October 19, 2017

Archives for November 2015

Cappella Cantorum Presents a Holiday Festival with Chorus & Brass, Sunday

Christmas-musicCome and celebrate the holidays at Cappella Cantorum’s Holiday Festival concert with chorus and brass, Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River.

The concert will feature John Rutter’s ‘Gloria,’ Daniel Pinkham’s ‘Christmas Cantata,’ Hanukah songs, selections for brass and a carol sing.

Barry B. Asch is the Music Director and Conductor, Deborah Lyon is Assistant Music Director and Accompanist and Patricia Hurley serves as Cappella Cantorum Festival Brass Manager.

Tickets purchased in advance are $30 and are available at CappellaCantorum.org or by calling (860) 577-2950. Tickets at the door are $30, students $5 (cash or check only).

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Biographer Discusses Life & Times of Playwright Eugene O’Neill at Essex Library, Thursday

Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O’Neill

ESSEX — The Essex Library invites you to meet with Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, Robert M. Dowling for a talk on the life of Eugene O’Neill and a signing of his biography: Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts on Thursday, December 3rd at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library. The Irish Times calls the book “a powerful narrative”, and it has won praise from The Sunday Times, The Washington Post, Booklist, Provincetown Arts, and Publishers Weekly.

Dowling’s extensively researched book recounts O’Neill’s tumultuous life and highlights how the stories O’Neill told for the stage are interwoven with the events in the playwright’s own life.

Robert M. Dowling is a professor of English at Central Connecticut State University. He serves on the board of directors of the Eugene O’Neill Society and on the board of The Eugene O’Neill Review.

Books will be available for sale and signing through Essex Books. This program is free and open to all. Please call the Library at (860) 767-1560 for more information or to register. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

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Reading Uncertainly: ‘The Social Conquest of Earth’ by Edward O. Wilson

SocialConquest_Mech.inddWho are we?

This has been the eternal question of our curious and self-reflective species. Paul Gauguin, in Tahiti in 1897 in his final painting, expanded this question into three: D’ou Venons Nous? Que Sommes Nous? Ou Allons Nous?  (Where do we come from? What are we? And where are we going?) As the weather cools, it is time for some serious reading …

Edward O. Wilson, the noted Harvard chronicler of ants, has embarked on a trilogy to try and answer all three. The first, The Social Conquest of Earth, addresses the Gauguin threesome in short, pithy chapters, easy for today’s creatures accustomed to electronic social networks. No Proustian rambling for him!

“We have created a Star Wars civilization,” he begins, “with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology. We thrash about. We are terribly confused by the mere fact of our existence, and a danger to ourselves and to the rest of life.” His argument, which represents the story of the evolution of social life and its driving forces, is controversial.

It goes like this: “The social conquerors of Earth” dominate today, but they include not only homo sapiens but also ants, bees, wasps, and termites, species that are possibly more than 100 million years older than us (we emerged several 100,000 years ago, only spreading across this globe over the past 60,000 years). It is altogether probable that these other “eusocial species” — less than two percent of  the one million known species — will remain long after we disappear.

Our human condition is both selfish and selfless: “the two impulses are conflated … the worst of our nature coexists with the best, and so it will ever be.” Our “hereditary curse” is “our innate pugnacity … our bloody nature (in which) individuals prefer the company of others of the same race, nation, clan, and religion.”

Wilson continues, “The biological human mind is our province. With all its quirks, irrationality, and risky productions, and all its conflict and inefficiency, the biological mind is the essence and the very meaning of the human condition.”

In answering the question, “What are we?” Wilson explores the origins of culture, language, cultural variation, morality, honor, religions and creative art, suggesting “human beings are enmeshed in social networks.” And in these networks, we express our “relentless ambivalence and ambiguity … the fruits of the strange primate inheritance that rules the human mind.”

Wilson submits that religions are logical hallucinations in response to the ever-unanswered question, determining that, “ … religious faith is better interpreted as an unseen trap unavoidable during the biological history of our species. Humankind deserves better … than surrender and enslavement.”

The final chapter of this engrossing and illuminating exploration asks, “Where are we going?” Do we have free will? Wilson answers his question thus: “We are free as independent beings, but our decisions are not free of all the organic processes that created our personal brains and minds. Free will therefore appears to be ultimately biological.” Are we social creatures? Wilson suggests, ” … group selection (is) the driving force of where we have been and where we are going.”

We, a convoluted and introspective species, live in an “extremely complex biosphere” in which we must respect the “equilibrium created by all the other species, plants, animals, and microorganisms around us.” Failure to do so may mean our collapse or even that of the entire system.

But Wilson concludes on an optimistic note, saying, “Earth, by the twenty-second century, can be turned, if we so wish, into a permanent paradise for human beings, or at least the strong beginnings of one.”

This first philosophical exploration of human existence has been followed by the second, The Meaning of Human Existence, published in early 2015, and the third, The End of the Anthropocene will follow shortly.

Together they require serious reflection.

Editor’s Note: The Social Conquest of Earth, by Edward O.Wilson was published by W. W. Norton & Co., New York 2012.

Felix Kloman_headshot_2005_284x331-150x150About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction that explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farms Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings. His wife, Ann, is also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a bubbling village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visit every summer.

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LVVS Offers an Affordable Gift Idea

In the spirit of affordable giving, Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS), CT, Inc. is having a “Fill a Bag for $5” December book promotion on specially selected books.

The LVVS bookstore has a large variety of hardcover, paperback, and children’s books that include selections by well-known authors and topics such as gardening, crafts, and religion. Buy a bag full and fill a basket or stocking for a special reader or favorite teacher in your life.

LVVS is located on the lower level of the Westbrook Library, 61 Goodspeed Drive. Book sale hours are Monday-Thursday, 9-2:00 and the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month, 10:00AM-Noon.

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

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Start the Season with ‘Trees in the Rigging’ Community Carol Sing & Boat Parade, Today

Boats in the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade are decorated with holiday lights.

Boats in the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade are decorated with holiday lights.

ESSEX  Kick off the holiday season in Essex with the annual Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing and Lighted Boat Parade on Nov. 29.   The Connecticut River Museum, the Essex Board of Trade, and the Essex Historical Society combine to present this annual event that includes a traditional, lantern-lit carol stroll down Main Street where spectators are invited to bring their own lanterns or flashlights and join in with the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps and a parade of antique cars.

Participants can gather at the Essex Town Hall at 4 p.m. The stroll steps off at 4:30 p.m. beginning on West Ave. and ending at the Connecticut River Museum with a parade of vessels dressed out in holiday lights and passing in review along the Connecticut River.  Santa and his elves will arrive by one of the parade boats for visits with children on the lawn of the Connecticut River Museum. The Connecticut River Museum will also be open that evening for all to attend the 22th Annual Holiday Train Show at a reduced admission of $6.

Register Your Boat for the Lighted Boat Parade

A critical and crowed-pleasing part of this free community event is the parade of boats dressed in holiday lights that sail along Essex’s waterfront. The decorated boats are part of a friendly competition.  A modest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize will be awarded to the best dressed boats. Winners will be invited to receive their prize and participate in a photo-op on Monday, Nov. 30 at 4:30 p.m. at the Connecticut River Museum.

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

Make your Own Parade Lantern

Carolers can make their own lanterns for the parade.  Step 1: fill an empty aluminum can with water and freeze. This will make it easier to punch holes for the design in the can. Step 2: using a hammer and nail, punch holes in the can to make a connect-the-dots style picture of a holiday design. Use plenty of holes to allow the light to shine through. Step 3: punch two holes near the rim to attach a wire handle. Step 4: after the ice is melted, attach a votive or other small candle to the inside bottom of the can.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main St., Essex and is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information, call 860.767.8269 or visit www.ctrivermuseum.org.

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Ring in the Season in Chester Today

On Sunday, Nov. 29 Chester will “Ring in the Season” at its first Holiday Market of 2015. The town criers will ring out the news of what’s happening in town that morning.

On Sunday, Nov. 29 Chester will “Ring in the Season” at its first Holiday Market of 2015. The town criers will ring out the news of what’s happening in town that morning.

Once again Chester Center will welcome the holidays with its annual Holiday Market on four Sundays, Nov. 29 through Dec. 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stroll through the picturesque historic Chester village while shopping the market of local growers and producers of artisan baked goods, jams and jellies,  fall vegetables, fresh seafood and meats.

Want fresh seafood? Local Catch will be at the Chester Holiday Markets each week with a wide selection.

Want fresh seafood? Local Catch will be at the Chester Holiday Markets each week with a wide selection.

To add to the holiday spirit, Chester shops, restaurants and galleries will be dressed up in their holiday finery and offering special holiday happenings. On Sunday, Nov. 29, the Holiday Market theme is “Ring in the Season,” so you’ll find ding-a-ling discounts in some shops and town criers ringing out the news of what’s happening in town.

Buy Chester! Chester Rotary hats, Chester Historical Society books about Chester, Chester ornaments from every year including the new one – all will be sold at Chester’s Holiday Markets.

Buy Chester! Chester Rotary hats, Chester Historical Society books about Chester, Chester ornaments from every year including the new one – all will be sold at Chester’s Holiday Markets.

A schedule of each week’s happenings will be at Facebook.com/ChesterSundayMarket and Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT and will also be available at the market.

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Hadlyme Hall Fine Art & Crafts Show Runs Through 4pm Today

drawing_of_hallThe 14th annual Fine Art & Craft Show at Hadlyme Public Hall will be held over Thanksgiving weekend from Friday through Sunday. The event features artist Brian Keith Stephens from Old Lyme, Conn.

