October 25, 2016

Op-Ed: Lawn Signs, Lawn Signs Everywhere … Well, in Essex Anyway

Art_Linares_lawn_signsNeedleman_lawn_signsThey are all over the place, one after another, in the small Connecticut River town of Essex. It seems that almost every lawn in town is now covered by a flood of political lawn signs, and in this author’s unscientific survey, the most prolific are those supporting the re-election of incumbent Republican State Senator Art Linares.

Linares has served two terms in the state senate, and is now seeking a third. Challenging Linares for the state senate position is Norman Needleman, a successful businessman, who is also the first selectman of the town of Essex.

Political lawn signs in Essex are often posted in clusters of campaign signs of the candidates of the same political party. Among the lawn signs in Essex, there are also some for Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for President of the United States, and, frequently, the lawn signs of the other Republican candidates are posted around those for Trump.   

Not a Single Sign for Hillary?

Presently, there appears not to be a single lawn sign in Essex supporting the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Party’s candidate for President. Perhaps the Clinton campaign feels that putting up lawn signs for her campaign in the little town of Essex is simply not worth the effort.                                 

Art_Linares_lawn_signThe largest Linares campaign sign is the one across the street from the Colonial Market in Essex. This sign is on the left hand side of the road, when going out of town from the south on Rte. 153. The dimensions of this sign would likely exceed the size of a very large kitchen table.

As for the lawn signs supporting Needleman, his medium size lawn signs are posted all over downtown Essex. Also, interestingly, Needleman lawn signs do not use his last name but rather his nickname, “Norm,” is favored. 

When Election Day finally does come, it will leave behind a plethora of campaign signs — in past elections, the winners and losers of both parties have picked up and thrown away their old lawn signs.

Norm Needleman lawn_signIt is certainly hoped that after this year’s election, the supporters of both parties will do the same, unless, of course, the unpredictable Trump decides to leave his presidential campaign signs in place … as a sort of punishment for the voters who voted against him! 

What would happen if Trump loses, and as he is currently threatening, simply rejects his loss by maintaining that it had been rigged, and that he and not Clinton, were the real winner? One can hardly imagine what kind of chaos would follow. In fact, it appears Trump is already encouraging his supporters not to accept his potential loss by engaging in protests.

If Trump does lose the election, hopefully, he will accept the result of the vote. It goes without question that the remaining candidates, such as Linares and Needleman, will accept the voter’s decision, win or lose. 

As for Trump, he appears to march to his own drum, and if he loses, he might make a howl, regardless of the damage that this kind of conduct would do to the tradition of peaceful democratic election in the United States. Clinton, like her predecessors for generations, can be counted on to accept the result, whether victory or defeat, consistent with this country’s long tradition of free elections in a democratic nation. 


High Praise Indeed: New York Times Gives “Marley’s Cafe” in Essex a Favorable Review

Editor’s Note: The article discussed in this piece is titled, ‘Review: Marley’s Cafe Is a Sweet Spot With a Reggae Soundtrack’ and was written by Sarah Gold.  It was published in the New York Times on Sunday, Aug. 7, and also on nytimes.com on Friday, Aug. 5.  The article can be found at this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/nyregion/review-marleys-cafe-is-a-sweet-spot-with-a-reggae-soundtrack.html?_r=0

The New York Times customarily focuses its restaurant reviews on high end, Manhattan restaurants, featuring meals that can cost $100 or more.  However, in Sunday’s print edition on Aug. 7 and also published on www.nytimes.com on Aug. 5 at this link , Times food critic Sarah Gold took a look at “Marley’s Café,” a tiny, outdoor restaurant on a man-made island just off the coast of Essex.

Under the headline, “A Sweet Spot With a Reggae Soundtrack,” Gold devoted a full half page of the Sunday New York Times newspaper to the 12-year-old, “Marley’s Café.”  The article was illustrated with three photographs, featuring the front view of the restaurant, and two photos of favorite dishes.

In her review, Gold speaks of, “an indelible impression of the experience: the company I kept, the environment we shared,” noting further that, “For 12 years, Marley’s Café, in Essex, has been delivering just this sort of meal to locals and summer visitors.”

Gold sums up the café in the words,”Fine dining it ain’t, but the restaurant … is … a uniquely wonderful place to [in the words of Bob Marley after whom the restaurant is named] “get together and feel all right.””

Jeff’ Odekerken and his wife, Claudia, share much of the management of the restaurant.

The Times article gave the restaurant a “Good” rating, and the reviewer especially liked the Jamaican burger, and the evening appetizer of steamed, Prince Edward Island mussels. At lunch and dinner, sandwiches, soups and salads cost $7 to $16. Entrees in the evening run from $20 to $30.

In this author’s opinion, Marley’s is the best outdoor dining experience that the historic town of Essex has to offer. Also, the combination of good food and island isolation can equal — or even surpass — the squeeze that customers often feel in big city restaurant.


Pettipaug Sailing Academy on “Day One”

Getting the boats in the water at the Pettipaug Yacht Club.

Preparing the boats for entry into the water at the Pettipaug Yacht Club.

ESSEX — Monday, June 27, was the opening day of the sailing classes at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy in Essex. When the sailing classes began, there was no waiting around for talks on dry land. Rather almost immediately the student sailors were ordered to get in their boats, and start sailing around on the Connecticut River.

The weather was perfect for the young, and many inexperienced sailors. There was a steady breeze over the water, but a not too heavy one. Also, the sometimes blazing sun was hidden behind thick clouds. It was perfect sailing weather for the 55 sailing students to take a three-hour class to learn how to sail.

And then, the crews of three to a boat students climb on board,

And then, the crews of three to a boat students climbed on board …

And everything was set and ready to go,

Then everything was set and ready to go …

... for sailing out on the waters of the Connecticut River.

… for sailing out on the waters of the Connecticut River.


In 33rd CT Senate District, Incumbent Linares, Challenger Needleman State Their Respective Cases

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd)

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd)

AREAWIDE — In a recent fund raising e-mail message, State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) stated his case for re-election for a third term in this November’s general election.

He said, “Over the past two years, we have taken on the big spenders, as well as those who believe that temporary cuts are the way to deal with the budget up in Hartford. I stood up and voted against a budget that called for quick one time solutions, which would continue to be a burden on the citizens of our state.”

Linares continued, “I will not stop making the argument that in order to solve our fiscal problems, we need a real structural change to how we spend our tax payer dollars. We also need to put forth policies that promote a business friendly environment, so that those who create jobs have an opportunity to do so.”

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman

Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District, Norman Needleman

When asked to comment on his qualifications as a State Senator, Norman Needleman, the Democratic candidate opposing Senator Linares, wrote, “As a local business owner for over 30 years and a first selectman for almost five years, I know how we can get Hartford to work better for our businesses and towns. I’m running for state Senate to change how state government budgets and operates. I will be a Senator who finds real solutions to Connecticut’s fiscal problems.”

The extensive 33rd State Senate district, where the Linares-Needleman race will take place, comprises the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, Westbrook and portions of Old Saybrook.


Old Saybrook Seeks to Upgrade Rte. 1 East with Clean-Up as a First Step

Blighted property on “Mariner’s Way.” Investigation of clean-up is underway. Photo by J. Wilson.

Blighted property on “Mariner’s Way” in Old Saybrook. Investigation of clean-up is currently underway. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

On Sept. 22, 2014, the Town of Old Saybrook received a $155,000 “brownfield assessment grant” from Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development. The grant was designed “to support an investigation of potential pollutants on nine properties centrally located on Route 1 (Boston Post Rd.), also known as Mariner’s Way.”

This area of Rte. 1, between the town center and Ferry Point, presently contains a mix of active land use, including gasoline stations, car washes, boat sales and automotive dealers, as well as the overgrown, vacant and abandoned properties subject to the 2014 grant for investigation.

On the receipt of the State grant, Old Saybrook’s First Selectman, Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., said, “We will use this grant to identify any existing contamination in the soils, or in existing buildings, and, if needed, create a remedial action plan.” The investigation of what need there may be for eventual clean-up of the sites, under this second grant, is in progress. The grant specified that the results from the investigation would be expected in the spring of 2017.

Second Grant on May 11, 2016

On May 11, 2016, the Town received a second grant of $220,000, this one for the purpose of the greater “brownfield areawide revitalization” effort for this eastern portion of the Rte. 1 corridor.

The Town’s plan for redevelopment of Mariner’s Way. Photo by J. Wilson.

The Town’s plan for redevelopment of Mariner’s Way. Photo by J. Wilson.

In 2014, the Town adopted a study by a special committee of Rte. 1 East as a section of its Town Plan and now distributes it for the purpose of informing the public as to the necessity of these grants. The full-color, 24-page booklet is entitled, “Mariner’s Way – Gateway to Connecticut River Recreation.” The booklet was subtitled, “A vision to improve Route 1 East connector in Old Saybrook between Saybrook Junction’s Town Center, and Ferry Point’s Marina District.”

The goal of the work under this second grant is to hone the design details of the physical aspects of the Mariner’s Way planning project “to redevelop the easternmost corridor of Route 1 (Mariner’s Way) into a boulevard of reinvigorated marine and recreation uses.”  The Town hopes to further its “branding” of the area as Mariner’s Way.

Adding the two state grants together, the Town of Old Saybrook has received a total of $375,000 for implementing the “Mariner’s Way” plan of development.


Courcy Assumes Leadership of Pettipaug Sailing Academy from the Late Paul Risseeuw

Ann Courcy, Director, Pettipaug Sailing Academy, in front of club house.

Ann Courcy, Director, Pettipaug Sailing Academy, in front of club house.

Ann Courcy, the new Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, has now officially taken the place of the long serving Paul Risseeuw, who passed away last fall. In taking the helm of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, Courcy will be in full charge of the club’s 2016 sailing program for young sailors.

As is the custom, the Pettipaug Sailing Academy this summer will have two sessions. The first session will run from June 27 to July 15, and the second from July 25 to Aug. 12. Each session will also have morning and afternoon programs for differing age groups.

In assuming the leadership of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, Courcy emphasized that she could not do the job without the help of the half dozen sailing instructors, who will assist her. Courcy also promised that she was, “going to build a team that would keep in place the sailing instruction practices, as when Paul was in charge.”

Courcy also pointed out that, “Learning to sail can have a positive impact on the lives of young sailors.” Furthermore, she said that it is her intention to know the names of each of the young sailors, who are attending this year’s sessions at the Academy.

As for the boats that will be used this year at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, they will include a new 12 foot Bauer sloop, as well as traditional 420s, Blue Jays, Optis and windsurfers. Added this year as well will be Opti rowboats.

