April 18, 2015

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

Je_suis_Charlie_sticker
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

Mailbox_in_snow_Essex
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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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

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

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

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

Lomme’s Record as a Judge

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

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme

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

The Republican Challenger

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

Republican candidate for Judge of Probate attorney Anselmo Delia

Republican candidate for Judge of Probate attorney Anselmo Delia

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

Local Resident Recalls Eleanor Roosevelt Endorsement of State Senate Candidacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essex Transfer Station and Recycling Center Procedures Starting October

Pitching in the garbage with feeling

Pitching in the garbage with feeling

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

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

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

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

Supplemental Disposal Fees

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

Payment of Annual Stickers and Punch Cards Online

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

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

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

The Betty Pierson Recycling Building

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

The recycling center

The Betty Pierson Recycling Building

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

Essex Land Trust Seeks to Raise Funds for The Preserve

Jim Denham, President of the Essex Land Trust

Jim Denham, President of the Essex Land Trust

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

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

Visiting the Essex Part of The Preserve

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

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

Fresh water pools in The Preserve

Fresh water pools in The Preserve

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

Forest Trail in Essex’s Part of the Preserve

Forest Trail in Essex’s Part of the Preserve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Optimists -Winners:

White fleet: Nick Hughes of Guilford

Blue fleet: Chris Annino of Ram Island Yacht Club

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

The welcoming building at the Essex Island Marina

The welcoming building at the Essex Island Marina

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

Typical luxury yacht found at Essex Island Marina

Typical luxury yacht found at Essex Island Marina

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

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

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

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

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

The “Manning” Style of Running an Auction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “Absolute Auction” Begins

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

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

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

Jack Brewer Now Owns 29 Marinas

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

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

 

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

Getting the boats ready to launch with Junior Instructors helping out

Getting the boats ready to launch with Junior Instructors helping out

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

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

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

Young sailors launch their sailboats into the Connecticut River

Young sailors launch their sailboats into the Connecticut River

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

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

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

Counting the Sailors at the Sailing Academy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Sailing Programs at the Pettipaug Yacht Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pettipaug Sailing Director Paul Risseeuw provides assistance when necessary

Pettipaug Sailing Director Paul Risseeuw provides assistance when necessary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tennis Courts Are Part of a New Town Enhancement

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

Enjoying new playground equipment in Essex

Enjoying new playground equipment in Essex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essex First Selectman Urges “Yes Vote”

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

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

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

Other Supporters of Acquisition

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

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

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

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

A bird's eye view of the Essex Island Marina

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

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

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

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

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

Property Tour on July 22

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

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

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

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

Marina Is Presently Family Owned

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

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

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

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

Departing Program Librarian Jenny Tripp and Chief Librarian Richard Conroy

Departing Program Librarian Jenny Tripp and Chief Librarian Richard Conroy

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

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

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

Created Popular Bereavement Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

Library Director Lauds Tripp

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

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

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

Beloved Exercise Instructor Says Goodbye to the “Y”

 

Exercise instructor Lisa Laing receives applause from her students

Exercise instructor Lisa Laing receives applause from her students

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

Exercise students, with Lisa, balancing for strength

Exercise students, with Lisa, balancing for strength

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

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

Strolling to the next exercise

Strolling to the next exercise

 

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

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

Getting up the heart beat by walking sideways

Getting up the heart beat by walking sideways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Lisa’s Unique Insights about Exercise   

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

Lisa calls out the orders, while she herself is exercising

Lisa calls out the orders, while she herself is exercising

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

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

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

Not Totally Leaving the Y

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eyesore No More, Essex Slum House Is Taken Down

A bulldozer claws away at the old slum house

A bulldozer claws away at the old slum house

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

The pile of debris gets larger

The pile of debris gets larger

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

The trip to the dump is next

The trip to the dump is next

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

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

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

Essex Eyesore to be Demolished on May 27

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

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

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

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

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

When a Probate Judge Can Give a Person a Helping Hand

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme.

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme.

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

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

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

The Old Saybrook District Probate Court

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

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

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

The Different Kinds of Conservators

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conservatorships Program at Essex Library

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

 

A Smooth Transition from Essex to Westbrook for Middlesex Hospital

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

Exterior of new Emergency Whelen Pavilion in Westbrook

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

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

Closed down Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center in Essex

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

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

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

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

 Middlesex Hospital President and CEO On Hand

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

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

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

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

Exterior of Emergency Center with helicopter coming in

Exterior of Emergency Center with helicopter coming in

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

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

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

The Emergency Center

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

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

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

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

The Outpatient Center

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

Interior of waiting area of the Outpatient Center

Interior of waiting area of the Outpatient Center

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

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

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

Entertainments for the Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski who handled the sale

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski who handled the sale

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Train Approaching” at Westbrook rail station

“Train Approaching” at Westbrook rail station

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

Passengers arriving at Westbrook station

Passengers arriving at Westbrook station

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

New station building at Westbrook station

New station building at Westbrook station

 

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

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

Commuters Applaud New Westbrook Station

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

Plenty of parking spaces at Westbrook station

Plenty of parking spaces at Westbrook station

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

Parking sign at Old Saybrook train station

Parking sign at Old Saybrook train station

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

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop with station design

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop with station design

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

The Advantages of the New Rail Station

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

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

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

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

New Hobby in Essex, the Keeping of Chickens

 

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

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

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

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

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

It Takes a Lot of Skills to Raise Chickens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baby Chickens for Sale in Old Saybrook

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

Tractor Supply Company, which sells baby chickens

Tractor Supply Company, which sells baby chickens

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

Chickens for Sale sign at tractor company

Chickens for Sale sign at tractor company

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let the races begin!

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

 

Exterior of auctioned property

Exterior of auctioned property

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St pat 1

St pat 2

St pat 3

St Pat 4

St Pat 5

St pat 6

St Pat 9

St Pat 10

St Pat 11

Stpat 7

Stpat 8

Stpat 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well Worth a $40 Boat Ride    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eagles Up in the Sky, and On Land as Well

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

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

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

First Up, and Then Down the River

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Middlesex Hospital to Open New Westbrook Medical Center in April

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chester Company Donates $1 Million to New Center

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

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

Middlesex Hospital’s History of Medical Care on the Shoreline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Portrait of a sidewinder steamboat after passing under Brooklyn Bridge

Portrait of a sidewinder steamboat after passing under Brooklyn Bridge

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

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

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

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

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

Treasured Jacobson Steamship Portraits

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

Portrait of late model steamboat by noted marine artist Antonio Jacobson

Portrait of late model steamboat by noted marine artist Antonio Jacobson

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

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

Original portrait of a steamboat by Jacobson at Griswold Inn

Original portrait of a steamboat by Jacobson at Griswold Inn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CVS pharmacy where they no longer sell cigarettes

CVS pharmacy where they no longer sell cigarettes

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski conducted the auction, recognizing 28 bids

Essex Attorney Jeannine Wyszkowski conducted the auction, recognizing 28 bids

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

To Tear Down or Not to Tear Down

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

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

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

Exterior of auctioned property of Edmund Mormile, pending court approval

Exterior of auctioned property of Edmund Mormile, pending court approval