City Notes
West Haven toasts Canning Ruickoldt as Irishwoman of the Year

Mayor Edward M. O'Brien helps Irishwoman of the Year Kelly Canning Ruickoldt pull off the shroud revealing the green street sign designating the Campbell Avenue side of City Hall "Kelly Canning Ruickoldt Square" for the next year at West Haven's 26th annual St. Patrick's Day Celebration Friday. Looking on are, from left, Canning Ruickoldt's son, Michael Enright, her husband, Doug "the Rake" Ruickoldt, and O'Brien's administrative assistant, Erin Sweeney. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

City toasts Canning Ruickoldt as Irishwoman of the Year

WEST HAVEN, March 20, 2017 — Mayor Edward M. O’Brien presented Kelly Canning Ruickoldt, an ambassador of all things Irish, with a jacket embroidered with her new distinction, Irishwoman of the Year, as part of festivities marking West Haven’s 26th annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration outside City Hall’s Campbell Avenue entrance Friday.

Canning Ruickoldt, a second-generation Irish-American, received other gifts of appreciation and words of praise from O’Brien for “devoting her time, talents and energy to the Irish-American community.”

In addition to O’Brien reading a mayoral proclamation citing Canning Ruickoldt’s “character and principle … (in) shaping the narrative of West Haven’s Irish-American society,” the ceremony featured the unveiling of a green street sign designating the Campbell Avenue side of City Hall “Kelly Canning Ruickoldt Square” until next year’s celebration, when she will pass her title to a fellow person of Irish ancestry.

At the start of the half-hour event, last year’s recipient, Board of Education and Democratic Town Committee Chairman James W. Morrissey, received his rectangular sign to take home.

The West Haven St. Patrick’s Day Committee recognizes an Irish resident, or couple, each year who epitomizes service in the city’s ardent Irish-American community.

“I love being Irish, and this recognition is such an honor … and truly a blessing for me,” said Canning Ruickoldt, grand marshal of the 2014 Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade, who also received a General Assembly citation from state Rep. Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, on behalf of the city’s delegation.

As the sound of Celtic music played by a bagpiper filled the bitter cold air during the midday cultural event in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, Canning Ruickoldt toasted her Irish lineage with more than 200 of her closest friends and relatives, including her husband, children and siblings, along with a sea of shamrock-clad dignitaries and descendants of folks from Erin.

“Thank you for supporting me in everything I do for the Irish,” she told the crowd. “Love and peace!”

Canning Ruickoldt, a 1976 graduate of West Haven High School, is the granddaughter of immigrant grandparents from the town of Mohill in County Leitrim, Ireland.

In 1906, at the ages of 18 and 21, respectively, Francis Joseph Canning and the former Catherine Louise O’Brien left their homeland in search of a better life in the United States, eventually marrying in 1912 and finding their way to New Haven’s Bishop Street eight years later.

O’Brien also presented an Irish flag to Canning Ruickoldt, who was accompanied onstage by her husband of eight years, Doug “the Rake” Ruickoldt, and her son, Michael Enright, who sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Irish national anthem, “Soldier’s Song.” A short distance away, flanking City Hall’s snow-covered grounds, her daughters, Rebecca Enright and 2005 Parade Queen Melinda Enright Cinolauro, and her two sisters and two brothers looked on with great pride as their mother and sister was feted.

Canning Ruickoldt was also joined by her step “bonus sons,” Douglas J. Ruickoldt and Councilman Nicholas W. Ruickoldt, D-2, as well as her son-in-law, Anthony Cinolauro, her 9-month-old grandson, Benjamin Cinolauro, and her 10-year-old step “bonus grandson,” Salvatore Cinolauro.

The opening procession was led by bagpiper Jason Hall of the New Haven County Firefighters Emerald Society Pipes and Drums and members of the Police Department and West Shore Fire Department emerald societies. It was followed by remarks from master of ceremonies David Coyle, who welcomed the capacity gathering.

After an Irish blessing from the Rev. Mark R. Jette, who serves St. Lawrence and St. Paul churches, O’Brien delivered heartwarming remarks about Canning Ruickoldt.

“Her propensity to give back to West Haven and our deep-rooted Irish-American community is a testament that the American dream is big enough for everybody,” O’Brien said.

Canning Ruickoldt is a dedicated member of the West Haven Irish-American Club and served as president from 2008 to 2010, vice president from 2006 to 2008 and secretary from 2004 to 2006.

She also wears many hats on the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, sitting on the executive board and the general and ball committees and serving as chairwoman of the committee’s annual “Tip a Past Grand Marshal” benefit.

Canning Ruickoldt was born in New Haven in 1957 to Francis “Buddy” Canning, a telephone company worker, and the former Joan Hines, a homemaker.

After the Cannings moved to West Haven in 1960, Canning Ruickoldt and her siblings were raised in a single-family home on Prospect Avenue in West Shore.

The Irish Catholic clan “enjoyed all that West Haven offered and spent many wonderful years at Savin Rock and the West Shore beach,” she said.

For the past 27 years, Canning Ruickoldt has been employed by the West Haven Community House as Head Start’s office manager, where she enjoys interacting with children, especially dressing as the Cat in the Hat while reading to kids of the school readiness program.

To view the photo gallery, click on Scenes from the 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Celebration.

