Meeting Of Ethnic Albanians In South End Of Waterbury Draws International Interest

                                                By John Murray

   The Albanian ambassador to the United States, Gilbert Galanxhi, right,, made a visit to the Albanian-American Community Club in the South End of Waterbury on January 11th, and his remarks have drawn interest from journalists in Macedonia and Albania. Galanxhi was joined in Waterbury by U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (left), Bekim Sejdiu, the Counsel General of Kosovo, Ziadin Sela, the mayor of Struga, Macedonia, and Neil O'Leary, the mayor of Waterbury, Connecticut.

Waterbury Wins $120,000 For Kid's Marathon

Rod Dixon, right, a legendary runner who is both an Olympic medalist and the winner of the 1983 NYC Marathon, introduced a fitness program in Waterbury last Spring that helped the city snare a $120,000 grant today in Washington D.C.. Dixon is shown here with Mike Dalton, left, who helped the Dixon Foundation set up shop in Waterbury. Dixon is encouraging seven-year-old Cameron Raver to run the Kid's Marathon last year after Cameron was trampled at the start. When Cameron was unsteady, Dixon personally escourted Cameron the final mile to encourage the completition of the marathon. Photograph by John Murray

   Today, Mayor Neil M. O’Leary accepted a first place award at the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) for Waterbury’s Kid’s Marathon Program.  The Conference, held in Washington D.C., gave six awards to mayors of cities with outstanding programs that encourage healthy weight through balanced diet choices and regular physical activity.

Waterbury and Struga Agree To Become Sister Cities, O'Leary To Visit Macedonia Next Summer

                           Story and Photographs By John Murray

   Sisters have a unique and powerful bond, and in that spirit, the cities of Waterbury, Connecticut, and Struga, Macedonia, agreed to become sister cities yesterday during a meeting between their municipal leaders inside Waterbury City Hall.

Waterbury PD Seek Help Solving Murder

   Waterbury Police are investigating a murder that occurred late Friday night in the rear of the brick apartment building located at the corner of Chestnut Avenue and Johnson Street. Kareem Morey (age 38) (pictured here) of Waterbury was shot once in the upper chest and was driven by friends to St. Mary’s Hospital where he later died as a result of his injuries.

Cross Of Colors Now Green at Holy Land

The new 55-foot tall cross installed atop Holy Land on December 22nd is now shining green over the city of Waterbury, Connecticut. There are nine basic colors, but an infinite number of mixes and matches. The image tonight was captured from Congress Avenue in the Brooklyn neighborhood as hundreds of crows flew north along the Naugatuck River. Photograph by John Murray

Political Awakening In Local Albanian Community

Albania's ambassador to the United States, Gilbert Galanxhi, traveled from Washington D.C. for an historic meeting of the local Albanian community in Waterbury with two United States Senators. 

                       Story and Photographs By John Murray

   With 12,000 Albanians living in Waterbury the city has one of the largest populations of Albanians in the United States. Some came more than 50 years ago, but a large influx of Albanians came seeking opportunity in the 1990s when Albania opened it's borders. Thousands more ethnic Albanians came to Waterbury to escape the hardship of the Balkan wars when Yugoslavia broke apart.

O'Leary Working On Major Downtown Proposal

East Main Street in Waterbury during Monday afternoon's deluge of rain.

                                Story and Photographs by John Murray

   Last night the Board of Aldermen in Waterbury voted unanimously to move a proposed $40 million greeway project forward with an initial investment of $1 million. As exciting as that project is, Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary is already zeroing in on a massive downtown revitalization project that he is presenting to state officials in mid-January. It involves five separate projects, all in downtown, that O'Leary believes will begin the transformation of downtown Waterbury.

   "I can't be specific at this point because we haven't presented the ideas to state officicals yet," O'Leary said. "But I can tell you that we are excited at the potential this has to revitalize downtown Waterbury."

Plant A Row For The Hungry

   While planting your yearly garden, include an extra row to donate to Connecticut Food Bank or a food program in your area.Clean, fresh produce can be delivered to any of Connecticut Food Bank's warehouses in East Haven, Fairfield and Waterbury.

