September 2, 2014

Essex Town Budget – The Numbers

Letter To The Editor:

Ten years ago the Town of Essex needed $12.9 million to cover all of its expenditures.  The projected expenditures for next fiscal year amount to $21.4 million.  The $8.5 million difference, a 66% increase in annual expenditures over the past ten years, is rather steep.   The numbers are neither Republican nor Democrat.  They are simply numbers reflecting the choices we as voters have made over the past ten years.  They are not indictments of the Board of Finance or the Board of Selectmen.  However, the rising expenditures are cause for concern, especially in this tough economic environment.

Moreover, the amount of tax collected from the town’s property owners has increased 85%, from $10.9 million ten years ago to a requested $20.2 million.  This is because the funds received from State and Federal governments have declined and therefore the town’s property owners now pay for a greater portion of the town’s expenses than in prior years.  Given the current state of the economy, that decline is likely to accelerate, placing an even greater burden on taxpayers.

According to the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc., our population has only grown by about 240 people in the past ten years.  The increases in the town’s expenditures are not the result of needing to provide significant services to these few additional residents.  In fact, funds paying off the expenses associated with major projects that were undertaken years ago, for example renovations and additions to our schools, have added little to the amounts that require funding each year.  Likewise, funding that will be used in the future to purchase needed equipment and provide for replacements of outdated equipment add little to the overall budget.  These numbers combined represent only about 5% of the requested budget. 

These budget numbers provide a clear warning that we need to reduce spending.  Gas prices, food prices and the housing crisis are real concerns that must be taken into consideration when budgeting for the coming year.  Has your income or wealth increased 85% over the past ten years?  Is your home worth the same or more than when you purchased it?  In most cases household wealth and incomes have been hit severely by this terrible economy.  Many people have lost their jobs.  People living on fixed incomes have seen no increases in their income while their costs have escalated.  Our town is not immune to these problems.  Under the circumstances, when taxpayers are under pressure from all directions, the Town of Essex should make every effort to bring down its operating expenses and look for ways to lighten the financial burden carried by all its residents and taxpayers.

Sincerely,

John Ackermann
Essex, CT

Please Vote “Yes” on June 7th

Letter To The Editor:

I am writing this letter to friends, neighbors, fellow property owners, and residents of the beautiful villages of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton to request that you come out and vote in the referendum on June 7th is support of our revised 2011-2012 budget. I am asking you to do this because the budget we have developed with the support of both Democrats and Republicans is fiscally prudent and in the best interest of our community.

The revised budget calls for total expenditures for both the town and education to increase by approximately 2.9%. In these times of soaring costs (as we all experience when we to go to grocery store or the gas pump), this level of increase is exceedingly responsible. And, candidly, anything less will have a material impact on the quality of life that we have come to expect.

No one likes to see costs go up, which is why we have worked very hard over the past seven (7) years to make government more efficient. We have made some difficult and painful decisions in order to control costs while trying our best to support organizations like our libraries, our volunteer fire department, and our various Boards and Commissions. These are the people that have guided our town while promoting the spirit of volunteerism that allows us to control our spending and limit the corresponding tax burden.

Of the total proposed spending increase of just under $600K, approximately $455K is for the increased cost of education, and a majority of that increase has already been approved by voters who participated in the Region 4 referendum. Although the increase in the Regional school budget was small, our share has increased because Essex will have a higher percentage of students attending the Region 4 schools next year. The local Board of Education worked hard to keep their spending in line despite increases in special education costs, making difficult choices that reduced a number of programs and staff.

The balance on the town side of the budget is largely comprised of small increases in expenditures for health insurance, maintenance of town roads and buildings, public safety, libraries, technology and sinking funds that will prevent future borrowing. These decisions were not made in a vacuum; they were made collaboratively with elected officials and volunteers of both parties acting in the best interest of the town.

In the bipartisan spirit that has guided our Town for many years, I ask for your support of this budget. Please come out and vote YES on June 7th. The Town Hall will be open for voting between 12 noon and 8PM.

Sincerely,

Norman Needleman,
Essex, CT.

Norman Needleman is a Selectman in the Town of Essex

Dangerous to Attribute Motives on Budget Voting

Letter To The Editor:

Recently I was dismayed to read a letter in your publication regarding the motives and background of the people who voted against the budget at the town meeting. I find it a dangerous practice to attribute motives to people’s actions. How does Mr. James know what their motives are? I know I never spoke with him. Did he survey all the participants in that meeting?

It seems he knows little about their contributions to the town. There were people there who have given of their time to Planning and Zoning commissions, Park and Recreation, Conservation Boards, School Boards and who served on the Library Board. As well, many of these same people have spent hours in volunteer services to keep our town as lovely as it truly is. I daresay many, if not all of the people present are financial supporters of our library, fire department and ambulance. It appeared to me there were people there who had spent hours studying the budget thoroughly and had no desire to embarrass anybody.

We all love Essex, and I would guess that each of us has our own reasons for our “yes” or “no” vote on the budget. I know of no organized cabal to overthrow the desires of the people of Essex. Perhaps many who voted “no” feel that our budget is too high for those who have had to go on food stamps (100% increase in 3 years) or those who have had liens put on their homes because they are struggling to pay current taxes. Perhaps some feel that with a declining enrollment at Essex Elementary School, the budget should have been held at no increase. Maybe some have recently lost jobs or are struggling to sell their homes. I drove down Maple Avenue yesterday and there were at least 4 homes for sale on that short street. Perhaps some who are on fixed incomes and worry about maintaining their own budgets for food and medicines just know that they can’t afford any increase at all.

The criticism is well deserved that many people didn’t make their concerns known at the budget hearings or workshops. But now that they have asked to be heard, it is unfair and unwise to suggest that they are trying to harm our town or those who currently serve as administrators. And perhaps there will be more questions on the 31st at the hearing. For instance, I still don’t understand why the contingency fund, if not used during the year for an emergency, is placed in another category. Why don’t we have a policy of rolling it over to the next year?

I won’t attempt to guess what is in someone’s heart when they cast a vote and truly resent it when someone, unknown to me, does so.

Sincerely,

Linda K. Dwyer
Essex, CT

Essex Town Budget II

Letter To The Editor:

It appears that Democrat Extremists are coming apart at the seams. They can’t handle the fact that a large group of non-partisan residents of Essex voted down the budget that, amongst other things, gave our Selectmen a pay raise at a time when many of our neighbors are suffering. We have one hundred and forty homes with liens, our seniors have not had a cost of living increase in over two years and the number of people in our town on food stamps has increased by ninety-eight percent.

This is not a political issue for those who voted down the budget. It is an ETHICAL issue. Democrat Town leaders seem unable to grasp this and appear inordinately annoyed that anyone should have the audacity to question their budget as it stood-before being voted down. The citizens of Essex have every right to ask questions and make comments. Since the budget was sent back to the drawing board, Democrat Extremists have picked-up their pitchforks and launched a campaign of lies and deceit against the citizens of this town who dared to question their wisdom.
There is so much nonsense in Mr. James’ letter that it is hard to know where to begin. His comments are replete with gross misrepresentations and downright lies.

It is the Selectmen who called for the referendum that will cost over five-thousand dollars. They knew that if they had initiated another paper ballot, they would have lost again.  By having a referendum, they have time to rally their loyal subjects – by making false accusations in their phone calls, emails and letters.  When they scare  them about the EES, the Library and our Firefighters, I wonder, do they remind them that they had given themselves a pay raise at a time when many of their neighbors are in financial trouble? I doubt that they do.

Mr. Jonathan James claims that a concerned Citizens group is contacting residents who are in rest homes. This is a fallacy, but reveals a well known political campaign strategy practiced by Democrat operative.   Our seniors have been faced with substantive tax and cost of living increases and do not need to be used by Democrat extremists for political reasons.

It is particularly galling that James credits Miller with the Essex Credit Rating improvement. Once again, truth eludes him. AAA Credit rating accrues to a Town which maintains a Rainy Day Fund at or above 10% of its annual Budget. Credit for this achievement goes directly to our Town Treasurer who has fought long and hard to get our Rainy Day fund over the 10% threshold. He had initiated this effort before Miller became First Selectman.  Miller is now proud of our Credit Rating and taking the credit.

Mr. James’ comment that “these people” do not contribute to the town is not only wrong, it is condescending. This type of gibberish makes people who are generous with their time talent and money wish to take their talents and dollars elsewhere.

The most ludicrous comment is how well our town is now managed. One after another of our highly qualified town employees have been terminated or forced-out. As a result, we are engaged in a series of defensive actions brought by several of these employees and are facing significant penalties. Even a cursory review of the year over year growth of our legal expenses will show a problem that is growing-not improving. In addition, several of our employees no longer talk directly to our First Selectman – preferring e-mail only. Unfortunately, we no longer have a team in our town government but rather a group of fiefdoms that are forced to drink from a poisoned well. 

Sincerely,

Alison Nichols,
Essex, CT 

Navigation Class – Keep Your Investment Off the Rocks!

Take your boating knowledge to a higher level with this hands-on practical course in navigation and piloting. Classes are small to ensure close personal attention. Course content includes longitude and latitude, taking a position fix, dead reckoning, Loran, GPS and radar basics, charting a course, using plotting tools, time, speed and distance calculations, fuel calculations, using a compass, marine time conversion and cruise planning. Taught by John L. Annino, State-certified instructor with many years of personal boating experience. All students will receive a decal for The Connecticut Coastal Boater Endorsement Program upon successful completion of this course.

Acton Library
Old Saybrook
60 Old Boston Post Rd.
June 29 & 30
5:00pm – 8:00pm
(6 hours total)
 
$125, includes all materials

To sign up please call
 Krista Karch
A B Sea Safe Boating, LLC
860-322-5122
Krista@abseasafeboating.com
 

Connecticut Coastal Boater Endorsement Program
 
Boating on Connecticut’s waterways and Long Island Sound may seem easier with the modern electronics of today. But what if they fail? You will need to quickly depend on the time-tested methods of the past. These methods of navigation form the basis that modern electronics rely upon to make navigation so easy today. Should your electronics fail, having a basic understanding of navigation and plotting methods could save your life and those of others.

Boaters desiring to travel in coastal waters should seek advanced courses in navigation. Boaters should be confident in their vessel and their handling skills. To further promote safety in coastal waters, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is sponsoring the Connecticut Coastal Boater Endorsement Program. This program seeks to recognize and reward those boaters who have chosen to further their boating education.

Boaters who complete a course in basic navigation will receive the Coastal Boater Endorsement decal to be placed on their Safe Boating Certificate or Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation. There is no fee for the endorsement. It is simply our way of recognizing and thanking those who have taken the extra time to learn more about boating safety in our waters. Your efforts may be rewarded further by a decrease in insurance rates. The completion of one of the following classes will allow you to proudly display your decal.

Essex Town Budget

Letter To the Editor:

There is in Essex a seemingly fanatical fringe group who has decided to try to take issue with the present town administrators, solely for the purpose of embarrassment, and they’ve chosen to attack the town budget.

Our budget is non-partisan, put together by the Essex Board of Finance, the Republican Town Treasurer, and Essex Board of Selectmen, both Democrats and Republicans, who were united in their support of the proposed budget. They held open workshops, where anyone in the town could participate and make suggestions and propose changes; in a completely non-partisan and a very time-consuming job they came up with the budget they presented to the voters for the town of Essex. There is little room for changes without hurting the town of Essex; the Regional District 4 budget has already been approved as part of this budget, a big part, and then there’s the Elementary budget, which is already lean, and further reductions will mean reduction in the staff or other serious cuts to our children. Then there’s the town staff, which is seriously not the best paid in the state. There’s no one making six-figures who’s a town employee, administrator or staff
member . . .

You have to look at what’s been accomplished under Mr. Miller and his administration, as well as the Board of Finance, and town commissions, etc. Essex infrastructure was in a virtual state of collapse when they moved in (it’s a fact), including roads, structures, and especially the town hall. The town hall itself was totally disorganized, it’s every part seemingly totally unaware of what everyone else was doing; there was little or no cooperation or communication between departments and staff, and town commissions weren’t doing a great deal themselves.

Phil, our First Selectman, began obtaining grants and financial aid, making many, many improvements in the town’s infrastructure at little or no cost to the town, whatever. Commissions became empowered to act and set agendas contributing to the betterment of the town. The town hall building has been renovated and improved, and it now has a centralized computer system; there were adjustments made in the staff as needed. When Phil and company assumed office, there were no job descriptions for town employees, no hiring and firing policies, and no clear means of handling personnel issues and grievances. Best of all, under Phil Essex has obtained a triple-A credit rating, and we’ll lose that if we’re not careful . . .

The list of achievements and improvements done for us, the citizens of Essex, by our elected officials in the past eight years is impressive and seems almost endless; a lot of this has been a thankless task at best, and there’s no indication that any of this was done with a personal agenda in mind. None. Now this reactionary group, which represents itself as fair and even-handed, wants to do what they did in Deep River over the past few years: vote down the Essex budget, and for no other reason than they themselves do indeed have a political agenda. Look at who these folks are. Every one is a reactionary with one agenda: win at all costs. They believe in and will do whatever it takes. They don’t contribute to the process, or the town, but step in at the end and try to get naive voters to so “no”. Right now they’re lining up property owners in rest homes to vote, for instance. They’re telling people that there’s room in the budget to eliminate those very things that we depend on: snow-removal?, teachers?, town crew?, what are they thinking. And again, why didn’t they, if they really cared about the town, participate in the process? We have to have a referendum, which costs the town more money than they can save in the budget, because they want to win. No other reason. They cloak themselves in respectability, but don’t believe it.

I urge the voters in Essex to approve the town budget at our upcoming referendum. It is a very carefully assembled budget, with very minimal increases, some of which are offset by grants and other means, and, if any, only a very small raise in the mill rate, which is even now the 13th from the bottom.

Vote for the budget on June 7th. If you can’t vote between noon and 8:00 p.m., then get an absentee ballot; there’s a concerted effort afoot to again defeat this budget, and we don’t need that in Essex.

Sincerely,

Jonathan James

75th Wedding Anniversary for Bill and Barbara Stebbins

Bill and Barbara Stebbins celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary

DEEP RIVER— Monday was a special day for William and Barbara Stebbins as the local couple celebrated 75 years of marriage. William Stebbins, 96, and Barbara Stebbins, 95, were married on May 23, 1936.

Longtime residents of the Ivoryton section of Essex, the Stebbins have lived in all three Valley Shore towns, residing at the Kirtland Commons elderly housing in Deep River for nearly a decade before moving together to the Chesterfields Health Care Center in Chester last year. Bill Stebbins worked for the C. P. Burdick & Son oil company of Ivoryton for many years before retirement.

The Stebbins have three sons, Donald Stebbins of Deep River, Rick Stebbins of Essex, and David Stebbins, who resides in Florida. Rick Stebbins is a former member and chairman of the Region 4 Board of Education. The couple have eight grand-children, Donna Nelson of Deep River, Terri Savino of Old Saybrook, Marcia Burdick of Deep River, Sarah Ahearn of Massachusetts, Tim Stebbins of New York, Kelly Stebbins of Massachusetts, Bethany Stebbins of Middletown, and Sonny Stebbins, who is deceased.

Family and friends celebrated with Bill and Barbara at a luncheon reception held May 21 at the Ivory restaurant in Deep River. First Selectman Richard Smith, noting the Stebbins would “always be part of Deep River,” presented the couple with an official citation from the Connecticut General Assembly.

Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith presents Bill and Barbara Stebbins with an official citation to celebrate their wedding anniversary

A New Face for a New Future

I recently read an astonishing news story about a surgical first in the U.S. It was datelined Boston.     

Dallas Wiens, 25, a construction worker in Texas had been given a new face at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  Not a simple face lift, which is common now. He got a total face transplant.

The surgeons had removed the face of another person—dead, of course—and sewed it onto his face.  No word what the donor had died of or who he was.  The operation was done for the best of reasons.  To give him a new life.  A better future.

Now about this man in Texas, Dallas Wiens.  He was severely burned in a power line accident in 2008.  He lost his eyesight and his face was turned into a horrendous nightmare.  He looked so awful that it’s easy to think he might have thought of ending it all.

A plastic surgeon in Boston came to his rescue.  In fact, it took a whole team.  The operation lasted 15 hours and was enormously complex.  They gave him a new nose, new lips, new eyebrows, new cheeks, new skin. They had to make everything fit right.  And they had to connect all the muscles and nerves that make facial features move and that convey sensation.

The surgeon, Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, had had to wait until a face came along that would be a good match.  Finally he located one.  The tension of it all can last long after the operation.  The body can reject the transplanted pieces.

Nothing on our body identifies us as clearly as does our face, of course.  Many of us feel it important to change it, in little ways and big ones.  Often  for good reasons.  We get a new hairdo.  We dye our hair.  Get a wig or a toupe.  Grow a beard.  Change the color of our eyes through contacts.  Get tattoos.  Re-shape our eyebrows or shave them and paint on new ones.

Tan our cheeks under the sun or under a machine.  Or we lighten our skin a shade or two to pass more easily in our race-sensitive society.  We Botox our wrinkles away or have our nose straightened or our chin pushed in or pushed out..

Sometimes for nefarious reasons.  It may get done because somebody wants a new identity to escape the clutches of the law.  Some people have their finger tips changed, for instance.  Different tips mean different fingerprints.

It’s surprising how much surgery gets done to change how we look.  We make our breasts bigger or smaller.  Have body fat sucked off.  Convert our sexual parts to male or female.

We are familiar with many transplants.  I remember the first heart transplant—in South Africa.  Sorry, I don’t remember the name of the surgeon, or the patient, a man.  Surprised that I don’t remember.  That was front-page all over the world, of course, and that was only right.

Many other transplant surgeries were developed.  Some are routine now– lung transplants, kidney  transplants, other organ transplants, hair transplants, even hand transplants.  As we know, these parts are taken from one person and placed in another or moved from one of the body to another.  Skin and fat, for instance.

Sadly nothing could be done to restore Mr. Wiens’ eyesight.

It was just a year or two ago that I read of the world’s first face transplant.  What drama!  A new face was put on a woman in France whose face had been horribly damaged.  Of course that was headlined all over the world.  Apparently she has recovered and is enjoying her new face.  Let’s hope so.

These two face transplants were done to make these two people look better.  Be more comfortable in the presence of their loved ones and families and even strangers.  Make it possible to earn a living in plain view again—not having to find a job that keeps them out of sight.

Reading this story about Mr. Wiens, I immediately flashed back to a man who could use such an operation.  A woman, too.  Honest — if I had a face like those two poor souls, l’d high-tail it to Dr. Pomanac, too.

They had truly hideous faces.  The worst faces I have ever seen.  My sister Lucie felt the same way.  She was with me.

It was an evening six years ago in Shanghai.  We were there for the wedding of a Chinese friend, Wu.  The two of us were on a Metro train heading downtown.  The rush hour was over.  There were just a few passengers on board.  Lucie and I were sitting on a bench facing the center aisle, which ran through the car.

I heard the door on the left end of the car open and I looked up.  A woman was entering from the car behind ours.  I was shocked.  She had no nose.  Just a gaping hole where it was supposed to be.  No lips. Awful.  No eyebrows.  Yes, I was shocked.  So was Lucie.  It was terrible.  Impossible to describe how bad.

As she approached, she had a cup and held it out to this passenger and that one.  She was begging.

Right behind her came a man.  Just as hideous.  No nose.  No lips.  No eyebrows.  Hideous.  He was doing the same thing, begging.

They made their way so quickly that I had no time to react.  No opportunity to dig into my pocket for money if I wanted to.  Lucie reacted the same way.  We followed them with our eyes as they moved past us.  They had good-looking bodies.  Athletic and fit.  In their 30’s, it seemed.  Appeared to have no problem.  But very few people gave.  The two disappeared into the next car.  Must have been ready to cry with disappointment.

Right away Lucie and I turned to one another.  “What was that all about?!” I said.  She shook her head. “No idea. But how awful!”

My words shot out. “I never, never saw anybody like that before.”  The awe was all over her face.  “Me, either.  Two monsters.”

The next morning we kept our appointment with Wu.  He had come from his office to have lunch with us.  He is an engineer–the international marketing director of an  electronic products company.  He and I met seven years ago in Africa.  We’ve been friends ever since.

The minute I could, I brought up the two monsters.  Yes, monsters.  It’s the word that said it best.  I told him the story.  Lucie kept supplying awful details.

I said, “What was all that about, Wu?”

He had grown up in Shanghai.  If anybody knew, he would.  I was eager to hear it all.  Lucie was all ears.

He shook his head.  “I have heard of such people.  But I have never seen any.  There are not many.”

“Well, what do you think?”

“I have heard stories.”

“Please tell us!”

“There are parents who do this to their children.  When they are young.  They do it with acids.  Maybe with a knife.”

“How awful.  But why?”

“The parents need money.  They want their children to go out on the street and beg.  To become professional beggars.  People will  be horrified and will give.  Will be merciful.   But John,  you said not many gave.  Maybe it does not work.”

We were disappointed, of course.  What a story.  The parents.  The life of these children.  Their terrible life now approaching horrified people and begging.

I had it on mind all through lunch.  I’m sure that when he left, Wu passed on our story to everybody he ran across.  Such an awful story.  So incredible.

As I read Mr. Wiens’ story, I imagined what the last two years must have been for him, so disfigured.  And I imagined what these two poor folks working the Metro riders in Shanghai would go to to get a decent new face from a surgeon like Dr. Pomanac .

Can you imagine how good Dr.Pomahac and his team must feel to have accomplished a miracle like that?

Oh, one more thing. Dr.Pomahac said that Mr. Wiens would not look like he used to, and not like the unidentified donor.  He would look somewhere in between.

That’s appropriate.  His new face is giving him a new life.  A new future.  Wonderful.  Why shouldn’t he enter it happily and excitedly with a nice new—and different–face?

Maybe a clever surgeon will find a way to give him new eyesight.  Maybe by transplanting new eyes into him.  Don’t rule it out, as crazy as it sounds.

I hope so.

Do you know where your Chester Rotary Road Race tee shirts are?

Check the bottom dresser drawer, the rag pile under the sink or the shirt you are wearing right now!

The Chester Rotary is trying to locate past Road Race tee shirts to display at the upcoming race on Monday, July 4th, 2011.  If you have any shirts from the years 1979 to 1985 let us know by contacting Ron Woodward, this year’s Chairman, at 860.322.4012. It does not matter the condition of the shirt, as long as we can vaguely see the front logo.  A few holes or rips just add character.

There are a few changes to this year’s Road Race, with the major one being the new start time, 9:00 am.
This is an hour earlier than in past years, so registration starts at 7:00 am at St Joseph’s Parish Hall.  The Rotary will be selling beer and the Side Doors will provide music until 12:30 or so.  As always, the Hose Company will be selling hot dogs, hamburgers, and soda. So come on down and check it out.

This event is one of our major fundraiser’s, with the proceeds going to support many local charities and some International projects.  For more information go to www.chesterrotary.org

Planning Subcommittee To Assess Essex Residents’ Views on Architectural Heritage

On June 8 & 9, the  Architectural Design Subcommittee of the Essex Planning Commission will hold focus groups for residents from the three villages to assess the Architectural Heritage of the Town of Essex.

In June 2009, the Essex Planning Commission created a subcommittee to study the need for architectural regulations for new construction and significant renovations in order to preserve Essex’s architectural character.  The Architectural Design Review Subcommittee is composed of representatives from the Planning Commission, the Zoning Commission, the Economic Development Commission, the Essex Historical Society, and other interested volunteers and is charged with the following mission:

  1. Determine the architectural heritage of the Town of Essex, including Essex village, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton;
  2. Determine if there has been a significant loss and/or potential for loss of this architectural heritage;
  3. Review what methods and resources have been successfully implemented in other similar communities to protect their architectural heritage; and
  4. Explore ideas and make recommendations and suggestions to the Planning Commission as to what methods and/or resources would be most appropriate and viable to protect the Town’s architectural heritage for existing and new construction in all zones in consultation with the general populace if it is found that there is significant loss and/or potential for loss.

The first three components of their mission statement has been completed. Through state grants, two studies (both available at Town Hall) were conducted, one by an architectural historian to survey architecturally significant areas in the three villages.  The other consulting firm catalogued options for preserving distinctive characteristics in our town.  As our next step, there will be three resident focus groups, one for each village, that will allow the committee to do two things:  share what information we have gathered and get input from members of the focus groups to bring to the public.

Residents have been randomly selected from official Town lists, and those who choose to participate will be part of a small focus group.  The group will be shown a brief power point presentation about the architectural heritage of the three villages and asked their opinion about possible planning options utilized by similar towns.  These meetings are scheduled for June 8 and 9. Time and place are available on the Essex town website:  www.essexct.gov. Members of the public may attend but will not be part of group comment.  In the fall, there will be a public meeting to show the presentation and to share the focus groups responses.

For any questions, please contact Neil Nichols, Chair, Architectural Design Subcommittee, 860-767-0249 or neilnichols@att.net.

Team Avery at The Kate to Raise Funds for CDKL5 Research

 Join Team Avery for a night at The Kate in hopes of finding a cure for CDKL5.    CDKL5 is a rare disease that two year old Old Saybrook resident, Avery Leopoldino is diagnosed with.  Avery has suffered from daily seizures since she was six weeks old, and is profoundly impaired in all areas of her development.  All proceeds from this fundraiser will go to Team Avery and their efforts to research, combat and cure CDKL5.

This evening’s program includes an open, general admission dance floor, with live music from UHF, Late for Dinner and Brent Knight.  Terrific food and beverages provided by Bill’s Seafood.  Also the Old Saybrook Community Collaborative has headed up an amazing roster of donations and sponsors for the evening’s door prizes, raffle and teacup auction!

Mark your calendar for June 11 and join Team Avery!!

Tickets are available at The Kate at (877) 503-1286 or (860) 510-0473 or on their website at www.katharinehepburntheater.org

If you can’t attend but would like to make a donation checks should be made out to: MCCF Avery’s Fund and mailed to:
 
Middlesex County Community Foundation
211 South Main Street
Middletown, CT 06457

Strawberry Social and Berry Basket Fundraiser

Deep River Historical Society Society’s will be holding their Annual Strawberry Social, Sunday, June 12 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Carriage House of the Historical Society, 245 Main Street, Deep River, CT.

Admission donation will be $5.00 per person, children 10 and under half-size portion $2.50.  Donation includes strawberry shortcake, real whipped cream and hot or cold beverage. 

Please help the society preserve its houses and grounds by supporting the Berry Basket Raffle.  Some of the items are from Acer Gardens, De Vinci’s Pizza, Deep River Hardware, Shore Discount Liquors, a hand-crocheted afghan and scarves and many other donations from the Deep River merchants.

The Ivoryton Playhouse Celebrates 100 years!

Senator Richard Blumenthal presenting certificate to Executive Director Jacqueline Hubbard – (Photograph courtesy of Deborah Rutty)

Ivoryton–  On Saturday, May 21, the Ivoryton Playhouse celebrated its 100th birthday. Though it had rained for 5 days straight, the skies cleared, the sun came out and the evening was glorious. The red carpet event was sold-out – a tribute to the theatre and its place in our community. Following a champagne toast outside the theatre by President Suzy Burke, audiences were treated to “A Century on Stage” – a performance that showcased the highlights of the theatre’s long and remarkable life. Performers from New York, Massachusetts and across CT donated their time to be part of the event. Veteran actors Peter Walker and Scotty Bloch sang “I Remember it Well” from Gigi; Joan Shepard of River Rep sang a beautiful ballad she had written for the Playhouse and actors, professional and local, performed scenes from shows that had been produced at the theatre in its heyday.
 
Senator Richard Blumenthal and State Senator Eileen Daily each presented the Playhouse with certificates recognizing its contribution to the cultural life of CT and a proclamation was sent by Governor Dannel Malloy declaring May 21, 2011 “Ivoryton Playhouse Day”. The evening ended with dancing and delicious desserts under the stars – truly a night to remember!

Here’s to the next 100!

Deep River Referendum Approves $13.89 Million Town Budget

DEEP RIVER- Voters approved the $13,896,944 town budget plan for 2011-2012 on a 244-120 vote in a referendum Tuesday.  The board of finance, acting after the result was announced, set the property tax rate for 2011-2012 at 24.28 mills, an increase of 2.55 mills from the current tax rate of 21.73 mills. The new rate represents $24.28 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

A total of 361 of the town’s 3,110 registered voters cast ballots Tuesday, along with three property owners who were not registered voters. The turnout, while extremely low, was actually higher than the turnout in Deep River for the Region 4 education budget referendum on May 3, when only 207 town voters cast ballots.

The spending plan includes the town government budget, an appropriation for Deep River Elementary School, and the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget. First Selectman Richard Smith said 1.8 mills of the 2.55 mill increase is attributed to the nearly eight percent drop in the grand list of taxable property as a result of the town wide property revaluation that was completed last year. The remaining .75 mills is attributed to increased spending for education.

Schooner Mary E Returns to Steamboat Dock for Daily Cruises

 

Schooner Mary E sails the Connecticut River daily from Steamboat Dock at the Connecticut River Museum.

Essex, CT – Now a familiar sight along the Connecticut River, the historic schooner Mary E has returned to her home port at the Connecticut River Museum and hoisted sail for public cruises and private charters for the 2011 season.  The 75-foot gaff rigged schooner was built in 1906 in Bath, Maine and believed to be one of the last remaining of her kind.   Now through October 30, the general public can take a 1.5 hour afternoon sail at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. or a 2 hour sunset sail at 6 p.m. and enjoy the natural beauty and cultural heritage of New England’s Great River.  Afternoon cruises which include admission to the museum’s exhibits and galleries are $26 per adult and $16 for children age 12 and under.  Sunset sails are $30 per person, all ages.  Public cruises are not offered on Wednesdays.  Group tours and private charters are also available.    For more information on schedules, fees, and reservations, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.   The Connecticut River Museum, located at 67 Main Street, on the scenic Essex waterfront.

Jerome Robbins at Dance @ the Library

Master American choreographer Jerome Robbins

The Essex Library’s Dance @ the Library film series presents Jerome Robbins’  Something to Dance About,  Friday, June 10 at 3 p.m. 

This documentary features rare archival performance footage, personal journals, and never-before-seen rehearsal recordings, as well as interviews with Robbins himself and over 40 colleagues, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jacques d’Amboise, the late Arthur Laurents, Chita Rivera, and many more, in a fascinating portrait of this uniquely American dance master, whose work spanned Broadway hits like West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof, to some of the greatest ballet choreography this country has produced.

The program is free and open to all; call the Essex Library, at 860-767-1560, for information or to register.

Budget Votes Pending in Deep River and Essex

DEEP RIVER/ESSEX— Referendum votes are pending over the next week in Deep River and Essex on the town budget plans for 2011-2012.

Deep River votes Tuesday on a proposed $13,896,944 town budget that includes funding for town government, Deep River Elementary School, and the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the regular election polling place, the Deep River Public Library Community Room.

Essex votes June 7 on a revised $21,441,753 spending plan that was approved by the board of finance last week. The board approved a total budget reduction of $155,139 after a higher spending total was rejected on a 114-81 paper ballot vote at the annual budget meeting on May 9.

Essex voters will have a final opportunity to discuss the budget at a town meeting scheduled for May 31 at 8 p.m. in the auditorium at the town hall. Polls will be open at the town hall on June 7 from 12 noon to 8 p.m. for the budget vote.

Family Fun Walk, Picnic and Concert at Cross Lots

The Essex Land Trust will hold its annual Cross Lots picnic and concert on Sunday June 5, 2011 starting at 4 p.m. From 4-5 p.m. join naturalist Phil Miller and Jen Crown from Park and Rec as they lead special walks through the property.

Phil will focus on environmental points of interest and Jen Crown from Park and Rec will concentrate on fun (but educational) games and scavenger hunts for kids of all ages. At 5pm, find a spot on the hill to listen to the Essex Corinthian Jazz Band. Bring your picnic, blankets and chairs. After the band finishes playing, the Land Trust will unveil an updated plaque of Conservators for Life.

The Essex Land Trust has partnered with Essex Park and Recreation Department as part of the Essex Great Outdoor Pursuit, with the mission of bringing the families of Essex together through positive and healthy outdoor endeavors while increasing the presence and awareness of our local parks, open space and preserves to the community.  The event is also part of the 19th Annual Connecticut Trails Day Celebration promoted by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association.

Cross Lots is situated across from the Essex Library on West Avenue; parking is at the Essex Town Hall, 29 West Avenue. The event is free and open to the public. Bad weather cancels.

For more information please contact Peggy Tuttle at 860-767-7916 or e-mail peggytuttle@gmail.com.

Hurry and Vote For Your Favorite Essex Historic Building – Voting Ends May 31!

It’s up to you to decide which building should receive the Essex Historical Society’s (EHS) Preservation Award. 

All residents of Centerbrook, Essex and Ivoryton are encouraged to vote for the restored and/or preserved building they feel is the most deserving of this honor (you may even vote for your own restored home/building). 

To receive this award:

  • The building must have been built in 1935 or earlier. 
  • The historic character of the original structure must have been preserved with the restoration done in keeping with the original building and period. 
  • The building may be commercial or residential.

Cast your vote online at essexhistoryaward@yahoo.com, at the Essex or Ivoryton libraries, or submit your vote by mail to: EHS Preservation Award, P.O Box 123, Essex, CT 06426.  All votes must be received by May 31st.  All votes must include the building and its address along with your name and phone number.

The EHS Preservation Award Winner will be honored at the EHS Annual Meeting on June 27, 2011.  The public iswelcome.  All are invited to bring a picnic dinner and enjoy the EHS annual strawberry shortcake social on the grounds of the Pratt House property from 5:30pm-7:30pm.

Friends of Chester Public Library Summer Used Book Sale

The Friends of Chester Public Library are seeking donations of gently used print and recorded books, DVDs, and CDs for their upcoming book sale.  Please drop off your donations at the library, during open hours, between now and Wednesday, June 1.  Textbooks published after 2005 may be donated for The American Friends of Kenya, but please, no encyclopedias, or musty, fusty items suffering from lengthy incarceration in a damp basement.   
       
And speaking of keeping it fresh, there’s a new twist to the Friends Summer Book Sale  this year.  Members of the Friends are invited to attend a members-only sale and reception on Thursday, June 2 from 6-8 p.m.    ‘First dibs’ on the sale books will be accompanied by refreshments, door prizes and the chance to rub elbows with other library supporters.  Membership forms were included in the recent issue of The Bookmark, which we hope you noticed in your mailbox recently, and forms are available at the library.  But wait, you can join that evening, as well.   Come  show your support for your library…. it’ll be fun!
 
On Friday, June 3 at 10 a.m., the doors will open for the traditional  summer sale of great beach blanket reading.  Anyone interested in assisting with the sale, either with sorting or selling is asked to contact Diane Lindsay at 860-526-2443.  Thank you for your support.

Collomore Music Series Presents Duo Prism Sunday May 22

Dup Prism (photo by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco)

Join us this afternoon Sunday, May 22, at 5:00 p.m. in the Chester Meeting House and be enthralled with the nimble yet powerful talents of Duo Prism who will perform a full range of music in the violin/piano repertory.

 This dynamic duo notably performs contemporary works in addition to the traditional violin/piano literature. Duo Prism was awarded First Prize in the Zinetti International Chamber Music Competition and Mr. Mills, the violinist, was nominated for a Grammy for a recording of Schoenberg’s music. The two plan to dazzle the audience with a broad musical sampling that showcases the depth and breadth of sounds achieved from this complimentary and classic pairing.

A reception will follow the concert with a chance to meet the artists. Performances are held in the Chester Meeting House located at the intersection of Goose Hill and Liberty Street in Chester. Tickets are $21 (adults), $5 (students) and can be purchased by calling 860.526.5162. Visit CollomoreConcerts.org for more information.

Essex Finance Board Approves $155,139 in Budget Cuts, June 7 Referendum Set on Revised Spending Plan

ESSEX— The board of finance Thursday approved $155,139 in reductions to the town budget plan for 2011-2012 as the board of selectmen set an eight-hour referendum vote on the revised spending plan for Tuesday June 7.

The finance board held a joint meeting Thursday with the board of selectmen and local board of education to develop a revised budget in the wake of May 9 town meeting rejection of a $21.59 million spending package on a 114-81 paper ballot vote. It was the first rejection of a town budget for Essex in decades.

The revised budget totals $21,441,753, including funding for town government, Essex Elementary School, and the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget that was already approved by voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 3 referendum. The revised budget will be presented for discussion at a town meeting set for Tuesday May 31 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at the town hall. The referendum vote on the revised spending plan will be held from 12 noon to 8 p.m. on June 7.

Some of the cuts approved by the finance board are items that drew questions or objections from voters at the May 9 town meeting. The hiring of a new full-time employee for the town highway department was cancelled for a savings of $47,441 including pay and benefits. The contingency fund was reduced by $50,000, from $125,000 to $75,000. The board cut $5,000 from legal services, $3,000 in funding for a consulting planner, $10,000 from a fire department sinking fund that is set aside for future equipment purchases and $13,000 by cancelling the purchase or a printer/plotter for use by town offices.

The finance board did not accept two cuts that had been suggested by the board of selectmen after a meeting Wednesday; a $5,000 reduction for the libraries, $4,000 from Essex Library and $1,000 from the Ivoryton Library, and cancellation of a two percent pay raise for all elected officials. The original budget provided election officials, including the selectmen, town clerk, tax collector, town treasurer, and the two registrars of voters, with the same two percent pay raise that was provided to non-union town employees. The pay raise will be cancelled for the first selectman and two members of the board of selectmen, but provided to the other elected positions.

The appropriation for Essex Elementary School was reduced by $5,000, a cut in the account for electricity that was recommended by the local board of education for anticipated savings from greater energy efficiency in the renovated school building.

Despite some calls from residents at the meeting Thursday for a budget that requires no increase in the tax rate, the revised $21.41 million spending plan is still expected to require an increase of about a half-mill in the current property tax rate of 17.63 mills.

But the board of finance could approve a transfer from the town’s undesignated fund balance to defray or reduce the need for an increase in the tax rate. The undesignated fund balance currently contains about $2.3 million. Finance Board Chairman Jim Francis said the board would not consider any possible transfers from the fund balance until it convenes to set a tax rate for 2011-2012, a meeting that would occur after a budget is approved by the voters.

Essex Girl Scouts’ Disco Dance Benefits Connecticut River Museum

Pictured here in the front row from left to right are Rhyan Nedobity, Tiffany Kuba, Charlotte Boland, Erica Anderson, Erin Prendergast, Kristen Dean, and CRM Education Director Jennifer White-Dobbs. Pictured in the back row from left to right are Natalie Sandman, Maya Whitcomb, Nadia PenkoffLidbeck and Maggie Walsh. Troop member Julia Bogaert is absent from the photo.

Essex, CT – Essex Girl Scout Junior Troop 2753 really knows how to move for a good cause.  The scouts recently held a disco dance where the price of admission was a donated art supply to be given to the Connecticut River Museum.  The supplies will be a big bonus for the Museum’s school programs, youth programs and summer camps.

Kitchen Table Conversation with Russell Brenneman

Russell Brenneman, former Essex town resident, author and well-known Connecticut environmental attorney will talk about the Essex Land Trust’s history and the continuing importance of its work on Wednesday, May 25 at 7 p.m. at Essex Library.

Russell’s informal chat will also cover various subjects close to his heart; including the role of “non-governmental organizations” or NGOs, especially small, community based citizen-driven, needs based organizations of which the Essex Land Trust is a prime (and early) example and how to continue promoting traditions of generosity and personal involvement that characterized prior generations, which he has denominates as “communitarianism.”

