Accidents: April 2014

Preliminary Report: Pilots Safely Wrestle AStar to the Ground

Airbus AS350B3, Houlton, Maine, Jan. 17, 2014–Neither of the two AStar pilots was injured after a forced landing near the end of Runway 23 at Houlton International Airport (HUL). Operated by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the helicopter had departed HUL for a local nighttime training flight. During a takeoff near the end of the runway, at approximately 8:40 p.m. and with the copilot at the controls, both pilots heard a loud explosion from behind the cabin, followed by severe vibrations.

The helicopter quickly developed controllability problems, at which time the PIC took control. He noticed red lights on the warning panel but had insufficient time to identify them. With limited control, the pilot managed to set the helicopter down just beyond some snow banks at the end of the runway. As he shut down the engine, both pilots noticed a red glow against the snow. Despite the absence of any fire warning lights they assumed the helicopter was on fire and exited. The copilot tried unsuccessfully to douse the flames with a portable extinguisher. After arriving 10 minutes later, the local fire department put out the fire.

The PIC told investigators that throughout the event, he could not adjust the collective without inducing “extreme” attitude excursions, nor could he stabilize the helicopter to the point that he could roll off the power. After about 30 seconds the attitude excursions began to “calm down,” at which time he was able to land safely. Once the helicopter touched down, the PIC noted that the first warning lights he had seen were an amber eng chip light and the red gov light. After reviewing training materials later, the PIC was able to estimate that the other amber lights he had seen were the fuel (pressure) and door lights.

Preliminary Report: Twin Commander Accident Fatal to Four

Twin Commander 690C, Bellevue, Tenn., Feb. 3, 2014–A Commander 690C twin turboprop was destroyed when it crashed at 4:55 p.m. during an instrument approach to John C. Tune (JWN) Airport in Nashville, Tenn. The flight had originated from Great Bend, Kan., and the crew had just picked up the aircraft from a maintenance shop after a 150-hour inspection.

On arrival at JWN, the pilot missed the first attempt at the GPS Runway 2 approach and was vectored back for a second attempt. During the second attempt, the airplane veered to the left while on final approach, began a descent and turned to a heading of about 210 degrees before radar contact was lost. ATC received no distress calls. All four people aboard the aircraft died in the crash. JWN weather at 4:55 p.m. was reported as 800 feet overcast with five statute miles visibility.

The aircraft hit trees in a field adjacent to a building about nine miles south of JWN, creating an 11-foot-long, 11-foot-wide, six-foot-deep crater. Broken tree branches at the 50-foot level displayed 45-degree angled cuts and the airplane hit the ground inverted at about a 70-degree angle. A post-crash fire consumed most of the airframe. Portions of both outboard wings, the nose section, empennage and all flight control surfaces were located at the accident site. Neither powerplant displayed any obvious evidence of catastrophic failure and both were found intact but with fire damage. Both propellers displayed evidence of rotational scoring, with leading- and trailing-edge gouges consistent with rotation at the time of impact.

Preliminary Report: Helicopter Damaged During Training

Hughes 369D, Naples, Fla., Feb. 3, 2014–An MD500D operated by the Collier Mosquito Control District was substantially damaged during a practice 180-degree autorotation at Naples airport. Visual conditions existed at the time of the accident and neither the ATP-rated pilot nor the flight instructor aboard was injured.

The flight instructor reported that before the last practice “full down” autorotation, they performed two running landings, two stuck left pedal maneuvers, three stuck right pedal maneuvers, and eight successful autorotations in which the aircraft appeared to be performing normally. During the incident, as in the previous eight approaches, the helicopter responded the same during the flare, but this time suddenly lost altitude and contacted the ground. The instructor “quickly grabbed” the controls and landed the helicopter as it yawed 90 degrees to the right. The ATP-rated pilot, who had been undergoing annual proficiency training, said that two of the 180-degree autorotations to touchdown were performed successfully but that on the third one the helicopter’s tail hit the ground.

The ATP believed that the entry to the maneuver was normal and that before touchdown the helicopter was level and pointed largely into the wind, with the wind at most 10 to 15 degrees left of the nose and landing direction. He was at the target speed of approximately 60 knots indicated airspeed, and the rotor rpm was in the middle of the green arc. He initiated the flare about 50 feet above the ground to arrest the forward motion as he had done on the previous autorotations, but at some point during the flare he felt a bump as the tail hit the ground. He said he continued the procedure and arrested the forward motion, resulting in a normal touchdown with little forward motion. But the helicopter came to rest turned 60 degrees to the right of its intended direction.

A witness said that during the last approach the helicopter seemed to be descending more rapidly and aggressively than before. He said that when the helicopter was approximately 100 feet agl it nosed up aggressively as the tail struck the ground and came to rest with the main rotor still turning.

Subsequent examination showed impact damage to the tail-rotor blades. The tail-rotor driveshaft was also twisted and bent, as were the horizontal stabilizer and the forward and aft tail-rotor driveshaft couplings. The tail-rotor driveshaft dampener was distorted, and the tail-rotor output shaft on the transmission was bent.

Preliminary Report: King Air Accident Claims Pilot

Beechcraft King Air B100, Pearland, Texas, Feb. 19, 2014–The private pilot, the only occupant of the Part 91 aircraft, was killed during a missed approach from the Runway 32 GPS approach at Pearland. The airplane was registered to and operated by TDC Aviation of Wilmington, Del. The aircraft was in the process of circling to Runway 14 at 8:45 a.m. when it missed the approach and subsequently crashed. Weather was reported at 8:53 a.m. as wind from the south at eight knots, five miles visibility, mist, and an overcast at 300 feet.

Two witnesses reported hearing the airplane overhead but it was not visible through the low clouds. Three others, working in a nearby oilfield, reported seeing the airplane hit the ground nose first.

The impact created a crater with signatures consistent with a near vertical collision with terrain. The wreckage was highly fragmented and a post-crash fire destroyed most of the airplane.

Preliminary Report: Four Perish in Falcon 20

Dassault Falcon 20, Kish Island, Iran, March 3, 2014–All four people aboard the Falcon 20 were killed when the aircraft crashed 2.5 miles east of Kish Island. The aircraft was reportedly on a navigational equipment calibration flight at the time of the accident. Weather at that time is unknown.

Preliminary Report: BAe 748 Crashes in Sudan

British Aerospace BAe 748, Rubkona Airport, South Sudan, Feb. 17, 2014–One crewmember was killed and three others were seriously injured when the wing of a BAe 748 twin turboprop delivering humanitarian aid collided with two ground vehicles during the landing roll. The collision ignited a fire. According to reports, the International Organization for Migration had chartered the aircraft from 748 Air Services.

Preliminary Report: Brasilia Substantially Damaged in Accident

Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia, near Lukapa Airport, Lunda Norte, Angola, Feb. 25, 2014–The undercarriage, wings and engines of the Brasilia were substantially damaged when the twin turboprop made a forced landing on rough terrain after experiencing an unspecified engine problem en route to Dundo Airport. None of the 17 people aboard the aircraft was injured.

Preliminary Report: Antonov Accident Kills 11

Antonov An-26, near Grombalia, Tunisia, Feb. 21, 2014–Everyone on board the Antonov medical flight was killed when the turboprop twin crashed 20 miles from Tunis Carthage Airport. Reports said ATC received a message from the crew that the aircraft was experiencing engine problems just before the accident.

Preliminary Report: Twin Otter Crash Fatal to All Aboard

De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300, northwest of Sandhikhark, Nepal, Feb. 16, 2014–The last radio contact with a Nepal Airlines Twin Otter was reported at 1:13 p.m. on a flight between Pokhara and Jumla, Nepal. The aircraft was declared missing not long after it failed to make its 1:45 p.m. arrival time at Jumla. Search-and-rescue located the aircraft the next morning at the 7,000-foot terrain level. The aircraft was destroyed, with no survivors.

