Weekly Update - January 13

January 13, 2023


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Dear Neighbor, 

As we reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend, I'm again inspired to watch his speeches and appreciate the gift that Dr. King continues to be.


Last year, I highlighted a speech he gave at Stanford in 1967 that still rings true: “There is a need for fair housing laws all over our country. And it is tragic indeed that Congress last year allowed this bill to die. And when that bill died in Congress, a bit of democracy died, a bit of our commitment to justice died... And the only way this problem will be solved is by the nation taking a strong stand, and by state governments taking a strong stand against housing segregation and against discrimination in all of these areas.”

My hope is that you'll take some time to learn about Dr. King's legacy and commit to helping to continue his work. As we move through the legislative session, it is my hope to continue the work he began as an advocate for fair housing.

Please note the state and local offices will be closed Monday, January 16 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

In both East Hartford and Manchester, all town offices will be closed Monday and reopen for regularly scheduled hours of operation on Tuesday, January 17. 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 

Legislators Begin Introducing Bill Concepts for the 2023 Session

The work of the 2023 legislative session is off and rolling as legislators begin to introduce their bill concepts. Several proposals have been introduced this year, and while only a small percentage will actually make it to the House and Senate floors, the introduced concepts serve an important role as a base to the Committee's draft bills.


Among the introduced concepts this year, there are also some that we've seen before – such as increasing prevailing wage thresholds and of course, the infamous "Tesla Bill" is back to allow electric car dealers to sell directly to consumers.

It's also not uncommon to see some bills inspired by our neighbors. Last month, we saw New York Governor Kathy Hochul sign legislation which legalizes natural organic reduction, popularly known as "human composting" or more technically known as "terramation." New York became the sixth state in the nation to allow for this method of burial, and Connecticut could join the trend as Rep. Keith Denning introduced the concept this year.


In committees with early deadlines, like the Committee on Children, we are already seeing them work on their "concepts to raise" – the decision to take a concept and create the actual language for the Committee's bill. In addition to a few other concepts, the Committee on Children intends to pursue legislation to establish a task force to study equipment safety in youth sports.


And – there are always the seemingly random bills, like a proposal to prohibit the sale of dead kangaroos.


I'd like to know, what do you think about these issues?

WSHU: Bipartisanship is a priority for leaders in Connecticut's 2023 legislative session
CT News Junkie: Lawmakers Submit a Multitude of Bills at the Outset of Long Legislative Session
CT Post: CT committee to consider task force on youth sports safety following hockey injury

Adult-Use Cannabis Sales Begin as First Seven Dispensaries Open

On Tuesday, the adult-use cannabis marketplace officially opened as the first seven licensed retailers were permitted to begin selling cannabis products. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (CTDCP) reported more than a quarter of a million dollars in sales on the first day.


The retailers in Connecticut that have been licensed to sell cannabis products to all adults aged 21 and older include:

  • Affinity Health and Wellness (New Haven)
  • The Botanist – Danbury (Danbury)
  • The Botanist – Montville (Montville)
  • Fine Fettle Dispensary – Newington (Newington)
  • Fine Fettle Dispensary – Stamford (Stamford)
  • Fine Fettle Dispensary – Willimantic (Willimantic)
  • RISE Branford (formerly Bluepoint Wellness of Connecticut) (Branford)
  • Still River Wellness (Torrington)
  • Zen Leaf Meriden (formerly Willow Brook Wellness) (Meriden)

For more information about adult-use cannabis in Connecticut, visit ct.gov/cannabis.


I'd like to know, what do you think about this issue?

NBC CT: Architect of CT Cannabis Bill Talks About Our State's Retail Rollout
Hartford Courant: From THC and CBD to edibles and tinctures: Here is everything you need to know about cannabis for opening day in CT
Press Release: Governor Lamont Announces Start of Adult-Use Cannabis Sales at Connecticut’s First Group of Licensed Retailers

Today in CT History: Bob Dylan’s “Strangest and Longest” Concert Ever

Today in 1990, in a final warm-up, or perhaps the kick-off, to a tour that would see him present multiple concerts in the United States, Brazil, France and England in under 30 days, rock legend and Nobel Prize laureate Bob Dylan played what one reporter called “the strangest and longest show of his career” before 700 historically lucky fans at Toad’s Place in New Haven. Expected to only play one set when the normally reclusive and audience-shy singer stepped on stage at 8:45 pm, Dylan surprised everyone when he offered to do a second set, then a third, and finally a fourth, concluding the unprecedented performance at 2:20am.  The last song, the classic “Like a Rolling Stone,” had been preceded by a figurative “last call” from the bar more than hour earlier. Because state drinking laws required establishments serving alcohol to close at 1am, the waitstaff had collected all the drinks from the tables before the final set began.

Dylan and back-up guitarist G E Smith (a New Haven native), bassist Tony Garnier and drummer Christopher Parker performed a total of fifty songs that night, which covered the entire gamut of Dylan’s career. The uncharacteristically outgoing and relaxed performer also took requests from the audience and played covers of songs such as Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing’ in the Dark,” Hank Williams’ “Lonesome Whistle,” and Joe South’s “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.”  Overall, the concert lasted four hours and fifty minutes. Commenting on a bootleg audio tape of the performance, reviewer Wade Tatangelo wrote “a good portion of this show sounds like Dylan, perhaps a bit tipsy, doing karaoke, and it’s a joy to hear.”  Another reviewer wrote, “This is the kind of concert you need to listen to at least once in your lifetime to understand why people love Dylan so much.”


