In June of 2000 the
National Civics League recognized the Lower Naugatuck Valley (Ansonia,
Beacon Falls, Derby, Naugatuck, Oxford, Seymour and Shelton) as an "All-America
City" for 2000. It was only one of 10 in the nation to win the honor.
To be designated, an "All-American City" is truly an honor,
but is something that we have known all along.
Each community was judged on three endeavors,
one of which had to have a focus on youth. The Valleys entry highlighted
the initiatives taken in recent years to address its most pressing needs:
Cooperation between the seven towns has been slowly growing since 1994.
In 1998, the nonprofit development corporation, Alliance for Growth, was
created. The judges in Louisville learned that new bus routes have been
created to connect people to jobs, 34 companies have expanded or been
attracted to the Valley with economic incentives, and the Valley, as of
last December, had its lowest jobless rate in 30 years.
A high number of Valley residents do not have medical insurance. Some
disease rates were higher than state averages. The federal government
identified three of the towns as medically under served. In response,
Co-N-E-C-T, a collaboration of 16 organizations, was founded to assess
the Valleys health. Of the more than 2,200 people already screened,
more than 500 have been referred to medical and social services agencies.
Eight years after an April 1991 fire destroyed the Boys and Girls Club,
a new club opened last year on a reclaimed factory site. An unprecedented
$4.5 million was raised to build it. The club provides, each day, a safe
haven where some 400 children and teenagers can learn and play.
The All-America City
award gives national recognition to the lower Naugatuck Valleys
rejuvenation. But the community efforts across seven towns borders
are what make the Valley a good place to live and work. The Valley is
emerging as a strong and healthy part of the state, a place with a single
geographic identity that works together as a true community
Source: New Haven Register, June 11,
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