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First Selectman's Column from November 2023

October 26, 2023
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First Selectman's Column from November 2023

I hope you are all enjoying the beauty of Autumn in Woodbridge!

I am proud to announce that the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States (GFOA) has once again awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to the Town of Woodbridge for its annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022.  The report has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report.

The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.  Thank you to our Director of Finance Anthony Genovese, our Department of Finance staff, and the Boards of Finance and Selectmen for once again achieving this most prestigious award.

On September 30th, the Town’s Ad Hoc Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (DEI) hosted “Woodbridge Like Me Day,” a celebration of the people, cultural, and civic organizations that make Woodbridge the wonderful place that it is.  I thank the DEI Committee for creating this event, and for providing a forum for Woodbridge residents to come together and learn more about our town and neighbors.  The event was delightful and well attended despite the rainy day!  Many thanks also to DEI Committee Co-Chairs Tahera Parvez and Ellen Scalettar for all their efforts, and special kudos to Jennifer Sullivan, Assistant Library Director, for her help coordinating the event.

Despite the very rainy conditions, the Recreation Department’s Annual Road Race was well-attended, with 83 of the 96 runners who signed up for the event, running the course, (including my daughter-in-law).  This annual event supports The Resident Assistance Fund coordinated by Human Services and has benefited residents for twenty years.  Congratulations to the Recreation Department for that well organized community event!

The dedication and naming ceremony for The Karen A. Lombardi Woodbridge Regional Animal Shelter was held last week.  It was a lovely event honoring the contribution of a remarkable friend to our community and a true friend of all creatures, great and small.  Donations are always welcome to the work that the One Big Dog charitable organization contributes to this remarkable asset to our community.

Thank you to the Human Services Department, which has already offered four vaccine clinics this season, providing over 250 vaccines to Woodbridge residents and Town employees.  Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus infection rate has been steadily rising again this fall.  It is essential that our residents get vaccinated, especially those who are most vulnerable.  The Human Services Department will host one more vaccine clinic on October 30th in the Center Building gymnasium.  Please call the Human Services Department (203-389-3429) for further information or to make an appointment.

I am pleased to report that Governor Lamont has approved this year’s list of municipalities receiving state grants for local projects.  The grants are provided through the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP).  This year we applied for and were granted a $500,000 grant for the completion of the Fire Department’s Training and Storage Facility.  This will provide adequate storage for all apparatus and Fire Department response items currently being stored in the Old Firehouse as well as creating a proper training facility to enhance public safety.  It is very important to have all equipment necessary to the volunteers on one side of Center Road.  The relocation of fire equipment from the old firehouse synergizes nicely with the project to transform the Old Firehouse into a valuable Community and Cultural center for use by all Woodbridge residents.

Each year, the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Association hosts the Truck or Treat event on Halloween (October 31st) at the Firehouse from 5 pm to 8 pm.  It is a fun, safe way for families to enjoy this festive holiday.  We look forward to this wonderful evening and thank all the volunteers for their efforts on behalf of every Woodbridge resident!

I am pleased to announce that at the October 11th Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting, the Board approved an increase in the tax abatement for qualifying volunteer fire fighters.  The increase is commensurate with state guidelines and follows the recommendations of the Board of Fire Commissioners and the Woodbridge Ordinance Committee.  This adjustment serves to attract and retain volunteers who are then able to protect our Town.

At the October 11th Board of Selectmen meeting, the Board also approved a construction bid and funding for the long-awaited renovation and repair of the Police Department’s Communications Center (Dispatch Center).  The Communications Center will be temporarily relocated within the Police Department during the renovation.

With the fall weather, many more residents and visitors are taking advantage of our beautiful walking trails.  Woodbridge has an Ordinance requiring dogs to be leashed while on Town trails ensuring a pleasant and safe experience for all.  This ordinance is enforceable with a penalty of $100.00 for the first offence and $200.00 each for future offences.

The bi-annual DEA Drug Take-Back Day will be held on Saturday, October 28th from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Police Department entrance.  This is a safe, convenient, and responsible way to dispose of prescription drugs.  It should be noted that the Woodbridge Police Department does offer 24-hour access to safe drug disposal year-round.

The Town of Woodbridge will present Fair and Affordable Housing Policies on October 30 at 6:30 pm at the JCC.  This program is offered by the South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG) to all members of Woodbridge’s commissions, committees, and town residents as well as all Land Use Officials.

I am pleased to share the Good News from our School Districts!

In recent Niche data, Amity High School scored an A in academics (only eight schools, seven of them from Fairfield County, scored a higher grade of A+).  Amity students continue to excel in state and nationwide competitions.  The Amity Math Team placed 1st (Large School Division) in the Connecticut State Association of Mathematics Leagues competition, beating long-time winner and rival Greenwich High School.  Amity’s student newspaper, The Trident, was selected for the 1st place award for schools of between 1,000-1,700 students in the American Scholastic Press Association’s annual student newspaper competition.  This is the second year in a row that The Trident was the 1st place winner.  Additionally, 27 out of 315 (nearly 9%) of seniors were recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Competition as Semi-Finalists or Commended Scholars!

We are so pleased to share that Beecher Road School has been selected as an Apple Distinguished School for 2023–2026, a three-year designation and a very high world-wide honor.  BRS staff are being recognized for innovation using Apple technology to inspire, imagine, and impact teaching and learning.  This was a year-long, extensive application process for many folks, and a huge accomplishment for our district.  This is one more recognition of the amazing creativity our staff and students display and how powerful we can be when we work together.

Beecher Road students in grades 3-6 participate in several statewide accountability assessments each spring, and the spring 2023 data was released at the very end of August.  BRS students scored first in our District Reference Group B (DRG B) in the areas of language arts and mathematics.  This is amazing!  Our district is extremely proud of the achievement and growth exhibited by our learners, and as a very proud Superintendent, I want to extend my appreciation and to recognize the planning, creativity, relationship building, and hard work of each teacher and para-educator who come to this building every day on behalf of our learners, as well as to recognize every employee in this district who works together to help all learners grow and succeed. Everyone matters.

The Municipal Election will be held on Tuesday, November 7th.  In-person voting is at the Center Gymnasium from 6 am to 8 pm.  Absentee ballot applications are available and may be obtained from the Town Clerk’s office and are also available on the Town website.  Absentee ballots are available now and may be completed by mail or in-person at the Town Clerk’s office.  Contact the Town Clerk’s office at 203-389-3424 for further information or assistance.

I have just one more reminder for your calendars.  Please do not forget that Veteran’s Day will be commemorated on Friday, November 10 in the Center Building gymnasium at 11 am.  This is always a beautiful event.  I hope you will all take time out to attend, and honor our veterans.

As always, my door remains open to you.  If you need to reach me, please call 203-389-3401 or email me at bheller@woodbridgect.org to chat or ask for an appointment.

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

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