Long-Tenured Bee Public Safety, Land Use Reporter Retires
A familiar face and highly-regarded representative of The Newtown Bee and the Bee publishing Co, who was a fixture on the “Land Use” beat, and whose diligent response to public safety and police matters contributed to some of the most widely read content in the weekly newspaper, has retired after more than three decades of service to the community — capping a journalism career that spanned 45 years.
Andrew Gorosko, who first joined the local newspaper company as a reporter when it was publishing The Weekly Star in southern Litchfield County, officially hung up his camera and closed out the final page in his reporter’s notebook earlier this month. News of Gorosko’s departure generated a flurry of farewells and congratulations from those who knew and worked closely with him over the years.
Known for his often highly detailed explanations of sometimes complex zoning matters, legal issues, and law enforcement actions, Gorosko was remembered fondly by current First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, who first encountered the bespectacled reporter during Planning & Zoning Commission meetings back in the late 1990s.
“I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Andy all the way back to 1995 when I served for a term as an Alternate on the Planning and Zoning Commission,” Dan Rosenthal said.
At the time, Newtown was experiencing a dramatic increase in residential development applications so meetings frequently dragged on past midnight.
“Andy was always there from start to finish and many a night I recall walking out of the meeting with him and chatting on the way to our cars,” the now first selectman said. “More recently, when I was elected to the Police Commission in 2015, I had the good fortune to work with Andy again and then, of course, in my current capacity.
“I always found Andy to be friendly and respectful while he worked hard to get important information out to our residents,” Dan Rosenthal said. “I am happy for him as he moves into retirement and will most certainly miss him and offer my sincere congratulations on behalf of our community for a job well done.”
Similarly, long-time Director of Planning George Benson said he appreciated the level of detail and historical knowledge Gorosko was known for, and took particular pride in.
“Andy was a pleasure to work with, he always attended the Land Use commission meetings and reported them accurately and fairly,” Benson said. “Every article he wrote was thoroughly researched and investigated.”
The land use official said Gorosko always strived to understand and effectively communicate every angle of a land use beat story including their legal, technical, and scientific concepts.
“Andy especially enjoyed covering the stories involving the Land Use Agency environmental projects on the rivers and Taunton Lake,” Benson said. “We all wish Andy good luck and a happy retirement, we will miss him now that the commission meetings are back to in-person.”
P&Z Chairman and attorney Don Mitchell said he was both “sorry and glad” to learn of Gorosko’s retirement.
“Thirty-one years is a long time on the beat,” Mitchell said, noting he first came to know the reporter as he covered local Borough of Newtown matters.
“They can be boring and arcane for the most part, but Andy ran his stories to the ground to understand them from the bottom up and wrote of them in a comprehensible and understandable way,” Mitchell said. “He got across what others didn’t, and he made people look smarter in prose than they came across in real life — including me.”
Mitchell observed that because Gorosko kept himself out of the stories he wrote and didn’t interject his personal opinions, antidotes and observations that might otherwise resemble commentary would be rare.
“I’ll miss him on the beat and wish him the best in his retirement from The Bee,” Mitchell concluded.
Top Officials’ Recollections
Former First Selectman Pat Llodra remarked that when she recalled Gorosko, she was struck by “his unique style.”
“Much in the mode of Peter Falk of Columbo fame, I think of Andy as a complex of dualities: unsophisticated but perceptive; unassuming but persistent; pondering but insightful,” Llodra said. “Many, many times I observed him as an exceptional listener, gatherer of facts, with an ability to dig through the periphery of info to get to the nub of a question.”
Llodra said she always welcomed Gorosko in the municipal offices as he followed up on issues of interest.
“Never was present a sense of ‘gotcha’… just chasing the facts and putting together information that was important to share with the community of Newtown Bee readers,” she said. “A review of Andy’s articles show the good clarity in his writing; no spin, no tilt, no personal bias. Good work, Andy.”
Recalling another law enforcement character from television, former First Selectman Herb Rosenthal recalled Gorosko in his earliest days at the local newspaper.
