August 20, 2017

Archives for November 2014

Last Day Today for Hadlyme Hall Fine Art & Crafts Show

The 12th annual Fine Art & Craft Show at Hadlyme Public Hall will be held over Thanksgiving weekend from Friday through Sunday, Nov. 28 to 30.

The event features artist Clio Newton from Madison, Conn. Festivities will include live music and hor d’oeuvres.

With a B.F.A from Cooper Union, NYC, featured artist Clio Newton has refined her skills to become one of the most sophisticated up and coming contemporary portraiture artist. She captures true to life imagery through her chosen mediums of oil and charcoal.

In 2012 she won the Elizabeth Greenshield’s Fellowship Award. She has studied locally at the Lyme Art Academy under Prof. Dunlap and Jerry Weiss and has studied at Florence Academy of Fine Arts in Italy on a Merit scholarship.

She has been commissioned by Yale University for an oil portrait of St. Anthony Hall of Presidents and by Cooper Union for a series of twelve drawings of the institution’s past presidents for a permanent instillation in their new academic building. Clio has also been featured by the Village Voice for her piece, “Cooper Union’s Giant Breast retires the Country”. Clio is available for commissioned pieces.

at_the_showAdmission for Saturday and Sunday is free. The show is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

A variety of artists — many local — will be exhibiting mixed media, holiday home décor, photography, oil and watercolor paintings, stoneware, wood carvings, jewelry, pottery, and sculpture.

All the artists have been asked to prepare “Small Wonders” in order to be able to offer some pieces that are affordable for all and suitable for holiday gift lists.

A full listing of the artists exhibiting is given below:

NAME Style
Laurie Gelston Alt Ceramic sculpture, ocarinas, jewlery, painitngs
Lesley Braren Oils, watercolors, monotypes
Skip Broom Photographs
Ashby Carlisle Ceramic bowls, plates, and functional containers
Claudia Cormier Dried flowers, shell wreaths, and arrangements, pastels
David Courant All exotic wood cheese boards, knives, spoons, utensils
Jeff Demarest Wood sculptured birds -folk art, impressionistic, ultra realism
Linda Elgart Enhanced giclees and original rooster oils
Marc Evankow Stone birdbaths and bowls
Marcy Furphy Handmade goat’s milk soap, lip balm, lotion sticks, soy candles
Sue Gallagher Handmade jewlery using fine silver, gem stones, artisan lampwork, found objects
Charlotte Gelston Hand knit shawls, throws, Afghan and sweaters in Aran style
Maureen Girard Mixed media
Matthew Goldman Art, prints,books and cards
Paula Goldman Face creams, saves, teas, sachets, jam
Hadlyme Hall Garden Club Pecans
Bud Haines Realistic handcarved and painted wild fowl
Bonnie LeMay Oils, watercolors, cards, jewerly
Jill Beecher Matthew Palette knife oil paintings
Paul Maulucci Wooden bowls and art forms from found wood
Thomas McLean Oil paintings
Clio Newton Oils on wood panels, charcoal drawings
Juliet Rutigliano Eclectic jewerly for the classically modern
Maureen Tarbox Oils, watercolors, notecards, minature oils
Carol Watson Equine and abstract mixed media and collage pieces, photo notecards feather artwork, acrylic
Christopher Zhang Oils

For further information, click here.

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Chester Committee Drops Plan for Main Street North Side Sidewalk as Town is Awarded $1 Million Grant for Library Project

CHESTER— In an abrupt change of plans, the Main Street Project Committee voted Tuesday to drop plans for a continuous north side sidewalk as part of the Main Street East reconstruction project. The decision came as town officials learned Monday that Chester has been awarded a $1 million state grant for construction of a new library at North Quarter Park, the 22-acre town park that would have been served by the proposed north side sidewalk.

The Main Street Project Committee, working with engineers Kent & Frost Associates of Mystic, last March recommended the continuous north side sidewalk as part of the Main Street East plan to reconstruct 1,800 feet of Main Street from the intersection with Middlesex Avenue (Route 154) west to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. The plan drew a mixed response at an April 22 public information meeting, with some residents objecting to removal of two mature maple trees along the section of street, while others agreed a sidewalk was necessary, particularly if the town pursues construction of a new library at North Quarter Park.

The plan also drew strong objections from Jeff and Comer Gates, property owners at 137 Main Street, who contended the sidewalk would be too close to the front of their house. The board of selectmen later endorsed the plan with the north side sidewalk, and directed engineers to prepare design plans that included it. Officials were hoping to put the project out to bid this winter.

But earlier this fall, selectmen learned the total cost of the project would be about $1.3 million, exceeding the approximately $1,154,000 in available funding that included  $780,000 in state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants, and $374,000 in set aside town capital funds. Engineers were reviewing the plans for possible cost savings as the board of selectmen last week scheduled a Dec. 9 town meeting to vote on authorizing a release of the $374,000 in set aside town funds for the project. The Gates’s continued to oppose the plan, posting a large sign on the front of their property calling for removal of the continuous north side sidewalk to save money.The board of finance at a Nov. 20 meeting expressed concerns about the approximate $150,000 funding gap, and tabled a any decision on authorizing release of the town funds.

As the Main Street Project Committee convened Tuesday evening, Chairman Michael Joplin announced that he would recommend scaling back the project to include only the area from the intersection with School Lane west to the parking area at the entrance to Laurel Hill Cemetery, deferring any work east of School Lane including a continuous north side sidewalk. Joplin said the reluctance of the finance board top approve release of the town funding indicated the plan could face opposition, and possible rejection, by voters at the Dec. 9 town meeting. He said a town meeting defeat could jeopardize the state grant funding that is needed for the project.

Other committee members, and First Selectman Edmund Meehan, reluctantly agreed. Meehan said the plans for a continuous north side sidewalk could be “pulled off the shelf,” and revisited when the town is closer to completing final plans for a new library at North Quarter Park. The committee later voted to direct project engineers to revise the plans to focus on the segment west of School Lane, along with some limited, and possibly temporary, improvements to roadway from School Lane east to Route 154.

Meehan said Wednesday the board of selectmen would discuss the Main Street East Project, and the proposed new library, further at its Dec. 2 meeting. The selectmen over the summer appointed a library building committee that has hired a Pawtucket, R.I. firm, Lerner, Lads & Bartells, to prepare preliminary plans for a new 5,600-square-foot library on the front section of North Quarter Park.

Meehan said the terms of the $1 million grant require the town to approve full funding for a library project within three years. He said the grant is only expected to cover about a quarter of the total cost for a new library, with an authorization of town bonding funds and private fundraising expected to be needed for the plan for a new library to move forward.

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LVVS Has an Affordable Gift Idea

In the spirit of affordable giving, Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc. is having a “Fill a Bag for a Buck” December book promotion on specially selected books. The LVVS bookstore has a large variety of hardcover, paperback, and children’s books that include selections by well-known authors and topics such as gardening, crafts, and religion. Buy a bag full and fill a basket or stocking for a special reader or favorite teacher in your life.

LVVS is located on the lower level of the Westbrook Library, 61 Goodspeed Drive.

Book sale hours are Monday-Thursday, 9-2:00 and the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, 10:00AM-Noon.

Visit www.vsliteracy.org or call at 860-399-0280.  All book sales, promotion or otherwise, benefit the LVVS tutoring programs in English as a Second Language or Basic Reading.

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Essex Meadows Donates $200,000 to Help Acquire The Preserve

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ESSEX — The Essex Meadows senior living community has recently contributed $200,000 to help acquire for public use a privately owned, 1,000 acre tract of open land, which is known as The Preserve.  The owners of the community, Essex Meadows Properties, Inc., headed by Chairman of the board and CEO, Fred W. Weitz, donated $100,000 and the community’s residents and staff matched the owners’ contribution with another $100,000.  Essex Meadows is a senior retirement community in Essex, Connecticut. The Preserve property is principally located in the Town of Old Saybrook, with seventy of its acres in Essex, and four in Westbrook.

The land for The Preserve is, reportedly, the largest parcel of vacant, “coastal forest” between New York City and Boston. A small portion of The Preserve borders Essex Meadows’ property.

The Land of the Preserve

The Preserve land consists of heavily forested land in some areas and open land in others. The property has 38 vernal pools, and 114 acres of wetlands, within its boundaries. In addition, the land serves as a “rest stop” for migratory birds, making their migratory journeys north and south.

