Off-track betting plan gets zoning hearing March 25

March 23, 2010 Business, Local News No Comments

off-track-betting-horses-graphic-cutout

A proposed off-track betting facility on Main Street is up for public comment at the March 25 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

The PZC meets at 7 p.m. at Windham Town Hall, 979 Main St.

Autotote Enterprises Inc. has proposed an off-track betting facility with 1,800 square feet of patron space at the Thirsty Frog Restaurant on 600 Main St., next to the Frog Bridge.

The building also hosts a check-cashing business.

The venture has already received a thumbs-up from the Windham Town Council, which last week voted 10-1 in favor of the proposal. Councilman Jerry Iazzetta cast the “no” vote.

Now the proposal is before the PZC with a special permit application and site plan.

The property is located within an M-3 industrial district, but that designation also allows for commercial uses, Windham Town Planner James Finger writes in his report to the commission.

Public comments at Thursday’s hearing should focus on whether the proposed business is compatible within the M-3 district, Finger said in an interview today.

Autotote officials estimate the facility could initially generate approximately $64,000 in “handle revenue” (wagers)  paid directly to the town.

Posted March 23, 2010 – edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

[To read other stories on this topic published in Windham Today, use the search word "Autotote" or "betting."]

Huskies' loss to Virginia Tech ends UConn's NIT play

March 23, 2010 Sports No Comments

coach-calhoun-uconn-loses-in-nit-chronicle-03-23-2010Dorenzo Hudson was Virginia Tech’s point man versus UConn, literally, but the Hokies’ second-round National Invitational Tournament win Monday, March 22 can be credited to a tight, well-coordinated team.

The final score was 65-63.

“I feel like we can beat anybody, with anybody [on our team] having a bad night,” said Hudson, whose 12 field goals were a career high. “I feel like we always have somebody who’s going to step up. We just pick up the slack when somebody else is struggling.”

Their coach agrees.

“In any tournament, that was a high-level basketball game,” Tech Coach Seth Greenberg said. “The resiliency and toughness and competitive spirit of this team never ceases to amaze me. They’re just an amazing group. Keeping their composure, their ability to make plays down the stretch, their ability to get stops.”

UConn Coach Jim Calhoun, while not happy about the outcome, gave the opposing team credit for a game well played.

“They made a big shot down the stretch,” Calhoun said. “That’s obviously part of the game. Seth’s obviously done a great job down here. That was, of all the things that have happened this year, heart-breaking for us because I thought we out-worked them, but it was a tight game.

“They’re a terrific team, a young team and they all come back next year, so they look to be one of the top teams in the ACC, if not a top-25 team.”

Hudson, who finished with 27 points, is still playing at less than 100 percent because of a bone bruise in his foot that limits his practice time.

Center Victor Davila contracted food poisoning over the weekend, but battled UConn’s assembly line of big men for 29 minutes and sank four immense free throws in the final two minutes.

“He showed up here at five,” Greenberg said, “took an IV and played his heart out.”

Terrell Bell managed just six points, but forced UConn guard Jerome Dyson into a turnover near midcourt with 22.4 seconds remaining and the Huskies clinging to a 1-point lead.

Tech turned that next possession into Hudson’s game-winning shot and Bell also grabbed the Hokies’ final rebound, following a potential game-winning follow shot by Gavin Edwards.

“He makes winning plays that don’t show up in the box score,” Greenberg said.

Jeff Allen, relatively quiet all night, got a key block against UConn guard Kemba Walker in the final seconds.

He set the screen that freed Hudson for the game-winner. A couple of minutes earlier, he grabbed a critical offensive rebound and made 1-of-2 free throws to pull the Hokies within 59-58.

J.T. Thompson scored all 10 of his points in the first half, and kept the Hokies afloat offensively when UConn appeared capable of pulling away.

Even reserve guard Erick Green, who played all of one minute at the end of the first half, contributed.

He pushed the ball down court in the final seconds and found a wide-open Thompson, who made just his third 3-pointer all season and gave the Hokies momentum heading into halftime.

Tech played the Huskies to a push on the boards (36-35) and out-rebounded UConn over the final 30 minutes.

