January 31, 2010

Grave neglect?

Hidden behind a modern garage on Stearns Street is a tiny patch of lumpy ground with a smattering of weathered headstones placed almost haphazardly within the confines of old stone and metal fencing.
Beneath the ground lies the dust of some of the founders of Bristol.
At least two dozen people are buried within the walls, with 19 headstones remaining to mark their remains, some of them broken, cracked and beaten down by more than two centuries to the point where they are barely legible.
Though Judge Epaphroditus Peck, one of the city’s early chroniclers, called the cemetery “the most historic place in town” in an 1897 letter, it is almost entirely forgotten today.
Last week, the ground was littered with grocery store receipts, water bottles, pieces of aluminum that appeared to have blown off a house and a plastic bag with a Christmas tree printed on it.
Still, it exists.
That the city’s oldest burying grounds survives at all is the result of George Dudley Seymour’s efforts a century ago to preserve the landmark when neighbors wanted to develop the parcel.
Instead, he won approval to erect thick stone walls on three sides, with a metal fence separating it from the immaculately groomed and much larger St. Joseph Church cemetery next door.
In use from 1758 until 1824, the cemetery contains the remains of 11 of the 12 founders of the Anglican Church of New Cambridge, the first name for the community that ultimately became Bristol.
It may be that the overall neglect of the cemetery is rooted in that distant past, when loyalists to the Church of England were usually loyal to the king as well.
And in that revolutionary period, failing to support the cause of independence that ultimately led to the creation of the United States was, to put it mildly, not easy.
Peck reports that most of the people in New Cambridge “were intensely patriotic” and 50 or more of them served in the American army during the Revolutionary War.
The first Episcopal minister to conduct a religious service in what became Bristol, the Rev. William Gibbs, was carted off to jail in Hartford in 1749 with his hands tied under a horse’s belly because he refused to pay taxes to support the established Congregational Church. He wound up going insane, perhaps from the harsh treatment he received from the “presumptuous and bold men” he opposed.
Many other members of the church in the area were persecuted during the period and one, Moses Dunbar of Burlington, was hung for allegedly spying for Britain.
According to a history compiled by Mike Saman in 2004, the Anglicans first built a church on Federal Hill Green in 1754, on the site where Patterson Place stands, a former school. It became the second Episcopal parish in Hartford County.
When war came in 1775, “the meeting house men” from the independence-minded Congregational Church told the Anglicans that if they prayed for the king, “we will kill you,” according to E. Leroy Pond’s book The Tories of Chippeny Hill.
So the members of the Church in New Cambridge closed its doors in silence,” Pond wrote.
They fled to homes on Chippens Hill or to the Tory’s Den cave.
Their minister, the Rev. James Nichols, was shot at several times by patriots and was tarred and feathered at least once, according to Peck.
During the war, the Congregational Church, which served as the local government, confiscated most of the Anglican Church’s 4 acres on Federal Hill, Saman said.
“They took the property away by adverse possession,” Saman said, because it had been abandoned.
Members were able, however, to fix up their old building and try to reestablish their place in the community.
But with only 29 members, the costs were too great so in 1790, Saman said, they joined “with the Episcopalians of East Plymouth’s East Church later called St. Matthews Church.”
On Chippens Hill, the church was on Old Marsh Road in a building that is now a private home, said Saman.
At that time, they sold the church building on Federal Hill to Abel Lewis, Saman said, who used it as a barn until it burned down.
During the 19th century, after the last burial, the cemetery was used as a pasture, largely neglected. But Seymour’s call to preserve it found wide support and the Daughters of the American Revolution cared for it for at least a few decades in the early 20th Century.
Most recently, an Eagle Scout project in 2001cleaned up the cemetery and erected a wooden sign listing those buried within its walls.
In 1891, Charles Shepard copied the inscriptions from the remaining stones at the cemetery, preserving some of the words that are no longer present.
Among the remaining stones is one for Hannah Hill, who died in 1766 at the age of 29.
At the top of the stone marking her resting place is what looks like a smiley face with a dozen or so octopus-like arms reaching out below it.
At the base of the marker on one recent day sat a crushed McDonald’s soda cup.

City refuses to take over cemetery
The city’s Cemetery Commission recently refused a request from the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut to take ownership of the historic burying ground.
Members said the city has too much on its plate to take on any extra expense.
Mike Saman, secretary of the panel, said the church “doesn’t want to have it anymore. They want to get rid of it.”
Saman said the diocese ought to pay the city $80,000 to fix up the cemetery and care for it as part of any deal for Bristol to take it over.
Instead, he said, “they just want to abandon it. I don’t think the city should take it.”
Saman said the church has the responsibility of caring for the cemetery, but won’t do it.
“They have an obligation to do something,” Saman said.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 30, 2010

Public works seeks to triple outlay for paving streets

Worried that repairing crumbling streets will wind up costing taxpayers far more in the long run, public works officials are seeking to triple the money the city allocated for road resurfacing during the next fiscal year.
The budget panel for the Public Works Board recently recommended allocating $1.9 million for repaving city streets. That compares to the $650,000 it will likely spend this fiscal year, which ends in June.
“This is what we think we need to somewhat hold our own,” Public Works Director Walter Veselka said.
But with politicians and fiscal overseers fretting that revenues are down and wary of hiking property taxes, the prospects for winning approval for the spending are poor.
Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowski, whose Board of Finance does most of the work of setting the yearly spending plan, said, “We’ll look at it very closely, as we do with all budgets.”
“I know damn well they’re going to cut it,” said Don Padlo, a long-serving public works commissioner.
Last year, public works sought $2.2 million for its overall streets budget – which includes paving, sidewalk repairs and a number of related items – but emerged with $1.3 million in its final revised budget.
This time around, public works officials are angling for $2.6 million, despite warnings that city spending will generally be frozen at this year’s level.
“We can’t take another $1 million hit,” said city Councilor Cliff Block.
For the complete story, click here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 29, 2010

City seeks 5 percent sewer fee hike

With more than $15 million worth of sewer projects on tap during the next decade, the city is trying to stash away some cash to make sure that residents don’t get soaked paying for them.
Public works officials are calling for a 5 percent hike in the sewer rate this year followed by 5 percent increases in each of the next three years in order to ensure the projects can be done without clobbering taxpayers all at once.
Brian Fowkes, who oversees the sewer division, said that a 5 percent hike in the coming fiscal year will cost the average user $10.
The average homeowner would see sewer bills rise from $193 annually to $203 per year, Fowkes said.

