Rob’s Column in the Wolcott Community News: November 2012

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Nov 2, 2012 No Comments ›› admin

In my last column, I talked about the dire state of Connecticut’s business economy and the need for major change in the way we manage the state’s finances. This month I thought I would speak about Wolcott more specifically.

A State Representative really has what I would consider a dual role to perform. First and foremost is the duty to represent the interests of our town in our state government, making the important decision whether to vote “yay” or“nay” on each issue and each bill as it’s presented. The second duty is to push for new legislation that benefits our community and the entire state as a whole.

You’ve probably heard me discuss some of the major issues facing our state: increasing unemployment and a poor business climate, the crushing burden of taxes and regulation, the early release from prison of violent felons. These problems hurt every town in Connecticut.

For instance, the New Britain to Hartford Busway may not pass through our town, but it still has an definite impact. First, it’s our tax dollars being used to pay for this needless project, to the tune of $600M, nearly $1,000.00 for every inch. Second, this is money that would properly be used to fix roads and bridges in our entire state. This is why Senator Markley and I have led and continued this fight as long as we have.

The good news is that it’s not all bad news. I can report that our community has also benefitted from some things I have worked hard on over the last two years.

After the bad weather and power outages last fall, we passed a law that enhances emergency preparedness and requires utility companies and regulators to increase their standards for power restoration.  Wolcott mostly avoided this year’s storm “Sandy” but I think we have seen improvements in how a major storm is handled by utility providers and I’m happy about that.

We also made a new law that reduces the potential liability for our town, and more importantly the taxpayers, against nuisance lawsuits. I was also proud to be part of the small team that fought tirelessly to get us the tiniest bit of relief when we managed to get the gas tax capped.

I am also pleased that despite the Governor’s irresponsible budget, the towns I represent, Wolcott and Southington, received more state aid than ever before, including nearly a million dollars in education funding.

Finally, after twenty years of being put on hold, we were able to get funding for a new fire school to train our volunteer firefighters. Volunteer firefighters are some of the most dedicated individuals in our community and they save taxpayers a small fortune over what it would cost for a paid fire company. A new fire school not only provides the extensive and important training all firefighters need, it also will help recruit new members and make sure our community stays protected by our three well respected and professional fire companies here in town.

We also passed legislation that provides additional workers compensation protections for volunteer firefighters while in the line of duty.

Of course, I would have like to see many more positive things happen and many more of my proposals passed. You can be certain I will keep fighting for our community.

By the time you read this, the election will be over but I wanted to say I have enjoyed the last month campaigning in town and some of the great candidate forums and debates I was invited to participate in.

Wolcott truly is a special place, something I remind my colleagues in Hartford about often. Recently, there were several perfect examples, the Fill the Gazebo event put on by our Wolcott Food Pantry and also the One Clean Day of Fun event put on by local group, Crossroads. I would also mention the amazing number of people that turned out for the funeral for Wolcott’s own Fred Milton.  Finally, there were two events on the town green in October calling attention to breast cancer and giving us a chance to show our support for survivors and to help create awareness of this deadly disease.  These events showcase how a small town like ours often knows better how to do things to better the community than some state bureaucracy. I am constantly impressed by the “can do” attitude of Wolcott’s residents and how they are always ready to help when there is a need. It makes me proud to represent our town.