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A Walk on the Mild Side

Manchester History Walk

In November, about 3 dozen history buffs joined town historian Susan Barlow on a short walk in downtown Manchester. We met at town hall and walked by Center Congregational Church, the former Lincoln School (now Lincoln Center), and the former Post Office (now Weiss Center). The Weiss Center is on the Register of National Historic Places. It was built during the Great Depression as a WPA Project.

The walk’s highlight was a tour of the Masonic Lodge, built in 1926 and available for purchase today.

Initially, the Masons met in a different building on this site. A fire damaged the building in 1913, and it was moved to Birch St. That Birch St building is still in use today. Would you happen to know which building it is?

The Masonic Lodge is the oldest fraternal organization in Manchester. It continues to be active, but membership has dwindled over the years. The building is up for sale.

Some Masons are also Shriners. The Masons sponsor Shriners Hospitals and MasonicCare facilities, providing skilled nursing, behavioral health, independent living, assisted living, and hospice care. The international organization spends about $1 billion per year on charity.

Each of the four walls in a Masonic Lodge meeting room is labeled with a direction – north, south, east, and west. The east is the focal point of the lodge, and during meetings, the master sits in the east (which is also sometimes actually east).

The second in command sits in the west, and the third in the south. Members can sit anywhere in the other seats. No one of importance sits in the north. In the room pictured below, however, there is an organ in the north.

The lodge has other interesting architectural features, including stained glass windows and real gold on some wall decorations.

After the tour of the Masonic Lodge, the group crossed the street and talked about Orange Hall and the Washington Social Club. The Orange Lodge was started in 1883 by mill workers who were immigrants from Northern Ireland. The property was purchased for $400 in 1900 and paid off by members contributing 5 cents out of their weekly pay. In 1901, Orange Hall was built for $1200. In 1923, the members wanted a social club, so the building out back was constructed and became the Washington Social Club. The Manchester Bagpipe Band practices upstairs in Orange Hall. At one time, the building had a grocery store downstairs.

On the corner of Main and Center is the gravestone for a building built by the Independent Order of Oddfellows. The building was demolished when the intersection changed from a traffic circle to its current configuration.

The tour concluded with a discussion of the Civil War Statue on the other side of Main St. and the probate court, which used to be the police department with cells in the basement. The cells are still there.

By the way, next year is the 200th anniversary of Manchester.  Since it will be 2023, Susan will lead 23 history walks next year.

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The Sculpture Project

“…other people walked among us…and their greatness maybe wasn’t known right away.”

– Lynn Sottile

Elisabeth Bennet Maquette


On August 30, I sat down with Lynn Sottile in her graphic design office above Mulberry Street Pizza to talk about the Sculpture Project. Lynn is excited about the project’s success, whose idea first came to her in 2016 while visiting family in Naperville, IL. She was impressed with the statues along the Naperville Riverwalk. Lynn and a small group of civic-minded residents had been discussing making a permanent contribution to Manchester. The group who had worked on other projects together, like Imagine Main St, included Joyce Hodgson, Tana Parseliti, Susan Barlow, and Eileen Sweeney. Soon after, the Sculpture Project was born.

Each committee member makes a unique, significant contribution to the overall success of the project. Joyce Hodgson-Post ran Imagine Main St for a few years and has talent with social media. She has since married and moved to New Jersey, but she continues to participate. Tana Parseliti was downtown manager and is also excellent with social media. She manages the budget. Eileen Sweeney was a big help in acquiring the fiduciary, the Manchester Historical Society. She is no longer active with the group. Town Historian, Susan Barlow, a proficient researcher, depicts Elizabeth Bennet in the videos found here:

The Sculpture Project Committee continues to grow. Today, other members include Michele O’Neil, Catherine Wynn, Susan Wright, Claudia Keuhl, Ann Lucente, Donna Fitzgerald, and Ed Burzawa. The concept behind the Sculpture Project was to tell the story of the people from this community. The group considered sculptures for the Cheneys, but their legacy is well established with buildings, artwork, and magnificent homes. 

People were invited to submit names, and each group member did some of their own research. The final list included twenty extraordinary people who had made a unique contribution to Manchester that would stand the test of time. The group set some parameters to narrow the list, including that the person must be deceased. With careful consideration, the decision was made to begin with three people, Joe McCluskey, Elisabeth Bennet, and Emily Cheney Neville.

