August 1, 2014

River Reads: “Faithful Place” by Tana French

I really am getting behind here! I have a few books  you’d love but as I just closed this one I’ll get to it first. Good book. Dark and clever. Both in equal parts really which makes for a good mystery detective personal thriller angst ridden type book.

You really can’t go home again, or really shouldn’t, as undercover detective Frank Mackey discovers. Well, first he discovers the suitcase and subsequently the  body of his long lost love. THEN he discovers that running off all those years ago was an excellent idea.

The night that he and his Rosie were to elope, she doesn’t show. Assuming that he has been stood up he says screw it and leaves anyway.

He becomes a police officer. Marries, divorces and generally stays as far from Faithful Place in Dublin as he can.

His alcohol fueled family has many many issues and as they are seemingly unresolvable ( or un fixable) he saves himself at great cost to the other less self-reliant members of the family. Or was the cost due regardless?

It raises a good question. Are you duty bound to attempt to save your family if it can not or will not attempt to save itself? Does familial duty ( even if its guaranteed demise is self destructive and inevitable) trump personal obligation? Saving oneself at the cost of others is unacceptable but is it wasteful and defeatest to throw away your own potential to help people who don’t want your help? Indeed, resent you for offering?

Frank gets deeper and deeper into a mess that is more psychological and sociological than mysterious. I , had a fair guess who dunnnit fairly early on. ( yes, I know, pat pat on my back.)  The book goes beyond what you are expecting.

What I found most interesting is Tana French writing as Frank Mackey. A La Memoirs of A Geisha, it is impressive for an author to pull off the other sex’s point of view. She writes quite well as a man. ( Being a girl- one wonders how I would know this…good point but ignore it.)

Faithful Place is interesting on many levels and although a tad bleak it has quite positive energy about it. Love can close or open doors and Frank chooses to keep them open.

Jennifer Petty Mann grew up in New York City, moved to London, England, then back to Boston, and is now happily ensconced on the EightMile river in Lyme with three little ones.  A former teacher, window dresser for Saks, and designer, she is taking her love of books to the proverbial “street.” 

Lyme Academy College Students Host Holiday Art Sale

Opening Reception to be held Friday, Dec. 3.

Oil on Canvas by Richard Lacey, Class of 2011

Students attending Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts have been busy organizing and publicizing their 2010 Holiday Art Show, which opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, December 3, 2010, in the Sill House Gallery. The public is invited to attend the reception, which will also include music and refreshments.

The show will comprise a selection of original works in mixed media by emerging artists. The exceptional quality of the artwork reflects the high quality of teaching at the College by faculty who, in addition to their teaching roles, are all working artists. Both students and faculty have been recognized for their accomplishments.

A special feature at the Opening Reception this year is the opportunity for guests to have their portraits sketched by a student for a donation towards the student’s spring enrichment experience.

Always a popular exhibition, this show provides a perfect opportunity to jump-start the holiday gift shopping season. All the artwork is attractively priced and sold on a cash and carry basis. All proceeds from the show benefit the students directly.

The show runs through Saturday, December 11, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, contact Olwen Logan at 860-434-3571, ext. 135, or ologan@lymeacademy.edu

About the College:
Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts continues the academic tradition of figurative and representational fine art while preparing students for a lifetime of contemporary creative practice. Students develop intellect and imagination, intensity of observation, sound craftsmanship, individual initiative and creativity, as well as depth of interpretation of ideas through artistic expression. The College offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Drawing, Illustration, Painting, and Sculpture (full- and part-time study); Certificates in Painting and Sculpture, a Post-Baccalaureate program; Continuing Education for adults; and a Pre-College Program for students aged 15-18. Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the National Association of the Schools of Art and Design, and the Connecticut Department of Higher Education.
The College is located at 84 Lyme Street, Old Lyme CT 06371.

Region 4 School Board to Receive Report on High School Investigation

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting Tuesday to receive a report on the investigation in to an alleged gag order that suppressed students freedom of speech at Valley Regional High School before and after the departure of the school principal last month.

The meeting, to be held at the district central office in Deep River, is to begin at 6 p.m. with a closed door session with the district lawyer, followed by “discussion and possible action concerning an investigative report regarding alleged suppression of student’s First Amendment rights” at the high school.

The board on Nov. 19 hired Madison lawyer Stacey Lafferty to investigate claims by some students and parents that students at the high school were prevented from discussing the Oct. 12 resignation of former Principal Eric Rice under threat of sanctions. The alleged gag order was also part of various complaints with state and federal agencies that were filed earlier this month by Essex resident Susan Magaziner.

Claims there was a gag order at the high school surfaced in late September amid reports that Rice, who was hired as principal over the summer, had been given a resign-or-be-fired ultimatum by Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy.
Lafferty; who had worked previously for the Region 4 school board as a hearing officer at student expulsion hearings, began the investigation on Nov. 21, and was at the high school last week during the three days leading up to the school’s Thanksgiving holiday break.

Levy had said on Nov. 22 she was uncertain how much time would be needed to complete the investigation. She said after the investigation was complete a report would be presented to the Region 4 board and made available to the public.

The Estuary Council of Seniors Essay Wins Grant Money to Help Local Seniors in Need

The Estuary Council of Seniors (ECSI) Meals on Wheels program has just won $100 from the Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA)/Subaru “Share the Love” grant program.  Subaru’s “Share the Love Event” inspires sharing stories of bringing food and compassion to local seniors in the nine-town Estuary region which includes Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook, plus the town of Madison, CT.

The winning essay (see below) describes how the Meals on Wheels volunteer driver “saved a life”. 

The money comes at a critical time for this Meals On Wheels program, and the more than 140 other grant winners nationwide.  The country’s economic downturn has made it more difficult to raise money to continue feeding our community’s homebound and other hungry seniors. ECSI plans to use the money to purchase food for the program.  

The MOWAA/Subaru “Share the Love” grant is tied to Subaru’s Share the Love Event.  The Share the Love Event will run from Nov. 20, 2010 – Jan. 3, 2011.   Subaru will donate $250 for every new Subaru vehicle sold or leased to the customer’s choice of one of five charities, including MOWAA.

Volunteer Phyllis Duhig (L), Winnie Costello (R)

“These Meals On Wheels programs share love every day by bringing food and companionship to America’s hungry seniors,” said MOWAA President and CEO Enid Borden.  “For the third year in a row Subaru has generously included Meals On Wheels in its Share the Love Event.  We want the world to read these stories and find out more about what these amazing Meals On Wheels programs do every day to ‘Share the Love’ in their communities.”

“The Estuary Council of Seniors in very grateful to MOWAA and Subaru for their donation, but also for giving us the opportunity to tell our very compelling stories about the need for Meals On Wheels throughout the country.” said Paula Ferrara, Executive Director of the Estuary Council of Seniors.

How to Help

The next phase of this competition relies on getting the most Facebook users to “Like” this story.  More than 140 “Share the Love” essays from programs across the country have been posted on MOWAA’s Member blog.   The Meals On Wheels program with the most “Likes” will win an additional $500.  Those placing 2nd through 10th will receive an additional $250.    To “Like” the local essay submitted for this Facebook contest, go to www.mowaablog.org and search “ECSI”.

The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. is a nine-town community resource for seniors providing programs, services, education, and advocacy while promoting independent living. ECSI provides senior nutrition, transportation, health and support services, and socialization. Please visit our website at www.ecsenior.org.

The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. Winning Essay

The holiday season is a time when most of us share the love with our family and friends.    Meals On Wheels shares the love with our local seniors who would otherwise be all alone and hungry during the holidays.  It’s only fitting that we are partnering with our friends at Subaru for the third year in a row for their “Share the Love” Event to raise funds to support Meals On Wheels.  This is just one story of how we share the love here in our community.

“It’s a fabulous service for our residents,” said Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold who stopped by the Lyme’s Senior Center on March 20, the designated day for local elected officials to help with MOW deliveries.

“It’s wonderful to see how pleased the folks are to see the driver and the food every day,” said Griswold, who has helped deliver meals in the past and plans to do so again soon.  “It’s both a social and nutritional service.”

The drivers visit briefly with the client and chick up on them, Norman said. If the person isn’t there, or there seems to be a problem, they report that back to her and she alerts others.

“We even saved a life last year,” she noted.  One of the drivers found a 93-year-old gentleman sitting alone in his house during a severe rain  storm.  His caregiver was on vacation.  The heat had gone out , but the oil company wouldn’t come because the basement was flooded.  Norman called the police, who quickly got the fire department and oil company out there to address the problem

Fine Art Photography Presentation by Local Photographer

The Great Blue Herron by Jerry Reed

The Connecticut Valley Camera Club is pleased to have  local fine art photographer Jerry Reed at it’s monthly meeting on Monday, Nov. 29, 2010 at 7:00p.m. at the Deep River Library (lower level). 

Jerry will be offering a presentation on “Fine Art Photography” which is defined as “photographs that are created in accordance with the creative vision of the artist”.  

Jerry Reed’s work and style presents a display in clarity and simplified scene, with strong lines to lead and captivate the viewer. 

This presentation is a must for anyone who desires to show their photos in the variety of exhibits available to photographers.   The general public is invited to attend.

Community Music School Presents Holiday Concert

Martha Herrle Conducting Musicians from the Community Music School

ESSEX – The Community Music School will perform its Holiday Concert on Sunday, Dec. 12 at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School and members of the public are invited to attend.

This annual event brings faculty and students together to present vocal and instrumental favorites of the season.  In addition to performances by CMS Suzuki, flute, jazz, and string ensembles, “Trepak” from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker will be performed by a 60-member intergenerational orchestra directed by Martha Herrle. The finale will be a sing-along with audience members.

The Holiday Concert is free.  Please call 860-767-0026 or visit www.community-music-school.org for additional information.

Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s Clara Doesn’t Use a Cell Phone

 “OMG Clara, ur party sounds rly gr8! C u 2nite @ the Garde.”

Eric Love playing the part of Mother Ginger with the little girl, Bailey Columber in Act 2 of the Nutcracker

Clara of yesteryear, the young heroine whose enchanting adventure has been celebrated for decades in the classic ballet, “The Nutcracker,” would have shared news with her friends in very different ways.  Before cell phones, girls responded to formal invitations with wild and giddy chitchat in the schoolyard.  If the tale were written today, text messages would fly back and forth across cyberspace anticipating the grand holiday party in honor of the return of Clara’s seafaring father.  Technology may change, but holiday traditions transcend time.  Family and friends have always gathered to make merry with food, dancing, jokes, laughter, storytelling, games, and gifts.

Instead of posting Facebook pictures and tweets, Clara relies upon her vivid imagination to sweep her away on the magical journey of a lifetime.  The Nutcracker helps her escape harm from evil pirate rats and sails her across snowy seas to the Kingdom of the Sweets.  Today, the beauty of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the wonder of Mother Ginger would generate a flurry of text messages to Clara’s BFF.

Alexander Iziliaev as the Cavalier and Arantxa Ochoa guest artisits from the Pennsylvania Ballet as the Sugar Plum Fairy

Why should you turn off your cell phones and take your family to see Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” at the Garde?  The answer is simple:  To escape the tug of technology and immerse yourself in the lost art of storytelling, beautiful dancing and real live orchestral music.  Marvel at 118 dancers from Eastern Connecticut and guest artists Alexander Iziliaev and Arantxa Ochoa from Pennsylvania Ballet, joined by Lauren Kennedy and Alexander Akvolv from Festival Ballet.  Delight in the melodic voices of the Griswold High School Chamber Choir during the breathtaking Waltz of the Snowflakes.

Jump at the opportunity to share “Cookies with Clara and her Nutcracker Friends” after the December 11, 4:30 p.m. performance (additional charge required).  Finally, take pleasure in knowing that while you enjoy the show with your family and friends, you are also helping support Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s community outreach programs and scholarships.

Immerse yourself in the region’s rich seafaring heritage with New London’s very own “The Nutcracker.”  Performances are Dec. 11 at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and Dec. 12 at 1:30 p.m. 

 For tickets call the Garde (860) 444-7373 or online at www.gardearts.org.  Group rates and military discounts are available.
C U @ THE SHOW!

Local Arts Programs Benefit from State Grants

This week State Senator Eileen M. Daily (D-Westbrook) reported details about five state grants meant to support fine arts programs in the 33rd Senatorial District. The total amount of funding to be distributed is $43,806 Senator Daily said.

Grants are made available through three state programs administered by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism: the Arts Presentation Grant Program, the Creative Collaboration Grant Program, and the General Operating Support Grant Program. Each is partially underwritten by federal funds through the National Endowment for the Arts.

“I think it is so important for residents to have access to musical and dramatic productions, as well as displays of paintings, sculpture, photography and other visual arts – we learn so much when we experience our world as interpreted by these artists,” Senator Daily said. “It’s gratifying to know some of these grants are going to local schools, where they will be used to help young people experiment and test their own creative abilities.”

Senator Daily said the following programs are in line to receive funding:

  • Chester Elementary School PTO – $1,113
  • Opera Theater of Connecticut (Clinton) – $3,807
  • Goodspeed Opera House (East Haddam) – $37,986
  • Memorial Elementary School (East Hampton) – $300
  • Connecticut River Foundation at Steamboat Dock (Essex) – $600

“These grants will make a significant impact in the quality of life in south central Connecticut and help stabilize our local economy besides,” Senator Daily said. “I’m particularly pleased the Commission on Culture and Tourism chose to support the programs and productions at the Goodspeed Opera House, an iconic facility in our part of the state attracting people from throughout New England and beyond.”