The Hokies also committed just three turnovers in the final 30 minutes after a relatively sloppy start.

Tech sits one game away from a trip to New York and the NIT final four, despite a 6-point, 2-for-14 shooting performance from lead guard Malcolm Delaney.

The Hokies face Rhode Island on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Cassell Coliseum.

Posted March 23, 2010 – Edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

[Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services]

Ruling on infant's death expected next week

March 23, 2010 Local News No Comments

trial3

During closing arguments March 22, prosecutors painted a picture of an overworked foster mother who – when too stressed – snapped and shook an infant in her care, which resulted in his death.

May 19, 2008 was the first day Suzanne (Wrobel) Listro struggled alone caring for a toddler – her adopted son, Zachary – and an infant, while working outside the home, said Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Leaming.

It was also the day 7-month-old Michael Brown Jr. died. According to autopsy results, the cause of death was a “blunt traumatic head injury.”

Monday was day 15 – and the final day- of an originally scheduled 10-day trial in Rockville Superior Court against 44-year-old Suzanne Listro of 260 Stearns Road in Mansfield.

Listro was charged July 16, 2008 with first-degree manslaughter and risk of injury to a minor for the death of the child, and pleaded ‘not guilty’ in December. The trial began on Feb. 26, 2010.

Judge William H. Bright Jr. will now review the evidence. He is expected to make his ruling on Monday, March 29.

Did he fall?

Brown Jr. was in Listro’s care for a week – as a foster placement with the state’s Department of Children and Families – when he “fell off the bed,” according to Listro’s statement to police.

State’s Attorney Elizabeth Leaming said Brown Jr. was, “by all accounts, a beautiful, happy and healthy baby boy” who enjoyed being held, but no one knows exactly how the boy ended up in cardiac arrest by 7:46 p.m. that night.

“We will never know exactly what transpired between 5 p.m. and 7:46 p.m., but we do know something went terribly wrong,” she said. “Michael can’t tell us what happened that night.”

However, she said, the child’s injuries can.

Leaming said Michael’s injuries were “classic” signs of inflicted trauma – bilateral hematomas and bilateral retinal hemorrhages.

Furthermore, the state’s expert witness and attending physician testified that the child’s injuries could have been the result of shaking and impact against some unknown surface.

The state’s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver II  said Listro’s story and the infant’s injuries were “at variance.” Carver ruled the infant’s death a homicide.

“Lack of motive”

Hartford-based Attorney Hope Seeley, one of two attorneys representing Listro, said the fundamental question prosecutors did not answer during the trial is Listro’s motive.

“Lack of motive creates reasonable doubt,” said Seeley.

According to Seeley, Listro and the two children “settled into a typical evening routine” and when Brown Jr. fell off the bed that May evening, “that’s when the nightmare began.”

Seeley debunked witness testimony that described Listro as too collected or not sad enough, immediately following the incident.

She said the 911 tape submitted as evidence by the defense team captures Listro’s panic and concern for the infant. “It is the strongest evidence of Ms. Listro’s feeling for Michael,” she said.

Seeley also pointed out that Listro was cooperative with police and DCF employees during subsequent investigations and never changed her story.

Defense also presented expert testimony that indicated the child’s death could be tied to a pre-existing hemorrhage that would have made him more susceptible for a fatal injury if he fell.

A pediatric forensic pathologist from Minnesota, Janice Ophoven, described the infant as a walking “time bomb” with a previous injury still healing in his brain.

However, Leaming countered that there is no medical evidence to show a previous injury played a role in the infant’s death.

Posted March 24, 2010 – Edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

Drug suspect rammed police car

March 22, 2010 Local News No Comments

police-cars-500pixels-drybrushA local man will appear in court next week to answer to charges after he allegedly tried to flee from police with 75 bags of heroin in his vehicle, according to state police.

When police tried to take Rafael Cerda, 27, of 21 Cameo Drive, Willimantic into custody, he tried to escape by backing into a Willimantic police cruiser. Police also say he threw narcotics out of the driver’s side window.

Police said members of the State Police Narcotic Task Force and Willimantic Police were able to apprehend Cerda and recover the discarded drugs.