For the whole story, click here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Commuter rail price tag? Perhaps $443 million

A new estimate from commuter rail backers pegs the cost of creating commuter rail between Waterbury and Hartford at $443 million.

The figure includes new stations, tracks and other necessary improvements, supporters said.

Peter Lynch, an Old Saybrook resident with decades of experience with the New Haven Railroad, said at the meeting, “Fixing up the railroad here is not a big deal.”

He said the line, which had trains running on double tracks every half hour back in the 1920s, can up upgraded again for about $1 million a mile.

The work, Lynch said, “is relatively simple” and not time-consuming.

“There’s nothing easier than upgrading existing railroad,” Lynch said.

He said that commuter rail running from Bristol through New Britain and Newington into Hartford would take 27 minutes. Taking a bus from Bristol would take 50 minutes when the busway is finished.

For Plainville, Lynch said, the difference is 20 minutes by train to Hartford or 40 minutes by bus.

As a freight line, the railroad is marginal these days, Lynch said. But with commuter rail, there would be money to keep the track in top condition, spurring more freight use as well.

Lynch said he has no vested interest in the outcome of the busway versus rail battle. He said it makes more sense to provide commuter rail for a third of the state for less than $500 million than it does to spend nearly $600 million on a busway that only a few towns would benefit from. 

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Rail vs. Bus feud breaks into the open

When regional planners gather next week, supporters of a proposal commuter rail line in Central Connecticut are hoping to derail the $579 million busway between New Britain and Hartford.
A taste of how bitter the debate has grown cropped up Thursday at the Central Connecticut Transportation Improvement Committee session in Bristol when officials on each side lashed out at the other.
New Britain Mayor Tim Stewart accused rail backers at the meeting of “disrespectful and extremely disingenuous” behavior in trying to ambush the busway plan at the ordinarily mundane transportation meeting.
The public works director of New Britain, Mark Moriarty, said “calls were made behind New Britain’s back” to try to round up rail supporters to “put a kink” in the busway’s progress at Thursday’s session. He described himself as furious at the effort.
But as advocates on both sides faced off, they agreed to leave what would ordinarily be a routine administrative decision to the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency, which meets next week. Read the whole story here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Bristol stands alone

The city of Bristol may be the only municipality in the country that has an overfunded pension plan for its employees that's got enough surplus cash to shift some of it pay for retiree health care.
City Comptroller Glenn Klocko said today he's checked with all the bond rating firms, which keep tabs on municipal finances everywhere, and none of them know of another city that has such an excess in its pension fund.
The city has about $500 million socked away, at least $100 million more than it is projected to need.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

25 years ago today

City historian Bob Montgomery just told us that 25 years ago today, the Barnes family announced it was selling The Bristol Press. That's a sad day in Bristol history.
Though corporate owners did right by the paper at first, it went into a free fall after the 1994 purchase of the then-thriving daily by a company I don't want to name or remember. Thank God we're done with them, after Mike Schroeder bought us a  year ago.
Though this remains a perilous time for any newspaper, at least we're still alive and still have hope that the world ahead still has room for this little paper's coverage of the town it has served since 1871.
Even so, I miss Bart Barnes.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Sorry for the slow week

There's been no time to do anything with this blog this week. Hopefully that'll change soon!
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 25, 2010

Welcome to the Connecticut Mirror

As if the internet didn't offer enough riches, there's a new must-see site for anyone who cares about Connecticut politics and government: the Connecticut Mirror.
It is a nonprofit that calls itself an "independent source of news and information about our state's government, politics and public policy."
Let's hope it flourishes.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 21, 2010

Charter panel delayed; Ward blames councilors

Blaming two city councilors who failed to submit nominees in time, Mayor Art Ward said he had to delay the creation of a charter revision commission until February.
That will give the new panel only a few months to recommend potential changes to the city government’s blueprint if its suggestions are going to wind up on this November’s ballot.
Ward said he wants the commission to weigh a few ideas, including the possible extension of the mayor’s term from two to four years, and to report to the council in time to let voters decide any recommendations this year.
“There’s not a lot of time,” Ward said, so the commission probably can’t have the sort of wide-ranging discussions that past panels have had.
The mayor refused to say which councilors failed to offer the name of someone to appoint to the seven-person panel, though he did say that Acting Mayor Ken Cockayne submitted one.
Several city insiders said the former city Councilor Craig Minor, an ardent support of a city manager, was among the names that were submitted.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

The mansions of our would-be leaders

Rick Green has a terrific post today. Go look at it.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Supreme Court throws aside campaign finance laws

In the sort of breathtaking edict that really ought to be decided on something other than a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court today tossed out longstanding restrictions on corporate campaign spending. The majority basically said companies can spend whatever they like.
The floodgates are going to be open wide.
Having watched this issue for decades, I'm not surprised, but I'm still stunned.
Justice John Paul Stevens' dissent has it just about right, I'm afraid. He said, ''The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation.''
This is also a very strange overreaching by the majority, who took a legitimate case in which federal restrictions were wrong, and leaped way past the facts to make a sweeping ruling that undermines everything about campaign finance laws. Talk about judicial activism!
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Bristol Nine hire marketing director

Former Republican City Council hopeful Derek Czenczelewski got a job recently as the marketing director for the Bristol Nine, the new collegiate league baseball team in town. So don't be surprised if he hits you up to be a sponsor or some such thing!


Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Welch forms new Facebook campaign page

Welch and his family at a Tea Party gathering at the Capitol last April.

