Joan Downing Connor is West Haven’s Irishwoman of the Year. Connor, 86, a first-generation Irish-American, will receive the “Irish Person of the Year” honor during the 28th annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at noon Friday on the Campbell Avenue side of City Hall. (Contributed Photo)
City honoring Irishwoman of the Year at noon Friday
WEST HAVEN, March 14, 2019 — Joan Downing Connor, a founding member of the West Haven Irish-American Club who epitomizes the qualities of an Irish Westie, will receive the city’s Irishwoman of the Year award during the 28th annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at noon Friday.
The West Haven St. Patrick’s Day Committee will fete Connor, the daughter of immigrant parents from County Kerry, Ireland, by hanging a green street sign designating City Hall’s Campbell Avenue entrance “Joan D. Connor Square” for a year.
Last year’s recipient, Coleman W. Walsh Jr., will take home his 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 rich Irish-American community.
“It means the world to me to be thought of like this and to remember everyone who started the Irish-American Club,” said Connor, who will toast her Irish heritage with scores of her closest friends and loved ones, along with an array of shamrock-clad dignitaries and descendants of folks from Erin. “It brings back such fond memories.”
Accompanied by Celtic music, members of the West Haven Police Color Guard will escort Connor to the Campbell Avenue side of City Hall for her 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 club and former honorees, as well as former and current city, fire and police officials.
“The committee made a wonderful choice,” Mayor Nancy R. Rossi said. “Mrs. Connor is the epitome of a first-generation American. She is proud of her heritage and cherishes her home community of West Haven.”
Connor, 86, hails from an ancestry whose legacy is stitched into the tapestry of the American fabric.
From celestial green shores, millions of indomitable 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 1911, at the ages of 24 and 21, respectively, Connor’s parents, John Downing and the former Nellie Reilly, left their homeland in search of the American promise, eventually meeting in New Haven’s Newhallville neighborhood and marrying there in 1922.
Her father worked as a waiter and bartender, and her mother toiled as a maid and homemaker who raised the couple’s four daughters.
“I was brought up with pride to be Irish and to be an American,” Connor said. “I am very proud to say that I am first generation here. My parents were very proud to be American citizens, and my mother always said we were American Catholics of Irish descent. So keeping my heritage alive is very important to me.”
She added, “Being Irish means family, friends, love, laughter — taking care of each other, and having a laugh and a good time while you do it.”
Connor, born in the Elm City in 1932, grew up in a two-family home at 109 Lilac St. in Newhallville.
She graduated from Wilbur Cross High School in 1950. Two years later, she married James J. Connor and had three children, Joanne Connor, James P. Connor, who died in 1980, and Patricia Connor Thompson.
The Connors moved to West Haven in 1957 to raise their family and “build a better life for themselves.”
The couple were instrumental in founding the Irish-American Club in 1962 with John and Mary Reynolds, Jim and Rita Artes, Jack and Bea Neylan, Dick and Kate Jones. They were joined by the Gallagher, Hudson and McDonough clans.
According to Connor, they asked one another at the time, “New Haven has an Irish club, why not West Haven?”
After more than a half-century of continuous operation, the Irish club is still going strong. And Connor is still a hands-on member.
Rossi lauded the civic-minded Connor for her dedication to the Irish-American community, saying, “Mrs. Connor has touched the lives of many Westies and has made an indelible mark on the Irish-American community here.”
The mayor will present her with an Irish flag and a proclamation citing her commitment to “carrying on the spirited traditions of Ireland and the spiritual teachings of St. Patrick.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., will present Connor with a certificate of special recognition.
She will also receive a jacket embroidered with her new title: Irishwoman of the Year.
The Irish-American community in West Haven takes great pride in the St. Patrick’s Day traditions that have been handed down from each generation. The wearin’ of the green holiday remains a day of fun in the minds of the many who celebrate it, but there is also a deeply religious significance for the Irish Catholic community.