Final Report: Fuel Exhaustion Blamed in Flight of Police Bell 206B

Bell 206B, Clarkson Valley, Mo., Oct. 15, 2010–Poor preflight planning, subsequent fuel exhaustion and the pilot’s mishandling of engine failure caused the crash of a Bell 206 operated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, according to the NTSB. The sole-occupant pilot died in the crash, which occurred at 11 a.m. in visual weather conditions. Contributing to the accident, however, were medical conditions the pilot did not report on his FAA physical, any of which would likely have disqualified him from holding a medical certificate. Before the accident flight, the pilot had been flying with two other police officers on a traffic patrol that lasted almost two hours. He commented to one officer in the front seat that the flight would be shorter than usual because he needed to fly to Spirit of St. Louis (SUS) Airport for fuel. The officer in the front seat noticed that the helicopter’s fuel gauge indicated about halfway between E and 25 (approximately the quarter-tank point). He also told investigators he did not notice anything unusual about the way the helicopter seemed to be operating up to the point at which he and his partner were dropped off at the Arnold Police Department at approximately 11 a.m. The pilot told the trooper it would take him about 10 minutes to fly to SUS. The helicopter crashed less than 10 minutes after takeoff from the Arnold Police Department site.

Post-accident examination of the helicopter revealed no usable fuel on board and that the main rotor mast had separated as a result of overload stemming from mast bumping (contact between the main rotor hub and the rotor mast). Investigators noted no pre-impact mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the helicopter. Mast bumping typically results from a low-G flight condition caused by the pilot’s pushing the cyclic control forward abruptly from either straight-and-level flight or after a climb. Pushing the cyclic forward abruptly is contrary to the appropriate actions for entering an autorotation, which are lowering the collective pitch control to the full down position, adding anti-torque pedal as needed to maintain heading, and applying aft cyclic as needed to maintain proper airspeed and rotor rpm.

Review of the pilot’s medical records indicated that he also had a history of depression, anxiety and obstructive sleep apnea. Each of these conditions had been documented and treated since 2007, although none was reported to the FAA on the pilot’s airman medical application in 2010 or earlier. Any of these conditions might have disqualified the pilot from obtaining an airman’s medical certificate. Post-mortem toxicological testing indicated that the pilot was taking alprazolam (an anti-anxiety medication) and venlafaxine (an anti-depressant). Alprazolam can aggravate obstructive sleep apnea, and venlafaxine can cause fatigue and dizziness. With his blood level of venlafaxine found to be higher than normal therapeutic levels, the Board noted, it was more likely that the side effect of dizziness had occurred and impaired the pilot’s performance.

New state map available across state, online

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – Kentucky travelers can now find the 2014 Kentucky Official Highway Map at rest areas, welcome centers, local convention and tourism offices and Kentucky State Parks.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet publishes the map annually, offering information for the traveling public. This year’s map reflects system improvements that include a completed U.S. 27 bypass around Cynthiana, an extension of the south Elizabethtown Bypass and a new alignment and bridge over the Tennessee River in Paducah.

The map also lists federally sanctioned bicycle routes along with symbols to indicate limited access parkways and divided highways.

The map also points users to state parks, colleges and universities, airports and river ports, hospitals, welcome centers and rest areas, special points of interest and Kentucky State Police posts.

An electronic version is available at http://www.transportation.ky.gov/maps/pages/default.aspx .

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

New state map available across state, online

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – Kentucky travelers can now find the 2014 Kentucky Official Highway Map at rest areas, welcome centers, local convention and tourism offices and Kentucky State Parks.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet publishes the map annually, offering information for the traveling public. This year’s map reflects system improvements that include a completed U.S. 27 bypass around Cynthiana, an extension of the south Elizabethtown Bypass and a new alignment and bridge over the Tennessee River in Paducah.

The map also lists federally sanctioned bicycle routes along with symbols to indicate limited access parkways and divided highways.

The map also points users to state parks, colleges and universities, airports and river ports, hospitals, welcome centers and rest areas, special points of interest and Kentucky State Police posts.

An electronic version is available at http://www.transportation.ky.gov/maps/pages/default.aspx .

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Two Arrested In 25-Year-Old Cold Case Slaying

Authorities in California recently arrested two men for their alleged connection in the death of Cathy Zimmer, a mother of two who was murdered 25 years ago.

According to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Ted Kajani, investigators have charged Zimmer’s husband, David Zimmer and her husband’s brother, Robert Zimmer, with murder.

David Zimmer, the prosecutor’s office said, has been arrested, in part, because he collected roughly $400,000 from the sale of the home he shared with his wife, as well as life insurance. Robert Zimmer was arrested on the basis of DNA evidence allegedly found on Cathy Zimmer’s body, authorities said.

Zimmer, 38, disappeared from San Jose, Calif., on March 8, 1989. In the hours leading up to her disappearance, she dropped her kids off at school, had lunch with a friend and attended two business classes at San Jose State University.

Authorities believe Zimmer made contact with her killer sometime before 2:45 p.m. –- the time she had a scheduled eye doctor appointment in Los Gatos, which she failed to show up for. Family members later told police it would have been unlikely for Zimmer to skip the appointment, because she was looking forward to getting contact lenses.

Zimmer’s family members reported her missing to police the following morning.

On March 10, 1989, police found Zimmer’s blue 1986 Chrysler New Yorker in a short-term parking lot at San Jose’s airport. On the floor of the backseat, underneath the quilted blanket, authorities found Zimmer’s body. She was fully clothed and had been strangled to death.

For more than two decades, there were no further developments in the case.

In February, the district attorney’s office asked the public for assistance in identifying a handmade quilt — a patchwork of bright and colorful fabric squares – that was found covering the body of Cathy Zimmer.

“We realized that we had never released the quilt to the public,” Kajani told The Huffington Post in February.

At the time, authorities were hoping the quilt would prove to be a crucial piece of the puzzle in the murder mystery.

After The Huffington Post’s initial report on the mystery quilt in February, a reader contacted HuffPost and claimed to have knowledge of it.

“I recognize this quilt. I helped make it. I know why it went to [California],” the reader claimed.

The reader was put in contact with the prosecutor’s office, but authorities are not commenting on the possible lead and the reader will no longer return messages seeking comment from HuffPost.

While it remains unclear whether the lead proved helpful, authorities do claim to have additional proof of the defendants’ guilt, which they are not releasing at this time.

David and Robert Zimmer have both entered not guilty pleas. The two men, who are being held without bail, are expected to appear in court on April 18.

“We do not forget victims, nor do we ever give up on justice,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a press release announcing the arrests.

Anyone who has information on the slaying of Cathy Zimmer is asked to contact investigator Michael Brown at (408) 808-3760.

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Immigration news: Portland immigrant dreams of college; in New York, kids …

Happy Tuesday. Here are a few of the immigration stories I’ve read in the past week.

Local:

American dream:
The Oregonian’s Nicole Duncga followed Sam Romero, who came to the
United States 14 years ago, for a year as he went through the process of
applying to college. Though Romero has temporary legal status under
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, he realized achieving a college
degree takes more than hard work.

Awaiting her fate:
The Oregonian’s Emily Smith talked to Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, who was
convicted of felony hit-and-run in the October crash that killed two
Forest Grove stepsisters, from immigration jail in Tacoma. If released,
Garcia-Cisneros wants to honor the sisters by speaking at schools about
what happened.

Hunger strike: Seattle Weekly reported last week
about the origins and goals of the hunger strike at the Northwest
Detention Center in Tacoma. Two weeks into the strike, a dozen activists
remain fighting for better conditions, down from 1,200.

National:

Borderland: For two weeks beginning March 19, NPR aired a special series called “Borderland.” Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep and a team of producers traveled along the U.S.-Mexico border to explore the people, products and cultures that make their way across.

Revisiting Enrique’s Journey: Sonia Nazario wrote a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning stories for the Los Angeles Times and a 2006 book about Enrique, a Honduras teen en route to the United States to find his mother. Nazario recently released a new version of her book, an update on what has happened to Enrique and a look at the other children who make the same dangerous train journey.

Immigration kids court: New York Immigration Court is holding special hearings for children caught crossing the border alone. Judges in the state have coordinated with pro-bono attorneys and advocacy groups so the kids don’t have to enter the court alone.

–Andrea Castillo

Deadline for Obamacare signup looms

Midnight marks the deadline for Americans to obtain health insurance.

