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The face of an epidemic: Local family hopes their story will help others dealing with addiction

March 6, 2017 Uncategorized No Comments

From left are Sheri, Dorie and Samantha Seger.

Correction: The wording in an earlier version of the following editor’s note led some to believe that one of the speakers specifically named below is a recovering addict. Please note that is not the case. We regret the error. 

Editor’s Note: A “Substance Abuse Prevention and the Opioid/Heroin Epidemic” forum takes place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday March 9 at the Canton Community Center, 40 Dyer Ave. Please consider attending to find resources, talk to experts and hear speakers. Approximately 20 different organizations, including state departments, hospital, recovery networks, legal experts, policy advocates, emergency personnel and others will host booths. The event will also include remarks by a recovering addict and remarks from speakers Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, commissioner of the state department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Canton resident Maria Coutant Skinner, executive director at the McCall Center for Behavioral Health. 

By John Fitts 

CANTON — Throughout her life, Samantha Jean Seger would easily make new friends as she would go through phases and delve into new hobbies and interests.

She’d spend time as a hippie, punk rock, and country girl, and later found an interest in everything from cars to emergency medical training.

“It seemed like she was trying to reinvent herself,” said her father, Dan Seger. “She was trying to find where she fit best.”

“She was a chameleon,” added her sister Sheri.

Sheri remembers her sister as “fierce, wild and loud.”

Samantha collected comic books and geodes, but she also followed her older sister Dorie’s lead and added a little outrageousness. When Dorie – who was, admittedly, “way too young” – went to a tattoo and piercing parlor at age 15, Samantha did one better and went at age 12.

“She would do [things] a little more outrageously than I did,” Dorie said.

Another time, Samantha took a $500 dare, gave herself a Mohawk and dyed it. The instigator skipped town without paying but the hairstyle was memorable.

“She could make anyone laugh,” Sheri said. “She did so much stupid, funny stuff. She’s the person who would shave off her eyebrows to draw new ones on and be like, ‘I thought it was good idea, but it looks weird now.’ She’d meet a person, her new best friend, and say, ‘OK, I’m going to marry this guy tomorrow.’” … Continue Reading

‘Substance Abuse Prevention and the Opioid/Heroin Epidemic’ Program Takes Place March 9

March 6, 2017 Community, Health No Comments

By John Fitts 

CANTON — On Thursday, March 9, Canton’s year of “Shining the Spotlight on Mental Wellness” kicks into high gear with an educational presentation, forum and resource fair on substance abuse prevention and the opioid/heroin epidemic. People from any town are encouraged to attend the free event.

Opioids, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, bind to the “opioid receptors, on cells found in many areas of the brain,” particularly those than control pain and pleasure.

Breathing, arousal and blood pressure are controlled by such receptors and overdoses of opioids generally result in slowed or zero breathing.

Heroin, derived from the morphine gathered from Asian poppy plants, is readily available, inexpensive and often becomes a substitute for other opioids.

Approximately 20 different organizations, including state departments, hospital, recovery networks, legal experts, policy advocates, emergency personnel and others will host booths at the March 9 “Substance Abuse Prevention and the Opioid/Heroin Epidemic” program.

It will include remarks from a recovering addict, as well as speakers Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, commissioner of the state department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Canton resident Maria Coutant Skinner, executive director at the McCall Center for Behavioral Health.

People can come and learn about the signs of addiction, common pathways to it, most affected age groups, risk factors, ways to help those affected and much more.  … Continue Reading

Canton Volunteer Firefighters Respond to Brush Fire on Robin Drive

March 5, 2017 Fire No Comments

Residents Assist in Keeping Area Safe Until Fire Crews Arrive

Submitted Release, Photos by Myles Angell, Kevin Carley & Sylvia Cancela 

The town of Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department responded to a dispatch for a large brush fire behind a residence at 148 Robin Drive at 1:20 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

Upon arrival, Canton fire crews on: Engines 1 and 3, Tanker 7, Squad 5 and Canton’s Ambulance found a 100 x 200 fire quickly spreading up a hill, towards a shed by a residence. Neighbors used rakes and other tools to keep dry leaves/brush away from the area until fire crews arrived.

“These efforts by the neighbors kept the fire from extending further,” said Department Chief Craig Robbins. … 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.

‘Modified’ Code Yellow at Two Canton Schools Friday

March 3, 2017 Community, Schools No Comments

Two Canton schools have been placed on a “Modified Code Yellow” Friday. The issue is related to the controversy – and fallout – following a controversial incident at a Canton High School basketball game earlier this week when some students yelled “Trump, Trump, Trump” while an opposing team was on the foul line.

School officials said the tone used in the comments made it inappropriate. The incident, and reaction to it, have stirred much controversy in town and well beyond.

The incident also resulted in social media posts some parents took as threatening to Canton schools and case said outdoor recess was canceled at Cherry Brook and Canton Intermediate to allay fears.

“With the concern many parents have, I want to be sure all students are in a safe environment,” Case told Canton Compass in a message.

