What’s the news in West Hartford?

As a longtime resident who has read the papers avidly for years, I always felt that I had only a slim idea what really goes on in this town. That’s one big reason I started this blog, to help fill the gaps in my own knowledge (and, hopefully, to do the same for others).

After almost a year, I’m still irritated at how little real news about West Hartford is published — maybe even more mad, really, since I have a better understanding of what isn’t written about — but this blog has given me much more insight into my town than I ever dreamed possible. I can’t begin to express my appreciation to such people as Kevin Sullivan, Judy Aron, Chuck Coursey, Rick Liftig and many, many others who are sharing their knowledge and opinions so freely. There’s a conversation happening here that ought to be going on as well in the pages of the Courant and the West Hartford News, but isn’t.

Anyway, I want all of you to know that I’m willing to post pieces on this blog that are mostly just news. If you know about things going on in town that are not being reported, drop me an email at whblogger@gmail.com and tell me about it. I can’t launch a big investigation, or even a little one, but I can pass on news that’s not libelous or mean-spirited to whatever readers there are here.

Let’s see if we can’t do even more to fill the gap left by professional reporters who are too busy and distracted to notice much of what’s going on.



Filed under Hartford Courant, News, West Hartford, West Hartford News

27 responses to “What’s the news in West Hartford?

  1. Bless your heart Whdad.
    The heart of democracy is to have healthy and civil debate and exchange of ideas. It’s nice to have a forum here, and even though there are a few people here who as a rule disagree with me, and think I am an evil “anti-public education” homeschooling zealot (LOL), I enjoy reading and contributing.

    I also get tired of the vanilla reporting of what’s going on in West Hartford. Too much of our “news” is sanitized and abbreviated to the point that it doesn’t say anything (I call it the McNews).

    Hey, does anyone know what is slated to happen to Bishops Corner parking garage, et al (and when) ? I have heard they are going to demolish that eyesore and put something else there, eventually.. and that would be good news. (Yes, in fact I do support development in town, and despite the “Stamford-esque” Blue Back project I hope it delivers as promised for all of our sakes … and I fully expect some sort of biting comment from Turtle ripping me apart on that sentiment) LOL.

  2. turtle

    Thank you, whdad. You’re doing us all a great service.

  3. Mike

    This blog is great, and will eventually get better as more and more residents get on. The town has no shortage of smart, involved, opinionated people. This gives them a chance to debate, to vent, to criticize, or even laud. The tone has been high (for the most part) and hopefully stays there. Thanks WHDad.

  4. Joe Visconti

    Ditto to the tenth power

  5. Fred Garvin

    “I also get tired of the vanilla reporting of what’s going on in West Hartford. Too much of our “news” is sanitized and abbreviated to the point that it doesn’t say anything (I call it the McNews).”

    Judy, would you please explain what you meant in the above comment? Could you please provide specifics? I don’t know what you’re talking about.


  6. turtle

    Now Judy, just because you’re an evil anti-public education homeschooling zealot doesn’t mean I’m going to be all over your case on Blue Back Square. Like you I thought BBS was maybe too dense although I voted in favor and am psyched watching it go up. I wonder if you have ever actually seen Stamford. It looks nothing like BBS.

  7. Fred – the comment should be self explanatory.. the news has no depth and journalists usually are too lazy to research the details.

    Turtle – I have seen Stamford
    I call BBS “Stamford-esque”, meaning it is too dense.. and it is.
    Personally I hope the project succeeds and delivers what it promised (for all of our sakes) now that we have, as Mayor Slifka put it, “scrambled the egg”.

  8. Rick Liftig

    Let’s get back on topic here.

    I have thought about this for a long time too. The first step would be easy. Create a website that is a ‘news aggregator’. Much of the news is available already, but is ephemeral.