Willimantic Police Sgt. Jack Reed said there was minimal damage to the cruiser.

State police said they seized 75 bags of heroin packaged for sale (13 grams each) and $475 in cash.

Cerda was charged Friday, March 19 with possession of heroin, possession of heroin with intent to sell, possession of heroin with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school, possession of heroin within 1,500 feet of a school, interfering with an officer and third-degree criminal mischief.

Cerda’s arrest is the result of a joint investigation by the State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force and the Willimantic Police Department.

Cerda posted a $15,000 non-surety bond and will appear in Danielson Superior Court on March 29, police said.

Anyone with information on illegal narcotics activity is urged to call the Narcotic Task Force East Field Office at (860) 442-9491 or the anonymous tip line at (800) 443-7847. All calls will remain confidential.

Posted March 23, 2010

UConn women post 95-39 first-round win in NCAA tournament

March 21, 2010 Sports No Comments
NORFOLK, VA - Tina Charles and UConn cruised to a first round win and a 73rd straight victory Sunday against Southern University.  Charles scored 22 points and Maya Moore added 21 to a final score of 95-39 in the women's NCAA tournament. UConn hasn't lost since falling to Stanford in the 2008 national semifinals. The Huskies won their last 10 first-round games by an average of nearly 49 points.  Sunday, they led 52-29 at halftime and actually looked pretty sloppy at times. They had 12 turnovers, one more than the Jaguars. They fixed that in the second half by holding the Jaguars to 10 points, four field goals in 30 attempts and by making 67 percent of their shots. Moore had 17 points and four 3-pointers by halftime, and the Huskies featured Charles scoring on the inside in a 21-2 spree to open the second half. The 6-foot-4 center scored eight points in the run, all from in close, and Caroline Doty hit a pair of 3-pointers. That boosted their lead to 73-31 with 15 minutes left, and UConn coach Geno Auriemma emptied his bench shortly thereafter. Nine of the Huskies' 11 players scored. Tiffany Hayes and Kalana Greene scored 12 each for the Huskies, who shot 61.5 percent, out-rebounded the Southwestern Athletic Conference champs 52-22 and limited them to 23.1 percent shooting.  UConn also had a 22-4 advantage in points at the foul line. Southern (23-9) actually led 2-0 after a short bank shot by Freda Allen, but the Huskies immediately asserted themselves with a 15-2 burst.  After consecutive 3-pointers pulled the Jaguars within 20-12, Connecticut got points from seven players in an 18-4 run and coasted. Hannah Kador led the Jaguars with 10 points. Southern, making its fourth appearance in the tournament and second in Old Dominion's Constant Center, had a similar experience the first time: a 96-27 loss to Duke in 2006. Posted March 21, 2010

Tina Charles in action. File photo © March 22, 2009 by Vito J. Leo for HTNP.com Sports

NORFOLK, VA – Tina Charles and UConn cruised to a first round win and a 73rd straight victory Sunday against Southern University.  Charles scored 22 points and Maya Moore added 21 to a final score of 95-39 in the women’s NCAA tournament.

UConn hasn’t lost since falling to Stanford in the 2008 national semifinals.

The Huskies won their last 10 first-round games by an average of nearly 49 points.

Sunday [March 21], they led 52-29 at halftime and actually looked pretty sloppy at times. They had 12 turnovers, one more than the Jaguars.

They fixed that in the second half by holding the Jaguars to 10 points, four field goals in 30 attempts and by making 67 percent of their shots.

Moore had 17 points and four 3-pointers by halftime, and the Huskies featured Charles scoring on the inside in a 21-2 spree to open the second half. The 6-foot-4 center scored eight points in the run, all from in close, and Caroline Doty hit a pair of 3-pointers.

That boosted their lead to 73-31 with 15 minutes left, and UConn Coach Geno Auriemma emptied his bench shortly thereafter. Nine of the Huskies’ 11 players scored.

Tiffany Hayes and Kalana Greene scored 12 each for the Huskies, who shot 61.5 percent, out-rebounded the Southwestern Athletic Conference champs 52-22 and limited them to 23.1 percent shooting.