If the present fundraising efforts to purchase the land for The Preserve are successful, 1,000 acres of open, recreational space will be saved for the use of present and future generations.

The purchase price of the land for The Preserve is $10 million. To date, the State of Connecticut has pledged $3 million, the Town of Old Saybrook by referendum has approved $3 million and the Town of Essex has approved a contribution of $200,000. The remaining monies for the purchase of the Preserve property are being raised from private and public donors by the Essex Land Trust and other organizations.

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Letter from Paris: New European Union Commission Leadership Faces Rocky Road

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

On Nov. 1, following the mandate of Manual Barroso (2009-2014) from Portugal, the 12th Commission of the European Union (EU) moved into its headquarters at the Berlaymont  in Brussels.

The selection process of the Commission – the key institution of the EU and a formidable machine employing 25,000 persons – has greatly changed since its beginnings in 1951.  The mandate was shortened from nine years to five ;  whereas the president of the Commission used to be designated by the Council of Ministers (equivalent to the present European Council), he (or she) )  is now elected by the Parliament.  A major turn in the composition of the Commission took place in 2004 with the addition of 10 new members from Central and Eastern Europe.  The present rule assigning one commissioner per country creates an odd situation: Malta, with a population of 400,000, has the same representation as Germany with a population of 82 millions.

Jean-Claude Juncker from Luxemburg, a member of the European People’s Party, was elected by the Parliament with 422 votes out of 751 as the new president of the Commission.  Angela Merkel strongly supported him.  Linguistically and culturally he stands half way between France and Germany – a real asset for the most important official of the EU.

Upon his return from the G20 summit meeting in Brisbane, Australia, in mid November, Juncker had to face the “Luxleaks” crisis exposed by the press.  Forty international newspapers, including Le Monde, the Guardian and the Suddentsche Zeitung, investigated the tax breaks granted by Luxemburg to 340 multinationals, like Google, Apple or Amazon.  Yuncker’s critics said that, while he was serving as prime minister and minister of finances, Luxemburg became the leading tax haven of Europe.  To put an end to these practices, the “rulings” – holding companies and other devices used for tax “optimization” – were suspended.  As the new president of the Commission, Yuncker reaffirmed his commitment to fight tax evasion.

The post of commissioner of economy and budget was given to Pierre Moscovici, the former French minister of economy. The choice seems ironic since France almost flunked the rule imposed by the Pact of Stability and Growth requiring a deficit of 3 percent of the GDP (France’s deficit has reached 4.4 percent)

The new High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs is Federica Mogherini , 41,  a diplomat with an impressive record.  Her intention to improve relations with Russia was not appreciated by some of the Eastern European countries.

Tibor Navracsics, a former minister with the ultra conservative Hungarian government was to become commissioner of culture, but his nomination was voted down by the Parliament.

It is a tumultuous time for the new team of the EU.  In the guidelines he presented to the plenary session of the Parliament in July 2014, Jean-Claude Yuncker set his priorities as follows: a plan of public and private investment of 300 billion over three years to stimulate the economy, harmonizing budgetary policies of the member states and coping with the explosive surge of refugees.

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter.  She writes 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 covers 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 Garden Club Decorates Essex for the Holidays

EGC XMAS 2014 cropped

In preparation for the holidays, the Essex Garden Club members have decorated merchant window boxes and tubs of the villages of Essex as well as the town park gazebo on Main Street.  Using a variety of evergreen cuttings from members and other generous donors from the community, designers helped the town put on a festive face for the upcoming “Trees in the Rigging” on Sunday November 30 as well as the Holiday Stroll on December 6.  The “Silent Policeman” this year was transformed into a tribute to the late Oscar de la Renta, famed haute courtier known for his ruffles and flowing trains.  This year’s creation features an elegant skirt, bodice complete with corsage, topped by a lighted headdress, and was created by Dee Dee Charnok, Gay Thorn, and Sandy Meister, pictured here.

Special thanks go to Goody LeLash and Bette Taylor for organizing the decorating done by the members, and to David Caroline for seeing that the lights were turned on.

The Essex Garden Club extends its best wishes to all the residents of Essex, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton for a healthy, happy holiday.

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Letter: A Nature Preserve Preserves All Living Creatures

To The Editor:

The Viney Hill Brook Nature Preserve is just that, a nature preserve. A nature preserve preserves all living creatures, especially those creatures that are indigenous to the area and benefit the ecosystem.

Beavers benefit our area in many ways. Look it up, it’s so easy with the world of Google. See for yourself.

Please, put Dec. 4, 7:30 on your calendar as a priority event to attend the Essex Conservation Commission’s meeting and let your voice be heard. It counts!

The Beaver family has received a stay of execution until Dec. 5. We can change this inhuman, backward thinking and irresponsible act of murder.  The Essex Conservation Commission has apparently not read their charge which is preserve not to kill.

Sincerely,

David Dorrance
Essex

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Letter: Find Non-Kill Alternative for Beaver Issue

To the Editor:

The Conservation Commission of Essex currently plans to trap and drown a family of beavers at Viney Hill Brook Park.  There is considerable science that beavers are a vital part of our ecosystem and beneficial to our environment.  Where there are issues, there are also solutions that do not involve killing the animals, have proven successful at least 90% of the time, and cost less than the current plan to trap and drown.

The commissioners will assert that there is no direct cost to the town, but that is only because they have engaged a trapper who derives his bounty from the sale of the animals’ pelts.

If you agree that non-kill alternatives should be considered, please attend the Conservation Commission’s meeting at Town Hall on Thursday, December 4 to make your voice heard.

Sincerely,

Candace W. Konrad
Essex

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Essex Republican Town Committee Supports Capital Project Bonding

elephant_party_republicanESSEX – The Essex Republican Town Committee supports the proposed bonding of $8.085 million for needed capital projects in Essex and encourages residents of Essex to vote in favor of the authorization at the referendum on December 15.

“The Essex Republican Town Committee appreciates the work of Capital Projects Building Committee members Bruce Glowac, Leigh Ann Rankin and Kelly Sterner.  We trust and respect their thorough research and reasoning and thank them for their service to the town,” said newly appointed Republican Town Committee Chair, Bruce MacMillian.  “We also feel strongly that the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance consider using some of the $2.9 million in the undesignated fund balance to reduce our bond obligation where appropriate.”

The Republican Town Committee encourages all Essex residents to exercise their rights and participate in town government by voting in the referendum on Monday, December 15 from 6am-8pm at Town Hall.

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Essex Conservation Commission Considers Lethal Trapping of Beavers at Town Park – Meeting Dec. 4

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ESSEX— The conservation commission will discuss possible lethal trapping of beavers in a pond at Viney Brook Park at its next regular meeting on Dec. 4. The meeting is set for 7:30. PM at town hall.

The appointed commission, which supervises town open space land, had already voted unanimously at a Nov. 6 meeting to pursue the trapping with a state licensed trapper that had worked with the commission previously. But word of the plan to allow lethal trapping of the beavers has drawn objections from some residents, including several residents who expressed their opposition at the Nov. 19 meeting of the board of selectmen.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the commission has decided to receive public comment on the plan at the Dec. 4 meeting, and then vote again on whether to authorize the trapping. The panel is concerned that a beaver lodge in one of the ponds in the 90-acre park is leading to damage to trees and a trail. The commission had previously authorized lethal trapping of beavers at the park in March 2011, a decision that also generated objections from some residents.

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Letter: Beaver Policy is Short-Sighted

To the Editor:

I am writing as a concerned citizen of Essex and a daily walker in Viney Hill Preserve.  I felt 2 1/2 years ago and continue to feel that the “Beaver Control” policy of this “Preserve” is short-sighted and antithetical to the stated mission statement of the Preserve.

I say short sighted because 2 1/2 years ago, after the last Beaver Kill, a group of residents presented the Commission with a report and an alternative avenue for “Preservation” at No Cost To The Town.  Apparently, this was never investigated or pursed.  Rather than address what is obviously going to be a continuing saga, the Commission is again pursuing a kill policy.

I feel as a “Conservation Commission” they should, at the very least have investigated alternatives.  It is my hope that it is not too late to change this destructive course of action.