Over the next three years, the committee raised money, found a sculptor, and erected the first statue of Joe McCluskey. Manchester-born Sculptor Michael Keropian works closely with the group by first creating a miniature clay model called a maquette. Props can be added, the tilt of the head can be changed, the pose can be modified. When all are happy with the maquette, Michael will use it to make the life-size bronze sculpture.

Joe McCluskey was a four-time winner of the Manchester Road Race. He was a 1932 Olympic bronze medalist in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Joe developed his skills jumping over hedges in Manchester while delivering morning and evening editions of local newspapers to Manchester residents. Money for this statue came from donations large and small, including the Manchester Road Race Foundation and the McCluskey family. The statue is located on the road race course across from Highland Park Market. Joe’s eight children, their spouses, his grandchildren, and other family members attended the dedication of the statue in November of 2019.


Elisabeth Bennet’s maquette has been created, and fundraising is well underway. Elisabeth was a teacher, principal, and supervisor of new teachers who brought art, music, physical exercise and dance, and audiovisual equipment to Manchester’s schools. She was dedicated and self-less, using her own time and money to raise funds for a Steinway piano and school libraries.  In 1913 she led the evacuation of Barnard School before a fire destroyed the building. All 900 students were evacuated safely. 

Props included in the sculpture will begin to tell her story and hopefully arouse the curiosity of adults and children alike. She will be holding an art palette and a music clef, and a hopscotch will lead up to the statue. The Elisabeth Bennet Sculpture will be placed in front of Bennet Academy.

Next up for the Sculpture Project will be 1964 Newbury Award Winner Emily Cheney Neville, author of many books, including It’s Like This, Cat”.

If you would like to make a contribution to the Sculpture Project follow this link:

A fundraising tour of the David Hayes Sculptor Field in Coventry will be held in the spring of 2022. The tour was initially scheduled for September 25, 2021, but has been postponed due to damage from a tornado.


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Cheney Rail Trail History Walk

In November, 50 people (including me) set off from the Fuss & O’Neill office building on Hartford Rd. to enjoy a talk about local history and experience the most recent addition to the Manchester parks on the newly completed southern portion of Cheney Rail Trail.

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Map courtesy of Manchester Land Trust:


The group hiked from Fuss & O’Neill on Hartford Rd. to the start of the new trail behind the Lofts at the Mills Apartments.  Then, on the trail, under the Park St bridge and up to Center St where we had to leave the trail briefly to cross Center St.  The new railroad trestle over Center St had not been completed at that time. The walk ended at Center Springs Park.  We returned along city streets.

Susan Barlow led the hike and provided information about the history of the Cheney Railroad and the surrounding area.  The talk came alive with stories of bygone days in Manchester and the use of pictures taken over 100 years ago of the areas we were standing in and walking through. 

The first site of historical significance is Old Engine Company Number One.  The firehouse located at the corner of Pine St and Hartford Rd was built by the Cheneys and donated to the town.  IMG_0872

Next stop on the tour was the Velvet Mill.  The Cheneys were interested in hiring skilled workers.  Some of the most skilled workers lived in Non-English speaking countries.  These workers arrived in Manchester from around the world to work at the Cheney Mills.  To overcome language issues, newly hired workers were given a card with a letter and a number on it similar to the V1 painted on the Velvet Mill in the picture.  This indicated the correct building and entrance to begin work.

Velvet Mill Building

Across the street from the Velvet Mill is the Clocktower Mill.  The smokestack in the background is still in pretty good shape so it has been re-purposed as a cell phone tower.

Clock Tower Mill with old smokestack in background
Smokestack/Cell Phone Tower

Almost all of the old mill building are now apartments.  During the walk we stopped frequently while Susan explained interesting architectural features of the buildings, when they were built, and what was produced in each one.  

Architectural Features Known as Medallions, Ashlar & Pilaster (Built in 1901)

In addition to the Velvet Mill and Clocktower Mill, there was a Spinning Mill, Ribbon Mills, machine shop, dye house, silk storage vaults and a storage building large enough for a railroad car.

Old Silk Storage Vaults (still in use as storage)
Railroad Car Storage

The Cheney Rail Service carried silk and passengers between the north and south ends of Manchester.  Large locomotives weren’t needed for these relatively light loads and a smaller engine called a Yard Goat was used.  Yard Goat?

The trail begins right near the old railroad yard. 


Railroad Yard in 1932 and Cheney’s Yard Goat


Railroad Yard Today

Some of the tracks were in good shape and were kept in place to create a sense of authenticity.

Tracks left in place near rail trail.

One of the conductors lived in this house overlooking the rail yard right before the Park St. Bridge.


