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EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY: ROAD CLOSURE ON HOMESTEAD UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY: ROAD CLOSURE ON HOMESTEAD UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

HARTFORD, CONN (September 28, 2017) – This afternoon, Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) workers doing sewer repair work on Homestead Avenue discovered an approximately 20-foot long and approximately 14-foot deep void beneath the road surface along a sewer line.  They immediately contacted the City, and now the Hartford Police Department, Department of Public Works, and the MDC are working together to secure the area.  To prevent a potential collapse, Homestead Avenue is shut down to the general public between its intersection with Albany Avenue and its intersection with Woodland Street until further notice, effective immediately.

“We are taking this action as a necessary precaution, as we believe there is some risk that the void underneath the road on Homestead Avenue could have caused the road surface to collapse under extreme weight,” said interim Department of Public Works Director Reginald Freeman.  “The City and MDC are working closely together to determine the scope of the problem and we will update the public as we learn more.”

West-bound drivers on Homestead will be redirected either North or South on Woodland Street and drivers on Albany Avenue will not be able to turn onto Homestead Avenue at all.

Residents of Baltimore Street will be able to enter and exit the street from Albany Avenue because it’s a two-way street.  Kent, Adams, and Milford Streets will remain one-way streets but the Police Department will allow residents to use Homestead to enter or exit their street as needed.

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HARTFORD FIRE DEPARTMENT TO RECEIVE $12 MILLION IN MULTI-YEAR FEDERAL GRANT FUNDING FOR STAFFING AND TECHNOLOGY

HARTFORD FIRE DEPARTMENT TO RECEIVE $12 MILLION IN MULTI-YEAR FEDERAL GRANT FUNDING FOR STAFFING AND TECHNOLOGY

HARTFORD, CONN (September 28, 2017) – This morning Mayor Luke Bronin joined Fire Chief Reginald Freeman and other City leaders at the Hartford Public Safety Complex to announce two federal grants the Hartford Fire Department (HFD) will receive.  The HFD will receive approximately $11 million in federal grant funding over three years to pay for personnel costs through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program, and approximately $1 million this year to pay for radio upgrades through the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program.  

“I want to congratulate Chief Freeman, our outstanding fire department, and our grants department on the great work and strong partnership that helped secure this second largest SAFER grant in the country, as well as the vitally important grant to upgrade our radio system,” said Mayor Bronin.  “I also want to thank Senators Blumenthal and Murphy and Congressman Larson for their strong support.  The men and women of the Hartford Fire Department serve our City with incredible dedication, skill and professionalism, and with a staffing shortfall, they’ve been working long hours and long weeks away from home.  With the help of these two grants, we can hire the recruits we need and also invest in the communications equipment that’s so important to the safety and effectiveness of our firefighters.  While this grant is spread out over three years and won’t have an immediate impact on our near-term fiscal gap, it will allow us to hire the additional firefighters necessary to reach our optimal staffing level and reduce overtime costs down the road.”

The City’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget included funding for approximately seventy new firefighters, to backfill significant attrition that the City has experienced and expects in the months ahead.  One class of thirty-six began training in July and another is expected to start this fall.  The SAFER grant will allow the City to hire a total of about 110 new firefighters over the course of the fiscal year ending in June of 2018.

The AFG grant will upgrade the existing radio system used by the Fire Department, improving communication between firefighters during emergencies.

“This major federal grant will put more firefighters on the job keeping Hartford safe,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.  “I thank Hartford firefighters for their brave, tireless service and will continue to advocate for federal grant programs that provide critical support for our fire departments.” 

“Firefighters are often the first ones on the scene of an emergency or when someone calls for help,” said Senator Chris Murphy.  “They deserve the best possible training and personnel, and this $11 million grant is crucial to helping keep Hartford residents safe.  I was proud to advocate for this grant and the Hartford Fire Department deserves every penny.”

