August 31, 2014

New Owner of Ivoryton Car Dealership Site Plans Private Car Club With Some Vehicle Sales

ESSEX—Rick Ayotte, the local resident who purchased the former Mazda dealership site at 7 Main Street in Ivoryton last December, is moving forward with plans for a private care club on the property that fronts on the Mill Pond of the Falls River.

Ayotte, under the name of his company, Little Village Construction LLC, purchased the 1.5-acre parcel and former dealership building from a New York-based holding company last December for $250,000. The former Crest Mazda dealership closed in June 2010, but the property was one of the first auto dealerships in the area dating back to the early 1900s. It operated for decades as the Beherns and Bushnell Buick dealership.

Ayotte said Thursday he hopes to establish the Essex Motor Club on the property by this summer. “It will be a private club for auto enthusiasts and collectors,” he said, with dues-paying members allowed to use the riverfront property and store their vehicles in the building.

Ayotte said the club would have about 50 members, with the front section of the dealership building set aide for a club meeting room and library offering information on antique and vintage cars. “It’s going to be a class operation, a real place for car collectors,” he said.

Ayotte, who owns five cars with his wife, Sara, has been working on the building and surrounding property over the past three months, removing the blacktop and planting grass over the former dealership parking area. Ayotte said he is also planning some limited sales of vehicles from the site, probably selling some collectable vehicles for club members and associates on a consignment basis. “It’s an idea that is still evolving,” he said.

Though the former dealership is located in a residential zone, Ayotte has already received all of the local approvals needed for his plans. Despite periods of vacancy, the dealership has remained a valid non-conforming commercial use that predates the adoption of local zoning regulations in the early 1960s.

Joseph Budrow, zoning enforcement officer, said both First Selectman Norman Needleman and Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Stuart Ingersoll have signed a K7 form that is required under state law to resume the dealership use. Approval is also needed from the state Department of Motor Vehicles. While the form refers to a dealer/repairer location, Ayotte said there would be no major motor vehicle repairs done on the site.

My Woes with Newspaper Editors

I was one myself at one time. In fact, three times. But mostly a writer under the editor’s thumb. It’s always been a love-hate relationship.

Now a fresh incident has made me wince. And wonder.

A small matter, you might say, but not that small for me

It’s important for you to know I’m still sitting out the winter in Newport Beach, CA, a nice small city part way between Los Angeles and San Diego. Which means in one of the most pleasant year-around climate zones in the USA. Lucky me.

Now and then I get an urge to write a letter to the editor. Why? I sometimes ask myself that.

Newspapers don’t pay anything for letters, of course. It’s not a rewarding business in that sense. Editors on big papers get flooded with letters. They count on them, of course. Readers love reading letters. But space is at a premium (they say). Your odds of making the cut are bad. Sometimes you wonder why your brilliant, insightful, precious letter didn’t get in. Sometimes it defies logic. And there’s no recourse.

So why do I write letters? I’m not sure what Sigmund Freud would say about me. I have an easy answer. I find myself taking strong positions, and I like to have my say. I’ve had this itch for years. But I’ve never been a pest about it, or a nut, mind you.

This time I wrote a letter about a fellow named Jeffrey Hubbard, who is 55. It revolved around a sad and scandalous matter.

He’s the very recent school superintendent here, but before that held the same job in Beverly Hills upstate. He ran 31 schools with more than 3,000 employees. Hubbard was a top-notch administrator, a lot of people in the know say.

I wrote the letter to the Daily Pilot. It’s our local daily. It’s not a great paper, and not awful. It’s in that big gray zone in between. In fact, it’s owned by the Los Angeles Times, the giant paper hereabouts. It’s delivered to our door as a section of the LATimes.

Here’s what it was about. The School Department in Beverly Hills had hired an impressive consultant—Karen Anne Christiansen. She charged a lot but she got things done. And she was beautiful. In fact, sexy. And her regular contact in the department was its chief executive, Hubbard.

They hit if off. He thought highly of her services and rewarded her. Got her a bonus of $23,500. And increased her mileage expense account by hundreds of dollars. It all seemed on the up and up.

But then it was discovered some of their email messages were more than friendly. They were salacious—in fact, reported as “laced with sexual innuendo and double entendres.” Then it was discovered that some of the payments to her, while apparently open and above-board, had skirted some rules and regulations. In fact, had not been approved. That became a brouhaha.

The prosecution never charged a romantic relationship between the two—only “a special relationship.” But for sure many people concluded far more.

Hubbard insisted there had been absolutely no sexual relationship. He said the payments had been made through regular channels, and he assumed that they got the okay of everybody involved as they made their way through the system. Checks were cut for many suppliers. She was just another. What was the problem?

Well, charges were pressed. He and she were indicted. She went to trial first. Was found guilty. Is doing four years.

He got a leave of absence as he prepared for his date in court. But the schools paid his full salary during the five months that lasted. And one official after another, elected and appointed, came forward, spoke glowing words about Hubbard, and vouched for him. Their testimonials and solidarity were impressive.

The Daily Pilot covered the story from A to A. (Sometimes the Los Angeles Times did also. It was amusing to read an account in the Pilot, and then another in the same newspaper package delivered to us.)

The stories were good. As rich in detail as the papers could dish up. They became more frequent as the trial date arrived. Every story mentioned that this was a most serious offense, and Hubbard could get years in prison. Yes, years, just as his beautiful alleged accomplice had.

Throughout Hubbard projected a strong, confident stance. And his wife was standing by him—that was impressive. And the support from so many augured well–some community leaders were sitting in on the trial day after day.

There was speculation that he might get a short sentence. But every day the news was that California, and all its cities and towns, all its agencies and departments, right down to the local dogcatcher, were facing dire budget shortages. And here were these alleged gifts of honest taxpayers’ cash as payola in an alleged “improper relationship.”

One morning I picked up the Pilot. Its big headline at the top of the front page yelled: Hubbard guilty. Gets 60 days in jail. Ordered to pay $23,500 in restitution to Beverly Hills Unified Schools and $6,000 in fines.

I passed the Pilot to Annabelle. She read every word. People all over town were reading the story. Here it is as reported in a more detailed story:

By Lauren Williams

LOS ANGELES — Former Newport-Mesa Unified Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard was sentenced to 60 days in Los Angeles County Jail and given three years probation Thursday for misappropriating public funds.

Hubbard, 55, was not handcuffed while being taken into custody in Los Angeles County Superior Court. He showed little emotion.

Hubbard’s wife, Lupe, sobbed in the courtroom. When asked by Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus whether he had anything he wanted to give his wife before he began serving his term, Hubbard replied: “Just lots of love.”

Hubbard was convicted in January of two felony counts related to a previous job as superintendent of the Beverly Hills Unified School District. He used his position there to enhance the car allowance for and make payments to a former subordinate, Karen Anne Christiansen. Hubbard was acquitted on a third count.

On Thursday, (Judge) Marcus ordered Hubbard to pay $23,500 in restitution to Beverly Hills Unified and $6,000 in fines. He was also barred from holding a position of public trust.

Marcus said he had no doubt that the jury came to the right decisions.

“It was almost a perfect crime,” Marcus said. “If anyone knew how to pull this off, it was Mr. Hubbard.”

The judge speculated that Hubbard was motivated to give Christiansen extra money based on sexually laced emails exchanged between the two.

“I think he did this to help Ms. Christiansen because he liked her,” Marcus said. “He had a yearning for this woman, and she hypnotized him.”

Hubbard told the Daily Pilot after his arrest that he did not have an affair with Christiansen. There was no evidence of a romantic relationship provided by the prosecution during the trial.

Prosecutor Max Huntsman wrote in a sentencing memo that “Dr. Hubbard’s conduct was egregious” and said that he “took advantage of a position of trust to misappropriate public tax money designated for the use of schoolchildren.”

Hubbard’s attorney, Sal Ciulla, vowed to appeal the conviction. He said in court that he would file a notice of appeal after Thursday’s sentencing.

Before the sentence was read, Ciulla said that over the course of the criminal proceedings he has gotten to know Hubbard better than any other client and said he was a man of integrity.

The judge received 41 letters supporting Hubbard, including from some Newport-Mesa Unified school board members pleading for leniency at the sentencing.

School board President Dave Brooks, trustees Martha Fluor and Walt Davenport, and Deputy Supt. and Chief Business Official Paul Reed wrote letters of support, calling Hubbard an “upstanding individual” and describing him as “transparent,” “compassionate,” “knowledgeable” and “possessing a keen sense of justice and honesty.”

Brooks submitted a nine-page packet to the court. In a two-page letter, Brooks called Hubbard an “outstanding superintendent.”

“With this conviction his career has ended. He will no longer be able to work in the arena for which he was held in high regard,” Brooks wrote. “He may or may not have been popular with a small, vocal minority, but he is effective in administrating very complicated school districts.”

One letter, which came from Beverly Hills, asked for a stringent sentence.

Ciulla said he did not know when Hubbard would be released from jail, although Marcus speculated that Hubbard would spend less than a week behind bars because of overcrowding.

“Frankly, I want him to have a taste of jail,” Marcus said. “I do want to send home the message that it was wrong.”

End of newspaper report.

And right then and there it happened. I got that awful itch again—to write a letter to the editor about it. I sat down at my computer even before I ate my breakfast. I kept it short. This is what I wrote:

“Subject: Hubbard gets six months.

Dear editor: It seems agreed that Jeffrey Hubbard was a talented and effective administrator, and that his crime is a career-buster. What a shame. At 55! A loss for him and society.

My recommendation: After his first 15 days in jail, he should be given a job. It would be tragic and stupid to spend all that time at the usual solitaire, schmoozing, and TV.

He should report on a regular schedule to the warden’s office to be a consultant on what he sees wrong with jail (any and all aspects) and advise on how to fix such things. Much needs to be fixed.

Coming from a jailbird with sharp insights, this would be a valuable public service. And could be a career re-opener for him. A win-win!

Then I signed my name and gave my address and phone number. And sent the email.

Then I waited a day. Then another. Then I got an email from the editor of the Pilot, John Carvalis. I knew him only from pieces he wrote on occasion for the paper. They were good. He told me, “I plan to publish this Wednesday.” That was about it.

But I was satisfied. After all, writers write to get read. Not to get rejected.

