April 2, 2015

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

1) The American History Book Club

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

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

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

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

2) The Third Wednesday Book Club

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

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

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

3) The First Thursday Book Club 

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

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

4) The Shakespeare Book Club

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

5) The Classic Book Club

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

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

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

The Library Director’s View of the Book Clubs

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

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

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

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


Luisa Kreis Whiting displaying her paintings at the Essex Library

Luisa Kreis Whiting displaying her paintings at the Essex Library

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

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

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

New England moonlight from painter’s imagination

New England moonlight from painter’s imagination

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

Clouds over a New England landscape

Clouds over a New England landscape

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

Her Father a Noted Artist  

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

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

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


Sign presently on the property at 63 North Main Street

Sign presently on the property at 63 North Main Street

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

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

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

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

The abandon property up for sale at auction on January 25

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

How the Auction Will Proceed

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

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

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

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


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

Chris Dobbs, new Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum

Chris Dobbs, new Executive Director of Connecticut River Museum

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

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

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

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

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

"Conversational" billboard entrance to the Museum

“Conversational” billboard entrance to the Museum

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

The Dream of a Steamboat Tied Up at Steamboat Dock

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

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

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

The unadorned entrance of the Connecticut River Museum

The unadorned entrance of the Connecticut River Museum

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

Tying the Museum to the Entire Connecticut River

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

Artist rendering at the Museum of 1814 British attack on Essex

Artist rendering at the Museum of 1814 British attack on Essex

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

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

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


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

The new Westbrook medical center under construction

The new Westbrook medical center under construction

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

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

New Center Can Expand to 60,00 Square Feet

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

There is still work to do

There is still work to do

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

The present medical center in Essex

The present medical center in Essex

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

Advantages of New Westbrook Location

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Town Hall Parking Lot

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

The New Tennis Courts

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

The cleared and packed site, awaiting the new tennis courts

The cleared and packed site, awaiting the new tennis courts

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

The New Playscape (Playground)

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

Excavating a new drainage pipe on the new playground

Excavating a new drainage pipe on the new playground

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

Assembled site materials for the new playground

Assembled site materials for the new playground

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

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

An Autumn Parade, As the Leaves Turn

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

First, there is an autumn tree in full colored splendor

First, there is an autumn tree in full colored splendor


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

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

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

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


Rough Seas Cancel Pettipaug Rowing Event

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

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

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

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

Taking the shells out of the water shortly thereafter.

Taking the shells out of the water shortly thereafter.

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

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

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

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

Pettipaug Race Ended Shell’s Racing Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blight Ordinance Not to Affect Existing Situations

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

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

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

Essex Top Three Blighted Properties

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

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

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

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

Entrance to blighted property on Prospect Street at North Main Street

Entrance to blighted property on Prospect Street at North Main Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roosevelt Goes Slow in Going to War

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

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

Author Lynne Olson

Author Lynne Olson

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

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

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

Charles Lindbergh, America’s Voice for Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

The new Red Trail bridge at the Bushy Hill Nature Camp

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

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

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

The old Red Trail bridge to Berry-Berry Island

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

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

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

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

Chester's Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

Chester’s Tyler Johnson displays his 33 Scout Merit badges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Large Corporate Owner of Chester Village West

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

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

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

The Array of Services at Chester Village West  

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

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

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

More Features at the Chester Village West

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

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

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

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

Essex Meadows to Hold Three Retirement Workshops This Coming Fall

Sign at the entrance of Essex Meadows.

Sign at the entrance of Essex Meadows.

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

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

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

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

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

Presenters with Long Experience in the Field

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work Going Forward on Other Parcels

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

The “New Insides” of the Croft Mansion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State’s Open Meetings Law Violated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sabol Started Out Using Oil Paint

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

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

Positive and Negative Spaces in a Painting

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

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

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

Sabol’s Path to Painting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Good Old Days for the Essex Medical Center

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

The present Emergency Medical Center in Essex

The present Emergency Medical Center in Essex

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

The entrance of the Emergency Medical Center in Guilford

The entrance of the Emergency Medical Center in Guilford

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

Middlesex Hospital Fights Back

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

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

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

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

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

Working weekends to complete construction of new Westbrook medical center

Working weekends to complete construction of new Westbrook medical center

Who Invented the Emergency Medical Center Concept?

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

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

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

Both Hospitals and Patients Are the Winners

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

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

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

The Pratt House, A Treasure Trove of Essex History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pratt House Through the Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pratt Family Had Many Occupations 

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

Old four poster bed, note the chamber pot

Old four poster bed, note the chamber pot

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

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

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

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

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

The Pratt House Today

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

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

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

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

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

Honk, Honk, Toot, Toot, Essex’s Classic Auto Show, Shows Its Cool on the 4th

On a blistering Fourth of July, Essex’s Antique and Classic Car Show could not have been cooler. Close to a hundred cars filled with visitors showed up for the show. On view was everything from a 1914 Model T Ford Speedster to a 1937 Cadillac Coupe Convertible.

In all there was an estimate of over three hundred people looking over the exhibition-quality, old cars that were spread out on the grounds of Hubbard Field in Essex.

Model T Speedster Up in Front

At the very front row of the show was a 1914 Model T Ford Speedster, proudly owned by Bruce Robinson of Chester, who brought along his granddaughter, Ann Lovelace, to the auto show.

Bruce Robinson and Granddaughter, Ann Lovelace, in 1914 Model T

Bruce Robinson and Granddaughter, Ann Lovelace, in 1914 Model T


Robinson said that he had bought the engine and chassis of the Speedster four years ago, and that he paid $40,000 for the vehicle’s renovation. The restoration was done by Ralph Herman of Essex, who specializes in making old cars look like new.

One thing that you have to careful about in driving the brilliant yellow car that he had on display is that, “The brakes do not work too good.” “You have to slow down,” before the brakes will engage, he said.

Antique Car Owner MacMillan Has a Winner   

Just down the line was a 1912 Ford Model T Touring Car owned by Bruce MacMillan. MacMillan was an unsuccessful candidate for Essex First Selectman in the last town election, and, “It wasn’t even close,” he said.

As for his 1912 antique car on display, MacMillan said that 15 million of these touring cars were built by Ford. His car’s model number is 176,713 out of these 15 million built. Also, MacMillan says that he drives his car all the time around Essex, even though the car is now 101 years old.

Bruce MacMillan and his 1912 Ford Model T Touring Car

Bruce MacMillan and his 1912 Ford Model T Touring Car

MacMillan noted that his car had its original body and engine, and that it had an estimated worth of $50,000. Also, originally, the car had removable doors.

A 1956 Chevy Belair Auto Also on View

A V-8 powered Chevy Belair was also a star at the Antique and Classic Car Show. Owned by Ed Makrisch, he said that driving his classic vehicle, “brings back many memories.” He said that cars like these provided “basic transportation” for millions of people.

Ed Makrisch at the wheel of his 1956 Chevy Belair

Ed Makrisch at the wheel of his 1956 Chevy Belair

As for now, he said, these cars are restored better than they ever were, and worth more now than they ever were as well. As for the value of his car in its present pristine condition, he said it could be worth as much as $75,000 to $100,000

Terry Lomme in Charge of the Show 

Terry Lomme, an Essex resident, was in charge of this year’s 6th Annual Antique and Classic Car Show, sponsored by the Essex Automobile Club. Lomme said that there was, “a very interesting variety of vehicles at this year’s show.”

The exhibited cars range he said “from a 1910 Model T, Ford Speedster to a 1971 Mercedes Benz sedan.” Lomme also noted that all of the proceeds from the auto show are being donated to the Child and Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut.

Here Comes a Classic Cadillac!

Another star at the show, and there were many, was a 1937 Cadillac, 60 Series, Coupe Convertible, owned by Paul and Leslee Lavigne. Paul said that when they were restoring their Coupe Convertible up to its present pristine condition, his wife found all of the parts that they needed over the Internet.

Paul Lavighe and wife, Leslee, by their 1937 Cadillac Coupe

Paul Lavigne and wife, Leslee, by their 1937 Cadillac Coupe

Also, he said that the couple drives their Cadillac convertible to various antique auto shows, and that, “it is a lot of fun to drive.” He also stressed that these were “durable cars,” as well as “a pleasure to ride in.” Also, the car even had a rumble seat in back.

At the auto show, there were not only elegant and dependable cars on view, there were also what are called, “muscle cars.” If you are ever asked what that means, it is the name given for the high performance cars of the 1960’s.

Rubble seat of 1937 Cadillac Coupe

Rubble seat of 1937 Cadillac Coupe

Boaters Just Seem to Want to Own Their Own Boats, Regardless of the Cost

The boats packed in at Ferry Point Marina in Old Saybrook

The boats packed in at Ferry Point Marina in Old Saybrook

There are two very strong arguments against owning a boat. Number one, it is very expensive to buy a boat, and Number two, once you buy a boat, it is very expensive to own it as well.

As for buying a new boat, a top of the line powerboat, of say 31 feet, can cost as much as $270,000. A slightly smaller boat of 28 feet can cost $160,000, and even a 20 foot powerboat can cost $50,000.

These figures are not “guesstimates,” they come from a reputable boat dealer.

The High Cost of Owning a Boat

Having surmounted the considerable financial hurdle of buying a boat, next there are the frequently the staggering costs of owning one. Let’s start by examining the actual expenses of an owner of a 34 foot powerboat, who keeps his boat for the season at Brewer’s Ferry Point Marina in Old Saybrook.

Although this boat owner was shy about giving his name, he was more than happy to lament publicly about the high cost of operating his powerboat during the boating season. These costs include: paying the winter storage cost of $1,600; paying the boat slip rental fee to the marina of $4,500, and paying his boat’s annual insurance fee of $2,000.

However these costs, which total $8,100, are just a start of what he has to pay to operate his boat. This is especially true; if this turns out to be the year, when one or both of the twin diesel engines of his 21 year old powerboat needs repairs. The highly trained mechanics that can fix boat engines, incidentally, are very, very expensive.

Now let’s turn to the costs of actually operating this powerboat, such as taking it on a trip to Block Island and back. This trip would cost $500, just for the fuel alone. Also, if he wanted to rent a slip on Block Island that could cost $40, if not more.

The point is that running the two powerful diesel engines that drive this powerboat is a very expensive proposition. However, when asked if he felt that the expenses of his boat are worth it, the boat owner replied, “I would not trade it in for the world.”

The boat, incidentally, is called, “The Other Woman.”

"The Other Woman," with her captain on board

“The Other Woman,” with her captain on board

Operating a Smaller Boat Also Expensive   

Another boat owner at the Brewer’s yard in Old Saybrook was the owner of a 20 foot, six inch, powerboat. The owner, who said his first name was “Russ,” is presently a senior designer at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Norwich.

With a certain pride this boat owner said that he could take his boat, “anywhere in Long Island Sound.” For this privilege he pays up front $3,000 a year for a slip at the marina, and $2,000 for insurance. He saves the expense of winter storage, because he keeps the boat off season in his own backyard.

The boat owner said that he frequently took his wife and their three children out for boat rides.  He also mentioned that when he was younger, he suffered a very serious motorcycle accident, which appeared not to have slowed him down.

Russ's wife and their three children frequently sail together

Russ’s wife and their three children frequently sail together

One thing that this boat owner is very serious about is that he would never rent a boat. “It would be like a box of chocolate,” he said, “You would never know what you are getting.”

He also said that, “I find the familiarity of owning my own boat, very comforting.”

A Boat Full of Old Lyme Visitors

Also on hand on a recent afternoon at the Ferry Point Marina, was a powerboat that had brought a family of five across the Connecticut River from Old Lyme to Old Saybrook. The members of the family were David Wiese, a Hartford attorney; his wife, Maher-Wiese, MD, a dermatologist in Essex, and their three children, Kaylyn, Ellie and Colin.

Happy family from Old Lyme pay a call

Happy family from Old Lyme pay a call

Asked why he owned a boat, Weiss replied, “Boating is a favorite thing.” He also acknowledged, “The boat is a lot of work, but we do it for the family.” The family has owned their 28 foot powerboat for the past ten years, and, interestingly, they never gave the boat a name.  “We just never got around to it,” Wiese says.

Another unique thing about their “nameless” powerboat is that there is a huge bimini shading the boat’s entire cockpit area. “That was my idea,” says dermatologist Maher-Wiese. She wanted to make sure that her family was completely sheltered from the harmful rays of the sun, while they were boating.

Old Lyme visitors head back home

Old Lyme visitors head back home


The general attitude of those boaters, who own their own boats, is that the financial expenses just have to be endured. Also, sometimes people get so close to their boats that the boats almost become a part of the family. You cannot begrudge a person from spending a lot of money on their own family, now can you?

See also related article by Jerome Wilson The Uphill Battle of Convincing Boaters to Rent Boats Rather Than  Own Them

The Uphill Battle of Convincing Boaters to Rent Boats Rather Than Own Them

It is hardly a contest. The favored way by more than a hundred fold and more, is that boaters along the eastern Connecticut shoreline prefer to own their own boats, rather than rent them.

Take for example the very modest boat rental program at the Brewer Pilots Point Marina in Westbrook. Whereas there are literally hundreds slips for boat owners keeping their own boats at this marina, there are only two boats that are available for rent at the marina.

Brewer’s Boat Rental Plans

That’s right, amidst hundreds of boat owners renting slips at the marina, Brewers offers only two boats that are for rent. They are: (1) a 24- foot Key West, center console, motor boat, and (2) a 24-foot Sea Ray Sundeck motor boat.

To rent these boats Brewers has set up a Brewer’s Boating Club, which offers boat renters a number of rental options. The top of the line of these plans are the Skippers Plans, which offer peak season boat usage, and which vary in price from $3,775 to $5,375 depending on boat usage. Next, down the line is the Captain’s Choice Plan for $6,295, which offers “Nearly Limitless membership features,” with “weekend reservation privileges… ”

Then there are the club’s Weekday Plans, including a Windward plan for $4,095 a season, and a Weekday Per Diem Membership Plan, which offers a 5-hour weekday usage for $395.

The complexity of these varying plans is challenging. However, Kit Will, Brewer’s personable, Pilots Point Sailing and Charter Director can explain it all. He can be reached at 860-575-8329, and at kwill@byy.com

One of the points that Kit Will makes is that belonging to the Brewers Boating Club is, “a good stepping stone to boat ownership.” He, himself, is a professional boat captain, who has over 25,000 miles of off-shore racing experience.

Pilots Point Marina's Kit Will aboard a 24 foot Key West center console, motor boat for rent

Pilots Point Marina’s Kit Will aboard a 24 foot Key West center console, motor boat for rent

A Simpler Boat Renting Option

Certainly, a far less complicated way to rent a motor boat along the Shoreline can be found at the Westbrook Marine Center, located at 533 Boston Post Road in Westbrook. The co-owner of the operation is the affable Tasha Cusson, who owns it with her husband. The advantage of renting a boat here, according to Tasha, “is that you just get in and go.”