Sincerely,

Carol Richmond
Essex

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Letter: Beaver Keystone Species in Ecosystem

To the Editor:

As a resident of Essex, it has come to my attention that a family of beavers in residence at Viney Brook Park is being threatened with “Lethal Entrapment”. This is death by drowning as sanctioned by the Essex Conservation Commission. This family of beavers lives within the confines of Essex Conservation Land.

It should be recognized that all species are important in an ecosystem, but keystone species like the beaver are especially vital in creating a habitat for wildlife. Conservation Commissioners are entrusted to be stewards of the environment. Their mission should be to preserve and protect the flora and fauna within our preserves and this includes the beaver!

Sincerely,
Joanne Deschler
Essex, CT

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Letter: Conservation Commission Sanctions Barbaric and Inhumane Tactics

To the Editor:

The conservation commissioners of the Town of Essex have sanctioned barbaric and inhumane tactics — lethal entrapment and drowning — to eradicate a family of beavers at Viney Brook Hill Park, a local conservation property entrusted to the commissioners for safekeeping. Acting without clear and irrefutable scientific evidence of material environmental damage, the commissioners decided on November 6 to engage a trapper to exterminate the beavers as still sanctioned by the Connecticut General Statutes.

The Humane Society of the United States, like other responsible mainstream animal and environmental conservation advocacy organizations, decries trapping and drowning as inhumane under any circumstance.

A group of concerned citizens has asked for a stay of execution on the beavers’ behalf, and has secured a conceptual proposal from a globally-recognized wildlife biologist who has successfully mitigated beaver damage in scores of cases throughout New England alone. For a sum of under $2,000, this expert will conduct a site assessment and develop a tailored animal-friendly beaver mitigation strategy including the use of baffles and other noninvasive mechanical equipment. The concerned citizens are willing to bear the expense themselves, to spare the Town of Essex any cost.

If your readers, like our family, value responsible animal-friendly environmental conservation, I encourage them to attend the Town of Essex Conservation Commission’s meeting on December 4 and to ask that the Commission:

(1) Rescind its November 6, 2014 decision to lethally exterminate beavers

(2) Present incontrovertible expert scientific evidence of material environmental impairment at Viney Brook Hill Park; and

(3) If environmental damage is confirmed, explore and adopt a non-lethal, humane conservation strategy that protects both the wetlands AND their animal inhabitants.

Without action, our local beaver family — and possibly, other unsuspecting wetlands mammals — will be in mortal danger as soon as December 5.

Sincerely,

Scott Konrad
Essex

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Letter: Ask for Beaver Reprieve

To the Editor:

While the competition for “Head Scratcher of the Year” is always stiff, I may have just encountered 2014’s winner.  

The Conservation Commission of the Town of Essex, established for “the purpose of protecting native plants and wildlife” has recently voted to exterminate a family of beaver at a town nature preserve.  Beaver are enjoying a renewed appreciation all around the Northern Hemisphere as they provide free eco-services to the habitat we all share. There are well established procedures for accommodating their presence.  The results are well worth the minimal attention these procedures require.  The Conservation Commission has been presented with these alternatives more than once yet more than once they have handed down their beaver death sentence.  After the residents of Essex are done scratching their heads about this, I urge them to contact Town Hall and ask for a Beaver Reprieve!

Sincerely,

Paul Leach
Essex

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Letter: Beavers – Set Example for Our Children

To the Editor:

As another former member of the conservation commission I want to add my voice to those seeking justice for the beaver family in Viney Brook park. I see no reason to trap and then kill by drowning such a useful and hard working family living as nature intended them to do. What harm to the park and the environment will be prevented to justify this senseless act? Let’s show mercy in this case and set an example for our children we can be proud of.

Sincerely,

Rick Silverberg
Essex

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Chester Main Street Bridge Reconstruction Expected to Begin 2016

CHESTER— State Department of Transportation officials reported Monday that a $3 million reconstruction of the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook is expected to begin in early 2016, with the bridge in the downtown village expected to be closed to vehicular traffic from mid-January to mid-May 2016. About 30 residents turned out at the Chester Meeting House Monday for a public information meeting on a project that is entirely funded by the state.

Project managers Andrew Fesenmeyer and David Stahnke presented the latest plans for replacement of the 1921 bridge that carries up to 3,600 vehicles per day. Town officials and residents were supportive of the project, which is expected to set the stage for completion of the final phase of a town sponsored Main Street improvement project that would begin after the new bridge is completed.

But DOT officials cautioned that any delays in securing permits for the project could delay a start of construction to 2017. Fesenmeyer said the project requires permits from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He said the permits must be approved by May to allow the project to be put out to bid for a start of construction late next year that would precede the five month bridge closing in 2016. First Selectman Edmund Meehan, along with several residents, said they want to be notified as soon as possible if the bridge closing is to be delayed until January 2017.

DOT has already accepted a construction schedule requested by the town that would limit any closing of the road and bridge to the winter and spring months to reduce disruption for Main Street businesses and annual events. Under the planned schedule, the bridge and road would reopen no later than May 22, 2016. The plan calls for work to be done between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m,. six days per week, with no night work.

The new bridge would be slightly longer and wider than the existing bridge, with a concrete deck and a roadway width of 37-feet. Plans call for preserving the existing stone abutments while reinforcing the abutments with concrete. There would also be improvements to a small section of Main Street and West Main Street (Route 148) in the vicinity of the bridge, including new sidewalk, granite curbing, a new crosswalk, added street trees, and an improved and wider turning radius from Route 148 on to Main Street.

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Letter: Essex Conservation Commission Please Rethink Beaver Plans

To the Editor:

Below is a copy of a letter I sent to the Essex Conservation Commission on November 15, 2014:

Dear Conservation Commission,

As a former member of the commission I have tried to stay informed about your ongoing work and in as much just read the minutes from the November 6th meeting  and I find it disturbing that after several years, the commission seems again to be choosing an inappropriate measure in dealing with the beavers.

Viney Hill Brook Park was purchased by the Town as a nature preserve, and all that inhabits the preserve should be just that – preserved.  There is ample research and many appropriate alternatives to killing.  Beavers are indigenous to Connecticut and deserve the same protection any other animal living at Viney Hill Brook Park is afforded.

Further, your potential actions are in direct conflict with the rules and regulations you publish  –from the Conservation Commission brochure about Viney Hill Brook Park:

Please observe and follow the posted guidelines:

PASSIVE RECREATION

The passive recreation area of the park, managed by the Essex Conservation Commission, is open to the public for walking and hiking. It is not a playground, hunting area, bike path or campground. The area is a place where people can enjoy native plants and animals without altering or…

The State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has published a fact sheet on their  website providing details, among other things, of the benefits of beaver communities and options to help alleviate problems caused by beavers.

I urge you to rethink your plans and use a better measure to work and live with the beavers of Viney Hill Brook Park.

Respectfully,

Susan Malan
Essex, CT

 

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Dec. 15 Referendum Set for Proposed $8.085 Million Bonding Authorization for Essex Capital Projects

ESSEX— Voters will go to the polls for an all-day referendum on Dec. 15 to act on a proposed $8,085,000 bonding authorization for town capital projects. The board of selectmen approved the bonding resolution question Wednesday after a public hearing where the plan drew general support from residents.

About 60 residents turned out for the public hearing on the capital projects plan that was developed over the past year by a three-member Capital Projects Building Committee led by Selectman Bruce Glowac. While there were several questions, no one spoke in direct opposition to any of the proposed building projects or the proposed $8 million bonding total. The cost estimates for each project were developed by CME Associates Inc. a Woodstock engineering fire retained by the town.
The bonding authorizations would be presented as five separate ballot questions for bridge projects, Essex Elementary School projects, town hall projects, public works garage projects, and a $600,000 authorization to purchase a new pumper fire truck for the volunteer fire department.

The largest projects, which had already been identified as priorities when the committee began its work, include replacement of the Walnut Street and Ivory Street bridges in the Ivoryton section for an estimated cost of  $2,845,000, and replacement of the elementary school roof for an estimated cost of $1.4 million. Four additional projects, including $600,000 for air conditioning the school building, would bring the total estimated cost for elementary school projects to $2,815,000. The Walnut Street bridge replacement and the elementary school roof would be eligible for federal or state grant funding reimbursement of $2,055,000.  The funding reimbursement would reduce the total cost borne by town taxpayers to $6,030,000, though the bonding authorizations must be for the total project cost amounts.

