Inside Independent Party Headquarters On Election Night

                            Photographs By Antonio Gruttadauria

Fran De Pillo watched intently as her husband, Larry De Pillo, checked the numbers coming into Independent Party HQs on election night inside the Franco-American Club in the East End of Waterbury. This was the 8th straight municipal election in Waterbury that Larry De Pillo has placed his name before the electorate. This year the Independent Party ran a shoe-string campaign on $20,000 (1/15th the budget of the Democrats) and still managed to snare 20% of the vote.

Neil O'Leary's Big Jump

   Fifteen hours after getting elected mayor, Neil O'Leary went down to WATR radio on Broadcast Lane for an election retrospective, and a peek into the future. WATR host Larry Rifkin posed blunt questions about O'Leary's plans to deal with John Rowland (to be discussed face to face with Rowland), and which high profile city employees would he retain in his administration (there is tremendous talent in place). When the hour interview concluded, O'Leary came outside to discover the Waterbury Observer waiting to wrap up its election day documentary project. A short interview later, Observer publisher John Murray discovered his battery was dead, and he needed a jump. Murray's car battery had died while he was sitting in the WATR parking lot listening to Rifkin's interview with O'Leary. Chelsea Murray used her left hand to hold the hood from clunking O'Leary on the head, and her right hand to photograph Waterbury's next mayor connecting jumper cables to her father's 300,000 mile Ford Explorer. The revitalization has begun.....

The Sweet Kiss Of Victory

Ten-year-old Maggie O'Leary was hoisted into the air and kissed by her father, Neil O'Leary, after he captured the mayor's seat in Waterbury last night. The Observer spent the day shadowing O'Leary, and a chunk of his day revolved around talking to Maggie's class at Blessed Sacrament School, taking Maggie to Kennedy High School where she bubbled in his name for mayor, and scrambling to pick her up at the end of the school day. The image above was made as O'Leary made his way through a raucous crowd of supporters towards a stage. Half way through the crowd O'Leary spotted his daughter, picked her up in front of hundreds of supporters and journalists, and gave her a kiss that neither one will ever forget. The Observer will publish an in-depth feature article about the day with dozens of other images from the 2011 municipal campaign in the November issue of the newspaper next week. Photograph by John Murray

Neil O'Leary Knocks Out Opponents To Win A Bruising Mayoral Election In Waterbury

Neil O'Leary fist bumps Waterbury Police Chief Mike Guggliotti in celebration after defeating five-term incumbent Mike Jarjura, and Independent Party candidate, Larry De Pillo, in a bruising and painful mayoral race. The Observer shadowed O'Leary from 6 AM until midnight to document his historic day. The newspaper will be publishing an in-depth feature article about the experience in next week's edition, and will post dozens of images from the campaign trail on this website. Stay tuned.......photograph by John Murray

Hispanics Are Wild Card In Tuesday's Mayoral Election

Less than 10% of the registered voters in the 75th District voted in the last municipal election. The largely Hispanic population in the South End of Waterbury has historically voted Democrat, but this year both the Republicans and Independents look to take their own cut. The woman above was photographed at an Hispanic rally for Neil O'Leary on November 2nd at the Portuguese Club on Baldwin Street.

                                      Story and Photographs By John Murray

   The 2011 mayoral campaign in Waterbury has been a battle, but the trench warfare that has erupted in the South End has triggered an Hispanic awakening that might decide which of the three candidates emerges victorious tomorrow night. The controversy in the South End centers around four-term incumbent Democrat State Representative David Aldarando, and the influence he holds in the 75th District. The district is dominated by Hispanics from a wide array of Spanish speaking countries, including: Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Columbia, El Salvador and Guatemala. And contrary to main stream popular opinion, these groups don't all like each other. Aldarando won re-election in 2010 by winning twice the number of votes as second place finisher Paul Nogueira, and appeared comfortably entrenched in a safe political seat.

Jarjura Has Waterbury GOP Charged Up For Election Day

                                 Photographs By John Murray

Five-term incumbent Mike Jarjura re-energized the Republican Party in Waterbury after he severed his 25 year tie to the Democrat Party in May, and unexpectedly joined the GOP. Jarjura is pictured above during a Sunday afternoon GOP rally at Jarjura Headquarters in the East End of Waterbury. In the photograph, from left to right, is Lynette Piombo, Steve Giacomi, Jarjura, Fred Luedke and Jason Van Stone. The Democrats cancelled their traditional rally to focus on intensive door to door canvasing, and the Independent Party will hold their rally Monday evening at Hopeville Cafe in the South End of the city.

Aldermen Told They Are Nicer Than Mayoral Candidates

                                                Photographs By John Murray

Fifteen of the 26 candidates for the Board of Aldermen showed up at Walsh School in the North End of Waterbury, Saturday afternoon, for a hastily rescheduled debate about issues facing the city. From left to right are Independent Party candidates Luis Quince Jr., Robert Petro III, Cicero Booker Jr., Lisa Lessard, Michael Simpson, Vincent Martinelli and Republicans Jerry Padula and Steve Giacomi. 