UConn also had a 22-4 advantage in points at the foul line.

Southern (23-9) actually led 2-0 after a short bank shot by Freda Allen, but the Huskies immediately asserted themselves with a 15-2 burst.

After consecutive 3-pointers pulled the Jaguars within 20-12, Connecticut got points from seven players in an 18-4 run and coasted.

Hannah Kador led the Jaguars with 10 points.

Southern, making its fourth appearance in the tournament and second in Old Dominion’s Constant Center, had a similar experience the first time: a 96-27 loss to Duke in 2006.

Posted March 21, 2010

Are you a ‘locavore’? – learn more at Windham Hospital lecture series

March 21, 2010 Local News No Comments
Fresh broccoli, part of last year's harvest at the Tayor Court Community Garden in Willimantic CT (860-942-8367). Photo © 2010 by Brenda Sullivan

Fresh broccoli, part of last year's harvest at the Tayor Court Community Garden in Willimantic CT (860-942-8367). Photo © 2010 by Brenda Sullivan

The Integrative Health Steering Committee at Windham Hospital is hosting a lecture series, “For the Health of It,” that meets on Wednesday evenings.

On March 31, the subject is, “Local Farms, Local Food” presented by Bryan O’Hara and John Sokolowski, at 7 p.m. in the Windham Hospital Education Center. (In case of bad weather, tune into WILI radio for cancellations.)

Both O’Hara and Sokolowski are local organic farmers, in Lebanon and Hampton who supply Windham-area “locavores” (those who prefer to eat locally produced foods), selling their produce through local farmers’ markets and the Willimantic Food Co-op on Jackson Street.

They plan to focus the discussion on local foods that are available, why they believe that local foods are better for consumers, and better for the planet as a whole.

The evening will also feature some special snacks from Willimantic’s newest eatery-Café Live, and informational handouts from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture that detail seasonal availability of foods, farm locations and sites that offer “pick your own” crops.

The Lecture Series is a service of the Integrative Health Service at Windham Hospital. Future topics will include: Integrative Medicine and Reducing Health Care Costs; Cultivating Your Spirituality for Health; Massage Cupping; The Wellness Aspect of Feng Shui; An Overview of Holistic Psychotherapy and Life Force Yoga for Mental Health; and Reiki for Self Healing.

In addition to the lecture series, Integrative Health Services offers therapeutic massage, Reiki, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, nutritional counseling, and the free Community Health Resource Room at Windham Hospital.  .

The educational programs presented by Integrative Health Services are a community service and are not necessarily endorsements by Windham Hospital of a particular health regimen or practitioner.

Windham Hospital is a member of Hartford Healthcare.

More information is available on the Hospital’s website at www.windhamhospital.org or call 456-6002.

Posted March 21, 2010

After 19 years, Fowler says goodbye to Perception Programs

March 21, 2010 Local News No Comments
David Fowler recently retired from Willimantic-based Percep-tion Programs Inc. after 19 years. He also received a citation from the state’s General Assembly.

David Fowler recently retired from Willimantic-based Perception Programs Inc., after 19 years. Here he holds a citation from the state’s General Assembly. Contributed photo.

For 19 years, David Fowler was the man behind the numbers at an agency that helps people combat substance abuse and cope with other challenges.

Fowler, now 64, was the first chief financial officer for Perception Programs, Inc.

On March 1, he officially retired but before leaving, he was honored at a Feb. 23 ceremony at the Willimantic Elks Club.

Fowler received a citation from the state’s General Assembly that was presented to him by State Rep. Susan Johnson, D-Willimantic.

State Sen. Anthony Guglielmo, R-Stafford, also wrote a letter praising Fowler for his work.

“That was quite an honor,” Fowler said. He added that he was both “surprised” and “honored” to be recognized by state officials.

Fowler reflected on his time spent at Perception Programs and said he enjoyed playing a role in an organization that helps make a difference in the community.

“The people that run the organization are real nice,” he said, and added he would miss working with them.

He said he also will miss hearing the success stories from clients.

During his 19 years, Fowler was constantly balancing available resources and growing needs. “You try to do the best you can,” he said.

