October 21, 2014

Re-Run of Race for Judge of Probate in Old Saybrook District

Voters of nine towns, including Lyme, in central Connecticut will decide on Nov. 4 whether to re-elect Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme of Essex for a second, four-year term or to replace him with Attorney Anselmo Delia of Clinton. The two ran against each other four years ago in 2010 when Lomme won by 419 votes. In the 2010 race, Lomme carried the town of Lyme, along with Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme and Old Saybrook while Delia carried Clinton, Haddam, Killingworth and Westbrook.

When Lomme ran against Delia in 2010, he committed that, if elected, he would become a full time Judge of Probate. However, after his election Lomme changed his position and in a recent interview he explained, “I thought the job would require a full time judge. However, once we merged the courts, I realized that it was not necessary to be on the job every minute, when the court is open.” The merger to which Lomme is referring was when the probate courts in nine towns were merged into a single court in Old Saybrook.

In the 2014 campaign, Lomme has been nominated unanimously for re-election for a second term by the Democratic Nominating Convention. The convention cited Lomme’s “invaluable experience” in urging his re-election. The convention also noted Judge Lomme’s pivotal role, “for implementing, successfully, the merger of the nine former town probate courts into a single Saybrook Court District.”

Lomme’s Record as a Judge

Discussing his work over the past four years as a Judge of Probate, Lomme said in a recent interview that he had held over 3,500 hearings since becoming a judge. He also observed  that most Judges of Probate in the State of Connecticut maintain private law practices. As for his current campaign for re-election, Lomme charged that his Republican opponent did not have the necessary experience to do the job. Lomme said that Attorney Delia has had only four cases before the probate court over the past four years.

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme

In addition to serving as a Judge of Probate, Lomme in his capacity as a private attorney has represented a major New York City developer before regulatory bodies of the Town of Essex, including five public hearings before the Essex Planning Commission and another before the Essex Zoning Commission.

The Republican Challenger

Delia, Lomme’s Republican challenger, notes that he has been an attorney for 34 years and has represented legal clients in every federal and state court in Connecticut. Delia cites that he has chaired many important public bodies in his hometown of Clinton, including the planning and zoning commission, the board of education and the Youth and Family Service Bureau.

Republican candidate for Judge of Probate attorney Anselmo Delia

Republican candidate for Judge of Probate attorney Anselmo Delia

With regard to being a Judge of Probate, Delia comments, “Four years ago … I promised, as I do now, that if elected I would terminate my private practice and serve as a full time Judge of Probate. My opponent has opted to continue his private practice during his term in office. I believed then, as I believe now, that the office warrants the level of attention and avoidance of conflict of interest afforded by a full commitment.” Delia said, “I am ready to do the job from day one,” adding though, “It may take as much as six months to wind up matters with present clients.”

Local Resident Recalls Eleanor Roosevelt Endorsement of State Senate Candidacy

Eleanor Roosevelt endorsing the candidacy of Essex resident Jerome Wilson, when he was a candidate for the New York State Senate back in 1962

Eleanor Roosevelt endorsing the candidacy of Essex resident Jerome Wilson, when he was a candidate for the New York State Senate in 1962

What with much of the country riveted by the PBS documentary on the “Roosevelt’s,” Essex resident Jerome Wilson has released a photograph of his one time meeting with Eleanor Roosevelt. The photograph was taken in the fall of 1962, and it pictured Mrs. Roosevelt’s endorsement of Wilson’s candidacy for the New York State Senate in Albany. Wilson won his race in 1962 and went on to serve three terms in the New York State Senate.

Wilson was a member of what was called the Reform Movement in New York City in the 1960’s. The leaders of the Reform Democratic movement were three notable national Democrats: Eleanor Roosevelt, former New York State Governor Herbert Lehman and former Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, Thomas Finletter. The purpose of this group was to defeat Tammany Hall, Democratic Party officeholders (the so-called “bosses”), and replace them with Reform Democrats.

On the West Side of Manhattan, the Reform Democrats had already beaten Tammany Hall candidates in the 1960 elections, electing a U.S. Congressman and a New York State Senator. Wilson’s election as a State Senator on the Manhattan East Side in 1962 would be yet another victory for the Reform Democrats. In addition to electing public officials, the Reform Democrats had set up Reform Democratic clubs on both on the West Side and the East Side of Manhattan. At the time of his election to the New York State Senate, Wilson was the President of the Yorkville Democratic Club, a Reform Democratic club located on East 79th Street in Manhattan.

Wilson’s most significant accomplishment during his service in the New York State legislature was to lead the fight to reform the state’s 179-year-old divorce law. New York’s divorce law up until 1966 had only one ground for divorce, which was for adultery. There was not even a ground for extreme physical cruelty. Through his efforts, as Chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee and Family Law, Wilson exposed the inadequacy of the one-ground divorce law, and, as a result, the New York State legislature adopted new grounds for physical and mental cruelty, among other humane grounds for divorce.

Essex Transfer Station and Recycling Center Procedures Starting October

Pitching in the garbage with feeling

Pitching in the garbage with feeling

The Town of Essex’s Transfer Station and Recycling Center, which is located a 5 Dump Road in Essex, will adopt new use procedures, effective October 1, 2014. From that date forward, users of the transfer station must either have: 1) a valid official sticker affixed to the windshield of their vehicle, or 2) a pre-paid punch card in hand, before disposing of household garbage and trash at the Essex town transfer station.

Use of the transfer station is limited, exclusively, to the residents of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton. The transfer station is located in Essex at 5 Dump Road off Route 154. It is also just off Exit 4 of Route 9. The hours of operation at the facility are Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Windshield stickers permitting a year’s unlimited access to the transfer station can only be purchased at the Town Clerk’s office at the Town Hall in downtown Essex. The cost of a one year permit is $125, and $75 for seniors. They can be paid for by cash or check, but not by credit card. The Town Clerk will also sell 10 bag punch cards for $25 a card.

In the addition, the transfer station at 5 Dump Road will sell 10 bag punch cards. which can be paid for by check, credit or debit card, but not by cash.

Supplemental Disposal Fees

Effective October 1, there will also be additional Supplemental Disposal Fees for users of the transfer station. The supplemental fees, which will be collected at the transfer station, will range in price from $5 for the disposal of an old tire, to $20 for the disposal of sleeping furniture. However, there will be no extra Supplemental Disposal Fees for many items, such as antifreeze, computers, leaves or paint.

Payment of Annual Stickers and Punch Cards Online

Essex residents can download the Transfer Station’s Resident Pass Application form by going to the Essex town website at www.essexct,gov. The form on the website is listed under “News & Announcements.” Also available on the Town of Essex Transfer Station & Recycling Center website is a complete roster of Supplemental Waste Disposal fees, effective October 1.

A benefit when purchasing an annual user sticker before October 1, 2014 is that purchasers can begin using the annual stickers immediately, thus giving them some days free of fees before the October 1, 2014, the effective date of the new windshield stickers and punch cards.

In announcing its new waste disposal rules Essex residents were reminded that the annual stickers and punch cards only allow the disposal of household garbage and trash. Information regarding other accepted disposal items can be found in the transfer station’s brochure, which is available at the transfer station, and on its website.

The Betty Pierson Recycling Building

Another service at the Essex transfer station is a recycling center that offers reusable items that Essex residents are offering without charge to their neighbors. Items such as wooden furniture, household items and bicycles in good condition may be left for the use of fellow Essex residents at the center. The items are for personal use only.

The recycling center

The Betty Pierson Recycling Building

Essex residents who wish to pick up these items are restricted to one trip a week to the Betty Pierson Recycling shed. No loitering at the building is permitted, and the staff at the transfer station will enforce these policies.

Essex Land Trust Seeks to Raise Funds for The Preserve

Jim Denham, President of the Essex Land Trust

Jim Denham, President of the Essex Land Trust

In a recent letter to its members, Jim Denham, President of the Essex Land Trust, writes, “The Essex Land Trust is an active partner in the campaign to purchase and protect the 1,000 acre forest known as The Preserve. Over the past months, we have been working with a number of organizations to identify the $10 million in funding needed to make this project a reality.”

Noting that Essex land is a part of The Preserve, Denham writes, “The 70-acre Essex gateway to The Preserve is located off Ingham Hill Road. It will be owned and stewarded by the Essex Land Trust. It is part of a unique property representing the largest remaining, contiguous costal forest between New York City and Boston.”

Visiting the Essex Part of The Preserve

Visitors wishing to take a look at Essex’s 70-acre part of The Preserve can do so by driving down Route 153 from Essex towards Westbrook. Take a left off Route 153 on to Ingham Hill Road. Drive down Ingham Hill road until the road ends at a gated fence. To the left of the fence, and looking over the fence, are portions of the Essex part of The Preserve.

In his letter Denham continues, “Three rivers find their headwaters in The Preserve; they are important contributors in our region’s water aquifer. The Preserve’s un-fragmented oak woodland and swamps offer nesting habitats for birds of conservation concern and is an important stop over for migrant species. Freshwater pools are home to amphibians while Bobcats and Fisher cats also have been spotted.”

Fresh water pools in The Preserve

Fresh water pools in The Preserve

Denham observes, “With support from Essex and Old Saybrook voters, the Governor and our legislator, approximately $6.5 million of the $7 million public funding target has been committed, and the remainder is in process. We have achieved over $1.6 million of a targeted $3 million in private funding from committed land trust members and conservationists. We are working hard to secure the remaining $1.4 million.”

Forest Trail in Essex’s Part of the Preserve

Forest Trail in Essex’s Part of the Preserve

Denham concludes his plea for contributions to The Preserves acquisition. “To help reach our goal an anonymous donor has pledged to match the first $20,000 committed between now and September 15th. This is your opportunity to be a part of this historic effort. I hope you will join in.”

Pettipaug Yacht Club Ends Sailing Season with Just a Whisper of Wind

Paul Risseeuw stands next to the banner that marked the recent Junior Sailing Regatta at the Pettipaug Yacht Club

Paul Risseeuw stands next to the banner that marked the recent Junior Sailing Regatta at the Pettipaug Yacht Club

Over 40 small sailboats competed in the “Paul Risseeuw Junior Sailing Regatta,” which was held in the waters off the Pettipaug Yacht Club on August 17. There was only one thing that made things difficult at the regatta, there was very little wind.

Even so there were winners in the three, slow, slow races. The four kinds of boats that were sailed in the regatta were: 420s, Optimists, Lasers, and Blue Jays. The winners by the boats, in which they sailed, are as follows.

420s – Winners: Libby Ryan and Megan Ryan of the Pettipaug Yacht Club.

Optimists -Winners:

White fleet: Nick Hughes of Guilford

Blue fleet: Chris Annino of Ram Island Yacht Club

Red fleet: Stewart Gurnell of the Wickford Yacht Club, Rhode Island

Lasers – Winner: Jack Hogan, Watch Hill Yacht Club, Rhode Island

Blue Jays – Winners: Ryan Shasha and Freddie Kerr of the Pettipaug Yacht Club

This annual race at the Pettipaug Yacht Club, the last of the races in sailing season, is named after Paul Risseeuw, who is the Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, among a host of other activities at the club.

 

 

Essex Island Marina Sells for $3,465,000; Higher Price than Some Expected

The welcoming building at the Essex Island Marina

The welcoming building at the Essex Island Marina

One of the prospective bidders said before the auction took place that he had decided not to bid, “because of possible environmental problems that a purchaser might have to address.” Also, this naysayer said that there was a rumor that Jack Brewer tried to buy the property before the auction took place, but that his offer had not been not accepted by the owner.

Typical luxury yacht found at Essex Island Marina

Typical luxury yacht found at Essex Island Marina

Since there was no mutually agreed upon sale of the property before the auction date of August 5, the formal Absolute Auction of the Essex Island Marina was ready to go.  The auction began shortly after eleven o’clock on Tuesday, August 5, and there was an interested crowd of some 100 people in attendance, all seated under a large tent on the grounds of the Essex Island Marina. Most of those in attendance were interested spectators, but at least 20 in the crowd were serious bidders, who came prepared with $75,000 deposit in-hand.

The crowd that attended the JJManning's "Absolute Auction" of the Essex Island Marina

The crowd that attended the JJManning’s “Absolute Auction” of the Essex Island Marina

The interest in the property by these serious bidders was understandable, since what was being auctioned off was one of the premium marinas along the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

The auction itself was conducted by Justin J. Manning, who is the President and CEO of JJManning  Auctioneers, which is headquartered in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts. Manning began the auction with the friendly query, “Did anyone come by boat today?” However, it turned out that no one had, so he got down to the business at hand.

The “Manning” Style of Running an Auction

Manning’s style in conducting the auction of the Essex Island Marina was to engage in a continuous line of chatter. He would only pause to accept a bid of a certain amount. Then, immediately after accepting this bid, he would ask for a higher one. Generally, the higher amount that he called for, was in the $50,000 range.

Justin Manning, who conducted the recent "Absolute Auction" at the Essex Island Marina

Justin Manning, who conducted the recent “Absolute Auction”
at the Essex Island Marina

The only time Manning paused in his continuous line of chatter of accepting and asking for new higher bids, was to permit a bidder to stop the auction for 30 seconds, so that the he or she could speak with an attorney or money source on the telephone. Once the thirty seconds was up, Manning immediately continued his auction patter.

In his introduction before the formal bidding began, Manning noted that his family has been in the auctioning business since 1976. As for the mindset of the present owner of the Essex Island Marina, Manning said, “He’s done, he wants to retire, and get out of the marina business.”

Also, before the auction began Manning read out loud a detailed description of the property being auctioned. He also said that prospective bidders had been given confidential information about the property that was not available to the general public.

Manning explained that the winner of the auction would have to pay a 10% Buyer’s Premium on top of the highest bid, to arrive at the total purchase price, and the final closing of the sale would take place on or before September 18.

In his remarks before the auction began, Manning stressed that the property was being sold “as is,” In addition, he said the boats presently with slips at the marina for the season would not have their leases cancelled. Manning also noted before the auction that there were 35 slip owners, presently at the marina, who wanted to turn the marina into a private yacht club condominium. However, this prospect faded quickly, when the actual bidding began.

The sale at auction included all the real estate of the marina, Manning said, and the equipment listed in the P&S.

The “Absolute Auction” Begins

At the auction itself, Manning first asked for a bid of $5 million for the property. No one responded, so he slipped down to asking for $2.5 million. There was still no response. Finally, the bidding opened at $400,000, then $1.2 million, $2 million, $2.3 million, $2.4 million, $2.5 million, $2.6 million, $2.65 million, and then before you knew it the bidding had climbed to well above $3 million, until it reached the final auction price.  Manning exhorted the bidding to continue, but to no avail. After a further pause, he proclaimed the winner of the auction, who was none other than Jack Brewer.

The actual bidding in the auction took no more than forty minutes. Also, worth noting was that the auctioneer Justin Manning wore a stylish, dark blue suit, with a tastefully appropriate shirt and tie. Clearly, this was no “blue collar “country auction, where the auctioneer pauses from time, to time to spit from the tobacco he has been chewing.

When it was all over a number of guests at that auction stayed around to compare notes. It was a general consensus that Jack Brewer could have paid less for the marina, if he had been able to strike a deal with the marina owner before the actual auction took place. JJ Manning proved to be a master in running up the price to over $3 million.

Jack Brewer Now Owns 29 Marinas

Nevertheless, even though Brewer may have paid somewhat more than what was anticipated, in the view of one the visitors at the auction, he has purchased a property that will be the flagship of what is now his 29 Brewer marinas. Also, since he already owns two marinas in Essex Harbor he has a clear monopoly on rental slips there.

The former owner of the Essex Island Marina, Wally Schieferdecker said, when the auction was all over, “I’m not happy, I’m not sad, and I am glad it is over.” The Schieferdecker family had owned and operated the marina for 56 years.

 

The Marvel That Is the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, and its Director Paul Risseeuw

Getting the boats ready to launch with Junior Instructors helping out

Getting the boats ready to launch with Junior Instructors helping out

Since the year 2007 one man has been in charge of teaching young people, ages 8 to 16, the art of sailing. That man is Paul Risseeuw of Essex, the Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy.  Organizationally, Risseeuw reports to the Chairman of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, David Courcy.

