Five Points Gallery finalizes acquisition of the UConn Torrington campus
This week Five Points Gallery celebrated finalizing the acquisition of the UConn Regional Campus in Torrington. I joined Five Points founder Judith McElhone, Representative Michelle Cook, and Torrington Mayor Elinor Carbone, in marking this momentous achievement, touring the campus, and hearing about their grand vision to create a world class contemporary art center in the hills of Northwest Connecticut. Five Points Gallery has already made its mark on central Torrington, and now they are poised to make an impact on the entire region and state.
|Closure of Great Falls Closure recreation area in Falls Village
After dangerous overcrowding on the holiday weekend, First Light Power has closed Great Falls recreation area at the request of First Selectmen Curtis Rand of Salisbury and Henry Todd of Falls Village. First Light Power spokesman Len Greene indicated that First Light had no current intention to reopen the area this season, and cited multiple reasons, including a lack of parking, trash, safety and COVID-19 issues involving crowds.
The First Selectmen said the overflow of vehicles into no parking areas, noise, trash and public safety hazards prompted their request for the closing.
|Food Drive to support the Corner Food Pantry in Lakeville on July 10
Community members are being called upon to help support the increased need of the Corner Food Pantry in Lakeville by donating non-perishable food items and household supplies on Friday, July 10, 2020. The Tri-State Strong Food Drive will run from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., at the Lakeville branch of Salisbury Bank at 5 Bissell Street.
Participants are asked to place their donations in their vehicle’s trunk and at the drop-off site, remain in their vehicles while volunteers remove the items from their trunk. Those wishing to donate money can do so by placing checks, made out to The Corner Food Pantry, in a collection box at the drop-off site. Volunteers from Lime Rock Park, Salisbury Bank and members of the Tri-State Chamber of Commerce will collect the donations while wearing masks.
Lime Rock Park’s Catering Van will be at the contactless donation drop-off site at Lakeville’s Salisbury Bank and organizers have made it their mission to fill the van with donations to assist the unprecedented need of the Corner Food Pantry. The Pantry serves the entire Tri-State Region and since the pandemic, the need in the region is far greater than before.
The Pantry is especially seeking items such as canned tuna, pasta sauce, coffee and juice. In addition, volunteers will accept pet supplies that will be donated to The Little Guild animal shelter in Cornwall, CT.
For more information about the Tri-State Strong Food Drive, visit the Tri-State Chamber of Commerce Facebook Page or www.limerock.com/tristatefooddrive
State campgrounds open for the season
As of this week, all campgrounds at Connecticut State Parks have opened for the 2020 season. Due to the pandemic and to help maintain social distancing, all campers are required to make reservations in advance of their stay. Walk-in campers will not be permitted this season. Campers are also reminded to wear a face covering when coming into their office to check in for their reserved campsite.
For more information about the operations of state campgrounds and to make a reservation, visit the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website.
Regional travel advisory updated to include three additional states
The regional travel advisory between Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York that went into effect last month and directs incoming travelers from states with a significant community spread of COVID-19 to self-quarantine for a 14-day period was updated today and now includes three additional states (Delaware, Kansas, and Oklahoma) for a total of 19. The quarantine applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.
As of today, the states meeting this criteria includes:
· North Carolina
· South Carolina
This list will continue to be updated on a regular basis as the situation develops across the country. Anyone seeking the most up-to-date information on the regional travel advisory is encouraged to visit the state’s coronavirus website at ct.gov/coronavirus.
|Governor Lamont announces Mathematica Policy Research selected to conduct top-to-bottom review of COVID-19 in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
Governor Lamont announced that the Connecticut Department of Public Health has selected Mathematica Policy Research to conduct an independent, third-party review of the response to COVID-19 within the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Last month, the governor announced that he was ordering the review to be conducted and soon thereafter proposals were solicited from third-party experts. Mathematica is expected to provide the state with a final report of its findings by the end of September. The analysis will be made available to the public.