Thoughts of the day: March 31, 2014

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A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning.

THE BUCK STOPS WITH MUSCHAMP

In an interview with USAToday, Florida football coach Will Muschamp took the Harry Truman approach and said the buck stops with him. Last season’s 4-8 record was Florida’s first losing season since 1979 and while it was a season racked with injuries that included his two best players – nose tackle Dominique Easley and quarterback Jeff Driskel – Muschamp wouldn’t use injuries for an excuse. “It’s not acceptable to go 4-8 at Florida regardless of the circumstances,” Muschamp told USAToday’s Dan Wolken. “There were some things that occurred within our team that were hard to overcome, and we didn’t do a good enough job of managing that. And that’s my fault, nobody else’s. I need to do a better job.”

There were greater problems last season than just injuries, but Muschamp again wouldn’t make excuses. “The worst thing you can do in my opinion is create the band-aid mentality of that’s the reason, it’s OK,” Muschamp said. “To me that creates relief syndrome of (believing) everything’s fine when it’s not fine.”

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To Muschamp’s credit, he has taken major steps toward making improvements such as bringing in a new offensive coordinator (Kurt Roper) and line coach (Mike Summers). While the changes are welcome, the scrutiny will be greater than ever before. The last four years – three under Muschamp – have produced a 30-21 record. At a place like Mississippi State, they name streets after you for doing something like that. At Florida, winning 60% of your games is not acceptable to a fan base that got used to averaging 10 wins a season under Steve Spurrier and 11 a year under Urban Meyer.

CALL THIS THE FAMILIAR FOUR

There is an air of familiarity to this year’s Final Four for the Gators, who face UConn Saturday in the first of the two NCAA Tournament semifinal games in Arlington, Texas at Jerry’s World. UConn is the last team to beat the Gators back on December 2, 65-64 on a Shabazz Napier buzzer-beater. The only other team to beat the Gators this season is Wisconsin, which faces Kentucky, who the Gators have beaten three times already this season, in the second semifinal. It must be noted that Scottie Wilbekin missed the last five minutes of the UConn game with a sprained ankle and neither Kasey Hill (sprained ankle) or Chris Walker (wasn’t eligible yet) played in the game. Wisconsin was the second game of the season and the Gators played without Wilbekin and Dorian Finney-Smith, who were both suspended, and Chris Walker. Florida is at full strength for the games in Arlington. Early Las Vegas betting has Florida a 6.5-point favorite to beat UConn and Kentucky a 2-point favorite to beat Wisconsin. Current betting lines have Florida a 1/1 favorite to win the national championship with Kentucky at 2/1, Wisconsin at 3/1 and UConn at 7/1.

THE SEC IS 11-1 IN THE TOURNAMENT THIS YEAR

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi spent plenty of time on Twitter Sunday fending off SEC fans who were adamant that getting Florida and Kentucky to the Final Four and an SEC aggregate of 11-1 in this year’s NCAA Tournament is proof positive the league deserved more than three bids. “Still irrelevant” is how Lunardi responded to one fan who said getting Florida and Kentucky to the Final Four is proof the league wasn’t that weak. I think there were at least three other teams below Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee that were capable of playing in the NCAA but they blew it with lousy finishes in the regular season and the SEC Tournament. I think the bottom half of the SEC needs to get serious about basketball. Until the bottom feeders start playing representative schedules and winning non-conference games against teams ranked in the top 150 RPI the league is going to get the bare minimum teams in the tournament.

SEC IN NCAA TOURNAMENT PLAY SINCE 2000

Since 2000, Florida has the best record in the Southeastern Conference in NCAA Tournament play with a 34-10 record (including this year) that includes two national championships, three championship game appearances, four Final Fours, seven Elite Eights and seven Sweet 16s. Kentucky is right behind the Gators with a 32-11 record, one national championship, one national championship game appearance, three Final Fours, six Elite Eights and eight Sweet 16s. During the same period, the SEC has a combined one Final Four appearance, five Elite Eights and 15 Sweet 16s. NCAA Tournament records are: Alabama 5-6, Arkansas 1-3, Auburn 3-2, Georgia 1-3, LSU 7-5, Mississippi State 3-5, Missouri 9-8, Ole Miss 4-4, South Carolina 0-1, Tennessee 12-9, Texas AM 5-5 and Vanderbilt 4-5.

BREAK OUT THE BROOMS

The talk all spring about Kevin O’Sullivan’s Florida baseball team is that you better get the Gators early because once the kids start figuring things out, they’re going to be extremely tough to beat. The Gators (19-9, 6-3 SEC) might be coming of age at just the right time because this was a very productive week starting with that win over #1 Florida State back on Tuesday. The Gators rode that wave into the weekend where they swept #4-ranked LSU, taking the third and final game of the series, 11-7, Sunday before a crowd of 4,012 at McKethan Stadium. The Gators are making the plays in the field, cutting down on the errors and they’re starting to hit with men on base. Throw in the good pitching from a lot of live, young arms and this is a team that could make some serious waves the rest of the way. The Gators have a team ERA of 2.89 and that team batting average of .262 is on the rise. This is a fun team to watch.

ELSEWHERE IN FLORIDA SPORTS

Florida’s women’s tennis team is now 190-1 all time against SEC teams at home following the Gators’ (15-4, 7-2 SEC) 4-0 shutout of LSU at the Ring Tennis Complex Sunday … The 4th-ranked Florida lacrosse team (12-2, 3-0 American Lacrosse Conference) got four goals each from Mollie Stevens and Shannon Gilroy and three from Devon Schneider to help the Gators to a 13-9 win over #11 Penn State at Donald R. Dizney Stadium … The softball team (31-7, 5-7 SEC) continued its recent struggles, dropping a doubleheader to Tennessee in Knoxville, 5-2, in the first game and 7-6 in the second. Florida gave up five runs late in the first game … Men’s tennis (10-7, 5-3 SEC) shut out LSU, 4-0, in Baton Rouge … The 16th-ranked women’s golf team concluded the regular season this weekend with a ninth-place finish at the Bryan National Collegiate Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was their ninth consecutive finish in the top ten in a tournament.

COACHING SEARCHES

Marquette whiffed on VCU’s Shaka Smart and there were rumors that the next target on the list was Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin. Apparently there was nothing to that rumor and the probable choice is Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski. Having lost Chris Collins last year to Northwestern and Wojo probably leaving, this is the biggest shakeup in years for Coach K’s staff  … Now that UNLV coach Dave Rice has said no to USF, New Mexico coach Craig Neal has become the target of the day. Neal might bolt because New Mexico isn’t going to give him a raise from his $750,000 salary and USF is offering $1.2 million. If Neal says no, USF is going to find it more and more challenging to find a top tier coach willing to take that job … Former Gator assistant Mike Montgomery is expected to announce his retirement as the coach at California … Dayton coach Archie Miller, who played collegiately at North Carolina State, is expected to emerge as a leading candidate at Wake Forest.

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Leading off Texas Week is the late, great blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, who died much, much too early in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin. His first album was “Texas Flood” which was released in 1983. The album included “Pride and Joy” and “Love Struck Baby” which both hit the mainstream Billboard charts. My favorite track on the album is the title track, “Texas Flood.” This is the long version of “Texas Flood,” which was written by the late, great Larry Davis back in 1958 and became a blues standard.

Jacy Good and Manheim Central mom Melannie Bryson urge teens to put down …

Sonia Hahnlen was a surgical intensive care nurse on duty when Jacy Good was brought to Reading Hospital on May 18, 2008.


Good’s parents had died in a vehicle crash caused by a driver who was on his cellphone, and she was close to death.

After extensive surgery, her chances of survival were put at 10 percent.

On Saturday morning, she was the keynote speaker at a teen driver safety seminar at Clipper Magazine Stadium.

Hahnlen was there, with her 15-year-old daughter, Kara.

Fighting tears at times, mother and daughter listened intently as Good shared her harrowing story, and made her impassioned case against distracted driving.

“It’s a very personal experience for me,” said Hahnlen, a Berks County resident. “My daughter will start driving in November, so I thought it was really important for her to hear [Good] speak.”