Republican state Senate contender Jason Welch is putting the pieces together quickly for a solid run against veteran Democrat Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat.
His Facebook campaign page already has 117 fans, which isn't bad for a couple of weeks. He also has LinkedIn campaign page that's still pretty new.
One thing's for sure, his family doesn't mind politics. Here's his wife, Elizabeth, and kids campaigning in Massachusetts Tuesday for the successful GOP contender for a U.S. Senate seat, Scott Brown:

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Interesting thing to note about the blog

It's fascinating to me that the comments on my blog entries are far, far more enlightening and much less angry when they're made on my Facebook page rather than directly on the blog.
For those who don't know, I have a feed for this blog running on my wall on Facebook, where it gets mixed in with status updates, new 'friends,' and such. It's possible for people to make comments on the Facebook wall.
With growing frequency, they do, most all of them related to blog entries. What makes the comments better, I'm sure, is that all of them -- every single one of them -- is made by someone whose identity is clear. Heck, most of the time there's even a tiny picture of the person.
I say this in part as a mere observation. But I also invite anyone who'd like to be a Facebook friend and check out how that works. It may be better for some of you.
You can find me on Facebook by searching for "Steve Majerus-Collins." And while you're there, become a Fan of Youth Journalism International.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 20, 2010

Firefighters say they'll buy the accounting books

With the mayor refusing to cough up city cash for a $20 volume of accounting rules sought by at least two city councilors, the city’s firefighters are stepping into the breach.
“We’ll pay for them,” said Tom Bentivengo, who heads the fire union.
Bentivengo said the union is willing to purchase a half dozen copies of the Government Accounting Standard Board’s 200-page book detailing the need for municipalities to detail the costs of any post-employment benefits that employees are slated to receive.
Mayor Art Ward, who refused to authorize buying the books with city money, said he appreciates the union’s willingness to buy them.
But, he said, “they’d be better off donating the money to Haiti.”

Read the rest in The Bristol Press, link to follow.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

School superintendents to state: Raise taxes

Here's a missive sent out today to the entire state legislature by Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents:

Beginning with the deliberations by the State Legislature and the Governor regarding the State budget for FY 2010, continuing through the current deliberations with respect to how to address a mid-year a projected State budget deficit and sure to continue regarding deliberations with respect to the State budget for FY 2011, there has been, is and will continue to be strong arguments for cutting State spending.  The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), along with every other organization that represents institutions that are largely dependent upon State funding for operational and capital expenses, has been and will continue to be advocating for no reductions in State spending for these institutions which in the case of CAPSS is public education. 

This is all well and good but as long as CAPSS and others engage in a struggle to keep as much as possible of a State budget that gets adjusted only on the expenditure side, all of us are  in the position of trying to keep dry our own particular sections of a ship that is sinking.  In other words, to address only the expenditure side of the State budget with no attention being paid to the revenue side of the budget is to engage in an effort that is doomed to failure before it even begins.

CAPSS recognized this in the early 1990s when the State faced a budget situation that was similar to the one that the State currently faces.  At that time, CAPSS was among the first educational organizations that called for the institution of a State income tax in order to bolster State revenues so as to avoid reductions in State expenditures.    A State income tax was established and this made possible the avoidance of a major reduction in State financial support for public education and other publicly provided services.

Since the State faces today a budget situation that is in many ways similar to the one that it faced in the early 1990s, CAPSS has decided to call for a reasonable increase in State taxes as a portion of the effort that the State should make to resolve the current and near future budget problems.  If the State were to do this, it would re-employ the approach that worked well in the past whereby the solution to similar problems depended on a balance between reduced expenditures and increased revenue.

By deciding to call for a reasonable increase in State taxes, CAPSS hopes to focus attention on the following questions.

·         Would a reasonable increase in taxes hurt or hinder a recovery from the current recession?  The conventional wisdom indicates that an increase in taxes would hinder a recovery but this wisdom appears to ignore the negative economic impact of the layoff of public employees at the state and local levels that would be the result of reductions in State expenditures.

·         Would reductions in State expenditures actually balance the State budget?  If state and local employees experience either a reduction in wages and salaries or a total loss of wages and salaries, the State revenue that is derived from the income tax would decrease.  So, reductions in State expenditures would result in further losses in State revenue.  If this process were to be repeated enough times, it could constitute a fiscal death spiral.

CAPSS believes that a candid and comprehensive discussion of these and other related questions would lead to a resolution of the present fiscal problem and would also foster a cooperative spirit among all state leaders, a spirit that would enhance the State’s ability to address similar problems in the future.  CAPSS stands ready to participate in these discussions and to do so in a responsible and cooperative manner.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Nicastro to head mandate relief effort

State Rep. Frank Nicastro said he is "very excited" to have been tapped by the House speaker to serve as co-chair of a panel that's going to look into unfunded mandates and state grants during the next year or so. He said it's a great opportunity.
“We’re looking to see what we can do immediately in this up and coming budget year,” he said, “but we’re also looking ahead to” the next few years.
“We sure as heck can’t get everything done” in such a short time, but the panel will “try to get what we can get,” Nicastro said.
Read all about it in Thursday's Bristol Press. Here's the link.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Get ready to pay up, folks

The news that the New York Times plans to start making heavy online readers pay for access -- here's the link -- is just one more indication of how the web's future may play out.
Our own publisher, Michael Schroeder, has frequently said he plans to start charging for access to our newspaper's website. You can be sure the day will come when it happens.
It's an odd thing, really, that more people than ever read stories that reporters write, thanks to all those online readers, but the revenue has not only failed to keep pace, it's declined.
We're actually providing more news to more people than ever. But we have to find ways to bring in the money to pay for reporters, editors, photographers and the array of wonderful people who actually bring in the cash by selling ads and such.
Perhaps the Times is on the right path.
Lord knows we have to do something differently.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Mayor to councilors: Use your own money

There aren’t a whole lot of people eager to read through the Government Accounting Standard Board’s volume on Accounting and Financial Reporting by Employers for Post-Employment Benefits Other than Pensions.
But two of them are city councilors.
Two Democrats – Kevin McCauley and Kate Matthews – have requested that Mayor Art Ward order the $20.50 books for them to plow through in a bid to better understand the issues involved in the proposal to shift some of the city’s excess pension funds into a fund that aims to pay for post-employment health care for city workers.