Russell participated in the organization of the Essex Land Trust, which was one of the first of its kind in the United States. He is a founding co-chair of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and is active in many other environmental organizations. The event is free and open to the public.

Besides participating in the establishment of the Essex Land Trust, Russell Brenneman was also involved in the formation of the land trust in Old Lyme. He is one of the founders of what is now the Environmental Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, and that group had been instrumental in drafting and securing the passage of the Tidal Wetlands Act.  He has also been associated with the development of conservation easements and was co-draftsman of the Uniform Conservation Easements Act that is now in effect in more than half the states. 
 
For more information about the event please contact Peggy Tuttle at 860-767-7916 or e-mail peggytuttle@gmail.com.

The County School Madison Spring Tours

The Country School in Madison will be open to visitors on June 1, 2 and 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Spring Tours.

See what’s beyond the books. The Country School welcomes you to experience hands-on learning where you will be able to see foryourself the kind of education our students receive.

Learn about our children’s garden, award-winning science program, full-day kindergarten, scholarship opportunities, and available transportation.

Come see where children grow—outside and in!

The Country School
341 Opening Hill Road
Madison, CT 06443
203.421.3113
www.The CountrySchool.org
admission@thecountryschool.org

9 Town Transit Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Dozens showed up to commemorate 30 years of public transit on the shoreline May 13 at the Chester Meeting House, while many more celebrated with a discounted $0.30 fare and free anniversary hats on all of 9 Town Transit’s routes.

The guest list included many regular 9 Town Transit customers, area First Selectman, State Representative Phil Miller, Senator Blumenthal’s representative Paul Mounds, and other local residents and business leaders.

Keynote speaker Ralph Eno, First Selectman of Lyme, explained that the towns of Deep River, Essex, and Chester began operating a public transit service in 1976, well before a transit district was ever created.  The route began as a result of the gasoline crisis of that period. 

It was in 1980 that Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency (CREPRA) director Stan Griemmann began pitching the idea of a transit district to the nine estuary towns.  Between 1980 and 1981 the nine towns joined to create the Estuary Transit District, and in May 1981 the board of directors adopted its first by-laws. 

Although the district was created in 1981, it only offered service two to three days a week until 1996, when they took over the eastern portion of the Dattco S Route.  This route became the Shoreline Shuttle, and would remain the district’s only daily service until 2005.

It was not until 2005 that the district began to take on its current form.  The Riverside Shuttle service from Chester to Old Saybrook began, the district began directly operating service after 24 years of contracting out operations, and two Dial-A-Ride routes were added.  Then in 2009, Old Saybrook to Middletown service was implemented, and in 2010 Old Saybrook to New London service began. 

In 30 years, 9 Town Transit has gone from a two day a week bus service provider to a thirteen bus, six day a week operation providing 64,000 trips annually and providing connections to New Haven, Hartford, Middletown, Norwich and New London.  “9 Town Transit now contributes to economic development in our area,” said state representative Phil Miller.

9 Town Transit provides service to all parts of Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook, and all services are open to the general public.  Additional information, route maps and schedules are available online at www.9towntransit.com or by calling 9 Town Transit at 860-510-0429.

Essex Saving Bank’s Shook Named Finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year

Essex Savings Bank President & CEO Gregory R. Shook

Essex Savings Bank has announced that Gregory R. Shook, President & CEO is an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2011 New England Award finalist.  According to Ernst & Young LLP, the awards program recognizes entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. 

Award winners will be announced at a special gala event on 15 June 2011 at the Boston Renaissance Waterfront Hotel.

Shook commented, “I am honored to provide additional recognition to Essex Savings Bank for our team effort during the past decade as we celebrate our 160th anniversary year of service and trust to our community.”

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Program celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.  The program has expanded to recognize business leaders in more than 140 cities and more than 50 countries throughout the world.

Regional award winners are eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur of the Year National Award. Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur of the Year overall National Award winner, will be announced at the annual awards gala in Palm Springs, California, on Nov. 12, 2011. The awards are the culminating event of the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum®, the nation’s most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies, which will be held Nov. 9–13, 2011.

Founded and produced by Ernst & Young LLP, the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards are pleased to have the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation as a national sponsor.  In New England sponsors include Boston Magazine, J. Robert Scott, Marsh, Nixon Peabody, RR Donnelley and Regan Communications Group.

Chester Voters Approve $12.55 Million Town Budget at 12-Minute Town Meeting

 CHESTER— It took all of 12 minutes at the annual budget meeting Tuesday for voters to approve a $12.55 million town budget plan for 2011-2012 and a dozen other agenda items.

About 25 residents turned out on a rainy night for the town meeting, approving the budget without discussion on a unanimous voice vote. The $12,555,853 spending plan includes a $3,668,718 town government budget and capital expenditure plan, a $4,164,069 appropriation for Chester Elementary School and the town’s $4,723,066 share of the Region 4 education budget.

The board of finance had endorsed a $145,766 transfer from the town’s undesignated fund balance to avoid the need for any increase in the tax rate, which will remain at  22.11 mills, or $22.11 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. After the transfer, the fund balance is expected to contain about $1.3 million in June 2012.

Voters also gave unanimous approval to several other items on the town meeting agenda, including a required ten-year update of the harbor management plan, and transfers from the town’s capital expenditure reserve fund for road repairs, a storage shed at the town garage, and a new 4-wheel drive pickup truck for the town’s highway department.

Voters also approved acceptance of two separate $250,000 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants, that will be used to fund an extension of the public water line on Route 154 to encompass several parcels on Denlar Drive where testing has detected unacceptable levels of arsenic in  the groundwater. The water main extension is expected to be completed by next year at no direct cost to the town.

Battered and Bruised Following the Essex Budget Meetings

Letter To The Editor:

 I am feeling a little battered following this week’s budget meetings in Essex. The first meeting was attended by approximately one hundred and seventy-five concerned citizens. Twenty additional Democrat loyalists appeared for the vote after being frantically summoned by Democrat leaders after they realized that the majority present (consisting of Democrats, Independents and Republicans) were not going to vote in favor of the budget. Despite their last minute tactics, the budget was turned down 114 to 81.

The questions and comments before the vote were spirited, but polite. However, the participants who questioned the budget were constantly chastised and belittled by the Finance Chairman and rebuked by the Democrat Registrar. It was clear that they believe  that the participants had no rights because they had not attended the nuts and bolts sessions held previously by the committee. It has been my understanding that the committee builds the budget, makes it public and at that time the citizens have the right to ask questions, comment and vote.

After the budget was rejected by the citizens, Democrat operatives misinformed both our heroic volunteer Firemen and employees of the library. It was claimed that a “small group of activists (that would be 114 out of 175)” wanted to defund them. Of course, this was blatantly untrue. To add fuel to the fire, an employee of the library sent an incendiary email that went viral immediately. In the email she stated that the library was in peril because a small but vocal group of activists wanted to defund the library. She claimed that the complaint was the funding for the Essex library-not the amount, but the fact that the town offers us any funding at all.” She went on to say that “the Draconian cut in our funding…would effectively eviscerate the library.” The person that sent this email was not at the meeting and led astray by lies. If I were the author of this email, I would be outraged that I was used as a pawn in an ugly game.

Several people who attended the meeting are so angered by the lies and deceit that they question whether they will continue to donate to the library. As the truth comes out, they will realize that the library was duped. As light is put on the genesis of the misinformation, I am sure the angered citizens will continue to donate to our library. The campaign of lies was despicable and has backfired.

At the second meeting, the Finance Chairman graciously allowed for more questions and comments.  Within a New York minute, however, he became testy and continued to lecture and belittle those who questioned the budget. At this meeting, library employees, fueled by misinformation, came to the meeting with a prepared speech. They passed out stickers to “save the library.” They were righteously concerned.  How were they to know that they were fed a pack of lies by Democrat operatives?

The sadness about the kerfuffle is that we all understand and appreciate the hard work that goes into the construction of our budget and want what is best for the citizens of Essex. There was an audible gasp when one of the participants informed the group that there were currently more than one hundred and forty homes with liens in Essex-up from around forty in the previous year (the up to date numbers are fifty two last year and one hundred and ten this year).  And, of course, this is the crux of the issue for most of us not in favor of the budget as it stands today. Taxes are already too high and going higher as a result of the Malloy budget. We have citizens who are going under, about to go under-and so many of our citizens are on fixed income. It is pathetic that some believe that the only way to get what they want is to demonize and victimize.

Sincerely,

Alison Nichols,
Essex, CT

Essex Rotary Club Announces 53rd Annual Shad Bake and Family Day

From the Essex Rotary Club (left to right): Bake Master Joseph Shea, President John Mulligan; Diana Harbison, Director, attended the festivities at the Essex Steam Train Station Opening Day on May 7. The Rotary Club is currently planning the 53rd Annual Shad Bake which will take place on June 4 in Essex.

The Essex Rotary Club today announced that the 53rd Annual Shad Bake and Family Day will take place on June 4 at the Essex Elementary School located at 108 Main Street in Centerbrook, Connecticut.

The Shad Bake and Family Day is an authentic New England tradition and unique experience that has established a reputation as one of the most anticipated events in the Connecticut shoreline.

“Every year, people gather together for a fun and festive family event,” said Rotary Club President John Mulligan. “People are fascinated about the process and different steps of preparing for this spectacular event.”

“We ask people to arrive early for a wonderful evening of live jazz music with friends and family, and we encourage the families to bring their own picnic blankets, games, and favorite beverages to enjoy with their shad meal,” said Rotary Club Director, Diana Harbison.

“For half a century the Essex Rotary Club has cooked shad the old fashioned way: wood strips into a teepee, a bed of sand on the ground, a blazing fire, and plenty of fresh shad,” said Bake Master, Joseph Shea.

Added Shea: “We invite people to join us and celebrate the start of summer with this great Connecticut tradition. We will also be selling oysters and clams as well as water and soft drinks and encourage people to buy their tickets in advance by going online or calling the Essex Rotary Club. We have only 700 tickets available and we anticipate a sell out.”

