April 25, 2017

Archives for February 2015

Old Lyme Country Club Trial Memberships for 2015

Try Old Lyme Country Club (OLCC) for the 2015 Season and enjoy full use of a wide range of sports and social activities, including golf, tennis, swimming, dining and more.

“Absolutely convenient. No tee times.” That’s what OLCC golfers appreciate the most. This family-friendly, low-key course is easily accessible, but sporty and challenging!

“Absolutely convenient. No tee times.” That’s what OLCC golfers appreciate the most. This family-friendly, low-key course is easily accessible, but sporty and challenging!

A limited number of trial memberships are available for the 2015 Season. This plan offers affordable dues and no first year initiation fee.

The OLCC pool continues to be the best kept secret in the Shoreline area. The sparkling pool provides a wonderful variety of activities for adults and children, and the pool terrace is a favorite spot for relaxing, entertaining, socializing, partying and dining.

The OLCC pool continues to be the best kept secret in the Shoreline area. The sparkling pool provides a wonderful variety of activities for adults and children, and the pool terrace is a favorite spot for relaxing, entertaining, socializing, partying and dining.

To obtain all the details on this remarkable offer, email the membership office at admissions@oldlymecc.com or visit the membership page on the OLCC website at www.oldlymecc.com/Membership.aspx.

Members are involved in year-round racquet sports at the OLCC where there are four Har-Tru Tennis courts and two Platform Tennis courts to keep them active through the whole year.

Members are involved in year-round racquet sports at the OLCC where there are four Har-Tru Tennis courts and two Platform Tennis courts to keep them active through the whole year.

 

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Miller Backs Bill to Cap Monthly Fixed Charge on Electric Bills

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Philip Miller (D-Essex/Chester/Deep River/Haddam) is calling for approval of legislation that would cap the monthly fixed charge on residential electric bills.

Rep. Miller Tuesday submitted testimony in favor of S.B. 570, “An Act Concerning Electric Savings And Fixed Bill Fees”, a bill under consideration by the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee.

Rep. Miller emphasized he favors capping the monthly fixed charge on electric bills at ten dollars, saying it is fair and constant, not subject to change.

“Our recent utility hike on this fixed charge was done under the guise of investing to correct deferred maintenance,” Rep. Miller said. “I feel as though it was really a thinly veiled excuse to enrich utility shareholders.”

Lawmakers last year passed a public act that implemented several reforms to protect electric consumers. Included in the public act was a new provision that begins in July requiring that every residential customer’s monthly bill must display their rate for the coming month.

Rep. Miller contended that the providers should make the case for regular rate hikes as needed.

“Customers may practice conservation, including solar installation, among other emergent technologies, in efforts to reduce and limit their use, to save money,” Rep. Miller said. “Senate Bill 570 is a good bill and ought to pass.”

Rep. Miller is House Chair of the Planning and Development Committee.

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How to Raise a Drug-Free Child: Country School Holds Parenting Event, April 9

MADISON – The Country School presents How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: THE STRAIGHT DOPE FOR PARENTS, an evening of conversation with Dr. Joseph A. Califano, Jr. and Yale University psychiatry experts.

On April 9 at 6 p.m. in The Country School’s DeFrancis Gymnasium, join Dr. Califano, former US Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, founder of The National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), and author of the new completely revised and updated edition of How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents, as he provides insights on how to help get children through the dangerous decade from 10 to 21, those formative pre-teen, teen, and college years.

Topics covered will include: legalized and synthetic marijuana, social media, the prescription drug epidemic and abuse of ADHD medications, rampant drinking and drug use on college campuses, and the latest findings on the critical connection between teen brain development and substance use.

Dr. Califano’s talk will be followed by a panel discussion and Q & A session with Yale psychiatry experts, including his daughter, Claudia Califano, MD, Adolescent and Child Psychiatrist, Assistant Clinical Professor at the Yale Child Study Center, and a Country School parent; Joseph L. Woolston, MD, Albert J. Solnit Professor of Pediatrics and Child Psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center; and Greer Richardson, MD Psychiatrist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University.

The panel will be moderated by Samuel A. Ball, PhD, President and CEO of The National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) and Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine.

This event, part of The Country School’s Teacher Institute-Partnering With Parents Initiative, is supported by M.A.D.E. in Madison (www.madeinmadison.org), a coalition of community members striving to promote positive youth development. The evening is free and open to the public, but all attendees are asked to RSVP ahead of time.

Email beth.coyne@thecountryschool.org by April 2, 2015, with your name and the number of guests joining you (limit four people per RSVP). All attendees will receive a copy of Dr. Califano’s book. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

The Country School thanks Dr. Califano, the panelists and moderator, and M.A.D.E. in Madison for partnering with the school in the search to improve lives through education. Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent day school serving students in PreSchool through Grade 8 on its 23-acre campus. The Country School is located at 341 Opening Hill Road in Madison. Learn more at www.thecountryschool.org.

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Legal News You Can Use: The Do’s and Don’ts of a “Good” Divorce

Divorce_photoWe are delighted to introduce a new column today, which will be a monthly feature written by attorneys at Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law in New London. This month’s column discusses ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of a “Good” Divorce’ and is written by Attorney Robert G. Tukey. He is a Director at Suisman Shapiro whose practice concentrates in family law.

The Do’s and Don’ts of a “Good” Divorce

Unfortunately, more than 40 percent of marriages in the U.S. will end in divorce. Divorce can be financially and emotionally devastating and especially stressful for children involved.
If you are faced with the prospect of divorce, it is in your family’s best interest to approach it from an amicable perspective. As many divorced couples understand, it is possible to have a healthy breakup and start a new life.

Do be respectful and maintain a cordial relationship with your spouse. Try to keep the lines of communication open. Be reasonable about expectations, and cooperate with your spouse to achieve the best results for your family.

Do put your kids first, and ensure they know they are not the cause of the divorce. Make sure you and your spouse send a consistent and coordinated message to your children.

Do get professional counseling if needed, for yourself and your children.

Do document everything. Understand your assets and liabilities. Get appraisals, and make copies of important documents.

Don’t draw your children into your arguments, and never question them about your spouse’s activities. Always be respectful of your spouse in front of the children, and remember the Golden Rule: if you do not have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Kids do better when they maintain close relationships with both parents.

Don’t violate custody or visitation agreements, including the Automatic Orders that attach to every divorce. These Automatic Orders include not taking the child(ren) out of state without written permission or consent from the other party, maintaining an open line of communication between the child(ren) and the non-custodial parent, maintaining the child(ren) on any existing medical coverage, and completion of the Parenting Education Program for the benefit of the child(ren).

Don’t attempt to shield property or assets from your spouse. All items of value must be disclosed. Your credibility is your most important attribute, which cannot be restored should untruthfulness be exposed during the divorce process.

Do hire an experienced attorney. Beware of online divorce websites, which promote do-it-yourself divorce as a cheap and easy alternative to working with an attorney. While the Internet can be a good resource for information, you can also receive bad advice online.

There are many nuances in divorce and custody cases that make “cookie cutter” divorce kits inappropriate. It’s very important to protect your interests by hiring a knowledgeable attorney, because there are numerous things that cannot be changed after final judgment.

Do explore your options regarding alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration. In addition to facing the emotional trauma of separating a family unit, the process of dividing years of accumulated assets can be complicated and overwhelming. Divorce through the Connecticut State Court can take months, or even years, of time-consuming and expensive Court appearances.

The process of mediation is an attempt to resolve disputes outside of Court with the help of a neutral third party who can achieve a common ground and a mutually agreeable resolution. If the parties are unable to reach consensus, arbitration allows the parties to efficiently present their respective positions to an impartial, neutral third party decision-maker, similar to a trial judge, called an Arbitrator.

Through arbitration couples have much more control over scheduling and privacy. Both spouses and their attorneys agree on the Arbitrator, hearing time, and location. They also approve the rules and procedures ahead of time. The Arbitrator’s decision is binding, so appeals rarely become an issue in the future. The proceedings can be completely confidential and only the final decision will be approved and filed with the court.

Attorney Robert G. Tukey is a Director at Suisman Shapiro whose practice concentrates in family law. Contact him via email at rtukey@sswbgg.com or via phone at (860)442-4416 with questions regarding divorce and custody matters.

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Letter from Paris: ‘Loi Macron’ Indicates a Sea Change in French Politics

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

In January 2015, in a forceful declaration, French president François Hollande officially announced a break with the Socialist program, which had been the basis of his 2012 presidential campaign. It was a sharp turn toward a more liberal, market-oriented policy. The Loi Macron, named after the young (33-year-old) Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron, was to embody the new trend.

Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron

Expecting that the law would not pass, the government decided to use a joker – the article 49.3. It was a gamble since, in the event that the motion de censure (vote of no confidence) of the opposition succeeded, the government of Manuel Valls would be disavowed and fall. But the motion de censure received only 234 votes when it needed the absolute majority of 289. The law passed.

The article 49.3 is included in the constitution of the Fifth Republic. It allows the government to act in force to push a text through the Parliament without the need of a vote. It is a powerful but dangerous device. It has been used 82 times since 1958.

The last time was in 2006 when Dominique de Villepin, under the presidency of Jacques Chirac, tried to promote the Contrat Premiere Embauche, or CPE (first hiring contract). The students demonstrated in the streets. Shortly thereafter the CPE received national funerals. The champion of article 49.3 was Michel Rocard who in the late 1980s used it 28 times.

After 200 hours of consultations and 1,500 amendments granted by the government, it looked as though each article had been accepted separately. And yet, by the time of the final vote on Feb. 17, the far right (Front National), the far left (Front de Gauche), most of the right (UMP), and the 40 Frondeurs, or splinter group from within the Socialist party, joined in an alliance to put road blocks to stop the government’s proposal. Manuel Valls and Emmanuel Macron made their concluding speeches among jeers and interruptions. On the face of many deputies could be seen a rather despicable sarcasm.

