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Congressman Joe Courtney on looming budget cuts

COURTNEY - Congressman Joe Courtney headshot 2012

Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney.

Dear Friend,

Last Friday, with sequestration’s across-the-board, indiscriminate cuts looming and a host of outstanding issues still unaddressed, Speaker Boehner called a vote on whether the House should adjourn and return home for the week.

I voted against adjourning and said, “As precious seconds tick away, the House should be in Washington doing its job and finding a compromise to protect our economy. Speaker Boehner should reverse course, and keep the House in session.”

Sequestration was designed to spur bipartisan action in Congress to address our long-term fiscal outlook. When used in the past, that is precisely what happened. In fact, former-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) said: “It was never the objective of Gramm-Rudman [legislation that used sequestration in 1985] to trigger the sequester; the objective of Gramm-Rudman was to have the threat of the sequester force compromise and action.”

… Continue Reading

Thank you to Coventry boosters for giving football team winning edge

football-close-up-imageTo the Editor:

I want to send my appreciation to all the family members and booster supporters that have made the last three Friday night Football Potlucks for the Band such a success!

As you may have heard, the CWT Football team won yet again, 48 to 21, over Canton.

You know I keep on asking, “Can it be the Pep Band?” I just don’t know, but I can say with certainty that the band members definitely appreciate all the good food , hot cocoa and desserts!

You should see the rush for the tables after their warm-up sessions. If they were sluggish before, all that good food certainly gives them a boost. And the more energy they have…. well, you can follow the rest.

We have been recognized as well by the football leaders as helping with the change in environment at the games. Obviously, with great new bleachers, larger crowds, as well as great music, it really adds to the whole game night experience for all.

So thanks again for the behind-the-scenes help.

Keep your eyes and ears open for all the upcoming activities next weekend. It is shaping up nicely and what an incredible event when you think on it. Who doesn’t want to have a World Record?

Keep a look out for updates on the CHS Booster site as well as new postings on our Tumblr blog at: http://chsmusic.tumblr.com/

’til later then!

Kiev Federowicz, President, Coventry High School Music Boosters

http://www.chsmusicboosters.org/

Visit us at Facebook at Coventry High School Music Boosters

Posted Oct. 25, 2011

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Popular Coventry market is on its own

Coventry Farmers Market at Nathan Hale Homestead

Coventry Farmers Market at Nathan Hale Homestead

The Coventry Farmer’s Market operating com­mittee has revised a partnership agreement with the town’s eco­nomic development commission to become independent from the town.

Previously, the farmer’s market was an offspring of the town’s economic development commis­sion, with three members of the market’s operating committee reporting to the commission on a monthly basis, Coventry Town Manager John Elsesser said.

The new agreement outlines the responsibilities of the EDC and market committee, enabling the market to operate as its own entity, with occasional services, such as consulting, provided by the town.

Market organizers will continue to report to the EDC, but will not receive any town funding.

Council members approved the agreement by a unanimous vote Monday (May 16).

The annual market features ven­dors selling handmade and baked goods, generating sales that exceed $350,000 each year.

It is held June through October on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Nathan Hale Homestead on 2299 South St., Coventry.

The eighth season of the wildly popular market begins June 5. The market is held in the wintertime at Coventry High School.

In the past, the town has provided the market with insurance, limited property maintenance and bookkeeping.

Under the new agreement, however, the committee – not the town – will be responsible for its financial and insurance matters.

“We want to be where we are without the town’s support,” said Roberta Wilmot, chairman of the Coventry Regional Farmers Market’s operating committee.

Elsesser said because the market will now be its own entity, the town can’t cover its insurance legally.

EDC Chairman Sondra Astor-Stave said her commission is the “cheering section” for the market.

“We’re so proud our market is considered to be among the best two to three markets in New England,” Astor-Stave said.

Per the market contract, established in July, the market operating committee will pay Connecticut Landmarks $2,500, $1,500 of which is payable on or before May 31st , and the remainder due on the close of the market in October.

Connecticut Landmarks is the non-profit historical agency that owns the Nathan Hale Homestead.

When the market moved to the homestead of the Connecticut Revolutionary War hero, the popularity of the event skyrocketed.

In all, $1,600 of the $2,500 would come from fundraising done by the committee and vendor fees.

