May 26, 2017

Archives for September 2013

Essex Resident Served on Shore Crew of U.S. Winner of Recent America Cup Race

Essex resident Jason Sanstrom holding the American's Cup after the race

Essex resident Jason Sanstrom holding the American’s Cup after the race

Jason Sanstrom, an Essex resident, played an important role in the recent winning of the America Cup by Oracle Team USA. Jason is the son of Sandy Sanstrom, a Member of the Board of Governors of the Pettipaug Yacht Club in Essex.

The younger Sandstrom, 27, is a specialist in the carbon fiber construction of racing sailboats. Because it is lighter and stronger, carbon fiber construction has become the favorite over fiber glass, in the construction racing, sailboat hulls.

The younger Stanstrom worked not only on this year’s American entry in the 34th America Cup Race, he also worked on the American entry in the 33rd America Cup Race. In this year’s final race the America team, Oracle Team USA, beat out the Emirates Team New Zealand by a mere 44 seconds.

To capture the America’s Cup the U.S. team, funded by Larry Ellison, had first to win seven consecutive races in order to catch up with the New Zealand team. In the final race, initially, the New Zealand boat had a 40 meter lead; however, eventually the wind and the tide favored the Americans in going upwind, which enabled them to win.

The entire cup race lasts barely twenty minutes; the boats are so fast in going around the course.

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Town Meeting Approval Required for New Essex Projects Building Committee

ESSEX— Approval from a town meeting is required for the new 2013-2014 town projects building committee established by the board of selectmen last week. The town meeting is scheduled for Monday at 5 p.m. in town hall.

The building committee will be charged with developing an implementing several town infrastructure projects that are expected to be funded by a bonding authorization that would go to town voters for approval early next year. A Sept. 18 town meeting approved spending $35,000 in surplus funds for hire an engineering consulting firm that would prepare detailed cost estimates for priority projects, including replacement of sections of the Essex Elementary School roof and replacement of the Ivory Street and and Walnut Street bridges in the Ivoryton section.

The cost estimates would be used to establish an amount for the bonding resolution, which would be presented to voters at one or more public hearings before any vote.

Voters Monday will be asked to approve two resolutions, one for the establishment of the “2013-2014 Building committee,”, and a second to approve the appointment of three members recommended by First Selectman Norman Needleman last week.

The proposed members are Bruce Glowac, town finance director Kelly Sterner, and Leigh Ann Rankin, a former U.S. Coast Guard Officer who is an uncontested candidate for Region 4 Board of Education in the Nov. 5 election. Glowac, who served as first selectman from 1991-1995, currently serves as the director of facilities for Region 4 schools.

Glowac is also the Republican nominee for an open seat on the board of selectmen in the Nov. 5 vote where Democratic First Selectman Needleman, Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby, and Glowac are uncontested for election to the board. Glowac’s term on the board of selectmen would begin in mid-November. The selectmen agreed last week to establish a five member building committee, with volunteers still being sought for the other two spots on the panel.

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Essex Zoning Commission Approves Special Permit for Centerbrook Pharmacy

ESSEX— The zoning commission Monday unanimously approved a special permit for a new pharmacy in vacant former restaurant space in the commercial building at 31-33 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. The panel acted after a public hearing where the plan from Quality Care Drug/Centerbrook LLC drew no objections and expressions of support from two residents.

The partnership led by Pharmacist Greg McKenna operates five small pharmacies in Connecticut, including pharmacies in Haddam and Portland. The space in the 31-33 Main St. building had been previously occupied by restaurants, but has been vacant for about three years. The 31-33 Main St. building had previously housed Doane’s Pharmacy, a locally owned independent pharmacy that operated for decades before closing about seven years ago.

Before winning quick approval from the zoning commission at the special meeting Monday, the application last week had secured approval of a variance from the zoning board of appeals. The variance allows 35 parking spaces for the building where 44 spaces would be required under zoning regulations.

John Weinstein, a partner with building owner JMB Properties of Cheshire, told the commission Monday the new pharmacy would be an asset to the town, and would require less parking than any possible restaurant use. The pharmacy is expected to open before the end of the year.

The commission Monday also approved a special permit allowing the Essex Volunteer Fire Department to open a fire training facility on a section of Greider Field, a property owned by the fire department on the east side of Plains Road that also contains a recreational ball field. The fire department plan drew no objections at a Sept. 16 public hearing.

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Talk at Essex Meadows on America’s Delayed Entry into World War II

IMG_7401Author Lynne Olson, whose recent book, THOSE ANGRY DAYS, Roosevelt, Lindbergh and American’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941, spells out in unsparing detail the inexcusable long time that it took America to join the fight against imperial Japan, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in World War II.

Olson will speak on this theme at an open public meeting at Essex Meadows on Sunday, September 29 at 3:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Churchill Society, and a voluntary contribution of ten dollars is requested from those attending. Refreshments will be provided by Essex Meadows after author Olson’s talk.

Roosevelt Goes Slow in Going to War

As Olson notes in her book, although Great Britain’s war time leader, Winston Churchill, was literally begging Roosevelt to have America enter the war against Nazi Germany as soon as possible, the President’s  response was to parcel out support for Britain, one slow step at a time. The President’s excuse was that he did not want to get ahead of American public opinion, which he felt at the time did not want to go to war.

In her book Olson also writes how Roosevelt, ever so slowly, doled out aid to Great Britain. America’s first concrete gift was to give the British, 50 American World War I-vintage destroyers.  However, in return for these creaky, old ships, the President required Britain to hand over to the U.S. a number of British bases in the West Indies.

Author Lynne Olson

Author Lynne Olson

Next, there was the American Lend Lease program, in which Roosevelt adopted the fiction that the U.S. was not giving aid to Great Britain but rather simply lending it. Finally, there was the issue of America destroyers protecting convoys of British ships, which were crossing the Atlantic Ocean with much needed aid for Britain.

However, even when an American destroyer was sunk by a German U-boat, as Olson reports, killing 115 Americans crew members, Roosevelt did not protest such a war-provoking attack. In fact, not until Japan’s surprise attack against Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when eight American battleships were sunk, did Roosevelt call upon the Congress to declare war against Japan.

However, the President at the time did not ask the Congress to declare war against Germany or Italy, the two other Axis powers. This meant that for a short period there was speculation that America would only be at war with Japan. However, then on December 11, 1941 Germany and Italy declared war or the U.S., and finally Roosevelt asked the Congress to declare war on them as well.   

Charles Lindbergh, America’s Voice for Peace

As Olson spells out in her book, it is difficult to imagine now, just how popular Charles Lindbergh was after he made the world’s first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.  He was, literally, idolized both in Europe and America. Making him an even more evocative figure was the tragic kidnapping and murder of his young son, Charles, Jr.

After his son’s death, Lindbergh and his wife, Anne, moved to England and France for a number of years. While in Europe Lindbergh became deeply impressed by the Nazi regime of Adolph Hitler.  In fact, in 1938 Lindbergh had become such an unabashed Nazi sympathizer that he accepted the “Service Cross of the German Eagle” from the Hitler regime. The medal was personally presented to Lindbergh by Nazi Luftwaffe chief Herman Goering.

