To Protect and Serve

Stratford Adds New Recruits to Police Department

The Stratford Police Department welcomes five new officers this week: Sworn in to serve by Town Clerk Susan M. Pawluk are Officer Juan Ingles, Officer Pablo Conde, Officer Mark Pavelus, Officer Ryan Kardamis, and Officer Danielle Gordon.  Officer Ingles is a veteran of the New Haven Police Department. The other recruits will be attending the police academy starting April 15th.  Welcome to Stratford to all of the recruits, we look forward to your service.

Know Your Town: Councilmember Spotlight

Third District Councilman Paul Tavaras

Stratford Crier’s mission is to inform and update Stratford residents on various categories of interest, community events, pertinent information, and/or input into specific tasks or project. We would like to highlight the work, dedication and projects of our elected officials, beginning with town council members. Stratford Crier is posing the following questions to each of these elected officials to find out more about what inspires them in this position and what they hope to accomplish in their term.

1. What do you see as the needs of your district at the present?
Most problems of my constituents are blight, the reckless speeding through the streets, and tree problems causing damage to plumbing and property. There also needs to be tax relief after this administration had voted last year in targeting my district by raising taxes…again.

2. What is your vision for your district’s future?
I would like another opportunity at establishing a Splash Playground for the kids here in the South End that was defunded by this administration, and those funds (which were part federally funded) and added elsewhere for projects already budgeted. I also envision having the South End Community Center expanded to provide more after-school activities for our young people.

3. What is your vision for the town?
Stratford is becoming more diverse, which is certainly welcoming. I’d like to continue to promote functions and activities that bring us all together, especially as we continue to navigate around this pandemic. There is also more of a need for economic development to alleviate the tax burden on all of us.

4. What is your vision of collaboration between the town administration and residents to help make Stratford a stronger community? How do you see town residents’ roles and participation?
I am happy to see that, due to the town’s diversity, collaboration with the residents is strong when it comes to celebrating ethnic and cultural activities. It’s always good to see Stratfordites engaging and sharing, and learning about each other; it fosters understanding, respect, participation and good times! I would like to see Town Hall reflect the demographics of our town though.

I want to ensure that vaccinations, for those who desire it, are available—especially for our seniors and those with problems ambulating. Safety, health, food and shelter are foremost in ensuring that my district remains strong.

Reach out to Third District Councilman Paul Tavaras at ptavaras@townofstratford.com or 203-673-6730.

VAX Facts

The state is releasing information about how many individuals are vaccinated in all Connecticut communities. As of March 18th, 2021, 12,211 or 23.5% of the town’s population had been vaccinated with a first dose. . As of Friday, March 19, vaccine scheduling is open to residents 45 years of age and older.

Stratford clinics have dispensed 7,130 vaccines to date. It’s important to keep in mind that we are part of a larger regional and statewide vaccination network and effort. Stratford does not vaccinate ONLY Stratford residents – many of residents and first responders have been vaccinated at locations outside Stratford, and conversely, many from outside of Stratford have been vaccinated here. Many residents and first responders have been vaccinated at locations outside Stratford, and conversely, many from outside of Stratford have been vaccinated here.

The Stratford Health Department is partnering with Stratford EMS in order to bring COVID-19 vaccines to residents determined to be “homebound” and unable to safely access the vaccine clinics being offered by Stratford Health. This is being done under the Governor’s executive order 7HHH, and is being called “Operation Homeward Bound” by the Stratford Health and EMS team.

Stratford EMS is providing EMS personnel who have been qualified as “vaccinators” through the State Department of Public Health and partnering them with another “Healthcare Professionals” like a Registered Nurse, to make up “vaccine teams” to deliver COVID vaccine services to those individuals determined by Stratford Health Department as being “homebound.”

The CT Veterans Administration is currently vaccinating veterans of all ages. Upcoming COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics. Veterans (any age) must be enrolled for care with VA to receive the vaccine. Veterans can apply online at https://www.va.gov/health-care/how-to-apply/.

Friday, March 19 – Vaccine by appointment at the Newington campus, 555 Willard Avenue., 8am-4pm, Call 203-932-5711 ext. 567, 7784 or 7754 to make an appointment.

Saturday, March 20 – Walk-in clinic at the West Haven campus, Firm B, Bldg. 2, 2nd floor, 950 Campbell Avenue, 8am-4pm. Call 203-932-5711 ext. 5627, 7784 or 7754 to make an appointment.

March 18 and 19 – Walk-in clinic at the West Haven Annex, 200 Edison Road/Pez Blvd. in Orange. 1pm- 3:45pm.

Mask and physical distancing required. To maintain physical distancing, if possible, we’re asking patients not to bring anyone with them to the clinic.

Clinics will continue at Birdseye every Tuesday and Wednesday based on vaccine supply and eligibility. We are encouraging everyone to register online through the CT DPH portal at: https://dphsubmissions.ct.gov/OnlineVaccine.

Registering in the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) provides you with flexibility in securing an appointment at any area clinic, including at the Stratford Health Department.

The Stratford Health Department is opening up appointments based on the vaccine supply given to us by the state. Appointments will open up as soon as we get additional doses. Please continue to check in VAMS for availability. Vaccine clinics require an appointment (no walk-ins accepted) to be made in advance.

When viewing the directory of vaccine clinics, click on ‘More Details’ for specific information about how you can schedule an appointment at each location. Some locations offer online scheduling through their website or electronic health record, others allow scheduling by phone, and some locations can be booked through the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS).

