August 29, 2014

Region 4 Schools Remain Closed Thursday and Friday, Ivoryton Post Office Shut Down by Tree Damage

Tree damage to the roof of Ivoryton Post Office (photo by Jerome Wilson).

AREAWIDE— Region 4 schools will remain closed Thursday and Friday, as John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River continues to be used as an emergency shelter for residents of the district towns of Chester,Deep River and Essex.  In another development in the wake of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy Monday, the Ivoryton Post Office has been closed after a large tree fell on the building’s roof and caused extensive damage. The building is expected to remain closed for up to a month.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy announced the school closing Wednesday afternoon. District schools have been closed since the arrival of the storm Monday, making for a full week of missed classes due to Hurricane Sandy. Levy said the emergency shelter at the middle school is expected top remain open through Friday.

Though some sections of Deep River and the Ivoryton section of Essex had electric power restored overnight Wednesday, large sections of Deep River, Chester, and Essex remain without electricity. Only portions of the Centerbrook section of Essex were spared outages from the storm. Levy said about 500 meals were served to residents at the middle school cafeteria Tuesday, with at least 30 people staying overnight at the shelter. Dozens more used the shower facilities at the school.

Levy said the school district is paying most of the costs of the emergency shelter in anticipation of later reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A costumed Halloween parade was held at the middle school Wrednesday afternoon after traditional Halloween activities, such as the parade in Essex, were cancelled. The Ivoryton Post Office is closed after a large tree fell during the storm and breached the roof of the structure.

A postal employee said Wednesday the 275 boxholders at the Ivoryton facility will be able to pick up mail at the Centerbrook Post Office using there regular postal box numbers. The Ivoryton Post Office, which was built in the 1960s, is expected to remain closed for up to a month for repairs to the building’s roof.

Board of Education Update from Essex Board of Education Chairman

Dear friends,

Here’s the latest info I have:

School Closure Update:

I just received word that schools will be closed for the remainder of the week. Please help spread the word.

The AlertNow system suffered a failure that prevented our administrators from getting communications out to all of you. I am told it is now back up and running so you should be receiving notifications through there shortly. We will certainly review what happened with them once we get schools reopened. I suggest that if you do not have power but have a battery operated radio, tune into WLIS 1420 AM for updates. Please also help to share the news with your friends and neighbors who may not have internet access.

A note from Stacia Libby regarding Halloween activities in Essex:

The Halloween Parade that was scheduled for the evening in downtown Essex will NOT be rescheduled. There will be no Essex Parade for 2012. The parade at JWJHS at 2:30 p.m. today (October 31) is open to ALL ages. If you have candy please feel free to bring it to distribute to the children. Finally, with regards to Trick or Treating this evening, please limit your canvassing in areas in town that still do not have power. There are many sections of town that do have power, we encourage you to Trick or Treat in these areas of town. Again, if anyone has any additional questions please feel free to message me or contact me on my cell phone at 860-662-0928. Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Lon Seidman -Essex Board of Education Chairman

PMLE – The Sun is now Sally’s Great Enemy

Boston—I had spoken to my dear friend Sally on the phone now and then but hadn’t seen her in quite a while. On a visit here I was stunned to see the horrors she has been going through lately.

Awful!

As you know, we read of new medical breakthroughs all the time. Fantastic, incredible breakthroughs.

Well, it turns out there are also terrible new afflictions coming up all the time. Dreadful afflictions impossible to imagine.

Sally has an awful one. I never heard of it. She told me about it, but only after I noticed how strangely she dressed she was to go outside. It was a nice day—late September at its best. I had stayed with her at her townhouse overnight. Now, breakfast over, we were going out for a little walk.

The sun was behind a cloud for the moment. It was warm out and I was fine in my short sleeves. I had left my tie off and my collar was open.

But Sally was going out so over-dressed. She was wearing long pants. She had a long-sleeved blouse on with the sleeves and the collar buttoned. In fact, she had three layers on. Plus a long-sleeved jacket with the collar buttoned and in fact the collar turned up. Plus a scarf wrapped around her neck.

Sally will venture outside now only when protected to the maximum this way

She was also wearing long gloves, and had carefully tucked them into her jacket sleeves.

Finally she put on a hat. It had a big, wide brim all around. And just before she opened the door for us to step out, she pulled her jacket collar up as high as possible. Pulled the brim as far down all around as possible. And adjusted the scarf to cover as much of her cheeks as possible.

As I say, this was a nice late-summer day. I was sure that nobody, nobody else in all of Boston was dressed this way. Oh, maybe a nut. Or some criminal hiding from the law maybe.

I was startled by her get-up. This was not the Sally I remembered. And she noticed.

“Yeah, I know I look strange. I have a medical problem, John.” She said it matter of factly. As if not news. “It’s called PMLE.”

“PMLE! What the heck is that?”

“That was my reaction, too. I was surprised just like you when my doctor told me. I had never heard of it. It stands for polymorphous light eruption.”

“Polymorphous what?”

“Polymorphous light eruption. Yes, it’s an awful name. A real mouthful.”

“I never heard of it. And I’m up on such things.”

“I’m sensitive to UVA ultra-violet light. Sunshine! Yes, sunshine! I’m extremely sensitive to it. It does an awful job on me. I have to shield myself against it. I dress like this to walk to my office. I dress like this to do anything and everything outside. It has really, really changed my life.

“I used to love the sun. Now the sun is my enemy. I don’t dare step outside without an outfit like this. I go out as little as possible.” She took the brim of her hat and pulled it down even tighter.

“And it’s such a nuisance to have to dress this way. I plan everything so I go out as little as possible. Not just to buy a newspaper. Or to take out the rubbish. Or to chat with a neighbor. I’ve stopped all that.

“In the house I make sure I don’t let the sun shine in, ever. I’ve had a special coating put on all my windows to shield me. I need protection even when the sun is behind a cloud, like this right now. Yes, when I’m in my own house. It’s an awful way to live. But I have no choice. Otherwise I’d be a mess. In fact, I’ll show you when we go back in.”

Now, the truth. Sally is not her real name. I’ve called her Sally to protect her privacy. In fact, she insisted on that. She’s a professional lady. Sometimes people misunderstand. She’s trying to minimize her problem. Not easy when she has to take such extreme and publicly visible precautions.

I’ve changed some of her other details, too. All she’ll let me say is that she has a profession. “I’m lucky that in my work I have limited contact with the public.”

And she’s had a committed relationship with a man for ten years. “He’s supportive. Very supportive. I’m sure it’s very hard for him at times. So, I’m lucky that way, too.”

We had a good talk about all this.

A big outbreak. Very uncomfortable. It takes a while of no exposure for this to calm down

Inside again, I whistled when she showed me pictures of herself suffering from PMLE. Pictures of her bare back and upper chest. An awful rash. Never knew a rash could be so extreme and so devastating. Red, burning, itching skin. Very hard to live with.

She pointed to her neck and shoulders in one picture.

“This was at the height of one attack,” she said.  “But I have avoided this level of severity for 10 months. Thank God! By going out as little as possible. And you saw how I dress when I do.

“I take meds every day, too—two different anti-histamines. Sometimes I worry about possible side effects.”

It became even more fascinating when she told me background stuff.

“I was severely burned when I was 21. Sunbathing! I loved going to the beach.

“That seemed to be the start of this. Afterward I had odd reactions to being out in the sun. Red, blotchy outbreaks like this. I couldn’t figure it out. It was bad but I didn’t go around moaning. It got worse.

“I mentioned it to my primary care doctor, of course. He made suggestions. I was a good patient. Then I went to a dermatologist. Felt I had to. He figured it out. PMLE! That was a year ago. Bad news. I live with PMLE every day.”

It turns out you can have various degrees of it. There are light cases. Often they go away after a while. Then moderate cases. Then severe cases.

Sally discovered an online PMLE group. It has close to a thousand people.  All backgrounds. Many different places. Most in places with lots of sunshine. She checks in often. “We learn from one another.”

One thing she’s learned is no known cause for MBLE. It seems that her terrible sunturn years ago had nothing to do with her MBLE. That seems strange. Studies are continuing.

She’s found out that she must layer her clothes. Choose very dense fabrics. One layer isn’t enough. “The rays can penetrate!” In fact, she buys some items especially made to be protective against UVA.

She’s even had her car windows coated. So she can’t drive with the windows open any more.

She went on. “Summer is most difficult. All those clothes! It gets awfully hot. And I stand out a lot more. Some people stare. One good thing is that it’s very rare for anybody to remark about it or ask questions. I’m sure some are tempted.

“So, it’s easier in the winter. Much shorter days.  Far less sunshine. And I don’t stand out as much when I go out.”

She’s developed strategies to help her cope. Last January she and her man went to Iceland for a vacation. It’s farther north, of course. Only five hours of daylight a day. And such a relaxing place. A smile. “We had a grand time. It did me a lot of good.”

Again she paused.  “There are worse things, I’m sure. I believe that I have a severe case. I have no doubt about it. Now I’m slowly accepting PMLE better.

“Of course, I keep hoping that it will clear up. But so far I haven’t had any indication that it will.” She managed a thin smile. “What will be will be, I guess.”

I mentioned up top that MBLE is a little-known affliction. Let’s hope that none of us ever get to know it better. Personally, I mean.

33rd State Senate Candidates Cordial in Final debate

AREAWIDE— The three candidates for the open 33rd Senate District seat noted differences but appeared cordial Wednesday in the final public debate of the campaign in the 12-town district that was held in the auditorium of Morgan High School in Clinton.

Democrat Jim Crawford, Republican Art Linares, and Green Party candidate Melissa Schlag answered questions posed by students in the Morgan High School Political Club in the one hour session. About 80 voters turned out for the debate, including some Killingworth residents interested in a debate between the two candidates for the 35th House district seat that preceded the state senate face-off.

The 35th House District seat has been represented for the past two years by Crawford, a former Westbrook selectman. The district includes Clinton, Killingworth and most of Westbrook, but for the past decade Killingworth has been part of the Guilford-Madison-based 12th Senate District, not the 33rd.

The student questions included a one about about party affiliation, and what bothers them about their respective parties. Crawford, a former middle school teacher, said Democrats are the “party of opportunity,” while Schlag, a Haddam resident, said environmental issues, including the now cancelled Connecticut River land swap, led her to run on the Green Party line.

Linares, a 24-year-old political newcomer from Westbrook, acknowledged a disagreement he has with many national Republicans. ” I don’t believe in taking a pledge that you would never raise taxes in any circumstances,” he said, adding ” the only pledge I make is to help real people solve real problems.” But Linares stressed there is no need for new taxes in Connecticut today, criticizing Crawford for supporting the 2011 state budget that included tax increases while also pledging to work to reduce both the state income tax and taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel.

Crawford the tax increases adopted last year were intended to address a $3.5 billion state budget shortfall that had developed in previous years. “There was no way we could cut our way out of that,” he said, adding the 2011 budget preserved state aid and grants for cities and towns. Crawford said spending cuts could cover any lingering state budget shortfall that is estimated to total less than one percent of total expenditures.

Schlag contended both Crawford and Linares would be too willing to follow political party lines at the Capitol. “There should be no such thing as “the aisle”, Schlag said, declaring she would be “your independent voice,” in the state senate.

The three candidates seeking to succeed retiring ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook had debated previously on Oct. 17 at Valley Regional High School in Deep River. The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Blues guitarist John Hammond comes to Chester Nov. 18

John Hammond

From the Blues Hall of Fame to the historic Chester Meetinghouse comes John Hammond, a legend in the world of acoustic blues guitar. His concert, to be held Sunday, Nov. 18 at 5:00 p.m., is sponsored by the Collomore Music Series in its 39th season.

