Monday, March 25, 2013

Wallingford Trash coupons and permits expire soon

WALLINGFORD— Coupons and permits will expire April 14 for Wallingford seniors (65 and older) or residents having Medicare cards who take household trash to the Wallingford resident disposal site.

To use senior coupons, a new permit must be obtained at the Wallingford Senior Center, 238 Washington St., from 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Monday, April 8, to Friday, April 12. There is a fee for the permit.

Applicants must bring their current driver’s license, proof of residence, and the current registration for the vehicle that will be used to deliver trash to the disposal site. Permits will only be issued on these dates and times.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wallingford Comedy show helps local children make the team

As published in the Record Journal Sunday March 24, 2013

By Andrew Ragali
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2224

WALLINGFORD – All Mark Brennan asks for in return for helping local children interested in sports is a thank you card.

Twice a year, Brennan hosts a comedy show at Zandri’s Stillwood Inn to benefit On the Team, a program he started in 2009 with the help of Craig Turner, the town’s director of youth and social services, and John Gawlak, the director of parks and recreation.

Turner said the program has created a “special fund that’s really dedicated to assisting kids at two levels.”

Money raised through Brennan’s show and other private contributions help cover the program costs for children who normally would not have the opportunity to participate in team sports in Wallingford. Turner said the fund also helps children identified by coaches as having above-average talent that could be “developed or enhanced at a sports camp.”

Since 2009, 55 children have benefited from about $14,000 raised through the comedy show, Gawlak said. The program’s fund has a balance of about $2,000, which will quickly be gone with spring sports on the way, Gawlak said. That’s why Brennan’s next show, on April 5 at Zandri’s Stillwood Inn, is so important.

“The program is a great concept,” Gawlak said. “The community is fortunate to have someone like Mark take his comedic passion and turn it around. It’s nice to be able to see kids carry on with their own passion.”

Brennan’s show “is a lot of fun,” Gawlak said. “Mark tries really, really hard and has progressively gotten better.”

“I’ve been a comic for a little over 10 years,” Brennan said.

When he started a decade ago, his intent was to raise money for another cause His three children motivated him to raise money for kids.

Brennan won’t be the only comic performing on April 5. For the upcoming show, Paul Venier, who bills himself as the Comedy Tornado, will perform. Brennan said Venier is known for his song parodies and use of props. Venier also has a photographic memory, which helps him interact with the crowd, Brennan said.

Students interested in applying for a scholarship through the On the Team program can apply with the Youth and Social Services Department, Turner said. People interested in donating to the program are asked to write a check to the the Parks and Recreation Department or the Youth and Social Services Department.

The April 5 show at Zandri’s Stillwood Inn, 1074 S. Colony Road, will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22 each, and can be bought at the door or by calling Brennan at (203) 641-8808.

After he hands out the scholarships, Brennan only expects thank-you cards from the children, which he said “teaches kids to be respectful and appreciate.”

“I get the nicest thank-you cards,” Brennan said.

It’s big and gray and ... it’s down there; Circus elephant has been buried under Wallingford since 1953

As published in the Record Journal Sunday March 24, 2013

By Andrew Ragali
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2224

WALLINGFORD – Social media are known to spread rumors, but sometimes the truth comes out, as in a far-fetched story posted recently on the Wallingford CT Community Forum Facebook page.

In the discussion thread, which started on March 12, topics ranged from actors and politicians rumored to have attended private school in town to the onetime inhabitants of Community Lake. While some information on the thread can’t be confirmed, there is truth to at least one topic: There’s an elephant buried in Wallingford.

“Did you know there’s an elephant buried in town?” Laura Bertekap wrote on the Facebook page. “I told you, we’ve got everything!”

In response, another commenter asked for more information. Slowly, more and more information on the elephant burial trickled in from several sources. Ray Ross wrote on Facebook that he had watched the burial.

“She is buried in front of one of the old hangars that is across the street from the Elec. Division on John Street,” he wrote. “She is under the street.” Ross did not return a call seeking comment.

