October 25, 2014

Planning Commission Approves Foxboro Point Plan, with a “Public Access” Corridor

The beautiful view of the undeveloped Foxboro Point property

The Essex Planning Commission at its recent August 23 meeting approved a New York City developer’s plan to develop seven new home sites on eleven acres of land at Foxboro Point in Essex. However, the Commission’s approval came with one big caveat.

That is, that the developer must acquiesce to a “public access” corridor running across his property, from Foxboro Point Road down to the North Cove below. Furthermore, this “public access” path would run between the sixth and seven housing sites of the luxury development.

Map of the “public access” corridor outline in red on the Foxboro site plan

“Public access” means what it says. In this case it would mean that the general public could traverse along a path from the road to the water without anyone shoeing them away.  Picnics, and, theoretically, canoe launchings, sun bathing and even swimming at the end of the access path would be permissible.

However, realistically, canoe launching or swimming from where the “public access” trail meets the waters of North Cove is unlikely, as the water at that point is far too shallow to swim in, or to launch a canoe from.

No Permanent Buildings Permitted on Corridor

Also, no permanent building structures would be permitted on the corridor, and public activity could be limited to the daylight hours. It is also envisioned that the developer might deed the “public access” portion of his property over to the Essex Land Trust, or other third party, to manager. This is, of course, all dependent on the developer agreeing to the “public access” component of the Commission’s approval.

The shape of the “public access” path in the Foxboro development is somewhat contorted, in that roughly the top half of the path is a generous 75 feet wide, whereas the bottom half of the corridor narrows to 25 feet in width until it reaches the waters of North Cover.

Putting it another way, starting at Foxboro Point Road, the access path would be 75 feet wide for a length of 200 feet. Then, at its roughly middle point, the path’s width would shrink to 25 feet for another 260 feet, until it reaches North Cove.

These dimensions of the access path from the road to the water were provided by John Guskowski , Essex Town Planner.

Developer Has Until September 21st to Decide

New York City developer Frank Sciame has until September 21st, according to Guskowski, to accept or reject the Planning Commission plan with its “public access” component. Should the developer not accept the Commission’s approved plan, he could challenge the “public access” portion of the plan on legal grounds in court, or he could simply walk away from the whole venture.

The Essex Planning Commission decision to attach a “public access” requirement to its approval of the developer’s plan appears to have been made pursuant to the Town of Essex Subdivision Regulations, including Sections 5.8 and 6.1.

Constitutionality of “Public Access”Questioned

 However, at one of the proceedings during the Commission consideration of the Foxboro development, an attorney hired by one of the development site’s surrounding home owners, vigorously challenged the constitutional authority of Essex’s Subdivision Regulations regarding “open space” dedicated to “public access.”

However, because of the time that it would take to challenge the Town’s “open space” regulations in the courts, this might not be a choice that developer Sciame would want to make.

The proceeding of the Essex Planning Commission on August 23, according to press reports, was five hours long and entailed a one hour of closed executive session. However, there remains one ancillary question related to this proceeding.

Attorney Terrance Lomme’s Advice Is Crucial

The advice that Attorney Terrance Lomme gives his client, Frank Sciame, as to how to proceed with his application is crucial. For one thing, Lomme might acquaint Sciame with the painful history of the nearby Preserve development in Old Saybrook.

Probate Judge Terrance Lomme acting in his capacity as a counsel for the developer Frank Sciame

The developers of the Preserve have been trying to get their development underway for well over a decade, and there is yet not a single spade in the ground for this ambitious 1,000 acre project. In fact, the Preserve developer has now been reduced to trying to develop a small portion of the property that it owns on Essex’s Ingham Hill Road, and even there, the developer is being rigorously challenged by a deep pocket Essex businessman and homeowner.

The point is that ultimately the wisest choice for developer Sciame might well be to make a virtue out of necessity and accept the Planning Commission’s decision. Certainly, there could be creative ways to shield the “public access” corridor from its luxury home neighbors, especially for those living on the two parcels that are next to the access corridor.

Dense flowering hedges might be one such option. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that there will be jostling crowds using the “public access” pathway. Most likely on weekends a few souls might want to walk down the hill from Foxboro Point Road to the waters of North Cove just to take a look, but that would be about the size of it.

Truthfully, there are many other, better places to see the water along the Essex shore than this.

Finally, Sciame, has said that he, himself, might want live in one of the new houses that he is developing on Foxboro Point. He might even want to take one of the properties beside the “public access” pathway, just to show that it is not so bad after all.

 

 

Chester Town Meeting Approves Ambulance Purchase and Main Street Consultant

CHESTER— Voters at a town meeting Wednesday approved a $189,500 appropriation to purchase a new ambulance for the Chester Volunteer Ambulance Service and a $26,030 expenditure to hire a consultant for the Main street Project. About 10 residents, including town officials, turned out for the meeting to approve all of the agenda items on unanimous voice votes without discussion.
All of the expenditures authorized Wednesday were included in the current town budget and capital expenditure plan. Voters authorized an expenditure of $132,000 in undesignated surplus funds, including $25,000 for the 2013 townwide property revaluation, $32,000 for highway department equipment, and $75,000 in additional funding for the Main Street Project, a long-planned reconstruction of Main Street in the downtown village.
In a separate resolution, voters approved an expenditure of $26,030 to hire the Groton firm of Kent & Frost LLC to prepare a village center master plan to guide the Main Street Project that is expected to begin next year. Voters also approved the $189,500 expenditure for the new ambulance in a separate resolution.

Next Step is Unclear in Chester Backyard Burial Case

CHESTER— The next step remains unclear after a Connecticut Supreme Court decision last week sent the seven-year legal battle between the town and an elderly resident over a backyard burial back to the town zoning office where it began in 2005.

The court, in a 4-3 decision, directed Ellise Piquet to apply for a permit for the private burial of her late husband on her eight-acre residential property on South Wig Hill Road. Piquet, 82, had buried her husband, former World War II Royal Air Force Pilot John Shaboe Doll, on the property after his death in October 2004. The burial was done under the supervision of a licensed funeral director, but the state Department of Public Health later requested confirmation that a backyard burial was allowed under Chester Zoning Regulations.

The regulations did not address backyard burials, and the Chester Planning and Zoning Commission determined that such burials could not be allowed without a permit. The zoning enforcement officer issued a cease and desist order in 2005 that Piquet appealed to the town’s zoning board of appeals. The town later withdrew the cease and desist order without a formal public hearing before the ZBA to give Piquet an opportunity to resolve the issue with the state Department of Public Health.

Piquet filed suit in 2007 as the town continued to maintain that a private burial violated local zoning regulations and required a permit. After nearly five years of proceedings in Middlesex Superior Court and the Connecticut Appellate Court, the state Supreme Court heard arguments on the case last spring. The court majority determined that Piquet should have pursued an appeal to the ZBA before filing a lawsuit seeking a state court approval for the private burial.

William Gallagher, the New Haven lawyer representing Piquet, acknowledged Wednesday the Supreme Court decision had directed her to “start the whole process over again.” But Gallagher added that he is uncertain how Piquet wants to proceed with the case.

Gallagher said he had sent Piquet a letter explaining the decision, but has been unable to reach her by telephone in the week since the decision was issued on Aug. 22. “It’s her call as to how she wants to proceed but I have not heard from her,” Gallagher said, adding the elderly Piquet may not want to bring the issue to a public hearing before the zoning board of appeals as she was ready to do in 2005.

Gallagher said there are “several options,” to resolve the case, including exhuming Doll’s remains for burial elsewhere with his wife, or some agreement with the town that would allow Doll and Piquet to be buried on the South Wig Hill Road property.

Chester Village West Welcomes a New Executive Director

Bob Taylor, New Executive Director of Chester Village West

The residents and staff of Chester Village West, Chester’s senior living community, welcome Robert Taylor as the new Executive Director.  Bob is an executive with Life Care Services, the owner and manager of Chester Village West.  His most recent assignment was as an administrator at Blakehurst, another Life Care Services community in Baltimore, MD. Before coming to Life Care Services, Bob had extensive experience as a CEO and owner of a variety of apparel companies in the United States and Europe.

Bob’s transition to Chester Village West brings fresh ideas and energy to the community. He looks forward to becoming more involved with Chester and the surrounding towns. He is firmly committed to helping seniors and particularly, their families learn more about healthy and independent lifestyle opportunities. One of his goals is to provide information and counseling to families and for Chester Village West to become the source for that information.

Bob is originally from the northeast and is pleased to be back home with his family in Connecticut.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bob enjoys travelling and has been on every continent and in 27 countries. His other hobby interests include,  tennis, reading, and spending time with his family.

Please feel free to contact Bob at 860-526-6800 if you would like a personal tour or receive information about Chester Village West.  Chester Village West is located at 317 West Main Street in Chester, CT.

The Preserve Comes to Essex – Local Property Owners Take Action to Stop It

Lot 4, the knoll on which developers want a home site, and opponents see unacceptable runoffs

A “Grade A” controversy has broken out over a proposed new development on Ingham Hill Road in Essex. The proposed new development , which is sponsored by the developer of the now- stalled 1,000 acre Preserve in Old Saybrook, River Sound Development LLC, is now seeking to get town approvals for a new 36-acre, six lot development located on Ingham Hill Road in Essex.

Map of Ingham Hill Road development. The Essex/Old Saybrook boundary runs along the bottom

The property to be development in Essex abuts the town’s boundary with Old Saybrook, and it is on the right hand side of Ingham Hill Road, when looking up towards Plains Road (Route 153).

Neighbors Oppose Development

A group of three neighboring property owners on Ingham Hill Road are dead set against the proposed development, and at the August 23rd meeting of the Essex Planning Commission they filled an Intervention Pleading, so as to become a part of the approval process. This pleading was granted by the Planning Commission, which then entertained an almost two hour period for the interveners to make their case against the new development.

The Ingham Hill Road interveners were: Judith Bombaci, Kenneth Bombaci and Suellen McCuin.  The Bombacis are members of a well established family in Essex, and in fact there are no less than fifteen listings under “Bombaci” in the Essex section of YP Shoreline telephone directory. Ms McCuin has been a strong opponent of the development, since it was first announced.

Familiar “Bombaci Tree Experts” road sign on Plains Road.

Extensive Arguments Against the Project

Speakers who spoke in opposition to the Ingham Hill Road development were lead by the interveners’ attorney, Christopher J. Smith of the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin LLP in Hartford. Also, two Certified Professional Wetland Scientists from Rema Ecological Services, LLC,  (REMA), George T. Logan and Sigrun N. Gadwa, spoke against the project among other members of the interveners’ team.

Attorney Smith also submitted to the Planning Commission an “Opposition Packet,” which contained extensive written arguments against the new development, as well as typography charts of the development site prepared by the developer’s own engineer, Doane – Collins Engineering Associates, LLC, and professional biographies of the wetland scientists and Attorney Smith.

Air and Water Pollution Concerns Expressed

“We are in strong opposition to this subdivision,” Attorney Smith said in his testimony at the Essex Planning Commission hearing. “The property has significant natural resources,” he said, including “landmark trees” on the site, some of which are 120 to 140 years old.

Lot 2, the home site that the Essex Wetlands Commission rejected

Also, the interveners’ attorney said that the proposed Ingham Hill Road development, “will have, or is reasonably likely to have, the effect of causing the unreasonable pollution, impairment or destruction of the air, water or other natural resource of the State of Connecticut located on, and off, the subject property…”

In addition, the attorney made the troublesome charge that the developer of the Ingham Hill Road project had not disclosed during its  appearance at an earlier hearing of the Wetlands Commission, the project’s adverse effects from the “substantial clear cutting of landmark trees and vegetation, and site development including a septic system and dwelling immediately upland and in close proximity to an off-site pond and on-site intermittent watercourse …”

This “failure to disclose” charge could be a troubling for the developer, if it were proved that it failed to state significant environmental impacts of the project, which the Wetlands Commission was entitled to hear.  The Wetland Commission in an earlier proceeding approved the building of five of the six home sites proposed on the site, but disapproved of Lot 2 of the development.

Smith’s objections to the project were further amplified in a letter by Rema Ecological Services, LLC, of Manchester, Connecticut (REMA), to the Essex Planning Commission. The REMA letter asserted that “development of the subject property … would result in both short-term and long-term impacts … through sedimentation and surface water quality degradation.”

Spotted Turtles, Wood Frogs and Songbirds at Risk

In addition, the REMA letter asserted that, “Due to the taking of valuable upland habitats, including significant mature trees, and the fragmentation of the landscape, resulting in greatly reduced ecological integrity, wildlife resources at the site would be unreasonably impacted and impaired, including uncommon species such as the spotted turtle, a keystone species, such as the wood frog, and the whole guild of area-sensitive neotropical migrant songbirds.”

Also, REMA wetland scientists wrote that, “water resources, both on-site and off-site, will be impaired both during the construction phase, through erosion and sedimentation, and following it, by impairing surface water quality.”

Bombaci Pond Could Be Adversely Affected   

The REMA testimony mentioned that, “The proposed location of the house in Lot 5 is directly over a natural, frequently flowing stormwater conveyance channel that feeds the Bombaci Pond. The Bombaci Pond is visible from Ingham Hill Road and is an important part of the streetscape.”

Photo of Bombaci Pond. Members of Bombaci family challenged the development

One can speculate that the direct negative impact on the Bombaci Pond may have been a factor in motivating the Bombaci interveners to challenge the proposed development.

In conclusion, the REMA letter said, “With the possible exception of Lot 3, the lots in the proposed conventional subdivision are not feasible, in our professional opinion.”

The Developer’s Response to the Attacks on Its Project

At the conclusion of the presentation by those opposing the new development on Ingham Hill Road, the developer attorney, Brian Smith of the law firm of Robinson & Cole in Hartford, initially appeared to be taken aback by the drum role of hostile testimony against his client’s proposed development.

