June 25, 2017

Archives for March 2017

Middlesex Hospital to Create Office Building at Vacant Essex Site of Former Shoreline Medical Center

Middlesex Hospital has now announced plans for its medical facility in Essex, pictured above, which was closed on April 28, 2014, and has been vacant ever since. The proposal calls for renovating the property as a medical office building that will offer physical therapy and occupational medicine. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX—Middlesex Hospital will turn its vacant building on Westbrook Road into a medical office building that will offer physical therapy and occupational medicine. The building will house a third department to be named at a later date.

The building has been vacant since the Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center moved to its new facility in Westbrook in 2014. Construction plans call for renovating the Essex facility to maximize service offerings, while also ensuring that each department located there has adequate space and the ability to grow.

The Hospital currently offers physical therapy and occupational medicine services at 192 Westbrook Road. Those departments will move into the new office building, and they have all been involved in the project’s planning process.

As part of the project, the medical office building will get a new roof and existing HVAC units will be replaced or rebuilt. Overgrown shrubbery will be removed, the exterior of the building will be painted, and the building will get new signs.

“We are excited to repurpose this building for the people of Essex and residents of surrounding shoreline communities,” said David Giuffrida, the Hospital’s vice president of operations. “This is an opportunity for the Hospital to further invest in its property and to offer several vital services at one location.”

Share

Explore Vernal Pools, Emerging Life in the Preserve, Saturday


Look what I found, Mom!

ESSEX — Due to late winter weather, the Essex Land Trust’s planned ‘Vernal Pools and Emerging Life in the Preserve’ hike, to be led by ecologist, Bob Russo is being rescheduled to Saturday, April 1.  This hike will give you the opportunity to search for salamanders, frogs and plants emerging from the long winter. During the one and a half hour hike through easy to moderate terrain, Russo will describe the biological and geological features that make the vernal pool areas unique and bountiful.

Bring tall waterproof boots and nets if you have them.  Open to all ages. Bad weather cancels.

Russo is a soil scientist, wetland scientist and ecologist who frequently played in swamps while growing up. He works for a small engineering company in Eastern CT and he lives in Ivoryton, conveniently near the Atlantic White Cedar swamp.

Bob Russo tells a group about vernal pools.

Russo is also the Chair of Essex’ Park and Recreation Commission.

Meet at The Preserve East Entrance parking lot, Ingham Hill Rd., at 9 a.m..

Share

Environmental Symposium Examines “Water: Too Much or Not Enough?” Today in Haddam

David Vallee, Hydrologist-in-Charge of the National Weather Service’s Northeast River Forecast Center, will deliver the keynote address at the March 31 symposium.

AREAWIDE — The Rockfall Foundation and UConn Climate Adaptation Academy present an environmental symposium about changing precipitation patterns on Friday, March 31, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UConn Middlesex County Extension Office, 1066 Saybrook Road, Haddam.

The focus is “Water: Too Much or Not Enough?” and the symposium will examine shifting patterns that produce extreme weather occurrences from rain bombs to drought. Discussion will include the impacts on communities and a variety of adaptive responses for municipalities, residents, and businesses.

David Vallee, Hydrologist-in-Charge of the National Weather Service’s Northeast River Forecast Center, will give a keynote address “Examining Trends in Temperature, Precipitation and Flood Frequency in the Northeast; A Tale of Extremes.”

Other presenters and panelists will discuss the effects on our personal lives and the communities we live in, including the challenges of managing infrastructure, maintaining adequate water supplies, supporting local agriculture, fighting insect borne disease, and planning for smart design. Participants include:

  • Amanda Ryan, Municipal Stormwater Educator, UConn CLEAR and Michael Dietz, CT NEMO Program Director – Addressing how the type and frequency of storms affects compliance with MS4 requirements and the effectiveness of LID solutions.
  • David Radka, Director of Water Resource and Planning, Connecticut Water Company and Ryan Tetreault, CT Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Section – Discussion of public and private water supplies with a focus on how we ensure sufficient clean water for all.
  • Ian Gibson, Farm Manager, Wellstone Farm – Relating the local agricultural experience of a small farmer and how changing precipitation patterns alter the way he farms.
  • Roger Wolfe, Mosquito Management Coordinator, CT DEEP Wetland Habitat & Mosquito Management Program – How best to control changes in mosquito populations caused by heavy rains and periods of drought.
  • Anne Penniman, ASLA, Principal/Owner, Anne Penniman Associates – Insight on how site development (plant material, surface material, drainage) can be modified to better tolerate and accommodate changing precipitation patterns.
  • Kirk Westphal, PE, CDM Smith Project Manager for CT State Water Plan – An update on the development of Connecticut’s first State Water Plan and how citizens can participate in the process.

“The symposium will be of key interest to local elected and appointed officials, land use planners, developers, and town planning and commission members,” said Robin Andreoli, executive director of the Rockfall Foundation. “And the presentations and follow-up discussions should engage all who are concerned with effective community planning.”

To register or for additional information, visit www.rockfallfoundation.org or call 860-347-0340. Support is provided in part by CDM Smith, Xenelis Construction, Milone & MacBroom, and Planimetrics. Proceeds benefit the environmental education programs of the Rockfall Foundation.

The Rockfall Foundation supports environmental education, conservation programs and planning initiatives in the Lower Connecticut River Valley through financial grants and educational programming. Founded in 1935, it is one of Connecticut’s oldest environmental organizations. The Foundation owns and maintains the historic deKoven House in Middletown, which is a community center with meeting rooms and office space for non-profit groups.

Share

Florence Griswold Museum Director Jeffrey Andersen to Step Down After Successor is Chosen

Jeff Andersen, Director of the Florence Griswold Museum, will step down from the position he has held for more than 40 years when a successor has been selected.

After over 40 years of service to the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Conn., Director Jeff Andersen is planning to step down after a new director is appointed. Ted Hamilton, President of the Board of Trustees, announced that a comprehensive national search will be undertaken in the months ahead, overseen by a committee of trustees and coordinated with an executive search firm.

“Jeff Andersen has guided the growth of this museum with equal measures of vision and attention to detail,” Hamilton said. “He sees things clearly and stays focused on long-term goals.  Jeff charted a course for the Florence Griswold Museum to become a singular American art institution based on its history as an artist colony.  He inspired our trustees, staff, and volunteers to dedicate themselves toward this mission. Under his leadership, the Museum has become known for its compelling exhibitions and innovative educational programs.”

A fifth-generation native of Northern California, Andersen began his career at the Museum after completing his M.A. in Museum Studies from Cooperstown Graduate Program in Cooperstown, N.Y. During his tenure, the Florence Griswold Museum evolved from a seasonal attraction with one staff member and fewer than 1,000 visitors per year to an accredited art museum with 20 staff members, 225 dedicated volunteers, nearly 80,000 visitors annually, and over 3,000 members.  Early on, Andersen helped establish an endowment fund for the institution, which now funds one-third of the Museum’s annual operating budget of $2.6 million.

Working closely with teams of trustees and professional colleagues, Andersen led a transformative, decades-long campaign to reacquire the original Florence Griswold property with the goal of creating a new kind of American museum based on the site’s history as the creative center of the Lyme Art Colony.  Reunifying the historic estate, much of which had been sold during the 1930s, took seven different real estate transactions, culminating in 2016 with the purchase of the last private parcel of the original estate.

Supported by capital campaigns that raised over $20 million collectively, the Museum implemented master plans to reconstruct historic gardens, relocate the William Chadwick artist studio, build education and landscape centers, and open the Robert and Nancy Krieble Gallery, an award-winning modern exhibition, collection, and archives facility designed by Centerbrook Architects.  In 2006, the Museum completed the restoration of the National Historic Landmark Florence Griswold House (1818) as a circa 1910 boardinghouse of the artists’ colony.  Located along the banks of the Lieutenant River, the Museum’s 13-acre historic site now forms an essential part of a visitor experience that integrates art, history, and nature.

As part of his duties, Andersen has organized exhibitions for the Museum and written extensively about American artists in Connecticut. For a museum of its size, the Florence Griswold Museum has been active in publishing scholarly books and catalogues to accompany many of its exhibitions.  Beginning in 1983, Andersen established a close relationship with The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company on behalf of the Florence Griswold Museum, assisting the company in assembling a major collection of 190 paintings and sculptures by American artists associated with Connecticut.

In 2001, Hartford Steam Boiler donated the entire collection to the Museum, where it serves as a centerpiece of ambitious collection, exhibition, and education programs revolving around diverse expressions of American art from the eighteenth century to the present day.  Works from this collection by such artists as Ralph Earl, Frederic Church, Childe Hassam, Willard Metcalf, and others have been lent to over forty museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and The National Gallery, London.

Over the years, Andersen has been a leader in the cultural community, serving on numerous non-profit boards, such as Connecticut Humanities and the New England Museum Association, and working as a peer accreditation reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums. In 2004, he received the Public Service Award from the Connecticut Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  In 2016, Andersen was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New England Museum Association (NEMA).  “Throughout his career, Jeff has been an inspirational leader at the Florence Griswold Museum, on the NEMA board, and through all of his community service,” said NEMA Executive Director Dan Yaeger.

“It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to be a part of this Museum,” Andersen reflected.  “What I am perhaps most proud of is the deep sense of loyalty and camaraderie that is felt amongst our staff, trustees, volunteers, and members. In many ways, it echoes what Florence Griswold and the original Lyme artists had with one another. In this spirit, I know that everyone will give their full support to the next director to help the Museum flourish in the years ahead.”

Andersen, who lives in Quaker Hill, Connecticut, is looking forward to spending more time with his family in California and traveling with his wife, the artist Maureen McCabe, who was a longtime professor at Connecticut College. Andersen intends to stay active in the art world and in the community at large.

The Florence Griswold Museum has been called a “Giverny in Connecticut” by the Wall Street Journal and a “must see” by the Boston Globe.  Its seasonal Café Flo was just recognized as “best hidden gem” and “best outdoor dining” by Connecticut Magazine. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, Connecticut.   Visit www.FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org for more information.

Share

Letter From Paris: One Man’s Opinion: ‘How to Save Europe’

Nicole Prévost Logan

“The sixty years since the Treaty of Rome, on March 25, 1957, have not been a long quiet river for Europe”, commented academic Robert Frank.  This is an understatement.  Today, the disaffection for the European Union (EU) has reached such a point that the need for its re-foundation is considered a matter of survival.

A good place to start the soul-searching process is by reading a gem of a book, written by a former diplomat and one of the most influential French scholars on foreign affairs today.  The book has the merit of being very short but so dense in meaning that every single word deserved to be pondered over. The book is called Sauver l’Europe and was published on Nov. 21, 2016.  The author, Hubert Vedrine, born in 1947,  was a collaborator of president Francois Mitterand from 1981 to 1995 and served as minister of foreign affairs from 1997 to 2002 under president Jacques Chirac.

First, the author makes a diagnosis regarding what went wrong.