Dylan’s performance added luster to the already sterling reputation of Toad’s Place as one of the nation’s great music venues. The York Street music emporium, in the shadows of the Yale campus, had hosted The Rolling Stones in what music critic Randall Beach has called the greatest rock concert in Connecticut history in August 1989.  Though its 700-person capacity makes it a relatively small venue for major acts, its reputation has long helped it punch above its weight in its ability to draw name performers.  In 2015 USA Today named Toad’s Place the best small music venue in the country.


Dylan’s January 1990 concert at Toad’s Place lives on in an audio tape of the performance that has long circulated on the internet. It is a lasting tribute to one of the greatest, longest, perhaps strangest, and certainly most memorable musical events in Connecticut history.


If you'd like to learn more about Dylan's Toad's Place concert and other interesting CT historical facts, click here.

Manchester Fire Department's "Pit Crew CPR" Featured on FOX 61

After Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin's scary on-field cardiac arrest, the importance of learning CPR has been a national topic. This week, FOX 61 featured the Manchester Fire Department's continued training of what's known as “Pit Crew CPR” – as it's pulled from the NASCAR Playbook.


Through this tactic, which Manchester First Responders have been using for years, when responding to a cardiac arrest each person is given a role to perform before they arrive on the scene to ensure the most efficient process.


Learn more about MFD's training here – and if you are interested in learning CPR, consider signing up for an upcoming American Red Cross training.

East Hartford Town Hall Renovations – Tax Collector's Office Update

A reminder to East Hartford residents that because of the ongoing Town Hall renovations, the Tax Collector's Office will not offer in-person services until further notice. As of now, the Tax Collector’s Office will be accessible to the public via telephone at (860) 291-7250 and by email at TaxCollect@easthartford.gov.


If you need to pay your taxes, you can do so by using the pre-printed envelope enclosed in your bill and place payments in the drop-box located at 50 Chapman Place (see the image above for the exact location). Town staff empties the drop-box twice daily to expedite clearance for taxpayers – first thing in the morning and by 2PM each afternoon. Taxes can also be paid online here.

Manchester Bicentennial Celebration: Call for Artists

As we reflect upon the first 200 years of Manchester and look toward the next century, Lutz Children’s Museum, the Manchester Historical Society and WORK_SPACE are inviting artists to share their talents to mark this momentous occasion. Each organization's exhibit is bringing a slightly different piece to the celebration: Manchester Historical Society will present "THE PAST," Lutz Children's Museum will host "THE PRESENT," and WORK_SPACE is "THE FUTURE."

The Galleries @ WORK_SPACE is now accepting submissions for their exhibit, which will feature up to five pieces of art from professional and emerging artists from the Town of Manchester. The deadline to submit is March 27; the exhibit "The Future of Manchester," will be open April 7-May 31.


To submit your piece to WORK_SPACE, complete the form that is found here.

Reminder to 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 grow East Hartford's economy. Digital access and navigation are important elements to that work. 

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

Register Now for Manchester Winter Playgroups

Registration is open for the Manchester Recreation Department's Winter Playgroups at Northwest Park Early Childhood Center (448 Tolland Turnpike). The following groups are available:

  • Play & Learn Nursey Rhymes (12–23-month-olds) – Mondays, 9:30AM-11AM
  • Play & Learn to Count & Craft with Artic Animals (24-25-month-olds) – Tuesdays, 9:30AM-11AM
  • Play & Learn About the Five Senses (3 & 4-year-olds) – Thursdays, 9:30AM-11AM

Register now by calling the Recreation Department at (860) 647-3084. Playgroups are $36 for residents and $44 for non-residents.

East Hartford Commission on Culture & Fine Arts Schedules 15th Foreign Film Series

The East Hartford Commission on Culture & Fine Arts presents their 15th series of Foreign Films on the third Saturdays of the month starting January-April (January 21, February 18, March 18, and April 15) at 7PM at the Community Cultural Center. Admission is free, and the East Hartford Summer Youth Festival will be selling concessions, including popcorn.

For the opening event on Sunday, January 21, the commission will feature the Finnish film “Compartment No. 6” (rated R). The three other films in the series are: “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” (Bhutan; February), “Made in Bangladesh” (March) and “The Last Tree” (UK & Nigeria; April).


For more information, click here.

COVID-19 Updates & Upcoming Vaccine Clinics

The East Hartford Health Department will now be offering regular vaccination services at the Community Cultural Center. 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).


The White House relaunched 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.

The South Windsor Community Band will present “Winter Wonder” – a blend of beloved winter tunes and pops classics on Friday, January 13, 7PM at the SBM Charitable Foundation, Inc. Auditorium at Manchester Community College.  The concert is free, though donations will be accepted. For more information, 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.

Carol Ansel, Director of the Godfrey Library in Middletown, will be at Manchester Public Library on Monday, January 30 at 6:30PM to help you navigate the latest census to be available. You'll learn what is and isn't available, and more. No registration is required for this free program for adults.

Think you know your stuff? Dust off the winter blues and join East Hartford Public Library on Thursday, January 12 at 6:30 PM for a night of trivia on all matters large and great, small and silly! Participants will need a second device to submit answers to the trivia questions through the Kahoot! app or website. Best suited for adults and older teens – registration is required, save your spot by clicking here.

For this year's East Hartford Lions Club Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Book Drive, the organization is focusing on promoting pre-teen and teen books by Latino/Hispanic and African American authors. The presentation of the books will be held on Saturday, January 14 at 12PM at the Raymond Library.

Are you thinking of taking the next step and opening your own small business? Are you in business already and interested in learning more about the resources available to you?


Join the Town of East Hartford Development Department, SCORE, and the Connecticut River Valley Chamber of Commerce at the library for Small Business Support open hours on Friday, January 20, 10:30AM-12:30PM. Learn about help available for both aspiring and established small business owners and speak with professionals.


Register here for a reminder, and to be notified of event updates, including featured partners. Walk-ins welcome!

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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