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

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

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

A full listing of the artists exhibiting is given below

 

Phyllis Bevington – Oil On Canvas

JoAnna Chapin – Watercolors

Linda Elgart – Oils & Enhanced Giclees

Paula Emery – Oils & Collages

Maureen Girard – Mixed Media

Matthew Goldman – Prints, Books, & Cards

Bud Haines – Handcarved Birds

Bonnie Bryne LeMay – Oil Paintings

Jill Beecher Matthew – Palette Knife Oils

Thomas McLean – Oil Paintings

Ron Olansen – Oil Paintings

Cora Preibis – Oil Paintings

Erin Reemsnyder – Photography

Maureen Tarbox – Oils & Watercolors

Lisa Tellier – Oils & Watercolors

Amy Amelia White – Oil on Canvas

Paul Maulucci – Wooden Bowls

Julliet Rutigliano – Eclectic Sterling Jewlery

Paula Goldman – Silver Circle Herbals

Frank Michael Winiski – Metal Sculpture

Marcy Furphy – Mayflower Soap

Laurie Gelston Alt – Ceramic Sculpture

Nancy McKinnon – Ballek’s Nursery

Hadlyme Garden Club

Loreen O’Neil – Handmade Felted Bags

For further information, click here.

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Land Trust’s Annual Photo Contest Celebrates 10 Years

Michael Cathcart (Honorable Mention, Cultural Category, 2015 contest)

Michael Cathcart (Honorable Mention, Cultural Category, 2015 contest)

The deadline for the Tenth Annual Land Trusts Amateur Photo Contest is January 31, 2016. Entry forms for the contest will be available only by email after December 1, 2015 at photocontest@lymelandtrust.org.

Amateur photographers are invited to share their love of the natural world by entering their favorite photographs.  Children age 14 and under are especially encouraged to submit photos in the Youth category. Participants, no matter their town of residence, may submit photos that focus on the celebrated and scenic countryside of Lyme, Old Lyme, Essex, Salem, and East Haddam. Land Trusts in these towns sponsor this photo contest.

Submissions are accepted from the first to the last day of January 2016. Contest rules are available online at lymelandtrust.org. The link is http://www.lymelandtrust.org/news/photo-contest/.

Contest awards are being funded with the generous support of RiverQuest /Connecticut River Expeditions, Ballek’s Garden Center, Essex Savings Bank, ChelseaGroton Bank, Evan Griswold at Coldwell Banker, Lorensen Auto Group, the Oakley Wing Group at Morgan Stanley, and Alison Mitchell in honor of her late husband John G. Mitchell. John G. Mitchell was a life-long environmentalist and former photo contest judge.

A panel of three judges will award $100, $75, $50 and $25 cash prizes in each of five categories. The categories are Landscape/Waterscape, Plants, Wildlife, and Cultural/Historic (human interaction with nature, including domestic animals and buildings), for participants 15 years of age or older. Photographers 14 years old or younger may enter photos on any of these subjects in the Youth Category.

The Photo Contest will be judged by William Burt, a naturalist and wildlife photographer acclaimed for his beautiful books; Amy Kurtz Lansing, an accomplished art historian and curator at the Florence Griswold Museum; and  Skip Broom, a respected, award-winning local photographer and antique house restoration housewright.

All entered photographs, plus all winning photos, will be displayed and celebrated in a public reception Friday, March 11, 2016.

The Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Essex Land Trust, the Old Lyme Land Trust, Salem Land Trust, and East Haddam Land Trust encourage amateur photographers to join the fun and share wonderful photos from these southern Connecticut towns. Previous Land Trusts Photo Contest winning photos, viewable at https://landtrustsphotos.shutterfly.com/, highlight the beauty of these towns and the pressing need to preserve the environments within these towns.

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Concert in the Garden Features Michelle Walker Jazz Quartet, Dec. 13

Leif Nilsson Concert in the Garden will feature the Michelle Walker Jazz Quartet on Sunday December 13 from 4-6 pm.

Bistro style seating in the Gallery.  Gates open half an hour before the show.  First come – first seated.

BYOB (Shop at the Chester package store across the street!)

Suggested donation $10.

Michelle Walker Jazz Quartet

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Armed with a provocative, whiskey-soaked tone, New York based jazz vocalist Michelle Walker is a charismatic and very versatile singer that uses an artful blend of blues, bebop, swing and soul with playful rhythmic expressiveness. She bends the lines and pushing the boundaries of jazz vocal art with rich colors and adventurous flexibility. She moves easily from a dark, deep tone to a mid-range, swinging lilt. In her upcoming release, Love Misery, Michelle brings together a collection of jazz standards, original songs and her arrangements of contemporary pop tunes effortlessly with her own genre-bending style. Mike Joyce of The Washington Post says “Walker….has seductive charm…” A Stunner in Concert. Dave Nathan of All About Jazz says “…[Walker]…she has an extraordinary degree of musicality….” Michelle is often compared to Cassandra Wilson, Nina Simone and Betty Carter in style and tone. Over the past 10 years, her group has toured internationally and has been a premier performer at Festivals, Concert Halls and Performing Art Centers including the lighting of the White House Christmas Tree.

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Happy Thanksgiving … and Let’s Talk Turkey

We wish all our readers a very happy Thanksgiving holiday and are pleased to republish an article that our good friend Linda Ahnert wrote for us in 2007 to celebrate Thanksgiving that year, but it it still as topical today as then.

Who Doesn’t Love Thanksgiving?

Giving thanks_bookSeveral years ago, a book entitled “Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie” was published. The co-authors are Kathleen Curtin, food historian at the Plimoth Plantation, Mass., and Sandra L. Oliver, food historian and publisher of the newsletter “Food History News.”

The book is a fascinating look at how an autumnal feast evolved into a “quintessential American holiday.”

Most Americans, introduced to the story of the Pilgrims and Indians during childhood, assume there is a direct link between the traditional holiday menu and the first Thanksgiving. But we learn from the book that many of those food items—such as mashed potatoes and apple pie—were simply impossible in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621. Potatoes were not introduced to New England until much later and those first settlers did not yet have ovens to bake pies.

What we do know about the bill of fare at the first celebration in 1621 comes from a letter written by colonist Edward Winslow to a friend in England: “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.”

Later 90 Indians joined the party with “their great king Massasoit whom for three days we entertained and feasted.” Then the Indians “went out and killed five deer which they brought to the plantation.”

So venison was a principal food on the menu. It also seems safe to assume that mussels, clams, and lobsters (all in plentiful supply) were served as well. According to other journals of the colonists, the “fowl” that Winslow described were probably ducks and geese. But wild turkeys were also bountiful in 1621, and so it is very likely that they were on the Pilgrims’ table. Thank goodness for that.

Throughout the New England colonies, it became common to proclaim a day of thanksgiving sometime in the autumn. In period diaries, there are many descriptions of food preparation—such as butchering and pie baking—followed by the notation that “today was the general thanksgiving.”

By the 19th century, Americans were taking the idea of a “thanksgiving” to a whole new level. The religious connotations were dropping away in favor of a holiday celebrating family and food. Roast turkey had become the centerpiece of these fall celebrations.

Turkeys, of course, were native to North America. (Benjamin Franklin, in a letter, had even proposed the turkey as the official U.S. bird!) And turkey was considered to be a fashionable food back in the mother country. Just think of the significance of turkey in Charles’ Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” When Scrooge wakes up in a joyful mood on Christmas morning, he calls to a boy in the street to deliver the prize turkey in the poulterer’s shop to the Cratchit family. (Earlier in the story, the poor Cratchits were dining on goose.)

It is thanks to a New England woman that Thanksgiving became an American holiday. Sarah Hale was a native of New Hampshire and the editor of “Godey’s Lady’s Book,” a popular women’s magazine. She lobbied for years for a national observance of Thanksgiving. She wrote editorials and sent letters to the president, all state governors, and members of Congress.

Finally, in 1863, she convinced Abraham Lincoln that a national Thanksgiving Day might help to unite the Civil War-stricken country. The fourth Thursday in November was now officially on the American calendar.

Connecticut’s own Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote this description of a New England Thanksgiving in one of her novels—“But who shall . . .describe the turkey, and chickens, and chicken pies, with all that endless variety of vegetables which the American soil and climate have contributed to the table . . . After the meat came the plum-puddings, and then the endless array of pies. . .”

The autumnal feast became a national holiday, but each region of the country put its own spin on the menu. Not to mention that immigrants have also added diversity. The result is a true “melting pot” of America. The second half of “Giving Thanks” contains recipes that reflect what Americans eat for Thanksgiving in the 21st century.

In the South, for instance, the turkey might be stuffed with cornbread and there would be pecan and sweet potato pies on the table. In New Mexico, chiles and Southwestern flavors may be added to the stuffing.

There’s the “time-honored traditional bread stuffing” recipe. There’s also one for a Chinese American rice dressing and directions for a Cuban turkey stuffed with black beans and rice. Desserts run the gamut from an (authentic) Indian pudding to an (exotic) coconut rice pudding. Old-fashioned pumpkin pie is included as well as the newfangled pumpkin cheesecake.

But no matter what food items grace our Thanksgiving tables, it seems that we all end up stuffing ourselves silly. Perhaps overeating started at that very first harvest celebration in 1621. In Edward Winslow’s letter describing the feast with the Indians, he noted that food was not always this plentiful. But he wrote his friend in England “ … yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

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The Movie Man: See ‘Spectre’ … Though It’s Not Bond’s Best

Headshot_v2We’re delighted to welcome a new writer to our fold today. Kevin Ganey joins us as our movie critic: he will be submitting regular reviews of movies in a variety of genres. He has lived in the Lyme/Old Lyme area since he was three-years-old, attended Xavier High School in Middletown and recently graduated from Quinnipiac University with a degree in Media Studies. Prior to his involvement here at Shoreline Web News LLC, he worked for Hall Radio in Norwich, as well as interned under the Director of Communications at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center. Kevin has a passion for movies, literature, baseball, and all things New England-based … especially chowder.

He opens his column series with a review of the latest Bond movie, ‘Spectre:’

"Spectre poster" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

“Spectre poster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

“Bond. James Bond.”

Since the 1962 release of Dr. No, six actors have had the pleasure of playing the iconic James Bond, or 007. For many years, it had been consider blasphemy to assert that any of the six actors aside from Sean Connery was Bond, as in he truly embodied the character and was the first actor moviegoers would think of when somebody brought 007 up in conversations. However, on a cold night in November of 2012, as I left the Niantic Cinema after seeing Skyfall, I literally proclaimed to others that Daniel Craig, not Connery, was Bond.