After Lindbergh returned to the United States, he became a much sought after speaker by America peace groups, such as America First. These groups were dead set against America becoming involved in another European war like that of World War I. Even after the fall of France to the Germans, and the relentless bombing of London and other British cities by the Luftwaffe, Lindbergh and his pro-peace allies counseled that the America should not take sides in the European conflict.

However, as Olson notes, Lindbergh finally took a step too far. In a speech in September 1941 in Des Moines, Iowa, he said that American Jews pose a particular “danger to this country,” because of “their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.” This was even too much for the isolationist Chicago Tribune, who in the past had praised Lindbergh for his anti-war activities, and who now repudiated his remarks.

However, for all of Lindbergh’s pro-peace activities, after the U.S. went to war against Japan, Germany and Italy, he totally committed himself to the American cause.  He even flew combat missions as a pilot in the Pacific against the Japanese, and worked on making more effective U.S. war planes, as is duly noted by Olson.

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Essex Selectmen Appointing Building Committee for Planned Bonding Projects

ESSEX— The board of selectmen is appointing a five-member building committee for planned infrastructure projects that are expected to go to town voters for a bonding authorization by early next year. The selectmen are considering bonding for several capital projects, particularly replacement of sections of the Essex Elementary School roof and two bridge replacement projects in the Ivoryton section.

First Selectman Norman Needleman initially suggested a three-member building committee during discussion at the board’s meeting last week, but agreed to a suggestion from Selectman Joel Marzi for a five member committee.

The initial members recommended by Needleman are Kelly Sterner, the town’s finance director, Leigh Ann Rankin, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer who is an uncontested nominee for Region 4 Board of Education in the Nov. 5 election, and Bruce Glowac.  A former first selectman from 1991 to 1995, Glowac currently works as director of facilities for the Region 4 schools. But Glowac is also expected to return to the board of selectmen in November as the uncontested Republican nominee for the seat now held by Marzi, who is an uncontested candidate for town clerk in the Nov. 5 vote. The selectmen are seeking interested volunteers for the two other spots on the building committee that is expected to hold its first meeting later this fall.

In other business at last week’s meeting, Needleman announced one appointment and two departures. Doug Haynes of Ivoryton has been appointed as the town’s first veterans services contact person, a new position that is required under a state law that became effective in July. Haynes, a U.S. Navy veteran, will serve on a volunteer basis, helping Essex residents access available services.

Needleman announced that Stuart Ingersoll is retiring from the zoning board of appeals. Ingersoll has served on the ZBA since the mid-1960s, soon after zoning regulations became effective in Essex. He has served as board chairman for many years.

Needleman also announced that Keith Nolin is retiring from the building inspector position he has held since 2004. The town is accepting applications for a new building inspector. Nolin will continue in the part-time fire marshal position.

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Deep River Residents Enjoy Homesteading Life in Maine

Richard and Maria on top of their new world, happy in their fields of wild blueberries.  Visible  below are their home and barn, and far back, Lake St. George. She picked the flowers on the walk up

Richard and Maria on top of their new world, happy in their fields of wild blueberries. Visible below are their home and barn, and far back, Lake St. George. She picked the flowers on the walk up

Liberty, Maine–Is it possible for two people in middle-age–late middle age –to change just about every aspect of their lives and find fulfillment in a new life style?

I said just about every aspect. Here is what I mean. To change the person they would live with. Where they would live. What they would do for a living. How they would spend their money. And so many other aspects that spin off from these.

Well, I know a couple who have done exactly that. And I have just seen them up close in this new life of theirs. Nothing on this earth is perfect, and that’s certainly true of human relationships. But from what I have witnessed of these two, I would say they are happy. In fact, surprisingly happy.

I am speaking of Richard and Maria King. Richard is from Deep River, Connecticut, which is my town. Maria is from Poland. They met online and then in Warsaw and quickly became convinced that they shared many aspirations.

Read the full story here

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Chester Boy Scout Builds Bridge in Bushy Hill Nature Camp to Qualify for Eagle Scout Rank

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

Tyler R. Johnson, a 17-year old Chester resident, and six year member of the Boy Scouts of America, recently supervised the complete rebuilding of a much needed bridge in the Bush Hill Nature Camp in Ivoryton.

The bridge building project fulfilled for Johnson a necessary requirement for him to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. The new bridge connects the Red Trail to Berry-Berry Island in the Bushy Hill Camp.

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The new bridge is 22 feet in length and three feet wide, and it has new, four foot high, rope railings on both sides. All of the work on the new bridge was supervised by Johnson, who was assisted by 15 or more Boy Scout volunteers.

As a reward for their efforts, the volunteers received “services hours,” which are necessary for their advancement in the ranks of the Boy Scouts.  For Johnson the bridge-building project fulfilled for him the requirement to have an “Eagle Leadership Project” to become an Eagle Scout.

Johnson is a six year member of the Boy Scouts of America, and to reach the rank of Eagle Scout, he had to pass through the ranks of scouting from Tenderfoot to Eagle, with four other ranks in between. In the process Johnson earned 33 different Boy Scout merit badges, ranging from Swimming to Financial Management, from Citizenship to Small Boat Handling.

Commenting on his bridge building project, Johnson said, “I wanted to give back to the [Bushy Hill Nature]camp, which I attended for seven years, and for which I have fond memories.” Johnson also very much wants to have the impressive rank of Eagle Scout on his resume,’ as he searches for a college to attend next year.

Chester's Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

Chester’s Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

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Parking Variance Approved, Essex Zoning Sets Meeting on Pharmacy Application

ESSEX—- With a parking variance approved this week by the zoning board of appeals, the zoning commission will hold a special meeting Monday on the permit application to open a pharmacy in vacant space at the commercial building at 31-33 Main St. in Centerbrook. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in town hall.

The commission had opened a public hearing on Sept. 9 on the application of Quality Care Drug/Centerbrook LLC to open a pharmacy in vacant former restaurant space at 31-33 Main St. The proposal drew no objections, and two expressions of support, from residents at the public hearing.

But the zoning commission was unable to act on the application without approval of a parking variance from the zoning board of appeals. The variance would allow 35 parking spaces where 44 spaces would be required under zoning regulations for all current and planned uses at the commercial building.

At the request of the applicant, pharmacist and business partner Greg McKenna, the commission took the unusual step of agreeing to hold special meeting to conclude the public hearing and possibly vote on the application if the variance was approved by the ZBA. The board approved the variance Tuesday after a public hearing.

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Essex Yacht Earns Honors in the Marblehead to Halifax Race

Harry Bird helms Bluebird in the Marblehead to Halifax Race

Harry Bird helms Bluebird in the Marblehead to Halifax Race

The Essex based ketch Bluebird, skippered by Essex resident Harry Bird of the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, placed third in its class in the bi-annual Marblehead to Halifax race on July 11th.

The Marblehead to Halifax race is one of the world’s great open ocean races, 363 miles in length and jointly sponsored by the Boston Yacht Club and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.  This year’s race was the 35th rendition with the first race run in 1905.

We made it!  Bluebird’s crew outside the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron in Halifax: (L to R):  Carl Ordemann (Larchmont YC), Jim Francis, Terry Stewart, Harry Bird (Essex Corinthian Yacht Club), and Ed Remillard (Essex Yacht Club).

We made it! Bluebird’s crew outside the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron in Halifax: (L to R): Carl Ordemann (Larchmont YC), Jim Francis, Terry Stewart, Harry Bird (Essex Corinthian Yacht Club), and Ed Remillard (Essex Yacht Club).

