City Notes
Black Balloon Day calls attention to opioid addiction

Flanked by black balloons, the Rev. Kathryn King, pastor of the First Congregational Church of West Haven, leads, from left, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, former City Council Chairman Nicholas A. Pascale, state Rep. Charles J. Ferraro, R-West Haven, mayoral aide Ruth G. Torres, state Rep. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven, and City Clerk Deborah Collins in a prayer service Tuesday morning for West Haven’s victims of opioid addiction. The solemn ceremony, held on the steps of City Hall, marked the city’s observance of Black Balloon Day. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Black Balloon Day calls attention to opioid addiction

WEST HAVEN, March 6, 2018 — Flanked by black balloons, a sober reminder of the lives taken by the opioid crisis, the Rev. Kathryn King led Mayor Nancy R. Rossi and city and state officials in a prayer service Tuesday morning for West Haven’s victims of drug addiction.

During the solemn ceremony, which marked the city’s observance of Black Balloon Day, King, pastor of the First Congregational Church of West Haven, told the group of leaders gathered on the steps of City Hall that the solution to the opioid epidemic is not easy.

“It is not a sprint; it will take a village in its truest way (to overcome the opioid crisis),” said King, who, in addition to Rossi and her aide, Ruth G. Torres, was joined by state Reps. Charles J. Ferraro, R-West Haven, and Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven, City Clerk Deborah Collins, Health Director Maureen B. Lillis, City Council Minority Leader Richard DePalma, R-at large, and former council Chairman Nicholas A. Pascale, D-1.

Leading up to Black Balloon Day, Rossi called on all residents who have been affected by drug addiction, including pain-reducing opioid medications, to hang a black balloon in front of their homes.

Rossi, who lost a dear friend to addiction, recently pledged West Haven’s commitment to recognizing the special day after its co-founder, Diane Hurley, of Peabody, Massachusetts, reached out to the mayor seeking the city’s participation. Hurley’s daughter, Lauren Hurley, is the other co-founder.

Rossi said West Haven’s participation was aimed at “shining a light on how the national public health crisis of opioid addiction affects us locally.”

“It affects everybody,” Rossi said, “and I urge our state officials to push for the necessary legislation or administrative policy to mandate that opioid overdoses are added to the list of conditions that must be reported to public health officials. Our health departments document cases of chicken pox, food poisoning and West Nile virus, for example, but we don’t have real-time data on opioid and other overdoses.”

At the request of Diane Hurley, city officials hung a black balloon on the steps of City Hall for each resident who has died of opioids.

According to statistics provided by Lillis, 23 residents died of opioids in 2017.

Lillis said West Haven is ranked ninth among the Connecticut cities and towns with the highest number of people killed by overdoses last year. Hartford is ranked first, with 58 deaths, followed by Bridgeport, 51; Waterbury, 44; New Haven, 41; Meriden 36; New Britain, 36; Norwich, 34; Bristol, 23; and Manchester, 19.

The 15-minute service was immediately followed by the tolling of the church bells on the nearby Green in honor of the victims.

“Addiction doesn’t discriminate; it impacts all races, religions, genders and income levels,” Borer said. “We’re all in this together in our fight to eradicate this terrible disease, which rips through families and, in many cases, causes deaths.”

She added: “Our legislation last year was a significant step in the right direction, and we’re going to continue to build on that with even stronger legislation this year. And we won’t stop there.”

Lauren Hurley’s mission began March 6, 2016, after her brother-in-law, Greg Tremblay, a father of four, died of a drug overdose a year earlier.

Hurley’s brother, Sean Hurley, was also a drug addict but has been clean for more than a year.

In the wake of the family’s tragedy, she and her mother have joined forces in the war on drugs.

Coleman W. Walsh Jr. named West Haven’s Irishman of the Year

West Haven Irishman of the Year Coleman William Walsh Jr. A second-generation Irish-American, Walsh will receive the “Irish Person of the Year” honor at noon March 16 on the Campbell Avenue side of City Hall. (Contributed Photo)

Coleman W. Walsh Jr. named city’s Irishman of the Year

WEST HAVEN, March 6, 2018 — Coleman William Walsh Jr., a goodwill ambassador of the Irish-American community who has dedicated his lifework to carrying on the spirited traditions of Ireland, will receive West Haven’s Irishman of the Year award the day before St. Patrick’s Day at the city’s 27th annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration.

