April 22, 2018

Archives for 2013

East Haddam to Offer Public Transit Service with 9 Town Transit

9 town transit bus2East Haddam residents will soon have greater mobility with new access to a regional transit system. Beginning January 15th, the town of East Haddam will begin a contract with 9 Town Transit to provide general public Dial-A-Ride service throughout the town.

9 Town Transit, operated by the Estuary Transit District, currently provides Dial-A-Ride service throughout Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook.  Any location within East Haddam and Moodus will now also be included in the new expanded service area.

“This is a great opportunity to add East Haddam to the 9-Town Transit system.   Our contract with 9-Town Transit will enable all residents, not just senior citizens, to take advantage of the Dial-A-Ride service and secure a ride anywhere in the 9-Town Transit district”, remarks East Haddam First Selectman Mark Walter.

9 Town Transit will also offer East Haddam residents service to parts of Westchester and Colchester, CT, including the Stop & Shop supermarket.  In addition, East Haddam residents may travel to the Middletown Stop & Shop supermarket, Middlesex Hospital, Middlesex Community College and the Saybrook Road area medical offices.

“I know that residents in East Haddam will see immediate benefits from this service. I am thrilled that after meeting with transit officials only a few weeks ago, we were able to make this service available to all residents, regardless of age, at the beginning of the New Year. I look forward to seeing their green bus around Moodus, Lake Hayward and all areas of town”, says State Representative Melissa Ziobron, who assisted in the collaboration.

To reserve a trip, customers will call 9 Town Transit at up to two weeks but no less than one day in advance.  The fare will be $3.00 each way, with seniors age 60 and over eligible to ride at a suggested donation of $1.50.  The hours of service are 6:00 AM until 6:00 PM Monday through Friday.  The service is open to the general public with no age restrictions.  All vehicles are fully accessible with wheelchair lifts and service is available for any trip purpose.

Additional information, route maps and schedules are available online at www.9towntransit.com or by calling 9 Town Transit at 860-554-0551.

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Deep River Homicide Victim Identified, Margaret Rohner, 45

DEEP RIVER— State police have identified the woman who was stabbed to death Thursday in a rented house at 131 Rattling Valley Road as 45-year old Margaret Rohner. Police have arrested and charged her son, 22-year-old Robert O. Rankin, with murder in the slaying.

Rohner’s body was found Thursday afternoon after her former husband, local resident Robert Rankin Jr., 54, called police around 1 p.m. to report that he believed his son had stabbed his ex-wife. After questioning and investigation at the scene, detectives arrested Robert O. Ranking for murder.

Rankin was presented Friday at Middlesex Superior Court in Middletown, where a judged ordered him held on $1milliion bond and placed on a suicide watch while in custody. Rankin’s next court appearance is set for Feb. 4. According to information released after the courant appearance, state troopers reported that Rankin had admitted to stabbing his mother to death sometime Thursday morning.

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Local Man Arrested for Murder of His Mother at Rattling Valley Road Home

DEEP RIVER— State police have arrested a local man for murder in the stabbing death of his mother in a house at 131 Rattling Valley Road. Robert Rankin, 22, was arrested late Thursday and presented Friday at Middlesex Superior Court in Middletown. He was ordered held in custody on a $1 million bond.

State police were called to the home, located off a common driveway on the eastern end of Rattling Valley Road, around 1 p.m. Thursday by Rankin’s father, Robert Rankin Jr.

According to information released at the court appearance, Rankin Jr. told troopers that he believed his son had stabbed his ex-wife. Her body was found inside the house after police arrived on the scene. Police had not released the deceased woman’s name as of late Friday afternoon. Detectives with the state police Central District Major Crime Squad were at the home into the night Thursday, and later arrested the younger Rankin on a murder charge.

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Essex Property Values Drop With 2013 Revaluation

ESSEX— The assessed value of most properties in town has declined in the recently completed townwide revaluation, the first comprehensive update of values since the onset of the national recession in 2008.

Assessor Jessice Sypher said earlier this week most, but not all, of the town’s 2,918 residential property accounts, including undeveloped land, show a decline in assessed value .”It depends a lot on the location,” Sypher said, noting that property values in many neighborhoods held steady, or actually show an increase in assessed value based on recent sales. New assessments were mailed to most property owners in late November.

Sypher said values in and around the downtown Essex village held steady, while some properties in the northern sections of Essex off River Road showed higher assessed values. She said many properties around the Mill Pond of the Falls River in Ivoryton showed higher assessed values. Sypher said the town’s 307 commercial and industrial properties showed an average six percent drop in assessed value from the 2008 assessments.

The revaluation was done by Vision Appraisal Government Solutions of Northboro, Mass., the same firm that handled the last full townwide revaluation with on site inspections in 2003, and the statistical revaluation update that was done in 2008.

Sypher, who has served as Essex assessor for more than a decade, said she is anticipating a seven to ten percent drop in the town’s grand list of taxable property. A drop in that range would be comparable to what occurred in Deep River, when the town’s grand list decreased by eight percent after a revaluation that was completed in 2010.

Sypher said the 2013 grand list would be filed on schedule on Jan. 31, without the need for a 30 days extension that is sometimes requested after a revaluation.

Sypher said some residents have requested informal hearings with Vision Appraisal representatives on their new assessments, though there has been no influx of complaints to her office since the new assessments were mailed. “lt has been more questions than complaints,” she said.

Property owners who believe their new assessments are incorrect can request formal hearings with the town’s elected board of assessment appeals. The 2013 grand list will be used to set a tax rate for 2014-2015 after town and school budgets are adopted next year.

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Essex Land Trust: Hike of the Month Schedule – Get to Know Essex Outdoors

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The Essex Land Trust is pleased to announce a new program to encourage enjoyment of our special outdoor open spaces. Hikes are planned for every month on the first Saturday, starting at 9am and lasting approximately 1 hour. Meet at each property’s entrance. Hikes will be canceled in the event of bad weather.

Explore Essex’s outdoor open space by visiting many of the special sites that have been preserved for the benefit of all. For directions please refer to the Essex Land Trust Trail Guide, or on line at www. essexlandtrust.org. This activity is being co-sponsored by the Essex Park and Recreation Department as part of their Essex Outdoors program, which encourages families and people of all ages to experience the natural beauty of our community.

Hikes will be led by Essex Land Trust volunteers and are scheduled as follows.

  • Jan 4 – Turtle Creek Preserve – Watrous Point Road, off Route 154
  • Feb 1 – Canfield Preserve – Park at the Book Hill Woods Road entrance
  • Mar 1 – Heron Pond Preserve – Heron Pond Road, off Route 154
  • Apr 5 – Tiley-Pratt Preserve – On unmarked Kreis Lane, off Laurel Road
  • May 3 – Viney Hill Brook Preserve – Parking lot at end of Cedar Grove Terrace
  • June 7 – The Millrace – Park at the Ivory Street entrance Part of CT Trails Day
  • July 5 – Osage Trails – Take Maple Avenue, off N. Main to Foxboro Road
  • Aug 2 – Windswept Ridge – On Windermere Way, off of Mare’s Hill Road,
  • Sept 6 – Falls River Preserve – End of Falls River Drive, off Main St., Ivoryton
  • Oct 4 – Bushy Hill Nature Preserve – Park on Bushy Hill Road entrance
  • Nov 1 – Fern Ledge – Next to Shoreline Clinic, off Route 153
  • Dec 6 – James Glen – End of Hudson Lane, off River Road

For more information email the Essex Land Trust: info@essexlandtrust.org

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Letters: Essex Grove Street Park Project Update

Dear Friends of Essex Park & Recreation,

First, we would like to wish everyone a very Happy and Healthy Holidays!

Also, please note our previous email on our terrific offering of youth after-school programs beginning in January. All EES students should have received our brochure through the school, here is a link to it as well: www.essexct.gov/sites/essexct/files/winter_13-14.pdf. Please do not delay in registering for these programs.

We would like to update you on our Civic Campus / Grove Street Park Improvement Project. The new playground is now open for use! It is wintertime, however on nice days like today it is sure to be used. The playground was finished on December 1 however our installer accidentally damaged a piece of equipment which had to be re-ordered and shipped, and a brand new one was installed just a few days ago. Work will continue in the spring as we will perform grounds remediation and repair, shift benches and picnic tables back into place, and we will install a new entrance pathway from the parking lot to the playground.

We hope everyone enjoys the new playground and we thank you for your patience during this process. The tennis courts will be finished in the spring as well as soon as conditions permit, I know our local tennis players are eager to use our new facility.

As always, we welcome you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have.

Sincerely,

Mary Ellen Barnes
Essex Park and Recreation

Town of Essex
Recreation Program Manager &
Social Services Representative

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Literacy Volunteers-Valley Shore Trains Sixteen New Tutors

Sixteen area residents were intensively trained in fall workshops to tutor adults in Basic Reading and English as a Second Language. The seven-session workshop introduces individuals to the fundamentals of teaching basic reading as well as English to foreign individuals. This year’s fall graduates were Joanne Argersinger of Deep River, Emily Brown of Essex, Paul Chapman of Guilford, Bill Etter of Guilford, Wendy Gifford of Madison, Nicholas King of Old Lyme, Katy Klarnet of Old Lyme, Valerie Klein of Niantic, Lori Miller of Chester, Barbara Pilcher of Old Saybrook, Patricia Rivers of Essex, Andrew Rogers of Clinton, Jennifer Rugarber of Madison, Christine Stout of Old Lyme, Penny Tosatti of Westbrook, and Ellen Wagner of Branford.

As an accredited affiliate of ProLiteracy America, LVVS is in its third decade of helping people in Valley Shore towns learn to read, write, and speak better English to improve their lives. These services are free of charge to the student and completely confidential. For further information contact the Literacy Volunteers office by calling (860) 399-0280, email info@vsliteracy.org or visit our website at www.vsliteracy.org.

For more information about this release, contact;  Peter Mezzetti, Communications Chairperson,  Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore CT., Inc. (203) 506-8135 or by e-mail at pmezzetti@vsliteracy.org

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Letter from Paris: Merkel Warms French Hearts

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel

The integration of Europe moved forward this week following important events.

On Dec. 15 Angela Merkel was reelected for the third time as German Chancellor. Her victory was made possible with the coalition of her Christian Democrat party (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD).

The composition of her new government gives an indication on the future policies of Germany. Among the nine CDU ministers, Wolfgang Schauble will remain as the indispensable minister of finances and as such will guarantee a certain continuity. The crucial post of economy/energy will be occupied by an SPD member. So will foreign affairs, to be headed by pro-European Walter Steinmeier. It is interesting to note that for the first time a woman will be in charge of Defense: Ursula von der Leyen, 51, is close to Angela Merkel, French-speaking and a mother of seven. The ministry of immigration is also to be headed by a woman who, even more significantly, is of Turkish origin.

There is no deep ideological difference between the CDU and SPD parties. French analysts stress that it would be a mistake to assimilate the German social democrats to the French socialists. The former are “center left” rather than “left”.

