May 24, 2016

Courtney, Linares Pay Tribute to Dick Smith, Services Announced

Dick Smith: A man for all seasons, for all reasons ... and for every job in town.

Dick Smith: A man for all seasons, for all reasons … and for every job in town.

DEEP RIVER — Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) issued the following statement after the passing of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith:

“Dick was the iconic small town First Selectman who did everything from running town meetings, to plowing snow, to cleaning up storm damage with public works, as well as crowd control at the Deep River Muster, and attending every community event in town. Deep River is one of Connecticut’s jewels because it had a leader like Dick, who was always there to help those in need and help the town grow smartly. Dick was a friend whose support I will always remember and treasure, and he should live on as an example of a citizen-public servant to all who hold elected office.”

State Senator Art Linares (D-33rd), who represents Deep River, issued the following statement on the passing of First Selectman Dick Smith:

“Dick Smith epitomized Deep River. He was a friend to all and his advice was valued by Democrats and Republicans throughout the Connecticut River Valley. Dick was a role model public official who dedicated himself to serving his town and its residents. His loss is deeply saddening and our thoughts and prayers are with Dick’s family and the people of Deep River.”

Services for Dick Smith have now been announced as follows:

There will be a Candlelight Vigil on Monday, March 28, at Deep River Town Hall at dark (about 7:30 p.m.)

Calling hours will also be at the Town Hall on Tuesday, March 29, from5 to 8 p.m.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 30, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Chester at 11 a.m.

Deep River Town Hall Closings

Deep River Town Hall will close at noon on Tuesday and remain closed on Wednesday.  Normal business hours will resume on Thursday.

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Town of Deep River Announces Death of First Selectman Dick Smith

A file photo of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

A file photo of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

DEEP RIVER — The Town of Deep River has announced the passing yesterday afternoon (Friday, March 25) of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith. An announcement on the town’s website states, “The Town of Deep River has suffered a terrible loss in the passing of Dick Smith. The town has lost a leader of over 26 years, the community has lost a friend, and we are saddened beyond words, but its immediate thoughts are with Dick’s family, who has lost a father and a grandfather.” The statement adds, “Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

Details of services have not yet been announced.

Our reporter Charles Stannard wrote in an article published July 28, 2015, on ValleyNewsNow.com that Smith, then 64, was, “one of the longest serving municipal elected officials in Connecticut.”  The article also noted that Smith said he, “never considered stepping aside this year,” adding, “I love what I do, it’s like my extended family.” Smith told Stannard during the interview that his priorities for the next two years were, “Keeping taxes down as much as we can,” along with a firehouse renovation and expansion project.

Stannard also reported, “Smith’s last challenge for the top job came in 2007 from the now defunct Deep River Independent Party. He was uncontested for re-election in 2009, 2011, and 2013. Town Republicans have not nominated a candidate for first selectman since 2005.”

We extend our sincere condolences to Mr. Smith’s family.

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What’s the Latest on That Proposed High Speed Train Track Through Southeast CT?

Many readers have contacted us to inquire what has happened — as well as a sea of other questions — to the Federal Rail Administration’s (FRA) proposal to route a high speed rail track through the center of Old Lyme bifurcating Lyme Street just to the south of the I-95 bridge. The ‘comment period’ closed Feb. 15 and so we feel the questions raised by our readers — many of whom submitted comments — are entirely justified.

We turned to Gregory Stroud to seek some answers.

Stroud, an Old Lyme resident, has taken a deep and enduring interest in the FRA’s proposal and has, in the process, become extremely knowledgeable on the complexities of the project. For regular readers, you will recall that Stroud wrote the original editorial on LymeLine.com that sparked an avalanche of interest in and concern about the FRA’s proposal. He graciously agreed to respond to our questions and we are planning to publish his responses — question by question — in a series starting today.

Stroud has also created a Facebook page titled SECoast at Old Lyme where readers can glean a plethora of information about the project and be kept current on developments.

And if you ready to be shocked, take a look at the rendering below to get a sense of how the railroad will intrude into our quiet, relatively reclusive life in Old Lyme … and we stress, this image is to scale.

Rendering by Robin Breeding of the high-speed train in Old Lyme drawn/created to scale.

Rendering by Robin Breeding of the high-speed train in Old Lyme drawn/created to scale.

Here’s our first question:

Question (LymeLine.com ): What has happened since the “Comment” period was closed?

Answer (Gregory Stroud): Great question. But first, let me offer a little background. The Federal Railroad Administration actually outsources the planning process to a contractor, a huge multinational based out of Montreal, called Parsons Brinckerhoff. They specialize in this sort of project. They worked on The Big Dig up in Boston. They are same people who planned the Baldwin Bridge, and who electrified the rail lines to our east a few years ago. Parsons Brinckerhoff knows Old Lyme. They’ve faced local community activists before. And they’ve won.

So … with two weeks to go before the comment deadline, Parsons Brinckerhoff was reading a lazy stream of public comment, averaging just a comment every other day for a few years, and suddenly all heck breaks loose. Comments start pouring in from Old Lyme—1,200 comments out of 3,000 received from every town and city from Washington to Boston. Those numbers pretty much guarantee that more people cared enough to comment in Old Lyme, than in Manhattan, or Boston, or even Baltimore, which has its own contentious tunnel project. Add in the outreach to Hartford and Washington, and suddenly Old Lyme is on the map.

The good news is that the contractor has actually reached out to Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, to Daniel Mackay at Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, and others. Parsons Brinckerhoff is making cordial, if maybe grudging, efforts to respond to the local outcry. You have to understand, as a contractor, they are in a tough place. They need to get this done by the end of the summer. They want to make their bosses at the Federal Railroad Administration happy. They have to make the people funding this in the Senate and Congress happy. It has to be something that Hartford can swallow.

In this grand balancing act, Old Lyme is a bit of a nuisance. I don’t get the sense that Stamford or New Haven or Hartford are somehow secretly plotting to send high-speed rail through Old Lyme. It’s not malicious. From what I understand, nearly everyone in-state would actually prefer Alternative 2, connecting Hartford to Boston. Parsons Brinckerhoff just wants to get this done. Right now they are busy with their statutory obligation of weighing every one of those 1200 comments.

That said, no one really wants a small town at the mouth of the Connecticut river to upset the tea cart. If at the end of the day, Washington and Hartford decide that a train has to run through Old Lyme, then they plan to run a train through Old Lyme. I think it’s fair to say that pretty much everyone wants us to pipe down and behave.

So, of course, they start telling us what they think we want to hear. Most importantly, for the first time the idea of tunnel is floated, privately, details to be determined at some uncertain date, perhaps 2 billion dollars added the price tag—quite an accomplishment for a few weeks work! But don’t believe it for a second.

At Tier 1, the current planning stage, these vague promises mean almost nothing. Sure, they can relabel the purple line running through Old Lyme, and call it a tunnel. But it’s the purple line that really matters. In two years they can just decide that a tunnel is too expensive or impractical, and it’s a bridge all over again. To be clear, no one has actually carried out engineering or environmental studies on a tunnel. In this planning process, the decisions are coming before the studies. The cart before the horse.

So, where are we now in the process? Everyone should understand that the Federal Railroad Administration is replacing their master plan for the Northeast. The current plan dates back to 1978. The next plan will reshape rail in the Northeast for the next 25 years.

A decision will be made, probably in August. The choice will be announced around September 1. And if the Federal Railroad Administration chooses Alternative 1, and Alternative 1 still has a purple line running through Old Lyme, then we are in for the fight of a lifetime. We have a once-a-generation chance to shape federal plans for Old Lyme, and we need to get this right.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Gregory Stroud.

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Land Trusts’ Photo Contest Winners Announced

Hank Golet Mitchell Award a

Winner of the top prize, the John G. Mitchell Environmental Conservation Award – Hank Golet

The 10th Annual Land Trusts’ Photo Contest winners were announced at a March 11 reception highlighting the winning photos and displaying all entered photos. Land trusts in Lyme, Old Lyme, Salem, Essex and East Haddam jointly sponsor the annual amateur photo contest to celebrate the scenic countryside and diverse wildlife and plants in these towns. The ages of the photographers ranged from children to senior citizens.

Hank Golet won the top prize, the John G. Mitchell Environmental Conservation Award, with his beautiful photograph of a juvenile yellow crowned night heron in the Black Hall River in Old Lyme. Alison Mitchell personally presented the award, created in memory of her late husband John G. Mitchell, an editor at National Geographic, who championed the cause of the environment.

William Burt, a naturalist and acclaimed wildlife photographer, who has been a contest judge for ten years, received a special mention. Judges Burt; Amy Kurtz Lansing, an accomplished art historian and curator at the Florence Griswold Museum; and Skip Broom, a respected, award-winning local photographer and antique house restoration housewright, chose the winning photographs from 219 entries.

