City Notes
Vietnam vet leading Memorial Day parade as grand marshal

William “Bill” Benson, a longtime member and former president of West Haven Vietnam Veterans, stands behind the granite U.S. Army insignia marker Monday at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Bradley Point Park. Benson, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, was instrumental in raising funds to build the memorial, dedicated in 2003, which includes the granite wall of “Those Who Served.” He will lead the city’s Memorial Day parade as grand marshal when it steps off at 10:30 a.m. May 27 along Campbell Avenue. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Benson leading Memorial Day parade as grand marshal

WEST HAVEN, May 10, 2019 — Vietnam veteran William “Bill” Benson will lead the city’s Memorial Day parade when it steps off at 10:30 a.m. May 27.

Benson, 71, will guide the 50-unit procession of veterans, dignitaries and bands along the 1 ½-mile parade course, which follows Campbell Avenue from Captain Thomas Boulevard to Center Street.

An Army veteran who served a tour of duty in the Vietnam War, he embraced the honor with typical grace and humility.

“I love West Haven, and this is a very great honor,” Benson said of being named grand marshal. “The honor is not only important to me but to all Vietnam veterans.”

Benson was tapped by the West Haven Veterans Council, which helps the city organize the annual parade, for his years of service to the Army, his fellow vets and his community, the latter of which is perhaps the cornerstone of the qualifications for grand marshal, council President Dave Ricci said.

“I am very pleased with the selection of Bill Benson as this year’s grand marshal,” Mayor Nancy R. Rossi said. “On behalf of the people of West Haven, we honor Bill’s wartime service and his commitment to all veterans.”

Rossi continued: “On this occasion, it is appropriate to remember those who did not return from Vietnam and other wars while also recognizing the many veterans, like Bill Benson, who live and work among us. Thank you for your service, Bill, and welcome home!”

Benson’s contributions to the Veterans Council, the governing body of the city’s veterans organizations, are well known.

He is a longtime member of West Haven Vietnam Veterans, formerly Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 647, and served as president in the early 2000s. Before and during that time, he was instrumental in raising funds to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Bradley Point Park.

To this day, Benson helps maintain the grounds of the memorial, which includes a black granite wall inscribed with the names of those from West Haven who served or gave their lives in Vietnam from 1959 to 1975 and three white flagpoles draped with the American, state and prisoner-of-war flags.

The memorial, dedicated Nov. 12, 2003, also includes a black granite map of the four battle districts of Vietnam bearing the inscription, “All Gave Some, Some Gave All,” and five bronze insignia markers atop black granite posts representing each branch of the U.S. armed forces.

Benson is a former member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9422 and has volunteered for the past four years at the West Haven Veterans Museum & Learning Center, 30 Hood Terrace, where he gives tours to seniors, schoolchildren and veterans.

A living history of America at war, the 9,000-square-foot museum displays collections from the 102nd Infantry Regiment and the New Haven Grays, a protective force formed after the War of 1812. It also shows relics from each conflict since the U.S. fought for independence, allowing visitors to walk a timeline around the camouflage-clad warehouse off Sawmill Road.

This year’s edition of southern Connecticut’s oldest and largest parade of its kind has no rain date and will feature three marching divisions and a military division, as well as special accommodations for disabled veterans.

The procession 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. Benson will steer the procession from a two-seat golf cart flanked by the West Haven Police Color Guard.

The hourlong 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.

For the first time in recent memory, the procession will consist of nine marching bands, including five from West Haven — Bailey Middle School, Carrigan Intermediate School, Notre Dame High School, the Stylettes Drill Team and Drum Corps and West Haven High School — and four from New Haven: Bishop Woods Architecture and Design Magnet School, Celentano Biotech, Health and Medical Magnet School, Clemente Leadership Academy and the Nathan Hale Marching Patriots.

It 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.

Benson, the oldest of four siblings, was born in New Haven. He grew up on Legion Avenue near Greenwood Street and attended Hillhouse High School.

In November 1966, Benson was drafted by the Army at age 18. He completed basic training eight weeks later at Fort Gordon, Georgia, followed by advanced training in heavy weapons, demolitions and booby traps in preparation for Vietnam.

In November 1967, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, in Vietnam. He was an infantryman and later a squad leader who conducted search-and-destroy missions.

