Weekly Update - January 6

January 6, 2023


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Dear Neighbor, 

Sadly, what began as an exciting week as we welcomed the new year and gaveled in for a new legislative session ended in grief as we learned our friend and colleague, Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams was killed in a car accident early Thursday morning.

Rep. Williams was an amazing human being. His infectious smile could instantly make a difficult day better. He was an amazing husband, friend and colleague. He loved community and serving others. Truly - a friend to all who knew him. This is a terrible tragedy and a great loss to our state. 

I hope you will join me in sending love and thoughts to his wife, family, and all who had the honor of knowing Q. He will be deeply missed.

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 

The 2023 Legislative Session Has Begun! 

On Wednesday, we officially opened the 2023 legislative session! I was honored to experience my 8th swearing-in ceremony (and 15th opening day!) - it continues to be an amazing honor to represent our communities at the State Capitol. I can’t express my gratitude to my family, friends, community and state enough.

And just a reminder that in addition to watching session and public hearings on CT-N, there are numerous ways for you to stay engaged in our state's democracy. Below are just some of the resources available to you as the 2023 legislative session gets underway:

  • Visit the CGA website to view a daily schedule of events, access committee information, find your State Senator or State Representative, and more.
  • Read the Bulletin to find out when committees are meeting, how to provide public hearing testimony, and more.
  • Register for the CGA's Bill Tracking system to follow any bill as it moves through the legislative process. You will receive notifications when the bill's status changes.
  • For information on how to testify on a bill that is up for a public hearing, click here.
  • Access the CGA's Citizen's Guide for more on how you can become part of the process
  • Are you curious about how your tax dollars are spent? The State Comptroller's OpenConnecticut web portal allows residents to track state government spending in real time

Your concerns and opinions are fundamental to the legislative process. Please continue to reach out to me to share your thoughts, ideas, and questions. 

CT-N: Connecticut House of Representatives 2023 Legislative Session Opening Day
CT-N: 2023 Inauguration Day Swearing-In Ceremony for Governor Ned Lamont and the State's Constitutional Officers
CT-N: Governor Lamont's 2023 Opening Day Address to the General Assembly

Op-Ed: Housing must be at forefront of our collective CT agenda

I penned an op-ed for the Hartford Courant, Housing must be at forefront of our collective CT agenda, outlining the need to address Connecticut’s housing affordability crisis during the legislative session. To tackle Connecticut’s housing crisis — it’s going to take work from all of us, together. There is no “one size fits all solution” or a state takeover of local decision making. Local leaders and community advocates must have a seat at the table but must also be honest and open-minded in working to find the most effective solutions.

To read the entire op-ed, click the link below.

Jason Rojas: Housing must be at forefront of our collective CT agenda

Today in CT History: A Can-Do Connectican Invents the Can Opener

In the early 1800s, responding to Napoleon’s request to find a more efficient way to feed his armies in the field, French inventor Nicholas Appert discovered that heating food stored in glass jars would sterilize it, keeping it safe to eat for long periods of time. Shortly thereafter, Englishman Peter Durand invented a similar food storage method involving sealing food in iron cans lined with tin. The canning process revolutionized the way people throughout the Western world stored and ate their food, introducing an inexpensive way to preserve food for long periods without altering its taste. However, the earliest “tin cans” proved to be unwieldy and difficult to use. They were made of thick wrought iron that required sharp tools and a great amount of force to open.

By the 1850s, the cans used for storing food had become thinner and lighter, with most using a thin layer of tin-lined steel instead of iron. Still, most people still required a hammer and chisel to open them and access the food inside. But then, a clever Connecticut Yankee found a way to make canned food more accessible and practical by creating a device dedicated to opening these “tin cans.”

On January 5, 1858, Waterbury native Ezra J. Warner received a U.S. patent for the first-ever can opener. It was a simple one-handed tool that used a “bayonet and sickle” design to cut through the lid of tin cans: the “bayonet” would pierce the lid, while the “sickle” blade cut a jagged line around the circumference of the lid.


While Warner’s design wasn’t ideal — the jagged edge it left behind was dangerously sharp — it solved the decades-old problem of finding a simple and easy way to open canned food. Warner’s can opener would be replaced by more popular and improved designs later in the 19th century, but until then, it was commonly used by thousands of Americans, from Civil War soldiers to everyday grocers, to make their lives a little easier.


Thanks to Ezra Warner, an everyday necessity once again proved to be the mother of Connecticut invention, today in Connecticut history.


For more on Ezra Warner or other interesting Connecticut historic figures, click here.

Don’t Miss MCC’s “Enroll in a Day” Event on Saturday 

Join Manchester Community College (MCC) tomorrow, January 7 from 9AM-2PM for a special enrollment period - and literally, enroll in a day! Whether you need assistance with applying, getting accepted, financial aid or registering for classes, the student services staff can help you through the whole process!


To participate, enter through the Student Service Center Building (SSC) and proceed to the enrollment services offices. Please bring or upload any required documents (MMRV immunizations, high school transcripts, college transcript etc.) so that MCC staff can be sure we have everything to get you signed up for classes!


Click here for more information.

Reminder - Town Guidelines for Tree Disposal

In East Hartford, All American Waste crews will be picking up Christmas trees through Friday, January 13, weather-permitting. Collection of the trees generally occurs on the same day as trash collection. Trees should be placed on the curb near trash bins with no plastic bags or decorations.


