First Selectman's Report - April 5, 2024

Granite Group

Budget Presentations

On Wednesday night, I presented the Town Budget request for FY24/25 to the Board of Finance along with superintendent Dan Sullivan who presented the Board of Education request for FY24/25.

Regarding the Town budget, my proposal focuses on restoring stability, ensuring sustainable operations for the future, and keeping Colchester affordable and competitive with surrounding similar towns. Since January, Colchester has been in a budget freeze in part because of costs that were not accurately accounted for in the current year's budget.

This included significant underrepresentation of the costs for police benefits, municipal insurance, worker’s compensation, and town-wide service contracts. The budget I have developed with our newly reorganized Finance Department accurately and transparently accounts for these known costs.

The budget also recommends restoring funding that was cut from areas like Youth & Social Services programming, Cragin Library books and media supplies, and Public Works. Public Works has seen the most significant cuts over the last several years with deep cuts made to road paving and other critical maintenance work our community relies on.

Many of these cuts were made over the last few years as the Town dealt with the economic fallout from the pandemic. Recovery from this cannot happen in a single year, but this budget would partially restore some of these funds. I believe it would put us back on the right track as a community.

The budget also follows through on the recommendations by the Board of Selectmen to implement the findings of the Field Sustainability Study regarding the Recreation Complex fields. Maintenance of these fields is a safety issue for people of all ages who utilize them.

The budget includes materials for regular re-seeding and other necessary maintenance of these fields, as well as three part-time seasonal maintainers.

The video of the Wednesday presentation can be viewed online here.

Other budget documents are also available

The next budget workshop is scheduled for April 15.

Norton Park Grants and Progress

Today, I signed resolutions by the Board of Selectmen authorizing the Town of Colchester to accept two grants from CT DEEP for $500,000 and $250,000 for the cleanup and redevelopment of Norton Park. I also signed a contract for our environmental consultants to complete the flood management certification which must be done in advance of beginning environmental remediation of the former Norton Paper Mill site.

This month, the Norton Park Committee is working on design elements for Phase I including holding a special workshop between their two regular monthly meetings. We are continuing to work with our consulting civil engineer on plans and specifications with the intent of beginning Phase I construction in summer/fall.

Norton Park

Memorial Day Parade Participation

On Sunday May 26th, Colchester will hold its annual Memorial Day Parade. The Parade is a community effort, and the local groups are encouraged to participate to make this event a success. Each contingent willing to march or bring a float is now able to obtain an application online or from the First Selectman's Office at the Town Hall. The parade committee expects to have several military units represented. They included the Army National Guard 1109th TASM-G, U S Navy, US Marine Reserve, US Coast Guard and the Air Force Reserve.

The theme of this year’s Parade will be Anzio and the Medal of Honor award presented to William Johnston who was awarded it as a result of his efforts in this historic battle. Many other of our local WWII veterans were part of this historic battle. There will also be a Grand Marshall and guest speaker who are yet to be nominated. Residents of Colchester can offer suggestions to the parade committee.

The Colchester Parade Committee will again award prizes for the best volunteer marching unit, best float meeting this year’s parade theme and most creative float.

Keep your calendars open for Sunday May 26ths Memorial Day Parade and consider entering a marching unit or float. This will be this year’s highlight in celebrating Colchester's Veterans community.

Free Baby Shower for Expectant Families

The Collaborative for Colchester's Children, C3, will be hosting a free Community Baby Shower for Colchester residents who are expecting, or have an infant up to three months old, on Saturday, April 20th at 1:00 - 3:00 pm at Cragin Memorial Library. The event will include free gifts, light refreshments, community resources and games. Families should register at

C3 Shower

Firefighter Ceremony

Last Thursday, a swearing in ceremony was held at Town Hall for recently promoted career officers and recently hired career firefighter/EMTs. This long-standing tradition provides for a commitment to the Department, the community and themselves as emergency responders for the Town of Colchester.

The ceremony began with an invocation by Chaplain Cheryl Caronna along with welcoming remarks from First Selectman Bernie Dennler, Fire Chief Steve Hoffmann and Deputy Chief Brad Bernier. Town Clerk Gayle Furman swore in each firefighter with an oath and then they were pinned by their selected individual. In attendance were colleagues, friends and family to support their career with Colchester Fire & EMS. Thanks to all who attended and helped put this ceremony together. (Not in attendance and to be sworn in at a later date - Captain Robert Dombroski, Lieutenant Chris Bellantone, Firefighter/EMT Connor Coppola and Firefighter/EMT Eoin Kavanagh)

In Attendance:

  • Lieutenant Seth DeAngelis
  • Lieutenant Kyle Mosig
  • Firefighter/EMT Ryan Burdick
  • Firefighter/EMT Alex Wearne
  • Firefighter/EMT Ray Wheeler
  • Firefighter/EMT Jon Weaver

Colchester Veteran's Coffee House Meetup

The town of Colchester invites all former military members (female members, too) to meet on Friday, April 19th, 10:15 am - 12:00 pm at Cragin Memorial Library. The meetups may include presentations about a variety of issues including veteran benefits, local programs and opportunities and health and well-being. Coffee and light snacks will be provided. For questions and/or suggestions, call Mary Emerling at (860) 537-2921.

Business Spotlight: The Granite Group

Granite Group Now Open

Congratulations to the team at Granite Group of Colchester on the opening of their new location at 120 South Main Street!

Granite Group sells plumbing, heating, cooling, water and propane supplies and has been operating in Colchester since 2007 when it purchased the Shetucket Supply Company. They are now relocating from their home at 464 South Main Street (beneath Toyo) to the former location of the old Jack's Chevrolet building.

Over the last year, the building - which stood vacant over the past decade - has been renovated and is now open for business!

Today, I toured the upgraded location with branch manager Patrick Sheehan and shared my congratulations and thanks with the team for staying part of the Colchester community as they expand.

Granit Group counter

For now, Granite Group's Sink and Spout showroom is still open at 464 South Main but is expected to join the supply store at 120 South Main later this year, following renovations that are ongoing. We wish the team great success at their new location!