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First Selectman's Column from July 2023

June 22, 2023
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First Selectman's Column from July 2023

As Independence Day approaches, we reflect on the concepts of freedom, democracy, unity, and patriotism.  We should all consider not just our own freedoms, but also how we can embrace, empower, and protect the liberties of others.  In the words of Nelson Mandela, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”.  I hope you all have a safe and lovely holiday.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Vietnam.  Woodbridge will hold an event to honor our residents who served in the military during the Vietnam era.  The ceremony is scheduled for July 17, 2023, at 5:00 pm at The Woodbridge Center.  The event is co-hosted by Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz and the Town.  Woodbridge residents who are Vietnam veterans will receive invitations this week.

After many years of hoping and planning, The Woodbridge Center held its long-awaited grand opening on Wednesday, June 21st with a ribbon cutting ceremony.  As you might remember, The Center received a Small-Town Economic Assistance Program grant or STEAP Grant, as well as Bond Commission funds and Federal ARPA funds.  We are very grateful for all the work that has gone into making this a beautiful, modern, and welcoming center for our residents 55 and older.  This highly anticipated and noteworthy event was well attended by many of the staff and volunteers who worked toward this renovation for over a dozen years as well as Woodbridge’s state delegation who helped provide funding for the project.

On June 12th the Town Building Committee for Beecher Road School Capital Projects recommended awarding Silver Petrucelli & Associates (SP+A) a contract for architectural and engineering services.  At the June 14th Board of Selectmen meeting, the Board voted unanimously to enter into a contract with SP+A for architectural services for roof replacement, drainage, and site improvements at Beecher Road School.  Hiring an architectural firm advances and accelerates this important project.

Also, at the recent Board of Selectmen meeting the Board unanimously approved a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Former Country Club of Woodbridge property.  The purpose of this RFP is to receive competitive proposals from qualified consultants to create a comprehensive plan to provide detailed recommendations regarding the use of the former Country Club of Woodbridge.

On another exciting front, the Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee has met, set its membership, and completed the following charge:  The Sustainability Ad Hoc Committee is advisory to the Board of Selectmen, charged with guiding Town Boards, Commissions, and Departments to further advance the principles of sustainability, equity, and environmental stewardship within and beyond our community while fostering community support and with development of a sustainability plan and management of initiatives to achieve long term sustainability goals for the community, with the goal of becoming a full standing commission by ordinance.

In addition to the folks that were appointed last month, the membership will also include:  Barbara Jean Ahern, Alyssa Anderson, Lana Marcucio, and Diana McCarthy-Bercury.  With renewed interest in certification, we will have potential for both state and federal grant dollars to come to Woodbridge, as well as Community Matching Funds.  Thank you to all the new members, and special thanks to co-chairs Hillary Drumm and Tom Kenefick for their leadership in this wonderful, renewed endeavor.

This past month seemed to be filled with events for children.  On May 26th, approximately 100 Beecher Road School 3rd graders, along with their teachers Aimee Meecham, John Hutchinson, Visna Ngov, Nina Triplett, and Mary Vincentorio, came to tour Town Hall to learn about the structure and function of local government as part of the social studies curriculum.  They heard from staff from the Tax Collector’s office, the Assessor’s office, and our Town Clerk’s.  I also spoke with them about what we do at Town Hall.  They then visited the Police Department, Library, and the Fire House.

I spoke at the Woodbridge Child Care Center graduation, and it was an adorable event with twelve four-year-olds in caps and gowns.  Now on to kindergarten for those little ones!  I also addressed the Beecher Road School 6th grade graduates at their lovely ceremony at the school.

I presented a citation on behalf of the residents of the Town of Woodbridge, and the Board of Selectmen, to the inaugural Ms. President US Woodbridge winner.  Ms. President US is a girls’ civic leadership program which strives to motivate girls to serve in local leadership positions.  There are currently 11 Connecticut Towns participating within this non-profit organization.

Woodbridge’s first Ms. President US is Nita Sudhir who is a 5th grade student at Beecher Road School and the daughter of Sudhir Karunakaran and Sumithra Sudhir.  Nita’s campaign platform highlighted discouraging litter.  To quote the press release, “Nita Sudhir bravely ran independently.  She was excited to develop leadership skills and help her town.”  We are all so very proud of her.

Additionally, I presented a Woodbridge citation to Bethany resident Pua Ford who has been the Coordinator of the Woodbridge Government Access TV since 2003 and is retiring this month.  Pua has kept us accessible and transparent to all of Woodbridge.  As she steps down from 20 years of service to the Town, we want to thank her for everything she has done for Woodbridge.

This is an opinion not necessarily endorsed by the Woodbridge Town News.

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