Smith, who is no relation to the interveners’ attorney, Stephen Smith, said to the Planning Commission that he hoped that he would be given the chance to respond to the attacks against his client’s proposed development at the next meeting of the Planning Commission on September 13. He also said that the developer needed the approval of at least six home sites “to make the project work.” Planning Commission Chairman Tom Danyliw assured Smith that he would be granted an opportunity to be heard at the next Commission hearing.

The 1,000 Acre Preserve Proposal Still Alive

In what turned out to be something of a coda to the hearing on the Ingham Hill Road development, a resident of Old Saybrook, who was at the Essex hearing, said that he wanted to make sure that the Commission understood that the proposed development in Essex was a part of the Preserve sponsor’s larger plan to develop its property in both Essex and Old Saybrook.

Chairman Danyliw treated the citizen intervener courteously, and allowed him to present a quick slide show to buttress his point that the Preserve developer still had long range plans to develop its 1,000 acre site in Old Saybrook, and that this proposed development in Essex, was just a part of this long range plan.

In fact, the interveners’ petition by Attorney Stephen Smith also took  note of the fact the developer’s Essex application, “is part of an overall site development of a 1,000 acre parcel, which involves, in part,  substantial stormwater discharge onto the subject  property and directly or indirectly into a watercourse or intermittent watercourse with a vernal pool habitat,” and, “thereby unreasonably impairing such resources.”

All this shows that in spite of over a decade of disappointments in its effort to develop its 1,000 acre parcel of virgin land in Old Saybrook,  that this attempt to develop its property in Essex, clearly demonstrates that the developer of what was once called the Preserve, has yet to give up, and go away.

Region 4 Schools Open Thursday with Three New Principals

REGION 4— Region 4 schools open Thursday for the 2012-2013 school year with three new principals, the start of full-day kindergarten and a veteran elementary school principal moving in to the position of assistant superintendent of schools.

In what may be the largest number of new administrators in the 60-year history of the Chester-Deep River-Essex district, there will be new principals on the job at John Winthrop Middle School and the elementary schools in Deep River and Essex. The new assistant superintendent is Joanne Beekley, who had served as principal at Essex Elementary School for the past eight years. Beekley replaces Ian Neviaser, a former principal at Valley Regional High School ,who held the job for two years before he was named as superintendent of schools for the Region 18 Lyme-Old Lyme school district last spring.

Beekley’s promotion created an opening at Essex Elementary School that is filled by Scott Jeffrey, a Connecticut native who is returning to his home state after working as an assistant principal at an elementary school in South Carolina.

The other two new principals were hired after retirements. Jennifer Byars, a Deep River resident is the new principal at Deep river Elementary School, replacing 13-year principal Jack Pietrick . The new principal at the middle school is William Duffy, who worked previously as assistant principal for a middle school in Glastonbury. Duffy replaces David Russell, who retired in June after  leading John Winthrop Middle School for 17 years. The two returning principals are Michael Barile at Chester Elementary School and Christina Martineau at Valley Regional High School.

The full-day kindergarten will begin at each of the three elementary schools. After two years of study and planning, district school boards decided that declines in student enrollment at the elementary schools would allow the district to implement full-day kindergarten at a minimal increase in costs and with classroom space available at the schools. Funding for the full-day kindergarten was included in the elementary school budgets that were approved by voters of the three towns at the annual budget votes in May.

While there are several new administrators, the number of new teachers and other certified staff at the schools is lower than in many previous years. There are three new staff at the high school, Michael Scott as the in-school suspension monitor, Jacquelyn Sullivan as the art teacher, and Joseph Moller as a one-third time Latin teacher.

New at the middle school are Denise Ripley teaching English, math tutor Lucy Hotkowski, special education teacher Dina Monaco, teaching assistant Felicia Ramsey, and school psychologist Mallory Coleman. The supervision district is funding two new half-time positions that are shared by all three elementary schools, special education teacher Nichol Stevens and music teacher Jennifer Bellizzi.

The only new staff at the elementary schools are para-educators, including Mara Lowry at Chester Elementary School, and Eve Grande, Gale Dilger, Bria Toolan, and Kelly Tracey at Essex Elementary School.

Pacileo Endorses Rails to Trails Proposal

Vincent A. Pacileo, III

AREAWIDE – Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for the 36th State House District, today announced his endorsement of the Rails to Trails proposal that would convert approximately 9.25 miles of Connecticut Valley Railroad track – running from Eagle Landing State Park in Tylerville north to Maromos in Middletown – to a multi-purpose trail that would be open to the public.  Currently, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) leases this stretch of track to the Valley Railroad.

Speaking in support of the proposal, Pacileo said, “It is a goal of my campaign to create an environment of opportunity for individuals, families, and business owners throughout the 36th District.  This is an excellent example of local residents driving an idea that will bring substantial benefits to the community. It is because of their demonstrated robust enthusiasm for the project that I know it will continue to gain momentum for success.”

“For many years, my family has enjoyed the year-round experiences that the Valley Railroad provides, particularly the unique riverfront views. We are all vested in its continued success as a destination for residents and visitors and must work cooperatively with the Valley Railroad by sustaining an ongoing dialogue that includes sound business planning. Using this approach, the Rails to Trails proposal is not only compatible with the Valley Railroad’s goals, but will enhance their operations as well. This is accomplished by generating more diverse marketing prospects while expanding ridership to bikers, hikers and those interested in exploring this portion of the Connecticut River and the Lower Connecticut River Valley.”

Pacileo continued, “The portion of track under consideration has remained unused for decades and is in disrepair. It is neither a sound business decision nor a practical application to use this track for freight or passenger traffic. As a result, the Rails to Trails proposal will provide a unique opportunity to bring both environmental and economic benefits to Haddam and the entire 36th District. If we work together, we can make this vision a reality.”

The 36th Assembly District is comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

 

Taste of the Valley 2012 – Sept 7

Deep River, CT – Taste of the Valley 2012 is an evening of passionate chefs creating incredible appetizers and desserts to benefit Tri-Town Youth Services. Circle the date – Friday, September 7, 2012 at 6:00 pm – and get your tickets TODAY!

Each year, our community gathers on a late summer evening on the beautiful grounds of the Deep River Historical Society to sample one tasty morsel after another from local restaurants and caterers. The 2012 Restaurants and Caterers are Apple Rehab Saybrook, Brushmill by the Waterfall, El & Ela’s, Essex Coffee & Tea, Gabrielle’s, La Vita Gustosa, Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station, Saybrook Soup and Sandwich, The Ivory Restaurant, Kathy Pindar from The Sweet Shoppe, Trapiche, and Truffle Shots. As part of the event, the Taste of the Valley Committee is excited to announce the theme for the silent auction, entitled “From The Hands of Our Community 2012: Harmony”. Every donated item or service in the auction will handmade or completed by hand inspired by the concept of “harmony”. There will also be a live auction. The live music will be provided by the Mass Conn Fusion.

You will also cast your ballot for the restaurant that takes home the coveted Taste of the Valley FORK! There will also be awards for Best Appetizer, Best Dessert, Best Presentation, and other categories.

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at Celebrations and Tri-Town Youth Services in Deep River or online. Note: This is event is for adults over the age of 21.

TASTE OF THE VALLEY 2012 is generously sponsored by The Valley Courier, The Clark Group, Middlesex Hospital, Dr’s. Elgart, Pinn, Gordon & Elgart Optometrists, Essex Savings Bank, Tower Labs, PCi Medical, Tom Alexa, Safety Zone, Bogaert Construction and many other local businesses.

For more information or tickets, contact Gail Onofrio at Tri-Town Youth Services at (860) 526-3600 or view our website: www.tasteofthevalley.blogspot.com. If you would like to be a sponsor or donate an item for our silent auction, send an email ttystov@gmail.com.

ABOUT – TRI-TOWN YOUTH SERVICES BUREAU, INC. is a nonprofit agency that coordinates, develops and provides services dedicated to promoting the positive growth and development of youth and families in Chester, Deep River and Essex, Connecticut. The Deep River Historical Society is located at 245 Main Street, Deep River, CT.

Deep River P & Z Approves New Uses for Commercial Building at 246 Main Street

DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission has approved three new uses for the vacant commercial building at 246 Main Street. The panel granted a quick approval for the special permit after an Aug. 16 public hearing where no one objected to the plans.
Local resident Andrea Chiapa has been granted approval to open a dress shop, a flower shop, and a cupcake cafe in the building at the intersection of Main Street (Route 154) and Union Street. The building, which previously housed an Irish gifts shop, has been vacant for more than two years.
Commission Chairman Jonathan Kastner said the only conditions attached to the permit approval are related to traffic flow and the number of curb cuts on Main Street and Union Street. Kastner said the goal is to direct traffic in and out of the new businesses to Main Street, and away from the residential Union Street where there is another entrance to the property.

Jim Crawford’s Campaign Responds to Partisan Attack

WESTBROOK — Less than 48 hours after the conclusion of Tuesday’s primary elections, Jim Crawford, the Democratic candidate for State Senate from the 33rd District, was hit with a partisan attack from his Republican opponent. The negative statement attempted to begin the general election campaign by making political hay of a recent tragedy in Meriden, CT.

Crawford’s campaign manager David Steuber responded with the following statement:

“It is very disappointing that Mr. Linares has chosen to begin his general election campaign by choosing a partisan attack fueled by the more extreme members of his party, which attempts to score points on a recent tragedy,” Steuber said.

The messaging on the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program began with State Sen. Len Suzio, who promptly had to apologize for racially insensitive language when first making his case on the issue. Suzio also asked for assistance freeing an inmate under the program who was convicted of embezzlement.

“Had Mr. Linares asked ranking Republican leaders who voted for the bill, he would have learned that it saved taxpayers millions in incarceration costs, and actually increased the length of time served by criminals like the Meriden suspect.”

In the Meriden case which Mr. Linares raises, Rep. Crawford’s vote resulted in the accused individual serving more time than he otherwise would have: 91% of his full sentence, rather than only 85% under preexisting law. Ranking Republicans in the General Assembly voted in both the Appropriations Committee and the Judiciary Committee to create the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program.

Forty five of 50 states, including Texas, already have similar cost-saving legislation on the books.

“It’s a shame to see Mr. Linares begin this general election campaign with such a partisan attack. We just finished a very civil, respectful primary this summer. I hope the Republicans will give some consideration to that example for the fall,” said Steuber.

Talking Transportation: Metro-North’s Ticket Rules Are a Rip-off

Metro-North’s “new and improved” fare policy taking effect on September 4th is neither new nor improved.  It continues to be a rip-off of riders.

Until 2010, you could buy a one-way or round-trip ticket and use it anytime within 90 days.  Convenient ten trip tickets were good for a year.  And unused tickets could be refunded anytime for free.

Then, in December of 2010, things changed for the worse:  one-way tickets were only good for 14 days and ten-trips for six months.  Refund any ticket and you’d be hit with a $10 service fee.

Why the change?  Metro-North admitted it wasn’t able to collect all tickets on trains and was losing money.  So rather than staff trains with enough conductors to collect tickets, they thought it wiser to penalize passengers.

How did these faster-expiring tickets hurt?  In many ways:

Some passengers who bought ten trip tickets for occasional trips found they’d expired, leaving them with four or five unused rides costing $10 or more apiece.  Ouch!

That was a mistake you’d only make once, so those passengers then abandoned the 30 – 40% savings of ten-trip tickets and had to buy one-ways.  Ka-ching!

That means many passengers must buy a new ticket before every trip, which means getting to the station early and standing in line.

But while passengers were inconvenienced and lost money under the new rules, Metro-North scored a windfall of millions of dollars in additional revenue… some of it, perhaps, from previously uncollected tickets, but how much more from tickets bought in good faith but unused because they had expired?

And $10 to refund a ticket?  By whose accounting?  The same agent who handles refunds doesn’t charge $10 to sell a ticket, so why charge for a refund?

The Commuter Council representing LIRR riders has a better idea:  tickets sold could not be refunded, but neither would they expire.

This September 4th, responding to “massive complaints” from riders, the rules will change, but only slightly:  one-way and roundtrip tickets will then be good for 60 days, not 14.  But ten trips are still worthless after six months.

To my thinking, tickets should never expire.  If there’s a fare increase, pay the difference between the old fare and the new one.  Otherwise, if you’ve paid for a ticket, you can take the ride. Period.

Conductors should do their jobs, placing seat-checks when tickets are collected so they know when new passengers get aboard and can then collect their tickets.  How often have you seen a conductor walk through a train crying, “Stamford tickets,” as the newly boarded commuters avoid eye contact?

Watching someone board at Stamford who doesn’t pay their fare is like watching someone shoplift.  We all pay for their theft.

The new M8 cars mean more seats and fewer standees.  It’s a rare Friday afternoon train that’s packed so tight a conductor can’t move through to collect tickets.  If you ride a train where fares aren’t collected you should report it.  A well paid Metro-North conductor hiding in their booth from angry passengers instead of collecting their fares is unacceptable.

We already pay the highest commuter rail fares in the US.  These unfair Metro-North ticket rules just make commuting less convenient and more expensive.

JIM CAMERON has been a commuter out of Darien for 21 years.  He is Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council, and a member of the Coastal Corridor TIA and the Darien RTM.  You can reach him at CTRailCommuterCouncil@gmail.com or www.trainweb.org/ct .  For a full collection of “Talking Transportation” columns, see www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

 

Chester Town Meeting to Consider Approval for New Ambulance

CHESTER— Voters will be asked at a town meeting Wednesday to approve funding for purchase of a new ambulance, the Main Street Project, and next year’s town-wide property revaluation. The town meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Chester Meeting House on Liberty Street.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said Friday funding for all of the items on Wednesday’s agenda is included in the current town budget and capital expenditure plan or the undesignated fund, with a town meeting vote needed for transfers and expenditure of the funds. Meehan said $132,000 was left unexpended from the 2011-2012 town budget, partly due to less spending for snow removal during the mild winter.

Voters will be asked to authorize transfers and expenditures of the surplus funds, including $75,000 for the Main Street Project, $32,000 for purchase of equipment for the highway department, and $25,000 for the town-wide property revaluation that must be completed in 2013. Bids for the property revaluation will be opened on Sept. 6.

