We need to enhance Connecticut’s home care infrastructure now so that we can enable the greatest generation to age-in-place.
Hartford – Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released the following statement in response to a press conference held by Governor Dannel P. Malloy today.
“This is Governor Malloy’s third press conference in a row where he has absolutely nothing helpful to say. This is an irrelevant leader trying to make himself relevant. Instead of being open to a truly bipartisan budget that leaders have worked on day after day together as equals, he continues to make himself an impediment. Governor Malloy has already said that if the state doesn’t adopt a budget, businesses will leave, employers won’t come here, and job losses will grow even more than they already have. If that’s true the governor should be as supportive as possible of lawmakers’ efforts to pass this budget. Instead he appears comfortable sitting on the sidelines lobbing insults and getting nothing done.”
Article as it appeared in The Day
The dump truck involved in Wednesday’s double-fatal crash on a notorious stretch of Interstate 95 was cited less than two months ago for a brake-related violation, federal records show.
According to a state police report, the crash killed two 71-year-old women at 1:55 p.m. near Exit 71. It involved a tractor-trailer, a 2003 Ford Mustang and the dump truck, which is owned by Country Gardens of Bristol.
Police said the tractor-trailer, operated by 58-year-old Francis R. Cosenza of East Haven, was stopped in the right lane for traffic just prior to the wreck. Guilford resident Eleanor A. McCarthy, in her Mustang, was stopped in the right lane behind the tractor-trailer.
That’s when dump truck driver Gregory Kuzma, 47, of Bristol began approaching the car, according to the report. Marks in the pavement indicate Kuzma was braking heavily, but police said he was unable to stop before colliding with the back of the Mustang.
The impact sent the Mustang spinning into the tractor-trailer, at which point it burst into flames. Police said McCarthy and her passenger, Iris B. Cooper of Ambler, Pa., were fatally injured in the collision.
Police have not charged anyone in the crash, which remains under investigation.
State accident data shows the stretch of highway between Exit 71 and the split with I-395 has had the highest number of accidents of any stretch east of the Connecticut River. On Thursday, local elected officials renewed their calls for speed control measures and a stronger state police presence.
“This is a significant problem that the state of Connecticut needs to fix,” East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson said. “How many more people have to die before we take this issue seriously? How many more families are going to lose loved ones?”
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Country Gardens of Bristol, which specializes in commercial landscaping and irrigation installation, owns six vehicles and employs three drivers. Its six inspections over the past two years have yielded 12 violations, none of which was deemed “critical” by the safety administration.
Officials most recently inspected the truck involved in Wednesday’s crash on Aug. 25. At the time, officials cited the truck for violating Section 393.43 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The section outlines various requirements for trucks that tow other vehicles. Its goal is to ensure a driver can stop his or her own vehicle as well as the one that’s being towed in the event of an emergency.
The Country Gardens truck on Wednesday was towing an excavator.
FMCSA officials couldn’t be reached to clarify what specifically led to the August citation. A man who answered the phone number listed for Country Gardens said the company wasn’t interested in commenting.
It couldn’t be determined whether the issue that prompted the August violation was corrected prior to Wednesday’s crash or played a role in the accident.
Barriers, high-speed shoulders installed
Wednesday marked the eighth time since 2015 that at least one person has died in a crash between Exits 70 and 76, which span from Old Lyme to East Lyme. The stretch of road, which makes up about 5 percent of Interstate 95 in Connecticut, has accounted for more than 17 percent of its fatal wrecks over the past almost two years.
Other such hotspots exist in the state, and some, such as the portion that runs through Bridgeport, are considerably more fatal. Still, stakeholders have taken note of the Old Lyme-East Lyme stretch’s propensity for crashes.
The state Department of Transportation, for example, recently wrapped up a nearly two-year project in which workers installed a 4-mile-long concrete median barrier in the area. Crews also installed right shoulder concrete barriers, repaired the Exit 71 south on- and off-ramps, added high-speed shoulders and paved the whole stretch.
In announcing a study to investigate safety improvements to I-95, DOT officials last year identified the section from the Raymond E. Baldwin Bridge to the Gold Star Memorial Bridge as eastern Connecticut’s biggest problem spot. An update on the status of the study, which could cost up to $500,000, wasn’t immediately available Thursday.
DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick cautioned against placing blame on the roadway.
“It is disturbing that this appears to be a typical and far too common case of driver error with tragic results,” Nursick said. “Exactly what is it going to take to get people to focus on driving safely and responsibly?”