STEM Education Series to Be Taught

Courcy also said that students at the Academy will receive guidance from the   U.S. Science Technology and Engineering Math materials, which she said were, “very much in line with those of Paul’s in the blending of instructors with the playing by the kids.”

Importantly, Courcy also noted that even in this modern world of communication, Academy students cannot take their “I phones” during instruction periods, while sailing on the waters off the Pettipaug Yacht Club. (This may cause withdrawal systems for some of the Academy students.)

A special event at this year’s Sailing Academy season will be the, “Paul Risseeuw Memorial Race.” Also, there will be movie nights for sailors and their families during the Sailing Academy season at the clubhouse. Then, finally when the sailing season ends for the young sailors, there will be a final grand picnic on a downriver island in the Connecticut River for all of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy student sailors to attend.


Women’s Sailing Group at Pettipaug Yacht Club Begins Sailing Season June 14

The launching pier for the sailboats of the Women’s Sailing Group

The launching pier for the sailboats of the Women’s Sailing Group

The Women’s Sailing Group of the Pettipaug Yacht Club will begin its sailing season on Tuesday, June 14, between 5:30 and 6 p.m. at the club house on the Connecticut River in Essex. Since there will be actual sailing races in the waters off the club house at this time, those participating should bring with them: a PDF floating vest, a bottle of drinking water, high quality boat shoes and a dish of good food that can be to be shared with others.

It should be noted as well that women of all ages and all degrees of sailing skills are welcome to participate in the sailing races of the Women’s Sailing Group of the Pettipaug Yacht Club.

This sign welcomes Pettipaug Yacht Club members and visitors to the site of Woman’s Sailing Group.

This sign welcomes members and visitors to the Pettipaug Yacht Club.

To participate in the Women’s Sailing Group races, it is necessary to be a member of the Pettipaug Yacht Club. The club’s Membership Chairperson, Laura Nunno, will be on hand on June 14 to sign up new club members.

Also, non-members of the club can participate in the races on a one time basis, provided they sign a waiver to the effect that the club will not be responsible for any injuries that they might incur at the club’s races.

There is a $25 fee for participating in the races of the Women’s Sailing Group. Men are not allowed to participate except as spectators.

Further questions about the Women’s Sailing Group races can be sent by e-mail to probinson02@snet.net or by calling 860-526-2775.


Wilson to Read Selection of Shakespeare’s Sonnets at Old Saybrook Library Tonight

William Shakespeare, 4/23/1564 – 4/23/1616

William Shakespeare, 4/23/1564 – 4/23/1616

OLD SAYBROOK — A reading and discussion of nine sonnets by William Shakespeare will be held at the Acton Library in Old Saybrook on Thursday, May 19, at 7 p.m.  The public is invited to attend and participate in the reading, which will be moderated by Jerome Wilson, ValleyNewsNow.com contributor and a lifetime lover of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Shakespeare is much in the news on both sides of the Atlantic this year since it was the 400th anniversary of his death on April 23, 1616.  Interestingly, it is widely believed that he was born 52 years previously in 1564, also on on April 23.  His date of birth is not a certainty simply because there is no record of his birth, but his baptism in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England, was recorded on April 26, 1564.  In the sixteenth century, baptism generally took place a few days after the actual birth, so scholars acknowledge April 23, 1564 as Shakespeare’s date of birth.

There was a full page article on Shakespeare in the the New York Times on April 23, 2016, and similarly, there have been numerous celebrations of the 400th anniversary of his death in the United Kingdom.  Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 — one of his most famous and many would say, most beautiful — will be among the sonnets read and discussed at the reading. It begins:
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,
Thou art more lovely and more temperate,
Rough winds do shake the darling bud of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;

Also, included in the reading will be Sonnet 116, which begins:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when its alteration finds,
Or bends to the remover to remove.

Nine sonnets by Shakespeare will be read and discussed at the reading.  At the reading, Wilson will first read the selected sonnet in full.  Next, there will be a general discussion by those attending regarding the sonnet just read. Then, Wilson will once again read the full sonnet.

Copies of the nine sonnets that will be read and discussed at the reading are  available at the Old Saybrook library, and those attending can bring their copies of the sonnets with them to the discussion.

In total, Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets in his lifetime, not to his mention tragedies, comedies and histories. The sonnets that will be discussed at the Old Lyme library meeting on May 19 will be: 2, 18, 30, 33, 73, 106, 116, 130 and 138.


Essex First Selectman Needleman to Declare State Senate Candidacy Today, Challenging Linares

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman

ESSEX — Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (D) will announce his candidacy for the 33rd State Senate District at a press conference to be held Tuesday, May 3, at 5 p.m. in the Gelston House in East Haddam.

Needleman, a Democrat who is currently serving his third two-year term as Essex First Selectman, will challenge incumbent Art Linares (R), who is completing his second two-year term as 33rd District State Senator and is running for a third term. Linares is Assistant Minority Leader of the state senate.

Apart from Chester, Deep River, Essex and Old Saybrook, the 33rd senate district includes the towns of Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Lyme, Portland and Westbrook.


Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna Chastises Both Parties for Current Budget Mess 

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna. Photo from LinkedIn.com

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna. Photo from LinkedIn.com

In an exclusive interview with Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Jr., on May 2, Fortuna, a Republican, castigated the leadership of both parties for putting the state of Connecticut, “into a budgetary mess.” Fortuna expressed particular alarm that the state’s budgetary shortfall will be over $1.5 billion, “and that’s for this year alone,” he stressed.

“That is $1.5 million,” Fortuna repeated.

Furthermore, Fortuna said that in the next two years, the state’s budgetary shortfall would reach over $4 billion. He commented that a contributing factor to the state budget’s shortfall is, “Retired civil servants are living longer and longer.”


Despite Significant Increase in State Taxes for Middlesex Hospital, Steps Taken to Ensure Patient Care Not Adversely Affected

Front view of Middlesex Hospital's Shoreline Medical Center at Westbrook.

Middlesex Hospital’s recently opened Shoreline Medical Center at Westbrook.

The question of increased taxes due by Connecticut hospitals to the state has been much in the news recently. ValleyNewsNow.com therefore asked Peg Arico, Director of Public Rations and Communications at Middlesex Hospital (which also operates the Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook) to comment on the impact to the hospital of these tax increases along with cuts in state aid.

She responded, “As a result of the increases in hospital taxes approved by the governor and the state legislature for fiscal year 2016, Middlesex Hospital will pay the state approximately $21 million this year in taxes, compared to $14 million in 2015.” Arico continued, “As part of this tax process, this year’s state budget provided for supplemental payments to Middlesex Hospital of about $6 million. The governor cut these payments to zero back in September. However, recently the state legislature voted to reinstate about half of his funding.”

“Despite the negative impact of all of these changes,” Arico noted, “the hospital has managed to maintain a positive operating gain so far this year, but its operating performance has declined significantly. Hospitals throughout the state are experiencing similar financial issues, due to the enormous increase in hospital taxes imposed by the state.” She continued, “Even before the recent increase in taxes by the state, Middlesex Hospital, for the past several years, has been proactive in its fiscal management and has been implementing various measures to improve the efficiency its operations.  Providing high quality and safe patient care to the community is the Hospital’s primary mission. In developing strategies to address the impact of these increased state taxes, Middlesex Hospital has taken careful and deliberate steps to ensure that patient care will not be negatively affected.”

Arico concluded, “In essence, Middlesex Hospital, like hospitals throughout the state, is ‘doing more with less.’ However, Middlesex is now quickly approaching a “tipping point.” At the current time, all Connecticut hospitals have fewer resources available to invest in the future. If the state imposes additional tax increases on hospitals, the impact on Middlesex Hospital’s finances will become increasingly challenged, and will likely necessitate more drastic cost-cutting measures.”


Essex’s Medical Center Closed Almost Two Years Ago, Plans for Empty Building Not Yet Determined

Middlesex Hospital closed its medical facility in Essex on April 28, 2014, and the property has been vacant ever since.

Middlesex Hospital closed its medical facility in Essex on April 28, 2014, and the property has been vacant ever since.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

It has now been almost two years — April 28, 2014 to be precise — since Middlesex Hospital closed its medical center in Essex. For the present, however, according to Middlesex Hospital’s Director of Public Relations, Peg Arico, there are no specific plans by the hospital regarding the future of the shuttered facility.

Signs threatening prosecution for trespassers stand on the grounds of Middlesex Hospital’s former medical center in Essex.

Signs threatening prosecution for trespassers stand on the grounds of Middlesex Hospital’s former medical center in Essex.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said in a separate interview that he had learned that Middlesex Hospital had retained an “outside consultant” to explore options for its unused hospital facility in Essex where ‘No Trespassing’ signs stand at the perimeter of the site.       

Some Essex residents have expressed the hope that Middlesex Hospital will soon decide what to do with the unused property noting that the “No Trespassing” signs on Westbrook Rd. are not an especially pleasant way to welcome visitors entering historic Essex.

At the same time, Middlesex Hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center patient care facilities in Westbrook, which replaced the Essex clinic, have, in general, been very well received by Essex residents.


Essex’s Popular Village Provision Store Closes Doors, March 31

 Village Provision co-proprietor, Claudia Odekerken, stands outside the store.

Village Provision co-proprietor, Claudia Odekerken, stands outside the store. Photos by Jerome Wilson.

Essex’s popular Village Provision store closed its doors on Thursday, March 31. Village Provision has been operating at 6 Main Street in the heart of downtown Essex for the past fifteen and a half years, according to Claudia Odekerken, who with her husband, Jeff, has managed the unique and popular store. 

A regular customer of Village Provision for many years, Barry Fulford, said that the closing of the store was, “Absolutely dreadful.” Fulford like many of the store’s customers begins his day with a coffee, and perhaps a bagel on the side. The store also carries a full line of daily newspapers.

Village Provision’s owners in a written statement wrote, “It is with deep sadness that we announce the closing of Village Provision Company this Thursday, March 31, 2016. Due to the owner’s desire to sell the property, our lease was not renewed this year. We have been asked to vacate the property by April 1 in order for the new owner to take possession. This development has been very hard on our family, after more than 15 years of service and growth in the community, and with little time we must pack our little store and move on to a new adventure.”

The statement continued, “We would like to thank you all for your continued support through the years and for becoming more than just customers but friends. We will truly miss seeing you all every day, but our time here is not forgotten and we will look back to it with happiness, and at the many memories that we have share with you all. We will still be at Marley’s Café this summer, and we hope to see you there.”