Meehan said the $75,000 for the Main Street Project will add to, but not fully complete, the funding package for the long-planned reconstruction of Main Street in the downtown village. The town has applied for a $300,000 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant that would complete the funding package for the project.

Wednesday’s town meeting agenda also includes authorization of an expenditure of $26,030 to pay the Groton firm of Kent & Frost LLC to prepare a village and town center district master plan that will be used to guide the project. The appointed Main Street Committee and the board of selectmen approved hiring of the firm as project consultant earlier this summer. Voters at the meeting will also be asked to approve an expenditure of $189,000 to purchase a new ambulance for the Chester Volunteer Ambulance Service.

One item that is not on Wednesday’s agenda is action on an agreement with Essex Savings Bank for lease of the vacant ground floor space at town hall. Meehan said Friday negotiations with the bank on a lease agreement are “moving forward,” with the board of selectmen expected to act on a proposed agreement at its Sept. 4 meeting. The agreement would also need approval from the board of finance before it is presented to voters for final approval at a town meeting expected early this fall.

Free Concert, Opera in the Park Aug 30

“Opera in the Park” is a free concert presented by Salt Marsh Opera on Thursday, August 30 (rain date August 31), at 6:30 PM on the Old Saybrook Town Green, adjacent to the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main Street.

Baritone Kyle Pfortmiller and Soprano, Laura Pfortmiller will perform duets and arias from the works of Verdi, Puccini, and other grand opera composers. Accompanist is Cathy Venable.  According to Artistic and Executive Director Simon Holt, “Pack a picnic, bring a chair and enjoy a glorious summer evening of your opera favorites under the stars courtesy of the Salt Marsh Opera.”

Sponsors of “Opera in the Park” are the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, the Economic Development Commission – Town of Old Saybrook, and the Essex Savings Bank.  Wilma Asch of Old Saybrook’s Economic Development Commission is the Event Coordinator.

 

Deep River Fire Department Juniors Attend Connecticut Fire Academy

For one week this summer Deep River Fire Department Junior Division members Zachariah Scalandunas, Roger Clapp, John Kollmer Jr. attended the Introduction to the Fire Service Academy and the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks.

The CT Fire Academy course is offered by the State of Connecticut Commission on Fire Prevention and Control to young men and women 14-17 years of age who are actively involved in their local fire department. The 16-17 year olds attended in June and the 14-15 year olds attended in July. To date, almost every Deep River Junior Division member has attended this Academy.

During their week at the Academy, the juniors are treated as actual academy cadets and are taught in a paramilitary setting. They all had to wear the same training uniform everyday and address their instructors as sir or madam.  The cadets were taught everything from the command structure of a fire department to the operations on a fire ground and their typical day was from 6:00am to 10:00pm with most of their training at the Academy’s state of the art training grounds. These grounds have a fire house with a pumper, rescue and ladder truck, a 5 story training tower/building, propane fired vehicle simulators and burn trailers for live fire training.

At the end of the week the cadets participated in a graduation ceremony with a Deep River Fire Department Officer presenting them with their certificate of completion with their family in attendance. After the ceremony the cadets themselves put on a live response demonstration of fire at the tower to showcase their weeks training. Each cadet was assigned to a truck or rescue company and all worked together under their commanding officer, which was another cadet chosen by the group.

Upon completion of this Academy the cadets can apply for the Advanced Introduction to the Fire Service Academy held for one week in August every summer. Juniors must be 16 years old to attend this course and the cadets learn more advanced firefighting skills, such as vehicle extrication, etc. Jessica Grote attended the advanced academy and graduated in August.

The Deep River Fire Department is very proud to have their juniors complete this course and they are our next generation of fire services members.

DRFD Junior Graduates

Zachariah Scalandunas – 16

Roger Clapp – 16

John Kollmer Jr. – 15

Jessica Grote – Age unknown

 

Linares Invites Opponent to Join Call to Suspend Early Release Program

Art Linares, candidate for State Senate in the 33rd district

Art Linares, candidate for State Senate in the 33rd district, last week urged his opponent to join him in asking Governor Dannel Malloy to suspend the early release program for violent criminals.

“The cold-blooded murder of Ibrahim Ghazal on June 27th was tragic proof that early release is a threat to our community,” said Linares.  “Public safety must be the first priority of government.  I urge Governor Malloy to suspend this misguided program immediately, and I urge Representative Crawford to join me in that demand.”

Under the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program, violent felons—including armed robbers, arsonists, terrorists, rapists, and repeat sex offenders—are eligible for early release from prison if they attend certain classes and meet other bureaucratic criteria.  Frank Resto, accused of the murder of Mr. Ghazal, was released under the program, despite a history of violent behavior in prison.

“I don’t know what Representative Crawford was thinking when he voted to let these criminals out early,” said Linares.  “Not only did he support the bill, but he voted against amendments that would have removed sex offenders and violent criminals from the program.

“Whatever his reasoning, now that we’ve seen the results of this policy, it’s time to do the right thing and suspend the program.  Meanwhile we are all in danger, and I honestly believe it’s only a matter of time until early release results in another horrific attack.

“It’s clear that oversight and review required to make such a program work safely simply aren’t in place.  Until that happens—and until the legislature has a chance to revisit the topic next session—we should keep violent criminals behind bars until their sentences are served.

“I believe that’s what the people of this district want—it’s what I will work for as a State Senator, and what I believe has to happen now.”

The Chester Library Offers a Big Welcome in a Small Space

A patron entering the small and historic Chester Public Library

Visiting the Chester Public Library is more like visiting the home of a friend than going to a public facility. Head Librarian Linda Fox, who greets visitors from behind the main library desk, is the perfect hostess. In fact, most of her conversations with visitors go on for awhile, before the topic of taking out a book is mentioned.

Chester Head Librarian Linda Fox (left) with Board Chairperson Terry Schreiber (right) at the main desk

“The library is like a family room,” Fox says, “where you can find something that people are interested in.” As for her role as Head Librarian she says, “If you can’t be welcoming and friendly, you should not be here.”

In addition to her greeting skills, professionally, Fox holds a Masters Degree in Library Services from Emory University, and she has been in charge of Chester’s library for almost a decade.

The Challenges of a Very Small Library

As director of the Chester library, Fox faces the challenges of being in charge of a very small library. In fact, the library is so small that there is room for only one public computer. The smallness of the Chester Library has also meant that many Chester residents go to the Deep River library, “because it has more computers,” Fox points out.

Head Librarian Fox in the upstairs adult room amidst patrons of the Chester library

In fact, the Deep River library estimates that as many as 2,700 Chester and other towns’ residents are making use of Deep River’s computers and other services. There is also the factor that the Chester library has less than 2,000 square feet of space, whereas the Deep River library offers 6,000 square feet of space to its patrons.

You immediately feel the limits of space, as you enter the Chester library.  After the entrance alcove, you come up to the library’s main desk with its attendant librarian. From there, a small children’s reading room is on your left, and a small adult reading room is on your right. The walls of both rooms are bulging with books. The library’s sole public computer is next to the main desk.

Behind the main desk there is also a cramped area for administration functions.  Also, in addition to upper main floor of the library, there is a lower floor as well. On the landing, on the way down the stairs to this lower floor, there is “snuggled in” the books of the library’s Young Adult collection.

The steps to the lower floor of the library are steep and narrow, and it is evident that they are not handicap accessible. In fact, Fox herself admits that the steps to the lower floor of the library “may not be up to code.”

Very steep stairs to lower floor of Chester library. Young Adult books are “snuggled in” on mid-stair landi

The lower floor of the library houses most of the library’s adult reading collection, and this subterranean space is certainly more spacious than that of the crowded, first floor above.  “Meetings and quiet study space is located on the lower level as well,” the Head Librarian notes.

Though the space for books at the Chester library is admittedly limited, Fox says, “As you can see, we put a lot of stuff in here.”

A  Small and Busy Library

For all its space limitations the Chester Library has a steady stream of visitors. As for favorite books, the Head Librarian says that, “most books taken out are current fiction, although not by much. Also, cook books and garden books are always popular.”

Furthermore, if the library does not have a book on its shelves that is wanted by a patron, it can be requested from the interlibrary loan system. With interlibrary loans, Fox says, “We can get books from all over the state and beyond, including even books from the Library of Congress.”

In addition to being a place for books, “The library is a gathering place, which is important,” the director says.

Staffing and Hours at the Library

The Chester library has a staff of four. Head Librarian Linda Fox is full time, and the other three staff librarians are part time. Pam Larson is in charge of interlibrary loans, which is a big operation at the Chester library. In addition, Patty Petrus is the Children’s librarian, and Leigh Basilone is the Circulation Librarian.

Librarian Patty Petrus helps Patron Walt Smith find books for his European trip on the library’s lower floor

The hours of operation at the Chester library are: Monday 10am to 8pm; Tuesday 2pm to 6pm, Wednesday 10am to 6pm, Thursday 2pm to 8pm, Friday 10am to 6pm, Saturday l0am to 2 pm. Also, the library is CLOSED on Sundays and on Tuesdays from July l to Labor Day.

A Larger Chester Library in the Future?

Because of the admittedly small physical space of the Chester library, there have been some preliminary discussions about the feasibility of expanding the library building. The purpose of such an expansion would be to afford greater physical accessibility at the library, as well as to add additional space. These discussions have proceeded to the point where an architectural firm has been retained, and a number of expansion scenarios have been discussed with the firm.

The present classical building of the Chester Public Library is truly one of the town’s architectural highlights. The library building was built in 1907, and it has been a library for the public for 105 years. In any expansion plan, “Most people want to preserve the present space as a library,” Fox says. “Some people would like to build a whole new space for the library, but they are in the minority.”

The land on which the library sits was deeded to the town for a library by the church next door.  Also, the parking lot next to the library, which is used by library patrons, belongs to the church next door as well. This fact would make the church, the United Church of Chester, “an important stakeholder in any discussions of expansion,” Library Director Fox observes.

Off Site Programs of the Chester Library

In addition to the special programs held at the library, one of which, just recently included a ‘live” goat, other library programs are held at locations throughout the town of Chester. Among these program sites are the church next door and the Chester Meeting House. “We spread out our library functions,” is the way Fox puts it.

In contrast to the strictly public accessibility of the present Chester library, “formerly, the old library societies were largely private,” Fox points out. Testing the director, as to whether there was any anti-slavery sentiment in Chester before the Civil War, director Fox found the following account in a book entitled the “Chester Scrapbook.”

“On August 15, 1839, another library association was formed with twenty-four men and women members. They met at the house of widow Huldah Dunk Silliman … This library seems to have been more abolitionist than literary. Its constitution had a long preamble in regards to the evils of slavery, after which it stated … the object of the association … shall be to procure books that may be read by ALL persons who may be serious of receiving information on the subject of American Slavery.”

Head Librarian Linda Fox dug up this account in a matter of minutes from the materials that are on hand at the Chester library. It all goes to show that though the library may indeed be small, when it comes to knowledge of the history of Chester, among many other topics, the Chester Public Library knows just where to find it.

Town Meeting Set on Essex Volunteer Firefighter Merit Service Plan

ESSEX— Voters will be asked at a Sept. 5 town meeting to approve an enhancement to the town’s existing merit service pension benefit for volunteer firefighters. The change, endorsed by the board of selectmen last week, would increase the  monthly pension stipend for qualifying volunteers from the current $15 per month to $16.65 per month. It would be the first increase in the pension stipend since the plan began in 1992.
Volunteers must have at least 10 years of active service in the Essex Volunteer Fire Company. The plan provides the current $15, or the proposed $16.65, per month for each year of vested service after ten years. The current maximum pension payment is $450 per month. If approved by voters at the town meeting, the maximum payment would increase to $500 per month.
Essex volunteer firefighters may also qualify for a property tax abatement under a separate program offered by the town to attract and retain volunteers for the department. Firefighters earn points for active participation under guidelines established bny the fire company to qualify for an abatement of up to $1,000 deducted off a firefighters annual property tax bill.
Voters at the town meeting will also be asked to approve an amendment to the retirement plan for town employees that designates the appointed retirement committee, and ultimately the elected board of selectmen, as the bodies charged with attempting to resolve any disputes related to an employees retirement benefit.
The Sept. 5  town meeting to vote on the firefighters merit service enhancement and the proposed amendment to the town retirement plan is set for 7 p.m. at town hall. The town meeting will be preceded by a public hearing on both agenda items that begins at 6:30 p.m.

Chester Library Book Discussion Group Popular with Students

On two evenings in August, several dozen Valley Regional students gathered at the Chester Library to discuss one of the books on their school’s required summer reading list with Chester resident Sally Murray. Shown above are a few of the attendees, left to right, David Ramage, Megan Winslow, Morgan Winslow, Kenna Campbell and Ben Bourez.

A pizza supper followed the book discussion at the library for Valley Regional students. Shown here is Anastasia Cusack-Mercedes of Chester

By attending the discussion, students received a certificate from the library to turn in to the school.

Sally Murray led the high school book discussion evenings at the library

Letter: McMahon Has Made Her Case with the GOP in CT

To the Editor,

Linda McMahon’s big win on Tuesday removed all doubt that Linda has made her case with the GOP in Connecticut.  Both the convention of the ‘establishment’ GOP and the wider base of Connecticut’s Republican voters have enthusiastically endorsed Linda.

Linda has been making the broader argument for all of Connecticut’s voters that her opponent, Chris Murphy, promises more of the same while Linda brings the promise of shaking things up with only her constituents and – not special interests – to serve.

There has been some argument, over the years, as to the attendance record of Chris as a representative.  I don’t care so much whether he’s in attendance; it’s his voting record (98% alignment with Nancy Pelosi) that prompts me to work for Linda.

