Connecticut companies hiring and laying off

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The Connecticut Department of Labor (CT DOL) – Office of Research just released their monthly Business and Employment Changes Announced in the Media report on Monday, August 31, 2015. Once again, the State can’t seem to gain enough new jobs to significantly offset the amount of jobs lost each month in order for the State of Connecticut to be in an employment expansionary phase.

The good news… Two grocery stores plan on hiring this year. ALDI plans on hiring 80 employees across the State and The Fresh Market plans on hiring 90 employees for their new Guilford location in September. Chick-fil-A also announced plans to hire 80 to 100 employees for their new North Haven location next summer.

As for longer term hiring plans, Polamer Precision, an aerospace manufacturer, announced plans to hire 200 employees for their New Britain location over the next four years. Axel Plastics plans to hire 40 to 80 employees for their Monroe location next year.

The bad news… The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, A&P supermarkets, filed for bankruptcy and they will lay off 444 employees statewide next year. RBS Securities will lay off 50 employees at their Stamford location this October. The University of Connecticut will also lay off a total of 50 employees this fall at their health center in Farmington and at the university in Mansfield.

AxisPoint Health will close its facility and they will lay off 45 employees at their Wallingford location. Borgeson Universal Steering Components is relocating to South Carolina and they will lay off 43 employees at their Torrington location. Also, Higher One will lay off 29 employees at their New Haven location between September and March.

This original article by Alicia Sakal appears on Examiner: Connecticut companies hiring and laying off

Photo by Mike Mozart, Flickr.com

Sherman School Principal Mike Pascento Resigns

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Sherman, Conn. (Citizen News) – On Friday, Sherman School Principal Dr. Michael Pascento officially notified Superintendent Don Fiftal that he accepted a new position as Dean of Students at Litchfield High School. Dr. Pascento commented “I am excited for the opportunity my new role will provide me. My years in Sherman have allowed me to grow professionally and learn from some of the best educators one could ever hope for. The nature of the entire school and community has been so supportive over the years, and I believe a nearly identical environment exists where I am heading.”

Dr. Pascento added “I would really like to thank all of the faculty and staff in Sherman who have taught me so many things, and I would also like to extend my gratitude to the entire community for always being supportive of the school and the educational process. After almost 20 years in one school there have been so many great moments, and I will look back on my time as an extremely positive one.”

In response to Dr. Pascento’s resignation, Mr. Fiftal said “we are happy for him and wish him well. This is a loss for the Sherman School; however, we have found a strong interim team to fill his shoes.” In light of the new academic school year beginning today, Mr. Fiftal shared how quickly the School had to move in order to come up with an interim succession plan.

The Interim Principal is now Mr. Andrew Schoefer, who was both a halftime Administrative Dean and a halftime Math Teacher at the Sherman School. Mr. Schoefer stated “it is with great pride that I take on the responsibility of Interim Principal of the Sherman School. My brand of leadership is a little different than our previous principal, however, Mike and I do share many of the same philosophies. I am asking that all of you be patient as we continue working out the details of this transition. I’m confident that we’re going to do what we always do here in Sherman, and that’s teach our hearts out and love-up those children the moment they walk through our doors. I am truly honored to take this step and look forward to working with parents and the community to continue to make our school the greatest place it can be.”

Filling in for Mr. Schoefer in the interim will be two seasoned professionals who were appointed to interim positions. Retired Sherman School Principal and Teacher Mr. Dan Murphy has accepted a four day per week assignment. He has recently specialized in taking on interim roles at area schools in post-retirement. Former Sherman School Teacher Mr. Adam Carley, who has an administrative degree and owns and operates an afterschool program in the area, has accepted to serve in a one day per week interim position.

When asked what the next steps are and how soon the Administration will hire a new principal, Mr. Fiftal said “the BoE will need to first determine how to proceed with the administrative design for the future.” BoE Chairman Rowland Hanley stated “the Board of Education is happy to see this next step in Dr. Pascento’s career play out. We were unanimous in accepting his decision and unanimous in supporting our Superintendent’s interim plan. As sad as we are to see Michael go, we are looking at this juncture as an opportunity to further improve the quality of instruction at the School.”

Mr. Hanley then said how the Board is dedicated to making the Sherman School the best Pre-K through Grade 8 school in the country and how the interim team “will provide us with the immediate strong platform to continue supporting our goals. We are looking forward to establishing a search and evaluation committee to work with our Superintendent in approving a long-term administrative model with the absolute most talented individuals serving in all critical roles. Dr. Pascento has contributed an enormous amount of his personal time, commitment, and passion to our District, and we are very thankful. We wish him well.”