According to tradition, Merkel’s first official visit abroad was to France. Her next stop was Brussels to attend the summit meeting of the European Council. Arduous negotiations led to important decisions – as important, some experts say, as the creation of the Euro currency.

Merkel will not abandon her general policy of financial discipline, but will relax her hard austerity line. Germany’s economic policy will be slightly less liberal. A minimum wage of 8.5 euros is to take effect within three years. The new program will reduce the number of “poor workers” and should give a boost to the domestic consumption. It will also alleviate criticism expressed by other European countries of unfair competition on the labor market.

A banking union and the European defense were the main topics of discussion. The creation of a banking union is intended to put a stop to the bailout of failing banks at the expense of the tax payers. So far financial support for countries in trouble like Greece or Spain has been supported by only 27 percent of Germans, and even less – 20 percent – of the French.

Merkel has always been against the “mutualisation” of the sovereign debts. The new directives give greater power to the Banque Centrale Européenne (BCE – Central Bank of Europe) over the banks in order to prevent speculative investments. The BCE will also oversee the creation of a “funds of resolution,” financed by the banks, which will amount to 55 billion by 2026. Brussels will only intervene in case of urgent crisis. Obviously it will be hard for many of the states to lose sovereignty over their own budget.

The other subject of discussion in Brussels was the European defense. For Germany, defense is almost a taboo and most European states – except France – are unwilling to interfere in foreign military conflicts. Some progress though was made in specific areas such as cyber security, refueling of planes in the air, the use of drones by 2025 and controlling piracy along the Somalian coast. A limited amount of logistical and financial support is likely to be welcomed, particularly by France, who acted alone in both Mali and the Republic of Central Africa.

The Franco-German ” couple” appears now to be returning to center stage. As seen from France, the new developments are generally well-accepted by economists and other specialists. Overall, they seem to be impressed by the pragmatic behavior of the Germans and believe the German vote was a smart one – indeed, a rare mark of approval to be found in French opinion of German politics.

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River Valley Slimdown is Losing For Good

Deep River, CT – Donna Scott’s River Valley Slimdown returns to tackle New Year’s Resolutions for the body and spirit! While participants will compete to lose the most weight over 12 weeks, they will also be raising funds for charity. Those who take the challenge will be dropping the holiday pounds for the good of their health, and of their community.

The next River Valley Slimdown will begin on January 11, and will run for 12 weeks, ending on April 5.  Over the past six challenges, Donna Scott and her team at IFoundFitness in Deep River, CT, have helped over 120 participants shed over 860 pounds! They’ve also raised over $1,100 for multiple organizations, including Shoreline Soup Kitchens, and Tri-Town Youth Services, to name just a few.  The Winter 2014 River Valley Slimdown will donate 20% of the challenge jackpot to the charity decided upon by the participants.

The jackpot itself is even determined by those who take the weight loss plunge. Participants agree to pony up $65 to participate in the challenge, which includes a weekly weigh in. Any weight gain results in a penalty fee. All penalties, and the original registration fees go towards the final jackpot. That jackpot is then divided between the contest winners, and the charity of choice.

“People love that extra motivation!” says Donna. “While, of course, we tend to over-indulge during the holidays, it’s also a time to give back to others. My clients are amazing. Their dedication to their health is only matched by the dedication they have to helping these charities!”

The Fall 2013 River Valley Slimdown resulted in a jackpot of over $2300. Both the first and second place winners dropped over ten pounds each. For the upcoming challenge, Donna will again be working with Penny Smyth, CHHC, AADP Certified Health Coach, to provide nutritional and weight management seminars to the challenge-takers throughout the challenge.  RVSD will also be offering a Brand New On-Line Meal Planning Program where participants can choose from over 450 menu choices, including vegan and gluten free diets!!  Need one more reason to get involved? Sign up before January 1st to receive a free pass card to five fitness classes at IFoundFitness (new members only).

Registration is currently open for the Winter 2014 River Valley Slimdown. Email Donna at donna@ifoundfitness.com for complete rules and registration forms.

For more information on the River Valley Slimdown, please visit: www. ifoundfitness.com/rv-slim-down/

To contact Donna Scott of IFoundFitness:  (860) 961-4507

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Essex Selectmen Consider Scaling Back Town Delay of Demolition Ordinance

ESSEX— The board of selectmen is considering amendments that would scale back the requirements of the town’s delay of demolition ordinance for historic structures. The board discussed the ordinance at a meeting Wednesday, and is expected to discuss specific changes o the ordinance at the next meeting on Jan. 8.

The ordinance was approved at a October 2004 town meeting at the urging of longtime town historian and author Donald Malcarne, who died in 2009. It requires public notice of intent to demolish any structure in Essex that more than 75 years old, and allows the Essex Historical Society, or any other resident, to petition for a 90 days delay of demolition.

Malcarne, responding to the demolition of a handful of older homes in town in the early 2000s, had contended the ordinance would give preservationists time to explore alternatives to demolition, or at least document the structure for the town’s historic record. The fine for a property owner ignoring the ordinance was only $100.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said he favors pushing back the historic date when the ordinance and related public notice requirements would be triggered to 1900. Under the existing ordinance, the date when the ordinance requirements are effective would be 1936. The year was 1927 when the ordinance was adopted in 2004.

“1900 is better than a rolling 75 years, Needleman said, adding the requirements of the ordinance have become “onerous” for some property owners in recent years. “It’s the law of unintended consequences,” he said.

Needleman also suggested revising the ordinance to specify that both the Essex Historical Society and the appointed town historian would be required to file an objection to trigger the 90 days delay of demolition, rather than simply any town resident. Selectman Bruce Glowac said he is open to revising the ordinance, while adding that Malcarne’s intentions were good when he pushed for adoption of the ordinance nearly a decade ago. “Historic houses were being torn down and nobody knew it was going to happen,” he said. Any amendments to the delay of demolition ordinance would require approve from voters at a town meeting.

In other business, the selectmen appointed Jae Wolf, a Deep River resident, as animal control officer. Wolf replace Belden Libby, who resigned from the part-time position last month.

Libby, husband of Selectwoman Stacia Libby, had been hired in June after the retirement of longtime animal control officer Joseph Heller. Needleman said Wolf is an animal lover who applied for the position, which includes an annual stipend and use of a town vehicle for calls.

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Deep River Planning and Zoning Approves Relocation of Dunkin Donuts to 246 Main Street

DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission has approved a special permit for the relocation of Dunkin Donuts to a vacant commercial building at 246 Main St. The panel approved the permit on a unanimous vote at a Dec. 12 meeting after plans were presented at a lengthy public hearing on Nov. 21.

In a separate decision, the commission last week approved a special permit to allow a dog day care business in a portion of the industrial building at 444 Main St. that had been the subject of a zoning dispute last year.

The permit will allow Great American Donut of Plainville to relocate the Dunkin Donuts that has operated for about 4 years in commercial space at 190 Main St. to move south to the 246 Main St. property that is located at the intersection of Main and Union streets. The Dunkin Donuts would occupy 1,600 square-feet, or about half, of the vacant commercial building on the parcel. The west section of the building, on the Union St. side, would be reserved for another unspecified commercial use.

The commission imposed nine conditions on the permit approval. Four of the conditions will require the applicant to return to the commission for permit modifications on lighting, the main sign for the business, the design and color scheme of a planned outdoor seating area, and the location and enclosure for the dumpster uses by the donut shop.

The location of the dumpster was a major topic of discussion at the public hearing, with some residents objecting to placing the dumpster at the front southern most section of the parcel, which is at the apex of the Main Street-Union Street intersection. But the commission decided to allow the dumpster in the front section of the parcel under conditions. The dumpster would have to be fully enclosed in a 10-foot by 12-foot structure with a roof.. Final plans for the dumpster location and enclosure would be reviewed by the commission before work begins on the site improvements.

Other conditions include extending the improved front facade of the building to the back of the building to obscure mechanical equipment on the roof, extending granite curbing to the parking area, and elimination of a window the west side of the building that is reserved for the future commercial use. There would be a prohibition on signage on the west side of the building facing Union Street.

The dog day care business at 444 Main St. was approved after a brief public hearing where the proposed use drew no objections from any nearby property owners. The permit will allow local resident Jerilyn Nucci to provide daytime care for up to 24 dogs. The dog day care would occupy about 1,500 square-feet of the building.

The industrial building on the west side of Main St., also known as Route 154, had been the subject of a zoning dispute in 2012 after town commissions blocked a proposal by the property owner, local resident George Bartlett Jr., to use most of the building for a used car dealership.

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Region 4 School Board Approve 2014-2015 School Calendar, Second Year with Short February Break

REGION 4— Region 4 school boards have approved a school calendar for 2014-2015, the second year where district students will have a shortened two day February break.

The calendar that was unanimously approved by district school boards on Dec. 5 closely follows the current school calendar that was approved after much discussion by the boards in December 2012. For the second year, district schools will close for the Monday Presidents Day holiday, Feb,. 16 ,2015, and remained closed the following day for students while staff have an in service professional development day.

The next school year will open on Thursday, Aug. 28. The calendar adheres to the district policy for the autumn Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, with schools closed if the holiday falls on a week day. For 2014, there will be no school on Rosh Hashanah, Thursday Sept. 25, while Yom Kippur falls on a weekend and does not require a closing.

As was the case this year, there will be no school for students on Columbus Day, while school staff will be in session for a professional development day. This follows a year, 2012, where schools were in full session on the Columbus Day holiday. As was the case this year, school will be in session on Veterans day, Nov. 11.

As was the case this year, there will be no school on Wednesday Nov. 26, the day before Thanksgiving. The winter holiday break will run from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, with a spring vacation week from April 6-10. There will be five early dismissal days for students, while staff are in service during the afternoons for professional development.

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Letter From Paris: Seasonal Signs in the City of Light … and Beyond

The Champs-Elysees in Paris with Christmas lights (file photo.)

The Champs-Elysees in Paris with Christmas lights (file photo.)

France is very festive at this pre-Christmas time. I just returned from a short visit to the village of Sanary Sur Mer on the Mediterranean. The grandiose gold and silver decorations contrasted with the bright colored “pointus” (small fishing boats) tossing about in the port.

Our next stop was Aix-en-Provence, which was also getting ready for the holiday season. It is a pleasure to look for shops wandering through the pedestrian streets of the old town and discover the 17th century architecture with its elegant courtyards and stairs. Rows of prefabricated chalets selling glühwein and regional pastries lined the Cours Mirabeau (the heart of the city) ending in an illuminated fountain. A hot chocolate in the old fashioned terrace of the Grillon cafe was a must.

If Paris ever deserves its name of the “City of Light,” it is at Christmas time. Each arrondissement has its own style of illuminations. They range from the elegant avenue Montaigne where trees and lights match the costly look of the main fashion houses to the more popular Bastille (where I live), which turn into an amusement park offering a stomach -curdling ride in the highest contraption of Europe.

