February 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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9 Town Transit Partners with Google Maps for Online Trip Planning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Annual Pancake Supper, Feb. 28, at All Saint’s, Ivoryton, Benefits Refugee/Immigrant Organization

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

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

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

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

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Find Out the Facts About Marijuana Legalization at Two, Free Workshops, March 8 & 15

AREAWIDE — A new generation of children may soon grow up with both alcohol and psychotropic drugs as adult recreation.  If you have an opinion about this, it’s time to get involved.

Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition invites local residents to attend two important workshops about marijuana legalization in Connecticut.  Learn about marijuana and its impact on youth, health and society, and hear the latest information from states that have already legalized it.

The Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC) is hosting a two-part workshop series to provide facts, hear citizens’ concerns and help participants strengthen their political voices.  Participants will prepare talking points and persuasive testimony to share with legislators in Hartford.  Become knowledgeable and practice talking to others about this critical issue.

Workshop 1: Wednesday, March 8. 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Valley Shore YMCA

Workshop 2;  Wednesday, March 15, 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Valley Shore YMCA

Save your space in this free workshop by calling MCSAAC at 860-347-5959 or email betsey@mcsaac.org.

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High Hopes Offers “VetTogether” Family Day Open House, Sunday

AREAWIDE — High Hopes, IAVA, Equus Effect and Team RWB Groton are hosting a “VetTogether” Family Day Open House at High Hopes on Sunday, Feb. 12, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

High Hopes will present an introduction to the Equus Effect Program  during which attendees will spend around 90 minutes interacting with the horses and enjoying time with fellow Connecticut veterans and families.

This program, which takes place on High Hopes’ 120-acre property in Old Lyme, introduces veterans, families and High Hopes supporters to working with horses and will be followed by lunch.

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding is located at 36 Town Woods Rd., Old Lyme CT  06371

RSVP at the IAVA Event Page

For more information, contact Megan Ellis at mellis@highhopestr.org

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Parent-Toddler Play & Support Groups Offered at Tri-Town Youth Services

AREAWIDE — Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High St., Deep River will host weekly support groups for parents of young children.  Parents have opportunity to socialize and talk about family challenges while toddlers play.

The Parent Resource Coordinator will present a new parenting theme each week and invite parents to browse the extensive Parent Resource Library.  Toddlers will enjoy free play and art exploration.  Each session will include a seasonal circle with songs, yoga and finger-plays, followed by a shared snack.

“Outstanding Ones” for children under two, will meet Tuesdays from Feb. 7 to April 4.  The group gathers from 10:30 to 11 a.m. and the program costs $45 for Tri-Town residents.

“Terrific Twos” for children 24-36 months, will meet Wednesdays from Feb. 8 to April 5 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and costs $60 for Tri-Town residents.  Call 860-526-3600 to reserve your spot or register and pay securely online at www.tritownys.org.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  They coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.

Discover more programs and information for families at www.tritownys.org.

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Literacy Volunteers Seeks Tutors, Registration Open Now for Next Training Program

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS), CT, Inc. is a private non-profit organization.  Its mission is to train tutors to help residents of the Valley Shore area who wish to improve their reading, writing or speaking English to improve their life and work skills.  This one-to-one instruction is held confidential and is completely without charge to the student.

Tutor training is a 14-hour program conducted over seven sessions held each spring and again in the fall of every year.  The next training session begins March 23 and runs through May 9. Literacy Volunteers Workshop Leaders have developed a comprehensive program that provides prospective tutors the skills and resources to help them succeed. A background in education is not necessary – just a desire to tutor and a commitment to helping a student improve their skill in basic literacy or English as a Second Language over the period of one year after the completion of training.

If you are interested in becoming a tutor, contact the LVVS office in the basement of Westbrook’s Public Library by phone at (860) 399-0280 or by e-mail at jferrara@vsliteracy.org . Literacy Volunteers are registering for the spring session now and the deadline for applications is March 2, but only a few more slots are available.

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Old Saybrook ‘Sister March’ Draws Almost 1,000 Peaceful Protesters

Baby’s first march — we suspect not Grandma’s!

AREAWIDE — The march may only have been registered late last week, but almost 1,000 people still turned out Saturday morning in Old Saybrook to join the movement that inspired around three million people across the globe to publicly express their opinions on the rights of women and other minority groups, and in many ways on the new Trump presidency as a whole.

More than 500 people had gathered by 10 a.m. on the Old Saybrook Town Green unsure whether they were just going to simply stand in front of the Town Hall or whether they were actually going to march.

They came from towns all along the shoreline — Guilford, Clinton, Old Lyme, Lyme, East Lyme, and Old Saybrook were all mentioned — and they spanned in age from a few months to others well into their 80s and many wore what had become the signature pink “Pussy Hats.” Many people brought signs ranging from hand-written words painted on pieces of cardboard to an elaborately embroidered banner bearing the words “Not My President.”

Others like Alison Mitchell of Old Lyme fearlessly sat in her wheelchair strongly and stoically making her point.

Around 10:30 a.m., it became apparent that a march was beginning going north up Main St. on the east side towards Boston Post Rd. then crossing over and returning to the Green going south on the west side.  By this time the crowd had swelled by several hundred more and as the demonstrators marched, more and more people joined.

Women were definitely in the majority but there were plenty of men marching too.  There were some chants, “Love Trumps Hate” was a popular one, and songs,”We Shall Overcome” rang out at one point, and overall, it was a cheerful, friendly occasion.  When the clouds cleared and the sun finally broke through on the return leg, marcher Rosemary Barclay of Old Lyme said with a chuckle, “It’s certainly not going to rain on our parade!”

From left to right, some Old Lyme marchers share a smile.

But once wasn’t enough for these intrepid marchers.  Almost as soon as they found themselves back at ‘The Kate,’ they started re-tracing their steps and ultimately completed a second loop. The Old Saybrook Police did a wonderful job stopping the patient traffic so that the marchers could cross Main Street whenever necessary.

By the time of the second circuit, the line of marchers was so long that it snaked down one side of Main St., across the road and then up the other side.  Passengers were getting out of cars to join the march, horns were being sounded regularly — and loudly — in support of the marchers and only one lone pick-up truck with “Trump’ flags was spotted.

At the end of it all, the marchers happily gathered in front of the Town Hall and in communion with all the other marchers across the nation and the world, observed a meaningful moment of silence before peacefully dispersing.

More signs …

… and another …

… and another …

… and another …

David Brown with coffee and a sign …

A previous presidential campaign slogan refocused …

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The Latest on the Train: FRA Hosts Open House in Springfield, Mass., Today

  • Two Important Upcoming Events BOTH on Wednesday, Jan. 25:
    Federal Railroad Administration ‘Open House’ in Springfield, Mass., 4-7pm

    ‘Community Connections’ Luncheon Discusses ‘High Speed Rail in Old Lyme,’ 12-2pm

On a recent snowy day and under an early morning sun, an Amtrak train travels along the Connecticut shoreline through Rocky Neck State Park.

AREAWIDE — We published an editorial on Jan. 6 regarding the high speed train issue in which we asked, “But what has happened here in our own backyard in terms of specific actions to express concern to the FRA regarding the Preferred Route?”  Well, it’s now Jan. 17 and just 11 days later, the answer is clear — a great deal!

First and most importantly, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has announced it will be holding one last public meeting in New England before the Record of Decision.  Billed as the Springfield, Mass., Open House, it will be held Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, 60 Congress St., Springfield, MA.

This, as its name suggests, is an opportunity for the public to ask questions freely — as in any normal public forum — but significantly Old Lyme and, in fact, the whole of Southeast Connecticut have not previously been given that opportunity.