Senator Daily is completing her ninth term in the state Senate. In addition to her responsibility for the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee she is vice-chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee and a member of the Legislative Management and Internship

“Trees in the Rigging” Community Carol Sing and Boat Parade

Essex’s annual Trees In The Rigging features a parade of festively-lit and decorated boats on the waterfront at the Connecticut River Museum.

Essex, CT –  On Sunday, Nov. 28, the holiday season kicks off in Essex with the annual Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing and Boat Parade.   The Connecticut River Museum, the Essex Board of Trade, and the Essex Historical Society combine to present this annual event that includes a traditional, lantern-lit carol stroll down Main Street where spectators are invited to join the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps and a parade of antique cars.

The stroll steps off at 4:30 pm at the Essex Town Hall on West Avenue and ends at the Connecticut River Museum with a parade of vessels dressed out in holiday lights and passing in review along the Connecticut River.  The best viewing is from the lawn of the Connecticut River Museum at the foot of Main Street.  Santa and his elves will arrive by one of the parade boats for visits with children on the lawn of the Museum.  The Connecticut River Museum will also be open that evening for all to attend the 17th Annual Holiday Train Show at a reduced admission of $5.

The event rain date is Sunday, December 5.  For more information or in case of questionable weather, call the Connecticut River Museum at 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

Values Drop in New Deep River Property Assessments to be Mailed Dec. 3

DEEP RIVER—  Residential property values are down by an average five to ten percent in the new 2010 property assessments that will be mailed Dec. 3.

Assessor Robin O’Loughlin said the new assessments for the town’s 2,186 residential, commercial, and industrial properties would reflect values established under the full town wide property revaluation that was completed this year. The revaluation, the first full revaluation with visual inspections of all properties, was done by Vision Appraisal of Northboro, Mass. An interim revaluation was completed in 2005, done by O’Loughlin with some assistance from Vision Appraisal.

O’Loughlin and Steve Ferreira, a district manager for Vision Appraisal, told the board of selectmen Tuesday the new assessments reflect the drop in real estate values that occurred before and after the national economic downturn that began in September 2008. Ferreira said all towns doing a revaluation or five-year revaluation update this year are experiencing a drop in residential property values that would result in a lower grand list of taxable property.  “It’s not unique to  Connecticut, it’s all of New England,” he said.

Ferreira said most, but not all, residential properties in town would drop in assessed value five to ten percent from the assessments established in the 2005 revaluation update. State law requires properties to be assessed at close to 70 percent of market value, with the new Deep River assessments reflecting 63-70 percent of market value. The values are based on prices set in actual property sales occurring in Deep River over the past year.

Ferreira said the median selling price for a “typical residential property” in Deep River was $265,700 this year, down from a median selling price of $282,500. He said assessed values for commercial and industrial properties had changed little since 2005.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the lower assessments would bring a lower grand list of taxable property, and a likely rise in the tax rate in 2011. Selectman Art Thompson agreed, noting “just because your assessment is down by five to ten percent it does not mean your taxes will go down by five to ten percent.” The 2010 grand list of taxable property will be filed early next year.

Contract Agreements Reached for Region 4 Teachers and Administrators

REGION 4— Negotiators for Regional School District 4 and the unions representing district teachers and school administrators have reached contract agreements without the need for binding arbitration.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said negotiators for the district school boards and the Region 4 Education Association and Region 4 Administrators Association reached tentative contract agreements earlier this month, with professional mediators provided by the state Department of Education assisting in the final stage of the negotiations. If no agreements were reached this month, the school district would have been forced in to binding arbitration, where a three-member arbitration panel picks that last and best offer from one party or the other.

Levy said the contracts have been approved by members of both union bargaining units, and need final approval from each of the district’s four school boards. Levy said details of the contracts would be released after the proposed agreements are presented to the school boards at a joint meeting scheduled for Dec. 1.

Region 4 negotiators have usually reached agreements through mediation in the years since the state’s binding arbitration law for teacher contract negotiations became effective in 1979. District administrators are in the final year of a four-year contract that expires June 30. The district’s 213 teachers agreed in 2009 to a one-year salary reopener in a contract that expires June 30.

Garth Sawyer, district finance director, said the salary reopener provided a one percent increase for teachers at the top step of the district’s teacher salary schedule, with teachers at lower steps on the salary schedule receiving a slightly larger pay increase in the current school year

Region 4 School Board Hires Madison Lawyer for High School Investigation

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of Education has hired a Madison lawyer to investigate reports of a gag order allegedly imposed on students and staff at Valley Regional High School in the wake of the departure of the school principal last month.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said Stacey Lafferty, a lawyer with a solo practice in Madison, has been hired to conduct the investigation that was authorized by the board at a Nov. 18 special meeting. Levy said Lafferty had served previously as a hearing officer for two student expulsion hearings in the district.

Levy said Lafferty has begun the investigation, and was at the high school Monday. Lafferty is expected to interview students, staff, and Levy herself, about claims by some students and parents that a gag order was imposed on students and staff before and after the Oct. 12 resignation of Eric Rice, the Chester resident who worked briefly as principal at the high school. There have been claims that students were ordered, under threat of sanctions, not to discuss the circumstances of Rice’s departure on school grounds.

Levy has declined to comment on the circumstances of Rice’s departure after less than two months on the job, despite reports that she had given Rice a resign-or-be-fired ultimatum for unspecified reasons in mid-September. The alleged gag order was cited in a complaint filed with the state Department of Education earlier this month by Essex resident Susan Magaziner.  The complaint was dismissed by state Commissioner of Education Mark McQuillan, but district lawyers also recommended the board sponsor a full investigation in to the alleged gag order.

Levy said Rafferty’s investigation would conclude with a written report to the board of education that will also be available to the public. Levy said she is hopeful the investigation would be completed before the school’s Christmas holiday break late next month.

Levy, who assumed the district’s top job in July 2009 after nearly three years as assistant superintendent, Monday also dismissed rumors that she is interviewing for other school administration jobs in preparation for leaving Region 4. Levy said she enjoys working for the Chester-Deep River-Essex school district, and has not interviewed for other positions despite the recent controversy over the principal’s departure and the alleged gag order. “I have not even thought about looking elsewhere,” she said.

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.

Until We Meet Again Author at Essex Books

Susan Jones, author of  Until We Meet Again will be at Essex Books on Sunday, Dec. 12, from 12:30-3:00 p.m. for a book signing. Until We Meet Again was the runner-up in the 2008 Benjamin Franklin Awards competition, in the Children’s Picture Book category.

Treasured memories come from ordinary moments. Between one winsome grandfather and one lucky little boy are keepsakes of the heart…memories made by the two of them for all time.

Most are simple. Checkers and hot chocolate. Hugs and silly songs. A special wink that means we’re in this together.

But their time together is coming to an end. With insight and tenderness, Jones tells the story of what comes next for a little boy who discovers memory-making is a language of love that can be whispered across the years.

“This poignant children’s book handles the subject of loss in an elegant manner. Gently, the coming and going of generations and the naturalness of life’s cycle are put into clear focus. I recommend this book as a wonderful tool to begin understanding, dialogue, and healing” says Robert J. Ancona, Chief, Department of Pediatrics
St. Joseph Medical Center, Towson, Maryland.

Susan Jones suggests that people may want to consider donating a copy of the book to their local hospice to help “encourage others who are celebrating life in the midst of loss.”

Susan Jones grew up in Lockport, New York. She currently resides and teaches in Connecticut. Susan’s favorite getaway for inspiration is the Adirondacks, where there is time to reflect upon the many people—young and old, innocent and wise—who have touched her heart. This book is a celebration of their generosity and tenderness.

Please call Sue McCann at Essex Books at 860-767-1707 for more information.

Chester Holiday Night Festival and Town Tree Lighting

Chester Center - snow oil 30 x 36 by Leif Nilsson ©

If you’re looking for holiday magic, look no further than Chester this evening, Dec. 3. Tonight the historic Chester village will be especially festive with the annual tree-lighting and caroling, while all the galleries and shops beckon you in with holiday goodies and lots of holiday inspiration.

The Annual Holiday Night Festival, which is co-sponsored by the Town of Chester, Chester Rotary Club and the Merchants of Chester, will begin at 6:00 p.m. at the Chester Flagpole between Main and Maple Streets with the annual tree-lighting and sing-along. The community will gather to sing carols around the decorated Christmas tree (a songlist is available at www.visit-chesterct.com), and hot chocolate and popcorn will be served. After the sing-along, members of the United Church of Chester choir will be caroling throughout the village, the Chester Boy Scouts Troop 13 will line the streets with luminaries, and Saint Lucia Girls will stroll around with goodies.

The plentiful art and photography galleries of Chester will host new exhibits and the shops will be full of holiday gift ideas. The new 2010 pewter ornament, designed by a Chester artist, will be on sale by the Chester Hose Company and the local merchants.

Free parking is available at the Water Street and the Maple Street parking lots, both a short walk to the center. Limited on-street parking is available as portions of Main Street will be closed to vehicle traffic. More information about Chester can be found at www.visit-chester.com and www.chesterct.org.

Some of the galleries and shops that will be open starting at 5:00 p.m. include:

Al Malpa Photography Gallery
4 Spring St, (860) 558-5499
www.almalpa.com
Stop in to visit with Al Malpa and see his exhibit of photography from the Smokies and closer to home. Enjoy holiday refreshments between 6 and 9 p.m.

Caryn B. Davis
One Spring Street, (860) 526-5936
www.cbdphotography.com
Chester photographer Caryn B. Davis will exhibit recent 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 as part of Chester’s Annual Holiday Night Town Christmas Tree Lighting and Caroling.

Century 21 Heritage Company
One Main Street (860) 526-1200
We will be hosting Taylor’s Sweet Treats. Taylor will be offering affordable homemade treats for teachers, hostess gifts, or just for fun! A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Arabian Horse Foundation. Please join us for a real treat between 5 – 8 p.m.

Chester Gallery
76 Main Street, (860) 526-9822
Chester Gallery presents its Annual Postcard Show where all art measures 4″ by 6″ or smaller. In addition, see a small selection of signed prints by Sol LeWitt.  Have a glass of sparkling wine from 5 to 7 while viewing art you can take home in your pocket.

Chester Village West
317 West Main Street (on the Chester/Killingworth line)
Continuing its monthly exhibits by Chester artists, Chester Village West is presenting an exhibit of paintings and works on paper by Chester artist Elizabeth Gourlay from Friday, Dec. 3 through Jan. 1.  The public is invited to the opening reception on Dec. 3 from 5 to 7 p.m. to meet the artist and enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres prepared by the Chester Village West chef. Following the opening reception, the exhibit at Chester Village West can be seen daily from 9 to 5.

Connecticut River Artisans
5 West Main Street, (860) 526-5575
www.ctriverartisans.com 
We are celebrating our Annual Holiday Show with a second reception from 5 to 8 pm.
This year we have 21 exhibitors, which include Painters, Photography, Paper Mache, Handbuilt and Hand Thrown Pottery, Comical Shadow Boxes, Handsewn Brooches, Soft Sculptures, Stained Glass, Pressed Florals, Fused Glass & Wireworks, Hand Silk-screened Adult Clothing, Handknits, Marbled Silks, Pocketbooks, Wooden Carved Pieces and Pewter and Paper Books & Journals. The Artisans will be serving hot, mulled cider as well as wine and delectable finger foods.  Open every day: 12- 6pm  November and December

Hammered Edge llc Studio & Gallery
14 Main Street, Kathryne Wright Owner/Artist 860-526-1654
www.hammerededge.com
Winter Wonders Open House Friday December 3,2010 from 5 to 9pm.
Celebrate Winter and the gathering together of friends and family. Our collection of world artifacts, jewelry, handmade watches, beads, costume-wear, masks, and accessories will help you find that most wonderful gift to delight. Many of our treasures are fair trade certified from around the globe. Custom jewelry design and repairs are our specialty.

Hitchery Books
4 Water Street, 860-526-8722
Stop by to see our selection of books – the perfect gift for everyone on your list! – or place an order for with us for that hard-to-find present. We’ll be serving up holiday cookies and our special homemade eggnog. Open until 9 pm.

Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery, LLC
One Spring Street, (860)-526-2077
www.nilssonstudio.com
The Holiday Exhibit of a selection of oil paintings of the artist’s garden, the Connecticut River Valley and world travels by Leif Nilsson will open with a reception from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. This show runs through February 18, 2010. Gallery hours: Weekends Noon – 6 pm. Other times by chance or appointment.

Maple & Main Gallery
One Maple Street, 860-526-6065
www.MapleandMainGallery.com
The artists of Maple & Main Gallery invite you to the opening reception of their Holiday Exhibition from 5:00 to 9:00 pm. Come and enjoy beautiful artwork from over 30 highly acclaimed Connecticut artists, light refreshments and holiday cheer in our cozy 1790s building. Original artwork is a lasting, heirloom quality gift and Maple & Main offers an intriguing variety of art in many styles, mediums and sizes.

