February 13, 2016

Registration for Valley Shore YMCA Afterschool Programs Now Open

AREAWIDE — To help motivate and inspire kids to discover their potential, the Valley Shore YMCA is offering afterschool programs to school-aged children throughout Westbrook, Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex and Old Saybrook schools.  The Y’s afterschool program combines academics with play and offers a caring and safe environment where youth can achieve, feel a sense of belonging, build relationships and explore new interests.  

One in four U.S. children is left unsupervised at the end of school day, according to the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness advocacy organization. With the start of the new school year, the Valley Shore YMCA encourages parents/caregivers to make sure that children are involved in safe, educational experiences after school hours.

“Research shows that afterschool programs can help children perform better in school, practice healthy habits and engage in positive lifestyle behaviors. If left unsupervised at the end of the school day, students miss out on positive influences that encourage achievement and deter risk-taking activities,” said Kathy Scholl, School Age Program Director, Valley Shore YMCA. 

She continues, “The Y’s afterschool programs promote a love for learning, social and emotional development, healthy choices, and provide children with an extra support system through positive role models and caring adults.”

The Y is a leading nonprofit committed to nurturing the potential of every child and through afterschool programming, supporting their social-emotional, cognitive, and physical development from birth to career. In the Valley Shore YMCA’s afterschool program youth receive homework help and attention to healthy eating during snack time and can also explore arts and crafts and physical activity all under the guidance of our enthusiastic Y staff. 

Financial assistance is available to those in need, to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn and grow at the Y.

For more information about the Valley Shore YMCA’s afterschool program, contact Kathy School, School Age Program Director, at 860.399.9622 ext 118, vsymca@vsymca.org or visit vsymca.org.

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Literacy Volunteers Seek Trainee Tutors to Help Valley Shore Residents

AREAWIDE — Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS), CT, Inc. is a private non-profit organization.  Its 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 fall and again in the spring each year.  The next training session begins Sept. 17, and runs through Nov. 12.  Registration for the fall session is open now and the deadline for applications is Aug. 28.

Workshop Leaders have developed a comprehensive program that provides prospective tutors the skills and resources to help them succeed. A background in education is not necessary – just a desire to tutor and a commitment to helping a student improve their skill in basic literacy or English as a Second Language over the period of one year after the completion of training.

If you are interested in becoming a tutor, contact the Literacy Volunteers office in the lower level of Westbrook’s Public Library by phone at 860-399-0280 or e-mail at jferrara@vsliteracy.org.

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Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith to Run Unopposed for Record 14th Term

Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith takes a break at his desk.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

A smiling Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith takes a break from his work for our photographer.  Photo by Jerome Wilson.

DEEP RIVER — Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith has been nominated for a record 14th term, and will again run unopposed on the Nov.3 town election ballot. Two-term incumbent Selectman Angus McDonald Jr. has been nominated for a new term as Smith’s running-mate, with Republican Selectman David Oliveria nominated for a fourth term on the three member board.

Slates nominated by the two parties appear to set up contested races for two seats on the board of finance, and one spot on the Region 4 Board of Education. Democrats have nominated incumbents George Eckenroth and Carmella Balducci for board of finance, with Republicans nominating Mark Grabowski and John Wichtowski for finance board.

Democrats nominated Susan Hollister for a two-year vacancy on the Region 4 board, with Republicans nominating appointed incumbent Lauri Wichtowski for the vacancy term. Republicans nominated incumbent James Olson for a full six-year term on the Region 4 board.

Smith, at 64 one of the longest serving municipal elected officials in Connecticut, said Tuesday he never considered stepping aside this year, “I love what I do, it’s like my extended family.” Smith noted, “Keeping taxes down as much as we can,” and a firehouse renovation and expansion project are priorities for the next two years.

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, 2001, and 2013. Town Republicans have not nominated a candidate for first selectman since 2005.

Three incumbent town office holders are uncontested for new terms, including Republican Town Clerk Amy Macmillian Winchell, first elected in 2009, Democratic Tax Collector Lisa Bbibbiani, also first elected in 2009, and long-time Republican Town Treasurer Tom Lindner.

Democrats nominated Tadria Cialgo, Tracy Dickson. and incumbent Miriam Morrissey for the local board of education Republicans nominated Imran Munawar, Paula Weglarz, and incumbent James Olson for the local school board.

Democrats nominated incumbent Leigh Balducci for board of assessment appeals, with Republicans nominating Thomas Alexa for board of assessment appeals.

Democrats nominated incumbents Alice Procter and Mary Maraschiello for library board of trustees, along with Linda Hall, a former member and chairwoman of the Region 4 school board.

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Chester Republicans Make No Nomination for First Selectman, Open Seat May be Uncontested in November

CHESTER — Town Republicans will not nominate a candidate for first selectman, a move that could leave new Democratic nominee Lauren Gister uncontested for the top job in the Nov. 3 vote. The partial slate endorsed by the Republican caucus would appear to set up the second consecutive town election where all positions on the lengthy ballot are uncontested.

Ten party members turned out for the caucus at town hall, including Doreen Joslow, a local businesswoman and planning and zoning commission member who said she had considered a run for the top job that is left open this year with the retirement of two-term Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan. But Joslow said the demands of the full-time job, and the relatively low annual salary currently set at $55,000, led her to conclude that “now is not the right time” for a candidacy.

Republicans nominated three-term incumbent Selectman Tom Englert for a new term. Englert served briefly as interim first selectman in 2011 after the departure of former Republican First Selectman Tom Marsh. The last Republican to be nominated and serve as first selectman, Marsh resigned in August 2011 to take a town manager job in Vermont.

Republicans nominated Jon Joslow for one of two ballot spots for board of finance. Incumbent Bruce Watrous, a former selectman, was nominated for a new term on the board of assessment appeals. Republicans nominated Steve Merola for a new term on the planning and zoning commission Kris Seifert and Bob Blair III were nominated for inland-wetlands commission. Blair is the grandson of former First Selectman Bob Blair, a Republican who held the top job from 1965 to 1989.  Mel Seifert, who also serves on the planning and zoning commission, was nominated for water pollution control authority.

Republicans did not nominate a candidate for Region 4 Board of Education, the local school board, zoning board of appeals, or library trustees, though town committee chairman Mario Gioco said the committee is still seeking candidates for open spots that could be placed on the ballot through submission of petition signatures by an Aug 12 deadline.

Gister, a local attorney and former Marine, was nominated for first selectman by town Democrats at a July 21 caucus, with Charlene Janecek, the current Democratic registrar of voters, nominated as the running-mate for board of selectmen. Joe Cohen, a Democratic town committee member who had expressed reservations about Gister as a first selectman nominee, has said he is considering a run for first selectman as a petition candidate, a move that would require submission of signatures equal to one percent of the total vote for first selectman in 2013 by an Aug. 5 deadline.

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Essex First Selectman Needleman Faces Election Challenge from Selectman Glowac

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (file photo)

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (file photo)

ESSEX — Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman’s bid for a third term will face an election challenge from Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac, a former first selectman who returned to the board in the town’s uncontested election of 2013.

Needleman and Glowac were nominated for the Nov. 3 ballot at party nominating sessions Wednesday. Needleman will be running with two-term incumbent Democratic Selectwoman Stacia Libby.

Glowac is running with selectman candidate Phil Beckman, a former U.S. Navy officer who retired from the service last year.

Needleman, 63, is a local businessman who served four terms on the board of selectmen from 2003-2011 with former Democratic First Selectman, now State Representative Phil Miller. Needleman won the top job in 2011, defeating Republican nominee Bruce MacMillian on a 1,415-993 vote. He was unopposed by town Republicans for a second term in 2013.

Selectman Bruce Glowac

Selectman Bruce Glowac. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

But the uncontested election of 2013 also brought Glowac back to the board as the minority Republican selectman. Glowac, also 63 and a lifelong resident, had served as first selectman from 1991-1995, later assuming the job of director of facilities for Region 4 schools. Glowac, addressing about 25 Republicans at the caucus, said one key reason he is running is to give town voters a choice on the ballot, avoiding the uncontested town elections that occurred in 2013 and also in 2007. “It’s a special time and it is important to give our residents a choice on the ballot,” he said, adding that uncontested elections for top policy-making positions, “… are unhealthy to the process and do a disservice to our community.”

Glowac said the role of town government is to “direct and control change, adding, “It needs to be done with extreme care so we don’t lose the qualities that we love in Essex.” Glowac said he would retire from the Region 4 job at year’s end if he is elected first selectman,

Needleman said he is proud of the Democratic record over the last 12 years, and “loves” the job of first selectman. “It allows you to touch people’s lives and make a real difference,” he said. Both nominees promised a positive campaign, and each praised their rival. Needleman said Glowac is “a terrific guy and a huge help on the board of selectmen,” adding the current board “is a terrific working board and I’ll do what I have to do to make that continue.” Glowac said he respects Needleman and has tried to work with he and Libby over the past two years.

Democrats nominated incumbents Fred Vollono and Donald Mesite for new terms on the board of finance. Mesite was appointed to the board in December 2013 after the former board chairman, Democrat Jim Francis was elected town treasurer. Republicans nominated Geri MacMillian and former Selectman Vince Pacileo for the finance board. Pacileo, who works as director of administrative services for the Town of Stonington, served on the board of selectmen from 2003-2009, and was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for 33rd Senate in 2008 and 36th House in 2012.

Democrats nominated incumbent Jennifer Clark for a new six-year term on the Region 4 Board of Education. Republicans nominated Mary Louise Till, a retired teacher who is also a practicing attorney, for the Region 4 seat. Democrats nominated incumbent board Chairman Lon Seidman for the local board of education, with Republicans nominating incumbent D.G. Fitton for the local board, where elections are uncontested.

Democrats nominated Mark Bombaci and former member Richard Helmecki for board of assessment appeals. Republicans nominated Bruce MacMillian and Keith Russell for board of assessment appeals.

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Needleman States Priorities for Possible Third Term as Essex First Selectman

Selectman Stacia Libby stands with First Selectman Norman Needleman.

Selectman Stacia Libby stands with First Selectman Norman Needleman.

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

New Public Works in Essex: Several Projects Already Complete …

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

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman holds his treasured grandson.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman holds his treasured grandson.

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

… Others Still on the Agenda

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

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

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

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

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

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Chester Democrats Nominate Lauren Gister for First Selectman, Charlene Janececk for Selectman

Atty. Lauren Gister

Atty. Lauren Gister

CHESTER — Democrats Tuesday nominated Laruen Gister for the open first selectman position, with Charlene Janecek, the party registrar of voters, as the running-mate for board of selectmen.

Both seats on the three-member board, controlled by Democrats since 2011, were open after the incumbents declined to seek new terms in the Nov. 3 vote.

Two-term Democratic First Selectman Edmund Meehan formally advised the Democratic Town Committee in June that he would not seek a new term. Selectman Lawrence Sypher, first elected in 2009, also declined to run again.

Gister, a local attorney and 25-year member of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Janececk, were nominated on a unanimous voice vote from the approximately 70 Democrats that turned out for the caucus held at the Chester Meeting House. Gister had been endorsed by the Chester Democratic Town Committee earlier this month. But comments made in the nominating speech for the position indicated there had been some questions and possible objections to Gister’s nomination.

In nominating Gister, David Fitzgibbons claimed there had been an effort to “swiftboat,” her possible candidacy in the days preceding the caucus. The term is a reference to Republican backed attacks on Democratic nominee John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign. He claimed the actions were damaging to the party and the town while praising Gister’s experience as a Marine and ability to “lead us forward with compassion.”

Fitzgibbons was clearly referring to a letter published in a local weekly from Joe Cohen, a town committee member. In the letter published last week, Cohen contends that Gister lacks government and managerial experience, does not own property in Chester, and has not voted in recent elections. Cohen, a public relations consultant and former newspaper reporter, was rumored to be planning a caucus challenge to Gister’s nomination. But Cohen, who was present Tuesday, did not put his name in nomination at the caucus.

Gister said after the nomination that she was expecting a challenger from Cohen. She said “ugly statements” before the caucus had referred to personal problems she faced and overcame in recent years, including a divorce and subsequent foreclosure on her property in town.

Gister, 56, is a mother of four children, ages 14-31 Gister said she was born in California, but moved to Connecticut at age 14 and graduated from Hall High School in West Hartford.. A 19-year resident who maintains a law practice in town, Gister said she was approached by town committee members about a possible candidacy earlier this month.

Cohen said after the caucus that he is hoping other candidates emerge for the first selectman position over the next two weeks to provide town voters with a contest. Cohen said he is “pondering” a position run as a petition candidate, but is unlikely to challenge Gister’s nomination in a Democratic primary. He offered no apologies for his letter to the editor about Gister. “Telling the truth and raising concerns about legitimate issues is not in any way character assassination.” he said.