The sponsoring land trusts – Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Essex Land Trust, the Old Lyme Land Trust, Salem Land Trust, and East Haddam Land Trust – thank the judges as well as generous supporters RiverQuest/ CT River Expeditions, Lorensen Auto Group, the Oakley Wing Group at Morgan Stanley, Evan Griswold at Coldwell Banker, Ballek’s Garden Center, Essex Savings Bank, Chelsea Groton Bank, and Alison Mitchell in honor of her late husband John G. Mitchell. Big Y and Fromage Fine Foods & Coffee provided support for the reception.

The winning photographers are:

John G. Mitchell Environmental Award, Hank Golet, Old Lyme

Youth
1st: Patrick Burns, East Haddam
2nd: Judah Waldo, Old Lyme
3rd: James Beckman, Ivoryton
Honorable Mention Gabriel Waldo, Old Lyme
Honorable Mention Sarah Gada, East Haddam
Honorable Mention Shawn Parent, East Haddam

Cultural/Historic
1st: Marcus Maronne, Mystic
2nd: Normand L. Charlette, Manchester
3rd:  Tammy Marseli, Rocky Hill
Honorable Mention  Jud Perkins, Salem
Honorable Mention Pat Duncan, Norwalk
Honorable Mention John Kolb, Essex

Landscapes/Waterscapes
1st: Cheryl Philopena, Salem
2nd: Marian Morrissette, New London
3rd:  Harcourt Davis, Old Lyme
Honorable Mention Cynthia Kovak, Old Lyme
Honorable Mention Bopha Smith, Salem
Honorable Mention  Pat Duncan, Norwalk

Plants
1st: Mary Waldron, Old Lyme
2nd: Courtney Briggs, Old Saybrook
3rd: Linda Waters, Salem
Honorable Mention Pete Govert, East Haddam
Honorable Mention Marcus Maronne, Mystic
Honorable Mention Marian Morrissette, New London

Wildlife
1st: Chris Pimley, Essex
2nd: Harcourt Davis, Old Lyme
3rd: Linda Waters, Salem
Honorable Mention Thomas Nemeth, Salem
Honorable Mention Jeri Duefrene, Niantic
Honorable Mention Elizabeth Gentile, Old Lyme

First place winner of Wildlife category - Chris Pimley

First place winner of Wildlife category – Chris Pimley

The winning photos will be on display at the Lymes’ Senior Center for the month of March and Lyme Public Library in April. For more information go to lymelandtrust.org.

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Senators Fight to Preserve Crucial Hospital Services

AREAWIDE – Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares met with area hospital officials at the Legislative Office Building on March 23 to discuss ways to protect vital health care services for vulnerable populations like the disabled, children and seniors.

To protect those most in need, Formica and Linares, along with Senate and House Republicans, are proposing a plan to restore the governor’s funding cuts to Connecticut hospitals. The 2016 session of the Connecticut General Assembly ends in May.

Sen. Formica (www.senatorformica.com) represents Bozrah, East Lyme, a portion of Montville, New London, Old Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

Sen. Linares (www.senatorlinares.com) represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

(L-R): Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Vice President of External Affairs Vin Petrini, Yale-New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom, Sen. Paul Formica, Yale-New Haven Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Gayle Capozzalo, and Sen. Art Linares.

(L-R): Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Vice President of External Affairs Vin Petrini, Yale-New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom, Sen. Paul Formica, Yale-New Haven Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Gayle Capozzalo, and Sen. Art Linares.

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Salt Marsh Opera Hosts Master Class Led by Soprano Patricia Schuman

Patricia Schuman

Patricia Schuman

AREAWIDE – The internationally acclaimed soprano Patricia Schuman will lead a Master Class on Friday, April 1, at 7 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. The class is sponsored by the Guild of Salt Marsh Opera.

Ms. Schuman has been engaged with the most distinguished opera houses throughout Europe and the United States, including the Metropolitan Opera with James Levine, La Scala with Riccardo Muti, Vienna State Opera and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

The church is located at 2 Ferry Rd., Old Lyme. Suggested donation is $20. A reception will follow the Master Class.

 

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Essex Library’s Career Series for High Schoolers Continues Through May

Essex Public Library where the Career Series is being held.

Essex Public Library where the Career Series is being held.

ESSEX — As the middle of the winter season drags on and springtime can be just vaguely made out in the distance, many are looking forward to the exciting prospects that the new season will bring. For some, it is merely the release from Connecticut’s raw winter weather and the enticement of warm weather activities; while for a body of young people, the anxious wait for college application decisions has begun.

Selecting a college major, along with a career path, may appear to be a perplexing ordeal to those who have not yet found their niche. As a member of the restless class of teenagers who are anticipating the decision that will become the foundation for their future careers, I empathize with others who are in the same boat as I am and have not yet chosen a designated career path.

logoThankfully, the Essex Library has teamed up with Education Solutions of Essex to lend a helping hand to students who freeze up when that all-too-familiar, “What do you want to major in?” question strikes.

The Essex Library is a professionally-run, free public library that encourages all visitors to explore all that is offered. The youth and teen program, headed by Jessica Branciforte, is especially vibrant.

Branciforte is the smiling face behind the wonderful programs that are offered at the library for adolescents ranging from toddlers to teens. Education Solutions is a consulting firm that helps students and families identify and navigate through the process of selecting a school or career pathway.

Exterior_brick&sign_213KBA career series entitled “Demystifying the Future” has been created for students aged 12 and older who are searching for the career path that will suit them best. During each session, the Essex Library hosts a professional from a wide variety of areas ranging from communications to engineering, robotics, business and beyond. These informational sessions give students the opportunity to learn about classes required, industry trends, job prospects, degree information, salary ranges, and additional principal information regarding the career path.

Branciforte is co-heading the project along with Teal Reamer at Education Solutions, and discusses the motive behind creating the program. Branciforte comments, “Students are entering into a world where the options are overwhelming, and the pressure is on. Seeing a career description on paper is quite different from immersing oneself in the field, so it is both thrilling and reassuring to bring in experts who are willing to share their passion.”

The series runs through May 2016. The third session in this series is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1, from 6 to 7 p.m. and will feature keynote speaker Jeff Reamer who will share his experience with business and finance. The program is an opportune time to interact with people who have had first-hand experience in career areas that gives invaluable insight into a career field that may be of interest.  

To register for the session or for more information, contact the Essex Library at (860) 767-1560.

Editor’s Note: Essex Library Association is located at 33 West Avenue, Essex, CT 06426. Opening hours are Monday and Wednesday, 10am – 6pm; Tuesday and Thursday, 10am -7pm; Friday, 10am – 5pm; and Saturday, 10am – 4pm. The library is closed on Sundays. For more information, visit  http://www.youressexlibrary.org or call (860) 767-1560

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Essex Zoning Commission Resumes Public Hearings Monday on Apartment Complex and Centerbrook Cumberland Farms Rebuild

ESSEX — The zoning commission will resume public hearings Monday on two large-scale development proposals, a proposed 52-unit apartment complex on Plains Rd., and a rebuild and expansion of the Cumberland Farms store at 82 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. The hearings reconvene at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.

Public hearings on both proposals opened on Feb. 22. Signature Contracting Group LLC of Westport is seeking site plan approval for 52 apartment units in three buildings on a 3.7-acre parcel that would combine properties at 21, 27, and 29 Plains Road. The parcel at 21 Plains Rd. was the site of the former Iron Chef restaurant, and was previously the location of a bowling alley and the Essex Junction restaurant and movie theatre. Now owned by Treuhold Essex LLC of Scarsdale, N.Y. it has been vacant for about nine years. The properties at 27 and 29 Plains Rd. are residential properties owned by the local Costa family.

The plans for the Essex Station Luxury Apartments call for 52 units in three buildings, including two buildings with three floors and one two-story structure. Thirty percent of the units, or16 units, would be designated as moderate income housing under state statute 8-30g, which was adopted more than a decade ago to promote low and moderate income housing in Connecticut. The maximum rent for these units would be about $1,800 per month.

Because the site plan review application is filed as a proposed 8-30g project, the commission faces some limits on its authority to reject or demand major changes in the plans. Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said the panel has been advised by legal counsel that it could only reject the project for reasons directly related to safety and public health. Budrow said the plans drew a generally mild reaction at the Feb. 22 hearing , with “questions but not a lot of vocal opposition.”

The Cumberland Farms project calls for demolition of the 1,800-square-foot existing store that opened in the 1990s, replacing it with a 4,200-square-foot store with three gasoline pump islands, one more than the two currently on site. The pumping stations would be under a 24-foot by 55-foot canopy. The plan drew some objections at the Feb. 22 hearing, mostly focused on traffic flow and the size of the canopy.

Budrow said legal timelines require the commission to close the public hearing on the Plains Rd. apartment complex, and vote on the application Monday, unless the applicant approves an extension that would push the deadline for a decision to April 18. He said the panel also faces an April deadline for action on the Cumberland Farms project.