Ward told the Press that $20 a copy “may not sound like much,” but expenses add up. He said the city has to pare spending everywhere it can.
For the whole story, follow this link.

PS: To answer a comment on the story, Ward did not tell me about all of this. I'm quite sure he would have much preferred that nobody knew any of this. I learned about it elsewhere.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 19, 2010

Ward hands over the reins to Cockayne

Yup, you read that right.
Mayor Art Ward is leaving Wednesday night for a vacation in Florida. The acting mayor while he's gone? Republican Ken Cockayne.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Wright wants answers on mandates

In response to complaints about unfunded state mandates, state Rep. Chris Wright, a Bristol Democrat, sent the following letter to Mayor Art Ward and School Superintendent Philip Streifer this morning:

Dear Mayor Ward and Dr. Streifer,
Thank you for the list of mandates which the state has placed on the City of Bristol in the area of education.  I understand that the cost of these programs is of grave concern to the city and like all homeowners, I have no desire to see unnecessary expenses added to the city budget.  However, before voting on any of the proposals which you have listed, I would like some information on how these savings will be achieved.  Since the list which you have provided is quite extensive, I will limit my questions to some of the large ticket items.
 -                      In the area of Special Education, is it anticipated that savings will be made through the reduction or elimination of current programs?  If so, which programs will be affected and what will the effect be on the students currently enrolled in them?  For instance, will they be mainstreamed into other classes?
-                      In the area of Adult Education, are savings anticipated through a reduction or elimination of  GED or related classes, and what effect will this have on people currently in these classes?
-                      In the area of English Language Learners, is it anticipated that savings will be made by reducing or eliminating classes for individuals attempting to learn English, and what is the expected effect of these cuts?
-                      In the area of Continuing Education for teachers, is this cost simply the result of a state mandate, or is this included in the contract which the city currently has with its teachers?  In other words, would the elimination of this mandate itself bring a savings to the city, or would Bristol then have to re-negotiate with its teachers to achieve these savings?
-                      In the area of providing transportation for non-public school students, it is probably safe to assume that the elimination of this service will lead at least a few parents to enroll their children in public schools.  How many additional students do you foresee coming into the public school system, and how much is being budgeted for this contingency?
-                      Finally, in the area of Teacher/Administrator evaluations, is it your plan that Bristol, at least for the time being, not conduct performance evaluations on its teachers and administrators?  If this is not the plan, how is it anticipated that these savings will be achieved?
 Thank you for work and dedication to the schoolchildren of our city.  I look forward to your responses to me questions.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Busway versus railway

The current West Hartford Life has a good overview of the rail versus busway debate.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 18, 2010

Mandates cost city schools more than $14 million annually

Superintendent Philip Streifer outlined all of the partially funded and entirely unfunded mandates that weigh down the city’s $100 million education budget.
In testimony he offered to the legislature, Streifer said the tally for educational mandates alone come to more than $14.7 million annually.
That includes nearly $1million yearly to pay for transportation for students who don’t attend public schools.
Among the many other mandates are $130,000 in drug education required for health staffers, $500,000 annually for evaluations of teachers and administrators and $700,000 for special education.
See the entire list starting on page 3 of this link.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 17, 2010

Hamzy: State should do more

State Rep. Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican whose 78th District includes part of Bristol, weighed in with this response to the mayor:
    Thanks for your email and I do appreciate the frustration that you have with what's happened over the last couple of years.  I completely share that frustration.  As I have been saying for the last three years, everyone knew in early 2007 that our economy was on the brink of a very severe recession.  As you might remember, a conscious decision was made by the Governor and the legislative majority to ignore it and make no adjustments to our state's budget.  That decision has had severe ramifications. 
    Since that time, everyone has talked about the need to restructure government, to cut spending to create jobs and to relieve municipalities of unfunded mandates.  Well, what has happened since?  I'll tell you what has happened; Nothing.  The proof is in the pudding.  Other than transferring money from one account to another and scrounging all of the furniture the state owns for loose change, there have been no meaningful changes in how our state government functions.   
    As I've said repeatedly, no one likes to make unpopular or difficult decisions.  Just like raising children, no one wants to say no to their child.  But, when that's not done, the results are predictable.  We are more than two years into this recession and the primary problem is that there has been no acknowledgement by the legislative leaders of this reality.  They still believe that if we maintain the status quo, this will all blow over and we can go back to doing what we were doing.  (As a prime example of this, just look at the press conference Speaker Donovan had last week when he formed a task force to consider restructuring state government.)  Another task force?  Another task force to consider restructuring state government?  That's leadership?  That's a joke.
    But it's not funny because we're talking about the economic future of this state.  This is the state my parents immigrated to.  This is the state where I was born and raised and where I chose to make my home.  This is the state that I'd like my children to be educated in and hopefully choose to make their home.  But, none of that will happen if there are no economic opportunities.  And there will be no economic opportunties if taxes keep going up to pay for a bloated and inefficient state government.
    It's way past the time to establish task forces or to keep saying what people want to hear.  It's time to make some very unpopular decisions based on some common sense principles;
    Don't spend more than you make.
    Borrow only what you can afford to pay back.
    Provide all the government we need, but only the government we need.
    If a government program doesn't work, get rid of it.
    I do not believe you can be a responsible public servant and fulfill your duties by just opposing proposals made by other legislators.  That is why each time I have voted against a proposal, I have offered an alternative which I would support.  In concluding, I honestly believe that this state is on the precipice of a potential economic disaster.  We will not avoid this by putting our heads in the sand, maintaining the status quo and hoping it will go away as has been the approach over these last couple of years.  We will mitigate this by making some very politically unpopular decisions in order to put our state on better footing for the long term.  As a start, that means eliminating unfunded mandates on municipalities, eliminating government programs which exist because they have a politically powerful ally and expanding the partnership we have with our non-profit agencies to deliver services more cost effectively. 
    Unfortunately or fortunately, we have no other viable option.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Ward begs for mandate relief