Benson fought in battles in the Mekong Delta, pushing through rice paddies and bamboo trees, heat and monsoon in southwestern Vietnam. He also saw action during the Tet Offensive, a campaign of surprise attacks launched in January 1968 by forces of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese against forces of the South Vietnamese, the United States and their allies.

He was wounded by shrapnel on three occasions and received the Purple Heart for his injuries in combat. He also received the Combat Infantry Badge and the Helicopter Assault Badge.

“I was lucky to hold myself together to get out of Vietnam,” said Benson, whose father served in the Army in World War II and grandfather served in the Army in World War I.

From la Drang to Hue, U.S. troops won every major battle of the Vietnam War. 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 his tour of Vietnam ended in November 1968, Benson was assigned to the 2nd Armored Division for riot control training at Fort Hood, Texas.

He praised his four years in the Army, including three years of active duty.

“It was an honor to serve this country anyway I possibly could,” said Benson, who was honorably discharged as a specialist E-4 in November 1970.

After the Army, Benson moved to West Haven and earned his GED diploma from Hillhouse while working as a driver for The Amerling Co., an automotive supply distributor at 170 Boston Post Road. He later worked as a driver for Latella Carting Co. of Orange.

From January 2002 to September 2017, he was a laborer and later a driver for the West Haven Department of Public Works.

Benson lives on Eaton Street in Allingtown with his wife of 40 years, Alice.

Members of UNH Mayor’s Advisory Commission feted

Members of UNH Mayor’s Advisory Commission feted

WEST HAVEN, May 10, 2019 — At City Hall on Monday, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi congratulates UNH Mayor’s Advisory Commission Chairman Marcin Stankevitch, right, and member Andrea McIntosh on being honored at the Political Science Awards & Senior Banquet at the University of New Haven on Sunday.

Joining Stankevitch and McIntosh, who are junior political science majors, is their adviser, Chris Haynes, assistant professor of political science.

Stankevitch and McIntosh are recipients of the Award for Excellence in Leadership and the Joshua Sandman Award for Excellence in American Politics, respectively.

The MAC is a collaborative, student-driven task force founded in March 2015 to strengthen town-gown relations.

(Contributed Photo)

Water safety

Free water safety event Thursday

WEST HAVEN, May 10, 2019 — In conjunction with the Connecticut Recreation and Parks Association, the American Red Cross and the Pool Safety Campaign, the Department of Parks and Recreation will hold its first water safety event from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Carrigan Intermediate School pool, 2 Tetlow St.

The free event, open to the public, will feature games and activities focused on water safety; compression-only CPR instruction; how to use an automated external defibrillator; basic first aid; and basic rescue skills that can be done as a bystander.

Attendees will receive instruction on water safety and how to help someone in trouble. Participants will be encouraged to sign pledge cards promising their safety around water and designating a “water watcher” during activities involving water.

There will be light refreshments and fun giveaways. There will also be a free open swim for children and a free Aqua Zumba demonstration, as well as information about the Park-Rec swim team, the Wizards.

Registration is required for the event so the department can plan accordingly. Register for free at Park-RecParents must accompany their children; this is not a drop-off program.


Police release surveillance video of school soccer field being vandalized

WEST HAVEN, May 10, 2019 — About 5 a.m. Sunday, city police responded to a report of vandalism at the soccer field at Pagels Elementary School, 26 Benham Hill Road.

Arriving officers observed tire tracks in the soccer field and damage to part of the field’s chain-link fence, police spokesman Sgt. Charles Young said in a news release.

Surveillance videos were later obtained by police, one of which shows a four-door pickup truck with overhead running lights and a bed-mounted utility box driving on the field, then through the fence. The one-minute, 22-second video has sound, and exhaust noise can be heard as the vehicle exits the field.

Watch the Surveillance Video.

The Police Department is seeking the public’s help in identifying the vehicle or operator in the surveillance video. Although the video is grainy, there are several identifying features that can be observed, Young said in the release.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the department’s nonemergency line at 203-937-3900 or crime prevention line at 203-937-3570. Tips can be left anonymously.

New UNH police chief takes oath of office

New UNH police chief takes oath of office

WEST HAVEN, May 3, 2019 — Mayor Nancy R. Rossi swears in new University of New Haven Police Chief James T. Gilman on May 3 at City Hall.