Wilmot said the market operating committee was denied its request to become a non-profit organization because state officials didn’t think it was a proper “educational institution.”

Although educational activities are part of the market, it was not rec­ognized as an educational institution because the market’s aim is more to promote local commerce.

Under the new agreement that separates the market from the town, however, market organizers will be able to establish it as a non-profit and be able to apply for certain grants.

These grants, Elsesser said, could cover the few thousand dollars in insurance costs the committee would be responsible for.

“It’s a big step for them,” he said. “It’s a big act of courage.”

Council Chairman Elizabeth Woolf and Council member Steven Hall said the market is well known throughout the state, attracting locals as well as residents from other Connecticut towns and states.

“It puts us on the map,” Hall said.

Council Vice Chairman William Zenko said he has been supportive of the farmer’s market since it first formed.

He said he’s met a lot of “interesting” people at the market.

Posted 5-23-2011

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Changes to credit card rules you need to know

Congressman Joe Courtney met with seniors in Lebanon to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Social Security. He says seniors are often the hardest hit by credit card policies. Courtesy photo.

Congressman Joe Courtney met with seniors in Lebanon to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Social Security on Aug. 14, 2010. He says seniors are often the hardest hit by credit card policies. Courtesy photo.

From Congressman Joe Courtney:

Earlier this week, provisions designed to protect credit card holders went into effect across the country as part of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure or CARD Act.

I fought for the CARD Act because it addresses many of the deceptive and frustrating practices used by credit card companies – many of which I have heard about directly from constituents.

Some changes have already gone into effect as of earlier this year, but as of August 22, 2010 credit card companies must adhere to the following consumer-friendly rules, as well:

Reasonable penalty fees

Previously: A late payment fee may have been as high as $39, and you likely pay the same fee whether you are late with a $20 minimum payment or a $100 minimum payment.

Now: Your credit card company cannot charge you a fee higher than $25 unless: (1) One of your last six payments was [also] late, in which case the fee may be up to $35; or (2) Your credit card company can justify a higher fee by showing that it incurs costs as a result of late payments.

Also, your credit card company cannot charge a late payment fee greater than your minimum payment.

Therefore, if you have a minimum payment of $20, your late payment fee can’t be more than $20.

Similarly, if you exceed your credit limit by $5, you can’t be charged an over-the-limit fee of more than $5.

Re-evaluation of recent rate increases

Previously: Your credit card company could increase your card’s APR with no obligation to re-evaluate the rate increase.

Now: If your credit card company increases your APR, it must re-evaluate that rate increase every six months. If appropriate, it must reduce your rate within 45 days of completing the evaluation.

Additional fee protections

No inactivity fees. Your credit card company cannot charge you inactivity fees for not using your card.

One-fee limit

Your credit card company cannot charge you more than one fee for a single event or transaction that violates your agreement as a cardholder. For example, you cannot be charged more than one fee for a single late payment.

As I mentioned, these are the last of several rules implemented as part of the CARD Act. A list of the protections that went into effect earlier this year can be found at this link to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Web site:

http://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerinfo/wyntk_creditcardrules.htm

As always, I look forward to hearing from you about this or any other information.

Please feel free to contact me at http://courtney.house.gov/email to share your thoughts or concerns.

Editor’s note:

Some of the changes affecting bank practices when it comes to credit cards that went into effect in February 2010 are especially important. Among them:

  • If your credit card company does raise your interest rate after the first year, the new rate will apply only to new charges you make. If you have a balance, your old interest rate will apply to that balance.
  • If your payment due date is on a weekend or holiday (when the company does not process payments), you will have until the following business day to pay. (For example, if the due date is Sunday the 15th, your payment will be on time if it is received by Monday the 16th before 5 p.m.).
  • If you opt-in to allowing transactions that take you over your credit limit, your credit card company can impose only one fee per billing cycle. You can revoke your opt-in at any time. [Talk to your bank representative about how to sign up to allow transactions over the limit; most banks are assuming you don't want this option if you do NOT contact them.]

Information about more changes is available at the link included in Congressman Courtney’s letter, above.

Posted Aug. 27, 2010

Any increase in budget will create hardship

for-sale-sign-house-for-saleCoventry residents rejected indebting the town to build new facilities for the department of public works and the North Coventry fire department, in spite of strong endorsement by the town council.

There is no doubt that the “no” vote represents the will of the people.