Here is a note that Mayor Art Ward sent to the city's legislative delegation yesterday:

DO SOMETHING - As the mayor of the 11th largest community in the State of Connecticut, I am totally frustrated with the lack of consideration by the Governor, the General Assembly and our local legislative delegation for the budgetary concerns of our communities.
We are acutely aware of the economic constraints of the community, the state and the nation resulting from the ongoing recession but we are also totally perplexed with the lack of a plan or a direction from either the state or the nation with regard to the responsibility of the communities to deliver unfunded mandated services to our citizens.
The debate for the delivery of any of these unfunded mandates can readily be substantiated but the fact of the matter exists as to whether or not the cities/towns have the financial resources to provide the unfunded dictates of Hartford or Washington.  
This is a plea to our state legislature and our congressional delegation to grasp the reality that their actions, or lack thereof, are determining the ability of the local governments to comply with the needs of their communities.
While we are told that all of our concerns are paramount in the legislative process, the cites and towns are not experiencing any realistic, workable consideration for monetary relief from the constraints of unfunded mandates or any other viable alternatives to the dictates imposed upon our citizens.
I have testified about my views on this lack of awareness before numerous state committees and commissions, I have written and expressed my views to our state and federal representatives numerous times over the past two years and I am more frustrated over the lack of realistic acknowledgement of this quagmire than I am over whatever the ultimate decisions might be. 
Truthful, forthcoming, realistic decisions or discussions would afford the communities the ability to make sound, rational budgetary plans for the future of the taxpayers of our communities.
Most communities will soon be engaging in the annual budgetary process and uncertainty in these worst of economic times will definitely surface as the financial ogre determining this dilemma.
I respectfully request that our cities and towns be afforded accurate, financially responsible information and that we benefit from realistic, mutual, truthful approaches to the delivery of services to our citizens.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 16, 2010

Former Bristol woman gunned down in Florida

Two years after moving from Bristol to Florida, 61-year-old Kathryn Donovan was gunned down by her younger brother on Thursday Three other women were also shot, one of them fatally.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, Donovan was "an internationally renowned expert in the use of color and its affect on people."
The paper reported that Donovan, who used her maiden name of Kalisz in her business, was the founder of Sci\ART Global, LLC and the author of Understanding Your Color - A Guide to Personal Color Analysis.
The accused killer, John Kalisz, may have had Bristol ties as well. He apparently confessed to the shooting in a phone call to a friend, Jessica Denny, who lives in Bristol.
Donovan has three daughters, one of whom, Manessa, was shot by her uncle. He had allegedly molested her and a 30-year-old sister. Manessa survived despite four bullet wounds.
John Kalisz also shot and killed a police officer. The accused shooter was hit with a number of bullets fired by police, but survived.
Denny told Hernando Today about two conversations she had with John Kalisz:
In an emotional interview Friday, Denny, who lives in Bristol, Conn., told a Hernando Today reporter of her two conversations with Kalisz. One conversation lasted for five minutes; the other for about an hour, she said. During the latter conversation, she had local authorities on one phone and Kalisz on the other.

"He said he was at peace with his God," Denny said. "He said he loved me."
Denny said Kalisz had with a strained relationship with his older sister, Kathryn Donovan.
Kalisz spent Christmas with her in Bristol but seemed dejected, Denny said.
A few days later, most of Kalisz' possessions and his home went up in flames after an accidental fire when he relighted the pilot light on his stove.
"It just seemed like his life was falling apart," Denny said. "When he had that fire in his home, it destroyed everything he had."
His misguided anger was then aimed toward his sister, she said.
On Thursday, when she talked to him over the phone, she felt helpless, she said.
"It's like I was talking to a totally different person," Denny said, crying.
When Margaret Rose (Rutz) Kalisz, 80, died in 2008, her obituary said her husband had predeceased her, but she had two sons, John Kalisz of Estes Park, Colo. and Robert Kalisz of Bristol, and three daughters: Kathryn Donovan of Brooksville, Fla., Becky Berarducci and Linda Pleva, both of Plainville. Two sons died before their mother.
Police hereabouts have also had run-ins with John Kalisz, as this story from The Herald last winter shows.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 15, 2010

Katie Stevens in Bristol?

"American Idol' breakout star Katie Stevens, a 16-year-old from Middlebury, Connecticut, supposedly sang in Bristol during the Christmas season. Here are two videos:

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Ever pick tobacco in Connecticut?

I'd love to hear what it was like from anyone willing to talk on the record or send me their own written account. If you know anything in particular about the Cullman Bros tobacco farm in Simsbury, that would be even better.
You can write me at scollins@centralctcommunications.com. If you want to talk rather than write, just give me your name and phone number.
Oh, and if you have any photos, I'd really love to hear from you.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 14, 2010