Take your mind back to Aug. 31 when the FRA finally held a “public” meeting in Old Lyme — yes, it was public in that over 500 people attended but was any member of the public allowed to ask a single question?  No.  It is therefore significant that this opportunity is being presented — but in Springfield, Mass.?  The intention is clear — people from this area of Connecticut are not expected to attend.

SECoast.org and the CT Trust are encouraging as many folk as possible to make the trek up to Springfield on the 25th so we can meet the FRA face-to-face, ask our questions, and expect answers.  We heartily support that call and urge as many readers as possible to attend.  We hear there is a possibility a bus may be chartered to go to Springfield — we’ll keep you posted on that.

Jan. 25th is going to be a busy day!

Community Connections, the grass-roots group that provides local organizations a network to explore collaboration opportunities for enhancement of our Lyme-Old Lyme community, is hosting a luncheon at the Old Lyme Country Club at which the topic under discussion will be ‘High Speed Rail in Old Lyme.’  The invitation explains the topic further as , “How the Federal Railroad Administration’s controversial new plan could impact your organization and what you can do to advocate and prepare.” LymeLine.com is a member of Community Connections.

Gregory Stroud, Executive Director of SECoast.org will be the speaker. Stroud will provide background information on the FRA’s rail project, an update on the activities of SECoast, and take questions.  This should be an informative pre-cursor to the Springfield event.  All are welcome at the luncheon — there is no requirement to be a representative of a non-profit group — RSVP to attend ($25 per person) here.

As we’ve stated previously, writing to the FRA is still vitally important — see our previous article on suggested text. The Old Lyme Town Hall also has suggested text at this link and the offer of a pre-addressed postcard if you stop by the Town Hall.

File photo from GoDaddy.com

In other news, Senator Blumenthal raised the bypass as an issue in confirmation hearings for Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine Chao. With thanks to SECoast.org, view video of the confirmation hearing here.

There has been quite a number of recent newspaper articles regarding the high speed train proposal and opposition to it, not only in Southeast Connecticut but also in Rhode Island. Here’s a listing of some of them, including one published as a lead story just yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, which at press time had already drawn 462 comments:

Region officials bring rail bypass concerns to Washington by Kimberly Drelich published Jan. 12 in the New London Day.

In this article, Drelich reported on a trip made Jan. 11 by local officials to Washington DC, saying, “Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments Executive Director Samuel Gold visited the offices of U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, and U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., to ask for support in gaining an audience with the incoming transportation secretary or administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.”  It was encouraging to read this news.

Drelich also noted, “Sens. Blumenthal and Murphy and U.S. Reps. John Larson, D-1st District, Courtney, Himes and Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, wrote a letter to the FRA dated Jan. 12 that requests a four-week extension.” Again, very positive news.

Hundreds turn out in opposition of proposed Charlestown railroad bypass by Catherine Hewitt published Jan. 11 in The Westerly Sun.

Outcry over Northeast Corridor line: ‘We’ve been railroaded’ by Donita Naylor published Jan. 11 in the Providence Journal.

Town residents oppose plan to realign Northeast train tracks by Associated Press published Jan. 11 in (the UK!) Daily Mail.

Rail overhaul plan is both a winner and a loser in CT by Ana Radelat published Jan. 9 in The CT Mirror.

Watch an interview titled, ‘Stop the ByPass,’ by the Green Party’s Tim Hanser with Greg Stroud of SECoast and the CT Trust at this link.

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Wayne Eisenbaum Charitable Foundation Donates $20,000 to Operation Fuel

OLD SAYBROOK — The Wayne Eisenbaum Charitable Foundation (previously called IRMAR) of Old Saybrook, has donated $20,000 to Operation Fuel for its energy programs.

Now in its 40th year, Operation Fuel is a statewide nonprofit program that provides emergency energy assistance year-round to lower-income working families and individuals, the elderly, and disabled individuals who are in financial crisis.

Individuals who need energy assistance should call 211.

For more information on Operation Fuel or to make a donation, go towww.operationfuel.org

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Join the Local Effort to Help End Youth Homelessness: Volunteer with Youth Count! 2017

Participate in the statewide effort to understand the scope of youth homelessness

AREAWIDE — Noank Community Support Services, Inc. is leading the local effort in Southeastern Connecticut alongside the second statewide count of unstably housed and homeless youth ages 13-24 from Jan. 25-Jan. 31, 2017 being conducted by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. The 2017 CT Youth Count will provide information essential to our efforts to advance toward the goal of ending youth homelessness by 2020. 

Volunteers are needed to support this effort throughout the community.

Unaccompanied homeless youth and young adults are a largely hidden population. Some homeless young people are identified during the annual Point-in-Time Count census of homelessness, but many are missed because they do not typically access adult emergency shelters or other homeless services.

The Jan. 24, 2017 PIT Count will be followed by a week-long effort to count homeless youth, powered by schools, youth providers, state agencies, faith-based groups, and youth themselves.  These partners head the effort to collect the data we need to have a better understanding of homelessness and housing instability among youth in Connecticut. 

Connecticut’s 2015 Youth Count indicated that some 3,000 young people were experiencing homelessness in the state.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced that 2017 will be used as the baseline year for federal data collection on homeless youth.

The success of the 2017 CT Youth Count depends on the participation of volunteers. Volunteers for the count can participate according to their availability during the week of January 25th-31st in their communities.  Please join participate and volunteer. Together, we can end youth homelessness in Connecticut!

To register as a volunteer for the 2017 Youth Count! or Point-in-Time Count, click here or visit http://cceh.org/volunteer-registration-2017/.

For the 2015 Youth Count! Report, click here.

For questions, contact Sarah Chess at schess@cceh.org.

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Chester Village West Expands Health Care Programs

Senior living community now offers access to skilled nursing benefits for new residents

CHESTER — In response to market demand and input from prospective residents, the Chester Village West senior living community has added access to skilled nursing benefits for new residents who join the community in 2017.

The 2017 residency agreement at Chester Village West will provide new members of the community access to a full continuum of care, including access to 90 days of skilled nursing benefits per residence at an accredited skilled nursing center of the resident’s choice.

The community’s expanded health care benefits compliment its existing services, which include assisted living services that are provided to residents in the privacy, dignity and comfort of their own residences. These on-site services allow couples that may have different care needs to remain together. An on-site personal health care navigator – a registered nurse – serves as residents’ health care referral source, working with residents’ doctors to coordinate the care and support provided by licensed health care staff.

Those interested in learning more about Chester Village West’s expanded health care benefits may call Sara Philpott at 860.222.7974 or email philpottsara@lcsnet.com to schedule an appointment.

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

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

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State Legislators Encourage Constituents to Help Retired H-K Coach Needing Bone Marrow Transplant

AREAWIDE — State Senator Art Linares (R-33), and State Representatives Jesse MacLachlan (R-35) and Robert Siegrist (R-36) have called for eligible residents to visit the Be the Match website to see if they can help a local field hockey coach.

Longtime Haddam-Killingworth field hockey coach Patsy Kamercia was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. She needs a bone marrow transplant to treat her Myelodysplastic/Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Unclassifiable Disorder.

Sen. Linares said, “I’ve been told that Ms. Kamercia has been a selfless volunteer, who started the Haddam-Killingworth High School Field Hockey Team 40 years ago and continues to coach the team in her retirement. When I learned about her illness, I knew we needed to get the word out to encourage as many people as we can to get tested as a possible match for her.”

A bone marrow drive was held for Kamercia at Haddam-Killingworth High School last week, but people can visit Be the Match to get a testing kit sent to their house. All that is required is a cheek swab to test for a DNA match.

Rep. MacLachlan said, “As a teacher and coach, Ms. Kamercia had a tremendous impact on her students and the young women she coached. The website describes the donation process, which generally is uncomfortable and has minor side effects. It’s not as dramatic or traumatic as Hollywood makes it seem.”