Cheney’s Goat is above the front door and on the shutters

The trail is 2.5 miles long and ends at Farr’s Department Store in the North End of Manchester.  The railroad was the shortest line in the United States but had the unique distinction of having more linear feet of tracks in the railroad yard than on the 2.5 mile route.

There are some great views from the bridge overlooking Center Springs Park.

Bridge overlooking Center Springs Park and turnaround point for the hike.
View of Center Springs Park from the Bridge

 The next free rail trail hike on the Cheney Rail Trail is scheduled for this Sunday at 1:00.  This hike will begin at the north end of the trail.  The meeting location is 2 Main St.  I highly recommend this activity!!!

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Susan Campbell Brightens History Dinner

The annual meeting of the Manchester Historical Society was held on May 3rd at the Manchester Country Club.  We enjoyed the meal and pleasant conversation with the other guests at our table.  Then Susan Campbell, author, and former Hartford Courant journalist approached the podium and began a personal and heartwarming talk about her childhood, her career, her books, and local and not so local history.

Susan fully engaged the audience with her sense of humor, anecdotes about her life, and opinions.  She found common ground with those interested in history by speaking of her love of stories, sentences, facts, and research. Growing up in the south in a “family of storytellers and liars”, she spent her girlhood trying to discern between the two. She also developed a love of reading and spent time at the local library and reading every magazine that came into her house including Time, Newsweek, and Redbook.

In 7th grade, Susan learned from her teacher that the civil war was about slavery. Up until then, she had been told that the “War of Northern Aggression” was about states’ rights.  She began to question what she had been taught in school and church. She decided she would have to discover facts for herself and to seek the real story.  She could no longer just accept what she was told by her teachers and preachers.

In today’s information age, as we are bombarded with details from a variety of media sources at all times of day, it is even more difficult to discern fact from fiction. Susan said, “This is a time for truth-tellers because if we listen to one another’s honest story then we are bound by our humanity to think of one another as something besides the ‘other'”.   She continued, “At some point, we’re going to have to stop and gather around the campfire and reacquaint ourselves with our stories.  Truth is all. Truthful stories are everything.  The truth will both save us and set us free.”

In becoming a journalist she “was drawn most to people without a voice” and found famous people to be as dull as the preachers she was forced to listen to in those long ago Missouri churches. Too many of the questions she considered asking famous people had been asked and answered already.  She was more curious about the people who no one wanted to talk to. Given her upbringing,  Susan’s writing became an act of defiance.  Her career as a journalist included stops at the Joplin Globe, Wichita Eagle Beacon and finally the Hartford Courant.

Susan wrote for the Hartford Courant for 25 years.  In writing about “people with stories to tell but no one to listen” she discovered her own ignorance about various groups of people. This realization delighted her and was the motivation to continue to educate herself.  She also gave speeches on journalism and was occasionally questioned by uninformed suburban residents if she really went into “scary old Hartford” to investigate for her stories.  Susan declared, “People fed on a steady diet of crime and aberrations from a particular location will start to believe that those aberrations are the norm.”  However, despite many years of work in all of Hartford’s neighborhoods she only had something stolen from her in Glastonbury.

Encouragement to write and publish her first book came from Wally Lamb who was a fellow participant in a writing group.   During one group meeting, Susan was met with complete silence after reading about her experience being baptized a fundamentalist until Wally Lamb spoke up and told her to write more about that. Dating Jesus: Fundamentalism, Feminism and the American Girl was written to enlighten people about “the mostly false public narrative about fundamentalism.”

Her second book, Tempest Tossed;  The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker was inspired by research for a series of Hartford Courant short stories about three of the four Beecher sisters.  Susan’s assignment was Isabella.  She visited the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center to read Isabella’s letters and soon “fell in love with this misunderstood, mouthy woman.”

The idea for Susan’s most recent book,  FrogHollow: Stories from an American Neighborhood began during walks around the Frog Hollow neighborhood.  She discovered great restaurants and the architectural style apartment building unique to Hartford known as “perfect sixes”.  These walks evoked nostalgia for her hometown of  Webb City, Missouri which like Hartford gave her the feeling that “something happened here and I missed it.”    She talked to people, took notes, researched the history of the area and then decided to write another book.

After answering some question, Susan autographed and sold copies of her books.  She continues to research Isabella Beecher and Frog Hollow. Nowadays you can find Susan Campbell teaching journalism at the University of New Haven.





