May 22, 2017

Deep River Congregational Church Seeks Vendors for Flea Market & Rummage Sale, Aug 19

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Congregational Church is starting preparations for its annual Flea Market and Rummage Sale, which will be held during the third weekend of August.   The Saturday, Aug. 19, Flea Market is held on Marvin Field and on the grounds around the church.

Spaces are 20 x 20 foot and available for $30; they can be reserved by contacting the church office for a reservation form and map at 860-526-5045 or office.drcc@snet.net or forms can be downloaded from the church web site at www.deeprivercc.org

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Free Lecture on Global Warming Scheduled at Chester Village West Tonight

CHESTER — Chester Village West, an independent senior living community, launches its Spring Lifelong Learning Program with two free and open-to-the-public talks in April on topics ripped from today’s headlines. Chester Village West is located at 317 W. Main St., Chester, Conn. 06412.

On Monday, April 3, at 4 p.m., Wesleyan University Professor of Government and author John E. Finn, Ph.D. discussed Our Rights of Expression and Religion: Understanding the First Amendment.

Dr. Henry Auer

On Thursday, April 20, at 4 p.m., scientist and Global Warming Blog author Henry E. Auer, Ph.D. will present The Science of Global Warming: Facts and Some Fallacies. Most climate scientists believe that our planet has been warming throughout the industrial period. ​Yet, some others dispute this notion. Dr. Auer will discuss the science of greenhouse warming and assess the extent to which humanity is responsible for it. He will also examine some counter arguments.

Refreshments will be served. Registration is required; seating is limited to 40 people per lecture on a first-come, first-served basis. To register for one or more programs, call 860.322.6455, email ChesterVillageWest@LCSnet.com or visit http://www.chestervillagewestlcs.com/lifestyle/calendar-of-events/.

Upcoming Lifelong Learning lectures at Chester Village West in May and June will include:

Tuesday May 9, 4 p.m.: Ella Grasso, Connecticut’s Pioneering Governor, by Jon Purmont, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus Southern Connecticut State University

Tuesday May 16, 4 p.m.: Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P.T. Barnum, and the Dawn of American Celebrity by Eric D. Lehman, Ph.D., Professor, University of Bridgeport

Wednesday June 7, 4 p.m.: Nearly everything you need to know about Middlesex Hospital’s Shoreline Medical Center and Shoreline Cancer Center by Middlesex Hospital Marketing VP Laura Martino and Middlesex Hospital Cancer Center Director Justin Drew

Thursday June 22, 4 p.m.: Tempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker by Author and Journalist Susan Campbell

Located in historic Chester, Connecticut, Chester Village West gives independent-minded people a new way to experience retirement and live their lives to the fullest. Since the community was founded more than 25 years ago, Chester Village West residents have directed and embraced active learning. Within a small community of private residences that offer convenience, companionship, service and security, Chester Village West enriches lives with a comprehensive program that enhances fitness, nutrition, active life, health and well-being. Find out more atchestervillagewestlcs.com; visit the community on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChesterVillageWest.

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Ivoryton Congregational Church Hosts Easter Sunrise, 10am Services; All Welcome

IVORYTON — All are invited to join the Ivoryton Congregational Church at 57 Main Street, Ivoryton, for their Easter Day services as follows:

Easter Sunday, April 16
7 a.m.
A brief Easter sunrise service at the pond behind the church.  This will be followed by an Easter Breakfast to which all are invited.

10 a.m.
Easter Celebration in the sanctuary of the church The story of Easter.  The scripture will be the Easter story in Matthew 28:1-10. The sermon will be “At Dawn.” All are welcome.

Call the church office at 860-767-1004 for more information.

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It’s ‘First Friday’ Tonight in Chester with $525 Give-Away, New Martini, New Art, New Jewelry & More

CHESTER — It’s First Friday again in Chester on April 7.  Most village shops and galleries will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. for this festive evening.

Visitors who come to Chester’s downtown between Friday, March 3 and Friday, April 7 have a chance at winning a March Madness shopping spree worth more than $500. This special promotion kicked off on First Friday in March and ends First Friday in April: shoppers, diners and gallery-goers can pick up a special “Chester” card at any business and each time they buy something, their card will be validated.

Once they’ve made purchases at seven different locations, their card is eligible for the drawing April 7 when the winner will receive $25 gift certificates from each of the eight restaurants and 13 merchants participating.

Every store, gallery and restaurant in town is on board, and the cards are available at each of them.

Suzie Woodward of ‘Lark’ prepares for ‘First Friday’ in Chester.

Completed cards should be turned in to The Perfect Pear at 51 Main Street no later than 5 p.m. April 7 for the grand-prize drawing at 6 p.m. Players can complete more than one card for entry. The winner need not be present to win.

These customers of “Strut Your Mutt” are ready for ‘First Friday.’

The participating restaurants are: The Good Elephant, Otto, Pattaconk 1850 Bar and Grille, River Tavern, Simon’s Marketplace, Thai Riverside, The Villager and The Wheatmarket.

The eligible retail shops and galleries are Black Kat Leather, Dina Varano, Elle Design Studio, The French Hen, Lark, Lori Warner Gallery and Swoon and Maple & Main Gallery, Also: The Perfect Pear, R.J Vickers Herbery, the Chester Bottle Shop, Strut Your Mutt, Matt Austin Studio and Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery.

Tonight, Leif Nilsson will be hosting an Opening Reception for his Watch Hill Paintings at his Spring Street Studio and Gallery, where his band Arrowhead will also be playing.

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Celebrate Beavers on International Beaver Day, Saturday

ESSEX — The Essex Conservation Commission is celebrating International Beaver Day on Saturday, April 8.  Rain date is April 9.

The Commission will be hosting tours of Quarry Pond at 6 a.m. (prior to sunrise) and 7 p.m. (prior to sunset).  Beavers are nocturnal animals that tend to sleep during the day.  The ability to see them is best at these times.

Quarry Pond in located in the Viney Hill Brook Park in Essex, CT.  Meet at the parking lot on the end of Cedar Grove Terrace prior to the start time of each tour.

Beavers are known as a Keystone species. A keystone species is a plant or animal that plays a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions. Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether. All species in an ecosystem, or habitat, rely on each other.

Come and visit to learn more about Beavers. Sign up by contacting EssexCelebratesBeavers@gmail.com.

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Children’s Classic That Still Rings True Today; See ‘The Hundred Dresses’ at Ivoryton, Saturday

IVORYTON – The Hundred Dresses remains as relevant for children today as it was when it was written in 1944. The timeless story by Connecticut author Eleanor Estes, about a young immigrant who gets bullied at school, comes to the stage at the Ivoryton Playhouse on Saturday, April 8, at 2 p.m.

Estes, a Newbery Medal-winning author who lived in West Haven, Conn., tells the story of Wanda Petronski, a second-grader from Poland. Wanda lives way up in a shabby house in Boggins Heights, and she doesn’t have any friends. Every day she wears a faded blue dress, but she tells her classmates that she has a hundred dresses at home — all silk, all colors, velvet, too.

The children at Franklin Elementary don’t know what to make of this peculiar new girl with the strange accent. Soon they make a game of teasing Wanda about her hundred dresses until one day she disappears from school, leaving just an empty seat where she once sat. As feelings of guilt overtake the children, they decide that they must find out what happened to Wanda and make amends for the way they treated her. But is it too late? And how is it that Wanda left behind 100 dresses?

Based on the beloved Newbery Honor Book by Estes, this acclaimed musical adaptation masterfully handles such topics as bullying, friendship and forgiveness. Packed with humor and filled with colorful characters and memorable songs such as “Bright Blue Day,” “Penny Paddywhack” and “Never Do Nothing,” The Hundred Dresses is a time-honored tale that explores the bonds of friendship, the willingness to be yourself and the courage that it takes to stand up to others — even when you’re standing alone.

The Ivoryton Playhouse production will be directed by Daniel Nischan. The cast includes Anna Fagan, Gina Salvatore, Amy Buckley, Erik Bloomquist, Michael Hotkowski, Amy Forbes, Olivia Welch and Jim Hile.