I have many close friends who supported Shay’s campaign (my husband, for one). I know it is hard to recover from a loss to a candidate you don’t support. Here in Connecticut, we’ve all had that experience. If you think that Linda doesn’t have all the answers, then my suggestion is that you speak directly to her.  Linda is absolutely approachable. She’s far more likely to listen to your concerns, understand what you are saying and actually respond directly to you than Chris Murphy who filters his support through the special interests that put him into office.

I like Linda personally and I like Linda’s promise to put Connecticut back to work.

Sincerely,

Jerri MacMillian
Essex

Letter: Klinck Thanks Voters

To the Editor:

I want to take this opportunity to thank all my supporters in this past  33rd State Senate race. I met and talked to many voters and enjoyed it tremendously. I knew it was an uphill battle against an endorsed candidate but  I wanted to take on the challenge. I am glad I did. I am proud to have run a clean and honest campaign. Now that the Democratic voters have had the  opportunity to choose their candidate, we must now support the truly endorsed democratic candidate Jim Crawford in the November election.

Let’s keep the state senate democratic to help the middle  class, seniors,small business and  the environment.

Thank you for the opportunity to run.

A sincere thank you

 Mary Ellen Klinck

 

Mary Ellen Klinck Endorses Jim Crawford for State Senate

EAST HADDAM — Following the conclusion of Tuesday’s State Senate primary election, challenger Mary Ellen Klinck offered her endorsement and support to Democratic candidate Jim Crawford. Crawford thanked Klinck for a hard-fought, yet entirely civil and respectful primary.

Mary Ellen Klinck said, “I want to take this opportunity to thank all of my supporters. I met so many voters, and enjoyed it enormously. Both sides worked very hard this summer, and ran a good, respectful campaign that all can be proud of. The voters have had their say, and Jim Crawford is now the Democratic candidate. I will be supporting Jim this fall, and I hope all of my supporters will do the same. Now is the time for everyone to come together, and work to rebuild Connecticut’s economy and create more jobs for the middle class.”

Jim Crawford said, “I want to publicly extend my thanks to Mary Ellen Klinck for what proved to be a spirited yet entirely civil primary campaign over these past few months. As I have said before, Mrs. Klink is an excellent public servant and businesswoman, entirely deserving of all the support she received on Tuesday. We had a very friendly conversation Tuesday night. I wish her well in everything, and look forward to benefitting from her support this fall.”

Crawford added, “As a retired teacher and small business owner, I know that we need to do more to help businesses grow and thrive in our state, and to help young people get off to a good start in life. I hope all of Mary Ellen Klinck’s loyal supporters will join me in that cause.”

Jim Crawford is the Democratic candidate for State Senate from the 33rd District. He is a recently retired public school teacher and small business owner, currently serving his first term as a State Representative.

The 33rd Senatorial District is comprised of twelve towns which stretch from the shore of Long Island Sound up the Connecticut River toward the center of the state: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Deep River Library Is an Ideal Place to Read a Book or a Newspaper, Even with Reports of Ghosts on the Premises

Deep River Library building at 150 Main Street, Deep River

The Deep River Library is a typical small town library. Occupying the entire first floor of 150 Main Street in Deep River, it offers a lot of quiet time to read without distractions. In addition to the many favorite books on its shelves, the 6,000 square foot library has 42,500 items, including e-books, DVD’s, magazines and newspapers and audio books.

Also, if a patron cannot find a wanted item on the library’s shelves, it can usually be found through the inter-library loan.

The Director of the Deep River Library is Ann Paietta, who has held this post since 1999, some 13 years. In her experience in lending out books, she says, “I have found that most people still want a book in their hands.” “It is difficult to flip through the pages of an e-book,” she observes.

Long serving Library Director, Ann Paietta

Library’s Annual Budget Is $140,000 a Year

The Deep River Library has a modest budget of $140,000 a year. Also, the Friends of the Library, who have a one room headquarters upstairs, raise monies to get free passes for patrons to attend local attractions, and for other special programs.

Paietta is the only full time employee at the library, and she is assisted by a part time staff of six. Also, some 4,400 Deep River residents hold Deep River library cards, as do 2,700 residents from the neighboring town of Chester.

Assistant Librarian Susan Oehl, who binds the battered books of the library

The library is open Monday and Wednesday from 1pm to 8pm; Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10am to 6pm; and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. During July and August hours on Saturday are 10am to 2pm. It is not open on Sundays.

Many Special Programs at the Library

The Deep River Library hosts many special programs throughout the year. For those interested in attending these programs, it might be helpful to record dates and times in a personal calendar.

Here are the library’s programs with their days and times:

  • Tuesday Friends, ages 3 and up, every Tuesday at 2pm
  • Parent/Infant Group, parents and caregivers with their babies and children up to 24 months, every Thursday at 11am
  • Knitting Club, knitting items for charity (beginners welcome), every Wednesday at 6:30pm
  • Daytime Book Discussion, on third Wednesdays of each month at 1pm
  • Movies and a Pizza, on third Mondays of each month at 5:30pm
  • Foreign Films, on first Fridays of each month at 7:30pm. (Many of   the films have subtitles, and films have been in French, Spanish, Lebanese and Hebrew)
  • Shakespeare Club, on the second and fourth Mondays of each month (Paietta says, “It’s fun. They read the parts of the plays out loud.”)

The following two programs are only held during the school year.

  • Mother and Daughter Book Group, last Monday of each month at 5pm
  • Comic Book Club, every Thursday at 3:30pm

Again, to keep track of the days and times of these programs, it would be a good idea to put them in a personal calendar.

Teddy Bear Picnic Coming Up

In addition to these programs, Deep River Library’s grand, annual “Teddy Bear Picnic” is coming up on Tuesday, August 21. The picnic begins at 11am and is held at the Gazebo at Deep River Landing. Children with their parents are invited to picnic.

Also, the picnic is a “BYOB” affair. That does not mean “Bring Your Own Bottle,” but rather, “Bring Your Own Bear.” Twenty or more children and adults are expected to attend the event, which will include a simple lunch at no charge. Deep River resident Linda Hall is running the show.

In addition to its regular programs, the library hosts guest speakers and local authors, such as Jane Manning, who recently wrote a children’s book entitled “Millie Fierce.”

Presently, favorite new books at the library are, “The Chaperone” and “Gone Girl.” “Gone Girl” is about a woman’s murder, and it is very popular,” the director says.

Among the library’s regular patrons, “A lot of men come into the library just to read,” the library director says.

Also, non-English speaking people are coming into the Deep River Library. Most are Spanish speakers, Paietta says. For those library visitors who want to strengthen their English, literacy volunteers, regularly tutor at the library.

One thing that you will not find at the library is copies of the New York Times. Paietta says, “You cannot have everything,” and also, “It is expensive,” referring to the subscription price of the Boston Edition of the Times.” However, the library does subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, although not to the Financial Times.

Both the New York Times and the Financial Times are available at the neighboring library in Essex.

Historic “New Era” Newspapers at Library

One hidden gem at the Deep River Library is that it has on microfilm back copies of the “New Era,” a local newspaper that was published from 18 47 to 1977. Only the Connecticut State Library has a similar copy of this historic publication. The “New Era” newspaper covered events in Old Saybrook and surrounding towns. “Some horrible things happened back then,” says Paietta, referring to some of the local news stories that she has read in the “New Era.”

As for the Town of Deep River’s support for the library, Paietta says that Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith is “very supportive of the library.”

Ghosts at the Deep River Library

Library Director Paietta says that in past years, as many as 30 times, people have reported evidence of ghosts on the premises of the Deep River Library.

Portrait of Robert Spencer, one of the library’s ghosts?

Although she personally will not commit herself, as to whether she believes that there are spirits roaming around the library during the night time hours, she does say, “Some people have said that they have seen evidence of the presence of the ghost of Robert Spencer, whose private home the library building used to be.” Spencer died in 1910.

Also, the smell of Spencer’s cigars and cigarette’s has been reported, as has the smell of the lavender soap used by his second wife. In addition,  there have been spooky sightings of a woman coming down the stairs, and other “weird things happening,” the director says.

Although there was a time, when she allowed night time visitors into the library searching for ghosts, she says that now, “I have kind of stopped it.”

“They used to stay all night, “she says of the once allowed, ghost seekers. Summing it up, “People believe what they want to,” she says. As for the ghosts, “The kids love it.”

 

Community Picnic to Honor Fifth Class of Chester Pillars, Aug. 19

2012 Pillars of Chester Honorees. Front row, Gloria Eustis, Sylvia Miksa, Susan Wright. Second row, Denise Learned and Harvey Redak (photo courtesy of Caryn B. Davis)

Five more Pillars of Chester — residents who have helped improve the quality of life in our town — will be honored at a community picnic on Sunday, August 19, at 5 p.m., on the Meeting House green. So bring dinner (and dancing shoes) and prepare to toast:

Sylvia Miksa, a Chester native, has been a member of the Chester Hose Company for 40 years, and president of its auxiliary for 20 of those.  She was a member of the Chester Garden Club and a Girl Scout leader.  She is proud of her family ties to the town, and her two children, Nicole and Ryan.

Harvey Redak has been on the boards of the Chester Historical Society, Camp Hazen, the Robbie Collomore Music Series and Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek. He has been on the town finance commission, and the Cedar Lake Management Advisory committee. He is the leader of Max’s Birthday Band, that has played at many community functions.

Susan Wright has been a Girl Scout and Boy Scout leader, a longtime member (and president for two years) of Chester Rotary, co-chair of Chester Economic Development, and helps co-ordinate the annual tree lighting and caroling by Chester Elementary School singers. She has been chairman of the Womanless Beauty Pageant, and works on behalf of BRAYCE, a Chester charity devoted to helping American and Brazilian children.

Denise Learned has been executive director of Camp Hazen since 1999, and in that time has overseen the growth of the camp and has forged close connections with the town of Chester, and more opportunities for its children and the community at large. Under her leadership the camp has become international — making our town’s facility a model of diversity. She was previously director of the Shoreline Soup Kitchen.

Gloria Eustis worked for 18 years at the Chester Library, most of that time as chief librarian.  Under her leadership our library became part of the statewide library network, making loans from other libraries much easier. She helped established a book discussion program that has run for 16 years, and still volunteers and at library and offers her lovely gardens for fund raisers.

The picnic, which always has music, too, this year features Max’s Birthday Band, led by Harvey Redak, and featuring Dan Bernier on guitar and vocals, Jon Joslow on drums, Randy Allinson on bass, and Lary Bloom on keyboard. The band plays American standards as well as blues.

I am often asked about the motivation for starting the Chester Pillars program, and was reminded during some of the crazy monsoon weather we had this spring of the first Pillars event five years ago this August. I had only lived in Chester a few years but had been embraced from the start and wanted very much to give something back to the town and people who had welcomed me.

The question of how to bring the long time residents of Chester together with the newer residents such as myself fit naturally into my idea of a town-wide picnic at the Meeting House. That idea then became a platform to recognize people whose impact on the quality of life in Chester deserved recognition by paying tribute and giving thanks to them.

We have taken nominations from all of the town’s institutions, including the Selectman’s Office, Chester Library, Hose Company, Merchants, Historical Society, Land Trust and three religious institutions, Chester Rotary and others.

There are so many to thank, but I’d like to single out for special praise, Jeff Nelson, Sandy Dauer, Lynne Jacques, Linda Fox, Susan Wright and Charles Greeney, ( a former Pillar) Chief of the Chester Hose Company, for always supporting the event by providing a grill for the picnic.

(In case of rain, the event will be held inside the Meeting House.)

Essex Seeks $471,500 State Grant for Town Hall Parking Lot and Tennis Court Improvements, Chester Seeks Grant for Main Street Project

ESSEX/ CHESTER—  Essex has applied for a $471,500 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant for improvements to the town hall parking lot, tennis courts, and children’s playscape on Grove Street, while officials in Chester are seeking a $300,000 STEAP grant to help fund the Main Street project.

A total of $20 million in state funding is available in tre 2012-2013 fiscal year for the grant program that is intended to assist smaller towns with major projects and economic development efforts that also benefit the surrounding region. Chester, Essex, and Deep River have been awarded STEAP grants for an array of projects ranging from road and sidewalk improvements to a new boat launch since the program was first funded in 2002.

Contending the town hall and adjacent Grove Street Park, along with the Essex Public Library across the street represent a “civic campus” that hosts a variety of charitable and tourism-related events, Essex is seeking funding to reconstruct the town hall parking lot, including a reconfigured entrance, and pave an existing gravel parking area to provide spaces for 22 additional vehicles. The application also seeks funding to resurface the existing tennis courts including lighting, and replace an existing playscape with a new handicapped accessible playscape. The town has proposed providing $15,000 in funding and services for the project that is estimated to cost a total; of $486,000.

Chester is seeking $300,000 to help complete the funding package for the long-planned Main Street Project, which includes reconstructing most of Main Street in and near the downtown village. The town already has a $200,000 grant for the project that was awarded in 2009, along with $370,000 in funding set aside by the town.

Town officials are hoping to use about $325,000 remaining from a 2010 grant to construct a new public public water line in the area of Denlar Drive off Route 154 for the Main Street project. The water line extension, which is funded by a total $500,000 STEAP grant, was completed this summer. Combining the requested new $300,000 grant with the available funding would provide the estimated $1.25 million that is needed to complete the Main Street project.

Town officials are expected to receive notice later this year on whether the grant applications have been approved for funding.

Linares Urges Governor To Suspend Early Release Of Violent Criminals Blasts Crawford For Voting For Dangerous and Irresponsible Program

Art Linares, R-33, candidate for State Senator

Art Linares, R-33, candidate for State Senator, today urged Gov. Dannel Malloy to suspend the Risk Reduction Earned Credit (RREC) program, in light of a recent murder committed by a repeat violent criminal let out of prison early under the program.

“This tragedy has caused serious concern throughout the state about the wisdom of the program and the method of its implementation,” Linares wrote in his letter to the governor. “Because public safety must be our first priority, I urge you to suspend the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program, pending an investigation into its procedures and a thorough review by the legislature next year.”

“What was State Representative Jim Crawford thinking when he voted for this reckless program? He stood with the apologists for violent criminals, and against public safety”, Linares stated.