Another public hearing on a new application scheduled to open Monday is for a proposed take-out pizza shop in a section of the former Ivoryton Store building at 104 Main St. in the Ivoryton section. The applicant is Paul Cappazone.

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New Trustees Join the Board at The Kate

kate logoOLD SAYBROOK – The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (the Kate) has welcomed three new members to the Board of Trustees that oversees the Kate – Devin Carney, Thomas Gezo and Anne Barosewicz-Mele.

Devin Carney is the Connecticut State Representative for the 23rd District, which includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.   For several years he has been involved with the Kate’s Oscar Party, where he proudly contributes his grandfather Art Carney’s Oscar to the festivities.

A business coach and consultant, Thomas Gezo has previously managed projects and contracts in his corporate career for high-tech software companies. He is a certified SCORE business mentor and the AVP of the Southern New England Chapter of PMI, responsible for programming in the New London region.  He and his wife, Evelyn, are current volunteers with the Kate.

Anne Bartosewicz-Mele is an energy infrastructure expert, having worked with Northeast Utilities and currently Burns & McDonnell. She has also served on various nonprofit boards, including the Bushnell Park Foundation and Leadership Greater Hartford.

“The staff and the Board of Trustees of the Kate are delighted to welcome the new trustees into the organization,” said the Kate’s executive director, Brett Elliott. “We look forward to combining backgrounds and talents on behalf of the Kate for its long-term mission.”

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Essex Has New, More Readable Street Signs

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

Essex Street sign

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

Essex Street sign

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

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

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Local Essex Realtor’s 2015 Sales Total $24.8 Million

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Linares Welcomes Gillette Castle, Friends of CT Parks to State Capitol

SenatorLinaresFriendsofCTStateParks3-9-16 281 new On March 9, Sen. Art Linares (center) welcomed representatives from Connecticut State Parks to the State Capitol to mark State Parks Day. Discussions focused on ways to preserve, protect and enhance Connecticut’s state parks, including Gillette Castle State Park. This year, Linares is part of a first-of-its-kind effort to amend the state Constitution to better ensure protection of state-owned forests, parks, farmland and other conservation lands.

He is shown here with Harold Niver and Theodora Niver at the State Capitol. The Nivers bring William Gillette and his wife, Helen, to life in an entertaining and informative performance at Gillette Castle State Park. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes, but Holmes was brought to life by William Gillette. Gillette also put together the “costume” – the hat, pipe, lens and cape – that we associate with Holmes to this day.

Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

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Kate’s Summer Camp for Kids Opens for Registration

Kate's Camp, 2015

Kate’s Camp, 2015

OLD SAYBROOK – The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Community Music School present Kate’s Camp for Kids, a performing arts summer camp program, which will be held at The Kate, 300 Main Street in Old Saybrook, from July 11 to Aug. 5.

Launched in 2013, Kate’s Camp for Kids is a state-licensed arts camp for children ages 5 to 10 years old incorporating music, dance, theater, and visual art in weekly sessions that culminate in a performance for family and friends. A diverse range of activities is offered on a rotating basis to ensure a fresh experience for even the most frequent camper.

Directed by Nancy Thomas, a 20-plus-year member of the Community Music School faculty and certified Kindermusik educator, the camp features four, one-week sessions that meet Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tuition for each camp week is $260 and scholarships are available for families with a financial need.

Each week of camp has a different theme. On July 11-15, “In a Galaxy Not So Far Away,” explores the music by composer John Williams made famous in the “Star Wars” movies. July 18-22 is “Dreamcatcher,” an original musical story of peace, harmony and joy. July 25-29, “Hats!”  features a clever rhyming script and songwriting; and Aug. 1-5, “We Haz Jazz,” which will explore the work of great jazz musicians.

Kate’s Camp for Kids is generously supported by the Boody Family Fund, the Maximilian E. and Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, NewAlliance Foundation and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County/River View Cemetery Fund.

For additional information visit www.community-music-school.org or call 860-767-0026.

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Senator Linares Visits Middlesex Community College

linares photoSen. Art Linares (center) visited Middlesex Community College to speak to students in Jane Stamler’s political science class on March 8. Linares discussed his duties as a state senator and the reasons why he chose public service.  He urged the students to consider ways in which they can serve their communities.  Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook. He can be reached at 800-842-1421 and at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov.

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FloGris Offers Free Admission to All, Saturday, May 7

Families are invited to create hands-on crafts during Community Free Day on May 7.

Families are invited to create hands-on crafts during Community Free Day on May 7.

OLD LYME – The Florence Griswold Museum presents its annual Community Free Day on Saturday, May 7, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event offers free admission to the museum’s 11-acre campus on Lyme Street in Old Lyme, and includes family activities as well as two performances by Master Storyteller Tom Lee.

A performer for all ages, Lee will present “Mysteries at the Museum: Stories That’ll Make You Think” at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. With training in classical theater, Lee has been performing in museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art for over 15 years (www.tomleestoryteller.com). The museum will also offer a special family craft activity in the Hartman Education Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., a scavenger hunt, and a “Can You Find Me” art hunt.

“Our Community Free Day is a great way for all ages to spend the day at the museum,” said David D.J. Rau, Director of Education and Outreach. “The fun and educational activities planned for this year are a wonderful introduction for the many first-time visitors we get on this annual day.”

Museum-goers visiting the original Florence Griswold House are treated to guides sharing stories of the Lyme Art Colony artists who stayed with Florence Griswold in the boardinghouse over 100 years ago. The house, decorated as it was in 1910, includes the original paintings that artists created on the door and wall panels of the house.

On view in the museum’s Krieble Gallery is “Ten/Forty: Collecting American Art at the Florence Griswold Museum.” The exhibition details the growth of the museum’s art collection over the past 40 years, including a range of American art from the Tonalist style of the late 1800s to today’s modern Abstraction.

Community Free Day attendees can also visit the Chadwick Art Studio, presented as it would have looked in 1920; the Rafal Landscape Center; as well as the museum’s gardens and grounds along the Lieutenant River.

A historic center for American art, the Florence Griswold Museum is considered the Home of American Impressionism. The museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT, exit 70 off I-95. For additional information contact the museum at 860-434-5542 or visit  www.FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org.

flo gris 2

Visitors will hear about life in an artists’ boardinghouse at the Florence Griswold Museum.

Visitors will hear about life in an artists’ boardinghouse at the Florence Griswold Museum.

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Gallery Openings & Receptions at May Daze Night, May 6

CHESTER – On Friday evening, May 6, when Chester Center celebrates its annual May Daze Night, two of Chester’s well-known art galleries will be hosting opening receptions from 5 to 8 p.m.

Leif Nilsson will have a reception for his exhibit of his new gouache paintings done in the United Kingdom this spring. Gouache is a new medium for him to explore, Leif said, adding, “Especially for traveling, it dries so quickly and is easy to move around with.” The Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery is at One Spring Street. More information at http://www.nilssonstudio.com

"Spring in Chewstoke, England" - gouache, 7 x 11 inches by Leif Nilsson 2016 ©

“Spring in Chewstoke, England” – gouache, 7 x 11 inches by Leif Nilsson 2016 ©

Chester Gallery, at 76 Main Street, opens “Housing for the Birds,” with bird houses by Hans Lohse, works on paper by Elizabeth Gourlay, and etching and engraving by Richard Ziemann. Meet the artists at the reception till 8 p.m. This show will remain up through the summer.

Photo by Tracey Kroll

Photo by Tracey Kroll

Chester’s May Daze Night also includes store events and refreshments throughout the Center. At 8 p.m., stay for some street dancing to music by DJ Gary Torello, in celebration of the almost done Main Street Bridge reconstruction. Watch for more information at Facebook.com/visitchesterct or Finditinchesterct.wordpress.com.

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Inaugural Meeting of ‘Friends of Whalebone Cove’ Set for Today, Group Plans to Protect Famous Tidal Wetland

The newly formed friends of Whalebone Cove are working to prevent this sort of activity in the waterways.

The newly formed ‘Friends of Whalebone Cove’ are working to preserve and protect the Cove’s fragile ecosystem.

A new community conservation group to protect Whalebone Cove, a freshwater tidal marsh along the Connecticut river in Hadlyme recognized internationally for its wildlife habitat, will hold its first organizational meeting this coming Sunday, March 6.

Calling the group “Friends of Whalebone Cove” (FOWC), the organizers say their purpose is to “create a proactive, community-based constituency whose mission is to preserve and protect the habitat and fragile eco-systems of Whalebone Cove.”

Much of Whalebone Cove is a nature preserve that is part of the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge (www.fws.gov/refuge/silvio_o_conte) under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFW). The Refuge owns and manages 116 acres of marshland in Whalebone Cove and upland along its shores.

Prior to being taken over by USFW, the Whalebone Cove preserve was under the protection of The Nature Conservancy.