The six improvement projects at town hall have an estimated cost of $1.3 million, including $500,000 to renovate land use offices, $200,000 for roof replacement, and $200,000 for air conditioning the building that was first constructed as a high school in the 1890s. Four projects at the town public works garage have an estimated cost of $525,000 including $109,000 for roof replacement and $264,000 for a two bay addition that would provide space for equipment storage.

Glowac acknowledged the proposed $8 million in bonding is ” a big number,” but maintained all of the projects are “real needs as opposed to wants,” that would address town and elementary school capital improvement issues for the next 20 years, which would also be the term of the bonds. He said all of the cost estimates represent  “worst case” projections with the actual amount to be bonded likely to be less than the requested authorizations. First Selectmen Norman Needleman said selectmen and the finance board may decide to pay for some of the smaller projects with transfers from the town’s $2.9 million undesignated fund balance, without the need for bonding.

Finance Director Kelly Sterner said the town expects to use bond anticipation notes, which have a one-year maturity, for some of the initial projects, such as the bridges. Most of the bonds would be issued in late 2016 or early 2017. The highest year for debt service is expected to be 2017-2018, when debt payments would add about 0.49 mills to the property tax rate that is currently set at 21.99 mills, or $21.99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Sterner said the 0.49 mills in 2017-2018 would represent about $147 in additional tax for a property assessed at $300,000. Debt service costs would begin dropping in 2020-2021, falling more steeply around 2027 leading to a final pay off in the 2036-2037 fiscal year.

The bonding resolutions will be presented for further discussion, but not amendment from the floor, at a Dec. 3 town meeting that begins at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall. The Dec. 15 referendum would be conducted from 6 a.m.  to 8 p.m.

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Region 4 School Employees Union Supports Shoreline Soup Kitchen

l-r: Roberta Price; Coral Rawn; Shirley Rutan; and Kim Johns.

l-r: Roberta Price; Coral Rawn; Shirley Rutan; and Kim Johns.

With the holiday season fast approaching, the members of AFSCME Local 1303-421, representing Region 4 School Employees, donated $500 to the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries.

Local 1303-421 President Coral Rawn and Secretary Kim Johns, along with union representative Roberta Price, recently presented the donation to Shirley Rutan, Coordinator for the Deep River Congregational Church meal site.

“We’re very grateful for the generosity of AFSCME Local 1303-421 members,” Rutan said. “Their contribution will go a long way.”

Rawn said union members decided to establish a Good and Welfare Committee for the purpose of making charitable donations. “It’s a good way for our union to give back and to support the communities where we live and work,” she said.

SSKP serves people in need in 11 shoreline communities, including the Region 4 town of Essex, Deep River and Chester. SSKP’s 5 meal pantries distribute groceries to over 500 families per week, giving each family 3.5 days of food per week, and their 8 meal sites serve over 200 meals to individuals per week.

“Hunger is a real issue throughout our communities,” Johns noted. “We’re pleased to be able to help a wonderful organization doing important work.”

Local 1303-421 represents more than 20 school employees, including network technicians, custodians, nurses and secretaries.

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Letter: Stand up for The Beavers

To the Editor:
It is beyond comprehension that the “Conservation Commission” would even think about destroying the natural habitat of Viney Brook Park in Essex by drowning a family of beavers! And I have to say I am disgusted to hear that this is not the first time this has happened. This makes no sense and is not at all like killing a poisonous snake in a populous area.
The beavers are only in their natural habitat…a place that you would think the “Conservation Commission” would want the natural lives of plants and animals to survive. Will they just keep killing every family that moves in? No doubt there will be more that come to live there.
Hopefully somehow this action will be stopped.
Sincerely,
Terri Temple
Essex, CT
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Letter: Believe in the Election Process

To the Editor:

It’s been two weeks since the election, and I’m sure most of you are done with politics, so I’ll keep this brief.  I want to first thank everyone for voting on November 4th, it is by far the most important and powerful thing that anyone can do in our lives.

This being my first time running for office, I learned so very much in what was a fairly short period of time.  There is truly quite a bit of work that goes into running for office, but it is worth every minute, every sweat, and every tear.  I met so many great people since jumping in the race in June, all of whom I now consider friends.  Listening to people’s thoughts and concerns, for me, was the best part of this race.  The 36th Assembly District has four beautiful towns, all of which I love.  Everyone that lives in Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam are truly the luckiest residents in Connecticut.

I encourage everyone to run for public office, especially younger people.  I guarantee that it is the best experience you will ever have in your life.  Please know that you can be a landscaper or former bartender and still run.  The most important qualifications that any candidate should have are their ideas, beliefs, and convictions.  This is what makes America such an awesome place to live, the opportunities are endless.

So again I thank all of you, it was the best decision I ever made to run for office and I am so happy that all of you were a part of it.  The best strength that we have is that when we work together, all of our lives become better than the day before.  Believe in the process, it works.

My very best to all of you,

Bob Siegrist
Former Candidate for the Connecticut House of Representatives
36th Assembly District

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State Police Investigate Bomb Threat at Valley Regional High School

DEEP RIVER— State police are investigating a bomb threat that was called in Monday to Valley Regional High School. The telephone threat was received around 12:45 p.m., with students and staff evacuated as police with bomb-detecting dogs searched the building. Students were transported to the nearby John Winthrop Middle School.

By 1:15 p.m. students and staff were allowed to return to the building after no explosives were detected. Minutes later, around 1:30 p.m. there was a bomb threat made to East Hampton High School that also prompted an evacuation and police search of the school building. Both incidents remain under investigation by police.

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Essex Annual Town Meeting Monday to Act on Board and Commission Appointments

ESSEX— Voters at the annual town meeting Monday will act on 20 board and commission appointments and two additional appropriations, along with acceptance of the annual town report for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. The meeting begins at 7 p,m., in the auditorium at town hall.

All of the appointments subject to town meeting confirmation Monday are incumbent members currently serving on the respective panels, with most of the appointments for three year terms. Voters will be asked to confirm  seven appointments to town land use commissions, including Alvin Wolfgram and William Reichenbach for the zoning commission, with Adrienne Forest as commission alternate, Thomas Danyliw for the planning commission, Fred Szufnarowski for the inland-wetlands commission, and William Veillette for zoning board of appeals, with Barbara Sarrantonio and Peter Decker as ZBA alternates

Voters will be asked to confirm appointment of Douglas Senn Robert Russo, and Anthony Mosa for the parks and recreation commission, and Walter Weigert for the harbor management commission, with Terry Stewart as harbor management commission alternate. Voters will be asked to confirm the appointment of David Winstead, Robert Laundy, and Edward Cook for the economic development commission, with Susan Malan and Mark Reeves for the water pollution control authority, with Alvin Wolfgram as WPCA alternate.

Voters will be asked to approve two supplemental appropriations for the 2013-2014 fiscal year that ended on June 30, including $21,431 for the town clerk’s office, and $68,653 for the highway department. The highway department overrun is for snow removal expenses last winter. Voters will also be asked to accept the annual town report for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

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State Dept. of Transportation Public Information Meeting on Chester Main Steet Bridge Replacement Project

CHESTER— The state department of Transportation will hold a public information meeting Monday on the latest plans for the replacement of the Main Street Bridge The session begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House on Liberty Street.

DOT is planning to replace the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook, with the latest information indicating that construction would begin in the spring of 2016.  DOT staff will be at the meeting to present the latest plans and construction schedule for the bridge project, with interested residents, business owners, and commuters invited to the session to learn about the project.

The town is planning a separate Main Street project for next year, reconstruction of the street from the intersection with Route 154 east to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery  Plans for additional reconstruction of Main Street through the downtown business district are expected to be done after the state completes the Main Street Bridge project.

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Something Strange Happened Lately in the Skies of France

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

Something strange happened lately in the skies of France:  drones were spotted over several nuclear plants, including one dangerously close to Paris in Nogent sur Seine. A few days later more drones flew over nuclear complexes.  A wave of anxiety gripped the public opinion.  Who was manipulating those machines?  Was the country under threat?

