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Canton Shines Spotlight on Opioid Crisis

The town of Canton Mental Health Task Force officially kicked off its Year of Mental Wellness programming on March 9 with a special presentation on the opioid crisis.

The event featured remarks from recovering addict Laura Shafer as well as a presentation from Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, commissioner of the state department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and remarks from Canton resident Maria Coutant Skinner, executive director at the McCall Center for Behavioral Health.

See more on the program in this week’s Valley Press. Additionally the presentations from the meeting can be seen below and the program can be viewed on Nutmeg Television via http://nutmegtv.org/video-on-demand/single/?id=34342. … Continue Reading

First Selectman’s Corner: A Budget Update

Leslee Hill

Dear Canton Residents,

I am sure many of you have been following the news from Hartford regarding Governor Malloy’s state budget proposal and its potential impact on town budgets. There is still great uncertainty about what the final state budget will entail, and it is likely the state will not adopt a budget before June. However, given the Governor’s proposal, we are concerned about the impact of anticipated significant reductions in state funding for education, and a potential liability for one-third of the cost of the teacher pensions. The Board of Selectmen and Board of Education have worked diligently to prepare their budgets, which have been approved by each Board and delivered to the Board of Finance for their consideration. I want to explain how we considered the state budget issues as we formulated the BOS budget. … Continue Reading

Town to Relinquish Ownership of Grange Building

The grange building in North Canton.

By John Fitts 

CANTON – Calling it unfortunate, Canton selectmen nonetheless have decided to let go of the North Canton Grange building.

The board recently voted to authorize Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner to make arrangements to give the building to the state grange association.

In September of 2013, the town accepted the building as a gift from members of the dissolved Cherry Brook Patrons of Husbandry Grange #210.

In the fall of 2016, Boy Scout Troop 177 came forward with an offer to perform some of the necessary repairs, which town officials estimate to be nearly $145,000, a much higher figure than repair estimates a few years ago.

Even with the Scouts’ offer, officials said the town would still be responsible for approximately $100,000 in upgrades. Additionally the $4,500 in annual costs would rise to $11,600 once the building was refurbished, officials said.

Selectmen said it was unfortunate but felt the town could not take on the project, particularly in this economic climate.

See more in this week’s Valley Press.

First Selectman’s Corner: ‘Substance Abuse Prevention and the Opioid Epidemic’ is Topic of March 9 Forum

Leslee Hill

This is the first of what will be an ongoing series of communications from me regarding Canton’s Year of Mental Wellness. Canton’s Mental Health Task Force has been working hard to develop a year-long Call to Action, which we will be sharing with you soon. This calendar will set forth various themes and focus areas for the coming months, along with suggested actions designed to improve your own mental wellness, or support someone else’s.

As a follow-up to the Annual Town Meeting presentation on the opioid crisis in our area, I am pleased to invite you to attend a special event on Thursday evening, March 9th, in the Canton Community Center. “Shining the Spotlight on Mental Wellness: Substance Abuse Prevention and the Opioid Epidemic” will be an informative evening for all. We will hear from featured speakers, including the State Commissioner of the Dept. of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Dr. Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon.

I am especially pleased to welcome our special guest speaker, Ms. Laura Shafer, PhD. Ms. Shafer grew up in the Farmington Valley, and will share her candid story of heroin addiction and recovery. This will be a compelling presentation that I urge you not to miss. This portion of the evening will be in Room F of the Community Center, beginning at 6pm. Another important feature of the event will be a Resource Fair, in the lower level multi-purpose room, beginning at 5:30. A wide variety of state agencies, local groups, advocacy organizations, and service providers, will be present and able to answer your questions about their services. Our hope is that you will leave this event with a better understanding of how the opioid crisis is affecting your friends and neighbors in Canton and the Farmington Valley, how to recognize signs of addiction in someone you care about, and where to turn for help. The speaker portion of the evening will be taped for later broadcast on Nutmeg TV, and will also be available for viewing on the Town website.    Click here to view the flyer for more information.

I hope to see you on March 9th, and I look forward to continuing our community conversation about mental wellness throughout the coming months.

Best regards,
Leslee B. Hill
First Selectman

Board of Education to Host Budget Hearing, Selectmen to Continue Discussion

February 21, 2017 Budget, Government, Schools No Comments

The newly adopted town seal.

CANTON — There will be several relevant meetings this week as local officials continue to grapple with how to refine their 2017-18 budget plans in light of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget proposal that includes steep cuts in state aid. 

With recent budget proposals by Schools superintendent Kevin D. Case and Chief Administrative Officer Robert H. Skinner, the town, under normal circumstances, would be looking at a very preliminary budget of  $38,264,351, an increase of 1.87 percent, which would result in a .22 mill rate increase, impacting the “average” taxpayer $53. And those numbers would likely be trimmed even more after further scrutiny by the boards of education, selectman and finance. 

However, this year is much different from most. The boards of education and selectmen are still reviewing the respective proposals but more importantly, the town is grappling with how to prepare for cuts proposed by the governor and whether the state legislature will restore some or all of the funding. At a recent “super board” meeting, Skinner told town officials from various boards that the governor’s reductions in state aid, combined with some additional expenses and other changes, would result in a revenue reduction of $2,117,067 for the fiscal year.If everything else were to stay the same, that average taxpayer, whose home is assessed at some $238,000, would be looking at an increase more along the lines of $707 under the governor’s plan.

