Learn more about in-home care options for your loved ones

Given the choice, most of us want to stay in our homes. Sometimes, people need help to remain at home. That's where Always Best Care Senior Services comes in.

Personal Care Consultation


“I’ve been a nurse for over 40 years, and I am currently a nursing professor. When my mom was recently in the hospital, I knew it would not be possible for her to be completely on her own right away. She loves where she resides and enjoys all of the activities that are offered. My goal was to get her back into her apartment as soon as possible with the support she needed to increase her strength and return to her prior level of wellness she had before she went into the hospital. She was used to walking a couple miles a day. When I reached out to ABC I made it clear that my mom would need somebody who would be willing to walk with her in the morning, and in the evening enabling her to get back to her baseline. I would like to complement all of the staff at ABC who provided my mom such wonderful support after two weeks she returned to her baseline and remained in her apartment. She really enjoyed all of the staff that were with her , they were professional they encouraged her to walk, drink fluids, eat and were instrumental in assisting her to reach her prior level of independence. I would strongly recommend ABC to anybody who is in need of support for their loved one.”

Robin Y.

“Mom’s care needs have been progressing over the past month - increased difficulty standing. walking, decreased appetite, increased incontinence. (Part of the expected declining process per her Dr.) Tara has been wonderful in adapting to Mom’s changing needs as they develop and a very helpful partner in troubleshooting. brainstorming how to adapt to best support Mom. It’s also been helpful in my regular communication with Mom’s Dr, to let her know in detail what has come up and how we have approached. Thank you (again) for your talented staff!”

Jeremy H.

“Outstanding personal service from this company. All of the caregivers were personable and provided outstanding care to our aunt. I would highly recommend them to anyone who has an elder family member in need. Also, the staff that helped to set up their services was outstanding as well. They made the decisions easy to understand with no hidden agenda. Thank you again to "ABC!"”


“You can't go wrong with this crew. Extremely patient and caring.”

Daniel S.

“Caring for family can be difficult and challenging at times. It's so nice to know that Always Best Care Senior Services is there to help!”

Cathy K.

“Taylor, John, and Kristine and their crew are the best. They are patient, understanding, and a joy to work with.”

Daniel S.

“Sabina always has a pleasant, caring, and respectful attitude. I feel she treats me as she would as her own mother. She treats me the way she would like to be treated. We are a good “team” together.”

Tracy H.

“Diana has a total commitment of compassion, empathy, and respect for myself and my family. My daughters feel she is truly a tremendous caregiver. They know I am in good hands. She acknowledges with commitment of my physical, emotional, and practical needs, my quality of life has excelled due to Diana’s help. I look forward to her presence everyday her attitude is exceptional, Diana comes to work daily with a smile on her face. She enters the front door, singing softly ready to work. She has never taken a day off, I have had many caregivers, but Diana is truly the best!”

Anne H.

“Tina has been with us since the start, caring for my mom. Tina has nothing but my mom’s best interest at heart. She continues to go above and beyond to care for my mom, and ensure anyone else who may be there also understands my mom’s needs. Tina has even gone so far to rearrange her schedule or give up her free time to stay with my mom to avoid her having someone that doesn’t know her. I can see that she genuinely cares for my mom, and treats her as if she was her own family member. That also goes both ways, my mom lights up when she sees Tina. We consider Tina part of our family.”

David L.

“Always Best Care helped our family get through a very difficult time with my mother's care. Kristine and Taylor are a pleasure to work with. They are very knowledgable and had the answers to all our questions. They were able to help with all aspects of the care we needed. I highly recommend them.”

John S.

“Kristine and John are extremely caring and compassionate about helping their client's and family and making sure they receive the best care available. Highly recommended!”

Greg G.

“We needed some home care services for Dad who has dementia, and we made the right decision to trust ABC Senior Services for this support. Dad was lined up with a caregiver who was attentive and helpful, and she and Dad really hit it off. The management and administrative staff from ABC were also very effective and professional. You'll make a good decision to go with ABC Senior Services...”

Liam M.

“I approached Kristine regarding care for my elderly father. Even though he was outside her service area, she helped to find resources for us. Her commitment to providing outstanding care is only surpassed by her desire to help others. Thank you Kristine!”

Matt B.

“I have known Kristine Lajeunesse for many years now through business networking and she and her Team at Always Best Care are very caring and professional and exactly who you would want on your side if you have a loved one who needs help!”

Ann B.

“The client care at Always Best Care Senior Service is outstanding”

Kimberly O.

“Rosemary has many great qualities. She is a hardworker, sensitive, has a giving nature and has an immense desire to help my father. Reliability is vital trait in Rosemary. When my father was in the hospital and came home she immediately wanted to be by his side. My father has come to rely and depend on Rosemary. She is always on time whether it is giving medication or administering food and often encourages my father and helps my father maintain his dignity”

Denise D.

“Always Best Care provides caregivers to our building on a regular basis when we are short staffed. Due to our licensing, we can only have CNAs on the floor and Always Best Care has provided excellent CNAs every time we need some extra help. All of their CNAs have been helpful, willing to go above and beyond for our residents and we always have great responses from our own CNAs and supervisory staff. I am so thankful to Michelle and Wilda who will always staff a shift that I need, even if I call 30 minutes before the shift starts. You’ve been such a huge help!”

