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 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.

Former Waterbury Slave Named Fortune Is Buried 215 Years After Death

   Six-year-old Christian Mullins prayed as the coffin of a former slave named Fortune was lowered into a grave in Riverside Cemetery last night in Waterbury, thus ending 200 years of disrespect.

   Fortune was a slave in the 18th Century and when he died under mysterious circumstances in Waterbury, in 1798, his master, Dr. Preserved Porter, boiled him, and used his skeleton in his medical practice.

New Senior Center Now Open In Waterbury

   With a quick snip from oversized scissors at 11:35 am today, the new city wide senior center at 1985 East Main Street is officially opened for business. Pictured here holding the scissors is Alexis Rotella, who will run the center, and is in charge of dealing with senior issues for the city. The Waterbury Senior Center is a city-run building for all seniors ages 60 and over, and completely dedicated to the senior population.

National Hispanic Heritage Month 9/15 to 10/15


                                                 By Victor Lopez Jr.

                    President of the Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury

    Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Vernon Riddick Scores #1 On Police Chief Test

                                                 By John Murray

   During an interview with Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary yesterday he announced the results of a civil service test for the opening of police chief in the city. Vernon Riddick, pictured here, has been the acting police chief since the sudden retirement of Michael Gugliotti in January, and Riddick is seeking to become the permanent chief.

Legendary Waterbury Police Detective, Jake Griffin, Is Dead At 84. Funeral on 9/13

                                              By John Murray

   An old school detective who served in the Waterbury Police Department for 48 years will be buried Friday with full police honors. Jake Griffin lived his entire life in Waterbury, and passed away September 9th at the Village at East Farms.

   Griffin had a reputation as a tough cop, and Waterbury Neil O'Leary, who worked beneath him for 20 years in the detective bureau, said, "Jake Griffin was tough, but fair, and he was by far one of the best investigators the city has ever seen."

Jim and Cathy Smith Honored With Brass Button Award At Mattatuck Museum, September 20th

   The Mattatuck Museum has announced that Cathy and Jim Smith will be this year’s honorees of the Brass Button Award Celebration on Friday, September 20, 2013. The award ceremony, sponsored by Webster Bank, American Savings Foundation, Warburg Pincus, KPMG LLP and Secor, Cassidy & McPartland, P.C., will be held at the Museum beginning at 6:00 p.m. The event will include a cocktail reception with remarks by Museum Board Members and the presentation of the award by Senator Joan Hartley followed by a seated dinner in the Museum galleries. The Brass Button Award recognizes outstanding contributions of individuals in the greater Waterbury area who are dedicated to the cultural and social enrichment of their community.

Legends Bill Rogers & Rod Dixon Run In The Bob Veillette 5K In Waterbury

   Two running legends cruised around the streets of Waterbury today during the Bob Veillette 5K road race. On the left is American Bill Rodgers who won four Boston Marathons, and four NYC Marathons. On the right is New Zealand's Rod Dixon, a 1972 Olympic medalist in the 1500 meter race, and the winner of the 1983 NYC Marathon. They started at the back of the pack and spent the first half mile chatting. At one point Dixon turned to Rogers and asked him, 'Are we going to start running yet?" When Rogers said no, Dixon said, "If I knew this was how we were going to run I would of had a big lunch first."

Xhevat Limani Delivers An Impassioned Salute To Struga At The Albanian Festival In Waterbury

Xhevat Limani is an Albanian actor born in Struga, Macedonia, who now lives in Waterbury, Connecticut. During a Labor Day Albanian Festival in Waterbury, Limani opened his heart about his love of Struga. The following is a translation of his speech, which was delivered in Albanian. Photograph by John Murray

   Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, fellow countrymen..

   Good evening and welcome to the Annual Albanian Labor Day Festival, this year celebrating 30 years since the formation of the “Hasan Prishtina” cultural center here in Waterbury, Connecticut. A special thank you is in order for the founding members of the cultural center, and all community members present and past, who worked so hard to maintain and manage the cultural center with such great success.

   During my whole career in theatre, film, television, radio, newspapers, and festivals all around the world I have presented myself as an Albanian artist. Tonight, allow me to step aside and present myself at a local level. Given that I was born in Struga, allow me to present myself as a Strugan artist.

Albanian Culture & Food Celebrated In Waterbury

                                Photographs By John Murray

A wide variety of traditional Albanian breads stuffed with cheese and spinach are being baked in ovens and are served hot at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Albanian American Cultural & Islamic Center at 106 Columbia Blvd in the Overlook section of Waterbury. The Albanian Labor Day Festival continues today (Sunday)from 11 am to 11 pm.

Passengers On Metro North Train To Waterbury Encounter Language And Toilet Barriers

   The Observer just received this message from one its readers, Reza Farzan...

   "I was one of the hundreds of passengers on the 8:30 p.m. train to Waterbury [from Bridgeport] last night. The 3-car train arrived a little late, but it left the station rather promptly. I was sitting the car # 6127 where I noticed that the red light showing the “Toilet Out of Order” sign. Soon after our departure, passengers, both young and old, came to use the toilet and after seeing the sign, they all left disappointed. When one of the passengers inquired about the situation, the ticket agent told her that “there is no toilet on this train, and she had to hold it!”

Fortune, A Black Slave in 1700 Waterbury, Will Finally Be Laid To Rest On September 12th

   The Mattatuck Museum will host a special evening event on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 from 5:30 to 7: 30 p.m. to discuss the latest scientific research on the bones of “Fortune,” an African-American man who was enslaved by a Waterbury bone surgeon in the 1700s. The discussion will be led by a panel of faculty members from Quinnipiac University and Central Connecticut State University. Professor Gerald Conlogue, co-director of the Bioanthropology Research Institute at Quinnipiac University, will introduce the discussion.