The boats offered for rental at the Westbrook Marine Center are: 1) an 18 foot May-Craft Skiff, which has a five person capacity, and which is powered by a 90 horsepower outboard motor with a fuel tank of 42 gallons. 2) The second boat offered for rent at the Westbrook Marine Center is a 20 foot Hydras Sports Vector, which has a passenger capacity of six persons and is powered by a 225 horse power engine with an 85 gallon fuel capacity.

Westbrook Marine Center's 20 foot Hydra-Sport Vector motor boat for rent

Westbrook Marine Center’s 20 foot Hydra-Sport Vector motor boat for rent

The rates for boat rentals at the Marine Center are easy to understand. The 18 foot boat rents for $330 for four hours, and $495 for eight hours. The larger 20 foot boat rents for $365 for four hours, and $560 for eight hours.  Also, on occasion the boats are rented for a longer term at “a special lower rate,” according to Tasha. In addition to the rental charges, boat renters are required to fill up the fuel tanks of their rental boats before returning them.

According to Tasha, “Most people know boats, who rent from us.” As for those who are less familiar with boats, she says that a boat rental “is a fantastic opportunity to try out boating.” Before every boat rental, the renter is briefed from an extensive check list. Furthermore, Tasha says that she does not rent her boats to everyone. “I have turned people away,” she says, adding, “The personal safety of the renter is the key.”

Tasha also notes that possessing a State of Connecticut Safe Boating Certificate is not a necessary qualification for renting a boat in the state. However, her favorable judgment, as to whether or not the Marine Center wants to rent the boat to a particular person, is a necessity.

Tasha also noted that she had a number of rentals over Father’s Day weekend. The number to call for a boat rental is 860-399-8467.

Next week we shall profile three typical boat owners, who pay handsomely for their seasonal boating slips, but are grudgingly happy to do so.

Treasured Items Abound at Estuary Council’s “Thrift Shop,” and They Cost So Little

A large collection of ladies' blouses and slacks

A large collection of ladies’ blouses and slacks

Betsy Cote’ may be slight of build, but she has large responsibilities at the busy Thrift Shop of the Estuary Council in Old Saybrook. The Council’s building is located at 210 Main Street, way in the back of the shopping plaza. The Thrift Shop is on the first floor of the Council building.

Working under Cote’ at the Thrift Shop are 70 volunteers, who work in shifts at the check-out counter and around the store helping others. There are always at least three of the volunteer staff members on the floor, when the shop is open.  By far most of the volunteers are women, although there is a sprinkle of males.

Donations, which come into the Thrift Shop, are first sorted by item. The shop accepts donations of house wear, plates, cups and saucers, silver wear and clothing. When Cote’ was asked to give her definition of house wear, she said, “Anything in the house.”

No Electrical Items Accepted

However, if you have to plug in your donation, be advised the Thrift Shop does not accept electrical items. The most popular item at the Thrift Shop, according to Cote’, is puzzles.  At the shop the puzzles for sale range in size from 1,000 pieces down to 300 pieces. Most popular are 500 piece puzzles, and like the rest, “they go fast,” says Cote’.

The "Dollar rack" is always popular

The “Dollar rack” is always popular

Also, balls of yarn are a popular item among Thrift Shop shoppers, as is the sewing area, which offers a plethora of buttons in jars, and even a collection of zippers.  On hand as well are place mats, napkins, washcloths and towels. There are sheets as well of various sizes.

The motto of the Thrift Shop is, “If you would not buy it, we would not sell it,” Cote’ says. She, herself, is the only paid employee at the Thrift Shop, at a modest salary.

“Everything is really going great here,” Cote’ says. As for the Thrift Shop, “It is very successful.”

One thing that Thrift Shop customers should realize is that, the Thrift Shop does not wash or dry clean any of the items that come in as donations and are for sale.  Cleaning is left up to the customer, who purchased the item.

"But will the fit?" that is the question

“But will the fit?” that is the question

Wacky Wednesdays” for Super Bargains

One thing that brings in lots of customers is “Wacky Wednesday” specials. Kept a secret until the day of the event, on a recent Wednesday all articles of clothing were half price.

The Estuary Council’s Thrift Shop is open on weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., and Saturdays it is open from 9:00 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. The shop is closed on Sundays.

Volunteers at the shop on weekdays work in two shifts, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and 1:00 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.  All are volunteers.

Cote’ tells the story that once someone donated, literally, a truck load of sheets, and the Thrift Shop sold them all. Customers made table cloths out of the sheets, lining for draperies, and some even made skirts out of the sheets.

Cote’ stressed that that they try to keep the Thrift Shop “neat and clean.” She also says that it is “a fun place to work,” and that “you meet great people.”

As for shop-lifting at the Thrift Shop, it may happen in very rare cases. As for the volunteers at the checkout counter, Coty’ says that she never once doubted their honesty.

The Eyesore of Lovely Essex; Can’t Something Be Done About It?

63 North Main Street in Essex. What a mess!

63 North Main Street in Essex. What a mess!

Downtown Essex has one of the nation’s classic, small town centers. There is the charming “round about,” where Main Street converges with North Main Street. There is the historic Griswold Inn just down the way on Main Street, and further still the striving Connecticut River Museum, and the waters of the Connecticut River.

As for North Main Street from the “round about” outward along the river, there is a veritable parade of marvelous residences, the restored Dickenson Mansion among them.

However, among the marvelous homes of Essex, there is one exception, and that is the abandoned, burned out structure located at the southwest corner of North Main Street and New City Street.

This is the Town of Essex’s poster child of urban blight.

The Essex "slum house" has considerable fire damage.

The Essex “slum house” has considerable fire damage.

Why can’t something be done to restore or eliminate, this boarded up, fire-singed property? Could it be torn down and replaced by a mini-park?  Or perhaps a new house could be built on the property, one that is worthy of its grand neighbors!

Present House Called an “Eye Sore”

“It’s an eye store,” says nearby Essex resident Marianne Flores, who was walking by the house on a recent afternoon. She lives nearby, and walks by the town’s “five star” slum almost every day. “I can’t believe that the town has not done something about it,” she says.

Furthermore, in Ms Flores’ view, “The property is beyond fixing up,” and the present house should be simply torn down. Another neighbor of the slum house, who just came by, nodded her head in agreement.

First Selectman Says He’s Trying  

Essex’s First Selectman Norman Needleman issued a long statement as to what he was doing to address the Town of Essex’s number one slum property. He said,

“Regarding 63 North Main Street property, we have been actively engaged with the bank, the insurance company, and the neighbors in trying to resolve the very difficult situation presented by this property.

It recently went into foreclosure, and my hope is that the bank will move forward in trying to sell the property soon.

“Options such as organizing a group of interested neighbors to purchase the mortgage on the property have been presented, but no response has been received from the bank. I have been told that they are under strict confidentiality guidelines. I regularly speak to the neighbors and keep them abreast of the situation.

“This issue is high on the list of property issues that needed to be resolved, since before I was elected nearly two years ago. I am happy to say that several of the other issues, like the Mazda dealership and the Sunoco station are, or are being resolved. In addition, the property across from the Sunoco station is in the process of a lengthy and costly cleanup.”

 Selectman Joel Marzi Expresses Concern

Essex’s Selectman Joel Marzi also expressed his concern about the eyesore on North Main Street. “It is absolutely a shame that it had to happen,” Marzi said, regarding the present degraded condition of the house on North Main Street. Marzi also said that he and the other selectmen were determined to address the issue.

Essex’s other Selectman, Stacia Libby, said, “We are all in this together,” referring to herself and the other two Selectmen. “It is an unfortunate situation, and we have about exhausted all our efforts.”

Five Sailboats of the U.S. Naval Academy Pay a Visit to Little Essex, Connecticut

The Daring, a 44 foot sailboat coming into Essex

The Daring, a 44 foot sailboat coming into Essex

Five, forty-four foot sailboats belonging to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis paid a call on the little shoreline town of Essex on June 14. They stayed the weekend of June 15 and 16, and then set sail back to Annapolis by eight in morning of June 17.

The five “Navy 44” sailboats arrived at the Essex town docks at around 3:00 p.m. on Friday, June 14, and they were greeted by Essex Yacht Club’s Rear Commodore Wes Bray. (The club’s Commodore and Vice Commodore were sailing elsewhere.) Rear Commodore Bray said in his welcoming remarks that it was “fantastic” that the Naval Academy had selected Essex for a visit of its sailboats, and that the town was “honored” by their presence.

An Essex dock worker catches the sailboat's line

An Essex dock worker catches the sailboat’s line

And pulls the sailboat to the dock

And pulls the sailboat to the dock

Also, Terry Stewart, the Commodore of the next door, Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, came over to greet the crews of the Naval Academy that had come to Essex.  It was a nice touch, and showed that at least one local Yacht Club Commodore had come out to greet them.

Each Naval Academy Sailboat Costs over $1 Million

As for the Naval Academy’s custom made sailboats, reportedly, it costs $1.09 million to build each boat, with every penny paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Presently the sailboats are three years old.

Lt. Commander Joe Slaughter, the ranking officer of the five-boat cruise to Essex, was asked why did the Navy need to have sailboats, when it has nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers and a fleet of high tech, battleships. Were these sailboats really necessary to the Navy’s mission?

Commander Slaughter sprang to the defense of the Naval Academy’s policy of having sailboats at the Academy. Learning to sail, he said, teaches those at the Academy “the rules of the road” at sea, which “everybody has to learn.” These rules include, knowing the meanings of the lights, buoys and markers that are found in harbors and along coastlines.

Even more important, in the Commander’s view, learning to sail, was extremely important in learning the challenges of leadership in the Navy. This leadership training was crucial in his view to the positions of command that these midshipmen will hold in the future. These words were delivered by the Commander with almost an evangelical fervor.

Rough and Stormy Seas Sailing to Essex

The voyage from Annapolis to Essex was a very difficult sail. At times waves were as high as ten feet, and there were steady downpours of rain and high winds as well. Also, off the long New Jersey coast, one of the boats, the Daring, had an engine problem, and it had to be towed into Atlantic City by the U.S. Coast Guard for repairs.

One midshipman, John Kameen, who serves as the Starboard Watch Officer on the Daring, told the story that  at one point deep in the night in the stormiest of seas, the Daring boat found itself lagging further and further behind the other sailboats. This was happening, even though the engine of the Daring was running, and the sails were full.

Finally, as the boat slipped even further behind the others, the discovery was made that the boat‘s engine was not in gear. “Everyone was really tired,” the Starboard Watch Officer said, not really believing that this was a valid excuse.

Not a Lot of Room On Board for a Crew of Ten

Each of the 44 foot sailboats that came up to Essex had crews of ten. However, the number of sleeping bunks for these ten crew members was five.

A midshipman takes out a bumper to protect the boat's hull

A midshipman takes out a bumper to protect the boat’s hull

The boat’s five sleeping bunks are divided up as follows. There is one single bunk aft for the use of both the boat’s Skipper and the Executive Officer. This double use of a single bunk is called a “Hot Rack,” we were told.

For the other eight members of the crew, there are four bunks, which run along the along the sides of the main cabin. This means that while four crew members are sleeping in these bunks, the other four are either up on deck, or doing something useful below.

The Daring's Skipper (center) with seven of his crew

The Daring’s Skipper (center) with seven of his crew

In addition to this bunking arrangement there, is a single head (bathroom) located in the forward area of the boat. For delicacy’s stake the boat’s toilet area can be enlarged somewhat into a small dressing room. But again, there is only one bathroom for a crew of ten.

The Sexual Balance on the Sailboat

As for the sexes of the members of crew, the Skipper of the sailboat Daring was a male civilian, and the Executive Officer was a female Navy lieutenant. As for the rest of the crew, there were five males and three females.  This meant that in total the Daring had a crew of six males and four females. Considering the all male officers corps of the U.S. Navy not too many years ago, this ratio is quite impressive.

In the view of Starboard Watch Officer Kameen, and he seemed sincere, “The Navy has done a great job in making the integration of men and women seamless,” adding, “It’s been great.”

However, he did say that in a very few cases of lifting heavy objects, it is only the men that have the strength to lift them.

As for flirtations between the sexes on board, the Midshipman said, “They keep you so busy; there is no time to think about it.” Also, it should be noted that when the weather permits there are vigorous exercises programs top sides, which involves in some cases doing as many as 200 pushups.

New York City Developer Puts Iconic Windmill Property on Foxboro Point Up For Sale

Want to buy a windmill for almost $2 million?

Want to buy a windmill for almost $2 million?

With a price tag of $1,925,000, New York City developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr., is offering to sell a notable Essex landmark, the windmill at Foxboro Point. Listing materials assert that the sale is, “Once in the lifetime chance to own the windmill.”

They continue, “This unique waterfront [property] is one of the most recognized features on the Connecticut River. It is comprised of multiple floors of living area including, a living room, wet bar bedroom, full bath and more.” (Unexplained is what is meant by a “wet bar bedroom.”)

The listing materials also state that the property has on the third floor a master bedroom with a full bath, a second floor kitchen, and a first floor dining room. There is also a full, unfinished basement with hatchway. Real property taxes are listed in the materials as $15,441.

Windmill Not an Historic Building

Although many locals on the shoreline think that the windmill is a historic structure, it was actually built in 1967. As for further details about the property, it has shingles siding, a basement water heater and is connected to public water. It also has baseboard heating and electric sewer and septic.

The listing agent of the property is Colette Harron of William Pitt, which has an office in Essex.

“Meals On Wheels” Is Signature Program of O.S. Estuary Council of Seniors


Chef of Estuary Council, Stuart Tedesco, cooking “Meals on Wheels”

It is difficult to get your hands around the many helpful services that the Estuary Council of Seniors provides to senior residents of its nine member towns in eastern Connecticut. These fortunate nine towns, served by the Council, are Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Killingworth, Old Lyme, Lyme, Essex, Deep River, and Chester.

One undertaking that is certainly in the forefront of the Estuary Council’s services to seniors is the delivery of prepared “hot” and frozen meals to those in need. These meal deliveries are made to needy seniors in the Council’s nine member towns, as well as to seniors in Madison.  If you happen to live in one of these towns, the number to call to enroll in “Meals on Wheels” lunch and dinner programs is 860-388-1611.

However, meal deliveries are strictly limited to persons who are, 1) over 60 years of age, and 2) no longer able to prepare a meal for themselves, or can no longer shop for food.   However, a recipient is not required to have a doctor’s prescription to establish that she or he is eligible for an at home meal delivery.

Donation Requested of $3.00 a Meal

A donation of $3.00 a meal, payable at the end of each month, is requested under the program.  Noon meals on weekdays are delivered “hot,” and a typical “hot” lunch might consist of meat loaf, potatoes and beets, accompanied by coffee, milk and a fresh apple or pudding for desert.

Evening meals delivered for weekdays, and noon and evening meals delivered for weekends, are frozen and must be heated by recipients.