The Hundred Dresses is part of this year’s Ivoryton Playhouse education program for elementary schools, entitled Plays with Purpose. The program teaches social development lessons while exposing children to the art of live theater, many of them attending a live performance for the first time. This year, 1,500 students and teachers will attend with their schools throughout the week of April 3.

The one-time public performance will be held on Saturday, April 8, at 2 p.m., and is best for ages 12 and under. All tickets are $14 and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.)

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

 

Plays with Purpose is supported by The Bauman Family Foundation, the Essex Community Fund and The Community Foundation of Middlesex County’s Council of Business Partners Fund as part of its ongoing Campaign for Bully-Free Communities. It is sponsored by Katrina A. Wall, Essex Dentist.

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Potapaug Hosts “American Woodcock” Program This Evening

WESTBROOK — Potapaug Audubon presents “The American Woodcock” at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 2, at the Stewart B. McKiney National Wildlife Refuge, 733 Old Clinton Rd Westbrook with Patricia Laudano, Naturalist.  Both programs are identical.

A PowerPoint presentation precedes a walk on the grounds of refuge to witness the mating call and flight of this fascinating bird. Dress appropriately.

Call for more information: 860-399-2513.

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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..

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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 .

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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.

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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

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Leif Nilsson Hosts Eric Lichter & Kerri Powers at Next ‘Concert in the Garden,’ May 25

Eric Lichter and Kerri Powers will play at Spring Street Gallery, May 25.

CHESTER — Leif Nilsson hosts a Thursday evening ‘Concert in the Garden,’ May 25, from 7 to 9 p.m.,  featuring Eric Lichter and Kerri Powers at the Spring Street Studio and Gallery at 1 Spring St, Chester Center.

Chip McCabe of Lonesome Noise says of Powers that she, “… is something of an anomaly. She’s like the music scene’s version of the protagonist in the film, “The Natural,” having spent the “prime of her career” out of the spotlight — in her case, tending to her family — only to return from absolutely nowhere to wow and amaze. Where Robert Redford made all the fans sit up and cheer with mammoth home runs, Kerri Powers is going to make people listening to this album do the exact same thing with exceptional song writing and equally exceptional delivery

Red Line Roots of Boston says of Eric Michael Lichter  that he is, “A product of the Laurel Canyon sound popularized by CSN, Jackson Browne, Eagles, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Fleet Foxes, Jonathan Wilson, Father John Misty, etc, Eric Lichter’s music is perfectly out of time. With two records under his belt (Chorduroy and OWL respectively) he’s busy working on a follow up.”

Red Line Roots continue, “Writing, crafting, and performing great songs is one thing that a lot of folks struggle with. Doing that all while making other people’s songs sound amazing is an entirely different beast. A beast that Eric Lichter has mastered again and again and is displayed strongly in all of the recordings that come out of his studio, Dirt Floor Recording Studio in Connecticut. Eric is the type of musical talent that doesn’t come around too often. Extremely humble, yet insanely talented. This is the kind of guy you want to make music with and be best pals with. That’s why he is a Must Know Musician”

This monthly concert series highlights eclectic international singer/songwriter artists from cool jazz to blue grass.

Gates open half hour before the show — first come first seated. Seating is Bistro Style in the amphitheater. The concert will be moved indoors in the event of inclement weather.

A $20 donation is appreciated. The event is BYOB – pack a picnic and bring your own wine or beer or buy it across the street at the Chester Package Store.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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Festival of Women’s Plays Continues Tonight at Ivoryton Playhouse

IVORYTON:  The Ivoryton Playhouse announces the 2017 inaugural festival of the Women Playwrights Initiative –  Four One Acts by Four Fabulous Women Playwrights. Two evenings of staged readings will take place on Friday, March 3, and Saturday, March 4, at The Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT, followed by discussions with playwrights, actors and directors.

Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m.

There will be two readings presented:

Guenevere by Susan Cinoman. Teenagers, Guenevere and Arthur, are best friends–a fierce competitor, she always bests him in sword fights. What will be the outcome when confronted with Excalibur in the stone?

Apple Season by Ellen Lewis. To make arrangements for her father’s funeral, Lissie returns to the family farm she and her brother fled 26 years before. Billy, a neighbor and school friend, comes by with an offer to buy the farm. As memories, needs, and passions are stirred, we learn what happened to the siblings as children, and of Lissie’s startling price for the farm.

Saturday, March 4, at 7 p.m.

There will be a further two readings presented:

Buck Naked by Gloria Bond Clunie. Two daughters are thrown into a tizzy when they discover Lily, their 60-plus-year-old mother, has decided to spice up life by tending her back yard garden – “au naturel”!

Intake by Margo Lasher. An arrogant young psychiatrist meets an 80-year-old woman for what he assumes will be a routine examination. During the course of their relationship, he comes to realize how little he knows, and as she reveals her deep love and understanding of her two aging dogs, both doctor and patient learn about life, love, and hope.

Before the performance on Saturday at 5 p.m., the League of Professional Theatre Women will host a panel discussion with the playwrights, moderated by Shellen Lubin, followed by refreshments before the 7 p.m. readings.  If you would like to attend the pre-reading discussion, you must register by Feb. 26, at this link.

To purchase tickets for the Friday, March 3, or Saturday, March 4, readings – each starts at 7 p.m. – call 860.767.7318 or visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org

Tickets:  $20 adult each night; $15 senior each night; $10 student and LPTW members.

A special two-day pass (tickets for Friday and Saturday night performances for $30) is being offered.  Call the box office at 860.767.7318 to reserve your two-day pass.

The Ivoryton Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street, Ivoryton, CT  06442.

For more information about the Women Playwrights Initiative, contact Laura Copland, Director of New Play Development, at laurac@ivorytonplayhouse.org.

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Join a ‘Building Bridges for Justice Activism Teach-In’ Today in Hadlyme


AREAWIDE — It is said that “knowledge is power,” that facts matter, and that for all of us to be effective activists, we need to enhance our knowledge and build our skills.  Therefore, Together We Rise – Building Bridges for Justice, is hosting an Activism Teach-In on Saturday, March 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Hadlyme Public Hall.

Experts from across Connecticut will speak from their experience and speak on the following topics:

  • How to Talk to Your Legislator &  Make An Impact- Michele Mudrick
  • The Lives of Undocumented Kids in CT & How to Help- Edwin Colon
  • Demystifying the State Budget & Fight for Children- Derek Thomas
  • Intersectionality 101

Parking will be available on the street near the Hadlyme Public Hall.  No handicap access available.  An ALS interpreter will be present.

A lunch break is scheduled and it is suggested that participants bring a bagged lunch. Bagged lunches may be ordered from the following:  Two Wrasslin’ Cats at (860) 891-8446, Grist Mill Market at (860) 873-3663, and Higher Grounds at (860) 615-6112.  Place your order by March 3 and let these partnering businesses know that you will be attending the Activism Teach-In when you place your order. Coffee, tea, and water will be available during the Teach-In.

To register (space is limited) and for more information, visit: Together We Rise – Building Bridges for Justice at togetherwerisect.com

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Movie of the Moment? See ‘1984’, at Deep River Library This Afternoon; Free Admission

DEEP RIVER — See the topical and iconic film, 1984, based on the book of the same name by George Orwell at the Deep River Public Library on Saturday, March 4, at 2 p.m.

This classic dystopian film stars the late John Hurt’s character, Winston Smith as he attempts to resist against the bleak and loveless existence of the totalitarian state of Oceania. This groundbreaking work explores the consequences of a world where every thought is monitored and every human instinct is forbidden.

No registration is required. Running time for this film is 113 minutes.

For more information, visit http://deepriverlibrary.accountsupport.com and click on the library’s 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.

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Essex Meadows Named One of Best Retirement Homes in Nation by US News & World Report

ESSEX – Essex Meadows Health Center, part of the continuum of Essex Meadows Life Care Community, is celebrating an 8th consecutive year of being rated as one of the top health services and skilled nursing providers in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

Essex Meadows Health Center scored a 5-Star rating on all points of the survey, one of the most trusted in the country. Based on the scoring criteria, the center rated in the top 13 percent of skilled nursing and senior health care providers across the nation.

