November 22, 2014

Democrat Lomme and Republican Delia Compete for Regional Probate Court Judgeship

Terrance Lomme

Anselmo Delia

AREAWIDE—Essex Democrat Terrance Lomme and Clinton Republican Anselmo Delia square off Tuesday for the new nine-town regional probate court judgeship that becomes effective in January.

Both men are lawyers, Lomme for the past 30 years, Delia for the past 28 years. Lomme also served for three years as judge of probate in East Haddam before moving to Essex in 1994.

The formation of the new regional probate court, which will have an office in Old Saybrook, marks the culmination of a decade of debate over the future of the state’s probate court system. Rising costs for local probate courts in each town led the General Assembly to mandate a regionalization of probate courts in 2008. The new district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook.

Delia, 55, had an easy and uncontested path to the GOP nomination. Lomme, 62, captured the party endorsement from a field of six candidates at a hotly contested nominating convention in May, and then secured the Democratic nomination by defeating Raymond Rigat, the Clinton judge of probate, on a 2,239-1,683 vote in an Aug. 10 primary.

The candidates have waged a quiet campaign, using roadside billboards and mailings to boost name recognition. Lomme has raised and spent more campaign dollars than Delia, including donating or loaning about $20,000 in personal funds for the campaign. Lomme had raised a total of $23,553 according to the Oct. 10 campaign finance filing.  Delia has raised about $13,000, including about $6,500 in personal funds. The probate court races are not covered under the state Citizens Election Fund program that provides public funding for statewide and legislative candidates.

Both candidates  pledge to work for a smooth transition toward the opening of the new regional probate court in January. Each plans to have one full-time chief clerk for the court, while retaining any or all of the current local probate clerks on a part-time basis for cases out of their towns.

Delia has pledged to implement a “roving court as the need arises,” hearing certain cases in the towns where the cases originate. Lomme said the state’s Probate Court Administration has not authorized satellite courts, though judges are allowed to bring a hearing to the client if the individual is unable to get to the main court office.

Delia, who ran unsuccessfully in a Republican primary for the 33rd district state senate nomination in 1990, contends he has a broader record of community and volunteer service than Lomme, including elected positions such as Clinton board of education and planning and zoning commission, and volunteer service for the Cub Scouts and Clinton Youth and Family Services. “That is a significant difference,” he said.

Lomme maintains he has “more experience and more specific experience” in probate law. Lomme said his legal practice has always been in the Middlesex County towns that comprise the district, while noting that Delia’s practice is based in Branford. “I have practiced in all of the local courts that make up the district,” he said.

There have been no formal debates during the campaign, though Lomme said he attempted to arrange a public debate in Clinton earlier this month. The two rivals made a single joint appearance before an audience of senior citizens in Killingworth. The new regional judge of probate elected Tuesday takes office in January for a four year term ending in 2014.

Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

Democratic Daily Faces Republican Nichols in 12-Town 33rd Senate District

AREAWIDE—  Nine-term incumbent Democratic State Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook is facing an active challenge in Tuesday’s election from Republican Neil Nichols, a retired pilot from Essex.

The state’s Clean Elections Program public funding, now in its second legislative election cycle, has enabled Nichols to remain more competitive with the 18-year incumbent in campaign resources compared to previous Republican challengers. Under the campaign finance law, candidates for state senate receive an $87,000 grant after they raise at least $15,000 in small contributions from in-district donors. According to the Oct. 10 finance report, Daily has raised about $106,500 to about $104,000 for Nichols.

Daily, who co-chairs the Legislature’s key Finance, Revenue and Bonding committee, has trounced a series of Republican challengers in the large district since her first election in 1992. She defeated Republican Vince Pacileo, at the time an Essex selectman, on a vote of 30,326-17,624 in 2008. Before entering the senate, Daily served as first selectwoman of Westbrook from 1983-1989.

Nichols, a West Hartford native who has lived in Essex since 1994, is a former U.S. Air Force pilot who later worked as a pilot for Pan American airlines from 1967 to 1991. He has represented the 33rd District on the Republican State Central Committee since 2006, and also serves on the local planning commission. Nichols was the unsuccessful Republican challenger to State Rep. James Spallone, D-Essex, in the 36th House District in 2006.

The 33rd district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

While the two rivals have been cordial at a series of debates or joint appearances during the campaign, they differ sharply on many issues. Both cite improving the business climate in Connecticut and creating jobs as a priority, but diverge on the state’s fiscal situation and  how to address the prospect for more budget deficits in future years.
Nichols calls for a “top to bottom review” of all state spending, and proposes a 15 percent reduction in spending from the $16.8 billion total in the budget year that ended on June 30. He calls for repeal of the state’s annual $250 business entity tax, and contends many of the state’s smaller taxes and fees don’t generate sufficient revenue to justify continuation. “We’ve got to change the culture in the Legislature to make it more friendly toward business,” he said.
Daily maintains the state’s fiscal situation is not as dire as claimed by critics like Nichols, noting the last budget year ended in June with an unexpended balance of over $400 million. She also supports elimination of the business entity tax, but describes as “ridiculous” Nichols’ call for a 15 percent spending reduction from the 2009-2010 budget. “We have more people in need during this recession than we’ve ever had before,” she said.

Nichols said he believes the death penalty should be reserved for only the most heinous murders, but would not support a repeal of the state’s ultimate penalty. Daily had voted to repeal the death penalty during the last legislative session, and suggests new revelations about suspects determined to be innocent after the latest DNA testing “should be reason enough for anybody.”

Daily opposes Sunday liquor sales, noting “most of the package store owners I talk to are opposed to it.” Nichols said he is open to allowing Sunday sales, but also expresses concern for the possible impact smaller liquor stores. “I would have to listen to all of the arguments,” he said.

Both candidates have waged active campaigns, including mailings to voters, one television ad each, and targeted door to door campaigning. Also on the Nov. 2 ballot is Colin Bennett, running under the banner of the Green Party. Bennett, a Westbrook resident, was also the Green Party nominee in 2004, 2006, and 2008, when he received his largest share of the total vote, 1,682 votes.

Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

What’s Cooking in New England?

Local resident Susie Beckman, Diane Gardner, and local resident Connie Connor (left to right)

On Thursday, October 21, Essex Books hosted chef and cookbook author, Diane Perry Gardner, at Gather in Ivoryton.  Ms. Gardner and local resident, Connie Connor, brought desserts for participants to taste made from recipes in Gardner’s cookbook, “What’s Cooking in New England?” 

The compilation of more than 200 recipes offers an epicurean variety from country markets, cheese mongers, fruit orchards, cattle and goat farms, wine shops and vineyards, restaurants, and fish markets, as well as families and friends that are native New Englanders.

Residents of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine will appreciate the book’s authenticity, while cooking aficionados from around the United States (and beyond) will have a sense that they are touring the region as they flip through the pages.

The publication includes professional photography showcasing the completed recipes, as well as beautiful scenic shots of locations throughout New England.

The cookbook is available at both Essex Books and Gather. Read more details of the book and the author on Diane’s website.

Marshview Gallery Reception for Local Artist

Barbara Elliott - Marshview Gallery Artist of the Month

Marshview Gallery in Old Saybrook has announced Barbara Elliott as their November artist of the month and they will be hosting a reception on Friday, Nov. 12 , at which guests can meet Barbara and see some of her work .

Barbara pursued painting after retiring from a career of teaching. Her inspiration comes from the Connecticut shoreline where she has had a home for over 40 years. Barbara has studied with several artists, including Anne Culver, Maureen Wilkinson, and the late Bruce Raven. She is currently studying with Ellie Rendar, pastelist who has been an inspiration for Barbara’s childrens’ portraitures.

Barbara works in various mediums and prefers landscapes, seascapes, and people as her subjects. She has participated in various juried shows throughout the shoreline and received awards form the North Haven Art Guild.

Everyone is welcome to attend the reception at the Marshview Gallery, 220 Main Street, Old Saybrook on Nov. 12 from 5 – 7 p.m.   All ages are welcome – refreshments will be provided.

Deep River Selectmen Appoint Five Additional Members to Community Health Board

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has appointed five additional members to the Community Health Board, completing the membership of the new board that was established under an ordinance approved by voters at a Sept. 28 town meeting.

The volunteers appointed by the selectmen Tuesday include Peter Terenzi, a former Connecticut State police major, former town clerk Jeanne Nickse, Nancy Howard, a clerk for town boards and commissions, Maura Carver, and Diane Recchio, a visiting nurse who works for the nursing agency in Westbrook. The board had previously appointed former Selectman Russell Marth, nurse Carl Olsen, and Dr. Kristin Zarfos, a surgeon at St. Francis Hospital.

The Community Health Board is charged with coordinating health-related services in Deep River, and serving as the town’s liaison to the Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, the Centerbrook-based non profit organization that is now running visiting nurse services for uninsured and underinsured town residents. The selectmen signed a contract with VNLV in June after voters in a May 18 referendum discontinued further town funding for the Deep River Visiting Nurses Association.

The Community Health Board is also charged with managing the Memorial Fund, a charitable fund that had been controlled by the now disbanded Deep River Visiting Nurses, as a special segregated town fund for charitable purposes. The board is expected to develop guidelines for disbursements from the fund that currently contains about $72,000.

The appointments to the Community Health Board are subject to confirmation from voters at a town meeting that will be held early next month. The new board is expected to hold its first meeting in November.

Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

Congressional Candidates Spar on Health Care at Old Lyme Debate and Other Issues

Joe Courtney

Janet Peckinpaugh

Opposing positions on the nation’s new health care reform law were a major feature at the congressional candidate’s debate in Old Lyme last evening. For her part Republican candidate Janet Peckinpaugh derided her opponent, Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney, for supporting what some call “Obama care.”

“We do not need a health care law in Connecticut,” Peckinpaugh said emphatically. A major flaw in the new law, she maintained, was that it does not address tort reform.  Tort reform would limit the amounts that health care providers could be sued for in negligence cases.

Peckinpaugh’s solution, as far as the health care law is concerned, is “to repeal it, defeat it, and start all over again.” Citing as evidence that the new law is not working, Peckinpaugh pointed out that Blue Cross is now “hiking rates by 41%” in the state.

In response Courtney said, “We need the health care reform law in Connecticut.” The Congressman said that health care costs were “difficult for small businesses in the state.” A repeal of the new health care law, he said, “would be a major step backward.”  This would be true he said “for both small businesses and individuals.” In his remarks Green Party candidate G. Scott Deshefy, who also participated in the debate, said simply, “Obama care is only going to make matters worse.”

Another issue addressed by the three candidates was concerns about the environment. Green Party’s Deshefy said with emphasis, “Climate change is real, as are the noxious substances going into the air that we breathe.”
Peckinpaugh said, however, that environmental reform should not go so far that people would have to post on their front doors, how much in carbons their house was emitting. Courtney assured her that this was not being considered by House Democrats.

On the issue of the high costs of going to college, a major issue to parents in Old Lyme and the surrounding area, Peckinpaugh said that she favored a federal tax credit for all college tuitions. For his part Courtney noted that Connecticut is “a higher education state,” and he cited his work in increasing so-called Pell grants to assist in meeting higher education costs. The Green candidate Deshefy went out of way to say that, “Joe [Courtney] has done a fine job on Pell grants.”

For all the other issues, the subject of the very first question lingered over everything else. The question was the candidates’ comments on the new financial regulatory reform law. This law sought to correct the practices of investment houses on Wall Street, which contributed so much to the nation’s present difficult economic difficulties. Courtney said that he strongly supported this measure, because he wanted to be assured that what happened with the markets in 2008, “should never happen again.” He pointed out that this new law established new standards of transparency regarding the investments offered by Wall Street firms to investors, so that, specifically, “buyers should know what they are buying.”