I do not think that I am alone when it comes to this opinion. My younger brother shares it, and he also proudly tells people that he knows every line to Craig’s first film as Bond, Casino Royale. We are fans of Craig’s gritty approach to the character, a quiet man with a killer’s stare, a force with which to be reckoned. He was not as comical as Roger Moore, or as suave as Pierce Brosnan, or, as my mom says, “campy” like Sean Connery. Each actor brings a new approach to Ian Fleming’s iconic spy, and I must say that I am more than satisfied with Daniel Craig’s interpretation.

So, it was with great pleasure that I embarked on a journey to Westbrook’s Marquee Cinema 12 on the premiere date for Eon Production’s 24th film about the secret agent, Spectre. When I was 11-years-old, my parents gave me a DVD collection that contained seven Bond films, which included Dr. No, Goldfinger, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Licensed to Kill, Goldeneye, and Tomorrow Never Dies, and I was quickly captivated by this heroic figure. As soon as I learned this film’s title, I immediately remembered the organization of the same name that Bond was constantly combating in the earlier films. The name stood for SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion.

This film begins just weeks after Skyfall left off, with Judi Dench’s M still in the memories of all MI6 agents, replaced by Ralph Fiennes. Bond has just completed a semi-rogue mission in Mexico City (ordered by Judi Dench’s M just before she died in a video message), thwarting a terrorist attack during a Day of the Dead celebration. Grounded by the new M, Bond requests help from Moneypenny and Q to make him disappear in order to find more information in regards to the mission he just completed.

He is led back to a member of QUANTUM, a criminal organization — Mr. White, whom he encountered in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, now leads him on the trail to the even bigger organization “Spectre,” headed by a mysterious man named Franz Oberhauser, played by Christoph Waltz. M also deals with the emergence of a young government official, whom Bond calls C, running a new organization that monitors criminal activity, who also seeks to bury the Double-O system.

This film brings the previous four Bond films together, as all the villains were connected somehow before, and, without giving away too many spoilers, Oberhauser reveals this to be a form of revenge against Bond, as he knew him very intimately in the past. And I take a further risk by saying this to ardent Bond fans: Oberhauser reveals himself to be a memorable character from the earlier films.

I was expecting a great performance from Waltz, since he has won two Academy Awards over the last five years, but sadly, I was unhappy with his portrayal of a Bond villain. And my disappointment was compounded because Javier Bardem, who played the villain in Skyfall, and is also an Academy Award winner, gave what I consider to be one of greatest performances as a bad guy in that movie.

But Spectre does have its redeeming qualities. Sam Smith’s credit song, “Writing’s on the Wall” (I think this was also a reference to an exchange between Bond and Q in the 1995 installation, Goldeneye) was enjoyable and had a similar approach to Adele’s “Skyfall.” Q provided entertaining gadgets, including the classic donation of a multi-purposed watch, as well as humorously “giving” Bond an incomplete Aston Martin.

The main team that we are familiar with at MI6 (M, Q, and Moneypenny) is much more hands-on than they have been in the past, with all members in the field, partaking in the missions, in contrast to previous installments when Q stays in his lab, Moneypenny helps brief Bond and shows hints of her crush, and M behind the desk scolding Bond for going rogue.

But the way I saw it as I entered the movie theater, as long as you did not have a song by Madonna or an invisible car (both came from Die Another Day, which was the reason for rebooting the series), we were in for a good Bond film. Granted I should not enter a movie theater thinking “as long as it was not as bad as X, then it’s a great movie!”

What I will say is that it was a decent film, worthy of being a part of the Bond series. It is not the best, as I came in expecting greater things, but nonetheless, I have no problem including this on a list of Bond films to binge watch (an interesting millennial term) in a weekend. I would definitely recommend this movie to fellow movie-goers, not because of its critical value, but simply because it is an installment of the world’s most famous spy.

Who’s the other guy again? Jack Ryan?

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Letter From Paris: Thoughts on the Aftermath of Friday the 13th

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 1.10.55 PMThe Nov. 13 attack was not the end of it.

The Parisians lived through a first somber weekend listening to the non-stop sirens of police cars. On Nov. 18, RAID (Recherche-Assistance-Intervention-Dissuasion), assisted by hundreds of special police forces launched a massive assault in St Denis, barely one kilometer from the Stade de France and next to the 12th century basilica of the kings of France. At four in the morning and for seven hours the tiny street became a war scene of incredible violence. Explosions shook the shabby buildings so much that walls and floors collapsed.

Two suspects, a woman and a man, unidentified for almost two days, were found in the rubble. Terrorist Salah Abdelslam was still on the run. Every day the police uncovered new details about the terrorists — in Montreuil and in the 18th arrondissement. On Nov. 23, a belt with explosives was found on a sidewalk in Montrouge, south of Paris. The Belgium connection intensified, particularly in Melenbeek, a town with a mostly Moslem population and 85 mosques. One week after the French attack, a major terrorist threat forced the Belgian capital to shut down for several days.

How are the French coping? They feel “80 percent anger and 15 percent pain,” commented Thierry Pech, head of the Terra Nova Fondation. One feels outraged that petty delinquents, often on drugs, would commit such atrocities. A mood of mourning and solidarity spread throughout France.

We are now in another era, prime minister Manuel Valls declared, and we will have to learn how to live with terror but must not give in to it. The French people have heard this sobering message and are behaving with great dignity, albeit with nervousness. At no point did the citizens feel an infringement on their personal freedom. Public debates , such as the Friday night TV show “Ce soir ou Jamais”, are more heated than ever.

There was a temporary disconnect between the politicians and the general public. During a stormy session at the Assemblée Nationale, Les Republicains (LR) (new name of UMP) gave a hard time to the prime minister. Catcalls and jeers made his speeches barely audible. The right wing daily Le Figaro explained how Christian Jacob, leader of the LR parliamentary group, instructed his party to calm down. On the following day, the behavior of the deputés was exemplary as they voted unanimously to prolong the Etat d’urgence (state of emergency) for three months.

To reassure the population, the government took several security measures including the creation of 10,000 posts in the police and border control personnel. A major change in the Code Pénal was put in place to facilitate searches of private homes and house arrests, as well as preventive arrests without the intervention of a judge. Close to one thousand searches were carried out last week, which is more than during a full year under normal circumstances. To enhance the efficiency of the police, the definition of legitimate defence is being altered.

The Patriot Act, signed into law by the US Congress on Oct. 21 2001, developed surveillance on the whole nation and the gathering of “metadata.” It is very different in France, since the new administrative and judiciary steps, taken by the Executive, are targeted at a concrete enemy of about 11,000 dangerous individuals, registered on the “S” form, living in the midst of the population, practically next door. In the US, the task of protecting the country is shared between the Justice Department, the Homeland Security, the FBI and the 50 states. In France, overall responsibility lies with the Ministre de l’Interieur – at present Bernard Cazeneuve.

When it became known that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was finally identified in the St. Denis assault, a co-author of the terrorist attack of Nov. 13, had been on the loose for several months, it literally infuriated public opinion. Flaws in the surveillance system became obvious. That man was well known by the Intelligence officials, had taken part in four out of six recent aborted attacks, and, at one time, was convicted to 20 years in prison. He made several round trips to Syria and apparently passed easily through porous airports, including Istanbul.

Close to one million migrants have entered Europe since the beginning of the year and there is no end in sight. Should the Schengen principle of free circulation of people and goods within the European Union (EU) be suspended? The Paris correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung thinks that, to abandon Schengen, would be a very serious threat to the survival of Europe.

But many disagree with that opinion.

The “Schengen Space” was created in 1985 for five countries and intended to function in peaceful and normal times when the external frontiers were real. That is not the case any more. How can Greece, financially broke, stop or at least control 80 percent of the migrants who have landed on their shores?

The European Commission is trying to alleviate the situation somewhat. One decision is to apply the PNR (passenger name record) even on EU nationals entering the continent. The other is to intensify the controls of arms and assault weapons’ spare parts coming mainly from the Balkans. The idea of depriving bi-national jihadists of one of their nationalities is also being considered.

On the diplomatic and military scenes, the repercussions of Nov. 13 have been huge. It seems to have caused a major turn- around in the main powers’ policy – a 180 degree shift, one might say. No one wanted to admit they were making concessions, but they did. Suddenly Putin recognized that the Russian plane had indeed been blown up over the Sinai desert. He changed course and started limiting his air strikes to Daesch (ISIS) and no longer to Syrian rebels. In a recent interview in the courtyard of the Elysée Palace, John Kerry did not mention the ousting of Bachar al-Assad as a preliminary condition to negotiations. The French, who had been the most hawkish among the warring countries prior to 2012, skipped Assad’s removal as well. It is concentrating the action of its Rafales on Rakka, the self-proclaimed capital of Daech. At this point, none of the main powers are willing to put “boots on the ground.” The only boots one has seen so far are Kurdish boots.

This will be a marathon week for François Hollande: Cameron on Monday, Obama on Tuesday, Merkel on Wednesday and Putin on Thursday. His objective is to build up a single coalition against Daech.

Intense soul-searching and analyses by experts are going on to try and understand a conflict to which we have never before been exposed. Can we win a war against terrorism? No, said former minister of foreign Affairs Dominique de Villepin. We cannot defeat this invisible enemy, which we have helped create.

What is Daesch really and what does it want? To destabilize our society by increasing the divide between Moslems and our secular values, says Gilles Keppel, professor at Sciences Po and a specialist on Islam. Philosopher Alain Finkelkraut believes that Daesch is not just reacting to the bombings. He says that by nature it is a conquering culture and today it is on a crusade to destroy the West.

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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Vista Members Publish Memoirs

From left are Evan Brookman, Devery Morgan, Jocelyn Ruggiero, Dana Rupley and Matt Christiaanse during the memoir reading at CREATE Art Studio. Credit: Vanessa Pereira

From left are Evan Brookman, Devery Morgan, Jocelyn Ruggiero, Dana Rupley and Matt Christiaanse during the memoir reading at CREATE Art Studio. Credit: Vanessa Pereira

Four members of Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center have accomplished a feat many have only dreamed about— publishing a book.