Ye Olde English Christmas Faire Weekend at Deep River

Deep River Congregational Church will be hosting a “Ye Olde English Faire” weekend Dec. 3 through Dec. 5, including Dessert by Candlelight, a Christmas Faire, and a Festival of Christmas Music.

On Friday Dec. 3 enjoy Dessert by Candlelight for $6 at the 6:00 p.m. sitting or the 7:30 p.m. sitting.   On Saturday Dec. 4 do your Christmas shopping in decorated booths  filled with homemade decorations, candy, pies ,cakes, wreaths, toys, games, knitted and crocheted items, and much ,much more.  Stop by the Country Kitchen and take home some seafood bisque or loaves of bread.  Visit the Reindeer Restaurant for breakfast or lunch.

On Sunday Dec. 5 enjoy a Festival of Christmas Music at 6 p.m. featuring Bil Groth.  Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 children 6-12, and free for children under 6.

For further information, check out our church website:  www.deepriverchurch.org or email the church at office.drcc@snet.net . To order tickets for the Dessert by Candlelight or Concert, call (860-526-5045) or stop in at the church office Monday – Friday, 9:00 – 2:00.

Holiday Concert at the Essex Library

Member of the CMS Adult Ensemble, from back row, L. to R.; Tom Briggs, Madeleine Favre, Cecelia Mezger, Art Meister, Linnea Hagstrom, Jenifer Grant, Roger LeCompte, and Caswell Haskell. Front row; Anne Bing, Suzanne Haskell, Christine Murphy, and Judith Anderson.

The Essex Library will host an eclectic holiday concert by the Community Music School’s Adult Ensemble on Thursday, Dec. 2 at 7 P.M. The group, led by Tom Briggs, will perform a lively, wide-ranging selection of music celebrating the festive season, along with some surprises.  Formed during the fall of 2009, the ensemble is open to adults who play any instrument at an intermediate or advanced level. Director Tom Briggs also serves as arranger for the group, and new members are always welcome.

The concert is free, but reservations are requested, and may be made by calling the Essex Library at 860-767-1560.
 Community Music School, located in Centerbrook, also offers a New Horizons Band for adult beginners, a group voice class, a string ensemble, and of course private lessons.  For information about any of the programs, visit www.community-music-school.org, or call the school office at (860) 767-0026.

Tree Lighting and Holiday Stroll in Essex Dec 4

Sing-Along Trolley Rides, Musical Performances, Tree Lighting To Highlight Essex Holiday Stroll

Free rides on the Sing-Along Holiday Trolley will highlight the Essex Holiday Stroll on Saturday, Dec. 4 from 12 noon to 5 pm. Pictured are Essex Board of Trade Member Bill Foster, “Mrs. Claus”, and Dawn Swope of the Community Music School.

If you are looking to put some spirit into your holiday shopping this year, look no further than the Essex Holiday Stroll taking place Dec. 4 from 12 noon to 5 pm. 

Organized by the Essex Board of Trade, the afternoon promises plenty of holiday fun for everyone.  All are invited to climb aboard the Sing-Along Holiday Trolley with Mrs. Claus for a free ride that will loop through Essex Village from Essex Town Hall down Main Street, Pratt Street and North Main.

Singers and musicians from the Community Music School will perform throughout the afternoon at various locations on and around Main Street.  Shops and restaurants will be serving up special refreshments while extra special offers and discounts will be given to all those with an Experience Essex button, sold for $5 at designated locations. 

Donations of unwrapped toys will be collected for Toys For Tots throughout the day and brought to Griswold Square on the corner of Main and Ferry Streets for a tree lighting and carol sing at 5 pm.  Free parking is available on village streets, in designated lots, and at Essex Town Hall.  For more information on the Essex Holiday Stroll, go to www.essexct.com or call the Essex Board of Trade at 860-767-3904.

Essex Garden Club Decorate Silent Policeman

left to right: DeeDee Charnok, Sheila Gleason, Sandy Meister and Gay Thorn

As they do every year, theEssex Garden Club has decorated the Essex silent policeman and the merchants’ window boxes with greens for the holidays.  Shown here from left to right are:  DeeDee Charnok, Sheila Gleason, Sandy Meister, and Gay Thorn.

Middlesex County Community Foundation Honored at AFP National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon

Middlesex County Community Foundation (MCCF) was honored on November 18, 2010 with the Award for Outstanding Foundation at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) 2010 Connecticut National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon.

“We are thrilled to receive this award,” said Cynthia H. Clegg, President & CEO of MCCF. “The staff and volunteers of MCCF work very hard to support the Middlesex County community and fulfill our mission. To be recognized and honored for these efforts is both an honor and humbling.”

The Award for Outstanding Foundation is presented jointly by the AFP Connecticut and AFP Fairfield Chapters. It honors a foundation that demonstrates commitment to the community through financial support and through the encouragement and motivation of others to get involved, to help make the community a better place, and to take leadership roles in giving back.

MCCF was nominated by a MCCF Fund for Women & Girls Committee member who has interacted with the Community Foundation for four years. Her work with a local nonprofit organization brought her into contact with MCCF, and her developing relationship led her to volunteer for the Fund for Women & Girls.

MCCF works from a simple premise – the Community Foundation idea is a simple one: anyone can be a philanthropist; anyone may use it to give something back to the community. MCCF represents local people, giving locally to make an impact on the lives of others – not just for today, but forever.

The Middlesex County Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Middlesex County.  Its two-fold mission is: (1) to work with charitably-minded individuals and organizations to build permanent endowments and other charitable funds and (2) to support local nonprofit organizations through effective grant making to address community needs. Since its founding in 1997, the Community Foundation has provided more than $1.5 million in grants to more than 200 organizations for the arts, cultural and heritage programs, educational activities,  environmental improvements, and for health and human services. For more information call 860-347-0025, email info@MiddlesexCountyCF.org or visit the website: www.MiddlesexCountyCF.org.

Essex Selectmen Delay Public Hearing on Regional Health District

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has again delayed scheduling a public hearing on the option of joining the Connecticut River Area Regional Health District.

First Selectman Phil Miller said Thursday the board, which held a workshop on the health district Wednesday, has decided to discuss the issue further at its Dec. 1 meeting before setting the date for a public hearing on the option of joining the regional health district. Miller said the board wanted to review the estimated cost per year of one additional configuration of health services related personnel. This would involve having the town hire a full-time director of health, who would also be qualified as a sanitarian, with a part-time assistant.

During the workshop with Mary Jane Engle, director of the Connecticut River Area Regional Health District, the board received cost comparisons for five configurations of health services related personnel, and later dropped the two most costly options from consideration. Joining the regional health district that was established in July 2006 by the towns of Clinton, Deep River, and Old Saybrook, was the least costly option, with the district providing all health-related services, from septic system inspections to restaurant inspections and public health clinics, for $88,192 per fiscal year.

The town’s current configuration for health-related personnel, including a part-time health director, a full-time environmental analyst, with a contracted sanitarian and food inspector, is costing $113,198 in the current fiscal year. The option of having a contracted director of health, with a full-time sanitarian and full-time environmental analyst, would cost $167,209 per year.

Miller had appointed Engle as the town’s part-time health director on a month-to-month basis in October after Dr. William McCann, a local physician, resigned from the position. The selectmen later agreed to conduct a full review of health services options for the town, and hold another public hearing on the option of joining the regional health district.

Engle told the selectmen Wednesday the regional health district, which has its office in Old Saybrook, employs three sanitarians, and strives for a two-day response for most permit applications and services such as soils testing for residential septic systems. Engle is also a sanitarian, and held the job in Westbrook before the regional health district was established.

Essex selectmen held an initial public hearing on the regional health district in June 2006, before the district went in to operation, and later decided not to join the district based on a generally negative reaction at the public hearing. A second public hearing held last February drew a mixed response, with more expressions of support for joining the regional health district.

Miller said he anticipates the public hearing on the regional health district would be held in January, after the approaching Christmas holidays. The selectmen would then decide whether to bring the issue of joining the regional health district to a final vote at a town meeting.

Career Column: It’s All About the Money

Literally, the jobs described below are all about the money, exchanging it, managing it, and making it, without manufacturing anything at all.  If you work in banking or financial services, you probably already know about these jobs.  This column is for those who don’t work in banking or finance.  It should be of special interest to parents, spouses, friends, or siblings of people working in these fields, or readers who are considering them.  

 

Financial Analysts

These professionals assess the performance of investments by studying financial statements and analyzing other financial information to project earnings and determine a company’s value.  Financial analysts typically focus on specific industries or narrower subject areas.  They use spreadsheets and statistical software, and they are likely to work long hours, travel, and face stressful deadlines.  Financial analysts need strong math, analytical, and problem-solving skills, and they should be detail-oriented and highly motivated because they have to do intensive research and focus on minute details.  They need a good academic background and at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field.  These jobs pay very well and are highly competitive.   Students who are considering a career as a financial analyst should work hard in college, majoring in business, economics, finance, or a related field.  A strong background in math, good study habits, and good time management skills honed in high school would be an advantage.   

Stockbrokers, Financial Services Sales Agents, Investment Bankers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics includes stockbrokers, investment bankers, and financial services sales agents in one category, “Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents.”  These positions have in common the need to find customers and sell them financial products.  Stockbrokers advise clients on investments and conduct transactions, charging a commission on each one.  It is essential that they build a customer base.   Financial services sales agents sell a variety of financial products, such as insurance, banking services, or credit cards.     Investment bankers sell advisory services to companies and sell securities.  All of these jobs can be quite stressful.  Investment banking in particular requires very long hours and a very high level of motivation.  Only the top performers keep their jobs after the first couple of years.  Those who succeed, however, are rewarded by making quite a lot of money.    Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, self-confidence, and high levels of motivation are essential to success in all of these fields.  A college degree in business, finance, or a related field is usually required and sales experience is an advantage.  Young people considering these fields can prepare by honing their interpersonal and time management skills along with studying math, business, or finance. 

Personal Financial Advisors

Personal financial advisors assist individuals with investment, insurance and related decisions and help them plan to meet short and long term financial goals.   Some financial advisors also sell financial products.  All must do a lot of marketing to establish a client base, and they may conduct seminars or programs to engage clients.    Personal financial advisors usually have a college degree and often take courses in investments, estate planning, or related areas on their own.  They need good sales, math, and communication skills, and with experience and an exam they can obtain the Certified Financial Planner credential.  Good job growth is expected, but these jobs are competitive and those who have strong sales skills are likely to be most successful.  A career as a personal financial advisor can be a good choice for a career changer who has strong interpersonal and sales skills, an interest in the field, and a facility with numbers. 

The careers described above all require math skills, analytical ability, and a high level of motivation.  Financial analysts need a stronger finance background, while stockbrokers, investment bankers, financial services sales agents, and personal financial advisors need strong interpersonal and sales skills.  All of these can be challenging, stressful occupations requiring long hours and hard work, but for individuals with the right interests, talents, and temperament these fields can be tremendously rewarding, personally and financially.   One caveat, however, is that the demands and stress of these positions can, and often will, take a toll on family life.  That’s a topic for another column. 

Career Resource

The Riley Guide (www.rileyguide.com/), published online since 1994, is a comprehensive and easy to navigate directory of online job search and employment resources.  It provides straightforward information about careers and also provides links to helpful job search information.  For example, the Riley Guide offers a  directory of executive search firms for finance and accounting jobs as well as links to salary guides.   It also offers pages and websites that provide more general career advice, such as how to write a cover letter and how to network and interview.   In addition, it has a section on handling a job loss.    I highly recommend it as a place to start or continue a job search.

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

Region 4 School Board to Investigate Alleged Gag Order at Valley Regional High School

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of Education voted Wednesday to hire an independent party to investigate reports that a gag order was imposed on students and staff at Valley Regional High School in the wake of last month’s departure of the former high school principal.

The board decided at a special meeting to retain an outside attorney to investigate the alleged gag order and report back to the board. The five members present at the meeting, including board treasurer Richard Strauss of Chester, who is Rice’s father-in-law, voted unanimously to begin the investigation as soon as possible.

Reports that students were ordered not to discuss the situation involving the principal under threat of sanctions by school officials surfaced before and after Rice’s Oct. 12 resignation from the principal job he held for less than two months. There were reports that Rice, a Chester resident, had been given a resign-or-be-fired ultimatum from Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy, who has declined to discuss the circumstances of Rice’s departure. There have been claims by students and some parents that students, including members of school athletic teams, had been ordered not to attend a Sept. 23 rally supporting Rice, and not to discuss the situation on school grounds. Kristina Martineau, who had been assistant principal at the high school for about three years, has been named as acting principal for the remainder of the current academic year.

The alleged gag order had been included in a complaint to the Connecticut Department of Education against Levy and the Region 4 board that was filed by Essex resident Susan Magaziner. State Commissioner of Education Mark McQuillan dismissed the complaint last week, but Magaziner has also submitted the complaint to the U.S. Department of Education’s regional office in Boston, Mass.

Board Chairwoman Linda Hall of Deep River said an independent investigation of the alleged gag order was not required for the dismissal of the state complaint, though she acknowledged the school district’s lawyer, Ann Littlefield, had recommended the board investigate the allegations.

Levy who has denied the claims of a gag order on students or staff, said she wants the investigation. “If there was a gag order I want the truth to come out and quite honestly I deserve the truth to come out,” she said, adding “I want my name cleared.”