Deshefy said that the simple solution to regulatory reform was to reenact the Glass-Stiegel Act, which required the separation of investment banks and the commercial banks, a law that was repealed during the Clinton administration. Courtney told the Green Party candidate that there simply were not enough votes in the Congress to reenact this measure.

For her part Peckinpaugh said that the new Department of Consumer affairs in the new financial regulatory law, “might not go far enough,” considering, as she put it, “the little that I know about the financial bill.”  She also said the biggest challenge in the state and nation was to create jobs, “and the way to create jobs is to limit government.”

Courtney for his part mentioned a number of areas where new jobs could be created, including “finding new business opportunities overseas for Connecticut businesses,” increasing the solar technology industry and increasing jobs at Electric Boat in Groton, which he claimed he had funded with $1 billion in federal dollars.

Prior to the Congressional debate there was a debate between local state candidates. Incumbent Eileen Daily (D-33rd) sparred with her Republican challenger Neil Nichols over the issue of the current business environment in Connecticut. Nichols stated, “Connecticut is hostile to business,” adding that the state is “losing business” and “our children are leaving the state.” Daily countered that the state, “needs to focus on retraining” and charged, “The Governor should solicit business to come to Connecticut.”

Also participating in the debate were State Representative Marilyn Giuliano (R-23rd) and her challenger Democrat Eileen Baker, who ran against Guiliano in 2008.  

State Senator Andrea Stillman (D-20th) also was present but moderator Olwen Logan, co-owner of Shoreline Web News, LLC, advised the audience of around 150 that Stillman’s challenger, Daniel Docker, an EMT practitioner, had been called to an emergency and was unable to attend.

The debate was the last Congressional debate of the campaign. It was sponsored by the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.

Editor’s Note:  The Congressional debate was recorded by CT9. Details of the television broadcast schedule will be published on ValleyNewsNow as soon as they are announced.

Salem Towne Offers a New View on Witchcraft

A staged reading of Salem Towne, a new musical drama, will be presented at The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, “The Kate”, on Friday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m.  Twelve original songs presented by a cast of 13 accomplished performers, gives the opportunity to visit in a new way, the witchcraft hysteria prevalent in Salem in 1692.
Salem Towne is a powerful and moving drama portraying the best and worst of human nature.

Local composer/dramatist Linda Towne Clifford, who  is a direct descendant of Rebecca Nurse, hanged for the crime of witchcraft, weaves excerpts of the Salem witchcraft trials into dialogue and lyrics. 

Her ancestral connection and extensive research gives an intimate and poignant picture of the characters and events, and reminds us that the lessons of Salem continue to be relevant today.

Through the lyrical, melodic passages, the laughter and tears, the magic of her music ultimately reaffirms faith in the indomitable human spirit.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students.  Call 877-503-1286 to reserve tickets. The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center is located at 300 main Street, Old Saybrook. For more information, visit www.theKate.org or www.salemtowne.blogspot.com

Community Music School Salutes Community Champions

ESSEX – On Wednesday, Nov. 10, the Community Music School will present its 2010 Community Music School  Champions Awards at a breakfast event at the Essex Yacht Club, Novelty Lane, Essex. Essex Savings Bank will receive the Corporate Partnership Award and Patron Appreciation Awards will be given to Timothy Boyd of Deep River and Steve Haines of East Haddam.

“Community Music School is pleased to recognize those who have supported CMS and its mission and who strive to improve our community through the arts,” said Susan Saltus, president of the Music School board of trustees. 

Essex Savings Bank has been serving the banking and financial needs of the community for over a century and a half and was a vital partner in the School’s recent expansion. Through its Community Investment Program, the Bank provides grants to area non-profit organizations that help to meet basic needs and enrich residents’ lives.

Timothy Boyd served on the CMS Board of Directors for 7 years, four as vice president and two as president. Tim’s initial interest in CMS came as a result of his son’s involvement as a young student of classical guitar. Under his leadership, CMS evolved to include new programming, additional studio space, and the launch of Vina Musica, an annual spring fund raiser to benefit the scholarship fund. Tim is currently president of the Connecticut River Museum board and a trustee of Essex Winter Series.

Steven G. Haines was a member of the CMS Board of Directors for 2 years, serving as president from 2009-2010. His steady leadership guided CMS through a time of transition with support, creativity, and enthusiasm. Steve is the Director of Information Technology for Centerbrook Architects where he applies more than 20 years of experience to leading approximately 75 architects through the maze of technology used to practice architecture today. Steve’s wife Irene and two daughters, Katie and Bridget, have been a part of the CMS student family for many years.

Tickets are $30 per person and proceeds will benefit Community Music School, a not-for-profit organization. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Please call 860-767-0026 or visit www.community-music-school.org for additional information.

Essex Zoning Commission Approves Centerbrook Cheese Shop

ESSEX— The zoning commission Monday approved a special permit for a cheese shop in the vacant space at 31-33 Main Street in the Centerbrook section.

The panel acted after a public hearing where the proposed use drew no opposition, and statements of support from three residents. The shop will open in space formerly occupied by Centerbrook Package Store. The package store relocated about two years ago to the adjoining space formerly occupied by Doane’s Pharmacy, leaving its previous space in the small plaza vacant.

The commission agreed to a request from the applicant, Paul Partica of Old Saybrook, to consider the application as a straight retail use, rather than a grocery/food service use that has more stringent requirements for parking. Robert Doane, a local engineer representing the applicant, said parking at the commercial complex had been non-conforming for decades, though a large off street parking area in back of the complex provides adequate parking for customers. The complex currently houses the package store and Debbie’s Restaurant, which is open daily for breakfast and lunch but offers dinner only two nights per week.

Doane and the property owner, John Weinstein of Cheshire, said the peak business hours for the cheese shop and the package store would be different from the peak business hours for the restaurant. Doane and Robert Grillo, owner of the package store, said the complex has been less busy since the pharmacy closed more than three years ago.

Partica said the shop would be open five or six days each week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It would offer gourmet cheeses, coffees, and some speciality food items. He said customers would be “in and out”, with no cooking and no on site consumption of food.

Tom Burns, a local resident, said parking has never been a problem for the complex. “If you can’t find a space in the front one is always available in the back,” he said. Another resident described the cheese shop as a “perfect fit” for the small plaza.

In approving the permit, the commission added conditions prohibiting cooking and on site consumption of food. Partica said he hopes to open the shop before the start of the Christmas holiday shopping season.

Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

Nobel Laureate, Centerbrook Architect Explore How to Make a Village for Science

Cold Spring Harbor Labs, NY

ESSEX, CT – Nobel Laureate Dr. James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, and William Grover, partner emeritus of Centerbrook Architects, explore “Making a Village for Science,” an overview of their 34-year collaboration at the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) on Long Island.  Their illustrated presentation, part of the third annual Centerbrook Architecture Series presented by the Essex Library, is on Thursday, Nov. 11 at the Essex Meadows Auditorium from 7 to 8 p.m.  Admission is free; call (860) 767-1560 to register. 

Although hailing from quite distinct professions, the two men agreed that the process of scientific discovery could be served by compelling architecture that affords places for interaction, quiet contemplation, and leisure – whether bird watching, sailing, or tennis – as well as venues designed for casual sociability and collegiality.  Scientists do not succeed by test tubes alone, they reasoned.
 
In its 120th year and home to seven Nobel Laureates, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s 400-plus scientists conduct research into the fundamentals of genetics with a focus on cancer, neuroscience, genomics and bioinformatics, plant biology and quantitative biology.  Their work bears on diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Autism.  

The determination by Dr. Watson and the late Francis Crick in 1953 that DNA is shaped like a double helix, or a gently twisting ladder, ranks among the greatest discoveries of the 20th century.  Watson, who was 25 at the time, would go on to other important discoveries, to serve as Director of the Human Genome Project, to teach at Harvard, to write eight books, and to guide Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory into the forefront of research institutions as its Director from 1968 to 1994, and afterwards as President and Chancellor until 2007.  He is now Chancellor Emeritus and still an avid tennis player.

A founding partner of Centerbrook Architects, William Grover worked on 25 building projects at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory from 1973 to 2007, including, most recently, the Watson School of Biological Sciences and the new Hillside Research Campus.  His body of work garnered 45 design awards and was widely published, in The New York Times, Architecture Digest, Life Magazine, and elsewhere.  Mr. Grover is a graduate of the Yale School of Architecture.  An Essex resident, he is on the board of directors and is past president of the Essex Land Trust.
 
Essex Meadows is at 30 Bokum Road in Essex (http://www.essexmeadows.com/directions/).  Admission is free; call (860) 767-1560 to register.

Essex Selectmen Plan November Hearing on Regional Health District

ESSEX— The board of selectmen is planning another public hearing in November on the option of joining the Connecticut River Valley Regional Health District.

First Selectman Phil Miller said the board agreed at its Oct. 20 meeting to hold a new public hearing and information session on the health district next month. The district, established in July 2006, is currently comprised of the towns of Clinton, Deep River, and Old Saybrook. The district office is in Old Saybrook.

Essex has held two public hearings on the regional health district. The first, in June 2006, led the board of selectmen to defer any further action after the option drew a generally negative response from residents at the hearing. A second hearing held last February drew a mixed response from a crowd of about 80 residents, with some expressions of support for joining the district.

The health district received new attention earlier this month with the resignation of Dr. William McCann, a local physician who had served as the town’s part-time health director for about two years. Miller appointed Mary Jane Engle, the former Westbrook town sanitarian, as acting health director on Oct. 12.

Miller said Engle would work about three to five hours each week in Essex on a month-to month basis while selectmen consider the future of the town’s public health efforts. Miller’s move drew a complaint from minority Republican Selectman Joel Marzi, who contended Miller should have discussed his plans with the full board of selectmen before naming Engle to the interim position.

Marzi said Monday he would prefer the board investigate hiring a full-time sanitarian who could also serve as health director. But Marzi did not object to holding a new public hearing on the regional health district.

The board will discuss the issue further, and set a date for the public hearing, at its next regular meeting on Nov. 4.

Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

Between Us: Just Don’t Do It

The notion that simple solutions exist to knotty problems should trigger a host of red flags.

I have a bone to pick with “just,” because in at least one of its permutations, it lies.

My dictionary defines “just” in its adverbial sense as ”simply; no more than,” which, when you think about it, “just” seldom is.

Consider, for example,  Nike’s admonition to “Just do it,” and Nancy Reagan’s solution to the lure of recreational drugs: “Just say no.”

If it were as simple as Nike and Nancy would have us believe–if we’d “just” lace up our running shoes, and “just” decline the drug du jour—then the percentage of obese adults (34%) and obese kids (17%) would fall to zero, and zero drug use would mean we were all clean.

The point here, is that with campaign season upon us, and about as unavoidable as a 900-pound, halitosis-ridden gorilla on the coffee table, the notion that simple solutions exist to knotty problems should trigger a host of red flags.

Because in these days of financial uncertainties, social realignments, and toxic exchanges that pass for public discourse, chances are, if the solution to any problem were as simple and obvious as “just” doing it implies, whatever the “it” was, it would have been done, and we’d all be seeing its beneficial effects.

Unfortunately, there exist a number of office seekers this fall for whom the “just” admonition constitutes the entirety of their political platform, while any concrete, creative change that might result from their rhetoric is either immaterial or non-existent.

In New York, for example, gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino has come up with the simple (or simplistic, depending on your views) notion of “taking a baseball bat” to Albany.  According to some polls, this “just” approach resonates with more than a few voters who note that Mr. Paladino’s campaign reflects their “anger” at political “insiders.”

