It is that time of year again. Flu season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone as an important step toward protection. The vaccine will provide protection throughout the season.
The Fairfield Health Department is offering the flu vaccine this month and next. The vaccine will be administered by appointment at the Public Health Nursing Office, which is located within the Fairfield Senior Center, 100 Mona Terrace. The vaccinations will be offered every Wednesday morning from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
According to the Health Department, the flu vaccine is for ages 4 and older. Pregnant women will need to bring a note from their doctor to receive the vaccine. The pneumonia vaccine is also available for those 65 and older and for younger people with certain long-term health conditions. Call the Public Health Nursing Office at 203-256-3150 for further information and to schedule an appointment.
The department accepts Medicare Part B, Healthnet Medicare and Anthem ID numbers that begin with “XG.” Without this insurance, the cost of the flu shot is $25 and the pneumonia vaccine is $45.
To obtain a consent form, which can be filled out ahead of time, go to http://www.fairfieldct.org/documents/2010/2010FluConsent.pdf. The form also will be available at the time of appointments.
It is that time of year again. Flu season.
The United Way of Coastal Fairfield County wants to talk to you.
On Thursday, Nov. 18, the United Way will conduct a “Community Conversation on Education” from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Connecticut Audubon Society headquarters at 2325 Burr St.
The conversation is part of a new initiative by the United Way to continue to build healthy communities. “Our goal is to listen to what ordinary citizens have to tell us about their aspirations and how they would like to see education so that we can understand the greatest needs and strongest desires,” according to a statement released by the organization. “As part of the conversation, we would like to hear what residents are thinking on issues like, are all students graduating on time, ready for college and life The conversation is not designed to address specific problems or successes in schools, but rather to explore what can be done to build stronger communities and improve the educational system.”
Merle Berke-Schlessel, the president and chief executive officer, in her blog, “Advancing the Common Good by Listening,” writes, “Our United Way has accepted the challenge to focus in the areas of Education, Income, and Health and achieve measurable goals by 2018. We have agreed to help cut the high school dropout rate in half, cut in half the number of families who lack financial stability, and increase by one third the number of young people and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors.”
She continues, “In order to understand the diverse community of Coastal Fairfield County, and where to focus our attention, we need to get to know you better. We need to listen to you to learn about your aspirations, challenges, and ideas on how to ensure that all children in our region graduate on time. We need to hear from you – your ideas on how to build a stronger community.”
The United Way will be taking the conversation forums to the other 11 towns it covers: Stratford, Westport, Bridgeport, Weston, Trumbull, Monroe, Easton, Norwalk, Darien, Wilton and New Canaan.
Thursday’s forum sounds like a worthwhile couple of hours. Everyone knows that the challenges communities and their kids face sometimes can be daunting. The United Way is willing and able to help. Fairfielders should meet the United Way halfway.
To register for the forum, e-mail Marjolijn Wijsenbeek at Marjolijn@unitedwaycfc.org or call 203-339-6338.
Organized by their wives, Charlene Lebo and Suzanne DeSantie, who are sisters, “A Night of Music” will raise money to support St. Vincent’s Medical Center’s Swim Across the Sound for pancreatic cancer.
The evening will feature To the Max, Christopher Robin, Shade, The Center Street Band, Daniella Cardillo and Holden Truelove. Refreshments, a cash bar and a silent auction will be available from 6 to 7 p.m.; performances will be staged from 7 to 10 p.m.; and dessert and coffee will be offered from 10 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $50, $75 and $100 and can be purchased through the Westport Country Playhouse box office online at www.westportplayhouse.org or by calling 203-227-4177. Tickets are still available.
I wrote a feature article, “Pancreatic cancer benefit in memory of Lebo, DeSantie,” for the Fairfield Citizen and Westport News about the event, the plans for the proceeds at St. Vincent’s Medical Center and the sisters and their husbands. Keith Lebo was a musician who played with a couple of the bands that will be performing.
The benefit will go a long way toward focusing on pancreatic cancer, which needs the same kind of awareness that breast and colon cancer have received. Charlene Lebo told me, “Everybody is raising money for breast cancer and colon cancer, but with pancreatic cancer, we need to get the message out there, we need to find something like they did for breast cancer. Twenty-five years ago, you didn’t think you had a shot [with breast cancer]. Now, you do have a shot. Well, pancreatic cancer, right now you don’t have a shot.”
In addition to the musical performances, Stuart Marcus, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer, chairman of the Department of Oncology and leader of the new Elizabeth Pfriem Swim Center for Cancer Care at St. Vincent’s Medical Center, will address the audience. Marcus, who is a specialist in gastrointestinal cancer surgery, has much to say about pancreatic cancer and his vision for a dedicated liver and pancreatic disease unit at St. Vincent’s.