Every March 17, those of Irish birth or lineage honor the memory of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who brought the message of Christ to the Irish people nearly 1,600 years ago. Teaching the word of God, St. Patrick used the three-leaf shamrock, with each leaf representing the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The need to preserve their Celtic identity led the Irish, fleeing famine and poverty on the Emerald Isle to the shores of America in the 1800s, to form the Hibernian Society, which held the first St. Patrick’s Day parades, and local organizations, such as the West Haven Irish-American Club.
After remarks from master of ceremonies David Coyle, the Rev. Mark R. Jette, former pastor of St. Lawrence and St. Paul churches in West Haven who now serves Sacred Heart Church in Suffield, will offer an Irish blessing.
Fiona Stewart, queen of the 2013 Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade, will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Irish national anthem, “Soldier’s Song,” followed by a greeting from Rossi.
Joined by her daughter Joanne, Connor will then pull off a shroud revealing the rectangular sign.
Connor and her husband, who died in 2003, wore many hats in the Irish club. They helped plan the open house party after the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the spring Easter egg hunt, the summer picnic in Painter Park, and the “Christmas in Ireland” dinner dance.
She ran the Feis, the club’s Irish dance competition, and made traditional Irish dance costumes for her children, who took lessons from Kathleen Mulkerin Jones.
In the 1995 parade, Connor led the club as marshal. She received the club’s Appreciation Award in 2000.
A woman of faith and family, Connor, who lives on Jones Hill Road in West Shore, is a longtime parishioner and volunteer at the nearby Our Lady of Victory Church. She is also a Eucharistic minister who gives the sacrament of Holy Communion to the sick and homebound.
Connor’s love of all things Irish and passion for community service has been passed on to her children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, many of whom have followed in their mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps as active members of the Irish club, the Irish community and charitable organizations.
Both her daughter Joanne and granddaughter Cathleen Steinau Buckheit, the 2003 parade queen, are former club presidents. Granddaughter Katie Thompson was the parade’s honor attendant in 2012 and 2013.
In addition to participating in the Irish club, Connor is perhaps best known for having worked as a security officer for the Board of Education at West Haven High School for years.
Long before the advent of school resource officers, it was Connor and her dear friend, Mary Reynolds, who monitored the halls keeping teens in class and out of trouble.
Connor was affectionately known as the “Blue Lady” and Reynolds the “Pink Lady.”
“Mary was already known for her pink smock, so when my mother took the position, she asked that her color be blue in honor of the Virgin Mary and her strong Irish Catholic faith,” Joanne Connor said.
Although Joan Connor retired from the school board in 1996 after a 31-year career, she is still recognized by former students, her daughter said.
The high school legend, who served as the first female president of the custodial, maintenance and clerical union, “was loved and feared by many as she walked those halls in her blue Nikes,” Joanne Connor said.
New bakery opens on Campbell Ave.
WEST HAVEN, March 13, 2019 — Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, center, cuts the ceremonial ribbon Wednesday with Sweet Cookie Bakery owner Jesus Manuel Paredes, far right, to celebrate the bakery’s grand opening at 543 Campbell Ave., formerly Lebanese Cuisine.
Also marking the occasion are, from left, Tax Collector Dorothy Chambrelli; Manuel’s nephew and business partner, Aneury Minaya Paredes; Rossi’s executive assistant, Lou Esposito; and Sweet Cookie baker Leyla Ward.
Sweet Cookie, nestled with other small businesses across the street from City Hall, is the first traditional bakery on Campbell Avenue since Peschell’s Pastry Shop closed its doors in 2013 after 67 years of business.
The new downtown bakery, open 6 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays, specializes in a variety of house-made breads, cakes, cannolis, cookies, doughnuts, flans, pastries and rolls, as well as hot and cold sandwiches.