Bluebird, a Migrant 45 built in England in 1983, has completed four Newport to Bermuda races and two Halifax races under Harry, competing in the cruising (non spinnaker) class.   In previous races, in the 2011 Halifax race, Harry placed second in the cruising class. In the 2010 Bermuda Race, Bluebird was second in its class and third overall in the cruising division (out of 38 boats).

His crew for this year’s Halifax race consisted of Commodore Terry Stewart and Past Commodore Jim Francis of the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, Ed Remillard of the Essex Yacht Club, and Carl Ordeman and Will Ingraham of the Larchmont Yacht Club.

Seventy five boats started the race in nine classes. Boats ranged from the 12 Meter yacht Valiant, to the maxi boat Rambler (who crossed the finish first), to the beautiful Herreshoff designed schooner, Ticonderoga.

Commodore George Archibald of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron at the award ceremony with Harry Bird

Commodore George Archibald of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron at the award ceremony with Harry Bird

This year’s race featured very light winds with fog for most of the race.  As a result, what took Bluebird two days to finish in the 2011 race took just over four days this time.

By dodging adverse currents flooding into the Bay of Fundy, Bluebird was able to cross the Gulf of Maine in route to the southern tip of Nova Scotia, avoiding several pods of whales and a few sharks in the process.

Bluebird’s final challenge was entering the port of Halifax in a heavy fog while avoiding an unseen incoming super tanker and three outgoing Japanese warships.

Upon reaching the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron dock, Harry and crew were very happy to hear Bluebird placed third in its class. Shortly thereafter, the Commodore of the Yacht Squadron awarded Harry the third place trophy in a traditional ceremony celebrating seamanship, safety, persistence, and accomplishment.

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Essex Town Meeting Approves $200,000 in Special Appropriations from Surplus

ESSEX–– Voters at a town meeting Wednesday approved five special appropriations totaling $200,000 of unexpended funds from the 2012-2013 town budget. About 25 residents, many of them volunteer firefighters, turned out to approve the additional appropriations from a budget surplus that totaled about $380,000.

Finance Director Kelly Sterner said nearly all of the surplus came from additional revenue received in the budget year that ended June 30, including $229,000 from a settlement with the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, $29,000 in surplus returned from the 2011-2012 Region 4 education budget, and about $80,000 in reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for expenses incurred from Storm Sandy last October and the February blizzard. Sterner said there is about $180,000 in surplus funds remaining after the expenditures approved Wednesday.

The largest amou8nt approved Wednesday was an additional $75,000 for the volunteer fire department’s budget sinking fund. The funds will be used to purchase equipment and other items. Also approved was a supplemental appropriation of $50,000 for the municipal property sinking fund, and $15,000 for the police cruiser replacement sinking fund.

Voters also approved special appropriations of $35,000 for a bonding study and $25,000 as initial funding for a planned waste water management study. The board of selectmen is reviewing various capital projects, including roof replacement at Essex Elementary School and replacement of two bridges in the Ivoryton section, for a possible bonding authorization that could be presented to voters for approval early next year. Sterner said the $35,000 would be used to hire an engineering consulting firm to prepare detailed cost estimates for projects under consideration for bonding.

The $25,000 for a waste water management study is the initial funding for a comprehensive study of waste water disposal in the three villages of Essex, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton that could cost a total of about $150,000. First Selectman Norman Needleman said preparing for the study is a “proactive step,” to avoid any possible orders or mandates from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection that could require construction of sanitary sewers in any of the village areas. He said the study could suggest less costly alternatives for any waste water disposal problems in the village areas.

The last waste water management study sponsored by the town’s water pollution control commission was completed in 1998 as part of a sewer avoidance plan for the town. Proposals for the study will be sought when additional funding is available, possibly in 2014.

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2013 Ivoryton Pumpkin Festival Volunteers Needed

2nd best pumpkin fest pic

The Town of Essex Park and Recreation is currently seeking volunteers to assist at the annual Ivoryton Village Pumpkin Festival. The Pumpkin Festival will be held on Saturday, October 26. From 5 -8 p.m.. This is the 13th year for the town event and all residents of Centerbrook, Essex and Ivoryton are encouraged to get creative with their pumpkin carving.

In the past, the event had over 250 Jack-O-Lanterns decorating the Ivoryton Town Green with almost 1,500 people in attendance. There will also be the haunted library and entertainment provided by “The Federation”. Returning sponsors will be providing refreshments and kids’ activities.

Volunteers are needed to assist with registration, staging, serving refreshment, lighting pumpkins, haunted library supervision and participation, security and clean up. Please join us for a night of fun and fright.

We are also hosting a pumpkin carving party on Wed. Oct. 24th at the Essex Town Hall Auditorium– we need volunteers to carve pumpkins for our jack–o-lantern stroll. Pizza and light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to Essex Park and Recreation if you would like to attend. recreation@essexct.gov

For more information about volunteering at the Pumpkin Festival please contact Mary Ellen Barnes, Town of Essex Program Manager 767-4340 x110.

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Chester P & Z Approves Pizza Restaurant for 69 Main Street

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has approved a special permit for a new pizza restaurant at 69 Main St. in the downtown village. The panel approved the permit on a unanimous vote at it’s Sept. 12 meeting.

The restaurant will be run by Jonathan Rapp, who also owns and operates the River Tavern restaurant at 23 Main St. in the downtown village. The 35 seat restaurant would be open daily from 5 to 11 p.m., offering pizza, salads, and gelato, along with beer and wine. The three-story building at 69 Main St. is owned by local resident Jonathan Schroder, who purchased it from the town several years ago.

The town had acquired the property in the mid-1990s for a possible expansion of town hall, which was located in a building on an abutting parcel until the current town hall opened in 2003 at 203 Middlesex Avenue (Route 154).

The commission imposed several conditions with the special permit approval, including a ban on outdoor music and parking behind in the area the building which is reserved for tenants on the other two floors. Patrons of the restaurant will be required to use on street parking or park in any the three town-owned lots in the village. Rapp had included a provision for outdoor seating in the application, but he will be required to obtain a separate accessory use zoning permit from the zoning enforcement officer before any outdoor seating is allowed.

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Talking Transportation: Public Hearings or Political Theater?

Jim CameronI believe passionately in open, transparent government.  The public has a right to know what their elected officials are doing and comment on it before it’s done, usually by way of mandated public hearings.

So I was thrilled to see that the Government Accounting Office has issued a 56 page report sharply critical of the Port Authority of NY-NJ for raising tolls without public input.

In 2011, the Authority jacked up tolls by 50% on bridges and tunnels three days after a single public hearing, held on a weekday during rush hour.  And even at that one hearing, comments were taken without an explanation of the proposal.

It’s as if the Authority went out of its way to avoid criticism, constructive or otherwise.  And for that the GAO rightly criticized them.

We’ve seen this same thing happen many times in Connecticut:

  • The CDOT plans a rail fare increase, baked into its legislative budget, then holds public hearings.  Nothing said at the hearings can affect the decision to boost fares (except possibly to cut train service).
  • The state’s Transportation Strategy Board holds a public hearing on a million dollar study of over a dozen different possible scenarios for tolling on I-95, asking for comments but without ever explaining what the study said.
  • The state chooses to develop land under the Stamford garage in a secret negotiation with developers without ever seeking input from commuters on what’s planned.

