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Support Rallies For The Horse Guard



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Support Rallies For The Horse Guard

By Kendra Bobowick

“This is not going to happen,” said State Representative DebraLee Hovey, regarding plans to potentially consolidate for financial reasons the state’s two horse guard units. The move could jeopardize the facility in Newtown. “This isn’t kosher with us,” she said.

The state’s other unit of the Governor’s Horse Guard is based in Avon.

Looking for solutions Wednesday afternoon were Newtown’s state representatives, Ms Hovey and Chris Lyddy, representatives from Avon and the governor’s office, Senator John McKinney, and former horse guard members, “brainstorming for substantial ways to save money if the military will just work with us,” Ms Hovey said.

By 5 pm after the meeting ended, she said, “We don’t have a solution. It’s complex.” She and others are considering ways the state might save money and resources “rather than eliminate the horse guard.”

Another of her looming concerns is what will happen to the land without the horse guard. “No one can tell us what will be there if the horse guard is not there. Newtown should be very worried about that.”

The site is currently budgeted for two-and-a-half employees, and an annual cost of less than $78,000 to staff and run. As of Wednesday afternoon, Ms Hovey said, “We’re asking the governor’s office for more information” as her team continues to “think of everything we can” as they “put together scenarios and go to the governor’s office with it.”

Ms Hovey also noted, “There is a question of whether the governor can do this through the budget rather than legislation.”

Also this week is a new message on the local horse guard’s website: “You can play a pivotal role in saving the Second Company Governor’s Horse Guard from elimination!” states the homepage in large red letters.

The site also makes the appeal: “Write, email, and call your local state representative and state senator! Let them know of your support for the 2GHG. Help us to continue our community mission and service to you...”

The horse guard represents more than 200 years of history for the state. Ms Hovey said that losing it “would not be a positive legacy” for children and grandchildren of future generations. In 200 years, “they have survived so many things,” she said. She hopes that common sense will prevail.

One longtime supporter, Ken Fay of Bethel, said, “There must be options other than: you’re out.”

Aware that current cost-saving measures propose merging the two horse guards in Newtown and Avon, he wondered if reasons were really financial. He asked, “Maybe someone does not want them there anymore.”

His biggest question is, “Why. Why do this?”

Discussing the horse guard’s history, service, and rural beauty, he said he wants “to let people know before it disappears in the middle of the night.” He asked, “What is the Army planning?”

Mr Fey believes that along with area representatives, supporters need to pose their own questions. He wants the governor’s office, for one to “let people voice their support and talk about this.”

He said, “Those horses are beautiful animals. Have you ever seen them up close? Some of them have been in service for more than 20 years.”

First Selectman Pat Llodra had said last week, “I think we have reason to be concerned.”

She worries for two reasons. “We don’t want to lose the horse guard,” she said. “State budget money saved is so small compared to losing that history.

“If there is a decision to consolidate and we lose the horse guard, we need to hold the state accountable,” Mrs Llodra said.

In light of recent demolition projects for two state-owned farmhouses along Wasserman Way, Mrs Llodra said, “[The houses] were viable when the state walked away.” Comparing the scenario to the horse guard, she said, “We can’t rely on the state to care for the facility.”

Again referring to the farmhouses, she said, “We have evidence that that they don’t take care of their properties.”

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