The Annual Shad Bake is not only a family event but also one of the major fundraisers organized by the Essex Rotary Club. Essex Rotarians are dedicated to raising funds for their community. All proceeds from the event will go to the Essex Rotary Foundation which supports the Club’s various charitable endeavors including scholarships for area students, as well as a variety of local, national and international assistance projects.

The Shad Bake will start at 4:30 p.m. and doors will close at 7:00 p.m. There will be live music and entertainment from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., free inflatable games, face painting and the popular fire truck slide.

Families that wish to eat on the lawn are encouraged to bring a picnic blanket, and portable chairs. Tables and chairs will be provided for indoor dining. For the kids who do not like fish, there will also the option of BBQ Chicken, and fresh grilled hot dogs.

The cost per person is $20 and $80 for the entire family. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.essexrotary.com or by calling (860) 767-9158.

Riverview Lodge Celebrating 44 Years in the Community

Deep River Junior Ancients Fife & Drum Corps

Riverview Lodge Residential Care Home will be celebrating their 44th year serving in the community with their Annual Celebration on Sunday June 5, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

They will be having a free,  Open House party on the side lawn.  Thin Ice Band will play. Deep River Junior Ancients Fife & Drum Corps will march and perform. There will be a BBQ , Bouncy House, crafts & more.“We want folks to come and enjoy. Come see what a fine Residential Care Home looks like. You never know when a relative or a friend will be in desperate need of a nice home like this. There is so much misunderstanding!” said Riverview Lodge Administrator Jimmy DeLano.

Its official name is Riverview Lodge RCH.  Some think it’s a state facility. No! Some people think that it is a nursing home. No! Some people think that it is a substance abuse facility. No! Some people think that it’s a shelter. No! We are interested in everybody having a correct understanding. “A residential care home is a home that allows people to thrive in a caring environment” said DeLano, “we’re here to provide a setting where our residents can keep their lives on track.”

Currently, ages range from 35-80. “One resident’s been at the home for over 30 years (8 years on average), said DeLano,” The fact that they remain with us for such a long time gives us satisfaction. We know each other well. We are a family in a real way.”

Residents live in nicely furnished rooms. They eat in an attractive dining room and we serve home-cooked meals. There are activities & outings. “We have a community here which allows the residents to thrive. They enjoy Deep River; the parks, the library, the churches, the stores, everything that it offers.  They make friends, enjoy hobbies, live and work in our community.” 

For more details contact  Jimmy DeLano (860)526-4941

Freeing Ourselves from a 10,000 Year-Old Story

DEEP RIVER– The Earth Charter Community of the Lower Valley, Inc. will host a Public Talk by Author Philip Shepherd entitled “Freeing Ourselves from a 10,000 Year-Old Story” on Thursday, May 19  5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Deep River Public Library.

If we were to consider the towering crises faced by the 21st century and trace them to their roots, we would find that each of them leads back to the same cultural force: the one that tells us who we are.  Our culture’s vision of what it means to be human seeps into us from infancy – and it presents reality as bits and pieces that cannot be felt as a whole.  Our culture tacitly informs us that wholeness is something that we shouldn’t expect to feel even in the self.  As a result, we persevere in our deeply divided lives, unaware that our failure to sense and live the wholeness of life is not germane either to our own nature, nor to that of the world itself. 

This talk dramatically pulls aside the curtain, exposes some of our culture’s most deeply held and clouded assumptions about what it means to be human, and provides a vital alternative.  It presents a message of hope that is easy to follow yet profoundly probing – and ultimately, revolutionary.

Philip Shepherd is the author of New Self, New World, written over the past six years.  The book is a radical and deeply coherent look at assumptions that are so entrenched in our culture that they have come to define ‘normal’ for us.  The purpose of the book is to help people identify within themselves and heal the fracturing of the self so that they can connect with their passion and live it in a way that is grounded, balanced and open to the world’s guidance. The book has received accolades from some of the world’s foremost writers and thinkers, including Andrew Harvey, Larry Dossey, Jean Houston, Marion Woodman, Steven Mitchell and Samuel Mallin.

All are welcome at this talk. Suggested donation is $10, but no one will be turned away.  Contact Michael Harris for more information at info@earthcharterct.org.

Chester Town Meeting Vote Tuesday on Proposed $12.55 Million Town Budget Plan

CHESTER— Voters will act at a town meeting Tuesday on a proposed $12,555,853 town budget plan for 2011-2012.The annual budget meeting is set to convene at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House on Liberty St.

The budget, which generated little comment at an April 26 hearing, includes a $3,668,781 town government budget, a $4,164,069 appropriation for Chester Elementary School, and the town’s $4,723,066 share of the Region 4 education budget.

The Region 4 education budget was approved by the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 3 referendum. The board of finance has decided to transfer $145,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance to avoid the need for a tax increase to fund the spending plan. The tax rate for 2011-2012 is expected to remain the same at 22.11 mills, or $22.11 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Essex Finance Board Puts Off Decisions on Budget Reductions

ESSEX— The board of Finance has deferred decisions on reductions to the town budget plan for 2011-2012 to a May 19 meeting with members of the board of selectmen and local board of education.

The finance board held a special meeting Thursday in the wake of Monday’s 114-81 town meeting defeat of a proposed $21.59 million budget. It was the first voter rejection of a proposed town budget for Essex in decades.

Jim Francis, board of finance chairman, said about 70 residents turned out for the meeting, and were given a chance to comment on possible changes and reductions to the budget. But at Thursday’s meeting, Francis said there was also input from residents objecting to any drastic reductions in the budget plan that includes a $$6.78 million town government budget and a $7.4 million appropriation for Essex Elementary School.

Francis said the board’s regular meeting on May 19 would become a joint meeting with members of the board of selectmen and local school board. Francis said the finance board would “ask the selectmen and board of education to find what they can find,” in possible budget reductions, and present recommendations at the joint meeting.”Hopefully we come up with a budget that we all agree we can live with,” he said.

Francis had said after the result was announced at Monday’s meeting, the vote on a revised budget would likely be held by referendum. The board of selectmen must make the final decision on whether to call a referendum, and set the hours of voting. There could be a full day of voting, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., or an eight-hour 12 noon to 8 p.m. referendum like the May 3 vote in Chester, Deep River, and Essex that resulted in approval of the Region 4 education budget.

Francis said the second vote on a revised budget would likely be held in early June. “There’s no real tension to the whole thing until we get to the middle of June,” he said. Town officials need a budget approval in June in time to mail the July tax bills to property owners.

Connecticut’s Own Dr. Henry Lee Speaks at Valley Regional High School

Dr. Henry Lee Speaking at Valley Regional High School (photo by Jenny Tripp)

On April 28, the Essex Library Association hosted world-renowned forensic scientist and former Chief of State Police, Dr. Henry Lee.  He intrigued the audience with his knowledge, entertained with his sense of humor while encouraging audience participation (handing out plastic badges and flashlights at one stage!)

The presentation comprised two sections: first, his road to becoming a forensic scientist and then, his cases.

Lee said that he was the youngest police captain in his province in China.  In 1976, he came to the University of New Haven and later endowed the College of Forensic Science at the University of New Haven.  Lee’s inspiring quote to the audience was, “Make the impossible possible.” 

Lee’s own such moment was creating the crime laboratory at the University of New Haven.  He then followed up that achievement by becoming Chief of Connecticut State Police in 1998.

Lee compared and contrasted what he dubbed, “The CSI Effect,” spawned by the popular TV series, “CSI” — an abbreviation for Crime Scene Investigation — and what “CSI” is like in real life.  While most characters in TV’s “CSI” work in pairs or alone, in reality, Lee stated that it is teamwork that is most important.

He explained to the audience what the important steps are in investigating a crime scene.  The first 24 hours are the most important but sometimes, there are exceptions to rules, for example in one case when a blizzard preventing the CSI team arriving on time so Lee put a hold on the garbage past the 24-hour deadline as he believed it might hold evidence the team had not had time to review.  Lee stressed it is important to, “Observe everything,” and, “Take pictures,” of the crime scene.

Saying that he was always an extra pair of eyes on cases, Lee stressed that even the smallest piece of evidence can exonerate or confirm someone’s guilt.

Lee said that the job of the forensic scientist is to, “Speak for the (dead) victim,” noting, “Forensic science is a secret language.  The victim has all of the clues to tell us what happened.”

Lee also worked on the John F. Kennedy assassination reinvestigation.  The bullet from Kennedy’s body was wiped clean after the assassination and there was no way to tell if some of then Texas Governor Connelly’s DNA was on the bullet.

Essex Savings Bank Names Marla Bogaert Officer

Marla Bogaert named as Asst. Vice President, Branch Manager and Loan Officer of the Essex Office

Essex–Gregory R. Shook, President & CEO of Essex Savings Bank, is pleased to announce the addition of Marla Bogaert as Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager and Loan Officer of the Essex office located at 9 Main Street.  As of July 1, she will be filling the position that will soon be vacated by retiring Branch Manager, Patricia Kolbe.

Marla’s career highlights include serving as Retail Banking Manager of the former CT River Community Bank, managing the accounting responsibilities at Bogaert Construction Company, and she was also formerly the Retail Banking Manager for Maritime Bank in Essex.

Marla graduated from UCONN with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Economics and is a graduate of the New England School of Banking.  She currently serves as Treasurer on the Essex Library Association Board and is active in the Essex community.

Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851.  The Bank serves the Lower Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with offices in Essex (2), Old Saybrook, Old Lyme and Madison. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and subsidiary Essex Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC.  Investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities are not FDIC insured, may lose value, are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

Rep. Phil Miller Appointed to National Panel Addressing Nuclear Issues

State Rep. Phil Miller

Speaker of the House Christopher G. Donovan (D-Meriden) has appointed State Representative Phil Miller (D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam) to serve on the bipartisan National Council of State Legislature’s (NCSL) Nuclear Legislative Workgroup.

“I’m honored to have been chosen to represent Connecticut,” said Miller. “Our state and our country must find ways to provide cleaner, more efficient, and safer energy options for future generations. There are 102 nuclear power plants in the United States and there are long-term waste storage practices and policies to be resolved.”