  1. The EU has been working against nations instead of with them.  A federalist Europe, with a superpower in Brussels, Vedrine thinks, is a utopia.  Unlike the USA, Europe is made of nations with different cultures, languages and history.  “There is no democratic path to federalism for Europe.”
  2. The “elites” in Brussels have grown increasingly disconnected from the people.  There is a perception that an accumulation of treaties are drowning the public without acknowledging the opposition.  In the collective memory the worst grievance was when France and the Netherlands said “no” in a referendum about the 2005  constitutional project.  Two years later that project was repackaged and forced through in the treaty of Lisbon.  (Note: this is not entirely true because the second text included several positive modifications)
  3. Over the years, Brussels, has interfered too much  into the people’s lives in imposing annoying regulations:  how to make cheese, set the size of bananas or of the shower heads.  Europe cannot take care of everything. The key word is “subsidiarity.”  It means that competence not attributed to the Union by treaty should  belong to the member states.  Vedrine writes, “Europe was built upside down and should undergo a drastic cure of subsidiarity by simplifying the autistic hypertrophied regulations. “
  4. “Sovereignty” is a hard-won concept one should be proud of.   The final objective of Europe is not to dissolve the sovereignty of the member states but add to it.
  5. Many critics of Europe confuse the EU and globalization.   One by one, French factories have disappeared, for not being competitive enough.  One of the first ones to close was Moulinex.  In 2001 everybody went up in arms against the loss of jobs at the small plant of Normandy .  In 2016, when the Whirlpool plant was relocated to Poland, outsourcing had become the norm.  Whether the phenomenon occurred inside Europe or in Asia, the impact on people who lost their jobs in France was the same.
  6. With the wild expansion of Europe to 27 (nine new members entered the Union in the single year of 2003), it has become hard to run a such a cumbersome structure, especially when some of the states give the priority to their national interests.  This is particularly true with the populist attitude of the Visegrad Group – Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia – which showed no solidarity with the rest of Europe at the time of the refugee crisis.
  7. The arrival of more than 1.5 million refugees in 2015 and also in 2016 has shaken a system unprepared for such a brutal surge.  The huge number of immigrants created an unavoidable confrontation between different ways of life, the loss of identity, exasperated by fear of terrorism,
  8. The adoption of the Euro has meant further constraints for the 17 members of the Eurozone.  The 1992 Treaty of Maestricht set two basic rules; the general government deficit should not exceed 3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and the public deficit should not exceed 60 percent of the GDP.

In the opinion of Vedrine, the solution to the problems listed above is not for more integration and certainly not more enlargement. One needs to mark a pause, to listen to the people and to re-center Europe on the essential. One should return to the values of the founding fathers.  Remember how Jacques Delors, who was president of the European Commission from 1985 to 1995, called the EU a “federation of States-Nations” .

To prepare for the celebrations making the 60th anniversary of the 1957 Treaty of Rome, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the Commission, issued a White Paper offering several scenarios for the 2025 horizon. One of them was to “allow the member-states to move forward, if they wish, in very specific areas. ” The goal is that no one should feel excluded.

On March 6, 2017 the leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Spain met for a mini-summit in Versailles to discuss a Europe à plusieurs vitesses (going at different speeds.)  This was a format never seen before and maybe a preview of what lies ahead.

The American economist Joseph Stiglitz advocates an éclatement (breaking up) of the Euro group into four more flexible zones, until the conditions for more integration are met.”  The opinion of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and OCDE (Organization of Cooperation and Economic Development) and other economists is that the EU had gone to too far on the method of austerity.  The priority now is to create sustainable growth, rather than reduce the deficit .

The most ambitious  proposal for European defense so far has been made by the Robert Schuman Foundation.  It calls for Germany, France and the UK to sign  an intergovernmental treaty for defense and security of the EU.  Let us show more solidarity and agree to share the burden of military expenses before pronouncing empty words like “European defense.”

The author of “Save Europe” points to the mistakes  made by Angela Merkel: abandoning nuclear, after Fukushima, without enough preparation for what to do next; extending a “generous but too personal” invitation to the refugees to come to Europe and single-handedly signing an agreement with Turkey.

Vedrine wants the European way of life  to be preserved.  Even though many complain, there is in Europe a douceur de vie (gentle pleasure of life) one should treasure.  Let Brussels set objectives and the States go their own way .

A recurrent slogan in the campaign speeches of Marine Le Pen  (and of other anti-European populists), is to put la patrie (homeland) first.  By demonstrating that it is possible to keep one ‘s sovereignty, to show it is not a sin to be a patriot and at the same time be a European, would be an effective way to obliterate her arguments. 

On March 29, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, received with emotion the letter from the British Ambassador, marking the departure of the UK from the EU at the outset of the Brexit.  It was, however, both reassuring and encouraging to read this the upbeat remark in Sauver l’Europe , “The idea of a continental partnership between the UK and the EU, expressed by the Brussels-based Bruegel think-tank, could solve many problems.”  

Let us hope this concept is pursued.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole LoganAbout 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.

Share

Essex Seeks Public Input on Town’s Housing Needs, Invites Readers to Complete Survey

ESSEX — Many Connecticut municipalities are devoting attention to whether they have the right mix of housing choices. Longtime residents are interested in downsizing out of larger single-family homes, adult children would like to return to town after college, and many businesses are looking for housing nearby for their workforce at prices that are attainable.

The Essex Planning Commission, which recently completed an update to the comprehensive Essex Plan of Conservation and Development, has a special interest in housing in the Town of Essex. The Commission believes that a wider array of housing opportunities will be important to maintaining Essex’s special vibrancy and competitiveness as a residential community.

Along with the Board of Selectmen, Economic Development Commission, and Essex Housing Authority, the Planning Commission is interested in the public’s perspective of Essex’s housing situation.

Readers are therefore invited to take this brief survey to help these boards and commissions understand your perspective, address your interests and concerns, and ensure that your views help share any efforts the Town may undertake in this area.  The link to the survey is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EssexHousing and readers can also find it on the Town of Essex website at www.essexct.gov under News and Announcements.

Share

Letter to the Editor: Premise for Clergy’s Call for Compassion to Refugees Questioned

To the Editor:

Ever since I read the letter from the Valley Shore Clergy Association (published in the VNN in February) something has been niggling me. I just reread the letter. Although I agree with the Clergy’s call for compassion with regard to refugees and the undocumented living and working in America, I can’t help wondering why this group did not speak- out between 2009 and 2016 while Barak Obama deported more than two and one half million of the undocumented living in this country? Perhaps I missed their protest. If I did, I apologize.  If there were no protestations from this clergy group before now, I am led to the conclusion that the Genesis of their letter is partisan politics-not the WORD.

While I support a path to legalization for the undocumented living and working in America, I also understand why so many Americans, who have no hint of bias, want those who came here illegally, criminals or not, to be deported; laws are laws they say. It seems schizophrenic to me to kick people out of this country who came here during the Obama “catch and release” program. If I wanted to come into this country to seek a better life and I faced the prospect of waiting in line for years- versus facing a wink and a nod because of America’s border Gestalt, I think, if I had the grit, I would take my chances. It is a bit like a parent telling a child not to smoke pot and then leaving pot on the kitchen table in plain sight.

Sincerely,

Alison Nichols, M.Div.,
Essex.

Share

Lyme Academy College Donates Historic Document Collection to Lyme Art Association

Elisabeth Gordon Chandler at work.

OLD LYME — Yesterday Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts made a formal presentation of a collection of historic documents and original exhibition catalogs to the Lyme Art Association (LAA.) The event took place at the LAA’s historic building on Lyme Street immediately prior to the opening of the Association’s A Show in Four Acts exhibition.

This remarkable collection was part of the estate of Elisabeth Gordon Chandler (1913-2006), who not only founded the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, but was also previously president and a long-time member of the Lyme Art Association. The Archives Committee of Lyme Academy College has spent several years assembling and preparing this gift of history to the Lyme Art Association.

The collection being donated includes a comprehensive collection of Lyme Art Association exhibition catalogs including a 1909 8th annual exhibition pamphlet listing the artists Childe Hassam and Willard Metcalf and also, a 1921 20th annual exhibition booklet, which was the inaugural exhibit in the new Charles A. Platt designed gallery. In addition, there are catalogs of the spring watercolor exhibits, which began in 1925, along with the autumn exhibitions, beginning in 1933.

Many letters and documents related to Elisabeth Gordon Chandler’s time as Lyme Art Association president from 1975-1978 and tell of her productive time during a transformative era in the Association’s history. Important documents relate to the ‘Goodman Presentation Case’ of 1928, a collection of 35 small artworks by early Lyme Art Association members. An original copy of Charles A. Platt’s “General Specifications for the Art Gallery” of July 1920 is included with this collection, which gives a detailed outline of the plans for the gallery.

Elisabeth Gordon Chandler

Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts (originally named Lyme Academy of Fine Arts) was founded by members of the Lyme Art Association in 1976 during the time Chandler was President. The school was based on preserving the time-honored traditions and disciplines of training in the fine arts.  Founded as an Academy, it became an accredited College in 1996, and in 2014 became a College of the University of New Haven (UNH), when UNH acquired the College.

Lyme Art Association dates back to 1902, when a group of tonalist painters, led by the New York artist Henry Ward Ranger (1858-1916), were asked to hold a two-day exhibition in August at Old Lyme’s Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library. The artwork exhibited consisted entirely of landscapes depicting the local countryside, painted while they boarded at the home of Florence Griswold (1850-1937). It is believed that Lyme Art Association is the nation’s oldest continuously exhibiting art group in the country.

A nationally recognized portrait sculptor, Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, was a regular exhibitor at the Lyme Art Association, and she became vice-president in 1974 and, president in 1975. With a goal of obtaining tax-exempt status for the association, and continuing the teaching and traditions of representational art, she set to work to create an art school in the basement of the gallery building.

Share

Help Us Determine the Future of ValleyNewsNow, Please Take This Survey

We are delighted to have been asked by a professor from the School of Journalism at the University of Kansas, Dr. Peter Bobkowski, to participate in a project to research the news audiences of hyperlocal news websites.

The professor and two of his graduate students are conducting this study to understand better who reads local news websites, and about their readership and social habits. This will entail you completing a survey, which the professor and his students have created.

We would really appreciate as many readers as possible taking the time to complete the survey, which is expected to take approximately 10 minutes.  You can find the survey at this link.  When you click on the link, the landing page is a Consent Information Statement with more information.

The information you supply will remain completely anonymous at all times.  The raw data from the survey will be shared with us and will help us determine the future of ValleyNewsNow.com, but we stress again it will be in a form that it is totally anonymous.

Thank you so much for your support and assistance!

 

Share

Next Acton Library Film Screening, May 26

OLD SAYBROOK  — The Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook will be hosting two film series on Fridays beginning this January and running through May of 2017 using new film projection equipment and a new 12 ft. movie screen in the Grady Thomas Room.  All are welcome to both series. Admission is free.

“Explore the World Through Arts and Adventure” will run second Fridays at 1 p.m. and will include films that explore other countries and cultures through various art forms such as dance and music, and through adventure. Details of the series are as follows:

Jan. 13: An American in Paris
Feb. 10: Seven Years in Tibet
March 10: White Nights
April 7: Out of Africa (first Friday due to April 14th closing)
May 12: to be a announced on the APL website and in the library.

“The School Series” will run fourth Fridays also at 1 p.m. and will include artistically and historically educational films. Local school groups will be invited to join for these films at Acton. Details of the series are as follows:

Jan. 27: Fantasia
Feb. 24: Constitution USA with Peter Sagal
March 24: O. Henry’s Full House
April 28: Selma
May 26: to be announced on the APL website and in the library.

For more information, call The Acton Library at 860-395-3184, or visit the library during regular hours: Monday through Thursday 10am – 8:00pm, Friday and Saturday 9am – 5pm or visit on-line at www.actonlibrary.org .

Share

Cappella Cantorum Presents Medleys from Phantom, Les Mis, Choral Showcase, Sunday

Drawing by Madeline Favre of Deep River of Cappella Cantorum inspired by a performance in St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Old Saybrook.

DEEP RIVER — On Sunday, March 26, Cappella Cantorum will present Medleys from Phantom of the Opera & Les Miserables & A Choral Showcase,  including: He Watching Over Israel, How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place, Precious Lord, Take my Hand and Down by the Riverside.

The performance will start at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School, 256 Kelsey Hill Rd., Deep River 06417. A reception will follow the concert. Tickets are $25 at the door or online at www.CappellaCantorum.org 

For more information, call Barry Asch at 860-388-2871.

Share

CT River Artisans Co-op Hosts Open House for Artists

ESSEX — The Connecticut River Artisans Co-op is hosting an Open House for artists on Sunday March 26, from 1 to 3 p.m.

 If you are a Connecticut artist and looking for a new venue to showcase your work, the Co-op could be it.  Located in Essex, Conn., the Connecticut River Artisans Co-op is a well-known tourist attraction and shopper’s destination.