As part of the Connecticut River estuary, the Cove is listed in the Ramsar Convention on International Wetlands (www.ramsar.org) as tidal marshlands on the Connecticut River that constitute a “wetlands complex of international importance.”

The Ramsar citation specifically notes that Whalebone Cove has one of the largest stands of wild rice in the state. Except at high tide, most of the Cove is open marshland covered by wild rice stands with relatively narrow channels where Whalebone Creek winds its way through the Cove to the main stem of the Connecticut River.

Brian Slater, one of the group’s leaders who is filing the incorporation documents creating FOWC, said the creation of the organization was conceived by many of those living around the Cove and others in the Hadlyme area because of increased speeding motor boat and jet ski traffic in the Cove in recent years, damaging wetland plants and disrupting birds and other wildlife that make the Cove their home.

Slater said “Our goal is to develop a master plan for protection of the Cove through a collaborative effort involving all those who have a stake in Whalebone Cove – homeowners along its shores and those living nearby, the Silvio O. Conte Refuge, the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), hunters, fishing enthusiasts, canoeing and kayaking groups, Audubon groups, the Towns of Lyme and East Haddam, The Nature Conservancy, the Connecticut River Watershed Council, the Lyme Land Conservation Trust, the Connecticut River Gateway Commission, and others who want to protect the Cove.”

“Such a plan”, said Slater, “should carefully evaluate the habitat, plants, wildlife and eco-systems of the Cove and the surrounding uplands and watershed and propose an environmental management plan that can be both implemented and enforced by those entrusted with stewarding the Cove and its fragile ecosystems for the public trust.”

FOWC has written a letter to Connecticut DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee asking that he appoint a blue ribbon commission to conduct the research and develop the management plan. FOWC also asked that Commissioner Klee either deny or defer approval on any applications for new docks in the Cove until the management plan can be developed and implemented. Currently there are no docks in the Cove.

2014-06-06 10.37.22_motorboat

“We are very concerned that the installation of docks permitted for motor boat use will greatly increase the amount of motorized watercraft in the Cove,” said Slater. “There’s already too much jet ski and speeding motorboat traffic in the Cove. Those living on the Cove have even seen boats towing water skiers crisscrossing the wild rice plants at high tide. Something has to be done to protect the birds and marine life that give birth and raise their young in the Cove.”

Slater urged all those “who treasure Whalebone Cove and the many species of birds, turtles, fish, reptiles, amphibians, beaver, and rare flora and fauna that make their home in it to attend the meeting, whether they live in the Hadlyme area or beyond.”

Expected to be at the meeting will be representatives from USFW, DEEP, the Connecticut River Watershed Council, and several other conservation organizations.

The meeting will be at 4 p.m., Sunday, March 6, at Hadlyme Public Hall, 1 Day Hill Rd., in Lyme, which is at the intersection of Ferry Rd. (Rte. 148), Joshuatown Rd., and Day Hill Rd. Representatives from the Silvio O. Conte Refuge will make a short presentation on the history and mission of the Conte Refuge system, which includes nature preserves throughout the Connecticut River Valley in four states.

Refreshments will be served.

For more information, call 860-322-4021 or email fowchadlyme@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sinfonia and String Ensemble in Free Concert, May 3

Community Music School's String Ensemble in concert

Community Music School’s String Ensemble in concert

DEEP RIVER – On Tuesday, May 3, at 6:30 p.m., nearly 50 string musicians will take the stage at John Winthrop Middle School in Deep River for the Community Music School’s Sinfonia and String Ensemble Concert. Ranging in age from eight to eighty-four, members of the two multi-generational performance groups will play a variety of classical pieces, including works by Bach, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns, as well as popular movie music, fiddle tunes and pop, all under the direction of Martha Herrle. The concert is free and open to the public.

Sinfonia and String Ensemble members come from several shoreline towns (and beyond) to rehearse together at Old Saybrook High School for 26 weeks beginning in September and ending just prior to the annual concert performance. Compared to String Ensemble’s modest start in 2002, with just four children and one senior adult, the orchestra’s growth is a testament to its all-inclusive policy of being open to all intermediate to advanced string musicians, regardless of age and with no audition requirement.  It also serves as a great opportunity for family members to share in their musical interests and spend time together.

For more information, go to www.community-music-school.org or call 860-767-0026. The Community Music School, located at 90 Main Street in Centerbrook, is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to building community through music since 1983.

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Vista Accepting Applications for Summer Program until May 2

    Vista is accepting applications for its summer program.Vista is now accepting applications for its two-week summer program.

AREAWIDE – Individuals with disabilities 17 and older are invited to experience life at Vista Life Innovations for two weeks during the Exploring Independence summer program.

Exploring Independence is designed to provide prospective students with an introduction to Vista and the independence of adulthood in a supported learning environment. Participants will experience living away from home in a dorm-style setting and take part in a variety of interactive activities. The program combines hands-on learning in the areas of social skills, life skills and team building with fun activities, such as off-site day trips, arts projects and community immersion.

Participation in the Exploring Independence summer program is the first step in the admissions process for many Vista students and members. Among them is Vista student Tim Maloney, who participated in the 2015 summer program.

“I learned that you can be yourself and have a nice time away from home,” Tim said of his experience in the summer program. “My favorite part was making friends and doing activities.”

This year’s Exploring Independence program will run August 1-12. Applications are being accepted through May 2. Space is limited. For more information or to apply, contact Esther Vallas, admissions manager, at evallas@vistalifeinnovations.org or 860-399-8080 ext. 136.

With campuses in Westbrook, Madison and Guilford, Vista Life Innovations is a nationally accredited community-based education program for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, seizure disorders, traumatic brain injuries, intellectual disabilities and ADHD.

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Essex Harbor Management Commission Announcement

ESSEX— Bushnell Access small vessel applications have been mailed to 2015 permit holders and wait list applicants with a response deadline of March 15, 2016.  After March 15th, applications will be made available to the public at Essex Town Hall Selectmen’s Office and on the Town website at www.essexct.gov.  Permits will be issued on a first come, first serve basis for applications received after March 15 until the maximum storage capacity of 75 small vessels is reached.  Applications received after storage capacity is reached will be placed on a wait list.   Permits are issued by the Essex Harbor Management Commission for the 2016 boating season which runs from April 1 to November 30, 2016

Please direct any inquiries to the Harbor Management Commission email address HarborManagementCommission@EssexCT.gov.

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Marshview Gallery Exhibits Elaine Lifland’s Paintings in May

Elaine Lifland with some of her paintings to be exhibited in Old Saybrook.

OLD SAYBROOK – The Marshview Gallery at the Estuary Council of Seniors in Old Saybrook will exhibit the work of Elaine Lifland during the month of May. An artist reception will be held Friday, May 13, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Elaine Lifland always had a love for painting. Raising a family and having a full-time job meant she waited until retirement to pursue her passion. Her experience began with watercolor, studying with Timothy Clark. Later she was introduced to oil paints and it changed everything for her. She studied at the Art Students’ League in NYC where she lived. She gives credit to instructor Kenneth MacIndoe for encouraging her.

Elaine is a member of the Essex Art Association and the Old Lyme Art Association, where she has won Best of Show. She hopes that her paintings stir your emotions and bring a smile to your face!

All are welcome to attend the reception and meet the artist. Refreshments will be provided. The Estuary Council of Seniors is at 220 Main Street in Old Saybrook.

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Coldwell Banker Donates to Essex Social Services

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Essex office recently presented a $1,000 donation to the Essex Department of Social Services. Pictured from left are Marguerite Mattison, a Coldwell Banker sales associate; Mary Ellen Barnes of the Essex Department of Social Services; and Rick Greene, Peter DePatie and Joel Lucas, all Coldwell Banker sales associates.

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Essex office recently presented a $1,000 donation to the Essex Department of Social Services. Pictured from left are Marguerite Mattison, a Coldwell Banker sales associate; Mary Ellen Barnes of the Essex Department of Social Services; and Rick Greene, Peter DePatie and Joel Lucas, all Coldwell Banker sales associates.

ESSEX – The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office in Essex recently made a $1,000 donation to the Essex Department of Social Services through the company’s charitable foundation, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares Foundation.

The Department of Social Services strives to enhance the quality of life of Essex residents through support in meeting basic human needs and promoting services that foster self-sufficiency and economic independence.

“Through the generous contributions of the affiliated sales associates and employees of the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Essex office, we are able to make charitable donations to organizations and agencies that assist some of our community’s most vulnerable residents. We are proud to support our neighbors who are facing hardships,” said Jeanne Rutigliano, sales manager of the office.

The Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares Foundation is supported by the affiliated sales associates and staff of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. The foundation’s primary purpose is to raise funds to provide financial assistance to housing-related causes in the communities where the company has a presence. For more information, visit ColdwellBankerHomes.com.

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RiverQuest Offers Osprey/Eagle Cruises During April

An osprey, returned from his winter spent in the southern hemisphere, feeds his young on the nest.