Linares referenced the cold-blooded murder of 70 year-old Ibrahim Ghazal, a small business owner shot in his store in Meriden on June 27. Inmate Frankie Resto, a violent repeat criminal released under the RREC program, stands accused of the crime.

Resto was sentenced in 2007 for two cases of armed robbery. “Resto qualified for early release even though his behavior in prison showed he had not reformed,” Linares said. “While a prisoner, he was cited for theft and fighting in 2006; for assault and for conspiring to possess contraband in 2007; for fighting and assault in 2008; for disobedience in 2009, at which time he was identified as a gang member and a special security risk; and just last year, for intoxication and for setting fire to his mattress.

“Where is the evidence that this man was ready to reenter society?” Linares asked. “How could this man have been released before his sentence was completed?”

“Michelle Cruz, The Connecticut Victim Advocate, stated that this misguided early release scheme is a “danger” to the citizens of our state. We must heed her warning,” Linares said.

According to the Department of Corrections, 7,589 inmates have been released through the RREC program since it began in September of last year. “I don’t believe we can afford to wait,” Linares wrote to the governor. “The risks of the program have been all too vividly demonstrated, and another such tragedy remains a daily threat.”

Violent criminals belong behind bars, and I will work to keep them there, ”Linares concluded.

 

Contact Art Linares Headquarters at 860 391 8458 for details.

Party Endorsed Candidates Carry Area Towns in Primary

AREAWIDE— The Democrat and Republican party endorsed candidates each carried the three towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in Tuesday’s primary. In the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate nomination, businesswoman Linda McMahon easily out-polled her challenger, former Congressman Christopher Shays. In the contest for the GOP nomination in the 2nd congressional; District, East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica out-polled challenger Daria Novak.

In Chester, the result was 105 votes for McMahon to 34 votes for Shays. In Deep River, it was 124 McMahon to 39 for Shays. In Essex, McMahon had 343 votes to 139 votes for Shays. For the congressional nomination, the results were 96 Formica to 38 Novak in Chester, 112 McMahon to 48 Novak in Chester, and 335 Formica to 104 Novak in Essex. McMahon and Formica won the party endorsements at nominating conventions in May.

In the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate nomination, Congressman Christopher Murphy out-polled former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz. In Chester, it was 179 votes for Murphy to 76 votes for Bysiewicz. In Deep River, the result was 150 votes for Murphy to 105 votes for Bysiewicz. In Essex, the result was 329 votes for Murphy to 127 votes for Bysiewicz. Murphy won the party endorsement at the state convention in May.

The closest area result occurred in the primary for the Democratic nomination in the 12-town 33rd Senate District, where party-endorsed State Rep. Jim Crawford of Westbrook out-polled challenger Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam. Crawford and Klinck were competing for the nomination to the seat left open by the retirement of  ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook.

Crawford carried Chester and Essex by wide margins, with a vote of 153 for Crawford to 87 for Klinck in Chester, and 325 for Crawford to 124 for Klinck in Essex. The result was much closer in Deep River, where longtime Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith endorsed Klinck. In Deep River, it was 131 votes for Crawford to 120 votes for Klinck. The district-wide result was 2,505 votes for Crawford to 2,007 for Klinck.

Long-Lost Mural Art Exhibit at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek Sept 10

A long-long mural, The Founding of the State of Israel, 1948,  by Connecticut artist Sanford Low and his colleague Walter Korder headlines an art exhibit opening September 10th at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek  (CBSRZ) in Chester.

The eighteen-foot mural was located by an agent for Jeff Cooley of the Cooley Gallery in Old Lyme, and Cooley loaned the artwork to CBSRZ for the exhibit.  The CBSRZ exhibit also includes most of the surviving lithographs of Rachel Szalit-Marcus, a high acclaimed artist who was born in Lodz, Poland and died in a concentration camp. Her best-known works are illustrations for books whose authors include the famous Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem.  Szalit-Marcus’ work is on loan to CBSRZ by the Derfner Judaica Museum in New York.

The exhibit is free 
and open to the public beginning Sept. 10 thru Oct. 31, Mon. – Fri,
10 a.m. – 3 p.m., in the CBSRZ Gallery located at Congregation Beth
Shalom Rodfe Zedek, 55 Kings Highway, Chester CT.  Call temple
 secretary at 860-526-8920 for group visits.

This event is co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.

Jim Crawford Wins Democratic Nomination in 33rd Senate District

Jim Crawford winner of Democratic Nomination for State Senate in the 33rd Senatorial District

AREAWIDE— State Rep. Jim Crawford of Westbrook won the Democratic nomination in the 33rd Senate District Tuesday, defeating challenger Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam by about 480 votes in the Democratic Primary in the 12-town district.

Crawford, a former teacher who was elected state representative for the 35th House District in 2010, claimed victory around 9:15 p.m. after learning that he had carried Haddam, the last of the towns to report results. Crawford awaited the result with a group of supporters in the parking lot at 190 Westbrook Road in Essex, outside the law office of Adam Stillman, a supporter who serves as Democratic town chairman in Old Saybrook.

Unofficial returns showed Crawford with 2,499 votes and Klinck with 2,007 votes. Klinck carried four of the 12 district towns, winning her hometown of East Haddam by a vote of 438-86, and also carrying Colchester, East Hampton, and Lyme. The result was close in Deep River, where longtime First Selectman Richard Smith supported Klinck, with 131 votes for Crawford and 120 votes for Klinck.

Crawford carried the other district towns, taking his hometown of Westbrook by a vote of 233 to 40. Crawford carried Essex by a vote of 325 to 124, also winning in Chester, Clinton, Haddam, Portland, and Old Saybrook.

After taking a phone call from Gov. Dannel Malloy, Crawford said he was pleased the contest with Klinck was a “clean race,” that helped him become better known throughout the large district without dividing district Democrats. “This was as tight as I thought it was going to be,” he said, adding “now we need to make sure this seat remains Democratic.”

Klinck, contacted at her headquarters in East Haddam, said she was “disappointed, but proud of what we did”, adding “I have proven that at any age you can be a contender.”  Klinck pledged to actively support Crawford in the Nov. 6 election, adding that she had urged her supporters to rally behind Crawford in the fall vote.

Crawford said he is ready for the November contest with Republican nominee Arthur Linares of Westbrook and Green Party nominee Melissa Schlag of Haddam. Crawford said he expects to participate in “more than one” public debate with all three candidates during the campaign.

Talking Transportation – Amtrak’s Future in Connecticut

Amtrak, what passes for America’s national railroad, has some big plans for the future.  The problem is finding any consensus, let alone the money, on what those plans should be.

Before we detail their vision for the year 2030, here’s a snapshot of how Amtrak operates today.  Amtrak runs 46 trains a day through Connecticut serving 1.7 million passengers annually.  New Haven, the busiest station in the state, is also the 11th busiest in the nation.

Amtrak’s flagship, Acela, running from Boston to Washington, also stops in Stamford (and once-a-day in New London), while the slower “Northeast Corridor” trains serve Bridgeport, Old Saybrook and Mystic with branch-line trains running from New Haven to Hartford and Springfield.

Amtrak is also hired by the CDOT to run Shore Line East commuter trains between New London and New Haven.

Unlike the rest of the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak does not own or control the tracks from the New York state line to New Haven.  Those tracks are owned by the CDOT which pays Metro-North to maintain them and the overhead power (catenary) lines.  Amtrak pays a flat fee (far too low, says CDOT) to run its trains on “our” tracks, plus a little bonus money to the state for prioritizing its schedule over that of the commuter lines.

Connecticut’s section of the Northeast Corridor contains more miles and serves more stations than any other state from D.C. to Massachusetts.  And it includes several 100+ year-old bridges crossing the Thames, Niantic and Connecticut Rivers, crucial to inter-city service.  It’s old and expensive to maintain.

It’s hard to run a true high speed railroad on a century-old right-of-way.  In fact, Acela goes no faster than Metro-North (90 mph) between NY and New Haven and cannot engage its tilting mechanism on the many curves.

So, as Amtrak looks to the future, it’s thinking of building an entirely new line through Connecticut to connect New York City and Boston.  Rather than following the coastline (parallel to I-95) it envisions an inland route (parallel to I-84).

As the last phase of its 2030 – 2040 “Next Gen” high speed rail, 220 mph Amtrak bullet-trains (faster than the current French TGV) would bypass Stamford, New Haven and New London and instead zip through Danbury, Waterbury and Hartford.  “Super-Express” service would be non-stop thru Connecticut while “Express” trains would make brief stops in those inland Connecticut cities.  Northeast Corridor service would continue along the coast as either “Shoreline Express” or “Regional” trains.

Needless to say, Governor Malloy and the CDOT are not happy with Amtrak’s plan, especially given Connecticut (and the Feds’) investment in the New Haven to Hartford high(er) speed corridor.  They want the existing coastal corridor to New Haven to be served by the super-Acela service which could then continue north through Hartford to Springfield before heading east to Boston.  Put the trains where the people are, is their argument.

Amtrak thinks the coastal corridor is too old, has too many curves and would be too expensive to operate.  They think it would be cheaper to build a new line from scratch, and they’re probably right.

We are so lucky that, a century ago, a four-track rail line was built along Connecticut’s coast.  It was state-of-the-art for its time and could never be built today.  But for the 21st century, this line is obsolete.  Every serious high speed railroad in the world operates on a new, dedicated right-of-way, not some hand-me-down from the past.

So, good for Amtrak for bold planning for our future.  It’s time for our Governor and CDOT to get on board.  A new, inland high-speed route is the best way to go.

JIM CAMERON has been a commuter out of Darien for 21 years.  He is Chairman of the CT Metro-North / Shore Line East Rail Commuter Council, and a member of the Coastal Corridor TIA and the Darien RTM.  You can reach him at CTRailCommuterCouncil@gmail.com or www.trainweb.org/ct .  For a full collection of “Talking Transportation” columns, see www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments Leases Essex Property

145 Dennison Road, Essex

The Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments has leased 5,200 SF in a free standing office building located at 145 Dennison Road, Essex, CT.  They are a newly formed government agency, consolidating two long standing regional planning organizations serving

Seventeen towns in the lower Connecticut River Valley.  RiverCOG, as it hopes to become known, promotes inter-municipal cooperation on issues including transportation, homeland security, land use, environmental issues, and economic development.  Linda Krause is their Chairperson.  Barry Stratton of The Geenty Group, Realtors, in Branford, represented the Tenant.  Mary O’Brien of Mary O’Brien Realty represented the Landlord, John Dresty, Jr. of Glastonbury.

Connecticut River Museum Welcomes Captain Stephen Clay Home

Connecticut River Museum Curator Amy Trout stands with the recently acquired portrait of Captain Stephen Clay, now on display in the new exhibit “Blue Water Bound: Voyages from the River to the Sea” now open through October 9.

Essex, CT – It may have taken a couple of centuries but Stephen Clay has returned to the Connecticut River and is in residence at the Connecticut River Museum.   The announcement was made at the Museum’s recently held Annual Meeting where Chairman of the Board Maureen O’Grady reported on the acquisition of a portrait of the sea captain, merchant and ship owner Stephen Clay.  Born in Middletown, CT, Stephen Clay (1751-1809) is an outstanding example of the individuals in the maritime business community who built the towns along the Connecticut River in the early days of the Republic. He was a ship owner and sea captain active in the West Indies trade.

The oil-on-canvas painting is by William Jennys (1774-1859), an itinerant artist who was active in the Connecticut River Valley during the first decade of the 19th century.  Portraits by Jennys are well represented in museums and historical societies across New York and New England. The Clay portrait is typical of the period and includes a ship in the background indicating his stature as a ship owner.

The acquisition of the painting was made possible by the Milkofsky Curatorial Fund of the Connecticut River Museum, a restricted fund of donations designated for the acquisition and conservation of Connecticut River historical artifacts and records.  The Museum actively collects museum-quality objects, manuscripts, paintings and photographs that help to document life in the Connecticut River Valley over the last 500 years.  People interested in donating well-documented artifacts and manuscripts may contact Curator Amy Trout at 860-767-8269 extension 115.

The Clay portrait is currently on display in the Museum’s new exhibit “Blue Water Bound: Voyages from the River to the Sea” now open through October 9.  Located at 67 Main Street on the Essex water Museum is located at 67 Main Street on the Essex waterfront and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.  Call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org for further information.

Polls Open 14 Hours Tuesday for Democratic , Republican Primaries

AREAWIDE— Polls in Chester, Deep River, and Essex will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday for Democrat and Republican primaries  to decide party nominations for U.S.Senate, 2nd District Congress, and the 33rd State Senate District.
Republicans will choose between businesswoman Linda McMahon and former fourth district Congressman Christopher Shays for the U.S. Senate nomination, and East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica and challenger Daria Novak for the GOP nomination for the 2nd Congressional District that comprises eastern Connecticut. McMahon and Formica won the party endorsement at conventions in May.
Democrats will choose between Congressman Chris Murphy and former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz for the U.S. Senate nomination, and state Rep. Jim Crawford and challenger Mary Ellen Klinck for the party nomination in the 12-town 33rd Senate District that includes Chester, Deep River, and Essex. Murphy and Crawford have the convention endorsement. Voting will be at the Deep River Public Library community room, Chester Town Hall, and Essex Town Hall.

Old Sturbridge Village – A $5 Friday

Old Sturbridge Village. For a few delightful hours I turned the clock back to olden times

I was itching to get up to Old Sturbridge Village again.

I love living-history museums.   I’ve had a wonderful summer. Already I’ve hit Mystic Seaport nearly next door—the seafaring village of the 1800s. And Plymouth Plantation up in Plymouth, Mass.—the Pilgrims’ first crude settlement.  But now Plymouth Plantation pays a lot more attention to the local Indians. They helped the Pilgrims to tough it through. Well, those who didn’t perish that first winter. Now Plimouth shows Indian life, too.  It’s the right thing to do.