Then two days later, I picked up the Pilot. And right there on the front page, but with a much smaller headline, was a short story. Its headline said, “Hubbard released from jail.”

I was shocked. Stunned. Couldn’t believe it.

Immediately I thought, What does this mean? Is Carvalis going to trash my letter? After all, it was far less relevant now. Hubbard was being freed. He was in the clinker not even long enough to have a load of dirty laundry to wash. He probably hadn’t even gotten a glimpse of the warden yet. And immediately I got that itch again. I sent Carvalis another letter.

Here’s what I wrote—the first half is the same but the second half is new:

Dear Editor,

About: Your big headline on Page 1 on Feb. 24: “Hubbard gets 60 days”

I had a quick reaction to that and sent you the following letter, which is still not published. I have added on to it a bit as follows (the new part is in italic):

It seems agreed that Jeffrey Hunter was a talented and effective administrator. And that his crime is a career buster. What a shame. At 55! A loss for him and society.

My recommendation: After his first 15 days in jail, he should be given a job. Tragic and stupid to spend all that time at the usual solitaire, schmoozing, and TV. He should report on a regular schedule to the Warden’s Office–to be a consultant. On what he sees wrong with jail (any and all aspects) and advise on how to fix such things. Much needs to be fixed.

Coming from a jailbird with sharp insights, this would be a very valuable public service. And could be a career re-opener for him. A win-win!

Now today’s one-column headline, at the bottom of the page , but still on Page 1, thank goodness:

“Hubbard released from jail”

And the subhead: “Former Newport-Mesa Supt released after serving only four days of a two-month sentence for two felony charges.”

My new reaction: Only four days! Shocking! Scandalous! Every news account from the start of the sad story to its end kept saying he could get years! But: when found guilty, already an exception was made–no handcuffs as he was led off to start his sentence. Now this! Just four days in the clinker. It stinks. Impugns our whole justice system. Makes citizens smirk. Makes us scream for an inquiry.

And makes it a hundred times harder for him to salvage his career.

John Guy LaPlante

And I clicked “Send.”

How would Editor Carvalis react? I suspected he’d use my re-write, but not sure. All I could do was wonder. He had sent me a nice note the first time. Maybe he’d send me a note now. No note.

Wednesday dawned. The day Carvalis promised to print my letter. Annabelle always gets up earlier than I do, though I’m not a late-riser. I jumped out of bed the minute I woke up. Annabelle had the paper open on the table. Open to the Letters page.

There was my letter. Carvalis had printed it as promised. But … it was my original letter, not my revised letter.

How come? No idea. And as I said, no recourse. I studied the page. There were only three letters on it, I mean above the many ads that made up most of it. Mine was the last. All three fit together nicely. Maybe Carvalis felt that he did not have the space for my revised letter, which was twice as long as my first one. And I’ll never know.

As always when one of my letters gets rejected, I ask myself, Why bother? Why make this effort?

But of course I know why. I want to have my say. I believe it has value. I care.

I’m positive I’ll get that itch again. This is who I am and what I do.

And of course, this is why I write articles like this one you are now reading.

For the record: most of my dealings with editors have been pleasant by far.

Chester Airport, the Shoreline’s Gateway to the Sky

The Chester Airport is thriving on a hilltop

Chester Airport in a sense is already up in the sky. The airport is located at the top of a 415 foot prominence, towering over the surrounding landscape below.  The airport’s street address is 59 Winthrop Road in Chester, and it is located a few miles west of Exit 6, off Route 9.

Chester Airport of course provides routine aviation services for the takeoffs and landings of general aviation aircraft. The airport has a single 2700 foot long runway and has personnel on duty to greet incoming aircraft during normal daylight business hours.

Chester-based pilot Bruno Kitka takes off in his Piper Seneca bound for Schenectady

Also, like many general aviation airports, Chester Airport offers air taxi service for traveling business persons and vacationers. Frequent destinations are to New York and Boston, and to vacation spots such as Nantucket, Bar Harbor, and even the Caribbean.

These chartered, general aviation flights are provided by Chester Charter, Inc., which can be reached at 860-526-4321, or at www.chester-charter.com.  Still handling these routine airport services is only one of the services that Chester Airport provides to the area’s aviation community.

The “Discovery flights” at Chester Airport

The airport is also the jumping off place for aerial sightseeing tours of the beautiful Connecticut River valley, courtesy of Chester Charter. To get you started in the air, the company offers a ½ hour “Discovery flight.” The cost of this introductory flight is about what you would pay for a dinner for two at a local Chester restaurant.

Chester Charter also offers more extensive air passenger rides for one to four passengers. Cessna aircraft are used for these flights, and the cost comes to about $150 per passenger on a four passenger flight.  The taking of aerial photography is a favorite on these flights.

Then, if you want to bring out the Red Baron in you,* there is the unique option of flying in the open cockpit of a Boeing  Stearman, a vintage, 1941 biplane.  This exhilarating flying experience is priced accordingly, and we shall leave it at that.  The “de rigueur” outfit for a flight in the Stearman are goggles and a leather hat that covers the ears.

Taking up water-filled balloons to drop on the ground below, from the open cockpit of the Stearman, is not allowed, as tempting as that may be.

Learn to fly at Chester Charter flight school

Beyond the thrills of airplane rides and aerial sightseeing, Chester Airport also offers serious flight training courses at the Chester Charter Flight School.  Chester Charter partner, Jean Dow, is at the airport to help would-be pilots started in learning to fly.

Chester Charter partner Jean Dow says, "Learn to fly here"

Flight training at the flight school includes a ground school with eleven hours of instruction. Chester Carter uses Jappesen products for its ground school, and miscellaneous materials, such as charts and directories are provided to flight school students as well.

Chester Charter flight school is also a Cessna flight training center, and it uses Cessna 152’s and Cessna 172’s aircraft.

The amount of instructional flying time in the air, required to become an FAA certified pilot, varies immensely. Although the minimum air time required by the FAA is as low as 40 hours (20 in flight hours with an instructor and 20 in flight hours solo), this is the bare minimum required. Also, it is rarely appropriate for student flyers.

In fact, the national average for the completion of FAA flight training is 72.8 hours in the air, well above the 40 hour FAA minimum.

As for the cost of tuition at the flight school it is more affordable than some might think.  By the time you are certified as a pilot, it is certainly much, much less than a single year of college tuition costs these days. And you have learned to fly!

Maintaining your aircraft at Chester Airport

In addition to teaching students to fly at the Chester Airport, there is an extensive aircraft maintenance facility at the airport called the Chester Charter Airplane Factory. The Factory is essentially an aircraft maintenance and service facility, which is accessible both to aircraft permanently based at the Chester Airport, as well as transient aircraft.

The Factory also hosts Stellar Aironics, which services and repairs aircraft radar and ground positioning systems.

Renting hangar space for aircraft

The Chester Airport also rents hangar space on a long term basis, as well as short term space for transient aircraft. There is interior space in the long line of hangars down the airport’s single runway, as well as “tie down” spaces in the open air on the tarmac.  The average in-hangar rental for a two-seated aircraft is $250 a month, according to James A. Olson, the Airport Manager.

Indoor storage of aircraft at Chester Airport

Olson also holds the title of Corporate Vice President of Aviation of Whelen Engineering Company, Inc. He says that, “Since the airport’s rejuvenation, after the Whelen family bought the airport 20 years ago, the place has been thriving.” “Presently, 100 plus airplanes are based here,” he notes, adding that “there is a long waiting list for an open spot in one of the airport’s hangars.”

As for the size of aircraft that can land and take off at Chester Airport, the airport’s helicopter pad is big enough to accommodate large helicopters. Also, it can handle the take offs and landings of large, multi-engine aircraft as well. However, Chester Airport, obviously, cannot accommodate modern day, jumbo jets.

The typical pilots who fly the planes at Chester Airport

Airport Manager Olson has some unique insights into the pilots who fly out of Chester Airport. “Generally, they fly smaller planes,” he says, “predominately on weekends.” Also, favored destinations of the weekend flyers are smaller airports that have a good restaurant nearby.

Chester-based pilot Bruno Kitka with his Piper Seneca

“They know where the good restaurants are,” Olson says in admiration.   Once they have landed and eaten at their restaurants of choice, the pilots fly back home to Chester. Computing the cost of this one day flight plan can be as much as $200, or more, mainly because of the high cost of aviation fuel to make the trip. The lunch itself is a minor expense.

Just come out and watch the planes

Airport Manager Olson without reservation says, “Visitors are always welcome at the airport.” “It is good to see people satisfying their aviation curiosity,” he says with a smile. As for his own flying experience Olson says, “I started flying, when I was 13 years old.”

Airport Manager Jim Olson, started flying at age 13

Chester Airport is indeed a wonderful place to visit on a clear, clear sunny day, even if you have absolutely no intention of flying anywhere. Just go out and lean on the sparkling white fence, next to the runway, and watch the aircraft take off and land.

People frequently speak of “the wonder of flight.” Evidence of that wonder is in our midst at Chester Airport.

______________________________________________________

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­*The “Red Baron” was the German ace, Manfred von Richthofen, who had 80 confirmed kills in World War 1. The Red Baron himself was killed near the end of the war.

$4.22 Million Budget Proposed for Chester Elementary School in 2012-2013

CHESTER— The Chester Board of Education has approved a $4,225,900 education budget for 2012-2013, sending the spending plan to the board of finance for further review and inclusion in the total town spending package that goes to the voters for approval in May.

The proposed budget, which funds the operations of Chester Elementary School, represents an increase of $61,831, or 1.48 percent, over current funding for the school. Enrollment at the kindergarten through sixth grade school is projected at 256 students in 2012-2013, down by about three students from current enrollment.

The budget includes $38,000 in new spending to fund two special education para-educator positions that are currently funded by outside grants.

There is also $11,600 in new spending for improvements at the school, including $5,600 for new fencing along the school driveway near a playground area, and $2,300 for repairs to the Project Adventure course on the school grounds. The budget also includes funding for full day kindergarten at the school, an initiative that is not expected to require any significant new spending.

The elementary school budget and a proposed town government budget for 2012-2013 will be presented at the annual budget hearing on Tuesday May 1 at the Chester Meeting House on Liberty Street. A total proposed spending levy for 2012-2013 will be presented to voters for approval at the annual budget meeting later in May.

