Day: February 19, 2018

Benefit to Support Refugees

by DARA 

Danbury Area Refugee Assistance (DARA) invites the community to their third annual benefit dinner supporting the resettlement of refugees in the Greater Danbury area. This event takes place at Michael’s At The Grove in Bethel from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm and features a cocktail hour, three-course meal with wine service, guest speakers, live entertainment, dancing, and a silent auction.

Last year’s featured speaker was 24-year-old photographer Maher Mahmood, an Iraqi refugee who spoke movingly about the circumstances that brought him to the United States in 2014. Heba Gowayed, a sociologist currently pursuing her PhD at Princeton, spoke passionately about the refugee crisis and her work studying the resettlement of refugees. This year, DARA has invited Chris George, the executive director of Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven, to join the guest speakers at the benefit.

DARA, a registered nonprofit organization, was founded in October of 2015 by Bethel resident James Naddeo, who called on members of the community to form a response to the growing refugee crisis in Syria. DARA partnered with IRIS to sponsor a Syrian family who arrived in the United States in March of 2016. This family has successfully integrated into the Danbury community.

Tickets may be purchased at Tickets are $55 in advance or $65 at the door, with tables of 8 available for $400 and tables of 10 for $475. Credit cards are accepted for tickets at the door, as well as for silent auction bids during the event.

Contact Information
Kate Alvarez, Benefit Chair, 518-461-6464

Meet Your Cool Neighbor

Karen Romano Young in front of her AntarcticLog panels
In a century-old barn on a quiet Bethel road, Karen Romano Young is busy, In a few weeks, she will embark on a two-month scientific research trip to Antarctica, and preparations are well under way. For one thing, the Antarctic winter will be setting in, and with its obvious weather challenges and rapidly decreasing daylight, proper gear is essential. For another, Karen will be assuming the unique role of interpreting and communicating her research team’s work to the world through her award-winning writing and art. Call her a Science Ambassador.

It’s a role that Karen relishes. This voyage will mark her seventh research expedition in the field and her first to Antarctica. To get there, she’ll fly to Santiago, Chile and then south to Punta Arenas. From there, she’ll board the ARSV (Antarctic Research and Supply Vessel) Laurence M. Gould for a 3-day voyage through Drake Passage. Her destination is Palmer Station, a US-owned research station in western Antarctica, where she’ll work with scientists from Maine’s Bigelow Laboratory to study phytoplankton and its role in climate science.

Karen will be tapping into her many skills and talents at Palmer Station. On the one hand, she will serve as her research team’s lab assistant. On the other, she will communicate their findings, as well as day-to-day life at the station, to a wide audience through AntarcticLog, a science comic Karen began in 2017 to tell the story of the Bigelow scientists’ research. Karen sums it up best: “The scientists are studying things that are microscopic and I’m doing comics. It’s basically visualizing the invisible.” Her opportunity to become an Antarctic artist-in-residence came from a unique grant she was awarded from the National Science Foundation..

Science comics, or “Humanimal Doodles,” are a Karen Romano Young specialty. Her inspiration for communicating science through comics came from her experience on a science research ship years ago in the Arctic. The walruses all around them, along with a story told to the scientists by a Native Iñupiat on the vessel, became the subject of her first Humanimal Doodle. She has since created Humanimal Doodles for national magazines, universities, fellowships and public radio’s Science Friday.

In addition to her art, Karen’s creativity comes out in her fiction writing, for which she has won acclaim and awards. Ever since her first novel, The Beetle and Me: A Love Story. was published in 2001, fiction ideas haven’t stopped coming. “I always have more in the back of my mind that I want to work on than I have time to work on,” Karen explained. “[Writing] is what I want to get up and do every single day.”

As aspect of Karen’s work that she especially relishes is the opportunity to talk to school groups, whether about science, art, writing or some combination of the three. “I talk to thousands of kids a year. I do a lot of school visits,” Luckily for students and educators, AntarcticLog is available on Karen’s website with lesson plan ideas and a student poster contest.

How does she feel about her upcoming voyage? “I’m excited!” She explained, “I’ve been getting ready for a very long time. Physical qualifications went on for months. I have had every kind of blood test. [I’ve had] to prove I’m physically fit. They assess your skin. They do dental x-rays. They want to make sure nothing happens to you when you get there,” While she acknowledges that it will be hard to be away from her husband Mark and her children and grandchildren for two months, she knows they fully support her in this unique opportunity.

Karen is looking forward to the fact that once she leaves the darkness of the Antarctic winter in May, she’ll be returning in full Spring to a place she holds near to her heart. “I love Bethel. We moved here in 1994. People are kind. And, it’s full of ‘wags and eccentrics’, as the [P.T. Barnum] statue in front of the library says. I fit right in with that.”

Transportation Hearing

Allie-Brennan’s Request for
Public Hearing in Danbury Granted

Earlier this month, 2nd District State Assembly candidate Raghib Allie-Brennan sent a formal request to Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) Commissioner James P. Redeker asking that he schedule an additional public hearing in Danbury on proposed fare increases and service reductions to the Danbury Line. In

Richard W. Andreski, Commissioner of the Bureau of Public Transportation,  has granted Allie-Brennan’s request. The hearing is scheduled for Monday, February 26, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at Danbury City Hall, Council of Chambers, 155 Deer Hill Avenue. (Note: a public hearing date of March 5 has been reported in another news outlet. At this time, the February 26 date remains on the calendar at Danbury City Hall. I will confirm the date of this important hearing and publish it as soon as possible on hello, Bethel!‘s Facebook page.)

The full text of Commissioner Andreski’s letter is below:

Mr. Raghib Allie-Brennan
Dear Mr. Allie-Brennan,

Thank you for your letter dated February 1, 2018, regarding a request to add an additional public hearing in Danbury.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (Department) is holding a series of public hearings and informational meetings to gather input on the proposed bus and rail fare increases and service reductions. The proposed fare increases and service reductions are necessary due to a $60 million budget shortfall for transit and rail accounts. The implementation of any service and fare changes are subject to public input and contingent on action by the General Assembly to ensure the long­term solvency of the Special Transportation Fund which is supported by the gasoline tax and other revenues, and pays for transit and rail services.

The Department has considered your request and will offer an informational meeting in Danbury to gather input from the residents of Danbury, Bethel, Redding, and the surrounding areas. The informational meeting will be held at the Danbury City Hall, Council of Chambers, 155 Deer Hill Avenue, on Monday, February 26, 2018, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. If there is a need to cancel this meeting due to inclement weather, the snow date for this meeting will be Thursday, March 1, 2018. The time and location will remain the same.

The Department will present the proposed fare increases for bus, rail, and American with Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransit services. The Department will also present the proposed rail service reductions to the Danbury Line, Waterbury Line, New Canaan Line, Shore Line East, and minor service reductions to the New Haven Line.

The Department will accept comments on the proposed fare and service changes at the informational meeting. Written comments on the proposed fare and service changes must be An Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Employer received by March 9, 2018, and mailed to COMMENT ON PROPOSED FARE AND SERVICE CHANGES, Bureau of Public Transportation, P.O. Box 317546, Newington, CT 06131-7546 or emailed to

Thank you for your continued support of public transportation in Connecticut.

Richard W. Andreski