Hammond has been likened by critics to Robert Johnson, combining powerful guitar and harmonica playing with expressive vocals. Tom Waits describes “John’s sound as so compelling, complete, and soulful it is impossible to imagine improving on it. He’s a great force of nature.” A seven-times Grammy nominee, Hammond was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2011.

Concert tickets are $21. For students from elementary through graduate school, a ticket is $5. All ticket-holders are invited to stay for a reception after the concert to meet John Hammond. Ticket info: (860) 526-5162 or www.collomoreconcerts.org. The Chester Meetinghouse is located on 4 Liberty Street in Chester (Exit 6 off Rte. 9). The concert is sponsored by Essex Savings Bank and Essex Financial Services.

VRHS Student Interviews Julie Andrews

Valley Regional High School student Laura Harkness recently had the opportunity to interview Julie Andrews about her new book that is being turned into a musical “The Great American Mousical.” She talked to her about the inspiration behind the book and what she likes about working with Goodspeed and in particular, The Norma Terris Theater.

Q: When you were writing your book, was it your intention to be a musical?

A: No, not at all. The reason being, at the time I couldn’t conceive how it could’ve been a musical. I think in the best of all possible worlds, maybe it could’ve been an animated film. But I never thought of it being a live musical for the theatre, even though it is a book about theatre. And we sent the book as a gift to Mr. Micheal Price at Goodspeed Musicals (Executive Director) and Mr. Alwine at Goodspeed Musicals (Associate Producer) and to our astonishment, from this gift, within 48 hours they came back and said, ‘We’d love to acquire the rights and develop it for the theater as a musical.’ And the difficulty in adapting it for the stage is the perspective issue. It is about a group of performing mice who have their own theater beneath the boards of a great Broadway theater. So how do you have actors playing mice and make it believable and get the audience to accept that? So, it’s one of the reasons that we never thought of it as being possible, and all of a sudden here we are just about to start rehearsals tomorrow!

Q: Are you excited for that?

A: Yes, very and quite thrilled with what we do have. Because we now have a new scene developed and a script for the musical by a lovely guy called Hunter Bell who has done a such honor by developing some of the characters; more than we could’ve ever have hoped. And then the music and the lyrics, the music is by Zina Goldrich and the lyrics are by a lady called Marcy Heisler and they’ve done us proud.

Q: What was the inspiration for the book?

A: Something quite silly! I was performing on Broadway and somebody announced that there was a live mouse in the wardrobe department. I suggested that instead of a killer trap, that they could have a heart trap (a humane trap) it in the wardrobe department and maybe they would be kind to carry the mouse out and deposit it somewhere far, far away. And they were realizing, of course, that Broadway in general is riddled with mice below the boards of any theater. But this one little mouse I just said, ‘Oh please, dear, look after him! Take it away.’ And then somebody said, jokingly, ‘He probably came up to see the stars above the stage!’ And a light bulb went off my head, and I go, ‘That would be the best idea for a middle grade novel!’ So, I began to write it with my daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. And in the end result, here we are! It was written about 7 years ago and acquired about certainly 6 years ago.

Q: You’ve written other books with her, your daughter…

A: Yes. I’ve written, to date, about 22 with her and other 5 just coming out soon.

Q: Oh really! That’s exciting!

A: Yeah thank you!

Q: Yeah, that’s so cool. So, what’s it like to write with her?

A: A joy, an absolute joy. It would be as if I’m sitting across from you, and you were once this high (measures two feet off of the ground), and now I’m talking with my daughter as an absolute full grown woman with her own talent and her own thoughts of humor. We are very compatible. We finish each other’s sentences when we write like, ‘I was just going to say that!’ That kind of thing.

We laugh a lot, we drink a lot of tea together, and we’ve never had an argument. We have different strengths and the best idea wins in our opinion. So if we might have a discussion about something, there’s this sort of unspoken feeling that if each other one of us is most passionate about an issue is probably right.

Q: Out of all of the places, you chose Chester, CT. Why did you choose this town?

A: Well first of all, this is the second stage for the Goodspeed Musicals, this lovely Norma Terris Theater in Chester. Since Mrs. Price and Mr. Alwine acquired the rights here. This is also one of the rare few theaters where you can get something up on its feet and it isn’t judged. The audience knows that it’s a work in progress. So this allows us here, that rare opportunity of developing something that we hope is going to be terrific, and we feel it is. But it allows us to find out what we have in that speaks, so to speak.

Q: Okay, I have one last question. Do you have any advice for aspiring singers and writers, such as myself?

A: Yeah, I do. I’ve been asked that question a lot.

Q: Oh yeah, I bet.

A: And that is, if you’re passionate about what you do, then go for it wholeheartedly. Be prepared that if anytime, you may be surprised by a phenomenal opportunity that may come your way, and that’s when I say, do your homework. Be ready. Because you never know when something’s going to be offered to you and you say, ‘Oh my gosh!’ So in other words, be prepared to go.

Q: Thank you so much! Thank you.

A: Oh, you’re welcome.

Candidate Art Linares Endorsed by Connecticut Business and Industry Association

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) recently endorsed Art Linares for election to the state Senate in Connecticut’s 33rd District.

In endorsing Linares, CBIA president and CEO John R. Rathgeber said, “Connecticut clearly needs lawmakers who can restore business confidence in our state so that employers invest, grow and create jobs here. We believe Art Linares is committed to making Connecticut a better state in which to do business, which means more and better jobs for our residents.”

Rathgeber continued, “We need legislators in Hartford who will make the tough decisions necessary to help our economic recovery and create more job opportunities for the state’s citizens. We believe Art has the qualities to make an outstanding legislator and we urge the voters in the 33rd District to support his candidacy.”

Linares welcomed the overwhelming support of Connecticut’s largest business organization, “I thank CBIA for their endorsement of my campaign and I am proud to have the support of such an important business group who understands we must elect leaders who will promote policies that will enable our economy to grow and lead to sustainable job growth. For too long companies in Connecticut have struggled with the high cost of business, it is time we reverse the trend of higher taxes, higher energy costs and expanding regulations. As a small business owner I will do my part in the state Senate to reduce government spending, lower taxes and promote pro-job growth legislation to improve our economy.”

Art Linares, who lives in Westbrook, is seeking election to the 33rd District, which includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.
CBIA is Connecticut’s largest business organization with 10,000 member companies who is the leading voice in Connecticut that promote economic growth, a fiscally responsible state government, and a dynamic business climate. For more information, please visit www.cbia.com/newsroom.

Letter: Environmentalists

To the Editor:

The Associated Press and NBC News staff recently reported that the “relentless, weather-gone crazy type of heat that blistered the U.S. last summer is so rare that it can’t be anything but man-made global warming.” This statement is pure global warming hype gone crazy. Consider that James lovelock, the guru of global warming hysteria who predicted the death of billions of humans due to global warming, admits now that he was an alarmist and is debunking the entire cabal. Lovelock and forty-nine others from NASA have stated that the idea that human action is responsible for climate change is not credible. Lovelock went further and stated that the modern green movement has become a religion that uses guilt to gain support. I will describe the movement as out of control and a threat to our independence and economic freedom.

Environmental extremists and some media, however, continue to posit the ludicrous idea that “global warming” and its first cousin “rising sea levels” are human inspired.  Global temperatures and sea levels have been ever-changing for over twenty-one thousand years. The reasons are clear: variations of solar output, changes in the earth’s orbit and continental drift. Carbon Dioxide does not drive changes in the climate-nature does. Moreover, the deified expert on sea levels, Swedish geologist and physicist, Niles-Axel Morner , recently stated that all this jabber about rising sea levels is a “colossal scare story.” Meanwhile, there have been tens of billions of tax-payer dollars spent and over-reaching regulations enforced to combat “The Hoax.”

Rising sea level hysteria is predicated on global warming hysteria. Both are outrageous fallacies. Did you know that the environmental satellite, Envisat, shows no rising sea levels in the past four years? Yet, environmental activists along with some of our government leaders continue to use the first cousin myths to gain control through regulations, land acquisition and taxes. I wonder, do these environmentalist gone crazy, who have outstripped the reasoned environmentalist of the past, truly believe that carbon emissions interfere with the cycles of nature? It is audacious to think that some of us, including a hefty number of scientists (whose numbers are shrinking fast) believe that humans, tinier than pygmy marmosets in the scheme of things, have a twit to do with global warming and cooling or sea level rise and fall. The hubris here is mind boggling.

So what drives all the hysteria? The engine driving the bad science being foisted on us is plain and simple lust for authority and greed. Environmentalists have been gobbling-up land with regulations based on bad science and greed for years. Also consider the fact that if we get rid of fossil fuel by making it non-competitive, radical environmentalist, with their sketchy green technology, are poised to sachet in to take unprecedented  control over private property and pocket billions of more dollars. Global warming hype is a cash cow; consider Al Gore who has become wealthy beyond belief from carbon-credits. The bureaucrats get rich with power and money while the rest of us suffer from debilitating taxes and arbitrary intervention.

Make no mistake, radical environmentalist are messing around with property rights right here in Connecticut. Earlier in the year, the environmental committee brought forth the Strategic Retreat Bill (HB5128). Recognizing that the bill seriously threatened property rights, there was considerable push-back by concerned citizens. The bill was then renamed the “Rising Seas Bill.” Representative Phil Miller, vice chair of the environmental committee, admitted to the New Haven Register that in the new bill (passed late at night and after the deadline set by our constitution) was tweaked to make the language more palatable. Huh! Do these environmental extremist think that changing the code words faster than the weather changes the facts?

Enough is enough. Modern environmentalists have shot way past stewardship and it is up to the citizens of this great country to elect leaders who understand that “global warming” and “rising sea levels” are the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the human community and that private property is the most important guarantee of our Freedoms.

Sincerely,

Alison Nichols,
Essex, CT

Past Votes the Focus of 36th District Miller Pacileo Debate

Republican candidate Vin Pacileo and Democratic candidate Representative Phil Miller at Tuesday’s debate for the state House of Representatives (Photos by Jerome Wilson)

AREAWIDE— Votes on the state budget and other issues during the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions were the focus of Tuesday’s debate between the two rivals for the 36th House District seat, incumbent Democratic State Rep Phil Miller and Republican challenger Vince Pacileo.

About 40 voters turned out for the debate held in the auditorium at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, less than half the number that turned out in the same hall for the Oct. 17 debate between the three candidates for the 33rd Senate District seat. The debate was sponsored by the Essex Library Association, with Library Director Richard Conroy posing questions that had been submitted in advance by district voters. The 36th House District includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

Miller, a former four-term first selectman of Essex, was elected in a February 2011 special election for the seat that had been held for a decade by Democrat James Spallone of Essex. Spallone resigned weeks after winning election for a fifth term to take a job as deputy secretary of the state. Pacileo had served with Miller as the minority Republican on the Essex Board of Selectmen from 2003 to 2009. Pacileo was also the unsuccessful Republican challenger to Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily in the 33rd District in 2008.

While serving as a state representative in the past two legislative sessions, Miller cast votes on a 2011-2012 state budget that included numerous tax increases, and several other issues such as allowing sale and use of medical marijuana for certain conditions and repeal of the state’s death penalty. Pacileo made several of these votes, particularly those involving taxes and spending, a focus of criticism during the 90-minute debate.