Kaytee S.

“I have known John and Kristine Lajeunesse for almost 20 years and when my dad needed care following a diagnosis of dementia, I knew there wouldn’t be anyone better to call than them. The caregivers that have worked with my dad have been wonderful. They are true saints to my family, allowing us the knowledge that Dad is okay to stay at home. They have navigated all of the changes in his cognitive state with grace and kept my father’s dignity in place. He was always a very active man and the caregivers have managed to keep him active, even as his health declines.”

Belinda F.

“Always Best Care helped me to get care lined up for my uncle, after I received their information from a close friend of mine that also used their agency. My uncle was a very proud man and did not want help from anyone, including family. Taylor met with me and spent time getting to know the ins and outs of my uncle’s care as well as his personality. She asked about his background so that they could look for a caregiver with similar interests. Although he took a turn for the worse rather quickly, the short time care was provided was wonderful. Thank you for your help and compassion.”

Karel O.

“My dad’s caregiver is great. He is a man of few words, but she is able to get him talking about all aspects and experiences of his life. They go out regularly and she encourages my dad to participate in the activities put on by the community he lives in. They run errands, go out for meals, or go for a drive just to get a change of scenery. I was nervous at first about how my dad would take having a caregiver come in to help him, but he seems so happy and has great things to talk about after his time spent with his caregiver.”

Martin F.

“Thank you, Kristine - I am very appreciative of the professional manner with which you and your organization operates. From the initial phone and in-person conversations with Taylor, to the ongoing support of my mother's care - it's been thorough, timely and well managed. I am also struck by how the home-health employees conduct themselves. They are reliable/responsive *and* responsible, and making every effort to work through the challenges day to day with my mother. Thanks for the great job you and your organization are doing. It means a lot to me, especially during this trying time! Best Regards”

Anna T.

“I wanted to take a moment to thank you and your staff for all of your hard work and dedication to their clients. When my parents finally realized they needed help in their home, I chose ABC as the company I felt would be the best fit. Yes, we have had some ups and down, but when you paired Leah with my parents, it was truly a blessing. My parents love her. She genuinely cares for them and they speak highly of her work ethic. As my mom says, “she is too good to be true”. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your working with me to find the right fit. Well on our end, Leah fits like a glove and I hope she feels the same. She is a special person so I wanted to acknowledge her hard work and dedication to my parents. It makes me feel more at ease knowing there is someone coming to the home to properly care for them. Again I want to thank you all and encourage you to keep up the good work.”

Craig F.

“My family provides the care to my mother 24/7, we called Always Best Care to provide respite care to my mom while we took some time to ourselves for a weekend. Mom’s caregiver, Gloria, was great and she had the perfect disposition to work with my mom. She was attentive and kept mom well fed and engaged during the time we were away. We would definitely call Always Best Care again when we need some time away.”


“The caregiver that helped my husband and I were so kind to us both, especially to my husband while I spent some time in the hospital and rehab. Our caregiver brought my husband to see me every day while I was at the hospital and at rehab, I knew he was in excellent hands and I could focus on getting stronger again.”

Heather R.

“i really like my caregiver, Victor very much. Victor is a very patient and observant aide who knows when I need his help. I knew from the first day meeting him that we would get along very well.”

Johnson L.

““I want to give a huge thank you for the care that Always Best Care provided over the last year and a half. They started out assisting just my dad since he was wheelchair bound and then began providing care to my mom as well who had advanced dementia. The two ladies that helped them both did an amazing job and gave me the confidence that they were being well cared for since I live on the other side of the country. Up to my dad’s passing, his caregivers were there for him to provide comfort and companionship while managing my mom’s emotions as well during the difficult time my dad had. Being a nurse myself and in the healthcare field for a while, I had high expectations which were exceeded by the caregivers and office staff of Always Best Care.”

harry B.

“Both of Mom’s caregivers are exceptional. They are always professional, calm and extremely patient with my mom. They know how to keep her calm and to manage her anxiety. My whole family is very grateful, knowing that Mom is getting really competent care, great meals and friendly companionship. Thank you.”

Kathleen F.

“My husband had care from Always Best Care until he passed away. Thankfully he is on his "next journey" and finally pain free, while he was here with us, his caregiver, Craig, did an amazing job caring for him and was here to help us from our first day of services. Craig always managed to get my husband to share stories from his time in the war that even I had not heard before. It was a great way to get to know more of my husband so his memory can continue with others around him.”

Beth F.

“I am very pleased with the care that Craig gave to my husband. My husband enjoyed having another man to talk to instead of conversation only between him and I. Craig managed to keep him occupied and safe so that I could go and get some time to myself, allowing me peace of mind that my husband was in great hands”

Sonia T.

“I hired Always Best Care to help my mom who was living with me at home. She was diagnosed with dementia and within 3 months she could hardly do much for herself anymore. I was able to continue working full time while my mom received care from Always Best Care. We had the same caregiver from day 1 and she was absolutely amazing. She kept everyone in the loop with any changes my mom experienced and the regular in person and phone check ins were a great added support to myself and my family. Thank you ABC for all the help and compassion that you showed my mom until her passing.”


“They are very caring and easy to deal with. They work with the family and the patient to see that the patient has what is needed for their care. In all we had a good experience with Best Care.”

Elaine G.