Be the Match says most donations are taken from the arm, but some may be taken from a donor’s pelvic bone, which involves giving the donor anesthesia.

Rep. Siegrist said, “For people with Ms. Kamercia’s disease, receiving healthy stem cells from a donor is the only treatment. Even if you are not a genetic match for her, you may be the match that saves someone else’s life. Also, as an alumnus of Haddam-Killingworth High School, I am proud to support Ms. Kamercia and this great organization.”

The legislators said they hope a match for Kamercia can be found soon so she can get on the road to recovery.

Visit Be the Match for more information about marrow donation and other ways to help.

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Join the ‘Common Good Gardens’ to Discover the Benefits of Volunteering; Orientation Meeting, Mar. 11

OLD SAYBROOK — Each year, the Common Good Gardens in Old Saybrook raise nearly four tons of fresh vegetables and fruit, and then then donates them to the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries  And they do it entirely with volunteers – volunteers who have kept it going and improved it for 15 years.

You’re probably thinking, “How unselfish … doing all that work to benefit other people,” and they are for sure.  But, according to new research, volunteers are also on the receiving end of some amazing benefits; and most likely, they don’t even know it.  They just know that they feel better when they leave the garden.

Never too young … all ages can volunteer at the Common Good Garden.

Solid data on the benefits of volunteering has appeared in a variety of current publications, ranging from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health Letters, to a review from the Corporation for National & Community Service, which states,

On average, volunteering 40 to 100 hours per year increases personal satisfaction and happiness, decreases depression, improves functional capacity; and results in fewer illnesses and a longer life span.

Similar articles from the Huffington Post, Atlantic Monthly as well as research released by Johns Hopkins, The London School of Economics and University of Exeter Medical School have all told a similar story.

Greatest Gains for Seniors

Volunteering has health benefits — especially for seniors!

While there are potential gains to be had for high-schoolers and middle-aged persons, the greatest gains related to volunteering are for those 65 and older.  Some researchers suggest this greater gain for seniors may be because they start out lower before volunteering. Their health may not be as good as that of younger people or they may have lower self-esteem and more social isolation due to retirement.  Even if that proves true, starting to volunteer at an earlier adult stage seems to correlate with fewer health issues later in life.

Regarding functional capacity, the Hopkins study showed improved brain function associated with activities that get you moving and thinking at the same time.  As for happiness, though some of the happiness data is based on self-reporting alone, other data show hormone levels and brain scan activity consistent with physiologic changes associated with happiness.

Studies in UK

In addition to the improvements shown above, a large review of nearly 25,000 articles in the UK notes increased coping ability, better parenting skills and richer personal relationships.

Impact on Chronic Illness and Longevity

Several studies examined in particular the impact for those with chronic illness. They found that these volunteers reported decreased pain and depression. People with a prior heart attack also had lower incidences of depression after volunteering.

A United Health Group survey showed these striking figures:

  • 25% reported volunteering helped them live better with chronic illness
  • 76% reported feeling healthier
  • 78% reported lowered stress levels
  • 94% reported improved mood
  • 96% reported an enriched sense of purpose

Finally U.S. census data confirms that those states with high volunteer rates show greater longevity and lower rates of heart disease.

Come Join the Common Good Gardens

There’s always room for an extra pair of hands …

Come join us at the Common Good Gardens.  Whatever your age, level of health, or skill set, there’s a way for you to contribute while benefiting from volunteering.

Yes, gardeners are needed to plant, weed and harvest, and beginners are always welcome. But also needed are people with computer skills, carpentry skills, writing and speaking skills;   people who can drive a car to deliver produce; leaders to organize small groups and work with public schools; people who love nature or are excited about nutrition, and folk who want to help experiment with natural ways to deter pests or make soil richer.

Common Good Gardens by the numbers

  • 14: Number of years garden has been in existence (2002-2016)
  • July 7, 2011: Date the garden incorporated and received non-profit 501(c)3  status
  • 10: Number of Board members
  • 220,000: Total pounds of produce grown, collected and delivered 2004-2016 through garden volunteer efforts
  • 50: Number of core active volunteers (gardeners, drivers, other)
  • 3,000: Number of volunteer hours donated annually
  • 1/2 acre: Size of garden located at rear of Grace Episcopal Church, 336 Main Street, Old Saybrook
  • 22: Number of different varieties of fruits and vegetablesgrown at the garden during 2016
  • 6,900: Pounds of produce grown at the garden in 2016 season
  • $17,200: Dollar value of produce grown at the garden in 2016 season
  • 7: Number of farm stands that donate excess produce to garden for distribution to pantries in 2013.

Many hands make light work at the Common Good Gardens.

Current volunteers at the Common Good Gardens encourage you to get involved so that together, a healthy future for the garden, ourselves, and our shoreline community can be created.

If interested, contact Common Good Gardens at PO Box 1224, Old Saybrook, CT 06475 or call Barbara Standke at 860-575-8645 with questions, or to sign up for the annual new volunteer orientation on March 11.

Editor’s Note: The authors of this piece, Kate Wessling and Barbara Standke, are respectively Common Good Gardens President and Common Good Gardens Volunteer Coordinator.

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Ivoryton Library Hosts Fundraising Trivia Night at Centerbrook Meetinghouse, March 4

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

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

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

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

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

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Volunteers Needed at Estuary Senior Center

OLD SAYBROOK — Volunteers are needed at the Estuary Senior Center, 220 Main St, Old Saybrook. The Center has a variety of opportunities for volunteers.

Join the Thrift Shop team, pack or deliver Meals on Wheels, drive someone to a medical appointment, or greet guests at the Welcome Desk.

The Estuary’s Volunteer Coordinator will meet with you to discuss your interests and availability and find the best fit for you. Even a few hours a week can make a big difference.

The Estuary’s many vital services and programs would not be possible without the volunteers who donate their time and talent to us. Community service hours can be fulfilled by volunteering with the Estuary.

For more information, call Judy at 860-388-1611 x203 or visit www.ecsenior.org

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Bingo Suspended for Winter Months at the Estuary

Bingo at The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. (ECSI) has been suspended for the winter months.

The Estuary will resume games in the Spring – watch for future announcements for exact date and time.

The Estuary thanks everyone for coming to the weekly games and supporting this fun event.

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Facility Rentals Available Year Round at High Hopes

High Hopes logoOLD LYME — High Hopes Therapeutic Riding center located in Old Lyme CT opens its doors and grounds for facility rentals throughout the year.

High Hopes is available for your special event from equestrian functions, corporate events, business meetings / retreats, weddings, receptions other celebrations. Their bucolic 120-acre grounds, indoor/outdoor arenas, heated reception area and classrooms are available.

Flexible rentals are available by the hour, day or weekend.

For more information, contact Holly Sundmacker at hsundmacker@highhopestr.org or call  (860) 434-1974, ext. 127 for an appointment or visit www.highhopestr.org/about

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Reynolds Subaru Presents NADA ‘Ambassadors Grant’ to Estuary’s MOW Program in Memory of Gary Reynolds

Kathryn Wayland, Owner Reynolds Subaru, is pictured presenting Paul Doyle, Estuary Council Executive Director, with a check for $1,000. Standing to the left is G. Hayden Reynolds, Owner Reynolds Subaru.

Kathryn Wayland, Reynolds Subaru owner, is pictured presenting Paul Doyle, Estuary Council Executive Director, with a check for $1,000. Standing to the left is G. Hayden Reynolds, Reynolds Subaru owner.

