Waterbury Student Selected As Senate Page

   U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) has announced that he has appointed Argenis Herrera, a junior at Waterbury Career Academy (WCA) High School, as a U.S. Senate Page for the Winter/Spring 2017 Senate Page Program. As a Senate Page, Argenis will help with the important day-to-day operations of the U.S. Senate. He arrives at the U.S. Capitol for his first day as a Senate Page on January 30, 2017.

Somewhere Under The Rainbow

At 1 pm this afternoon a mixture of sun and rain and light created a spectacular rainbow above Waterbury, CT. Observer photographer John Murray darted around the South End of the city trying to avoid trees and wires and buildings to get a clean shot of the rainbow. He shot this image from the edge of Route 8 north looking up towards the cross at Holy Land USA.

O'Leary Delivers State Of The City Address

The presentation was displayed on large flat screen TVs at the north and south ends of the room. O'Leary told the aldermen that he decided to sweep through the past five years so the new aldermen on the board would have a better understanding of the moveable pieces and projects they are going to vote on in the near future.

                                                    By John Murray

   Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary gave a wide sweeping State of the City address last night in front of a packed aldermanic chamber inside Waterbury City Hall.

   O’Leary spoke about the five shovel-ready brownfield sites in Waterbury, the 94 blighted buildings his administration has demolished, the 8% drop in unemployment, the positive bond rating the city just received from Fitch, the $10 million in savings taxpayers will enjoy by putting city employee health care out to bid, and his commitment to parks, education, downtown and the redevelopment of the Freight Street corridor.

Waterbury PD Charge Duggans With Murder

Irving Duggans

   The Observer just received the following press release from the Waterbury PD.....

   "On December 27, 2016 at approximately 1400 hours the Waterbury Police received a complaint of a body found in a bathroom shower stall located in a second floor apartment at 475 East Main Street. Upon arrival officers observed the body of the victim identified as Luis Rodriguez (07/30/1957) located in the bathroom shower stall suffering from significant trauma to his head.

Weaver Brothers Giving Back

   Ronald and Donald Weaver grew up in the South End and North End of Waterbury. Over the years they watched community leaders create civic projects and youth opportunities that they benefited from, and the experience ignited a fire in the Weavers that if they ever had an opportunity, they wanted to give back.

   And they have.

Albania; An Exquisite Contradiction

A shepherd near the village of Bilisht, Albania. There are an estimated 1000 Albanians from Bilisht that now live in greater Waterbury, most coming to seek economic opportunity in America.

                              Story and Photographs By John Murray

    I rounded a corner in Fier, Albania, and encountered ten police officers standing on the side of the road gesturing towards me. Crap, I thought, here comes the shakedown. I pulled my rental car over and fumbled for my passport and rental agreement. I wondered how I’d manage with the few words of Albanian I knew; mirëdita, (good afternoon), faleminderit (thank you), jo (no) and po (yes).

    It was too late to learn, “Hi officer, Albania is a beautiful country and I look forward to writing about my experience with Prime Minister Edi Rama in my newspaper back in America.”

    As I watched three uniformed police officers surround my car I wondered how much this was going to cost me.

Community Support Helps Cuevas Get Probation

Former 75th District State Representative Victor Cuevas

                                Story By John Murray

   Federal Judge Jeffrey Meyer sentenced former state representative Victor Cuevas to one-year probation and a $1000 fine for lying on a federal mortgage form. Judge Meyer said Cuevas had made an ill-advised plan to defraud a bank, but also had "remarkable support" in dozens of letters, and that "half the courtroom was bursting" in support of him.

   Cuevas admitted guilt on June 20th to lying on a HUD mortgage form stating a $7000 loan from life-long friend had been a gift. As part of the application process for securing a low interest loan backed by the federal government, the applicant had to secure a $7000 non-repayable gift. Ironically, if Cuevas had not repaid the loan there would have been no crime.

Drought Warning in Waterbury

Waterbury's Reservoirs have gone below 50% usable capacity due to the dry weather.

   The Mayor’s Office and the Waterbury Bureau of Water announced today that the City’s reservoirs have declined to below 50 percent usable capacity due to the continued dry weather conditions. In response to these conditions we are implementing the Drought Warning stage of our Emergency Contingency Plan. Under this stage a number steps will be implemented to respond to the drought including Mandatory Water Use Restrictions that become effective immediately. These Mandatory Restrictions include a ban on all non-essential outdoor water usage such as lawn and garden watering; watering of golf course fairways; non-commercial washing of motor vehicles; hose washing of streets, driveways and sidewalks; ornamental water use such as fountains and waterfalls; the use of hydrants for any purpose other than fire-fighting or as approved by municipal health officials for public health or safety needs; and the serving of water in restaurants or clubs unless specifically requested by a patron.

Dreamgirls at Thomaston Opera House

    Dreamgirls, the Tony award winning musical opens this Saturday, October 15th at the Thomaston Opera House at 8pm. The play follows the career of girl group, The Dreams, as they climb the Billboard charts into stardom during the 1960s. Samantha Rae Bass stars as “Effie White,” a role originally played by legendary actress and singer, Jennifer Holliday. Bass a transplant to Manchester, Connecticut from Cookeville, Tennessee most recently took to the TOH stage in Memphis as “Felicia.” As Effie, taking on this “larger than life role” has connected Bass to the character in many ways. Bass says “what people don’t understand about Effie, is that she has tons of insecurities,”“her drive to be the best being her biggest downfall.” This drive and downfall culminate to form the iconic ballad “(And I'm Telling You) I'm Not Going,” at the end of the first act.  

