A Waterbury Icon

A brilliant sunset, and the silhouette of the Republican-American clock tower in downtown Waterbury, Connecticut. Photograph by John Murray

Televised Mayoral Debate In Waterbury

                                         Story and Photographs By John Murray

   The first televised mayoral debate in Waterbury history occured last night inside the Waterbury Magnet Arts School (WAMS), was hosted by the Waterbury Neighborhood Council,  broadcast on Channel 96 and moderated by Fox TV journalist Laurie Perez. The candidates are from left to right, Democrat incumbent Neil O'Leary, Independent Party's Larry De Pillo, and Republican Jason Van Stone. The debate lasted two hours and highlighted sharp differences in candidates for the audience inside WAMS to see, and for the viewing audience throughout Waterbury to hear.

Senator Murphy Stumps For O'Leary Campaign

                                                  By John Murray

   U.S. Senator Chris Murphy reacts to a story being told by Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary during a political rally yesterday afternoon at O'Leary headquarters on Grand Street in downtown Waterbury. Murphy, the youngest member of the United States Senate, talked about the unusually quiet campaign in Waterbury this year and joked that if things didn't change it might tarnish Waterbury's political reputation.

Waterbury PD Seeking Murder Suspect

Waterbury PD are actively searching for Philip Grundy.

   Waterbury Police have obtained an arrest warrant charging Philip Grundy (7/12/74) of 18 James Street 2nd floor, Waterbury, with Murder and Assault 1st for the fatal stabbing of one male and the serious stabbing of another male last night in the area of 23 James Street.

Congresswoman Esty Visits Boys & Girls Club

U.S. Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty visited children and toured the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Waterbury yesterday afternoon, and learned about the organization's progress in recovering from an embezzlement scandal that sent its former director to prison. The new executive director, John Chiero, has recruited new board members, and the organization is emereging into a new era of providing a safe place for children as an alternative to the streets, or being home alone. Photograph by John Murray

Good Jobs Program Gets Thumbs Up

                                             By John Murray

   Jessie Rivera came before the Waterbury Board of Aldermen last night in City Hall to talk about his positive experience with the city's Good Jobs Program, which requires contractors doing work for the city to make a good faith effort to hire residents, women and minorities. In the past the program has  been harshly criticized for a lack of oversight, but several months ago the compliance administration of the program was transfered to the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board , whose director, Cathy Awwad, left, said compliance rates have shot up.

13 Arrested In Waterbury Drug Sting

The total evidence seized was a 9 mm handgun, 1455 bags of heroin, 405 grams of crack cocaine, 190 grams of powder cocaine, and 184 grams of raw heroin. The estimated street value of this evidence is $80,000.

Isaiah Wells is one of 13 suspects arrested by the Waterbury PD.

News release from Acting Deputy Chief Chris Corbett of the Waterbury Police Department

   The Waterbury Police Department has concluded a six-week undercover investigation into illegal drug activity in and around the Angel Drive area. The investigation was conducted by the Department’s Vice & Intelligence Division and the Street Crime Unit and it was initiated in response to numerous citizen complaints of hand to hand street level drug sales in that neighborhood.

The Choices For Mayor, And How We Got Them

The three men vying to be elected mayor of Waterbury on November 5th are from left to right, Independent Party candidate Larry De Pillo, Democrat incumbent Neil O'Leary, and Republican candidate Jason Van Stone.

                                            Column by John Murray

   Trying to understand the 2013 municipal election in Waterbury is as slippery as black ice on an early morning in February. It’s the most low-key mayoral campaign the Observer has covered in 20 years, but trying to dig out the reasons is as elusive as trying to catch the Loch Ness Monster. Why? Because perspectives change from one political camp to another, and grasping reality in politics is like snatching a fistful of fog, they both leave you empty handed.

   Is it a foregone conclusion that Neil O’Leary will be re-elected on November 5th? Is that why it’s so quiet?

   “Nothing is guaranteed in politics,” O’Leary said. “There has been very little excitement in the campaign so far, and that may translate into low voter turnout. We’ve worked very hard and I’d like to think the citizens of Waterbury like the job we’ve been doing, but does a lack of excitement worry me? You bet it does.”

Mayor Neil O'Leary Prayerful During Debate

                                               By John Murray 

     For the past 18 months Larry De Pillo, middle, has unleashed a blistering attack on every proposal and action initiated by Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary (D). At hundreds of events and programs De Pillo, the Independent Party candidate for mayor, has blasted O'Leary as a dictator and a man out of touch with the Waterbury taxpayers.

