Blogging For Change


Linda McMahon, a former candidiate for U.S. Senator, visited our blog program at Waterbury Youth Services and made an extraordinary impression.

Column by Chelsea Murray

  This summer instead of basking in the sun or traveling, I have had the pleasure of spearheading a blogging program with a group of amazing young women at Waterbury Youth Services.

   The program evolved out of an argument with my father, who owns the Waterbury Observer, and who drives me crazy sometimes. Frustrated that day, I picked up the phone and called Kelly Cronin, the executive director of Waterbury Youth Services, and asked if I could invent a program for the summer. I felt the need to do something different with my life and wanted the opportunity to help others. I wasn’t sure what her response would be. I was young, practically just-out-of-college, and she could have told me to get lost. Instead, Kelly invited me down to her office and asked me to propose a program.

The Adventure And Thrill Of Rescuing A Red Shouldered Hawk

   (Editor's note - Kevin Zak is the founder of the Naugatuck River Revival Group and has been instrumental in generating awareness of the unique ecosystem that flows directly through Waterbury)

Column By Kevin Zak, Photographs By John Murray

   A Red Shouldered Hawk was trapped in the bucket of a cherry picker with water up to its chest. The clock was ticking. How long this raptor was in his watery tomb, or how he got there, was anyone’s guess. The hawk was not going to live through the night. Heavy thunder storms overtook Wolcott the previous week and somehow, bizarrely, this raptor had trapped itself in a narrow bucket and couldn’t spread his broad wings. The sides of the bucket were too steep and there was nothing for him to dig his sharp and powerful talons into so he could climb out. With each day the hawk grew weary and with each new down pour the water got deeper. Without food for days his condition was like a Chinese finger trap - the more he struggled the weaker he became. This magnificent creature was injured, weakened, and about to drown.

Chef Richard Morotto At Mattatuck Museum, August 29th

   The Chef Series at the Mattatuck Museum continues with Chef Richard Morotto of Bin 300 Restaurant in Wolcott on Monday, August 29th, 2011 from 6:00-9:00pm. With Chef Richard watch and learn how to make seasonal dishes as he creates an amazing meal of Apple and Brie Turnovers with Port Reduction, Lobster Cappuccino with Vanilla Bourbon Chantilly and Wild Mushrooms in a Red Wine Sauce with Pappardelle Pasta and Manchego Cheese. Learn valuable cooking techniques and tips then enjoy the meal in the elegant museum setting.

Paul Vance Appointed State Claims Commissioner, Drops Out Of Mayoral Race


Story and Photographs By John Murray

   J. Paul Vance Jr. has been appointed Claims Commissioner in Connecticut and has dropped out of the 2011 mayoral race in Waterbury. Although he accepted the job three weeks ago, Vance didn’t get his official appointment until Monday, August 15th, his first day on the job.

Bobby Bonds Memorial Scholarship Classic, September 12th

   On Monday, September 12th, New Opportunities, Inc. will hold their 17th Annual Bobby Bonds Memorial Scholarship Classic at The Country Club of Waterbury.   Registration/Lunch begins at 11:00am with Shot Gun Start at 12 Noon. 4-man Team. Scramble format. Cost is $200 per golfer with Sponsorship options starting at $150.

Shattered - The Seven Year Search For Billy Smolinski Jr.

When serious leads aren't followed up by law enforcement, Bill and Jan Smolinski scour the woods for the remains of their missing son Billy, who was murdered in August 2004.

Story and Photographs By John Murray

   Picture the murder of Billy Smolinski as a crystal vase. Hold it in your hands. Spin it around. Now drop it on the kitchen floor and watch it shatter into a thousand pieces. Each shard of glass represents a clue into who killed Billy on August 24th, 2004. When patched together the vase reveals the gruesome truth of who murdered Billy, and why. The vase points to the spot Billy is buried in the Naugatuck Valley.

Civil War Re-enactment August 13-14th, Three Rivers Park, Woodbury

Naugatuck's Lou Dube as Abraham Lincoln, and Waterbury's Martin Spring as the president's body guard.

   Step back in time to the 1860’s, hear the sounds of battle, the roar of cannons
as Union and Confederate troops clash again. Building on two successful events, the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery and the Western Connecticut Convention and Visitors Bureau will once again host a Civil War-Living History event August 13-14th, 2011 at Three Rivers Park, Woodbury, CT. Experience life as it was during “The War Between the States”.

Waterbury Board Of Education Selects New School Chief - Dr. Kathleen Ouellette

After listening to dozens of members of Waterbury's black community speak out in support of Dr. Portia Bonner, a black woman who was born and raised in Waterbury, the Board of Education voted 7-3 to hire Dr. Kathleen Ouellette as the new Superintendent of Schools in Waterbury. The board members who voted for Ouellette cited her strong track record of experience as the deciding factor.

Community Activist Calls On Black Community To March On Monday's Bd of Ed Meeting, And Boycott Rep-Am Newspaper

Jimmie Griffin blasted the process used to hire the new superintendent of schools.

   Jimmie Griffin has earned a reputation in Waterbury as a fiery speaker who enjoys tangling with individuals in power. When Griffin perceives that the minority community is being overlooked he isn't afraid to take on a mayor, the school board, or the publisher of the daily newspaper. Griffin ran for mayor in 1995, was the driving force behind the aldermen by district movement, was the the head of the NAACP in Waterbury for seven years, and was statewide president of the NAACP for two years.

Black Leaders Call Press Conference To Protest Hiring Of White Superintendent Of Waterbury Schools, WOW Center, 5PM

Press Conference Today!!!  WOW LEARNING CENTER
Location:   304 Walnut Street
                 Waterbury, Ct.
Time:         5:00 PM
Date:         Today 4 August 2011
Contact:    Jimmie Griffin, Convenor at 203-577-8084

Naugatuck River Clean-Up August 7th Between Platts Mills And Union City

   The Naugatuck River Revival Group is organizing a clean-up in the Naugatauck River Sunday, August 7th, from 9 am to noon. The area targeted for this low-river clean-up is between Platts Mills and Union City. Interested individuals or groups are encouraged to contact Sondra Harman at

A Year Of Self Discovery

Column By Chelsea Murray

   Before I graduated from Marist College last year most adults I knew told me that I would learn more in the real world than in the classroom. Much to the dismay of my parent’s wallets, that has turned out to be true. Why waste time in class when I could have gotten a smack-in-the-face education from the real world all along?

College Fair in Danbury to focus on Educational Opportunities for Adult Students

Waterbury, Conn. – Some of the area’s most well-known colleges and universities are teaming up for the City of Danbury Education Fair, which will take place on Thursday, August 4, from 11 am to 2 pm. The event will be held at 235 Main Street in the lobby of the law offices of Ventura, Ribeiro & Smith. Parking is available in the City Parking Garage next to the Ice Arena. Visitors are asked to please park in this garage and not in the parking lot for the building.

The Times Have Changed

(Editor's note - the following column was written by Don Coppock, an American ex-pat now living in Thailand. Living 8000 miles away from the United States provided Coppock time and space to reflect about the dramatic changes in American life that has evolved during the past sixty years)