Regarding interim job function details of who will be teaching math and who will be the acting administrative dean while Mr. Schoefer is the interim principal, this is to be determined and will be a discussion point at the next monthly BoE meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, September 2nd at 7 p.m. in the Sherman School’s Library Media Center.

Written by Alicia Sakal, Citizen News Journalist, August 26th Edition. Contributed Photo.

What jobs are hot and what jobs are not in Connecticut

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For jobseekers who are actively looking for employment in the State of Connecticut, the labor market can still be very challenging when trying to find gainful employment. According to the recent Labor Situation – State of Connecticut report released by the Connecticut Department of Labor – Office of Research, the State still needs to add an additional 17,000 non-farm jobs to the Connecticut economy to be in a post-recession “employment expansionary phase” which would put the State at a 1,713,000 job level.

One resource that can help jobseekers to accelerate their job search is by using the Connecticut Department of Labor’s What’s Hot! What’s Not! – State of Connecticut Occupations in Demand tool. This gives jobseekers valuable insight about what jobs are trending now, what jobs are on the decline, and how the future looks by occupation in Connecticut.

The top ten occupations that are “hot” across all job functions are Insulation Workers, Mechanical, Interpreters and Translators, Genetic Counselors, Helpers–Electricians, Home Health Aides, Septic Tank Servicers and Sewer Pipe Cleaners, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Personal Care Aides, Physical Therapist Assistants, and Pipelayers. The average annual salary range for these positions is from $26,251 to $81,665.

Regarding the first ten occupations listed that are in decline and are “not so hot” across all job functions are Print Binding and Finishing Workers; Travel Agents, Prepress Technician and Workers; Data Entry Keyers; Postal Service Clerks; Printing Press Operators; Word Processors and Typists; Molding, Coremaking, and Casting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic; Postal Service Mail Sorters, Processors, and Processing Machine Operators; and Drilling and Boring Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic. The average annual salary range for these positions is from $30,046 to $53,582.

By using this Occupations in Demand tool, jobseekers can also quickly see insightful occupation profile information that includes job descriptions, qualifications, salary information by region, and links to a jobs database that lists companies who are hiring and have posted jobs right now.

As for what occupations are the highest paying, with the most open positions, and have the largest employers, this information, too, is available.

This original article appears on Examiner: What jobs are hot and what jobs are not in Connecticut

Article by Alicia Sakal

Photo by Alan Cleaver, Flickr.com

Connecticut continues to gain and lose jobs at about the same rate

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On Wednesday, July 29, 2015, the Connecticut Department of Labor (CT DOL) – Office of Research released their monthly Business and Employment Changes Announced in the Media report. This latest update is not a strong indicator that the Connecticut economy is improving significantly because there aren’t enough new jobs to make up for the amount of jobs the State continues to lose due to companies leaving the State or closing their doors for good.

The job losses formally announced in July total 827 across the State of Connecticut. The biggest disappointment… Hallmark is closing its distribution center in Enfield and 570 workers will lose their jobs. KLX, an aerospace company in Stratford, is closing its facility and 32 workers will lose their jobs. Bentara, a restaurant in New Haven, also closed its doors this month and 12 employees lost their jobs.

As for companies in the healthcare industry, Quest Diagnostics is laying off 80 employees in their Wallingford location and Eastern Connecticut Health Network is laying off 38 employees in their Manchester and Vernon locations this summer. Due to a budget shortfall, the Connecticut Department of Labor itself may be cutting 95 jobs across the state this fall.

As for the job gains formally announced in July, the average will be around 835 new hires across the State of Connecticut. Three companies with big expansion plans… Boscov’s Department Stores plans to hire 350 employees for its new store in Meriden; Synchrony Financial plans to hire 200 to 400 employees in Stamford; and Remedy Partners plans to hire 150 employees in Darien. Core Informatics of Branford also plans to expand and hire 35 more employees.

This original article appears on Examiner: Connecticut continues to gain and lose jobs at about the same rate

Article by Alicia Sakal

Photo by Nayu Kim, flickr.com

Would you commute 144 miles a day to New York City for a job?

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According to the United States Census Bureau’s last American Community Survey update, 6.3 percent of the Connecticut workforce commutes out of state. In the State of Connecticut, it is common knowledge that the majority of out-of-state workers living in Fairfield County, aka “New York’s Backyard”, commute into Manhattan.

Especially because the cost of living is expensive in the New York City metropolitan area, there is a continued trend for many professionals and their families to move farther and farther away from this concentrated area in search of a better quality of life. This often means a much longer commute if they want to keep their New York City jobs.