The formula is simple, but backwards.  Lawmakers decide what they want to do and then hold a pro forma public hearing to get comments from those who will be affected.  Too often the decision has been made and, for political theater, they just go through the motions of asking for comment.

Here’s a novel idea:  why not hold a public hearing first, asking constituents, commuters and customers what they think?  Explain to them the necessity of a fare hike or development plan and then ask for their reaction.

Decisions by government-run monopolies should be made with input from all the stakeholders, not a handful of bureaucrats.  That’s how you build a consensus in a democracy.

But there is good news.  Recently in my town of Darien the pattern was broken.

A planned parking rate increase at the town’s two train stations, Darien and Noroton Heights, came up for a public hearing before the Board of Selectmen.  A final vote on the plan was on the agenda for the same evening.

But a handful of dismayed commuters who knew no details of the plan (boosting day-parking rates by 66%), turned up at the hearing and protested. They said they had not been warned about the proposal, that commuters had not been told of the public hearing and they had a slew of complaints and concerns about other aspects of the parking lots and stations.

I guess I was the one responsible for that turnout, as I’m the one who posted signs at the station and leafleted cars in the parking lot, something I told the town fathers they could and should have done.

To their credit, and my surprise, the public hearing was continued for another week and the rate-hike pushed back until more commuters could be heard.  Signs were posted at the stations informing commuters of the proposals and the chance to be heard.

The Board of Selectmen was not required to do that, but they did.  And they deserve credit and our thanks for listening first and voting second.

 JIM CAMERON has been a commuter out of Darien for 23 years.  He is a member of the new CT Rail Commuter Council and the Darien RTM.  You can reach him at CTRailCommuterCouncil@gmail.com or www.trainweb.org/ct

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Essex Zoning Holds Special Meeting to Act on Proposed Centerbrook Pharmacy

ESSEX-— The zoning commission is ready to hold a special meeting next week to act on a special permit application for a pharmacy in vacant former restaurant space in the commercial building at 31-33 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. But any action on the application is dependent on the approval Tuesday of a parking variance from the zoning board of appeals.

The commission opened the public hearing Monday on the application of Quality Care Drug/Centerbrook LLC. Greg McKenna, a licensed pharmacist and partner in the firm, said the partnership currently owns and operates five small “community based” pharmacies including pharmacies in Haddam, Portland, and three in Fairfield county. McKenna said the parking needs for the pharmacy would “certainly be far less,” than the parking requirements for restaurants that had operated in the vacant space until late 2010.

JMB Properties, a Cheshire group that owns the building, is seeking a variance from the zoning board of appeals to allow a total 35 parking spaces for the building where 44 spaces would be required under zoning regulations for all current and proposed uses in the building. The ZBA is set to hold a public hearing, and possibly act, on the appeal Tuesday.

No one expressed opposition to the proposed pharmacy at the zoning commission hearing Monday. Two residents spoke in support of the application, Paul Partica, owner of the Centerbrook Cheese Shop located in the 31-33 main St. building, and local engineer Robert Doane. Doane’s father ran a pharmacy that operated in the Centerbrook building for decades until around 2006. Partica said he has never observed a lack of parking at the building, which also houses the Centerbrook Package Store, since opening the cheese shop in late 2010.

When commission members also raised no questions or objections during the hearing,

Peter Lucchese, a Clinton realtor who has been marketing the vacant space, asked the panel to consider acting on the permit application before the next scheduled meeting on Oct.21. Lucchese said McKenna is hoping to open by Thanksgiving to allow the business to start generating some return on the investment going in to the winter season.

Commission Chairman Alvin Wolfgram said the panel usually delays a vote until the next regular monthly meeting, particularly if a key requirement, such as the nine-space parking variance, is still lacking. But after discussion, the commission agreed to schedule a Sept. 23 special meeting to close the public hearing and vote on the pharmacy application, as long as the parking variance first wins approval from the ZBA.

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Chester P & Z Continues Hearing on Town Plan Change Requested by Aaron Manor

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has continued a public hearing on the request by Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for an amendment to the town plan of conservation and development that would give the facility the option of connecting to the town sewer system. The hearing that began Thursday will resume at the commission’s Oct. 10 meeting.

The 60-bed nursing facility, located at 3 Wig Hill Road off Route 148, is requesting revisions to the 2009 town plan that would give it the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system that currently serves the downtown village and areas south on Route 154 to the Deep River town line. The septic system for the 60-year old facility has been failing for several years due to seasonal high ground water, and Aaron Manor is under a consent order with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to resolve the problems.

Represented by Essex engineer Alvin Wolfgram, the facility last winter applied to the inland-wetlands commission seeking a permit for a new and expanded septic system and on-site treatment system. The IWC asked Wolfgram to also investigate the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system, leading to a withdrawal of the permit application last March. The town plan currently makes no provision for sewers west of the downtown village along Route 148, a situation that blocks any consideration of the hook-in option for Aaron Manor.

The idea of revising the town plan to accommodate Aaron Manor drew a mixed response from residents at the hearing. The hearing began with First Selectman Edmund Meehan contending the request should have been first presented to the board of selectmen, and could possibly require approval from voters at a town meeting. Commission lawyer David Royston said town meeting action was not required if changes are approve by a two-thirds vote of the nine-member commission. But Royston recommended continuing the hearing to allow for review and input from the selectmen.

Royston also urged the commission to “proceed cautiously” with any changes to the town plan, with an eye toward addressing any possible conflicts with a statewide plan of conservation and development that became effective in June. One possible conflict could be an increase in potential development density that could result from an extension of the sewer line west along Route 148.

Several residents objected to changing the plan, with some suggesting there should be another way to give Aaron Manor a connection option without amending the plan. Meehan said any decision on changing the plan should include a review of all vacant land that is available for development along Route 148 to the Route 9 Exit 6 interchange. “Part of this decision is what is the sewer service area the commission wants for the town of Chester,” Meehan said.

But a representative of one nearby property owner suggested connecting Aaron Manor to the municipal sewer system could be the most environmentally sound option for resolving septic problems at the facility. Joan Malloy, a Wallingford attorney representing the owners of nearby Chapel Farm, contended the new and larger on site system proposed last winter could lead to contamination of a stream that runs through the farm property.

Wolfgram said connecting Aaron Manor to the municipal system with a sewer line running more than 1.5 miles along Route 148 would be “physically feasible,”, but costly, while adding the new and larger on site septic system that would be required for Aaron Manor would also be “very expensive.”

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I Love You, You’re Perfect Now Change – At The Ivoryton Playhouse

Christopher Sutton

Christopher Sutton

Ivoryton: The much loved musical comedy I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts has played more than 5.000 performances, has been translated into more than dozen languages and produced the world over and now opens at The Ivoryton Playhouse on September 25.

This celebration of the mating game takes on the truths and myths behind that contemporary conundrum known as “the relationship”. From dating and waiting to love and marriage; from the agonies and triumphs of in-laws and newborns, trips in the family car and pick up techniques of the geriatric set. This hilarious revue pays tribute to those who have loved and lost, to those who have fallen on their face at the portal of romance, and to those who have dared to ask “Say, what are you doing Saturday night?”