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Rockin’ the Hall at Cheney

The Guthrie Brothers came to Cheney Hall last Friday night and got the crowd pumped.  They played a lot of classic Simon & Garfunkel including Sounds of Silence, Homeward Bound, Dangling Conversations, and 59th Street Bridge Song. 

From sing-alongs, stories, music history questions to dancing in the aisles and making animal noises the crowd seemed to have a great time. 

Here is a sampling:


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Manchester History Center Research Library


A new research library will be opening this summer at the Manchester History Center.  I attended a planning meeting on Thursday morning.  A small group of dedicated individuals has been working hard on all phases of creating a research library from cataloging books to planning the layout to creating policies.

Stay tuned.

Also, if you get a chance, plan a visit to the Manchester History Center.  It’s an interesting place in the heart of the Cheney Mills complex in the west end and is open Monday-Friday from 10-2.


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Manchester and Amby: A Win-Win Connection

Manchester Road Race Compares Favorably to the Boston Marathon in Amby Burfoot’s Experience.

Amby Burfoot: Manchester & Me was the title of a presentation I attended at Whiton Memorial Library on Monday night. Amby who has won the Manchester Road Race nine times and the Boston Marathon once will run tomorrow morning in his 56th consecutive race around the 4.748 mile course in town.

At 72, Amby is no longer a red-head with a full red beard but is still long, lean and bearded.  He spoke for one hour about his experiences as a runner from high school to the present day.  He had many kind things to say about the town of Manchester and the Manchester Road Race as he reminded us that  “Every day is a gift, every mile is a gift”. He used a PowerPoint with some great pictures and let us know his books were being sold by his wife Cristina off to one side of the auditorium.  He offered to autograph any books purchased.

Amby described himself as the worst player on the JV basketball team as a sophomore in high school.  During one particularly bad practice the team was kicked out of the gym and sent out to run the cross-country course.  Winning easily over the other players he made the emotional decision to quit being the worst player on the team in a sport he loved  to try  cross-country.

He ran his first practices in his high top Keds basketball sneakers and his first race in an old pair of bowling shoes on a rainy day.  The shoes got soaked and de-laminated and he crossed the football field at the end of the race with a flapping shoe sole to finish in 5th or 6th place.  After the race Amby was feeling nauseous and disappointed when John J. Kelly, “the most inspiring, most intelligent, most astonishing man I’ve met” put his arm around Amby’s shoulders and offered words of support and encouragement.  John predicted that Amby had some potential for a good future in this sport.

Amby’s first road race was in Manchester in 1963.  He had been running high school cross-country for only two years.  He won the high school division that year and fell in love with road racing and the big enthusiastic crowds in Manchester.  He compares the crowd support in Manchester to that of Boston and contrasts it with the rest of the world, where back in the day, road racers were considered “creatures from a foreign land” and beer cans and beer bottles were thrown out of windows at the runners.

The sport has come into its own since those early days and grown in popularity around the world.  It’s been 45 years since he felt the thrill of flying down Main St in Manchester to break the tape and get his picture in the paper.  He has returned every year for 56 years because of the community, the crowds and the people of Manchester. Something very special is going on in this town.  What it is and what it has always been is the community support of tens of thousands of people.

One of Amby’s best memories was his 50th Manchester Road Race.  He was expecting cheers from the spectators during this special anniversary running  but discovered the dirty little truth about running in the middle of the pack.   It’s so difficult to spot anyone in particular among the throngs of other runners that anonymity is almost guaranteed if you aren’t breaking the finish line tape. However, the thrill of the incredibly energetic scene at the starting line every Thanksgiving Day in Manchester continues for him.

In 1961 Manchester became famous for being the first road race in the country to have a woman finish the race.  Amby talked about his interest in the history of women runners which he wrote about in his book “First Ladies of Running: 22 Inspiring Profiles Of The Rebels, Rule Breakers And Visionaries Who Changed The Sport Forever.”  Julia Chase-Brand, a 21-year-old college senior was the first woman to finish a road race in the U.S. and she ran it in Manchester.  Although being denied entry into the race by the organizers at the time, she ran the race anyway and crossed the finish line in good form. Another woman also ran in that race.  She was from Great Britain and had run in races there but stepped off the course before the finish line because she thought she would be banned from U.S. races forever by the athletic authorities. Today some of the most elite female runners in the world compete at the Manchester Road Race.

Amby talked about the cast of characters who participate in Manchester, from Olympians to guys as old as he is today trotting around the streets, to costumes and Safety Man and a variety of bands.  It is the only race in country to have an awards  lunch celebrating those over 75.  He’s looking forward to attending that lunch in a few years.