“We’re extremely humbled and honored by this distinction,” said associate executive director Kathleen Dess. “Our residents can go on knowing they live in one of the best retirement environments nationwide, and our team members can enjoy some well-deserved recognition for the work they do each day.”

The work Dess refers to has included Essex Meadows Health Center leading the way on an innovative program known as Reading 2 Connect, which has shown proven results in the area of helping those with various forms of dementia continue to enjoy a passion for reading.

Additionally, the community has been involved in programs like the Audubon’s Bird Tales, allowing them to make use of the nearly 1,000-acre preserve located nearby, and the Music and Memory program for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

“The 5-Star rating is really about getting things right for our residents in every aspect of quality living,” said Dess. “From providing unparalleled food quality in our dining room to the short-term rehab we offer, our team members are truly among the best in the field of senior living.”

The U.S. News and World Report ratings are based on information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Editor’s Note: Since 1988, Essex Meadows has provided a lifestyle of dignity, freedom, independence and security to older adults from Connecticut and beyond. A community offering full life care, Essex Meadows, located conveniently on the Connecticut River near the mouth of Long Island Sound, prides itself on a financially responsible and caring atmosphere. Essex Meadows is managed by Life Care Services®™, a leading provider in life care, retirement living. For more information on Essex Meadows, visit the community’s website or call 860-767-7201.

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Ivoryton Library Hosts Fundraising Trivia Night Tonight at Centerbrook Meetinghouse

IVORYTON — Clear your calendars for Saturday, March 4, for an exciting Trivia Night, a fundraiser for the Ivoryton Library. Hosted by the folks at What Trivia!, this is a fun show to be held at the historic Centerbrook Meetinghouse.

An ideal way to stay warm on a March winter night and be with your friends, make a couple of new friends, and get some mileage from your stock of trivia, this event is completely interactive. Are you a walking library of trivia? Do you have random pieces of knowledge that have lodged themselves in your brain, just waiting to be unearthed? This is your opportunity to make all that useless stuff you know work for you. There’s something for everyone: the artistic crowd, the creative media types, the scholarly, the sports minded, and the rest of you guys.

Teams are made up of four to eight people so sign up as soon as possible as a team, or even as a single. Answers aren’t blurted out, they’re written down and if you don’t know an answer, best scenario is to guess. Points are awarded, wagered and, perhaps, lost. Lots of very interesting prizes will be awarded.

There will a cash bar and light fare for $25 a head, ahead of time, and $30 at the door. The fun stuff starts at 7:00pm, see you there!

For more information, visit www.ivoryton.com or call the Ivoryton
Library at 860 767-1252.

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Nature, Landscape Photographer Speaks at CT Valley Camera Club Meeting, Monday

‘Chena River ice’ is an example of Paul Nguyen’s photography. He is the speaker at the next CVCC meeting on March 6.

The March 6 meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will feature a presentation by Paul Nguyen, a Fine Art Nature and Landscape Photographer from Hanson, Mass.  The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lymes’ Senior Center, 26 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme, CT.

This is how the photographer describes his presentation: “When the sun goes down, skilled photographers know the fun is just beginning. Long exposures in low light conditions reveal a whole new world of color, texture, and artistry previously hidden to the naked eye, and advances in sensor technology are making it easier to make great night images with every generation of camera.”

Join New England-based professional photographer Paul Nguyen to learn about the principles and camera settings behind several kinds of low light photography: Long exposures of landscapes at twilight; night images of the starry sky; and “star trail” exposures.”

To see more of Nguyen’s work, visit his website at: www.paulnguyenphoto.com

CVCC meeting dates, speakers / topics and other notices are published on the club’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CTValleyCameraClubPage/.

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Author Talk with Yale Professor Dr. Paul Freedman on ‘Ten Restaurants That Changed America,’ Monday

ESSEX — From Delmonico’s to Sylvia’s to Chez Panisse, a daring and original history of dining out in America as told through 10 legendary restaurants. Combining a historian’s rigor with a foodie ‘s palate, Ten Restaurants That Changed America reveals how the history of our restaurants reflects nothing less than the history of America itself.

Paul Freedman, the Chester D Tripp Professor of History at Yale University, will give an illustrated talk at the Essex Library on Monday, March 6, at 5 p.m.

Whether charting the rise of our love affair with Chinese food through San Francisco’s fabled The Mandarin, evoking the richness of Italian food through Mamma Leone’s, or chronicling the rise and fall of French haute cuisine through Henri Soulé’s Le Pavillon, food historian Paul Freedman uses each restaurant to tell a wider story of race and class, immigration and assimilation.

Dr. Paul Freedman

Freedman also treats us to a scintillating history of the then-revolutionary Schrafft’s, a chain of convivial lunch spots that catered to women, and that bygone favorite, Howard Johnson’s, which pioneered mid-century, on-the-road dining, only to be swept aside by McDonald’s.

Lavishly designed with more than 100 photographs and images, including original menus, Ten Restaurants That Changed America is a significant and highly entertaining social history. Copies of his book will be available for purchase and signing.

Professor Freedman specializes in medieval social history, the history of Catalonia, comparative studies of the peasantry, trade in luxury products, and the history of cuisine. Freedman earned his BA at the University of California at Santa Cruz and an MLS from the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He received a Ph.D. in History at Berkeley in 1978. His doctoral work focused on medieval Catalonia and how the bishop and canons interacted with the powerful and weak elements of lay society in Vic, north of Barcelona. Freedman taught for 18 years at Vanderbilt University before joining the Yale faculty in 1997.

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

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‘Kate’s Camp for Kids’ Presents ‘ARF!’, Rehearsals Begin March 15

AREAWIDE – The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Community Music School are partnering again under the umbrella of their performing arts summer camp, Kate’s Camp for Kids, to present a spring program and show entitled “ARF: A Canine Musical of Kindness, Courage and Calamity!”

This exciting program takes place at The Kate, 300 Main Street in Old Saybrook, and runs for six weekly sessions on Wednesday afternoons from 4 to 5 p.m. beginning March 15.  Launched in 2013, Kate’s Camp for Kids is a performing arts camp for children in grades K-5 incorporating music, dance, theater, and visual art.

Directed by Martha Herrle, a 15-year-member of the Community Music School faculty and certified Kindermusik educator, this year’s camp theme will be “ARF!”  Students will be acting out the personalities of their favorite canine characters from Doggie Town including General German Shepherd, the singing Dalmatians, and Rover the mutt. Featuring five original songs and easy-to-learn rhyming dialog, the program culminates in a lively performance for friends and family.

Tuition for this camp is $125 and scholarships are available for families with a financial need.

For additional information and to register, visit www.community-music-school.org or call 860-767-0026.

Community Music School offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 30 year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity and provide students with a thorough understanding of music so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives.

Learn more at visit www.community-music-school.org or call (860)767-0026.

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Update From Essex Tree Warden on Gypsy Moths 2017

Gypsy moth caterpillars – photo by Peter Trenchard, CAES

AREAWIDE — The 2016 report on the gypsy moth from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) indicates the extent of the 2016 gypsy moth outbreak.  The heaviest outbreaks were concentrated in 4 eastern counties: Middlesex, New London, Windham and Tolland Counties.  CAES has published both a map and an updated fact sheet on their website at this link.

Those areas that suffered extensive defoliation in 2016 should expect a large hatch of caterpillars in 2017.  The egg masses in these areas are numerous and widespread.

As the caterpillars age and move into the later instars, they will defoliate the trees and shrubs, particularly oak trees, but also apple, birch, poplar and willow.  However, if there is enough rain this spring (May-June), the E. maimaiga fungus may be activated and provide complete control of the caterpillars. If the NPV virus spreads throughout the caterpillar population, the caterpillars may be killed as they become crowded.

The visible egg masses can be removed from accessible locations, drowned in a container of soapy water and disposed of safely.