We would also like to invite you to join us for a farewell lunch on Thursday March 31 at the Provision Store. Sincerely, Jeff, Claudia, Dylan, Michele, Patrick, Katherine and Milkey.” 

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 3.40.01 PM

Owner Claudia Odekerken relaxes briefly inside the store.

As to what Claudia and Jeff are going to do after the closing of Marley’s, Claudia said in an interview that she and her husband would continue to operate Marley’s restaurant on the island of the Essex Island Marina. The restaurant serves both lunch and dinner from May to September. “After that,” Claudia said, “we are just going to have to figure it out.”

Claudia also noted that she and her husband were still, “going to cater weddings, funerals and birthday parties.” Claudia noted that they also will continued to do, “plates for special occasions.” As for the rest of their future, Claudia and Jeff, remain undecided.


CT Legislators Support Study to Preserve Plum Island From Commercial Development

Aerial voew of Plum Island lighthouse. (From Preserve Plum Island website)

Aerial view of Plum Island lighthouse. (From Preserve Plum Island website)

OLD SAYBROOK — Last Thursday, March 24, at a press conference in Old Saybrook, a triumvirate of Congressional legislators from Connecticut, State Senator Richard Blumenthal and US Representatives Joe Courtney (D-2nd District) and Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District) confirmed their support for a study to determine the future of Plum Island located in Long Island Sound.

Members of the Plum Island Coalition — which has some 65 member organizations all dedicated to preserving the island — were in attendance to hear the good news.

The island still houses a high-security, federal animal disease research facility, but the decision has already been taken to move the facility to a new location in Kansas with an opening slated for 2022. The current facility takes up only a small percentage of the land on the island and significantly for environmentalists, the remainder of the island has for years been left to nature in the wild.

In supporting a federal study on the future of Plum Island, Sen. Blumenthal said, “This study is a step towards saving a precious, irreplaceable national treasure from developers and polluters. It will provide the science and fact-based evidence to make our case for stopping the current Congressional plan to sell Plum Island to the highest bidder.”

He continued, “The stark truth is the sale of Plum Island is no longer necessary to build a new bioresearch facility because Congress has fully appropriated the funds. There is no need for this sale – and in fact, Congress needs to rescind the sale.”

Congress, however, still has a law on the books that authorizes the sale of Plum Island land to the highest bidder. Therefore, opponents of the sale will have the burden of convincing Congress to change a law that is currently in place.


Essex First Selectman Needleman Has Strong Admiration, Fond Memories of his “Friend and Mentor” Dick Smith

Two friends -- the late Dick Smith, First Selectman of Deep River (left) and Norman Needleman, First Selectman of Essex. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

Two friends — the late Dick Smith, First Selectman of Deep River (left) and Norman Needleman, First Selectman of Essex. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX — Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman paid tribute to the late Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith in a statement sent to ValleyNewsNow.com.  Needleman said, “Dick was a wonderful guy. He frequently told me how much he loved his family and his job. They were the lights in his life. He managed Deep River as a family, from the staff that worked for him to the residents he loved.”

Needleman continued, “He was an amazing First Selectman (26 years, I think) and an outstanding police officer (44 years) who dedicated his life to making Deep River and the entire Connecticut River Valley the wonderful place that it is. He was a friend and mentor who listened well and made whoever he was with feel special. His love of people made him the ultimate type of public servant.”

Finally, expressing the opinion likely shared by many, he said, “I am going to really miss him.”


Needleman Purchases New Home Site at Foxboro Point for $1.375 Million

Needleman’s new home will be immediately to the right of the iconic windmill on Foxboro Point.

Needleman’s new home will be immediately to the right of the iconic windmill on Foxboro Point.

ESSEX — Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman has purchased a site for a new home on Foxboro Point for $1,375,000.  The First Selectman’s property is located immediately to the right of the iconic windmill at Foxboro Point.

In discussing his purchase, Needleman estimated that it will take, “a couple of years,” before he can move into a new home on his Foxboro Point property.

Needleman presently lives in the Book Hill Woods area of Essex.


Essex Has New, More Readable Street Signs

Essex street sign
ESSEX — The old and largely unreadable street signs in Essex have now been almost completely replaced. The new street signs have larger letters and are more readable than were the old ones. To date 250 new street signs have been delivered, and most have now been installed. The new signs are nine inches high, and can accommodate street names with letters six inches high. The total cost of the new street signs is approximately $13,330.

Essex Street sign

According to the office of Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, the main reason for installing the new street signs is safety. Also, the old signs were barely readable under limited light conditions, and they posed a particular problem for visitors to Essex. In addition the old signs received numerous complaints from Essex residents. Also, one of the most urgent needs for the new Essex street signs was to assist the vehicles of emergency responders, such as hospital ambulances and fire trucks, trying to find street addresses in Essex.

Essex Street sign

The new signs conform to new traffic code requirements, which specify the letter size of road signs, based on an individual road’s speed limits. Also, there are new retro reflective backgrounds on the new street signs, making them easier to read under limited light conditions. The roll out of the new street signs started with state roads, then next came the town roads in Ivoryton and Centerbrook, then the town roads surrounding Essex Village, and finally the town roads in the village itself. The final instillation of the new roads should be finished in the next few weeks.

A spokesperson in Needleman office noted, “The new road signs have been very well received.” As for what to do with the town’s old street signs, a charity auction of some kind is under discussion at Essex Town Hall. .


Local Essex Realtor’s 2015 Sales Total $24.8 Million

Award-winning Essex realtor Colette Harron stands outside the Sotheby's International office on Main Street in Essex.

Award-winning Essex realtor Colette Harron stands outside the Sotheby’s International office on Main Street in Essex.

ESSEX — Essex resident Colette Harron of Sotheby’s International Realty sold an unprecedented $24.8 million of real estate in the 2015 calendar year.  This record-breaking amount not only placed Harron in the “Top 15 Company Wide Dollar Volume” in sales among Sotheby’s 1,500 realtors but also put in the “Top Producer’s Dollar Volume” in the Sotheby’s sales office in Essex.

The properties that Harron sold last year were located in the towns of Essex, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Deep River and Chester. As for the keys to her success, Harron said in a recent interview, “I work very hard, and even more importantly I always make myself available for my clients.” She also noted, “I know the area very well.”

In addition, Harron has Joanne Tyrol as a full time assistant, who Harron described as, “Just Perfect.”

Harron also noted, “I’m well established in the community, and have been doing this work for the last 15 years,” adding, “I’m always working, and I am always available.” In addition to English, Harron is also in fluent in Spanish and French.  Another secret of her exceptional performance is, in Harron’s words, “I try not to remember the bad times, and just remember the good.” She concluded, “It is a tough business, and the challenges are high,” … but there is no question that she has made the very best of both.


Historic ‘Dickinson Mansion’ in Essex Reduced to $2.79M

The sale price of the historic Dickinson Mansion on North Main Street in Essex has just been reduced to $2,790,000. Photo by J. Wilson.

The sale price of the historic Dickinson Mansion on North Main Street in Essex has just been reduced to $2,790,000. Photo by J. Wilson.

ESSEX — Close to the very heart of downtown Essex, the imposing Dickinson mansion is now being offered for sale with a substantial reduction from its original asking price. The historic mansion is located close to the town center of Essex and its street address is 21 North Main Street.

Originally built in 1841 by a local merchant, the landmark property is also closely connected to the family that created and produced Dickinson Witch Hazel. Edward E. Dickinson bought the mansion property in 1888 and the mansion stayed in the Dickinson family until 1971.

The 20-room mansion, which today has 10 fireplaces and many artisan-crafted details, has been re-created in the Greek revival style and sits on a 0.62 acre site. The expansive mansion has 20 rooms, four bedrooms, four bathrooms and two entertainment rooms.

The original sales price for the property was reduced, according to Jeanne Rutigliano, managing broker of Coldwell Banker in Essex, because in her view, “Many home buyers looking in the shoreline area are seeking water-frontage.”   

The Dickinson Mansion has an attractive side entrance with distinctive columns.

The Dickinson Mansion has an attractive side entrance with distinctive columns.

The current owners of the Dickinson Mansion are Famah Sells and Greg Hoffman, who bought the property in 2000. “It’s a beautiful, great house, and we’ve done a lot to improve it,” Sells wrote in a recent summary of the property, adding, “We have opened our home numerous times for community and charity events.”

In regard to restoring the property, Sells said, “We tried to do restorations versus reconstruction. We kept as many of the original details as possible. That’s what the beauty of this house is.” 

The present owners also noted, “The interior of the mansion has been meticulously restored and updated without compromising the integrity of the original structure. Every space from the formal living room and the 1,000 square foot master suite, to the kitchen’s double pantries and the state-of-the art home theater is filled with imaginative details.”

Among recent improvements at the Dickinson Mansion are the installation of high velocity air conditioning and a “commercial grade” generator.

Now the hope is for a sensitive buyer to purchase this unique Essex property.


With Trump Still in the News, Essex Resident Recalls When ‘The Donald’ Was His Legal Client

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump on the 2016 campaign trail.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump on the 2016 campaign trail.

Editor’s Note: Donald Trump is front and center in the news today so we’re pleased to run this timely story from our regular contributor, Jerome Wilson, of Jerry’s personal memories of a man with whom he disagreed passionately on the political front, but whom he found to be both friendly and gracious in their business dealings.

ESSEX — A couple of decades ago, the present leading Republican candidate for President, Donald Trump, was a legal client of mine when I was a lawyer at the law firm of Rogers & Well in New York City.

I shall never forget my first personal meeting with Trump. It took place in Trump’s office on the top floor of the Trump Towner on Fifth Avenue in New York City. After gesturing that I take a seat opposite him at his huge desk, Trump started the conversation by asking, “You’re Jewish, aren’t you, Jerry?” I replied that “No,” I was not Jewish.  

After this personal exchange, Trump and I turned to discussing legal matters  pertaining to the new apartment complex that he was then building on New York City’s west side.    

"The Trump Bouquet"

“The Trump Bouquet”

Following this first meeting, subsequently, on a number of occasions, Trump invited me to join him when he was addressing civic groups in New York City. When I went along, Trump would always very graciously introduce me to the audience. This meant, invariably, that after Trump had finished speaking, a crowd of people would come over to meet me, wanting to speak with someone who was with the famed Donald Trump.

Then, during that period, when I married my wife, Ulla, Trump sent over to us a huge bouquet of flowers, which Ulla immediately referred to as, “The Trump bouquet.”

Looking back as a life-time Democrat, who served as a Democratic state senator in New York at one time, it is exceeding doubtful that I would ever vote for Trump for President, especially since he has now become a Republican.

