City Notes
Iris Milagros Diaz honored as city’s Hispanic of the Year

Mayor Nancy R. Rossi presents Iris Milagros Diaz with a black “Hispanic American of the Year” jacket at the city’s second annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration on the steps of City Hall on Friday. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Iris Milagros Diaz honored as city’s Hispanic of the Year

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 4, 2019 — Iris Milagros Diaz, a civic-minded steward of West Haven known for giving back to its thriving Hispanic American community, received the city’s Hispanic American of the Year award at the second annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration on Friday.

Mayor Nancy R. Rossi and the West Haven Hispanic Heritage Committee recognized Diaz, the daughter of parents hailing from Guayama, Puerto Rico, during a late morning ceremony on the steps of City Hall.

The committee bestows the award annually on a Hispanic resident, or couple, who personifies service in West Haven’s vibrant Hispanic American community.

At the 25-minute event, Diaz, 50, a longtime Allingtown fire commissioner, honored her Puerto Rican lineage with dozens of friends and loved ones, including her mother, Nancy Cruz; her brother, John Cruz; and her children, Mark Anthony Goodwin, 21, and Jessica Goodwin, 18.

Along with descendants of folks from Puerto Rico and Latin America, she was also joined by an array of city and state officials, including Reps. Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, and Charles J. Ferraro, R-West Haven, who presented Diaz with a General Assembly citation on behalf of the city’s delegation.

As the award’s first female recipient, Diaz, who won the Miss Puerto Rico of New Haven Pageant in 1988, told the crowd that she humbly accepted the honor on behalf of the entire Hispanic American community. She then thanked her mother and children and her colleagues from the City of West Haven Fire Department Allingtown, many of whom were in attendance.

“It is wonderful to see the diversity in our city and the lengths the leaders of our city go through to recognize and honor all cultures in our community,” said Diaz, a pioneer herself as the first Hispanic to sit on the Allingtown fire commission, including serving as its chairwoman in 2016-17.

A Latin-flavored lunch was provided by local restaurants after the event in the First Congregational Church of West Haven’s Fellowship Hall, opposite City Hall on the Green.

In observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs through Oct. 15, the city recognizes the important legacy of Hispanic Americans and the inspiring contributions they have made to the culture and history of the United States.

Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on the civic and cultural life of America, enhancing and shaping the national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.

Hispanic Heritage Month, which traces its roots to 1968, begins each year on Sept. 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days during that period.

Rossi said Diaz, a city resident since 2000, epitomizes the noble qualities of serving her community and carrying on the spirited traditions of Puerto Rico.

She is a member of the Latino Haven Committee of West Haven and was the Hispanic Society of West Haven’s public relations representative from 2004 to 2009.

A member of the Yale Latino Networking Group, she has been an ambassador and a steering committee member of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven since 2015.

After her reign as Miss Puerto Rico of New Haven, Diaz was a pageant coordinator, mentor and judge for many years.

Rossi lauded the public-spirited Diaz, whom she called a woman of faith and family, for her wholehearted devotion to the city and its robust Hispanic American community.

Rossi presented her with a Puerto Rican flag and a black jacket embroidered with her new title: Hispanic American of the Year.

The mayor also read a citation praising Diaz’s good works.

“As a pioneering resident of West Haven and the first Hispanic to serve on the Board of Fire Commissioners of the City of West Haven Fire Department Allingtown, your extraordinary story is treasured by our city,” Rossi said. “You are proof the American dream is alive and well!”

The cultural event included remarks from mayoral Executive Assistant Lou Esposito, the master of ceremonies. Before a blessing from Denya McGee, pastor of Abba’s House International Fellowship of North Branford, Maribel Aguilar-Meza sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Puerto Rican national anthem, “La Borinqueña.”

Diaz was born in the South Bronx, a borough of New York City, and moved to New Haven with her family at age 15.

Raised by her “single, strong, independent” mother, Diaz said she knew early on that she wanted to help make a difference in her community.

Her contributions to West Haven include serving as vice chair of the Charter Revision Commission.

She has also volunteered at other organizations through the years, including the West Haven Girl Scouts, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America and the New Haven Diaper Bank.

A 27-year employee of Yale University, Diaz is a clinical trials research recruitment coordinator at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, a department of the Yale School of Medicine.

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Mayoral Executive Assistant Lou Esposito, the master of ceremonies, opens the program with Mayor Rossi. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Puerto Rican national anthem

Maribel Aguilar-Meza sings the Puerto Rican national anthem, “La Borinqueña.” (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Denya McGee, pastor of Abba’s House International Fellowship of North Branford, gives the invocation. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

State reps.