Summing up the service, the Estuary Council’s Nutrition Coordinator, Peggy Barrett, says, “We serve two meals a day, seven days a week, for every person who is a part of this program.”

Hundreds of “Meals on Wheels” Are Delivered

All of the meals delivered under this program are prepared at the Estuary Council’s well equipped kitchen in Old Saybrook. Supervising the entire food preparation operation is Stuart Tedesco, Food Service Manager/Chef of the Estuary Council of Seniors.

Tedesco says that the “Meals on Wheels” service is, “the best kept secret in the area.” “We still serve good tasting quality food for $3.00,” she says.

The totals of the number of “Meals on Wheels” delivered by the Estuary Council are impressive. On a single weekday, according to Nutrition Coordinator Barrett, one hundred and forty-one “hot” noon meals will be delivered by Council volunteers to needy seniors. These “hot” lunches are served to the previously noted member towns of Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester, Killingworth, Westbrook, Clinton, Old Lyme, Lyme, as well to seniors in the non-member town of Madison.

Early morning packers of "Meals on Wheels, Ted Pigeon and Scotty Pepe

Early morning packers of “Meals on Wheels, Ted Pigeon and Scotty Pepe

In addition to the delivery of “hot” meals at noon on weekdays, the Estuary Council also delivers to entitled seniors weekday evening meals, and noon and evening meals on the two days of the weekend. However, these meals are frozen and must be defrosted by the recipient.

The meals to be distributed are first put together each weekday morning from a pool of 20 volunteer packers. Then, from a pool of 70 volunteer drivers, the meals are personally delivered to the homes of the seniors who are a part of the program.

"Meals on Wheels" volunteer, Katharina Youll making a delivery

“Meals on Wheels” volunteer, Katharina Youll making a delivery

Other Programs for Seniors at Estuary Council

In addition to the “Meals on Wheels” program, there are a host of other programs, offered by the Estuary Council of Seniors, which deserve mention. Among them are the Café lunches which are offered every weekday in the Estuary Counsel’s main dining room.  One special feature of the Café lunches is that before the meal those attending stand and recite the Pledge Allegiance to the Flag. (The words are listed below.)

Also, there is a thriving thrift shop on the lower floor of the Estuary Council’s main building, which has racks of women and men’s apparel as well exquisite place settings and literally racks of sportswear.

The Estuary Council also has a Medical Transportation service that takes seniors to their medical appointments, either at doctors’ or dentists’ offices, or to medical facilities, such as Hartford Hospital and Yale/ New Haven Hospital. Round trips for medical appointments taking less than five hours have a suggest donation of $35. For trips over five hours the suggested donation is $70.

There are also a staggering number of special programs, which take at the Council’s Old Saybrook headquarters. They range from free health check-ups to senior physical fitness classes, and from Yoga classes to the meetings of the Quilt Club.

Meals delivered (left to right) Katharina Youll and recipients Ann and Thomas Perrone

Meals delivered (left to right) Katharina Youll and recipients Ann and Thomas Perrone

And, now all together, the Pledge Allegiance:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Powerboat Instruction a Popular Feature at Pettipaug Yacht Club This Summer

Pettipaug Waterfront Director Paul Risseeuw with his class

Pettipaug Waterfront Director Paul Risseeuw with his class

The Pettipaug Yacht Club’s Waterfront Director, Paul Risseeuw, is conducting Powerboat courses at his club this summer. The Pettipaug club is located in Essex, directly on the Connecticut River. The tuition for the one day, nine and a half hour powerboat course is $180, although there are circumstances when it can cost less. There will be a total of twelve of these courses during the boating season.

The Powerboat course includes an extensive “on shore” briefings of how to safely operate a powerboat, and it also includes considerable time on the water as well, where students operate powerboats themselves on boats owned by the yacht club.

The course on the first of June was attended by nine students. The “on the land” part of the course was held in the meeting room of the Pettipaug clubhouse, which was barely cooled by a single fan. However, the students attending, mostly teenagers, appeared eager to learn from the course.

Risseeuw began the course by saying, “We are going to have to correct some of your bad habits,” that they may have learned from previous motor boating on their own.

Risseeuw then patiently asked each student to share their own powerboating experience. Interestingly, many of the students had experiences in sailboats, but very few knew much about operating a powerboat.

There then ensued an hour plus, introductory lecture by Risseeuw on virtually every aspect on how to operate, safely, a powerboat. He spoke extensively on the basic right of way rules on the water, as well as the important principles involved in starting, stopping and maintaining an outboard engine.

Then, it was down to the docks of the Pettipaug club for some “on the water” instruction on operating a powerboat. The students were divided up in crews of two persons to each boat, and before they climbed on board their boats, Risseeuw spoke at length on how to start an outboard engine, by properly using the choke and the throttle.

He also spoke about the proper maintenance of the fuel and fuel tanks of outboard motors, and the importance of using gas that is less than three months old.

There was also instruction on how properly to get into and out of a powerboat. Risseeuw advocated a “three points of contact” rule. Under this rule, when getting in and out an open motor boat, an operators hands and feet should be touching something solid in three places.

Also, Risseeuw stressed again and again that the students should be wearing properly fitting lifejackets at all times, when they are in, or even around a boat. “I wear my life jacket all the time” he said.

The classroom moves to the docks on the Connecticut River

The classroom moves to the docks on the Connecticut River

The On-the-Water Part of the Course

Then it was time for the students to climb, two by two, into their assigned powerboats, and to motor out into the waters of the Connecticut River. Although one of the boat crews had a bit of trouble getting their engine started, requiring Risseeuw’s personal oversight, soon all of the boats were off and running over the water.

One powerboat crew had trouble starting the engine

One powerboat crew had trouble starting the engine

Risseeuw and his assistants had set up a number of in-line buoys on the water, through which the students were required to wend their way. Another exercise was to have the students circle their powerboats between two stakes, which were very close to each other.  Some of the students found this not an easy task.

But soon enough all the boats are off and running

But soon enough all the boats are off and running

After an extensive period of operating the powerboats on the water, it was time for a brief lunch, and then, soon after, more tutoring in the club house.

The topics included a lengthy discussion about the meaning of various navigation buoys, and how they are numbered, colored and designed.  Risseeuw also discussed the basic “Red-Right-Returning” rule, which means, simply, that when a boat is coming in from Long Island Sound and proceeding up the Connecticut River, it should keep the red buoys on their right.

Also, during the afternoon session of the course there was a long review of the right away rules on the water. These were introduced with a caveat by Risseeuw that, unfortunately, many powerboaters have no idea about proper “right of way” rules.  When this becomes evident, he said, the best recourse for a knowledgeable boater is to just to get out of the way.

Under proper “right of way” rules, the vessel that is required to get out of the way is called the “burdened” vessel, and it should give way to an  oncoming vessel.

Boating Can Be Dangerous!

Also, Risseeuw stressed again and again at the sessions that boating can be dangerous. He cited one accident on the Connecticut River last year where a driver in a boating accident had his head severed off by running his jet-ski into a fixed dock. Risseeuw noted in passing that jet-skis, officially known as Personal Watercraft, can travel over the water at over 50 miles an hour.

Risseeuw said in was his opinion, “Many of the persons who ride on Personal Watercraft are idiots and are reckless.”

He also told the students that most boating accidents happen late in the afternoon. This is when a boater is tired with too much sun, and perhaps too much alcohol. In Risseeuw’s view, “There is nothing positive about alcohol while boating. Drinking on a boat can lower reaction times and is never a good idea.”

Also discussed was what to do when a boat capsizes. Risseeuw’s cardinal rule is, “Always stay with the boat.”

“Hypothermia” was also discussed. It means a dangerous lowering of the body’s temperature, which can be life threatening. It can occur when a person spends too much time in cold water. The dangers of having gas fumes on boats were also discussed.

Answering a 60 Question Test to Pass the Course

Risseeuw said that to pass the course the students had to get 80 percent correct of a 60 question test. If they do pass the course, students receive two new boating licenses, 1) A U.S. Sailing certification, and 2) a Connecticut State Personal Watercraft/Safe Boating license.

As for how the students liked the course, Powerboat Student Bryan Byrnes-Jacobsen of Niantic, who appeared to be restless at times, excused himself by saying, “I don’t sit well.” He then went on to say, enthusiastically, that he had learned “a lot from the hands-on experience” of the course.

Bryan will be the Head Sailing Instructor at the Thames Yacht Club in New London this summer.

Powerboat Student Megan Ryan from Ivoryton, said that she thought the course was “really good,” and she was pleased that she could, “really go out on the water.”  She admitted that before the course, she “did not know how to drive a motor boat,” and that the course was her “first time” to do so.

Megan will be a Junior Instructor at the Pettipaug Yacht Club this summer.

For more information on the Powerboat course, which is open to all, go to www.pettipaug.com.

“Kid Safety” Lawn Signs Have Been Posted Around Essex, But Some Find Them “Tacky”

Combined image

The Essex lawn signs pictured along Main Street, opposite Champline Square, along Grove Street and next to Book Hill Road.

There is a smoldering controversy about the “kid safety” lawn signs that have been posted along the streets of Essex recently.  All the signs carry the same message, DRIVE LIKE YOUR KIDS LIVE HERE.

The sign postings are the work of the Essex Police Department with the assistance of the Essex Boy Scouts. To date the Police Department has distributed dozens of signs to Essex residents, although a few appear to be coming down because of local protests.

For example, there used to be lawn signs out in front of Essex Town Hall and the Essex Library, but now they have disappeared.

A Sign Enthusiast Speaks Out   

One of the sign posters who is proud of her positing is Luisa Kreis Whiting, who lives on Main Street. “I love the signs,” she says. However, she adds, “Some people in town don’t like them.”

In encouraging the posting of the signs, the Essex Police Department has gone about it very carefully. Signs are only given to a home owner who requests one. It is not like the haphazard postings of campaign signs during election time, or the real estate “open house” signs, which also sometimes go up without permission.

Police lawn signs in Essex with their message, DRIVE LIKE YOUR KIDS LIVE HERE, most likely will be around for awhile.

Local Voices Offered, “Selected Readings, Musings and Poetry,” at Ivoryton Library

The LOCAL VOICES at the Ivoryton Library reading event (left to right) State Representative Phillip Miller, Pamela Nomuna, Beverley Taylor, Joan Wyeth and Peter Walker

The LOCAL VOICES at the Ivoryton Library reading event (left to right) State Representative Phillip Miller, Pamela Nomura, Beverley Taylor, Joan Wyeth and Peter Walker

“Why did we pick this Sunday with so much going on?” Ivoryton Library Director Elizabeth Alvord asked herself before last Sunday’s afternoon program at the Ivoryton Congregational Church got underway.

But she did not need to worry.

No less than forty people showed up to hear five readers present their selections of poems and others musings. The topics ranged from the shop worn to the original, and in all it was a literary sweep of life’s joys and adversities, with far greater emphasis on the latter.

The five performers in the program were State Representative Phil Miller, poet/professor Pamela Nomuna, and poet/performers Beverley Taylor, Joan Wyeth and Peter Walker.

The lead off performer was Beverley Taylor, who holds a senior position at the Ivoryton Playhouse. Ms. Taylor read a third person account of the laments of a “been there, done that” kind of woman, who now at fifty years of age, is well hardened by life’s difficulties, but is still soldiering on.

Ms. Taylor’s reading was polished and professional.

Next on the program was Phil Miller, who brought a very different theme to the program. Although the other performers tended to personal, self-revealing selections in their presentations, Miller spoke exclusively about the life style and noises of the Barred Owl.  This particular breed of owl is common in this area, according to Miller, and he estimated that there are no less than eight Barred Owl families in Essex.

Miller characterized the Barred Owl as a “mysterious, nocturnal bird,” which lives primarily on insects rather than small animals. He stressed that the Barred Owls’  “hoots and yowls” in the night were very distinctive, and in a fitting climax to his presentation he gave his own imitation of the Barred Owl’s full throated hoot and howl. The audience loved it.

Next on the program was Joan Wyeth, who was by far the youngest of the performers. She read, somewhat too rapidly, a personal account of the woes and irritations of an American family, with some keen insights in her subject matter. Her entire reading was completely original.

Number four on the program was an established poet, Pamela Nomura. Not only has she taught poetry at Wesleyan University, she is a published poet. One poem of hers that she read was called, “The Rain.”   Two stanzas in the poem tell the story:

I can’t work today, miss.
It’s raining, and it’s 2 years to the day
since your mother has not answered
your calls. And you wonder if it’s raining
in Puerto Rico, if it’s falling through

the shining leaves
and pinging onto the tin roof
of the yellow house
where the phone is ringing.

Concluding the Ivoryton Library program was the well established poet and performer, Peter Walker. Walker in his remarks complained that when it comes to popular music, the people who write the words should be more celebrated  than those who write the melodies.

Walkler then read some of his own poems, mixed with those of others. Also, he spoke of a safari in East Africa that he once went on, where he saw his own face implanted on a Serengeti cloud.

Ivoryton Library Director Alvord appeared to be generally pleased with this “bold” event, and more such programs may be coming up in the future.

Pettipaug Yacht Club Excels in Small Boat Sailing Programs for Young Sailors

A shoreline view of the high school racing teams on the water

A shoreline view of the high school racing teams on the water

The Pettipaug Yacht Club will offer a truly impressive roster of small boat, sailing programs for young people during the soon-to-be-upon-us summer sailing season. The club is located in Essex off River Road, directly on the Connecticut River, making it an ideal small sailing boat location. Among the club’s sailing programs for young sailors this summer are those at the club’s prestigious Pettipaug Sailing Academy.

The guiding spirit behind the Pettipaug Sailing Academy is retired Electric Boat engineer and club Board member, Paul Risseew. Risseew not only directs the Sailing Academy, he runs virtually all of the sailing and boating programs at the Pettipaug Yacht Club.

Learning to Sail at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy

The aim of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, which was founded in 1950, is to teach young sailors in Risseew’s words, “the pleasure of sailing in small boats and also the racing in small sailboats.”

Six rigged sailboats are ready for the afternoon races

Six rigged sailboats are ready for the afternoon races

155 young sailors have enrolled this coming summer for the sailing classes at the Academy. Courses at the Academy are divided into two sessions. The first session begins on July 1 and ends July 23, and the second session begins on July 25 and ends on August 16. Some students take both sessions for seven full weeks. Others opt for a single session of three and a half weeks.

Rolling sailboats into the water; a stiff winds await them

Rolling sailboats into the water; a stiff winds awaits them

Academy days are also broken up into morning classes and afternoon classes.  Morning classes, which are for children, ages 8 to 11, are held from nine o’clock until noon. Afternoon classes, which are for students, ages 12 to 16, are held from one o’clock until four o’clock.

Sailboats ready for winds gusting to 20 knots

Sailboats ready for winds gusting to 20 knots

The curriculum of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy includes lessons in teamwork, rigging, capsize recovery, tacking, gibing, reaching, running, sailing to windward and tying knots. Upon their graduation from the Sailing Academy, students are givens ranks that reflect their respective sailing skills. The rank of progressions as they are called are; Seaman, Seaman First Class, Second Mate, First Mate, Boatswain, Skipper, and Racing Skipper.