Manchester owes its success as a world-class event because the right people in town have stepped up at the right time to make it a premier road race.  According to Amby, “This is an event that has a history and has a sparkle to it and that has to be maintained.”  People in town  started the famous “Irish Connection” where John Treacy and Eamonn Coghlan contributed to making it a world-class event.  It has continued with the large contingent of top-notch runners from East Africa who have dominated in recent years.

The race tomorrow morning will be a cold one so good luck to all the runners, spectators, and officials.


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Main St. Manchester – Going Out on the (Down)Town

Steve’s Bagels


We were thrilled when Steve’s opened.  The bagels are great and we no longer have to drive to the mall or Glastonbury to get a bagel on a Sunday morning.  As I was taking this picture I met Nicole McCann waiting for her order.  She told me she loves this place  “Great people, great food, great service.”

Bui Vietnamese


We ate here in October with friends Chien and Anne Nguyen.  My husband and I had never tried Vietnamese food.  Chien and Anne are experts, especially Chien who grew up in Vietnam.  Anne has been a frequent visitor to Vietnam and of course eats Vietnamese food at home when Chien cooks.  I had a Bánh Xéo, Vietnamese Pancake made from rice flour that was crispy and folded like a taco.  It was stuffed with lots of vegetables, pork and shrimp and it was delicious.  We all enjoyed our meal and the ambience of the restaurant.  I wish the owners of the building would take better care of it but that is for another post.



OK.  I know. Not a restaurant. But we went there last Thursday night for Mulberry Pizza and Athletic Brewing Company Beer.  Everyone knows Mulberry Pizza has delicious food.  I tried the Italian Job Pizza for the first time and it was tasty; sweet AND savory with lemon creme and prosciutto and carmelized onions. Everyone should try it once.  If you don’t it would be like driving to Pepe’s in  New Haven and never trying the Clam Pizza.  You’ll never know what you are missing.

Athletic Brewing Company brews craft non-alcoholic beer.  I tried the Autumn Brown Ale.  Very good!  It’s a unique and courageous concept to brew non-alcoholic craft beer.  They are located in Stratford but you can find the beer on shelves at quite a few Manchester package stores or have some with pizza at Pepe’s on Middle Turnpike and maybe soon at Mulberry St. Pizza.

Both owners were interviewed after we had a chance to sample their products and it was broadcast live on Facebook. It was helpful to hear how each entrepreneur got started and the triumphs and pitfalls of owning your own business.  Every month Work_Space hosts an event like this.

Angry Egg


After voting on Tuesday we went down to the Angry Egg for breakfast.  I like to try different foods but my husband is more restrained in his selections preferring a few favorites.  I tried a menu item called “The Jose” which was eggs (poached for me) with meat (bacon for me) and fried plantains and biscuit.  It was very good but I’m not sure if the biscuit would be considered a traditional Spanish food.

Army Navy Club Pancake Breakfast

fullsizeoutput_2049Again not a restaurant.  But, today is Veteran’s Day and we went there for breakfast with my mother, stepfather and mother-in-law.  My stepfather, Vic is a veteran of World War II.  On June 13, 1944 at the age of 19 he landed on Utah Beach during the 10 day Invasion of Normandy.  He was shot in the head but survived and still has shrapnel in his skull which occasionally sets off a metal detector at the airport.  The guest of honor at the breakfast was another WWII vet who is 104 years old.  (I will update this post with his name soon.)

Thanks for you service, vets.

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Manchester Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast


October 31, 2018

The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) is located in a Cheney Mansion built by Frank Cheney, Manchester’s first fire chief.  It’s situated at 20 Hartford Rd. close to Main St.

Early Wednesday morning the chamber, in partnership with AT&T, hosted a breakfast for people running for office.  After eating breakfast provided by AT&T at the Shoppes at Buckland Hills and some time to wander around meeting people, April DiFalco, President of the GMCC asked everyone to sit down.  The pre-election forum was set up with a panel of candidates facing the audience and a moderator, John Emra from AT&T.

