First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, in her latest pandemic update Thursday, reported COVID-19 was found in only two-thirds of a percent of all COVID-19 tests of town residents over the past two-weeks. And there wasn’t a single case in the past week. She was careful in describing how good the shrinkage in the coronavirus is, saying she’s “very pleased and cautiously optimistic” about the low numbers. Stevenson also provided a list of vaccine providers. Her full message is attached, along with the town Health Department’s weekly report.
The Board of Finance unanimously approved a $152.7 million operating budget, which would increase the mill rate to $16.84 a 3.15% increase from this year’s $16.33 if the Representative Town Meeting on May 10 passes the spending and tax plan unchanged. The board had received spending proposals from the Board of Selectmen and Board of Education which would have increased taxes by 7.32% Finance Board Chairman Jon Zagrodzky said at the board’s Tuesday night meeting. “Nobody likes a tax increase,” Zagrodzky said, but after to the “scary” budget proposals sent to the Board of Finance, the 3.15% mill rate increase “is much more palatable than what we started with, and not completely out of line, given the mill rate increases we’ve seen in the past. “But also, frankly, the expenditures that both boards [Education and Selectmen] are having to make, not just for operations, but for things like debt service,” he said. “So when you take all that into account, my general view is that we’ve ended up in a very good place — if you, again, think of everything from the union contract increases to COVID spending to general operating increases across the board.
The League of Women Voters of Darien has scheduled several programs of interest to the community this Spring:
A further discussion about the future of Darien within Fairfield County; a discussion about voter access and the security of the voting system with the secretary of the state; and a discussion with leaders of several town government boards. — an announcement from the League of Women Voters of Darien
All will be held online and are free and open to the public. In addition to these three programs, the Darien League’s annual meeting at 7 p.m., June 2 will feature as its keynote speaker Patti Russo, executive director of the Campaign School at Yale University. The League doesn’t have much information yet on the discussion with leaders of various town boards. The date and time will be announced later.
The Retired Men’s Associatiion of Greenwich (RMA) invites you to an online talk by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Greenwich resident, on Wednesday, March 31, at 11 a.m.
— an announcement from the Greenwich RMA
To view the Zoom webinar, go here. Blumenthal will address the opportunities created by the election of a new President, a post pandemic world, a Congress better equipped to legislate and an economy that will emerge with significant strength. In doing so he will talk about the initiatives to be taken by him and his allies in Congress for the issues on the national agenda and what he seeks to do in support of the businesses and welfare of the citizens of the of the State of Connecticut. Blumenthal is completing his second term as the senior United States senator from Connecticut. He serves as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Armed Services Committee, Veteran Affairs and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees.
Tokeneke sidewalks will be replaced between Great Hill Road and Cliff Avenue starting Monday, April 5, the Darien Public Works Department announced on Thursday. The replacement project covers about four tenths of a mile (according to Google Maps), starting several hundred feet east of Tokeneke School and ending several hundred feet west of the Darien-Norwalk border at Five Mile River. The project is expected to be done by mid-May, although bad weather could delay completion. A previous sidewalk project installed or replaced sidewalks on Tokeneke Road west of the upcoming project. With completion of this new project, people should be able to walk to downtown Darien all the way from Rowayton, almost entirely over new sidewalks.
In the past two weeks, 65 new cases of COVID-19 have been found in Darien, one person was hospitalized and a total of 300 students and employees of the school district have been put in quarantine, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said Thursday in her CodeRed announcement to the town. Darien Health Department, in its latest Coronavirus Update, released Thursday, said a total of 2,209 vaccination shots have been administered in town, including 1,101 second shots of the Moderna vaccine and 200 Johnson & Johnson vaccines (which don’t require a second shot). The entire 10-slide report is published at the bottom of this article. “Local cases and students in quarantine are, unfortunately, on the rise,” she said. She pointed out that sine COVID-19 symptoms are very similar to seasonal allergy symptoms, when anyone in your family has those symptoms, “you should assume you have COVID-19, and all family members should get tested.”
Americares announced today it has been awarded $2.6 million from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy at free and charitable clinics across the country. — an announcement from Americares
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes joined Americares President and CEO Christine Squires for the announcement at the Fred Weisman Americares Free Clinic in Bridgeport, Conn. “Vaccine hesitancy, among other factors, is preventing low-income, immigrant and communities of color from getting vaccinated, even though these communities are most adversely impacted by COVID-19,,” Himes said. “I am proud to see Americares—a well-respected relief organization based in southwestern Connecticut—encouraging vaccination so that life can get back to normal as quickly as possible.”
Stamford-based Americares will work with hundreds of clinics, the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics and state associations to dispel myths and educate staff and volunteers about the importance of vaccination. “Free and charitable clinic staff and volunteers care for underserved communities, including some with deep-rooted distrust of the health care system.
COVID-19 is spreading slower in Darien than it has since November, although the 76 new cases so far this month, as reported by the town Health Department, is still way above the 44 reported in all of October. Here are the latest reports on COVID-19’s course through Darien from three different sources: First Selectman Jayme Stevenson’s report to the town, the weekly town Health Department report and a joint message from schools Superintendent Alan Addley and the district’s Director of Nursing Services, Alicia Casucci. Darienite.com has taken some slides from the Health Department’s report, (released on Thursday) and mixed them in with Stevenson’s message when they give overlapping information. Other slides from the department’s report are in their own section at the bottom. (Numbers sometimes differ between state and town reports, due to reporting sources and counting methods, but patterns and trends often can still be seen.) All captions in the slides are from Darienite.com.