With the wind blowing hard a sailboat sets sail from the dock

With the wind blowing hard a sailboat sets sail from the dock

This year the enrollment at the Pettipaug Sailing Academy was completely filled by March 30. However, sometimes there are drop outs, just before classes begin. When this happens, new students are taken off the waiting list. The tuition at the Academy for both sessions is $700 and $400 for a single session.

A Sailboat “Race Clinic” to Precede Academy Classes

 Prior to the instructional sailing classes of the Pettipaug Sailing Academy, the club will hold an intensive, five-day “Race Clinic” for small boat, racing sailors. Classes for the clinic will be held from Monday, June 24, to Friday, June 28. The “Race Clinic” is designed to teach students how to win sailboat races, and it is expected to attract some 25 students, ages 12 to 15.

All eight fulltime sailing instructors at the club will serve on the faculty of “Race Clinic.” The clinic’s curriculum will include; in getting a good start in a race, reading the wind to attain the fastest speed, as well as learning what are sometimes not so nice, but permitted, racing tactics. Tuition for the intense, five day “Race Clinic” is $200.

Other Summer Programs at the Pettipaug Yacht Club

Another program featured this summer at the Pettipaug Yacht Club will be Powerboat Courses designed by the U.S. Powerboating Association. There will be eleven, one day, Powerboat Courses held throughout the summer sailing season. The first course will be held on Sunday, April 28, and the other course dates will be posted on the club’s web site at www.pettipaug.com and on the club’s bulletin board.

The Powerboat Courses are for students of all ages, and the one-day course begins at 8:30 a.m. and end at 6:00 p.m. The tuition is $180. For further details contact Paul Risseew at 860-767-1995, or at PRisseew@aol.com .

Teaching Sailors to Teach the Art of Sailing

As if the above programs were not enough, there will also be two courses at the club on teaching sailors how to teach the art of sailing.  A Level 1 Instruction Course for would-be sailing teachers will be held over the two weekends of June 8-9 and June 15-16. A more advanced Level 2 Instruction Course for sailing teachers will be held over three consecutive days, June 17, 18 and 19.  The tuition for the Level 1 course is $350, and $300 for the Level 2 course.

In addition, there will be Windsurfing Courses, mostly for the young, throughout the summer, for which there could be a small charge.

Club’s Hosting of High School Racing Teams

Finally, during the months of March and April of this year, the club has been hosting sailboat races for three local, high school sailing teams. (Photos of a recent race of these teams are pictured with this article.) The teams are students from; Valley Regional High School, which has nine sailors; Xavier High School, which has 16 sailors; and Daniel Hand High School, which as 28 sailors.

Fifteen of the sailboats used in this pre-season sailing program are owned by the Pettipaug Yacht Club, and twelve are owned by Xavier High School. Although it is understood that all of the sailors participating in this program are members of the Pettipaug Yacht Club, there is no financial cost involved for the racing participants.

Paul Risseew’s Philosophy of Teaching Young Sailors to Sail 

 In teaching young sailors Risseew said, “Our priorities at Pettipaug are Safety, Fun and Learning, in that order.” He also noted, “If the students are not having fun, they won’t pay attention to the learning.”

Pettipaug Sailing Academy leader, Paul Risseew

Pettipaug Sailing Academy leader, Paul Risseew

“The majority of students return year after year, because they are spending the warm summer days with friends and playing on, and in, the water,” he continued. “Pettipaug is able to provide expert racing coaching to those who want to go in that direction. We send Optimist and 420 race teams to over a dozen regattas at other clubs in Connecticut.”

Putting it all in perspective, Risseew said, “As Rat said to Mole, in Wind in the Willows:  “‘There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” 

Frame Finished at New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook; April 2014 Opening


Hoisting the final steel girders for the frame of the Westbrook medical center

In an informal “Topping Off” ceremony last Thursday morning, the steel-girded frame of the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook was declared complete. Or, as one observer put it, “The steel skeleton is now finished.”

Huge crane that put in place the steel girders for the new Westbrook medical center

Huge crane that put in place the steel girders for the new Westbrook medical center

There now remains the task of covering the frame, completely, with new surface materials, as well as constructing the entire interior of the new medical center building.

Workers precariously perched on narrow steel girders at construction site

Workers precariously perched on narrow steel girders at construction site

Also, according to an official of Middlesex Hospital, which is building the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook, the project is still on track to open its doors for new patients in April 2014.

New Westbrook Center Will Be Off Exit 65 of I-95

The new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook will be located on Flat Rock Road at Exit 65 off I-95. The new 40,000 square, emergency medical facility will be twice as large as the present Shoreline Medical Center in Essex, which it will replace.

A Middlesex Hospital spokesperson said that there are still no plans as what to do with the Essex Shoreline Medical Center, once the Westbrook center takes its place.  Further dwarfing the size of the present Essex Shoreline center, the new Westbrook Shoreline Medical Center can be expanded from 40,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet, if necessity demands it.

Although Middlesex Hospital’s publicity materials stress that the new Shoreline center in Westbrook is only three miles away from the present Shoreline center  in Essex, in the minds of many Essex residents, it feels like their emergency center is gone forever, regardless of the new improvements in care promised at the new Westbrook facility.

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

Read related article by Jerome Wilson:

New Emergency Medical Center to Replace Essex’s Medical Center in April 2014

New York City Developer Clears Away the Trees at His Foxboro Point Development Site

The pile of trees which once grew on the Foxboro Point site

The pile of trees which once grew on the Foxboro Point site

In an early step of his development of eleven acres of Foxboro Point’s shoreline property along North Cove in Essex, a New York City developer has now cleared away the trees at the development site. Last December the Essex Planning Commission, after a contentious review process, granted developer Frank J. Sciami, Jr., permission to develop seven new home sites, including the restoration of the historic Croft mansion on the property.

Part of the Foxboro Point development site, recently cleared of trees

Part of the Foxboro Point development site, recently cleared of trees

A major point of contention in the review process was whether or not the public should have access to the waters of North Cove by means of a pathway, running down through the development from Foxboro Road to North Cove. Initially, the Essex Planning Commission directed the developer to create such a pathway running from the road to the waters.

However, after the developer brought a lawsuit against the Commission protesting such public access, the Planning Commission consented to the developer’s objections, and worked out a settlement which junked the pedestrian walkway to water proposal. In its place the Commission created a view easement, which would give visitors along Foxboro Road a pubic perch to look down to the waters of North Cove, but not walk down to it.

The Foxboro Point development site is being built on one of the last remaining open spaces along the Connecticut River in the Town of Essex. The trees that have been cut down are now loosely piled in a stack to the right of the Croft Mansion. They will undoubtedly be removed as the development of the site continues.

Senate Republican Staff Attorney Prepares Summary of Provisions of New Gun Law

A summary of the provisions of Connecticut’s new “Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety” law has been prepared by Mike Cronin, Esq., a Staff Attorney of the Senate Republicans.  The summary, dated April 5, 2013, is available on the Connecticut Senate Republican’s website.

Using a question and answer format, the summary is a guide as how to obey the new gun control law. Typical questions posed in the summary include:

Do I have to give up any of my presently owned guns? How does the new law affect the sale of assault style rifles? Hand guns? Shot guns? What are the new registration requirements for assault style guns, and what are the new limits on ammunition purchases?

Private Guns Sales Covered by New Law

Also, the summary notes that the new gun control law requires a background check for firearm sales, including private transactions.

Here is one of the twenty-four questions asked and answered in Attorney Cronin’s guide:

Q. If I already own a large capacity magazine, can I still use it?

A. Yes. If you legally possess large capacity magazines prior to the passage of this bill you can still use it in your gun. If you are at home or at a target range or shooting clubs, you can load as many bullets as the magazine can hold. Anywhere else, you can only load 10 bullets in the magazine.


State Senator Art Linares Voted “No” on New “Gun Violence Prevention” Legislation

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares voted “no” on the recently enacted, new Connecticut state law, entitled, “An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.” Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed the bill into law on April 4.

In explaining his “no” vote the Senator said in a written statement, “Having witnessed the emotional accounts of parents, teachers and citizens after the Newtown tragedy, I am more committed than ever to help create a safer Connecticut.”

He continued, “After much consideration and talking with many residents of the 33rd district, I decided to vote no on the bill. While I support some of the individual elements such as criminal background checks and discontinuing the early release program for violent felons, I concluded that [the bill] did not correctly address the most important issues of safe neighborhoods, school security, and most importantly, mental health.”

Following three more paragraphs of explaining the reasons for his “no” vote, the Senator concluded, “Now that [the bill] has passed, I will continue moving forward, working with our school superintendents to address school safety issues, with our mental health experts to get access to needed resources, and with gun owners to help them understand the new regulations.”

Sen. Linares represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

New Emergency Medical Center to Replace Essex’s Medical Center in April 2014

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

Artist rendering of finished Shoreline Emergency Medical Center in Westbrook

A new $28 million Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center, which is presently under construction in Westbrook, is slated to replace the hospital’s present Shoreline Medical Center in Essex as early as next April. According to Middlesex Hospital’s Harry Evert, Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning and Operations, the new Westbrook Shoreline Medical Center, “will double the number of rooms and bring a higher level of efficiency,” than exists at the present Essex facility.

Billboards Promise New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook next year

Billboards Promise New Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook next year

The hospital’s new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook will be located on Flat Rock Place, just off Exit 65 of Interstate I-95. The Center will be just down the road from the Tanger Outlet shopping mall. The frame of the new two story medical center is in the process of construction at the Westbrook location.

Construction workers busy at Flat Rock Place site, near Exit 65 of I-95

Construction workers busy at Flat Rock Place site, near Exit 65 of I-95

Essex’s “Shoreline Clinic” Served Area for 40 Years

The existing Shoreline Medical Center in Essex will be closed down as soon as the new Westbrook center is ready to accept patients. The Essex Shoreline Medical Center has provided emergency medical services to shoreline residents for the past 40 years, according to Middlesex Hospital materials.

What will happen to the Essex shoreline center, once it is phased out, however, has yet to be decided, according to Evert.

Some Essex residents are deeply concerned about closing of the present Shoreline medical center in their town. At the same time they can look forward to using a new larger and better equipped medical facility, when it comes on line neighboring Westbrook.

Essex Shoreline Center Was First of Its Kind  

According to a Middlesex Hospital sources, the shoreline facility in Essex was, “the first freestanding hospital-based emergency center in the country, and it became a model for other hospitals to follow.” In building a new medical center in Westbrook, the hospital notes, “We are moving three miles down the road from the current facility on Route 153 in Essex to Westbrook.” An advantage of the Westbrook location is that it “will provide easy access from I-95 as well as local roads.”

Middlesex Hospital’s Senior Vice President Evert also pointed out that the new Westbrook facility would be able to serve, more easily, the emergency medical needs of a number of towns along the I-95 corridor. For example, persons living in towns to the west of the new facility on I-95, such as Madison and Clinton, would have direct access to the new Westbrook center.

Also, towns to the east on the I-95 corridor, such as Old Saybrook, Old Lyme and Lyme, could be served by the new Westbrook center as well. The new Westbrook center could also serve the towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester, as well as Haddam and Killingworth without difficulty. In addition, accident victims on I-95 could be treated more easily from the Westbrook center.

Middlesex Hospital’s Evert estimated that the increase in the number of patients at the new Westbrook facility over those at the Essex facility would be in the ten to fifteen percent range. However, when pressed he said that this might be a “low ball” figure, and that he “just wanted to be conservative.”

New Westbrook Center Twice the Size of Essex’s   

The new 40,000 square foot emergency and outpatient facility in Westbrook will be double the size of the present Essex medical center. Furthermore, according to Middlesex Hospital materials, “Should we need even more space we have the option to add a second level, which would increase the Shoreline Medical Center space to 60,000 square feet.”

Until the use of this additional 20,000 square feet becomes necessary, it will remain undeveloped on the second floor of the new medical center building.

A two story frame is in place for the new emergency medical center in Westbrook

A two story frame is in place for the new emergency medical center in Westbrook

The new 40,000 square foot facility, presently being built, on the first floor will have, “an expanded emergency center with an express care area for minor illnesses and injuries.” Also, the new 40,000 square feet facility will allow, “a separate ambulance entrance,” as well as a “covered drop-off area, and improved patient privacy.”

Outpatients at the new Westbrook emergency center will also have their own entrance, and at the center there will be, “a whole host of diagnostic and treatment services.” In addition at the new center, “Radiology services will expand to include a new MRI testing area, and designated women imaging area.” In addition, “Other offerings would include lab services, pre-surgical testing and chronic care management.”

In summary Middlesex Hospital released this summary of services at the new Westbrook emergency center:

  • Emergency: 24/7 care, Helipad, Paramedic service
  • Other Services: Pre-surgical testing, chronic care management programs.
  • Outpatient Diagnostics: X-ray, MRI, CT, Ultrasound, Mammography, Laboratory services

As for the staff at the new Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook, it will consist of:

  • Physicians, board certified in Emergency Medicine, providing coverage 24/7,
  •  Magnet nurses with a reputation for the highest quality care,
  • Laboratory and radiology clinicians credentialed in their areas of specialty.

Middlesex Hospital summarized by noting that, “Hospital emergency departments are the healthcare safety net for all in the community, any hour, day or night, seven days a week. All patients who come to the facility, regardless of their ability to pay receive care.”

The hospital also noted, “Each year, more than 23,000 people rely on the Shoreline Medical Center for emergency care.”

Helicopter Air Lifts Wounded Gunman to Hartford Hospital After Gun Incident


A Life-Star helicopter is loaded with injured gunman at emergency medical center in Essex

A “Life Star” helicopter air lifted a wounded gunman at Middlesex Hospital’s Emergency Medical Center in Essex for a trip to Hartford Hospital around four o’clock Monday afternoon.

Reportedly, the gunman engaged in a gun battle with a state trooper after a car chase and car crash on Route 153 near the Westbrook Essex line. A state trooper was also wounded in the gun battle, but not seriously.  In addition, a second gunman was killed in the exchange of gun fire.


After incident State Police troopers gather outside Middlesex Hospital's medical center in Essex

After incident State Police troopers gather outside Middlesex Hospital’s medical center in Essex


Only If You Are Eating at Pizza Works, Can You Park in the Restaurant’s Parking Lot

Pizza Works restaurant, right next to train entrance

Pizza Works restaurant, right next to train entrance

That’s right, if you want to park at one of the best parking spaces at the Old Saybrook railroad station, one that snuggles right up to the terminal entrance, you are supposed to be eating at the Pizza Works restaurant while you park there. Otherwise, parking is not allowed at one of the 38, green bordered parking spaces, reserved, exclusively, for those who are dining at Pizza Works.

