Weekly Update - January 27

January 27, 2023


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Dear Neighbor, 

To diversify the insurance broker community in our state, Access Health CT has established the Broker Academy Program to create a pathway for newly licensed insurance brokers by recruiting from and building the skillset of those who live and work in underserved communities throughout Connecticut. 

The Broker Academy provides free training for selected students to become licensed brokers and covers the cost of their licensing exam. You can learn more by visiting the Broker Academy's website or by attending an upcoming virtual informational session. The next session is on Tuesday, February 7 from 6PM-7PM. Registration is required.

Register Now

Applications for the program will open on Monday, February 27. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 31. Should you have questions or require additional information, email AHCT.BrokerAcademy@ct.gov

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 

Wednesday's House Session

The House was in Session on Wednesday to approve several executive and judicial nominations, as well as approve a new four-year contract for the Connecticut State Police.


The contract, which was approved on a bipartisan basis, includes a 2.5 percent wage increase and a lump sum bonus of $3,500. With the intention of promoting recruitment efforts, the agreement also increases the base pay for trooper trainees and raises the rate for existing law enforcement workers hired by the State Police who attend the Connecticut Police Academy.


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

The Middletown Press: General Assembly approves raises in new four-year contract for CT State Police
CT News Junkie: General Assembly Approves Contract To Improve State Police Recruitment
List of Bills Passed – 2023 Regular Session

New Fund Announced to Assist Renters Facing Eviction

This week, the Connecticut Department of Housing launched a new fund to assist renters who are on the verge of being evicted from their homes due to owing past due rent. Known as the "Eviction Prevention Fund," it will utilize funds from UniteCT and the Rent Bank to provide households up to $5,000 to pay off past due rent with current landlords.


To apply, tenants must call the UniteCT Call Center at +1 (844) 864-8328 and be screened for eligibility. Eligible applicants will receive direct assistance from a local UniteCT Resource Center, where they will complete the application. If a tenant requires but does not have legal representation, access to mediators at Quinnipiac University’s Center on Dispute Resolution will be provided.


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

Press Release: Governor Lamont Announces Launch of Fund to Assist Renters From Being Evicted From Homes Due To Overdue Rent
New Haven Independent: State Sets Up $12.5M Eviction Prevention Fund
WFSB: New fund to help CT renters who are on the verge of eviction

CT Teacher Named Finalist for the 2023 National Teacher of the Year

Governor Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker announced that Carolyn Kielma – a science teacher from Bristol Eastern High School has been named as one of five finalists under consideration to become the 2023 National Teacher of the Year, the nation’s highest recognition honoring extraordinary teachers.


Most recently, Ms. Kielma was selected the 2023 Connecticut Teacher of the Year, honored for her goal to provide an inclusive environment, where all students feel valued, accepted, and treated with equity.


The five finalists will next be interviewed by the National Teacher of the Year Program’s Selection Committee, which is managed by Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the committee’s final selection for 2023 National Teacher of the Year will be announced in the spring.


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

NBC CT: Bristol Teacher Is a Finalist for National Teacher of the Year
Press Release: Governor Lamont Announces Connecticut Educator Carolyn Kielma Named Finalist for the 2023 National Teacher of the Year Honor
CBS New York: Connecticut high school teacher Carolyn Kielma in the running for 2023 National Teacher of the Year

Today in CT History: The Capable— and Quite Regrettable — Postmaster General from Suffield

Today in 1802, Gideon Granger of Suffield took office as the nation’s fourth postmaster general, ushering in a new era for the U.S. postal service — for better and for worse. A Yale graduate, Granger practiced law in his hometown of Suffield and served in the Connecticut General Assembly beginning in 1792. Following an unsuccessful 1798 bid for Congress, Granger caught the attention of President Thomas Jefferson through essays he wrote supporting the President’s Democratic-Republican political policies. Jefferson appointed Granger Postmaster General, a position he assumed on January 26, 1802, and held until 1814, making him the longest-serving Postmaster General in U.S. history.


After the 1803 Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the size of the country at a pen-stroke, Granger placed a high priority on establishing postal service — no matter how rudimentary — to America’s new Western settlements. Many of his ideas, including establishing cheaper postal rates for newspaper delivery and sub-contracting out rural postal routes to private couriers, helped strengthen the early federal Post Office Department and earned Granger much contemporary acclaim. Today, however, Granger is best remembered for his most ignominious idea: his advocacy for a national ban that prohibited African Americans from carrying the mail.

When Granger took office in 1802, what is now known as the Haitian Revolution was still going strong in the Caribbean, and like many of his fellow Democratic-Republicans, Granger deeply feared the possibility of a bloody slave uprising occurring in the United States. Although African Americans (mostly slaves) had been known to carry local mail since colonial times, Granger considered the practice far too dangerous and lobbied Congress to ban it. In a letter to a southern Senator, he detailed his concerns: Since only “the most active and intelligent” slaves were sent on mail-carrying errands, the odds that they could secretly orchestrate an uprising and communicate it to their fellow enslaved brethren were too great to risk. “One able man among them,” Granger wrote, “…might lay a plan which would be communicated by your post riders from town to town and produce a general and united operation against you.”


