Join us at noon on Jan. 20 at the steps of Milford City Hall in solidarity with other Milford residents who are ready to make a personal and public commitment to uphold the values of fairness, honesty, integrity, tolerance and respect.

As a community and as a country we face challenges and opportunities:

The work of fostering a community and country that embraces diversity and encourages personal fulfillment through equal opportunity continues;

the need to do more to end homelessness and hunger;

the reality of climate change cannot be ignored and all of us must do our part to protect our environment;

our schools and educators need our support— democracy cannot survive without an educated population;

and we must never forget that it is up to each of us, in our daily lives, to act with honesty and compassion.

It is the urgency of these challenges and the hope for a better world for our children that calls us to come together.

Let’s make a statement on Jan. 20 that Milford stands for democratic values and affirm that we are willing to work every day to make this a fairer, healthier and more just community and country.

This event is not about an election nor is it an opportunity for mere protest; it’s about how we can do our part — on behalf of our community and our children — to counter ignorance and hate, and most importantly, to push back against cynicism and apathy.

“The worst thing that can happen in a democracy — as well as in an individual’s life — is to become cynical about the future and lose hope.”

— Hillary Clinton

This event will start at noon and conclude at 1. You can visit our Facebook page: MilfordSpeaksOut.

Susan Shaw Jeanne Cervin Milford

This is in response to Robert Sheahan’s letter about Charles Island and the trees dying.

The situation on Charles Island and that of his letter’s link (from California) reflect two different causes of trees dying.

I am a member of Connecticut Audubon Society and wanted to investigate the cause of the tree deterioration.

The following facts are regarding the conditions of the trees on Charles Island, the herons and egrets, which nest there, and the fencing and abundance of deer.

The presence of the nesting herons and egrets on Charles Island is not the cause of the tree deterioration.

The trees on Charles Island were infected with a soil fungus (Armillaria) that severely damaged their roots and some trees were killed outright. In addition, there were many invasive species including Eurasian bittersweet and mile-a-minute vine, which further weakened the trees.

The deer density on Charles Island in 2010, had reached the equivalent of over 1,500 deer per square mile, which effectively eliminated any natural regeneration.

Efforts to correct these issues were progressing well until Hurricanes Irene and Sandy hit, and devastated the island’s vegetation.

Use of the island by several state threatened heron and egret species was in jeopardy. These birds did not cause the death of the trees.

After Hurricane Sandy, dead and downed trees were removed and restoration efforts began.

Many native trees have been planted, including salt-tolerant and fungus resistant ones. These efforts require deer-exclusion fencing until the trees become established.

New trees will take time to grow. Both Charles Island and Silver Sands State Park support a diversity of birds and wildlife in Connecticut as well as many birds migrating through and hopefully will continue to do so.

— Beverly Propen Orange

A live letter from Robert Sheahan of Milford about Charles Island and his concerns, reminded me of the closure of Charles Island and Long Beach in Stratford to protect the piping plover.

I personally feel the piping plover should not take preference over taxpaying humans during the prime vacation periods of the season.

Charles Island and Long Beach in Stratford have been designated off limits to people during prime summer months and I don’t feel this is appropriate. I used to enjoy the walk to the Island and the walk around the shores but I can no longer do that because the state is overly concerned about nesting piping plovers. This has been in effect for many years now.

I have no ill feelings for the plovers but I’m sure with all the shoreline in Connecticut they can find other satisfactory areas to nest. I know the Connecticut DEEP feels they are doing the correct thing but I don’t agree and I feel more investigation is necessary to find other areas for the piping plover to nest and turn the island and Short Beach back to the humans.

— Jim Taradine Shelton

The Amity Teen Center would like to thank the Friends of the Orange Library for a recent donation of books suitable for teens. We are in the process of establishing another book club this year.

We had a book club last year and it was a big success. Through this donation of books, we received several books of the same title. This will enable the teens who want to participate in the club to begin reading the book at the same time. They will be loaned out to the teens and returned after they have been read.

Also, through this donation, the Teen Center will have our own “library” where teens can browse through our books and borrow them as they like. We currently have a room with computers that have been donated, but we have always wanted to have a “library” of our own. Now, thanks to the Friends of the Orange Library, we are on our way to reaching this goal!

— Jane Opper, Linda Cohen and Jennifer DiBlanda Amity Teen Center, Inc. Orange

I have been following your coverage of the Jewish Community Center fire; thanks to Pam McLoughlin for her fine work. Thanks, too, to the communities whose firefighters responded to this devastating fire; hope the injured are well.

As the former director of marketing, advertising and publicity for the JCC when it first opened in Woodbridge, I remember the enormous public interest in our opening week: more than 10,000 people passed through our doors on opening day alone.

Ever since, the JCC has fulfilled its role of welcoming everyone, from tot to senior adult, for an enormous variety of activities, at a single location — a real boon for working families.

With the center now split, once again — as it was before the new building opened — into satellite facilities, the task now is to maintain a sense of community and support for the duration of the rehabilitation work.

Having experienced that task first-hand, knowing the quality of staff at the JCC, and knowing the type of “can-do” people in lay leadership who are putting their efforts forward ... I have little doubt that it will be successful.

#ISupportTheJCC — and I always will.

— RL McKee New York, New York

As we traveled through the various cities and towns in Connecticut, we saw tastefully done holiday displays featuring Christmas trees, menorahs, and other decorations that symbolize the holiday season.

Except Woodbridge. Sadly, the tree that greeted visitors in the center of town remained dark this year. Ironically on Christmas Day, a menorah was put up and lit, but it was barely visible.

Every year for as long as I can remember, the Christmas tree was decorated and lit by the Volunteer Fire Department, but this year they didn’t light it, nor did they inform anyone that they wouldn’t so that the town could have made alternative plans. It’s not that difficult a task.