Governor Lamont has announced an update to vaccine eligibility in an attempt to speed up distribution of COVID-19 vaccines: Individuals who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine in Connecticut include:

Healthcare personnel;
Medical first responders;
Residents and staff of long-term care facilities;
Residents and staff of select congregate settings; and
PreK-12 school staff and professional childcare providers.
Going forward, Connecticut’s rollout of the vaccine will proceed on the following
schedule:

March 19: Scheduling opens to all individuals age 45 to 54

April 5 (tentative): Scheduling opens to all individuals age 16 to 44
The state will work with providers and the Department of Developmental Services to accelerate access for the most medically high-risk individuals under 45 during the month of April.

Governor Ned Lamont announced significant planned changes to guidance associated with COVID-19 restrictions. Beginning Friday, March 19, all capacity limits will be eliminated for the following businesses, while face coverings, social distancing, and other cleaning and disinfecting protocols will continue to be required:

Restaurants (8-person table capacity and 11PM required closing time for dining rooms continues)
Retail
Libraries
Personal services
Indoor recreation (excludes theaters, which will continue to have a 50% capacity)
Gyms/fitness centers
Museums, aquariums, and zoos
Offices
Houses of worship

Gathering sizes will be revised to the following amounts:
Social and recreational gatherings at private residence – 25 indoors/100 outdoors
Social and recreational gatherings at commercial venues – 100 indoors/200 outdoors
All sports will be allowed to practice and compete, and all sports tournaments will be allowed, subject to Department of Public Health guidance Connecticut’s travel advisory will be modified from a requirement to recommended guidance

#PlayLikeAGirl: Women’s History Month

Groundbreaking Women Athletes On and Off Their Venue

Sources: Insider

Wilma Rudolph
African American sprinter Wilma Rudolph was the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympics. She overcame the loss of strength in her left leg and foot, caused by polio at five years old, to become the fasted woman in the world at the 1960 Olympics. She still holds the record for the 100 meters at 11.2 seconds and 200 meters at 22.9 seconds.

Rudolph gained international recognition during the 1960 Olympics because of worldwide television coverage and became an iconic figure for black and female athletes. During the peak of the civil rights movement, Rudolph was a trailblazer for the rights of African Americans and women. She broke the gender barrier of all-male events in track and field, and her legacy lives on today.

Billie Jean King
Former World No. 1 professional tennis player Billie Jean King is regarded as one of the greatest women’s tennis players of all time. She won 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in singles, 16 in women’s doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. An advocate for gender equality and social justice. She campaigned for equal pay when the Open Era began in 1968. She became the first female athlete to earn over $100,000 in prize money in 1971, but inequalities continued. Today, King is still a primary advocate for women and LGBTQ equality.

Aly Raisman
Aly Raisman is a two-time Olympic gymnast. In 2012, she won the team gold medal, floor gold medal, and bronze medal on balance beam. She took home the individual all-around silver medal and floor silver medal in 2016, as well as another team gold medal.
As decorated as Raisman is on the gymnastics floor, she has become an advocate in the fight to end sexual abuse. Raisman was one of over 100 gymnasts who came forward to speak out against former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Since Nassar’s trial, during which she delivered a blistering speech, she has used her platform to focus on fixing USA Gymnastics and justice for all victims of sexual abuse.

Alex Morgan
Alex Morgan is the co-captain for the United States Women’s Soccer Team and won her second consecutive FIFA World Cup championship in 2019. She debuted in the World Cup in 2011, where the team won silver. In 2012, Morgan recorded 28 goals and 21 assists to become the second American woman to score 20 goals and 20 assists in the same calendar year alongside Mia Hamm. She was also the sixth and youngest US player to score 20 goals in a single year. Since being named to the senior US team in 2019, Morgan has accumulated 169 caps and 107 goals. She was also one of the first women’s soccer players to appear on the cover of a FIFA video game. Off the field, Morgan is part of the US soccer women fighting for equal pay.

Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe is a co-captain of the USWNT (United States Women’s National Soccer Team) alongside Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd. She helped the US to its second consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup championship in 2019, scoring six goals for the Golden Boot and Golden Ball Awards. She was also on the 2015 team that won the Cup, as well as the 2012 Olympic team, which took home gold.

Rapinoe has made noise both on and off the field. She is an advocate for numerous LGBTQ organizations and often uses her platform to speak out against social injustice. She is also an advocate for women in sports and equality.

Renee Montgomery
Renee Montgomery is a retired American basketball player and sports broadcaster who is currently vice president, part-owner, and investor of the Atlanta Dream. During her 11-year playing career in the Women’s National Basketball Association, she won two championships with the Minnesota Lynx. During her college playing career, she won a national championship with the UConn Huskies.

In 2018, Montgomery signed a multi-year contract with the Atlanta Dream, and In June 2020, Montgomery announced that she would forgo the 2020 WNBA season due to concerns of racism and the coronavirus. In February 2021, she announced her retirement from the WNBA and Montgomery was part of a three-member investor group that was approved to purchase the Atlanta Dream.

The ownership change followed pressure on former owner Kelly Loeffler, a Republican and former U.S. Senator who angered WNBA players with her opposition to the league’s racial justice initiatives, to sell her share of the Dream. Loeffler had previously refused a visit with Montgomery on social justice initiatives.