I know both  places well. I always have a great time. So much to see. Best of all, the chance to experience those olden times. See how folks lived and toiled and coped.  For a few  hours to feel all that for myself.

So, recently, I got up and saw it was a fine day. Perfect for my Old Sturbridge Village treat. The village, which is all about life in the early 1800s, is the oldest of its genre in the country, I believe. It’s right above the Massachusetts line, so quite a ride.
I know that whole area well, but decades ago.  Back then I was the bureau chief in southern Worcester County for the Worcester Telegram & Evening Gazette and Sunday Telegram. A long name, I know, but it was a big paper, with morning, afternoon, and Sunday editions. Old Sturbridge Village was in my bailiwick. We visited it as a young family. At least twice, I think.

I left early. At 8 sharp. As usual I rode the back roads, meaning the slow roads, the delightful roads, all the way up. I’m a shun-piker. Stopped here and there at familiar spots and explored a couple of new ones. So it was noon when I pulled in at the village. Wow! The lot was jammed with cars. One quick look told me this was a much bigger place than I remembered.

A long line at the ticket office. I noticed the price to get in. $24! A lot, lot more than the price I remembered.  Prices nowadays are always a shock to me. I remember gas at 17 cents a gallon, apples at 3 pounds for 25 cents,  and movies for a quarter.

Of course, my paycheck was skimpy, too, by today’s standards—but for some reason that doesn’t weigh as much in my
memory. But slowly, grudgingly, I am adjusting to gas at $3.49 a gallon and Mac apples at $1.59 a pound and  movies at $8. Even the prices on my books are shocking to me, but, as I always explain, I don’t set them.

I waited patiently with $25 in hand. Oh, I saw I’d get a small senior discount.The clerk noticed my money and smiled and said, “Oh, sir, today is $5 Friday!”

$5 Friday! Just $5 for anybody! What a nice idea. Who doesn’t love a bargain? The village schedules a $5 Friday now and then. Behind me was a  family with three kids.  They’d be saving a bundle today. Maybe they wouldn’t be here if they faced the regular price. And this explained  all the cars in the lot.

Yes, a lot of people here. That might make it hard. As it worked out, not a problem.

I expected a lot of walking. All those paths winding through the village.  All the byways. Going into this house and that one.This visit was important to me. I was prepared to tough it. I had my  sturdy walking stick. It helps a lot.  I was sure I’d find a bench or a chair here and there. It worked out that way.

This was an agrarian village. Farming was the whole economy. Raising animals and crops. In the winter, folks did repairs and improvements.The entire focus was on wresting a living from the earth. Farming set the lifestyle. The minister, the shopkeeper and a very few others toiled at their specialties.  But even the blacksmiths and the coopers  squeezed in some farming.

I began walking. A gravel road, of course. No blacktop back then. A slight uphill, but not bad. So, no utility poles. No long wires looping through the village. No fire hydrants, of course. Or gas stations. Or supermarket. Or police or fire station. Or McDonald’s. Or beauty salon. None of all the things that we see every day and depend on. Strange. But I liked the beauty and simplicity and quiet of it. This was Old Sturbrige Village of the 1830s!

As I walked up the path, little signs made this clear.

Said one, “There were people here who lived  through the Revolutionary War.  And the War of 1812.”
Said another, “This was still 30 years abefore the Civil War.”

Another: “Factories were beginning to appear in Massachusetts, but this was an agrarian village.”

Another: “There was now a train between Worcester and Boston, but few people got to ride it.”

The signs set the scene and the tone. They were not the exact signs. I don’t remember them. I made these up to give you the flavor.

Tranquil and beautiful today. But a hard life back then

My first stop was at the Small House. Maybe it was the Smalls’ home. Not sure. Certainly it was very small. And modest. A sign said the kind used by a family of lesser means, or renters, or a colored family. I was surprised to hear about colored folks. But there were a few around, it sees.

A bonneted hostess gave me a smile. “Good day!” she said cheerfully. She was dressed old-fashioned, with skirt and sleeves covering every single inch even on this summer day. A nice middle-aged lady, sitting by the fireplace and knitting. We were alone in there. I saw a chair by her side. She read my mind. “Yes, please sit.”

I had her all to myself. I asked her questions, and she answered in depth. I mentioned the fireplace. “Just for cooking,” she said. “And a bit of heat in the winter. But just a bit. If you sat right up to it.  Winters in the house were very cold! I know! I’m here in the winter, too. Being cold was just another fact of life.”

There was a small book on the table. It intrigued me. “Go ahead,” she said.  ”Look at it.”

It was “The Frugal Housewife,” a tidy little volume by one Mrs. Child. No first name given, not even an initial. How about that? But very interesting. Life was so difficult, so different in so many ways.

But it’s words on the second page that I really liked: “Dedicated to those not ashamed of economy.”  How wonderful. More people today should be dedicated to economy.  I just read that the average credit-card indebtedness in the United States is more than $8,000, and most people never pay it off…just roll it over from month to month. Sad.

Others entered and she had to turn to them. My next stop was at the Friends Meeting House up the slope on the right.  Very small. Very basic. Not even a penny’s worth of ornamentation. I was surprised there were Quakers here. Dedicated to peace and non-violence. The small group would sit here in silence on Sunday mornings, all intent on communicating in individual privacy with The Spirit. No minister. All equal. If some felt so moved, they would say something aloud, a little prayer maybe, a bit of a hymn. Maybe someone else would be moved to say something. Maybe not. Then, spiritually refreshed, they would go home to pick up the grind of life and livelihood.

Over on the left was a barn with a few sheep behind the split rail fence. I ambled over. A pretty scene. On the ground beyond the fence a feather caught my eye, about eight inches long. A turkey feather, I think, though no turkey in sight. I wanted it. I manage to drag it close with my walking stick. dragged it close. Couldn’t reach it with my fingers on the other side of the fence. I wanted it. A man came along with a little girl, six or seven. I smiled at her. “Could you reach that pretty feather for me?”

She slipped her tiny fingers under the rail and snatched the feather and handed it to me. I smiled. “Thank you! Thank you!” I tucked it in my shirt pocket. I was so happy. I’ll tell you why in a few minutes.

I kept making my way. Yes, many here today. For sure, $5 Friday was the big draw. But they just made the village look busy and interesting.  Families but big groups, too. I’d seen big tour buses in the parking lot.

I came upon 30 teenagers sitting on a lawn, picnicking.  Asians.  I asked a gal, “Are you from Japan?”  Japan seemed logical. The Japanese are the most well to do over there.  “No,” she said, shaking her head. “China!” She was so happy.

Yes, the Chinese are doing fine these days.

At the Knight Store, loaded with the simple goods of those times, the bearded Shopkeeper chatted with me at length.
I visited many buildings. I enjoyed chatting with whoever was in charge. At the Shoe Shop. The one-room Schoolhouse—the teacher told me the pupils ranged in age from 5 to 17, and she was only 18. “That would not have been a problem,” she said.
On I went to the Blacksmith Shop. The Pottery Shop. The Tin Shop. The Freeman Farm with the fat pig snoozing in the mud, and the six cows enjoying their hay.

In the Farmhouse Garden two ladies in their long skirts were tending the plants. Really working at it. No making believe. I got the attention of the one close by. She straightened up and wiped the dust off her skirt. “Enjoyable work!” she said with a smile. “Truly it is.

“Tending the kitchen garden was woman’s work. The men were out doing the real hard work. At this time of year, haying. I’ve been doing it here for 20 years. Love it!”

A woman at women’s work. Men were busy toiling at the real muscle jobs.

I was impressed by these  villagers. They were all working  hard at their tasks. All were gracious.  Eager to explain and answer questions. I was impressed by how savvy they were about those those times and what was involved. They weren’t just “winging it.” They took courses and studied. Several said they enjoyed digging in even deeper on their own.

At some exhibits, there was no costumed villager on hand at that moment. But plenty of info on signs and in pamphlets.
At the Bank, which issued its own “ paper money,” by the way. At the massive outdoor kiln where hundreds of pieces of pottery were fired at one time. At the stone-walled Town Pound, where stray farm animals were kept until claimed by their owners—who had to pay the pound keeper for the service and care.

A big wagon came rolling along drawn by two husky horses. It stopped at the corner. A dozen people stepped out. It was a free sight-seeing ride around the village. The man with the reins up on the  front bench saw me coming. “Hop on, sir! Come rest yourself for a spell.”

I gladly took a seat up close to him. Others got on. He picked up the reins and said “Giddy up!” And his two big horses stepped forward, smooth and easy.

A nice ride. He paused here and there and explained, swiveling around and looking down at us, “That Mill Pond  on the left was all-important. Man-made. Imagine the hard work of that.

“The water ran in from that river,” he said, pointing to the right. “The provided power for the Saw Mill and the Grist Mill and other things. Everything in this village was organized. Smart people!”

“Are your horses smart?” I asked.
“And how!” he said. “They amaze me!”

I noticed that the horses knew where to pause to sip water. They pulled right up to the trough and stopped and began slurping.
And when the driver stopped to explain something, they’d patiently swish their tails. He’d say just one word and they’d stop. Another word and they’d  move forward. Another word and they’d back up. Yes, back up. That impressed me.

The Shopkeeper showed me the latest news from Boston. It arrived when it arrived. But few could read. Or had the time.

We crossed a heavy-timbered covered bridge. He said, “They found it up in New Hampshire. Took it apart and brought it here and put it together again.  Everything here is authentic. Yes, sir, authentic!”
I knew that was true for many of the buildings I had enjoyed.

We came to the end of the ride. Everybody got out. Except me. I looked  up at him. “Mind if I go around one more time?”
“Please do! Sit back and enjoy. There’s too much here to absorb it all in one visit!”
So, I made the winding circle with him again. He was right. I saw things I hadn’t noticed the first time. And major buildings that I would have loved to spend time in. The Sawmill. Gristmill. Bullard Tavern. Cooper Shop.  Others, too. But no time.
The village closed at 5 and I believe I was the last one out. In the big parking lot
my car was one of the few left.

It took hours to make one shoe. No difference between left and right shoes back then.

A good thing the park was closing. I was pooped. I wasn’t up to much more. The next time! Even if it doesn’t happen to be a $5 Friday.

Oh, now about my beautiful turkey feather. I’ve been writing for a living all these many years. Long ago, when I decided to get myself a business card, I thought hard about a suitable graphic to put on it.

“A quill pen!” I thought. “A quill pen would be perfect!”

I had an artist draw one for me. She based it on a turkey feather. I still use a card with the quill pen on it. Letterheads, too.
One birthday, a thoughtful person gave me a real quill pen with a pewter inkwell. An ornament I’ve kept on a bookshelf. The feather has become sadly ruffled. Now I have a dandy new feather. And it will be a nice reminder of my marvelous visit to Old Sturbridge Village.

Essex Library Has Many Patrons and a Wide Variety of Programs, but Faces a Substantial Debt to the Federal Government

Essex Library Director Richard Conroy in front the library and its ever full parking lot

The Essex library is a busy place. In the fiscal year that just ended, there were 63,000 visits to this small town library, to take out a book, read a newspaper, attend one of over 300 library programs, or even hang out for awhile. Essex Library Director Richard Conroy reports, “Attendance at library programs has doubled since 2008,” the year he became the director. However, for all this success, there is also a more sober story line about the Essex Library.

Essex Library Faces a Large Federal Debt

On its books the library has a large debt to a federal agency from a $2 million loan that it took out back in 2006. The monies that were borrowed at the time were used to fund the expansion and reconfiguration of the library building, which more than doubled the size of the library building from 4,000 to 9,500 square feet.

The present status of the loan is that the library still has $1.9 million to repay to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development fund, which made the loan to the library. The loan has a forty year term, which means that the repayment schedule stretches out to the year 2046.

Each year from now to then, the library must face a repayment burden. In fact in this year’s current library budget of $530,000, approximately twenty percent of it went towards repaying the federal loan.

Of course, the federal debt could be paid off sooner, if a generous donor came forward and repaid it all at once. However, there have been no indications so far that this is a possibility. Making the repayments even more uncomfortable is that earlier payments go more towards paying the interest on the loan, than paying off the principal.

Words of Praise for Past Library Directors

Obviously, the challenge of repaying the federal loan weighs heavily on the current library director. However, Conroy appears determined to make the best of it by being generous in his public comments about  two library directors that preceded him, Anne (“Boo”) Penniman and Bridget Quinn-Carey

In a recent interview he said, “I feel privileged to have had the base established for me by my predecessors, Anne “Boo” Penniman and Bridget Quinn Carey.” Of Penniman, who served as Library Director for eleven years from 1979 to 1990, he said, “Boo bought a new focus from a traditional library to a patron oriented environment. I am a very big fan of Boo,” he continued, “She brought the library into the modern era.”

As for Bridget Quinn-Carey, who was library director from 1999 to 2008, and who was in charge when the federal loan was taken out, Conroy said, “Bridget expanded on that base by doubling the size of the library building from 4,000 square feet to 9,500 square feet.”

The Quinn-Carey Years at the Essex Library

In a “History of the Library” in Essex that appears on the web, it is reported that when Quinn-Carey came on board as director, she, “immediately embarked on a mission to bring the library into the Computer Age.“ Also noted is that, “Under Quinn-Carey, circulation tripled to 56,000 and grew to more than 4,700 card holders.” In addition, “The need for library space became imperative and resulted in the very successful capital campaign … and the construction of the new wing behind the library on Grove Street.”

However, shortly after the expansion of the Essex library building was complete, Bridget Quinn-Carey left Essex for a new job as director the libraries of Buffalo and Erie County in New York State. Then a few years after that she became the Chief Operating Officer of the Queens Library, which has sixty branch libraries and has an annual budget of well over $100 million.

Since repayment of the federal loan was no longer Bridget Quinn-Carey’s responsibility, it was left to the new director, Richard Conway, to address it. However, he puts the best face on things, noting that,   “The building looks great and there are a large number of folks here day and night.”