Augie Pampel, Essex Tree Warden,  advises residents to stay vigilant, remove eggs masses if possible  and contact  local arborists to discuss alternative treatments as caterpillars reappear.

Pampel is also available for questions/concerns at: augiepampel@att.net.

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Literacy Volunteers Offer Opportunity to Make your Book Donations Pay

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS), CT, Inc. in Westbrook is looking for donations of clean books that were loved and now need a new home.

If you have books with a copyright date of 2007 or newer that you have read, loved and now would like to see go to a good home, LVVS can offer that opportunity. Consider donating those adult or children’s hard- or soft-cover books and DVD’s or puzzles to Literacy Volunteers at 61 Goodspeed Drive, Westbrook during business hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. In return, you will receive a certificate for $5 off the purchase of any books in our inventory totaling $10.

You can feel good about your “friends” becoming a part of our family of books, games, puzzles and media items for sale to only the most discriminating buyers who want, like you, to help the cause of Literacy.

Anyone interested in more information regarding on this program, our upcoming events or any of our services is encouraged to call (860) 399-0280, visit www.vsliteracy.org or e-mail info@vsliteracy.org.

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Stonewell Farm Hosts Two-Day Workshop on Dry Stone Wall Building, April 29, 30

Andrew Pighill’s work includes outdoor kitchens, wine cellars, fire-pits, fireplaces and garden features that include follies and other whimsical structures in stone.

Andrew Pighill’s work includes outdoor kitchens, wine cellars, fire-pits, fireplaces and garden features that include follies and other whimsical structures in stone.

KILLINGWORTH — On April 29 and 30, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily,  Andrew Pighills, master stone mason, will teach a two-day, weekend long workshop on the art of dry stone wall building at Stonewell Farm in Killingworth, CT.

Participants will learn the basic principles of wall building, from establishing foundations, to the methods of dry laid (sometimes called dry-stacked) construction and ‘hearting’ the wall. This hands-on workshop will address not only the structure and principles behind wall building but also the aesthetic considerations of balance and proportion.

This workshop expresses Pighill’s  commitment to preserve New England’s heritage and promote and cultivate the dry stone wall building skills that will ensure the preservation of our vernacular landscape.

This workshop is open to participants, 18 years of age or older, of all levels of experience. Note the workshop is limited to 16 participants, and spaces fill up quickly.

You must pre-register to attend the workshop.  The price for the workshop is  $350 per person. Stonewell Farm is located at 39 Beckwith Rd., Killingworth CT 06419

If you have any questions or to register for the workshop, contact the Workshop Administrator Michelle Becker at 860-322-0060 or mb@mbeckerco.com

At the end of the day on Saturday you’ll be hungry, tired and ready for some rest and relaxation, so the wood-fired Stone pizza oven will be fired up and beer, wine and Pizza Rustica will be served.

About the instructor: 

 Born in Yorkshire, England, Andrew Pighills is an accomplished stone artisan, gardener and horticulturist. He received his formal horticulture training with The Royal Horticultural Society and has spent 40+ years creating gardens and building dry stone walls in his native England in and around the spectacular Yorkshire Dales and the English Lake District.

Today, Pighills is one of a small, but dedicated group of US-based, certified, professional members of The Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) of Great Britain. Having moved to the United States more than 10 years ago, he now continues this venerable craft here in the US, building dry stone walls, stone structures and creating gardens throughout New England and beyond.

His particular technique of building walls adheres to the ancient methods of generations of dry stone wallers in his native Yorkshire Dales. Pighills’ commitment to preserving the integrity and endurance of this traditional building art has earned him a devoted list of private and public clients here and abroad including the English National Trust, the English National Parks, and the Duke of Devonshire estates.

His stone work has been featured on British and American television, in Charles McCraven’s book The Stone Primer, and Jeffrey Matz’s Midcentury Houses Today, A study of residential modernism in New Canaan Connecticut. He has featured  in the N Y Times, on Martha Stewart Living radio, and in the Graham Deneen film short  “Dry Stone”, as well as various media outlets both here and in the UK, including an article in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of Yankee Magazine.

Pighills is a DSWA fully qualified dry stone walling instructor. In addition to building in stone and creating gardens, Pighills teaches dry stone wall building workshops in and around New England.

He is a frequent lecturer on the art of dry stone walling, and how traditional UK walling styles compare to those found in New England. His blog, Heave and Hoe; A Day in the Life of a Dry Stone Waller and Gardener, provides more information about Pighills.

For more information, visit www.englishgardensandlandscaping.com

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‘Stop Ageism Now!’ Forum Scheduled at Essex Library Tonight at 5:30pm

ESSEX — St. Luke’s Community Services, a non-profit in Middletown, is co-hosting a ‘Stop Ageism Now! forum’ at Essex Library this evening, Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

This open community conversation will look at ageism in terms of:

  • Prejudicial attitudes toward older people old age and/or the aging process;
  • Discriminatory practices against older people;
  • Institutional practices and policies that perpetuate stereotypes about aging.

Ageism is an often overlooked barrier that exists across most communities in the U.S. Ageism puts unfair limitations on older adults’ abilities to live to their fullest potential and devalues them as individuals (Source: www.stopageismnow.org).

As part of the Middlesex County Gatekeeper Program mission to advocate for successful aging and independence, St. Luke’s is committed to building awareness, breaking down stereotypes and challenging attitudes to Stop Ageism Now.

In the upcoming months, the organization will campaign to Stop Ageism Now as well as in the coming years work to create a culture in Middlesex County whereby the life experiences and achievements of older individuals are celebrated. Their ultimate goal is to bring back the belief that aging is a natural part of life and not a problem to be solved.

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Annual Pancake Supper Today at All Saint’s, Ivoryton, Benefits Refugee/Immigrant Organization

ESSEX — Because of the extraordinary challenges faced by refugees in the present climate, All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Ivoryton plans to dedicate the proceeds of its annual pancake supper, to be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28, to the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services of Connecticut (IRIS). This event is open to the general public and will take place at the Deep River Congregational Church, at 1 Church Street, Deep River, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Ashley Makar, the Director of Community Co-Sponsorship at IRIS and a graduate of Yale Divinity School, will speak about the organization’s work and the plight of refugees, from 6 to 6:30 p.m. followed by a pancake supper from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Tickets are $10.00 and can be obtained from area churches, Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe
Zedek, at the door, and online at https://pancakesuppertobenefitiris.eventbrite.com.

If you have questions about the event or would like to volunteer services, contact John Yrchik, chair of this event, at jyrchik@comcast.net.

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Celebrate 110 Years of Montessori Education at Circle of Friends Today

CHESTER — Students and staff members at Circle of Friends Montessori, 25 West Main St., Chester, invite community members to come join in their celebration of Montessori Education Week with two special open houses.

Come take a firsthand look at their child-centered, individualized approach to education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, the first female physician in Italy.  See how multi-age groupings, a rich curriculum, and hands-on materials can benefit young children and help them to develop a lifelong love of learning.

The classroom will be open on Monday, Feb. 27, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. and again on Friday, March 3, from 4 to 6 p.m.

For more information or to schedule a visit, call (860) 526-9995.

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‘The Kate’ Hosts Annual Fundraising Oscar Party Tonight

OLD SAYBROOK — The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, The Kate, will hold a fundraising benefit on Oscar Night, this Sunday, Feb. 26, beginning at 7 p.m. and continuing until the Oscars are all awarded!  The Oscar Party is The Kate’s annual red-carpet event that honors 12-time Oscar-nominated, four-time-winning theatre namesake, Katharine Hepburn, while also making for a great party.

  • Walk the red carpet.
  • Pose for a photo or two.
  • Bid on an auction item.
  • Hold a real Oscar.

Watch the Oscars live on The Kate’s gigantic screen as you indulge in delicious appetizers, treats, and beverages.  Come and celebrate like a star!

A few individual tickets to attend the event are still available at www.thekate.org or call 877-503-1286.

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Sen. Linares Proposes Electoral College Vote for 2nd Congressional District

Sen. Art Linares gives testimony in the Connecticut Senate.

