Weekly Update - December 23

December 23, 2022

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Dear Neighbor, 

I'm wishing you and your loved ones a great start to the holiday weekend! Please note that state and local offices will be closed on Monday, December 26 in observance of Christmas Day.

In East Hartford, town offices will be closed Monday and reopen for regularly scheduled hours of operation on Tuesday, December 27. In Manchester, town offices will be closed both today, Friday, December 23, and Monday, December 26, reopening for regularly scheduled hours of operation on Tuesday.
Curbside trash pickup in both towns will not be affected by the closings. For more information, East Hartford residents can click here and Manchester residents can click here.
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 

U.S. House Passes Puerto Rico Status Act
Late last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to determine Puerto Rico's political Territory known as "The Puerto Rico Status Act." The bill has been at the center of lawmaker's debates for decades now. If passed into law, the legislation would offer Puerto Rico residents three options - statehood, independence or independence followed by free association with the United States.
This would be a significant step as it would mean negotiations over foreign affairs, U.S. citizenship and the use of the U.S. dollar. As it stands now Puerto Ricans on the island, while they’re American citizens, don’t realize all the same benefits, don’t have representation in Congress, and can’t vote for President.
Myself and my colleagues from the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus spoke with FOX 61 about the significance of this bill passage. Unfortunately, given the legislative calendar, it appears unlikely that the measure will be taken up in the US Senate this year.
I would like to know, what do you think of this issue?
FOX 61: Connecticut lawmakers react to U.S. House passing Puerto Rico Status Act
The New York Times: House Passes Bill That Could Pave the Way for Puerto Rican Statehood
MSNBC: House bill paves the way for Puerto Rican statehood
Governor Lamont Activates Severe Cold Weather Protocol Friday-Monday
Based on this weekend's weather forecast, Governor Ned Lamont activated the state's cold weather protocol beginning this morning, Friday at 6AM through 12PM on Monday, December 26. This is the first time the protocol is being enacted during the 2022-2023 winter season.
The purpose of the protocol is to ensure that the most vulnerable populations receive protection from the severe cold conditions, which could be life threatening if exposed to the elements for extended periods of time. While enacted, a system is set up for state agencies and municipalities to coordinate with United Way 2-1-1 and Connecticut’s network of shelters to make sure that anyone in need can receive shelter from the outdoors, including transportation to shelters.
Anyone in need is urged to call 2-1-1 to get connected to these services. Please also know that safety measures have been enacted at shelters and warming centers throughout Connecticut to adhere to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
For emergency management news and resources, visit the state’s CTPrepares website at ct.gov/ctprepares or download the CTPrepares app to mobile devices at the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Press Release: Governor Lamont Activates Severe Cold Weather Protocol From Friday to Monday
WTNH: Gov. Lamont activates severe cold weather protocol for 1st time this winter
WFSB: Gov. Lamont activates severe cold weather protocol for CT
Today in CT History: Newgate Prison Jails Its First Inmate. But Not For Long.
Today in 1773, Newgate Prison, the first penal institution to open in Connecticut, received its very first prisoner: 20-year-old John Hinson, who had been convicted of burglary and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. Newgate Prison was built on the site of a former copper mine in East Granby which had opened in 1705 as one of Connecticut’s first large-scale industrial ventures and the first chartered copper mine in the American colonies. After the mine went bust in the mid-18th century, colonial authorities figured the various tunnels bored deep into the hillside would be ideal for housing prisoners convicted of serious crimes like burglary, adultery, and murder.
Captain John Viets, whose family homestead was located across the road from the former copper mine, was the first overseer of the new prison. He and the colonial authorities who had constructed the prison were confident that the design of the converted mining tunnels – located below vertical shafts that were 25 and 60 feet deep — would render it impossible for inmates to escape.
Viets was quickly proven wrong, however, as John Hinson managed to escape only 18 days after he was admitted to Newgate Prison. In a letter to the General Assembly defending themselves, the prison’s three guards swore that Hinson must have had an accomplice lower him a rope down one of the mineshafts, since escape would be impossible otherwise. Viets was forced to place an ad in the Connecticut Courant offering $10 to anyone who could assist in the apprehension of the fugitive Hinson – an offer that ultimately went unclaimed.
Hinson’s escape led to a number of changes at the newly opened prison, including the hiring of more guards and the placing of larger, more extensive fences around the prison site. These included a 12-foot-high stone wall that can still be seen today.
Hinson was not the only prisoner to make a bold and successful escape from Newgate Prison; within a few decades, the institution had developed a dubious reputation for terrible security as prisoner escapes – and ads offering rewards for the escapees’ return – became common. In the 50 years Newgate operated as a prison, nearly 10 percent of its inmates managed to escape. Some inmates, like serial offender Richard Steel, managed to escape several times. During the American Revolution, Loyalists were held at Newgate Prison, a move denounced as unnecessarily cruel by supporters of the King. Increased concern about security issues and the rising costs of maintaining the old prison site motivated state officials to close prison operations at Newgate in 1827 and transfer all of its prisoners to a newly built State Prison in Wethersfield.
Today, the Newgate Prison and Copper Mines site is once again seasonally open to the public as a historic museum, after an extensive, nine-year restoration to help stabilize the old stone ruins above ground and old mining shafts below ground. The site is managed by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Cultural Development.
If you'd like to learn more about Newgate Prison and other interesting CT historical figures, click here.
Reminder: Access Health CT Enrollment Deadline Approaching
As you may be aware, Access Health CT's (AHCT) enrollment period is underway and open until January 15! This is the time to renew coverage and explore policy options that work best for you.
Open Enrollment is the time you can enroll your health insurance plan or stand-alone dental insurance plan. You can also enroll in both at the same time. We encourage everyone to shop and compare plans this year – make sure you have the right plan for you for 2023 and get all the financial help you can.
The Open Enrollment Period for 2023 coverage is open now through January 15, 2023.
The date you enroll determines when your health and/or dental coverage will start:
  1. For coverage starting February 1, 2023, you must complete your application and enroll now through January 15, 2023.
  2. Connecticut residents that are eligible for the new Covered Connecticut Program can enroll at any time. Your coverage will start on the first of the month after you complete your application and enroll in the Program.

