Community Bulletin Board
- Sen. Hartley Receives Perfect Score from Conservationists
- Free Concert for Hispanic Heritage Month
- Sisters to Sisters Book Club Meets Sept. 8
- Book Signing by Internationally Known Author
- Business Women's Forum ~ Oct. 10th
- Calling All Poets ~ Sept. 3rd
- 7 Angels Theater Honors Najla Noujaim
- Wesson Energy Receives National Award
- Thomaston Svgs. Bank Helps Project Safe Place
- Cornwall Bridge 150th Anniversary Events
- Esty Announces Returns of $2.2 Million
- Post's Polaski is Academic All-American
The first inclusive multi-cultural festival in Waterbury history - The Gathering - was held in 2013, and was so successful, that it will now become an annual event, the next one being tomorrow, May 17th, from 11 am to 8 pm in downtown Waterbury. Pictured above are Brazilian samba dancers marching in the 2013 parade.
Column and Photographs By John Murray
There was one moment during The Gathering last year that will stick in my memory until my last breath. The moment was wrapped in anticipation, anxiety and exhaustion. A small group of volunteers and city employees had been planning the festival for months; recruiting ethnic groups, plotting parade routes, and dealing with insurance, electricity, and details we didn’t even know existed. When May 18th arrived we were unsure of what we had created. There were more than 40 cultural groups signed up to share their music, food and dance, but were they going to show up?
The three men vying to be elected mayor of Waterbury on November 5th are from left to right, Independent Party candidate Larry De Pillo, Democrat incumbent Neil O'Leary, and Republican candidate Jason Van Stone.
Column by John Murray
Trying to understand the 2013 municipal election in Waterbury is as slippery as black ice on an early morning in February. It’s the most low-key mayoral campaign the Observer has covered in 20 years, but trying to dig out the reasons is as elusive as trying to catch the Loch Ness Monster. Why? Because perspectives change from one political camp to another, and grasping reality in politics is like snatching a fistful of fog, they both leave you empty handed.
Is it a foregone conclusion that Neil O’Leary will be re-elected on November 5th? Is that why it’s so quiet?
“Nothing is guaranteed in politics,” O’Leary said. “There has been very little excitement in the campaign so far, and that may translate into low voter turnout. We’ve worked very hard and I’d like to think the citizens of Waterbury like the job we’ve been doing, but does a lack of excitement worry me? You bet it does.”
Celebrating 20 years of publishing The Waterbury Observer, John Murray decided to leap out of an airplane 10,500 feet above Connecticut. The plunge reminded Murray that launching a business with no money, or chasing dreams of world travel all have one thing in common, facing fear, and letting go.
Story By John Murray
Photographs By SkyDive Danielson
For most of the twenty-minute ascent I tapped into breathing exercises, and positive imagery, to try and keep myself calm.
“That’s the University of Connecticut,” said Norm Nault, my tandem skydiving instructor, “and if you look to the south you can see Long Island Sound.”
At 5000 feet my attempt to relax faltered, and the metallic taste of fear marched across my tongue. I looked around the plane - which was no bigger than a car - and checked on my daughter, Chelsea. If I was starting to lose it, I was sure Chelsea’s heart was clanging against her chest. Chelsea was tandem jumping with instructor Scott Barylski, a dead ringer for actor Ben Stiller. There was something comical, and terrifying, about hurling yourself out of a tiny airplane with Derek Zoolander strapped to your back.
Alfalfa Bill Murray wrote the constitution for the state of Oklahoma, was elected to Congress, was Governor of Oklahoma, and ran for President of the United States in 1932. He has been described as the most influential politician in Oklahoma history.
Story By John Murray
On a rolling hill of red dirt, burnt grass and bristles, we arrived at Alfalfa Bill Murray’s grave in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, with a bag of ice, a bottle of blended scotch whiskey, and a sweet potato pie. My daughter and I had sliced our way south from Connecticut through Washington D.C., the Blue Ridge Mountains, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, and into Oklahoma in two days. We set a blistering pace and stopped to eat, refuel, sleep, and occasionally pose for ridiculous photographs with a ten-inch chalk bust of our deceased ancestor that I had purchased on ebay.
By John Murray
Lugging a dream around in your head for 15 years is tiring. The only path to freedom is to hurl yourself towards the fire and either transform the dream into reality, or fail trying. A dream without effort will never materialize, so it was with a sense of relief that I unchained one of my dreams last Autumn, and set out to create a multi-cultural festival in Waterbury celebrating the extraordinary diversity of the people living and working in the city.
Spending a year in Greece was a dream realized. I had the extraordinary opportunity to explore Greek culture, tour the islands and the mountains, and discover buried secrets in my family's past.
Story By Chelsea Murray
That was the question people asked relentlessly, eyebrows raised, when I stuffed my possessions into a backpack and broken suitcase and jetted off to Greece for a year to study abroad. Greece is a foreign country, but my study abroad plan sounded especially foreign to my inquisitors. Why not London? Why not Spain?
My answer was simple, “I’m Greek.”
Albert Einstein said, "look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." So look into this tranquil scene along the Naugatuck River in Waterbury, and see if Einstein was correct. Photograph by John Murray
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was in Waterbury 12 days ago to campaign for Linda McMahon's bid for the U.S. Senate. Photograph by John Murray
By John Murray
One hundred years ago a newspaper’s endorsement of a political candidate moved the electorate. Today it only reveals the political bent of a news organization and amounts to yet another political flyer at your doorstep. Consider that the New York Times and the Hartford Courant – newspapers driven by liberal agendas - both endorsed three Democrats; Chris Murphy for Senate, Elizabeth Esty for Congress and Barack Obama for president. In the other corner, locally, we have the Republican-American newspaper – a bastion of conservative Republican ideals - grinding out endorsements for the GOP; Linda McMahon for Senate, Andrew Roraback for Congress and assuredly, Mitt Romney for president.
Is anyone surprised by these endorsements?
My nephew, George Murray, exploded in joy when Ohio State scored the winning touchdown on a 72 yard pass with three minutes left in the game against the University of California. George graduated from Ohio State in 2011 and is now in his second year of law school at Ohio State.
By John Murray
I went to church Saturday afternoon in Columbus, Ohio. The pews held 105,000 rabid fans of Ohio State and it was an afternoon of family and football wrapped in God and country. It was an unparalleled spectacle almost impossible for a Connecticut boy to fathom. UConn football? Not even close. UConn basketball? Nope. The Giants, Patriots, Jets, Yankees and Red Sox can put on a good show, but not like football in Ohio with 105,000 of your best friends.
Paula Bell, left, and her parents, Bill and Janice Smolinski, at the vigil on the Green in Naugatuck.
(Editor’s note - A vigil was held on the Naugatuck Green, August 26th, to mark the 8th anniversary of the disappearrance of Billy Smolinski. Congressman Chris Murphy, Waterbury police chief Michael Gugliotti, CT’s Victim Advocate Michelle Cruz, the Smoliniski family, and Waterbury Observer publisher John Murray all spoke. The following are the remarks Murray delivered at the vigil)
Photographs By John Murray
While much of Connecticut enjoyed another glorious summer day in New England, I spent most of mine trying not to vomit as I closely read through the verdict in the civil trial between Madeline Gleason and the Smolinski family. The lawsuit, filed by a named suspect in the disappearance of Billy Smolinski, took six years, tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and three days in court. After all of this, Superior Court Judge Thomas Corradino ordered Janice Smolinski and Paula Bell to pay Madeline Gleason $52,000 in damages for allegedly harassing her, defaming her, and falsely accusing Gleason of having anything to do with the disappearance of Billy Smolinski.