Business Development Grants for Innovation

Geeks, take note.

The Connecticut Science Center and the City of Hartford are partnering to offer grants up to $15,000 for projects related to the applied sciences, technology, or other innovations not connected to education or the arts. The awards can be used for capital projects, materials, or equipment.

There’s a catch: you can’t be wealthy to get this.

The Community Development Block Grant Program authorizes HUD to fund this, so applicants will need to meet their low- and moderate-income requirements.

There are a few other guidelines. Applicants should either own/rent space in Hartford for the business or live here. Businesses with more than five employees are not eligible.

Applications are not due until March 19th, but there are two public information sessions and a technical assistance session before then. The first info session is from 10-11:30 a.m. on February 4th at the Connecticut Science Center. The second info session is offered from 6-7:30 in the evening on February 8th.

The guidelines and application for the grant are available for download.

Mascaras de Vejigante at Park Branch of the HPL

On a dreary day in January, artist Angel Sánchez Ortiz delivered dozens of his vejigante masks to the Park Library. The artist — formerly of Holyoke, now living in Delaware — demonstrated that these pieces of artwork are not meant only to be displayed on the wall. They can be worn. Some have movable pieces, like jaws that open and close.

The brightly painted papier mâché and coconut masks are like those seen in the Carnival de Ponce in Puerto Rico, an event comparable to the Mardi Gras. The vejigante mask is often meant to be frightening.

These masks will be on view at the Park Branch of the Hartford Public Library from February 1, 2012 through March 2, 2012. This branch is located at 744 Park Street.

More Safety Measures at Trinity Fortress

Yesterday James Jones, the President of Trinity College, sent a message directed at Trinity students, staff, faculty, and parents, and potentially, to Hartford residents.

While careful to say Trinity does not want to cut itself off from the community, administrators described how the college may add cameras, fencing and police to the periphery, along with potential changes to the landscape:

January 25, 2012

Dear Trinity Students, Faculty, Staff, and Parents,

We write to update you on our efforts to improve campus safety at Trinity. As mentioned in our previous message to the campus community, we want to be deliberate in our efforts to make changes that are effective and lasting. We have visited other campuses in the Bronx, Boston, New Haven, and Bridgeport to examine best practices at other urban institutions. We have met with private security consultants and will, as mentioned in our previous email, host a visiting team of campus safety professionals who will do an external review of our staffing, protocols, training programs, and allocation of resources. We have also heard many constructive ideas from students, staff, and parents. While we want to make sure we factor in all the expert advice we can get, it is increasingly evident that we need to make some critical changes.

Back in December we told you that we would increase the number of officers on patrol and improve lighting. Under the leadership of Director Charles Morris, the Campus Safety staff has organized a tactical patrol of five additional officers during the hours of 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. who will focus on the periphery of campus in the areas of Summit Street, Crescent Street, and College property on Allen Place. We will be hiring five additional officers to permanently staff this team and rely on overtime until we are able to hire additional officers. We have, working with students from the Campus Climate Council, identified several areas on campus where we are adding new lighting and we have replaced or upgraded 275 lights across campus. We have also put in place an auditing program to ensure prompt repair when a light is not working. These efforts will increase the visibility of our Campus Safety patrols and provide better and more lighting. But we realize these efforts alone are not sufficient to make our community feel as safe as we would like.

We have received a formal proposal from the SGA and have heard from some faculty and staff and numerous parents and students that we need to do more to monitor access to the campus at certain times of the day. We have no intention of withdrawing our welcome to the local community to enjoy the benefits we extend to them, but we need to do more to discourage criminal activity that undermines safety and creates resentment and fear instead of appreciation for the assets of Hartford. At its meeting last week, the Board of Trustees authorized us to explore strategies for how we can do more to manage the routes of access to the campus. We are in the process of selecting a security consulting firm to help us determine the feasibility of such a plan. It would most likely require some additional fencing, landscaping, and cameras in critical areas and could mean providing internal access to some of the parking areas on the periphery of campus that are currently accessed from the city streets to allow for controlled access.

We want to hear from the campus community as we develop our plans. We also want to assure you that we have no intention of separating ourselves from Hartford and diminishing the mutually beneficial relationship we have with our neighborhood and the city. That is a relationship we want to see grow. Our focus remains on providing the highest level of safety and security for all members of our campus community.

We will write again to update you on our planning process as soon as we have the recommendations of the consultant and our visiting team. In the meantime we wish all of you the best for the new semester.

Very truly yours,

James F. Jones, Jr.

President and Trinity College

Professor in the Humanities

Frederick Alford

Dean of Students

None of the added safety measures address the most common types of crimes that occur on college campuses, which involve students violating the rights of other students, nor does it address how students are violating their own safety through binge drinking. (more…)

Pathways Students to Apply Themselves

Successful teachers know that students learn through a variety of avenues. Hands-on activities are particularly engaging and memorable.

Starting on Monday, January 30th, students at Pathways to Technology Magnet High will have the both the opportunity to create something resume-worthy: apps.

This curriculum is being piloted here and in only four other schools nationwide. The program was designed by Lenovo, a technology manufacturing firm, which has provided Pathways with thirty ThinkPad tablets and six ThinkCentre HD All-in-one computers. The National Academy Foundation is collaborating on this.

This class, to be taught by Raul Vargas, will allow the eighteen students to work together to brainstorm ideas for apps, create a business plan, and then do the coding and development necessary to make them work. After this, the school will select the best app idea and send it off to experts.

So long as it fits into their schedules, students of all grade levels at Pathways will be eligible to enroll in this course.

Snow is Green: Tickets Mean Revenue

Even with nearly 100 vehicles towed and 500 parking tickets issued during last weekend’s snow event, some streets appeared to have not gotten the memo that there was a street parking ban in effect.

Lt. Chris Mefferd, the Police Department’s Traffic Division Commander, said “vehicles parked on the street were issued tickets, announcements were made over the loudspeaker instructing residents to move their vehicles, and vehicles that were not removed were towed. Through this process, we made our best effort to gain voluntary compliance before initiating tow operations to ensure efficient plowing and clearing of city streets.”

This was not the case for every city street. On Tuesday, some were still not plowed to the curb; in Hartford, Saturday’s “storm” left only a few inches of snow, making removal of it far less daunting of a task than what the City dealt with last January. The October 2011 storm, which left about a foot of snow in the city, did not inspire officials to treat on-street parking with the degree of seriousness that a few inches of powder over the weekend apparently warranted. (more…)

BOE Confirmation Process Changes Now

Today, Councilman Wooden has announced a change to the confirmation process for Board of Education appointees:

City Council announces new Board of Education appointment confirmation process that seeks public engagement

Hartford, CT – Council President Shawn T. Wooden announced today a confirmation process for Mayor Pedro E. Segarra’s appointments to the Hartford Board of Education. This thorough yet expedient confirmation process, unprecedented for the City of Hartford, is adapted from the Connecticut General Assembly’s process for confirming executive nominations to state boards and commissions.

“The public wants a local government that is more transparent and accountable.  As Council President, I intend to work very hard to make that happen.  Confirming the mayor’s appointments to the Board of Education is among the City Council’s most important duties, and we intend to do so in a way that is thorough, engages the public and accomplishes Mayor Segarra’s very legitimate goal of an expeditious confirmation process. We want to give the new Board of Education the opportunity to begin working together in advance of their first meeting on February 21st,” said Council President Wooden. (more…)