Pacileo contended the tax increases the Democrat’s legislative majority had approved in 2011 to cover a $3.5 billion budget shortfall have hampered the economic recovery in Connecticut, and the four district towns. “Small business owners are suffering under the tax policies of this administration,” he said.

Pacileo called for reducing the state income tax and repealing the estate tax, while ending a state earned income tax credit for low paid workers that was initiated last year. He called for restoring the state tax exemption for purchases of clothing costing less than $50.

Miller defended his 2001 budget and tax votes, noting majority Democrats had not “kicked the can down the road” by adopting a state budget plan that addressed the large budget shortfall while preserving state aid and grants for cities and towns. “Our cities and towns were held harmless,” he said, adding the state aid helped limit hikes in municipal property taxes.

Miller said any remaining state budget shortfall would be covered by spending cuts, but he would not commit to supporting any possible tax reductions during the next two-year term. “Nobody likes to raise taxes but that is what governments do,” he said.

Miller also defended his votes earlier this year in favor of medical marijuana and repealing the death penalty. Pacileo called for restoring the death penalty, and suggested there should have been further medical research before allowing medical marijuana.

A question on protecting the Connecticut River led Pacileo to contend Miller had shifted positions last year on the controversial but now cancelled Connecticut River land swap that would have exchanged land near the river for interior forest land in Haddam. Pacileo said Miller was “for it before he was against it.” Miller said he had listened to initial presentations on the land swap, but opposed the deal after learning more and led an unsuccessful effort in the House to block a broader statewide land conveyance bill that included the Haddam properties.

Miller said he brings municipal government experience to the Legislature, and described Pacileo as “an ideologue,” adding “if you think the sky is falling he’s probably a better person to vote for.” Pacileo said the 36th District contest presents “a clear choice” for voters. “You are what you’re record is and we need a change of direction,” he said.

Solid Waste Disposal Contract and Transfer Station Site Lease go to Town Meeting

ESSEX—A new 15-year solid waste disposal contract with the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, and an updated host town lease agreement for the regional solid waste transfer station, go to the voters for action at a town meeting set for Nov. 7. The town meeting will be preceded by a public hearing on the agreements that begins at 7 p.m. in town hall.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said Monday the agreements that resulted from nearly a year of negotiations with the statewide trash authority would provide the town with new revenue, along with payment of rent and other incentives for hosting the regional facility that were never received by the town. “It’s a nice deal for us that will provide Essex with revenue going forward,” he said. The proposed agreements that were approved by the board of selectmen last week provide $229,721 in up-front payments to the town.

A renegotiation was necessary because the long-term disposal contract with CRRA and the lease for the regional transfer station expire next month. Essex, along with the other eight towns in the Connecticut River Estuary planning region, signed up as member towns for the CRRA’s Mid-Connecticut incinerator in the mid 1980s.

In the late 1980s, Essex agreed to become the host town for the regional transfer station located on Dump Road off Route 154, just south of the Deep River town line. Trash from the area towns is compacted at the Essex facility and then trucked to the incinerator in Hartford. The facility also collects recyclables from the area towns.

Needleman said the renegotiation was complicated by the discovery that CRRA had never provided some of the payments and benefits promised to Essex under the 1980s agreements. The town was supposed to receive a rental payment for the transfer station site equal to 20 percent of the annual property tax bill for the Dump Road parcel. But the site of the regional transfer station was never separated from the larger town property off Route 154, and a tax bill was never sent to CRRA.

Needleman said it was also confirmed that since 2007, Essex has not been receiving the promised host town payment for solid waste and recyclables processed at the CRRA facility. The payment was to be based on the number of tons of material processed at the facility.

Under the agreements to be presented for approval at the Nov. 7 town meeting, the town will receive a payment of $31,765 to cover the unpaid rent for the regional transfer station site dating back to the late 1980s. There will also be a one-time payment of $197,956 to cover five years of unpaid host town payments for materials processed at the regional facility.

Needleman said the town would also receive payments of $15,000 per year for lease of the regional transfer station site over the 15 year lease contract that runs through 2027. The town will also receive host town payments of 54 cents per ton for materials from other towns processed at the regional facility each year. The facility has processed between 65,000 to 70,000 tons of materials per year in recent years, a figure that would represent about $37,000 per year in revenue for the town. The amount could decrease if fewer tons are processed at the facility.

Under the 15-year municipal service contract, Essex will be required to pay CRRA a per ton tipping fee for trash and recyclables generated in Essex that are processed at the regional facility. The tipping fee, set initially under the agreement at $59.50 per ton, is less than the $70 per ton fee Essex and other towns are now paying for use of the facility.

Needleman said the municipal service agreement with CRRA, along with the updated site lease and host town agreement, would be presented to voters for action as a single resolution at the Nov. 7 town meeting. Most of the towns currently using the CRRA transfer station, including Chester and Deep River, have already approved the new 15-year contract with town meeting votes.

Letter: McMahon – Where is the Substance?

To the Editor:

As a longtime Republican and one-time city councilman in Meriden, I wish to voice my distaste for Linda McMahon. Where is the substance, the caliber and integrity that should exemplify a US senator?  I met her in East Lyme and asked her about Iran obtaining a nuclear bomb. McMahon shows no in-depth knowledge of this and all issues, and simply repeats vapid cliches. McMahon shows me nothing beyond an empty suit. And if you research her “entertainment” at WWF, you’ll likely be disgusted.

Connecticut should not elect someone so utterly lacking in the merits and qualities we deserve in a US senator. It seems the Republican party is blinded by her money. It’s unfortunate she beat someone 2 years ago of the high caliber of Rob Simmons, who would have made an outstanding senator.
Sincerely,
Tom Soboleski
Essex, CT

The Kitchen Witches at The Ivoryton Playhouse Opens Oct. 31

Pictured – from left Beverley Taylor, Carl Howell and Kim Catano (photo by by Anne Hudson).

Ivoryton: Aprons are tied and ladles are readied for battle as the Ivoryton Playhouse suits up for the clash of the cooking show divas – THE KITCHEN WITCHES by Caroline Smith.  Winner of the 2005 Samuel French Canadian Playwrights Contest, this hilarious comedy is just the recipe for a night of fun and merriment!

Isobel Lomax and Dolly Biddle are two rival cable-access cooking show hostesses who have hated each other for 30 years, ever since Larry Biddle dated one and married the other.  When circumstances put them together on a TV show called The Kitchen Witches, the insults are flung harder than the food!

Dolly’s long-suffering TV-producer son Stephen tries to keep them on track, but as long as Dolly’s dressing room is one inch closer to the set than Isobel’s, it’s a losing battle, and the show becomes a rating smash as Dolly and Isobel top both Martha Stewart and Jerry Springer!

Canadian playwright Caroline Smith has whipped up a hilarious tale that’s sure to please even the fussiest palate.  Directed by Maggie Jennings, the show stars Beverley Taylor, Kim Catano*, Carl Howell*, and Casey McKeon.  The set design is by Dan Nischan, lighting design by Marcus Abbott, and costumes by LisaMarie Harry.

THE KITCHEN WITCHES opens in Ivoryton on October 31st and runs through November 11th. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.
*member of Actors Equity

Letter: Vote for Schlag for an Intelligent, Caring and Creative Senator

To the Editor:

Melissa Schlag is my choice and should be your choice to be State Senator, replacing retiring Senator Eileen Daily in the 33rd District.

I retired as Assistant Director after a 34-year career in the Connecticut State Park system.  Eighteen months ago, and because of my background, I joined a group led by Melissa Schlag attempting to stop Senator Daily’s precedent setting, ill conceived and ultimately immoral legislation, designed to transfer land purchased as open space to benefit a single private corporation.

It was immediately apparent that Ms. Schlag was well respected by the eclectic group of citizen activists that formed the Stop the Swap group.  Her organizational skills were exceptional.  Ms. Schlag’s ability to establish a strong cohesive team, build consensus by working both sides of the political aisle in the legislature, bring over thirty conservation organizations together to oppose the legislation and to garner editorial support and individual support from across the nation is unprecedented.

Vote for Melissa Schlag if you want an intelligent, caring and creative Senator who is willing to work with all of the district’s citizens in order to make the river valley and shoreline towns of the 33rd District the best place to live in Connecticut.

Sincerely,

Rob Smith
East Haddam

Connecticut Valley Camera Club Photography Exhibit and Reception Nov. 2

Enchanted Evening, Dean Rupp

The Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be hosting a photography exhibit at the Fresh Ayre Gallery (formerly Lemon ‘n Lyme) in the Old Lyme shopping center.  The subject is “open” with 43 framed prints for viewing and for sale at very reasonable prices.

The public is invited to attend the opening reception from 5:00pm to 7:00pm on Friday, Nov.2, 2012.  The exhibit is open to the public from 12-5pm Tues-Sun and late on Friday’s from November 3rd through November 29th, 2012.

The CVCC meets the last Monday of each month at 7:00 pm at the Community Room (lower level) of the Deep River, CT Library (photographers at all levels are welcome).

Ocean House Rockers, Vincent Peppito

What Really Matters About Sir Winston Churchill? Nov. 1

Sir Winston Churchill is a towering figure in 20th century history, a prodigious writer, and one of its most-quoted speakers and thinkers. Why do his speeches and quotes continue to resonate, years after those of his contemporaries are largely forgotten? Join Richard M. Langworth, editor of Finest Hour and of the new book of Churchill’s wit and wisdom, Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations , for a talk on “What Really Matters Most About Winston Churchill?”, Thursday November 1 at 6:30 PM, at Essex Meadows’ Hamilton Hall Auditorium.

Copies of the book will be available for sale and signing. Sponsored by the Connecticut Churchill Society, a donation of $10 per person is requested. Refreshments will be served before and after the lecture, and advance registration is requested and may be made by calling the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. Essex Meadows is at 30 Bokum Road in Essex.

33rd Senate Candidates in Lively Debate at Valley Regional High School

Debate candidates at their podiums, (L to R) Green Party candidate, Melissa Schlag; Democratic candidate, Jim Crawford; and Republican candidate, Art Linares (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

AREAWIDE— The three candidates for the 33rd Senate District seat, Democrat Jim Crawford, Republican Art Linares, and Green Party nominee Melissa Schlag, discussed an array of state issues Wednesday evening in a wide-ranging debate held at Valley Regional High School in Deep River.

The intensity of the three-way contest for the 12-town district seat, wide open with no incumbent running for the first time in two decades, was on display for debate goers as more than two dozen supporters of Crawford and Linares lined the driveway of the school off Kelsey Hill Road waving signs for the two candidates. About 130 voters watched the 90-minute debate in the school auditorium.

Crawford, 62, is a former social studies teacher and Westbrook selectman who has represented the 35th house District  (Clinton, Killingworth and Westbrook) for a single term. Linares, who turns 24 on Halloween, is a Westbrook resident of Cuban heritage who is a partner in a Middletown solar energy company.  Schlag, 38, is a Haddam community activist who organized opposition to the now cancelled Connecticut River land swap last year. The candidates are competing for the seat held since 1992 by Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook.

The debate was sponsored by the Essex library, with Library Director Richard Conroy presenting written questions that had been submitted in advance by district voters. The candidates responded to nine questions on topics ranging from state spending and taxes to the impact of the national health care law, Obamacare, in Connecticut.

But it was a question on the state’s now repealed death penalty that generated the sharpest exchange of the evening, with Linares accusing Crawford of “turning his back on public safety,” by supporting an early release program for prison inmates that was initiated last year by the administration of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy. Linares said the program has led to the release of several inmates who have committed murder and other violent felonies over the past summer. Linares also called for the reinstatement of the death penalty in the Connecticut.

