Ground Hog Predicts More Than The Weather In Connecticut


Chuckles reports to Mayor Diana

Chuckles reports to Mayor Diana

Television, press and a mob of early morning raisers gather in Manchester this morning to hear the prognostication of future weather from Connecticut’s own official ground hog, Chuckles.  This annual tradition takes place at the Lutz Children’s Museum as the sun begins to rise.

Manchester Mayor Diana by virtue of his election is endowed with the ability to communicate with Chuckles and hence listens to Chuckles and makes the announcement.  The crowd went silent as the mayor leaned forward and listened intently to Chuckles.  Then the moment had arrived, ‘There will be six more weeks of winter,” but wait, the Mayor announced there was more to hear. The crowd hushed and the Mayor said, “Denver is looking good, in Super Bowl”

So there you have it straight from the Ground Hog, bundle up for six more weeks and go with Denver or was the Ground Hog only referring to the uniforms and demeanor?  We will have to wait to judge the accuracy but make no mistake Ground Hog Day is a fine tradition.



The official name of Chuckles is “Connecticut Chuckles VIII” she will be two years old on May 1st.  Chuckles is a full time resident at the Lutz Children’s Museum.  She was rescued when she was discovered injured and orphaned as a baby. Her doctor determined that she would not be able to survive in the wild, opening the door to a new career in meteorology.

Last year was her first prediction and she was right on target.  Now you can’t say that about all the other local weather predictors.

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Response To Closing Quill

Opining Quill Response

Opining Quill Response

In reviewing comments and remarks concerning the previous posting of the Opining Quill it would seem that some clarification may be helpful to some readers.  While comments and remarks on subject matter and content are appropriate and encouraged in response to posting of the Opining Quill remarks or comments concerning individuals or personal attacks are not appropriate.

The post was written to stimulate discussion on the priorities of public spending. Grant money awarded by the State and spent by a municipality or government agency deserves the same scrutiny as money spent by a local government.  Endorsing government waste or poor priorities in spending, by using grant money, is a good example of a lack of respect for the responsibility of due diligence given to elected officials when they take office.  In this case it we have a dichotomy of responsibility which is confusing to many people.

The Town Manager has the responsibility to inform the Town Council of the opportunities presented by available State grants.  The decision on priorities for spending of those tax dollars is made at the State level.  The dichotomy on the local level exists when the Town Council is presented with a spending plan that by design contradicts local priorities or their responsibility to taxpayers to perform due diligence, to assure that the spending is in the best interest of local taxpayers.

That being said a short term local benefit may not be a road to long term benefit to the community or society.  To illustrate this dichotomy on the local level we need only to look at the history of our Town Council and reaction to another State grant proposal.

The Town Council received the opportunity to accept a State grant for a sidewalk proposed to run from the post office to the high school.  In reviewing the proposal and doing due diligence the design of the project was determined to be flawed and wasteful; it did not meet standards for public safety as judged by the Town Council.  The grant was rejected; the project was redesigned, eliminating the dangers to public safety.  When the grant was rejected the Town Council received criticism for rejecting a State grant or as some critics called it, “free money”.  In retrospect the decision provided the opportunity to redesign the project, and provide a much improved sidewalk project which was still eligible for State grant money.  Today we have a tangible example of a better community improvement that would not exist if the due diligence and courage of the members of that Town Council had not been present to reject a State grant in favor of a higher priority, a better project and respect for taxpayer dollars.

Grant money from the State is limited in how it can be spent and often has restrictions or limited targets upon which it can be spent.  That does not mean, it has to be spent.  Just because the State is willing to spend the money does not relinquish the local municipality from doing their own due diligence to protect the taxpayers from wasteful spending.

In this case the Town Manager had the responsibility to present the opportunities to the Town Council, it is not his responsibility nor within his authority to act.  That is the role of a professional Town Manager and that is what was done.  It was the responsibility of the Town Council to evaluate the opportunity before it, to perform due diligence and to act in the best interest of the taxpayers.  It is their action and the dichotomy of their responsibility that should be the point of any discussion.