As an ICU nurse, she said, “Unfortunately, I see it all.”

And having seen so much, she said she knows there’s a real need to better educate kids about driver safety.

That was the aim of the free breakfast seminar organized by BCF Group, a Lancaster insurance provider.

Driving the message home

A hundred teens and parents turned out to Clipper Magazine Stadium to hear Good and other speakers, including Melannie Bryson, whose son was one of four Manheim Central High School football players killed in a car crash in 2011.

Young drivers are warned all the time about the dangers of distracted driving.

But there’s nothing like looking into the faces of one woman who lost her parents and another who lost her son to drive the message home.

“It was very powerful and it was very moving,” said Forrest Brooks, who’s 17 and a junior at Warwick High School, Jacy Good’s alma mater.

“Their experiences can impact and influence us all if we’re willing to listen.”

A daughter’s story

Jacy Good just had graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, and was being driven home to Brunnerville by her parents when her family’s station wagon was struck head-on by a tractor-trailer.

The tractor-trailer driver swerved to avoid a minivan that had failed to stop at a red light. The minivan driver was talking on his phone.

Jay and Jean Good died at the scene. Their daughter had a terrible litany of critical injuries, including a shattered pelvis, damaged carotid arteries and a traumatic brain injury.

Jacy Good spent two months in Reading Hospital, and two more months in a rehabilitation hospital.

She said her “Phi Beta Kappa brain” had to relearn the alphabet, how to read, how to count.

“My memories from rehab pretty much could be summed up in one word: pain,” she said.

Three months after her accident, she could take a few steps. Four months after the accident, she moved back into her family home.

She had no memories of her accident, but she began to realize the extent of her loss — her beloved parents were really and truly gone —when she got home.

“I started to ask questions,” she said. “I needed to know what happened.”

The young man driving his mother’s minivan was doing what he thought was safe: His phone was in speaker mode.

But even talking on the phone using Bluetooth or a phone’s speaker function is dangerous, Good said.

The practice leads to what the National Safety Council calls “inattention blindness”: A driver’s overloaded brain doesn’t see, and process, important information.

Stronger law needed?

Good and her husband, Steve Johnson, launched a website, Hang Up and Drive, to advocate for cellphone-free roads.

Good travels around the country to speak.

She appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,’’ and was a guest of Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the United Nations.

Now a resident of White Plains, N.Y., she supported New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to crack down on distracted driving in that state.

“Pennsylvania,” she said, “has really been slow on these things.”

In March 2012, a statewide ban on texting while driving took effect in the commonwealth.

But as Lancaster Newspapers has reported, the ban is difficult to enforce.

A driver simply can claim to have been dialing the phone, rather than texting.

And the offense carries a relatively small penalty: a $50 fine.

State Rep. Bryan Cutler, a Republican from Peach Bottom, said he thought two years ago, and still thinks today, that a more “generalized distracted driving statute” would have been “a better path.”

He said that when he worked second and third shift as a hospital X-ray technologist, he saw all kinds of traumatic injuries from motor accidents.

And commuting to Harrisburg on Route 283, he said he has seen drivers applying makeup, and reading newspapers and books.

Rep. Steven Mentzer is a Republican who represents the Lititz area.

He said Rep. Chris Ross, a Republican from Chester County, has sponsored legislation on distracted driving.

“I plan on taking a closer look at that proposed legislation,” Mentzer said.

A mother’s story

Melannie Bryson spoke Saturday of her son, Nicolas, who died at age 15 on Jan. 16, 2011.

Three friends and teammates died in the same accident: DeVaughn Lee, 15; John Griffith, 16, and Cody Hollinger, 16.

The teens had been trying to drive fast enough to make their car go airborne as it crested a South Londonderry Township hill; their car slid into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

“They were good kids,” Bryson said.  “One decision made wrong cost their lives.”

Bryson spoke of getting a phone call about the accident, of knowing that if her son were still alive, he would have texted her to say he was OK.

“I dropped to my knees, and began begging God for help,” she said.

She remembers walking to the morgue, to see her son’s body, and asking her pastor, “Did his spirit leave yet? Is he in heaven?”

She remembers her younger son asking if he could wear Nick’s football number.

“That day, a part of me died when Nick died,” she said.

Now, she said, “I live with pain every day.”

She is focused on helping other families avoid that pain: She’s the founder and CEO of Mourning Light Foundation, a nonprofit whose aims include educating teen drivers.

The need for such education has grown, as high schools have replaced mandatory driver education with a voluntary online course.

Vehicle crashes, Bryson pointed out, are the leading killer of American teens.

Ripple effect of loss

When Jacy Good married Steve Johnson, her college sweetheart, on Oct. 12, her father wasn’t there to walk her down the aisle.

She wore a gown she chose with help from TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” crew, but missed having her mother with her when she chose her gown.

She is unable to use her left arm, and has other lingering issues.

She implored the teens at the seminar to imagine being in her shoes.

Promise, she said, that “every single time you drive, you’re smart, you’re safe.”

She implored them to turn off their cellphones or put them out of reach.

And she told them to speak up if a friend drives distractedly — the dangers are too serious, the potential losses “hurt too much,” she said.

An accident hurts not only those directly involved, but has a ripple effect, she said, noting, “When we’re on the road, we have to look out for each other.”

‘Compelling reasons’

Tom Haas, of New Danville, brought his 17-year-old daughter, Allison, to the seminar.

He said the seminar offered “compelling reasons, compelling stories to not be distracted” when driving.

Lori Reed, of East Earl Township, said the seminar conveyed the seriousness of what’s at stake when you get behind the wheel.

Her son, Zach, 16, is a junior at Garden Spot High School, and a football player. He said he could really relate to Bryson’s stories about her son.

Illysha DeJesus, 17, a junior at Manheim Township High School, said she was moved by Jacy Good’s pain over losing her parents.

“I think it really hits you, like, wow this could happen to anyone,” Illysha said.

Her father, Cesar DeJesus, said he would like Pennsylvania to enact a strict distracted driving law.

“You don’t realize until you start teaching somebody how to drive how many things they have to focus on,” he said.

Beth Deliver, of Manheim Township, was there with her daughter, Sarah, who’s 15. She said she wished all parents and teens could hear the “brave, selfless speakers who came to share their unbelievable life experiences. … It [would] save lives.”

Maturo: ‘We Have, Indeed, Put East Haven Back On the Right Track’

The following is the full text of East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr’s “State of the State Address.” In addition, the powerpoint presentation for Mayor Maturo’s proposed 2014-15 budget is also shared above. 

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, Town Council members, residents of our great community, and guests.  Welcome to East Haven High School.

By Charter, I am required to address the Legislative Town Council each year regarding the state of our Town and to present my budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year.  It is a privilege and honor to do both this evening for the thirteenth time in my career as Mayor of this great community.

A short newspaper headline, which appeared in the New Haven Register on August 11, 2013, distinctly summaries the 365 days since my last address to this Council: “Courage, Unity, and Heroism in East Haven.”  

That headline, which referred to our residents’ heartfelt response to the horrific plane crash on Charter Oak Avenue, perfectly describes the grittiness, hard work, compassion, and progress that have defined the last year for our great community.

Before I continue any further, I’d ask you all to join me in a moment of silence to remember the families impacted by that horrific tragedy, especially Sade and Madisyn, who forever remain in our hearts and prayers.

I am proud to say that in the last twelve months, in the face of relentless scrutiny from the local press, this administration has made incredible progress addressing the fiscal and cultural challenges that we were met with upon resuming office in November of 2011.  Although we are still cautious of the challenges that lie ahead, I stand before you tonight confident that we have, indeed, put East Haven back on the right track.

No one person is to credit for our Town’s remarkable recovery.  We’re blessed, here in East Haven, to have an abundance of residents, employees, and elected and un-elected leaders who continuously and generously give back to our community through their charitable, social, and professional endeavors.  In my opinion, these individuals are nothing short of everyday heroes, especially in light of the fact that the vast majority of their work goes largely unnoticed, especially by the local press.  

Tonight, I intend to talk about the progress we’ve made in the last year, some of the individuals who have been particularly responsible for that progress, and some of the critical challenges that still lay ahead for our great community.