Evan Brookman, Matt Christiaanse, Devery Morgan and Dana Rupley recall memories, life experiences and even look to the future in memoirs they wrote and published during a seven-week Vista Arts Center class taught by writer Jocelyn Ruggiero. These newly published authors shared passages from their books on Nov. 12th during a reading held at CREATE Art Studio in Madison.

“I liked telling my story to my family, friends and Vista staff,” said Dana. Her memoir, “Pieces of My Life,” recounts her early years at Vista and includes anecdotes about loved ones. “I feel a sense of accomplishment.”

In his memoir, “My Life at Vista and Beyond,” Evan, too, focuses on his time at Vista. He chronicles his journey through the program—from the nerves he experienced his first week, to the confidence and friendships he has developed over the years.  His book also serves as a tribute to his late grandmother, of whom he shares fond memories.

“I thought making part of [the book] about her would be a perfect way to honor her,” Evan said.

Matt took a different approach in his memoir, “My Life.” Instead of recalling a memory, he imagines what the future may hold and details his aspirations of moving to Los Angeles to become an actor and singer.

Devery, who Jocelyn called a prolific writer, centered her memoir on a more emotional topic—the cause of her disability. In “I Fought My Way in Life,” she tells the story of how her life was forever changed after being involved in a car accident at age two.

Although a painful story, Devery enjoyed the writing process. She said writing gives her a voice and allows her to express things she wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

“For me, writing is like a painting where you have nothing on paper, but in time, you will get a beautiful picture and writing is the picture,” Devery said. “If I could write for a living, I would be in heaven!”

Copies of these memoirs are available for purchase. For information, contact Arts Program Manager Amanda Roberts at aroberts@vistavocational.org.

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Volunteers Needed for Tax Preparation Assistance

Volunteer Jay Keiser helps a client prepare their tax return at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Middlesex United Way office

Volunteer Jay Keiser helps a client prepare their tax return at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at the Middlesex United Way office

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

VITA is a national program of the IRS, and volunteers are trained and certified to ensure that working families and individuals are filing for all of the appropriate tax credits. The program also helps families who might be struggling financially by saving them costly fees associated with tax preparation and rapid refund loans.

The program is looking for volunteers for two VITA sites located in downtown Middletown to provide free tax preparation assistance for eligible taxpayers. Tax preparation is offered January 23–April 12, 2016 at Middlesex United Way’s office in 100 Riverview Center and at NEAT’s office on Main Street.

No prior experience is necessary. Volunteers complete training and are certified by the IRS. Training will be held January 4-7 or January 11-14, 2016, and volunteers need to attend consecutive evening sessions.  Volunteers will be trained to let taxpayers know if they qualify for additional tax credits, such as the federal and the state Earned Income Tax Credits and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. VITA volunteers must complete a minimum of one 4-hour shift per week during tax season in the late afternoons and evenings or on Saturdays; maintain confidentiality of all client information; and interact with the public in a helpful and supportive manner. Opportunities to become certified as an advanced tax preparer are also available.

In 2015, the two VITA sites in Middletown helped more than 570 Middlesex County area residents file their taxes for free and returned more than $770,000 back to taxpayers. Those who filed with Middletown VITA sites had an average adjusted gross income of about $21,000 and received an average refund of $1,656, money they have earned. This impacts not only those who filed their taxes, but also their families and the local economy.

To volunteer or learn more, contact Leah Meyer at 860-227-7409 or leah.meyer99@gmail.com.

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

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Head for the Woods Today with Old Saybrook Land Trust

OSLT Board members on the Oyster River property after it's purchase was complete in 2014. L-R Bob Lorenz, Joe Nochera, Cathy Malin, Ann Gamble, Barb Guenther, Laurel Friedmann, Mike Urban and John Ogren.(photo by Jen Gamble)

OSLT Board members on the Oyster River property after it’s purchase was complete in 2014. L-R Bob Lorenz, Joe Nochera, Cathy Malin, Ann Gamble, Barb Guenther, Laurel Friedmann, Mike Urban and John Ogren.(photo by Jen Gamble)

OLD SAYBROOK – Saturday, Nov. 21, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Old Saybrook Land Trust will work on their property fronting the Oyster River. The public is invited public to join in the fun/work and share in a barbecue lunch.

The OSLT purchased the six acres in 2014 and has since worked to remove excess brush and improve accessibility. Come on out to help continue the work, or just stop by to enjoy the late fall weather and meet some OSLT members. This property is a great bird watching area, and a knowledgeable naturalist will help with spotting and identifying the many types of birds known to frequent the area. Bring binoculars if possible.

To reach the property, travel on Ingham Hill Road by McDonald’s in Old Saybrook, and look for the Old Saybrook Land Trust Event sign along the right hand side of the road near mailbox number 68. This is a free event.

For more detailed directions and other information , visit oslt.org, or send an email to oldsaybrooklandtrust@oslt.org.

 

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Letter from Paris: Je Suis en Terrasse — Reflections on Life After the Terrorist Attacks

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

For the second time in 2015, Paris was the target of the terrorists. But, in contrast to the “Charlie Hebdo” massacre, the attacks were not made in the name of an idea, like freedom of expression — especially of the press, or to single out the Jewish community, but aimed at French society as a whole. The blind rampage was intended to butcher the greatest number of normal Parisians having fun on a Friday night.

The killings took place almost simultaneously in five places obviously following a well prepared scenario acted by three professional and heavily armed commandos. Never before had the French been exposed to kamikazes. The carnage left 129 dead, 355 injured including more than 99 in critical condition.

Logo_French_flag

It all started at 9.20 p.m. at the Stade de France, north of Paris, on Friday, Nov. 13, where the Bleus were playing against a German soccer team in front of 80,000 spectators. President François Hollande was in the crowd. He left discreetly at half time. In spite of two explosions, the match went on uninterrupted to avoid the panic. Afterwards the public lingered on the lawn, still dazed. Spontaneously the crowd started singing the Marseillaise. Outside the stadium, the double suicide had left a scene of destruction. The social networks went to work. Taxis offered free rides. Twitter launched an operation “open doors” to disoriented people.

In rapid succession , the terrorists drove from one crowded place to another in the 10th and the 11th arrondissements to proceed with their slaughter: Le Petit Cambodge, the Carillon bar, the Cosa Nostra restaurant and finally La Belle Equipe on Rue Charonne,

An American rock group was on stage when four terrorists broke into the concert hall Bataclan packed with an audience of 1,500. They started shooting blindly at people. From the account of a seasoned policeman, the scene of horror was apocalyptic. Bodies were lying in pools of blood. After holding a group of hostages for three hours and using them as ramparts against the assault of the special forces, the terrorists blew themselves up, using their belts padded with sophisticated explosives.

Why was the 11th arrondissement again the main target of the terrorist attack? Since I live there, I have pondered over this question. Ann Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, gave some of the answers during an interview on TV. The 11th, she said with some pride, is a multi-ethnic, socially mixed population with large and visible religious communities. It has a distinct personality, rebellious and rather impertinent. The French call these types of people “bo-bo” (meaning bohemian-bourgeois.) It is an unpalatable cocktail for the IS (Islamic State).

The other reason why terrorists seem to be attracted to the 11th might be the availability of good hiding places in this working class arrondissement – the largest of Paris. Geographically the 11th is close to “difficult” suburbs. Finally, It is near the highway leading to Brussels. The inquiry has revealed connections between the authors of the Paris attack and the Molenbeek district, a hotbed of radical Islam in Belgium.

Eiffel_Tower_model_flowers

As it is often the case at time of crisis, people show their best side. It certainly was true with the French who rose up above their usual attitude of self-disparagement. Here are just a few examples — the police, the SAMU (ER), the Red Cross, the army, the BRI (brigade de Recherche et d’Investigation), the RAID (Recherche-Assistance-Intervention-Dissuasion) and other elite units could all be considered as heroes. Doctors and surgeons happened to be on strike on Friday Nov. 13, but returned to work with news of the killings. Some even volunteered in services other than their own. At the Pompidou hospital, dozens of volunteers waited three hours to donate blood. People living near the attacks opened their apartments to wounded victims.

François Hollande acted as a compassionate and strong president during the crisis and announced immediate security measures to reassure the population. He declared a etat d’urgence or highest state of alert, suspending temporarily individual liberties and including the delay of all street manifestations, of public gatherings and the closing of monuments, etc. It was a bleak sight for the tourists to see the Tour Eiffel lost in darkness. To emphasize national unity, Hollande convened a Congress made up of the National Assembly and Senate in solemn Versailles. It was the first time that had happened since the Algerian war in 1962.

The French colors appeared on monuments around the world in an amazing show of support. President Obama was the first leader to make a declaration; Angela Merkel, who marched in the streets of Paris on Jan. 11, extended her message of friendship; David Cameron declared – in French – Nous sommes tous solidaires. The Moscovites laid flowers in front of the French embassy in Moscow. In a different tone, Bashar al-Assad told the people of France: you suffered last night, but think of what the Syrian population has lived with during the past five years.

One detects an acceleration of terrorist attacks: Ankara in October, Lebanon and the crash of a Russian plane in November. IS is now exporting its war to other countries. It is an assymetric war since one side welcomes death. Zero security is impossible to guarantee. All one can do is to minimize the danger .

For the past 15 years, France has been on the front line of the war against radical Islam and acted alone in the Sahel, Mali, Nigeria, Chad. For the past two and half months, France has taken part in the air strikes over Syria. This is a brave but dangerous policy, probably untenable in the long term.

Bernard Guetta, specialist in geopolitics and commentator on France-Inter, described the Nov. 13 tragedy as a shock therapy, which might lead to a strong coalition able to defeat IS.

On Sunday, two days after the attack, the Parisions were still nervous. I was walking on the Bastille square when police cars suddenly cordoned off the avenue — rumor of an explosion spread. In a panic, people started running. I had to run also so as not to be caught in the stampede. Thankfully, it was a false alarm!