In fact, the manoeuvre of the government deserves to be applauded since, to push a text in force, was the only way for the Executive to succeed. The Loi Macron reperesents an enormous task attempting to reform the fabric of French society. It meant dismantling the century-old system of privileges and protected niches enjoyed by whole segments of the population, including the five million civil servants, known as notaires — in France, notaires are a specific type of French attorneys overseeing all legal transaction while collecting taxes on behalf of the government, doctors, veterinarians, taxi drivers, auction houses officials, etc.

All the professions are regulated and benefit from a a special satus. The right to work on Sundays, and allowing intercities busses were hard-won victories. Only indirectly, the Loi Macron dealt with unemployment and ways to jump-start the economy.

The law is insufficient and has its defects, but is a step in the right direction. It represents a real effort to bring changes and to satisfy Brussels. Angela Merkel, in Paris for more discussions about the Ukraine, expressed her satisfaction.

Nicole Prévost Logan

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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TTYSB Launches Six-Postcard ‘Parent Toolkit’ to Increase Marijuana Danger Awareness

ttysContinuing through June, 2015, Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau (TTYSB) is conducting a direct mail campaign to provide every household in the community with a “Parent’s Toolkit.” Not just for parents, the six-postcard toolkit is designed to enhance both the awareness of and the capacity for all adults in the tri-town area to share among themselves and to deliver valuable and consistent messages to youth about the dangers for young people in using marijuana before their brains have fully matured.

The toolkit counters the persistent myths and confusion around marijuana use, including that smoking marijuana is “no big deal,” and that “everything in moderation” is a prescription for child and adolescent health.

While we still need a machine—an fMRI—to literally illustrate the negative effects of marijuana on a young person’s brain, research clearly shows that marijuana use can hijack the brain’s sensitive construction process. Since human brain development continues through age 25, the rule — rather than the exception — for healthy youth development is delay, delay, delay any substance use, including the use of marijuana in any form.

The health of our children and young people is a measure of the health of our whole community. One researcher recently proclaimed: “Keep them alive ‘till 25!” She was talking to both young people and adults since youth have a responsibility to their futures selves. They can keep their healthy brain cells and process alive and well now to increase the likelihood that they will have the best chance of success for the rest of their lives.

Adults, meanwhile, can persist, in spite of the current controversies about marijuana decriminalization, medicalization and legalization — both in Connecticut and nationwide — to share among themselves the facts, rather than the myths, and to send consistent, science-based messages to our young people to ensure the greatest possibility of individual, family and community health.

The Parent Toolkit was originally developed by the Croton Community Coalition of Croton-on-Hudson, NY, and cited as a significant resource for community coalitions by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), the premier membership organization representing those working to make their communities safe, healthy and drug-free.

Tri-Town Youth Services Bureau supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  The Bureau coordinates and provides resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org

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Essex Library Association Hosts Artist Exhibit by Susan Chamberland During March

"Are We There Yet?"
ESSEX — An art exhibit will be held at Essex Library Association, 33 West Ave., through the month of March featuring guest artist, Susan F. Chamberland.  The exhibit is free and open to all.

Chamberland, a 21-year-member and past-president of the Essex Art Association, lives in Ivoryton and has been bending and making paper, painting on silk and photographing abstract earthly elements for 40 years.

She is an avid sailor. Her work is simple, graphic, often combining elements surrounding water.  Chamberland’s art mixes earth bound images in mystical ways which host incongruous messages implanted in their titles. Edge is ever prevalent in her pieces, mixing color and contrast, enveloping the viewer to question.

Recently, Chamberland has completed her first children’s novel, The Adventures of Minifred the Mouse. The story brings the reader on a voyage from Liverpool to Boston during the 1848 Irish potato famine through the antics of a six month-old abandoned kitten and a smarty pants ship board mouse.

More of her work can be seen on her website: www.susanfchamberland.com

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Join Sacred Heart Academy to Fundraise “Under the Tuscan Sun,” March 28

Join Sacred Heart Academy "Under the Tuscan Sun" Saturday Evening, March 28 Jeff and Frances Pellegrino Granquist '80 - 2015 "Under the Tuscan Sun" Auction Chairs.  Photo Courtesy of Storytellers Photography of North Haven

Jeff and Frances Pellegrino Granquist, Class of ’80, are the Auction Chairs at Sacred Heart Academy’s “Under the Tuscan Sun” event, March 28. Photo Courtesy of Storytellers Photography of North Haven

Experience the tastes of Tuscany with hors d’oeuvres, buffet dining, and Italian desserts at Sacred Heart Academy’s signature fundraising event – The 2015 Live and Silent Auction Under the Tuscan Sun – on Saturday, March 28.

This year’s Auction promises a wonderful evening – an event with a great theme, staging, cuisine, and the opportunity to bid on one-of-a-kind items,” offered President Sr. Sheila O’Neill, ASCJ, Ph.D.,’71.  The Auction is our signature event and chairs Jeff and Fran Pellegrino Granquist, Class of ’80, and their committee are working tenaciously to make this a tremendous success.” she added.

Doors open at 5 p.m. with complimentary wine and beer, hors d’oeuvres, buffet dining, and Silent Auction followed by desserts and Live Auction with renowned and spirited guest auctioneer, Eric Hummel. This year’s special guest is Marc Garofalo, as master of ceremonies.

Jeff and Frances Pellegrino Granquist of Wallingford, are spearheading “Under the Tuscan Sun” along with a committee comprised of more than 75 parents, alumnae, and friends of the Academy.

Up for bid this year is a Ten Day Escape to Sicily, a Week at Florida’s Marriott Grande Vista and  a Week in Aruba, Five Days in Vegas, a Vespa Scooter, sports tickets including Yankees, Red Sox, NY Giants and more, a Walking Tour of New Haven, a NYC Scavenger Hunt, golf packages, catered dinners, electronics and much, much more.

Adding to the festivities is the $10,000 Cash Raffle. Tickets, at $20 each, are currently on sale and can be purchased by calling the Academy at 203-287-8181, x372. To download a raffle ticket order form, visit www.sacredhearthamden.org/auction. The drawing will be held at 9 p.m. the night of the Auction and winner need not be present.

For additional information on the Auction, including the latest items available and menu, or to make your reservations for “Under the Tuscan Sun” visit www.sacredhearthamden.org/auction or contact Maryanne Pisani at 203-287-8181, x372 or mpisani@sacredhearthamden.org. Tickets are $70 per person and tables of 10 are $700.

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

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Daniel S. Dahlstrom is Marshview Gallery’s ‘Artist of the Month’

Untitled
OLD SAYBROOK – The Marshview Gallery features the work of Connecticut native Daniel S. Dahlstrom during March. Dahlstrom is a passionate student of the Connecticut River and Shoreline and his inspiration comes from the light effects of nature. He captures the New England landscape with his skillful brush strokes and the viewer is transported into the time and space of each piece.

Dahlstrom studied at the prestigious Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme as well as with several professional, local artists. His work has been accepted into many local juried shows and he also works with select interior designers, who follow his work.

The Marshview Gallery at the Estuary Council, 220 Main Street in Old Saybrook is open daily, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. Dahlstrom’s work can also be seen on his website at http://danielsdahlstromartist.com

All are welcome to an Artist Reception on Thursday, March 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. at which Dahlstrom will be present.  Refreshments will be provided.

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Become a Trained Tutor for Literacy Volunteers, Registration Open Now

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc. is a private non-profit organization.  Their mission is to train tutors to teach Basic Reading (BR) and English as a Second Language (ESL) to residents of the Valley Shore area who wish to improve their reading, writing or speaking English to improve their life and work skills.  This one-to-one instruction is held confidential and is completely without charge to the student.

Tutor training is a seven-session, 14-hour workshop program.  The workshops begin March 26 and run through May 12. A background in education is not necessary – just a desire to tutor and a commitment to help students improve their skill in basic literacy.

If interested in becoming a tutor, contact the Literacy Volunteers office on or before March 2 by phone at (860) 399-0280 or by e-mail at jferrara@vsliteracy.org or you can stop by the office located in the basement of Westbrook’s Public Library weekdays between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

For further information, contact: John Ferrara (860) 391-1198

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Essex Resident Earns High Honors at Sacred Heart Academy

Sacred Heart Academy Principal Sr. Maureen Flynn, ASCJ recently announced the Honor Roll for the second marking period of the 2014 – 15 academic year.

Sophie Park of Essex earned High Honors.

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

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

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Acton Public Library’s ‘Oscar Movie Series’ Continues with ‘Good Will Hunting,’ April 20

Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook will be hosting an Oscars “then and now” movie series featuring a variety of movies with Oscar awards on third Mondays from March through May at 1 p.m.

The program for the series is as follows:

April 20: Good Will Hunting

May 18: The Theory of Everything

For more information, call The Acton Library at 860-395-3184, or visit the library during regular hours: Monday through Thursday 10am – 8:30pm, Friday and Saturday 9am – 5pm, and Oct – May on Sundays 1pm – 5pm or visit on-line at www.actonlibrary.org .

Also, visit www.commonsensemedia.org for movie ratings and recommendations.

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Ribbon-Cutting Celebrates Chester Town Hall’s Solar Array Installation

At the ribbon cutting ceremony for Chester Town Hall's new solar array were (from left to right): Michael Benjamin, Raen Corbett, James Tedeschi, First Selectman Ed Meehan, Chris Lenda from Aegis Solar, Leah Bargnesi, Maggie Treichel from CT Solar Challenge, and Pat Woomer from Chester Energy Team.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony for Chester Town Hall’s new solar array were (from left to right): Michael Benjamin, Raen Corbett, James Tedeschi, First Selectman Ed Meehan, Chris Lenda from Aegis Solar, Leah Bargnesi, Maggie Treichel from CT Solar Challenge, and Pat Woomer from Chester Energy Team.

CHESTER — On Feb. 12, the Chester Energy Team hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Chester Town Hall’s solar array. Due to the weather, the ribbon cutting was reenacted indoors by students from the Chester Elementary School’s Energy Team. The town hall’s photovoltaic solar array, which was installed recently, was awarded to the town for operating the CT Solar Challenge, which resulted in 20 new residential photovoltaic and thermal installations.

“The town hall’s new system marks another step on our town’s path to carbon neutrality,” said Pat Woomer, chairman of the Chester Energy Team. “We are proud to be moving forward with these significant investments in clean energy because we believe we have an obligation to be a model for Chester and other communities.”