One remote New England town with a large concentration of New York City commuters that’s just outside the high cost of living areas of Southern Fairfield County, Connecticut and Westchester County, New York is Sherman, Connecticut. This quaint resort town with 3,581 residents is the last town in Northern Fairfield County that borders New York.

Here’s how three extreme New York City commuters from Sherman, Connecticut get to work and what their daily commutes are like, which is a 144+ mile roundtrip commute…

Read the full article here: Would you commute 144 miles a day to New York City for a job?

Article and Photo by Alicia Sakal

‘Kitchens By Edward’ Brings the Showroom to Your Home!

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There Are Design Trends and a Top-Notch Customer Service Trend That Are Here to Stay.

Especially in today’s busy world, wouldn’t it be incredible “if” you could save time and have a showroom brought to you, within the convenience of your own home, for your next custom kitchen or bathroom renovation project?

What if you could “have it all” and hire an affordable, local master craftsman and architectural designer who happens to have trained with some of the best tradesmen and architects in the industry, stopped counting after the completion of his 1,000th renovation project, and was also featured in Architectural Digest, Homes Magazine, and Houzz…

Now imagine if this expert with over 30 years of experience was also your personal shopper who could offer his great visual eye and would help you to select all of your renovation project’s building materials such as tile, hardware, cabinet wood, etc.

How nice would it be if this professional was so particular about wanting to exceed your expectations that he was always there for you and was also part of every single step in the process, and personally took care of every detail?

When you hire Sherman resident, Edward Schultheis, for your next kitchen or bathroom renovation project, this is exactly what you will get. He puts his personal touch, “Kitchens By Edward”, and his seal of approval on every masterpiece creation!

What’s Trending Now

Because Edward’s business is local, what he sees in design trends are unique to the area and he thinks they will continue to be “classics” that will be around for a very long time.

The most popular design trend his clients are requesting is the open concept floor plan that’s in the “classic” New England Style. What’s also in high-demand right now is the open concept floor plan in the Transitional Style, which is in between the Contemporary and New England styles.

“Because the homes around here were mostly built in the 1950s to the 1970s, they are due for a remodel. Almost all of the homes involve taking out center walls and opening up the space in order to give clients the bigger and more open floorplan they desire,” Edward shared.

Onsite Customer Service

Another trend that is here to stay, at least for Edward, is that he literally brings the showroom to his clients because “onsite is the best location.”

Although he maintains a perfectly up-to-date showroom in Sherman, he has found that most of his clients don’t need or want to visit a grandiose showroom. Instead, they want him to go to their homes to discuss their unique needs with him, and they do not want to see “someone else’s model kitchen” on display. After all, every home is unique and so are his clients’ kitchen and bath areas, and their tastes, too.

Edward believes that getting to know a client in his or her own home environment is especially valuable because the relationship helps to build a good design.

As an added bonus, because Edward no longer has large and unnecessary showrooms in multiple locations, he is thrilled to pass on the savings directly to his clients. The business comes to your front door and you save money, no matter what the budget; now that’s customer service!

Shopping with Edward

Edward finds that the best way to come up with a design is to “shop around with the client to get the tile, granite, cabinet, countertop, and hardware samples. Then, it is very important to bring everything into the home to see things under the client’s own light.”

Edward is also an authorized dealer for several product lines so he will pass on these savings to his clients as well. “It adds up. There are always better discounts when you buy direct, and through the years I have built special relationships with many distributors and suppliers,” he said.

The Personal Touch

Kitchens By Edward is highly efficient when it comes to all phases of a kitchen or bath renovation project because he is onsite at all times and is personally involved throughout the entire process, from the beginning to the end. In other words, he is both a specialist and a generalist and is always doing the design and construction himself. Plus, he personally manages and oversees everything. This can be as simple as inspecting an appliance or cabinet, or working with another tradesman or craftsman that’s on his team.

Since Edward is an experienced architectural designer, the design phase is one of his many talents that he is renowned for. He does the actual drawings by hand with incredible accuracy and realism down to the tiniest of detail, too. As an example, the Kohler faucet his client wants is the same faucet that’s in the design. Added touches like this are helpful to clients because most people are visual and they need to “see it”.

In addition to creating the custom design with each client, Edward also helps to get the plumbing and electrical permits, does the lighting plan and the floorplan, and orders the materials before the actual build even happens. Most of his cabinetry has a lifetime warranty, too, and he can make the doors to-spec, which is completely unique to the customer.