The total spending package will include the Chester share of a proposed $17.56 million Region 4 education budget that goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex for approval in a May 8 referendum. The $4.7 million Chester share of the Region 4 budget is down by $21,465 from the current Chester share because of fewer students from Chester attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School.

Letter: Environmental Extremists Continue to Run Roughshod over Constitutional Rights

To the Editor:

It looks as if the land grabbing, money grubbing bullies at the Environmental Protection Agency have finally been slapped-down hard. Can you imagine what the couple from Idaho, trying to build a home on their property for the past five years, have been subjected to by this out of control agency?

The Supreme Court in a nine to zero decision has now enabled the couple to challenge the EPA after years of unjust harassment and the threat of enormous fines. How many bad decisions and trampling of citizens Constitutional Rights will the EPA generate before it is systematically overhauled and the perpetrators of menace are thrown out on the street?

Speaking of bad decisions and the trampling of citizens rights, the Connecticut Department of Environment and Energy Protection (DEEP), as well as the Environmental Committee at the State Legislature are pursuing laws that threaten our Constitutional Rights.

Our State Representative, Phil Miller, who is vice chair of the Environmental Committee, announced to The New Haven Register (23 March)  that the “Rising of the Seas Bill” was brought to committee and passed late Friday evening. It was supported by the DEEP. Predictably, there was no notification through the Bill tracking system.

Mr. Miller revealed in the article that “Rising of the Seas Bill,” formerly referred to as the “Strategic Retreat Bill,” was tweaked to “avoid potentially objectionable language.” In the next breath, Miller mentions “relocation assistance” and “voluntary buyouts.” Nice try. Changing the language does not change the fact that this Bill did and still does threaten property rights.

“Rising sea levels,” “Ocean Climate Change,” and “Strategic Retreat” are now part of environmental extremist’s vernacular.  This scare campaign, based on severely flawed global warming models, is the latest hoax perpetrated by the foot soldiers of the Socialist agenda that was hatched at the Brundtland Commission in 1987. The end game is to destroy Freedoms through confiscation of private property and the empowerment of the UN as a “Global Government.”

The UN, recognizing that local governments (agenda 21) are agents of change, is at present redrafting an Environmental Constitution. This “covenant,” as they call it, will give the UN authority over the entire globe. This is being enforced despite the fact that they know the science is seriously flawed.

Environmental extremists continue to run roughshod over the Constitutional Rights of American citizens.  Gird your loins folks; the land grab is full speed ahead in Connecticut.

Sincerely,

Alison Nichols,
Essex CT

Community Music School Presents Sinfonia and String Ensemble April 3

DEEP RIVER – The Community Music School presents its Sinfonia and String Ensemble performance groups in concert on Tuesday, April 3rdat 7:00 pm at Valley Regional High School in Deep River.  Under the direction of Martha Herrle, each of these ensembles will perform a variety of works by Brahms, Schubert, Shostakovich, plus a medley of early American music and selections from West Side Story.

Sinfonia is a multi-generational orchestra offered to players of all ages and orchestral instruments. The String Ensemble had a modest start in2002, with 4 children and one adult.  Today it is an amazing, inter-generational string orchestra with over 30 members from ages 8 to 80. Each ensemble rehearses weekly from September through March and also performs annually at the CMS Holiday Concert. New members are welcome to join and registration for the next year opens in August.

The concert is free and open to the public.  For more information please contact 860-767-0026 or visit www.community-music-school.org.

Con Brio will “Make a Joyful Noise” April 29

On April 29, 2012, Con Brio, the Connecticut shoreline’s renowned all-auditioned chorus, will “make a joyful noise,” as Leonard Bernstein quotes the psalmist in his 1965 Chichester Psalms, the concert’s feature work.  Under the direction of Dr. Stephen Bruce, accompanied by Assistant Director Susan Saltus and full orchestra, Con Brio will make a “joyful noise” as it celebrates its fifteenth anniversary as a chorus.  The program is rounded out with other “B’s,” Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and the Beatles, festive pieces by Vivaldi and Handel, and a number of lighter pieces the chorus will also be performing in its upcoming concert tour to southern Spain.

Bernstein’s popular work, which the chorus will sing in its original Hebrew, was commissioned by the Cathedral at Chichester, England but first performed in New York. Described as “affirmative and at times serene,” the work is comprised of three entire psalms and portions of three others. The music moves through a range of emotions: joy, plaintive anguish and at times anger, unsettledness, and, finally, hope.

The first movement, because of its complex rhythms and repeated use of the dissonant parallel seventh (the seventh interval having numerological importance in the Judeo-Christian tradition), is noted for its musical difficulty, especially for tenors.

Twelve-year-old Erik Olsen, student at the Middle School in Old Saybrook, will be the featured soloist

The second movement, based on Psalms 2 and 23, was written as if to be the young voice of David. Twelve-year-old Erik Olsen, student at the Middle School in Old Saybrook and alto in the boys’ choir of Trinity Church in New Haven, will be the featured soloist, accompanied by harp.  Both of Erik’s parents, Jennifer and David Olsen, have sung with Con Brio as chorus members and soloists. The men’s theme in this second section was adapted from material that Bernstein cut from West Side Story.

After a complex and unsettled instrumental prelude, the third movement resolves into a gentle chorale.  The last words of the piece serenely proclaim: “Together in Unity.”

This is only the beginning of the concert!  Bach’s unfinished Cantata 50, “Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft,” jubilantly proclaims “now come the power that heals us”; Beethoven’s “Hallelujah,” the final movement from Christ on the Mount of Olives, his only oratorio, is a favorite of audiences everywhere; and Brahms’ Motet on Psalm 51 is a sublime example of beautiful choral writing.

Vivaldi’s “Domine ad adjuvandum me festina,” buoyantly asks, “Lord, make haste to help me.” Handel’s “Zadok the Priest”, one of his most popular and majestic of anthems, is based upon the biblical text of the anointing of Solomon as king.  This anthem, composed for the coronation of George II in 1727, has been performed at every British coronation since.

Looking forward to Con Brio’s upcoming concert tour this spring in southern Spain is “Amor Que Une Con El Amor Grandisimo” (“Love that Unites Me with the Greatest Love).”

On the lighter side is a collection of pieces that Con Brio will also share with its Spanish audiences: a “Swingle Singers’” version of a Bach fugue; “Gabriel,” a rousing gospel tune;  John Rutter’s rollicking “When the Saints Go Marching In;” and a rendition of the Beatles’ hit, “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

Don’t miss this one.  Tell your friends.  Bring your friends.  Celebrate with joyful noise!

Tickets:  $25, available through www.conbrio.org, by calling 860 526 5399 or from any Con Brio member.

Location:  Christ the King Church, 1 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme, Ct., 4PM

Rum-Running – EHS April 11 Program at Essex Town Hall

Rum-running will be the subject of a short talk and film at the Essex Town Hall, Wednesday, April 11 beginning at 7:30 p.m. The talk is sponsored by Essex Historical Society, as part of their annual lecture series. The public is invited to attend and the event is free to all. Refreshments will follow the program.

Brenda Milkofsky, the founding director and former curator of the Connecticut River Museum will talk briefly about the lower Connecticut River during Prohibition and provide some local context for the film, The Real McCoy: The Legend of Bill McCoy & The Rum War at Sea.

 The film was made largely in Mystic in 2007 by Bailey Pryor of Telemark Films and features Stephen Jones, author of the film, English professor at UCONN, raconteur, and author of the rum-running tale, The Bahama Queen and other marine history works.

In re-creating the Prohibition period from 1920 to 1933 for the film, Pryor was assisted by the Essex Steam Train, Ralph Herman of Antique Auto Services, Inc., Herb Clark, the Connecticut State Police and the US Coast Guard.

Viewers may also recognize Malabar II, Compass Rose, and Ilona all sail boats that play roles as “Rum Row,” the large schooners who brought illegal liquor from Canada and the Bahamas to off-Long Island and anchored three-miles out awaiting the arrival of the fast rum-runners.

Bill McCoy was a very successful and charismatic bootlegger who transported illegal whisky in his fleet of large schooners and reportedly created Rum Row. The book jacket of The Real McCoy, the book from which the film derived, says “For nearly four years he slaked the thirst of the nation while leading authorities on a merry chase. He…built a bootlegging empire that made millions of dollars. In all his dealings McCoy remained personable and trustworthy and true to his standard that the liquor he carried was the best…the real McCoy.”

 

Greek Tragedies will Come Alive at Chester Library

With so many new books being published every day, why would anyone want to read books written in Greece almost 2500 years ago?

Just ask Charlotte Rea, who will be leading a series of three evening discussions on three Greek tragedies in April at the Chester Public Library. Rea, the former Head of School at the Williams School in New London, has an academic background in English and theater, including Greek drama.

“They are a good read,” she says firmly. “They are great stories that capture human purpose, drive, action, guilt and knowledge at its most elemental, intense, and ennobling.”

Rea draws a parallel between life in Greece 2500 years ago and our American society today. “The tragedies were written during a time of Athenian prosperity and stability, during the best periods of a working democracy (as they defined it – adult free males only).  In the background, though, was the memory of recent wars and the mounting tensions with neighboring city-states, such as Sparta. Prosperity and stability in a time of tension, doubt, worry and cultural divides – sound familiar?”

The three plays, by Sophocles and Euripedes, are “Oedipus Rex,” “Antigone,” and “The Trojan Women.” In “Oedipus,” the Greeks asked how we find the truth and what choices do we make in our journey to see and to understand. “Antigone” raises the question of the individual’s right to act on a personal belief system when respect for civic stability requires cooperation. “The Trojan Women” makes clear the timeless, seemingly inevitable consequences of war for the survivors. The discussions will begin Wednesday, April 11, with “Oedipus Rex”; move on to “Antigone” on April 18; and end on April 25, with “The Trojan Women.”

“The plays have lasted as ‘classics’ for almost 2500 years – why?” Rea asks. “What do they teach us about the human condition and quest for meaning? In a period of quick changes and rapid alterations in communication, landscape, and attitudes, which human values have endured through the centuries? Which have not?”

Rea notes that the plays are easy to read and short, requiring an hour or so to read (though the former schoolteacher admits to encouraging a second reading).