Established in 1980, this Co-op believes it is the oldest Co-op in the state.  Stop in, enjoy the refreshments, chat with one of our artists and find out what they are all about.  Compare the advantages of belonging to a Co-op verses consigning your work or selling at shows.  Bring your portfolio, pictures or samples of your work as jurying will take place that day.

The Co-op is looking for all handcrafted, art inspired work.  Items must be quality originals made by the artists.  No imports, wholesalers or reps.  There will be no jurying of jewelry, candles or soaps at this time.

Call CT River Artisans at 860 767 5457 or Gay Petruzzi Ritter 860 578 9595 with any questions.

Share

Lyme Art Association’s ‘Exhibition in Four Acts’ Now on View

Alan James, Essex Steam Train Sketch, watercolor (Industrious America)

Four new exhibitions, each with a different theme, will be on view in the Lyme Art Association (LAA)’s beautiful historic galleries from March 17 through April 28.  A Contemporary Look, Holding Still, Industrious America, and LAA Faculty run concurrently.  An opening reception for all four exhibitions will be held on Sunday, March 26, from 2 to 4 p.m.

The Exhibition in Four Acts is one of the most dynamic and exciting exhibitions that the LAA , bringing together four distinct types of representational art.  Industrious America showcases the work of talented artist members who set out to celebrate American industry and the man-made landscape.  A Contemporary Look is an exhibition of abstracted, yet still representational work.

Jerry Caron, By Way of Bejing, oil (Holding Still)

Holding Still features still life works in all mediums …

Hollis Dunlap, A Day at Ashlawn Farm, oil (LAA Faculty)

and LAA Faculty features work by our outstanding and talented studio instructors. Each exhibition is shown in one of the four skylit galleries in our historic building.

Spring Burst, mixed media (Contemporary Look)

“A visit to the Lyme Art Association to see the Exhibition in Four Acts feels like visiting four different galleries.  There is a variety and a shift in mood as you move from one gallery to the next,” states gallery manager, Jocelyn Zallinger.  “This show also allows a visitor to focus on each genre in a way that is not possible in other exhibitions.”

The opening reception for all four exhibitions is free to the public, and will be held on Sunday, March 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the gallery, located at 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, Conn.

The Lyme Art Association was founded in 1914 by the American Impressionists and continues the tradition of exhibiting and selling representational artwork by its members and invited artists, as well as offering art instruction and lectures to the community. The Association is located at 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT, in a building designed by Charles Adams Platt and located within an historic district.

Admission is free with contributions appreciated. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday12 to 5 p.m. or by appointment.

For more information on exhibitions, purchase of art, art classes, or becoming a member, call 860-434-7802 or visit www.lymeartassociation.org

Share

High Hopes Offers “VetTogether” Family Day Open House, Sunday

AREAWIDE — High Hopes, IAVA, Equus Effect and Team RWB Groton are hosting a “VetTogether” Family Day Open House at High Hopes on Sunday, March 26, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

High Hopes will present an introduction to the Equus Effect Program  during which attendees will spend around 90 minutes interacting with the horses and enjoying time with fellow Connecticut veterans and families.

This program, which takes place on High Hopes’ 120-acre property in Old Lyme, introduces veterans, families and High Hopes supporters to working with horses and will be followed by lunch.

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding is located at 36 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme CT  06371

RSVP at the IAVA Event Page

For more information, contact Megan Ellis at mellis@highhopestr.org

Share

Learn From the Dog Listener at Deep River Library, May 24

Want to better understand your canine best friend? Join us for an evening with Certified Dog Listener, Phil Klein, on Wednesday, May 24, 6 – 8:00 p.m. at the Deep River Public Library.

Learn how canines see the human world, as well as all the underlying reasons for your dog’s behaviors. Topics to be covered include nervousness, barking, aggression, jumping, chewing, separation anxiety and proper leash training. Discover simple dog-friendly changes that can transform your dog and improve your relationship with your furry friend.

Registration is not required for this program. Free and open to all.

For more information, visit http://deepriverlibrary.accountsupport.com and click on our monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pm; Tuesday 10 am – 6 pm; Wednesday 12:30 – 8 pm; Thursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.

Share

Essex Library Presents ‘The Interactions Between Stars and Their Planets’ Tomorrow with Dr. Wilson Cauley

Wesleyan Post-Doctoral Astronomy Researcher Dr. Wilson Cauley

ESSEX — “Are we alone?”

Recent headlines from NASA confirm scientists’ discovery of the existence of three planets firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water. We now know of thousands of planets around stars other than our Sun.

These extra-solar planets, or exoplanets, are highly diverse and exist in almost every conceivable form. In order to fully understand these exciting objects, we also have to learn about the stars they orbit and how the stars can impact the evolution of their exoplanet satellites.

On Saturday, March 25, at 1:30 p.m. at the Essex Library, Wesleyan postdoctoral researcher in astronomy, Wilson Cauley will talk about this relationship for a variety of different types of exoplanetary systems, including what these interactions imply for exoplanet atmospheres and the potential for life to thrive on these alien worlds.

This program is free and open to the public. For more information or to register, call the Library at (860) 767-1560. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Ave. in Essex.

 

Share

Join a Knitting Class Tomorrow at Deep River Public Library

combination knitting tutorial

Learn the art of knitting with veteran crafter, Wendy Sherman at the Deep River Public Library on Saturday, March 25, at 1 p.m.

Knitting is a terrific way to create useful objects, relax and meet other makers.

This class will go over all the fundamentals of knitting, including how to cast-on, bind-off, and the basic knit and purl stitches. The program will cover choosing patterns, needles and yarn, as well as discuss useful online resources.

Registration is required for this program and limited to 10 participants. All ages welcome. If possible, please bring your own needles, size 6 to 9 and a skein of smooth worsted weight yarn, wool or wool blend. Some supplies will be available for purchase.

For more information, visit http://deepriverlibrary.accountsupport.com and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pm; Tuesday 10 am – 6 pm; Wednesday 12:30 – 8 pm; Thursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm.

Share

High Hopes Hosts Chili Open House Tomorrow

High_Hopes_Chili_Open_HouseOLD LYME — Looking to get involved, make new friends and make a difference?

Join High Hopes Therapeutic Riding for their Chili Open House on Saturday, March 25, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at their facility in Old Lyme.  The event is open to members of the community to give them an opportunity to learn about one of the top therapeutic riding centers in the nation, while enjoying chili with all the fixings.  Bring a buddy and meet High Hopes’  “Buddy”, the horse.

This open house is informal, child-friendly, and your visit can be as long, or short, as your schedule allows.

Those looking to make a difference in the lives of High Hopes’ participants can learn about volunteer opportunities. There are frequent openings for sidewalkers, office help, barn assistance, special event planning and more..

It’s not too early to think about summer and camp staff will be on hand to talk about the High Hopes range of 2017 summer camp programs, which start in July.

High Hopes is located at 36 Town Woods Road in Old Lyme.  RSVP to 860-434-1974 to help us in chili-making planning.

For more information and directions call 860-434-1974 or visit www.highhopestr.org.

High Hopes is one of the oldest and largest therapeutic riding centers in the United States, operating since 1974 and accredited by PATH Intl. (formerly the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association) since 1979.

Annually, High Hopes serves over 1,700 individuals. Assisted by over 675 volunteers and a herd of 27 horses specifically trained for therapeutic riding, High Hopes is committed to providing the highest quality of services to the community. Of the more than 800 programs that are members of PATH Intl., High Hopes is one of only six centers in the United States approved by PATH Intl. to provide their training courses in therapeutic riding instruction and has trained instructors from all over the world.

Share

Letter From Paris: Europe Sees The Netherlands Come to its Rescue

Nicole Prévost Logan

Thank goodness for The Netherlands!  

Their March 15 vote for their House of Representatives was exactly what Europe needed at this point – the reassuring voice of a founding member of the European Community (EU) expressing its belief in Europe while being open to the world. The result was greeted with a sigh of relief by pro-Europeans. It was another sign — after the victory of the Green Party-backed Independents in the Austrian elections of December 2016 — that populism and rejection of Europe are not inescapable. 

A brief look at history will help better understand the elections of The Netherlands and realize how coherent the Dutch position is.  During its “Golden Age” in the 16th and 17th centuries,  Holland was an opulent merchant class society marked by Calvinist ethics of discipline and frugality.  It stood out as being tolerant toward religions and a place where liberty of conscience was inscribed in the constitution.

The founding of the Dutch East India Company opened a maritime and commercial empire, becoming a hub of finances and trade. The first ever stock exchange was created in Amsterdam.  Erasmus (1466-1536), the humanist Renaissance scholar, gave his name to a most successful student exchange program established in 1987.

Someone described The Netherlands of that time as having high literacy and low interest. Rotterdam, until recently the largest port in the world, is still number one in Europe.  What was tolerance has developed into permissiveness and it is one of the dominant traits of the Dutch people today.  Finally, that small country, located well below the sea level, has shown incredible courage in carrying out its Pharaonic fight against the elements. 

“The Netherlands is the country, which has the most to lose from the Brexit” says Marc-Olivier Padis, from the Terra Nova Think Tank.  It shares with the UK an attachment to free trade policies and also to the unhindered circulation of goods and capital within the European Common Market.  Holland’s agriculture, horticulture and dairy industry have always profited from Europe’s Political Agricultural Policy (PAC). The reason the Dutch voted “No”  to the 2005 referendum on a European constitution was because they  worried about the seemingly uncontrolled expansion of Europe, especially with Holland being the largest of the small countries in the continent.

The participation in the March 15 elections was incredibly high at 77.6 percent.  The ballot system by proportional representation produces multiple parties.  In order to be able to govern, any of the 28 parties has to join a coalition with others. 

Here is a snapshot  of the votes showing the changes since the 2012 elections.  The winner was Mark Rutte (VVD), former prime minister, head of the conservative liberal centrist party with 21.3 percent votes and 33 seats. He lost eight seats.  In second place, the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Greet Wilders, obtained 13.1 percent and will have 20 seats. Two pro-European parties, Christian democrat Appeal (CDA) and centrist reformer (D66) won 19 seats each.  Those two may share an alliance with Rutte.    

Rutte said he would not join Wilders again, as he had done in 2012.  The Labour party Social democrats (PVDA) collapsed going from 29 seats to only nine seats.  The radical left also did not perform well.  One notes two interesting developments: a young 30-year-old had a spectacular rise — Jesse Klaver has a Dutch-Indonesian mother and a  father of Moroccan origin.  His party, Groenlinks (GL)  or green- left, will secure 14 seats.

A new party, Denk, meaning “think”, headed by Unahan Kuzu, received 2 percent of the votes and will have three seats.  It is 100 percent Moslem.

Wilders, the “peroxide candidate,” leader of PPV, the only extremist party,  gained five seats.  He progressed but did not win.  “We are the party, which did not lose,” he commented.”  He is well-known for his outrageous attacks against Islam.  He wants to outlaw the Koran , close all mosques and expel the Moslems.  As a consequence, he is under constant threat.

For the past 13 years he has been living in a safe house with  a “panic room,” is under police protection round the clock and rides in an armor-plated car.  “I would not wish my life to anybody”  A “buffer zone,” to use the expression of German journalist Michaela Wiegel, isolates Wilders in the parliament. 

The Dutch elections took place at a time of high tension between Ankara and Europe.  The Turkish minister of foreign affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu was about to land in Rotterdam as part of a political campaign among the Turkish diaspora of  2.8 million.  Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s objective is to gather the Turkish population’s support prior to the April 16 constitutional referendum on his increased powers.  After Erdogan called Holland the Nazi capital of the West and kept hurling other insults, Germany and Holland had the courage to forbid the Turkish officials from entering their territories.  Rutte was very firm and impressed the voters scrambling during the last minutes before the polls.

Today Dutch economy is so healthy as to make its neighbors drool with envy with 6 percent unemployment and an economic growth rate of 2.1 percent.  The government reacted quickly to the recent economic crises in 2008 and 2010-11.  In 2012, it was even able to generate a trade surplus.  Its rigorous austerity program was so efficient as to lower public expenses down from 65 to 45 percent.  The reforms were not imposed on the people but accepted by them in a form of consensus.