However, I do recall from those days of long ago that Trump was always a pleasure to work with, and, in fact, if he were now running as a Democrat for President, I could well see why people would support him.   


Essex First Selectman Lauds Area Firefighters for Quelling 24-Hour Blaze at Calamari Recycling

A view of the Calamari Recycling facility after the flames had subsided.

A view of the Calamari Recycling facility after the flames had subsided.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX — Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman in an official statement on Jan. 16 praised area firefighters for quelling on Jan. 6, “one of the worst and longest burning fires in Essex in decades,” which occurred at the Calamari Recycling Co. Inc. at 20, Dump Rd., in Essex. In an article by Karena Garrity published Jan. 12 in the weekly Valley Courier newspaper and on Zip06.com, it was reported that to tame the blaze, “it was estimated that more than 150 firefighters from more than 15 different fire departments,” were on the scene.

In his statement published on the Town of Essex’s website, Needleman praised, “The rapid and well organized response from Essex Firefighters, Police and Public Works, as well as mutual aid efforts of firefighters from other towns. These highly trained individuals worked together like a well-oiled machine throughout, even when exhaustion set in.” Needleman added, “Services from in and out of our Town came to our rescue and helped to minimize the impact of this fire. The Town of Essex can’t thank you all enough.”

Over a dozen fire departments from the surrounding area played a role in extinguishing the fire at the Calamari scrap metal recycling facility, and it took over 24 hours for the firefighting units ultimately to quell the blaze.

Although there were no reports of injuries as a result of the fire, the Valley Courier newspaper article reported that flames at the facility, “created thick billows of clouds of smoke for several days, causing town and school officials in the area to take precautions in regard to air quality conditions.” The Valley Courier also reported, “Student at Essex Elementary School were held inside for recess on Jan. 7 and 8 to ensure safety, and the Department of Environment and Energy Protection visited the area to conduct air quality testing, ”which turned out to be in the safe quality range.”

According to the Valley Courier’s report, “The fire started in the construction and demolition debris building, one of the four buildings on the Calamari Recycling property,” and that, “the cause of the fire was thought to be a spark from a cardboard bailer.” Also reported in the article was that, “Essex firefighters as well as members of  the Essex Public Works Department stayed on the scene for 28 straight hours.”

In addition, the Essex Public Works Department set up a warming center for firefighters and supplied more than 500 gallons of diesel fuel to tanks for the engines that were on the scene.

The fire on Jan. 6 at the recycling facility was the “the worst fires in 60 years,” according to a Calamari Recycling staff member, who declined to give her name in an interview on Jan. 19.  As for the status of the investigation of the fire, “the insurance people were looking at it,” she said, declining to give further details.


Though Losing a Leader, Pettipaug Yacht Club Will Keep Teaching the Young to Sail   

Pettipaug Sailing Academy sailors putting their boats in the water in a recent sailing season

Pettipaug Sailing Academy sailors putting their boats in the water in a recent sailing season.

ESSEX — With the death last November of Paul Risseeuw, who for over 50 years led the sailing programs at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, some asked will this mean the end of an immensely popular program for teaching young people to sail.

However, according to the club’s Vice Commodore Kathryn Ryan, this is not going to be the case. “In response to this loss,” Ryan said in a statement, “the Pettipaug Board of Governors has increased our effort to provide the best sailing program in the area. Many talented officers of our club have come forward to step up their involvement to guarantee a smooth transition to 2016. Our top priorities are safety, learning, providing talented instructors, as well as equipment and facilities, and, of course, fun on the water.”

Ryan continued, “I have been elected to the role of Vice Commodore, which includes the duty of Chairman of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy.” Also, she noted, “I have been involved with the Pettipaug Sailing Academy for the last eight years, as my own children have come through the program.”

Ryan Introduces Ann Courcy, Club Sailing Director for 2016

In introducing Ann Courcy, the club’s new sailing director, Ryan noted, “Ann is a Deep River resident who had firsthand knowledge of our program, not only though her work with us, but also as a parent of two former and two current students. We are fortunate to have someone with Ann’s working knowledge of our program and our club on board for the coming year.”

Ryan went on to note that the club is presently accepting registrations for the summer of 2016, and that the application form can be found on the club’s web site. She added, “We will also be looking for help from parent volunteers through the season, so please consider sharing your talents, when we send out our request for help. Together we can continue to offer a high quality program for our junior sailors.”


Will Political Lawn Signs Influence Essex Local Election Results?

Campaign sign for Republican First Selectman candidate Bruce Glovac

Campaign sign for Republican First Selectman candidate Bruce Glovac

ESSEX — Suddenly, it seems the town of Essex is almost covered with sometimes red, sometimes blue lawn signs promoting the candidacies of Republicans Bruce Glowac for First Selectman and Phil Beckman for Selectman. Not only are there signs along many of the streets in Essex, but they are also posted on the roads leading into town (see photo above). Essex has not seen such a large display of election lawn signs in several years.

Where were the Democrats when the Republican lawn sign blitz first appeared?  It appears First Selectman Norman Needleman and Selectman Stacia Rice-Libby were at first caught a little off guard since it seemed they had very few of their own lawn signs in view. Now it looks as though the Democrats have many more of their own lawn signs visible, but our unscientific poll suggests the Republicans still have a higher number.

Road signs for Essex Democratic incumbents, Norm Needleman and Stacia-Rice Libby

Road signs for Essex Democratic incumbents, Norm Needleman and Stacia-Rice Libby

Election Day is Nov. 3, and the election will decide Essex’s town governance for the next two years. It will be interesting to see if, in a small town like Essex, the distribution of lawn signs bears any relationship to the result.


Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith Endorses Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman for Re-Election

Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (l to r) pose outside Town Hall in Deep River (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (l to r) pose outside Town Hall in Deep River (photo by Jerome Wilson)

Deep River’s popular First Selectman, Dick Smith, has announced his endorsement of Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman for re-election. Needleman is finishing his second term and is running for his third. Needleman is being challenged by Republican candidate Bruce Glowac, who was an Essex First Selectman several years ago, and a Selectman as well.

In his endorsement Smith said of his fellow First Selectman Norman Needleman, “We both are working hard for our two towns. Norm Needleman is a great person, a good guy and he has had two excellent terms in the position of First Selectman of Essex.” Smith continued, “The issues of the two towns, Deep River and Essex, are the same, and Norm and I work together very closely.” Smith noted, “Needleman’s business background is an added plus, because running a town is the same thing as running a business.” Concluding Smith said, “It is very important that Needleman be re-elected as First Selectman of Essex.”

Needleman Thanks Dick Smith  

Needleman for his part thanked Smith, “for both his support and his wisdom.”  “Dick Smith is one of the most respected public officials in the state of Connecticut, and his opinions matter.” Needleman said, adding that Smith, “is known for his experience and judgement, and it is important that he continue his work as First Selectman of Deep River.”

Election Day this year is November 3rd.


State Senator Art Linares Co-Hosts Fundraiser Supporting Christie for President

State Senator (R) Art Linares

State Senator (R) Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook co-hosted a fundraiser for the presidential campaign of Chris Christie in Greenwich last Thursday, Sept. 22.

The fundraiser was held in the home of Linda and Vincent McMahon in Greenwich, who were co-sponsors. Additional co-sponsors of the fundraiser were the Hon. Tom Foley and State Representative John Frey.

The online invitation noted that, “Contributions to Chris Christie for President are not tax deductible.”

In Senator Linares’s invitation to the event. he wrote, “I will be attending an event for Governor Chris Christie of NJ at the home of Linda and Vince McMahon. Like you, I believe in limited government and strong national defense. Supporting individuals, who work for our ideals, is all of our responsibility.”

A representative of the organizing committee for the fundraiser said the event was “very successful.”


Needleman States Priorities for Possible Third Term as Essex First Selectman

Selectman Stacia Libby stands with First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Selectman Stacia Libby stands with First Selectman Norman Needleman.

ESSEX — At his July 22 announcement of his intention to run for a third, two-year-term as First Selectman of Essex, Norman Needleman noted two priorities that he would address, if re-elected.  The first is the completion of the new public works projects presently underway in Essex and the second is to establish a new, more accountable way for delivering public services to the residents of Essex by the various town agencies.

New Public Works in Essex: Several Projects Already Complete …

With regard to the first electoral priority — completing new public works in Essex — that one is well underway. The old tennis courts behind Essex Town Hall have been brought up to “tournament play” condition.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman holds his treasured grandson.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman holds his treasured grandson.

The parking lots, also behind the town hall, have  been completely regraded with a new playground installed that has proved to be very popular with both young and old alike. Also, Essex Town’s Hall’s frontage has been refreshed with a new lawn and improved signage, along with a general upgrade.

… Others Still on the Agenda

Needleman has ahead of him, should he be re-elected, the completion of the total refashioning of the Ivoryton section of the Town of Essex. Extensive new streets have already been put in place and the final touches of the new streetscape improvements in Ivoryton would likely extend well into a possible Needleman third term.

Also, contemplated by Needleman are upgrades in the Centerbrook section of Essex, but these are still on the drawing boards.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.36.58 AMImproved Coordination of Services to Residents by Essex Town Employees  

In addition to these superstructure improvements on Needleman’s re-election roster is a determination to tackle the manner in which Essex Town Departments and workers deliver services to Essex residents. Such an initiative would review the degrees of coordination among Town agencies.

It is Needleman’s view that there is presently a serious lack of coordination among Town agencies in the delivery of services to the town and, if re-elected, he intends to change this.


Pettipaug Yacht Club Hosts Work Party Today, Volunteers Invited

Pettipaug Yacht Club is undergoing a $30,000 renovation of its club house.

Pettipaug Yacht Club is undergoing a $30,000 renovation of its club house.

ESSEX — The Pettipaug Yacht Club, located on the Connecticut River in Essex, has scheduled a work party Saturday, June 27, beginning at 8 a.m. The club’s Rear Commodore Kathryn Ryan said, “We plan to be working on the roof, including putting the shingles on the [new] roof, and if anyone has a roofing gun they can bring, that would be helpful.”

“We also have other projects we can work on that day, including cleaning and organizing the sheds where much of our equipment and other belongings have landed during the renovation process,” she noted, “Please consider coming to lend a hand.”

Clubhouse Restoration Is Underway

The Connecticut River runs along the side porch of the clubhouse.

The Connecticut River runs along the side porch of the clubhouse.

The Pettipaug Yacht Club presently has underway a $30,000 renovation of its main building. All of the work on the renovation is being done by club volunteers, according to Paul Risseeuw, the Director of the club’s Pettipaug Sailing Academy.