(City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
Girl Scout Day
WEST HAVEN, March 13, 2019 — Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, back center, recognizes Girl Scouts of the West Haven Service Unit in an event coordinated by, from back left, Troop 60330 leader Heather Buccheri, Troop 60351 leader Katie Koontz, Troop 60351 co-leader Kara Nieves, Troop 60298 leader Carrie Malangone, Troop 67020 leader Kerry Kennedy and Troop 67020 co-leader Jackie Thompson on Monday night at City Hall.
During the ceremony, Rossi, a former Girl Scout and troop leader, answered questions and read a mayoral proclamation declaring Girl Scout Day in the city.
The observance marked the 107th anniversary of Girl Scouts of the United States of America, a national organization founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Ga.
(City Photo/Kristen Teshoney)
Workshop seeks input on future of Allingtown; confab set for April 1
WEST HAVEN, March 13, 2019 — The city will hold a public workshop focusing on the future of Allingtown and how it can reach the goals of the recently adopted Plan of Conservation and Development.
The workshop is set for 6 p.m. April 1 in the Notre Dame High School auditorium, 1 Notre Dame Way. It is sponsored by the city Planning and Zoning Commission and the Allingtown Steering Committee, an ad hoc committee formed by the commission to help develop a plan for the Allingtown neighborhood.
See the Flyer.
P&Z Chairwoman Kathleen Hendricks said the commission hopes to attract a wide range of participants for the workshop, including neighborhood residents, area businesses, University of New Haven students, community leaders, church groups and representatives of school organizations.
The commission also hopes that Allingtown’s young people will attend to provide fresh ideas for the plan, Hendricks said.
According to Assistant City Planner David W. Killeen, the workshop will include a presentation highlighting items of the POCD vision as well as general areas the committee plans to address, such as making Allingtown more pedestrian- and bike-friendly; promoting the redevelopment of underutilized and vacant commercial properties; improving community facilities, parks and open space; enhancing connections between UNH and the neighborhood; and improving housing and property maintenance.
The workshop will include opportunities for participants to share ideas in small group sessions. The information gathered will help the committee identify issues for consideration in the Allingtown plan, Killeen said.
“There is strength in groupthink,” Hendricks said. “This was a very effective approach when we updated the Plan of Conservation and Development in 2017, and it gave the commission the confidence that we were making decisions based on direct input from the community.”
Killeen said the commission will schedule an additional workshop to cover the draft recommendations under consideration for the plan.
The concept for the Allingtown plan was first envisioned in the POCD, which was adopted by the commission in June 2017.
See the POCD.
For more information, call the Department of Planning and Development at 203-937-3580.
Bulk trash pickup week, e-waste drop-off day in April
WEST HAVEN, March 13, 2019 — The next bulk trash pickup week is April 8-12.
Residents are reminded to separate metals, recyclables and regular trash from bulk trash and to put them out no more than 24 hours before pickup. Violations carry a $100 fine per daily offense, Public Works Commissioner Tom McCarthy said.
Bulk items include couches, chairs, tables, carpeting, padding, fencing and small amounts of bundled lumber, which may not exceed 6 feet in length. No building materials, tires, mattresses, propane tanks or hazardous waste are accepted.
Options for disposing of building materials include renting a dumpster or bringing the materials to a disposal facility for a fee.
Tires can be brought to Lakin Tire East Inc., 220 Frontage Road, for a fee.
Mattresses can be disposed of for free in a container at the city’s highway maintenance garage, 1 Collis St. Mattresses must be dry.
Propane tanks can be brought to Taylor Rental, 304 Boston Post Road, Orange, for a fee of $10 per tank.
Hazardous waste can be dropped off for free at HazWaste Central, 90 Sargent Drive, New Haven. HazWaste is open Saturday mornings from mid-May through October.
In addition to bulk trash, the city picks up household appliances, also known as white goods, and toilets. To schedule a pickup on their curbside collection day, residents must call the Highway Department at 203-937-3644 or 203-927-3585. Appliance doors must be removed.
