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Sound Bites: Second phase of Saugatuck bridge replacement project in effect this weekend

Saugatuck River Bridge
Wikimedia Commons
Saugatuck River Bridge

Good morning. 

A new Connecticut state law requires students to be at least 5 years old before starting school, causing a drop in more than 400 eligible students to enroll in kindergarten classes next year. 

State lawmakers voted earlier this year to change the kindergarten cutoff date from Jan. 1 to Sept. 1 to bring Connecticut in line with other states and to ensure incoming students are better developed and more mature. Overall, the drop in students could lead to a loss in state funding and is expected to increase the financial burden on parents for an additional year of child care.

In a letter to Governor Ned Lamont last week, over 100 parents called on him to supply an additional $50 million yearly for funded preschool and childcare slots.

Officials with the state Department of Education have yet to address the effect the change will have on school finances, but stated the department will monitor the impact. 

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we’re hearing:

The Connecticut High School Football Alliance proposes to change the way state teams get their schedules, suggesting an end to the regular season in early November and championships on Thanksgiving weekend. An earlier end could allow for 12 playoff teams in each class instead of the current eight. The Alliance's proposal leaves a space on Columbus Day to play “Thanksgiving rivalry” games.

Residents in Sterling, Connecticut, have been experiencing groups of feral pigs rooting up grass on properties. The owner of Radical Roots Farm, where local officials say the animals are from, has not commented. A joint investigation with the state Department of Agriculture is in development, according to First Selectman Lincoln Cooper. Town leaders are working on an updated regulation that would mandate livestock owners to keep acceptable fencing and fine violators.

A Willimantic resident was arrested after a halfway house nurse's death. Michael Reese had been under the watch of Connecticut correction and judicial officials since 2006 after his arrest for sexual assault. But as he was in the process of transitioning into the community, a nurse was reported killed at Willimantic’s halfway house for sex offenders, where Reese had been living. Reese has been arrested on several charges; he is a suspect in the homicide but has not yet been charged for it.

Connecticut and Long Island residents will gain an hour of sleep this Sunday when daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. and clocks “fall back” one hour. An increasing number of experts and lawmakers have come out against this practice, as it has been proven to disrupt the physical, mental and behavioral changes in the body known as circadian rhythms. The Sunshine Protection Act, which would make daylight saving time permanent and eliminate these seasonal changes nationwide, has not made progress in Congress since March.

Two hospitals on Long Island reported a “major increase” in RSV infections coming into the emergency department, specifically among young patients. Normally, RSV infections peak in the months of December or January. This year, it started in early October. RSV vaccines are available for older people and pregnant women, and a monoclonal antibody treatment was recently made available for infants and some toddlers.

The Connecticut Water Company is requesting an 18% rate increase for the 60 communities it serves throughout the state. If regulators approve, the new rate will take effect on July 1, 2024. Depending on where customers live, the increase would add between $18.80 and $58.69 to the typical quarterly residential bill.

The second phase of the Saugatuck bridge replacement project is in effect this weekend on Interstate 95 in the Norwalk and Westport area. Southbound traffic on I-95 will be redirected to the northbound side from 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, to 6 a.m. Monday, Nov. 6. The second bridge replacement will conclude the $104 million Norwalk-Westport I-95 improvement project. Crews will continue working from exits 16 to 17 and the Saugatuck River Bridge to improve drainage and safety. The completion of the project is planned for November 2024.

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Andrea Quiles is a fellow at WSHU.