Registration is required for these programs, which are brought to you by the Friends of Chester Public Library. Call the library at 860-526-0018, or visit the library website at www.chesterct.org/library.php to register. All discussions will be at Chester Public Library from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Books will be available for loan at Chester Library. Those interested in ebooks may want to check out the texts available through Project Gutenberg.

Tag sale At The Company of Fifers and Drummers

Annual Valley-Shore Men’s Palm Sunday Breakfast

Over a hundred men, young and old, from congregations throughout the Connecticut River Valley annually gather in Deep River for the annual Palm Sunday Men’s Breakfast.    Again this year we will gather at 7 a.m. on Palm Sunday, April 1, for a half-hour communion service, followed by breakfast in Fellowship Hall.   After breakfast, we will hear about a wonderful mission outreach working among the poorest people in our hemisphere.

Please plan to join over a hundred men from throughout the Valley Shore area by calling the Deep River church office before Tuesday, March 27 (860-526-5045), or by e-mailing your reservations to congregational.chrch@snet.net (or go to our church web site, www.deepriverchurch.org  and click the box on the main page)

Our speaker this year is the Rev. Dr. Peter Allen, Vice President of  Simply Smiles Inc., a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing bright futures for impoverished children.   Simply Smiles was founded in Connecticut in 2003.  Its inaugural project was the Casa Hogar Benito Juarez Children’s Home in Oaxaca City, Mexico.  Today the work has expanded to help the desperate poor living in Oaxaca and a nearby garbage dump.  Simply Smiles also helps to provide income for the Mexican poor by marketing their coffee beans in this country.  More recently a new project has begun among the people of the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation in South Dakota.

Rev. Allen was born and raised in Westport, Connecticut, and is the father of two young adult sons. His earliest religious experiences were with the Greens Farms Congregational Church, UCC, where he was baptized, confirmed, and ordained. A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Andover Newton Theological School, and Hartford Seminary, Pete served churches in Walpole, Massachusetts; Concord, New Hampshire; and Monroe, Connecticut, before leaving his 23-year career in parish ministry to work full time with Simply Smiles. Pete’s professional passions are preaching, youth and young adult ministry, and mission travel. As Vice President of Simply Smiles, Pete’s duties are diverse. On any given day, he could be preaching, presenting, fundraising, hosting a service trip, carrying food, or mixing cement. He is currently learning Spanish.

Schedule

7:00 – 7:30             Communion in the Sanctuary

7:30 – 8:15              Bountiful Breakfast  (Cost:  Donation)

8:15 – 9:00              Program

State Representative Phil Miller Working to Keep Toxins Away from Kids and Food

State Representative Phil Miller (D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, Haddam), Vice Chair of the state legislature’s Environment Committee

State Representative Phil Miller (D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, Haddam), Vice Chair of the state legislature’s Environment Committee, has announced that the Committee recently passed two bills that would limit the use of known toxins in the State of Connecticut.

The Environmental Committee approved a bill, (HB 5218 ), that would ban any product containing “Tris,” which is a common flame retardant that is being marketed in Connecticut for the use by children, three years or younger, according to Miller. Tris was once widely used in children’s pajamas, until in 1977 when it was outlawed from this use because of adverse health effects.

“Tris has been found in almost 80% of baby and children’s products, including changing table pads, mattresses, baby carriers, and high chairs,” Miller said. “We have a responsibility to protect the state’s kids and limit their exposure to harmful products,” he added.

The Environmental Committee has also recently approved legislation, (HB 5116), that would require the labeling of food packaging that contains bisphenol-A (BPA). Studies have linked BPA to reproductive problems, learning disabilities, and cancer, Miller noted. Connecticut already bans the use of BPA in reusable food and beverage containers, and containers for infant formula and baby food.

“Although many manufacturers are behaving responsibly and removing BPA from their products, Connecticut consumers deserve to know if BPA could be seeping into their food,” Miller said.

He added, “Children are particularly vulnerable to BPA, since exposure is greater pound for pound than with adults, and systems to metabolize BPA have not been fully developed.”

Both bills are now headed to the full House and Senate for their consideration.

Essex Selectmen Approve $6.85 Million Town Government Budget for 2012-2013

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has approved a proposed $6.85 million town government budget for 2012-2013 that represents a $222,285, or 3.35 percent, increase over current spending.

The board approved the $6,854,304 budget on a unanimous vote at a March 21 meeting. First Selectman Norman Needleman presented the spending plan to the board of finance the following evening. The budget plan that funds town government is combined with the town’s share of the Region 4 education budget and the budget for Essex Elementary School for a total 2012-2013 spending package that will be presented to the voters for approval in May.

Under the direction of Needleman, a Democrat elected to the top job last year after serving previously on the board of selectmen, town hall staff prepared a detailed four-page “Citizens Guide to the Essex Town Budget” that explains the budget preparation process and includes various town financial data. Preparation of the hand-out guide follows a contentious budget battle last year. After voters at the annual budget meeting rejected a proposed budget for the first time in decades, a reduced budget was approved on a 532-438 vote in a June 7 2011 referendum.

The budget includes a two percent wage/salary increase for all non-union town employees and elected officials, with the exception of the board of selectmen. Needleman, Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby and Republican Selectman Joel Marzi are not taking a pay increase for 2012-2013, leaving the salary for first selectman at $76,271, and the annual stipend for selectmen at $4,148.

The budget includes $174,681 for parks and recreation, an increase of $16,376, $270,664 for operation of the solid waste transfer station, $281,250 for the volunteer fire department, and $365,000 for the libraries in Essex and Ivoryton.

The budget establishes new totals, and operations plans, for the health department and police, two items that were debated in 2001. A $113,105 appropriation for the health department, up by $6,615, includes funding of $60,000 for a a combined health director and sanitarian. Needleman said Ivoryton resident Lisa Fasulo, who began working as a part-time health dirtector earlier this year, is expected to pass state exams for certification as a sanitarian, establishing a full-time health director/sanitarian position.

The budget appropriation for town police is $315,806, a decrease from the $343,000 that will be spent in the current fiscal year. This amount is supplemented by $108,000 for a single resident state trooper. Needleman said his plan is to fill one open police position by this summer, setting a local force at three-full-time officers, He would also fund two part-time police positions that would be used for up to two shifts per week and special events. Local officers would be supervised by the resident state trooper.
The budget also increases capital sinking funds for the fire department, parks and recreation, municipal property maintenance, and road repairs for a total proposed capital sinking fund appropriation of $388,117, an increase of $126,667 from the current amount. Needleman said all of the sinking funds have been underfunded since the economic recession began in 2008. The fire department capital sinking fund would be $125,000, up by $50,000, with $30,000 for parks and recreation, $75,000 for road repairs, and $25,000 for municipal property maintenance.

In voting for the budget, Marzi said he was not pleased with the proposed 3.35 percent spending increase, but was ready to send the spending plan to the board of finance and townspeople for further discussion.

The town is already facing a $325,000 increase in its share of the Region 4 education budget because of more students from Essex attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School. A spending increase of about 1.7 percent is also expected for the elementary school budget, which goes to the voters as part of the town budget. The Region 4 education budget is sent to the voters of Chester, Deep River and Essex in a separate referendum that is set for May. 8.

Needleman said he is hoping to limit any tax increase needed to fund the total spending appropriation to about one-half mill. The current tax rate is 17.98 mills, or $17.98 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Needleman said the board of finance is expected to discuss funding the proposed increase in capital and sinking funds from the town’s undesignated fund balance as a way to limit the expected tax increase. The fund balance currently contains about $2.72 million, or about 13 percent of total operating expenses.

The annual budget hearing is set for Thursday April 19 at 8 p.m. in the auditorium in town hall. Voters would act on the combined town/elementary school spending package at the annual budget meeting on Monday May 14, unless the board of selectmen decides to send the spending package to a referendum, or voters force a referendum by petition.

Essex to Fly Flag, Favoring “Organ Donations” Throughout the Month of April

The Town of Essex will unfurl an “organ donation” flag, which will fly just below the U.S. flag on the town flag pole, during the month of April, according to First Selectman Norman Needleman. The “organ donation” flag will be part of a state and national effort to raise public awareness as to the importance of organ and tissue donations.

The new flag will say, “Donate Life,” and, “Donation Saves Lives.” The Town of Essex will be one of 50 Connecticut towns, hospitals and organizations that that will participate in the national “Flags Across America” campaign to encourage organ donations.

“I personally support organ donations, because they help so many people,” said Essex’s Needleman, as he posed with the flag that will go up the Town Hall flag pole in April. “Becoming an organ donor is one of the most generous decisions a person can make to help others,” he said.

“Connecticut residents can register to save lives by an organ donation two ways: when they renew their driver’s license, or by visiting the secure online website, www.DonateLifeNewEngland.org ,” he continued.

Needleman said that he personally is a registered organ donor, a status that is indicated on his driver’s license.

 1,200 in Connecticut need organ transplants

Recent estimates are that 110,000 people in America, and 1,200 in Connecticut alone, are waiting for a transplant from an organ donor, and that the need for organ donations has never been greater. By signing on to “Flags Across America” campaign, the Town of Essex has became a partner with Donate Life New England.

Donate Life New England is a joint project of three federally designated organ procurement organizations that serve New England. The three organizations are (1) New England Organ Bank, (2) LifeChoice Donor Services, and (3) the Center for Donation and Transplant and the Connecticut Eye Bank.

The New England Organ Bank is the oldest independent organ procurement organization in the country, and it serves over 160 acute care hospitals for organ and tissue donation and 12 transplant centers.

LifeChoice Donor Services serves 23 acute care hospitals for organ and tissue donations and two organ transplant hospitals, one of which is Hartford Hospital.

The Center for Donation and Transplant coordinates the retrieval of donated organs and tissues for the Connecticut Eye Bank and other health services organizations in New York and Vermont.

 

 

 

Essex Zoning Board of Appeals Denies Variance for Centerbrook Coffee Shop, Barber Shop Approved in Same Building

ESSEX— A new barber shop has won zoning approval for a nearly vacant Centerbrook building, but a separate proposal for a coffee shop in another section of the building faces other steps to win approval.

The zoning board of appeals Tuesday denied an appeal of Sotira Tubaya of East Haddam for variances of three local zoning regulations that were required for her plan to open a coffee shop in a section of 57-61 Main Street. Most of the commercial building has been vacant for over two years.