Attending the ceremony were Gilman’s wife, Deanna, and daughter, Kate Hall; former UNH Police Chief Tracy L. Mooney; Ronald M. Quagliani, UNH associate vice president of public safety and administrative services; Christopher J. Reed, UNH director of safety and training and fire marshal; and UNH Assistant Police Chief Donald F. Parker, Sgt. Kevin Holster and Officer Ony Sierra.

Gilman, who most recently was director of campus safety at Mitchell College in New London, succeeds Mooney, who retired the same day after three years of service.

A 1993 graduate of UNH, he is a former 22-year member of the Connecticut State Police.

(City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Deanna Gilman pins a chief of police badge on her husband, new UNH Chief James T. Gilman. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Group shot

Mayor Rossi with UNH officials, from left, Christopher J. Reed, director of safety and training; Officer Ony Sierra; Assistant Police Chief Donald F. Parker; Police Chief James T. Gilman; Sgt. Kevin Holster; and Ronald M. Quagliani, associate vice president of public safety and administrative services. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Fireworks ad book

Ad book supports overtime costs for Savin Rock Fireworks Spectacular

WEST HAVEN, May 3, 2019 — For the second year, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi has rolled out an ad book fundraising campaign to help cover overtime costs for the Savin Rock Fireworks Spectacular, which is set for 9:15 p.m. July 3.

Rossi said the ad book proceeds will specifically pay for police and public works overtime during the annual fireworks display, which is launched off Bradley Point and presented by the Savin Rock Fireworks Committee.

“Your support of this ad book will directly impact the overtime costs that come along with the city holding the fireworks,” Rossi said.

Ad book forms are available in the mayor’s office at City Hall, 355 Main St., or download an ad book form at July 3 Fireworks.

Four ad sizes are offered: $45 for a business card, $75 for a quarter page, $100 for a half page and $185 for a full page. Checks are payable to City of West Haven.

Send ads by June 14 to the Office of the Mayor, 355 Main St., West Haven, CT 06516. Or send a business card, letterhead or other information to the mayor’s office, and the office can create an ad. Send PDF files to

Corporate sponsorships are also offered: $1,000 for red level, $750 for white level and $500 for blue level. For details, call the mayor’s office at 203-937-3510.

Rossi said the city will charge both residents and nonresidents for parking on July 3. The fee is $5 for vehicles with a valid beach sticker and $10 for vehicles without a valid beach sticker. All parking proceeds will also support overtime costs, she said.

The fireworks display, billed as “the region’s largest Independence Day fireworks show,” draws an estimated 100,000 people of all ages to the city’s 3 ½-mile shoreline each year. The rain date is July 5.

Before the patriotic event, partygoers can shake, rattle and roll to live music at the Savin Rock bandstand from 6:30-9 p.m.

Fusco named West Haven’s first poet laureate

Fusco named West Haven’s first poet laureate

WEST HAVEN, May 3, 2019 — Tony Fusco, holding a mayoral proclamation observing National Poetry Month, is appointed the honorary position of poet laureate of West Haven by Mayor Nancy R. Rossi during a ceremony April 29 at City Hall.

Along with announcing Fusco as the city’s first poet laureate, Rossi issued the proclamation, saying, “Poetry affects every aspect of life in the United States today, including education, the economy, and community pride and development.”

As the city’s official poet, Fusco, a lifelong resident who lives on Shingle Hill Road, will appear at readings and conduct workshops as an advocate for the reading and writing of poetry.

He has written three books of poetry, including “Java Scripture,” featuring poems about his youth, Savin Rock and Allingtown. His poetry has won many awards, including the prestigious Sunken Garden Poetry Prize.

Fusco has a master’s degree in creative writing from Southern Connecticut State University and is co-president of the Connecticut Poetry Society.

(City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Scouts honor

Scouts honor

WEST HAVEN, May 3, 2019 — Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, center, joins Den Leader Maureen Malone-Beckwith, Den Chief Will Armour and members of Cub Scout Pack 202 of Pagels Elementary School on April 29 at City Hall.

Sitting, from left, are Ryan Malone, Nico Antonucci, Anthony Maloney Jr. and Aadi Neujahr.

The fifth grade Cub Scouts, who are the rank of Webelos, met with Rossi in the City Council chambers to discuss local government and fulfill an elective for their Arrow of Light award.

