July 28, 2016

New Location Announced for CT Valley Camera Club’s Meetings

"Within a Water Drop" by Diane Roberts, one of the photographs to be exhibited by the CT Valley Camera Club in Chester.

“Within a Water Drop” by Diane Roberts, one of the photographs to be exhibited by the CT Valley Camera Club in Chester.

AREAWIDE – The Connecticut Valley Camera Club will host all future meetings at the Lymes’ Senior Center on Town Woods Rd. in Old Lyme at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of every month. Meetings and exhibits are free and open to the public.

The club will be exhibiting at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek through July 23.

For further information, call Ed McCaffrey at 860-767-3521.

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Gypsy Jazz Band Plays a Concert in Garden, July 14

Biano Martinis

CHESTER – The Bianco Martinis, a New York City-based gypsy jazz band, will play a Concert in the Garden at Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery on Thursday, July 14, from  7 to 9 p.m.

Covering four corners of the world, from Buenos Aires to Napoli, New York to Paris, the Bianco Martinis masterfully blend these sounds into a unique style of a true gypsy.

Here’s the lineup: Melanie Goerlitz, vocals; Danielle Turano, violin; Seth Johnson, guitar; and Jordan Scannella, upright bass. Read more about them at www.melaniegoerlitz.com.

A $20 donation at the door is requested. Feel free to BYOB and picnic and enjoy the outdoor bistro style seating in the amphitheater (inside the gallery if inclement weather).Gates open a half hour before the show. First come first seated. Sorry, no pets allowed.  For more information, call (860) 526-2077 or visit http://www.nilssonstudio.com. The studio is at 1 Spring Street, in the heart of Chester Center.

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Ribbon Cutting Opens Chester’s Main Street Bridge

ribbon cutting 1

CT DOT District 2 Engineer Ken Fargnoli cuts the ribbon (using the scissors that cut the ribbon when the Merritt Parkway opened in 1940). Looking on, Selectwoman Charlene Janecek and First Selectwoman Lauren Gister (left) with DOT Commissioner James Redeker (right)

CHESTER – Ten days ahead of schedule, Chester’s Main Street Bridge reopened to pedestrian and vehicular traffic after a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 12.

First Selectwoman Lauren Gister received only one day’s notice about the ceremony, yet even so, she was able to get the word out – and in small-town fashion, the word spread fast! About 100 people were on hand for the 3:30 p.m. ceremony, including fascinated small children who have been watching the work since it began in early January.

First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, with Selectwomen Charlene Janecek (left) and Carolyn Linn (right).

First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, with Selectwomen Charlene Janecek (left) and Carolyn Linn (right).

Gister thanked the Chester Merchants Association, “who have been incredibly patient and stalwart and put up with a lot of noise and dirt and lack of parking.” She thanked the Economic Development Commission and the Main Street Project Committee for their work before and during the project.

And she gave special thanks to the crew of Arborio Construction and the engineers – “we’ve been good to them and they’ve been GREAT to us!” – which drew a long round of applause from all in attendance. Gister added, “There is still some work to do on the streetscape and utilities and some patience is still going to be necessary, but we can now celebrate spring!”

Edmund Meehan, Chester’s former first selectman, also took the podium to thank his board of selectmen and the Main Street Committee for their “great expertise in setting the bar so high.”

Representing the CT Department of Transportation were Commissioner James Redeker along with District 2 Engineer Kenneth E. Fargnoli, who said, “This is a signature project, which established an amazing relationship and showed how communication not only addressed the bridge and its foundations, but how people can work together.”

This sign, at ELLE Design Studio, exemplifies the relationship Chester townspeople established with the Arborio crew and state engineers.

This sign, at ELLE Design Studio, demonstrates the warm relationship Chester townspeople established with the Arborio crew and state engineers through the bridge reconstruction project. Photo by Annalisa Russell-Smith

After the ribbon was cut, the first vehicle to go over the new bridge was Louis Heft’s white pickup truck, driven by his daughter, Paulette, with his wife, Marieanne. Mr. Heft died on March 11 of this year and his famous truck was given the honor of being the first over the bridge because, as his obituary stated, “Louie will be remembered for his strong, active role in the community.”

Mr. Heft’s white pick-up truck was often parked slightly askew downtown. He was known for keeping an eye on construction workers, watching any road work being done and offering all the help he could. Most days, Mr. Heft could be seen directing traffic, offering his seasoned advice to workers around town, or reading the paper with a coffee in hand.”

Sadly, he never got to supervise the Main Street Bridge project, because of his illness leading up to his death.

The first vehicle over the bridge was Louie Heft's famous white pickup truck.

Louie Heft’s famous white pickup was the first vehicle to go over the Main Street Bridge after the ribbon was cut.

The Main Street Bridge is owned by the State of Connecticut. Decades ago, the town purchased Main Street for $1 from the State, establishing its responsibility for road maintenance beginning on the village side of the bridge. The bridge replacement was required by the State.

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Republicans Nominate Art Linares for Third Term in 33rd Senate District

Sen. Art Linares (File photo)

Sen. Art Linares (File photo)

AREAWIDE — Republicans Tuesday nominated incumbent State Senator Art  Linares of Westbrook for a third term in the 12-town 33rd Senate District. Linares was the unanimous choice of about 45 delegates and alternates gathered for the nominating convention at the Old Town Hall in East Haddam.

Linares is facing a challenge in the Nov. 8 vote from Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman of Essex, who is expected to be nominated for the seat at the Democratic convention on May 23 in East Hampton. Needleman, 64, has served as first selectman of Essex since 2011. The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Linares was nominated by State Rep. Melissa Ziobron of East Hampton, who described the incumbent as a “great advocate for all of the towns,” in the district. The nomination was seconded by Edward Marcolini of Old Saybrook, who described Linares as, “young, vibrant and personable.”

In brief remarks, Linares said he has worked for spending reform and fiscal responsibility at the capitol, contending that overly optimistic budget planning by legislative Democrats had led to first ever cuts in the state ECS (Education Cost Sharing) grants for cities and towns. Linares, 27, said he is ready for the election challenge. “I stand before you a four-year-veteran, a little more seasoned, but just as ready to knock on thousands of doors and wear out shoes as that 23-year-old kid was four years ago,” he said.

Linares declined to comment on Needleman’s candidacy, but confirmed he is ready to debate his opponent on more than one occasion during the fall campaign.

Linares, a co-founder of the Middletown-based Greenskies solar energy company, was elected in 2012 in a district that has been represented for 20 years by the late former Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. He won a second term in 2014, defeating democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a  22,672-17,326 vote in a race where Bjornberg also had the Working Families Party ballot line and Linares had the ballot line of the Connecticut Independent Party.

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Colin Bennett Announces Run for State Senate as Democrat

Colin Bennett (file photo)

Colin Bennett (file photo)

WESTBROOK — Longtime area resident and small business owner Colin Bennett has announced his candidacy for state senate in the 33rd District – as a Democrat. Bennett has run for the seat multiple times, always as a Green, so this will be his first foray into the Democratic Party.

“I’ve been impressed with the popularity and success of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and have taken inspiration from his campaign,” Bennett explains. “Bernie and I agree on almost every major issue, so it makes sense that I would follow in his footsteps, especially since he carried nine of the twelve towns in the 33rd District,” he says.

“The thing is, this election is about more than me. It’s about more than any of the individual candidates or the parties they represent. Elected officials should be accountable to the people, not corporate lobbyists, but that’s no longer the reality – the people of Connecticut, and this country, have been sold out. I’m running because I want to help change that.”

In this election Bennett will take part in the Connecticut Citizens’ Election Program for the first time. According to Bennett, “The ability to fundraise has very little to do with the ability to be an effective legislator, especially when so many campaign contributions come from corporations, PACs and other special interest groups that are trying (successfully) to buy influence with candidates. Fortunately, the CEP is a big step in the correct direction.”

Bennett concludes, “People in the country are ready for and demanding change – Bernie and Trump have proven that. Given the (long overdue) anti-establishment political climate and with the support of the Citizens’ Election Program, the Bennett for Senate campaign is going all the way this year.”

For more information about Bennett, visit www.facebook.com/Bennett.for.Senate.

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Essex First Selectman Needleman Declares as State Senate Democratic Candidate

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman makes a point during his speech announcing his run for the State Senate.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman makes a point during his speech announcing his run for the State Senate.

AREAWIDE — Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman Tuesday announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 33rd Senate District, setting up a high profile contest with two-term Republican State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook in the sprawling 10-town district.

Needleman, 65, told a crowd of about 60 friends and supporters gathered at the Gelston House in East Haddam that  he is ready to offer “common sense, sound business judgment, problem-solving skills, and an awareness of how decisions made in Hartford affect our small towns.” Needleman said he would work to build consensus at the Capitol, suggesting the 28-year-old Linares has been “just another partisan voice,” who “retreats to his ideological corners.”

A large crowd of supporters attended the event at the Gelston House in East Haddam.

Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, Deputy Secretary of the State and former state representative James Spallone and Democratic State Central Committeeman Justin Kronholm applaud Needleman’s announcement

A Brooklyn, N.Y. native who moved to Connecticut in the 1980s, Needleman is the founder and owner of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturer of effervescent products with 200 employees and plants in Essex and Clinton. He was elected to the Essex Board of Selectmen in 2003 as the running mate to former Democratic First Selectman Phill Miller, moving up to the town’s top job after Miller was elected state representative in the 36th House District in 2011. Needleman was unopposed for a second term in 2013, and last fall was re-elected to a third term, defeating Republican Selectman Bruce Glowac by an 80-vote margin.

Needleman said he made a final decision to run for the legislative seat on March 29, the day Linares cast one of only a handful of opposing votes against an interim deficit reduction package that was backed by both Democratic and Republican leaders. Needleman said he is planning an active campaign, and hopes to participate in several public debates with Linares.

Needleman_shaking_hands

Deputy Secretary of the State and former state representative James Spallone congratulates Needleman on the announcement of his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 33rd Senate District

Several area  Democratic leaders turned out for Needleman’s announcement, including Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, who described Needleman as a “true humanitarian,” who is widely respected by all of the other mayors and first selectmen in the state.”

Also on hand were the current roster of Democratic chief elected officials in the 10-town district, including  seven-term Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, who described Needleman as “a man who understands the needs of Middlesex County,” Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, elected last fall, and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald Jr. who was appointed as interim first selectman earlier his month after the unexpected death of long-time first selectman Richard Smith.