He urged those having conversations about road safety not to forget about the critical role drivers play. A pristine roadway, after all, means nothing if drivers aren’t paying attention.
“Every facet of safe infrastructure is predicated first and foremost on drivers being attentive and responsible,” he said.
Warning signs called for
Politicians representing East Lyme and Old Lyme have rebuked Nursick for similar comments in the past.
On Thursday, Nickerson, the East Lyme first selectman, reiterated his belief that the state should significantly upgrade the highway system in the area. He said it should try to use federal money to do so.
But Nickerson also noted many drivers aren’t obeying the speed limit, using turn signals, staying off their cell phones or driving at safe distances apart.
To help mitigate that, he said the state should implement speed control measures, such as speed cameras in the stretch between the Baldwin Bridge and the Gold Star Bridge.
Nickerson acknowledged that state police are understaffed but said law enforcement should be a constant presence on the highway.
Nickerson said he additionally has been asking for warning signs along the dangerous stretch of road that remind drivers to be hyper-aware of their surroundings and not to make the errors mentioned above.
Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder said accidents like Wednesday’s are tragic and she also is concerned about her first responders and how these types of incidents wear on them.
“Of course, it’s heartbreaking,” she said. “We all feel it very deeply when these kind of things happen. We’ve just seen it far too often.”
Reemsnyder recommended more police patrols and speed reduction initiatives.
Reemsnyder said she’s not a traffic engineer, so while there’s a lot of talk about widening I-95, she’s not sure whether it would address the issue or just add more traffic to the road.
State Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, said: “Our hearts go out to the families of these victims.”
He said he and Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Lyme, have been in contact with the DOT over the past year or so and have written letters asking for speed reduction on the highway, and they are renewing those calls. He said at the least, the state should widen the shoulder area and place warning signs on the bridge that the road will go from four lanes down to two lanes.
Carney contacted the DOT to visit the area and revisit the issue. He said he is in discussions with DOT and is looking into any possible safety measures, including a stepped-up police presence, potential opportunities to enlarge break-down lanes, and additional signage to notify drivers, for example, if there is traffic up ahead or when four lanes merge into two.
He said these types of accidents are happening too often on this stretch of road.
“Something’s got to give this time,” Carney added. “It clogs up Old Lyme’s roads and it leads to fatal accidents. What happened yesterday was terrible.”
WFSB 3 Connecticut
More information was released regarding a deadly crash that happened on I-95 north in Old Lyme on Wednesday afternoon.
Two people were killed in the three-car crash, and the highway was shut down for several hours, finally reopening around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The two people who died were identified as 71-year-old Guilford resident Eleanor McCarthy and 72-year-old Ambler, Pa resident Iris Cooper.
During rush hour, that stretch of I-95 gets very busy, but some state leaders say Wednesday’s crash is more evidence that the area is dangerous for drivers all the time, and something needs to be done to deal with the problem.
“It’s typical. I went over the bridge and just saw smoke and I said that’s it and I saw every backed up,” said Peter Mountzoures, whose contracting business is located off exit 71.
He said he’s sad about the crash but isn’t shocked.
“It’s just uncanny it’s weird the way accidents happen there,” Mountzoures said.
According to the UConn crash repository, there have been four deadly wrecks and 62 collisions that caused injuries in the area near exits 70 and 71 between January of 2015 and this past August.
That’s nearly one every two weeks.
“It seems so needless and so sad and your heart goes out to all of the families that are involved. We just need to find a better way,” said Republican Senator Paul Formica, who represents Old Lyme.
He said something needs to change. He plans to ask the Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit here and widen the shoulder.
“I think the real answer given the difficulty of obtaining property on that stretch is just to try to increase the shoulder, and give those travelers somewhere to go should something unexpected happen in front of them,” Formica said.
He added that a similar project made Route 6 safer.
He understands money is tight but feels like the state needs to step up to make sure fewer families are impacted by crashes like Wednesdays.
“Sometimes we have to do what we have to do to protect the safety of the people of Connecticut,” Formica said, adding that he hopes to meet with the Department of Transportation officials soon.
MERIDEN — City leaders joined community members and state officials in the lofty, sun-bathed foyer of the newly renovated Platt High School Thursday to cut the ceremonial ribbon on one of the city’s largest construction endeavors to date.