“Our caregiver is the absolute best, you all got lucky finding her.”

Bob G.

“Anything from Always Best Care is good to have. The care from them has given me my life back. I wasn’t expecting a perfect match on the first caregiver, but Always Best Care did a very good job.”

Claudia B.

“We have been using the services of ABC for almost three years, and I have worked personally with John, Kristine, Taylor, Michelle and Wilda, as well as the many wonderful caregivers who have attended to my mother’s needs with great care and attention. Throughout this time, my mother’s care needs have changed many times, and they have always been very responsive to any requests, including the directives of the hospice nurses that work in concert with all of them. Taylor and Michelle are incredibly diligent about keeping on top of issues that arise day-to-day, and running their questions and concerns by me. I remain a loyal customer to ABC because I feel that my mother is getting really great care, and will continue to see the warm, friendly faces she has come to know and trust today and every day. At 94 yrs old, my mother is quite dependent on the care providers for almost all her needs, and they always show up and make her feel safe and secure.”

Rachel C.

“It has been a true pleasure working with you and your organization. You all demonstrate empathy and compassion in caring for frail elderly family members and insure distant families are comforted knowing you are there.”

Steve S.

“Mom’s caregiver is a part of the family, we absolutely love her!”

Joe L.

“Always Best Care has done a fantastic job in providing us with at-home care for my step-mother while we prepared for her transition to move permanently to a skilled nursing facility. With their help, she was able to spend a full six months at home before moving. We would not have been able to do it without them. All the caregivers we have met and used have been kind and attentive, frequently going the extra mile, whatever that may be on any given day. The office staff is friendly, empathetic and very diligent in keeping all parties informed of all aspects of day-to-day care. They are knowledgeable, respectful and efficient. I would not hesitate in recommending them to anyone who is looking for help in keeping their loved one at home for as long as possible.”

Sarah C.

“I appreciate that they always accommodate me and have someone here to drive me, even if I only call them the day before. I’m so glad I was able to find them, because I didn’t know what I was going to do. I just lost my sister and she helped me out a lot.”

Donna .

“I appreciate that they always accommodate me and have someone here to drive me, even if I only call them the day before. I’m so glad I was able to find them, because I didn’t know what I was going to do. I just lost my sister and she helped me out a lot.”

Janey B.
 In-Home Care Cromwell, CT

How does In-home Senior Care in Cromwell, CT work?

Home is where the heart is. While that saying can sound a tad cliche, it's especially true for many seniors living in America. When given a choice, older adults most often prefer to grow older at home. An AARP study found that three out of four adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. When you begin to think about why, it makes sense. Home offers a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity.

The truth is, as we age, we begin to rely on others for help. When a family is too busy or lives too far away to fulfill this role, in-home senior care is often the best solution. Home care services allow seniors to enjoy personal independence while also receiving trustworthy assistance from a trained caregiver.

At Always Best Care, we offer a comprehensive range of home care services to help seniors stay healthy while they get the help they need to remain independent. As your senior loved one ages, giving them the gift of senior care is one of the best ways to show your love, even if you live far away.

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 Senior Care Cromwell, CT

Aging in Place: The Preferred Choice for Most Seniors

While it's true that some seniors have complicated medical needs that prevent them from staying at home, aging in place is often the best arrangement for seniors and their families. With a trusted caregiver, seniors have the opportunity to live with a sense of dignity and do so as they see fit.

In-home care makes it possible for millions of seniors to age in place every year. Rather than moving to a unfamiliar assisted living community, seniors have the chance to stay at home where they feel the happiest and most comfortable.

Here are just a few of the reasons why older men and women prefer to age at home:


How much does a senior's home truly mean to them? A study published by the American Society on Aging found that more than half of seniors say their home's emotional value means more than how much their home is worth in monetary value. It stands to reason, that a senior's home is where they want to grow old. With the help of elderly care in Cromwell, CT, seniors don't have to age in a sterilized care facility. Instead, they can age gracefully in the place they want to be most: their home. In contrast, seniors who move to a long-term care facility must adapt to new environments, new people, and new systems that the facility implements. At this stage in life, this kind of drastic change can be more harmful than helpful.

Healthy Living
Healthy Living

Institutional care facilities like nursing homes often put large groups of people together to live in one location. On any given day, dozens of staff members and caregivers run in and out of these facilities. Being around so many new people in a relatively small living environment can be dangerous for a seniors' health and wellbeing. When you consider that thousands of seniors passed away in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, opting for in-home care is often a safer, healthier choice for seniors. Aging in place has been shown to improve seniors' quality of life, which helps boost physical health and also helps insulate them from viral and bacterial risks found in elderly living facilities.


For many seniors, the ability to live independently with assistance from a caregiver is a priceless option. With in-home care, seniors experience a higher level of independence and freedom - much more so than in other settings like an assisted living community. When a senior has the chance to age in place, they get to live life on their own terms, inside the house that they helped make into a home. More independence means more control over their personal lives, too, which leads to increased levels of fulfillment, happiness, and personal gratification. Over time, these positive feelings can manifest into a healthier, longer life.

Cost and Convenience
Cost and Convenience

More independence, a healthier life, and increased comfort are only a few benefits of aging in place. You have to take into consideration the role of cost and convenience. Simply put, it's usually easier to help seniors age in place than it is to move them into an institutional care facility. In-home care services from Always Best Care, for instance, can be less expensive than long-term solutions, which can cost upwards of six figures per year. To make matters worse, many residential care facilities are reluctant to accept long-term care insurance and other types of payment assistance.

