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Coronavirus Upends Public Life

Coronavirus Upends Public Life

The coronavirus which has spread around the world and forced people to retreat to the safety of their own homes has upended public life as much as the work- and marketplace.  Many meetings of municipal boards and commissions have been canceled, and those that did take place initially excluded the public, then shifted to audio only.

In keeping with Gov. Ned Lamont’s orders to keep all non-essential personnel at home, selectmen on March 24 agreed that only “essential employees will be required to report to work.”  Heller said the determination who is considered essential under current circumstances was made with input from the department heads and Administrative Officer and Finance Director Anthony Genovese.

Part-timers, in particular those who offer programs such as at the Woodbridge Center or the Recreation Department, have been laid off.  They will be eligible to file for unemployment benefits, Genovese said, and, if appropriate, will be rehired once programming resumes.

First Selectman Beth Heller said Town Hall continues to be closed to the public, but many services will be available.  Town Hall employees who are coming in to work, such as the tax collector’s office or the Town Clerk’s office, will try to stagger hours to maintain social distancing.  If people need their services, they are encouraged to call.  “The departments are beginning to form a rhythm,” Heller said.

Budgets:  The state has granted municipalities a 30-day extension to pass their budgets.  The Governor also passed an executive order to allow municipalities to adopt the budget they developed, given that no public gatherings of more than five people are allowed.

The Board of Finance, based on its work thus far, has adopted a preliminary budget of $51.3 million, of which $47.4 will have to be raised by taxes.  The mil rate would be at 42.17.  This is a very preliminary number, as the Amity budget in particular had not been set.  At the same time a number of line items may shift, given the fluid circumstances.  While some town departments may see their salary line items drop, so does the income from interest the town can expect.

The preliminary budget hearing was scheduled for April 20 and is not expected to take place; the Annual Meeting is scheduled for May 18.

Presidential Primary:  The presidential primary in Connecticut has been postponed to June 2, according to the Secretary of the State’s office.  Absentee ballot requests or those already returned will remain valid.  However, the deadline to change party affiliation has passed.

Town Clerk Stephanie Ciarleglio said new ballots will be issued, but the deadline for candidates to withdraw is not until April 27.  Currently the Democrats decide between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.  Republicans decide between Donald Trump and Rocky de la Fuente.

According to Wikipedia, De La Fuente was on the ballot in nine state primaries for United States Senate, all of which he lost.  He campaigned as a critic of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Ciarleglio said should the remaining challengers withdraw the state may not need to hold a primary.  “We are waiting for people to send their letter of withdrawal,” she said, including letters of high-profile candidates who already publicly declared the end of their presidential campaign.

May 28 is the deadline for new voters, and for unaffiliated voters, to enroll in a party for its primary.  For new voters, mail-in applications must be postmarked, or received by Registrar of Voters or town clerk by this date.  For unaffiliated voters, the mail-in application must be received (not merely postmarked) by this date.

Transfer Station:  The Transfer and Recycling Station continues to operate at its normal hours.

Recreation:  All recreation programs have been canceled and the fitness center is closed.  Bill Banik will be offering classes online.  To join, register online for the “Yoga with Bill” or T’ai Chi classes.

Human Services:  Human Services Director Jeanette Glicksman said the department is reaching out to all seniors 70 and up to make sure everybody has what they need.  They also are encouraging seniors to sign up for delivery services and to order things online rather than go to stores.

The department was working on a robocall last week to encourage people to reach out to the center.  Each call will be returned, Glicksman said.  She noted that at the time she contracted for the “robocall” there was only one number left, so the caller will be identified as “Town of Westport.”  If that’s what shows on your caller ID, it’s not a crank call.

Senior lunches:  Instead of feeding the seniors at the center, the department is delivering flash frozen meals once a week.  Last week, they distributed 61 meals, Glicksman said.  These are the regular meals provided by Jewish Senior Services, but frozen.  People have to defrost them in the microwave.  Since they are frozen, people can order several meals for the week and defrost them when needed.  Meals are $4.

The department also offers fuel assistance and has a small local food bank.  However, Glicksman said she is looking for food bank donations.  To leave donations, call the department first, at 203-389-3430, since the building is closed to the public.

Food donations:  Needed items are:  Paper bags, canned protein (chicken, salmon), spaghetti sauce, rice (brown, flavored, instant); canned potatoes, peanut butter, jelly, crackers, pancake mix and syrup, instant oatmeal.  Also, ketchup, mustard and mayo, bar soap, dish soap, body soap and laundry soap, toothpaste and deodorant, toilet paper and paper towels.

Local businesses open to the public:  Following are a number of stores that are considered essential and providing services.  It is not meant to be an exhaustive list, nor can it be guaranteed that they are still operating under the same policies in April.

Child Care Center:  As of March 26, the Woodbridge Child Care center was up and running said the director, Dawn Moretti.  “We are here, we’re hoping it stays that way,” Moretti said.  She said the town crews are cleaning the building thoroughly every day, and they are checking the temperature of staff and children on a daily basis.  If anyone coughs or displays any signs of sickness, they are sent home, she said.  “We are strict about that.”  Some spots are available.  To inquire, call (203) 389-9118.