Know Your Town: Second District

Councilmember Spotlight
Second District Councilmember Kaitlyn Shake

By Ariana Fine

[Stratford Crier’s mission is to inform and update Stratford residents on various categories of interest, community events, pertinent information, and/or input into specific tasks or project. We would like to highlight the work, dedication and projects of our elected officials, beginning with town council members. Stratford Crier is posing the following questions to each of these elected officials to find out more about what inspires them in this position and what they hope to accomplish in their term.]

I have had the distinct honor and responsibility of serving our town as the 2nd District Councilwoman since December of 2019. My first term in office presented several challenges and opportunities as an essential worker working on the frontlines as a registered nurse and fulfilling my responsibilities as a councilwoman. I continue to be inspired by our residents in their ability to display acts of kindness, resiliency and initiatives to help keep our community safe as we move through this unprecedented time together. In addition to the town council, I also serve on: Public Works, Building Needs, Ordinance Committee, Pension Board, WPCA and Chair of the Longbrook Park Commission.

1. What do you see as the needs of your district at the present?

I see three major areas of focus and must start with one of the town’s treasures: Longbrook Park. As our community begins a safe reentry from pandemic restrictions, it is a perfect place to

spend some time outdoors. It troubles me that vandalism is on the rise, the pond needs attention, and littering continues to be a constant problem. While many in the district help maintain the park, we need the support of the town’s administration. As Chair of Longbrook Park Commission, I engaged the Police Department, Engineering, Public Works and the Conservation Departments to talk about the town’s role in park revitalization and sustainability.

The Second District is home to many small businesses and essential workers. As I visited business over the past year, I shared information about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and how to apply for them. Neighbors in our district need relief, from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and through other state and local actions.

My third concern is more a request than a need. Our district is involved in many town projects: Raymark property clean up, Exit 33 entrance construction, West Broad Street bridge and road work, Stratford High School renovations, Main Street repaving, and more. This work invariably leads to traffic congestion and noise. I ask for more patience from us all as we move through completion and reap the benefits of all the activity.

2. What is your vision for your district’s future?

My vision requires listening to my neighbors, elevating their concerns and seeking solutions. It recognizes the district as a prime area for both development and regeneration. It relies on a strong alliance with Town Hall to ignite its innate potential.

I envision a well-maintained and oft-visited Longbrook Park. The health of the pond is always foremost in my mind; we are remediating algae growth and shallow depth issues. While we love the Canadian geese, we need to ensure people and geese coexist together! I envision fostering more transparent and collaborative partnerships with relevant town departments to address the park, like the current responsive relationships with Public Works and the Baldwin Center.

The Second District is arguably the economic engine of the town and I envision welcoming new businesses to the district and being at the table discussing recruitment and incentives. All ideas should be considered as we seek to revitalize our district’s storefronts. As the people of our district have spoken, their mixed-use priorities for the Center School property must be respected, whether innovative businesses, support for local artists, or spaces for young professionals and families. I will continue to amplify their voices.

3. What is your vision for the town?

There is talk about establishing a “new normal” as we recover from the pandemic. I envision Stratford as an innovative leader, recognizing the absence of a collective “normal” and moving forward blending individual and community assets while healing deep-rooted wounds. Inertia is a powerful force, and this is the time to be bold!

I envision leveraging funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to meet the immediate needs of our neighbors and to position the district to thrive in a post-COVID world. While uncertainty remains, planning our recovery and building our resilience must begin. We can expand our Health Department’s Resilient Stratford initiative and address the grief and trauma of our residents, including this in our emergency preparedness and response planning efforts and including input from mental health experts. My advocacy throughout the pandemic – door-to-door communications and persistent requests for readily accessible COVID testing and vaccine distribution – needs to be integrated as a town-administrated effort.

I have heard “same storm, different boat” throughout the pandemic and I envision a town that applies the lens of equity to all its observations, considerations and decisions. I will continue to advocate for the inclusion of all voices, all needs and all talents, knowing that reinvigorating Stratford requires us to support and develop our community members as and when necessary, throughout the full lifecycle, for all residents.

I envision intentionally blending development, affordable housing, and a vibrant regional art council that maintain the character of Stratford while promoting spaces that encourage healthy lifestyles and environmental sustainability. This requires reevaluating our boards and commissions to reflect the needs and demographics of the town. Look, we all know that civics, and an engaged citizenry, has taken a hit. Hyper-partisanship abounds. This produces fertile ground for status quo governing, no matter the party affiliation in the majority. My vision for Stratford relies on cooperation and collaboration across all communities, districts, interests and political parties. Being timid will get us nowhere and bold action will not happen without buy-in from a cross-sector of all parties, including elected officials, appointed commissioners and our town residents. I envision our town being one of community, a community that recognizes all Stratford has to offer while committing to filling the gaps together.

4. What is your vision of collaboration between the town administration and residents to help make Stratford a stronger community? How do you see town residents’ roles and participation?

I view my role as an elected official as one of not only amplifying the voices of my constituents in the Second District but of including them in the decisions. Conversations have reinforced the sentiment that “my voice doesn’t matter.” All our elected officials have a responsibility to hear AND listen. There are many of examples of residents engaging on town concerns with participation in groups like Stratford Forward, Stratford CARE, Shakespeare Market and this Stratford Crier community paper. Our job is to empower them, and their opinions, after engaging and encouraging them.

Charging both Town Hall and the Town Council with better communication is a good place to start, a time to reset. While we leverage technology to reach people, nothing beats a door knock or a phone call. I know that when I reach out and ensure you that your concerns matter to me, many of you share what you need and participate in both the challenges and the benefits of living in Stratford.

