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2013: Lauretti Gets a 12th Term, and Shelton Gives a Christmas Tree

Shelton's tree at Rockefeller Center (Credit: The Huffington Post)
Shelton's tree at Rockefeller Center (Credit: The Huffington Post)
Business Boomed, all-day Kindergarten was rekindled, a Shelton Pine tree became the nation's Christmas Tree and a former city employee pleaded guilty to stealing about $1 million.

And in between, the mayor won his 12th two-year term.

The year in Shelton began with arrest of former Shelton assistant finance director for taking checks, voiding them, reissuing them and depositing them into her personal account.

According to her guilty plea, entered in October, she did this for nine years, but some crimes fell past the statute of limitations. The plea covers thefts from 2008-2012.

A fellow finance worker became suspicious when a voided check was spotted on Scanlon's desk. Scanlon eventually resigned.

Scanlon must make restitution and faces three to seven years in prison at her sentencing Jan. 16, 2014, in Milford Superior Court.

The city has an insurance policy and is trying to recover the money in other ways, Mayor Mark Lauretti has said.

Schools and Business

All day-kindergarten is again on the table for the 2014-2015 school year. While it will cost the district more money, advocates including parents and educators say the program will pay for itself and help attract families to Shelton.

The Board of Education is still putting together a budget proposal to be ready in February 2014.

Even if you don't attend schools in Shelton, there are more places to eat.

Verace unveiled its redesign while Center Street Social moved in, in addition to New Orleans-style food at Queen Zuri. A new age business, Dreaming of Isis, also opened at Center Street and Howe Ave.

On Bridgeport Avenue, the new Focaccia's Cafe and Catery offers fresh-baked goods, coffees, crepes and hot and cold sandwiches, while Asian Fusion has taken over the former Happy Family restaurant site. Happy Family had been there for 30 years.

Former New York restauranteurs Larry and Nia Wang run the Red Lotus in Shelton Square.

More assisted living also came to Shelton this year with Benchmark at Shelton Ridge. It will have 92 apartments – 72 traditional assisted living and 20 for those needing memory care. The site is near the Split Rock shopping center on Bridgeport Avenue.

The city also broke ground for a new animal shelter downtown, after years of planning. 

Elections

Mayor Mark A. Lauretti reclaimed the top seat for the 12th time, defeating Democratic Town Committee Chairman David Gioiello.

Gioiello said he would refuse a salary if taxes increased in 2014-2015, and called for more transparency in government.

Democrats also criticized Lauretti's administration for ordering all part-time workers' hours cut back to under 30 hours to avoid paying health insurance required under the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, Lauretti is seeking to qualify for public funding for a possible gubernatorial run.

Let It Snow

In response to issues raised by winter storms, the city hired former Bridgeport and Waterbury Fire Chief Michael Maglione as director of Public Safety and Emergency Services.

He started after Winter Storm Nemo, which dropped three feet of snow in the northeast, keeping people indoors and off the road for several days.

Maglione is a Shelton resident of 17 years.

Lauretti said Maglione would take over coordinating emergency efforts, something the mayor had been doing.

David Hasselhoff

The city attracted the attention of former "Baywatch" and "Knight Rider" star David Hasselhoff when a Cumberland Farms (River Road) clerk was dragged by an SUV.

Someone inside the truck had been trying to steal a David Hasselhoff sign.

The driver, Adam Holter, 19, of Applewood Lane, Milford, is charged with second-degree assault and reckless endangerment after he turned himself in. He is scheduled for a Jan. 10 appearance in Derby Superior Court.

The clerk has since been released from the hospital. While he was recuperating, Hasselhoff himself Tweeted that he was praying for the man.

Christmas Cheer

Rounding out the year on a happy note, a Shelton family's spruce is now sitting in Rockefeller Center as this year's Christmas Tree.

The 12-ton Norway Spruce is 75 years old, 76 feet tall and 47 feet in diameter. The Vargoshe family of Kazo Drive donated it.

It will stay up  through Jan. 7, and will be lit 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. every day.

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