West Haven Army veteran Emery Linton Sr. stands behind the granite U.S. Army insignia marker at the city’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Bradley Point Park on May 5. Linton, who served in the Vietnam War in 1970-72, will serve as grand marshal of West Haven’s Memorial Day parade when it steps off at 10:30 a.m. May 30 along Campbell Avenue. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
Vietnam vet is grand marshal of Memorial Day parade
WEST HAVEN, May 19, 2022 — Vietnam veteran Emery Linton Sr. will serve as grand marshal of the city’s Memorial Day parade when it steps off at 10:30 a.m. May 30.
Linton, 73, will lead the 40-unit procession of veterans, dignitaries and bands along the 1 ½-mile parade route, which follows Campbell Avenue from Captain Thomas Boulevard to Center Street.
A decorated Army veteran who served a tour of duty in the Vietnam War, he embraced the honor with typical grace and humility.
“I’m honored they asked me to serve as grand marshal,” said Linton, referring to the West Haven Veterans Council, which helps the city organize the annual parade.
Linton said he accepted the honor during a recent phone call from Veterans Council President Dave Ricci and other members.
“I said, ‘What are you crazy,’” joked Linton, moments before thanking them. “Anything they do, I try to help them out with.”
Linton was tapped by the Veterans Council for his years of service to the military, his fellow vets and his community, the latter of which is perhaps the cornerstone of the qualifications for grand marshal, Ricci said.
“Emery Linton has been a longtime resident of West Haven and has made great sacrifices to protect us and to protect this country,” Mayor Nancy R. Rossi said. “I am proud that he is serving as grand marshal of our Memorial Day parade, as he is the epitome of what we are coming together to celebrate: sacrifice, service and an undying commitment to one’s country.
“I am grateful for those like Emery who are willing to serve as community leaders, and I would like to express my gratitude for all veterans, whether they have served or are currently serving.”
This year’s edition of southern Connecticut’s oldest and largest Memorial Day parade has no rain date and will include three marching divisions and a military division, as well as special accommodations for disabled veterans.
It will feature three bands from the Rock House School of Music performing on a trio of floats made possible by Bruneau’s Garage of West Haven and Anthony Augliera Moving & Storage of East Haven.
Acclaimed theater and film actor Connor Antico will perform on one of the floats with Paul Pesco, a renowned New York session guitarist who has recorded and toured with legendary recording artists Hall & Oates, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna.
Antico, 27, of Stamford, is set to star in the fall debut of the John Mellencamp musical, “Small Town,” in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I am honored to participate in West Haven’s Memorial Day parade and honor all those who have died wearing the uniform of our great land,” said Antico, who is also slated to release an extended play record, “Make Something Beautiful,” produced by Pesco.
Immediately after the parade, Rock House owner John McCarthy will accompany Pesco, Antico and other notable musicians to perform an all-star tribute concert celebrating John Ziada, the late West Haven restaurateur and community volunteer affectionately known as Johnny Z.
The free show will take place outside Z’s Corner Cafe, the live music mecca that Ziada built at 407 Campbell Ave. The public is invited.
During the one-hour concert, Campbell Avenue from Brown to Main streets will remain closed, city officials said.
The Memorial Day parade will include an eight-seat golf cart carrying former grand marshals that is bedecked with a star gracing the names of those deceased. Other veterans will ride on a float.
It will also include a flyover by a C-130 Hercules, a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft operated by the Connecticut Air National Guard.
Linton will guide the procession from a golf cart flanked by the West Haven Police Honor Guard.
The 90-minute parade, in memory of the deceased members of the U.S. armed forces of all wars, will showcase the city’s legion of veterans groups.
The procession will include bands from West Haven, including West Haven High and Bailey Middle schools, and bands from New Haven, such as the Village Drill Team and the Roberto Clemente Leadership Academy.
It will include cheerleaders from the West Haven Seahawks and Jeeps from the Connecticut Beach Cruisers.
The procession will also spotlight the traditional contingent of youth organizations and sports leagues, dance troupes and Scout troops, fraternal organizations and service clubs, local and state leaders, police officers and firefighters.
Linton was born and raised in Bridgeport and graduated from Central High School in 1968.
In September 1969, Linton joined the Army at age 19. He completed basic training eight weeks later at Fort Dix, New Jersey, followed by advanced training at Fort Lee, Virginia, in preparation for Vietnam.
For the next 10 months, he was stationed with the 3rd Armored Division in West Germany and worked in inventory control, known as stock control.
In December 1970, Linton was deployed to the 92nd Engineer Battalion in Long Binh, South Vietnam, where he managed a warehouse and operated a bulldozer, in addition to other wartime duties.
The battalion, stationed under the 159th Engineer Group, constructed warehouses, motor pool sheds, chapels, airfields, pipeline systems and barracks. The battalion also maintained supply routes and operated a rock quarry.