An osprey, returned from his winter spent in the southern hemisphere, feeds his young on the nest.

AREAWIDE – Late March into early April is when the Osprey returns to Connecticut from its southern wintering grounds. It is a wonderful sign that spring is finally here!

The Osprey, a large bird of prey with a 4’6” to 6’ wingspan, eats only fish, so it is sometimes referred to as the Fish Hawk. Ospreys migrate south for the winter to areas where their food supply will not be affected by frozen rivers and lakes. They settle down in the southern US, Central America, South America, and have been seen as far south as Argentina. Ospreys of breeding age are returning north now, to start a new nest or to re-establish a nest they may have used in previous years.

There are many Osprey nests along the lower Connecticut River, from the mouth of the river in Old Lyme/Old Saybrook to as far north as Middletown. There will be activity on the many man-made nesting platforms at the Roger Tory Peterson Preserve in Old Lyme and on other platforms located along the Connecticut River, in “natural” tree settings and on the top of each of the large navigation aids that mark the river channel.

A great way to see this nesting activity is by boat.

During the month of April, RiverQuest, an eco-tour vessel located at Eagle Landing State Park in the Tylerville section of Haddam, is offering several cruises to the general public to view and learn about the Osprey and other wildlife, including hawks and another famous raptor, the Bald Eagle, which may be spotted.

After disappearing from Connecticut in 1948, the Bald Eagle has made a return and there are several active eagle nests on the river. Two of these nests will be visible from RiverQuest and we will most likely see one or more of our resident Bald Eagles.

Other areas of interest that will be seen on our cruise include the Goodspeed Opera House, Gillette Castle and the Chester/Hadlyme Ferry. The cruises are approximately 2.5 hours in length and cost $40 per passenger (no children under 10 years old please). There are binoculars on board for loan during the cruise and complimentary coffee and tea. To learn more about these informative cruises or to reserve your spot, please visit ctriverquest.com or call (860) 662-0577.

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Literacy Volunteers Celebrate Spring in May Book Promotion

WESTBROOK – Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) is celebrating Spring and all things new during its May book promotion. This promotion features quarter, dime, nickel pricing. Selected hardcovers are a quarter, select paperbacks a dime and puzzles only a nickel!

Also this month, all LVVS cookbooks with international student recipes are half price. LVVS is always accepting gently used books from 2006 and newer. Look for new promotions each month.

Stop in at the book sale Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. to noon. LVVS is located on the lower level of the Westbrook Library, 61 Goodspeed Dr., Westbrook. More information at 860-399-0280.

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Juniper Foster Art Exhibit on Show at CBSRZ Through April 30

Emerging Worlds I, 2016, 36x36" (Photo: Nazim Khan)

Emerging Worlds I, 2016, 36×36″ (Photo: Nazim Khan)

AREAWIDE – “Juniper Foster has evolved to a place in the artistic community where she and her work can no longer be ignored. There are many paintings and many artists but rarely do paintings arise with such strength of purpose and overwhelming originality.” – Harry Folsom

An opening reception will be held on Sunday, March 13, from 3 to 5 p.m., for one of this year’s most exciting artistic events at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek’s Main Street Gallery.

New York artist Juniper Foster’s dynamic, unencumbered palette forms a conversation with the canvas, effortlessly draws the viewer into her world, and brings each painting to life, transforming the spectator into a participant whose perspective is free to shift with time and mood.

Her 37 works range in size from 4×4″ to 58×84” and will be on display through April 30.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East King’s Highway in Chester. For more information, visit cbsrz.org or call 860-526-8920.

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Social Security Tips: Use Your Extra Day to Leap Into Retirement

It’s leap year and that means one thing – you can add one extra calendar day to your February schedule. Many people are preparing for the upcoming elections. Others might be getting a jump on spring cleaning. What will you do with your extra day?

You could use a few of your extra minutes to check out what Social Security offers at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. There, you can:
* Apply for retirement, disability, and other benefits;
* Get your Social Security Statement;
* Appeal a recent medical decision about your disability claim;
* Find out if you qualify for benefits;

If you’re planning or preparing for retirement, you can spend a fraction of your extra 24 hours at my Social Security. In as little as 15 minutes, you can create a safe and secure my Social Security account. More than 21 million Americans already have accounts. In fact, someone opens one about every 6 seconds. Join the crowd and sign up today at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. With a personalized my Social Security account, you can:

* Obtain an instant, personalized estimate of your future Social Security benefits;
* Verify the accuracy of your earnings record – your future benefit amounts are based on your earnings record;
* Change your address and phone number, if you receive monthly Social Security benefits;
* Sign up for or change direct deposit of your Social Security benefits;
* Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season; and
* Obtain a record of the Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid.

And if you have a little time to spare, you can always check out the agency’s blog, Social Security Matters, at blog.socialsecurity.gov. There, you will find guest posts by Social Security experts, in-depth articles, and answers to many of your questions about retirement, benefits, and healthcare. Each post is tagged by topic so you can easily search for what matters most to you.

Leaping from webpage to webpage, you can easily see that Social Security has you covered all year long, not just on that extra day in February.Remember, you can access the Social Security homepage that links to a wide array of online services any day of the week at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Editor’s Note: The author Robert G. Rodriguez is a Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in New Britain , CT

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Inaugural Scrabble Scramble Tournament to Benefit Literacy Volunteers, April 27

AREAWIDE – Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore is pleased to announce its Inaugural Annual Scrabble Scramble Tournament on Wednesday, April 27, starting at 5:30 p.m. The event, billed as “An Evening of Words with Friends,” will be held at the First Congregational Church of Madison at 27 Meetinghouse Lane, Madison.

Tables of four people will play cooperatively on a single scrabble board to best other tables in the tournament. This isn’t just another scrabble tournament. You can bribe the Word Judge to get a peek at the dictionary or buy extra tiles to make the triple score word you need to win! Prizes will be awarded to tables with the highest score in each of two rounds as well as an overall winner. Players can join the fun for $25 per person. Coffee and snacks will be provided.

Proceeds from the tournament will benefit Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore English tutoring and workplace literacy programs. Call Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore at 860-399-0280 or go to vsliteracy.org for information and to sign up.

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New Shoreline Coworking Community Forms

watercoolerAREAWIDE – The number of coworking spaces has increased over 400 percent in the last two years. Coworking is redefining the way we work. Over 20 million Americans work from home, including 90 percent of all freelancers. Coworking provides a more affordable workspace for those just starting a business, or those who work independently, such as solopreneurs and freelancers. Not only offering “office space,” coworking offers amenities such as internet access, as-needed workspace, private space for meetings and small conferences, and a location for community programs and shared learning experiences.

To serve businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers in the towns located in the lower Connecticut River Valley and across the Connecticut shoreline, the Watercooler Coworking Community is being built. Local entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and freelancers are encouraged to attend an informational evening on Tuesday, April 26, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the Acton Public Library, 60 Old Boston Post Rd., Old Saybrook.

The purpose of the evening is to bring together coworkers, share ideas and begin to shape the structure of the collaborative workspace. Local economic development professionals and chamber of commerce professionals are also encouraged to attend.

The Watercooler will be the Connecticut Shoreline’s member-sustained, community-supported, collaborative coworking space. When built, The Watercooler will provide a professional, inspirational, and self-sustaining space to grow and nurture freelance businesses and entrepreneurialism. Creatives, entrepreneurs and small businesses of all types will flock to The Watercooler to become a part of the community of local-minded, business-focused folks. http://www.watercoolercowork.com/

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Key Issues Debated by Linares and RiverCOG at State Capitol

Senator Linares Lower CT River Valley COG Meeting 2-24-16 (7 of 22)

AREAWIDE – On Feb. 24 Sen. Art Linares (at far right) joined with members of the Lower CT River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG) at the State Capitol to discuss key issues being debated during the 2016 legislative session. Shown in the photo with him, from left to right, are Haddam First Selectman Lizz Milardo, East Hampton Town Manager Michael Maniscalco and Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee Member and Past Chair Darlene Briggs.

Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook. He can be reached at 800-842-1421 or at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov.

The RiverCOG has 17 member towns, including Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

According to its website, “The RiverCOG brings together local governments to coordinate land use and transportation planning on a regional basis. RiverCOG provides a forum to foster communication and collaboration among its member municipalities in identifying and addressing these and other regional issues.”

RiverCOG has an office at 145 Dennison Road in Centerbrook, and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information about RiverCOG is at www.rivercog.org or by calling (860) 581-8554.

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‘Warrior’ Giaconia Signs with UConn

Jack Giaconia, who has signed a Letter of Intent to play football with UConn, was a four-year starter on the Valley/Old Lyme co-op football team. Photo by Laura Matesky, www.lauramateskyphotography.com

Jack Giaconia, who has signed a Letter of Intent to play football with UConn, was a four-year starter on the Valley/Old Lyme co-op ‘Warriors’ football team. Photo by Laura Matesky, www.lauramateskyphotography.com

Lyme-Old Lyme High School senior Jack Giaconia, who was a starter on the Valley Regional/Lyme-Old Lyme ‘Warriors’ co-op football team throughout his high school career, has signed a Letter of Intent to be a preferred walk-on with the UConn Huskies.

