Community News

Household Hazardous Waste Collection

A free Northwest Hills Council of Governments Household Hazardous Waste Collection is planned for Saturday June 10, 9:00 a.m. to noon, at the Falls Village Public Works Garage, 100 Railroad St. Norfolk is among the 12 towns eligible to participate in the collection. A ticket must be obtained by applying to Town Hall, 860-542-5829, and are available through June 9.

Brochures explaining the collection day are available at Town Hall.

The ticket must be shown upon entry. All those bringing items must store the materials in the rear area of the vehicle, not in passenger compartments. Only items to be removed by waste collection personnel should be in the rear area.

Household products are considered hazardous if they are toxic, flammable, reactive or corrosive. Examples of such products include pesticides, herbicides, oil-based paints, degreasers, household cleaners, paint thinners and gasoline.

For more information about what items can be disclosed of, click here.

UCC Continues Changed Service Schedule

The United Church of Christ will continue its experiment with an altered worship schedule Sunday, April 30. At 10:00 a.m., the Rev. Erick Olsen will host a gathering for coffee, prayer and conversation on a topical issue in the sanctuary.

The afternoon service will be held at 5:00 p.m. and combines a blend of ancient practices and new features in a format that, it is hoped, is welcoming for all. The afternoon service will feature the puppetry of Susan Aziz and friends and the music of the choir.

Library has Spring Haiku Contest

April is National Poetry Month, and the Norfolk Library is celebrating with a haiku contest. Send your best original spring-themed haiku by Monday, April 17, to As the library receives them, it will post the haikus on its social media.

The three favorites will be featured in the April 21 Night Owl for patrons to vote on an overall winner. The poet of the winning haiku will win a gift certificate to Arethusa Farm Dairy. 

For those unfamiliar with haiku, it is a Japanese poetic form that consists of three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. 

State of Emergency Declared for “Brenda”

First Selectman Matt Riiska declared a state of emergency Tuesday morning as the major snowstorm swept over Northwest Connecticut. This allows the town to take advantage of any service and funding that may become available through the state or the federal government.

Working with the local emergency management and the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS), the town applied for assistance through the Region 5 Public Works Mutual Aid Plan. Wednesday morning public works crews from Watertown and Thomaston came to Norfolk with equipment and crews to assist in the cleanup.

“This was a great help,” said Riiska, expressing his gratitude for the assistance.

The Emergency Management Team was in place from early Tuesday morning until Wednesday night, monitoring the public works radios, tracking outages, monitoring Eversource activities, keeping track of road closures and keeping track road blockages from trees and down wires.

The Public Works crew was out from 1:00 a.m. Tuesday until 8:00 p.m. that night and then again from 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday until 6:00 p.m., but still the work is not complete. Riiska said the cleanup of downed trees and branches will continue for some time.

Spring Will Bring More Gas Cleanup Efforts

Norfolk residents convened Tuesday evening for the fourth gas spill update meeting since the Nov. 5 spill.

First Selectman Matt Riiska reported that the meeting was businesslike with the exception of a question from the floor regarding allowing the remediation company to start work on private property. “There was a comment from the floor regarding when the landowners will give permission for [cleanup crews] to get onto their properties” Riiska said. “Right now, it’s a case of trying to work through this to address everyone’s concerns. We are trying to move this along for everyone’s benefit.”

Another question from the audience was regarding offering alternative housing during the remediation process planned for this spring. Riiska responded, “The Town has worked with a number of residents over the past four months, locating and providing funding for alternative housing. We will continue to assist in any way we can.”  

The cleanup is the top priority for more than one reason. In addition to wanting to remove all environmental contaminants, the town has projects in the pipeline that will be delayed until the cleanup is complete. 

Concern was expressed that there has been little activity in recent weeks, but the audience was assured that testing and remediation continues, with much more to come in the spring. Riiska commented that this is far from over and he wants Norfolk residents to understand that there are still residents whose lives have been disrupted by this event.

Verdantas, the firm monitoring the movement of contaminants in water and soil, has submitted a plan to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). It has yet to be approved, but Riiska anticipates it will be. “The plan is to have all remediation done sometime in June, if not sooner.” he said, but expressed skepticism about that schedule. “With the construction season opening up, we will need to move quickly to have Verdantas plan approved by the DEEP.”