For more information click here or call the East Hartford Public Works at (860) 291-7374.

In Manchester, residents are reminded that Christmas trees can be left out for curbside pickup through Friday, January 13.


After January 13, trees must be brought to the Transfer Station. Note that trees contaminated with plastic bags, ornaments, lights or stands will not be collected. Transfer Station hours of operation are Tuesday-Saturday, 7:15AM-2:30PM.


Manchester residents can bring recyclables to the Transfer Station after applying online for the free Residential Recycling Permit and can also purchase punch cards to pay for the disposal of other eligible items. More information can be found here.

Calling East Hartford Residents - Take the Digital Access Survey 

The Town of East Hartford is partnering with several regional workforce development leaders in a national cohort called Reinventing Our Communities. That cohort is looking to expand opportunities that achieve equity and a growing economy in East Hartford - and digital access and navigation are important elements to growing an inclusive local economy. 

To help their efforts, East Hartford residents are asked to complete the digital access survey found here - your responses will greatly help their efforts. Note that this survey is anonymous and any data you share will not be associated with you or any individual identifying information.

New Manchester Website for Investors & Stakeholders 

The Town of Manchester launched a new website for potential investors and stakeholders looking to invest in issued bonds by the Town. These bond issuances allow the Town to finance investments in public infrastructure throughout Manchester. 

The goal of the website is to offer a transparent and accessible avenue for the community and potential investors to seek information on the Town's financial reporting. Find the new website here.

There’s Still Time to Sign Up for East Hartford Youth Service’s Winter Programming

The East Hartford Youth Services Department will continue to offer virtual and in-person services and programming in the new year! Upcoming groups and programs include:

  • Zentangle, Tuesdays from 6PM-7PM via Zoom (January 24 - May 30): an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. Appropriate for almost all ages, younger folks will need more hands-on help/guidance – great for families and individuals. Register by clicking here.
  • Boys Council Group, Wednesdays 6:30PM-7:45PM in-person (January 24-April 19; no groups on March 15 and April 12): Boys Council is a group approach to help boys ages 10-12 explore and learn about themselves, others, and the world. The group facilitator is bilingual (Spanish and English); group limited to 12 participants. Register by clicking hereregistration closes February 24.
  • Girls Circle Group, Wednesdays 6:30PM-7:45PM in-person (January 24-April 19; no groups on March 15 and April 12): Girls Circle is a group approach to help girls ages 10-12 explore and learn about themselves, others, and the world. Group limited to 12 participants. Register by clicking hereregistration closes February 24.

Additionally, the department’s professional staff and interns offer confidential counseling to youth and their families in a wide variety of areas by appointment only. Call to schedule an appointment at (860) 291-7179 or do complete the online referral form found here.

COVID-19 Updates & Upcoming Vaccine Clinics

The East Hartford Health Department will now be offering regular vaccination services at the Community Cultural Center beginning Tuesday, January 10. Both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 bivalent boosters, as well as Flu, will be offered for all ages 12+. Appointments are required and will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10AM-2PM. To schedule an appointment, call (860) 291-7324 (option 1).

Free COVID-19 test kits are also available at the East Hartford Health Department's new location in Room B09 of the Community Cultural Center. Testing 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.

The Manchester Health Department has a limited supply of free COVID-19 test kits for distribution. Residents may stop by the Manchester Customer Service Information Center (41 Center Street – open Monday-Friday 8:30AM-5PM) or the Senior Center (549 Middle Turnpike E – open Monday-Friday 8:30AM-4:30PM) during regular business hours to pick up kits (2 per household, while supplies last).


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.

Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz is planning a ceremony to honor Manchester’s Vietnam Era Veterans who served from 1961-1975 by presenting certificates of appreciation. Manchester’s Town Clerk, Darryl Thames is developing an invitation list for the event and needs your help.

If you or someone you know is a Vietnam Era Veteran meeting the criteria above, please send contact Information to dthames@manchesterct.gov, or call (860) 647-3037. For more information, click here.

The Manchester Public Library is pleased to host the Maple Syrup Producers Association of Connecticut for “Backyard Maple Sugaring” on Thursday, January 19 at 6:30PM in the Howroyd Room of the main library. Learn how to start making your own "backyard maple syrup,” topics covered will include everything from finding a maple tree to bottling your delicious homemade syrup. No registration is required for this free program. For more information on this event, please call (860) 645-0821 or click here.

Join the Manchester Recreation Division for a free and fun community event intended to provide a safe and fun space for people to take a break from the winter blues on Saturday, January 21 from 11AM-1PM at Northwest Park. Take a breath of fresh air, smile and be able to enjoy this time of year despite all the obstacles that have been placed before us. What better way to stay safe, stay happy and stay connected than a walk in the park and discover something unexpected. Click here to learn more and check out the great activities planned.

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 this 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. 

Click here to sign up - online registration ends on Saturday at 4:30PM. 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.

Interested in learning English, or earning your high school diploma? There's still time to register for the Spring 2023 semester at East Hartford Adult Education! In-person registration will be held at Raymond Library from 10AM-2PM and at East Hartford High School from 4PM-6:30PM on January 10, 11, and 12. To schedule a registration appointment, click here

If you need more information, call (860) 622-5355 or click here.

Stop by the East Hartford Public Library’s Makerspace on Thursday, January 12 at 6PM for an artist spotlight of Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Together, you’ll be making self-portraits by collaging items you don’t usually think of when you see a portrait. No registration required,suited for all ages.

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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