With Always Best Care's home care services, seniors and their families have a greater level of control over their care plans. In-home care in Cromwell, CT gives seniors the chance to form a bond with a trusted caregiver and also receive unmatched care that is catered to their needs. In long-term care facilities, seniors and their loved ones have much less control over their care plan and have less of a say in who provides their care.

Empowers Seniors

Affordable Care Plans

In-home care is a valuable resource that empowers seniors to age in place on their own terms. However, a big concern for many families and their loved ones is how much in-home care costs. If you're worried that in-home care is too expensive, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is one of the most affordable senior care arrangements available.

Typically, hiring an Always Best Care in-home caregiver for a few hours a week is more affordable than sending your loved one to a long-term care facility. This is true even for seniors with more complex care needs.

At Always Best Care, we will work closely with you and your family to develop a Care Plan that not only meets your care needs, but your budget requirements, too. Once we discover the level of care that you or your senior need, we develop an in-home care plan that you can afford.

In addition to our flexible care options, families should also consider the following resources to help offset potential home care costs:

Veteran's Benefits
Veteran's Benefits

Attendance and aid benefits through military service can cover a portion of the costs associated with in-home care for veterans and their spouses.

Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-Term Care Insurance

Many senior care services like in-home care are included in long-term care insurance options. Research different long-term care solutions to find a plan that provides coverage for senior care.

Private Insurance
Private Insurance

Home care can be included as part of a senior's private insurance plan. Read over your loved one's insurance policy carefully or speak with their insurance provider to determine if in-home care is covered.

Life Insurance
Life Insurance

Depending on the life insurance plan, you may be able to apply your policy toward long-term care. You may be able to use long-term-care coverage to help pay for in-home elderly care.

Respite Care Cromwell, CT

During your Care Plan consultation with Always Best Care, your Care Coordinator will speak with you about in-home care costs and what options there may be to help meet your budget needs.

Compassionate Care. Trusted Caregivers

When you or your senior loved one needs assistance managing daily tasks at home, finding a qualified caregiver can be challenging. It takes a special kind of person to provide reliable care for your senior loved one. However, a caregiver's role involves more than meal preparation and medication reminders. Many seniors rely on their caregivers for companionship, too.

Our companion care services give seniors the chance to socialize in a safe environment and engage in activities at home. These important efforts boost morale and provide much-needed relief from repetitive daily routines. A one-on-one, engaging conversation can sharpen seniors' minds and give them something in which to be excited.

At Always Best Care, we only hire care providers that we would trust to care for our own loved ones. Our senior caregivers in Cromwell,CT understand how important it is to listen and communicate with their seniors. A seemingly small interaction, like a short hug goodbye, can make a major difference in a senior's day. Instead of battling against feelings of isolation, seniors begin to look forward to seeing their caregiver each week.

Understanding the nuances of senior care is just one of the reasons why our care providers are so great at their job.

Unlike some senior care companies, our caregivers must undergo extensive training before they work for Always Best Care. In addition, our caregivers receive ongoing training throughout the year. This training ensures that their standard of care matches up to the high standards we've come to expect. During this training, they will brush up on their communication skills, safety awareness, and symptom spotting. That way, your loved one receives the highest level of non-medical home care from day one.

 Caregivers Cromwell, CT

Taking the First Step with Always Best Care

The first step in getting quality in-home care starts with a personal consultation with an experienced Care Coordinator. This initial consultation is crucial for our team to learn more about you or your elderly loved one to discover the level of care required. Topics of this consultation typically include:

An assessment of your senior loved one


An in-depth discussion of the needs of your senior loved one to remain in their own home


Reviewing a detailed Care Plan that will meet your senior loved one's needs


Our caregivers are trained to spot changes that clients exhibit, like mental and physical decline. As your trusted senior care company, we will constantly assess and update your Care Plan to meet any new emotional, intellectual, physical, and emotional needs.

If you have never considered in-home care before, we understand that you and your family may have concerns about your Care Plan and its Care Coordinator. To help give you peace of mind, know that every team member and caregiver must undergo comprehensive training before being assigned to a Care Plan.

When you're ready, we encourage you to contact your local Always Best Care representative to set up a Care Consultation. Our Care Coordinators would be happy to meet with you in person to get to know you better, discuss your needs, and help put together a personalized Care Plan specific to your needs.

Latest News in Cromwell, CT

Cromwell fire lieutenant retires amid probe into 'inappropriate' conduct, records show

CROMWELL — A lieutenant has left the town's fire department amid allegations of “inappropriate” activity in the firehouse, according to personnel records obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media Group.In his resignation letter dated March 6, Brett Hallden said he was “irrevocably retiring" from the Cromwell Fire Department. After nearly 18 years with the agency, the letter did not say why the 46-year-old was leaving.Hallden, who works as a mechanic and is a member of the planning commission in Marlborou...

CROMWELL — A lieutenant has left the town's fire department amid allegations of “inappropriate” activity in the firehouse, according to personnel records obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

In his resignation letter dated March 6, Brett Hallden said he was “irrevocably retiring" from the Cromwell Fire Department. After nearly 18 years with the agency, the letter did not say why the 46-year-old was leaving.