    For example:

    – West Hartford’s listserv – the messages remain topical, but last temporarily in your e-mail box.
    – PTO Bulletins – they may be sent out via e-mail, but there is no way to access past issues, etc.
    – E-mail news from, Children’s Museum, Westmoor Park, Wolcott Children’s Forest, Noah Webster House, etc.
    – E-mail newsletters – Elmwood Gazette, Bishop’s Corner Neighborhood Group, Elmwood Business Assn, Park Road Assn. etc.
    – Community Groups – WHTA, LOWV, etc.

    These could be stored on a server or merely be linked from the site.

    You could have a section for user posts (in addition to the blog) ie. Flagg Road resident reports UFO siting over Beth El temple

    And you could still have a discussion blog.

    Now all we need is an administrator/webmeister without a 9-5 job and lots of ambition!

  9. Joe Visconti


    There could also be a place to vote and poll Bloggers and residents on issue’s, like AOL does.

  10. Rick Liftig

    The town website has a hint of how many organizations there are. Just think about the synergy if all of these groups uploaded bulletins and news to a central spot!

    And I want to see a (comprehensive) town-wide calendar!

  11. Joe Visconti

    There could be a Rant & Malcontent Popsting section, kinda like a Special Development district in Zoning law.

  12. Joe Visconti

    That’s Posting, fingers work with me already.

  13. Rick Liftig

    Joe –

    Yah – I’ll agree with you on that – there sure is a lot of ranting in West Hartford. The rant section probably deserves a website of its own!

  14. turtle

    It’s just terrible the way some people rant and rave and carry on!

  15. Fred Garvin

    Hi Judy:

    Your comment is not self-explanatory, hence my question.

    Could you please provide some concrete examples?

    What specifically do you mean?

    That you say it does not make it so. I would like examples of what you base your view on.

    I’d like to understand where you coming from. At this point, I don’t.

    Thank you again.

  16. Osemasterofdoom

    Many thanks to whdad for hosting this site. It’s a tremendous weight to put your name on something like this and remain committed to keeping it running. We are all in your debt.

    As for the media coverage in town, I am afraid it is only a local manifestation of a national trend. The Journal-Register Co. which purchased Imprint News has a well-earned reputation of slashing reporting staff to maximize profit. Basically they hire reporters straight out of journaism school, pay them nothing, then start the cycle all over again when they quit or move on to a better job. Sadly, I see no chance of this changing until a well-financed person interested in a strong focus on local reporting starts up his or her own newspaper. Sad but true.

    On the subject of raising issues, I’d like to know more about the intentions behind the cameras that have been installed at the intersection of Trout Brook and Farmington. In conversations with town officials, I’ve been told that the equipment on the lightposts is only there to count traffic going through the intersection. However, I am skeptical that the town would go through the expense of setting this up (everything at the intersection appears brand new) unless there was some potential for future revenue there. Did someone say traffic cameras and more money for town coffers from increased traffic tickets?

  17. Mike

    As yet, state law does not allow towns to ticket for violations that they catch on cameras. WH has been aggressive in trying to get this law to change, as another source of revenue. After the Avon Mtn crash, they are now trying to extend the use of cameras to catch speeders. There is a bill pending in Hartford to allow WH and Avon to start a trial program on route 44 to do so, but Avon has (i believe sensibly) stopped short of doing so. But WH has a deal with a contractor to supply cameras and monitoring – and they will reap the profit once the state allows the ticketing to commence.

  18. Rick Liftig

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with giving photo tickets to those vehicles that run a red light.

    It’s one right to privacy, which I don’t think is warranted.

    BTW – at Border’s there is a coffee mug with the Bill of Rights imprinted on it. Pour in hot water and they disappear! It’s right next to the mug with Henry the VIII’s wives – you know what to do.


  19. You are – according to law, supposed to be able to face your accuser.. a camera is not a person.

  20. Rick Liftig

    I always liked Gerry Spence’s version of when the law should be applied: “The law begins where my fist ends.”

    In other words, if I am about to, or intend to harm you, the law should protect you from me.