Outstanding Community Support for Library

Conroy, who became Essex Library Director in 2008, also says, “The support that we get from the community is outstandingly positive.” One recent example he cites is in connection with funding of the newly planted entrance circle in front of the library. According to Conroy, “78 people contributed at least $40 each to upgrade the circle, and in less than three weeks, we had the monies to complete the project, without having to use any operating funds.”

The total cost for the upgrade of the entrance circle was $4,000, which, however, is a small amount when compared with library’s debt to the federal government.

As for the repayment of that loan, Conroy says, “We would love to have the onus of the loan gone, particularly since we are in a great spot right now.” For all the measured tone that Conroy uses in discussing the library’s outstanding debt, it must be his fervid dream to have the loan paid off.

The Future of the Essex Library

 Looking ahead, it is Conroy’s intent to make the Essex Library into “the default community center of the town.” Since tens of thousands of persons are already visiting the library each year, this could well be an attainable goal.

Conroy cites three factors that favor the continued success of the library. They are: “We have a great library building, we have an outstanding library staff, and, we have strong community support for the library, and now we are looking towards the future.”

To help map out that future, Conroy says, “We have begun the process of developing a new strategic plan for the Essex Library and expect to hire an outside consultant to assist with the creation of that plan.”

Director Says He Has A “Dream Job”

“This a dream job for me,” Conroy says, and, “If there were not challenges, it would not be so interesting.” As part of the new strategic plan Conroy mentions four elements.

Essex Library Director Richard Conway takes a turn at the Main Desk

They are: (1) upgrading the library’s present collection of e-books, (2) encouraging greater use of the library’s technologies, such as the Ancestry.com website, (3) redesigning the library’s present web site, and (4) continuing to find ways to make its programs for adults and young people even more relevant to our patrons’ needs. With these  in place, Conroy anticipates that, “going forward, the community of Essex will be very supportive.”                       

“Money is important in maintaining a high quality staff,” Conroy says, and presently, the library has eight staff members, with only the director being full time.  The job of the library staff is, in Conroy’s words, “to foster an open, patron friendly, library.”

Ann Thompson, Head of Adult Services

The Head of Adult Services at the library is Ann Thompson. Among her responsibilities, she prepares a monthly email newsletter called “Librar-E-Lations. The newsletter features a listing of upcoming library events and the meeting schedules of the library’s five book clubs that range in themes from American History to the plays of Shakespeare. Also, in the newsletter is a monthly message from the library director, a listing of the new books acquired by the library, and a general review of library services.

Also, Thompson, who possesses considerable computer skills, runs a “Book-A-Libdrarian” program, which offers one-on-one computer tutoring to members of the library.

Jessica Branciforte Head of Children’s Services

The Head of Children’s Services at the Essex Library is Jessica Branciforte. She holds a teaching degree in Elementary Education from Central Connecticut State University and has completed her studies for a Masters Degree in Library Science from Southern Connecticut State University.

Head of Children’s Services Jessica Branciford at the library

Ms Branciforte is well aware that almost half of the library’s daily visitors are young people. She sums up her job as, “about helping young readers find the book that suits them.” Her job is also about, “helping hesitant readers to learn to embrace the love of reading.”  She works with children from “babies to young adults.” “My job is really about encouraging literacy of young people, and finding out what will trigger it,” she says.

Jenny Tripp, Programming Librarian

Also, a member of the library staff is Programming Librarian Jenny Tripp. Ebullient and full of excitement about the programs that she puts together, Tripp arranges well over 300 library programs every year.

Jenny Tripp checking out a book for a patron at the Main Desk

One of the most successful of her recent programs was about “How to Raise Chickens.”  The topic was so popular that Tripp had to put on three separate programs on the same theme. Even then, some chicken lovers had to be turned away, because the standing room crowds totally filled the library’s program room.

Future programs at the library include, “Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer,” conducted by a forensic psychologist, as well as a series of programs on scientific topics, funded by a local business man.

The programs in this series will include: a review of recent discoveries on the planet Mars by the Mars Rover, a report on recent pharmaceutical discoveries that address human health problems, and a program on artificial intelligence devices that are now close to replicating the intelligence of the human brain.

A seven veteran of working at the library, Tripp says that she finds the current director, “easy to work with.”

As for the library’s services to Essex’s senior community, Boo Penniman, says that Library Director Conroy, “has fostered a great relationship with the residents of Essex Meadows. He comes to the Meadows to discuss books at least once a month, except in the summer.” Also, “when a resident of the Meadows wants to borrow a book from the library, it comes in a whiz,” she says.

In sum, things appear to be going very well at the Essex Library, even in the face of having to repay over the next 40 years a loan from the federal government.

Negotiations Continue on Essex Savings Bank Lease of Vacant Space at Chester Town Hall

CHESTER— Negotiations are continuing between the board of selectmen and Essex Savings Bank on the bank’s lease of vacant ground-floor space at the town hall building on Route 154.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said Wednesday he and Selectman Tom Englert reviewed a proposal from the bank in a closed session at the meeting Tuesday night, but deferred any decisions because Selectman Larry Sypher was unable to attend the meeting. “We’ve got some options to discuss and we need to have all three of us in the room to do it,” he said.

Meehan said the annual rental payment for the 3,200-square-feet, and certain terms, remain under discussion. The ground-floor space was left vacant at the end of June when Bank of America closed the branch that had occupied the space since the town hall opened at the building in 2003. Bank of America had been paying the town $76,000 per year for the space since the last lease negotiation in 2007.

Residents at an April 17 informational meeting urged the selectmen to offer the space for another bank, rather than convert the area for town use.  Essex Savings Bank representatives stepped forward at the meeting to confirm the bank is interested in opening a new branch in the space. Essex Savings Bank was the only responder to a request for proposals on the space published by the town in June.

Meehan had been hoping to present a proposed lease agreement with the bank to the voters for approval at a scheduled Aug. 29 town meeting, but he acknowledged Wednesday an agreement may not be ready for the Aug. 29 town meeting. Meehan said he remains optimistic the board and the bank will reach an agreement that would be presented to the voters for approval at a town meeting, probably in September.

Jim Crawford of Westbrook and Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam Compete in Cordial Democratic Primary for 33rd Senate District Nomination

After a campaign with no public debate and few differences on issues, State Rep. Jim Crawford of Westbrook and party activist Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam face off in a Democratic primary Tuesday for the open state senate nomination in the 12-town 33rd Senate District.

Tuesday’s vote marks the conclusion of an abbreviated contest that began on May 15, when ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook announced she would not seek a new term this year. Three candidates emerged at the Democratic nominating convention on May 21, including Crawford, Klinck, and former state Rep. Dean Markham of East Hampton. After four ballots, Crawford edged Klink for the party endorsement on a 31-27 delegate vote. Contending both candidates were not well known by district Democrats, Klinck decided to wage a primary for the nomination.

Crawford, 62, is a lifelong Westbrook resident who, after serving in the U.S. Army, in 1974 began a 37-year career teaching social studies in the Westbrook school system. Crawford and his wife, Elaine also ran the Maples Motel on Route One in Westbrook, which was owned by Crawford’s family from 1947 to 2001. The couple are parents of two grown children. Crawford was elected to the Westbrook Board of Selectmen in 2007, serving nearly two terms until 2010, when he was elected state representative for the 35th House District comprised of Clinton, most of Westbrook, and Killingworth.

Klinck, a 58-year East Haddam resident who declined to specify her exact age, has been active in the Democratic Party for decades, serving on the East Haddam Board of Selectmen in the 1970s, and as Connecticut’s Commissioner on Aging through most of the 1980s during the administration of the late former Governor William O’Neill of East Hampton. A widow since 1984, Klinck is the mother of three grown children with six grand-children. A realtor for decades, she also ran the Hale and Hearty Restaurant in East Haddam for 11 years.

In telephone interviews this week, both candidates declined to criticize each other, and suggested the lack of a public debate during the primary campaign was no accident. “We have agreed to keep it clean,” Klinck said, suggesting a debate would have spotlighted criticism and differences that could sow divisions among Democratic voters.

Klinck contended the primary would help each candidate become better known in the large district that extends along both sides of the Connecticut River to include the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Crawford said he and Klinck “are both good Democrats,” adding “I have nothing but respect for what she has done for the party.” But Crawford maintained his single term as a state legislator over the past two years gives him an edge in experience. “It comes down to her experience and my experience, and my experience is current,” he said.

A review of likely issues for the 2013 legislative session shows few differences between the two candidates. Both would support authorization of red light cameras for traffic enforcement under a pilot program, and both are open to new state restrictions on assault rifles and multiple-shot ammunition clips in the wake of the recent mass gun killings in Colorado and Wisconsin. Both say spending cuts must take priority over new or higher new taxes to deal with any lingering state budget deficit. Crawford, who supported tax increases last year as part of Governor Dannel Malloy’s budget plan, said “I don’t think there is any way we can raise taxes more.”

One issue that has emerged involves the controversial, but now cancelled, Connecticut River land swap that had been supported by Daily as an economic development measure for the Tylerville section of Haddam. Crawford had supported the land swap in a House vote last year, while a recent mailing to district Democrats declares Klinck is ” a Democrat you can trust to make the right decision with open space.”

Party support and endorsements have broken down largely along geographic lines within the district, with leaders from the southern shoreline towns supporting Crawford, and leaders from the northern and east-of-the-river towns backing Klinck. Crawford has received endorsements from Daily, Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex, and Democratic first selectmen Willie Fritz of Clinton, Norman Needleman of Essex, and Edmund Meehan of Chester. But longtime Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith is backing Klinck, who has also received support from longtime Democratic State Rep. Linda Orange of Colchester, and donations from Nicki O’Neill, widow of the former governor, and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, who owns a house in East Haddam.

Both candidates have received a $37,590 state Citizens Elections Program campaign finance grant, and each has nearly $50,000 on their campaign coffers leading up to the primary. The two rivals have campaigned door-to-door in various towns, and sponsored multiple political mailings to registered Democrats in the district.

The winner of Tuesday’s contest will face Republican nominee Art Linares of Westbrook and Green Party candidate Melissa Schlag of Haddam in the Nov. 6 election.

Book Reviews by Jerome Wilson

IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS

Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin

By Erik Larsen

William E. Dodd was a little known Chairman of the History Department of the University of Chicago, when he accepted President Roosevelt’s invitation to become the U.S. Ambassador to Hitler’s Germany. Dodd was appointed to this post, because the President could not find anyone more prominent to take it.

Although there were strong pressures, both in Berlin from the German government and from Dodd’s bosses at the U.S. State Department, to ignore the enormous evils being perpetrated by the Nazi regime, Dodd refused to go along. In fact, he frequently criticized the treatment of German Jews and elements in German society that supported Hitler’s regime, and in doing so doing exhibited the best of American democratic values.

For example, Dodd refused to attend Hitler’s monstrous Nuremberg rallies, and allied himself with the ambassadors from other nations, such as Great Britain, that were critical of the Nazi regime. Ultimately, after close to four years, the go-along-with-Hitler crowd at the U.S. State Department succeeded in forcing Dodd to resign. Roosevelt withdrew his support from Dodd as well.

Dodd’s replacement, Hugh Wilson, immediately after his  appointment  pledged to the Nazi Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, that if  Germany began a war in Europe, he would do everything in his power to keep America out of the conflict.

 

 WE MEANT WELL  

HOW I HELPED LOSE THE BATTLE FOR THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE IRAQI PEOPLE

By Peter Van Buren

This book argues the futility of the American effort to gain acceptance in Iraq by building hugely expense construction projects. In the author’s view it was an impossible mission in the first place, made even more impossible by the gross incompetence of those building the projects, both American and Iraqi. The author came to these conclusions after spending a year in Iraq as a U.S. State Department official managing projects to rebuild the country.

Among projects that failed, according to the author, was (1) a brand new highway built by a U.S. Army contractor, which ended up being used by Iraq insurgents as a transit route for nighttime attacks on U.S. installations; (2) a new hospital in Baghdad, paid for by U.S. dollars, that was left roofless and abandoned, because the Iraqi government could not afford to complete its construction; (3) a $40 million Iraqi prison, paid for by the U.S., that after completion never opened; (4) a $104 million U.S. funded, and failed, sewer system in Fallujah; and (5) a $171 million U.S funded hospital in southern Iraq that Laura Bush “opened” in 2004, and which to date has never seen a patient. One estimate of this “legacy of waste” in U.S. projects came in at $5 billion, according to the author.

The author also relates that at the time he wrote the book, 4,471 United States military personnel had been killed in Iraq, and of that number 913 were suicides.

 

TO END ALL WARS

A STORY OF LOYALTY AND REBELLION, 1914-1918

By Adam Hochschild

World War I was one of the world’s most tragic wars, until of course the even larger tragedy of World War II. The German Kaiser effectively started World War I, and France and England, in spite of enormous losses were about to lose it, until two million of Woodrow Wilson’s U.S.  Troops turned the tide, and ultimately forced a Germany armistice.

In addition to a general history of this tragic conflict, the book includes an extensive portrayal of the peace movement in England and the many conscious objectors, a subject not generally found in books about wars.

The book also portrays the erosion of popular support for the war in England, as the enormity of English casualties began to sink in among the general population.

Letter: Despite Previously Enjoying Klinck’s Support, Daily Endorses Crawford

To the Editor:

Wow!  What a surprise and disappointment.  I just received a promotional piece for Jim Crawford—candidate for the 33rd District State Senate seat.  While I am sure Mr. Crawford is a worthy candidate, as is his opponent Mary Ellen Klinck, I was shocked to see he is heavily endorsed by retiring Senator Eileen Daily.

Twenty years ago Mary Ellen Klinck worked tirelessly to help Ms. Daily get elected to her first term as State Senator.  Over the years, Mary Ellen donated time, money, her years of experience with the Democratic Party, and even her home to host fundraisers—all to benefit Ms. Daily.

I would have hoped Ms. Daily to be a better person.  For her to turn her back on a loyal, hard-working friend is discouraging and wrong.  The better solution would have been for Ms. Daily to simply wish both candidates good luck.

