Help Needed For River Street Fire Victims

A fire in the South End of Waterbury displaced Rojan James and his family.

                                         Story By John Murray

   A fire at ripped through a multi-family house at 273 River Street in the South End of Waterbury on December 29th, at 10:30 pm, and displaced 19 people. There was no loss of life and the displaced are being temporarily housed at the American Motor Lodge on South Main Street. Pictured here is Rojan James pulling a few personal items out of the first floor apartment he lived in for seven years with his wife, Shaneena LeBron, and their seven children (the youngest being two months old). The fire started on the second floor and James reacted quickly to get his entire family out of the structure, and pounded through a wall to alert Jacob Torres and  Alycia Colon living in the basement.

Good Samaritan In A Blizzard

                                      Story and Photograph By John Murray

   Bobby Cooke was out in the blizzard January 4th in downtown Waterbury with a snow shovel walking along West Main Street. Was he out earning a few extra dollars?

   "No," he said. "I'm doing this for the blessings. I'm helping stranded drivers, and anybody who needs my help."

Mayor O'Leary and the Christmas Tree

                           Story and Photographs By John Murray

   A $2 million overhaul of the Green in downtown Waterbury was unveiled in early Autumn without a Christmas tree, and the backlash from the community has been fierce. The traditional tree lighting ceremony was moved to Library Park last year during renovations, and lights were wrapped around an oak tree. City residents understood the temporary relocation in 2016, but have balked at the tradition switching to Library Park permamently. Residents have complained on WATR radio, called the Mayor's Office to express their displeasure, and used social media to express their anger.

   "This is so wrong," Hilda Del Moral-Lopez wrote on Facebook. "It makes me very sad."

Two Waterbury Catholic Schools To Merge Into STREAM Academy, September 2018

   We received the following news from Maria Zone, the Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Hartford.....

   "Pastors and principals of the four Waterbury elementary Catholic schools, in consult with the Waterbury Futures Task Force and the Office of Education, Evangelization and Catechesis (OEEC) have decided to form a new Catholic School in Waterbury called, Catholic STREAM Academy of Waterbury: A Heritage School of St. Mary and Blessed Sacrament Schools. It will open in September 2018. Pastors at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Ss. Peter and Paul Schools have determined that these schools will remain as they are for the 2018-2019 academic year.

DEEP Spanks Waterbury For Sewage Dump

                                                    Story By John Murray

   The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) issued a consent order today, November 9th, punishing the City of Waterbury for dumping 5,000,000 gallons of raw sewage into the Naugatuck River on October 9th. The city has been ordered to clean the river, stock 1500 trout, sponsor a family fishing day in the Spring, and develop an Emergency Response Plan by December 31st, 2017.

Raw Sewage Dumped Into Naugatuck River

A football-sized chunk of bleached feces sits in the middle of the Naugatuck River hundreds of yards south of the Water Pollution Control Facility in Waterbury. There are thousands of chunks of feces and sewage sludge all along the Platts Mill section of the river.

                    Story and Photographs By John Murray

   The Waterbury Police Department has launched an investigation into what happened at the Water Pollution Control Facility on October 9th that resulted in 5,000,000 gallons of raw sewage being dumped into the Naugatuck River.

  “This is not a criminal investigation,” Deputy Police Chief Fred Spagnolo told The Waterbury Observer this afternoon. “We are trying to determine liability.”

Devastating South End Fire

 

   A devastating fire on Lounsbury Street in the South End of Waterbury ripped through four houses and has left as many as ten families homeless tonight. The houses are in the 50 to 60 block range on Lounsbury Street. The fire department is still on the scene, smoke continues to fog the South End, and multiple streets around the fire have been blocked off and much of the neighborhood is blacked out.

Waterbury Adds Three Horses To PD

Living on a horse ranch in the Domican Republic helped Officer Jose Diaz build a mounted unit in the Waterbury PD.

                                Story and Photographs By John Murray

   Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary grew up on a farm in Woodbury and spent much of his childhood around horses. “I’ve always appreciated horses,” O’Leary said, “and for several years I’ve thought about adding horses to the Waterbury Police Department, but budget and manpower issues kept us from doing it.”