AREAWIDE — The Estuary Council of Seniors recently received, through Reynolds Subaru, the Ambassadors Grant from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) in memory of Gary Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Garage & Marine Inc. in Lyme, CT.  Gary Reynolds was well known for his distinguished career in the automotive retail industry and his generosity in our local communities.  He served on the board of directors of the NADA, representing franchised new car and truck dealers in Connecticut until his passing in 2013.

The Reynolds family designated the Estuary Council of Seniors to be the recipient of the Ambassadors Grant in memory of Gary and in addition to the award of $500, the Reynolds family matched the grant with an additional $500.

The Estuary is pleased to accept this wonderful grant from the NADA and gift from the Reynolds family in memory of Gary Reynolds in continuing support of the Estuary’s Meals on Wheels program.  This past fiscal year the Estuary delivered over 70,000 meals to Meals on Wheels recipients in the nine town Estuary region including Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook & Westbrook.

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Deep River’s Barb Erni Honored as Literacy Volunteers “Unsung Hero”

Barb Erni

Barb Erni

DEEP RIVER — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore has announced that Barb Erni of Deep River has been awarded this year’s “Unsung Hero” award at the LVVS annual Holiday Social on Dec. 13.  Her many contributions throughout the years have helped both tutors and students to improving English language skills and the quality of life in our shoreline communities.

Erni is an active board member, chairman of the membership committee and coordinates a number of fundraising and program events for the organization.

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore wishes to express its sincere gratitude for her dedication and service and for always going the extra mile in the cause of literacy.

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Dogs on the Docks Proceeds Benefit Local Rescue, Homeward Bound CT

Pictured in the photo are, left to right: Joan Meek, CRM business manager and her dog Lyddie, Sue Hotkowski of Homeward Bound CT, Connie Connors, Essex Board of Trade, Jennifer White-Dobbs, CRM Education Director, Chris Dobbs, CRM Executive Director and Toby.  Both dogs are Homeward Bound CT rescues.

Pictured in the photo are, left to right: Joan Meek, CRM business manager and her dog Lyddie, Sue Hotkowski of Homeward Bound CT, Connie Connors, Essex Board of Trade, Jennifer White-Dobbs, CRM Education Director, Chris Dobbs, CRM Executive Director and Toby.  Both dogs are Homeward Bound CT rescues.

ESSEX — The Connecticut River Museum and Essex Board of Trade are pleased to award Homeward Bound CT $100. The money was raised from the proceeds of the 2016 Dogs on the Dock event.  Each year the proceeds from the event are donated to a local shelter or rescue organization.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, call 860.767.8269 or go to www.ctrivermuseum.org.

For more information about Homeward Bound CT,

visit www.homewardboundct.org. The Essex Board of Trade supports area businesses and events at http://essexct.com.

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Essex, Old Lyme Churches State Clearly That All Parishioners are Welcome

sign

 ESSEX and OLD LYME — A new sign (see above) in front of the First Congregational Church of Essex, a member church of the United Church of Christ, includes the usual notation for the church with its name, year of formation — in this case — 1852, and then these words, “An Open and Affirming Church.”

The final words on the church’s new sign indicate that the church welcomes all parishioners, regardless of their age, race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Meanwhile, the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme goes a little further in its signage, as can be seen in the photo below right.affirming_sign

Our unscientific poll suggests there have been a few objections in both churches to the signs, but most parishioners seem comfortable with them.

It is interesting that both churches have chosen to present their respective new signs at a similar time.

We can only speculate on the catalyst for the timing since we have not investigated it.

Whether or not these “open and affirming” statements made by two Congregational churches in relatively close proximity with one another will now be adopted by other Congregational churches across the country remains to seen.

Dear readers, as always, we welcome your thoughts …

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Essex Garden Club Decorates the Town for the Holidays

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ESSEX — In preparation for the holidays, the Essex Garden club members decorated merchant window boxes, the “silent Policeman” and  tubs of the villages of Essex .  Using a variety of evergreen cuttings from members and other generous donors from the community, the Garden Club helped the town put on a festive face for the “Trees in the Rigging” held Nov. 27,  and the Holiday Stroll, Dec. 9 and  10.

Thanks to both Liz Fowler and Suzanne Tweed for their efforts in coordinating the day of decorating.

Finally, The Essex Garden Club would like to thank the Essex community for its continued support, especially during our spring May Market and extends best wishes to all the resident of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton for a Healthy and Happy New Year.

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Tri-Town Offers Parent-Toddler Play & Support Groups, Feb-April

AREAWIDE — Tri-Town Youth Services, 56 High Street, Deep River will host weekly support groups for parents of young children.  Parents have opportunity to socialize and talk about family challenges while toddlers play.  The Parent Resource Coordinator will present a new parenting theme each week and invite parents to browse the extensive Parent Resource Library.  Toddlers will enjoy free play and art exploration.  Each session will include a seasonal circle with songs, yoga and finger-plays, followed by a shared snack.

“Outstanding Ones” for children under two, will meet Tuesdays from Feb. 7 to April 4.  The group gathers from 10:30 to 11 a.m. and the program costs $45 for Tri-Town residents. 

“Terrific Twos” for children 24-36 months, will meet Wednesdays from Feb. 8 to April 5 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and costs $60 for Tri-Town residents. 

Call 860-526-3600 to reserve your spot or register and pay securely online at www.tritownys.org.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  They coordinate and provide resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover more programs and information for families at www.tritownys.org.

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Montessori School Offers Infant-Parent Classes, Mondays

OLD SAYBROOK — Monday morning infant-parent classes are offered from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. by The Children’s Tree Montessori School at 96 Essex Rd. in Old Saybrook.

In the class, caregivers learn how to observe their baby’s development and choose activities that optimally support development of language and movement. This class is directed by a certified Montessori teacher.

The cost is $100 for a 10-week session.

For more information, visit www.childrenstree.org or call 860-388-3536.

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Kick off the Holidays in Chester at Tonight’s Holiday Festival

Chester's holiday tree will be decorated this year with hearts made by Chester children.

Chester’s holiday tree will be decorated this year with hearts made by Chester children.

The annual Starry Night Holiday Festival in Chester Center on Friday, Dec. 2, is a time for celebration, caroling, shopping, eating, and meeting up with friends and neighbors.

The picturesque historic village will be beautifully decorated for the holidays and the streets will be lined with luminaries made by the Boy Scouts. Saint Lucia Girls will walk around offering cookie treats. Carolers will stroll through the village on their way to the town’s Christmas tree, which will be lighted at 6 p.m. while the community gathers for a sing-along. This year’s tree comes from Camp Hazen YMCA property and will be decorated with school children’s ornaments expressing for what they’re grateful.

Selden's Wild Creek garden is one of Leif Nilsson's new paintings which will be on display tonight.

Selden’s Wild Creek garden is one of Leif Nilsson’s new paintings, which will be on display tonight, during an Opening reception at his gallery.

All evening, the shops and galleries will offer light refreshments and beverages while you shop and browse. Arrowhead String Band will be playing at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Gallery, providing holiday entertainment as you enjoy Leif’s recent paintings. The Matt Austin Studio welcomes Hilary Robertson, author of many internationally acclaimed style books such as “The Stuff of Life.” Bring her one interior design question to solve during her visit at the studio, between 6:30 and 9 p.m.

chester-gallery-postcard-2016-1

The long-popular Postcard Show, where all art is 4×6 inches or smaller, will open at the Chester Gallery. Stop in for champagne while perusing the postcard-sized creations by local artists.

The Maple and Main Gallery will be serving wine and cookies during the evening while visitors view the new Holiday Exhibit of over 200 paintings and sculptures by 53 Connecticut artists as well as a solo show in the Stone Gallery of Janine Robertson’s oil paintings.