Food and Drink

Abel Caterers is offering dinners to go for 4 people for $49.99.  Orders must be called or emailed in by 2 pm the day before.  Pick up is available between 2 and 4 pm at its Woodbridge location, 70 Bradley Road.  Free delivery is also available in Woodbridge, Bethany, and New Haven.  Call 203-389-2300 or email office@abelcaterers.com.  Menu is available on Facebook, Instagram and website. 

Blue Check Deli is offering delivery and curbside pick-up for customers (203) 387-3810, 382 Amity Road.

Paolo Ristorante—currently closed.

Deli Delish—currently closed.

Katz’s Deli & Restaurant Open for take-out (203) 389-5301, 1658 Litchfield Tpk.

Las Brasas is open for take-out (203) 553-9844, 9 Lucy Street.

Massaro Community Farm has some fresh produce, meat, eggs, dairy and jarred tomato products.  Pre-order by Wednesday to pick up on Friday at the farm, 41 Ford Road, massarofarm.org,

New England Brewing Co. Beer to-go only.  All events are canceled.  No cash is accepted.  Everything that we have on draught will be available to be taken home in a growler.  Bring a clean growler to fill or purchase a new growler.

Rise & Grind Nutrition, which prepares healthy smoothies and energy teas, is taking call ahead orders at 203-553-9911.  Customers may also purchase supplies to make the shakes and teas from home and there are discounts for nutrition and immunity essentials for home, 1652 Litchfield Turnpike.

Solun Tapas Bar & Restaurant is offering drive-through.  Call at least 15 minutes prior to pick up, (203) 298-9741, 245 Amity Roadd.

Thai Stories is open for take-out and pickup, (203) 389-3363, 16 Selden Street.

Woodbridge Social is open 12:00 pm-7:00 pm Monday-Sunday.  Take out salads, quesadillas, pizzas, sandwiches, nachos, wings, and burgers, (203) 553-9135, 12 Selden Street.

Ola – delivery, curbside, UberEats, gift cards, (203)795-0561.

Andes Gourmet Deli – half-hour appointments, 148 Amity Road, curbside pickup and discounts for family orders.

Teddy B’s – in Bethany, for take-out call (203) 393-1525.

Services

Brown Fitness & Wellness continues 1 on 1 sessions; also FaceTime sessions and Accountability coaching to any client who prefers to stay home during this time.

Mallory Grimste, LCSW:  Social distancing doesn’t have to mean Social Isolation for teens struggling with depression, anxiety, and mental health issues.  Online counseling available for Connecticut teens.  Schedule a free phone screening at mallorygrimste.com/contact.

Affordable Personal Services, Ingrid Harrison offers shopping/errands, pharmacy runs, cooking, pet care, non-medical elder care.  Certified end-of-life Doula, offering ongoing training for people that cannot get to their loved ones.  Check-ins, assisting with funeral/end of life options still can take place.

New Haven Naturopathic Center (1 Bradley Rd, Suite 503) is open Monday – Thursday by appointment only.  Telehealth visits are also available, 203-941-0366.

Retail

D’Aniello’s Amity Bicycle is open Tuesday-Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-5.  New shop restrictions are:  Locked door during open hours, doorbell for service, 1 customer in shop at a time for payment only, and no showroom browsing but still allowing test rides.  Curbside bicycle pickup and drop off.  All bikes are being washed before entrance and wiped down after service, 203-387-6734; 18 Selden Street,

Woodbridge Hardware is open for business and offers curbside pickup for those who are able to pay with a credit card over the phone, 203-397-7797, 219 Amity Road.

Woodbridge Running Company Shoppers can place an order and pick it up outside the store, or it can be mailed.  For inquiries, email don’t call – merchandise can be picked up curbside or mailed, woodbridgerunningcompany.com.

The Yarn Barn is closed to the public but orders may be placed online or via email yarnbarnct@gmail.com.

Counseling

James Killian, LPC recently opened a counseling office, Arcadian Counseling at 1 Bradley Rd, Suite 106, (203) 405-8066.

“Anxiety thrives on uncertainty,” Killian wrote on his website.  “A lot of what is happening in our world is outside our control – and anxiety lives off of fear of the unknown and what we can’t control.”  Here are some steps to help mitigate worry and fear during this crisis.

  • Set limits on social media & news
  • Focus on what you can control – such as washing your hands and connecting with family members and friends via chat, text, FaceTime, and phone
  • Finish up those long overdue projects around the house.  Pick up that book that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand.  Get lost in some of your favorite Netflix shows or movies.  Bonus tip:  skip the post-apocalyptic genre
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Get outside & get moving (Now is a great time to finally take down the Christmas lights!)
  • Breathe
  • Practice Mindfulness

One of my favorite exercises utilizes all five senses – The 54321 Exercise.  Take a moment and notice 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you feel, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you taste.

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