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Canton Officials To Hold Public Hearing on Alternatives for Public Works Facility

During a site walk earlier this year, Town project administrator George Wallace talks about the potential for rebuilding at the current site. Photo by John FItts

During a site walk earlier this year, Town project administrator George Wallace talks about the potential for rebuilding at the current site.
Photo by John FItts

Public Hearing slated for 7 p.m. Wednesday

By John Fitts

As the town of Canton considers potential options for a public works facility, selectmen are hoping to hear from the public at a May 25 public hearing.

At the Board of Selectmen hosted hearing, which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, town officials will give pros and cons for a plan for building a facility at the current site along the Farmington River as well as several alternative sites suggested by the town’s Permanent Municipal Building Committee (PMBC).

Following the hearing, the Board of Selectmen will host a “super board” meeting for which they’ve invited members of town boards and commissions to further the discussion.

It all takes place in the Canton Community Center, Room F., 40 Dyer Ave. … Continue Reading

Canton High School Students Show Their ‘eesmarts’

From left are Paige Gnazzo, Katherine Jarka, Katlyn Campbell, Amaria Yancey and Nathaniel Savino.

From left are Paige Gnazzo, Katherine Jarka, Katlyn Campbell, Amaria Yancey and Nathaniel Savino. (Submitted Photo)

By John Fitts

Five Canton students were recently lauded for their approach to energy efficiency with first place honors in the 2016 eesmarts™ Student Contest competition.

The contest, presented by Energize Connecticut in partnership with Eversource and the United Illuminating Company (UI), Connecticut Natural Gas, and the Southern Connecticut Gas Company, evaluates projects centered around efficiency, renewable energy and sustainability.

The Canton students – Katlyn Campbell, Katherine Jarka, Nathaniel Savino, Paige Gnazzo, and Amaria Yancey – were one of four groups who submitted projects as part of Betty’s Hagymasi’s Conceptual Chemistry Class. Not only did they get the honor of first place, a plaque and an Amazon gift certificate, but will receive $1,500 toward implementing their plan.

“I’m really proud of you,” Hagymasi recently told the group. “You really hit every single aspect of the criteria that was being asked of you.”

… Continue Reading

Students at Stepping Stones Receive Earth Day Present

Students at Stepping Stones Educational Center, many of whom had recently protested tree cutting by Eversource, received an Earth Day surprise on Friday.

Everscource representatives came to the school and delivered 48 tree seedlings, school officials said.

The students had recently chanted “Save Our Trees Please” as crews across the street cut several trees near power lines across the street on Route 44.

One of the young trees was planted at the school on Friday and students each took one home.

“We want you to know that these kids did make a difference,” Stepping Stones owner Rob Amrein and Director LaNelle Stanhope wrote in a letter home to parents.

Eversource has received some criticism for aggressive trimming and cutting along roadways but the company said some trees can wreck havoc on the electric system. The company said it seeks to strike a balance.

See our original story here, as well as a related letter to the editor.

Esty, Larson Applaud Senate Approval of Legislation to Protect Lower Farmington River

Submitted Release 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) and Congressman John Larson (CT-1) on Tuesday applauded the Senate’s Approval of the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Wild and Scenic River Act.

The legislation, which was adopted by a 97-0 vote as an amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, will create a U.S. National Park Service protective designation for the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook that runs through ten Connecticut towns. With protective designation as a “wild and scenic river,” the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook could receive as much as $100,000 in funding from the federal government to assist volunteers and officials with conservation efforts.

The Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Wild and Scenic River Act is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). Esty and Larson sponsor the bill in the House.

“The Lower Farmington River is an economic and environmental treasure for families across Connecticut, and today’s action in the Senate brought us one step closer to preserving it for future generations,” Esty said. “Families from across Connecticut and around the world travel to the Farmington River to enjoy the fishing, boating, and other recreational opportunities it offers. The House should follow the Senate’s lead and pass this bill, so that Connecticut can continue to take advantage of one of the country’s greatest waterways for many years to come.” … Continue Reading

Images of Canton: White Squirrel

April 7, 2016 Environment, Photos No Comments
Photo by Neil Zommer

Photo by Neil Zommer

The above photo by Neil Zommer was taken last Saturday by town bridge.