With the Energy Team’s help, by 2018 Chester hopes to achieve its commitment to the Clean Energy Pledge signed in 2013.

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All Performances of ‘Motherhood Out Loud’ at Ivoryton This Weekend Cancelled

Pictured from top left are Beverley Taylor and Michael Cartwright. From bottom left – Atticus Nischan, Jeanie Rapp, Kase Vradenburgh, Vanessa Vradenburgh, Elle Vradenburgh. Photograph by Anne Hudson

Gathered for a photo are some of the Motherhood Out Loud performers and their children. From top left are Beverley Taylor and Michael Cartwright and from bottom left, Atticus Nischan, Jeanie Rapp, Kase Vradenburgh, Vanessa Vradenburgh, Elle Vradenburgh.  Photograph by Anne Hudson

1:30pm Update: Due to the threat of bad weather this weekend, all three performances of Motherhood Out Loud have been cancelled.

CANCELLED:  Friday, February 20 at 7:30pm in partnership with Women and Family Life Center
CANCELLED:  Saturday, February 21 at 7:30pm in partnership with Community Foundation of Middlesex County to support the Sari A. Rosenbaum Fund for Women & Girls
CANCELLED:  Sunday, February 22 at 2:00pm in partnership with Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut

Call the Ivoryton Playhouse at 860.767.7318 for ticket refunds.

ESSEX — “Mom!” “Mommy!!” “Ma!!!” How many times a day does a mother hear these words? Being a mother is one of the most rewarding, hilarious, joy-filled and heartbreaking jobs in the world. Come and celebrate all things Mom during a staged reading of Motherhood Out Loud at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Feb. 20, 21 and 22 to benefit local agencies that promote programs for women and children.

Motherhood Out Loud features a great variety of pieces by women reflecting upon the diversity of the parenting experience in America today, yet at the same time, the universality of it. From the wonder of giving birth to the bittersweet challenges of role reversal and caring for an aging parent, it is all shared with tremendous candor, heart and humor.

Conceived by Susan R. Rose and Joan Stein, Motherhood Out Loud is written by a collection of award-winning American writers including Leslie Ayvazian, Brooke Berman, David Cale, Jessica Goldberg, Beth Henley, Lameece Issaq, Claire LaZebnik, Lisa Loomer, Michele Lowe, Marco Pennette, Theresa Rebeck, Luanne Rice, Annie Weisman and Cheryl L. West.

Henley is a Pulitzer-Prize winner, Rebeck is the creator of the television series SMASH, and Pennette was Executive Producer of Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty and is Executive Producer of Kirstie Alley’s television show. Luanne Rice is the New York Times best-selling author of 33 novels, who has a home in Old Lyme.

Directed by Maggie McGlone Jennings (who has directed several shows at the Playhouse), the play features local actors who are well known in the shoreline community. The cast includes Beverley Taylor (a regular on the Playhouse stage), Jeanie Rapp (known to local audiences as the artistic director of Margreta Stage), Vanessa Daniels and Michael Cartwright.

This special production is a partnership between the Ivoryton Playhouse and several different organizations that promote programs for women and children. Friday, Feb. 20, is in partnership with Women & Family Life Center in Guilford; Saturday, Feb. 21, is in partnership with the Sari A. Rosenbaum Fund for Women & Girls at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; and Sunday, Feb. 22, is in partnership with Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT. The Ivoryton Playhouse is proud to partner with three different organizations to raise funds to help those in need in New Haven, Middlesex and New London Counties.

Performance times are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m; Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $40 and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting the Playhouse’s website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main St. in Ivoryton.

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Letter to the Editor: Organizers Express Thanks to Carnivale Supporters, Helpers

To the Editor:

The committee for the 25th Annual Chester Winter Carnivale was quite disappointed to have to cancel Carnivale on Sunday, Feb. 15. With blizzard warnings and travel advisories in place, cancellation was unavoidable. There was simply no way to have the all-day outdoor event go on with the bitter cold and 40 mph winds.

Heartfelt thanks to all who worked so hard for many months planning the event, which will be nearly impossible to reschedule.

Carnivale has been made possible through the generous donations of time, talent and funds from residents, businesses and supporters of the Chester Merchants. The committee would especially like to thank those who generously contributed $500 or more: Aaron Manor; All-Waste; Archambault Insurance Company; Peter H. Charbonnier; Cummings & Good; First Niagara Bank; Mario S. Gioco; Greenwald Industries; Roto-Frank; Shepherd, Miller, Finkelman & Shah; Stark Agency Insurance; Town of Chester; and Whelen Engineering.

Sincerely,

Chester Winter Carnivale Committee

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(Ice) Dammed If You Don’t …

An example of a roof ice dam in Willimantic.

An example of a roof ice dam in Willimantic.

Ice dams form when water from melting snow refreezes at the eaves or gutters.  Water can then pond above the ice dam and even leak into the building.  This is almost always a sign that (1) the attic is not properly insulated, (2) the roof is not properly ventilated, and (3) if there is leakage, the membrane beneath the shingles is not working.

In an ideal situation, proper insulation does its work to keep heat inside the house, and the roof is merely a means to keep rain or snow out.  If your attic is not a living space, lots of insulation between the ceiling below and the attic space ensures that very little heat gets up there.  Proper ventilation of the attic space then ensures that the roof never gets warm enough to melt snow on top of it.

Even if the room directly beneath the roof is a living space, the same principles apply.  In this case, it is much harder to install enough insulation, but there should be a space between the insulation and the roof’s inside sheathing so that cold air can flow from eave vents up through that space to carry away any heat that gets through the insulation.

Modern materials such as “snow and ice membrane” provide a very good seal beneath the shingles.  If your roof is old, it may have tarpaper, which degrades and becomes brittle. If so, it may be time (this summer) to have your roof stripped down to the sheathing and to have lots of membrane and good flashing installed.  It may be possible to have soffit vents and adequate roof ventilation installed at the same time.

But in the meantime, if you have ice dams, it is important to drain the pond above the dam.  Unfortunately it is almost impossible to do this with heat or an ice pick. Here’s a suggestion of a good temporary fix:  make “sausages” by filling a stocking or similar porous tube with either rock salt or calcium chloride crystals and lay this across the ice dam so that it melts a channel through the dam to drain the pond.

Good Luck!

Rick Holloway is a longtime member of the Chester Energy Team. Look up the E-Team on the www.chesterct.org town site or Facebook.com/ChesterCTEnergyTeam

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‘China Day’ at Essex Elementary Offers Lantern Learning

3rd Grader Raegan Wyrebek-Brasky makes a paper lantern during EESF's China Day.

3rd Grader Raegan Wyrebek-Brasky makes a paper lantern during EESF’s China Day.

ESSEX — Second and third grade students recently practiced martial arts, made paper lanterns and learned new letters during China Day at Essex Elementary School.  The celebration, funded by the Essex Elementary School Foundation’s (EESF) Justus W. Paul World Cultures Program, included activities with Asian Performing Arts of Connecticut and Malee’s School of Tae Chi.
Chinese lanterns made during China Day at Essex Elementary School funded by the EESF.

Chinese lanterns made during China Day funded by EESF at Essex Elementary School. .

The EESF is looking for your support.  The not-for-profit, volunteer organization provides funds for enrichment programs that bring a mathematician and historian-in-residence into the classrooms, as well as an iPad lab and author visits.

For donation information, visit www.essexelementaryschoolfoundation.org.
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Letter from Paris: Minsk 2 – Another Truce for Ukraine … Maybe

From left to right, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, François Hollande and Petroshenko.

From left to right, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, François Hollande and Petro Porosnhenko. Photo credit EPA/Maxim Shipenkov.

After a 16-hour long marathon of negotiations on Feb. 11, and a great deal of suspense, Angela Merkel and François Hollande wrenched out a hard-won agreement for a cease-fire in Ukraine from Petro Porosnhenko and Vladimir Putin starting on Saturday, Feb. 14 at midnight. All parties to the agreement were extremely cautious and hoped that “Minsk 2” would last longer than “Minsk 1” signed in September 2014.

More than 5,500 people have died in the conflict during the past 10 months, which makes it the deadliest in Europe since World War II. There was a sense of relief that the agreement went through and thus a disaster had been avoided. In the morning, Putin joked that he had had better nights but felt satisfied.

To continue the negotiations rather than slamming more sanctions on Putin, as some Washington pundits advocate, was the objective of Minsk 2. Sanctions have a cost for Europe (for example, the Russian government retaliated to earlier sanctions by blocking the import of produce from Western Europe.) More dangerously, they exacerbate the nationalism of Putin and enhance his popularity in Russia.

In the face of a threatening strategy of Daesh* making well planned inroads to destabilise Europe by recent acts of terrorism, Russia and the European Union (EU) have a common enemy. For decades, the extremist Moslem opposition in Chechnya and Central Asia has been a great fear for the Russian government..

The talks in Minsk started in a polar atmosphere. Throughout the night, Petro Poroshenko’s and Vladimir Putin’s teams moved like a choreographed ballet. Early in the morning, Putin left the room, slamming the door, only to reappear a few minutes later. The Franco-German duo is to be credited with an unflappable tenacity to reach an agreement. The two worked perfectly together. Merkel needed Hollande since she wants to avoid making foreign policy decisions alone and prefers,“Leading from the center,” to use a formula coined by the German Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen.

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Minsk 2 includes modified provisions to make the process move forward. The buffer zone – cleared from all heavy armaments – has been widened from 30 km to 70 kms. The European Council for Stability and Security will be monitoring the application of the agreement. Putin expressed his demands for the autonomy of the Luhansk and Donestk regions..

The EU widely considers that Ukraine is both a corrupt and failed state. It cannot afford to help it financially nor envisages its adhesion to the EU any time soon. Kiev does not want to lose the industrial and mining Donbas region, but its action is disorganized. For many months, Putin has claimed that he never intervened in the conflict taking place in Eastern Ukraine.