The leadership of the Town Council has changed since both of the decisions above have been made; it is time for the new leadership to look at the dichotomy of responsibility when offered grant opportunities.  The new leadership deserves a chance to earn the respect and endorsement of the voters, but they must be mindful of their responsibility to perform due diligence before authorizing any spending be it funding from local tax receipts or State grant money.

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Coventry Spending, Government Perk Or Necessary Priority

It is always nice to see enhancements to the infrastructure within our community.  Projects that enhance the overall quality of life, paid for by the taxpaying hardworking folks that toil and share their income for the benefit of all of us.

It is through their contributions we have quality schools, a superior police department and well maintained roads.  So you may wonder what priorities the Town Council had for spending in the past few months.  What is an example of an infrastructure improvement that will add to our quality of life paid for with public money?

Maybe the better question to ask would be do we really need the project, is it the best use of taxpayer dollars, and are there no other projects of a higher priority?  Remember it does not matter what the source of the money is, if it is paid with tax dollars, you paid for it.

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the growing privileges of being in the “government class”.  We have seen our leaders in Washington carve out special exemptions and privileges for themselves and their staffs.  Our Connecticut elected federal officials even have special reserved parking set aside for them at Bradley Airport.  Is that a special perk for the “government class”, we leave that for you to decide.

If Coventry established special parking and special services for our staff would that be our number one priority for public money spent for the good of our community or would that just be an example of special preferences for the “government class”?  We all have our priorities; we all have a family budget part of which is set aside for supporting our government with tax dollars.  We all depend on our elected leaders to spend our money wisely, but we will not all agree on what the priorities should be.

Below are pictures taken in the parking lot of the Coventry Town Hall.  What you see is the recently purchased auto and electric charging station for use by local government.  The automobile is registered to the Town of Coventry and assigned for use to the Town Manager, John Elsesser.

Therefore it is up to each of us to decide if this electrically powered car and charging station was the best and highest priority for our government on which to spend our taxes wisely.  How many charging stations are installed in local homes, is this a common item for Coventry residents?  Is this a special perk for the “government class” or a necessary expense for the benefit of our community as a whole?

Auto registered to the Town of Coventy

Auto registered to the Town of Coventry

Automobile charging at new Coventry charging station at Town Hall.

Automobile charging at new Coventry charging station at Town Hall.



Sunday Morning A Reflection

It’s Sunday morning, I didn’t sing in a choir, I didn’t pray from a pew and yet I did feel the presence of God in my life.  I was alone, silently walking.  The world around me was a creation of natural beauty.

There along the path and water’s edge young life struggled to survive.  Some will last the harsh winds of winter and see new life emerge in the warmth of the spring sunshine.  Winter storms will challenge the natural life cycles like the challenges in all our lives.  Some days will be filled with sunshine and warmth while others will be dark and gloomy.  That’s just the way life is.

The trees of barren leaves I see today will be renewed in spring; new leaves will spring forth like dreams of hope and change within our lives.  The promise of longer days filled with the warmth of sun higher in the sky will bring new colors to the world around us.  Like our prime of life those trees will be ready for any challenge, prepared for any encounter, ready to defy the winds of March and rains of April. 

New life will spring from barren ground and we will once again walk along the paths of life with the hope and promise of better days to come.  Others will walk along this path, some will see the beauty and some will be oblivious to the world around them.  For some it will be a cherished memory for others just another day, how sad for they know not what they miss.

Along the path we leave our footprints in the sand, it is evidence of our moment in time, others will not notice for soon our prints will fade away.  Soon our brief life upon this earth in the eons of time will also fade away.  How long your footprints last is largely up to you, as you walk through life savor the time, cherish the moment and leave the world better than you found it.

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Windmill Weekend 2013 Parade

Eastham MA, celebrates their history, culture and community the way typical small town America does, with contests, entertainment and a parade.  A classic All-American event the Windmill Weekend Parade, has all that you would expect, scouts, fire trucks, floats, bands, and let’s not forget the giveaways,  candy, balls, ice cream and American Flags.

