FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE

REID AND HUGHES

The future of the vacant Reid and Hughes building in Downtown Norwich could be determined on Monday night. The city council is expected to act on a proposed development agreement that would allow the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development to convert the Main Street building into housing and retail space. The deal would require the Institute to stabilize the building over the winter and secure financing for the project within three years. It’s expected to cost close to seven-million dollars. Institute officials say they would apply for funding and two zoning variances immediately if the agreement is approved.

DELAY IN LAYOFFS AND HIRING SOUGHT

City Hall Norwich

Norwich aldermen will be asked Monday night to delay any municipal employee layoffs or hirings until October 1st, due to the lack of a state budget. The City Council agreed to delay any such decisions until September 1st, when Norwich’s budget was adopted in mid-June. The budget does call for the elimination of several city positions, including a recycling coordinator, and two police officers. Aldermen approved the delay, in the hopes state funding could keep at least some of those jobs. State lawmakers say a budget vote may happen the week of September 11th.

NL MAN CHARGED WITH KILLING HIS COUSIN

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) – A New London man charged in the fatal shooting of his cousin in April has been arrested in Missouri. 30-year-old James Armstrong faces a murder charge in the April 12 shooting of Ralph Sebastian Sidberry in North Stonington. Armstrong was arrested July 27 in Waynesville, Missouri but he refused to waive extradition. Prosecutors are applying for a governor’s warrant, which is the formal process for bringing back a prisoner who refuses to waive extradition. Both victim and suspect are members of the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation. Sidberry’s mother is the tribal chairwoman. She confirmed that they are cousins and says her 31-year-old son leaves behind a 1-year-old daughter and a pregnant wife.

TRIBAL COMPLAINTS ABOUT THIRD CASINO

Members of the Eastern Pequot Tribe are speaking out against a decision by Governor Dannel Malloy to grant the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes the exclusive right to build and operate a third casino in Connecticut. Eastern tribal officials say Malloy’s decision is hypocritical and unconstitutional. Similar comments have been made by members of the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, who claim exclusivity rights amount to an unfair monopoly on gaming. The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes are looking to jointly-operate a casino in East Windsor to help stave off competition from an MGM Resorts casino being built in Springfield, Mass.

PRESTON DISPUTE REGARDING EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT

Preston officials are at-odds over a proposal to add seven non-union school employees to the town’s retirement plan. The Board of Finance is asking its attorney to take legal action forcing the town’s board of selectmen to refer the issue to the finance panel for its recommendation. Selectmen have already decided to schedule a public hearing without the finance board’s input. They’re to set the date at an August 24th meeting.

GETTING READY FOR ECLIPSE

The skies will grow a little darker than usual for awhile Monday, thanks to a solar eclipse. Supervisor of Mystic Seaport’s Treworgy Planetarium Brian Kohler says here in our area, about two-thirds of the sun’s surface will be covered by the moon’s shadow between 2:30 and 3 PM, similar to what happens when a dark cloud covers the sun. Other areas of the country, though, will experience a total eclipse. Kohler says the total eclipse will occur in a diagonal area across the U-S stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. He says if you use eclipse sunglasses, make sure they have an I-S-O designation. Another solar eclipse will occur in the U-S in April, 2024. Kohler says Eastern Connecticut will experience a 90-percent coverage of the sun’s surface at that time.

LOTS OF COLOR THIS FALL

BOSTON (AP) – New England’s fall foliage forecast is looking so fine it’s enough to make a maple leaf blush. For the first time in several years, little has conspired against a truly glorious autumn. There’s no more drought, the summer has been mild and the leaves – largely spared by marauding gypsy moth caterpillars – look healthy. Foliage experts say all that suggests an optimal season for leaf peeping seems to be shaping up. Yankee Magazine’s annual forecast being released Friday predicts a particularly “strong and vibrant” display. Foliage expert Jim Salge compiled the forecast. He says the colors will really pop if September brings warm, sunny days and cool, crisp nights.

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