But as columnist Clyde Haberman noted recently in the New York Times, if Mr. Paladino “believes that he can waltz into Albany with his baseball bat and, as he vows, pound it into cutting state taxes by 10 percent in his first six months and state spending by 20 percent in his first year, he better own a helmet that fits well.”

Leaving aside the question of whether anger represents a viable methodology to bring about constructive change, consider the impact on the public discourse of both public and private voices who lay claim to some sort of real Americanism by virtue of their “just”-ness—as in “just” being Every-day Joes and Josephines— while at the same time exhibiting little or no grasp of basic American democratic tenants.

It is apparently came as a news flash to Christine O’Donnell, a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Delaware, that the First Amendment to the Constitution forbids the establishment of any national religion, or the preference of one religion over any other.

And apparently neither Dred Scott v. Sandford— in which the Supreme Court ruled that people of African descent were, in effect, non-citizens—nor Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down separate public schooling for black and white children, were sufficient blips on Sarah Palin’s radar screen that she could cite them as pivotal moments of American history, despite her highly-touted image as a patriot and a representative of the American Everyperson.

Further, it seems that along with ratcheting up public rancor and attempting to pass off “Don’t Tread On Me” as the solution to convoluted national problems, some voices out there are equating ignorance with chic–or at least evidence of some sort of “real” patriotism.

The more a candidate demonstrates ignorance of basic English; the more a candidate dismisses educated, critical thinking as “elite,” the more, in the candidate’s own parlance, those gaffes qualify them as “real” Americans. (Or, as Ms. Palin put it in a recent tweet, “‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’  English is a living language.  Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”)

Fraught times can morph the most innocuous-seeming words into distinct threats to clear thinking, to informed public discourse, even to the basic understanding of who we are as citizens in a working democracy.

“Just” is one of those words.

Benjamin Franklin famously described the American experiment as “a republic—if we can keep it.”

That’s an admonition to informed debate and careful considerations, not “just” sloganeering; sloppy, uninformed rhetoric, and simplistic reasoning.

Come to think of it, let me tweak the title of this piece with the power of punctuation.  How about “Just: Don’t Do It.”

Trish Bennett’s award-winning column, “Between Us,” ran in the Main Street News for many years.  She holds a master of science degree in journalism and was adjunct professor of media history at Quinnipiac University before relocating Bryn Mawr, PA.  Her latest work appears in “This I Believe: On Love,” a collection of essays submitted for broadcast on National Public Radio, and on sale in stores nationwide beginning Nov. 9.  

Tri-Town Youth Services Telethon

Volunteer callers from Chester, Deep River, and Essex will be making calls to fellow residents of the tri-town area on behalf of Tri-Town Youth Services’ Telethon 2010 during the evenings of November 8, 9 and 10, seeking support for the nonprofit agency.

For over 25 years, Tri-Town Youth Services has provided a wide array of programs to youth and their families including parent education and support, positive youth development activities, counseling and referral services, and substance abuse prevention, to name a few.

Tri-Town receives some state and municipal funding, several miscellaneous grants, holds fundraising events such as Taste of the Valley, collects program fees, and is dependant upon donations to meet its operating budge.  Especially in these difficult economic times, community support is essential to help the agency be able to continue to provide services for local families.  For further information, contact Gail Onofrio at Tri-Town: 860-526-3600.

Holiday Wines at Essex Library

Choosing the right wine for your holiday entertainment can make the difference between a mere meal and a feast. But how to choose that perfect vintage, and avoid expensive mistakes?

Join wine expert Steve Hargraves from Shore Discount Liquors at the Essex Library on Thursday, Nov. 4 at 5:30 P.M. for Holiday Wines, a tasting tour of wines specially selected to complement your holiday menus, whether you’re serving a crowd or a few. 

The program is free and open to anyone over 21, but advance registration is requested. Please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560 for more information.

Gala to Benefit Camp Hazen YMCA

Denise Learned, Executive Director/CEO of Camp Hazen YMCA and James Miller from “Night at the Theatre” Gala Sponsor Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller and Shah, LLP

The 7th Annual Night at the Theatre gala to benefit Camp Hazen YMCA will be held on Nov. 6, at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester. This will be Camp Hazen’s only fundraising event with all proceeds benefiting the more then 9,000 children who each year participate in Camp Hazen YMCA’s summer and year-round camping programs.

The evening will begin at 7:30 pm with a Reception and Silent Auction followed by a new Goodspeed musical.  For the first time ever, the beloved story of James and the Giant Peach becomes a new musical!

When James is shipped off to live with his wretched aunts, he longs for a real family and a new home. All seems lost until he discovers a magical giant peach filled with a mix of fantastical creatures. Together with Green Grasshopper, Ladybug, Centipede and more, James embarks on a most extraordinary adventure sailing across the sea to distant lands. This promises to be a spectacular event for all ages.

Tickets are $75 and are available from Camp Hazen YMCA at (860)526-9529.

Kenneth W. Kells 10/23/10

Kenneth K. Wells of 7 Conklin Avenue, Essex passed away on 10/23/10.

Governor Rell Reappoints Bartlett as Chester Harbor Master

Governor M. Jodi Rell has reappointed George “Gill” Bartlett of Deep River as Harbor Master for the harbors and navigable waterways of Chester. Bartlett will have the responsibility of overseeing Chester’s shoreline along Chester Creek and the Connecticut River.

Bartlett is owner of Chester Point Marina (www.chesterpointmarina.com), one of four boating facilities using Chester Creek for access to the Connecticut River and offering significant water access opportunities. He has served as Chester’s harbormaster for four years.

Connecticut harbor masters must ensure the safety of all vessels from commercial fishing boats to canoes and kayaks. They are given with the responsibility of taking care of local harbors, supervising the waterways and are on call 24 hours a day to respond to any emergencies.

“Gill is committed to keeping Chester’s waterways as safe as they can possibly be,” Governor Rell said.  “His extensive background in maritime issues makes him well qualified to continue to handle this responsibility.  I thank him for his continued service to the State of Connecticut.”

Bartlett will serve for a term ending June 30, 2012 or until a successor is appointed and has qualified, whichever is longer.

For more information on Connecticut’s Harbor Masters please visit: http://www.ct.gov/dot/cwp/view.asp?A=1380&Q=259728.

Dr. Levy Issues a Statement

The following statement was issued Oct. 22 by Dr. Levy, Superintendent of Region 4 Public Schools, in response to the Public Hearing held the previous evening regarding personnel issues in the district.

“On behalf of the Region #4 Board of Education and the Administration, I would like to thank you for your comments and questions at the Region 4 Public Hearing last evening.   We always appreciate community involvement as we continually review and revise policies and practices within our district.  Responses to questions received thus far are currently being researched and will be posted on our website (www.reg4.k12.ct.us) by the end of the day on Wednesday, October 27, 2010. If you were unable to attend the meeting last evening, please remember that the board always welcomes public input which can be submitted via the Superintendent’s office or at a regularly scheduled board meeting.”

Local Towns To Receive Federal Funds for Boating ‘Pump-Out’ Programs

Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that more than $1 million in federal funds will be used to continue or expand “pump-out” programs along Long Island Sound to provide boaters with a convenient and environmentally safe way to dispose of sewage from their vessels.

“Long Island Sound is clearly one of the most important natural resources for our state. It defines Connecticut in so many ways and our stewardship of it must never waver. Preserving and improving the water quality in the Sound is a priority and will be for generations,” Governor Rell said.

“Working together with our federal and local partners we have made significant strides toward eliminating discharges from boats, making our waters and beaches cleaner,” the Governor said.

The Governor said the success of the pump-out program, funded through the federal Clean Vessel Act (CVA) program, has allowed Connecticut to designate all of Long Island Sound as a ‘No Discharge Area’ in 2007 and the grants being awarded will finance upgrades to existing facilities and construction of new ones.

Federal officials said the Connecticut CVA program, along with one other state program, received the highest federal grant award this year.

“Connecticut is a great example of how the program should work and we are pleased to support this success with these grants,” said Alberto Ortiz, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Region CVA Coordinator

New projects this year span the coastline of Connecticut and include two important upgrades and one new construction in Milford.  A brand new pump-out boat offloading connection and dock are being funded at the municipal sewage treatment facility in Stonington Harbor as well as a new pump-out station at O’Sullivans Island in Derby on the Housatonic River.  The grants will also support construction at the Darien Boat Club in Noroton Harbor and the purchase of a new pump-out vessel in Mystic.

The CVA funding is supported by excise taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and boat fuels. Up to 75 percent of the cost of an approved project may be reimbursed under the program, which is designed to increase the availability of proper waste handling facilities for boaters and reduce the discharge or poorly treated or untreated sanitary wastes into the waters of Long Island Sound and its harbors. 

Since 1993, the CVA program has awarded more than $8 million in grants since 1993, providing grants to small marine business owners, municipalities, and non-profit organizations.  With the success of this program, sufficient facilities exist so that the entire Connecticut side of Long Island Sound has been designated as a No-Discharge Area with U.S. EPA approval. 

For more information about this program, visit the DEP web page at www.ct.gov/dep/cva or contact Kate Hughes Brown, Grants and Outreach Coordinator, at (860) 424-3652 or by email at kate.brown@ct.gov.

Following is a list of projects being funded this year:

Clean Vessel Act Grants Awarded – 2011 Boating Year
     
Pump-out Boat Programs
Branford, Town of Branford $38,370.00
Bridgeport Port Authority Bridgeport $36,596.25
Coastal Environmental Services Mystic $197,050.10
Essex, Town of Essex  $86,062.40
Soundkeeper, Inc. Norwalk  $147,933.98
Save The River/Save The Hills, Inc. Waterford  $22,087.50
Stratford, Town of Stratford  $36,454.00
Westerly, Town of Westerly  $52,048.00
     
New Construction/Upgrade Projects
Coastal Environmental Services Mystic  $35,250.00
Derby, City of Derby  $48,750.00
Milford Boat Works Milford  $22,349.25
Milford Lisman Landing Marina Milford  $13,215.00
Stonington, Town of Stonington  $43,200.00
Darien Boat Club Darien  $47,100.00
Milford Harbor Marina Milford  $17,130.00
     
Pumpout Operation and Maintenance Grants
American Wharf Development Corporation Norwich  $5,456.25
BDRM, Inc. (d/b/a/ Brewer Deep River Marina) Deep River  $10,240.05
Beacon Point Marine Cos Cob  $9,750.00
Captain’s Cove Marina Of Bridgeport, Inc. Bridgeport  $442.50
Cedar Island Marina Inc. Clinton  $3,671.25
Cedar Marina, Inc. Bridgeport  $2,550.00
Chrisholm Marina Chester  $9,375.00
Clinton Yacht Haven Dockominium Association, Inc. Clinton  $2,137.00
Crocker’s Boatyard, Inc. New London  $10,199.25
DEP Marine Headquarters Old Lyme  $22,815.00
Groton, City of Groton  $15,825.00
Hays Haven Marina, Inc. Chester  $2,850.00
Marine Holdings of Stratford, Inc. (d/b/a Brewer Stratford Marina) Stratford  $4,050.00
Mystic River Marina Mystic  $2,662.50
Mystic River Properties, Inc. (d/b/a Brewer Yacht Yard at Mystic) Mystic  $3,446.25
Niantic Dockominium Association, Inc New Haven  $3,862.00
Norwalk, City of Norwalk  $5,597.63
Pilots Point Marina, Inc. (d/b/a Brewer Pilots Point Marina) Westbrook  $52,875.00
Pine Island Marina Groton  $1,619.89
Port Niantic, Inc. Niantic  $1,425.00
Portland Boat Works, Inc. Portland  $4,176.00
Rex Marine Center, Incorporated Norwalk  $1,923.00
Saybrook Point Marina Old Saybrook  $6,862.50
Shennecossett Yacht Club, Incorporated Groton  $300.00
Thamesport Marina LLC New London  $5,073.00
Unit Owners Association at Guilford Yacht Club, Inc. Guilford  $5,662.50
     
Total Grants Awarded for 2011 Boating Season   $1,038,443.05

Chester Meeting House Players to Present Earth and Sky

The Chester Meeting House Players will be presenting  Douglas Post’s murder mystery “Earth and Sky” at the Meeting House Oct. 29 & 30 and Nov. 5, 6, 12 & 13. 