The main issues at stake are not so much economic nor social but a fear of losing one’s cultural identity and also anxiety about security.  Therefore immigration and the challenge of integration are at the core of the people’s concerns. 

Holland is a multicultural society with a surge of a Turkish and Moroccan immigration — something which has occurred during the past 50 years.  Half the population of Rotterdam consists of recent immigrants.  The Dutch have been working hard at establishing good relations with these populations: 70 associations act as go-between; a minister from a reformed church in Rotterdam just gave a sermon in a mosque; Ahmed Aboutaleb, mayor of Rotterdam, is of Moroccan origin, and is strongly against the radicalization of Islam.

The Netherlands should be considered as a model for the other EU members. Unfortunately, many of their qualities are not to be found in other countries.  It is hoped that the position and demands of the Dutch are heard in a restructuring of the EU, possibly to unfold in the next few months. 

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole LoganAbout 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.

Share

Tri-Town Youth Services Hosts Mother-Daughter Night Out, Tuesday

AREAWIDE — Tri-Town Youth Services invites local 5th grade girls and their mothers or caregivers to attend a special program with Health Educator, Patty Cournoyer on Tuesday, March 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the John Winthrop Middle School Library.

One of Tri-Town’s most popular programs, “Getting Ready for the Change,” gives mothers and daughters an opportunity to talk about all of the changes that take place as the girls become young women.  Cournoyer will facilitate a fun, informative, interactive and sometimes humorous discussion about puberty.  She will create a safe, comfortable environment and give moms and daughters ideas to help them keep talking to one another, even when it’s a little uncomfortable.

The program fee is $25 per mother-daughter pair and space is limited to 12 pairs.  Call 860-526-3600 to reserve your spot or register online at  www.tritownys.org.

Share

SECWAC Presents UConn Professor Pieter Visscher Tonight Speaking on ‘Lithium in the Andes’

Professor Pieter Visscher

OLD LYME — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) presents Pieter Visscher — professor of marine sciences at the University of Connecticut and director of the university’s Center for Integrative Geosciences — speaking on “Lithium in the Andes” at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School on Tuesday, March 21, at 6 p.m.

His presentation will explore the ecological, economic and geopolitical impact of the world’s largest lithium mines – which are located in the Andes and provide more than 600,000 tons of this metal annually for use in lithium batteries.  Mining of these lithium reservoirs makes a significant impact on the fragile Andean ecosystem.

The mining process requires substantial amounts of water, yet many of the mines are located in the Atacama Desert, the driest place on the planet.  While the Chilean government works with mining companies and local populations on conservation efforts, significant socio-economical, ecological and political tensions remain.

Tickets are $20 for the general public, and free for area college and high school students and SECWAC members; tickets can be obtained at info@secwac.org. (Ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership.)  Reporters are welcome to attend as guests of the SECWAC Board.  (Interested reporters should contact Paul Nugent at info@secwac.org or 860-388-9241.)

The event will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. reception.  Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC members with reservations (made at least 24 hours in advance) will reconvene for dinner ($35) at the Old Lyme Country Club.

Prior to joining the university, Visscher worked for Hawaii’s Oceanic Institute, the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School and the US Geological Survey.  He is a founding member of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute.

Funders of his research have included NASA, NSF, NIH, EPA and DOE. His current research focuses on biosignatures (changes in rock or atmosphere that provide evidence for life).

Visscher holds graduate degrees in chemistry, environmental law and microbiology from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.  He is currently a Fulbright Specialist and travels extensively to Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, where he is involved in conservation issues.

The presentation is a part of the SECWAC Speaker Series.  SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America.  Its mission is to foster an understanding of issues related to foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate and educational programming.

Through its annual Speaker Series, SECWAC arranges up to 10 presentations a year that provide a public forum for dialogue between its members and experts on foreign relations.  Membership information is available at www.secwac.org.

Share

US Coast Guard in New Haven Hosts Open House, May 20

The US Coast Guard at 120 Woodward Ave. in New Haven hosts an Open House on Saturday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Share

Leif Nilsson Celebrates Lyme Land Conservation Trust’s Golden Anniversary with 50:50 Offer

CAT# 3406 Hamburg Cove Oil 24 x 54 inches Leif Nilsson Summer 2016 ©

CHESTER/LYME — It’s time to celebrate the Lyme Land Conservation Trust’s Golden Anniversary!

Buy a box of matches, a print or a painting owned by Leif Nilsson at the studio between March 17 and May 21 and 50 percent of the purchase price will be donated to the Lyme Land Conservation Trust by making two payments; one for 50 percent of the price plus sales tax to the studio and one for the remaining 50 percent to the Lyme Land Conservation Trust.

Click here to preview Leif’s art. 

The Spring Street Studio & Gallery is located at 1 Spring Street, Chester, CT 06412.  Studio Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 6 p.m., by appointment, or other hours call 860-526-2077.

 

 

 

 

Share

Saybrook Point Inn Installs Comcast Business High Speed Internet Services

A view of Saybrook Point Inn from the Connecticut River.

OLD SAYBROOK — Comcast Business today announced that Saybrook Point Inn, a luxury Connecticut inn featuring elegant accommodations, fine dining and premier spa services, is using Comcast Business Ethernet, Internet, Phone and Video offerings to provide guests with high-quality technology services as well as improve inn operations.

The privately-owned travel destination is located on the Connecticut River at the entrance to Long Island Sound and features more than 100 guest rooms, a full-service spa, fine dining restaurant and marina that can accommodate vessels up to 200 feet. To meet its commitment to environmental conservation, operational efficiency and exceptional guest services, the management team streamlined its technology offerings and implemented Comcast Business Internet to increase the performance for all three of its networks in the marina, office and guest areas.

“Both our social and corporate guests require high-speed internet service, from the visiting yachts in the marina who use it for self-diagnostic marine systems and video applications, to those staying in our inn. Comcast Business provides us with reliable internet as well as phone and video services throughout the property,” said John Lombardo, general manager of Saybrook Point.

He continued, “Leveraging technology allows us streamline operations. We can be more of a high-touch resort because our staff can spend more time interacting and servicing our guests, whether they are visiting for a vacation or attending an event in our ballrooms and conference center.”

Saybrook Point Inn was the first “Green Hotel” designated in Connecticut and is well-known for its eco-friendly practices, several of which rely on technology to meet the property’s green commitment.

Looking across the Saybrook Point Inn’s marina to the accommodations beyond.

In the guest rooms, Saybrook Point implemented Comcast Business’ Q2Q hospitality solution offering guests full voice and video offerings with a specific Saybrook Point default channel to promote various events and news and a second menu channel. These channels eliminate the need for the Inn to print materials for the rooms continuously, thus adding to its eco-friendly mission. Their cogeneration and extensive solar panel system also rely on solid internet services to perform properly.

“Technology offerings including high-speed internet, phone and hi-def video are among the top amenities for resorts such as Saybrook Point Inn to keep guests connected to their families and work during their travels as well as provide entertainment options,” said Michael Parker, regional senior vice president for Comcast’s Western New England Region.

He added, “Saybrook Point Inn is a well-known for its beautiful location, exceptional guest services and commitment to the environment and community. Comcast is fortunate to work with this Inn to provide the high-tech solutions to meet guest needs as well as optimize business operations.”

Additionally, Saybrook Point Inn relies on Comcast Business to strengthen its operations with a 100 Megabit-per-second (Mbps) Ethernet Dedicated Internet line and PRI business phone service for direct dialing around the property.

“Our invoices are processed via an online central accounting system so our efficiency is greatly impacted if the network is slow or offline. Also, our staff offices, printers and copiers are connected through an online shared system, which needs reliable internet,” Lombardo noted.

He commented, “Comcast Business ensures that we are operating at peak productivity. And it has allowed us to implement new guest service systems. For instance, in the dining room, we use iPads and OpenTable to communicate the status of each table in real-time with the hostess station to decrease guest wait times, and we are implementing systems for housekeeping and maintenance departments to both eliminate paper, intrusive radio communication and have better accountability.

Lombardo said, “We also installed two treadmills recently that have built-in Wi-fi capability for internet surfing and access to online special fitness programs.”

Editor’s Notes:

  1. Situated along the picturesque shores of historic Old Saybrook, Connecticut, Saybrook Point Inn, Spa and Marina features a collection of 100 elegantly-appointed guestrooms, 24 villas offering long and short-term rentals, a rejuvenating full-service SANNO spa, and casual fine dining restaurant, Fresh Salt, as well as a unique waterside Lighthouse Suite. In addition, the historic Three Stories and Tall Tales luxury guesthouses offer exquisite rooms that convey the story of famous local residents, including Katharine Hepburn. Saybrook Point also shines with the pristine Saybrook Point Marina, a landmark boating destination conveniently located at the mouth of the Connecticut River with easy access to Long Island Sound. It can accommodate vessels from 12 to 200 feet and has received numerous premier Connecticut marina awards.
    More information is available at www.saybrook.com.
  2. Comcast Business offers Ethernet, Internet, Wi-Fi, Voice and TV solutions to help organizations of all sizes transform their business. Powered by a next-generation, fiber-based network, and backed by 24/7 technical support, Comcast Business is one of the largest contributors to the growth of Comcast Cable. Comcast Business is the nation’s largest cable provider to small and mid-size businesses and has emerged as a force in the Ethernet market; recognized over the last two years by leading industry associations as its fastest growing provider and service provider of the year.
    For more information, call 866-429-3085. Follow on Twitter @ComcastBusiness and on other social media networks at http://business.comcast.com/social.
Share

Two Organizations Working for Middle East Peace Co-Sponsor Film Series: See ‘An Oasis on the Hill,’ May 18

Members of the Tree of Life group that traveled to Israel-Palestine in March 2017 stand on the front steps of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme’s Meetinghouse on the day of their departure. Others would join the travelers from Ohio, Washington DC, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Hawaii.

Film Series Aims to Educate, Inspire Dialogue About Peace, Justice in Middle East and Beyond

AREAWIDE — Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)-New Haven and the Tree of Life Educational Fund (TOLEF) are jointly sponsoring a film series titled, ‘From the Jordan to the Sea: Israel-Palestine in Film’ at Westbrook Public Library. The series comprises three feature-length films on successive Thursdays, April 27, May 4 and May 11, and a short film on May 18, which will be followed by a “talk-back” with young people recently returned from TOLEF’s  2017 trip to Israel/Palestine and Bosnia.  

All four films will have a start time of 7 p.m. in the Community Room at Westbrook Library. The public is welcome to attend these events.

Tree of Life travelers stand on the roof of the Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem as Dr. Reza Mansoor offered an introduction to Islam to the group of 37 travelers, who incorporated Muslim, Jewish and Christian representation.

The film series strives to educate and inspire dialogue by offering diverse perspectives with dramatic heartfelt storytelling. The selected films offer a human face to the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It is  hoped the series raises questions, challenges some common myths and jumpstarts candid discussion about the complexities of working for peace and justice in the Middle East and in the US as well. 

Details of the program are as follows:

When I Saw You (2012)  93 minutes
Thursday, April 27     

It is 1967. The world is alive with change: brimming with reawakened energy, new styles, music and an infectious sense of hope. In Jordan, a different kind of change is underway as tens of thousands of refugees pour across the border from Palestine. Having been separated from his father in the chaos of war, Tarek, 11, and his mother Ghaydaa, are amongst this latest wave of refugees. Placed in “temporary” refugee camps made up of tents and prefab houses until they would be able to return, they wait, like the generation before them who arrived in 1948. With difficulties adjusting to life in Harir camp and a longing to be reunited with his father, Tarek searches a way out, and discovers a new hope emerging with the times. When I Saw You is the story of people affected by the times around them, in search of something more in their lives. A journey full of adventure, love and the desire to be free. A story of the human spirit that knows no borders. 