The sight of the Champs Elysees is spectacular. This year the decorations consist of blue lights circling the trees. The computerized lighting of the Grande Roue (ferris wheel) overlooking the Place de la Concorde makes it look as if it is exploding in the sky. For many years, it has offered the best view over the city.  The Eiffel Tower stands aloof and sparkles for a few minutes every hour on the hour.

The Eiffel Tower decorated for Christmas.

The Eiffel Tower decorated for Christmas.

Borrowing a tradition which used to be more common in Germany and Central Europe, Christmas markets are now found every where in Paris. Their alpine look make up for the absence of snow. The esplanade of the Hotel de Ville attracts visitors with free skating ring and merry-go-round.

And, of course, there is the Christmas shopping, including the most popular toy of the year: the clone. I thought it was a good time for me to discover the latest and largest shopping mall in downtown Paris. The modernistic glass facade of Beaugrenelle is part of the group of skyscrapers built in the 15th arrondissement by the Seine river. As a sign of times, the budget of many families been has been reduced to 300 euros per person. As a result, shopping online and the use of newly-created second-hand supermarkets have exploded.

Oysters, foie gras and a good bottle of champagne are still the favorite with the French for their reveillon (meaning ‘the eve.’) On the 25th itself, the celebratory meal will be planned around a goose and end up with a bûche de Noel (Christmas log.)

HeadshotAbout the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She will write a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also will cover a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Letter: A Message from TTYS on Suicide Prevention

To the Editor:

“Be the 1 to start the conversation” is the tagline of three billboards scheduled by the Tri-Town Youth Services Suicide Prevention Workgroup for installation in the tri-town area during November and December. The billboards are intended to create awareness of local and statewide efforts to prevent suicide.

It’s a shocking thought that in 2011, 8.5 million people nationwide had seriously contemplated suicide and that in Connecticut someone dies by suicide on average every day of the year. A person considering suicide is in pain; they very often do not see any alternatives to suicide. They may engage in despondent and self-defeating thinking, increasing their sense of hopelessness. We, ordinary people, can learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of suicidal thinking and how to act—for example, when and how to use 2-1-1 for crisis intervention—to let a person in severe emotional pain know we care.

The conversation about suicide is also a conversation about mental health and well-being. The statistics surrounding mental health disorders are formidable as well. Every year in the United States, 1 out of every 5 adults over the age of 18—or 45.6 million people—will experience a mental illness. Lifetime rates are even higher. Across a lifespan, 1 out of 2 people will suffer with a mental health problem at some point. So it is extremely likely we’ll encounter someone in our families, workplaces, schools, churches, or communities, who lives with a diagnosed mental disorder. Studies show the vast majority of people experiencing mental illness can be treated effectively and live full, satisfying lives, contributing positively in all the places they live, work and play. Yet nearly 60% of people with disorders do not seek mental health treatment. Of those who do seek treatment, even they typically delay doing so for a decade. Stigma can be a determining factor in preventing people from receiving the help they need.

Stigma isolates, shames, embarrasses and literally threatens the well being of an individual.  Think of the words we commonly hear when people talk about a person with mental illness; none of them are attractive. While we would be hard pressed to hear someone referred to as “a cancer,” or “a broken leg,” we often do hear people referred to as “manic depressives” or “schizophrenics.” This kind of labeling is disrespectful and creates a daunting barrier to recovery. Because mental health problems impact one’s ability to work, carry out daily activities and engage in satisfying relationships, the longer a person waits to receive help the more their illness will have disrupted their lives. While the above statistics address the adult population, consider this: half of all mental health problems arise before age 14, and 75% before age 25, a period of time we now know is critical for brain development. How can we begin to eliminate stigma and increase the likelihood that people suffering from mental health concerns or in crisis will get the help they so urgently need?

Eliminating misconceptions about mental illness, engaging the media in reducing erroneous stereotypes, and providing tools for community members to support their acting positively, confidently and compassionately when mental health concerns do arise can go a long way to eliminating stigma. For example, despite the prevalent misconception that people with mental illness are violent, there is generally very little risk of violence or harm to a stranger from casual contact with an individual with a mental health disorder. In fact, a person with a mental illness is much more likely to be a victim than a perpetrator of violence. The media offers hope for eradicating stigma because of its power to educate and influence public opinion. And in Deep River, a course is being offered by Tri-Town Youth Services on January 7th and 14th entitled Mental Health First Aid which teaches members of the public how to respond in a mental health emergency and offer assistance to someone who appears to be in emotional distress.

Not every person in psychological distress is at risk of suicide or has a mental disorder, but the strains, stresses, and challenges of today’s society increase our vulnerability. With a 50 – 50 chance of developing a mental health concern in a lifetime, committing to connection vs. isolation and support vs. shame—whether we find ourselves in a position to give or to receive—increases all of our chances for individual and community well-being.

Sincerely,

Claire Walsh
14 Dickinson Court
Deep River, CT 06417

Claire M. Walsh has had extensive experience working with adults and adolescents as a Clinical Social Worker and Addictions Specialist. She is a member of the Tri-Town Youth Services Suicide Prevention Workgroup.

 

 

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Trees In the Rigging Boat Parade Contest Winners Announced

Trees in the Rigging’s Lighted Boat Parade winners Chris and Casey Clark receive their award from Connecticut River Museum executive director, Chris Dobbs.

Trees in the Rigging’s Lighted Boat Parade winners Chris and Casey Clark receive their award from Connecticut River Museum executive director, Chris Dobbs.

Essex – On Tuesday, December 9, the Connecticut River Museum officially announced the winners of the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade.  The event, held on December 1, featured festively-lit vessels passing in front of the museum’s historic 1878 Steamboat dock and warehouse.  Out of a field of 12 participants in the judged competition, Chis and Casey Clark of FOLLOWING C won first place, Bill Sullivan of PATIENCE took second place, and Andy and Beth Pye of MONOMOY were awarded third place.

Trees in the Rigging is a community event presented annually by the Connecticut River Museum, the Essex Historical Society, and the Essex Board of Trade.

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Essex Zoning Commission Sets Date for Public Hearing on Medical Maijuana Moritorium, Village District Uses

ESSEX— The zoning commission will hold a public hearing Monday on a proposed one year moratorium on medical marijuana-related applications on proposed prohibitions on various commercial uses in the downtown village district. The hearing convenes at 7 p.m. in town hall.

The amendments to town zoning regulations are proposed by the commission. One proposed amendment would impose a one year moratorium on applications for uses developing from the new state law allowing prescription of medical marijuana for certain health conditions. The moratorium would apply to both growing businesses and dispensaries for medical marijuana.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said the panel is hoping to take a year to monitor how potential zoning uses related to medical marijuana are handled in other municipalities. “The commission wants to get more of a grasp on the new laws and determine whether those uses are appropriate for Essex,” he said.

A separate public hearing will focus on the commissions proposal to prohibit certain commercial uses in the downtown Essex village district. The proposed new regulation would allow arts and crafts-related uses in the district, while prohibiting check cashing establishments, tattoo and massage parlors, adult-themed stores, and head shops. Budrow said none of the proposed changes were prompted by any potential local applications for the uses, including medical marijuana uses.

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Aaron Manor Town Plan Revisions Draw Mixed Comments at Chester P & Z

CHESTER— Revisions to the town plan of conservation and development that would give the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center the option of connecting to the town sewer system drew a mixed response from residents and officials Thursday at a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission.

The nursing facility located off Route 148 at the Route 9/Exit 6 interchange has requested amendments to the 2009 plan that would give the facility the option of connecting to the sewer system that serves the downtown village and a section of Route 154. Aaron Manor is under order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to upgrade the on site septic system serving the facility. Earlier this year, the town inland-wetlands commission asked representatives of the facility to investigate the option of connecting to the town sewer system before pursuing an application for a new and larger on-site sewage disposal system.

Changes to the town plan are needed for the facility to begin a detailed analysis of the option of a connection to the municipal system, a costly project that would require installing an underground sewer line along about 1.5 miles of Route 148 east from Aaron Manor to the downtown village area.

About 20 residents, including members of the conservation and economic development commissions, turned out for the public hearing. Several residents, including First Selectman Edmund Meehan, spoke in support of the requested revisions. Meehan, a former municipal planner for Newington, presented a written statement from the board of selectmen endorsing the changes, and also spoke at the hearing. Meehan contended giving the 10-year plan the option of expanding the municipal sewer system would be a “good thing for Chester.”

“If you have it in the plan you can guide it and direct it,” Meehan said, adding that planning and zoning commission oversight and current zoning for minimum one or two acre building lot sizes would limit development and population density along any Route 148 sewer extension. “I don’t think this is going to upset the town’s land use patterns,” he said.

Steve Flett, chairman of the economic development commission, said the revisions represent a request for help from an existing business, not a plan to promote wider economic development. “If Aaron Manor is prepared to pay the bill, you should just let them do it,” he said.

But Michael Prisloe, chairman of the conservation commission, contended the changes to the plan could have “unintended consequences” for future development that would change the environment and character of. the town’s western gateway. The commission presented a statement urging further study before approval of any changes to the town plan. Prisloe also noted the changes to the plan could become effective early next year, long before completion of any sewer line from Aaron Manor.

The commission was expected to close the public hearing Thursday and begin deliberations of the Aaron Manor application at it’s Jan. 9 meeting.

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Deep River P&Z Holds Public Hearing on Proposed Dog Care Business for 444 Main Street

DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing Thursday on a special permit application for a dog day care business in a portion of a former industrial building at 444 Main St. that was the subject of a zoning dispute last year. The hearing convenes at 7 p.m. in town hall.

Local resident Jerilyn Nucci is seeking to use 1,500-square feet of the building owned by resident George Bartlett Jr. to provide day care for up to 24 dogs. The dogs would be walked outside during the day in a monitored play area.

Bartlett had purchased the 13,340 square-foot building, former home of the Champion Tool & Dye Co., in 2011. In 2012, he proposed using most of the building for a used car dealership, an application that led to a dispute between the planning and zoning commission and zoning board of appeals. The ZBA approved variances for the proposed use in June 2012, drawing objections from the planning and zoning commission over whether one of the variances was a use-related variance that exceeded the authority of the ZBA.

The ZBA later determined that it had granted only a dimensional variance related to road frontage requirements, a move that led to a lawsuit filed by Bartlett against the board that is still pending in Middlesex Superior Court. Last May, the planning and zoning commission denied a special permit application from Bartlett to use a portion of the property to store and maintain construction equipment amid a dispute with the applicant over conditions related to a permit approval.

Bartlett is currently renting about 8,000 square-feet of the building to a small manufacturing business, and another section to a boat repair business that was formerly located in Chester.

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Chester Selectmen Endorse Requested Aaron Manor Plan of Development Change

CHESTER— The board of selectmen last week endorsed changes to the plan of conservation and development that were requested by the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to give the facility an option of connecting to the town sewer system. First Selectman Edmund Meehan will present a statement from the board when the planning and zoning commission considers the request at a public hearing that begins Thursday at 7;30 p.m. at town hall.