Assisting Risseeuw, as the chief administrator of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, are seven senior sailing instructors and seven junior sailing instructors. Many of the instructors are themselves graduates of the Academy.

The Petttipaug Sailing Academy has two teaching sessions each summer, each lasting three weeks. This year the first session of the Academy was from June 30 to July 22, and the second session, that is presently underway, began on July 24 and ends on August 15. Both sessions at the Academy have three-hour morning classes and three-hour afternoon classes.

Young sailors launch their sailboats into the Connecticut River

Young sailors launch their sailboats into the Connecticut River

The morning classes at the Academy are designed for younger sailors, ages 8, 9, 10 and 11 years old. Afternoon classes, which are more advanced, teach sailing to young adults, ages 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16.

These age assignments are not rigid. A young sailor of 10, who can sail like a 14 year old, could find him or herself assigned to the more advanced afternoon classes. On the other hand a totally inexperienced sailor of 13, might find him or herself assigned to the morning classes with other beginning sailors.

Tuition for attending each of the sessions at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy is $400. In many cases students are enrolled in both teaching sessions of the Academy, which costs $700.

Counting the Sailors at the Sailing Academy

The first teaching session at the Academy this year had 91 student sailorss. The second session, presently underway, and pictured in the attached photos, has 93 students. This adds up to 145 different students learning to sail at the Academy this summer.

Learning to sail at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy is very much an on-the water affair, and there are only a limited number of lessons on land. The sailboats used at the Academy are: Optimist dinghies, 420 class sailboats and Blue Jays.

Academy students, when sailing, are on their own. However, instructors in motorboats weave between the sailboats, and rescue student sailors, when their boats capsize. At the end of their sailing courses students are given ranks for sailing proficiency. From the bottom up the ranks are: Seaman, Seaman First Class, Second Mate, First Mate, Bos’n, Skipper and Racing Skipper.

There will be a single graduation ceremony for the two teaching sessions on August 15. The day before graduation, all of the students from both sessions will sail down river to Nott Island for a picnic. It is always an exciting conclusion to the Academy’s premier sailing program.

What could be better than this, a gentle wind and a happy crew

What could be better than this, a gentle wind and a happy crew

Other Sailing Programs at the Pettipaug Yacht Club

 Besides the Sailing Academy there are a host of other sailing programs at the Pettipaug Yacht Club, and there is a powerboat course as well. The first event in the club’s sailing season is the High School Sailing program, which is held in the month of March. Racing teams from three nearby high schools compete: Valley Regional High School in Deep River, Daniel Hand High School in Madison, and Xavier High School in Middletown.

The teams from “Valley and Daniel Hand” use 14 sailboats owned by the Pettipaug Yacht Club. Xavier has 12 sailboats of its own for their team. For students wanting to participate in these races there is one requirement. They must be members of the Pettipaug Yacht Club, which costs $15 a year.

Next on the sailing schedule at Pettipaug is a five day Racing Clinic, which is held from June 23 to June 27. 16 students took the course this year, and instructors Travis Carlisle and Maria Keogh taught the course. The tuition was $200.

Next on the schedule was a two-day, Windsurfer Course on June 26-27. Tuition was free, and the course instructor was Ned Crossley, a retired gymnastic coach at West Point.

In addition, there is a schedule of Powerboat Courses during the boating season. Remaining dates for the full day course are: August 18, 19, 20, 21; and September 6. The course is taught by Paul Risseeuw and three other powerboat instructors. The tuition is $180. Pettipaug Yacht Club motor boats are used for the course.

Without question the central figure behind all of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy’s “on the water” activities is Paul Risseeuw. With the young people from the ages of 8 to 16 who attend the sailing classes, Risseeuw is the epitome of courtesy and understanding.

Pettipaug Sailing Director Paul Risseeuw provides assistance when necessary

Pettipaug Sailing Director Paul Risseeuw provides assistance when necessary

Most likely, Risseeuw’s students, past and present, will never forget how to sail. Nor will they forget who thought them how to do it..

Beautiful New Tennis Courts Open in Essex, Part of a Civic Campus Enhancement Project

 Tennis playing couple Julie Burdelski and Alex Bell of Essex on new Essex courts

Tennis playing couple Julie Burdelski and Alex Bell of Essex on new Essex courts

The Town of Essex has two brand new tennis courts, and they are a beauty. The new courts opened officially on July 24 of this year, and they have been well used ever since the day they opened. The new courts are surrounded by a “see through” wire fence, and according to a ranking Essex town official, the new courts were, “Completely rebuilt from below the ground up.”

Building the new courts meant the total excavation of the subsurface of the old courts. Furthermore, in installing the new courts, the very best equipment and materials were used from top to bottom. Also, a new interior drainage system was installed with the new courts. The total cost of the town’s new courts was within the $100,000 original budget allocation, however the new court fencing was funded by the Park & Recreation Sinking Fund.

In addition the new courts have new lighting for night play, costing over $10,000, which paid for by a private donor.

As for the expected life of the new courts, a town official said that, “Asphalt does crack in time.” However, his estimate is that the new courts could have a life span of as much as 15+ years. Throughout this new courts building process this town official stated, “We tried to use the very best materials.”

Tennis Courts Are Part of a New Town Enhancement

The new tennis courts are a component of what is called a, “Civic Campus Enhancement Project,” for the Town of Essex. A state grant of $472,000 funded the majority of the project. In addition to the new tennis courts, the town enhancement project includes a new and already heavily used children’s playground, and a completely resurfaced Town Hall parking lot with new curbing throughout.

Enjoying new playground equipment in Essex

Enjoying new playground equipment in Essex

The new playground and the new parking lot were completed for use in December of 2013. Another component of the project was new crosswalks from the town hall parking lot to the Essex Library, which is just across Grove Street from town hall.

The official grand opening of the entire Essex town enhancement project is slated for September 10, 2014.  A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 5:00pm, followed by a showcase of the playground and tennis courts from 5:30-6:30pm.

Blumenthal Urges “Yes” Vote for $3 Million Towards Purchase of ‘The Preserve’

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U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal at July 7 rally for a “yes vote” at July 8 referendum

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal came to the Old Saybrook Green on Monday, July 7, to urge Old Saybrook voters to vote “Yes” in a referendum to grant $3 million of town monies to help purchase 930 undeveloped acres in the open land known as The Preserve. The referendum for Old Saybrook voters will be held on Tuesday, July 8, at the Old Saybrook High School gymnasium, and the polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

Other public officials urging a “Yes” vote on the July 8 town referendum were: Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, State Representative Phil Miller; and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna said in his prepared remarks, “This property has been at the center of attention, good and bad, for 20 years. It is now time for resolution. We are optimistic that enough private and public funds can be raised to purchase the property and preserve The Preserve in its natural state. The Town will work cooperatively with all parties in this effort, including DEEP. Most importantly, I will work for and listen to Old Saybrook’s residents as they decide the future of this parcel.”

State Representative Miller said in his prepared remarks, “We’re grateful to the citizens of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, and our allies, the Trust for Public Land, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Governor Malloy, Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, Congressman Courtney, First Selectmen Fortuna and Needleman and the Connecticut legislature. A thousand acres forever preserved. What a rightful thing.”

Essex First Selectman Urges “Yes Vote”

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said in his prepared remarks, “Over in Essex, we’re excited about the proposition for acquiring this majestic property. Essex will hold a public hearing and town meeting to approve a $200,000 appropriation for the purchase on July 16 and look forward to joining our neighbors in Old Saybrook in support of this wonderful project.”

The Essex town meeting to consider approval of the town’s $200,000 appropriation to The Preserve’s acquisition will be held at 6:45 p.m. on July 16 at Essex Town Hall.

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Senator Blumenthal takes time to chat with Democratic State Senate candidate, Emily Bjornberg, at referendum rally

Other Supporters of Acquisition

Other remarks for the occasion were offered by Chris Cryder, Special Projects Coordinator of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, who said, “Coming off July Fourth weekend, this is an exciting time for Old Saybrook to exercise their patriotic rights and vote to protect this important piece of land here in town.”

Also, Alicia Sullivan, Connecticut State Director of the Trust for Public Land said, “We commend Governor Malloy and the General Assembly for the state’s early funding commitment to this significant landscape. Also, we are grateful to Senator Blumenthal and our congressional delegation for supporting federal conservation programs that the state will use for this acquisition.”

An audience of some 30 to 40 persons attended the pre-vote July 7 rally.

Essex Island Marina to be Sold to the Highest Bidder at Auction on Tuesday, August 5

A bird's eye view of the Essex Island Marina

A bird’s eye view of the Essex Island Marina. (Photo J.J. Manning, Auctioneer)

One of the land marks of the Town of Essex, the Essex Island Marina, will be sold at auction on Tuesday, August 5. The auction will be held at the Essex Island Marina, which is located on its very own island, and which has the address of 11 Ferry Street in Essex. The auction will start at 11:00 a.m.

The Essex Island Marina will be sold at what is called an “Absolute Auction.” This means that the marina will be sold to the winning bidder, regardless of the price, as long as it is over $75,000.

A representative of JJ Manning, the company which is conducting the auction, was asked if this is not a dangerous strategy to open with such a low price. The representative said that in the long run, “having a low, opening price frequently attracts the highest sales price for the property.”

The Essex Island Marina’s property consists of 13.2 plus, acres on a private island on the Connecticut River. The site has 125 boat slips, a gas dock, a repair shop, a laundry, a swimming pool, a dog walk, and inside and outside boat storage facilities. There is also a restaurant on the site. In addition, the sale includes the boats used to take passengers to and from the island, and miscellaneous equipment and leases.

Property Tour on July 22

Boat storage at the marina (Photo J.J. Manning, Auctioneers)

Boat storage at the marina (Photo J.J. Manning, Auctioneers)

There will be a tour of the site for prospective bidders on Tuesday, July 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Terms for the winning big include: payment of a 10% certified deposit of the winning bid, due within three business days of auction, and payment of the full price of the bid, 45 days after the close of the auction.

JJ Manning, conductor of the auction, bills itself as, “the leading professional auction marketing firm in the Northeast U.S.” The company is headquartered in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts.

Marina Is Presently Family Owned

The present owner of the Essex Island Marina is Wallie Schieferdecker, who lives in Essex. Schieferdecker operates the marina with the assistance of his two daughters, Dawn and Kyle.

Paul Risseeu, the Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy in Essex, and who occasionally operates the ferry from the main land to the Essex Island Marina, says that the Essex Island Marina, “is a class operation.”  Risseuw also observes that, “the yacht business has been tough lately, because people are moving to owning smaller boats.” Also, “it is part of the five year recession in the country,” he says.

Editor’s Note:  Justin J. Manning, President of the Auctioneer Firm J.J. Manning, has provided the following clarification of the auction process: “The auction is Absolute, which means that it sells to the highest bidder, period.  The $75,000 is merely the initial deposit made by the buyer on auction day, not the starting bid.  This Marina appraised 14 years ago for $1.23 million and would likely appraise today for well over $2 million.  The real estate tax appraisal in $1.53 million.”

Popular Jenny Tripp to Retire as Programming Librarian at the Essex Library

Departing Program Librarian Jenny Tripp and Chief Librarian Richard Conroy

Departing Program Librarian Jenny Tripp and Chief Librarian Richard Conroy

After nine years of creating some of the most interesting adult programs on the Connecticut shoreline, the Essex Library’s Programming Librarian, Jenny Tripp, is  be retiring from her position effective July 1.  During her service at the library Tripp has been the creator of many of the library’s most popular programs.

They include, the “Science for Everyone” series, which included talks on the “Mars Rover,” the concept of “Time Travel,” and a program on the similarities of the actions of human beings and monkeys. As Tripp puts it, “Each of the species [human and monkey] seem to be hard wired to make the same mistakes repeatedly.”

Another popular library program that Tripp created is the “True Crime” series.” This series featured discussions of “cold cases,” an examination of the murder trial of Martha Moxley, and a lecture by Dr. Henry Lee, a noted forensic pathologist, who has reviewed hundreds of cases of foul deeds.

Created Popular Bereavement Group

Another significant accomplishment of Tripp has been her creation of a Bereavement Support Group, which meets twice a month, and which she characterizes as “the program of which I’m most proud.” Roughly a dozen of evolving library patrons attend the sessions of the open group, based on personal need.

Another activity of Tripp has been chairing two of the library’s book clubs. One of the clubs is the Classic Plays Readers Club, which has exhaustively discussed Shakespeare’s plays, and other classic works as well. The next play to be discussed is Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie.

Tripp’s second book club, the Classic Readers Group, has tackled tomes as diverse as The Magic Mountain and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The current selection of the club is The Red and the Black by Stendhal. As if this was not enough, Tripp has also hosts a memoir writing group at the library.

In addition to these activities Tripp has been the editor of the library’s Ex Libris, the Library’s twice-yearly mailed newsletter. When asked about her, likely impossible to find, replacement, Tripp says dismissively that “You really don’t need a trained librarian to do this, just someone with some imagination who is prepared to make a lot of phone calls.”

For all her reputation as the “go to” person on perhaps every aspect of the library, Tripp has been actually a part time employee working only 24 hours a week. As for her own personal background, Tripp was an English major at the University of California (Berkley). She has also worked extensively as a screen writer, and is a lifetime member of the Writer’s Guild of America.

On a personal note about her work at the Essex Library, she says, “I have never held a job this long.”

Library Director Lauds Tripp

Essex Library Director Richard Conroy was fulsome in his praise of  Tripp’s work at the library. He said, “She has been one of the key factors in the success of the library this past few years,” He noted that library attendance is up, and that there has been an upgrade as well in the quality of the library’s services.

Conroy especially praised Tripp’s, “intellectually stimulating programs,” singling out the True Crime series, the Science for Everyone series, and her Shakespeare and Classic Book clubs as well. “How do we replace the irreplaceable?” he concluded.

As for her future plans, in addition to helping out at the Essex library from time to time, Tripp says that she is going to engage, “in helping people to write their books.” Asked if this this means she is going to be a professional “ghost writer,” her answer is, “Just call me Casper.”

Beloved Exercise Instructor Says Goodbye to the “Y”

 

Exercise instructor Lisa Laing receives applause from her students

Exercise instructor Lisa Laing receives applause from her students

The Valley Shore YMCA, located on Spencer Plains Road in Westbrook, is losing its number one exercise instructor. She is Lisa Laing, better known, simply as “Lisa” by her many friends and admirers. Lisa, who lives in Ivoryton, has been teaching four straight, one hour sessions, of advanced exercise classes, three days a week, at the Y since 1993. Her last day of teaching these exercise classes at the Y was on Thursday, May 29.

Exercise students, with Lisa, balancing for strength

Exercise students, with Lisa, balancing for strength

Central to Lisa’s exercise philosophy has been that she wanted every one of her students to do the best that they possibly could with each of the exercises. Also, while her students were doing their exercises, she, herself, did them as well.  This meant that when an exercise called for balancing on one leg, Lisa balanced on one leg; when the exercise called for going down on the mat, Lisa too went down on the map; and when the exercise called for rolling over, Lisa, herself, rolled her body over as well,

In addition to doing each exercise with her students, Lisa at the same time called out instructions, no matter how contorted her own body at that particular moment. Worth noting as well, her exercise sessions were non-stop, one exercise after another, unrelenting.

Strolling to the next exercise

Strolling to the next exercise

 

Furthermore, Lisa not only taught a one hour exercise class at nine o’clock, she taught another at ten o’clock, yet another at eleven o’clock, and finally another at noon. This meant that she was teaching and exercising for four hours straight. Nor did she skimp in doing all the exercises herself with her students. Three days a week, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, this was her schedule. The stamina, the refusal to admit fatigue, and to just keep going at each session, almost defies imagination. How did she ever do this crushing schedule for so long?

It was no wonder that her students held a party for her to show their appreciation in the final days of this schedule at the Y. No less than 150 people attended to party to play tribute to Lisa. “I was stunned and honored” by the turnout, she said modestly.