Democrats also nominated a slate of mostly incumbents for other positions on the municipal election ballot. Lori Ann Clymas, currently serving on the board of finance, was nominated for a six-year term on the Region 4 Board of Education. Incumbent Jennifer Rannestad was nominated for a new term on the board of finance.

Incumbents Errol Horner and Keith Scherber were nominated for new full terms on the planning and zoning commission, with incumbent Peter Zanardi nominated for a two-year term on the commission. New candidate Jacqueline Stack was nominated for planning and zoning commission alternate. Incumbents Maria Scherber and David Fitzgibbons were nominated for local board of education, along with new candidates John Stack and John Ropiak.

Incumbent Mark Borton was nominated for a new term on the zoning board of appeals, incumbent Kim Senay was nominated for a new term on the inland wetlands commission, and incumbent James Pease was nominated for a new term on the water pollution control authority. Incumbent Sandy Senior-Dauer and Karin Badger were nominated for library board of trustees.

Republicans hold their nominating caucus Monday. No candidates have announced for the Republican nomination for first selectman. Cohen, or any other possible challengers, face an Aug. 5 deadline to submit signatures to run as a petition candidate.

Aug. 12 is the deadline for primary petitions.

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9 Town Transit Unveils New Slogan      

AREAWIDE — This spring, 9 Town Transit (9TT) asked the public to help with a new slogan for the region’s bus system.  After reviewing the nearly 50 submissions, the district now has a new tag line.

“We wanted something that conveyed the impact public transit has on people’s lives.” explains 9TT Chairperson Leslie Strauss, “We think ‘connecting your Connecticut’ does just that.”

The winning entry came from Alejandro Callirgos, a local freelance copywriter.   He stumbled across the contest on Google.  “I liked the idea of public transportation that connects so many Connecticut towns and neighbors”, explains Callirgos.

The district plans to use the new slogan to help promote public transit, and will use it on most marketing materials.  As the winner, Callirgos received forty transit ride tickets which he will be donating to a local charity to make transportation a little easier for those in need.

9 Town Transit provides service to all parts of Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook, with connections to New Haven, New London and Middletown. All services are open to the general public.  Additional information, route maps and schedules are available online at www.9towntransit.com or by calling 9 Town Transit at 860-510-0429.

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Essex Rotary Club Supports Wide Variety of Local, International Needs

Rotary Club of Essex donates funds to the Essex Library for the artwork project.  From left to right: Stephen Brinkmann, Rotary Club Treasurer;  Jessica Branciforte, Head of Children’s and Youth Services and Richard Conroy, Library Director.

From left to right: Stephen Brinkmann, Rotary Club Treasurer; Jessica Branciforte, Head of Children’s and Youth Services and Richard Conroy, Library Director gather for a photo while Rotary Club of Essex donates funds to the Essex Library for the artwork project.

ESSEX — The Rotary Club of Essex recently provided funds to the Essex Library project for displaying artwork. The project’s objective is to provide a venue for local artists in support of the library’s mission to be “the community center for lifelong learning and cultural achievement”.

Rotary’s fund raising efforts provide support for many local endeavors.  In addition to the library, Rotary has recently provided funds to Essex Social Services, Essex Tree Committee, Valley Regional Interact Club, Valley Regional High School Musical, Valley Shore YMCA, Cub Scout Cub Pack 4, and the Ivoryton Playhouse.

Rotary also has an international focus. In the past year, the Rotary Club of Essex has made contributions to the Brazilian and American Youth Cultural Exchange, Simply Smiles for latrines in Oaxaca Mexico, Sister Cities Essex Haiti to help purchase a generator for the library in Deschapelles, the Rural Liberian Healthcare and Development Initiative, and through Shelterboxes USA has contributed for shelter and supplies to Vanuatu and Nepal after they suffered natural disasters.

Shad baking around the fire.

Shad baking around the fire.

The major fundraising project that enables Rotary Club of Essex contributions is the annual Shad Bake held the first Saturday in June, conducted in partnership with the Connecticut River Museum on the shore of the Connecticut River.  Shad is prepared around an open fire.  Also served are clams, chicken and hot dogs.

The event has become well known since its inception in 1960.  This year’s attendees came from local communities as well as more distant places such as New York, Vermont, Massachusetts,  New Hampshire, and as far away as Nevada.

In addition to ticket tales, a major source of income is provided by “sponsors” of the event.  This year’s sponsors were Gowrie Group; Joseph Shea in honor of Daniel Edward Wolff; Guilford Savings Bank; Essex Savings Bank/Essex Financial Services; Tower Laboratories; AJ Shea Construction; A&S Boatworks; The JECM Foundation; Benin Management; BrandTech Scientific, Inc.; Clark Group; Emme & Jonathon Deland; Jeffrey Mehler, CFP LLC; Middle Cove Marina; Winthrop Construction; Essex Marine Group, LLC; Middlesex Hospital; Peck & Ficarra, Attorneys at Law; Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home; Safety Zone; Gerald Tarre; Northwestern Mutual Financial Network; and Wells Fargo.

Supplies for the event were contributed by Joseph Shea, Clark Group, Essex Meadows; Essex Lions Club; CT Rental; and Ashleigh’s Garden.

For anyone wishing to learn more about Rotary, the Rotary Club of Essex website can be accessed at http://www.rotaryclubofessex.com/.

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Country School Students Fund Well in Uganda with Support from Local Community

Joseph Coyne presents a Run Well t shirt from the school's 5K fundraiser to Jordan Rizza, publisher of Coastal Connecticut magazine. The magazine invited Joseph to speak at a recent VIP reception during a Grassy Strip Music Series concert, where The Country School's well project was the featured nonprofit.

Joseph Coyne presents a Run Well t shirt from the school’s 5K fundraiser to Jordan Rizza, publisher of Coastal Connecticut magazine. The magazine invited Joseph to speak at a recent VIP reception during a Grassy Strip Music Series concert, where The Country School’s well project was the featured nonprofit.

MADISON, CT – Following a full year of fundraising, and with generous help from the local community, students at The Country School recently announced that they had raised enough money to underwrite the creation of a well to provide clean drinking water in Kaberamaido, Uganda.

The successful conclusion of the fundraising effort, a partnership with the Madison nonprofit Call To Care Uganda, means construction can begin this summer. The well will be based at the Odongai Primary School and will provide clean water for as many as 1,500 people, including students at the school and others who live near it. The TCS well will mark the 28th well Call To Care Uganda has dug since its founding in 2007.

The Country School’s well effort began last fall after Joseph Coyne, an 8th Grader and member of the Student Leadership Committee, learned about the work of Call To Care Uganda (www.calltocareuganda.org). In addition to the obvious health benefits, Joseph discovered that a well would mean that children – primarily girls – could remain in school, rather than having to spend several hours each day walking miles back and forth to deliver potable water to their families.

Knowing that The Country School has a strong service learning component, Joseph suggested that his school embark on a well project with Call To Care Uganda, both as a way for Country School students to “serve their communities and the larger world,” as the school mission statement calls upon them to do, and so students could learn about children in other parts of the world.

Joseph Coyne, the student leader on the fundraising project to construct a well in Uganda, with his mother Beth Coyne, Dean of Student Life at The Country School, and Martha Hoffman, founder of Call to Care Uganda.

Joseph Coyne, the student leader on the fundraising project to construct a well in Uganda, with his mother Beth Coyne, Dean of Student Life at The Country School, and Martha Hoffman, founder of Call to Care Uganda.

The full cost of the well is $8,500, and so it was an ambitious undertaking for  students at a PreSchool-8th Grade school, but Joseph and his Service Committee colleagues were confident it could be done. Starting in September, they held a series of fundraisers, from a school wide-coin collection to sales of Ugandan jewelry and dress down day fundraisers. This spring, they organized a 5K run on campus, attracting scores of local runners and inspiring several local businesses to serve as sponsors.

By the end of the school year, they had raised $5,353. With a little over $3,000 still to go, they were considering their options when they were invited by Coastal Connecticut magazine to be the featured nonprofit at the first Grassy Strip Concert of the summer, a performance by Christine Ohlman at the Madison Beach Hotel. During the concert, students sold jewelry and collected donations, and Joseph delivered a speech as part of a VIP reception.

The evening raised close to $1,300, but students still had a gap to close.  Shortly after the concert, they heard from Jordan Rizza, publisher of Coastal Connecticut, who told them the magazine would cover the balance so they can officially proclaim, “Well done!” Construction of the well is expected to begin this month.

The Country School is extremely grateful to Coastal Connecticut, to sponsors of the 5K run (Zane’s Cycles; Dr. Laura Miller, DDS; Bershtein, Volpe, and McKeon P.C.; Group Insurance Associates; Woodbridge Running Company; and Barndoor Lighting Outfitters), to the countless individuals who made donations, and to our partners in this initiative, Call To Care Uganda, and its founder, Martha Hoffman, who visited The Country School repeatedly throughout the year to share news from and information about her program, students at Odongai, and Uganda.

Hoffman also helped Country School students initiate a pen pal program with Odongai students, and last fall, Country School students held a shoe drive, collecting 600 pairs of new and gently used shoes to send to their partner school. Recently, Hoffman forwarded photographs of Odongai students wearing their new shoes. The next photo Country School students hope to see their pen pals drinking clean water from their new well.

Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent day school serving students in PreSchool through Grade 8. At The Country School, a rigorous academic program is accompanied by a commitment to hands-on learning, a dynamic STEAM curriculum (integrated science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), a focus on the whole child, and service learning. The Country School prepares students to meet the future with confidence, encouraging them to reach their highest, both in school and in life. Learn more at www.thecountryschool.org.

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Vista Launches Annual ‘Put Vista on the Map’ Facebook Campaign

Vista kicked off its annual 'Put Vista On The Map' campaign at Family Day on July 11.

Vista kicked off its annual ‘Put Vista On The Map’ campaign at Family Day on July 11.

AREAWIDE — Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is on a mission to travel the globe this summer through its annual Put Vista On The Map Facebook photo campaign.

For the campaign, Vista families, friends, staff and community members are invited to submit photos of themselves wearing Vista wristbands in locations worldwide during their summer travels. It’s a fun and creative way to raise awareness for Vista, both at home and abroad.

Supporters put Vista “on the map” in all 50 states and in 27 countries during last year’s campaign.  Destinations included Australia, Morocco, the Czech Republic, India, Tunisia and South Korea.

The goal of this year’s campaign—which runs through Labor Day— is to once again put Vista on the map in all 50 states and in 35 countries. Another goal of the campaign is to reach 1,000 Facebook likes by Labor Day.

To Put Vista On The Map, send photos to vpereira@vistavocational.org.

For questions, or to request free Vista wristbands, contact Vanessa Pereira at (860) 399-8080 or vpereira@vistavocational.org.

Follow this year’s campaign by liking Vista on Facebook!

Based in Madison and Westbrook, CT, 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, visit www.vistavocational.org

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State Bond Commission Set to Approve $3.8 Million Loan Tuesday for Essex Place Centerbrook

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

AREAWIDE — State Representative Philip Miller (D-Chester/Deep River/Essex/Haddam) is reporting the state Bond Commission is scheduled to approve funding to provide a $3,824,718 loan to Essex Place Centerbrook, LLC, to assist with construction of 22 elderly rental units in Essex.

The funding, provided under the Housing Trust Fund, is for 30 years at 1 percent.

“I am pleased the Bond Commission is set to approve this funding request to continue to the development of affordable apartment rentals,” Miller said. “This is an important investment in our community and I appreciate the Governor’s support for not only this project, but for making affordable housing a statewide priority.”

Janice Atkeson, Essex Housing Authority Chair, welcomed the news that the funding was on the Bond Commission’s agenda for approval saying, “I want to express my gratitude to Representative Miller and everyone who worked to make this happen. We are looking forward to the vote.”

The special meeting of the State Bond Commission will be Tuesday, July 28, at 10:30 a.m. in Room 1-E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

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Fifteen Vista Students Embark On New Journey After July 10 Graduation Ceremony

A time to celebrate -- Vista graduates (from left to right) Casey Cincotta, Max Gebert and Danielle Garley share a smile.

A time to celebrate — Vista graduates (from left to right) Casey Cincotta, Max Gebert and Danielle Garley are all smiles after the ceremony.

WESTBROOK — One door closed and another opened recently for the 15 graduates of Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center, a nationally accredited non-profit education program for individuals with disabilities.