When complete, the renovations will include a new clubhouse roof, an enlarged membership meeting room and bring the clubhouse’s two bathrooms up to code. Programs of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy will also be held at the club house during the summer.

Sailing Academy Classes Scheduled

This summer the Pettipaug Sailing Academy will feature two teaching programs for young sailors this summer. The first program will begin on June 29 and end on July 21. The second program will begin on July 23 and end on Aug. 14. Academy classes will also divided for the morning for beginning sailors, ages 8 to ll, and afternoon classes for more experienced young sailors, ages 12 to 16. Morning classes for both programs begin at 9 a.m. and last until noon. Afternoon classes begin at 1 p.m. and run until 4 p.m.

Presently, the Academy’s afternoon classes at both sessions are full. However, there are still spaces available for beginning sailors at both morning sessions. The tuition for attending a sailing programs at the Academy is $400 for a 3 and a half week course. This price computes to $8 an hour, according to Risseeuw, who urges prospective pupils to, “Come sign up and have fun.”

The Academy’s Risseeuw also assured prospective Sailing Academy students that sailing classes will not be impeded by the present work on the club house. “Most of the class work is, “on the water,”  he noted.


New North Main Street Park Opens in Essex, Honors Deceased “Daughter” of Essex Resident Bomze

Morgana’s sculpture receives an embrace from Ina Bomze.

Morgana’s sculpture receives an embrace from Ina Bomze.

ESSEX — Essex has a new park at the corner of North Main and New City Streets thanks to the generosity of Ina Bomze, who lives across the street from the park.

Speaking on May 31 at the opening ceremony for the new park, which is dedicated to Bomze’s late, much beloved companion, Morgana, were Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman and State Representative Phil Miller (D-36th). In addition to his attendance, Rep. Miller brought to the ceremony a state legislative resolution commemorating the new park’s opening.

 Essex First Selectman Normal Needleman (far left) and State Representative Phil Miller (center), while Ina Bomze (right) looks on before the sculpture unveiling.

Essex First Selectman Normal Needleman (front row, left) looks on while State Representative Phil Miller (center) reads the citation from the state and Ina Bomze (immediate right of Miller) listens intently.

The central focus of the new park’s opening ceremonies, however, was the unveiling of a life-size sculpture of Morgana. Before she passed away a short time ago, Morgana was owned for almost 10 years by Bomze. After Morgana’s death, Bomze decided to memorialize Morgana’s life by creating a new town park, featuring a sculpture of the dog that she called her “daughter.”

Morgana’s sculpture with Ina Bomze and sculptor Helen M. Johnson.

Morgana’s sculpture with Ina Bomze and sculptor Helene M. Johnson.

To fulfill her dream of memorializing Morgana, Bomze purchased the vacant land at the corner of North Main and New City Streets. She then arranged for the dilapidated building on the site to be removed and also had the property attractively landscaped.

Next, Bomze commissioned noted sculptor, Helene M. Johnson, to craft a sculpture of her late companion, Morgana. Bomze then deeded the land to the Essex Land Trust in perpetuity with the understanding that the sculpture of Morgana would remain in place in the park.

At the unveiling of the sculpture of Morgana, Johnson said, “I was honored to be asked to do this wonderful commission of a life-size statue of Morgana by Ina Bomze.”

A large crowd of spectators gathered at the dedication of the new Essex park featuring the Morgana sculpture.

A large crowd of spectators gathered at the dedication of the new Essex park featuring the Morgana sculpture.

For his part Jim Denham, President of the Essex Land Trust, said that the gift to of the Bomze property to the Land Trust was, “A wonderful community initiative.” In addition, Peter Amos, the local Churchill Society President, who attended the event, noted that Bomze’s gift to the Land Trust was, “A lovely thing to beautify the town, and a win-win for everybody.”

Echoing these positive sentiments about Bomze’s gift to the Essex Land Trust, Essex realtor Rick Weiner said, “We’re so lucky to live in a town where neighbors can come together to celebrate an event like this.”

Editor’s Note: Essex Land Trust is accepting donations for the ongoing care and maintenance of this new pocket park or as additional support to assist Essex Land Trust (P.O. Box 373, Essex) in keeping all of their properties vibrant and groomed for all to enjoy.http://essexlandtrust.org/ Contact Ed Tucker, MD, at edtuckermd@aol.com or 860-767-2332 for further information.


Linares Supporting Rubio for President, Co-Hosts $2,700 per Person Event in Stamford  

Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd)

AREAWIDE — State Senator Art Linares is supporting U.S. Senator Marco Rubio for President of the United States. Linares made his presidential choice known by inviting contributors to attend a $2,700 a person fundraiser for Rubio on Thursday, June 4, from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Hilton Stamford Hotel at 1 First Stamford Place in Stamford.

“Marco Rubio, A New American Century” is the theme of the event, which will feature, “A roundtable discussion with U.S. Senator Rubio” by those attending. Linares is co-hosting the Rubio event with Republican State Chairman Jerry Labriola and Chris Meek.

Tickets to the Rubio event can be obtained by contacting Anne Rogers at arogers@marcorubio.com, or by calling 662-315-4775. Those persons who wish to purchase a ticket to the event, or to make a contribution to the Marco Rubio for President campaign, can do so provided they fill out a form giving their payment method, name, occupation, phone number, email address, mailing address, and spouse’s name, occupation of spouse if it is a joint contribution, among other personal information.

Also noted is that, “Contributions to Marco Rubio for President are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.” Similarly noted is, “Individuals may contribute up to $2,700 for the Primary Election,” and the statement that, “Contributions from corporations, labor union, foreign nationals [as specified] and federal government contractors are not permitted.”

Editor’s Note: The 33rd Senatorial District includes the Towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme and Old Saybrook.


Essex Celebrates “Burning of the Ships,” A Major American Defeat in the War of 1812

The “Sailing Masters of 1812” of Essex lead the parade.

The “Sailing Masters of 1812” of Essex lead the parade.  All photos by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX — In the darkness of 3 a.m. on the morning of April 8, 1814, British troops attacked and burned 27 American ships in Essex, both on land and in the harbor.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman was on hand early in the parade.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman was on hand early in the parade.

Essex at the time was a major builder of ships, which the British apparently knew, when they planned their attack.

A color guard on parade.

A color guard on parade.

The British attack on the Town of Essex caught Essex residents totally by surprise, to the degree that not a single Essex resident fired a shot as the British burned their ships.

Beating drums and playing fifes.

Beating drums and playing fifes.

However, when daylight came, as the British ship burners were making their way back down the Connecticut River, Americans started firing at the British from the the shore of the river, and at least two of the attackers were killed.

This fife and drum corps dates its ancestry back to 1787.

This fife and drum corps dates its ancestry back to 1787.

Fast forward to modern times and for the past 48 years, the Sailing Masters of 1812 have commemorated the “Burning of the Ships” with a parade down Essex’s Main Street. True to form, they were at it again this year last Saturday, May 9.

Some wore light blue ...

Some wore light blue …

Over 15 marching fife and drum corps participated in this year’s “Burning of the Ships” parade.

... while others went barefoot!

… while others went barefoot!

It must be noted, however, that some in Essex, who take the liberty of adding more than a grain of truth, call the event the “Loser’s Day” parade.

There were also some women marching in the parade.

There were also some women marching in the parade.

On and on the fife and drum corps came ...

On and on the fife and drum corps came …

This little boy’s “Mama” was playing in the band ahead of him in the parade.

This little boy’s “Mama” was playing in the band ahead of him.

This band of bagpipers added a Scottish element  to the parade.

This band of bagpipers added a Scottish element to the parade.

On and came the marchers in the (almost) never-ending parade!

On and came the marchers in the (almost) never-ending parade!


Pettipaug Yacht Club Schedules Work Party Today to Repair Club Access Road

The exterior of the Yacht Club.

Pettipaug Yacht Club clubhouse on the Connecticut River

ESSEX — Pettipaug Yacht Club Rea Commodore Kathryn Allen is hosting another Work Party for members of the Pettipaug Yacht Club in Essex this coming Saturday.
She notes that although a very productive Work Party was held last Saturday, “There is still plenty to do this coming Saturday and I hope you will consider joining us for whatever amount of time you can volunteer between 8 and 12.,” stressing that any volunteer time will be greatly appreciated.
A pothole needing repair on the road to Pettipaug Yacht Club

A pothole needing repair on the road to Pettipaug Yacht Club

She continues, “The projects list includes adding more stone to the driveway, so we will need some volunteers with shovels and rakes.  Also we will be moving boats off the deck, putting grills in the yard, cleaning some boats, cleaning the commodore’s room, and general trimming of bushes ( if any one would like to bring clippers please do) just to start the list, so there really are jobs of all sizes and shapes for whatever skill you have.”
Explaining that, “Saturday will be a great opportunity to not only help our club, but meet new members and enjoy catching up with each other after a long winter,” she adds,  “Again, any time you have please stop by as all these projects are on-going and we appreciate any time you can give us.”

Despite Snow, Determined Pettipaug YC Members Successfully Put Docks Into CT River

It was not an easy task and, at one point, a dock almost got away.

It was not an easy task and, at one point, a dock almost got away.

ESSEX — “Even when it’s snowing, club members have been excellent when it comes to giving us a hand,” said the Pettipaug Yach Club’s Rear Commodore, Kathryn Ryan, on Saturday.

Pettipaug Yacht Club house where the dock party took place.

Pettipaug Yacht Club house where the dock party took place.

She added, “We scheduled this day to put the docks in, and a nice mix of old and new members showed up to give us a hand.”

The puddled driveway down to the club house.

The puddled driveway down to the club house.

All told some 24 club members checked in — navigating challenging conditions en route to the club — to put the dock in the water for the upcoming sailing season.

Club members straining to put the dock’s in rapid Connecticut River waters

Club members straining to put the dock’s in rapid Connecticut River waters

The club had originally scheduled putting in the docks two weeks ago, but the weather did not clear until this past weekend.

Despite the wait, the weather was still not particularly nice with a steady light snow, and a chilling temperature of 34 degrees.

But the job was done!


State Representative Phil Miller Sponsors Five Environmental Bills in Legislature

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Philip Miller (D – 36th)

AREAWIDE — State Representative Phil Miller, whose legislative district includes the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam, has introduced five environmental bills in the Connecticut State Legislature in Hartford. Miller’s environmental bills range from limiting the use of pesticides in state parks to limiting the sale of ivory and rhino horns.

Miller, who was recently appointed House Chairman of the General Assembly’s Planning and Development Committee, also serves on the House’s Environmental Committee and House Program Review and Investigations Committee.