Getting up the heart beat by walking sideways

Getting up the heart beat by walking sideways

At her last exercise session on May 29 a number of her students were asked what they thought about Lisa. This is what they said:

Ann Bates of Essex, “She affords an inspirational opportunity to be physically fit. Also, she knows how to modify the exercises so that everyone is on board.”

Michelle Davis of Old Lyme, “I think it is a wonderful testament to her. She has brought me a long way.”

Norma Rogin of Essex, “She is the best,”

Janet Fay of Westbrook, “She has been an inspiration to us.

Fred Scribner of Old Saybrook, who was one of the few males in the exercise sessions, “Lisa has kept me alive, keeping my heart and other organs functioning.”

Ursula Wilson of Essex, “She is extremely energetic, and she is fun to exercise with.”

They call these “planks.” A lot of fun? Not!

They call these “planks.” A lot of fun? Not!

 Lisa’s Unique Insights about Exercise   

“What I have seen,” Lisa says, “is that many people are ‘scared,’ when they first consider exercising.” It seems that, “they are almost afraid of breaking something.”  However, others approach exercising as “something new and exciting,” she says. Also, she points out, when someone is new to exercising, “We are very conscious of their safety, and of working at a person’s own level.”

Lisa calls out the orders, while she herself is exercising

Lisa calls out the orders, while she herself is exercising

Lisa says that one of her teaching secrets is that, “I am great about asking people’s names.” Also, she also loves, “to see the growth and new vitality by people who once were self-professed couch potatoes.” She continues, “I love to witness peoples’ little ‘ah’ moment, when they realize that they have accomplished something,” by exercising.

She observes, “I am a nut about form, and about people doing things correctly. When you do something properly, you don’t get hurt.” She also says that she has witnessed cases where n “people could barely walk [and] five or ten years later they were dancing to the music. They worked so hard.”

Also, in teaching exercising Lis says, “I count my success in hugs, and I give a lot of hugs.”

Not Totally Leaving the Y

Lisa says that although she will no longer be teaching a full schedule of exercise classes at the Y, she will continue to help lead the Y’s “Hope Is Power,” a program for cancer survivors. This wellness group meets two times a week with one hour and a half sessions. Lisa, herself, is a certified Cancer Exercise Specialist, and she co-leads the program with fellow instructor, Linda Lawton.

After taking the full summer off, Lisa says that next fall she will be exploring new opportunities, especially in the area of helping people continue their fitness programs.  “Fitness is about community,” she says, “and it makes me happy to serve the community.” As for her future, she says, “I want to work with adults, so they can continue having healthy lives.”

A Hole in the Ground Where There Once was a Slum House

A hole in the ground, where once was the Slum House (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

A hole in the ground, where once was the Slum House (Photo by Jerome Wilson)

Finally the unoccupied property on North Main Street has been demolished. Early in the morning of Tuesday, May 27, a work crew from Shea Construction brought heavy equipment to the site, and methodically demolished the property and removed the debris, leaving a hole in the ground where there once was a slum.  Read the full story:  Eyesore No More, Essex Slum House Is Taken Down.

Eyesore No More, Essex Slum House Is Taken Down

A bulldozer claws away at the old slum house

A bulldozer claws away at the old slum house

It was a day of celebration in small town Essex. Finally, finally the town’s number eyesore was coming down. Early in the morning of Tuesday, May 27, a work crew from Shea Construction, which is headquartered on Westbrook Road in Essex, brought heavy equipment to the site, and methodically smashed the old slum house to the ground.

The pile of debris gets larger

The pile of debris gets larger

The crushed fragments were then loaded into a waiting dump truck, which took the debris to a local land fill. Joseph Shea, Owner of Shea Construction, was personally on hand to supervise the operation. “We will completely finish the job,” he said, including filling the hole left in the ground by the house’s removal with fresh clean land fill. Also, the work entails not only crushing and removing the entire building structure but also removing the old house’s septic system. This full process should take a week, Shea said. In addition, once the house has been removed, “All of the nails will be pulled out of the boards,” he said, as an environmental measure.

The trip to the dump is next

The trip to the dump is next

Among the spectators watching the destruction proceedings from the side walk was Tom Rutherford, who lives on nearby Laurel Hill Road in Essex, “We all have been ready for this to happen for a long time,” he said.” Rutherford also expressed his and the town’s gratitude to fellow Essex resident Ina Bomze, who paid $142,000 to purchase the property of the old slum house from the bank, and hired the contractor to clear the site. She will also fund the conversion of the property  into a new town park. “I think it is wonderful thing that she has done,” Rutherford said, referring to Ms. Bronze.

A central feature of the new park will be a solid bronze statue of Ms. Bromze’s late canine companion, “Morgana“, which she always refers to as a person. Also, the street address of the new park is 63 North Main Street, and Ms. Bromze, lives just across the street at 64 North Main Street. Once the new park is completed she will be able not only to see the new park, but also the memorial statue of “Morgana” from her front windows.

The Essex Land Trust has agreed to maintain the park in the future with its memorial statute to a beloved companion in full display.

Essex Eyesore to be Demolished on May 27

Abandonned "Slum House" at 63 North Main Street in Essex

Abandonned “Slum House” at 63 North Main Street in Essex

Essex’s number one eyesore, the abandoned property at the corner of North Main Street and New City Street at 63 North Main Street, will be torn down on May 27. This is the promise of Ina Bromze, who purchased the property from the bank last April for $142,000.

According to Ms. Bromze, the highlight of the new park on the site will be a bronze statue of her beloved dog, “Morgana.” Morgana died last year, but when she was alive she and her mistress were a frequent sight walking around Essex.

Ms. Bronze still takes her walks around Essex, but now she walks alone.

When a Probate Judge Can Give a Person a Helping Hand

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme.

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme.

Let’s take an all too common case along the shoreline. Grandmother has been a widow for several years now, and gradually, gradually, the ordinary chores of keeping a banking account, paying bills, and having her finances in order, has become too much for her.

In such a case grandma herself can go before a local Probate Judge and request the appointment of a Conservator to keep her books and pay her expenses. The person to be appointed could be a relative, or a trusted friend of the person seeking the court’s appointment of a Conservator.

It is not necessary to go to the expense of hiring a lawyer in a case such as this. Rather, if the person needing help has a person that they want to handle their affairs, they simply have to go before the Probate Judge, and get the judge’s approval for the appointment.

The Old Saybrook District Probate Court

Our local Probate Judge is Terrance Lomme, and he is based in Old Saybrook. His probate district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

Lomme’s offices are on the second floor of the Old Saybrook Town Hall, and the Court’s telephone number is 860-510-5028.

There are of course other cases, which are far more complicated, and they may require a private attorney’s services.

The Different Kinds of Conservators

The simple case mentioned above involves a “Voluntary Conservator” appointment. There are also “Involuntary Conservator” appointments, which require, among other things, a doctor’s report stating that the appointment of a Conservator is a medical necessity.

“Involuntary Conservator” appointments are the most common kind of Conservator arrangement, and before they are approved, there must be a formal hearing before the Probate Judge. Also, this kind of Conservatorship will only be granted, if there is clear and convincing evidence presented at a hearing that a Conservator’s involvement is necessary. There is also a statutory appeals procedure for Involuntary Conservator appointments.

Another type of appointment of a Conservator are those just for a limited period time, such as thirty days. When the temporary appointment time limit expires, the affected person resumes making his or her own decisions.

Making things even more complicated, a Conservator can also be appointed for the Conservatorship of an “estate,” meaning essentially, control over tangible assets, and not over a person. Banks can be appointed as a Conservator for an estate but not for a person. Also, hospitals and nursing homes are not allowed to be appointed either for a person or for an estate.

Periodic accountings are also required of a Conservator of Estate, and the posting of a bond is customary. As for Conservators concerning persons, they must get court approval before placing the subject person in a long term care institution, a change of residence, the selling of household furnishings, selling or transferring real estate, investing the subject person’s funds, and placing the person in psychiatric care.

A Conservator of Estate can be terminated if the funds therein are below $1,600. It can also be terminated if the person under a Conservator arrangement is now capable of managing his or her own affairs. A conserved person has a right to request restoration, and a court must hear this request within 30 days. Furthermore, if a conserved person cannot obtain an attorney, one will be appointed for him or her in these situations.

Conservatorships Program at Essex Library

A program is scheduled Tuesday, May 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Essex Library, which is the second in a series on what you need to know about probate, and will focus on the law and procedures of Conservators as part of ageing and estate planning. It will be hosted by Probate Judge Terrance Lomme, and the public is invited to attend and ask questions.

 

A Smooth Transition from Essex to Westbrook for Middlesex Hospital

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

On Monday morning, April 28, Middlesex Hospital quietly closed its doors to medical patients at its long-term Shoreline Medical Center in Essex, and at the same time, opened its doors to new patients at its new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook. The new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center is located at 250 Flat Rock Place, Westbrook, just off of Interstate 95 at Exit 65 and neighbors to the Tanger Outlets.

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

There were a multitude of road signs posted, announcing that the Shoreline Medical Center in Essex was moving to Westbrook. The move was also widely covered in the media. The new facility opened its doors at 7 a.m. with its first Emergency Department patient arriving at 7:01 a.m.

With 44,000 square feet the new Medical Center in Westbrook is double the size of the old medical center in Essex. In contrast to the building of the old Essex center, the new Medical Center in Westbrook has two, distinct entrances. They are: (1) The Whelen Emergency Pavilion ­– 24/7 emergency services with 24 acute care beds and (2) the Outpatient Center ­– two entrances, registration and waiting area.

The Whelen Emergency Pavilion offers patients true emergency care with its separate, covered entrance for up to five ambulatory vehicles, including a helipad to transport patients from the Emergency Department, and an “Express Care” designated to minor injuries or illness but still considered an emergency visit.

As for the Outpatient Center, it offers patients a wide range of medical services. They are: (1) Radiology Department, including the latest generation MRI, CT scanning, X-ray digital fluoroscopy and more, (2) Women’s Imaging Center, including digital mammography, ultrasound and bone densitometry, (3) Laboratory for emergency and routine blood work, and (4) Infusion – a private area for receiving intravenous (IV) fluids.

 Middlesex Hospital President and CEO On Hand

On hand for the first day of operation of the new Shoreline Medical Center was Middlesex Hospital’s President and CEO, Vincent Capece. Regarding the move from Essex to the new facility, Capece said, “The transition to our new facility has been smooth, and there were no major glitches. This was the result of all the efforts of many employees in planning this transition.”

Opening day -  (left to right) Pat Cozza, volunteer; Vincent Capece, President & CEO, Middlesex Hospital; and Beth Saity, Telecommunications.

Opening day – (left to right) Pat Cozza, volunteer; Vincent Capece, President & CEO, Middlesex Hospital; and Beth Saity, Telecommunications.

Middlesex Hospital Holds Well Attended “Open House” at New Medical Center in Westbrook

Exterior of Emergency Center with helicopter coming in

Exterior of Emergency Center with helicopter coming in

Middlesex Hospital held a very successful preview of its new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook on Saturday, April 19. The new center is located off I-95 at Exit 65 and has a street address of 250 Flat Rock Place in Westbrook. The four-hour preview event on the 19th, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., attracted a flood of visitors to the new 44,000 square foot medical facility.

The new medical center will open its doors for patients on Monday, April 28. Until then, Middlesex Hospital will continue to provide medical services at its present medical center in Essex. Once the new center opens in Westbrook, the Essex center will be closed down permanently. It should be noted that Middlesex Hospital has been providing emergency medical services at various locations in Essex since the 1970’s.

Middlesex Hospital’s new facility on Flat Rock Place in Westbrook is housed in a single long building, which is divided into two discrete sections. The section on the right, when facing the building coming off Flat Rock Road, houses the Emergency Center. The section on the left houses the Outpatient Center. There is a single walk-in entrance to the Emergency Center. There are two entrances to the Outpatient Center, one facing Flat Rock Place, and the other at the left side of the building.

The Emergency Center

The Emergency Department, named the “Whelen Emergency Pavilion,” offers emergency medical treatment, for things such as a heart attack, or a crushed limb. Also, located at the Emergency Center is an “Express Care” treatment center, which offers treatment for injuries of a non-emergency nature, such as a sprained ankle, or for a minor cut.

Laurel Patt, Director, Radiology Services; Paula Howley, radiologic technologist; and Kim Carey, radiologic technologist

Laurel Patt, Director, Radiology Services; Paula Howley, radiologic technologist; and Kim Carey, radiologic technologist

There is also a separate ambulance entrance to the Whelen Emergency Pavilion, with a helipad located just beyond the ambulance area. To give visitors a little extra excitement during the recent open house, the LifeStar helicopter made a special landing on the helipad and allowed visitors to explore it.

The Outpatient Center

The Outpatient Center is the section of the Medical Center which is to the left of the Emergency Center, when entering from Flat Rock Place. The Outpatient Center has two separate entrances, one at the front of the building, and another on the left side of the building. The services offered at the Outpatient Center are extensive. They include: a Radiology Department, which offers state-of-the-art imaging services, including the latest generation MRI, CT scanning, X-ray, digital fluoroscopy, among other services.

Interior of waiting area of the Outpatient Center

Interior of waiting area of the Outpatient Center

A Women’s Imaging Center is also located in the Outpatient Center. It includes private spaces for digital mammography, ultrasound and bone density examinations.  Also in the Outpatient Center has a new MRI unit, which features the most advanced imaging with a wider and shorter opening aperture.

In addition this is the location of the Medical Center’s laboratory, which is accessible to outpatients and for emergency services. Finally, in the Outpatient Center there is an infusion section with a private area for receiving intravenous (IV) fluids.

On an artistic note there is also a Community Gallery featuring rotating works of art by professional, amateur and student artists. There is also an open area stone garden off the left end of the building.

Entertainments for the Day

At the recent Saturday open house, in addition to tours of the Emergency and Outpatient Centers, there were vehicles on display from the Westbrook and Essex Ambulance Associations, the Middlesex Hospital Paramedic service and neighboring commercial car dealers. Also, there were free blood pressure screenings offered to visitors, and a roving magician to entertain the young. In addition, Connecticut State Police officers distributed child fingerprint ID’s, among other amusements for the young and old.

“Memorializing Morgan,” Essex Woman Buys $142,000 Lot in Memory of Her Beloved Dog

Present condition of "Slum House" at 63 North Main Street in Essex

Present condition of “Slum House” at 63 North Main Street in Essex

The treasure of Ina Sue Bomze’s life has been her dog, “Morgan.” Day in and day out, rain or shine, Ms. Bomze lovingly walked her “Morgan” around the Town of Essex. Then, not too long ago, suddenly and unexpectedly, Ms. Bomze’s dog died. Ms. Bomze is still walking around Essex these days, but now she walks alone.

Ms. Bomze lives at 64 North Main Street, which is just across the street from a long vacant, dilapidated property that has been called by some the shame of Essex.

The address of this eyesore is 63 North Main Street, and it is at the corner of New City Street.

On January 25 of this year there was a formal auction of this property, and the winning bidder at the auction was Edmund Mormile of Madison. His winning bid was $142,000.

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski who handled the sale

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski who handled the sale

Because of questions about the property’s septic system, among other problems, Mr. Mormile decided that he did not want to assume the ownership of the property that he had won at auction. In response, Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski petitioned the Middlesex Superior Court for a ruling to sanction the withdrawal of Mormile’s rights of ownership to the property. While waiting for the matter to be heard, Mr. Mormile contractually assigned his right to purchase the property to Ina Sue Bomze of Essex.

On April 7 the court issued a decree permitting transfer of the property to Ms. Bomze, pending a formal closing and payment of $142,000.

That closing took place on April 11, and Ms. Bomze is now the owner of record of the property.

Ms. Bomze was not available for comment, however, the Essex attorney, Jeannine Wyszkowski, who has been handling this matter said, “I think that it is a charming conclusion for what had been an unfortunate problem for the home owners in the area, JP Morgan Chase bank and the residents of Essex. What a great solution,“Think about it!”