With that said, let me begin…

POLICE DEPARTMENT/DOJ/DIVERSITY

Only 27 months ago, on December 19, 2011, the Department of Justice issued a 23 page civil findings letter to the Town East Haven, citing our Town’s police department for alleged civil rights violations including claims of false arrest, excessive force, and biased policing.  Just a month following issuing that letter, four of our officers were arrested on criminal charges related to the civil findings released just a month prior.  

As you all know, in immediate response to these historic challenges, I formed the Law Enforcement Advisory Resource Network, recruited veteran police chief Brent Larrabee to restore stability in our department, initiated a host of outreach programs and community meetings with minority business owners, formed the Town’s first “Inter-faith Faith Council,” and, most importantly, engaged the Department of Justice in negotiations to settle their civil claims by modernizing and revolutionizing our police department.

Negotiations to settle with the Department of Justice persisted throughout 2012, with the goal of avoiding protracted and costly litigation.  Thanks to the dedication and hard work of Atty. Lawrence Sgrignari and our entire legal team, on December 21, 2012, the United States Federal Court approved the compliance agreement negotiated between the Town and the Department of Justice.  Based on the progress we’ve made since that day and in such a short time, I regard that day as one of the single-most important and positive turning points in our community’s history.

As part of the compliance agreement, the Town agreed to retain a “joint compliance expert,” – a wonderful woman by the name of Kathy O’Toole.  Her job is to be a mediator and broker between the Town and the DOJ.  At the same time, she also oversees and reports on the Town’s implementation of the settlement agreement.   

I think I speak for the our entire team when I say that Ms. O’Toole has proven to be engaged and truly dedicated to helping our community succeed in satisfying the requirements of our settlement agreement.  In many ways, her experience as a street cop, as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Massachusetts State Police, as an administrator in Boston, and as Chief Inspector with the Irish National Police Force, have proven invaluable in helping direct our efforts here in East Haven.

A brief look at Kathy O’Toole’s first annual compliance report, released just two months ago, paints a clear picture of the astounding success our police department and Chief Larrabee have enjoyed since its compromise with the Department of Justice.

Specifically, our Police Department and compliance team have met every single deadline called for under the settlement agreement up to the recently passed 365 day mark.  This feat is extraordinary, especially in light of the fact that, to the best of our knowledge, no other jurisdiction in the country has ever managed to meet these deadlines on time and in compliance.  This is truly a remarkable accomplishment and then men and women of Police Department deserve a round-of-applause for this.

Benchmarks achieved by our police department in the first 365 days include:

The complete revision of all of the Department’s policies and procedures;

The development of approved testing procedures to ensure that all training is valid, reliable, and fair;

The development of a system to collect data on all stops and searches which can be easily analyzed and integrated into the Department’s existing computer system;

The issuance of semi-annual reports regarding stops and searches;

And, our officers have completed all hourly training requirements.  In some cases, the department has gone well beyond the number of hours requested by the Department of Justice.

To be more specific, our officers received training in no less than 16 different areas and countless sub-areas in the last year.  To name a few prime examples… 

The Internal Affairs Officer, members of the command staff, and all supervisory staff completed 40 hours of “Internal Affairs” training apiece.

Sergeants and all officers on the eligibility list for sergeant last year obtained 40 hours of “Line Supervisor” training.

One captain, most lieutenants, and one sergeant completed 40 hours of management training apiece.  

One Lieutenant attended the three-week Executive Education Program in State and Local Government offered at the Harvard Kennedy School – the equivalent of 135 hours of training.

All sworn personnel completed a combined total of 15 hours of training on the topics of “stop, search, and seizure,” “bias free policing,” and “eyewitness identification training.”

In addition to updating policies and obtaining critical training, our police department has continued to engage in outreach efforts with the community.  We have hosted several open houses; the most was just this last month.  They’ve completely re-designed their website to be more accessible, especially to individuals with limited abilities to speak English. Finally, they’ve been pro-active in addressing issues of everyday importance to our residents, including noise, ATV usage, and illicit drug activity.

The modernization and administration of our police department since over the past year has truly been a collaborative success.  Despite manpower shortages that we are aggressively working to resolve, I am confident that our police department will continue to achieve success and is well on its way to being one of the greatest small departments in New England.

TOWNWIDE IMPROVEMENTS

While we have invested heavily in our Police Department since 2011, we have also made several significant improvements to the Town’s infrastructure, especially in the last year.

(Restoration of the Town Beach)

I have always said that our shoreline is one of our community’s greatest assets.  As such, we’ve taken numerous steps to protect it and improve it.  Back in May of 2013, the Town purchased 10,000 tons of new, pristine beach sand which was used to restore our Town Beach after it had been severely eroded by Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.  As a result of both storms, the beach had become so eroded that original piping and foundations were jutting out of the remaining sand.  This restoration project was the first in the Town’s history and will ensure that this precious resource remains available for future generations to enjoy.

(ADA Wheelchair at the Beach)

In addition to restoring the sand at our Town Beach, the Town finally obtained and installed a special wheelchair that is capable of moving over beach sand.  The wheelchair, which I personally tested along with our ADA compliance officer Candice Criscuolo, will allow residents who have trouble walking, or who would otherwise be unable to reach the water, to travel over the beach and enter the water.  

(Renovations to North High Street)

While our Town Beach received a major upgrade over the summer, public hearings were held in June to discuss four different plans for re-designing North High Street.  The ultimate goal of most of the designs is to connect the center of Town with Route 80 via sidewalks, bike lanes, or some combination of the same.  Prior to the hearing, “CDM Smith,” the firm responsible for producing the four options, spent several months compiling traffic data, including locations of accidents between 1995 and 2009.  The firm provided information, at the public hearings, about which design option might be best for residents.  Best of all, the Town confirmed that a large portion of the financing for the project would be covered by the South Central Regional Council of Governments, a 15-town collaborative that includes East Haven.  

Most recently, I was in contact with Carl Amento, of the Council of Governments, to confirm the Town’s continued eligibility to pursue this project.  We are continuing to work with COG to develop final plans, arrange financing, and begin this much-needed upgrade to our infrastructure. 

(Cleanup of the Farm River)

While the reconstruction of North High street is a relatively new development, our commitment to cleaning the Farm River is one I’ve discussed on a number of prior occasions.  Last year, as I have done in all my prior terms as Mayor, I dispatched public works crews to clean debris in and around the river (near Corbin Road, Hellstrom Road, and Willow Street) to help prevent long-term buildup and minimize flooding.  Our team’s extensive and aggressive clean-up work along the river banks, recently and especially during my previous 10 years in office, has had the direct effect of minimizing and preventing the serious flooding issues that our residents living in these vulnerable areas had to endure for far too long.

(Road Paving Capital Program)

Recognizing the need to continue to invest in our physical infrastructure, my 2013 budget included an aggressive road-paving plan in which the Town milled and paved sixteen streets.  As you may or may not know, each year, my public works supervisors assign grades to the condition of each road in Town.  After reviewing their reports, we develop a plan to pave those most in need or having special circumstances justifying their repair.  Although the Town continues to patch problem areas as they are reported, I’m pleased to report that, overall, our roads are in excellent condition, primarily due to our Town’s continued commitment to yearly paving and patching.

(New Speaker System at the Senior Center)

Additionally, this past year, our senior center received a small upgrade – in the form of new, wireless microphones.  The new system, which has several more microphones, is both clearer and louder that our old system, and is utilized by most of the boards and commissions which meet at the Senior Center.  For those who have difficulty hearing, the new sound system is a vast improvement over the old system. 

(Looking ahead)

Looking ahead, the Town is continuing to explore the possibility of a second splash pad to be located in Foxon along with the development of a skate park to be located on the southern end of Town.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

While we’ve invested in our infrastructure, economic development by both the Town and private businesses has also flourished in the past year.

(200 Tyler Street)

After years of disagreement and delay regarding what to do with 200 Tyler Street, I am proud to report that we are making real progress with a plan for the property.  I’d thank to thank all of the Town Council members for their ideas, their personal visits to my office, and for the Council’s bipartisan effort in helping to move this project forward.   I am cautiously optimistic that concrete plans for the property will be announced as me move through the Spring and into the Summer.