New Sculpture Honoring Gold Star Mothers Installed At Waterbury City Hall, Dedication 11/11/11

                                     Photographs By John Murray

Three Waterbury firemen and three Waterbury police officers carry a sculpture of a Gold Star Mother into City Hall Saturday morning.  The sculpture,  by Andrew Chernak, of Pennsylvania, is one of three in America honoring the sacrifice of parents who have lost a son or daughter in the service of the country. This memorial will be donated to the City of Waterbury from the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee on Veterans Day, November 11, 2011, at 7 P.M., in Waterbury City Hall.

Sculpture Honoring Gold Star Mothers Debuts In Waterbury City Hall, November 11th, 7 PM

   The sculptor, Andrew Chernak, at the Laran Fine Art Foundry in Chester, Pennsylvania, with his creation honoring Gold Star Mothers. This Memorial will be donated to the City of Waterbury from the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee on Veterans Day, November 11, 2011, at 7 P.M., in Waterbury City Hall.

   Bob Dorr is down getting the sculpture and bringing it back to Waterbury, Dorr says, "From 1917, to 2011, 529 men from Waterbury died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. They all had parents that loved them. This Memorial is for those they left behind."

Root Cause Of Taxes Centerpiece Of WATR Mayoral Debate

                                      By John Murray

Larry Rifkin and WATR radio provided a tremendous community service by hosting a two-hour live debate between the three mayoral candidates in Waterbury. Coming just six days before the November 8th election the debate was thoughtful, probing, substantive, and during commercial breaks - hilarious.

WATR Hosts Final Mayoral Debate In Waterbury

                                               By John Murray

   WATR radio host Larry Rifkin moderated a two-hour live mayoral debate on 1320 AM this morning featuring from left to right, Independent Party candidate Larry De Pillo, Democrat candidate Neil O'Leary, and Republican candidate and incumbent mayor, Mike Jarjura. The three candidates largely reiterated the positions they have been espousing for the past two months, but there were several sharp exchanges which will be reported in greater detail on this website in the next 24 hours.

Waterbury Shelter Moved To North End Recreation Center

   At 2 p.m., the city of Waterbury will transition its temporary shelter for those affected by the widespread power outages from the Waterbury Arts Magnet School to the North End Recreation Center, 268 North Main Street. The move is being made in anticipation of re-opening Waterbury Public Schools at some point prior to full restoration of power citywide. No determination has been made yet as to whether Waterbury Public Schools will open Thursday. For information on school closures, visit

CL&P - Power Out In Sections Of Waterbury Until Monday Night

Joe Geary, pictured above, shared the latest update with WATR radio 90 minutes ago.

                            Story and Photographs By John Murray

   The director of operations in Waterbury, Joe Geary, told WATR radio that the most up-t0-date information he had about the massive power outage was that the city still had 15,722 homes without power, or 32% of the city. Geary said he had spoken to CL&P at 10 am on Wednesday and the projection was that 99% of Waterbury would have its power restored by midnight on Monday, November 7th. Projections for the Overlook neighborhood were to get power restored by 5 pm on Monday, November 7th.

In Wake Of Bizarre Halloween Nor'easter, Obama Declares Connecticut A Federal Disaster

   The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Connecticut and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from a severe storm during the period of October 29-30, 2011.

Waterbury Postpones Halloween Trick-or-Treating

    In light of the widespread damage and ongoing safety concerns from Saturday’s storm, Mayor Michael J. Jarjura has decided to postpone Halloween Trick-or-Treating until Saturday, Nov. 5. Downed power lines could energize at any time as Connecticut Light & Power works on outages affecting 68 percent of the city, Mayor Jarjura decided to call for the postponement of trick-or-treating in the interests of safety and giving children in neighborhoods that currently are completely dark at the moment to enjoy the holiday once power is restored. Be safe, be smart and save your costume until Saturday (the snow should melt by that time anyways). 

After Glow - 90 Years Ago Workers At The Waterbury Clock Company Began Dying After Painting Radium On Clock Dials

A dial painter suffered from radium-induced sarcoma of the chin. The workers, mostly young women, used their mouthes to form sharp points on the brush that they would dip in and out of radium paint. Image from the book "Deadly Glow - The Radium Dial Worker Tragedy."

Story by Ann Quigley

(This article was first published The Waterbury Observer in September 2002)

   It was 1921 when 17-year –old Frances Splettstocher landed a job at the Waterbury Clock Company on Cherry Street. It was a glamorous job, for she and her young colleagues worked with radium – the wonder substance of the new century.  The girls used their keen eyes and nimble fingers to paint tiny numbers on glow-in-the-dark watches that were all the rage at the moment. World War I soldiers had worn the futuristic devices in the trenches, and now in peacetime everyone wanted one, so Splettstocher and dozens like her were hired to help produce millions of the watches during the early 1920s.