There was also one apparent Republican supporter in attendance, longtime Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno.

The district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Lyme, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Linares, a co-founder of the Greenskies solar energy company, was elected in 2012 to a seat that had been held for two decades by the late former Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. Linares won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,672-17,326 vote in a race where Bjornberg also had the Working Families Party ballot line and Linares had a Connecticut Independent Party ballot line.

Needleman is the only candidate for the Democratic nomination that will be formally awarded at a May 23 convention. Republicans are expected to nominate Linares for a third term at a May 11 convention in East Haddam.  There may also be a Green Party candidate in the race. Colin Bennett of Westbrook, running on the Green Party line, garnered 527 votes in 2014.
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Essex Native Assumes Command of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron in San Diego

sailor pix 1ESSEX – The Navy Office of Community Outreach has announced that Essex native Cmdr. Robert Barr Kimnach, III assumed command of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49 in San Diego, California, on April 22.

A 1998 graduate of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Cmdr. Kimnach joined the Scorpions of HSM-49 in January of 2014 as executive officer. He was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1999 and has accumulated over 2,500 flight hours.

HSM-49 is made up of over 250 Sailors and ten MH-60R aircraft. The Scorpions source two aircraft MH-60R detachments for the Navy’s Cruiser and Destroyer warships.  Currently HSM-49 is supporting USS Momsen and USS Spruance as part of a Surface Action Group.

Cmdr. Kimnach’s personal decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and numerous campaign, unit and service awards.

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John Proctor Wins 2016 Generativity Award from Tri-Town Youth Services

 

Gail Beck, director of Tri-Town Youth Services, present award to John Proctor

Gail Beck, director of Tri-Town Youth Services, presents Generativity Award to John Proctor

REGION 4 – Tri-Town Youth Services’ 2016 Generativity Award was recently presented to John Proctor, Superintendent of Region 4 Schools, 1986-1998. John and his wife, Sherry, have been residents of Ivoryton since 1986, when he began his role of Superintendent of Schools here.

Upon retirement, John held a position at UConn, where he supervised teachers as well as student administrators. Over the years, he has made numerous presentations on the Civil War.

When John was Superintendent of Region 4 Schools, he said enthusiastically he was “here for the kids.” He made it a point to attend numerous school functions such as sports games, proms and banquets, and he was frequently seen in all schools.  His philosophy holds that each child is an individual with unique expectations, strengths and needs.  He believes students need to be informed, thinking citizens with well-developed character.  Over the years, he promoted youth developmental assets, including diversity.  He supported including social emotional programming in Region 4 schools.

John Proctor has received numerous awards. In Region 16 he was named Educational Leader of the Year.  A magazine, “Executive Educator,” named him as one of the best 100 small school superintendents.  A professional organization, Connecticut Association of Public Schools Superintendents, presented him with their Emeritus Award for 45 years of service.

Tri-Town Youth Services has presented a Generativity Award annually since 2005. Recipients of the award are people who, over time, have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to youth and have contributed significantly to building youth developmental assets.  Previous awardees include: Marilyn Malcarne, Rick Stabbins, Pat Kosky, Jane Cavanaugh, Ingrid Walsh, Rev. Tim Haut, Linda Hall, Barbara Nidzgorski, Phil Miller, Dr. Ruth Levy and Michael Fearon.

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

 

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Be an Adventurer with Estuary Council Group

estuary councilAREAWIDE – Estuary Council of Seniors Marshview Adventurers’ Group’s first meeting will be Tuesday, July 5, at 10:30 a.m. at the Estuary Council, 220 Main St., Old Saybrook.

Those of you who like to be active and busy have been asking the Estuary Council about starting a group for adventurers.

Do you bike, hike, kayak or walk the beach? The first meeting on July 5 will decide what the Estuary Council will be scheduling, what time of day, etc. Susan Graham will be the group leader. You may call her at 860-388-1611 ext. 208 for more information or visit the website at www.ecsenior.org. So it’s up to you to come to the meeting to meet Susan and talk about what outdoor group activities interest you.

 

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Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna Chastises Both Parties for Current Budget Mess 

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna. Photo from LinkedIn.com

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna. Photo from LinkedIn.com

In an exclusive interview with Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Jr., on May 2, Fortuna, a Republican, castigated the leadership of both parties for putting the state of Connecticut, “into a budgetary mess.” Fortuna expressed particular alarm that the state’s budgetary shortfall will be over $1.5 billion, “and that’s for this year alone,” he stressed.

“That is $1.5 million,” Fortuna repeated.

Furthermore, Fortuna said that in the next two years, the state’s budgetary shortfall would reach over $4 billion. He commented that a contributing factor to the state budget’s shortfall is, “Retired civil servants are living longer and longer.”

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Arts Festival to Honor Adam Haut in Deep River

all things artsy poster

DEEP RIVER – An Arts Festival, called “All Things Artsy,” will be held to honor the life of Adam Haut on Sunday, May 1, from 11:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the courtyard of the Deep River Congregational Church on Main Street in Deep River.

Photographers, painters, sculptors, jewelry makers, carvers, ceramic, glass, mixed media, poets, sewers, knitters, quilters, etc. are asked to submit a favorite piece of artwork to display or sell. The theme is “Animals, Nature, Love!”  All proceeds will be donated to Dog Days Adoption Events, Inc. in honor of Adam, who died Aug. 28, 2015.

Contact Sybil Higgins (christianed.drcc@snet.net or 860-526-5045) for more details.

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Renowned Jazz Musician Ronny Whyte Performs in Centerbrook April 30

Ronny Whyte_208_rtch
IVORYTON –
World-renowned jazz musician Ronny Whyte will be performing a benefit concert for the Ivoryton Players on Saturday, April 30, at 7 p.m. at Centerbrook Meeting House in Centerbrook. Mr. Whyte will perform an evening of songs from “The Great American Songbook,” including works by Gershwin, Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Ronny Whyte is not only considered a premier interpreter of classic American popular song, he is also an outstanding jazz pianist and an award-winning songwriter. He has been featured on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz on NPR and his lyric “Forget the Woman” was recorded by Tony Bennett. He produces and hosts “Midtown Jazz at Midday” in St. Peter’s in Manhattan and was inducted into the Cabaret Jazz Hall of Fame.

Whitney Balliett wrote in the New Yorker: “Whyte (handsome, dapper, easygoing) is a first class cabaret singer. His diction sparkles…his songs ring and float and shine.”

Ronny Whyte will be accompanied by bassist Boots Maleson. There will be a special guest appearance by Deborah Mott. Tickets are $25 and are available by calling 860-767-7318 or can be purchased at the door (seating is limited). A reception will follow the performance.

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Essex Resident Antonio C. Robaina Honored by Connecticut Bar Association

From left to right: CBA President, William H. Clendenen, Jr.; the Honorable Antonio C. Robaina, recipient of the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award; CBA Vice President, Karen DeMeola; and CBA President-elect, Monte E. Frank.

From left to right: CBA President, William H. Clendenen, Jr.; the Honorable Antonio C. Robaina, recipient of the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award; CBA Vice President, Karen DeMeola; and CBA President-elect, Monte E. Frank.

ESSEX – The Honorable Antonio C. Robaina was recently presented with the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award at the Connecticut Bar Association’s annual awards celebration, “Celebrate with the Stars,” in New Britain. Judge Robaina was selected based on nominations submitted to the CBA Awards Committee.

Judge Robaina was appointed to the Superior Court in 1998 and is currently assigned to the Hartford Judicial District as the presiding civil judge. From 2005 to 2010, he was the administrative judge in the Windham Judicial District; previously, Judge Robaina served as the presiding judge for civil matters in the New Haven Judicial District, as well as the assistant administrative judge. In 2002, Judge Robaina was the presiding judge for family matters in the Hartford Judicial District. He is one of the few judges who have served in a presiding role in civil, criminal, and family, and has served in judicial districts throughout the state as a trial judge in those same areas.

From 1979 to 1998, Judge Robaina was engaged in general practice in New Haven, which included plaintiff’s personal injury, insurance defense, criminal defense, immigration law, and family matters. He currently serves as a member of the adjunct faculty at Quinnipiac University.

Judge Robaina was one of the original founders and a member of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association and has served as the chairman of the Diversity Award Committee for the Lawyer’s Collaborative for Diversity. He has been a member of the Rules Committee of the judges of the superior court, and a number of other committees for the Judicial Branch and various bar organizations.

Judge Robaina has dedicated much of his time as a mediator in a variety of capacities. He has participated in the externship programs at both the University of Connecticut School of Law and Quinnipiac University Law School, has mentored law school students through the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association Mentoring Program, and  has mentored other  judges in  the Judicial Branch mentoring program. Judge Robaina has served as the co-chair of a bench/bar committee with respect to medical malpractice cases as well as the co-chair of the CBA Task Force for the Study of a Mentoring Program, which explored the establishment of a mandatory mentoring program for new lawyers in the state of Connecticut.

“Celebrate with the Stars” is dedicated to recognizing Connecticut’s top judges, lawyers and professionals who make a difference through their work by demonstrating allegiance, dedication, conscientious service, commitment and mentorship.

The recipient of the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award must meet the following criteria: he or she be a member of the Connecticut Judiciary, federal or state court, who has integrity and epitomizes long-term, dedicated, and conscientious service to the community in his or her judicial role; must be a hard-working judge who labors long in his or her duties; and who is selfless in his or her approach to the demands of the judge position.

Henry J. Naruk (1928-1991) of Middletown was the 60th president of the CBA. Under his presidency, the CBA successfully ran a then-record number of continuing legal education seminars that had been attended by approximately 5,300 Connecticut attorneys. Also under his astute leadership, the CBA created the Women and the Law Section in 1983.

 

From left to right: CBA President, William H. Clendenen, Jr.; the Honorable Antonio C. Robaina, recipient of the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award; CBA Vice President, Karen DeMeola; and CBA President-elect, Monte E. Frank.

 

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Lyme Art Association Hosts Opening Reception This Evening for Two New Shows

Del-Bouree Bach's 'The Good Life' is one of the signature paintings of the 2016 Elected Artist's Exhibition.

Del-Bouree Bach’s ‘The Good Life’ is one of the signature paintings of the 2016 Elected Artist’s Exhibition.

