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Naugatuck River Valley

Manny Cambra (seated) gets first place at the revived Fat Tuesday Paczki-Eating contest in Ansonia. Mayor David Cassetti (center, standing) held a socially-distanced version of the competition.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

Contestants sat at opposite ends of six-foot tables around the Ansonia Armory. In front of each person were two boxes of pączki -- Polish jelly doughnuts. A city staffer sprinkled confetti and made sure each contestant had a few bottles of water.

Connecticut Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is calling on Republican leadership not to seat Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on the House Committee on Education and Labor.  On Monday, two Democratic U.S. representatives from Florida, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Ted Deutch, joined the call. 

Before she took office in January, Greene questioned on social media whether the Sandy Hook mass shooting had taken place. The 2012 Newtown massacre left 20 children and six educators dead. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Students from Naugatuck High School, along with some of their parents and supporters, staged a demonstration in town Wednesday after racist social media posts from a fellow student were revealed.

Jackie Carroll wanted to bring a little Christmas cheer to the town of Prospect. So she went to a dollar store for supplies and decorated the stop sign at the end of her street. Then she posted a photo on the town’s Facebook group. 

Carroll’s idea took off. “Within like, a day, there was already like five to 10 poles up,” she said. “I was super surprised at how fast it caught on.” 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

George McCleary is a horticulturist and a vegetable farmer. Around this time of year, he’s also a Santa. He’s been putting on the red coat for about four decades. But he’s now 66 and borderline diabetic, so he wasn’t sure how he could safely do his Santa visits in the middle of the pandemic.

Hospital leaders say they are better prepared for this second wave of coronavirus cases but they disagree on in ways in which it will be easier than the first wave.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public Radio

Data show the average length of stay in Connecticut hospitals for COVID-19 patients is about half of what it was in the summer. The Connecticut Hospital Association says COVID patients spent an average of 15 days in the hospital in June. By October, that number had fallen to 7 1/2 days.

The day after the 2016 presidential election, David Nastri, like many, couldn’t believe his candidate had won. Then he ran into one of his friends. She was crying, in disbelief that so many Americans had chosen Donald Trump.

Courtesy: State of Connecticut

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says that absentee ballots are mailed 21 days prior to a primary election. For this year’s Aug. 11 primary, that date was Tuesday, July 21. Now some voters have taken to social media to ask where their ballots are and when they can expect them to arrive.

Christine and Steve Schwartz interview job candidates in a parking lot outside their business, Express Employment Professionals in Shelton. Christine Schwartz says with the extra $600 unemployment benefit running out, more people are looking for work.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

The weekly $600 in additional federal unemployment benefits -- a payment more than 20% of Connecticut’s workforce has been relying on -- disappeared as of July 25. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week announced a plan to replace it with a lower payment -- Republicans contend that the $600 per week discourages work.

David LaManna, co-founder of United American Patriots, spoke at the Naugatuck green Tuesday night about the need to support police. He said the Facebook group for the United American Patriots has gained 3,600 followers in two weeks.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

A group of fewer than 40 people gathered on the Naugatuck Town Green Tuesday night in a demonstration of support for police. The event was organized by Thomaston businessman David LaManna, who also arranged a rally in Torrington last Saturday that drew a larger crowd.

Renee McFarlin prepares her client, Jacob, for his dredlock retwist. McFarlin completes a thorough cleaning before each new client enters her Ansonia salon, Lisa's Beauty & Barber, and wears a mask throughout the appointment.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

Gov. Ned Lamont recently announced $1.5 million in loans available to women- and minority-owned small businesses in the Lower Naugatuck River Valley. The money comes from a public-private partnership created to address the needs of those more vulnerable businesses as they try to stay afloat in the COVID economy.

Volunteer Bernie Grant stands in the parking lot of the Naugatuck Senior Center where he meets the people he will be filing taxes for through the free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

The Naugatuck Senior Center closed on March 13 because of the pandemic -- and with it, VITA, or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Bernie Grant, who’s been the volunteer site coordinator in Naugatuck for 13 years, had hoped the senior center would open back up in short order.