It is your duty as a citizen, a comedian joked on the radio the other day, to sit on the terrace of a cafe and have a drink to show you are not afraid. To-day, one does not say, “Je suis Charlie,” but rather, “Je suis en terrasse.”

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Essex Elementary School Foundation Hosts Talent Showcase with Scott Haney as EmCee

WFSB's Scot Haney and 5th grader Kendra Cika emcee the show

WFSB’s Scot Haney and 5th grader Kendra Cika emcee the show ( all photos courtesy of EESF)

ESSEX — Comedians, jugglers, singers, pianists and Karate masters strutted their stuff at the Essex Elementary School Talent Showcase on Tuesday, Nov. 9.  The crowd cheered as students performed their talents, while WFSB personality Scot Haney served as emcee

4th grader Owen Peterson has excellent martial arts moves

4th grader Owen Peterson has excellent martial arts moves

This special night was sponsored by the Essex Elementary School Foundation (EESF), a not-for-profit, volunteer organization that provides independent financial resources for worthy educational projects and enrichment programs, such as a mathematician-in-residence and an iPad lab.  Students walked away equal winners in this non-competitive talent show.

Led by EESF board member Cathy Poulin, the showcase utilized the skills of local volunteers, such as Patty Carver, of the Connecticut Children’s Theatre.

4th grader Charlie Whelan entertains the crowd with comedy

4th grader Charlie Whelan entertains the crowd with comedy

The event raised more than $400 for the organization.

For more information about the EESF, visit www.essexelementaryschoolfoundation.org.  Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to Essex Elementary School Foundation, PO Box 882, Essex CT 06426.

4th grader Zoey Michel leads the entire group in a rendition of "Glad You Came"

4th grader Zoey Michel leads the entire group in a rendition of “Glad You Came”

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Local Firm Receives FDA Approval for Medical Devices

PCI Medical’s newly remodeled, 36,000 square foot, state-of-art headquarters

PCI Medical’s newly remodeled, 36,000 square foot, state-of-art headquarters

DEEP RIVER –  PCI Medical is pleased to announce that it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the ASTRA VR and ASTRA TEE automated reprocessors used to facilitate the high-level disinfection of endocavity ultrasound probes.

“The ASTRA VR and ASTRA TEE automated reprocessors are the next innovation in ultrasound probe disinfection,” stated Philip Coles, Founder and Chairman of PCI Medical. “For over 20 years PCI Medical has developed high-level disinfection systems for ultrasound probes to help keep patients and probes safe, while saving our customers money. The ASTRA series automatically controls the time, temperature and rinse cycles for the probes while providing fully automated data logging.”

The ASTRA VR is an automated reprocessor for the high-level disinfection and rinsing of one or two endovaginal/endorectal ultrasound probes.  The ASTRA TEE is an automated reprocessor for the high-level disinfection and rinsing of one or two transesophageal (TEE) probes.

The ASTRA® series of automated reprocessors offer many unique features that help users meet audit and accreditation requirements for Joint Commission and Infection Control standards. The ASTRA uses a reusable, industry standard high-level disinfectant that dramatically minimizes cycle costs. A single gallon of disinfectant can be reused in the system for up to 14 days. A built-in bar code reader captures and automatically stores information including: type of disinfectant, probe ID and operator ID. The ASTRA also automatically captures and logs temperature, date and time of disinfection, MRC pass or fail and cycle outcome. All of the data from the last 1,000 cycles is stored on the ASTRA and downloaded via a USB port as needed.

For more information on the ASTRA series of automated reprocessors, go to www.pcimedical.com/astra/

About PCI Medical – Experts in High-Level Disinfection®

For over 20 years, PCI Medical has developed and manufactured high-level disinfection systems. PCI Medical manufactures a complete line of GUS® manual soak stations as well as Storage Systems for endovaginal/endorectal, general purpose probes and TEE probes, and other accessories for high-level disinfection such as spill kits and neutralizers. GUS Disinfection Soak Stations are used in over 6,000 facilities throughout the US and Canada.

In addition to quality products, the PCI Medical Disinfection Team helps facilities to become or stay compliant in the high-level disinfection process, from pre-cleaning through to storage. They are Experts in High-Level Disinfection. For more information about PCI Medical products and educational offerings, please visit www.pcimedical.com

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Gowrie Group Aims to Raise $1 Million to Benefit Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries

Gowrie Group Team serving lunch at the Old Saybrook meal site location.

Gowrie Group Team serving lunch at the Old Saybrook meal site location.

“I never expected to hit such tough times, but thank God for the food pantry.” This message was written by a shoreline resident and guest of the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP), during a recent family financial crisis. Shoreline Soup Kitchens gave her the food she needed, no questions asked. Helping shoreline families like hers who are facing food insecurity is one of Gowrie Group’s most important outreach initiatives.

That desire to give back to the community in a meaningful way is why for the past 11 years Gowrie Group has focused much of its charitable giving on supporting SSKP.  Since 1989, SSKP has provided food and fellowship to neighbors in need who reside in Chester, Clinton, Deep River, East Lyme, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook. Last year they distributed more food than ever before – over 1 million pounds of groceries. This year the number of people in need continues to rise, and the SSKP has had a 14 percent increase in the amount of food distributed at their five local pantries.

In response to this need, Gowrie Group is launching their 12th annual matching challenge with a $25,000 donation to the SSKP.  Five local companies — The Safety Zone, LC Doane Company, Tower Labs, Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale, and the Tariq Farid Foundation – are providing an additional $22,500 in matching funds.

This year, Gowrie Group is challenging the community of local businesses and friends to help them meet and exceed an ambitious goal – raising $125,000. Meeting this year’s goal will put the lifetime total amount raised by the Gowrie Group Shoreline Soup Kitchen Challenge over the Million Dollar mark. The 2015 Gowrie Group Challenge runs from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31.

Carter Gowrie, CEO of Gowrie Group said, “We are extremely proud that over the past 11 years, we have raised almost $1,000,000 to benefit those in need in our community and support the great work the SSKP does. We greatly appreciate the donations made by so many of our clients, local businesses, and friends each and every year.  I look forward to us together breaking the million dollar mark this year.”

“Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries is so grateful for all those who support the Gowrie Challenge.  Every year this campaign shows the commitment of our community to caring for others. On behalf of the thousands of those we serve every year, I say thank you,” says Patty Dowling, SSKP Executive Director.

Throughout the year, Gowrie Group and its employees donate time and services to soup kitchens and pantries across New England.  Each summer, Gowrie employees prepare and serve a lunch at an SSKP meal site in Old Saybrook, CT.  Before the holidays, Gowrie employees host canned food drives at each office location – Westbrook CT, Darien CT, Newport RI, North Kingstown RI, Marshfield, MA, Manchester, NH – and donate the collected goods to local entities.  Employees and their families also help out regularly at a variety of food pantries and meal service locations across the region.

Appreciation is expressed to the 2015 Gowrie Challenge partner and media sponsors: The Safety ZoneLC Doane CompanyTower LabsLenny & Joe’s Fish Tale, and Tariq Farid Foundation. Media Sponsors: Shore Publishing and WLIS/WMRD

Donations can be made online at www.shorelinesoupkitchens.org; click the “Donate” button and select “Gowrie Challenge.”

Donations by mail should be sent to: The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, Attn: Gowrie Group Challenge, P.O. Box 804, Essex, Connecticut 06426.

Two special events will benefit the Gowrie Group Shoreline Soup Kitchen Challenge.

On Black Friday, Nov. 27, the “Shoreline Soup Kitchen Benefit Concert” will take place at The Kate, in Old Saybrook.

On Dec. 5 and 6, Dancing to End Hunger, a ballet performance of “Ahavah: The Story of Christmas,” will take place at the Morgan School in Clinton.

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Collomore Concert Series Present Classical Guitarist Jorge Caballero, Chester, Nov. 29

Jorge Caballero, an internationally award-winning classical guitarist, will perform at the Chester Meeting House on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. Tickets are available through CollomoreConcerts.org.

Jorge Caballero, an internationally award-winning classical guitarist, will perform at the Chester Meeting House on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. Tickets are available through CollomoreConcerts.org.

On Sunday, Nov. 29 at the Chester Meeting House, the Collomore Concert Series is honored to present classical guitarist Jorge Caballero, the youngest musician and the only guitarist to win the Naumburg International Competition, one of the most prestigious and coveted awards given to performers of any instrument.

Caballero is known for his dazzling virtuosity, intense musicality and spellbinding performances. New York Times called him a “superb young guitarist” and praised his rare combination of “a deft, powerful technique and a soft-spoken interpretive persona.”

The International Guitar Symposium described him: “He has perfect technique and plays at a pace that’s spellbinding. He can also impress us with expression and loveliness, as well as stunning strength. At its most sensational is probably his command of voice leading that simply often sounds like two or three guitars and not one.”

Jorge Caballero’s Chester Meeting House concert will be at 5 p.m. on Nov. 29. Tickets are $24, adult; $5, student, and are available through the website, CollomoreConcerts.org or by calling 860-526-5162. Ticket holders are invited to stay for the reception after the concert to meet the musician and enjoy refreshments donated by Dough on Main. This is the last concert in the 42nd season of the Collomore Concert series.

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Learn ‘The Bear Facts’ about Black Bears in CT Tonight in Chester Town Hall

It's true that black bears are being sighted in Connecticut, but this black bear in the tree was discovered by Chester photographer Al Malpa in the Great Smokies.

It’s true that black bears are being sighted in Connecticut, but this black bear in the tree was discovered by Chester photographer Al Malpa in the Great Smokies.

Yes, according to the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), there have been sightings of black bears in our towns.

The town of Chester has had the most sightings of any of the Valley Shore towns – 14 – in the 12-month period since November 2014.

While this number is lower than northwestern Connecticut towns, a DEEP spokesman was quoted in a recent article in the Hartford Courant as saying, “Most of us live adjacent to bear habitat, so most of us can expect bears to be near our homes as the population increases.”

So the Chester Library and Chester Land Trust are teaming up to present “The Bear Facts: Black Bears in Connecticut” on Friday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at Chester Town Hall on Rte. 154. The free presentation will be given by Master Wildlife Conservationist Paul Colburn through the DEEP.