Hallden, who works as a mechanic and is a member of the planning commission in Marlborough where he lives, could not be reached for comment.

His departure came three months after he learned of an investigation into his alleged “inappropriate workplace conduct” and was placed on paid administrative leave, according to a Dec. 5, 2022 letter to Hallden from Julius C. Neto, executive director of the Cromwell Fire District. The letter and other personnel records were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The letter doesn’t describe the alleged misconduct, but Neto wrote in the memo that Hallden should refrain from contacting a female firefighter who also was placed on paid leave. The woman, who was hired in 2019, resigned Dec. 30, weeks after receiving the same letter.

Attorney Cindy Cieslak from Rose Kallor LLP was hired to conduct the independent investigation, which Neto said ended when Hallden retired.

In a telephone interview, Neto said the investigation has been completed, but the report is only a draft.

“She has ceased and desisted her investigation,” Neto said of Cieslak.

Neto referred to Cieslak when asked for the draft copy of the investigation report. However, Cieslak said the report is “exempt from disclosure” under state law. She said its release would constitute an invasion of privacy and/or violate attorney-client privilege.

Neto would not describe what sparked the investigation and said Hallden was not forced out.

“He made his own decision,” he said.

Hallden is too young to collect retirement benefits, but according to his contract, he will be paid 25 percent of his accrued, unused sick leave based on his latest annual salary of $66,059, Neto said.

'Disciplined on numerous occasions'

Around the same time Cieslak launched the investigations into Hallden and the female firefighter, the Cromwell Fire District also hired the lawyer to investigate allegations of misconduct during the town's first responder training — at least one of which happened in the presence of an underage EMT student.

According to emails obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media, the co-owner of a firefighter training company sent a complaint to Cromwell Fire Chief Jason Brade after some of his students “expressed shock at the unprofessionalism displayed by certain members of the staff.”

In the emails, Brian Petrucelli, co-owner of On Scene Training in Cromwell, said there were conversations about sexual topics and a dinner prepared during clinical rotations included “a meatloaf shaped like a large penis.”

It's unknown if Hallden was involved in the incidents. But he does have a disciplinary history, according to his personnel records.

In January 2016, Hallden was suspended for three days without pay after an independent investigator found he waited two weeks to inform a supervisor that audit binders with confidential employee information had been left in a public room in fire district offices at 1 West St. The records show another firefighter took a picture of one of the documents, which included someone’s Social Security number.

In June 2009, Hallden was demoted from lieutenant to firefighter for failing to attend a meeting with four chiefs of the department, the records show.

The documents show former Chief Stephen Pendl sent a memo to Hallden, stating he had been “formally disciplined on numerous occasions over the last 21 months for repeatedly failing to conform your professional conduct to that which is expected of a lieutenant in the Cromwell Fire Department.” Records of the previous disciplinary actions were not included in the personal records requested by Hearst Connecticut Media.

Hallden was reappointed as a lieutenant of the overnight shift on July 16, 2019.

Hallden’s former wife, who also used to be a Cromwell firefighter, said her ex has won awards and had been recognized for his work.

“They lost a damn good firefighter,” Tricia Hallden, who helped train him, said in an interview this week. “The Cromwell Fire District lost an excellent firefighter. One of the best they ever had. And I spent almost 30 years in that department. Absolutely one of the best. He is very smart.”

As for the investigation, she said, “I’d call it a headhunt. They wanted to get rid of him because he has a big mouth.”

Officials: Students accuse Cromwell fire staff of sexual misconduct: ‘Shocked at the unprofessionalism’

CROMWELL — The Cromwell Fire District has hired an attorney to investigate a series of alleged incidents of sexual misconduct during first responder training in November, including at least one instance that occurred in the presence of an underage EMT student, according to emails obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media Group.Cromwell Fire District Executive Director Julius Neto said the department is “aware of these inquiries” and is taking the allega...

CROMWELL — The Cromwell Fire District has hired an attorney to investigate a series of alleged incidents of sexual misconduct during first responder training in November, including at least one instance that occurred in the presence of an underage EMT student, according to emails obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

Cromwell Fire District Executive Director Julius Neto said the department is “aware of these inquiries” and is taking the allegations “very seriously.”

“We have to be protecting everybody’s interests and rights," Neto said. "There’s a due process. We’re following it to the letter of the law."

Neto said the investigation is being conducted by attorney Cindy Cieslak of Rose Kallor. Cieslak said she was retained on Dec. 2, but declined to comment further because of the ongoing investigation.

Neto said the investigation is still determining how many members of the department may have been involved in the alleged misconduct. He declined to say whether any members have been placed on leave amid the investigation.

Fire Chief Jason Brade said "we're taking the necessary steps to investigate the allegations."

According to emails obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media through a Freedom of Information Act request, Brian Petrucelli, co-owner of On Scene Training in Cromwell, sent a complaint to Brade on Nov. 30.

In the email, Petrucelli said he was following up on a phone conversation he had with the chief on Nov. 28 "regarding our business no longer utilizing the Cromwell Fire Department for clinical observation time."