The NCSL’s Nuclear Legislative Workgroup is made up of state legislators from states around the country that are dealing with the clean-up of the nation’s nuclear sites, host nuclear facilities, or are affected by the transportation of nuclear materials.

The workgroup which meets twice a year is supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. At these meetings, legislators discuss safe practices and policy options, and receive updates on federal policy.

“Although Phil Miller may be new to the legislature, he has a proven track record as a municipal official that make him the ideal candidate to represent Connecticut,” said Donovan. “I am confident that Phil’s expertise will be a welcome addition to the group.”

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves legislators and staff of the nation’s 50 states. NCSL provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues. For more information, visit www.ncsl.org.

State Representative Phil Miller is serving his first term representing the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. He sits on the legislature’s Environment, Human Services, and Public Health Committees.

Deep River Selectmen Set May 24 Referendum on Proposed $13.89 Million Town Budget

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen has scheduled a May 24 referendum on the proposed $13,896,944 town budget plan for 2011-2012. At a meeting Tuesday, the board also decided to hold a full day of balloting, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Deep River Public Library community room.

The total spending plan includes a $3,617,748 town government budget, a $5,192,900 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School, $699,000 in town and school related debt service costs, and the town’s $4,387,300 share of the Region 4 education budget. The Region 4 total is locked in because the district budget was approved by the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 3 referendum. The town government budget is down from current spending by $372,756, while the elementary school budget increases spending by $272,697.

The spending package is expected to require a tax increase of up to 2.55 mills, with most of the projected increase the direct result of an 8 percent drop in the October 2010 grand list of taxable property because last year’s state-mandated town wide revaluation was done in a weak real estate market. The current tax rate is 21.73 mills, or $21.73 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Despite the pending tax increase, the May 3 public hearing on the town government and elementary school budgets drew a sparse turnout. First Selectman Richard Smith said about 30 residents turned out for the hearing, discussing the spending package for about an hour. While there were some questions about staffing in the elementary school budget, Smith said there were no calls for specific changes or reductions in the budget.

In setting the budget referendum date and voting hours, the board discussed the extremely low turnout in the Region 4 referendum, where only 207 of the town’s 3,110 registered voters cast ballots. Smith said some residents had raised questions to him over the past week about sponsoring a referendum with such a low voter turnout.

But after discussion, the selectmen agreed to continue the annual referendum voting on the town budget that began amid a heated local budget battle in 2001. “It’s not a money thing,” said Selectman Art Thompson.

The budget will be up for discussion a final time at the annual budget meeting set for Monday May 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the gymnasium at Deep River Elementary School. The town meeting will adjourn to the referendum vote on Tuesday May 24.

“The River From The Air” Offers Rarely Seen, Breathtaking Views

An aerial view of Lord’s Cove in Lyme, CT, featuring unique circular creek patterns, photographed by Tom Walsh for the “River From The Air” exhibit at the Connecticut River Museum.

Essex, CT – For the past two years, Captain Tom Walsh of Shoreline Aerial Photography has been traveling the 410-mile Connecticut River, capturing its natural beauty and unusual landmarks for the Connecticut River Museum’s new photography exhibit “The River From the Air: A Bird’s Eye View”. 

Opening on Thursday, May 26, the exhibit features over 150 images of rarely-seen aerial views of the Connecticut River Valley.  From the mouth of the River at Long Island Sound to the Canadian border in Vermont, the seasonal beauty and sheer expanse of River Valley waterways, towns, and historical landmarks offer a whole new perspective on one of our most precious natural resources.   Sunken ships, crop formations, and oxbows are just some of the unique views that can only be seen from the air and are featured in the exhibit’s Wonders of the River section. 

The exhibit runs through October 2011 and is included in general admission to the Museum, Adults $8; Seniors $7; Children age 6 – 12 $5. 

Captain Tom Walsh with his 1946 Piper Cub, one of two planes he used to photograph the Connecticut River for the “River From The Air” exhibit

   The Connecticut River Museum, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating the cultural and natural history of New England’s Great River, is located at 67 Main Street on the historic Essex waterfront.  For more information on this and other happenings, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

Children’s Summer Theatre Accepting Registrations

The Madhatters Theatre Company is currently accepting registrations for their August 2011 summer camp production of ‘Let Down Your Hair Rapunzel’.  Open to ages 9 years and over. 

Rehearsals will be at Lyme Youth Service Bureau and the production will be held at Andrews Memorial Town Hall in Clinton. 

For information and to register please check their website www.ctkidsonstage.com/madhatterstheatrecompany or call (860) 395-1861

Essex Town Budget Defeated on 114-81 Vote

ESSEX— Voters at the annual budget meeting Monday rejected a proposed $21.59 million town budget plan on a 114-81 paper ballot vote, marking the first defeat of a town government budget for Essex in decades.

Residents packed the auditorium at town hall to discuss and vote on a 2011-2012 spending plan that included a $6,782,158 town government budget and a $7,407,790 appropriation for Essex Elementary School. A third component of the spending package, the town’s $7,406,944 share of the Region 4 education budget, had already been approved in a May 3 referendum.

The total $21,596,892 spending plan was expected to require a small increase in the current tax rate of 17.63 mills, though Selectman Norman Needleman told the crowd the board of finance could endorse a transfer from the town’s undesignated fund balance to further limit the size of any possible tax increase. The fund balance currently contains about $2.2 million.

The town government budget, which represents a 4.37 increase over current spending, generated the most discussion. Strickland Hyde objected to a proposed new full-time position with the town highway department, which currently has five full-time employees. Hyde said 2011 was not the year to establish a new position at a cost of $35,000 plus the expense for medical benefits.

Paul Forrest questioned a $120,000 contingency fund that was included with the appropriation for the board of finance. Board Chairman Jim Francis said the amount was a total contingency fund for all town departments, boards and commissions, with special appropriations from the fund requiring approval from the finance board and voters at a town meeting. Forrest contended contingency funds should be available from past fiscal years if appropriations from the fund totaled between $30,000 to $40,000 in most years.

After about an hour of discussion, voters formed to lines two show proof of identification to the two registrars of voters and receive a paper ballot. After the result was announced, Francis said the finance board would meet later this week to consider targets for reductions in both the town government and elementary school budgets. Francis said a revised budget would be presented for approval in a referendum expected later this month.

High on Life 2011 Deep River Window Painting

Sixth grade students paint windows at businesses along Main Street in Deep River to Celebrate High on LIfe 2011

To celebrate High on Life 2011, Diana Carfi, Art Teacher at Deep River Elementary School, and sixth grade students painted windows at businesses along Main Street in Deep River. Students and merchants alike look forward to this part of High on Life week.

Tri-Town Youth Services spearheads the three community annual substance abuse prevention week, High on Life. For further information, contact Tri-Town at 860-526-3600.

Annual Wine Tasting & Silent Auction to Benefit Dominican Republic Medical Mission Trip Set for May 20

The 3rd Annual Spring Wine Tasting & Silent Auction to benefit this year’s Dominican Republic Medical Mission Trip will be held  Friday, May 20, from 6 – 8 p.m.  at the Carriage House of the Deep River Historical Society.     Tickets are $25/person  or $40/couple and are available at the door.  Advance tickets can be purchased at either the United Church of Chester or the Deep River Congregational Church.  

The event will feature a gala Wine Tasting by Bob and Amy Grillo’s Centerbrook Package Store, fabulous appetizers, live music featuring vocalist Cathie O’Donnell Smith, a silent auction and teacup auction of wonderful gifts and services.   Ample parking is available on the beautiful grounds of the historical society.

This event will raise funds -for the 2011 Dominican Republic Medical Mission Team, which will bring medical care, medicine, food, clothing, friendship and hope to the desperately poor residents of the D.R.   Many of them are Haitian expatriates working for below-subsistence wages on the sugar plantations of the DR.  

This project has been in existence for over ten years,  working in cooperation with the Good Samaritan Hospital in LaRomana, DR.   It is an ongoing ministry of the Deep River Congregational Church and the United Church of Chester but includes 25 participants from throughout the area.

Help for Local Job Seekers: Employment Resource and Career Fair

The Employment and Income Committee of Middlesex County’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness is presenting an Employment Resource and Career Fair.  Lack of employment has presented an increasing risk of homelessness.  The Employment Fair is to help those who are out of work, need help in finding a job and are not sure where to turn for help. 

If you live in the Lower River Valley or Shoreline area of Middlesex County and would like help please join us on Wednesday, May 11, from 9am-1pm in the Old Saybrook Shopping Center, Elm Street entrance. 

Representatives from the Department of Labor, United Labor Agency, Kuhn Employment Opportunities, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, Middletown Adult Education, Social Security, and local Social Service agencies as well some area employers will be there. There is no charge and refreshments will be provided.

Participants and/or employers should contact Lew Slotnick, MS, LADC, Director of the United Labor Agency at 860-347-8060 for additional information or to participate.

Residents of Old Saybrook should contact, Susan Consoli, MA, LPC, Social Services Coordinator, at 860-395-3188 or by email at sconsoli@town.old-saybrook.ct.us  for more information and employment help.  Old Saybrook Social Services has run two Employment Workshops in addition to participation in this Employment Fair and is committed to continuing to help those in our community that are in need of employment help.

Shoreline Volunteer Open House

The Estuary Council of Seniors is seeking non-profit organizations to participate in its fourth annual Shoreline Volunteer Open House. The event is being held Thursday June 2, from 4 p.m. till 6 pm at the Estuary Senior Center, 220 Main St. Old Saybrook.

There is no registration fee and all non-profit organizations seeking volunteers are welcomed to attend. Registration is due no later than Thursday, May 26. Please call early to register, as space is limited!
Call Judy or Sharon at 860-388-1611.

“Wheels” for Meals on Wheels A Great Success! – Adams Supermarket Wins Award

Award Winners in ECS "Buy a Wheel" fundraiser. From L to R Top: Marge Baroni, Chuck Brewster, Laura Corning. From L to R Bottom: Michelle Armstead, Jen Thein, Jill Merola

The Estuary Council of Seniors partnered with 45 local merchants to organize a “Buy A Wheel” fundraising event. Local businesses promoted and sold colorful paper wheels to their customers for a one dollar donation. This year the Estuary Council raised over $7,600, more than doubling what was raised last year.