Greenpeace was immediately suspected of being the one to operate the unmanned contraptions.   As a pro-environmental watchdog this international association has a history of peaceful action against nuclear power.  In 2012 a paraglider had landed on a nuclear installation, to prove that the installation was not well protected.  In July 2013, 29 activists broke into Tricastin nuclear plant, in southern France.   Yannick Rousselet, head of the anti-nuclear Greenpeace campaign, appearing on television, vehemently denied any involvement this time.

If Greenpeace had nothing to do with it.  the question remained, who did?  A few days later , three individuals suspected of operating the drones, were arrested.  So, for now, the fear is defused. But it was a wake up call of a potential danger.

The most advanced drone technologies are found in Israel and the US..  To obtain the most accurate information I interviewed a French engineer who used to work with a German company manufacturing drones .  He told me that ten years ago all of them were built for military use, mostly for reconnaissance and surveillance.  They included the HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance); the MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance); tactical drones; portable drones for use in ground combat.  Israeli  Watchkeeper with sensors and camera can fire missiles and bombs from sometimes thousands of miles away.   To-day drones have become a necessity in wars taking place in huge territories such as Mali.

France is at the cutting-edge of research but lacks funds to develop its ideas.   As an example, Dassault designed the NEURON and produced one model whereas the American PREDATOR, built in 2010, has already flown one million hours.

European countries are catching up with drone technology. On November 5, François Hollande and David Cameron attended the signing of an agreement between Dassault Aviation and BAE Systems (British Aerospace and Marconi electronics Systems) for a new generation of drones.  Germany and Italy will be part of the project in the future.

To-day civilian drones exist in all sizes and degrees of complexity. Drones, called “insects” are so small that they can be held in the palm of the hand.  The  Chinese DJI Fantom , flies like an helicopter with quadrotors,  carries a remote camera and is very popular with the general public. Drones  have become invaluable at times of natural disasters, to test the strength of bridges, in mapping, archaeology and multiple other uses.

But they may be dangerous like causing the crash of commercial airplanes by getting into the reactors.  When a drone fell less than six feet from Angela Merkel, during her political campaign in September 2013 people realized that a drone was anything but a toy.

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Commission a Poem to Support ‘Reach Out and Read CT’

Tish Rabe

Tish Rabe

Tish Rabe, the best-selling author of over 160 children’s books including the popular Dr. Seuss, Cat In the Hat Learning Library, is partnering with Reach Out and Read Connecticut in support of their mission – to prepare disadvantaged children for academic success.  Rabe is generously donating her time and her talents to create customized poems that celebrate the special moments in life including anything from the birth of a child to a retirement.

These poems are available for the public to purchase for $50 with 100% of the proceeds going to Reach Out and Read Connecticut.  The poems are called “Magical Milestones” and can be purchased at https://www.crowdrise.com/magicalmilestones.  The partners hope to raise $10,000 during the holiday season.

“I’m having fun creating original poems for families that they can enjoy for years to come.” said Ms. Rabe, a resident of Mystic, CT.  “I am a passionate supporter of early childhood literacy and know how important it is to get a free book into the hands of every low-income child in Connecticut.  I am happy to do whatever I can to make that happen.”

Focusing on low-income families, Reach Out and Read is a national organization that partners with medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children as well as support healthy brain and social/emotional development.  Reach Out and Read is far more than a book give-a-way program.  By leveraging the unique relationship between parents and medical providers, the program is able to positively change parental behavior and increase parent involvement in their children’s lives – a critical lever linked to the educational, emotional, physical, and social health of children.

“The Reach Out and Read model provides parents with personalized, age-appropriate advice about books and reading at every well-child visit from 6 months to 5 years, along with the gift of a new developmentally and culturally appropriate books.  Books are used by the medical provider at the beginning of the visit during developmental surveillance, and as a vehicle to offer concrete guidance to parents.  Armed with this guidance, parents make reading aloud a part of their daily routines,” said Dr. Catherine Wiley, Connecticut Medical Director for Reach Out and Read Connecticut.

She continues, “Among the many anticipatory guidance items medical providers have on their checklist, Reach Out and Read has the best evidence base.  Reach Out and Read is the only anticipatory guidance activity proven to promote child development.  When you participate in Reach Out and Read, you address a critical need with a successful model.  Children served by Reach Out and Read are read to more often, have better expressive and receptive language skills and are better prepared for success in school.”  Dr. Wiley, who practices at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, brought Reach Out and Read to Connecticut in the early 90’s and continues to champion the program.

“We are thrilled to be working with Rabe on this new endeavor and to have her as part of our Connecticut Advisory Board,” said Christine Garber, Connecticut Executive Director for Reach Out and Read.  “Her “Love You, Hug You, Read to You” book is fabulous and has been well received by our medical providers and families.  We are privileged to have such a creative and enthusiastic person supporting our mission.”

There are 70 Reach Out and Read programs throughout Connecticut predominately at community health centers, clinics and hospitals.  Their team of nearly 300 medical providers distribute close to 70,000 new children’s books each year.  Nearly 40,000 children and families receive the Reach Out and Read model in Connecticut.

“Research shows that if you partner with parents and intervene in the first five years of life, you can dramatically improve the early literacy skills of a child, putting them on the track for success in school and in life,” said Garber.  “Childhood development experts tell us that the most important thing that parents can do to prepare their children to succeed in school is to read aloud to them every day. “

The Reach Out and Read model is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the program has one of the strongest records of research support of any primary care intervention.  In a significant milestone earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a policy statement which, for the first time ever, formally recommends that pediatricians incorporate into every well-child visit both books and advice about reading, referencing Reach Out and Read as an effective intervention.  This is a significant step for both the organization and early literacy efforts.

Nationally, Reach Out and Read doctors and nurses distribute over 6.5 million books to more than 4 million children and their families annually at 5,000 pediatric practices, hospitals, clinics and health centers in all 50 states.  More than 20,000 medical providers nationwide currently participate in Reach Out and Read.

For more information, visit www.reachoutandread.org/connecticut and www.tishrabe.com.

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Letter: Let the Beavers Stay

To the Editor:
Today I read a letter to the Editor pleading for the case of some recent immigrants to our village who are threatened with eviction, deportation, or maybe even decapitation. One shudders to think such treatment would ever be dealt to any who choose Essex as their home. Yet that’s what some newly arrived beavers face as the forces of normalcy and order are marshaled against them. I must say I am on the side of the writer and of the beavers. There are many well-intentioned folks who say we must preserve nature the way it is. Well, beavers are a vital and interesting part of that nature. I’m sure the Parks & Recreation Department can spare a few trees at Viney Hill. Who knows, the village may have just acquired a new “official mascot”. I say, let them stay!
Sincerely
Steve Haines,
Essex
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Glastonbury Firm Buys Assets of Chester Insurance Business

Smith Brothers Insurance, in Glastonbury, announced this week it has bought the assets of Archambault Insurance, Inc. and its related parties, of Chester, Connecticut. Archambault is a multi-generational insurance agency that has insured Connecticut families and businesses for over 100 years. Archambault Insurance will remain in Chester with its current staff.

“Ray and Tom Archambault have a terrific reputation for building long-term relationships with businesses and families in the Chester area, and going the extra mile to provide excellent service for their clients; which matches our way of doing business at Smith Brothers. Chester is a great community and there is a lot we can offer their clients”, stated Joe B. Smith, President & CEO of Smith Brothers.

Ray and Tom Archambault will continue to manage the Chester office and will work with Smith Brothers to expand their service offerings to their clients. “We have already began introducing the additional value that Smith Brothers can bring to our clients. We are excited to continue our tradition in Chester and look forward to working with the people at Smith Brothers” stated Ray Archambault. Tom Archambault added, “the culture at Smith Brothers fits our culture very well, and that was very important to Ray and I as well as our team”.

About Smith Brothers Insurance, LLC

Smith Brothers is one of the largest independently operated insurance and financial service organizations in New England.

For over 40 years their core values remain consistent: develop, nurture and maintain trust and respect with all stakeholders: clients, suppliers, employees, shareholders, and community. Smith Brothers’ guiding principles are to build strong relationships with   well-regarded carriers and provide clients with a level of service higher than industry standards, so clients know that they have an advocate, and their assets are protected.

Smith Brothers provides insurance, surety, risk management, employee benefits, and financial services to individuals and businesses. Smith Brothers is a member of Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, one of the most respected independent agency affiliations.