The Lyme Art Association (LAA) presents the annual showcase of the best new works of art by Elected Artists Members. These artists are professionals of note and significance whose works are known, collected, and exhibited throughout the country, as well as along the Shoreline. The LAA hosts an opening reception for this show and Body Language, displaying artwork based on the human figure in all its forms, on Friday, April 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. All are welcome and admission is free — come and meet the artists, enjoy the music and celebrate fine art.

The 95th Annual Elected Artist Exhibition and Body Language are both on view through June 3, 2016.

Also on view in The Art Market is an unjuried show featuring an entirely new collection of affordable smaller works. All artwork on display is for sale.

The Lyme Art Association was founded in 1914 by the American Impressionists and continues the tradition of exhibiting and selling representational artwork by its members and invited artists, as well as offering art instruction and lectures to the community. The Association is located at 90 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT, in a building designed by Charles Adams Platt located within an historic district. Admission is free with contributions appreciated.

Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm, or by appointment.

For more information on exhibitions, purchase of art, art classes, or becoming a member, call 860-434-7802 or visit www.lymeartassociation.org

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Trump Carries Three Local Towns in GOP Presidential Primary, Democrats Split

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Hilary Clinton

Hilary Clinton

AREAWIDE — Businessman Donald Trump carried Chester, Deep River and Essex as he rolled to a sweeping victory Tuesday in the state presidential primary, while Hillary Clinton carried Essex and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took Chester and Deep River in the Democratic vote.

Clinton, who won the statewide vote, led Sanders in Essex 513-458, with 13 voting uncommitted. In Deep River, Sanders led 339-242, with 6 uncommitted. In Chester, Sanders led  361-277, with 7 uncommitted.

In  the Republican contest, Trump took Essex with 407 votes, with Ohio Governor John Kasich polling 297 votes. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had 73 votes, with 10 uncommitted. In Deep River, Trump led Kasich 173-94, with  29 votes for Cruz and 4 uncommitted. In Chester, Trump led Kasich 133-103, with 27 votes for Cruz and 3 uncommitted.
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Middlesex Community Foundation Honors Ivoryton Playhouse, Broadway Actor

Photo by Donna Bowden

Students “high-five” the cast of “Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical” at the Ivoryton Playhouse. Photo by Donna Bowden

IVORYTON – The Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC) recently presented the Bully-Free Communities Spotlight Award to the Ivoryton Playhouse and to Broadway actor Douglas Lyons for their work in creating and presenting educational productions that foster positive, healthy behaviors and attitudes among young people.

The recipients were recognized at the April 11 world premiere of “Polkadots:The Cool Kids Musical,” which was co-conceived and written by Lyons and performed at the Playhouse for over 1400 elementary school students from Clinton, Chester, Deep River, Essex, Middletown and Portland, in addition to the general public. The CFMC Council of Business Partners Fund, a donor advised fund started in 2009 by a group of local business owners in support of school-based anti-bullying initiatives, in partnership with other organizations, provided financial support for the production and, when necessary, bus transportation for the school systems.

Two years ago, CFMC and its Council of Business Partners launched the Campaign for Bully-Free Communities, calling upon students, educators, civic leaders, businesses, community organizations, neighbors and friends to stand together for change and to make all of Middlesex County a bully-free zone. The Ivoryton Playhouse responded with enthusiasm and energy, first staging the premiere of the Off Broadway musical “The Bully” in April 2015, and then making the decision to bring the Douglas Lyons’ original work and universal message of respect and acceptance to elementary school children this year.

“Polkadots” tells the story of Lily Polkadot and her journey to acceptance with the help of her new friend Sky Square in the “Squares Only” town of Rockaway. At the opening night pre-show reception, which took place at Six Summit Gallery in Ivoryton, Mr. Lyons and his creative team spoke about how the events of the Little Rock Nine in 1957 served as the inspiration for the show. Prior to the school performances, a curriculum guide, developed by Rushford, a Hartford HealthCare Partner, was provided for teachers to talk about topics in the musical before the students saw it. Additional financial support for the production was provided by Marc Blakeman, The Bauman Family Foundation, The Essex Community Fund, and The Thomas J. Atkins Memorial Trust Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee.

“The Ivoryton Playhouse’s commitment to educational, children’s productions that celebrate our differences and promote positive behavior is spotlight worthy. They truly understand the power of partnership and giving voice to valuable life lessons,” said CFMC CEO and President Cynthia Clegg. “We are thrilled that they opened the door for ‘Polkadots’ to have its world premiere here in Middlesex County, and for introducing all of us to the vision and great talent of Doug Lyons and his creative team.”

The Ivoryton Playhouse  and Doug Lyons were awarded the Spotlight Award specifically for taking to heart the Campaign for Bully-Free Communities initiative of encouraging everyone to be an UPstander, not a bystander; and for their demonstrated commitment to being “Agents of Change” and ensuring that community youth have the support they need to grow and develop in a healthy and safe environment. For more information on the Campaign for Bully-Free Communities, go to bullyfreemiddlesexcountycf.org or call 860-347-0025.

 

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Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13’s Newest Eagle Scout

Ben Toles Eagle336

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 newest Eagle Scout Benjamin James Toles with one of the staircases built at Sachem Village Camp Hazen YMCA. Photo by Lianne Rutty

CHESTER – Troop 13 – Boy Scouts of America congratulates Benjamin James Toles of Chester for earning the rank of Eagle Scout. An Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held for Toles on Sunday, March 20, at the Chester Meeting House.

To become an Eagle Scout, Toles earned 38 merit badges and advanced through the seven scout ranks by learning Scout and Life skills while simultaneously providing leadership to Troop 13 and service to his community.

One of the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the boy’s community, school or religious institution.  Toles used leadership skills he learned by attending summer camp with Troop 13, participating in the Troop 13 Philmont Trek in 2014 , attending the 2013 National Boy Scout Jamboree and successfully completing the Boy Scouts National Youth Leadership Training.

Toles’s Eagle Scout Service project involved developing and implementing a plan to demo eleven sets of non-compliant aged wooden stairways on cabins in and around the Sachem Village portion on the grounds of Camp Hazen YMCA and replace them with new treated wood, code-compliant steps, platform and railings.

Completing this project entailed working with various private groups, securing donations for supplies, and designing and overseeing volunteers through the demolition, construction and installation period. The completed project improved the safety of the venue while maintaining its rustic appearance. This project is a benefit to all the visitors, schools and youth groups that utilize the facilities of Camp Hazen in Chester.

Toles is a senior at Valley Regional High School and a member of the men’s cross country and the men’s track and field team. He plans to attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall.

About Troop 13 – BSA: Troop 13 Boy Scouts serves boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young men develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these young men to develop into strong healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead. The Boy Scout methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun. To learn more information about joining Troop 13, contact Scoutmaster Steven Merola at 860-526-9262.

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Despite Significant Increase in State Taxes for Middlesex Hospital, Steps Taken to Ensure Patient Care Not Adversely Affected

Front view of Middlesex Hospital's Shoreline Medical Center at Westbrook.

Middlesex Hospital’s recently opened Shoreline Medical Center at Westbrook.

The question of increased taxes due by Connecticut hospitals to the state has been much in the news recently. ValleyNewsNow.com therefore asked Peg Arico, Director of Public Rations and Communications at Middlesex Hospital (which also operates the Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook) to comment on the impact to the hospital of these tax increases along with cuts in state aid.

She responded, “As a result of the increases in hospital taxes approved by the governor and the state legislature for fiscal year 2016, Middlesex Hospital will pay the state approximately $21 million this year in taxes, compared to $14 million in 2015.” Arico continued, “As part of this tax process, this year’s state budget provided for supplemental payments to Middlesex Hospital of about $6 million. The governor cut these payments to zero back in September. However, recently the state legislature voted to reinstate about half of his funding.”

“Despite the negative impact of all of these changes,” Arico noted, “the hospital has managed to maintain a positive operating gain so far this year, but its operating performance has declined significantly. Hospitals throughout the state are experiencing similar financial issues, due to the enormous increase in hospital taxes imposed by the state.” She continued, “Even before the recent increase in taxes by the state, Middlesex Hospital, for the past several years, has been proactive in its fiscal management and has been implementing various measures to improve the efficiency its operations.  Providing high quality and safe patient care to the community is the Hospital’s primary mission. In developing strategies to address the impact of these increased state taxes, Middlesex Hospital has taken careful and deliberate steps to ensure that patient care will not be negatively affected.”

Arico concluded, “In essence, Middlesex Hospital, like hospitals throughout the state, is ‘doing more with less.’ However, Middlesex is now quickly approaching a “tipping point.” At the current time, all Connecticut hospitals have fewer resources available to invest in the future. If the state imposes additional tax increases on hospitals, the impact on Middlesex Hospital’s finances will become increasingly challenged, and will likely necessitate more drastic cost-cutting measures.”

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Democrat Angus McDonald Jr. Takes Office as Interim First Selectman for Deep River

A new Interim First Selectman for Deep River was sworn in April 21.

A new Interim First Selectman for Deep River was sworn in April 21.

DEEP RIVER — Democrat Angus McDonald Jr. was sworn into office as interim first selectman Thursday after he and Republican Selectman David Olveria voted for his appointment to serve the remainder of the unexpired term of the late Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith.

McDonald, 58, becomes the town’s first new first selectman since November 1989, when Smith was first elected for what would become more than 13 two-year terms in the top job.  McDonald will serve the remainder of the unexpired term ending on Nov. 22, 2017.
The two remaining selectmen had 30 days from Smith’s unexpected death on March 25 to appoint a successor, a period that was expected to expire Monday.  McDonald and Oliveria had discussed the appointment in two closed session special meetings held on April 7 and April 18.

Oliveria, in making a motion to appoint McDonald, said, “We have considered all options in front of us and feel that this is the right choice for Deep River at this time.”  McDonald said he looks forward to working in the best interests of the town over the next 20 months.  “It’s an honor to be in this position and to be asked to do it,” he said, adding that he and Oliveria’s agreement on the appointment is, “A good example of how a small town can pull together.”

The co-owner of an Old Saybrook-based engineering firm, McDonald moved to Deep River in 2005 after living previously in Old Saybrook and Westbrook.  He was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for first selectman of Westbrook in 1999, and served on the Westbrook Board of Selectmen.  McDonald was first elected to the Deep River Board of Selectmen as Smith’s running-mate in 2011.  He is married to Andrea Isaacs, and the couple own the Lace Factory building near the town’s riverfront landing.

