CHESHIRE--In a continued effort to ensure the health and safety of the public, Cheshire Parks and Recreation Director John Gawlak has announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Cheshire playgrounds, courts (basketball, tennis, etc.) and dog park are closed until further notice while the parks are still open to the public.
The closures are effective at 7 a.m. on Friday (March 27).
Town officials encourage residents to make use of the town parks and open space while observing appropriate protocols like social distancing.
"All courts, the dog Park and playgrounds are now closed in Cheshire,” Gawlak said. “The linear trail, Parks and open space are open to the public. People need to follow the CDC guidelines as well as staying home as much as possible at this point.
"A reason we are doing this is people are just not obeying social distancing . Cases are still on the rise. People are just not following social distancing criteria. It’s a small sacrifice. Please stay home and go out only when necessary."
In an interview with Chesprocott Health District Director Maura Esposito on Monday, she expressed the hope at the time that Cheshire, Prospect and Wolcott town officials would close public areas that involve contact sports, like basketball courts. Chesprocott serves Cheshire, Prospect and Wolcott.
Today (March 24), officials from the Connecticut Department of Public Health along with Chesprocott Heath District, which serves Cheshire, Wolcott and Prospect, have confirmed the first two positive cases of COVID-19 within Chesprocott district as two Wolcott residents now have the disease.
It was bound to happen sooner or later with positive cases all around us.
According to a press release provided by Chesprocott Public Health Specialist Kate Glendon, the Wolcott individuals are both males - one in his late 50’s and the other in his mid-30’s. One is currently in the hospital while the other is home recuperating.
"We encourage our residents to check-in on friends via the phone, email, text or facetime," Glendon said in an email interview. "Stay home and stay safe."
In a prepared statement, Chesprocott Health Director Maura Esposito said experiencing cases closer to home was expected.
"Positive cases of COVID-19 in the Chesprocott Health District area have been expected as community transmission of the virus has been occurring in the area," said Esposito.
The Chesprocott Health District will work with the individuals to ensure all appropriate CDC guidance is followed to limit any potential for exposure. Chesprocott Health District’s main objective is to continue to keep residents safe and slow the spread of the virus.
"The single best way to slow the spread is to practice social distancing, and we are recommending that all individuals, both adults and children, stay home and not interact with individuals outside of the household” Esposito said.
Chesprocott officials believe social distancing is crucial in helping to reduce the spread of the virus and limit the number of people who are infected.
Everyone should be taking the everyday preventative actions to help protect themselves and here is a list provided within the statement:
• Staying home if you are sick except to get medical care
• Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
• Washing your hands with soap and water frequently and for at least 20 seconds
• Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands after
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
• Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces
Chesprocott Covid-19 message: Don't panic; help by donating items to health services, senior/shut-in community
By Dan Nowak
CDTC Communications staff
CHESHIRE—While the true impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on all our lives in the United States didn’t hit home for many people until February, Chesprocott Health District and its director Maura Esposito started dealing with the issue in December.
“We saw what was happening globally and the impact potential nationally, so we started contacting people to discuss the local impact back in December,” Esposito said. “We started working with Cheshire Academy first due to its unique community layout (dorms, offices, etc.).
“By January and February I was calling meetings together with town officials.”
During an interview on Monday with Esposito, Chesprocott public health specialist Kate Glendon and Chesprocott chief sanitarian and deputy chief Susan Lonczak, all had one message for local residents – you don’t have to panic.
“People are panicking and they don’t have to panic,” Esposito said. “People will get sick and some people die. We just need to do common sense things to contain the disease and limit its spread. The best advice we can continue to give is to keep practicing social distancing, wash your hands for 20 seconds and disinfect areas inside your home.”
If you are trying to figure out if there is something you can do to help during this crisis, Glendon said there are a couple of items to consider.
First, like other states, there are not enough of PPE for Connecticut hospitals, nursing homes or EMS. PPE, or personal protective equipment, is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. Second, you can donate items to help our seniors and shut-in population to help them get through this crisis.
If you have access to PPE items, Chesprocott has set up a drop-off bin in front of its facility at 1247 Highland Ave., Cheshire where you can drop off any PPE that you might have in your possession. Items needed are N95 Respirators, face masks/surgical masks, face shields, surgical gowns, gloves (nitrile or non-latex), thermometers, thermometer covers (if applicable to type of thermometer), hand sanitizer, and other medical items.
Chesprocott officials are asking Cheshire residents to donate some items for the town’s senior population and shut-ins to help them. First, you can write a note or a card to our seniors with a message to encourage positivity and hope during this crisis. Items being requested are playing cards, new puzzles, games and crafts and you can drop them off at R.W. Hine Ace Hardware, Main St. Café, Shef’s Bagels and The Bean Coffee Roasters. The notes and other items will be picked up by Chesprocott and distributed to seniors.