New Commuter Rail Station in Westbrook; a Big Plus for a Growing Shoreline Town

 

“Train Approaching” at Westbrook rail station

“Train Approaching” at Westbrook rail station

 Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop can hardly contain his enthusiasm for the newly competed Westbrook railroad station. Costing $14.4 million dollars to build, the new station includes a new, two-story over the tracks building and 200 new parking spaces.

Passengers arriving at Westbrook station

Passengers arriving at Westbrook station

The new, two story station is described by the Connecticut Department of Transportation as having, “canopy-covered, high-level-platforms on the north and south sides of the track and an ’up and over’ system’ with elevators for passengers to conveniently cross from one side of the tracks to the other.”

New station building at Westbrook station

New station building at Westbrook station

 

Continuing, “The platforms are the length of four rail cars; there is parking on both sides of the tracks, a commuter drop-off and bus pick up area, and a full audio and visual messaging system.” Also, the new station, “is fully compliant with the American with Disabilities Act,”

The new Westbrook station, like the old station it replaced, is located just off Exit 65 of I-95. Also, the new station has a competitive advantage over the Old Saybrook train station, just up the line. All parking spaces at the Westbrook station are free. Parking at the Old Saybrook station can cost $10 a day in certain areas.

Commuters Applaud New Westbrook Station

Westbrook commuters are enthusiastic about the new Westbrook train station. In a recent interview, Colin Callahan of East Lyme said that he used to park at the Old Saybrook railroad station. Now, however, he is parking at the new station in Westbrook. “They did a wonderful job,” he says about those who built the new station.

Plenty of parking spaces at Westbrook station

Plenty of parking spaces at Westbrook station

Equally enthusiastic about the new Westbrook rail station is John Frost, who goes by the name of “Jack.” A resident of Essex, Frost said about the  new station, “It has been a long time in coming, but it was well worth the wait.”

Parking sign at Old Saybrook train station

Parking sign at Old Saybrook train station

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop estimates that as many as fifty percent of the passengers using the Westbrook station presently come from towns other than Westbrook. This percentage of out of town use of the Westbrook station will grow in Bishop’s view.  

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop with station design

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop with station design

“This will become a regional train station,” Bishop predicts. “People are going to come to Westbrook,” he says, “and this can’t but help our town’s economy.” Also, the First Selectman makes the point that, “the new station could never have been built with town money,” and that federal and state funds were involved. Bishop publicly thanked Daniel P. Malloy Governor, “for his commitment to public transportation.”

The Advantages of the New Rail Station

The following is a list of the advantages of the new station, according to First Selectman Bishop: 1) the new station allows passengers to go over the tracks comfortably by an elevator and an attractive walkway, 2) passengers can stay dry under the station’s new covered areas, 3) there is plenty of parking at the station, and 4) the station is just a three minutes away from Exit 65, off I-95.  

Bishop went on to note with emphasis that for Westbrook, “geography is our destiny.” Substantiating this assertion, he noted that within the town’s boundaries there are the following major attractions.

1) two major car dealerships, Honda and Toyota, 2) the large  Tanger Outlets mall with 60 brand name stores, as well as a movie theater, 3) the soon to be completed Middlesex Hospital emergency medical and outpatient center of 44,000 square feet, which can be expanded to 60,000 square feet, if necessary, 4) Brewer Pilots Point Marina, the area’s largest marina which provides over 800 slips for boaters, 5) the Water’s Edge, a premier resort and conference center on the New England Coast,  6) Westbrook’s historic town center, which is a two minute walk from the trains station, and 7) the Westbrook Elks Club, which is directly on the waters of Long Island Sound.

First Selectman Bishop says the new railroad station, “is a dream come true.” In fact, his excitement is so keen from the new station, it may give him an additional reason, why he comes to work every workday morning at 7:30 a.m.

New Hobby in Essex, the Keeping of Chickens

 

Dr. Michael J. Darre, Professor, Department of Animal Science, UCONN

Dr. Michael J. Darre, Professor, Department of Animal Science, UCONN

Who would have thought it? Well, it’s true, many residents of Essex, Connecticut, are now keeping chickens. The wide interest in this “feathery” hobby was evident at a recent program at the Essex Library. The program, which lasted well over two hours, was about just one thing, the care and feeding of backyard chickens.

The speaker at the program was Dr. Michael J. Darre, PhD, P.A.S., who is a Professor of Animal Sciences at the Department of Animal Science of the University of Connecticut. Darre invited those attending the program to contact him directly at any time, if they had any questions about raising chickens. He added that those persons attending the Library’s program might find the “UCONN Poultry Pages” of particular interest.

In passing Dr. Darre’s said that one of his own specialties was training chickens to stand still in chicken competitions. He also said that on the UCONN Poultry pages, there was information on where to purchase chickens.  

It Takes a Lot of Skills to Raise Chickens

In addition to asserting that it takes a lot of skills to raise chickens, Dr. Darre said that in raising baby chickens to the point where they are laying eggs, required the adoption of what he called a “Food Safety Plan.” He noted, ominously, that over 50,000 chickens die every year from fecal poisoning.

As regards egg production the professor said that when they are fully grown, five chickens can produce 3 to 5 eggs a day. He also said that when considering the cost of chicken feed and the construction of proper chicken housing, that from “a cost benefit analysis,” no one saves money in the cost of eggs by raising their own chickens.

He said that that there are three types of chickens that can be raised in the backyard. They are: 

1) Layer chickens, which are owned for producing eggs,

2) Meat type chickens, which are for eating, and

3) “Show bird” chickens, which are for chicken beauty contests.

He also noted that there are regular sized chickens, and “bantam,” smaller chickens.  Dr. Darre suggested that, “giving five ‘live’ chickens to another person would make a nice Easter gift.” 

Dr. Darre discussed the proper hormone supplements that are safe and nutritious for chickens, and he noted in passing that he taught a poultry class at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. The poultry professor also noted that in the hen house, older birds have a tendency to pick on younger birds, and that chicken keepers should be aware of this fact.

There then followed an extensive discussion on the proper housing for chickens. The professor pointed that “hen houses” should have proper ventilation, and that roosting chickens should be keep, “free from drafts.” Dr. Darre’s said that there should be heat sources in the hen house to protect the chickens from the cold, and that chickens should not be kept outdoors, when it is over 95 degrees. “Watch your chickens to make sure it is not too hot or too cold,” he said with emphasis.

He added that if the chickens were clucking, it meant they were happy, and when they are making distress noises, they are not. Then, the professor went into what he called, “An owner’s checklist.” One of the items mentioned was that dry litter made of pine savings was the best thing for chickens to rest on, and he cautioned against using straw in the hen house. He also suggested the use of a garden rake to spread the liter around.

There should also be a perch for the chickens to walk on, and a roost on which the birds can sleep, he said. The professor noted that the birds like to cuddle together when they sleep. 

As for feeding the birds, he said that bird feed should be bought by the bag, and that it was a good idea to buy “name brands” of feed. He also noted that chickens like to eat table scraps. He stressed as well that bird owners should make sure that the chickens have enough drinking water at all times.

Professor Darre said that chickens should be kept away from rodents, and that wild birds sometime eat chickens. Also, he advised that sick chickens should be put in quarantine. The professor also observed that in the hen house, “the birds themselves establisher their own pecking order.”

Baby Chickens for Sale in Old Saybrook

Baby chickens are frequently available for sale at the TSC Tractor Supply Co at 401 Middlesex Turnpike in Old Saybrook.

Tractor Supply Company, which sells baby chickens

Tractor Supply Company, which sells baby chickens

Store Manager Andrew Gaskine said that the store orders as many as 400 “live” baby chickens at a time, and that they are completely sold out in a matter of days. He said that state law requires that the baby chickens be sold in groups of six. The price range is $1.99 to $2.99 per chicken. Call 860-388-9641 for further information.  

Chickens for Sale sign at tractor company

Chickens for Sale sign at tractor company

 

They’re Putting in the Docks at the Pettipaug Yacht Club; It Must Be Spring

IMG_8085

A harbinger that spring must be on its way, is when the Pettipaug Yacht Club starts putting its docks in the water on the Connecticut River. During the winter the dock sections are stacked up in piles in the open air.

Club work crews, with the assistance of a powerful crane which can lift over 1,500 pounds, raise up docks sections one by one, and then lower them down to the waters below. Directing this procedure last Saturday was Sandy Sanstrom, a former Club Commodore and Member of the Board of Governors.

Although the club’s crane can handle heavy loads, when dock sections are being lowered into the water, work crews must physically swing the cranes and their loads into position.

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The Club’s Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, the venerable Paul Risseeuw, looks on at the docks-in-the-water proceedings.

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Club member Doreen Joslow (left) and Club Rear Commodore Kathryn Ryan (right) clear debris from the small Pettipaug beach.

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A very important step in putting in the docks consists of anchoring the dock sections, securely, to the underwater ground below. The method used at Pettipaug is that at each of the four corners of the floating dock sections, there are 21 foot hollow steel pipes holding them in place. These pipes are driven straight down to the ground underwater.

To drive the steel pipes into the ground entails using a gas powered water pump, which pumps water into the top of the steel pipes at a rate 150 gallons of water pressure per minute. This strong, gushing water, coming out at the bottom of the steel pipe, blasts away the sandy soil beneath it. This in turn creates a hole that goes deeper and deeper into the ground.

In some cases the steel pipe can burrow itself into the ground to a depth of 10 feet, according to Risseeuw.

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Here is a final look at a dock fully installed, even including an outboard ready to go. The preparation of the docks is just a prologue to the sailing of sail boats at the club. Sailing will commence as early as next Wednesday, March 18, by groups of high school sailors.

Let the races begin!

Purchaser of “Slum House” at North Main Street and New City Street in Essex Backs Out

 

Exterior of auctioned property

Exterior of auctioned property

The winner of the bid at auction to purchase the dilapidated house at 63 North Main Street in Essex has withdrawn from making the purchase. “I will not be purchasing 63 North Main Street, Essex. CT,” Edmund Mormile of Madison said in a written statement sent with a note dated March 14.  

Mormile won the right to purchase the property at an auction on January 26. His winning bid for the property was $142,000. In justifying his action to cancel his bid Mormile wrote, “After dealing with a long list of issues and potential problems two concerns are especially difficult and very expensive to resolve.”

“First,” he said, “the septic system as shown on the site plan dated 2001 can not be documented” …A map of the sanitary system (an as-built) is not on file with the Essex Health Department as required by both state and local regulations. Without verification the existence of an upgraded sanitary system is questionable.”  

The bid winner’s second concern, “is an existing and out – dated septic tank located under the building. The environmental concerns and potential cost grow.”

Mormile asserted, “If the town determined an engineered septic system is needed, then the cost of the project could increase twenty-five thousand dollars or more.” Furthermore, he wrote, “The town would only make the decision regarding the suitability of the septic system after I purchased the property, applied for a variance and a building permit.”

Momile wrote, “Although it is disappointing to reach this conclusion [of cancelling his bid], I am thankful for the experience and the lessons learned.” He concluded, “Finally, I’m grateful for all the friendly advice and good wishes received from the people of Essex.”

St. Patrick, Himself, Would Have Been Pleased with the Essex Parade

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Essex last Saturday was a triumph. The audience along the Main Street parade route, especially from the traffic circle down to the Griswold Inn, were as much as five or six spectators deep. And every one of the marchers wore at least some kind of green.  

The parade feature a wonderful variety of home town floats. Among the highlights one of many green bedecked couples, a color guard, a green-bedecked Model A Ford, a bright red tractor, a big green tree cutter, a horse drawn carriage, Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman with State Representative Phillip Miller and State Senator Art Linares, Essex’s own “Sailing Masters,” always in perfect order, and a huge bunch of green balloons. Here they are and more:

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St Pat 9

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Eagle Watch Boat Cruises Feature Bald Eagles Soaring and Nesting along the Connecticut River Shoreline

Eagle Watch passengers climb on board Enviro-lab III for the cruise

Eagle Watch passengers climb on board Enviro-lab III for the cruise

It would be an exaggeration to say that the Eagle Watch boat cruises, which depart from the steamboat dock of the Connecticut River Museum, get you really “up close and personal” to the bald eagles along the shoreline. Frankly, the eagles that you can see from the boat are pretty far away, at least with naked eye.

Still, the boat cruise does get you close enough to make out bald eagles circling in the sky, as well as female bald eagles sitting in their nests, protecting their young. At times Eagle Watch bird watchers even get a glimpse of a male bald eagle diving down to the nests to deliver food to its mate and their young.

High tech cameras are used by some to take photos of the bald eagles

High tech cameras are used by some to take photos of the bald eagles

Powerful binoculars are provided to passengers to make it easier to make out the details of the bald eagle sightings. Also, telescopic lenses on cameras can help in filming close ups of eagles in their nests.

Well Worth a $40 Boat Ride    

The Eagle Watch boat rides are co-sponsored by the Connecticut River Museum and Project Oceanology. The role of the museum is to sell $40 a person tickets for the boat ride, whereas Project Oceanology’s provides a safe and sturdy, 65 foot research vessel to ferry passengers up and down the cold winter waters of the Connecticut River.

Worth noting is the fact that the boat used on the trips, the Enviro-lab III, is clean and ship shape. It has open bow and stern decks, and very importantly, a large, nicely heated cabin for eagle watchers who want to come in from the cold.

Viewing the bald eagles with binoculars on the front deck of the boat

Viewing the bald eagles with binoculars on the front deck of the boat

The wintry boat cruises take somewhat over an hour and half. This provides boat passengers ample time to get a good glimpse, or a good photo, of the bald eagles that nest along the cold, cold waters of the Connecticut River this time of year.

In addition to the excitement of just going on a boat ride, boat passengers get the pleasure of the viewing the majestic spender of the river this time of year, which at times offer a bright sun shining down on the boat’s decks. You really can’t beat the price, for what you get.

The host-narrators of the boat on a recent Saturday were: (1) Bill Yule, a 15 year veteran narrator of winter boat cruises, and (2) Chris Dodge, a young marine scientist from Project Oceanology. Yule said at the beginning of the cruise that he had a bad cold, and, therefore, could not narrate. However, he would come along for the ride.

Bill Yule and Chris Dodge shared the narration duties on the cruise

Bill Yule and Chris Dodge shared the narration duties on the cruise

This meant that Chris Dodge would be handling the narrating duties of the cruise. Before he started narrating, Dodge explained what might be called the “clock system” for pointing out where the eagles are located in the sky.

This “clock system” meant that when Dodge spotted an eagle in the sky which was dead ahead of the boat, he would call out, “Eagle at 12 o’clock.” Or, if he sighted an eagle in the sky at the stern of the boat, he would call out, “Eagle at “6 o’clock.”

Eagle sightings on the right side of the boat, facing forward, would be at “at 3 o’clock,” and on the left side of the boat would be “at 9 o’clock.” The system worked well, and the passengers on board quickly caught on.

On this clear and sunny day there were a lot of eagles overhead in the sky. The bow and stern decks of the boat were crowded with bald eagle watchers. They changed positions back and forth, depending on “o’clock” positions called out by Dodge.

Viewing the bald eagles from the stern deck of “Enviro-lab III”

Viewing the bald eagles from the stern deck of “Enviro-lab III”

Eagles Up in the Sky, and On Land as Well

Not only were there eagle spotting in the sky above, the bald eagles were on the shoreline land as well. Suddenly, all this was too much for the benched bird spotter, Bill Yule, to take.

Yule soon began calling out as well over the ship’s microphone, the “clock” positions of where eagles could be sighted. It was now a joyful narrative with two, top ranked, eagle spotters, telling the 40 passengers on board, where to see the eagles. There was genuine excitement on board with Yule’s clear voice helping with the narration.

Still, because of the cold outdoors the cruise was beginning to seem a bit long. Increasingly, eagle spotters going into the spacious heated cabin for warmth.

First Up, and Then Down the River

Over the course of the cruse, the “Enviro-lab III,” first cruised north up the river, going as far as Eight Mile Island. The island takes its name from being eight miles up from the mouth of the Connecticut River, we were told.