Minutes after the appointment vote, McDonald received the oath of office from Town Clerk Amy Winchell.  McDonald’s appointment creates a new vacancy ion the board of selectmen, an opening that McDonald and Oliveria now have 30 days, or until about May 20, to fill by appointment.

McDonald said any resident interested in serving as selectman through November 2017 should send a letter of intent and qualifications to his office as soon as possible. McDonald said the interim selectman does not have to be a Democrat, with Oliveria saying qualifications and “a cooperative board” would be factors in the appointment decision.

The interim appointments could be forced to special elections with petitions signed by five percent of the town’s total voter registration, or about 158 signatures.  Petitions must be filed within 15 days of an appointment.
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Kyle Carey in Concert with “Gaelic Americana” at The Kate

kyle-promo-3

OLD SAYROOK – The Katharine Hepburn Theatre presents Kyle Carey in concert on Thursday, June 23, at 7:30 p.m.

The ingredients of Kyle Carey’s music include the songs of the American Folk Anthology, the Appalachian poetry of Louise McNeill, and the traditional music of Ireland, Cape Breton and Scotland. The results are well described by Jeremy Searle of R2 Magazine: “Kyle Carey is, quite simply, a delight. Drawing from both the American and British folk traditions, her songs, including some very fine originals, are beautifully crafted and performed. She’s assured, confident, charming and irresistible.”

Kyle’s debut album Monongah, produced by former Lùnasa guitarist Donogh Hennessy, rose to number eight on the Folk DJ charts, landing on a number of “Best of 2011”lists by year’s end. Her original songs draw heavily from the American folk tradition, while her fluency in Scottish Gaelic makes for her own brand of “Gaelic Americana” music.

Kyle’s sophomore release North Star recorded in Scotland and produced by Solas founding member Seamus Egan was released in the fall of 2014 to widespread critical acclaim, charting at #45 in the top 200 CDs of 2014 compiled by Folk DJs nationwide.

Having toured for five years on both sides of the Atlantic, Kyle Carey is a unique and innovative artist not to be missed. Doors open at 7 and the show begins at 7:30. Tickets are $20 to the general public and can be reserved by calling 877-503-1286 or by visiting www.katharinehepburntheatre.org. The theater is at 300 Main St., Old Saybrook. More information: www.kyleannecarey.com and www.katharinehepburntheatre.org.

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Essex Savings Bank Announces 2016 Community Investment Balloting Results

essex savings bank
ESSEX
 – Results from Essex Savings Bank’s customers recent voting 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 April 12. According to Thomas Lindner, Vice President and Community Relations Officer for Essex Savings Bank, 7,206 votes were cast this year for a total of $33,001.

The non-profits that received the top 10 number of votes were in attendance for special recognition. They are, in order: Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, Forgotten Felines, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Valley Shore Animal Welfare League, Old Saybrook Fire Company Number One, Bikes for Kids, Dog Days Adoption Events, Essex Fire Engine Company Number 1, Tait’s Every Animal Matters (TEAM) and Pet Connections.  See full results here.

The customer balloting portion of Essex Savings Bank’s 2016 Community Investment Program began on Feb. 1 and concluded on Feb. 29. The program entitled the bank’s customers to select up to three charities from this year’s list of 80 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, said, “As we celebrate our 165th year of operation, we are proud to share in our success 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 up to 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. Since the program’s inception in 1996, the bank has donated over $4 million to well over 200 organizations. This year, the bank has allocated $110,000 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.

Editor’s note: 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 providing a full complement of personal and business banking. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Department and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC.

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Essex Zoning Commission Approves Centerbrook Cumberland Farms Rebuild, Expansion

ESSEX — The zoning commission has approved a special permit for a demolition/rebuild and expansion of the Cumberland Farms store in Centerbrook section. The permit was approved on a unanimous vote Monday night after the panel closed a three session public heating on the project.

The permit will allow a 4,250 square-foot store that would double the size of the existing building, along with a third gasoline pumping station. The new building would also have public restrooms, a first for the Centerbrook section.

The project had drawn opposition from some residents over the three public hearings, with most objections focused on the size of the canopy over the six gasoline fueling stations. Some residents questioned the need for a third pump, though attorney Joseph Williams, representing Cumberland Farms, said the company would not pursue the expansion and improvement project without a third gasoline pump.

The commission imposed several conditions on the permit approval, setting the length of the canopy at 74 feet, and requiring a fire suppression system as part of the structure. The panel required a 24-foot distance between fueling stations, while also calling for the pumps to be set at an angle unless engineers for the applicant convince town engineers that this would interfere with traffic flow on the property. The panel also required two additional parking spaces, raising the total number of designated spaces to 24, with an area for eight reserve parking spaces to be designated on the site plan.

Another key condition requires the applicant to present a more detailed drawing of the south sight line along Westbrook Rd. (Rte. 153), particularly the abutting residential property on Westbrook Rd. that is owned by Town Clerk Joel Marzi. Marzi had asked for more information on the sight lines at Monday’s session, with commission member Alvin Wolfgram noting the issue is important because Marzi has the right to erect a fence on his property that could block sight line for motorists exiting on to Westbrook Rd.

The commission has continued a separate public hearing on site plan approval for a 52-unit apartment complex on Plains Rd. to a special meeting scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. in town hall. The multi-family housing development would be located on a 3.7-acre parcel that would be created by combining parcels at 21, 27, and 29 Plains Rd., including the site of the long vacant former Iron Chef restaurant property. The apartments would be constructed in three separate buildings, with 16 units designated as affordable housing under a state law intended to encourage development of more affordable housing in Connecticut.

The plans for the Essex Station Luxury Apartments were first presented at a Feb. 22 public hearing that has been continued two times, on March 21 and Monday. Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said the panel intends to close the public hearing Monday, and would then have 65 days, or until late June, to vote on the site plan approval.

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Essex Republican Town Committee Endorses Linares and Siegrist

ESSEX – At its monthly meeting, the Essex Republican Town Committee  (ERTC) endorsed candidates for the upcoming  election in November.

State Senator Art Linares, the incumbent from Connecticut’s 33rd Senate District, and Bob Siegrist, the challenger  in Connecticut’s 36th House District, received unanimous endorsements from the committee.

“These candidates bring fresh and unique perspectives that are essential when addressing the current budget crisis in Connecticut,” said ERTC Chairman Bruce MacMillian. “We have an opportunity to elect a legislature that addresses the budget, jobs and unfunded mandates – the issues that hit home with everyone.”

 

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Chester Resident Adams Signs to Play Baseball at Mitchell College in Fall

Buzz Adams signs his Letter of Intent to play baseball at Mitchell College

Buzz Adams signs his Letter of Intent to play baseball at Mitchell College

CHESTER — Buzz Adams, a senior at Plainville High School, whose family recently moved to Chester, has signed a Letter of Intent to play baseball at Mitchell College in the fall.

Congratulations, Buzz!

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Chester Sunday Market is Open Sundays for the Season

ChesterSundayMarketLogoCHESTER – The Chester Sunday Market takes place on Sundays through the summer.

The vendors are all listed on the Market’s website (http://chestersundaymarket.jimdo.com), with links to their websites.  They are:

  • Seven farms bringing produce – Chatfield Hollow Farm, Deep Hollow Farms, Dondero Orchards, Hunts Brook Farm, Sage Hill Farm, Upper Pond Farm and Wellstone Farm.
  • Meat, fish and poultry from Four Mile River Farm, Gourmavian Farms, Maple Breeze Farm and The Local Catch.
  • Beltane Farm bringing cheese & dairy products.
  • Bread from Alforno Restaurant and Howard’s Breads.
  • Plus, flowers and honey and jams and pickles and biscotti from: Hay House, Stonewall Apiary, Little Bird Provision Co. and Biscotti and Beyond.

Live music is lined up for each week, beginning on June 12 with Deep Blue Remedy. The bands play from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In the words of the organizers: “The philosophy of the Chester Sunday Market is to bring the community together with local products and to have a good time doing it. It is a weekly town-wide farmers’ market that brings our community together. We invite local vendors to sell produce, meats, cheeses, breads and so much more.  Our goal is to stay local so we can help the smaller farmers in the area. Having all these amazing vendors join us in our lovely little town is a great way to promote our community and see each other. Main Street is closed off for the market giving the patrons the freedom to walk about town. Music is provided along with a bistro area so you can sit and have a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza.”

Market hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Because Main Street is closed to traffic between West Main St. (Rte. 148) and Maple St., shoppers are invited to park in the town public parking lots on Maple Street and at 20 Water St. (Rte. 148). Well-behaved dogs are welcome.

Shops and galleries are open during Market hours and often offer special happenings. You can find late breakfast or lunch at the restaurants in Chester Center, or buy some pizza on the street from one of the vendors, Frank Andrews Mobile Kitchen.

More information about the Chester Sunday Market at: Facebook.com/ChesterSundayMarket and http://chestersundaymarket.jimdo.com/. You can also find out more about Chester at Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT and Facebook.com/AlwaysonSundayinChester.

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Deep River Housing Authority Breaks Ground for Addition to Kirtland Commons Affordable Housing

Participating in the ground-breaking ceremony at Kirtland Commons last Friday were (from left to right) Karl Kilduff, Executive Director, CHFA (CT Housing Finance Authority), Helen Muniz, Community Development Specialist, State of Connecticut Department of Housing, Joann Hourigan, Executive Director, Deep River Housing Authority, Jim LaRosa , Chief Operating Officer, LaRosa Building Group, Chris Widmer, Architect, Mazie Dennison, Tenant Commissioner, DRHA, and Dave Oliveria, Selectman, Town of Deep River.

Participating in the ground-breaking ceremony at Kirtland Commons last Friday were (from left to right) Karl Kilduff, Executive Director, CHFA (CT Housing Finance Authority), Helen Muniz, Community Development Specialist, State of Connecticut Department of Housing, Joann Hourigan, Executive Director, Deep River Housing Authority, Jim LaRosa , Chief Operating Officer, LaRosa Building Group, Chris Widmer, Architect, Mazie Dennison, Tenant Commissioner, DRHA, and Dave Oliveria, Selectman, Town of Deep River.