Crawford said he was “insulted by that comment because it is a lie,” maintaining the current early release program is similar to the programs in several other states and has reduced recidivism among former convicts. Schlag, who endorsed the lealization of marijuana, also supported continued early release programs for prison inmates, particularly non-violent drug offenders.

A question on the now-cancelled swap of state owned land on the Connecticut River for inland forest land that was championed by Daily as an economic development measure for the Tylerville section of Haddam also generated an exchange between the three rivals. Linares said the land swap was “an example of inside politics gone bad” that led to “a divisive waste of time” for area officials and residents. Schlag, who noted the land swap led to her increased involvement in politics, declared that “term limits” are the best solution for  long-time legislators who “hide stuff in bills at the last minute.”

Both Schlag and Linares noted that Crawford had voted in support of the land swap in the spring of 2011. But Crawford maintaioned the proposed deal had “a significant amount of momentum” last year and was headed for a vote in the legislature. Crawford said he worked to include a requirement that the two parcels be roughly equal a value, a provision that led to the cancellation of the land swap because the land near the river was appraised at a higher value.

Linares criticized Crawford for supporting numerous tax increases as part of the 2011 state budget package. He pledged to work to reduce state spending and repeal many of the tax increases implemented last year.

Crawford noted the 2011 budget was intended to address a $3.5 billion shortfall that had developed in previous years, with a current deficit estimated at about $140 million representing only a small percentage of the total budget. Crawford also noted the 2011 budget maintained state aid to cities and towns, helping to limit increases on municipal property taxes. Crawford said spending cuts could cover any current deficit while also calling for upgrading collection efforts by the state Department of Revenue Services.

Schlag, declaring “it’s expensive to be poor in Connecticut”, called for reducing the taxes that impact lower income residents, such as restoring the sales tax exemption for clothing costing less than $50, while increasing taxes on large corporations and residents with the highest incomes. Along with term limits Schlag also called for a “full-time legislature” with larger districts to reduce the number of legislators.

Wednesday’s debate is expected to be the only major public joint session for the three candidates leading up to the Nov. 6 election. The 33rd District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Fall Foliage in Centerbrook

Enjoy pictures of the fall foliage in Centerbrook, taken by Jerome Wilson:

Along the still waters of the Falls River

 

Down the Falls River more of the same

 

Lutheran Church bathed in color

 

Volunteers Support Education in Essex for Middlesex United Way Days of Caring

Employees from Tower Laboratories LTD volunteered on Oct. 3 at Essex Elementary School in Centerbrook as part of Middlesex United Way Day of Caring

ESSEX – Middlesex United Way’s annual Days of Caring are being held the first two weeks of October, and a team of employees from Tower Laboratories LTD volunteered on Oct. 3 at Essex Elementary School in Centerbrook.

Middlesex United Way Day of Caring is an annual event that matches groups of volunteers from local companies with meaningful volunteer projects that advance the common good. Middlesex United Way’s focus areas are education, income, health, and housing; this year, Day of Caring projects support education by connecting companies to local schools.

Tower Laboratories employees worked with a group of fifth and sixth graders from the Green Team after-school club to plant flowers at the school.

Over several days, teams are volunteering at nine schools in six Middlesex County towns. Volunteers are doing storytelling, reading, and activities with children in the classroom; speaking about their careers; and improving the learning environment for children through gardening, mural, and other beautification projects.
Teams of volunteers from local companies donate their time to these volunteer projects. Participating companies include ATD Wireless Zone, Brown & Brown of CT, Carlson & Dumeer LLC, Citizen’s Bank, Clean Choice Commercial Cleaning LLC, GKN Aerospace Services Structures Corp, Liberty Bank, Middlesex Hospital, Rolls Royce Naval Marine, Inc, Russell Library, TD Bank, Tower Laboratories LTD, and Wesleyan University.
Middlesex United Way is a locally based organization dedicated to strengthening lives, helping people, and improving community conditions in the fifteen towns in Middlesex County.

To learn more, visit www.middlesexunitedway.org or facebook.com/middlesexunitedway.

Chester Planning & Zoning Commission Rejects Proposed Single Lot Zone Change

CHESTER— The Chester Planning and Zoning Commission has rejected a petition to change the zoning from residential to commercial for a single parcel at 90 Goose Hill Road, off the west side of Middlesex Avenue (Route 154).

The panel rejected the petition from local resident Gary Clark on a unanimous vote at its Oct. 4 meeting. The proposed zone change had been presented at a Sept. 6 public hearing that was continued to Oct. 4. The proposed zone change had drawn opposition from two nearby property owners at the public hearings.

Clark had requested the zone change for a four-acre parcel at 90 Goose Hill Road. Clark proposed to locate his landscaping business on the parcel, storing equipment in a barn and trailers. The property would receive access from a right-of-way off Middlesex Avenue.

In rejecting the proposed zone change, the commission determined the change was “inconsistent with the plan of conservation and development,” and would require access through the residential zone. The panel also determined the parcel at 90 Goose Hill Road “was not suitable for commercial development.” Commission members had walked the property during a site inspection in September.

Local Professional Organizer, Dixie Allen, to Appear on A&E’s Hoarders

Old Lyme Professional Organizer, Dixie Allen, of Amazing Space, will appear in an upcoming episode of A&E’s popular and Prime Time Emmy Nominated series, HOARDERS.  Allen worked behind the scenes in the upcoming episode with the professional team of Dr. Darnita Payden as they documented the struggle of a Long Island women attempting to overcome her battle with hoarding.

According to the Mayo Clinic, hoarding is defined as “The excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them.”  Hoarding often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter.  Some people also collect animals, keeping dozens or hundreds of pets often in unsanitary conditions.  People who hoard often don’t see it as  problem, making treatment challenging.  But intensive treatment can help people who hoard understand their compulsions and live safer, more enjoyable lives.

Allen was invited to help assist in a crisis de-cluttering of the Long Island resident’s home.   Along with local medical help, Allen lends her expertise as she works with the HOARDERS aftercare team to help the client learn new organizing skills and habits.

Although hoarding is a complex problem,  according to the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, “Teaching organizational skills can help to compensate for processing deficits that contribute to hoarding.”

Research cited by Dr. Catherine Ayers at UC San Diego (ocfoundation.org/hoarding) indicates that older adults in particular may actually respond better to being taught specific, concrete , organizing skills.

Professional Organizer Dixie Allen, owner and operator of Amazing Space, has been in business since 1995 when she started her organizing firm in Washington D.C.  She is in the Golden Circle of the National  Association of Professional Organizers and a Docent at the Florence Griswold Museum.  She will Chair the Garden Tour 2013 for Child and Family Agency of Lyme, Old Lyme.

As a Professional Organizer, Allen works with all ages and specializes in downsizing for seniors who are making “lifestyle transitions” to retirement living, staging homes with realtors, and creating order, simplicity and efficiency in all areas of the home and home office.

The episode of HOARDERS will air this season on Mondays at 9 pm on A&E.  For more information on the series, please go to www.aetv.com/HOARDERS.  To contact Amazing Space, call 860-861-8500 or E mail: deedadix@me.com.

 

Goodspeed Celebrates 50th Anniversary With Special Musical Season

Two time Tony Award-winning Goodspeed Musicals, under the leadership of Executive Director Michael P. Price, is delighted to announce its Golden Anniversary  season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn.  The 50th season includes three very special musicals that are sure to please theatergoers:  the charming collegiate comedy Good News  will run from April 12 – June 22; Jerry Herman’s beloved Hello, Dolly!  will run from June 28 – September 8; and Frank Loesser’s enchanting Broadway hit The Most Happy Fella will run from September 20 – December 1, 2013.

“To the cheers of many, on June 18, 1963 the footlights were once again lit on the Goodspeed Opera House stage. And now, fifty years later, we are in awe that so much has happened in and because of this gem of a building.  It truly was an impossible dream that, from this tiny stage, the world of American musical theatre would be changed forever.  Our Golden Anniversary celebration will feature three extraordinary musicals which we believe uniquely highlight what Goodspeed does best,” said Mr. Price.

Good News, a 1920s tale of collegiate hijinks will be revitalized in the Goodspeed tradition of bringing new life to long-forgotten American musicals. It is followed by Hello, Dolly! which is one of the most popular American musical classics of all time. This marvelous musical makes its debut on the Goodspeed stage in honor of the 50th Anniversary of its out-of-town tryout! Our 2013 finale The Most Happy Fella,  a powerful and romantic musical, will mark the triumphant return of one of Goodspeed’s most successful productions – - at the Opera House and on Broadway.

Good News has Words and Music by B.G. DeSylva, Lew Brown  and Ray Henderson, and Book by Laurence Schwab, B.G. DeSylva and Frank Mandel. Good News will be directed and choreographed by Vince Pesce who choreographed Goodspeed’s Mame and directed and choreographed Something’s Afoot. Mr Pesce served as Associate Choreographer of Broadway’s Anything Goes, The Pajama Game, Wonderful Town, and Little Shop of Horrors.

Hello, Dolly! features Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart based on the play “The Matchmaker” by Thornton Wilder.  Hello, Dolly! will be directed by Marc Bruni who served as Associate Director for Broadway’s  Nice Work If You Can Get It, Anything Goes, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Legally Blonde, and High Fidelity. Mr. Bruni makes his long-awaited return to Goodspeed Musicals where he previsouly served as Associate Director for They All Laughed in 2001.

The Most Happy Fella features Music, Lyrics and Book by Frank Loesser and is based on Sidney Howard’s “They Knew What They Wanted.” It will be directed by Rob Ruggiero who is well known to Goodspeed audiences for such hits as Carousel, Show Boat, Camelot, and 1776.

Advance season subscriptions are now on sale through the Box Office (860.873.8668), open seven days a week. Subscription prices range from $81 – $219 at the Goodspeed Opera House for one person, all three shows. Single tickets go on public sale beginning February 17, 2013.

Dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theatre, Goodspeed Musicals produces three musicals each season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn., and additional productions at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals.  The first regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement), Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. Goodspeed is supported in part by the Department of Economic and Community Development with support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.

Miller Expected to Receive State Funding Grant for 36th House District Race

AREAWIDE— Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller appears likely to receive the $26,850 grant available to candidates under the state’s Citizen’s Elections Program for his Nov. 6 contest with Republican nominee Vince Pacileo in the 36th house District.

The Miller campaign’s application for the grant is on the agenda of Wednesday’s meeting of the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission. Based on the campaign’s Oct. 10 finance report, Miller appears to have met the program requirement of raising at least $5,000 in contributions of $100 or less from at least 150 contributors who are residents of the 36th District towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam.

After a late start that followed a change in campaign treasurers, Miller’s Oct. 10 report showed contributions totalling $5,410 from mid-July through October 9. Miller reported raising $684 in a delayed July 10 filing, for total donations of $6,094. The campaign reported expenditures of $2,462, leaving a balance in hand of $3,691 as of Oct. 9.

Miller, a former four-term first selectman of Essex, reported 18 $100 contributors, most from Essex but also including contributors from the other three district towns. He received $100 from Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, who succeeded Miller in the first selectman job, and $100 from Deputy Secretary of the State James Spallone, who represented the district for a decade before Miller won the seat in a February 2011 special election. Miller received smaller donations from the Democratic first selectmen of two district towns, including $25 from Chester First Selectman Edmund Meehan and $10 from Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith.

Pacileo, a former Essex selectman, was approved for the Citizen’s Election Program grant in mid-August after reporting donations of $6,055 in his July 10 finance report. Pacileo reported no additional individual contributions in his Oct. 10 filing, showing total funding, including the state grant, of $33,014. Pacileo reported campaign expenditures of $6,183, leaving a balance in hand of $26,427 as of Oct. 9.

Rotary Helps Eradicate Polio

For 20 years, Rotary clubs have remained determined to do whatever is necessary to achieve a world free of the crippling disease polio. Recognizing this commitment – as well as Rotary’s important role as a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the United Nations and the World Health Assembly have partnered with Rotary to completely eradicate polio by the end of 2012.

Rotary’s chief responsibilities in the initiative are fundraising and advocacy, a role of increasing importance as the end game draws near. Sixty-one Rotary clubs in Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex and New London counties have embraced this effort by using Thunderclap, a Social Media tool which enables supporters to sign up to share a single message simultaneously across all supporting accounts on World Polio Day, October 24, 2012 to raise awareness of the fight to end this crippling disease. In addition, these clubs have provided an army of volunteers to promote and assist at national immunization days in polio-endemic countries around the world. Connecticut State Governor, Dannel Malloy will be issuing a proclamation on October 24, 2012, in support of End Polio Day.

“When Rotary first started the fight against polio in 1985, the disease affected 350,000 people every year in 125 countries. Since then, polio has been reduced by 99%. We are “This Close” to ending polio,” says Brian Amey, Governor, Rotary District 7980.

Rotary, which already has contributed $1.2 billion to stop this crippling childhood disease, announced its new funding commitment in New York City on Sept. 27 during a special side-event on polio eradication convened by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly. Earlier this year, Rotary raised $228 million in new money for polio eradication in response to a $355 million challenge grant from the Gates Foundation, which promptly contributed an additional $50 million in recognition of Rotary’s commitment.

Polio cases have plummeted by more than 99 percent since 1988, when the disease infected about 350,000 children a year. Fewer than 700 new cases were reported in 2011. Rotary and its partners have reached more than 2.5 billion children with the oral polio vaccine, preventing more than five million cases of paralysis and hundreds of thousands of pediatric deaths.

To learn how you can participate in this historic opportunity to end polio once and for all, please visit rotary.org/endpolio.

The 61 clubs in twelve areas of District 7980 are part of a much larger organization-Rotary International (www.rotary.org). Rotary International is made up of 34,000 clubs in 200 countries and geographical areas with over 1.2 million members. The organization works to help the world’s needy people and to further world peace and understanding as evidenced by its unique role as a founding member of the United Nations, retaining a permanent seat on the General Council. The Rotary International Foundation invests each year in humanitarian and educational projects throughout the world. The area clubs support many of these programs such as the Polio Eradication program, the Haitian Health Foundation and Clean Water Projects in South India and Ghana.

Valley Regional High School Principal Honored as Outstanding First Year Principal

Valley Regional High School Principal Kristina Martineau

REGION 4— Valley Regional High School Principal Kristina Martineau has been named as an outstanding first year principal by the Connecticut Association of Schools.

Martineau, a Guilford resident, completed her first full year as principal at Valley Regional High School in June after serving as acting principal for much of the 2010-2011 school year.

A former English teacher and dean of students for the Fairfield school system, Martineau was hired in Regional School District 4 in 2008 as the associate principal at the high school. She is one of two first year principals to receive the statewide award from the Connecticut Association of Schools.

Essex Historical Society – Fall Foliage Antique Auto Show Oct.21

The Essex Historical Society and the Belltown Antique Car Club of East Hampton, CT are hosting the Second Annual Fall Foliage Antique Auto Show and Tour at the Pratt House in Essex on Sunday, October 21st from 10am – 2:30 pm. Come see beautifully restored antique cars and take a tour of the Pratt House. There is no charge for the event. Pratt House is located at 19 West Avenue in Essex, CT.

A Grave Affair – Historic Graveyard Walk Oct. 20

What mysteries lurk in the old graveyard?  What messages are hidden in its ancient tombstones? What stories could its denizens tell, if they could talk?

Find out, Saturday October 20th at 4 P.M., with a walking tour of the River View Cemetery hosted by the Essex Historical Society and the Essex Library. The walk will begin at the Essex Library, and families with children older than four are welcome to leave them for the duration of the tour at the Library, where we’ll show the holiday favorite, “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”

Get a view of our old town’s history through the stories of its early residents, as revealed by their final resting places. It’s spooky good fun for adults, and a not-too-spooky good time at the Library for the little ones.

This program is free and open to all, but registration is requested. Please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560. The Library is at 33 West Avenue. The Essex Library is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Letter: Clear Choice for Fiscal Conservatives

To the Editor:

The 33rd State Senate race among Republican, Art Linares, Democratic Jim Crawford and Green Party candidate, Melissa Schlag, presents clear choices for conservative and progressive voters. Linares, founder of a green energy company, is a strong fiscal conservative.  He is critical of Governor Malloy’s tax and spending increases supported by Mr. Crawford.  Crawford was a supporter of the Haddam Land swap.  Schlag led the successful fight against the land swap.  She supports raising taxes of the wealthy.  Linares is the clear choice for the fiscal conservatives.  Schlag is the clear choice for progressives.  Crawford is the choice for neither.

Sincerely

Mel Seifert
Chester, CT

Region 4 Begins Study on Options for Sixth Grade

REGION 4—  The Region 4 school boards have formed a study committee to review options for the district’s sixth grades, including the possibility of moving sixth grade from the three elementary schools to the John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River.

Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy said Thursday the study committee would hold it’s first meeting this week, with a goal of presenting a report to the district school boards by April 2013. The study committee, with about 18 members, is comprised of board members, administrators, teachers, and parents.

Levy said anticipated declines in student enrollment could free up classroom and program space at the middle school for the sixth graders now attending the elementary schools in Chester, Deep River, and Essex. John Winthrop Middle School, which underwent a renovation and expansion completed in 2005, currently serves seventh and eighth grades. But middle school programs in many Connecticut school districts now include sixth grade.

Levy stressed the study is not intended to set the stage for a building project proposal for the middle school. She noted the study would help determine whether there is space at the middle school to accommodate the sixth grades. Any move of the sixth grades to the middle school would require approval from all four of the Region 4 school boards, along with approval from voters of the three district towns at a district meeting or referendum.

Letter: Vin Pacileo Offers Both Common Sense and Real Opportunity

To the Editor:

Vin Pacileo is running for State Representative to give voters a real choice in the 36th House District. Vin has served on all major community boards – Selectmen, Finance, and Education – and understands the needs of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam. His experiences in the private sector, budget management and hands-on government administration are sorely needed in Hartford.  Vin understands that Connecticut needs a business plan to control spending, diminish taxation, shrink the size and cost of government, and to manage our debt responsibly.

Right now in Connecticut, the Democratic Party controls the Governor’s office, all of our constitutional offices, and the majority of both the House and Senate. This one-party rule has given us the largest tax increase in state history, uncontrolled government spending and debt, a 9% unemployment rate, the early release of violent criminals from prison, the repeal of the death penalty, and a billion dollar bus way from New Britain to Hartford.

Vin Pacileo’s candidacy for State Representative offers a real opportunity and common sense alternative for our region and our state. I hope that you will put his honesty, integrity, and skills to work for you as your State Representative.

Sincerely.

Rep. Marilyn  Giuliano (R-23)
Old Saybrook, CT

 

Middlesex Hospital Breaks Ground for New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook

“Shovelers,” left to right, Noel Bishop, First Selectman of Westbrook; Vincent G. Capece, President & CEO, Middlesex Hospital; Harry Evert, Senior Vice President, Middlesex Hospital; Christopher Seaton, Chairmain of the Board of Directors, Middlesex Health Systems; Darlene Briggs, Chairwoman, Westbrook Division, Middlesex Chamber of Commerce; and Larry McHugh, President Middlesex Chamber of Commerce.

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop was all smiles at the October 10 official groundbreaking ceremonies of the new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center, scheduled to open in Westbrook in 2014. Bishop should be pleased, because for the past 37 years Middlesex Hospital has been operating its Shoreline Medical Center in neighboring Essex, and now the clinic is moving to Westbrook.

When the Medical Center moves from Essex to Westbrook, it is uncertain as to what the Hospital will do with the Essex facility. A number of possibilities are being assessed.

Worth noting is the fact that both Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop and Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna were on hand for the ceremonies. However, Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman was unable to attend the celebration.

There was Included in the tent of notables, which had been set up off the Tanger Outlets, were the President and CEO of Middlesex Hospital, the Chairman of its Board of Directors, local Chamber of Commerce executives, among other dignitaries. Also, attending were over a hundred well wishers standing under a breezy tent that protected those present on a blowy and sunny afternoon.

Past History of Middlesex Hospital’s Outreach Medical Services

At the groundbreaking a number of speakers noted that that it was over 40 years ago that Middlesex Hospital made its decision to expand its emergency medical services out into the shoreline communities. In fact, the first “out placing” of emergency medical services by Middlesex Hospital took place in a single small building located along Main Street in Centerbrook.

This facility was a great success, and it demonstrated that there truly was a need for an outreach of emergency medical services along the shoreline. Then, in 1975 the hospital moved its Shoreline Medical Center from Centerbrook to a piece of privately donated land on Westbrook Road in Essex.

The Essex shoreline clinic to be phased out in 2014

Providing emergency medical services will continue to be offered at this Essex location up until the new Medical Center opens. Then, after that all emergency medical services will be provided at the new facility in Westbrook.  The exact of address of the new facility will be will be 250 Flat Rock Place in Westbrook.

A Brand New Chapter for Emergency Medical Care

As the hospital’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Christopher Seaton, put it, “Times have changed.” Or, as the hospital’s President & CEO Vincent G. Capece said, “This is a brand new chapter for high quality, emergency medical care.”

Also, cited by the parade of speakers was the fact that the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook would be 44,000 square feet in size, which is twice the size of the present facility in Essex. Others noted that there will be plenty of parking at the new emergency facility, as well as, perhaps the most obvious advantage of all; the clinic’s location will be very close to Exit 65 on I-95, a heavily traveled Interstate.

87,000 Visits Annually at Essex Clinic

To illustrate the enormous success of the concept of off-site emergency medical care, the Essex facility is now seeing 87,000 patient visits annually. One speaker termed the off-site formula of medical care as, “a humanistic approach to medicine.”

It also appears to be a very profitable approach, one where you can not only double the size of your present facility, but leave enough room on the land to treble the size, if necessary.

While the Speakers Spoke, the Nearby Bulldozers Roared

During the remarks in the tent on the grounds of the Tanger Outlets, just down the road on the right hand side, going towards I-95, there was a huge amount of earth moving going on. Across an expanse of land that was until a week or so ago a heavily forested area, the ground was now being leveled to make way for the new emergency clinic.

The site being cleared for a 44,000 square foot shoreline clinic building in Westbrook

Large boulders, which were just a few days ago were underground, were now stacked up in one gigantic mound. Everything was being done to level a shelf of land for the building that will house Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center.

Giant earth mover that is being used at site of new Shoreline Clinic

Factually speaking, it was here at the construction site, where the first, true groundbreaking took place, perhaps a week or so ago.  Furthermore, the dress of those who participated in this first “groundbreaking” wore work clothes and not business suits, although perhaps a suit or two came by for a brief look.

Still, the vision, and the willingness to take large risks to adopt a new and growing approach to providing medical care, belonged to those who wore the suits and spoke at the ceremonies under the tent up the road from the construction site.

Nine Features for the New Clinic’s Success

As for the nine primary features of this new facility, they were listed on one of the tent walls as follows: 1) Improved location; 2) Double the size of our current facility; 3) Expanded emergency center; 4) Improve patient privacy: 5) Separate entrance to outpatient center; 6) Lab services; 7) Infusion therapy; 8) Expanded radiology services; and 9) Designated Women’s imaging area.

Of this list perhaps the first, “Improved location,” is the most important. The new Westbrook location, although certainly not as desirable for Essex residents, for other shoreline residents, the new location on I-95 will be far more convenient and accessible.
Residents of Old Lyme and Lyme, and even Niantic , now have simply to get on I-95 for quick access to the facility. Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Clinton residents will also have easier access to a facility on I-95. Also, residents in the towns along Route 9, which merges seamlessly into I-95, will also have greater ease of access.

In a way the new location is a “win, win” for almost everyone. The hospital can address increased patient volumes and patients get more accessible medical care in an expanded and more modern facility.

Artist’s rendering of the proposed new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook

Deep River Town Meeting Approves $123,228 in Additional Appropriations

DEEP RIVER— Voters at a town meeting Tuesday approved a total of $123,228 in additional appropriations under four categories in the 2011-2012 town budget, including a $44,549 appropriation for Deep River Elementary School that generated the most discussion at the town meeting.

Town officials outnumbered residents at the town meeting, where the three selectmen were joined by Town Clerk Amy Winchell, and residents Margo Hilfinger and Richard Strukus, who attend most town meetings as the video crew for the Deep River Taxpayers Association. Volunteers from the taxpayers association have been filming town meetings and meetings of the board of selectmen for more than a decade for later showing on the Comcast public access channel.

The additional appropriations includes $42,569 for town hall operations, specifically fuel oil and gasoline and diesel for town vehicles, $22,707 for special services for contingency expenses and a lease payment on a copier, $13,403 for police protection, specifically overtime for the resident state trooper and vehicle maintenance, and $44,549 for the elementary school.

It was the appropriation for the elementary school that generated more than a half-hour of discussion at the meeting. First Selectman Richard Smith said he was advised by the school board and administration that over-expenditures for special education led the school district to miss a payment for employee pensions, which are managed by the town. Smith said when the school district made the pension payment, it generated most of the $44,549 over-expenditure.

Hilfinger and Strukus each questioned the overexpenditure, contending the local board of education should have advised the selectmen and board of finance of the overrun in special education costs sooner, and made budget reductions over the fiscal year that ended June 30 to cover the required pension payment. Smith said school officials have pledged to provide monthly updates of spending from the education budget to reduce the chances of a large budget overrun in the future.

The four additional appropriations were approved on a voice vote, with Strukus opposed. Smith said budget savings and new revenue, including higher rental payments for a cellular phone tower on town property, are expected to cover all of the additional appropriations for the 2011-2012 budget without the need for a transfer from the town’s undesignated fund balance.

Connecticut Environmental Coalition Honors Rep. Phil Miller For Protecting Children

The Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut has honored state Representative Philip J. Miller (D-36th Dist.) for his outstanding leadership and advocacy in protecting children from harmful chemicals.

Rep. Miller, who is vice chairman of the legislature’s Environment Committee, received the prestigious award at the coalition’s annual meeting Thursday, Sept. 27, in Farmington.

“Phil Miller has been a tireless champion for protecting the public’s health,” said Anne Hulick, the coalition’s clean water action coordinator.

“With the overwhelming body of scientific research linking exposure to toxic chemicals in every day products with the rising incidence of many serious diseases, particularly in children, Rep. Miller’s leadership in supporting policies that identify chemicals of concern and reduce our exposure is particularly important. The coalition is proud to honor him for this work,” Hulick said.

Rep. Miller said he was honored to receive the award. “It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by this excellent organization,” he said. “I believe strongly in eliminating toxic and harmful chemicals from products that we use on a daily basis, which are detrimental to our overall health and especially the health of our children.”

The coalition is a diverse entity of 58 member groups and thousands of concerned citizens across the state united in their goal to raise awareness of the health impacts of exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products and to press for more health protective chemical policy at the state and federal level.

Member groups include the CT Public Health Association, CT Nurses Association, CT Coalition for Environmental Justice, labor groups, school nurses, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Planned Parenthood, CT Council on Occupational Safety and Health, and the Inter-religious Eco-justice Network, among others.

Earlier this year, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters awarded Rep. Miller a 100 percent rating for his support and advocacy of environmental initiatives in their 2011 Environmental Scorecard.

Rep. Miller represents Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.

Tri-Town Youth Services Fundraising Telethon gets Prepared

Telethon callers are ready to speak with you! L-R: Heather Eddy, Ryan Johnson, Jessica Grote, Monica Vandehei

Tri-Town Youth Services’ volunteer callers will be making calls to fellow residents of Chester, Deep River, and Essex during the evenings of November 13, 14, and 15 to seek your support for Telethon 2012.

A nonprofit agency, Tri-Town receives some state and municipal fundings, several miscellaneous grants, holds fundraising events (such as Taste of the Valley), collects program fees, and is dependent on donations to meet its annual operating budget.

Donations in response to their thirteenth annual Telethon will be deeply appreciated and used to help the agency continue to provide a wide array of services to local youth and families.  Further information, contact Tri-Town at 860-526-3600.

Ripples of Sea Life – Student Presentation Chester Public LIbrary Oct 22

Ask Silvia Gopalakrishnan why she is concerned about the health of our oceans and she’ll tell you, “I was sad that all of the sea animals were dying and I wanted to be a part of the action that was going on to protect them.”  Hoping to raise awareness about the salt water that covers almost 70% of the earth and the life that lives in it, this Chester Elementary School student has created a presentation she hopes will encourage other young people to ‘take action…to stop people from carelessly polluting the ocean.” Silvia’s fun and informational program discusses the ocean, sea life and environmental threats such as oil spills and plastic bags.

At the end of the power point presentation everyone will be able to make eco-friendly, sea-themed bookmarks to take home.  Refreshments will be served.  Intended for children ages 6-12, this program is planned for Monday, October 22 at 6:30 PM.  Please call the library to register (860-526-0018).

It’s your earth, come SEA what you can do to keep it healthy!

Little Fenwick’s Historic Commission Orders Big Time Developer to Lower Posts

This story involves a dispute between the Borough of Fenwick Historic Distrcit Commission and a very large, New York City developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr. In the end the Historic Commission won the case, and developer Sciame lost.

In the Fenwick Historic Commission’s review of Sciame’s massive reconstruction of Katherine Hepburn’s former estate, the Historic Commission had one quibble. That was that the two, new granite posts at the entrance to the estate, were simply too high.

Former Katherine Hepburn estate now owned by Frank Sciame

Therefore, the Historic Commission ordered the developer to lower the height of both of the two posts from their  height of 60 inches to a lower height of 48 inches.  Sciame duly responded to the Commission’s request — but not exactly in the way that the Commission intended.

How Not to Measure the True Height of Posts

Rather than simply slicing 12 inches off the tops of both posts, Sciame built around the base of the posts, two flower beds, each of which were 12 inches high. Sciame then advised the Historic Commission that he had complied with its order, because if you measured the posts from the top of the flower beds to the top of the posts, the height of both posts was 48 inches.

Furthermore, Sciame told the Historic Commission, if it did not like this way of doing things, it should take him to court. The Fenwick Historic Commission did just that, and the result was a ruling by State Superior Court Judge Robert L. Holzberg that was a “win, win” for the Fenwick Historic Commission.

The Judge in his opinion held, “[T]he most reasonable interpretation of the [Fenwick Historic Commission’s] order [to lower the height of the posts] is that the pillars must be reduced in height such that from the roadbed or whatever location that they are anchored into the ground, the height of the top of the pillar is forty eight inches.” In short, Sciame’s attempt to measure the height of the posts from the top of the flower beds was rejected by the court.

No Fines Imposed Because of Developer’s “Good Faith”

Nevertheless, the Court held at the end of its seven page decision, that, “Because of the good faith dispute over the appropriate interpretation of the [Fenwick Historic Commission’s] order, the court declines to impose fines for non-compliance with the [Fenwick Historic Commission’s] order.”

The Court also ordered compliance with its order, “within 45 days of this judgment.” Since the court’s decision was rendered on August 2, “within 45 days” would mean that the posts should have been shortened by September 16.

Although the developer may have missed the court’s deadline by several days, an inspection on October 6 revealed that both of the posts at the entrance to the estate have been neatly sliced off from the top, and the height of both posts are now 48 inches, from the ground up.

Both gate posts now shortened to 48 inches high

Talking Transportation: The Gestalt of a Railroad

On a recent Acela ride to Boston I tried to explain to a seat-mate why our high speed train was alternately crawling along at 45 miles per hour in Metro-North territory, then screaming northward at 125 beyond New Haven.  I told him (a visitor from Switzerland used to amazing rail service) that a railroad is a great example of “gestalt”… that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

THE TRAIN:   We focus a lot on the age and capabilities of our rail engines and passenger cars in defining a railroad.  Sure, Acela is the fastest train in North America, running an average 125 mph in many areas between Washington and Boston.  But it is capable of much higher speeds, recently being tested at 165 mph in nighttime runs in New Jersey.  Even Metro-North’s old cars, let alone the new M8’s, can easily cruise at 90 mph.  I say “can” because they are capable of those speeds. But there are too many other components of a railroad that often make such speeds undesirable for comfort or safety.

THE TRACK:    Even Acela has a hard time in Connecticut because of old track and a century old right-of-way.  (Think of running a Lamborghini on a pot-holed local road.)

The track must be strong enough to support heavy trains.  In most places, track is welded for a smooth ride, avoiding the clickety-clack sound as trains ride over the joints.

The track sits on and is attached to a base plate which in turn sits on a tie, or sleeper.  For centuries these ties have been made of treated wood, but increasingly are built with concrete.  The ties sit on a roadbed or ballast, usually crushed stone, which distributes the weight of the train above while still allowing drainage. All of this requires maintenance and regular replacement of worn ties and rail to keep a smooth ride.

This is why even Metro-North’s newest cars bounce and creak as they ride along.  The rough ride isn’t the fault of the train but the roadbed.

And because our “right of way” follows the coastline, our tracks curve and bank as they meander along, causing further slowdowns just for the physics of the run.  The line from NYC to Boston has so many curves that a train makes the equivalent of six complete circles on that route.

THE SIGNALS:        Even the fastest trains in the world running on the newest and smoothest roadbed can’t keep up speed without knowing that the track ahead is clear.  And at 125 to 250 mph (US and world-class definitions of High Speed Rail), that requires a signal system that knows the location of every train within a matter of inches.

Like our century-old right-of-way, the ancient signal system on Metro-North is what’s preventing us from running trains at faster speeds and shorter headways (the time or distance between trains).

All US railroads are also struggling to meet a 2015 Federal mandate of “positive train control”, meaning that a train that runs through a red signal would be automatically stopped.

THE  POWER:    Whether Metro-North or Amtrak, our trains need power which comes in the form of electricity pulled from overhead wire, or catenary, some of which is almost a century old.  The railroad and CDOT are midway through a 30-year, multi-million dollar plan to update all of that wiring while still running a full complement of trains each day.  It’s like trying to change a fan-belt on a moving car.

So the next time you’re riding the train, give thought to the many components that make for a smooth, comfortable, speedy and safe trip.  The whole is truly more than the sum of its parts.

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

Essex Garden Club Provides New Silent Policewoman in Essex

In true Halloween tradition, Essex Garden Club members, Eve Potts, Suzanne Tweed, Barbara Burgess and Genie Devine created “Gertie”, the Essex Garden Club’s entry to the annual Essex Scarecrow Festival occurring on Oct. 6, 2012.  They installed our new Silent Policewoman on Oct. 4, 2012.

Children’s Author Event with Peggy Schaedler at the Essex Library Oct 13

Essex library is very excited to host an author event and book signing with Peggy Schaedler, children’s author and school media specialist extraordinaire!

Schaedler, of the Deep River Elementary School will be at the library to present her new novel Dagger and Dash: The Scrimshaw Medallion. She’ll talk about what it’s like to be a writer and will take questions from students about her new characters Amanda Dagger and Freddy Dash. Please call the Essex Library for more information or to register for this event at 860-767-1560.

Meet Your Candidates at the Great Debates

In an effort to help voters get to know the candidates for the upcoming elections, The Essex Library is hosting two debates that will be held at the Valley Regional High School Auditorium.

The first debate, Wednesday October 17 at 7 p.m., will feature the candidates for State Senator in the 33rd District; Art Linares (R), Jim Crawford (L), and Melissa Schlag (Green).

The second debate, slated for 7 PM on Tuesday October 23, will feature the candidates for the State House Representative for the 36th district, incumbent Phillip Miller (D) and Vince Pacileo (R).

Both of the debates will be moderated by Essex Library Director Richard Conroy.

Voters are urged to send their questions for the candidates to the Essex Library, either via email at staff@essexlib.org, via US mail to the attention of Richard Conroy, Director, Essex Library, 33 West Avenue, Essex 06426, or in person at the Essex Library. Questions for the candidates will be vetted to insure that they are submitted by residents of the districts involved, and all questions must include the questioner’s name, address and contact phone number, for verification.

The Essex Library is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Rep. Phil Miller Responds to Pacileo Unemployment Statement

State Representative Phil Miller

The following is a response by State Representative Phil Miller to the recent statement issued by Mr. Vin Pacileo, Republican candidate for State Representative in the 36th House District, concerning August unemployment figures, published in ValleyNewsNow.com on September 25:

When Governor Dannel Malloy was elected just two years ago Connecticut was struggling to climb out of the greatest recession since the Great Depression.

With the Dow Jones on the ropes and the auto industry on the brink, Connecticut was facing one of its own greatest challenges – reversing two decades of net job losses. For each of the 20 previous years, our state had lost more jobs than it created.
Reversing that trend has been no small task but the foundation for growth has been carefully laid.

Digging out of the recession, creating jobs and lowering the unemployment rate continues to be a challenge, but it is one that we are overcoming because of the policies the governor has put in place with my support and the support of other Democrats.
On the national level, the stock market has doubled in just a few short years, corporate profits are at an all time high and the auto industry is back. Here in Connecticut, the First Five program alone will create or retain more than 15,000 jobs and encourage 1.3 billion in private investment in our state. And the state’s finances are in far better shape than they were two years ago.

The unemployment rate is still unacceptably high, but reversing two decades of failed leadership and negative job creation regrettably will take time and patience.

That we have these challenges is what motivates me to seek new opportunities for Connecticut and to take action to set up future commerce and industry, which will sustain our state and our fine communities.

We have closed a record deficit through cuts, concessions and raising tax revenues, mostly on those who earn the most. We have combined and reduced agencies, and our labor force is leaner. All of us have friends and neighbors in just about all walks of life who are working harder and more often, just to keep up.

When I joined the legislature, I followed Congressman Joe Courtney’s guidance and I sought and received an appointment to serve on the Human Services Committee as one of my assignments, so that I’d be able to help link state efforts with our nonprofit sector, legions of volunteers in service to others. This way, we keep our most vulnerable people from harm.

We have boldly invested in growth industries like biomedical sciences. Our UConn and Jackson Labs initiatives are moving with Yale and Wesleyan.

Just recently I was speaking with eighth graders and we were hoping that we could someday cure diseases like lupus, which affects 17,000 people right here in Connecticut. And why not do this kind of thing here, where we are worthy of such efforts?
There will always be those who are too timid to reach to position ourselves well for our future. They’d have government with little role in making opportunity happen.

(Rep. Phil Miller represents Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam)

Chester Selectmen Receive $3.09 Million Library Expansion and Restoration Proposal

CHESTER— The board of selectmen Tuesday got its first look at a plan for a $3.09 million renovation and expansion of the Chester Public Library that was developed by a library expansion feasibility study committee established earlier this year. The board made no immediate decision on how, or when, to bring the project to the town’s voters in a possible bonding referendum.

Library Director Linda Fox, and Terry Schreiber, chairwoman of the study committee, were joined for the presentation by architect Kenneth Best, with the South Windsor firm of Drummney-Rosane-Anderson Inc. The firm was hired last spring, using funds from a $20,000 state grant, to investigate options for a renovation and expansion of the historic 1906 library building located on West Main Street, also known as Route 148.

Best presented a preliminary conceptual plans for a 2,000 square-foot expansion that would double the size of the existing 2,000 square-foot library building. There would be additions on both the east and west sides of the building, providing an expanded children’s section, a larger program space, an office for the library director, and additional storage space.

The building would be made completely handicapped-accessible, with a new staircase and elevator from the basement-like lower level. The historic front entrance with steps would be preserved, with a new, handicapped-accessible main entrance from the west side of the building. There would also be a new and relocated septic system, new restrooms, and a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $3,091,600, including funding for a temporary location for most library programs and services during the estimated 12 to 15 months of construction. Best said building a new library in a different location would cost at least $2.75 million, a figure that does not include any and acquisition expense.

Schreiber said the elected library board of directors would like to proceed with the project, noting the idea of a renovation and expansion has been studied for nearly three years. “We’d like to go with it,” she said. Fox said library supporters were hoping for a bonding referendum next spring or summer, with Best noting the cost estimates were based on 2014 construction dollars.

The selectmen were supportive, but cautious, with First Selectman Edmund Meehan noting there are no funds set aside in the current town budget to pay for a more detailed design plan that could be presented to the voters in a bonding referendum.

Selectman Tom Englert and Selectman Lawrence Sypher each suggested that library supporters should conduct a fundraising drive that could help reduce the total bonding expense for taxpayers. “It’s a big number for people to swallow in these economic times,” Englert said.

Best said an appropriation of about $15,000 would pay for more detailed schematic designs plans and cost estimate that could form the basis for a bonding proposal. He said it would cost about $150,000 to produce extremely detailed “bid ready” design plans for a building project.

Meehan said he would prefer to use a less costly design effort to set the stage for a bonding proposal, while adding that selectmen, working with the board of finance, would not be able to identity funding for further design work until early next year. Meehan said some surplus funds could be generated by the rental payments from Essex Savings Bank for the leased space at town hall, along with the possibility of some unexpended education funds after school spending audits are complete later this fall.

Meehan urged the library expansion committee to “flesh out some options on how to proceed,”’ with the board to discuss the library project further at a future meeting.

Local Student Receives High Honor at Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Chester student Eric Pease, 5th Co. 3/C Cadet has been named Cadet of the Year at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.  Cadet Pease received the honor for outstanding academic, leadership abilities, and community service participation during the year.
MMA President, Admiral Richard G. Gurnon, said of the honor “Too often in life we are quick to criticize when someone falls short of the mark and we too often fail to recognize great efforts. The Cadet of the Year award is designed to single out those cadets who have done more, made the extra effort, and have achieved at a high level in the classroom”
Massachusetts Maritime Academy is a four-year state college offering undergraduate degrees in Emergency Management, Facilities Engineering, International Maritime Business, Marine Engineering, Marine Safety & Environmental Protection and Marine Transportation.
Graduate degrees are offered in Emergency Management and Facilities Management.
The Academy, located on Cape Cod, is the oldest continuing Maritime College in the country.

Looking for a Special Indian by Lake Champlain

I stopped in Burlington, VT last week for the night. I was on my way back after a long day on the road from Quebec. I stopped because I wanted to see again something very special. An unusual sculpture of an Indian. I remembered that it was located in Battery Bark. It’s a lovely park on a bluff with a spectacular view of magnificent Lake Champlain.

It was dark out and drizzly. No moon. The lake was veiled in fog. I thought I remembered the exact spot. I walked yards and yards to it across the soggy lawn. Not there.

I continued looking.  Hoofed from one side of the park to the other.My feet were getting wet. Not to be found anywhere. Did it rot? Was it vandalized? Not a soul around to explain. Disappointing.

After breakfast the next morning, I drove right to Battery Park. I was on a mission. Gray out. Heavily overcast. I rode the road that parallels the park, slowly, staring out my side window, scanning the whole park. No luck.

I turned onto a side street at the end of the park. I man walking his dog was coming out of the park. Quickly I opened my window. “Tell me, sir, what happened to the Indian sculpture?” “Nothing that I know of. It’s still here.” And he pointed to the far end of the park.  I looked, but I couldn’t see it.

I got out and stood by his side. “See!” He pointed again. “Next to the man and woman walking!” “Yes, sure. I see it now.  Thank you very much!” And I shook his hand. And told him why I was interested. “Glad I could help you. That statue is famous. We all love it.”

Strange. It was close to where I had first looked last night. How come I missed it? Well, here it was. What a shame if it had been lost. The sculpture looked dark. Nearly  black. That is not the way I remembered it.

How can you not be curious about such a strange sculpture?

It’s a very tall, very slender sculpture. I walked to it. Now it looked better. In fact, it looked good. After all, it wasn’t made of marble or bronze. It was made of wood. Carved from a tree. That’s why I have never thought of it as a statue. To me it’s always been a sculpture. Also to Peter Wolf Toth, who created it, that is what it was. A sculpture. And he was carving it way back then when I ran into him doing it. In fact, I had forgotten his name, although I wrote about him and his sculpture and what he was up to when I got home.

I couldn’t remember exactly when that was that I happened to stop by. The plaque at the base of the sculpture said 1984. So that’ s when I saw him making it, in that spring of 1984, again on my way up, or maybe back, from Quebec.

I remembered it was a beautiful day. The sculpture was on its side, face up, supported by blocks.  A huge log is what it was. And he was working on it with mallet and chisel.  Working hard.  With great assurance.  He had a lot done. I could see it was an Indian man he was bringing forth from that log.

This guy was a genuine sculptor. An artist. It was obvious to me. He was working so deft and sure. He was a slim, muscular man, 35, maybe 40. I watched and watched.  I asked a little question. And another. He looked up, but only briefly. He answered, and kept answering as he chiseled away, little pieces and big pieces flying off. Didn’t seem to be annoyed. I noticed a strange accent. Amazing that he didn’t have a sketch at hand to guide him. He could visualize this Indian in his mind’s eye. He seemed happy with the nose and the eyes. How delicately he had finished them .

It was the sculpture of obviously a chief. I could tell by his native finery and his stately pose.  Exaggerated, of course. Had to be because of the limitations of the log’s shape. But noble. Fierce. Impressive. A great chief for sure.

This sculptor had a tent set up nearby with camping stuff around it. A woman was busy there. His wife, I speculated. This seemed to be their camp. Living here while the work was going on. This was a big project. Not a one-week or two-week deal. Months of work, it seemed to me.

He put down his chisel and mallet. I noted he had other chisels also. And other mallets. Axes, too.
He sat on the Indian.  Was taking a break. He answered more questions. He participated willingly. Was generous about it. He must have been pestered often by folks like me. But he didn’t give me that impression.

