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Rell seeks stimulus funds for rail network

September 25, 2009 Areawide, Local News No Comments
The state has applied for $12.1 million in federal stimulus money to make improvements to the Providence and Worcester railroad network that operates between Plainfield and Willimantic. Seen here is a railroad crossing at Route 203 in South Windham.
The state has applied for $12.1 million in federal stimulus money to make improvements to the Providence and Worcester railroad network that operates between Plainfield and Willimantic. Seen here is a railroad crossing at Route 203 in South Windham.

WILLIMANTIC — Gov. M. Jodi Rell has applied for $12.1 million in stimulus funding through the federal American Recover Reinvestment Act of 2009, part of which will improve local freight train use.

Specifically, the grant is through the act’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant.

If the state is awarded the funding, Rell plans to use the money to make improvements to the Providence and Worcester freight rail network.
Locally, improvements would be made to the 21 miles of rail that runs from Plainfield to Willimantic.
Officials said the improvements would not include new safety gates at the railroad crossing on Route 203 in South Windham.

Proposed improvements include rail replacement and tie installation to increase potential operating speeds from 10 miles per hour to 40 miles per hour.

“Connecticut has actively and aggressively sought every Recovery Act funding opportunity available to strengthen our economy, move forward strategic initiatives and, most importantly, put people back to work,” Rell said.

State officials speculate 2,000 jobs would be created if Connecticut receives the funding.

Rell said, “these transportation projects hit dead center on all of those goals — furthering long-term, statewide transportation initiatives while bolstering local and regional economies.”

The proposed improvements are meant to fix the “brittle” and “worn-out” rail line, said Providence and Worcester President Scott Conti this morning.
Conti said the existing rail has been in existence for approximately 100 years and needs replacing.

Currently, rail and state officials have been funding the maintenance of the tracks, but those are costly — and temporary — improvements, he said.
Proposed enhancements and improvements should last between 50 and 100 years, said Conti.

Safety measures would not be improved at any rail crossings, said state officials.

Conti said the state usually works with the rail company to fund those expensive systems. He said a railroad crossing complete with gates and lights could cost up to $300,000 each.

According to Conti, the proposed increases in speed would only be for rural, farmland-esque areas the rail travels through.

He said areas surrounding the Willimantic and Plainfield rail yards have a 10 mph speed limit.

Although Conti said larger crossing gates and signs are usually reserved for major intersections, the smaller lights do not always warn motorists enough of an oncoming train.

In June 2007, former state Rep. Walter. Pawelkiewicz, D-Windham, said funds for the gates had been included in the state budget for the state Department of Transportation.

In 2008, Pawelkiewicz said the order for the gates had been placed in October 2007, but that they would take 12 months before they would be installed, which would have been October 2008.

Pawelkiewicz said the gates had to be “special ordered” and custom made and that standard train gates with arms could not be installed.

The P&W railroad, however, has fought the installation.

“They definitely need the gates,” said Town Engineer Joseph Gardner in 2008, adding that the train company has to have flaggers get off the train and physically stop traffic. “At least they’re (the gates) coming,” he said.

“As long as it’s working, nobody’s been calling to complain,” he said, adding that as long as the rail line continues to employ flaggers, “it’s fine with us.”
The DOT has been required to install advance-warning signs to notify residents of an upcoming crossing and state police have been requested to more strictly enforce the 35 mph speed limit near the crossing.

P&W resumed service on the 15.02-mile line from Willimantic to Plainfield that had been dormant for nearly two decades in March 2007.

Gates at any rail crossing act as an extra warning for motorists.

On Sept. 3, Rick Cima, 18, of Plainfield died when his pickup truck was struck by a Providence and Worcester train that had just left the Plainfield train yard.

The Lillibridge Road crossing was only indicated with a system of flashing lights.

According to Judd Everhart, the state DOT’s director of communications, the lights indicating a train was coming were working properly at the time of the accident.

Conti said the funding is not guaranteed, but state and rail officials are hopeful they will be approved for the funding.

“We’re cautiously optimistic we’ll get some (funding),” he said, adding if the funding is approved it would take two “construction seasons” to finish the improvements.