Deep River Housing Authority breaks ground for an 18 unit addition to Kirtland Commons, its Elderly/Disabled affordable housing facility. The project also includes rehab to the existing 26 units.

DEEP RIVER — The Deep River Housing Authority (DRHA) hosted a ground-breaking ceremony Friday at its elderly/disabled income-based housing facility, Kirtland Commons, located at 60 Main St. in Deep River.  The current facility has been providing housing for the past 23 years and currently has 26 one-bedroom apartment units that are available to seniors aged 62 and over, as well as disabled individuals.

The new addition will provide an additional 18 one-bedroom units.  The project is made possible through a $3.2 million dollar grant and $1 million dollar recoverable grant from the State of Connecticut, Department of Housing (DOH.)  In addition to the new units, the existing units will be rehabbed including new doors, windows and heating conversion to natural gas. 

Joann Hourigan, Executive Director of DRHA, will oversee the project with the assistance of Dale Kroop, Consultant and the DRHA Board of Directors.  La Rosa Building Group LLC, headquartered in Meriden, is the general contractor and Chris Widmer of Guilford, Conn., is the Principal Architect.  The project is scheduled for completion in the early spring of 2017.

“Until there is a need, people generally don’t understand that the availability of affordable housing is limited.  I receive calls every week for people who can no longer afford to maintain their homes on their limited income.  They are surprised to learn that submitting an application places them on a waiting list with recent wait times of two years or longer,” said Hourigan. 

She continued, “The new units will increase our ability to provide much needed housing as well as help the DRHA spread its operating expenses over a broader base.  Without this expansion, we were not on a sustainable course.  The process to obtain funding has been long and difficult.  We have been seeking funding for about five years and the Champ V grant was awarded in 2014.  We are so excited to finally break ground.”

Helen Muniz, DOH, stated that the grants represent the State of Connecticut’s commitment to expand the availability of affordable housing.  In a press release in January of this year, Governor Malloy stated, “Housing is key to economic growth, and that’s why we’re taking steps like never before.  We’ve done more on housing in the past few years than we’ve done in the past few decades, and in 2015, we continued to make significant stridesEvery resident of Connecticut should have access to quality, safe, and affordable housing,”

While the grants provide the majority of funding for this project, there are additional projects and funding needs.  Last December, DRHA kicked off a “Buy a Brick” fundraising campaign.  Commemorative bricks are available for $50 and $100 and will be placed in an outdoor sitting area in front of the building.  Forms for buying bricks will be made available at several events throughout the year, and can also be obtained by contacting Hourigan directly at (860) 526-5119.

Kirtland Commons is owned and operated by the DRHA and reports to the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA).  DRHA consists of the Executive Director; a four member volunteer board appointed by the Deep River First Selectman; and a Resident Commissioner (who resides at Kirtland Commons and acts as a resident representative).  The board is committed to providing high quality, well maintained affordable housing and promoting a welcoming, family atmosphere.

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“Clouds & Shadows” Exhibition on View at Essex Art Association Through June 25

Judy plein air painting in Chester

Dianne Gorrick plein air painting in Chester

ESSEX – The Essex Art Association will continue its 2016 season with the Elected Artists Member Show, which is on view through June 25. Juror, Judy Atlas, is an exhibiting member of City Gallery in New Haven and teaches art classes at Creative Arts Workshop, also in New Haven. A total of $1900 in award money will be given to exhibiting artists for their work in various media.

Each season five EAA artists are selected by a juror to exhibit their work in the small “Exit Gallery.” The Exit Gallery artist during this exhibition is plein air painter Dianne Gorrick, who creates vibrant works of art depicting the beauty of the natural world. Although she selects peaceful subjects, her paintings are invigorated by bright colors and impasto painting.

Gorrick explains that the thick application of paint gives the paintings “a three-dimensional quality,” which enhances the sense of depth within her compositions. Concerning her technique, she writes, “I would say my style is Romanticized Realism. I want the viewer to be drawn into the scene and to enjoy looking at the painting.”

Gorrick’s paintings display skill and knowledge, which she acquired from years of study and exploration. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and a master’s in Studio Art from Wesleyan University, she continued her education in painting at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, Dartmouth College and the Scottsdale Artist School with the Plein Air Painters of America.

Her artwork has been exhibited throughout the state of Connecticut, earning numerous awards and grants over the years. She is the recipient of two National Endowment Fellowships; a research grant concerning the Hudson River School of Painters and a fellowship to attend Dartmouth College, where she studied the art and culture of New England. Her work has been included in exhibitions at the Wadsworth Athenaeum, the New Britain Museum, the Slater Museum, and the Ward-Nasse Gallery in NYC.

She is an Elected Artist of the Essex Art Association and the Mystic Art Center. Currently, she teaches painting and drawing at the Glastonbury Art Guild. Gorrick had a long and rewarding career as an art educator in the public school system at Bacon Academy, where she also served as department head.

The Essex Art Association Gallery is located in the sunny yellow building in the center of Essex at 10 North Main Street. Gallery hours are 1-5 p.m. daily, closed Tuesdays. For more information, call 860-767-8996.

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Eric Fresia to Perform Concert in the Garden, June 16

Eric Fresia

CHESTER – The Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery at One Spring Street in Chester, presents the next  Concert in the Garden on Thursday, June 16, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Nova Scotia Singer Songwriter Eric Fresia will perform.

Eric Fresia’s eighth album is a stripped-down honest portrayal of his 30 years as a singer songwriter. The album was inspired by a six-month journey in 2015 from London to Morocco, and time spent living in Provence, Barcelona and Andalusia. There are echoes of North African blues and Moroccan rhythms throughout. Eric’s new album is a songbook filled with stories from the road. After years of trying different bands from a four-piece roots/rock band to an eight-piece world music ensemble, and ten years of touring as a trio with two of his children, he is performing these new songs solo, just the way they were written, with one mic, one voice and one guitar. The new album will be released at the 8th Beckwith Bash music festival Aug. 20, 2016 in the Fresias’ backyard. More information at http://ericfresia.com/.

A $20 donation at the door is requested. Feel free to BYOB and picnic and enjoy the outdoor bistro style seating in the amphitheater (inside the gallery if inclement weather).

Gates open a half hour before the show. First come first seated. Sorry, no pets allowed.
For more information, call (860) 526-2077 or visit http://www.nilssonstudio.com.

 

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Op-Ed: Carney Says Proposed State Education Budget Cuts Will Seriously Impact 23rd District

State Rep. Devin Carney

State Rep. Devin Carney

Does Governor Malloy have a problem with communities that succeed? This is a question we need to ask ourselves. Year after year, the schools of the 23rd District work diligently to provide quality education to our youth. Our teachers and administrators add to the success of our state by instilling the proper foundation to produce the industrial, business, and community leaders of tomorrow. Many of our best and the brightest students chose to continue their education in Connecticut – something of which the governor should be incredibly proud. Just last year the valedictorians from Region 18 (Lyme and Old Lyme) and Westbrook as well as the salutatorian from Old Saybrook chose UConn.

We have seen two budget proposals over the past two weeks that would do damage to the schools in the 23rd District. The Democrat-controlled Appropriations Committee released an incomplete budget that would cut Education Cost Sharing (“ECS”) funding to the towns in our district by 33 – 56%. This was bad enough. But, under the governor’s updated proposal, the four towns in the 23rd went from receiving a recommended amount of $1,831,496 in ECS funding to $0 for FY 2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017). A total of 28 towns were zeroed-out, while many cities, like the governor’s hometown of Stamford, were held harmless. Talk about a shared sacrifice.

These proposed cuts – made at a time when most local Boards of Finance are crafting their own fiscal year budgets – are unfair. The clear lack of respect and care on the governor’s part is alarming. All four towns in the 23rd District will now have funding gaps and may require local property tax increases to offset them. This would add an even greater burden to Connecticut’s taxpayers and Connecticut simply cannot afford to lose additional wealth at this time. However, that’s where these indirect tax hikes would be directed – all 28 communities being zeroed-out are considered ‘wealthy’.

Although these cuts are debilitating to small towns like ours – which already receive far less back from the state than we put in – we must keep in mind that this is only a proposal.

I remain committed to finding a solution with other members of the legislature to address this inequitable cut to our towns and to solving our $930 million deficit. The state wants people to move to Connecticut and one of our best selling points is our top-tier education. While we are faced with many serious and pressing economic issues, predominantly the ongoing budget crisis, great public education is one area on which we can pride ourselves.

I have written a letter to the governor urging him not to turn his back on the children and the taxpayers of the 23rd District and to request that he amend his updated budget and eliminate these cuts. The taxpayers of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook provide a great deal to this state and the deficits would be much, much higher without us. If either the legislature’s or the governor’s cuts are enacted, then it would be only fair that some of the approximately 380 unfunded state educational mandates be eliminated.

Instead of education, the governor and the legislature must look to balance the budget through real structural changes in the way state government is run. Changes could include pension and benefit reform, re-negotiating of union contracts, a moratorium on unnecessary government projects, serious spending and bonding caps, and tighter controls on overtime. When I last checked, many don’t live in Connecticut for bloated government overtime, but they do for our great schools. In fact, it may just be the only thing keeping them here.

To read my letter to Governor Malloy: click here

To see how Connecticut towns fare under the Appropriations budget: click here

To see how Connecticut towns fare under the governor’s budget: click here

To read the governor’s budget proposal: click here

To see the approximately 380 unfunded educational mandates: click here

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“Invaders” Exhibit Now Open at CT River Museum

InvadersExhibit2016.Sponsors a

Sponsors of the exhibit gathered for a sneak peek prior to the Invaders: They Come by Air, Land and Water exhibit opening at the Connecticut River Museum. From left to right are: John Lombardo, Stephen and Viola Tagliatela from Saybrook Point Inn and Spa; Thayer Talbot from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; Representative Phil Miller; Cynthia Clegg from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; Joanne Masin and Christopher Dobbs from the Connecticut River Museum; Brenda Kestenbaum from Eyewitness News (WFSB); and Tony Marino and Marilyn Ozols from the Rockfall Foundation.

ESSEX – On Thursday night, March 31, the Connecticut River Museum unveiled its 2016 feature exhibit, Invaders: They Come by Air, Land and Water. The exhibit explores one of the most significant threats today to the 410-mile-long Connecticut River Valley:  invasive species.