With all the shops open for the evening, this is an ideal time to shop for gifts for everyone on your list, from your pets at Strut Your Mutt to your aspiring chefs at The Perfect Pear. Sterling silver necklaces for all the women on your holiday list – and you, too! – will be featured at Dina Varano Gallery, while Jan Cummings and Peter Good introduce their 2017 Calendar at C&G while giving away their holiday wrapping paper and “Change Chance” notecards.

vnn-blackgold2017leiva

Mandy Carroll-Leiva will introduce Leiva Jewelry’s Holiday Collection at the Lori Warner Studio & Gallery.

This one evening of the year, Nourish Organic Skincare opens its office doors (at the old Chester Bank, 6 Main Street) so you can purchase gift sets of their products, enter a prize drawing and pick up a few samples.  And then, of course, there’s apparel, and accessories, and more jewelry, and stocking stuffers of all types, and so much more available throughout the shops and galleries of Chester. Come and celebrate the holiday with us!

And don’t forget about the Holiday Shopping Extravaganza at the Chester Meeting House from 5 to 9 p.m. How can it get any better than this!

Free parking is available in the Water Street and the Maple Street parking lots, both a short walk to the center. More information about all the Starry Night happenings can be found at  Facebook.com/visitchesterct.

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Essex Rotary Club Donates $5,000 to Meals on Wheels

From left to right, Essex Rotary President, Jordan Welles, presents a check to Estuary Council Executive Director, Paul Doyle.

Essex Rotary President, Jordan Welles (left), presents a check to Estuary Council Executive Director, Paul Doyle.

The Essex Rotary Club generously donated $5,000 to the Estuary Council of Seniors Meals on Wheels program at their Oct. 4 Rotary dinner meeting in Essex. The $5,000 donation will help to ensure that Meals on Wheels will continue without any interruption of service to those in need along the shoreline. The Estuary Council, like many providers in the country, has had cuts to their funding.

While other providers have created waiting lists for seniors requesting meals, the Estuary has remained committed to getting meals to anyone from their service area who calls. The Estuary Council of Seniors serves both Meals on Wheels and congregate meals in the nine-town Estuary Region. During the fiscal year October 2015 – September 2016, the Estuary will have served approximately 80,000 home delivered and congregate meals to area seniors in the nine towns that they serve, including Essex.

The Estuary Council expresses their sincerest thanks to the Essex Rotary for their support.

For more information about the many services provided by the Estuary Council of Seniors, please call 860-388-1611.

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Literacy Volunteers Announce Graduation of Fall Training Class of Tutuors

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore is pleased to announce the graduation of the Fall training class of tutors.  Tutors are trained through comprehensive nationally accredited workshop sessions held by Literacy Volunteers. On completion of workshop sessions, trainees receive certification as a tutor and are assigned a mentor for support and guidance.

Trained volunteer tutors are matched with students in English as a Second Language or Basic Reading. Tutors carry out our mission of providing one-on-one tutoring to anyone seeking to improve their English skills.

Through our services, students become acclimated to our culture and language resulting in becoming productive, happy, members of our community. There is no cost to the student.

The 2016 Fall class of tutors consisted of Joseph Hines of Branford, Sara Davis and Peg Reyer of Chester, Muriel Moore and Dr. Susan Seider of Clinton, Chip Lowery, Michele Millham and Ron Repetti of Guilford, Susan Hosack of Essex, Sheila Meyers of Ivoryton, Jeanette Kehoe Allen, Beth Baird, Paul Diwik, Dan Mulvey and Susan Graves of Madison, Kathy Lee of Old Saybrook and Brian Clampet of Westbrook.

Tutor training is underwritten by grants from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County and the Westbrook Foundation.

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‘Trees in the Rigging’ Held Sunday in Essex

Boats in the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade are decorated with holiday lights. Photo by Jody Dole.

Boats in the annual Trees in the Rigging Lighted Boat Parade are decorated with holiday lights. Photo by Jody Dole.

ESSEX –- Kick off the holiday season Sunday, Nov. 27 in Essex with the annual Trees in the Rigging Community Carol Sing and Lighted Boat Parade.   The Connecticut River Museum, the Essex Board of Trade, and the Essex Historical Society combine to present this annual event that includes a traditional, lantern-lit carol stroll down Main Street where spectators are invited to bring their own lanterns or flashlights and join in with the Sailing Masters of 1812 Fife and Drum Corps and a parade of antique cars. 

Participants can gather at the Essex Town Hall at 4 p.m. The stroll steps off at 4:30 p.m. beginning on West Ave. and ending at the Connecticut River Museum with a parade of vessels dressed out in holiday lights and passing in review along the Connecticut River.  Santa and his elves will arrive by one of the parade boats for visits with children on the lawn of the Connecticut River Museum.

The Connecticut River Museum will also be open that evening for all to attend the 23rd Annual Holiday Train Show at a reduced admission of $6.

Register Your Boat for the Lighted Boat Parade

A critical and crowd-pleasing part of this free community event is the parade of boats dressed in holiday lights that sail along Essex’s waterfront. The decorated boats are part of a friendly competition.  A modest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prize will be awarded to the best dressed boats. Winners will be invited to receive their prize and participate in a photo-op on Monday, Nov. 28, at 4:30 p.m. at the Connecticut River Museum.  

Registration is required to participate in the boat parade that usually begins around 5:15 p.m. from the south end of Essex Harbor. To register, send emails to: kperkins@ctrivermuseum.org. Information should include: vessel name; type of boat and description; owner(s) name; contact information (phone and preferred email); decorating scheme (if known at time of registration). registration must be received by Monday, Nov. 21 at 4:30 p.m.  

Make your Own Parade Lantern

Carolers can come to the Essex Historical Society for a free, family activity.  A tin lantern making workshop will be held at the Pratt House, 19 West Ave, Essex from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Contact the Essex Historical Society for workshop information at ehs@essexhistory.org or 860-767-0681.

To make your own lanterns at home: 

  • Step 1: fill an empty aluminum can with water and freeze. This will make it easier to punch holes for the design in the can.
  • Step 2: using a hammer and nail, punch holes in the can to make a connect-the-dots style picture of a holiday design. Use plenty of holes to allow the light to shine through.
  • Step 3: punch two holes near the rim to attach a wire handle.
  • Step 4: after the ice is melted, attach a votive or other small candle to the inside bottom of the can.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information, call 860.767.8269 or visit www.ctrivermuseum.org.

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Estuary Senior Center Holds Holiday Craft Fair Today

AREAWIDE — The Estuary Senior Center is holding its annual Holiday Craft Fair on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. All ages are welcome. Local artisans will be selling jewelry, Barbie and American Doll clothing, ornaments, fairies, baby quilts, scarves, photographs, art work, snowmen, candles, sculptured rope baskets and bags, and more.

New this year, a hot breakfast will be available for purchase from 8 to 11 a.m. and Santa will be making an appearance from 9 to 11 a.m. for photo op’s.

Don’t forget the Baked Goods Table — pies, cakes, breaks and cookies will be available just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. (Bakers – donations of baked goods to the fair are greatly appreciated.)

Come shop ’til you drop and support local artisans – shop local!

Call 860-388-1611 for details.

The Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. Regional Senior Center located at 220 Main Street, Old Saybrook,

lt serves Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

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Essex Land Trust Hosts Cross Lots Preserve Autumn Clean-up Today

Ready for action! Volunteers gather before they start work on the Autumn clean-up.

Ready for action! Volunteers gather before they start work on the Autumn clean-up.

ESSEX — Help put this Land Trust’s Cross Lots Preserve at 40 West Ave. to bed for the winter, get a mild workout, and connect with your neighbors in a beautiful setting. All this offered on Saturday, Nov. 19 starting at 9 a.m.