“Extras” and Customer Appreciation

Kitchens By Edward offers a Chef’s Repertoire to only his customers, so you can conveniently shop Edward’s handpicked selection of household kitchen item must-haves at an attractive price. Chantal, Cuisinart, GreenPan, OXO, and TAG are some of the name-brands he carries. He’ll sharpen your dull knives, too, if you are a customer.

Shhh… As another added touch, after the completion of most every project, Edward will help to accessorize your kitchen. As a “thank you” for doing business with him, he “might” show you his appreciation by filling a drawer or two with nice, high-end products. Edward enjoys making custom cutting boards and inserts for only his customers, as well.

If you think you can’t afford to remodel your outdated kitchen or bathroom, then think again… Edward offers entry-level, midrange, and high-end solutions.

For a free consultation and to make an onsite appointment, contact Edward Schultheis at: 203.546.8650 / Email: KitchensByEdward@gmail.com or… visit his website to get inspired at: http://www.kitchensbyedward.com

This article is by Alicia Sakal and it was featured in the May 27th Edition of the Citizen News, serving Sherman and New Fairfield, Connecticut.

Contributed Photo.

P&Z’s Proposed Zoning Regulation Changes Initiative is Commendable

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Sherman, Conn. (Citizen News) – For the residents who attended the public hearing on June 4th at the Mallory Town Hall, the vast majority expressed to Planning and Zoning (P&Z) their overall appreciation for what the commissioners are trying to accomplish. However, as with any public hearing, many attendees still had questions and concerns they wanted to share with the P&Z Commission. As one resident and proponent, Marge Josephson, best put it… “I like most of it, but not all of it.”

Moderating this public hearing was Planning and Zoning Chair, Jeannene Burruano. There were four consecutive public hearings on the table and open for public comment / feedback. This latest round of proposed new regulations and amendments to the Zoning Regulations of the Town of Sherman, Connecticut document concerns Accessory Dwellings, Accessory Apartments, Residential Fencing, and Stone Walls & Historic Features.

PUBLIC HEARINGS 1 & 2: ACCESSORY DWELLINGS & ACCESSORY APARTMENTS

It’s NOT Affordable Housing

Barbara Ackerman, former Planning and Zoning Chair, congratulated and thanked the P&Z Commission. She said that she wanted to make it very clear to the public that what the P&Z Commission is proposing “is not Affordable Housing” and “these structures that would be the accessory dwellings, would have no provision for that.”

Housing Commission Chair, Art Von Plachecki, said he also wanted to clarify and put on to the record how the Housing Commission Report given to the Board of Selectman and shared with the P&Z Commission never indicated that the recommendations to Planning and Zoning were for Affordable Housing.

Mr. Von Plachecki then stated “the Housing Commission would like to express our support for the accessory dwelling changes” and “we think this is a strong start to diversifying the opportunity for different styles of housing in the Town of Sherman.” He added that by not diversifying, the Town is vulnerable to State mandates along with private contractors coming in and designating their units as Affordable Housing, which would avoid entirely the Town’s zoning regulations.

Related to this, Tony Guieker, a resident who wrote in, does not think the proposed changes are the answer to Affordable Housing and he will not support it if it is. Both Ms. Ackerman and Mr. Von Plachecki’s responses reassured attendees this is not the case.

8 Acre Minimum:

Before opening up the floor to public comment, Ms. Burruano said “the purpose of this proposed regulation is to permit property owners with parcels of 8 or more acres to create an accessory dwelling to provide small scale housing for a variety of occupants. Such occupants include, but are not limited to; family, caregivers, guests, and domestic help.”

Ms. Burruano then stated “there are approximately 234 properties of 8 acres or more out of a total of 2,484 properties, which excludes town owned, state owned, or conserved in the Town of Sherman. Therefore, this regulation change would potentially effect approximately 10.6% of all Sherman properties…” She added how the intent of the P&Z Commission is to also not compromise existing and developing properties, neighborhoods, or significant natural features. Here’s what attendees had to say…

Ms. Burruano read Katherine Russo Heyser’s March 4th letter and Mrs. Heyser, a resident, attended the public hearing as well. In summation, Mrs. Heyser has lived in Sherman since 1981 with her extended family. For 30 years, her parents lived with her family in a studio apartment on the property that does not meet the ever increasing acreage requirements. Recently, her daughter and husband purchased the property so that she and her husband can now live in the studio on the property with their daughter’s young family, just like her parents once did.