He also joked that he’d like to see Perception Program go out of business, because that would mean the problem of substance abuse had been licked.

Fowler recalled that when he started at Perceptions, the agency had only a handful of programs. It has since grown to 16 programs.

Executive Director of Perception Programs, Inc. Linda Mastrianni, who worked with Fowler for the last 15 years, said the organization grew significantly during Fowler’s tenure.

Mastrianni described Fowler as a “very honorable man,” one who is dedicated to the organization and the people it serves.

A news release from Perception Programs praised Fowler for an “exemplary job” helping the Perception Programs grow from a $1.5 million agency to a $6.5 million agency.

Mastrianni said Perception Programs receives funding from six different state organizations.

Now, Fowler is looking forward to his retirement. “It’s pretty exciting,” he said, and added that he’ll likely do some camping and spend time with his wife, two grown children and three grandchildren.

According to its Web site ( http://www.perceptionprograms.org/ , Perception Programs is a nonprofit organization that helps prevent, treat and reduce the harm from substance abuse, co-occurring mental health disorders, criminal behavior, HIV disease and associated at-risk behaviors.

Posted March 21, 2010 – edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

Noise ordinance fine-tuned, focuses on cars and parties

March 20, 2010 Local News No Comments
If you’ve ever wondered how a car’s sound system could be loud enough to shake the windows of your house, here’s an example of the kind of amplification you might find in the trunk of that car. Photo courtesy of mobiledynamics.com

If you’ve ever wondered how a car’s sound system could be loud enough to shake the windows of your house, here’s an example of the kind of amplification you might find in the trunk of that car. Photo courtesy of mobiledynamics.com

Tuesday’s action by the Windham Town Council may signal the end of a long road for the town’s proposed noise control ordinance.

An ordinance was originally approved in August 2009 by the then-Board of Selectmen, prior to the town’s change in government, but it was sent back by the state Department of Environmental Protection for revision. DEP approval is necessary for the ordinance to be enforced.

Among other things, the DEP directed the town to remove a provision addressing noise from motor vehicle exhaust pipes, because that kind of nuisance is under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Another source of irritating noise is not included in the ordinance approved by the Town Council on Tuesday [March 16], which is barking dogs.

Windham Town Manager Neal Beets said other ordinances and statutes on the books cover that type of noise.

What the revised ordinance does address is motor vehicles with loud stereos and parties with loud music… or just loud music.

Sections of the ordinance addressing amplification systems were also tweaked.

For example, the first draft specified that motor vehicle stereo/sound amplification systems that can be heard 60 feet away would violate the ordinance. The revised ordinance extends the distance to 100 feet.

Fines also were increased. In both the first and current drafts, there is a written warning for a first offense. But while the first draft included a $150 fine for a second offense and a $250 fine for a third offense, the revised draft makes it a flat $250 for any repeated violations.

There was also some fine-tuning of wordage.

Council member Teresa Santucci, for example, removed the qualifying word “clearly” where it refers to a noise as “audible.”

Before the change, the section read: “Any noise shall be considered to be a noise disturbance and a public nuisance when it is clearly audible by a person of normal hearing at a distance of 100 or more feet from the property line within which boundary line is the source of the noise.”

Once approved, the town’s noise ordinance will be enforced by the Willimantic Police Department and the town code enforcement office.

Posted March 20, 2010 – edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

Town Hall 'ballroom' may be named for Bellingham

March 19, 2010 Local News No Comments
Bellingham

Bruce Bellingham, who lived in Coventry at the time of his death on Jan. 3, was founder and past president of the Willimantic Victorian Neighborhood Association.

The Town Council this week forwarded a request from a Willimantic resident to a council subcommittee that asks that the town hall auditorium be named the “Bellingham Ballroom” in honor of the late Bruce Bellingham.

Bellingham, who lived in Coventry at the time of his death on Jan. 3, was founder and past president of the Willimantic Victorian Neighborhood Association.

He was also a retired music professor at the University of Connecticut.

Shirley Mustard of Willimantic made the request in a Feb. 16 letter to the town.

