North Haven year in review [North Haven Citizen]

December 28, 2015

The North Haven Citizen

The highlight of 2015 for the town of North Haven was the North Haven High School football team’s appearance in its first state championship game. The Indians 42-35 loss to New Canaan on Dec. 12 concluded their best season ever, which started off with a 10-0 regular season and two wins in the Class L playoffs before the close loss to the Eagles.

Senior captain Michael Montano, who electrified crowds all season with his long touchdown runs, ran for three scores against New Canaan and passed for another.

Among the many seniors who starred for the team this season was Sabrina Fronte, a kicker who set a state record for a female athlete by scoring 12 points in a single game with two field goals and six extra points in a win against Lyman Hall. “Besides being a female, she’s a competitor, equal to anyone on the team,” coach Anthony Sagnella said.

The team honored John Liquori, the 2012 graduate and team member who was killed on July 16, 2014, when he was hit by a pickup truck while he was jogging on Middletown Ave.
At the second annual John Liquori Memorial football game, held at Vanacore Field on Oct. 23, the team, family and friends remembered Liquori for his enthusiasm for football, music and life. “John was a special young man whose personality would immediately light up a room,” Sagnella said.

Theodore Spalding, the 73-year-old North Haven resident who was driving the truck that killed John, was sentenced to a four year prison term on July 9 after pleading guilty to second degree manslaughter and the illegal operation of a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

Lisa Liquori, John’s mother, addressed Spalding during his sentencing in the New Haven court. “You slaughtered my son with your truck,” she told him. “I don’t know how you can live with yourself. You killed my son and my family’s loss is so deep.”

North Haven football fans will have even more to celebrate when renovations are made to Vanacore Field through a $500,000 STEAP grant that was announced Oct. 6. The grant was secured through the efforts of Rep. Dave Yaccarino and Sen. Len Fasano as well as Lynn Sadosky, director of public works and Dave Mikos, president of North Haven Youth Football. The grant will be used to demolish and replace the concession stand, build permanent ADA compliant restrooms and dedicated locker rooms for home and visiting teams. Work will start next spring.

North Haven’s other big sports item for 2015 was the running of Keen Ice, a thoroughbred co-owned by two North Haven men in the Kentucky Derby. Ralph Durante who partners with John Buckley and the Donegal Racing Syndicate said, “It was exciting to hear we would be in the big dance. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for a three-year-old.”

Before the football season started, 55 North Haven High School students generated headlines by presenting a video they made to the state legislature. “More than zero” is a two minute video that advocates for extension of the $12 million tobacco trust fund that was canceled in this year’s state budget. “Youth smoking in Connecticut contributes significantly to a $2 billion annual health care burden yet our state continues to underfund tobacco control programs,” the video stated. “On behalf of the youth of Connecticut, the future of Connecticut, please restore tobacco control funding because I am worth more than zero.”

Yaccarino and Fasano introduced legislation in February to establish SMARD Awareness Day in Connecticut in honor of Hunter Pageau, the nine-year-old North Haven boy who is fighting the rare motor neuron disease. Hunter and his mother, Sharon Agli Pageau, spoke at the legislative session to introduce the bill and returned on May 27 when the bill was passed. Hunter didn’t speak to the legislature on May 27. “But Hunter did participate,” his mother said. “He hit the gavel to proclaim it passed.”

North Haven’s dedication to energy efficiency was displayed by the opening of the Energize Connecticut Center on Universal Drive in June. The educational center that offers hands-on information about renewable engery ideas and solutions and is sponsored by energy providers Eversource and UI, “is interactive, entertaining, educational and it’s free,” according to Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross.

The town sponsors its own energy savings project that began with the replacement of a 50 year old boiler at Montowese Elementary School. First Selectman Mike Freda introduced the energy savings project to a group of fifth graders at a school program on Oct. 7 that was attended by Yaccarino, Fasano and Rob Klee, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

On Nov. 3, Freda was reelected for his fourth term in a landslide victory over Democrat John Bimonte. At the inaugural ceremony on Nov. 30, Freda said, “This administration is truly focused on delivering a positive performance for the future and we’ll meet the challenges head on. It’s hard to believe I’m entering my fourth term, but I’m truly grateful to the citizens of North Haven.”

The North Haven Fire Department, which named Paul Januszewski as its new chief in September, enlightened the holiday for many children by delivering gifts in a town fire truck in time for Christmas.

One of the town’s first business items for 2016 will be the application of Town Fair Tire to take over the Rustic Oak property on Washington Ave. Town Fair will present a site plan application to the Planning & Zoning Commission on Jan. 4 that promises to kick off the year with a bang. There was much opposition to Town Fair’s plans in September when it suspended its application until it could receive a variance for the site’s proximity to Grover Wyman Park. It received the variance on Dec. 17, setting up the application in January. Residents sought to preserve the historic oak trees on the Rustic Oak site, which Town Fair now says it will do. Whether that enables the company to have its site plan approved remains to be seen.