In these difficult times, some homeowners are concerned about losing their home or have lost their job. They likely voted “no”. To them $200-$300 in new taxes is the difference between having and not having a number of essentials.

Without some form of relief, projecting a tax increase at any time is unlikely to win their support. Should or can a town council have a moral obligation to provide such relief? Probably not.

But it has an obligation to make all information available, so residents can vote responsibly.

Some voters faced the dilemma of approving a major expenditure on faith or, feeling that not all the facts were known, voting for delaying these projects.

Bad times are not over, people are still being laid off and homes are still being foreclosed.

It is troubling that when the economic collapse is attributed to the over-valuation of real estate, revaluation in many towns has increased home values, sometimes substantially. In Coventry, these people will see a substantial increase in taxes next year.

Unless the council reduces expenses, the budget will be rejected or, if approved, some people will resolve to sell and leave town or go delinquent on their taxes to eventually abandon their property.

In either case. the result will be an irreversible change in the demographics of the town.

If the results of the referendum vote are any indication, they clearly show the direction of the voters’ will. The council is elected to reflect that will

-J. R. Collard

Courtney meets with Connecticut troops in Iraq

Congressman Joe Courtney visits Connecticut troops in Iraq and discusses benefits they will be entitled to when they return home. (L-R) Specialist Jonathan Fillion, Army, West Hartford; Sergeant James Alfred, Army, Uncasville; Staff Sergeant John Bellville, Army, Killingly; Rep. Joe Courtney; Specialist Aokusia Terrell, Army, New Britain; Sergeant Michael Barber, 39th Military Police Company, National Guard, Coventry; Specialist Kenneth Froeberg, Army, North Haven; Specialist Carl Beringer III, Army, West Haven. Courtesy photo.

Congressman Joe Courtney visits Connecticut troops in Iraq and discusses benefits they will be entitled to when they return home. (L-R) Specialist Jonathan Fillion, Army, West Hartford; Sergeant James Alfred, Army, Uncasville; Staff Sergeant John Bellville, Army, Killingly; Rep. Joe Courtney; Specialist Aokusia Terrell, Army, New Britain; Sergeant Michael Barber, 39th Military Police Company, National Guard, Coventry; Specialist Kenneth Froeberg, Army, North Haven; Specialist Carl Beringer III, Army, West Haven. Courtesy photo.

To the Editor:

Last week, I traveled to Iraq to meet with U.S. military and civilian officials for a first-hand look at progress in Iraq to draw down U.S. troop levels. This was my third visit to the country in two years.

I also had the fortunate opportunity to meet with Connecticut troops serving with the United States Army and National Guard.

As Iraq begins to fade from the front pages of our newspapers, I want to make sure that we never forget that there are tens of thousands of American men and women serving in Iraq, including many of our family, friends and neighbors from across Connecticut.

I believe that members of Congress must stay up-to-date on the situation in Iraq, as we begin to drawdown our troop level, which is why I wanted another look at the progress in the region.

During the visit, I had the opportunity to meet with the commander of US forces in Iraq, General Ray Ordierno, to get his take on the progress of the drawdown.

Gen. Ordierno was more optimistic in his assessment than my last visit in December 2008, and indicated that the reduction in force levels was going better than he had anticipated.

There are still many challenges ahead, but his insight will be invaluable as I continue to monitor this issue as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

The real honor of the trip, however, was being able to spend some time in Taji with Connecticut’s finest, whose service has taken them far from home and their families. They are a wonderful group of courageous individuals and their bravery and sacrifice is appreciated.

Furthermore, as troops begin returning home, they must receive the benefits to which they are entitled and have earned, including the new GI Bill education benefit.

On Aug. 1, the Department of Veterans Affairs began distributing tuition payments to schools participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program. Returning troops are encouraged to visit http://www.gibill.va.gov to learn more about the program.

I strongly supported the new GI Bill, in order to ensure that our troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have the access to a quality education they need to start a new career or further an existing career.

I encourage veterans to also contact my Norwich District Office [860-886-0139] should they have additional questions or concerns, or run into any red tape. [The mailing address is 101 Water Street, Suite 301, Norwich , CT 06360]

Sincerely, Joe Courtney

[Website: http://courtney.house.gov/ ]

Posted Aug. 5, 2009

Sponsores



Business

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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