Murphy holds roundtable to discuss state opioid crisis

Murphy holds roundtable to discuss state opioid crisis

WEST HAVEN, March 20, 2017 — At the microphone, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., holds a roundtable with Mayor Edward M. O’Brien and Deputy Commissioner Nancy Navarretta of the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, both flanking Murphy, and local first responders, treatment providers and community organizations Thursday in the third-floor conference room of City Hall to discuss the growing opioid crisis in Connecticut.

The officials representing West Haven at the table are, from the right of O’Brien, West Shore Fire Department Chief Stephen Scafariello, West Haven Fire Department Chief James P. O’Brien, Police Chief John Karajanis Jr., acting Chief Michael T. Esposito of the City of West Haven Fire Department Allingtown and Superintendent of Schools Neil C. Cavallaro.

During the hourlong discussion, Murphy provided the more than 50 participants with an update on his efforts to help state communities combat the opioid and addiction epidemic by expanding access to treatment, securing federal funding, and fighting against harmful efforts to gut access to addiction treatment.

Murphy is the co-author of the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act. The bill, passed last year, will expand federal resources and improve the coordination of mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

(City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Malloy appoints West Haven’s Guthrie to 911 commission

Malloy appoints West Haven’s Guthrie to 911 commission

WEST HAVEN, March 20, 2017 — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has appointed West Haven 911 dispatcher Robert J. Guthrie to serve on the Enhanced 9-1-1 Commission of the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Division of Statewide Emergency Telecommunications.

In a Feb. 15 letter to Guthrie, a lifelong resident of West Haven, Malloy wrote, “Pursuant to Sections 4-1 and 28-29a of the Connecticut General Statutes, it is my pleasure and privilege to appoint you as a member of the E 9-1-1 Commission, as a representative of volunteer firefighters, for a term ending February 1, 2020 or until a successor is appointed and has qualified, whichever is longer.”

Guthrie, who represents the Connecticut State Firefighters Association, was tapped to fill the seat vacated by former commission Chairman Ernest Herrick, of Storrs, who retired in October. The new chairman is Coventry Town Manager John A. Elsesser, who represents the Council of Small Towns.

“I am proud to serve my community and proud to serve as a dispatcher,” said Guthrie, a 31-year telecommunicator of the city’s Emergency Reporting System, which is based in the 911 Communications Center at police headquarters at 200 Sawmill Road.

For the past 34 years, Guthrie has been a volunteer firefighter of Savin Rock Hose Company 4 of the West Haven Fire Department, which serves the First Fire Taxation District, also known as the Center.

Mayor Edward M. O’Brien praised Guthrie, 51, a longtime Republican member of the Board of Education, for his dedication to public safety.

“I want to congratulate Bob on his appointment to the Enhanced 9-1-1 Commission,” O’Brien said. “I know that he will represent his fellow volunteer firefighters with integrity and will uphold the values of the commission.”

The E 9-1-1 Commission was established in 2012 to advise the Division of Statewide Emergency Telecommunications in the planning, design, implementation and coordination of the statewide emergency 911 telephone system, according to the commission’s website.

The 13-member commission, which meets quarterly at DSET headquarters at 1111 Country Club Road in Middletown, is composed of public safety officials, business executives and municipal leaders with expertise in telecommunications.

Driver safety course offered in West Haven

Driver safety course offered April 4

WEST HAVEN, March 20, 2017 — The West Haven Senior Center will offer an AARP Driver Safety Program from 5:30-9:30 p.m. April 4 at the Johnson Community Center, 201 Noble St.

The program is designed to help sharpen driving skills, develop strategies to adjust to age-related vision changes, develop hearing and reaction times, and learn about the effects of medication on driving performance.

Participants must complete the class to receive a certification for insurance purposes.

The fee is $15 for AARP members and $20 for nonmembers, payable to AARP.

To register, call the senior center at 203-937-3507.

Participants sought for Memorial Day parade

Freddy Jackson, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9422, kneels beside the granite U.S. Army insignia marker May 11, 2016, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Bradley Point Park. Jackson, an Army vet who served in Colorado and Korea in 1963-66, will lead the 2017 Memorial Day parade as grand marshal when it steps off rain or shine at 10:30 a.m. May 29 along Campbell Avenue. Jackson was selected to steer last year's parade, but it was canceled due to rain. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Participants sought for Memorial Day parade

WEST HAVEN, Feb. 28, 2017 — The city is seeking veterans, civic groups, fraternal organizations, service clubs and marching bands to participate in the annual Memorial Day parade, which steps off rain or shine at 10:30 a.m. May 29.

Participants must register and list required special accommodations.

Transportation is provided for veterans who are unable to walk the 1.5-mile parade course, which follows Campbell Avenue from Captain Thomas Boulevard to Center Street. To make arrangements, call the mayor’s office at 203-937-3510.

The parade grand marshal is Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9422 Cmdr. Freddy Jackson, an Army veteran who served in Colorado and Korea in 1963-66 during the Vietnam War era.

Jackson was originally selected by the West Haven Veterans Council to lead last year’s parade, but it was canceled due to rain.

Participation forms are available in the mayor’s office at City Hall, 355 Main St., where they are due April 21. Forms can also be emailed to parade organizer Erin Sweeney at or faxed to 203-937-3705.

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