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His efforts on the Water Pollution Control Commission aren’t the most glamorous int town, but Matt Kennedy and his fellow commissioners’ work is helping clean Clinton waterways and improving water quality in areas like Rocky Ledge. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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“I’m a husband, dad, geologist, licensed environmental professional, and one of those goofy Yankees, Celtics, and Steelers fans.”
That’s how Clinton resident Matt Kennedy describes himself. Others who follow town business will also recognize Matt as the chairman of the Water Pollution Control Commission (WPCC), a relatively behind-the-scenes group that deals with several pressing issues that face the town.
Matt is now on his seventh year as serving on the WPCC. When a spot on the WPCC opened up, Matt says Leah Saunders and former first selectman Willie Fritz strongly encouraged him to become a member of the commission due to his professional background.
Matt says his time on the commission has benn “hard work for me personally as chairman, but rewarding and fun to be working on projects with an interesting core group of folks that protect our environment, our health, as well as property investment and way of life.”
One recent project Matt worked on was the closure of the towns septage lagoons, a process that took close to 15 years and was done significantly under budget (for more on this story visit www.zip06.com).
“I’m proud of saving money on lagoon project. The balance of funds can be used to complete other projects to help the environment and ecology, sustainability and coastal resiliency, as well as intelligent growth of our town,” Matt says.
As for future plans, Matt is interested in working with the WPCC to get approval from Department of Energy & Environmental Protection for the wastewater facilities plan, getting the Rocky Ledge water main design complete, and working on designing a wastewater solution for downtown that can “help facilitate the much-needed economic growth that our selectmen have been working on for years.”
“It’s an exciting time to be a Clinton resident,” he says. “I encourage any motivated positive folks from any walk of life to come to a WPCC meeting and consider seeking appointment as we have one open seat and others that may be opening up soon!”
Matt grew up in West Haven, where he attended Notre Dame High School. He moved to Clinton in 2001 from the New Haven area with his wife Beth. Matt says the family loves Clinton for the outdoors and shopping in town.
“We felt we found an absolutely perfect, safe, and family friendly town to plant roots,” he says.
Soon after moving to Clinton, Matt and his wife became involved with Saint Mary’s Church, where they sang in the choir. Later on, Matt had the opportunity to go on several mission trips to Cusco, Peru. While in Peru, Matt spent half of each day learning Spanish, which he says opened his eyes to the struggle non-English speakers face when trying to communicate when they come to America. The other half of the day was spent building an orphanage.
“It was just the coolest thing ever!” he says. “I signed up for a second trip six months later and I’d like to do another trip sometime.”
Volunteering is something that didn’t always come naturally to Matt.
“It’s funny, my dad was always doing cool stuff,” he says, “but I was shyer.”
Matt credits his friend John Burnett with inspiring him to come out of his shell. Matt met John through church, where John encouraged Matt to become more involved with a men’s retreat he organized and other volunteer opportunities. Matt says after he experienced a serious accident, John was one of several people who always reached out to check in on him.
“The whole experience changed my life and I’m glad I ended up in Clinton to meet him.”
Outside of town, Matt is a geologist and licensed environmental professional who works on the assessment and remediation of contaminated properties.
“As a kid, I was always interested in civil engineering,” he says. “When I went to UConn, I found geology and geophysics kind of explained what I was interested in.”
Through his professional life, Matt was able to find a unique way to contribute to Clinton in a very tangible way: The building of the new Morgan School.
“A little-known fact is that as a geologist I was part of the town’s design and construction team that built the new high school where our daughter Annie is currently a sophomore,” he notes, “Amazingly rewarding experience.”
Matt says he was contacted by the architect for the project to help with environmental work that needed to be done on the property. As he knew his daughter would one day attend the new school, Matt jokes that he was extra motivated for the project and calls it “a reverse conflict of interest.”
In his spare time, Matt enjoys many of the outdoor recreational opportunities Clinton offers. Matt says he enjoys fishing, hiking, and listening to music. Matt says he no longer sings in the church choir, but his daughter does in the Elm City Girls Choir—”We get our choir fix that way.”
Asked what he likes so much about Clinton, Matt responds, “I just think it’s a friendly diverse town. People seem to look out for each other.”
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