New Cross Celebration on December 22nd

                                              By John Murray

   Peter Bearce worked on a section of the massive new Holy Land cross inside Pisani Steel yesterday afternoon in Naugatuck. Bearce is the shop foreman at Pisani Steel, and said the construction of the 55 foot tall cross has been a daunting challenge due to the length and weight of the piece.

King Industries Signs Contract With City

Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary and Richard King from King Industries, formalized their business relationship with a contract signing ceremony iniside City Hall at noon today. Photographs by John Murray

   It’s official: King Industries, Inc. of Norwalk, Conn. is expanding to Waterbury.

   Mayor Neil M. O’Leary and Richard S. King, the company’s owner and president, signed the purchase and sale agreement today at Waterbury City Hall, sealing the deal on the purchase of approximately 10.75 acres of a remediated brownfield industrial site at Waterbury Industrial Commons, 1975 Thomaston Ave.

City Unveils $32 Million Proposal To Build Greenway and Park Along Naugatuck River

                           Story and Photographs by John Murray

   Jackson Wandres from the RBA Group uncorked a far reaching vision for the Waterbury Greenway Project last night during a presentation at the Board of Aldermen in City Hall. RBA had been hired to design the phase one section of the greenway which included the Platts Mills section of the city up to the Eagle Street Bridge (all in the south end), but through an aggressive intervention by Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary, those plans expanded to continue north to Colonial Plaza.

Aldermen Reverse Decision To Censor Debate

   Democrat Majoity Leader on the Board of Aldermen,  Tony Picocchi, foreground, listened to his Republican colleague, Steve Giacomi, right, give a blistering commentary about the board's December 1st vote to control debate between aldermen, and to limit the public's ability to address subjects not on the agenda without submitting questions 11 days in advance of meetings. The public's response to the Democrats attempt to limit debate at aldermen meetings was fast and furious. Both the Rep-Am newspaper and the Waterbury Observer condemned the rule changes, and when the ACLU threatened a lawsuit, the Democrats reversed course and voted last night to return to the old rules.

O'Leary Promises Better Days In Second Term

                                        Photographs By John Murray

   Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary was sworn in to a second term in office yesterday afternoon during a ceremony at Kennedy High School. O'Leary captured nearly 70% of the vote on election day and has a clear mandate to continue the projects and issues his administration has been implementing.

Albanians Celebrate 101 Years of Independence

                                                 By John Murray

Albanian Independence Day is celebrated on November 28th and is a national holiday in Albania, and for ethnic Albanians scattered across the globe. The local Albanian community in Waterbury celebrated the holiday, and their annual Mayor For the Day ceremony at Waterbury City Hall a day later this year since Thanksgiving fell on November 28th.

Craft Market Inside Waterbury City Hall

   A Holiday Artisan Market is being hosted by the State of Connecticut and the City of Waterbury on November 29th and 30th inside City Hall, 235 Grand Street. The market will feature a collection of handcrafted products and will showcase artisans and artists from around Connecticut. With its premiere in City Hall, we expect this Market to grow every year and become a state-wide attraction.

Baguettes And A Broken Heart

Chelsea Murray's wonderful new friend at the market in Ceret, France.

                     Story and Photographs by Chelsea Murray

   (Editors note - For the next several months Chelsea Murray is working her way across Europe on a network of organic farms. Chelsea and her boyfriend Michael Kaneb spent two weeks harvesting potatoes in Bavaria, in southern Germany, and are now harvesting olives for a month on a farm in the south of France. They hope to continue on through Spain, Portugal, Italy, Albania and Greece. Chelsea has been writing columns for the Observer (which is owned by her father) since she was 11 years old. She will continue to report her adventures as time and internet access allows.)

   After helping my farm host set up her stand at the market in Ceret, France (the city where Picasso, Dali and other artists had flocked to for inspiration), she informed me that I was a free woman and could wander around for a few hours to take in the sights, smells, and culture of a French market. My first moments alone were spent breaking from my vegan diet again (it's the lifestyle at the farm I'm working at), and sampling hoards of cheeses, meats, delicious baguettes and perusing through people’s wares.