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Ian Neviaser, who had been principal at the high school before Rice was hired, said the state Department of Education would not conduct the investigation, though it had suggested the names of individuals qualified to conduct such an investigation. Hiring a lawyer for the investigation would cost the school district about $175 per hour.

District officials are expected to announce the person retained to conduct the investigation next week. The private attorney would interview students and staff at the high school. The individual would be asked to complete the investigation and present a report to the school board as soon as possible, though there is no deadline for completion of the investigation.

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.

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau Hires Prevention Coordinator

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau, Inc. has recently welcomed Ali Siemianowski to their staff. Hired as the new Prevention Coordinator, Ali will  be working under the Drug Free Communities Grant to strengthen the Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Council’s efforts to prevent youth substance abuse.

The Drug Free Communities Program, directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), provides grants of up to $125,000 to community coalitions that encourage citizens to prevent youth substance abuse. Tri-Town is one of the 169 grantees selected nationwide from 521 applicants to receive this grant. To qualify for matching grants, all awardees must have at least a six-month history of working together on substance abuse reduction initiatives, have representation from 12 sectors of the community, develop a long-term plan to reduce substance abuse and participate in the national evaluation of the DFC program.

Ali is a recent University of Vermont graduate with her Master of Public Administration and a Healthcare Management Certificate. She has held internships with the National Alliance of Mental Illness headquarters in Arlington, VA and with the State of Vermont’s Department of Health. She was also an active member of substance abuse and suicide prevention coalitions in Vermont where she spoke on the particular issues a campus town faces.

Tri-Town looks forward to her joining the continuing prevention efforts here in our communities.

First Connecticut Bike-Walk Summit Raises Hope

If you doubt that bicycles and pedestrians are beginning to get some long-overdue attention as road users, those doubts might have been revised on Saturday, Nov. 13, when about 150 people gathered at Central Connecticut State University for the state’s first Bike-Walk Summit.

Participants learned about the latest developments at the Connecticut Department of Transportation, heard about national trends in community planning such as “Complete Streets,” got the scoop on the new legislative landscape, and learned about national and international bicycle and pedestrian planning—among many other topics.

The summit was sponsored by www.BikeWalkCT.org. Old Saybrook representatives included members of the Bikeways Committee, the Board of Selectmen, and the Police Commission.

Highlights:

A “Complete Streets” law took effect on Oct. 1 in Connecticut. This refers to a practice of considering all road users in street design, including non-motorized users. This new law says, among other things, that the state and municipalities working with state money must set aside 1% of funds for bike and pedestrian projects.

Things are busy in New Haven, where a number of tangible changes are underway. The city has completed a street design manual that addresses bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. It is available at the New Haven web site: www.cityofnewhaven.com/TrafficParking/pdfs/CS-Manual-04-05-10.pdf

New Haven is using the “SeeClickFix” Web site to accept public input about safety issues and repairs. (http://www.SeeClickFix.com) SeeClickFix is a local advocacy Web site that lets users write about issues and encourages communication between residents and local government. SeeClickFix users post a complaint about problems that occur within a set of boundaries on a Google Map, like a missing stop sign or a damaged curb, and the site communicates the problem to local agencies and departments, with a mark the Google map.

New Haven also has a “Vision Zero” initiative, an idea that got its start in Scandinavia and is spreading worldwide. It is based on the premise that traffic fatalities are NOT inevitable.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is exploring six major changes to past policies, including the following:

  1. Setting aside 50% of Federal Transportation Enhancement funds received by the DOT for bicycle and pedestrian projects.
  2. Allowing Surface Transportation Funds (STP) to be used for bike and pedestrian projects.
  3. Putting sidewalks on an equal footing with other elements of road design.
  4. Including more bicycle and pedestrian design standards in the DOT Design Manual.
  5. Making faster responses to local situations, implementing of a “quick fix” mechanism.
  6. Collaborating with the Department of Environmental Protection, which currently administers many miles of bike and pedestrian trails within the state park system.

Comments regarding changes to DOT policy can be sent to Tom Maziarz, DOT’s Bureau Chief for Policy and Planning. Email: maziarztj@ct.gov.

The Capital Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) has a “Smart Cycling” education program. According to Sandra Fry, Transportation Planner, these programs are based on the principles advanced by the American League of Bicyclists: “Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.”

Ms. Fry reviewed who and what causes of cycling accidents. According to her sources, responsibility for cycling accidents is about 50/50 between cyclist and motorist. She also showed that about 50% of all cycling accidents involve falls by the cyclist, indicating that many riders have poor control of the bike. The Smart Cycling program teaches five layers of safety for cyclists, including bike control, following traffic laws, proper positioning on the road, hazard avoidance, and use of helmets.

Legal trends are causing more state and local governments to look at laws as they pertain to bicyclists and pedestrians, according to Kyle Wiswall of the Tristate Transportation Campaign. Nonetheless, there continues to be a lot of misinformation regarding those laws. One of the primary objections to “complete street” designs, he said, is the fear that towns raise their liabilities with designs that encourage multiple types of users. Contrary to common opinion, however, towns have “design immunity” as long as implementation is done according to accepted design standards (such as those advanced in connection with Connecticut’s new “Complete Streets” law).

Wiswall also discussed the “vulnerable user law” that will be considered in the upcoming legislative session. This law creates a new category of road user—anyone outside the crumple zone of a motor vehicle. This can include emergency workers while outside their vehicles, road workers, pedestrians, cyclists, roller bladers, skateboarders, horseback riders, and others. If passed, it will give police the power to cite drivers whose role in accidents with “vulnerable users” is currently uncovered by existing laws.

Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, shared that about 60% of survey respondents in Portland, OR, could be classified as “concerned” about safety in cycling—a factor which causes them to cycle less than they might. This 60% will be the source of growth in transportation cycling as better infrastructure and better education become established.

These were just some of the highlights. Information flowed freely, as did some cautious optimism that a new day may be dawning for those who would like to leave their cars in the driveway. The presentations will be posted at the BikeWalkCT Web site by the week of Nov. 22.

For some interesting Web sites, check out these:

Connecticut bicycling and walking advocacy site where the Summit presentations will be posted: http://www.bikewalkct.org

Walk to School Pledge: http://walkitbikeitct.org

United States Bicycle Route System: http://www.adventurecycling.org/usbrs

Share-the-road signage in Connecticut: http://sharetheroadct.org

Benchmarking report 2010 on biking and walking in the US: http://www.PeoplePoweredMovement.org

Kathy Connolly is Chairman of the OldSaybrook Bikeways Committee and can be reached at kathy.connolly@snet.net

Two Joyful Concerts with Cappella Cantorum and Westbrook Chamber Choir

Music Director/Conductor and co-founder of Cappella Cantorum, Barry B. Asch

Cappella Cantorum will perform Haydn’s “Paukenmesse;” “Te Deum” on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 5, at 3 p.m. at St. Mark R.C.Church, 222 McVeagh Rd. Westbrook.CT .

On Saturday, Dec. 4, 8 p.m. Rachael Allen will conduct the Westbrook Chamber Choir, which will participate with Cappella on the “Te Deum” and “For the Beauty of the Earth” by John Rutter and perform some of their own music.

Come and enjoy the joyful choruses with professional chamber orchestra under the direction of Barry Asch.

Tickets $20, Seniors and Students $18. Children 12 and under free. Tickets available at Homeworks, Old Saybrook; Celebrations, Deep River: The Turning Page, Old Lyme and Stewart’s Music, Niantic. Call (860) 767-8452 for information.

Essex Town Meeting Approves Appropriations and Appointments

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Monday unanimously approved six appropriations and more than two dozen reappointments to towns and board and commissions.

About 15 residents turned out for the town meeting, called the annual town meeting because the agenda also includes approval of the annual town report. The town report for the 2009-2010 fiscal year is dedicated to Josephine Bombaci, a longtime resident and member of the Essex Democratic Town Committee who died in September.

Four of the appropriations, including $33,796 for the town clerk’s office, $32,815 for the grants and special appropriations account, $16,408 for a wastewater management study for the Ivoryton village area, and $3,450 for parks and recreation, were already covered or offset by grants, fees, or revenue and required no new appropriations of town funds. Most of the discussion focused on two additional appropriations that were not offset by grants, revenue or fees, $41,646 for legal services and $68,462 for police services.

Board of Finance Chairman Jim Francis said the overrun for legal services, which required an appropriation of additional funds, was partly caused by court appeals of new property assessments established under the last revaluation, and negotiations on a new contract for the union representing town highway workers.

The $68,462 additional appropriation for police services was partly offset by a drunk driving enforcement grant of about $50,000. The grant, which requires a 25 percent match of town funds, is used to pay police overtime for enhanced drunk driving enforcement, including police check points, at certain times of the year.

But about $18,000 of the budget overrun resulted from additional overtime for town police officers. First Selectman Phil Miller noted that two of the town’s four full-time officers have been out at various times over the past year, one for a medical leave and another for an approved leave of absence while the officer attends the Connecticut Police Academy to train for a possible job as a state trooper.

All of the reappointments to boards and commissions were approved on unanimous voice votes without discussion. Reappointments for three-year terms ending in December 2013 include  Douglas Demarest and Jeffrey Lovelace for the conservation commission, Charles Corson, Dan Lapman and alternate Stephen Knauth for the inland wetlands commission, Jeffrey Going, Joseph Zaraschi and alternate Earl Fowler for the harbor management commission, Michael Holmes, James Rawn, Jack Spangler and alternate Edward Burleson for the park and recreation commission, Stuart Ingersoll and Alix Walmsley for the zoning board of appeals, Hope Proctor and alternate Jim Hill for the zoning commission, and Adrienne Brochu and Mark Pratt for the tree committee.

Reappointed for two year terms ending in December 2012 were John Beveridge, William Foster, Alan Kerr, and David Winstead for the economic development commission, and Alvin Wolfgram for the sanitary waste commission and the water pollution control authority. Reappointed for five-year terms on the planning commission ending in December 2015 were Carla Feroni and commission alternates Robert Laundy, Neil Nichols, and Claire Tiernan.

Appointments to the retirement committee, which supervises the pension funds for town employees, were made by First Selectman Phil Miller, and did not require confirmation by voters at a town meeting. Reappointed for five year terms on the retirement committee were Carl Ellison, Jim Francis, Paul Fazzino, and Ellen Wexler, with Selectman Norman Needleman appointed to a spot on the committee that had been held by Linda Savitsky, who had been serving as chairwoman of the committee in recent years.

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.

Connecticut River Museum Re-Opens For Annual Holiday Exhibit and Events

Essex, CT – With fire damage repair and restoration nearly complete, the Connecticut River Museum will re-open on Friday, Nov. 26 with the much anticipated 17th Annual Holiday Train Show. 

A new roof, new windows, and refurbished wood flooring original to the historic 1878 Steamboat Warehouse will enhance the third-floor setting for the family-friendly, locomotive extravaganza featuring a fully operational, HO scale layout with interactive components.  Designed by train artist Steve Cryan, the Holiday Train Show exhibit has become a popular outing for train fans and all who are young at heart.  The show runs through Feb. 13 and is sponsored by the Valley Courier. 

On Sunday, Nov. 28, the Museum will remain open until 7:00 pm to present the annual Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing and Boat Parade in partnership with the Essex Historical Society and the Essex Board of Trade. 

At 4:30 pm, a traditional, lantern-lit stroll will kick off at Essex Town Hall.  All are invited to join the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife & Drum Corps, along with a parade of antique cars, as they wind down Main Street stopping to sing carols along the way.  Once the foot parade reaches the grounds of the Connecticut River Museum, a parade of festively-lit boats passes by the waterfront in review and ends with Santa and his elves arriving on one of the boats for visits with children on the Museum lawn.  First, second, and third place prizes are awarded for the best decorated boats.   The rain date is Sunday, Dec. 5.  Admission to the Train Show exhibit is reduced to $5 for all ages with children under age 6 free from 5 pm to 7 pm that evening. 

The second floor gallery will also reopen in December with a sneak preview of the exciting new exhibit The River That Connects Us, bringing to life the evolution of the River as a great resource for transportation, recreation, and inspiration.   Made possible in part by the Connecticut Humanities Council, the exhibit will illustrate the environmental impact and its importance to our heritage and to our future and include a hands-on children’s discovery trail.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, closed on Mondays.  For more information, call 860-767-8269 or go to the CRM website www.ctrivermuseum.org.

Local Poet Suzanne Levine at the Essex Library

Chester author Suzanne Levine will present her first collection of poetry, The Haberdasher’s Daughter, at the Essex Library on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 7 P.M.

Her poetry has appeared in numerous magazines, and she was a nominee for the Pushcart prize, as well as a finalist in the 2009 Midnight Sun Chapbook Competition.

Suzanne teaches the craft of memoir writing with Lary Bloom at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut libraries and community centers.  Suzanne will talk about her writing, read some selections from the book, and books will be available for signing and sale. 

The program is free and open to all, although registration is requested. Please call us at 860-767-1560. The Essex Library is at 33 West Avenue in Essex Village.

CT Commission on Culture & Tourism To Host Public Information Workshops

The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism (CCT) will host three public information sessions on its historic rehabilitation tax credits for industrial and commercial property owners as well as private homeowners. Information on each program will be provided as well as valuable strategies on incorporating building sustainability while maintaining historic integrity.