“Before I was first selectman I was on the Board of Education, which he didn’t really cover. But I remember him because of his coverage of the police department and land use,” Herb Rosenthal said. “As first selectman, I always thought he was very much like Jack Webb, who played Sergeant Joe Friday — ‘just the facts, ma’am.’ Andy was a very accurate reporter, and you couldn’t really ever tell Andy’s opinion. It was clear he reported what happened, and I always appreciated that.”
The former first selectman also welcomed Gorosko to his office.
“We always got along, he was quiet, and when he asked questions that I did not want to comment on, Andy would often try again and again to get an answer,” Herb Rosenthal said. “But he was always good natured about it, and I never felt offended by him or anything he reported. I always felt he performed an important public service. I wish him well.”
While several current members of the Newtown Police force expressed their individual thoughts and congratulations, official sentiments were provided by Lieutenant and Public Information Officer (PIO) Aaron Bahamonde, and current Chief James Viadero who visited the newspaper's offices on June 11 to wish Gorosko well in person.
Viadero, who first met Gorosko as a Newtown resident and Police Commission member, honored the reporter with a distinguished service award, an NPD shoulder patch, and commemorative “challenge coin,” with an insignia that also memorialized the 12/14 tragedy.
Bahamonde acknowledged that he and other officers respected Gorosko’s meticulous pursuit of details, sometimes kidding him good naturedly when the reporter discovered minute errors in occasional accident reports and press releases.
“Andy will be missed. I first encountered Andy as a rookie back in 1993 — he was this guy who kept showing up taking pictures at accidents and some of the other officers explained that it was just Andy from The Bee,” Bahamonde said.
Over the years, the lieutenant said Gorosko became a fixture at the department, and by being there almost every day, he had an understanding about the way the police department functioned — and he gained the trust of many of the officers.
“When I became PIO, I ended up working a lot with Andy,” Bahamonde said. “He asked a lot of questions and was a stickler for details, even when he noticed a birthdate or address on a report appeared to have some type of mistake.
“He was good that way and had extensive knowledge. He was certainly the butt of some jokes and cop humor, but he definitely represented The Newtown Bee without any flashiness, like a lot of other media representatives are today.”
Bahamonde also noted that Gorosko was truthful in his writing, and similarly to his work in land use, could take complex or dry subject matter and articulate it in a way that was helpful to the newspaper’s readers.
“He did his job well for over 30 years, and he will be missed,” Bahamonde said. “He was our own Walter Cronkite, and as a member of The Newtown Bee, he holds a place in our hearts with our hometown paper keeping everybody up to date. There are not a lot of local papers like that.”
‘Doing His Job’
Former Fire Marshal, Sandy Hook Fire Chief, and long-time Emergency Management Director William Halstead also praised Gorosko for his dogged pursuit of accurate details that added important perspective to stories that frequently involved some type of small or significant tragedy.
“Andy was always on the story as soon as possible with a phone call or stopping by my office — or on the scene taking pictures,” Halstead recalled. “Andy asked many questions, sometimes too many, but he was just doing his job.”
Halstead said Gorosko would dig deep into what ever he was covering to find the whole story, sometimes asking similar questions many times, and taking more pictures than any other reporter that came to a scene.
“But he always had great pictures of his article,” Halstead said. “Andy was a great supporter of all the emergency services with great coverage, whether it was an emergency scene, a fundraiser, or a public service event — he was always there to cover it. Andy, enjoy your retirement, it is well deserved.”
Public Works Director Fred Hurley fielded many interviews around issues involving his busy department, and also dealt with Gorosko on matters involving the local Water Pollution Control Authority.
“Over the 30 years that I have known Andy, as a reporter and as a friend, I always found him relentless in getting all the facts, as any good reporter would,” Hurley said. “But, he was never intentionally confrontational in the conclusions to his stories. He always allowed the facts to tell the story for the reader. Then he left the conclusion up to them.”
