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Winterfest 2015/2016; Mild Weather and An Enthusiastic Response to Hartford’s 6th Annual Winter Festival Filled with Free Skating and Return of Carousel Rides

(Feb. 4, 2016) During a winter of record-breaking warm weather, Winterfest 2015/2016 ensured that downtown Hartford was the place to be this season. Not even seventeen rainy days kept people from enjoying the free ice skating, skate rentals, and learn-to-skate programs at Hartford’s seasonal outdoor skating rink. This year, Winterfest Hartford hosted 45,015 skaters, provided 567 hours of free skating, and celebrated its 250,000th skater to glide across the ice. The sixth annual winter festival in Bushnell Park opened on November 22 to kick off the holiday season and continued for 63 days, closing on January 24, 2016.

This year’s Winterfest Hartford activities featured a new spin – the return of $1 carousel rides. After being closed for a year of renovations, the historic Bushnell Park Carousel reopened just in time for Winterfest. Winterfest traffic to the carousel increased by thirty-five percent when compared with festival visits before the renovation. This year, more than 14,800 Winterfest visitors enjoyed rides on the vintage wooden horses and enjoyed the warmth of the carousel pavilion, which is now heated and open year-round on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Once again, Winterfest’s holiday lights and music brightened the season for many local families. Proving the holiday spirit was alive and well, approximately 2,000 people visited Santa’s Workshop between November 22 and December 20 for free photos with Santa in the carousel pavilion. Approximately thirty-five percent of Santa’s visitors came from Hartford, but guests traveled from as far away as California, Puerto Rico and France to enjoy the holiday festivities.

“Winterfest is one of Hartford’s great cultural events and brings our region together,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, who joined residents in Bushnell Park for First Night celebrations after his inauguration on January 1, 2016. “It’s great to see people from all over Connecticut and New England joining Hartford residents for the Winterfest activities, along with all the other entertainment Hartford has to offer.” 

Fun special events filled the Winterfest schedule and included Opening Ceremonies, Hartford Wolf Pack Skate Night, HYPE (Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs) Night, BESB (Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind) Skate, Saturday Morning Learn-to-Skate Lessons, Skate with Sonar, First Night, and Bushnell Park's Fire and Ice Night. In addition, the I-84 Hartford Project and CREC Schools hosted a free day of Bushnell Park Carousel rides.

“It is heartwarming to see Winterfest become part of so many local families’ annual winter traditions,” said Winterfest Hartford Event Director Bob Crawford, a former Hartford Whaler and the owner of Champions Skating Center. “Whether it’s a child’s first visit to Santa, first ride on the carousel, or a first opportunity to learn to skate, we are glad to see so many people enjoying Winterfest and making life-long memories here in Hartford.”

Winterfest Hartford is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the City of Hartford, the iQuilt Partnership, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Travelers, United Technologies, The Hartford, UnitedHealth Care, LAZ Parking, Bank of America, Hartford Steam Boiler, Metropolitan District Commission, Reid & Riege, Robinson & Cole, SINA, and many individual donors. A total of $121,500 was raised to cover the costs of the rink’s operation this season.

The iQuilt Partnership works closely with the City of Hartford to produce Winterfest. The iQuilt Plan is a culture-based urban design plan for downtown Hartford. The iQuilt Plan links downtown Hartford’s historic and cultural assets and destinations with a vibrant and innovative pedestrian network. iQuilt’s centerpiece is the GreenWalk, a one-mile chain of parks and plazas connecting the gold-domed Capitol in Bushnell Park to the waterfront of the Connecticut River.

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MAYORS BRONIN, GANIM, AND HARP REACT TO GOVERNOR MALLOY’S FY 2017 MIDTERM BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS (MAYORS OF LARGEST CONNECTICUT CITIES MEET AT STATE CAPITOL TO DISCUSS IMPACT OF BUDGET CUTS, FOCUS ON COMMON AGENDA)

(Feb 3,2016)- Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin joined Mayors Joe Ganim of Bridgeport and Toni Harp of New Haven today at the State Capitol in Hartford to discuss the impact of the fiscal year 2017 midterm budget adjustments announced by Governor Dannel P. Malloy.  The mayors discussed forming a common legislative urban agenda, and the potential impact of budget cuts proposed by Governor Malloy.  While the full impact of the budget cuts on each municipality is still being analyzed, the three mayors issued the following, joint statement on the budget:
 
“Connecticut cities, already limited in their capacity to generate revenue, depend on state assistance to bridge a gap created by significant property tax-exemptions built into state law.  Our cities can thrive or merely survive depending on funding levels of municipal aid programs.  We will meet with the Governor and legislators in the weeks ahead to champion inclusion of critical aid to Connecticut’s three largest cities and all municipal governments.”
 
 
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MAYOR BRONIN NOMINATES TWO NEW MEMBERS TO BOARD OF EDUCATION

(Feb. 3, 2016) Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin today announced that he is nominating two Hartford parents and re-nominating two current members to serve on the Board of Education. Mayor Bronin is nominating Karen T. Taylor and Tiffany Fonseca Glanville and re-nominating Vice-Chair Dr. Jose Colon-Rivas and Richard Wareing, who has served as Chairman since 2014. The nominations are subject to approval by the City Council.

