City Notes
West Haven toasts Joan D. Connor as Irishwoman of the Year

Joined by Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, Irishwoman of the Year Joan Downing Connor pulls off the shroud revealing the Kelly green street sign designating the Campbell Avenue side of City Hall “Joan D. Connor Square” for the next year at West Haven’s 28th annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on Friday. Looking on are, from right, mayoral Executive Assistant Lou Esposito and master of ceremonies David Coyle. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

City toasts Joan D. Connor as Irishwoman of the Year

WEST HAVEN, March 15, 2019 — With Mayor Nancy R. Rossi looking on, Irishwoman of the Year Joan Downing Connor unveiled a Kelly green street sign designating the Campbell Avenue side of City Hall “Joan D. Connor Square” for the next year at West Haven’s 28th annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on Friday.

Connor, the daughter of immigrant parents from County Kerry, Ireland, was presented with gifts of appreciation, including an embroidered “Irishwoman of the Year” jacket, and words of praise from Rossi for “carrying on the spirited traditions of Ireland and the spiritual teachings of St. Patrick, personifying the qualities of an Irish Westie.”

In addition to the mayor reading a proclamation citing Connor’s dedication to the Irish-American community and “inspiring contributions to the story of West Haven,” the ceremony featured the hanging of the street sign outside City Hall’s Campbell Avenue entrance naming the public square for the honoree until next year’s celebration, when she will pass her distinction to a fellow person of Irish ancestry.

At the start of the 35-minute program, last year’s recipient, Coleman W. Walsh Jr., received his rectangular sign to take home.

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

“I am very proud — and a little nervous — to be given this award,” said Connor, a founding member of the West Haven Irish-American Club. “I am proud of my heritage. It was always important in our house to uphold our heritage and to pass it on.”

Connor also received a certificate of special recognition from U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who jokingly introduced himself as “O’Blumenthal” before commending her meritorious good works.

As the sound of Celtic music played by bagpiper Richard Mount filled the air during the cultural event in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, Connor, 86, toasted her lineage with more than 200 of her closest friends and loved ones, including her two daughters, along with a sea of shamrock-clad dignitaries and descendants of folks from Erin.

“Receiving this award means the world to me” … (and) “is right up there with swimming with the dolphins,” she jokingly told the crowd, many of whom donned Aran sweaters and other Irish garb on an otherwise cloudy but mild day.

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 a waiter and bartender, and her mother toiled as a maid and homemaker who raised the couple’s four daughters.

At the midday ceremony, held two days before St. Patrick’s Day, Rossi also presented an Irish flag to Connor, who was accompanied onstage by her daughters, Joanne Connor, of West Haven, and Patricia Connor Thompson, of Shelton, and her 6-year-old great-grandson, Liam Buckheit. Just offstage, her grandchildren looked on with great pride as their grandmother was feted.

Joan Connor was also joined by several nieces and nephews and other relatives.

Among those attending the event were 2019 Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal Courtney Lundgren Connors, of Hamden, and 2019 Parade Queen Taylor Besciglia, of West Haven, and her honor attendant, Claire Bohan, of Orange. Other attendees included state Rep. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven, and North Haven First Selectman Michael J. Freda, a native of West Haven.

The opening procession was led by members of the West Haven Police Color Guard. It was followed by remarks from master of ceremonies David Coyle, who greeted the gathering before presenting Connor with a General Assembly citation on behalf of the city’s delegation.

Before an Irish blessing from 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, 2013 Parade Queen Fiona Stewart, of Meriden, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Irish national anthem, “Soldier’s Song.” Rossi then delivered laudatory remarks about Connor.

“Joan Connor’s Irish eyes have smiled on the clan of the Emerald Isle as a goodwill ambassador of our deep-rooted Irish-American society,” Rossi said. “With determination, skill and grit, Irish-Americans like Joan Connor … have enriched our community with their achievements and service.”

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, including James P. Connor, who died in 1980.
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.

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 has said.

Although Joan Connor retired from the school board in 1996 after a 31-year career, she is still recognized by former students.

Near the end of her remarks, Connor said she was surprised and humbled by the nomination.

“Thank you all from the bottom of my Blue Lady heart!”


Joan D. Connor receives an embroidered “Irishwoman of the Year” jacket from Mayor Rossi. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


From left, Daniel Steinau, Patricia Connor Thompson, Robert R. Thompson, Joan D. Connor, Robert T. Thompson, Joanne Connor, Liam Buckheit, 6, and Cathleen Steinau Buckheit enjoy the pre-event reception in the mayor’s office. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


From left, 2019 Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade Queen Taylor Besciglia, of West Haven; 2013 Queen Fiona Stewart, of Meriden; and 2019 Honor Attendant Claire Bohan, of Orange. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Bagpiper Richard Mount plays a Celtic number. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Joan D. Connor, accompanied by daughters Patricia Connor Thompson, left, and Joanne Connor, guides the opening procession. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Members of the West Haven Police Color Guard present the American and Irish colors. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


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, gives an Irish blessing. Jette was West Haven’s Irishman of the Year in 2010. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Coleman W. Walsh Jr., last year’s recipient, shares a laugh with David Coyle, the master of ceremonies, while receiving his retired sign to take home. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., presents a certificate of special recognition to Joan D. Connor. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Liam Buckheit, 6, helps Mayor Rossi present an Irish flag to his great-grandmother, Joan D. Connor. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Joan D. Connor delivers remarks. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

New bakery opens on Campbell Ave.

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

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

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.

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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 or at the department’s Painter Park office, 190 Kelsey Ave.

American flags donated

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)

Tree warden advises residents about emerald ash borer

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

Memorial Day parade

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 or faxed to 203-937-3705.

Yoga program offered at senior center

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 to benefit special needs children

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

Second Shovel

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.

For the latest news and information, subscribe to the city’s Facebook page at

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