Granger’s words convinced a concerned Congress to pass an act in May 1802 that stated, “No other than a free white person shall be employed in carrying the mail of the United States.” The ban remained in place for nearly sixty years — by far the most infamous and far-reaching part of Gideon Granger’s legacy as the country’s longest-serving Postmaster General. A few steps forward for the U.S. Post Office at the expense of one giant leap backward for black Americans, today in Connecticut history.


If you'd like to learn more about Gideon Granger and other interesting CT historical figures, click here.

Now Hiring for Seasonal Employment: East Hartford Parks and Recreation

East Hartford Parks and Recreation is now accepting applications for Summer 2023 employment opportunities. Available positions include: 

  • Lifeguards – must be at least 15 years old and have a current certification in American Red Cross Lifeguarding or be able to successfully complete a course prior to the start of the summer season. Learn more and apply here.
  • Camp Counselors – must be at least 16 years old and are responsible for planning and leading activities and experiences for children in a group setting, as well as overseeing the general safety and development of the children under their supervision. Prior experience preferred, CPR and/or First Aide certification recommended. Learn more and apply here.
  • Park Rangers – must be at least 18 years old and will work a varied schedule of primarily evening and weekend hours in parks and facilities. Learn more and apply here.

For more information, click here.

Manchester Bicentennial Celebration Seeking Artists: Pups in our Parks

Calling all early, mid–career, professional, and underrepresented artists! Showcase your creativity by submitting an original concept to paint a canine sculpture as part of the Manchester Bicentennial Celebration in 2023.


Artists are asked to submit an original concept in the shape of a standing dog – outlines to be provided. Selected artists will be contacted and paid a stipend upon completion. For more information or to submit a concept for review, click here.


Submissions must be completed no later than Tuesday, February 28 by 4:30PM.

Take Your Child to the Library Day is Feb. 4

Next Saturday, February 4, is the 12th annual celebration of Take Your Child to the Library Day and our community's public libraries have some great programming to help you celebrate!

In East Hartford, the Raymond Library will be open 10AM-2PM. Stop by to check out books, movies, and more! Stick around for activities including a scavenger hunt in the children's room, play with the train table, explore educational games computers, or color a picture!

Plus, register for one of these special programs:

  • Read to the Dogs: from 11AM-12PM, the Bright and Beautiful therapy dogs will be in the children's program room for their monthly program. Registration is required for a 15-minute time slot – best suited for kids ages 5+ who can read independently.
  • Puppetry for All: from 11AM-1PM, puppeteer and librarian Rolande Duprey will be in the Makerspace on the second floor for an opportunity to play with a variety of puppets. Suitable for all ages – register for a reminder here.

In Manchester, stop by the library to check our books and enjoy an exciting, family-oriented program of African drumming and dancing by Jocelyn Pleasant & the Lost Tribe at 10:30AM. This interactive, multimedia performance takes the audience on a journey to West Africa and the African Diaspora through music, song, and dance.

COVID-19 Updates & Upcoming Vaccine Clinics

The East Hartford Health Department offers 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 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.

Join a free railroad history walk on Saturday, January 28 at 1PM starting on the north (right) side of the tracks, across from Farr's Sporting Goods (2 Main Street, Manchester). This will be a 3-mile round trip. A special favor will be given to children who attend the hike. The hike will go on in light rain or snow, so be prepared, but extreme weather cancels. No dogs, please.


For more information on where to meet and park, click here.

Our Companions Parenting with Pets Program is on a mission to promote safe and happy relationships between children and dogs in the home. Join Manchester Public Library on Monday, February 6 at 6:30PM for a free, all-ages lecture given by Our Companions Animal Rescue staff to learn more about dog body language, positive reinforcement training, and dog-savvy skills for the whole family!

February is American Heart Month, and there is no better way to show you care than by taking a CPR class. Community rescuers are a key part of the chain of survival for cardiac arrest victims. You CAN learn the skills needed to assist a friend, neighbor, or family member. Join an upcoming training at the Community Y on Tuesday, February 7, 6PM-8PM to learn child and adult CPR, as well as choking rescue.


The course is available to residents for $10 and non-residents for $20. Participants must be 13 or older to register, anyone 13-17 should be accompanied by a parent or guardian. There will be an optional “Stop The Bleed” training available after the CPR session is complete. Register now by clicking here.

Now through Sunday, January 29, the East Hartford Commission on Culture and Fine Arts will offer residents discounted tickets for “Queen Basel” at TheaterWorks Hartford (233 Pearl Street). East Hartford residents will a valid ID that shows residency will be eligible to get tickets for $10 on a first come, first served basis. For more information, click here.

Stop by the Makerspace at East Hartford Public Library on Tuesday, February 2 from 6PM-7PM for an artist spotlight of M.C. Escher, the father of modern tessellations. You'll be making own custom tessellation creation. Registration is required – sign-up now by clicking here.

Living Room Conversations offer a simple and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Join an upcoming conversation about social equity by clicking here for more information and to register.

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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