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change goes through your funny bone and straight to your heart!” said Jacqui Hubbard, Executive Director “You’ll fall head over heels for this hilarious musical comedy about that terribly wonderful, absolutely crazy thing called love!”

Christopher Sutton will be directing and starring in this production. Christopher was supposed to have been joined on stage by his beautiful wife, Lynn Philistine, but the arrival of the newest member of their family, a bouncing baby boy, Dylan, has necessitated a change in plans! The cast includes Ivoryton favorite Sheila Coyle*; Holly Holcombe* who was last in Ivoryton as a student at the Hartt School in a production of A Woman of a Certain Age; and Michael Brian Dunn* who will be making his Ivoryton debut. Musical direction is by Logan Medland, costumes by Kari Crowther, set design by Tony Andrea and lights by Tate Burmeister.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change opens in Ivoryton on September 25 and runs through October 13 . Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Generously sponsored by: Clark Corporation, First Niagara Bank and Hamilton Connections.

*member of Actors Equity

 

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Essex Zoning Commission Public Hearing Monday on Centerbrook Pharmacy Application

ESSEX— The zoning commission has scheduled a public hearing Monday on a special permit application for a pharmacy in the commercial building at 31-33 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. The hearing, one of four on the panel’s Monday agenda, begins at 7 p.m. in town hall.

Quality Care Drug/Centerbrook LLC is seeking to open a pharmacy in vacant space that was previously occupied by Debbie’s Restaurant, which closed in 2010. But the plan requires a parking variance from the zoning board of appeals which must be approved before the zoning commission could act on the special permit application.

The ZBA has a public hearing Tuesday on an appeal by JMB Properties LLC of Cheshire, owner of 31-33 Main St, for a variance of the parking requirements of zoning regulations to allow 35 off-street parking spaces where 45 spaces are required for all existing or proposed uses on the property.

Quality Care Drug/ Centerbrook LLC is owned by Greg McKenna, a Berlin resident who owns other small, non-chain, pharmacies around the state. The 31-33 Main St. building was the home for decades of Doane’s Pharmacy, an independent, locally-owned pharmacy that closed more than six years ago. In subsequent years, the space that had been the pharmacy was occupied by an expanded Centerbrook Package Store, leaving only the former restaurant space remaining vacant in the commercial building. The only other pharmacy in town is the Rite-Aid located at the Bokum Corners Shopping Plaza.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said this week the zoning commission can not act on the pharmacy application without ZBA approval of the parking variance for the overall property. Budrow said the commission is expected to continue any public hearing on the proposed pharmacy that is opened Monday to it’s October 21 meeting, after any action on the variance by the ZBA at the Sept. 17 meeting.

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Essex Garden Club Announces New Officers for 2013-2015

L to R: Barbara Burgess, 1st Vice President, Barbara Hall, Recording Secretary, Linda Newberg, President, and Patricia Mather, Treasurer.  Missing are Dianne Sexton, 2nd Vice President, Barbara Marden, Corresponding Secretary and Carol Denham, Assistant Secretary.

L to R: Barbara Burgess, 1st Vice President, Barbara Hall, Recording Secretary, Linda Newberg, President, and Patricia Mather, Treasurer. Missing are Dianne Sexton, 2nd Vice President, Barbara Marden, Corresponding Secretary and Carol Denham, Assistant Secretary.

The new Officers for the Essex Garden Club are Linda Newberg, President, Barbara Burgess, 1st Vice President, Dianne Sexton, 2nd Vice President, Barbara Hall, Recording Secretary, Barbara Marden, Corresponding Secretary, Patricia Mather, Treasurer, and Carol Denham, Assistant Treasurer.

After officially taking the EGC gavel on September 9, 2013, Linda Newberg described an exciting agenda and activities for the Club which will  correlate with the Club’s mission of beautification of the three villages of Essex, spreading horticultural knowledge and supporting the conservation of natural resources.

Ms. Newberg described this year’s theme as “Thinking Outside the Box” and encouraged members to reflect on past strategies and develop new ways to successfully meet  the Club’s  objectives  and accomplish the goals of its mission.  She considers the Essex Garden Club a “treasure” where imagination, creativity, hard work and camaraderie come together for the benefit of the members and the community alike.

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Chester P & Z to Hold Public Hearing Thursday on Proposed Revisions to Town Plan

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing Thursday on proposed modifications to the 2009 town plan of conservation and development that are requested by the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The hearing convenes at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

The 60-bed skilled nursing facility located off Route 148 at 3 Wig Hill Road is under a consent order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to repair and upgrade the septic system that has served the facility for decades. Aaron Manor, represented by Essex engineer Alvin Wolfgram, had applied to the inland-wetlands commission earlier this year for a permit for a new and expanded septic system. In considering the application, the IWC had asked Wolfgram to also explore the option of connecting to the existing town sewer system which serves the downtown village and several properties extending east to Route 154 and south to the Deep River town line.

The system was expanded in 2009 and currently sends waste water from Chester south to the Deep River sewer system and the waste water treatment plant on Winter Avenue in Deep River. Under a 2005 agreement, Deep River agreed to accept waste water from Chester for treatment at the Winter Avenue plant.

The town plan that was last updated in 2009 makes no provision for an expansion of the municipal sewer system to the west along Route 148. Aaron Manor is requesting changes to four chapters in the town plan that could allow for consideration or any proposal for a future expansion of the system west along Route 148.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said last month the town has no plans for any westward expansion of the sewer system on Route 148 to the Route 9 Exit 6 interchange, an area that includes Aaron Manor. Any expansion to the area, a distance of about 1.6 miles from the end of the existing system, would have to be self-funded by Aaron Manor, possibly with assistance from state and federal grants. A change to the town plan of development would at least allow Aaron Manor to consider a connection option as it works to comply with the state consent order.

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Essex Housing Authority Plans for Expansion of Essex Court Elderly Housing

ESSEX— The Essex Housing Authority is developing plans for a possible 20-unit expansion of the Essex Court elderly housing complex at 16 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. At a Sept. 5 special meeting, the board of selectmen approved a change to a lease agreement that is required for the authority’s current plan to proceed.

The expansion would be constructed on a one-acre parcel at the back section of the complex. The parcel is owned by the town, and leased to the authority under a 99-year lease approved in 2002. But the appointed authority has established a non-profit sub-group, Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc., to coordinate the expansion project. The lease agreement would be amended to include a reference to Essex Elderly and Affordable Housing Inc.

Janice Atkeson, chairwoman of the housing authority, said the authority has hired the Middletown-based Women’s Institute of Housing and Economic Development to assist in planning for the project, particularly in applying for loans or grant funds that could be used to pay for construction. The group earlier this year secured a $250,000 pre-development planning grant from the state Department of Housing, with some of the funds used to hire the Quisenberry & Arcari Architects LLC firm of Farmington to prepare a preliminary design plan for the project.

Atkeson said the plan for a possible expansion of 20 to 22 units would be used in the coming months to apply for loans and other funding for the project. If funding is secured, the project could be put out to bid and construction begin in 2014.

The new rental units would be available to persons over age 62 who meet income guidelines. The existing 36-unit Essex Court elderly housing complex opened in 1985, but has been renovated and upgraded in recent years with the help of grant funding.