Consider attending the event, which not only will raise money for a worthwhile cause but celebrate the lives of two men who died too young.
In 2009, Operation Hope of Fairfield provided 137,000 meals to people in need.
But according to new studies and reports, the number of people needing a helping hand with putting food on the table has increased. The call has been issued by feeding agencies such as Operation Hope and the Connecticut Food Bank that pantry shelves need to be stocked.
Operation Hope’s Food Pantry is run by volunteers. “No one should have to worry about putting food on the table. Our volunteer-run and operated food pantry assists families in meeting their basic food needs,” reads the introduction on Operation Hope’s Food Pantry link on its website, “and also to connect them with other resources which help eliminate their food insecurity. One of the primary ways in which our food pantry assists people is that it allows them to focus on stabilizing other areas of their lives. For some of our clients our pantry supplements what food stamps do not cover, like toilet paper, toothpaste and diapers. For most others it simply helps to make ends meet when they have to choose between paying rent or a heating bill or going to the grocery store for food.”
Helping to keep the shelves stocked is easy. When you go to the grocery store, pick up an extra bag of food for Operation Hope. A list of the most-needed items can be found at www.operationhopect.org/help/. I have been a volunteer for Operation Hope for a year and frequently bring bags of groceries to the pantry. Depending on the need, I sometimes buy food in bulk at BJs Wholesale Club – like cases of canned soup or boxes of pasta.
The pantry is located in the lower level of the Operation Hope headquarters at 636 Old Post Road, which is next to First Church Congregational and across the street from Old Town Hall. Food donations can be dropped off from Monday through Friday at the office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Donations also can be brought to the shelter at 50 Nichols St. from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The shelter is behind police headquarters.
For information or questions, call 203-292-5588.
Fairfielder Alyssa Israel, one of the more environmentally conscious residents, sent me a press release about the inaugural Bike-Walk Summit sponsored by “Bike Walk Connecticut,” a statewide organization working to make Connecticut safe for people who bike and walk.
According to the release, Connecticut is ranked 40th out of 50 by the League of American Bicyclists as a “bike-friendly state.” The summit will try to gather together like-minded people to change that ranking. The program includes panel discussions featuring experts in street design, safety and health; guest speakers; and lunch.
It will take place on Saturday, Nov. 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Central Connecticut State University’s Memorial Hall Constitution Room. The summit is being supported by CCSU as part of its sustainability initiative. The public is invited to attend, but because seating is limited, preregistration is required. Go to www.ctbikewalksummit.org to register. Registration is $15 for Bike Walk Connecticut members and $25 for the general public.
Additionally, CCSU creative writing professor Mary Collins, author of the award-winning book American Idle – A Journey Through our Sedentary Culture will kick off the summit. Panel discussions include the following:
Implementing Complete Streets – addressing Connecticut’s Complete Streets Act. The act is meant to ensure that roads are designed to safely accommodate all users, including people riding bicycles and walking.
CT Bike/Ped Laws and Legal Trends – This session will highlight the importance of educating road users and public safety officers on the laws affecting cyclists and pedestrians.
Economics of Biking and Walking – This session will focus on how inactive lifestyles affect public health and examine the economic and health benefits of increased biking and walking.
Keynote speaker Tim Blumenthal, president of the Bikes Belong Coalition, will conclude the day’s discussions.
One attendee will win a Cannondale Quick 6 bicycle generously donated by Cycling Sports Group, the corporate sustaining sponsor of Bike Walk Connecticut.
I have never been a cyclist but I do walk on a regular basis. Fortunately, I can be safe on my routes because I use a lot of the side streets and the one main road has sidewalks. Cyclists, on the other hand, have a hard time traveling on local roads and usually confront impatient and unsafe drivers.
The summit is a good idea.
For anyone who would like more information, visit www.ctbikewalksummit.org.
I remember thinking at the time that we definitely had better things to do than sit inside watching people hold ballots up to the light to determine voter intent. We were on vacation, after all. But for some odd reason we were drawn to these events – it was like trying not to look at a car wreck.
In my 30-plus years as a journalist, I never once attended a vote recount – until yesterday.
Inside the gymnasium at the Fairfield Senior Center, some 50 people came to participate or watch the recount in the race for the 132nd General Assembly District between Democrat incumbent Tom Drew and Republican challenger Brenda Kupchick. Election night results had Kupchick winning by 14 votes, which triggered an automatic recount.
Although state statute does not require that counters examine each and every ballot, that is exactly what happened. One of the members of the GOP team told me that state statute only refers to the old electric voting machines and has not been updated for the scanners now being used. Instead, they followed the secretary of the state’s guidelines. What they could have done, I was told, was feed each ballot through the machines first, then check and hand count the rejected ones. A hand count of rejected ones was the last task of the long day.