Mrs. Heyser “loves the proposal idea” and wanted to go on record as an accessory dwelling proponent. However, she is not a fan of the 8 acre limitation. The reason being, the acreage limitation would not allow for more multi-generational families, like hers, to live in Sherman.

Thomas Piel, resident, also agrees the acreage restriction “denies an awful lot of people in our town majority who have less than 8 acres… it denies them the right to have an accessory dwelling.”

Samantha Addonizio, a resident who wrote in, thinks the 8 acre minimum is too restrictive and exclusive as well and wants the P&Z Commission to adopt a zoning rule that better balances Sherman families who are part of the Sandwich Generation.

Just Perfect!

Richard Gustovson, resident, was the most enthusiastic proponent that spoke at this public hearing. “This proposal seems like it was meant for me,” he stated. The reason being, he thinks what the P&Z Commission is proposing is a great improvement. For two years, he has tried to plan for a 750 sq. ft. accessory apartment for him and his wife to live in once one of his children with a young family moves to his main house. He couldn’t make the space work because the size restriction was too small. Now, he thinks the proposed 1,200 sq. ft. restriction is just the perfect size so he can add a bedroom for visiting grandchildren and guests if he builds an accessory dwelling.

Mr. Gustovson would also like to have a two car garage and wants to see this added in the language. “I think this is a very well-written plan and it happens to work perfectly for me! …I appreciate it.”

Owner Occupied, Principal Dwelling

Mr. Piel has a concern with the principal dwelling occupancy requirement that the owner must live in it because he thinks the property owner should be able to live in either the accessory apartment / dwelling, or the principal building, a single family dwelling. In other words, as long as the property owner is living on the property, then it shouldn’t matter.

Small House Quandary

Marge Josephson, resident, shared her square footage requirement concerns, because with her situation, the acreage is there but her 200 year-old house is small. She wanted to know if the P&Z Commission would consider letting her build an additional building with a small house as the principal building. She added “there are some older, very small buildings where it would be better, ultimately, to have that as the accessory building and another one as a primary building.”

Shared Driveway / Curb Cuts Restriction

Ms. Josephson also said she has a short driveway and is hoping there would be special permits to deal with her special case regarding the no additional curb cuts restriction.

Ms. Ackerman was interested in knowing where accessory dwellings would be located on any property because they would need to have “a driveway shared by the principal house.” She does not think this is realistic for many properties to accomplish.

Why a Landscaping Provision?

As for the proposed landscaping provision, Ms. Josephson does not understand why there should be one since she believes there are currently no landscaping regulations for homes with smaller parcels.

PUBLIC HEARING 3: OBSTRUCTION IN LOT AREA / ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES & RESIDENTIAL FENCING

Mary Cusack, resident, read a letter she wrote about her concern regarding residential fencing because she lives in a residential farming zone and does not want to see tall vehicles and equipment. She is worried that the proposed front lot fencing language will eliminate the side lot fencing language.

Ms. Burruano said that any side or rear lot can have a 6 ft. fence and this language is already in the regulations. In other words, the proposed new language should not affect sides and rear height and that it will allow for a 4 ft. front yard fence, with conditions. The P&Z Commission will review the wording.

Regarding fencing regulations, Ms. Josephson thinks it’s good to have them. However, she has a concern regarding how a residential fence shall not cross any easements because she thinks there should be the option to put up fencing across a conservation easement.

Ms. Josephson asked if residential deer fencing is okay and it is. She wanted to know if barbwire fencing and electrified fencing are okay on farms, and they are okay on farms. The P&Z Commission said that what they are proposing is for residential properties and not for farms. The P&Z Commission will review the wording.

PUBLIC HEARING 4: SCENIC FEATURES, STONE WALLS & HISTORIC FEATURES

Ms. Josephson said “I am pleased that we will have something finally in the regulations about stonewalls and foundations, it’s long overdue.” However, she thinks the wording needs to be strengthened or clarified regarding how the intent needs to be applied to all existing walls and foundations on existing lots AND new lots. She said the proposed wording seems to only apply to new subdivision plans and not existing lots.

NEXT STEPS:

The Commissioners listened attentively to the public’s input and suggestions, and the public hearing is closed. The P&Z Commission will do deliberations at their mid-month meeting on June 18th at 7 p.m. in Mallory Town Hall. If there are final decisions made then the P&Z Commission will vote on the amendments and newly proposed regulations. This is a public meeting, and all residents are welcome. However, there will not be an opportunity to speak. If the P&Z Commission drastically changes anything then they will schedule a new public hearing and go through the same process again.

Written by Alicia Sakal, Citizen News Journalist, June 10th Edition.