From where I sit on the Ledyard Town Council

From where I sitFinance committees around Eastern Connecticut will soon begin the task of preparing budgets for the 2016-2017 fiscal year which commences on July 1, 2016.  I’ve been involved in local politics since the mid-80’s and budget season is never easy. Sometimes it can be downright ugly. I remember a particularly contentious year when we found it necessary to have a police presence at Ledyard High School for the Annual Town Meeting. 

Budget seasons can be divisive for a town. When it comes to evaluating a town budget, a senior citizen on a fixed income won’t share the same perspective as a mother of 2 elementary school children.  Voting on a budget can even become a sport as Stonington demonstrated one year when it took 5 tries before the voters agreed on a budget. While I support a person’s right to vote against a budget, I don’t support voting no for the heck of it and I’ve seen that happen too.

As an elected official, the lack of interest during budget deliberations in recent years can be pretty frustrating.  Too often, taxpayers wait until too late to become involved and then wonder exactly what happened.  In Ledyard, as in nearly every town in the region, there is plenty of opportunity to follow the budget process. The local newspaper coverage is woefully inadequate but if you are willing to attend a few meetings, you’ll be better prepared to make an informed voting decision, and I can promise most town officials are interested in citizen input. 


The Old Gales Ferry School

A recent comment in the Day newspaper about Ledyard’s School Building project still has me fuming. “Look at the mess in Gales Ferry with a rotting school still standing.”

Rotting school in Gales Ferry? I would invite anyone to visit the old Gales Ferry School at 7 Hurlbutt Road which houses SCRRRA and several other Ledyard businesses. A number of improvements have been made to the building using funds from the rent the town collects from tenants. It is generating income and far from rotting. And don’t forget that the town also sold a portion of the old Gales Ferry School property to house a CVS.

cvs_web


Just my opinion...

  • The whole New London Superintendent fiasco could have been avoided if just one person in town government or from the paid search firm had used Google. I’ve never been a big fan of search consulting firms and this just confirms my opinion.
  • I sent some gift cards as a donation to the Ledyard Clothing Exchange this weekend. The Ledyard Clothing Exchange is the perfect example of the good work that private sector volunteers can do. Government is not always the best answer.
  • I would suggest that if letters to parents had gone out sooner than one week before school started, the big bus brouhaha would have been reduced to just a murmur as resourceful parents would have had more time to find solutions. 
  • Speaking of the bus brouhaha, I’d gladly take the next person to lunch, who can get either Channel 3 or 8 to town for a POSITIVE news story. There is lots to love about Ledyard.
  • I’m surprised there doesn’t appear to be more concern about an August story in the Day newspaper describing the Mashantucket’s failure to meet their financial obligations (again). That  news, plummeting profits and a story of how they are selling off land and property doesn’t bode well.
  • I have really enjoyed meeting the vendors at the Ledyard Farmers’ Market this year. They are genuinely nice people. There are only two weeks remaining  - September 10th and September 17th. Our market  season closes earlier than any other market in the area. We need to fix that.
About the author:  Linda Davis has been a licensed real estate agent in Ledyard CT for over 35 years. She has a long history of community service and currently serves as Chairman/Deputy Mayor of  the Ledyard Town Council. Linda can help with homes for sale in Ledyard as well as homes for sale in Eastern CT including, Groton, Mystic, Stonington, Norwich, Montville, New London, East Lyme, or Waterford. 

Just Google It. Please

The mess that the New London Board of Education finds itself in could have been avoided had someone simply Goggled, “Terrence P. Carter” and then followed the results.  Mix up the search term by adding previous job titles and more information becomes available. Head down the path these searches lead to and find more search terms. Google those terms. Repeat.  Next, check Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Public officials owe that exercise to their citizenry whenever they hire someone.

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Simply Ledyard Made Simple - iPad Edition

Most of the real estate bloggers I know use Word Press as their blogging platform. Although I don't fit in with the cool real estate bloggers, I feel at home using Type Pad, my blogging since 2005. Seth Godin, a prolific blogger and author uses TypePad and I have always said that if it is good enough for Seth, it is good enough for me.