Asked for details of the five bills on which he is focusing, Miller responded by email as follows:

  • House Bill 5653. Chemicals are of high concern to children — this is a great bill, which gives our Department of Public Health a platform from which to make suggestions to industries regarding potentially harmful ingredients. It is being opposed by industries who feel they can adequately self-regulate. And I have a bridge for sale!
  • House Bill 6837. Pesticide use at state parks, athletic fields and playgrounds. We banned harmful pesticides in our pre-K through eighth grades in 2006, but the industry has been bitterly fighting extending the ban to the twelfth grade, as successfully has been done in New York State. The state should set the example by succeeding at sustainable turf maintenance at state properties first, and then we can further uphold children’s safety. It is ironic that I am petitioning the Essex Conservation Commission to refrain from spraying pesticides at the Bushy Hill Preserve, where tadpoles should eat mosquito larva underwater and birds and bats should take care of the flying adults.
  • Senate Bill 349. Single-use, carry-out plastic and paper bags and the use of reusable bags. We are trying to phase out plastic and limit paper, and encourage new standards for reusable bags to combat the environmental and public health problems borne from plastic pollution. This is being worked on, so we can get it right to make a difference.
  • House Bill 6035. The Long Island Sound Blue Plan mandates accurate mapping and biotic inventories to maintain and enhance ecology.
  • House Bill 6955. The ivory and rhino horn ban. There is an Asian- centered, worldwide market in ivory and rhino horn, which we can help stop by banning these materials, with exemptions for antique pieces more than 75-years-old or musical instruments made before 1975. This would aid us in recovering historic pieces to museum collections, while inhibiting trade in newer black market material. We are being opposed by antique dealers and collectors, many of whom have newer pieces in their collections without even knowing it. This bill is of special concern to us locally, because Ivoryton and Deep River were the world centers of ivory manufacture a hundred years ago, and we have come to terms with our past being complicit in an earlier slaughter, which, in turn, has inspired the present illicit industries of Asia that stretches from Africa and around the globe.

Miller also gave the following additional information:

Pesticides harm water and soil quality and are linked with cancer, birth defects, behavioral disorders, developmental delays, and they are ever more concentrated further each year as the pests evolve to kill the lawn.

In addition to the bills, the budget has some dire consequences for the environment because it would defund the Clean Water Fund, the Water Planning Council and the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) — a very effective watchdog presence.


Pettipaug Yacht Club Pushes Back First Spring Work Party to March 28

A snowbound Pettipaug Yacht Club.  Photo by Sandy Sanstrom.

A snowbound Pettipaug Yacht Club. Photo by Sandy Sanstrom.

ESSEX — Kathryn Ryan, Rear Commodore of the Pettipaug Yacht Club, has announced a push back for the club’s first, spring work party, now re-scheduled for Saturday, March 28, at 9 a.m. In making the announcement Commodore Ryan said, “We have not yet seen the continued warmth most of us are anxiously awaiting, and as a result we are still not able to get to Pettipaug easily.”

She continued, “The River still has plenty of ice on it, and we are going to reschedule our first work party of the year to March 28.  With some luck by then all the snow will be gone; the river will be flowing nicely, and the temperatures will be seasonal.”

She continued, “Please consider coming to join us for either this work party, or one of our scheduled work parties in April.  We will hope to get our docks in place at the first work party in March (weather permitting, of course), and the third attempt should be the charm, and then continue getting the club ready at the April events.  Any time you can offer us will be greatly appreciated.”

“Think Spring!” she concluded cheerfully.


Book Discussion on America’s Role in WWI at Essex Library Tonight

Up and out of the trenches, American troops attack in 1918. Photo published by Editions de la Martiniere, Paris, France.

Up and out of the trenches, American troops attack in 1918. Photo published by Editions de la Martiniere, Paris, France.

ESSEX — The American History Book Club of the Essex Library will hold a discussion on , “Yanks,” a book by John S. D. Eisenhower about America’s role in World War 1 on Thursday, March 19 at 6 p.m. at the library. The library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex, and members of the general public are invited to attend the discussion. Copies of the book, “Yanks,” are available on loan at the Essex Library, although the supply is limited.

John S. D. Eisenhower, who was the son of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a graduate of Point and a retired Brigadier General in the Army Reserve. Eisenhower, who died in 2013, was also a prolific author of books about war, including, “Better Wood,” an account of the Battle of the Bulge, and “Agent of Destiny, a life of General Winfield Scott,” among others. In all, 12 different war books by Eisenhower are listed for sale on Amazon.

About “Yanks,” the Book

American troops march in line to the front in 1918. Photo published by Editions de la Martiniere, Paris, France.

American troops march in line to the front in 1918. Photo published by Editions de la Martiniere, Paris, France.

“Yanks” is the story of the two million U.S. Army troops who went to Europe to fight in World War 1 against Germany. Eisenhower asserts in an Epilogue to his book that Germany would have won the war, if American troops had not joined the fight with the allies. As the author put it, “If the United States had not entered the war — or had elected not to send an expeditionary force abroad — there would never have been a Second World War; Germany would have won the first one.”

Whether America’s World War 1 allies, France, Great Britain and Italy, would agree with this conclusion, it is undeniable that when the fresh American troops joined the war weary allied troops in 1917, a path was opened to the defeat of the German army.  Crucially, in the summer and fall of 1918, American Army forces turned back five major German army attacks, and then advanced significantly into German occupied territory as well.

The Leadership of General John J. Pershing

Major General Pershing lands at Bordeaux in June 1917.  Photo from "Yanks" by John S.D. Eisenhower and published by The Free Press, New York.

Major General Pershing lands at Bordeaux in June 1917. Photo from “Yanks” by John S.D. Eisenhower and published by The Free Press, New York.

As “Yanks” makes clear, the personification of the America’s involvement in World War 1 was General John J. Pershing, the commander of American Army forces in Europe. Early on, the British generals had suggested that the arriving American troops should be used to fill in the rosters of the British lines, as needed. Pershing, vehemently, rejected this suggestion, making it a rule that American troops would fight only in American units. They would, definitely, not serve as  “fill ins” in the British lines at the front.

Also, when the allies and Germans were negotiating the armistice that ended the fighting in World War 11, Pershing argued strenuously that the war should continue until Germany’s unconditional surrender. Not only was Pershing’s voice not heeded, but he could have been disciplined for expressing a dissident point of view, although that did not happen.

“Yanks” is sometimes dense with detail, as the author meticulously reviews the battles in which the American troops were engaged. However, the book is well worth reading, so as to learn America’s role in a major chapter of world history, World War 1.

The Death Toll of World War I

Although not mentioned in “Yanks,” World War 1 is considered to be the deadliest conflict in human history. The death tolls were staggering. America lost 116,526 killed, Great Britain 908,371, France 1,357,000, Germany 1,777,700 and Austria/Hungry 1,200,000. Also, Russia lost 1,700,000 until the new Communist government removed Russia from the conflict.


The Big Thaw, Hopefully, Prayerfully, Is  Coming Soon …

The launching basin for the Frostbite Yacht Club races, which is totally iced over. Also, the boat crane (on right), that puts the boats in the water is currently of no use.

The launching basin for the Frostbite Yacht Club races, which is totally iced over. Also, the boat crane (on right), that puts the boats in the water is currently of no use.

But don’t bet on it!

The Frostbite Yacht Club in Essex was scheduled to hold its first races off Essex Harbor on Sunday, March 1.  But the launching basin, where club’s members put their boats in the water, was covered over with thick ice and snow.

So the Frostbite sailors postponed their first race of the season to the next Sunday, March 8.  However, these races were also cancelled, because of the ice over the launching basin.

Will the ice thaw by Sunday, March 15?  That’s an open question.

Also, the Committee Boat that monitors the Frostbite Yacht Club sailing races is frozen in its berth in Middle Cove in Essex, and it too was locked in ice on March 1 and 8.  Can it get out by March 15?

Pettipaug Yacht Club Frozen In

Paul Risseeuw, Director of Pettipaug Sailing Academy, is pictured at the head of the driveway that goes down to the Pettipaug Yacht Club. The club is directly on the shore of the Connecticut River.

Paul Risseeuw, Director of Pettipaug Sailing Academy, is pictured at the head of the driveway that goes down to the Pettipaug Yacht Club. The club is directly on the shore of the Connecticut River.


Then, there are the docks that are waiting to go into the water at the Pettipaug Yacht Club.  The club is located directly on the shoreline of the Connecticut River.  Work parties were scheduled to put the docks in the water on Saturday, March 14.

The Director of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, Paul Risseeuw, said, however, it is “highly unlikely,” that the work parties will work as scheduled.

The jumble of mooring poles in Essex Harbor. The poles will all have to be lifted out of the water and replanted for the coming boating season.

The jumble of mooring poles in Essex Harbor. The poles will all have to be lifted out of the water and replanted for the coming boating season.

Risseeuw said, “The ice on the river has to go away enough and enough snow has to melt for members to get down to the club; and the docks have to be accessible to be dragged over to the crane to put them in the water.”  Risseeuw won’t even commit that the way will be clear enough for the work parties to begin on by Saturday, March 21.

As for the high school teams that are scheduled to start sailing races off the Pettipaug Yacht Club on Monday, March 16, Risseeuw feels, assuredly, that their races will have to be postponed.  The teams are from the Daniel Hand High School in Madison and Xavier High School in Middletown.


Is Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman Running for a Third Term? That is the Question 

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman stands beneath a new awning at the parking lot of Essex Town Hall

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman stands beneath a new awning at the parking lot of Essex Town Hall

If you listen to Essex’s First Selectman, Norman Needleman, he will tell you that — really, truly — he has not made up his mind, whether to run for a third term as First Selectman of Essex … or not.  It must be acknowledged that Needleman’s first two terms as Essex First Selectman have been noteworthy, especially, as regards upgrading the public landscape of the Town of Essex. Needleman’s accomplishments in this area include:

  • Essex Town Center
    Needleman has created and supervised a major upgrade of the Town Center of Essex. New improvements include: (a) reconditioning of Essex’s two tennis courts, (b) building a new and imaginative Essex playscape for children, which has proved to be very popular for young and old alike, (c) a new Town Hall parking lot with parking spaces clearly and precisely lined, and (d) new landscaping of the grounds in the front of Town Hall.Furthermore, Needleman was instrumental in raising significant new monies to help pay for these improvements. The total cost of the upgraded Essex Town Center was $700,000 with $480,000 of that amount raised through a Connecticut Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant initiated by Needleman to help pay for the costs.
  • Ivoryton Main Street Upgrade
    Needleman also raised $400,000 from a second STEAP grant to pay for a major upgrade of the town center of Ivoryton. The improvements will include new cross walks and parking areas, along with a general reconfiguration of the Ivoryton town center. The final plans for the  Ivoryton improvements have been completed so now it is a question of implementing them.If Needleman runs successfully again for Essex First Selectman, he will be able supervise the construction of these already-funded Ivoryton improvements. If on the other hand, he chooses not to run, a new Essex First Selectman would be in charge.
  • Centerbrook Improvements
    Upgrading of the town center of Centerbrook is another town improvement under consideration by Needleman. If this project were to go forward, he says there would most likely be an effort to obtain yet another state STEAP grant to pay for it.  Considering Needlman’s success in obtaining approvals for STEAP grants for both Essex and Ivoryton, it seems likely that he may be able to do so again for this initiative.