"During ride time, a few of my students expressed shock at the unprofessionalism displayed by certain members of the staff," Petrucelli wrote in the email to Brade. "There appeared to be inappropriate conversations dealing with matters of a sexual nature, and/or statements that students felt should never be discussed in front of the public. I do not have specifics, nor will I be supplying any due to many factors, however, I do not want to expose my underage students to any possible issues that may occur."

While Petrucelli stated in the email he was ending On Scene Training's partnership with the fire department, he told Hearst Connecticut Media last week that his company is still doing business with the district. However, he did not respond to questions about why or when his stance changed.

"We feel that the district has taken appropriate actions through their internal policies and procedures," Petrucelli said in an email to Hearst Connecticut Media. "We have always had a great working relationship with the district for several years, and will continue to maintain that relationship for years to come."

In a Dec. 1 email in response to Petrucelli's complaint, Brade said, "we take these matters and this complaint as extremely serious."

"I am extremely upset to hear of the actions and the unprofessionalism that has allegedly been displayed by members of my staff," Brade wrote in the email. "I am even more upset that these actions have ruined a longstanding partnership between our department and your company. I would like to express that we do not condone these actions as presented, and that they are not consistent with the level of service or training we strive to provide to your students or to the public."

Brade assured Petrucelli the allegations would be investigated and he will take “appropriate action to ensure our staff are not acting in the manner as described."

In a Dec. 5 email, Petrucelli filed a second complaint with Brade after he said another EMT student notified him about alleged misconduct by members of the Cromwell department that occurred on Nov. 11, 14, 17 and 19.

"During these clinical rotations, there was a dinner prepared that was inappropriate, a meatloaf shaped like a large penis," Petrucelli wrote in the email.

In his message to Brade, Petrucelli included an excerpt from an email he received from one of his EMT students, who "was a bit shocked at the unprofessionalism and the inappropriate behavior displayed by some members of the Cromwell Fire Department."

The student was particularly concerned since some of their “fellow classmates are as young as 16,” the email stated.

Petrucelli also noted in the Dec. 5 email that the student who originally alerted him to the alleged misconduct had "rescinded her statement" because she didn't want to "ruin" a chance of working for the fire department in the future.

"That is her right, but should not worry about things of this nature during a clinical experience," Petrucelli wrote to Brade.

It's unclear if Brade responded to Petrucelli's Dec. 5 email. The town did not provide Hearst Connecticut Media with any other correspondences regarding the alleged misconduct.

Town Manager Anthony Salvatore declined to comment Monday about the accusations or the investigation, saying the fire district is self-governed, meaning it is a Special Act District created by the state Legislature that operates under the provisions of the Connecticut General Statutes and District By-Laws.

Petrucelli and Brade did not respond to questions about how long On Scene and the fire district have worked together.

The New Jersey-based company provides emergency responders of all levels with training courses and consulting services, according to its website, through interactive classroom presentations and in-the-field training opportunities.

The fire district has experienced administrative upheaval in recent years, including last September when former chief Jason Balletto abruptly resigned from his position over what he said was a pattern of disrespect by the fire district's Board of Commissioners.

In 2015, former chief Stephen Pendl resigned after an internal investigation determined he lied repeatedly to district officials about how he received a document that contained district employees’ personal information.

Nine months later, Mark Langton, a member of the Board of Commissioners, abruptly resigned during a meeting, citing frustration over Pendl's departure.

Cromwell residents worry about fewer paras as school board passes $36.4M budget — with cuts

This is a carousel. Use Next and Previous buttons to navigateCROMWELL — The Board of Education recently approved the superintendent's proposed $36.4 million budget for the 2023-24 academic year, which carries a 6.94 percent increase over the current $34 million spending package.A number of factors contributed to the increase, according to Superintendent of Schools Enza Macri’s presentation, most notably a $1.4 millio...

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CROMWELL — The Board of Education recently approved the superintendent's proposed $36.4 million budget for the 2023-24 academic year, which carries a 6.94 percent increase over the current $34 million spending package.

A number of factors contributed to the increase, according to Superintendent of Schools Enza Macri’s presentation, most notably a $1.4 million increase in staff salaries, a hike of 45.3 percent in employee benefits, special education costs, transportation, and inflation, which has caused utility bills to increase dramatically.

Administrative salaries account for a 16 percent increase in spending — and that’s without an assistant superintendent on staff, which is the case in other municipalities Cromwell’s size, Macri said.

She originally asked the board for $37.4 million, a 9.93 percent increase, which would eliminate the need to cut jobs.

A number of individuals concerned about the possible loss of educators in the district, most notably paraprofessionals, spoke out during the Feb. 7 Board of Education meeting.

She and her team have been working "relentlessly" on the budget, which places “students first,” she told those at the meeting.

The budget increase is slightly less than inflation, which stands at 7.1 percent, the superintendent said. School administrators across Connecticut are asking for similar hikes in spending, she contended, including those in East Lyme, South Windsor, Southington and Hamden.

Macri made it clear that she is focused on retaining employees through attrition, changing workers’ positions, rewriting job descriptions and other measures. "I'm trying to think of people's livelihoods,” she noted.

She also spoke about a concern held by many about more children being added to classrooms.

"I gave you hypotheticals so that no one would feel exactly what you're feeling today, and, unfortunately, the trust is just not there,” Macri said. “People are afraid, and I understand that they're afraid, however, I have no intention of increasing class size at all.”

