. The overall growth was largely in Fairfield County, but Hartford and New Haven county saw some modest increases as well. The population growth was enough to ensure that the state did not lose any congressional seats but will result in adjustments to the lines of congressional and legislative voting districts to better reflect the results.
Here's what the data showed for our communities:
East Hartford
  • 2010 Population: 51,252               
  • 2020 Population: 51,045               
  • Population Change: -207              
  • Percent Change: 0%


  • 2010 Population: 58,241               
  • 2020 Population: 59,713               
  • Population Change:1,472             
  • Percent Change: 3%

And, most significantly, the data showed that the state has grown more diverse over the last decade. Per CT News Junkie, "data released by the Census showed that Connecticut’s white population dropped from 77.6% in 2010 to 66.4% in 2020, while the Hispanic or Latino population grew from 13.4% to 17.3%. The Black population grew from 10.1% to 10.8% and the Asian population grew from 3.8% to 4.8%."
I would like to know, what do you think of this issue?

CT News Junkie: Census Data Shows Shifts In Connecticut’s Demographics
CT Insider: Census: 5 things to know about CT's demographic shifts
Hartford Courant: See how much your town grew or shrank based on new census numbers for Connecticut
U.S. Small Business Administration Awards Several Shuttered Venue Operators Grants to Local Venues
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has awarded grants to several venues throughout Connecticut to offset losses due to the pandemic in its latest round. Hit incredibly hard by the pandemic, local venues such as theaters, cinemas, and museums have been struggling to recover from the loses incurred through response efforts to the pandemic. The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, which was included in the American Rescue Plan, hopes to support these venues as they work to reopen their doors and get back on their feet. Nationally, SBA has awarded $8.4 billion in grants to more than 10,800 businesses.
The venues in our community which received grants are:

I would like to know, what do you think of this issue?

Journal Inquirer: Grants provide lifeline for closed venues in region
Hartford Business Journal: Pandemic-hit venues in CT receive over $90M through federal program
Broadway World: 36 Venues Across Connecticut Have Received Shuttered Venue Operator Grants Thus Far
42 CT Companies Make Inc. Magazine’s List of Fastest-Growing Firms
Businesses in Connecticut are continuing to not only grow but thrive in our state! 42 Connecticut-based businesses made Inc. magazine's list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the country. The Connecticut companies recognized on this year's list posted a median growth of 140 percent, added 1,647 jobs, and saw combined revenues of $1.7 billion.
Shelton-based energy startup Budderfly Inc. earned the number 10 spot - no other Connecticut company has broken the Top 10 in recent years. With a three-year revenue gain of 22,486 percent, the company, which helps businesses to cut energy costs also earned the title of the nation’s second-fastest growing company in the energy category.
For the full list of Connecticut companies that made the list, click here.
I would like to know, what do you think of this issue?
Hartford Business Journal: 42 CT companies make Inc. magazine’s list of fastest-growing firms
Connecticut by the Numbers: 42 Connecticut Businesses Among Nation's Fastest Growing
CT Insider: Shelton-based Budderfly one of the 10 fastest-growing companies in US, Inc. says
Today in CT History: Connecticut Inventor Breaks the Rule of Wind Over Water
During the Age of Sail, all people who traveled by water did so at the mercy of wind and tide. No trip was predictable, and this remained true for thousands of years, until a Connecticut-born inventor showed there was a way to break the rule of wind over water. That man was Windsor's John Fitch, who today in 1787 successfully sailed America’s first steamboat up the Delaware River in hopes of gathering financial support from influential members of Congress.
In 1769, he moved to New Jersey, and from there joined the Continental Army. As the war ended in the early 1780s, Fitch was captured by a band of Native Americans while surveying land. While his captivity was short, the experience left an indelible impression on him: Fitch later claimed that the unique design of his first steamboat, which featured oar-like paddles instead of a paddle wheel, was inspired by the sight of dozens of Native Americans paddling canoes up the Kentucky river.

In 1787, with the help of a Philadelphian clockmaker, Fitch constructed a 45-foot-long working model of his steamboat and named it the Perseverance. On August 20, Fitch conducted a live demonstration of what is widely recognized as America’s first steamboat along the Delaware River, in front of delegates who were in Philadelphia as part of the Constitutional Convention. Impressed at the sight of the curious craft chugging up the river at a speed of four miles per hour, the delegates showered Fitch with plenty of praise — but little else.

Learn more about John Fitch and other interesting CT history facts by clicking here.