I know the Fire Department is capable of such a simple job, since they raise thousands of dollars for their Truck or Treat Halloween event, highlighted by a fireworks display, which takes a lot of planning. So this year, Woodbridge had a massive fireworks display on Halloween lasting 30 minutes, but was not capable of lighting a Christmas tree which all residents and visitors can enjoy for the entire holiday season. That’s truly embarrassing.

It is my hope that in the future, the town will see to it that our display once again celebrates the holiday season as it should.

— Matthew T. Giglietti Woodbridge

On behalf of the board of directors, staff and especially the residents and clients of the Beth-El Center shelter and soup kitchen, I want to thank those members of the Greater Milford community for their incredible spirit of giving over the holidays.

We are always grateful for the outpouring of generosity throughout the year, but the holiday season brings such an amazing reflection of the bigheartedness of this “Small City with a Big Heart.”

The expressions of giving were astonishing, from those who “adopted” a resident or family in the shelter to the faith communities, individuals and businesses who donated food, paper goods, gift cards, and monetary donations, our center was truly blessed.

This time of year especially, when the efforts of so many ensure that our residents and clients have a happy holiday season, warms our hearts.

As the staff here can attest, the blessings are countless and, with the help of so many, we were able to make some wishes come true for those in need and to provide hope for a brighter future.

Thank you so very much for all you do throughout the year and particularly during the holiday season. We wish everyone a wonderful new year filled with peace and joy.

— Toni Dolan Beth-El Center executive director, Milford

Thanks to the generosity and support from the community, the holidays were made brighter for Woodbridge seniors and families who received food baskets and gifts.

The staff of the Human Services Department sincerely thanks the Woodbridge Rotary Club for hosting the annual holiday party for the seniors at the Woodbridge Senior Center.

We also sincerely thank the students and faculty of the Alternative High School, the Beecher Road School Social Action Committee, Amity Middle School-Bethany Campus PTO, Bethany Community School, Woodbridge Library employees, Woodbridge Child Day Care Center, Amity Teen Center, Woodbridge Moms, employees of Woodbridge Town Hall, Christ Episcopal Church, Girl Scout Troop 60164, One of a Kind Foundation, Amity High School SADD Group, New England Young at Heart, Coldwell Banker of Woodbridge, employees and partners of Bailey, Moore, Glazer, Schaefer & Proto, LLP, and Surreybrook School and patrons of Woodbridge Town Library for their generous contributions of holiday food baskets.

We thank the Children’s House of Montessori for hats, mittens and scarves.

Thanks also to Progressions Salon for sponsoring a sock drive, Boy Scout troops 41, 63 and 907 and Pack 902 Webelos, for bountiful donations of nonperishable foods for the holiday food baskets and emergency food closet.

Special thanks to Arti Dixson Productions for the bountiful toys donated.

Several dedicated members of the Woodbridge Fire Department delivered toys to children in need in Woodbridge. They brightened the holidays for several families with a visit from Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elves. These committed volunteers from the Fire Department generously volunteer their time each year to bring cheer and joy to these children and their families.

For all they do, we are grateful.

In addition, we would like to thank the many residents who donated toys in the collection boxes at the Woodbridge Library and Senior Center for TEAM Inc.

Also, to the many individuals who donated, we are thankful.

On behalf of the staff and members of the Human Services Commission, we wish everyone a very, happy and joyous New Year.

— Mary Ellen LaRocca Director of Human Services, Woodbridge

President Barack Obama just allowed the U.N. to sanction Israel in contradiction to many years of American policy and despite the objections of most of Congress.

It now seems clear that the president who saw the genocide in Aleppo and did nothing, the president who saw Assad massacre his people while using germ warfare and did nothing, the president who saw Russia move into Ukraine and did nothing — is now moved to do something and to act against the only democracy in the Middle East.

Apparently under Obama it is better to be America’s enemy than friend: enemies get rewarded and friends punished. Sanctions are lifted against Iran — the primary supporter of worldwide terrorism and sanctions are levied against Israel — the victim of Islamic terrorism.

Something is rotten here.

— Elaine Albom Braffman Woodbridge

In a recent letter criticizing those advocating for Connecticut to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, Michael Maturo claims that they “should be more concerned with the desires, interests, and opinions of their (Connecticut) constituents.”

In doing so, he argues that Connecticut benefits from “a small but deliberate bias in favor of less populous states.”

Yet, Maturo fails to realize that Connecticut’s interests are scarcely represented in the Electoral College, as candidates focus their energies on swing states, not less populous states. Connecticut’s votes — and its interests —are taken for granted. Heeding the advice of National Popular Vote advocates like Sen. Mae Flexer is not only equitable — it will help put Connecticut’s interests first. In a national popular vote, when every vote counts and counts equally, candidates will refocus their attention on states with greater population density. Connecticut, the fourth-most densely populated state, would obviously benefit from this.

While Maturo worries that New York and New Jersey would get all the attention, a renewed focus on densely populated regions would spur new investments that benefit the entire Northeast. Imagine a high-speed rail line connecting the Northeast corridor: projects like this would benefit many citizens in Connecticut and neighboring states. These projects would make wiser use of the nation’s tax dollars than the current system, which disproportionately rewards swing states with 7 percent more federal grant funding than “spectator” states and double the presidential disaster declarations. The Electoral College is broken. Nearly 3 million votes cast for the nation’s highest office, including over 200,000 in Connecticut, didn’t count because they were cast on the wrong side of state lines. Fixing the College and correcting this inequity can serve both the national interest — through better allocation of funds — and Connecticut’s interests — by putting it back on the electoral map.

— Steven Winter New Haven