Bob Brown, Dana Butler, Kathleen Cassella, Casey Cincotta, Cody Clark, Alex Drago, Sarah Gabow, Danielle Garley, Max Gebert, Jason Jakubovic, Jackie McMahon, Kyle Palubicki, Lan Tagg, Matt Tarnell and Mickey Teubert graduated on July 10 in a ceremony held at Westbrook High School. Over 250 people attended the ceremony, including State Representative Noreen Kokoruda (R-101) and keynote speaker Lisa Mikis, former publisher of Shore Publishing in Madison.

Miksis, who came to know Vista and many of its students and members throughout her career with Shore Publishing, offered the graduates encouraging words of wisdom as they start the next chapters in their lives.

“You all worked hard to be sitting on this stage today. Be confident in what you have learned and achieved and in who you are,” said Miksis, now Vice President and Director of Marketing for Respond Systems. “As you step out into the world of tomorrow, know that all of your friends and family at Vista, and so many of us you meet out on the street in the community, are here to help you succeed.”

The Class of 2015: front row, (seated) from left to right are Alex Drago, Kyle Palubicki, Max Gebert, Jason Jakubovic, Bob Brown, Sarah Gabow and Lan Tagg. Back row (standing) from left to right are Mickey Teubert, Cody Clark, Kathleen Cassella, Danielle Garley, Matt Tarnell, Casey Cincotta, Jackie McMahon and Dana Butler.

The Class of 2015. Front row (seated) from left to right are Alex Drago, Kyle Palubicki, Max Gebert, Jason Jakubovic, Bob Brown, Sarah Gabow and Lan Tagg. Back row (standing) from left to right are Mickey Teubert, Cody Clark, Kathleen Cassella, Danielle Garley, Matt Tarnell, Casey Cincotta, Jackie McMahon and Dana Butler.

Graduation is a monumental occasion that acknowledges the achievements of Vista students who have reached a level of independence and, as a result, graduate from Vista’s Entrance Program— a residential post-secondary program.

Through the Entrance Program, students receive hands-on life skills instruction, vocational training, support and guidance, helping them develop the skills and behaviors needed for adulthood. The next step in their journeys involves living in their own homes or apartments within local communities in Vista’s service area as members of Vista’s Outreach Program.

“We’re so proud on the shoreline of these graduates,” said Kokoruda, whose district covers Madison and Durham. “Whenever I come to the Vista graduations, I know what real perseverance is with the families, with the friends, with the staff— but most importantly, with the graduates.”

In addition to a Vista Diploma, each graduate received a commendation certificate signed by Congressman Joe Courtney (D-2).

The graduation festivities ended with a reception at Chamard Vineyards in Clinton. There, each graduate received gift baskets complete with a cookbook and various housewarming items for their new homes or apartments.

Based in Madison and Westbrook, CT, 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, visit www.vistavocational.org

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Lyme-Based Julia Balfour Creative Agency Receives 14 Connecticut Art Directors Club Awards

LYME — The Julia Balfour LLC creative agency located in Lyme, Conn., has been honored with 14 Connecticut Art Directors Club awards.

Julia Balfour, LLC has been honored with 14 Connecticut Art Directors Club awards for design projects undertaken by the company in the past year. The works include Exhibition Kiosks, Interactive Apps, Social Media Campaigns, Websites, Logos, and Invitation designs.

Work honored for the following nine partners were:

Gold Awards

StoptheStigmaCT_Facebook

  • Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network “Stop the Stigma” Campaign – Social Media (see image above)
  • Mystic Aquarium Exploration Wild Kiosks – Educational and Museum Information Design
  • Mystic Aquarium Exploration Wild Kiosks – Interactive App (see image above)

Silver Awards

  • New England Society of Healthcare Communications Conference Logo – Logo System
  • High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Holiday Market Series – Announcements / Invitations / Greeting Cards
  • High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Symphony Invitation – Announcements / Invitations / Greeting Cards

Excellence Awards

  • Hartford HealthCare Web Style Guide – Employee Publications
  • Florence Griswold Museum Website – Cultural & Educational Websites
  • High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Fall Newsletter – Pro Bono Design
  • High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Symphony Poster – Poster Series
  • James Merrill House Website – Cultural & Educational Websites
  • Dreamup Toys Microsite – E-commerce Websites
  • Structural Graphics Google Adwords Landing Page – Online Promotion
  • Twin Networks Presentation Folder – Brochures / Folders

Julia Balfour, founder and Creative Director of the agency, comments, “I’m so proud of the work our team has done over the past year. We’ve gone from a one-woman shop to a 15-person team in four years. The work we’ve produced, this year in particular, demonstrates the passion, strategy, and innovation that this team has poured into their work. And of course we couldn’t do any of it without our fabulous clients.” she said.

Julia Balfour, LLC is a full service creative agency specializing in design, strategy, innovation, and social media. Located in Lyme, CT, the studio works within Healthcare, Finance, Travel & Tourism, Non-Profit, Retail, Beauty and Museum & Fine Art.

The Connecticut Art Directors Club seeks to promote standards of excellence in the field of creative design within the state. Their yearly awards show brings together and highlights the exceptional design work of the past year.

For more information about Julia Balfour, LLC, visit www.juliabalfour.com and/or www.facebook.com/juliabalfourllc

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Estuary Transit District Recognized by CIRMA for Making Risk Management an Organizational Priority

AREAWIDE — The Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency (CIRMA) presented a 2015 Risk Management Achievement Award to the Estuary Transit District for making risk management an organizational priority. Their efforts, led by the District’s Director Joseph Commerford, created a culture focused on the safety of its employees and passengers.

The District established broad-based programs to reduce loss costs, including creating a formal Return-to-Work program, performing facility assessments, reviewing incident reports to identify root causes, and revising procedures.

The achievement award was presented to the Estuary Transit District at CIRMA’s May 22 awards ceremony. CIRMA, the state’s leading municipal insurer, is a member-owned and governed organization that works to empower municipalities, public schools, and local public agencies to better manage risk.

David Demchak, Senior Vice President of CIRMA, said to the audience of almost 100 municipal and school leaders, “Our awards program acknowledges the organizational and the personal commitment our members have made to protect their fellow employees from injury, protect property, and to keep Connecticut’s communities safe.”

CIRMA’s mission is to reduce losses and their costs by improving its members’ understanding of risk and the ways to manage it. CIRMA’s Risk Management Achievement Awards program was begun in 1981 to recognize the risk management and safety initiatives that prevent accidents and make positive improvements in Connecticut communities. The program has expanded over the years, recognizing achievements in such areas as property management and sustained results. The program provides CIRMA members a forum in which they can share ideas and learn new methods to reduce losses.

CIRMA, owned and governed by its members, operates two risk-sharing pools: the Workers’ Compensation Pool and the Liability-Automobile-Property Pool. It also provides risk management services to self- insured municipalities and local public agencies. Today, CIRMA’s membership includes over 85 percent of the state’s municipalities and has Premiums of $90 million and Assets under management of over $360 million.

For more information about CIRMA’s Risk Management Achievement Award Program, contact George Tammaro, CIRMA Risk Management Supervisor, at gtammaro@ccm-ct.org, or visit www.CIRMA.org.

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Nature Conservancy, East Haddam Preserve 133 Acres of Priority Lower CT River Lands

LogoEAST HADDAM — A project providing a key addition to a 10-mile conservation corridor has been successfully completed by The Nature Conservancy.  Protection of more than 130 acres of forest will connect two popular conservation and outdoor recreation areas, while safeguarding three-quarters of a mile of streams and wetlands that feed into one of New England’s most important natural resources: the Connecticut River.

“Protecting the forests and wetlands that border Connecticut River tributaries benefits the health of the entire lower Connecticut River, as well as everything—and everyone—that relies on it,” said Sarah Pellegrino, land protection and strategies manager for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut.

“In this case, the newly protected land will help preserve water quality for brook trout, migratory fish and mussels; provide habitat for migratory birds and other animals and secure beautiful outdoor spots where current and future generations can hike, birdwatch and simply get out in the woods,” Pellegrino said.

Located within the basin of the Eightmile River, a Connecticut River tributary, the acreage includes two separate acquisitions on which the town of East Haddam and The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut collaborated. Both acquisitions were awarded Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition grants from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). Both areas will be open to the public for passive recreation.

The acquisitions are adjacent to the Conservancy’s Burnham Brook Preserve, which was the first land protected by the Conservancy in the entire Connecticut River watershed, starting in 1960.

Conservation of one of these properties—the 113-acre Lefebvre property—accomplished a long-standing Conservancy goal of connecting Devil’s Hopyard State Park and Burnham Brook Preserve. It adds to a roughly 10-mile conservation corridor that extends to the confluence of the Eightmile and Connecticut rivers.

This project was awarded a DEEP open space grant of $263,700 towards the total purchase price. The property will be jointly owned and managed between the Conservancy and the town.

The second acquisition—the 20-acre Zeleznicky property—is a 20-acre parcel that supports mixed hardwoods and contains over 1,000 feet of Burnham Brook. To protect this land, the Conservancy and East Haddam jointly applied for a DEEP open space grant and were awarded $78,000 towards the purchase price.  The town will own and manage the property.

“These acquisitions were possible only because of the patience and commitment of willing land owners and of the conservation partners who played a role,” Pellegrino said “We’re extremely pleased both of these properties will remain as natural areas.”

Editor’s Note: The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.  To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org/connecticut.

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St. John’s Episcopal Church in Essex Partners with Middlesex Habitat for Humanity

logoESSEX — St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, and Middlesex Habitat for Humanity have announced a partnership in mission and ministry.  This partnership represents a shared, mutual relationship between the people of St. John’s and Middlesex Habitat.

St. John’s has pledged spiritual, physical, and fiscal support, and Middlesex Habitat has pledged to send representatives to the parish to speak of their vision, to share their needs and plans for the upcoming future, and to provide helpful information to communicate throughout the congregation about their work and the lives that are being changed as a result.

“It is an honor and wonderful endorsement of our work to partner with such a vibrant and respected church. Their support is greatly needed as we begin construction on our thirteenth house,” said Sarah Bird, Middlesex Habitat for Humanity Executive Director.

In addition, the members of St. John’s will help on the work site to construct the home. David Evangelisti, liaison between the St. John’s and Habitat said, “It is these relationships that give our outreach programs the ‘hands on’ characteristic that we treasure and which helps us make a tangible difference in our community. Middlesex Habitat embodies God’s love put into action, which is a central tenet of our Church.”

For 225 years, St. John’s Church has been a house of worship in the Episcopal tradition for the citizens of Essex and the surrounding communities of the lower Connecticut River Valley. Today the parish has over 400 active members under the ministry of Rector, The Rev. Dr. Jonathan H. Folts.

Founded in 1996, Middlesex Habitat for Humanity of CT., Inc. is an independently operated affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a non-profit 501(c)3, Christian, ecumenical housing ministry.  Its sole mission is to build or renovate simple, decent, affordable houses in partnership with eligible families and its objective is to eliminate substandard housing in Middlesex County, CT, one house at a time.  The organization seeks to make decent housing a matter of conscience and action. 

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Artists for World Peace Host 3rd Annual Dance for Peace

Dance For Peace
OLD SAYBROOK — Artists for World Peace will present its 3rd Annual Dance for Peace on Saturday, June 27, at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (The Kate), 300 Main St., Old Saybrook, Conn. (860-510-0473).

A reception and pre-show performance begins at 7 p.m.; show time begins at 8 p.m.

Eight celebrated local and regional dance companies will be featured, as well as the International Peace Belt.

Since 2003, the Peace Belt has traveled to over 28 countries on five continents, and has been worn during hundreds of artistic performances and sacred ceremonies.

Join Artists for World Peace as they celebrate the creative spirit in the name of peace.

For online tickets, visit <http://www.katharinehepburntheater.org/blog/box-office/http://www.katharinehepburntheater.org/blog/box-office/
or call The Kate Box Office at 877-503-1286.

For more information about Artists for World Peace, visit: http://www.artistsforworldpeace.org/ or contact Wendy at 860-685-1789

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Valley Regional’s Class of 2015 Enjoys Perfect Weather for Graduation Ceremony

Hat_toss

The VRHS Class of 2015 celebrates graduation with the traditional hat toss. Photo by J. Ferrucci.

REGION 4 — Congratulations to the Valley Regional High School Class of 2015!