Representative Phil Miller was one of many honored public figures and supporters in attendance. Miller said, “I’m thrilled that the State of Connecticut was able to provide some support for this important project and I encourage everyone to come out and see this great show.   Building public awareness is a big part of the solution to the problem of invasive species.”

The vibrantly campy, yet serious exhibit was in production for two years and involved numerous organizations including Channel 3 Eyewitness News, the Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, the Connecticut DEEP Marine Fisheries Division, and the Long Island Sound Study. Stunned by the creative energy and theatrical elements of the exhibit, one observer said, “Move over Universal Studios.”

Taking on the feel of a classic, 1950s Ed Wood science fiction monster movie, the exhibit explores the many air, land and water invasive species to our region. Critical environmental, economic and recreational impacts are highlighted and help to answer why we should care about this invasion.  More importantly, according to the museum’s executive director Christopher Dobbs, “The exhibit provides information on how we can make a difference by changing our habits, identifying invasive species before they are established, and getting involved with environmental organizations such as local land trusts.”

Stephen Tagliatela, owner of Saybrook Point Inn, said, “We are proud to support this kind of effort. The Connecticut River is one of our great regional and national assets.  It is something that brings visitors to the area and it is our duty to ensure its vitality.”

The Invaders exhibit is on public display now through Oct.10.  It has been made possible by Presenting Sponsor Long Island Sound Study.  Other dedicated sponsors include: Channel 3 Eyewitness News; the William and Alice Mortensen Foundation; the Rockfall Foundation; the Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of Tourism; the Community Foundation of Middlesex County; the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa; the Edgard & Geraldine Feder Foundation; and the many supporters of the Connecticut River Museum.

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex, and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is the only museum dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley.

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Old Saybrook Seeks Proposals for Mariner’s Way

old saybrook town sealOLD SAYBROOK – The Town of Old Saybrook is seeking proposals from a team of qualified consultants to further refine plans for Mariner’s Way that will lead to successful redevelopment of this area that encompasses multiple brownfields. This team of consultants should have demonstrated experience in similar planning activities that successfully revitalized an area of a community blighted by brownfields.

Planning activities will include:

Economic/Market Analysis, and Place Branding;

Current Conditions and Site Analysis;

Road and Streetscape Plan; and

Site Reuse/Redevelopment and Façade Improvement Plan.

All elements will include public input from informational meetings and charrettes.

The Town expects the results to yield a final report that refines the concepts established in the Mariner’s Way Plan and outlines specific steps to move the plan forward.

Funding for this project is provided by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). The RFP is available on the Town’s website at www.oldsaybrookct.gov. Printed copies of the RFP are available at the Land Use Dept., 302 Main St., Old Saybrook, CT, 06475. The deadline to submit completed proposals is 3 p.m., Thursday, May 12, 2016.

 

AN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION/EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER: The Town of Old Saybrook encourages Minority/Women/Small Business Enterprises to respond to the Request for Proposals.

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Community Music School Jazz Ensemble in Concert, June 11

Community Music School Jazz Ensemble

Community Music School Jazz Ensemble

CENTERBROOK – Community Music School will present a concert by the CMS Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Tom Briggs on Saturday, June 11, at 7:30 pm at the Centerbrook Meetinghouse, 51 Main Street, Centerbrook.

The ensemble, comprised of students ages 12 to 17, will perform a mixed repertoire of blues, traditional jazz standards, swing, Latin jazz and one new original song. The concert will feature group ensemble performance with an emphasis on improvisation. The concert is free and open to the public. Please call 860-767-0026 for additional information.

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Essex Garden Club Offers Scholarship

ESSEX – The Essex Garden Club is offering a $1,000 scholarship for the school year 2016-2017. To be considered for this scholarship, applicants must be

  1. a resident of Essex, Centerbrook or Ivoryton, CT

2. a high school senior or undergraduate/graduate college student

3. have a “B” or better GPA

4.  be planning to pursue studies related to the environment in an accredited two-year or four-year institute of higher learning. Fields of study may include: Agriculture, Biology, Ecology, Horticulture, Forestry, Environmental Science and Engineering.  Closely related subjects may also apply: Land Conservation, Landscape Design, Nursery Management.

Application forms are available from Guidance Counselors, or go to essexgardenclubct.org. The deadline for receipt of applications is April 25, 2016. For more information call 860-581-8206.

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CT River Museum Trustees Visit State Capitol

Connecticut River Museum Board of Trustees Chair Joanne Masin, Sen. Art Linares and Connecticut River Museum Trustee Eileen Angelini.

Connecticut River Museum Board of Trustees Chair Joanne Masin, Sen. Art Linares and Connecticut River Museum Trustee Eileen Angelini.

ESSEX – Historical societies and preservationists from across the state gathered at the State Capitol last month to raise awareness about their organizations’ dedication to promoting Connecticut’s heritage for present and future generations.

The Connecticut River Museum (www.ctrivermuseum.org) was among the groups that travelled to Hartford to speak with Sen. Art Linares (www.senatorlinares.com) and other state lawmakers.

The museum’s mission is to lead in the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley. By deepening understanding of the river’s importance to past generations, the museum aims to inspire the stewardship of future generations.

The museum maintains its National Registered buildings on Steamboat Dock in Essex, and provides a spectacular waterfront park as a venue for museum functions, community events and quiet reflection.

 

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Detox Program at Essex Wellness Center Started April 16

Dr. Dana Krete

Dr. Dana Krete

ESSEX – Do you want to increase your energy, lose weight, charge up your immune system and improve your overall health? Have you been trying to improve your diet, decrease your sugar intake and lose weight, but have a hard time sticking with it and staying motivated?

Dr. Dana Krete will lead a four-week group detox program at the Essex Wellness Center starting April 16.

With this program you will be guided, motivated and supported through the detox program that includes a two-week detox that’s both safe and effective, and will leave you feeling re-energized for spring and on track to reach your goals.

You will be using a high-quality, hypoallergenic, user-friendly program that includes two shakes per day, supplements twice per day, and a “clean” meal plus healthy snacks. Meals and snacks will be prepared by you, so they are made of fresh, wholesome ingredients. This means this is not a product-heavy program, but one that uses mostly real food. Dr. Krete will guide you through this process, so you know what foods to eliminate and what foods to include.

Dr. Krete will lead a group talk once per week for four weeks for about an hour to inform you of the process, and so participants can support each other through the process.

Dr. Dana Krete earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine and Master of Acupuncture at National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon.

Registration with payment in advance is required.   The total cost of the program, including the detox kit and all meetings led by Dr. Krete, is $279.  More information at www.EssexWellnessCtr.com or call Essex Wellness Center at (860) 767-7770.

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State Reps Observe Safe Haven Day in Westbrook

Carney and McLState Representatives Devin Carney (pictured right) and Jesse MacLachlan (left) held a press conference on April 4 at Middlesex Hospital, Shoreline Medical Center in Westbrook to promote and discuss Safe Haven Day.

Last year, lawmakers designated April 4 of each year to be observed as Safe Haven Day to foster awareness of safe havens in Connecticut. The Safe Havens law, which passed in 2000, enables a distressed parent to anonymously leave an infant at a hospital emergency room without fear of prosecution for abandonment, up to 30 days after birth.

Carney (R-23) can be reached at devin.carney@housegop.ct.gov or (800) 842-1423 and MacLachlan (R-35) can be reached at jesse.maclachlan@housegop.ct.gov or at (800) 842-1423.

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Small Vessel Permits for 2016 at Bushnell Access Have Reached Maximum Capacity

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ESSEX — Bushnell Access maximum storage capacity of 75 small vessels has been reached. Applications received from this point forward will be placed on a wait list and checks will be returned to the applicants.

Bushnell Access is still open to use for those who wish to bring their craft for the day and take it away at the end of the day.  Should it be determined that additional vessels can be accommodated at some point during the season, which runs from April 1 to Nov. 30, additional permits may be issued.

Direct any inquiries to the Harbor Management Commission email address at HarborManagementCommission@EssexCT.gov.

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“Operatic Disasters,” a Free and Fascinating Lecture, June 4

Kuslan_James editOLD SAYBROOK – James Kuslan, opera devotee and popular dynamic speaker on operatic topics, will present a lecture entitled “Operatic Disasters” on Saturday, June 4, at 11 a.m. at the Acton Public Library. This event is sponsored by the library and the Guild of Salt Marsh Opera.

With the help of fascinating and some hilariously funny sound clips, Kuslan will explore the challenges of singing opera. According to Kuslan, “My objective is not to ridicule, but to demonstrate that the extreme difficulty of the art form means that an audience in the presence of a superb performance is, in reality, beholding a miracle.”

Kuslan graduated with an MFA from the Yale School of Drama.  He has consulted for the German classical music recording giant, Deutsche Grammophon.

“Operatic Disasters” at the Acton Public Library is free, open to the public and handicapped accessible. For additional information, call 860-388-2871. The Acton Library is at 60 Old Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook.

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Deep River Selectmen Make No Decision on First Selectman Vacancy, Town Department Heads Reporting to Democrat Angus McDonald Jr.

DEEP RIVER— The two remaining members of the board of selectmen, Democrat Angus McDonald Jr. and Republican David Oliveria, Thursday made no decision on appointing an interim first selectman to fill the vacancy created by the March 25 death of longtime Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith.

More than 30 residents filled the meeting room at town hall Thursday as the selectmen held their first meeting since Smith’s death. In a prepared statement, Oliveria said he and McDonald would be working together to manage the town until the appointment of an interim first selectman, who would serve the reminder of Smith’s unexpired 14th term ending on Nov. 20, 2017.

Oliveria said they hope to make an appointment “as soon as possible,” while adding that until then town department heads will be reporting to McDonald, who will be keeping late afternoon office hours at town hall beginning Tuesday.  State statute gives the two remaining selectmen 30 days to appoint an interim first selectman, a period that runs through at least April 22.

If Democrat McDonald and Republican Oliveria cannot agree on an appointment, the statute would also give Democratic elected officials, including Selectman McDonald, the tax collector and the registrar of voters, an opportunity to make an appointment.  McDonald said after Thursday’s brief special meeting that he is “interested” in serving as interim first selectman, but has not yet made a final commitment with the Deep River Democratic Town Committee to accept the appointment.