Woman charged with prostitution

September 24, 2009 Local News No Comments

scales-of-justiceA Coventry woman was among seven people arrested Wednesday after a two-day police surveillance operation at the Enfield Motel 6 on Hazard Avenue.

According to Capt. Gary Collins, police had received an anonymous tip that prostitution in town was being advertised on the online classified advertising site known as Craigslist.

When police checked out the tip, they learned that prostitution might be happening at the Motel 6, and that’s when detectives set up surveillance, Collins said.

The activity was taking place in two separate rooms at the motel, and police observed men coming and going from that location, he said.

Around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, police were able to obtain a search warrant, which was executed around 1:25 a.m. Wednesday, he said.

Four men were charged with patronizing a prostitute.

Whitney Young, 24, of Coventry, was charged with two counts of prostitution, possession of crack cocaine, possession of a hallucinogen, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was held in lieu of $25,000 bond for court today. Another woman was charged with prostitution and a Bloomfield man was charged with promoting prostitution.

“There really is effectively no street prostitution in Enfield,” Collins said. “This is obviously not street prostitution.”

“This will come up occasionally in hotel rooms,” he said, adding that prostitution is not commonplace in town.

Officials preparing service agreements

September 24, 2009 Local News No Comments

coventry-volunteer-fire-dept-truckWith the town council facing turnover after the November elections, town and fire officials are hoping to present the council with service agreements sometime next month.

Town Manager John Elsesser presented drafts to the town council during its meeting Monday, and said the town was close to finalizing language in agreements with each of the town’s fire departments.

He also said he hopes to have final agreements for the council sometime in October, adding he was “looking at the clock” because the current council only has three meetings left before the November election.

The current council has been handling issues related to the fire department since Matrix Consulting Group issued a report, which recommended the service agreements, early last year.

Three current councilmen – Democrats Christopher Merisotis and Jennifer Scanlon and Republican Patrick Sullivan – are not seeking re-election, however, a point Elsesser noted when stating his timetable.

He was optimistic on meeting the goal, saying recent talks with both departments have been “productive” all sides are in the “wordsmithing stage.”
Coventry Volunteer Fire Association Chief Joe Carilli agreed, and said the agreements should benefit all sides involved.

“I think it’s going to work well for the town, the volunteers, the residents,” he said. Carilli also said he did not believe the agreements are necessary, but CVFA officials did not oppose the idea.

North Coventry Volunteer Fire Association Chief Scott Morris could not be reached for comment.

According to the draft, the agreements, with one for each department, would last for five years, with an automatic renewal for an additional five years unless one of the parties submits its intent to end the agreement at least six month prior to the end of the term.

The town or either of the departments can also terminate the agreement, but only six months after filing its intent in writing or if both sides mutual agree.
The agreements would specify ownership and care of equipment, as well as insurance responsibilities for each of the parties involved.

The town would also take over accounts payable responsibilities for the departments, “meaning the departments will be using our purchasing procedures,” Elsesser told the council in a memo.

The service agreements were one of the recommendations made by Matrix, who was hired by the town to examine the town’s fire departments, when the firm issued its final report in January 2008.

Uconn officials defend transfers

September 23, 2009 Local News No Comments

uconn_logo1University of Connecticut officials confirmed Wednesday they have given the UConn Foundation almost $52 million in funding, but claimed it is “common practice” for public universities to fund such supporting foundations.

UConn officials said their actions of supporting the university’s private foundation with state funds was to aid the foundation in its fundraising efforts for the university itself.

“Since 2000, UConn has provided roughly $52 million in funding to the foundation in support of their fundraising operations,” said UConn spokesman Michael Kirk. “During this same period, the foundation has raised $536 million from private sources for direct operational and endowment support at the university.”

UConn officials came under fire Tuesday as former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto condemned their action of using state funds to support a private organization.

“I saw a lot of bad things during UConn 2000,” said Pelto. “But this, somehow, takes the cake.”

UConn 2000 is the state’s $2.3 billion infusion of funding into UConn for building improvements.

Pelto went public Tuesday and announced he had documentation that university officials were using funds intended for UConn’s operating fund and transferred them to the foundation instead.