Manchester Little League Debut at the Little League World Series
The Manchester U-12 Little League All-Star team debuted at the Little League World Series on Thursday in the opening game in the Hank Aaron Championship bracket against West Regional champ Honolulu, HI. After a tough game, Manchester will move to an elimination game against Toms River, New Jersey on Saturday, August 21 at 3PM. Get the recap of Thursday's game here, and to tune in live to Saturday's game via ESPN, click here.
Manchester is making history as the first team from the town to make it to the Little League World Series – and only the 21st team from Connecticut to the World Series.
SNAP Benefits to Increase in October
On Monday, the Biden Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the approval a significant and permanent increase in the amount of food stamp assistance available to families in need.
The pandemic further confirmed what activists have been saying all along: inadequate assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) forced many households to simply go hungry as the funds dwindled toward the end of the month.
Starting in October, SNAP benefits will rise an average of 25 percent—a permanent change that will benefit our nation's 42 million SNAP beneficiaries. As a result, the average SNAP benefit – excluding additional funds provided as part of pandemic relief – will increase by $36.24 per person, per month, beginning October 1, 2021.
This additional assistance will help individuals and families maintain a healthy diet and keep food on the table both during and after these uncertain times.
To learn more about Connecticut's SNAP program, including information on how to apply for food assistance, click here.
Money for CT Working Families—Increased Earned Income Tax Credit
This session, I worked alongside my colleagues to pass a bipartisan budget which did not raise taxes and focused on putting more money in the pockets of hard-working Connecticut families through increased tax credits.
Under the newly enacted budget, the Earned Income Tax Credit increased from 23% to 30.5%. 
The Connecticut Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable state income tax credit for working individuals and families. Qualifying Connecticut workers can now deduct 30.5% of their earned income from their annual state taxes. To qualify, individuals must have an adjusted gross income that is less than:
  • $51,464 ($57,414 married filing jointly) with 3 or more qualifying children;
  • $47,915 ($53,865 married filing jointly) with 2 qualifying children;
  • $42,158 ($48,108 married filing jointly) with 1 qualifying child; or
  • $15,980 ($21,920 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children.

This increase will result in an additional $40 million delivered to the nearly 195,000 eligible households to assist with necessary expenses such as groceries, transportation, housing and more.
I am proud that our state budget supports the working families and residents across the state who were impacted most by the pandemic.

Operation Fuel Ready to Help with Utility Bills
Electricity costs tend to be at their highest during the summer months - so families struggle to pay their utility bills during this time. But there’s good news! Operation Fuel has funds available to help struggling families – right now – with programs for year-round energy assistance, water assistance, and homeless intervention and prevention, too.
Households whose income does not exceed 75% of the State Median Income Guidelines may qualify for assistance.
To apply online, visit Operation Fuel's secure portal here.
You can also connect with a fuel bank in your area. To schedule an appointment, enter your town in Operation Fuel’s Fuel Bank Finder. If you have questions or need assistance, call 860-243-2345.
Thanks to last year’s Take Back Our Grid Act (H.B. 7006), the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) is now empowered to direct fine money, paid by utility companies and suppliers for violations, to Operation Fuel, 100% of which goes directly to supporting residents in need.
Don't miss this opportunity to get help now if you're struggling to pay your utility bills. Operation Fuel is here to help. Learn more at operationfuel.org.
Manchester Road Race is Back – Registration Opens Sept. 1
Connecticut’s largest and oldest holiday run, the Manchester Road Race, will be back in-person this year on Thanksgiving Day, November 25 at 10AM! In preparation of its big return, the Manchester Road Race Committee announced this week that registration will open on September 1. The registration fee is $32 prior to October 1, and $37 thereafter. Walk-in entries can be made in person on November 20, 9AM-12PM at the MRR Sports Expo at Manchester High School. Registration closes at noon on November 23. No post entries will be accepted on race day.
In its 85th year, the race will offer a hybrid option for runners who want to participate virtually – those runners will use a new cell phone app to track and time their run for longevity streak purposes but will not be eligible to receive awards or recognition for record times. The virtual portion of the race will be held during a 36-hour period, starting at 6AM on Thanksgiving Day and ending at 6PM the following day (Friday, November 26).
Beginning on September 1, runners will be able to register online by clicking here.
Mark Your Calendars: East Hartford Senior Center Ribbon Cutting & Official Grand Opening
After much anticipation, the Town of East Hartford announced the plans for the ceremonial ribbon cutting and official grand opening of the new Senior Center, located at 15 Milbrook Drive. To prioritize health and safety, the ceremony will be split into two celebratory events:
  • Ceremonial Ribbon Cutting: Wednesday, September 15 at 11AM
  • Official Grand Opening: Wednesday, September 22 at 10:30AM

The $9.9 million project, designed by Christopher Williams of New Haven and constructed by Newfield Construction of Hartford, is complete with beautifully furnished rooms including an art room, game room, covered patio, relaxing lounge areas, group fitness room, weight and cardio machines, a large all-purpose room for games and movies, demonstration kitchen and commercial kitchen, and so much more. To learn all about the new Senior Center and the celebration, click here.  