AREAWIDE — State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) on Wednesday testified before the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee in support of a bill he proposed to give the 2nd Congressional District its own vote in the Electoral College.

SB 133, An Act Concerning The Electoral College Vote Attributed To The State’s Second Congressional District, was submitted by Sen. Linares as a way to give a voice and more visibility to the people and businesses of the 2ndCongressional District.

During his testimony, Sen. Linares said that while people know the Naval Submarine Base and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, other areas of the district don’t get much notice.

“Presidents and vice presidents are customary speakers at Academy graduations. Members of Congress tour the facility that is the United States Navy’s primary East Coast submarine base,” Sen. Linares said. “However, during presidential primary and election years, the Second Congressional District and its important facilities are passed by. I’d like to change that.”

Sen. Linares said his bill would use the popular vote in the district to determine what candidate would get the Electoral College vote from the district. In addition to possibly generating more interest from presidential candidates, he said the bill would give the 2nd Congressional District the attention the unique area deserves,

Senator Linares represents the communities of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Earth2 Presents a WELLfed Event Tonight in Essex to Raise Funds to Build a Sustainable Well in Uganda

Villagers in Oculoi, Uganda, collect drinking water from an unsafe source. The WELLfed event being held Friday at Centerbrook Architects will change these people’s lives by funding a well to provide them for the first time with clean drinking water.

ESSEX — On Friday, Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Earth2 presents their fifth WELLfed fundraiser, at Centerbrook Architects & Planners at 67 Main St., Centerbrook, Conn. Guests will wander the tasting stations, learn about the nonprofit beneficiary and well-building partner, Call To Care Uganda, and add their artistic touch to a quilt gift that will travel to Africa.

In so doing, guests will let their kindness stretch across borders and fuel profound change, improve health and sanitation, inspire critical educational opportunities, and jumpstart the safety and empowerment of over 800 people of all ages in Oculoi Village in the Kaberamaido District in Uganda.

In-kind donors include venue sponsor Centerbrook Architects & Planners, A Thyme To Cook, Caseus, Black Hog Brewing Co., Coastal Cooking Co., Fresh Salt at The Saybrook Point Inn, RIPE Craft Bar Juices, Wright’s Steakhouse, J Cakes, La Cuisine Catering, Cafe SoL, rental sponsor Connecticut Rental Center, Earth2, Gourmet Galley, graphic designer Julie Clements-Reagan, La Belle Aurore, Savvy Tea, SKYY Vodka, Spice Catering Group, quilt sponsor The White Dress by the Shore, Zest Fresh Pastry, and more.

The brief program will include Centerbrook Architects partner Chad Floyd, Josh Chalmers (Earth2 CEO and WELLfed founder) and Martha Wells-Hoffman (Call To Care Uganda Executive Director and founder), who notes that “supplying a source of clean water to Oculoi gives the gift of life. The world doesn’t stand a chance without water. It is what is standing between a billion people and their health, safety and the opportunity to unlock their true potential!”

“Earth2’s mission statement is ‘Change the world before bedtime,’” says Chalmers, “and WELLfed brings that goal to life for our guests and empowers them to make an enormous change with a small-but-potent effort, all while eating, drinking and socializing with old and new friends. What we create in just two hours is immeasurable. Safe water means improved health, opportunities, and time for education – and the villages make a commitment to maintaining the wells for generations to come.”

Chalmers recently made a pledge to help build 100 wells by the end of 2020 and WELLfed is launching other fundraising challenges, including a WELLfed Fashion event in New York City, WELLfed WEDNESDAY restaurant day on March 22 in Boston in partnership with Summits Education to build a clean water system in Haiti, and other local and national initiatives and collaborations.

Event tickets are $75 per person, all-inclusive, with 100 percent of the ticket price going directly to the well build. Tickets and details are available at this link or by contacting Earth2 at Josh@earth2company.com.

If you cannot attend this event and want to support the dream, donation pledges can be arranged through the same contact email and fundraise.com link. You may also contact Chalmers with questions, for more information and photos, or to join the fun as a tasting station donor.

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CT Trust for Historic Preservation, SECoast, Submit Lengthy Comments Opposing FRA’s Proposed High Speed Railroad Route, Criticizing Planning Process

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut’s statewide historic preservation advocacy organization, and SECoast, their special project dedicated to organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley, have submitted 41 pages of comments to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regarding the  Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which presents the Preferred Alternative of the Old Saybrook – Kenyon, R.I. bypass that runs through Old Lyme.

The powerful cover letter to the comments, the text of which is given below, summarizes the organization’s major ongoing concerns as follows: “We … remain concerned that the Federal Railroad Administration has not acknowledged public, municipal, legislative, or Congressional concerns expressed in two states about their fundamentally flawed planning process, insufficient public outreach, or un-substantiated inclusion of the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass in the F-EIS.”

The cover letter concludes: “No state along the entire Northeast Corridor is as significantly or extensively impacted by the NEC Future planning process as Connecticut. The representative route of the Preferred Alternative … directly impacts numerous historic and environmentally sensitive communities. Singularly and collectively, these are resources that cannot be mitigated or replaced, and the Connecticut Trust is pledged to defend them.”

The full text of the cover letter reads as follows below:

The full text of the 41 pages of comments can be read at this link.

Dear Federal Railroad Administration and NEC Future Project Team:

On behalf of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut’s statewide historic preservation advocacy organization, and SECoast, our special project dedicated to organizing and educating the public to protect Southeastern Connecticut and the Lower Connecticut River Valley, we submit the following comments to provide feedback on the Preferred Alternative and the contents of the Tier 1 Final EIS for NEC Future. These comments are provided during the Waiting Period prior to development and issuance of the Record of Decision (ROD) for this project.

Since January 2016, the Connecticut Trust and SECoast have worked diligently and effectively to direct significant public attention to the NED Future Tier 1 EIS process. We did so out of grave concern for the impacts of proposed planning on the historic, cultural and environmental resources of Connecticut’s coastal communities. An education campaign that initially centered on Old Lyme, the western gateway of the proposed Old Sayrbook to Kenyon bypass, soon expanded region wide, jumped states to Rhode Island, and now includes Fairfield County communities in western Connecticut as well.

We have organized a notable volume of informed commentary on the NEC Future Plan, but remain concerned that the Federal Railroad Administration has not acknowledged public, municipal, legislative, or Congressional concerns expressed in two states about their fundamentally flawed planning process, insufficient public outreach, or un-substantiated inclusion of the Old Saybrook to Kenyon bypass in the F-EIS.

No state along the entire Northeast Corridor is as significantly or extensively impacted by the NEC Future planning process as Connecticut. The representative route of the Preferred Alternative identified in the Tier 1 F-EIS directly impacts numerous historic and environmentally sensitive communities. Singularly and collectively, these are resources that cannot be mitigated or replaced, and the Connecticut Trust is pledged to defend them.

Regards,

Daniel Mackay                                                                  Gregory Stroud 
Executive Director                                                           Director of Special Projects 
CT Trust for Historic Preservation                              CT Trust for Historic Preservation

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Connecticut Fund for the Environment Send Strong Letter to FRA Opposing Their ‘Preferred Alternative’ High Speed Rail Route

We have been invited to publish the text of a letter sent Feb. 23 from the Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE) to the Federal Rail Authority (FRA), which, while supporting the principle of high speed rail, clearly states the CFE’s opposition to the FRA’s Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the following two headings:

  1. The Current Tier 1 EIS Does Not Sufficiently Describe Why FRA Selected the Preferred Alternative
  2. The Tier 1 EIS Fails to Provide the Public with Adequate Information Concerning the Probable Environmental Impacts and Consequences of the Preferred Alternative

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment is the premier Connecticut-based legal defense for environmental actions. It also has the embedded bi-state organization, Save the Sound.