Pelto was a member of the state House of Representatives in 1989 when HB 7206 – the foundation bill – was passed.

The law is supposed to act as a check and balance for private foundations that raise funds for universities.

According to Kirk, by transferring funds to the foundation, university officials are supporting those who support them.

“The relationship between UConn and the UConn Foundation is a common one at public universities across the nation,” he said.

Kirk said a survey by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education determined that 35 percent of public universities had “similar fee-for-service contracts” with private foundations.

“UConn – like most major public universities – invests in its foundation,” said Kirk, “which then generates funding for the university that is far above and beyond what is invested.”

Pelto said Tuesday he was not certain whether the transfer of funds was legal or illegal, but state funds invested into the university are intended for UConn’s operating fund.

He said transferring the funds as payment for the privately owned foundation was a bit “mysterious.”

According to Kirk, UConn’s actions aren’t illegal, but are actually allowed by Connecticut General Statutes.

A 1995 opinion of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal reads “it is equally clear that the University’s board may retain a contractor to provide fundraising services and the university may pay the foundation for its fundraising services.”

In the opinion, Blumenthal said the UConn Board of Trustees has the authority to enter into contracts that aid the performance of its mission.
The contracts, in this case, would be existing memorandums of understanding between trustees and the foundation that outline the amount of funding being supplied to the foundation since fiscal year 2000.

“In order to receive funding from UConn, the foundation is required to raise substantial amounts of money to return to the university,” said Kirk.
He said although the foundation has received funding for several years, foundation officials have been responsible for reimbursing the university for that funding.

Kirk said they have done so since they first received funding.

Local officers honored for valorous service

September 23, 2009 Local News No Comments

coventry-police-signTwo local Coventry police officers received certificates during Monday’s town council meeting for showing their “dedication and service” to the community in recent weeks.

Coventry Police Chief Mark Palmer presented Meritorious Commendation certificates to both marine officer Norm Meikle and Sgt. Michael McDonough.

Palmer said Meikle, while performing routine patrol duties on Coventry Lake, helped save a man who was injured during a jet ski accident on Aug. 30.

Meikle was dispatched to a medical emergency near the middle of the lake, and, upon arrival, found three men in the water and a jet ski upside down, Palmer said.

One of the men told Meikle he believed his leg was broken and was having difficulty staying afloat due to exhaustion.

Meikle entered the water and was able to get the man onto the department’s patrol boat, then transported the man to the boat launch.

Palmer said the act was “particularly difficult” due to the “size of the injured individual,” but Meikle’s efforts “(saved) this person from further injury or death.”

McDonough, meanwhile, was conducting a routine traffic stop around 3:45 a.m. on Sept. 18 when he heard an alarm near the intersection of routes 31 and 44.

He then responded to AV’s Gas Station and found a vehicle in the parking lot with the glass in the front door smashed. The suspect had fled to a nearby wooded area and McDonough coordinated a search effort with state and University of Connecticut police officers.

A state police canine team ultimately found Jason Mathewson, 26, of East Hartford, in the woods and arrested him after a brief struggle, Coventry police said.

Mathewson was ultimately charged with third-degree burglary, first-degree criminal mischief, fourth-degree criminal attempt to commit larceny, interfering with a peace officer and assault on a peace officer.

Palmer said the department and town are “grateful for (their) dedication and service,” and council Chairman Elizabeth Woolf said the two officers are among “the finest of the finest.”

Test drive ‘green’car at Coventry Farmer’s Market

September 23, 2009 Business, Local News No Comments
Prius plug-in hybrid concept illustration, courtesy of Toyota.

Prius plug-in hybrid concept illustration, courtesy of Toyota.

Curious about some of the “green” cars coming on the market? You can test drive one of them, The Toyota Prius, when it makes a stop at the Sept. 27 Coventry Regional Farmer’s Market .

The market is held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. throughout October, at the Nathan Hale Homestead at 2299 South St. in Coventry.