Tubaya needed variances of regulations limiting new restaurants in Essex to no more than 10 seats, restricting new restaurants within 750-feet of an existing restaurant, and restricting new restaurants on a corner lot.
The board denied the variance requests on a 2-3 vote, though the proposal received support at the public hearing from the town’s economic development commission and two residents.

Tubaya said her proposed use was defined as a restaurant, though she is planning to serve only coffees, teas, and foods prepared off site, with no on site preparation of food. “This is not going to be a full service restaurant,” she said. Tubaya maintained her hardship was the town zoning regulations restricting new restaurants that date back to the 1980s.

Peter Lucchese, the realtor marketing space in the Centerbrook building, said most inquiries about the space have been for restaurants, with parties backing off after learning of the local restrictions. John Beveridge, representing the economic development commission, said the panel is working to fill vacant commercial spaces in town, and believes the coffee shop is a “very appropriate use for the site.” Jeff Berzin and Thomas Perkins spoke in support of the appeal, expressing concern about vacant commercial space in the town’s three villages. No one expressed direct opposition to the proposed use during the public hearing.

But board members, including longtime chairman Stuart Ingersoll, contended Tubaya was asking the board to approve a use that should fall under the jurisdiction of the zoning commission. “Three variances is asking an awful lot of the ZBA,” Ingersoll said.
Board members urged Tubaya to apply to the zoning commission for a zoning amendment that would remove some of the restrictions in zoning regulations on new restaurant uses in Essex. Joseph Budrow, zoning enforcement officer, said he had spoken to Tubaya and Lucchese Wednesday and found them interested in bringing a zoning text amendment application to the commission.

The zoning commission Monday approved a special permit allowing a barber shop in another section of the 57-61 Main Street building. The barbershop planned by Meagan Wozniak of Franklin would be a walk in shop for men.

Essex Zoning Commission Continues Public Hearing on Dropping Over 55 Rule from Planned Bokum Road Condominiums

ESSEX— The zoning commission has continued to April the public hearing on a proposal to drop an over age 55 restriction on a Bokum Road housing complex approved in 2007, though the proposed change drew no direct opposition at the hearing Monday evening.

Essex Glen LLC has asked the commission to amend regulations related to the development that specified the units would be sold to persons age 55 or older. The proposed new wording eliminates the term “active adult community,” and instead states the residential community would be “targeted for but not limited to occupancy by persons age 55 or older.”

The commission in 2007 approved the 55-unit complex, with the age restriction, on an 11-acre parcel on the east side of Bokum Road near the Valley Railroad tracks. But the complex was never built after the economic crash and national recession that began in the fall of 2008.

Lawyer and regional Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme, repesenting Essex Glen LLC, said the developers were not able to market enough units with the over 55 age restriction. Lomme, who was elected judge of probate for the nine-town region in 2010, had represented the applicants during the 2007 approval process. This is the second Essex land use application Lomme has presented in recent weeks after also representing the developer of the proposed seven-lot Foxboro Point subdivision before the planning commission at a March 8 public hearing.

Lomme, assisted by a planner and a traffic engineer, maintained that dropping the over 55 rule would not result in a significant increase in the number of school age children at the complex, or a significant increase in traffic on Bokum Road, which connects Route 153 in Essex to Route 154 in Old Saybrook. He said that other than dropping the age restriction, “not one blade of grass,” has changed from the plan the commission approved in 2007. The commission will conduct another review of the site plan for the complex if it approves the proposed zoning text amendment.

While some of the handful of residents at the public hearing questioned the claims about no changes in traffic and no increase in school age children, no one spoke in direct opposition to the proposed change. The planning commission, which offers advisory opinions to the zoning commission, has endorsed deleting the over 55 age restriction for the planned development.

The commission continued the hearing to its April 16 meeting to give members an opportunity to review the information presented by the planner and the traffic consultant.

Putting in the Docks, a Spring Ritual at the Pettipaug Yacht Club in Essex

Former Commodore Sandy Sandstrom directs the lowering of dock sections by means of the electric hoist

You know spring is coming, when the volunteers at the Pettipaug Yacht Club start putting the club’s docks in the waters of the Connecticut River.  Because of the violent ice flows in winter, and the high water run offs of early spring, every fall the club members have to hoist the docks out of the water, and place them safety on land.

Then in spring, the docks go in again.

Pettipaug’s docks are put together by joining 15 separate dock sections, each of which measure 16 feet by six feet, and which weigh 1,200 pounds. The sections, once in place, form an up-river North Dock, constructed with five joined sections, a Middle Dock, designed especially for rowers, of four joined sections, and a South Dock of six joined sections.

Read Commodore David Courcy brought his daughter Aurora, age 8, to assist and supervise

Last Saturday’s work party was only able to put in place the North and the Middle Docks. The South Dock, whose dock sections are hauled to the water with the aid of a large and temperamental back hoe, were not installed last Saturday. The reason was that that the back hoe was once again “on the fritz.”

Past club Commodore Walter (aka “Sandy”) Sandstrom said he would try to fix the ailing machine in time for another work party next Saturday. As for the general condition of the back hoe, another Past Commodore, Paul Risseeuw, says, “Its put together with bailing wire.”

Installing the North and Middle Docks, thankfully, does not entail using the “back hoe.” Rather the sections for these two docks are piled up for the winter within the radius of the club’s electric hoist.

This hoist can be positioned to pick up individual dock sections from the ground, one at a time, and then swing them over, and then down into the water.  The hoist has the capacity of lifting as much as one ton or 2,000 pounds of dead weight, and it always works.

The anatomy of a dock section

As for the make-up of the 15 dock sections, each of them has a wooden deck on top; and underneath there are six fitted “plastic buckets,” each filled with foam, which gives the dock section its buoyancy. In addition to the deck on top and the foam infused plastic buckets below, the floating dock sections have heavy metal fixtures at each their ends to hold the dock sections together.

A motor boat is launched to haul the joined sections of the North Dock into place

By tradition the club’s Rear Commodore is in overall charge of putting the docks into the water in the spring, and hauling them out of the water in the fall.  In charge of this spring’s “launching of the docks” was the club’s present Rear Commodore, Dave Courcy.

Also, generally supervising things at the dock launchings was Club Commodore Chris Manero.

With motor boat pointing backwards the North Dock is floated upstream to its location

Once fully in place, the Pettipaug’s Yacht Club docks in the spring  are heavily used by the sailing clubs of a number of local schools, including Xavier High School, Valley Regional High School, Daniel Hand High School in Madison, and Trinity College.

The Middle Docks are primarily used for rowers. Also, tied up to the dock on a permanent basis are four powerboats, called “crash boats” by club members. These are used to pluck capsized sailors out of the water, when the occasion arises. Also, the crash boats serve as water taxis, taking club members out their boats during season.

Powerboat Classes and Sailing Academy coming up

In addition to launching, hopefully, the South Dock this coming Saturday, Risseeuw and fellow teacher, Beth Robinson, will be teaching a Powerboat Class for 18 Boy Scouts, ages nine to fourteen, with ten powerboats in the water.

The scout’s Powerboat Class will go from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and both instructors this coming Saturday will be donating their time to the Boy Scouts. Upon completion of the one day course, the scouts are eligible to receive a scout Motor Boating Merit Badge.

Also, day long, powerboat instruction classes will continue to be held throughout the sailing season. The cost of tuition for the course is $175 for a very full day of hands on the throttle.

In addition, ahead on the Pettipaug Yacht Club’s season is the exceedingly popular Pettipaug Sailing Academy. Risseeuw is the Director of the Sailing Academy, the first session of which begins on July 1. The mission of the academy is to teach young people how to sail.

The Sailing Academy accepts 150 students in all for its summer programs, and according to Director Risseeuw, “We have more applicants than we know what to do with.”

The Academy splits its students into various categories. Among the ranks in ascending order of sea competence are, “Seaman, First Mate and Boatswain (pronounced “bos’n).” Also, the Academy has two separate sessions of three weeks each during July and August.

It’s a busy time ahead for the Pettipaug Yacht Club, if they can just get those South Docks in.

Immediate Past Commodore Cameron Taylor poses on completed North Dock

 

 

Letters: Homeless – need help

To the Editor:

My daughter and I had to move out of our apartment because I couldn’t afford it and also due to a protective order against my husband, I thought it would be the best to move out. My daughter and I are living in between my moms house and my fathers house which they are local. Thank goodness. I am having trouble finding a decent apartment with some utilities included. I need your help please. I work full time and my daughter goes to preschool. I am a very reliable woman that wants to provide a safe and healthy environment for my daughter.

If you could help me some how, that would be great.

Thank you,

Sincerely,

Tracy

[email supplied]

A “Portfolio of Photos” of Essex’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade on St. Patrick’s Day

The pictures really tell the story. Here it is, the hugely successful St. Patrick’s Day Parade that took place down the Main Street in Essex on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012.

Click on pictures below to see full size image:

Deep River Elementary Principal John Pietrick Retiring in June, Interviews for Replacement Begin This Month

DEEP RIVER— Deep River Elementary School Principal John Pietrick will retire in June after leading the kindergarten through sixth grade school for the past 13 years.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said Pietrick announced his plans to retire in January after a 35-year career in public education. Pietrick was hired in 1999, when former Superintendent of Schools John Gillespie was in his second year leading the Region 4 school system. Pietrick, who holds a doctorate degree from the University of Connecticut, had worked previously in the Avon and East Hartford school systems, and was a principal in East Hartford before coming to Deep River.

Levy said the application period for the open position closed Friday, with 71 applications received for the job. The applicants will be screened through telephone interviews to eight semi-finalists who will be interviewed by a 16-member group comprised of district administrators, teachers, parents and representatives of the community. The number of candidates will be further reduced to a smaller number who will meet with a local focus group and Levy. Site visits will also be conducted at the schools where the finalists are currently working.

Levy said a single candidate would then be recommended to the Deep River Board of Education for a final interview. Levy said the board is expected to vote on hiring a new principal sometime in April. Levy said she is hoping the new principal could begin working in Deep River this summer.

9 Town Transit Expands Bus Schedules

Beginning April 2, 2012, 9 Town Transit will offer expanded bus schedules on two rapidly growing bus routes.  The new schedules will improve access and connections to neighboring transit systems.