When I ran for public office, I knew I would learn a lot. Beyond the process of a functioning municipality, I developed an idea of my role as a citizen of this town. What can each of us do to support our working families, attract new businesses and residents while supporting those currently here, maintain our parks and beaches, protect our waterways, secure the futures of our youth and seniors, address racial inequities and disparities, and really…enjoy all Stratford has to offer?

As I said earlier, civic engagement needs some work – we all need to find being part of a community appealing and worthwhile. If politics is your thing, join one of the town committees; otherwise, there are many organizations, boards, and commissions to join. To strengthen the bonds with the residents, the town needs to better promote these opportunities as well as conduct regular listening sessions. Transparent communication around budgets and priorities, with consistent follow-up and follow-through, will engender the public trust required to engage and participate.

Take Action:

Email your councilperson and the Mayor or submit a statement during our public comment section of our monthly Town Council meetings the second Monday of every month with signup beginning at 6:30 p.m. and comment starting at 6:45 p.m.

 

Women’s History Month: Speed Queens

Women Putting the Pedal to the Metal

Source: Ford Foundation

Automotive racing has long been considered a male-dominated enterprise. When you think of racing, such as NASCAR, drag racing, or Indycar, your mind probably doesn’t go to the few women who’ve managed to break down gender barriers and find their place in the sport.

Though racing is still dominated by men, there are women who’ve made their mark in various aspects of motor racing.

In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s take a look at the female race car drivers who have made the biggest impact on gaining equality for women in auto racing.

Sara Christian
First woman to ever compete in a NASCAR event, Sara Christian first stepped into the male-dominated sport in 1949. Her seven-race career found some success, as she finished sixth at Langhorne Speedway, and fifth at Heidelberg Raceway. Though her career was short, she was the first female driver to break gender barriers in NASCAR, paving the way for many other women in the sport that would follow in her footsteps.

 

 

Janet Guthrie
Janet Guthrie was smashing gender barriers in NASCAR racing in the early 70s, becoming the first woman to compete in a NASCAR race at the 1976 World 600. In that race, she finished 15th, a few spots ahead of legendary champion Dale Earnhardt. The following year, Guthrie raced in the Daytona 500, where she was named ‘Rookie of the Year’ following her twelfth place finish.

She also competed in Indycars, finishing ninth in the 1978 Indy 500, after attempting in both 1976 and 1977 with little success. Her ninth place finish silenced many critics who felt as though women didn’t belong in the sport. Guthrie, along with Danica Patrick, were the only two women to race in both NASCAR and Indycar sanctioned competitions.

Shirley Muldowney
“First Lady of Drag Racing,” Shirley Muldowney is considered one of the all-time great female drivers in history. As a teenager, she fell in love with racing, winning the IHRA Southern Nationals in 1971. In 1977 she clinched the IHRA World Championship in 1977, 1980 and 1982.

Considered royalty in the drag racing world, Muldowney was the first woman to ever win a championship in any NHRA drag racing class. Her career paved the way for female drivers’ respect and acknowledgement in drag racing–a sport that had been revered as a man’s game since its inception. Thanks to Muldowney, drag racing in the US is one of the most diverse racing communities, with multiple female drivers.

Danica Patrick

Currently Danica Patrick is the most well-known female race car driver, and the most successful female driver in both NASCAR and Indycar history. Patrick is an icon, who many young girls with dreams of racing look up to.

Patrick began her career in 2005, when she led 19 laps of the Indy 500, eventually finishing in fourth place. In 2012, she transitioned to a full-time NASCAR career. In 2013, she became the first woman ever to win the Daytona 500 pole. Additionally, she is one of only two women to have competed in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, along with Janet Guthrie.

Healing Rooms Making Room for Sustainable Self-care with Feng Shui

By Joan Law and Ariana Rawls Fine
Source: Natural Awakenings Magazine

Creating a life we don’t want to run away from includes creating spaces within our homes for self-care. Focusing on areas such as the bedroom, kitchen and repurposed rooms can help us further our healing journey using feng shui principles. The practical, intuitive art is used to bring individuals and their environments into harmony. It works with the system of the five elements and the principle of chi, the vital energetic force present in all beings and things.

Restful Energy in the Bedroom
The bedroom is our space to rest and rejuvenate. Certain items can keep the energy circulating in the room, when it should be a peaceful place.

For instance, stacks of books by the bedside creates a sense of not having the time to read them all. Remove items from the bedroom such as mirrors, televisions, items under the bed, laundry, paperwork and electronics as much as possible. Even putting the cell phone on a bureau so that it is not easily accessible from the bed will help.

Pictures of children should not be in the bedroom; it is not that we are not thinking of them, but more the visual reminders that we worry about them, and the anxiety and stress that might cause.

The bed placement is important. Try not to have it under or in front of a window as that symbolizes lacking support. Position the bed where the door can be seen so we can see who is entering.

Another simple tip is opening and closing the curtains in the bedroom or living room. This ritual at the beginning and ending of the day can make a difference in our perception of the day’s progression.

Making the bedrooms fit the people is another concept that can help familial energy. If, for instance, there are three boys sharing a bedroom when the parents are in the bigger room, it may make sense to rearrange the bedroom allocations. Use the house the way it works best for the whole family.