Colburn’s program will focus on the natural history of black bears in our state. He will provide an overview of black bear habitat, diet and behavior, and current research efforts.  He will also provide recommendations for coexistence with our black bear population.

The program is best suited to adults and children over age 11. Refreshments will be served.

For more information, call the Chester Library at 860-526-0018.

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Quilts of Valor – Ten Local Veterans Honored with Quilt Presentations

IMG_3706The Estuary Council of Seniors in Old Saybrook, along with the Connecticut Chapter of Quilts of Valor were privileged on Veterans Day to honor 10 local veterans with quilt presentations.  The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to “cover” service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor made by dedicated volunteers.

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Local History Adds to Memories for Thanksgiving Visitors

These girondolas were made for the 1876 Centennial and belonged to the Southworth family of Deep River. They have been in place on the Deep River Historical Society’s Stone House parlor mantel for more than 150 years. The two end pieces depict a man and woman dressed in Colonial style with tricorn hat - the center piece is Daniel Boone and an Indian scout plus another figure representing the westward expansion of the US.

These girondolas were made for the 1876 Centennial and belonged to the Southworth family of Deep River. They have been in place on the Deep River Historical Society’s Stone House parlor mantel for more than 150 years. The two end pieces depict a man and woman dressed in Colonial style with tricorn hat – the center piece is Daniel Boone and an Indian scout plus another figure representing the westward expansion of the US.

Thanksgiving is a time of traditions and memories. For the second year in a row, the historical societies of Chester, Deep River and Essex are helping you begin a new tradition while you savor the memories of times past. The three historic museums in the tri-town will be open at no charge on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving so you can visit with your families and friends. Such a welcome alternative to dealing with crowds at the malls!

Chester Historical Society president Skip Hubbard said, “This year will be the fifth year we have been open over Thanksgiving and it’s become a popular thing to do. We expect to welcome another 50-60 people again this year to our museum.  Essex and Deep River opened their historic homes over the holiday for the first time last year and I know they were surprised by the number of people who came to their doors.  Some people even visited more than one of the three sites. The combination of free admission, rekindling memories and learning more about the local area can be hard to resist.”

The Deep River Historical Society’s Stone House, built by Deacon Ezra Southworth in 1840, will be open on Friday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tour the home to see the “Gems of the Society,”  collections of Deep River businesses and products including Niland cut glass, and enjoy the preview of this year’s Holiday Festival of Trees, Trains and Traditions. The Stone House, at 245 Main Street in Deep River, For more information, visit www.deepriverhistoricalsociety.org.

The welcoming parlor of Essex Historical Society's 18th-century Pratt House awaits your post-Thanksgiving visit on Friday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 28. Photo by Jody Dole.

The welcoming parlor of Essex Historical Society’s 18th-century Pratt House awaits your post-Thanksgiving visit on Friday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 28. Photo by Jody Dole.

Essex Historical Society’s historic Pratt House, located at 19 West Avenue in Essex, will be open to visitors Friday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 28, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The house, which was built in stages throughout the 18th century, interprets early farm life and the nine generations of Pratt smithies, many of whom lived there. Tour the house with EHS’s knowledgeable guides and visit its newly expanded museum shop.  This holiday season, the house features a new temporary exhibit on Essex’s E.E. Dickinson Witch Hazel Co. as EHS continues to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2015 with a “Dickinson Year.”  For more information, visit www.essexhistory.org.

At the Chester Museum at The Mill, listen to Peg Lieberman’s tales about sledding down the streets of Chester right to Jennings Pond and check out her childhood doll in the “Pastimes” exhibit.

At the Chester Museum at The Mill, listen to Peg Lieberman’s tales about sledding down the streets of Chester right to Jennings Pond and check out her childhood doll in the “Pastimes” exhibit.

The Chester Museum at The Mill, at 9 West Main Street in Chester, will also be open on Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year’s “Pastimes in Past Times: Chester at Play” exhibit focuses on the ways Chester families spent their leisure time in the “old days.” You can even sit down and enjoy a game of Tiddly Winks and checkers or play the Jaw Harp. It makes no difference where you grew up or when, everything about the exhibit stirs your memories of pastimes you or your family enjoyed and reminds you of what you’d like to pass down to the next generation. For more information, visit www.chesterhistoricalsociety.org.

 

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High Hopes’ Fifth Annual Holiday Market to Host More Than 60 Local Vendors, Saturday

HighHopesHolidayMarketHigh Hopes Therapeutic Riding is transforming its indoor arena into a holiday marketplace on Sunday, Nov. 15, for the Fifth Annual Holiday Market sponsored by Reynolds Subaru. The event begins at noon and will feature more than 60 local vendors and exhibitors, as well as activities for the entire family including hayrides, a kids’ scavenger hunt, face painting, door prizes and raffle for a 2015 Subaru Crosstrek.

Last year more than 2,000 visitors attended the event on High Hopes’ 120-acre facility to start their holiday shopping and enjoy popular area food trucks. Items for sale include hand-made jewelry, holiday décor, pottery, crafts, skin care products, organic produce and more.

This year’s gourmet and specialty food truck line-up includes Flanders Fish Market, The Rolling Tomato, The Whey Station, FryBorg, Munchies Food Truck and for dessert, Meriano’s Bakery and Cannoli Truck.

For the first time at the event, attendees can see a glassblowing demonstration by Arch One Glass, and meet Garbanzo, a nine-month-old Mongolian Bankhar Dog who is trained to help nomadic Mongolian families by protecting their livestock from predators.

Raffle and event beneficiaries

High Hopes will hold a raffle drawing at 3:45 p.m. at the Holiday Market for a 2015 Subaru Crosstrek Premium, an Apple Watch Sport, a New York City overnight with dinner and Broadway show tickets, and a pair of Sorrel Cowboy Boots. The cost of a raffle ticket is $50, with only 1,500 being sold.

Visitors are encouraged to attend the Holiday Market which raises funds that directly support the 1,538 children and adults who are served annually by High Hopes’ programs.

Admission to the Holiday Market is free with a suggested donation of a nonperishable food item for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries. Last year, more than 2,400 pounds of food was donated to help local families who struggle with hunger.

For more information about the event and to see a list of vendors, visit www.highhopestr.org, or contact Trudy Burgess at tburgess@highhopestr.org or call 860-434-1974, ext. 123.

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Legal News You Can Use: The Gift of Real Estate From Parent to Child

real-estate-giftShould I gift my house to the kids now, or leave it in my estate? This can be a tricky question. There are also many other factors to consider, including mortgages, capital gains tax, Medicaid regulations, and other risks.

GIFT TAX

The current federal law gives each donor (maker of a gift) a $5.43 million lifetime exemption from the federal gift tax. The Connecticut statutes provide for a $2 million lifetime exemption from the Connecticut gift tax. Therefore, there is no gift tax due unless the donor has made more than $2 million in taxable gifts during his/her life.

Each donor receives a $14,000.00 annual gift tax exclusion per donee (receiver of a gift) for gifts of a present interest, meaning that the recipient can use and enjoy the gift immediately. For example, the exclusion for a gift from a parent to two children may total $28,000. If both the donor and their spouse join in the gift, the exclusion would be $56,000.00. That is, the value of the gift for gift tax purposes would be reduced by $56,000.00.

The $14,000.00 annual gift tax exclusion is not available for gifts of a future interest, such as a gift of real estate in which the donor reserves a life use. So, if your total estate is below the $5.43 million federal estate tax exemption and the $2 million Connecticut estate tax exemption, there is really no practical difference in this case.

MORTGAGE

Most mortgage documents prohibit the borrower from transferring an interest in the real estate without the lender’s written consent. To be assured of avoiding trouble with the lender, be sure to seek this consent before making a transfer.

CAPITAL GAINS

A donor may have purchased real estate many years ago at a price that is much lower than the property’s current value. Because the gift recipient’s basis for capital gains tax purposes is the same as the donor’s basis, if and when the donee children sell the property, they could anticipate paying capital gains tax on a substantial gain.

By contrast, if the children were to inherit the property at the parent’s death, the children’s basis would be the fair market value of the property at the parent’s date of death. In that case, if the property were eventually sold, the gain upon which capital gains tax may be due would be much smaller than it would be if the property were received by gift and then eventually sold.

MEDICAID

The current Medicaid regulations provide that if a person makes a gift of assets, and subsequently applies for Medicaid sooner than five years from the date of the gift, a period of ineligibility based on the value of the gift will apply. For instance, if a parent gifted real estate to a child on September 1, 2014, and the parent or the parent’s spouse needed to apply for Medicaid to pay for the cost of long term nursing home care prior to September 1, 2019, the parent or their spouse would be ineligible for Medicaid. Because of this five year look back rule, it is important to examine what other assets are available to pay for long term care.

OTHER RISKS

What if your child passes away before you do? As much as we don’t like to think about these scenarios, this can be particularly problematic if the parent has not reserved a life use in the gifted property. In this case, the deceased child’s interest would pass under his/her own estate plan documents, possibly to a spouse or to the deceased child’s own children.

Other unexpected events such as bankruptcy, or an accident suffered by one of the donee children, or a divorce, could leave the gifted real estate vulnerable to claims of creditors or claims of the child’s spouse.

The long and short of this complicated discussion is that it is very important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney before making the decision to gift property to your children.

Attorney Jeanette Dostie is a Director at Suisman Shapiro in New London, CT, the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut. She has a wide experience in estate planning, ranging from simple wills to complex estate plans designed to maximize estate tax savings for clients. For more information, visit www.suismanshapiro.com or call (860) 442-4416. Suisman Shapiro is located at 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591, New London, CT 06320.