“(The students) deserve the best and Meriden you have given them the best,” said Superintendent of Schools Mark Benigni, Platt High School Class of 1989. “The new Orville H. Platt High School is a remarkable community asset and another thing Meriden can and should be proud of.”
The $111.8 million renovation project transformed the school into a sleek and modern education facility, with a new gym, administrative offices and elegant entrance to the building. The city contracted O&G Industries Inc. for the project, which was done throughout the school year, forcing students to maneuver around work crews and closed hallways.
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Platt Principal Robert Montemurro, who graduated from the school in 1977, praised the teachers for continuing to strive for excellence amid the challenges of construction.
“Over the past four years as a team they have brought a new learning environment to life in community, creativity, innovation and student-centered learning without missing a beat while continuing the daily practice of providing the highest quality of teaching in at times very trying conditions,” Montemurro said. “On behalf of the Platt High School community, please accept our greatest appreciation for this beautiful new school.”
The Class of 2018 were freshman when construction began, noted Board of Education President and 1987 Platt High School graduate Mark Hughes.
“This month becomes the first month of a four year high school experience that is not under construction and they will be the first class to graduate in the new and state of the art Orville H. Platt High School,” Hughes said.
City leaders thanked state officials for helping to secure funds for the project, including former House Speaker Chris Donovan, in addition to the School Building Committee, City Council, Board of Education, contractors and engineers.
Those in attendance at the ceremony included Meriden state Reps. Emil “Buddy” Altobello, Jr., Catherine Abercrombie and Hilda Santiago, State Sen. Leonard Suzio and City Councilors Brian Daniels and Dan Brunet.
“The Platt High School construction project is the single largest construction project in the history of Meriden,” Daniels said. “It came in on time and under budget.”
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Seniors from Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Derby, Hamden, Naugatuck and Woodbridge were able to get flu shots and access to a host of services during our Oct. 18 Senior Health & Wellness Fair in Ansonia.
Thank you to all for attending, and we’re looking forward to next year’s fair!
By: Senator John A. Kissel
Did you know there are more than 322,000 Connecticut households that cannot afford to pay their energy bills? Starting in 1977, Operation Fuel has provided more than $48 million in energy assistance to over 154,000 households throughout Connecticut.
Operation Fuel provides a one-time grant of up to $500 to assist families with their energy bills. This great organization is energy blind which means they assist with all types of energy including oil, electric, natural gas, kerosene, wood, propane, pellets and other energy sources. Residents who apply for the grant can use it to prevent a shutoff or restore utility service to their home.
Currently Operation Fuel serves households whose income does not exceed 60 percent of the State Median Income Guidelines. See the chart below for Income Eligibility Guidelines. For more information on how to apply for this assistance program call 860-243-2345.
|Household Size||Maximum Yearly Income|
The good news is that there is an easy way to help our community members who are in need of assistance. One way to help is through the Add-A-Dollar Program. Utility customers can add a dollar when they pay their monthly utility bill by check or online. Residents who wish to donate more than one dollar or want to contribute automatically each month should contact their utility company.
By adding just one dollar to your monthly utility bill, you can help to make a difference for families and individuals who are struggling to put their heat and electricity on here in North-Central Connecticut.
The great part is that Operation Fuel uses 100 percent of the donations made to the Add-A-Dollar Program strictly for energy assistance, so you know your dollar is being put to good use. As the weather continues to get colder let’s lend a helping hand to our neighbors in need.
HARTFORD, Conn. – The Radiological Society of Connecticut has honored State Senator Heather Somers (R-Groton) for her advocacy for patients and important legislation that will encourage women to have life-saving breast cancer screenings.
The group gave Somers their “Patient Hero” award at their recent semi-annual meeting in New Haven.
Senator Somers was a strong supporter of Senate Bill 833, An Act Redefining Mammogram and Limiting Cost-Sharing for Mammograms, Breast Ultrasounds and Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Breasts. The bill updates the definition of mammography to include Tomosynthesis, a 3D version of the test that is finding small cancers at a higher rate. The bill would enable women to have their annual breast exam using Tomosynthesis without having to pay a deductible or co-pay.
“This legislation is critical for our ability to make sure that patients continue to have access to these needed mammography tests,” said Alan Kaye, president of the organization. “We appreciate Sen. Somers’ leadership in many areas of health care policy.”
SB 833 would increase the insurance coverage of Breast Tomosynthesis which has been shown to reduce by 40 percent patient callbacks for an additional test due to the uncertainty of images.