Almost three years after launching service between Old Saybrook and Middletown, ridership growth of over 30% each year has demonstrated a need for additional hours of service.  The current schedule offers morning and evening service with a four hour mid-day gap.  Increasing usage by Middlesex Community College students and people visiting state offices in Middletown have created a need to fill this gap.  Service will now be offered every two hours from 6:20 AM until about 7:20 PM.

9 Town Transit has also seen tremendous growth in its bus service between Old Saybrook and New London.  The service, which saw ridership growth of 70% in 2011, currently runs from 7:00 AM until 5:00 PM.  With a ridership of primarily commuters, the service ends too early for many to return home using the bus route.  An additional trip will be added to leave Old Saybrook at 5:00 PM and return from New London at 6:00 PM.

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.

Estuary and Midstate Regional Planning Agencies to Merge Under Proposed Regional Council of Government

AREAWIDE— The Connecticut River Estuary and Midstate regional planning agencies are expected to merge by this summer under a proposed new Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments that would replace an existing and more informal Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Elected Officials.

The Essex Board of Selectmen last week received a report on the proposed changes. The board has scheduled an April 4 public hearing on an ordinance authorizing Essex to join the proposed new council of governments, a step that would precede a town meeting vote on the issue.

East Haddam First Selectman Mark Walter appeared at the board’s March 7 meeting to explain the plan. and the reasons for the proposed changes. Walter is the current chairman of the existing council of elected officials, a group that allows the chief elected officials of the Middlesex County towns, along with Lyme and Old Lyme, to meet monthly to discuss regional and state issues that effect each of the municipalities.

Walter said state officials, including leaders in the General Assembly, are pushing to reduce the number of state supported regional planning agencies. He said the elected first selectmen of the Connecticut River Valley had proposed merging the Old Saybrook-based Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency and the Middletown-based Midstate Regional Planning Agency to avoid the possibility that area towns could be shifted under a state mandate to much larger regional organizations based in Hartford, New Haven, and Norwich. “This is a positive step and also a defensive step,” Walter said.

The 17 towns currently served by the Estuary and Midstate regional planning agencies would have the option to join the proposed Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments. Under the plan, the council governments, made up of each town’s chief elected official, would serve as the board of directors for a merged regional planning agency serving the river valley region. Walter said the state has about $250,000 set aside to assist the merger plan.

The proposed member towns of the new council of governments would be the Estuary towns of Chester,Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook, and the Midstate towns of Cromwell, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Middlefield, Middletown, and Portland. Approval from at least nine towns would be required to establish the COG.

Deep River voters approved resolutions supporting the RPA merger and the new council of governments at a Feb. 28 town meeting. Walter said the plan has also been approved by Cromwell, East Haddam, Haddam, Killingworth, and Portland. The Chester Board of Selectmen has discussed the plan, and is expected to bring resolutions supporting the changes to a town meeting vote later this spring. The April 4 public hearing in Essex is set for 6:30 p.m. at town hall.

The 13th Annual Connecticut Association of Schools – Elementary Celebration of the Arts Banquet

Principal Mike Barile of Chester Elementary School is pictured here with sixth grade students; Juliette Linares and Jared Dompier along with (left to right) Lori Lenz, art teacher, Meg Gister, music teacher, Peter Linares, Ivette Linares, Kim Dompier and Ken Dompier. Juliette and Jared were recently honored at the Connecticut Association of Schools’ 13th Annual Arts Recognition Banquet at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington, Connecticut on February 6, 2012.

The Connecticut Association of Schools celebrates this annual event in order to publicly acknowledge students for their hard work and talent. Juliette and Jared were recognized for their citizenship, cooperative skills, and artistic ability in both the performing and visual arts.

The annual banquet incorporated various art centers including dance, balloon sculpture and face painting. Caricaturists created portraits of the student award recipients. Additionally, the children were entertained by a nationally recognized jazz group, Cool Cat Jazz.

“We are grateful to the Connecticut Association of Schools for providing the opportunity to recognize and reward the outstanding citizenship and innate talent that Jared and Juliette possess and display each and every day,” said Principal Mike Barile.

Region 4 School Board Approves $17.56 Million Education Budget for 2012-2013

REGION 4— The Region 4 Board of Education has approved a $17.56 million education budget for 2012-2013 that will be presented to residents of Chester, Deep River, and Essex at the annual budget hearing on April 2.

The $17,568,403 total budget was approved on a unanimous vote of the board at a March 7 meeting. The board made no changes or reductions from the budget that emerged from the final budget workshop session on Feb. 7. The total budget represents an increase of $243,470, or 1.41 percent, from the current budget.

The total budget is reduced by anticipated income to a net budget of $17,327,124 that is assessed the towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex based on the number of students from each town attending Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School. The net budget represents an increase of $217,292, or 1.27 percent, over the current net appropriation.

The October 2011 student average daily membership at the two secondary schools was good news for taxpayers in Chester and Deep River, but Essex, the largest town in the district, faces a steep increase in its share of the net appropriation.

Chester, with 264 students, has a reduction of $21,465, or .45 percent, in its share of the net budget. The Chester assessment is $4,700,849. Deep River, with 275 students, has an $85,738, or 1.72 percent, drop in its share of the net budget. The Deep River assessment is $4,896,645. Essex, with 434 students, has a $324,495, or 4.38 percent, increase in its share of the net budget. The Essex Region 4 assessment totals $7,729,630.

The annual hearing for the Region 4 budget begins April 2 at 7 p.m. in the library/media center at John Winthrop Middle School. Based on input received at the hearing, the Region 4 board will conduct a final review of the budget before sending a spending plan for 2012-2013 to the voters in the annual budget referendum in the three towns on Tuesday May 8.

Will Foxboro Point Developer Walk Away if Required to Grant “Public Access” to the Site?

The iconic windmill at Foxboro Point, preserved at the choice of developer

“Requiring public access is a game change,” said Frank J. Sciame, Jr., with anger in his voice. As it was, his company, one of the leading construction firms in the nation, had offered to develop Foxboro Point in Essex with the epitome of good taste.

There would be strict, esthetic requirements in place on the private houses that would be built. There would be a 150 foot conservation easement back from the shore for all of the seven building lots, and a generous 27% of the development would be designated as open space.

Furthermore, the Croft mansion on the site would be preserved; and finally, finally, the iconic windmill adjacent to the site would be preserved, even though Sciame made clear to those attending the Essex Planning Commission public hearing on March 8, that he was not required to preserve the windmill.

The historic Croft mansion on Foxboro Point to be preserved in the proposed development

However, tempers soon cooled, and Mr. Sciame’s representatives, Civil Engineer Joseph Wren of Old Saybrook, and “off duty” Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme, who serves as the developer’s private counsel, were already discussing some kind of modest public access to the development property after the meeting.

One thought was to propose building on the property, a sliver of public access land from the road down to the 150 foot conservation easement, perhaps some eight feet wide with a high hedge on both sides. However, comments were not forthcoming that such a compromise would be acceptable to the developer

Sciame does not own the property; he could walk away

One thing to consider is that Sciame does not presently own the property, neither the eleven acres of his proposed development, nor the property under the windmill.  Sciame has only a contingent right to buy these properties, and if he is prevented from developing the property in the way he wishes, he could get out of his contract to buy it, and simply walk away.

If he did so, one can fairly assume that Sciame would shelve his presently expressed plans to become an Essex resident.

Besides deferring immediate approval of the proposal, some of Sciame’s advisors were concerned about the informality of the meeting, where clapping and audible noises of approval of the speakers’ remarks were permitted by Planning Commission Chairman Thomas Danyliw.

Sharp criticism from Essex resident Reichenbach

Some of the harshest criticism of the development plan of Foxboro Point was made by Essex resident Bill Reichenbach. In addition to maintaining that “public access to and along the waterfront” was required under Section 5.8.3 under Town of Essex regulations, Reichenbach termed the development itself as “tragic,” and “a most unfortunate application.”

Reichenbach’s objections were seconded by Essex resident Frank Hall.

Another quarrel with the proposed development was the charge that the proposed “view easement” is not mapped out so that a person can see the windmill from the road at Foxboro Point.

One of the last speakers at the over one hour and a half discussion came from a woman from the back of the room, who said that she was a lifelong resident of Essex. She spoke so forcefully in favor of the development that Chairman Danylwi asked her, if she were in anyway retained by Sciame.

She gave a firm “no,” adding the interesting footnote that when they first built the windmill on Foxboro Point years ago, “everyone was against it.”

Background of developments of Frank Sciame  

Without a doubt Frank S. Sciame heads one of the leading constructions firms in the country, most especially in New York City. Not only has his company built a number of smaller developments, the type of which he showed at the Planning Commission hearing, he has also developed some extremely high profile projects.

Much praised Morgan library restoration, exterior view

They include the much praised renovation of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. Closer to home Sciame completely restored the former home of Katherine Hepburn in Old Saybrook.

Interior of Sciame restored Morgan library

Sciame was also designated in 2006 by then New York Governor George Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg “to lead the effort to ensure a buildable World Trade Center Memorial in New York City,” which was troubled by delays at the time. He is also the Chairman of the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City and Past-Chairman of The New York Landmark Conservancy.

Aerial view of Sciame restored Katherin Hepburn estate in Old Saybrook

Asked for a comment by Frank Sciame, regarding the Planning Commission public hearing on March 8, John Randolph, Executive Vice President, Sciame Development, Inc., said in an e-mail message, “I spoke with Frank [Sciame]. We have no comment at this time.”

The Planning Commission at the end of the March 8 meeting requested that the developer come back to the Planning Commission with an open space version of its development plan. The “no comment” response the day after the meeting could make it an open question, as to whether or not the developer will do so.

Essex Selectmen Approve Additional Emergency Management Improvements, Tax Waiver for Essex Court Elderly Housing

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has approved a $50,000 appropriation for a third round of emergency management improvements, along with a separate four year waiver of the payments in lieu of taxes for the Essex Court elderly housing complex.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the proposed expenditure for emergency management improvements was reduced by the removal of two items that were under discussion, an electric generator for the solid waste compactor site and video cameras for the entrance to town hall. Needleman said he concluded that $35,000 was too much to spend for a generator that would power the compactor during any extended power outage. Dropping the video cameras brought an additional reduction of about $8,000.