The West Haven St. Patrick’s Day Committee will fete Walsh, a second-generation Irish-American, by hanging a green street sign designating City Hall’s Campbell Avenue entrance “Coleman W. Walsh Jr. Square” for a year.

Last year’s recipient, Kelly Canning Ruickoldt, will take home her sign at the start of the ceremony.

The “Irish Person of the Year” honor is bestowed annually on an Irish resident, or couple, who personifies service in the city’s robust Irish-American community.

“I would like to thank the city of West Haven and the committee for this wonderful honor,” said Walsh, grand marshal of the 2005 Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade, who will toast his Irish lineage with scores of his closest friends and relatives, along with an array of shamrock-clad dignitaries and descendants of folks from the Emerald Isle.

“I look forward to the opportunity to make West Haven proud of their choice, and I am excited to be in the company of such fine Irish-Americans who have been given this honor before me,” he said.

Accompanied by Celtic music played by bagpipers and drummers, members of the West Haven Police Color Guard will escort Walsh to the Campbell Avenue side of City Hall at noon March 16 for his special recognition.

A corned beef and cabbage lunch will follow in the First Congregational Church of West Haven’s Fellowship Hall, at 1 Church St. opposite City Hall on the Green.

The St. Patrick’s Day Committee, led by Chairwoman Beth A. Sabo, the city’s commissioner of human resources, includes the lifeblood of West Haven’s Irish-American society, such as members of the Irish-American Club and former honorees, as well as former and current city, fire and police officials.

“It is my great pleasure to celebrate one of the many cultures that makes West Haven the diverse city I love,” Mayor Nancy R. Rossi said.

Walsh, 62, executive chairman of the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, hails from an ancestry whose legacy is stitched into the tapestry of the American fabric.

From celestial green shores, millions of fearless Irish sons and daughters set out across the Atlantic Ocean seeking a brighter day in the United States. Alongside a melting pot of other immigrants, the Irish people helped build strong communities like West Haven and forge America’s future.

In 1890, Walsh’s grandfather, William Joseph Walsh, left his home in Lisdowney, County Kilkenny, Ireland, for the promise of America, landing in Derby and settling in his wife’s birthplace of Ansonia.

His grandfather was an iron molder who later served as an Ansonia police officer, while his Irish-American grandmother, the former Mary Ann Coleman, was a homemaker who raised the couple’s three children.

Walsh’s interest in his heritage began in his youth, initially while playing football and shooting darts for the New Haven Gaelic Football & Hurling Club.

His love of Ireland blossomed into a lifelong passion for all things Irish, including a propensity for community service in Greater New Haven’s deep-rooted Irish-American community.

For the past three decades, Walsh has been a member of the parade committee and the Knights of St. Patrick in New Haven, serving as president in 1997.

He has also been a tireless member of the West Haven Irish-American Club since 1991.

Rossi praised the civic-minded Walsh, whom she called “a man of great character, integrity and wisdom,” for his devotion to the Irish-American community.

Rossi will present him with an Irish flag and a mayoral proclamation citing his commitment to “preserving and promoting the vibrant culture of Erin, exemplifying the very best of West Haven.”

Walsh, a native of Hamden who has lived in West Haven since 1990, will also receive a jacket embroidered with his new title: Irishman of the Year.

The rich customs of Ireland touch all aspects of American society, including in West Haven where they continue to prosper because of celebrations honoring St. Patrick.

The New Haven County Firefighters Emerald Society Pipes & Drums will lead the opening procession, followed by remarks from master of ceremonies David Coyle.

The Rev. Mark R. Jette, pastor emeritus of St. Lawrence and St. Paul churches in West Haven who now serves Sacred Heart Church in Suffield, will offer an Irish blessing. 2013 Parade Queen Fiona Stewart, of Meriden, will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Irish national anthem, “Soldier’s Song,” followed by a greeting from Rossi.

Joined by his wife of 27 years, the former Donna Hackett, Walsh will then pull off a shroud revealing the rectangular sign.

His father-in-law, William “Bill” Hackett, will also accompany him at the ceremony, along with siblings and other in-laws.

Hackett and his wife, the late Carol Little Hackett, were West Haven’s Irish Couple of the Year in 1996.