Space for Healthy Cooking at Home
As we strive to be healthier, our kitchen can reflect our emotional clutter and health difficulties. The supplements and kitchen equipment we use for special diets can take up space. The cluttered counters then become a stressful, visual reminder for the family of the impact the diet may be having on family financials. Clearing out cabinets from infrequently used things, such as extra mugs, makes space to put away the constant dietary reminders and declutters the countertops.

Other tips include ensuring plenty of room on the counters for food prepping. Keep snacks behind closed doors; if we don’t see them, we are less likely to eat them so readily.

“Having an organized, decluttered kitchen with good flow and full of nutritious food makes eating so much easier and encourages healthier habits,” says Diana Pruzinsky Abata, CHC, AFMC (DianaPruzinsky.com).

Hoarding food, which can support a feeling of not having enough and living fearfully, is an interesting topic, as some people like to be prepared for the future with sufficient supplies. There is a difference between buying on sale where many items then go bad or expire before they are used and long-term, healthy storage of food.

What’s the Purpose?

Look at the home through feng shui “eyes” to reimagine spaces that may not be used frequently or optimally. Just because conventional thought says a room’s purpose is supposed to be one thing doesn’t mean it has to be. Live in a space that is comfortable and efficient for the family.

A spare room that is “saved” for infrequent guests could be repurposed as a self-care space to bring peace, healing and rejuvenation to the people actually living in the home.

Remember that we are trying to create the space for the activity we want more of, so don’t just fill it with “something”. Wait for the perfect item for the space.

For parents that lament that their grown children or family never visit, take a look at their room or the guest room in which they would stay. Are the rooms treated as a storage or big closet room? Use that space with intention; is it an inviting room ready for guests?

Many of us need to face the retention of “things” and the patterns of unwillingness to let them go. The action of releasing is part of a healing process to create pathways in the brain for other things that we need to release. Strengthening or loosening the “muscles” of letting go can change the way we look at life in general, whether it is about people, jobs or other life elements that are no longer serving a productive purpose for us.

“A health concern prompted me to call a feng shui practitioner again. My home office was really out of control. I’d convinced myself ‘the clutter didn’t bother me’. I needed to change my space to support a healthier lifestyle,” says Kara Flannery. “After we finished that office, I suddenly felt lighter.

I realized how much energy it had taken me to ‘block out’ the clutter each day so I could focus on my work. I was spending several hours a day in a room that was just weighing me down and holding me back. Now, I work in a room that inspires me.”

All That Stuff!

Many of us retain things because we don’t want to throw them out or we want to save them for others. This is especially apparent with parents and grandparents. Those items take up space physically and energetically. It can help to work with family members on a list of what they really want to save and what is truly important to the parents and grandparents.

Empty nesters may also need to think about whether they will sell and downsize; that requires sifting through what is more important. Getting comfortable with small, feng shui changes prepares them for making the bigger life changes coming.

A house can be cluttered with things that aren’t relevant to the current life we are living, such as a retired nurse with scrubs or a lawyer with college textbooks. We may be saving the good china sets and party gear but no longer host formal parties. Or we may be a parent keeping so much of our kids’ artwork.

Consider what we see as we enter the house. Are the entrances cluttered or stressful to look at? Do they feel welcoming when the family returns home? Do they reflect who the family is?

Learning the lesson of buying with purpose and of donating that which we don’t need can help us change our behavior to be more intentional in how we design the healing spaces we live in.

 

One Fire, Many Disrupted Lives: Stratford School Burns

by David Wright
Historian
Stratford Historical Society

Stratford High School, aka Center/Consolidated School, after the fire on February 19th, 1921. Likely the biggest news story of 1921 was the burning of the Stratford High School, today termed the “Center School Fire,” on February 19th . Both high school and grammar school students met in the building at the time of the blaze.

The initial cause of the blaze was said to be arson, but, to the best of our knowledge, the perpetrator of the blaze was never identified, and the official cause of the fire was never conclusively determined. Town historians William Howard Wilcoxson and Lew Knapp were silent on the cause of this blaze. Arson seems likely as matches were found throughout the building, and the fire began early on a Saturday morning. It’s as if the arsonist wanted to ensure no one would be injured by the blaze, and that the blaze would burn as long as possible undetected.

The damages from the fire were said to be $200,000. The town had only $33,000 in insurance coverage for the building. Following the blaze a terrible blizzard struck Stratford crippling traffic throughout the town.

High School boys were asked to assist in removing supplies from the school for relocation to other buildings in town. Students at the school were “distributed” to various churches and buildings nearby. Classes restarted on February 23rd. The high school students were without a school building to meet in until the “new” high school opened in 1925. Basketball games were played at the Town Hall.

The lives of teachers, students, parents of students, administrators, and many other townspeople were, of course, disrupted by this fire. However, we chose to look at five residents whose lives were directly impacted by this:

Southern New England Telephone operator, Marie Blucher, was on duty at the SNET central office which was located at 2362 Main Street. (The building has been converted to apartments at this time). Marie immigrated to Stratford with her parents from Denmark in 1899 when Marie was a newborn baby. Her family resided at 311 King Street which today is the site of the new Stratford High School.

Apparently, night patrolman David Dinan called in a general alarm which was picked up by Miss Blucher. Working alone on the graveyard shift, Miss Blucher began to telephone firemen one by one. Even though she could see the fire burning from the school building adjacent to the SNET building, she stayed on the phones directing phone calls as needed. She surely knew that a renegade burst of flames from the school building could engulf the SNET building endangering her ability to safely exit the facility.