Elected with Smith in 2011, McDonald is a co-owner of the Angus McDonald Associates engineering firm. McDonald said he is discussing with colleagues at the firm whether he would be able to serve as interim first selectman for the next 20 months. McDonald said he is hopeful the selectmen could vote on an appointment at the board’s next regular meeting on April 12. “We have 30 days and we may need 30 days but I hope not,” he said. The appointment of either McDonald or Oliveria as interim first selectman would create a new vacancy on the board that would be filled under the statutory appointment process. Any appointment of an interim first selectman, or even a new member of the board, could be forced to a special election with a petition signed by at least five percent of the town’s total registered voters, or about 158 voter signatures. The petition would have to be filed with the town clerk within 15 days of any appointment.

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Public Advisory from the Essex Tree Warden

The emerald ash borer adult beetle

The emerald ash borer adult beetle

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) is advising all residents of Connecticut that the emerald ash borer (EAB – agrilus planipennis) has quickly spread throughout Connecticut, making it now part of the federal EAB quarantine. Residents should be aware of this invasive insect and the threat it poses to all ash trees in our community.

The emerald ash borer is a beetle in the buprestid family that is native to Asia.  First discovered in 2002 in Detroit, it has rapidly spread across the US.  It may have first been introduced via wood-packing materials and continued spreading by humans in everything from firewood to rustic crafts.  Because the beetle is a strong flier, it  can spread on its own as well.

CAES describes the adult beetle as metallic green, about ½ inch long. It feeds exclusively on ash trees in the genus Fraxinus.  Tiny, flat, round 1mm long eggs are laid in the bark crevices.  Seven to 10 days later, the eggs hatch and the young larvae begin to feed on the tree’s conducting tissues.  As they feed and grow, the larvae create distinctive tightly-winding ‘serpentine galleries.’  This process quickly stresses and girdles the ash tree.

The emerald ash borer larva

The emerald ash borer larva

During the winter the mature larvae remain in a pupal chamber and pupate in the spring.  The adult beetles emerge by chewing a distinctive 4mm wide D-shaped exit hole.  The adults feed on the margins of the ash foliage prior to mating.  The lifespan is 4-5 weeks, during which time a single female may lay upwards of 60 eggs.

It has been difficult to survey for this pest because of its small size. Some monitoring and trapping methods have been used including purple panel traps. Another is  “biosurveillance” by scientists and volunteers who monitor the nests of a native wasp that specifically hunts buprestids, including EAB.

The overall effect of the ash borer is the decline of the ash trees.  Infected trees are  attacked by woodpeckers who strip bark while trying to reach the larvae.  The eventual loss of ash trees will have ripple effects on other organisms including butterflies and moths as well as wood duck, bob white, purple finch, pine grosbeak and fox squirrels all of which eat the seeds of the ash tree.

To identify an ash tree look for compound leaves and opposite branching.  Ash trees have diamond patterned bark which provides distinct crevices.  Ash seeds are winged, resembling maple pinwheels.  Ash trees do not produce berries.  The ash tree is valued for its combination of strength and flexibility.  It is used as shovel handles, baseball bats and in construction of guitar bodies.

The D-shaped exit holes of the emerald ash borer in an ash tree

The D-shaped exit holes of the emerald ash borer in an ash tree

According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Connecticut is seeking to slow the spread of EAB by a quarantine to keep any infested ash materials from leaving Ct. and going to an area that is not infested.  The quarantine targets ash logs, hardwood firewood, yard waste and ash nursery stock.  Also, a ban on the importation of firewood into Ct. through New York or Massachusetts – unless it is properly certified as not coming from an infested area – has been instituted.

Individuals can help in the following ways:

  1. Know what an ash tree looks like and monitor the ash trees you are responsible for.
  2. Act quickly to report any ash trees that are declining and may pose a threat to people or structures.
  3. Be careful when moving firewood or young trees. Use locally obtained firewood.
  4. Notify the Tree Warden of concerns about street or park trees.

Private trees are the responsibility of the property owner.  DEEP encourages owners of ash trees to contact an arborist for further help in monitoring the status of your trees and to use the resources available at the CT Agricultural Experiment Station and DEEP.

According to the CAES, ash trees that are still healthy can be treated for and protected against EAB using commercially available pesticides.  Ash trees that are not treated will eventually die and should be preemptively removed.  Please contact your local arborist for expert advice.

 

The above information has been provided by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. For more information go to the following websites: www.emeraldashborer.info or www.ct.gov/deep or www.ct.gov/caes. Contact Augie Pampel, Essex Tree Warden at: augiepampel@att.net with any questions or concerns.

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Niantic Toastmasters Hold Open House, April 18

Niantic Toastmasters will hold an Open House on Monday, April 18, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Niantic Community Church, 170 Pennsylvania Ave., Niantic.

The club will be presenting a One Act play titled, “To Toast or Not Toast.”  Written by a club member and performed by club members, it shows what it’s like to be in a Toastmasters club. Afterwards there will be a facilitated discussion to answer any questions audience members may have, followed by a cast party with the players and refreshments.  This is a free event.

Toastmasters clubs give people a space to become confident communicators and learn the art of public speaking by doing it.  Twice a month, club members meet to deliver prepared or impromptu speeches, and work on aspects of public speaking such as body language or vocal variety.  Toastmasters clubs provide a safe environment for people who have something to say but might not have the confidence.  Members also learn how to give feedback to energize others to do better the next time.

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Marshview Gallery Exhibits Paintings by Maureen Tarbox in June

AOM 2016 06 Tarbox

OLD SAYBROOK — Maureen Tarbox, a resident of East Haddam, will be exhibiting her paintings at Marshview Gallery in Old Saybrook in June.

Tarbox moved to Connecticut in 2002 when she retired from teaching science. She began plein air painting because of the extraordinary light, beautiful scenery and many opportunities to attend art workshops and classes in southeast CT. She paints with a group called The Brushstrokes, who all share the love of nature and desire to try and recreate on canvas the beauty that surrounds us .

For the past 10 years she has developed her oil painting style  under the guidance of Noel Belton and other talented instructors. She is currently a member of the  Essex Art Association, the Middlesex Art Guild, Brushstrokes and the Connecticut River Watercolorists.

Tarbox loves to paint landscapes, seascapes, old buildings and anything with water. She loves the proximity to the many beaches, woods and historical towns.

All are welcome to attend the artist reception on Friday, June 10, from 5 to 7 p.m.  and meet the artist. Refreshments will be provided.

Marshview Gallery is located in the Estuary Center, 220 Main St., Old Saybrook.

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Tri-Town Youth Services Collects Diapers for Mothers in Need

tri town ysb

REGION 4 – Tri-Town Youth Services kicks off Diaper Drive for mothers in need. The agency is working with preschools in Region 4 to collect diapers from May 9 to May 31.  Diapers can be dropped off at Tri-Town, 56 High Street, Deep River, weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Collection boxes are also located at KinderCare in Essex; Schoolmates in Ivoryton; CDE Nursery School in Deep River; and Circle of Friends Montessori in Chester.

An adequate supply of diapers can cost over $100 per month, which is not feasible for some low-income families in our area. Babies are at risk of spending a day or longer in one diaper, leading to potential health risks.

Collected diapers will be donated to the Diaper Bank for distribution to families in need throughout Middlesex County. The Diaper Bank ensures that families living in poverty have an adequate supply of diapers for their infants and toddlers.  Their greatest needs are diapers in sizes 5 and 6.

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Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries Spring Appeal Welcomes Your Donations Year-Round

Volunteers at SSKP Old Saybrook Pantry.

Volunteers at SSKP Old Saybrook Pantry

AREAWIDE – “The food pantry changed my life. It made me believe again that God exists.” These words were recently written by a local resident, according to Patty Dowling, executive director of Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.

“In January one of our guests wrote this very heartfelt message. We asked her if we could share it with the community, so they could understand how much the pantry means to her and her family, and she said yes.”

For 27 years the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) has been providing groceries through five weekly pantry distributions and offering daily hot meals at eight local meal sites, providing help to over 8,000 residents last year. The towns served by SSKP are Old Saybrook, Essex, Old Lyme, East Lyme, Lyme, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River.

One out of ten coming to an SSKP pantry are seniors, many on a fixed income; others are disabled or suffering from physical or mental illness. Many are employed, but with wages too low to be self-sufficient. Over half of the pantry registrants last year were families of four or more, and 35 percent were children or teens.

According to Dowling, the number of those coming for help has risen steadily over the years. “Last year, for the first time, we distributed food for over 1 million meals,” she explained. “Recent data indicates a complicated economic and demographic future for many living on the shoreline.

“But despite these increases,” she added, “our shoreline community responds to the need. When we reach out for support to provide food and fellowship, so many have answered abundantly. To respond best to the current needs, and to prepare for what may be greater need, we are launching a new annual Spring Appeal.  We’re also contacting private foundations and corporate supporters.”

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries receives no direct state or federal funding, and operates with the support of 900 volunteers in partnership with local faith communities.

“We will continue to provide all who register at an SSKP pantry free groceries every week for everyone in their household, and a daily hot meal to those who attend our meal sites,” said Dowling. “Thank you for caring, and know your support gives your neighbors hope. They believe that someone has their back on their most difficult days, and they can see the presence of God in their lives.”

The SSKP Spring Appeal will be held through May 31. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 804, Essex, CT 06426 or online at www.shorelinesoupkitchens.org.

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Registration Opens for Madhatters Summer Theater Programs for Ages 6-18

AREAWIDE – Madhatters Theatre Company is currently accepting registration for its youth summer theater programs at Chester Meeting House.

The junior program, open to ages 6-12 years, will be “The Little Rascals, The Musical.” The program runs Monday through Friday, July 25 through July 29, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a performance on Friday.

The senior program, open to ages 13-18 years, is “The Roaring 20’s Musical.” The program runs Monday through Friday, Aug. 1 – 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a performance on Friday.

For further information and/or to register, e-mail: madhattersctc@aol.com or call (860) 395-1861. Information is also available at www.ctkidsonstage.com/madhatterstheatrecompany.

The Chester Meeting House is at 4 Liberty Street in Chester.

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Area Residents Pack Dick Smith Funeral Service at Chester Church

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St. Joseph RC Church, Chester, where hundreds of area residents turned out to participate in the funeral service for the late, longtime Deep River First Selectman Richard H. “Smitty” Smith.

CHESTER — St. Joseph RC Church was packed Thursday as hundreds of area residents turned out to participate in the funeral service for the late, longtime Deep River First Selectman Richard H. “Smitty” Smith.