Walsh was born in New Haven in 1956 to Coleman W. Walsh Sr., a Merchant Marine veteran of World War II and an Army veteran of the Korean War who was superintendent of the powerhouse at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, and the former Jane Berry, a homemaker.

Walsh and his three brothers and sister grew up in a single-family home on Hamden’s Bliss Avenue in the predominantly Irish neighborhood of Spring Glen.

The Irish Catholic siblings lived by the same mantra that was instilled in them by their father, just as his father had instilled in him: “Live each day to the fullest, and take nothing for granted. Always work hard and be proud of your work, no matter what the task is, because someday that hard work will pay off.”

The time-honored Walsh mantra transcends what generations of Irish endured in their journey to America, overcoming hardship and strife through the lasting values of strength and sacrifice, faith and family.

After graduating from Hamden High School in 1974, Walsh earned a degree in building construction from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston.

During a prolific career that has spanned 38 years working for prominent engineering firms, Walsh, a chief inspector for HAKS Engineers of New York City, has inspected the construction of many high-profile Connecticut Department of Transportation contracts involving roads, bridges and structures, including the Mianus River Bridge in Greenwich, the Stamford train station and platforms, and UConn’s Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.

Walsh and his wife live on Bellevue Avenue in West Shore. They have two children, Jane Walsh, 25, of Nashville, Tennessee, and Coleman W. Walsh III, 22, of West Haven.

Telling tales

Telling tales

WEST HAVEN, March 5, 2018 — Mayor Nancy R. Rossi reads to preschoolers during Read Across America Day at the West Haven Community House preschool Head Start program Friday.

More than 150 books were donated to the program by Read To Grow of Branford.

(Photo and Caption Courtesy of New Haven Register/Peter Hvizdak/Hearst Connecticut Media)

Cultural event celebrates West Haven’s black heritage

Moses and Roberta Douglas, West Haven’s African-American Citizens of the Year, receive a citation from Mayor Nancy R. Rossi during the 22nd annual Black Heritage Celebration Wednesday morning at City Hall. The cultural event, in honor of Black History Month, is presented by the West Haven Black Heritage Committee. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Cultural event celebrates West Haven’s black heritage

WEST HAVEN, March 1, 2018 — The city paid tribute to the proud legacy of African-Americans and the inspiring contributions they have made to enriching the culture and history of the United States at the 22nd Black Heritage Celebration Wednesday morning at City Hall.

During the annual event in observance of Black History Month, the city’s Black Heritage Committee honored West Haven High School seniors Kobe Brantley and Bobbie James for outstanding leadership and recognized Moses and Roberta Douglas as its African-American Citizens of the Year.

The couple received a citation from Mayor Nancy R. Rossi recognizing their “lifework in shaping the fabric of our African-American community and the story of our diverse city.”

Reading the citation aloud, Rossi said the Douglas’ “daring spirit and inspiring contributions have spoken to the hopes and dreams we all have in common.”

Moses Douglas retired from Ansonia Copper & Brass Co. His wife retired from Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford after 16 years of service and has been a paraprofessional in the West Haven school district for the past 23 years.

The Douglases, who celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary Oct. 22, have been active members of the city’s Allingtown community for four decades.

The 40-minute program, held in the Harriet C. North Community Room, featured a performance of the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” sung by the West Haven High Bel Canto Choir under the direction of Phyllis Silver.

The choir was later accompanied by the near-capacity assembly of dignitaries, family, friends and residents on “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The ceremony included an awards presentation by Rossi and Program Chairman Steven R. Mullins, the master of ceremonies, whose daughter, West Haven High freshman Nora E. Mullins, sang a spectacular rendition of “God Bless America.”

The event also included remarks from West Haven High Assistant Principal John DellaCamera and committee founder Beulah “Bea” Johnson.

DellaCamera said, “We are very proud to have (Brantley and James) represent us at West Haven High School.”

Brantley, who aims to study medicine at the University of Hartford in the fall, and James, who aspires to study mechanical engineering at UConn, received a Black Heritage Committee certificate of achievement from Mullins, who was joined by Johnson.

Brantley, a member of the Bel Canto Choir, recently completed Developing Tomorrow’s Professionals, a mentorship program designed to help black and Latino male students who show promise but need some extra guidance in navigating their final years in high school and planning for the future.