On June 29, 1953, the Mills Bros. Circus came to Wallingford to perform two shows, sponsored by the Wallingford Lions Club. The circus was set up at the town’s airport, now the property of the Electric Division, near South Cherry Street.

“There were elephants and trained dogs, ponies and white horses, special acts and monkeys, a ‘big top’ and several smaller tops,” an article in the Meriden Record said of preparations for the circus on the morning of June 29, 1953.

The circus brought 13 elephants to Wallingford that summer, but left with only a dozen. On July 1, the Meriden Record reported that the circus left at 5 a.m. on June 30, “but ‘Miss India,’ a 2,600 pound cow elephant, didn’t know it. She died several hours earlier.”

According to the article, Miss India was 25 years old, the youngest and most pleasant- tempered of the “40 tons of elephants in the show.” It was believed she died of a heart attack at about 2:30 a.m. on June 30.

It is thought “Miss India” died early in the morning because residents of South Cherry Street, according to the story, heard “a great trumpeting at about that time in which all the elephants seemed to have joined in.”

The elephant had made her last performance the night before, and acted normally. But during her afternoon show, “Miss India” kept lying down and behaving unusually.

After it was found that the elephant had died, there was the issue of what to do with the carcass. The Meriden Record reported that a circus attendant stayed behind to make arrangements. Police in town began calling rendering plants in New Haven and Bridgeport “to see if the carcass could be turned into tallow.”

The Peabody Museum in New Haven was also contacted, but had inadequate staff to handle the elephant. “Finally, it was decided to bury her where she fell,” just east of the hangars at the old airport property, about 25 feet from South Cherry Street, according to the Record.

Alfred Audisio, an excavator and owner of the Audisio Excavating Co. in Wallingford, brought a gasoline operated shovel and diesel bulldozer to dig the elephant’s grave. Audisio died in 1998 at the age of 88, said his grandson, Jerry Farrell Jr., president of the Wallingford Historic Preservation Trust.

“He was one of the big-time excavators for that period,” Farrell said of his grandfather. Growing up, Farrell recalls hearing the story of the elephant from his grandfather. “We heard many of his old stories,” he said.

Farrell said that his grandfather never wanted to stir up a lot of interest in the elephant out of fear someone would attempt to dig her up. He said his grandfather wanted her to rest in peace.

“I guess I feel the same way he does,” Farrell said. “Obviously, she is buried at some depth. My grandfather had very heavy machinery.” Audisio dug a hole 18 feet deep, with a volume of 480 cubic yards, the Record reported.

The Record reported that “Miss India” got plenty of attention after her death. Sixty people, mostly children, gathered to watch the burial. Several kids stood on the carcass to be photographed.

After the hole was dug, Audisio pushed Miss India into her final resting place with his excavator’s shovel. Advising Audisio were Edward Ferry, the town’s sanitary inspector, and John Nolan, superintendent of the borough street department. The process began before noon and lasted until after 4 p.m., the Record reported.

“How many towns in America have a buried elephant?” said Bob Beaumont, a Wallingford resident interested in local history. Beaumont said he had heard of the buried elephant, but didn’t know any details.

Town Councilor Jason Zandri, who participated in discussion on the Facebook thread, said he’s heard about the buried elephant as well. “You have a scenario where you have an animal that died, so what do you do with it?” he said. Zandri said there’s no marker where “Miss India” was buried.

“It was back in a time when the circus still used to come around,” Zandri said. “The circus is another thing that doesn’t come around much anymore.”

Farrell said he and his grandfather kept the exact location of the elephant’s grave a secret over the years. The only people who know would be the 60 or so who watched the burial on June 30. One of those people, then-First Selectman Edward Leonard, oddly, made the elephant’s death political. The Record reported that Leonard quipped that the death was an omen of the coming election.