(Shoprite)

In my speech before you last year, I announced that Shoprite would finally be opening its doors in 2013.  As expected, Shoprite opened in the fall of and has been doing tremendously.  They have also been very generous in their donations to our Town’s civic organizations and annual events.  All indications are that Shoprite is poised to serve as an anchor in the Route 80 corridor for many years to come.

(Various Businesses – West End)

Throughout the past year, countless businesses decided to open up and make East Haven their home, with many opting to open up right on Main Street.  East Haven will soon have its own local brew, manufactured by the soon-to-open “Offshore Brewing Company.”  Additionally, Main Street will soon feature a new deli which will offer authentic Latino and Italian deli cuisine.  Main Street will also soon become home to a new hair salon and nail salon, which will be opening in spaces vacated last year.

Since 2011, our administration has worked hard to let businesses know that we are a business-friendly Town and, as you can see from the development in just the last year, it has really paid off.

EDUCATION

While the Town continued to invest in its capital resources and promote economic development, our Board of Education, along with our students, made some headlines as well.

Perhaps most noticeably, this school year began with a new Superintendent – Dr. Portia Bonner.  She has been an absolute pleasure to work with.  Based on the Board’s development of a more concrete five-year plan, it is clear that her enthusiasm and vision have already begun to have a positive impact our educational system.  

On a similar note, this past year marked the return of Finance Director Paul Rizza as the head of the Board of Education’s finances.  During my first ten years as Mayor, Mr. Rizza managed both the Town and the Board’s budgets.  During my absence, these jobs were separated – creating an additional full-time salary and all of the benefit and insurance obligations that accompany another position.  Last year, Mr. Rizza agreed to return to his dual role, saving both the Town and the Board of Education substantial monies.  Additionally, he’s done a tremendous job keeping the Board of Education financially on track.

However, our administrators aren’t the only ones making news up at the Board of Education.

This past year, the East Haven High School Yellow Jacket Marching Band took second place out of nine bands appearing in their division in the annual State competition.  In addition, they brought home the “Caption Award” for “Best Effect’ in 2013’s “U.S. Bands New England States Championship” in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  All of the members of our marching band demonstrate incredible commitment each and every year – and their commitment truly pays off in the form of success at regional and national competitions.  To all of the band members, band parents, and to Matt Laudano: Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication.  We’re all very proud of you. Let’s give our marching band a much-deserved round-of-applause…

One thing I’ve learned in my time as Mayor is that we have some of the most patriotic students on the shoreline right here in East Haven.  This past year’s crop of students was no exception to the rule.  In June, local students led residents in our celebration of Flag Day and partook in our Town’s annual “Pause for the Pledge” ceremony on the Town Green.  As you may or may not know, East Haven is one of the only municipalities in the State that upholds President Reagan’s statutory call to pause for the pledge.  It is a touching, time-honored ceremony which is only made more special as a result of our students’ participation.

Later in the summer, students from Tuttle School marched to Town Hall waving flags in a somber remembrance of the September 11th tragedy.  Once at Town Hall, students led attendees, including the Superintendent, Police Chief, and Fire Chief, in a touching ceremony.  The ceremony concluded with a custom version of “God Bless America,” revised to be “God Bless East Haven.”  

Also, if you didn’t see the New Haven Register this past week, East Haven middle school students recently raised more than $1,500 dollars for our animal shelter.  Just last Friday, 11 members of Joseph Melillo Middle School’s student council unloaded countless boxes packed with kibble and Milk-Bones to be donated to the Shelter.  The Student Council adopted the animal shelter as their community project and, for next year, has set a goal of doubling this year’s donation.  

Finally, you may remember the “Bridge Brigade” – a group of local students that began a letter-writing campaign when the Town received news that the State planned to demolish the historic Main Street Bridge near the Branford border.  The bridge, which was built in 1900, has significant local historical value.  As a result of the work of the “Bridge Brigade,” and with some urging from my administration, I am happy to report that the State has revised the transportation plans for the “Route 1” project to preserve and renovate the existing historic bridge.

As you can see, patriotism and civic awareness are sentiments that are alive and well among our Town’s students.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION/RESIDENTS

It’s clear that our students have picked up on the example set by their parents, some of whom also made headlines in the past year.

Over Memorial Day Weekend, East Haven honored all of its fallen veterans at its annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Town Green.  At the same time, we honored veteran and community activist Ralph “Butch” Mannochi.  At that ceremony, I personally presented Butch with his award, along with a certificate from Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.   

Additionally, the East Haven Garden Club re-organized this year as the “Shoreline Community garden Club” and is headed by new president Lois Ruocco.  We can look forward to the club continuing to work to make our Town more beautiful.

Finally, following last November’s mayoral debate and election, a group of ten residents organized a local “League of Women Voters” chapter here in Town.  The League of Women Voters has always been active in our community as far as organizing debates and raising political awareness.  It is an added benefit that we will now have our own local chapter right here in East Haven.

While we recognized countless residents last year for their civic contributions, our Community also celebrated the lives of many who left us, but whose contributions to our Town and state continue to make a difference.

Just after the Fourth of July, residents, fellow police officers, and firefighters gathered on the Town Green to dedicate a park bench to former police Sergeant Joseph Buonome, hailed by friends and family as “a beloved son of East Haven.”   Joe Buonome, who died in February of 2013, spent the vast majority of his life serving with the Police Department.  Joe was loved by all and known for his infectious smile, wit, and for having won almost every award given by almost every local community and civic group.  He was as an incredibly dedicated public servant and he will always be remembered as such.  

Additionally, this past fall, our Town said goodbye to former Police Commission Chairman Pete Lougal, husband of Jan Lougal – the director of our senior center.  Pete, and the entire Lougal family, is known for their civic and charitable contributions to East Haven.  He will be sorely missed.

I’d ask you to all to join me in a brief moment of silence in honor of Joe and Pete.

Moving on… Our Town employees and department heads have also worked incredibly hard throughout the past year to continue to offer exceptional services and resources to our resident and continuing to do more, with less.

WORK OF DEPARTMENT HEADS/CURRENT PEOPLE

Town Clerk – Stacy Gravino

The Town Clerk’s office, which is headed by Stacy Gravino, continued to make capital and technology upgrades, most of which have been completed with grants and at no cost to the taxpayers.  

For example, her office has started to undertake the process of back-scanning our land records.  At present, the project is funded to complete the scanning of all land records dating back to 2004.

New cabinets in the vault have made access to vital records and indexes more convenient.  Further, the public now has the ability to access any indexed and scanned land records entirely via the Internet.  In the coming months, maps filed with the Town Clerk’s Office will also become available for viewing and printing. 

Assessor – Michael Milici

Every year, the assessor’s office works diligently to ensure that all property in Town is being fairly assessed.  This year, the assessor’s office justified and enacted several higher assessments on various properties after investigating and confirming that significant improvements to the properties (additions, etc.) were not reported to the Town.  In addition, the assessor’s office continues to crack down on vehicles registered out-of-state for the purpose of evading local taxes.

Recently, Mike Milici was named the President of the Society of Professional Assessors.

Senior Center – Jan Lougal

Our Senior Center, headed by Jan Lougal, enjoyed another busy year.  In 2013, the senior center was visited by an average of over 100 clients daily and provided lunch for up to 25 seniors each day.  The Center served over 5,000 meals in 2013, many of which were made on-site.

This past year, the Senior Center offered various seminars and services including a mammogram bus and flu clinics.  The Town also re-instated the senior medical bus, which takes seniors to and from doctor appointments every Tuesday and Thursday.  

The Senior Center also offered a variety of workshops and activities including parties, line dancing, aerobics, knitting classes, and of course, Bingo.  It held a number of day-trips as well as overnight and week-long trips.

Social Services – Bob Petrucelli

Just recently, the social services department was joined by new interim-director Bob Petrucelli.  Bob is no stranger to the Town.  He is presently the Youth Services director and will be heading both the youth and social services departments moving forward.  He assures me that residents can continue to expect the same quality help obtaining fuel and rental assistance from his office.