For the past several days, TypePad has been hit with "a distributed denial of service (DDoS)." Typepad did an outstanding job of keep users updated as they worked to return business back to normal. At no time was my account in danger of being compromised. If you stopped by and it looked like no one was home, the DDoS was the reason. it was the first time, the door was closed in 9 years. I plan to stick around.


Ledyard Budget Season

3-9-2014 7-34-44 AMIt appears that March is coming in like a lion as it relates to the start of Ledyard’s Budget Season. The past few years have been relatively pain free with no big battles and a budget that has been approved by the voters on the first try. On March 4th, the Mayor delivered his budget to the Town Council and as a result of rising health care costs, it isn’t pretty. The total budget as presented would represent an 8.6% increase( 2.4 mils). The primary driver of the increase is a 46% rise in health care costs, including  $1.5 million in additional health care costs on the Board of Education side.

The Town Council’s finance committee will be holding a number of budget work sessions throughout March and expects to finalize the budget mid-April. My personal opinion is that the taxpayer is not likely to approve a 2.4 mil rate increase. The public will have an opportunity to weigh in at a public hearing scheduled for April 21st.

Linda Davis has been a licensed real estate agent in Ledyard for over 35 years. She has a long history of community service and currently serves as Chairman of  the Ledyard Town Council. Linda can help with your home sale or search in Eastern CT including, Groton, Mystic, Stonington, Norwich, Montville, New London, East Lyme, or Waterford.


I Love Ledyard

heartA very long time ago, I purchased a website who’s name was “I Love Ledyard”.  I’m not going to include the link since I really don’t want you to go there. It was a cool (at the time) website, where I could post events and information about clubs and groups in our community. When Facebook and blogging came into my vocabulary, I discovered the ability to do many of the same things I could do on the “I Love Ledyard” website but mostly for free. The website company (not me) owned the URL name “I Love Ledyard” which was part of the agreement. I’m fine so far. What I’m not fine with is that the company that owns the website has kept the website live with dated and inaccurate information. As an example, Mayor Rodolico has been in office well over two years and is not listed as our current mayor. I still get calls from unhappy people complaining that their club or group is listed improperly. They assume I still am involved. I have emailed and even called the company requesting that they either update the info or unpublish the website but to no avail. 

And so, for the record, I do Love Ledyard but I do not own the “I Love Ledyard” website.

About the author:  Linda Davis has been a licensed real estate agent in Ledyard CT for over 35 years. She has a long history of community service and currently serves as Chairman/Deputy Mayor of  the Ledyard Town Council. Linda can help with homes for sale in Ledyard as well as homes for sale in Eastern CT including, Groton, Mystic, Stonington, Norwich, Montville, New London, East Lyme, or Waterford.


Top 10 News Stories in Ledyard During 2013

2013_desk_calendar_800_6761This is that time of year when writers and bloggers seem to have a desire to publish lists. While some lists are predictions for the New Year, most are simply a compilation of what the author feels are the top news story in his genre or niche. Since Ledyard is what I write about most, it seemed only right that I end the year with a blog post of what I consider the top news stories in Ledyard.

I asked for a little help from my friends at the Facebook Ledyard/Gales Ferry Community Forum and there were plenty of suggestions. Coming up with top stories was easy. Deciding which made the cut and then putting them in numerical order was the difficult part. I’m sure depending where you sit, the choices would have been different.

10.  Ledyard High School Graduation - One privilege of serving on the Ledyard Town Council is having the ability to sit on the field during high school graduation ceremonies. The class of 2013 included Michael Daggett, a blind student who was a source of inspiration to faculty, students and anyone who knows Michael’s story.

Ledyard High School Graduation

9. Change in School Administration – Mike Graner, the popular Superintendent of Ledyard Public Schools, accepted a job as superintendent in Groton and starts working there in 2014. It recently took the Groton Board of Education 5 tries to elect a new chairman, I’d say Mike has his work cut out for him in Groton but I’m sure he is up for the challenge!