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Dear Cammy: Making New Friends, Keeping Old Ones

envelope-308015_640We’re delighted that our advice columnist for middle schoolers has rejoined our growing ranks of contributors. Cammy answers two letters this week from local students about issues with school friends. If you would like to send a letter to Cammy, email it to cammy12100@gmail.com

Dear Cammy,

I am in 10th grade and just started a new school this year. Everything is going all right. All my classes are good and the kids there are nice, but I feel as if I don’t belong. I have made a few friends and we all get along. But every time the whole group is together I feel out of the loop. They all already have so much history together because they’ve all known each other since they were in kindergarten. I really want to keep these friends; I just don’t know what to do about this one problem. What do I do?

The New Kid

Dear The New Kid,

I understand where you are coming from. Going to a new school is hard and coming in at such a late time in your life is even harder. It’s great that you are enjoying your classes and you have begun to make friends. What a great start! The hardest part is over. It will take time to fully connect as a part of this friend group. They all have so many memories together, so try making new ones with them. Why don’t you try inviting them over to go to your favorite place or for a sleepover. This will help all of you to get to know one another, trust one another, and have memories to help create that foundation of the friendship. Wishing you the best of luck!

Cammy

Dear Cammy,

Throughout all my life, I have had the same friend group. We have done everything together since kindergarten. This year we are going into our final year at the middle school and things are starting to change. I do not have many/no classes with a lot of my friends and I feel as though the group is slowly falling apart. I don’t want to lose my friends; I care about them so much. Help Cammy, what should I do?

Not Sure

Dear Not Sure,

You have been so fortunate to have had such amazing friends and I see where you are coming from. After going through so much, it is hard to let go of the people you know, love, and trust the most. You need to understand that this is a time in your life when people are finding themselves and where they fit in. I believe that it is in your best interest that you talk to your friends about how you feel. Everyone goes through times when they aren’t in a lot of classes with their friends. That doesn’t mean that you can’t hang out outside of class. Just always remember to be open to new friends no matter how secure you are with your closest friends; you will never know who you will meet. Wishing you the best of luck!

Cammy

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Williams School Hosts Prospective Student Information Session Saturday

The Williams School in New London is offering a series of Prospective Student Information Sessions with the first one being held this Saturday, Nov. 15, from 1 to 3 p.m.  These sessions will provide an opportunity for families to enjoy a campus tour by a Student Ambassador, hear from a panel of current students and faculty, and experience mini lessons taught by faculty in their classrooms. They are one of many ways to learn about Williams’ academic, athletic, arts, and community opportunities.

Register online for Saturday’s Information Session.

Additional Information Sessions are planned on the following dates:

Sunday, January 10, 2016, 1-3 p.m.

Sunday, May 15, 2016, 1-3 p.m.

For more information, contact the Admissions Office at 860.443.5333 or 

The Williams School is a college preparatory day school serving middle and upper school students in grades 6 – 12 located on the campus of Connecticut College at 182 Mohegan Ave. New London, CT 06320

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Recount Waived for Essex Republican Selectman Election Result

ESSEX— There will be no recount of the close election result for the minority Republican seat on the board of selectmen. Town Clerk Joel Marzi reported Friday that he had received a written waiver of the recount from Republican selectman candidate Phil Beckman.

When votes were counted Tuesday night, only three votes separated Beckman, a first time candidate, and incumbent Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac, who had lost the first selectman race with two-term incumbent Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman. The result for the GOP selectman seat was Glowac- 1,065, and Beckman-1,062, well below the 20-vote difference where state election law provides for a recount.. But a recount is not held if the trailing candidate waives the process, as Beckman has done.

Needleman was-elected to a third term with 1,145 votes, with incumbent Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby winning a third term with 1,105 votes. The board of selectmen for the 2015-2017 term will be comprised of Needleman, Libby, and Glowac.

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Letter from Paris: Fabulous FIAC Celebrates Contemporary Art Throughout Paris

Nicole Prévost Logan

Nicole Prévost Logan

She’s back! We’ve probably been asked more often about what has happened to Nicole Prévost Logan than any other of our wonderful writers. You see, Nicole takes a break from writing for us in the summer when she is living in Essex, Conn. But now she has returned to her house in Paris and (metaphorically) picked up her pen again … and we’re delighted … along with many of our readers!

fiac_2012_jardin_des_plantes

In late October every year, France attracts visitors from around the world to take part in the FIAC (Foire Internationale de l’Art Contemporain.) Multiple exhibits open, not only in museums, but also hors murs (outdoors) on the grounds of historical monuments like the Chateau de Versailles, or on public squares and parks like Place la Concorde or the Jardin des Tuileries .

For a few days, Paris becomes the capital of arts, fashion and design. The main event of the FIAC takes place in the Grand Palais and was attended this year by 75,000 professionals in the arts and owners of the 173 most prestigious galleries of the world. (not individual artists.) The high entrance fee was set at $40. The works exhibited were in all media – paintings, sculptures, videos, installations. Values of the objects varied from a few thousands euros to several millions.

What makes the specificity of the FIAC is that it expands every year and becomes increasingly accessible to the general public. The French minister of Culture and Communication Fleur Pellerin, who occupied the media center stage during the week, stressed the civic importance of the richness and diversity of culture open to all in the public space.

When walking around Paris it seemed impossible not to stumble over some work of art: on the banks of the Seine in the new Cité de la Mode et du Design, in the department stores or the elegant lobbies of five-star hotels palaces. In the historical districts of the Marais, or St Germain des Prés, unbridled art creations were the norm. The “off” art found additional space under white tents. Digital art celebrated its tenth anniversary near the Alexandre III bridge.

The “Outsider Art Fair” (art brut) – made up of the works of mentally disturbed , marginal or self-taught artists – placed its 38 stands in a private mansion. It included the works of the well known American artist Henry Darger whose permanent collection is in the New York American Folk Art museum.

To stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries was to be in for a great treat. One could admire whimsical, mostly thought-provoking artistic creations on lawns, near the two pools, along the tree-lined paths. Young and articulate art students from the Ecole du Louvre described the works to the curious passers-by.

Just two examples. Heimo Zobernig, who lives and works in Vienna, created a tall androgynous statue. The body was made of three pieces from three different sculptures scanned in 3D. The head, legs, and torso were assembled digitally, raising the question of figurative sculpture. On the Tuileries bassin rond, a transparent sphere, of about 10 feet in diameter was floating under the motion of a crystal chandelier hanging inside and spinning around. The artist’s intention was to show the hidden properties of objects by the incongruous mix of an inflatable toy, a scooter’s chain and a 24 volt rotating mechanism.

The visitor reaches the Place de la Concorde. Four pavilions mesmerized the crowds. They had been erected by St Gobain – the French company specialized in construction material for the past 450 years (it built the Louvre pyramid.) The pavilions showed the company’s innovations for the future: how can sensorial modules create thermic and acoustic comfort or a 21st house being built entirely from materials created by 3D printers.

After an absence of a few months, what better way than the FIAC to reacquaint oneself with the Paris scene?

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Chester Incumbent Waves Recount for Minority Republican Selectman Seat

CHESTER— There will be no recount for the minority party seat for the board of selectmen where nine votes separated unsuccessful Republican first selectman nominee Carolyn Linn and incumbent Republican Selectman Tom Englert when results were announced Tuesday night.

Linn, a first time candidate, pulled 413 votes in losing to Democratic First Selectwoman-elect Lauren Gister. Englert, who has served on the board since 2009, had 404 votes. Democrat Charlene Janecek was also elected to the board. The nine-vote difference between Linn and Englert fell within the 20 vote margin where a recount is required under state election law, unless one of the candidates waives a recount.

Town Clerk Debra Calamari said Thursday she has been advised by Englert that he does not want a recount. Englert’s decision confirms the town will have its first all women board of selectmen, comprised of Gister, Janecek, and Linn, when the new term begins on Nov. 17.

It will also be an all new board of selectmen. Englert was the only incumbent on the board who sought a new term this year with the decisions of two-term Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan and three-term Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher not to seek re-election.

In Essex, Town Clerk Joel Marzi said Thursday he is still awaiting word from Republican Selectman candidate Phil Beckman on whether he wants a recount of the close Tuesday result for the minority Republican seat on the board of selectmen. Incumbent Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac pulled 1,065 votes in losing the first selectman race to Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman. Beckman, a first time candidate, received 1,062 votes, a three-vote difference. Marzi said a recount has tentatively been scheduled for Saturday morning at town hall, pending any waiver of a recount from Beckman.

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Obituary: Richard B. Blythe, 31 Oct. 15

blytheRichard (Dick) B. Blythe, 87 of Killingworth, CT passed away peacefully on October 31, 2015.   He served as the Principal of Valley Regional High School from 1971-1985 and the High School honored Dick for his many years of dedication and service by naming football/soccer and track facilities the Richard B. Blythe Athletic Complex.

Read the full obituary published in the Hartford Courant here.

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Democrat Lauren Gister Elected First Selectwoman as Close Result for Minority Seat Sets Up All Women Board of Selectmen

Democrats Lauren Gister (left) and Charlene Janecek celebrate their respective elections.

Democrats Lauren Gister (left) and Charlene Janecek celebrate their respective elections.

CHESTER— Democrat Lauren Gister was elected as first selectman Tuesday, with Republican challenger Carolyn Linn expected to edge incumbent Republican Selectman Tom Englert to set up the town’s first all-female board of selectmen.

Gister, a lawyer making her first run for town office, defeated Linn on a 688-413 vote. Democrat Charlene Janecek, currently the party’s registrar of voters, was elected with 696 votes. But Linn’s total in losing the contest for first selectman was ahead of Englert by a scant nine votes — Englert received 404 votes — in an election where the top three voter-getters make up the board. Englert has served on the board since 2009, and served briefly as acting first selectman in the fall of 2011 after former Republican First Selectman Tom Marsh resigned to take a job in Vermont.

Tom Englert congratulates Lauren Gister after the result was announced Tuesday evening.

Tom Englert congratulates Lauren Gister after the result was announced Tuesday evening.

Town Clerk Debra Calamari said Wednesday the nine-vote margin between Linn and Englert, being less than 20 votes, would trigger a recount for the minority seat, unless Englert formally waives the recount. Calamari said she had not yet heard from Englert or Republican Town Chairman Mario Gioco  on whether Englert wants a recount.

