Once Around the City: Meet and Greet

Billy Blanks Jr. has been hired as the artistic director for the Wall Street Theater.
Billy Blanks Jr. has been hired as the artistic director for the Wall Street Theater.

NORWALK, Conn. — The League of Women Voters of Norwalk annual Meet and Greet, a public meeting on an historic building slated for demolition, an artistic director for the Wall Street Theater and a chance to learn about the Federal Rails Administration plans for the Northeast Corridor.

Meet and Greet

You can talk informally with your elected officials and members of Norwalk’s Boards and Commissions from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at the First Congregational Church on the Green, located at Park and Lewis Streets (parish hall-rear entrance), at the annual League of Women Voters of Norwalk meet and greet.

“Make a New Year’s resolution to introduce yourself to someone new!” a League press release suggested.

Peggy Reeves,  Asst. to the Secretary of the State for Elections, Legislative & Intergovernmental Affairs, will give a brief talk about the integrity of elections in Connecticut at 4 p.m.

“How do we know our elections are not ‘rigged’?  Why does voter ID continue to be a hot-button issue?  How was the U.S. Department of Homeland Security involved in the 2016 election?” the press release asked, going on to explain that Reeves will answer questions.

Reeves is responsible for overseeing the Secretary of the State’s Legislation and Election Administration Division, and serves as liaison between the Secretary of the State’s Office and municipalities throughout the state, other branches of Connecticut state government, and the federal government, the release said.  She is an attorney, a past president of the Wilton League of Women Voters, and a former Wilton Registrar of Voters.

The League will also present awards to three of its scholarship winners, who are now attending college: Vanessa Giraldo, Brien McMahon High School class of 2016; Sarah Joseph, Norwalk High School class of 2015; and Cara Rose Trimboli, Norwalk High School class of 2016.

Giraldo is studying art and design at Connecticut College and has been accepted to a summer 2017 workshop at the International Center for the Arts in Monte Castello di Vibio, Italy.

Joseph, who is studying math and science at Norwalk Community College, is the founder of NCC’s Women in STEM association and won first place in the 2016 Entrepreneurial Idea Pitch Competition.

“Joining the League of Women Voters…gave me a privilege that almost a century ago would have been unfathomable for a young black woman….I learned about women’s empowerment, leadership ethic and collaborative effort to bettering our nation,” Joseph said in the release.

She also underscored the importance of participating in the electoral process: “Voting gives resounding voice to the people, the ability to comprehend the nation we live in and serve as a contributing factor to its dynamic,” according to the release.

Trimboli is in her first year at Southern Connecticut State University with the career goal of becoming a corporate comptroller or finance director.

The League reports that another scholarship winner, Josseline Zuniga (BMHS ’15), is in her second year at New York University, majoring in Political Science with a double minor in Latin American Studies and Business Studies.  This month she will be flying to Buenos Aires for a semester-long internship with a political organization in Argentina.  Last summer she interned in the Norwalk-Wilton Probate Court.

“I would like to thank the ladies in the League of Women Voters, along with anyone else in the room that has extended their hand to me, for all of their support, and I wish this group the very best in all of their efforts.  And to the new scholarship recipients, good luck with everything,” Zuniga said in the release.

Light refreshments will be served.

“Schedule conflict?  No problem!  Drop in or duck out any time 3 – 5 as your schedule permits,” the release said.

Historical Commission to discuss Flax Hill home

The Norwalk Historical Commission is holding a public meeting in regards to the request for a stay of demolition for 319 Flax Hill Road by the Norwalk Preservation Trust, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30, in the Mill Hill Historic Park Town House, located at 2 East Wall St.

Billy Blanks Jr. named Wall Street Theater artistic director

Billy Blanks Jr., a dancer, director and choreographer, has been hired to the artistic director for the Wall Street Theater, effective Feb. 1.

“We are both delighted and excited to have Billy join us in this important leadership role for the theater and the community. His direction will help to shape the theater into a extraordinary creative space where talents can grow and flourish through this innovative performing arts space,” said Suzanne Cahill, Wall Street Theater president, in a press release.

“Self taught and working professionally from his youth, Billy gained much exposure and experience in the world of dance and entertainment,” the release said.  “As Billy’s notoriety grew, he earned roles as a dancer in music videos with Paula Abdul, Madonna, Crystal Method, Quincy Jones, and Babyface. His credits also include TV appearances on American Dreams with Alicia Keys, The Practice, Sister Sister, Kids Incorporated, Homeboys From Outer Space, My Cousin Skeeter, and The Tonight Show. Billy starred as Tyrone Jackson in the US and Europe touring company of the Broadway musical Fame. Billy went on to direct and choreograph the WeSparkle Take II Celebrity Concert with Tom Hanks, Jason Alexander, Brian Cranston, Joey Lawrence, Britney Spears, Michael Chiklis, Hal Sparks, the cast of Will & Grace, and more. As well, Billy has his own television show in development with the ‘Z Living Network.’”

The release continued:

“Billy has become the face for the new generation of fitness. He made history on the hit TV show Shark Tank after turning down a deal proposed by Mark Cuban and Daymond John when the latter shark left the tank and talked Billy into taking the deal. The result was to become the successful business Dance It Out® (DIO®) the fastest growing fitness based dance program in the United States.

“Billy comes from a fitness family, his father and mother are the creators of Tae Bo®. Billy’s program Dance It Out® is now in the US, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Belgium, Mexico, and The Netherlands and continues to grow with his amazing Master Trainers dedication. DIO® has been seen on Dr. Oz, Ellen, Meredith Vieria Show, The View, ABC, NBC, FOX, Ruby, Home And Family, The Hallmark Channel, So You Think You Can Dance, and more.

“In October 2015, Billy and his mother Gayle H. Blanks launched the MoveTube Network. Billy has produced and directed over 300 plus feel good workouts, motivational content, and other inspirational videos featuring today’s hottest YouTubers, dancers, fitness legends, and celebrities. Billy is the proud dad of his 13-year-old son Elijah.

“‘I am ecstatic to have been appointed the Artistic Director of the historic Wall Street Theater and have some exciting plans to make this theater into one of the most unique venues in the U.S.,’ said Billy.

“Under Billy’s direction and In collaboration with the board of directors and theater management theatergoers can look forward to experiencing Broadway touring productions, concerts, original shows, dance and fitness events, community and children’s programming.  For programming inquiries Billy can be contacted at: [email protected].”

Federal Rails Administration offering webinar 

If you want to learn more about the Federal Rails Administration long range plans for the Northeast Corridor, which includes a second railroad route through Norwalk, you might travel to Baltimore on Wednesday.

Or, maybe, you’ll tune into a webinar in a couple of weeks.

FRA is holding an informal public meeting on the NEC FUTURE Preferred Alternative and Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the University of Baltimore. This is not a public hearing; rather it is a chance for the FRA to share information and answer questions in an informal setting. The open house will not include a formal presentation or an opportunity for public testimony.

Easier to get to are a pair of virtual meetings (webinars) on Monday, Feb. 13 and Thursday, Feb. 16, from 7 to 8 p.m. Go to the FRA website to register.

The FRA will accept and review feedback on the NEC FUTURE Tier 1 Final EIS until the publication of the ROD (Record of Decision), which is not anticipated prior to March 1.


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