Then, the boat came around and sailed down the river, passing the steam boat dock of the Connecticut River Museum, where the tour started, and continuing down towards the mouth of the river.

As the boat got closer to the river’s mouth, the waters of the river became more and more salty and warmer. This can mean that sometimes seals, and even a whale, can be spotted, although they did not appear on this trip.

As the boat got continually closer to the mouth of the river, the wind picked up significantly. In fact, it was blowing so hard, that the decision was made to turn the boat around and proceed upriver again.

At one point on the trip home, one of the passengers asked if the Emvio-lab III could safely go into Hamburg Cove, across the river from Essex. Tour leader Dodge said that the boat, which has a four foot draft, theoretically, could safely go into the cove. However, he said the wind in the cove might blow the boat into shallow water, therefore, it was inadvisable to go into the cove.

With more and more passengers sitting in the cabin for warmth, it was time to end the cruise. With a flawless landing, the boat came to rest at the steamboat dock of the Connecticut River Museum. What a day it had been! What a time to remember!

Bald eagle cruises will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until March 16. Call 860-767-8296 to make reservations. The boats sail from the steamboat dock of the Connecticut River Museum, which is located at the foot of Maine Street in downtown Essex.

Middlesex Hospital to Open New Westbrook Medical Center in April

Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook to open in April

Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook to open in April

Middlesex Hospital is on track to open a new emergency and outpatient medical center off Exit 65 of I-95 in Westbrook this coming April.  The new 44,000 square foot medical center is located at 250 Flat Rock Road, which is on the road that leads up to the Tanger Outlet Mall.

As soon as the new Westbrook medical center is completed, Middlesex Hospital will make the transition from its existing Shoreline Medical Center in Essex.  The new Westbrook location will be double the size of the Essex facility.  In addition, it will have the capacity to expand up to 60,000 square feet, if there is a need to do so.

Middlesex Hospital’s new Westbrook facility will have many improvements over the present Essex facility.  They include an expanded emergency center with 24 beds, as well as an urgent care area for non-emergency patients.  Patient privacy will be also be improved at the new center and there will be a separate outside entrance to the adjoining outpatient area.

In addition, the new facility will have a full service laboratory, an infusion therapy suite, expanded radiology services and a designated women’s imaging area.

Chester Company Donates $1 Million to New Center

Whelen Engineering, Inc., which is headquartered in Chester, is donating $1 million towards the building of the new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook.  The new Emergency Department in Westbrook will be aptly named the “Whelen Emergency Center.”

Whelen Engineering previously donated $1 million towards to the construction of a new Emergency Department in Middletown, which the hospital named the “Whelen Emergency Pavilion.”

Middlesex Hospital’s History of Medical Care on the Shoreline

Middlesex Hospital has a history, beginning in 1970, of providing medical care to the shoreline residents of Middlesex County.  The hospital first rented a space in Centerbrook, where it set up a full-service, satellite Emergency Department.

From its first day of operation, this Shoreline Medical Center in Centerbrook experienced phenomenal growth.  In fact, it soon became impossible for the medical center to remain at its Centerbrook location and properly serve an overrun of patients for the size of the facility.

Then,  two Essex residents, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred P. Knapp,  came to the rescue by donating to Middlesex Hospital 10.4 acres of land on which to build a new, permanent, Shoreline Medical Center in Essex.  Today, the facility serves on average 2,000 to 2,500 patients a month in its Emergency Department alone.  In addition, the Medical Center’s Emergency Department has received a number of prestigious awards for its excellence in patient satisfaction.

Shoreline Medical Clinic in Essex, which will close this coming April when Westbrook Medical Center opens

Shoreline Medical Clinic in Essex, which will close this coming April when Westbrook Medical Center opens

Middlesex Hospital to date has not announced its plans for the building in Essex, once it has been closed and replaced by the new Westbrook facility.

Morning Storm Shows Its Bluster, But Then It Will Melt and Melt

Soon the heavy snow will be gone. The afternoon forecast for February 13 is melting snow and temperatures in the 40's. It was fun while it lasted.

Soon the heavy snow will be gone. The afternoon forecast for February 13 is melting snow and temperatures in the 40’s. It was fun while it lasted.

Griswold Inn Hosts Tour of Its Priceless Collection of Pictures of Steamboats

 

A surfeit of steamboat portraits in the main dining room of Griswold Inn

A surfeit of steamboat portraits in the main dining room of Griswold Inn

On the wintry afternoon of Sunday, February 9, the Griswold Inn hosted a tour for some 50 visitors of its priceless collection of pictures of steamboats. Throughout the 19th century steamboats along the Connecticut River were the commercial lifeblood of the state, and the town of Essex was a favorite port of call.

Leading the tour of the collection of steamboat pictures, was Geoffrey Paul, one of the three Paul brothers who own the Griswold Inn. The three Paul brothers also own the Goods and Curiosity Store across the street from the Inn, as well as Sunset Pond at the entrance to downtown Essex.

In his over two hours of lecturing, Gris owner Paul gave an informative tour of the priceless collection of pictures of steamboats that are on display at the Griswold Inn.  The tour began with Paul’s pointing out the pictures of steamboats that are on display in the new bar room of the Griswold Inn.

Portrait of a sidewinder steamboat after passing under Brooklyn Bridge

Portrait of a sidewinder steamboat after passing under Brooklyn Bridge

A highlight in the new bar room is a newly painted, panoramic portrait of Essex harbor, as it looked in the mid-19th century. Looking at what he called, “a wonderful picture,” Paul let his visitors in on a secret. The secret is that the bartender can flip a switch, which will make the picture behind the bar rock slowly back and forth.

The gentle rocking of the Essex harbor picture is supposed to replicate what it feels like, when a person is on board a gently rocking steamboat, as it comes into Essex harbor in the mid-19th century. However, Paul said that in some cases people might think that the back and forth rocking motion means that they have had too much to drink, and that it is time to go home. (Owner Paul said if a guest wants to make the picture rock, they just have to ask the bartender.)  

During the Gris tour, Paul made much of the fact that the Griswold Inn is the oldest, continuously operating bar room in the United States. The Griswold Inn opened for business in 1776, and it has serving drinks ever since, according to its co-owner.

Other bars in the country may have been opened earlier than, “the Gris,” he said, but they have not been in continuous operation. That means that the bar at the Gris has been serving drinks for 238 years continuously.  

After that factoid had been established, the visiting group moved on to the front room of the Inn to look at some more steamboat pictures, and then thru the old bar room to the picture splendid backroom of the Inn. It a room whose upper walls are covered with steamboat pictures. The profusion of steamboats portraits is staggering.  

Treasured Jacobson Steamship Portraits

The most treasured portraits of the steamboats of the 19th century on display are those painted by a leading American marine artist, Antonio Nicolo Gasparn Jacobson. The Griswold Inn owns five original ship portraits by Jacobson, and many copies are on display as well.

Portrait of late model steamboat by noted marine artist Antonio Jacobson

Portrait of late model steamboat by noted marine artist Antonio Jacobson

In addition to the Jacobson pictures, owner Paul noted that a sketch of a Norman Rockwell picture of a steamboat is on display in the new bar room. In addition to his painstaking tour of the steamboat pictures at the Gris, Paul raised the question as to who was first inventor of the steamboat in America. 

According to Paul, it was not Robert Fulton, who is frequently credited as the inventor of the steamboat, but rather was John Fitch, an American inventor who build the first functioning steamboat in the 1790’s.

Original portrait of a steamboat by Jacobson at Griswold Inn

Original portrait of a steamboat by Jacobson at Griswold Inn

Visitors do not have to book a formal tour to view the museum quality pictures of steamboats that are on display on the walls of the downstairs rooms of at the Griswold Inn. The general public is generally welcome to view the priceless collection of steamboat portrait, most especially the picture-rich in the back room of the Inn.

There is also a “gun room” in the warren of downstairs rooms at the Gris. And don’t forget that upon request the big mural in the back of the new bar room can be made to rock and forth.

Another public tour of the Griswold Inn’s collection of nautical prints and paintings is scheduled for Sunday, March 2 at five p.m. Reservations to join the tour can be made by calling 860-767-1776. The tour is very popular and space is limited, so it is would be a good idea to call early.

No “Butts” About It, CVS Pharmacies Have Stopped Selling Cigarettes; While Rival, Rite Aid, Is Still Selling Them

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The nation’s largest pharmacy chain, CVS, recently announced that it would stop selling cigarettes. However, one of its major competitors in the pharmacy business, Rite Aid, has declined not to adopt a similar policy.

Rite Aid’s Bob Neveu, who is in charge of the pharmacy at the Colonial shopping center in Essex, maintains that even though Rite Aid still sell cigarettes, it is still cutting back in selling tobacco products generally. “We used to have a special cigar section in the stores,” he says, and now they have been eliminated.

Rite Aid’s Nevey admits he has always felt that, “it was somewhat incongruous for a health goods store, like Rite Aid, to be selling cigarettes.” However, regardless of the store manager’s personal feelings, cigarettes enjoy a prime spot behind the checkout counter at the front of the store, where Marlboro cigarette packages and other brands are on full display. 

As for the CVS pharmacy chain, in its pharmacy in downtown Old Saybrook on Boston Post Road, it indeed appears that CVS is not selling cigarettes, true to its word. Not a single cigarette package was evident on recent visit. However, it does appear that CVS has not given up selling other tobacco products. On a recent visit right behind the checkout counters, although there were no cigarettes in view, there were clearly other kinds of tobacco products for sale.

CVS pharmacy where they no longer sell cigarettes

CVS pharmacy where they no longer sell cigarettes

When asked what they were, “We sell pipe tobacco and cigars,” said one of the women behind the CVS checkout counter.

 

Essex “Slum” House Sold at Auction for $142,000 to Madison Resident

 

Present condition of the interior of 63 North Main Street in Essex

Present condition of the interior of 63 North Main Street in Essex

It took 28 individual bids at the auction before Madison resident Edmund Mormile won the right to purchase the forlorn property at 63 North Main Street in Essex. The purchase price was $142,000. “I have always liked Essex,” auction winner Mormile said after his successful bid had been recognized.

Essex Attorney Jeannine Myszkowski, who conducted the auction, did so by acknowledging numbered cards held up by bidders who wanted their bids to be recognized. Soon there were only three bidders still in the completion, holding up their numbered cards. Finally, there was only one numbered card still being held up by a bidder, willing to pay the last and highest bid price.

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski conducted the auction, recognizing 28 bids

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski conducted the auction, recognizing 28 bids

The auction was over, and Mormile was the winner. To make it official Attorney Myszkowski brought down the gavel and declared his was the winning bid. The auction took no more than 30 minutes. “I was pleased with the result,” she said after the auction was over. She also ventured the opinion that to her the North Main Street property “looks like a teardown.”

To Tear Down or Not to Tear Down

However, auction winner Mormile said after his victory that he was not willing to concede that the present structure could not be rebuild; although he said that building a new structure was an option. Either way, he said, there was a real possibility that he and his wife would move and live in Essex on the site.

Auction winner Mormile is a retired educator, and he has a real estate license as well. He said that before making his bid, “I worked the numbers, and it made sense to do what I did today.” “It’s in a beautiful area,” he said, and the North Main location of the property was “a motivating factor to me” in purchasing the property.

One final note, the sale must be approved by the state Superior Court.   

Exterior of auctioned property of Edmund Mormile, pending court approval

Exterior of auctioned property of Edmund Mormile, pending court approval

Shoreline Towns Recover Rapidly From Snow Storm

Essex view of Connecticut River, frozen along the shore, flowing in the middle

Essex view of Connecticut River, frozen along the shore, flowing in the middle

The three shoreline towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester received the full brunt of the snow storm on January 21 and 22. However, recovery was quick, and in each of the three towns the main streets were completely cleared, and the secondary roads plowed and safe to drive on, by mid-morning at the latest.

Covered boats at a shoreline boatyard unaffected by the snow

Covered boats at a shoreline boatyard unaffected by the snow

Deep River gazebo covered in snow

Deep River gazebo covered in snow

In fact, in the down towns at noon, it was even hard to tell that that there had been a major snow storm the night before. However, along the shore in Essex, and on the open fields of Deep River and Chester, the major storm had clearly left its mark.

Chester downtown, very little is left of the storm

Chester downtown, very little is left of the storm

Five Book Clubs at Essex Library Keep Members, Both Busy and Informed

 

Library Director Richard Conroy (center) chairing an American History Book Club meeting

Library Director Richard Conroy (center) chairing an American History Book Club meeting

If you like to read books on a regular basis, joining one of the book clubs at the Essex Library is the thing to do.  The library’s Executive Director, Richard Conway, is in overall charge of the library’s book clubs. In addition, he personally moderates the discussions of three of them. The other two book clubs are moderated by the library’s Programming Librarian, Jenny Tripp.

Programming Librarian Jenny Trip, who leads two book clubs and has a host of other duties at the Essex Library

Programming Librarian Jenny Trip, who leads two book clubs and has a host of other duties at the Essex Library

Here is a look at the library’s five book clubs.

1) The American History Book Club

This is the oldest of the library’s book clubs, and generally there are twenty to thirty book club members attending club meetings. Recent books discussed include, “Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindberg, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1942” by Lynn Olson. Another recent selection was, “The Hopkins Touch” by David L. Roll, which highlighted the key role that Harry Hopkins played in the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.

One of the unique pleasures of the meetings of this book club are the comments of two members who are retired college professors, Richard Buel and John Osborn. Hearing these two debate various nuances of American history is an extra pleasure.   

Club member, Lory ffrench-Mullen, travels all the way from Madison to attend the club’s meetings in Essex. Commenting on the high quality of the club’s discussions, she observes that, “American history is alive and well on the Connecticut Shoreline.” Continuing she says, “Whether our subject is the presidency and military history of Ulysses S. Grant, the life and accomplishments of Henry Luce, or the dramatic debate prior to World War II about America’s participation in that war, the comments and observations from everyone seated at the table lead to very lively and informative discussions.”

Also, club member John Osborn comments, “The group discusses serious books of American history.” As for the moderating skills of library Executive Director Richard Conroy, Osborn says, “He is firm but unobtrusive. He lets people talk freely, but he is ready to advance the subject under discussion, if they talk too much.”  

2) The Third Wednesday Book Club

This book club, also moderated by Essex Library Director Richard Conway, holds its meetings at the Essex Meadows retirement home.  Conroy observes that the club’s members, “are very engaged in various subjects, even though they are older.”

Jean Luburg, an active member of the book club, says that she first thought that being a member of a book club, “was a stupid idea.” Now, she has completely changed her mind and says being a member of the book club is “fantastic.” Luburg is also pleased that the library director Conroy personally comes to the Meadows to moderate the club’s discussions.

A recent book discussed by the club was, “The Curse: Big Time Gambling’s Seduction of a Small New England Town” by Robert H. Steele.  

3) The First Thursday Book Club 

Library Director Conroy also moderates this book club, which meets at the Essex Library. He says that this book club, “read quality literature, both fiction and non-fiction.” Recent club selections are, “My Beloved World” by Sonya Sotomayor; “Long Halftime Walk” by Billy Lynn; and “Slaughter House Five by Curt Vonnegut.

Another selection of this book club was Carlos Eire’s, “Learning to Die in Miami.” The author, who is a Cuban refuge, was a recent guest speaker at the Essex library.

4) The Shakespeare Book Club

The library’s Programing Librarian, Jenny Tripp, is the moderator of this book club, which focuses on the plays of William Shakespeare. Recently, members have read and discussed; “King Lear,” “The Tempest,” and “Cymbeline.” The group has also read historical plays of the Bard, including a less familiar play, “King John,” and a very familiar play, “Richard III.”

5) The Classic Book Club

This book club, which is also moderated by Jenny Trip, has read such classic books as; Thomas Mann’s “Magic Mountain,” “The Leopard” by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, and classic books from “Beowulf to Brideshead Revisited,” according to Tripp.

The interior of the Essex Library, where four of the library’s five book club are held. The fifth book is held at Essex Meadows.

The interior of the Essex Library, where four of the library’s five book club are held. The fifth book is held at Essex Meadows.

