Stamford, CT: Past, Present and all its Beauty

Connecticut – while traditionally best known for being The Constitution State and having Yankee Doodle as its state song – has many hidden unexplored gems.  Today we take a brief look at two of them:  Lakeside Diner and the current exhibition at Stamford History Center.

Of course there are a ton of diners throughout Connecticut but how many can claim to offer a view of a lake with ducks swimming by while sipping a hot cup of coffee and eating delicious homemade donuts?  Lakeside Diner, on Long Ridge Road offers that as well as a slice of Stamford history. Owned by Jane Agostino (who purchased it in 1987 with her husband Dominick), it has been maintained pretty much the same as it was when it first opened over 60 years ago.  She said:

“We’ve had to change the chairs a number of times over the years, but other than that it’s the same. The way it is today is the way it was built back then, so what you see is original.”

A new exhibit is being showcased at Stamford History Center entitled Holy Roots: The History of Houses of Worship in Stamford 1641- 2000.  This presents the growth of various religious persuasions from 1641 (when it was first established) until 2000.  Make sure you view the St. John’s Catholic Church original pew and original pages from The Stamford Advocate.

NYC: Looking Out for the Elderly

New York City seems to be a place solely for the young and young at heart; the partygoers, the business entrepreneurs and those who are always looking for the next project to engage in.

That description wouldn’t at first glance seem to include the elderly, the seniors in the community.  But if we glance just briefly over some of the activities being offered to this demographic, we find quite a different picture being depicted.

First of all there are the free entertainments offered.  Tomorrow at The Rubin Museum of Art, a tour program for those with dementia (along with their caregivers) will be given at the museum.  There are so many individuals – especially seniors – who miss out on cultural opportunities but with this event the elderly can benefit from this incredible museum.

Then there is the seniors’ national fitness program.  New York for Seniors – in conjunction with Silver Sneakers – is offering fitness sessions throughout NYC.  According to New York for Seniors Director Wayne Jordan:

“We are excited to have Silver Sneakers as a partner! Exercise and simple daily movement are so important for seniors, so having Silver Sneakers on board allows us to bring another important resource to our health and wellness events. The fact that Silver Sneakers work with some of our other partners makes this partnership that much more important. Our partners, Empire Blue Cross and Aetna work with Silver Sneakers to provide on-going fitness programs for their members throughout New York City. We want to be a bridge to encourage more seniors to participate in the Silver Sneakers fitness programs.”

Another endeavor the city of New York is engaging in to benefit seniors is connected to housing. New York State has its first LGBT-friendly affordable housing for seniors.  Thanks to the combined efforts of BFC Partners, Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and SAGE.  This is the largest development America has seen of this kind and is fitting that it coincides with Stonewall Uprising’s 50th anniversary.

Local Business Events

For those just starting to become familiar with the business world, local workshops and networking events can be extremely helpful. Here, we take a look at some of the upcoming and past workshops and networking opportunities in both New York and Connecticut.

First for those in Connecticut, next Wednesday between 4 and 5pm, there will be a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern CT offices in Turnpike.  The subject covered will be: Chamber 101: Membership Benefits and Orientation.   At the same location, on February 10th the first session of the series of 4 weekly workshops entitled Speechcraft: Improve Your Communication will be presented by the Niantic Toastmasters Club.  The club was established as a non-profit educational institute in 1924 to offer public speaking and leadership skills through its international network of clubs.

Over in New York, a whole slew of workshops – that will take place over the coming year.  Thanks to Scott M. Stringer, Comptroller in NYC, the W/WBE University has been launched which will offer workshops to facilitate the establishment of increased accessibility to women- and minority-owned business enterprises. (W/MBEs). The 2019 Comptroller Making the Grade report showed that out of the $20.5 billion that was awarded by New York City in contracts throughout the 2019 fiscal year, a mere $1.007 billion of that (4.9%) was awarded to M/WBEs.  Stringer said:

“New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and that should be reflected in the way our government spends city dollars. Everyone deserves a fair and equitable chance to earn city business and build real wealth. The third installation of Comptroller’s M/WBE University will continue to expand opportunities for business owners to gain access to city contracts and close the gap in city spending.”