The nursing facility off Route 148 is under order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to upgrade the septic system serving the facility. The inland-wetlands commission last year asked representatives of Aaron Manor to explore the option of connecting to the town sewer system before presenting an application for a new and larger on site sewage disposal system. The requested changes to the 2009 town plan would allow town boards and commissions to consider a request to tie in to the municipal sewer system.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan, a former town planner, said last week it would be “shortsighted” to hold to a plan that does not provide options for expanding the system that currently serves the downtown village and properties on Route 154. Meehan presented a written statement outlining several reasons to revise language in the plan.

The statement notes that “public sanitary sewers are a major infrastructure asset that benefits a community’s public health, water quality, and economic base.” It also suggests that a future sewer expansion could help the town’s “long range economic development and business retention options for existing non-residential land uses when on-site systems are not feasible.”

The selectmen unanimously endorsed the statement prepared by Meehan. Selectman Tom Englert said any future economic development along Route 148 west to the Aaron Manor property would be controlled by the planning and zoning commission and other town land use commissions, while the changes would simply give the nursing facility the option of investigating the feasibility of a connection. “It doesn’t say we are going to do it,” he noted.

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New Executive Director Has Big Dreams, Plans for Connecticut River Museum

Chris Dobbs, new Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum

Chris Dobbs, new Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum

Imagine if you will, a vintage, side-wheeler steamboat tied up, smartly, at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum. Imagine as well that on given days, this old, classic steamboat carries modern day passengers up and down the Connecticut River on both educational and pleasure cruises.

This is just one of the ambitious dreams held by the Connecticut River Museum’s new Executive Director, Christopher I. Dobbs. (He prefers to be called “Chris.”) Chris Dobbs recently replaced the museum’s former Executive Director, Jerry Roberts.

A resident of Deep River, the 42 year old Dobbs comes to his new post at the Connecticut River Museum after a nine year stint as Executive Director of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society in West Hartford. Prior to that, Dobbs was the Associate Director of Education at the Mystic Seaport Museum of America and the Sea. Dobbs has an M.A. in Museum Studies from the State University College of New York, Cooperstown, New York.

To help him get the Connecticut River Museum’s top job, Dobbs submitted to the search committee an impressive, three paged, single space, small type resume, setting forth his previous experience and multiple accomplishments in the museum field. For example, his resume notes that as head of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, he “Developed and completed $1.2 million capital campaign (raised 20% more than goal).”

Also, noted is that in his previous position he “Acted as the chief fundraiser by working with individual donors, foundations, city government, and State of Connecticut legislatures and agencies, and that he “increased endowment 45%.

"Conversational" billboard entrance to the Museum

“Conversational” billboard entrance to the Museum

It is highly likely that the new Executive Director’s fund raising skills did not go unnoticed by the Connecticut River Museum’s search committee for a new Executive Director. Further evidence of Dobbs, successful fund raising was that he managed and fundraised for a 250th Birthday celebration for his previous employer’s namesake, Noah Webster.

The Dream of a Steamboat Tied Up at Steamboat Dock

In a recent interview Dobbs demonstrated that he is a person who can dream big. For example, he suggested that at some future date the Connecticut River Museum might acquire a fully working, side paddling steamboat. With this historical coincidence in mind, the new steamboat would be docked at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum. In the 19th century the Steamboat Dock was a frequent stop for steamboats operating along the river.

As for the present availability of old steamboats, Dobbs said, “There are some of them still around for sale.” Dobbs asks what could be more appropriate than to have a working steamboat tied up at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum.

This does not mean that the museum’s present sailboat, the “Mary E,” which seasonably carries paying passengers on short cruises up and down the Connecticut River, would be replaced immediately. However, the new Executive Director feels that having a working steamboat at the Steamboat Dock would be uniquely consistent with the Connecticut River Museum’s mission and history.

The unadorned entrance of the Connecticut River Museum

The unadorned entrance of the Connecticut River Museum

This talk of steamboats does not mean that Dobbs is not completely on board in commemorating next year’s 200th anniversary of the 2014 burning of the American ships in Essex by British forces during the war of 1812. However, Dobbs clearly feels that this one-time historic event should not be the principal focus of the Connecticut River Museum.

Tying the Museum to the Entire Connecticut River

Rather, the central mission of the museum in Dobbs’s view is that it should focus on the full length of the Connecticut River. As Dobbs puts it, “This is, after all, the Connecticut River Museum, and, therefore, the entire length of the river from the Canadian border down to the rivers mouth on Long Island Sound is what this museum should be all about.” It should be noted that the Connecticut River is 407 miles long, and that it begins just below the Canadian border and runs down to its mouth on Long Island Sound in Connecticut between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme.

Artist rendering at the Museum of 1814 British attack on Essex

Artist rendering at the Museum of 1814 British attack on Essex

Activities that the museum could sponsor, could be canoe excursions on the upper Connecticut River between Vermont and New Hampshire. In addition, the new Executive Director envisions joining the fight against pollution in the Connecticut River, as well as children’s programs about animal and aquatic life along the Connecticut River, including teaching young and old how “to hold a fish and touch a crab.”

Dodd also raptures that the Connecticut River is, “America’s First Blue Way.” Also, like many environmentalists, he is grateful that the mouth of the Connecticut River between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme “has not been spoiled by development.”

In sum, Chriss Dobbs, the new Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum, takes a broad and exciting view of his new position. As he puts it, “We are the Connecticut River Museum, and that is the Connecticut River, and that is what we are about.” He continues, “That means that the museum is entwined with the river, every single mile of it.”

 

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Letter from Paris: ‘La Conversation’

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

La Conversation” is the kind of play Parisians love: a brilliant exercise of actors just talking and conversing on all the subjects of their time.

The scene takes place in the Tuileries palace in 1802 between First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte and Second Consul Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès. Bonaparte is a young general of 34, impatient to acquire more power. Vladimir d’Ormesson, dean of the Academie Française (a learned assembly of 40 “eternal” members, whose role is to perfect the French language), wrote an imaginary dialogue carried out in an elegant style.

The tempo of the conversation is rapid. The topics move from the mundane to the lofty. At first, Bonaparte discusses food, then becomes animated when telling a funny anecdote of a family fight over a shawl. The conversation touches on Bonaparte’s relations with women, including a beautiful blonde he met in Egypt during the 1798 campaign. When he speaks about Josephine, it is with a tangible emotion.

Although Bonaparte’s seven siblings are hard to manage, he acknowledges how much they serve his ambition of becoming a ruler over Europe. A current exhibit at the Marmottan museum shows the striking personalities of his three sisters. Elisa, grand duchess of Tuscany, is an enlightened patron of the arts and a powerful brain. Caroline, the wife of dashing general Murat, is the ambitious and plotting queen of Naples. Princess Pauline Borghese was so incredibly beautiful as to be called the “Venus of the Empire”. She was also very generous and sold all her assets to accompany Napoleon during his exile on St. Helena.

The conversation flows along revealing Bonaparte’s personality, his ambitions and his accomplishments. Cambacérès just acts as a sounding board. Meekly he expresses opinions which are swiftly bulldozed by the first consul. Bonaparte is proud of his military victories like the Pont d’Arcole, or Marengo. He considers himself at the service of the French and for them has created a legal and administrative system (which still exists today.) He brought down the monarchy of the Ancien Regime and wants power, but not as a king. He looks at Rome, and what does he see? Ceasar and the Empire. Yes, this is what he wants: be the emperor.

In the small theater, a captivated public savors the references to their common historical past. The uninterrupted conversation is a refreshing break from the modern world of texts and smart phones.

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She will write a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also will cover a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Letter: Chester Library Expansion Clarification

To Editor:

As a Chester Library Trustee, I would like to clarify that the expansion “plan” mentioned in Mr. Stannard’s article is more of a concept. There are no specific architectural plans but conceptual drawings of an idea for a lower level. The Board of Trustees has scheduled a community conversation to present this concept to the people of Chester on Saturday, January 11 (snow date 1/25) at the Meeting House. Details to be announced soon.

Sincerely,

Deedee Prisloe
Chester Library Trustee

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Literary Volunteers Valley Shore Needs Fundraising Committee Members

In the season of giving, why not give a gift of time in your community? While our attention and thoughts of volunteering are more dominant during the holidays, help is needed year round. LVVS are looking for friendly, outgoing people to populate their fundraising events committee. If you are a creative thinker and can commit some time to serve on a committee, they need you to help develop and facilitate the scheduling of fundraising events.

Meet new people, have fun, and be a part of a worthy organization. LVVS serves 11 CT Valley Shore towns through one-on-one tutoring programs in English as a Second Language(ESL) and Basic Reading(BR).  Fundraisers benefit these much needed programs.  Contact  info@vsliteracy.org or 860-399-0280.

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Region 4 School Boards Approve New Three-Year Contract for Administrators

REGION 4 — District school boards Thursday approved a new three-year contract for school administrators that provides a total 9.48 percent salary increase at the expiration of the agreement in June 2017.

The contract with the Region 4 Administrators Association was approved with little discussion by the 24 board members present at the meeting from the district towns of Chester, Essex, and Deep River. Arthur Hennick, a newly elected member of the local Chester Board of Education, cast the single dissenting vote. The contract covers ten administrators, including principals and assistant principals at the five district schools and some central office staff.

The agreement, which is effective in July, provides a 3.82 percent salary increase for 2014-2015, 3.16 percent for 2015-2016, and a 2.5 percent pay increase for the final year, 2016-2017. The totals include any step increases for several of the most recently hired administrators who are now at lower steps on the three step salary schedule for administrators.

Kevin Roy, a lawyer who represented the school district in the negotiations, said the talks with administrators, who did not use an attorney, were a “cooperative process” that quickly produced the three-year agreement. Roy said the cumulative 9.48 percent salary increase was “slightly above” the current statewide average pay increase of 7.28 percent for a three-year contract.

But Roy noted district administrators were at or below statewide pay averages for their contracts extending back to 2008. He noted that an agreement concluded in 2008, at the start of the financial crisis that led to the national Great Recession, provided no salary increase for 2008-2009, and only a two-year 2.5 percent pay increase for 2009-2011. Roy said the new contract would help the district attract and retain qualified administrators.

The actual salaries vary among administrators based on experience and years of service in the district. For the principal at Valley Regional High School, who assumed the position in 2010, the salary would rise from the current $139,000 per year to a salary of about $146,000 in 2017.,

The contract also provides for some savings on health insurance costs for the administrators, with the employee share of total premium costs rising from the current 18.5 percent share to a 21 percent share paid by the employees in 2017. The employee share of a separate higher deductible plan would rise from the current 14.5 percent to a 17 percent employee share in 2017.

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Essex Resident Earns Honors at Sacred Heart Academy

Sacred Heart Academy Principal Sr. Maureen Flynn, ASCJ recently announced the Honor Roll for the FIRST marking period of the 2013 – 14 academic year.

The following student from ESSEX earned honors this quarter:  Sophie Park – HIGH HONORS

Honors are awarded at the end of each quarter to students attaining an average of 3.5 or better. Those students who achieve a Grade Point average of 3.8 or greater are awarded High Honors.