The room was filled with friends and supporters of the candidates, teams of lawyers for both sides, people from the state parties, and a host of election workers, registrars, press and mechanics. It was a who’s who of the political process.
The 7.5 hours were tedious and arduous and had some high drama as well, especially later in the day. It really was an incredible example of democracy in progress.
The atmosphere was convivial. In fact, the Democrats and Republicans split the cost of 15 pizzas for everyone in the room and provided coffee as well. At times, it almost had a party-like feel. But no one lost sight of the objective of the day – and clearly the two candidates were nervous and tense as were their teams.
People who were required to stand behind the yellow line separating them from the counters chatted amongst themselves but they never took their eyes away from the goings-on at the tables for more than a second. When it appeared as if one of the five districts was about to be completed, the entire assemblage of onlookers moved as one group to that table. It was fascinating.
The first batch of new grand totals for each candidate had Kupchick winning by 21 votes. A few challenges and questions by the Democratic team prompted another count of the machine-rejected ballots and other questionable ones and now Kupchick was ahead by 27 votes. A few more questions forced another recount of those ballots and the final total returned to a Kupchick victory by 21.
Both candidates’ teams did some whispering amongst themselves before the head moderator called it a wrap. The press converged on Drew, who did not concede immediately. Then the press swarmed Kupchick. Later, Drew graciously conceded to Kupchick. He told the Fairfield Citizen, “I want to congratulate Brenda. She ran a very effective campaign, which I know is hard to do. I wish her genuine success.” And Kupchick told the press, “I’m proud to be a Fairfielder and I’m proud to be the next state representative from the 132nd District.”
The registrars of voters, the head moderator and the counters are congratulated for handling this task so well.
In the interest of full disclosure: I am a personal friend of state Rep.-elect Brenda Kupchick, but I attended the recount as an interested observer and occasional political gadfly.
Another brisk fall day but the sun is shining and the polls are open. Fairfield Warde High School, the polling place for District 6 and the 132nd and 133rd General Assembly districts, was not that busy at 11:30 a.m.
The polling place was being efficiently run, except for some reason the poll worker felt a need to announce my name – too loud for my comfort. Aren’t we supposed to be anonymous when we vote?
Voting only took me about 10 minutes. Oh, and make sure there is a marker to use in the cubicle you choose. The first cubicle I went to did not have a marker, but a woman kindly informed me that she had walked away with it as she chatted with someone next to her.
I spent more time talking with friends and acquaintances outside in the parking lot than I did voting. I caught up with Tom Flynn, the chairman of the Board of Finance; Mary McCullough, who serves on the Representative Town Meeting in District 3; and Cristin McCarthy Vahey, also an RTM member from District 6. We counseled someone on the rules governing holding candidate signs and how far to stand away from the entrance to the polling place. And then had a brief visit by Registrar Roger Autuori. I also had a nice long chat with realtor Bob Richter, who I have not seen in many years.
I would have stayed there all day shooting the breeze about Election Day and predictions and whether the makeup of our state and national governments will change, but the wind was whipping around and the sun kept hiding behind the clouds and I had errands to run. I regret not buying a sweet from the scouts set up inside the entrance.
I love Election Day. I always have. It is an exciting time.
Keep up to date today by going to the Fairfield Citizen or Connecticut Post websites.
Hopefully, you have read some of those voluminous mailings you received this campaign season or profiles and articles in this newspaper or other news outlets. Or perhaps you actually attended a candidates’ forum or debate or watched one on television or listened to those automatic phone calls from candidates and their supporters. And then there is also the possibility that you met and spoke with – one to one – the candidates.
Let’s hope so because tomorrow is it our turn. We, the voters, get the final say.
And just in case you are not sure what offices are up for election, here’s the list: governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, secretary of the state, treasurer, U.S. senator, U.S. representative, state representative, state senator and judge of probate.
To find out which is your General Assembly district (132nd, 133rd or 134th) by street address, go to http://www.fairfieldct.org/rtmdistricts.htm.
The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Remember you must bring identification with you.
The polling places are:
District 1: Senior Center, 100 Mona Terrace
District 2: St. Pius School, 824 Brookside Drive
District 3: Dwight Elementary School, 1600 Redding Road
District 4: Osborn Hill School, 760 Stillson Road
District 5: McKinley School, 60 Thompson Street
District 6: Fairfield Warde High School, 755 Melville Avenue
District 7: North Stratfield School, 190 Putting Green Road
District 8: Holland Hill School, 200 Meadowcroft Road
District 9: Fairfield Ludlowe High School, 785 Unquowa Road
District 10: Sherman Elementary School, 250 Fern Street