Sincerely,

Jim Johnson
Moodus, CT  

Maritime Musician Geoff Kaufman to Perform at River Museum on August 16

Maritime folk musician Geoff Kaufman performs on August 16 and August 30 at the Connecticut River Museum’s Thursdays at the Dock summer series

Essex, CT – On Thursday, August 16, maritime musician Geoff Kaufman returns to the Connecticut River Museum’s Thursdays at the Dock summer series to perform songs of the River and the sea.  Skilled in a variety of string instruments, Kaufman is known for his traditional maritime music including sea chantey and ballads.  His resume spans 28 years including 15 years as a member of the powerhouse quartet Forebitter, based at Mystic Seaport.  He will also perform again on August 30.

Now in its fifth summer season, “Thursdays at the Dock” extends the Museum’s daily hours by opening the first floor galleries, museum shop and North deck from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm every Thursday evening through August 30.  All are invited to sample the River’s great heritage and natural beauty while enjoying music and cocktails on the waterfront.  Each week, featured area musicians perform a diverse mix of maritime folk, bluegrass, folk rock, and other popular styles.   Admission is $5 per person, museum members are admitted free.  Cash bar and light snacks will be available.  For more information on Thursdays at the Dock, go to www.ctrivermuseum.org or call 860-767-8269.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street on the historic waterfront in Essex, CT.

Trustees and Directors Elected and Strong Financials Reported by Essex Savings Bank

Essex, CT– Mr. Kenneth Gibble, Chairman of Essex Savings Bank announced the election of Directors and Trustees at the Bank’s 161st annual meeting held July 23, 2012 at the Old Lyme Country Club in Old Lyme, CT.  Incumbents Kenneth Gibble, Geoffrey Jacobson, Jayne Mather and Granville Morris were re-elected to the Board of Directors for a three year term.  New Directors elected for staggered terms were Denise Learned, Doug Paul, Mary Boone and Jeffrey Dunn. Incumbents Geoffrey Jacobson, Jayne Mather, Thomas Badik, Todd Machnik, Barry Maynard, Judy Preston and Peter Bonanno were re-elected as Trustees for a five year term. New Trustees elected for staggered terms were Emily Eisenlohr, John Baurer, Kel Tyler, Wayne D’Amico, Mary Stalsburg and Anne Yurasek.

Mr. Gregory R. Shook, Bank President and CEO, reported on the financial condition of the Bank for the first nine months of the fiscal year and said, “It is gratifying to state that the Bank continues to prosper in our 161st year. Our earnings remain strong year to date and are tracking ahead of last year which was one of our most profitable years in history.  Assets increased by $13 million to $307.8 million, even after paying down Federal Home Loan Bank borrowings by $8 million.  Deposits increased by $19 million while capital increased by $1.5 million to over $37.8 million, far exceeding regulatory requirements.  We continue to report that our credit quality remains ahead of our peer group and believe we are in the best possible position for the challenges and opportunities of the current economic environment.” It was also noted in the meeting that the Bank’s Trust Department had impressive growth in raising their assets to over $244 million due to the leadership efforts of Mr. Granville Morris, Senior Vice President, Senior Trust Officer and Ms. Moira Martin Vice President.

Mr. John W. Rafal, President of Essex Financial Services, said, “Despite challenging economic conditions, assets under management increased by $385 million to $3.785 billion from last year.  Mr. Rafal stated that Essex Financial Services is now one of the top 20 independent Registered Investment Advisors in the country in managed assets.  He also reported a record breaking increase in revenue of 13.5% compared to the same period last year.

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

Letters: Consider Voting for Jim Crawford

To the Editor:

With Senator Eileen Daily retiring at the end of her term, Democrats have the opportunity to choose a candidate in the upcoming primary. I ask that Democrats consider voting for Jim Crawford who earned the party’s endorsement in May.

I first met Jim as a student in his classroom at the Westbrook Middle School over 20 years ago. I called him Mr. Crawford back then. He inspired us to get involved in our community through his passionate love of civics and democracy. It’s no surprise that a number of his students went on to public policy careers on both sides of the political aisle.

Jim also ran his family business, the Maples Motel, for more than two decades in Westbrook. He understands the challenges small business owners face in this economy, having sustained the business through good times and bad.

Recently Jim became more involved in local government, serving as a Selectman in Westbrook and now as a State Representative. He understands the complex legislative process and is often called upon by his colleagues for his experience as both an educator and small business owner.

Please join me in supporting the party endorsed candidate for the State Senate, Jim Crawford, in the primary on August 14th.

Sincerely,

Lon Seidman
33rd District Democratic State Central Committeeman


Let’s Put Them Away for Another Year

With July 4th behind us, Chris Shane and Madhu Dave, owner of Essex Wine and Spirits are taking down the bunting  from the Ivoryton Gazebo. But don’t worry, the US Flags will be up for the whole summer. Dave, who was a major contributor to the flag purchase, said “I was happy to help. The flags make downtown Ivoryton look great.”

The Gallery at Riverside Press is Opening New Show of Four Local Artists Aug 12

Saybrook Marsh by John Berube

John Berube of Chester: John studied art at a young age and painted through his early twenties. Picking up a brush again 12 years ago he studied with artist & author Maurice Sendak and is now concentrating on his love for local seascapes and marshes in a modern impressionistic style using acrylics.

Lesley Braren of East Hampton: Enjoys doing work ranging from landscapes, still life and into abstract. Love of nature and experimenting with different media to capture the mood and the moment.

Rob DeBartolo of Centerbrook: Artist and printer explores his deep connection to color and it’s limitless possibilities through monotypes, poured inks, pastel, acrylics and collage from   realism to minimalism.

Deborah Quinn-Munson of Chester,: Composes and creates paintings filled with reflection, movement, color, depth, light & atmosphere, desiring to keep the message simple & clear with a feeling of peace & beauty. Working in pastel, oil. and watercolor.

Opening Reception Sunday August 12 from 2-4pm.

The show runs from August 13 to September 21 2012

The Gallery at Riverside Press
18 Plains Road
Essex, CT  06426

860-767-8752

Open Monday through Friday 10-4, by chance on Saturday 1-4

Family Maritime Festival & Concert at Connecticut River Museum on August 11

The Connecticut River Museum’s Family Maritime Festival and Concert, scheduled for Saturday, August 11, will feature maritime games and activities, schooner cruises and an evening concert. For more information, go to call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

Essex, CT – Gather the entire crew and head down to Essex’s historic waterfront on Saturday, August 11 for a boat load of family fun and entertainment.  The Connecticut River Museum’s Annual Family Maritime Festival starts at 1 pm with maritime games and activities, all free of charge throughout the afternoon.  Learn how to make rope, caulk a ship, or sing a sea chantey or two.  And for those who want to get out on the water, the historic schooner Mary E will set sail at 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 6:00 pm for a leisurely sail along the Connecticut River.  Tickets for the 1.5 hour afternoon cruises are $26 for adults and $16 for children age 12 and under.  Tickets for the two-hour sunset cruise are $30 per person, all ages. Advance reservations are recommended.

At 5:00 pm, the Connecticut River Museum’s Annual Picnic and Concert gets underway with all invited to bring a blanket or chair and picnic dinner to enjoy while  listening to sea chanteys performed by the Freemen of the Sea and calypso party music performed by The Sun Kings.  Wine, beer, and soda will also be available for purchase.  Festival activities and concert are free of charge thanks to a sponsorship by Guilford Savings Bank.  For more information on the day’s events, call 860-767-8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

Canoe & Kayak Around Thatchbed Island and South Cove August 9

Here’s a great opportunity to enjoy one Essex’s most scenic paddles! Join naturalist Phil Miller and kayaking enthusiast Kathy LaBella in touring around Thatchbed Island and venturing to Turtle Creek Cove on Thursday August 9.

Learn about the area’s natural history and experience close-up views of birds and plants and the beauty of Middle and South Coves. Departure is promptly at 5 pm so participants should plan to arrive ahead of time to launch their canoe’s/kayaks. Open to paddlers of all ages, but basic experience in paddling is required.

This is an Essex Great Outdoors Pursuit event. Launch from Essex Town Park on Main Street. Park behind the Post Office at 12 Main Street, Essex. Bad weather cancels.

Jim Crawford is Approved for Public Financing

Jim Crawford, the endorsed Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 33rd Senatorial District

WESTBROOK — Jim Crawford, the endorsed Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 33rd Senatorial District, announced today that his campaign has received final approval for public financing under Connecticut’s Citizens’ Elections Program—the nation’s leading clean elections initiative.

Crawford’s campaign had successfully raised the necessary $15,000 in donations of $100 or less from more than 300 local donors over two weeks ago, but waited until its application received final approval late last week before making an announcement.

“I am delighted to be participating in public campaign financing, and to have qualified through the support of hundreds of small local donors. Now I can focus entirely on talking to voters about the issues that matter most—growing our economy again, and creating the jobs that so many people need,” said Crawford.

He continued, “The Citizen’s Elections Program has successfully removed the influence of big corporate money on state politics in Connecticut, and more candidates are now running for office than ever before. Compared to what is happening in other states in the aftermath of Citizens United, Connecticut is leading the country by example, showing how clean campaigns can be waged and won. Every Connecticut resident, of all parties, should be proud of this system.”

Jim Crawford, currently serving his first term as a State Representative, is a native of the 33rd Senatorial District. He served as an officer in the US Army after college, then began a 37-year teaching career in the Westbrook Public Schools. During that time, Jim also owned and operated a small business, the Maples Motel, with his wife Elaine. They have two grown children.

The 33rd Senatorial District is comprised of twelve towns which stretch from shore of Long Island Sound up the Connecticut River toward the center of the state: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Letters: I’m for Crawford

To the Editor:
Tuesday, August 14th is Primary Day in Connecticut.  I serve four of the twelve towns within the 33rd Senatorial District, Haddam, Chester, Deep River, and Essex.  Democrats in all these twelve towns will choose a State Senate candidate this month for the November election.  I’m supporting State Representative Jim Crawford.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and business owner who in just his first House term has served with distinction on several committees, including Energy and Transportation.  He worked to make successful clean energy initiatives a reality, and he helped sustain the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry.  He helped work toward common ground on a very difficult education bill which may have otherwise disrupted the progress of our schools.
Jim Crawford is humble, and his style is to prepare and build consensus by listening and finding common interests.  He will use sound judgement with his skills and knowledge in the State Senate.  He is ready to serve.
I urge 33rd District Democrats to vote for Jim Crawford on Tuesday, August 14th at your regular town polling place.  Thank you.
Sincerely,
Philip Miller, Ivoryton
 
Philip Miller represents the 36th District in the House of Representatives

Essex Historical Society and Essex Park and Rec. Provide Recreational History

Essex Park and Rec campers on the steps of Grove Street Cemetery

Every summer, Essex Park and Recreation educates and entertains kids attending their Summer Camp. Each week-long session boasts a different theme, allowing campers to explore subjects that pique their interest, and each session features a field trip or special event which relates to the theme.

The “Stars and Stripes” session held the week of Independence Day focused on our nation’s past and featured arts and crafts, relay races and other activities related the celebration of our independence.

The field trip treated campers to history a little closer to home: Susan Malan of the Essex Historical Society and Willi Harreys of Essex Park and Rec. led the 27 campers on the ‘Essex Only Freedom Trail,’ immersing them in the tales of times past. Malan guided the group down Prospect Street and used the current landscape to both tell the stories of buildings still standing and illuminate what major changes have occurred. The last stop on the tour – Grove Street Cemetery – provided the campers with a prime example of historical preservation. Meticulously restored in 1996, the cemetery continues to be maintained by the River View Cemetery, Inc. After their stroll into the past and back, the young history buffs picnicked at the nearby Grove Street Park and were left to ponder the past of Essex that Park and Rec Summer Camp exposed them to.

Vin Pacileo Qualifies for Public Financing

Vin Pacileo, the Republican candidate for State Representative in the 36th District

AREAWIDE – Vin Pacileo, the Republican candidate for State Representative in the 36th District, today announced that his campaign submitted the required documents to qualify for funding under the Connecticut Citizens’ Election Program.

“This is a great accomplishment for our campaign. My thanks to the people of the 36th District for their support and enthusiasm, which has allowed us to meet the public financing requirements,” Pacileo said. “Our campaign received contributions from 191 individuals for a total of $6,050. We are proud that 93 percent of the contributors and dollars came from individuals who reside in the 36th District.”

Vin is currently the Director of Administrative Services for the Town of Stonington, Connecticut where he leads the labor relations, human resources and information technology organizations. In addition, he served for three terms on the Board of Selectman in Essex and prior to that service, was elected to the Essex Board of Finance and Essex Elementary School Board of Education. He is an active member of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, serving as a Lector and Eucharistic Minister, and is a member of the Knights of Columbus organization.

“Now that our campaign has qualified for public financing, we can continue focusing our energy on engaging the residents of the 36th District,” Pacileo said. “People remain frustrated with the State’s poor economy, higher taxes, and out of control spending. They want a return to common sense leadership that creates an environment of opportunity for individuals, families, and business owners.”

The 36th Assembly District is made up of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Deep River P & Z Sets Aug 16 Public Hearing on Commercial Building Reuse

DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission has scheduled an Aug. 16 public hearing on a special permit application for reuse of a vacant commercial building at 246 Main Street. The hearing begins at 7 p.m. in town hall.
Building owner Peter Kehayias of Chester and local resident Andrea Chiapa are seeking approval to open three businesses in the building located on the southern end of Main Street, also known as Route 154, near the entrance to Devitts Field. The building, previously owned by local resident Donald Slater, had previously contained an Irish gifts shop. The structure has been vacant for more than two years.
Chiapa has proposed opening a dress shop, a flower shop, and a “cupcake cafe” in the building. Zoning Enforcement Officer Cathy Jefferson said the site plan calls for no significant structural changes to the building, which has contained more than one business in past years. Jefferson said the plan to open a cafe selling cupcakes, coffees and teas is what triggered the requirement for a special permit application and public hearing before the commission.