Sacred Heart Academy, an independent Catholic college preparatory school founded in 1946 by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, successfully prepares young women in grades 9 –12 for learning, service and achievement in a global society. The Academy has an enrollment of 500 students hailing from New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex and New London counties.

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Essex Selectmen Will Delay New Solid Waste Transfer Station Fees Until April

ESSEX— Planned new and higher disposal fees for the town’s solid waste transfer station drew no major objections from residents at a public hearing Wednesday, though First Selectman Norman Needleman announced that implementation of the new fees would be delayed until April 1 rather than a planned January start date.

About 20 residents turned out for the public hearing on a new fee schedule for the transfer station that was unanimously approved by the board of selectmen in August. The plan recommended by the town’s appointed sanitary waste commission would replace the current $3 per bag disposal fee for household trash with an annual resident user sticker that would cost $125, with a $75 annual fee for senior citizens. There would also be higher fees for disposal fees of tires, demolition materials, junk furniture and mattresses.

Needleman said the purpose of the plan is to remove cash transactions from the transfer site, and to recover some of the costs for disposal of the various bulky waste items. “We don’t want to make any money, but we would prefer not to lose money,” on the site, Needleman said, adding the current cash per-bag system “lends itself to potential problems and extra work.” He said there would be no charge for recyclables, including glass bottles, cans, and newspapers, or for residents depositing small loads of brush.

The new fees would apply to residents who carry trash and other items to the site off Route 154, not effecting the majority of households in Essex paying a private hauler for curbside trash pickup.

The new fee schedule brought no objections from residents during the 40-minute hearing, though one elderly woman said the $75 annual sticker fee for senior citizens would still be more than she is now paying for disposal by the bag.

Despite the lack of strong objections, Needleman said the board of selectmen would review the fee schedule a final time at a future meeting before holding a second vote for final approval. He said the new system would become effective on April 1, rather than the January start date envisioned by the board with the initial vote last August. Needleman said the additional time would be needed to set up a payment by check or credit card system to collect fees for disposal of items not covered by the annual sticker fee.

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New $28 Million Medical Center in Westbrook Is on Track to Open in April 2014

The new Westbrook medical center under construction

The new Westbrook medical center under construction

Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook is scheduled to open its doors to receive patients, as early as April 2014.

The Whiting-Turner Construction Company of New Haven is in charge of constructing the new Medical Center in Westbrook. The company estimates that the new facility will be finished by March 2014. Then, it will take much of April 2014 for Middlesex Hospital to furnish the new Center and to install medical equipment.

New Center Can Expand to 60,00 Square Feet

The new Medical Center in Westbrook will initially have 44,000 square feet of working space. However, the Center can be expanded to 60,000 square feet, if it becomes necessary. By contrast the Hospital’s present Medical Center in Essex is just over 20,000 square feet. On an historical note, the Essex facility has provided emergency medical care for shoreline residents for over forty years.

There is still work to do

There is still work to do

The new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center will be located on Flat Rock Place, which is just off Exit 65 of Interstate I-95. Flat Rock Place is a four-lane access highway, which has the auto dealerships of Honda and Toyota at the bottom end and the Tanger Outlets shopping mall at the top. The new Medical Center will be located half way up Flat Rock Place on the left hand side.

The present medical center in Essex

The present medical center in Essex

When complete, the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook will have, “a whole host of diagnostic and treatment services,” according to hospital sources.  In addition, “radiological services will expand to include a new MRI testing area, and a designated woman’s imaging area.” Also, the new Center in Westbrook will continue to provide 24/7 medical care, and it will have a helipad for emergency helicopter trips, as well as paramedic services.

Advantages of New Westbrook Location

In addition to a large roster of medical services at the new Westbrook facility, there are significant access advantages as well. The new Westbrook center will be conveniently located, just off I-95 at Exit 65.

Also, the new Westport location will permit patients from towns, such as Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Clinton and Guilford, to have direct I-95 Interstate access to the new facility. In addition, the residents of Deep River, Chester and Haddam, via Route 9, will have I-95 Interstate access to the new Center as well.

Although patients from Essex will no longer have their very own medical center right in town; still it will be only be a few extra miles down Route 153 for Essex residents to reach the new Westbrook Center.

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Chester Library Trustees Present New Expansion Plan

CHESTER— Trustees for the Chester Public Library Tuesday presented a new library expansion plan to the board of selectmen. The plan focuses on an underground expansion on the west side of the historic 1906 library building on West Main Street.

Library trustees, using a $20,000 state grant, hired an architectural firm to explore options for expanding the library. In the fall of 2012, the trustees presented a plan for a 2,000 square-foot expansion that would double the size of the library building at an estimated cost of $3.09 million with additions on both sides of the building.

Trustees chairwoman Terry Schreiber said the plan drew a mixed response from residents attending to public information sessions held last March. She said architects with the South Windsor firm Drummey-Rosane-Anderson Inc. were asked to develop an alternative plan.

The new plan calls for a slightly smaller expansion, with most of the new space extending west from the existing basement underground beneath an existing parking area. The plan has an estimated price tag of about $2.8 million.

The trustees told the selectmen the next step was conducting a series of test borings to a depth of 25-feet to confirm the feasibility of the underground, lower level expansion. The borings would cost about $6,000.

But First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the trustees should obtain more community input before the town expends funds for the test borings. Selectman Tom Englert said he was uncomfortable with the underground expansion. “Some people may not want to have most of the new space under a parking lot,” he said.

The trustees agreed to hold another public information session on the alternative plan in January. Meehan said the trustees could then approach the board of selectmen with a funding request for the borings and other preliminary costs for the project.

 

Related letter: Chester Library Expansion Clarification

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Essex Library Celebrates its Stellar Volunteers

Friends of the Essex Library President Wendy Madsen is presented with her Volunteer Of The Year Award by Library Director Richard Conroy, an honor she shared with Library Board Member Barbara Burgess, at the recent Volunteer Appreciation event held at the Essex Library.)  Photo by Fred Szufnarowski.

Friends of the Essex Library President Wendy Madsen is presented with her Volunteer Of The Year Award by Library Director Richard Conroy, an honor she shared with Library Board Member Barbara Burgess, at the recent Volunteer Appreciation event held at the Essex Library.) Photo by Fred Szufnarowski.

At the Essex Library Association’s recent Volunteer Appreciation party, Essex Library Director Richard Conroy presented Volunteer of The Year awards to two stellar volunteers, Friends of the Library President Wendy Madsen (pictured) and Library Board Member Barbara Burgess, whose efforts in fundraising and other areas of support exemplified the best qualities of effective volunteerism; energy, enthusiasm, and can-do attitudes. In his remarks at the presentation, Conroy talked about both of the winners’ tireless work on the “Our Library Rocks!” fundraiser, as well as Wendy Madsen’s efforts in getting the new storage shed put up behind the Library, from taking the project through the Town’s permit process to seeing it installed.  In his remarks, he noted, “Both of these women seemed to be everywhere, all the time, always cheerful and upbeat, and going above and beyond what our excellent volunteers ordinarily do.  Their love for the Library shines through all of their efforts, and the Essex Library Association could not function without the help of dedicated community members like these.”

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Essex Selectmen Public Hearing on New Solid Waster Transfer Station

ESSEX— The board of selectmen will hold a public hearing Wednesday on new fees for use of the town solid waste transfer station that are scheduled to become effective in January. The hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. at town hall.

The new and higher fees were unanimously approved by the board in August based on a study and recommendations from the town’s appointed sanitary waste commission. Along with recovering some of the annual expense for solid waste disposal from residents carrying their own trash to the transfer station, the new fee system is also intended to eliminate cash transactions from the transfer site.

Residents currently pay $3 per bag to being household trash to the site. This would be replaced by an annual fee of $125 for a transfer site sticker, with a reduced annual charge of $75 for senior citizens. There would also be higher disposal fees for disposal of tires, stuffed furniture, mattresses brush and demolition materials. There would be no charge for disposal of recyclables, including glass bottles, cans, cardboard, and newspapers.

The new annual sticker fee and higher disposal fees are scheduled to become effective in January, though the board could consider revising some of the fees based on input received at the public hearing.

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A Letter from Paris: Art Déco in the Air

Nicole Prevost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

“When Art Déco seduced the World” is one of the most popular exhibits of this season in Paris. It celebrates the artistic movement which bloomed in the 1920s and the 1930s. Monuments of that period can be seen around the world — from Moscow to Shanghai or Brussels and particularly in New York City.

What is Art Déco? In the lineage of late 19th century Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement, it is a celebration of “total art” forms with the use of multiple materials: glass, wood, ceramic, wrought iron, and the introduction of reinforced concrete. The style even included the production of furniture featuring textiles and fashion made famous by designer Paul Poiret.

The architecture and sculpture were characterized by geometric and stylized forms. Completed for the 1937 international exhibit, the Palais de Chaillot, also called Trocadéro is probably the most imposing monument of Paris and is built along classical, but very sober lines. It replaced the much-maligned neo-moorish former Trocadéro.

Art Déco was the artistic expression of modernism. It was emblematic of the relief felt after the end of World War I. Artists had a field day applying their creations to the most visible buildings of urban life like swimming pools or stadiums.

But what they enjoyed most were the department stores. Their elegant cupolas, grand staircases, decorated with colorful ceramic, their crystal chandeliers dazzled the new consumer class. In Paris, the department stores multiplied, including Le Bon Marché, La Samaritaine or Le Printemps. Les Galeries Lafayette even orchestrated the publicity stunt of a small plane landing on its roof.

Modern times meant an ever faster pace of life. Nothing was more dashing than a Bugatti sports car surrounded by elegant “flappers” ready to take the wheel. The new era also meant traveling the world. On May 29, 1929, the Normandie, the largest, most luxurious ocean liner ever built, made its maiden voyage from Le Havre to New York. The ship turned into a “floating embassy” — a showcase for the diffusion of French art around the world. Lalique, the master of glass carving, created the panels of the Normandie’s first class.

In New York, the 14 original Art Déco buildings of the Rockefeller Center still stand. One cannot miss the Alfred Janniot’s sculpture placed above the entrance of the Maison Française. The gilded bronze bas-relief represents the meeting of the American and the European continents.

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Valley/Old Lyme Complete Undefeated Season, Defeat H-K 48-0

The teams warm up before the start of tonight’s game. Photo by T. Devlin.

Photo by T. Devlin.

The Valley Regional/Old Lyme football team advanced to an 11-0 undefeated record and ended a spectacular season as the top seeds in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) Class M division with a 48-0 win over Haddam-Killingworth Tuesday.

The Pequot Football Conference South Division game at the H-K field saw Old Lyme senior Phil Cohen throw two touchdown passes for the Warriors.

View a video of the Warriors previous game against Gilbert-NorthWestern at this link.

Congratulations, Warriors!

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Letters: Stuff-a-Cruiser Fundraiser – Thank You Essex!

To the Editor:

Thank You ESSEX!