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Letter: Allow the New Beaver Family to Live in Essex

To the Editor:

Beavers. They are back at Viney Brook Park in Essex.  Beavers have been found to provide a number of benefits to an area; they improve water quality, they create critical habitats for plants and animals, and their dams control flooding by slowing water flows.  They mate for life and usually defend their territories from outsiders, keeping their own population under control in accordance with the amount of available food.

The last family of beavers was drowned by order of the Conservation Commission. They were trapped in underwater cages where they held their breath for about ten minutes, unable to escape the cages that held them.  But a new family has moved in.  It’s a beautiful spot, ironically a conservation area.  The beavers like the small pond, quite a distance from the larger pond that is a swimming hole.

Other towns, all over the country, have learned to exist with beaver ponds in their midst. They have learned how to mitigate the damage that beavers might cause to trees.  They have benefited from cleaner water, more bird species, and a healthier environment.

That won’t happen in Essex.  The new family will be drowned. Their pelts will be sold. Two or three years from now, a new family will move in.  It’s a shame we can’t learn from other towns that have figured out how to coexist with these magnificent creatures.

Sincerely,

John Ackermann
Essex

 

See related letter

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Fifth Annual CMS Champions Recipients Honored

Burgess.Herrle

CMS Champion Ken Burgess with faculty member and presenter Martha Herrle. Photo courtesy of Joan Levy Hepburn

More than 60 friends and supporters joined Community Music School for the 5th annual CMS Champions Awards and Donor Recognition Breakfast on Wednesday, October 29th at The Copper Beech Inn. This year’s honorees included retiring luthier Kenneth Burgess of Old Saybrook, former CMS Trustee E. Peter Bierrie of Essex, and the TJX Foundation and local TJ Maxx Stores. CMS presents the Champions Awards to those who have supported the School and its mission over the past 31 years and who strive to improve our community through the arts.

Ken Burgess is an amateur violinist who has been keeping CMS violin and viola students in tune for many years, donating his time to provide a free instrument clinic each fall. Peter Bierrie is a retired international CEO and former executive at SCORE who was enlisted in 2007 for help resolving a problem at the Music School. He ended up joining the board and served as finance chair and vice president until completing his term in 2012. The TJX Foundation has provided grant funds to support the Music School’s partnership with Region 4 Public Schools. Additionally, its local store associates have lent their talents as volunteers for the annual CMS gala benefit event.

For the second year, the event was generously sponsored by Essex Savings Bank and Essex Financial Services. “The Community Music School is a very special group of people dedicated to assisting children and adults alike in nurturing their love of music.  As a strong supporter of local organizations dedicated to improving our local communities, it is our pleasure and honor to support such a wonderful group,” stated Charles Cumello, President & CEO of Essex Financial Services.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30 year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so that they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives. For additional information, call 860-767-0026 or visit www.community-music-school.org.

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Essex Selectmen Set Nov. 19 Public Hearing on Proposed $8 Million Bonding for Capital Projects

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has scheduled a Nov. 19 public hearing on a plan for $8 million in bonding to fund capital improvement projects for town and school buildings, along with replacement of two bridges in the Ivoryton section. The hearing, which begins at 7 p.m., in the auditorium at town hall, will be followed by a regular meeting where the board may set the dates for a town meeting and subsequent December referendum to vote on the proposed bonding authorization.

The bonding plan was developed over the past year by a capital projects committee chaired by Selectman Bruce Glowac. The board of selectmen gave tentative approval for up to $8,085,000 in bonding last month, with the board of finance also voting preliminary approval after a presentation at an Oct. 16 meeting.

Plans discussed by the board at a Nov. 5 meeting call for the bonding resolution to be presented as five questions, with funding totals that are based on the latest cost estimates provided by engineers. The questions/authorizations include $2,845,000 for replacement of the Walnut and Ivory street bridges in Ivoryton, $2,815,000 for improvements at Essex Elementary School, including roof replacement, $1.3 million for improvements at town hall, $525,000 for improvements at the town public works garage, and $600,000 for a new fire truck.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said selectmen and the finance board could decided not to bond some projects on the list, particularly projects at town hall and the public works garage, even if an $8 million bonding authorization is approved by voters. Needleman said some smaller projects could be funded with surplus or set aside funds without the need for bonding.

Needleman said the bonding plan is still subject to change based on input received from residents at the Nov. 19 hearing.  Selectmen have agreed the top priorities of the capital projects are the two bridge replacement projects, which must be done in 2015, and the roof replacement for the elementary school. The bridge projects and most of the elementary school improvements would be eligible for federal/state funding reimbursement of about $2 million.

Selectmen are considering holding the town meeting on the bonding resolution, which would be for discussion only, on Dec. 3, with a tentative Dec. 15 date for a referendum vote on the bonding authorizations.

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Tunisian Election Outcome Offers Remarkable Example to Countries Dealing With Terrorism, Violence

TunisiaTunisia did it again!  This small country in North Africa was the one to start the Arab Spring in December 2010.  On Oct. 26 of this year, the parliamentary elections marked the return to some degree of normalcy after a difficult period of assassinations and violence.

The latest elections revealed a “collective intelligence,” to use the words of a French political scientist – the result of a well established civil society.  Instead of a single party hijacking the political scene, the people voted for several parties.  The liberal party Nidaa Taures won with 38 percent of the votes.  In order to reach a majority of 109 seats in the parliament, it is willing to form a coalition – quite unusual in this part of the world.

The Islamist party Ennahda secured second place with only 28 percent of the votes and 69 seats — or 16 seats less than in the previous election.  Wisely it  conceded defeat.  How to explain the resistance of the population to the Ennahda program?

The answer lies for a large part in the key role played by women.  They spearheaded the resistance against the strict enforcement of the Sharia or moral code, which limits their rights in many areas: inheritance, divorce, veil and regulations on clothing, custody of children, adultery sanctioned by stoning or “honor killing,” right to travel, right to open a bank account, and access to higher education, etc.

In the text of the constitution approved in January 2014,  Ennahda had reluctantly agreed to replace the expression “complementarity of men and women” by “equality for all.”  A journalist had the nerve to make the following extraordinary comment, “This was a small victory for a few Tunisian feminists”.

The “Personal Status Code,” which was installed by president Habib Bourguiba in 1956,  had given empowerment to Tunisian women, thus making them the most emancipated in the Arab world.  This revolution was at the center of his program in order to model his country on Kemal Ataturk’s vision of a secular  and modern country.  Incidentally, it is interesting to note that both Turkey and Tunisia have almost identical flags.  Bourguiba is said to have remarked at one time, “… the veil – that odious rag.”

Tunisia can be considered to-day as a bulwark between a dangerously chaotic Libya and an Algeria unable to control terrorism (on Oct.14, a  Frenchman visiting the rugged mountainous area south of Algiers, in order to train young Algerians to become mountain guides, was taken hostage and  beheaded two days later.)   In other words, Tunis is of great importance not only as a model of democratic process coexisting with a moderate Islam but also, one hopes, as an oasis of stability for the whole area.

HeadshotAbout the author:  Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter.  She writes 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 covers 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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Ivoryton Village Project Draws Support and Some Questions at Public Hearing

ESSEX— A grant-funded improvement project for Main Street in Ivoryton village drew support and some questions from residents at a public hearing Wednesday. About 30 residents turned out to learn details and discuss the project that is funded by a $435,000 state Main Streets Investment Fund grant that was awarded in the summer of 2013.

The plan prepared by Anchor Engineering Services of Glastonbury drew general support, but several residents questioned the inclusion of two raised crosswalks that would be located on the east end of the village, near the intersection with North Main St. (Route 80), and to the west near the intersection of Main and Summit streets.

Project engineer Kevin Brendel said the raised crosswalks would be more accessible for the handicapped and would further a project goal of slowing traffic through the village area. But one resident contended the raised crosswalks would be “gridlock waiting to happen,” particularly when buses are dropping off patrons for the Ivoryton Playhouse. There were also questions about whether the raised crosswalks would hamper winter snow removal.

Selectwoman Stacia Libby, who is chairing a volunteer committee coordinating the project, said public works employees and the town engineer would be consulted to ensure the crosswalks would not interfere with snow removal. Jacqueline Hubbard, executive director of the playhouse, said buses do not discharge passengers on Main Street where the crosswalk would be located, but rather from Summit Street or the private parking lot on the south side of Main Street. But First Selectman Norman Needleman said he is not completely sold on the idea of raised crosswalks as part of the project.