One wonders whether he really controls the Russian separatists, so different from the sophisticated Maidan crowd. The Donbass miners and blue collar workers are products of massive transfers of population forced by the Soviets at the time of the German offensive to compensate for the relocation of highly skilled workers to the Ural Mountains. Another headache for Putin is the presence among the Russian separatists of clans whose leaders have political ambitions .

It is hard to understand Putin’s strategy. Obviously he does not want NATO to choke him nor nuclear misssiles to be installed in the area. He does not have the means to support the Donbas. His priority should most likely be to allow a corridor from Rostov on Don, through Mariopol on the Sea of Azov and then leading to the Crimea. At present his only access to the Crimea is through the Straits of Kerch, which is some distance away.

*The new nickname for ISIS widely used in France, Australia and some other countries because ISIS supposedly dislikes it intensely — it is a loose acronym of the Arabic description of ISIS, which does not acknowledge any statehood for the organization but rather can be roughly translated as, “One who crushes something underfoot,” or, “One who sows discord.”

Nicole Prévost Logan

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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Acton Public Library Presents Key Chain Collection During March

For the last weeks of February and the month of March, the Acton Public Library will be hosting a display of 7th grade St. John’s Student Katie Conklin’s collection of keychains. Katie has been collecting keychains since the age of three.

The Acton Public Library is open Monday through Thursday from 10am until 8:30 pm, Friday and Saturday from 9am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm.

 

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Essex Garden Club Hosts Successful Terrarium Workshop

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Sandy Meister, left, works with a participant at the terrarium workshop.

 

ESSEX — The Essex Garden Club and Essex Library Association co-sponsored a terrarium workshop on Saturday, Feb. 7, at Essex Library.

Workshop participants create their masterpieces.

Workshop participants create their masterpieces.

Twenty participants were given step-by-step instructions by Sandy Meister of the Essex Garden Club.  She also provided information on choosing plants and tips on garden maintenance.

 

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‘Healthy Addiction’ in Old Lyme Offers New Indoor Rowing Classes, All Levels Welcome

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OLD LYME — Healthy Addiction, located at 5 – 1 Davis Rd. East in Old Lyme, has announced the opening of four, new indoor rowing classes each week. These classes are run by Lizzie Simons, a certified “rowing” and “learn-to-row” instructor, as well as a personal trainer.

Monday and Thursday classes are for advanced rowers, meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m., with “Long and Strong” rowing on Mondays, and “Strength and Speed” on Wednesdays. Tuesday and Thursday classes take place between 5:30 and 7 p.m., with an emphasis on “Heart Health.”

Lizzie Simon in action

Lizzie Simons in action

Rod Clingman, a Tuesday-Thursday rower, comments, “Staying true to my New Year’s resolution of keeping in shape, I was very happy to learn about the offerings of Healthy Addiction … I took advantage of a free learn to row seminar on a Sunday afternoon and was quickly brought up to speed by the instructor, Lizzie Simons. I was now ready to row! He continues, “We run through different drills which include rowing and stretching. Lizzie has a new lesson plan for each session to keep your workout fresh. Healthy Addiction really is a hidden gem.”

For more information, visit HealthyAddiction.net or call 860.237.3707.

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Talking Transportation: Is Metro-North Irreplaceable?

What is Connecticut’s relationship with Metro-North? Client – vendor? Shared partnership? Stockholm syndrome? Or is the railroad a “fanged sloth” hanging around our neck?

All of those analogies has been made to the state’s 30+ year relationship with Metro-North, part of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). But given their dismal safety record and deteriorating service in recent years, many have asked, “Is it time to fire Metro-North and find someone else to run our trains?”

I posed that very question almost four years ago and people were shocked, not knowing that such a thing was even possible. Now there are even laws being considered in Hartford to rid us of the railroad.

But even though Metro-North works for us, CDOT’s Commissioner Jim Redeker says they should not … in fact, cannot … be replaced.

Redeker recently testified that Metro-North is uniquely qualified and staffed to run a commuter rail operation of its size and that there are no other potential competitors he’d consider as operator, let alone try to build our own agency from scratch. On this point he’s probably right.

Where he’s wrong is in arguing that replacing Metro-North would mean we wouldn’t be allowed to run “Our trains” into “Their station,” Grand Central Terminal (GCT).

There are plenty of railroads with operating rights on others’ tracks. New Jersey Transit has no trouble getting into Penn Station. Virginia Railway Express runs into downtown DC. Does Commissioner Redeker really think that our Congressional delegation couldn’t force the MTA to give us access to GCT? It wouldn’t be an easy fight, but this is certainly no deal-breaker to replacing Metro-North.

Alternative #3 is to renegotiate our contract with the railroad. This opportunity only presents itself every five years, and 2015 is one of those windows. Maybe we should get them to commit to service standards, as their current contract has no metrics to measure their performance. But again, Commissioner Redeker seems reticent to fight for our state or its commuters.

He reminded lawmakers that the last time Connecticut arbitrated the contract, we were out-smarted and ending up with a worse deal than we’d had before. The MTA’s army of lawyers took us to the cleaners, costing us millions more in payments to Metro-North each year. Apparently the Commissioner thinks we’re not smart enough to negotiate a better deal, so why even try?

So, just to recap … our Commissioner of Transportation says we have no real options, that we have to work with Metro-North, but we’re probably not savvy enough to get any better deal than we have now. So let’s just wave the white flag before the battle begins and keep paying $70+ million a year for lousy train service.

Now there is inspired leadership! Declare defeat and just walk away. Let the “fanged sloth” continue to hang around our necks. We really have no choice. Suck it up because Metro-North, our vendor, is running the show.

Jim Cameron

Jim Cameron

About the author:
Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM. The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com
For a full collection of “Talking Transportation” columns, see www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

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Tractor Supply Co. Announces Third Annual National FFA Scholarship Program

AREAWIDE — Coming off the heels of a successful second year in 2014, Tractor Supply Company has announced the third annual Growing Scholars program in partnership with the National FFA Foundation. Last year, Tractor Supply customers donated $447,671, resulting in 334 scholarships awarded to FFA members in their pursuit of a college degree.

The Growing Scholars program will be supported nationally by each of the more than 1,400 Tractor Supply and Del’s Feed & Farm Supply stores Feb. 20 – March 1, which includes National FFA Week. Tractor Supply customers can donate $1 or more at store registers during the checkout process to support local FFA chapters and their members. Ninety percent of funds raised through Tractor Supply’s Growing Scholars program will be utilized to fund scholarships for FFA members. The remaining 10 percent of donations will benefit state FFA organizations.

“The funding we received from our customers last year was tremendous,” said Tractor Supply President and CEO Greg Sandfort. “We’re honored to be able to provide critical funding to FFA members who intend to pursue a college degree. Many of these students go on to be agriculture educators – and we know how important ag. ed. is to our communities, customers, and the lifestyle they value. Local FFA chapters enrich the lives of young members by teaching life skills, citizenship and leadership qualities. Giving back to our 1,300-plus communities that we serve is very important, and the Growing Scholars program is one of the ways that we support our current and future customers and future team members.”

To be eligible for the scholarship program, students must be current FFA members and either high school seniors or a freshman, sophomore or junior college student seeking a two- or four-year degree or other specialized training program. Major areas of study will also be considered when determining scholarship recipients.

“We can’t thank Tractor Supply and its customers enough for supporting FFA, student and alumni members and agriculture education in general,” said National FFA Foundation President Molly A. Ball. “The Growing Scholars program truly makes a difference in the lives of our youth.”

In addition to the Growing Scholars program, Tractor Supply and the National FFA Foundation have many other joint initiatives, including the FFA horse evaluation career development event, National FFA Week and the annual National Association of Agricultural Educators Conference. At an individual store level, Tractor Supply continually hosts fund-raising events and works closely with local FFA chapters and high school agriculture advisors to provide resources and leverage synergies.

“Local high school agricultural advisors and FFA chapters feel at home in their local Tractor Supply stores,” said Christi Korzekwa, senior vice president of marketing at Tractor Supply. “These groups often host fund-raising events at our stores to raise money for community projects, like building a school greenhouse, a new bridge in a public park or an animal care lab. Our stores also work with local FFA members to support specific programs and proficiencies by providing demonstrations from knowledgeable Tractor Supply employees and our vendor partners, which brings significant value to both organizations.”

Tractor Supply has been a sponsor of the National FFA Foundation for 28 years. The National FFA Foundation is the fundraising arm of the National FFA Organization, which provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 610,240 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,665 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Tractor Supply Company

Tractor Supply Company operates more than 1,400 stores in 49 states, including one in Old Saybrook. Located in the outlying towns in major metropolitan markets and in rural communities, Tractor Supply Company stores are focused on supplying the lifestyle needs of recreational farmers and ranchers and others who enjoy the rural lifestyle, as well as tradesmen and small businesses. The Company offers a comprehensive selection of merchandise for the health, care, growth and containment of horses, livestock and pets including select Purina and Nutrena brand feeds; hardware, truck, towing and tool products; and seasonal products, including lawn and garden items, power equipment, gifts and toys. In addition, the company sells work/recreational clothing and footwear for the entire family and maintenance products for agricultural and rural use. For more information on Tractor Supply, access the website at www.TractorSupply.com.

National FFA Foundation
The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agriculture education. Governed by a 19-member board of trustees comprised of educators, business leaders, individual donors and FFA alumni, the foundation is a separately-registered nonprofit organization. About 82 percent of all sponsorship dollars received by the foundation support FFA members and agricultural education opportunities. For more, visit the National FFA Foundation at http://www.FFA.org/Give.

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Chester Grand List Shows One Percent Increase

CHESTER — The grand list of taxable property is up by one percent after a full townwide property revaluation completed in 2013 led to a 12 percent decrease in the grand list total. Assessor Loretta Zdanys has filed an October 2014 grand list that totals $442,507,270, an increase of $3,546,603, or one percent, from the 2103 total.

There were relatively small increases in each of the categories of real estate, personal property and motor vehicles. The 2014 increase is expected to generate about $123,500 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 24.82 mills, or $24.82 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

The town’s 1,720 real estate accounts have a net assessment total of $398,866,600, up by $2,603,840 from the 2013 real estate total. The town’s 417 personal property accounts have a net assessment total of $14,791,350, up by $425,860 from the 2013 personal property total. The town’s 4,156 motor vehicle accounts have an assessment total of $28,849,320, up by $516,903 from the 2013 motor vehicles total.

