Broadway Stars Fill The Palace Theater With Love During Sandy Hook Benefit Concert

Julia Murney, who plays Elphaba on the Broadway show "Wicked", belted out Defying Gravity on the stage of the Palace Theater in downtown Waterbury last night during a benefit concert for Sandy Hook. Murney was one of several dozen stars to participate in "From Broadway With Love - A Benefit Concert For Sandy Hook". The entire first level of the theater was filled with people directly impacted by last month's tragedy; families who lost children or loved ones, and first responders. There was children's laughter in the building, especially when Richard Kind sang "I Wan'na Be Like You" from The Jungle Book. Photograph by John Murray

Camille Atallah Lebanese Mayor For The Day

                                                     By John Murray

   Camile Atallah was honored on Januray 26th as the Lebanese Mayor For A Day during a ceremony inside Waterbury City Hall. Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary is on the left. Atallah was born in Beruit in 1961 and at the age of 18 won a full schlarship to a university in Italy to study pre-medicine. He left the university after three months to return to his family in war-torn Lebanon. A devout Christian, Atallah was credited with saving a Muslim family during the Lebanese Civil War. In 1987 Atallah escaped Lebanon disguised as a Franciscan monk in a fishing boat bound for Israel. Six months later he got a visa to come to the United States and settled in Waterbury, where his two brothers were already established.

Longest Serving Police Chief In Waterbury History, Fred Sullivan, 96, Laid To Rest

                                                  By John Murray

   Fred Sullivan was the Chief of Police in Waterbury for 17 years, from 1968 to 1985, longer than any officer in city history. Sullivan died on January 22nd, and was buried today after a ceremonial send-off from members of the Waterbury Police Department at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Church. Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary served five years in the police department under Chief Sullivan in the 1980s, and was promoted to detective by Sullivan. O'Leary eulogized Sullivan, and said the former chief was instrumental in creating community policing in Waterbury, helped establish PAL, and was the first Waterbury police officer to attend the FBI National Academy in Washington D.C..

20th Annual Chocolate Lovers’ Expo February 3rd

Maria Sanchez, front row right, is the chairman of the Chocolate Lover's Expo, and she is pictured here with the committee who helped plan the event.

   The 20th Annual Chocolate Lovers’ Expo to benefit Easter Seals will be held on Sunday, February 3rd from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Southbury.

   A fun-filled day is planned for everyone. All Chocolate Lovers’ will indulge and shop for mouth-watering chocolate delights including cakes, cupcakes, rum cakes, candies, cookies, truffles, gourmet caramel apples, fudge, chocolate covered strawberries, dried fruits, cotton candy, flavored popcorn, gourmet specialty foods, and more! Attendees will also have a chance to purchase unique gifts from olive oils and vinegars to pocket books, accessories and jewelry. Sample treats, enjoy refreshments, shop for Valentines Day, Supper Bowl parties, or other gift giving occasions, listen to music, and enter to win silent auction items and great prizes.

Waterbury Police Investigate Fatal Car Crash

   Waterbury Police are investigating a fatal car crash that occurred just before midnight last night in the area of 389 Meadow Street. A 1992 Ford Explorer was traveling south on Meadow Street when it lost control, struck a utility pole and then rolled over several times. A male passenger in the back seat was pronounced dead on the scene. The driver and the front seat passenger were transported to St. Mary’s Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The identities of the victims are not being released at this time until their families are notified. The crash remains under investigation, but it appears that excessive speed was the primary contributing factor in the cause of the crash. 

Mattatuck Museum Presents Stars & Bars

   Mattatuck Museum transports you back to the era of the Great Depression with Stars and Bars, a 1938 living newspaper play by Ward Courtney and the Negro Unit of the Connecticut Federal Theatre on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. The reading is performed by the Working Actors Collective and directed by CPTV’s Ed Wierzbicki.

Looking Into Nature

Albert Einstein said, "look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." So look into this tranquil scene along the Naugatuck River in Waterbury, and see if Einstein was correct. Photograph by John Murray

NVCC Makes Room for SMA on Campus

David Mieczkowski, president of SMA, and Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D., president of NVCC, signed a one-year lease agreement on Fri., Jan. 11.

   The Smaller Manufacturers Association (SMA) has officially relocated its headquarters to Naugatuck Valley Community College as of January 15, 2013. The Association's executive director, Cyndi Zoldy, now resides in NVCC Technology Hall, which also houses the newly built Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center and the College's engineering programs and labs.