The proposed $50,000 expenditure would pay for additional signs, radio communications equipment and improvements, and new appliances for the kitchen on the lower level of town hall. This would the third expenditure for emergency management improvements since Tropical Storm Irene last August. Last fall, voters at town meetings approved $38,000 to relocate the emergency operations center to the former judge of probate office at town hall, and $32,528 for various emergency management items.

The board also approved a four-year waiver of payments in lieu of taxes for the Essex Court elderly housing complex in the Centerbrook section. The four year waiver had been requested by the appointed Essex Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, which governs the complex.

The town has waived the PILOT payments each year since 2005 after controversies and conflicts between project managers and residents from 2001 to 2004 led to legal expenses and settlements that depleted the Essex Housing Authority’s reserve funds. A four year waiver would be the longest waiver of the payments to be approved thus far. Needleman said the waiver would result in a loss of about $9,000 in potential tax revenue per year, or about $36,000 over the four years.

Both the appropriation for emergency management improvements, and the waiver of the PILOT payments, require approval from the board of finance and voters at a town meeting. Needleman said a town meeting vote on the two issues is expected in April.

Ivoryton Library Association Announces Resignation of Director Robbi Storms

The Board of Directors of The Ivoryton Library Association regretfully announces the resignation of its longtime Director, Robbi Storms. For the past 17 years, Robbi dedicated herself to the success of the Library and the Ivoryton community. Her many accomplishments include co-authoring with Don Malcarne and publishing books which captured the history of our community as well as producing an amazing documentary entitled “Legacies of White Gold” which tells the story of our history through the ivory trade.

Due to Robbi’s exhaustive efforts, the Library has amassed a collection of historical archives which has been utilized by researchers on local and international levels. She worked with the Essex Historical Society and collaborated with the Connecticut State Library. Robbi also brought opera programs, art exhibits and foreign language classes to our community. Recently, Robbi proposed the development of the Ivoryton Alliance which resulted in a group of concerned citizens and business owners joining together for the betterment of all with events such as the Ivoryton Illuminations.

Despite the Board’s invitation to Robbi to continue her work at the library, she has opted to resign. It is with gratitude and appreciation for her extensive service to the Library, the Board of Directors, the staff and our many volunteers wish Robbi all the very best in her new ventures and know that she will always be a part of the Ivoryton Library legacy.

For the immediate future, our assistant director Elizabeth Alvord will be assuming responsibilities as Interim Director.

Essex Park and Recreation Drops Plan for Separate Basketball Facility, Approves Upgrade of Existing Court at Hubbard Park

James Rawn (center) Co-Chair of Park & Rec subcommittee, who led effort for new basketball court (photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX— The park and recreation commission, after dropping long-standing plans for a separate basketball facility near the firehouse, Wednesday approved plans to upgrade an existing basketball court at Hubbard Park on North Main Street.

The change in plans developed over the past month, and some of the 40 residents at Wednesday’s meeting objected to a lack of advance notice of the plans to expand basketball at Hubbard Park. The panel approved the Hubbard Park basketball upgrade on a unanimous vote after more than an hour of discussion with residents. The plan received a mixed reaction, with some residents expressing support and others objecting to the new location for expanding youth and adult basketball activities.

Present "in the bushes" basketball court will be upgraded under the new plan (photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson)

The commission, working with a subcommittee of volunteers, had spent more than four years pushing a plan to construct a new basketball center on a portion of a former state commuter parking lot at the intersection of West Avenue and Route 154, near the main firehouse.

The proposed lighted court, with two backstands and two practice backstands, had received zoning approval, including a variance from the zoning board of appeals, in 2009. Supporters of the “Essex Basketball Center and Gateway Project” maintained the project would be entirely funded by private donations. The Essex Volunteer Fire Department did not oppose the project during the zoning reviews in 2009.

The difficult economy slowed donations, but supporters began an active fundraising drive last November with a goal of beginning construction this spring. Jim Rawn, a commission member who co-chaired the project subcommittee, said in November that about $50,000 had been raised for a project that was estimated to cost about $177,000.

The commission’s plan for a separate basketball center remained on track in January, but by February things had changed. At a Feb. 1 meeting, commission members began discussing alternatives to the $177,000 basketball center at the former commuter lot. At a Feb. 13 special meeting, the commission gave tentative approval to a plan for using the donated funds to construct a new basketball court over an existing volleyball court on the southwest corner of Hubbard Park, which also has a baseball field that is heavily used by little league and softball clubs.

It was the idea of building a new basketball court over the volleyball area that drew the most opposition Wednesday night, with several residents objecting to the loss of “green space” at the park to a paved basketball area. Others objected to the Hubbard Park location as too distant from youth in the Centerbrook and Ivoryton sections. Some residents suggested locating the basketball improvements at the Grove Street Park near town hall, or on available space on the Essex Elementary School property in the Centerbrook section.

Converting the existing volleyball court into a new basketball court was rejected because of community opposition (photo courtsesy of Jerome Wilson)

Commission chairman Michael Holmes said the elementary school property was not an option because of board of education rules that limit access to the general public during hours while school is in session. Holmes said the commission has the same rule on public access during summer programs held at the school property.

After listening to input from residents, the commission unanimously approved a plan to improve an existing basketball area on the north side of Hubbard Park, leaving the volleyball court area unchanged. While there is one basketball hoop in place, the paved area is now used mostly for parking at baseball and softball games.

The new basketball court would be fenced, with a gate to allow parking during other activities at Hubbard Park. The court would be monitored by security cameras, with no lighting and closing at sunset.

Rawn said of the 135 families and businesses that donated funds for the basketball center at the commuter lot, only four had requested a refund after learning of the change in location. The commission is hoping to begin work on the basketball upgrade this spring.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said Thursday he supports the commission’s decision to upgrade the existing basketball court at Hubbard Park. “I think that is the best solution possible in the current circumstances,” he said. Needleman said he was pleased the commission listened to concerns expressed by residents, and dropped the plan to build a new basketball court over the volley ball area. “The worked to find a compromise,” he said.

Letters: What does it mean to be an American?

To The Editor,

The first word that comes to my mind when I think about what it means to be an American is Freedom. Yet, each day our freedoms are being challenged and chewed away by zealous environmentalists.  These radical activists are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They have disarmed us with what appeared in the past to be benign changes in our way of life, e.g., anti-pollution rectification.

Moderate changes have deftly opened the door to radical agendas.  “Global warming, “discounted by so many of the very same scientists who originally backed the green hysteria, is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the human community.

Behind the radical hoax of “Global warming” is the effort to achieve “Global Government” with overreaching regulations.  The plan, well on its way, is to control property rights through obfuscation, prevarication, regulation and confiscation.

On the local level, these zealots are hard at work to impinge on our property rights. Consider Bill HB5128 that is currently being discussed on the legislative floor. This bill originated in the Environmental Committee at the State Legislature. And the changes outlined in the hearing represent, at best, bureaucratic overreach.

It is time for our Senator from the 33rd district, Eileen Daily, and our Representative from the36th district, Phil Miller, who is the vice-chair of the environmental committee, to get naked on this bill. They owe it to their constituents to let us know how they plan to vote on Bill HB5128 that brings into question one or more Constitutional issues.

And for those of us who value our freedoms, we can both keep up the mirth and watch our freedoms disintegrate one, by one, by one.  Or, we can confront the wizards of Hartford aggressively and relentlessly reminding them that they work for The People-not the other way around.

Sincerely,

Alison Nichols,
Essex, CT

Full-Day Kindergarten and DRES CMTs Discussion with Dr. Levy

On Tuesday March 13, at 6.30 p.m. there will be a discussion of proposed full-day kindergarten and DRES CMTs with Region IV Superintendent Dr. Levy & Assistant Superintendent Mr. Neviaser at DRES Library, 12 River St., Deep River.

Light refreshments will be served. The discussion will be followed by a regular DRES PTO Meeting at 7:00 p.m.

Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law Elects Eric W. Callahan as Director

Eric W. Callahan

Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law recently announced that Eric W. Callahan has been elected as a Director of the firm.  Attorney Callahan concentrates in the areas of business law, municipal law, commercial transactions and real estate law. He also practices appellate law, and has successfully briefed and argued appeals before the Connecticut Appellate Court and Connecticut Supreme Court. Attorney Callahan has been admitted to practice as an attorney in the States of Connecticut and New York, as well as in the United States District Court – District of Connecticut.

Attorney Callahan received his B.S. in Finance from the University of Connecticut and his J.D., cum laude, from Western New England College School of Law. During law school, Attorney Callahan performed a judicial externship at the Connecticut Appellate Court for the Honorable Barry R. Schaller, and was also a note editor for the Western New England Law Review. He is a member of the American, Connecticut and New London County Bar Associations.

Attorney Callahan resides in Essex, Connecticut, with his wife, Brooke, and daughter, Grace.  He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, and is also a member of the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce.

Suisman Shapiro is the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut, serving the community for over 70 years with a wide range of legal services.


Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law is located at 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591, New London CT 06320
Phone: (860) 442-4416
www.suismanshapiro.com

Trinity Lutheran Church of Centerbrook Matches $3,000 Donation for Fuel Assistance

Jackie Doane (Essex Community Fund), Jean Schneider (Essex Community Fund), Norman Needleman (Essex First Selectman), Dean Jacques (Essex Social Services), Barbara Hesser (Trinity Lutheran Church), Pastor Lorraine Peterson (Trinity Lutheran Church)

Centerbrook, CT— Trinity Lutheran Church of Centerbrook announced today that they have matched a $3,000 donation from the Essex Community Fund, totaling a $6,000 donation to the Essex Social Service Donation Fund. This fund provides the Social Service Department with the resources to help people who otherwise fall through the cracks. This very generous donation has been designated to assist the town with emergency funding for the Energy Assistance Program.

Predominantly, Social Services will use the funds from the Energy Assistance Program to cover the cost of oil deliveries, which come to $400 per delivery. Next come payments for people whose electricity is going to be shut off. To make sure they can help as many people as possible, they limit this assistance to one time per year, and only if there are no other resources available at the time. The Energy Assistance Program places a moratorium on electric shut-offs, effective beginning in the spring. They normally get an upsurge of people coming in at that time trying to keep their electricity on.
Dean Jacques, the town’s Social Service Agent shared, “We did run out of funds during the late winter season a couple of years ago, and that is why I get very anxious in winter.”