Gister said Wednesday she looks forward to the challenge of the next two years, and wants to hear from residents on what they want from town government. “We will try to be the best board of selectmen we possibly can for Chester,” she said.

Gister, who becomes the second woman to serve as Chester First Selectman after former Republican First Selectwoman Betty Perreault (1989-1993), said  she does not believe an all-female board of selectmen, a first for Chester, would make that much difference in how the town is run. “It might give a slightly different flavor to the board,” she said.

Linn said she is pleased that her campaign for the top job, the first by a Chester Republican since 2009, had helped boost voter turnout to nearly 50 percent, the highest in a decade. “The  community engagement was just spectacular,” Linn said, adding that she looks forward to working with Gister and Janecek on issues facing the town.

Democrats won the few other contested races on Tuesday’s ballot. For planning and zoning commission, incumbent Democrats Keith Scherber and Errol Horner, and incumbent Republican Steve Merola outpolled Lisa Matz Tolleffson, running one ballot line of the Chester Common Ground Party. The totals were Scherber, 684, Merola,632, and Horner, 579, to 474 for Matz Tolleffson.

For library trustees, Democrats Sandra Senior-Dauer and Karin Badger outpolled Matz Tolleffson, with 752 votes for Senior-Dauer, 637 votes for Badger, and 317 votes for Matz Tolleffson. For Region 4 Board of Education, Democrat Lori Ann Clymas led Common Ground candidate David Cohen 622-301.

Gister and the new board of selectmen take office on Nov. 17. Gister succeeds two-term Democratic First  Selectman Edmund Meehan. A total of  1,115 of the town’s 2,341 registered voters cast ballots Tuesday.

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Letter: Thanks from LVVS

To The Editor

The 5th Annual Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore Wine and Brew Tasting and Auction benefitting the organization’s tutoring program was a smashing (pumpkins?) success again this year. The event, held on October 23rd at the Saybrook Point Pavilion netted funds that will help L.V.V.S. continue the mission of eradicating illiteracy in the valley shore area well into 2016.

Any event’s success is always due to people and organizations coming together for a worthy cause. We are fortunate to have an extraordinary combination that made this year’s event a rousing success. Special thanks to The Clark Group, our title sponsor. We are also indebted to The Wine Cask of Old Saybrook who provided the evening’s libations. Event sponsors Tower Laboratories, Murphy and Company CPAs, Whelen Engineering, Guilford Savings Bank and Edward Jones Investments of Clinton also deserve recognition for their support and for their continued belief in us.

Mere words are not sufficient to thank Elizabeth Steffen who worked so hard to produce the food for the evening, contributed a number of raffle and auction items and still somehow found time to sell tickets and help set up the venue. Similarly, the efforts of board member Paula Chabot, our event organizer, board members Arcangela Claffey, Barb Erni, Bill Guerra and Rose Marie Cushing insured a wonderful and successful fundraiser. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the hard work and extra dedication of Administrative Assistant Joanne Argersinger, volunteers Paula Ferrara and Judy Sousa and the cooperation of the Old Saybrook Park and Recreation Department. Thank you all so very much!

Finally, thank you to everyone who shared the evening with us and whose support and generosity will warm our students throughout the remainder of this fall and into the New Year.

Sincerely,

John J. Ferrara
Executive Director Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc.

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Democrats Win all Contested Deep River Races

DEEP RIVER— With longtime Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith unopposed for a record 14th two-year term, Democrats also won all contested positions in Tuesday’s low turnout election.

Smith received 783 votes, with 541 votes for Democratic Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., for a third term, and 318 votes for Republican Selectman David Oliveria, for a  fourth term.  Republican Town Clerk Amy Macmillan Winchell won a fourth term with 666 votes, and  Democratic Tax collector Lisa Bibbiani won a fourth term with 699 votes. Longtime Republican Town Treasurer Tom Lindner was re-elected with 746 votes.

In contested races, incumbent  Democrats George Eckenroth and Carmela Balducci were re-elected to the board of finance, with  587 votes for Eckenroth and 621 votes for Balducci. Republican challenger Mark Grabowski had 339 votes. For board of assessment appeals, incumbent Democrat Leigh Balducci outpolled Republican Thomas Alexa,505-328. For a two year vacancy on the Region 4 Board of Education, Democrat Susan Hollister outpolled Republican K.C. Nelson-Oliveria, 514-328.

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Democrat Gister Defeats Linn in Chester’s First Selectman Race, Englert Loses Seat

Democrats Lauren Gister (left) and Charlene Janecek celebrate their respective elections.

Democrats Lauren Gister (left) and Charlene Janecek celebrate their respective elections.

Mario Gioco read the following “unofficial results” of the Chester Board of Selectmen election to those waiting in the town hall:
First Selectman:
Lauren Gister (D) 680
Carolyn Linn (R) 413
Selectman:
Charlene Janecek (D) 688
Tom Englert (R) 404
Gister commented, “We will work very hard and we will make you proud.”
Full story by Charles Stannard coming tomorrow.
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Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman Wins Third Term With 80-Vote Margin

Needleman_N_008ESSEX— Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman was re-elected for a third term Tuesday, defeating Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac on an 1,145-1065 vote. Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby was re-elected for a third term with 1,105 votes.

Needleman’s 80-vote margin over Glowac, who had served previously as first selectman from 1991-1995, was much closer than his first contested election in 2011 when Needleman defeated Republican Bruce MacMillian by over 400 votes. Needleman was uncontested by town Republicans for a second term in 2013.

The result for the third, or minority party, seat on the three-member board of selectmen was extremely close, with Republican selectman nominee Phil Beckman receiving 1,062 votes, only three votes less than Glowac’s 1,065 total. The three vote margin is less than the 20-vote margin where a recount could be required. Beckman said he is not requesting a recount with fellow Republican Glowac, but believes a recount should be conducted if it is required under state election law.

Needleman said he was “grateful to the voters,” and also thankful to challengers Glowac and Beckman for “running a good campaign based on the issues,” adding that he ” looks forward to continuing the work we’ve done over the past four years.” Glowac said he is glad the election is over, and believes “we accomplished what we set out to accomplish which was to give voters a choice and make this election an event rather than a non event.”.

Democrats captured most of the other contested positions on the ballot, though Republicans won seats on the board of finance and board of assessment appeals. Democrat Donald Mesite, an appointed incumbent, and Republican Vince Pacileo were elected to six year terms on the board of finance, with 1,110 votes for Mesite and 1,131 votes for Pacileo, who served on the board of selectmen from 2003-2009. Mesite and Pacileo outpolled Democrat Ethan Goller, with 1,058 votes, and Republican Jerri MacMillian, with 976 votes.

Republican Keith Russell was elected for a full term on the board of assessment appeals, with 1,084 votes to 1,032 votes for Democrat Richard Helmecki. Democrat Mark Bombacci was elected to a two-year vacancy on the board of assessment appeals, with 1,150 votes to 982 votes for Republican Bruce MacMillian. Democrat Jennifer Cark was re-elected for a second term on the Region 4 Board of Education, with 1,177 votes to 963 votes for Republican Mary Lou Till. Both nominees for the local board of education are automatically elected, with incumbent  Democrat Lon Seidman, who serves as board chairman, receiving 1,174 votes, and incumbent Republican D.G. Fitton garnering 967 votes.

A total of 2,223 of the town’s 4,595 registered voters turned out for Tuesday’s election, a turnout of just over 50%.

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Essex Elementary School Foundation Prepares for Second Talent Showcase

CENTERBROOK, CT — The Essex Elementary School Foundation, a not-for-profit, volunteer organization that provides independent financial resources for worthy educational projects, enrichment programs, and other initiatives, is preparing for its second Essex Elementary Talent Showcase. Students in the fourth through sixth grades were invited to participate in this “non-competitive talent show” where all students will walk away as equal winners.

The goal is two-fold: to empower EES students to be proud of their abilities and to enhance awareness of the foundation’s role in the school community. The showcase has brought in local volunteers, such as Patty Carver, of the Connecticut Children’s Theatre, to provide professional assistance.

The Talent Showcase will be open to the public on Monday, Nov. 9, at 6 p.m. at the Essex Elementary School’s cafeteria. Scot Haney, WFSB’s popular meteorologist and personality, will be making a special appearance at the show. Donations will be graciously accepted by the foundation at the door.

Since its inception in 1996, the Essex Elementary School Foundation’s primary goal has been to create a significant endowment that can support the school’s strategic vision to be a world-class educational institution. Each year, 5% of the EESF endowment is allocated for programs and projects such as a Scientist-in-Residence program, an iPad lab, literacy support materials, equipment for musical and physical education, playground improvements, logical thinking games, and audio/visual equipment.

For more information about the Essex Elementary School Foundation, log onto www.essexelementaryschoolfoundation.org. Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to Essex Elementary School Foundation, PO Box 882, Essex, CT 06426.

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Deep River Election Has Contests for Board of Finance, Assessment Appeals, and School Board Vacancy Term

DEEP RIVER— Most positions on Tuesday’s town election ballot are uncontested, but Democrats and Republicans are competing for two seats on the board of finance, a position on the board of assessment appeals, and a two-year vacancy term on the Region 4 Board of Education.

Longtime Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith is unopposed for a record 14th term. Also uncontested are incumbent Democratic Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., first elected 2011, and incumbent Republican Selectman David Oliveria, first elected in 2009. Republican Town Clerk Amy Macmillan Winchell, Democratic Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani, and Republican Town Treasurer Tom Lindner, are also unopposed for new two-year terms. Smith, first elected in 1989, had his last contested election with an independent challenger in 2007, and was last challenged by town Republicans in 2005.

But two incumbent Democrats, George Eckenroth and Carmela Balducci, are competing with Republican Mark Grabowski, for two six year spots on the board of finance, while Republican John Wichtowski is uncontested for a two-year vacancy spot on the finance board. Incumbent Democrat Leigh Balducci is competing with Republican Thomas Alexa for a seat on the board of assessment appeals. Democrat Susan Hollister is contesting with Republican K.C. Nelson-Oliveria for a two-year vacancy term on the Region 4 Board of Education.

Polls are open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Deep River Library community room.

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