One thing for Cheshire residents to note. As of 11 a.m. on Monday, there were no official coronavirus cases reported in Cheshire with no positive test results. However, Esposito said Cheshire does have some presumptive positives for the disease.
“What this means is there are some people in Cheshire who have been presented with coronavirus symptoms,” Esposito said. “But because they are in that 80 percent group with low risk and no underlying problems, they have not been tested and they have been asked to just stay at home.
“At this stage, we need to ensure we have enough testing for those in that 20 percent group. Those are the ones who have more serious symptoms, like respiratory and breathing issues, and need to be transferred to the hospital. When people experience the symptoms in a mild form, we are telling them to self-isolate, take Tylenol and drink plenty of fluids.”
Since February, when our normal daily routines started taking a hit due to coronavirus, the Chesprocott Health District has been deluged with questions from the public each day. Chesprocott serves Cheshire, Prospect and Wolcott. One of the most frequent questions asked is to explain the concept of social distancing. There always is a question of the day from residents, usually the result of a new mandate or update coming out of Gov. Ned Lamont’s office.
There also has been the question of whether it is safe to go to our parks in town, which are all still open to the public.
“In my opinion, I think it’s a good idea to keep the parks open,” Esposito said. “For our mental health you need to have some kind of normalcy and that’s what these parks represent. It’s healthy to go out and get some fresh air as long as people continue to adhere to social distancing.”
Esposito said residents should be patient, stay home and eventually things will get back to some kind of normalcy.
“We will get through all of this,” Esposito said. “At some point there will be a decision if any of the items in place like remote/online schooling need to be extended. Everything changes by the hour and sometimes by the minute.
“I’m in constant communication with Town Manager Sean Kimball, Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Solan, Elim Park and all our long-term care facilities. My crystal ball says if we keep doing things like social distancing and washing hands, the virus spread will slow down. If we don’t do that, we’ll have more deaths and our health officials will be at risk. Hopefully everyone will take our advice.”
For more information and answers to other questions, you can go to www.chesprocott.org.
The coronavirus issue has become a part of our lives on many levels, and so, it was inevitable that it would eventually impact the political scene in Connecticut.
On Thursday, following discussions with local election officials and other legislative officials, Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill and Gov. Ned Lamont decided to postpone the Connecticut Presidential Primary from April 28 to June 2.
In a prepared statement from the Office of the Secretary of the State, Merrill said her most important concerns are allowing every Connecticut voter to make their voice heard in the selection of the presidential candidates and ensuring voters are able to cast ballots as safely as possible.
Courtney Cullinan, Chairwoman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee and the Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy at the Connecticut Senate Democrats, believes it is a good, smart move.
“I think it is smart to move the primary in these uncertain and challenging times," Cullinan said. “It is important that everyone who would like to vote is able to without concern of their health. All political parties need to work together right now to ensure the health and well-being of our communities.”
In the prepared statement, Merrill stated that moving the Presidential Primary is a recognition of the severity and nature of the crisis that impacts all of us. More steps may be needed to guarantee that every Connecticut voter has an opportunity to cast their ballot. This may include suspension of supervised balloting requirements and allowing more voters to vote using absentee ballots.
CHESHIRE--As a Cheshire Parks and Recreation commissioner, I have been approached by several people the past 10 days when it comes to access to the town's parks and the status of upcoming recreational events and programs when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.
Cheshire Parks and Recreation director John Gawlak, a proactive director, wasted no time putting together a response to address parks and recreation issues last week and you can see that point-by-point response below.
On Tuesday (March 17), Gawlak talked to Town Manager Sean Kimball for an update on the impact of the coronavirus moving forward.
"I had a discussion with Sean Kimball regarding parks and they will remain open at this time," Gawlak said. "Many other towns are shutting them down and others are keeping them open. I believe until there is some Federal or State ruling, they should remain open for people to use with the added cautions."
While parks in Cheshire remain open, the Cheshire Community Pool will be closed through March 30. Some of the events in town that have been canceled include the Easter Egg Hunt at the Cheshire Community Pool on April 4 and the annual Fishing Derby at Mixville Park on April 4.
Below is the official message from the Cheshire Parks and Recreation Department to Cheshire residents.
The Cheshire Recreation Department will be closed to the general public through March 30, 2020. (however, staff will be present and working) We urge you to utilize online services for program registration and pavilion rentals. Please email/phone in your questions or concerns.
The Cheshire Community Pool will be closed to the general public through March 30, 2020.
PLEASE NOTE: As the COVID-19 situation evolves there may be the need to cancel/postpone further.