The Social Services Department also purchases food cards or vouchers to provide immediate assistance for those who need it, and for holiday programs (such as the Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets). Social Services often receive donated gift cards during the holidays which help with those efforts. Once in a while, they may also offer supplemental assistance for housing, or other needs for community members, depending on the circumstances. “A while back, we paid for a walker for someone with MS,” explained Jacques.

“Reaching out to help our neighbors, whether through donations to the Essex Energy Assistance Program or hosting a meal site and collecting food donations for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen, is part of the mission of Trinity Lutheran Church,” Pastor Lorraine Peterson said. “We are blessed to be able to help our neighbors through this donation because we recognize that we are so richly blessed ourselves. Our identity as Lutherans and as Christians extends beyond the doors of our church and into the community.”

 About Trinity Lutheran Church – Centerbrook, CT

Trinity Lutheran Church, located on Main Street in Centerbrook, has been a part of the community for over 100 years and actively engages in community awareness and participation. All are welcome for worship and fellowship. Trinity Lutheran Church is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is headquartered in Chicago, IL.

 

Carmela Balducci Replaces Husband on Deep River Board of Finance

DEEP RIVER— Carmela Balducci has been appointed to the board of finance to fill the seat held by her husband, former Speaker of the House Richard Balducci. The board of selectmen appointed Balducci, a Democrat, to the vacant position at a meeting Tuesday.
A former teacher, Carmela Balducci had served previously on the library board of trustees and the inland-wetlands commission. She was recommended for the opening by the Deep River Democratic Town Committee. Richard Balducci resigned from the board last month.

Richard Balducci had served on the finance board for nearly a decade, and was re-elected to a six-year term on the board in 2009. After serving as a longtime state representative from Newington, Balducci was elected speaker of the house in 1989. He ran the chamber until 1993, a period when Republican-turned-independent Lowell P. Weicker Jr. served as governor. The Balduccis moved to Deep River in 1996.

First Selectman Richard Smith said Balducci resigned from the finance board after learning he could not hold a local elected position while also serving on the state  Board of Regents for Higher Education, which governs state colleges and universities. Richard Balducci’s six-year term on the board of finance ends in 2015, but the seat will be on the ballot in the 2013 town election.

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme, Busy With Probate Cases, and Non-Probate Matters as Well

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme has immense responsibilities, as a sitting judge of probate for nine towns in eastern Connecticut.  Not only is he the judicial officer who determines the validity of Wills for probate in these towns, he also has many other judicial tasks that are unrelated to probating Wills.

The responsibilities of Judge Lomme not related to Wills include: 1) appointing guardians for persons with intellectual disabilities, 2) approving sterilization and placement of persons with intellectual disabilities, and 3) appointing conservators for persons found incapable of caring for themselves.

Also, Judge Lomme has the power to: 1) remove unfit parents as guardians of their children, 2) hear claims of paternity of unwed fathers, 3) terminate the parental rights of parents, who cannot fulfill their parental responsibilities, and 4) grant adoptions.

In addition, Judge Lomme is empowered to: 1) grant changes of name, 2) approve or disapprove the marriage of persons under the age of 16, and 3) assist persons in obtaining passports, which he usually refers to U.S. Post Office down the street.

Also, in cases of deceased persons, who died without a Will, Judge Lomme is charged with the responsibility of apportioning the assets of the deceased in accordance with statutory requirements.

The nine towns in Judge Lomme’s judicial district

The nine towns in Judge Lomme’s judicial district are: Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook, and his suite of offices are located on the second floor of the Town Hall of Old Saybrook.

To assist him in exercising his judicial responsibilities, Judge Lomme has a staff of nine, lead by his Chief Clerk, Valerie Shickel. To adjudicate the matters under his jurisdiction, Judge Lomme says that he holds on average from 15 to 20 hearings a week. Hearings are held in a room across the hall from his main suite of offices, and they are open to the public. In conducting the hearings Judge Lomme wears a suit and not a judge’s robe.

Judge of Probate offices in Old Saybrook Town Hall

In many cases there are fees involved, when a party appears before Judge Lomme, most especially in probate matters. In some cases these fees can run into thousands of dollars. These fees are paid with the application regardless of whether there is a hearing. Usually the fees in matters involving Wills are covered by taking the money from the estate of the deceased. Also, the monies collected, obviously, go to the state and not to the judge.

The annual salary of Judge Lomme as a Judge of Probate is $110,000  a year.

The qualifications of Judge of Probate Lomme

Judge Lomme brings an extensive background to the position of Judge of Probate. Elected in 2010, Judge Lomme has over thirty years of experience in practicing law. He also holds a Juris Doctor degree from Quinnipiac University, and he is a graduate of Eastern Connecticut College.

When characterizing his present position as a Judge of Probate over nine towns in Connecticut, Judge Lomme says, “I have a pretty full plate.”

Even though judges of the Superior Court, the Appellate Courts and the Supreme Court of the state are prohibited from practicing law for private clients, this is not the case for the state’s Judges of Probate.  

Because of his very full plate as a Judge of Probate, even though he knew that he could continue to practice law, Judge Loome has radically reduced his private law practice. He has resigned as a partner of his law firm and now holds the less demanding position as Of Counsel. Also, he has reduced the number of clients that he has at his firm, from 150 to 10, according to the judge.

Representing a “high profile” client in Essex

Judge Lomme is presently representing a “high profile” private client in the Town of Essex. The client, a New York City developer, is seeking to develop 11 acres of land on Foxboro Point. Foxboro Point is considered one of the most beautiful areas in Essex, and the Judge’s client is seeking to build seven new homes on a parcel, which is located directly on North Cove of the Connecticut River.

Judge Lomme representing Foxboro Point developer at hearing

In his capacity as a private lawyer representing the developer, Judge Lomme to date has appeared at public hearings of both the Essex Inland Waterways and Watercourses Commission and the Essex Planning Commission.

The Inland Waterways Commission held that the developer’s plans were outside its jurisdiction. However, there could be opposition to the Foxboro Point development at the Planning Commission hearing, coming up on March 8. Should this opposition occur, most likely, Judge Lomme as private counsel would seek to refute it.

Judge Lomme will also accompany the developer’s Civil Engineer, Joe Wren, as he conducts a “site walk” for the members of the Planning Commission on March 3, as Wren did previously for the members of the Inland Wetlands Commission.

Judge Lomme characterizes his assignment for the private developer at Foxboro Point as “zoning work.” As such he deems it totally appropriate for a Judge of Probate to assume a private counsel’s role. Also he says that this kind of work “works out well, because I can do it nights and weekends.”

Stating that he has “a heightened sensitivity to conflicts,” Judge Lomme says that he would recuse himself, if a member of the Essex Planning Commission came before his court during the Foxboro Point development’s approval process. He also says he would expect a member of the Planning Commission to do the same, and not vote on the Foxboro Point project, if they had a case before his court.

Some observers feel that it is only a question of time before Judges of Probate will no longer be permitted to practice in law for private clients, in addition to their official judicial duties. However, for the present it is permissible under the law. In fact, Judge Lomme estimates that as many as 80% of the Judges of Probate in the state represent private clients in addition to their judicial duties.

Local Student Composer’s Work to be Premiered

Kim Nucci, of Deep River, CT, will have one of her orchestral compositions premiered by the Sage City Symphony.  Nucci, a student at Bennington College in Bennington, VT, has written a work entitled “Decline and Resolution,” which will be performed on a concert at Bennington College, on Sunday, March 18, at 4:00 p.m.

Nucci is a multi-media artist currently studying at Bennington College.  There she studies painting, photography and saxophone performance, as well as music composition.  Her teachers in music have included Allen Shawn, Nick Brooke, Bruce Williamson, Su Lian Tan, Daniel Ott, and Jason Rigby.  In both painting and music Nucci tends to work largely in textures dealing with atonal concepts of musical form and grouping.  In music this palette is comprised of melodic counterpoint and harmonic language derived from her experience playing jazz and free music.

“Decline and Resolution” is her first piece for orchestra as well as her first political work in music.  It is a continuation of a project in painting on the erosion of The American Dream and Western Culture at large.  While following the news intently, seeing war and financial scandals and their resulting riots and protests worldwide, Nucci became increasingly motivated to say something about the geopolitical climate.  “Decline and Resolution” is an expression of the current economic collapse and the fall of Western society as it is presently known.  This movement is characterized in the piece as the churning and spiraling and its ultimate “resolution” as the last hiccup of the machine. The orchestra, unable to carry out a grandiose cadential texture like those in works of the past is similar to that of the economic struggle in the EU and those countries no longer being able to provide the previous amenities their citizens had come to expect when faced with austerity measures imposed by the European community at large.

Rep. Phil Miller Wants Genetically Modified Food Labeled

State Representative Phil Miller D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, & Haddam), the new Vice Chair of the legislature’s Environment Committee, would like Connecticut to be the first state in the nation to require the labeling of food containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

“Consumers have a right to know what is in their food,” said Miller. “When a parent buys fruit, they assume that they are bringing a natural snack home for their children, but that isn’t always the case these days. When we buy packaged foods, we can read the label and make an informed decision if we want to buy that product—so why shouldn’t parents know if fruit contains genetically modified ingredients?”

Legislation (HB 5117) introduced by the Environment Committee would require labeling of fruit, vegetables, and other genetically-engineered foods. It would also create best practices for GMO farming and preferences for food products that are voluntarily labeled to indicate whether they include genetically-engineered ingredients.

Miller noted that the only reason certain foods including fruit and vegetables were exempt from federal food labeling requirements was that when the laws were created there were no GMOs in foods.

“Fruit used to be just fruit. You knew if you bought an apple that is was an apple—plain and simple. Now you might be getting an apple that contains who knows what,” said Miller.

GMOs are products that have been genetically modified at the cellular level to increase yields and resist disease.  DNA molecules from different sources are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified genes.

Other states, including California, Vermont, and Washington, are considering similar legislation this year.

Miller, who will be taking part in a forum on GMOs at the State Capitol later this week, said he also be meeting and working with local farmers on the pending legislation.