This year the theme of the weekend was Fall For Eastham, and it was easy to fall in love with a town that has so much going on: a barbeque, sand sculpturing, arts and crafts, a talent show, a full slate of free entertainment on the town green, and the annual parade.

Here are some photos from the Windmill Weekend Parade 2013.

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Tax Breaks and Privileges For The Rich Compliments Of President Obama

It was bad enough when we had the cash for clunkers program and subsidized the purchase of new cars with taxpayer money.  Then we gave tax incentives for the rich and privileged to buy hybrid, and alternative fuel automobiles.

The special subsidize to benefit the wealthy on the backs of the common man working every day to make ends meet for his family is nothing new.  The rich and powerful have long enjoyed special privileges.  Just look at the perks afforded federal office holders, congress members exempt from laws they enact, special parking at airports, and over the top health and retirement benefits.

Now the Obama administration crossed the line of decency to provide the rich with another special privilege, preferential parking in National Parks.  The average working family is not driving alternative fuel vehicles or dishing out big dollars for hybrid automobiles.   No those are toys of the rich and privileged and President Obama wants to provide them with another perk, special reserved parking in National Parks and Seashores. 

Limited parking may turn away a working family from a day at the beach but special reserved parking will be available for the drivers in a privileged class.  It was detestable when taxpayers subsidized the purchase of such vehicles but adding another special privilege is abhorrent.

Cape Cod National Seashore Special Parking

Cape Cod National Seashore Special Parking

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Pony Ride Memory


ponyEvery once in a while you think back, sometime way back to when you were a small child and something brings a smile to your face.  Sometimes you remember the good and sometimes you remember something not so good.  This is a story that was memorable because of the excitement and reaction of those that witnessed childhood in action.

It was in the early 1950’s in Manchester, CT an evening like most any other, the kind of day you just relax, and maybe take your kids for a ride to do something a little special.  To children of the day Hopalong Cassidy and the Lone Ranger were real life heroes and riding a horse was a big deal for a five year old.

Mom came up with the idea it would be a treat to go the pony rides after dinner, something we had done before and I am sure our smiles warmed her heart.  With all the excitement of a little boy I got my cowboy hat and then reached in the drawer and grabbed a surprise of my own.

The pony rides were near the railroad tracks in Buckland where the Agway Store now stands.  We pulled in and mom took me by the hand to see the man in charge of the ponies.  He was a nice fellow, always talking to the kids and helping us up on the pony.  These were calm older ponies, just what you would expect for small kids to ride a few times around the ring. 

In a child’s mind you could be like a “real cowboy” out on the trail.  I knew of course real cowboys went fast and I wanted to do what they did.  That is where the idea to stuff a New Year’s Eve noise maker in my pocket came from.  Yup, I got on the pony and as soon as they let go of reins and gave the pony a gentle tap to get him going I pulled out my surprise.

I proudly raised my hand in the air and gave the noise maker a spin.  Suddenly I was off at a full gallop faster than any kid had ever been around that ring.  Smiling from ear to ear and enjoying the time of my life.  Of course the man in charge and my mother had instant visions of my life coming to an abrupt halt at any time. 

The pony got corralled and the man took me down a whole lot faster than normal I thought it was great, until my mother reach me.  “You could have got killed” she was screaming and I was beaming, but not for long.  I don’t remember her getting more upset than she was at that time.  She grabbed my noisemaker and flung it over the railroad tracks, a fete she probably could not duplicate without the adrenalin of the moment.

She continued to demonstrate the fear and anger of a mother all the way home.  We never stopped for an ice cream cone I was expecting.  My joy was gone at least on the surface but I never forgot that ride, it was a thrill to be sure.  Just as she promised we never went back to the pony rides.  I am not sure if it was a punishment or we were banned by the owner but it still provides a childhood memory with a smile.

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