Adams, Paulina
Alvord, Julianna
Anderson, Lily
Anderson, Matthew
Atkinson, Patrick
Badalamenti, Sergio
Baldwin, Amanda
Bartolotta, Christian
Bauman, Keegan
Berardis, David Joseph
Boland, Garrett
Boland, William Tyler
Bosco, Giulianna
Bott, Scarlet
Bouregy, Elizabeth
Bourez, Benjamin
Bradbury, David
Brooks, Hailey R.
Burgess, Justin
Campbell, Kenna
Capezzone, Marina
Carey, Sarah Sonora
Carlson, Indigo
Carney, Melissa
Cassells, Alexander
Castelli, Michael
Castelli, Sara
Cayer, Jillian
Cheverier, Justin
Cheverier, Tyler
Clapp, Stephanie
Clark, Benjamin
Clark, Ely
Cole, Kevin
Connor, Mikayla
Craco, Justin
Czenthe, Mackenzie
D’Agostino, Alexander
Dalton, Matthew
Daniels, Roman
Dare, Jake
Dee, Philip
DeJesus, Alexander B.
Diley, Patricia
Dilger, Alexandra
Dione, Dakota
Dione, Donald
diTommaso, Joseph
Doran, Brittany Anne
Doran, Julia Marie
Everett, Lacey
Fasulo, Kyle
Feola, Kelly
Ferrucci, Benjamin
Figuenick, Daniel
Flynn, Neve
Gabriel, Andrew
Gardner, MaryHope
Gephart, Charlotte
Giangrande, Benjamin
Girnius, Alexander
Gleason, Kristin
Gonzalez, Siany Nicol
Greatsinger, Brooke
Hansen, Julia
Harger, Leah
Harris, Austin
Hartson, Samantha
Haughton, Alex
Holdmeyer, Madison
Hotz, Emily W
Hunter, Tyler
Jaillet, Eric
Jean Pierre, Christopher
Joia, Ashley
Jones, Ashley Shana
Jones, Peter
Joy, Brennan
Karg, Austin
Kaufmann, Karl
Kelly, Caitlyn
Kilby, Kristen
Klein, Haleigh
Kobe, Brendan
Kohary, Marina
Kollmer, John
Korcak, Mackenzie
LaCasse, Paige
Leffingwell, Daniel
Lenz, Josef
Lewis, Emily
Libert, Emilie
Linfesty, Hunter
Longo, Austin
Longo, Bailey
Lowrey, Hunter
Lucarelli, April
MacWhinney, Garrett
Makowicki, John Evan
Marroquin, Christian
Martin, Jeremy
Matthiessen, Zoe
McCarthy, Britta
McCluskey, Lara
McConnell, Tyler
McKosky, Samantha
Merola, Gregory
Miles, Cassandra N.
Millard, Emily
Mitchel, Amanda
Mitchel, Connor
Morris, Fallon
Morris, Gabe
Morris, Megan
Mueller, Elias
Myers, Patrick
Nelson, Samantha
Nelson, Simone
Nettleton, James
Nevins, Jack
Norton, Julian
Nucolo, Anthony
Nystrom, Kristian
Osborne, William Floyd
Osborne-Lara, Fernando
Pace, Christopher
Palmer, Elesa
Patterson, Brian
Paulson, Maxwell
Pelletier, Dylan
Perron-Warzecha, Christian
Peterson, Sean
Petroka, Ethan
Riccitelli, Holly
Rodriguez, Margaret
Russell, Gretchen
Russell, Thomas
Russo, Daniel
Russo, Spencer
Rutan, Cole
Ryan, Megan
Sandmann, Kaitlin
Saunders, Tyler
Senning, Hunter
Shepard, Myranda
Shepherd, Kevin
Smith, Brendan
Smith, Evan
Smith, George B
Sopneski, Leah
Splittgerber, Christian
Stevens, Benedict
Sticht, Meagan
Suedmeier, Tristan T
Suplita, Quentin
Swartzell, Benjamin
Swerling, Brian
Taylor, Harrison
Taylor, Jenna
Termini, Ashley
Tiezzi, Jenna
Tiezzi, Troy
Tisdale, Jacob
Todd, Shawn
Toles, Elizabeth
Torres-Coello, Daniel J
Tuscano, Andrew
Wachtarz, Robert
Ward, Kelsey
Watts, Katharine
West, Joshua
Wichtowski, Alicia
Williams, Amanda
Winchell, Brian
Winslow, Morgan
Wolff, Abigail L.
Zuse, Amy

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Miller Applauds Historic Student Loan Rate Cut

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

AREAWIDE — State Representative Philip Miller (D-36th) is applauding a recent announcement by the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA) that it will offer a fixed interest rate of 4.95 percent for new student loans, down from its current rate of 6.75 percent.

The rate is also significantly lower than the upcoming Federal PLUS loan rate, which will be 6.84 percent, and is the lowest rate CHESLA has ever offered. CHESLA will also be increasing the maximum allowed debt-to-income ratio from 40% to 43%.

“This announcement by CHESLA is certainly good news for students over-burdened with large student loans, along with their parents,” Rep. Miller said. “Hopefully, this development should help make higher education more affordable to more students in our state.”

These money-saving changes follow legislative passage of House Bill 6907, which asked CHESLA to develop a plan to lower student loan interest rates and increase the maximum allowable debt-to-income ratio.

Rep. Miller said students and parents can contact CHESLA at www.chesla.org for additional information or call (800) 935-2275.

Editor’s Note: Philip Miller is state representative for the 36th Assembly District comprising the Towns of  Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam.

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Chester Village West Foundation Awards Scholarships to Ivoryton, Old Saybrook Residents

CHESTER – Three Chester Village West employees and three children of employees have each been awarded a $2,5000 scholarship from the Chester Village West Foundation, Inc. The scholarships will help these employees and their children continue their education at colleges and universities in Connecticut and beyond.

Jordan  and AnnMarie Saintilis

Ann Marie and Jordan Saintil

The scholarship recipients include Ivoryton resident Jordan Saintil and Old Saybrook resident Jack Conway.

Saintil is the son of Chester Village West kitchen staff member Anne Marie Saintil. He is entering his senior year at Endicott College, majoring in sports management and participating in a work intern program. Saintil’s dream is to obtain a position in management with the Boston Celtics.

Jack ConwayConway, the son of Chester Village West activities director Marcy Conway, is a fifth-year mechanical engineering student at the University of Connecticut. Conway, who works in a computer store, hopes to get a job in aeronautical engineering upon his graduation in 2016.

“Employees of Chester Village West do so much to make this community a great place to live – they are part of our extended family,” said Joan Galliher, a four-year resident and the foundation’s volunteer president. “Every year, residents express their appreciation by generously supporting the foundation’s scholarship program to help staff members – and their children – pursue their higher education goals.”

Created as not-for profit entity in 1998 by a group of Chester Village residents, over the past 17 years the Chester Village West Foundation has raised and provided scholarships to the community’s staff and their children, helping them to further their education beyond high school. Over the past few years, the individual scholarship awards have been gradually increased to the current $2,500 per person.

Other recipients of the Chester Village West Foundation’s 2015 scholarships are:

Killingworth resident Erin Fredericksen, a receptionist at Chester Village West and daughter of housekeeping staff member Debbie Fredericksen, is a senior majoring in biology at Central Connecticut State University.

East Hampton resident Max Nadelman, stepson of Chester Village West chef Will Dallas, has just been accepted at Northeastern University, where he will begin studies in business analytics and technology in its business school.

Killingworth resident Donald O’Boyle, a member of the Chester Village West dining room wait staff, is entering his fourth year at the University of Connecticut with a double major in electrical engineering and German.

East Haddam resident Jacob “Jake” Woodworth is a member of the Chester Village West dining room wait staff. He has been accepted for his freshman year at Cambpell University in North Carolina, where he will be majoring in homeland security.

Residents of the Chester Village West community make tax-deductible contributions to the Chester Village West Foundation Inc. on a monthly or annual basis. Employee candidates for the scholarships must work a minimum of 200 hours at Chester Village West during a calendar year. Chester Village West employees submit their applications, school transcripts and recommendations to the foundation’s committee on April 1 for review. Scholarships are awarded during a June ceremony for the recipients, their families and friends.

Located in historic Chester, Connecticut, Chester Village West gives independent-minded people a new way to experience retirement and live their lives to the fullest. Within a small community of private residences that offer convenience, companionship, service and security, Chester Village West enriches lives with a comprehensive program that enhances fitness, nutrition, active life, health and well-being.

Find out more at chestervillagewestlcs.com.

Visit the community on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChesterVillageWest.

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Region 4 School Board Declines Further Action on K-6 Regionalization Plan

REGION 4 — The Region 4 Board of Education voted Monday not to send the  kindergarten-sixth grade regionalization plan developed this year to a referendum vote in the district towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex.

The unanimous vote at a special meeting brings an inconclusive end to months of effort to draft and win support for a plan to regionalize the elementary schools in the three towns under a single elected board of education that would also direct the operation of Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School. The idea of regionalizing the elementary schools under a single school board has been under discussion for a decade, with supporters contending it would be the final step in standardizing all curriculum among the primary grades, while also bringing cost savings through administrative efficiencies and a simpler budget process.

But the method of dividing a combined Region 4 education budget including the elementary schools, which under current state law must be done based on the average daily membership of students from each town, raised concerns that one or more towns could face an abrupt and steep increase in its share of a combined education budget.

School board members had developed an inter-local agreement intended to address this issue that would have required Chester and Essex to transfer funds to Deep River to balance the budget shift. There were also concerns, particularly in Chester, that declining enrollment could lead to a closing of the Chester Elementary School, along with major shifts in grade assignments among the elementary schools.

These issues led the Chester Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance to issue a statement at the end of May expressing opposition to the current regionalization plan, and urging the school boards not to send it to a planned September referendum in the three towns. The regionalization plan would require voter approval from each town to become effective. A June 1 joint meeting of school board members and selectmen and finance board members from the three towns failed to resolve the lingering issues.

When the Region 4 board convened Monday. members had already prepared a brief written statement confirming the plan would not be brought to referendum this year. “Over the past several months, a number of community minded people worked very hard to develop a plan to make our outstanding school district even stronger”, it said.

“After hundreds of hours and over a dozen meetings, we have developed a plan that many of us believe would provide our kids with an even better education while making our governance structure more efficient. Although the Region 4 board believes that regionalization is in the best interests of our students, we have come to the conclusion that our communities have not reached a consensus ion this issue,” it concluded.

Region 4 Board Chairman Chris Riley said the research and planning done this year to prepare for full regionalization remains in hand, though there are no immediate plans to pursue the issue further at the present time.

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VRHS Musical Program Wins Major Awards at CT High School Music Theatre Gala

The cast of 'Band Geeks.'

The cast of ‘Band Geeks.’

Valley Regional High School’s (VRHS) Drama Program continues its tradition of performance excellence with the Valley Regional Musical Production (VRMP) of “Band Geeks,” receiving two notable awards, including the brand new ‘The Future of Theatre Award’ and the ‘Outstanding Graphic Design Award’ on June 1, at the Connecticut High School Music Theatre Awards gala held at the Palace Theatre in Waterbury, Conn.

scene_from_playIngrid Walsh, ‘Band Geeks’ Director, noted that the ‘The Future of Theatre Award,’ “… was newly created to inspire all to enter uncharted territories and, rather than doing the same shows, to try and produce some new works.”

On receiving the inaugural award, she said,  “We were thrilled.  As you know, something new — or change — is very hard to find a populace, as it is incredibly risky.  But, they recognized all of our efforts to raise ‘Band Geeks’ to the stage and deliver it with success.  We were truly honored and humbled to be recognized, especially because we all were so attached to the show.”

Walsh added, “We would like to send out a special thanks to the following people and companies that supported our ‘Outstanding Graphics Design Award’

  • C. Proctor of Essex Printing – assisted with posters and programs,
  • Whelen Engineering – printing of programs,
  • Casey O’Brien of Gull Associates Old Lyme – assisted with costuming,
  • Tiffany Hopkins – assisted with projection images,
  • Luther Moen, Ingrid Walsh, and projection students: Garrett Boland, Tesla Lowrey, Roman Daniels – assisted with side projection panel adjustments, and
  • Chris LeQuire and Brad Pitman of VHRS – assisted in creating newscast footage that tied the whole thing together to the end.

singerAdditionally, CHSMTA nominated VRMP’s ‘Band Geeks’ for three prominent awards:

  • Leading Actress – Maggie Walsh as Laura,
  • Outstanding Sound, and
  • Outstanding Chorus.

One hundred and twenty-one students from VRHS were involved in cast, crew, and pit to produce the newly released musical.  The involvement of students represents 20 percent of the entire school population, along with countless volunteer hours of the parents, teachers, and community direct commitment to this long-standing tradition of producing excellence in musicals in the Region 4 School District.  As always, the five-performance date and times of the musical were sold out early in our community.

As a surprise to all, the creators Tommy Newman and Gordon Greenberg of ‘Band Geeks’ drove in from New York City along with original Goodspeed Producers to view their final dress rehearsal in March.

The students attended the June 1 black-tie Gala at the Palace Theatre in Waterbury and performed “Lost in the Brass” one last time. Valley Regional High School was among 20 other Connecticut high schools involved in the event, which celebrates high school music theatre.