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9 Town Transit Welcomes Eight New Buses

First Selectman Carl Fortuna, First Selectman Ralph Eno, First Selectman Dick Smith, Leslie Strauss, First Selectman Noel Bishop, John Forbis and First Selectman Norman Needleman (Photo courtesy of Roland Laine).

First Selectman Carl Fortuna, First Selectman Ralph Eno, First Selectman Dick Smith, Leslie Strauss, First Selectman Noel Bishop, John Forbis and First Selectman Norman Needleman (Photo courtesy of Roland Laine).

Shoreline transit users are getting a more comfortable, and colorful, ride thanks to eight new buses introduced over the past several months.

The new buses rolled out by 9 Town Transit (9TT) include the region’s first two low-floor buses.  These buses have no steps inside, making it easier for passengers to board.   Each bus also offers a ramp for people utilizing wheelchairs or walkers instead of the traditional wheelchair lifts.  With this delivery, the fleet now has five hybrid electric buses.  Hybrid technology saves fuel and emissions, resulting in reduced cost and environmental impact.  The 9TT fleet is now 40% hybrid electric.

9TT does not only rely on hybrid vehicles to save fuel. There are two diesel buses and one mini bus that also service the district. The diesel powered buses consume 40% less fuel than their gasoline counterparts.  The mini bus has improved gas mileage over the traditional 12 passenger buses and is easier to navigate into residential driveways for our dial-a-ride passengers.

The purchase represents the largest single year vehicle investment in 9TT’s history at a total price tag of $873,073.  The project was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Federal Transit Administration, the Connecticut Clean Fuels Program and the Connecticut Department of Transportation..

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

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Sen. Linares, and Rep. Carpino Hear from Local Manufacturers in Chester Meeting

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Chris Dimou, President of Roto Frank, Inc. (right) pause at the entrance to the Chester-based manufacturer which hosted the Sep. 6

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Chris Dimou, President of Roto Frank, Inc. (right) pause at the entrance to the Chester-based manufacturer which hosted the Sep. 6

State Rep. Christie Carpino and State Sen. Art Linares on Sept. 6 hosted a roundtable discussion with local business owners to discuss the challenges faced by manufacturers in Connecticut.

The meeting, which was held at Chester-based Roto Frank of America, Inc., brought together area job creators with the goal of crafting and improving the state’s business climate.

“It was a productive meeting and a great turnout,” Rep. Carpino said. “We want business leaders throughout our districts to know they have partners at the State Capitol who will fight to pass policies which grow jobs and make our state a more attractive place to do business. We heard real-life examples of some detrimental state legislation that hinders job creation and growth. This is unacceptable! We look forward to future meetings like this where we can continue to exchange ideas.”

“We view these manufacturers – and all taxpayers – as our customers,” Sen. Linares said. “We want them to know that their voices matter and that they will be heard in Hartford. Whatever Rep. Carpino and I can do to help respond to their needs, we will do.”

Among the business leaders in attendance were:

  • Chris Dimou, President of Chester-based Roto Frank, Inc.
  • Chip Merritt, CEO of Colchester-based InCord, Ltd
  • Andrew J. Gibson, CEO of Chester-based AeroCision
  • Robert Reynolds, Co-CEO and Chief Operating Officer at Portland-based Standard-Knapp Inc.
  • Kelli-Marie Vallieres, President/CEO at Old Saybrook-based Sound Manufacturing, Inc./Monster Power Equipment
  • Rick Puglielli, President at Portland-based Promold Plastics
Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Christie Carpino listen to comments from local business leaders on how Connecticut can improve its business environment. The legislators on Sept. 6 hosted a roundtable discussion at Chester-based Roto Frank of America, Inc. to discuss the challenges faced by manufacturers in Connecticut.

Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Christie Carpino listen to comments from local business leaders on how Connecticut can improve its business environment. The legislators on Sept. 6 hosted a roundtable discussion at Chester-based Roto Frank of America, Inc. to discuss the challenges faced by manufacturers in Connecticut.

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Robert J. Marcinek joins Essex Financial Services

Essex Financial Services, recently announced that Robert J. Marcinek, CFP, has joined the firm’s nationally renowned team of Financial Advisors.   Over nearly 30 years, Marcinek has a developed a deep base of experience in financial services, in both commercial banking and financial management and advisory services.   He joins EFS after 11 years as a wealth planning advisor with Sagemark Consulting and Sagemark Private Wealth Services.

“Bob is ideally suited to Essex Financial Services.  He specializes in financial planning, investment management and estate planning for individuals, families and small business owners and has built a broad client base,” stated Charles Cumello, Jr., interim chief executive officer of EFS.

Marcinek holds an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (1984) and a BA in economics from the University of Connecticut (1979).  Bob is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and holds a variety of securities registrations and insurance licenses.

Bob and his wife Alison reside in Essex, CT.  They have three children and are actively involved in the local community.

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Middlefield Firm Picked for Essex Town Hall Campus Project

ESSEX— The town is expected to hire Xenelis Construction Inc. of Middlefield as the lead contractor for the Town Hall Campus Project after components of the project were modified when the four bids received for the work exceeded the state grant funding for the project.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said Friday the Middlefield firm has agreed to various changes that were required to hold the cost of the project close to the $471,500 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant funding that was awarded for the project late last year. Needleman said the board of selectmen is expected to award a modified contract to Xenelis Construction at it’s next regular meeting on September 18, with work to begin later that week.

The project includes repaving and expanding the town hall parking lot, new tennis courts, and a new handicapped accessible playscape in the Grove Street Park that abuts the town hall property. There would also be new crosswalks, sidewalks, and other improvements intended to enhance the connections between the town hall property and the Essex Library property on the other side of Grove Street.

Xenelis Construction had submitted the second lowest of four bids that were opened on Aug. 8, but the total price of $638,113 exceeded the available grant funding. Needleman said he worked with town Public Works Director David Caroline to remove items from the bid package where the town could obtain lower prices, such as paving and site preparation work.

The town will use to state Department of Transportation subcontractors, Garrity Construction of Bridgewater and American Paving Company of Berlin, for the site preparation and paving work. “It was a very complicated process and we had to review all four bids line by line,” Needleman said.

Needleman said Xenelis Construction will receive $277,261 for most components of the project, including construction of the new tennis courts. The components for a new handicapped accessible playscape will cost $130,000. Lenard Engineering of Meriden, which prepared the design plans for the project, will receive $21,000, with a $27,000 contingency and pavements to the site preparation and paving subcontractors accounting for the remainder of the total cost.

Needleman said the town will direct between $130,000 and $150,000 to the project in addition to the grant funding. He said the town was always planning to pay for some components of the project, with all of this funding available in the current town budget without the need for any special appropriation. With construction expected to begin around Sept. 19, the project is expected to be completed by mid-December.

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Chester Village West, a Luxury Retirement Community on Top of a Hill in Chester

Entry sign of Chester Village West, located on the western boundary of Chester

Entry sign of Chester Village West, located on the western boundary of Chester

To reach Chester Village West come north on Route 9, and then get off at Exit 6. Next, at the bottom of the ramp, take a left on to Route 148, and then drive up what feels like a long, long hill.  As you climb, there is almost nothing but full grown tress along both sides of the road.

Then, suddenly, on your left you see the large sign for Chester Village West. You have now reached a state of the art, fully developed, top of the line, retirement community.