Following are the town top ten taxpayers with the current assessment totals:
1)  Chester Woods Inc. (Chester Village West) — $15,263,650
2)  Whelen Engineering Co. — $8,196.720
3)   Connecticut Water Company — $5,049,830
4)   Connecticut Light & Power Company — $4,540,170
5)  The Eastern Company — $4,059,760
6)  Whelen Aviation LLC (Chester Airport) — $3,843,340
7)  Roto Frank of America Inc. — $3,521,530
8)  Margaret & Robert Sbriglio (Aaron Manor Nursing Facility) —  $2,235,180
9)  Chester Point Real Estate LLC — $2,079,830
10) Arthur & Judith Schaller — $2,045,890

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LVVS Seeks Volunteers to Help Valley Shore Residents with Reading, Writing

AREAWIDE – Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS), CT, Inc. is a private non-profit organization. Their mission is to train tutors to teach Basic Reading (BR) and English as a Second Language (ESL) to residents of the Valley Shore area who wish to improve their reading, writing or speaking English to improve their life and work skills. This one-to-one instruction is held confidential and is completely without charge to the student.

Tutor training is a 14-hour program conducted over seven sessions held each spring and again in the fall of every year. The next training session begins March 26 and runs through May 12. Workshop Leaders at LVVS have developed a comprehensive program that provides prospective tutors the skills and resources to help them succeed. A background in education is not necessary – just a desire to tutor and a commitment to helping a student improve their skill in basic literacy or English as a Second Language over the period of one year after the completion of training.

If you are interested in becoming a tutor, contact the Literacy Volunteers office in the basement of Westbrook’s Public Library by phone at 860-399-0280 or by e-mail at jferrara@vsliteracy.org.  Registration for the fall session is open now and the deadline for applications is March 2.

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Linares Meets with AARP Volunteers to Discuss Issues Affecting Seniors

From left to right, Barbara Rutigliano of Essex, Marian Speers of Old Saybrook, Sen. Art Linares, and Jean Caron of Old Saybrook.

Gathered for a photo during Senator Linares’s meeting with AARP volunteers are (from left to right) Barbara Rutigliano of Essex, Marian Speers of Old Saybrook, Sen. Art Linares, and Jean Caron of Old Saybrook.

Sen. Art Linares met with Connecticut AARP volunteers at Essex Coffee and Tea Co. on Feb. 5, to discuss issues impacting seniors.  Linares urged seniors from throughout the region to contact him with any issues of concern.

He can be reached by phone at 800-842-1421 or email at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or on the web at www.senatorlinares.com.

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Essex Grand List Shows Small 0.33 Percent Increase

ESSEX — The grand list of taxable property has remained nearly flat after a revaluation-driven drop in 2013, with the October 2014 total showing an increase of only $3.72 million or 0.33 percent.

Assessor Jessica Sypher has filed an October 2014 grand list that totals $944,905,200, up by $3,726,569 from the 2013 total. There were small increases in each of the categories of real estate, personal property, and motor vehicles. The increase is expected to generate only about $60,000 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 20.99 mills.

The grand list, which previously had totaled over $1 billion, dropped by 7.72 percent after the full townwide property revaluation that was completed in 2013. The 2012 grand list was also down very slightly, dropping by about six one-hundredths of a percent.

Sypher said a court settlement for two of about a dozen appeals that followed the revaluation had resulted in a loss of about $700,000 in assessed value, or about $21,000 in tax revenue.

Brewer’s Marina appealed the revised assessments for marinas it owns on Ferry Street and Chandler Street. Sypher said attorneys for the town recommended a settlement that would split the difference between the revised assessments and the values claimed by the marina company. The compromise that was approved by a superior court judge last month dropped the assessed value for the two marinas from about $5 million to $4.3 million.

The town’s 3,253 real estate accounts have an assessment total of $943,246,673, up by only $727,030 from the 2013 real estate total.The town’s 722 personal property accounts have an assessment total of  $41,873,673, up by $1,213,929 from the 2013 personal property total.

The town’s 7,697 motor vehicle accounts have an assessment total of $62,881,170, up by $1,785,610 from the 2013 motor vehicles total.

Following are the town’s top 10 taxpayers with current assessment totals

1) Essex Meadows Inc. — $22,875,400
2) Lee Company — $14,820,920
3) Connecticut Light & Power Co. — $6,875,610
4) SLK Partners LLC — $5,708,900
5) River Properties Inc. — $3,597,210
6) Griswold Inn LLC — $3,378,640
7) Essex Savings Bank — $3,355,950
8) Stephen R. Cline Successor Trustee — $3,319,200
9) Herbert T. Clark III — $2,760,140
10) Macbeth Ventures LLC — $2,759,500

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Nilsson Offers Five Day Painting Workshop in August

Leif Nillson painting outdoors

Leif Nillson painting outdoors

CHESTER — Acclaimed local artist Leif Nilsson is offering a five day painting workshop from Aug. 3 to 7, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for $500 per student.

This workshop will explore the lower Connecticut River Valley’s landscape, its architecture and the light that reveals it through a combination of one shot “alla prima” paintings and by further developing other canvases over the course of several days, all on location in the open air.

Nilsson’s medium of choice is oil paint but he is familiar with other media such as pencil, pastel, watercolor and acrylics, so participants are asked to bring whatever they are comfortable using.

Subjects during the course may include painting the Village of Chester, Nillson’s studio garden (possibly with a live model) and the Connecticut River.

Throughout each day, he will provide a variety of tips and suggestions from how to set up one’s equipment and choosing a composition to learning how to see more through squinted eyes through formal and spontaneous demonstrations and individual discussions.

Technical assistance with drawing, perspective, proportions, color mixing and application will be offered as students work on their own paintings and as the need arises.

A general materials and suggested equipment list will be provided upon registration.

The daily schedule for the course will be:

9 a.m. to noon: Meet at a predetermined location at 9am and work until noon.

Noon to 1 p.m.: Take an hour break for lunch. Students are responsible for providing their own lunch. Chester has some excellent markets for eating in and take out.

1 to 5 p.m.: Start up again at 1 p.m. at an agreed upon location and work until 5 p.m.

Students are welcome to start earlier and work later if they’d like to without me present.

Nillson and his wife Caryn Davis, who is a professional photographer, will host one or two informal dinner parties at their home and gallery during the week to welcome students, share in lively discussions and view everyone’s work.

A list of local motels, B&Bs and Inns is available at: http://www.visitchester.com/chester/merchants/inns_and%20_B_and_Bs.html

A 50 percent non-refundable deposit of $250 is required by May 15, 2015 to secure a place. If the workshop is cancelled, the deposit will be refunded in full.

For more information, visit http://www.nilssonstudio.com/classes/index.html

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Literacy Volunteers Feature Romance Novels in February Book Sale

AREAWIDE — February’s monthly book promotion by Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) features romance novels. Authors include Barbara Taylor Bradford, Jackie Collins, Jude Deveraux and many more.  Hard covers are on sale for $2 and paperback for only 50 cents.

The book sale is located at the LVVS offices in the lower level of the Westbrook Public Library 61 Goodspeed Dr. Westbrook, Conn. Hours are: Monday- Thursday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

All proceeds LVVS tutoring programs.

For further information, contact LVVS at info@vsliteracy.org or 860-399-0280.

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Celebrate Winter at Chester’s 25th Annual Winter Carnivale, Sunday  

Street entertainers delight the crowds at the Chester Carnivale. Photo by John Stack.

Street entertainers delight the crowds at the Chester Carnivale. Photo by John Stack.

CHESTER – Winter has been pretty dreary so far, but that’s not keeping the townspeople of Chester from looking forward to their 25th annual winter celebration, Chester Winter Carnivale, on Sunday, Feb. 15.

That’s when the picturesque small town of Chester is filled with people cheering on ice carvers as they create beautiful sculptures from blocks of ice, while laughing at the antics of street performers and applauding a long parade of new and antique tractors being driven down Main Street by their proud owners. All that, and food, music, art, and shopping too!

Richard Daly works on his ice sculpture during the 2014 Winter Carnivale. Daly holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest time to create ice sculptures. Photo by John Stack

Richard Daly works on his ice sculpture during the 2014 Winter Carnivale. Daly holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest time to create ice sculptures. Photo by John Stack

The day begins at 10:30 a.m. when the carvers get started on their ice sculptures. Both professional and student ice carvers will be hard at work, demonstrating their techniques to onlookers while they try to be finished by 1 p.m. for judging.

Meanwhile, the Chester Hose Company is holding its 15th annual “Chilly Chili Cook Off” fundraiser. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., go to the Chester Hose Company Fire House at 6 High Street and pay your $5 admission so you can taste all the different chilis cooked and dished out by restaurants, caterers and fire departments. You can vote for your favorite fire department chili, favorite restaurant chili, most original chili, and best dressed chili serving table.  Beverages will be sold. All proceeds go to the Chester Hose Company.

Still hungry? There’s pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, chowder, soups, and lots more available inside and outside the restaurants in town. Also, hot chocolate, popcorn, kettle corn, and cupcakes – everything to satisfy every taste.

Tractors and more tractors descend on Chester on Carnivale day for the 14th Annual Tractor Parade. Photo by John Stack

Tractors and more tractors descend on Chester on Carnivale day for the 14th Annual Tractor Parade. Photo by John Stack

Just be sure to be back out on Main Street by 2 p.m. for the 14th Annual Chester Tractor Parade. Colorful and rusty, big and small, antique and new, decorated and plain – tractors are driven through the town center in an incredibly long parade. You never knew there were so many tractors in the Connecticut River Valley!

There is no shortage of free activities to keep the whole family entertained for the day. Colorful beads and balloons will be handed out throughout town all day and face painting is available at Century 21 Heritage.

The Chester Museum at The Mill will be open at no charge, offering a place to explore Chester history.

A photo booth will be at Maple and Main Gallery of Fine Art, where there will also be a free workshop for kids between 6 and 11 years, led by artist Carol Young from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. Each child will get a workbook handmade by Carol with art projects centered on bees, and they will make the three-dimensional bee depicted in the book.