He was traveling around the country.  Creating an Indian sculpture in every state. He had already done quite a few. A huge undertaking.  He was born in Hungary. Came here with his parents as a kid. That explained his accent. His name was Peter Wolf Toth.  Strange name for an immigrant. Or so it seemed to me. I never thought to ask him about the Wolf part.

Somehow he had become fascinated with Indians. And their culture.  Their many cultures, I should say. Had met Indians. Became aware of all the misery they had been through. Admired them. These sculptures were his tribute to them.

In each state he studied the local tribes and their history and everything he could about them. His sculpture was never of a specific person. It was his representation of the general traits he saw among them.  With details specific to the tribe. And carved it from a local tree. Always a local tree.

He got help. Help was essential. I imagined all the preparatory work he had to do. Finding local Indians. Meeting them. Finding the right tree. Finding a site for it. Studying the tree and creating a design to get the most out of it. Getting permissions.  Setting up his local operation. On and on.

He managed to find help from different benefactors. Maybe a chamber of commerce. Or city fathers. Or some other organization.  Maybe individuals. I didn’t imagine he got rich doing this, although I’m sure he got plenty of local publicity. I imagined lots of folks came by to inspect and marvel.

This turned out to be his 47th Indian sculpture.  I marveled that he had been able to complete so many. Finally I wished him luck and said goodbye and continued on my way. You can tell that it was a great experience for me.  It was the first thing I thought of when I stopped in Burlington on this trip. No way  could  I continue on without pausing to check on the sculpture. I never saw him again. Never heard about him again.

Now, I examined the big plaque on the stone base that the sculpture is set up on. All this was done after I left, of course. So all new to me. The Indian’s name was Chief Grey Lock. The plaque gave many interesting details. I took a picture of it to show to you, and also of the sculpture.

No computers back then. No Internet. Now they exist, of course, and I looked him up online. Found plenty about him.  He picked up the name Wolf from a tribe that wanted to honor him for his work.

His first sculpture of an Indian was chiseled from sandstone. From then on, always a tree. Maybe wood was a quicker medium.
He created more than 74 public sculptures. Major ones (plenty of small ones, too.) Yes, one in every state. All 50. In some states, two, even three. No Indians in Hawaii, of course, so he used a native Hawaiian—one of the indigenous people.  That made sense. He went back to Hungary for a visit. Created a sculpture there of some great Hungarian saint.

As you see, I was greatly impressed. I was so happy to see his Indian still standing. There in beautiful Battery Park, the most beautiful in town. What a perfect setting. And to hear that local folks love it.  Of course I wonder whether there are still native Americans around in Vermont to appreciate how he tried to honor their ancestors.

I haven’t been able to determine whether he’s still alive. Still carving. I hope so.  Maybe you’re wondering, where is his Indian sculpture here in our state?

It’s in Groton. In storage somewhere there. No explanation why. I wonder whether our casino native Americans know that? Methinks they’d be interested in giving the sculpture its due. But we have two tribes. Two nations. Maybe there’s a problem in that. No idea. Just speculating. If you have a clue, please let me know.….

Concert Features Songs of Leonard Cohen – Oct 21

The upcoming concert of The Small Town Concert Series is called Everybody Knows Leonard Cohen, but just in case you don’t, there is a chance to get acquainted with the songs of the legendary artist at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester on October 21 at 5 pm. Cohen is known not simply as a musician, but also as a poet whose words etch his songs in the listener’s memory.

It’s the sixth annual tribute by The Small Town Concert Series, this year also sponsored by CBSRZ. The concert headlines Chester resident Lauren Agnelli, nominated for a Grammy with the 1980s folk rock group The Washington Squares; features familiar Chester faces – elementary school music teacher Meg Gister on keyboard and vocals; Dana Takaki on violin and her daughter Rachael Aikens, a Valley Regional High School senior, as a vocalist; and Hillyn Natter of Deep River on drums.  The Small Town Concert Series band, Amalgamated Muck, will backup the performers.

Tickets ($20) in advance are available at CBSRZ (860-526-8920) or may be purchased at the door.

Everybody Knows Leonard Cohen, a concert by the Small Town Concert series

October 21 at 5 pm

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek
55 East Kings Highway
 Chester, CT 06412

For tickets call, 860-526-8920

 

 

Chester P & Z Continues Public Hearing on Proposed Single Lot Zone Change

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission will resume the public hearing Thursday on a proposed residential to commercial zone change for a four-acre parcel at 90 Goose Hill Road. The public hearing that began on Sept. 6 will reconvene at 7 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House on Liberty Street.

The panel had continued the public hearing on the petition of local resident Gary Clark to change the zoning for the parcel at 90 Goose Hill Road from residential to commercial. Clark had told the commission he wants to move his landscaping business to the parcel, which receives access from a right-of-way of the west side of Middlesex Avenue, also known as Route 154. Clark wants to store equipment related to his business in a barn and trailers on the parcel. Clark told the commission he plans to construct a house on an abutting parcel at 233 Middlesex Avenue.

The proposed zone change drew opposition from Glen Reyer, who has received zoning approval for a four-lot residential subdivision on a nearby 14-acre parcel. Reyer, a co-founder of the Chester Common Ground Party, was an unsuccessful candidate for board of selectmen in last year’s town election.

Reyer contended the zone change to commercial would establish a bad precedent for other parcels on and near Route 154, leading to spot zoning and “zoning creep” in the future. Also objecting to the proposed zone change was Betty Perreault, who owns a nearby property at 50 Goose Hill Road. Perreault served as first selectwoman from 1989 to 1993.

Five Foxboro Neighbors Appeal Essex Planning Commission’s “Public Access” Ruling

Five Foxboro neighbors have joined the cause of developer Frank J. Sciame, Jr. by filing their own Complaint and Appeal in Superior Court against the Essex Planning Commission’s approval of a “public access” corridor across Sciame’s development on Foxboro Road.  Sciame’s development is located on eleven plus acres that run along Foxboro Road and River Street overlooking the North Cove in Essex.

The protesting neighbors in this court action are Thomas D. Cunningham, III, Pamela H. Jones, Kathleen A. Maher, John N. Bauman and Jennifer W. Hunt. Their suit states that they all “are owners of real property which is located within 100 feet” of Sciame’s development.

The Foxboro property owners say in their suit that they are “aggrieved by the decision of the Essex Commission” to require a “public access” corridor to run across Sciame’s development. Their Complaint and Appeals track closely an earlier legal protest by Sciame, himself, in Superior Court.

Sciame filed his lawsuit on September 19, and the neighbors filed theirs two days later.  Both lawsuits are still pending before the court. The legal papers of the neighbors’ lawsuit were prepared by Attorney John S. Bennet, Esq.

The Measurements of the “Public Access” Corridor

The “public access” corridor approved by the Essex Planning Commission, and challenged by both appeals would run from Foxboro Road down to the waters of the North Cove. At Foxboro Road, the width of the corridor would be 150 feet. Then about half way down, the corridor would narrows to 75 feet until it reaches North Cove.

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

In its approval of the “public access” corridor across Sciame’s development, the Essex Planning Commission placed strict limits on the site’s use by the general public.  Specifically, the Commission required that there could be no “buildings, structures or other improvements on the property other than a bench or benches to allow visitors to view North Cove.” In addition, the Commission decreed that the use of the corridor could be limited to daylight hours.

The Arguments of the Neighbors’ Complaint

In their lawsuit the neighbors of the Foxboro Point development claim that the Essex Planning Commission’s order requiring a “public access” corridor across Sciame’s development “was arbitrary, illegal and an abuse of discretion.”

Furthermore, they specify nine reasons, most likely drafted by Attorney Benet, as to why the Superior Court should overrule the Essex Planning Commission decision on “public access.” The neighbors charge, referring specifically, to the Commission:

1. It has purported to require public access over private land, all beyond statutory authority of the Commission.

2. It has purported to take for public use an extremely valuable portion of the private Property which taking is beyond statutory authority.

(There is no number 3 listed in a lapse of draftsmanship.)

4. It has engaged in an unconstitutional taking of property without compensation and inverse taking of the property of the Plaintiffs. (Presumably, this “inverse taking” refers to the lowering of the real estate values of the neighbors’ properties.)

5. It is creating a sixty thousand square foot lot (in a town) zone which is nonconforming in several ways, contrary to the Essex Zoning regulations.

6. That the members of the Commission had predetermined this application, and were biased as to their consideration of the application. (This bias by Commission members was also charged in Sciame’s lawsuit.)

7. It has acted in violation of pursuant to (a provision of state law) by issuing its approval of the filed application as it failed to act within 65 days of the close of the public hearing as required by (state law.)

8. By requiring that Sciame deed the open space instead of restricting it by easement as allowed (in a section of town) regulations.

9. By requiring that the applicant provide over 31% of the property [to open space] when its regulations only call for 20%.

10. By deliberating and discussing the motion to approve in Executive Session, it  deprived the public the opportunity to listen to it reasoning, and there is no record of its reasons for the court to review and contrary to the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act.

The neighbors final charge regarding the Commission’s decision to go into a closed, Executive Session, when it discussed the merits of the application, could well be one of the arguments that could persuade the Superior Court to invalidate the Commission’s mandate for “public access” on the development site.

Many Other “Public Access” Sites Exist in Essex

The neighbors’ Complaint and Appeal also argues that there is already, “a 7.8 acre park located directly across from the [development] Property which has both public parking and access to the Falls River and the Connecticut River. This parcel is 70% of the size of the Property, and provides complete and adequate recreational and access facilities.”

However, Osage Trails, which is the town park referred to, does require a long walk before a visitor can reach the waters of the cove. Also, the view from the Osage Trails lacks the sweeping view of North Cove that would exist from the Commission’s “public access” corridor of the development.

Also, the neighbors’ argue in their lawsuit that, “Additionally, there are 12 Public access ways to the coves and rivers in Essex including four between the  Property and Main Street Essex, which is approximately one mile south of the Property.” Basically, the neighbors charge that the Town of Essex already has enough “public access” open spaces in town, and does not need another.

The Fully Equipped “Public Access” Site off Teal Lane

One of these existing “public access” sites is located just off Teal Lane in Essex. This truly excellent “public access” open space has a boat launch, boat racks and an elevated wooden sitting and viewing area. Also, there is plenty of room for parking, and there is a latrine on the site.

A premier “public access” site in on North Cove in Essex

However, even this fully equipped, “public access” site does not offer  the sweeping views of North Cove, the Great Meadow and the Connecticut River that a “public access” corridor on the Sciame development would offer.

In the Commission’s approval hearings Sciame went so far as to offer a visual “public access” easement from Foxboro Road to the North Cove below and beyond. In short, the waters could be seen but not walked to. However, this alternative was rejected by the Commission.

Still, indisputably, the Commission’s “public access” corridor at Foxboro Point, would uniquely offer a visitor the joy being able to walk down and back to the waters North Cove. However, as is evident by this lawsuit, the neighbors would not like it.

Breakfast at Chester Village West for a Good Cause

The International committee of the Tri-Club Chester, Deep River and Essex Rotary clubs met at Chester Village West recently to learn more about the Sister Cities Essex/Haiti project to build a library in Deschapelles, Haiti.

Pictured above with plans for the library are (left to right) Kathleen Maher, SCEH President and Director;  Susan Carpenter, Essex Rotary, project leader, to purchase 1,000 books for the library; Jeff Mehler, Tri-Club International committee Chairman; Terry Smith, Chairman of the SCEH library project; and Jennifer Grant SCEH Secretary and Director, whose parents founded Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Deschappelles. Photo by Chester Village West