Editor’s Notes: See VRHS Performing Arts activities on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/VRHS.MusicBoosters/

See VRHS Band activities on http://vrhsband.weebly.com/

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Region 4 Board, VRHS Honors Top Ten Percent Seniors

REGION 4 — The Region 4 Board of Education and Valley Regional High School (VRHS) has honored the Top Ten percent ranking seniors who have achieved outstanding scholastic records.  A Senior Awards ceremony and reception was held Wednesday, June 3, in the VRHS auditorium.

The Top Ten percent senior students listed alphabetically are:

Julianna Grace Alvord — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Alvord, Ivoryton

David Joseph Berardis — son of Mr. and Mrs. David Berardis, Deep River

Giulianna Maria Bosco — daughter of Mrs. Mary Ann Cannella and Mr. Dominick Bosco, Deep River

Benjamin Steven Bourez — son of Mr. and Mrs. David Bourez, Chester

Indigo Jean Rollins Carlson — daughter of Mr. Jeffrey Carlson and Mrs. Jacque Rollins, Ivoryton

Dakota Rose Dione — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Dione, Deep River

Donald Parry Robert Dione — son of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Dione, Deep River

Daniel Joseph Figuenick III — son of Mrs. Daniel Figuenick and Mrs. Melissa Figuenick, Ivoryton

Elias C. Mueller — son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Mueller, Chester

Patrick Eugene Myers — son of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Myers, Essex

Holly Marie Riccitelli — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Riccitelli, Deep River

Margaret A. Rodriguez — daughter of Mr. Leonard Rodriguez and Mrs. Colleen Rodriguez, Essex

Megan Elizabeth Ryan — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Ryan, Ivoryton

Kaitlin Margaret Sandmann — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Sandmann, Essex

Benedict Novinski Robert Stevens — son of Mr. and Mrs. Gary Stevens, Essex

Jenna Taylor — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Bryan Taylor, Ivoryton

Jacob Michael Tisdale — son of Mr. Greg Tisdale and Mrs. Debbie Tisdale, Ivoryton

Abigail Louise Wolff — daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wolff

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Ivoryton Resident Awarded Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Medal

IVORYTON – Fairfield University’s 2015 Bellarmine Medal, awarded to the student with the highest academic average, was presented to Ashley Rose Paholski, of Ivoryton, Conn. She maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average throughout her undergraduate years at Fairfield.

Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., presented the medal to Paholski at the Jesuit institution’s 65th
commencement exercises held May 17.

Paholski earned a bachelor’s degree in English, with a concentration in Literature and Cultural Studies from the College of Arts &
Sciences. She minored in mathematics and education. She plans to attend Georgetown University Law School beginning this fall.

Fairfield University is a Jesuit University, rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than
5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 36 states, 47 foreign countries, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are enrolled in the University’s five schools. In the spirit of rigorous and sympathetic inquiry into all dimensions of human experience, Fairfield welcomes students from diverse backgrounds to share ideas and engage in open conversations. The University is located in the heart of a region where the future takes shape, on a stunning campus on the Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.

Image: Graduating senior Ashley Rose Paholski received Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Medal at the University’s 65th
commencement exercises.

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Old Saybrook HS Senior Nochera Partners with OSW & OS Park & Rec to Benefit Vista

spring camp_kids_playing

OLD SAYBROOK — More than two dozen boys and their families met in Clark Park this past Sunday to get ready for the 2015 football season.  The Old Saybrook-Westbrook (OSW) Youth Football Clinic is an annual event, but this year’s clinic was much more than spring training.
spring camp 1-1
Old Saybrook High School (OSHS) senior Sam Nochera chose the OSW clinic as his senior project and has directed all the proceeds to benefit the Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center where Nochera has been a volunteer since 2011.  Nochera was joined by several OSW coaches and a few of his OSW football buddies – Connor Eastman, a senior at Eastern Connecticut State University, Brendan McElhone, a junior at Western Connecticut State University, and Ethan Casberg, a fellow OSHS senior heading to the University of Connecticut in the fall.
spring_camp_huddle
The boys had a chance to train and try out the new tackling dummy while parents had the opportunity to talk to coaches and board members as wellas see the equipment and level of commitment to player safety.
Nochera chose the project to benefit the program he credits with teaching him dedication and perseverance.  “I want the kids to take away from my project that with hard work and perseverance they will be able to accomplish their goals whether on the football field or another facet of life. And that helping and giving back to something you truly support is always a good move.”
spring camp_group_pic
This coming fall Nochera starts his freshman year with a double major in International Relations and Business at Tulane University, La.
A second clinic will take place on Sunday, June 7, from 9 to 11 a.m.
For more information or to register, visit www.oldsaybrookrec.com
To donate, make checks payable to Vista with the notation Ed Gallant Financial Aid Fund.
To register for the 2015 OSW Football & Cheer season, visit www.oswyouthfootball.com.
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Roto Frank of America Hosts Manufacturer’s Meeting at Chester HQ

Chester First Selectman spoke at the event.

Chester First Selectman Ed Meehan gave welcoming remarks at the event.

CHESTER — Addressing the challenges of the growing availability of number of jobs with higher level manufacturers in the state and developing skilled workers to fill those positions was the focus of a special meeting for members of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Council on May 27, hosted by Roto Frank of America, Inc. at the company’s North American headquarters in Chester, CT.

Chris Demou (left) and Larry McHugh

Roto Frank of America President & CEO Chris Demou (left) and Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce President Larry McHugh

The well-attended event attracted more than a dozen manufacturing companies i nMiddlesex County, as well representatives from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. After welcoming remarks by Chester First Selectman Ed Meehan, Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce President Larry McHugh, and Roto Frank of America President & CEO Chris Dimou, attendees listened to presentations from members of the University of Connecticut and the German American Chamber of Commerce.

Lawrence Silbart

Lawrence Silbart

Lawrence K. Silbart, MPH, Ph.D., UConn’s Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives, discussed highlights of UConn’s Next Generation Connecticut, an initiative designed to expand educational opportunities, research, and innovation in the STEM disciplines at UConn over the next decade, which includes a new 125,000 square-foot Technology Park facility.

Anson Ma, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, in UConn’s Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department, addressed the audience on UConn’s additive manufacturing initiatives, with a focus on the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center and the learning opportunities for students in realizing the full potential of additive manufacturing for metals, plastics, and biomaterials.

Tom Dzimian, Director, Career Services of the German American Chamber of Commerce, discussed skills and innovation strategies that have been developed and used successfully in Germany and which can be used to strengthen U.S, manufacturing training programs.

Founded in 1979, Roto Frank of America, Inc. is a Chester, Connecticut-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.

Roto Frank of America offers solutions for North American and European hardware applications, has an extensive product line including its renowned X-DRIVETM casement and awning window systems, sash locks, window-opening- control-devices, sliding patio door systems, and European window and door hardware, among others.

For more information, visit www.rotohardware.com

The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce is the largest Chamber in the state, with more than 2,200 members and encompassing nine geographically-based divisions throughout Middlesex County. The Chamber hosts a number of large-scale events, such as the Middlesex County Business to Business Expo, member breakfasts and dinners featuring notable speakers, including U.S. Senator John McCain and UConn President Susan Herbst.

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Action-Oriented Old Saybrook Chamber Bolsters Business Environment

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The Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce building serves as a ‘gateway’ to Main Street.

OLD SAYBROOK — Founded in 1939, the Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2014. The more than 500 members are the driving force behind the organization and also form its strong volunteer base. These, in turn, support the Chamber’s two full time employees, Executive Director Judy Sullivan and Member Services Manager Karen Pinette.

Sullivan explains, “Our job is to promote Old Saybrook as a place to work and live and play.” Composed of a diverse group of nonprofits, retail companies, insurance companies, banks, and more, the Chamber unites under their common goals of advancing the economic vitality and improving the quality of life in the community, as well as bringing businesses and new jobs to town.

Executive Director Judy Sullivan

Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Judy Sullivan takes a brief break from her work.

With about 25 percent of Old Saybrook businesses as members, the Chamber accomplishes its ambitious goals through a variety of community events including educational programs on topics ranging from networking and email marketing software to social media publicity and customer service. The Chamber also sponsors an annual Chili-Fest to fund the college scholarship program it runs for students resident in Old Saybrook or children of Chamber members, as well as an annual Arts and Crafts Festival, which is being held this year on July 25 and 26.

In addition, the Chamber has initiated the Chamber Mail program by which every new resident receives information about surrounding businesses, and runs the Chamber Dollars program, a gift certificate program involving over 50 businesses.  The Chamber also works frequently with nonprofits on community-oriented projects.

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The smiling faces of Executive Director Judy Sullivan (left) and Membership Services Manager Karen Pinette greet visitors to the light and airy Chamber building.

An important aspect of the Chamber is that they serve as a link between businesses and governments to facilitate lines of communication. Most recently, at ‘Connecticut Business Day at the Capitol,’ Old Saybrook Chamber representatives spoke to senators and representatives about issues facing businesses in the state, such as Connecticut’s 15 percent occupancy tax.

OS_Chamber_Exterior_rearThe Chamber also helps foster inter-business relationships and once a month, a Chamber Connections event is held. These are casual gatherings at various local businesses, which facilitate networking between — and sometimes even within — businesses.

Sullivan grew up in Old Saybrook and graduated from Old Saybrook High School. When her youngest child started school, she fell into her role at the Chamber, first on a part-time basis and ultimately working her way up to executive director. Sullivan notes, “The hardest part of the job is being careful with each action because somebody might be affected. We constantly have to be aware of the impact of any actions we might take.  We always want to leave a positive impact.”

She adds, “I’m really proud of the Chamber — it’s been here a long time. I love promoting the town I grew up in. And I find it so rewarding when we see tangible success in businesses.”

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

Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd)

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

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

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

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

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

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Essex Corinthian YC Explores “Teaching Life Lessons & Character Through Sailing,”

arctic_tern_sailboat

ESSEX — For more than 100 years, the United States Coast Guard Academy (CGA) has consistently developed exceptional leaders of character who are Semper Paratus (Always Ready) to perform courageously in any conditions of the maritime environment.

Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Zeke Lyons, one of the Officers in Charge in the Coast Guard Academy’s Coastal Sailing Program, will visit the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club on Sunday, May 31, at 4 p.m. to reflect on three years of adventure and guiding experiential learning with CGA cadet crews during summer cruises throughout New England on board the Academy’s fleet of eight custom designed Leadership 44 sloops.

Lt. Cmdr Lyons is completing a three year assignment as a Company Officer on the Academy’s staff.  In addition to sailing each summer as part of the Coastal Sailing Program, he was also an Instructor of Organizational Behavior and Leadership in the Management Department.

Prior to his assignment at the Coast Guard Academy, he graduated from the Eisenhower Leadership Development Program at the United States Military Academy at West Point in conjunction with Columbia Teacher’s College in New York City.

Lt. Cmdr Lyons will combine humor and insights about the CGA experience to shed light on how the Academy develops leaders of character and his talk will highlight why, as Vice Admiral James Pine said, “The sea has, though the ages, been of all schools, the best for bringing out the qualities of leadership.”

This talk is open to the public but space is limited.   Contact the club’s office at 860-767-3239 or ecyc@essexcorithian.orgto reserve space.  There will be an informal reception following the talk.

The Essex Corinthian Yacht Club is located at 9 Novelty Lane in Essex.   For more information about the Club, visitwww.essexcorinthian.org

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Essex Art Association’s Elected Member’s Show on View Through June 12

'The Flying Bergdorfs' by Carol Young.

‘The Flying Bergdorfs’ by Carol Young.

Each year, at every individual summer exhibit, the Essex Art Association gives a special top prize to “the artist they would like to see more of.” The prize is an opportunity to have a solo exhibit in the Exit Gallery alongside the next year’s regular exhibits.

The honoree for June is Carol Young of Essex, who will present paintings, mixed media, sculptures and assemblages in her show titled, “Through Rose-Colored Glasses.”

Young’s work has been variously described as “curious, imaginative, colorful, quirky, sometimes naughty, but never calm.”  “The Flying Bergdorfs,” for example, are a group of acrobats that the artist saw inside a microscopic photograph of a basal teardrop. “Maude’s Disturbing Wallpaper” is a portrait of a clearly chaotic, easily-confused nanny that she had had to endure.

Young’s most important mentors were her inventive father and more than a thousand creative art class children who, for over 30 years, privately taught ‘Mrs. Young’ at her previous home in Westport, Conn.

The Gallery at 10 North Street, Essex, will continue to be open and free to the public every day of the week from 1 to 5 p.m. from May 30 to June 12, when the gallery will close for indoor renovations.