COVID-19 Updates & Upcoming Vaccine Clinics
In response to remaining concerns about the uptick in cases and hospitalizations – in addition to the vaccination rates among young people (many children are still ineligible), earlier this week, Governor Ned Lamont announced that Connecticut K-12 students will be required to wear masks for at least the first month of school year. Currently, the Governor has issued the order through September 30, but left room for the policy to be extended should the situation not improve.

Manchester has joined the growing list of towns adjusting their mask mandates. Effective Friday, August 20 the town is requiring masks in public indoor spaces, the only exception is when people are eating, drinking or have a written medical exemption. All private businesses are required to have all employees wear masks.

Nationally, this week it was announced that subject to authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and sign off from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine could be available as soon as September 20. Officials are recommending a booster dose starting 8 months after an individual's second dose to ensure enhanced protection, especially as we face emerging variants. Initial booster does would be for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as officials are waiting on more data for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (which wasn't released to the public until March, so boosters aren't need until November at the earliest). To view the White House COVID-19 briefing announcement of these new guidelines, click here.
The Town of East Hartford is holding a free vaccination clinic at Seventh Day Adventist Church (1535 Forbes Street) on Saturday, August 21 from 1PM-5PM. Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson will be available. No appointments required and you are not required to show a form of ID to get vaccinated. The vaccine is free for all people living in the U.S., regardless of immigration or health insurance status. For more information, contact the East Hartford Health Department at (860) 291-7324.
With the start of school and fall sports right around the corner, make in-person learning a priority this school year by ensuring that children aged 12 and over follow CDC recommendations, and get the vaccine! To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for your child, call the East Hartford Health Department at (860) 291-7324, and for Manchester, call (860) 647-5235.

For more information on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine or to locate an appointment near you, click here or locate a DPH Mobile COVID-19 Vaccination clinic by clicking here. Those without access to the internet can call the Connecticut’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line, available seven days a week from 8 AM to 8 PM, at (877) 918-2224.
For East Hartford-based COVID-19 updates and resources, click here. And, for Manchester-based COVID-19 updates and resources, click here.

To finally beat this pandemic, it's so important that we continue the precautions that have worked: wear a face mask, observe social distancing, wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, get tested if you were in contact with anyone who's tested positive, etc. But, most importantly – please consider getting vaccinated if you haven't already.

The Manchester Historical Society is holding an open house at Woodbridge Farmstead (495 Middle Turnpike East) on Sunday, August 22 12PM-2PM. The town historian and local musicians will present a special program about summertime's past in Manchester at 12:30PM.
The Historical Society is also looking for volunteers on Tuesday, August 24 5:30PM-8:30PM to help paint the new exhibit space in the second room of the History Center. All skill levels and abilities are welcome, pizza and refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP by calling Ed Burzawa at (860) 306-8894.
Celebrate a job well done at the Children's Summer Reading Grand Finale on Tuesday, August 24 at 6:30PM at Manchester Public Library. Join Judi Jones for a musically fueled interactive hula hooping program designed to inspire and ignite creative movement, dance, exercise, self-expression and cooperative play. Participants will learn basic waist hooping tricks. This program will be outside near the Howroyd Room patio, weather permitting.
WORK_SPACE and ARSOME Technology is inviting Manchester Tech Companies and other interested parties in CT to bi-monthly gathering to support industry growth, innovation and each other on Wednesday, August 25 at 11AM. This month's meeting will feature Manny Rivera, SR Partner of Coinbridge Partners LLC, a Manchester-based bitcoin acquisition company will introduce the group to his business. To RSVP, please email szackin@manchesterct.gov.
Get ready to head back-to-school with a fresh haircut! East Hartford Police Department and Elexio's Barbershop (918 Main Street) will be offering FREE haircuts to elementary and middle school students on Monday, August 23, 8AM – 11AM. Walk-ins are welcome, no appointments required – participants will receive school supplies and backpacks, while supplies last. Current health and safety guidelines will be in place. Get more info be clicking here.
Intercommunity, Inc. is hosting a job fair on Thursday, August 26 12PM-3PM at 800 Connecticut Boulevard, East Hartford for several positions. Be prepared with your resume as on-site interviews will be conducted. Face masks are required.
Community Paint Day for East Hartford’s 1st Equity Mural is happening on Friday, August 27 2:30PM-5:30PM. Participants will meet at East Hartford Town Hall. If you have any questions or require additional information, email info@therisegroup.org.
My office is always open if you or your family are in need of assistance. Please do not hesitate to contact me by email at Jason.Rojas@cga.ct.gov or by phone at 860-240-8541.


Jason Rojas


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