According to the signed contract, Mathematica Policy Research will:
· Assess the overall impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Connecticut compared to other states in the region and the country;
· Assess the overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout nursing homes and assisted living facilities and their preparation/response to the virus;
· Identify significant circumstances that may have favorably or unfavorably impacted the severity of outbreak, including but not limited to:
o Timeliness of response in comparison to the progression of the outbreak
o Confirmed cases by age/race/ethnicity
o Confirmed deaths by age/race/ethnicity
o Rate of transmission within the facility
o Staffing challenges
o Availability of PPE
o Availability of testing
o Staff expertise and skill levels
o Establishment of COVID Recovery Facilities
o Funding enhancements
o Communication and coordination issues with other parts of the healthcare systems such as hospitals
o Other systemic issues and other epidemiology issues
· Identify and describe industry best practices displayed during the pandemic response; and
· Review and complete an overall assessment of State response to the pandemic in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities in Connecticut. Specific areas to assess will include, but will not be limited to:
o Regulatory framework, including infection control, survey and certification
o Payment policies
o Data availability and reporting
o Availability of Testing and PPE
o Any other relevant topic
Mathematica Policy Research is expected to conduct its review by looking at data and interviews/consultation with the Department of Public Health and Department of Social Services; members of the legislative and executive branch; residents and families; long-term care facility experts; and long-term care facility staff. The contractor will develop a report that synthesizes findings that emerge throughout the project and offers policy and programmatic recommendations for the governor and legislative leaders. Mathematica will be compensated approximately $450,000.
Reminder: Connecticut individual income tax returns and payments due July 15
The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services is reminding taxpayers that the deadline to file individual income tax returns and make payments for the 2019 tax year is Wednesday, July 15, 2020. The deadline was extended by 90 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The easiest way to file state income tax returns is online via the state’s Taxpayer Service Center, which is easy, secure, and free to use. The Department of Revenue Services website includes a useful list of Frequently Asked Questions that are updated regularly.
For more information, read the press release issued today by the Department of Revenue Services.
Updates from the Department of Labor
- The Department is currently on pace for the mid-July launch of the agency’s new Consumer Contact Center, which will allow for quicker responses to Unemployment Insurance (UI) matters.
- DOL has unveiled a new website (www.filectui.com) that will make it easier for people to reach a staff member.
- Claimants may call new phone numbers contained within the updated website for assistance with unemployment benefits.
- As of the July 4th weekend, CT DOL is now accepting applications for PUA “Phase 2a” applicants. These are individuals who have either exhausted benefits or have a state UI eligibility disqualification.
As a reminder, CT DOL’s FAQ http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/DOLCOVIDFAQ.PDF on the Department's website http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/ is updated frequently as well.
Rent and Evictions during the COVID-19 Crisis
CTLawHelp.org was created by several nonprofit legal aid organizations whose shared mission is to improve the lives of Connecticut residents by providing free legal help to people with very low income. An excerpt from CTLawHelp.org's most recent guidance on Rent and Evictions during the COVID-19 Crisis can be found below.
Important reminder about evictions:
Landlords cannot start most new eviction cases until at least August 22, 2020. All ongoing eviction cases are on hold until further notice. If you already went to court and lost your eviction case, a marshal cannot physically remove you and your belongings until at least August 3, 2020.
- you cannot be evicted right now, and
- you do not have to move right now.
Your landlord also cannot ever:
- lock you out,
- remove your belongings,
- cut off your utilities, or
- refuse to make necessary repairs.
Important reminder about paying rent:
There is no July rent extension. July rent is due by its regular deadline. If you paid a security deposit that is more than one month’s rent, you can use the portion of your security deposit that is more than one month’s rent toward rent due between April and August.
If you asked your landlord for an extension on your May rent and your rent is due on the first of the month, you must pay your May rent on or before July 1.
If you do not pay July rent by your normal deadline, your landlord cannot start an eviction case for nonpayment until at least August 22. But your landlord may be able to charge you late fees if your lease says they can, and/or report your rent as late to a credit bureau or a tenant screening service.
If you cannot pay your June or July rent on time, talk to your landlord about your situation and ask to make a payment plan. Click HERE to download a letter you can use to tell your landlord in writing that you cannot pay rent for a reason related to COVID-19. If you are able to make a payment plan, try to get the agreement in writing and save a copy for your records.
If and when you are able to pay some or all of your rent, you are urged to do so. You should also keep good records of all your payment, including the amount, date, and what the payment was for.