A delighted Giaconia, who lives in Lyme, Conn., told LymeLine.com, “For me signing with UConn is a dream come true. I’ve been watching them play on TV since I was like seven years old.”

He explained that prior to signing with UConn, he had quite a number of college options on the table including Endicott, University of New Haven, and also Central, Southern and Western Connecticut State Universities. He noted, “I was also considering going to prep school since I wasn’t getting very much interest from big time Division One schools,” but, “When [Warriors head] coach [Tim] King told me that UConn was interested, I was very excited.”

Now, after a short break following his high school graduation in early June, Giaconia is looking forward to starting his training with the UConn team at the end of June. He explains, “That’s when I start lifting and training with the team.”

Asked if there was anyone he wished to acknowledge in terms of having helped him reach his goal, Giaconia, who stands 6 ft. 4 in. and weighs 330 lb, graciously offered quite a list, saying first, “I want to thank coach King and all the coaching staff for being the best group of coaches a player could ask for.” He then added, “I also want to thank both the Valley and Lyme-Old Lyme school districts because without the co-op being created, I wouldn’t have been able to play for my hometown.”

Giaconia quickly followed up saying, “I also want to thank the Roche family for being so supportive and helpful throughout the recruiting process. And last but not least, I want to thank my family for being my biggest fans and for getting me to this point in my life.”

Congratulations, Jack — we’ll be following your career with great interest!

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Senator Invites Comments on New Bill to Eliminate Tax on Social Security Benefits

Sen. Art Linares speaks with a taxpayer at the Haddam Senior Center.

AREAWIDE – Sen. Art Linares is co-sponsoring a bill at the State Capitol that would completely eliminate the personal income tax on Social Security benefits.

Linares said the measure would provide tax relief to seniors across Connecticut. “I think this is a proposal that Democrats and Republicans can find common ground on,” he added.  “I urge seniors and residents of all ages to contact their legislators and urge them to pass this common sense tax relief.”

Linares said a public hearing will be held on the proposal on Friday, Feb. 26.  He said those wishing to submit testimony in favor of the bill can do the following:

·         Email testimony to: FINtestimony@cga.ct.gov.

·         In the email’s subject line, put House Bill 5062.

·         Testimony can be as brief as you like, but should include your name and town.

Taxpayers should feel free to copy Linares on the testimony at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov.

Those who wish to testify in person may attend the hearing on Feb. 26 at 10:30 a.m. in Room 2E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.  For detailed information on testifying in person or submitting written testimony, visit www.cga.ct.gov and review ‘Citizen’s Guide/Guide to Testifying’.

Questions may be directed to Linares at 800-842-1421.

House Bill 5062 can be viewed here.

Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

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Gowrie Group Supports ‘The Kate’ with Annual Sponsorship

OLD SAYBROOK – The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Inc. (The Kate) has announced a generous annual corporate sponsorship from Gowrie Group. The sponsorship enables the Kate to continue to develop unique and diverse productions, as it enters into its seventh year of operations as a nonprofit performing arts organization.

Brett Elliott, the Executive Director of the Kate, said, We are thrilled to partner with Gowrie Group this year to produce wonderful entertainment with creativity and wit, just like our namesake.  Carter Gowrie has been instrumental in numerous initiatives here at the Kate, since his time joining the Board of Trustees.  It is with great pleasure that we welcome Carter and the Gowrie Group into the family here at the Kate.”

Carter Gowrie, CEO and founder of Gowrie, commented, “I love the Kate and am excited to be serving on the Board of Trustees. It is very special to have such an active performing arts theatre in our beautiful town, and Gowrie Group is very happy to help support it.”

The Gowrie Group, one of the nation’s Top 50 independent insurance agencies, is located in Westbrook, along with several offices in other New England states.

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Literacy Volunteers Need Office, PR Volunteers

AREAWIDE – Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore needs someone to edit and submit news and publicity items to area newspapers, collect clippings and keep records of publicity for the organization.  The schedule is flexible and mostly can be accomplished from home or remotely.

The organization also needs office help doing light clerical work on the computer two to three afternoons each week.

Please call 860-399-0280, stop in the office at 61 Goodspeed Drive, Westbrook, around the back of the Westbrook Library, or fill out an online volunteer application at www.vsliteracy.org.

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Country School Invites Community to TEDx Event, Saturday

tedxtcspicMADISON – What do a digital citizenship expert, a team of fourth grade poets, a 20-time Moth StorySLAM champion, and young artists-activists have in common? They are innovators in their respective fields, and are using their creativity to boldly make a difference in local and global communities. They are sharing these ideas at Spindrift, a TEDx event hosted by TEDxTheCountrySchool on Saturday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

At Spindrift, the first-ever TEDx Youth event planned and organized by students at The Country School, you will hear from speakers who will bring their different ideas and areas of expertise in TEDx talks to the shoreline community. TEDxTheCountrySchool, a team of current students working with Country School alumna Marina Sachs ’07, has collaborated all year to design and plan Spindrift, a day-long event focused on empathetic action, diverse ideas, equitable outcomes and the power of play.

Selected by the TEDx team as the theme of the conference this year, the word “Spindrift” means the perfectly symmetrical part of an ocean wave, the crest of the wave that forms just as the wave is built up enough before it breaks. It’s also the ocean spray that comes off the top of the wave, affected by the wind and how tall the wave is. Metaphorically, it’s an analogy to the present moment – the exciting time that we’re living in, our young age and how we’re poised to make the future into something incredible, how our past experiences affect who we are now and how we can use them to make a better version of ourselves for the future.

This day will include amazing talks given by speakers. Attendees can expect to get involved with tons of hands-on stations. Want to get your hands dirty? Be a part of our tree-planting initiative in celebration of Earth Day. Love playing with LEGOs? Jump in on the big LEGO building station. Ever been to a musical instrument petting zoo? There will be one.

Speakers include storyteller and novelist Matthew K Dicks, tech ethicist David Ryan Polgar, singer-songwriter Geordann Daguplo, poets from the fourth grade at TCS, children’s author Katie Davis, and more.

Register and learn more at www.thecountryschool.org/tedx. This event is open to the public. All ages are welcome, and the event is wheelchair accessible. A suggested donation of $10 per person would be greatly appreciated. Donations may be made online or at the door. Please contact TEDx@thecountryschool.org with questions.

Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent day school serving students in PreSchool-Grade 8. Students in Kindergarten-Grade 8 have been working to plan this TEDx event all year. The Country School is located at 341 Opening Hill Road in Madison.

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Wadsworth Atheneum Curator to Speak at River Museum Dinner, April 21

Erin Monroe

Erin Monroe

OLD LYME – Erin Monroe of the Wadsworth Atheneum will be the speaker at the Connecticut River Museum’s annual Brenda Milkofsky Curatorial Fund dinner at the Old Lyme Country Club on Thursday, April 21, beginning at 6 p.m.

Erin Monroe joined the Wadsworth staff in 2007 and today serves as the Robert H. Schutz, Jr. Assistant Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture. She entitled her talk, “Pioneering Visions: American Landscape Painters and Their Patrons.”  Using works from the Atheneum’s collections, she will discuss how the emergence of American landscape painting is closely interwoven with the founding of that museum in 1842.  Erin has worked with the Atheneum’s extensive painting collection, which includes Hudson River School, landscapes, portraiture, folk art, American impressionism and modernism, among others.

The Milkofsky Curatorial Fund is restricted to the acquisition and conservation of objects and manuscripts that enhance the historical focus of the Connecticut River Museum’s collections. Purchases from this fund have included the portrait of a Middletown merchant-mariner, a landscape of the oft-painted view of the Ox Bow below Mount Holyoke, the stern board of a Portland-built stone schooner, an Old Lyme hunting scene and a model of a Blue Line tug-boat, among others.

For more information or to make a reservation, please call the Connecticut River Museum at 860-767-8269.

 

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Bring Dinner, Wear Dancing Shoes to Chester Rotary’s Longest Dinner Table Fundraiser, April 23

Bring your own dinner and drinks to the Longest Dinner Table and help support local hunger programs.

Bring your own dinner and drinks to Chester Rotary’s Longest Dinner Table evening in April and help support local hunger programs.

CHESTER – The Rotary Club of Chester continues its long practice of giving back to the Town of Chester and its residents.  Its fund raisers, such as the 4 On The Fourth road race and the Lobster Festival (to be held this year on Sept. 10 at the Chester Fairgrounds) are two of its successful events.