The amount of bulk trash per collection is limited to 6 cubic yards, which is equal to a pile of trash about 6 feet long, 6 feet wide and 4 ½ feet high.
Homeowners are required to rent a dumpster or hire a junk removal service at their expense if trash exceeds 6 cubic yards. Otherwise, trash exceeding 6 cubic yards will be left at the curb, and a $100 fine per daily offense will be imposed, McCarthy said.
To prevent a potential fine, property owners should familiarize themselves with the city’s trash guidelines at Public Works.
Bulk trash must be generated by the customer at the residential unit where it is collected. Trash will not be collected if it is generated by anyone other than the resident of the home.
Bulk items must be separated and orderly. Do not place them next to a mailbox or utility pole or close to a fence, McCarthy said.
Also, do not place bulk items in front of a vacant lot or home — they will not be collected, he said.
Details at Bulk Trash Pickup.
For electronic items, including TVs, the next e-waste drop-off day is April 13.
Residents can drop off electronic recyclables — typically anything that contains a circuit board or needs a battery — from 8 a.m.-noon at the highway maintenance garage.
Anything that has refrigerant, including air conditioners and dehumidifiers, is not accepted. Those items are considered white goods, and residents are asked to schedule a pickup on their weekly collection day by calling the Highway Department.
The e-waste drop-off 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.
Details at E-waste Drop-off.
For the latest news and information, subscribe to the city’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CityofWestHaven.
Free tickets to concert
WEST HAVEN, March 13, 2019 — Be the Department of Recreation’s guest at Southern Connecticut State University’s John C. Lyman Center for the Performing Arts for the Army Field Band & Soldier’s Chorus as they perform “This We’ll Defend,” a powerful concert that puts audience members side by side with the soldiers who defend our country.
The concert is set for 7:30 p.m. March 22. Seating is general admission.
Tickets are free and limited to four. Enroll by noon March 22 at www.whparkrec.com or at the department’s Painter Park office, 190 Kelsey Ave.
American flags donated
WEST HAVEN, March 6, 2019 — From left, Toniko Parker, secretary of New Haven Chapter 120 of WoodmenLife, and Kathleen Parker, the chapter’s vice president of membership, donate 12 American flags to Public Works Commissioner Tom McCarthy on behalf of Mayor Nancy R. Rossi on March 6 at City Hall.
Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society is a not-for-profit fraternal benefit society based in Omaha, Neb., that operates a large privately held insurance company for its members.
Founded in 1890, the history of the organization includes numerous philanthropic efforts and community outreach projects, including a program to present American flags.
(City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
The emerald ash borer. (Contributed Photo)
Tree warden Leo Kelly advises residents about emerald ash borer
WEST HAVEN, March 1, 2019 — As the tree warden of West Haven, I would like to advise the public about the presence of emerald ash borer and its effect on our ash tree population.
The ash tree is a native hardwood deciduous tree found throughout Connecticut. The most common and abundant species are green ash and white ash.
The ash tree was popular to plant and maintain along streets or parks because of its useful and adaptable urban tolerances and resistance to numerous environmental stressors. Ash tree wood makes for great firewood, baseball bats and furniture and has been in Yankee life for decades as a commonly available and useful timber tree.
West Haven’s ash tree cover citywide constitutes about 2 to 3 percent of all trees in our entire forest, slightly less on city roads and parks.
The emerald ash borer, or EAB, is a non-native beetle that made its way from China to Michigan. First discovered in Detroit in 2002, EAB has since spread east to Connecticut and New England and is now fully verified in 35 states and five Canadian provinces.
By most accounts, the introduction of EAB occurred through shipping containers in green pallet wood from China. Recent campaigns by the U.S. Forest Service have instructed people to minimize the movement of firewood, which has become a large contribution to EAB’s spread.