Needleman’s Private Job in Essex  

Headquarters of Tower Laboratories LTD, in Essex Industrial Park

Headquarters of Tower Laboratories LTD, in Essex Industrial Park

In addition his public position as First Selectman of the Town of Essex, Needleman is also the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tower Laboratories, LTD. “Tower Labs,” as it is called in abbreviated form, is a sizeable private company that has no less than 250 employees.

The company specializes in the manufacturing of health and beauty aids, which are sold worldwide. The headquarters of the company is located in two building in the Essex Industrial Park, and the company also has two other locations.


Groundhog Day Parade Shorter than Usual But Still Wonderful

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

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

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

The star of the show -- "Essex Ed"

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Former Governor Weicker Lauds President Obama’s New Openness to Cuba      

Former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker at his home in Old Lyme, Thursday.

Former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker at his home in Old Lyme, Thursday.

Lowell Weicker, a former Governor and Senator of Connecticut, has expressed his support for the Obama’s administration new policy of normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. In taking this position, Weicker noted in an interview at his home in Old Lyme with ValleyNewsNow yesterday that current polls show that 60 percent of Americans support diplomatic recognition of Cuba.

In adopting a new U.S. relationship with Cuba, Weicker said, “Finally, we are catching up with the times.” He continued, “The U.S. embargo has lasted for 50 years, yet country after country has recognized Cuba with only the United States in not doing so.”  Weicker also expressed criticism of those who oppose the Obama Administration new policy of recognizing Cuba, such as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Positive Aspects of Today’s Cuba

According to Weicker, “The most positive aspects of the present Castro regime in Cuba are in the areas of health care and good public education. Ninety nine percent of Cubans have free health care and good public education, a complete turnaround from the days of Battista.” At the same time, Weicker faulted the present Cuban government, “for its lack of human rights and democratic elections.”

As for his personal relationship with Cuba, the former Connecticut Governor said, “My family owned a large business in Cuba, which was expropriated by the Castro government, after Battista fled the island. No one, especially myself, is going to extol Castro’s confiscation of private property.”

Weicker also noted his, “deep personal distaste for the dictatorship of Flugencio Battista, who preceded Fidel Castro. Early on,” he said, “most of the Cuban immigrants to the United States were allied with Battista. Indeed in my losing the 1988 Senate campaign, the Florida Cuban community poured late money into Senator Joe Lieberman’s campaign.”

Weicker’s Two Trips to Castro’s Cuba

File photo from the 1980s of then U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker shaking hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Photo from the 1980s of then U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker shaking hands with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Weicker also stated, “When I was a U.S. Senator, I made two trips to Cuba in the early 1980s. The first was to organize a joint American-Cuban marine science mission. The second was to secure the release of six American women imprisoned in Cuba.” According to Weicker, he, “convinced Castro, personally, to release the women who were in jail on drug charges. Two of the six were from Connecticut.”

Weicker described how, while in Cuba, he and Castro went diving together and spent many hours discussing Cuban-American relations. When Castro inquired whether there was anything he could do for Weicker, the Senator jokingly responded by requesting the Major League Baseball franchise for Havana. Castro’s response was, ‘No, we keep that.’”

In Weicker’s account, “When I announced to the Senate that I was to go to Cuba to retrieve the six women, U.S. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina tried to block the trip.” Failing that endeavor, Helms asked Weicker, confidentially, if he could bring back some cigars for him.

Weicker also makes the point that the wrapper leaf for Cuban cigars are traditionally grown in Connecticut, so Connecticut would directly benefit from the lifting of U.S. restrictions on the importation of Cuban cigars.

In conclusion, Weicker said, “Cuban dictator Battista was bad news, and I agree that the Castro brothers have had their own failings.” However, Weicker does not want the U.S. to live in the past as regards Cuba. He states, “It is only a question of time … Cuba will become more and more democratic. It is a new world, and one that should see two old friends reconcile.”


Local Legislators Applaud $2 Million Bond Issue to Help Purchase The Preserve

From left to right, Rep. Jesse MacLachlan, Essex resident Suellen McCuin, Chris Cryder of Save the Sound, Kate Brown of The Trust for Public Land, Sen. Paul Formica, Rep. Phil Miller, Sen. Art Linares, Rep. Devin Carney,  Rep. Terrie Wood, Jim Millard of The Trust for Public Land and Lori Fernand of The Trust for Public Land.

From left to right, Rep. Jesse MacLachlan, Essex resident Suellen McCuin, Chris Cryder of Save the Sound, Kate Brown of The Trust for Public Land, Sen. Paul Formica, Rep. Phil Miller, Sen. Art Linares, Rep. Devin Carney, Rep. Terrie Wood, Jim Millard of The Trust for Public Land and Lori Fernand of The Trust for Public Land.

Five state legislators, State Senators Art Linares and Paul Formica, and State Representatives Phillip Miller, Devin Carney and Jesse MacLachan have applauded the Jan. 12, approval of a $2 million state bond issue to assist in the acquisition of the Preserve. The Preserve property consists of 1,000 acres along the shore of Long Island Sound that is presently open space.

“This is terrific news,” said Sen. Art Linares, who represents Essex, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. “Permanently protecting this forest and wetland is critical, not only for the animal and plant species whose survival greatly depends upon it, but also for the local communities whose water supplies and recreational enjoyment of Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River could be irreparably damaged if development were to occur.  This news is the result of the determination of the many environmental champions in our region, like Rep. Phil Miller and former Rep. Marilyn Giuliano.  We also thank Gov. Malloy for his commitment to this effort.”

“I am delighted to see this vast expanse of land will be protected for future generations. Residents in southeastern Connecticut care deeply for the environment and enjoy hiking and bird watching in The Preserve, among other recreational activities.  This wise purchase by the state will ensure that future generations will be able to continue the stewardship of this land,” said Sen. Paul Formica, who represents Old Saybrook and is a member of the Energy and Technology Committee.  “I thank Rep. Phil Miller, former Rep. Marilyn Giuliano, The Trust for Public Land and the many environmental advocates from our region who have worked so hard for this funding.”

“The approval today by the Bond Commission of $2 million in funding to ensure the purchase of The Preserve shoreline property represents an important landmark decision that is certainly welcomed.” said Rep. Philip Miller (D – Essex/Chester/ Deep River/Haddam). “This will enable us to protect and preserve open space property that will benefit not only people who live in the region, but all of Connecticut’s citizens, for generations to come.”

“The funding for the Preserve will allow generations to come the opportunity to enjoy some breathtaking landscape in its unencumbered state, right here in Connecticut” said Rep. Devin Carney (R), representing Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. “Many people in Old Saybrook and along the shoreline will be thrilled by the finalization of these funds. For many, it has been a long time coming – I am happy to see that all of their passion and hard work has paid off.”

“The citizens of Connecticut value the abundance of beauty within our state and want it to be protected in perpetuity,” said Rep. Jesse MacLachlan (R), representing Clinton, Westbrook and Killingworth.  “It’s wonderful to see that we are making it a top priority to preserve the natural beauty and rural character of towns along the shoreline. Only through initiatives like these can our state’s rural areas obtain the true protection they need for years to come. I’d also like to express my sincere gratitude to all parties involved in seeing this come to fruition.”

Other Facts about The Preserve

Voters in Old Saybrook authorized the town to provide $3 million in funding to purchase a portion of The Preserve located in Old Saybrook and a small piece in Westbrook. The Trust for Public has also raised an estimated $1.2 million to cover the final portion of funding for the purchase, and the Essex Land Trust has agreed to purchase 70 acres of land in Essex that is a portion of The Preserve with the help of a $471,250 open space grant from DEEP.

One of the numerous vernal pools found in The Preserve.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

One of the numerous vernal pools found in The Preserve. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

The Preserve consists of approximately 1,000 acres of land along Long Island Sound in three towns: 926 acres in Old Saybrook; 71 acres in Essex; and four acres in Westbrook. The Preserve includes 38 vernal pools, 114 acres of wetlands, more than 3,100 linear feet of watercourses, high quality coastal forest, and an Atlantic White Cedar swamp.

The dense canopy of forest and the Pequot Swamp Pond act as a critical refueling stop for many migratory birds, and the many freshwater seeps on the property are home to amphibian species such as the northern dusky salamander, spotted turtles, and box turtles. In all, more than 100 species of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds thrive on this property, some of which are state-listed species of special concern and others of which are declining in other areas of the state.

In addition to its recreational and habitat resources, The Preserve provides important water quality benefits to residents.  Surface waters on the property drain to three different watersheds: the Oyster River, Mud River and Trout Brook, as they make their way to Long Island Sound.  The protection of The Preserve will ensure that storm water on the site is recharged to local aquifers.  An aquifer protection area is located just east of the Preserve and supplies an average of 200,000 gallons per day of drinking water to Old Saybrook and surrounding communities.

The Preserve also offers benefits for coastal resiliency in the face of climate change, and conservation of it will ensure lessened storm water impacts from hurricanes and other intense storms. The Preserve acts act as a sponge for storm water, releasing it slowly into the tributaries and rivers that lead to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound, protecting downstream property owners from flooding.

Editor’s Note: This article was prepared directly from a press release issued by the House Republican Office.


How Local Residents Can Memorialize Recent Tragedies in Paris

There is a quick and easy way that local residents can demonstrate their sympathy and concern for the recent victims of terrorism in Paris. They can do so by posting in the rear windshields of their cars, the slogan of defiance, “JE SUIS CHARLIE,” which translates into English, “I am Charlie.” .
To make this posting, a person simply has to download from the Internet the phrase, “JE SUIS CHARLIE.” Then print this image on a piece of paper, making sure that the image covers the entire paper. Next, take a piece of cardboard for backing for the poster, such as one that is used when shirts come back from the laundry, and lightly glue the piece of paper with the slogan to the cardboard backing. Then prop the poster in the center of the back window of your car.
The end result can be seen in the image above.
Let’s see how many rear windshields we can get to look like this here in our area of Connecticut!