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Nilsson’s Paintings on Show in CT DEEP Commissioner’s Office During Summer

Yellow Flag Iris on Seldens Creek by Leif Nilsson

Yellow Flag Iris on Selden’s Creek by Leif Nilsson, oil, 48″ x 36″, spring 2014 ©

CHESTER — Thirty paintings of Selden’s Creek in Lyme, Conn., done by Chester artist Leif Nilsson over the past 10 years from his boat will be hanging in the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner’s office for the summer months as part of the ‘Arts in the Parks’ series.

An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, May 27, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127.
Call 860-424-3000 for hours and to RSVP for the opening.
To see a preview of the works, visit http://nilssonstudio.com/deep/
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Essex Resident DeLeeuw Named CT Middle School Principal of the Year

Judy DeLeeuw, Principal of East Lyme Middles School and CT Middle School Principal of the Year.

Judy DeLeeuw, Principal of East Lyme Middles School and CT Middle School Principal of the Year.

ESSEX — Dr. Judy DeLeeuw, Essex resident and principal of East Lyme Middle School (ELMS), has been named the 2015 Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) Middle School Principal of the Year. Described by former East Lyme First Selectman and current State Senator Paul Formica as an “inspirational and collaborative leader,” DeLeeuw was selected for her intrepid leadership, her commitment to educational equity, and her what’s-best-for-kids approach to school administration.

She has worked with a broad network of stakeholders to build and sustain a student-centered, engaging, inclusive and academically rigorous school where student achievement is abounding; teachers are challenged and supported; and parents are vital partners in their children’s education.

Reacting to the announcement of her selection, DeLeeuw remarked, “I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this award from CAS. I will celebrate this accolade with those who inspire me to lead each day; the teachers and the students.”

During her eight years as ELMS principal, DeLeeuw has distinguished herself as an industrious and reform-minded leader who cares deeply about the well-being of all members of the school community. According to ELMS Assistant Principal Jason Bitgood, who nominated DeLeeuw for the award, “As a leader committed to change, Dr.
DeLeeuw faces challenges with passion, perseverance and compassion.”

Language Arts teacher Audrone Venduras adds, “A sign at the entrance to ELMS reads, ‘Welcome to Your School.’ This is not an empty slogan but a philosophy which Judy embraces by successfully fostering a sense of ownership and collaboration among students, parents and staff to make ELMS the educational powerhouse that it is.”

Selected as the CAS Middle School of the Year in 2012, ELMS is a dynamic, creative, student-centered middle school where innovation and excellence flourish. The energy and vitality that permeate the school building are a direct result of DeLeeuw’s passion for educational excellence.

The 900-student school facility is divided into Kivas, or “gathering places,” which serve as small, personalized learning communities for students and teachers. This unique design concept supports differentiated learning and interdisciplinary instruction, which facilitate the development of 21st-century skills critical for success in the recently implemented Connecticut Core assessments.

Noted one member of the CAS School of the Year Selection Committee: “ELMS is a cutting edge school. Its interdisciplinary units are far-reaching and promote authentic learning; and, its eighth grade Capstone projects are the equivalent of research at the college level.”

DeLeeuw works tirelessly to maintain a vibrant, caring, student-centered culture which allows all children to grow socially and emotionally as well as academically. A constant presence in the corridors and classrooms, she uses every available opportunity to interact with and build relationships with her students.

Says Venduras, “Walk down the hallway, stop by the cafeteria, or observe bus dismissal and you will see a constant stream of children greeting their principal, for Judy has a remarkable relationship with her kids. She is accessible and genuinely interested in what they have to say.”

Recalls ELMS sixth grader Jack Derry, “During our end-of-the-year assembly, Dr. DeLeeuw joined the staff in a flash mob dance to the song ‘Happy.’ She was laughing and just having fun with everyone. My friends and I appreciate that she truly understands and relates to kids our age.”

One of DeLeeuw’s greatest achievements was her successful transformation of ELMS’ instructional services for special education students. She led her staff in transitioning from special education pullout classes to general education inclusion classes, increasing the amount of time students with disabilities spend with non-disabled peers from 56 to 90 percent. ELMS is now a place where all students learn together in the same well-supported classrooms with the values of tolerance, acceptance and sensitivity as cornerstones for success.

The Principal of the Year Program, sponsored annually by the Connecticut Association of Schools, was established in 1984 to bring recognition to the principalship and to spotlight the important role of the principal in shaping the educational environment and experiences of children. The program recognizes outstanding school principals who have succeeded in providing high quality learning opportunities for students. These administrators have demonstrated excellent leadership, commitment to staff and students, service to their communities, and contributions to the overall profession of
educational leadership.

Each year nominations are solicited for an Elementary, Middle and High School Principal of the Year. The winners are chosen by a selection committee consisting of active and retired principals and assistant principals. State principals of the year must demonstrate success in the areas of collaborative leadership; personal excellence;
curriculum, instruction, and assessment; and personalization.

DeLeeuw will be honored by CAS at the “Celebration of Distinguished Administrators” to be held on Oct. 22, 2015.

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Essex Library Features Art Exhibit by Andrew Teran During June

Artwork by Andrew Teran

Artwork by Andrew Teran

ESSEX — An art exhibit will be held at the Essex Library Association through the month of June featuring guest artist, Andrew Teran of Essex.

Essex resident Andrew Teran attended Parson’s School of Design in the late 1970s, studying graphic design and then wood sculpture.  His working career focused on high-end carpentry and restoration for many years. As a second career, Andrew worked in construction & corporate sales for 15 years. Now retired from corporate life he has turned his focus back to art, his first love.  He has recently moved to the area to be on the Connecticut River and spend more time in his art studio.

He has always been fascinated by graphic shapes; triangles & hearts are favorites, by far. He finds that the triangle is the perfect shape- yet variations in size, shape, structure create totally different and beautiful dynamics.

In addition to graphic shapes, or in combination with them, he has a love for modern packaging labels and regularly finds that they create strong visual and sometimes literal statements when incorporated in a piece.  The pop art feel and look of modern packaging labels catches his interest everywhere he goes. Collage pulls him to combine visual elements and textures that build a richness he never tires of creating.

The exhibit is free and open to the public during the library’s open hours. The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex, CT. Call (860) 767-1560 for more information.

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Exhibition by Chester’s Leif Nilsson Currently on Show in Colinsville

The Studio with Poppies, oil, 30" x 40" , Leif Nilsson spring 2002 ©

The Studio with Poppies, oil, 30″ x 40″, Leif Nilsson spring 2002 ©

CHESTER — Gallery 526 at 20 Depot St. in Collinsville, Conn., is hosting a one-man-show by Leif Nilsson of Chester featuring 24 garden and Connecticut River paintings.

Leif (pronounced Layf) Nilsson comments, “This exhibition represents an autobiographical pictorial chronology of my process of painting and developing my gardens and understanding the Connecticut River over the past 28 years.”

Inspired by the natural beauty surrounding the Lower Connecticut River Valley, Nilsson paints his plein air impressionistic landscape compositions directly from life. Setting up his easel in and around his hometown of Chester, Nilsson creates engaging garden, Connecticut River and village paintings that invite the viewer to walk right in.

Some of the paintings are completed a la prima, meaning all at once, while others may take several sittings at the same time of day to achieve the correct harmonious atmosphere as he observes it. Generally, heavily textured paintings have more layers applied in an effort to represent the scintillating effects of light in nature over a period of time. Nilsson’s brushwork is a result of his dedication to observing nature.

Nilsson completed a full curriculum of Classical Studies at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Conn. He enhanced that education with several sojourns to Scandinavia, Asia Minor and Europe where he studied the French 19th and early 20th century painters; Bonnard and Monet for color; Pissarro and Vuillard for composition and Van Gogh for energy.

A successful working artist for over 20 years, Nilsson continues to exhibit his paintings in several galleries throughout the United States, while also promoting his work through his website, and at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery, LLC in Chester where collectors visit him regularly to view and purchase his latest works. The studio is open on weekend afternoons from noon to 6 p.m. and other times by chance or appointment. Six times a year he hosts a gallery opening reception for his newest works along with other galleries in Chester. He also teaches painting to children and adults and gives lectures at high schools, universities, art clubs, and museums.

Nilsson has hand-made most of his Florentine style, metal leafed, finished corner frames in his studio. The soft luminous gold tone complements his paintings without overwhelming them. Now he orders them from reputable framemakers and assists collectors with their choices.

Limited Edition Fine Art Prints have been made of several of Nilsson’s original oil paintings and these will be available at the gallery.

Nilsson paints outdoors in all types of weather. He will often paint the same place over and over again, trying out different compositions and sizes at various times of day and in all seasons. These paintings often result in a series of works attempting to describe the many moods of nature on a particular subject.

Chester is a favorite subject of Leif Nilsson’s. Its uniqueness and charm have captivated his imagination for years. He has painted many scenes of Chester Center in different times of day, weather conditions and seasons. The vernacular architecture of old crooked buildings lining the curved piazza of Main Street come alive in his colorful paintings of the village in springtime with Rhododendrons in full bloom. Winter is a favorite time of year for him when the town is blanketed with virgin snow, especially at dusk when snowflakes swirl around the glowing lamppost in front of his studio.

The Connecticut River as seen from its banks in Chester to Old Lyme offers a wealth of pictorial opportunities for Nilsson to explore. From the hazy dawn of Eustasia Island in Deep River to the quiet harbors of Old Saybrook’s North Cove and from the golden marshes of Chester to the sweeping meadow of Pettipaug in Essex, there’s plenty of material to keep a landscape painter busy yearlong.

On spring mornings Nilsson is usually busy in his backyard garden tracking the sunlight with a loaded brush or knife revealing the rich colors and textures of the plants and flowers he has cultivated.

Occasionally Nilsson travels abroad to interesting European villages. His little paintings of Prague in the Czech Republic, Casares, Spain and Nova Scotia, Canada from recent trips are also favorites among his collectors. His most recent painting trip was to Cinque Terra in Italy where he produced several gems.

One of his favorite pastimes is to play the banjo. His new band “Arrowhead” will be playing at the opening reception.

For more information, visit http://www.nilssonstudio.com or http://www.gallery526.com or call 860-709-0987. Gallery 526 is open Thursday & Friday 12 – 5pm, Saturday & Sunday 12 – 6 pm, and other times by chance or appointment.

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RiverQuest Teams up with Old Saybrook Boy Scout Troop for Selden Island Clean-up

With the backdrop of the Goodspeed Opera House, the Old Saybrook Scouts gather for a photo to display the fruist of their labors after their trash pick-up efforts on Selden Island.

With the backdrop of the Goodspeed Opera House, the Old Saybrook Scouts gather for a photo to display the fruist of their labors after their trash pick-up efforts on Selden Island.

HADDAM/OLD SAYBROOK — It was a sunny, warm day with a little breeze.  The Connecticut River was inviting as always in the eyes of Captain Mark and Mindy Yuknat, the owners of the eco-tourism vessel RiverQuest.

On Saturday, May 2, they invited Boy Scout Troop 51 from Old Saybrook to help with what they hope to become an annual event called, “The 1st Annual Selden Island Clean-up.”

For years Captain Mark has been navigating the Connecticut River.  RiverQuest offers guided tours throughout the year, educating the public about the river and its rich history, wildlife (eagles and ospreys), flora and fauna.  On this day RiverQuest was bringing the Scouts, leaders and volunteers out to Selden Island for a clean-up and a campout.

These Boy Scouts are hard at work on Selden Island.

These Boy Scouts are hard at work on Selden Island.

With the help of the CT DEEP staff located at Gillette Castle, they acquired a camping permit and plenty of trash bags.  Phil Yuris, the park maintainer, was excited to help.  He was very grateful for all the work that was done by the group and hopes that more groups will get involved in the future. As he had hoped, it was a very positive experience for all.

Scoutmaster Dan Sullivan had originally presented the “clean-up” idea to the boys and they were very enthusiastic.

“What a great experience this was, not only for the 16 Scouts, but, also for the four accompanying adults as well. “ Sullivan said, “This was a very different trip for us and all the boys walked away with a very positive experience.  I believe every one of them will take away a new appreciation of the motto “Leave No Trace” and leave everything better than they found it.”

He continued, “We were also able to have all the boys work on earning two merit badges over the weekend, Bird Study and Nature, thanks to  John Ogren from the Old Saybrook Land Trust.  These lessons along with the Clean-up effort hopefully will foster a lifelong appreciation of our environment.”

On Sunday, with about enough trash to fill a pickup truck, they headed back to RiverQuest’s berth at Eagle Landing State Park.  Mindy Yuknat stated, “The Connecticut River starts in a beaver pond in New Hampshire near the Canadian border.  It is cleaner than it ever has been, but there is always room for improvement.  It is amazing how much debris and trash is deposited on the river banks. “

Captain Mark said, “It was a fun weekend and we are already talking about another trip this year.  We hope to get more Scout troops and other groups involved and we hope to get better equipment to help us remove and transport larger items like tires.”