Even handicap parkers must be eating in the restaurant

Even handicap parkers must be eating in the restaurant


The general public is not welcome to park in these spaces!

However, to the chagrin of the owner of Pizza Works, this strict no public parking rule is frequently ignored. In fact, more and more, it appears that the parking spaces, which are supposed to be reserved exclusively for Pizza Works customers, have turned into an unsanctioned public parking space at the station.

Green colored borders ignored by parkers

Green colored borders ignored by parkers

Other Parking Spaces at Station Are Well Organized

In contrast to the confused situation of Pizza Works parking, the other parking spaces at the station are well organized. For example, free parking is available, at the Shore Line East Commuter parking lot, as it is at the forty AMTRAK parking spaces at the station.

Also, there is free parking along the Upper Cemetery on North Main Street, and a  $5.00 a day parking system in a large lot at the left of the terminal building. In addition, there is a one hour parking rule in front of the businesses at the station, which seems to be generally accepted.

Pizza Works Parking Rules Widely Ignored

But that is not the case with the 38 green bordered parking spaces next to the Pizza Works restaurant. Here confusion reigns, and there appears to be little that Pizza Works owner Bob Kekayias can do about it.

Unauthorized parkers in Pizza Works spots

Unauthorized parkers in Pizza Works spots

Even though he has posted signs, saying that unless you are actually eating at the restaurant that your car can be towed, and/or subject to a $150 fine, many parkers pay little attention. This makes the restaurant owner both resigned and angry.

Kekayias, who declined to be photographed, says grimly, that persons parking on the spaces reserved for restaurant patrons, “do not have a right to park there under the law.” But then he notes, ruefully, that these days, he “can’t tow,” meaning that he cannot tow away cars that are not suppose to be parking in the restaurant’s parking lot.

Remembering for the Days When He Could Tow

“We used to be able to do so,” he says, “but no more.” “It is frustrating,” he says.  “Perhaps if I asked the police chief in town, I could tow,” he ruminates, but he does not sound very hopeful that he could get permission.

He also says that his restaurant can seat 50 people, and that these customers are entitled to the parking spaces closest to the restaurant.  But to him the situation appears to be pretty hopeless. He says, “I am just co-existing … [with the unauthorized parkers].”

As an example of the seriousness of the problem, he said that once even he could not find a parking spot next to his restaurant, because all of the spots were full. He also makes the point again and again, he pays to rent the parking spaces next to his restaurant.

There appears to be no practical solution as to how Pizza Works can limit its parking spaces, exclusively, to the restaurant’s customers. The yawning empty spaces, throughout much of the day are simply too tempting for non-dining  parkers to make use of.

Of course Kehayias could hire a parking attendant to keep non-restaurant customers from parking in the reserved restaurant parking spots. But, evidently, at this point, it is doubtful that the expense would make it worth it.

Old Saybrook Railroad Station Parking Fees Could Increase from $5 to $10 a Day

Railroad Parking Area sign

Railroad Parking Area sign

The daily parking fee on the privately owned parking lot, which is closest to the tracks at the Old Saybrook railroad station, could increase in the near future.  The present parking fee, which is $5 a day, could rise to $10 a day, according to Sebastian Lobo, the privately employed, parking attendant at the lot.

Lobo said that even with the increase, the cost for parking at Old Saybrook station would be far less than the amount charged at the New Haven railroad station.

However, a parking fee increase at one of the lots at the station would have no effect on the free-of-charge parking lots at the station, including, the Shore Line East Old Saybrook Commuter parking lot and the AMTRAK parking spaces at the station.  Nor would it affect the informal, free parking lot that extends along North Main Street from the Upper Cemetery almost all the way down to the tracks.

As for the 200 new parking spaces, which the state Department of Transportation plans to add at Old Saybrook rail station, it remains undecided as to whether there will be a parking fee or not for these spaces.

The Lot Where They Charge a Parking Fee  

The parking lot, where there is presently a $5.00 a day parking fee, is located right next to the relatively new, over the tracks terminal at the station.  For train passengers, it is clearly the most convenient place to park at the station.

These parking spaces are owned by Saybrook Realty Partners, whose address is 455 Boston Post Rd. in Old Saybrook, according to the collection envelopes put under the windshields of the cars parking there.

Collection envelopes can pile up under windshields

Collection envelopes can pile up under windshields

The border lines around the spaces owned by this group are white in color, and, generally, they are far from full.  Obviously, this is because most people parking at the station have found free spaces at other areas of the station.

Empty parking spaces at the pay for parking area

Empty parking spaces at the pay for parking area

The Collection Method of Paying for Parking

For those who pay for their parking at the station, there is a unique system of collecting parking fees.  First, parking attendant Lobo in his red car scoots around the lot, placing collection envelopes behind the windshields of the cars that are parked there.

Parking Attendant Lobo puts in place a collection envelope

Parking Attendant Lobo puts in place a collection envelope

These addressed envelopes instruct parkers to do three things: (1) put a $5 per day parking fee in the envelope, (2) place a stamp on the envelope, and (3) mail it.

The formal printed instructions on these envelopes read as follows:

$5.00 Daily Parking fee     

Please mail the $5.00 a day parking fee in this envelope. This parking lot is PRIVATE AND NO LONGER FREE. Amtrak travelers may park in the yellow lined designated area or pay the fee to park at will. Parking fees not paid within 14 days will be assessed an additional late fee of $10.00 per day.  YOUR LICENSE PLATE HAS BEEN NOTED Violators subject to tow at owner’s expense. For further information email parking@saybrookrealtypartners.com.

Plate Number _______________________________________________

Date _______________________________________________________


Enforcement Signs Threaten a $150 Fine

Signs around this Railroad Parking Area, as it is called, threaten significant consequences if parking fees are not paid.  “Violators Will Be Towed” and a “$150 Fine” will be imposed the signs say around the parking lot.

In an effort to obtain further information about this pay for parking organization, who declined an interview, we posed by email the following questions to Saybrook Realty Partners:

1) How many $150 fines have you imposed on persons who park on your spaces at the Old Saybrook railroad station?

2) How many $150 fines have you collected since you inaugurated a payment for parking scheme at the station?

3) How many cars have you towed for non-payment of parking fees?

4) How successful, generally, has been your return envelope payment system?

 Statement by Owner of Saybrook Realty Partners

Mr. David M. Adams, owner of Saybrook Realty Partners, which owns and manages Saybrook Junction, provided the following response, “The [Saybrook Realty  Partners’ parking] system has been very effective in preserving the integrity of the parking at Saybrook Junction for our 16 tenants. Saybrook Junction is a private business and has an obligation to provide parking for its business tenants and their customers, while also supporting Amtrak and overflow parking for Shoreline East commuters.  We continue to make progress to alleviate some of the parking concerns voiced by our tenants as well as commuters.”

A final article on the parking situation at the Old Saybrook railroad station will discuss the parking spaces that are controlled by the award-winning Pizza Works restaurant at the station. The restaurant has 38 reserved parking spaces close to the tracks.

200 New Parking Spaces to Be Added at the Old Saybrook Railroad Station

The rear of the lots, where AMTRAK parking is located

The rear of the lots, where AMTRAK parking is located

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna has confirmed in a recent interview that the Connecticut Department of Transportation, working with the Town of Old Saybrook, will soon formally announce a plan to add 200 new parking spaces at the railroad station in Old Saybrook.

The new parking spaces will require the purchase by the state Department of Transportation of 3.6 acres of private property, and negotiations for this purchase are presently underway. The new parking spaces will be situated on a site off  North Main Street, across the street from the Upper Cemetery.  The Upper Cemetery was established in 1750, and it is one of Old Saybrook’s historic landmarks.

Monies to acquire the 200 new parking spaces will come exclusively from the state, said the state’s Project Manager Keith Hall in a recent interview. There will be no federal funds involved in the purchase whatsoever, he emphasized.

Because of the good faith that has been shown in negotiating the sale of the property, Project Manager Hall also said that acquiring the property by eminent domain would not be necessary. Hall emphasized that to date there had been “fruitful discussions” with the property owners involved, and he anticipates that the final sale of the property would be consummated this coming April, if not before.

In discussing the planned acquisition of the new parking spaces, First Selectman Fortuna observed that the present parking situation at the Old Saybrook railroad station was “not ideal.”

The Present Parking Spaces at the Old Saybrook Station

The 200 new parking spaces at the station will add, substantially, to the number of parking spaces presently available at the station. One of the more informal of the existing parking lots at the station is the one that has a single string of parked cars running down North Main Street.

Cars parked beside the cemetery on North Main Street

Cars parked beside the cemetery on North Main Street

This ad hoc parking lot extends from next to the Upper Cemetery all the way down to the railroad tracks. During work days this informal “free” parking area is completely full.

Another significant parking area that also offers free parking is the Shore Line East, Old Saybrook, Commuter Parking lot.  This large lot has 137 parking spaces, with a few designated for handicap parking.

Colorful sign for Shore Line East Commuter Parking

Colorful sign for Shore Line East Commuter Parking

Although the Shore Line East parking lot is not directly beside the railroad station, it is still within easy walking distance of the trains. During work days the Shore Line East parking lot is frequently full.

AMTRAK Passenger Parking

In addition to these parking areas there are designated parking spaces for Amtrak passengers at the Old Saybrook railroad station. These Amtrak spaces are free, and they are indicated by painted yellow lines along their borders.

The Amtrak spaces are located just down from the Route 154 entrance to the railroad station property. This means that they are the furthest distance from where passengers get on and off their trains. Also, there are no designated parking spaces for handicapped Amtrak passengers, as there are in the Shore Line East Commuter Parking area.

Furthermore, the number of free-of-charge Amtrak parking spaces appears to be diminishing at the station.  Quite recently a number of Amtrak parking spaces were re-designated to be for the exclusive use of patients of a dermatologist with offices at the station. In the process Amtrak’s yellow boarders on these spaces have been painted over.

The considerable distance from the remaining Amtrak spaces to the train station can mean that a baggage-laden passenger, traveling on Amtrak, has further to walk to the train than any other passengers parking at the station.

One Hour Parking Spaces at the Station

Finally, there is another parking area that has at least a semblance of free parking. These are the spaces which are designated as offering just one hour of free parking, and no more. This means that if parkers decide to eat at Zhang’s Chinese Restaurant at the station, they better eat their shrimp chow mien with fried rice for lunch within an hour’s time.

However, it has to be said that this one hour limit does not appear to be strictly enforced by the private developer that owns much of the property around the railroad station.

Finally, it should be noted that the Old Saybrook railroad train station is in a unique category from among shoreline stations. This is because it serves both Shore Line East and Amtrak passengers. “It is not like the Guilford station that only serves Shore Line East passengers,” said DOT’s Project Manager Hall, when discussing the importance of the Old Saybrook railroad station. Of course it must also be sadly noted that Amtrak’s luxury train, the Acela, does not a stop at Old Saybrook. Rather, it insultingly barrels through the station at 80 or more miles an hour. Maybe it will stop for us someday.

Essex Town Auditorium Update – Re-opening Feb. 27

A spokesperson for Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman said that work on the ceiling of the auditorium of the Essex Town Hall will be completed this Wednesday, February 27. This will be mean that all events scheduled after that date can be expected to proceed on schedule at the auditorium.

The entire auditorium has been closed to public functions, since debris from a feeding duct from the auditorium’s heading system was discovered on the floor after the weekend of February 9-10. Because of this incident town authorities decided to check out all of the ceiling ducts in the auditorium.

According to Mark Hiatt of the Town of Essex’s Maintenance and Custodian staff, the single duct that fell to the floor was in the rear of the auditorium.

Read related article by Charles Stannard

Essex Meadows, a Nationally Recognized “Life Care Retirement Community,” Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

The impressive portico at the entrance of Essex Meadows

The impressive portico at the entrance of Essex Meadows

Essex Meadows, which is located at 30 Bokum Road in Essex, Connecticut, is a treasure in our midst. This coming year, 2013, “The Meadows,” as everyone calls it, will celebrate its 25th Anniversary. To give our readers a unique perspective as to how the Meadows operates, and why it has achieved nationally recognized stature as a retirement community, we have submitted the questions below to the Meadow’s Director of Marketing, Susan Carpenter, for her to answer.

Our questions are in bold face type, and Ms. Carpenter’s answers follow each question. So let us begin:

1) How many total residents are there at Essex Meadows?

There are approximately 240 residents.  Several live in Essex year round, and many maintain second homes in places like Fishers Island, Florida, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Essex Meadows resident Jean Ryan by the entrance Christmas Tree at the Meadows

Essex Meadows resident Jean Ryan by the entrance Christmas Tree at the Meadows

2) How many residential apartments, and how many individual homes, are there at the Meadows, and what is the size and layout of each category?

We have 183 apartments, 13 cottages, and 45 skilled nursing beds in our Health Center.  Two thirds of the apartments, and all of the cottages, feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and they range in size from 1,050 to 2,400 square feet.  We also offer several different one bedroom layouts, some with dens, ranging from 600 to 900 square feet.  Some of these have one bath while others offer 1 ½ baths.

3) What are some of the amenities at the Meadows, such the golf course (How many holes?), library and dining room?

Our Executive Golf Course is a “par three,” and it is home to the annual Essex Fire Department Golf Tournament.  We also offer croquet, walking trails, and a large garden area with raised and traditional flower beds for our outdoor enthusiasts.  For those who prefer indoor activities we have a swimming pool, fitness center, art studio, library, Pub, and woodworking shop.

C. Allan Borchet, former Chairman, Residents Council of Essex Meadows and model shipbuilder

C. Allan Borchet, former Chairman, Residents Council of Essex Meadows and model shipbuilder


4) Anything else?

The Community has everything you need for an active lifestyle right at your fingertips. The Niagara Bank has a full service branch right on campus. Next door to the bank is “Meadowmart,”our full service in-house grocery store, which is entirely run by resident volunteers. We carry the best and most inexpensive selection of greeting cards in town. Great bridge mix too.

5) What are the categories of care at the Meadows, such as ordinary resident care and assisted living care?

Our apartments and cottages offer independent living with the security of knowing that our licensed Assisted Living Program can step in to provide supportive services as health needs change.  These services can include neighborly services such as walking your dog or watering your plants, to more complex health services including assistance with medication management and help with a resident’s activities of daily living.

6) What services does the Meadow’s Health Center provide?

For the past three years our Health Center, which provides professional clinical services and nursing care, has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top skilled care facilities in the country.  The Health Center offers short term rehabilitation, respite care, long term custodial care, and Hospice services.  Hospice is also available in our apartments and cottages for those whose end of life decision is to remain at home.

7) What kind of health care professionals are there on duty, or on call, at the Meadows on a given day?

We have professionals, both on the independent living side and the skilled nursing side.  Our staffing patterns vary according to acuity or need.  Our staffing levels are significantly higher than State regulations require.  Angela Christie and Kathleen Dess are responsible in these areas. Kathleen is the Administrator of our Health Center, while Angela is the Director of Resident Health Services.