Refreshments will be served. Please bring rakes, blowers, etc. Families, dogs welcome.

Rain date is Saturday, Nov. 26 at 9 am.

Park on West Avenue or at Essex Town Hall.

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Next Meeting of TTYS Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is Jan. 18, All Welcome

AREAWIDE — The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will hold its next meeting of the school year at Tri-Town Youth Services at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017.

The Tri-Town Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a grassroots organization whose membership is open to all who live or work in the tri-town area who are concerned about substance abuse and committed to its prevention.  Many “sectors” of the community are represented on this council: schools, youth serving organizations, law enforcement government, civic groups, parents, students, the faith community and health care to name a few.

Future meeting dates are March 8, 2017; May 17, 2017.

For further information, call Tri-Town at 860-526-3600.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  The organization coordinates and provides resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org.

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The Country School Presents a Timeless Lesson — Starting With the Holocaust

Author Robert Gillette addresses Middle School students at The Country School.

Author Robert Gillette addresses Middle School students at The Country School.

AREAWIDE — The Country School regularly offers rich learning opportunities, inviting authors, community leaders, and alumni to speak to students. Most recently, TCS welcomed Robert H. Gillette, retired teacher and author of Escape to Virginia: From Nazi Germany to Thalhimer’s Farm, to share the story of two Jewish teenagers who fled from Nazi Germany.

Gillette spoke to his audience about a book’s meaning, what he calls White Fire. The Holocaust, he says, was written in black letters and screamed, “Beware!” White Fire, in contrast, invites readers to learn and not to be afraid. The White Fire in Escape to Virginia teaches readers not to be a perpetrator, a passive victim, or a bystander.

These lessons echo those The Country School teaches as part of its signature Elmore Leadership and Affective Education programs. In a unit called “Bullies, Victims, and Bystanders,” Middle School students learn about the power of words. Mr. Gillette’s message, the White Fire of his historical account of two young students, offers the same.

Seventh-grader Phineas Scott reflected on Mr. Gillette’s presentation, “It could not have gone better. He kept us all on the edge of our seats with his descriptions of what life was like for those refugees. We met the children of Eva who helped Mr. Gillette with the research for his book. Mr. Gillette told us we can learn a lot from history. We can learn about courage and hope from stories like Eva’s and we can learn to always stand up for what is right. He told us that The Country School’s motto, Education that Lasts a Lifetime, is the motto that Eva believed in.”

Founded in 1955, The Country School serves 200 students in PreSchool-Grade 8 on its 23-acre campus in Madison. The Country School is committed to active, hands-on learning and a vigorous curriculum that engages the whole child. Signature programs such as Elmore Leadership, Public Speaking, STEAM, and Outdoor Education help prepare students for success in high school and beyond.

See The Country School community in action during their Fall Open House on Sunday, Nov. 6, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Learn more at www.thecountryschool.org.

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Deadline Extended: Become a UConn Extension Master Gardener

AREAWIDE — UConn Extension is accepting applications for the 2017 Master Gardener Program. Master Gardener interns receive horticultural training from UConn, and then share knowledge with the public through community volunteering and outreach efforts. Enrollment in the UConn Extension Master Gardener program is limited and competitive.

“Gardening and the study of it is something we can do our whole lives,” says Karen Linder, a 2015 graduate of the UConn Extension Master Gardener Program at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford. “There is always something new to learn – we can get deeper into a subject. Our instructors truly brought subjects to life that I thought could not be made exciting. Who knew soil had so much going on? It has truly changed the way I think and observe the world around me. That is pretty amazing!”

The program is broad-based, intensive, and consists of 16 class sessions (one full day per week) beginning Jan. 9, 2017. The Master Gardener program includes over 100 hours of classroom training and 60 hours of volunteer service. Individuals successfully completing the program will receive UConn Extension Master Gardener certification. The program fee is $425.00, and includes the training manual. Partial scholarships may be available, based on demonstrated financial need.

“Working at the Courthouse Garden signature project in Hartford gave me the opportunity to use my gardening skills to help feed and educate others,” says John Vecchitto, a 2015 graduate from Hartford County. “We’re teaching others, many of whom have never gardened, to enjoy the gardening experience. People expressed their satisfaction when they heard the produce we grew would go to a shelter to help hungry people. We fed those who needed good food, and we fed the spirits of our participants with a taste of kindness. It was empowering.”

Classes will be held in Haddam, West Hartford, Bethel, Brooklyn, and Stamford. The postmark deadline for applications has been extended to Friday, Nov. 18, 2016.

For more information or an application, call UConn Extension at 860-486-9228 or visit the UConn Extension Master Gardener website at: mastergardener.uconn.edu.

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Helpers Needed for Literacy Volunteers Fundraising Events

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) are looking for friendly, outgoing people to serve on their fundraising committee. If you are a creative thinker and can commit to helping organize two events, LVVS would welcome your assistance.

Literacy Volunteers serves 11 valley shore towns through one-on-one tutoring programs of English as a Second Language (ESL) and Basic Reading (BR).  Fundraisers benefit these much needed programs.

For more information or to volunteer, contact LVVS at www.vsliteracy.org  or 860-399-0280.

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Walmart Foundation Grant Funds Purchase of New Industrial-Size Dishwasher at ‘The Estuary’

dishwasherOLD SAYBROOK — Through a generous grant from the Walmart Foundation of $25,000, the Estuary Council of Seniors in Old Saybrook has been able to replace its aging dishwasher with a state of the art replacement.  The 15-year old machine had been doing its best, but it was becoming an increasing challenge to find replacement parts for the aging machine and also simply to repair it.

The Estuary applied for a grant through the Walmart Foundation State Giving Program and was awarded the money to cover purchase of the new machine and its installation, including the necessary updates to plumbing and electrical, and reworking the stainless table surround to accommodate the new machine.  (See photo at left.)

The new machine is a much higher efficiency model and uses about one third of the water compared to the old machine and is Energy Star-rated for increased utility efficiency.  It also has a higher per load speed and capacity so more dishes can be done in less time.  In addition, it is a high temperature sanitizing machine, which eliminates the need for costly chemicals also.

The Estuary is the regional senior center serving the towns of Clinton, Chester, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook.  The Estuary served over 55,000 meals in its Meals on Wheels Program last year and served over an additional 20,000 meals at its three congregate meal sites in the nine-town region.  The center also hosts a full range of services, instructional classes, exercise and fitness programs, and opportunities for socialization to local seniors.

The Estuary Council of Seniors extend special thanks to the Walmart Foundation for making possible the purchase and installation of this new piece of equipment — and all the resultant clean dishes for years to come!  The Estuary believes that Walmart is a great community partner in the mission to help those locally in need. 

To find out more about the Estuary Council of Seniors, visit the center at 220 Main Street, Old Saybrook, or www.ecsenior.org or call (860) 388-1611.

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Volunteers Opportunities Abound at Estuary

AREAWIDE — Volunteers are needed at the Estuary Council Senior Center, 220 Main St, Old Saybrook. The senior center has a variety of opportunities for volunteers. Join the Thrift Shop team, pack or deliver Meals on Wheels, drive someone to a medical appointment, or greet guests at the Welcome Desk.

The Estuary’s Volunteer Coordinator will meet with you to discuss your interests and availability and find the best fit for you. Even a few hours a week can make a big difference. The Center’s many vital services and programs would not be possible without the volunteers who donate their time and talent to it.

For more information, call Judy at 860-388-1611 x203.

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Letter to the Editor: Literacy Volunteers Say Thanks to Supporters, Sponsors of Recent Fundraiser

To The Editor:

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore’s Wine and Brew Tasting and Auction benefitting the organization’s tutoring program was a rousing success again this year. The event, held on September 29th at the Saybrook Point Pavilion netted funds that will help L.V.V.S. continue the mission of eradicating illiteracy in the valley shore area well into 2017.