The Darien League of Women Voters has released its questionnaire to candidates in the state Senate District 27 special election on March 2 and their answers. The candidates are running to fill the seat recently vacated by Carlo Leone, who is taking a position in the state Department of Transportation. Here’s the complete document, which the League released on Tuesday:
2021 Voters’ Guide for Candidates for State Senatorial District 27
(State Senator for Darien Districts 2 and 4)
Compiled as a public service by the League of Women Voters of Darien. This is a special election to fill a vacancy in the seat created by the resignation of
Sen. Carlo Leone. Vote Tuesday, March 2 — Democracy is not a spectator sport!
State control of zoning and school regionalization is the topic of the next “Bring It Home!” online event on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 7:30 p.m.
— an announcement from the Darien Republican Town Committee
Jayme Stevenson (Darien’s first selectman) and Terrie Wood (state representative, District 141) host the public conversation with these guest speakers:
—Kimberly Fiorello is a state representative for District 149 (in Greenwich and Stamford). She serves on the Education, Planning & Development and Judiciary committees. —Scott Hobbs, owner & project executive of Hobbs Inc.
—Francis Pinkering, executive director, Western CT Council
of Governments (WestCOG)
The “Bring It Home!” series is sponsored by the Darien Republican Town Committee for the benefit of all Darien residents. The series is free, and everyone is welcome to join.
To the editor:
If 2021 has taught us anything, it is that who we elect can make a big difference in the quality of our lives and the health of our democracy. The contrast between the Biden and Trump Administrations cannot have made that point any clearer. However, the point is just as true for municipal elections as it for federal ones. Who we elect to govern Darien can make a big difference in the quality of our lives. Town government is responsible for our schools, our roads, our parks and beaches, solid waste disposal and recycling, and, most importantly, our local public health.
Darien TV79 has launched an online survey asking town residents to find out what they watch — and would like to watch — on the town’s government television station. — an announcement from Darien TV79
Since 2007 Darien TV79 has offered live, taped-replay and on-demand access to all board, committee and RTM government meetings in town. In addition it carries programs of community interest, including town-wide events like the Memorial Day Parade. But in recent months new technology grants from the Darien Foundation have allowed the station to air dozens of different programs each day on its Altice cable Channel 79, along with locally produced shows about community non-profits, public service announcements and public affairs items.
“We’re curious about which of these new offerings is capturing viewers’ attentions,” says Jim Cameron, Program Director of the station. “We’re also interested to hear what other kinds of local programming Darien residents would like to see.”
The online survey, which takes two minutes to complete, can be found here.
Darien Tax Collector Kathy Larkins would like to remind taxpayers who qualify for extended time to pay their January 2021 property taxes, the application deadline is Monday Feb. 1, 2021. That’s the last date on the postmark that will be accepted, even if the envelope is mailed from abroad. Or you can email it. Or deliver it in person on Monday (the office and the rest of Town Hall closes at 5:15 p.m. that day, and Town Hall is closed on Fridays.)
— an announcement from the Darien Tax Collector’s Office
This application may be found on the Tax Collector’s page on the Town of Darien website and requires applicants to attest to a loss of income as a result of COVID-19.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson’s State of the Town report to the Representative Town Meeting Monday night was long and covered a lot of topics, including the impact of COVID-19 on town spending, operations and its affect on local business; continued interest by state lawmakers in overriding local zoning; and the possibility of state laws on the town budget. She also touched on the events of the past year and praised the town’s accomplishments. Here are some of the highlights (with the full text of her speech, as prepared, below; Darienite.com will add the Darien TV79 video when it becomes available):
Stevenson gave this COVID-19 statistical update: “As of today (Dec. 7), 492, or 2.26% of Darien residents (21,775) have tested positive for COVID since the first week of March. Twenty-one residents have been hospitalized and sadly, five of our residents passed away due to COVID complications.
Darien Board of Education Chairman David Dineen delivered his first State of the Town report to the Representative Town Meeting on Monday. “As of Friday, Dec. 4, the District had 16 active COVID-19 cases with a cumulative total of 881 persons quarantined,” Dineen said. “As school, town, country and state cases continue to rise, decisions on the school learning model will be reviewed on a regular basis,” in consultation with or with attention to town, state and federal officials and agencies, he said. “Presently, total COVID spending is $3,294,477, less grant and transfers of $2,477,939,” Dineen said.
Darien land use boards put in place the town’s business regulations in response to the COVID-19 epidemic before any other community in the area, Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Stephen Olvany boasted in his State of the Town address Monday night. It was among several boasts Olvany made about the town’s recent accomplishments and prospects. Among them: Darien has been a top target for families moving out of New York City; the town’s office vacancy rate is below similar area towns; its residential home prices are slightly higher than New Canaan and Westport. Olvany said the Palmer’s redevelopment project in downtown Noroton Heights is expected to begin sometime this year, and the project should take two years. Here’s the text of Olvany’s speech, as prepared:
Thank you, Mister Moderator, Members of the RTM, my fellow elected officials and The People of Darien.