Five Broken Cameras (2011)  94 minutes
Thursday,  May 4 
             

 A documentary film co-directed by Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidii.  It is a first-hand account of protests in Bil’in, a West Bank village affected by the Israel West Bank barrier. The documentary was shot almost entirely by the Palestinian farmer who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son. Structured around the destruction of Burnat’s cameras, it follows one family’s evolution over five years of turmoil. The film won a 2012 Sundance Film Festival award and was nominated for a 2013 Academy Award.         

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea (2013)  100 minutes
Thursday  May 11
       

Tal (Agathe Bonitzer) is the 17-year-old daughter of recent French immigrants to Israel who live in Jerusalem. Following a bomb attack on a local café, she throws a bottle into the sea near Gaza with a message asking for an explanation. Naïm (Mahmoud Shalaby), a sensitive but aimless 20-year-old Palestinian living in Gaza, discovers the bottle and tries to answer Tal’s question by initiating an email correspondence. Their mutual suspicion soon develops into a tender friendship.

An Oasis on the Hill (2013)  10 minutes
Thursday May 18  
       

This inspiring documentary follows Omer and Rami, who grew up in Neve Shalom / Wahat al Salam, an Israeli village where Jews and Arabs have peacefully coexisted for over 40 years.                                                 Included with this film will be a “talk back” by young people recently returned from TOLEF’s  2017 trip to Israel/Palestine and Bosnia.  

For more information about the film series, contact TOLEF Coordinator Mary Tomasetti at mary@tolef.org or 860-391-5384 or call Westbrook Library at (860) 399-6422

Directions to Westbrook Library: I-95 to Exit 65. South on Rte. 153 to center of Westbrook, left onto Boston Post Rd (Rte. 1), then left onto Burdick Dr.  Look for the entrance sign to Daniel R. Wren Park. The library will be on your right. The Community Room is located at the back of the Library. Entrance is next to Literacy Volunteers.          

About Jewish Voice for Peace: Jewish Voice for Peace is a national organization with over 65 chapter across the United States, including a chapter in the Greater New Haven area.  JVP supports the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestine; self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinians refugees based on principles established in international law; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East.

About Tree of Life Educational Fund: Tree of Life Educational Fund is a non-profit organization that provides travel experience, conferences and educational opportunities to help participants to become more enlightened and engaged in making this a more just and peaceful world. The TOLEF’s latest trip to Israel/Palestine and Bosnia took place March 8-24, 2017.

Share

Celebrating her 99th, Mary Vidbergs is Justifiably ‘Queen for a Day’

Happy 99th birthday, Mary !

It may have been one of the coldest days of the year last Sunday, March 12, but nothing was going to stop Mary Vidbergs’ family from celebrating the long-time Essex resident’s 99th birthday in style.

Mary arrived around 11 a.m. at the top of Main Street and was promptly presented with a large bouquet and ‘crowned’ with a tiara.

The family — some of whom braved the bone-chilling temperatures in lederhosen — had planned a surprise for Mary, which involved driving her from the top of Main Street in a horse-drawn carriage down to the Griswold Inn.

Dr. John Pfeiffer of Old Lyme (third from right, front row, in the photo above), who is Mary’s son-in-law as well as Old Lyme’s Town Historian, is well-known for his penchant for wearing shorts in all weathers around town!

She may be 99, but Mary was determined to enjoy the view from her carriage!

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, Mary smiled continuously through the whole adventure and insisted at the end of her ride on thanking the horses for their labors.

An ever-cheerful Mary waved goodbye to the crowd before entering the Griswold Inn where all her family joined her for what we’re sure was a wonderful family party.

Happy 99th, Mary, from all your friends at ValleyNewsNow.com — we’re looking forward to your 100th already!

Share

Community Music School Announces Pacheco-O’Donnell as Greenleaf Music Award Winner

Santiago Pacheco-O’Donnell

CENTERBROOK — The selection committee for the Carolyn R. Greenleaf Memorial Fund of Community Music School (CMS) has chosen guitarist, vocalist, and pianist as the recipient of the Spring 2017 Carolyn R. Greenleaf Music Award.

This award is given each semester to a middle or high school student who has demonstrated exceptional musical ability and motivation.

The award is for a semester of private lessons at Community Music School in Centerbrook and Santiago has chosen to study guitar with CMS’s guitar instructor, John Birt.

An Honor Freshman of Xavier High School, Santiago received his first guitar from his grandmother when he finished first grade, and he’s been playing unstoppably since then. He has attended CMS since 2012, as a guitar student of John Birt for the last four years.

He also studies piano and voice with Greta Moorhead and recently joined the Jazz Ensemble with Tom Briggs. His favorite band is The Beatles.

Outside of CMS, he has played in musicals at St John School in Old Saybrook, performing as a solo singer in last year’s performance. Aside from music, he enjoys soccer, basketball, and archery. Santiago is also an avid photographer and has received many awards at the Chester Fair.

Last summer he volunteered in the children’s section of the Essex Public Library and has been a big supporter of the Valley Shore YMCA’s Community Garden which provides vegetables for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.

The Carolyn R. Greenleaf Memorial Fund was established at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County in 2008 by her friends to honor Greenleaf’s dedication to music and education. The Carolyn Greenleaf Memorial Music Award is open to students of Middlesex County and the Lymes and is awarded twice a year.  It is entirely based on merit and is the only such award at Community Music School.

Community Music School is an independent, nonprofit school which provides a full range of the finest possible instruction and musical opportunities to persons of all ages and abilities, increasing appreciation of music and encouraging a sense of joy in learning and performing, thus enriching the life of the community.

Community Foundation of Middlesex County is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Middlesex County. Working with charitably-minded individuals and organizations to build permanent endowments since 1997, the Community Foundation has provided 850 grants totaling more than $2.5 million to organizations for the arts, cultural and heritage programs, educational activities,  environmental improvements, and for health and human services. 

Share

30 Plunge Into Frigid Sound to Help Save Plum Island

Plunging for Plovers: these brave souls charged into the freezing waters of Long Island Sound last Saturday to raise awareness of efforts to save Plum Island from sale and preserve the island’s outstanding flora and fauna. Photo by Judy Preston.

OLD SAYBROOK -– A long-planned “polar plunge”-style fundraiser at Old Saybrook Town Beach got a shot of drama from unexpectedly cold temperatures, strong winds, and high waves this weekend.

CFE/Save the Sound’s Chris Cryder, in seal costume, speaks at the press conference. Photo by Laura McMillan.

Students from Old Saybrook High School, area officials, and representatives of a regional environmental organization—some in costumes—packed into a heated school bus for a press conference last Saturday morning, March 11, before running into a frigid Long Island Sound to raise awareness and support for protecting Plum Island.

The “Plum Island Plunge for Plovers” has raised $3,700 for Connecticut Fund for the Environment and its bi-state program Save the Sound’s multi-year battle to save Plum Island from sale and private development. Donations are still coming in.

“I’ve met thousands of folks all around the Sound who want Plum Island preserved, but this is something else,” said Chris Cryder, special project coordinator for CFE/Save the Sound, decked out as one of the harbor seals that rest on Plum Island’s rocky shore. “To see dozens of people voluntarily turn out in weather like this to make a statement about the island’s importance is inspiring.”

Rosie Rothman, co-president of Old Saybrook High School’s Interact Club, speaks at the press conference prior to ‘The Plunge.’ Photo by Judy Preston.

Rosie Rothman, co-president of Old Saybrook High School’s Interact Club, explained that the plunge was a perfect fit for the Interact Club’s mission of community service and the Ecology Club’s mission of environmental protection.

“Afterwards, we couldn’t feel our toes for a while, but we still had fun,” she said. “With a windchill in the single digits, it was definitely a challenge, but our members still showed up. I think that speaks to our dedication to the cause. It is our hope that our legislators take decisive federal action to protect Plum Island from development that would be detrimental to the wildlife that depends on it, including 111 species of conservation concern.”

“I was very proud to see so many Old Saybrook High School students participate in the polar plunge, on a freezing March day, to support efforts to preserve Plum Island,” said Rep. Devin Carney (Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook). “Plum Island is an important natural resource for the Connecticut shoreline and Long Island Sound. By preserving it, these students, and many others, will be able to enjoy its natural beauty for many years to come.”

And they’re off! The plungers enter the bitterly cold water at Old Saybrook Town Beach. (Photo by Judy Preston)

Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., first selectman for the Town of Old Saybrook, joined the hardy souls jumping into the Sound. Addressing the assembled attendees, he reminded them of the region’s land conversation victory in saving The Preserve, and said, “The Town of Old Saybrook fully supports the conservation of Plum Island and its rightful place in the public domain upon the decommissioning of scientific activities. The importance of Plum Island as a flora and fauna host has been amply demonstrated. It is now time for our legislative and executive branches to swiftly put an end to any speculation that this resource will be privately developed. I applaud the bipartisan efforts to conserve Plum Island.”

These were some of the supporters, who braved the cold to cheer on the plungers. (Photo by Judy Preston.)

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy sent letters in support of the effort.

Plum Island, an 840-acre, federally-owned island in the eastern end of Long Island Sound, is home to threatened and endangered birds like the piping plover and roseate tern, as well as other rare species. Seventy Connecticut and New York organizations work together as the Preserve Plum Island Coalition, partnering with grassroots activists and champions in Congress to halt sale of the island. CFE/Save the Sound has also brought an action in federal court claiming that the government’s decision to sell the island violates numerous federal environmental laws.

Fundraising will remain open through the end of the month. Members of the public may donate to support CFE/Save the Sound’s work at www.bit.ly/plum-plunge.

Share

Rep. Bob Siegrist Holds Workshop Monday to Learn How to Lower Your Electric Bill

Rep. Bob Siegrist

AREAWIDE  — The public is invited to meet with State Rep. Bob Siegrist (R-36th) and rate specialists from the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) for an informative workshop to learn how to lower your electric bill on Monday, March 20 at the Deep River Public Library located at 150 Main St., Deep River.

The event will run from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

All interested residents are encouraged to attend and to bring a recent copy of their electric bill.

Rate specialists from PURA will be on hand to lead the event and assist with questions.

Rep. Siegrist (Robert.Siegrist@housegop.ct.gov) represents Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.  He can be reached at 800 842 1423  or on the web at www.RepSiegrist.com.

Share

Letter From Paris: The ‘Centre Pompidou’ Turns 40  

Nicole Prévost Logan

The Musée National d’Art Moderne (MNAM), better known as the Centre Pompidou – that crazy structure  with tubes, exhaust pipes, chimneys and metal rods in bright primary colors – is celebrating 40 years of existence.  Its revolutionary architecture oriented toward multidisciplinary activities, which turned it into what virulent opponents called  a “supermarket for the arts,” scandalized visitors at first, but is now the benchmark for art museums around the word.

In 1969, President Georges Pompidou and his wife Claude, wanted to create an institution accessible to everyone, innovative enough to arouse the curiosity and the interest of the general public.  He wrote in Le Monde on Oct. 17, 1972, “It is my passionate wish for Paris to have a cultural center like the ones they have created in the United States, which have thus far been an unequalled success.  It would be one that is both a museum and a center of creation where the visual arts take residence with music, films, books, audiovisual research, etc.”

The project was conceived soon after the May 1968 student contest, which shook French society to the core.  A location was found in a vacant parking lot in the dilapidated working class district of Beaubourg.  Construction lasted five years from 1972 to 1977.

Young architects – Italian Renzo Piano and Englishman Richard Rogers along with Italian Gianfranco Franchini – won the international competition and designed a project breaking away from the tradition of solemn museums.  Their innovative design consisted of a metal structure with six levels of flexible and open-plan floors.

The Centre Pompidou features a revolutionary design, which includes the external escalator known as the “caterpillar.” Photo by Nicole Logan.

The anchor of the assemblage was a giant pillar supporting a network of metal beams and interlocking parts.  The external escalator, enclosed in glass, zigzags its way up to the roof-top like a caterpillar (hence its nickname) along the face of the building.  The color-coded functional pipes – blue for the air, yellow for electricity, green for water and red for circulation – give a playful appearance to the construction.

The idea was to integrate the museum within its urban environment.  The facade is all glass and there is no threshold between the outdoors and the Forum or heart of the center.  Whenever the exhibits are too large to be set up inside – as was the case with the 1979 Dali retrospective, which attracted 800,000 visitors – they spill over the gently sloping piazza or the nearby Stravinsky Fountain.

President Valery Giscard d’Estaing inaugurated the building on Jan. 31, 1977 with high officials and celebrities in attendance.  Adding to the pageantry , the Garde Republicaine arrived on horseback , holding Andy Warhol-creation-like banners. Forty eight hours later, the Centre Pompidou opened to the general public.

The 40,000 visitors could not hold their excitement as they rode the escalator to the upper terraces, well above the roofs of Paris.  The organizers were afraid the building would collapse with the unexpected size of the crowds.  Looking at the metal structure, someone supposedly commented, “Why didn’t they take down the scaffolding?”

The permanent collections of modern art, spanning the period from 1905 until the 1960s, are on the fifth floor.  The plan layout allows for the easy flow of visitors between rooms of all sizes.  The walls are stark white.  A wide hallway leads to huge windows opening on a reflecting pool and a free-standing, 25 ft. high mobile by Alexander Calder.  Montmartre is in the background .

The art lover will see just a sampling or five per cent of the phenomenal collections owned by the museum, which includes works by Sonia and Robert Delauney, Fernand Leger,  Mondrian, Matisse, Picasso, Yves Klein, Juan Gris, Goncharova,  Larionov and many others.  One room is dedicated to Marcel Duchamp and includes the famous bicycle on a kitchen stool (MOMA has another copy), and the hard-to-understand Neuf Moules Mâlic, (generally translated as Nine Malic Moulds) 1914, which was a preparation for la Mariée mise à nu par ses celibataires (the bride stripped naked  by her nine bachelors).

Contemporary art, starting in the latter part of the 20th century, is displayed on the fifth floor. At present an exhibit entitled “Kollektsia” includes 250 works from the USSR and the new Russia from 1950-2000, donated by the Vladimir Potanin Foundation.  Fascinating videos bring back the world of the 1960s in the Soviet era.

One video shows Nikita Khrushchev in a heated discussion about modern art with the public at the Manege. Another video shows  the government’s bulldozers  destroying the open-air exhibit hurriedly organized by the dissident Russian painters.

The Centre Pompidou, as an institution offering cultural activities at all levels, includes two special departments.  One is IRCAM (Institute for Research and Coordination of Acoustics and Music.)  Founded by composer Pierre Boulez, it is a research center, using advanced technology working on ways to visualize music.  On the other hand, the Public Information Library or BPI is an enormous facility with resources in a multiplicity of media.  It is open to all and offers wonderfully convenient free access to its shelves.

The production of the Centre Pompidou, during the past 40 years, has included major retrospectives establishing links between artistic capitals such as “Paris-Moscow” or “Paris-New York,” hundreds of monograph exhibits or surprising sights such as the grand piano of German artist Beuys made of felt hanging from the ceiling.

The $64,000 question is, will the Centre Pompidou be able to sustain this feverish pace or will it ultimately run out of steam?  There is no question that the curators are fully committed to ensuring that this latter scenario does not happen.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole LoganAbout 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.

Share

Nancy Ballek Mackinnon Presents ‘What’s New? Trends in the Gardening World’ Tonight at Essex Library

Nancy Ballek Mackinnon

ESSEX — ‘Edible, Native, & Sustainable’ are the three themes that keep recurring in the 2017 gardening narrative. On Thursday, March 16at 7 p.m. at the Essex Library, Nancy will discuss these and other trends in garden design and horticulture. Explore new and old varieties for beautiful and productive gardens. This event is co-sponsored with the Essex Garden Club.

Nancy Ballek Mackinnon is a partner in Ballek’s Garden Center in East Haddam, Conn., located on a farm that has been in the family since 1662. Her first three credits in horticulture were earned on a trip to Scandinavia in 1974, with her mother Anita, learning innovative methods at nurseries and municipal gardens. She received a degree in environmental horticulture and landscape design from the University of Connecticut graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1978, and joined Ballek’s Garden Center soon after.

The family’s eclectic and wide-ranging horticultural interests are reflected in her selection of products for sale, everything from garden statuary to thousands of species of annuals and perennials.

Ballek Mackinnon is the author of the “The Gardener’s Book of Charts, Tables & Lists: A Complete Gardening Guide” created to make it easier for horticulturists to select the right plant for the right place.

This program is free and open to the public. For more information or to register, please call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

Share

‘The Maccabeats’ to Perform in Chester at CBSRZ, Sunday

The Maccabeats, who will be performing at CBSRZ, March

CHESTER — The Maccabeats, a singing group that set a record for a video going viral (more than 10 million hits in eight days), and that performed for President Barack Obama in the East Room and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion, will bring their unique brand of harmony, humor, and musical inventiveness to Chester on Sunday, March 19, at 5 p.m., at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek.

David Zeleznik, producer of the synagogue’s Music & More series, says, “The Maccabeats are an a cappella group from the heart of Brooklyn that started at Yeshiva University with incredibly hunky young men, terrific voices, and a good dose of humor that is the closest thing to a Jewish youth sensation these days. And adults should not feel left out, these guys are just plain fun and joyous.” See video of The Maccabeats at https://www.youtube.com/user/MaccabeatsVideos.

The group, with its name inspired by the Maccabeats, heroes of the Chanukah story, became literally an overnight sensation during the holiday season in 2010.  It used a tune by Taio Cruz, “Dynamite,” and turned it into “Candlelight,” a playful Chanukah celebration — “I flip my latkes in the air sometimes, saying ‘ay-oh,’ spin the dreidel” — that it went viral so fast that it soon became number one on the Billboard Comedy Digital Track Charts.

The Maccabeats have followed up with a variety of songs and albums that have reinvented Jewish music, and have been cheered by audiences on five continents. Recently, the group released another video, this one reinterpreting the smash Broadway hit “Hamilton” as a Jewish story.  https://youtu.be/u3UubcYj49k

A sell-out crowd is expected so advance ticket purchase is highly recommended. Advance general admission tickets are $35 for adults (or $40 at door, pending availability) and free admission for children 16 and under.  As always at Music & More concerts, ticket price includes an after-concert reception and an opportunity to meet the band.

For tickets and more information, see www.cbsrz.org, or call the synagogue office at (860) 526-8920.

Share

Inter-Religious Clergy of CT River Valley Host Three-Part Interfaith Dinner Reception; Third Event to be Held in Chester, May 15

AREAWIDE — An Inter-Religious Clergy Alliance of CT is organizing an unifying three-part Interfaith Dinner Reception and Scripture study of spiritually awakening proportions free and open to all ages and backgrounds. Amid rising divisiveness, multiple religious communities, including Jewish, Christian, and Islamic, of CT River Valley are uniting on an educational platform to celebrate the affinities shared between their sacred traditions and counter the rise of injustice through peace-loving action.

The progressive gatherings will feature timely topics and interactive workshops advancing fellowship and solidarity betwixt diversity followed by engaging Q & A sessions. The enlightening programs will foster unique opportunities for attendees to work together in building bridges instead of walls and serve as a workable model for the larger community. Complimentary dinners will be served.

The first of these events entitled “Peacebuilding and Justice” was held at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek located at 55 E Kings Highway, Chester, CT 06412 on Monday, March 20.

The second of these events entitled “Responsibility to Our Fellow Human Beings” will be held at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community CT Baitul Aman House of Peace Mosque located at 410 Main St, Meriden, CT 06451 on Monday, April 24, at 6 p.m.

The third of these events entitled “Prayer and Spiritual Practices” will be held at the United Church of Chester located on 29 W Main St, Chester, CT 06412 on Monday, May 15, at 6 p.m.

These events are co-hosted also in collaboration with First Baptist Church in Essex, First Church of Christ, Congregational in East Haddam, and Trinity Lutheran Church in Centerbrook.

Share

Essex Library Hosts Speaker Celebrating 300 Years of Connecticut’s Remarkable Women, May 15

ESSEX — Kathryn Gloor, Executive Director of the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame will present “Celebrating 300 Years of Connecticut’s Remarkable Women” at the Essex Library on Monday, May 15, at 7 p.m.  Gloor will present an interactive multi-media program about some of our state’s most remarkable women.

Be inspired as you learn about well-known figures like Ella Grasso, Katharine Hepburn and Marian Anderson and lesser known heroines like Maria Sanchez, Barbara McClintock and Hannah Watson. This presentation will introduce you to the Hall, its mission and programs, and give you a panoramic view of some of its 115 Inductees from across all fields of endeavor, from politics and sports to the arts and sciences.

The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame is an educational outreach organization whose mission is to honor publicly the achievement of Connecticut women, preserve their stories, educate the public and inspire the continued achievements of women and girls.

Gloor has spent more than 15 years raising awareness and support for the causes she loves, including education, women’s rights, and cultural organizations. Most recently she served as Director of Development at Westport Country Playhouse. She has also held leadership positions at Planned Parenthood, Mercy Learning Center, and Oberlin College, among others, and has been a presenter at professional conferences and meetings on topics such as securing major gifts, organizing for success, and leveraging board relationships.

Share

RiverQuest Offers Osprey/Eagle Cruises on Connecticut River From Haddam

An osprey on its nest is an imposing sight.

Late March into early April is when the Osprey returns to Connecticut from its southern wintering grounds. It is a wonderful sign that spring is finally here.

The Osprey is a large bird of prey with a 4’6” to 6’ wingspan that eats only fish, hence, it is sometimes referred to as the Fish Hawk. Ospreys migrate south for the winter months to areas where their food supply will not be affected by frozen rivers and lakes. They settle down in the southern US, Central America, South America, and have been seen as far south as Argentina. Ospreys of breeding age are returning north now, to start a new nest or to re-establish a nest they may have used in previous years.

There are many Osprey nests along the lower Connecticut River, from the mouth of the river in Old Lyme/Old Saybrook up river as far north as Middletown. There will be activity on the many man-made nesting platforms at the Roger Tory Peterson Preserve in Old Lyme and on other platforms located along the Connecticut River, in “natural” tree settings and on the top of each of the large navigation aids that mark the river channel.

A great way to see this nesting activity is by boat.

RiverQuest, an eco-tour vessel located at Eagle Landing State Park in the Tylerville section of Haddam is offering several cruises to the general public throughout the month of April to view and learn about the Osprey and other wildlife that may be spotted, including hawks and another famous raptor, the Bald Eagle.

After disappearing from Connecticut in 1948, the Bald Eagle has made a return and there are several active eagle nests on the river. Two of these nests will be visible from RiverQuest and we will most likely see one or more of our resident Bald Eagles.

Other areas of interest that will be seen on our cruise include the Goodspeed Opera House, Gillette Castle and the Chester/Hadlyme Ferry. The cruises are approximately 2.5 hours in length and cost $40 per passenger (no children under 10-years-old.) There are binoculars on board for loan during the cruise and complimentary coffee and tea. To learn more about these informative cruises and to reserve your spot with our easy on-line booking, please visit: ctriverquest.com or call the RiverQuest  phone: 860-662-0577.

Osprey/Eagle Cruise Dates:

Saturday, April 1: 1:30pm

Saturday, April 8: 10:00am

Saturday, April 15: 4:00pm

Thursday, April 20: 1:30pm

Sunday, April 23: 1:30pm

Saturday, April 29: 4:00pm

Share

Winter Storm Stella

First snow plow of the day … there surely will be many more.

Winter Storm Stella is here.

The Governor has declared a State of Emergency meaning a statewide travel ban is in effect. Region 4 Schools, Essex, Chester and Deep River Schools, Town Halls and Libraries, and many businesses from the size of Pfizer, Inc. downwards are closed.  Events galore have been cancelled and a parking ban is in effect on all town roads in Essex from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. today.

In the event of a real emergency, call 911.  

State and local officials urge residents to stay off the roads during the storm … and stay safe.

Latest weather reports, however, predict Southeastern Connecticut will not now experience the brunt of the storm with the snow turning first to sleet and then rain later this morning.

Share

Kuslan Presents ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ Program, Followed by Performance at ‘the Kate’ in HD by The Met, May 13

Opera devotee and popular lecturer on operatic topics, James Kuslan, will present an informative program on Richard Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier” at the Acton Public Library, 60 Old Boston Post Rd. in Old Saybrook on Saturday, May 13, at 10:30 a.m. This event is sponsored by the Guild of Salt Marsh Opera and the Acton Public Library.

Kuslan is a graduate of Yale University’s School of Drama and has been a voice scout in the United States for the German classical recording giant, Deutsche Grammophon.

“Der Rosenkavalier” is set in Vienna of the past, and regarded as Strauss’s most popular and grandest opera concerns a wise woman of the world who is involved with a much younger lover. It combines comedy, fantasy, and drama. This program is free, open to the public, and handicapped accessible.

The Met in HD at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center features a simulcast of “Der Rosenkavalier” starring Renee Fleming, on May 13, starting at 12:30 p.m.

Share

Ivoryton Library Hosts Immigration Exhibition This Afternoon

This photo shows a Comstock, Cheney & Co. recruiter with newly arrived immigrants at Ellis Island c. 1890.

IVORYTON — The Ivoryton Library presents Immigration: A Tiny Town’s Bonanza on Sunday, March 12, from 3 to 5 p.m. This is the latest exhibit in the series An Intimate History of Ivoryton and will showcase the growth of our village on the strength of the immigrants who came to work at Comstock, Cheney and Co. between 1890 and 1915.

Photographs and other materials will be on display.

Have you been interested in looking into your own background? There will be ongoing demonstrations of ancestry.com and an opportunity to ask questions about the service.

Is your family a part of Ivoryton’s story? Come and share your memories. If you have photographs or other memorabilia that you would like to include in this exhibit as either a donation or a loan, contact Elizabeth Alvord at the library at 860-767-1252 or by email at ealvord@ivoryton.com.

The Ivoryton Library is located at 106 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Share

Musical Masterworks Mixes Mozart Originals with 20th Century Adaptations

Edward Aaron and Jeewon Park

Musical Masterworks favorites Jeewon Park, Tessa Lark and Dimitri Murrath join Edward Arron in a performance of Mozart’s piano quartets this afternoon at 3 p.m. in the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

Before each quartet, a late twentieth century work by a Soviet era composer will be performed

The concert opens with Mozart’s String Trio fragment in G Major, K. 562e, Anh. 66, followed by Arvo Pärt’s haunting Mozart-Adagio for Piano Trio (1992/1997), arranged from the slow movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata, K.280.

This precedes Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G minor, K. 478.

Then Alfred Schnittke’s humorous salute to Mozart in Moz-Art à la Haydn for Violin and Viola (1977) is the prelude to Mozart’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 493.

For more informatiion and to purchase tickets, visit http://musicalmasterworks.org/concerts/march-11-12-2017/

Share

See a ‘Lincoln Center Local’ Screening of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ Ballet at Essex Library Today

Maria Kochetkova in Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet. (© Erik Tomasson)

ESSEX — On Saturday, March 11, at 1:30 p.m. the Essex Library will host the Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance screening of San Francisco Ballet: Romeo & Juliet recorded at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco on May 7, 2015.

With its passionate choreography, spine-tingling swordsmanship, and celebrated score by Sergei Prokofiev, this colorful and emotional retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet has packed houses around the world. Helgi Tomasson’s bravura interpretation of the Bard’s greatest tragedy “lifts Shakespeare’s complex and familiar language off the gilded pages and translates it into lucid classical choreography that is visceral, fresh, and ultimately sublime.” (Huffington Post.)

This Lincoln Center Local screening program is generously funded through the support from the Oak Foundation and The Altman Foundation.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information or to register, call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex.

Share

Batman Flies In to Acton Library This Morning to Host a Meet & Greet Story Time

OLD SAYBROOK — Batman is coming to the Acton Public Library Saturday, March 11 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m! Join the Children’s Library for a free interactive story, glitter tattoos, photo-ops, and games with Batman.

Light refreshments provided.

Best for children ages 3- to 10-years-old.

Register online or call 860-395-3184.

This program is sponsored by Friends of Acton Library.

Share

Join the ‘Common Good Gardens’ to Discover the Benefits of Volunteering; Orientation Meeting Today

OLD SAYBROOK — Each year, the Common Good Gardens in Old Saybrook raise nearly four tons of fresh vegetables and fruit, and then then donates them to the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries  And they do it entirely with volunteers – volunteers who have kept it going and improved it for 15 years.

You’re probably thinking, “How unselfish … doing all that work to benefit other people,” and they are for sure.  But, according to new research, volunteers are also on the receiving end of some amazing benefits; and most likely, they don’t even know it.  They just know that they feel better when they leave the garden.

Never too young … all ages can volunteer at the Common Good Garden.

Solid data on the benefits of volunteering has appeared in a variety of current publications, ranging from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health Letters, to a review from the Corporation for National & Community Service, which states,

On average, volunteering 40 to 100 hours per year increases personal satisfaction and happiness, decreases depression, improves functional capacity; and results in fewer illnesses and a longer life span.

Similar articles from the Huffington Post, Atlantic Monthly as well as research released by Johns Hopkins, The London School of Economics and University of Exeter Medical School have all told a similar story.

Greatest Gains for Seniors

Volunteering has health benefits — especially for seniors!

While there are potential gains to be had for high-schoolers and middle-aged persons, the greatest gains related to volunteering are for those 65 and older.  Some researchers suggest this greater gain for seniors may be because they start out lower before volunteering. Their health may not be as good as that of younger people or they may have lower self-esteem and more social isolation due to retirement.  Even if that proves true, starting to volunteer at an earlier adult stage seems to correlate with fewer health issues later in life.

Regarding functional capacity, the Hopkins study showed improved brain function associated with activities that get you moving and thinking at the same time.  As for happiness, though some of the happiness data is based on self-reporting alone, other data show hormone levels and brain scan activity consistent with physiologic changes associated with happiness.

Studies in UK

In addition to the improvements shown above, a large review of nearly 25,000 articles in the UK notes increased coping ability, better parenting skills and richer personal relationships.

Impact on Chronic Illness and Longevity

Several studies examined in particular the impact for those with chronic illness. They found that these volunteers reported decreased pain and depression. People with a prior heart attack also had lower incidences of depression after volunteering.

A United Health Group survey showed these striking figures:

  • 25% reported volunteering helped them live better with chronic illness
  • 76% reported feeling healthier
  • 78% reported lowered stress levels
  • 94% reported improved mood
  • 96% reported an enriched sense of purpose

Finally U.S. census data confirms that those states with high volunteer rates show greater longevity and lower rates of heart disease.

Come Join the Common Good Gardens

There’s always room for an extra pair of hands …

Come join us at the Common Good Gardens.  Whatever your age, level of health, or skill set, there’s a way for you to contribute while benefiting from volunteering.

Yes, gardeners are needed to plant, weed and harvest, and beginners are always welcome. But also needed are people with computer skills, carpentry skills, writing and speaking skills;   people who can drive a car to deliver produce; leaders to organize small groups and work with public schools; people who love nature or are excited about nutrition, and folk who want to help experiment with natural ways to deter pests or make soil richer.

Common Good Gardens by the numbers

  • 14: Number of years garden has been in existence (2002-2016)
  • July 7, 2011: Date the garden incorporated and received non-profit 501(c)3  status
  • 10: Number of Board members
  • 220,000: Total pounds of produce grown, collected and delivered 2004-2016 through garden volunteer efforts
  • 50: Number of core active volunteers (gardeners, drivers, other)
  • 3,000: Number of volunteer hours donated annually
  • 1/2 acre: Size of garden located at rear of Grace Episcopal Church, 336 Main Street, Old Saybrook
  • 22: Number of different varieties of fruits and vegetablesgrown at the garden during 2016
  • 6,900: Pounds of produce grown at the garden in 2016 season
  • $17,200: Dollar value of produce grown at the garden in 2016 season
  • 7: Number of farm stands that donate excess produce to garden for distribution to pantries in 2013.

Many hands make light work at the Common Good Gardens.

Current volunteers at the Common Good Gardens encourage you to get involved so that together, a healthy future for the garden, ourselves, and our shoreline community can be created.

If interested, contact Common Good Gardens at PO Box 1224, Old Saybrook, CT 06475 or call Barbara Standke at 860-575-8645 with questions, or to sign up for the annual new volunteer orientation on March 11.

Editor’s Note: The authors of this piece, Kate Wessling and Barbara Standke, are respectively Common Good Gardens President and Common Good Gardens Volunteer Coordinator.

Share

Middlesex Hospital to Present Future Plans for Vacant Essex Hospital Site at Wednesday’s BOS Meeting

The site on Plains Rd. in Essex where the former Shoreline Medical Center was located.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.


ESSEX —
Middlesex Hospital, which owns the currently vacant buildings and site on Westbrook Rd. in Essex where its Shoreline Medical Center was previously located, will present future plans for the site at the Essex Board of Selectmen’s meeting scheduled to be held March 15, at Essex Town Hall. The meeting will be begin at 7 p.m., and is open to the public.

David Giuffrida, PE, Vice President of Operations at Middlesex Hospital and Laura Martino, Vice President of Marketing, Development & Community Programs at Middlesex Hospital, have requested an opportunity to present the hospital’s future plans for the site at the meeting, notes Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman.
The original Shoreline Medical Center on Westbrook Rd. in Essex was closed when the hospital opened the new Shoreline Medical Center on Flat Rock Place in Westbrook in 2014.
Share

Letter to the Editor: Old Saybrook Town Officials Says First Priority is Re-Employment of Fortune Plastics Employees

To the Editor:

The announcement by Fortune Plastics of their intended closure in April has left the Old Saybrook and Shoreline Community concerned and disappointed.  Our concern is first and foremost for the over 90 employees of the company who will be losing their employment.  It is also disheartening to see what was once a locally-owned family business leave the State.

Upon hearing the news, our offices began marshaling state and regional resources to work with the company in finding new employment for the workers.  Within a week, the Connecticut Department of Labor Rapid Response Unit organized a Job Fair at Fortune Plastics on March 4.  We also contacted local and regional manufacturers, many with positions to fill.  We will continue to partner with Fortune Plastics to make available any and all human resources in the coming months. 

Fortune Plastic’s 75,000 sf manufacturing facility will also be available for repurpose.  The Town and the Economic Development Commission plan to market the availability of this and other industrial properties so they will be put to back into full and productive use. 

While this is indeed difficult news for all affected employees and the Town, we will continue to be a town that seeks out new business opportunities to benefit workers and residents.

Carl P. Fortuna, Jr. and Susie Beckman
Old Saybrook.

Editor’s Note:  The writers are respectively the First Selectman of Town of Old Saybrook and the
Economic Development Director of the Town of Old Saybrook.

Share

Town of Old Saybrook Hosts Second Public Meeting Tonight on Mariner’s Way Discovery + Action Plan

OLD SAYBROOK — The Town of Old Saybrook is working on a “Brownfields Area-Wide Revitalization (BAR) Plan” for Mariner’s Way (Rte. 1 East between Saybrook Junction’s Town Center and Ferry Point’s Marina District) that builds on the Town’s 2014 Mariner’s Way Plan. This effort, the Mariner’s Way Discovery + Action Plan, will identify ways to support a new identity for Mariner’s Way and create action steps to revitalize the area and better connect this corridor from Town Center to the Connecticut River.

There will be a second public meeting on Thursday, March 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Hunter Ambulance, 309 Boston Post Rd., at which CivicMoxie, the Town’s consultants, will share and discuss preliminary ideas for streetscape, pedestrian/bicycle connections, and land use concepts.