The extensive work planned by the town for Maple Avenue will be affected by reclamation efforts, which are now projected to affect a wider area than originally foreseen. Bids for the town’s project are being reviewed, but Riiska said he is discussing the issue with the town’s lawyer. Guerrera Construction, Inc., of Oxford, a firm the town has worked with in the past, is working with the state on the cleanup and Riiska believes it might be prudent to have the same firm work with the town as well. 

“The cleanup area is getting bigger, not because of contamination, but because of all of the infrastructure that will be corrected, particularly the storm water damaged system on Pettibone Lane and Maple Avenue. This will require more coordination than we had originally planned,” he said. “It makes sense to have one company do all the reconstruction work associated with the remediation process and the refurbishment of Maple Avenue.”

Finance Board Wants Schools Agreement

The Board of Finance Tuesday night agreed that Chairman Michael Sconyers should write a letter to Botelle Superintendent Mary Beth Iacobelli and Board of Education Chairman Ann DeCerbo requesting that they begin negotiations with Colebrook to establish a cooperative education agreement. Such agreements are legal under State Statute 10-158a.

“We’re going to look into different plans going forward,” said First Selectman Matt Riiska following the meeting. “We have 64 students at Botelle now and next year’s projections are in the upper 50s. Is it advantageous to operate a school with just 56 kids? It’s even more than economics—it’s our job to provide the best education we can to get them ready for Region 7.”

An attempt to actually consolidate the Colebrook and Norfolk schools failed several years ago but Riiska said the statute allows a town to send students to another community on a tuition basis.

“Obviously, the best thing would be a consolidation because we have the facility, but if that doesn’t work, we have to look at other options,” Riiska said, adding that conversations have already started amongst town officials. “But it’s a Board of Education thing,” he concluded. “It’s their call.”

How to Pay Less for Electricity

Concerned about your electricity bill? If you think you are paying too much for the power Eversource is delivering, you can switch any time to another supplier with lower rates. Two websites, EnergizeCT and PowerSetter, offer comparative listings from which to choose and sign-up forms to use if and when you decide to switch. Rates vary by length of contract, but most companies offer several options and you can opt to be notified of an impending price decrease. If prices do change, there is no penalty for switching to another supplier with a better rate.

Raise the Steeple Receives Major Grant

The Raise the Steeple committee has announced that the Church of Christ has been offered a $200,000 grant from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). This is the largest of the grants that SHPO offers.

The church has raised more than $575,000 in its campaign to put restore and replace the steeple, which currently sits on a specially made scaffold beside the venerable church. In addition to renovating the steeple, the church plans to repair the clock face and chimes.

The original estimate for the repairs and refurbishment of the clock has doubled but generous donations put the church in a good position to complete the work.

The Steeple Committee will present details about the grant to the congregation at an all-church meeting after an attorney reviews the contract. For more information about the Steeple Restoration Project click here.

In the meantime, the Granville Dawgs will present “Rock Around the Clock,” at Battell Chapel, Saturday, January 14, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. There will be a musical tour through time and a chance to learn a dance from each decade from the 1950s through the ’90s. A $20 suggested donation raises funds for the steeple’s restoration.

Neither Snow, nor Sleet Stay Firefighters’ Journey

Four firefighters flew to Luverne, Minn., this week to bring home the town’s new tanker truck, which replaces a 23-year-old vehicle with a leaking tank. The men inspected the new truck at the Midwest Fire factory, before three of them drove 1,400 miles back to Norfolk, taking shifts at the wheel to stay ahead of the massive winter storm sweeping across the country.

They arrived at 11:15 p.m. Tuesday after 22 hours on the road.

The $328,000 tanker was paid for with a combination of fire department funds and town ARPA dollars. The previous tanker has been turned over to the Department of Public Works to be converted to a plow truck.

Frontier May Boost Internet Service

NORFOLK—Town officials are talking to Frontier about the future of fiber optics in the town.

Frontier has offered to cover 70 to 80 percent of Norfolk. First Selectman Matt Riiska said, however, that much depends on bringing service to remote sections of town.

“They are going to do so much, but their position is they can’t string wire everywhere on rural roads. They are making an offer that for ‘x’ amount, they’ll make sure everyone is covered. Our position is, if we put any money in at all, everyone needs to be covered. We can’t expect some taxpayers to pay for others.”

The improved service would be for Internet only and is not 5G. 

“There are still a lot of questions,” Riiska said, “and there will be a lot more discussions over the next three months or so.”