    People running red lights kill other people – If a camera will stop or inhibit that practice, I’m all for it.

    Driving is a privilege, not a right.

  21. Fred Garvin

    I’ll try gain. Maybe Judy missed my question. Or maybe she’s ignoring it.

    So here goes:

    Hi Judy:

    Your comment is not self-explanatory, hence my question.

    Could you please provide some concrete examples?

    What specifically do you mean?

    That you say it does not make it so. I would like examples of what you base your view on.

    I’d like to understand where you coming from. At this point, I don’t.

    Thank you again.

  22. Judy Aron

    Fred – If you don’t understand what I wrote then I really don’t know how to explain it better.
    The news lacks depth – they do not go into details much – they don’t report on lots of things – what more do you need me to say ?
    As for concrete examples.. read the Courant.
    Most of the time people are misquoted, important information is omitted, they rehash the same information, etc. Stories are made to be quick soundbites – 500 words or less – no depth. It’s the McNews for people who have an attention span of a housefly. And they wonder why people don’t buy the papers anymore. Most of what is written is an insult to our intelligence.
    Did you see a story about how many homes have sold for GDC in Elmwood? Have you seen a story about how many stores in total have left West Hartford Center in the past year and a half and why? Have you seen a story about how any of our State Representatives have voted on issues at the State Capitol? Have you seen a story about our seniors leaving West Hartford at a faster rate than in surrounding towns? Have you seen a story about real people having to sell their homes in West Hartford because they can’t afford to live in town anymore? Have you seen a story about how many of the kids in our schools are having a tough time getting into their first choice schools? Have you seen a story about 5 year plan for West Hartford and who is planning to develop what? Well I haven’t seen those stories.
    There are so many stories of great relevance, with information people ought to know.. but they stick to the same old same old.
    Still don’t get it Fred?

  23. Fred Garvin

    I have my problem with the Courant’s coverage of town. I guess I’m looking at it from another perspective though.

    You just listed stories you’d like to be done, which doesn’t really back the point you tried to make.

    You said news is sanitized. I don’t know what that means and you have not explained it. The term suggests someone is trying to alter reality. That seems a bit far-fetched to me.

    As for depth, I will agree. I too would like to see something about the changes you mentioned in Bishop’s Corner. Other towns seem to get the kind of coverage your seem to desire.

    Someone I work with brings in an eastern edition of the Courant every once in a while and the coverage out there strikes me as more meaty. And the coverage in West Hartford was certainly more meaty in the past.

    Maybe we can get one of those reporters from across the river shifted to West Hartford.

  24. Fred.. sanitized news is filtered and uses euphemisms, and usually the information is “cherry-picked” to make the story say what the writer wants it to say. It’s shortened to meet a word limit and leaves out the important details. Is that far-fetched to you? Seems not, because you seem to be complaining about the same things I am. I happen to agree with your points on lack of depth of reporting.
    I have begged Journal Inquirer to come East of the River – they said they couldn’t because the Courant has the advertising sewn up in this area. Too bad..

  25. Fred Garvin

    Well, I do see the JI quite a bit. That won’t solve your problem. Coverage is very spotty.

  26. Tough Guy

    The best martial arts school around is Hwangs.

    Gracie Jujitsu is too tough, and Villari’s is an overpriced belt factory.

  27. Ruby

    I just found out there are camera’s in the speed booths in front of St Joe’s campus. I’d like to point out, that those camera’s are just doing the jobs for the police. So what is the town really saving? The camera in place is taking the pic of the people who are speeding, but guess what? Is that really going to stop them from speeding forever? NO. It’s just going to make them tap their brakes. I’ve been watching this street for two weeks and to be really blunt–either put new laws in place to make people become better drivers or tell the WHPD to get their butts to that street and hand out tickets. That’s the ONLY way people actually learn when they are face to face with a cop–because all I see now is a symphony of red brake lights going off on that street.

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