The dates and locations of the three sessions are:

November 17, 2010 (8:00 to 10:00 a.m.)
New London Harbour Towers, 461 Bank Street, New London

December 3, 2010 (8:00 to 10:00 a.m.)
Waterbury Development Corporation, 24 Leavenworth Street, Waterbury

December 13, 2010 (8:00 to 10:00 a.m.)
Wilcox Room, Middle Oak Building, 213 Court Street, Middletown

The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism brings together tourism, history and the arts. Its mission is to preserve and promote Connecticut’s cultural and tourism assets in order to enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of the state. The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism’s office, which includes a gallery, is located at One Constitution Plaza, Hartford, Connecticut.

The Commission’s arts gallery is open to the public weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The space features changing exhibits that directly relate to the Commission’s programs across all three divisions. For more information, log on to www.cultureandtourism.org.

A Goldilocks Planet

Yes, I like to look at the moon or the North Star on a beautiful evening, but I’m really not into things astronomical. But I just heard of something way, way, way up there—much farther away than our moon and sun and all the stars that we see–that has left me marveling, and for completely personal reasons—I feel a strange connection to it.

Have you ever heard of a Goldilocks Planet? Well, I never had until a few days ago. But I really paid attention when I heard that a Goldilocks Planet has been found. It’s fantastic. You’ll agree when I explain. Its scientific name is Gliese 581g. Yes, Gliese 581g. What a strange name. Please don’t ask me to explain it. I can’t. What is important is that it is the very first Goldilocks Planet to be found.

Why did this wow me? Because many years ago I interviewed a great astronomer who said that such planets exist. The name Goldilocks Planet was coined later by somebody else. What was enormously significant about his prediction is that he said that Goldilocks Planets could support life–life as you and I know it. And might! And that there must be others out there.

The great astronomer’s name was Harlow Shapley of Harvard University. I interviewed him for an article for the magazine of the Worcester Sunday Telegram. I was a staff feature writer on the magazine.

That was in 1956, I believe—I do not have my scrapbooks handy as I write this. Prof. Shapley is the one who made that big news by coming out and boldly predicting in print that one day a Goldilocks Planet would be pinpointed somewhere in the infinity of the cosmos. We would know exactly where it is!

I’m sure you’re wondering about that name, Goldilocks Planet, which is so much more charming than Gliese 581g. It comes from the children’s  nursery story, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Truth is, I never read that story, so I don’t know why this planet was dubbed “Goldilocks.” Enlighten me, please.

What is so dramatic about Gliese 581g? Let me tell you. In the million, billions, trillions, zillions of heavenly bodies, Gliese 581g is the first found that has the most important essential to support our kind of life. That essential is water.

Why is this so? Because Gliese 581g  has the right size and is the right distance from the star that it circles. Not too close, and not too far. This is how it was explained a few days ago by Dr. Steven Vogt, leader of the team that made the big find on Sept. 29. He is an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Perhaps you read or saw this same story.

He said, “Gliese 581 g is the first rocky, roughly Earth-size alien planet found to orbit its star in the so-called ‘habitable zone’ — a just-right range that can allow liquid water to exist.”

Harlow Shapley made his startling prediction in a new book. He had written many. I tried to check its title this morning, but did not succeed. Sorry. Anyway, I read a review of it in the New York Times, I believe. Or maybe it was the Boston Globe.

He was known widely for his writings. He was gifted in a special way. He could write fully on abstruse subjects for scientific journals. Then he could switch to a plain and fascinating style understandable by an ordinary reader like me.

At Harvard he was not only the senior professor and chairman of the astronomy department but director of its Astronomical Observatory. He had spent hours beyond counting at the eyepiece of its telescope.  But later, he didn’t have to do that. A camera would do that work for him. He made the observatory world-famous.

In this latest book of his, I was startled by what he was proclaiming: there was a planet out there with characteristics like our Earth. He was not saying that he had found such a planet. He was stating that statistics—an important branch of mathematics—assured us that there would be planets out there that could sustain life. Not strange and startling life unrecognizable to us, but our kind of life. With creatures human and animal that we see every day

I don’t remember his mentioning it, but what this meant was that if we somehow could get to such a planet, we could live and thrive on it. That was a logical conclusion. Remember, he was writing before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made it to the moon!

Back then I was a feature writer for the Worcester Sunday Telegram.  I had been a reporter and then I landed this wonderful job as a feature writer. Which was to find and write up a good feature story every week—a story that would interest lots of people because of who or what it was about. It could be about anybody or anything, just about.

But it had to be true. Factual. Interesting, but not sensational in the way of some tabloid scandal sheets. And the idea of it had to be pre-okayed by my editor and the story I turned in checked by him.

I was only 27 or so at the time. I contacted Professor Shapley—I don’t recall exactly how—and explained what I had in mind. Got to tell you I knew zilch about astronomy. Had never read a book on it, never taken a course.

What strikes me today is why he ever said yes–why he would take the time for a country bumpkin like me. The Telegram was a fine newspaper, the second or third largest in New England, but not the New York Times (what is interesting, however, is that it is now owned by the New York Times).

I expected to go to his office in Cambridge. No. He told me that he would be at his summer home in Peterboro, N.H.  Asked me if I could visit him up there. Sure! I got started early on the appointed day and drove up. A modest frame house surrounded by trees. And when I pulled in, I found Professor Shapley out among the trees, a clipboard in hand. I wondered, What the heck is he doing?

I’d like to say that he was a tall man with a distinguished mane of white hair, but I have no recollection. Time has dimmed all such details. What I remember is that he was a genial man and easy to talk with. Totally unpretentious. Nothing about him to provide a clue about his true identity as a leading scholar and scientist who was very different in a remarkable way.

And what was that? Well, he had written papers and books intended for fellow astronomers. In an astronomer’s lingo, with mathematical equations and tables of data. Writings that had been read and studied by fellow astronomers around the world.

But as time went by, he had started to write also for ordinary folks like you and me. Well, maybe not you, but certainly ordinary like me. All to provide enlightenment and give us an idea of the immensity of our universe and what it is like. And in his latest book, to tell us why he was convinced that somewhere way, way out there would be a planet like ours. More than one. With people like you and me, or very much like us.

So, what was he doing our here in his baggy pants and old felt hat? And clipboard? Poking around at the foot of a big maple? Of course, I asked him.

He smiled. What he told me was so unusual that no wonder I remember it half a century later.
“I’m studying the chipmunks around here. It’s a hobby of mine.  There are many of them. They’re a lot of fun to study.”

He lifted his clipboard and pointed to a sheet on it. It was filled with notations. No idea what he was recording. Maybe what size the furry little creatures were, what they ate, how many babies they had, how they adapted to the various seasons, whether there were different kinds.   Maybe he wrote all that up for some wildlife journal on the side. I don’t know.

If so, I would have found all that interesting enough to write a separate feature about him: “Harlow Shapley—Great Astronomer, Weekend Chipmunk Whiz!”

He invited me into his house and we sat in a sunny corner. He put his clipboard aside. And in a relaxed way…which made me relax, too…I admit I was a bit uptight…explained why he believed what he believed about the assured probability of extra-terrestrial life. And he did it in words that anybody could understand.

No way can I recall his exact words now. I wish I had a copy of my published article in hand! But they went like this:
“Our earth  circles the sun. It’s the Polish astronomer Copernicus in the 15th Century who proved that our earth circles the sun. What extraordinary news. For eons people believed just the opposite–that the sun circles our earth, and there are still plenty of people around who believe that.

“And our earth supports life–supports us–because it circles the sun at the right distance and with the right temperature range on it to have hydrogen and oxygen under appropriate conditions to form water.  Water is all-important for life. In fact, we—you and I–are mostly water. No water, no life. No water, no food.

“Astronomers have concluded that our planet Earth may be the only one in our solar system (in plain words, circling the sun) under conditions which make it possible for us to be born, grow up, and live our lives.

“But—and it’s a great big but—our solar system is only one in the universe.  There are many, many solar systems. They vary in size. Some have more planets than others, and these planets make their loops around their sun at varying distances from it—which means they have different chemical make-ups and different temperatures cold and hot, and so on.”

He made it all understandable to me.

Now here is the dramatic part. Statisticians—mathematicians who specialize in calculating the probability of happenings—can safely conclude that out there in infinity there are one or more heavenly bodies that replicate our planet.  And this is exactly what Professor Shapley had calculated. And this is why he was so sure he was right. This is why he had published that book.

Of course I was greatly impressed. I knew I was sitting across from a great man. I was so grateful that he was taking the time to explain all this to me, and that he was doing it so generously and patiently. And all without making me feel like an ignoramus, which is what I was. My nervousness had long eased, and I felt enthralled as I asked and listened and scribbled in my pad.

I don’t remember whether he offered me a cup of tea or coffee, though he must have. I was there quite a while. I do remember that he asked a lot of questions about me…about what my job was like and why I had chosen it as my vocation. Things like that. I could see that he had a consuming curiosity. Stars and planets. Chipmunks.  Ordinary Joe’s like me.

A cordial goodbye, and then I was in my car heading south toward home. I was elated by my time with him. But also uptight. Uptight because my job was only half over. The harder half was coming up. How to write all this down accurately and interestingly.  Without blunders, and without exaggerations. In complete fairness to him.
And all well enough to be worth printing in our Sunday magazine. We published more than 100,000 copies every week, and statisticians of another kind estimated that some 150,000 readers would look at the magazine…and see my story.

How many would read it?  Well, that was anybody’s guess. But my concern every week was that my editor would think highly enough of what I turned in to justify using all that paper and ink to publish it.

Just before writing this piece today, I researched Harlow Shapley on line. Dead many years now. And I learned something new about him. I knew that he had grown up on a farm in Missouri. And wanted to get away from it. He enrolled at the  brand-new School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. But it was  a year late in opening. What to do?  He decided to pick another field.

He studied the university’s catalog, starting with the letter A. The first subject listed was Archaeology. Later he explained. “That was too hard to pronounce!” The next was Astronomy. He could pronounce that, and that’s what he signed up for! He never got to study Journalism formally but he got very good at explaining things well, which is what Journalism is all about.

Maybe that is why he said yes to me that day, a young journalist who was doing the type of work that had once fascinated him so much that he aspired to do it.  Maybe why he spent so much relaxed time with me in his country house, away from the pace and formality of the great university.

Well, now we know that our universe is billions of years old. What fascinates me as I write this is that in the span of one person’s adult life—mine—I got to meet the scientist who made the amazing prediction that he did: “There’s a planet like ours out there!” And some 50 years later I got to read that the first Goldilocks Planet has been discovered–Gliese 581g!

And we know where is. In fact, I suspect “Gliese 581g” is the way it is pinpointed on some huge astronomical chart.

And we know how far away it is. Dr. Vogt said about 20 light years away.

How far is that? Well, I had forgotten how big a light year is.  I checked. One light year is six trillion miles. Let me spell that out–6,000,000,000,000 miles (I rounded it off). Now multiply that by 20! Not around the corner, eh?

We have reached the moon, yes. And we have plans to reach Mars before many more years.  But it will be a while before we get to Gliese 581g, won’t it? And a while before some of its inhabitants reach us.  Unless they are already on their way.

Who knows?

Oh, excuse me.  Some people,  but not the scientific kind, believe some of those folks are with us now.

John Guy LaPlante is a veteran writer, journalist and resident of Deep River.  His award-winning columns and articles were most recently published in the Main Street News.  He is the author of two books, “Around the World at 75. Alone! Dammit!” and “Asia in 80 Days. Oops, 83! Dammit!”  He has just completed his service as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in the Ukraine where his 27-month tour of duty began last fall.  John always welcomes comments on his articles.  Email him at johnguylaplante@yahoo.com

State Department of Education Dismisses Region 4 Complaint

REGION 4— The Connecticut Department of Education has dismissed a complaint filed by an Essex resident against the Region 4 Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy over alleged actions taken during and after the departure last month of former Valley Regional High School Principal Eric Rice.

The complaint was filed earlier this month by resident Susan Magaziner, alleging an “abuse of power” by Levy leading up to Rice’s Oct. 12 resignation, and a “”violation of civil rights” through a “gag order” that prevented students from discussing the circumstances of Rice’s departure. Magaziner, who does not have children at the high school, said she became concerned about the situation at the high school after hearing that students had been barred from discussing Rice’s departure, and threatened with sanctions if they discussed the matter.

Commissioner of Education Mark McQuillan, in a response dated Nov. 8, dismissed the complaint.  McQuillan advised that he had dismissed the complaint because Magaziner had not first “attempted to resolve the matter” with Region 4 officials, and had not provided “any facts, materials, or documents to support” the allegations.

McQuillan also questioned whether the Connecticut State Board of Education held jurisdiction because Region 4 employees are “employees of the district, not the Connecticut State Board of education.” McQuillan also advised that alleged violations of Constitutional rights need to be addressed in federal court.

But despite the dismissal of the complaint, the Region 4 Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the district central office to discuss the possible appointment of “an independent party to investigate an alleged gag order and violation of First Amendment rights at Valley Regional High School.”

Rice, a Chester resident hired as principal over the summer, resigned from the job on Oct 12, less than three weeks after reports that he had been given a resign-or-be-fired ultimatum by Levy for unspecified reasons. The reports of a gag order on students at the high school surfaced after a Sept. 23 protest rally by residents and students concerned about the situation.