Senator Somers serves as Senate Co-Chair of the Public Health Committee.
Somers and other legislators plan on pursuing the bill in the 2018 session. The 2017 session ended in June with the bill pending in the State Senate.
The award presentation was made on October 18.
State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) and advocates discuss the importance of aging-in-place initiatives at the Shelton Senior Center, Thursday, October 19th.
HARTFORD, Conn. – Today State Senator and Co-Chairman of the Aging Committee, Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) and advocates for seniorsreleased the following statements regarding Governor Malloy’s latest budget proposal and the negative impact it will have on seniors and their caregivers.
“During my time in the State Senate I have witnessed this administration continually disregard the needs of our seniors and their caregivers, and the high costs associated with long-term care for the elderly,” said Sen. Kelly. “In Connecticut seniors make up 14 percent of the state’s population and the state allocates roughly 10 percent of the annual state budget for long-term care for seniors. By 2032 the number of our seniors is expected to increase by nearly 69 percent, making Connecticut seniors one quarter of the total population. If we continue to spend in the same way, without establishing a more cost-effective path forward, the state will be spending roughly $5 billion on nursing home care by 2032. But instead of pursing cost-effective ways to address our aging population the governor’s proposal erodes many essential community based programs, programs that make it affordable for families to meet the high expenses of staying at home –which is actually more cost-effective for the state and where a majority of seniors wish to remain. The fact that the governor refuses to acknowledge the importance of at home care and the value of caregivers to seniors is striking. We need to enhance Connecticut’s home care infrastructure now so that we can enable the greatest generation to age-in-place and to achieve the savings that are so necessary given our budget problems. The steps, the actions and the cuts that the governor is taking not only puts seniors at risk today, but it is going to fiscally ruin the state tomorrow; his vision is unaffordable, his vision is short-sighted, his vision is flawed. A state budget is meant to set priorities and reflect what the core values of Connecticut should be, and it is shameful that the governor refuses to make seniors and their caregivers a priority.”
These cuts often hurt seniors with the least financial ability to pay for the services they need, including:
“Over the past few years, seniors have faced tens of millions of dollars in cuts to home care services, senior nutrition and additional core services; new co-pays and fees; and a more than 25 percent reduction in Alzheimer’s respite,” said Nora Duncan, state director of AARP Connecticut. “These cuts often hit the same seniors – ones with the least financial ability to pay – multiple times and threatens their ability to age with dignity at home.”
The governor’s latest budget has proposed even deeper cuts to aging-in-place initiatives here in Connecticut:
“Healthcare at home has gained significant importance in the CT State budget debate as home-based care is patient-preferred, highly cost-effective, and a proven savings vehicle for state taxpayers. State data from the Department of Social Services indicates that home and community providers have saved the state budget more than $1-Billion between 2006 and 2016 by transitioning Medicaid clients from nursing homes and hospitals to home-based care through the Money Follows the Person (MFP) and other person-centered Medicaid initiatives. Our Medicaid system is fragile. Home based providers have not received a reimbursement rate increase in 10 years and are required to do more with less. Providers are opting out of the Medicaid program due to intense regulatory burdens. Access to home-based care for our most fragile state Medicaid beneficiaries and seniors is becoming a challenge. Jeopardizing a system that is working, filling a vital need, and creating significant cost savings to the State budget is not an option,” said CEO, CT Association for Healthcare at Home, Deborah Hoyt.
“The Southwestern Agency on Aging hopes that strong consideration will be given to the importance of keeping older adults healthy and in their own homes. Programs like the Connecticut Home Care Program and Medicare Savings Program help the State avoid millions of dollars in nursing facility expense by providing low cost, in-home alternatives to nursing home care. Dismantling the progress and the savings achieved by these programs will result in poor health outcomes for older adults and even greater State expenditures for institutional Medicaid coverage,” said Executive Director of the Southwestern CT Agency on Aging, Marie Allen.
“CTNAELA and our attorneys work diligently to benefit Connecticut’s Seniors, Disabled, Veterans, and their families. We continue to work with, and support Sen. Kelly to preserve our clients’ rights, particularly in light of the current State budget issues. Our efforts aim to allow our clients the support to remain in the community at a fraction of what it would otherwise cost the State to institutionalize them. We look forward to working with Sen. Kelly and the administration to benefit Connecticut’s Seniors, and reduce the impact programs may have on the State budget,” said President of CTNAELA, Amy Orlando.