Iris M. Diaz receives a General Assembly citation from state Reps. Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, far left, and Charles J. Ferraro, R-West Haven, on behalf of the city’s delegation as Mayor Rossi looks on. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Iris M. Diaz is presented with a Puerto Rican flag from Mayor Rossi. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Mayor Rossi reads a citation honoring Iris M. Diaz for her myriad good works. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Mayor Rossi and Iris M. Diaz share a warm embrace. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


After the ceremony, Mayor Rossi pauses with Iris M. Diaz and her mother, Nancy Cruz; her son, Mark Anthony Goodwin, second from left; her brother, John Cruz; and her daughter, Jessica Goodwin. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

Veterans concert
Helping others

Helping others

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 3, 2019 — Mayor Nancy R. Rossi joins President Omer Kizilcik of the Wellspring Community Center, formerly known as the Turkish Cultural Center of Connecticut, on Thursday at City Hall to announce the center’s gift of 120 pounds of ground beef to the West Haven Emergency Assistance Task Force.

The donation was made possible through the center’s partnership with Embrace Relief, a nonprofit international humanitarian relief and development organization based in Fairfield, N.J.

The beef was blessed Aug. 11-14 during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, meaning “Feast of Sacrifice.” The most important Islamic holiday marks the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim — Abraham to Christians and Jews — to sacrifice his son.

During the four-day holiday, Muslims slaughter sheep or cattle, distribute part of the meat to the poor, and eat the rest.

Rose Majestic, executive director of WHEAT at 674 Washington Ave., said the beef will feed 4,000 city families in need.

West Haven has the state’s largest Turkish American population.

(City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


Revaluation underway for homeowners in West Haven

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 3, 2019 — West Haven has hired the appraisal company Vision Government Solutions Inc. of Hudson, Massachusetts, to perform the city’s state-mandated 2020 revaluation.

Data mailers are being sent to residential property owners to verify property information. It is essential that all data mailers are returned.

In the coming year, Vision data collectors will verify information on file with the city assessor’s office and visit properties recently sold, with open building permits or with known physical changes.

All data collectors will be wearing an ID badge, and their vehicles will be registered with the West Haven Police Department.

Homeowners are encouraged to ask for identification before letting anyone into their homes. Those questioning the identity of a data collector can call the Police Department’s nonemergency line at 203-937-3900 or the assessor’s office at 203-937-3515 for further confirmation.

For more information on the revaluation process, call the assessor’s office at 203-937-3515.

Flu shot clinic

Oct. 18 flu clinic moved to Johnson Community Center at 201 Noble St.

WEST HAVEN, Oct. 3, 2019 — The Health Department is moving its flu clinic on Oct. 18 to the Johnson Community Center at 201 Noble St.

The walk-in clinic, originally set for the Savin Rock Conference Center, is from 9 a.m.-noon and for city residents 18 and older.

The following insurances are accepted: Medicare, Aetna and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Insurance carriers Cigna, ConnectiCare, UnitedHealthcare and Medicaid are not participating.

Residents should bring all insurance cards and wear a short-sleeved shirt.

People can also pay by cash or check. The private pay rate is $40 for a quadrivalent flu shot and $65 for a high-dose flu shot for those 65 and older.


Gov. advises Connecticut residents to take precautions against EEE

HARTFORD, Sept. 25, 2019 — Gov. Ned Lamont is advising Connecticut residents to take proper precautions to protect themselves against Eastern equine encephalitis, also known as EEE.

Read the governor’s official News Release.

Energy aid

Energy assistance offered

WEST HAVEN, Sept. 27, 2019 — The city will begin accepting applications for the federally financed Connecticut Energy Assistance Program in the Department of Human Resources on the second floor of City Hall, 355 Main St.

Appointments for all heating sources can be made, starting Oct. 1, by calling 203-937-3572.

Applications will be processed by appointment Mondays through Thursdays. No walk-ins will be accepted.

Applicants who have difficulty speaking English are asked to bring a translator.

Eligibility for assistance is based on the income and assets of an applicant’s household. To qualify, applicants must provide pay stubs, including monthly Social Security benefits and pension checks, for the last four weeks for all household members 18 and older.

Applicants must also provide documentation of assets — recent bank account statements for all accounts for all household members — along with a current utility bill, Social Security numbers and birthdates for all household members.

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