 Last year, with the help of over 150 volunteers, The Estuary Council delivered over 65,500 meals to 387 seniors in the community. The program served an additional 31,322 congregate meals to more than 1,300 seniors in the Old Saybrook dining room and in its 4 café sites.

A wine and cheese HUBCAP Award Reception was held to thank all who helped us raise money and to honor awardees.  HUBCAP Awardees -  Helping Us Bring Community Awareness Programs are Michelle Armstead from Adams Food Stores, Laura Corning from The Monkey Farm, Jill Merola from Shore Discount Liquor and Chuck Brewster from The Blue Crab Steakhouse.

The award for the Most Creative Display was given to Adams Food Stores.

Gift Certificates awarded to the individuals who sold the most wheels are: Michelle Armstead from Adams Food Stores, Jen Thein from Colonial Market, Chuck Brewster from The Blue Crab Steakhouse and Marge Baroni from ECSI

Thank you to The Cuckoo’s Nest, Sofia’s Restaurant, The Wheat Market and
The Paperback Café for providing gift certificates for the winners and to The Wine Cask for donating wine!

Garden Clubs Annual May Market Once More in Bloom

The Essex Garden Club’s annual May Market will be in full swing on Saturday, May 7 from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon. As always, the May Market will be held at the Essex Town Park directly on Main Street.

The market features a full range of plants and flowers. There are annuals and perennials, herbs and gourmet seasonings, as well as a café for the hungry and  garden implements.

The May Market was open the day before for Garden Club members to get first, members got some wine as well. However, there are plenty of plant and flowers available for the general public to pick and choose.

Garden Club member Phyllis Greenberg makes a sale

A profusion of annuals

Herbs too!

Take home a wheelbarrow full

Essex Selectmen Seek to Resolve Novelty Lane Issues to Complete Public Access Improvements

ESSEX— The board of selectmen will move to resolve issues involving the public access to the Connecticut River from Novelty Lane in an effort to utilize state funding that was provided to improve the access walkway.

The board Wednesday heard an appeal from Jeff Going, chairman of the harbor management commission, to resolve two outstanding issues related to the small street that extends south near the lower end of Main Street in downtown Essex village. The paved portion of the street ends at a public access walkway that extends to the bulkhead on Middle Cove of the Connecticut River. The town was awarded a $198,000 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant last year, with a portion of the funds intended to upgrade the public access walkway at Novelty Lane.

Most of the grant funds were directed toward construction of a new boat launch on the river at the end of Main Street. But with the boat launch project completed, about $35,000 remains to pay for the improvements to the Novelty Lane walkway. The town must use the remaining grant funds this year, or return the money to the state.

Going said the unresolved issues involve a determination of clear title to the paved portion of the road that serves several homes and businesses, and a stone retaining wall that was constructed several years ago by an adjoining property owner without permits that extends over about a third of the public access right-of-way. The property owner at 15 Novelty Lane is Terrance Lomme, a local lawyer who now serves as the elected judge of probate for the nine-town region.

Going, by letter and in person at the meeting, advised the selectmen that the commission has already directed a small portion of the grant funds to retain a landscape architect to begin design of the improvements to the public access walkway. He also told the board the retaining wall, and a drainage pipe that was installed with it, “has caused harm to the remaining public access area around it” by eroding soil from the narrow walkway. Going said the public access has been marked by signage and promoted in brochures since 1990.

Going said the “illegal wall” must be removed, whether the town is able to utilize the state grant funds or not. In his letter, Going contended the harbor management commission has the authority to pursue removal of the wall and remediate the drainage and soil erosion problem “regardless of what the board of selectmen does or does not do,” regarding the issues related to Novelty Lane.

Town funds would have to be used for any title research related to Novelty Lane. The grant funds must be directed only for design and construction of the public access improvements.

What Do Patrons Like About Essex Library?

A father takes his two children to the Essex Library

ESSEX – The Essex Library joined with 89 other libraries in Connecticut in April to ask people why the library was important to them and to count how the library is used in just one day.

“It’s my connection to information and my community. I love the staff!” Maureen Heher said.

Many people said they considered the library as something of a community center, where they can not only find books to read and listen to, a collection of newspapers and magazines to browse and movies to watch but meet other people. “In a small town, the library is the heart,” said one person.

“It’s our second home!” Diane Gawronski said. “We borrow books, DVDs, use the computer, browse the books! And enjoy programs and art work and sometimes do research.”

In Essex, people they used the library in these ways:

  • Check out an item — 56
  • Attend a program — 40
  • Quiet place to study – 17
  • Use a computer — 22
  • Attend a meeting – 23
  • Job help –5
  • Research — 24
  • Get a library card –18
  • Other – 12

These numbers may surprise people who think of the library as a place just to check out a book. Statewide in just one day:

  • 55,862 people walked through the doors of 90 Connecticut libraries
  • 56,573 books, movies and more were borrowed
  • 717 new borrowers were registered
  • 6,063 reference questions were answered
  • 9,422 people used computers
  • 478 programs/classes were offered
  • 8,520 people attended programs/classes
  • 116,965 people visited Connecticut library websites

Many people think of the library as a place for children. In Essex that is one popular reason. “We love the children’s department and Miss Jessica and Miss Shawn,” Cathy Nankee said.

“It has so many free and safe activities for the children, Jeni Gray Roberts said. “It helps foster a love of learning and ease with books at an early age.”

But many adults use the library as well. It has “nice people, fast computers, [a] great selection of newspapers,” Chris Kent said.

Someone who has a long commute found another good purpose for the library: “I take out many audiobooks. I drive a lot and listen to them. They are very expensive to buy.”

And Larry Messier said, “To me it’s a great place to do research, study, meet other people and just relax after a long day.”

From all the comments on surveys people filled out, they appear to love the library. As Todd Jones said, “Essex Library is fantastic! The employees are helpful and offer many suggestions. Having a place to read, study, research, utilize technology and borrow materials for free is an awesome feeling. Our library is a great place to learn.”

The Ivoryton Playhouse Celebrates A Century On Stage

Milton Stiefel & Katharine Hepburn

The Ivoryton Playhouse is celebrating 100 years of laughter, drama, music, romance and applause — a history that includes 2,436 stage kisses, 764 love stories, 522 villains, the stage debut of Katharine Hepburn and appearances by America’s greatest stars, and that today builds on that singular heritage.
 
At a May 21 red-carpet benefit, guests will see a show that illustrates the central role that the theater has played over a century — scenes from productions that starred Helen Hays, Tallulah Bankhead, Betty Grable, Marlon Brando, Groucho Marx, Paul Robeson, Ezio Pinza, Don Ameche, and many other stage legends, all of whom were brought to Ivoryton by Milton Stiefel, who had the vision to create what became America’s most enduring summer theater, now a year-round stage.
 
Building on that rich heritage is crucial to Jacqueline Hubbard, who has been the Playhouse’s executive and artistic director for 12 years. “Like everything else in this world, the theatre has seen a lot of changes over the past 100 years. Today, with so much of our lives spent in virtual communication, the theatre plays an even more vital role; especially here in Ivoryton where the history and the intimacy of the space make the experience of coming to this theatre so unique. We are proud to preserve this rich theatrical heritage and thrilled to be able to bring new and exciting performers and performances to this area.” 

Indeed, the remainder of the 2011 season shows the kind of theatrical diversity and relevance that Stiefel had in mind. From Neil Simon’s perennial favorite, the romantic comedy Barefoot in the Park, to the hilarity of Mel Brooks with the Broadway hit The Producers, followed by a true American classic Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash – featuring members of the Broadway cast. The fall continues the season with the pop sensation The Marvelous Wonderettes – all your favorite songs of the 50’s and 60’s and the spine chilling The Woman in Black.
 
On Sunday May 22, the town of Ivoryton will continue the celebrations with a town-wide event including free family theatre in the Playhouse , live music on the green and horse and bugg rides. The Ivoryton Tavern is turning into a 1950’s soda fountain for the day; Six Summit Gallery will offer mask making for children; storytelling at the Ivoryton Library and Aggies Restaurant will feature a tag sale and cupcake decorating. 
 
Built in 1911 as a recreation hall for the workers of the Comstock-Cheney factory, the Ivoryton Playhouse has been an important part of Connecticut’s cultural landscape for every one of its 100 years. Traveling vaudeville shows and silent movies entertained residents of the shoreline area in its early years.

With his New York and Hollywood connections, Stiefel brought the stars to Ivoryton. Established actors like Henry Hull and Norma Terris signed on to perform.  The reputation of the Playhouse grew nationally and Paramount Pictures produced a short film showing its complete operation.
 
In recent years the theater has continued to win critical praise: Connecticut Critic Circle Awards and, most recently, a Shoreline Arts Alliance Bravo award in 2010 for Best Theatre and the 2010 Shoreline Times Readers Poll Best Theatre award.  

Whether it be the Man in Black or the Woman in Black……love in the USA or UK……anthems of America or Ireland, the Ivoryton Playhouse 2011 Centennial Season has a great year of entertainment waiting for you.  Come and see what we have on stage this season and celebrate! 
 
For more information on the benefit, the 2011 season, and all things Ivoryton Playhouse, please call 860.767.9520 or visit our newly designed website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.

The Ivoryton Playhouse
100th Birthday Season!
 
 
The Irish and how they got that way
by Frank McCourt
March 16-April 3, 2011
 
 
How the other half loves
by Alan Ayckbourn
April 13 – May 1, 2021
 
 
Barefoot in the park
by Neil Simon
June 8 – June26, 2011
 
 
The producers
By Mel Brooks,July 6 – July 31, 2011
 
 
Ring of fire:  The Music of Johnny Cash
Created and Directed by Richard Maltby Jr. Conceived by William MeadeAugust 10 – September 4, 2011
 
 
The marvelous wonderettes
by Roger Bean
September 28 – October 16, 2011
 
 
The Woman in Black
Adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt
November 2 – 20, 2011