“This is great news for the City of Hartford and its residents,” said Congressman John Larson.  “I would like to extend my congratulations to Chief Reginald Freeman and the Hartford Fire Department.  This grant, the second largest awarded in the country this year, will allow the fire department to increase its workforce by hiring dozens of new firefighters. The men and women of the Hartford Fire Department are hard-working individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the community. They deserve the peace of mind that comes with having an adequately staffed fire department. People who work and live in the city will be safer because of this grant and the outstanding job that the Hartford Fire Department does.”

“Our Hartford firefighters are tremendous public servants and I am very glad the City was able to secure this significant federal funding with the assistance of our outstanding federal delegation,” said City Council President Thomas “TJ” Clarke II, who is also a Co-Chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee.  “This is a reflection of the strong partnership across City departments and the strong commitment to public safety we have as a City Council in partnership with Chief Freeman and our Mayor.”

“Thank you to Chief Freeman, the City of Hartford’s grants and management teams, members of the Hartford Fire Department, and our federal delegation who have worked on securing these grant funds for the Hartford Fire Department,” said City Councilman James Sanchez, Co-Chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee.  “Their work has resulted in $12 million being awarded to the City of Hartford – that is to say $11 million through the SAFER Grant and $1 million from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.  These funds will enhance Hartford’s ability to recruit, hire, and retain firefighters and maintain its status as a Class 1 Fire Department.  These funds will also be used to provide quality equipment and training to our Hartford firefighters.  In short, these funds will improve the HFD’s ability to serve residents, the health and safety of our Fire personnel, and will increase Hartford’s resilience.”

"Our staffing levels have been low due to a large number of retirements, and we’ve long had issues with our radio system in parts of the City,” said Fire Chief Reginald Freeman.  “As a Department, these much-needed grants will allow us to prepare for the future knowing we’ll be properly staffed and equipped to continue providing our community with a high level of service.  I want to thank the Mayor, the City Council, the entire team that put the grant applications together, as well as our federal delegation.”

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HARTFORD AND UCONN HEALTH ANNOUNCE SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION IN CHILDHOOD OBESITY AMONG CITY PRE-SCHOOLERS

HARTFORD AND UCONN HEALTH ANNOUNCE SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION IN CHILDHOOD OBESITY AMONG CITY PRE-SCHOOLERS

HARTFORD, CONN (September 27, 2017) – Today, Mayor Luke Bronin and the UConn Health Husky Nutrition Evaluation Team led by Dr. Ann Ferris released a report showing that between 2012 and 2016, the percentage of overweight or obese children enrolled in Hartford early learning programs decreased by 5%, and average body mass decreased by more than 4 percentile points, thanks in part to a series of initiatives by the City, UConn, and community partners.  They joined community partners at a press conference at King’s Chapel Early Care and Education Center, one of 69 early learning centers in Hartford that took part in the initiatives aimed at reducing childhood obesity.  Funding for the health evaluations and City initiatives came from various state and federal grants.  That report is available here.

“We know that weight is a leading indicator of long-term health, and that’s why it’s so important that our youngest children begin their lives with good eating and exercise habits,” said Mayor Bronin.  “Our childhood obesity rate is still too high, but we now have proven tools we can use to make progress.  I am grateful to Dr. Ann Ferris, her team at UConn Health, and the many, many City staff members and community partners whose dedication led to the important gains we’ve made to reduce childhood obesity.”

“Almost all US cities share the same burden of preschool obesity as Hartford,” said Dr. Ann Ferris.  “What is unique to Hartford is the unanimous support of the center and school based early childcare programs and the willingness of parents and so many community partners to participate in solutions.   The next steps require the cooperation of federal, state, and municipal agencies to enhance regulations and policies; the medical community to provide early intervention and family centered care, particularly for those children identified at extremely obese; and the education and research community to assist with determining planning and program effectiveness.”