Members of the Essex Community Fund recently had an opportunity to work with Russ Gingras and Todd Belcort of the Essex Police Department at the Stuff-a-Cruiser event for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries.  Our job was small, yet with a large impact. We asked Colonial Market shoppers if they would help stuff the cruiser by purchasing a few extra items with their regular groceries.  Nearly ever person approached said they would, and most came out with bags of food and were happy to do so.  A few people offered money instead which we accepted and our members purchased food on their behalf.  Essex people have always been extremely generous, which makes our job easier.  When thanked, one food donor said, “you know, I get to eat every day, but that is not true for everyone.”   At 7:00 pm, we went to the Congregational Church in Old Saybrook to drop off, weigh, and help organize the food along with the food bank coordinator and other volunteers.  The total amount of food collected was over1800 lbs.   Although there may be other places (and warmer ones) we could have spent a few hours that evening, but no other place would have been as gratifying or rewarding. Thank you all.  The next Stuff a Cruiser event will be December 13th from 3:30 to 7:00 at the Colonial Market. We hope to see you then.

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors
Essex Community Fund

 

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Letters: TTYS Suicide Awareness Program

To the Editor:

“Be the 1 to start the conversation” is the tagline of three billboards scheduled by the Tri-Town Youth Services Suicide Prevention Workgroup for installation in the tri-town area during November and December. The billboards are intended to create awareness of local and statewide efforts to prevent suicide.

It’s a shocking thought that in 2011, 8.5 million people nationwide had seriously contemplated suicide and that in Connecticut someone dies by suicide on average every day of the year. A person considering suicide is in pain; they very often do not see any alternatives to suicide. They may engage in despondent and self-defeating thinking, increasing their sense of hopelessness. We, ordinary people, can learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of suicidal thinking and how to act—for example, when and how to use 2-1-1 for crisis intervention—to let a person in severe emotional pain know we care.

The conversation about suicide is also a conversation about mental health and well-beingThe statistics surrounding mental health disorders are formidable as well. Every year in the United States, 1 out of every 5 adults over the age of 18—or 45.6 million people—will experience a mental illness. Lifetime rates are even higher. Across a lifespan, 1 out of 2 people will suffer with a mental health problem at some point. So it is extremely likely we’ll encounter someone in our families, workplaces, schools, churches, or communities, who lives with a diagnosed mental disorder. Studies show the vast majority of people experiencing mental illness can be treated effectively and live full, satisfying lives, contributing positively in all the places they live, work and play. Yet nearly 60% of people with disorders do not seek mental health treatment. Of those who do seek treatment, even they typically delay doing so for a decade. Stigma can be a determining factor in preventing people from receiving the help they need.

Stigma isolates, shames, embarrasses and literally threatens the well being of an individual.  Think of the words we commonly hear when people talk about a person with mental illness; none of them are attractive. While we would be hard pressed to hear someone referred to as “a cancer,” or “a broken leg,” we often do hear people referred to as “manic depressives” or “schizophrenics.” This kind of labeling is disrespectful and creates a daunting barrier to recovery. Because mental health problems impact one’s ability to work, carry out daily activities and engage in satisfying relationships, the longer a person waits to receive help the more their illness will have disrupted their lives. While the above statistics address the adult population, consider this: half of all mental health problems arise before age 14, and 75% before age 25, a period of time we now know is critical for brain development. How can we begin to eliminate stigma and increase the likelihood that people suffering from mental health concerns or in crisis will get the help they so urgently need?

Eliminating misconceptions about mental illness, engaging the media in reducing erroneous stereotypes, and providing tools for community members to support their acting positively, confidently and compassionately when mental health concerns do arise can go a long way to eliminating stigma. For example, despite the prevalent misconception that people with mental illness are violent, there is generally very little risk of violence or harm to a stranger from casual contact with an individual with a mental health disorder. In fact, a person with a mental illness is much more likely to be a victim than a perpetrator of violence. The media offers hope for eradicating stigma because of its power to educate and influence public opinion. And in Deep River, a course is being offered by Tri-Town Youth Services on January 7th and 14th entitled Mental Health First Aid which teaches members of the public how to respond in a mental health emergency and offer assistance to someone who appears to be in emotional distress.

Not every person in psychological distress is at risk of suicide or has a mental disorder, but the strains, stresses, and challenges of today’s society increase our vulnerability. With a 50 – 50 chance of developing a mental health concern in a lifetime, committing to connection vs. isolation and support vs. shame—whether we find ourselves in a position to give or to receive—increases all of our chances for individual and community well-being.

 

Claire Walsh
14 Dickinson Court
Deep River, CT 06417

Claire M. Walsh has had extensive experience working with adults and adolescents as a Clinical Social Worker and Addictions Specialist. She is a member of the Tri-Town Youth Services Suicide Prevention Workgroup.

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Deep River Selectmen Disband Town Hall Auditorium Restoration Committee

DEEP RIVER— The board of selectmen Tuesday formally disbanded the Town Hall Auditorium Committee after receiving a final report on the now completed restoration of the historic auditorium at town hall.

The ten member committee was established in the fall of 2011, charged with completing a long-planned restoration of the second floor auditorium. The volunteer committee replaced the Deep River Town Hall Restoration Association, a private non-profit group that was first established in 1979 to direct restoration efforts for the 1892 town hall. The association had received over $260,000 in private donations over the years for town hall restoration, but had lagged in completing the final improvements to the auditorium, including fire and building code work that was required for full use of the auditorium balcony.

Committee chairman Arthur Thompson presented the report, declaring the work of the restoration committee is now finished. Thompson, while serving as a selectman from 2099 to 2011, had pushed for formation of an official town committee to focus on completing work on the town hall auditorium.

Thompson said the restoration work was completed earlier this year using the funds that had been donated to the previous restoration association. The committee held a community event in May to showcase the restoration, and the auditorium has been used for various programs and activities in subsequent months. Thompson said the auditorium now meets all applicable safety codes.

Thomson said the committee completed the restoration work using all but $2,863 of the available funding. The committee recommended the remaining funds be turned over to a newly former Town Hall Auditorium Management Committee that is now coordinating public use of the auditorium.

Region  4 School Board Resignation

In other business the selectman appointed Lauri Wichtowski to the Region 4 Board of Education to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of board member Duane Gates that was effective Tuesday. Wichtowski will serve through the 2015 municipal election, when the position will be on the ballot for the remaining two years of the unexpired term ending in 2017.

Gates, a Democrat, was first elected to the regional board in 2005, and was re-elected to a second six-year term in 2011 in a contest with Wichtowski, who was running on the Republican line. First Selectman Richard Smith said the Deep River Democratic Town committee had recently endorsed Wichtowski to fill the two-year vacancy. She had served previously on the local school board that governs the operation of Deep River Elementary School.

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Essex Zoning Commission Approves Rite Aid Expansion

ESSEX— The zoning commission Monday gave quick special permit approval for an expansion of the Rite Aid pharmacy in to adjoining vacant space in the Bokum Center shopping plaza at 125 Westbrook Road.

The approval came after a brief public hearing where no residents spoke either for or against the permit application from the Rhode Island-based pharmacy chain and Provident Bokum Holdings of Guilford, owner of the shopping plaza. The lack of public comment was in sharp contrast to the response to a 2009 application for a new 14,673 square-foot pharmacy with a drive through that would have been constructed on the opposite side of Westbrook Road (Route 153) at the site of the Oliver’s Tavern restaurant building.

In 2009, there was more than four hours of comment at two public hearings from residents from residents who objected to the claimed “big box” size of the pharmacy and the traffic impact of the larger separate store. In early 2010, the commission denied the permit application, citing concerns for pedestrian and vehicle safety at the busy three-way intersection of Westbrook, Plains, and Bokum roads. The permit denial was upheld after a court appeal.

The new plan would expand the existing 7,649 square-foot pharmacy in to 1,824 square-feet of abutting space that was previously occupied by a martial arts center. The plan for a total 9,427 square-foot Rite Aid would not change the existing entrance, but would upgrade the existing sales area while adding a new waiting consultation area, handicapped accessible restrooms, and an employee lounge.

The only issue for discussion at the public hearing and following commission discussion was parking. The shopping plaza that was built in the 1980s currently has 118 parking spaces. The panel determined that only 10 additional spaces would be needed for the pharmacy expansion, with the spaces to be provided by striping a reserve parking area on the south side of the block of storefronts. Striping of the back parking area was the only major condition imposed with the unanimous permit approval.

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Letter From Paris: Immigration Woes, Thanksgiving in France

Nicole Prévost Logan in Paris.

Nicole Prévost Logan in Paris.

The pressure of immigration into Europe is growing. Thousands of immigrants are seeking refugee status for economic or political reasons. The television showed an incredible scene of young men climbing over barbed wire like swarms of insects, falling down, being shot, to be followed by hundreds more. It was not a scene from the July 2013 Brad Pitt’s science fiction film “World War Z,” but of the electrified fence erected by the Spanish government to protect its borders from African migrants. Other walls exist around Europe. The next one will run along the Bulgarian-Turkish border.

The tragic drowning of 300 people near the Italian island of Lampedusa in October shocked the European opinion. The problem of immigration, if studied case by case, and not in terms of statistics, triggers strong emotions.

It was also the theme of “Welcome,” a 2009 French movie . A well-educated and determined 17-year-old boy from Kurdistan wants to join his girlfriend in England. For weeks he is stranded in an inhospitable refugee camp near Calais, in the north of France. During his first attempt at crossing the Channel hidden under a truck, he is caught by the police, almost asphyxiated by CO2 fumes, his head inside a plastic bag. His next plan is to swim across the English Channel. With the help of a compassionate coach, he learns how to do the crawl. At his first attempt, he is pulled out of the water by fishermen and brought back to France. He tries again, but, just in sight of the British coast, a police boat spots him. He drowns, while trying to escape.

Western Europe represents an Eldorado for all these asylum seekers. By granting various allowances to the new migrants, France has become particularly attractive . But its social structure is becoming unable to absorb the ever growing numbers. This year there were 70,000 requests for asylum as compared to 60,000 in 2012.

In October, the Affaire Leonarda (the case of Leonarda) illustrated the problems with the immigration policy in France and caused a political crisis. Leonarda is a 15-year- old daughter of a Kosovo national (Kosovo is located in the Balkan Peninsula of Southeastern Europe and recognized as a sovereign state by 106 member states of the United nations, though its status is still disputed.) After living in Italy for 17 years, with his Italian wife and seven other children, the man decided to move to France in 2009.

Since then he has made four attempts to obtain refugee status, all of which were rejected. The work load of the French judicial courts make the process so slow that the family had plenty of time to settle in France and put the children in school. Time was on the side of Leonarda’s family given the rules on naturalizations: children born in France of foreign parents become French automatically at age 18 after spending five years in France.

In mid October, as Leonarda was getting off the school bus, the police arrested her and sent her back to Kossovo with the rest of the family. The public opinion reacted in a fury, blaming the Socialist government of breaking the sacred rule of non-violation of the schools.

