‘The Change in Our Community’: Facing Criticism of Sewer Fee Proposal, Finance Board Postpones Vote

Russ Barksdale, president and CEO of Waveny LifeCare Network, received notification this week about $8,5000 in annual sewer usage fees that the nonprofit organization would be expected to pay for the fiscal year starting July 1. A proposal from Town Hall that’s designed to more fairly distribute sewer-related costs among residential and commercial property owners, the fee ultimately would see both for-profit and nonprofit businesses—including churches, charitable organizations and municipal buildings—taxed for water usage for the first time. 

Barksdale in addressing the Board of Finance on Tuesday night during a public hearing on the proposal said he found that his organization, which includes both the Waveny Care Center on Farm Road and The Inn on Oenoke Ridge, would be “hit more than any other nonprofit in our area, sizably more than any other nonprofit.”

“I went to then think of the pebble effect, the pebble effect that it would have for that usage fee to be placed on us as a nonprofit, to be placed upon the other churches and other nonprofits that enrich the culture of this great community that we have in New Canaan,” Barksdale said during the well-attended hearing, held at Town Hall. 

Noting that Waveny has provided some $10 million in charity care in the past two years in ways that saves government spending, Barksdale added, “We have a very fragile, very large group of seniors that come to us who cannot afford or find themselves at the end of being able to afford the highest level of care that we provide. And so I applaud our charity care to provide that. Who do we bill that usage fee to?”

Medicare and Medicaid are not options, he said, and there’s “really no place to pass that fee on to others to be able to incorporate, so we have to as a nonprofit be able to absorb that expense.”

“We would just ask that, similarly to the $15 minimum wage, that you give us an opportunity and all the nonprofits that are here the opportunity to build it within our budget. Right?

‘A Little Better Than Yesterday’: Hundreds Attend Interfaith MLK Service in New Canaan

A native of Memphis, the city where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, George Walker Jr. has felt a lifelong connection to the civil rights leader. 

An ordained minister himself, Walker attended King’s alma mater, Morehouse College in Atlanta, pledging the same fraternity, then launched a career that’s included positions on the U.S. president’s Board of Advisors for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a member of the American Leadership Council for Diversity in Healthcare and as vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. This past weekend, Walker recalled Monday while addressing a packed United Methodist Church as the guest speaker during New Canaan’s annual celebration of King’s life, a King quote that he had “decided to stick with love” because “hate is too great a burden to bear” came to Walker’s mind. Following a workout and lunch in Manhattan, Walker said, he and his husband were riding a subway back uptown when he spotted an “older black woman who caught my eye.”

“She had several ‘I love Jesus’ buttons and a placard I couldn’t read,” during the  17th Annual Interfaith Service of Worship, which drew more than 250 people on a freezing cold Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

“When the opportunity came about, my spouse gestured for her to take a seat. I was standing. Her protest signs were signs about a Jesus that I do not recognize.

Letter: Rich Townsend for Town Council

To the Editor,

I encourage you to support Rich Townsend in his run for Town Council. Rich is a man of great integrity; he is honest, hardworking and deeply committed to maintaining a high quality of life for the citizens of New Canaan. As his Pastor, I have witnessed Rich’s care for and commitment to our local community through various missions and charitable organizations over the years. Rich is a core volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fairfield County and co-coordinator of our church’s monthly Habitat workday. As a devoted and active member of the United Methodist Church of New Canaan, Rich and his wife, Cathy, are always willing to serve and lead our congregation as needed.