Linton was honorably discharged as a specialist E-4 in January 1972. He received the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with two service stars.
He also received the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, a South Vietnamese military campaign medal for support of operations in Vietnam after 1960.
The Vietnam War is a story of patriots who pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to preserve the ideals and liberties that Americans hold dear.
From la Drang to Hue, U.S. troops won every major battle of Vietnam. Through more than a decade of combat over air, land and sea, they upheld the highest traditions of the armed forces. And more than 58,000 sacrificed all they had and all they would ever know in service to their country.
After the Army, Linton fabricated tire valve stems at Bridgeport Brass until 1977, when he moved to San Diego and worked at a shipyard doing pipe fitting and ductwork.
In late 1979, Linton returned to Connecticut and worked for the city of Milford as a laborer, truck driver and sewer line mechanic until his retirement in 2005.
Linton stays active as a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7788, the American Legion Post 196 and Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 251. He serves as the chapter’s POW/MIA chairman and organizes its yearly vigils, traditionally held on the Saturday before Father’s Day.
Linton lives in the Allingtown neighborhood of Maltby Avenue. He has two sons, two daughters, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
He is the former 19-year companion of Veterans Council President Lorelee “Lori” Grenfell, who died Feb. 19, 2015, at age 60.
Grenfell, a Vietnam veteran, served stateside in the Women’s Army Corps in 1972-75.
In May 2015, Veterans Council members and city officials dedicated a granite stone in memory of Grenfell, the grand marshal of the 2001 Memorial Day parade, during the dedication of the eighth phase of the brick Veterans Walk of Honor in Bradley Point Park.
The brick Veterans Walk of Honor in Bradley Point Park, West Haven. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh, File)
Dedication of brick Veterans Walk of Honor on May 28
WEST HAVEN, May 19, 2022 — Members of the West Haven Veterans Council and city officials will dedicate the 14th phase of the brick Veterans Walk of Honor in Bradley Point Park at 5 p.m. May 28.
All veterans are invited to participate in the seaside ceremony, which will feature a presentation of the colors, an invocation and taps, as well as remarks by Mayor Nancy R. Rossi and Veterans Council President Dave Ricci.
The public is also invited.
Louis P. Esposito Jr., Rossi’s executive assistant, will serve as the master of ceremonies.
In November 2006, the Veterans Council began the first of 14 campaigns selling bricks to memorialize vets on the 100-yard Walk of Honor between the William A. Soderman and Vietnam Veterans memorials.
The bricks, which cost $75, have charcoal lettering for personalized messages.
About 2,900 bricks have been installed so far, including 58 for the 14th phase and 130 for the 13th phase, which was dedicated June 5, 2021.
In May 2015, the dedication of the eighth phase included the dedication of a granite stone in memory of Veterans Council President Lorelee “Lori” Grenfell, who died Feb. 19, 2015, at age 60. The memorial was crafted by Giordano Bros. Monuments of West Haven.
The Walk of Honor’s first phase and the city’s Korean War Memorial were dedicated in May 2007.
In May 2008, the walkway’s second phase and a memorial in honor of World War II Army Pfc. William A. Soderman were dedicated.
Soderman received the Medal of Honor after he distinguished himself in December 1944 while defending an important road junction near Rocherath, Belgium.
Four years after his death, on July 1, 1984, the flagpole in Bradley Point Park was dedicated in Soderman’s memory.
City Human Resources Commissioner Beth A. Sabo has overseen the construction of all phases of the walkway, which was built by City Point Construction Co. of West Haven.
Sabo has also supervised the design and placement of the granite Korean War and Soderman memorials, which were made by Shelley Bros. Monuments of Guilford.
Also in 2008, 14 grave markers signifying every war in U.S. history and peacetime were dedicated. The markers are mounted on granite posts.
Subsequent dedications have been held amid much fanfare, attracting hundreds of veterans and their families from all corners of the state and beyond.
Rossi releases statement on The Haven Development Project
WEST HAVEN, May 19, 2022 — Mayor Nancy R. Rossi has released a statement on The Haven Development Project, the proposed $200 million, 261,182-square-foot waterfront luxury outlet center in the city’s Water Street area.
Read the full Statement.
Rossi defends city, pledges cooperation with state in letter
WEST HAVEN, May 13, 2022 — Mayor Nancy R. Rossi has sent a letter to Gov. Ned Lamont defending West Haven’s fiscal management while pledging to cooperate with the state Municipal Accountability Review Board “to improve and strengthen the city’s financial operations.”
On April 14, the MARB voted to recommend advancing the city to Tier IV, the highest level of state oversight allowed under the MARB by state statute.
“Within my first week on the job, I was summoned to a meeting with former (state Office of Policy and Management) Secretary Benjamin Barnes, who informed me that West Haven would come under the oversight of the newly created MARB,” Rossi said in the May 11 letter to Lamont. “The reasoning was the deficit bonding by my predecessor, former Mayor Ed O’Brien, in the amount of about $18 million. Along with deficit bonding, the prior administration ran consecutive operating budget deficits causing the fund balance deficit to balloon from $7.8 million in 2013 to more than $18 million in 2017.”
“Everything was broken in West Haven,” Rossi said.
The mayor continued, “My administration has worked diligently over the last 4 1/2 years to fix the systemic problems that have plagued West Haven for decades.”
Rossi credited the MARB with helping the city deliver four straight balanced budgets with surpluses, in addition to a projected operating surplus in fiscal year 2022.
“The City didn’t use all of the restructuring funds and turned some of the funds back to OPM,” the mayor said. “Our fund balance is positive and growing at more than $6 million. We are recruiting and hiring qualified staff in our finance department and across the city.”
In the letter, Rossi touted the reconstruction of West Haven High School, which is “on time and under budget,” and the construction of a new Washington Elementary School, which is in the design phase.
The mayor also touted beach and parking renovations, a paving and sidewalk replacement program and economic development efforts, including the future headquarters of New England Brewing Co. on the Savin Rock shoreline and a future Hartford HealthCare office in the center of Allingtown.
Rossi also took former state Rep. Michael A. DiMassa to task for his alleged embezzlement of more than $1 million in federal coronavirus relief funding while employed by the city as an administrator for the City Council, which, along with former Finance Director Frank Cieplinski, appointed DiMassa to the position.
“Unfortunately, the (funds) … lacked proper approval and oversight,” the mayor said.
Rossi continued: “MARB has had a financial consultant in West Haven City Hall since 2018 that is working to strengthen the finance operations and to act as a liaison to MARB. If not for the unfortunate alleged illegal activities of this State Representative, West Haven would be celebrating historic success.”
“I do wish the City of West Haven would have had a chance to respond to the CohenReznick Audit ordered by OPM, since many of the items could have been easily explained and rectified,” the mayor said. “With that said, I will guarantee full cooperation from the City of West Haven as we move forward with MARB under TIER 4 to continue to improve and strengthen the City’s financial operations.”
High school students from city sought for logo design contest
WEST HAVEN, May 13, 2022 — The South Central Network of Care, a regional partnership aimed at building a system for meeting children’s behavioral health needs, is seeking high school students from West Haven to participate in a logo design contest.
To participate in the contest, complete an entry form, design a logo and submit them by June 20 to Daniela Giordano, the network’s Region 1 chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download an Entry Form.
The contest winner will receive a $50 gift card, and the South Central network will display the first-place logo on its brochures, website and other promotional materials.
The network is part of the Connecting to Care initiative, a collaboration between state and local agencies and service providers that offers care options, treatments and services for children.
The network includes West Haven’s Youth and Family Services and Interagency Network for Children.
The South Central network strives to coordinate and integrate behavioral health services across such child-focused systems as early care and education, K-12 education, pediatric primary care, youth justice, child welfare and recreation.
Craft, farm, food truck vendors sought for farmers market
WEST HAVEN, May 9, 2022 — The city is seeking craft, farm and food truck vendors to participate in the Tony Inzero Farmers Market, which will open its 2022 season July 7 in the Oak Street Beach parking lot off Captain Thomas Boulevard.
Through Oct. 15, the market, nestled on the right side of the Oak Street municipal lot, will include state farmers selling homegrown fruits and vegetables and crafters selling wares from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays.
It will also include food trucks.
To participate in the semiweekly market, download an Application.
Applications are also available for pickup in the mayor’s office at City Hall, 355 Main St., where they are due June 13.
Completed applications must be emailed to the market’s manager, Killian Gruber, at email@example.com or faxed to 203-937-3705.
For more information, call Gruber at 203-937-3518..
$28K gift funds breast cancer scholarship for 14 years
WEST HAVEN, May 9, 2022 — (Pictured, from left): Douglas J. Ruickoldt and his father, Doug “the Rake” Ruickoldt, present a $28,000 check on behalf of the West Haven Breast Cancer Awareness Program to West Haven High School Principal Dana Paredes on May 6 to benefit the Susan A. Ruickoldt Scholarship Fund as Mayor Nancy R. Rossi and committee member Beth A. Sabo look on.
The donation will support the scholarship fund for the next 14 years, said Sabo, adding that money raised at the annual Dubel’s Golf Tournament will further benefit the fund.
The Ruickoldts thanked and praised Sabo for her unwavering commitment to the Breast Cancer Awareness Program, including collecting more than $700,000 for breast cancer research and education since the program’s inception in 2000.
The scholarship fund was founded in March 2003 to raise breast cancer awareness in honor of Susan Ruickoldt, who taught third grade at Savin Rock Community School before succumbing to breast cancer in 1997.
Each spring since 2003, scholarship organizers have awarded $2,000 in Ruickoldt’s memory to a female high school senior from West Haven who plans to continue her education.
(City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)