For more information about Selden Neck State Park, visit http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=435364&deepNav_GID=1650.

For more information about Old Saybrook BSA Troop 51, visit http://www.ostroop51.org

For more information about RiverQuest, visit http://ctriverquest.com/

For more information about Mark Yuknat, visit captainmark@ctriverquest.com or call 860-662-0577.

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Region 4 Budget Passes Overall, But Not in Deep River

REGION 4 — The Region 4 budget passed convincingly in yesterday’s referendum by an unofficial count of 263 votes to 164.

The unofficial town-by-town results, however, tell a different story with Essex giving a resounding Yes vote with 134 supporting the budget and 36 against it.  Chester came out for the budget overall, but with a less decisive result at 57 Yes’s and 26 No’s.

Meanwhile, Deep River voters gave a firm thumbs down to the budget proposal with 102 No votes against 72 Yeses.

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Essex Library Hosts Intro To Genealogy Research Series, Starts May 30

ESSEX — Interested in researching your family history but don’t know where to begin?

Join Essex Librarian Norma Wright in a three-session workshop introducing you to the Ancestry.com Library Edition service which is provided for free to Essex Library patrons. Three one-hour workshops begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 30, and continue on June 6 and 13 at the Essex Library. These workshops are designed to introduce beginners to the library edition of ancestry.com.

The first week, will be an overview of the major tabs and then doing searches using vital statistics and census records. The second week, you’ll look at getting organized (retrieving you data, storage systems) and then brief introductions to immigration, directories and military records.

Bring your story, an email address and Norma Wright will get you started on a wonderful voyage to documenting your family history. The workshops are free and open to the public but space is limited to four students.

Registration is required to attend.  The Essex Library is located at 33 West Avenue in Essex, CT. Call (860) 767-1560 to register or for more information.

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Tributary Mill Allows OSHS Interns to Experience Environmental Preservation Efforts First-hand 

Gathered for a photo are, from left to right, Tyler Clinton, Ashley Bright, Gray Tripp, Morey Tripp, and Jim Tripp.

Gathered for a photo are, from left to right, Tyler Clinton, Ashley Bright, Gray Tripp, Morey Tripp, and Jim Tripp.

The Tributary Mill has stood strong in the heart of Old Lyme since 1672. Originally used to grind grains such as corn and wheat, the mill often became referred to as Rooks Mill in honor of Edward Rooks, an American impressionist who was enthralled with the mill’s beauty, which has since been the subject of many paintings.

The Tributary Mill in Old Lyme.

The Tributary Mill in Old Lyme.

Purchased by Fran Tripp in 1981, her son Jim and his wife Sandra created the Tributary Mill Conservancy (TMC) that exists today from the original foundation. A nonprofit organization that strives to merge science and art through the conservation of the unique tributary ecosystem, the TMC has serviced its surrounding community in innumerable ways.

The waterfall at the mill.

The waterfall at the mill.

Operated by Jim, a carpenter, and Sandra, a high school chemistry teacher, as well as a variety of additional volunteers of all ages, the TMC works closely with a variety of environmentally oriented organizations such as the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Mystic Aquarium, and the Quebec-Labrador Foundation.

Smile for the camera! Ashley Bright holds a turtle.

Smile for the camera! Ashley Bright holds a turtle.

During the summer and fall seasons, the TMC focuses its energies on trapping and collecting data from snapping turtles by conducting blood tests, fecal tests, and collecting the leeches found on the turtles for further testing.

In addition, National Geographic recently donated a large number of cameras to put on the backs of the snapping turtles to further track them.

Ashley and Tyler work on transferring the baby salmon.

Ashley and Tyler work on transferring the baby salmon.

In the winter, the TMC turns its attention to hatching Atlantic salmon eggs given to them and regulated by the DEEP. An endangered species, the Atlantic salmon thrive in the unique ecosystem found at the TMC.

The highly efficient filtration system used by the TMC to hatch the eggs, which was engineered by Jim Tripp himself, has resulted in an 18 percent death rate for the eggs, significantly lower than the average 20 percent death rate. The eggs, once hatched, are then released into the surrounding Connecticut River tributaries.

In the spring, the TMC collects data on glass eels. Estimating the number of eels migrating up the Mill Brook as well as weighing trapped eels gives them valuable data, which they then send to the DEEP.

Eels galore!

Eels galore!

The Conservancy also focuses on educating and involving the community in their work. Along with offering tours for school groups ranging from elementary to high schoolers, the Conservancy also provides hands on learning opportunities for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students.

Old Saybrook High School seniors Ashley Bright and Tyler Clinton have been deeply impacted by their time at the preserve, which has inspired both of them to pursue careers in environmental science and engineering.

Ashley, who has been interning at the TMC since September, said, “I never expected to get so much out of a high school internship. I feel like I’ve been part of their family. It’s amazing that I’ve been able to do what I’ve done here as a high school student, and I know this experience is something I’ll always remember.”

Tyler, who has been interning at the TMC for two years, echoed Ashley’s sentiment, saying, “I have a second family here,” before going on to praise the kindness of Jim and Sandra Tripp. “They do this out of the kindness of their hearts. They really care about conserving the ecosystem and helping it thrive.”

Jim Tripp notes, “Our original goal was to make a prototype of a mill that could be emulated throughout the area because our location here on the river is such a great place to do wildlife work.”

For more information about the Tributary Mill Conservancy, visit tributarymill.org or email tributarymill@comcast.net. Donations to the nonprofit can also be made through the TMC website.

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Old Lyme Country Club Kicks Off 2015 Season with Get-Acquainted Scramble, Essex Ladies are Winners

The members of the WGA gather for a photo at their annual meeting.

The members of the WGA gather for a photo at their annual meeting. Photo courtesy of the Old Lyme Country Club.

The Old Lyme Country Club Women’s Golf Association (WGA) held it first event of the season on Thursday, April 23. The WGA ladies participated in the 9-hole Get Acquainted Scramble under unseasonably cool conditions.

The 1st place winners with a score of 27 were: Helene Nichols (Essex), Paula Bingham (Lyme), Carolyn Daddona (Essex), and MJ Bertolini (Old Lyme).

The 2nd place winners, also with a score of 27, were: Harley Manning (Essex), Bev Windatt (Essex), Kate Bollo (Essex), and Louise Ferrebee (Old Lyme).

The 3rd place winners with a score of 31 were: Mardee Moore (Guilford), Carol Gordon (Essex), and Martha Norcia (Old Saybrook).

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Region 4 Regionalization Plan Headed to September Referendum in Three District Towns

REGION 4 — A long-discussed plan for a full K-6 regionalization of district schools appears headed to a September referendum but will also require a separate inter-local agreement in an effort to build support for the plan in each of the district towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex.

About 50 residents turned out Tuesday evening at the Valley Regional High School (VRHS) auditorium for the second in a series of public information sessions on the plan that is expected to go to district school boards for a vote in June. The board votes would set up a possible Sept. 29 referendum in the three towns. Voters in all three towns must approve the plan for it to become effective by the target date of July 1, 2016.

The plan presented Tuesday was developed in recent weeks by a committee comprised of school board members, district staff, and some municipal elected officials. District school boards had previously taken the required step of requesting that a full regionalization plan be prepared and presented for a vote — a move that has been discussed in the district for nearly a decade.

The proposed full regionalization would replace a complicated district governance structure that has been in place since the three towns approved regionalization of grades 7-12 in 1948, a move that led to the opening of VRHS in Deep River in 1952.

The existing structure has an elected nine member board of education that governs VRHSl and John Winthrop Middle School (constructed in 1971), while local school board govern the elementary schools in the three towns. The boards come together as the supervision district to direct shared services, including administration and transportation, for all five schools.

The proposed full regionalization would bring all district schools and services under the direction of an elected 12-member board of education with four members from each town, though the plan for a 12 member board would require General Assembly approval of enabling legislation for a 12- member board. Without the enabling legislation there would be a nine-member board with three members from each town.
Board members presenting the plan Tuesday, including Region 4 Board Chairman Chris Riley, Deep River Board of Education Chairman Michelle Grow, and Essex Board of Education Chairman lon Seidman said regionalization of the primary grades would bring cost savings allow greater consistency in curriculum and also provide greater flexibility in sharing staff, equipment, and resources among the three elementary schools. There would be a single education budget presented to voters of the three towns for referendum approval, ending the current system where the Region 4 (high school-middle school) budget goes to referendum, while the elementary school budgets are presented for approval with town budgets at the annual budget meeting in each town.
Board members said a full regionalization would also give the district greater flexibility in responding to decreasing student enrollment. Projections presented with the draft plan show K-6 grade enrollment for all three elementary schools dropping from the current enrollment of about 900 students to as few as 610 students by 2020.
The continuing decline in enrollment has led to some public concerns that a full regionalization would open the door to an abrupt closing of an elementary school, possibly Chester Elementary School, where enrollment could drop to as few as 183 students by 2020. Many of the questions and comments at Tuesday’s forum came from Chester residents.
Board members said the plan specifies there would be no changes configuration of the elementary schools for the first three years, through June 2019, other than a possible transfer of sixth graders to the middle school. Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy added that any move of sixth graders to the middle school would also require at least two years of planning.
The plan also specifies that no elementary school could be closed without voter approval from a referendum in that town. Seidman said closing of an elementary school is unlikely because student enrollment in expected to begin to rebound by the mid 2020s.
Board members said an inter-local agreement would address other concerns about shared financing of a full K-12 district among taxpayers of the three towns, particularly by cushioning the impact of major shifts in the average daily membership of students that would be used to determine each town’s share of a K-12 education budget. The inter-local agreement, which would probably require town meeting approval from each town, was not available Tuesday, but is expected to be presented to selectmen and finance boards for the three towns over the next few weeks.

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Ivoryton Playhouse Looks at (Older) Love in “The Last Romance”

Rochelle Slovin* and Chet Carlin* in "The Last Romance," which opens at Ivoryton, April 22

Rochelle Slovin* and Chet Carlin* in “The Last Romance,” which opens at Ivoryton, April 22

IVORYTON — On an ordinary day in a routine life, an 80-year-old widower named Ralph decides to takes a different path on his daily walk — one that leads him to an unexpected second chance at love. Relying on a renewed boyish charm, Ralph attempts to woo the elegant, but distant, Carol. Defying Carol’s reticence — and the jealousy of his lonely sister Rose — he embarks on the trip of a lifetime and regains a happiness that seemed all but lost.

Tony Award winner Joe DiPietro’s The Last Romance, a bittersweet romantic comedy with a little Puccini and a smidgen of dog treats, opens in Ivoryton on April 22.

DiPietro recently won two Tony Awards for co-writing the musical Memphis, which also received the 2010 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and which will be opening in Ivoryton in August this year. DiPietro is an Ivoryton favorite; his shows I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (the longest-running musical revue in Off Broadway history), and the Broadway musical All Shook Up were both popular successes at the Playhouse.

Stephen Mir and Chet Carlin* in "The Last Romance"

Stephen Mir and Chet Carlin* in “The Last Romance”

Directed by Maggie McGlone Jennings, the cast includes Chet Carlin* as Ralph, whose Broadway credits include Fiddler on the Roof with Theodore Bikel and the National Tour of Sir Peter Hall’s As You Like It; Kate Konigisor*, the Artistic Director of Shakespeare with Benefits, as Rose; Stephen Mir as the Young Man and Rochelle Slovin*, making her Ivoryton debut as Carol and reigniting a theatre career after spending the past 30 years as the Founding Director of the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.

The set design is by William Stark, lighting design by Tate Burmeister and costumes by Vickie Blake.

The Last Romance opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on April 22, and runs through May 10. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $42 for adults, $37 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

Photos by Anne Hudson

  1. Stephen Mir and Chet Carlin*
  2. Rochelle Slovin* and Chet Carlin*

*Indicates member of Actors Equity Association

This production is generously sponsored by Essex Meadows and The Clark Group

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Old Saybrook’s Andrew Pan Honored at State Capitol for Science Fair Win

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OLD SAYBROOK — On Apr. 8, Old Saybrook High School senior Andrew Pan (center) was honored at the State Capitol by Rep. Devin Carney (left) and Sen. Art Linares (right) for winning first place in the Health and Medicine category at the Southern Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair on Feb. 7.

Pan took first place for his research project entitled, “Elevated Levels of Interleukin-8 in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers induce Cell Survival During Chemotherapy.”  The legislators presented Pan with an official state citation.  Pan’s accomplishments were recognized and applauded by the Connecticut General Assembly.