Toyota is including Coventry on a tour that includes farmer’s markets throughout the country, to promote the 2009 Highlander Hybrid and the 2010 Toyota Prius, the third generation of the hybrid.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid 2009. Photo courtesy of Toyota

Toyota Highlander Hybrid 2009. Photo courtesy of Toyota

Market goers can test drive either vehicle, and receive potted culinary-herb plant starters at Toyota’s booth.

Toyota’s national spokesman Keith Dahl said his company finds that many people who prefer to purchase locally-grown organic foods at farmer’s markets are also interested in driving hybrids.

“Opting to drive a hybrid, shopping at the farmer’s market and eating locally-grown foods are all choices people make based on their beliefs or to express their particular point of view,” Dahl said.

2010 Toyota Prius Hybrid 18-liter engine. Photo courtesy of Toyota

2010 Toyota Prius Hybrid 18-liter engine. Photo courtesy of Toyota

Coventry’s Market Program Coordinator Winter Caplanson said she welcomes the visit. “We are thrilled to partner with Toyota to bring nationwide attention to Connecticut farmer’s markets,” she said.

In addition to this special event, this weekend’s market theme will be “Taste the Place,” and will feature nine chefs from local restaurants offering samples.

Market visitors also can take part of this weekend’s programs at The Nathan Hale Homestead, including free lessons on writing with quill pens and decoding spy letters as part of its “Sunday at the Homestead” series. The lessons will run from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

And the homestead’s corn maze is now open.

Posted Sept. 23, 2009

Staff Reporter Mike Savino contributed to this story.

Related links from the HTNP.com Editor:

Toyota Prius Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/prius?v=wall&viewas=0

“2010 Prius Plug-in Hybrid Debuts at Frankfurt Motor Show” Click here

Toyota YouTube page – http://www.youtube.com/toyotausa

Accusation: University funneled funds into foundation

September 22, 2009 Local News No Comments

uconn-logoFormer state Rep. Jonathan Pelto has accused the University of Connecticut board of trustees of funneling state and student funds to the University of Connecticut Foundation.

According to Pelto, approximately $51.91 million has been switched from UConn’s operating fund to the UConn Foundation – a private organization – since fiscal year 2000.

“Connecticut private higher education foundations were intended to support our public institutions of higher education, not the other way around,” reads a release from Pelto.

Pelto was a member of the state House of Representatives in 1989 when HB 7206 – the foundation bill – was passed.

The bill acts as a checks and balance for private foundations that fundraise for institutions.

“Kevin Sullivan, Senate chairman of the education committee at the time, could not have been clearer when he brought the bill on to the senate floor,” said Pelto, adding Sullivan said “the cost of foundations will be borne by the foundations.”

According to Pelto, it is “unclear” how long UConn officials have allegedly switched funds, but there is documentation showing the action has been done.

He said the “UConn Foundation’s own audited statements reveal that it has received over $42 million from the University of Connecticut since M. Jodi Rell became governor and took control of the UConn Board of Trustees.”

In addition to audit reports, Pelto said a memorandum between university officials and the foundation highlights a fiscal year 2009 agreement that would result in the foundation receiving $7,582,000 from the university.

He said the UConn Health Center also transferred $1 million to the foundation that same year.

Pelto is calling for this action to stop.

“Even now, in the midst of this economic crisis, the president of the university has signed yet another memorandum of agreement for this fiscal year authorizing the transfer of more than $8.5 million away from university activities and into the foundation,” said Pelto.

Pelto said UConn’s actions are less than transparent and the funding should be returned to the university for its original purpose.

“Why UConn would take and shift public dollars to its private foundation is a bit mysterious, but, perhaps, it is trying to subsidize the foundation’s expenses in order to make the foundation look more successful,” he said.

Pelto said UConn’s actions are “truly incredible” and “fiscally irresponsible.”

According to Pelto, he first learned of the transfers after he won a Freedom of Information Commission hearing.

Pelto said he filed a complaint against the university for information pertaining to the quarterly magazine “Traditions,” from this hearing he was given additional information about the foundation – including the memorandums of agreement.

He said he was not certain if it is illegal for the university to give the foundation money, but the purpose of the legislation was to make certain private foundations were raising their own funds.

“It was so clear foundations were set up to support the university,” he said. “No one would ever conceive the university would support the foundation.”