The Library Director’s View of the Book Clubs

Library Director Conroy says that by personally moderating the book clubs, “it gives me the opportunity to really interact with our library patrons, and they get to know me as well.” Conroy brings an impressive academic background to the book club meetings. He has a B.A., and an M.A. in Library Science, from Connecticut Central University. He also has an M.A. from Trinity College in Hartford.

Conroy says, “I am a voracious reader,” which is fortunate, because he has to keep up with the reading assignments of three very active book clubs, in addition to his administrative duties at the Essex Library.

As for Programming Librarian Jenny Tripp, she also has other responsibilities at the library besides moderating book club discussions. They include organizing and publicizing the library’s adult programs, setting up film showings, and editing the library’s newsletter, Ex Libris. It’s a full plate for a part time employee.  

Paintings by Local Artist, Luisa Kreis Whiting, On Display at Essex Library

 

Luisa Kreis Whiting displaying her paintings at the Essex Library

Luisa Kreis Whiting displaying her paintings at the Essex Library

Clouds, clouds, and even more clouds, that is the first thing that strikes a visitor in viewing the paintings by Essex artist, Luisa Kreis Whiting. In many of Whiting’s paintings, the clouds receive far more emphasis then the ground below.

There are thirteen original paintings by Whiting presently on display at the Essex Library. They are located on the wall across from the check-out desk, and along the walls of the library’s program room as well.

Whiting, who has spent a lifetime as a painter of pictures, has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. As for the style of her paintings she says seeks to emulate the work of the American master, Edward Hopper. “He is my ideal,” she says, mentioning specifically “the hard-edged light” that she finds in Hopper’s paintings.  

New England moonlight from painter’s imagination

New England moonlight from painter’s imagination

In addition to her paintings of clouds, Whiting in other painting seeks to portray the classic simplicity of the houses in New England, and a number of paintings on this subject are in the exhibit. As for Whiting’s background, she is an Artist Member of the Essex Art Association, and her paintings have been exhibited in the Left Bank Gallery in Essex, the Town Hall in Clinton and at the Essex Yacht Club.

Clouds over a New England landscape

Clouds over a New England landscape

As regards her family, she has three daughters and five grandchildren. For a period Whiting living in Richmond, Virginia, where she had a number of exhibitions of her works. However, she feels that, “The taste for art is much better here [in New England] than in Virginia,” although she has high praise for the mansions found in the south.

Her Father a Noted Artist  

Whiting is the daughter of a major American artist, Henry Kreis. Kreis was an immigrant from Germany, who proudly became an American citizen. His creative works are featured in a number U.S. government buildings in Washington, D.C., and he designed the official medal for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, among many other government commissions of his art and sculpture.

Also, Whiting’s father loved Essex and made the town his home for very many years. Now, his daughter, Luisa, is back in town, displaying her own works at the Essex Library.    

Essex Eyesore Is Up for Sale, Finally – Auction This Saturday

 

Sign presently on the property at 63 North Main Street

Sign presently on the property at 63 North Main Street

After literally years of waiting, Essex’s number one eye sore, the decaying property at 63 North Main Street at the corner of New City Street and across from busy Grove Street, will be up for sale at a court-ordered, public auction on Saturday, Jan. 25.  The auction will begin at noon and persons wishing to inspect the property beforehand can view it from 10 a.m. on the day of the auction.

A $150 deposit by check will be required from all bidders at the auction.  The checks should be made payable the bidders themselves, and they should be given before the auction to Essex-based Attorney Jeannine M. Wyszkowski, who is conducting the auction.  She will hold the checks until the conclusion of the auction.  Then she will return all checks, except the check of the winning bidder, whose check will be retained.

To answer further questions about the auction, Attorney Wyszkowski can be reached at her law office at 860-767-0195, or by writing her at P.O. Box 393, Essex, CT 06046.  To date Attorney Wyszkowski says there has been “lots of interest” from potential buyers of the property being auctioned.

A number of prospective buyers have told Attorney Wyszkowski that they would renovate the present property on the site, if they had the winning bid.  Others have told her that they would tear down the present building on the site and put up a new one.  In addition, there has been some discussion of turning the property into a public pocket park.

The abandon property up for sale at auction on January 25

The abandoned property up for sale by auction on Jan. 25

How the Auction Will Proceed

As to how the auction will proceed, the bank that presently holds the property may make an opening bid of $130,000, according to Attorney Wyszkowski.  Then, after this sum has been announced, she might ask for a bid of $140,000.  If this bid accepted, and there is no further bidding, that would be the final sale price of the property.  Or, of course, if there were other bids from registered buyers, the bid price could go higher and higher.

Attorney Wyszkowski is confident that the bidding will go smoothly.  “I have done it before,” she says.

Attorney Jean Wyszkowski will conduct auction of slum house on January 25

Attorney Jean Wyszkowski will conduct auction of the derelict house on Jan. 25

 

New Executive Director Has Big Dreams, Plans for Connecticut River Museum

Chris Dobbs, new Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum

Chris Dobbs, new Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum

Imagine if you will, a vintage, side-wheeler steamboat tied up, smartly, at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum. Imagine as well that on given days, this old, classic steamboat carries modern day passengers up and down the Connecticut River on both educational and pleasure cruises.

This is just one of the ambitious dreams held by the Connecticut River Museum’s new Executive Director, Christopher I. Dobbs. (He prefers to be called “Chris.”) Chris Dobbs recently replaced the museum’s former Executive Director, Jerry Roberts.

A resident of Deep River, the 42 year old Dobbs comes to his new post at the Connecticut River Museum after a nine year stint as Executive Director of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society in West Hartford. Prior to that, Dobbs was the Associate Director of Education at the Mystic Seaport Museum of America and the Sea. Dobbs has an M.A. in Museum Studies from the State University College of New York, Cooperstown, New York.

To help him get the Connecticut River Museum’s top job, Dobbs submitted to the search committee an impressive, three paged, single space, small type resume, setting forth his previous experience and multiple accomplishments in the museum field. For example, his resume notes that as head of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, he “Developed and completed $1.2 million capital campaign (raised 20% more than goal).”

Also, noted is that in his previous position he “Acted as the chief fundraiser by working with individual donors, foundations, city government, and State of Connecticut legislatures and agencies, and that he “increased endowment 45%.

"Conversational" billboard entrance to the Museum

“Conversational” billboard entrance to the Museum

It is highly likely that the new Executive Director’s fund raising skills did not go unnoticed by the Connecticut River Museum’s search committee for a new Executive Director. Further evidence of Dobbs, successful fund raising was that he managed and fundraised for a 250th Birthday celebration for his previous employer’s namesake, Noah Webster.

The Dream of a Steamboat Tied Up at Steamboat Dock

In a recent interview Dobbs demonstrated that he is a person who can dream big. For example, he suggested that at some future date the Connecticut River Museum might acquire a fully working, side paddling steamboat. With this historical coincidence in mind, the new steamboat would be docked at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum. In the 19th century the Steamboat Dock was a frequent stop for steamboats operating along the river.

As for the present availability of old steamboats, Dobbs said, “There are some of them still around for sale.” Dobbs asks what could be more appropriate than to have a working steamboat tied up at the Steamboat Dock of the Connecticut River Museum.

This does not mean that the museum’s present sailboat, the “Mary E,” which seasonably carries paying passengers on short cruises up and down the Connecticut River, would be replaced immediately. However, the new Executive Director feels that having a working steamboat at the Steamboat Dock would be uniquely consistent with the Connecticut River Museum’s mission and history.

The unadorned entrance of the Connecticut River Museum

The unadorned entrance of the Connecticut River Museum

This talk of steamboats does not mean that Dobbs is not completely on board in commemorating next year’s 200th anniversary of the 2014 burning of the American ships in Essex by British forces during the war of 1812. However, Dobbs clearly feels that this one-time historic event should not be the principal focus of the Connecticut River Museum.

Tying the Museum to the Entire Connecticut River

Rather, the central mission of the museum in Dobbs’s view is that it should focus on the full length of the Connecticut River. As Dobbs puts it, “This is, after all, the Connecticut River Museum, and, therefore, the entire length of the river from the Canadian border down to the rivers mouth on Long Island Sound is what this museum should be all about.” It should be noted that the Connecticut River is 407 miles long, and that it begins just below the Canadian border and runs down to its mouth on Long Island Sound in Connecticut between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme.

Artist rendering at the Museum of 1814 British attack on Essex

Artist rendering at the Museum of 1814 British attack on Essex

Activities that the museum could sponsor, could be canoe excursions on the upper Connecticut River between Vermont and New Hampshire. In addition, the new Executive Director envisions joining the fight against pollution in the Connecticut River, as well as children’s programs about animal and aquatic life along the Connecticut River, including teaching young and old how “to hold a fish and touch a crab.”

Dodd also raptures that the Connecticut River is, “America’s First Blue Way.” Also, like many environmentalists, he is grateful that the mouth of the Connecticut River between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme “has not been spoiled by development.”

In sum, Chriss Dobbs, the new Executive Director of the Connecticut River Museum, takes a broad and exciting view of his new position. As he puts it, “We are the Connecticut River Museum, and that is the Connecticut River, and that is what we are about.” He continues, “That means that the museum is entwined with the river, every single mile of it.”

 

New $28 Million Medical Center in Westbrook Is on Track to Open in April 2014

The new Westbrook medical center under construction

The new Westbrook medical center under construction

Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook is scheduled to open its doors to receive patients, as early as April 2014.

The Whiting-Turner Construction Company of New Haven is in charge of constructing the new Medical Center in Westbrook. The company estimates that the new facility will be finished by March 2014. Then, it will take much of April 2014 for Middlesex Hospital to furnish the new Center and to install medical equipment.

New Center Can Expand to 60,00 Square Feet

The new Medical Center in Westbrook will initially have 44,000 square feet of working space. However, the Center can be expanded to 60,000 square feet, if it becomes necessary. By contrast the Hospital’s present Medical Center in Essex is just over 20,000 square feet. On an historical note, the Essex facility has provided emergency medical care for shoreline residents for over forty years.

There is still work to do

There is still work to do

The new Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center will be located on Flat Rock Place, which is just off Exit 65 of Interstate I-95. Flat Rock Place is a four-lane access highway, which has the auto dealerships of Honda and Toyota at the bottom end and the Tanger Outlets shopping mall at the top. The new Medical Center will be located half way up Flat Rock Place on the left hand side.

The present medical center in Essex

The present medical center in Essex

When complete, the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook will have, “a whole host of diagnostic and treatment services,” according to hospital sources.  In addition, “radiological services will expand to include a new MRI testing area, and a designated woman’s imaging area.” Also, the new Center in Westbrook will continue to provide 24/7 medical care, and it will have a helipad for emergency helicopter trips, as well as paramedic services.

Advantages of New Westbrook Location

In addition to a large roster of medical services at the new Westbrook facility, there are significant access advantages as well. The new Westbrook center will be conveniently located, just off I-95 at Exit 65.

Also, the new Westport location will permit patients from towns, such as Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Clinton and Guilford, to have direct I-95 Interstate access to the new facility. In addition, the residents of Deep River, Chester and Haddam, via Route 9, will have I-95 Interstate access to the new Center as well.

Although patients from Essex will no longer have their very own medical center right in town; still it will be only be a few extra miles down Route 153 for Essex residents to reach the new Westbrook Center.

Essex’s Downtown Enhancement Project Is Well on Its Way to Completion

The Town of Essex’s, downtown enhancement project is taking major strides towards completion. For the record the formal name for the project is, “The Essex Civic Campus Enhancement Project.”

There are three distinct parts of the enhancement project. They are: 1) a major resurfacing of the Town Hall parking lot, 2) a total rebuilding and reformation of the tennis courts, next to the parking lot, and 3) an extensive reconfiguration of the playground with new play equipment,  next to the tennis courts. The fancy new name for the playground is a “Playscape.”

The New Town Hall Parking Lot

The parking lot, which abuts the rear entrance of Town Hall, will receive a final, top coat of asphalt on Friday, November 8, or Saturday, November 9, depending on the weather. After the final coat of asphalt has been put in place, the parking lot will be re-lined for general parking and for handicap parking.

The New Tennis Courts

The new tennis courts, located behind the town parking lot, are still a work in progress.  Presently, new subsurface materials are being brought in, and being compacted and graded. Also, a new drainage system is being installed, and a new asphalt surface will be put in place as a final step. In addition, the new tennis courts will have brand new fencing.

The cleared and packed site, awaiting the new tennis courts

The cleared and packed site, awaiting the new tennis courts

To conform to the accepted installation practices, new tennis courts should not be painted after October 1. Therefore, the expected date, as to when new courts will be ready for play, will not be until late April, or even early May, of 2014.

The New Playscape (Playground)

A certified installer of the Landscape Structures product line has been retained, and under its direction site preparation and the installation of the borders of the new playground has begun.  When complete, the new playground will have: 1) a new, two to five year old, play section, and 2) a new, five to twelve year old play section.

Excavating a new drainage pipe on the new playground

Excavating a new drainage pipe on the new playground

Also, the finished playground will feature a crawl tunnel, a balancing beam, a climbing boulder, a Supernova spinner and a springing up and down, and back and forth, riding structure. Active work on the playground is presently underway, and the playground should be completed by the end of November, or early December.

Assembled site materials for the new playground

Assembled site materials for the new playground

All of the estimates of work completion noted above are dependent on weather conditions and any necessary changes that the work requires.

The total dollar amount of the STEEP grant to the Town of Essex for these improvements is $471,500.

An Autumn Parade, As the Leaves Turn

The leaves of autumn are a progression. They go from splendid color to the skeletal forms of leafless branches. Here, is what this progression looks like, courtesy of the trees on North Main Street in Essex.

First, there is an autumn tree in full colored splendor

First, there is an autumn tree in full colored splendor

 

Next, there come a tree, just beginning its trip to winter’s leaflessness

Next, there come a tree, just beginning its trip to winter’s leaflessness

And, finally, hardly a single leaf remains, and so the trees will stay until next Spring

And, finally, hardly a single leaf remains, and so the trees will stay until next Spring

 

Rough Seas Cancel Pettipaug Rowing Event

Taking the shells into the water shortly after 7 a.m.

Taking the shells into the water shortly after 7 a.m.

It was just too “doggone” rough on the Connecticut River last Sunday to hold the annual race of rowing shells (or sculls, if you prefer), sponsored by Essex’s Pettipaug Yacht Club. The river had a vicious chop, caused by a strong wind blowing down from the north, and a strong tide coming up from the south.

It was a “perfect storm” scenario for swamping the competing rowing shells. After all, racing shells have only three inches of freeboard above the water line, and on Sunday the waves were up to five and six inches. Clearly, the river was an unsafe place for shells to be.

Taking the shells out of the water shortly thereafter.

Taking the shells out of the water shortly thereafter.

In fact, some the boats that had gone out into the river before the start, where the wind was gusting up to 15 knots, were now coming back swamped to their gunnels. Race Director Paul Fuchs had had enough, and just before the scheduled eight o’clock start, he called off the race.

The would be racers gather for a photo of the race that wasn't.

The would be racers gather for a photo of the race that wasn’t.

After all, John Kennedy, Chairman of Pettipaug Yacht Club’s Races and Regattas Committee, had taken out a U.S. Coast Guard permit to hold the race. Most certainly, this permit had been offered with the understanding that a permitted race should not go forward under unsafe conditions.

Pettipaug Race Ended Shell’s Racing Season

The cancelled regatta at the Pettipaug Yacht Club last Sunday was the last race of a series of races held by a regional shell racing organization. The organization has members from all over New England and Connecticut, including shell rowers from Boston, New Haven and New York.

Thirty-three racing shells with their owners had shown up to participate in the canceled regatta last Sunday. If the race had gone forward, the crews would have rowed two kinds of shells: 1) a two-person shell of 34 feet in length, and 2) a one person shells of 27 feet.

The larger two person shells, if they had raced, would have had been manned by all male crews, all female crews and mixed male and female crews. The smaller, one person shells had both men and women crews. When new, a 34 foot long, racing shell can cost as much as $18,000, and the 27 foot shell, as much as $13,000.