Come and be a part of the conversation to help make this part of Mariner’s Way a more appealing place to live, work, shop, and play.

For future news and notifications of meetings, Sign Up for Mariner’s Way updates: www.oldsaybrookct.org/Pages/OldSaybrookCT_EconomicDev/index.

Questions can be directed to: Susan Beckman, Economic Development Director: susan.beckman@oldsaybrookct.gov or (860) 395-3139.

Share

Operation Fuel Turns 40: Energy Assistance Program Says One Dollar Can Make a Difference

Operation Fuel has helped almost 150,000 vulnerable households with over $46 million in energy assistance since the nonprofit program began in 1977.

As Operation Fuel observes its 40th anniversary of providing energy assistance, it is asking Connecticut residents to consider making a donation through its Add-a-Dollar program.

“The Add-a-Dollar program is a great way to donate to Operation Fuel. It is one of several ways that we raise funds to provide energy assistance. When you add just one dollar to your monthly utility bill, it can help to make a difference for families and individuals who are struggling to keep their heat and electricity on,” explains Operation Fuel’s Executive Director Karen Adamson.

Utility customers can add a dollar when they pay their utility bill by check or online. Utility customers who wish to donate more than one dollar or who want to contribute automatically each month to Operation Fuel should contact their utility company.

The Add-a-Dollar program has raised more than $17.5 million to provide energy assistance to over 41,000 Connecticut households since Operation Fuel started the program in late 1983. Operation Fuel uses 100 percent of the donations made to the Add-a-Dollar program for energy assistance.

Connecticut gas and electric utilities, which serve more than 75,000 customers, participate in Operation Fuel’s Add-a-Dollar program.  Some of these utility companies also have a shareholder-matching program that adds additional funds to the money raised through the Add-a-Dollar program.

This past fiscal year, Operation Fuel raised $601,870 through the Add-a-Dollar program; $476,133 from utility customers’ donations and $125,737 in utility provided shareholder-matching funds.

In addition to the Add-a-Dollar program, donations for Operation Fuel can be made online at www.operationfuel.org or mailed to Operation Fuel, 75 Charter Oak Avenue, Suite 2-240, Hartford, CT 06106.

Operation Fuel is a private, nonprofit program that provides emergency energy assistance year-round through its statewide network of 106 fuel banks to lower-income working families and individuals, the elderly, and disabled individuals who are in financial crisis.  Individuals who need energy assistance should call 211.

Share

Community Music School, Essex Winter Series Present Strings Master Class with Argus Quartet, May 8

The Argus Quartet will give a Masterclass at the Centerbrook Meeting Housel, May 8.

CENTERBROOK – Community Music School and Essex Winter Series present a master class with the Argus Quartet, May 8, at 4 p.m. at the Centerbrook Meeting House, 51 Main St. in Centerbrook. The string quartet will offer advice on technique and performance for student musicians who will each play during the class. The master class is free and open to the public.

The Argus Quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 and is receiving invitations from concert series throughout the United States and abroad. Recent performances include appearances at Carnegie Hall, Laguna Beach Live!, the Hear Now Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, the Birdfoot Festival, and the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam.

This season also includes performances with the Brentano Quartet and clarinetist David Shifrin at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Oneppo Chamber Series, and Carnegie Hall. The Argus Quartet will serve as the Ernst Stiefel Quartet in Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts during the 2016-17 season.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 34 year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity, and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.  Learn more at visit www.community-music-school.org or call (860)767-0026.

As part of its robust outreach program, Essex Winter Series brings highly accomplished young artists to public schools, senior residences, and community organizations in several Shoreline communities each year. This year’s outreach program expands to two cities, five towns, eight schools, three senior residences, and two community service organizations over the course of just three days, from May 8 through 10. These outreach programs are sponsored by the EWS’ Fenton Brown Circle, Community Music School, and in part by a grant from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County/River View Cemetery Fund.

For additional information or to register, visit www.community-music-school.org/argus or call CMS at 860-767-0026.

Share

All Welcome to Enjoy ‘Bagels & Bagels’ at Chester Synagogue, May 7

Meteorologist Sam Kantrow demonstrates the art of making bagels at CBSRZ synagogue, Sunday, May 7.

CHESTER — No need to worry about the weather for Sunday, May 7. We already have the Forecast: Great Bagels! All you’ll need to do is come to Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) in Chester at 11:30 a.m. that morning for Bagels & Bagels with Sam Kantrow. Our favorite local weatherman from Channel 8 will be introducing us to the secrets of making great bagels. This very special event is open to the public.

Kantrow will begin with a bagel-making demonstration, then allow us all to try our hands at adding our own special touches (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion, garlic, salt) to a bagel that will then be popped in the oven for the final stage of bagel making. While they all bake, attendees will be able to indulge themselves on already finished bagels with all the trimmings –lox, whitefish salad, you name it. At the end of the session, each person will leave with a freshly-baked bagel to show off (or eat).

The fee for the event is $20. Those interested in delving even deeper into the mysteries of bagel making can avail themselves of the Sous Chef opportunity with a donation of $36. These individuals can join Kantrow in the kitchen and learn the bagel baking business from beginning to end. This opportunity is limited to 18 people because of the size of the kitchen.

Space will be filling up quickly so make your reservation soon by visiting www.cbsrz.org  or call the CBSRZ office at 860-526-8920. Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East King Highway, Chester, Connecticut.

Share

‘Save the Monarchs!’ Learn How to Plant a Butterfly Habitat Garden, Monday

Nancy DuBrule-Clemente

ESSEX — The Essex Garden Club and the Essex Land Trust are sponsoring an Open Program titled “Save the Monarch!” on Monday, March 6, at 2 p.m. at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 14 Prospect Street, Essex.  Come and learn about their fascinating life cycle and what you can do to encourage their continued survival by planting butterfly habitat gardens.

The presentation will be by Nancy DuBrule-Clemente of Natureworks Horticultural Services, an organic garden center and landscape service. Nancy and her crew have become Monarch experts.

DuBrule-Clemente is the owner of Natureworks Horticultural Services, an organic garden center, landscape design, consultation, installation and maintenance service in Northford, CT.

Started in 1983, the Natureworks crews and retail store have sold and used only organic fertilizers and pest control products since the business began.  Education is the primary focus of Natureworks. Emails, handouts, website, social media posts and web videos, articles for local newspapers and magazines, talks to groups and radio interviews all combine to spread the word about organic and sustainable practices.

DuBrule-Clemente graduated from the Ratcliffe Hicks School of the University of Connecticut with a degree in Floriculture. She is the coauthor (with Marny Smith) of A Country Garden for your Backyard, published by Rodale Press in 1995. She is the author of Succession of Bloom in the Perennial Garden, self-published in 2004, is a former board member and past president of NOFA/CT and is currently on the board of the CT Nurserymen’s Foundation.

Share

Letter From Paris: Another Presidential Race, But French-Style This Time, Filled With Pride, Passion, Power, Intrigue

Nicole Prévost Logan

The presidential campaign in France is undergoing a series of twists and turns, often spectacular, sometimes violent.  Traditional politics are going through a crisis and may come out rejuvenated from the turmoil.  The rest of Europe is watching the developments with anxiety because its future is at stake.

By the end of February, five candidates were still in the race: François Fillon, winner of the right wing primary and candidate of Les Republicains or LR (The Republicans), Benoit Hamon, who won the Socialist primary, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, gauche de la gauche (far left), Marine Le Pen, president of the ultra right wing Front National (National Front) and Emmanuel Macron, independent, and head of the party he named, En Marche! (Let’s go!)

And then there were five … from left to right, the candidates still running in the French Presidential election are Jean-Luc Melenchon, Benoît Hamon, Emmanuel Macron, François Fillon and Marine Le Pen.

“Penelopegate” has been covered with glee by the media around the world.  It all started with the suspicion that François Fillon had been paying his British wife Penelope for fictitious jobs as his ’employee’ for more than two decades.  Until the three independent investigating judges have determined whether she did work or not, Fillon is presumed innocent.  But whatever they find, the damage has been done to the candidate, who had run on the ticket of a man of integrity.

Actually Fillon is not entirely to blame, he is just a product of the system. The main problem in France is the opaque system of generous perks granted the legislators.  A deputy receives about 13,000 euros monthly (base salary and allowances) and an “envlop”of 9,100 euros to pay for a maximum of five assistants parlementaires (parliamentary assistants).  The British receive twice as much and the Germans 130 percent more.  Members of the US Congress receive 10 times that amount and are allowed a staff of 18 people.  By hiring his wife and two children,  Fillon was using the privilege of nepotism to the hilt, which is increasingly unacceptable to public opinion.

He appeared even more blatantly as a member of a privileged caste when answering questions on the media. His defense strategy went through several stages.  At first he appeared arrogant, bristling at any questioning of his entitlement and of his wife’s right to work (with the tax-payer’s money).  Second stage: “I offer my apologies but I have done nothing wrong.” Third : “I am the victim of a conspiracy intended to destabilize my campaign ” . Fourth: “only Bercy (where the ministry of finances is located) can be the source of all the accusations.” His last resort was to ask his lawyers to discredit the financial prosecutor as not being competent to handle the case.

Marine Le Pen is in more trouble with justice than Fillon and has a number of pending lawsuits against her. She is clever enough to uses this situation to reinforce the admiration of her unshakable supporters.  She is being sued for using the European parliament’s budget to pay her assistants parlementaires who should be working in Strasbourg, not in Paris.   Her other cases include fraud linked to misappropriations of funds during electoral campaigns.

In a recent three-hour-long TV talk show, she displayed her skills as a sharp, articulate and smooth speaker.  Answering questions fired at her from all sides.  Winning arguments was no problem for her.  It is hard to understand how she manages to appeal so easily to people with her populist ideas while omitting to point out the financial and economic disastrous consequences her program would have for France.

The conditions were now favorable – the right and far right candidates being embroiled with justice, a divided socialist party not likely for the first time since 1974 to reach the final ballots – for Emmanuel Macron to continue his meteoric ascent.  And he is using that open road with passion.  On Feb. 22, he accepted with enthusiasm the offer of a coalition from the president of the centrist MoDem (democratic movement).  This was a perfect fit between François Bayrou, a politically-wise older man, and Macron, a 39-year-old, brilliant, highly educated, former minister of  finances and economy, although never elected.  Bayrou declared, “My priority will be to guarantee the moralization of French politics,” a promise which could not be more topical.

Macron’s style is very different from the  other French politicians.  He smiles a lot and is warm and friendly.  The project he just laid out is not harsh and does not sound like a punishment. For a man as young as he is, what he proposes is surprisingly down to earth and realistic.  His priority is to modernize the system, simplify the  regulations, and decentralize the decision process.  He introduces many innovating measures, which may go against the entrenched privileges of some French.

He is counting on the suppression of 120,000 posts of civil servants to reach his goal of a 60 billions economy.  Nothing like the choc therapy proposed by Fillon to eliminate 500,000 posts.

As a good economist, he has two sound proposals: one is to lower corporate taxes from 33.3 percent to 25 percent to be in sync  with the average European rates.  Another proposal  makes a great deal of sense: stop penalizing people for making investments.  By lowering high taxes on their capital, the French may stop hiding their savings under their mattresses.

To tackle the endemic French unemployment, he intends to make sure that the allowances are linked to the efforts demonstrated by job seekers to find a job. 

Macron unveiled his project to an audience of 400 journalists on March 2.  The other candidates were very quick to pull his project to shreds.  Vicious messages circulated in the social networks trying to demolish him, particularly for having worked for the Rothschild bank. No French president has ever been able to carry out even a small portion of Macron’s proposed  reforms.  The fight will be ruthless.

Fillon’s situation is becoming more unsustainable by the hour.  An indictment is probable. A growing number of his team have jumped ship.  He is determined not to quit the race.  The name of Alain Juppe, who came second in the primary, is being mentioned as a substitute.

Only 50 more days until the first round of elections on April 23, and still no way out of the crisis — probably one of the worst France has ever lived through.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole LoganAbout 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.

Share