James, also a member of the choir, is president of the high school’s mock trial team and Rotary Club and serves as vice president of the Academic Integrity Committee.

In honor of the monthlong black history celebration, organizers have adorned the walls of City Hall with banners and posters depicting important black leaders and role models worldwide.

The committee has worked since 1996 to promote racial harmony across West Haven, transforming City Hall into an exhibition of African-American art and literature throughout Black History Month to educate residents about black culture.

View the photo gallery at Scenes from the 2018 Black Heritage Celebration.

Bulk trash pickup week, e-waste drop-off day in March

Bulk trash pickup week, e-waste drop-off day this month

WEST HAVEN, March 1, 2018 — The next bulk trash pickup week is March 5-9, and the next e-waste drop-off day is March 10.

City officials said the two services are not the same, however, and are reminding residents to take note of the difference.

During bulk trash week, crews will not pick up electronic items, including TVs. They will only pick up such bulk items as couches, chairs, mattresses, tables, carpeting, padding, fencing and small amounts of bundled lumber, which may not exceed 6 feet in length.

The amount of bulk trash per collection is limited to 6 cubic yards, which is equal to a pile of trash 6 feet long, 6 feet wide and 4 ½ feet high.

More details at Bulk Trash Pickup.

For electronic recyclables, which are defined as typically anything that contains a circuit board or needs a battery, residents must drop off those items from 8 a.m.-noon at the highway maintenance garage, 1 Collis St.

Anything that has refrigerant, including air conditioners and dehumidifiers, is not accepted. Those items are considered white goods, and residents are asked to put them out for pickup on their weekly curbside collection days.

The collection is free for residents who have such items as TVs, hand-held video games, computers, monitors, copiers, scanners, microwaves, toaster ovens and other small appliances.

More details at E-waste Drop-off.

Free CCM prescription discount cards available

Free CCM prescription discount cards available online, at City Hall

WEST HAVEN, Feb. 23, 2018 — The City of West Haven Prescription Discount Card is available for uninsured and underinsured residents, as well as their pets, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi said.

Rossi said the free card, which reduces prescription medication costs, is provided by the city through its partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the statewide association of towns and cities.

West Haven has participated in the CCM Discount Prescription Drug Card Program, which is free to CCM-member municipalities, since November 2013.

During that time, CCM said, the program has saved city residents more than $176,000 in prescription costs — a 63 percent savings over what they would have paid for the 3,094 prescriptions filled so far.

The prescription card saves an average of 45 percent off the retail price of medications and provides discounts on vision, Lasik and hearing care services. It also saves residents money on prescription medications not covered by insurance.

The card offers the following features and benefits:

—All prescription medications are covered, including pet prescriptions — provided that it is a medication that also treats a human condition.

—There is no cost to the city or participating residents.

—There are many participating pharmacy chains nationwide, such as CVS, Rite Aid, Stop & Shop, Walgreens, Walmart and Big Y, along with many independent pharmacies locally.

Cards can be used by all residents regardless of age, income or existing health coverage. There are no enrollment forms, membership fees, restrictions or limits on the frequency of use.

Cards can be printed by visiting and selecting City of West Haven from the drop-down menu. Cards can also be picked up in the mayor’s office on the third floor of City Hall, 355 Main St.

Taxpayers can appeal property assessments

Taxpayers can appeal real estate, personal property assessments

WEST HAVEN, Feb. 5, 2018 — The Board of Assessment Appeals will hear appeals of real estate and personal property assessments on the 2017 grand list by appointment during March in the assessor’s office at City Hall.

The board will also hear appeals of motor vehicle assessments on the 2016 supplemental motor vehicle grand list that received a tax bill due Jan. 1.

Any property owner who wants to appeal an assessment must submit a written application to the board. The assessor’s office must receive the completed form to have it stamped in by 5 p.m. Feb. 20.

Applications are available in the assessor’s office on the first floor of City Hall, 355 Main St., or by calling the office at 203-937-3515.

Download a Board of Assessment Appeals Application.

Driver safety course offered in West Haven

Driver safety course offered March 21

WEST HAVEN, Feb. 5, 2018 — The West Haven Senior Center will offer an AARP Driver Safety Program from 2-6 p.m. March 21 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.

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