City plans to sell surplus stuff

If you’ve ever wanted 14 boxes of miscellaneous cords or a broken Savin 3250 duplicator, then get ready for the city’s big surplus stuff sale.
The date has yet to be determined, however, and officials aren’t yet sure just how they’re doing to peddle the piles of used equipment.
But no matter how it goes the sale is bound to be a bargain hunters paradise, at least for those who aren’t too picky about what they buy.
City Purchasing Agent Roger Rousseau, who got stuck with the job of rounding up all the city’s unused equipment, said he’s eyeing the possibility of a live or online auction to sell off everything he’s squirreling away in an old schoolhouse on Chippens Hill.
Officials hope they can follow the lead of many families who are facing a shortage of cash and try to earn some greenbacks by dumping items the city doesn’t need anymore.
Some of it even sounds like it might be pretty good.
The police department, for instance, found a couple of motorcycles it doesn’t use anymore – a 1990 Harley Davidson and a 1998 Honda. There’s no word on their condition, however.
The Board of Education poked around and found, among other pieces, a French fry fryer, a bench-type jigsaw and a commercial refrigerator of uncertain vintage.
The library offered up 53 toddler chairs, 70 feet of industrial shelving, 10 fire extinguishers and more.
The city accumulated all sorts of unneeded computer monitors, servers, printers and other computer-related equipment.
The treasurer’s office tossed a coat rack and four check file cabinets into the for sale pile.
It doesn’t appear the mayor’s office found anything extra to sell, but perhaps Mayor Art Ward still needs to poke around in some of the darker corners to see what might be hanging around from days past.
The effort to sell off surplus stuff started last fall when freshman city Councilor David Mills said it might make sense to put it all on sale on eBay.
Rousseau said there may be some legal complications with selling it on eBay – contractual terms there apparently don’t pass muster with city lawyers – but other options exist.
He said he’s still trying to accumulate as much as possible to sell before figuring out exactly how to get rid of it all.
One complication, Rousseau said, is that it’s hard to set values for some equipment that’s quite old. But, he said, there are experts out there who can do it.
The Board of Finance’s purchasing committee will likely take the lead in figuring out how to proceed.
The city has had a little experience selling surplus material.
After it bought the downtown mall, it hired an auctioneer to sell all sorts of things left behind in there, from shelving to paintings.
About a decade ago, the city sold excess computer equipment at a sale at the Beals Senior-Community Center. At that sale, it simply priced used items and sold them like any tag sale vendor might.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Bristol: No interest in Armory

After city officials toured the massive old Armory recently, they agreed on what City Hall should do about the building: nothing.
“We don’t believe there’s a benefit to the city to take the building,” Mayor Art Ward.
The state is seeking to sell the 61 Center Street structure that once housed Army reservists while simultaneously providing space for high school basketball games, stag parties, wedding receptions and even a circus or two.
But the state ceased using the vast old building last year and set about trying to sell it.
Gov. Jodi Rell said that peddling the Armory and some other state-owned sites across Connecticut could bring in more than $50 million.
That’s looking mighty optimistic these days since there’s little interest in the Armory and only two sites considered more apt to sell: a seaside center that a developer once offered $7 million for the old Litchfield Jail.
But until the Department of Public Works reviews offers submitted for the Armory by the January 29 deadline, it’s impossible to know for sure whether anyone has serious interest in the structure.
The city has the legal right to match any bid if it wants to take possession.
But Ward said that based on reports he got from the city’s electrical inspector, an engineer and the public works director, there’s no reason for the city to buy the building.
See Friday's Bristol Press for the complete story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Former Press editor dies in Massachusetts

A former editor of The Bristol Press, Charlie Hibbert, died last night.
Hibbert, copy desk chief of the Cape Cod Times, was married and had two children.
One of our former Tattoo writers, Amanda Lehmert. a Bristol Central High School, worked as a reporter in Cape Cod with Hibbert before she moved on to the Greensboro, N.C. News & Record.
Lehmert said she shared with Hibbert her humble beginnings at the Press and is "so sad" to hear of his death. Here's a brief remembrance she wrote up:

In my experience, you could not upset Charlie or stress him, even on deadline. One Sunday night when I was working the cops shift, I found out that a the Sandwich police has recovered a dog that had bitten up its owner, been shot by cops, and still ran off. And it was alive, by god. This was, perhaps 15 minutes before Charlie had to wrap up the front page.
He made a tough call easily: unravel the carefully planned front page of the newspaper and plug in this last minute story because it was important to our readers. We had little time to get it right -- but we did it. Not a single grammatical error or spelling mistake.
Other editors might have let the folks pick up the story the next day. Not Charlie. That's what a true newsman is like. And for that he will be sorely missed.

I never met Hibbert, but I do know the world can ill afford to lose quality journalists. 
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 13, 2010

Courthouse closure eyed for Jan. 1, 2011

The state's judicial branch is eyeing the closure of the Bristol courthouse a few months earlier than it estimated as recently as Thanksgiving.
A letter to lawmakers today, available here, cites a plan to shutter the city courthouse by the end of the year, assuming lawmakers agree.
State Sen. Tom Colapietro told me he's still firmly opposed to having the courthouse shut down, a position shared by the city's entire legislative delegation.
Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat, said today that closing the courthouse would hike the costs for police and slice into the restaurant business downtown. He said taxpayers wouldn't save any money by shifting cases to New Britain.
Colapietro also said he's tired of the state always looking to Bristol to lose services in order to reduce costs. He mentioned the closing of the social services and unemployment offices as evidence.
To close the Bristol courthouse, state lawmakers would have to repeal a statute that mandates it stay open at least 40 weeks per year.
House Speaker Chris Donovan, a Meriden Democrat, said recently that it's something the legislature will have to consider as it searches for ways to reduce the budget. He said, though, that he recognizes there is a lot of opposition locally.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

City leaders pushing for train

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie had a chance yesterday to let us all know the particulars of his department's thinking on the busway and commuter rail, but he opted to present the information behind closed doors instead. It's a funny way to run a democracy.
Anyway, read reporter Jackie Majerus' story here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 12, 2010

Council seeks to cut deal with Renaissance for downtown

City councilors unanimously agreed to try to cut a deal with Renaissance Downtowns to lead the effort to overhaul the former mall site on North Main Street.

But they unexpectedly added some additional strings to the process by requiring that a city lawyer take a role in the negotiations between the Long Island-based developer and the Bristol Downtown Development Corp.

They also set up one more opportunity for the council to play a major role in the process by mandating that whatever deal is cut in the months ahead has to receive a green light from councilors before it can take effect.

Mayor Art Ward said he wanted to include the changes in order to make sure councilors are kept abreast of the talks and that their concerns are included in the negotiations.

“That’s all we asked them to do, to approve it so we could go on to negotiations,” said Frank Johnson, who heads the BDDC.

“Hopefully we can get an agreement pounded it,” Johnson said.

