Groton Utilities Commissioner Edward DeMuzzio resigned on Monday and the Groton City Council voted to accept the recommendations of the Board of Ethics critical of DeMuzzio and two other Groton Utilities officials for attending a 2016 trip to the Kentucky Derby. DeMuzzio defended himself and his colleagues, General Manager of Utility Finance David Collard and Director Ronald Gaudet saying they made an error in judgment but were unfairly classified as unethical.
RELAXING GAS STATION RESTRICTIONS
Norwich aldermen last night agree to eliminate a zoning requirement that mandated new gas stations in the city couldn’t be built within 1-thousand feet of existing ones. The decision came after a lengthy public hearing dominated by representatives of Cumberland Farms, who hope to convert an abandoned fuel station in the East Great Plains area into a gas station and convenience store, and those representing a Mobil filling spot located diagonally from the site, who are opposed to the project. The City Council last night also approved an 800-thousand dollar bond issue for a new water irrigation system at the city’s golf course. The project is expected to save as much as 100-thousand dollars annually in water bills.
At a time when statues of controversial historical figures are coming down across the country, a group of activists is seeking protection for the Christopher Columbus statue in New London. Lori Hopkins-Cavanaugh organized a “Stand for Columbus” event on Monday, claiming the city would be making a big mistake if the statue were to be removed. Hopkins-Cavanaugh says New London officials need to take the necessary legal steps to protect the Columbus statue. She also chastised the New London school board for removing Columbus Day from the school calendar and replacing it with Indigenous People’s Day. Mayor Mike Passero says there have been no serious calls to remove the statue. He accused Hopkins-Cavanaugh of grandstanding by hosting yesterday’s event.
DRUG OP BUSTED
Plainfield Police say at around 1:30 Sunday afternoon officers responded to 30 Marie Street in the Wauregan section for a domestic dispute. Upon investigation police later found an elaborate marijuana grow operation inside the residence and seized 50 marijuana plants, 50 pounds of marijuana, explosives, weapons and marijuana cultivation equipment. Police say arrest warrants are pending and the incident remains under investigation.
Former New London School Superintendent Manuel Rivera officially became a Board of Education candidate on Monday. Rivera was one of two names submitted to fill vacancies on the Democratic slate of school board candidates. Rivera, retired last month and is now working as a consultant. Rivera said that with all of the projects and initiatives underway in the district and with just two board members seeking reelection, his working knowledge of the district and relationships at the state level would be an asset. Jason Catala, a Rivera critic, called Rivera’s candidacy a “definite conflict of interest.”
TAX BILLS GOING OUT
The lack of an approved state budget prompted Norwich city officials to delay motor vehicle tax bills because under a state statute enacted last year, it caps motor vehicle taxes at 32 mills. Norwich’s citywide tax rate for 2017-18 is 40.52 mills. The statute calls for the state to reimburse the city for the difference, but city officials were unsure whether the state legislature would change that law in the current budget crisis. The continuing budget impasse also prompted city administrators to ask the City Council to delay position cuts and new hiring until Nov. 1st. The council voted unanimously Monday to approve the delay expected to have a “neutral” effect on the overall budget, but might necessitate budget transfers among city departments later in the fiscal year.
PHONE SYSTEM PROBABLY NOT FIXED
The Norwich public school phone system is working again, but school officials aren’t convinced the 2-year-old system has been fixed permanently. School administrators will seek grant funding just two years after receiving multiple grants to pay for an entire new $385,000 system. Officials have discussed joining the system installed last year for city government and Norwich Public Utilities phones. That system was estimated to cost $700,000, but Superintendent Abby Dolliver said school phones would not need to be as advanced as those used by the utility – with features such as video capability – so the final cost could be lower.
JOSE DUMPS DIVERSITY EVENT
Organizers of The “Norwich Rotary Celebrate Cultural Diversity” event scheduled for today has been postponed because of the approaching tropical storm. It will now take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 25th. at Howard T. Brown Memorial Park. The event will feature foods from different cultures prepared by 20 participating restaurants and diverse groups, as well as a mix of live music and dance from around the world and Harbor Glow on the Norwich waterfront.