The Longest Dinner Table is a relatively new fund raiser, with the goal of raising funds to benefit local organizations such as the Chester Food Pantry, the Back Pack Program and the Shoreline Soup Kitchens.

This year The Longest Dinner Table is being held Saturday, April 23, at St. Joseph’s Parish Center in Chester from 7 to 11 p.m.  It is an adults only evening consisting of music, food, silent auction and fun.

Buy tickets at $25 each and create your own dinner menu with beverages centered on your theme. Gather your friends and create a themed table with your own decorations. Wear costumes, if you want! After dinner, dance to the rockabilly tunes of Four Barrel Billy, an upbeat local band. Everyone will have a great time and you will be supporting the Rotary’s local programs.

Tickets can be purchased at www.ChesterRotary.org or at the door.

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Estuary Region Transportation Options Discussion, April 20

OLD SAYBROOK – The Estuary Council of Seniors will host a program on Wednesday, April 20, at 12:45 p.m. to discuss the transportation options for senior citizens and people with disabilities in the nine-town Estuary region.

Topics will include Riding 9 Town Transit, scheduling trips online, how to apply for a senior fare card, accessibility of transit vehicles, mobility management and travel training.

For more information or to register for the program, call Rob Carlucci at 203-260-9187. Walk-ins are welcome. The Estuary Council of Seniors is located at 220 Main St., Old Saybrook.

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Linares Supports Marinas, Opposes Dredging Proposal

Sen. Art Linares

Sen. Art Linares

AREAWIDE – On Feb. 19, Sen. Art Linares testified against a legislative proposal that would complicate harbor dredging and negatively impact Connecticut marinas.

“My district is home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery in Connecticut,” Linares said in his testimony to state lawmakers on the Environment Committee.  “Coastal towns like Westbrook, Old Saybrook, Clinton. Today, I join with marina owners from my district in expressing serious concerns about Bill 78: An Act Concerning the Disposition of Dredged Materials from Certain Harbors and Ports on Long Island Sound.”

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection joined Sen. Linares in opposing the bill, noting that the proposal seeks to address issues that have already been resolved. An environmentally sensitive plan that is responsive to the need to dredge long-neglected harbors was adopted by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in December.

“The marine trades industry supports more than 7,000 jobs in Connecticut,” Linares said.  “But, like many small businesses across Connecticut, our marinas are struggling. As state legislators, we should be doing all we can to provide these job creators with the flexibility they need in order to help them grow and thrive over the long term.  Dredging is the lifeblood of these businesses.  Dredging provides access to marinas.  That access is key to keeping our marinas afloat.  Policies which impact that ability to dredge will without a doubt impact the scores of marinas in my district and throughout the shoreline.”

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Connecticut Valley Camera Club Features Wildlife Photographer, April 19

Wildlife photographer Kristofer Rowe will be the guest speaker at CCVC on 19 April, 2016 (photo by Kristofer Rowe)

Wildlife photographer Kristofer Rowe will be the guest speaker at CVCC on April 19 (photo by Kristofer Rowe)

The April meeting of the Connecticut Valley Camera Club (CVCC) will be on Tuesday, April 19 at 7:00 p.m.

The program will feature Kristofer Rowe, a wildlife photographer focusing on osprey, owls and hawks.  You can view some of his photos on Facebook here www.facebook.com/ KristoferRowePhotography/.

For further information, please call Ed McCaffrey at 860-575-4694.

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Captivating Children’s Musical Delivers Social Message, April 16

polkadot pic
IVORYTON –
The Ivoryton Playhouse will be producing Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical for schools in Middlesex and New London Counties in April.

This show delivers the message of treating others with dignity and compassion. Polkadots was inspired by the 1957 events of the Little Rock Nine in Arkansas and serves as a colorful history lesson for children, reminding them that our individual differences make us awesome, not outcasts.

It is the story of Lily Polkadot, who has just moved to the “Square’s Only” small town of Rockaway with her mother. As the first Polkadot in an all-Square school, Lily faces the almost impossible task of gaining acceptance from her peers. From daily bullying by mean girl Penelope to segregated drinking fountains, Lily’s quest seems hopeless until she meets Sky, a shy Square boy whose curiosity for her unique polkadot skin blooms into an unexpected pal-ship and a turn of events for the courageous Lily. The show is brought to life with costuming and 14 entertaining musical numbers.

Co-produced by Marc Blakeman, Polkadots was conceived by Douglas Lyons, who wrote the music and lyrics. Lyons, a Connecticut native and graduate of the Hartt School, is a Broadway actor whose credits include Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and The Book of Mormon.

Besides the school shows (which include the Chester, Deep River and Essex Elementary Schools), there will also be public performances (suggested for ages 11 and under) on Monday and Tuesday, April 11 and 12, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, April 16, at 2 p.m. Tickets for these public shows $15 all ages (special pricing of groups of 10 and more).

For tickets and information, call the Ivoryton Playhouse at (860) 767-7318 or visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.

Funding for this program provided by Marc Blakeman, the Bauman Family Foundation and Thomas J. Atkins Memorial Trust Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee and Essex Community Fund.

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Chester-based Roto Frank of America Donates to Shoreline Soup Kitchens, Pantries

roto frank donationAREAWIDE – On Feb. 5, Roto Frank of America, Inc. presented a check for $2,867 to the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries. The presentation was made on behalf of the Roto Frank of America employees by Chris Dimou, President & CEO of Roto Frank of America, Inc., and Sue LeMire, HR/General Accounting Manager of Roto Frank of America, Inc., to representatives of the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries, including Board of Directors member Reverend Dr. Jonathan Folts, Executive Director Patty Dowling, and Director of Development and Outreach Claire Bellerjeau.

The funds were raised during an employee campaign that ran from February to December 2015, during which employees voluntarily elected to make donations via payroll deduction, as well as supporting a variety of fundraising events. Roto Frank employees also collected and donated more than 300 pounds of canned good and pasta.

“It’s a great feeling to know that the funds we raised will provide enough food for more than 7,350 meals,“ said Sue LeMire. “We’re pleased to be able to help out a local organization that does such fantastic work for the shoreline communities,” said Chris Dimou.

Based in Essex, the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries provides food for families in need through its pantries located in Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Old Lyme and East Lyme and meal sites in Centerbrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, and Old Lyme.

Founded in 1979, Roto Frank of America, Inc. is a Chester-based manufacturer of window and door hardware. Roto Frank of America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Roto AG, a global company headquartered in Germany, with 13 production plants and 40 subsidiaries worldwide.For more information visit www.rotohardware.com.

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AARP CT Volunteers Meet With Carney and Linares at Capitol

From left to right: Rep. Devin Carney, Jean Caron of Old Saybrook, Marian Speers of Old Saybrook and Sen. Art Linares.

From left to right: Rep. Devin Carney, Jean Caron of Old Saybrook, Marian Speers of Old Saybrook and Sen. Art Linares

AREAWIDE – Volunteers from AARP Connecticut met with Sen. Art Linares and Rep. Devin Carney at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Feb. 10 to discuss key issues that will be debated during the 2016 session of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Sen. Art Linares represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook. He can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or 800-842-1421.

State Rep. Devin Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District covering Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. Carney can be reached at devin.carney@housegop.ct.gov or 800-842-1423.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps people 50 and older improve the quality of their lives. More information at aarp.org.

 

 

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Volunteers Needed to Help Valley Shore Residents; Tutor Training Starts March 24

AREAWIDE – Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore, CT, Inc. is a private non-profit organization.  Our mission is to train tutors to teach Basic Reading (BR) and English as a Second Language (ESL) to 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 24 and runs through May 19. The deadline for applications is Feb. 26.

Our 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, please contact the Literacy Volunteers office by phone at (860) 399-0280 or by e-mail at jferrara@vsliteracy.org. The Literacy Volunteers office is in the basement of Westbrook Public Library.

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Vendors and Artisans Sought for May 14 Sale

OLD SAYBROOK – Vendors and artisans who want to showcase their one-of-a-kind treasures, antiques, vintage pieces, arts and crafts and other assorted bric-a-brac during the one-day shopping event, “Junk in the Trunk,” are asked to fill out an application by April 15.

The event will be held on Saturday, May 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Estuary Council of Seniors, 220 Main Street, Old Saybrook, rain or shine.

Application and $30 payment are due by April 15. Call Paul Doyle at (860) 388-1611, ext. 211 or stop by the Estuary Council for an application.

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Town Committees Reorganize for 2016-18 Term

CHESTER / DEEP RIVER / ESSEX — Democratic and Republican Town Committees for Chester, Deep River, and Essex have reorganized for the 2016-2018 term after party caucuses held in January. The new town committees will pick delegates for state and district nominating conventions in May, and also nominate candidates for the next town elections in 2017.

One new twist in the process this year is a new state law requiring signatures from all prospective town committee members at the time of the caucus. Republicans in Chester and Deep River were unable to secure some signatures in time for the caucus, but will fill out the membership by appointments when the new committees are seated in March.

