In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel like the unwitting subject of a social experiment gone awry. Like, really awry. Within just a few weeks, my home has become a multitude of unfathomable things: a bunker, a school, an international banking operations hub, an around-the-clock restaurant (unworthy of any favorable Yelp reviews), a fitness center for shut-ins, a dust bunny sanctuary, and a gaming hotspot. It’s a wonderland of confusion and chaos.
But at least we have each other, right kids? Hello?
The Town Council during an emotionally charged meeting Thursday voted 8-4 in favor of a spending plan for next fiscal year that effectively forestalls long-discussed changes to New Canaan Public Schools start times. The legislative body’s bipartisan vote in favor of an overall budget of $152.2 million represents an increase of just .19% over projected spending for the current fiscal year. Though the budget also includes a 2.5% year-over-year increase to district spending (exclusive of healthcare savings), it’s still about $1 million less than what the Board of Education had requested of the town funding bodies. The shortfall means the Board of Ed can’t pay for additional school buses and attendant staff needed to implement a proposed new start times schedule—a consequence that district leaders and some councilmen understood following discussions held in recent days, according to Town Council Chair John Engel. In voting in favor of the budget, Engel and others said they’re convinced that New Canaan adolescents should start school later, but added that the wide economic uncertainty due to COVID-19 means now is the wrong time to introduce significant new transportation costs.
For today’s Q&A with a local business seeking to navigate the COVID-19 emergency, we hear from Steve Mochel, owner of Fresh Green Light driving school on Cherry Street. The business marked one year this week. Here’s our exchange.
New Canaanite: Steve you were in an uncertain situation with respect to whether or how you’d be able to operate. Give us an update on your situation.
Steve Mochel: As a business that primarily deals with high school students, we were deeply affected by the state’s order to shut down schools to April 20, because that essentially shut down our business. And not only the classroom lessons but the in-car diving lessons, which we really deemed was too unsafe to do with the close proximity of the students and instructors.
Emergency Management Director Mike Handler said Thursday in a town-wide call that New Canaan now has 63 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 and that seven residents have succumbed to the virus. In a press release, Waveny LifeCare Network officials noted that despite taking several preventative steps, 10 individuals associated with the organization have tested positive for COVID-19. “These include three healthcare staff members and seven patients/residents,” the press release said. “Three of those patients/residents have passed, and four are currently under care at local hospitals. We remain in contact with medical professionals and families and we hope that those hospitalized will recover and return home to Waveny soon. The three healthcare staff members are recuperating at home.”
Due to the emergency, this year’s “Clean Your Mile” initiative, planned for later this month, has been canceled, Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Director Kathleen Holland announced. ***
New Canaan Police at 10:36 p.m. on March 28 cited a 23-year-old Main Street man on marijuana-related offenses after investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle at Woodland Place and Elm Place. ***
Karl Chevy is now offering 20% off labor for service work on all makes and models.
This week on 0684-Radi0, our free weekly podcast (subscribe here in the iTunes Store), we talk to New Canaan CARES Executive Director Ellen Brezovsky about what local youth and families are facing during this COVID-19 emergency and strategies for getting through it. Here are recent episodes of 0684-Radi0: