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Osten appointed to panels on State Capitol preservation, nuclear energy

State Sen. Cathy Osten has been appointed to the State Capitol Preservation and Restoration Commission, the body considering the removal of a statue of Maj. John Mason from the Capitol’s exterior, an undertaking Osten has championed on behalf of the Mashantucket Pequot and Eastern Pequot tribes.

Osten, a Sprague Democrat, also has been named to the Nuclear Energy Advisory Council, which monitors the safety and operations of the Millstone Power Station in Waterford.

The appointments were made Friday by Senate President Martin M. Looney, a New Haven Democrat.

The 12-member State Capitol Preservation and Restoration Commission, created in 1973, is responsible for studying the State Capitol building and grounds and developing a master plan for their preservation and restoration, including structural changes, enhancements of the interior and exterior of the building, use of existing space and public safety.

In the last session of the state legislature, Osten authored a bill seeking the Mason statue’s relocation to a Hartford museum. Though the bill didn’t advance, the state budget approved in June by the legislature included a $15,000 appropriation for the statue’s removal.

Mason, a controversial figure, led English forces against the Pequots in the 1637 “Massacre at Mystic,” the Pequot War’s pivotal battle.

In the last year, a state-owned Mason statue erected in Mystic in 1889 and moved to a Windsor green in 1995 has been targeted for relocation to a less prominent site in that north-central Connecticut town.

"I have been fighting for some time to have the John Mason statue removed from the exterior of the State Capitol and have it redisplayed elsewhere, with the proper historical context, and not in some place of honor atop Connecticut's seat of government,” Osten said Tuesday in a statement announcing her appointments. "I think a seat on the State Capitol Preservation and Restoration Commission will give me the ability to better make these arguments and to help modernize our sometimes romanticized version of history, which often ignores the impact that some of our state ancestors had on other of our state ancestors. We have to go into these discussions with our eyes and our hearts and our minds wide open."

Following a Sept. 22 meeting, the commission scheduled an invitational forum on the Mason statue for 10 a.m. Nov. 18 in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. Invited guests will be able to participate remotely.

Some commission members have expressed support for keeping the Mason statue in place at the Capitol.

The 14-member Nuclear Energy Advisory Council was created in 1996.

"The Nuclear Energy Advisory Council is also important to me because Connecticut's only nuclear power plant, Millstone, is located in southeastern Connecticut and is a major employer in the region,” Osten said. “Millstone also generates 50% of the power we use in Connecticut. Keeping Millstone operating safely and efficiently, and ensuring state policies assist Millstone in its power generation and job creation are at the top of my list on this council."

b.hallenbeck@theday.com 

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