(l to r) Essex Meadow's senior staff: Angela Christie, Director of Resident Health; Susan Carpenter, Director of Marketing Services, and Kathleen Dess, Administrator of the Health Center,  in the Residents' library

(l to r) Essex Meadow’s senior staff: Angela Christie, Director of Resident Health; Susan Carpenter, Director of Marketing Services, and Kathleen Dess, Administrator of the Health Center, in the Residents’ library

8) What is the ownership structure of the Meadows?

Essex Meadows is a family owned business incorporated in Iowa.  The board of directors visits quarterly to meet with the residents and the management team.  Essex Meadows is managed by LifeCare Services, LLC.

9) Who is the Executive Director of the Meadows?

 Our Executive Director is Jennifer Rannestad. We also have management input from an active Residents Council and various resident committees.

Jennifer Rannestad, Executive Director of Essex Meadows, at the entrance of Essex's premier retirement community

Jennifer Rannestad, Executive Director of Essex Meadows, at the entrance of Essex’s premier retirement community

10) What are the cost arrangements at the Meadows for buying and selling the apartments and separate homes?

In addition to payment for meals and necessity of life services, our popular Return-of-Capital plan has been offered at Essex Meadows since it opened its doors in 1988.  Residents and/or their estates receive a large portion of their original Admission Payment back after their cottage or apartment has been resold.

11) Is there another ownership alternative for residents?

Yes, the Flex Plan is our newest financial option to maximize choice and flexibility, when it comes to retirement planning.  For those who prefer a plan that demands less up front capital, the Flex Plan offers a reduced Admission Payment.  While there is no return of capital to the estate, a resident has the ability to continue to control his or her assets and invest their savings as they wish.

12) What are the specifics of the cognitive test that applicants to the Meadows must take before they are accepted as residents?

Our health-evaluation process requires that paperwork be completed by an applicant’s physician as well as a meeting with our Director of Resident Health Services.  In addition to asking an applicant about their general health and activities of daily living, we use standardized cognitive scales in our evaluation.  The Mini Mental Status Exam and St. Louis University Mental Status Exam are two such examples commonly used by life-care communities and long term care insurance providers nationwide.

13) Is there a review process of the cognitive test results?

The results of this health-evaluation process are reviewed with the Essex Meadows Medical Director.  The results of the interview will be considered along with the information that is provided by the applicant’s physician.

14) Who has the final say in accepting a new resident at the Meadows?

Each applicant must meet both medical and financial criteria for residency.  It is the role of Executive Director to review both the medical and financial information for each applicant to make a decision for occupancy consistent with the admission policy established by our Board of Directors.

15) Who assumes the risk of paying for the long-term care of residents?

Because Essex Meadows is a life-care community, the financial risk of long-term care is a cost shared by the whole community.  Therefore an individual resident does not have the financial exposure of having to pay the high costs of nursing home care should those services be needed.  Some residents consider this an alternative to long term care insurance when planning for future health care costs.

16) What do you view are the unique aspects of Essex Meadows that average nursing homes might generally not provide?

The Essex Meadows provides a beautifully appointed residential atmosphere, a resident centered approach to care, and is well staffed. These are just a few of the reasons as to why Essex Meadows provides exceptional care, as well as specialized services in its adjoining Health Center.

17) Are there any other benefits to residents at Essex Meadows, which you feel deserve to be mentioned?

We believe that our residents are the most wonderful and unique part of our lifestyle benefits.  Furthermore, residents have generously organized and administered a scholarship fund for Meadows’ employees and their children. To date, the scholarship fund has provided over 400 grants, totally more than $750,000.

18) Do Essex Meadows residents take an interest in the Town of Essex?

Our residents have a great love of the Essex community.  They are lifelong learners, patrons of the arts, and protectors of the environment.  Essex Meadows is involved in the general community creating partnerships and relationships with those organizations that our residents would also support as individuals.

Essex Meadows has also been a great corporate contributor and supporter of the Connecticut River Museum, the Community Music School, the Essex Winter Series, the Ivoryton Playhouse, the Essex Library, FISH, the Essex Garden Club, Essex Child & Family Services Agency, the Essex Fire Department, Ivoryton Illuminations, the Essex Rotary Club, Essex Land Trust, the Essex Historical Society, and many others.


19) Have there ever been any marriages between residents at the Meadows, or any other “human interest” stories at the facility.

There have been no marriages, but the creation of many deep and meaningful friendships.  One of the most interesting aspects of the Meadows is that despite the geographical diversity of its residents before coming to the Meadows, many residents have social connections dating back to their childhood days, college years, summer camps, vacations, board memberships, private clubs and the like.

As for “human interest” stories, we have residents Art and Peg Howe, who engage in ice cutting on Squam Lake in winter, Jean Luberg and her tandem sky diving, published authors such as Nicole Prevost Logan and Jeanne West, and many very talented and successful people at Essex Meadows. They all have wonderful stories to tell, including two of our residents who celebrated their 105th birthdays this past year.

A Portfolio of the Beauty of the Recent Snow Storm

A snow covered tree top surveys the scene

A snow covered tree top surveys the scene

Without question much damage was done by the recent snow storm. For some the lights and the power went out. Others were trapped in their homes for days because of the sheer massiveness of the snow storm.

Whereas below every element is covered with snow

Whereas below every element is covered with snow

Shoveling out was incredibly difficult. In many cases professional work crews had to dig people out.  Cars were buried; driveways were non-existent and getting to the store was a major undertaking.

Two straining trees, their branches bent with the weight of snow

Two straining trees, their branches bent with the weight of snow

Still, there was a memorable beauty to the storm. It created whole new worlds of splendor. Soon enough it degenerated into muddy piles of dirt and snow, but in its fullest glory here is what it looked like.

The sun illuminates the snowy scene

The sun illuminates the snowy scene

The deer look at us as we look at them

The deer look at us as we look at them


Local Marinas Use Shrink-Wrap to Cover Boats Stored Outdoors for the Winter Months

A row of shrink wrapped boats at Island Cove Marina in Old Saybrook

A row of shrink wrapped boats at Island Cove Marina in Old Saybrook

Local marinas these days store the boats in their care for the winter, literally hundreds of them, with bright white coverings of what is called “shrink wrap.” Shrink wrap, in fact, has some ideal characteristics for covering boats.

Number one, once a boat is shrink-wrapped, it is truly protected from the elements. Only the most extreme weather conditions, such as hurricane winds, could possibly rip the shrink wrap away from the boat that it is covering.

Second, shrink wrap can be custom fitted as a winter cover over virtually any kind of boat, large or small. Shrink wrap is even superior to weather-treated canvas covers, which can never be fitted as tight to the hull of a boat as shrink wrap.

The bow of a shrink wrapped boat on wood blocks and supporting metal stands

The bow of a shrink wrapped boat on wood blocks and supporting metal stands

Third, installing shrink-wrap on a boat is not rocket science, and it can be done by skilled yard workers at local marinas. However, these workers must know what they are doing, because putting shrink wrap on a boat involves the use of a fire-flaming tool during the installation process. If not applied carefully, shrink wrap can catch on fire.

Because of the risk of fire, it is advisable that fire extinguishers be near at hand, when a boat is being shrink wrapped.

Shrink wrapped boat in winter with water slips behind them

Shrink wrapped boat in winter with water slips behind them

The Process for Putting Shrink Wrap on a Boat

Although there are variations in shrink wrapping a boat, these are the main elements of the process. Even before a shrink wrap cover is put on a boat, a frame has to be constructed to fit over the boat’s topsides.

For a smaller boat constructing a frame can be quite simple. For example, the frame could consist of a piece of strong rope, tightly stretched over a vertical post at mid ships of the boat to be covered that is affixed to both bow and stern of the boat. Or, instead of rope, stiff and strong pieces of wood could be used to form the frame.

For larger boats a full blown wooden frame has to be built and fitted over the entire topsides of the boat. For boats large and small the ultimate purpose of the frame is to provide a raised superstructure that can support the shrink wrap, when it is draped over the top of the boat and down the sides.

Another element of the shrink-wrapping process is the installation of the perimeter band around the boat. This band consists of a very tough line that is fitted tightly around the entire circumference of the boat. The perimeter band plays a major role in shrink wrapping a boat.

Heating the Shrink Wrap with the Flaming Tool

The climax of the shrink wrapping process involves the use of a flaming, shrink-wrapping tool. The tool is used to heat the shrink wrap, so that it is pliable, when it is stretched and configured over the boat’s hull.

The fact that heated shrink wrap is very malleable allows a skilled operator using the flaming tool to smooth out folds or imperfections in the shrink wrap covering of the boat. Importantly, after the shrink wrap cools it retains its molded shape.

Another important component of the shirk-wrapping process is the installation of belly bands. The belly bands are fastened to the perimeter band of the boat, and stretching around the bottom of the boat as they do so. When properly in place belly bands pull the shrink wrap closer to the boat’s hull along the sides of the boat.

Shrink wrapped boat with belly bands fastened to the perimeter band around hull

Shrink wrapped boat with belly bands fastened to the perimeter band around hull


If the shrink process is done correctly, it will eliminate any folds or crevices in the shrink wrap that could hold water that could turn into ice. Ice could even split the shrink wrapped cover of the boat, exposing the uncovered hull to the elements.

Boat Work Goes on Even under the Shrink Wrap

Keith Hultmark, the Marina Manager of the Island Cove Marina in Old Saybrook, says that even though their boats are completely covered in shrink wrap, “Customers will do some winter projects on their boats,” such as repairing an exhaust pump or refinishing the boat’s bright work. When the sun is bright in the yard, Hultmark says that under the shrink wrap, “it is so warm that you can do anything.”

Keith Hultmark, Marina Manager at Island Cove Marina

Keith Hultmark, Marina Manager at Island Cove Marina

The Island Cove Marina has 140 shrink-wrapped boats on its premises during the winter months, and 100 boats at in-the- water slips in the summer. The boating year at the local marinas like Island Cove is essentially divided into two parts. One is from November to April when the boat is under  shrink wrap, and the other is from May to October, when the boats are at their slips at the marinas or at other locations.

The Short Boating Season

Marina Manager Hultmark states a truism when he says, “We have a short season in the Northeast.” Also, he feels that putting a boat in the water as early as March “is for diehards.”

He also observes that, “The boats go into the water a little slower for the season in May, than when they come out of the water for the season in October.” The delay in getting in the water in May could be caused by having to address various engine problems. As for boating late in October, it may be based on the desire of a boater who wants just one last trip for the season.

Typical Annual Expense for a Boat at a Local Marina

Hultmark in a recent interview observed that, “Boating is an expensive hobby.” To illustrate this fact these are typical annual expenses for keeping a thirty foot boat at a local marina for a year.

The cost of having a slip for the summer, at $140 a foot, is $4,200; hauling the boat out of the water and storing it for the winter costs, at $30 a foot, is $900; and shrink wrapping a boat for the winter, at $15 a foot, is $450. This means that the minimum cost for keeping a thirty foot boat at a local marina is $5,500 a year.

In addition, should it be necessary to commission or decommission the motor (or motors) on a boat, the cost can range from $200 to $2,000, according to Hultmark.

There is a short season for the boats using the marinas along the Connecticut River. Also, admittedly, boating is an expensive hobby. Nevertheless local boaters consider it all worthwhile, when the boat is in the water and the season begins.

Jerome Wilson, Esq.Jerome Wilson is a former New York State Senator
and Political Editor of WCBS-TV (Channel 2).
He is now a freelance journalist and lives in Essex.


Big New York City Developer Humbled by Small Borough of Fenwick Historic Commission

Developer Frank Sciame, the loser in a dispute with the Borough of Fenwick Historic Commission

Developer Frank Sciame loses dispute with the Borough of Fenwick Historic Commission

A major New York City developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr., whose many successful projects include a much praised renovation of the Morgan Library in Manhattan, has been defeated by the very small, Borough of Fenwick Historic Commission, thanks to the rulings of two recent, state court decisions.

The first loss for the New York developer was before Connecticut’s Superior Court earlier last year, and his second defeat was his more recent loss on January 7 before the state’s Appellate Court. In both cases the issue was whether the Fenwick Historic Commission had the power to order the developer to lower the height of two entry posts on his property in Fenwick, from a height of five feet to four feet.

Growth Around the Posts Pretty Much Obscures Their Height

In fairness to the developer, during the summer months the grasses around the two entrance posts grow to the point where they pretty much obscure their height. Nevertheless, the Fenwick Commission stuck to its guns in ordering the developer to lower the height of both his posts by a single foot.

As for the developer, he was equally determined to keep both posts at their present height, until he was ordered by two state courts to obey the directions of the Borough of Fenwick Historical Commission.  Accepting defeat, the developer chose not to try to take an appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which more than likely  would have declined to even to hear his case.

When the second case against Sciame came down, wide media coverage ensued.  What added interest to the story was that Sciame’s waterfront property in Fenwick was once owned by the famed film actress, Katherine Hepburn.  Sciame, in fact, purchased the shore-front property from the Hepburn estate, and he has spent millions to renovate it, so as to put it up for sale.

Former Katherine Hepburn estate now owned by developer Frank Sciame

Former Katherine Hepburn estate now owned by developer Frank Sciame

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal Cover the Story

Because of the Hepburn connection both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal carried extensive articles about the ordered shortening of the two entrance posts by a single foot in Fenwick. The New York Times article by Elizabeth A. Harris was headlined, “Where Hepburn Lived, Last Act in Legal Drama Over Posts’ Heights.” The Wall Street Journal article, written by the Associated Press, was headlined, “Owner of Hepburn Estate Loses Appeal on Post Size.”

The former Hepburn property, now owned by Sciame, is located at 10 Mohegan Avenue in the Fenwick section of Old Saybrook. Of particular importance in its opinion the Appellate Court noted that “The property lies in the Fenwick Historic District, which is subject to the jurisdiction of the commission.”

In short, the court is reaffirming that Sciame’s property is both located within the boundaries of Fenwick Historic District, and that Fenwick Commission has the power to decide the present case.

Sciame’s Losing Arguments before the Appellate Court

In vain Sciame argued before the Appellate Court that the Fenwick Historic Commission lacked the statutory power to order the one foot lowering of the height of his two gate posts.  The Appellate Court also rejected Sciame’s claim that by ordering the shortening of the two entry posts by a single foot, he was entitled to damages from the Fenwick Commission for the “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Even though Sciame gives the impression that he is a typical, “tough as nails” New York developer, he argued before the Appellate Court that by ordering the shortening of his two gate posts, the Fenwick Historic Commission had hurt his feelings by engaging in “harassment and demands” against him, and that it “continued to harass and annoy“ him.

One of Sciame two gate posts crudely shortened to a height of four feet

One of Sciame two gate posts crudely shortened to a height of four feet

Left unmentioned by Sciame in his argument before the Appellate Court was the fact at that one point in the controversy, he tried to claim that he had shortened the posts by means of building up, by a single foot, the bases surrounding the posts. With these two, foot high bases in place, Sciame then claimed that the posts were in fact four feet in height.