EAB will destroy an ash tree in three to five years and continue to infest and re-infest an ash tree until it collapses and dies while moving on to new hosts as the lifecycle continues.
Details at https://www.dontmovefirewood.org.
Marchers sought for Memorial Day parade; applications due April 8
WEST HAVEN, March 1, 2019 — 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 at 10:30 a.m. May 27. There is no rain date.
Participants must register and list required special accommodations.
Transportation is provided for veterans who are unable to walk the 1 ½-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 West Haven Vietnam Veterans member William Benson, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War.
Download a Participation Form.
Forms are also available in the mayor’s office at City Hall, 355 Main St., where they are due April 8. Forms can also be emailed to parade organizer Kristen Teshoney at firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 203-937-3705.
Yoga program for older adults
WEST HAVEN, March 1, 2019 — The Department of Elderly Services is offering a 12-week yoga program that focuses on postures, breathing and meditation.
Instructed by Debby Kahan, classes meet 9-10 a.m. Tuesdays, starting March 19, at the Allingtown/West Haven Senior Center, 201 Noble St.
Kahan has years of experience teaching yoga and working with older adults.
A free trial class is available for those wishing to try it first.
The fee for the program, subsidized in part by the department, is $50, payable to West Haven Elderly Services.
To register, call the senior center at 203-937-3507.
Flapjack fundraiser at Applebee’s to benefit children with special needs
WEST HAVEN, March 1, 2019 — The West Haven Interagency Network for Children will hold a flapjack fundraiser from 8-10 a.m. April 27 at Applebee’s restaurant, 526 Boston Post Road, Orange.
The cost is $6 and includes pancakes, bacon and a drink. Proceeds will support activities for children with special needs.
Tickets are available at West Haven Youth and Family Services on the second floor of City Hall, 355 Main St. The agency’s goal is to sell at least 200 tickets.
For information or to buy tickets, contact WHINC Director Robert S. Morton at 203-937-3633 or email@example.com.
City issues snow rules for parking
WEST HAVEN, March 1, 2019 — To help crews expedite snow removal, Public Works Commissioner Tom McCarthy is reminding residents and businesses to observe parking regulations during and after storms.
Per the “Severe Weather” parking ordinance under Chapter 188 of the West Haven Code, police will tag and tow vehicles violating the ordinance at the owner’s expense. Violators will receive a $100 fine.
Once snow begins to fall, a parking ban is in effect on the even-numbered side of most roads, unless one is posted with a “No Parking” sign on the odd side.
The ban is in effect for 36 hours after a storm. Residents are urged to park in driveways or designated private lots.
However, during an official snow emergency declared by Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, a parking ban will run from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on both sides of Campbell and Savin avenues, Morgan Lane, Elm Street, Meloy Road, Second Avenue from Elm to Beach streets, and Main Street from Savin to Washington avenues.
McCarthy is also reminding residents and businesses to shovel their sidewalks within 24 hours after a storm or face a $25 fine “for each day that the violation persists.”
According to the “Removal of Snow and Ice” ordinance under Chapter 195 of the West Haven Code, people are given 24 hours to remove snow from sidewalks on and bordering their properties. Violators are subject to the $25-per-day fine, which is enforced by the Police Department, the ordinance states.
To report a complaint, call the department’s nonemergency line at 203-937-3900. Complaints are kept confidential.
McCarthy also pointed out that plowing or blowing snow into city streets is prohibited and violators are subject to a $60 fine for each offense, per the ordinance.
Also, residents and businesses with mailboxes damaged by snow thrown from a plow are the responsibility of the property owner. The city will only repair mailboxes damaged by the striking of a plow blade if there is visible evidence, such as paint or tire tracks.
Snow removal around mailboxes is the property owner’s responsibility.
Residents are also urged to help firefighters keep hydrants clear of snow.
For more information, call the Department of Public Works at 203-937-3585 or visit Public Works.
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