Other elements of the project drew general support, including plans to remove a paved island at the intersection of Main and Summit streets to create a T shaped intersection, new lighting at the back section of the Ivoryton Park, new curbing, and about 400 feet of new sidewalk in front of the playhouse property and around the park,

Libby said the committee and project engineer would consider input received at the hearing and review the plans with a goal of putting the project out do bid in the early spring for a start of construction in May 2015.

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Republican Art Linares Takes 57 Percent of Vote in Reelection Win Over Democrat Emily Bjornberg

AREAWIDE— Republican State Sen. Art Linares took 57 percent of the vote to win a second term Tuesday over Democrat Emily Bjornberg in the 12 town 33rd Senate District.Linares had 22,746 votes to 16,482, or 42 percent, for Bjornberg.2 The 6,264 vote margin is more than double the incumbent’s 2,562 vote victory over Democrat Jim Crawford in winning his first election in 2010.

Green Party nominee Colin Bennett had 484 votes, one of his lowest totals in four previous runs for the state senate seat. But the one percent of the total vote preserves the Green Party ballot line in the district for the 2016 election. Linares carried ten towns, with Bjornberg winning only in Chester and her hometown of Lyme.

Unofficial results gathered from town clerks are:

CHESTER— Bjornberg 798-Linares 724
CLINTON– LInares 2,693 Bjornberg 2,328
COLCHESTER– Linares 3,172 Bjornberg 2,312
DEEP RIVER– Linares 990 Bjornberg 915
EAST HADDAM– Linares 2,078 Bjornberg 1,455
EAST HAMPTON– Linares 3,153 Bjornberg 1,939
ESSEX– Linares 1,647 Bjornberg 1,504
HADDAM– Linares 1,946 Bjornberg 1,260
LYME– Bjornberg 636 Linares 539
PORTLAND–Linares 2,198 Bjornberg 1,680
OLD SAYBROOK—Linares 1,508 Bjornberg 1,184
WESTBROOK– Linares 1,687 Bjornberg 1.035

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Foley Takes Essex While Malloy Carries Chester and Deep River in Governor Race

AREAWIDE— Republican Tom Foley carried Essex in his unsuccessful run for governor, while Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy carried Chester and Deep River on his way to re-election for a second term

In Essex, the Foley-Sommers ticket led 1,600-1,576.  Malloy carried Deep River 1,003-917, and Chester 907-693. Petition candidate Joe Viosconti, who ran with Haddam Neck resident Chester Harris for lt. governor before withdrawing Sunday, had 30 votes in Essex, 21 in Deep River, and 22 in Chester.

Democratic incumbents carried the three towns in most other state races. Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill led Republican Peter Lumaj 1,588-1,471 in Essex, 994-817 in Deep River, and 919-588 in Chester. Green Party nominee Michael DeRosa had 52 votes in Essex, 61 votes in deep ruiver, and 53 votes in Chester. Democratic Attornmey general George Jepson carried the towns over Republican Kie Westby,1,747-1,300 in Essex, 1,079-726 in Deep River, and 1,010-503 in Chester. Democratic Comptroller Kevin Lembo led Republican Sharon McClaughlin 1,582-1,438 in Essex, 968-821 in Deep River, and 902-594 in Chester.

But in the extremely close race for state treasurer,Republican Tim Herbst carried Essex over incumbent Democratic Treasurer Denise Nappier 1,636-1,470. But Nappier took Deep River 946-916 and Chester 878-691.

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Connecticut River Gateway Commission Donates $5,000 To “The Preserve” Fund

Presentation of $5,000 to “The Preserve Fund” – Connecticut River Gateway Commission Chairman Melvin Woody presents a $5,000 contribution to The Preserve Fund to Kate Brown (center), Trust for Public Land Project Manager for “The Preserve” acquisition. On the far left is Commission Vice Chair Nancy Fischbach, and on the right are Commission Secretary Madge Fish & Treasurer Margaret (“Peggy”) Wilson.

Presentation of $5,000 to “The Preserve Fund” – Connecticut River Gateway Commission Chairman Melvin Woody presents a $5,000 contribution to The Preserve Fund to Kate Brown (center), Trust for Public Land Project Manager for “The Preserve” acquisition. On the far left is Commission Vice Chair Nancy Fischbach, and on the right are Commission Secretary Madge Fish & Treasurer Margaret (“Peggy”) Wilson.

The Connecticut River Gateway Commission has contributed $5,000 to the Trust for Public Land Campaign to Preserve the 1,000 Acre Forest.

The donation will help ensure that the parcel known as The Preserve in Old Saybrook, Westbrook, and Essex will be permanently protected as forestland and wildlife habitat.

The Gateway Commission was established in 1973 to administer the Connecticut River Gateway Conservation Zone. Eight towns in the lower Connecticut Valley:  Chester, Deep River, East Haddam, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Lyme, and Old Saybrook joined together in a compact to create the Conservation Zone in order to protect the scenic, historic and environmental resources of the lower Connecticut River.

Although not within the Conservation Zone, The Preserve lies within the lower Connecticut River watershed. It is the last thousandacre coastal forest between New York and Boston and includes the headwaters of streams that flow into the Connecticut.

The Commission believes that its protection is important to the ecological health of the watershed and the river.

According to Gateway Commission Chairman Melvin Woody “The Gateway Commission is gratified to join in this vital preservation project.”

For more information about the Connecticut River Gateway Commission, go to www.ctrivergateway.org or contact J. H. Torrance Downes at (860) 581-8554, or email him at tdownes@rivercog.org.

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Letter: Disturbing Election Tactics

To the Editor:

During this past election cycle, a significant number of Democratic campaign signs disappeared in Essex. I find it disturbing and pathetic that certain persons would attempt to obstruct the political process by removing signs that were placed on private property with permission.  In view of the results of the recent elections, I hope that these persons have learned that removing signs is not an effective way to disrupt the election process.  In addition, I find it very disturbing that a significant number of the registered voters state-wide fail to exercise their right to vote.  For a democracy to work effectively, it is essential for our citizens to participate in the process by voting for their choice of candidates.

Sincerely,

Frank B. Hall
Essex, CT

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Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller Wins New Term in 36th House District

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

AREAWIDE— Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex has been re-elected for a new term in the 36th House District, defeating Republican challenger Robert Siegrist of Haddam on a 5,522-4,701 vote. Miller carried the district towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex, while losing Haddam to Siegrist.

The vote in Chester was Miller-971, Siegrist-625. In Deep River it was Miller,1065, Siegrist 816. For Essex, the vote was Miller-1,865, Siegrist-1,295. Siegrist carried Haddam with 1,965 votes to 1,621 votes for Miller.
Miller, who served as first selectman of Essex from 2012-2011, was elected in a  Feb. 2011 special election, and re-elected for a full term in 2012. Siegrist, a 31 year-old former bartender making his first run for public office, ran the strongest race of the previous opponents to Miller, losing to the incumbent by 821 votes.

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Democrat Terrance Lomme Wins Second Term as Nine-Town Judge of Probate

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme

AREAWIDE—  The contest for regional judge of probate was a replay of 2010, only closer, with Democratic Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme of Essex winning a second term over Republican challenger Anselmo Delia of Clinton. The unofficial result was Lomme-12,895, Delia-12,635.

The results from the nine towns in the district were similar to the contest between Lomme and Delia in 2010, the year local probate courts were consolidated in to a regional probate court located in Old Saybrook. Lomme carried the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme and Old Saybrook, while Delia carried the towns of Clinton, Haddam, Killingworth, and Westbrook.

Lomme won the 2010 race by 419 votes. But Tuesday’s result was closer, with a 260-vote margin, after a campaign where Delia, a Clinton lawyer, questioned Lomme’s decision to retain some private legal clients while serving in the judge position that has an annual salary of $122,000.

The town results are Chester:Lomme-985, Delie-544, Clinton: Lomme 2,069, Delia-2,755, Deep River: Lomme-1,060, Delie-761, Essex: Lomme-1,740, Delia-1,295, Haddam: Lomme-1,649, Delia-1,855, Killingworth: Lomme-1,291, Delia-1,440. Lyme: Lomme-629, Delia-508, Old Saybrook: Lomme-2,279, Delia-2,109, and Westbrook: Lomme 1,193, Delia-1,368.