However, when this strained interpretation was rejected, the developer simply chopped off the tops of the two posts by one foot each. However, even in his belated compliance with the Historic Commission’s order, the developer persisted with his lawsuit, until he was defeated in the ruling of the Appellate Court.

Sciame to Develop Major Residential Project in Essex

Even with the chapter now closed on Sciame’s dispute with the Fenwick Historic Commission in Old Saybrook, the developer is continuing to play a major role in the development of local shoreline properties. In fact, in Essex he was recently designated by the Essex Planning Commission to develop a major residential property at Foxboro Point.

Essex Foxboro Point site to be developed by Sciame

Essex Foxboro Point site to be developed by Sciame

At one point in this proceeding the Essex Planning Commission took under consideration a proposal that the developer create a “public access” pathway across the development property running from Foxboro Road down to the waters of North Cove.

However, after a questionable “closed” meeting, to which the general public was excluded, the Essex Planning Commission rejected this “public access” proposal, and adopted instead a plan that permitted only a “visual access” to the North Cove waters below. This, obviously, was a very different proposition from creating a “public access” pathway across the development property leading to these waters.

Also, in making its decision the Essex Planning Commission chose not to follow the example of the Fenwick Historic Commission of standing up to developer Frank Sciame, who has shown that he is prepared to spend his money on extensive court appeals.

Bennie’s New Owners to Expand Services at Popular Farm Market in Centerbrook

Bennie's famous front awning will not change

Bennie’s famous front awning will not change

Although the popular Bennie’s Farm Market will remain, essentially, the same under its new ownership, some major changes are on the way. Located at 5 Main Street in the Centerbrook section of Essex, the new owners of Bennie’s are members of the Patel family, who were originally from India.

According to Sky Patel, the family member now in overall charge of Bennie’s, going forward Bennie’s will put an even greater emphasis on offering, top of the line, prime meats. “We do exceptionally well with our prime roast beef,” Patel noted in a recent interview.

Sky Patel, the family member in overall charge of the new Bennie's

Sky Patel, the family member in overall charge of the new Bennie’s

Also, under Sky Patel’s direction the new Bennie’s will add a new home delivery services for area residents. Patel recognizes that during the winter months some of Bennie’s patrons, particularly seniors, have difficulty coming to the market. “So we’ll go to them, “is the way he puts it.

[The number to call for Bennie’s home delivery service is 860-767-8448.]

Also, under Bennie’s new management there will be a new emphasis in offering a wide range of catering services. Patel says that Bennie’s will now offer catering services for all occasions, such as weddings, corporate events and extended family get to gathers.

In addition to the market’s new catering services, Bennie’s will offer in its sales repertoire Italian gourmet food and Pasta Vista selections.

If anything, Bennie's will have a brighter look under the Patel family

If anything, Bennie’s will have a brighter look under the Patel family

Former Owner Operated Bennie’s for 33 Years

The previous owner of Bennie’s, David Costa, operated Bennie’s Farm Market for over 33 years. The name “Bennie’s,” incidentally, comes from the first name of David’s father, who himself owned the market before his son.

David Costa then sold the market to the Patel family late, last November, and according to Sky Patel, the new owners have promised to retain all of the present senior staff at the market.

For example, Bennie’s Deli Manager Karl Kulisch, who himself has worked at Bennie’s for 13 years, will continue working behind the counter under the new management. As for the reasons for selling Bennie’s, according to Kulisch, “David wanted to retire, and he got a good offer. So he accepted it.”

Bennie's Deli Manager Karl Kukusch, a 13 year store veteran

Bennie’s Deli Manager Karl Kulisch, a 13 year store veteran

New Owners Have Wide Experience in Running Food Markets

The new owners of Bennie’s are by no means strangers to operating retail food stores in Connecticut. In addition to their recent acquisition of Benny’s Farm Market, the Patel family owns the popular Bliss Market in Wethersfield, as well as a Krauszer’s Deli in East Hartford and the Dairy Farm in Glastonbury.

Family member Avani Patel has joined the Bennie's staff

Family member Avani Patel has joined the Bennie’s staff

At the family’s “upscale” Bliss Market in Wethersfield, home delivery of food items has been a great success, according to Patel. He anticipates that such services will be a success as well at Bennie’s.

As time goes by, Patel says that he intends to give Bennie’s an evolving new look. Also, there will be an increase in Sunday hours, from the present 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., to 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday thru Saturday hours will remain the same, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

As for its operation of Bennie’s Farm Market, so far, according to chief owner, Sky Patel, “Customers have been really nice.” Also, he personally reaffirms, “The present staff is really good, and all of the senior staff is staying.”

Summing up his experience in Essex so far, Patel says with a smile, “Essex is a really great town.”

Little Chester Has Some Big Time Restaurants. Here’s What They Offer (Part 2)

Exterior of L & E restaurant on Main Street

Exterior of L & E restaurant on Main Street

As we mentioned in Part 1 of our review of Chester restaurants, it is truly a wonder that such a little town has so many fine restaurants. Part 1 profiled four of them, the Villager, Simons Marketplace, River Tavern and Pattaconk 1850. Here in Part 2 are four more Chester restaurants.

Cabo Tequila Grill

Karen Williams, the Manager of Cabo Tequila Grill, is virtually a one woman show. For instance, she personally squeezes one lime at a time to concoct, perhaps one should say to mastermind, the ten different kinds of margaritas that are offered at the Cabo Tequila Grill.

The eye catching sign of the Cabo restaurant on Water Street

The eye catching sign of the Cabo restaurant on Water Street

Williams says that the “Traditional” margarita is still the favorite at her Water Street restaurant. At Cabo its ingredients are: Milagro Silver Tequila, Agavero Orange Liquor and fresh limes (hand squeezed by the manager).  The runner up in popularity is the “Pomegranate” margarita, made from Don Julio Anejo Tequila, Stirrings Pomegranate Liquor and, again, fresh hand-squeezed lime juice.

Cabo Manager Karen Williams and daughter Karen

Cabo Manager Karen Williams and daughter Morgan

Price-Saving Specials at Cabo

There are regular weekday specials at Cabo Taquila Grill. They include: Margarita Monday,” when traditional margaritas are reduced to $6 each. In the same vein on Tequila Taco Tuesday, the special is three Street Tacos and a shot of Don Jula Silver for $7. Then, there’s Wine Wednesday, where you get a bottle of wine at half price, when purchased with an entrée, and finally on Thirsty Thursday, the price for top-ranked Sauze Hornitos Margaritas are $6, which is $2.50 off the regular price.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday the prices are as stated on the menu, but none of them would break the bank.  For example, the Appetizer, Cabos Nachos, which is made from refried beans, and no less than eight other ingredients, costs but $11.95.

As for Entrees the long list of selections includes, Chicken Enchiladas for $15.95; as well as a Pulled Pork Taco, accompanied by corn tortillas with queso fresco, pico de gallo, sour cream and sofrito rice and refried greens, also for $15.95.

For dessert Cabo Tequila Grill serves homemade flan and a chocolate Mexican cake from a “secret recipe,” among other the desert items.

Not a “Slop on the Plate” Tex Mex Restaurant!”

Speaking with emphasis Williams says that, “Cabo is not you’re run of the mill ‘slop on the plate’ Tex Mex restaurant.” “We only serve fresh ingredients,” she says, and “All of our margaritas have fresh squeezed lime juice.”

Williams is assisted by her daughter, Morgan, who her mother says, “is a cook herself.” Right now “mother” Williams says that she is working as much as seven days a week. Also, she has managed Cabo since it opened in Chester four years ago.

Williams is originally from Massachusetts, but she is now a big booster of her new hometown of Chester. She terms it, “a cute, quaint little town, which has some wonderful people in it.” She especially likes Chester’s, “comfortable at home atmosphere,” adding that she finds her customers to be “a lot of fun.”

Cabo is open seven days a week. Hours are: Monday through Thursday from 5 pm to 9 pm, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5 pm to 10 pm. The restaurant is at 4 Water Street in Chester, and the telephone number is 860-526-8277.

Restaurant L & E

“We serve quality food in a comfortable and inviting atmosphere,” is how L & E co-owner Linda Reid describes the dining experience at her L & E Restaurant in downtown Chester. The “L” in the restaurant’s name, incidentally, stands for “Linda,” and the “E” is for Everett, the first names of the two, married owners of the restaurant.

Exterior of L & E restaurant on Main Street

Exterior of L & E restaurant on Main Street

The Reid’s opened their L & E restaurant close to four years ago, taking up the space that was previously Restaurant Du Village. The Reid’s have continued the French theme of their predecessor with a “French 75 Bar” on the first floor, and with many French styled selections on the menu. Also, a number of the staff, who once worked for Du Village, now work at L & E.

The “French 75 Bar” at L & E must takes its name, perhaps, from the French 75 field gun of World War 1. Also, in 1915 Harry’s bar in Paris created a “French 75” drink made from gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar.

The French Food at L & E

There is also a strong French emphasis in the food that they serve at L & E. For example, Starters include a Salad of Duck Confit, an item which consists of Celery Root Puree, Gingered Figs and Red Wine Syrup.

A highlight on the Soup and Salad section on themenu is s French Onion Soup with Cherry Vinegar, Three Cheeses and Braised Oxtails, and one of the salads is Pan Fried Chicken Livers with Smoked Bacon Lardons, Frisee and Poached Egg.

Entrées include Venison “Osso Bucco” with Sweet Potato Sardalize Gratin and a Salad of Pears and Dried Black Cherries. Another entre is Pan Seared Atlantic Skate Wings with Brown Butter with Pancetta and Leek Confit with a salad of Arugula and Cranberry Beans.

A New Second Floor Restaurant

In additional to the downstairs that L & E took over from Du Village, the Reid’s have created an Upstairs L & E out of what was once an apartment on the floor above the restaurant.

Although it is a steep climb up the stairs to reach this second floor restaurant,   the upstairs space is billed as a perfect place for private functions. Also, it is open to the public on weekends, offering such fare as Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Golden Spotted Tilefish, which Linda Reid characterizes as “Beautiful.”

Prior to moving to Chester, Linda and Everett Reid for several decades owned the  American Seasons Restaurant on Nantucket Island, and, subsequently, a bistro, also on Nantucket.

Background of the Head Chef at L & E

Chef Everett G. Reid received his training at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and his ownership of earlier restaurants earned him considerable press attention. Chef Everett has also been publicly recognized as one of the “Great Chefs of the East.”

The Chef’s wife and partner, Linda Reid, has developed a passion and deep knowledge of American wines, and she has been recognized in the Wine Spectator magazine.

On Tuesdays L & E offers “Burger Nights,” which feature for $14 a “sumptuous” burger with fries and a glass of house wine or a beer. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, there is also a $25 Prix Fixe dinner.

The prices on the main menu range from $12 to $21 for Starters; $12 to $14 for Soups and Salads, and $26 to $32 for Entrees. Prices are similar at the Upstairs       L & E.  The restaurant is closed Monday and is open Tuesdays thru Sundays from 5:00 to 9:00. The Upstairs L & E is open Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 9:00.

L & E is located at 59 Mains Street, and the telephone number is 860-526-5301.

The Wheatmarket

Most people think of The Wheatmarket down on Water Street, as a great place for lunch, and they are right. As co-owner Joan Welch says, “We do a brisk lunch business.”

Exterior of the popular Wheatmarket down on Water Street

Exterior of the popular Wheatmarket down on Water Street

The Wheatmarket at lunch time offers the following made-to-order sandwiches: (1) a chicken and grape salad sandwich, (2) a store roasted, top round of beef sandwich with horse radish and cheddar cheese, (3) a tuna works sandwich with sprouts, carrots, dill and Havarti cheese, (4) an old-fashioned bacon, lettuce and bacon sandwich, as well as other sandwich selections.

Also at lunch time The Wheatmarket features “made from scratch” soups, including a homemade baked potato soup; chicken rice and a chicken noodle soups; house made chili; and cream soups of asparagus, tomato or potato. Deserts feature slices of Deep Dish Apple pie and a selection of saucer-sized cookies, including a ginger cookie, which is close to habit forming.

As for beverages there is “Honest Tea,” which is low in sugar, plus an array of soft drinks, including root beer, birch beer and Sarsaparilla tea.

All of these items can be eaten at one of the tables at The Wheatmarket, or they can be taken out.

The Emphasis Is on Lunch Not Breakfast

Although The Wheatmarket opens at nine in the morning, it does not offer much of a breakfast. You can get a muffin and coffee to tide you over, but that is about it.

The owners of The Wheatmarket are Daniel and Joan Welch, who live in Essex. This coming spring they will have owned their business in Chester for 22 years. Over that time, Joan Welch observes, “We are going into another generation of our customers.”

She means that children that once came in with their parents are now parents themselves. As for the adults back then, well let’s just say they are now a bit older.

Over the years Joan Welch has listened to a number of life’s travails from her customers. “Sometimes I feel like a bartender,” she says of her role as a sympathetic ear. Friends are friends after all, and Joan Welch has many friends among her customers.

Another indication of the passage of time at the market is that one of the former young dishwashers is now a medical doctor. Also the Welch’s two boys are now grown men. In fact, the younger son, Mark, is the Manager of the Colonial Supermarket in Essex.

Selling Sandwiches Is Only Half the Story

Serving soup and sandwiches is all that many people know about The Wheatmarket. But it is only half the story. In the large kitchen in the backroom of the market, Chef-Owner Dennis L. Welch conducts a full blown catering business, and don’t think that this is a small operation.

Inside the busy, busy Wheatmarket, stacked for the season

Inside the busy, busy Wheatmarket, stacked for the season

Just before Christmas The Wheatmarket catered complete meals for a group 600 people. This order entailed making some 600 pounds of Lasagna, and 300 pounds of Sausage and Pepperoni, according to Chef Welch.

Chef Welsh, who is deeply involved in his catering business, also tells the story that once he was hired by a very successful business person to cater a dinner for literally hundreds of the host’s friends and clients. Then, shortly before the big event, the Chef received a call that the host had died.

Chef Daniel and Joan Welch, owners of the Wheatmarket

Chef Daniel and Joan Welch, owners of the Wheatmarket

This meant the cancellation of the big dinner. However, Welch says that he did cater the funeral of the departed host. In fact, these days Welch says catering funerals, “last suppers” you might call them, has become an important part of his  business.

Pattaconk River Flooding Could Be a Threat          

About the only event that could threaten the present success of The Wheatmarket could be major flooding of the Pattaconk River. The river is just across the parking lot from the market.

A few years ago, in fact, the river flooded over the entire parking lot, although the market was on high enough ground. With global warming the next big flood could be even higher. As Joan Welch puts it, “After all we are on Water Street.”

But now is not the time to think about such things as floods. The Wheatmarket is decked out for the season, and Joan Welch has put together a couple of monster gift baskets, which a customer can take home for $60. Also, one suspects that even in this happy season, she is prepared to offer a listening ear to a customer who wants to talk to her about private things.