The letter reads as follows:

RE: Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement for NEC Future High Speed Rail Improvements Through Coastal Connecticut

Dear Acting Administrator,

Connecticut Fund for the Environment (“CFE”) and its bi-state program Save the Sound respectfully submit the following comments on the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) for the NEC Future high speed rail project, specifically those portions of the EIS detailing anticipated impacts to coastal Southeastern Connecticut. CFE is a state and region-wide nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental protection and advocacy that represents more than 4,700 members in both Connecticut and New York.

I. CFE is Major Supporter of High Speed Rail and its Numerous Benefits

High speed rail is critical to the transportation future of both the Northeast region and the country. CFE is a longtime supporter of high speed rail service in the Northeast. High speed rail must be an integral component of our nation’s transportation infrastructure as the United States moves further into the Twenty-First Century. In addition to making long distance travel faster and more convenient, high speed rail can serve as a major economic driver both as the result of its construction and implementation and the transport efficiencies it will provide to business and private citizens. Accessible high speed rail is not only an efficient mass transit alternative for many citizens, but an effective way of decreasing carbon emissions produced by the transportation sector. This is of particular importance to states such as Connecticut, where the largest increasing portion of the state’s greenhouse gas output originates from motor vehicle transportation.(1) Many of Connecticut’s major highways, including I-95 and I-84, become clogged with traffic during normal commute times, increasing the potential for excessive greenhouse gas emissions and inefficient use of fossil fuels. Accordingly, alternative means of transport that would decrease congestion on Connecticut’s highways in major travel corridors are a necessary and much needed public objective. Given the environmental benefits of high speed rail overall, CFE strongly supports proposals to make high speed rail a reality for commuters along the Northeast Corridor. It must, however, been done properly. The current NEC Future EIS provides such scant detail about potential site-specific environmental impacts that CFE is compelled to request that Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) conduct a much more thorough analysis prior to making any committed decisions regarding the NEC Future project. In its current form, the EIS fails to provide any substantive information from which citizens can draw conclusions regarding the potential environmental impacts of the preferred alternative.

II. The Current Tier 1 EIS Does Not Sufficiently Describe Why FRA Selected the Preferred Alternative

As a threshold matter, CFE questions whether FRA and the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) have conducted a sufficient analysis in making the determination that the preferred alternative evaluated the Tier 1 EIS is the most feasible alternative to be pursued in order to increase rail speed along the Northeast Corridor. In regard to Connecticut, the preferred alternative entails following the existing rail corridor with a new track segment from Old Saybrook, Connecticut to Kenyon, Rhode Island and rail improvements to existing track from New Haven, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts. Without meaningful environmental analysis, however, it is impossible to evaluate whether the preferred alternative is, in fact, the best alternative.

In selecting a preferred alternative so early in the process, FRA risks committing a large volume of resources to pursuing an alternative that may, ultimately, be impractical or unduly expensive to implement on the ground. This is particularly so given the preferred alternative at issue, which entails routing a new section of rail through a densely populated portion of the state and includes formidable infrastructure elements, such as a tunnel beneath the Connecticut River, discussed in greater length below. In electing to proceed along the existing coastal rail corridor, CFE is concerned that FRA may have selected convenience at the expense of overall benefit. Although FRA presumably conducted these analyses, the Tier 1 EIS contains very little comparative evaluation of the preferred alternative against the details of some of the other proposed routes through Connecticut. For example, there is no comparison between the Hartford route and the coastal route. Likewise, the EIS does not explore potential issues that may arise in regard to each alternative, such as the difficulty of blazing a brand new segment of rail through rural eastern Connecticut or the potential for the Connecticut River tunnel to be unworkable and replaced with the earlier proposal of an elevated rail bridge. As FRA prepares its final record of decision, CFE urges FRA to seriously explore the pros and cons of the preferred alternative against the routes in some of the other proposals.

III. The Tier 1 EIS Fails to Provide the Public with Adequate Information Concerning the Probable Environmental Impacts and Consequences of the Preferred Alternative

In regard to the preferred alternative as it stands in the Tier 1 EIS, CFE expresses serious concerns about the level of analysis conducted with respect to the proposed new rail bypass between Old Saybrook and Kenyon.(2) In addition to constructing a new segment of rail through a heavily populated and historic portion of the state, the EIS proposes constructing a rail tunnel beneath the Connecticut River estuary.(3) The EIS, however, is devoid of any details or feasibility analyses of such a tunnel. Indeed, there is little that can be determined from the EIS beyond the fact that the preferred alternative contains a tunnel beneath the Connecticut River in Old Lyme, Connecticut. There is no information concerning the design of such a tunnel, whether a tunnel is even feasible in the proposed location, how the tunnel will impact the Connecticut River riverbed, or the presumably extensive environmental impacts that will occur when constructing a subsurface tunnel beneath the largest river estuary in the region. Although the tunnel was ostensibly proposed in order to ameliorate the concerns that the public had with an elevated rail bridge being constructed through the heart of a historic downtown area, as the NEC Future project originally proposed, the lack of meaningful detail about the impacts of constructing such a tunnel leaves open the possibility that will ultimately prove so burdensome and destructive that FRA will fall back on its original rail bridge proposal.

CFE recognizes that the current document is programmatic in scale,(4) yet the analysis of the preferred alternative provides the public with no information other than the fact that FRA anticipates constructing a tunnel and a line on a map where the tunnel will ostensibly be located.(5) Although site specific impacts are relegated to Tier 2 in a tiered EIS process, the decision to do so in the present case leaves numerous communities and citizens in utter uncertainty as to the specifics of FRA’s exact plans in regard to the Old Saybrook-Kenyon bypass. As courts have recognized in the context of other Tiered EIS projects, the broad nature of review at the Tier 1 stage can result in serious ongoing implementation and impact problems at Tier 2 and thereafter.(6) Given the lack of precise detail about the proposed tunnel at this stage, there is a risk that when rigorous analysis of the tunnel occurs during Tier 2, FRA will encounter potential impacts that would have best been evaluated—and perhaps avoided—earlier.

For example, given the information present in the current EIS, it is impossible to know the exact manner in which the tunnel will affect the immediate river environment. The EIS does not state whether the tunnel will be through bedrock below the river or a structure along the river bottom or some other alternative. The Connecticut River estuary is unique among the region’s estuaries because of its extensive wetland and habitat resources.(7) A tunnel has the potential to seriously disrupt the Connecticut River’s natural flow into Long Island Sound and will likely affect the deposition patterns of nutrient rich sediments that flow into the estuary from further upstream. Likewise, if the proposed tunnel’s construction will disrupt the layers of sediment already present on the river bottom, such disruption will have the inevitable effect of unearthing pollutants that have become sealed off by more recent sediment deposition and reintroducing them into the water column, in effect repolluting the ecosystem with old pollutants. Yet none of these details or contingencies are addressed in the Tier 1 EIS, but relegated to later analysis at Tier 2.

Similarly, the Tier 1 EIS does not adequately address the physical impacts that would presumably occur on lands adjacent to the tunnel beneath the Connecticut River. The EIS, for example, is bereft of any meaningful analysis of the potential impacts on the invaluable wetlands that flank the Connecticut River estuary. As previously mentioned, the installation of a rail tunnel on the bottom of the river could, depending on its design and depth, potentially disrupt the historic flow patterns of the Connecticut River, which in turn could lead to the loss of wetlands. Likewise, the actual construction of the tunnel descent on the lands abutting the riverbank could negatively impact or destroy wetlands. Losing wetland acreage in a high population area such as coastal Southeastern Connecticut is a dangerous proposition, given the increased risk of shoreline flooding as climate change ushers in rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events. Given the level of detail in the EIS, however, it is uncertain as to whether any such impacts will occur or how extensive they may be. Due to the high risk that harm to wetland resources may ensue, such analysis should not be delayed to a subsequent stage of the administrative process.