JFK Centenial at Silas Bronson Library

Connecticut Governor Abe Ribicoff introduces US Senator John F. Kennedy, democratic Presidential candidate, on the balcony of Hotel Roger Smith, in Waterbury in 1960.

    Where were you at 3:00 a.m. on November 6, 1960? Steve Bergin and those remaining of some 50,000 other people can tell you exactly where they were that rainy night – on the Green in front of the Elton Hotel (then the Roger Smith Hotel) cheering on Senator John F. Kennedy two nights before his presidential election. That night changed Bergin’s life - and he and a few friends organized the 3:00 A.M. Committee in honor of the momentous occasion.

New Cultural Programs At Bronson Library

   The Silas Bronson Library is pleased to announce the launch of the Philip V. Benevento Fund for Cultural Programs for Adults at the library. The public is invited to attend the inaugural program on Thursday, June 8 at 6 p.m., featuring a special performance by the cast of Trav’lin: The 1930s Harlem Musical, arranged for the library by Semina DeLaurentis, Artistic Director of Seven Angels Theatre. The program is free; refreshments will be served.

To Be Heard Again

A brain tumor stole his voice, but with the love of his wife, Janet, and a miraculous surgery, Bob Sagendorf is back on the radio at WATR.

                       Story and Photographs By John Murray

   Bob Sagendorf slowed his SUV and peered into the woods. “There it is on the other side of the brook,” he said pointing, “that’s where we used to camp as boy scouts. We swam in that brook. We drank water from that brook, and we used water from that brook to cook our meals.”

   Sagendorf was on top of Hunter’s Mountain in Naugatuck and the camping site he pointed towards was less than a quarter mile away from Murtha’s Dump, a landfill used for 40 years to dispose of solvents, oils, hydrocarbons, chemical and liquid sludge, chemical solids, tires, and rubber products used by Naugatuck Chemical and Uniroyal.

Pepe's Pizzeria Comes to the Brass City

   Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, Connecticut’s iconic third-generation owned and operated pizzeria since 1925, is putting thefinishing touches on its new 3,400 square foot, 90-seat space located at 130 Reidville Drive in Waterbury, CT, directly off of I-84.  Pepe’s highly anticipated opening is planned for April 17.  This will be the 9th location in the Frank Pepe Restaurant Group.

Stromstad Leaving Waterbury Hospital

   The Observer has confirmed that the President and CEO of Waterbury Hospital, Darlene Stromstad, is leaving the position she has held in Waterbury the past five years. Stromstad is being replaced by Lester Schindel, who will serve as interim CEO to lead the health network’s next phase of growth.

Increasing Jobs in City's South End

Victor Lopez of the Hispanic Coalition.

 

   A city coalition of neighborhood, social service, education, civic and health organizations has successfully applied for an initial grant to design an economic revitalization effort to increase jobs for residents in the city’s South End neighborhood. The coalition has been awarded a $15,000 design grant as part of the Working Cities Challenge sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Waterbury will now join 9 other CT communities in competing for second phase funding where 4-6 cities will receive grants ranging from $300,000-500,000 to implement their proposed economic revitalization programs and/or projects.

Chris Corbett 5K on April 2nd

   The Christopher D Corbett Memorial Fund was created to honor the memory of Deputy Police Chief Christopher D. Corbett and to carry on his support of Waterbury’s Catholic schools and their students educational goals. It provides 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. The fund engages in fundraising activities for this purpose.

Special-Election Fraud In Connecticut?

                                        Story By John Murray

   Dan Lynch looked at the e-mail with a mix of joy and confusion. It was 2:38 PM on Thursday, January 26th. The message was from the Connecticut Secretary of State’s Office, and it confirmed that Lynch had qualified to have his name placed on the February 28th ballot in a special election to fill the vacant seat in State Senate’s 32nd District.

   The joy came from Lynch’s realization that his intense six-day effort to get 502 signatures on petitions had worked. Lynch had spent 12-14 hours a day working on his campaign; he’d stood in front of diners in the cold; he’d frequented a Dunkin Donuts in Southbury; he’d mingled at sporting events; he’d driven back and forth across the ten-town district visiting friends; and as a strategic move to maximize his time on the last night before deadline, he’d slept in his car.