WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE

NL BUDGET REPEALED

Concerns about a more than nine-percent tax increase have prompted the New London city council to repeal its 90-million dollar budget. A group of citizens submitted a petition challenging the spending plan after it was approved back in May. Mayor Mike Passero says he’s hoping a state budget will be approved later this month so the council knows how much state aid to expect. Republican candidates said the council is doing a disservice to residents by “sitting on their hands” while the state budget is still in limbo. Council President Anthony Nolan says the process of determining which spending cuts have to be made is well underway but won’t be easy. Republican city council candidate Tim Ryan says the city has to consider efficiencies that are not dependent on state funding. He says combining the school and city finance departments would be a good place to start.

SCHOOL REOPENS AFTER PCB CONCERNS

Students at North Stonington Elementary School were back in session on Tuesday afternoon. The school building was closed after air and dust samples in three rooms showed high levels of PCB’s, a suspected carcinogen. Books, classroom supplies and other items were vacuumed and wiped clean of any suspected contaminants. The only visible signs of the remediation process were occasional silver-colored vertical stripes running down the school’s walls: a special kind of paint that captures PCBs and ensures they don’t get into the air.

EL FAMILY ESCAPES FIRE

No one was injured and a dog was able to escape, when fire damaged a single-family home at 61 Dean Road in East Lyme on Tuesday night. A neighbor said she heard yelling and thought it was just kids playing outside, then realized her neighbor was calling her dog to get him out. Several local fire departments including the firefighter safety team from Old Saybrook assisted the Flanders Fire Department. Cause of the fire is under investigation.

GOT THE GOVERNOR’S EAR

Gov. Malloy (WFSB)

Groton officials sat down with Gov. Malloy for a half-hour in Hartford on Tuesday to discuss the impact of state budget cuts on Groton. According to a news release from Groton Public Schools, Malloy’s message to them was, urge state legislators to pass a budget that restores fair funding to school districts. The updated executive order Malloy released on Aug. 18th has Groton losing $17.53 million in state Education Cost Sharing funding compared to last year’s amount. School Superintendent Michael Graner said the meeting with the governor was a “good exchange of ideas.”

OD NUMBERS SURPRISING

Norwich officials said Tuesday they’re examining the data from the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner that shows Norwich with 19 fatal drug overdoses, being the highest number in Eastern Connecticut since the start of the year. The data shows New London with nine, Groton seven and Willimantic six fatal overdoses. Angela Duhaime, coordinator of Norwich’s anti-drug Partnership for Success grant called the results for Norwich for the first half of the year “a little surprising,” noting that the city had 29 total overdose fatalities in 2016. Last week, the city announced a new initiative, Norwich Unhooked, which will use the web, social media and other avenues to offer residents information and resources about signs of drug abuse and where to get help.

GAS UP 40 CENTS

Gasoline prices are up 40 cents in the past week. The average price for regular unleaded gas in the Norwich/New London area, according to AAA is $2.89. AAA spokesperson Amy Parmenter expects gas prices to rise another five or ten cents throughout the week. But, looking a few weeks out, she said things are looking up. Connecticut should see “a really significant drop-off in gas prices” soon, because supplies will be flowing again, there will be the option to switch to the cheaper winter blend of gasoline, and the end of summer results in less driving and therefore less demand.

NORWICH LOOKING FOR POET LAUREATE

Norwich should have its first honorary poet laureate by April. Aldermen last night agree to name someone to that position, which is aimed at promoting poetry at various local events and special occasions, and to increase arts awareness in the schools and other organizations. Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition Executive Director Wendy Barry says it’s a nice addition for Norwich. She says the designee will receive a yearly stipend, all through private donations. A five-member committee consisting of representatives from the local schools, arts collaborative, and the Otis Library will send to the City Council a recommendation for the poet laureate position. Norwich will become the 19th municipality in the state to have an official poet, and only the second one in the eastern part of Connecticut–New London is the other.

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