You can enroll in coverage any time of year if you:

  1. Are an American Indian or Alaska Native;
  2. Qualify for HUSKY Health (Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)); 
  3. Have a life changing event – like losing health coverage through your job, getting married, having a baby, or moving to Connecticut – that qualifies you for a regular Special Enrollment Period; or
  4. Become eligible for the Covered Connecticut Program or the Special Enrollment Period for Residents with Lower Income

Visit Access Health CT for more information. 

Register Now: Manchester Youth Service Bureau Winter Break Programming
Manchester Youth Service Bureau is offering some great programming options for kids during the winter break! But don't wait – space is limited, and registration is required for all programs.
Relax, Restore, Renew – Tuesday, December 27, 9AM-3:30PM
Out with the old and in with the new! Come and take some time to unwind and get excited for the year to come. Make your own vision board, try Zumba, and do some self-care. Reflect on 2022 and plan our goals for 2023. Offered at YSB (63 Linden Street), lunch provided – best suited for ages 10-13. To register call Samantha Bell at (860) 647-5260 or email sbell@manchesterct.gov
Family Ice Skating Trip – Wednesday, December 28, 10AM-1PM
Looking for something fun to do over break? Whether you love ice skating or it’s your first time, bring the whole family for open skate with the Youth Service Bureau to the South Windsor Arena (transportation from YSB provided)! To register call Kellie Gauvin at (860) 647-5262 or email ksheridan@manchesterct.gov. For children 5+ accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Noon Years for Teens – Wednesday, December 28, 10AM-3:30PM
New years at noon! Wear your best New Year’s outfits and get ready to work on resolutions, reflect on the past year, and celebrate life. YSB will also be having a vision board competition with great prizes, and a special sparkling cider toast at 12PM. For ages 14-18, lunch provided. To register call Tasha Weston at (860) 647-5212 or email tweston@manchesterct.gov.
Hammonasset Trip – Thursday, December 29, 9AM-3PM
Come for an exciting day venturing to Hammonasset beach to explore nature, bird watch, and beach comb. For ages 10+, transportation and lunch provided! To register call Pete Wlochowski at (860) 647-5213.
Flight Trampoline Park – Thursday, December 29, 9AM-3PM
Jump out of your socks with the youth services bureau as we bounce over to Flight Trampoline Park! For ages 10-11, participants should dress comfortably for athletic movements; lunch will be served after. To register call Shakir Leacock at (860) 647-5223 or email sleacock@manchesterct.gov.
Taco Party – Friday, December 30, 12PM-4:30PM
Join us down at the teen center for a day of discussion and crazy cuisine creations as everyone will make the taco (or burrito) of their wildest dreams! For ages 10+. To register call Shakir Leacock at (860) 647-5223 or email sleacock@manchesterct.gov.
First Phase of East Hartford Town Hall Move Complete!
The Town of East Hartford has successfully completed phase one of the Town Hall move! The following departments will now be located at the Community Cultural Center (50 Chapman Place):
  • Tax Collector
  • Assessors
  • Finance Department
  • Purchasing
  • Town Council Office
  • Health Department
  • Voter Registration

The following departments will not have in-person services available:
Tax Collector
Phone: (860) 291-7250
Email: tax@easthartfordct.gov
Phone: (860) 291-7260
Email: assessor@easthartfordct.gov
Finance Department
Phone: (860) 291-7240
For more information on the move, and current progress, click here.