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Republican State Senator Art Linares Elected for Second Term in 33rd District

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

AREAWIDE— Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook was re-elected to a second term Tuesday, defeating Democratic challenger Emily Bjornberg of Lyme by a decisive margin and carrying 10 of the 12 district towns.

Unofficial results showed Linares with 22,170 votes to 16,922 votes for Bjornberg. Green Party nominee Colin Bennett of Westbrook garnered about 150 votes. Bjornberg carried her hometown of Lyme, 636-539, and Chester, 829-708. But Linares carried the other ten towns by decisive margins, with the closest result in Deep River, Linares, 975, Bjornberg 897.  The result in Essex was Linares 1,647 to Bjornberg 1,504. Linares also carried the district towns of Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Portland, Westbrook, and Old Saybrook.
Bjornberg received the results while gathered with family members and supporters at the Democratic headquarters in Deep River. Bjornberg said she called Linares to concede when the result became clear around 9:20 p.m. “It was a good race but it was a tough year for Democrats in eastern Connecticut,” she said.
Linares appeared around 9:50 p.m. before a crowd of about 100 cheering supporters gathered in the ballroom at the Water’s Edge Resort in Westbrook., declaring that his victory, along with wins in state House races by Republicans Devin Carney in the 23rd District and Jesse McCLachlin in the 35th district represented ” a new generation of leadership.”
Linares also alluded to the sometimes harsh contest with Bjornberg. “We were attacked over and over again but the decent people of this district knew better,” he said. Linares, 26, also praised his 24-year-old brother Ryan Linares, who served as campaign manager. “He was the only campaign manager who actually lived with the candidate,” Linares said.
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Trees in the Rigging: Call for Decorated Boats

Essex’s annual TREES IN THE RIGGING holiday celebration features a parade of festively-lit and decorated boats on the waterfront at the Connecticut River Museum (photo courtesy of Anthony Reczek).

Essex’s annual TREES IN THE RIGGING holiday celebration features a parade of festively-lit and decorated boats on the waterfront at the Connecticut River Museum (photo courtesy of Anthony Reczek).

The Connecticut River Museum in partnership with the Essex Board of Trade and the Essex Historical Society invite boat owners to participate in the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade. Trees in the Rigging is a community carol sing and boat parade.  This year the event will take place on Sunday, November 30 beginning at 4:30pm.  A critical and crowed-pleasing part of this free community event is the parade of boats dressed in holiday lights that sail along Essex’s waterfront.

The decorated boats are part of a friendly competition.  A modest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize will be awarded to the best dressed boats. Winners will be invited to receive their prize and participate in a photo op on Monday, December 1 at 4:30 PM.

Registration is required to participate in the boat parade that usually begins around 5:15 PM from the south end of Essex Harbor. To register, send emails to: crm@ctrivermuseum.org. Information should include: Vessel name; Type of boat and description; Owner(s) name; Contact information (phone and preferred email); Decorating scheme (if known at time of registration). Registration must be received by Monday, November 24 at 4:30 pm.

Trees in the Rigging also includes a traditional, lantern-lit carol stroll down Essex’s Main Street where spectators are invited to bring their own lanterns or flashlights and join in with the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps and a parade of antique cars. Santa and his elves will arrive by one of the parade boats for visits with children on the lawn of the Connecticut River Museum.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm. For more information, call 860.767.8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

 

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Letter from Paris: Picasso in Paris – A New Museum Opens

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

After five years of over-budget restoration, the Picasso museum in Paris reopened on Oct. 25.  It was worth the wait — the new museum is spectacular.

I decided – like the rest of Paris, it seemed – to go to the opening.  The logistics to handle the thousands of visitors passing through the magnificent courtyard of the XVII century Hotel Salé  (thus nicknamed because the owner was a salt tax collector) in the Marais was the best I have ever seen in France.

The renovation has doubled the exhibition space.  The museum gives a feeling of openness thanks to the series of rooms opening onto the garden; wide thresholds and corridors facilitate the flow of visitors.  The classical architecture – grand stairs, loggia with arched windows and baroque haut-reliefs – coexist with modern minimalism.

The walls are stark white, allowing the creations of Picasso to literally explode.  The lighting of weathered bronze and white resin is imaginative, but discreet.  The upper level, which houses the private collection of the artist, was carved out from the original attic.  The enormous wooden beams constitute a stunning setting for Cezanne, Matisse, “Le Douanier” Rousseau (a nickname given to Rousseau related to his occupation as a toll collector), or artifacts from the South Pacific.  The exhibit spans the long life (1881-1973) of the artist.

At an early age in Malaga and la Corogne, Pablo Picasso showed his precocious talent.  His supportive father — an art teacher — acknowledging the genius of his son, put down his paint brushes in 1895 and never painted again.  In the first room of the museum, the portrait of “L’homme à la casquette” reveals  the virtuosity of the 14-year old.

picassomuseum-1

A self portrait, 1901, showing a middle-aged man (although Picasso himself was only 20 when he created the piece) belongs to his “Blue Period.”  A gaunt, almost emaciated acrobat  (1905) with elongated hands and sad eyes is part of the circus world which fascinated Picasso.  In 1906, he begins working on the Demoiselles d’Avignon.  Gertrude Stein, foresaw the importance of what was to be one the major works of the 20th century and bought most of the preparatory sketches of the unknown young artist.  The painting hangs today at MoMA in New York City.

A voyage to Italy in the early 1920s inspired Picasso to return to the classicism of ancient Rome.  In La Course, painted 1922 in surprisingly small dimensions, two gargantuan women run on the beach, their  heads touching the clouds.

Women – whether wives or mistresses – are his sources of inspiration:  Fernande, Olga, Dora Maar, Marie Therese, Françoise, Jacqueline – each of them represents a new start.  Picasso reinvents himself continuously and keeps experimenting with new techniques and media.

There is a recurrent theme of violence in his depictions of bullfights, wars and erotic scenes.  He deconstructs his models and reassembles them in a shamble of distorted strokes which have become his trademark.  Les Amoureux, 1918, is the most irreverent and humorous example.

Picasso’s sculptures – made of crude recycled material and always full of humor – are interspersed with the paintings, which gives the visit a lighter angle. In September 2015, an exhibit on “Picasso the sculptor” will take place at MoMA.

Nicole Prévost Logan headshot

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter.  She writes 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 covers 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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Volunteers Needed for Tax Preparation Assistance

Volunteers are needed for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to help low- to moderate-income households prepare and file their taxes to ensure they get back the money they have earned.

VITA is a national program of the IRS, and volunteers are trained and certified to ensure that working families and individuals are filing for all of the appropriate tax credits. The program also helps people avoid costly fees associated with tax preparation and rapid refund loans.

The program is looking for volunteers for two VITA sites located in downtown Middletown to provide free tax preparation assistance for eligible taxpayers. Tax preparation assistance is offered January 24–April 11, 2015 at the offices of Middlesex United Way and the North End Action Team.

No prior experience is necessary. Volunteers complete training and are certified by the IRS. Training will be held from January 5-8 or January 12-15, 2015 in the evening. Volunteers must attend consecutive evening sessions. You will be trained to let filers know if they qualify for additional tax credits, such as the federal and the state Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. VITA volunteers must complete a minimum of one 4-hour shift per week during tax season in the late afternoons and evenings or on Saturdays; maintain confidentiality of all client information; and interact with the public in a helpful and supportive manner. Opportunities to become certified as an advanced tax preparer for the VITA program are also available.

In 2014, the two VITA sites in Middletown helped more than 530 Middlesex County area residents file their taxes for free and returned $767,781 back to taxpayers. Those who filed with Middletown VITA sites had an average Adjusted Gross Income of $19,676 and received an average refund of $1,706, money they have earned. This impacts not only those who filed their taxes, but also their families and the local economy.

For more information about volunteering, contact David Morgan at dmorgan@wesleyan.edu or (860) 346-1522.

VITA is a free program offered by the federal government. Local VITA sites are coordinated by the Middlesex VITA Coalition, a partnership of Middlesex United Way and the North End Action Team. The Middlesex VITA Coalition receives support from the Connecticut Association of Human Services.

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