University spokesman Michael Kirk said he had contacted various university officials to get reaction about the allegations, but he did not respond to the Chronicle before press time this morning.

Alleged transfers since fiscal year 2000:
– FY 2000: $3.15 million
– FY 2001: $3.05 million
– FY 2002: $4 million
– FY 2003: $4.84 million
– FY 2004: $4.84 million
– FY 2005: $5.34 million
– FY 2006: $4.87 million
– FY 2007: $6.97 million
– FY 2008: $7.24 million
– FY 2009: $7.58 million

Journalist: War 'far from over'; Reporter talks to Eastern students about experience

September 22, 2009 Local News No Comments

ecsu-iraq-reporter-lecture-1-sept-21-2009For Alicia Argenta, an Eastern Connecticut State University senior, a Monday afternoon lecture by a journalist who covered the invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan gave her a close view of what her boyfriend, Ryan, sees on an ongoing basis.

That’s because Argenta, who was one of more than 100 people on hand to see journalist Dahr Jamail, said her boyfriend is in the process of serving a 13-month tour in Afghanistan.

“It’s definitely really difficult,” she said, about sitting though Jamail’s presentation and said it was really “eye opening” to hear Jamail’s reports on the ongoing wars – which go outside the coverage of the mainstream media.

“I thought it was really interesting,” she said.

Argenta said she was aware of one topic Jamail addressed – reports by female U.S. soldiers involving sexual assaults – from discussion in her classes.

However, she said she was surprised about a poll by the U.S. military – cited by the Brookings Institute – that found more than 70 percent of Iraqis oppose the U.S. occupation in Iraq. “I didn’t know the numbers are so high,” Argenta said.

Jamail held a brief press conference Monday afternoon, before speaking at 1 p.m. to students, faculty and others in attendance inside the Betty R. Tipton Room of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Student Center.

Jamail spoke during an exclusive interview discussing what led up to his decision to travel to Afghanistan.

Prior to his decision, Jamail said he was working as an Alaskan mountain guide and had “very little” experience with writing or being a journalist.

However, Jamail said his decision to go to Iraq was fueled by the “outrage at the media” for their coverage of the events leading up to the Iraq invasion.

“There was nothing to justify the invasion,” he said, adding that the mainstream media was serving as “mouthpieces for the Bush administration.”

He said he decided he would “see what’s happening (in Iraq) myself.”

Jamail said he “packed up” and got in touch with someone who was already in Iraq who was writing a blog, who directed him to where to go.

He said he had “no idea how to do anything,” but that the blogger told him where to go and who to meet up with.

“So I basically followed his instructions,” he said, adding that he kept meeting the “right people” during his trek. “Things just kind of started falling into place.”

“It was definitely overwhelming,” Jamail said, describing the areas he visited as “clogged” and “chaotic.”

Jamail spent a total of nine months in Iraq, and said his first trip was November 2003 to January 2004 – eight months after the March 2003 invasion into Iraq.

He said much of his work was doing reports, visiting hospitals and talking with ordinary citizens.

However, Jamail said every so often he would hear the sound of an explosion and, “You’d literally get out and start covering that.”

“It was a wild experience,” he said.

Stories he filed included coverage of the U.S. military using cluster bombs and white phosphorus in civilian areas, which violates Geneva Convention regulations.

“The occupation is not over,” he said, “This is far from over.”

He also spoke of safety and said it was a concern, but that the kidnappings and beheadings weren’t as prevalent when he was there.

Jamail touched on Iraqi civilian input and said a vast majority of Iraqis want a total withdrawal of occupation forces.

When asked if Iraq would then turn into chaos, Jamail said from his discussions with Iraqi citizens, that they are concerned about that.

However, he said citizens in Iraq said the country has militias, but their militias don’t have weapons that occupying forces have – including tanks and planes dropping bombs.

“War is not pretty,” he told the audience, adding that it’s “vile,” “disgusting” and “terrible.”

He spoke of the “new” embedded journalist program, and said because journalists have to rely on the units for their safety, their coverage of the military unit would be favorable for “obvious” reasons.