Entrance road into Chester Village West, a meticulously kept retirement community

Entrance road into Chester Village West, a meticulously kept retirement community

Running the show at the retirement community is Executive Director Robert Taylor, who terms Chester Village West, “a premier, senior living community.” There are presently 105 residents at the “community,” tended, and cared for, by a staff of 43.

A key member of the staff at the community is Nurse Navigator Catherine Balliett. She is the “go to” person, whenever a resident has a medical question, which can range all the way from a troublesome hang nail to a worrisome pain in the chest.

The living quarters at Chester Village West consist of 90 apartments and 15 semi-detached houses. The apartments have four layouts, which are: one bedroom, one bedroom with den, two bedrooms, and two bedrooms with den. As for the semi-detached houses, they all have two bedrooms, with a choice of two different layouts plans.

These accommodations, as well as the other amenities at the community, are located on 25 acres of developed land on the western town line of Chester. Abutting the developed acreage, are 25 more acres belonging to Chester Village West, which are wetlands.

The Large Corporate Owner of Chester Village West

Chester Village West is wholly owned by Life Care Services, which has its headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. In total the company owns 17 senior living facilities, including Chester Village West, and it is also the managing partner of 112 other senior living facilities. In total the company has operations in 38 states.

The relevance of this wide experience, says Chester Village West’s Executive Director Bob Taylor, is that when it comes to senior living,  “We perfected it.” Taylor is also not reluctant in comparing his retirement facility in Chester with Essex Meadows in Essex. “We consider Essex Meadows as one of our competitors,” he says.

Taylor’s number one desire for residents at Chester Village West is that he wants all of them to feel that, “This is your home.”

The Array of Services at Chester Village West  

The services that are available at Chester West are truly staggering. They include one meal a day prepared by a, “five star,” Master Chef in the person of Chris Pardue, who even has his own herb garden.  Furthermore, residents are offered not only “gracious” dining with full table service, if they prefer there is “take out” service as well.

In addition to the one table served meal a day at Chester Village West, there is also complementary morning coffee and Danish as well. Also, at the community, residents are provided with: housekeeping services, linen services, scheduled transportation, utilities services, a full-time maintenance staff, lawn and garden care, 24-hour security, a full time Activities Director, shopping services, and a 24-hour Home Health Aide.

Also, the community has a backup generator to use, just in case regular power goes out. “It was a top priority upon my arrival, “says Executive Director Bob Taylor. In addition, Chester Village West is “pet friendly.”

More Features at the Chester Village West

Other attractive features at Chester Village West include: apartments with eat-in kitchens, which have either balconies or patios, and semi-detached houses with garages and fireplaces. Also, on site are an indoor swimming pool, a pub, a library, a music room and theater, a card room, a creative arts room, a beauty shop/barber shop, an exercise room, a greenhouse, and a pond with a gazebo.

In addition, for emergencies there is an emergency response system in each apartment or house, as well as a fire alarm system throughout the facility.

In conclusion, Executive Director Bob Taylor says, “The true value of Chester Village West can only be appreciated by touring the community, walking its many trails, and meeting staff and residents first hand.”

For further information, and for a private guided tour, interested parties can contact Sara Philpott, Marketing Director, Chester Village West, at 860-526-6800.

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Chester Selectmen Endorse State Plan for Improvements to Road in State Forest

CHESTER— The board of selectmen Tuesday endorsed a plan by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for drainage improvements to Cedar Swamp Road in the Cockaponset State Forest.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the DEEP Forestry division is planning to install low water flow culverts on sections of Cedar Swamp Road, an unimproved town road that runs south through the state forest to the Winthrop section of Deep River. Meehan said the drainage work is intended to reduce storm water flows that have led to rutting in the road and damaged forest vegetation after use by various all-terrain vehicles. The drainage work would be done in the spring of 2014.

The plan for improvements was also reviewed by the town’s conservation commission, which asked the DEEP in install signs near the end of the improved section of the road in Chester declaring the road is suitable for use only be 4-wheel drive vehicles. In 2009, the state began closing and blocking the road at both the Chester and Deep River ends during the winter months. But the rugged unimproved road is open for use during the warm weather seasons.

In other business Tuesday, the board agreed to ask voters at a town meeting to amend a town ordinance to set the membership of the appointed economic development commission at five members. Meehan said the town ordinance establishing the economic development commission sets the membership for the panel at seven, though only four members are currently serving on the commission. Meehan said this has led to problems securing a quorum of members to hold legal meetings. The proposed amendment, to be included on the agenda of a town meeting to be held this fall, would specify an EDC with five members to be appointed by the board of selectmen for three year terms.

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Car Crashes in to Former Aggie’s Restaurant in Ivoryton

Crashed front door and windows (Photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson)

Crashed front door and windows (Photo courtesy of Jerome Wilson)

ESSEX— The front entrance to the former Aggie’s Restaurant at 107 Main St. in the Ivoryton section was shattered when a car crashed in to the building Monday evening. State Police report a Chevrolet Malibu operated by Richard LaFountain, 31, of Wallingford was westbound on Main Street around 7:45 p.m. Monday when LaFountain failed to negotiate a small curve in the road and crashed in to the lower level entrance to the building.

A passenger and the owner of the vehicle, Lila Harvey, 29, of Portland, was transported to the Shoreline Clinic for treatment of minor injuries. Police issued LaFountain a ticket for traveling too fast for conditions.

The breakfast and lunch restaurant at the lower level of 107 Main St. was owned and operated for several years by local resident Agnes Waterman. The restaurant closed in June when the property was sold to new owners. It has not reopened.

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A New Life in a New Land With Challenges Aplenty

Tarek and Elena  are all smiles as they get started in Quebec. They have faced  problems  before. He especially.

Tarek and Elena are all smiles as they get started in Quebec. They have faced problems before. He especially.

Longueil, Province of Quebec – I just had a wonderful visit with Tarek and Elena in this suburb of Montreal. Met their three cute little daughters, ages 3 to 10. They are brand-new immigrants from Ukraine, so eager to start a new life with much brighter opportunities.

I thought I’d be with them an hour or two. Well, it was more than three. So fascinating to hear what they went through to get accepted here, and how they’re making it. Not easy!

I got to meet Tarek and Elena when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. They worked at Headquarters in Kyiv, the capital. He was a pharmacist in the medical department. I’d meet him when I went to see a doctor there. I served a full-hitch of 27 months so that happened quite often.

I found out he spoke French, quite a rarity there. He had to speak good English for that job, of course. But he was also fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, which I expected, but also in Algerian. Quite a feat! Sometimes I’d poke into his office just for a little chat in French with him.

His wife Elena was the travel assistant. She was Ukrainian and a university grad. She handled arrangements for Headquarters staffers and Volunteers on official travel. By plane, train, bus, or any combination. In Ukraine and to any other country. All my travel was on my own, and I traveled quite a bit, in Europe and even to China. She didn’t have to be but was always cheerfully helpful.

They had good jobs. They were both in their 30s. I took it for granted they’d be there till they retired. Imagine my surprise when I got an email from him a year ago. In French, by the way. He told me they were moving to Canada. Wow!

He asked me if I had any contacts in Montreal. They didn’t know a soul there. I said yes, and put him in touch with a couple. He was very appreciative.