The Arrow of Light, which is also its own rank, is awarded to Cub Scouts who have completed the Webelos rank and prepares them to become Boy Scouts.

(City Photo)

Applications available for summer youth jobs

Applications available for Summer Youth Employment Program

WEST HAVEN, May 3, 2019 — Applications for the Summer Youth Employment Program are available through May 31 in the athletic director’s office at West Haven High School and the main office at Bailey Middle School.

The summer program, which runs July 8-Aug. 2, is aimed at funding positions for low-income residents ages 14-21.

Students must pick up and drop off applications at their school office.

Drop off applications with all required documents from 9-11 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the high school and from 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Bailey. No applications will be processed after noon May 31.

Students who attend other schools must pick up applications in the Department of Human Resources on the second floor of City Hall, 355 Main St., where the completed forms must be returned from 9-11 a.m. weekdays.

Students must also include copies of information, such as a birth certificate and Social Security card, as well as documentation of household income.

Family income is based on the number of people per household and is required to be within 185 percent of state poverty income levels.

Applicants will be notified by mail or phone if more information is needed.

‘Boot’ program resumes Wednesday, May 1

‘Boot’ program resumes

WEST HAVEN, May 3, 2019 — City residents who are delinquent on their taxes are urged to pay their overdue taxes as soon as possible.

The “boot” program resumed May 1, and those who are delinquent on their motor vehicle taxes risk their vehicles being immobilized with a wheel-locking boot.

TaxServ Capital Services LLC of Hartford is the city’s vendor that administers the program in cooperation with Vioalert Systems LLC of West Haven.

A vehicle-mounted ID system that is part of the boot program uses an infrared license plate scanner to target tax scofflaws. Vehicles are released of the boot once their owners pay all delinquent taxes and the boot fee.

Additionally, delinquent personal property taxes for business owners who have not paid their taxes have also been turned over for collection. Properties with delinquent real estate and sewer bills have now been liened, and collection proceedings are in process.

Taxpayers can check if they owe any back taxes and pay online at Tax Collector. They can also pay in person in the tax office on the first floor of City Hall, 355 Main St.

Tax Collector Dorothy Chambrelli has launched an aggressive campaign for collecting taxes.

“Please do not ignore your taxes; everyone must do their part,” Chambrelli said. “Your failure to pay negatively affects the entire city.”

Taxes accrue additional interest on the first day of each month.

Building Department changing hours to better serve contractors

Building Department changing hours to better serve contractors

WEST HAVEN, April 26, 2019 — To meet the needs of contractors and building owners, the Building Department is changing its normal business hours to accept building permit applications on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a new time of 8-11:30 a.m., Mayor Nancy R. Rossi announced.

The schedule change will start May 7 and continue throughout the summer months, ending Aug. 30, confirmed Planning and Development Commissioner Fred A. Messore, who manages the Building Department.

Rossi said she appreciates the department’s building official, Frank Gladwin, and his staff adjusting their hours to better serve contractors and building owners.

Rossi said the schedule change will allow people to obtain permits earlier on Tuesday and Thursday mornings while providing a more business-friendly approach to helping contractors and promoting economic development across the city.

The regular hours of 9-11:30 a.m. for building permit applications will continue on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Messore said.

The Building Department will continue all inspections and administration duties until 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

The city will reserve the right to modify days or hours based on the success of the schedule change, said Messore, who approved the change with Personnel Director Beth A. Sabo.

Scholarship offered in memory of schoolteacher

Scholarship offered in memory of teacher who died of breast cancer

WEST HAVEN, April 26, 2019 — The city’s Breast Cancer Awareness Committee is accepting applications for a scholarship fund it founded in memory of a third grade Savin Rock Community School teacher who died of breast cancer.

The 17th annual Susan A. Ruickoldt Scholarship Fund will award $2,000 to a female high school senior from West Haven who plans to continue her education.

Candidates must submit an application form, an official transcript and a class rank, as well as a 250-word essay on achievements and goals and a 250-word essay on the importance of breast cancer screening and education.

Applicants must also submit a letter of acceptance from a postsecondary school and a letter of intent to attend the school.

Applications are available in the guidance office and physical education department at West Haven High School, 1 McDonough Plaza. They are also available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays in the Department of Human Resources at City Hall, 355 Main St.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. May 13.

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