Again this year people and organizations came together in a worthy cause. Special thanks to The Clark Group and Whelen Engineering our title sponsors. We are also indebted to Seaside Wine & Spirits of Old Saybrook who provided the evening’s libations. Event sponsors Tower Laboratories, Murphy and Company CPAs, Bogaert Construction, Guilford Savings Bank, Lyman Real Estate, Bob & Madge Fish and Edward Jones Investments of Clinton also deserve recognition for their support and for their continued belief in us.

I cannot thank Elizabeth Steffen enough. She worked so hard to produce the food for the evening, contributed raffle and auction items and still somehow found time to sell tickets and help set up the venue. Similarly, the efforts of board member Paula Chabot, our event organizer, board members Arcangela Claffey, Barb Erni, Bill Guerra and Linda Liptrot, Board Chairman Jack Smith and Madge Fish insured a wonderful and successful fundraiser.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the hard work and extra dedication of Administrative Assistant Joanne Argersinger, volunteer Paula Ferrara and the cooperation of the Old Saybrook Park and Recreation Department.  Thank you all so very much!

Finally, thank you to everyone who shared the evening with us and whose support and generosity will warm our students throughout the remainder of this fall and into the New Year.   

Sincerely,

John J. Ferrara
Executive Director Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc.

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Children’s Programs Offered, Including ‘Baby Bounce,’ at Deep River Public Library Throughout December

Deep River Library
Join Deep River Library for Baby Bounce, a lap sit program for babies and their caregivers, followed by open play and social time. Older siblings may attend. No registration is required. Dates for this program will be on the following Thursday mornings: 12/1; 12/8; 12/15; 12/22 and 12/29. Starts at 10:30 am

Don’t forget Fun Fridays! This is a Preschool Power Hour with stories and songs in an interactive setting, followed by open play. Starts at 10:30 a.m. and held on the following days: 12/2; 12/9; 12/30.

The Deep River Drive-in returns on 12/16! Pop in for a special showing of Daniel Tiger’s Winter Wonderland in special reserved seating. Popcorn in on us! Show time starts at 10:30 am. Free and open to all.

ABC Amigos visits on Friday, December 23 at 10:30 am. Join us for an interactive Spanish experience, perfect for the preschool set.

Additional Children’s Programs:

Mrs. Claus visits the Deep River Public Library on Saturday, December 3 at 1:30 pm. Join us for stories and carols and learn about life at the North Pole! There is no registration for this event. Best for children under 9.

December 1 & December 22: Brick Bunch meets from 3:45 – 4:45 pm for open Lego construction. This is a drop-in program now with large blocks for the younger children.

Now accepting registrations for the Deep River Public Library Toddler Test Kitchen. Try out a simple recipe and sample the results. This program is limited to the first eight participants, from age 2-4. Register by calling 860-526-6039 or email drplchildrensdept@gmail.com.

Cooking Club starts at 6:00 pm. Whip up a tasty treat with friends. Registration is required for this program and limited to 10 children, ages 5-12. Call 860-526-6039 or email drplchildrensdept@gmail.com to sign up.

For more information on any of these programs, please call 860-526-6039 or email at drplchildrensdept@gmail.com

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CBSRZ Announces High Holy Day Service Schedule, Begins Sunday

CHESTER — Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (Chester) has announced its schedule of High Holy Day services.  Contact the synagogue office for tickets or more information.  860-526-8920

Sunday, Oct. 2

7:30 pm Erev Rosh Hashanah service

Monday, Oct. 3

9:30 am Rosh Hashanah Morning service, followed by Taschlich at the Chester Ferry

2:00 pm Rosh Hashanah Family Program

3:00 pm Children’s service

Tuesday, Oct. 4

9:30 am  Rosh Hashanah (Day 2) service

Sunday, Oct. 9

1:00 pm  Cemetery service at Fountain Hill

2:30 pm  Cemetery service at Rodfe Zedek

Tuesday, Oct. 11

7:30 pm  Kol Nidre

Saturday, Oct. 12

9:30 am  Yom Kippur Morning service

2:30 pm  Children’s service

4:00 pm  Yom Kippur Afternoon service and Neilah, followed by Break the Fast

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Essex Garden Club Announces Officers for 2016-2017

FNewly-elected officers of the Essex Garden Club are (from left to right) Pat Mather, Betsy Godsman, Augie Pampel, Barbara Burgess, Barbara Muhlfelder and Judy Greene

Newly-elected officers of the Essex Garden Club are (from left to right) Pat Mather, Betsy Godsman, Augie Pampel, Barbara Burgess, Barbara Muhlfelder and Judy Greene

ESSEX — Officers for the Essex Garden Club for 2016-2017 are Barbara Burgess, President, Augie Pampel, 1st Vice President, Barbara Muhlfelder, 2nd Vice President and Assistant Treasurer,  Betsy Godsman, Recording Secretary, Judy Greene, Corresponding Secretary, and  Patricia Mather, Treasurer.

In Barbara Burgess’s opening remarks,  at the September meeting,  she described the club’s agenda and activities for the upcoming year ahead and introduced the theme for the year “ Partnering for Success”  She shared how The Essex Garden Club has partnered with the Land Trust in sponsoring a conservation program, this year on the topic of Native Pollinators.

In addition the Essex Garden club provides resources to the libraries and schools to partner in educating both adults and children in our community. For many years the Club has  partnered with the Town of Essex to keep our parks and community looking beautiful. These strong partnerships continue to result in both benefiting our organizations and the community.

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Letter to the Editor: Congratulations to Ann Lander on ‘Beacon Award’ for Literacy Volunteers’ Service

To The Editor:

Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore is proud to congratulate Ann Lander for winning a Shore Publishing 2016 Beacon Award. Ann is being recognized for her dedication to Literacy Volunteers as a Workshop Leader, Conversation Social facilitator, Tutor, Student Services Coordinator and volunteer at the organization’s fundraisers. Her selflessness and commitment to helping tutors and students improve lives in our shoreline communities for over twenty seven years makes her more than deserving of this recognition. We are so proud to be associated with someone who has made a life, after improving the lives of area children in her teaching career, improving the lives of children AND adults in her “volunteer” career with Literacy Volunteers.

The Beacon Awards recognize a few outstanding individuals who selflessly step up to help fulfill the Shoreline community’s promise as a place of opportunity, wellbeing, and safety for all. Ms. Lander was officially recognized at the annual Beacon Awards Dinner to be held at Water’s Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook on September 28th. I am honored to speak for the board, staff, tutors and students of Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore in thanking Ann for her service, congratulating her on this award and in extending our best wishes to her in her future endeavors (although we hope she never leaves!)

Sincerely,

John J. Ferrara,
Westbrook.

Editor’s note: The author is the Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore.

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‘Looking Back’ at Valley Shore Community TV

Photo, courtesy of Chris Morgan, Access Coordinator for the station.

Photo, courtesy of Chris Morgan, Access Coordinator for the station.

The sixth in a series of programs called Looking Back was recently taped at Valley Shore Community Television. Standing  are the technical crew.
From left are:  Betty Budney, Bill Cook, Al Moncovich, Cori O’connell, and Bill Bevan.  Seated are Judge Walter Budney, guest and Mary Ann Pleva, host.
The Programs air regularly on Channel 19.  Schedules can be found on the Valley Shore Community Television website.
The station is a local non profit organization  serving the towns of Durham, Haddam, Killingworth, Chester, Deep River, Essex, Old Saybrook, Clinton, and Westbrook.
Production workshops are offered regularly. For more information, call the station at 860-399-1857.
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Essex Library Presents Classic American Short Stories Seminar; Next Class, Nov. 17

Professor Chuck Timlin

Professor Chuck Timlin

University of New Haven faculty member Professor Chuck Timlin has brought his excellent teaching skills to the Essex Library community on topics such as Chaucer, Beowulf, Wordsworth & Frost, and the poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. Now, back again by popular demand, he turns his talents to an examination of classic American short stories.