Hurley and Gorosko were on opposite sides of important coverage during the birth, construction, and operational changes of sanitary sewers and how they have changed Newtown.
“Not always the most riveting topic, however, he had a knack of often taking some very complicated issues and putting them in a context that allowed the reader to understand what it meant or how it might affect them,” Hurley said. “Story telling is a gift and he has that gift.”
While becoming friendly with Hurley over more than 30 years, Hurley pointed out that Gorosko never lost his journalistic integrity.
“When it came to the business of what our department was doing right or doing wrong, he would question me the same as any other source or subject of a story. I think that was to be admired,” Hurley said. “Newtown has lost not just a good story teller but someone who could explain what was really going on for the community.
“Because he wrote so many sewer stories, he became known as ‘Pipes,’ but his interests and knowledge went way beyond that,” the public works chief concluded. “I truly will miss him for his conversations and his stories.”
A Bit About Andy
Gorosko came to Bee Publishing after several stints at daily newspapers following his graduation from UConn, including his rookie years as a correspondent at The Hartford Courant beginning in 1976, and a period with the Waterbury Republican and American, when the company published both a morning and afternoon paper.
It was at that time he also began developing his talent as a news photographer. After a dozen years engaged with the faster-paced world of larger daily papers, Gorosko said he welcomed the somewhat slower pace of reporting and shooting for weekly newspapers — which also allowed him more time to delve into greater story details and hone his unbiased style of explanatory journalism.
“That gave me the luxury of time so I could expand out the reportage — I didn’t have to work so fast and condense everything,” he said. “And the news holes were bigger, so I was able to write longer, sometimes 20 or 30-inch stories. I found it gratifying that I could give the reader a pretty full picture. Not just what happened, but what did it mean — not with opinion, but with news analyses, which gave it some context.”
Since it was completed in 1992, Gorosko was the only Bee reporter dedicated to covering the Garner Correctional facility, and recalled reporting on a serious prison riot, and a pair of high profile prisoner escapes during that time. And while other Bee staff members were on the front lines, Gorosko contributed volumes of follow-up reports in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy.
He equally enjoyed helping readers understand things like developments with the growing local sewer and road systems in town, and countless land use, environmental, and conservation activities. Reflecting on his own tenure in Newtown, Gorosko commented that both colleagues and management at The Bee were “Reasonable, fair, and supportive.”
At the same time, his editor and publisher at the newspaper were more than appreciative of Gorosko’s talents, professionalism, and dedication.
Editor Nancy Crevier said in her 11 years as features reporter she came to develop a great respect for Andy’s devotion to journalism, and had great admiration for his attention to details and mastery of the English language.
“When I assumed the position of Editor in 2016, I knew that Andy’s articles would be practically ready for print as submitted, accurate, and complete with background for any reader who may not have been familiar with a particular issue,” Crevier said. “I have missed our early morning chats, with COVID precautions keeping him out of the office; his insights and opinions — the only times they crept in — were enlightening, humorous, and always interesting. I wish him only the best in retirement.”
Publisher R. Scudder Smith and wife, Helen described Gorosko as “a most faithful and loyal reporter who covered all aspects of Newtown’s development for the last 32 years.”
“He spent endless hours at town meetings and tirelessly followed all the real estate developments and all changes of regulations, which he accurately published in The Bee,” Scudder Smith said. “He was always on top of everything and he could answer any question about a specific project in detail without going to his notes. Information was well kept in his head.”
Like Smith himself who was no stranger to police and responders at emergency scenes, he recognized Gorosko for his thorough coverage of police activities, “going to many motor vehicle accidents with camera dangling from his shoulder and weekly checking the police blotter for untoward happenings in the town.”
Smith noted that Gorosko’s office was piled high with papers, “which he could turn to, if needed, to come up with anything he had written and had been published in The Bee.”
“We wish Andy good luck in his new venture into retired life,” both Scudder and Helen Smith said. “He will be missed at The Bee.”
Reach Associate Editor John Voket at firstname.lastname@example.org.