Renaissance is eyeing the creation of a new urban-style downtown that would include retail shops, housing and perhaps offices. It would be pedestrian-friendly with the aim of creating a thriving hub in the city center.

At this point, the company hasn’t said anything about the possible details, including costs, that its bid to transform the city-owned, 17-acre former downtown mall site may require.

The downtown agency, which the city created in 2006 to lead the effort, has tapped one of its members, Jennifer Janelle, to lead its negotiating.

The first meeting for negotiations must occur within 14 days, Johnson said. There’s another 120 days to complete the talks.

“I would hope we could get something sooner than that,” he said.

The city bought the former mall site in 2005 for $5.3 million and razed the mall two years ago. Officials said they wanted to control the fate of the crucial parcel.

One councilor was absent, Democrat Kevin McCauley, a city firefighter injured at the scene of a blaze a week and a half ago.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

City fuel usage shrinks

The city used 36,206 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel in December 2008, according to Mayor Art Ward.
He said the city used just 19,711 last month, a rather stunning drop.
The mayor credited more conservation among departments and employees. But, wow, that's quite a change.
I'll see if I can get more complete data for the year soon.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Casar choice delayed for a month

Details to follow later, but Mayor Art Ward told me he's not going to offer a Board of Finance appointment tonight. My understanding is that the mayor wants a chance to talk with Bob Casar first and plans to include the finance chair and vice chair in the talks.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 11, 2010

Casar eyed for finance board slot

City councilors plan Tuesday to fill three critical volunteer positions, including a vacancy on the powerful Board of Finance that controls city spending and borrowing.
If Mayor Art Ward’s choice is accepted for the nine-member panel, Republican Bob Casar will fill the slot left empty when its former vice chair, Roald Erling, resigned last fall.
Other major appointments on the agenda include the proposal to install Tom Barnes on the Bristol Downtown Development Corp. board and to tap Melissa Simonik as an assistant city attorney.
Casar said Monday he’s looking forward to the appointment, which the city’s GOP leader recommended to Ward last week.
“I would bring a unique skill set to the board with my background in both financial crimes investigation and auditing, experience that will likely make me professionally skeptical of some of our budget items,” Casar said.
He said he will “challenge public officials to remember that the taxpayers of Bristol are our customers” so fiscal overseers “need to be good stewards of their dollars, particularly during these trying economic times.”
Read the full story here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Stortz: Let's do downtown right

Former Mayor William Stortz just sent this email to the head of the Bristol Downtown Development Corp., Frank Johnson:

Hopefully the council will approve the tentative developer on Tuesday, and then the ball is back in your (BDDC) court. While both developers could do the job, I think you made the right choice. However, the ultimate results are now up to the city. We control, or should control, what happens from here on.

As I said at the workshop, I support the idea of housing DOWNTOWN. The easiest way to get people DOWNTON is to have some of them live there. Jane Jacobs said, “People are downtown”. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they all live on the mall site.

A few questions, food for thought. How can, how does the city propose to assure that there will be no subsidized or low-income housing on the site? As you may recall, many of the comments made last week revolved around the housing issues, on the Hill, in the West End, etc. I realize that those are outside the scope of the BDDC, but the mall site isn’t, at least at this time. As I talk with many people, that is one of the biggest concerns, for those possibly interested in moving DOWNTOWN, as well as other people in the city.

If there are large numbers of housing units on the site, how much space will be left to provide the amenities: services, businesses etc that the people living downtown want and expect? Logically, there should be some concentration of those so that if people walk 1,2, 3 blocks to get downtown, most of what they want will right there. On the other hand, people will probably not want to walk to 4,5.6 other sites to meet their needs.

Also, while economic times are bad, they will improve: how does the BDDC plan to address realistic construction and completion schedules?

I realize that we are dealing with a concept for the mall site at this time. Maybe the City should be looking at a concept for DOWNTOWN, which would support and supplement what could be done on the mall site. Done at the same time, working together with the developer might make for a win-win situation. The role of the BDDC is limited, at this time. Maybe it could be expanded, or maybe the city could step up. Maybe even the developer might provide some support with this effort. I have included as a P.S., a letter I sent to the mayor and the Chamber some months ago.

Next, Parking. While a study may be in the works, I find it hard to see how one can be done without some reasonable idea as to what is going on the site and DOWNTOWN. Hopefully it will address the potential of the whole DOWNTOWN area. People will only walk just so far and safety and security are major concerns. Will this be the city’s responsibility, the responsibility of the developer, or logically, some combination of the two? Other nearby sites might be considered as they become, or are made, available, to compliment the whole picture.

Lastly, as the BDDC goes forward with workshops and public hearings, I would ask that they make the conditions for those that want to speak, a little more comfortable. At the last workshop, the acoustics were poor and less than comfortable for those that chose to take part.

Frank, like many others, I have followed the saga of Bristol’s DOWNTOWN for a number of years. Did some research, talked and listened to many people. I am excited, as many others are too, that we might be gong forward in creating a better Bristol. But as I indicated, there are concerns that do exist. I am confident that collectively we will do everything that can be done to do what is right for Bristol.

We deserve it.


Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Wright: Release the road money

Press release this morning from state Rep. Chris Wright, a Bristol Democrat:


State Representative Christopher Wright (D-Bristol) says the Governor should release millions in state aid that would fund paving projects and road repairs including funding for Bristol.

“The Governor’s decision to hold this funding is hurting Bristol and making it difficult for local elected officials who have to make decisions about town paving and road repairs,” Rep. Wright said. “Towns depend on this funding and holding it back can negatively affect local property taxes, in addition to holding up work on local projects.”

Due to the current budget deficit, the governor has held back $30 million in Town Aid Road (TAR) Grants.   

In the previous fiscal year, the city of Bristol received $341,711 in TAR funding.

Towns usually receive TAR funding in January and July each year.