Marie placed a call for mutual aid to the Bridgeport Fire Department. Bridgeport responded with a large pumping truck and aided greatly in fighting the blaze. Sleeping just several yards away at his mother’s home on Warwick Avenue, twenty- eight year old Harry Flood responded to the alarm. Harry had recently returned from military service in World War I in July 1919. Upon returning home, Harry was selected to be the Assistant Fire Chief for a time.

Town Manager Harry Flood c 1945.    

Harry Flood, who lived nearby at his mother’s home at 48 Warwick Avenue, was, undoubtedly one of the first fireman on the scene. When Harry, and other firefighters, arrived on the scene, they found the fire appeared to be confined to a small lunch room next to the boiler room near the front of the building. With a bit of firefighting effort, it appeared that the fire had been brought under control. Moments later, however, flames burst through the roof.

When the roof caved in, five firemen sustained injuries including Harry Flood who suffered from smoke inhalation. It took the firefighters until 5:30 a.m. to finally contain the blaze.

The doctor who treated Harry told Harry the damage done to his lungs was sufficient that he would be unable to continue playing basketball for the Stratford American Legion basketball team. This must have been devastating news to both Harry and his teammates as Harry was a star player on the team.

Harry would recover from his injuries and go on to become Stratford’s longest serving town manager. Harry served as Town Manager from 1945 until 1963. Serving through several rotations of political intrigue and machination, Harry’s career as Town Manager was judged by most residents to have been a great success. Harry passed away in 1966 at the age of 73. Surely, the memories of the high school stayed with him throughout his life.

Nettie Filmer was a member of the School Board and would have heard the commotion of the firefighters, and seen the flames at the high school, from her home at 797 East Broadway. Nettie was a member of, and leader in, Stratford’s Equal Suffrage Association. Connecticut had granted the right to women to vote in local town elections in 1893. Women were also granted the right to serve on local town boards at the same time. Nettie, along with Nettie’s next door neighbor, Alice Judson, were two of the first women elected to a town office.

The burning of the high school building created a need for someone to step up and create a plan for either rebuilding the incinerated high school or building a new high school at another location. Nettie was charged by the school board with creating such a plan. Nettie attended the groundbreaking for the new high school on North Parade in 1924. She also worked to have the burned high school rebuilt as a grammar school which was renamed as Center School. Nettie passed away in 1936 at the age of 65. She was able to see the fulfillment of her leadership in the construction of Stratford High School which opened in 1925.

Perhaps one of the lives most disrupted by the Stratford High fire was that of Assistant Fire Chief Frederick Palmer. Frederick Palmer had succeeded Harry Flood as Assistant Chief. Mr. Palmer was born in 1881 and resided with his family on Broadbridge Avenue.

In an effort to affix blame for the fire, and the town’s lack of adequate insurance coverage for the high school, a scapegoat needed to be found. Unfortunately for Mr. Palmer, Fire Chief Alan Judson was very popular and well-connected, so he would never do as a sacrificial lamb. The unsolicited sacrifice, apparently, fell to Assistant Fire Chief Palmer.

Mr. Palmer’s resignation was asked for. Whether Mr. Palmer submitted his resignation at that time, or subsequently, we can’t be sure. What we do know is that Mr. Palmer was serving as a Fire Lieutenant in 1927, and was working for the railroad in 1930. Mr. Palmer’s career seems to have been reduced to ashes alongside the high school.

One Stratford High School student was slumbering in bed in her parent’s home at 1566 Stratford Avenue. Her father, was a well-known mechanic and dairyman in town. Perhaps because of his dairyman responsibilities he was up before dawn on the morning of February 19th. We can’t know for certain how Susan Freeman learned of the burning of her high school, but she would surely have known early that Saturday morning of the 19th .

Susan completed her high school studies in June of 1921 having no school building in which to conclude her Stratford school career. Susan’s life, while impacted at the time, appears not to have been materially altered by the burning of her school. From the time she was a very young girl, she’d wanted to grow up to become a nurse. Susan was ill much of her senior high school year suffering from a bad case of diphtheria.

Following her graduation from the Stratford school system she entered the nursing school at Freedman’s Hospital Training School for Nurses in Washington DC in 1923. Susan completed graduate courses in nursing at Howard and Catholic universities and at Columbia University.

As World War II approached, Susan joined other black nurses who signed on for service with the Red Cross. Later, during World War II, the nurses were recruited into the Army Nurses Corps.

Susan headed up the very first Army unit of black nurses. She received many commendations for her service to our country. Susan was active in her Stratford Baptist Church and in her town. Susan’s life was profiled in the book Profiles of Negro Womanhood (1966) as well as African American Connecticut EXPLORED (2013).

The Bridgeport Post profiled Susan’s life for Black History Month in 1974. (You may read this entire article on the Stratford Historical Society newsletter website at www.stratfordhistoricalsociety.info). Susan lived in her parent’s home on Stratford Avenue until her death in 1979.

One fire: five impacted and impactful lives. One hundred years after the Stratford High School fire of 1921, a new Stratford High stands on North Parade. Stratford High School, rebuilt as Center School, has seen a “new” Center School come and go. The Center School building now serves as the offices of the Stratford Board of Education. Proposals have been advanced to the town to convert the old Center School to
apartments.

One can’t help but wonder what changes there might be in our town, today, had Stratford High not burned on February 19 th , 1921. How different would Marie’s, Harry’s, Nettie’s, Frederick’s and Susan’s life have been had there been no morning Stratford High fire in 1921? How different would our lives have been?