“Earth and Sky” is a poetic thriller about a would-be poet and part-time librarian named Sara McKeon who’s lover of ten weeks, David Ames, is found dead one hot August morning in the city of Chicago. 

It appears that David, owner and manager of an expensive art-deco restaurant, may have been involved in several illicit activities including kidnapping, rape and murder.  Unable to believe the man she gave her heart to was a killer, and outraged that the police seemed to have closed the book on the case, Sara begins her own investigation of the crime and is led deeper and deeper through an urban labyrinth into a contemporary underworld. 

As the detective story moves forward in time, scenes from the love affair take us back to the moment when Sara and David first met.  Finally the plots converge and Sara finds herself face to face with the person who murdered her beloved. The piece is directed by Debbie Alldredge and features an ensemble of talented area actors.

Ticket prices are $15 for limited reserved seating and $10 for open seating.  To make reservations for both limited reserve and open seating tickets or for additional information and directions please call (860) 526-3684. The Meeting House Players is a not-for-profit community theatre organization.  We pursue the theatre arts with the talents and interests of people throughout Connecticut.

Crowd Challenges Region 4 Board on Handling of Personnel Matters

REGION 4— More than 100 residents turned out for a special meeting Wednesday night to challenge the Region 4 Board of Education over the handling of personnel in the school district, particularly the abrupt departure earlier this month of newly hired Valley Regional High School Principal Eric Rice.

Residents packed the library/media center at John Winthrop Middle School for the meeting that had been forced by a petition signed by more than 180 residents of the district towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex. Most of the concern was prompted by the departure of Rice, a Chester resident who resigned from the principal position effective Oct. 12. Speculation about Rice’s departure began in mid September, barely three weeks after the start of the school year, with reports that he had been given a resign-or-be-fired ultimatum from Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy for unspecified reasons.

The crowd wanted to talk about Rice’s departure, but rules established by the board for the meeting directed the crowd to “refrain from discussing specific personnel situations, or specific former or current staff members.” The meeting was run by Anne Littlefield, a lawyer for the school district.

But the ground rules did not stop residents from questioning the circumstances of Rice’s departure, along with the departure last May of a former assistant superintendent. Diane Dugas resigned as assistant superintendent of schools in mid-May without completing her first academic year with Region 4. She had been hired over the summer of 2009, replacing Levy as assistant superintendent after Levy had assumed the district’s top job in June 2009.

While most of the comment from the crowd during the 75-minuite session was limited to questions that were not immediately answered by the board, there were also claims the Rice and Dugas exits included costly severance packages, and that students at the high school are under a “gag order” not to discuss Rice’s departure.

Zack Sanders, a senior from Chester, declared that rumors of a “gag order” at the high school are true and that students were prevented from raising the subject of the principal’s exit during discussion at the Current Issues class that is required for all seniors.

Eileen Steinfeldt, a Chester resident who organized a Sept. 23 protest rally outside the district’s administrative offices after reports about Rice ‘situation surfaced, said she wants to know more about the severance packages received by Rice and Dugas. Steinfeldt said after the meeting she has heard the severances totaled more than $100,000 for Rice and more than $200,000 for Dugas.

During the meeting Steinfeldt noted the severance payments could have helped pay salaries for teachers, or purchased books and supplies for students. Levy and Board Chairwoman Linda Hall of Deep River declined to comment on a possible severance package when announcing Rice’s departure on Oct. 12.

Allison Liggett of Chester said she is concerned about a “lack of continuity” among district administrators. As Littlefield attempted to curtail her comments, Liggett declared the “coerced resignation” of Rice had set a poor example for students, tarnished the district’s reputation, and made it more difficult to recruit qualified educators for Region 4. “Two weeks is not enough time to evaluate anyone,” she said.

Jeffrey Liggett, her husband, told the board, Levy, and Assistant Superintendent Ian Nevaiser that he has lost confidence ‘in everybody that is sitting at that table right now.”

Michael Sanders, Zack’s father, said he son had schooled under four principals during his years at VRHS. “That’s not a lot of continuity as far as an example of leadership.” he said.

Several residents questioned whether the board was fully exercising its role in personnel issues, or giving Levy and Nevaiser too much authority to act independently. “It centralizes too much power outside of the board,” said Leonard Wyeth of Ivoryton.

Hall told residents the board would discuss the concerns raised at the meeting, and attempt to answer some of the questions from residents, at its next regular meeting on Nov. 4.

Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

Halloween Celebration in Chester with Parade and Festival

Last Year's Halloween Celebration

Halloween comes early to Chester – this year, it’ll be celebrated on Friday, Oct. 29, from 5 to 9 p.m. As Kim Kellogg, Chester resident and owner of The Local Beet, says, “For many years, the spooky and spunky Chester Halloween Parade and Dance Party has been a favorite community event. Costumed parade-goers wind down Maple Street through Chester’s magical villagescape to arrive at the center where monster mash music fills the air.”

This year, Kim has been instrumental in organizing Chester’s first-ever Halloween Hayrides through the historic Laurel Hill Cemetery off Main Street, to add some “ghoulish family fun to the festivities.” The hayrides will be offered from 5:30 to 9, at a cost of $4 per person. The Chester PTO will sell cider, doughnuts and chili.

The Halloween Costume Parade will convene at the Maple Street parking lot at 6:15 p.m. and commence at 6:30 on a path toward the town’s center. This year’s parade will be led by a clean-burning biodiesel tractor celebrating Chester’s green living, and everyone is invited to join in. From 7 to 9, DJ Shawn will rock the town with spooky serenades in front of The Local Beet. Bring your dancing shoes. Those in costume can enter a raffle to win gift certificates from local shops.

Everyone is encouraged to bring a carved pumpkin to The Hammered Edge, 14 Main Street, by 5 p.m., to help provide a spooky glow during the evening (just don’t forget to collect it on your way home). The art galleries, stores, and restaurants will be open until 9 p.m.to welcome visitors and families with special treats. The Chester Museum at The Mill will also be open all evening, with free admission, so that visitors can see the “Closing of the Barn Door Exhibit,” with paintings and artworks by Chester artists.

This is the 11th year the Merchants of Chester have sponsored this Annual Halloween  Festival and Parade. Consult www.Visit-Chester.com for the continually updated listing of the town’s weekend and special events or call 860-526-5554 for more information. 

The following Chester Merchants will be open the evening of October 29:

Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery
One Spring Street, 860-526-2077
www.nilssonstudio.com
Halloween exhibit of a selection of oil paintings of the artist’s garden, his travels and the Connecticut River Valley by Leif Nilsson with a reception from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. This show runs through Nov. 28. Open Weekends Noon – 6 pm. Other times by chance or appointment.

Caryn B. Davis
1 Spring Street, 860-526-5936
www.cbdphotography.com
Chester photographer Caryn B. Davis will exhibit photographs from her travels to Italy, Portugal, Martha’s Vineyard, Puerto Rico and Mexico at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery at 1 Spring Street. 

Ceramica
Ceramica invites revelers of all ages to visit the shop Friday evening from 5:00 to 8:00…
Guess the number of Halloween candies on display. The closest ‘guesser’ will be announced at 7:30 pm. The winner will receive our hand-painted covered box from Tuscany (perfect for storing your magic potions or vampire ‘dental work’!)
Note to Dads and Moms: Don’t be ‘SPOOKED’ about visiting CERAMICA with your little Trick or Treaters…We always enjoy seeing your entire family !

C&G – Unparalleled Apparel, Seasonal & Timeless
3 North Main Street, 860.526.3284
www.cgchester.com
Treats for all including a grab bag of coupons for 10, 20, 30 and 40% off a favorite item. Also in the grab bag, certificates for a free “Little Brown Bat” print by Jan Cummings, and for “BLUE 2011,” the artful, literate and very long calendar designed by Jan Cummings and Peter Good. Open late on Halloween Night. Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 12 to 5.

Chester Gallery
860-526-9822; chestergallery@att.net
We will be featuring a limited selection of Sol LeWitt prints.  Stop in from 5 to 7 and enjoy a glass of wine. Costumes encouraged!   Hours: Tues thru Sat 10 – 5.   

Chester Historical Society’s Chester Museum at The Mill
9 West Main St., 860-526-2331
www.ChesterHistoricalSociety.org
The “Closing the Barn Door” Reception and barn art sale will be from 5 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 29.  Admission to the museum will be free for the evening.  Come and enjoy refreshments and Chester barn scenes produced by our own Chester artists.  Great holiday presents and 50% of the proceeds go to the Museum.

Connecticut River Artisans
5 West Main Street
860 526-5575
The Artisans are featuring Jane White’s October Show “On The Road Again” with new paintings of New England, which also include house portraits and pet portraits. The Gallery at The Mill House has paintings of Ellie Pringle of Higganum and Renni Ridgeway-Korsemeyer of Old Lyme.  Their show theme is “New England Landscapes.” Refreshments will be served from 5-8pm. 

Dina Varano
27 Main Street, 860-526-8866
http://dinavarano.com
Join us on Friday, October 29 for an inspiring evening of spirited drinks, creative costumes and treats for you and your family.  We will be open from 5-9.  Stop by and see the village glowing with pumpkins and join the festivities!  Happy Halloween!!
 
Goodspeed Musicals – The Norma Terris Theatre
33 North Main Street, 860-873-8668
Join us for the 8 p.m. performance of James and the Giant Peach, a new musical based on the beloved Roald Dahl story, featuring the choreography of Pilobolus.  Known for their startling mix of humor and invention, Pilobolus dancers join the actors to bring to life some of the most imaginative characters ever seen in a musical! Not just for kids; adults will also be fascinated by the imagination and creativity in this production. Tickets $42.

Hammered Edge llc Studio & Gallery
14 Main Street, 860-526-1654
www.hammerededge.com
NIGHT OF THE HAMMERED EDGE! Friday October 29 from 5-8 pm. We are your source for festive costume wear. Choose from among our many masks, exotic hats, funky eyewear, and accessories. Come in costume and/or bring a jack-o-lantern (battery-lit only). There will be treats for all and all are welcome! We specialize in jewelry, beads, buttons, repairs, world artifacts, custom-designed jewelry, masks and headdresses. Jewelry workshops by appointment.

Hitchery Books
4 Water Street, 860-526-8722
www.hitcherybooks.com
Come by and see our collection of Halloween children’s books and get a special Halloween treat! We will be open until 8 p.m. on October 29.
 
Lori Warner Studio/Gallery
860-322-4265
www.loriwarner.com 
We’ll be dressed up in our spooky best. Come visit the gallery with the entire family from 5-9pm. New work unveiled that day and always something creative happening…come see!

Maple & Main Gallery of Fine Art
One Maple Street, 860-526-6065
www.mapleandmaingallery.com
The new Maple & Main Gallery will be exhibiting autumnal-themed paintings throughout the gallery, including our newly renovated downstairs gallery and studio space. We will be welcoming visitors from 5-9 pm with refreshments and our signature candy, M&M’s, for trick or treaters.

