Archive for May 2008
>Have you been following the controversy over Torrington Mayor Ryan Bingham’s plan to utilize the city’s college tuition reimbursement program?
The latest (click here for story) is that Mayor Bingham and his administrative assistant, Stephen Nocera, have changed their minds in the face of taxpayer protest, and have revoked their $11,500 request for tuition payments. They plan to pay their own way for grad school courses at UConn.
Obviously, they get and most everyone gets why there was a backlash to this. When city and school services are being cut, taxes in this state are outrageous, and cost of living increases in other areas ($4.23 a gallon when I filled my tank last night on East Main Street) are out of control.
My question, though, is what does this say about how the region must adapt to a new generation of leadership?
Ryan Bingham is one of the youngest mayors ever elected in Connecticut, in what is the oldest county in the state.
Is he a once-in-a-few-decades anomaly, or can we cultivate other young people to step into roles of leadership in public service, business and charity in Northwest Connecticut?
As a politician, Mayor Bingham might have misread the tuition request issue, but as policy, how are we going to compete against job offers that our young people receive from Boston, Manhattan and elsewhere?
Are we behind the times in knowing what 20-somethings and 30-somethings need and demand from the workplace today in terms of technology, benefits, flexibility and … yes, continuing education and career development in the form of things like tuition reimbursement?
The Bingham-Nocera tuition reimbursement controversy is dead, and it probably should be.
But the community does need to talk about how to engage, challenge and retain its best and brightest.
Here’s the good news: The Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce is forming a new group to explore just that topic.
The first meeting of its Young Professionals Forum will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at the Chamber office at 333 Kennedy Drive in Torrington. Call 860-482-6586 for more information or RSVP online by clicking here.
>The Register Citizen has published its first local news video at www.registercitizen.com, the first of many.
Click here to check out a video report on downtown redevelopment efforts that includes interviews with downtown business owners and Torrington Mayor Ryan Bingham.
The newspaper business is changing.
For you, the reader, that means we’ll be presenting local news in new ways. In addition to the stories you read daily in our print edition …
- you can access an archive of past stories 24 hours a day on our Web site.
- you can read breaking news stories throughout the day rather than waiting for the print edition to arrive on your doorstep once a day.
- you can see and hear story subjects through audio slideshows and local videos.
- you can read online-only features like Mike Driscoll’s Torrington Guy blog.
And this stuff is just the beginning. Stay tuned, and let us know what you think.
>I’ve taken the pledge, and I’m inviting our male readers to do the same.
Torrington’s Susan B. Anthony Project, which runs a shelter and numerous other services for victims of domestic violence, is enlisting men from Northwest Connecticut to take part in its White Ribbon Campaign.
The only commitment asked of you is to add your name to the White Ribbon Pledge for Men and Boys.
And the pledge is simple: “I promise to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women, sexual assault and domestic violence.”
Remember that famous quote, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”
Here’s a simple way to teach young men in our community about respect for the women in their lives.
Click here to take the pledge.
>The Register Citizen will be doing something special this Memorial Day.
In Monday’s paper, we are printing a special section listing the names and hometowns of every American soldier who has lost his or her life in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.
When you see this in print, I think you will find it sobering and powerful.
For starters, these names, nearly 5,000 of them, printed in small type with nothing else on the page, will take up a full 8 broadsheet pages in our newspaper.
This effort is in no way meant to be political. It’s not a statement of any kind about the war in Iraq or about politics.
It’s about honoring a new generation of brave young men and women who have given their lives for our country.
Pick up a copy of the section in Monday’s paper. We’ll be printing some extras as well, and you can obtain copies next week by contacting our circulation department at 860-489-1450.
>When a businessperson decides to make a new investment in Torrington, what can or should the community, city government and business leaders do to welcome it?
What if that investment was in the downtown, where investment is sorely needed?
What if that investment had the potential to spin off additional business for downtown restaurants and shops by bringing more people into the city for an afternoon or evening of entertainment?
No, I’m not talking about the Warner Theatre, although there’s certainly some parallels considering the grumbling that has taken place recently about its tax-exempt status and its growing downtown footprint.
I’m talking about the Torrington Twisters, its new ownership, and its decision to raise ticket prices this summer.
The Twisters were in desperate need of the energy and businessperson’s approach that new owner Robin Wadsworth has brought to the organization.
If NECBL baseball is going to work in Torrington, it needs to be financially viable. Do the math. It’s a wonder that the team didn’t just shut down years ago with $3 ticket prices.
Charging $6 isn’t going to make anyone money. It’s going to, maybe, keep the team afloat and provide some baseline of funding to reinvest into making Twisters baseball in Torrington a better-known and bigger regional draw for the downtown.
And $6 is still less than the price of a movie, less than most value meals at McDonald’s, less than a beer at Yankee Stadium, less than two gallons of gas, less than a pack of cigarettes.
