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Images of Canton: ‘Gritty Ditties from River City’

Kate McAllister with one of her “Gritty Ditties from River City.” Blurring added in Photoshop. Photo by John Fitts

By John Fitts

COLLINSVILLE – Multi, multi-media artist Kate McAllister is always seeking inspiration. This winter that’s come via the fine art of cussing.

It’s often in winter that McAllister, who has operated River City Art Center since 2010, creates a themed body of work. The latest is “Gritty Ditties from River City,” a series of beautiful, eye-catching work that happens to contain a rude sentiment or a vulgarity or two.

“I’m always re-inventing myself, always,” said McAllister. “This is just hysterical and there’s just so much material . . . In this day and age, we need something to laugh at.”

In the past few weeks, McAllister has created more than two dozen original pieces, mostly watercolors, to use as templates for posters, cards, magnets and a bevy of other products.

While she keeps the body of work hidden from her students, many friends and colleagues have seen the material, provided positive feedback and wanted to purchase items.

“The response has been utterly ridiculous,” McAllister said.

McAllister said the idea builds on some commercially available adult coloring books that feature profanity. For inspiration, she’s drawn ideas from friends, area residents and online dictionaries that feature obscure profanity and combinations.

A friend helped come up with the Gritty Ditties name.

McAllister has started posting the work at http://www.rivercityartcenter.com in a subset under the galleries section. (Please do not visit if you are a minor or easily offended). … Continue Reading

Agency Donates $500 Each to Canton, Simsbury Police Departments

February 4, 2016 Business, Community, Police No Comments
Agents at Coldwell Banker's Simsbury Office recently donated $500 to the Simsbury and Canton Police Departments. Photo by John Fitts

Agents at Coldwell Banker’s Simsbury Office recently donated $500 to the Simsbury and Canton Police Departments.
Photo by John Fitts

Agents from Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage recently donated $500 each to the Canton and Simsbury police departments.

Representatives from the office presented the checks earlier this month.

Agent Katie French said she and her colleagues wanted to donate a portion of their earnings on a local level.

“We’re just happy to help,” she said. “We wanted to do something more locally.”

The donation comes with no specific requirement and Canton Police Chief Christopher Arciero said the department will find a way to use it that has the most benefit for the community.

Energy Company Proposes Simsbury Solar Farm

February 3, 2016 Business, Environment No Comments

An energy company known more for its wind projects is proposing a solar farm on 153 acres in the vicinity of Route 10 in Simsbury, near the Granby town line.

A subsidiary of  Providence, Rhode Island based Deepwater Wind Holdings, LLC is looking to build a 26.4 megawatt-AC solar power generating facility on three separate sites, according to a proposal filed with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. It would be dubbed the Simsbury Solar Farm.

Deepwater, according to its application, developed the Block Island Wind Farm – “the first offshore wind farm in America.”

The Deepwater proposal is one of 30 different possible projects submitted to the DEEP – in conjunction with officials in Massachusetts and Rhode Island –  as part of the agency’s clean energy Request for Proposals. State law allows DEEP to select projects that could collectively meet 15 percent of the state’s energy demands.

“We’re pleased with the response to this historic RFP, based on our initial look at the number of responses, and the creativity and ambition of the projects proposed,” DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee stated via a press release.  “This is good news for Connecticut’s ratepayers and signals the very real potential for us to deliver a cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy future for residents and businesses of our state.” … Continue Reading

Canton Officials Provide Update on Collinsville Hydroelectric Project

Photo by John Fitts

Photo by John Fitts

By John Fitts

On Wednesday night, town officials provided the Board of Selectmen with an update on the proposed hydroelectric project at the Collinsville upper dam.

Additionally, selectmen held a closed-door session to discuss ongoing negotiations on the proposed public-private partnership with Canton Hydro, LLC to develop the site. No action was taken.

During the public presentation, Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner presented a historic overview, the current proposal, related legislation and more.