Peekabooquet n. cupcake
4 Water Street, 860-526-2225
www.peekabooquet.com
 Join us to celebrate Halloween.  Our unique fall clothing for newborns and toddlers to 6T is arriving weekly.  Winter will be here soon, so come in and see our absolutely adorable hats, mittens and scarves and get 10% off on all outerwear purchases.  And don’t forget to pick up your treat.  Always evolving, always new, you’ll love our stuff – we do.

Chester is a unique town that holds the past, present, and future in delightful balance. A storybook New England village, Chester is located on the left (port) bank of the beautiful Connecticut River, about 10 miles north of Long Island Sound. The town is renowned for its quaint shops, artist galleries and a variety of fantastic restaurants that all family members can enjoy. Easy to reach by car, rail, air, or boat, a convenient two-hour drive from NYC and Boston, Chester is located at exit 6 on Rte. 9, which is easily accessible from I-95 and I-91.

33rd Senate Rivals Daily and Nichols Debate in Clinton

CLINTON— State bonding policy sparked the sharpest differences Wednesday night as State Senator Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, and Republican challenger Neil Nichols of Essex debated the issues before an audience at Morgan High School in Clinton.

The debate, one of a handful of joint encounters between the candidates this fall, was sponsored by the Morgan Political Club, with  students posing most of the questions. About 80 voters, most of them commited supporters of each candidate, turned out to watch the debate.

Daily, who served as first selectwoman of Westbrook from 1983-1989, is seeking her tenth term in the nine-town district that stretches from Clinton to Colchester and includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex. Nichols is a former Pan American Airlines pilot who ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2006 in the 36th House District.

Despite some sharp differences, the candidates agreed on several priorities and were cordial to each other throughout the one-hour session. Nichols contended Daily, as an 18-year incumbent, shares responsibility for the state’s fiscal problems and what he described as an “anti-business” economic climate.

Daily, who has co-chaired the Legislature’s Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, maintained the fiscal crisis was eased by steps taken in the current and previous fiscal years, which include an unexpended surplus now estimated at $449 million as of June 30, 2010. “We do have a more solid base than anybody would like to have you believe,” she said.

Nichols said lax standards for bonding have left Connecticut with the highest per capita debt of any state in the nation. He called for a  “top to bottom review of all departments, commissions, agencies and programs,” followed by a 15 percent reduction in spending from the current state budget.

But it was Nichol’s comments on state bonding that prompted the sharpest exchange of the debate, as Daily asked him which bonding appropriations for local projects in the 33rd District he would have opposed.

Nichols, who maintains bonding should be focused on statewide infrastructure projects, acknowledged he “has a real problem with STEAP (Small Town Economic Assistance Program) grants.” Several district towns, including Deep River, Essex, and Portland, have received STEAP grants for municipal projects in recent years.

Daily declared she was a “proud co-author” of legislation creating the STEAP grant program as a way to direct some state bonding funds to the smaller towns. “There are a lot of worthy projects,” she said, adding “at least the ones in my district.”

The candidates agreed on several issues and goals, with each pledging to seek state support for acquisition of the former Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant property in Haddam Neck and the Preserve property in Old Saybrook and Essex for protection as open space land. Both candidates expressed support for the civil unions law that paved the way for gay marriage in Connecticut. But while declaring he has no objections to gay rights, Nichols said he is a Roman Catholic who remains pro-life on the abortion issue.

Author Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

Essex Zoning Sets Hearing on Proposed Centerbrook Cheese Shop

ESSEX—   The zoning commission has scheduled a Monday public hearing on a special permit application for a cheese shop in vacant space at 31-33 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. The public hearing begins at 7 p.m. in town hall.

Paul Partica of Old Saybrook is the applicant for the proposed shop in the space that was formerly occupied by Centerbrook Package Store. The package store had expanded about two years ago and moved to the adjoining space that had been occupied by the former Doane’s Pharmacy . The small shopping plaza that also houses Debbie’s Restaurant is owned by John Weinstein/ JMB Properties LLC of Cheshire.

The special permit application calls for retail sales of cheese, coffees, and speciality food items.

Author Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

Talking Transportation: It’s All About Housing

Whether by car, by train or on a bike, the reason we must commute is that, most often, we don’t live where we work.  So any discussion of our transportation problems must include an understanding of our housing crisis in this area.
A recent report showed that housing in lower Fairfield County is the most expensive in the nation.  You need an income of $70,000 just to afford a two bedroom apartment in the Stamford – Norwalk corridor.

So, people who come to work here can only afford to live further afield.  Their daily drives / rides contribute to our congestion.  The solution?  More affordable housing!

A recent conference sponsored by Southwest Regional Planning Agency held some startling examples in that poster-boy of affluence, Greenwich.  This 67 square mile city of 61,000 has 5,545 town employees… teachers, cops, firefighters and the like.  However, 67% of those workers don’t live in Greenwich, but commute daily from Danbury, Bridgeport, Westchester and even Long Island.

They spend an average of 103 minutes per day just getting to and from work, paying more than $2,000 a year for gas.  Combined, they add 15,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, just by their commuting.
In a city where the median home price is $2 million, the average Greenwich city worker makes $65,000.  And because these teachers, civil servants and such have to come so far, they have to be paid more.  The average teacher in Greenwich earns $12,338 a year more than their counterparts elsewhere in the state.  These higher wages cost city taxpayers almost $19 million a year.  But their larger paychecks come at the cost of lost time and expense on the road.

The Greenwich schools spend $10,000 to $15,000 recruiting and training each new teacher.  But after five years of commuting (75% of the 912 teachers don’t live in Greenwich), they burn out, leave and find jobs elsewhere.  Between 1998 and 2007, 581 teachers left Greenwich for reasons other than retirement and 81% of them had less than eight years on the job.

EMS workers in Greenwich have it even worse, averaging 151 minutes (2 ½ hours!) commute time.  Just how fresh and ready for life-saving work do you think you’d be with a commute like that?

Greenwich is not unique.  All of the towns on “the Gold Coast” rely on importing personnel from far afield.  Schools in Darien often announce “snow days” not because its roads are impassable, but because teachers can’t drive through the snows farther north from communities like Danbury where can afford to live.

And what about the people that bag your groceries, clean your home or pump your gas?  Where do you think they live?  Just drive the Boston Post Road some morning and you’ll see them waiting for the bus.

Fairfield County has its own “migrant workers”.  We couldn’t live without them, but apparently we don’t want to live with them.  Just listen to the local debates about adding “affordable housing” in these affluent towns.   Whether because of their nationality or economic status, the expressed aversion to “those people” living in “our” towns is clearly xenophobic if not racist.

So how do we solve our transportation problems?  Well, one solution is clearly related to affordable housing.  Allow folks to live closer to their jobs and they won’t have to be in that car in front of you on I-95 or the Merritt at rush hour.

JIM CAMERON has been a commuter out of Darien for 19 years.  He is Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council, and a member of the Coastal Corridor TIA and the Darien RTM.  Read his column on LymeLine every other Monday.  You can reach him at Cameron06820@gmail.com or www.trainweb.org/ct .

Ghosts of a Train Crash on a Halloween Haunt

A Zombie (Lewis Avery)

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat company are partnering with another local company, Riverway Studio of East Haddam, to produce their latest holiday entertainment experience, The Fright Train.  The first Fright Train will be pulling out of Essex Station at 5.30 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 22, and promises to provide those who are brave enough to join the ride with a haunting Halloween experience.

“The Fright Train is yet again, another terrific example of how Essex Steam Train & Riverboat is continuing to evolve its entertainment experience,” says Robert Bell, President of The Valley Railroad Company.  Bob continues, “Once again, we’re delighted to collaborate with the producer of the Fright Train show, Riverway Studio from East Haddam, CT, our production partner for the successful North Pole Express, Lomax: The Hound of Music, and Murder Mystery shows.  Our mutual goal is always  to deliver a quality, on-board performance for family and friends.”

Zeke the Train Switchman (Dave Caffrey)

The scene will be set on a foggy evening and the anniversary of the Valley Railroad’s 1925 train wreck.  As the story goes, David, a working-class waiter in Fenwick, is traveling aboard the Connecticut Valley Line to visit his secret love Dahlia, the daughter of a wealthy, Hartford family. In his hand, an engagement ring with which to propose marriage. But, another train is approaching and Zeke, the reliable Deep River switchman, suffers a heart attack and never pulls the switch…

The Fright Train experience is recommended for children over 8 and adults.  The event will last approximately 1 hour and will cost $20 per person.  Future Fright Train rides are also scheduled for Oct. 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31. More details can be found, and tickets purchased from the Essex Steam Train website at www.essexsteamtrain.com.

Early Childhood Council Celebrates Success

Nearly 60 guests and celebrities from the local community attended the Early Childhood Council celebration on Friday evening, which took place at the Meeting House in Centerbrook.  The group met to recognize the achievements of the Early Childhood Council to date, and to increase awareness of the mission of the group within the community, both for families in financial need of support and for potential donors.  The ECC, which was founded by Marjorie Schofield more than 20 years ago, provides financial scholarships to local families to allow preschool children to receive schooling prior to beginning kindergarten.  

Guests at the event included State Senator Eileen Daily and State Representative James Spallone, as well as Region 4 Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ruth Levy. Dr. Levy’s presentation gave full support and backing of the Preschool Scholarship Fund and it’s ability “to start all children on an equal footing as they begin their journey of learning through the school system.” 

Generous donors contributed $850, which is equivalent to a one semester scholarship for one child from the community, plus an additional $100 toward a second child having this same gift of preschool before entering kindergarten.  Since its inception in 2000, the Preschool Scholarship Fund has now provided scholarships to seventy children.

“Our hope is that through broadening the base of our outreach, that we will be able to reach new donors and new worthy receipients of our Region 4 Preschool Scholarship Fund” says Director of the Program, Marjorie Schofield.

Further information about the program, testimonials from its previous recipients, and opportunites to donate can be found at their newly launched website www.earlychildhoodcouncil.com.

Career Column: Green Jobs

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Karen Goldfinger as a regular columnist.  Karen’s biweekly columns will focus on the world of work.  Dr. Goldfinger is a psychologist in Essex.  She has a special interest in career development, and she and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on-line career consultation to clients in Connecticut and New York.  In her private practice she specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, or forensic purposes. 

Love and work are fundamental. This column is about work, leaving love for others to expound on. Most of us have concerns about work these days, either for ourselves, our children, or someone else we care about. The world is changing, the job market is unlikely to return to what it once was, and people need to take steps to ensure their employability over the long term. That’s a good thing, because if we do that we have more control over our work lives than ever before.

I am writing this column to help readers think about their work lives and solve their work problems, from choosing a career wisely to landing the right job and knowing when and how to move on. I bring the perspective of a clinical psychologist with a special interest in career development. This is a large subject, with historical, economic, sociological, technological, and practical elements, in addition to the psychological. I will try to cover them all, in bits and pieces if not comprehensively.

Each month the column will focus on a topic related to the world of work. I will also provide information about careers in specific industries and tips about career related resources. I will present information that will interest a wide range of readers, from those thinking about their first job after college to older workers looking for a second or third career following retirement, both professionals and non-professionals. I hope that readers find something interesting and useful in every column.

Green Jobs

Green jobs are where politics, science, and the economy collide. At least $50 billion dollars of the stimulus bill (ARRA) enacted in early 2009 was targeted for green jobs. Concretely, the money is meant to be used for the development of electric cars, wind energy, a “smart grid”, weatherization programs, training grants and a range of other sustainable energy and conservation oriented goals. But the focus on green jobs is not new to the Obama administration. A Green Jobs Act was passed by Congress in December of 2007 and signed by President Bush to fund job training programs to support green industries. Government funding for green jobs is also international in scope, with programs in Europe beginning in 1997 and international labor and United Nations programs initiated in 2007. Green industries are likely to be expanding in coming years, given the push for renewable sources of energy and concerns about climate change.