Vernon Riddick Named Acting Police Chief In Waterbury, First Black To Lead The Department

                                              By John Murray

   In February 2012 Deputy Police Chief Vernon Riddick, pictured above, moderated a panel discusssion on the history of the African-American struggle inside the Waterbury Police Department. For decades systemic racism held qualified black officers from advancing beyond patrolmen, and black cops were confined to beats in minority neighborhoods. Grudgingly, the department began to open up, but it wasn't until a federal lawsuit was filed by Cicero Booker Jr. in the early 1980s that measurable change occurred. Eleven months after the panel discussion on racism,  Mayor Neil O'Leary has selected Vernon Riddick to lead the Waterbury Police Department in the wake of Chief Michael Gugliotti's retirement. Riddick will officially be the Acting Police Chief while O'Leary searches for a permanant replacement for Gugliotti, who is out on vacation until his retirement on March 18th. In the absence of Chief Gugliotti, Riddick will assume the role of Acting Chief of Police immediately, becoming the first black officer in history to lead the Waterbury Police Department.

Petit Family Foundation Grant Supports Free Self-Defense Classes for Women

   Jane Doe No More, Inc. has received a $7,000 grant from the Petit Family Foundation to help fund free self-defense classes for women. Since 2009, Jane Doe No More has offered fee-based, Escape Alive Survival Skills classes for women and girls. Developed and delivered by the professional team at East Coast Training Systems, Escape Alive participants learn personal safety strategies and physical techniques designed to disable assailants and enable escape.

   “Escape Alive is not only one of our core programs,” explained Jane Doe No More executive director Debra Meyers, “but one of the programs and partnerships we are most proud of.  We are thrilled that the Petit Family Foundation will now join us in that partnership, and that they do so in such a meaningful way.”

Victor Cuevas To Take Oath In Hartford Today, Will Represent Waterbury's South End

Victor Cuevas, left, toppled four-term incumbent State Representative David Aldarando in August during a Democratic primary for the 75th District in Waterbury's South End. Three months later Cuevas easily won the genreal election against Republican Jack Alseph. Today Cuevas is sworn into office in Hartford. Standing next to Cuevas is his campaign manager Geraldo Reyes. Photograph by John Murray

State Rep. Larry Butler Chairs Housing Committee

   State Representative Larry B. Butler (D-Waterbury) has been reappointed by Speaker of the House-designate Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) to serve as House Chairman of the Legislature’s Housing Committee. The Housing Committee has oversight over matters relating to housing statewide and to all programs that affect housing in Connecticut.

OLLI Program Partners With Brass City Harvest For Greening Of Waterbury Program

South End Greenhouse on Mill Street

   The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Connecticut in Waterbury has announced a pilot learning-service project in conjunction with Waterbury's Brass cIty Harvest, beginning in March 2013. From Seeds to Planting to Harvest to Table: The Greening of Waterbury, lead by Nunzio DeFilippis, will be offered to OLLI members from March 5 to September 17, 2013.

State Rep. Jeff Berger Named Deputy Speaker Of The House Of Representatives

   State Representative Jeff Berger (D-Waterbury) was appointed by incoming Speaker of the House J. Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) to the position of Deputy Speaker of the House.

   "I am excited to have Rep. Berger join my leadership team as we begin work on the many challenges facing our state," said incoming Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden). "Encouraging economic growth and job creation will continue to be a top priority and Jeff's previous role as chair of the commerce committee will be particularly helpful in this area."

State Rep. Selim Noujaim Named Chairman of Legislative Regulation Review Committee

   State Representative Selim Noujaim (R-74) has been named as chairman of the Legislative Review Committee by House Republican Leader Larry Cafero.

   "As a member of the Regulations Review Committee for the past 2 years I am deeply honored to have been chosen as Chairman for the 2013-2015 legislative session,” Rep. Noujaim said. “This committee has the difficult, but immensely important task of making certain that proposed regulations fit within our current statutes without impeding or modifying them.  I am ready for the challenge and look forward to working hand-in-hand with the members of the committee and staff."

It's Official - Chris Murphy Now A U.S. Senator

Chris Murphy was sworn into the United States Senate by Vice-President Joe Biden and afterwards issued the following statement, "Today I was honored to be sworn into the US Senate. So was my one year old son apparently." Senator Murphy is holding his one-year-old son Rider, while his other son. Owen, 4, stands in front of Murphy's wife, Cathy Holahan. Photographs courtesy of Senator Murphy's office.

Chris Murphy To Be Sworn In Today, Will Be Youngest Member Of The U.S. Senate

                                                 By John Murray

Connecticut's 5th District Congressman, Chris Murphy, will take the oath of office today and become the youngest  member of the United States Senate. A member of the Democratic Party, Murphy previously served in both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly, serving in the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1999 to 2003, and in the Connecticut Senate from 2003 to 2007. Murphy served three terms as congressman from the 5th District.

Rep. Tony D'Amelio Named Caucus Whip

   Rep. Tony D’Amelio (R-71), above center, has been named as a Minority Whip for the House Republican caucus for the 2013-2015 legislative session.

   "I am honored House Republican Leader Larry Cafero selected me to assume a new leadership role in the General Assembly for the upcoming legislative session.” Rep. D'Amelio said. “As a caucus whip I will be able to lead on important issues for both Waterbury and the state and I look forward to the challenge."