   Earlier in the day the two men clawed at each during a mayoral debate on WATR while Republican Jason Van Stone, left, seized the middle ground. Tonight, during the second debate of the day, this one in the NOW Building, and conducted by the Waterbury Chapter of the National Conference of Black Women, one of the questions asked each candidate to name one thing O'Leary has done right in the past two years.

   When De Pillo said O'Leary was right in bringing economic development into the Mayor's Office, O'Leary crossed himself, and gave a quick thanks to God. It was the first positive thing Larry De Pillo had said about his administration in nearly two years, and O'Leary fully embraced the moment. 

Dylan McDermott Enters Hall of Fame 11/16


   An actor, an architect, a lawyer, a philanthropist and an artist/farmer/engineer have been named to the Silas Bronson Library’s Waterbury Hall of Fame.  Dylan McDermott,  Joseph Stein, Susan Cecelia O’Neill, Edith Morton Chase and Hobert Victory Welton were selected by an 8-person board-appointed committee  on April 17.

   A ceremony that will be attended by the only living inductee, actor Dylan McDermott, will take place on Saturday, Nov 16, in the auditorium of Holy Cross High School, 587 Oronoke Rd, at 2:00 p.m. The public is invited. Admission is free. A reception will follow.

Vernon Riddick Jr. Sworn In As Police Chief

At the end of his speech tonight Vernon Riddick Jr. was overwhelmed by history. 

                                             By John Murray


   It was a dramatic evening inside the Palace Theater tonight as Vernon Riddick Jr. was sworn in as the 21st police chief in Waterbury history, and become the first African-American to lead the department.

Congresswoman Esty's Statement On ObamaCare

 

     Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) released the following statement today commemorating the beginning of enrollment in Access Health CT, Connecticut’s new health insurance marketplace, created under the Affordable Care Act.

   “The beginning of enrollment today is great news for individuals, families, and small businesses who will be able to sign up for new health insurance options with coverage beginning on January 1, 2014. This is a tremendous step forward in increasing access to quality, affordable health care. I thank everyone who is working hard to ensure health care reform works well in Connecticut. I urge 5th District constituents without insurance to take the time over the upcoming days, weeks, and months to visit http://www.accesshealthct.com or call 855-805-4325 for more information, to shop for plans, to find out if you’re eligible for tax credits to help purchase insurance, and to get covered.”

Manufacturing Movie 10/10 at NVCC

   In celebration of Manufacturing Month in Connecticut, Naugatuck Valley Community College and the Smaller Manufacturers Association (SMA) invite the public to two viewings of “American Made Movie,” a documentary showing the positive economic impact of domestic manufacturing, at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Tues., Oct. 10 in the College’s Mainstage Theater.

Police Arrest Man In Pipe Bomb Incident

   Deputy police chief Chris Corbett issued the following press release this afternoon...

   Waterbury Police have completed the investigation into last night’s suspicious items/ explosive devices investigation that occurred right outside the PD. At around 7:45 pm a male complainant came to the front desk saying that he had found two possible pipe bombs in a backpack left behind by one of his employees and that the backpack was on the sidewalk outside the PD.

Letting Go

Celebrating 20 years of publishing The Waterbury Observer, John Murray decided to leap out of an airplane 10,500 feet above Connecticut. The plunge reminded Murray that launching a business with no money, or chasing dreams of world travel all have one thing in common, facing fear, and letting go.

                                    Story By John Murray
                          Photographs By SkyDive Danielson

   For most of the twenty-minute ascent I tapped into breathing exercises, and positive imagery, to try and keep myself calm.

   “That’s the University of Connecticut,” said Norm Nault, my tandem skydiving instructor, “and if you look to the south you can see Long Island Sound.”

   At 5000 feet my attempt to relax faltered, and the metallic taste of fear marched across my tongue. I looked around the plane - which was no bigger than a car - and checked on my daughter, Chelsea. If I was starting to lose it, I was sure Chelsea’s heart was clanging against her chest. Chelsea was tandem jumping with instructor Scott Barylski, a dead ringer for actor Ben Stiller. There was something comical, and terrifying, about hurling yourself out of a tiny airplane with Derek Zoolander strapped to your back.

Vernon Riddick Named Top Cop In Waterbury

                                                   By John Murray

   Vernon Riddick has been a busy man the past eight days.

   On September 12th he attended the funeral service of Fortune, the former slave in Waterbury whose skeleton was on display for 170 years. During Fortune's burial in Riverside Cemetery a woman injured herself climbing a steep hill walking towards the gravesite. Riddick left the service to check on the woman, and then walked back to pay his respects to Fortune.