To the surprise of many, President Francois Hollande was the one to address the nation on TV. He started by saying that the police had broken no law in arresting Leonarda, nor used any violence. Then, during the last two minutes of his speech, in an unexpected switch, he concluded that, because of humanitarian considerations, he would let Leonarda return to France, but alone – an impossible situation for a 15-year old. His position satisfied almost no one.

A brief word on a more cheery subject — American expatriates in France are very attached to Thanksgiving and celebrate it between friends and relatives, usually on the weekend

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Chester Selectmen to Discuss Proposed Aaron Manor Town Plan Revisions

CHESTER— After a Nov. 20 town meeting that resulted in no votes, the board of selectmen will discuss the revisions to the town plan of conservation and development requested by the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at its next meeting on Dec. 3.

The requested revisions to the 2009 plan, which would give the nursing facility the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system, were the subject of a town meeting last week. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the resolution for the town meeting did not call for a vote, and there were no attempts by residents at the meeting to move the issue to a vote. Meehan said about 25 residents turned out to spend about an hour discussing the requested revisions, with some residents contending the revisions would open the door to unwanted development along Route 148 while others said the town should give the tax-paying facility the option of connecting to the system if necessary.

Aaron Manor, located off Route 148 at the Route 9 Exit 6 interchange, has been under order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to upgrade and replace the septic system serving the facility. Aaron Manor requested the revisions to the town plan after the inland-wetlands commission earlier this year asked facility representatives to explore the option of connecting to the sewer system that serves the downtown village before pursuing a permit application for a new and more elaborate on site system. Both options, a new on-site system or connecting to the municipal system, are costly and no decisions have been made on which option Aaron Manor should pursue.

The planning and zoning commission, which must approve any revisions to the town plan, opened a public hearing on the issue in September, but later accepted Meehan’s contention that a town meeting discussion should precede any formal public hearing before the commission. The panel agreed to open a new formal public hearing on Dec. 12, after the town meeting.

Meehan, a former longtime town planner for Newington, said last week he would offer his own suggestions on the proposed revisions when the board of selectmen discuss the issue on Dec. 3. Meehan said he would urge the planning and zoning commission to “keep our options open,” by approving the revisions.

Meehan noted the municipal system, which was expanded in 2008 and sends wastewater to the treatment plant on Winter Avenue in Deep River, has the capacity to accommodate some further expansion. He noted that if Aaron Manor were to pursue a connection along Route 148 at no cost to the town, the planning and zoning commission would always have the authority to limit development and density for properties along the expanded sewer line.

Any recommendations developed by the full board of selectmen at the Dec. 3 meeting would be presented to the planning and zoning commission at the Dec. 12 public hearing, along with a record of the Nov. 20 town meeting discussion.

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Rep. Phil Miller Earns 2013 CTLCV Legislative Champions Award

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

CT’s leading environmental watchdog organization releases 2013 Environmental Scorecard – awards State Representative Philip Miller (D – Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam) with the 2013 CTLCV Champions Award for his work on environmental issues in Connecticut.

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters released their 2013 Environmental Scorecard for the Connecticut State Legislature. The 14th annual release of such scores was bolstered by the 20 or so environmental bills that passed through the Connecticut General Assembly this year, providing an expanded base for scoring.

According to the League, “by sharing how each member of the Legislature voted on 20 of the most critical conservation bills this year, CTLCV helps Connecticut voters better understand where their legislators stand when it comes to protecting the environment. The sheer number of bills that were voted on this year reflects how deeply environmental issues are ingrained in every aspect of Connecticut’s well-being, from public health and safety to the economy and growing jobs.”

“I’m honored to be so recognized,” stated Rep. Miller. “We have a great natural bounty in our Connecticut, air and water quality worth advocating for. We are improving our oversight to help assure a better future for all of us.”

“Rep. Phil Miller did painstaking, behind the scenes work to put to final rest one of the most environmentally controversial issues in recent years, the Haddam land swap,” says Susan Merrow, CTLCV Board of Directors. “He did it without fanfare… just with a principled devotion to what was right. Anyone who cares about public opens space should be very grateful.”

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters works to pass pro-environment laws, elect pro-environment candidates, and hold all of our elected officials accountable. CTLCV Scorecards dating back to 2000 can be found online at www.ctlcv.org/scorecard.

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Deep River P & Z Opens Public Hearing on Proposed Dunkin Donuts Relocation

DEEP RIVER— The planning and zoning commission Thursday opened the public hearing on the proposed relocation of Dunkin Donuts to a vacant building at 246 Main St., with the location of the trash dumpster for the store emerging as a major issue during the hearing.

About 30 residents turned out for the public hearing on a special permit application to relocate Dunkin Donuts from 190 Main St., where it has operated since 2009, to a vacant commercial building at 246 Main Street. The applicant. Great American Donut Co. of Plainville, is expected to purchase the property if the relocation wins zoning approval. The building, formerly a garage and later an Irish gifts shop, has been mostly vacant for several years on a triangular-shaped parcel that has frontage on both Main Street and Union Street..

Stuart Fairbank, engineer for the project with the Old Saybrook firm Mcdonald/Sharpe Associates, said the relocation would bring “a facelift,” to the vacant building and surrounding 19,400 square-foot parcel. Fairbank said Dunkin Donuts would occupy 1.600 square-feet on the east, or Main Street side, of the total 3,240 square-foot building, with the western half of the building reserved for an unspecified retail use. While nearly all of the parcel is currently paved, Fairbanks said about 3,000 square-feet of paving would be removed and replaced by grass and landscaped plantings, with only one existing tree to be removed as part of the site improvements.

While some residents speaking during the public hearing expressed general opposition to having a Dunkin Donuts on the site, most speakers focused on specific elements for of the site plan for a parcel that many described as the southern “gateway” to the downtown area. Much of the discussion focused on the location for the trash dumpster for the franchise.

After preliminary discussions with the commission and the town advisory design review board, the current plan calls for locating the dumpster behind fencing at the southern end of the parcel, which is also the apex for the two streets. John Cunningham, a Madison landscape architect retained by the applicants, said plantings with “seasonal color” would “soften,” but not completely obscure the fenced area with the dumpster.

Most speakers, including design review board members Peter Howard and Alan Paradis, objected to locating the dumpster at the front of the property. But Jonathan Rapp, who owns the abutting property on the north side of the parcel, said he would object to locating the dumpster behind the existing building and closer to his residential property. There were also questions about exactly what type of business would locate in the open space on the Union Street side of the building.

Fairbank said the applicants are open to guidance from the commission on where to locate the trash dumpster. The commission closed the public hearing and is expected to discuss the application at its Dec. 19 meeting.

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CBSRZ Members Take Action on Local Wendy’s

CBSRZ members taking action for Fair Food at Guilford Wendy's

CBSRZ members taking action for Fair Food at Guilford Wendy’s

On Sunday, November 10, Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) members and their children took action at Wendy’s, located in Guilford, to call on the restaurant chain to support human rights in its tomato supply chain by joining the internationally-recognized Fair Food Program (FFP). The FFP is a groundbreaking social responsibility program that ensures a humane workplace and increased pay for over 30,000 Florida farmworkers and has won the praise of human rights observers from the White House to the United Nations. ­­Coinciding with Wendy’s Founder’s Week – a week-long celebration of Wendy’s Founder Dave Thomas’s core values – the action is part of a series of protests in dozens of cities nationwide this week.

Rabbi Goldenberg, Ziv Goldenberg, Jeannette Ickovics and Melinda Alcosser deliver letters to manager of Wendy's in Guilford

Rabbi Goldenberg, Ziv Goldenberg, Jeannette Ickovics and Melinda Alcosser deliver letters to manager of Wendy’s in Guilford

On Saturday, CBSRZ Religious School parents and their children learned about the problem of abuse and even modern-day slavery conditions in the tomato industry. Then, on Sunday afternoon, eighteen CBSRZ members delivered dozens of letters to the manager of the Wendy’s in Guilford, urging Wendy’s to sign on to the Fair Food Program.

Of the five largest fast food corporations in the country — McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, Taco Bell (Yum! Brands) and Wendy’s — Wendy’s is the only one not participating in the Fair Food Program. Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick was the President of Taco Bell in 2005 when that chain became the first to sign a Fair Food Agreement. He announced that agreement by stating, “We are willing to play a leadership role within our industry to be part of the solution,” and added, “We hope others in the restaurant industry and supermarket retail trade will follow our leadership.”  Eight years later, despite those words, and now with 11 corporations and 90% of the Florida tomato industry on board, Wendy’s under Brolick’s leadership refuses to participate in the Program.

“As Wendy’s celebrates Founder’s Week and champions such values as ‘Treat People with Respect,’ ‘Give Something Back,’ and ‘Do The Right Thing,’” stated Gerardo Reyes of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, “We are calling on Wendy’s to use this week as an opportunity to turn the values it claims to support into a reality by ensuing that as farmworkers our basic human rights and dignity are respected.”

Guilford resident Holly Starkman, a participant in Sunday’s action, explained her participation saying, “I am united with my fellow congregants today to support human rights for farmworkers who are not currently receiving fair treatment.  The Fair Food Program enforces fair treatment through adequate wages and working – it’s the right thing to do.”

Rabbi Goldenberg commented on Wendy’s recent response to consumer demands that the company join the Fair Food Program saying, “Claiming your company is already working to respect farmworkers’ rights, while refusing to commit to the only proven, verifiable, and transparent solution, the Fair Food Program, misleads your customers and tarnishes Wendy’s brand. As 21st century consumers, we want to know the story behind our food and this means we expect and demand that the farmworkers who pick your tomatoes be treated with dignity and respect.”

Explaining the participation of a synagogue in this action, Rabbi Goldenberg continued, “As Jews we learn from our sacred teachings that all human beings are created in the Divine image and must be treated with dignity –  from the citizen, to the immigrant, to the destitute laborer. This is a moral issue, and we must not be silent.”

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program is an historic partnership among farmworkers, Florida tomato growers, and eleven leading food corporations. By committing to the FFP, participating corporations demand more humane labor standards from their Florida tomato suppliers and purchase exclusively from those who meet those higher standards, among them required time clocks, health and safety protections, and a zero tolerance policy for slavery and sexual assault. Participating corporations also pay a “penny-per-pound” premium which is passed down through the company’s supply chain and paid out to workers by their employers. The FFP was heralded in the Washington Post as “one of the great human rights success stories of our day” and in a White House report concerning global efforts to combat human trafficking as “one of the most successful and innovative programs” to that end.  Since 2011, buyers have paid over $11 million through the Fair Food Program.

 

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Fundraising Events Committee Needed for LVVS

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) is looking for friendly, outgoing people to populate our fundraising committee. If you are a creative thinker and can commit to a minimum 1 yr service, we need you to develop and facilitate a schedule of events. LVVS serves 11 CT Valley Shore towns through one-on-one tutoring programs of English as a Second Language (ESL) and Basic Reading (BR).  Fundraisers benefit these much needed programs.  Contact us at vsliteracy.org or 860-399-0280.