The panelists seated from left to right were:

  • Mark Tweedie (R), CT Senate District 4
  • Thomas Tierney (R), CT House District 12
  • Jennifer Fiereck (R), CT House District 13
  • Jason Rojas (D), CT House District 9
  • Geoff Luxenberg (D), CT House District 12
  • Jason Doucette (D), CT House District 13
  • Jeff Curry (D), CT House District 11
  • Steve Cassano (D), CT Senate District 4
  • Jennifer Nye (R), US House District 1
  • Jeff Russell (G), US Senate
  • John Larson (D), US House District 1

Each candidate had two minutes to introduce themselves. I took brief notes on the introductions that I will share here:

  • John Larson is an incumbent U.S. Congressman who talked about being proud to be involved in a bi-partisan technology take-off that helped Sikorsky, Pratt & Whitney and Electric Boat in the state of CT.  Also, he had a plan to fix and fund social security and talked about how it is unfair to women.
  • Jeff Russell is the green party candidate.  He isn’t worried about the U.S. running out of money because the U.S. is the source of money.  Our debt is not actually a debt but represents the money supply.  He is for universal health care.
  • Jennifer Nye’s experience in office included a position on the Manchester Board of Directors.   Running against John Larson to be a representative in the U.S. Congress  she would support strong borders, legal immigration and term limits.
  • Steve Cassano previously had served as deputy mayor and then mayor of Manchester.  He is an incumbent running for office for the last time and is running against Mark Tweedie.  He wants to fill manufacturing jobs at Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and Electric Boat by providing training.  He doesn’t think everyone needs to go to college and that junior high school is the place to begin to let students know about all of the career options.
  • Jeff Curry is an incumbent who is running unopposed.  His district includes the Buckland Hills area and East Hartford.  He is concerned about crumbling foundations and as a state rep has been involved in a committee that will provide funding to homeowners whose foundations are deteriorating from pyrrhotite.  There will be a rollout of funds which will be available in December to homeowners.  He wants to improve the predictability of education funding so schools are not scrambling at the last minute or during the school year to fund teaching positions.  He has championed LGBTQ rights.
  • Jason Doucette is an attorney and small business owner running against Jennifer Fiereck.  He started his own law practice and works with many small business owners.
  • Geoff Luxenberg recognized local politicians Jay Moran, mayor of Manchester and Darryl Thames, Board of Education member who were in attendance in the audience.  He also defended Chris Murphy who he felt had been unfairly attacked by Jennifer Nye because he has enrolled his children in school in D.C.  Geoff defended Mr. Murphy’s decision to be involved in raising his family by moving them closer to where he spends most of his work days.  Jennifer had questioned if Chris Murphy  is still considered a CT resident.
  • Jason Rojas is running for a 6th term.  He serves as co-chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and is a member of the Planning and Development Committee and works closely with the Appropriations Committee.  There is much work to do but behind closed doors there is a bi-partisan effort to get things done for CT.
  • Jennifer Fiereck is a political outsider who wants to make the world better for her children.  She is a small business owner who supports term limits and doesn’t want additional burdens on the wealthy and big business.
  • Tom Tierney is running as an unaffiliated candidate but has been supported by the Republicans.
  • Mark Tweedie runs a dental lab that makes crowns and bridges.  He believes business is the answer to our budget problems and we need less red tape which slows growth.

After each person spoke the candidates were asked questions; first by the moderator and then by the audience.  The initial questions were on transportation and the crumbling infrastructure and how to fund both.  John Larson is concerned that infrastructure funding has not increased for 8 years.  He is an advocate for using federal funds to build two tunnels through Hartford to re-connect the city divided by I-84 and gain access to the riverfront cut off by I-91.  Jennifer Nye does not want a tunnel but would go through the northend of Hartford.

Jason Doucette would fund infrastructure improvements by requiring tolls for out of state traffic.  Steve Cassano supports a mix of spending.  Mark Tweedie thought the cost of the tolls would be passed on to the consumer.  Jeff Russell questioned if tolls were a violation of the commerce clause of the constitution.

Additional questions were asked about what has been done in the past year to train people to fill the 35,000 job vacancies at Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and Electric Boat.  Steve Cassano stated that a program was started in Jr. High Schools to get students interested in those careers and Jason Rojas indicated that money was re-allocated to workforce programs.

The final question was asked by Darryl Thames of the Manchester Board of Education.  He mentioned that state funding for schools has diminished and requested that the candidates share their views of funding public education.  Jeff Russell addressed this question by speaking strongly about the need for better leadership from the U.S. Department of Education.  We need someone who supports students by getting rid of these ludicrous tests that are turning public education into child abuse.  Geoff Luxenberg also spoke up in support of more funding for the public school system.

At that point we ran out of time.  I went back later to speak to April DiFranco and get pictures of the building.  Since Election Day is tomorrow I felt that sharing this information as soon as I could was important so please excuse any errors and please vote tomorrow.