Levy reported at a Nov. 4 meeting that Rice had received a severance payment of $62,150, along with extended health insurance coverage costing about $15,000. The school board has named Kristina Martineau, who had been assistant principal at the high school for about three years, as acting principal through the end of the current school year in June.

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.

Governor Rell Takes New M-8 Rail Cars for Test Run

Metro North's New M-8 Rail Cars to be Used on the New Haven Line

Delivering on a promise she made to Connecticut commuters shortly after taking office, Governor M. Jodi Rell today boarded the first set of new M-8 rail cars for a test run. Accompanied by officials from the Department of Transportation, the Governor traveled from New Haven’s Union Station to Fairfield for some first-hand testing of the M-8 rail cars, which are to begin entering regular service next month. 

The Governor highlighted the testing with the announcement that the state would be increasing its order for M-8s from 300 units to 342 units, with the additional cars to be paid for with funds already set aside for such purpose.

“Five years ago I laid out a vision for remaking Connecticut’s commuter rail system,” Governor Rell said at a trackside ceremony before the on-board testing began. “The centerpiece of that proposal was a new fleet of rail cars for Metro-North’s New Haven Line – one of the busiest commuter lines in the world. Since the first M-8s arrived last Christmas, much has been done to ready these cars for New Haven Line service. For commuters, the wait is nearly over.

“For many years, our commuters have traveled in cars dating to the mid-70s,” the Governor said. “These older cars have traveled many miles supporting millions of commuters – but it is clearly time for a new fleet. Soon more than 300 of these M-8s, bright in their red and steel colors, will cruise the New Haven Line.”

Interior of New M-8 Rail Cars

To date, the state has received 22 M-8s. The cars are undergoing extensive testing in the New Haven Rail Yard as well as on runs between New Haven and New York. Testing began in late December 2009, when the first M-8 cars arrived, and has been on-going with engineers from the car builder, Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. of Japan, and the entire project team working virtually around the clock.

“The Department and Metro-North Railroad are aggressively working to place a set of M-8 rail cars in regularly scheduled train service in December,” said DOT Commissioner Jeffrey A. Parker. “The M-8 rail car is the most complex rail car in the United States, utilizing both DC-third rail and AC-overhead catenary propulsion systems. Getting the M-8s ready has been challenging, but has placed Connecticut’s rail fleet in the forefront of the commuter rail industry.”

The new M-8s feature more open and brighter interior space, high-back seating for all seats and a distinctive vestibule area. There are four, 110-volt outlets for every row and an American with Disabilities Act- (ADA-) compliant lavatory as well as other passenger-oriented improvements such as larger windows, brighter lighting, arm and headrests and an automated announcement and signage system.

The M-8 fleet also incorporates many safety, environmentally friendly and energy saving features. Regenerative braking systems use the braking effort of the electric traction motors to return electricity to the power grid system. Thermally insulated car bodies and window sealants/gaskets are more efficient, while the stainless steel car body is compliant with the latest federally mandated crashworthiness guidelines.

Camp Hazen YMCA Opens 2011 Summer Camp Registration

Camp Hazen YMCA has opened registration for its 2011 Summer Camp Season.   Located in Chester, Camp Hazen YMCA offers one and two week session of both day and resident camp.  Families are encouraged to register early to ensure that sessions that fit into their summer schedule are still available.

Camp Hazen YMCA is committed to helping youth develop valuable life skills through camping experiences that build healthy bodies, open minds and awakened spirits.  Camp Hazen provides children with a community of positive role models who nurture children to ensure that they are successful, have fun, make friends and develop life skills such as independence and leadership. 

“The camp staff are the key ingredient at a great camp.  They are vital to the success of a child’s experience,”   said Camp Director, Danita Ballantyne. “At Camp Hazen YMCA, the staff are carefully chosen based on their prior experience, teaching ability, and maturity.  They are expected to be positive role models, responsible and FUN.   The majority are former Hazen campers or returning staff and are from as close as Chester, CT and as far away as Australia.”

Camp Hazen YMCA is located on Cedar Lake and offers 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.  ALL activities are designed to ensure that campers are having fun, making friends and learning valuable life lessons 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

Ann Gaylord 11/15/10

Ann Gaylord of 30 Bokum Road, Essex passed away on 11/15/10

Con Brio Choral Society and Con Brio Festival Orchestra to Present Glorius Christmas Music Fest

Concerts Feature Noted Tenor Brian Cheney and A Special Children’s Event

Con Brio Choral Society to present two Christmas concerts in Old Lyme (Photo Bob Lorenz)

Con Brio Choral Society, celebrating its 13th season on the Shoreline, will join with the Con Brio Festival Orchestra in two “glorious” Christmas concerts on Friday, December 10 at 8pm and Sunday, December 12 at 3pm at Christ The King Church, l McCurdy Road, Old Lyme. On Saturday, December 11 from 11am to noon, the chorus will present the second annual Mini Concert for Children, “Seven Joys,” a fun, interactive program for the whole family to be held in the Church community room.

Conductor Dr. Stephen D. Bruce said the concert centerpiece, Giacomo Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, contains some of the “most exuberant choruses ever written.” The program also features a 19-voice motet, Buccinate by Giovanni Gabrieli, which Bruce says should be “spectacular” with brass, organ and woodwinds; Gustav Holst’s Christmas Day;  Francis Poulenc’s Hodie Christus natus est; Domenico Bartollucci’s Jubilate Deo and  Kirke Mechem’s Seven Joys of Christmas as well as familiar Christmas carols with the audience invited to join in, a Con Brio tradition.

Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) Verdi’s successor as the leading composer of Italian opera, is best known and celebrated for Madame Butterfly, Tosca and La Boheme. Dr. Bruce notes that Puccini who was a church organist, wrote Messa di Gloria at the age of 21. The piece was well received at its first performance in 1880 but was neglected, presumably because Puccini found his new calling – opera. In 1951 the score was found by an American researcher working on a biography of Puccini in Lucca. “It has delighted choruses and audiences ever since,” Bruce said.

Noted Tenor Featured
Con Brio’s guest soloist for the Messa di Gloria is nationally noted tenor Brian Cheney. Cheney is well known to area audiences for his performances with the Salt Marsh Opera Company. He has been called  “one of the most unique and thrilling American tenors of his generation.” His operatic roles have included  Rodolfo in La Boheme, as well as  Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor,  Don Jose in Carmen and Alfredo in La Traviata..

“ I love singing with choral groups,” Cheney says. “The most exciting and musically fulfilling performing experiences I have had were when I am part of a larger ensemble — either as a cast member of an opera or a soloist in concert with choir and orchestra. I always feel lucky when I have the opportunity to sing Puccini and his Messa di Gloria is no exception!”

 Cheney’s oratorio and concert experience range from critically acclaimed performances in Handel’s Messiah in New York City, Providence and Philadelphia to Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Mozart’s Requiem as well as Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. He recently made his Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall debut that was hailed by the New York Sun: “Cheney exhibited such control, expressiveness and pure vocal beauty that he certainly had the full house in the palm of his hand all evening.”

A Vatican Connection
Dr. Bruce notes that Con Brio’s  recent concert tour of Italy influenced the program: the chorus sang Bartolucci’s  Jubitale Deo, which was written by the director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, in one of  their joint concerts with an Italian chorus.  And there may be no end to which the conductor will go to have the perfect score — “We knew that this piece was scored for orchestra but we didn’t know how to get copies of the instrumental parts,” Bruce said. “One of our tenors, Tony Carrano contacted a family recently moved to Italy and they were able to contact the Vatican directly and they sent us scores and parts.”

Seven Joys, Mini Concert for Children
Last year’s concert was such a rousing success – some 250 in the audience — that Con Brio decided to repeat this fun, interactive program to introduce children to the joys of choral music. The singers and orchestra musicians will be led by Maestro Bruce and a repeat special guest,  ffortissimo the Clown (a.k.a. Matt Saltus, a talented Vermont musician/comedian) and his able assistant, Ransom. Kids can hum, sing, dance, play drums, talk with the musicians in a fun-filled morning for the entire family.The concert is supported in part by an Alfred Nash Patterson Grant from Choral Arts New England. Tickets are $10 per family at the door or may be reserved by calling 860-526-5399.

Con Brio Choral Society presents works of beloved masters and songs from a broad choral repertoire, both sacred and secular, in a spring and winter concert each year.
Susan Saltus, Essex, is associate music director. An auditioned chorus of 50 voices, it is a diverse group ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-70s. Con Brio has attracted both professionals and enthusiastic amateurs, some of the finest singers on the Shoreline. Members are from Branford, Guilford, Clinton, Madison, Westbrook, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester, Killingworth, Moodus and Groton.

Tickets for the December 10 and December 12 concerts are $25 adults, $15 students. Call (860) 526-5399 or (860) 434-8879. For more information, visit www.conbrio.org

Fit Focused: Starting from Scratch

In August 2009 my husband and I gave each other anniversary presents of entry fees to compete in Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP) to celebrate 20 years of marriage.  I had just completed my third half ironman and this was a natural progression.  For those of you who don’t know, an Ironman (or ironwoman!) is a 2.4 mile swim, followed immediately by a 112 mile bike ride and then straight into a full 26.2 mile marathon run.

The training commitment was huge and we wondered after a few months of training what we had got ourselves into.  The training was going to be a monumental task and everyone in the family had to buy into it including our three kids and the dog.

Our friend Jason, who had just completed the Providence Half Iron with me had given us lots of inspiration as he had not been in the best of shape yet had trained for, and completed, Ironman Arizona the year before.  The commitment was not just monetary; the $600 fee to sign each of us up was proving to be the easy part!

The race was at the end of July 2010.  After a long year of training and a few minor setbacks everything was going well, we were covering longer and longer distances and getting fitter by the day, but each having to train separately so the other could manage our kids, our businesses and our training. 

In that 10 months I learned so much that helped me to be where I wanted to be.  I felt like I was a great role model for my children when my youngest daughter, who was 10, decided to do her first kid’s triathlon.  The kids were excited for us and very supportive and I felt like I was living a better life for myself.  I felt great focusing on our lives and value for all – living every minute to the full.
 
In June a bombshell fell.  I was having age-related medical issues and after a routine check-up and some tests I was told I was going to need a total hysterectomy.  “There goes my Ironman”, I thought.

The disappointment was overwhelming as I was just peaking in physical fitness and my husband and I were doing this together.  Surgery would put me further back than when I started.  I was gutted that I had come so far and it was all going to be for nothing.  Rod continued training and although it was tough, I found that I was able to help him even more with those last few weeks and really make a difference.

Two days before surgery I went to watch all the athletes, who had trained all year just like I had, begin their race. Although it was mentally tough for me to watch rather than participate, I was so glad that I took that opportunity and was amazed by what I saw. 

There were blind people tethered together doing the 2.4 mile swim in Mirror Lake.  There were recovering cancer patients doing the 112-mile bike ride and participants with artificial limbs running the 26.2 mile full marathon.  This motivated me to start from scratch again — my situation was not so difficult.

That day I cheered my husband on who finished in 13 hours and 22 minutes and I went and signed up for IMLP 2011.  Two days later I was having my surgery and was not allowed to exercise properly for three months.
 
It is now Oct. 17, and a beautiful sunny afternoon and I just ran with my daughter.  I am training again and even though I have lots of hard work ahead of me, I feel I am living life to the full.

Setbacks happen and we have no control over them.  I had two choices – pick myself back up and get going or admit defeat. 

I chose the former.

I encourage everyone of you, who has had physical or mental setbacks, to have exercise as a major part of your lifestyle. My point is that you don’t have to be a personal trainer to be involved in exercise — anyone of any age or fitness level can do it.

It comes down to personal motivation and goal setting.  Lance Armstrong is a perfect example of someone who has overcome one of the worst illnesses and managed against all odds to do the impossible – win the Tour de France multiple times.  I know we are not all Lance Armstrong, but we all have the ability to set our own goals and succeed in whatever chosen level we decide.
 
Since my surgery, ball class has been the best medicine for me – starting over with core training on the ball to build back all those muscle and using light weights.  Anyone who wants to start with me is welcome as I am just crossing the start line.

I advise everyone to have a personal goal for themselves to exercise in some way.  The fall is a great time to start planning your exercise goals — don’t wait until winter when things get harder because of the weather.  People of all ages, shapes and sizes, disabilities or not, had the will to do the Ironman.  Inspire yourself by whatever exercise regime makes you feel great.
 
If you need to set an event goal, here are some great sites to pick upcoming events to get you started :
 
Active.Com has many choices  including the Turkey Trot on Nov. 25 sponsored by Sound Runner, Feb. 12 is the Cupid’s Chase 5K run or walk in Hartford.

The website Cool Running has a New Year’s Day run in Lowell, Mass., as well as many other events to choose from.

I hope that you get inspiration from these Ironman participants I have just told you about and that it inspires you to lead a better, healthier life.

Allison Duxbury is an AFFA qualified fitness professional with over 15 years experience in group and personal training.  After many years travelling the world with her husband Rod, an officer in the British Army, they returned to her roots in Connecticut to bring up their young family and start her business: FitFocused.  Three years later, the business is thriving and her clients range from 9-year-old competitive Irish Dancers to an octogenarian veteran

Earth Charter Community Shows Controversial Film

The ECCoLoV (Earth Charter Community of the Lower Valley, Inc.) monthly meeting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 14, will feature a screening and discussion of the controversial film END:CIV.  This film examines our culture’s addiction to systematic violence and environmental exploitation, and probes the resulting epidemic of poisoned landscapes and shell-shocked nations. 