Manchester Receives Excellence in Finance Report Award
The Town of Manchester has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for its annual comprehensive annual report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.
The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management. The report has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report.
To view the Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports, click here.
East Hartford Parks and Recreation Announces Winter Adult Classes
East Hartford Parks and Recreation will continue to offer the following adult programs beginning in early 2023:
Adult Aqua Zumba – Mondays and Thursdays, 5:30PM-6:30PM at the East Hartford Middle School Pool
The winter session includes 16 classes taught by instructors from Eliza's Energy Source. Pre-registration is required and open now – the program is $64 for residents and non-residents. Classes begin Monday, January 9.
Adult Zumba and Yogalates – Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Sunset Ridge Middle School Gymnasium (Zumba is 6PM-7PM, Yogalates is (7:15PM-8PM)
The winter session includes 20 classes taught by instructors from Eliza's Energy Source. Pre-registration is required and open now – the program is $80 for residents and non-residents. Classes begin Tuesday, January 10.
For more information on available adult classes, click here or call the Parks and Recreation Department at (860) 291-7160.
COVID-19 Updates & Upcoming Vaccine Clinics
The East Hartford Health Department has free COVID-19 test kits available. To get a kit, visit the Health Department at their new location in Room B09 of the Community Cultural Center. Especially ahead of traveling and gathering for the holidays – test is recommended for any individual currently experiencing symptoms or think they have been exposed to COVID-19 (i.e., fever, dry cough, and tiredness). For guidance on how to use the kits, click here.
For any questions regarding pediatric COVID-19 vaccines, booster dose eligibility, or to schedule an appointment at an upcoming clinic, contact the East Hartford Health Department at (860) 291-7324. If transportation is needed to get to and from a clinic site, please contact the Health Department for assistance. 
This week, the White House released their "COVID-19 Winter Preparedness Plan" which will relaunch the program making free at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests available to every U.S. household. Just as before, you can order tests through COVIDTests.gov and enter your shipping information. Every U.S. household is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-⁠19 tests.
The Administration will also make tests available to individuals who are blind or have low vision through this program. People who have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support placing an order can call +1 (800) 232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages – 8AM-8PM E.T., Monday to Friday and 8AM-5PM E.T. on weekends.
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.
Join the Manchester Public Library for a snowtastic afternoon of story, singing, games and fun with the Snow Sisters of Simply Enchanted on Wednesday, December 28 at 2PM. A meet and greet will follow the performance. For more information, call (860) 645-0577.
Members of the Cheney Brothers National Historic District Commission will host a free walking tour on Sunday, January 1 at 1PM. The walk will begin at Fuss & O'Neill (146 Hartford Road – parking will be available here). Find out more about the Great Lawn and its former residents on this one-and-a-quarter-hour walk, which will proceed along streets and lawn to view historic mansions and the nine-acre property purchased by the Town in 2005 for open space and historic preservation.
There is some steep and uneven ground, so participants should wear sturdy shoes or boots. Extreme weather cancels, but the walk will be held in light rain or snow flurries, so please bring an umbrella. Learn more by clicking here.
DJ Dale of Into the Groove will be at the Nathan Hale Activity Center on Friday, January 13 at 6PM to put the FUN in Family Fun Night! Experience a great mix of family-friendly music, juggling and interactive dancing. No cost or registration required – all ages welcome.
Stop by East Hartford Public Library on Thursday, December 29 at 3PM to learn how to recycle old DVD cases into board games you can close and take with you wherever you go. Best suited for grades 3-8. Registration required – reserve your spot by clicking here.
Get ready to ring the new year with family friendly activities at East Hartford Public Library on Friday, December 30 at 11AM! Make hats, noise makers, and more -- and then count down to 2023 at noon. Best suited for families with children ages 3 – 12. Registration required; sign-up be clicking here.
The Town of East Hartford has announced the 30th running of the Annual Officer Brian A. Aselton Memorial Snow Dash 5K Road Race, sponsored by the East Hartford Parks and Recreation Department and the East Hartford Police Department will be held on Sunday, January 8 at 1:30PM. Proceeds benefit the East Hartford Police Department Child Safety and Crime Prevention Programs and the Officer Brian Aselton Scholarship Fund. 

Registration is open now - click here to sign up. Day of registration must be completed using the online RunSignUp, no paper registration forms. For more information, please contact Recreation Supervisor, Jonathan Cooper at (860) 291-7164.

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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