Educational Institutes Bolstering Economy

Recent numbers have shown that the University of Connecticut has been providing a huge boost to the local state economy.  President of the University, Thomas Katsouleas pointed out that it had provided $5.3billion to the local economy. He said:

“UConn is part of a constellation of public higher education institutions in Connecticut, and they all bring great value. But as the sole public flagship research university in the state, we have a special responsibility to contribute to our economy and to our communities.”

A report was released from the university illustrating how every dollar spent at the educational institute resulted in a consequential $0.77 of economic output to the local economy.

Another way the education system is benefitting the local economy is through the recent endeavors of the Connecticut Partnership for Education. The organization is currently seeking educators and local leaders from the community to help take it to the next stage of its mission which is to aid those who are poverty-stricken and unemployable due to decades of neglect.  According to Gov. Ned Lamont:

 “We’re listening to teachers … asking them for their best ideas and giving them some resources to act on those good ideas. If we can energize our teachers, the positive momentum we have in our schools, you’ll see great results for our kids.”

This sentiment was echoed by President and CEO of the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology and chairman of the Connecticut Partnership for Education Board, Erik Clemons. He said:

“This is about transforming the lives of young people who, for the most part, have been forgotten, and not only these young people, but also their communities who have been in poverty for so long.”

Trump to Visit Wildwood

President Donald Trump is to visit Wildwood, NJ at the end of the month.  His campaign rally will take place at the Wildwoods Convention Center. Irrespective of one’s political leanings, this is proving good for local businessmen.  According to Days Inn & Suites manager, Chris Falcone, within 24 hours after the event’s announcement, all 50 rooms were booked out.  Located right across the arena, Falcone said he is still getting calls about reservations.

The timing couldn’t be better for local business owners since mid-January is typically very slow for tourism, etc.

Peter Byron, local Wildwood Mayor pointed out:

“This isn’t about whether you’re Republican or Democrat. It isn’t even about the man. It’s about the position. … Check your affiliation at the door, and let’s just all participate in this monumental [and] exciting time for Wildwood.”

In general, when such a powerful political figure visits a city, local businesses benefit hugely.  This is the hope for Wildwood, New Jersey with Trump’s upcoming visit.

Connecticut: New 2020 Laws

Two days ago as we saw in the new year (and new decade), for people in Connecticut there were some new laws as well.  Indeed, 24 new laws have now been put in place and impact industries from technology to taxes, health policies and licenses. In this article we take a brief look at some of the new laws.

There is an existing 6.35% sales tax but this will now be expanded into other areas: dry cleaning, interior design, parking and safety apparel.  The new taxes are estimated to bring in around $25 million in the first year of collection.

The two year $250 business entity tax will be eradicated for all companies doing business locally.  While this will be pricey for the state (approximately $44 million in revenue in the next fiscal year), the extension of the sales tax will compensate this.

There is good news for CT drivers who will be given an extension of licensing renewal and registration for vehicles.  Instead of having to renew driving licenses every 6 years, it will now be eight years and motor vehicle registration is becoming every 3 years (instead of every two) with a proportional escalation in accompanying fees.

The state Department of Public Health has instituted a new certification program (to be renewed every 3 years) for community health workers.  They will now need to pay $100 fee and come with at least 1,000 hours experience to be recognized as public health professionals

Free training for state and local police will be expanded by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.  This will help those working with those police who have to work with individuals on the autism spectrum.

These are just some of the new laws that will impact Connecticut residents and business owners.

Jersey City’s Educational Election Costs

It’s a case of the good news and the not-so-good news.  On the one hand spending tons of money on anything political seems crazy but on the other hand, can one really put a price on education?

More money was spent on the most recent Jersey City Board of Education elections last month than has been in years.  The figure was over $590,000 for the five seats open (out of a total of nine on the board). 

According to Executive Director of Jersey City’s Election Law Enforcement Commission Jeff Brindle:

“Education is obviously a major concern to everyone. Also, you got to take into account the issue of property taxes which is related to school districts … property taxes are pretty high in New Jersey.”

Thankfully though the financial issue does not have to impact the kids themselves.  The
Back 2 School Illinois endeavor is always on hand to help kids from less wealthy families thrive in the classroom.

Organization CEO Matthew Kurtzman explained how they provide ‘back to school kits’ for kids in September.  However, since then, more supplies are needed so they are now collecting more.  For $18 a kit can be provided to one of the 1.2m Illinois kids from low-income families.  Apart from the actual necessary supplies that are provided, this also comes with a “boost to self- esteem by letting the student know they are worthy of learning.”