A formal definition of green jobs was announced last week by the United States Department of Labor (September 21, 2010). Green jobs, officially, are:

  • Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.
  • Jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

These are jobs in renewable energy (wind, solar, biofuels, etc.), energy efficiency, pollution reduction and removal, conservation of natural resources, and environmental compliance and education. According to Department of Labor statistics, the largest percentage of green jobs are in the construction industry (38%, DOL, 2010) and in professional services/business (36%, DOL, 2010), but there are also green jobs in education, government, and other areas. Note that businesses and organizations of all types have sustainable energy initiatives and need staff to manage them.

Many people choose green jobs because of a sense of moral responsibility and the chance to have a positive impact on the world over the long term. Some choose green jobs because they are excited about finding solutions to challenging scientific and engineering problems with real world implications. For others, green jobs and green businesses are where the money is going for the foreseeable future, and they want to capture their share. An interest in the science and politics of green industries is relevant to all who pursue green careers, because opportunities in the field are evolving and those who are informed will be in the best position to make good career choices. Continually upgrading knowledge and skills will also be important, so if you pursue a green career, plan to keep on learning.

If you are interested in pursuing a green job for any or all of these reasons, there are a lot of resources to help you succeed.

From an education perspective, most states offer affordable training opportunities at the community college and university level. For example, at community colleges in Connecticut there are new grant-funded certification programs in sustainable and alternative energy that can be completed full-time in a year (or part-time over a longer period). More information is available at www.commnet.edu/soar/ChooseProgram.asp. At a more advanced level, students at Eastern Connecticut State University can minor in Sustainable Energy Studies in preparation for a career in energy policy. In New York, students can get a Bachelor’s degree in Alternative & Renewable Energy Systems at Canton College of Technology, a state college, or an Associate’s degree in Natural Conservation at Morrisville State College. These are representative of many examples. Every state has similar opportunities in state funded and private programs.

From a jobs perspective, you can search for green jobs at these and other websites: www.greenjobs.com/public/index.aspx and www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/greendreamjobs.main/?CFID=15371151&CFTOKEN=85027571.

Career Spotlight: Television Production

If you want to work in television production, start when you are young, plan to work really hard for long hours, especially early in your career, and be willing to relocate. Careers in television production are not for middle aged career changers or for the timid. But for young people who are energetic, ambitious, and talented, television production can offer an exciting career path with a lot of potential. Regardless of the state of the economy, a great deal of money is spent on creating entertainment, much of it for television (which does not seem to be going away as an entertainment medium), and television production is labor intensive. There are jobs for make-up artists, camera operators, sound technicians, casting agents, writers, producers, set and costume designers, directors, editors and other personnel. For all of these positions, workers have to learn their craft, whether at college, technical school, or elsewhere, and then they have to get their foot in the door, starting out as an assistant for a low wage. It is as viable a career path as any for young people with the right temperament and aspirations. If you are motivated enough, you will figure out how to get there on your own, but here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Find contacts in the industry through personal connections, faculty members, mentors or your school’s career office. These people can teach you about the industry and, if you are lucky, help open some doors.
  • Look for internship or entry level free lance production assistant opportunities, and while you are working at them, learn everything you can. Try these websites for internship and job possibilities: www.mandy.com, www.media-match.com/usa/.

Career Resource: Occupational Outlook Handbook

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2010-2011 is free and on line at www.bls.gov/oco/. This is a comprehensive resource that covers hundreds of occupations, providing detailed information about job responsibilities, training requirements, salaries, job titles, and job prospects. Some occupations are covered in more depth than others. For example, there is a good section on employment issues for lawyers. It is easy and worthwhile to explore the information available here whether you are thinking about a first career or a career change.

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net

Signs of the times, on a lawn near you

They’re everywhere. Or, so it seems. Remember the days when the only thing you saw on front lawns was beautiful plantings, flowers, decorative figures, and impeccably mowed grass.

But what have we now? Our lawns have become a battle ground for the November elections. First to stake her claim on the lawn scene, at least in Essex, was Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon. Clearly, there was money available for wide installation. 

Next in bloom were the lawn signs of Janet Peckinpaugh and Neil Nichols, Republican candidates for Congress and State Senate. Also, visible were letterings for Tom Foley and Mark Boughton, Republican candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.  Signs for Anselmo Delia for Judge of Probate were also in view.

Where were the Democrats? In this year of Tea Party politics, were they afraid, or too ashamed, to show their public offerings? But then, finally, the lawn signs for the Democratic ticket came into full bloom.

Leading the lawn poster parade were the signs of Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily. In fact, her signs for re-election were so prevalent; you almost felt she was leading the ticket. Still absent were the signs of the Democratic Senate candidate, Richard Blumenthal? Was he running as a stealth candidate?

Then, finally, in a late season blooming, on came the Democrats in full force, and the two-party system that we have in this country had been reaffirmed.  Up went the signs for Blumenthal for Senate, Joe Courtney for Congress, Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and Terry Lomme for Judge of Probate.  

Here are some views of the poster war:

Linda leads the way

Peckinpaugh and Nichols stake a claim

Anselno Delia joins them

On come the Democrats

Finally Blumenthal appears

Vocal Audition Workshop for Students at Goodspeed

CENTERBROOK – The Community Music School and Goodspeed Musicals will be presenting  a workshop/master class for high school and college students entitled ” The Inside Track to Successful Vocal Auditions ” on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 10 am to 12 pm at the Larry McMillian Rehearsal Studio, 21 Norwich Road, East Haddam on the Goodspeed Musicals campus. The workshop will be led by Richard Vida and James Beaman who are appearing in the Goodspeed’s production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. It will focus on essential audition techniques. Registration is limited to 15 students and the fee is $50.

Richard Vida

Richard Vida has appeared on Broadway and in the national and international touring companies of such productions as The Drowsy Chaperone, Les Miserables, 42nd Street, and Anything Goes, among others. As a teaching artist, Mr. Vida has provided instruction on audition and musical theater technique at the Tisch School of the Arts, University of Tampa, University of Wisconsin, and the Broadway Dance center. He has made numerous television and feature film appearances and is a four-time Telly Award winner. Mr. Vida has also served as a producer and talent director for Big Chief Entertainment in New York.

James Beaman

James Beaman has worked as a professional actor for 20 years in every stage genre – from Shakespeare to musical theatre and everything in between.  Most recently, his credits include role of Sir Robin in the First National Tour of the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Monty Python’s Spamalot; Albin in La Cage Aux Folles for the Ogunquit Playhouse Diamond Jubilee; the title role of Macbeth Off-Broadway; and both Annie Get Your Gun and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying for Goodspeed Musicals.  He was a resident teaching artist at Boston Children’s Theatre, teaching classical acting and musical theatre for teens, and directed the company’s touring unit, bringing theatre to inner city parks and schools.  He has participated in educational theatre programming for numerous reputable companies, including The Kennedy Center and Alabama Shakespeare Festival.  As a coach for actors in New York City, Mr. Beaman has helped talented professionals land plum roles in Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theatre productions. 

To register for the workshop, please call Community Music School at 860-767-0026.  For information on Goodspeed’s production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, visit www.goodspeed.org.

Haiti Week on Main Street

Main Hall at Hospital Albert Schweitzer (Photo by Melissa Harris)

Sister Cities Essex Haiti is holding its first fundraiser, Have a Heart for Haiti, on Friday, Oct. 22, on the grounds of the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, Connecticut from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.   All ticket proceeds will benefit Hôpital Albert Schweitzer. There will be opportunities “under the tent” to support Sister Cities Essex Haiti and the proposed Deschapelles library thropugh the Sister Cities Essex Haiti Library Project.

 In support of the benefit, several  stores along Essex’s Main Street will be participating in “Haiti Week on Main Street.”
 
Essex Books – Sue McCann will be featuring books on Haiti in her book store .  

The Essex Library will have a display of Haitian books as well examples of some of the kinds of books that will eventually be available in the childrens lending section of the Deschapelles Library.
 
The Ivoryton Library is organizing a Haitian Merengue Dancing Class to be held at the Centerbrook Meeting House from 6-8 Monday, Oct.18.  (Sign up required. Call 767-1252).
 
Village Provisions  will be making Haitian coffee daily.  They will contribute the profits to the Sister Cities Organization.  They have invitations available.
 
Essex Savings Bank will have a display about Hôpital Albert Schweitzer and Sister Cities Essex Haiti.
 
That’s the Spirit will have a privately owned Haitiain painting depicting Sugar cane growing, being harvested, and the making of sugar and rum in their front window along with displays of Rum Barbancourt and other tropical amenities.
 
Page Taft Realty will hang Haitian paintings on their walls which will be for sale.
 
Prestige Yachts will also continue to hang the metal art work that has been there since early February. 

 For more information about the fundraiser visit the Sister Cities for Haiti website.

Region 4 School Board Sets Oct. 21 Meeting on High School Principal Issue

REGION 4— Acting in response to a petition signed by more than 150 residents, the Region 4 Board of Education has scheduled an Oct. 21 special meeting on district personnel policies amid continued speculation about the possible dismissal of newly hired Valley Regional High School Principal Eric Rice.

The petition that was circulated in Chester, Deep River, and Essex asks the school board to hold a public meeting to clarify district personnel policy, particularly the process used in hiring or firing certified staff, such as a principal. State statutes governing regional school districts allow residents to petition for a district meeting, and require the school board to hold the meeting if a petition is signed by at least 50 registered voters from each town. The petitions submitted on Oct. 1 to Deep River Town Clerk Amy Winchell were signed by about 185 voters, including 57 from Deep River, 52 from Chester, and 76 from Essex.

Circulators of the petition are residents concerned about the possible dismissal of Eric Rice, a Chester resident who was hired over the summer as principal at the high school. Reports that Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy had told Rice to resign or face dismissal surfaced around Sept. 23, but Rice has remained on the job in succeeding days with no move by the superintendent for his removal.

The school district issued an “official statement” on Sept. 24, declaring that school officials and board members could not comment on the situation because the nine-member elected board would be required to serve as an impartial panel if Rice seeks a full public hearing on any possible dismissal.

The Oct. 21 meeting, set for 7 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River, was announced Thursday as about 30 residents hoping to comment on the principal situation turned out for a  scheduled meeting of the Supervision District Board of Education.

Christine Daniels, chairwoman of the supervision district board that includes members of the Region 4 school board and the three local elementary school boards, told the group the meeting agenda was focused on a study of full day kindergarten. But Linda Hall, chairwoman of the Region 4 board, confirmed the Oct. 21 special meeting would be held in response to the petition.

Hall could not be reached Friday for further comment on how the Oct. 21 meeting would be conducted if board members are not allowed to discuss the high school principal matter.

Scarecrows Put on a Show Down Essex’s Main Street

Officially it’s the Second Annual Scarecrow Festival, and the sponsor is the Essex Board of Trade. Unofficially, it’s a street long collection of fun and frightening figures, carefully strung up on almost every lamppost in town.
 
“People love it” says Jim D’Alessio, President of the Essex Board of Trade, “We even had two busloads come down from Newport (R.I.) just to see it,” he says. D’Alessio, in addition to being the driving force behind the festival, is the proprietor of J.Alden Clothiers, located in the middle of Main Street.
 