The mass of Christian burial followed a three-hour wake and viewing Tuesday evening at Deep River Town Hall where more than 1,000 citizens turned out to file through the second floor auditorium to pay final respects to Smith, who died suddenly on March 25 at age 65. Smith, a Democrat first elected in 1989, was the longest serving chief elected official in Middlesex County, and one of the longest serving municipal elected leaders in the entire state.

Representatives of various organizations, including the police and Deep River Fife & Drum Corps., stand somberly outside Chester RC Church prior to the funeral service for Richard "Smitty" Smith. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Representatives of various organizations, including the police and Deep River Fife & Drum Corps., stand somberly outside Chester RC Church prior to the funeral service for Richard “Smitty” Smith. Photo by Kim Tyler.

The hour-long service had much of the pageantry of a state funeral, with a squad of Connecticut state troopers in full dress uniform and a police bagpiper, along with dozens of uniformed volunteer firefighters with the large ladder trucks from both the Deep River and Essex volunteer fire departments. Smith had also served as a part-time town police officer since 1973.

The sad task of removing the coffin from the hearse.  Photo by Kim Tyler.

The sad task of removing the coffin from the hearse. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Present were many of the current selectmen from area towns, but the crowd also included former first selectmen from towns such as Essex, Killingworth, and Old Lyme, who worked with Smith on regional issues during his long 26-year tenure. Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman was one of the speakers, describing Smith as a “cheerleader for economic development and a relentless advocate for small towns.” Wyman said Smith’s legacy would be, “Serve your community proudly.”

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Photo by Kim Tyler

Grieving town hall employees filled the front seats of the church, with Tax Collector Lisa Bibbiani and selectmen’s assistant Gina Sopneski speaking about their fond memories of Smith. Bibbiani said Smith was an elected leader, who was always “approachable to everyone,” adding, “Dick Smith was sincere, he was honest, he was loyal, and he was funny.”

After the service, with the bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace,” Smith was laid to rest in a plot at the cemetery that is part of the church property on Rte. 154.

 

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Farewell, Dick ... farewell.

Farewell, Dick … farewell.

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‘Discovery Sundays’ at Florence Griswold Museum

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One of the highlights of Discovery Sundays at the Florence Griswold Museum is an outdoor Art Cart that guides families to explore the grounds and its connection to the artists. Explorer Kits are designed for various ages and skill levels.

OLD LYME – Beginning Sunday, April 3, the Florence Griswold Museum invites visitors to shake off any leftover winter blues and celebrate the beginning of Discovery Sundays. In addition to the popular “Make-A-Painting” activities, where visitors of all ages use the museum’s supplies to create their own masterpieces, Discovery Sundays now include an outdoor Art Cart that guides families to explore the grounds and its connection to the artists who famously painted there.

In addition, seasonal buildings including the Chadwick Studio and the Rafal Landscape Center will open for the season. And who knows! With any luck you’ll find some pops of color starting in the garden!

The museum is open every Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. and all activities are included with admission ($10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $8 students). Children 12 and under are always free.

The museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme. For more information, visit www.FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org or call 860-434-5542 x 111.

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Hundreds Vigil for Late First Selectman Richard Smith, Selectmen to Meet Thursday to Discuss Succession

Candles are lit in honor of " a remarkable legacy to service, commitment, and dedication to the people of Deep River." Photo by Kim Tyler.

Candles are lit in honor of Dick Smith’s “… remarkable legacy to service, commitment, and dedication to the people of Deep River.” (Angus McDonald Jr.)  Photo by Kim Tyler.

DEEP RIVER — The town showed its affection and appreciation for the late First Selectman Richard H. “Smitty” Smith Monday as hundreds gathered at sunset around town hall in a vigil for the longtime municipal leader who died suddenly Friday at age 65.

Hundreds gathered at Deep River Town Hall yesterday evening to pay tribute to their beloved First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday afternoon.

Hundreds gathered at Deep River Town Hall Monday evening to pay tribute to their beloved First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday afternoon.

The vigil, which precedes the funeral for Smith Thursday at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph Church in Chester, came as the two remaining members of the board of selectman, Democrat Angus McDonald Jr. and Republican David Oliveria, scheduled a special meeting for Thursday to discuss the process for filling the vacancy for the remainder of Smith’s term that runs through November 2017.

A quiet, candlelit moment of contemplation on a life well lived.

A quiet, candlelit moment of contemplation on a life well lived. Photo by Kim Tyler.

McDonald, who joined Oliveria to meet with town hall employees Monday afternoon, said the special meeting that begins at 5:30 p.m. in town hall would review “temporary organizational changes to cover leadership in the coming month.” McDonald, who was first elected with Smith in 2011, said he and Oliveria are still discussing who would assume the full-time job of interim first selectman through the unexpired term. The appointment of either McDonald or Oliveria to the top job would also create a new vacancy on the board of selectman.

A boy sets a candle in remembrance of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away last Friday, March 25.

During the vigil, a boy places a candle on the town hall steps in remembrance of Deep River First Selectman Dick Smith, who passed away Friday, March 25.  Photo by Kim Tyler.

“Dick Smith leaves a remarkable legacy to service, commitment, and dedication to the people of Deep River,” McDonald said. “While we know we can never replace him, we have an obligation to our community to move quickly to fill the vacancy.”

Photo by Kim Tyler.

Candles light the faces of those gathered to remember Deep River First Selectman Richard “Smitty” Smith. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Town officials from both political parties joined elected officials from around the state in praising Smith, a Democrat whose 26-year tenure made him one of the longest serving municipal chief elected officials for both Middlesex County and the entire state. A South Carolina native who arrived in Connecticut around 1970, Smith was elected first selectman in 1989, and had been unopposed for a 14th consecutive term in the town election last fall. Smith had also served as a part-time town police officer since 1973.

Candles and roses are held in remembrance of Richard "Smitty" Smith at Monday night's vigil. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Candles and roses are held in remembrance of Richard “Smitty” Smith at Monday night’s vigil. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Oliveria, first elected to the board in 2009, said Smith had done “an incredible job as first selectman running all aspects of the town.” Town Treasurer Tom Lindner, a Republican who was elected to the part-time position in 1989, said Smith was “always there for everybody in Deep River.”

State Senator Phil Miller addresses the vigil participants.

State Rep. Phil Miller speaks at Monday’s vigil. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Speakers at the vigil, where residents of Deep River and other nearby towns held lighted candles and roses in honor of the longtime town leader, recalled Smith’s tireless dedication to the town and its people. Jonathan Kastner, the first selectman’s assistant and friend, said Smith was “a problem solver who somehow found a way to keep adversaries from being too adversarial.” State Rep. Phil Miller, a former first selectman of Essex, said Smith was “a role model for anyone in any kind of public service.”

Photo by Kim Tyler.

Remembering a leader who Sen. Phil Miller described as, “a role model for anyone in any kind of public service.”  Photo by Kim Tyler.

Smith built a record of accomplishment that changed and improved Deep River during his 26 years as first selectman. There is the row of fully occupied industrial buildings at the Plattwood Park Industrial Area off Rte. 80, a 20-year- development process where Smith earned statewide recognition for using state and federal grant funds to construct buildings for small or start-up businesses as a way to help grow the town’s tax base. One of Smith’s most recent accomplishments was a Main Street redevelopment effort that began in 2005, and concluded in 2009 with construction of a Walgreen’s pharmacy on the former Deep River Inn parcel, along with various streetscape improvements for the entire length of Main Street.

Photo by Kim Tyler.

Richard “Smitty” Smith: In Memoriam.  Photo by Kim Tyler.

State statute gives the two remaining selectmen up to 30 days from March 26, the day after Smith’s death, to appoint an interim first selectman who would serve until November 2017. The appointment could be forced to a special election by a petition with signatures from five percent of the town’s total voter registration, or about 158 voter signatures, that must be submitted within 15 days after any appointment to fill the vacancy.

Roses in remembrance of Richard "Smitty" Smith. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Roses in remembrance of Richard “Smitty” Smith. Photo by Kim Tyler.

Editor’s Note: Deep River resident and professional photographer Kim Tyler, who graciously supplied all of these photos to ValleyNewsNow.com for publication, has also generously agreed to make many of the photos that she took at the vigil available to our readers at no charge.  We applaud her wonderful act of public service.  The photos will be uploaded later this evening and we will provide a link to them at that time.  For more information about Kim Tyler Photography, visit ktphoto.net

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Linares Hosts Town Hall Meeting in Chester

State Senator (R) Art Linares

State Senator (R) Art Linares

Sen. Art Linares hosted a Town Hall Meeting yesterday evening at the Chester Town Hall Community Room.

Linares had invited the public to hear the latest update from the State Capitol and to have their questions answered.

 

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CT Legislators Support Study to Preserve Plum Island From Commercial Development

Aerial voew of Plum Island lighthouse. (From Preserve Plum Island website)

Aerial view of Plum Island lighthouse. (From Preserve Plum Island website)

OLD SAYBROOK — Last Thursday, March 24, at a press conference in Old Saybrook, a triumvirate of Congressional legislators from Connecticut, State Senator Richard Blumenthal and US Representatives Joe Courtney (D-2nd District) and Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd District) confirmed their support for a study to determine the future of Plum Island located in Long Island Sound.

Members of the Plum Island Coalition — which has some 65 member organizations all dedicated to preserving the island — were in attendance to hear the good news.

The island still houses a high-security, federal animal disease research facility, but the decision has already been taken to move the facility to a new location in Kansas with an opening slated for 2022. The current facility takes up only a small percentage of the land on the island and significantly for environmentalists, the remainder of the island has for years been left to nature in the wild.

In supporting a federal study on the future of Plum Island, Sen. Blumenthal said, “This study is a step towards saving a precious, irreplaceable national treasure from developers and polluters. It will provide the science and fact-based evidence to make our case for stopping the current Congressional plan to sell Plum Island to the highest bidder.”

He continued, “The stark truth is the sale of Plum Island is no longer necessary to build a new bioresearch facility because Congress has fully appropriated the funds. There is no need for this sale – and in fact, Congress needs to rescind the sale.”

Congress, however, still has a law on the books that authorizes the sale of Plum Island land to the highest bidder. Therefore, opponents of the sale will have the burden of convincing Congress to change a law that is currently in place.

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