VAX Facts: A Shot in the Arm by

by Kaitlyn Shake
Second District Councilwoman and Stratford Health Department Nurse Bernie

The Stratford Health Department held a special vaccination clinic on Saturday, March 6th, specifically for Stratford teachers, eligible staff, eligible support staff such as bus drivers, and day care providers. Many thanks to Our Health Department and EMS in making this vaccination clinic a success where over 500 eligible individuals were vaccinated.

The state is releasing information about how many individuals are vaccinated in all Connecticut communities. As of March 5th, 2021, 8,419 or 16.2% of the town’s population had been vaccinated with a first dose.

Stratford clinics have dispensed 5,706 vaccines to date. It’s important to keep in mind that we are part of a larger regional and statewide vaccination network and effort.

Stratford does not vaccinate ONLY Stratford residents – many of residents and first responders have been vaccinated at locations outside Stratford, and conversely, many from outside of Stratford have been vaccinated here.

The Stratford Health Department is partnering with Stratford EMS in order to bring COVID-19 vaccines to residents determined to be “homebound” and unable to safely access the vaccine clinics being offered by Stratford Health. This is being done under the Governor’s executive order 7HHH, and is being called “Operation Homeward Bound” by the Stratford Health and EMS team.

Stratford EMS is providing EMS personnel who have been qualified as “vaccinators” through the State Department of Public Health and partnering them with another “Healthcare Professionals” like a Registered Nurse, to make up “vaccine teams” to deliver COVID vaccine services to those individuals determined by Stratford Health Department as being “homebound.”

Effective March 1st, VA Connecticut will offer COVID-19 vaccine to enrolled patients regardless of age. Depending on location, VA Connecticut patients will receive either the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Veterans (any age) must be enrolled for care with VA to receive the vaccine. Next date for Veterans is: March 10-12 at the West Haven Annex, 200 Edison Road/Pez Blvd. in Orange from 12-4pm (walk-in with no appointment necessary).

Clinics will continue at Birdseye every Tuesday and Wednesday based on vaccine supply and eligibility. Governor Lamont recently announced that the state will continue taking an age-based approach to distribution of the COVID vaccine, making the following update to the vaccine schedule:

The planned schedule is as follows:
March 1, 2021: Expands to age group 55 to 64
March 22, 2021: Expands to age group 45 to 54
April 12, 2021: Expands to age group 35 to 44
May 3, 2021: Expands to age group 16 to 34

Following the Governor’s orders, our clinics are now open to Stratford residents 55 years of age and older. We are encouraging everyone to register online through the CT DPH portal at https://dphsubmissions.ct.gov/OnlineVaccine. Registering in the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) provides you with flexibility in securing an appointment at any area clinic, including at the Stratford Health
Department.

Vaccine clinics require an appointment (no walk-ins accepted) to be made in advance. When viewing the directory of vaccine clinics, click on ‘More Details’ for specific information about how you can schedule an appointment at each location. Some locations offer online scheduling through their website or electronic health record, others allow scheduling by phone, and some locations can be booked through the Vaccine  Administration Management System (VAMS).

Governor Ned Lamont announced significant planned changes to guidance associated with COVID-19 restrictions. Beginning Friday, March 19, all capacity limits will be eliminated for the following businesses, while face coverings, social distancing, and other cleaning and disinfecting protocols will continue to be required:

Restaurants (8-person table capacity and 11PM required closing time for dining rooms continues)
Retail
Libraries
Personal services
Indoor recreation (excludes theaters, which will continue to have a 50% capacity)
Gyms/fitness centers
Museums, aquariums, and zoos
Offices
Houses of worship
Gathering sizes will be revised to the following amounts:
Social and recreational gatherings at private residence – 25 indoors/100 outdoors
Social and recreational gatherings at commercial venues – 100 indoors/200 outdoors
All sports will be allowed to practice and compete, and all sports tournaments will be allowed, subject to Department of Public Health guidance

Connecticut’s travel advisory will be modified from a requirement to recommended guidance.

More Than Test Tubes: Women’s History Month

A Month Long Tribute to Known, and Not so Known Women

Elizebeth Friedman Source: Brain Pickings and was published September 6, 2018.
Lise Meitner Source: Alina Bradford, Contributing writer Live Science March 29, 2018.

History
Did You Know? Women’s History Month started as Women’s History Week. Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

In 1980, a consortium of women’s groups and historians—led by the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance)—successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week. Subsequent Presidents continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March until 1987 when Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

Women’s History Month is a dedicated month to reflect on the often-overlooked contributions of women to United States history. From Abigail Adams to Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth to Rosa Parks, the timeline of women’s history milestones stretches back to the founding of the United States.

Everyone knows their names – but let’s look at other women who have contributed and are not as celebrated but who’s contributions have made a difference.

Let’s start with Women in Science:

The Untold Story of Cryptography Pioneer Elizebeth Friedman, an unsung heroine established a new field of science and helped defeat the Nazis with pencil, paper, and perseverance.