Tax Collector – Lisa Basilicato

Moving on… The tax department, led by Lisa Basilicato, continued to work hard to ensure that the Town collected the revenue it needed to fund the services that it provides.  

This past year, working with the office of the Town Attorney, the Tax Department exceeded the delinquent tax collection goal of $575,000 dollars by over $275,000 dollars – or almost 50% more than expected.   

This year, the tax collector and town attorneys are poised to shatter their goal for this year and the prior year’s record, having already collected an astounding $766,000 dollars with several months remaining.

Additionally, while residents continue to be able to pay their taxes online, they can now look up their current and prior tax information online as well.  Residents can log on the to the Town’s tax collector home page to view real-time tax information.

Animal Control – Owen Little

This year, the Animal Control department teamed up with North Haven to form the first Mutual Aid Compact in the region for animal control services.  The compact will allow both Towns’ animal control officers to train collectively on a regular basis and spells out the allocation of any future grant funds obtained as part of the compact.  Most importantly, the compact allows for the sharing of human and capital resources when cruelty or hoarding situations arise that cannot be handled be either Town alone.  The compact is the first of its kind in the region.

Owen also reports that the shelter’s adoption rate has remained at over 92% percent again for this year!

As always, I’d like to remind you all that the Shelter takes monetary donations as well as donations of supplies and gently used toys, blankets, and beds.  Any donation you can make is greatly appreciated. 

Planning and Zoning – Frank Biancur

Throughout the past year, the Planning and Zoning Department has made great strides working with both the Planning Zoning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals to facilitate to opening of countless new businesses.

The Zoning Department continues to work with residents who are rebuilding along Cosey Beach Avenue and other storm damaged areas. Many residents who live in flood zones have raised or are in the process of raising their homes to meet FEMA standards and the Zoning Board of Appeals has not denied a single resident who has come before them to do so.

In August, the Planning and Zoning Dept. completed an Affordable Housing Plan for the Town that was adopted by the Planning and Zoning Commission and has now become part of the Zoning Regulations.  Most recently, the Zoning Department developed a “Downtown Planning and Design Standards” for the West End of Main Street.  The goal of the zoning standards is to promote downtown revitalization and facilitate linking the West End with the Central Business District.

Finally, along with the cooperation of several elected state officials and the DEEP, the Planning and Zoning Dept. was successful in helping get a stone wall built at Victoria Beach Condominiums which will help protect those condos in the event of another hurricane.

Building Department – Jim Basset

Our Building Department shares an office suite with our Zoning Office and the two work hand-in-hand.  In addition to everything reported by the zoning department, our building official reports that in calendar year 2013, the Town issued permits totaling $16.6 million dollars in construction value – a sign that the market for new and remodeled housing is improving.

Perhaps most importantly, the building official reports that our shoreline is approximately 80% rebuilt from Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.

Public Services/Engineering – Kevin White and Bob Parente

In addition to performing the cleanup work around the Farm River and restoring our beach with over 10,000 tons of new beach sand, our Public Works and Engineering Departments have been extremely busy as of late.

This past year, the Engineering Department coordinated recovery efforts with DEEP, and more recently the Army Corp of Engineers, to help over 30 homes businesses in the Cosey Beach, Ellis Road, and Morgan Point areas.  Kevin White reports that future, protective measures are being looked at as we speak

Also, in conjunction with the Public Works Department, the Town continued the clean-out of marsh areas around and along Catherine Street and Brazos Road.

In addition, the Public Works Department performed improvements to both the Momauguin Foxon Sports Complexes.  The department also made improvements to Desert Air System at the Town Pool and expects that installation of a brand-new system will commence in the summer of 2014.  Best of all, the funding for this new system will be coming from a grant from United Illuminating due to emergency conservation credit the Town has earned as a result of completing various energy saving projects across Town.

At the Town Landfill, the Public Works department installed new fencing and landscaping around perimeter.  The Town also began a program of recycling electronic waste.  In fact, the Town has scheduled a “Residential Electronic Recycling Collection Day” for Saturday, May 31st in the Town Hall Parking Lot, from 8AM until 2PM.  At this event, residents can dispose of electronic waste, including old computers, televisions, monitors, and other electronic devices free of charge.

And, although I mentioned it earlier, I’d like to note again that our Public Works department, this past winter season, responded to over 20 snow events, keeping our roads safe for residents and emergency personnel.

Counseling and Community Services – Beth Trotta

The Town continues to benefit from having BHCare manage the East Haven Counseling and Community Services program.  Since the Town contracted with BHCare for the management of our counseling center, revenue has more-than doubled.  Through the mid-way point of FY 12-13, revenue was $57,000 dollars.  Through that same point in the current fiscal year, revenue is $134,000 dollars.  The increase in revenue is a direct result of more accountability and the efficient stewardship of the department’s resources.

While the department is generating more revenue, it is also providing a higher level of service to clients.  While there used to be an extended waiting list to receive care from our facility, the department’s revised referral and intake system has completely eliminated the backlog of clients.  Under the department’s newly revised procedures, residents seeking care are contacted within 48 hours of making a request for care and are immediately scheduled for a group appointment.  

Town Wide Health – Mayor’s Office

Following up on the topic of medical services available in Town, I want to briefly discuss the Town’s Prescription Discount Program – a program available to residents at no charge and at no cost to the taxpayers.

If you are unaware, all residents in East Haven, especially those who are uninsured or underinsured, are eligible to receive a prescription discount card which entitles them to over 50% off various medications (and even some pet medications).

Last year alone, residents made over 1,290 claims using the card and saved over $64,000 on medications.  Average price savings as result of using the card was 57%.

I encourage anyone who has not used the card to look into the program as it is truly a fantastic program, which again, does not cost the taxpayers a dime.

Youth Services Department – Bob Petrucelli 

Our youth services department does so many great things with very limited resources.  Bob Petrucelli reports that this past year, 25 middle school students completed an annual week-long leadership training program that focused on communication and problem solving skills.

In conjunction with the Police Department, the Youth Services Bureau re-started the Juvenile Review Board, which offers appropriate first-time offenders positive community alternatives to Juvenile Court.

Finally, the Teen Center was successfully moved back to the old high school from the Hobby Lobby space on Frontage Road. The new Teen Center, which features the Lizard Lounge Juice Bar, re-opened in time for its third annual summer art program for teens.

Recreation Department – Lou Pane

Our recreation department offers a variety of youth and adult programs each and every year.  In fact, it publishes a pamphlet containing all of the wonderful summer programs it offers annually.  To name a few, the Department will be offering Beach Yoga, Beach Zumba, Beach Aerobics, and Beach Volleyball this upcoming summer along with a variety of youth camps with art, sports, and recreational themes.

The Recreation Department also reports that the Ice Rink is busier than it has ever been.  Presently, the rink is utilized by four high schools, three youth hockey programs, as well as an adult league.  The rink is also open for public skating.  The Department reports that, for the second year in a row, the rink had a positive cash flow and turned a profit.

Police Department – Chief Brent Larrabee

Although I spent a significant portion of my speech discussing the Police Department’s success implementing the recommendations of the Department of Justice, I also want to highlight some of the everyday work our police department is doing.

In June, the Town conducted its first-ever “Gun Buyback Program” at the East Haven Beach House.  As part of the program, residents were encouraged and allowed to turn in unwanted or potentially illegal firearms with no-questions-asked.  The goal of the program, most obviously, was to reduce the number of dangerous weapons on our streets.

In late-October, working with the Town Council, the Police Department began enforcing a new ATV ordinance aimed at cracking down on illegal ATVS, dirt bikes, and mini-cycles.   The ordinance provides for stiff fines and the potential seizure of unregistered ATV’s.  Just eighteen days after passage of the ordinance, Police arrested three out-of-town riders and charged them with reckless driving after neighbors reported spotting them speeding unregistered off-road vehicles near Proto Drive.  The arrests were the first following passage of the new ATV ordinance and proved that our department is ready to respond to the challenge of illegal ATV’s as we approach the springtime.