Other galleries and shops will be open, many with special events. The Spring Street String Band, Arrowhead, will be playing from noon to 2 p.m. at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery. Winter sales – including a complete storewide sale at ELLE Design – will be going on at a number of stores.

Chester Winter Carnivale is held rain or snow or shine.  Main Street will be closed to traffic. Free parking is available in the commuter lot on Rte. 148 at the foot of Rte. 9 and in the Roto-Frank parking lot on Inspiration Lane (exit 6) and at Greenwald Industries on Rte. 154 (212 Middlesex Avenue). (Follow the signs.) All lots will be served by courtesy shuttle buses to the town center.

For more information, go to facebook.com/chesterctwintercarnivale or https://finditinchesterct.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

Caption: Street performers, balloons, beads and face painting add free fun for all ages to Winter Carnivale. Photo by John Stack

 

Caption: Richard Daly works on his ice sculpture during the 2014 Winter Carnivale. Daly holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest time to create ice sculptures. Photo by John Stack

 

Caption: Tractors and more tractors descend on Chester on Carnivale day for the 14th Annual Tractor Parade. Photo by John Stack

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Welcome to Our Newest Intern, Adina Ripin

Adina Ripkin

Old Saybrook High School junior and Shoreline Web News LLC newest intern Adina Ripin

We are delighted to welcome Adina Ripin to the staff of Shoreline Web News (SWN) LLC through the internship program at Old Saybrook Hgh School (OSHS).  Adina will be working for us through June of this year writing for both of our community news websites, ValleyNewsNow.com and LymeLine.com.

Adina is a junior at OSHS and already much involved in the world of journalism.  She has been writing for the school newspaper, “The Rambler,” for two years and serving as an editor for one.  She comments, “I love participating in The Rambler … it’s a lot of fun,” adding, “I also write and edit for cteenvoice.com, which tries to bring together schools from across the region.”  Not surprisingly for someone who is both a talented and an aspiring writer, one of Adina’s favorite subjects at school is English, but she also likes the sciences.

Adina is involved in the upcoming school production of  the musical, “West Side Story,” for which she is assistant in creating the costumes.  She also is a member of the group known as “Goodwin Buddies,” which she explains is, “A program where high school students help elementary schoolers with their homework.”

Outside school, Adina is an avid reader and enjoys walking her dog.

Last semester Adina was an intern at the Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook where, in her words, she, “learned what it was like to be in a professional medical environment.”  She notes, “It was great — I was mainly in the lab, which I loved because everyone there was so nice and interesting.  It helped me to get a much more concrete idea of what to expect after college.”

Adina will be covering a range of stories for SWN ranging from town events and municipal news to theater reviews and school happenings … and more.  She told us, “I am lucky to be interning with ValleyNewsNow and LymeLine to experience what it’s like to work for a newspaper. I’m excited to get started.”

Well, we’re certainly excited to have you on board, Adina, and hope you not only thoroughly enjoy but also learn from the experience.  Welcome!

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Oh, What a Winter … and More on the Way!

Old Saybrook Town beach

Old Saybrook Town Beach.  All photos by Adina Ripkin.

After a snowless first half of winter, the weather finally seemed to catch up with itself as recent snow storms have swept through the northeast.

Piles of cleared snow at the junction of Main Street and Pennywise Lane in Old Saybrook

Piles of cleared snow at the junction of Main Street and Pennywise Lane in Old Saybrook

Storms on Jan. 26 and 27 and then again during the first weekend in February have left snow accumulated throughout Connecticut, especially along the shoreline.

A snowy scene in Saybrook

A snowy scene in Saybrook

Although we dodged the most recent storm, which hit much harder in inland Connecticut and neighboring Massachusetts, bitterly cold weather is just around the corner according to the weather forecasters.

Footsteps_to_the_church_OSIt may seem to have been an endless winter, but no records have been broken here to date — unlike in Boston, Mass., where snowfall accumulation totaled well over 70 inches in January alone!

With more snow and freezing temperatures expected over the next couple of weeks, Shoreline residents are bracing themselves once again for more shoveling, hot chocolate, and picturesque drives!

Stay safe … and warm … and enjoy!

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Registration for Toddler Tunes in Old Saybrook Opens Feb. 17

OLD SAYBROOK – Youth and Family Services’ very popular interactive music program for children from birth to 30 months and their parent or guardian – is set to begin again on April 21.

It’s never too early to introduce your little one to the joys of music. Come have fun and join the Toddler Tune circle.  This Spring session of Toddler Tunes, led by local musician Tammi Dunlap, will run for eight Tuesdays and will meet at Acton Public Library.  Children are sure to be delighted as they sing and move to favorite songs, followed by snacks and social time.

Space is limited for this very popular and affordable program and registration is required to participate.  Registration begins Tuesday, Feb. 17, so mark your calendars.  To register online (beginning Feb. 17) visit the News and Announcements section of Youth and Family Services’ webpage at www.oldsaybrookct.org/youth.

This session runs through Tuesday, June 9.  The cost is $32 for Old Saybrook residents; $42 for non-residents.

If you need help with the online registration tool, contact Administrative Assistant Linda McCall at Linda.McCall@OldSaybrookCT.gov or at (860) 510-5040.

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$499.5 Million Deep River Grand List up by $9.14 Million From 2013 Total, Largest Increase in Years

DEEP RIVER — The 2014 grand list of taxable property is up by $9.14 million, a larger than expected increase that will generate about $236,000 in new tax revenue. Assessor Robin O’Loughlin has filed an October 2014 grant list that totals $499,552,409, an increase of $9,145,804, or 1.86 percent, over the 2013 total.

O’Loughlin said the increase, by far the largest since the last property revaluation in 2010, would generate $236,700 in new tax revenue at the current tax rate of 25.88 mills. Last year, the 2013 grand list was up by only 0.47 percent after a 2012 grand list jump of only 1.2 percent.

There were increases in each of the three categories, real estate, personal property and motor vehicles, with the largest increase coming in the personal property total. The town’s 658 personal property accounts totaled $22,583,125, an increase of $6,677,804 from the 2013 personal property total.O’Loughlin said a 2014 sale and relocation of Tri-Town Precision Plastics to Massachusetts-based Smith and Wesson Co., and a new local subsidiary, Deep River Plastics, had resulted in 224 new personal property accounts for machinery and equipment. But the assessor cautioned that many of these accounts would be eligible for tax deferrals under the state’s Manufacturing Machinery Program, which could lead to some reductions in the higher personal property totals in 2015.

The town’s 2,186 real estate accounts have an assessment total of $442,825,060, an increase of $2,1778,120 from the 2013 real estate total. O’Loughlin said there were four new homes completed in 2014, along with several renovations and expansions of existing dwellings. The town’s 4,800 motor vehicle accounts have an assessment total of $34,144,224, an increased of $289,394 from the 2013 total.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the increase was higher than he anticipated, and good news for the town. “It’s the best increase we’ve had in several years,” he said, adding, “it’s going to help an awful lot with the budgets this year.” The town is conducting a statistical revaluation update of all real estate properties this year, with any changes to be reflected on the October 2015 grand list.

Following are the town’s top 10 taxpayers, along with the assessment totals. The Boyd-Dernocoeur, Olson, and Cribiore accounts are for high value residential properties.

1) Connecticut Light & Power Co. — $5,576,999
2) BDRM Inc. — $4,171,277
3) Mislick Family Limited partnership — $3,173,870
4) Silgan Plastics Corp. — $2,917,775
5) Deep River Associates LLC — $2,917,600
6) Thomas Boyd & K. Dernocoeur — $2,430,610
7) 180 Main Street Partners LLC — $2,277,450
8) Goodspeed Leasing Co. LLC — $2,145,010
9) John & Jane Olson — $2,075,080
10) Alberto Cribiore — $1,934,590
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Letter from Paris: Patrick Modiano receives 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature

Nobel_prize_for_Literature_2014

…”all those wasted years during which one did not pay enough attention to trees, to flowers”…) says the main character in Modiano’s latest novel ‘Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier’ (which translates roughly as, “To avoid getting yourself lost in the neighborhood”)

France had the distinctive honor of receiving two Nobel prizes in 2014: Jean Tirole was the recipient of the Prize for Economics for his work on the financial crisis and the banking system while Patrick Modiano received the Prize for Literature. He will join an illustrious pantheon of writers from Gunter Grass (Germany) ), Toni Morrison and Nadine Gordimer (South Africa), Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), Gabriel Garcia Marques (Columbia) and Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Soviet Union) to Albert Camus (France) or Ernest Hemingway (USA). Modiano is the 16th laureate from France, giving that country the largest number since beginning of the Nobel awards in 1900.

The press release issued by the Swedish Academy of Sciences selected the French writer, “For the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the Occupation.” The prize was a recognition of his abundant literary production (30 novels) centered on the protagonists’ search of their own past, in the urban setting of Paris, going back to World War II.

He writes like a sleep walker, plodding through a mysterious, sometimes disjointed sequence of events looking for his lost childhood when he was tossed around from one home to another. Since his first novel, ‘La Place de l’Etoile,’ published in 1968, he has created a world where autobiographic notes are interwoven with the “bad dream” of the Occupation.

Modiano is a tall (6′ 6” ) man of 69 with a kind face and fluttering hands as he speaks. During a 45-minute acceptance speech in Stockholm, his modest personality must have made him endearing to the distinguished audience, particularly when he dedicated his award to his Swedish grandson.

A writer, he said, is usually a poor speaker, who leaves his sentences unfinished, because he is used to editing his text over and over again.

He explained that he belonged to a generation when children were not allowed to speak up and, if they were given a chance to speak, they expected to be interrupted at any time.

During an interview he gave in his study, surrounded by thousands of books, he asked, “Why would I write another book when so many have been already written?” Then he added, “It is probably at the sight of his own bookcases that a discouraged Scott Fitzgerald took up drinking.”

He claims, with incredible modesty, that “It is with bad poets that one obtains prose writers.”

According to Alice Kaplan, head of the French department at Yale University, Modiano can be labelled as the Marcel Proust of modern times.