However, Macri added, she is going to reexamine classes with eight to 10 students, something that surprised her once she began looking into the matter.

A letter signed by some 40 educators that was submitted to the board said that "cutting teaching positions and dispersing 2 to 3 more children into classrooms would have an extreme impact on all children in our district."

That is especially important, they wrote, at the K-3 level, "where children are learning the foundational skills that will influence the trajectory for the rest of their education."

Another factor is that Cromwell doesn't receive a lot of funding from other sources besides the town. “We hit our grant cliff every (year),” Macri noted.

The town does receive $5.1 million in Education Cost Sharing money from the state, but, since it isn’t among the 33 state-designated Alliance Districts, or lower performing districts, as Middletown is, such funds aren’t available.

"This is the best I could do without a crystal ball,” Macri said of the budget.

School districts across the nation have been focusing on the need for services that became all the more important during the pandemic. "We need to increase our student achievement and their mental health and well-being,” Macri explained.

Among the $1 million in cuts made by the Board of Education to Macri’s original request were to teaching and stipend salaries, textbooks, support staff salaries, benefits, advertising and printing and instructional equipment.

One special education teacher asked how Macri would decide on "repositioning" paraprofessionals. There are some paraeducators who don’t work one-on-one with students or those who need special education support, she replied. “That does not mean that the para will lose their job, they will just be doing something different/reassigned."

During public session, Heidi Venetianer, the mother of a child with special needs and educator, spoke about the importance of paras. “I can assure you that the job of paraprofessional is not a frivolous position that can just be tossed to the side," she said.

"I could name at least seven children in the district in various schools in a variety of grade levels who would not know what to do what to do with themselves if there were an active fire or active shooter situation,” Venetianer added.

Some special ed students have difficulty performing everyday tasks, she said. “There are children who don't have the necessary executive functioning skills to prepare their materials for lessons at hand, children who have language delays or difficulty with receptive language skills, who through no fault of their own, cannot understand directions given or the content of a lesson,” Venetianer said.

Linda Demetriades is president of the AFSCME Local 1302-280 union, which serves paras, nurses, nurse coordinators, teachers and others.

She called paraeducators the “backbone of the district,” who support students with an individualized education program, their behavior, academics, emotional well-being and much more.

“We toilet, feed and provide a safe environment for these students,” Demetriades said. “This isn’t the time to take away paraprofessionals or eliminate classroom teachers or increase class size. [The loss of] three paraeducators would “directly impact our most vulnerable population,” she added.

Macri’s proposal will be presented to the Board of Finance in late March / early April at a date to be determined. If members do not fully fund the proposed budget, she explained she would be faced with reassessing cuts and making adjustments to the overall spending package.

For information, visit cromwell.k12.ct.us.

Cromwell Price Rite to close; Texas Roadhouse proposed for Ruby Tuesday site

This is a carousel. Use Next and Previous buttons to navigateCROMWELL — Discount grocery chain Price Rite Marketplace on Route 372 will close its doors by the end of the month, according to the store manager, a move that has many residents disappointed.The grocery chain’s pare...

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CROMWELL — Discount grocery chain Price Rite Marketplace on Route 372 will close its doors by the end of the month, according to the store manager, a move that has many residents disappointed.

The grocery chain’s parent company Wakefern Food Corp also runs ShopRite stores, one of which is at 45 Shunpike Road, or Route 3.

Price Rite Manager Jocelyn Deren said Thursday the 136 Berlin Road location originally was slated to close Feb. 4, but that’s now expected to happen by the end of the month. Any goods remaining once the store shuts down will go to other stores, she said.

Nearby locations include Wethersfield, West Hartford and New Britain.

Price Rite rebranded several locations around the state in March 2019, and held a reopening celebration at the Cromwell location.

Other nearby supermarkets include Stop & Shop, ShopRite, Asia Grocers and Walmart.

People took to Middletown and Cromwell Facebook pages to express their surprise and disappointment, saying they enjoyed shopping there for the discount prices, including on produce. Others commented that they shop for deals at Price Rite and ShopRite, and visit other supermarkets for items not available at either location.

A number of individuals expressed that they'd like to see a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods come to town.

After 14 years, Wakefern Communications Specialist Karen O'Shea said Friday, the firm made the "very difficult" decision to shut down the Cromwell store. The exact date has not yet been determined, but it will be later this month, she added.

"Price Rite appreciates the loyalty of its customers who have supported the store through the years and the dedicated team members who have worked hard to serve our community," she wrote in a statement. "We are sharing information with our team members regarding potential job opportunities and available positions at other Price Rite Marketplace stores in the region."

Other developments

After 20 years, Ruby Tuesday will move out of its 50 Shunpike Road location in March, according to Director of Planning and Development Stuart Popper. The restaurant’s lease is up in two months, and the building is expected to be razed. A Texas Roadhouse is expected built on the site.

The casual dining restaurant has over 580 locations in 49 states and 22 international locations in nine countries, according to its website. It specializes in hand-cut steaks, ribs and other casual menu items.

There will be a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on the site plan modification Jan. 17.

Also at that meeting, the commission will consider a request submitted by Opportunity Real Estate Equities to subdivide property at 162 West St. in order to construct a medical office building at the corner of Shunpike Road.

The two-story, 12,400-square-foot complex would be completed in two phases, according to the application. A 10,400-square-foot office is proposed during phase one, with an additional 2,020 square feet at a later time.