April 4 Fishing Derby at Mixville Park
April 15 Mixville Muck Run at Mixville Park
April 16 Touch a Truck at Bartlem Park
I appreciate your patience and cooperation during a difficult unprecedented period for all. Please be safe and hopefully we all can get back to some regularity and enjoy our activities.
CHESHIRE--Cheshire Democratic and Republican town officials have been working together to make the best possible decisions to protect and safeguard every Cheshire resident when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic that we all face.
Democratic Town Councilor Peter Talbot said it is important that we maintain a "sense of community."
"This is an unprecedented period we are in," Talbot said. "Please heed the warnings and alerts from the Federal, State and local government. Your safety and well being is what we are all striving for.
"The precautions taken regarding school and other closures has absolutely been the right decision. We will never know the impact that it has had, but suffice it to say, that it has slowed and lessened the impact of the pandemic."
Talbot suggests that residents check the town's website - cheshirect.org - for updated coronavirus information.
"Thank you for your patience, caring and concern during this difficult time," Talbot said. "As we practice "social distancing," please make sure you call or text a neighbor to see how they are doing.
"It is important that we maintain that sense of community."
CHESHIRE--On Wednesday at the monthly Cheshire Democratic Town Committee meeting, there was a Democratic political changing of the guard in Cheshire.
The Cheshire Democratic Town Committee elected new officers for a two-year term as the CDTC and its new leaders enthusiastically prepare and plan for the upcoming presidential and state elections in the fall. Courtney Cullinan has been elected CDTC Chairperson, Attorney Matt Hall was elected Vice Chairperson, Therese Bradley was elected CDTC Secretary, Kim Cangiano was elected CDTC Treasurer and Pat McKinley was elected CDTC Deputy Treasurer.
CDTC Chairperson Judy Villa, a former Cheshire Town Councilor, CDTC Secretary Aleta Looker, a retired Cheshire Registrar of Voters who held the CDTC position for 20 years, and recent CDTC Treasurer Bill Tanner decided to step down when their biennial term ended.
Courtney Cullinan, Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy and Budget at Connecticut Senate Democrats who had served recently as CDTC vice chairperson, was elected as the CDTC’s new Chairperson.
"Judy Villa has done so much for this town," Cullinan said. "I am humbled and honored to have been elected to this position. I love Cheshire and am excited to serve our community for so many reasons.
“I am also privileged to be surrounded by a leadership team that is dedicated to our town. This is an incredibly important year for us. We need to fight to get our Democratic officials elected this fall on the state and national level."
Attorney Matt Hall, involved in numerous Cheshire community organizations over the years and a former Cheshire Town Councilor, was elected vice chairperson. Among the community organizations Hall has been involved with include Cheshire Junior Football, Cheshire (Connecticut) Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Mari Hall Family Foundation, Inc., Fundraising Cabinet, Elim Park Baptist Home Capital Project and Cheshire Junior Football, Inc.
“I’m really excited to be back involved with the CDTC,” Hall said. “We’ve assembled a strong team and behind Courtney’s leadership and we are looking forward to the national, state and local election cycles over the next two years and beyond.”
Therese Bradley, a project manager at Adtech Systems in Manchester, was elected CDTC Secretary. She also serves as Vice Chair/Treasurer for the CMS Cable Advisory Council.
“I joined the CDTC shortly after the 2016 election and was immediately impressed with the level of commitment of all the volunteers on the committee,” Bradley said. “I am proud to be a part of this organization and look forward to taking a more active role.”
Kim Cangiano, who has an extensive background in the insurance industry and a longtime community volunteer for youth football and Cheshire High football, was elected CDTC Treasurer. She was also on the Charter Revision Commission and is a past co-president of Highland Elementary School’s PTO.
“I am looking forward to continuing my time with the CDTC in this new role,” Cangiano said.
Pat McKinley is looking forward to serving as Deputy Treasurer.
“With a professional background in higher ed administration and forty years of board work for non-profits, I’m happy to continue in my role as Deputy Treasurer of the CDTC to help ensure that our financial records are accurate, transparent, compliant with all regulations, and sufficient for useful strategic analysis when needed,” McKinley said. “I appreciate the trust that CDTC members have in me by electing me to this office.”
Although Villa has stepped down as CDTC Chairperson, she has a long political history in Cheshire and continues to be a member of the CDTC. She served as a member of the Cheshire Board of Education from 1987-1990 and was a Cheshire Town Councilor from 1995-2001. She has been a member of the CDTC since 1998 and has served in many capacities as a Cheshire Democratic volunteer. She was a longtime CDTC vice chairperson before her election as chairperson in the spring of 2017. She has also held various positions on the Cheshire Democratic Women’s Club, including past president.
Dan Nowak is chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee's Communication Relations/IT Committee, a volunteer position. He is a Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commissioner and has been a sportswriter at the New Haven Register for 36 years.