“Even the elephants are dying in Wallingford,” he said.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Earth Hour Wallingford: turn off your lights for Earth Hour on March 23rd‏

As offered by Ms. Elizabeth Plikaitis of Wallingford
On Saturday, March 23, at 8:30 p.m., thousands of cities around the world will go dark for one hour during Earth Hour, WWF's (World Wildlife Fund) annual campaign to raise awareness of the environmental challenges we all face, such as climate change.
As a resident of Wallingford, I am turning out my lights and I urge our community to take part in Earth Hour. Here's how:
1. Turn off all non-essential lights in and around our government buildings
2. Promote the event and encourage landmarks and businesses in our community to join in.
Participating for one hour during Earth Hour is only the first step. In addition to that symbolic event, our city can gain recognition for its efforts on climate change through the Earth Hour City Challenge.
Our towns and cities are already facing the staggering costs of weather driven to extremes by climate change, and the resulting power outages, flooded roadways, shuttered businesses, and damaged homes are becoming more and more frequent.
Many cities across America understand these risks and are taking practical measures to prepare.
Wallingford must do the same.
With this letter I challenge our city to first take part in Earth Hour and then to participate in WWF's Earth Hour City Challenge!
I hope you help protect my family and fellow residents by preparing for the increasingly extreme weather our community faces.
WWF Earth Hour 2013


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Which weather forecast do you believe?

Two different weather forecasts posted to Facebook within 20 minutes of each other.

I realize one says “By midday Friday” and the other one is “through tomorrow” but really… how can they be that different? (Unless the snow is supposed to dump heavy early Friday AM).



Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Letter to the editor, as published in the Record Journal Tuesday March 5, 2013

Editor: These days, the negative drama in people’s lives seems to get all the attention, especially when it comes to teenagers in high school. Well, I’d like to spotlight one particular teenager: Kaitlyn (also her coaches and her cheerleading squad) for doing just the opposite. They all embraced and created a positive atmosphere by supporting a unified cheerleading program that my daughter, Giana, participated in this winter. Kaitlyn, also a mentor in Giana’s class, took it upon herself to get approval and develop the program at the high school. Giana wore an official uniform, attended practices and cheered at the boys’ basketball home games with the rest of the squad. As the crowd cheered her on, Giana’s smile couldn’t have been bigger and her confidence soared.

Life is full of moments, and this was one Giana will always remember. My thanks to all who made this happen. Go, team!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Misleading Grant Deed Offers Resurface in Connecticut

As communicated by Claudette Carveth, Director of Communications for the Department of Consumer Protection

Misleading Grant Deed Offers Resurface in Connecticut

State Tells Consumers There’s No Need to Pay High Fees for Property Records

HARTFORD, March 4 – In a repeat of an alert issued in a May 16th 2012 press release, the Department of Consumer Protection wants to advise consumers to avoid certain businesses that may contact them, purporting to be selling copies of “Grant Deeds.” Consumers should be suspicious of any invoices or offers from businesses charging fees for public records that can be easily and inexpensively obtained from a local municipal office.

“We’ve learned that a company called Property Transfer Service is operating in Connecticut, sending homeowners notices recommending that they obtain their property deeds for a fee of approximately $80,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said. “This company is apparently running the same scheme as Record Retrieval Department, a company that we ousted from Connecticut early this year.”
The Department has reviewed one notice sent recently from Property Transfer Service to a Connecticut consumer. That notice included instructions for the consumer to send a check for $83 in the provided return envelope, which was pre-addressed to Property Transfer Service at a Washington, DC address.

The official-looking document is not affiliated with any municipal, state or federal agency. Property Transfer Service, as well as its sister companies, Secured Document Services and Compliance Document Services are all owned by Neil Camenker of California.  In 2011, Camenker’s company, State Record Retrieval Board, was enjoined from offering paid grant deed services in Washington state and Iowa.  A self-described “multi talented entrepreneur,” last year Camenker sued another company, “Secured Document Retrieval Services,” in the state of California for copyright infringement based on similarities in the latter’s mailings. 