Howard Kilpatrick, wildlife biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said white squirrels are not common and, as easy targets by predators, often don’t live too long.

Approximately 80 percent of the white squirrels seen are  “white morphs,” or white phase grey squirrels, he said. The white morph’s coat color is caused by a naturally occurring gene.

Albinism, on the other hand, is caused by a mutated gene, according to Untamed Science.

Those are much more rare in the state, Kilpatrick said.

“If the white squirrel also has red eyes, then it is an albino squirrel (about 20 percent of white squirrels observed),” Kilpatrick said.

Letter: CFE Concerned About Extent of Tree Trimming

Dear Editor,

As a resident of Canton, I was inspired by local children taking action to protect their natural resources (“Eversource Trimming Trees Along 52 Miles of Roadway in Canton.”).  As program director for Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE), I am deeply concerned about the extent of tree trimming occurring across the state. CFE is a state-wide non-profit working to protect and improve the land, air, and waters of Connecticut. One of our projects is educating citizens on their rights when confronting excessive utility tree trimming.

First, CFE would like to emphasize that the cutting of unhealthy trees near utility lines is beneficial and necessary to protect utility lines and citizens who drive on town roads. Additionally, moderate pruning of healthy trees is also encouraged. The problem arises when utilities begin clear-cutting healthy trees near power lines. Roadside trees have myriad economic and environmental benefits, including lowering electrical costs, increasing real estate values, reducing ground temperature, and absorbing pollutants in storm water before they reach important water bodies. Therefore, it is important to protect healthy roadside trees. … Continue Reading

Eversource Trimming Trees Along 52 Miles of Roadway in Canton

Students at Stepping Stones try and save some trees that were being cut along Route 44. Submitted Photo

Students at Stepping Stones try and save some trees that were being cut along Route 44.
Submitted Photo

By John Fitts 

CANTON — Crews working for Eversource, which transmits and delivers electricity to 149 cities and towns, are in the process of trimming trees along 52 miles of roadway in Canton.

It is part of a larger initiative that involves trimming along 4,000 miles of roadway in 132 communities – at a cost of $68 million – in 2016.

Through regular pruning, the company said it has reduced tree-caused outages 40 percent since 2011, according to a recent release.

“This work is crucial to protect our electric system, reducing the number and severity of power outages,” said company spokesman Mitch Gross. “We’re working hard to strike that right balance between aesthetics and reliable electric service.”

The trimming, which sometimes involves removal, sometimes generates the public’s attention. After the October 2011 snowstorm, many accused the company of not doing enough to clear its power lines. Since then, some say crews go too far.

At Stepping Stones Educational Center on Route 44 in Canton, young students recently participated in what was perhaps their first protest, waiving signs and saying, “Save Our Trees, Please.”

A crew trims and cuts further down along Route 44 in Canton. Submitted Photo

A crew trims and cuts further down along Route 44 in Canton.
Submitted Photo

“It’s heartbreaking to hear the children talk of all the animals that will be displaced because they continue to cut tress down each spring since that October storm a few years back,” said director LaNelle Stanhope. “One of the boys looked at me after our protest with tears in his eyes and said ‘Mrs. Stanhope they aren’t listening.’ What am I to say to that?”

Gross said crews did cut pear trees along a stretch of Route 44 between East Hill and Dyer.

“Pear trees that are not regularly trimmed can grow to heights of 40 feet and that is what happened here – the trees were growing into the lines, putting the electric system at risk,” Gross said. … Continue Reading

Town to Further Explore Potential of Combined Public Works, River Access Project

A preliminary concept for rebuilding at the current Public Works site near the Farmington River.

A preliminary concept for rebuilding at the current Public Works site near the Farmington River.

Correction: A sentence was omitted from an earlier version of this story, making a statement from CAO Robert Skinner appear as if it were from selectman Bill Canny. I apologize for the error. 

By John Fitts 

CANTON – On Wednesday night the Board of Selectmen voted to get an additional price estimate for a combined town garage and river access/recreation project on the current site of the Public Works Facility along the Farmington River. If all goes well, a plan could be included on the November ballot.

In mid January, town staff presented selectmen with a preliminary idea for a new approximate 15,000 square foot garage burrowed near Route 179 with an additional 1,500 square-foot salt shed and new access road. It would also include public access to the Farmington River and improving other recreational amenities and public restrooms.