 

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Essex Town Meeting Approves $200,000 Purchase of Perry Property on 34-30 Vote

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Wednesday approved a $200,000 purchase of the .65-acre back section of the Perry property at 27 West Avenue on a 34-30 show of hands vote. The small parcel abuts the town hall property and Grove Street Park.

It was the location of the parcel that led First Selectman Norman Needleman to support the land purchase. The parcel, which includes a historic house on the front section, was owned by Eileen Perry, a longtime resident who died in June. The entire parcel was assessed at $623,000 on the current grand list. Needleman negotiated the purchase price with members of the Perry family, insisting that the town receive full ownership of the back section, with the house to be sold separately.

Needleman said the purchase was “a one of a kind opportunity,” to acquire some of the last remaining open land abutting the town hall property. “It’s an opportunity for the future,” he said, adding the town has no immediate plans for use of the property. But Needleman suggested the parcel could eventually become the site of a town hall annex building at some undetermined date in the future.

Needleman said $200,000 was “a fair price,” for the .65 acre, noting that a permanent easement on the parcel had been valued at that amount by an appraiser hired by the Perry family. He said town acquisition of the parcel would result in a loss of only $470 in annual tax revenue at the current tax rate.

The purchase was also endorsed by newly seated Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac, who agreed the key location made the land an asset for the future. Along with abutting the town hall site, the parcel also abuts to the east the Pratt House property that is owned by the Essex Historical Society. “This land would enhance the town property even if it remained as open space,” Glowac said.

The land purchase was endorsed by the board of finance at an Oct. 17 meeting, though the finance board made no immediate determination on how to pay the $200,000 purchase price. Needleman said the $200,000 could be taken from the town’s undesignated fund balance, which now totals over $2 million, or be included as part of a bond issue for capital projects that is planned in 2014.

The prospect of a bond authorization request for numerous town projects next year led some residents to question the need for spending money for a property purchase now, while others contended the town should not buy land without an immediate plan to utilize it. But others maintained it made sense to acquire the land now as a future asset for the town.

After about 70 minutes of discussion at a public hearing that preceded the town meeting, the expenditure and land purchase was approved on a 34-30 vote. Voters at the town meeting rejected a motion to hold a paper ballot vote, with the vote done by a show of hands.

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Chester Rotary Gives Dictionaries to All Students

ROTARY DICTIONARIES (1)

Students in grade 3 at Chester Elementary School received their very own Webster Dictionary on October 16th. One of the Rotary Club’s goals is to promote literacy, and each year they fulfill that goal by donating a dictionary to each third grader at CES.

Rotary Club members met with the students during an assembly which concluded with a Vocabulary Quiz Show game. The assembly was held on October 16th, which is Noah Webster’s birthday.

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Deep River Resident/Author Supports Local American Legion

Todd CurryTodd Curry has been a resident of Deep River for over twenty years and is a veteran of the US Army and a retired Madison Police Officer with 22 years of service. He recently wrote and published a book of short horror/thriller stories (“Revolting Tales“) which is widely available and a book signing tour is planned.

Concerned that the local American Legion branch had insufficient funds to purchase American flags to place at the grave sites of  fallen soldiers, Curry and his co-author decided to donate a portion of their profits to the Chester American Legion Local 97 in order to assist them with the purchase of flags.  The American Legion place flags by the graves of fallen soldiers twice a year, on Flag Day and Veterans Day.

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Nature Conservancy Plans Deer Hunts at Selden Creek, Burnham Brook Preserves

The Nature Conservancy is coordinating deer hunts at its Selden Creek Preserve in Lyme and Burnham Brook Preserve in East Haddam during the firearms deer hunting season. The goal of the hunts is to reduce the negative impacts of forest overbrowse in these important habitats.

Hunting will begin Wednesday, Nov. 20 and last through Tuesday, Dec. 31; Burnham Brook Preserve will be closed to public access during that period.

The hunt at Selden Creek Preserve in Lyme will take place during the same timeframe; however, the preserve will not be closed because the hunting area is safely separated from the part of the preserve with public trails.

Safety for the hunters and neighbors of the preserves is a top priority for the Conservancy. Signs will be posted at Burnham Brook Preserve informing visitors the preserve is closed during the hunting season, and neighbors have been notified that hunting will take place. At both preserves, the hunters involved have been hunting together for many years and have hunted on the land before.

The Nature Conservancy maintains that managed hunting is an effective tool that can reduce deer populations and curb the damage they cause, allowing native natural communities, plants and trees to recover their full vigor and diversity. After several years of hunting, encouraging signs are appearing.

At Burnham Brook, overbrowsing impacts forest regeneration, wildflowers and the shrub layer. This not only affects the health of the forest but also the animals that depend on it. Birds that nest and feed on or near the ground have lost the groundcover necessary for protection from predators as well as sources of food.

The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide.

Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org/connecticut

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Letter From Paris: Taxing Times in France

Paris_v2

In spite of lively street scenes in Paris, crowds strolling in the Tuileries gardens, restaurant terraces full of people enjoying a copious lunch and long lines at museums and movie theaters, the ongoing austerity measures imposed by the Socialist government contribute to a morose mood in France .

In the past two years, new taxes have multiplied. More people have to file income taxes, some retirees are struggling to survive on their pensions, the Taxe sur la Valeur Ajoutée (TVA – the equivalent of sales tax in the US) on restaurants — after being lowered — is going up again to reach 10% next January. Corporate taxes have also increased.

The population was encouraged to invest its savings into special accounts. Promises of a guaranteed interest of 3 percent on these savings accounts have gradually vanished. It is today below 1 percent.

The northwest region of Brittany is in in uproar following a new “eco-tax” imposed on truckers, fishermen and farmers.

A tax of 75 percent on annual incomes higher than one million will hit particularly the stars soccer players, who threatened to go on strike for one week-end in November. When one knows how fanatic the public here is about its soccer matches, one might expect violent scenes.

The TV series called “A Village Français,” now in its third season, continues to enjoy top ratings. It shows how the average French people behaved during the German occupation. It depicts the whole spectrum of the population, ranging from despicable collaborators to courageous “resistants” with — in between — the vast majority just trying to survive and protect their families. The show is done with honesty, avoiding black and white judgments. By 1943 the French became more daring , as their spirits were lifted by the London broadcasts.

This is a great idea: for a small fee, courses in the English language are offered to the passengers riding the Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV – high speed train) from Rheims to Paris – a facility to be extended to other railroad lines.

About the Author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She will write a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also will cover a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Essex Annual Town Meeting Monday to Consider 22 Board and Commission Appointments

ESSEX— Voters at the annual town meeting Monday will be asked to confirm 22 appointments to town boards and commissions, and accept the annual town report for the 20-12-2013 fiscal year. The meeting convenes at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.

Nearly all of the appointments are reappointments. of current board and commission members. Most of the appointments are for two or three year terms, with all of the appointments approved by the board of selectmen at a Nov. 6 meeting.

The appointments include Jim Hill for the zoning commission, with Jeffrey Lovelace as zoning commission alternate and Michael Neto for zoning board of appeals. Appointments for the inland-wetlands commission are Daniel Lapman, Charles Corson and Stephen Knauth. Appointments for the planning commission are Alan Kerr, with a new appointment of John Ackerman as planning commission alternate.

Appointments for the economic development commission are Lon Seidman, David Sousa, and Elizabeth D’Amico. Appointments for the harbor management commission are Jeff Going and Joseph Zaraschi. Appointments for the park and recreation commission are James Rawn and Thomas Clerkin, with Edward Burleson as commission alternate. Appointments to the combined sanitary waste commission/water pollution control authority are Susan Malan, Randel Osborne, Leigh Rankin, Mark Reeves, and Robert Van Houten, with Alvin Wolfgram as an alternate member for the two commissions.

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Chester Sets Nov. 20 Town Meeting on Aaron Manor Town Plan Revision

CHESTER— Voters will be asked at a town meeting Wednesday to offer input on proposed revisions to the town plan of conservation and development that would give the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system that serves the downtown village area. The meeting convenes at 7:30 p.m. in the meeting room at town hall.

The town meeting was scheduled after lawyers for the town and the planning and zoning commission concurred with First Selectman Edmund Meehan’s contention that a town meeting was required as the commission considers the Aaron Manor request for revisions to the town plan. The commission opened a public hearing on the request in September, but last month agreed to convene a new public hearing on Dec. 12 to consider any input provided by a town meeting.

The nursing facility off Route 148 has been under a state Department of Environmental Protection order to upgrade the septic system that serves the facility. The town’s inland-wetlands commission early this year asked representatives of Aaron Manor to explore the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system before pursuing a wetlands permit application for a new and larger on site wastewater treatment system. Both a new on-site system and a connection to the municipal system would be very costly, and no decisions have been made on how the nursing facility should proceed. A revision to the 2009 town plan would give Aaron Manor the option of pursuing a connection to the town sewer system.

The call of the town meeting asks residents to “review and make comments to the Chester Planning and Zoning Commission” on the proposed town plan revisions requested by Aaron Manor. The resolution does not call for a vote, with the voters present at the town meeting having the option to decide whether to vote on a motion supporting or opposing the requested revisions. If a town meeting vote is held opposing the revisions, it would require a two-thirds vote of the nine member commission to approve any revisions.

Voters at the town meeting will also be asked to amend the 1997 ordinance establishing an economic development commission to reduce membership of the panel from seven to five members. The appointed commission has been having some difficulty in recent months mustering the required four member quorum for meetings.

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Essex Selectmen Plan Quick Action for the Walnut Street Bridge

ESSEX— The board of selectmen decided last week to work for an expedited replacement of the Walnut Street bridge in the Ivoryton section, with the bridge replacement to proceed separately from a planned 2014 bond issue that would fund several major town capital improvement projects.

The board agreed to work for separate and quicker action on the bridge replacement after First Selectman Norman Needleman reported that a recent inspection by state Department of Transportation engineers had detected new and more serious problems with the bridge. The inspection has led to imposition of a 10–ton weight limit for the bridge that will require detours for some heavier vehicles. “That bridge needs to be done now,” Needleman said.

The bridge was constructed in 1983 with Federal Emergency Management Agency funding after the June 1982 Ivoryton Flood destroyed the previous bridge that carried Walnut Street over the Falls River. It was intended to be a temporary bridge, with a life-span of five to ten years, but has now been in use for 30 years. The project is expected to be eligible for up to 80 percent state/federal funding cost reimbursement under the Local Bridge Program.

Selectmen had originally planned to include the Walnut Street bridge on the list of capital projects, including replacement of sections of the Essex Elementary School roof, that would be presented as part of a proposed bonding authorization for capital projects. But the proposed bond authorization is not expected to go to the voters for approval until early summer of 2014, with the board deciding to pursue the Walnut Street bridge project under a separate, and hopefully faster, timetable.

In other business, the selectmen agreed to return to it’s previous meeting schedule for 2014, with meetings to be held twice each month on the first Wednesday at 5 p.m., and the third Wednesday at 7 p.m. The board had experimented with a one meeting per month schedule beginning over the summer, but later decided that two meetings per month are needed.

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