The hydro facility has its roots in a timber dam built in 1837 by the Collins Company, according to the town’s presentation. The company built the current stone masonry upper dam in 1867 and the powerhouse in 1935. … Continue Reading

Canton Education Foundation, Shoppes Donate $5,000 to the Canton School District

January 27, 2016 Business, Community, Schools No Comments
Sarah Ward, treasurer of the Canton Education Foundation presents $5,000, sponsored by the Shoppes at Farmington Valley, for STEM education. From left are assistant superintendent Dr. Jordan Grossman, Ward and Julie Auseré, Board of Education Chair. Photo by John Fitts

Sarah Ward, treasurer of the Canton Education Foundation presents $5,000, sponsored by the Shoppes at Farmington Valley, for STEM education. From left are assistant superintendent Dr. Jordan Grossman, Ward and Julie Auseré, Board of Education Chair.
Photo by John Fitts

On Wednesday evening, Sarah Ward, treasurer of the Canton Education Foundation, presented the Board of Education with a check for $5,000, sponsored by the Shoppes at Farmington Valley. Administrators said the funds will be used for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiatives throughout the school district. Those include basic 3-D printing education via  “3Doodlers,” Cubelets robot construction devices and Makey Makey computer invention kits.

Additionally on Wednesday, the board accepted two other donations. The Cherry Brook Primary School Parent Teacher Organization donated $3,500 for transportation costs association with field trips. Canton girls basketball coach Brian Medeiros donated money to fund away jerseys for his team. Expected cost is $510.

Tacos Dorados, Momma Mia’s Close Their Doors

January 22, 2016 Business No Comments
Momma Mia's Italian Bistro, which opened last fall, is now closed. Photo by John Fitts

Momma Mia’s Italian Bistro, which opened last fall, is now closed.
Photo by John Fitts

Two Canton restaurants on Route 44 have closed in recent days, according to information provided to Canton Compass.

Tacos Dorados, at 144 Albany Turnpike, which opened in December of 2014, is now “closed for good,” general manager Geraldo Dorado stated in a return email message to Canton Compass. He declined to elaborate further. Building co-owner Eric Leong said the partners still need to figure out their next steps.

“We haven’t entirely decided yet,” he said.

Just in December, Tacos Dorados had revamped its menu and marketed a new subtitle as an “authentic Mexican Grill,” a departure from its earlier mix of Mexican and Italian Cuisine.

Tacos Dorados represented the first new signs of life after Char Koon 1800 closed in early 2012. For nearly 30 years prior, the spot was home to the popular Margarita’s Restaurant. Area residents on Facebook have consistently urged owners to rebuild the upstairs bar area, a very popular spot during the Margarita’s era. The building dates back to the early 1800s and in Canton’s Bicentennial Commemorative book published in 2006, the late Dr. Larry Carlton states Joseph Dailey, a carriage maker, built it.

Momma Mia’s Italian Bistro, at 192 Albany Turnpike, had just opened in the fall of 2015 but has already shuttered.  … Continue Reading

Residents at Town Meeting Favorable to Exploring Tax Increment Financing for Collins Co. Complex, Village of Collinsville

Neil Pade, the town's director of planning and community development, talks about the concept of Tax Increment Financing. Photo by John Fitts

Neil Pade, the town’s director of planning and community development, talks about the concept of Tax Increment Financing.
Photo by John Fitts

By John Fitts 

On Wednesday night, attendees at the annual town meeting took a non-binding vote to support the town’s efforts to create a Tax Increment Financing District Master Plan in hopes of encouraging re-development of the Collins Company complex.

Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is the idea to use some of the additional tax revenues a project would generate and put them back into the project itself or into related area improvements, such as public infrastructure, land acquisition, revolving loans, façade improvements and even technical and marketing expertise. It can often be a multi-year process.

The concept is not new to Connecticut a new state law went into effect Oct. 1, 2015.  That legislation gives the town much flexibility in defining a district – or project area – deciding how to use the funds, exploring a host of financing and timing options, setting parameters and more, said Neil Pade, the town’s director of planning and community development.

“It puts the decision-making and the power to control your own fate with the municipalities themselves,” Pade said about the new legislation. “The legislature has left the door wide open for municipalities to have these discussions. Again, it’s surprisingly flexible.”

