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Trumbull's Year in Review: Old and New Businesses, the GOP and 'Rent'

2013 opened bittersweetly in Trumbull with the loss of Porricelli's Food Mart, followed by Marie's, two long-standing Trumbull Center Businesses.

MacKenzie's Pharmacy, another long-timer, then announced it was becoming a CVS.

But more businesses sprung up: Chip's, the Fitness Edge, Prime One Eleven, Parker's Steak and Scotch and Pet Valu. Two more are slated to move into space on Route 111.

Lots more smaller businesses have come to town as well, such as Shearwater Coffee Roasters on Corporate Drive.

Soon after, politics and the budget took over.

The town boards and commissions debated what to bond in the budget, and school security took precedence because of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012, in which the gunman killed himself after killing 20 students and six staff, including one Trumbull resident.

The school district proposed and initiated Project Catapult to upgrade school technology, based on recommendations from the Gibson Report on the school district.

The End of Eras

Before budget discussions even began, Schools Supt. Ralph Iassogna announced his retirement after 14 years in the job and decades in the school district. He left office July 1, and Gary Cialfi was elevated to Superintendent from assistant.

In July, Principal Robert Tremaglio turned the reins of Trumbull High School over to Marc Guarino, who was thrust into the job as Trumbull High School construction was winding down and the NEASC was coming in to evaluate THS for re-accreditation.

Finishing Trumbull High School renovations, started in 2006, was spotlighted next as the Town Council approved an audit of the project. Some Council members, school staff, Board of Education members and students were not pleased with the final appearance of the high school.

Al Barbarotta (who owns AFB, a company that works with many of Connecticut's school districts) and the owner's representative on the THS project and facilities manager for the school district, took criticism for the length and appearance of the renovations.

He was also criticized by the town's Internal Auditor, James Henderson, for the price of snow removal between 2011 and 2013.

Ethics

Henderson filed an Ethics complaint against officials including Barbarotta; the head of the THS Building Committee; Ralph Iassogna; then-School Board Chairman Steve Wright; and Steve Kennedy, a district supervisor. It was dismissed by the Ethics Committee and the school district paid for attorneys for Wright, Kennedy and Iassogna.

First Selectman Tim Herbst said Barbarotta should not be wearing so many hats in the school district and criticized the district's spending practices for snow removal in the district. Barbarotta has a contract with the school board until June 30, 2014.

Barbarotta also sued Herbst personally over a construction deal that fell through with TLC Inc. of Trumbull for contractual interference. The suit is pending.

Trumbull Day, Elections

On the fun side, the town welcomed back Trumbull Day on the grounds of Trumbull High School on June 29. The previous Trumbull Day was held outside of the Westfield Trumbull Mall, and it had been cancelled the year before.

As summer waned, elections heated up. Tim Herbst and all of the republican candidates won their races. Herbst defeated Town Councilwoman Martha Jankovic-Mark.

Then, as the election died down and Thanksgiving neared, Guarino, the THS principal, found himself in the news after halting the production of "Rent: The School Edition."

THS Senior Larissa Mark, the daughter of Martha Mark and the president of the THS Thespian Society, led the student opposition to the decision. Trumbull was thrust into a national spotlight but after meetings with students and parents, an agreement was reached to stage it at its original date of March 27-30, with educational preparation set up beforehand.

In December, Tim Herbst and his family found themselves targets once more as some residents criticized the school board for electing Deborah Herbst chairwoman. Deborah Herbst has served on the school board for 10 years, the last six as vice chair, before Tim Herbst was elected first selectman in 2009.

Michael Herbst, Herbst's father, is the THS Athletic director. But he will retire Jan. 31, 2014, after working in the district since 1975.

And in an appropriate bookend, winding up the year, Marie's re-opened on Dec. 12, owned by relatives of the original owner.

Did I miss anything? Please let me know in the comments!
Steven Castro December 31, 2013 at 11:20 PM
Please don't forget Happy Honda Days. Hit the Michael Bolton!

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