More than once I wondered, Why did they make this enormous move, and with three little kids? Leave family and friends, and of course lovely Kyiv? What made them decide it was worth facing all the difficulties and challenges they were sure to run into in Quebec?

So when I decided to come up here in my van, I lost no time asking to stop by and visit. He promptly and enthusiastically said yes.

I had bad luck. I showed up an hour late, and through no fault of mine. I had hardly parked when all five came out to welcome me. They had been at the window, watching for me!

It was the first time I saw Lisa, Sofia, and Amalia. What sweet little girls.

I knew that Elena didn’t know a word of French, which is the official language here. That was something to cause them concern. And the little girls would be facing that challenge, too, plus other tough adjustments.

Well, Tarek filled me in about everything.

First, about him. He was born in Ukraine and grew up in Algeria, and that’s why he’s so good at French in addition to the native Algerian. His mother was Russian and his dad Algerian. They met in Moscow when they were students.

In Algeria, he decided he wanted to be a doctor. I asked him why. A lot of doctors go into medicine primarily to make money and enjoy prestige. That’s well known. “No, no,” he said. “I wanted to help people.” I believe him. He graduated from medical school in Algiers and passed the credentialing test and became a certified M.D. there.

There was a war going on. He wanted no part of it. He moved to Ukraine. He had relatives there. He found out that he couldn’t practice medicine there because of a crazy technicality. That’s how he got to work at Peace Corps as a pharmacist.

Along the way, he met Elena again. Love! Marriage! There three kids were born there.

So why did they decide to move to Quebec? “We have three kids and we wanted for them to have more opportunities in life, and grow up in a multicultural environment. We spent a long time deciding. We’d move to another country. It hasn’t been easy. But we’re very glad we made that decision.”

I said to him, “You were turned down by the United States, is that what happened.” In my work in Ukraine I had run into many people who thought about emigrating, and the U.S. was always their first choice. They thought of our country as Paradise on earth. I always agreed with them that we’re a very wonderful country, but we have problems, too. We’re no Paradise.

“No, we never considered the United States,” Tarek told me. That astonished me. I took it for granted that the U.S. had been their first choice.

“Why not?”

“It’s a fine country, but Canada is better. It is less aggressive, that’s for sure. Children can grow up with less worry about having to go off somewhere in the world to fight in a war.

“And Canada, like the United States, is made up of people with all kinds of backgrounds, but Canadians seem to be more accepting of one another. There’s less discrimination, it seems to us.

“Taxes are much higher here, but there’s more money spent on services for people. Canadians don’t have to worry as much about good health care, for instance. Or good care when they’re old. Or their children getting a good education that will be affordable. We researched all that. And that’s how we made our decision.”

I knew that he was studying to be a pharmacist in Montreal. “How is that going, Tarek?”

“No, not a pharmacist. That takes five years and leads to a doctorate. I’m studying to be licensed as a pharmacist technician. That takes one year full-time. I’ll complete that by Christmas.”

“Gosh, why assistant? That surprises me.”

“I just turned 40. I have to earn money! Elena is studying French full time in a College—a special program of preparation for immigrants. She enjoys it. Is learning French. Quebec history and culture. Many practical things. Important things.

“And I intend to be a doctor again. That is my dream. It is possible, though there are many steps and it will take time. I will achieve it faster this way. Five years in pharmacy school would make it impossible.”

I remembered that back in Ukraine, Tarek was completing a fellowship in radiology, including nuclear radiology, at a major hospital there. He’d be a radiologist now if they had stayed there. Imagine that. They’d have a good life over there.

I looked around as we spoke. They had a nice apartment on the first floor of a six-apartment building in a lower middle class neighborhood. It was safe and comfortable and clean and had all the basics. Even hot water and a washer and dryer and a TV and full computer set-up, but it’s not the place a couple with their credentials would normally live in.

Elena was a warm and caring person. She kept coming out with something for me. A cup of hot tea with mint and ginger. Delicious. Then she came out with a supper plate of toasts with scrambled eggs. She knew I didn’t eat flesh of any kind. She had some wonderful herb in those eggs. Then a piece of cake. Then a baked apple.

I kept thinking that had been a prestige job she had back in Peace Corps. I wondered about her feelings now. She did seem radiantly happy in her role and mother. The two of them certainly had a close and caring relationship. I could see that.

She spoke fine English, but I knew she didn’t speak French. In an email, I had asked Tarek if I should speak in English or French when I was with the family.

“French, please. It will be good practice for them.”

So French it was. I had to compliment her. I could tell she was following our conversation. Even joining in.

It had taken them three years to get through the admission process. A lot of suspense. They had to agree to a lot of things. One was to send the children to French Schools. Another was to arrive with $5,000 dollars—Canadian dollars–in their pocket. That’s a lot of money for Ukrainians. A teacher earns about $2,000 a year, as I remember it.

“That $5,000 is to keep an immigrant family going for the first three months,” he said. “If we had gone to Ontario next door, we would have needed $10,000. But Quebec is what interested us.”

He thought a minute. “It takes at least $20,000 per year to get by here. Just get by. We bought that nice computer in the living room because it was absolutely essential. We use it every day. It’s so useful so many ways, including my studies, of course.”

Elena spoke up. “I speak to my father in Ukraine every day! By Skype. On the computer!” She beamed as she said that.

I asked her, “Do you like snow? There’s an awful lot here!” I was sure she’d say no. I myself got tired of snow many years ago. Had to shovel too much of it. Drive in it too often. Many people feel as I do.

She laughed. “We love snow!”

They have no car. He takes a bus every morning, then switches to a subway to get to school in Montreal. Does it in reverse to get home. Takes an hour each way. They chose this apartment because it was close to all the important things. Thy walk, walk, walk. In 10 months they haven’t had the time or the money to visit anything beyond the range of city transit.

It’s a hectic schedule. He goes to classes every day. She goes to her own classes. The two older girls are in primary school. The youngest is in a day care. The weekends are precious.

With all those languages, what do they speak at home. Russian and French. Those are the most important for the girls right now. Hopefully the others, too, some day.

He brought up the subject of money again.

“It costs a minimum of $20,000 a year for a family to get by here. That’s a lot of money. And pharmacy school is expensive. We do get financial help. I receive a study grant from the provincial government. A check every month. But it is for a limited time only. I will have to pay back a small percentage of it. That’s all. And there’s also a program of family assistance. So much for each child. We receive that every month, too. It is very helpful.”

He smiled. “It is a challenge! We expected it to be a challenge. We are doing fine. My job prospects are very good. One step at a time. When I get a job, we will buy a car. I will take lessons. Elena will take lessons. And in due time we will be full Canadian citizens! Our little girls will grow up in a free and democratic society.”

And he would be a medical doctor, I felt quite sure.

I brought up the question of politics in Ukraine and in Canada. A natural question. But he didn’t want to get into it. I could understand that.

It’s only when he mentioned how he and Elena planned to take driving lessons that I realized they had never learned to drive. It really was a different world back there in Ukraine.

I felt so good to see what a good and loving home life they were enjoying, despite the difficulties. And how they were going all out to make it even better with their little daughters in this new world so different.

I was positive that if Quebec had extended such a welcoming hand to them, with assistance of this kind and that kind, it was because Quebec was sure that they would become very valuable new citizens.

Quebec was as determined to make a better future for itself as they were for themselves.

A win-win situation in the making!

 

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