Additionally, the Tier 1 EIS delays appropriate analysis of potential impacts to endangered and threatened species until the Tier 2 stage.(8) As is widely recognized, the Connecticut River estuary serves as invaluable habitat to a large number of species. For example, the estuary is noted as possessing one of the highest diversities of fish species in the Northeast.(9) Likewise, the estuary and river corridor serve as an important resource for numerous migratory bird species.(10) As the EIS notes, many federally endangered species are currently present in the very local ecosystem to be affected, including the Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii), Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), and several species of sea turtle.(11) As a practical matter, putting off the site specific analysis of impacts to endangered species can result in numerous problems either at Tier 2 or during project implementation, should an endangered species stand in the path of the tunnel’s proposed route.(12) The risk of such an occurrence is high, for as the EIS recognizes, Connecticut contains the highest number of endangered and threatened species of all states impact by the overall project.(13) At that point, irretrievable resources and time will have been needlessly spent in vain when an earlier analysis could have avoided such a problem while safeguarding habitat.

CFE also notes its grave concern regarding the earlier proposal for an elevated rail bridge over the Connecticut River that would direct the route of the new spur through the heart of historic Old Lyme and nearby cultural sites such as the Florence Griswold Museum. As the preparation of an environmental impact statement requires the sponsoring agency to consider the effects on the “human environment,” the health and quality of life in communities directly affected by a massive project such as NEC Future should be of paramount importance in FRA’s decision making. Should the Connecticut River tunnel ultimately prove unworkable or overly expensive, CFE shares the concerns of many citizens that FRA will implement the original rail bridge proposal instead, thereby subjecting a historic town center to irreparable damage and a diminution in aesthetic and environmental value. If there is even a remote possibility that FRA may ultimately implement a rail bridge over the Connecticut River as an alternate aspect of the new spur, it must fully present and analyze the expected environmental impacts at the current stage of the process so that the public may be fully and adequately informed of such a possibility.

Overall, CFE recognizes that the NEC Future project is one of enormous scale. Although a Tier 1 EIS is intended to be programmatic in scale, the current document provides directly affected communities and stakeholders with only the merest indications and suppositions as to what actual impacts will entail. In terms of the preferred alternative’s Old Saybrook-Kenyon spur and the subsurface tunnel included therein, the lack of concrete detail leaves local communities in a state of uncertainty as to what such a massive infrastructure project will mean in terms of impacts on the human environment and nearby ecosystem resources. As it is entirely possible that a yet unforeseen environmental impact will prevent actual implementation of the preferred alternative as presented, affected communities and the public are justly concerned that a subsequent, on the ground decision will result in earlier aspects of the proposed project being spontaneously resurrected as a means of quickly avoiding a major environmental impact and moving ahead with the project without additional delay. Given the importance of high speed rail to the future, it is necessary that the environmental impacts of any proposal are fully evaluated and understood by all stakeholders prior to moving forward.

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew W. Minikowski, Esq.
Legal Fellow Connecticut Fund for the Environment
900 Chapel Street, Upper Mezzanine
New Haven, CT 06510
203-787-0646 ex. 108

Supporting notes referenced by number in the text:
1 Acadia Center, “Updated Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for Connecticut: Recent Increases and Underlying Factors,” (June 13, 2016), available at http://acadiacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CT-GHG-EmissionsInventory-Report-2.pdf (last visited Sept. 9, 2016).
2 Federal Railroad Administration, “Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement,” Appendix A, 40–41 (Nov. 2016), available at http://www.necfuture.com/pdfs/tier1_deis/appendix/app_a.pdf (last visited Jan. 30, 2017).
3 Id. at 7.5-7.
4 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, “Guidelines on the Use of Tiered Environmental Impact Statements for Transportation Projects,” 3 (June 2009); see Ilio’ulaokalani Coalition v. Rumsfeld, 464 F.3d 1083, 1094 (9th Cir. 2006).
5 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2.
6 See Hoosier Environmental Council v. U.S. Dept. of Transp., 2007 WL 4302642, *7 (S.D. Ind. Dec. 10, 2007).
7 Jenna Pirotta, “Connecticut River Estuary: Haven for Juvenile Fish and Migratory Fish Highway,” N.O.A.A. FISHERIES GREATER ATLANTIC REGION, available at https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/stories/2012/haven_for_juvenile_fish_and_migratory_fish_highway.h tml (last visited Jan. 30, 2017).
8 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-9.
9 Glenn D. Dreyer and Marcianna Caplis, “Living Resources and Habitats of the Lower Connecticut River,” 56 (Dec. 2001), available at http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1037&context=arbbulletins (last visited Jan. 26, 2017).
10 Id. at 48.
11 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-5.
12 See generally Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 98 S.Ct. 2279, 57 L.Ed.2d 117 (1978).
13 Federal Railroad Administration, supra note 2, at 7.6-3.
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Solarize Chester/Deep River Participation Deadline Extended to March 31


CHESTER & DEEP RIVER: 
The deadline has been extended to March 31 for homeowners who live, work, and/or worship in Chester and Deep River to receive discounted rates for residential solar installations through the Solarize Chester/Deep River program.

The Chester Energy Team and the Towns of Chester and Deep River have worked with a single installer, C-TEC Solar, over the past 18 weeks doing solar education and outreach, as well as offering discounted pricing for residents.

Due to high recent interest in the program, the Solarize Chester/Deep River deadline has been extended and the reduced pricing will be held for residents who participate by March 31.

The Solarize Chester/Deep River offer saves residents an average of $4,032 or 20 percent off what they would pay for a system at market pricing. The Solarize Chester/Deep River program offers residents quality equipment with a reputable company for a lower investment than what is typically available due to the aggregated savings of residents going solar together in the community.

People who are interested in finding out more about the program or if their home is right for solar can stop by can sign up to have an evaluation of their home for solar at no cost when they sign up at solarizect.com/Chester.

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A La Carte: Feeling Like a Fluffy Pancake? Make the Fluffiest Ever

Fluffiest pancakes ever.

My mother, as I have mentioned in other columns, didn’t cook much. Actually, rarely, unless it was necessary. One of those necessary times was breakfast. Every morning I would attempt to flee the dreaded bowl of cream of wheat and run out the door.

Maybe she made eggs and bacon, but all I remember is that white bowl of white cream of wheat. Never oatmeal or Maypo. And the only dried cereal I remember is Shredded Wheat. So I would grab the orange juice, swallow it up (an awful flavor after I had just brushed my teeth) and then I flew the coop.

I don’t remember going out for breakfast until I met my husband Doug, who loved to go out for breakfast. During the week I made breakfast, but every weekend, Saturday and Sunday, off we went for our first meal of the day. When we lived in Massachusetts, it was always Ralph’s in Worcester, the city where the first diner was manufactured.

Once we moved to Connecticut, it was first a quasi-diner in Plainfield. When we moved to Old Lyme, it was the Shack (originally in East Lyme, and now also in Waterford and Groton), the Broken Yolk in New London (now the Yolk), More recently, Monica’s in New London and Christy’s in Westbrook.

These days I’m either back to not eating much of a breakfast, taking a bagel out of the freezer, making an omelet out of whatever veggies I have in the refrigerator or, when I’m in a breakfast mood, to one of my regular favorite restaurants.

But as I was reading my latest issue of Cooking Light, I saw a recipe for fluffy pancakes that included ingredients like oatmeal, white whole-wheat flour and maple-sweetened almond butter, which cut the calories and up the fiber. These are just delicious.

Our Fluffiest Pancakes Ever (From Cooking Light, March 2017)

Yield: Serve 4 (serving size 3 pancakes about 2 tabelspoon sauce and berries), about 324 calories)

Two-third cup old-fashioned oats

1 and one-third cups nonfat buttermilk

One-quarter cup warm water

One-quarter cup natural almond butter (or any nut butter you have)

2 and one-half tablespoons maple syrup, divided

3 ounces white whole-wheat flour (about three-quarter cup)

2 teaspoon baking powder

One-quarter teaspoon baking soda

One-quarter teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

one-third cup fresh raspberries (or any berries), optional

Method

Combine oats and buttermilk in a large bowl; let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine warm water, almond butter and 1 and one-half tablespoons syrup, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry meaning cup, level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt, stirring well.