8. Structural Fires – There were a number of structural fires in town in 2013 including one during the February Nor’easter as emergency volunteers performed their jobs quite admirably under miserable conditions. The Ledyard Community came together to do what they do best and gave overwhelming support to the Munger family who lost their home on Nutmeg Drive during the storm.

7.  February Nor’easter – The Blizzard of 2013 dumped about 20 inches of snow on Ledyard and yes, the Mayor was out of town for the event. Mayor Rodolico seldom goes on vacation but when he does we do seem to have weather of biblical proportions. Hurricane Sandy and our recent earthquake both happened while I was serving as Acting Mayor, begging the question is it him or me to blame?

Ledyard Blizzaard 2013

6. Ledyard Dispatch – The decision was made for Ledyard Dispatch to remain in town for now but there is still work to be done and CT Legislative decisions on regional collaboration bear watching.

5.  The Ledyard Gales Ferry Community Forum on Facebook – The forum is deserving of a place in the top 5 as it has made the local news on numerous occasions. The almost 1500 members of the forum continue to do good work including finding lost dogs, rescuing cats from trees, promoting community events and answering questions on a daily basis. In an amazing last minute effort, members of the forum put together Ledyard’s first Trunk or Treat event. The forum demonstrates the “neighbors helping neighbors” spirit every day and members are active in forming and contributing to other volunteer groups in town. 

4.  The Blight Ordinance – After years and years of trying, Ledyard has a Blight Ordinance, a Blight Enforcement Officer and a Blight Appeals Committee made up of volunteers. For those involved in town government – Never, never, never give up.

3.  A New Police Building - In May, voters approved a new  $6.4 million new police station to replace the ancient facility on Lorenz Parkway. The new station will be built at 737 Col. Ledyard Highway, next  to Town Hall. A project for the renovations and addition to the Middle School was approved by the Town Council but removed from the same ballot when questions were raised at the state level about qualification for reimbursement. The questions were clarified but not in time to get the project back on the ballot. The Permanent Municipal Building Committee continues to work on both projects.

2. The Ledyard Lizard - When Stephanie Calhoun saw a strange reptile near Spicer Hill Road on July 14th, she took a picture and posted it on Facebook with the words, “OMG. This is what I saw in the side of the road in Spicer Hill about 1:15pm Sunday. It was about 3 feet long. SO GROSS!!!!!” Those familiar with such reptiles identified it as a Monitor Lizard and it quickly became known as simply “The Ledyard Lizard.” The story would mesmerize the Ledyard Facebook Forum for weeks as sightings (some not true and some just for fun) were posted. Sadly, things ended badly for the Ledyard Lizard and the news went viral as the Lizard’s demise was reported by the Associated Press as well as Channel 3 Eyewitness News. Tee Shirts soon followed.

Ledyard Town Hall Lizard

 

1. Ledyard's victory in AC Coin Case - It has been 7 years since the Ledyard Town Council made the decision to pursue collection of personal property taxes on the slot machines leased to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. A lawsuit from the Tribe followed and the case made its way slowly through the courts while the Town of Ledyard incurred significant legal costs. In July, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, ruled in a 3-0 decision in favor of the Town in the case Mashantucket Pequot Tribe v. Town of Ledyard. The Tribe has yet to comment on whether they will seek to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

I have been a member of the Town Council throughout the process and I couldn’t be more proud of my fellow councilors who despite criticism in some circles, were determined to pursue a fair decision that had less to due with slot machines and more to do with the future of the Town of Ledyard. I decided to list this story #1 due to the “precedent -setting decision in favor of state and local governments”.

Linda Davis is a blogger, politician, real estate broker, technology trainer, wannabe photographer and golfer. She simply loves the Town of Ledyard!