In this series of six seminars, attendees will read and discuss a selection of great American short stories, a literary form that many great writers in America have practiced. In their stories these writers explore the evolution of America and what it means to be American.

The group will read stories by Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, Ralph Waldo Ellison, Raymond Carver, and others.

All stories can be found online so there is no textbook for this seminar. The series will run at the Essex Library for six Thursdays beginning Oct. 20, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. There will be no meeting on Thanksgiving.

This program is free and open to all. For more information or to register, call the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560.

The Essex Library is located at 33 West Ave. in Essex.

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Tri-Town Youth Services Offers First Aid, CPR Courses

Tri-Town Youth Services (TTYS) will offer the American Heart Association’s Pediatric First Aid and CPR course along with a babysitter training certificate program.  This course is for youth ages 12-17.  The $75 fee includes instruction, books, and certificate.

The fall session will be held on Wednesday evenings, Sept. 14, 21, 28 and October 5, 6-8 p.m. at TTYS, 56 High Street in Deep River.  A winter session will be held also on Wednesday evenings, January 18, 25, and February 1 and 8, also at Tri-Town from 6-8 p.m.  Classes fill quickly, so register soon – online (www.tritownys.org) or by calling 860-526-3600.

Tri-Town Youth Services supports and advances the families, youth and communities of Chester, Deep River and Essex.  It also coordinates and provides resources needed to make positive choices, reduce substance abuse, and strengthen the relationships that matter most.  Discover programs and information for families, as well as opportunities for community collaboration at www.tritownys.org.

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We Still Remember Them …

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Twenty nine hundred and seventy seven flags funded by an anonymous donor stand in front of Old Saybrook Town Hall in memory of the 2,977 lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, 15 years ago, at the World Trade Center in New York City. We remember and honor those lost lives …

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Literacy Volunteer Ann Lander Wins Shore Publishing Beacon Award

AREAWIDE — Ann Lander has been named a winner of a Shore Publishing 2016 Beacon Award for her work with Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS).

Lander is being recognized for her dedication to LVVS as a Workshop Leader, Conversation Social facilitator, Tutor, Student Services Coordinator and volunteer at the organization’s fundraisers. Her selflessness and commitment to helping tutors and students improve lives in the shoreline communities for over 20 years makes her more than deserving of this recognition.

The Beacon Awards recognize a few outstanding individuals who selflessly step up to help fulfill the Shoreline community’s promise as a place of opportunity, well-being, and safety for all.

Lander will be officially recognized at the annual Beacon Awards Dinner to be held at Water’s Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook on Sept. 28 at 6 p.m.

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Holiday Crafters Wanted for Estuary’s Holiday Fair

AREAWIDE — The Estuary Senior Center is looking for crafters for its annual Holiday Craft Fair on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Senior Center located at 220 Main St, Old Saybrook.

Space is available to local crafters, with hand crafted items for a $20 donation. Space is limited and filling quickly.

Call Mike or Judy at 860.388.1611 x203 to reserve your space.

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Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 Announces Five New Eagle Scouts

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 presents five new Eagle Scouts: from left to right are Andrew Myslik, Jacob Beauliu, Adam Dalterio, Benjamin Toles and  Alexander Maxwell VI.  Photo by Alexander Toles.

Gathered for a photo are Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13’s five newest Eagle Scouts. From left to right are Andrew Myslik, Jacob Beauliu, Adam Dalterio, Benjamin Toles and Alexander Maxwell VI. Photo by Alexander Toles.

CHESTER/DEEP RIVER — Troop 13 – Boy Scouts of America would like to congratulate five Chester residents on earning the rank of Eagle Scout. These five young men have been in scouting together since elementary school as Cub Scouts in Pack 13.

The Eagle Scouts completed projects at Camp Hazen YMCA, recreation and historic locations in the town of Chester.  All the work completed benefits the visitors, school groups and residents of Chester as they enjoy these areas around town.

To become an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must earned 21 merit badges and advance through the seven scout ranks by learning Scout and Life skills while simultaneously providing leadership to his Troop and service to his community.

One of the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the Scout’s community, school, or religious institution; all of this work must be completed prior to the young man’s eighteenth birthday.

Benjamin James Toles’ Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a plan to demo eleven sets of non-complaint aged wooden stairways and replace with new treated wood, code compliant steps, platform and railings on cabins in and around the Sachem Village portion on the grounds of Camp Hazen YMCA. The completed project improved the safety of the venue while maintaining its rustic appearance. Ben was awarded the rank at this Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony on March 20, 2016.  Ben will attend University of Rhode Island this fall.

Andrew James Myslik’s Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a plan to improve the deteriorating border of the Chester Burial Grounds fronting on North Main Street. Specifically, the project involved the removal of an old wire fence, stumps and debris and replaced it with one hundred and eighty feet of painted picket fence and posts and included the installation of a recycled historic iron gate. The completed project presents the site in a more historically correct, respectful appearance.

Andrew was awarded the rank at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony on June 5.  Andrew will attend George Washington University in Washington, DC this fall.

Adam Gerard Dalterio’s Eagle Scout Service Project was to replace three aging benches with two new hand built oversized Adirondack benches and a hand build eight-foot tall giant chair embossed with Camp Hazen signage complete with newly restored landscaping features on the grounds of Camp Hazen YMCA.

Adam was awarded the rank at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony on Aug. 14.  Adam will attend Vermont Technical College this fall.

Jacob Louis Beaulieu’s Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a plan which included the construction of a new tether ball court, the installation of two reinforced poured concrete access ramps serving site sheds, the stripping and resurfacing of stationary pedestal cooking grills and edging and grading of various sections of the site that make up the Robert H. Pelletier Park on the shores of Cedar Lake.

Jacob was awarded the rank at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony on Aug. 14.  Jacob will attend Middlesex Community College this fall.

Alexander Maxwell, VI‘s Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a restoration plan to remove all the decking, railing, seating and a gateway to be replaced with new treated lumber complimented with decorative end post caps on the Chester Creek Scenic Overlook near its confluence with the Connecticut River. The completed project improved the safety and usability of the overlook while maintaining its rustic appearance.

Alex was awarded the rank at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony on August 14.  Alex will attend University of Rhode Island this fall.

We at ValleyNewsNow.com send hearty congratulations to these five, fine young men on this great achievement!

Troop 13 Boy Scouts serves the boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young men develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these young men to develop into strong healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead.

The Boy Scout methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun.

To learn more information about joining Troop 13, contact Scoutmaster, Steven Merola at 860-526-9262

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Essex Park & Rec. Announces Exciting Range of Fall Programs

ESSEX — Essex Park and Recreation (P & R) Department has announced that registration is now open for all Fall 2016 programming.

A small sample of the extensive and varied range of programs includes track, tennis, archery, cooking, floor hockey, Kids on the Move, Pre-Season Basketball and Outdoor Nature Exploration

Registration for the Winter Youth Basketball Program is also open at this time.

Essex P & R is also offering a bus trip to see the Patriots play the Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Finally, don’t forget to Save the Date for the Ivoryton Village Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 22!

Click on this link to view the color guide to Essex P & R Fall Programs aptly sub-titled, “The Benefits are Endless”.

For further information or to register for programs, call 860.767.4340 x 110 or email recreation@ essexct.gov. The P & R office is located inside the Essex Town Hall at 29 West Ave., Essex.

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