Six Main Restaurant

On November 29, ValleyNewsNow.com published a review of the Six Main Restaurant in Chester, entitled, “New Chester Vegan Restaurant Receives Top Rating from the New York Times.” The headline of the Times’ article was, “Artistry at Work,” and the Timesgushed at the skills of the Six Main Restaurant’s Chef, Rachel Carr.

The ValleyNewsNow.com article about Six Main Restaurant, and the Times enthusiastic endorsement, can be easily found by scrolling down to Recent Articles by Jerome Wilson on the ValleyNewsNow.com. The New York Times review referred to in the article was published on November 16.

One new development at the Six Main Restaurant is that it has recently put in place new soundproofing on the interior ceiling of the restaurant. After all, the restaurant space was previously used by a bank, which clearly did have the sound levels of a busy restaurant.

Walmart Stopped Selling Guns in Old Saybrook Five Years Ago; But Store Still Sells Ammunition

Cases of bullets for guns on sale at Walmart

Cases of bullets for guns on sale at Walmart

According to several of its employees, Walmart stopped selling guns at its store in Old Saybrook five years ago. However, the store still has plenty of gun ammunition for sale, although it is kept under lock and key. A potential buyer has to ask a Walmart employee to unlock the cases to purchase the bullets for the various makes of guns.

Also, above the locked ammunition show cases are packages of gun targets. In addition, in an exhibit near the entrance of the store, there is a large display of BB guns and their ammunition for sale. BB guns are on sale for less than $30.

BB guns for sale at Walmart

BB guns for sale at Walmart

An informal survey among employees of stores in the shopping plaza confirmed that there was no store in the Old Saybrook shopping plaza that has guns for sale. There was, however, speculation that guns might be purchased in Groton, and certainly in other parts of the state.

Gun practice targets also on sale

Gun practice targets also on sale

After the terrible shooting tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, many shoreline residents who shop in Old Saybrook are concerned about the sale of guns in the state.

Little Chester Has Some Big Time Restaurants. Here’s What They Offer (Part 1)

The Villager

How did it happen that the little town of Chester has one, first class restaurant after another? But who cares how it happened, just that it did.

Let’s begin with The Villager at 13 Main Street, which opens its doors at 5:30 a.m. every morning on weekdays, and an hour later on weekends. It closes at 2:00 p.m.

The Villager starts its breakfast at 5:30 a.m.

The Villager starts its breakfast at 5:30 a.m.

Diane and Frank Voccia, who took over the Villager a year ago this coming January, serve what you would expect at these early morning hours. Basically, its breakfast, breakfast, and breakfast, with everything freshly made.

Villager owners Frank and Diane Voccia, a new menu coming up

Villager owners Frank and Diane Voccia, a new menu coming up

Diane takes the orders, and Frank does the cooking, and unlike many other cooks he can actually make a soft, scrambled egg. Also served are pancakes, meats, fries and delicious toast. The bread for the toast comes from Fabled Food Bakery in Deep River, which only sells wholesale.

The clientele at The Villager is what you would expect among early risers, utility company workers all suited up for a second cup of coffee before they head off to clear brush and climb up telephone poles.  Also, along one whole side of the restaurant there sit the newspaper readers. They sit there for the better part of an hour, because there is a lot to read in a daily paper, especially when you are nursing a second cup of coffee.

The Voccia’s have big dreams for the future of their restaurant. In a few weeks they will add Italian favorites to their lunch menu. (Both of their parents came from Italy.) The future menu will include “real” Italian antipasto, as well as egg plant parmesan, sausage and pepperoni, meatball grinders and pasta fagioli. (Phone:  860-526-9981)

 Simon’s Marketplace

Next down the road at 17 Main Street is Simon’s Marketplace. The Marketplace opens at eight in the morning, and closes at six o’clock in the evening. Also, there is breakfast from 8:00 until 11:30 am.

Simon's Markeplace at center stage on Main Street

Simon’s Marketplace at center stage on Main Street

Simon’s owner, Jim Reilly, when asked what is special about his popular place says, “Everything is fresh, everyday.” Specialties include “great salads” with ingredients such as fresh fennel, corn beef, walnuts, chicken, goat cheese, pasta and arugula in many different combinations.

Reilly says, “Everyday, we do five new salads.” Also, portions at Simon’s are very, very large. In fact, it is not unusual to see diners splitting a single sandwich for two. The house also makes a variety of soups, a popular item.

Menu favorites also include: meatloaf, roasted salmon, and the “very popular” pulled pork. Also, Simon’s can cater to both vegetarian and non-vegetarian customers.

Owner Reilly notes that he has operated Simon’s “for eight great years.” He and his wife split the duties entailed in operating a restaurant, “She does all the book work,” he says, “and I run the restaurant.”

Not content with running just one restaurant. Reilly for the past 17 years has also run the Blue Oar, an open air restaurant in Haddam along the Connecticut River.

As for Simon’s Marketplace, one senses that it is the kind of place where the deals go down, where everybody is talking but others are not listening. The kind of deals going down could be financial, political, charitable, social, and perhaps even romantic on occasion.  (Phone: 860-526-8984)

River Tavern

 Without question River Tavern is the “Big Kahuna” among Chester restaurants. Located at 23 Main Street, it has set a high bar that other Chester restaurants can only attain to. Although, essentially, a high quality dinner restaurant, River Tavern also serves weekday and Sunday lunches as well.

River Tavern, Chester's classic, superb food restaurant

River Tavern, Chester’s classic, superb food restaurant

Lunch hours are: 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, Monday thru Saturday. Sunday lunch is from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm. Dinner hours are 5:00 pm to 9:30 pm, Monday thru Friday, with slight variations on Saturday and Sunday.

As for the food Executive Chef Chris Flahaven says, “We do everything to order, and we only serve local produce.” “We support our local farms,” he also points out. As for style the offerings at River Tavern can be very original and even complicated. They are also with very few exceptions simply delicious.

River Tavern's Chefs, Chris Flahaven and Stefan Burcyuski

River Tavern’s Chefs, Chris Flahaven and Stefan Burcyuski

Here are some samples dishes from the River Tavern web site.

First Course: soeltl farm pork liver mousse with grilled crostini & pickled local honey mushrooms & carrots;

Main Course: grilled Stonington swordfish with roasted potatoes, bacon-corn salad & smoked tomato cream sauce,

Dessert: chocolate-whipped ricotta with toasted pistachios, crushed amaretti cookies & grapefruit zest. Prices for the above are 12, 28 and 12 dollars, respectively.

Another sample menu on the web site lists includes:

First Course: crispy salt & pepper pork ribs with sriracha, sweet soy & crisp vegetables;

Main Course: sautéed fresh shrimp & squid with crispy polenta, tomatoes, corn, Swiss chard & herbs, and

Dessert: ginger-plumb crème brulee. These items are priced at 13, 28 and 6 dollars.

In addition to this dazzling display of culinary creativity, River Tavern has a number of price gimmicks to get you in the door. They include ½ price wine on Monday and Tuesday evenings; ½ price cocktails on Wednesday and Thursday, and a $10 children’s menu on Sundays.

Wine prices at River Tavern range from $350 for a bottle of Champaign Moet & Chardon Perpignan Brut 2002, to $14 for a bottle of Pinot noir rose on a half price wine night.

Like Chester’s new vegan competitor, 6 Main Restaurant across the street, River Tavern has been reviewed by the New York Times. However, 6 Main was placed in the Times’ highest culinary category, “Don”t Miss;” whereas River Tavern was in the second category as “Worth It.”

Although very enthusiastic about the food at River Tavern, the Times groused, “THE SPACE Tiny tightly spaced tables. (It can get noisy).”

True enough, but few can argue with the delicious sophistication of River Tavern.  No matter the Times quibbles; the bottom line for locals is that River Tavern cannot be beat. (Phone: 860-526-9417)

Pattaconk 1850

A competitor of Pattaconk 1850, once wrote off the restaurant as “nothing but a bar.”  This remarks angers Pattaconk’s Manager, Robort Gallbraith. “I hate the word ‘bar,’” he says. “We cater to everybody.”

Pattaconk 1850, awaits the night

Pattaconk 1850, awaits the night

Still there is some truth that Pattaconk 1850 is something of a bar; at least when compared to its down the street competitors, River Tavern and 6 Main Restaurant. In fact, on a busy weekend evening Pattaconk 1850 can have as many as three deep at the bar at its 33 Main Street location.

At the bar of Pattaconk 1850

At the bar of Pattaconk 1850

But the restaurant is, granted, far more than being just a bar. Posted on its web site a reviewer writes:

“The food is great. It arrives hot and in generous portions. I tend to have sandwiches and burgers when I go there, and I haven’t yet been disappointed in anything that I’ve ordered. They are cooked to order and they make reasonable substitutions when asked. I admit that I have a weakness for clam chowder… and it’s worth the trip up to Chester just for that

As for the “1850” in the title of the restaurant, Manager Gallbraith says that the Pattaconk 1850 restaurant was founded sometime in the mid-nineteenth century, but no one really knows when. So they just picked up the “1850” the middle of the century.

Pattaconk 1850 has an interesting and informative web site. One of the photos on the site, among others, is a long row of motorcycles parked out in front of the restaurant. But don’t call it, “a motorcycle bar.” The manager would not like it. (Phone: 860-526-8143)

 (Part 2 of this look at Chester’s downtown restaurants will include articles on Cabo Tequila Grill and the Wheat Marked on Water Street, as well as L & E Restaurant and 6 Main Restaurant back up on Main Street.)

Essex Planning Commission Abandons a “Public Access” Pathway to North Cove, in a Deal with Foxboro Developer

Attorney Terrance Lomme and Sciame Vice President John Randolph explaining their compromise plan to the Commissioners

The Essex Planning Commission has decided to junk its original plan to create a “public access” pathway, running down from Foxboro Road to the waters of North Cove. The pathway plan was originally put forward as a condition for the Commission’s approval of the development of 11 plus acres at Foxboro Point by a private developer, Frank J. Sciame, Jr. This original plan had been challenged by developer Sciame, and, separately, by a group of Foxboro Point neighbors, in state Superior Court.

Darker lines show new small viewing pocket agreed by the Commission

In place of the original plan, the Commission has now accepted a “compromise plan” with Sciame’s development company, which would create a new, small pocket park on Foxboro Road. The original “public access” walkway from Foxboro Road down to North Cove, once agreed to be the Commission, has now been completely abandoned.

Red lines indicate original Commission approved “Public Access” path to the North Cove

At the Commission’s recent November 27 meeting, Sciame’s counsel, Terrance Lomme, offered the Commission the compromise proposal. This proposal eliminates, totally, the “public access” walkway to the water, and puts in its place a small, pocket park off Foxboro Road.

Final Approval of Compromise Plan at December Meeting

The final acceptance by the Commission of the roadside public park proposal is expected to take place at the Commission’s December meeting. The measurements of the small, pocket park are 75 feet by 80 feet, with an overall size of 6195 square feet.

In contrast, the square footage of the now junked, public pathway to the water from Foxboro Road to North Cove would have required 21,500 square feet on the development site.

Not a single member of the Planning Commission raised an objection to the complete scuttling of the Commission’s original “walk to the water” proposal at the November meeting, at least in the public portion of that meeting.                 

Secret Commission Discussions of Compromise Plan

The Commission made its decision to junk the original “walk to the water” plan, and to replace it with a small pocket park, at a two hour Executive Session at its November meeting. The general public is excluded from attending Executive Sessions of the Essex Planning Commission.

Ironically, when the Commission’s “walk to the water” plan was challenged in Superior Court by the developer, as well as by a group of neighbors in a separate action, one of the grounds for the challenges of both was that the Commission had made its approval of the original plan in a manner that “deprived the general public the opportunity in listening to its reasoning …”

On this ground alone the developer and neighbors’ counsel asked the Superior Court to throw out the Commission’s original walkway to the water plan in two separate lawsuits.

However, in presenting its compromise proposal at the November meeting the developer’s representatives, who included Sciame Vice President John Randolph, did not say a word about objecting to the Commission’s Executive Session that considered the compromise proposal.

“Executive Sessions” May Violate State Open Meetings Law

Many open meeting advocates are troubled by the practice of local regulatory bodies, such as the Essex Planning Commission, who hold their key discussions of applications before them in secret, Executive Sessions. Some charge that this practice violates the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act.

This Act, after all, provides that meetings of a “public agency … which is meeting “to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has jurisdiction” should be made at an open meeting. However, to date a legal challenge to the Essex Planning Commission’s practice of going into Executive Sessions to discuss important decisions has not been challenged in a court of law.

This issue aside, the Essex Planning Commission’s decision at its last meeting to join the developer in abandoning, completely, the Commission’s original decision to allow full “public access” to walkers to the waters of North Cove, and replace this extensive walkway with a crimped little park up along the road, is truly surprising.

How to Explain the Commission’s Retreat from Its Original Plan

One informed observer of the Commission’s evident determination to accept the developer’s compromise said that the Commission may have made such a decision, because it had doubts about the legal validity of the “public access” doctrine.

In fact, Essex Attorney John Bennet, who represents a group of neighbor interveners, has on a number occasions given impassioned speeches at Commission meetings, exhorting the Commission to accept the fact that “public access” has no legal validity.

If “public access” as a doctrine is on shaky legal ground, then recognizing a right of “public access” could be decided more on the basis of a developer’s civic generosity than on a firmly grounded, legal principle.

Other Elements of the Compromise Plan

In addition to retreating, radically, as to the reach of “public access,” the compromise plan of the developer was modified in a number of ways by the Commission.

One the developer’s suggestions called for the creation of new parking spaces for visitors along Foxboro Road. This proposal was totally rejected by the Commission. In fact, the elimination of new parking spaces on Foxboro Road might well have been welcomed by the developer, because it would mean fewer “public access” visitors at the proposed, pocket park viewing site.

Another restriction, insisted on by the Commission, was that the hedges around the small viewing area should not be higher than three feet. Also, no trees should be planted by neighboring land owners that would impede the visual sighting of the iconic Foxboro Point windmill from the viewing perch.

Foxboro windmill can be viewed from proposed pocket park

In addition, on the large conservation easement area that runs along the base of the development property, the Commission wanted no plantings or the setting up of lawn furniture and the like by adjoining property owners.

Finally, the developer is required to make a money payment of $120,270 to the town in connection with the development.

Future Looks Bright for Compromise Plan

It is widely expected that at its December meeting, the Essex Planning Commission will give its full approval of the compromise plan, as put forward by the developer, and modified in minor ways by the Commission.

Of course, Attorney Bennet’s lawsuit on behalf of the neighbors of the development would still be pending before the Superior Court, even after the Commission and the developer settled their dispute. However, since the neighbors are more spectators than principals in the actual development, it is questionable that they could hold up the entire project, just because they do not want any new neighbors.