The Fog of Sailfest Fireworks

The last time I attended the Sailfest Fireworks, light winds blew the smoke in our viewing direction on Thames Street and it was pretty much a bust. It was the second year in a row of disappointment. This year I attended a picnic for dinner and stayed home for the big fireworks event. (Can it really be a big event without the Grucci’s?) I figured I’d just watch the Day online who was live streaming the show with music from the Coast Guard Band. The music was great. The fireworks not so much.

Last night, fog ruined the view and there was plenty of complaining online about the situation. At least I hadn’t waited for hours waiting for the show. It appeared that the fog rolled in at the very last minute and not canceling the show was a difficult call at best. I would never want to be the person who had to make that decision or the one who decides whether to cancel school in a snowstorm for that matter. Hopefully next year, the weather will be perfect and the view will be outstanding from Thames Street, Fort Trumbell and everywhere in between.  But PLEASE bring back the Grucci’s.

 

Fireworks

 

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A wish for a Trader Joe’s near Ledyard

Trader Joe'sWhenever there is talk about more economic development in Ledyard, the idea of a Trader Joe’s is inevitably mentioned. I always hate to sound negative but that possibility is slim to none and probably closer to none. We just don’t have the demographics that TJ’s is looking for. Despite my slightly negative attitude, I do think there is hope that someday we might get one a little closer than the location in Warwick RI  that I travel to now. I’m thinking that Mystic/Stonington or Waterford are possibilities.

Whenever the talk of Trader Joe’s come up, fans always talk about the favorites that they buy there. I started a list several years ago, update it regularly and have shared it many times but never to the readers of my Simply Ledyard blog. So here it is, my Trader Joe’s list (in no particular order and subject to change often.)

entodo_uncheckedAsiago Cheese w/Rosemary & Olive Oil

entodo_unchecked[1]Cave Aged Vermont Cheddar

entodo_unchecked[2]Steel Cut Oatmeal (Frozen)

entodo_unchecked[3]Sesame Soy Ginger vinaigrette

entodo_unchecked[4]Golden Berry Blend

entodo_unchecked[5]French Toast

entodo_unchecked[6]Orange Chicken (frozen)

entodo_unchecked[7]Organic Dry Roasted Lightly Salted Cashews

entodo_unchecked[8]Mint Chip Ice Cream

entodo_unchecked[9]Olive Oil

entodo_unchecked[10]Cooked Shrimp

entodo_unchecked[11]Mini Peanut Butter Cups

entodo_unchecked[12]Organic Garbanzo Beans

entodo_unchecked[13]Ribs (Sandwich/lunch meat section)

entodo_unchecked[14]BBQ Chicken Terriyaki (Frozen)

entodo_unchecked[15]Organic Sugar

entodo_unchecked[16]Gorgonzola Crackers

entodo_unchecked[17]Shaved Steak

entodo_unchecked[18]Sweet Potato Chips

entodo_unchecked[19]Peach Salsa

entodo_unchecked[20]Falafel Chips

entodo_unchecked[21]Organic Granny Apple Granola Cereal

entodo_unchecked[23]TJ’s Yellow fin Tuna

entodo_unchecked[24]Roasted Coconut Chips

entodo_unchecked[25]Shaved Brussell Sprouts

entodo_unchecked[26]Salad Mix (chopped veggies)

entodo_unchecked[27]Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil

entodo_unchecked[28]Seasonal - Cranberry Sauce

entodo_unchecked[29]50% Less Salt Pistachios

entodo_unchecked[30]Dark Chocolate Nibs  (Found at check out - Tiny Container.)

entodo_unchecked[31]Kale Chips

entodo_unchecked[32]Organic Light Cream Cheese

entodo_unchecked[33]Frozen Very Cherry Berry Blend

entodo_unchecked[34]TJ's Frozen Artichokes

entodo_unchecked[35]TJ's Organic Extra Virgin Spanish Olive Oil

entodo_unchecked[36]Tea Scones

entodo_unchecked[37]73% Dark Chocolate with Almonds

entodo_unchecked[38]Broccoli Slaw

P.S.  I'm always looking to add to my list so please feel free to share your favorites!