Recently the town received a $10,000 Preservation of Place grant from Connecticut Main Street Center to help develop a TIF district and Master Plan that would set the parameters on a TIF option for the factory and downtown Collinsville, should the town decide ever to move forward with one. Officials estimate the cost of a consultant to develop the plan between $12,000 and $25,000. The additional funds are expected to come from the Economic Development Agency’s marketing budget.

The town is expected to start seeking proposals later this week and the process will involve hearings and other public input and land-use approval, officials said.

Some of the complex buildings, especially in the rear, are in very poor shape. Photo by John Fitts

Some of the complex buildings, especially in the rear, are in very poor shape.
Photo by John Fitts

The Collins Company Complex, with its 19 acres and 13 buildings, is currently generating approximately $32,131 in yearly tax revenue, according to town officials. With re-development that potential is closer to $1.47 million annually, according to the presentation Wednesday (Available below).

The fate of the complex is something residents consistently ask about, officials said.

But re-development doesn’t come inexpensively. Construction costs would likely be close to $72 million, Pade said Wednesday.

But TIF gives the town a tool that could spur interest, officials said. Pade said the process of developing the plan would allow the town to bring in someone who can answer the unknowns, talk about the various options and help the town be proactive. Certainly, it’s worth exploring, Pade said.

“Are we willing to take steps to generate that revenue instead of waiting to see what happens?” Pade asked. “I think we need to have that discussion.”

Resident David Sinish praised the presentation and the idea.

“If all goes as projected, then Canton’s going to have the money to do the infrastructure costs we are lacking,” he said. … Continue Reading

Connecticut Main Street Formally Announces $10,000 Grant for ‘Tax Increment Financing Master Plan’

January 18, 2016 Business, Government No Comments
Photo by John Fitts

Photo by John Fitts

Topic to be Discussed at Annual Town Meeting on Wednesday Night

By John Fitts 

Last week, Connecticut Main Street Center formally announced that it had awarded a $10,000 Preservation of Place grant to the town to develop a ‘Tax Increment Financing Master Plan for Collinsville Center & the Collins Company Complex.’

As defined by the main street center Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is “an investment in a specified area is repaid over time using the increased tax revenue generated by the investment.”

Utilizing a recently revamped state law, town officials are hoping that TIF could potentially help spur development of the historic Collins Company factory complex.  There are different financing options and town officials said the process would not obligate the town to pursue a TIF plan. … Continue Reading

Tidal River Brewing Opens Its Doors in Canton

January 8, 2016 Business, Community, Photos No Comments

By John Fitts

CANTON – It was billed as the “softest of openings” but business was steady at Tidal River Brewing Co. on Friday night.

“It’s encouraging,” said owner Geoff Mattheis, adding that he was grateful that so many were purchasing beer in 32 and 64 oz. growlers.

It was nearly a year ago that Mattheis received approval from the town of Canton to open in a 2,000 square-foot facility at 15 Cheryl Drive.

He had originally hoped to open the doors much sooner and even now has a “provisional” license from the state. While that doesn’t allow to distribute, Mattheis can sell directly at the facility.

“It’s a huge relief just to be able to have the community in here,” Mattheis said. … Continue Reading

Ski Sundown Enthusiastically Welcomes Skiers and Snowboarders

January 8, 2016 Business, Community No Comments

By John Fitts 

NEW HARTFORD/CANTON – It might have been the latest opening in the Ski Sundown’s history, but owner Robert Switzgable was thrilled to welcome skiers and snowboarders Friday.

“This is the latest we’ve opened but we’re open with 10 trails and we’re really happy to be open and just are looking forward to a good season and to this being a faded memory,” he said.

Having been ready to go since Thanksgiving, the mountain had a little down time over the past several weeks and launched Operation WTF (where’s the fun, of course), a social media campaign that included a popular spoof on Adele’s Hello.

“Well we had nothing else to do,” Switzgable joked on Friday. “We were trying to make fun of it. We’ve been ready since Thanksgiving and finally Mother Nature came around and gave us some cold weather. Every year is different and we’re optimistic that this is going to turn into a good year.”

Canton native Francis Marfyak Jr. came out to the mountain on Friday. … Continue Reading


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