Saying that he is “constantly thrilled” with the success of the event, D”Alessio notes that a lot of work went into its preparation, including two workshops on building scarecrows, as well as the insertion of “how to” flyers sent home in children’s  backpacks. 

All told, there over seventy scarecrow visitors now hanging along the streets of Essex. Halloween is October 31st, and shortly thereafter they’ll all come down.

As for the scarecrows themselves ….. 

Geoffrey C. David 10/16/10

Geoffrey C. David of 23 Maple Avenue, Essex  passed away on 10/16/10.

Essex Selectmen Approve Additional Hours for Town Clerk’s Assistant

 ESSEX— The board of selectmen has approved funding an additional five hours per week for the town clerk’s assistant, ending a dispute that began nearly 18 months ago.

The board acted on a unanimous vote without discussion at its Oct. 6 meeting. The action, after approval from the board of finance, would restore a full 30-hour week for Dana Novorio, assistant for Town Clerk Frances Nolin.

First Selectman Phil Miller had reduced Novorio’s hours to 20 per week in March 2009 as a cost saving measure. Funding to give her a 25-hour work week was included in the curent town budget that became effective July 1.

But Nolin continued to push for a restoration of the full 30-hour week, retaining Chester lawyer John Bennet to appear with her before the board of selectmen and raising the possibility of reducing the hours of the town clerk’s office.
Nolin and Bennet had appeared before the selectmen at three meetings over the summer, and made a direct request to the board of finance for the additional funding at an Aug. 19 meeting. The finance board declined to act on an appropriation until there was a vote of approval from the board of selectmen. The additional appropriation totals $9,300.

Author Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

Culminating Event for Tri-Town Youth Services Community Read

Three Cups of Tea is this Summer's Community Read

On October 17  the tri-town community will come together for the culminating event of Tri-Town Youth Service’s Community Read of the book ‘Three Cups of Tea’, a refreshing, inspiring story of hope and achievement. Keynote speakers at the event we will be Bryan Nurnberger and his wife, inspirational singer/songwriter, Kristen Graves.

Bryan is the President and founder of Simply Smiles, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing bright futures for impoverished children. Bryan will share some of his stories and his philosophy on creating change and building community. 

In the summer of 2002, Bryan, a rock climber, injured and unable to continue climbing on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, found himself heartbroken and appalled by the severe poverty he saw there.  So Nurnberger, then a special education teacher in Prospect, emptied his savings account of about $5,000.  With that he bought food, clothes and diapers for the children at Casa Hogar, a struggling Mexican orphanage with 80 children.

In 2003 Nurnberger founded SimplySmiles with the start of his first project, The Casa Hogar Benito Juarez Children’s Home in Oaxaca City, Mexico.  In the seven years since, SimplySmiles has continued to grow, work and fulfill their mission of improving the lives of impoverished children in the mountains of southern Mexico and around the world. Like Greg Mortenson, Bryan Nurnberger refused to think that one person with a vision, a heart and a commitment could not make a difference – even if it was one smile at a time!  Also like Greg Mortenson, Bryan would not give up or let “roadblocks” stop him.  Back in the beginning of his journey of hope and compassion, Bryan spent six months battling Mexican authorities as he tried to bring a school bus filled with medical supplies, toiletries, clothing, toys, and eighty personalized quilts to Casa Hogar. 
Like Greg Mortenson, Bryan Nurnberger, admirably does not tarnish or try to “improve” the culture through a western political or religious agenda. Rather, he works with the local communities to provide more opportunities within the context of the existing culture.

Kristen Graves is a folk/pop singer and songwriter with a voice that commands attention, lyrics that catch your heart, and melodies that stay with the listener long after the evening ends. Kristen’s songs have a coziness to them like a well-worn winter blanket, but don’t underestimate her; she can pack a serious emotional punch at a moment’s notice.  Kristen has been writing and performing her own songs since 2000. As an acoustic singer and songwriter she has toured nationally since 2002. She has written and recorded four albums, and has independently sold thousands of copies of her CDs. Kristen will accompany Bryan on the 17th and will sing some of her songs of hope for us.

Three Cups of Tea is about the possibility of cultures coming together for a common goal of peace and hope.  The book, and Mortenson’s own courage and dedication to the mission, are catalysts for change, and motivate, inspire and educate. Bryan Nurnberger and SimplySmiles will do the same for all of us! Through their parallel stories we can come to know and believe that one person can make a substantial and meaningful impact in the world.

The event will take place  on Oct.17 at 2:00 p.m.  at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River.  All are welcome.

Camp Hazen YMCA Summer Camp Open House Oct. 17

On Sunday, October 17th, Camp Hazen YMCA located at 204 West Main Street on Cedar Lake in Chester will host an Open House from 2-4 p.m.   Families are encouraged to attend to learn more about summer opportunities for their children.  Located in Chester, Camp Hazen YMCA offers one and two week session of both day and resident camp. 

It may only be October, but now is the time to plan your summer to ensure that sessions are available and to research the right camp for your child.  Camp Director, Danita Ballantyne, states “Attending an Open House provides a valuable opportunity for families to meet the Camp Directors and see the facilities to determine if Camp Hazen is the right choice for their family.” 

Camp Hazen YMCA is committed to helping youth develop valuable life skills through camping experiences that build healthy bodies, open minds and awakened spirits.    Traditional camp activities like swimming, arts and crafts and campfires – along with more unique programs including a Skate Park, Alpine Tower, Mountain Biking and Windsurfing are available for campers.  All activities are designed to ensure that campers are having fun, making friends and learning valuable life lessons such as independence and leadership which are the core ingredients of the camp experience.

Camp Hazen YMCA believes the summer camp experience is a vital part of a child’s development and offers a tier pricing program to make camp affordable for all.  For more information, contact Danita Ballantyne at 860-526-9529 or visit www.camphazenymca.org

Deep River Shiver Tour Today

Deep River Library and Scientific Paranormal will host the “Deep River Shiver Tour”, a paranormal investigation of the Deep River Library,  on Oct. 30, with tours starting at 7 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. 

During the evening event, visitors will explore the paranormal with a professional investigating team and get ” hands on” experience using the latest high tech equipment and paranormal investigating procedures and terminology.

A VIP package will be available which will be a 2 hour event  including pizza and magic show, interactive tour and “Shiver Tour” keepsake, and Q&A information session.

Admission prices will be $20 for the tour only, $25 for an adult VIP pass ($12.50 for children12 and under), $65 for a VIP Family Pass (2 adults, 2 children), or $80 for a VIP Group Pass ((4 adults).

Call The Deep River Public Library for more information (860) 526-6039.

The Ivoryton Village Pumpkin Festival Today

Some Pumpkins from Last Year's Festival

The Ivoryton village pumpkin festival will be held this year on Oct. 30. The first pumpkin festival was held at the Ivoryton Village Green in 2000. It started as a modest event that was held in the hopes of attracting visitors to the village. They had only 150 or so carved pumpkins lit around green that year and many people visited the village green to enjoy the free refreshments and view the pumpkins. The festival was declared a success and has been held the Saturday before halloween every year since.

The festival was inspired by the Keene, New Hampshire festival that draws thousands of visitors and now holds the Guinness Book of World Record with over 28,000 pumpkins. The 2009 Ivoryton Festival saw a record breaking 350 Pumpkins on display and organizers are hoping 2010 will be another record breaking year. The festival organizers would like to challenge every family that attends to bring a carved pumpkin.

Pumpkin drop-off will take place at the Ivoryton Village Green between 10a.m. and 4p.m.  The Park and Recreation Department will be hosting a pumpkin carving station starting at 10a.m.  Pumpkins will be free (as supplies last) however the pumpkins must remain at the festival until the pumpkin pick up at 8:30pm.

Other free activities at the festival will include cookie decorating with the volunteers from Child and Family Services of Southeastern Connecticut, a pumpkin seed spitting contest and a pumkpin pie-eating contest. Ivoryton Library will also be holding a scary story hour and have a week-long schedule of eerie events.

Refreshments at the festival will be free while they last and live music will be provided by Federation.  For the Complete event schedule including times and locations visit us on the web. www.essexct.gov

Please contact us if you are interested in becoming an Ivoryton Pumpkin Festival volunteer: Essex Park and Recreation Phone: 860-767-4340 x110 or 148 E-mail: recreation@essexct.gov

Regional Health District Chief Appointed Interim Health Director in Essex

ESSEX— First Selectman Phil Miller has appointed Mary Jane Engle, the registered sanitarian who serves as executive director of the three-town Connecticut River Valley Area Health District, as interim health director for the town.

Miller said Engle would begin her local duties Friday, working three to five hours a week in Essex. She replaces Dr. William McCann, a local physician who has served as the part-time health director for the past two years. Miller said he anticipates Engle would serve as interim health director for “one to three months” while the board of selectmen considers whether to continue with a part-time health director, or possibly joining the regional health district.
“She is the best interim solution,” Miller said, adding “this is not an attempt to backdoor in to the regional health district.”

But Selectman Joel Marzi, the minority Republican who was Miller’s opponent in last year’s town election, said Miller should have discussed the matter with the full three-member board before making the interim appointment. He said Miller could have added the issue to the agenda of the last board of selectmen meeting held on Oct. 6. 

“Why this matter was not brought to the board of selectmen in a public meeting I can only speculate,” Marzi said, adding “I am not comfortable with the way this decision was made.”

The Connecticut  River Valley Area Health District was formed by the towns of Clinton, Deep River, and Old Saybrook in July 2006. The district offices are in Old Saybrook. The Essex Board of Selectmen, led by Miller, decided not to join the district at its formation after receiving a mixed response on the option from residents at a public hearing held in June 2006.

After Marzi joined the board, another informational hearing was held on the regional health district option last February. The response from about 80 residents was again mixed, though there was more support for the idea than was expressed at the 2006 hearing.

Miller said the board of selectmen would discuss “health department direction” at the Oct. 20 meeting. He said another public hearing would be held on the regional health district option later this year.

New Website to Increase Awareness of Preschool Scholarship Fund for the Tri-Town Area

Marge Schofield, Preschool Scholarship Fund Founder

Under the leadership of Essex resident Marge Schofield and with the support of numerous talented and caring members of the community, a new website will be launched Friday to increase awareness of a local, Tri-Town program, The Preschool Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to families in need for preschool education.  The new site, www.earlychildhoodcouncil.com, will be formally unveiled by Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Ruth Levy, on Friday Oct. 15, at a reception at the Centerbrook Meeting House between 5-7 p.m. to recognize the recent achievements of the group.

Schofield, long-time educator, has been passionate about the importance of preschool education for young children in the Tri-Town area for more than 30 years, and was founder and director of two preschool facilities for local children in the 1980’s and 90’s.  “Giving each child an equal opportunity to start early learning is just the most important gift we can give a child” says Schofield.

Most educators in the community agree about the benefits of some preschool education prior to starting kindergarten. “These kids know their letters, they know their sounds, and they are so much more confident and that just jump starts their entire school year, and really, their entire academic success in the future, too” notes Danielle Rettig, a kindergarten teacher from Essex Elementary.

In the mid 1980’s Schofield and other community members founded the Early Childhood Council whose mission was to facilitate a smooth transition for local children through preschool and into elementary school.   A large part of this mission included the provision of financial support to families in financial need.  Schofield pointed out, “We had so many calls from families who really wanted their children to go to preschool before kindergarten but they just simply couldn’t afford it.” 

In 2000, the Preschool Scholarship Fund was created with the support of local benefactors and several local institutions including the local Rotary group, United Way and the Middlesex County Community Foundation.  Since its creation, the fund has provided over 70 scholarships to local families to allow preschool children from families in need to enjoy the benefits of attending a local preschool.
 