Snow on Roads: Guidelines from Essex Department of Public Works

The Essex Public Works Department has recently issued an advisory as to what Essex residents should do when there is snow on the town’s roads. Here is a summary:

  1. The Department wants safe driving conditions, when it plows the snow on the Essex town roads.
  2. Plowing snow from private driveways into an Essex road is prohibited.
  3. The Department only removes snow from Essex town roads, and residents are responsible for plowing their own driveways.
  4. Essex residential mail boxes should have sufficient support posts, so that the Essex town snow plows won’t knock them down.
  5. If the Essex town snow plow destroys a mail box or post, the town of Essex will pay up to $75 to replace it.
  6. Essex residents should not put trash cans and recycling bins in a town road when it snows.
  7. Any plantings, fences, walls, invisible dog fences, sprinkler heads, and the like, which are damaged by Essex town plows are not the Town of Essex’s responsibility to replace.

For further details, call the Essex Public Works Department at 860-767-0715.


Linares Denies Rumors of Challenge to Courtney in Next Election    

State Senator (R) Art Linares

State Senator (R) Art Linares

“I have heard the rumors,” State Representative Phil Miller told ValleyNewsNow.com in a recent interview regarding State Senator Art Linares considering a challenge to Congressman Joe Courtney in the 2016 elections. Miller noted that the 2014 elections were tough for Democrats, citing the loss of 14 State Representative seats in the statehouse. Miller also commented that he, himself, had an uphill battle to survive the Republican sweep.

Linares’ spokesman, Adam Liegeot, said, “No,” however, when asked if Linares might challenge Courtney in the next Congressional race.

Linares’ numbers in the last election were impressive. He beat his Democratic challenger, Emily Bjornberg, 22,335 to 17,046, out of a total 39,932 votes cast. The percentages were: 56 percent for Linares and 43 percent for Bjornberg. Most impressive about Republican Linares’ victory was that he won what was once considered a safe Democratic district.

Congressman Joe Courtney (D)

Congressman Joe Courtney (D)

As for Courtney in the last election, he won his fifth term in office with landslide numbers against New London real estate agent Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh. Many considered the Congressman’s challenger weak, however, and state Republicans did not appear to mount a major effort to defeat Courtney.

The Republicans already control the House of Representatives, 234 Republicans to 201 Democrats. Some might argue that if Linares were to become a member of the House Majority, he would be in a better position to help his constituents than Minority member Courtney.

In the same interview, State Representative Phil Miller also commented on what he considered the negativity of candidate Bjornberg’s recent campaign against Linares. “People around here don’t like that,” Miller said. In contrast, however, it might be noted that the winning candidate for Governor, Dan Malloy, ran highly negative TV ads charging that his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, paid no taxes, and yet Malloy went on to win in what was, unquestionably, a tough year for the Democrats.


Sen. Linares Collects Over 800 Signatures to Protest CL&P Rate Hike

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (Rep. Westbrook) has collected over 800 signatures from local residents protesting Connecticut Light & Power plans to adopt a rate hike. According to the Senator at its December 17 meeting, the state’s Public Utilities Commission, “is expected to finalize a $7.12 increase in the average monthly bill that Connecticut Light & Power sends out to its residential customers.”

“The $7.12 rate would come on top of a Jan. 1 increase of $18.48, on average, for CL&P residential customers,” Linares said.

Linares continued, “As a state senator, I represent 100,000 people in a region that stretches along the Connecticut River Valley from Portland south to Old Saybrook and Lyme. Hundreds of Connecticut rate payers have signed this petition because they want state regulators to deny CL&P’s proposed service rate hike. We can’t afford more and more and hikes.”

“Regardless of whether rates are hiked on Wednesday, December 17, Sen. Linares urged residents to continue to email state regulators at: PURA.ExecutiveSecretary@ct.gov to express their concerns about rising costs,” Linares said in a press statement.

Senator Linares also urged residents to sign his online petition at www.senatorlinares.com in opposition to Connecticut Light & Power proposed rate hike, regardless of the Commission’s actions on December 17.


Essex Resident Claims “Frontier” Has Raised Rates, and the Senator Responds

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

Essex resident Robert Kern has written a letter to State Senator Art Linares, complaining that Essex’s new telephone and Internet carrier, Frontier Communications, has raised rates in Essex, when it promised not to do so, after it had acquired local service from AT&T.

Kern in a letter to the Senator wrote that his, “customer bills have gone up despite the pledge by Frontier to keep them the same.” Kern also sent to the Senator, “my recent bills from AT&T and Frontier as an example.”

Making the Case

Kern continued, “Even though the basic line service charge has remained the same, they eliminate a $6.00 monthly ALL DISTANCE promotional credit and added a bogus ‘Carrier Cost Recovery Surcharge’ of $1.99 per month.” As a result,” Kern wrote, “my bill for the exact same services rose from $30.15 to $39.50, an increase of more than 26%.”

“This is outrageous,” Kern wrote the Senator. “Please check this out, as I’m certain customers within your district and across the state are confronted with these unwanted increases in this most basic of utility services.”

Senator Linares’ Response

Promptly responding to Kern’s complaint, the Senator wrote on December 9, “I am bringing your complaint to the attention of state officials.” Also, the Senator advised Kern that, “A Dec. 22 public meeting has been scheduled with executives of Frontier Communications regarding complaints like yours,” and that the meeting would include a public comment section.

The December 22 public meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m., and it will be held at the offices of the Public Utility Regulatory Authority at 10 Franklin Square in New Britain.

The Senator also wrote, “I have found that many frustrated taxpayers are unaware of how to bring their complaints directly to state officials. If you wish to do so on the Frontier issue email PURA at Pura.Executivesecretary@ct.gov and the Office of Consumer Counsel at occ.info@ct.gov.”

The Senator also wrote to Kern, “To file a complaint about Frontier service with the state Department of Consumer Protection, send an email to dcp.fraud@ct.gov,” that includes your contact information and the particulars of your complaint. .


Town of Essex Orders Debris Removal by Land Owner

Trailer ordered removed by Town of Essex

Trailer ordered removed by Town of Essex

The Town of Essex has entered a “Cease and Desist Order” against John Molloy, III, the owner of 194 Saybrook Road in Essex, dated November 25. The town charges that Malloy violated Town of Essex Zoning Regulations, section 115A,   for, 1) “The presence of debris and waste material.” and, 2) “The presence of a commercial truck trailer on the property.”

Debris and waste ordered removed at 194 Saybrook Road, Essex

Debris and waste ordered removed at 194 Saybrook Road, Essex

The Town of Essex’s “Order to Discontinue Violations” noted, “This Order follows four Notice of Violations and numerous phone calls since 2011. To this day it has been noticed that a minimal effort has gone into relieving the situation of clearing the property of the commercial vehicle trailer and debris.”

The town further noted, “The property must be cleaned up to a point where this Order may be removed. The trailer must be removed immediately.”

The Order then threatened the owner with “addition actions [if remedial actions are not taken] … that may result in an enforcement action seeking injunctive orders of the Supreme Court, attorney’s fees, costs and civil penalties as authorized by the zoning regulations sections 150D and 150E as well as Connecticut General Statutes Section 8-12.”

Efforts to reach property owner, John Malloy, III, were unsuccessful.


Essex Meadows Donates $200,000 to Help Acquire The Preserve


ESSEX — The Essex Meadows senior living community has recently contributed $200,000 to help acquire for public use a privately owned, 1,000 acre tract of open land, which is known as The Preserve.  The owners of the community, Essex Meadows Properties, Inc., headed by Chairman of the board and CEO, Fred W. Weitz, donated $100,000 and the community’s residents and staff matched the owners’ contribution with another $100,000.  Essex Meadows is a senior retirement community in Essex, Connecticut. The Preserve property is principally located in the Town of Old Saybrook, with seventy of its acres in Essex, and four in Westbrook.

The land for The Preserve is, reportedly, the largest parcel of vacant, “coastal forest” between New York City and Boston. A small portion of The Preserve borders Essex Meadows’ property.

The Land of the Preserve

The Preserve land consists of heavily forested land in some areas and open land in others. The property has 38 vernal pools, and 114 acres of wetlands, within its boundaries. In addition, the land serves as a “rest stop” for migratory birds, making their migratory journeys north and south.

If the present fundraising efforts to purchase the land for The Preserve are successful, 1,000 acres of open, recreational space will be saved for the use of present and future generations.

The purchase price of the land for The Preserve is $10 million. To date, the State of Connecticut has pledged $3 million, the Town of Old Saybrook by referendum has approved $3 million and the Town of Essex has approved a contribution of $200,000. The remaining monies for the purchase of the Preserve property are being raised from private and public donors by the Essex Land Trust and other organizations.


New Guests on the Lawns of Essex, Deep River and Chester – Lawn Signs


It started with the posting of just a few lawns signs on the lawns of Essex, Deep River and Chester. Among the first signs in view were those of Bob Siegrist, Republican candidate for State Representative, who is running against incumbent State Representative Phil Miller. Notably, the signs that Siegrist put up in Deep River were “extra large,” so that they could not be missed. Then, shortly thereafter, Siegrist’s lawn signs were then even exceeded in size by those of his Republican running mate, State Senator Art Linares, who is running for re-election.


Where were the Democratic lawn signs one began to wonder?   They first appeared modestly along North Main Street in Essex.  Then individual lawn signs began poking into view, including the normal size signs of Emily Bjornberg, Democratic candidate for State Senate, who is running against Senator Linares, and signs for State Representative Phil Miller, who Siegrist is challenging.



In the deluge of lawn signs that was ultimately upon us, the Republicans devoted front row positioning, in cluster after cluster, to the election of Anselmo Delia, the party’s candidate for Judge of Probate. The incumbent Judge of Probate, Terrance Lomme, then not only responded in kind with a splattering of lawns signs, he even went so far as to pay for a commercial billboard located  on Main Street coming into Deep River.

Judge of Probate candidate Anselmo Delia

Judge of Probate candidate Anselmo Delia


Election Day is November 4 this year. Shortly thereafter the lawn signs will disappear, and our area’s laws will return to their normal condition.


An Autumn Gallery

An autumn walk

An autumn walk


The yellow above

The yellow above


and purple

and purple


Sunset pond

Sunset pond


Falls River in Essex

Falls River in Essex


Old Glory in the fall

Old Glory in the fall