As a footnote to the cancelled Sunday regatta, the Pettipaug Yacht Club had no less than eight, rescue powerboats in the water, ready to fish out swamped shells, if it had become necessary.

As for the race course of the race that was not, it would have stretched over a ten miles. The race would have begun at a starting line, just off the Pettipaug Yacht Club. Then, it would have run north up the Connecticut River, before turning into Selden Creek. The course would have continued around Selden Island, and back into the river. To finish the competing shells would have rowed south down the river to the starting line, where the race began.

Essex’s Needlemen of Two Minds About a Blight Ordinance, Opposes a Neighbor’s Role

"Blighted" property at on North Main Street at New City Street

“Blighted” property at on North Main Street at New City Street

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, in a recent written statement, says in effect that he is ambivalent about Essex adopting a Blight ordinance.  On the other hand he is inequitably opposed to any town ordinance that would permit a neighbor to bring a formal complaint against a neighbor, whose property is “blighted.”

In his statement the First Selectman said, “Blight” speaks to a town, city, or neighborhood, and not an individual property.”  Furthermore, he said, “This ordinance in no way would impact occupied properties and would not be a vehicle where neighbor could complain about neighbors.”

These views by the First Selectman, among others, will be the subject of a public hearing at Essex Town Hall on Wednesday, November 6 at 7:00 p.m.

Continuing in expressing his views as to whether or not Essex should adopt a Blight ordinance, the First Selectman said, “I understand both sides of the issue. My libertarian side feels that these situations come up occasionally and then are resolved in the course of time, so imposing an ordinance might be an overreach. I feel strongly that the rights of property owners should be respected.”

“On the other hand,” he continues, “I understand how people who have been forced to live next door to these long term, dilapidated properties feel, and I understand how the value of their property has been affected.”

Blight Ordinance Not to Affect Existing Situations

In addition in his statement Needleman said, “Unfortunately, a new ordinance would not likely be able to be used for an existing situation.  It would generally affect those situations that occur after the ordinance goes into effect.”

Concluding, the First Selectman said, “I am anxious to hear how the public feels, so I want to encourage as many people as possible to come to the hearing.”

He added, “I suspect that I will have to set some ground rules at the hearing, like giving each person 2 or 3 minutes to speak their mind.”

Essex Top Three Blighted Properties

There is a general consensus that there are three existing properties in Essex that on a reasonable basis could be considered as “blighted.” The most well known of these properties is the one located on North Main Street at the corner of New City Street. A second “blighted” property is located on the left side of Prospect Street, as it comes into North Main Street, and the third such property is located at the end of Captain’s Walk facing the Old Saybrook Turnpike (Route 154).

Side of Captain's Walk property on Old Saybrook Turnpike (Route 154)

Side of Captain’s Walk property on Old Saybrook Turnpike (Route 154)

It appears that the Town of Essex by some small measure has tried to touch up at least two of the “blighted” properties in Essex. The grass appears to have been mowed, although the sidewalk has not been raked of leaves, at the North Main Street/New City Street property.  Also, the grass appears to have been mowed, perhaps by the town, at the “blighted” property located at Captain’s Walk on the Old Saybrook Turnpike.

Entrance to blighted property on Prospect Street at North Main Street

Entrance to blighted property on Prospect Street at North Main Street

Essex Resident Served on Shore Crew of U.S. Winner of Recent America Cup Race

Essex resident Jason Sanstrom holding the American's Cup after the race

Essex resident Jason Sanstrom holding the American’s Cup after the race

Jason Sanstrom, an Essex resident, played an important role in the recent winning of the America Cup by Oracle Team USA. Jason is the son of Sandy Sanstrom, a Member of the Board of Governors of the Pettipaug Yacht Club in Essex.

The younger Sandstrom, 27, is a specialist in the carbon fiber construction of racing sailboats. Because it is lighter and stronger, carbon fiber construction has become the favorite over fiber glass, in the construction racing, sailboat hulls.

The younger Stanstrom worked not only on this year’s American entry in the 34th America Cup Race, he also worked on the American entry in the 33rd America Cup Race. In this year’s final race the America team, Oracle Team USA, beat out the Emirates Team New Zealand by a mere 44 seconds.

To capture the America’s Cup the U.S. team, funded by Larry Ellison, had first to win seven consecutive races in order to catch up with the New Zealand team. In the final race, initially, the New Zealand boat had a 40 meter lead; however, eventually the wind and the tide favored the Americans in going upwind, which enabled them to win.

The entire cup race lasts barely twenty minutes; the boats are so fast in going around the course.

Talk at Essex Meadows on America’s Delayed Entry into World War II

IMG_7401Author Lynne Olson, whose recent book, THOSE ANGRY DAYS, Roosevelt, Lindbergh and American’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941, spells out in unsparing detail the inexcusable long time that it took America to join the fight against imperial Japan, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in World War II.

Olson will speak on this theme at an open public meeting at Essex Meadows on Sunday, September 29 at 3:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Churchill Society, and a voluntary contribution of ten dollars is requested from those attending. Refreshments will be provided by Essex Meadows after author Olson’s talk.

Roosevelt Goes Slow in Going to War

As Olson notes in her book, although Great Britain’s war time leader, Winston Churchill, was literally begging Roosevelt to have America enter the war against Nazi Germany as soon as possible, the President’s  response was to parcel out support for Britain, one slow step at a time. The President’s excuse was that he did not want to get ahead of American public opinion, which he felt at the time did not want to go to war.

In her book Olson also writes how Roosevelt, ever so slowly, doled out aid to Great Britain. America’s first concrete gift was to give the British, 50 American World War I-vintage destroyers.  However, in return for these creaky, old ships, the President required Britain to hand over to the U.S. a number of British bases in the West Indies.

Author Lynne Olson

Author Lynne Olson

Next, there was the American Lend Lease program, in which Roosevelt adopted the fiction that the U.S. was not giving aid to Great Britain but rather simply lending it. Finally, there was the issue of America destroyers protecting convoys of British ships, which were crossing the Atlantic Ocean with much needed aid for Britain.

However, even when an American destroyer was sunk by a German U-boat, as Olson reports, killing 115 Americans crew members, Roosevelt did not protest such a war-provoking attack. In fact, not until Japan’s surprise attack against Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when eight American battleships were sunk, did Roosevelt call upon the Congress to declare war against Japan.

However, the President at the time did not ask the Congress to declare war against Germany or Italy, the two other Axis powers. This meant that for a short period there was speculation that America would only be at war with Japan. However, then on December 11, 1941 Germany and Italy declared war or the U.S., and finally Roosevelt asked the Congress to declare war on them as well.   

Charles Lindbergh, America’s Voice for Peace

As Olson spells out in her book, it is difficult to imagine now, just how popular Charles Lindbergh was after he made the world’s first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.  He was, literally, idolized both in Europe and America. Making him an even more evocative figure was the tragic kidnapping and murder of his young son, Charles, Jr.

After his son’s death, Lindbergh and his wife, Anne, moved to England and France for a number of years. While in Europe Lindbergh became deeply impressed by the Nazi regime of Adolph Hitler.  In fact, in 1938 Lindbergh had become such an unabashed Nazi sympathizer that he accepted the “Service Cross of the German Eagle” from the Hitler regime. The medal was personally presented to Lindbergh by Nazi Luftwaffe chief Herman Goering.

After Lindbergh returned to the United States, he became a much sought after speaker by America peace groups, such as America First. These groups were dead set against America becoming involved in another European war like that of World War I. Even after the fall of France to the Germans, and the relentless bombing of London and other British cities by the Luftwaffe, Lindbergh and his pro-peace allies counseled that the America should not take sides in the European conflict.

However, as Olson notes, Lindbergh finally took a step too far. In a speech in September 1941 in Des Moines, Iowa, he said that American Jews pose a particular “danger to this country,” because of “their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.” This was even too much for the isolationist Chicago Tribune, who in the past had praised Lindbergh for his anti-war activities, and who now repudiated his remarks.

However, for all of Lindbergh’s pro-peace activities, after the U.S. went to war against Japan, Germany and Italy, he totally committed himself to the American cause.  He even flew combat missions as a pilot in the Pacific against the Japanese, and worked on making more effective U.S. war planes, as is duly noted by Olson.

Chester Boy Scout Builds Bridge in Bushy Hill Nature Camp to Qualify for Eagle Scout Rank

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

Tyler R. Johnson, a 17-year old Chester resident, and six year member of the Boy Scouts of America, recently supervised the complete rebuilding of a much needed bridge in the Bush Hill Nature Camp in Ivoryton.

The bridge building project fulfilled for Johnson a necessary requirement for him to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. The new bridge connects the Red Trail to Berry-Berry Island in the Bushy Hill Camp.

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The new bridge is 22 feet in length and three feet wide, and it has new, four foot high, rope railings on both sides. All of the work on the new bridge was supervised by Johnson, who was assisted by 15 or more Boy Scout volunteers.

As a reward for their efforts, the volunteers received “services hours,” which are necessary for their advancement in the ranks of the Boy Scouts.  For Johnson the bridge-building project fulfilled for him the requirement to have an “Eagle Leadership Project” to become an Eagle Scout.

Johnson is a six year member of the Boy Scouts of America, and to reach the rank of Eagle Scout, he had to pass through the ranks of scouting from Tenderfoot to Eagle, with four other ranks in between. In the process Johnson earned 33 different Boy Scout merit badges, ranging from Swimming to Financial Management, from Citizenship to Small Boat Handling.

Commenting on his bridge building project, Johnson said, “I wanted to give back to the [Bushy Hill Nature]camp, which I attended for seven years, and for which I have fond memories.” Johnson also very much wants to have the impressive rank of Eagle Scout on his resume,’ as he searches for a college to attend next year.

Chester's Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

Chester’s Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

Chester Village West, a Luxury Retirement Community on Top of a Hill in Chester

Entry sign of Chester Village West, located on the western boundary of Chester

Entry sign of Chester Village West, located on the western boundary of Chester

To reach Chester Village West come north on Route 9, and then get off at Exit 6. Next, at the bottom of the ramp, take a left on to Route 148, and then drive up what feels like a long, long hill.  As you climb, there is almost nothing but full grown tress along both sides of the road.

Then, suddenly, on your left you see the large sign for Chester Village West. You have now reached a state of the art, fully developed, top of the line, retirement community.

Entrance road into Chester Village West, a meticulously kept retirement community

Entrance road into Chester Village West, a meticulously kept retirement community

Running the show at the retirement community is Executive Director Robert Taylor, who terms Chester Village West, “a premier, senior living community.” There are presently 105 residents at the “community,” tended, and cared for, by a staff of 43.

A key member of the staff at the community is Nurse Navigator Catherine Balliett. She is the “go to” person, whenever a resident has a medical question, which can range all the way from a troublesome hang nail to a worrisome pain in the chest.

The living quarters at Chester Village West consist of 90 apartments and 15 semi-detached houses. The apartments have four layouts, which are: one bedroom, one bedroom with den, two bedrooms, and two bedrooms with den. As for the semi-detached houses, they all have two bedrooms, with a choice of two different layouts plans.

These accommodations, as well as the other amenities at the community, are located on 25 acres of developed land on the western town line of Chester. Abutting the developed acreage, are 25 more acres belonging to Chester Village West, which are wetlands.

The Large Corporate Owner of Chester Village West

Chester Village West is wholly owned by Life Care Services, which has its headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. In total the company owns 17 senior living facilities, including Chester Village West, and it is also the managing partner of 112 other senior living facilities. In total the company has operations in 38 states.

The relevance of this wide experience, says Chester Village West’s Executive Director Bob Taylor, is that when it comes to senior living,  “We perfected it.” Taylor is also not reluctant in comparing his retirement facility in Chester with Essex Meadows in Essex. “We consider Essex Meadows as one of our competitors,” he says.

Taylor’s number one desire for residents at Chester Village West is that he wants all of them to feel that, “This is your home.”

The Array of Services at Chester Village West  

The services that are available at Chester West are truly staggering. They include one meal a day prepared by a, “five star,” Master Chef in the person of Chris Pardue, who even has his own herb garden.  Furthermore, residents are offered not only “gracious” dining with full table service, if they prefer there is “take out” service as well.

In addition to the one table served meal a day at Chester Village West, there is also complementary morning coffee and Danish as well. Also, at the community, residents are provided with: housekeeping services, linen services, scheduled transportation, utilities services, a full-time maintenance staff, lawn and garden care, 24-hour security, a full time Activities Director, shopping services, and a 24-hour Home Health Aide.

Also, the community has a backup generator to use, just in case regular power goes out. “It was a top priority upon my arrival, “says Executive Director Bob Taylor. In addition, Chester Village West is “pet friendly.”

More Features at the Chester Village West

Other attractive features at Chester Village West include: apartments with eat-in kitchens, which have either balconies or patios, and semi-detached houses with garages and fireplaces. Also, on site are an indoor swimming pool, a pub, a library, a music room and theater, a card room, a creative arts room, a beauty shop/barber shop, an exercise room, a greenhouse, and a pond with a gazebo.

In addition, for emergencies there is an emergency response system in each apartment or house, as well as a fire alarm system throughout the facility.

In conclusion, Executive Director Bob Taylor says, “The true value of Chester Village West can only be appreciated by touring the community, walking its many trails, and meeting staff and residents first hand.”

For further information, and for a private guided tour, interested parties can contact Sara Philpott, Marketing Director, Chester Village West, at 860-526-6800.

Essex Meadows to Hold Three Retirement Workshops This Coming Fall

Sign at the entrance of Essex Meadows.

Sign at the entrance of Essex Meadows.

Essex Meadows, which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary, will hold three workshops on retirement options this coming fall. The title of the series is “The Future is Yours – Making the Right Retirement Choices,” and will cover various aspects of retirement planning.

There are several dates for each workshop.  All of the workshops will be held at Essex Meadows, which is located at 30 Bokum Road in Essex.  Each workshops begins at 10 a.m. and is followed by lunch.  These workshops are open to the public, but space is limited to 10 participants per session.  Reservations can be made by contacting Karen Hines at (860) 767-7201, or visiting the website at www.essexmeadows.com.

Workshop 1 is titled “Your Future/Your Options” and attempts to define the various residential and medical retirement options.  Whether your desire is to remain in your current home, downsize, or explore one of the many retirement options available in Connecticut, this retirement workshop can provide you with planning strategies and the tools you need.

Workshop 2 is entitled “Long Term Care Insurance: What you need to know.” This workshop has been designed to review the generic framework of long term care insurance.  Policy holders will learn more about their benefits, elimination periods, and other specifics to help them become more comfortable with policy language and procedure.

Workshop 3 is titled “I’m Ready, What’s Next?” and has been developed for those who are truly ready to take the next step.  This workshop offers guidance if you are at the point where you’ve completed your research, you’ve visited several communities, you’ve found a retirement option that appeals to you and will require a physical move, and now feel almost ready to solidify your retirement plans.  This is truly the nuts and bolts blueprint for organizing the next phase of your retirement lifestyle.

Presenters with Long Experience in the Field

The Presenters at the workshops are Susan Carpenter, who is the Marketing Director of Essex Meadows, and Maureen Campbell, who is the President of Pearce Plus Senior Services.

Ms. Carpenter has over two decades of research and experience in the retirement industry. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and she has done graduate work in gerontology and thanatology (the study of death and dying) at the College of New Rochelle.

Ms. Campbell brings over 29 years of experience working with families in transition. She is a Certified Relocation Professional and a Global Mobility Specialist from the Worldwide Employees Relocation Council. In 2007 she was recognized as one of the Top 20 Business Women by Business Times Magazine.

For more information on the workshops or other special events and lectures, please visit www.essexmeadows.com.  Essex Meadows, where we believe life is anything but retiring.

Old Saybrook Photographer Releases Photo of the Preserve, Which He Helped Save from Development

Lorenz_Preserve_01

Aerial photograph of the undeveloped, forested Preserve courtesy of Robert Lorenz, Lorenz Photography

Old Saybrook resident, Robert Lorenz, has played a leading role in the effort to save to 1,000 acres of forested land from development. Specifically, he has served as the “injured party” in a number of legal actions against those who wanted to developer the Preserve with private homes, golf courses, country clubs, parking lots, and “other improvements.”