Jamail spoke of how stretched the U.S. military was, and that the soldiers were “long past a breaking point” and have people who are on multiple deployments.

However, he said the information he was offering isn’t found in the “mainstream media” and that the importance of a democracy is having an informed population.

He asked how can there be a democracy, “If you guys don’t know what’s going on?”

Jamail also read a passage from one of his books, detailing reports of women who were sexually assaulted in the military and said according to the Pentagon, 80 percent of sexual assaults never get reported.

He also talked about kidnappings and violence against journalists in Iraq.

“You do have to worry about those things,” he said, adding that he would try to fit in with the citizens as best as he could.

Jamail said fitting in included wearing local clothes and growing a beard.

He said he didn’t believe wearing a flak jacket that says “press” on it, and riding around with the military was a way of fitting in.

Jamail also responded to an audience question about the government in Iraq, which he said was a “puppet government.”

Jamail said citizens in Iraq believe the government lacks legitimacy and that they meet inside the “green zone” – a heavily guarded area inside Baghdad where coalition forces work.

He also spoke of the statistics that more than 70 percent of Iraqis oppose the occupation and that he would “always defer” to the wishes of the Iraqi people. “It’s not our country,” he said.

Jamail has written two books – “Beyond the Green Zone,” which includes dispatches from an unembedded journalist in occupied Iraq, and “The Will to Resist,” about soldiers who refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jamail currently writes for Inter Press Service and Le Monde Diplomatique.

For more information, visit Jamail’s web site at www.dahrjamailiraq.com.

UConn budget session postponed until October

September 21, 2009 Local News No Comments

uconn-logo1Although the state’s budget is law, University of Connecticut trustees have delayed a scheduled budget session until October before discussing, creating and approving the university’s 2009-10 budget.

The budget planning session was scheduled for Tuesday, but has since been rescheduled to the board’s Oct. 20 meeting.

Next month’s meeting will be at the Storrs’ campus and will begin at 9 a.m. It will take place in the Rome Commons Ballroom.

The meeting is open to the public, but trustees may go into executive session if they have to enter into any negotiations or discuss other private matters as defined by state law.

Trustees were originally slated to vote upon a budget in June, but – since the state’s budget was still in flux at the time – no final decision was made.
Instead, trustees approved unanimously to set a temporary spending plan for UConn. The plan – $932.3 million – was based on the university’s 2008-09 fiscal year spending plan.

Additionally, a $755.9 million temporary spending plan for the University of Connecticut Health Center was also approved.

Although that temporary action was meant to last until Tuesday’s scheduled budget session, UConn will continue operating under that plan until a final plan has been approved, said UConn spokesman Michael Kirk.

According Kirk, the budget session was delayed because of poor timing.

Kirk said there was not enough time between the state’s budget being approved and the trustees scheduled budget session to collect and send financial information to trustees.

“It was just an issue of time,” he said this morning.

He said the university’s budget office required more time to gather budget materials than was available. The state’s budget went into effect Sept. 9.

Kirk said it was important that trustees and UConn finance officials had enough time to review budget materials before the session.

Although the meeting includes discussion about the proposed budget, the document is “vast” and requires additional review he said.

Trustees are expected to vote upon the budget during the October meeting.

How to: lawn 'construction and renovation'

September 20, 2009 Local News No Comments

mowing-the-lawn-drybrushThe cooler weather of September is the perfect time to establish new lawns or renovate those that have deteriorated.

In general, renovation is recommended for lawns having 50 percent or more bare spots or weed species. Smaller areas usually do not require extensive renovation and may just need to be reseeded.

When constructing a new lawn, a little extra effort in site preparation will reward you with a healthier, greener, lower maintenance stand of turf.

Good drainage is essential. Typical cool season turf grass species will not do well on poorly drained sites. Either the drainage situation will have to be improved or consider using this type of area for a rain garden, raised planting beds or maybe even installing a water feature.

Turf grasses also require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun each day and 5 to 7 inches of topsoil in order to thrive.

Most of Connecticut is covered with sandy loams that are an ideal texture for growing turf. When mixed with a little water, sandy loam soils will have a slightly gritty feel. If your soil is either too sandy or too clayey, adding organic matter will improve the soil’s structure as well as its water-holding capacity, drainage and other physical properties.