In a recent effort to increase awareness of the program, both to potential donors and scholarship recipients, Schofield rallied support from the community to develop a website explaining the program.  With the support from many, including Essex resident Sarah Cody, preschool teacher Katherine Campbell and web developer Chris McGary the site has been completed and will be formally unveiled on Oct. 15.

Schofield and other community members describe the program in the video clip below:

Region 4 School Board Accepts Resignation of High School Principal Eric Rice

REGION 4— In a brief statement issued Wednesday, the Region 4 Board of Education announced that it has accepted the resignation of  recently hired Valley Regional High School Principal Eric Rice.

The statement said the board accepted a resignation from Rice at a special meeting held Tuesday evening. Friday was the last day with the district for Rice, a Chester resident who was hired for the principal position over the summer.

The board announced that Associate Principal Kristina Martineau would serve as acting principal for the remainder of the 2010-2011 school year, with current assistant superintendent and former principal Ian Neviaser acting on a “supporting role.” Martineau has served as associate principal at the high school for about three years.

Board Chairwoman Linda Hall of Deep River said Wednesday there would be no further information released on Rice’s departure. “The statement says what we would like to present to the public,” she said.

Hall declined to comment on whether Rice’s departure was voluntary, or whether he would receive a severance package or any financial settlement from the school district. Hall also declined to comment on whether she anticipates any legal action against the school district over the circumstances of Rice’s departure.

Hall  confirmed the board would hold an Oct. 21 special meeting on district personnel policies that was requested in an official petition signed by more than 180 registered voters from the district towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex. State law requires regional school districts to hold a special district meeting in response to a petition signed by at least 50 registered voters from each member town. The Oct. 21 meeting is set for 7 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River.

The situation involving Rice, who arrived in Region 4 after serving as principal at a science and technology magnet school in Hartford, went public on Sept. 23 when about 50 residents, including several high school students, held a rally supporting Rice outside the district’s administrative offices. There were reports that Levy, who is in her second year as superintendent of schools for Region 4, had given Rice a resign or be fired ultimatum.

Levy has refused any further comment on what she describes as a “personnel matter.” Rice, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, had continued working as principal until Friday.

Rice’s departure makes him the shortest serving principal in the history of the regional high school that opened in 1952. Nevaiser had served as principal for the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years. Donald Gates, the retired long-time principal at Portland High School, had served as interim principal for the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 academic years.

Essex Selectmen Consider Discontinuing Toby Hill Road

ESSEX— Hoping to avoid a possible expense to the town for improvements, the board of selectmen is considering discontinuing Toby Hill Road in the Ivoryton section.

The board discussed the option of discontinuing, or abandoning, the road at a meeting last week. Toby Hill Road is an unimproved dirt and gravel run that runs north from Pond Meadow Road in to Westbrook. The proposal, which was recommended by the planning commission in a vote taken earlier this year, would discontinue the road from the intersection with Pond Meadow Road north to the Westbrook town line.

There are currently two homes on the Ivoryton section of the road, and numerous residential subdivisions off a paved section of the road in Westbrook.

First Selectman Phil Miller said developer Paul Vumbaco is planning a subdivision that could include six building lots in Westbrook and two building lots in Ivoryton. The potential development could require improvements to both the Ivoryton and Westbrook segments of the road. There are currently no land use applications pending for the development in Essex.

Miller said both he and the planning commission are concerned the town could be forced to help pay for costly improvements to the road, which intersects Pond Meadow Road on a sharp curve with poor sightlines for vehicle traffic.

Miller said the discontinuance of the road in Ivoryton would require approval from the selectmen and voters at a town meeting. Officials in Westbrook are also considering discontinuance of the southernmost section of the road to the Essex town line.

The selectmen deferred further discussion of the issue to a future meeting at the request of Robert Doane, a local engineer who is working with Vumbaco. Miller said Doane requested a chance to discuss the matter with the board.

Henry Deen Towers 10/10/10

View obituary courtesy of the Hartford Courant

Candidate Debate Tonight Hosted By Chamber of Commerce

The Lyme Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut will present Candidate Debates on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. at the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School Auditorium.  The public is welcome.

Questions from the Chamber and the audience will be asked by debate moderator Olwen Logan, editor/publisher of LymeLine.com, OldSaybrookNow.com and ValleyNewsNow.com.

Participating in the first half of the program are candidates for State House and Senate seats:

Andrea Stillman (D) and Daniel Docker (R) for the 20th Senatorial District;

Eileen Daily (D) and Neil Nichols (R) for the 33rd Senatorial District; 

Marilyn Giuliano (R) and Eileen Baker (D) for 23rd District representative.

The second hour will feature candidates for the 2nd U.S. Congressional seat: Joe  Courtney (D), Janet Peckinpaugh (R), G. Scott Deshefy (G), and Dan Reale (L).

Questions for candidates may be submitted in advance to LymeLine.com by clicking on this link or to the Lyme-Old Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce by sending an email to email@lolcc.com 

For further information about the Lyme Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce, visit www.lolcc.com, or call 888-302-9246.

Two Coots in a Canoe Book Signing at Essex Books

Essex Books will be hosting a book signing by David Morine, author of “Two Coots in a Canoe” who will be signing his book on Wednesday, Oct. 13, noon-1pm.

A journey of whim, humor, and self-discovery along the Connecticut River…

When retired CEO Ramsay Peard, 61, called his old friend David Morine, 59, and asked the longtime conservationist if he wanted to canoe the Connecticut River, Morine said he’d do it under one condition: no camping. “We’ll rely on the kindness of strangers.” And that’s what they did. Mooching their way down the river and staying with strangers every night, Morine and Peard got an inside look at such issues as the demise of farming, the loss of manufacturing, gay rights, and Wal-Mart versus Main Street, and they were able to delve deep into the lives of complete strangers. But Morine soon realized the one life he never dug into was Peard’s. After spending a month with him in a canoe, he had no idea that his friend’s innermost thoughts had taken a fateful course.

Written in the tradition of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, this book will be treasured by conservationists, canoeists, and old friends still seeking a thrill. Everyone else will be delightfully entertained.

About the Author: David E. Morine is a Boston-area native who was the head of land acquisition for The Nature Conservancy from 1972 to 1990. He is the author of five books, including Good Dirt: Confessions of a Conservationist; Vacationland: A Half Century Summering in Maine; and Small Claims: My Little Trials in Life. He lives in Great Falls, Virginia.

Five Women Painting Plus One

Onion and Garlic by Claudia Van Nes

ESSEX – The annual Five Women Painting show at the Essex Art Association gallery has a twist this year: It’s “Five Women Painting Plus One,” the one being Jerry Reed, a guy and art photographer who lives in town.

The show will be at the association gallery, 10 North Main St., Thursday, Oct. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 15 from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

 The gala opening will be Friday from 5 to 8 p.m.

A wide range of art will be offered by artists, Pam Carlson of  Essex, Claudia Van Nes of Chester, Cindy Stevens of Clinton and Ellie Pringle and Kathy Sullivan, both from Haddam. And,  of course, Jerry, an Essex artist. 

The gallery is at 10 North Main St., Essex.

Triplets by Pam Carlson

Essex Democrats Host their Party’s Candidates at Forum

State Treasurer, Denise Nappier, gave a rousing speech to Essex Democrats (Photo Jerome Wilson)

State Treasurer Denise Nappier was the first to speak at the candidates’ forum of the Essex Democratic Town Committee held at the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club on October 7. Nappier, after assuring one and all that she had thoroughly cleaned up the State Treasurer’s office from earlier scandals, said with emphasis, “I am a capitalist,” noting that she had spend most of her career working on Wall Street.

Nappier called upon her fellow democrats “to stand by our Democratic values” in the face of Republican attacks that we are “a party of socialists.” She also said that the upcoming election “is a referendum on the next Presidential election,” when the candidate for re-election will be President Barrack Obama.

Nappier was followed by 18- year incumbent, State Senator Eileen Daily. Glowingly introduced by Essex First Selectman Phil Miller, who said that Daily was “never a phone call away,” and “never forgot where she came from,” she was almost left with little to say about her own qualifications. Miller also noted that at the State Capitol in Hartford, Senator Daily had had to work with an “intractable Governor” in the person of Governor Jody Rell.

Candidates extol their virtues at Essex forum (L to R) State Senator Eileen Daily, State Representative James Spallone, State Treasurer Denise Nappier and Judge of Probate candidate Terrance Lomme

Also addressing the gathering was State Representative James Spallone. He said to his fellow Democrats, “Don’t take this election for granted.” Spallone also spoke highly of the Democratic candidate for Connecticut Secretary of State, Denise Merrill, who is presently a member of the state legislature.

Winding up the proceedings was the Democratic Party’s candidate for Judge of Probate, Terrance D. Lomme, who lives in Essex. In a separate interview Lomme said that he had practiced law for 30 years, with about a third of his cases involving probate matters.

Lomme pledged to give up his law practice, if elected to the $110,000 a year judgeship. He said that as a Judge of Probate, in the new nine town district, he would not let “form take precedence over substance.” He said he recognized “the need to make people feel comfortable through your compassion” in his handling of probate matters.

The candidate also stressed the importance of people having a will, saying an estimated 30 percent of people die without them. With or without wills, Lomme pledged to “make sure that estates are properly distributed.”

New Art Gallery in Historic Chester Building – Opening Gala

CHESTER – The 1790s building at the corner of Maple and Main Street, which has old schooner masts as its supporting posts, proof that it was once a ship’s chandlery, has just been transformed into a large, unique art gallery.

Storms of Mercy (above) by one of the gallery artists, Jan Blencowe of Clinton

Aptly named Maple and Main Gallery of Fine Arts, the 2,600 square feet of space on two floors is devoted to a range of art from traditional to impressionistic to abstract all beautifully framed and hung in the stunning, historic space.

The new gallery, which will have its gala opening Thursday, Oct. 21, is collectively owned by 34 successful artists from all over Connecticut. They’ve shown widely and come together to offer a gallery for lover of all kinds of art.

The gallery is also offering classes, workshops, demonstrations and lectures and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays, 11 to 5 p.m.

The gala will be Thursday, Oct. 21 from 6 to 9 p.m. when food and drink will be served and a special exhibit of autumnal paintings by many of the gallery artists will be on display. mapleandmaingallery.com. 860-526-6065.

Flutist Marya Martin to Present Master Class Oct. 24

Mayra Martin

Community Music School and Musical Masterworks will be co-presenting a Master Class with internationally renowned flutist Marya Martin on Sunday, Oct. 24 at 12 pm at Community Music School, 90 Main Street (Spencer’s Corner), Centerbrook. Ms. Martin will present the class prior to her afternoon appearance as part of the Musical Masterworks Chamber Music Series at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

The breadth of flutist Marya Martin’s musical career is remarkable. She has studied with Jean-Pierre Rampal and James Galway and has appeared as soloist with the St. Louis, Seattle, and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and the Brandenburg Ensemble, among others. A prominent figure in the field of chamber music, Ms. Martin has appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Chamber Music at the 92nd Street Y, and Music at Angel Fire, as well as the Santa Fe, New World, Bravo!Vail and Caramoor Music Festivals. Dedicated to the new generation of musicians, Ms. Martin is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and has given master classes at leading universities throughout the US and New Zealand. 

The master class on Sunday, Oct 24 is open to the public.  Suggested donation for audience members is $5.  There is no charge for students, but reservations must be made in advance by calling 860-767-0026.

For more information on the Musical Masterworks program that Ms. Martin will perform on Saturday, October 23 at 5 pm and Sunday, October 24 at 3 pm at the First Congregational Church of Lyme, please visit www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860-434-2252.