Claire Duvarrieux, head of the ‘Books’ department of the daily newspaper, Liberation, describes the works of Modiano as a collective memory of France during the war, the German Occupation, collaboration, the persecution of the Jews and finally, the war in Algeria.

With Louis Malle, he co-wrote the scenario of Lacombe Lucien in 1974, one of the best French “New Wave” films.

Nicole Prévost Logan

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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CT Audubon Announces EcoTravel Day Trips, Dates Thru Feb. & March

AREAWIDE — Connecticut Audubon Society has announced its upcoming series of EcoTravel Day Trips.

Click here for a full listing of all the trips available and information regarding reservations.

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LVVS Announces Jack Smith as New Board President

John McG (Jack) Smith

John McG (Jack) Smith

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, a volunteer based non-profit organization with a mission to help area residents improve their reading, writing and speaking of English as a way to better their life and work skills,has announced the election of John McG (Jack) Smith as the new President of their Board of Directors. Smith will lead the board’s efforts to raise awareness of Literacy Volunteers’ programs, events, fundraising and provide direction and guidance for the affiliate.

“Becoming President of the LVVS Board of Directors provides an opportunity to take a greater role in serving this wonderful organization,” said Smith. “So many volunteers give their time and talents to tutor clients, raise funds and broaden awareness of our mission. It is an honor to work with them and I look forward to helping Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore advance in the year ahead.”

Smith first came to the organization in April, 2014 after a career in medical device logistics and medical education software. He is also a Connecticut Realtor having recently joined the William Raveis Real Estate firm in Guilford.

He brings expertise in board development and operations from stints on the boards of the Waterbury Hospital/Greater Waterbury Health Network, The Connecticut Community Foundation, the Institute for American Indian Studies and as a Literacy Volunteer Instructor at the Greater Hartford YMCA Read to Succeed Program.

His term runs through June 2016.

Editor’s Note: LVVS serves the towns of: Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Guilford, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook

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Free Tax Help Available for Households Earning $53,000 or Less

Volunteer David Morgan assists a client with taxes last year at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Middlesex United Way office.

Volunteer David Morgan assists a client with taxes last year at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Middlesex United Way office.

AREAWIDE — Families with a household income of $53,000 or less are eligible for free tax preparation assistance is available now through April 11, at two sites Middletown.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an official IRS program, and all tax preparers are trained and certified to ensure that low- to moderate-income families receive the refunds and credits that they have earned, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

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.

Appointments are required and are being offered during the evenings and on Saturdays in downtown Middletown. To make an appointment, dial 2-1-1 from any phone. 2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Individuals should bring a check or bank statement for direct deposit of their refund. Direct deposit is the quickest way to receive the refund, usually within 7 to 14 days. When attending their pre-scheduled appointment, individuals should bring: valid photo ID for yourself and your spouse; social security cards or ITIN for everyone in the household; birth dates for everyone in the family; documentation for all income; interest and dividend statements; documentation for deductible education expenses and student loan payments; total amount paid for child care as well as day care provider’s tax identification number and address; property taxes paid, including automobile taxes; evidence of health care coverage in 2014; a copy of last year’s federal and state income tax returns, if available; and the current year’s tax package if you received one.

Middletown 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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Chester Historical Society Offers Creative Challenge to Artists

Photo by Skip Hubbard. The Chester Historical Society invites you to take this year’s creative challenge. Named Hooked Again!, the challenge is based on products from the Brooks factory. Pick out three sealed envelopes to work with; no one knows exactly what is in them.

Photo by Skip Hubbard.
The Chester Historical Society invites you to take this year’s creative challenge.  Named Hooked Again!, the challenge is based on products from the Brooks factory.  Pick out three sealed envelopes to work with; no one knows exactly what is in them.

CHESTER — If you have a creative eye, this is a hook you can handle …

The Chester Historical Society has come up with its fifth creative challenge linking Chester history and art.  This spring, those accepting the 2015 Hooked Again! Challenge issued by the Historical Society will be working with assorted sample eyehooks, handles and hardware, still enclosed in small sealed manila envelopes, from the M.S. Brooks & Sons factory.

As with the Bishop and Watrous Bone Art challenge and the Bates Square Roots challenge offered by the Chester Historical Society in past years, the Hooked Again! challenge is for area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, jewelry designers, and all others with a creative mind.

Anyone who wants to take the challenge is invited to stop in at the Chester Gallery on Main Street in the center of Chester to pick out three sealed envelopes and pay their entrance fee of $30, which includes two tickets to the event.

The finished works will be exhibited and sold by silent auction at the Historical Society’s Hooked Again! Challenge Reception on Saturday, April 11 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House.

For more information, call Sosse Baker at Chester Gallery at 860-526-9822.

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Ivoryton Announces Spectacular Season for 2015, Features ‘Memphis’, ‘Calendar Girls’

ESSEX: Ivoryton Playhouse has announced details of its upcoming 2015 season as follows:

Stand by Your Man
March 18 – April 5, 2015
By Mark St. Germain

Relive the journey of country music legend, Tammy Wynette, from the cotton fields of Itawamba, Mississippi, to international superstardom, including the five husbands she stood by. Among the 26 songs are “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” “Til I Can Make It On My Own” and “Golden Ring.”

The Last Romance
April 22 – May 10, 2015
By Joe DiPietro

A crush can make anyone feel young again – even an 80 year old widower. This heartwarming comedy about the transformative power of love mixes heartbreak with humor and opera with laughter.

Calendar Girls
June 3rd – June 21st, 2015
By Tim Firth

One of the best-selling plays in British theatre history is making its US premier. This dazzlingly funny and shamelessly sentimental story of the ladies of the Women’s Institute who pose au natural for a fundraising calendar is guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and walk out singing Jerusalem!  Sponsored by Webster Bank, PCI Medical

South Pacific
July 1 – July 26, 2015
By Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan

Who doesn’t love this extraordinary show that includes “Some Enchanted Evening”, “Younger Than Springtime”, “Bali Ha’i”, “There Is Nothin’ Like A Dame”, and “A Wonderful Guy”? But South Pacific is also a deeply felt drama. Its portrayal of Americans stationed in an alien culture in wartime is as relevant today as when it first thrilled audiences back in 1949.

Memphis
Aug. 5 – Aug. 30, 2015
By Joe DiPietro and David Bryan

Memphis is set in the places where rock and roll was born in the 1950s: the seedy nightclubs, radio stations and recording studios of Memphis, TN. With an original score, it tells the fictional story of DJ Huey Calhoun, a good ole’ local boy with a passion for R&B music and Felicia Farrell, an up-and-coming black singer that he meets one fateful night on Beale Street. From the first notes of its electrifying opening number, right up to a rousing finale , Memphis delivers one energetic song after another. A rollicking new musical.

Little Shop of Horrors
Sept. 23 – Oct. 11, 2015
By Howard Ashman and Alan Menken

The charming, tongue in cheek musical comedy of Seymour who stumbles across a new breed of plant he names “Audrey II” – after his coworker crush, has been devouring audiences for over 30 years. A deviously delicious Broadway and Hollywood sci-fi smash musical.

Liberace!
Oct. 28 – Nov. 15, 2015
By Brent Hazelton

Liberace! is a moving and highly entertaining tribute to the performer and musician famous for his charm, glitz, and glamour. Liberace relives the highs (and lows) of his prolific life, with a rollicking piano score spanning classical and popular music from Chopin to “Chopsticks,” and Rachmaninoff to Ragtime.

Subscriptions for 3-play, 5-play or 7-play packages are available now by calling Beverley Taylor at 860.767.9520

Single tickets go on sale Feb. 17 — call 860.767.7318.

For more information, visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

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Letter to the Editor: Proposed Chester Library Will Strengthen Community

To the Editor:

There has been much discussion about the future of the Chester Library. Since I have traveled to over 50 CT libraries presenting children’s programs over the years, I have a unique perspective on just what today’s libraries represent. These are not our grandmother’s libraries anymore.

Even in small towns, today’s library has become the hub of the community. Strong children’s programs grow and support families, whose children grow up to be life long readers and supporters of the library. Senior citizens are able to visit and learn how to operate computers, tablets, and e-books. They also have free access to large print & audio books, which also help our disabled citizens. During the recession, especially, families who could not afford Netflix or cable TV, accessed services like Hoopla for the ability to stream movies, shows, concerts, and news programming- for free.

Sadly, Chester not only has no space for special programs, but has also shut out our aging and disabled population by not being handicap accessible. We have been out of compliance with the ADA for 25 years. Our top-notch librarians do the best they can, but with no decent space, bathrooms, and elevator, their hands are tied.

I have heard people question the size of the proposed library, which is modest and in line with similar towns. The proposed community room will fit 70 people. It only proposes 6 computers. The concern about additional staff was addressed in other area libraries (Haddam, Killingworth, Clinton) by utilizing volunteers-mostly seniors, who look forward to spending one day a week in the library.

These other towns took a similar leap of faith years ago and have never regretted it! A vibrant library, which serves ALL our community, will only strengthen the community.

Sincerely,

Marjorie Warner,
Chester.
Editor’s Note: The author is a former preschool teacher and para-professional for the State of CT Preschool Services for the Blind. Since 1996, she has been a professional storyteller, songwriter, recording artist, and Early Childhood Developmental Music Consultant. She is a member of both ASCAP and the Connecticut Storytelling Center.

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Literacy Volunteers-Valley Shore Trains 12 New Tutors

AREAWIDE: Twelve area residents recently completed the Fall workshops, which consist of intensive training enabling them to tutor adults in Basic Reading and English as a Second Language. The seven-session workshop introduces individuals to the fundamentals of teaching basic reading as well as English as a Second Language.  Each session lasts about two hours and is held in the held in the spring and fall of each year.

This year’s Fall graduates were Barbara Batt of Old Saybrook, Lisa Cantey of Madison, Eileen Cummings of Old Lyme, Lina Daly of Guilford, Ann Fitzgerald of Old Saybrook, Marilyn Halbing of Old Saybrook, Theresa Humphries of Killingworth, Gloria Jablonski of Old Saybrook, Maria Lavin of Westbrook, Cheryl Niland of Clinton, Kathy Ring of Old Saybrook and June Venestresca of Guilford.

