First Selectman's Report - January 26, 2024

SC Aerial Progress January 2024

Fire Truck 128 Enters Service

Yesterday, our custom built 2023 Truck 128 was officially placed into service at Fire Headquarters. Truck 128 is a Pierce Arrow XT 100-foot mid mount Ascendent Tower Ladder with a 2,000 GPM Waterous pump and 300 gallons of water weighing in at 76,000 pounds. Over the last four days, personnel have been busy training with representatives from both Pierce Manufacturing and Firematic Supply who put on classes in house for our current aerial operators. Topics covered included set up, aerial use, maintenance, pump operations, and the incredible capabilities of this new piece of equipment before placing it into service.

On Thursday morning, our 1997 Simn Duplex/LTI 75 foot rear mount aerial, Ladder 1-28 was officially retired after 27 years in service. The Board of Selectmen authorized the sale of Ladder 128 to North Stonington and will head to her new home as soon as this weekend.

Truck 128 at Town Hall - January 2024

Senior Center Progress

Below is an aerial image of the new Senior Center building site at 15 Louis Lane. If you have passed by the site recently, you’ve likely noticed that construction continues to gain momentum. The building’s framing is complete, roof trusses are being installed, and plywood sheathing is being installed to enclose the building walls and roof, so that construction may continue throughout the winter months. Construction of the roof structure and exterior walls will continue through the end of the month. The Senior Center Building Committee reports an anticipated completion date of late summer 2024.

New Senior Center Progress January 2024

Budget Process Begins 

On Wednesday, The Board of Finance set its budget calendar for development and presentation of the fiscal year 24/25 budget. The board plans to hold several budget forums to solicit citizen input before the Board of Education and Board of Selectmen finalize their budget requests which will be presented at a public hearing on April 3.

As First Selectman, I have begun working with department heads on developing the Town operational budget request for FY24/25. As we continue the reorganization of the Finance Department, I am also working with department heads to identify fixed costs that were not budgeted in the current fiscal year so that these can be accurately budgeted for next year. Rather than focusing on major new initiatives, I have asked all department heads to focus on three core themes as we develop our budget request: stability of operations, sustainability of the budget, and affordability for taxpayers.

2024 Initial Budget Process Schedule

K9 Magnum joins Colchester PD

Colchester Police Welcomes K9 Magnum

K9 Magnum and his partner Corporal Green recently graduated from the Connecticut State Police K9 Training Unit 244th K-9 Training Troop. K9 Magnum, a 5-year-old Labrador Retriever, is specialized in Narcotic Detection.

K9 Magnum is trained to detect and alert his handler to the presence of illicit narcotics and will begin assisting law enforcement in keeping our communities safe.

K9 Magnum is trained to detect and alert to a number of narcotics to include: cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and MDMA.

The graduating Narcotic Detection K9 Teams are capable of searching for and locating dangerous, illicit narcotics within buildings, motor vehicles, luggage, parcels, open areas, etc.

Please welcome K9 Magnum and his partner Cpl. Green!


January 2024 Horse Rescue

Horse Rescue

This week, Colchester Fire & EMS was dispatched to an uncommon type of an incident on Prospect Hill Road; a horse rescue. The horse had slipped on ice and was down for close to 2 hours. Rescue 1-28 & Engine Tank 2-28 responded along with all three Chiefs. We had 18 personnel on scene who successfully uplifted the 36-year-old horse to its feet so it could walk away uninjured into its stall.

Fortunately, some members recently took a large animal rescue course and were able to work together to brainstorm ideas to get the horse onto its feet.

I want to extend a huge thank you to Paradise Agency LLC for letting us use their backhoe loader machine to assist in this rescue and to the entire Colchester Fire & EMS team for their quick thinking and careful response to this unique case.

Taxes Due

Taxes and Water Payments Due

Reminder, the last day to pay without interest for real estate second installments, motor vehicle supplemental bills, and sewer/water bills is next week - Thursday, February 1st. Sewer/water bills are once again being accepted on the first floor of Town Hall in the Public Works office.

Seniors with Special Needs

The Department of Senior Services is in the process of compiling a list of people in the community of all ages who may have special needs, of which you'd like us to be aware. This list helps our Public Safety System (Police/Fire/EMS) be aware of those who might require special care in the case of an emergency, such as a prolonged power outage or mass evacuation.

Some examples of special needs include:

  • Those who are considered to be homebound
  • Those who are receiving Meals on Wheels deliveries
  • Those who use a wheelchair or those with mobility challenges who require assistance to leave their homes
  • Those who are on dialysis
  • Those who are immuno-compromised
  • Those who need oxygen support (24-hour oxygen)
  • other needs of which you would like us to be aware  

If you would like to be included in our updated directory, please contact Patty Watts, Director of Senior Services at or 860-537-3911.

CORE Book Club

Colchester’s Openness to Respecting Equity (CORE) Commission and the Colchester Senior Center are partnering to host a Community Book Club for the month of February in honor of Black History Month. The book selected is called “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.”

Copies are available at Cragin Memorial Library or can be purchased through Amazon. We believe this is an opportunity for all of us to learn, grow individually and collectively, and widen our perspectives. There will be 3 dates in February to discuss the book, plus have daily trivia questions that align with the 2024 Black History Month theme, African Americans and the Arts.  Starting February 1, we will post a calendar of events to keep you updated.

We hope you will consider joining us!

Cragin Memorial Library 2nd Annual Mini Art Show!

Beginning Monday, January 29 pick up a mini canvas and easel! Take it home and use whatever art supplies you want to make something beautiful.

All ages are encouraged to participate. Return your canvas and easel to the library with the name of the artist and the piece by Friday, February 23 to be included in the art show opening on Thursday, February 29 at 6:00 pm.

Last year’s show was a big hit—so join your neighbors to make a little beautiful something!

Sponsored by Friends of Cragin Memorial Library

Summer Camp 2024

Summer Camp 2024 Registration

Early bird registration for Summer Camp programs with Colchester Parks and Recreations begins February 19th. We are also continuing to accept applications for summer staff positions.


Business Spotlight: Jazzercise Fitness Studio - Colchester

On Wednesday, I met with DiAnne Cook, owner of Jazzercise of Colchester located at 188 Norwich Ave.

Jazzercise is an inclusive woman-owned fitness company dedicated to helping people from all backgrounds live healthier, happier lives. DiAnne showed us some of the music and routines that are part of the Jazzercise workouts which fuse dance cardio and strength training. If your New Years’ Resolution involves a healthier 2024, Jazzercise of Colchester will offer a free week for anyone who wants to give it a try. They are also running a January promotion for two months of membership for $99+ sales tax.

More info on Jazzercise of Colchester can be found at

Thank you to Elvira Uccello for recommending this week’s business spotlight! If you’d like to nominate a business in town, please email with the subject line “Business Spotlight”.

Bernie Dennler
First Selectman
Town of Colchester