The reason that Lorenz has been able to play this role is that he is the co-owner of forty acres of land that abut the Preserve land. This gives him legal “standing” in court to assert that his personal property would be damaged by the various schemes put forward by the would-be private developers of the Preserve.

Lorenz is also a professional photographer, and to mark the recent agreement, whereby the Trust for Public Land will organized the purchase of the 1,000 acre Preserve property from River Sound Development, LLC, upon payment of $10-$11 million, he has made available for publication a striking aerial photograph of the undeveloped, forested Preserve.

In the aerial photograph that Lorenz took the general parameters of the Preserve can be made out. They include:

1) Very clearly, running along the bottom of the photograph one can see Route 153, sometimes called Plains Road and Westbrook Road. The vacant, forested land pictured above Route 153 marks the northern boundary of the Preserve.

2) As for the southern boundary of the Preserve property, it runs at the top of the photo, just below visible line developed property along the shoreline of Long Island Sound.

3) Very clear as well at the top left of the photo is the mouth of the Connecticut River, as flows into Long Island Sound.

4) Finally, in the midst of the forested land in the photo, there are two parallel lines, which are abandoned railroad tracks.

New York City Developer Sells First Building Lot on Foxboro Point Site for $1,125,000

Close up of the construction of the new house on Lot 1

Close up of the construction of the new house on Lot 1

Prominent New York City New York City developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr., has sold the first lot on his 11.4 acre development site at Foxboro Point in Essex.  The lot is on the last significant, large open space on the waterfront in Essex. The price paid for this Lot 1 was $1,125,000 for the land alone. The cost of a house at 19 River View Street will be additional.

Construction site at Lot 1, which cost $1,125,000 for the land alone

Construction site at Lot 1, which cost $1,125,000 for the land alone

Developer Sciame said in a statement, “We are pleased with the sale of our first lot at the Foxboro Point development site. It substantiates our belief that our development on the Essex waterfront will be a great success.”

Sciame’s Foxboro Point development property consists of eight building lots, which curve around Foxboro Point, facing the waters of North Cove. The centerpiece of the development is the Croft Mansion. Among the other lots is for sale is the one that contains Foxboro Point’s iconic windmill.

The iconic windmill on the site will be built with new living quarters

The iconic windmill on the site will be built with new living quarters

Work Going Forward on Other Parcels

In addition to the sale of Lot 1, which is located at the far right end of the development site facing North Cove, the developer is offering Lot 2 as a package consisting of a “build-to-suit” house and the grounds around it. The estimated sale price is $3,000,000 for the house and grounds at 21 River View Street.

The “New Insides” of the Croft Mansion

Developer Sciame has also embarked on a total renovation of the Croft Mansion, which has largest lot in the development with 1.5 acres. The renovations of Croft Mansion will include a new, open floor plan featuring a new open kitchen and open living and dining areas as well. In addition, the grand staircase of the mansion will be enlarged to permit sun light to filter down from the third floor to the first floor.

The Croft Mansion, the center piece of the new development on Foxboro Point

The Croft Mansion, the center piece of the new development on Foxboro Point

Other renovations will include: 1) the installation of new mechanical systems, 2) new windows throughout, 3) new bathrooms, and 4) a new state of the art kitchen with all new appliances. The asking price for the renovated Croft Mansion and the land, which has sweeping views of the waters of North Cove, will be in the neighborhood of $3,500,000.

In addition, there is an option of adding an additional building lot that would accommodate a swimming pool, which would raise the price to $4,900,000.

Finally, Sciame’s plans for Foxboro Point will include putting the Windmill site up for sale. The developer says that the site is large enough to accommodate a livable residence. Sciame asking price for both the windmill and its grounds is $1,950,000.

During the lengthy approval process before the Essex Planning Commission, many Essex residents expressed their approval of the new development at Foxboro Point, noting that it would add new real estate taxes to the Town of Essex.

However, one Essex resident, William Reichenbach, who lives on New City Street in Essex, charged that the Commission had neglected the town’s own open space and public access regulations in approving the application. The Commission did not accept this argument.

There was also a brief discussion by the Commission about requiring the developer to build a pedestrian path, running from Foxboro Road down to the waters of North Cove. However, a view easement was approved from the road to the water instead.

State’s Open Meetings Law Violated

The vote by Planning Commission members to approve the project was by a secret ballot, which appeared to violate the state’s Open Meeting Law. However, an objection to the secret vote was not made in a timely manner, so the vote was valid.

In a concluding statement developer Sciame noted, “There is a border along the waters of North Cove, as well as a view easement to protect water views. Together, these protected lands occupy 3.63 acres, or 30% of the [development] property.”

Local Westbrook Painter, Jeffry Sabol, is in the Big Leagues Among Maritime Artists

Finishing a painting of Bar Harbor, Maine. Ships in the cove will be added.

Finishing a painting of Bar Harbor, Maine. Ships in the cove will be added.

Jeffrey Sabol is a nationally recognized painter of maritime subjects. As a Signature Member of the prestigious American Society of Marine Artists, he has exhibited in Museum Shows around the country, sponsored by the Society.  His paintings have been featured at leading maritime art galleries, including Art of the Sea Gallery in South Thomaston, Maine; Art Expo in New York City; Sheldon Fine Arts Gallery in Newport, RI, and closer to home, the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport.

Sabol’s striking portrayals of sailboats, quietly anchored amidst shimmering shadows of light, can be viewed, and purchased, at any of these locations in addition to Fresh Ayer Gallery in Old Lyme, adjacent to the Hideaway Restaurant; Art Essex on Main Street in Essex, and Blue Moon Artisans in Guilford.

A typical Sabol painting of a sailboats at anchor with reflections quivering on the water

A typical Sabol painting of a sailboats at anchor with reflections quivering on the water

The artist also periodically shows his superb nautical paintings by appointment at his studio.  Visit his website: www.jeffreysabol.com for further information. Interestingly, the previous owner of Sabol’s house was a fisherman who sold “live” lobsters out the back, which in a sense is nautical too!

Sabol Started Out Using Oil Paint

Sabol says that when he started painting seascapes, he used oil paints to create his paintings. However, he soon learned that, “Oils take too long to dry,” noting that, “it can take days and even weeks.” Now he has switched to acrylic paint, and he uses it exclusively in creating his pictures. As for acrylic paint he says, “It takes 15 minutes to dry.”

The use of quick drying acrylic paint is now basic to Sabol’s painting process. Quick drying acrylic paint allows him to add layer after of layer of clear and tinted surfaces to his paintings. These surfaces, one on top of the other, enhance the paintings, giving them a greater depth and sheen.

Positive and Negative Spaces in a Painting

Sabol points out that in painting a group of ships at anchor, a favorite topic of his, that there are both positive and negative spaces in the painting. “The positive spaces are those which hold the subject of the picture,” such as ships at anchor, he says.

The negative spaces are the empty parts of the painting, above and below the ships, which can be used to enhance and heighten the items in the positive spaces. Glimmering light, flickering over waves below the ships’ hulls, is an example of the use of negative space, contributing to the positive space of the ships themselves.

As Sabol puts it, “The negative space in a painting is used to bring out the positive space, which is the subject of the picture.” He also says, “I concentrate on reflections in my paintings,” which of course fill in the negative spaces of his paintings.

Sabol’s Path to Painting

Mr. Sabol did not start out as maritime painter. After abandoning an effort to become an architect “because there was just too much sitting,” he made his living as a commercial fisherman and long liner.  After one too many storms at sea, he decided it was safer to ‘paint’ the sea, rather than ‘fish’ it.   He is grateful now for his steady position on his artist’s stool doing what he loves most.  Jeff gets much of his inspiration sailing with his wife in the coastal waters of New England on their Islander sailboat, which they keep in Noank.

Having a final word, Sabol’s wife, Janice, has this to say. “I never have to decorate the walls of our house,” she says. “It’s like living in a gallery and it’s always changing.”

Sabol's wife, Janice Quinn, and the artist Sabol with a work in progress in background

Sabol’s wife, Janice Quinn, and the artist Sabol with a work in progress in background

Before You Know It, There Will Be Two Emergency Medical Centers Off I-95

The management team directing the construction of new Westbrook center (l to r) Tim Know, Project Manager, Whiting-Turner Construction; Jack Xenelis, Xenelis Construction; Noel Bishop, Westbrook First Selectman; David Giuffrida, PE, Vice President, Middlesex Hospital; and Harry Evert, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Operations, Middlesex Hospital.

The management team directing the construction of new Westbrook medical center (l to r) Tim Know, Project Manager, Whiting-Turner Construction; Jack Xenelis, Xenelis Construction; Noel Bishop, Westbrook First Selectman; David Giuffrida, PE, Vice President, Middlesex Hospital; and Harry Evert, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Operations, Middlesex Hospital.

There are now two emergency medical centers along the shoreline. One is the “grand daddy of them all,” the emergency medical center in Essex operated by Middlesex Hospital. This medical center has been serving emergency medical patients from its Essex location since 1975.

The second emergency medical center on the shoreline is located in Guilford off I-95 at Exit 59. It is operated by Yale New Haven Hospital, and it opened in 2004.

The Good Old Days for the Essex Medical Center

For decades the emergency medical center in Essex had the shoreline emergency medical center practice pretty much to itself. Patients from Old Lyme to as far as Branford, and all towns in between, had only one choice for emergency medical care, and that was in Essex.

The present Emergency Medical Center in Essex

The present Emergency Medical Center in Essex

However, after the Guilford center opened in 2004, many Essex patients, especially those from the towns of Branford, Guilford, Madison, Clinton and Westbrook, had a new alternative. That was the Guilford medical center, which is just off I-95 at Exit 59.

The entrance of the Emergency Medical Center in Guilford

The entrance of the Emergency Medical Center in Guilford

Certainly, it is quicker and easier for residents of these towns to go to the Guilford medical center along I-95 than to go to Essex, whose medical center is reachable only by a twisting local road, three miles down from I-95.

Middlesex Hospital Fights Back

However, Middlesex Hospital could see the handwriting on the wall. It soon realized that an emergency medical center located right off I-95 was bound to attract more emergency medical patients than one several miles away from the Interstate.

Wall poster in the Essex Medical Center showing its future center in Westbrook

Wall poster in the Essex Medical Center showing its future center in Westbrook

So Middlesex Hospital, under the leadership of Executive Vice President Harry Evert, committed itself to building a new emergency medical center in Westbrook, just a short distance from Exit 65 off I-95. It is now being constructed on an expedited basis and is scheduled to open in April 2014.

Although Middlesex Hospital’s new emergency medical center will not be located quite as close to I-95 as the Guilford medical center, there are attractive expansion possibilities at the largely vacant Westbrook site, which are a plus.

Working weekends to complete construction of new Westbrook medical center

Working weekends to complete construction of new Westbrook medical center

Who Invented the Emergency Medical Center Concept?

If you listen to Middlesex Hospital’s plain spoken, Executive Vice President Evert, it was Middlesex Hospital that first developed the idea of building an emergency medical center to serve shoreline communities away from the sponsoring hospital.

Evert says, bluntly, referring to Yale New Haven Hospital’s emergency medical center in Guilford, “They were copying us.”  True enough, Yale New Haven Hospital, by building an emergency medical center in Guilford, may well have been “copying” the success of Middlesex Hospital’s emergency medical center in Essex.

However, it is equally true that Middlesex Hospital is now “copying” the concept of the Yale New Haven Hospital, which is to place its new emergency medical center close to an exit off I-95.

Both Hospitals and Patients Are the Winners

Both the two hospitals, as well their shoreline patients, are the winners in this matter. In fact, the only real losers are the residents of Essex. They will soon lose having a major medical care facility right in town.

Furthermore, Essex residents in the future could also lose local access to the physicians’ offices, Middlesex Hospital’s physical therapy center, and other hospital related facilities, which are now clustered around the Essex facility. Although some Essex residents decry the emergency center’s moving out of town, clearly, there is no turning back.

The bottom line is that the shoreline will have by spring of next year two, 24 hour, seven days a week, emergency medical centers, and both  will have easy access from I-95.

The Pratt House, A Treasure Trove of Essex History

Pratt House on West Avenue is the third house down from Essex Town Hall

Pratt House on West Avenue is the third house down from Essex Town Hall

Essex residents, as well as other local history buffs, owe it to themselves to visit the Pratt House, an authentic survivor of over 300 years of local history.  Located directly on West Avenue, three doors down from Essex Town Hall, the Pratt House has ample space for parking on its spacious side lawn.

Furthermore, admission to the Pratt House is free, as are the lectures of knowledgeable docents, who are on hand to enhance the visitor’s experience.

Co-Docent Coordinators (l to r), Mary Ann Pleva and Bette Taylor

Co-Docent Coordinators (r to l), Mary Ann Pleva and Bette Taylor

The Pratt House is open to visitors from the months of June to September, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Also, private appointments to see the Pratt House can be arranged by calling 860-767-0681

The Pratt House Through the Years

The Pratt family’s connection with the Town of Essex began in 1648 when William Pratt came down from Hartford to survey vacant land in an area that was called Potapoug. Potapoug at the time encompassed what are now the towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester.

William Pratt was born in England, and he came to the American colonies in 1637 to serve as a lieutenant in the Pequot War, which was being waged against the Pequot Indians. After the war William Pratt decided to stay in the colonies, and he, ultimately, moved to the Saybrook Colony and became a farmer.

William Pratt’s genealogy continues with the birth of his son, John Pratt, who when he grew up, became the first in a long line of blacksmiths in the Saybrook colony. John Pratt also bought land that was to become a part of Essex, and he deeded this land on his death to his own son, John Pratt, Jr.

In 1701 John Pratt, Jr., built the first homestead on the property that his father had given him, and this property is now the site of the present day Pratt House.

Additions to the original 1701 structure were made by members of the Pratt family in 1732 and 1750, and the final structure of the Pratt House, as it is today, was completed in 1800.

In 1852 the Town of Essex was jurisdictionally severed from Old Saybrook and  was incorporated as its own town, according to a State of Connecticut plaque in Essex’ Main Street town park. This meant that Essex was no longer under the town government of Old Saybrook.

Pratt Family Had Many Occupations 

Throughout the years the owners of the Pratt House besides being blacksmiths also became, “farmers, soldiers, ship captains and a manufacturer,” according to Essex Historical Society materials.

Old four poster bed, note the chamber pot

Old four poster bed, note the chamber pot

Then in 1915 members of the Pratt family sold the Pratt House to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Griswold. However, in a sense the house still remained in the Pratt family, because Mrs. Griswold’s maiden name was Susannah Pratt, whose father was Elias Pratt.

An original fireplace at Pratt House that at one time provided the only heat

An original fireplace at Pratt House that at one time provided the only heat

After the Pratt House property had been purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Griswold, the main house was converted into a rental property with individual rooms in the house being rented out to various tenants.

Next in 1953 the Pratt House was willed to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, which turned it into a museum. Then, In 1985 ownership of the property was transferred to the successor organization, the Essex Historical Society.

The Pratt House Today

The furnishings in the present day Pratt House, according to Pratt House materials, “reflect a mixture of styles, including William and Mary, Queen Ann, Chippendale and Hepplewhite. None of the furnishings are original to the house but are similar to items listed in Pratt family inventories.”

Continuing, it is noted that, “Functional furniture would have been kept in the family and handed down from one generation to the next, so it is in keeping with the family’s actions that rooms are furnished in more than one style of furniture.”

In addition to the Pratt House’s museum space, there is a private renter in the back portion of the building. On the property  there is also a  reconstructed barn which holds materials belonging to the Essex Historical Society. Finally, way in the back of the two acre property, there is an old fashioned outhouse building, still standing.

Pratt House visitors, Ann Good, Oakland, CA; Patti Klaje, Hamden, CT; and Kristen Pallord, Houston, TX

Pratt House visitors, Ann Good, Oakland, CA; Patti Klaje, Hamden, CT; and Kristen Pallord, Houston, TX