Click here to read an article by our intern Adina Ripin about Pan’s accomplishments.

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St. John School Produces “Twinderella”

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OLD SAYBROOK — More than 30 fifth to eighth graders formed the cast and crew of the St. John School Drama Club production, “Twinderella,” led by their coaches, Sister Gabriela (2nd grade teacher) and Ann Corcoran (5th grade teacher), assisted by St. John School alumnae, Molly Sullivan.

More information about the great performance is available on St. John School website at http://saintjohnschoolos.org/news/2015/04/drama-club-dazzles-with-twinderella

Congratulations to the cast and crew!

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Essex Savings Bank Donates Over $29,000 as Part of Community Investment Program

ESSEX — Results of the recent voting by Essex Savings Bank customers who participated in the Bank’s Community Investment Program were announced at a meeting of employees, directors and trustees at the Bank’s Plains Road Office on Wednesday, April 8.

The Top Ten Winners in attendance received special recognition.  They were in order by number of votes:

  1. The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries
  2. Forgotten Felines, Inc.
  3. Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Inc.
  4. High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.
  5. Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM)
  6. Dog Days Adoption Events, Inc.
  7. The Essex Fire Engine Company No. 1
  8. Bikes for Kids, Inc.
  9. Pet Connections, Inc.
  10. Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, Inc. (VNLV)

The customer balloting portion of Essex Savings Bank’s 2015 Community Investment Program, began on Feb. 2 and concluded on March 2. The program entitles the Bank’s customers to select up to three charities from a list of 90 qualified non-profit organizations. Fund allocations are awarded based on the results of these votes.

Gregory R. Shook, President and Chief Executive Officer of Essex Savings Bank stated, “At Essex Savings Bank, we believe the way to move the world forward is by giving back. Our Community Investment Program is designed to provide vital financial support to those organizations that enhance the quality of life in our communities.”

Each year, the Bank donates 10 percent of its net income to non-profit organizations within the immediate market area consisting of Chester, Deep River, Essex, Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. This year, the Bank has allocated $98,741 to assisting non-profit organizations who offer outstanding services to our community and one third of that amount is then voted upon by the Bank’s customers.

According to Thomas Lindner, Vice President and Community Relations Officer for Essex Savings Bank, 6,987 votes were cast this year for a total of $29,620. By year end 2015, the total distribution of charitable funds will reach 4 million dollars since the inception of the Bank’s Community Investment Program in 1996.

Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and Shoreline with six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and subsidiary Essex Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC. Investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities are not FDIC insured, may lose value, are not a deposit, have no Bank guarantee and are not insured by any Federal Government Agency.

Click here to see the full results with voting numbers and amounts donated to each organization.

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Students Support Meals on Wheels, ‘Blizzard Bag’ Drive a Great Success

OLD SAYBROOK – ‘Meals on Wheels’ in the Nine-Town Estuary region are provided to seniors along the Shoreline exclusively by The Estuary Council of Seniors and delivered by dedicated volunteers. Their volunteers brave all kinds of weather, from extreme heat to thunderstorms to snow.  They go out of their way to ensure that the nearly 200 clients have meals and a friendly visit each weekday.  However, there are days when weather conditions make it impossible to deliver meals and provide that all important personal visit.

An essential part of the Meals on Wheels program is to make certain homebound seniors have food in the case of emergency when delivery is not possible. The emergency meal is a day’s worth of shelf-stable food items, which is provided at no charge to clients. Each time meal delivery is canceled, the emergency meal is replenished.

This year, Old Saybrook students held the first annual “Blizzard Bag Drive”, collecting non-perishable food items for the emergency “Blizzard Bag” food for Meals on Wheels clients. These Blizzard Bags replaced the former pre-packaged emergency meals.  Each Blizzard Bag was decorated by local students and included a personal item for the recipient.

A meals on Wheels spokesperson commented, “The students did an outstanding job reaching out to our community and local businesses to generate incredible support of our homebound neighbors. Thank you to everyone who helped us with this first annual “Blizzard Bag” drive.”

If you, or anyone you know age 60 years old or better, need Meals on Wheels, call Carol Adanti at 860-388-1611, x217 for details.

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VRHS Students Travel to Paris, Transport to JFK Paid by Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund

Ready for take-off: Valley Regional HS language students gather for a photo at the school immediately prior to departure.

Ready for take-off: Valley Regional HS language students gather for a photo at the school immediately prior to their departure across ‘The Pond.’

REGION 4 — The Valley Regional High School (VRHS) World Language Department organized a week-long trip to Paris over the 2015 spring break.

A $1,300 grant from the Christopher Belfoure Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County provided for the group’s transportation to John F. Kennedy airport in New York City for their flight to Paris. These funds were, as in years past, generated by the Run For Chris 5K, held annually in Essex in Belfoure’s memory.

"Embark on your journey and only look forward. Not too fast but not too slow. It is the ones that remain idle that get lost in the memories of the past and not the dreams of the future. We as human-beings need to dream again once more.”   These words were written by Chris Belfoure to his friend Valerie Tinker.

“Embark on your journey and only look forward. Not too fast but not too slow. It is the ones that remain idle that get lost in the memories of the past and not the dreams of the future. We as human-beings need to dream again once more.”  These words were written by Chris Belfoure, pictured above, to his friend Valerie Tinker.

Belfoure was just 24 when he tragically died in July 2011. Yet his passions – his belief in the global community, his dedication to teaching and the environment – will be shared through the Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC).

A graduate of VRHS and West Virginia University, Belfoure spoke fluent Mandarin and was pursuing a career as a corporate trainer in Shanghai. He is remembered as a charming, intelligent, ambitious man with a zest for life and adventure.

Belfoure believed knowledge to be a bridge between cultures and a key in developing innovative approaches to education and customer service. He loved to talk and knew that overcoming the barriers of language provided people an opportunity to learn about one another, to share hopes and dreams, and that just by talking, one could encourage people to see themselves as members of a global community.

Belfoure’s mother and stepfather, Robin and George Chapin, established the Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation in January 2012. This designated Fund supports Middlesex County-Lower County public schools and public library programs focused on integrating multicultural experiences, learning foreign languages, and environmental programs into the curricula.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 12.12.48 AMThe Chapins and a host of family friends launched the Fund with the first annual Run for Chris – Run for Education on Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Essex; the proceeds were donated to the Chris Belfoure Memorial Fund.

This year’s event will be held June 27.  There will also be a 2- mile walk, 1-mile run for ages 7-14, and a kids’ Fun Run. Registration is open at ARatRace.com

Robin Chapin says, “Keeping Chris’ dreams alive is so important to us. Chris was passionate about life, and I want to share his passion and determination with others, so they can grow and enhance their lives. He was always smiling and inspiring others to pursue their dreams.” She continues, “The Fund allows us to provide opportunities for schools and libraries to fund their foreign language programs and global education programs. Giving back to the community was a part of who Chris was. This all helps to keep his memory alive.”

Editor’s Note: Information about and the photograph of Christopher Belfoure and the fund named after him have been taken from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County website.

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Brett Elliott Appointed New Executive Director at ‘The Kate’

Brett Elliott

Brett Elliott

OLD SAYBROOK — The Board of Directors of the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (“The Kate”) has announced the appointment of Brett Elliott as Executive Director.

Elliott served as ‘The Kate’s’ Interim Director since founding Executive Director Chuck Still announced his departure in December.

Sonny Whelen, President of the Board of Trustees, stated, “We couldn’t be happier having Brett join us as our next Executive Director. In his position as interim director, Brett has shown us that he has all of the skills and leadership qualities to bring the Kate forward as we continue to expand our role in the community. This is a very exciting time for all of us”.

Starting in 2012, Elliott spent two years in Chicago where he received his MFA in Arts Leadership from DePaul University, a joint program with the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Elliott produced several projects for Chicago Shakespeare including the world premiere of “Since I Suppose”, a technology driven, live interactive performance developed by Australia’s one step at a time like this. Elliott also spent a brief period in the finance and operations department at Broadway in Chicago.

Elliott is no stranger to Eastern Connecticut or the Kate. He worked at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center from 2009-2012. He then found his way to ‘The Kate’ through lighting and production work.

Holding a BA in Theater from Saginaw Valley State University, Elliott is a proud product of the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival, an organization, which gave him his start.

“After six years, there is no doubt about the quality, quantity, and variety of entertainment at ‘The Kate’; it truly is a cultural gem on the shoreline,” Elliott stated. “I am very proud to not only be back at ‘The Kate,’ but to lead this organization at such a vibrant and exciting time. I look forward to getting to know those in the community, as well as the thousands of patrons that come to the Kate each year,” Elliott concluded.

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, ‘The Kate,’ is a non-profit performing arts organization located in the historic theatre/town hall on Main Street in Old Saybrook. Originally opened in 1911 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, ‘The Kate’ has been renovated with public funds from the town of Old Saybrook and donations raised by the Trustees of the Center.

It includes a 250-seat theatre and a small museum honoring Katharine Hepburn, Old Saybrook’s most celebrated resident. As befits an organization born of such a public/private partnership, programming is eclectic, offering something for all ages and income levels on the Connecticut shore and in the lower river valley.

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Miller Testifies in Support of a Bill to Increase Education Grant for Haddam

State Representative Phil Miller

State Representative Phil Miller

HADDAM — State Representative Philip Miller (D-Chester/Deep River/Essex/Haddam) testified this week in support of legislation that he is co-sponsoring that would increase the education grant for Haddam up to the 50 percent  level under the state’s Education Cost Sharing formula (ECS).

Miller testified before the legislature’s Appropriations Committee on SB 816, “An Act Establishing A Minimum Level Of Funding Under The Education Cost Sharing Grant Formula.”  Miller was joined by Haddam First Selectwoman Melissa Schlag and Region 17 Haddam-Killingworth Superintendent, Dr. Harry Thiery.

Miller pointed out that of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities, more than 40 of them are overfunded under the ECS formula, while 19, including Haddam, are underfunded below the 50 percent ECS funding level. He added that introducing a bill that would fully fund Haddam would be futile, because similar requests have died in committee in the past.

“This bill, however, would bring the 19 lowest, including Haddam, that are all funded less than 50 percent, at least up to the halfway point,”  Miller commented. “It is not a long term solution, but it is a step in the right direction. We should fund the overfunded municipalities at the full funding level, and no more.”

First Selectwoman Schlag, speaking in support of the bill, told committee members the proposed legislation is a step in the right direction, saying, “If we can’t fix the regressive property tax system in Connecticut, let’s at least fix the ECS system making it fair for all municipalities, large and small.”

Miller noted that the bill has bi-partisan support, which he believes gives the measure a better chance of passage as it continues along the legislative process.

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Panel Discussion Tonight Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Landmark Woman’s Rights Decision

Civil rights pioneer Estelle Griswold stands outside the offices of Planned Parenthood in New haven, Conn.

Civil rights activist and feminist  Estelle Griswold stands outside the offices of Planned Parenthood in New Haven, Conn.

The Shoreline League of Democratic Women (SLDW) has announced it will host a panel presentation and discussion ‘Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut.’ The event will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday evening, April 2, Westbrook Library (Lower Level), 61 Goodspeed Drive, Westbrook, CT 06498.

Guest panelists include Connecticut State Representative Kelly Luxenberg and Susan Yolen, VP for Public Policy and Advocacy for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. This event is free and open to the public.

In 1965, Estelle Griswold of Executive Director of Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut and Yale Physician and Professor Dr. Buxton challenged the State’s interference in a woman’s right to access birth control, and by extension a woman’s right to privacy over her own body. Upon opening a clinic in New Haven, they were both promptly arrested and appealed to the Supreme Court. Winning a 7-2 victory, they established case law that would ensure women this basic human right across the United States.

Fifty years later, the SLDW shines a light on Griswold and Buxton, and remembers the rights we take for granted today were often hard won, but are inalienable.

The SLDW (http://www.sldw.org) is a chapter of the Connecticut Federation of Democratic Women (CFDW), which is a chapter of the National Federation of Democratic Women. The SLDW continues to seek membership from women who live in Essex, Chester and Deep River as well as Old Lyme, Lyme, Clinton, Madison, Guilford, Branford, Killingworth, Old Saybrook and Westbrook,  Meetings are held monthly from September through May.

The SLDW is dedicated to educating its members about political and social issues important to women of all ages in the Valley-Shore area. Women in the local district are encouraged to join the SLDW and participate in the organization’s valuable work in the community. Members can be involved in any capacity, whether it is 30 minutes a month, or 30 minutes a year. As a part of the SLDW educational charter, members will be notified of important pending state and national legislation.

For more information, email sldworg@gmail.com or contact Kathleen Skoczen at 860-669-7034 or Belinda Jones at860-399-1147. Visit the SLDW website at http://www.sldw.org.

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