“Our most important responsibility is to ensure that all of our children, no matter where they live or how they fare in a lottery, have the educational opportunities and experiences to lead successful and fulfilling lives,” Mayor Bronin said. "The diverse group of parents, civil servants, and leaders that I am nominating to the Board of Education today are dedicated to building a strong, cohesive educational system to serve Hartford’s children and families.”

Tiffany Fonseca Glanville and her husband, Doug, have three children, two of whom attend West Middle Community School in Hartford. Tiffany is an attorney by profession with a background in housing and community development law. 

For the last several years she has relished being home with her kids and devoting time to civic and charitable work, including serving on the PTO and School Governance Council of her children’s school and being an advocate within the school system. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Brown University.

“I am proud to be part of the school community at a Hartford neighborhood school and honored to be considered for a position on the Board of Education,” Tiffany Glanville said. “I hope that this opportunity will allow me to make a greater impact in bettering our schools for Hartford families and striving for equity within our school system.”

Karen Taylor is a North End parent of two elementary school twins at the University of Hartford Magnet School. She is a proud graduate of Weaver High School and Trinity College's IDP program and is a member of the Sheff Movement Coalition and the Greater Hartford NAACP.

Taylor is currently enrolled in Leadership Greater Hartford's Quest program and serves as an advisor to Trinity College Black Women's Organization. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in Educational Studies with honors.

“I am humbled to accept the Mayor's nomination,” Taylor said. “As a Hartford parent, I would be honored to serve the students and families of our great city.”

Richard Wareing, who has served on the Board since 2012, is committed to improving the educational experience for all learners through increasing parent and community engagement, improving culture and climate, reducing chronic absenteeism, providing better service to English language learners and children with special needs, and improving teaching and learning in all of Hartford’s schools.

Wareing is an attorney with the firm Natalie & Wolinetz and has practiced in Hartford since 1994. He has been active on numerous boards and commissions including two charter revision commissions and the Hartford Redevelopment Agency. Wareing was also appointed to the Metropolitan District Commission at the age of 28 where he served for 9 years. Wareing is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the College of the Holy Cross.

“I’m honored that the Mayor has shown his confidence in me,” Wareing said. “Serving on the Hartford Board of Education, especially as Chairman, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life. I’m very grateful for the continued opportunity to work on behalf of our kids.”

Dr. Jose Colon-Rivas has served as Vice Chair of the Board of Education for four years. As Director of the City of Hartford’s Department of Families, Youth, and Recreation, he brings an exceptional depth of knowledge and experience in education, as well as an understanding of fiscal responsibility, to the work of achieving academic goals in Hartford. 

Dr. Colon-Rivas has been involved in many levels of the Hartford education system; from a classroom teacher and school principal to a Senior Director for Curriculum and Instruction. He earned his doctorate in educational psychology and child development education from Penn State University and also holds degrees from Interamerican University and the University of Puerto Rico.

“My work as a Board Member continues to be as hard as it is rewarding,” Colon-Rivas said. “There is no greater validation of the work of investing in the journey of a child than seeing that child develop into an effective contributor to the future well-being of our community.”

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MAYOR BRONIN URGES IMPLEMENTATION OF STRATEGIES TO REDUCE YOUTH VIOLENCE

(February 1, 2016) Today, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin endorsed the draft recommendations released by the Commission on Youth and Urban Violence, and urged state leaders to implement the recommendations, which include declaring violence a public health issue, improving interventions focused on reducing the effects of exposure to trauma, and working to divert young people away from the criminal justice system.  Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, Chair of the Commission established as part of Governor Malloy’s Second Chance Society initiatives, is holding a public hearing today at Hartford Public High School from 2:30 to 4:30 to solicit input from residents before moving forward with final recommendations. The Commission is made up of community leaders, public safety officials, experts, and victims.

“I commend Lieutenant Governor Wyman and the Commission for putting forward serious, smart recommendations to combat violence in our cities,” Mayor Bronin said. “We need to recognize that violence is a public health problem, and the recommendations put forward by this Commission puts the emphasis where it belongs – on behavioral health, early intervention, and alternatives to the criminal justice system for our young people.”

The Commission report includes the following recommendations: 

  • Declare violence a public health issue and adopt a broader definition of violence to include chronic stress, hunger, and other trauma. This will raise awareness of the impacts to young people and help establish appropriate prevention and support systems.  
  • Increase early detection of violence by incorporating it into the statewide behavioral health plan. Strengthen school, advocate, and agency partnerships to implement a screening process for violence and trauma. 
  • Prioritize family system wellness by improving the coordination of consistent, trauma-focused interventions from birth through age 26. These should include meeting basic needs as well as addressing chronic stress and other risk factors. Strengthen workforce development and opportunity for young people to improve success and independence.
  • Compile a comprehensive list of criminal justice and diversionary programs for law enforcement and community organizations working with at-risk youth. Encourage partnerships between schools and law enforcement School Resource Officers. Study the impact of raising the age of criminal responsibility to 13 years of age.
  • Support the expansion of non-criminal discipline in school settings, improve school response and engagement. Encourage school districts to invest in intervention specialists in high-need schools. 
  • Improve contact with youths age 19-26 outside the criminal justice system. Encourage advisory boards to include in their deliberations youth who have experienced trauma or violence. 

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