Based in part on Endgame, the best-selling book by Derrick Jensen, END:CIV asks: “If your homeland was invaded by aliens who cut down the forests, poisoned the water and air, and contaminated the food supply, would you resist?”

The meeting will take place at the Yurt at the Sanctuary at Shepardfields, 59 Bogel Road, East Haddam.

END:CIV is in production; the unauthorized screening will feature the current version of the full length film. END:CIV is a ‘crowd-financed’ project relying on donations from the public.

The program is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be available and a discussion will follow the screening. The meeting is presented by ECCoLoV, a non-profit community offering a framework for a sustainable future. The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful world.

The Earth Charter Community of the Lower Valley – ECCoLoV – is a local 501c3 organized in association with EarthCharterUS and the international Earth Charter movement dedicated to fostering tangible local projects that reflect the values of the Earth Charter.

If you are interested in working with ECCoLoV, have questions, or would like to know how ECCoLoV might help your organization, contact the group directly or join thrir monthly meeting in East Haddam.

The group serves all of Connecticut with a particular emphasis on the lower Connecticut River Valley including the towns of East Haddam, Haddam, Lyme, Chester, Deep River, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Madison and East Lyme. The telephone number is 860-873-8989, or email info@earthcharterct.org.

Talking Transportation: Thank You Governor Rell

Anyone who follows this column knows I’m bipartisan in my criticism.  Whoever is in power, Democrat or Republican, I’ve got “suggestions” on how they could improve our transportation mess.

Since she came to office in the midst of a scandal, no other politician has been the target of my commentary more often than Governor M. Jodi Rell.  Today, however, I want to give her the credit she’s due for all she’s done on the transportation front.

Watching the Governor ride the first of the new M8 rail cars this week, I was struck by how she had come full circle in only six years.  The irony is it took her entire tenure in office to order, design, build, test and finally deliver these new cars.

In Governor Rell’s first budget address to lawmakers in February 2005 she started to undo years of her predecessors’ neglect of our trains.  She told lawmakers we must order 300 new rail cars, and they did.  Mind you, she told us then the cars would be in service by 2008.  I predicted, accurately it turned out, that 2010 was a better guess.
The Governor said riders should pay a small part of their cost with a modest fare hike, and that too was passed by lawmakers.

But Governor Rell also said that commuters shouldn’t pay more until they were actually riding in the new cars… a promise she kept.  As manufacturing delays by Kawasaki slowed delivery of the M8’s, that planned 1.25% fare hike was deferred.   A politician who keeps a promise.  Imagine that.

More recently, Governor Rell also told the New York MTA, parent of Metro-North, there was no way she was going to raise fares in Connecticut to pay for the budget problems of New York’s own making.  That was a first in the troubled history of Connecticut / New York relations, but again the Governor deserves credit for doing the right thing.
But not every dream came true during the Rell administration. 

Grumblings about a lack of a voting seat on the MTA or Metro-North boards never amounted to more than that… grumbling.

And yes, Governor Rell did change Commissioners in the Dept. of Transportation at a pace that left many people wondering who was in charge:  five Commissioners in six years.  One was a former State Trooper, another had run Bradley airport.  The two most recent of them actually had experience in rail transportation.

Wracked by scandals, Governor Rell was embarrassed on several occasions by her DOT, eventually asking local businessman Michael Critelli to study the agency and issue recommendations for reform.  Of course, few of the group’s suggestions were ever embraced.

Long promised repairs to our dilapidated train stations took four years to happen, thanks mainly to Federal stimulus money.  If this work wasn’t “shovel ready”, nothing was.

We’re still not certain if the much-needed New Haven Rail facility will ever be fully built, as its price yo-yoed from $300 million in 2005 to $1.2 billion in 2008.  The Governor’s solution… pay consultants $630,000 for an audit.  Their report found only $11 million in potential cuts.

Still, Governor Rell was a big rail fan, realizing the importance not only of fixing Metro-North, but planning for the future.  Together with fellow lame-duck Senator Chris Dodd, she secured a serious down-payment on high-speed rail between New Haven and Springfield.  Well, maybe not true “high-speed”, but certainly higher speed than Amtrak currently offers.

I’m not sure how Governor-elect Malloy will do on transportation, though he clearly understands the problems from his years as mayor of Stamford.  His dreams for better mass transit will be most tempered by our economic crisis.

But to outgoing Governor Rell all commuters should give a loud “thank you” for all that she accomplished.  She’ll be a hard act to follow.

Jim Cameron has been a Darien resident 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.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own.  You can reach him at Cameron06820@gmail.com  or www.trainweb.org/ct

“One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” at the Ivoryton Playhouse

Mac and Andrea

Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is the seminal novel of the 1960’s that has left an indelible mark on the literature of our time. The book was dramatized by Dale Wasserman and is based largely on Kesey’s experiences as a volunteer working with mental patients.

Here is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the struggle through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient who witnesses and understands McMurphy’s heroic attempt to do battle with the awesome powers that keep them all imprisoned. Through the conflict between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy, the play explores the themes of individuality and rebellion against conformity, ideas that were widely discussed at a time when the United States was committed to opposing communism and totalitarian regimes around the world. However, Kesey’s approach, directing criticism at American institutions themselves, was revolutionary for its time.

Martini, Mac and Billy

The play was first produced on Broadway in 1964, two years after the novel was published. The Broadway production starred Kirk Douglas as McMurphy, Gene Wilder as Billy Bibbit, and Ed Ames as Chief Bromden. Douglas retained the rights to make a movie version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for a decade, but was unable to find a studio willing to make it with him. Eventually, he gave the rights to his son Michael Douglas, who succeeded in getting the movie produced. By then, Kirk Douglas was deemed too old for the role of McMurphy, and the role was given to Jack Nicholson.

This cast includes Daniel Robert Sullivan* as McMurphy and Andrea Maulella*, who was last seen at the Playhouse as Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker, as Nurse Ratched. The play will be directed Peter Lockyer, a one-time resident of this area and past student of Valley Regional High School . A Broadway veteran, Peter has played the title role in Phantom of the Opera, and has recently finished performing in South Pacific at the Lincoln Center . Set design by Dan Nischan and lighting design by Doug Harry

Jacqui Hubbard, Playhouse Executive/Artistic Director comments, “We are so fortunate to have this talented cast and director on our stage to bring this Cuckoo’s Nest to life. As part of our mission, we are committed not only to bringing first class musicals and comedies to our audience, but also significant dramas that shine a light on problems that are still issues in our society. Peter Lockyer has a deep understanding of this classic of the American theatre and we are overjoyed to be bringing his vision to our audiences and subscribers.”

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest opens Nov. 3 and runs through Nov. 21. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $38 for adults, $33 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting the Playhouse  website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org . (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Essex Town Meeting to Act on Appropriations and Appointments

ESSEX— Voters will act on six appropriations and more than two dozen appointments and reappointments to town boards and commissions at a town meeting Monday. The meeting, called the annual town meeting because the agenda also includes approval of the annual town report, begins at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.

The requested appropriations, which have already received approval from the board of finance, include $3,450 from a park and recreation sinking fund, $16,408 from a wastewater study sinking fund. Requested supplemental additional appropriations include $33,796 for the town clerk’s office, $41,646 for legal services, $68,462 for police services, and $32,815 for the grants and special appropriations account.

The town meeting will also be asked to confirm several appointments and reappointments made by First Selectman Phil Miller, including Charles Colson, Daniel Lapman and alternate Stephen Knauth for the inland-wetlands commission, Carla Feroni and alternates Robert Laundy, Neil Nichols, and Claire Tiernan for the planning commission, and Douglas Demerast and Jeffrey Lovelace for the conservation commission. All of these are reappointments.

Miller has also appointed five members of the retirement committee, a panel that supervises the retirement funds for town employees, including a pension incentive program for members of the Essex Volunteer Fire Department. Reappointed to the committee are Carl Ellison, a former first selectman, Paul Fazzino, the fire chief, Jim Francis, chairman of the board of finance, and Ellen Wexler. Recommended by Miller for appointment is Selectman Norman Needleman, who would replace Linda Savitsky, who has been serving as chairwoman of the committee.

The town meeting will also be asked to confirm several reappointments made by the board of selectmen at an Oct. 20 meeting, including John Beveridge, William Foster, Alan Kerr,and David Winstead for the economic development commission, Jeffrey Going, Joseph Zaraschi and alternate Earl Fowler for the harbor management commission,  Hope Proctor and alternate Jim Hill for the zoning commission, and  Stuart Ingersoll and Alex Walmsley for the zoning board of appeals. Ingersoll is the longtime chairman of the ZBA.

Additional reappointments requiring approval include Alvin Wolfgram for the sanitary waste commission and water pollution control authority, and four members of the park and recreation commission, Michael Holmes, James Rawn, Jack Spangler, and alternate Edward Burleson. Holmes is the current chairman of the park and recreation commission. The town meeting will also be asked to confirm two reappointments to the tree committee, Adrienne Brochu and Mark Pratt.

Voters will also be asked to approve the annual town report for the  2009-2010 fiscal year that ended last June 30.

Essex Elementary School Foundation Announces 2010-2011 Grant Awards

Centerbrook, CT — The Essex Elementary School Foundation, a not-for-profit, volunteer organization that provides independent financial resources for worthy educational projects, enrichment programs, and other initiatives at Essex Elementary School, has granted $13,300 for the development and implementation of several programs during the 2010-2011 school year.  The Foundation’s Board of Directors met on Wednesday, October 27, 2010 and approved $5,000 to fund the Justus W. Paul World Cultures Program, $2300 to fund the Historian-in-Residence Program, $2,000 to fund the Artist-in-Residence Program, and $4000 to underwrite the purchase of one SMART Board.  Additional grant requests will be considered when the Board convenes again in April 2011.

Designed to expose students to countries, languages and customs outside the United States, the Justus W. Paul World Cultures Program was launched in 2010 with enrichment activities for third grade students.  Curriculum for the study of India and China as well as cultural days featuring music, dance, art, folktales, language, and food tasting were developed and implemented via a collaborative effort between school administrators, teachers, and LEARN, a third party educational program consultancy,.  This year’s $5,000 grant allocation will fund implementation costs for India and China cultural days as well as underwrite the costs to develop curriculum for an additional country, Haiti.  The Essex Elementary School Foundation established the World Cultures Program in memory of the late Justus “Jud” Paul, a founding member of the Foundation.

The Historian-in-Residence Program, now in its third year, provides hands-on study of the cultural heritage of Essex, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton for all students in grades 4-6.  The $2300 grant will fund the cost of village walking tours and special educational trips to the Connecticut River Museum and Bushnell Farm in Old Saybrook.  The $2,000 Artist-in-Residence Grant will provide funding for the development of permanent student artwork with themes based on children’s literature. 

Essex Elementary School Art Teacher Gary Stevens will create the criteria and oversee the student work.  The $4,000 Technology Grant will pay for the cost of one SMART Board, a large screen, interactive white board with computer connectivity, to be installed in a third grade level classroom.  

Since its inception in 1996, the Essex Elementary School Foundation’s primary goal has been to create a significant endowment that can support the school’s strategic vision to be a world-class educational institution.  Each year, 5% of the EESF endowment is allocated for programs and projects proposed by Essex Elementary School administration and staff.  Past grants have also funded a Scientist-in-Residence program, literacy support materials, equipment for musical and physical education, playground improvements, logical thinking games, and audio/visual equipment. 

For more information about the Essex Elementary School Foundation or to make a tax-deductible donation, go to www.essexelementaryschoolfoundation.org or make checks payable to “Essex Elementary School Foundation” and mail to Essex Elementary School Foundation, PO Box 882, Essex, CT 06426.

Information Session on Health Care Reform at Beth Shalom

An Information Session/ Community Forum will be held at the Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek on Nov. 30 to clarify some of the confusion that exists around the recent Health Care Reform Bill, and to discuss what the implications are for individual residents.

A panel of knowledgeable experts will summarize the key provisions of the bill enacted earlier this year, as well as the Connecticut state reform plan (“SustiNet”) passed in Hartford in 2009. There will be time for questions, comments and discussion.

To RSVP or for further information, please call United Action Connecticut (UACT) at 860.882.3849 or email: uact4change@hotmail.com

 Directions to Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek:

From Rt. 9, Take Exit 6 and drive 2.2 miile east on CT-148 through downtown Chester. Turn left at CT-154 (Middlesex Turnpike N) and go 0 .3 miile to the first right,King’s Highway. Turn right here, drive 0.1 mile and turn left into the CBSRZ parking lot.

Community Music School presents its 2010 Champions Awards

Pictured (l-r) are Greg Shook, President & CEO of Essex Savings Bank; Steve Haines, CMS Immediate Past President; Tim Boyd, CMS Past President; Susan Saltus, CMS President; and Peter Bierrie, CMS Vice President.

On Wednesday, Nov. 10, the Community Music School presented its 2010 CMS Champions Awards to volunteers and supporters at a breakfast event at the Essex Yacht Club. Essex Savings Bank received the Corporate Partnership Award and Patron Appreciation Awards were given to Timothy Boyd of Deep River and Steve Haines of East Haddam.