Heat a large nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir remaining 1 tablespoon syrup, vanilla and egg into oat mixture; add flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Spoon a one-quarter cup batter per pancake onto hot griddle. Cook until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look dry and cook, about 2 to 3 minutes on other side. Serve with almond butter sauce and berries.

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Celebrate Winter Today at Chester’s 26th Annual Winter Carnivale

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

CHESTER — The townspeople of Chester are looking forward to their 26th annual winter celebration, Chester Winter Carnivale, on Sunday, Feb. 19.

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

Bill Bernhart stands proudly beside his ice carving at the Chester Carnivale in this 2012 file photo by John Stack.

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

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

Still hungry? Pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, soups, and lots more will all be available inside and outside the restaurants in town. Also, popcorn and kettle corn.

Just be sure to be back out on Main Street by 2 p.m. for the 15th Annual Chester Tractor Parade. Colorful and rusty, big and small, antique and new, decorated and plain – tractors are driven through the town center in an incredibly long parade. You never knew there were so many tractors in the Connecticut River Valley!

Free activities will keep the whole family entertained for the day. Colorful beads and balloons will be handed out throughout town all day and face painting is available. The Chester Museum at The Mill will be open at no charge, offering a place to explore Chester history. Galleries and shops will be open, many with special events.

Tractors and more tractors descend on Chester on Carnivale day for the Annual Tractor Parade. File photo by John Stack

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

Tractor Parade at a previous year’s Chester Carnivale. File photo by John Stack.

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

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Essex Winter Series Presents Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band Today

Essex Winter Series Artistic Director Mihae Lee.

ESSEX — Known for its unique concerts of world-class talent and diversity, Essex Winter Series plans to celebrate its 40th anniversary year with a robust schedule for the winter months. The season-opener on Sunday, Jan. 8, at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School in Deep River is a musical tour de force led by Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee.

Lee has carefully curated a program featuring breathtaking music that spans over 600 years. She will be joined by audience favorites William Purvis, Patricia Schuman, Randall Hodgkinson, the Attacca Quartet, as well as emerging young artists.

The concert begins with a celebratory fanfare of Copland, then a high spirited string quartet by Haydn, wonderful cabaret songs and jazz ballads. The first half ends with the ultimate crowd-pleaser, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue arranged for piano four-hands and performed by Ms. Lee and Mr. Hodgkinson.

The second half begins with beautiful Renaissance music for brass, then an aria from the opera Carmen and the finale movement of Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor, both in a passionate gypsy style. The concert will end with a bang with hot jazz performed by Jeff Barnhart, Vince Giordano, Paul Midiri, Joe Midiri, and Jim Lawlor.

The season continues on Feb. 19 with the Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert featuring Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band performing a centennial celebration of recorded New Orleans Jazz. On March 5, it’s Garrison Keillor and “Stories in Mind, Poems by Heart.” The beloved raconteur, author, and entertainer will share his unique brand of wisdom and humor in what is sure to be an unforgettable afternoon.

Chanticleer, an orchestra of voices, returns to the series on April 2 to perform the program “My Secret Heart” which includes a world premiere by Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Cole Porter and Noel Coward standards, and the return of Augusta Read Thomas’ “Love Songs” to the repertoire.

All performances take place on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. with the Jan. 8 and Feb. 19 concerts at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, and March 5 and April 2 concerts at Old Saybrook High School. Individual tickets are $35 and $5 for full-time students with savings offered for subscriptions to all four performances. Seating is general admission. To purchase tickets or learn more, visit www.essexwinterseries.com or call 860-272-4572.

The 2017 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Guilford Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, and Tower Laboratories. Outreach activities are supported by Community Music School and donors to the Fenton Brown Circle.

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Registration Now Open for AARP Driver Safety Class at Chester Village West, April 18

CHESTER — Has it been awhile since you’ve brushed up on your driving knowledge and skills? Want the latest information to help you stay safe on the road? Sign up for an AARP SmartDriver™ Course on Tuesday, April 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Chester Village West, 317 West Main Street, Chester CT 06412. Refreshments will be served.

Cost for the course, payable by checks only, is $15. Call Chester Village West by April 2 at 860.526.6800 to reserve attendance for yourself and/or a loved one.

The April 18 SmartDriver™ course at Chester Village West, to be taught by AARP driver safety instructor Cliff McGuire, will help attendees re-familiarize themselves with the current rules of the road, defensive driving techniques and how to operate their vehicle more safely in today’s challenging driving environment.

The course is designed to help participants:

  • Learn research-based safety strategies that can reduce the likelihood of having a crash.
  • Understand the links among the driver, vehicle, and road environment, and how this awareness encourages safer behavior.
  • Learn how aging, medications, alcohol, and other health-related issues affect driving ability,
  • and ways to adjust to allow for these changes.
  • Increase confidence.
  • Know how to drive safely when sharing the road with other road users.
  • Learn the newest safety and advanced features in vehicles.
  • Learn when driving may no longer be safe.
  • Explore other ways to travel.

After completing the course, participants will have a greater appreciation of driving challenges and a better understanding of how to avoid potential collisions and injuring themselves or others.

Connecticut offers price reductions or discounts on auto insurance to motorists who complete the AARP Smart Driver™ Course. Upon completion of the course, participants should contact their auto insurance agent to determine if they are eligible to receive an auto insurance discount.

 

The AARP Smart Driver course, offered by AARP Driver Safety, is the nation’s first and largest refresher course designed specifically for drivers age 50 and older. For more than 30 years, the course has taught millions of drivers proven safety strategies so they can continue driving safely for as long as possible.

Located in historic Chester, Conn., Chester Village West gives independent-minded seniors a new way to experience retirement and live their lives to the fullest. Since it was founded more than 25 years ago, Chester Village West residents have directed and embraced active learning. Within a small community of private residences that offer convenience, companionship, service and security, Chester Village West enriches lives with a comprehensive program that enhances fitness, nutrition, active life, health and well-being.

Find out more at chestervillagewestlcs.com; visit the community on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/ChesterVillageWest.

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Childress Gives Talk Tonight on, ‘Architecture of Gardens’

ESSEX — The Centerbrook Architects Lecture Series continues with architect Jim Childress, Fellow of the American Institute Architects (FAIA), presenting “The Architecture Of Gardens: Man-made Nature.”

Gardens have captured people’s imagination for centuries.  On Friday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m., architect Jim Childress will illustrate the design ideas behind some of world’s best small gardens.  He will explore how they are planned and how the plants are integrated.  And, to escape winter for an hour – there will be plenty of images of gardens in full bloom. 

This program is free and open to the public.

For more information or to register for this program, call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560. Centerbrook Architects’ office is located at 67 Main Street in Centerbrook.

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9 Town Transit Partners with Google Maps for Online Trip Planning

AREAWIDE — Finding local bus route information just got a whole lot easier.  In fact, you probably already have it available on your smartphone.  Google Maps now includes local bus routes and schedules in its directions feature.

Riders no longer have to read timetables.  They simply enter the date and time that they hope to arrive at their destination and the trip planner will provide three options, showing the amount of time and number of transfers for each option, letting you easily select the most convenient trip.

Google Maps can even provide walking directions, so you can find out exactly how to get to the nearest transit stop or station, and how to get to your destination once you leave the train/bus.  For extra convenience, Google Maps has most locations already stored, so you only need the location name or just a category, such as fast food.

“We are pleased to welcome 9 Town Transit to Google Maps.”, says Ryan Poscharsky, Strategic Partner Manager at Google.  “This partnership shows 9 Town Transit’s commitment to innovating, as well as serving and attracting new riders. Together we can provide useful and accurate information to help people quickly get to where they want to go.”

Another important feature is the ability to plan trips across agencies and modes.  CT Transit New Haven and Hartford, CT Transit Express, Shoreline East and Metro North are all available in Google Maps, so it is easy to plan your trip from Old Saybrook to Hartford, from Manhattan to the outlet malls, or from your Clinton to downtown New Haven.  Google Maps tells you all transfers required along with the connecting agency name and contact information.

“We hope this tool makes it easier than ever to plan your trip by bus or train in our region”, says Joseph Comerford, Executive Director of 9 Town Transit.

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