Finally, just last week, our Police Department was awarded an A- in the New Haven Register’s regional Freedom of Information Act Test.  The test was intended to measure various departments’ compliance with state laws requiring the disclosure of certain arrest information.  I am proud of our Department’s excellent score, especially in light of the host of reforms we have been enacting in conjunction with the Department of Justice.

Fire Department – Chief Doug Jackson

Perhaps the biggest news relating to the Fire Department is the Town’s decision to civilianize the Town’s emergency dispatch center and combine police and fire dispatch into one facility.  The combination of the facility will result in better, more efficient response to emergencies and will reduce costs in both the police and fire departments.  Best of all, our emergency response center will remain right here in East Haven.

In addition, this past year, the Fire Department purchased new protective clothing for its volunteer and career companies along with a new Paramedic Rescue Truck for the Foxon section of Town that will soon be in service.  The Department is also waiting to hear on whether it has been awarded a large grant to replace cardiac monitors used by the Department.

As the Town’s Emergency Coordinator, Chief Jackson also finalized some grant projects that would help residents recover from Superstorm Sandy.

Finally, at the East Haven Firefighters Annual Holiday Breakfast in December, I had the privilege of swearing in new firefighters Christopher Guilfoil and John Coughlin, Jr.  

FINANCES

While our department heads reported a host of good news for the last year, perhaps some of the best news was the Town’s continued financial recovery.

Although I will give a complete report regarding the Town’s financial situation shortly, I am proud to confirm that the Town produced a surplus of over $1.1 million dollars in the last fiscal year, bringing the Town’s fund balance to over $1.6 million dollars – its highest level since 2008.

As many of you know, the fund balance was allowed to slip to negative $5.1 million dollars three short years ago.  And after just one term in office, we have managed to stabilize the Town’s finances and put us back on the right track.

IMPORTANT DATES

Before I conclude, I’d like to remind everyone of some great upcoming events scheduled across Town.

This Friday and Saturday, the East Haven Drama Club – which is anxiously waiting for this meeting to finish so that they can use this stage for practice – will be putting on a performance of “Young Frankenstein” right here on this very stage.  Tickets can be purchased at the door and I encourage all of you to attend.

The National Day of Prayer is May 1st.

The Pause for the Pledge of Allegiance is June 14th.

The VVA Chapter 484 Fireworks and Beach Party is scheduled for June 28th, with a rain date of June 30th.  The feature act is going to be “Bon Jersey,” which is billed as “The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute Band.”

Senior Day will be held August 23rd on the Town Green.

And the East Haven Fall Festival is scheduled for September 5th, 6th, and 7th on the Town Green.  Saturday Night’s feature act is going to be “Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone.”

CONCLUSION

I have to acknowledge that the State of the Town Address gets harder to deliver every year because the list of accomplishments of our residents and department heads continues to grow.  The ideals of hard work, civic duty, and dedication are clearly alive and well here in East Haven.

As we look ahead to the 2014-2015 fiscal year, it is clear that state and federal financial challenges, resulting in diminished aid, will require our Town, like most municipalities across the country, to do more with less.  

However, I have never been more confident than I am right now that East Haven is both prepared and equipped to address these challenges head-on.

Since 2011, we’ve faced fiscal, cultural, and managerial challenges never before faced in our community.  Despite these challenges and, perhaps, directly because of them, I am proud to say that the State of our Town is strong – and continues to grow stronger because of the dedication, commitment, and compassion of our employees, residents, and civic organizations.  

Thank you all, God Bless our Great Town, and God Bless our Country.

Crash claims young mother’s life



Crash claims young mother’s life

Parents: 19-year-old Hunt grad ‘full of love,’ life

She never kept her little sisters waiting, so family members knew something was wrong when Tamara Lindsey didn’t show up.

The 19-year-old college student, mother and former Hunt High School cheerleader was driving back from her boyfriend’s home in Raleigh to pick her sisters up from school in Wilson when a Wednesday afternoon car crash claimed her life.

“Bianca called and said, ‘Tamara didn’t pick me up,’” stepmom Tracie Lindsey recalled. “I said, ‘That’s not like Tamara. Tamara wouldn’t do that.’ She was real dependable and reliable. In my mind, I thought that maybe we needed to call the police.”

Relatives soon learned that Lindsey’s car had crossed the median on U.S. 264 East and was hit by a westbound pickup truck outside Zebulon. They rushed to Wake Medical Center in Raleigh to find that doctors had not been able to revive her.

“Tamara was the type of person who, if you met her, she would make you smile no matter what,” said her mother, Tonya Artis. “She was just so full of love.”

Lindsey had a close relationship with her three sisters, 23-year-old Tiara, 17-year-old Bri’Ana and 10-year-old Bianca. Her stepmom said she had recently taken a day off from work to chaperone one of Bianca’s school field trips.

‘AN AWESOME MOM’

Lindsey was attending Wilson Community College to be a dental hygienist while working and caring for her 18-month-old daughter, Braelynn. A cheer captain and Hunt High chorus member, she excelled in school and had been accepted to several universities.

“Every college she applied for, she got into,” Tracie Lindsey said. “Instead of going off to college and letting someone else raise her baby, she decided to go a different route.”

While balancing her studies at WCC with her work schedule, Lindsey considered her role as Braelynn’s mother to be her most important job.

“I think Tamara’s biggest goal was she wanted to make sure she was an excellent mom,” Artis said. “I commended her all the time. I said, ‘I’m so proud of you. You’re such an awesome mom. You’re doing a great job.’”

For Braelynn’s first birthday, Lindsey rented an inflatable bounce house, ordered a table-sized sheet cake and presented her 1-year-old with dozens of presents.

“She had the biggest party ever for a 1-year-old child,” Artis said.

Lindsey had worked at the Food Lion supermarket on Tarboro Street for about a year and was promoted to assistant manager in January, her parents said. She was preparing to begin a new job at Miles Home Health Center. Tuesday would have been her first day.

Family members said everyone who knew Lindsey would remember her big smile.

“Her nickname was Smiley,” Artis said. “Everybody called her Smiley. She loved family, and she had a big heart for family.”

Lindsey’s dad said he was proud of her determination to study for a good career and earn money while caring for her daughter and helping out her two younger sisters.

“Even though she got pregnant and had a baby, it didn’t stop her,” Thurman Lindsey said. “Life still goes on. She was going to make the best life she could for her baby.”

Family members said Lindsey was a leader even from an early age. She was eighth-grade class president at Forest Hills Middle School and junior varsity cheerleading captain in her junior year at Hunt.

STANDOUT STUDENT

Teachers and counselors at Hunt remember Lindsey as a peacemaker between friends and classmates.

“She was kind of the caring one in the group,” school counselor Tammy Coleman said. “She was the one who kept everyone together.”

A 2012 graduate, Lindsey had recently visited her former teachers and counselors at Hunt and proudly showed Braelynn off.

“She was working and determined to do good things with her life,” Coleman said. “I felt like she would have done anything she had to do to give her child a good life. She said, ‘I made this choice; I had this child, and I want to take care of her.’”

Lindsey was popular at Hunt, Coleman said, and classmates in the Advancement via Individual Determination program admired her.

“She was a sweet kid, a smart girl,” Coleman said. “She always had a pretty smile.”

The crash happened around 2:40 p.m. when Lindsey’s 2000 Nissan Maxima ran off the road. Trooper M. Cerbone of the N.C. Highway Patrol said Lindsey veered off the highway to the right, overcorrected and crossed the median, driving into the path of a westbound 2012 Ford F-150 that struck it in the passenger-side door.

Wake County paramedics rushed Lindsey and the other driver, 34-year-old Jared Cozart of Schooners Road outside Bailey, to the Raleigh hospital. Cozart sustained neck injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening.

Artis said Cozart’s family grieved with her at the hospital.

“They were worried about my baby,” she said. “They were concerned about her. They knew there was something special about her.”

Relatives gathered in Artis’ Chase Road apartment on Friday and scrolled through photos of a smiling Lindsey on an iPad. Braelynn may grow up without her mother, but Artis said she would tell her granddaughter “how much her mama was loved and how much her mama loved her.”

“Their baby pictures are almost identical,” Tracie Lindsey added. “They look so much alike.”

corey@wilsontimes.com | 265-7821