For more on the incident, see our previous story and next week’s Valley Press, which will include other perspectives.

Following is Case’s email to parents.

“I am writing this message to you as a follow-up to my message to you last evening. As I wrote last evening, there are no credible threats against any of our schools. As a safety precaution, however, I wanted you to know that I placed Cherry Brook Primary School and Canton Intermediate School in a modified Code Yellow status this afternoon which means that there is no outdoor recess.

Parents are free to enter and leave the building as normal.

As always, we want our students to feel safe and secure in our schools. Student safety is our top priority.

Have a good afternoon and a good weekend.

Sincerely,

Kevin D. Case

Superintendent of Schools”

Canton Girls Advance to Quarterfinals

March 2, 2017 Schools, Sports No Comments

Emily Briggs scored 26 points and Belle Magna added 15 to lead Canton to a 70-40 win over Windham in the second round of the Class S girls basketball state tournament.
Leading 38-34 at halftime, Canton outscored Windham 32-6 in the last two quarters.
No. 3 seed Canton, the reigning state champion, hosts No. 22 Windsor Locks in the quarterfinals March 7 at 7 p.m.
See more in next week’s Valley Press.
– Dave Heuschkel

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

School officials: In context, ‘Trump,Trump, Trump’ chant perceived as ‘divisive’

March 1, 2017 Community, Schools 10 Comments

Editor’s Note: We are working to get more perspectives on this story. Please see more in next week’s Valley Press. If anyone would like to speak on the incident, please email jfitts@turleyct.com, I’d especially love to talk to people who attended the game. 

By John Fitts 

CANTON — Following alleged chants of “Trump, Trump, Trump” by some Canton students to an opposing team during a Tuesday evening basketball game, school officials have gone on record saying the behavior was perceived “divisive” and “disrespectful.”

The incident came during a boys game against Hartford-based Classical Magnet School when approximately 7 to 8 Canton students  yelled “Trump, Trump, Trump” while the opponents were on the free-throw line, said Superintendent Kevin  D. Case. On Thursday, Case said the tone of the chants was at issue, more than the exact words.

Two school administrators curtailed the activity at the game but Case acknowledged that some of the kids continued it after the game.

Some in the community are contending the students chose a patriotic theme for costume night and were reacting to an anti-Trump atmosphere in the schools. Others feel the chant clearly had racist overtones.

Following the incident that night, community members from both teams expressed their disappointment and the students were spoken to, Case said. Additionally, administrators met with the entire student body on Wednesday.

In a letter to parents, principal Andrew F. DiPippo said “many people perceived these comments to be divisive in the context of an athletic event.”

“While students’ right to free speech and forming educated opinions about politics and current events is a cornerstone of our education system, the exact point where political opinion converges with disrespect, discrimination, or hate speech must be separated,” he, in part, wrote. “We have a reputation as a welcoming community, and these students crossed this line with their comments and have damaged our reputation. As principal, I am disheartened that our message of community has not resonated with all students.” … Continue Reading

Your Silent Neighbors: Charles A. Farnham, Heroic Banker

March 1, 2017 Community, History No Comments

By David Leff 
Town Historian 

Charles A. Farnham (1851-1939) came to Collinsville in 1872 and worked for the Collins Company for 43 years, retiring in 1916.  He served as president of the Collinsville savings Society from 1917 to 1938.  For many years he was superintendent and treasurer of the Collinsville Water Company.

A serious-looking and dignified gentleman, Farnham was present when the bank was robbed in May 1935 by three armed gunman who made off with just over $2,000.  At age 84, infirm and slightly deaf, Farnham was ordered by the thieves to get down on the floor with the other employees.  Fearing his weak heart would prevent him from getting up again, he gravely shook his head “no.”  Instead he sat in a chair.  “Regardless of what you fellows do,” he announced defiantly, “I’m going to sit here and take one of these pills.”  Pulling a small box from his pocket, Farnham opened it and swallowed the medication.  The robbery was the talk of the town, but it was the elderly bank president’s resolute bravery in facing down the brazen gunmen that dominated conversation. … Continue Reading

Canton Officer Praised for New Hartford water rescue

February 28, 2017 Community, Police No Comments

Officer Andrew Schiffer

By John Fitts 

NEW HARTFORD – While the story ends sadly, a Canton police officer is being heralded for his bravery in rescuing an elderly man from the waters of the Farmington River Monday.

It was approximately 11:30 a.m. when state police spotted a 70-year-old New Hartford man in the Farmington River in New Hartford in the vicinity of the River Run complex on Route 44.

State police, New Hartford and Winsted ambulance crews, as well as volunteer fire departments from New Hartford, Nepaug and Canton, responded to the scene on the west side of the river but, due to a deep, fast-flowing channel of water, were hampered from immediately reaching the man.

Canton police officer Andrew Schiffer was asked to travel up Farmington River Turnpike on the east side of the river. A portion of that road is closed and blocked off during the winter and Schiffer had to reach the scene on foot. … Continue Reading

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