If you pay by cash, make sure to ask you landlord for a receipt (your landlord is required by law to give you one).
A Shout Out to the American Kestrel Nest Box Program
If you’ve ever noticed a large nest box mounted on a tree overlooking a field, it might be part of the American Kestrel Nest Box Program. That program began in 1977 with seven nest boxes at the Miles Wildlife Audubon Sanctuary in Sharon. Every year since, adults and nestlings have been banded for population research purposes with the help of Art Gingert. Today, there are 86 nest boxes being monitored in this project in 26 towns throughout northwestern and north-central Connecticut.
The American Kestrel Nest Box Program helps to monitor the populations of the American Kestrel, which is listed as a Species of Special Concern in the State of Connecticut. Since the project began, American Kestrel populations have increased, especially in the northwest corner of the state. Proper habitat and nesting areas are crucial for the survival of this small falcon.
This week I participated in one of the bandings, when five feisty nestlings were briefly removed from the nest box, banded, aged, and sexed as well as given a quick health evaluation. As always, it’s a privilege to meet new constituents.
|Governor Lamont reinstates small town grant program to support local capital improvements
In an effort to support Connecticut’s municipalities while implementing projects that will give a boost to the economy and help in their response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Lamont today announced that he is reinstating the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) – a state initiative that funds infrastructure improvement projects for towns that are otherwise ineligible to receive urban action bonds. To accomplish this, the governor is opening a new round of grants totaling $15 million. The program has not been active since 2016, and Governor Lamont said that restoring it will provide much needed support to towns during a period of fiscal insecurity caused by the pandemic.
The governor is also implementing a special COVID-19 provision in this round that will support towns with expenditures related to their response to the pandemic, including for new construction, expansion, renovation, or replacement for existing facilities.
“Our small towns have been hit hard by COVID-19 and are in need of our help to fund these projects,” Governor Lamont said. “Simply put, some of our small towns need to modernize their infrastructure so that we can support efforts to grow the economy but lack the property tax base they need to fully fund these projects on their own. The state can and should do what we can to help with these costs, as these small towns drive tourism, honor our deep and celebrated history, and provide us with family-friendly getaways that are part of the New England experience.”
The governor is able to provide support for the program through the authorization of bonding in Public Act 20-1, in combination with other existing authorizations. The program is coordinated by the Office of Policy and Management, and grants are administered by the appropriate state agencies depending on the specific project involved.
Under state law, STEAP grants can only be used for capital projects. A project is considered to be a capital project if it is new construction, expansion, renovation, or replacement for an existing facility or facilities. Project costs can include the cost of land, design, engineering, architectural planning, and contract services needed to complete the project. Towns selected for an award will be required to execute a contract with the state agency assigned to administer their grant before they incur any project-related expenditures. Expenditures incurred prior to the execution of a contract will not be eligible for reimbursement.
The application period for this round will begin on July 13 and towns must apply by August 14. Recipient projects are expected to be announced in mid-September. Application materials will be published within the next several days on the Office of Policy and Management’s STEAP website, as well as the Department of Administrative Services’ BizNet Contracting Portal. The materials will include a list of eligible towns.
For more information about STEAP grants, click here.
For a list of every STEAP grant awarded since 2005, click here.
|Governor Lamont encourages residents to sign up for the state’s CTAlert notification system
Governor Lamont is encouraging Connecticut residents to sign up for CTAlert, the state’s emergency alert system, which provides text message notifications to users. To subscribe, text the keyword COVIDCT to 888-777.
Providing information to Connecticut residents
For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, including an FAQ and other guidance and resources, residents are encouraged to visit ct.gov/coronavirus.
Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can also call 2-1-1 for assistance. The hotline is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance. Relay services can be accessed by calling 7-1-1. Anyone who is out-of-state or using Relay can connect to Connecticut 2-1-1 toll free by dialing 1-800-203-1234. The hotline is intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms is strongly urged to contact their medical provider.
|It is my honor to represent our district. I look forward to hearing from you about the issues raised in this newsletter, or any other topics you think I should know about. You can email me at email@example.com or call me at (860)-240-8585. Thanks for reading, and I wish you a safe weekend.
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