To add limestone or not?

The ideal soil pH for turf is around 6.4, so it may also be necessary to apply limestone. Getting a soil test will help you determine how much limestone and fertilizer to apply before seeding. (Visit www.soiltest.uconn.edu for information on soil testing.)

Without a test, use a starter fertilizer following the package’s recommendations, and about 50 pounds of limestone per 1,000 square feet. Rototilling the organic matter, limestone and fertilizer to a depth of 4 to 5 inches will distribute the amendments evenly.

Prepare the final seedbed by doing any necessary grading. A lawn roller is useful to flatten the area after rototilling. Lightly go over the area with a rake, following rolling, to loosen the soil surface before seeding.

Lawns to be renovated require weed control and soil cultivation before seeding. Again, limestone and fertilizer can be applied as recommended by the package or a soil test.

Broadleaf weeds can be dug out by hand or controlled selectively using herbicides formulated for broadleaf weeds in turf.

Areas with perennial grassy weeds such as quackgrass can be dug up or sprayed with a non-selective herbicide which will kill all the vegetation at that site.

Lawns are generally mowed very low before overseeding.

Get rid of thatch

Thatch accumulations of more than one-half inch should be removed using a rake in small areas, or using a “verticutting” or “power slicing” machine for large areas. This machine slices quarter-inch grooves in the soil while removing the thatch layer. It exposes the soil so the seeds have a better chance of making contact with it and germinating.

A core aerator can be used on compacted soils. It pulls up plugs of soil and allows water and air to penetrate the grass root zone.

Sow seed now

Now is a great time to seed. A mixture of turf grass species is typically recommended because, as a rule, mixtures are less susceptible to disease and insect problems than single species. Most cool season turf grass mixtures contain Kentucky bluegrass, fescues and perennial ryegrass.

For either a lower maintenance lawn or for partially shaded sites (4 hours of direct sun each day), think fescues. Either the turf-type tall fescues or the finer leaf fescues require less water and fertilizer and tolerate more shade and lower pH levels than Kentucky bluegrass does. Check out www.turf.uconn.edu for more information on fescues.

Approximately 4 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet will result in good coverage.

Spread one half of the seed in one direction over the entire area with a drop spreader, and the second half in the perpendicular direction. This will prevent bare spots.

Go over the newly-seeded area lightly with a rake, and take care not to bury the seeds but just ensure good contact with the soil.

Keep it moist

Moisture is critical to establish turf grass. Frequent light sprinkling is recommended until the seeds germinate. That may take 7 to 21 days, depending on the grass species.

Some people choose to use a light covering of mulch hay to help moisture retention.

When the new lawn reaches about 3 inches in height, mow it to 2 inches. Additional fertilization will not be required until next spring.

While it takes a little more work to properly install or renovate a lawn, the long term results are worth it.

If you have questions about lawn care, construction or renovation, or any other home and garden topic, call the UConn Home & Garden Education Center (toll-free) at (877) 486-6271 or visit www.ladybug.uconn.edu.



Local day camps made a great summer for cancer patients families

CHILDREN RUNNING from Windham Hosp FB page

In addition, the Town of Coventry Parks and Recreation Camp and Camp Asto Wamah in Columbia, CT each offered free spaces for children of cancer patients.

Future of local water supply is topic of public forum July 29

water - drinking water - water faucet

Questions about water sources, usage and quality have come into focus recently in light of the Storrs Center development, UConn’s plans to bring in water to support a new Tech Park and the concurrent needs of the towns in this region, particularly in terms of their own development plans.

Federal programs can support rural cultural ‘economy’

Franconia Sculpture Park in Taylors Falls, MN is a jewel amidst the farms and provides an extra economic boost to the surrounding rural communities as well as cultural enrichment to both local residents and visitors from the Twin Cities.  Photo source USDA via Franconia Sculpture Park.

We had the opportunity to explore ways in which USDA’s infrastructure programs might be able to leverage this new boost of philanthropic support as these communities work to demonstrate how cultural development is an essential ingredient for rural communities in the next generation.

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