In 2012, 37% of children ages 3-5 enrolled in center or school based early child care in Hartford were classified as overweight or obese.  Over the last four years, the City’s Department of Families, Children, Youth, and Recreation, in partnership with Dr. Ann Ferris of UConn Health and a variety of community partners, implemented a series of programs to promote healthy eating habits and exercise among Hartford preschoolers. 

In 2016, Dr. Ferris and her team did another evaluation, and found that thanks to those initiatives and others, the percent of children categorized as overweight or obese decreased to 32%.  The evaluation also found that overall, the average BMI percentile of all preschoolers measured dropped by four, compared to the 2012 measurement.

Initiatives included:

  • Little City Sprouts: a farm to preschool program to provide children with the chance to learn about, grow, and eat fresh, healthy food, launched by Hartford Food System.
  • Husky Reads, a program modeled on “Reach Out and Read” that provides nutrition education through children’s literature, and Husky Nutrition, a program for parents aimed at reducing sugar sweetened beverage consumption. UConn undergraduates deliver both programs as part of a service learning experience.
  • A citywide soccer program for preschool age children, in partnership with Soccer Shots. 

A number of other community partners also committed to reducing childhood obesity.  They include the Hispanic Health Council, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving through its funding of the Hartford Childhood Wellness Alliance at Connecticut Children’s Hospital, the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s staff training programs, and other programs run by Hartford Food System and the UCONN Cooperative Extension System.

Preschool weight concerns are still a very significant issue in Hartford.  Even with the progress made recently, the percentage of preschool children who are either overweight or obese is over twice the expected national norm. 

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CITY OF HARTFORD STATEMENT ON CALL WITH BONDHOLDERS

CITY OF HARTFORD STATEMENT ON CALL WITH BONDHOLDERS

HARTFORD, CONN (September 25, 2017) – The City of Hartford announced today that it conducted a scheduled call with bondholders at 10 AM on September 25, 2017.  The call was open to all bondholders and bond insurers who hold or insure general obligation debt of the City of Hartford.  The purpose of the call was for the City to provide an overview of its current situation to the holders as a first step in what it hopes will be a constructive dialogue about restructuring alternatives.  The City also encouraged holders to direct concerns or questions directly to its financial and legal advisors, Rothschild & Co. and Greenberg Traurig, or to submit them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Because the call was open to all holders and insurers without confidentiality restriction, the City limited the call to public information and did not take questions.  “Today’s call was an opportunity to speak directly to a substantial group of our bondholders to provide our perspectives on Hartford’s current situation,” said Treasurer Adam Cloud.  “Although we were limited in what we could say, we viewed this call as a necessary first step in our discussions with bondholders regarding the future of Hartford.”

Hartford had previously met with certain insurers of its bonds to discuss Hartford’s financial situation and possible structural solutions suggested by the insurers.  Mayor Luke Bronin addressed those discussions and recent public statements by Assured Guaranty directly on the call saying, “I appreciate Assured’s willingness to have constructive discussions, and our team is prepared to engage with all stakeholders who are interested in constructive discussions.  That said, as I have said many times before – and without addressing the specifics of our discussions with Assured – we are interested in long-term solutions that leave the City with a path to sustained solvency and strength, without leaving future administrations to deal with the same kind of challenges.”

The City continues to evaluate all alternatives for long-term restructuring and is focused on solutions for Hartford that provide a path to sustainability and growth.  Mayor Bronin summed up his views of a debt restructuring on the call by saying that, “We need all stakeholders to recognize that this is a structural problem that requires a structural fix, and that this administration is not interested in pushing off this challenge for another Mayor or another generation to fix.”  He also addressed the role that bond restructuring could play in helping to avoid a Chapter 9 filing, stating that, “The restructuring of debt could represent one important part of a multi-part plan for achieving sustainability outside of Chapter 9, but that path will only be available if all the other elements of a sustainable solution are in place, including a substantial and sustained increase in revenue from the State of Connecticut, as well as the participation of other stakeholders.”

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HARTFORD CITY HALL ADDRESS: 550 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06103 PHONE: (860)757-9311 HOURS: 8AM - 5PM