She writes, “In 2006, Bruce was at the forefront in the restoration and preservation of this classic 19th century grand auditorium/ballroom.

“Bruce’s enthusiasm and willingness to climb ladders and scrub floors inspired many other people to pitch in to work and to obtain funds for the needed repairs.

“Today, this ballroom, along with the town hall itself, is a major part of Willimantic’s rich architectural heritage.”

Mustard said if the proposal is accepted, an appropriate plaque and formal portrait will be privately funded and donated to the town.

The town hall auditorium is located at the top floor of Town Hall at 979 Main St.

The auditorium received about $1.1 million worth of work, including an elevator to the auditorium, a renovated women’s bathroom and a brand-new, enclosed fire escape.

The space, which once hosted town meetings, events and a state Department of Labor office, received other safety improvements such as sprinklers, a second stairway and a new fire control system.

The work was paid for with a grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Recent events in the auditorium include the 2010 Snow Ball in January, which was the first major event after renovations were complete. It was a fundraiser for the Windham Textile and History Museum.

Last month, the room hosted events associated with the Romantic Willimantic Chocolate Festival celebration.

Earlier this month, a public hearing on off-track betting was held in the auditorium.

At Tuesday’s meeting, members of the public spoke in support of honoring Bellingham’s contributions and leadership.

“I think that would be a great honor,” said local historian Bev York.

She added that Bellingham was a “mover and a shaker” when it came to getting people to preserve their Victorian homes. He was also a great painter, she said.

President of the Victorian Neighborhood Association Robert Horrocks also spoke in favor of the proposal. “He was a preservationist,” Horrocks said.

Bellingham was “a citizen who really loved this town,” he said.

Pamela Horrocks said Bellingham’s memorial service was attended by a standing-room-only crowd and the service centered on his contributions to Willimantic and how much influence he had on the town.

“I think this would be a wonderful way to thank him,” she said.

Local businesswoman Lynn Duval also supported the proposal and said that even though Bellingham wasn’t a Windham resident, his “passion for the town brought great results.”

The Administration, Finance, Health and Human Services subcommittee will take up the proposal in April.

Posted March 20, 2010 – edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

Developer abandons Stop & Shop/VFW project

March 18, 2010 Business, Local News No Comments

stop-and-shop-logoA proposal for $1 million in intersection improvements, a new Friendly’s Restaurant and lease payments that would have funded the renovation of the local VFW has been scrapped, the project developer said Wednesday.

Mario DiLoreto, president of READCO of Old Lyme, the developer for the Stop & Shop/VFW proposal, said a number of factors went into the decision, including difficult economic conditions and increasing project costs.

The development proposal involved grocery giant Stop & Shop, located at 1391 Main St., and the neighboring VFW.

It  included road improvements on routes 66 and 32, moving the Friendly’s restaurant to the front half of the VFW parcel, revamping parking and adding a new commercial development site.

The VFW would have collected revenue from a land lease that would have helped it to renovate its existing building, while the town would have gotten additional tax revenue with a renovated Stop & Shop store, a new Friendly’s restaurant and the additional commercial site.

DiLoreto said more than five years went into planning the project, but with the size and scope of the project and escalating costs, “it didn’t make sense, anymore.”

According to DiLoreto, making the intersection improvements alone would be “too costly.”

Posted March 18, 2010, edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan

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In Willimantic, annual Trick or Treat on Main Street

TRICK OR TREAT cropped sign

The family-friendly Haunted House at Arts at the Capitol Theater, the art magnet school at 896 Main St., is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Come in costume and experience the Island of Misfit Toys, color spooky pictures and eat tasty treats.

Windham and Storrs microgrid power projects could get additional funding

electric micro grid image

Microgrids provide electricity to critical facilities and town centers on a 24/7, daily basis. They will also include a system of “trips” and “transfers” to isolate the microgrid and provide power within its network even when there is a large-scale outage.

Get a jump on toy shopping

Over the Rainbow Toys logo 10-30-2013

And between now and Nov. 2, shoppers will receive a 30 percent discount on all in-stock merchandise at the mall location – excluding Lego and Bruder toys.

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