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

The event was sponsored by Con Brio Choral Society, Centerbrook Architects, and Bogaert Construction. Community Music School, located on Main Street in Centerbrook, is a not-for-profit arts organization dedicated to music education and appreciation in our community.

Please call 860-767-0026 or visit www.community-music-school.org for additional information.

One Hundred & Eleven Questions & Answers Concerning the Pilgrims

Author William P. Muttart will be at Essex Books on Saturday, Nov. 13, 1-2 p.m., to talk about his book, “One Hundred & Eleven Questions & Answers Concerning the Pilgrims: Passengers on the Mayflower, 1620.”

How much do you really know about the Pilgrims?  Are you aware that the Mayflower passengers were not known as Pilgrims until 1793, didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, and didn’t hold a First Thanksgiving celebration?  You also may not know that one Pilgrim lived in this country before 1620 and a legendary Native American they met in Plymouth had previously lived in England and Spain for ten years.  This book provides the answers to these questions and many more.

Co-author Muttart is descended from seven passengers who sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 and is a member of the Mayflower Society in Connecticut.  He is also the Secretary of the (Pilgrim) Thomas Rogers Society and has written a number of articles about the Pilgrims for various publications.

Please call Essex Books at 860-767-1707 or write to essexriver@comcast.net to reserve your space for this wonderful talk right before Thanksgiving!

Essex Books
2 Essex Square
Historic Essex Village
Essex, CT  06426
860-767-1707

Hours:
Sunday – 12:30pm-6:00pm
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday – 8:00am-6:00pm
closed on Tuesday
Saturday – 10:30am-6:00pm

“The little bookstore that could!!!”

Deep River Town Meeting Confirms Membership of Community Health Board

DEEP RIVER—Voters at a town meeting Tuesday confirmed the eight members appointed by the board of selectmen to the town’s new community health board.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the appointments were confirmed on a unanimous vote of the handful of residents at the town meeting. The new panel was created under an ordinance approved by voters at a Sept. 28 town meeting. It is charged with serving as a liaison to the Centerbrook-based Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley that is now providing visiting nurse services in Deep River, coordinate other public health efforts in town, and manage a charitable fund that was held by the now disbanded Deep River Visiting Nurses.

The members include former Selectman Russell Marth, former Town Clerk Jeanne Nickse, Dr. Kristin Zarfos, former nurse Carl Olson, visiting nurse Diane Recchia, former Connecticut State Police Col. Peter Terenzi, Nancy Howard, and Maura Carver.

While the new community health board is preparing to hold its first meeting later this month, the status of the charitable fund, called the Memorial Fund, held by the former local visiting nurse agency remains unresolved.  The Deep River Visiting Nurses Agency was disbanded on July 1 after voters decided in a May 18 referendum to discontinue town funding for the separate visiting nurse agency.

Smith said local Probate Judge Patricia Damon, who held an initial hearing on the status of the fund in July, has recused herself from the case after Richard Daniels, a former selectman who was president of the former Deep River Visiting Nurses board of directors, questioned her role at the July 22 probate court session that led to the plan to have the appointed community health board manage the Memorial Fund as a separate town fund for charitable purposes. Smith said Daniels is seeking to be named a trustee for the fund, while the board of selectmen want the fund to be managed by the community health board.

Smith said Lyme Probate Judge William Koch, who is also a former first selectman of Lyme, has taken over the case. Koch is scheduled to come to Deep River on Nov. 22 for another probate court hearing on the status of the fund.

The Memorial Fund, which currently contains about $72,000, is held by the local Liberty Bank branch in accounts that have been frozen pending a resolution of the dispute over the future status of the fund.

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.

Meriden Man Hired as Essex Zoning Enforcement Officer

ESSEX— After two attempts over six months, the town has a new zoning enforcement officer on the job. Joseph Budrow began working as the town’s full-time zoning and inland-wetlands enforcement officer Monday.

Budrow, who was recommended by a search committee that included members of the zoning and inland-wetlands panels and Selectman Joel Marzi, was offered the job by the board of selectmen after an interview/meeting on Oct. 20.

Budrow replaces Marian Staye, who had held the job for nearly eight years before departing in May. Staye has been working part-time in the enforcement positions during the succeeding months.

Budrow is the second candidate to be offered by job over the past six months. In late July, the board of selectmen offered the position to Robert Flanagan, a Thomaston resident who had been working as zoning enforcement officer in Redding. Flanagan decided not to accept the job, forcing the town to seek a second round of applications for the position. A total of 13 individuals submitted applications by a late August deadline.

Budrow, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography and planning from Central Connecticut State University, had worked since July 2008 as the part-time zoning and wetlands enforcement officer in Haddam. He worked from July 2007 to June 2009 as the part-time zoning and wetlands enforcement officer in Portland, and last April began working part-time in the two enforcement positions for the town of Burlington.

First Selectman Phil Miller said Budrow has obtained valuable experience working with the public on zoning issues over the past three years. “We believe he’ll do good work for us,” Miller said.

Budrow will work 30 hours per week and serve as the professional staff for the zoning commission and the inland-wetlands commission.

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.

Finance Matters: Estate Taxes and Your Government Absent From Work

Lots of people work hard all their life to put some money away for their retirement and leave behind some funds for the next generation.  If they’re prudent with their investments and live within their means, this can total a few million dollars. A few million dollars is nothing to scarf at, but it doesn’t put you in the same league as Bill Gates.  Owning a small business, having some real estate and a good retirement plan will often add up over time. The research and consulting firm, Spectrum Group, says that in 2009 there were 7.8 million families with a net worth of $1 million, excluding their primary residences. 

Some folks claim these people represent a “privileged” class of Americans, especially during these times of rampant foreclosures and high unemployment. Somehow, success in achieving the American  Dream has turned into a bad thing. I wonder what would happen if everyone felt this way and simply stopped working.  Then all the naysayers should be happy.  Of course, there wouldn’t be any tax money to pay for all the wonderful things that the government does for you, but that’s besides the point.

A part of being prudent with your money is the responsibility of doing some estate planning. Estate planning helps control what your heirs get, when, and on what terms.  It also helps in keeping down the taxes paid at death.  This isn’t evading taxes. It’s paying what you legally owe and no more.  In order to properly plan, it’s necessary that the government initiate regulations that the public can expect will be stable enough for plans to be projected into the future. After all, no one knows when they are going to die and people can’t be expected to change their estate planning every five minutes.

Under the Bush Administration, Congress passed a major tax bill entitled the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) that dealt with a number of estate planning issues. Many provisions of this bill were set to lapse in 2010. This would allow Congress to take up the matter again and decide what to do in for the future. Instead, Congress has let the Act lapse and thrown everything into turmoil. 

In 2009, the estate tax exemption was set at $3.5 million. Putting it another way, estates under that amount paid no federal estate taxes. In 2010, when EGTRRA lapsed, there was no estate tax regardless of the size. In 2011, the estate tax exemption returns to the pre-2001 level of $1 million.

Unfortunately most Americans think this issue has no direct impact on them. After all, only 1 in 160 people who die a year owe estate taxes. Perhaps these people should rethink their position.

Because of Congress fumbling the ball, the family of Yankee owner, George Steinbrenner, was able to escape estate taxes estimated up to $600 million. Combined with the deaths of three other billionaires in 2010, it cost the government $6.5 billion in taxes. In a time of economic recovery, letting this kind of revenue get away can not bode well for the popularity polls in Washington.

Secondly, if we return to the $1 million exemption in 2011, small businesses could suffer “liquidity” problems when trying to raise funds to pay the taxes. This can lead to the liquidation of many businesses along with the loss of jobs. I thought Congress said they were trying to create jobs. You don’t  do it by closing small businesses.

The likelihood is that Congress will act upon this mess and in all probability will simply extend the provisions of EGTTRA for a couple more years. Of course, they could have done this in the first place and avoided the problems caused by their screwup.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

Glenn “Chip” Dahlke, a Senior Contributor to The Living Trust Network, has 30 years in the investment business. He is a Registered Representative with LPL Financial and a principal with Dahlke Financial Group. He is registered to transact securities business with persons who are residents of the following states: CA. CT, FL, GA, IL. MA, MD. ME, MI. NC, NH, NJ, NY.OR, PA, RI, VA, VT, WY. Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. Contact him at chipdahlke@dahlkefinancial.com or at his office on Ashlawn Farm in Lyme, CT (860) 434-4261.

Barnum at Ivoryton Playhouse

Ivoryton:  Back around 1875, the circus impresario P.T. Barnum planned to make Port Jefferson the permanent home for his ”Greatest Show on Earth.” Apparently, however, Barnum was not well thought of in that Long Island community. People were worried about his strange cast of characters and the smell from his animals! Not in My Back Yard prevailed, and Barnum took his show across the Sound to Bridgeport, Connecticut and the rest is history.

Barnum, which had a successful Broadway run, is a biographical overview of P.T.’s life, with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Michael Stewart and book by Mark Bramble. It gives us a little nibble of how Barnum became the Prince of Humbug – charming his more practical and earth bound wife and into supporting all his schemes and dreams. The music is circus to the core- stirring and exciting – and the story of the enduring romance between Barnum and his wife, Chairy makes for a heart-warming and endearing family show.  Bruce Connelly*, who was last seen at the Playhouse as Finian in Finian’s Rainbow, returns to Ivoryton to play the title role. He will be joined by Beverley Galpin, who plays his wife, the long suffering Chairy, and a colorful cast of gymnasts and jugglers, aerialists and clowns!

If you have kids, or you are still a kid at heart, you won’t want to miss Barnum.

Barnum opens on Dec. 9 and runs through Dec. 19 for 2 weeks only. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults, $28 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*Denotes member of Actors Equity

Ivoryton Christmas Block Party and Illuminations Dec. 4

If you are looking for a different way to celebrate Christmas then head down to Ivoryton Dec. 4  for a “Not Your Traditional Christmas Block Party” from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The entire village of Ivoryton will be participating in this Holiday Extravaganza with carol singing, face painting, Santa’s Workshop Holiday Bazaar, culminating with the lighting of the Ivoryton Illuminations at 6pm (over 70,000 lights!) and the arrival of Santa.

Family activities include writing letters to Santa and holiday letters to our soldiers abroad at the Ivoryton Library; visiting with Santa in the Gazebo (photographs can be purchased from The Ivoryton Studio); face painting and musical entertainment at Leo’sGallery; carol singing outside the Playhouse at 5:45pm with the clowns and circus folk from The Ivoryton Playhouse upcoming production of “Barnum”; artisans with hand crafted gifts at Gather; Santa’s Christmas Workshop and Holiday Bazaar run by Boy Scouts and local churches; Aggie’s for free hot dogs and cookie decorating at “Something Special ” and finally chili and hot cider at the Ivoryton Tavern & Café where you can also catch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” to round off this wild and crazy Christmas celebration.

Ivoryton residents are invited to enter your home in the “Colors of Ivoryton” Christmas Lights competition. Pretty and white or wild and crazy – celebrate in your own style! Lots of great prizes from hometown businesses – email shanec89@comcast.net 

If you want to experience some real Christmas cheer, then come and join the party – The Ivoryton Christmas Vacation Party! Fun for all ages – we put the crazy back in Christmas!!

“America’s Money Answers Man” to Speak at Chester Guest House Retreat

Jordan Goodman, "America's Money Answers Man".

 CHESTER– Jordan Goodman, the nationally-recognized expert on personal finance known as “America’s Money Answers Man,” will give a free talk at Guest House Retreat & Conference Center in Chester, CT, on Tuesday, Nov. 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. The presentation, titled “Thriving Financially in Challenging Economic Times,” is part of Guest House’s ongoing public outreach series of free educational events that serve the local community. The seminar will include a Q&A session and will be followed by a free reception where guests can meet the author and media personality. There is a suggested donation of $10. 

Goodman recently appeared on The View with Barbara Walters and is a frequent commentator for NBC’s The Today Show, as well as programs on Fox, CNN, CBS and radio call-in shows across the country. He is the author of 13 bestselling books on personal finance, including the recently released Master Your Debt (John Wiley, January 2010). For many years Goodman reported on up-to-the-minute developments in personal finance for MONEY magazine. “Money dominates most people’s lives. Our financial health is one of the most important aspects of our sense of well-being,” says Goodman. “At a time when Americans are stressed about a lackluster economy and their money seems stretched to the limit, it’s hard to maintain perspective and peace of mind. Yet they may already have the answers to navigating their financial waters successfully. I want to show them how.” 

Goodman will take personal questions from the audience and cover a diverse range of topics, including: the Financial Reform Bill, college loans, creating passive income streams, the real estate market, mortgages, foreclosures, strategic defaults, and the effects of midterm elections on job creation, tax policy and estate planning. 

“Most people pay little attention to the way they interact with money, and this causes a lot of unnecessary suffering,” says Guest House executive director Adam Fuller. “Inquiring into the issues we have around money helps us feel supported in the world. We thought Jordan, who has attended many retreats here, could help us do that.” 

Guest House Retreat & Conference Center, a charming former country inn, opened its doors in May 2008. Today it houses a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational facility that hosts a variety of groups working in the areas of psychology, spiritual work, health and wellness, leadership and teamwork, scientific exploration, and ecological, social and environmental responsibility.