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From the First Selectman Beth Heller – 11/18/22

On Tuesday, November 8th, the Town of Woodbridge participated in a very important, consequential election.  Voting is one important way that we can participate in our democracy.  There are many to thank, as it takes a grand effort on the part of many to hold an election, especially one with such high interest and turnout.  I first thank all the voters who were patient in line, respectful of the process and courteous to the election officials and other voters.  Thanks also go out to the wonderful election officials…our Town Clerks, Registrars of Voters, poll workers, absentee ballot counters, police officers, and fire department volunteers.  All of these folks worked very hard to make sure our election was conducted efficiently, smoothly and most importantly, according to the law.

As I mentioned last month, “Woodbridge Like Me Day” was a huge, largely-attended, successful event last month.  This event, and others, are sponsored by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEI).  If you recall, I created our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee in 2020, in response to the horrific events surrounding the tragic murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police.  Many of us watched in anguish the systemic racism, particularly the pattern of needless and senseless acts of violence that also took the lives of many people.

I looked back at my remarks prior to the day in Woodbridge when we held a Black Lives Matter Rally in 2022.  My remarks included, “I think we have reason to hope that things will change.  There is a new burst of energy, a protest movement across this country and beyond our shores, in cities and towns in all fifty states, a movement that crosses racial, ethnic, political and generational differences, a movement that binds us together by our common humanity, a movement poised to inspire new policies and new legislation.  Martin Luther King said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  I think Dr. King believed that the arc doesn’t bend toward justice on its own.  That is our responsibility, and that is why we are here today.”

At our November 8th Board of Selectmen meeting, our DEI Committee gave the Board an update on their activities.  I am so proud and grateful that our DEI Committee continues this movement toward justice.  I thank each member of this most important group for their efforts on behalf of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Our annual Veteran’s Day ceremony was held this year (after a two-year COVID hiatus) at 11 am on Friday, November 11th in the Center Gym.  Masks were required, and in the interests of safety, the doors were open, and we asked folks to dress warmly.  Everyone in our Town was invited to join this beautiful ceremony.  I was so moved by the remarks from our elected State officials and pastoral attendees, as well as the lovely voice of our soloist.  The Soufrine family donated a wreath in memory of their son Eric.  The wreath was placed at the Lieutenant G. Bronson Bedworth Veterans VFW Memorial monument in front of the Center Building.  The Police Department did a masterful job as well, as part of the honor guard.  President John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  On behalf of the residents of Woodbridge, I extend our gratitude and pledge to never forget our veterans.  Our Human Services Department is available to our veterans and their family members who have questions or need help accessing veteran services.

Recently I met with representatives from the Regional Water Authority (RWA) at the Community Gardens at the Fitzgerald property, to explore using a possible RWA grant to connect water to the gardens.  There are several ways to accomplish this, and if it happens, it will also follow the same procedures we used for water at the Dog park, where the Community Garden members pay the water bills directly and are responsible for the water spigot etc.  We are now exploring ways this might be done, and I will keep you up to date on new information that is received.

The Board of Selectmen received many letters of support for keeping the Beecher Road School pool up and running (as soon as possible), beginning with the first step of replacing filters and associated piping.  This pool was built in 1972, which makes it fifty years old.  Board of Selectmen members are working to make a decision on next steps.

Once again, I am pleased to announce that we have been notified that our annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year which ended on June 30th 2022 has once again qualified for the Government Finance Officers Association Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.  This award is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting.  I know this is awarded every year to Woodbridge, because we do this so well, but let us take a moment to thank our esteemed Finance Director Tony Genovese, our Finance Department members, and our Board of Finance.  This is truly a significant accomplishment, and we are so proud of all of you!

Our police officers and dispatchers will be participating in the annual “No Shave CT” fundraiser, in which they are permitted to grow beards during the month of November to support cancer prevention, research, and education.  Again, this year, it is being conducted in conjunction with the Connecticut Cancer Foundation, with all proceeds to benefit CT cancer patients.  On December 3rd, the Woodbridge Police Department will be conducting its annual “Stuff A Cruiser” holiday toy drive in the D’Andrea’s Plaza parking lot from 9 am to 3 pm to benefit the CT Special Olympics and the Toys for Tots programs.  The event will be held in conjunction with Starbucks, Katz’s Deli, and the Micro-Creamery, and donations of new, unwrapped toys will be accepted.

Additionally, our Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Department members will once again be collecting unwrapped, new toys at the firehouse (100 Center Road) for the Yale New Haven Hospital Toy Closet.  Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the firehouse on Saturday, December 17th from 10 am to 2 pm.  Many thanks to all our fire department volunteers!

Finally, at this time of Thanksgiving, I send my deepest appreciation for all of you in our wonderful Town of Woodbridge.  Working with all the Town employees, and meeting with so many residents over the past year, has been a great opportunity for me.  I am truly thankful and profoundly privileged to be your First Selectman.  As always, do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or comments.  You may reach me by email at bheller@woodbridgect.org or by phone at 203-389-3401.  Wishing you and your friends and family a safe happy Thanksgiving holiday.

This is an opinion piece.

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