Rep. Wright serves on the Housing, Insurance and Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committees, 

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 10, 2010

Welcome, George Gombossy

George Gombossy, Connecticut's top consumer watchdog, is now writing a Sunday column for The Herald Press. He's a welcome addition. For more of his stuff, be sure to check out his terrific website, too.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 9, 2010

Bristol student's death postpones beauty pageant

The unexpected death of 23-year-old Courtney Hei-Ra Smith of Bristol caused organizers planning to crown a Miss Litchfield County to postpone tonight's pageant in Thomaston, according to a story in the Waterbury Republican-American.
Smith was a 2004 graduate of Bristol Eastern High School who had been studying economics and business administration at Eastern Connecticut State University.
The cause of her death wasn't disclosed, but the Waterbury paper said it followed an unidentified illness.
Calling hours are Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m. at O'Brien Funeral Home, with the funeral on Monday.
Click here for her full obituary and memorial guest book. A Facebook remembrance group was set up here by her former longtime boyfriend who said she "passed away peacefully in her sleep," which is the way we'd all like to go - but at 103 not 23.
It's sad to see someone so young suddenly die.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Bristol filmmaker captures Las Vegas movie award

Kenneth Lundquist of Bristol won the Golden Reel Award of 2009 from the Nevada Film Festival! recently for his film "HEART, The Congo Chronicles," which was 
shown at the Bristol Historical Society last fall. (Thanks to Laura Minor for the Facebook tip!)

Watch HEART @ the Nevada Film Festival in Activism & Non-Profit  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 8, 2010

Logo for Bristol Nine makes an appearance

And here's the team's new website, still under construction.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Colapietro says Hamzy won't run

State Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat, said he doubts Republican Bill Hamzy will seek the attorney general's position.
"I don't think he will run. He likes what he's doing now," the senator said.*******
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Hamzy: Might run for attorney general

State Rep. Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican whose 78th District includes northwestern Bristol, told me a few minutes ago that he's thinking about whether to jump into the race for attorney general.
Hamzy said there's a lot to mull over, including making sure "my family's on board," but the wide open nature of the contest makes it appealing to him.
He said he understands he has to make a decision relatively soon and promised to let me know which way it goes.
So there it is: Could our own Bill Hamzy, a former state GOP chairman, take the reins from Dick Blumenthal? It might just happen.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

January 7, 2010

Bristol Nine to bring college baseball players to Muzzy Field

For the first time since 1995, Bristol’s historic Muzzy Field will house a college league baseball team this summer.
The city’s Park Board unanimously agreed Thursday to open the gates for the Bristol Nine, the newest of the dozen teams in the 15-year-old New England Collegiate Baseball League.
“We’re all excited,” said Dan Kennedy, the team’s general manager.
Kennedy said the team is anxious to play in a field where “the atmosphere and the history” are second to none. “This is a great venue,” he added.
Between June 1 and August 11, the team will play 21 home games at Muzzy, officials said. Tickets are slated to cost $4 for adults and $1 for children ages 12 and under.
The deal won’t cost taxpayers anything, park officials said, but the city should benefit from some of the gear the team has to purchase, including a portable backstop for batting practice and protective screens for players to use during practice.
The team played last year in Pittsfield, Mass. but is moving to Bristol under new owners. There are a dozen teams in the league, with at least one in every New England state.
Mayor Art Ward said he has been impressed with the team owners’ enthusiasm for getting involved in the community.
Kennedy and Paul Fredette, two of the four owners, said the players -- among the top college athletes in the country -- will donate time to work with younger ballplayers in the city.
“For it to be adopted by the community, there’s a lot of giving we have to do,” Fredette said.
The team’s mascot, not yet chosen, will also be a part of as many community events as possible, they said.
A Bristol resident who serves as the pitching coach for Central Connecticut State University’s baseball team, Pat Hall, will be the head coach, team owners said.
Though the team is still working out details, it plans to have Chicago White Sox-style uniforms with a little red mixed in. Its logo will feature an old-time ballplayer in the Mudville 9 fashion.
The Bristol Nine isn’t the first team the league has had in Bristol.
During the league’s first two seasons, in 1994 and 1995, the Bristol Nighthawks played at Muzzy.
But Kennedy and Fredette said the league is quite different now than it was in its earliest days, with better players who are much more disciplined, mainly because there are typically 10 to 15 professional scouts watching every game.
They said that hundreds of the league’s players have gone on to play professionally. The league lists 25 of its alumni currently played Major League Baseball.
Kennedy said the team has invited 28 college players to join its roster, about half of them from Connecticut, including two players who hail from Bristol and another from Plainville. He said he’s hoping to snag at 94-miles-per-hour pitcher from Berlin, too.
But, he said, “we can’t stay totally local,” which explains his attempt to secure a couple of Texas players as well.
The league, modeled on the Cape Cod Baseball League, is among the top college leagues in the country. Its Newport, R.I. team attracts 1,700 fans nightly, Kennedy said.
City and team officials said they have worked hand-in-hand with the American Legion team to make sure there are no scheduling problems. Kennedy said the team plans to give the Legion team many free tickets for its use and resale to raise money for its needs.
The Bristol Nine doesn’t offer salaries to its players, but has to pay for the use of the field and other costs. Kennedy said its revenue will come from ticket sales, merchandise sales and corporate sponsorships.
Team officials said they plan to introduce the Bristol Nine more formally next Thursday at a 9:30 a.m. kickoff press conference at Nuchies Restaurant.

New England Collegiate Baseball League teams
Bristol Nine
Danbury Westerners
Holyoke Blue Sox
Keene Swamp Bats
Laconia Muskrats
Lowell All-Americans
New Bedford Bay Sox
Newport Gulls
North Adams SteepleCats
North Shore Navigators
Sanford Mainers
Vermont Mountaineers
Muzzy Field’s past
Muzzy Field was the home ballpark the Bristol Red Sox from 1972 to 1982, the AA-affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
It featured games by barnstorming professionals in the 1940s and 1950s, games that brought such legends as Babe Ruth and Vince Lombardi to town.
Its field has been in use since 1912. The grandstands were erected in 1939.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com