“It’s intriguing that this schemer, Neil L. Camenker, filed a lawsuit against another schemer for allegedly stealing his methods,” Rubenstein said.  “We believe that this scheme has no place in Connecticut under any name, and we are in communication with Mr. Camenker and Property Transfer Service to address this matter.”

It appears that a handful of operators each run several companies that offer this service under different names, so consumers may see this type of solicitation over and over again from different businesses. The Department of Consumer Protection advises consumers who receive such offers to ignore them or send a copy to the Department of Consumer Protection. Do not remit the requested payment for the Grant Deed.

Anyone in need of property records may access land records at their Town Clerk’s Office, or in some cases, online at their municipality’s website.  Copies of land records typically cost one dollar per page and two dollars for a certified record. 

Media Contact: Claudette Carveth

Claudette Carveth
Director of Communications
Department of Consumer Protection
Hartford, CT


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Legislative panel to air proposals in Wallingford - Committee looks at mental health, substance abuse

As published in the Record Journal on Sunday March 2, 2013

By Andrew Ragali
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2224

WALLINGFORD - The legislature’s Program Review and Investigations Committee will hold a public hearing Thursday at Town Hall to address mental health and substance abuse issues involving young adults.

The hearing will begin at 4 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium. Public hearings held by legislative committees are normally conducted in Hartford, but a directive from House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, has each committee trying to have at least one public hearing in a different city or town, said Alberto Negron, a press aide for House Democrats.

Negron said the goal is to bring public hearings to the places where issues have originated.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said state Rep. Mary M. Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, co-chairwoman of the program review committee, who suggested the public hearing be held in Wallingford. “It’s really good to get out into the field.”

Mushinsky said Wallingford is a good meeting place because there are several organizations in south central Connecticut area fighting to protect youths from substance abuse or mental health issues that can lead to substance abuse.

Also, Mushinsky “thought it made sense” because the town has had a number of drug-related deaths. She mentioned Kathryn McCormack, who died of a suspected drug overdose, accidentally smothering her 13-month old son, Caleb J. Riley, in their High Street home on Dec. 7.

The Coalition for a Better Wallingford was created by local residents Jennifer Short and Ken Welch after Taylor Short, 20, Jennifer Short’s daughter, died of an apparent overdose in New Haven in November.

The program review committee is proposing several bills to make mental health and substance abuse assistance more accessible to young adults. Mushinsky said that over the last six months, the “data-driven” committee has researched the issue. A new report shows that while there is parity in state insurance between mental and physical ailments, “mental health parity does not exist for private insurance,” Mushinsky said.

The committee studied young people between 12 and 25. One in four met the clinical criteria for substance abuse, but a significant number of troubled youths aren’t treated because of insurance issues, the report found.

It can take days to receive proper mental health treatment through a private insurer, even in emergencies, Mushinsky said. A person insured by a private company “may be in great distress and even in danger of death, but you’re going to get the runaround,” she said.

“It was a problem I simply was not aware of,” said state Sen. Joe Markley, R-Cheshire, a member of the committee. As the study was conducted over a six-month period and Markley learned more about the struggles of obtaining treatment, “you become more and more concerned about the seriousness of the problem,” he said.

Markley said proposed changes will be limited, “but very effective.”

The committee is laying out several bills that would provide oversight of private insurers, helping to enforce state and federal parity laws that already exist. Other bills look to speed up the timetable for treatment and others make the appeals process quicker when insurers refuse to pay for mental health or substance abuse treatment.

All proposed bills will be listed next week on the committee’s website, which can be found through, Mushinsky said. The committee’s report is posted on the website.

Those who wish to testify during the public hearing can sign up at Town Hall starting at 3 p.m. Thursday. The hearing will begin at 4 p.m. Public officials will testify for the first hour, and testimony from the general public will follow.

“We do want to hear from people that have gone through this misery,” Mushinsky said.