Officials are hopeful that the state legislature will take action and, this week, will receive an update from state Sen. Kevin Witkos and state Rep. Tim LeGeyt. Both officials will be in town Wednesday night to provide updates – first at a Board of Education budget hearing and then to the Board of Selectmen. … Continue Reading

Canton Superintendent Proposes Budget with 1.84 Percent Increase

February 8, 2017 Budget, Government, Schools No Comments

Canton Schools superintendent Kevin D. Case has proposed a 2017-18 budget of $25,629,086, which would represent a $462,388 or 1.84 percent increase in spending over 2016-17 levels.

With the uncertainty whether the state will continue to fund education at its current levels, a $1-million plus increase in “fixed costs,” a state law stipulating that towns keep total budget increases under 2.5 percent and $1.6 million in administrator requests, educators said it was an especially difficult budget process. 

“This has been one of the most challenging budgets I’ve put together in my 10 and a half years in Canton,” Case said.

Among the cuts in the proposed budget would be the reduction of 12 full-time equivalent positions in non-certified staff. Case said specific positions have yet to be determined but those would include positions such as paraprofessionals and tutors.

“It’s a hard decision because we are not over-staffed by any means,” Case said. “These are valuable staff members – very, very difficult decision for me.” … Continue Reading

Canton CAO proposes budget with 2.44 percent increase

February 6, 2017 Budget, Government, Schools No Comments

By John Fitts 

Canton Chief Administrative Officer Robert H. Skinner has proposed a town 2017-18 spending plan of $10,589,284, an increase of $252,200 or 2.44 percent over approved 2016-17 spending levels. 

The operations budget is proposed at $9,467,568 while capital improvement funding is pegged at $1,121,716. 

A driving factor in the proposal is the state’s mandate that caps municipal expense increases to just 2.5 percent. (Just a few items are excluded).

“Obviously there were sacrifices that had to be made to meet the cap,” Skinner wrote in his budget introduction. “That is why almost half the departments have decreases in their bottom lines.”

Additionally there are no significant new initiatives in the plan, Skinner noted. 

While there is a special revenue funded increase in hours for the recreation coordinator, additional hours for the building official and the combination of two, part-time library positions to create a full-time one, there are no “new” positions in the budget. 

… Continue Reading

Area Businessman Looks to Renovate Maple Avenue Building

A rendering of the proposed improvements at 61 Maple Ave.

By John Fitts

CANTON – A locally based financial advisor is looking to renovate a long-deteriorating commercial building on Maple Avenue. 

Michael Chadwick, who runs Chadwick Financial Advisors, wants to completely renovated the 6,150-square-foot building at 61 Maple Ave. and create approximately four office spaces, one of which would be for his company. 

The applicant plans to make numerous building, landscaping and parking improvements. 

This application is due to go before the Canton Planning and Zoning Commission on Feb. 15. According to a memo from town planner Neil Pade, a public hearing is not required for a site plan application but the commission “may schedule one.” 

Please see more in this week’s edition of The Valley Press. We also plan to follow up in future editions.  

61 Maple Ave as it exists today.

Canton Annual Report Dedicated to Late, Activist Couple

January 25, 2017 Community, Government No Comments

By John Fitts 

The late Lou and Judi Friedman at Roaring Brook Nature Center.
Photo courtesy of Roaring Brook Nature Center

Assistant Editor

CANTON — The late Judi and Lou Friedman were known throughout the world for their activism but the couple also strongly believed that it started locally. 

Their actions at home included building a trend-setting energy-efficient home, instilling a love for the environment in generations of children, speaking and writing about local issues, fighting local polluters and pitching in at Roaring Brook Nature Center. 

Now, the town of Canton has dedicated its 2015-2016 annual report to the couple. The dedication was announced by First Selectman Leslee Hill at the Canton Annual town meeting Jan. 18, 2017. 

“Our sincere thanks and appreciation go out to the Friedmans for their years of continuous contributions to the Canton community – their passing has been deeply felt in the town of Canton and we appreciate and honor them through this annual report dedication,” Hill said. 

Please see more in this week’s edition of The Valley Press

 

First Selectman’s Corner: Two Important Topics at Annual Town Meeting

January 12, 2017 Community, Government No Comments

Leslee Hill

Dear Canton Residents,

Please consider this a personal invitation to attend the 2017 Annual Town Meeting. It will be held on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 7:00 pm at the Town Hall Auditorium. Two topics will be presented that evening.

The first will be an overview of economic development initiatives presented by the Town of Canton’s Economic Development Agency.

The second topic will be mental health issues in Canton, with a focus on the opioid epidemic in our area. This will be presented by Jennifer Kertanis, Director of the Farmington Valley Health District; Claire Cote, Canton’s Director of Senior and Social Services; and Maria Coutant Skinner, Executive Director at the McCall Center for Behavioral Health. These are topics that should be of interest to everyone in Canton, and I encourage you to come and learn more about them. That evening, the town will also honor, with the dedication of the 2016 Annual Report, the late Louis and Judith Friedman, who were well-known and highly respected members of the Canton community.  … Continue Reading

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