Elizbeth Friedman

While computing pioneer Alan Turing was breaking Nazi communication in England, eleven thousand women, unbeknownst to their contemporaries and to most of us who constitute their posterity, were breaking enemy code in America — unsung heroines who helped defeat the Nazis and win WWII. American cryptography pioneer Elizebeth Friedman (August 26, 1892–October 31, 1980). Friedman triumphed over at least three Enigma machines and cracked dozens of different radio circuits to decipher more than four thousand Nazi messages that saved innumerable lives, only to have J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI take credit for her invisible, instrumental work. .FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who was unconstrained by the secrecy oaths Elizebeth and the other women had taken and unscrupulous about manipulating the press and the public, undertook an effort to erase her from history, and take credit for her work.

The youngest of nine children raised in a modest Quaker home, Elizebeth was born in an era when fewer than four percent of American women graduated from college. Four years after earning her degree in Greek and English literature, she still felt like “a quivering, keenly alive, restless, mental question mark.” The following year, 1916, she began her improbable career at Riverbank Laboratories —where the billionaire had hired Elizebeth to work on the cipher at the heart of a literary conspiracy theory claiming that Francis Bacon was the true author of Shakespeare’s works

The savaging of Nazis, the birth of a science: It begins on the day when a twenty-three- year-old American woman decides to trust her doubt and dig with her own mind. All her life she had celebrated the improbable bigness of language, the long-lunged galaxy that exploded out from the small dense point of the alphabet, the twenty-six humble letters.

In college she trained herself to hear the rhythms of playwrights and poets, the syllables that slip from the tongue in patterns. Elizebeth began working for the U.S. Coast Guard Intelligence Division, intercepting and deciphering the encrypted radio messages by which international and domestic smuggling operated. She fused her literary passion with formidable logic to do work hardly anyone else in the country knew how to do — work that didn’t yet have a proper name

By the time the war engulfed the world, Elizebeth Friedman was America’s foremost mind decrypting Nazi communication, using the weapons she had always wielded with uncommon skill: pencil, paper, and perseverance. She was the most famous codebreaker in the world, more famous even than Herbert Yardley, the impresario of the American Black Chamber. And she was more famous than her husband, too — a reversal from the longstanding pattern.

Despite her formative contribution to cryptography as an instrument of military intelligence and the genius with which she operated the instrument to save incalculable lives, Elizebeth Friedman received no public recognition for her work in her lifetime. Part of it, no doubt, was due to the classified nature of the work — even Alan Turing, after all, died a tragic hero murdered by the very government he had served, his compatriots unaware of the millions of lives he had saved.

But a big part of it, too, has to do with the long history of women in science being denied recognition for their landmark work — from Lise Meitner and the discovery of fission to Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the detection of pulsars to Vera Rubin and the confirmation of dark matter.

Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner was a pioneering physicist who studied radioactivity and nuclear physics. She was part of a team that discovered nuclear fission — a term she coined — but she was overlooked in 1945 when her colleague, Otto Hahn, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She has been called the “mother of the atomic bomb,” even though she did not directly have anything to do with its development. Element No. 109, meitnerium, was named in her honor.

Lise Meitner was born on November 7, 1878, in Vienna. Because of Austrian restrictions on female education, Meitner wasn’t allowed to attend college; however, her family could afford private education, which she completed in 1901. She went on to graduate school at the University of Vienna. Inspired by her teacher, physicist Ludwig Boltzmann, she studied physics and focused her research on radioactivity. She became the second woman to receive a doctorate degree at the university in 1905.

Shortly thereafter, physicist Max Planck allowed her to sit in on his lectures — a rare gesture for him; he had rejected any women wanting to attend his lectures. Meitner later became Planck’s assistant. She also worked with Hahn, and together they discovered several isotopes.

Meitner and Hahn were research partners for around 30 years. In 1938, after Germany annexed Austria, Vienna-born Meitner fled Nazi Germany and moved to Sweden, where it was safer for the Jewish people like herself, even though she was a practicing Protestant. She found herself at the Manne Siegbahn’s institute in Stockholm. Ruth Lewin Sime later wrote in her book, “Lise Meitner: A Life in Physics,” “Neither were asked to join Siegbahn’s group nor given the resources to form their own, she had laboratory space but no collaborators, equipment, or technical support, not even her own set of keys to the workshops and laboratories.” Meitner was considered separate “from the institute’s own personnel” instead of the brilliant scientist she was. It is believed that Siegbahn’s prejudice against women in science played a large part in her treatment.

On November 13, 1938, Hahn met secretly with Meitner in Copenhagen, according to Sime. She suggested that Hahn and Strassmann perform further tests on a uranium product they suspected was radium. The substance was actually barium, and they published their results in the journal Naturwissenschaften in January 6, 1939.

At the same time, Meitner joined forces with her nephew Otto Frisch, and in January 1939, they came up with the term “fission.” Fission is when an atom separates and creates energy. They also explained the process in a paper that was published in the journal Nature on February 11, 1939

“It was Lise Meitner who explained these experiments as splitting atoms. When this paper appeared, all the leading physicists at the time immediately realized, here was a source of great destructive energy,” said Ronald K. Smeltzer, a curator of the Grolier exhibition, a look at extraordinary women in science.

The report alarmed those leading physicists. Albert Einstein was persuaded to write a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt warning him of the destructive potential. This effort eventually led to the establishment of the Manhattan Project.

Meitner turned down an offer to work on the development of the atomic bomb, according to Sime. Nevertheless, after World War II she was dubbed “the mother of the atomic bomb,” even though she had nothing directly to do with the bomb.

In 1966, all of the collaborators, Hahn, Strassmann and Meitner, were awarded the U.S. Fermi Prize for their work. Meitner retired to England in 1960 and died October 27, 1968, in Cambridge, England.