Yet we have politicians proposing to pull part-time police protection for Twisters games from the Recreation Department budget because the team has the gall to put the ticket price up to a bigger fraction of what it’s worth … and still far below what it would likely take to pay the team’s costs.
Sometimes, while bemoaning the deficit of good things coming to Torrington, we don’t do enough to appreciate and invest in the good things that we already have going for us.
Let’s hope that, in spite of this, the Twisters find a way to make it work in Torrington before another community, say Bristol, Middletown, Westport, or numerous other communities inside Connecticut and elsewhere in New England, realizes the benefit an NECBL baseball team could be to their downtown.
>Why can’t we attract more manufacturing business to Northwest Connecticut?
Just how important is tourism to the area’s economy?
Why do some of our brightest young people move away to pursue careers and even be entrepreneurs in other parts of the state or country?
These are some of the questions Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce President JoAnn Ryan wants to answer as the Chamber and other leaders of business, government and education in our part of the state chart their priorities over the next few years, communicate with our legislators in Hartford and formulate a message to the outside business world about why Northwest Connecticut is the place to be.
We need local business owners and managers to keep an eye out this summer for word about an important survey being undertaken by the Chamber, in cooperation with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.
It will take about 20 minutes to respond, but it can be done online. By responding, you will be helping yourself!
This information will be used to help the Chamber identify the areas in which it needs to concentrate, it will be used to show legislators what the state can do (or avoid doing) to help spur business growth, and it will be used to market Northwest Connecticut for potential business investment.
>Due to popular demand, The Register Citizen has greatly expanded its daily TV channel listings.
Effective this past Sunday, we switched from a small grid of prime time-only listings, to a far more extensive grid that is spread over two pages and covers a daily time period from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.
The listings were too big to fit in their old spot on the comics page, so in that space, we have now anchored our popular daily Sudoku puzzle and our “Today in History” column.
And where “Today in History” used to appear on the editorial page, we will be offering more commentary as well as new features such as today’s “Ask the AP” column, which answers readers’ questions on a variety of national news topics.
Back to the TV listings … for you night owls, and those of you who have cable or satellite systems offering 4 million channels, on our Web site, http://www.registercitizen.com/, we also offer interactive TV listings that cover 24 hours a day and an extensive listing of niche channels. You type in your zip code, and it will even automatically customize your listings to your local cable system. Click here to go directly to those listings and try it out.
>Slideshows from local events are a new feature of The Register Citizen’s Web site, www.registercitizen.com.
Right now, you’ll find slideshows of photos from Winsted’s annual Pet Parade over the weekend and T-Fest. There are also slideshows from a few weeks ago on President Bush’s visit to Kent and local officials’ tour of area Brownfields properties.
>Former U.S. Congressman Rob Simmons spoke at Thomaston Savings Bank’s annual Business Breakfast this morning, and after hearing him speak, I wouldn’t be surprised if he throws his hat in as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Chris Dodd in 2010, or a candidate for governor if and when Jodi Rell decides to step down.
The breakfast, first of all, was the best-attended in the 10 years that Thomaston Savings Bank has held it. More than 160 local businesspeople attended.
And Thomaston Savings Bank, in addition to providing the free meal, had some interesting stuff to talk about, including its new online business banking program, and a neat check scanning machine it can provide to customers that allows them to deposit their money immediately from their own office, without making the old trip to a bank branch with deposit bag in hand.
Simmons lost to Democrat Joe Courtney last time by only 82 votes in an election where well-liked moderate Republicans all over the country were being swept out of office over dissatisfaction with President Bush and the war in Iraq.
He’s got a great resume – Vietnam War veteran, Army reserve, a career in the CIA, 10 years in the Connecticut Legislature, and six years in Congress.
And with an appointment by Gov. Rell as the state’s new “Business Advocate,” Simmons has the chance to gain exposure beyond his Congressional district. This could set him up perfectly for a run for statewide office, and his talk about small business today sounded like a political stump speech.
It seemed to impress the crowd at this breakfast, including this attendee, and was a great introduction for Simmons to community leaders in a part of the state that’s not familiar with him.
>Did you know that hundreds of local photos are available at www.registercitizen.com to view and to purchase?
And effective today, we’ve reduced our rates to make the purchase of glossy reprints more accessible and affordable to our readers.
Now a 5-by-7-inch glossy reprint is only $7, an 8-by-10 is only $11.95, an 11-by-14 is $14.95, and you can by a poster-sized 16-by-20-inch glossy print of one of our photos for only $29.95.
When one of our photographers covers a high school softball game, fishing derby or school spelling bee, they take far more photos than can make it into the print edition of the paper. Visiting the online photo store at www.registercitizen.com will allow you to see all of the shots they took from the event you’re interested in.
To access The Register Citizen’s online photo store directly, click here.