CHESTER — Chester Democrats have picked a 25-member town committee with six new members, including newly elected First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Trisha Brookhart, Ted Taigen, Jacqueline Stack, Michael Price, Isaac Ruiz, and Susan Wright. Incumbents returning to the town committee are former First Selectman Edmund Meehan, Sandy Senior-Dauer, David Fitzgibbons, Lynne Stiles, Henry Krempel,, newly elected Selectwoman Charlene Janecek, Robert Gorman, Roger Goodnow, Marta Daniels, Lori Ann Clymas.

Chester Republicans picked a 26-member town committee that includes five new members, newly elected Selectwoman Carolyn Linn, Mandy Grass, Chris Fryxell, Meredith Devancy, and Robert Blair, who is the son of former longtime Republican First Selectman Robert Blair. Returning incumbents are Mario Gioco, former Selectman Bruce Watrous, Beverly Watrous, Joyce Aley, Joel Severance, former Selectman Tom Englert, Terri Englert, Karl Ohaus, Tracey Ohaus, Jonui Malcynsky, David Clark, John Hutson, Kristina Seifert, Melvin Seifert, Victor Hoehnebart, Jill Sakidovitch, Brian Sakidovitch, Jamie Grzybowski, Alex Strekel, and Virgil Lloyd.

DEEP RIVER — Democrats have picked a 22-member town committee that is comprised entirely of incumbents. The committee includes Carmela Balducci, Leigh Balducci, Richard Balducci, Stephen Bibbiani Lisa Bibbiani, Richard Daniels Jr. Dorothy DeMichael, Bruce Edgarton, Janet Edgarton, Nancy Fischbach, Joanne Grabek, George Howard, Ann Joy, Jonathan Kastner, Russell Marth, Karol Tulp Magee, Mary Maraschiello, Roy Monte, Valerie Nucci, Mark Reyher, Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., and First Selectman Richard Smith.

Republicans have picked a 15-member town committee that includes two new members, Dale Winchell and Mark Grabowski. Returning incumbents are Greg Alexander, Douglas Dopp, Michelle Grow, Alice Johnson, Town Treasurer Tom Lindner, Doug Nagan, Selectman David Oliveria, Rolf Peterson, Grace Stalsburg, Cynthia Stannard, Rosemary Unan, Donald Routh, and Town Clerk Amy Winchell.

ESSEX — Democrats have selected a 28-member town committee that includes three new members, William French, Ellen Pfarr and Yolanda Lowe. Returning incumbents are John Bairos, Mark Bombaci, Brian Cournoyer, former First Selectman Carl Ellison, Lois Ely, Geraldine Ficarra, Town Treasurer Jim Francis, Frank Hall, Tax Collector Megan Haskins, Campbell Hudson, Jonathan James,,Louise Ketron, Loretta McClosky, State Rep. Phil Miller, First Selectman Norman Needleman, Selectwoman Stacia Llibby, Lon Eeidman, Stanly Sheppard, Mary Ellen Pleva, James Spallone, John Stannard, Claire Tiernan ,Kathleen Tucker, Alvin Wolfgram, and Lawrence Shipman.

Republicans have picked a 25-member town committee that includes five new members The new members are Mary Louise Till, Keith Russell, Lynn Herlihy, John Frese, and Phil Beckman, the party’s unsuccessful nominee for board of selectmen in the 2015 town election. Returning GOP incumbents are  Susie Beckman, Kenneth Biombaci, Herb Clark, Edward Cook, Peter Decker, Ann Dixon, Selectman Bruce Glowac, Robert Fisher, D.G. Fitton,, Adrienne Forrest, John Heiser, James Hill, Jerri MacMillian, Bruce MacMillian, Town Clerk Joel Marzi, Barbara Ryan, David Sousa, Alice Van Dueursen, Gary Van Deursen, and  June Wilson.
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Chester Grand List Registers Small Increase

CHESTER – The grand list of taxable property in Chester showed little growth last year. Assessor Loreta Zdanys filed an October 2015 grand list that totals $443,781,440, an increase of $7,954,680, or 0.18 percent, over the 2014 grand list total. The increase would generate about $201,000 in new revenue at the current property tax rate of 25.32 mills.

The increase was smaller than 2014, when the grand list increased by a full one percent after dropping almost 12 percent the previous year with the townwide property revaluation that was completed in 2013. The 2015 list shows small increases in all three categories.

The net real estate total of $400,628,690 is up by $7,579,130 from the 2014 real estate total. The personal property total of $14,842,130 is up by $366,403 from the 2014 personal property total. The motor vehicles total of $28,310,620 is up by a tiny $9,167 from the previous year.

The list of the Chester’s top ten taxpayers is unchanged from recent years. Here are the top ten taxpayers with 2015 assessment totals.

  1. Chester Woods Inc. (Chester Village West) – $14,845,590
  2. Whelen Engineering Co,. Inc. – $6,760,220
  3. Connecticut Water Company – $5,211,140
  4. Eversource Energy Service Company – $4,652,850
  5. Whelen Aviation LLC (Chester Airport) – $3,843,340
  6. The Eastern Corp. – $3,648,140
  7. Roto Frank of America Inc. – $2,467,370
  8. Margaret & Robert Spriglio (Aaron Manor) – $2,237,320
  9. Chester Point Real Estate LLC – $2,079,830
  10. Arthur & Judith Schaller (residential) – $2,045,890
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Essex Resident Earns High Honors at Sacred Heart Academy

ESSEX – Sacred Heart Academy Principal Sr. Maureen Flynn, ASCJ recently announced the Honor Roll for the second marking period of the 2015–16 academic year.

Sophie Park of Essex earned high honors this quarter.

Honors are awarded at the end of each quarter to students attaining an average of 3.5 or better. Those students who achieve a grade point average of 3.8 or greater are awarded high honors.

Founded in 1946 by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sacred Heart successfully prepares young women in grades 9–12 for learning, service, and achievement in a global society. Sacred Heart Academy welcomes 500 students from more than 80 schools and 60 towns in Connecticut and is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Visit www.sacredhearthamden.org to learn more.

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Vista Changes Its Name to Reflect More Clearly Its Expanded Services, Programs

Vista student Julia Kane, Chief Executive Officer Helen Bosch and member Rachael Hoskin (L-R) proudly show off the new organizational logo. Photo: Vanessa Pereira

Vista student Julia Kane, Chief Executive Officer Helen Bosch and member Rachael Hoskin (L-R) proudly show off the new organizational logo. Photo: Vanessa Pereira

AREAWIDE – Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, an organization dedicated to assisting individuals with disabilities achieve personal success for more than 25 years, will soon take on a new name, Vista Life Innovations.

The name change is part of a long planned rebranding initiative to better align Vista’s name with its expanded service and program offerings.

“Over the past 25 years, Vista has become more than a vocational and life skills center,” said Vista’s Chief Executive Officer Helen Bosch. “We now offer a wide array of services—such as arts programming, benefits and advocacy counseling, and recreation—and we wanted a name that represented who we are as a whole.”

Vista leadership and members of its Board of Directors worked together to come up with a name that reflected the organization’s values, while describing what Vista is without focusing on specific aspects of the program.

Although its name will change, Vista’s mission and focus remain the same. For that reason, it was important that “Vista” remain in the name.

“Our scope of services has changed but we are fundamentally the same—an organization that provides services and programming for individuals with disabilities so they may achieve success,” said Bosch.

The new organizational name will go into effect the week of Feb. 15, along with the launch of a new website.

With campuses in Westbrook, Madison and Guilford, Vista is a community-based education program accredited by the National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services. Last year, the organization provided services to more than 300 individuals and their families.

Editor’s Note: Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501©3 nonprofit organization. Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources to assist individuals with disabilities achieve personal success. For more information about Vista, please visit www.vistavocational.org.

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Chester Selectwoman Invites Residents to Informal Morning Chats

First Selectwoman Lauren Gister chatted with Mark Russell about the Main Street bridge construction at The Villager on Feb. 10 after answering questions from residents. This was the first of the occasional “chats” Gister is holding to give residents a chance to talk with her.

First Selectwoman Lauren Gister chatted with Mark Russell about the Main Street bridge construction at The Villager on Feb. 10 after answering questions from residents. This was the first of the occasional “chats” Gister is holding to give residents a chance to talk with her.

CHESTER – First Selectwoman Lauren Gister is inviting residents to share with her their concerns, ask questions and give ideas at informal gatherings.

Gister said, “This will become a weekly or biweekly occurrence, at different times of day and at various venues over the next few months, but I need a name for this event, so I am holding a contest.  The resident who comes up with the best title for this new tradition will get a free breakfast or lunch at the Villager.”

The next “chat” will be on Thursday, Feb. 18, between 8 and 9 a.m. at Simon’s Marketplace. Gister has invited people to “grab a coffee or breakfast and bring ideas and questions.”

 

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