It would occupy four acres of 31-acre parcel. Documents show that a pedestrian walkway to 80 Shunpike Road is proposed, with stairs and a sidewalk. The initial application was approved by the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency Nov. 2, Popper said.

A request to build a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen “pad” site at 195 West St., in the Shop & Shop plaza, was submitted to the commission by Cromwell Chicken in September. The original plans were incomplete, Popper said, so the fast-food company withdrew its proposal for a drive-thru. His office is waiting to see whether it is resubmitted.

The commission will next meet Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 41 West St. For information, visit cromwellct.com.

Tacos, Ink: Street-art vibes and audacious flavors power Cromwell’s Hot Taco Street Kitchen

Nothing is subdued at Ryan Buchanan’s Hot Taco Street Kitchen in Cromwell. Not the full-color murals inside and outside the building, designed by the same tattoo artist responsible for the chef’s inked sleeves. Not the menu, full of brash flavors and creative twists. And certainly not the dessert options, featuring a rotating “churro of the month” selection.“I think the flavors of the food also pair very well with the brig...

Nothing is subdued at Ryan Buchanan’s Hot Taco Street Kitchen in Cromwell. Not the full-color murals inside and outside the building, designed by the same tattoo artist responsible for the chef’s inked sleeves. Not the menu, full of brash flavors and creative twists. And certainly not the dessert options, featuring a rotating “churro of the month” selection.

“I think the flavors of the food also pair very well with the bright, bold colors … it all meshes together really well,” Buchanan says. “It’s also exactly what I look like, too. I have bright and bold tattoos.”

Buchanan’s bold venture started in 2020 during the pandemic, when he launched Hot Taco as a food truck. He started serving his menu of tacos, burritos and small plates out of the mobile eatery — also painted by his tattoo artist, Kevin Boudreau, with a graffiti rooster motif — at local breweries and sites like West Hartford’s GastroPark.

Needing a dedicated commissary kitchen, Buchanan began looking at sites around Hartford and Middlesex counties, landing on a Main Street space in Cromwell. Hoping to employ his food truck staffers throughout the year, he decided to launch Hot Taco as a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

The Cromwell eatery opened in November 2022, allowing Buchanan and his crew to expand the lineup of “tacos without tradition.” Inspired by visits to Southern California, Buchanan designed his menu with a mix of classic and inventive fillings for tacos and burritos, along with lively seasonings and sauces. “You can pretty much make anything into a taco, in my mind,” he says. “I feel like the tortilla, whether it be corn or flour, is really just a vessel to deliver whatever flavor you truly like.”

Buchanan says best-sellers include a fried chicken BLT taco with crispy chicken, crumbled bacon, lettuce, tomato and a chipotle aioli; and a crispy fish taco with tempura-battered haddock, pineapple salsa and pickled red cabbage. Others include a Korean steak taco, incorporating Asian flavors with bulgogi beef, kimchi aioli and crispy wontons, and chorizo con papa, a mix of crispy chorizo and potato hash with salsa verde and street corn salsa.

More SoCal influences show up on the menu, including the smash burger taco, Buchanan’s take on California’s renowned In-n-Out Burger with a four-ounce patty, American cheese and “house animal sauce,” his version of the chain’s Thousand Island-style spread. A shredded beef burrito is wrapped with fries and dressed with guacamole and crema.

Hot Taco Street Kitchen also serves birria tacos and quesadillas, but with a twist. Instead of only tender braised beef, you can also order either birria pork or chicken, served with a dipping side of consommé.

The restaurant also features a selection of small plates: Brussels sprouts with smoked maple sriracha aioli and pickled cabbage; birria poutine, with sazón-seasoned fries, choice of protein and Hatch chili queso, nachos and sweet plantains. The same queso also flavors Hot Taco’s mac and cheese.

Specials pop up weekly, such as Nashville hot chicken and smoked brisket tacos, a beef Wellington taco and a lamb banh mi burrito. Buchanan enlists his staff for ideas, giving them creative freedom to create new recipes.

The staff also collaborates on the weekly “churro of the month,” choosing decadent flavors for Hot Taco’s fried dough sticks. Past iterations include a strawberry cheesecake version, with strawberry shortcake crumble; condensed-milk icing with Fruity Pebbles, peanut butter-chocolate cream sauce with Reese’s Pieces dust; and “Elvis,” with banana, bacon and peanut butter sauce.

Buchanan hopes to add outdoor patio space, with al fresco seating both in front of and behind the eatery. The food truck is also booking spring and summer events, and his newest venture, Drive Bar, which he calls “Connecticut’s first and only mobile dive bar,” will launch in time for the warm months.

At some point, he’d like to expand Hot Taco, turning it into a full-service restaurant with cocktails. But for now, he says he’s satisfied with what he’s done in three short years. “I’m proud of it. It’s pretty much everything I stand for, and it’s everything I’ve worked my whole life to become,” he says. “So we’re just hoping that people keep up with us, and we can keep just growing as a business, and expand and hopefully grow into a bigger restaurant in time.”

Hot Taco Street Kitchen548 Main St., Cromwell860-358-9569, hottacostreetkitchen.com, @hottacostreetkitchen on InstagramOpen Tues.–Sat. for lunch and dinnerWheelchair accessible

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