Greater Waterbury Restaurant Week

  Vasilios Kaloidis believes Greater Waterbury has plenty of restaurants with cuisine excellent enough to match the best restaurants anywhere in the state. “We have 25 to 30 great restaurants in Greater Waterbury, just like other areas,” said Kaloidis, who owns two restaurants in the region, Vasi’s Restaurant & Bar and Spartan Restaurant & Bar and chairman of the Chamber’s Restaurant Week Committee. The Waterbury area restaurants, however, “are larger, have better parking, and are centrally located between two highways,” Interstate 84 and Route 8. To help spread the word, the Waterbury Regional Chamber has partnered with many of its member restaurants to create the first Greater Waterbury Restaurant Week, to be held Sunday, September 11 through Friday September 16.

The Loan

Former state representative Victor Cuevas pled guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

                            Story and Photographs By John Murray

   A two-year federal probe into the financial dealings of former state representative Victor Cuevas hinged on the technicality of whether $7000 was a gift or loan from a life-long friend. The money was used to qualify for a special HUD loan that enabled Cuevas to purchase a home in Bristol with less money invested upfront. The key element of getting the mortgage was having a friend or family member gift him $7000.

   “A broker suggested I could qualify for the loan if I borrowed $7000 from a friend, and then repaid the friend after I got the loan,” Cuevas said. “At the time I didn’t think it was a big deal.”

Meeting The Champ

                             A Tribute By Felix Rodriguez

   It was a bright, sunny September morning in Louisville in 2010, with temperatures lingering around 82 degrees; the kind of heat that drives people to the nearest swimming pool.  As for me, I was driving to fulfill a dream— that of finally visiting the museum built as a tribute to Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest boxer of all time, and my personal hero.

2017 Best of Waterbury Reader's Poll

23rd Annual Best of Waterbury Readers' Poll

WIN a Day of Decadence for Two from Viso Bello Day Spa!!

Spend five and a half blissful hours with a friend being pampered at Viso Bello Day Spa in Middblebury CT. Slowly ease into an Eminence Organic facial, followed by a deep cleansing and very soothing Dead Sea Salt Body Treatement. Relax with a spa manicure and soothing spa pedicure followed by a 1.5 hour detox body massage. After that, manicure and pedicure polish will be applied, followed by a makeup application. Package is available for both women and men. Get ready to relax and enjoy!

To qualify for the Grand Prize, and to have your ballot counted you must fill out a minimum of 25 categories on the ballot and fill in your personal information on the bottom. One ballot per person, and it's obvious when one person fills out multiple ballots with the same answers, and jotting down someone else's name. That's ballot stuffing , so save us all some time, and just submit one ballot. Thanks, and enjoy!

Ballots must be received by April 30th, 2017 to qualify. Results will be published in the Best of Waterbury issue in mid-June.

Vote online here

Raymond Work Seeks 75th District Seat

   Raymond Work is the Republican nominee for the Special Election to fill Connecticut’s 75th District seat. Work, a small business owner, has served the city of Waterbury as a member and chairman of the City Plan Commission. He is also an active member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a Boy Scout Leader and a mentor of the Kennedy High School Robotics team.

Geraldo Reyes Jr. Seeks 75th State Rep Seat

   Long-time community activist Geraldo Reyes Jr. has been endorsed by the Waterbury Democrat Town Committee to run in a special election on April 26th to fill a state representative vacancy in the 75th District. A special meeting of 75th District delegates met last night at the Portuguese Club on Baldwin Street to endorse Reyes as a replacement for Victor Cuevas, who resigned last week.

Study Suggests Growing Dependence On Pot

 

(The following is a press release issued by the University of Connecticut following a study on marijuana dependency)

    Nearly half of Americans have tried marijuana in their lifetime according to national surveys. And marijuana is the drug of choice for more than half of the nearly 7 million Americans dependent on or abusing illicit drugs.

Jahana Hayes Mayor for the Day

Photograph by Geraldo Reyes Jr.

Jahana Hayes enjoyed a moment with her husband, Milford Hayes, during a ceremony today at Waterbury City Hall honoring her as the African American mayor for the day. Jahana has had an epic year- she was selected as the teacher of the year in Waterbury, the teacher of the year in Connecticut, and is currently a final four candidate for the U.S. teacher of the year. Congratulations Jahana Hayes!

 

Road Race In April To Honor Chris Corbett

   The inaugural Chris Corbett 5K Run will take place Sunday, April 3, 2016, at Holy Cross High School, 587 Oronoke Road, Waterbury. Proceeds from the race will benefit the Christopher D. Corbett Memorial Fund. The fund was established to honor the memory of Waterbury Deputy Police Chief Christopher D. Corbett and carry on his support of Waterbury-area Catholic schools and their students. It will provide scholarships to students wishing to attend Catholic elementary and high schools in the greater Waterbury area, as well as to graduates of Catholic high schools planning to attend college to pursue studies in criminal justice.