Partially based on schematics for past proposals, town project administrator gave a rough price estimate of $3.8 million.

On Wednesday, selectmen authorized Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner to spend as much as $4,700 of leftover grant funds for the project to get an outside price estimate. Additionally, selectmen voted to refer the matter to the Permanent Municipal Building Committee for its input and to potentially see if it can come up with a few alternate sites. … Continue Reading

DEEP: New Species of ‘Rock Snot’ Discovered

March 10, 2016 Environment No Comments
Rock snot (Didymosphenia hullii) is currently “blooming”, meaning growing rapidly, in the West Branch of the Farmington River, Barkhamsted.  Anyone coming in contact with the river in this area should help to prevent the spread to other waters by practicing “Check, Clean, Dry” of their fishing boots, boats, or other equipment.

Rock snot (Didymosphenia hullii) is currently “blooming”, meaning growing rapidly, in the West Branch of the Farmington River, Barkhamsted.  Anyone coming in contact with the river in this area should help to prevent the spread to other waters by practicing “Check, Clean, Dry” of their fishing boots, boats, or other equipment.

Submitted Release 

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced that Diba Khan-Bureau, Ph.D., Professor at Three Rivers Community College and Mike Beauchene, Supervising Fisheries Biologist with the Inland Fisheries Division of DEEP have discovered new species of microscopic algae in Connecticut.

In their recently published article in the European Journal of Phycology (the study of algae), Khan-Bureau and Beauchene reveal a new species to the world, Didymosphenia hullii, and a species new to Connecticut, Cymbella janischii. Both belong to a notorious group of microscopic algae collectively termed “Rock Snot.”

History of Rock Snot

“Rock snot” first made headlines when pristine New Zealand trout streams became overrun with thick sticky mats of a diatom, Didimosphenia geminata aka Didymo for short.  These mats are comprised of multiple individual stalks, each supporting one or more coke bottle shaped cells.  Didymo is not native to New Zealand, and it was hypothesized that it was transported inadvertently by a fisherman’s boots or fishing equipment. This incredible growth sparked concern worldwide about Didymo and possible negative consequences to trout waters around the globe.

Rock Snot in Connecticut

The first report of Didymo in Connecticut came in March, 2011 when an angler reported seeing what appeared to be a small tuft of Didymo in the West Branch of the Farmington River, Barkhamsted. … Continue Reading

DEEP: Protect our National Symbol – Do Not Feed Bald Eagles  

 

Providing food for bald eagles may seem like a good way to help wildlife and also get a close-up view of an impressive animal, but according to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, feeding eagles can be detrimental and the activity is expressly prohibited by both state and federal law. Paul J. Fusco/DEEP Wildlife Division

Providing food for bald eagles may seem like a good way to help wildlife and also get a close-up view of an impressive animal, but according to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, feeding eagles can be detrimental and the activity is expressly prohibited by both state and federal law.
Paul J. Fusco/DEEP Wildlife Division

Submitted Release 

Providing food for bald eagles may seem like a good way to help wildlife and also get a close-up view of an impressive animal, but according to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), feeding eagles can be detrimental and the activity is expressly prohibited by both state and federal law.

“Providing an easy meal to wildlife during cold weather may seem like a good idea, but often has unintended consequences,” said Rick Jacobson, DEEP Wildlife Division Director. “When bald eagles concentrate around a food source, birds will often fight over access to the food. Mature adults have been known to attack juvenile birds to drive them away from the food source.” Bald eagles are armed with strong bills and razor-sharp talons, and fights over food can result in exhaustion and severe injuries, both of which can decrease an eagle’s chance of survival over winter and limit fitness entering the spring breeding season. Additionally, long-term feeding can cause birds to look to humans as reliable providers of food, and also alter how far juvenile birds disperse from their birthplace.

As we learned from the impact of the pesticide DDT, eagles are very sensitive to chemicals and toxins in their food. Carcasses of animals, like deer, coyotes, or rats, may contain toxic contaminants that are harmful. Raw meat purchased from a grocer may contain bacterial hazards, such as salmonella or veterinary medications. Creating artificial feeding areas where eagles congregate also increases the risk of spreading wildlife diseases. … Continue Reading

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