Welcome Home Benefit To Close The Door On Homelessness

Welcome Home Benefit To Close The Door On Homelessness
A Benefit in Memory of Bill Allis for The Immaculate Conception Shelter & Housing Corp.
P.O. Box 4362, Wallingford, CT 06492

Dear Community Partner:

I am writing on behalf of the planning committee for the Welcome Home Benefit to Close the Door on Homeless to request your support. This benefit is in memory of Bill Allis and will help to support The Immaculate Conception Shelter and Housing Corp. The Immaculate Conception Shelter and Housing Corp. (“ICSHC”) is a lifesaving resource to thousands of homeless individuals, providing emergency services, supportive housing, and case management services. ICSHC has always focused on individuals most vulnerable to life on the streets of Hartford, including people with HIV/AIDS, homeless veterans and those with severe substance abuse/mental health issues. The mission of the organization illuminates the work: “Because housing is a human right, Immaculate Conception Shelter & Housing Corporation will provide housing and decent shelter with unconditional love to those with no other options.”

My father, William “Bill” Allis was one of the thousands who Immaculate Conception Staff saved. Bill had come to Hartford, homeless and without a job. The staff at ICSHC helped Bill find a job and an apartment, but even more than that, Bill found Hope at the “Mac.” Bill wanted to give back to ICSHC and did so through volunteering, preparing meals and brunches for the resident and by founding and facilitating a peer support for men in the shelter. Unfortunately, Bill lost his battle with cancer in January 2013.

To honor Bill’s legacy and to continue the mission of the Immaculate Conception Shelter and Housing Corp., our first annual “Welcome Home Benefit to Help Close the Door on Homeless in Hartford” will be held on Friday, March 22nd which would have been Bill’s 67th birthday. The Benefit will include dinner, dessert, DJ entertainment, a clown and kids’ area, and raffles/silent auctions.

Although ticket sales make up the greatest part of charity revenue raised, there will also be raffle and silent auctions. We were hoping that you will be willing to offer a raffle prize (either an item or gift certificate). Our tax exempt # is 22-3121606. ICSHC is designated as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. All contributors names will be mentioned and thanked in our program and other publicity associated with the benefit.

Should you have any questions associated with this request or our benefit, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at or via telephone at (203) 676-9205. More information and event registration is available at: We hope that you will be able to support us in this way and we look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you In advance for your support of this important matter.

Jennifer Allis Vazquez

Welcome Home Benefit To Close The Door On Homeless
A Benefit in Memory of Bill Allis for the Immaculate Conception Shelter & Housing Corp.
P.O. Box 4362, Wallingford, CT 06492

Donor/Company Name: _________________________________________________________

Contact Person: _______________________________________________________________

Contact Telephone:_______________________

Contact E-mail: ________________________

Address: ________________________________________________________________

City: ___________________________________ State:______ Zip Code: ________________

Description of Donation:




Value of Item: $____________

I would like to make a cash donation of: $ _________________

(Donations can be made via check made payable to ICSHC or credit card online at

Welcome Home Benefit
c/o Jennifer Allis Vazquez
P.O. Box 4362
Wallingford, CT 06492

All proceeds will benefit the Immaculate Conception Shelter & Housing Corp., a 503(c)(1) nonprofit organization, Tax ID #22-3121606.

Friday, March 1, 2013

2PM afternoon concert by the Wallingford Symphony at the Paul Mellon Arts Center on Sunday, March 3

Selections from ballet classics by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Chopin, and Delibes will be featured, with dancers from the New Haven Ballet.

Philip Ventre, WSO’s Music Director and co-founder, reports that the program he has chosen are “well known and very beautiful music from the world’s greatest ballets!”

The Wallingford Symphony is composed of Connecticut’s finest professional symphony musicians!

They’ll be joined in this concert featuring ballet selections with dancers from the New Haven Ballet, under the direction of Artistic Director Jared Redick.

Tickets available at, Gallagher Travel, or at the door.