As an accredited affiliate of ProLiteracy America, LVVS is entering its 36th year of helping people in Valley Shore towns learn to read, write, and speak better English to improve their lives. These services are free of charge to the student and completely confidential.

For further information, contact the Literacy Volunteers office by calling (860) 399-0280, email info@vsliteracy.org or visit their website at www.vsliteracy.org.

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Groundhog Day Parade Shorter than Usual But Still Wonderful

Republican State Senator Art Linares (left in photo) leads the marchers up Main Street in Essex.

Republican State Senator Art Linares (left in photo) leads the marchers up Main Street in Essex.

ESSEX – The spirit was all there for the 38th annual Groundhog Day parade in Essex on Feb. 1. “Essex Ed,” the star of the parade, who every year shows up with a new costume, was very much on display.

The star of the show -- "Essex Ed"

The star of the show — “Essex Ed” in his Warrior football uniform

 

This year he was dressed as a ‘Warrior’ football player from the Valley/Old Lyme high school co-op football team. The theme of this year’s parade was a salute to the team, who won the 2014 Class S-Large state championship for the first time in their history.

A marching band was stationed just behind the dignitaries in the parade.

A marching band was stationed just behind the dignitaries in the parade.

Missing from this year’s parade, however, were the many antique automobiles that usually make an appearance. Their owners kept them in their garages because of  fear of bad weather.

Immersed in the spirit of the parade, this marcher posed with her personal grounhog

Immersed in the spirit of the parade, this marcher posed with her very own groundhog

Still, hundreds of enthusiastic spectators crowded the sidewalks along the entire length of Essex’s Main Street from the river to the “roundabout,” as natives like to call traffic circle at the top of  Main Street.

Fur hats -- for good reason -- were much in vogue among many marchers

Fur hats — for good reason — were much in vogue among the marchers

 

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Town of Essex, Fire Company Call for Help to Clear Snow from Hydrants

2)A snow-covered fire hydrant on Dennison Rd. in Essex, waiting to be cleared by residents.

A snow-covered fire hydrant on Dennison Rd. in Essex, waiting to be cleared by residents.

ESSEX – The Town of Essex and the firefighters of the Essex Fire Engine Company #1 have put out an urgent call to Essex residents to personally help clean the snow away from the town’s 136 fire hydrants. “Many are now covered with snow and hidden from Essex Firefighters needing them in an emergency,” the Town of Essex said in a statement.

“The snow won’t start melting anytime soon and more snow is on the way. Please take a few minutes to clear the snow from the fire hydrants next to where you live and work,” the Town and Fire Company urge.

A fire hydrant already cleared on North Main St. in Essex.

A fire hydrant already cleared on North Main St. in Essex.

This simple act will, “Help protect your family, property, and livelihood,” the Fire Company, located at 11 Saybrook Rd., explains.

 

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Celebrate Groundhog Day Today at Essex Parade

Groundhog fun at last year's parade.

Joining in the groundhog fun at last year’s parade.

The annual Essex Groundhog Day Parade in Essex Village will take place on Sunday, Feb. 1. The parade forms at 1:30 p.m. and steps off at 2 p.m.

Essex Ed will make his annual trip from Essex Boat Works to the top of Main Street. He will lead a raucous parade of antique cars, fire trucks, residents, and visitors.

Everyone is invited to don their groundhog gear and join in the fun. Children are encouraged to bring noisemakers – pots and pans, anything – to help awaken Ed from his long winters nap.

Part of the excitement annually is to find out how Ed is dressed. Each year, Essex Ed is costumed in unique attire to acknowledge a special occasion, person or organization. Past years have seen Ed dressed as historical figures, athletes, thespians, and musical performers. As always, this year’s costume is a secret but organizers guarantee that it will be a “huge hit” when Ed makes his appearance.

The parade is organized by the Essex Board of Trade.

For more information, visit www.essexct.com.

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“House of Cards” Director Speaks at CBSRZ Today

John David Coles

John David Coles

Connecticut fans of Netflix’s addictive phenomenon ‘House of Cards,’ will soon get a rare inside look into how this series on the struggle for power in Washington is made.

Executive producer/director John David Coles will speak at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 1, just weeks before the long-awaited Feb. 27 release of season 3. No tickets are required and the event is free of charge as part of the synagogue’s 100thanniversary cultural arts programming.

‘House of Cards’ stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Spacey, playing a sinister Frank Underwood, aims to beat back enough enemies to rise to the White House. A Washington Post reviewer noted that the “back stabbing, bed hopping, betraying, compromising and scandal mongering” captures ageless, Shakespearean themes. Coles and the creative team based the story on a 1990 BBC television miniseries and earlier book by Michael Dobbs, but let the actors and story craft fresh approaches to the ethics and psychology of power.

Coles is an award-winning director and producer known for evocative material with compelling performances from some of today’s most respected actors.  He has enjoyed success in features, television and theater while his production company, Talking Wall Pictures, has focused on the development of cutting edge feature and television projects.

Coles shot his first full length 16mm film at age 17 – a wry update of “Casablanca” re-imagined in a high school. While at Amherst College he directed a documentary about the school that was aired on PBS, and soon after was making short films for Saturday Night Live.

He then went on to become an editor on Francis Coppola’s “Rumble Fish” and “The Cotton Club.” His feature directorial debut, “Signs of Life,” starred Beau Bridges, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Mary Louise Parker. The film won the International Critics Prize at Deauville and launched a prolific and versatile directing career.

In television, Coles is one of the few directors who is equally adept at both drama and comedy.  He has directed numerous Emmy Award-winning series ranging from “Sex and the City” to “The West Wing,” and many other notable shows such as “Justified,” “Damages,” and “Bates Motel.”  Coles recently directed A&E’s “Those Who Kill” with Chloë Sevigny, and the new Starz original series Power.

His success as an episodic director allowed Coles to begin a producing career and one of his first projects, “Thief,” led to Andre Braughers’ Emmy award for Best Actor.  Other executive producer credits include hit drama “Elementary,” “Unforgettable,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” with Jeff Goldblum, “3LBS” with Stanley Tucci, “New Amsterdam,” and the drama “Wonderland,” a critically acclaimed series that addressed the frail boundaries of insanity within a New York City hospital’s psychiatric ward.

Coles continues to write and create original dramas through Talking Wall Pictures, which produced the CBS drama “Songs in Ordinary Time” (based on the Oprah Book Club pick) starring Sissy Spacek and Beau Bridges and co-created and executive produced the series “Crash and Burn.”  Talking Wall has developed numerous projects with HBO, CBS, New Line, IFC, Bravo and worked with numerous distinguished writers, including Academy Award nominated Mike Weller (“Hair”), Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright (“Quills”), Kate Robin (“Six Feet Under”) and Ann Peacock (“Nights in Rodanthe”).

In the theater world, Coles was a member of the Circle Rep Lab and an alumnus of Wynn Handman at the American Place Theater. His Off-Broadway credits include directing the critically acclaimed play “The Impostor” starring Austin Pendleton and Calista Flockhart, as well as “Johnny Suede,” starring Tom DiCillo.

Coles lives in New York with his wife Laura and his children, ­­­­­Sam and Jessica.  He is a Sundance Director’s Lab Alumni, and teaches at the Columbia University Graduate Film Program.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  Founded 100 years ago, CBSRZ translates as House of Peace Seeking Justice. Pegged as a “cultural center and architectural landmark” by the Jewish Ledger, CBSRZ goes by the moniker “ancient and cool” because of its pioneering fusion of renewed tradition with spiritual learning, cultural expression, and prayer labs. Located on the Connecticut River, it is the only public building ever designed by the internationally renowned artist Sol LeWitt. Find more information, 860-526-8920 or www.cbsrz.org or www.ancientandcool.com.

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‘Average Joe Photo Show’ on View at Lori Warner Gallery, Benefits Water.org

View of a Child by Maddy Richardson,  taken June 26, 2014, at Cuttyhunk, Mass.

‘View of a Child’ by Maddy Richardson, taken June 26, 2014, at Cuttyhunk, Mass.

The Average Joe Photo Show’s second exhibition is on view at the Lori Warner Gallery in Chester. A selection of photos selected for the show are pictured in this article.

The concept behind the exhibition was developed by two local women and a group of shoreline volunteers to celebrate the everyday perspective of the average person through a common medium: the camera app on a mobile phone.

'Glacier Water in July' by Peter B. Alosky, taken July 10, 2014, at April Bowl, Hatcher’s Pass, Alaska.

‘Glacier Water in July’ by Peter B. Alosky, taken July 10, 2014, at April Bowl, Hatcher’s Pass, Alaska

With a grass roots effort from January through December 2014 via word of mouth, social media and local papers, any “average joe” was invited to submit their cell phone photos while following a few simple rules, namely,that each image had to include some element of water as well as a component of the human figure.

'Red Parapluie… Paris' by Leighton Gleicher, taken Jan. 3, 2014, in Paris (France)

‘Red Parapluie … Paris’ by Leighton Gleicher, taken Jan. 3, 2014, in Paris (France)

Over 350 people submitted images that will be on display at the Lori Warner Gallery through Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22.

In the same way that most everyone throughout the world now sees the mobile phone as necessary to “survive” socially or professionally, everyone must have water to survive physically. With this in mind, the steering committee of the Average Joe Photo Show selected water.org as its 2014 philanthropic focus.

In 2015, Average Joe Photo Show will shift their philanthropic focus to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders to raise awareness and funds for their extraordinary humanitarian work and their efforts to give voice to communities disconnected from the world health system.

'Nectarine' by Sarah Rand, taken July 10, 2014, at Brookside Pool

‘Nectarine’ by Sarah Rand, taken July 10, 2014, at Brookside Pool

Each accepted photograph is printed in two limited editions and available for purchase, with 2 percent of photo sales donated to water.org or MSF/Doctors Without Borders and 40 percent going to the “Average Joe” Photographer.

If you missed submitting your photos for this year’s exhibition, you have until Jan. 1, 2015 to enter your photos taken during 2015.

Visit averagejoephotoshow.com for more information.

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